HEALTH + WELLNESS 11 stories on drugs, alcohol, mental and physical health at Westlake
Westlake High School
March 24, 2014
4100 Westbank Drive Austin, Texas 78746
Special education kids improve life skills with district program
10 On the right track Junior Will Hunter’s car after his drunk driving accident on Dec. 7, 2013.
Michael Bittar uses his radio-receiving hearing aid to listen during a conversation. courtesy photo
The 512 Oracles keep it real outside WHS.
A look at the life of recently honored track coach Mark Hurst
26 They got the beat
Local teenage rap group creates music, grows fanbase
40 Intoxicated Truth comes crashing down on survivor of drunk driving accident
60 What to watch
Your guide to finding great lesserknown series on Netflix
Editors-in-Chief Tim Whaling cover photo manipulation by Cade Ritter, Tim Whaling, Marco Scarasso, Ben Wallace and Andy Brown
The Featherduster, the newsmagazine of Westlake High School, attempts to inform and entertain in a broad, fair and accurate manner on subjects which concern the readers. The publication also seeks to provide a forum of ideas and opinions between the staff of the newsmagazine, the faculty, the student body and the local community about issues presented. All material produced and published by The Featherduster staff is copyrighted and cannot be reproduced without the writer’s consent or that of the editors. Content decisions rest in the hands of the staff, despite the Supreme Court’s ruling in the case of Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier. Opinions expressed in the columns that appear
in The Featherduster do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the entire staff, the school administration or the adviser. The staff encourages letters to the editor as an avenue for expressing the opinions of the readers. All letters must be signed to be considered for publication. Due to space limitations, not all letters will be published, and the editorial board reserves the right to edit them for purposes of placement. No material will be printed that is libelous, advocates an illegal activity or which the editorial board deems is in poor taste. The restriction includes letters to the staff, advertising and anything else the board feels presents an inappropriate message.
Andy Brown Marco Scarasso Ben Wallace
Brains + Brawn
Asst. Georgina Kuhlmann
Marketing Jacob Prothro Cierra Smith
Peyton Richardson Asst. Colleen Pletcher Emily Martin Asst. Margaret Norman Asst. Kathryn Revelle
People + Places
Sara Phillips Asst. Elizabeth Emery Asst. Jack Stenglein
Trends + Traditions Caitlyn Kerbow Asst. Madeline Dupre Asst. Michelle Fairorth Asst. Olivia Kight
Rants + Raves Katelyn Connolly Rachel Cooper
Nikki Humble Alexis Huynh ZZ Lundburg
Business Manager Art Editor: Michaela Moss Editor: Ariana Gomez Reyes Alex Charnes
Phographers Editor: Tim Whaling Nick Appling Cade Ritter Shelby Westbrook Lucy Wimmer
Reporters Nelson Aydelotte Drew Brown Sophia Ho Cooper Kerbow Sabrina Knap Nikki Lyssy Zhouie Martinez Monica Rao Jack Speer Sage Sutton Sarah Tucker David Tulkoff Jack Wallace Brian Wieckowski Michael Wiggin Micah Williams Ananya Zachariah
Adviser Deanne Brown
FINDING B INDEPENDENCE
brains + brawn
Eanes special education programs teach life skills
“Every student has specific strengths and abilities, and we want to accentuate that.” —special education coordinator Matt Zemo
d Ca ter Rit
Megan Lee makes a yarn art piece while watching a movie on her iPad. The room for arts and crafts is a popular place to hang out at ATS.
4 brains + brawn
stores while others find joy volunteering for animal shelters, at veterinarians’ offices or the Capital Area Food Bank. “One [student] works at Hospice of the Hills,” Pickett said. “She delivers flowers to the dying people; she makes their day.” Some students at ATS take classes at ACC in the hopes of becoming more employable. Twenty-year-old Michael Bittar is one of those students. Michael has a hearing disability, and in order for him to listen to lectures, each of his professors wears a special microphone clipped to the front of his or her shirt that sends audio to a pair of headphones that Michael is wearing. Taking these classes will make it much easier for Michael to find a paying job that he will enjoy and stick with. “I’m trying to get into hospitality management,” Michael said. “I’m a people-person.”
room for dessert. “We have a lot of cooking lessons going on,” Kat said. “[On] Valentine’s Day, we made sugar cookies and [cut them into] little hearts and put icing on them.” On top of teaching healthy habits, the staff at ATS works to find occupations for their students. They aid them by determining their interests, and by helping them develop and sharpen their job interview skills. One student at ATS entered a Veterinarian Tech program at Austin Community College and now works in a paid position at a local animal hospital. Another student is also enrolled in ACC and is currently studying hospitality management. The students’ schedules are constructed to mimic what those of an average working person’s are like. “In a typical week they’ll work about 20 hours,” Pickett said. “Our whole goal is to try to make their week look like how it’s going to look when they age out of here at 22.” The 28 students at ATS have jobs all over the city of Austin. Many are paid employees at restaurants, department stores and grocery
he Capital Metro bus comes to a screeching halt in front of the bus stop, and 19-year-old Kat Bartek calmly steps on, finding her way to an open seat. A task that once instigated feelings of anxiety and nervousness is now routine and simple because of a program in the Eanes Independent School District. After high school, people with special needs in Westlake are learning and mastering new skills to utilize in their daily lives at EISD’s school for learning impaired adults, Adult Transition Services. ATS, originally called the 19+ program, was designed to help students, ages 19-22, develop skills necessary in everyday life — skills that most people don’t think twice about, like grocery shopping. The building was opened in March 2012 and is located adjacent to Hill Country Middle School and has had tremendous success in the past year. The students in ATS learn necessary skills like cooking, which is made easy for them with the sizable, wheelchair-accessible kitchen inside the building. “They learn how to make sandwiches, mac and cheese and buffalo wings; they learn how to grill fish on the stove,” instructor Pegi Pickett said. Pickett has worked in EISD for 14 years and for 12 of those she has been diligently working in this program. “They are all pretty proficient in using the microwave, too, and cook personal pizzas. Most of them eat healthy [meals] with fruit or a salad. Once they see how healthy the staff eats, they try to model our menus. Our building is a ‘no soda zone’ so they drink water, Gatorade or juice.” The students work on maintaining a balanced and nutritious diet, but they still leave
Though the students try their hardest every day to succeed and excel in everything they do, the staff ensures that it’s not “all work and no play” for the students of ATS. “They all have memberships at the YMCA,” Pickett said. “[The students also] go out every Friday into the community; we call it a community-based instruction.” During these weekly field trips, the students partake in many different activities such as touring the capital, going to ACL, volunteering or exploring Zilker Park. “Most of us volunteer at the Austin Animal Center and some of us take care of dogs and some of us take care of cats,” Kat said. “What we do is feed them, give them water and we also socialize with them.” The students are also taught to navigate the city entirely by themselves. “The reason we located here is because the bus stop is right across the street so they can access the city independently,” Pickett said. “We do metro training and try to teach them how to get around the city completely independently by the time they leave [this program].”
ALL ABOUT ATS
28 typical jobs at ...
years at current facility
animal shelters grocery stores students
Kat Bartek smiles for a portrait during her interview at ATS.
Using the kitchen facilities provided at the ATS building, Michael Bittar makes himself lunch. In preparing students for a more independent life, important skills, like cooking, are taught.
Before students reach ATS, however, they must graduate from Westlake High School’s special education program which also excels in teaching independence, creativity and self management, and is extremely supportive of its students. “The expectations that we have for the students are the same, regardless of if they receive special education services or not, and there is support from the community, school board and administration, so that [makes for] a successful program,” said Matt Zemo, a special education coordinator at Westlake High School, Hill Country Middle School and West Ridge Middle School. Students with the need for special education share schedules very similar to their fellow regular education students; it’s completely based on their personal abilities and depends on the level of need a student has. All students in school receive general education like algebra, English and biology, regardless of disability, but there may be a student who needs significant modifications to their curriculum, so they would enroll in a class called something like Algebra Modified. At Westlake, one of the goals of the special education program is to respect all students and treat them as individuals. “Some students that access a modified curriculum for math may be in Pre-AP English,” Zemo said. “We try to make sure that their strengths are highlighted. Because of the wide range of skills students learn in the programs at Westlake and ATS, their characters develop tremendously. “I personally have changed; I feel a lot happier here,” Kat said. “I feel more independent and I feel like I have accomplished a lot here.” “It is a fantastic opportunity for them to transition from finishing their high school academics to living as an independent adult while they pursue competitive employments,” Behavior Support teacher, Kathy Loden said. Although many of the students still end up living with their parents after leaving ATS, their future is made so much brighter if they are able to find a lasting job through the program and keep the valuable skills that they have gained. Though the students age out of the program at 22, they continuously work to stay active in the community and contribute to society. “The goal is to get them a job that they’ll like and that they’ll keep when they leave,” Pickett said. “I keep in touch with kids who left 12 years ago and I feel like I’ve done my job if they still have the job that we got them.” —Ananya Zachariah and Sarah Tucker
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Tricks of the
trade Westlake athletes showcase their talents, experiences as high school players AUSTIN FAGERBERG Sport: Soccer Grade: Junior Years on varsity: 2 Height: 5’7’’ Years playing sport: 15 Spirit animal: White tiger Team/individual accomplishments: First Team All District Favorite thing about the sport: “The emotion that goes with training with a team every day for a common goal, and then having all the work pay off when you win.” Memorable moment when playing sport: “Freshman year when we came back from a 0-2 to tie Cibolo Steel when [graduate Jasper Bullock] went on a ‘soccer safari’ and scored with 2 minutes left.” Future plans: Play college soccer
Nick Appling brains + brawn westlakefeatherduster.com
Sport: Tennis Grade: Junior Years on varsity: 3 Height: 5’5’’ Years playing sport: 6 Spirit animal: Missy (my dog) Team/individual accomplishments: Won the deciding match against Lake Travis two years in a row, team District champions 3 years in a row, team Regional finalists 2 years in a row, girls doubles District champion 2012 Favorite thing about sport: I’ve never been incredibly athletic, but tennis is such a mental game that you can beat a ton of people by simply outsmarting them or getting them angry. Memorable moments: “Winning the third set in a tiebreaker to beat Lake Travis as a freshman. It was such a close match, and that win was so fulfilling.”
Sport: Rugby Grade: Junior Years on varsity: 2 Height: 6’3’’ Years playing sport: 4 Spirit animal: Dingo Team/individual accomplishments: Played for Team Texas, won the Man of the Match award twice while playing for Team Texas, West Van Team Captain, All-American, President of Westlake Rugby Favorite thing about sport: “The camaraderie the team builds. It’s not like any other sport. It’s Rugby man, takes a certain man to play.” Memorable moments: “Winning Provincials (State) three years in a row back in Vancouver. ”
VICTORIA EDWARDS Sport: Swimming Grade: Freshman Years on varsity: 1 Height: 5’5’’ Years playing sport: 10 Spirit animal: Cat Nicknames: Pickles Team/individual accomplishments: Winning State in 100 fly and medley relay Favorite thing about sport: “Train insane or remain the same.” Memorable moment: “Going to junior nationals in California with my amazing team. I got 10th in the nation for girls 18 years and under. I made a lot of memories with my club team. Even though we didn’t have time to go anywhere, we bonded more and got to support each other at our big meet.” Future Plans: Swim for D1 college
KENDALL RITCHIE Sport: Soccer Grade: Junior Years on varsity: 3 Height: 5’4’’ Years playing sport: 14 Spirit animal: Gazelle Nicknames: Ritchie, KR, shorty, Kritch Team/individual accomplishments: Team ranked #1 in nation, District champs 3 years running, first team all District, assist leader 2013 season Favorite thing about sport: “My favorite thing about soccer is that I get to spend it with people who love it just as much as I do. It makes it so much more enjoyable when you’re with your best friends having fun.” Memorable moment: “When we beat Garland Sachse last year after regulation, double overtime, and PKs. That moment made every down and back, every snake worth it. That feeling of being on top of the world was so memorable and I will never forget it.” Future Plans: play college soccer
Kick back with The Featherduster as we talk to lacrosse captain junior Zoë Solis
How long have you been on varsity?
What's it like being a captain?
I've been on varsity for the past three years. I started when I was a freshman.
It’s so much fun. During games it has forced me to pay much more attention to the team as a whole, and I’ve been able to learn a lot more about us playing strong together.
What was your favorite moment during a game?
How do you balance schoolwork and lacrosse?
There was one game when I got the ball on the opposite end of the field, and I ran it down the field. I was so scared because I really thought I would miss it or that someone would come and defend me or I would run into someone because I was so focused on the goal. But I took a shot, and it was one of the only shots that I made that year, so it felt really good.
I usually end up going to bed at two or three in the morning after lacrosse practice, just doing homework. I wouldn't exactly say I balance homework very well, but I get them both done.
Why did you choose lacrosse?
My friend played lacrosse when we were in middle school, and she was trying to recruit people to join the team, and I thought I’d try it. Plus my brothers had already started playing lacrosse so I was already familiar with it. I just thought it was fun. So few people are quick to choose lacrosse that I always had that opportunity to play. And my brothers played it so we practiced together when I first started. —Sarah Tucker
What's your position?
I play midfield defense wing and low defense. Defense wing or d-wing is when you either start the draw on the circle or the restraining line. Your primary job is to be a defender, but you have another d-wing and one of you always goes over and takes the offensive spot that’s open when the ball is at the other team’s goal.
Boys D1 lacrosse players share love of game Defense
“This is my seventh season. I like the time I spend with my teammates and the friendships. To get ready for games I just try to focus up on what I have to get done.” —captain senior Ben Zook
“My favorite part of the game is right before the face-off when everything is about to start. Before games I usually listen to music and try to concentrate on the game.” —captain senior Matt Rockwell
“I have a billion superstitions, but here’s a couple: if I have a good game I wear the same socks the next game I play in and eat the same meal I did before the game.” —junior Jake Nathan
“I’ve played since fourth grade. I like hanging out with the team during practice. I don't really do anything game day. I just show up ready to play.” —senior Miller Egan
Aurasma by Drew Brown 8 brains + brawn westlakefeatherduster.com
photos by Tim Whaling, quotes collected by Drew Brown
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FD Battle of the Bands Westlake High School
November 12, 2013 4100 Westbank Drive Austin, Texas 78746
said. “He thought that boys and girls sports were were equally as important, and that wasn’t the case at most schools then. “He made the ‘mistake’ one time in my first year at Westlake of asking me to come over for dinner,” Hurst said. “[I went that night] and I really never left. So when he got sick, I felt like it was my job to take care of him after his stroke, because he took care of me for so long.” Then, pointing at the Lay-Z-Boy I was sitting on, Hurst, fighting through tears, said, “His wife brought that chair over because she bought it for Ebbie to use after his stroke, but he didn’t get to use it much. She brought it over and I slept on it for many, many weeks. He was a special man. Our athletic department, and our community wouldn’t be the same without him.” Ebbie Neptune built the foundation for the Westlake football dynasty that emerged in the late 1980s and ‘90s. In 1984, he led the Chaps to an undefeated regular season, and in 1985, the Chaps went all the way to the Semi-Finals. Hurst remained on the staff following the 1987 promotion of Ron Schroeder. Under Schroeder, Westlake went on to become the winningest team in Texas during the 1990s, and even won a State Championship in 1996. At the title game was Kenneth Dabbs, who coached Westlake in its inaugural season way back in 1969. “It had been his dream all these years for us to get to that point,” Hurst said. “It was incredible to go out to Texas Stadium and play there, with him in the stands.” 2009 marked the 30th year that Hurst had taught at Westlake. He’d received other job offers throughout the years, but he never thought about leaving. “I loved Austin, loved Westlake, the high quality of everything,” Hurst said. “I’d had a bunch of friends that had gone other places, and then spent their whole careers just trying to get back to Westlake.” High up in Chaparral Stadium, inside the press box and behind the booth from which football games are broadcast on those fall Friday nights, there is a sketching of Ebbie Neptune.
During the Chap Relays Feb. 22, coach Mark Hurst and his family stand in front of the new sign which dedicates the track in his name. Hurst has taught at Westlake for 35 years .
brains + brawn westlakefeatherduster.com
In the sketch he’s smiling and looking down upon the field that’s named after him. The frame bears a quote of his, “It’s a great day to be a Chaparral.” Mark Hurst drew the picture, along with other sketches of different Westlake icons. “I got back into doing portraits a few years ago,” Hurst said. “I did one of Toody Byrd, Ebbie, Coach Long, Kenneth Dabbs and Coach Schroeder. It’s my bucket list to get one of everybody that I’ve worked for and everybody that has something named after them at Westlake.” As a pottery and beginning art studio teacher for more than 30 years, Hurst utilized his art skills daily. While football and art may be considered complete opposites, with football being violent, raw and emotional, while art is more technical and peaceful, Hurst thinks that some of the skills overlap. The unusual mix of passions reflect themselves in Hurst’s demeanor. Calm and cerebral, he takes a different approach to coaching than some of his peers. He never yells, never lets the emotions take control of him, instead preferring to stand back and analyze. Westlake graduate and former quarterback Mark Mangum was a member of the 1985 and 1986 football teams, where he got to know Hurst. He now lives in the Westlake area, and his son sophomore Max Mangum has been coached by Hurst in football and track. “Coach Hurst is passionate about those he coaches and genuinely cares about them,” Mangum said. “It’s reassuring knowing that Max will experience the right balance between being driven to reach his peak performance potential as an athlete while also being genuinely cared for as young man.” It all started with a pain in the back. In April of 2013, Mark Hurst’s back was bothering him. As a former athlete he believed the pain was muscular, just part of getting older. He went to a doctor, who treated the area, but it didn’t help. Hurst went to another doctor a few weeks later, who told him that something was wrong. “He checked me out and said it was stage four colon cancer,” Hurst said. “I didn’t know much about cancer [and the stages] but they told me that it meant that mine had spread to the lungs and liver.” He couldn’t believe it. He’d always been healthy and never had any serious medical problems. He thought there was no way he could get colon cancer. “I thought if I was going to get cancer, I’d get skin cancer,” Hurst said. “I always thought that part of my luck was that I Tim Whaling
stayed healthy.” He went through six weeks of radiation and chemotherapy, which caused the cancer to nearly disappear, but also caused him to lose a significant amount of weight. “I got down to like 130-something [pounds] from 190,” Hurst said. “I’m back up to about 170 now.” Word spread throughout the Westlake community in part due to Hurst’s wife, Judy, who created a web page named “Team Hurst” which gives updates about Hurst’s condition. “Judy started it to let people know what was going on, so she didn’t have to be on the phone all the time talking to people [inquiring about me],” Hurst said. Hurst felt like the community really helped him and his family. Friends gave him rides to treatment, old players checked in on him and neighbors brought the family food. Most of all, it helped Hurst to keep his spirits up, knowing that there was a whole community who cared for him and was praying for him. “I’m not a religious man, but I know that the well wishes and the prayers did work,” Hurst said. “It perked up my attitude to hear from all these people. It’s a blessing to be a part of a community like this. That’s what I appreciate the most.” It’s been nearly a year since Hurst was first diagnosed with cancer. His battle against it is still ongoing — he’s still going through radiation therapy and chemo, but he feels a lot better now than he did at the beginning. “I think when you’re sick, you don’t know how sick you are, but the people around you do,” Hurst said. “I didn’t really know until after the fact that it was bad, but it’s better now.” He thinks he’s winning the fight, but he still wants to remain cautious. Hurst knows that his struggle is long from over and that he never really can stop fighting. “I think I’ve got this thing beat,” Hurst said. “I just don’t want the side effects to [get me]. That’s what happens to so many other cancer patients — the chemotherapy just beats their body down, and they get pneumonia or something because their immune systems aren’t great.” Now that he is in better health, Hurst has been mulling his return. He couldn’t teach during the fall semester, but since January, he’s been overseeing track practice nearly every day. “I’m hoping to teach two [art] classes next year,” Hurst said. “If the numbers work out and I’m feeling well enough, that’s what I’ll do.” On Jan. 29, in a closed meeting, the school board unanimously passed a measure to name the track after Mark Hurst. The news was kept secret from Hurst. In fact, nobody in the Hurst family, save for Hillary Hurst, Mark’s daughter and a sophomore at the University of Texas, knew about the vote. Those who knew had decided to make the announcement later during the annual Chap Relays, when Hurst would be overseeing
BY THE NUMBERS
A quick look at the Chap Relay Results
Number of events
168 18 211
Boys first place total score
Number of schools who competed
Nicole Summerset jumped 12’0” and Tommy Hampton jumped 13’0” to take third place
Girls first place total score
1:12.24 Alexas Duran, Valerie Morrow, Victoria Somerville and Ava Gruzen’s second place time in the girls Hurdle Relay
Robert Dutton, Max Mangum, John Saxton and Jose Castillo’s winning time in the boys Hurdle Relay
300 M Hurdles High Jump 14:17.32
Robert Dutton placed first place with a time of 39.87. Sydne Fowler took second in the girls race with a time of 45.90. Valerie Morrow placed fifth with her time of 49.20. Fifth place boys Distance Medley Relay time of Bonner Garrsion, Garett Downs, Jason Van De Zande and Jacob Slaugther
Shelby Westbrook’s Shelby Westbrook first place distance in shot put
41’1” Rhodes Legg’s second place distance in triple jump
Sixth place Distance Medley Relay time of Caroline Otto, Sarah Zagorin, Katherine Swallow and Fey Matamoros.
Michelle Irvin and Aubry Hinners tied for first with a 5’2” jump. Corinne Grandcolas took fourth with a jump of 5’0”. In the boys division Cade Burlison and Tyler Boykin shared the second place title, each jumping 6’0”.
4x100 M Relay
The girls team of Kenna Stanley, Nicole Summersett, Lauren Turner and Corinne Grandcolas placed second with a time of 50.15.
1. Junior Nick Scott starts his relay race at the Chap Relays. 2. Junior Aubry Hinners competes in the high jump at the Chap Relays on Feb. 22. "I like high jump because it makes you mentally tough," Aubry said. "It is just you against the bar and it is easy to see yourself improve." 3. During the 4x100 M relay junior Lauren Turner hands the baton to senior Corinne Grandcolas.
Took first in the 3200 M run with a time of 9:43.30. Ben placed second in the 1600 M run with a time of 4:22.00.
the event. Feb. 22 was a warm day, sunny with temperatures in the high 70s, perfect weather for a track meet. As athletes warmed up for their respective events on the field turf of Ebbie Neptune Field, Hurst’s family gathered in the corner of the stadium. Hurst’s mother was there, having come all the way from West Texas for the event, as was Neptune’s widow, Hurst’s wife, Judy, and their two daughters, Hillary and Abby. As Hurst was speaking with a former student, he saw his family walk from where they’d been hiding, trying to maintain the element of surprise. A perplexed look came across his face. And all around him, former students, colleagues, some of them who he hadn’t seen in years, came out of the woodwork. The PA announcer came over the loudspeaker. “When Mark Hurst first came to Westlake in 1979, he did so as a young man, right out of Texas Tech. In the 35 years since, he’s touched the lives of many Westlake students, both in the arena of competition and in the classroom.” Hurst has never enjoyed being the center of attention, and as he stood on the 50-yard line, he looked down at his shoes with an awkward grin on his face. Thousands of people looked on, and the PA announcer continued. Citing his numerous accomplishments as a track coach and the impact he’s made on athletes for the past 35 years, the PA announcer proclaimed the track to be named after him. At the conclusion of the PA announcer’s speech, two men took a piece of plywood off of the wall in the far end zone by the scoreboard, unveiling a red sign that marked the track’s new name. The Hursts walked to the middle of the track, on the straightaway right in front of the home stands. Hurst, using a pair of shears that had been used by his mentor Ebbie Neptune at the dedication of Ebbie Neptune Field some 12 years earlier, cut the ribbon. He had told me earlier that he “didn’t know if he’d made a significant impact in anyone’s life out here, because everyone had it so good.” But as he walked to the sign that bore his name, he was mobbed by people, some of whom he hadn’t seen in years. Ravens kicker Justin Tucker, who Hurst had coached at Westlake was there. There were dozens of his former students and athletes all coming to show their support for him, to show how he’d made an impact in their lives. “It felt like a scene from that old movie ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’ with Jimmy Stewart,” Hurst said. “It’s amazing how many special people have come out of our lives during the span of 30 years. It really proves all of us have an effect on others, especially teachers and coaches.” Ron Schroeder wasn’t surprised by the hordes of people who showed up to support Hurst. “Mark Hurst bleeds red, white and blue,” Schroeder said. “He is Mr. Westlake.” —Jacob Prothro
100 meters Brooke Holle took first in the 100 M dash with a time of 12.50. In the 100 M hurdles Sydne Fowler placed first. In the boys 4x100 M relay Ryan Markus, Max Mangum, Mitchell Myers and Been Zook took second with a time of 43.23.
Veteran coach stands strong in face of illness; honored at Chap Relays
ark Hurst is sitting on a couch in his living room,
surrounded by mementos from his coaching career. To his right is a framed collection of pictures, hats, newspaper clippings and tickets. To his left is a football signed by the 1996 State Championship team. His face is thinned out and weathered, and as he talks his voice sounds gravelly. “This whole experience, it’s almost been like having your own eulogy, except you’re alive to hear it,” he says. Certain people, it seems, are born to do a specific task. Babe Ruth was born to hit a baseball. Peyton Manning was born to be a quarterback. Bill Gates was born to redefine technology. Born into a family that had roots in the football programs of West Texas, it’s easy to see that Mark Hurst was always meant to coach. “I come from a family that was all coaches,” Hurst said. “My dad was a coach for 40-something years. He was my high school football coach. His half-brother was a coach in the 1940s after World War II. My mom’s brother was a coach.” But growing up, he didn’t want to be a coach. He wanted to be an architect, or maybe an artist. “I spent my first few years at Texas Tech taking art classes,” Hurst said. “Then I realized I wanted to be where the action was.” So just like that, he followed in the footsteps of those before him, and after graduating college in 1979, he took a job coaching football and track at a small school in West Austin named Westlake High School. “I had never even heard of Westlake,” Hurst said. “I landed here because my dad knew the head coach’s brother.” Back then, Westlake was relatively new on the scene. The school was only 10 years old and had an enrollment of 800 when Hurst
first stepped onto its campus. It catered to an eclectic mix of students from all walks of life: kids of ranchers, cedar choppers and the occasional children of local college professors. But the area was changing. A new highway was being built, its roadway carving through the limestone hills and cedar stands; and at it terminus on the southern banks of Lake Austin, a bridge was under construction — a bridge that would link the older areas of Hyde Park and North Austin to the virgin lands of Westlake, lands that were primed for development. They told Bobby Etheridge it wasn’t a football school — that you just couldn’t win at Westlake. Time and time again, the Westlake head coach had heard it. And for the most part, it was true. Westlake had had trouble competing on the gridiron during the 1970s. Its reputation was more of a “country club school.” “They’d been open for 10 years when I got
there and they’d basically just had success in golf, tennis, swimming and cross country,” Hurst said. “Football just hadn’t turned the corner.” In 1979, Hurst’s first year, that started to change. Led by Etheridge, the team went 9-2 and won its first ever District Championship. Hurst was in charge of the team’s defensive backs and kickers, and his star pupil was Kelly Gruber, who played for the Toronto Blue Jays on their 1992 championship team. “He could’ve gone to Texas to play football,” Hurst said. “But he took the baseball route and that worked out alright for him. He ended up being one of the highest-paid players for a while.” Before the 1982 season, former assistant Ebbie Neptune took over as the head coach. Neptune had a tremendous impact on Hurst, and the two would remain friends until Neptune’s death in 2012. “He was the heart of this athletic department for the whole time he was here,” Hurst
Coach Mark Hurst cuts the ribbon at the dedication of the track which now bears his name. His wife, Judy, and their daughters, Abby and Hillary, were with him for the celebration, as was 2008 graduate Justin Tucker (right) who now kicks for the Baltimore Ravens. Tomi Keah, ‘97 (left) and Bradfield Heiser, ‘98 (background) look on.
Senior Magdalena Contreras practices at the Lee and Joe Jamail Swim Center Jan. 8. In addition to the school team, Magdalena swims for Texas Longhorn Aquatics.
At a Westlake practice, junior Fernanda Contreras practices her forehand. Fernanda also attends the St. Stephens Tennis Acadamy.
g n i c n a l a B act
Athletes learn to manage club, school team sports Westlake students have the opportunity to play on many club sports teams which can have a crucial role in an athlete’s high school career. Many club teams are designed to help athletes improve their game for their school season, give more opportunities for competitive experience and get them ready for college sports. However, sometimes club teams can interfere with their school counterparts. Athletes who play club and athletes who just do school are separated even though they are on the same team, the chance of injury due to overuse increases and practice and competition schedules may conflict. “Juggling club and school swimming isn’t that hard,” varsity swimmer freshman Will Thomas said. “I feel that the coaches handle it well, even though it can get stressful because the seasons overlap.” The school and club swim seasons run simultaneously, which causes some practice scheduling conflicts between the two. New swim coach Eric Capolupo has worked hard to try and juggle club swimmers and their commitment to club teams with his goals for the school team. Capolupo tried to implement his plan to have swimmers practice more with the school team, which is impossible for club swimmers who are practicing before and after school for approximately 15 hours per week. Club swimming goes year round, and swimmers are very committed to these club teams. Some parents and students were not pleased that he was deciding to change things that had been in place for many years. “Personally I feel that a swimmer can be very successful as an individual through club swimming, but for the ultimate success of a high school swim team, it would be better for all of those swimmers to practice and compete together on one team for the development and success of that team,” Capolupo said. “Part of the goal is to have a
program that all swimmers value, and having a situation where all club swimmers and non-club swimmers value being a part of this program.” Capolupo originally wanted club swimmers to focus more on school swimming, so that the athletes would become more of a team. Capolupo decided that for this year, club swimmers only have to come to school practices once a week, instead of more, which was his original plan coming into this year. However, some swimmers argue that club helps develop stronger relationships with people who are already on their school team. “Club swimming is year round, and you swim 15 hours a week,” Thomas said. “You spend more time with people on your club team, so you know them better. So when you join school swimming, you already know people from your club team. Club swimming is definitely important. It helps a lot with getting faster, and it helps a lot with meets.” In volleyball, unlike swimming, the club season starts after the school season ends, which helps players focus on the regular school season. Athletes who are in club generally have more playing experience. “It’s not a prerequisite that you have to play club to make a Westlake team,” varsity volleyball coach Al Bennett said. “However, what club volleyball does for you is it’s going to start as soon as school volleyball is over, so now you have the opportunity to train year round.It’s going to give you a hundred plus matches a year. Ultimately the goals are to improve the players to the maximum of their abilities.” For some athletes, school sports present more of a challenge and more tryout competition than club sports. “To me, school is more challenging because I am competing with more girls for a playing spot,” varsity volleyball player junior Kaitlee Haralson said. “My club has 11 girls, and school has 18 girls on the
“To me, school [volleyball] is more challenging because I am competing with more girls for a playing spot.” —junior Kaitlee Haralson
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photos by Shelby Westbrook
During a game against New Braunfels Nov. 12, senior Dallen Nelson goes up for the shot with pressure from the defense. Outside of the school season many boys play for the Amateur Athletic Union.
Junior Jesse Turner spikes the ball while playing for Austin Junior's Volleyball at the Austin Convention Center Jan. 14. Jesse also plays for the varsity team at Westlake.
team. In school you don’t get as much time to prove yourself for playing time.” Club teams help players practice their sport year round. This can cause the risks of injuries to skyrocket. “[Club sports] just becomes a trade off in terms of what benefits you’re getting out of the competition and out of the training versus what your ultimate goal is,” Bennett said. Although club sports and school sports both cost money, club sports cost significantly more, and in some cases these funds allow for better facilities and better equipment. Some school sports, such as wrestling and swimming, are at a disadvantage because of the costs. “[Westlake] has that participation fee [$250], but it doesn’t compare to the club volleyball fee, which might be $2,000 to $3,000 a year to play,” Bennett said. This range of cost holds true with all club sports. Because of the higher costs of club teams, those teams generally have more access to better equipment, whereas school sports have to rely on a participation fee from each student and a varying amount of money from the school. The Westlake swim team has one small bus to take the members to Rollingwood during eighth period, where they practice every weekday. “[Because of] the fact that Westlake does not have its own swimming facility, we are definitely restricted in when we can practice,” Capolupo said. “We also have transportation consideration to deal with. If we have our own facility, we can basically schedule practices to accommodate more athletes. We can have training facilities that are all in one place.” While swim teams generally have better facilities for club teams, it is not always true for all sports. Some club volleyball teams do not have their own facilities and have better facilities at school. “My specific club had its own facilities,” Kaitlee said. “Not all clubs do. But I love the gym because we don’t share it with anyone else and we have a great helix training room.” One major benefit of club teams is that colleges often look at them more than school teams, according to Bennett. Although scouts do look at high school teams, being on a club team can help put athletes out there to distinguish themselves to colleges even more. College recruiters can go to large club tournaments to watch hundreds of athletes,
which gives the recruiters more of an opportunity to see athletes than if they went to individual high schools. “Club is going to give you a tremendous amount of exposure for those that eventually want to play in college,” Bennett said. Outside of the basketball season, many boys play club through the Amateur Athletic Union. The athletes are able to play many games, but they are not competing with the same teammates as the school season. “High school coaches can’t coach their players over the summer,” boys basketball coach Tres Ellis said. “Players have to find other ways to get practice. If I could get my players in the gym over the summer, then we could have a better transition into the school season. I would also like to see my guys put together their own teams so they can play some tournaments together. They play with a lot of different people and can sometimes focus on their individual performance more than if the team wins or losses.” Like most other sports, college recruitment for tennis takes place outside of school sports. Some players play United States Tennis Association matches and go to extra practices to improve their game. “I try to attend St. Stephens Tennis Academy as many days a week as I can,” varsity player junior Charles Tan said. “During the high school season, practices can conflict, but it’s not a big deal because I’m basically just playing a match there instead to practice. Occasionally there can and will be a high school and USTA tournament on the same weekend, and I’ll have to choose one over the other, but thankfully [varsity] Coach [Kim] Riley tries to avoid scheduling conflicts.” Overall, club sports greatly help athletes by giving them more exposure to scouting, giving them more competitive experience and letting them spend more time on an activity they love. “At the varsity level we encourage our players to train outside of our program,” Riley said. “It only helps us in the long run to have a good relationship with the clubs they [the athletes] train at. We would not be as successful if we didn’t encourage USTA competition. We don’t look at it as a “Club vs. School” competition. We look at it as a partnership. I have worked hard over the years to build a good professional relationship with the local pros so they will encourage their athletes to play high school tennis and see the value in representing their school.” —Emily Martin and Colleen Pletcher
Performing at the Lee and Joe Jamail Texas Swim Center Feb. 21 for the State swim meet, senior Alyssa Woltemath starts off her race in the medley relay. Aurasma by John Byron Hanby
photos by Shelby Westbrook
Swimmers dominate throughout season, win District; girls win State
A stroke of success In the State meet Feb. 21-22, the girls team became State Champions after beating Southlake Caroll high school by one point. With a score of 160 points, the seven girl swimmers were able to take the lead after the results of the two final races, the 100-yard breastroke and the 400-yard freestyle relay, were added to the team’s final score. The boys team sent four swimmers to the University of Texas Swim Center as well, and the team placed 12th out of 65 teams earning 56 points. Freshman Victoria Edwards was named State swimmer of the year. “[Being named swimmer of the year] was super exciting,” Victoria said. “I love being apart of this team and this winning group of girls. I’m happy I get to contribute points to the team, but without all of us we wouldn’t have won.” Twenty three athletes qualified in over 40 events for the Regional meet Feb. 7-8. Competing against 22 teams, the girls team earned second, two points short of first place. The boys team placed fourth. “In swimming, races can come down to just tenths or hundredths of a second,” said senior Alyssa Woltemath, whose 200 yard medley relay placed first at State. “So when you win a race and all that hard work has paid off, it’s just the best feeling in the world.” The swim team brought home the District 15-5A title Jan. 24-25. With several first place wins in both individual and relay races, the
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girls team was able to earn a score of 170.6, beating second place Lake Travis by 64.5 points. The boys scored 149 points, beating runner up Bowie by 29 points. “Swimming is unique in that individuals can succeed and move on to a very high level like the State Championship, but to advance as a team is a pretty significant task,” head coach Eric Capalupo said. “This is where it really matters and this part of our season is what is really recognized as a school.” This is Capalupo’s first year at Westlake. Before coaching this successful Westlake team, Capalupo coached the Dripping Springs swim team, and briefly served as assistant coach at his former high school in New York. Capalupo was named District Coach of the Year this season. “The competitive level of this team is above and beyond any team that I have coached in the past,” Capalupo said. “Getting to really know this team has been great. I can already see the excitement and the acknowledgement of swimming growing in this school and the community and I anticipate that in future seasons this program will grow.” Capalupo made a few changes this season, including requiring club swimmers to attend school practice a minimum of one day a week. He also put a new emphasis on team chemistry, and pushed for the entire team to do well at meets instead of only individuals. This season, the team got together for spirit dinners before each meet to bond as a team
State Results Boys:
Girls: 200 yard medley relay - 1st
100 yard butterfly - 1st
200 yard freestyle - 6th
Alyssa Woltemath Catriona MacGregor Victoria Edwards Maggie Taylor
400 yard freestyle relay - 5th
100 yard butterfly - 6th Ben Ussery
Maddy Hunt Alyssa Woltemath Mina Glenesk Victoria Edwards
200 yard freestyle relay - 3rd
100 yard backstroke - 2nd
200 yard freestyle relay - 7th
Bryanna Hundt Mina Glenesk Maggie Taylor Catriona MacGregor
Ben Ussery Andre Newlands Audie Embestro Nick Carlson
200 yard individual medley - 5th
100 yard freestyle - 11th Nick Carlson
100 yard breaststroke - 9th Catriona MacGregor
After finishing their events for semifinals Feb. 21 at the State meet, seniors Alyssa Woltemath and Mina Glenesk and freshman Catriona MacGregor rest by the side of the pool.
Senior Ben Ussery prepares to swim the 100 yard butterfly at the 5A State swim meet.
and mentally prepare. “He has been very supportive of the team,” senior Ben Ussery said. “I think that everyone has really liked his attitude and have grown closer this year because of him.” Earlier in the season both teams performed very well in competitive meets such as the AISD Swim Classic Nov. 1, and the North TISCA Invitational Nov. 22-23. In the AISD Classic, the girls placed first and the boys placed second, competing against around 20 local high schools. Following this meet, Westlake finished fifth overall out of 70 teams in the North TISCA Invitational in Dallas. “I have always loved high school swimming,” Alyssa said. “It feels like more of a team in high school [than club], and when the team wins it’s such a great feeling.” Swimmers put in numerous practice hours during the week. The team trains Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 3:30-5:30 p.m. at the Rollingwood pool. Tuesdays and Thursdays include training in the weight room from 3-4:15 before swimming at Rollingwood Pool until 5:30. Practices involve strength training, skill building, stroke mechanics and race scenarios. However, around 30 out of the 50 members of the Westlake team also swim year-round for club teams. School and club coaches work together to make sure the swimmers are not overworked during the season.
“Swimming both high school and club is fun because you get two different experiences of swimming in one year,” sophomore Nick Carlson said. “This team’s chemistry is very strong. When someone is up racing for their best times we cheer them on knowing that our support will help them succeed.” With dedicating multiple hours a day to swimming, balancing practice with school work can be challenging. Ben made the USA Swimming All American Team in 2013 by maintaining a 4.0 GPA and meeting the time standards for a Junior Nationals Cut. Multiple D1 colleges are interested in Ben, but he has not yet committed anywhere. His number one choice is the University of Denver. “[College] training is a lot different and I’m really looking forward to it,” Ben said. “College swimming is just really fast in general, so it will be cool to go against that level of competition.” This season has been one of change for the swimmers, but the team was able to accomplish a winning season. They proved their talent throughout the season, winning multiple meets and earning the District champion title. “We all get along really well and we all have tried really hard this season,” Alyssa said. “We have put everything into it and I think that is why we’ve been so successful.” —Margaret Norman
The sky’s the limit for nationaly ranked vaulter Nicole Summersett
Setting the bar They say that when you master a sport, it slows down for you. But if anyone has the authority to dispute that, it’s junior Nicole Summersett, the 7th best pole vaulter in the country. It takes 5 seconds for the average pole vaulter to land on the mat after they start the jump, and despite countless hours of practice, every time she steps on to the track to compete she knows anything can happen. “Everything goes by so quick you don’t really feel anything. The moment when you jump off the ground you basically know if it’s going to be a good jump or not . I love how technical vaulting is. Every little thing has to be perfect for you to have a good jump. It feels amazing to have that much power through the air. My best jumps are when I can focus on flying through the air. By the time I land on the pit I can’t even remember starting the jump.” Nicole has been a pole vaulter for seven years now and only continues to improve. She has been dominant through her high school career winning countless titles. Her dad was a vaulter at The University of Texas and was able to get her interested after her brothers refused. “[My dad] is my main support system,” Nicole said. “He coaches me at all my meets, helps me with my poles, buys all the equipment — he’s the person who makes it all come together.” At the age of 10 Nicole tried her first
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jump. “Technically my first time vaulting was in my front yard,” Nicole said. “I used a pool cleaner and a gymnastics mat and tried to vault.” Nicole competes with her club, Lonestar Pole Vaulting, but also is on the Westlake track team. Last year’s school season was record breaking for Nicole. Not only did she win District, Area and Region, but she broke the previous school record, set in 2008 by Adrienne Ballou, by 2 feet, earning herself a new personal best with a jump of 13 feet. Breaking the Westlake record was such a great accomplishment for me,” Nicole said. “It’s so encouraging to have the record for the school that I jump for.” With an already impressive 2013 season behind her Nicole hopes to push herself to break her own record. “I would like to jump 13’6,” Nicole said. “Last year I was doing 13’ pretty consistently towards the end of the season so hopefully that will translate to this season.” Nicole’s hard work and determination doesn’t go unnoticed by her coaches. “Nicole is an outstanding worker,” track coach Chris Carter said. “Many athletes would experience the success she has and think it’s enough, she continues to push herself to improve and achieve more.” Nicole practices two hours a day six days a week. She vaults three days per week and runs and lifts weights the rest. Having a good
coach and proper equipment are extremely important because pole vaulting is a very dangerous sport. Nicole has been lucky to only suffer minor injuries, but she has had a few scares including breaking a pole in midair. “Breaking poles freaks you out,” Nicole said. “It feels so weird because when you plant it, it feels like any other jump until you are upside down on the mat and you have no idea what has just happened. I have also been rejected a few times which means the pole bends but it throws you towards the opposite direction of the mat and onto your back on the runway. It’s pretty painful. It’s very dangerous, especially if you’re not very experienced. That is why it’s so important to have a safe place to jump with good coaches around you.” Nicole vaults year round in indoor track and field competitions with her club. She is currently ranked number seven in the nation, 2014 Amateur Athletic Indoor National Champion, 2013 AAU Jr. Olympics National Champion and 2013 USA Track & Field Youth National Champion. “Both [club and school] are a blast, but I love club jumping because I’ve been with my club for six years,” Nicole said. “We vault year around so I’ve become really close with my teammates as well as my competitors. I love the pole vault community. Were kind of like a weird breed of people.” In addition to her club and school teams
Nicole gets extra help from her dad and private coach. She also has a pole vault set up in her backyard so she can practice anytime she wants. “When I’m home I have a place to practice away from all of the craziness of track,” Nicole said. “It is good to have a place where I can just focus on what I need to do to improve.” Five of the 10 girls nationally ranked are from Texas, so Nicole always has heavy competition. But she just focuses on her practice and jumping higher. “I have to keep up with all of the Texas competition and I know they are all working hard, but I try to just focus on the sport,” Nicole said. Right now Nicole is looking at colleges to vault at after high school. She has been talking to the coaches at the University of Texas, the Air Force Academy, UCLA and North Carolina. After college she will decide if she wants to go pro. Her dream is to compete in the Olympics. “The amount of work it will take to get to the Olympics is unreal to think about,” Nicole said. “But it will be even more unreal to finally reach that goal. My mind is my worst enemy. If I don’t have the confidence in my abilities, there is no way I can reach my goals. If I want it bad enough I need to push through all of the bad practices and pain to focus on the bigger picture and the feeling I’m striving to feel when I finally make it to the Olympics.” —Emily Martin Aurasma and photo manipulation by Tim Whaling
Junior Nicole Summersett vaults during the Chap Relays on Feb. 22. Nicole placed first in the meet with a hight of 12’6”.
Biking team unfazed by exhaustion, cuts, bruises
Aurasma by Tim Whaling and Cade Ritter
Senior Jonah Boatman rides down the Hill of Life in the Barton Creek Greenbelt as junior John Michael Austin follows behind him.
ight students stand in a loose semicircle on the sidewalk, each wearing a helmet and holding a mountain bike. There are two new members, and the other six quickly get to know them, chatting about bike brands. Their coach comes down the street towards them, riding at full speed and, when he reaches them, is sweating slightly but still breathing normally. After talking with the two new members to determine their skill level, the coach shouts, “Listen up!” He then continues at a lower volume after the boys quiet down. “We’re going to ride through the Greenbelt today. We have an hour and 40 minutes, so we’re going to ride for 45 minutes and then come back up the trail. I’ll be at the back. Let’s go.” Everyone swings onto his bike and, in a neat orderly line, begins riding up the hill to the entrance of the trail. The mountain biking team was formed by a group of students three years ago, and the only remaining founding member is senior Jonah Boatman. The team provides an opportunity for students to improve their skills in a safe environment, meet other people who enjoy mountain biking and compete in both team and individual races. The team has eight members, all of whom are good friends. “The vibe of the other riders and racers is amazing,” Jonah said. “We really are a family bound by the love of mountain biking.” The mountain biking team meets Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays to practice trail rides, hill repeats and strength training. A normal ride is 15 miles, but sometimes the rides can exceed 50 miles and last all day. The team trains at Barton Creek Greenbelt, Walnut Creek and occasionally in the backyard of former student Sam Morton’s house. “We train as a team and push each other,” Jonah said. “It is an individual sport. Even though it can be tough, we push each other to go harder and ride better.” The team has two coaches — head coach Max Bookman, owner of MAX training and a professional mountain bike racer, and assistant coach Tyrus Cramer, a top-level athlete with years of mountain biking experience — along with ride leaders who help out with training.
“Each coach and ride leader is super motivated and eager to teach us skills so we can become better mountain bikers,” Jonah said. “They do it for no money, and they still find countless hours each year to train and ride with us. They know exactly what we need to do to get fast and improve our skills. There would be no team without them.” All of the team members are required to bring their own equipment, which can be difficult for some, as mountain biking requires special equipment such as bikes with increased durability and tires with more traction. While the bikes can cost anywhere from $500 to $5000, additional gear such as disc brakes, gloves, helmets and glasses can cost around $200. “Equipment can be an issue,” Jonah said. “If you are on a team, you get discounts on bikes and gear so it is a lot more bearable.” The bikes generally need to be repaired once every two months, and when that happens, the team members take their bikes to Texas Cycle Werks, a bike shop that sponsors the team. In case small repairs are needed on the trail, the team members are each responsible for carrying small tools like CO2 cartridges, a tire iron and a multitool. “Repairs are very important,” junior John Michael Austin said. “If your bike doesn’t work correctly, you can’t race to your full potential or speed.” Mountain biking can be a dangerous sport, and risk of injury is always a factor when riding difficult trails, especially if the trail is above the rider’s experience level. “We try to minimize the dangers by never pressuring anyone into doing a section of the trail that they are not comfortable doing,” junior Sawyer Hewitt said. In addition to riding trails they feel comfortable with, riders always
“My bike went sideways, I flew over it, did a flip in midair and landed on my back. I slid about 15 feet after landing.” —junior John Michael Austin
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Average price of biking equipment Helmet $50-$150
Sunglasses $20-$150 Backpack $60
Clipless pedals $30
Shoes $100 Al
wear helmets and pads to protect from major injuries like broken bones. Even so, minor injuries, such as scrapes and small cuts, and close calls are still common, as John Michael learned on a ride in Colorado. “I was riding down a trail that was five miles long,” John Michael said. “I was going really fast, and I thought ‘I hope I don’t fall right now.’ My bike went sideways, I flew over it, did a flip in midair and landed on my back. I slid about 15 feet after landing.” Despite the ever-present danger, the riders have no thoughts of stopping or quitting. “Falling is just part of the sport, and if you can’t handle the occasional cut or bruise, then it’s not the sport for you,” Jonah said. The team competes in $40 races all over Central Texas. Their most recent race was at Reveille Peak Ranch in Burnet, where Jonah placed second in varsity, John Michael placed second in JV and Sawyer placed fourth in JV. While the races are mostly individual, teams are still ranked as well. The Westlake team is not able to place first, however, as teams need at least one girl member to win. John Michael said he hopes some Westlake girls will consider joining them. “I think we don’t have any girls on our team because they don’t know about it,” John Michael said. “I also don’t know how many mountain bike, but that isn’t a prerequisite. You don’t need to know how to mountain bike since we can help you learn. It’s also scary to be the only girl in school doing something. It’s a great sport, though. It’s really inclusive, really fun and it is as competitive as you want it to be.” —Jack Stenglein
photos by Nick Appling
The mountain biking team cycles through Woods of Westlake towards the entrance of the Barton Creek Greenbelt. Juniors John Michael Austin and Sawyer Hewitt ride at the front of the team’s two-by-two formation, while senior Jonah Boatman does a wheelie behind them.
Junior midfielder Zayne Matulis volleys the ball during their first District game against Bowie at Burger Stadium Jan. 29.
Varsity soccer team their dominates in District play As of March 4, no District competitor has been able to score a goal. Not one. The team as a whole has completely shut out every team in District. Their flawless record of 7-0 in District proves their dominance. But despite this winning streak, the girls stay humble and aware. “I have never felt pressure because we are undefeated,” center defense junior Grace Burr said. “We take one game at a time and don’t take our wins for granted.” Coach Rennie Rebe has pushed the girls hard all season between practices and games. Repetitions of plays and scrimmages during practices make the team better prepared for the games. “We are more fit than any team I believe,” Grace said. “[Coach Rebe] makes sure of it by running us consistently through off-season and in season. Rebe is supportive
and a great leader. She holds a lot of respect throughout the team, but also knows how to joke around.” Every game for the team is a new journey that brings up individual challenges. The pressure is still present. Each player on the field has a specific role that is vital to the entirety. “There’s always pressure as a defender,” right defender senior Anna Mongillo said. “Basically our only job is to prevent a goal, so if we get scored on, it could mean the difference between moving on in the playoffs and going home.” Most likely, the team will advance into District playoffs that start on March 25. “I have so much confidence in my team,” Grace said. “I know that if we work together and play our own style of play we will have no problems in playoffs.” —Kathryn Revelle
Freshman wrestler continues family legacy, becomes 5A State Champion The wrestling team has a State Champion for the first time in five years. Freshman Jack Skudlarczyk beat out his opponent to earn the gold medal in the 106 pound 5A State Championship on Feb. 15 in Garland, finishing the season with a near perfect record of 43-2. “I knew I was capable [of winning State],” Jack said. “I was nervous, but in a good way, because I knew that I prepared. I wasn’t cocky. I knew that I would wrestle the best that I could and win.” Jack fought back from a 3-2 second round deficit against Langham Creek senior Andrea Giannetti to win 5-3. Leading up to the final, he won his first match 12-7, but had to fight for his victories in the quarterfinal and semifinal bouts. In the semifinal, he went into double overtime and won 2-1. Jack’s coaches were not surprised by his welldeserved victory. “He’s been working his tail off all year long,” wrestling coach Pat O’Harra said. “He’s earned it. We were pleased, but I expected him to get there.” Jack has consistently pushed his team to greater heights, leading varsity to some critical victories. His first place finish in Regionals helped the team nab the school’s first ever Regional Championship first-place finish.
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Much of Jack’s success is in due in part to everybody on the wrestling team, varsity and JV. “[Not only has he] worked harder than anybody else, the other thing that’s really helped him is that he is in a wrestling room with a bunch of State qualifiers above him,” O’Harra said. “All those guys made Jack better. He did all the work, but a lot of people have helped him along the way, it’s very satisfying for everybody.” Despite his family connections to wrestling, Jack might have never even wrestled and become a State champion if he had listened to his father. “My whole family’s been wrestling,” Jack said. “My dad was a two-time State champ and my uncle was a three-time State champ. My dad didn’t even want me to wrestle. He knew what it took to be a successful wrestler, and he didn’t want me going through that. I told him I had to wrestle. That’s what I wanted to do.” Jack is already looking forward to his next run at a State Championship. He hopes to go for a repeat in the seasons to come. “I plan to keep working hard, and keep raising that bar,” Jack said. “If I keep making these jumps, nobody will be able to hang with me.” —Jack Wallace
After defeating his competition, freshman Jack Skudlarczyk celebrates at the State meet in Garland. Roy Mata
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Student dead set on becoming forensic anthropologist
evidence as to what killed a person, and trace evidence, when clothing and other materials can be studied for gun residue, food traces and other tell-tale indications of a person’s environment. She also got to visit the drug chemistry department where the scientists identify and analyze drugs from the various cases they receive. “They have this big turntable or lazy susan with bags of different drugs on it that I had never seen before,” Harli said. “There was heroin, cocaine, bath salts and other big-time drugs. They can find them in your system or blood. They can bring in drugs from houses to identify what it is. It doesn’t have to be with a body.” While she does have to keep up with the school work she misses on these trips, the hardest part for Harli is keeping up with her Mentorship assignments. “The assignments for Mentorship, like the log sheet, are kind of difficult because I’m only going four times, but it’s worth it,” she said. “When I went, he gave me all of his books on anthropology to read [in between visits], and we email all the time so if I have a question he can help me out with it.” Most people would consider forensics to be a weird choice for a career, but Harli said that the desire to work in a lab like Harris County’s, stems from a much more basic goal. “Everyone thinks it’s gross, but I think I might be a forensic anthropologist because I want to end grief for families that don’t know how someone died, or if they’re missing,” she said. “I want to solve that mystery and bring peace so they get closure.” Harli said that she plans to keep studying forensics and anthropology to work at her dream job in New York when she’s older. “The best forensic institute is in New York so I’ve always wanted to work and live there,” Harli said. “I’ll have to go to college for the first four years and probably major in anthropology. Then to med school. After the four years of med school, I’ll have to go deeper into forensics; I know Baylor is really good. A&M too.” While it will take a lot of work to get to her dream job, Harli said that she’s excited for the prospect and is so glad she is getting the chance to study at Harris County with the Mentorship program. “I’m learning from one of the best,” Harli said, “and it’s really just helping me determine that that’s what I want to do career-wise.” —Peyton Richardson
magine an elevator ride down to a morgue. The doors open to a hallway full of body bags on stretchers. Walk through one of the doors and see rooms where people in lab coats are determining cause of death and performing toxicology tests. While the atmosphere suggests the set of a crime show, this is not the beginning of CSI. This is the experience of junior Harli Bruno, who is shadowing under Jason Wiersema at Harris County Institute of Forensic Science in Houston through the Mentorship program here at Westlake. “One of my dad’s really good friends is in the FBI and is pretty close to the forensics lab,” Harli said. “I struggled with finding something in Austin because there isn’t really a good one here. They [offered] for me to come down to Houston, and I accepted because they’re the best in the state of Texas.” According to Harli, her love for forensics and mystery started when she was much younger. “I was never interested in the normal careers like a veterinarian,” she said. “I’ve always wanted to go in depth with crime and figure out how a person died, what caused it. No one usually sees that. They’ll be like ‘you like dead bodies?’ And I say ‘kind of.’” The mentorship program has helped hundreds of students intern in fields of interest, but Harli’s situation is unique, because she is one of the only Westlake students to ever leave Austin for her placement. “What I’m really excited about with Jason Wiersema is that he totally understands what we’re trying to do, and he gets that we can’t offer it here in Austin,” Mentorship teacher Vicky Abney said. “It doesn’t hurt that he is a Westlake graduate. He and I had a long conversation, and I told him everything I could about the program and the spirit of what we’re trying to accomplish and he just really warmed up to the idea.” Because her placement is so far away from Westlake, Harli is only making the trip down to Houston four times this semester. These trips require Harli to miss a full day of school in order to shadow from 9 to 11 in the morning. “There was so much to fit in one visit,” Harli said. “They were all just trying to teach me how everything works. It is way more than I anticipated. I didn’t really know what I was getting into, but I went in with an open mind. It is more than I expected.” Harli’s tour of the building included introductions to a variety of different crime solving techniques including toxicology, testing someone’s blood to find
How a Bulgarian Olympian ended up in Westlake, molding athletes into D1 players
It’s 2001. UT Longhorns training facility. President-elect George W. Bush is standing in the center of the weight room. The area is surrounded by the secret service, with backup agents in vehicles stationed down the road until I-35. An agent’s radio suddenly crackles with incoherent sounds. A car has pulled up outside. The agent quickly responds to the man on the other line; “It’s OK, let him through. It’s the coach.” This is Angel Spassov. A surprising combination of imposing presence, short stature and a strong Bulgarian accent, Spassov gives off a wise and powerful first impression. But beyond the daunting presence lies a man who has lived a life so full, that it seems almost unimaginable. He has travelled to every corner of the globe, shared a meal with the likes of Argentine revolutionary Che Guevara and former Indian prime minister Indira Gandhi and participated in multiple Olympic Games. Yet despite this eventful past, Spassov can now be found at a small gym in Westlake, coaching numerous high school athletes and imparting his wisdom to future generations. Born in the 1940s in a small northern Bulgarian town, Spassov’s early childhood passed under Communist rule. Life was difficult and drastically different from the experience of growing up in 21st century America. “It was a very, very tough time,” Spassov said. “During the war, Bulgaria was a satellite state of Germany. And they took everything possible to be taken from Bulgaria, especially food. That’s why the population really had a hard time surviving. I remember when I was young, we ate only cornbread and potatoes, and maybe meat once a week. Then in school, they used to give us a bowl of hot milk every day. However, it was actually milk powder which they then transferred. I didn’t like it, but it was necessary. We had to eat. As for school, all kids treated the teachers with high respect, and we tried to learn everything possible and read as many books as possible. There was one movie theater in the town, but it ran mostly Soviet war movies on how the Russians defeated the Germans. We all struggled seriously during the first years after
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World War II.” However, it was during that time that Angel first developed his love for sport, a love that would stay with him through the rest of his life. “In that small town we had very good athletes,” Spassov said. “Athletics were very much respected in the high school. And I had people whom I worshipped there. They looked great and strong, running fast, jumping and playing soccer very well. They were the ones who first sparked the love for sport in me.” This was just the beginning. By the time he was 12, Spassov was already training to compete in the District gymnastics championships. His first coach was his P.E. teacher, a woman from Hungary who had been moved by the Communists to Spassov’s town. Her impressive coaching proved to have a lasting effect on Spassov, who still remembers her fondly many years later. Due to the small size of the town, resources and facility space were limited. However, the lack of set training areas encouraged the kids to feel free to try almost every sport they could. A year later at the age of 13, Spassov had also begun to develop a penchant for swimming, and had shown high talent for it as well. That same year he won three events at the national championships under his age group. As he got older, he began to compete in track and field events, participating in triple jump and setting national records in both the javelin and discus. However, though he retained immense speed and strength, he wasn’t able to continue these events at an advanced level as he wasn’t considered tall enough. His commitment to athletics led him to consider furthering his education at the National Sports Academy
in Sofia — a goal he fulfilled in 1962 after graduating high school and serving two years of mandatory service as a paratrooper in the army. “You don’t have sports academies in America,” Spassov said. “However, in Europe they’re everywhere. Right away, within my first couple weeks at the Academy, I said, ‘Well let me try weightlifting and maybe that’s my sport.’ My first time in the gym, I squatted with 375 pounds, having never done squats before. This gave me the chance to make the national team two years after I started. Bulgaria at the time wasn’t very good at weightlifting. They’d had sporadic success by sending individuals, but never as a team. However, being on the national team was still a big achievement and I was very happy with this.” That year, after fierce competition for a spot, Spassov made the 1964 Olympic team, and travelled to Tokyo, where he placed fifth in his weight class. “Honestly, I wasn’t ready to compete on the highest level in the Olympics,” Spassov said. “After only two years of practicing a sport, no matter what gifts or talents you have, no one is. I hadn’t realized my potential or understood my lack of experience. In every sport or event that you compete in, you have to practice a certain number of hours. Researchers think now that you must have about 10,000 hours dedicated to your particular activity to be able to show up on the international stage. At that time we didn’t know this, but I knew that I didn’t have enough practice behind me. But I placed fifth in Tokyo. I wasn’t satisfied, but it was pretty much an expected ranking. I still blame myself for that, but objectively I wasn’t ready.” After Tokyo, Spassov spent the next three years training and preparing for the 1968 Olympics. In April of 1967 he broke the world record in the clean and jerk. He was on the path towards 10,000 hours and a legitimate shot at an Olympic medal. He even went so far as to sign a piece of paper with his roommate, promising that he would win the next Olympics. However, things took an unexpected turn with the arrival of a new coach from Russia. “We weren’t doing very well as a whole weightlifting program, so we hired a Russian
Angel Spassov stands near the powerlift weights at his gym on Bee Cave Road. Tim Whaling
coach to train us for the June 1968 Olympics,” Spassov said. “But the Federation also offered me a job. They said ‘Look, we’ll hire you as his assistant, and you try to learn what you can from him.’ I kind of hesitated for awhile, but I decided to take the job.” Though Spassov’s dreams for his own Olympic gold remained very much alive, his commitment to his home country proved to be the stronger pull. Spassov knew that he had been chosen for a reason. He had the dedication and potential coaching talent to develop the Bulgarian team into a notable weightlifting force, but it would require him to sacrifice his personal glory. “I felt this to be more important, so I quit lifting and started working with him,” Spassov said. “For generations this team had wanted to elevate itself to the best in the world. We didn’t know how to do that, but we knew that we wanted it.” During that period, Russia had become well known for developing a scientific approach to training. Spassov began to realize that in order to be successful, his team needed to start paying attention to the Russian methodology. “The Russians used to come to Bulgaria for dual matches and we would listen to every word their coaches said, the way religious people would listen to God talking,” Spassov said. “The Russians were the best in the world. They had a very well organized system of research, athlete selection, training … everything. They knew everything about the sport on a scientific basis. It was the first time that anyone had ever done that. Taking that job was my first huge step forward in learning the science behind making athletes better.”
However, though Spassov was making crafting a new approach to training would progress in his own coaching endeavors, the now be put to the test. He passed with flying Bulgarian weightlifting team was not havcolors. Two members of the Bulgarian team ing the same luck. In the 1968 Mexico City won world titles in different weight classes. In Olympics, the Bulgarians fell short of a medal the span of a little less than a year, the team both individually and as a team, landing a had gone from a top finish of eighth place to highest individual placement of 8th place. two gold medals. Within the next two years, Spassov attributes this to a lack of proper Bulgaria established itself as a dominant force tapering — the process of resting and winding in the weightlifting world, second to none down training — and believes that overfatigue but the Russians. And in the 1972 Olympics was the definite cause of the athlete’s unexin Munich, they broke that barrier as well, pectedly poor performance. But things began beating out the Russians for the number one to turn around. The Russian coach left after overall spot. Though this proved to be the pinthe Olympics and on Spassov’s birthday, Nov. nacle of Bulgaria’s success, as many of the star 18, 1968, Spassov was hired by the Federation lifters began to retire, the country had already to be the head coach of Bulgaria’s national proved itself on the world stage. weightlifting team. “I implemented the most specific exercises “I think sometimes that accepting that possible,” Spassov said. “It’s not just about job was probably the first right thing I did,” general training. Until I began thinking about Spassov said. “We are a small country. We this, lifters around the world had about 30-32 cannot fight with the Russians in terms of exercises they would do to train. I cut them pulling from the same reserve of talent. At down to 12. It’s like water flowing through the the time we had about 150 coaches and 3,000 mountains. When the banks are narrow, the lifters. Russia had 25,000 coaches and 1.5 water moves fast. But in a large open area, the million lifters. How do you fight that? So I water moves slowly. So I used only the most said ‘Well, we have to go a different way. A narrow, specific exercises that were directly different training system. A different apapplicable.” proach.’ Early 1969 marked the beginning With this new philosophy beginning to of my coaching philosophy. Until that time I take root, other countries started taking note was learning from the others. But after 1969 I of Spassov’s success in Bulgaria. This led to started going my way. Looking back now, not job offers to coach different international everything went smoothly, and not everything athletic teams from heads of state such as was perfectly calculated. There was some previous French President François Mitterexperimenting. But it was working.” rand and former Pakistani President MuThe 1969 Weightlifting World Championhammad Zia-ul-Haq. All of this eventually ships were held in Warsaw, Poland. This event culminated in a national speaking tour in the would be Spassov’s chance to debut his new U.S. While in America, a friend interviewing coaching style to the world. All of the risks he him for Sports Illustrated told him about a photo Whaling had taken and all of the hours he manipulations had spent by Timjob opening for an athletic trainer for the UT
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(From left to right) Former student Nick de la Luz and juniors AJ Carvallo, Ben Buck and Elliott Richards make up the 512 Oracles. Their recent successes include performances and a self-released mixtape.
FUNKY TOWN Budding musicians produce mixtape, gain school-wide fame I. The Past
A little over a year ago, juniors AJ Carvallo, Elliott Richards, Ben Buck and former student Nick de la Luz were just four individual rappers who enjoyed freestyling and beatboxing in the cafeteria at lunch. But hip-hop, by its very nature, is a community-driven endeavor, thriving on collaboration. AJ and Elliott eventually linked up as a sort of duo, and after the addition of Nick, who had been posting videos on his Facebook page, the 512 Oracles were born.
Oracles? Elliott: A little bit of spice from all the peppers. I would say that we first got inspired by this group called CBG, which stands for “Chill Black Guys.” AJ: I remember that day at the park. Basically, we watched a bunch of videos of CBG, who are these guys who were just chilling and they decided to make some music videos. And it actually took off, so we were like, “We could totally do that.” And then we did. The “took off” part hasn’t happened ... Elliott: It’s happening.
The Featherduster: How did the four of you start rapping together? Ben: Basically it all started with those lunchtime [sessions] — Elliott: Kicking it and freestyling. Ben: Me, Carter Reed, Elliott, [and] Avery Mitchell all had fourth lunch — Elliott: We would have freestyling battles every Friday. Ben: AJ had fifth lunch, but he’d sometimes come out to some of the cyphers.
With inspirations ranging from Beast Coast — a Brooklyn rap collective consisting of Pro Era, Underachievers, Flatbush Zombies and more — to old school favorites like Biggie Smalls, Tupac and Wu Tang Clan, the 512 Oracles hope to one day carve their own niche in rap music. But despite their impressive dedication to the craft, hip-hop was never a birthright.
FD: What inspired you to begin the 512
FD: Were there any signs of a future music career during your childhood?
Nick: I didn’t even like rap until I was a freshman. Elliott: My mom writes poetry, and when I was a kid she encouraged me to write poetry. Between second and eighth grade I have published poems in kid anthologies. Ben: That’s where you get your best lines from. Elliott: Definitely. I go back and I just copy that stuff. But I think that’s where my style comes from. When I was a kid I used to want to be a geologist, or an anthropologist. Ben: My dad’s a drummer and my mom’s an English teacher, so I guess it’s pretty natural. Nick: Started from the middle now he’s here. Elliott: Started from the upper middle now he’s here. AJ: Started from the upper class … now he’s still in the upper class. Elliott: Silver spoon, plate of gold.
II. The Music
After establishing their group, the Oracles tackled the challenge of actually releasing material. The Oracles have been releasing music free of charge, through Soundcloud,
continued from page 31 YouTube and self-circulated mix tapes. Mixtape Volume I. covered a wide range of styles and sounds, and we asked the Oracles about the work they put into their creations. FD: What is the process in writing a song? AJ: How it usually works is one person will get a beat and then write a verse and a hook for it, and then he’ll pass it to the next person and he’ll write a verse and then pass it on. Ben: Everyone writes their own words. Everyone is writing their own material. No one writes for anyone else. Nick: We’ll help each other with ideas for choruses, since the catchiness is important and we don’t want it to be slacking. We’ll take ideas from each other since [the choruses] affect everyone, but verse-wise, we always write our own stuff. FD: How do you approach production — beats and mixing? AJ: I make some of the beats on my iPad, like “The Third Being,” “We May Never Know” and “Chakra Flow.” The rest [of the beats] are all off of YouTube. Elliott: We message [the creators of our YouTube beats] out of respect, but actually, since [we only used them for] a mixtape and we’re not making profit off of it, we can legally use those even without asking. Ben: On “Taco,” one was a Mac Miller beat and another was “Let Me Clear My Throat.” [It’s a] 1995, really live beat used in a lot of DJ sets just to get the crowd moving. It’s been around for a long
time. We kind of put a new spin to it. There are also a few songs on there that have elements of beatboxing, which is a form of vocal percussion, one of my favorite things. The 512 Oracles hinted that eventually they will want to channel their talents through other outlets, from more advanced beat production to possible solo releases. Already, they have begun to explore the options available in Austin for expanding their reach. FD: Where do you record? AJ: We go to this producer named the Ruler, at Ruler Why, and we pay him hourly. Nick: For the most part we try to [record together], but because we have to be selective with our studio days and when we have the time to go record, often it’s just whoever needs to be on the track. Not all of us are on every track. “Chakra Flow” is our one track where Ben gets to beatbox on it and all three of us have a verse, but a lot of tracks are duos, so sometimes just that specific duo will go [to the studio]. Elliott: But together as a group in the studio is a lot of fun and it adds a lot of ideas. FD: Some of your lyrics aren’t the cleanest. How do your parents feel about this? Nick: Our parents, for the most part, let us do what we want, but they don’t actually enjoy some of our content. The thing about us is that we’re just doing us, and we don’t care what other people think. We just make our own material how we want it, and put it out. Elliott: To that same point, a lot of the things we say can be exaggerated in some way. If it’s a song that focuses on rage and angry emotions, we might take things we say to an extreme because we’re not actually people who would damage other people physically. But if we have lyrics like that, I’d say that it’s more part of the craft and the false reality that you can achieve through music ... it’s bringing your emotion out, however you want to do that. Your audience can perceive that however they want.
Juniors Ben Buck and Elliott Richards work together to create shirts to sell with tickets to the 512 Oracles’ shows. Ben tie dyes the shirts and Elliott sprays on the logo. Their most recent sales package also included a free copy of their mixtape.
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FD: Describe your personal style in a few words. Nick: Offensive. “My mind on my money and my money on my mind.” I was heavily influenced when I started rapping by Hopsin — he’s a West Coast artist, and when he started coming up, a lot of people said that he was like a black version of Eminem. So I kind of consider myself third generation Eminem-style. Like, you never know what’s gonna come next because it’s just kind of “in your face.” I like being one big mixture of influences — except with my own personality. Elliott: Lyricism, as in word-play, doublemeaning, things you would learn in English class, metaphors — good English, the deep roots that lay within the sentence. That isn’t superficial, and you actually need to break down the words to achieve it. I’d say that’s me. AJ: I’m really into the rhythm and how
you can break down bars into different sections a change rhythms. Ben: [My beatboxing] just has to sound good, be rhythmically correct and have lots of fat bass. AJ: Not skinny bass. It’s gotta be fat.
III. The Fans
Looking back on their humble origins in cafeteri and on Facebook pages, the 512 Oracles have co a long way. Their success is still small-time, but they are gaining hype both within Westlake and around the Austin area. Over the last few month they have performed at various Austin venues a continue to provide their fans with new opportu ties to see what they are all about.
FD: Has there been a time when you’ve fe that you let down the fans? AJ: We had someone we know do a music video us, the “We May Never Know” music video, and i just ended up not being the quality it needed to b Poor choice of clips, as well as poor quality on the video. Elliott: And he took a really different approach t making the video. It had a really long intro. It’s li when you write an essay and the first sentence ne to really compel the reader to keep reading, and t didn’t. Not at all. You’d have to be our dearest fri to watch the whole video.
FD: What demographic is your music geared towards? Elliott: Our target age group is people who like m sic. Anyone who likes rap, or just wordplay. It cou be your analytical English 4 AP teacher if she rea likes wordplay. But if I had to say an age group it would be anywhere from 8 to ... about infinity. Nick: Not 8. Elliott: Little kids listen to music and get inspire They don’t have to understand the lyrics but mus cally they can still be inspired.
IV. The Future
The members of the 512 Oracles, as juniors, are aware that only a short time remains in their hig school careers. Nick recently left school to pursu his GED and focus more on the music. As for the other three, opportunities are sure to appear wi the dawn of post-Westlake freedom fast approac ing.
FD: Do the Oracles have plans for after graduation? Nick: If I get my GED, which I plan to in the nex few months, I’m going to take an ACC internship for sound engineering next year while everyone’s senior. Elliott: We have senior year and then, dependin on where we are with our group, we could take a year. But if we blow up within the next one or two years, and it’s nationwide, college is something th in a way, is not necessary. The fact that you meet new people with different mindsets makes it a rea good experience to open your mind even more to new ideas, so I’m always open to going to college And there’s definitely things that you can learn at college that you can’t find anywhere else — peopl college who can change your life forever. So it’s n something that I’m closed-minded against.
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AJ: I would like, if we are big enough, to study abroad and tour the year right out of high school, and then go do sound engineering somewhere. Elliott: It’s all dependent on how much time we put in, but we’re all pretty devoted to [the music]. It’s one of those things that exponentially gains in speed. One person may hear about you, but then they’ll go talk about it to another person and once that happens ... it kind of blows up, in a way, once you get past a certain barrier.
MEET THE MEMBERS Full name: Andres Josephe Cavallo Stage name: Bakari the Oracle Musical skills: Rapper/beat maker Most important meal of the day: 11:00 a.m. brunch Message to the haters: Y’all just some haters
FD: Do you have any plans for solo careers? Nick: I’m already working on a solo mixtape right now. Me and Elliott went to the studio just the other day to get the first track that I’ve made done. Solo projects will showcase ourselves rather than just the group mentality. We each have a solo mentality that may be different. We normally have to collaborate, we have to agree with each other when we’re ready to make a song, but if I’m making my own stuff, well then I don’t even care what they say. Imma do it how I want it.
Full name: Ben “Denali” Buck Stage name: Filthy McNasty Musical skills: Vocal percussion, beat production Most important meal of the day: Consistently munch throughout the day Message to the haters: Love me
FD: If the rapping doesn’t work out, have you considered other possible career options? Elliott: I’m definitely interested in videography and photography. For the “Wet Fire” music video, I didn’t film it but I was there at the filming and I saw good angles and good shots. Our filmer Travis Daves — Nick: Shouts out Easy T! Elliott: This doesn’t really have to do with music, but I’m in ceramics, taught by Ms. [Dawn] Delgado — shouts out Delgado. And for me, my backup is an entrepreneur-type thing. I don’t like thinking that I would work for someone. I’d want to work for myself or have people work for me in something I came up with. Originality. Or just a very simple life in the arts, I don’t really need much to be a happy person. Just food, shelter, maybe some dogs, so I can have companions. Ben: I want to be Robert Downey, Jr. FD: All jokes aside, what is making music about for you? Elliott: For me, it’s not about money or anything. It’s about people relating to what I have to say. If someone’s really upset with where they are in life, and they are having suicidal thoughts, I feel like I would have reached my goal if I could have stopped someone from committing suicide by letting them relate to my lyrics. Having them channel their emotions in a more passive way and to deal with that in relation to what I have to say. Ben: I just want to move the crowd. I just want tie dye and beatbox. Nick: To not have to work a nine to five. To be able to do something you love and make a living. Not even about getting rich, but being able to live the life you want, without having to give in to society’s standards of , “you need to go to college and go do this job.” Like how ‘bout we rap and be able to make a living off of it? AJ: To give people that spark of interest, that I as a music-listener have when I hear a song I like. It gives you a good vibe and releases all the dopamine in your brain. That’s what I want to do. —Katelyn Connolly and Caitlyn Kerbow
Full name: Elliott Hugo Palmer Richards Stage name: Double L (LL) Musical skills: Songwriting, producing, singing, rapping Most important meal of the day: Breakfast Message to the haters: Keep hatin’ Full name: Nicholas Armando de la Luz Stage name: Dela Duze Musical skills: None Most important meal of the day: Persistently munch throughout the day Message to the haters: Thanks for the promo photos by Tim Whaling
trends + trads
DRUGS page 35 OPINION page 39 ALCOHOL page 40 MENTAL page 43 PHYSICAL page 48
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photo manipulation by Tim Whaling
PROFESSIONAL OPINION D Side effects of drugs as seen by nurse, deputy sheriff rugs are defined as any substance ingested that alters your physiological state. Even though some may believe otherwise, drugs are a serious and prominent issue that can and does affect our campus every day. “I think there is a [drug] problem here just like any other high school.” Deputy Forrest Bouldin said. “Marijuana is probably [the biggest concern]. There are many different kinds, some of it is a weak blend, some of it’s real strong and some of it can be laced with things, and that’s another big danger. You might buy some weed from a person but you don’t know what they’ve put in it.” Bouldin has been a police officer for 25 years and has been working at Westlake for the past two. “I think on any high school campus you’re going to have [a drug problem],” Bouldin said. “I don’t think you can get away from that.” According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, between nearly 18 and 23 percent of high school students have smoked marijuana, and, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 39 percent of high school students have consumed alcohol. “I think [the use of drugs] is a developmental state in teenagers,” nurse Holly Hubbell said. “They feel invincible, that they are going to rise above, and it’s not going to hurt them.” Although almost all students are warned about the physical and legal consequences of doing drugs throughout numerous assemblies and meetings, many decide to still go ahead and try them anyway, taking risks that they may not be fully aware they’re taking. “One really big danger that I don’t think most people know is if you take narcotics and you drink alcohol, it makes the medicine stronger,” Hubbell said. “It’s called potentiating, and that’s how people overdose very often.” In addition to simply taking drugs or smoking marijuana, there are some people who are called “weekenders.” These are students who tend to only smoke or drink on the weekends. However, these behaviors are potentially just as dangerous as those of the people who are daily users. “Anytime you put anything in your system that alters the way you think, the possibilities [of harm] can be endless,” Bouldin said. “Anywhere from getting in a vehicle, not having total control over it and hurting yourself or someone else all the way up to listening to whatever voice [in your head] tells you to do real stupid stuff, all the way up to killing yourself, depending on how hard the drug is that you’re taking.” Even though there are many different discrepancies on the long term effects of marijuana, in many cases the use of marijuana will lead people to different and harder drugs. “I’m not sure if [marijuana] itself [is a gateway drug], or if it’s the culture and the risky behaviors that ‘if you’re going to smoke pot you also will try other things’,” Hubbell said. “So I don’t know if [marijuana] is a chemical gateway but I definitely think it’s more of a cultural gateway.” Most students at Westlake are considered to be a part of at least the upper middle-class; therefore money is usually not a huge obstacle that students have to tackle while engaging in these types of illegal activities. “I think drugs are available throughout any economic status that a person is in,” Bouldin said. “Having money does make it
easier. I think more importantly though, the ability to get money at the level that some of the Westlake kids can, means that they can buy quality stuff with a higher potency.” Although many drug incidents can be linked to peer pressure, drug and alcohol abuse can also be a sign of depression and or other physiological disorders. “A lot of students that are using illegal medication and smoking pot are doing it because they have underlying conditions like anxiety or depression,” Hubbell said. “So a lot of kids are self-treating these issues instead of going to a physician and being treated. They might be too afraid or maybe they don’t even identify what the issue is, they just know that they have this feeling and when they take that pill, smoke pot or drink alcohol that the feeling gets better. It’s just a bad choice and it has long term consequences, and so they’re self-treating and are not getting the proper treatment that they need.” Bouldin said he sees no reason for people to act out and consume illegal substances that will end up harming them or anyone else, whether the repercussions are physical or legal. There are many different avenues for dealing with issues without drugs and/or alcohol. “I think any other reason [besides potential medical use of marijuana] a person might have to smoke, is not a real reason,” Bouldin said. “It’s an excuse, and I don’t agree with excuses. The more a person is able to communicate issues they might be having at school, at home, with teachers, with whomever, I believe people can help them see and understand that it’s not the end of the world.” —Sabrina Knap
Taking prescription drugs that aren’t prescribed to you can cause increased heart rate, increased blood pressure, and you can feel very jittery. —nurse Holly Hubbell Nick Appling
The possession of marijuana in a drugfree zone is a Class A misdemeanor and with a juvenile, there can be jail time involved or probation. —deputy Forrest Bouldin Lucy Wimmer
HI, I’M BRENDAN . . . M y purpose in writing this story is not to preach, nor is it to glorify my drug use. I simply wish to share my experience, with the hope that it may reach somebody in need of a way out. A year ago I couldn’t stop getting high and drunk. My life was consumed by drugs and alcohol. As a result, my relationship with my parents was trashed (almost non-existent), my grades were garbage, I couldn’t hold any responsibilities or keep any commitments, I wasn’t going to graduate on time, the idea of going to college seemed far-fetched, I was about 20 pounds underweight, I was constantly lying and stealing and I frequently owed somebody money. The list goes on. Today, I live a very different life. I’m in college on two different scholarships. I now have a loving relationship with my family, though it has taken some rebuilding. I have a great community of friends and fellow recovering addicts. I’m living healthy, and best of all, I get to spend my time doing things I love to do, rather than needing to get loaded all of the time. I started getting high and drinking like many kids do. I was a freshman, a pretty good student and athlete. I had a class with a bunch of upperclassmen, and it seemed to me that all of the cool kids liked to drink. Being a very impressionable kid, I decided that was what I was going to do. One night during Christmas break, I stole an assortment of liquor from the liquor cabinet, then snuck out with a couple of my buddies and proceeded to get obscenely drunk. I had the time of my life for about an hour. After that I started vomiting all over myself, and when I woke up in the morning my clothes were nowhere to be found (presumably in some trash can covered in puke). I had been drinking a combination of vodka, tequila, beer and red wine, so naturally I felt like I had been hit by a truck. While I was in the bathroom dry-heaving, I learned that my parents had heard me come in that night, and were aware of the whole situation. The duo of the hangover and the 10-page packet of “Why’d you do it?” questions my mom assigned me as homework were plenty to keep me from drinking again for quite some time. I first smoked pot at the end of my freshman year. I had made plans to smoke with one of my friends, but he backed out. I was too excited to wait, so I fired it up by myself. I smoked two bowls, and didn’t feel anything at first. Being very cautious, I immediately got in the shower after I was done. That’s where it
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hit me, and I fell in love. Sophomore year started off pretty well, but this was when I started getting high a little bit more frequently and my grades and school attendance started to deteriorate. I quit playing football after my sophomore season, despite the fact that I would’ve probably been on varsity the next year. Around November 2010, my parents realized something was going on, because I had lost interest in sports, which had been my lifeblood for so long, and I seemed depressed (which I was). I claimed that my grade problems were due to ADD, so my parents took me to a psychiatrist, who told me that he was going to have to drug test me before he could give me a prescription for Ritalin. That was when I admitted that I had been smoking pot, and from there on my parents watched me like hawks. The summer between sophomore and junior year was when I truly became a pothead. I would spend every afternoon at an abandoned house in my neighborhood, getting high with my friends. I started getting caught regularly, and despite the consequences my parents threatened, I would proudly proclaim that I had no intention of stopping. It was also around this time that I started experimenting with other drugs, including mushrooms, acid, ecstasy, molly and Xanax. I used these drugs only on occasion, and was weekend drinker, but I smoked pot every day without fail. I had started regularly lifting $20-$40 out of my mom’s purse at night, so that I could buy some bud the next day. When junior year started, my smoking habits did not slow down, and pretty soon I had C’s and F’s in almost every class. In October 2011, my parents decided it was time for a change of scenery, and I went to live with my grandma in a small, country town. I had just gotten my driver’s license in August, and I would regularly show up late to school, and then sneak off campus at lunch to get high by myself. I stuck out like a sore thumb, with long hair and Austin-ish clothing, and was quickly on the administration’s radar. I had a few friends there, but for the most part I hated it, so I would drive to Austin almost every weekend, hang out and get high with my friends and then buy at least an eighth to take back to Lampasas with me. By Christmastime I was so miserable that I convinced my parents to let me come back to Austin and re-enroll in Westlake. I don’t really remember much in this time span, but history repeated itself, and in April I went to live with my cousin Brad in South Carolina. Things
weren’t too bad in South Carolina. I did well in school (because it was outrageously easy), and I got along with Brad a lot better than I did with my parents. Although I liked living with Brad, I missed my friends and my sister a lot, so I came back to Austin at the end of the summer and enrolled in Westlake, again, for senior year. Senior year was a disaster from the start. I always owed someone money, but I smoked so much I never had money. I always had bud on me, and I was always high. I started missing class a lot, especially first period, because I would wake up 10 minutes before school started and refuse to go to school sober. My relationship with my parents was almost completely gone. My mom was tired of fighting me over everything, so we never really spoke unless I needed something from her, and every conversation I had with my dad was regarding either my curfew or my incredibly poor grades. My brothers were both away at college, so really the only close family relationship I had was with my sister. Everything in my life was unmanageable, but I didn’t really realize it. School, relationships, finances, etc. In December I bought a fake ID, and this made things infinitely worse. Not only did I always have bud, I could now buy alcohol anytime I wanted it. Which was, of course, all of the time. I would go to Spec’s and buy $100 worth of liquor or beer, with cash that technically belonged to someone else. Almost every day at lunch I would split a case of beer with a friend, whoever was willing to get loaded. It was no longer about getting high or drunk; I just didn’t want to think about the pile of problems I was building. I had been playing rugby during senior year, and in late January I got a pretty bad concussion in one of our matches. I realized that I wasn’t going to play for the rest of the season. The attendance requirements for rugby were really the only thing that kept me going to class, so naturally when my rugby season was over, I stopped going. My parents threatened to kick me out, which I didn’t realize at the time was completely called for, and I was so offended that I decided to leave on my own. I was too ashamed and prideful to ask my friends if I could stay with them, so instead I used money that I owed others to stay in a Motel 6 for almost a week. I locked myself in that motel room with a bong and a bottle of whiskey. The only times I left were to walk to McDonald’s, the liquor store and the tattoo shop. On day six of the glorious motel life, my sister informed me that my parents
AND I’M AN ADDICT were going to file a missing persons report if I didn’t come home. So to avoid an even bigger mess, I went home. And about a week later I was introduced to cocaine. I started to go to school again, but my attendance record was still unbelievably bad, as was my cocaine addiction. I was already a thief, but usually I stole cash and iPods. However, coke was so expensive I started stealing things of greater value from my parents, including a large block of silver, which I pawned for $500. The Monday after Spring Break, my assistant principal called me into his office and confronted me about my drug use. He said I had two options: My attendance record was already going to prevent me from graduating in May, so I could spend the rest of the semester in AEP and then return for senior year in 2013; or I could go to rehab and they would work with the treatment center and try to help me graduate. I had no intention of doing either of those things, until that night. When I got home, I was very high on coke, and my sister told me that my parents had found my stash of bud as well as my bong and all other paraphernalia. I went to my parent’s room and started yelling at my dad to give it back to me, but he had already thrown it all away. I ran down to my room, so mad that I was in tears, and starting punching holes in my door. My dad came and tried to calm me down, and once I was calm he asked me what was going on. He said he knew I wasn’t just smoking pot anymore. I told him everything that was going on, and what had happened with my assistant principal earlier that day. I told him I needed to go to rehab. My dad spoke to a consultant and she found a place for me to go. I had voted for a wilderness camp — the idea of hiking and camping for 30 days sounded great to me, almost like a vacation. Instead, they picked a 90-day, all-male, adolescent, inpatient facility called Hazel Street Recovery Center in Texarkana. My first week at Hazel Street was very interesting. When I first got there, I was greeted with a big bear hug by Charles, a 5ft 8in, 250 pound black man with about five teeth. I freaking loved that guy. Around day three, my brain fog was kind of lifted, and I started to feel a lot of emotions again. I put in a request to get my sunglasses, because I still had symptoms from my concussion (one of which was extreme sensitivity to light), and it was denied. I didn’t understand, I had mandatory outdoor recreation time, but they weren’t
going to let me have my sunglasses. I was really confused, and because I was so confused I started to get really mad, and I was so mad that I started crying and cussing at one of the staff members. I talked to my counselor about it; I told him that I didn’t know what had gotten into me. He said that I just had to learn how to deal with emotions again. I didn’t get in trouble again for a long time. I started to really enjoy some of the meetings we had. I began to realize that if I could have fun and experience serenity in that crappy little treatment center, in a crappy little town, with a bunch of weirdoes like myself, then life sober could be pretty sweet. About halfway through my 90 days, my mom told me about the Center for the Study of Addiction and Recovery (CSAR) at Texas Tech. I talked to a student at the Center, and he explained all of the perks to me. The Center provides both academic and therapeutic support for more than 120 students living in long-term recovery. They hold all different sorts of 12-step-based meetings, and they even have a student lounge in the basement of their building with a computer lab, TV room, kitchen, ping pong tables, pool tables and arcade games. They also give scholarships to all of their students, and provide as much free coffee as you can drink. It sounded like a sweet gig, but I wasn’t sold at first. I had already planned to go to UT-San Antonio and transfer to UT Austin after a year. I grew up in Austin and had always dreamed of being a Longhorn. Now I was at a crossroads — go to Tech and apply for the Center, or go to UTSA and maybe transfer to UT if I made the grades. I thought about it for a few days, and eventually made what I now know was the right decision. On April 30, the day before the enrollment deadline, I enrolled in TTU for the fall of 2013. When I got out of treatment in June, I moved to Lubbock and into a collegiate halfway house. I loved it there, and I made a lot of good friends. Lots of guys complained about
the meeting requirements, food and chores, but it was paradise for me. Maybe it was because I had just been in treatment for three months, but I enjoyed going to the meetings, and I enjoyed going to IOP (Intensive Outpatient Therapy). I even got a sense satisfaction out of taking drug tests and knowing I was going to pass them, as weird as that sounds. My journey through recovery has been enlightening, but not always easy. I’ve had to learn how to function as a normal person, and be a productive member of society. In the process I have learned amazing things about myself, and continue to almost daily. I go camping and mountain-biking regularly, rather than sitting around smoking pot and snorting coke 24/7. I have developed an interest in politics that goes beyond “Dude, did you hear Colorado legalized weed? I like weed.” I’ve developed meaningful relationships that aren’t based solely on getting high or drinking. I get to enjoy and appreciate the life I’m living, and the person I am becoming. I’m now a full-time student at Texas Tech, and working part-time at the Outdoor Pursuits Center (a section of the Student Rec Center). I’m on an academic scholarship, as well as a recovery scholarship awarded to me by the CSAR. If I don’t drink or die before March 23rd, I will have one year of recovery. That’s 365 days, in a row, holidays and weekends included. The simple fact is this: through working a 12-step program, I have lost the need and even the desire to get high. Being an addict, I have no ability to moderate or control my habits. Therefore, I’m very fond of the phrase “Moderation is for cowards, anything worth doing in life is worth over-doing.” Drugs and drinking just aren’t worth doing for me. If you feel like you can’t stop getting high or drinking, or if you can relate to any of the things I have said, and you want to talk about it, please email me at brendan.mcgrath@ttu. edu. —Brendan McGrath
If I don’t drink or die before March 23, I will have one year of recovery. —2013 graduate Brendan McGrath
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ingredients in molly and other synthetic drugs are mostly legally produced in China, then shipped all around the world. When these shipments reach the United States, underground chemists add any ingredient they want to them, from bleach to meth. But despite this, there are so many references to molly in popular songs that glorify it that it seems like nothing to worry about, combating whatever negative stigma there used to be surrounding dangerous synthetic drugs. (See lines in Trinidad James’ “All Gold Everything,” Rihanna’s “Diamonds” and Miley Cyrus’ “We Can’t Stop.”) Molly has gained a fabricated reputation for making parties and concerts more fun, and it’s environments like those that make it that much more appealing to drug users. Imagine the pounding music and a dense crowd of teenagers, passing around molly. It almost seems “harmless” there. It’s just something that makes the party more fun, right? Wrong. Dead wrong. U.S. emergency room visits involving MDMA have jumped 123 percent since 2004, according to data compiled by the Drug Abuse Warning Network. Even those who are not forced into immediate hospitalization after taking the drug often experience symptoms which can include a rapid heartbeat, high blood pressure, blood vessel constriction, prolonged panic attacks, sweating and depression once the euphoric high is over. Whether or not we’re directly exposed to drug use, we like to think we know our fair share when it comes to the basics. Marijuana slows you down and cocaine speeds you up. But when it comes to molly, the fact of the matter is, you can never truly know what’s coming. You might think the game is in your hands when in reality, it is just the opposite. Synthetic drugs can control you. It doesn’t matter if you take molly or any other synthetic drug in the form of a pill or powder because you are gambling either way. Ask yourself if you are willing to take that risk. There are no second chances when dealing with life or death. You can’t continue to tell yourself that you will always be the lucky one. Of course the best option is to not do drugs at all, and we are not under the impression that most of the student body is involved with them. But the deaths of two recent Westlake graduates by alleged drug overdoses have shown us just how dangerous and close to home these drugs are, and we, drug users or otherwise, cannot continue to ignore that. The best thing we can do is to make sure we are completely aware of the effects of the substances out there. It is crucial to have a better knowledge of synthetic drugs so that we understand what they are capable of, and the potential they have to destroy the lives of our peers.
n Friday afternoons, the last bell rings to dismiss all students from class for the weekend. By 6 o’clock the “weekenders” will know who they’re kickin’ it with, and by 8 they’ll know what parties will be happening. They know exactly what time their curfew is, they know the rules and they know how disappointed their parents would be if they were caught breaking those rules. Without a doubt, many teenagers go out, drink, get high and don’t think it’s a big deal. All of the stories they’ve heard about regarding overdoses and deaths are just abstract concepts to them, things that happen to kids at other schools in other states. It couldn’t happen to them — they’re just partying, it’s not an issue. They think they know what they’re getting into. But what if somehow they don’t have it all ﬁgured out? What if a synthetic drug is making their reckless choices even more dangerous? There is no exact definition of a synthetic drug, because they are always changing. Synthetic drugs are substances that are mixed with a wide range of chemicals. Unlike the the drugs we have been warned about and understand the effects of like marijuana and cocaine, these drugs are more unpredictable. They are designed to be something different each time they are distributed. One example of these that you’ve probably heard of is ecstasy. It’s a hallucinogenic drug that has been known to have caused several cases of heart failure and extreme heat stroke resulting from overdoses. Thus, the drug lost popularity after peaking in the mid ‘90s (Scientific American). But in a successful effort to drive up sales again, drug dealers rebranded, tweaking the ingredients and changing the name and to something more attractive and fun — molly. Teenagers seem to have the notion that molly is somehow safe. Many know to stay away from hardcore drugs like meth, cocaine and heroin, but they convince themselves that molly’s consequences can’t be that bad. But what if someone told these teenagers that molly could contain every single one of those more familiar drugs in one small, colorful pill? The truth is, more often than not, molly contains no methylenedioxymethamphetamine, (MDMA), the purest form of ecstasy. While MDMA is a banned hallucinogenic itself, drug dealers will lace it with other chemicals like methamphetamine, caffeine, aspirin, bath salts and cocaine. The
AFTER THE HIGH
Synthetic drugs: more harmful than you think
THE SKIN YOU’RE IN
Learn the harmful truth about tanning
have an old photo of myself from camp, sitting on a bench with my cabin mates all dressed up and ready to go to a dance. The shirt I was wearing revealed the skin on my shoulders and arms, bronzed even though it was only early June. Two thin, shockingly white stripes stood out on my chest, revealing where the straps of my swim suit had protected the true color of my skin. That photo makes me cringe. My mother sent me off to camp that year with two whole bottles of sunscreen, and I didn’t even finish one of them. I was naïve, absorbing UV rays as I pranced about in the summer sun. I didn’t realize that my newly darkened skin was actually an increase in melanin that signaled sun damage. And even though I returned from camp with a tanned glow, it came at the cost of an agonizingly itchy heat rash that covered my neck with painful red bumps. A couple years later, I started being more careful with my skin. My dad grew up in 1960s California, where he participated in swim team and water polo and went to the beach most weekends. He used baby oil to get the darkest tan possible. Now he has to suffer the consequences, periodically going to the doctor to get bits of cancer removed from his skin before they spread. My aunt was also affected by skin cancer, which eventually spread and killed her when she was just 49. I don’t want that to happen to me. Each year my goal is to come back from vacation with as little tan as possible. I’m that girl at the beach slathering on sunscreen under the
shade of an umbrella while everyone else sprawls out under the sun. I’m perfectly fine with having unfashionably pale skin if it means not getting cancer or premature wrinkling. People who actually go to tanning salons to achieve the perfect color all year round baffle me. It’s like they’re begging for melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. Despite tanning salons’ claims that tanning booths are safer because the UV exposure is in a controlled and timed setting, they can actually be even more harmful than sun exposure. According to the FDA, they can be used at the same intensity all year round. It isn’t worth the health risks to have a “perfect glow.” Besides, since when is one particular skin tone considered desirable? Aren’t we supposed to discourage that? We all just need to embrace what we’re given, no matter where our skin lies on the color spectrum. If you really do think tan skin is more beautiful than your natural coloring, then at least forgo the beach and tanning salons and opt for a much safer tan in a can. It doesn’t expose your skin to harmful rays, and it’s cheaper, too. At Darque Tan, it costs $25 a month to use the least expensive tanning booth. Compare that to the about $8 it costs for a bottle of Jergens Natural Glow, and you have yourself a no-brainer. With summer just around the corner, it’s almost time to make vacation plans. When it comes time to pack, remember to throw sunscreen and moisturizer into your suitcase. Your skin will thank you later. —Sara Phillips
TANGIBLE FACTS* • Indoor tanners are 75 percent more likely to develop melanoma than those who have never used tanning booths • Although people with darker complexions are less prone to sun damage, their skin can still be affected by UV rays Ariana Gomez Reyes
*Facts from the FDA website
Accident survivor opens up about alcohol-induced car crash
o one ever thinks anything will happen to them,” junior Will Hunter said. “You hear about people dying but I never thought about it. I thought I was fine.” But the morning of Dec. 7, when Will awoke in a hospital bed, his perspective changed completely. “What the hell is going on?” Wired to IVs and covered in bruises, he glanced over at the bloodsoaked clothes he had been wearing that night to a friend’s house, a small get-together that grew as the alcohol flooded his blood and clouded his thinking. The last thing Will remembers was being at a party surrounded by friends. He doesn’t remember the decision to get in the car or the instinctive instant he fastened his seatbelt. He doesn’t remember anyone attempting to take his keys or running two red lights at 12:30 in the morning, catching air in an intersection and smashing into a cement wall. Or the flames that filled his car and threatened his life. He will never recall the dozens of police cars surrounding his wreck, the smoke, the chaos, the miracle. “I was going very, very fast, they clocked me in at 87 down Exposition, which is a 30 mph zone,” Will said. “I ran the first red light and caught air. On the second light, a family saw me driving. They had a green, and after I passed they called the police.” This family’s decision to call 911 saved Will’s life, as the cops chased his car. “Soon after, I drove into the wall, flipped, skidded, and then my engine exploded,” Will said. “The police were not far behind me — they got there within a minute or two. My car caught on fire. Had it been any longer it would have been bad.” The officer pulled Will from the flames unconscious as his right hand began to catch on fire, leaving him with only a burn on his thumb. Although 75 percent of drunk drivers forget to fasten their seat belt, Will did, allowing him to walk away from the accident with minor injuries. Will’s mother, Mary Ellen Hunter, was at home waiting up for Will.
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She had texted him earlier in the night to get home, as he was late for curfew. “I heard the sirens from my house and had a gut instinct that something was very wrong,” Mary Ellen Hunter said. “Then one of Will’s friends approached my door because they had seen [the wrecked car] and I was very calm. Incredibly calm. I just asked if he was OK, and this boy said he didn’t know. I got in my car and drove to the hospital. It was the worst car ride of my life.” When Will awoke at Brackenridge Hospital still intoxicated, he was confused and confronted with consequences. “I sat back against the wall for a good half hour trying to figure out what was going on, then I really freaked out,” Will said. “And my first question was: did I kill anyone? Because killing yourself is one thing, but killing an innocent person is another. It’s 110 percent the drunk driver’s fault. My mom was crying; she had her head in her hands. At this point I was still very intoxicated.” According to National Traffic Safety Administration, around 28 people die in a drunk driving accident every day, and someone is injured almost every 90 seconds. “Every time I hear of [a fatal] drunk driving accident, my heart sinks, because that should have, and probably would have been me,” Will said. “I don’t know how I got out of the wreck with not only so little injuries, but not having hurt anyone. I think it’s almost better that I don’t remember anything, because I think remembering something like that is so traumatizing. To actually remember it would be too much. I’m certainly never drinking and driving again. This has been a life-changing experience for me.” Prior to his accident, Will, like many inclined to drive home after a few drinks, put little thought into the consequences of driving under the influence. “Honestly, I drank and drove a lot,” Will said. “As scary as it is that I almost died, I hope that people can learn from this. It’s a very prominent and serious issue. I hope that my friends would change their opinions on drinking and driving.”
ALCOHOL Texas is leading in drunk driving fatalities, and according to Travis County Police Department, one in four high school seniors have reported to driving a vehicle following alcohol consumption. “Drunk driving has gotten worse,” Will said. “Now all my friends can drive, and now that we can all drive everyone always says ‘Oh, I’ll take a cab home,’ but no one wants to pay and you’re more focused on getting from point A to B, and it’s a huge issue. Everyone’s doing it. Kids, parents, everyone.” The night of the accident, Will had no strategy for getting home. “The start of the issue is I never had a plan on how I was gonna get home,” Will said. “I drove to the party and I knew I was going to drive home but didn’t plan on drinking as much as I did.” Contrary to urban myths, impairment is not reliant upon the type of alcohol consumed, rather the number of drinks over a certain period of time. Neither coffee, a cold shower or exercise will sober a person; only time can. The truth is, even at a Blood Alcohol Content as low as .02, alcohol dilutes the water content of the brain, affecting a person’s response time and accuracy. At .05, the probability of a crash doubles, and at .08, a driver is up to seven times more prone to an accident. “To think that I hit the wall at 87 mph,” Will said. “That’s ridiculous, I’m not even a fast driver. That’s a neighborhood street. I honestly don’t know what was going through my mind.” Will stresses that while many underage drivers are tempted to drive under the influence, the issue is more prevalent in males than females. According to Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the risk of death while driving with an elevated Blood Alcohol Content is 385 times that of a driver with a zero BAC, and the risk for males driving under the influence is 707 times greater than a sober driver. “I think it’s more common in guys than in girls for sure,” Will said. “Being a guy you’re just like ‘whatever, it’s not a big deal,’ and you’re more careless.” Will totaled his Hummer H3. The bottom of the car slammed upward upon impact, crushing Will’s feet, shattering the GPS and windshield, but miraculously, not Will. The rest of the car was burned inside and out and towed to an impound lot. “When we saw the car, my mom started crying again,” Will said. “And the impound guy said, ‘you know I’ve been in this business a long time. I see a lot of wrecks, every day, but I’ve seen very few this bad. You are so lucky to be limping here right now.’” Will and his family feel very lucky that he survived the wreck. “Every indication of that accident, every policeman I’ve talked to, the tow truck driver, who was a volunteer fireman for 40 years, everyone was in a state of shock that that kid walked away from it with such minor injuries,” his mom said. “He really should be dead. So obviously God has a plan for his life and he’s got to figure out what it is.” Will’s parents have taken away his license until further notice and are cautious about the misconceptions surrounding the issue. “I’m a parent of a teenager, and they don’t seem to be afraid of drinking and driving. I’m terrified,” his mom said. “This is what we call a wake up call, and if that doesn’t teach you, then really I don’t know what will. Will is extremely lucky to be alive.” In prevention, Will sees potential for change. “I felt like such a bad person in the weeks following, and I’m taking this opportunity to share my story,” Will said. “I also think sharing experiences and making people scared of it is important.” Will said he encourages his peers to understand the dangers of drunk driving, and that it can happen to anyone who suffers a brief lapse in judgement. “I know other people are like ‘wow good for you’, but they’re still out there doing it every Friday and Saturday night,” Will said. “I really think this experience happened so that I would never put myself in that situation again, and by telling my story I hope at least one person will realize what a serious issue this is.” That being said, Will has one question. “The majority of people don’t care,” Will said. “Should it really take a fatality to change people’s minds?” —Elizabeth Emery
On Dec. 7, 2013, junior Will Hunter crashed his car after leaving a party. courtesy photo
Since the accident, Will has made an effort to return to a normal life, staying postive and open about what happened. Cade Ritter
Every time I hear of [a fatal] drunk driving accident, my heart sinks, because that probably would have been me. —junior Will Hunter
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Synesthesia connects senses for sophomore e were making magnets with our names on them in third grade. I was searching for the ‘right’ colors for each letter in my name. “I guess this shade of blue will have to work for y” (even though it wasn’t quite the right shade) I thought to myself as I glued down the colored letters, spelling out L-U-C-Y (light pink, light purple, yellow, blueviolet). Now, you might be wondering what I mean by the ‘right’ colors. When I was little, I would tell people that “in my world” every letter and number had a color. As I grew older, the colors didn’t change or leave and that shade of blue was still not the right one for y. I thought it was just something I did and I couldn’t imagine the colors not being there. In seventh grade I discovered this color-letter/ number connection had a name. I was in the library when a book called A MangoShaped Space caught my eye. I read the back in shock — it had a character that had a similar color-letter connection. I checked it out and read it eagerly, intrigued to hear I wasn’t the only one. What I learned was that I have a neurological condition that only affects about 1 in 2000 people called synesthesia. Synesthesia comes from the Greek words meaning “together” and “sensation” and it is a condition in which more than one sense is connected. One sensation involuntarily causes another sensation. I have the most common type: color-grapheme synesthesia, which means letters and numbers (graphemes) have colors attached. Other types include color-sound and the rare form, lexical-gustatory (in which certain sounds will create a taste in the synesthete’s mouth). The character in the book had, as well as color-graphemes, the color-sound form, and when she heard certain sounds colors would appear a few feet in front of her eyes. I was confused. I had never seen my colors in front of my face like that — they were internal. When I think of the letter “e” I know it is lime green, and I see it that way in my mind’s eye but I don’t physically see green on a page. What I learned (after lots and lots of research) was that there are projectors and associators. Projectors, like the character in the book, see their colors physically in front of them. Associators, like me, associate senses with each other, we don’t see them in front of our eyes. For example, when I see a piece of paper
IN LIVING COLOR
with the number seven written in purple ink, I’ll see it in purple ink. But, when I think about the number seven, I see it as orange in my mind. As I was doing research, I discovered that my sister and a friend also share this rare condition with me. We compared our colors (neither of them had the right ones, of course) and it was interesting to see if any of our colors were the same or similar. Having synesthesia has its advantages, as well as a few disadvantages. On the upside, memorizing dates and phone numbers is a breeze. I have always been fairly good at memorizing, but when I realized I could consciously use my colors to help (I had been subconsciously using them already) it became even easier. On the downside, it can make coloring assignments absolutely frustrating sometimes. For example, coloring the periodic table — a seemingly mindless activity — is a daunting task that can make me feel like yanking out my hair. What color should I color Argon? Red for the word Argon? Green for the atomic mass? Dark purple for the atomic number? Light blue because it’s a Noble Gas? If I had a choice, I would never give it up. Sure, some people might think it’s weird, sure some people might not understand, sure this or that, but it’s an aspect of who I am and I can’t imagine living without it. —Lucy Wimmer
photo by Tim Whaling
la M oss
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paper. This act of controlling something gives my mind temporary relief from the thoughts and anxieties. The National Institute of Mental Health says that this is not necessarily hereditary and begins to appear around age 9. For me, it started around age 10. It started slowly. First it was cleaning out my room, then it was the colorcoding. As I got older, the anxieties got more frequent and fervent — creating a more intense need for control. The strange thing about all this is I was an incredibly different kid from the person I am now before the onset of the OCD symptoms. I used to not be able to walk through my room due to the maelstrom of clothes and toys. The drawers in my nightstand were often filled to the brim with meaningless papers, wrappers, CDs and long-abandoned picture books. If you were to take a walk through my room now, the most mess you would see would be my unmade bed or my often cluttered desk, which weirdly enough, I’m totally cool with. But other than that, I cannot stand to leave my room in a state of disarray. I can leave my house and not worry about it, but being home and having that mess makes me physically ill to even look at. OCD is a lifelong thing. It can sometimes be helped with antidepressant and antianxiety medications. A lot of people view OCD as a negative, debilitating condition; however, I view it as positive. Knowing this will be with me for my whole life is oddly comforting. Life is so very chaotic and messy, but the OCD creates this nice protective shield for me. Whether it’s entirely “healthy” is up for debate, but I don’t really care if it isn’t. I’m not hurting myself or others. And besides, accepting that we don’t have total control over everything is hard. But, I have the compulsions to have a little control over something. And having that control is one small step towards a better life for me. —Nikki Humble
he amount of times I hear, “oh sorry, I’m so OCD, haha,” in a day is kind of astounding. It’s so reassuring to know there are so many of us out there who constantly obsess over the most ludicrous things and use compulsive behavior to make up for it, maybe even driving everyone away with said behaviors. And gosh, being labeled as the “anal retentive control freakazoid” constantly. How do you deal with it? I mean making your bed every day is definitely a true sign of compulsive behavior. And worrying about that test, maybe obsessing over it for a few minutes? Wow — you’ve got full-blown obsessive compulsive disorder. In all seriousness, there are people who actually carry on their day-to-day lives with this disorder, like me. It can be life-threatening or self-injurious. There are several things I do: whenever there are numbers on signs along the road I have to add them to make a one digit number. For example, if a sign has the miles to the next major city, let’s say 89, I have to first add the eight and nine. That makes 17, so I add the one and seven to make eight. It puts me at ease. If I don’t it’s not the end of the world, but it makes driving more relaxing. When listening to the radio, the volume needs to be in multiples of five, but 12 is OK. Twelve is acceptable but only because it’s my lucky number. When the radio numbers aren’t at those standards, it sets my teeth on edge … I have to fix it; there’s no way around it. T-shirts need to be folded properly when put away, same with all other articles of drawer-worthy clothes. Wadding is messy and gross; uniformity is key to creating the perfect organized room. Color-coding is essential for a fluid closet and a clean backpack: math is pink, English is orange, Spanish is yellow, electives are green, history is blue, science is purple. This is just a mere preview of my mind. I have been diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder. The Center for Disease Control defines this disorder as unwanted thoughts or anxieties, called obsessions, followed by repeated behaviors, called compulsions. For me, my unwanted thoughts are the constant worries of the future: whether or not I’ll get into a “good” college, whether or not I’ll be alone, which are common worries for people my age; only they’re on a constant loop for me. Imagine having to watch the same TV show for 18 hours on repeat with no means of shutting it off — that’s essentially how my mind works. As much as I wish I could stop it all, I can’t. That’s where the compulsive behavior comes in. It’s a comfortable security blanket.The compulsions are my only escape from the obsessions. They are slightly irrational; cleaning and organizing my room at two in the morning, adjusting the volume on the radio, straightening piles of
JUST THE SPECIFICS
Junior reveals the truth about obsessive compulsive disorder
was always a strange kid growing up, and in many ways I still live up to that title. I possessed a seemingly bottomless reservoir of spastic energy that fueled my weird, often incoherent speech and thoughts. Never understanding the social standards that others seemed to inherently recognize, I talked to any stranger who seemed interesting. However, my most prominent peculiarity was my inability to ever sit still and my obsession with being touched. The feeling of my mother or father stroking my arm or back always felt inexplicably tranquilizing, as if my parents were caressing me for the first time. Oddly enough it still does. I could also vaguely recall a fun place my parents would take me to, a retreat where I was awarded for what seemed to be just bouncing and jumping off athletic equipment. Needless to say, it was a pretty sweet arrangement. I goofed off for a while and in return they would reward me with gum … every spastic kid’s dream. This peculiar cradle of my infancy was an occupational therapy center, a clinic that allows patients — such as myself — to develop the work and daily lifestyle skills of standard people. My childhood appeared carefree; granted, kids and teachers alike found my behavior unusual, but what did I care? I had fun just being myself, and that was all that mattered right? The summer before middle school started, my mother told me that I had SID, Sensory Integration Disorder (now considered Sensory Processing Disorder or SPD). SPD is an inborn disorder in which the conditioned person has difficulty processing information collected by their senses. This causes the patient to overreact or underreact to a specific or multiple senses. For example, a child may find an ordinary sound such as flushing the toilet overwhelming or fail to respond to the pain of putting their hand on a stove. When I first heard this, I didn’t think much of the news, aside from it sounding like I had some sort of super-power, so actually I thought it was pretty awesome. Over time, however, I began to realize what having this disability truly means. I remembered how hard it was to make friends, all the trouble that my spontaneity and lack of physical boundaries had gotten me in, and how the loneliness that lingered with me for six years had finally shattered the walls my innocence had put up, leaving me naked and ashamed. SPD was my disorder, and I couldn’t run away or hide from myself. I spent the following three years of middle-school figuring out how the world worked. Instead of learning more about myself and how to behave in social situations during elementary school, SPD had taken all my attention to cope with in the past,
so in terms of public behavior I had to start from square one. Throughout my slow grind toward understanding society and myself, a constant self-resentment haunted me and my freshly labeled condition. A festering anger toward my own ignorance, what I didn’t understand at the time and what I couldn’t comprehend in the past, kindled into self-disgust that could only be dowsed over time. Eventually, after suffering three years of self-conscious trial and error, by the end of my freshman year of high school not only had I finally been able to cope with my disorder, but I had developed to the point where I could understand myself, my limitations, my body and my attributes. I was no longer my own obstacle and I could experience life to a greater extent than before. Because of my new-found self esteem, I now look at myself and the world around me with satisfaction. We all have our own problems, and whether they’re critical or trivial, they must be attended to. I’m so fortunate and grateful that I was given the opportunity to understand my problem and the resources necessary to overcome them. Many kids and adults still can’t recognize the symptoms for SPD, and they’re forced to survive with their hindrance, oblivious to the help they could receive. Everyone deserves a chance to fight for themselves, which is why SPD must become recognizable and familiar, to give those unfortunate children a chance to earn what everyone deserves: self-atonement. —Michael Wiggin
uhlmann Georgina K
A student’s experience with Sensory Processing Disorder
photos by Tim Whaling
y eyes look dead. I see in them only sorrow, boundless grief and despair,” she proclaims in her blog, titled “hurt myself again today.” Her activity consists of pictures of scarred thighs and bloody wrists. Her bluntly-worded posts ooze misery and self-hatred. “Wear shirts with long sleeves,” she counsels an anonymous asker seeking advice on hiding evidence of self-harm. “And if these are cuts are closer to hands, wear bracelets, watches, bandanas, long gloves with open fingers, etc.” She is 15-year-old Emily from Poland, and her blog is not unique. According to The Washington Post, as many as 197,200 individuals were discussing eating disorders and self-harm on tumblr in September of 2013, despite the ban that was placed on such content the previous year. With content ranging from “thinspiration,” which glorifies eating disorder behavior, to black and white images of slashed skin with captions like “I just want it to end,” these online communities thrive on sadness and isolation. Those involved feel a sense of unity in suffering, but studies have shown that the sites have the potential for more harm than good. “I had an [eating disorder] patient who had gotten off those sites,” Austin nutritionist Sally Bowman said. “But she started up again and that correlated with her relapse.” The content is often “triggering,” meaning that seeing it can encourage people at risk for certain behavior to engage in harmful activities. Furthermore, the focus on negative emotions in these communities can prevent and even discourage recovery. “You have the people who are saying ‘yes, we do it also,’” Westlake student support counselor Robert Rowland said. “It normalizes [the behavior] and says ‘this is OK.’ Then people get drawn into [the sites] instead of looking into other, healthier ways they can manage stress,
depression, etc.” While the intent of these online communities is often to support people who suffer from psychological illnesses by giving them a safe place to release their emotions, they frequently fall into the realm of supporting the condition itself, rather than the person trying to work through their problems. “They’re giving power to the the disorder,” Westlake student support counselor Katie Bryant said. Seduced by the illusion of empathy on these sites, teens seeking a non-judgemental place to express themselves find like-minded peers who share tips and validate one another’s actions. “You don’t want to be alone when you feel bad,” sophomore Julia Schoos said. “So then you talk about your problems and you get caught in this spiral where you’re identifying with this problem you have. Expressing your feelings on the internet can be helpful to a certain extent, but you can fall down that slippery slope way too fast because you have people who say ‘yeah, I feel the same way’ and then it becomes part of your identity.” Self-identifying with a disorder can be detrimental to a person’s psyche and can hinder recovery, as people have difficulty dissociating themselves from their disorder. “I’ve had an eating disorder for several years,” an anonymous student said. “After living with it for so long, it’s hard to imagine life without it. It sucks, but it becomes part of you and you can’t remember how to eat normally.” According to edbites.com, a website dedicated to eating disorder science, the length of time that someone suffers from an eating disorder is often proportional to the duration of recovery and risk of relapse, meaning that these websites have the potential to make recovery even harder than it already is. “People get stuck on [their disorder] and on the internet there’s a
photos courtesy of tumblr.com
These images from tumblr blogs are examples of negativity that has the potential to encourage destructive behaviors and mindsets.
trends + traditions westlakefeatherduster.com
How social media-fed romanticism of mental illness is affecting those most vulnerable perpetual state of illness,” Julia said. “They post on their ‘about me’ page ‘Hi, I’m so-and-so. I have anxiety and depression.’ They can’t move on.” In addition to wallowing in misery, these online communities often encourage and romanticize self-destructive behavior while spreading negative information concerning recovery, ultimately leading to a downward spiral of emotional distress. “There are so many beautiful books, movies and pieces of art that contain things about depression, suicide and dying, because there’s such intense human emotion that’s involved with that,” sophomore Laura Jessich said. “But when you make the problems themselves into art, people want to become like that, share in those beautiful, tragic experiences. But it’s not this beautiful romantic thing, it’s an illness. Art can come from depression but art isn’t real life. Art is inspired by real life, but you shouldn’t live your whole life like that.” By glorifying traits and actions involved with self-destructive behavior, these sites insinuate that recovery is undesirable and detrimental to a person’s individuality. “A lot of those posts make recovery seem like a bad thing, like by getting better you’re giving up an important part of yourself,” said the anonymous student. “But it’s really the opposite. Recovery is about separating yourself from your disorder and figuring out who you are as a person — figuring out how to live your life without resorting to the harmful behaviors that you’ve been hiding behind.” Those who frequently visit these hubs of self-destruction share tips such as spreading information on how to hide the cuts and recom-
In addition to wallowing in misery, these online communities often encourage and romanticize self-destructive behavior while spreading negative information concerning recovery, ultimately leading to a downward spiral of emotional distress.
mending appetite suppressants. While this may seem blatantly destructive to people not involved, those entrenched in the websites don’t see it that way. “There’s a tendency for certain people with anorexia, for example, to want to be the ‘best’ anorexics — be thinner, be more restrictive,” Bowman said. “In the mindset of some anorexics, they’re looking down upon those who have to eat regular food, feeling like they’ve beaten hunger. It becomes almost a game — there’s a competitive element to it — and by sharing tips they feel like they’re helping one another.” Competition between sufferers of mental disorders is a serious problem as people plunge deeper and deeper into their negative behaviors in order to feel “worthy” of their sadness. “A lot of people come from fairly privileged lives and that makes us feel guilty about being depressed,” said the anonymous student. “You feel like you don’t deserve to be sad, which of course, just makes everything harder because it doesn’t change the fact that you’re depressed. Then you feel worse about yourself and you start to do more and more negative stuff so that maybe one day you’ll feel like you’re allowed to be sad. Then you meet someone else who has it worse and that feeling of not deserving to be sad starts all over again. It’s a vicious cycle.” This idea of deserving sadness is a dangerous distortion, as it makes people ashamed of their feelings and discourages them from seeking help. It’s a popular misconception among people with psychological disorders that there is no way out of their situation. However, nothing could be farther from the truth. School counselors, psychologists and other licensed professionals are excellent resources for struggling teens, and professionally moderated therapy groups can provide the peer empathy that people seek online. Yet no matter how much external support a person receives, only they can chose to turn toward the light of recovery, not the light of a computer screen. —Georgina Kuhlmann and Nikki Humble
NATIONAL SUICIDE PREVENTION LIFELINE 1-800-273-8255
trigger warning: contains self harm and eating disorder related terminology
Senior Hannah Turner was diagnosed Exaggerated Sinus Arrhythmia. Tim Whaling
Student struggles with new heart condition diagnosis
never thought it could happen to me. There were no signs. I was a teenager. I was homecoming princess. I spent Friday nights at football games. I joined clubs and sports. Suddenly, I was in the hospital. I was hooked up to tubes and machines. I was being probed and prodded with long sterile tools. There were X-rays and more tests. The monitor beeped and my spirits fell. The beeps were uneven. They were always uneven. I was broken. No one knew until now. I was lying there, having my future stamped out and dreams put on hold. Poor me. My heart is broken. It doesn’t work right. Poor me. There isn’t a cure. Poor me. No one in the world could ever understand. Heart
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conditions are for old people. Cardiologists never see teenagers. It used to be the reason I’d wake up at night. My heart would pump once, then lag, then race. These palpitations only lasted a few seconds each time. Some irregularity in heart beats is normal for everyone. I didn’t realize that I wasn’t normal. The first time I had an episode, I was rushed to the hospital. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t move. I couldn’t speak. The ER nurse thought I was having a heart attack. I was 16 years old. The doctors put me in a wheelchair and brought me to a room to give me an Electrocardiogram. EKGs are used by hooking up patients to a machine that can monitor heart rates. The doctors decided to
sedate me to get my heart rate down — the shots only accelerated my heart rate. Finally the nurses partially put me to sleep so they could X-ray my heart and lung cavities. The hospital doctors had no idea what was causing these problems in such a young patient. Normally, people with these symptoms are elderly people with existing respiratory problems, not healthy 16-yearold girls. One in 1000 people are diagnosed with Exaggerated Sinus Arrhythmia. I am one of those patients. I was sent to a pediatric cardiologist, who had a small shack-like practice on a bad side of town. There were worn pictures of disfigured babies and young kids that had been stitched up right out of surgery all
Listen to your heart: signs of cardiac disease “During teenage years, new symptoms that might be thought of as seizures or transient loss of consciousness particularly during exercise or extreme stress are clearly ‘red flags’,” Cardiologist Dr. Robert Canby said. “Chest pain during exertion, although rare, may be a manifestation of underlying heart disease. Being unable to exercise at the same level as peers, or persistent shortness of breath with exertion or at rest can be meaningful as well. Some may have ‘panic attacks’ where they perceive their hearts racing away without any provocation and this can represent a heart rhythm abnormality.” “Sudden death in young athletes is fortunately very rare,” Dr. Canby said. “The relatively simple screening recommended by the AHA will catch many -- but certainly not all -- of the young people who are at risk. The American Heart Association recommends that all high school and college athletes have a screening medical history and physical examination. The medical history should specifically bring to light
over the rooms. The place was all-around creepy. The doctor came in, gave me another EKG and when it came out normal, he was perplexed. He decided to have me wear a heart monitor for the next day. The results came back strange, but not strange enough to raise suspicion. The doctor told me that there were two options here. One, my heart did not palpitate enough for the monitor to raise suspicion, but there was something wrong. Or two, I was “losing touch with reality.” Needless to say, my parents did not send me back to that doctor. They sent me to an adult doctor. He saw me many times and had me wear a monitor for a week. The results came back again, with too little to be dangerous, but too much to be safe. The worst episode I ever had was in Israel while on a youth group trip. My heart froze. My chest tightened into a knot and I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t get blood to my extremities and it took all my will to just stand. My voice was just above a whisper and I shook intensely. I was taken to a hospital where no one spoke English and was repeatedly asked where my inhaler was. They couldn’t understand that I wasn’t asthmatic, it was
any of the following symptoms: * chest pain or discomfort during exercise * loss of consciousness during exercise * shortness of breath during exercise * history of heart murmur or hypertension The athlete’s doctor should ask about family history with questions concentrating on premature (before age 50) death or disability from heart disease in close family members, and whether there is a family history of genetic-related heart problems such as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy [late Westlake student Ben Breedlove’s condition], long-QT syndrome, serious cardiac arrhythmias, or Marfan syndrome.” “Heart health is predicated on following the well prescribed axioms we are all familiar with: eat right -— a well balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, low in fats and refined sugars, exercise regularly, avoid non-prescription medications and stimulants, don’t smoke, get enough sleep and follow your doctor’s advice,” Dr. Canby said.
my heart. It took an entire day to reach someone who spoke English and get help. An entire day of laying on a bed in a foreign place fighting with my body. Fighting to keep breathing. At this point I was a second semester junior. APs, ACTs and SATs were looming. Meanwhile, I entertained half-days of school while visiting doctors, specialists and having tests run. Nothing was conclusive, no answers were given. I began to realize that I wasn’t going to be able to do the things that I had dreamed of. I had wanted to be in the Coast Guard as a kid; now I knew I was a liability and they wouldn’t touch me with a ten-foot pole. I knew I couldn’t succeed in athletics anymore — I was missing too many days and my heart wouldn’t let me keep up with the other girls. It became apparent that I would never be the same girl I was when I was homecoming princess. Everything changed for me. My heart kept me from doing all of the things that teens do. My heart kept me in limbo. Finally an answer showed itself. Hooked up to an IV in a machine that forced me to hold my breath until I was woozy, the doc-
tor officially told me that I had an irregular heartbeat. I also had Costochondritis. This basically causes a cycle of inflammation between the heart itself and the muscles that sit above the heart. The Arrhythmia and Costochondritis became a vicious circle of pain and palpitations. I would feel sharp, stabbing pain and then my heart would lag. It would stop as suddenly as it started. I was immediately stripped of my rights to caffeine, aspartame and any future plans I had with alcohol, all of which alter your heart rate. One downed can of Dr. Pepper landed me in the hospital for hours. My life would never be the same. Here should be the cliche part about how I’ve moved on, and how strong I am to have dealt with this. But that’s not how I feel about it. Everyone has a story that defines them. This just happens to be mine. I don’t feel cheated out of adolescence, I don’t feel hateful at the world for my problems. I don’t want pity, or condolences for my past life. This is just my story. My heart lags and races and feels like it stops. My heart is a constant worry in my life. My heart is just part of my story. My disease cannot define me.
LIVING WITH ALOPECIA
Two students confront stigma of genetic disease, share stories about hair loss
hey still haven’t gotten used to the stares. Ever since they were young, everywhere they go, people look at them. “Whenever I go to the mall they are always staring at me,” freshman Sophie Werkenthin said. “It doesn’t concern me that little kids stare, because they’re curious and they don’t know any better. But when adults stare at me, they will gawk, and it’s not like I’m in a zoo. The last time I remember, I was at a Target of all places, in the checkout line with my dad, and I heard this little kid behind us ask his dad, ‘Is that a boy or a girl?’ and his dad said ‘I don’t know.’ I didn’t care about the little kid, but when the dad said that, I thought, ‘Are you kidding me?’ I’m just a chick, without hair, it’s nothing to worry about.” Both Sophie and junior Ashley Wilson have a disease called alopecia areata or AA. “Thought to be hereditary, AA is a common autoimmune skin disease resulting in the loss of hair on the scalp and elsewhere on the body. It usually starts with one or more small, round, smooth patches on the scalp and can progress to total scalp hair loss (alopecia totalis) or complete body hair loss (alopecia universalis).” (National Alopecia Areata Foundation) “In the beginning years, I was embarrassed because nobody else had it, and nobody could understand what I was going through,” Ashley said. “In second grade, my mother discovered I had a small bald patch on my head. She didn’t know what it was, but the small spot eventually grew larger, and I had lost almost one-third of my hair, in different places. A good portion of it has grown back, but there are still places that haven’t had hair since the day I lost it.” According to NAAF.org, AA affects approximately 2 percent of the population overall, including more than 6.5 million people in the United States alone. This common skin disease is highly unpredictable and cyclical. Hair can grow back in or fall out again at any time, and the disease course is different for each person. Although a higher percentage of children are diagnosed with AA, adults may also show symptoms.
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Everyone finds out they have the disease a different way. Whether it be missing hair patches or something else, anyone with AA has to deal with misconceptions and strange reactions to their appearance. “Many people think I have cancer, and people at school ask me about it,” Sophie said. “I say, ‘If I had cancer, I probably wouldn’t be coming to school every day.’” Bullying, stares and negative comments are a few of the obstacles they have faced. Even Westlake students have been insensitive at times. Sophie recalls a specific incident this year when she was in the school restroom and overheard a few girls’ rude remarks. “When I heard the girls in the bathroom, I felt sad and angry, I didn’t want to say anything to cause drama, but I just really wanted to punch them,” Sophie said. “That was the first time I heard something rude in a while.” Like Sophie, who was diagnosed at age 2, Ashley has also experienced insensitivity. “When I was in seventh or eighth grade, I would be walking down the hall and minding my own business, and this kid I didn’t even know always said, ‘Hey, no eyebrow girl!,’” Ashley said. “When I had patches on the back of my head, I remember kids in fifth grade pointing it out and laughing at me.” Despite the challenges, the girls find ways to look at their disease in a positive light. “When I did swim team, I didn’t have to bother with putting on a swim cap,” Sophie said. “I went faster, because I wasn’t slowed down by my hair. Actually, Ashley was on my team. And in marching band, I don’t need to put my hair in the stupid bun.” Sophie and Ashley have often found ways to meet people who face similar challenges. There are support groups, summer camps and social media groups. Sophie goes to Camp Dermadillo, a five-day summer camp for kids with skin diseases in Burton, Texas. The camp accommodates kids with a specific sensitivity towards sun by offering many nighttime events along with traditional activities like horseback riding and zip lining.
PHYSICAL Junior Ashley Wilson was diagnosed with aopecia areata when she was in second grade, and freshman Sophie Werkenthin was diagnosed at age two.
10 to 50
of published studies showed that alopecia affected more than one relative.*
Alopecia areata affects approximately of the population.
2 percent That’s more than6.5 million people in the United States. In second grade, my mother discovered I had a small bald patch on my head. She didn’t know what it was, but the small spot eventually grew larger, and I had lost almost one-third of my hair, in different places. —junior Ashley Wilson
*From the North American Hair Research Society website
“Dermadillo is just like any other summer camp, except it’s for anyone with a skin disease,” Sophie said. “There are people who attend that can’t go out in the sun because their skin can’t handle UV rays. Most of their activities are inside, and when they’re outside, they have to wear big astronaut-looking suits.” While there is no cure for AA, there are medications, such as corticosteroids, which sometimes help with hair regrowth. These drugs can be taken three ways: shots, swallowed as a pill or rubbed on the skin as a cream or ointment. The girls have tried different ways to grow their hair back, most of which failed. However, Ashley did have success using simple aloe vera. “When I first got diagnosed the doctors gave me some topical cream,” Ashley said. “It didn’t work for me at all, though. I remember in fifth or sixth grade, I tried aloe vera. I put that on my head for about a year, and it grew some of my hair. That’s the only thing that worked.” Aloe vera did not work for Sophie. Neither have any of the other treatments she has tried. “The doctors gave me some Rogaine foam like what old men who are losing their hair use,” Sophie said. “Then they put me on a different medicine that gave my head a terrible rash. It sucked so much. I had to apply it weekly, and I woke up in the middle of the night in pain. My family had to drive me to Dallas every few years when I was younger for doctor appointments and all they gave me was more medications.” Since many people in the world suffer from AA, doctors are working on medical breakthroughs. Foundations like the NAAF hope to find a cure. “Now, I don’t let the disease control who I am,” Ashley said. “Yes, it is a part of me, but it doesn’t define me and it makes me feel even better when I find people who have the same disease as me, so we can talk about it. I know for a fact there isn’t a known cure yet, but I think that in the future there will be one. Considering the technology’s fast advancement, it never hurts to have hope.” —Cooper Kerbow and Sage Sutton
$ less than 10 $$ 10 to 15 $$$ 15 and up
rants + raves
Y U ARE WHAT Y U EAT
Healthy, tasty restaurants for finicky foodies Self-imposed diets can be painful, but not if youâ€™re doing it right. Luckily, Austin is home to ample eateries catering to each and every dietary need. Here are some of our favorite restaurants that accommodate special diets but donâ€™t sacrifice flavor. photos by Tim Whaling
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Casa de Luz V GF $$
1701 Toomey Road, Austin, TX 78704
As an avid consumer of processed snacks, an accomplished evader of small-talk and an infamously picky eater, I was more than a little reluctant to try Casa de Luz. Vegan food, community dining and no choice in what to have for the main course? Not really my cup of tea. But hey, there’s a first time for everything, right? Self-described as a “non-profit, experiential, educational community center,” Casa de Luz is not your typical dining experience. My father, brother and I approached the reception desk and ordered three meal cards and three desserts. Then we made our way to the counter, picked up cloth napkins and silverware and poured ourselves drinks from a selection of iced and hot teas. After setting these on one of the large communal tables, we headed back to the counter for curried vegetable soup and salad (garden greens with a dressing made of sunflower seeds, cucumbers and dill). A few minutes later, we were served the daily special main course: basmati rice with raisins, cinnamon and cardamom seed; green split peas; flatbread; steamed zucchini, beets, carrots and cauliflower with almond sauce; blanched greens with sesame ginger sauce; and pickled peaches. While the list seems long, each dish was served in small portions, making for a perfect meal size. After we had finished our surprisingly satisfying entree, we made our selections from several cold dessert options. With no idea what to expect, I took a bowl of vegan ginger-chai pseudo-jello, topped with coconut creme, and dug in. It was amazing. Light and sweet, with just a hint of spice, it was one of the tastiest dishes of the night. All in all, Casa de Luz exceeded my expectations by a long shot. The food was delicious and left me feeling full, but not heavy. My only complaint about the meal was that there was too much sesame ginger sauce on the blanched greens. If you’re looking for the traditional restaurant fare and routine, I wouldn’t recommend coming here. If you’ve got an open mind and a taste for adventure however, the Casa de Luz experience is a meal you don’t want to miss. —Georgina Kuhlmann
Bouldin Creek Café V GF $
1900 S 1st St., Austin, TX 78704
When a friend recommended the Bouldin Creek Café to me, I had never heard of the vegetarian eatery before. After visiting one weekend, though, I would recommend it to anyone. Located on First Street, it sits across the street from many small boutiques and vendors selling unique jewelry. The wait for a table was long because brunch had just ended when we arrived, but it wasn’t anything we couldn’t handle. The weather was gorgeous, so we asked to be seated outside. As soon as we were seated, everything began to move faster. The service at this restaurant was wonderful. Our waitress was great and happily answered all of my questions concerning the glutenfree menu, which was very accommodating and expansive. The menu at the Bouldin Creek Café is a fully vegetarian menu. They can make most of their sandwiches gluten-free, with the exception of the veggie royale. Breakfast is served all day, along with an array of tacos. I decided to order a grilled cheese sandwich on gluten-free bread. I had a choice of different toppings for the sandwich, including tomatoes, spinach and other vegetables, which only cost an extra 50 cents tacked onto the $5.75 spent on the sandwich itself. I chose spinach as my added veggie, along with a side of potato chips. By the time I finished eating, I felt extremely full. When ordering the grilled cheese sandwich, it might be worth splitting it with another person, because it is a large sandwich. For three people to eat, the cost was $29, including drinks. It was well worth it. The Bouldin Creek Café was a lovely, relaxing place to eat, the food was delicious and the menu was affordable and wide-ranging with options for all diets. —Nikki Lyssy
Sweet Ritual V GF $
4500 Duval St., Austin, TX 78751
If you’ve ever tried store-bought dairy-free ice cream, you’ll know most varieties only bring disappointment when compared to the real deal. However, local vegan ice cream shop Sweet Ritual has found a way to perfect the lactose-free treat into a product so convincing that you wouldn’t even know it was vegan until someone tells you. Located inside JuiceLand at Duval and 45th, Sweet Ritual offers innovative and fresh flavors each day, along with a few reliable staples. Made from soy and coconut milk, their ice cream collection ranges from simple vanilla and classic mint chocolate chip to more obscure tastes such as chocolate masala chai and strawberry jalapeño. For those with further dietary restrictions, some flavors and cones are even offered as not only vegan, but also soy- or gluten- free. At Sweet Ritual you get the feeling that everything from the ice cream to the decadent homemade sauces is made with care. Though more expensive than regular scoops, the price increase is worth it for the natural and savory tastes. So if you’re feeling up to trying a healthier yet still satisfying dessert, give this vegan ice cream a chance. —Rachel Cooper
Wildwood Bakehouse GF $$$ 3016 Guadalupe St. Suite 200, Austin, TX 78705 If you’re dining gluten-free, Wildwood Bakehouse has your back with entrees, desserts and pastries that may even fool your taste buds into thinking you’re eating food with real flour. It’s a 100 percent gluten-free bakery and full-service restaurant that occupies a quaint space on Guadalupe, adjacent to Wheatsville and near the intersection with West 31st Street. As you enter Wildwood, you’ll be immediately greeted by a display of fresh, soft and alluring pastries including tiramisu, pies, cakes, cupcakes and specialty items like “ding dongs.” In prior visits, I’ve had both the red velvet and the chocolate peanut butter cupcakes. While the red velvet cupcakes are a tad dry, the chocolate peanut butter variety is on another level. Rich peanut butter and chocolate ganache top fluffy, miniature cakes that will abduct you from this planet and deport you to a planet on which the fountains run brown with chocolate and Mr. Peanut is patting you on the back while serving it to you by the chalice. Shiny countertops, sharp geometric architecture, warm lighting, colorful paintings and a lone beige couch give Wildwood a modern yet inviting atmosphere. When I arrived on a Tuesday afternoon, my party was the only one there, and I was quickly seated by a friendly server before I began perusing my options. I ordered the chicken-fried steak and my brother ordered the fish tacos. My plate was comprised of one cut of steak bundled in a coat of crispy breading, topped with a thick white gravy and accompanied by green beans with bacon, garlic bread and a small baked potato. The fish tacos had a three-dimensional flavor by which every bite garnered a different taste. Out of the two plates, the fish tacos were certainly the best. The chicken-fried steak was delicious, and the gravy exceptional, but the crust was quite hard (possibly overcooked) and the garlic bread had an oddly sweet taste that didn’t pair very well with the other savory items on the plate. The fish tacos, on the other hand, were tangy, mildly spicy and pleasantly unpredictable from bite to bite. I’ve been very impressed with Wildwood Bakehouse in each of my visits and highly recommend it even to those who have no conflicts with gluten. Stop by for excellent food from a diverse menu that, by the way, does not contain wheat. —Jack Speer
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Beets Living Food Café R
V GF $$ 1611 W 5th St. Suite 165, Austin, TX 78703
Raw. Vegan. Fresh. Fly. Beets Living Food Café, on West Fifth Street, advertises itself as “a café as unique as Austin,” and it certainly makes good on that claim. The “living foods” mantra that the restaurant holds itself to is characterized by 100 percent vegan, 100 percent raw, 100 percent gluten- and dairy- free food. This may sound bland — no meat? no cooking? just carrots? — but the menu is gloriously diverse and flavorful. Appetizers alone would bring me back to Beets again and again. While the curried carrot soup often earns rave reviews, I was most impressed by the guacamole spinach dip, as well as the breathtaking zucchini hummus. For the main course, I ordered an E.L.T., which substitutes crispy eggplant in place of bacon, supplemented by avocado, sprouts and a raw cashew mayonnaise for added texture and flavor. My companions selected the raw reuben, which uses portabella mushrooms in place of meat, and the pizza rustica, a colorful plate bursting with flavor. Wherever one might expect to see a wheat-based carbohydrate, Beets replaces it with an almond-, sunflower-, or flax- based “flatbread.” This imaginative use of raw ingredients left all three of us feeling healthy and satisfied — if a bit overpowered by the strong Asian dressing which drenched our kale salad. The icing on the cake of this establishment, however, is their sumptuous desserts. I have never before experienced a joy so fresh and pure as biting into one of the raw cocoa brownies at Beets. Sprinkled with coconut, dense and rich, these brownies are not only delectable, but full of health benefits. As our waitress informed us, raw chocolate actually contains a slew of valuable antioxidants; it is only after being cooked and processed with way too many added sugars, flavors and preservatives that chocolate becomes the caloric indulgence we commonly know it as. The café is also well-known for its quality cheesecakes, exotic fruity cinnamon rolls and vegan ice cream — all raw. Granted, Beets isn’t for everyone. If you have a nut allergy, I would recommend staying away, as the best raw seasonings are often nutbased. What’s more, I understand that it is no small feat to give up meat, bread and dairy all in one dining experience. Nevertheless, if you find yourself up to the culinary challenge a raw meal provides, I guarantee that Beets Living Foods Café will knock your socks off. With original and inventive dishes in cuisines ranging from Asian to Mexican to down-home staples, no menu item I sampled could possibly be described as bland. The staff is friendly and knowledgeable about the food they serve and eager to discuss their dishes and dietary health. Try a lunch or an easy dinner at Beets Living Foods Café sometime — it will not disappoint. —Katelyn Connolly
Taverna GF $$$ 258 W. 2nd St., Austin, TX 78701 Taverna is an Italian restaurant located on Second Street which offers a diverse list of choices such as salad, seafood, pasta, pizza and risotto, priced reasonably for such mouthwatering meals. However, one of my favorite things about Taverna is their accommodating gluten-free menu. While it is slightly shorter than the regular menu, the same options are offered. For example, if I wanted to order a gluten-free pasta, the chef would substitute the regular noodles for a gluten-free spaghetti noodle. It used to be rare to find gluten-free options on an Italian restaurant’s menu, but Taverna’s are identical in taste and variety. It is a perfect choice for anyone who is a gluten-free eater and wants a wonderful Italian meal without inconvenience to their non-gluten-free companion. —Nikki Lyssy
Dietbusters The skinny on nutrition fads
claims to help you... lose weight feel energized get healthier skin and hair sleep better meet your nutritional requirements flush toxins from your system prevent cancer and other diseases relieve digestive stress boost your immune system
A juice cleanse is a liquid diet consisting of only fruit and vegetable juices.
is actually... dangerous unless supervised by a doctor and should not be done if you’re under 17 not healthier than eating whole produce. You actually lose certain nutrients and fiber in the juicing process deficient in protein and fat. Your body can’t repair muscle, your hair and skin will suffer, and you won’t absorb fat-soluble vitamins. There are also certain nutrients that you can’t get from juice alone liable to cause imbalances in blood sugar and electrolyte levels ineffective for long term weight loss. You lose water weight, but gain most of it back when you start eating normally again. Long cleanses can permanently lower your metabolism, making it harder to lose weight and easier to gain it in the future not guaranteed to make you eat less. Your body goes into a “feast or famine” mode, and once you get off the cleanse you are likely to binge liable to cause fatigue, nausea, dizziness, constipation and irritability unnecessary. Your body doesn’t need help to cleanse toxins. —Georgina Kuhlmann
The Paleo diet is based on the lifestyle of Paleolithic humans who ate wild animals and plants. The staples are free range meat, plants, and minimal grains and dairy.
claims that it... will make you live longer will help you lose weight without exercise is better than our usual diet because human bodies are not adjusted to cereals and other grains produced by modern agriculture. is the optimized diet for everyone because modern day humans are genetically the same as Paleolithic hunter-gatherers will relieve digestive stress will improve digestive and mental health will help with type 2 diabetes, autoimmune disorders, and various diseases
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is actually... no different than many other diets liable to cause deficiencies in certain vitamins that you get from grain and dairy expensive and complicated dangerous to start without consulting a doctor useful in improving digestive health only if there is an existing intolerance to the “cut-out food” based upon theory, not fact. No one really knows what the Paleolithic hunter-gatherers ate a diet that will only work to point of a person’s commitment. It’s not magic. a life-style change, not a short-term fix —David Tulkoff
Georgina K uhlmann
Going against the grain Ambiguous allergies plague confused student
For the past year I’ve been eating sans gluten, and for the past month I’ve been consuming far less corn and dairy products. For some this may seem frightening, and possibly even unmanageable, but for me it has become a rudimentary piece of everyday life. I can’t really say when it started. I’d been eating bread all my life. I assumed the sharp pains I received in my lower right abdomen were typical side effects of consuming grease-lathered cafeteria pizza. I didn’t think it was a real issue, and certainly not worthy of a dietary reevaluation in eighth grade, but by late ninth grade my mom had tried numerous weight-loss diets and had then started eating gluten-free. She continually remarked at its seemingly implausible wonders and eventually suggested that my brother and I conform to the diet as well. The majority of my pains were quickly eradicated — but only temporarily. Within a month or two they returned, and there never seemed to be an explanation for them. I had already assumed that my diet was to blame, but I wasn’t sure what in my diet it could be. After multiple visits to my doctor’s office, I had received no conclusive data. Hoping for better results, I recently visited a gastroenterologist. The following is a representative yet mildly paraphrased excerpt of our exchange: “What causes gas?” he asked. “Indigestible fiber in…” “Ah-ah-ah. That too, but a simpler cause,” he interrupted. “. . .” “Swallowing air,” he said matter-of-factly. “What might cause one to swallow more air?” he questioned rhetorically. “. . .” His response: “Anxiety.” No, doc, it’s not anxiety. Move on to the next suggestion. “Those with anxiety swallow more air, as their hearts beat faster and their lungs must catch up.” Inhale. Exhale. Anxiety. Sure. If my anxiety stems purely from my diet. Absolute medical bullocks. Since then, two blood tests and a breath test for bacterial overflow have come back negative, and being ambiguously gluten-intolerant has made me reassess many aspects of my daily life. It’s hard to justify forcing others to dine at a gluten-free restaurant when you can’t give them conclusive evidence. The fact that my social exclusivity does not extend to having a homogeneously gluten-free friend group makes it hard to abstain from the caustic grain that is wheat. Even the word sends shivers down my spine. My mortal nemesis. Anxiety indeed, gastroenterological palm reader. Anxiety indeed. On one occasion, my school cafeteria balance was approaching zero and the lunch lady kindly informed me that I could not buy a baked potato, like the ones I’d eaten every day prior. I inquired about what I might purchase in lieu of a baked potato. She told me I could have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or a meat and lettuce sandwich. I explained my predicament — I could not eat gluten. She shrugged her shoulders and gave me an expression that said something along the lines of “too bad.” Luckily, the lunch lady to the right of this one, with some negotiation, allowed me to have my baked potato. There might have been a suggestion for salad in that discussion as well, but c’mon, green vegetables are gross. If I had paperwork confirming the presence of an intolerance or disorder plaguing my digestive system, perhaps my complaints would seem better justified. Without such paperwork, I can’t help feeling a little guilty about spending more money I don’t have on food I know I can eat, when I could spend less money I don’t have on food I might still be able to eat.
Not long after making the decision to stop eating gluten, I went to the mall. This is not an activity I take part in often, but nonetheless I’d been there for some reason or another. While wandering near the pretzel shop, an employee offered me a pretzel sample. As I’ve never been one to refuse a free sample, I gladly accepted the offering. It took me a second to digest that I just ate bread, and willingly. I was actually somewhat impressed with my own idiocy in that moment. I really ought to just wear a large cardboard sign that says, “Do not serve this person wheat or any of its various products, even if voluntarily accepted, unless your life is being threatened and the only means by which you may survive are serving said person gluten.” After quitting gluten, I received stomach pains similar to the ones I associated with gluten after eating processed gluten-free foods and — quite often — dairy. And yet, even when I eat none of these things, I may occasionally experience the same symptoms. My doctor has suggested an endoscopy. I just hope it doesn’t find a digestive obstruction of anxiety. Gluten-free dieting is becoming increasingly prevalent, both through a gradual increase in the number of people diagnosed with Celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder of the small intestine triggered by exposure to gluten, and as a commonly self-imposed diet. [Fun fact: an estimated 83 percent of the American population is undiagnosed or has been misdiagnosed for Celiac.] Even Miley Cyrus is currently touting the gluten-free lifestyle, but it’s not for everybody. Those with Celiac should avoid eating wheat products at all costs, but those with simpler gluten intolerance or who already exhibit no physiological detriment from consuming gluten can afford to be more lenient. In fact, a diet without gluten is often bereft of many essential nutrients if not properly maintained. If you decide to stop eating gluten, weigh your options and make sure you’ve found an efficient substitute in your diet. Personally, my diet likely isn’t as balanced as I’d like it to be, but given prior frustration with gluten, I don’t think I’ll be going back anytime soon. That being said, coconut milk and millet bread are way better than they say, bro. Don’t knock it ‘til you try it. —Jack Speer
Monkey business Ishmael captivates reader, examines cultural myths
Mi ss Mo
The greatest praise a reader can give to a novel is to destroy it. No, not with flames or the belligerent ripping of pages, but with pencil. Sentences marked in highlighter, notes scrawled in the margins and endless dog-eared pages; these are all signs of a well-loved book. The next best way to compliment a novel is to simply go out and buy a copy to read and reread and re-reread. The fact that my personal copy of Daniel Quinn’s Ishmael looks like it barely survived a train wreck is a perfect example of the age old saying “actions speak louder than words,” and Ishmael certainly spoke volumes. Ishmael is told in the style of Socratic dialogue between the two main, and practically only, characters in the story: an inquisitive, unnamed protagonist and his introspective teacher, a telepathic gorilla named Ishmael. Not much is said about our nameless hero, besides the fact that he is a middle-aged, American man who harbored anti-establishment sentiments in his youth, during the counterculture movement of the ‘60s. Ishmael, on the other hand, is absolutely witty and profound — if a bit narcissistic — often teasing and provoking his naive pupil. The banter between the two characters is classic, and their dynamic feels very unique and real, one of the many endearing aspects of Quinn’s book that struck a chord with me. Our story is set into motion by an ad in the paper that says, “Teacher seeks pupil. Must have an earnest desire to save the world. Please apply in person.” Our nameless hero decides to meet Ishmael, and the story plunges into the deep end through the characters’ exchange, immediately challenging preconceived notions and forcing the reader to contemplate profound concepts with a fresh perspective. Quinn doesn’t sugar coat anything; he is blunt and convincing in his argument. It never feels as though he is trying to force his ideas on you, but by the end, he’ll have won you over anyway. One of the most moving aspects of the story is the melancholy but hopeful note it finishes on. There is a lot left unsaid
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by the end of the book. The concept in the story builds on itself, and there is a beauty in the way everything unfolds. Though the novel is completely devoid of plot, Quinn’s intriguing voice and characterization pulls the reader in and refuses to let go, and you will find yourself falling into his distinct writing style with tremendous ease. As ‘no name’ begins to slowly piece together the puzzle with the help of his persistent teacher, he starts to understand the illusion of cultural mythology and just how deeply that illusion runs, and everything ties together for the reader along with him. Ishmael is solely based upon an idea; an ingenious, radical idea about how people should live, and it isn’t completely revealed until the book’s end, which is stunning and will leave even the most eloquent at a loss for words. Ishmael makes me want to change things. It’s brilliant and clever without ever trying to be; it hooks you in and adamantly demands you remember it. —Michelle Fairorth
Supporting families and their health care needs since 2004 www.CentralHealth.net
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Congratulations Westlake Swim Team on their impressive season!
Richard Jones, DDS
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Your next flicks Think of all the cliché moments in the world and squash them together. Throw in some heartbreak, tears and immature, impulsive decisions and you’ve pretty much summed up all six seasons of Dawson’s Creek (19982003). The show follows the journeys of four teens throughout their high school years. There’s Dawson Leery (James Van Der Beek) who’s the quirky, cute boy-next-door with an almost neurotic passion for creating conflict in his life. Joey Potter (Katie Holmes) is the tomboy who just so happens to be Dawson’s best friend since childhood (hint hint, we all know where this is going to end). Pacey Witter (Joshua Jackson), who’s not the sharpest knife in the drawer, always makes trouble and gets himself into sticky situations. And then there’s Jen Lindley (Michelle Williams), the new girl with a very troubled past and lots of secrets in her curly, overdone hair. Unfortunately, like all other TV dramas, it is painfully predictable. And we still can’t quite get over James Van Der Beek’s hair-do. However, if you ever find yourself feeling a little romantic or in the mood to watch a bunch of frustrating teens date each other’s exes, we suggest you scroll down to that “TV show dramas” tab on Netflix and give Dawson’s Creek a try. —Alexis Huynh and ZZ Lundburg
IF YOU LIKE One Tree Hill, 90210, The O.C., Gossip Girl
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The premature cancellation of Joss Whedon’s sci-fi western Firefly is one of the greatest tragedies in human history. Set in the year 2517, after the human race terraformed a new galaxy of planets to replace the overpopulated, resource-depleted Earth, it follows the adventures of Captain Malcolm “Mal” Reynolds (Nathan Fillion) and the ragtag crew of the spaceship Serenity as they eke out a living by carrying passengers and contraband under the nose of the oppressive Alliance government. After Mal takes on a fugitive (Sean Maher) and his troubled sister (Summer Glau), the lives of Serenity’s crew get considerably more complicated as they become increasingly aware of the insidious nature of the organization that controls the galaxy. With an idiosyncratic cast of characters, excellent writing, snappy one-liners and plenty of action, Firefly is a must-see. The show was canceled after only one season, leaving a lot of loose ends, but fans and creators of the show worked together to release a full-length film, Serenity, which provided the grieving audience with some closure and, in typical Whedon style, floods of tears. —Georgina Kuhlmann
IF YOU LIKE Battlestar Galactica, Doctor Who, Farscape, Stargate
Charles Bartowski (Zachary Levi) was a computer genius stuck in a deadend job until he received an encrypted email from his old college roommate. Inadvertently downloading government secrets into his brain, Chuck “flashes” on information from the CIA database whenever he sees a trigger and quickly finds that his whole life has been turned upside-down. Now, with help from his partners Sarah Walker (Yvonne Strahovski) and John Casey (Adam Baldwin), Chuck becomes an asset and spy-in-training for the U.S. government. Forced to separate his spy life from his relationships with his sister and friends at the electronics store where he works, Chuck struggles with his newfound responsibilities. In between computer installs, he helps take down assassins, terrorists and arms dealers. Over the course of five seasons, we follow Chuck’s evolution from inept and gangly “nerdherder” to trained CIA agent and see the progression of his relationship with Sarah. Chuck is the perfect balance of action, humor and plot twists, tied together. It might take a little bit of suspension of disbelief to get into the show, but once you do, it is well worth it. —Peyton Richardson
IF YOU LIKE Pscyh, Parks and Recreation, Castle, Intelligence
Having marathon withdrawal after 26 straight hours of House of Cards? Check out these equally addictive TV shows on Netflix that we guarantee will blow your mind.
Freaks and Geeks is arguably the most accurate depiction of high school life that exists on film. The short-lived series consists of just one 18-episode season that never reached its peak due to shockingly low ratings. Made in 1999 but set in 1980, the show revolves around a cast of well-written and diverse characters as they face the challenges of high school, from cheating and fake IDs to puberty and talking to girls. The series features one-time mathlete Lindsay Weir, who seeks acceptance from a group of burn-outs known as “freaks” made up of future stars James Franco, Jason Segel and Seth Rogen. Most of the show’s comedy is brought by the “geeks,” consisting of Lindsay’s younger brother Sam Weir and his nerdy friends Bill and Neal, who liven up the show with facetious one-liners. The series is highlighted by its stellar and timely soundtrack, which features Led Zeppelin, Rush and Styx. Freaks and Geeks will have you totally invested in the characters’ lives and make you realize that despite the new technology and better hair, high school hasn’t really changed since the ‘80s. —Rachel Cooper
IF YOU LIKE Undeclared, The Wonder Years, Friday Night Lights
When the body of homecoming queen Laura Palmer is found dead by the river in the first few minutes of ‘90s television gem Twin Peaks, the scene is set for just another average crime drama — that is, until the eccentric yet dashing Special Agent Dale Cooper, played by Kyle MacLachlan, arrives to investigate, and things take a turn for the truly weird. Director David Lynch works his magic on the deceptively tranquil community of Twin Peaks, Washington, creating something of an alternate universe in which nothing is too far-out. Bizarre humor and never-ending layers of oddity in each character serve to elevate the horror elements of the series past cheesy, and into the realm of cult classic. The gloomy isolation of the forest setting, the haunting poignancy of the opening credits, the downright surrealism of Agent Cooper’s creepy dreams — all this ensures that viewers never forget the crazy serial killer we’re all supposed to be on the look-out for. Twin Peaks won’t fail to suck you into its abstract web of mystery and suspense, and you’ll quickly discover that there’s not one drop of innocence this side of the Canadian border. —Katelyn Connolly
IF YOU LIKE Lost, The X-Files, The Following
Released in 2009 as a manga (Japanese comic book), Attack on Titan was adapted into an anime series in late 2013. The story is set in a world where the last of humanity lives in cities surrounded by three large rings of walls. This security is necessary due to giant humanoid creatures called Titans which eat people for, as far as the humans are aware, no reason. In the first episode, the outermost wall is breached by a mysterious 60-meter tall Titan, allowing smaller Titans to attack the city. The survivors of the attack flee to the inner cities, causing famine and turmoil to spread uncontrollably. Attack on Titan can appeal to a wide audience, even those who don’t like anime. The series has an extremely engaging story, the animation quality is well above average and the music is top-notch. The show starts off slowly for some, and I wasn’t entirely hooked until a few episodes in, but I was then compelled to finish all 25 episodes in two days. Only one season has been created with the original Japanese voice acting, now subtitled in English. Currently, there is no word on a second season, but considering its success so far, there would be no reason to end the series now. —Alex Charnes
IF YOU LIKE Full Metal Alchemist, Cowboy Bebop, Claymore
Angry consumer wages war against oppressive popcorn
It’s not poppin’
rants + raves westlakefeatherduster.com
Because here’s the thing about Popcornopolis: they don’t thrive on a business model of loyal customers. They’re essentially one of those crappy hot dog-churro hybrid stands at Disney World that you throw your money at then go, “Eh, I guess it wasn’t terrible.” They aren’t expecting full-grown adults to stop by for zebra-colored popcorn all day, they’re expecting that when those full-grown adults have to bring their kids along to the mall with them to buy a laptop cover or a pair of slimfit jeans, their kids will want stuff, too. And they’re right, because according to Newton’s Sixth Law, kids always want stuff no matter what. So where do you go from there? That’s right, you put a giant golden sign above the door, make your place look like a carnival that couldn’t cut it on the road and got stuck in a mall, and call it Popcornopolis. As everyone in middle school knows, if you act obnoxious enough, someone will give you attention, so Popcornopolis manages to survive on this model, luring our poor nation’s children in like a buttery, overpriced Pied Piper. How long will we let this go on? Will we allow this tyranny to reign over our malls? What about Great American Cookie and that one smoothie place that everyone knows but no one goes to because hey, I’ll go next time, but you never actually do? What about them? This plague upon our mall must be eradicated with the utmost efficiency so that we may buy our useless consumer items in peace! I am an American, and I will not be harassed by this popping demon on my way to take funny pictures with the iPads in the Apple store! I will not be harassed by these marked-up bags of evil on my way to find a last-minute gift for my cousin whose-name-I-don’tremember-but-who-I’m-obligatedas-family-to-buy-stuff-for’s birthday! I will go down every avenue I need to go down until Popcornopolis is wiped from the maps of our malls. I will destroy the steps that have been taken to arrange its survival and replace them with my revenge. I will be hateful, I will be exact and I will never, ever pay $7.95 for a bag of popcorn, damnit. —Brian Wieckowski Alex Charnes
Do you like fast, fresh popcorn to snack on at the mall? What about workers who greet you with a happy smile and offer their opinion on their favorite flavor? Do you love an affordable snack to take on the go? Well then you can shove it, because Popcornopolis doesn’t care what you love. Popcornopolis hates you, it hates the things you want and it wants the world to die. Is that a little dramatic? No. Maybe. OK, it is. But honestly, how are they justifying $7 for a tiny, cheap, plastic cone of popcorn that we both know was way past “fresh” last Tuesday? On that note, someone needs to let these guys know that you can’t just drown the popcorn in chocolate sauce and tell us that it’s gourmet. Oh, but it’s not about the product, it’s about the customer service! Oh-ho-ho, don’t even get me started. On my last visit to this wretched palace of poppable treachery, I was not greeted with, “How are you doing today?” or “Welcome, what can we do for you?” No, instead I waited for five minutes at the counter with my little sister, who whined the entire time about how hungry she was and how I needed to make the employees work faster (this isn’t even Popcornopolis’ fault, but I’m mad, so I’m gonna say it is). Meanwhile, I was trying to figure out a way to avoid spending more on caramel popcorn from hell than I did on lunch. When a worker finally did appear, he looked at me in surprise and promptly barked, “CRACKA’ WHAT YOU WANT?” I don’t know if you’ve ever had that bellowed at you by a worker in a retail establishment, but there’s no suitable comeback, I can assure you. What was I supposed to do, inform him that I wasn’t a “cracka”? Tell him that I don’t appreciate such a rude question? No, I stood there like an idiot, realized the only way out of this mistake in capitalism of a store was to hand over my money and acted surprised when he only filled the freaking bag halfway with popcorn. Then I mumbled a “thank you” because it’s a reflex, made sure my little sister was happy with her plastic bag of rip-off and I walked out of there and never looked back.
Stuff We Like
“I can’t do this anymore,” tweeted the creator of flappy bird, right before he yanked his famous bird from the App Store, perhaps forever. As it turns out, we can’t do it anymore either. This devil of a man created a game that has taken over our phones, fingers, but most importantly, our souls. His deceptively simple game has forced us to try again and again to flap a bird with a heart of darkness through green pipes. Look at your life, look at your choices. Every time you flap that little bird, you flap your way into the pits of hell. Is that really what you want to be known for, a high score of 100 on a game that has become the app version of the McRib? Wait, what’s that? Your high score really is 100? Hang on, I’ve got to go beat that. Oh wait, I didn’t download the app in time. Let me go write a $10,000 check so I can buy an iPhone on eBay that has already had it installed. I MUST WIN.
“Floss seven times a week, 365 days a year.” Yeah, right. Most likely your dentist has said this to you as he stabs your mouth over and over in a process called “cleaning,” followed up by brushing your teeth with the “toothbrush” from hell that sounds like a freaking cat being disemboweled. Not to mention the toothpaste tastes like grit. And there is no good-tasting grit. After he’s left your mouth mutilated and bleeding, he simply says the “solution” is to floss more. Because a thin, razor sharp piece of string is supposed to help your gums. So you go home after that catastrophe of an appointment and vow to floss every day of your life so your teeth don’t look like candy corn. You’re a week into your promise, vigorously flossing like there’s no tomorrow. Flossing takes time, however, and you don’t have very much of it. A few days later you convince yourself that you’re fine and that your teeth will stay pearly white and shiny like a baby’s bottom. Then, six months later, after absolutely zero flossing, you return to the hellish place known as the dentist’s office and the agonizing cycle repeats.
Ariana Gomez Reyes
Going Commando Underwear ... Who needs it, right? What’s the point of a small item of fabric that does the exact same thing that your clothing does? We are here to tell you it’s time to ditch the granny panties, boxers, briefs, thongs and boy shorts. Nothing is better than feeling easy, breezy and beautiful down there. Stop thinking of underwear as a essential part of your wardrobe. Because is that extra piece of protection really necessary? NO. We are strong, we are independent and we don’t need Hanes, Fruit of the Loom or Victoria’s Secret to hold us back.
Fabio What do I Can’t Believe it’s Not Butter ™ and Old Spice men’s deodorant have in common? FABIO LANZONI — actor, model, spokesperson extraordinaire, Mr. Europe — that’s who! He’s the Italian heartthrob with luscious locks who appeared on monthly calendars in the ‘90s and every young adult romance novel cover ever. He’s carved a niche for himself in the world of Hollywood, playing the ambitious role of “himself” in countless movies and television shows such as The Simpsons, Cupcake Wars, Big Time Rush, Mr. Romance, Hollywood Sex Wars, Zoolander, Dude, Where’s My Car? and many more. Thanks to his impressive smolder and rippling pectorals, the name Fabio has become synonymous with the expression “hot european dream guy” and it’s no wonder why: He’s probably the greatest/most talented person ever.
Plenty of FREE PARKING!
512-‐443-‐3911 3005 South Lamar #110-‐A • 512-‐462-‐4646
Now OPEN TO BUY at 3005 So. Lamar between Torchy’s & Kerbey Lane! Bring in your gently worn designer & trendy clothing for guys & girls before our Grand Opening in March and get FIRST SHOT with a VIP ticket to our Pre-‐G.O. Event!