Page 1

Fe a t h e rd u s te r the

Westlake High School

Bridging the gap Volume 42

Issue 1

October 21, 2010 4100 Westbank Drive Austin, Texas 78746



Brains + Brawn Bridging the gap


Last April, the Pipkin family began a yearlong project to build a high school in the rural Kenyan community of Mahiga. The school finally opened Oct. 1, effectively sealing a partnership between their school and ours. This is the story of a family, a community and the gift of education.

People + Places Key player

Courtesy photo

People + Places

32 Trends + Trads If it doesn’t kill you 49 Rants + Raves A wave of emotion 64

Senior creates award-winning ensemble

Sports fan stresses during football season

Rants + Raves

Survivor recalls Katrina’s destruction

Courtesy photo

Editors-in-Chief Lauren Nelson Zach Wasfi

Managing Editor Anisha Ganguly

Copy Editors

Shea Wendlandt

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

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

Pictured on cover: Mahiga Hope sophomore Agnes Wambui and Westlake sophomore Lily Pipkin Cover photos courtesy of the Pipkins and The Featherduster archives Cover design by Nathan Kallison

Barrett Wilson Nathan Kallison

Business Manager

Danielle Brown

Julie Dorland Jenny Messer Asst. Hailey Cunningham Hillary Hurst Cody Crutchfield Asst. Hirrah Barlas

Allie Carlisle Austin Hix Elisa Chen Emily Cohen Izzy de la Luz Mackenzie Franklin Mariah Stevens-Ross Shea Wendlandt Sidney Hollingsworth Tanner Thompson Taylor Cloyd Theo Doucet

People + Places Barrett Wilson

Photo Editors

Danielle Brown Zelda Mayer Christina Shin

Brains + Brawn

Trends + Trads

Daisy Burgess Stephen Squires

Hannah Kunz Caroline Hunt Asst. Jono Krawczyk

Trends + Trads Sofie Seiden Lizzie Friedman Asst. Sofia Mitre

Rants + Raves Matt Frank Jake Bitting Asst. Becca Burt

Art Director

Michelle Ling Asst. Emily Mitchell

Web Master Matthew Chang

Web Team Mekala Keshu

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Social Coordinator Keren Rempe



Abby Bost Abby Mosing Alex Gieb Alli Anderson Allie Carlson Anika Hattangadi Anna Vaught Annie Valliant Austin Callegari Ben Wallace Benton Reed Blair Watson Blake Bond

Breck Spencer Camilla Childers Camille Lewis Catherine Mear Chandler McCollough Elizabeth Emery Elizabeth Petersen Enrique Gomez-Leos Erin Armstrong Haley Green Hetty Borinstein Jaimie Pitts Jared Schroeder Jesse Denier Jessee Haney Jessica Stenglein Josh Willis Laura Brewster Laura Doolittle Laura Hatcher Luci Ortiz Maddy Scott Madeline Nick Madison Goll Marco Scarasso Mia Cavazos McKenna Wilbur Monica Tan Nikki Roop Olivia Lee Rubie Hays Selah Maya Zighelboim Steven Campbell Taylor Kidd Taylor Ross


Deanne Brown

brains + brawn


Homecoming week Monday, October 25

Disney dress up day

Tuesday, October 26

Caddyshack dress up day

Wednesday, October 27

Thursday, October 28

Wear red, white and blue

Famous pairs dress up day

Holiday dress up day


Friday, October 29

Cookout during both lunches

+ jam

Homecoming game at 7:30 p.m.

Saturday, October 30

Enchanted evening

Homecoming dance from 9 -12 in the Chap Court

Homecoming dance wristbands are $15 and will be sold during lunches throughout Homecoming week and at the door.

Acting up

Drama, TEC prepare for upcoming play

Nathan Kallison

Nathan Kallison

During rehearsal for The Government Inspector, senior Warner Eidman and sophomore John Austin practice in the Black Box Theater. Having already finished blocking the play, drama students perfect scenes to prepare for opening night.

TEC member sophomore Sam Copa helps measure and drill a part of the set. Sam and the rest of TEC are building the set as well as doing the lighting for the show, The Government Inspector, playing Oct. 21-23 in the Black Box Theater.

The Government Inspector

Oct. 21-23 at 7:30 p.m. in the Black Box Theater General admission tickets on sale for $8 at the door

“It’s a humorous play that takes place in a small, rural Russian town,” senior Ben Weiner said. “The premise is that an inspector from the Czar is coming to a town, and he is incognito. The townsfolk mistake a lowlife traveler as the inspector and shower him with gifts. It’s really funny.”

Nathan Kallison

Senior Ben Weiner rehearses his lines while practicing for The Government Inspector.




Eanes family of filmmakers inaugurates high school in rural Kenya, cements relationship with Westlake urk and Christy Pipkin, the producers of Nobelity and One Peace at a Time, parents of sophomore Lily and current UT student Katie Pipkin and the founders of the Nobelity Project, have dedicated their lives to telling the stories of people all over the world and the global issues they face. However, since April 11, 2009, the Pipkins have stepped out from behind the video camera to take action in Mahiga,

Lily Pipkin

sets goals A field of dreams Coach for soccer contribution When varsity soccer coach John Campbell heard from the Pipkin family that his team could help kids across the world play soccer, he couldn’t wait to get started. While other organizations at Westlake are partnering to build a solar prototype and library, the soccer team decided to raise money to build a soccer field for Mahiga Hope High School. “I’ve wanted to get the soccer team involved with raising money for more than just Westlake,” Campbell said. Campbell learned about the lifestyle of the students in Kenya and that they have no activities outside of the classroom for recreation. As a soccer coach, he saw how he could help. “Soccer is the world’s sport,” Campbell said. “People play it everywhere.” Campbell said that the Westlake

Charitable tradition Sophomore turns coming-of-age custom into service opportunity

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Walking three miles to a stream, the children of the Mahiga community start their day. The stream provides their school with water; however, livestock also uses the same source of water. The children inevitably become ill from the very substance they need to live. Sophomore Julian Kunik’s eyes opened after seeing pictures of the village near Nyeri, Kenya, shown to him by family friend Turk Pipkin. From there, Julian took the initiative to bring about change, though a gentle nudge from a Jewish custom prodded him. According to Jewish tradition, when one has a bar mitzvah, he is expected to do a good deed. Julian took the opportunity to fulfill this rite of passage and help the community of Mahiga. “I knew that whatever I were to donate would go directly to those in need,” Julian said. “If I had to choose a cause, then I had to do what I felt was right.” Soon, little white envelopes began appearing in people’s mailboxes. The letters, sent to friends and family of the Kuniks, requested that people donate whatever they could in order to help out the less fortunate. Julian also began asking for donations at his father’s orthodontic office. But Julian felt that he couldn’t ask so much of others and not contribute himself. He added 18 percent of his bar mitzvah money to the collection, as is customary. Eventually, the money added up to an estimated $5,000, enough to make a well and provide clean drinking water for the village. As much as financially aiding the Mahiga community was beneficial, Julian also used the occasion to gain perspective. “The entire experience has widened my outlook on the world, seeing that we all share a common thread through humanity,” Julian said. “When you see the photos, you see how grateful they really are. It makes me happy to see them happy.” —Jessee Haney Julian Kunik n sti Au

soccer team will have multiple fundraisers, such as throwing a barbeque, selling t-shirts and sponsoring a 24-hour soccer tournament. “[For the tournament] we are thinking that our team will do a sponsorship this year, giving a set number of dollars per goal,” Campbell said. The team plans to get its earnings from friends and family who have always supported them in their games and expect that this journey will be no exception. “We have 70 kids, which means about 200 family members and friends attending our games,” Campbell said. Aside from raising money to build the field, the players have also shown an interest in communicating with Kenyan students. “We plan to make videos back and forth,” Campbell said. “The Pipkins are

is in 10th grade at Westlake,” Christy said. “A portion of his bar mitzvah project was dedicated to Mahiga’s rainwater collection system, UV purification, power run to the school and the computer lab, all in the same donation. We really felt that this area was ready to make the best use of the money and reinvest in their community.” Planning the construction of a building of this magnitude required a lot of collaboration between the Pipkins in Austin and the architects in Africa. “One of the things we had to do early on was find an architecture partner in Africa and in the area, because it’s one thing to have an idea what a community needs, but really it has to be developed by the community,” Christy said. “One of the things we feel strongly about is instead of saying, ‘Hey, you need this,’ saying, ‘What do you need, and how can we help supply what you need?’” The first construction project, designed by Architecture for Humanity, was a dual-use sports facility, called a rainwater court, which would serve as a basketball court and communal area while also collecting rainwater to be kept for later use. The rainwater court was a contestant for the Game Changers Award, a competition

Barrett Wil so n

a rural community in Kenya, where they have committed to open a high school for local children, which has formed a sister-school partnership with Westlake. “It really happened the first time I visited Kenya,” Turk said. “I was planting trees there with the Greenbelt Movement, [founded by Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai], and they told me how hard they were working, unsuccessfully, to come up with the money to build a water system. That right there was really the seed that started it. I said that we’d find the money to fund it.” What first began as a project to create a water collection system quickly evolved into a greater initiative to help multiple aspects of the community. “Our first influx [of money] came from Julian Kunik, who

taking videos of us to them, and then back from Kenya to us.” John Campbell The soccer team members can’t wait to get the chance to talk with the students in Africa. “I’m really excited to communicate with the Kenyans,” right midfielder junior Ryder McGough said. “I haven’t had much contact with foreigners my age, especially not in Africa, and not with soccer players my age.” The teammates have lots of inspiring thoughts of how this experience can be beneficial to both schools. “It feels really good to help out the Kenyans, because I take all facilities for granted, and I would like to see how they feel about their new facility,” Ryder said. “Maybe I will appreciate the ones I use more, too.” —Alli Anderson and Haley Green

sponsored by Nike that promotes multi-faceted sports facilities in developing countries. “The first award [in the contest went] to a skateboard park in Afghanistan, because the streets are too dangerous for kids to play outside,” Christy said. “We were the second award winner for this Nike grant, because [the design] was a sports facility, but also a rainwater collection system, community meeting space and stage.” After creating the rainwater court, the Pipkins continued to work with Architecture for Humanity to build the rest of the school. “We had the good fortune of having [architect] Greg Elsner, who was assigned to the rainwater court by Architecture for Humanity,” Christy said. “Once he was there, he became our liaison with the other architects and construction workers. You have to have the key players, which can be hard when you’re working at a distance.” To promote sustainable development in the school’s construction, the architects needed to consider the environment and climate

George Abrahams Ochieng Oriwa

Turk Pipkin

of the area along with the resources and technologies available. “There’s no groundwater, and the rain is seasonal,” Christy said. “Luckily, there’s heavy dew that can put water in the tanks. We’re looking into the possibility of solar power for a few of the functions of the buildings. Even though it’s high up in the mountains and often cloudy, [the area] is equatorial, so the arc of the sun doesn’t change much during the year, so it’s good for solar collection. But it’s expensive technology, and we’re in that situation where up-front investment is sometimes too much

physical building, the Pipkins aim for the school to grow some of its own food for the students’ lunch program. “Right now their one meal at lunch is called githeri, which is made of maize and beans, so it’s a protein meal,” Christy said. “But that’s it. Every day. We’re hoping to have the cooks expand into more vegetables.” Many children face health issues,

“One of the things I’ve realized is that [Mahiga] used to be an area where families wanted to get their kids out and send them away for better opportunities. With the new school, it’s really turned the tide to where families and other people who live here are coming to Mahiga. It’s really revitalizing the community from the ground up.” —Nobelity Project director Christy Pipkin for the gain since we now have power run to the school. Now we’re looking into the pre-school running on solar power. We built [the school] out of local materials, and all the cement was mixed on site. Their own building practices are fairly green and sustainable, because they have to use what’s directly available to them. We are building a garden that will be watered by the shed roof of one of the classrooms and that will be connected to the science building and a part of the biology classes.” Along with the environmental elements incorporated in the plans for the

such as vision and bone growth problems, from vitamin deficiencies due to lack of essential dietary components. “Some of the children are very small for their age, and you can see the impact of poverty,” Christy said. “This generation coming up is the first one that’s smaller than their parents. Generally humans evolve to be taller than their parents if they grow in a healthy environment, but the poverty is shown [in the size of these children].” Though the architects of the project mostly honored the traditional building practices of the area, the limited land

Kenyan students, dressed in the green Mahiga Hope uniforms, load chairs to take to the school.

Lily Pipkin

art by Michelle Ling

They’ve got the power WHS robotics to teach Kenyan students to utilize solar energy in high school, within community As the little girl opens her eyes to the sunlight of a new day, she doesn’t extend her hand to silence the beeping alarm, and she doesn’t smell the coffee brewing. She doesn’t fall out of bed, wrapped in a warm blanket to ward off the chill from the AC, and she doesn’t lazily flip on lights on the way to the bathroom. She doesn’t do any of these things because she doesn’t have electricity. She lives in a place where what is taken for granted in the U.S. is considered a luxury. Robotics teacher Norman Morgan asked himself how he could help after attending teacher convocation, where Turk Pipkin spoke about the necessities humans were entitled to and the people in Norman Morgan Mahiga who weren’t getting them. Following the internal reflection that all inspirational speeches leave, Morgan spoke with the Pipkins about what the Robotics team could do to make a difference. The resulting conversation led to the idea of solar electrification, usson Barrett Wil ing solar panels to create a renewable source of electricity. In theory, the Robotics team could simply make the solar panels and ship them to the rural village near Nyeri, Kenya, but that would do little to sustain the village long-term. Teaching the high school students at Mahiga Hope how to do it themselves takes some of their dependence on others away. “These kids will learn a skill that they can make a living at utilizing,” Morgan said. The Robotics team will videotape a series of lessons using materials that are accessible in Kenya. Upon completion, the lessons will go to the high school, where the students will learn and eventually use these new-found skills to provide electricity to their only school without it, the pre-school. But the Robotics team doesn’t want to stop there. “Ideally after the pre-school is done, we will then work on the whole village getting the lights in their homes,” Morgan said. The Robotics team has begun to request funding from places in the community and calculate the potential costs. Regardless of an indefinite knowledge of where the money will come from to pay for supplies, they remain optimistic. “Despite this initial obstacle, it isn’t going to impede the process,” Robotics student senior Hena Usmani said. “It’s simply not an option.” The Robotics team wants to use this opportunity to shed light on the students half-way across the globe, taking the spotlight away from themselves. “It’s bigger than us,” Hena said. “We have the opportunity to positively affect lives. But it’s not about us, it’s about them.” —Jessee Haney

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brains + brawn


Turk Pipkin and two Mahiga primary school students

Lily Pipkin

project ran into some psychological pitfalls due to the fact that most of the Kenyans had never been on the second story of a building. “When they were building the second story and took the teachers up there, there was some real concern about [whether] it would be safe to put their kids up so high,” Christy said. To encourage students who may be more at a disadvantage than others, the Nobelity Project has initiated a tuition sponsorship program for donors who wish to become connected to a specific student. “Right now we sponsor four students there, three of whom who are living with other relatives because their parents died from AIDS,” Christy said. “It’s about $50 a month to sponsor a student. That [includes] lunches, tuition, uniforms — all their expenses. We know that we can find people here who are looking for a personal relationship with a student and will underwrite the cost of their education.” Sponsoring a student’s education isn’t the only way to make a more meaningful donation. Benefactors have also contributed to specific aspects of the school’s construction. “We are building the playground in the memory of [junior] Jake Webber’s mother, who recently passed away from cancer,” Christy said. “That will be the Karen Webber Memorial Playground, from contributions from family and friends. Those are the kind of opportunities

we have for people who feel personally connected.” The new high school will serve as more than an institute of education. The Pipkins hope that it will help tie the community together. “One of the things I’ve realized lately is that [Mahiga] used to be an area where families wanted to get their kids out of and send them away for better opportunities,” Christy said. “With the new school, it’s really turned the tide to where families and other people who live there are coming to Mahiga, and the district funds are coming back to the community. It’s really revitalizing the community from the ground up.” Unlike most good schools in Africa, Mahiga Hope caters to the immediate needs of the community, making obtaining a solid education readily accessible. “One of the reasons that a lot of these kids can’t go to school is that there’s a high school about 30 kilometers away, but it’s a little expensive and they can’t get there,” Christy said. “So the idea is to bring the high school to them so they can continue to walk to school and to keep it from becoming a boarding school, which is not an unusual thing in Africa. Sometimes the goal of schools that open there is to make themselves more exclusive, and therefore better schools. Our philosophy is to become more inclusive and still be a better school.” Though the Pipkins realize the limitations of working for a relatively small non-profit, they turn this into an advantage by demonstrating the great impact even a small organization can have and encouraging others to participate. “If you see what it costs to build a well, and this is what it costs to build a classroom or even just to plant a tree or buy a book for a library, then they can go do it any way they want; it doesn’t have to be through us,” Turk said. “There are a lot of really great groups building wells and building schools. But there could be a lot more. High schools in particular are more daunting [to build], because in most cases, you’re starting from scratch. And the need is massive — the percentage is shockingly low of kids in Africa making it to high school.” Girls tend to make up the majority of African students unable to receive a high school education, often due to family responsibilities or lack of money. “Families have a lot of kids, and some think that if they have to invest in one of their kids, they should invest in a boy, because he might have a better chance of making more money, which is not necessarily true,” Turk said. “It’s not intended to be that in the family they love the boys more than the girls; they’re just trying to be practical.” At Mahiga, girls are more prevalent in school, but even then the

Hoping from home Daughter contemplates parents’ work, own role in Mahiga

The high school kids that acted too cool in front of the camera were the ones laughing hardest when there wasn’t film rolling. I got to talk with George and Purity, two sophomores who are aspiring journalists. The two of them are shooting videos on flip cameras for my dad’s next movie about the school, Building Hope. Some of the girls gave me a tour of the school grounds and invited me to play basketball. Leaving was harder than expected. I had only spent a few days with these kids, but it still felt like I had known them for years. Without knowing the next time I would be back to see them again, goodbye was a sad event. With such different Co urt backgrounds, the kids at e Mahiga are surprisingly similar to the ones at Westlake. Even with 60 students in their school and 600 students in my grade alone, we’re all still Lily Pipkin teenagers making our way through high school. —Lily Pipkin

ho t


during the process of meeting almost every student, I shook hands with one girl, Kellen, and was shocked to recognize her face and name. She was one of the kids I had watched grow up. It was at this point in time when I realized how real this all was, that all these kids whose hands I was shaking were real people, not just faces on a screen. During our visit, my sister and I took school pictures of each of the students so they could have library cards and their first yearbook. We had a fairly complex system, involving four of five people at the least. Everything is harder when you can’t speak Swahili or the regional language of Kikuyu. We got a lot of blank stares. But when we got the process up and running, we discovered one major flaw in our plan — the kids were shy. Most of the kids wouldn’t smile or wouldn’t look at the camera, but I found that if I said, “Decca!” (the Kikuyu word for smile) enough times, eventually they would laugh at how badly I was mispronouncing it. Most of the high school kids were too modest to break out their smiles when put on the spot in front of the camera with their friends watching, but we found that having their teachers subjected to school pictures was the thing that got the laughter going.

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I have spent the last six years of my life watching a group of kids in Kenya grow up, and I have watched every minute of this through a video camera or on a computer screen. I’ve watched hours of unscripted footage turn into specific faces and places that I now recognize. I’ve watched a pre-school of eight kids grow to an enrollment of 41 with just one teacher. It’s an odd sensation to feel that you know a place without ever having been there. But in July, after six years of seeing these kids’ faces, my parents, my sister and I traveled to Kenya. We got the opportunity to actually meet the students of the Mahiga Primary School and see the kids there who are my own age who are just moving into the recently completed Mahiga Hope High School. Upon arriving at the school, we wandered our way through the construction to see the progress made since my father’s last visit in June. When the bell rang for school to end, the kids all saw my six-and-a-halffoot-tall white-haired father and ran towards us. We shook hands with the kids over the fence between the schoolyard and the construction site. They all wanted to know my name, my mom’s name, my grade. One kid asked “Who is your president?” and when I answered “Obama,” they all cheered. At some point

percentage remains less than that of the male students. Often times, the female students have overcome obstacles to be able to attend school ‘Walk for Water’ draws sophomore to bring clean water to Ethiopian community past the eighth grade. “For these girls to actually be In Tigray, Ethiopia, I approached the stream used by local deep I began to bleed. I remember crossing the plateau in this school, they’ve beaten some villagers to collect their daily water supply. This was the and seeing all people at the road, cheering me on as they odds already,” Christy said. “They water I would be carrying. As I saw the water, I was beyond awaited my arrival. have families that are supporting shocked. It was brown, filthy and smelled of animal excreWhen I took the jerry can off of my back, it was a feelthem, or some reason that they’re ment. The stench literally stung my nostrils. I couldn’t even ing of pure relief. I realized how blessed we are, to live the still in high school and they’re imagine the diseases that lurked in it. And here were naked life that we live, to live in the country that we live in, and to choosing to continue it. There’s a kids bathing, playing and drinking from the water. drink the water we drink. I was not only inspired, but also certain backbone to them.” I had chosen to make the journey to Ethiopia last June determined to come back to Austin and make a differIn one of the non-profit’s efforts in order to see firsthand the poverty, but more importantly ence in the lives of others. After my struggle of carrying to help students with confidence to see how my friends and I could actually make a differthe water, my new ambition was to share the feeling with and self-esteem, the Pipkins’ two ence to people on the other side of the world. I wanted to friends in Austin, and raise awareness. I would do this daughters have engaged in a special find out for myself by experiencing the hardships of the by bringing my “walk for water” back home. The concept assignment since their visit to Kenya people of Tigray. In order to accomplish this, I decided to is simple: some friends and I filled up jerry cans with this past summer. take on the task of so many villagers as part of their daily the same amount of water from a dirty stream (trying to “Lily and Katie are a steady, routine: a “walk for water.” resemble the water from Ethiopia as much as possible), working part of the team,” Turk The “walk for water”’ is a simple concept: I would walk strapped the cans onto our backs, and began to walk. said. “They travel with us, and one of down to the dirty, contaminated, disgusting water source The walk took place in the hills of West Austin. Through the things that we’re doing because that’s used on a daily basis by rural Ethiopian villagers to the generosity of friends and family, we were able to raise of them at the school right now is collect water, fill my jerry can up with approximately 50 between $15,000-$20,000. Thanks to the donations, we a project that they did during the pounds of water, and then carry it back up the slope. But were able to make a significant contribution to a health summer. They took photos of every the actual execution was far from easy. My initial reaction post in addition to a water well being built in Tigray. kid in the school, to basically build to putting the water on my back was that it was extremely The sum of money that I raised through my walk a yearbook for the school. For these heavy, and I felt like my back was going to snap because of doesn’t compare to the colossal amount raised since kids, the simple thing of having a the strained ropes fastened to the jerry can. 2007. I play tennis at the Austin Tennis Academy. In 2007, printed photo of themselves serves As I began the walk up the hill, my legs began to burn two ATA members started a campaign to raise funds for as proof that they’re a real person.” immediately. The rugged terrain, my arrogance and the projects in rural Ethiopia. Three years later, that campaign The Pipkins find the students weight took effect. Physically, I was sure that I could make had raised more than $350,000 and had inspired others themselves to act much like Amerithe walk; mentally, I had already begun to doubt myself to reach out and make a difference. Since my return from can children, although some cultural after five minutes. The next 40 wouldn’t come easily. Tigray, donations have allowed them to have their own differences remain. I still remember how badly it hurt when my circulation well, to supply them with clean water for many years to “The older kids are kind of was being cut off. The pain was unbelievable. As I walked, come. sassy,” Christy said. “They’re very the ropes cut into my chest and shoulders, digging so —Breck Spencer curious. They had a lot of questions and a lot of smiles. When they found out how old I was, it was like instant respect, because I’m as old as their grandmothers. They all want to talk, and Project Hyline is offering members the opportunity It’s easy to focus on what we don’t have rather than they repeated everything you say because it to contribute to the Westlake — and global — comappreciating what we do have.” sounds funny to them.” de la Luz munity. The purpose of this project is to show that a The first step of the project was Ifor zzy With the partnership with Westlake, small group such as Hyline can make a difference, the dancers to write letters to Christy hopes to impart some of the comnot only in the school, but in the world. some of the Kenyan girls. munity shared by American students to the “Project Hyline will focus on different groups and “We wrote the girls Kenyan students. organizations around the school, such as the custoletters, and we’re hoping “The more time I’m spending at Westdial staff, administrators and the office staff, who to get one back,” second lake and getting kids’ interest, the more don’t get as much appreciation as they deserve,” lieutenant junior I’m getting this sense of community and dance department director Chelsee Capezzuti said. Meredith Trank said. that sense of school spirit,” Christy said. The gratitude won’t stop within the walls of “We’re not only sending “For me, the understanding that it’s about Westlake. Project Hyline will expand to reach out to them letters. Over time the community of the school, is something the students at Mahiga Hope High School. we will send them care unique. At Mahiga, they’ve never had a high “It’s a hard and scary thing because there’s so packages and get to know school or that sense of belonging to somemuch that needs to be done in the world, and it just them better. I’m curious thing that’s bigger than just going to class or Project Hyline participants all starts will a single step,” Capezzuti said. “It’s about [my pen-pal’s] life, what taking the test at the end of the year.” easy to be focused on our own hopes and goals, her hobbies are and what she likes.” The friendship between the schools is but that doesn’t matter in the big scheme of things. Girls face a higher drop-out rate among Kenyan intended to be a strictly two-way exchange. We’re excited to focus on something that will make a students due to the fact that families tend to favor “I think in the contexts of these two difference.” investment in education for boys. schools together, one of the things that they The Hyline directors have committed to pitch in “We want to start a fundraiser to help raise can learn from each other is the simple fact to help engage in this global connection. money for the school in Kenya,” Meredith said. of how similar all kids are and the connec“People think that since there are so many prob“Some of the women in Kenya make necklaces, so tions between them,” Christy said. “One of lems in the world, one single person won’t change we could advertise for those and sell them, get local the early revelations I had in some of the anything, but they can,” assistant director Lindsay businesses to advertise — anything to raise some work we do is that kids your age are much Young said. “I think we will all gain a bigger perspecmoney for them.” worldlier in that there’s not the distinctions tive from this and learn not to take life for granted. —Izzy de la Luz between nationalities because of the

Dancing for a difference

Hyline members gear up for year of service in global context

at home and abroad. When you take a global perspective, it comes as a whole. It’s a whole perspective.” With Mahiga Hope High School having finally opened Oct. 1, an approximately year-and-a-half long project has culminated in a life-changing development for both community members and project designers alike. However, the project won’t end there. “In those beginning stages it was just the primary school,” Christy said. “The high school was the second stage of that, and now the pre-school is the third stage. The pre-school has grown and grown from about eight kids to 40 during our subsequent trips, with a kindergartenstyle education where they learn their alphabet and how to read, but there’s only one teacher. We’re building a new preschool with two classes, so one of the new initiatives will be to underwrite a new pre-school teacher until the school district can take that expense over.” For now, the Pipkins encourage everyone to get involved in whatever issues speak to them and make a difference in the world. “Informing yourself is the first step,” Christy said. “Figure out what issues you care about. Find out more about them. And lastly, remember that global issues are your issues. If you’re concerned about the environment, plant some trees. It’s just as important to plant trees here as it is in Kenya. There are lots of ways locally to have global impact.” —Anisha Ganguly

“One of the things that they can learn from each other is the simple fact of how similar all kids are and the connections between them.” —Christy Pipkin

StuCo goes global Student Council has embarked on the opportunity of a lifetime, participating in the partnership between Mahiga Hope and Westlake. The new Kenya Committee has met and planned out several projects to aid the school financially, but also ett Wilson r connect the students r a B on a personal level with their Westlake counterparts. “We talked about Melissa Dupre

For ways to get involved, visit

Kenya Committee engages in exchange with Mahiga Hope

a mentorship program, in which [the Kenyan students] can meet with successful Kenyans, showing them that there are jobs after high school and this education will prepare them for the future,” Student Council sponsor Melissa Dupre said. The Kenya Committee has planned several fundraisers to help different aspects, both physical and cultural, of Mahiga Hope High School. “We want to help build an education video library, so we’ll

probably do a DVD-drive for Bill Nye, Planet Earth, etc. Then we may try to get involved in some tuition sponsorship.” In addition to fundraising projects, Student Council hopes to promote more intangible connections in a cultural and personal sense. “We want to demonstrate the concept of representation,” Dupre said. “Kenya is a democracy, but we want to make it real for these students.” —Anisha Ganguly


The first class


Court esy

tions between nationalities because of the communications available all over the world. The kids in Mahiga are getting old enough to realize that there’s a common thread of humanity that they’ll have bridged through this connection with Westlake.” The Pipkins are staunch advocates of thinking on a global scale, especially for current students growing in a rapidly globalizing world. “We’re one of the countries with the least bilingual language skills of any country, which leaves kids here relatively unsuited to work in a global economy,” Turk said. “What happens in the rest of the world determines just as much what happens here, maybe even more than all the left-right divides. Those aren’t going to be the key issues that shape the future for most kids — it’s going to be about literacy, water, climate change and global health issues in a very big way.” Rather than simply encourage Americans to make a difference abroad, the Nobelity Project enforces the idea of improving the world as a whole, including within the borders of the U.S. “When I talk to student groups, I like to remind them that we have a tendency to think of global issues as outside of our borders,” Christy said. “But our issues are global issues, and global issues are our issues. When you change your perspective to being a part of the global construction, you realize that global impact isn’t just one direction. When I talk to little kids, I say, ‘The globe is round. Where does that action stop? It doesn’t stop. It comes back to you.’ All actions that are global have impact


Kenyan student ruminates over life-changing chance to attend high school George Abrahams Ochieng Oriwa

I was born on March 28, 1994 in a small village called Omindo, in Siaya district, Nyanza province. My parents, Nick Peter O. O. Mwadhi and Margaret Elalai Ochieng, moved to Bungoma Town while I was still a toddler. According to my mom, I was already walking and talking on my own. When my dad landed a well-paying job, he came home and broke the news to us that indeed we were moving to Nairobi. In Nairobi we stayed in Embakasi in Nyayo estate. It was here that my father took me to join Embakasi Christian Academy. There was the foundation for my education from nursery to pre-unit (the preparation for moving into primary school.) But my dad lost his job, and we moved to Uganda, a neighboring country of Kenya, to visit our grandparents. My mom and dad decided it was better that we take our education to Uganda, the homeland of my mother. My dad decided to go and seek employment once more but had to come back to Kenya to participate in voting in 2007. Unfortunately, the general election turned violent when there was a delay of announcement of the outcome. Some people expected Raila Odinga (current Prime Minister of Kenya) to be the winner, while others expected Mwai Kibaki (current president of Kenya) to be the winner. It was the worst violence ever witnessed in Kenyan history since independence (1963). The post-election violence rendered my father jobless, thus interfering with my education. At last the two candidates, with the help of Kofi Annan (the retired UN Secretary General) got together in a round table to agree on a peace deal and how to lead the country. I was relieved, like my other countrymen, especially those my age, that we were going to school. The country calmed in 2008, the year I sat for my final exams, the Kenya Certificate for Primary Education. I was quite nervous during the exam period, but I did it. The exams came out in late December of 2008, and I had passed with good grades. In January 2009, I received a calling letter to join high school, but due to money problems, I couldn’t manage to join first form (freshman year) until second term. Then in January 2010, we set off to Nyeri, Kenya where my dad had a job with a security company to manage the road building. After two days of rest, my father took me to Mahiga Hope High School to join as a second form student. Little did I know that my dreams were coming true. One day while at school, Architecture for Humanity Fellow Greg Elsner came to class and asked, “Who is George?” I stood up, and he told me he knew my dad and they were friends. Greg was starting construction of the rainwater court for our school, and during April vacation he asked my dad to let me help him with some work. He had found out that I could use cameras and allowed me to help him by shooting some footage for the Nobelity Project. I never thought my dream of becoming a journalist would begin so quickly. Greg introduced me to the main project leader, Mr. Turk Pipkin, and his family when they visited the country in July 2010. His wife Christy Pipkin and his two daughters Lily and Katie Rose Pipkin are very good photographers, and I enjoyed talking with them about my work and school. Lily told me that she also works as a journalist in her school, Westlake High School, and asked me to send this writing. I have great plans after my high school education. I have a desire to become one of the best journalists in the universe. I also have to focus on respect, discipline and great understanding to achieve my goals. I hope that one day I will be able to help others just like the Nobelity Project has helped us. —George Abrahams Ochieng Oriwa, Mahiga Hope student

A test of


National Merit Semifinalists: Pictured:

Chris Bull

Class of 2011 sets record for Semifinalists


ast year, counselors throughout the school were ecstatic. PSAT scores had reached a new high, and accompanying them were 32 National Merit Semifinalists, an all-time record for Westlake. At this year’s surprise pizza party celebrating the National Merit Semifinalists, students were shocked to find that their number had increased to 47. With this recordbreaking number of semifinalists, Westlake has placed at the top of schools nationally. Although the National Merit Scholarship Corporation does not rank schools, they sent Westlake a list of all the 2010 National Merit Semifinalists. After totaling the amount from Westlake, principal Linda Rawlings counted the number of semifinalists at other highly competitive schools and discovered that Westlake had the eighth highest number of semifinalists of all public, private and magnet schools. Westlake placed third among public schools and was number one in Texas. “Mrs. Rawlings researched it herself,” college and

career counselor Jeff Pilchiek said. “She went through the entire book, every school in the country. She is on the National Merit committee this year, and I think it just shows her commitment to the process.” To increase the growing number of semifinalists, a PSAT boot camp was held Sept. 25 for juniors. “We’ll just keep doing what we’re doing — it seems to be working,” counselor Carol Niemann said. “We’ll continue to support high academics. All of us are working together to help students reach their potential.” The administration hopes that this year’s semifinalists will inspire the growing trend of PSAT participants to continue to partake in the scholarship contest. “Having 47 semifinalists is certainly an outstanding number, especially for a public school,” National Merit Semifinalist senior XiaoSong Mu said. “However, Westlake is an excellent school academically, so it’s no big surprise.” —Zach Wasfi

National merit by the numbers


National Merit Semifinalists this year

32 place among

1st Texas schools


score on PSAT needed to qualify as semifinalist this year

National Merit Semifinalists last year


juniors who participated in the PSAT boot camp

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Fatima Alvi Geeta Bajaj Lauren Balch Anurag Banerjee Walter Bezanson Sean Brocklehurst Kelly Carlquist Elaine Cen Matthew Chang Elliott Finch Anisha Ganguly Sam Hooper Andrew Johnston Ryan Kelley Michael Kloc Alice Liu Joseph Lubars Brett Mele XiaoSong Mu Caitlin Otto Tarun Palapati Jack Reid Tara Sharma Reed Snyder Kathy Spradlin Alex Steele Mark Stone Sammie Truong Douglas Vaaler April Yu

Not Pictured:

Jenny Astrachan David Beachum Eunice Chee Stephen Hewlett Kenzie Hume Jasmin Khan Swetha Kotamraju Michelle Ling Shivani Morrison Lauren Niu Monica Pickett Amita Raj Manav Raj Danielle Suh Kate Travis Emma Yee Lucy Zha

brains + brawn


The name’s bond Eanes ISD prepares for November election, educates residents about bond propositions

$149.5 million can buy you 744.4 Bentley automobiles, 41.7 islands in the Bahamas, 600 million Silly Bandz or 4,285.7 years of college education. If you’ve taken Economics or have been versed in the subject of finance, the concept of a bond might be familiar to you. Defined as a certificate of possession symbolizing money owed to an individual by the government or a corporation, this idea is likely to prove instrumental to the district in a short amount of time. Eanes ISD residents will be heading to the polls Nov. 2 to decide on the bond propositions.

Although all three of the propositions are collectively important factors in the upcoming election, the list of critical needs, construction projects and updates to the district is intentionally divided into three separate categories. “Three different propositions give voters choices,” school board member Dr. Kal Kallison said. “We divide the bonds for that very reason and to reduce the possibility of people voting against something [specific] that brings down the whole bond.” As with most construction projects, a time frame is proposed to maintain organization and communication. “We will probably issue the bonds all at once,” Dr. Kallison said. “However, we will spread out the spending over a five-year period, completing the most critical things first.” With an increase of crowded classes this year, one might question why this bond money can’t fund teacher-related expenses. “Certain items can be on the bond, and certain items can’t,” Dr. Kallison said. “The bonds can’t go towards teacher salaries, supplies or school resources. They are for capital improvements, major repairs and projects.” The two components of property taxes are utilized for different purposes. The maintenance and operation of running the school is funded from $1.04 for every $100 in property value, and separate bond debts are taxed at 16.25 cents per $100 in property value. If any of the proposed bonds are issued, the tax of 16.25 cents per $100 might increase. “The school board is allowing tax payers to decide where they want their money going,” principal Linda Rawlings said. If all three propositions pass, the increase would likely be 6.5 or 7.5 cents per $100. “When we issue bonds, we will have to pay interest on them,” Dr. Kallison said. “We

choose when we want these bonds to mature because we don’t want them all to mature at the same time. We have a conservative policy where we like to pay them off in 20 years.” The maturation of a bond simply means the time when the money must be paid back to those who bought it. Upon the issue of the bond, anyone from anywhere can purchase bonds from the district, who then pays the individuals back at a lower interest rate compared to if they had to pay back a bank. “We are borrowing money from thousands of people,” Dr. Kallison said. “[Many] purchase a bond because it is a safer investment. There is no income tax on a bond, but since it is so safe, the yield isn’t as high.” In order to keep up with the maintenance and operation of the district, a Community Bond Advisory Committee made a list of recommendations to the school board of what needs to be done. Most districts propose bonds about every four to five years, and the money proposed is put towards the listed projects and repairs. “There are three different propositions,” Dr. Kallison said. “You can vote for any combination. It’s almost $150 million total, and the school district doesn’t have that kind of money, even with the bond tax. That is why the district borrows the money.” The first proposition, widely considered the most critical, consists of what can be seen as the urgent needs of the district, according to Dr. Kallison. For example, the Americans with Disabilities Act was passed in 1990, but since the campuses were older, they didn’t have to comply with the new standards. “Regardless of the requirements, we want to make the campuses universally accessible,” Dr. Kallison said. “We don’t have to, but we want to. It is a goal and a value of the district to be 100 percent up to the current standard.” Other systems such as heating and air conditioning are nearing the end of their functioning life. Although much of the money goes to ADA and heating, ventilation and air conditioning, Proposition One also incorporates the amount for new computers for the entire district and renovations to the WHS stadium track and visitor stands as well as other outside areas on various campuses. The second aspect of the bond election involves the question of whether or not to build a new elementary school in the Cuernavaca area.

Dollar Dialogue


“I think that a neighborhood school [in Cuernavaca] would be great. With Bee Cave getting busier and busier, there is a lot of traffic and kids are on the school bus for a long time.” —Eanes parent Heather Kight


“If we do get our own outdoor pool, it would be a lot easier for the swimmers. We’d have more time to practice instead of wasting time riding a bus to a pool farther away.” —sophomore Margaret Beck


“I have been in a wheelchair for six weeks, and [maneuvering] definitely took some adjusting. Since there is only one automatic door on campus, I think some updates are definitely necessary.” —junior Tucker Hume


“An indoor field would be extremely beneficial for not only the band, but other organizations as well. [The band] often has to miss practice because of inclement weather, and an indoor facility would be helpful.” —junior Matthew Seghers

“I would encourage everyone to seek out as much information as possible about the projects in all three bond propositions and then determine how they will vote.” —school board member Dr. Kal Kallison “Cuernavaca families must travel to Valley View,” Dr. Kallison said. “This greatly limits parent involvement and little kids have to go on long bus rides. Valley View would cease to be an elementary school and it could be repurposed for administration, special education, community education, teacher training and other functions, or it could be rented out to Austin Community College as [another] possibility.” The construction of a new elementary school and renovation of Valley View would allow for an additional educational entity. It is important to note that Proposition One contains money for Valley View, but if Proposition Two passes, some of that money will be put aside for something else. If the bonds pass, the money goes to specified projects, but there is room for alteration. “There are a few occasions when modifications must be made,” Dr. Kallison said. “There will be general terms at the polls for this reason.” Additionally, Proposition Two will put a large amount of money towards the renovation of the oldest school in the district, 50-year-old Eanes Elementary, using more sustainable materials for the school. This plan is different from Proposition Three’s

Summing it up

list, in which completely new construction is involved for Westlake. “Proposition Three’s plan has a covered facility with multiple uses,” Dr. Kallison said. “This would be a place where all outdoor sports teams and [the] band could practice, and where P.E. classes and social events could be held. Attached would be a wrestling area, a place for cheer and Hyline, as well as a weight room.” This facility would be constructed on part of the current junior parking lot, but Proposition Three covers the cost of additional parking to make up for the lost space, as well as an outdoor swim center. “The district is [also] looking into buying a property on Walsh Tarlton [with the money from existing savings],” Dr. Kallison said. “This space is being considered for the facility for the 19 Plus Program, a special education program that works with students from the age of 19 to about 22 to teach them specific jobs, and [funds from Proposition One would go to developing that space].” Other programs that are currently in portables, like 19 Plus, include the Alternative Education Program on the Westlake campus and the Child Development Center. “These portables are at the end of their

lives,” he said. “They cost money to replace every so often and Proposition One suggests upgrading the facilities. Eventually we want to replace these programs in longer lasting, [permanent] facilities.” According to Dr. Kallison, one aspect important with any bond is the resulting cost in continuing to run the district, and if the bond will save the district money. “I think it’s important for more people to get educated,” Dr. Kallison said. “Families in the district can find out detailed information about the bond election on the Eanes website. I would encourage everyone to seek out as much information as possible about the projects in all three bond propositions and then determine how they will vote.” There are a number of features that define each proposition, and in order for the best decision to be made by residents, people must be knowledgeable and understand the purpose of the bond. “The Eanes school district and the community have a long history of investing in the district,” Board of Trustees president Paul Stone said. “Many families have supported bonds [in the past], and this is just a continuation of the investment in education.” —Lizzie Friedman

Proposition 1

Proposition 2

Proposition 3

- Heating, ventilation and air conditioning - Upgrades to comply with Americans with Disabilities Act - Technology upgrades - Safety upgrades - Special education facility upgrades - Maintenance upgrades

- Construction of new elementary school located in Cuernavaca neighborhood - Upgrades to current elementary schools

- Student fitness activity center - Dance, cheer and wrestling facilities - Outdoor swim center - Westlake High School parking lot - Facility at Walsh Tarlton - Portable replacements

Total: $72 million

Total: $57 million

{ }

Total: $20.5 million

brains + brawn


Emily Mitchell


It all

District, school work to boost revenue with advertising

The administration is looking for solutions as the cost of maintaining facilities within the district steadily climbs. In June of this year, a proposal was brought to the attention of the school board that could generate more money for the district. In the Houston area, businesses have the opportunity to purchase ad space on the sides of the school buses. That very idea may soon be implemented on Eanes school buses. According to the proposal submitted to the school board, the advertisements would be offered at either eye-level in the rear half of the bus or above the windows in the same section. It is projected that with 40 buses, the district could recieve as much as $ 17,000 per month. At the time of press, no decisions had been made yet. The district already depends upon funds collected from the advertisement sales in and around the stadium and in the directory, but the prospect of adding more has always been on the table. “Ads are all around us,” Board of Trustees president Paul Stone said. “They work because businesses will pay to have their name out there.” The idea of advertising to pick up the slack of the rising bills wasn’t only appealing to the school board. Principal Linda Rawlings jumped

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at the opportunity to boost revenue for the campus. Many students and faculty have noticed the newly placed projector on the wall of the Commons, but most don’t understand the reasons behind it. Rawlings explained that the company who installed and maintains the projector, Inverted Advertising, will be uploading advertisements for different colleges and universities. “They’re not selling products; they’re advertising for universities,” Rawlings said. “There is no risk to it at all for us, no economic commitment. [We could get] up to $5,000 to $10,000 in a school year. [The money] would be able to go back to us to use, which would be great.” The screen will be available to the Student Council for posting important messages or reStudents pass the newly minders via Flash. placed screen as they walk “We’re looking to use it as a way to get word through the Commons. out,” student body president senior XiaoSong Mu Monica Tan said. “It’s just something new and dynamic, as opposed to a poster.” If the original prototype in the Commons proves successful in the eyes of the advertising company, an additional one might be installed in a section of the Ninth Grade Center as well. —Monica Tan and Josh Willis




o you have any extra desks?” “Everyone will have to share textbooks for the time being.” “There are how many kids in the class?” Chatter about the large classes filled the halls during the first weeks of school. With 17 fewer staff members than the previous year, enrollment at an all-time high and a reduced budget, the gossip over the substantial class sizes is not a merely rumor. This year, stricter finances have added to the increase in class size. “I’ve been here since 2001, and probably it’s the tightest budget constraints [this year],” said assistant principal Steven Ramsey, creator of the master schedule. “Tax revenue throughout the district is down. That’s how we get the money to fund teachers. [Houses are] just not appreciating as they were, so we’re just not getting as much coming in as we had in the past. That’s where the issue comes in with the budget.” This year’s smaller budget forced the district to make cutbacks, including the number of teachers. “Teachers who left weren’t replaced,” English teacher Sandra Coker said. “With [the

Overcrowding in classes causes issues for administrators, students, teachers

addition of] two instructional partners who prepare for and lead professional development in the core disciplines, we have even fewer teachers, so even fewer classes. The classes we do have generally include 30 or more students.” Teachers were not replaced because of the district budget limitations. “We didn’t replace [the teachers who left] because funding from the state [was low],” Ramsey said. “The district sets a staffing ratio of one faculty member to 17 students. They [say to] us, ‘Okay, this is how many teachers you should have,’ and we figure out how to still offer all of the courses for all of the various interests you have, and that’s where it becomes real tricky. Kids still want to have two choirs, and we make sure that [happens]. That is something we believe is pretty important. Because there are [multiple] choirs, that may mean that an English class is a little larger than last year, just because we don’t have as many [classes] of English being taught.” In the choice between inflated classes and a narrower variety of classes, the administration chose the former. “We could have chosen to eliminate [some

of the courses] and say, ‘Maybe we don’t need all of that,’” Ramsey said. “‘Maybe we need extra teachers here.’ But [students] want to take Chinese; [they] want to take Latin and Film and Robotics. Because we have such an awesome array of classes, it limits us sometimes. We had to make those decisions. ‘Do you want to keep this? Is this worthy?’ All of those classes may not have 30, 32 kids in them, but [they are] something we still think is very valuable. We’re still going to offer those to [you] so that you can have the experience where you can do everything you want to.” The school officials pride themselves on this decision because many other districts do not have the same assortment of courses. “We have a balance in the variety of classes [we offer],” principal Linda Rawlings said. “[The students] have benefited and enjoyed some of the classes [we have added] in the past four to five years.” The expansion of class sizes has occurred the most in the core classes (English, math, science and social studies) because every student is required to take the four main classes all four years, while other classes remained largely unaffected by the changes.

“[The maximum size] depends on the chemistry teacher April Richardson said. there were more times I had to say, ‘No, that class,” counselor Carol Niemann said. “For “Safety is always a factor. Space issues as class is already full.’ Believe me, there are stuinstance, if you have a computer class, it’s dic- well — there are a lot of elbows. You also don’t dents all the time that come in and say, ‘I see tated by the number of computers in the class, get that one-on-one time with students, and an empty seat in that class. Why can’t I have and in some other classes, there are limits a lot of time is spent trying to deal with the it?’ But when you hit that [maximum class set by the state because of the parameters of mechanics of the class, making sure everyone size], I don’t even have the capability of doing safety. For instance, in a cooking class, you’re is involved and grading homework. If the it [in the computer].” around hot equipment, so you’ve got safety isnumber [of students] grows [to more than] The school district is currently looking at sues. In a computer class, if there’s one more 30, we’re really going to see problems.” ways to return class sizes to previous levels. person than computer, someone doesn’t get to The administration has been working dili“About 85 percent of the budget goes to work that day.” gently to see that these concerns do not arise. staffing,” Rawlings said. “The school district is There is not a set maximum looking at ways to save about $2 for each class, causing some to million. One way [would be] to “Teachers already have extremely high stress continue to inflate. go to six classes per teacher inlevels without large classes. This just increases stead of five; however, this is not “Class size limits are flexible,” psychology teacher Dara popular because teachers would the pressure of trying to get it all done and Frazier said. “At one point, they not be paid more. They would told me 34 [students] would be just [loose] one of their working to give each student what he or she needs — the limit, but I will have a class periods.” which is our ultimate goal.” next semester with 35. [This Although such a change increase] makes it harder to would decrease class sizes, Rawlknow the students. This really ings said she supports retaining bothers me. It is important to the current Professional Learn“Part of it is that we don’t want to overload ing Community period instead of assigning me to know students and give them feedback.” the teachers,” Ramsey said. “I taught here and each teacher an additional class to instruct. The higher student-to-teacher ratio was I don’t want the people I used to teach with also due to the recent influx of the student “With so many constant changes in techsaying, ‘Oh my gosh, I have 42 kids.’ [The population. This year’s enrollment swelled to nology, curricula revisions, state testing, etc., more than 2,560 students, with about 175 new students] have adapted really well to the situI believe that this period is beneficial to our ation and I think that’s a testament to [them] students to the district in grades nine through staff and students,” Rawlings said. “Teachers, and the teachers because they are the ones 12. These new students were not accounted like other professionals, need time to stay curin there doing it. But, it’s easy for me to look for in the original master schedule. rent on instructional practices.” at the computer screen and go, ‘It’s not that “We started to [make the schedule] in the For now, everyone will have to deal with bad.’” spring based on projected enrollment,” Ramsome larger class sizes. Despite the efforts of the administration, sey said. “We have to live within those limits, “Would I rather see smaller classes?” teachers still feel overwhelmed. and that leads to class size increases.” Niemann said. “Obviously so, but you have “Teachers already have extremely high The amplified class sizes have caused varito do what you’re monetarily dictated to do. stress levels, just like doctors and police ofous hardships for students and teachers alike. Sometimes you don’t have a choice.” ficers, without large classes,” Coker said. “This “You have to get good at multi-tasking,” —Hailey Cunningham just increases pressure of trying to get it all physics teacher Nancy Misage said. “There done and to give each student what he or she are 1,000 things all going on at the same needs — which is our ultimate goal.” time. This gives less time to individually help Rising class sizes contribute to other students. They have to advocate for themproblems, ranging from safety issues to an selves and be much more patient. They need to recognize [if they need help], and they need inability to switch classes. “The classes started at capacity in most to be the ones to come in and fix it.” cases,” Niemann said. “There was less wiggle Safety is another major factor that arises room this year to move kids around. It was when there is overcrowding. harder to [switch students’ schedules] and “It is harder to deal with more students,”

—English teacher Sandra Coker

What do you think of increased class sizes? “I think that the large class sizes have been an unfortunate development. It’s a shame that the school has been unwilling to hire more teachers.” “It makes it harder to learn because the teacher has more people to work with, which makes it practically impossible to ever have one-on-one time with a teacher. Also, the more kids in a classroom, the crazier it tends to be.”

—sophomore Casey Sutton

Taylor Cloyd

—senior Douglas Vaaler

“I was unable to switch out of my class in order to get the teacher of my choice. It’s obvious overcrowding is a problem.”

—junior Parker Humphery

For more quotes go to www.westlakefeatherduster. com

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brains + brawn


Playing the field

Key players step up, look to lead team back to State

Collin Shaw

Wide receiver senior Collin Shaw has already started off this football season with impressive stats. In the six games played so far, Collin has caught 27 passes for a total of 443 yards, averaging 16.4 yards per reception, and has scored four touchdowns. Although the team had a shaky start, the players are beginning to come together, demonstrating a strong bond and commitment to making it to State. “I feel like I contribute to the team by playing receiver with great effort and doing my required job every day,” Collin said. “I just do my best like everyone else.”

Senior Collin Shaw runs past a New Braunfels defender after catching a pass. Collin led the Chaps’ offense to a 39-point outburst against the Unicorns Sept. 24.


Brice Dolezal

Nathan Kallison

Leading the charge, senior Curtis Loeffel busts through the sign onto the field before the second half against Pflugerville. The Chaps won their home opener handily, beating the Panthers 59-35.



Explosive. That’s what comes to mind when watching running back junior Brice Dolezal play. In his second season on varsity, Brice has taken 43 carries for 310 yards, bursting for 8.1 yards per carry. The quick-footed running back had a breakout game against New Braunfels with 163 total yards, including an impressive 74-yard touchdown run. The Chaps’ rushing attack has gotten a kick-start lately, with Brice and others getting more touches, and he has not passed up the opportunity. “We started to spread the ball out a lot more,” Brice said. “The first three games, we didn’t have our legs quite under us yet, but we are finally starting to get it. It’s only going to get better.” Things certainly got better for the Chaps after their 0-3 start, as they won their next three games. Brice and the rest of the Chaps’ offense look to build on their recent success and hope to make true of their slogan, “It’s our year.”

Junior Brice Dolezal takes a handoff between two Lake Travis defenders at Darrell K. Royal Memorial Stadium against Lake Travis. Brice had 71 total yards and a touchdown against the Cavaliers. Nathan Kallison

Robert Allen Smith

Theo Doucet

Curtis Loeffel

Senior Curtis Loeffel, benching 290 pounds, is With 19 total tackles and a sack, junior Robert Allen Smith is already averaging four tackles per game and has a forcedestablishing a firm foundation of his own personal goals for the remainfumble and a fumble recovery. During the 14 hours der of the season. of practices a week plus game time, coaches are “This season, I hope to become more of a physical football player,” yelling out plays, criticism and advice to the playRobert said. “I hope to make more than 50 tackles and hopefully have ers. an interception. I think I have done well on coverages and guarding “You take it with good intentions, knowing that receivers, but I need to work on my tackling and becoming more of a run they want you to get better,” Curtis said. “It’s just support player.” like learning in the classroom. Being a good student In order to achieve these aspirations, Robert looks to both coaches translates onto the field.” and fellow players for support. Curtis has been working hard to achieve his “In my opinion, the coaching staff has really inspired us as a team goals and improve through the years to become a to succeed and has pushed us to be the best players we can be,” Robert great football player. said. “They have done a great job coaching and helping us handle the “Curtis began starting for us a year ago,” head adversity of losing our first couple of games. Being one of the leastcoach Darren Allman said. “He has come back experienced players on the defense is tough. I think I started out with [from the summer training] as a true leader. He is a a rough couple of games, but my teammates [senior defensive backs] physical and intelligent football player.” really encouraged me and helped me become a better player.” —Compiled by Hillary Hurst, Daisy Burgess, Nathan Kallison and Taylor Kidd *Stats as of Oct. 14, 2010


Running towards the sideline, junior Robert Allen Smith signals that the previous pass was incomplete. Against New Braunfels Robert Allen and the Chaps’ defense forced an incompletion on a crucial fourth down late in the final quarter to seal a 39-34 victory.

Nathan Kallison

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Hannah Kunz

Sophomore Andy Reetz launches the robot he made in Robotics class. “It was fun to see something that I made go blazing down the hall,” he said. “It’s an awesome way to see what the class will be like for the rest of the year.”

Nathan Kallison

The varsity cheerleaders and members of the push-up squad line up on the field at Darryl K. Royal Memorial Stadium Aug. 28 before the Lake Travis game. “My job as a cheerleader is to take pride in our school and everything we do and be a role model for the student body,” varsity cheerleader junior Sarah Day-Linnell said.

Barrett Wilson

Dressed for the occasion, senior Ross Barrett addresses the crowd at the Cowboys vs. Indians pep rally. “Emceeing is great,” Ross said. “Making a fool out of yourself in front of the whole school is a hard experience to beat.”

Carefully balancing the ice cream scoop, sophomore Rusty Hudson serves a large scoop of ice cream to a lucky freshman during the Student Council sophomore class officer Coke float gift to the freshmen. “We had this event to welcome the freshmen to their new school,” Rusty said.

For more photos of your friends and recent events around Westlake, visit

Filled with school spirit, junior Max Hudson makes the traditional “Westlake W” to cheer on the Chaparrals at the Westlake vs. Lake Travis football game Aug. 28 at Darrell K. Royal Memorial Stadium. “The support that our fans showed was great,” Max said. “Westlake football is the best!”

Sidney Hollingsworth

Sidney Hollingsworth

Students in Mitch Lasseter’s Teen Teaching class help guide their blindfolded partners through a maze of loaded mousetraps in a trust-building activity. “It was nerve-wracking, and I really didn’t want to do it at first,” Teen Teaching member senior Mark Judice said. “Making it through safely definitely boosted the trust between me and my partner.”

Hannah Kunz

Admiring the epic scene, seniors Allie D’Andrea, Sarah Teh and Katie Nesloney overlook the crowd in the Commons at the Oct. 1 Techno Dance. The dance was sponsored by Epicosity, with proceeds going to fund projects around the campus to reduce stress in students’ lives.

Nathan Kallison

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brains + brawn


Fancy footwork

Three varsity football players get fine art credit through Dance I


hree dancers tower above a gaggle of black spandex, lacking the grace of the others; they are new to dance, and they can’t do the splits. Dressed in their black Under Armour shirts and shorts, varsity football players middle line backer senior Conor Byrne, center senior Joseph Jarke and left guard junior Bryce Thigpin shimmy and shake along with the rest of Dance I. At the end of last year, Conor realized he needed a fine arts credit. After weighing all of his options, he decided to sign up for dance. “I looked at the options and saw that all you could do really were art classes, and I really don’t like that kind of thing,” Conor said. “I saw dance and how you can get a fine arts credit for the class. I heard stories about NFL football players like Herschel Walker doing ballet and thought it would be fun. My dad is the president of Ballet Austin, and he’s told me about guys [working with the ballet] to train and [work on] coordination. Also, I

know a lot of dancers, so I thought it would be fun to see what they do. I recruited my friends — Jarke and Thigpin and anyone else who wanted to do it — so that’s what led us to take the class.” Bryce had previously considered taking dance, and when he heard that Conor and Joseph were taking Dance I, he decided to join them. “I went to Zenith last year, and that kind of inspired me,” Bryce said. “I was thinking about taking Art History AP or dance. I really didn’t want to sit in a room and constrict myself to a paper and pencil. I thought that dance would be an incredibly refreshing experience and not something that every guy leaving high school can say that he’s done.” Having never danced before, Conor, Joseph and Bryce were shocked at how difficult dancing was at first. The techniques taught in dance were completely new and contrary to what they had learned in football. “As an offensive lineman, I have to practice

Junior Bryce Thigpin leaps through the air while competing in a Dance I relay race. “I really appreciate dance now,” he said. “How many guys can say that they’ve taken dance in high school?”

Nathan Kallison

Dancing with senior Garret Ochoa, hat dancer senior Joseph Jarke practices the moves he has learned in Dance I. The hat dance tradition is passed from a senior varsity lineman to a junior at the end of each year. Last year, the tradition was handed down to Joseph from Brandon Burnes.

Barrett Wilson Barrett Wilson

Nathan Kallison

Varsity football players senior Joseph Jarke, junior Bryce Thigpin and senior Conor Byrne pose with dance instructors Lindsay Young and Chelsee Capezzuti after a Dance I class. Joseph, Bryce and Conor are getting their fine arts credit in an unconventional way with Capezzuti’s dance class. steps for how to block and everything, and when I first went into dance, I was thinking, ‘Maybe I can take that and apply it to dance,’” Bryce said. “Dancing is worlds apart in terms of technique and movement. Some of the things that are embraced in dance are frowned upon in football, and some of the things that are embraced in football are frowned upon in dance. It’s really weird practicing steps in dance and then going out to football because I kind of have to adjust my movements. Because of muscle memory, it’s really hard to have my steps for football memorized and remember my steps for dance. Never in my life have I had to recall two things at once and then practice them physically.” Before practicing their dance routine and new moves, Dance I warms up with 15-20 minutes of stretching, followed by an abs, arms or gluts exercise. Having a designated time to stretch has helped the boys train for football. “I feel a lot more agile on the field, and I feel obviously looser,” Bryce said. “We do some exercises in there that have helped condition me a lot along with the conditioning that comes with football. It’s really good to be able to practice stretching and everything within a period a day. We also get to listen to music and joke around a little bit — but not too much, or we’ll have to do push-ups.” Dances in Dance I are broken up into sections called eight counts. When first learning a dance, they go through an eight count slowly to understand the moves, and then practice it at a faster pace to get the rhythm and eventually add the music. “Our first dance was to ‘Club Can’t Handle Me’ by Flo Rida,” Conor said. “The one we’re doing right now is to ‘Break Your Heart’ by Taio Cruz and Ludacris. Our first dance was hip-hop, and this one is jazz. We take it seriously, and we want to get better. For the last dance, I practiced at my house. The dance we’re learning now is so difficult. Jazz is much harder because you’re always on your toes.” When Conor, Joseph and Bryce told people about their new hobby, their friends and teammates were skeptical. “At first people were hesitant,” Bryce said. “Even some of the girls that are on Hyline and


Junior beats the odds to become starting quarterback

Tanner Price, Westlake quarterback from 2008-09, led Wake Forest to victory over Duke with 201 total yards and four touchdowns as a freshman. A week later, Nick Foles, Westlake quarterback from 2005-06, led 24th ranked Arizona to victory over 9th ranked Iowa with 303 yards passing and two touchdowns, including a winning touchdown pass with 3:57 on the clock. And Drew Brees, Westlake quarterback from 1995-96, led Nathan Kallison Warming up before a scrimmage, quarterback junior the New Orleans Saints in Super Lewis Guilbeau plays catch with a Westlake teamBowl XLIV vs. Indianapolis Colts mate. Lewis worked hard all summer, and by the to victory with 288 yards passing beginning of the season, he emerged as the obvious and two touchdowns as well as choice for starting quarterback. claiming the Super Bowl MVP award on Feb. 7. New Westlake quarterback junior Lewis Guilbeau has some mighty big shoes to fill. After being on varsity last year, mostly playing running back and some quarterback, Lewis spent time during the spring and summer preparing for the switch. “He played some quarterback last year toward the end, which helped him,” head coach Darren Allman said. “These quarterbacks spend all year training; they have to do a lot of offensive drills and timing work with the receivers. Of course, Lewis missed some of that work because he is a baseball player. We tried to catch [Lewis] up on the training drills during the summer through 7 on 7 and things like that that they can do.” Being a running style quarterback, Lewis has spent lots of time with the coaching staff, helping Lewis develop his throwing game, while training him to keep his running attack. “Our offense requires a versatile quarterback that can run and throw,” Allman said. “The difference has been that at this point a year ago, we were working on the improvement of the quarterback running game, and Tanner had not had a lot of experience running the football and progressing as a runner. This year, it’s just the opposite, where Lewis has been really comfortable running the football and is now progressing into a passer and working on that more in his game. The ability to run and throw is always a big part of our offense.” During the summer, Lewis had to compete with quarterback senior hree dancers tower above a gaggle of black spandex, lacking the grace of the others; they are new to dance, and they can’t do the splits. Dressed in their black Under Armour shirts and shorts, varsity football players middle line backer senior Conor Byrne, center senior Joseph Jarke and left guard junior Bryce Thigpin shimmy and shake along with the rest of Dance I. At the end of last year, Conor realized he needed a fine arts credit. After weighing all of his options, he decided to sign up for dance. “I looked at the options and saw that all you could do really were art classes, and I really don’t like that kind of thing,” Conor

Preston Dewey for the starting job. Preston, being a senior, was the frontrunner going into the practices, but soon Lewis was able to out gun Preston for first string. “Preston and I are two different types of quarterbacks,” Lewis said. “He is more of a pro style quarterback and I am more of a running quarterback; I guess the running separated it.” Lewis also faced controversy once he had earned the starting job due to his height. Typically, quarterbacks are some of the taller players on the field because they have to see over their linemen and see the receivers running their routes. Though shorter than most quarterbacks, at 5 ’9 ”, Lewis never let that stop him. “There are some times when the height does affect me, but usually I can see everything, I can see the receivers, I can make that throw,” Lewis said. “But sometimes a little height would come in handy.” Contrary to what may be seen on the field, as Lewis tears through the defense with 339 yards rushing, leading the team, Lewis still feels that he is a passing quarterback and would rather throw the ball than run it. “I prefer to throw,” Lewis said. Nathan Kallison “Even though everyUnder the lights at Darrell K. Royal Memorial Stadium, junior Lewis one thinks I like to Guilbeau throws the ball downfield while evading pressure from a Lake run it more, throwTravis defender. Lewis has made plays with his arm as well as his legs this ing is more fun. It involves more people year, becoming a true leader for the Chaps’ offense. on the team, and I like to get other people involved in the game.” After an 0-3 start, the team members had to refocus on their goals for the season. “We just have to come together as a whole and start clicking,” Lewis said. “We have to set aside our differences and play as a team, trust in each other and have no doubt. We’ve got to believe.” —Cody Crutchfield For freshmen and JV results go to

said. “I saw dance and how you can get a fine arts credit for the class. I heard stories about NFL football players like Herschel Walker doing ballet and thought it would be fun. My dad is the president of Ballet Austin, and he’s told me about guys [working with the ballet] to train and [work on] coordination. Also, I know a lot of dancers, so I thought it would be fun to see what they do. I recruited my friends — Jarke and Thigpin and anyone else who wanted to do it — so that’s what led us to take the class.” Bryce had previously considered taking dance, and when he heard that Conor and Joseph were taking Dance I, he decided to

join them. “I went to Zenith last year, and that kind of inspired me,” Bryce said. “I was thinking about taking Art History AP or dance. I really didn’t want to sit in a room and constrict myself to a paper and pencil. I thought that dance would be an incredibly refreshing experience and not something that every guy leaving high school can say that he’s done.” Having never danced before, Conor, Joseph and Bryce were shocked at how difficult dancing was at first. The techniques taught in dance were completely new and contrary to what they had learned in football. “As an offensive lineman, I have to practice

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brains + brawn


Making a hit

Coach discusses prospects, goals for 2010 season

Nathan Kallison

Featherduster: What are you most excited for this year? Al Bennett: A lot of players were on varsity last year, and it’s been exciting to see how they’ve embraced the new roles that they’ve been given, how well they’ve played during the season and the success they have had. When you look at our offense, we’ve got three players all within 10 kills of each other this many matches into it. The team is really stepping it up and doing what they are asked to do. Instead of having one player being the leader of the team, we have a balance. FD: How have you “replaced” 2010 graduate Sarah Shaw? Bennett: We haven’t replaced Sarah, but everyone else has been given the opportunity to step up. So instead of having Sarah get 50 percent of the balls, it’s a team effort. [The outside hitters] junior Paige Caridi, senior Hannah Hood, junior Cailin Bula and senior Lauren Mitchell have all stepped up. Everyone has increased their production, and we are averaging more kills per game this year than we averaged last year. Because we are balanced, we are very difficult to defend against because nobody knows who’s going to get the ball. FD: How have the games gone so far? Bennett: We are 35 and 2. We won the Frauleinfest with 9 and 0, finished second at the Duncanville Tournament, lost at JJ Pierce — our first lost — and then lost to the Corpus Christi King, the eventual champion at the

Pearland Tournament. The two teams we lost to both won the tournaments, so we feel really good about how we played. FD: What’s the team’s motto or focus? Bennett: They really want the gold medal [at State], and they know it’s an uphill battle and a struggle. They know what they need to do and what needs to happen for them to have that opportunity. We want to win the District Championship and, ultimately, get back to State and win the State Championship. FD: What has been your most memorable moment? Bennett: Going 9 and 0 during the Frauleinfest was really a good week for us because it had been several years since we won a tournament, and to do that well against the field that was assembled was very special. FD: How prepared were the girls for this season? Bennett: The girls were very prepared. We played very well from the beginning and have worked extremely hard, especially the seniors playing outside of school and over the summer. They came in in shape and mentally refreshed to play. FD: What’s the biggest obstacle? Bennett: We are not quite as physically big as we’ve been in the past. Our physicality is going to be one of the obstacles that we’ll face when we match up against some really

big teams in the playoffs. We’ll be more of a ball-control team. Being less physical and being more finesse is a transition we are going through. So far that transition has worked well for us, but it has hurt us a couple of times in losses such as JJ Pierce and Corpus Christi King. FD: Is there anything the team needs to work on? Bennett: The main thing is that everything is predicated on passing, serving and playing great defense. We want to continue to serve aggressively and with confidence, to pass the ball well and to score more points. FD: Which girls are already committed to a college? Bennett: [Senior] Kenzie Hume is our middle blocker and a second year starter. She is committed to play at the University of Colgate in the Ivy Leagues. She is the only one at this particular time. Senior Hannah Hood has several offers, along with senior Amanda Welsh, but they haven’t decided where they are going to play yet. FD: Which players are really showing leadership? “With two returning starters, [outside hitter senior] Ella Praisner and [libero senior] Tessa Hunt, having started for three years, Tessa has really stepped up with Ella out with an injury.” —Laura Doolittle

Nathan Kallison

Grade: junior Position: outside hitter Experience: 9 years Challenges: shoulder and ankle injuries Most memorable moment: playing in the State Finals Future volleyball plans: college Uniqueness: I’m the youngest returning player from last year.

Elisa Chen

Hannah Kunz

Nathan Kallison

Grade: senior Position: libero Experience: 9 years Challenges: It is very time-consuming. Most memorable moment: playing in the State Championships Volleyball future: this is last year of playing Uniqueness: I wear a different color jersey than the other players.

Paige Caridi

Tessa Hunt

Grade: junior Position: right side hitter Experience: 5 years Challenges: earning my spot on the court Most memorable moment: Fraulein Fest win Volleyball future: Maybe playing in college, but I will have to see my options. Uniqueness: I’m the tallest on the team.

Cailin Bula

Hannah Hood

Grade: senior Position: outside hitter Experience: 10 years Challenges: knee injury Most memorable moment: AAUs 3rd place at Nationals Volleyball future: college Uniqueness: I’m a hippie at heart.

Testimonials “I look up to team manager [senior] Charlotte Brown because [she is] the best manager ever. She selflessly assists us on her own time.”

“I look up to [middle blocker senior] Kenzie Hume because she is not afraid to call people out and take care of business. She is no-nonsense and has the motivation to win.”

Grade: senior Position: outside/right side hitter Experience: 10 years Challenges: shoulder and knee injuries Most memorable moment: winning Lone Star Volleyball future: intramural in college Uniqueness: I’m Hispanic.

Hannah Kunz

Hannah Kunz

Hannah Kunz

Grade: senior Position: setter and opposite hitter Experience: 10 years Challenges: moving from El Paso Most memorable moment: State last year Volleyball future: college Uniqueness: I am the quietest one on the team.

Brittany Wiltshire

Grade: senior Position: outside/right side hitter Experience: 10 years Challenges: knee and shoulder problems Most memorable moment: Junior Olympics in Miami Volleyball future: winning Uniqueness: I’ve played every position.

Amanda Welsh

Lauren Mitchell

Hannah Baptiste

Grade: junior Position: middle blocker Experience: 5 years Challenges: working hard to improve Most memorable moment: winning Fraulein Fest Volleyball future: undecided Uniqueness: I’m black.

Hannah Kunz

“The past two years, we have lost at State in the exact same place by the exact same amount of points, and I refuse to lose like that again. We will win. I am certain. ” —libero senior Tessa Hunt

“I look up to [outside hitter senior] Ella Praisner because even though she’s injured, her dedication to the team has not wavered.”

For more testimonials, freshmen and JV coverage go to

brains + brawn




Having awakened before sunrise, sophomore Noah Thompson walks down the familiar path behind his house that leads to his favorite fishing spot. He carries with him his fishing pole and his tackle box filled with handmade lures and bait. Standing on the banks, he faces the rising sun as it crests the calm waters. Then, suddenly, the peace is broken as he clutches his pole and battles a large bass fighting for its life. Noah learned how to fish at the age of 2 from his father. At age 5, he began fly fishing with his first fly rod. Now he has already earned top honors internationally as a worldclass fly fisherman. “Once I started it, I loved it,” Noah said. “As I got older, I started to go on trips with guides and professional fishermen, and I started to learn more things from them. I fly fish every chance I get. If I’m not fly fishing, I’m normal fishing.” Last July, Noah competed for the U.S. in the World Championship held in Slovakia over three long days. Ten countries competed against each other: Czech Republic, Slovakia, Spain, USA, Poland, France, Republic of South Africa, England, Ireland and Wales. “There were three hours of fishing in the morning and three in the afternoon,” Noah said. “In between the two, we would eat lunch and ride on the bus to the next venue. The

Angler wins bronze medal in Fly Fishing World Championship

objective was to catch as many fish as possible and to catch more fish than the other people. Throughout the competition, I caught 104 fish over the three days.” The ages of the competitors ranged from 14 to 19. Noah, one of the youngest participants, had a lot of pressure on him to succeed individually and for his team. “It was really nerve-wracking being one of the youngest there,” Noah said. “I was pretty

Tanner Thompson

World Championship, while fly fishing Noah has participated in many life-changing experiences. When he was 8, Noah was in the 2004 Spring issue of The Drake Magazine and the fly fishing film Feeding Time by Tom Bie. “Being in the film was an experience of a lifetime,” Noah said. “I’m glad that I was given the opportunity to encourage other people to make short films like that. It was the first fly fishing film marketed toward the fly fishing industry.” When he was 10, Noah was a junior casting presenter at the February 2005 International Sportsmanship Expo Trade Show in San Mateo, California. “It was an honor to be able to share my abilities with others and be able to cast alongside some of the best fishermen in the world at such a young age,” Noah said. “It opened up a lot of doors for me after that to continue on with fly fishing.” Next summer Noah will be competing at the 2011 World Championship in Italy with his fly fishing team. “I’m looking forward to Italy next year as a chance to represent our country and defend my performance in Slovakia,” Noah said. Noah’s USA Youth Team practices together four to five times a year, as well as competing in a few tournaments. They practice at the USA Youth Team headquarters in State College, Pennsylvania. “The practices are the times when I learn the most from my coaches and from other people doing demonstrations,” Noah said. “The practices usually last two or three days, consisting of many guest speakers, fishing, tying flies and listening to lots of lecturing.” Noah has learned a lot from his experiences to help others who are interested in fly fishing. “I want to use the platform I’ve been given with the bronze medal to teach and encourage other young people about fly fishing,” Noah said. Noah has a lot of future plans involving fly fishing for after he graduates. “I would love to make a living out of fly fishing,” Noah said. “When I graduate high school, I am going to take a year off and probably go to New Zealand with one of my friends from the team. When I get out of college, I want to travel the world and find new places to fish that people have never been to before.” —Abby Bost

“I want to use the platform I’ve been given with the bronze medal to teach and encourage other young people about fly fishing.” —sophomore Noah Thompson nervous, but after the first day it settled and all the pressure was gone.” Noah, at age 15, became the first ever to place individually in the history of youth fly fishing when he received an individual bronze medal. “I was really proud of myself, and I know my friends and family were, too,” Noah said. “I was surprised with my performance, and I think a lot of people were. My hard work definitely paid off.” Besides competing in the Fly Fishing

Sophomore Noah Thompson holds up his Sept. 12 catch of the day from the pond at The Lost Creek Country Club. Afterwards, he unhooked the bass and tossed it back into the water.“I almost always throw back what I catch,” Noah said.

Tanner Thompson

One break at a time Freshman continues to cheer despite multiple injuries “I just remember lying there and watching the coaches run around. I honestly didn’t cry ,and I wasn’t in shock either. I’m just pretty used to breaking bones.” This was freshman Lindsay Allen’s reaction the day she simultaneously broke both of her feet after landing her double full tumbling pass at an afternoon cheer practice. After breaking or fracturing four toes, her elbow, both hands, both wrists, both thumbs, both feet and her neck, Lindsay can truthfully say she has had a lot of experience with injuries. Starting at a young age, her risk-taking attitude has made her prone to cheerleading accidents. “Pretty much every break I’ve had has been cheer-related,” Lindsay said. “[I first broke a bone when] I was 7 at Champion’s Academy. I was tumbling on the air track, and I rebounded too high and broke my elbow.” This break was just the first of many injuries that Lindsay would sustain. One might expect her to be used to crutches and casts, but when she broke both of her feet at the same time, she had more diffiulty. “The break I remember the most was definitely my feet,” Lindsay said. “It wasn’t so much the actual break that was painful — it was having to wear a boot on each foot and crutch everywhere, and those feet just took so long to heal.”

These cheerleading incidents result from one of Lindsay’s personality traits — her unwavering fearlessness. “Some people would expect me to get scared before I tumble,” Lindsay said. “But sometimes you have to just push and trust yourself to do it right, and this is where injuries happen.” Though Lindsay acts casual when talking about her many fractures, her mother is much more alarmed by Lindsay’s many injuries. “The truth is, I still get nervous and scared every time she breaks something,” said Marcia Allen, Lindsay’s mother. “Just because it happens a lot doesn’t mean it’s any easier on [a] mom.” Lindsay’s least favorite part about breaking a bone isn’t the pain nor is it the shock. It’s the distance created between her and the one thing she loves the most. “The worst part about breaking a bone is definitely having to wait for it to heal,” Lindsay said. “I hate not being able to cheer because of a cast.” Some would expect her to stop cheering after so many accidents, but Lindsay continues to strive for perfection in the sport that literally breaks her. “Cheer is my life,” she said. “I don’t know what I would do without it and there is just no possible way breaking a bone could stop me.” —Elizabeth Emery

At the first pep rally of the year, freshman Lindsay Allen cheers with her squad. Lindsay has broken or fractured 14 bones throughout her cheering career. Theo Doucet

How can stress affect sports ability? Stress not only affects one’s performance in the classroom, but it also has a great impact on one’s performance on the athletic field. With the escalating stress factors putting more pressure on students, athletes are beginning to feel the strain both mentally and physically. “Stress, in general, affects people in different ways,” trainer Vicki Stafko said. “They may not eat, they may not sleep, they can’t focus, and they can’t concentrate. So even that type of stress, whether it be physical or emotional, can cause a lot of different [problems] for people that can attribute to injuries. Stress can actually make people stretch their boundaries and put them at risk for getting hurt because they may be doing more than they are physically able to do.” Although stress pertains to all, stress-related injuries vary from sport to sport, each seasonal and unique. However, to avoid damages, Stafko advises athletes to stick to a well-rounded diet and a strength-and-conditioning program, as well as abstaining from

performance-enhancing supplements. “I personally don’t think steroids are a big temptation [at Westlake],” Stafko said. “I think other drugs like alcohol and marijuana are. I don’t think steroids are that big of an issue because, quite honesty, if you walk down the halls, there aren’t many people that really look like they’re taking steroids. I think our coaches do a great job of telling the athletes not to take the supplements and that they don’t need them.” Stafko claims that a steroid user at Westlake has never been reported to her but still advocates helpful advice to athletes looking to excel in their respective sports in a healthy way. “The only way you’re going to be successful is by working hard. Nothing comes easy,” Stafko said. “There are no shortcuts. Taking steroids is not a shortcut. Cheating is not a shortcut. My best piece of advice is just work hard and good things will come.” —Hillary Hurst

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brains + brawn


back Bouncing

Tennis player recovers from knee surgery, succeeds at State level Varsity tennis team sets goals for new season

For the first time in four years, the varsity tennis team is playing in Region Two. With five top 12 schools, it will provide more difficult competition than previous years, and players know they will have to step up their game. “Our goals are to finish in the top four, be Regional champions and make it to the State tournament,” head coach Kimberley Riley said. “We want to make sure we’re winning matches when we should be winning, keeping things close when they should be close and not letting other teams get the best of us.” Currently seventh in the state, they will have to overcome that ranking during District and Regionals to make it to the State level, which only accepts the top four schools. “We have some work to do,’ Riley said. “We’re 12-4 right now. We lost a tough one, a 10-9 early in the season to Abilene that showed we have some pockets of weakness in the lineup. What we’re working on a lot is doubles [and] finding that good combination.” This year, many players are new to the team, and Riley uses her role as a coach to help them adapt to playing at the varsity level and find a greater appreciation for the sport. “Each individual season is different,” Riley said. “If you’re having fun and you’re winning matches, that’s the whole reason we’re out here. My ultimate goal, down the line, is that they look back on their high school tennis team and think, ‘Wow, that was a really good time.’ Maybe they remember individual matches they won and maybe they don’t, but I hope they remember this team and this time when, hopefully, they learned some things about life, some things they didn’t know about themselves, some things you can’t get in the classroom.” —Zelda Mayer


verything is still. The streets are silent, the lights dim. The neighbors are asleep, you’re asleep, but sophomore Casey Sutton is wide-awake. She’s on her way to a tennis tournament. She’s on her way to victory. Every weekend, Casey wakes up at 5:30 a.m. to travel to out-of-town competitions. Since January, she has played more than 70 matches in Texas tournaments, and in the 14s and 16s age divisions combined, she has only lost 14. Casey discovered her passion for tennis before she had even started elementary school. “I started taking classes when I was 4 and playing tournaments when I was 8,” Casey said. “A lot of my family did it, especially my mom. They got me into it. That’s what we have in common.” Playing more than 20 hours per week, Casey surrenders the majority of her time to improving her game. This devotion shows in her nearly flawless record. Having recently graduated into the 16s age division, she is currently ranked fifth in Texas. When she won the state-wide tournament Excellence on Sept. 6, Casey saw a smoother transition into an older age division than she had previously thought possible. “Only the top 16 [players] get in, and I won the whole tournament,” Casey said. “It was such an important tournament, and I was definitely the underdog going in. I was playing this girl, Rhiann Newborn from Houston, who had won two huge tournaments. She was seeded number one, and I wasn’t seeded at all. It was a big match.” Casey relies on her family’s support as motivation while she travels all over the country for tennis tournaments. “I play Nationals all throughout the year,” Casey

said. “I have been to Florida, Nebraska and Arizona. During the summer, I was gone four weeks straight without going home. When I was in a National tournament, my mom was there throughout the entire week. [I liked] having her support there and calling my dad after my matches. He was telling everyone in his office. Without [my parents], there’s no way I could play. My mom got me into it, and she’s the one who keeps me going when times are hard.” Casey is already looking ahead to improving her 16s ranking and playing in the 18s division as well. “Once I start playing 18s, [all the matches] will be like the semifinals of the 16s,” Casey said. “I just have to be ready for a lot of hard matches. In December, I will play a level one National tournament in Arizona. The girls are crazy good.” While Casey now moves forward confidently, it is hard to imagine that a year ago she could not walk without crutches. “I had been struggling with knee problems,” Casey

said. “At first I just thought it was growing pains, but it was hurting non-stop. Then during one tournament, it hurt so badly that I actually fell down on the court. I couldn’t keep fighting the pain. I got an MRI, and the results showed that it was pretty bad. In January of 2009, I got surgery on both my knees and was out for six months.” After her long recovery, it was disheartening for Casey to hear that she is at risk for another serious injury. “I got an MRI over the summer,” Casey said. “I have tendonitis in my right arm. It’s the irritation of the tendons, and it’s really painful. I can’t deal with another long-term injury.” Despite the pain, Casey refuses to let her injuries break her stride. “It’s something you have to deal with,” Casey said. “It encourages you more. When you win, it feels better because you had struggles and overcame them. Keep going. Just stay with what you love doing. You can’t quit because you’ll regret it later on.” —Zelda Mayer

When sophomore Casey Sutton was recovering from knee surgery, she counted on her family’s support. “It was really hard to get back into [tennis,] and my parent’s helped me keep going,” Casey said.

Barrett Wilson

Freestyling in Florida Junior Matt Ellis competes at the Regional meet Feb. 24, 2009. Matt recently moved to Florida to pursue swimming.

Former Westlake swimmer moves east to pursue his dreams

photo courtesy of Michelle Tucker

Junior Matt Ellis set three swimming records last year and has now reached even loftier goals after making three Olympic trials cuts. His ultimate goals are to be an NCAA champion and to make it to the 2012 Olympics. The only problem for the Westlake swim team is that he now lives in Florida. “I moved to Florida because it was the best thing for me to do in order to reach my goal of the Olympics,” Matt said. “I’ve trained with coach [Randy Reese] before and done well, and after training this summer with him I made the Junior Pan Pacific Team, so it seems to be the right path for me to take.” Reese, who recently moved to Florida after coaching at the University of Texas for two years, has coached 30 Olympians in the past and with Matt, he plans to make it 31. “I’m happy to be training Matt again since I left Austin two years ago,” Reese said. “Plus, being able to add a swimmer of Matt’s caliber to the Clearwater Aquatic Team (CAT) will definitely help raise the level of our program.” Obviously being so young and living away from his family is hard, but Matt seems to be adjusting well. “I am staying with a host family that is very nice to open their house to me like they have,” Matt said. “So far it’s been a positive thing. Not being with my family will create many challenges for me, but I am prepared to get through them. I think of it as if I went to college early, and that helps.” However, he plans to come home to Austin every four weeks or so in order to spend some time with his family and friends. A swimmer herself, Matt’s friend and former Westlake teammate, sophomore Allie Ehle, understands the importance of his decision and supports him.

“I believe that Matt moving to Florida will be good for him,” she said. “Swimmers will do whatever is necessary to be the best they can, even if it means moving away.” Matt currently lives in Clearwater, across from Orlando; he is a junior at Countryside High School. “I am swimming for CAT and Countryside High School, but no team will ever compare to Westlake,” Matt said. “My least favorite thing about moving to Florida is being away from my awesome friends and family. I miss Zilker Park and definitely Sno Beach!” With a schedule of nine practices per week, sometimes twice a day, for two to three hours at a time, balancing high school and two swim teams has been hard. “So far it’s been a bit stressful, but growing up in a household where things change often has matured me a lot,” Matt said. “Being a dedicated swimmer, I was away from home often and my parents went through a divorce, so I was at the pool, then one house, then back to the pool and then to a different house. I think that prepared me to be able to live with another family away from mine because I’m used to going back and forth like that.” Despite the sacrifices, his accomplishments so far are making the move seem worth it. “I have broken a few meet and team records, for the 100 fly, 100 free and 50 free for high school and CAT, and also 200 fly for just CAT,” Matt said. From a parent’s perspective, any child leaving home is emotionally tough. “It’s really hard,” Matt’s mother, Westlake Spanish teacher Margaret Ellis said. “But sometimes you have to let your kids fly.” —Mackenzie Franklin

brains + brawn

DAVID HIME . DDS, MS & NICK SALOME . DDS, MSD 5718 Balcones Drive | Austin, Texas 78731




- U.S. News & World Report


- The Princeton Review




From Russia, with love


e’ve all had to sit through plenty of awkward, firstday-of-school teacher introductions that usually don’t leave us hanging on every word, wanting to know more. However, geometry teacher Kent Carroll has a different story. He lived in Russia for several years on different occasions, and for a short time pursued a career which sounded much like that of a secret agent. Coupled with his fascinating but brief introduction, Carroll’s school-wide fame for rapping in Russian in front of his classes left many interested in his history with Russian language and culture and how Carroll originally became involved with it. “My mom was a missionary in Russia, and so she spent a lot of time over there,” Carroll said. “Starting in 1992, I used to go with her during the summer because I would hear interesting stories about the people and things over there.” After he became a teacher, Carroll captured the attention of people involved in the Russian education system. “I was over there for Christmas holidays,” Carroll said. “When people there found out I was a teacher, they invited me to speak at a university in front of an audience.” Little did he know that it was more of a “try-out” than a lecture. Carroll was later invited to teach at the university for one year under a contract. “I didn’t even intend on it when I went over there for the holiday,” Carroll said. “I called home and said I wasn’t coming back. That was 1994. I didn’t end up coming back until 1996.” Carroll learned that education in the States is looked at very differently than in Russia. “In the [Russian] schools, there’s a very high motivation for learning, but we didn’t even have a copy machine,” Carroll said. “You would have to write your test questions on the board, and the students copied them down on blank paper. One year, there wasn’t money to fund the electricity for the school, and so you didn’t turn the lights on, and you couldn’t heat the school. It was actually below freezing in the classroom. You’d be bundled up in a shopka, which is a Russian hat, trying to keep your hands warm.” Despite these hard conditions, Carroll said that the Russian students still had good reason to be motivated. He explained that every man in Russia must serve in the military, unless they were able to get into a university, which would allow them to cancel or postpone their service. Many students saw this as their way out of fighting in the civil war in Chechnya. “In the school where I was teaching, there were pictures up on the wall of people from the school that had already been killed in the war,” Carroll said. “It was a struggle as a teacher when the grade I gave them decided whether they had to be in the military or they got accepted into a college.” One of the other contrasts Carroll noted between Russian teenagers and Westlake teenagers is the level of formality in their clothing. “It’s kind of funny to me, because over here there’s a dress code for school and the dress code is to keep people from dressing down,” Carroll said. “People want to come casual in boxer shorts or pajama bottoms. It’s just something in the culture. In Russia, guys may have one suit in their closet, or a girl might have one dress, and they’ll put that on when they go out in public or to school. Even though they just

Geometry teacher contrasts his past abroad, life in Westlake

have one, they just want to be their best. It’s like all they have there is their image that’s who they are, and they want to appear their best. Part of Carroll’s teaching contract allowed him to be taught Russian, and after meeting with a special teacher every day after work, Carroll became more and more interested in the language and culture of Russia. He studied at two different language schools, one in Russia and one in the Ukraine, and considered becoming a linguist for the Russian embassy. Eventually, he decided to undergo a “top secret” security clearance, in hope of obtaining a job similar to being in the military, but instead he would have been contracted out privately to work for different companies. It was required that the government did a complete background check on Carroll. “They identified all the friends I’ve ever known, as well as family members,” Carroll said. This would have allowed Carroll the job in Russia for just a year due to national security restrictions, and Carroll (second person from the right) during the two year security check, stands with Russian soldiers who regulate Carroll decided that it wasn’t worth the safety of the city, which is obligatory. uprooting his life here. He would have had to leave his job at Westlake, only to return a year later. Since then, Carroll and his wife, Hill Country Middle School teacher Karey Lander, had a son, and he hasn’t been back to Russia for any long-term jobs. However, he has taken his wife there, wanting to show her some of the places he had visited. He noted that one of their favorite pastimes was photos courtesy of Kent Carroll visiting the Russian circuses. “It’s not that the Russian circus is really special in itself, but in Russia, people like to develop their skills in some way,” Carroll said. “It’s for self esteem. People feel like all you have is you, your body, and the skills that you have. There’s a desire to be perfect, because they feel like all you are is what you know and learn. A circus is just an example of somewhere you can go and see all of this in one place.” Carroll cited another example of this Russian mentality. “If someone says, ‘I’m a piano player,’ it’s usually not someone who plays once or twice every other week. It’s usually something they’ve been doing eight hours a day since they were two,” Carroll said. Sometimes, his visits took place in hard times, when the economy was down and crime was up. Carroll even remembers being mugged at one point. Now, however, Russia is a big oil producer, and because of the high oil prices the Russian economy has become better, making the country a safer place to travel to. “With the responsibility of a family, [visiting Russia] is limited to the summers,” Carroll said. “When [my son] is older, if he wants to, I’m sure we will. I want him to be able to remember it.” —Camille Lewis

people + places


elle Ling

Playing it by ear Senior Sam Hooper wins music composition contest, plans career in music When senior Sam Hooper sits down at the piano, he doesn’t usually open up a book of music for reference. He doesn’t pick at the keys, half-confident that he’ll end up making music. He simply stretches his fingers across the keyboard and plays. Sam entered the Young Composers Challenge during the summer, a music composition contest open to teenagers ages 13-18. The judges selected three winners in the orchesta category, who each received $1,000, and three winners in the ensemble category, who won $500. Sam’s piece, written for cello, double bass and English horn, was one of the three ensemble finalists.

said. “It started when I sat down at the computer one day after school, opened [a blank file], and thought, ‘I’d like to write something for cello.’” He wanted to enter a contest to try to test his skills in composing. “I was thinking, ‘I really enjoy this. I would like to enter some contest to motivate me to keep working and see if I’m good at this,’” he said. “I Googled ‘young composers contest,’ and it was one of the first results. It was great for the piece I’d just started writing.” Sam considers the call he got announcing his win one of the happiest points in his musical career. “That was when I was like, ‘I’m good at this and people are going to professionally play my music. This is an option. I’m not just deluding myself,’” he said. Sam’s winning composition, entitled Preparation: Trio for English Horn and Strings, was performed Oct. 10 by the Orlando Philharmonic. “I had to attend the event to receive the prize money,” Sam said. “But I would have gone anyway, just to hear the performance. It was one of the most magical moments of my life.” Sam’s interest in music is nothing new. “As far back as I can remember, [I was taking] piano lessons,” he said. He wasn’t originally focused on composing, but after a single incident, his curiosity shifted. “I remember this particular event in late elementary school,” he said. “My sisters and I were being babysat by a neighbor, and our babysitter in collusion with my sisters, with zero input from me, decided that we would go see Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants in a theater.” During the movie, Sam was stricken by a particular theme in the soundtrack. “It was this electric, pop, sort of synthy song,” he said. “It was all based on do, do re, do fa, do mi. I was sitting at the piano, practicing some of my workbook things, and started playing.” Sam figured out the notes to the

Barrett Wilson

“Music, without sounding too flowery, is able to move people on an emotional level to such an insane degree.” —senior Sam Hooper

and played with this melody for about a year. “This one song took more and more away from what I was supposed to be doing [in my lessons],” he said. He started to add to it and develop it through a process he called “making stuff up,” which still comprises 90 percent of what he does while seated at a piano. “I started hearing things on the radio and everywhere else and wanted to emulate them,” Sam said. “Eventually, I was super fluent and making stuff up on my own. That was just the coolest thing.” Since the contest, Sam has been involved in many other musical exploits. He has begun to take guitar lessons and is interning with Dr. Donald Grantham, the professor of composition at the University of Texas, for his Independent Study Mentorship. “We’ve been listening to things he’s written and looking through scores and discussing everything from melodies to forms,” Sam said. “It’s like total immersion in the composing process because he’s such a master at it.” Dr. Grantham is also helping him with another project, a piece for solo marimba for a friend. “[Senior] Justin Rowley came to me and said, ‘Hey Sam, you write a lot of music, right? Can you write me something for marimba?’” Sam said. This year, he joined choir as a senior and is singing tenor in Madrigals, something “unprecedented.” According to choir director Ed Snouffer, the choir program has never had a first-year choir student in the Madrigals ensemble. “I think music has been something very important to him all through his growing up,” Snouffer said. “But, [until this year], I don’t know that his schedule allowed him to do a whole lot with his voice, because he was committed to band early on. “He’s very well-rounded musically,” Snouffer said. “He’s very smart. I think that the challenges in music and those kinds of things you’re trying to figure out — singing, reading music, playing an instrument — his brain likes those things.” Sam is applying to Rice University with an early decision application, and he plans to transfer to the music school and possibly later become a professor of composition. “Because music — as far as serious interest — is more or less

music school like Rice’s,” Sa “I have known for a while th to go to Rice; I love the scho know that I can always purs regardless of whether I’m m it or not.” The stereotype of the sta musician is not a complete Sam argues that a music ma dead-end road either. “I definitely have some a about [becoming a musician said. “But I know from talki people that often music deg looked upon very fondly by industries because they can of different traits.” To Sam, a music degree realistic enough to give it a “Music is not a straight, road,” Sam said. “Say I do p sic and it doesn’t turn out w it to be; there are other exit road that I could take along Although Sam admits a career is somewhat nerve-w he finds solace in knowing w path he chooses, he’ll still h in his life. “No matter what, I’ll alw a piano in my house, a ream paper in my briefcase and I have music running throug 24/7,” he said. “It’s never g leave my life, regardless of w cide to do. That’s another th removes some of the concer Sam hasn’t always been about pursing music as a ca “I had a hard time for a while, as I got more and mo ous about music, trying to j to myself,” he said. “Music, sounding too flowery, is abl people on an emotional leve an insane degree.” Sam wasn’t entirely con this emotional justification ing music. He needed even reason for a career in music sense to him. “I started to realize that shares a lot of similarities w writing,” he said. “No one c that writing is a very respec important part of life. And t just the same thing, but a d medium. Video. Speech giv the same communication. M able to do it in a universal, p way. You can speak any lan you want, you can be illitera can not be able to speak, yo anyone anywhere, and mus move you internally.” —Steven

people + places



n the online world of YouTube, many Internet superstars have made large sums of money from the number of video views, subscribers and channel views. YouTube partners, people who make money from YouTube, make between $2 and $5 for every 1,000 views, 5 cents per subscriber and 1 cent per channel view. Megan Parken has about 20 million total upload views, more than 120,000 subscribers and gets thousands of hits on her channel page each day. You can do the math. This regular teenage girl turned makeup extraordinaire has had success that came almost overnight.

“I started said. “I was j already been I felt like I co could. Most o makeup artis girl would of watch. It’s m At the end eighth grade Meganlovesm “It was su “I don’t know

Entrepreneur gains success, fame from online makeup tutorials Sidney Hollingsworth

just kind of bored. A couple of girls had n doing [makeup tutorials on YouTube]. ould probably do it just as well as they of the girls that do it are professional ists, so I thought that me being a normal ffer a different type of video for people to more relatable for girls my age.” nd of June during the summer before her e year, Megan made a YouTube account, makeup, which was deleted. uspended for some reason,” Megan said. w why. There’s one person who is notorising with people on YouTube, and I’m

thinking that’s why it got suspended.” Then, at the beginning of September that same year, Megan made her famous Meganheartsmakeup account, and immediately her popularity skyrocketed. “I really got lucky because I started gaining so many followers so fast,” Megan said. “It’s really unheard of to hit 100,000 [subscribers] in one year. Most people have been doing it for a couple of years and are at 3,000 or 5,000.” Megan attributes her instant fame to one key reason: the viewers of makeup tutorials respond to girls like her. “I’m the first real girl to do it in the sense that I’m not a professional,” Megan said. “It’s easier to relate to. Also, when I first started out, my videos got featured a lot [on the homepage of YouTube], which brings a whole bunch of viewers that wouldn’t have found my videos otherwise.” Through YouTube, Megan also makes money for the number of subscribers she has because of advertising on her videos and also receives payment from makeup brands who pay her to review their products on her videos. “I have a bank account that I put money into, but I don’t know what I’m planning on doing with it,” Megan said. “Plus I get a lot of free products, and I enjoy the makeup and hair stuff.” Megan doesn’t just get free products and money for her work. Many opportunities have presented themselves to her. She is currently talking with the producers of Keeping Up with the Kardashians about making a show about her life. She has also helped promote the Jonas Brothers’ tour. “I got to go to Los Angeles for a reality show interview,” Megan said. “They’re in the works with this artist that I’ve promoted and they want to do a music video. I like the topics that I talk about, so having a TV show would be great. A bunch of cool things that I never intended to happen did.” With her success, Megan became the center of attention at her middle school, Hill Country, where students were somewhat shocked to find out what she did. “There’s a small group of people that actually know about the YouTube beauty community,” Megan said. “A lot of people thought it was kind of weird, but they were interested also.” With friends of Megan intrigued by what she was doing, word soon spread of the YouTube sensation. Many crazed fans pose as her, creating fake Facebook accounts, including Megan’s own personal pictures. “There are people all over that pose as me,

Megan Parken, not Meganheartsmakeup,” Megan said. “They steal my photos, and there have been fake [YouTube] accounts that add an extra letter so it looks similar to Meganheartsmakeup. They’ll copy the background [of the YouTube channel].” Others have gone one step further and actually invaded one of Megan’s e-mail accounts that she uses for everything related to Meganheartsmakeup. “The worst thing anyone has ever done was hack my business e-mail,” Megan said. “I used to have a Formspring, and one of the questions I got asked was ‘What is your uncle’s name?’ So I wrote what it was, and then I realized that was a security setting that I had set. They were smart enough to go in and see what my security question was.” Megan’s life can be very hectic managing her school work, social life, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter accounts. “I get about 5,000 e-mails a day just on my YouTube account,” Megan said. “Then I’ll have a couple hundred messages on my Facebook, and then I’ll have messages on Twitter. I also get messages on my business e-mail from fans. [The fans] will write out huge messages saying how much they appreciate the videos or how much they appreciate the advice. They also ask for product recommendations. I pick and choose which ones I respond to by which ones seem most urgent [for advice].” The first comments Megan received were meant to hurt her. “When they first started writing about me, I thought, ‘This is weird,’” Megan said. “But then I realized to make it anywhere, anyone who has any sort of success has people that are going to say negative things.” Megan appreciates each comment she gets, good or bad, because of the constructive criticism that comes with those. “I don’t put my comments on approval, which is something a lot of people do,” Megan said. “I would rather have everything because if I don’t, it doesn’t seem as real if all the comments are good. I mostly read through the YouTube comments to make sure they’re not nasty or sexual.” Megan has big plans for the future and advice for her fans. “Hopefully I’ll get to half a million subscribers soon and then the TV show,” Megan said. “I want to go into fashion merchandising, working at one of the fashion magazines. If I could tell my fans one thing, it would be that you can have success in anything you want to do.” —Jono Krawczyk

A timeline of YouTube history: April: The first video to YouTube is uploaded


August: The first ads are launched


December: YouTube partnerships are made


January: U.S. President’s May: YouTube exceeds two billion views a day channel is launched


2010 Photos by Barrett Wilson

Talk of

Snack Bar


1224 South Congress

his story follows the adventure of juniors Lizzie Friedman and Hannah Kunz one Saturday in the fine month of September. Our objective: to search for the great hidden treasures of our unique city. We set out on an escapade asking random Austinites to share their secrets of austintatious shops, restaurants, dessert places and activities that mean something to


On the way to South Congress we stopped by Lizzie’s house so she could join in on the awesome adventure. Once we arrived at South Congress, after searching for a parking place, we ran into none other than the mother of junior Hillary Hurst, who had just come from shopping at Parts and Labour and raved that we must check it out because it was a “really cool” Austin store. However, our mouths were watering for food at this point, so we would have to wait until after lunch to check that one out. The moment we walked into Snack Bar it was like a scene from the ’70s. We took a seat at our outside table and were approached by a tattooed, mini-skirted waitress who called us “sweeties.” After debating over what we would order, I decided on having the brie fancy burger because, as per my custom, I order one practically everywhere I eat. Lizzie decided on the Euro scramble, an omelette which featured salmon. Along with the genuinely Austin atmosphere, the food was exceptional.

Hwy. 290, 3200 Jones Road


Sunset Valley Farmer’s Market

With help from some strangers, two juniors

Barrett Wilson

Lizzie was busy in the early morning, so I, Hannah, and my sister Hillary decided to start the trip with my own favorite hidden treasure in Austin. In the parking lot of the Tony Burger Center on Hwy. 290, a farmer’s market, sponsored by the Sustainable Food Center, is set up every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. It has everything from Round Rock honey and Fredericksburg peaches to goat’s milk products and fresh vegetables. The stream of live music flowing through the air while we walked through the row of tents and free samples made it that much better. If the south Austin location is out of your reach, there are also markets at 4th and Guadalupe on Saturday afternoons, and at the Triangle on Wednesdays from 4 to 8 p.m. While I was there, I asked the nice man from the Jim Jim’s Water Ice booth, whose mango-flavored frozen ice was just perfect, what his favorite restaurant in Austin was. Unable to respond since he was just as afraid as I was to be talking to a stranger, he called on the manager of the market, Matt Macioge, to answer. He offered many suggestions from Jack Allen’s to Torchy’s Tacos, but being familiar with all the places listed except one, we decided to go for that one. So, we were off to South Congress to try the Snack Bar.

the town

discover hidden treasures of our unique city


photos by Han

We arrived at The Rowing Dock, signed a release form, left a driver’s license with them along with $15 each, and hopped upon our stand-up boards. Looking out for crews skimming across the water in their sculls, we slowly made our way out into the middle of Lady Bird Lake for an hour of pure bliss out on the water. Once I finally got my balance down, I began to enjoy myself. Feeling the serenity of the water and watching the sun begin to set over the soft waves was the perfect way to end the day in our beloved city of Austin, Texas. —Hannah Kunz

{ }

n ah

1905 South First Street

Only one block over, on South First Street, was the cupcake shop Sugar Mama’s Bakeshop, a local family-owned bakery whose treats are made from scratch daily. Lizelle had suggested the Marilyn Monroe cupcake, but after looking over the selection of all the other one-of-a kind cupcakes, we decided to go with something a little bit different. I decided on the Hemingway, a vanilla cupcake with a bit of key lime curd in the middle with key lime cream cheese frosting. Lizzie chose the Peanut Butter Cup (Cake), a chocolate cupcake with peanut butter butter cream icing and pieces of peanut butter cups on the top. The cupcakes were magnificent, and we savored every single bite of our $2.75 investment. The decorations in the shop added to the homemade greatness of what we had just eaten. There were aprons hanging on the wall, an oldfashioned fridge and old diner tables, all in the color scheme of aqua blue and apple red. Before the day could be deemed a success, my sister had one last idea. Her favorite Austin activity would have to be done. It was time to go SUPing.

Sugar Mama’s Bakeshop




2418 Stratford Drive

Parts and Labour, only a few doors down and on the other side of South Congress, was unlike any other store that I have been to. Everything was Austin authentic, from the products right down to the owner. It had clothes, key chains, jewelry, bowls and coasters for around the house. Although it was on the more “burn a hole in your pocket” side of the money spectrum, all the products were of high quality, and you knew that you were getting something that was not made in a sweat shop in China. I purchased a beer bottle cap keychain with a pendant of St. Ann on the back (not ironic at all), while my sister bought a blue and white zebra stripe dress that surprisingly did not look like a big lump of tackiness. We asked the cashier, Lizelle, if she could think of an “Austiny” place that we could get dessert, and no sooner than I said “dessert,” did the words “Sugar Mama’s” burst out of her mouth.

The Rowing Dock

1117 South Congress

Parts and Labour


people + places


Philipp Blumer: My first impression was very positive. Everybody is so nice and outgoing.

FD: What are the differences between Westlake and your school in Switzerland? PB: The school is four times bigger than my school in Switzerland, and the schedule is very different. We don’t have the same stuff every day; it changes. We also don’t have classes like physics just for one year. We have it for about three years, which makes it less intensive but annoying to have it for such a long time.

FD: What’s it like in Switzerland? PB: Everything is smaller. The biggest streets are the highways and they only have two lanes on each side. Even the parking lots are smaller. Trucks like the ones

LG: The biggest difference is the subjects. In Germany, we can choose only four hours a week. The rest of our schedule is made by our school. We can only choose between six things. Westlake has more choices.

FD: What’s it like in Germany? LG: America is not so different. Most is the same, but here everything is bigger.

FD: How are Austin and Germany different? LG: I would say the people and of course the weather.

FD: What is the craziest thing that someone has ever asked/said to you when they heard you’re from Germany? LG: ‘Do you speak German? Do you have Internet in Germany?’

here would never fit in [the parking lots] in Switzerland. You actually don’t need a car. You can go to almost every place by train, bus or other public transportation. Every city has a different accent and even the Swiss don’t understand every one of them. Switzerland is known for its chocolate, the Alps, watches, cheese, cows and Switzerland is always neutral in its political aspects.

FD: How are Austin and Switzerland different? PB: The biggest difference is probably the climate and the culture. It’s way hotter and more humid here than in Switzerland. In Austin, the people are outgoing, and I get to meet new people every day. I like that.

FD: What is the craziest thing that someone has ever said to you when they heard you’re from Switzerland? PB: ‘Can you repair my watch?’

junior Philipp Blumer — Basel, Switzerland

Taylor Cloyd

FD: What was your first impression of Westlake?

Leon Grahn: Big. In my German school, we have only 90 people in every grade and we are not a small school.

FD: What are the differences between Westlake and your school in Germany? Taylor Cloyd


sophomore Leon Grahn — Hamburg, Germany

Featherduster: What was your first impression of Westlake?


> >

Among the 2,560 students roaming the halls of Westlake this year, seven exchange students from as far away as Sweden are trying to blend into the mix. For these teens, high school has become more than the everyday grind of studies and extracurriculars — it’s a cross-cultural experience. The Featherduster sat down with four of these students to learn more about how their lives have changed, the experiences they’ve had and the memories they have made during their first month in Austin.

FD: What was your first impression of Westlake?

FD: What’s it like in Holland?

Juul Willemsen: [I noticed that] football is everything, and Westlake is really proud of everything that involves their school.

JW: In my home country, you only go to school to learn. We don’t have any sports after or before school. We also don’t have the same classes every day. One day we start at 8 a.m. and are free at 2 p.m. or we start at 10 a.m. and are free at 4 p.m. Also in America, you have a school bus or a car. We go by bike to school every day, even when it is raining or snowing. [In Austin], you can drive when you are 16, but [in Holland], we have to wait until we are 18.

FD: What are the differences between Westlake and your school in Holland? JW: The biggest difference is that in Holland we don’t have football or basketball teams. The people at Westlake really stand behind their team — that’s amazing.

FD: How are Austin and Holland different? JW: Austin is not a stereotypical Texas city — it’s much better. Also, Austin is really hot. It never gets ­above 80 [degrees Fahrenheit] in Holland!

FD: What is the craziest thing that someone has ever asked/said to you when they heard you’re from Holland? JW: ‘So Holland, that’s in Germany right? Where are your wooden shoes? Do you speak English?’

Allie Carlisle


junior Juul Willemsen — Den-Haag, Holland

FD: What was your first impression of Westlake? Klara Bohman: This school is big. Do I really need to walk my schedule with a map to know and learn how to find my classes? That is different. It takes me about three minutes to walk through my whole school in Sweden.

FD: How are Austin and Sweden different? KB: When I told Swedish people that I was going to Austin, they would say, ‘Oh, Austin is such a nice city. I love it. It’s one of the best cities in the states.’ ‘How strange,’ I thought. ‘I’ve never even heard about that town before.’ But they were right. I love all the small trailers with the delicious food. Sno Beach is so good. I live in the biggest

junior Klara Bohman — Stockholm, Sweden


KB: A big difference between the students here and the students at my school is that it feels like you all are proud of going to Westlake. You’re coming to support all the football games, and no matter what you do, you do it to 100 percent. [When I went to the Westlake game], I loved the energy and feeling. It was so American and so much fun; I screamed so loudly and was jumping and laughing. [Westlake students] try to make school fun. You have the shirts and the solidarity of the school. I want to try and bring that and do that at my school. Another big difference is that [in Sweden] we’re not allowed to have any candy, drinks, food, fruit or gum during class. If we’re late, we won’t get into class and will be marked absent. If you’re talking to your friend or just don’t behave, the school will let your parents know. But I love my school. Actually, we were nominated as the best school in Sweden this summer. My mom is the principal so we all were happy. Westlake students have more homework than Swedish kids. I have about two or three tests each semester in every class. We will get to know about the test at least two weeks before. Someone asked me if it has been hard to adjust myself to the life here, and I think that the short time that you get to prepare for all the tests and quizzes is what has been one of the hardest things. Although I’m not here to study — I am here to have fun and experience as much as possible.

Sidney Hollingsworth

FD: What are the differences between Westlake and your school in Sweden?

city of Sweden, Stockholm, which has a population of 1,000,000, and people there are totally stressed out. [Something I miss about Sweden] is that I can’t express myself like I can in Swedish and I can’t do things on my own. I can’t 100 percent show who I am. I’m more quiet and laid back here and that’s not who I am. What I like most about Austin is the people and that the feeling is so laid back, relaxed and the pace is slow and nice. And of course a big difference is the weather. I love the heat here. When I stepped on American land, I put on American glasses and tried to see things with American eyes. It’s the adventure of my life.

FD: What is the craziest thing that someone has ever asked/said to you when they heard you’re from Sweden? KB: ‘Do you have polar bears in Stockholm?’ —interviews conducted by Christina Shin and Jessica Stenglein

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people + places


Catching on quickly Senior travels to Spain, encounters adventure, crime


Summer vacations are a time to get away from the humdrum of everyday life and gain new experience and insight. For senior Alli Dennington, a five-week trip to Spain included fending off a would-be mugger, taking part in one of the country’s most popular festivals and witnessing the aftermath of Spain’s victory at the World Cup. “I went with a program called Enforex, from June 12 to July 17,” Alli said. “I visited Barcelona and Valencia, although initially my plan was to stay in Barcelona all five weeks. But then I realized that I wasn’t a huge big city girl and after three weeks I had seen most of what was there to see, and I wanted to explore more of Spain, so I decided to tour another city as well.” Through Enforex, Alli was placed in an apartment with other program participants. Each morning, they would spend a few hours partaking in classes which taught Spanish grammar and vocabulary. “Because you’re with people from all over the world, Spanish is really the only language everyone has in common with each other,” Alli said. “A few of them knew English, but not very well, so speaking in Spanish was a lot easier.” After being released from her classes, Alli was free to explore the city. “I did a lot of the touristy type things to begin with, but eventually I made friends with some people who lived in the city and was able to see a lot of other stuff,” Alli said. One of the most interesting attractions Alli visited was Las Ramblas, one of the most iconic streets in the world, full of shops, museums and famous landmarks. The street’s high visibility as a tourist spot has its downsides, however. “Since it’s a big area, it attracts a lot of pick-pockets,” Alli said. “There were a lot of times where people would get up really close to me and pretend to be looking at things and later, when I’d have moved to another vendor, the same people would still be really close to me, and I knew that I needed to watch out.” Alli also took part in one of Spain’s most important and wild festivals, the Bonfires of

Senior Alli Dennington relaxes in front of the Tarragonna coastline.

St. John, which took place all throughout the night on June 24 and included a large fireworks display, as well as the creation of large bonfires, which people jump over. “The festival is really crazy and a lot of fun,” Alli said. “You spend all night on the beach and watch the firecrackers. It’s a big party.” On the way back to her apartment from the previous night’s festivities, a mugger brazenly attempted to steal Alli’s camera from her while she was waiting for a train. “I was at the metro station waiting for it [the train] to come,” Alli said. “And I had a camera that my photography ISM mentor lent to me for the trip. I tried to take a picture of the crowd, and I felt this huge tug on the camera, and because it was strapped to my neck I started getting pulled along with it. I don’t

was really ripped up, which I hadn’t even noticed. You can still see all the scars.” About a week later, Alli journeyed to Valencia, the third largest city in Spain, to spend the last two weeks of her trip. “I liked Valencia because it was a lot more open and cleaner than Barcelona was,” Alli said. “Also, the people I was with were really cool. We did everything together, and we were like a little family. I still talk to a lot of the people that I met there. ” While in Valencia, Alli was able to experience firsthand World Cup fever, as the Spanish national soccer team fought its way to the finals. “I got really sick of the Vuvuzuelas,” Alli said. “People complained about having to hear them all the time on TV and I was like, ‘Imagine being in the country that won.’ You couldn’t be a in bar and talk to the person next to you because they were so loud.” During the playoffs, Alli and her roommates would all go to a certain sports bar and watch the games, but on the day of the final, they discovered that a new venue would need to be found. “When we got to the place where we’d watched all the games, it was full of people from Holland,” Alli said. “And since we were going to root for Spain, we didn’t want to be the only pro-Spanish people there, so we went to another place. Along the way, people kept asking me if I was from Holland, so I made sure to buy a red t-shirt.” After the game, the celebration began to grow. “It turned into a stampede,” Alli said. “I didn’t stay out very long because it got really crazy and dangerous. I was afraid there would have been rioting if Holland had won.” For anyone planning to visit Spain, Alli has some important advice. “People shouldn’t go with an American program,” Alli said. “You won’t learn anything. You need to walk the streets by yourself and explore if you really want to get the most out of the experience.” — Zach Wasfi

“This guy was trying to steal from me and no way was that going to happen. My initial reaction was just, ‘bite the guy’s arm,’ so I did, and he started bleeding.” —senior Alli Dennington entirely remember what happened because of adrenaline, but people told me that I was yelling to get people’s attention, and that he dragged me down the stairs, through a crowd of people and into the street.” Alli wasn’t about to let her would-be thief steal her mentor’s camera and so fought back. “I was pissed,” Alli said. “This guy was trying to steal from me and no way was that going to happen. My initial reaction was just ‘bite the guy’s arm,’ so I did, and he started bleeding. Luckily, my friends I was with found me after that, and it became a tug-of-war for the camera. Once there were a few of us, the guy realized that he wasn’t going to get my camera, and he was bleeding, so he bailed. I remember heading back to the train and just hugging the camera really hard. When I got on the train, one of the locals told me that she had never seen such a blatant attempt at mugging before. When I got back to my friend’s house, her mother pointed out that my chest

Courtesy photo


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Junior Ben White learns about more than just a language during 11-month stay in Valdivia, Chile

Spicing up

Courtesy photo

Imagine walking into a new school on your first day, where everyone around you is speaking Spanish. Attending “Buenos Días,” a daily school assembly, and being the new kid in school, you’re asked to come up on stage to introduce yourself, with the little amount of Spanish you know. Junior Ben White’s “C” in Spanish III a year ago convinced him that his Spanish speaking skills were lacking. But he learned quickly when he was accepted into a program called American Field Service, giving him the opportunity to go to Chile for 11 months. “The main reasons I went were partly to learn the language and partly for the culture,” Ben said. All of the students from the U.S. who were going to South America met in Miami before their departure to various destinations in Latin America. After a couple of days in a city near Santiago, Ben finally made it to his new home in Valdivia. Going from the hot, summer weather in Texas to the cool, winter weather of Chile was a big change. “When I arrived in Chile, it was August and wintertime,” Ben said. “It was cold, but not cold enough to snow. I knew there would be cold weather, but I didn’t expect there to be so much rain.” Ben moved into an apartment with his host family of four. “The day I arrived, I received a warm welcome with balloons, cakes and pastries,” Ben said. “When you’re living with them like they’re family, you become a family very quickly.” Ben attended an all-boys Catholic school, despite the fact that he’s Jewish. “We did sometimes have services during the school day, but that was only for special occasions,” Ben said. “Philosophy was the only class pertaining to religion we were required to take.”



Ben (far left) stands with some of his new Chilean friends at the Catholic school he attended during his stay in South America. He spent free time outside of school running and learning to dance.

The school was grades pre-school-12, where in his all-male classes he experienced a completely different classroom environment from Westlake’s. “I am full supporter of co-ed schools,” Ben said. “People hit each other for fun; it was more rowdy.” Compared to Westlake, his new school was more relaxed about homework. “I knew I wouldn’t be able to get credits

“When you’re living with them like they’re family, you become a family very quickly.” —junior Ben White beforehand,” Ben said. “There wasn’t that much homework, but if there ever was, I didn’t have to do it.” Coming back to Westlake as a junior, Ben faced all of the challenges a new student usually faces. “I’m kind of like a new kid at Westlake because I’m a junior, and most of the people I know are seniors,” he said. “People in Chile were more open and welcoming [to me as a new student].” Ben experienced added stress when he returned to school at Westlake. “I went from a complete year of [basically] summer to five APs and one Pre-AP,” he said. Some may think of America as a place where everyone is blended together, but going to a different country opened Ben’s eyes to the unique culture of the United States. “I went to a different country, and I realized America does have a culture,” Ben said.

“Teenagers in Chile have the same attitude; however there wasn’t as much competition within the school.” Ben did realize, however, a difference in family structure between families in the United States and in Chile. “Families are more closely knit in Chile,” he said. “It is common for teenagers to continue living with their families when they’re attending a college, whereas in the U.S., it isn’t really accepted to still be living at home when you’re in college.” Aside from the language and culture Ben went to Chile to learn, he came back with something more meaningful. “When my friends were doing class work, I didn’t have a lot to do,” he said. “I had time to self reflect, learn Spanish, learn how to dance and I even took up running.” Spending 11 months in Chile, Ben formed close friendships with many of the other students at his school. The worst part about his time in Chile was the day he had to leave. Friends from his school threw him a party and gave him a gift so he would have something to remember them by. “The third to last day, my friends threw me a going away/birthday party with people from the all-girls and all-boys schools,” Ben said. “They gave me a Chilean uniform jersey, which they signed. And as I was leaving they chanted ‘Que no se va, que no se va, que el gringo no se va.’ Translation: “[We don’t want him to leave, we don’t want him to leave, we don’t want the gringo to leave.]” Ben left for Chile a more reserved and quiet person. After his experiences he came back with a new outlook on life and even a more outgoing personality. “Nobody knows you down there, so you can reinvent yourself,” Ben said. “When people perceive you a certain way, you’re stuck.” —Annie Valliant


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and remember to visit to pay for or order your 2011 yearbook

ased on last year’s Pride Survey, 47.1 percent of students ranked stress as the leading problem at Westlake, compared to the 22.6 percent that voted marijuana use as the leading problem. These statistics illustrate a negative result of the competitive Westlake culture. Despite our knowledge of the adverse effects of sustained stress, we sacrifice our physical and mental well-being for admission into the best universities and a sense of belonging among our peers. We’ve come to accept stress as the norm, and a certain level of anxiety is inevitable, yet we are so chronically over-committed that we are at risk of damaging our health. Balance is achieved through the possession of positive coping skills, stability in our personal lives and effective time management. Too often, our objective is surviving high school, rather than savoring the experience.

Photo illustration by Michelle Lingng

trends + traditions




Medical implications can result when stress becomes too much to handle

It’s 11:30 pm. In about nine hours you’ve got a physics test, out assistance. and 53 minutes after that, you’ve got an English essay due. You glance “We usually have at least two students come by here every day from the clock to your notes to your half-written essay and back to the because of stress issues,” campus nurse Merissa Garcia-White said. clock. This is a moment in which you wish your head was bustling with “Sometimes it’s because of social issues; sometimes it’s because they formulas and literary critiques, but the only thought going through are worried about a test or feel that they are falling behind in a class. I your mind is failure. Your hands sweat, your stomach turns and your think that this is due to the competitive nature of Westlake.” breathing contracts. Some reach a point at which stress goes from For many, stress is school-induced, and although that can make for being a detail of our lives that they are able to work with to a more seri- healthy competition, it also has the tendency to get out of hand. ous, detrimental problem over which they have less control. “I know that students are always jockeying for positions in the top “I used to be able to use the stress in my life to help me deal with of their class, and I think that shows how our school is, in a good way, things,” senior Anna Hayes* said. “I thought the better I performed, very competitive, but on the other hand, I believe that sometimes the less stressed I would be, but after a while, I became obsessive about students push themselves too hard,” counselor Carolyn Brooks said. “I it.” see it a lot with students in the upper portions of the classes. They take Anna has what is commonly known as a Generalized Anxiety Disharder courses, they are involved in more activities, but I do think that order. This, in short, causes an individual to worry excessively about even students that aren’t at the top of the class but are really working what others may feel is a normal at putting their best effort into situation. their classes get stressed out as “[Anxiety] always has been well.” part in my life in some form or The school nurses and counanother,” Anna said. “When selors put lots of work towards I was younger, I sometimes helping students settle down in a faltered in social situations. time of panic. If I ever thought I did or said “When students come in something wrong, I’d feel sick [because of stress] we will talk to and shaky and my heart would them and try to help them cope beat really fast. I’ve pretty much with the issues they are having,” gotten over that now. I still get Garcia-White said. “We let them uncomfortable in social situalie down for a while and relax; tions every now and then, but now, my main stressor is school.” we will ask if they want to rest in a dark room. There are some students Because stress is something that everyone experiences, it can be with clinical anxiety who come in regularly, but we do often get studifficult for one to understand how stress can become a medical condidents who we are not as familiar with. We will talk to these students, tion for some but not others. What make the difference are the physical and if we decide it is necessary, we will contact their parents and refer symptoms that can accompany anxiety. There are several factors that them to a psychiatrist.” can cause us to be more susceptible to this more severe form of stress. Students can often be hesitant about seeing a psychiatrist because Some of it can be one’s personal disposition; it can be traumatic events they feel that there is a sort of stigma attached to the concept. from the past or poor coping mechanisms. Those afflicted with depres“I really didn’t want to go talk to anyone about my stress,” Anna sion are also more susceptible to anxiety. Junior Jennie Cook* believes said. “I remember saying to both [my psychiatrist] and my parents her anxiety to be 100 percent school-induced. how everyone else in my classes has all the same work, and that we’re “I get anxiety through panic attacks when I’m stressed out from all under the same pressure. I didn’t understand how I was any differschool work and activities,” Jennie said. “I’ve always been uptight ent. In hindsight, though, I realize that I actually did need this interabout my grades and school, so it wasn’t anything unexpected. It’s vention.” not that the work is too hard; it’s just that how I deal with it is not the Anna went to a few meetings before she realized that counseling healthy way.” alone wasn’t helping her deal with her problem. About a year ago, Jennie came to the realization that her way of “I was scared when my psychiatrist said he was writing me a precoping with stress was abnormal, confronted her mother about it, and scription,” Anna said. “From all the pop culture and magazines, I had they decided together it would be best for Jennie to see a professional. always been under the impression that those drugs were only abused, “I went to the [psychiatrist] enough times to find out what was not actually used. I thought that taking [anxiety medications] with an wrong and to learn how to deal with it,” Jennie said. “I stopped going actual prescription was taboo. The stress I felt from schoolwork had after a while because I found that after the visits, I was getting better at never actually caused a full blown panic attack, so I didn’t think it was dealing with it on my own.” the sort of thing that I needed to do anything for or see anyone about. It is possible for one to be afflicted with an anxiety disorder yet fail In my mind, I had grouped anxiety disorders and panic attacks into to recognize the symptoms. Some, however, are able to recognize that one category; my doctor helped to explain the difference.” the emotions they are experiencing are abnormal and will actively seek With the combination of therapy and medications, Anna quickly

“From all the pop culture and magazines, I had always been under the impression that those drugs were only abused, not actually used. I thought that taking [anxiety medications] with an actual prescription was taboo.” —senior Anna Hayes*

began to recognize improvements in her lifestyle. “My symptoms feel far less severe,” Anna said. “Before, I had been over-worrying and overworking; I would always feel tired and fidgety in class. I really do believe that I’m having a much easier time with it now. I doubted it at first, but I think that’s because I didn’t realize that anything was actually wrong. I feel more normal now. From my medications and meetings with my doctor, I’m having an easier time in school and life. I feel less ashamed now that I see what kind of difference seeking out help can actually make.” The Westlake environment leads us to believe that stress is the norm; many may feel awkward about seeking out help about what they may not realize isn’t healthy. “Anxiety is not that abnormal among our student body,” GarciaWhite said. “I’ve worked [as a nurse] in other districts, and [stress] has never been as great of an issue as it is here.” Stress can present itself in many forms. “I’ve been having panic attacks for the last three years,” Jennie said. “It was only in the last six months, though, that I started to actually recognize what they were. I think it’s common; people probably have them and don’t know that they’re having them. For the longest time I didn’t realize what they were, until one day I said, ‘The physical effects that were coming along with being stressed out shouldn’t be happening.’” It is important to understand what the physical symptoms are that accompany an anxiety attack. “I help myself better now that I can recognize when I’m having a panic attack, I can talk myself through it,” Jennie said. “When it happens, your breathing gets tight, your heart beats fast, your hands sweat, and you start to hyperventilate. It can be really scary, especially if you don’t know what is causing it.” Jennie has had much better control over her attacks after learning how to deal with them. “The last time I had a panic attack was last year during AP week,” Jennie said. “There was one particular class that I did not feel prepared for at all. It was 11 at night and I was cramming so hard and I just freaked out about it. I kept telling myself, ‘I’m going to fail, I’m not going to get college credit.’ I think I’ve made great improvements in keeping these episodes under control since then.” These improvements did not come without assistance. Whether it is

general stress or a medical issue, it is important to learn how to cope. “The biggest mistake I was making before I learned how to keep my anxiety under control was that I would be in the middle of a panic attack, and I would try to work harder and harder,” Jennie said. “That’s not the right thing to do because you’re just not in the right mind set to get your work done. I think the worst thing you can try to do during a panic attack is more schoolwork. If you try to work under that level of stress, you will end up hurting yourself even more, and you won’t get anything done. You have to rationalize it. You tell yourself that it’s not that bad, and that you will be able to get through it.” It is often assumed that one with anxiety disorders must take medications to be brought to a functioning level, but Jennie has decided to go a different route. “I decided not to go on medications unless I really needed them,” Jennie said. “At this point in my life, I don’t think that I do. I don’t believe that taking a bunch of pills will help me get something under control. I had some initial assistance from my psychiatrist, and now I believe that I can deal with [stress] on my own.” Anna and Jennie agree that seeking out assistance helped them to make great improvements in their general wellbeing. “Students will sometimes come in to talk to me about stress,” Brooks said. “Sometimes it’s self-imposed and they don’t know what to do with it. Sometimes they feel like parents are pushing them too hard and not recognizing their hard work. A lot of kids are looking at their friends and begin to feel stress because of what their neighbors are doing.” A large part of stress can come from pressure from peers. It is important for students to realize what is best for themselves. “We go into the classes and talk about four-year plans,” Brooks said. “We talk about choices. Every one of us tries to put an emphasis on making sure the students make good choices for themselves personally, not try to do what the other person is doing. [We tell them] to really follow their passions and not just take AP courses because that’s the culture of our school. We all try to tell them to do what [they’re] best at. Do what you’re passionate about. Do what’s best for you. We all need a balance in our lives. Teachers need to hear that; adults need to hear that; it’s not just students, we all have to have a balance.” —Sofie Seiden

“I help myself better now that I can recognize when I’m having a panic attack, I can talk myself through it. You have to rationalize it. You tell yourself that it’s not that bad, and that you will be able to get through it.” —junior Jennie Cook*

* names have been changed

Of a total173 students surveyed, 30 are on some sort of prescribed

anti-anxiety medication. Average hours of sleep/homework per night 6.75 2.35 seniors 6.76 3.98 juniors 6.69 3.30 sophomores 7.23 3.21 freshmen

Seniors rate government , calculus and pre-calculus the most stressful classes. Juniors say U.S. history and physics are the most stressful, while sophomores say world history and freshmen named biology.

*survey results from 57 seniors, 53 juniors, 33 sophomores and 30 freshmen

trends + traditions

Epicosity. The definition remains a mystery. We know it’s a student group trying to help its peers have a good time in and out of school without the help of drugs or alcohol. While the events are often kept secret, the cause and purpose of the group is for the reduction of stress among the student body.

Epicosity members covered windows and walls with Post-Its Sept. 24 to inform students of the techno dance on the following Oct. 1. In addition to colorful sticky notes, Epicosity insiders made signs for the Commons.

Epicdemic Epicosity coordinator shares motivation for student-led group Featherduster: Who came up with Epicosity? Mitch Lasseter: The term itself came from a group out of Fort Collins, Colorado. They looked at Westlake’s biggest concerns, and number one was stress. We actually created the word. It’s on Urban Dictionary. FD: What was the initial reaction to Epicosity? Lasseter: The students thought it was many different things, like a band advertising or even the Episcopal church advertising. Some kids thought it was some kids from Lake Travis who snuck in and trashed the school. There were a lot of questions. The faculty was told something was coming, but they didn’t know what. They were pretty clueless as well. But that was the goal. For 10-12 weeks, our goal was to be sneaky and behind the scenes to build excitement. FD: How did you pick non-Teen Teaching members? Lasseter: We wanted to get people who were visible and could help improve the school. We wanted to be sure other students would respect their ideas by them doing something different. FD: What do you like most about [Epicosity]? Lasseter: The fact that even though the changes are small, changes can be made. We’re solving problems we [previously] had no idea what to do about. FD: What is your definition of Epicosity? Lasseter: A student-led group working to re-

duce stress through activities that will promote healthy choices. FD: What do you mean by “healthy choices?” Lasseter: Well, we work with a an underage drinking prevention program to provide alternatives like fun things at school, such as dances, as a different way to relieve stress [than alcohol]. FD: Does it relieve stress for you personally? Lasseter: Well, it’s a great deal of responsibility, but my stress release is the fact that the no homework night was successful. The teachers were really good about giving no homework. FD: How do you think parents feel abut it? Lasseter: Those who know about it like the idea of a school relieving stress. Parents appreciate it because now they can do family activities certain nights. FD: Besides no homework days, what other activities do you guys do? Lasseter: Well, we have the techno dances, free hot chocolate and ice pops. We give poinsettias and homemade cookies to teachers, as well as the free t-shirt giveaways. This year, we hope to have more dances, possibly make some really

Sidney Hollingsworth

cool spots for kids to hang out. We might have an outdoor movie, like “Movie on the Field” for the whole community and add more theme days like the pajama day last year. We want to do anything we can think of to make the school day a little more fun as often as possible. FD: Is there anything else you would like to add? Lasseter: The class meets fifth period. If any students have any ideas they are welcome to drop by and share, even fourth period lunch. It’s a school thing, so anyone with a good idea can contribute. The more people buying in means more chance of Epicosity surviving and making a difference.

—Taylor Ross

“I think that Epicosity is a great way for kids that are in sports or extracurricular activities to have a few nights to themselves and take a break from homework and all the stress that comes with it.” —World History AP teacher, basketball coach Robert Lucero - Robert Hunt, junior “No homework days need to go. The stress that they cause the day before and the “You can’t completely remove stress, but Epicosity provides ways for students day after isn’t worth getting a night off.” like me with a lot of extracurriculars to catch a break every now and then.” —junior Robert Hunt —sophomore Jeffrey Carlson

Words from Westlake

“Epicosity’s [no-homework nights] provide students with a midweek break. I “I’m a senior, so it’s not like I do homework anyways.” hope they energize them for the remainder of the week!” —Pre-AP Algebra 2 teacher Peggy Katterjohn

—senior Jesse Johnson

trends + traditions 49

fanned out All

UT fanatic speaks up about sports fan stress I started losing sleep over it the very night I found out. I’d just lie there, thinking, hoping, praying. The love of my life, the Texas Longhorn football team, was going to play for the Bowl Championship Series National Championship, and an exhausting stressor began brewing inside of me. Small amounts of tension piled up in the back of my mind, turning into a monster of uncontrollable anxiety that soon took over my brain. All I could think or speak of was the National Championship. About five days before the game, the stress really kicked in. I sat motionless in class, focused on winning and nothing more. The bell would ring, and I would speed through the halls, catching fragments of conversations, looking every which way after hearing the words: “Texas,” “football” and “lose.” Soon enough, there was a permanent glaze over my eyes; I was disconnected from the world. This zombie-like, footballconsumed version of me was troubled by the constant worry of a sports lover. You think school is a lot of pressure? Please. Try being an all-out, there-till-theend, extreme fan. You tell me how much of a breeze it is. Sports followers experience very large and often unhealthy amounts of pressure throughout the season and off-season. When my team is happy, I’m happy. When

my team is stressed out, I am stressed out. The Longhorns and I are one. In my countless years of playing the role of the die-hard football fan, I have found that most sports enthusiasts tend to follow a specific pattern of stress. They will become tense because of an injured player, a coaching change or an approaching game. They think about it day and night, during physics quizzes and pre-cal lessons, even just before bed. They lie there, thinking of how wonderful it would be to win, how, in their lives, they ask nothing more than to win this game. Then, the thought of losing strikes them. Suddenly, their breathing gets heavy, and tension rushes through them. At this moment the fan enters stage one of three of extreme stress. Stage One: Alarm Right when he or she realizes their team might be in trouble, the aficionado enters the first stage. At this time, the fan will experience fast breathing and an accelerated heart rate. In this stage, people tend not to think logically, but to imagine how horrible it would be if their team were to lose, how the world would be a dark, lonely place. My advice on dealing with a stage one die-hard fan: If they are worried about their favorite team playing a difficult game, do not try and convince them their team will win easily unless you have researched the topic Photos by Shea Wendlandt

thoroughly and can present valid evidence. If you attempt to calm the afflicted down without knowledge of the subject, one will simply get the fan more worked up, propelling them into stage two. Stage Two: Resistance When the sports devotee has been stressing out in stage one for a large amount of time without any relief, he or she will experience a slow reduction of energy levels. This, accompanied by weariness, forgetfulness and changes in physical and mental behavior, are clear signs of stage two. When in stage two, a fan might forget to engage in everyday routines or miss large amounts of sleep because they were busy listening to sleazy sports analysts’ predictions of the game. In order to properly care for a stage two sports lover, you must do two things: One, make them sleep, whatever it takes. Two, try to make them comfortable by giving them foods they like and reading them bedtime stories that will take their mind off the game. If you fail to follow these guidelines, the fan will enter stage three. Stage Three: Exhaustion At this point the fan is completely out of energy. It doesn’t matter if the game has already happened or not, this fan needs medical help. He or she has lost all hope and faith in the team and will declare they “just don’t care anymore.” Once one enters stage three, his or her stress about the game has actually disrupted their life in a big way. When you witness a fan enter stage three, you need to get them to the doctor. Fans in this stage are at risk for health problems. If they become sick due to large amounts of sports stress, they may lose their love for whichever beautiful game they are so attached to. When watching their favorite sport, fans can find a certain joy in their life that they find nowhere else. It’s perfectly fine to love a team, and do so obsessively, as long as the stress doesn’t take over. If a certain team or game gives you that feeling of delight, the feeling that everything is okay in the world, then go ahead, love it with all your heart. —Hirrah Barlas

Bullying, verbal abuse impact students’ lives



Mic h


Lin g

One syllable, a word so carelessly uttered. Slut. A vicious assault that vibrates in the victim’s head. A bully flings these piercing insults and continues into the classroom. The bell rings. It’s not so easy for the wounded to carry on. The victim is haunted by this incident for the rest of the day, the week, maybe the rest of her life. For junior Lily Daniels*, this abuse was an everyday encumbrance. The verbal lashings began in middle school, and they continued to escalate through her freshman year. “At first, it was hard to walk through the hallways because I thought everyone was looking at me and talking about me,” Lily said. “People would shout things in the hallway, saying ‘slut’ and ‘whore.’ They threatened me, told me to go to hell, that I wasn’t worth anything.” The crude language the bullies used had an enduring effect on Lily in all aspects of her life. As her self-esteem and confidence began to drop, so did her grades. “I couldn’t focus in class,” Lily said. “People would always text me in class, asking me if [the rumors they heard] were true. Sometimes I didn’t even want to go to school because it felt like everyone was on the bullies’ side. That was the worst.” Stinging remarks like the ones Lily dealt with every day have much more of an impact than most young people realize. “I see people impulsively saying things without giving much thought to their words,” ninth grade counselor Mary Smith said. “They act out of anger, without thinking things through. Words can do just as much damage as physical violence. Words have a lot of power.” These kinds of attacks don’t just happen during passing periods. They are also perpetrated online. The summer after her sophomore year, bullies started to post malicious messages on junior Jessica Miller’s* wall on Facebook, calling her vulgar names and making accusations. “They hurt me so much, and they did it publicly,” Jessica said. “I felt really self-conscious and became really shy. I didn’t want to be seen at school. I didn’t even want to be alive anymore. I wanted to go as far away as I could.” Jessica did not know how to deal with the Facebook bullies. “The school wasn’t even contacted,” Jessica said. “Schools never do anything, so I didn’t even try. I tried to ignore them and completely cut them out of my life, because they’re not worth it.”


It wasn’t until Jessica went to summer school that she was able to move on. “When I went to summer school, I made a new friend,” Jessica said. “We helped each other get through the drama. We’re a team. It’s not always better to just block out everything people say — just move on.” Often the Internet allows a more intense degree of harassment because the bullies feel separated from their victims. “It’s easier to bully someone online or through text,” Smith said. “I think the worst things I see are what [is] put in writing. People need to be careful what they write, because it’s there forever. I’ve read things that are pretty awful.” This extreme aggression is usually a result of the bullies projecting their own hurt feelings and insecurities and is usually seen in younger girls. “There are people who feel that they have the right to be disrespectful to another human being,” Smith said. “Bullying is not an adult behavior, and I think we see it more in ninth graders. I think that comes from a place of being insecure and the need to tear someone down to build up their image. Particularly with female students, I see a lot of jealousy, envy and unhealthy competition that causes them to bully each other. It’s actually very sad. It does not come from a place of confidence. Often they have something in their life that causes them to bully others, like abuse at home.” Lily dealt with these attacks for months of her freshman year, and as the constant text messages she received worsened, something needed to be done. “At first I would text [the bullies] back and answer them until I realized that’s not something I should be doing,” Lily said. “[One day] they sent me a really mean text message when I was in the shower. My mom went to check my phone, and when she saw it, she called the school. They called me in the office, and the girls were warned because it’s harassment. They never bugged me [through text messages] again.” Although the administration was able to deter Lily’s tormentors, many victims do not use the school and its policies on bullying as a resource. “A lot of it goes unreported,” Smith said. “What happens is [students are] bullied and then [feel] ashamed that they were bullied. They don’t know what to do. They feel like they just have to take it, and they don’t. One thing I really want people to know is [that] there are safe places to go in the school where people will listen and advocate. I want our students to feel safe here, because if you don’t feel safe, how are you supposed to learn? Safety and learning go hand-in-hand.” Lily was able to escape some of the abuse, and although the experience made her stronger, she will never forget the threatening words. “It’s made me realize that my true friends know who I am and love me,” Lily said. “I think bullying affects [people’s] confidence, makes them feel less than everyone. [Being bullied] should lift you. It should make you want to be stronger so they can’t push you around anymore.” —Zelda Mayer

*Names have been changed

Overcoming struggles with body image challenges Westlake student It was Thanksgiving 2008 — the smells of roasted turkey, creamy mashed potatoes and sugary pies filled the air. I ate and ate and ate, filling my stomach until I felt like exploding. I felt so sick I wanted to get rid of the food that was in my body. I remembered a book I read a while before, Perfect by Natasha Friend, about a girl with an eating disorder. I looked around to make sure no one was near. Then I went into a restroom, lifted the lid of the toilet and knelt down. Looking into the toilet, I saw the reflection of my face in the water. I didn’t like what I was seeing: the face of a desperate girl, wanting to get rid of her bloated stomach. I closed my eyes, stuck my hand into my mouth, and felt my fingers in the back of my throat. I puked. It felt good.

I didn’t throw up again until March 2009. This time it was because I didn’t like the way my body looked. I had put on some pounds during spring break and wanted to lose weight in a fast and efficient way. I resorted to throwing up, which became consistent. I enjoyed the way I could eat junk food and my weight would decrease. Throwing up was my life preserver.

I stared at myself and hated what I saw. I was the chubby kid when I was young, and I despised that. Even though I lost most of my baby fat as I got older, I have always been conscious of my body image. When I watched television, I wanted to be as thin as the actresses. Even during school, I would compare my body with my classmates and friends. I wished that every bit of fat on my body would disappear. I was disgusted with my belly and thighs especially. Although I lost 15 pounds in five months, it was not enough. I needed to lose more.

During the summer of 2009, my bulimia spiraled out of control. I ate all the time and would throw up five times a day minimum. My life was consumed by food and vomiting. I felt that I wasn’t even part of the real world. I

lived in a daze and was only aware of food and my face in the toilet. I hated that my priority was eating. I hated that I wasted half my time in the restroom throwing up. I hated my uncontrollable bulimia.

I had scratches on my knuckles from my teeth scraping my skin. My hands always smelled like vomit. My hair was falling out. I had constant black-outs. My body was starting to fail on me. I was malnourished, and it affected my life. I had trouble concentrating in school because I was hungry all the time. During my high-intensity sport, I would tire out more easily and had less rigor than usual. I hated what I was becoming. Even though my weight was satisfactory, other parts of my body were falling apart, and it was interfering with my life. I realized I needed help. During the fall of 2009, my dad was driving me home from a practice when I blurted out my darkest secret. “I’m bulimic.”

I despised my guidance counselor because she tried to get a deeper meaning out of every word I said. She asked, “Why did you throw up?” I would reply, “Because I love food but I want to be thin. So I eat what I want and throw it back up.” I can’t say when the turning point happened, but after many sessions, I started to have a better understanding of my bulimia. Not only would I throw up to stay thin, but whenever I was stressed or frustrated, I would overeat and rush to the restroom. I didn’t realize that bulimia was a result of other contributing factors.

I didn’t know it then, but stress also led to my bulimia. When I had three tests to study for on one night, I would be so overwhelmed that my only comfort was food. I would eat and eat and then throw it back up. In a weird way, that action made me feel better and I would go back to studying. In my family, whenever we are arguing, I have no say in our discussion and my parents are “always right.” I hated that, so I would express my anger by eating junk food and then sticking my head in the toilet. In a mean, twisted way, I also threw-up to seek revenge on my parents when I was mad at them. I thought that by hurting myself I would hurt them, too.

“During the fall of 2009, my dad was driving home from a practice when I blurted out my darkest secret. ‘I’m bulimic.’”

My parents didn’t send me to a guidance counselor right away. I assured them that I could stop myself. But I couldn’t. One day, I ate too much sushi and I went to my bathroom to get rid of it. As I was throwing up, my mom stepped in and witnessed my action. She was angry, frustrated and sad. “Do you think this is beautiful?” my mom yelled. She pointed at the toilet, which was filled with sushi-vomit. “Do you think that any guy would find this attractive? You say that you want to lose weight, but this is just disgusting.” I flushed the toilet, and looked down, so ashamed of what my mom had seen. I was ashamed of what I did. A month later, I started my first session.

A year ago, I had this idea planted in my head that throwing up is key to looking pretty. Having experienced that ordeal, it is not true at all. Bulimia isn’t beautiful. It is a parasite that eats you up inside and can lead to longterm illnesses in the future. For months, I kept my eating disorder a secret. I was scared and ashamed about what I was doing. Even though I felt like I had to go through my problem alone, I didn’t have to. Through the help and support of my family and friends, I gave up my addiction to binging and vomiting. Not only did they guide me through dark times, they helped change my perspective. I love and respect my body and myself. I am beautiful. —Anonymous

trends + traditions

ouble the 1 D

double the glum

Recently-freed senior revels in the joys of junior year Hooded eyes, slumped shoulders, furtive looks. If you’re thinking Twilight, you are mistaken. This is what we at Westlake refer to as junior year. The symptoms are undeniable: sleeping three-hour nights sustained only by instant coffee and obnoxiously loud Taylor Swift songs, self-induced scoliosis from the textbooks in your backpack, and of course, that looming dread of the 7,000 hours you’ll need to study for the AP exams that await you at the end of the year. It’s rough. But I’m here to say that I have reached the other side of the mountain of despair — and though you may be afraid to drive alone for fear of accidentally-on-purpose running yourself into a wall, it will end. And hopefully, you won’t be emotionally shattered at the end of it all.

My story

I was a junior once. I experienced 11th grade in its full glory: latenight essays, the usual pre-class scramble to finish my physics homework and the constant club meetings. I understood that this was the last push before colleges would scrutinize and criticize the mediocrity that would be the past four years of my life. However, I continually faltered and faltered, forgetting to resolve my free-body diagrams in physics, never quite making the abstract concrete in English. My mind struggled to keep straight the club meetings and standardized test registration deadlines while remembering to study for the seven tests I had every day, which no teacher would concede fell on the wrong testing day. Though this is impossible according to school policy, no one has the initiative to fill out the form requesting to take a test or two the next day because this means coming in on your own hypothetical free time to take the test later. So the year went, a flurry of lunch-time cramming, bubbling in letters and the vegetative state that I call “negative sleep.” One day, it ended. I was too numb from the year’s evils to register that I had, indeed, woken up from the nightmare. I only realized when I rose from a week of summer hibernation that I was finally free. My reaction? “Go Chaps.”

Life? What life?

You may think before becoming a junior that you will always make time for your friends and family. It’s a sweet thought, but naïve. Your relationships will become simply between you and your teachers and your hated alarm clock. Time with your friends tends to consist of meeting at Barnes & Noble for a U.S. History study session or AP exam reviews or, if you have the time, lightheartedly discussing all the tests that lie in front of you in the week ahead. When you wake up in the morning to wrap up that essay that you left for the next day, your family will still be asleep. When you come home at 8 p.m. after practice or deadline or rehearsal, they’ll have already eaten dinner. When you hit the books at 10:30 to start on your homework, they’ll have already gone to sleep. Sure, they’ll miss you at first, but then, maybe their pain will recede once they forget you. One can only hope.

Time goes on...

At the end of it all, you’ll be a high school machine. Teachers will gush about your discipline and dedication to your academics, your parents will praise your commitment to your college admissions and your senior friends will pityingly extend a hand to help you through this traumatic time of your life. And then you’ll become one of them. You’ll finally wade through the river of exhaustion, reach the edge of the cliff of distress, and enter the land of the free. Senior year’s almost worth the torture of junior year, and after the entire ordeal, only two hours of homework seems like a holy boon. So battle on, juniors. You may be sad now, and you may be sad for the rest of the year, but it won’t last forever. I assure you, there’s hope on the other side of May 2011. —Anisha Ganguly


Junior year isn’t painful because you’re learning rocket science. You’re learning relatively “simple” stuff. What makes it so difficult is the sheer volume of work that you receive on a daily basis. The ideal junior has the thought process of an AP grader, the patience of a samurai and the stamina of Usain Bolt. Everything needs you to put your back into it. Thus, you find yourself routinely on the brink of desperation, constantly pushing harder and harder, until you lose the will to live (right around the end of the fourth six weeks. Something to look forward to.) At this point, you as a junior have reached a virtual state of nirvana where you can conjugate verbs without knowing what you’re doing, complete an APUSH reading check without realizing what chapter you’re covering and calculate the enthalpy of a system without really knowing what enthalpy is. Sleep dilutes this state, so it’s highly important to keep on a regimented slumber diet, limiting yourself to three or four hours to remain both senseless and studious.


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Epicosity. The definition remains a mystery. We know it’s a student group trying to help its peers have a good time in and out of school without the help of drugs or alcohol. While the events are often kept secret, the cause and purpose of the group is for the reduction of stress among the student body.

Epicosity members covered windows and walls with Post-Its Sept. 24 to inform students of the techno dance on the following Oct. 1. In addition to colorful sticky notes, Epicosity insiders made signs for the Commons.

Epicdemic Epicosity coordinator shares motivation for student-led group Featherduster: Who came up with Epicosity? Mitch Lasseter: The term itself came from a group out of Fort Collins, Colorado. They looked at Westlake’s biggest concerns and number one was stress. We actually created the word. It’s on Urban Dictionary. FD: What was the initial reaction to Epicosity? Lasseter: The students thought it was many different things like a band advertising, or even the Episcopal church advertising. Some kids thought it was some kids from Lake Travis who snuck in and trashed the school. There were a lot of questions. The faculty was told something was coming but they didn’t know what. They were pretty clueless as well. But that was the goal. For 10-12 weeks our goal was to be sneaky and behind the scenes to build excitement. FD: How did you pick non-Teen Teaching members? Lasseter: We wanted to get people that were visible and could help improve the school. We wanted to be sure other students would respect their ideas by them doing something different. FD: What do you like most about [epicosity]? Lasseter: The fact that even though changes are small, changes can be made. We’re solving problems we [previously] had no idea what to do about. FD: What is your definition of Epicosity? Lasseter: A student-led group working to

reduce stress through activities that will promote healthy choices. FD: What do you mean by “healthy choices?” Lasseter: Well we work with a an underage drinking prevention program to provide alternatives like fun things at school such as dances as a different way to relieve stress [than alcohol]. FD: Does it relieve stress for you personally? Lasseter: Well, it’s a great deal of responsibility, but my stress release is the fact that the no homework night was successful. The teachers were really good about giving no homework. FD: How do you think parents feel abut it? Lasseter: Those who know about it like the idea of a school relieving stress. Parents appreciate it because now they can do family activities certain nights. FD: Besides no homework days, what other activities do you guys do? Lasseter: Well we have the techno dances, free hot chocolate and ice pops. We give poinsettias and homemade cookies to teachers, as well as the free t-shirt giveaways. This year we hope to have more dances, possibly make some really

Sidney Hollingsworth

cool spots for kids to hang out. We might have an outdoor movie thing, like “Movie on the Field” for the whole community and add more theme days like the pajama day last year. We want to do anything we can think of to make the school day a little more fun as often as possible. FD: Is there anything else you would like to add? Lasseter: The class meets fifth period. If any students have any ideas they are welcome to drop by and share, even fourth period lunch. It’s a school thing, so anyone with a good idea can contribute. The more people buying in means more chance of Epicosity surviving and making a difference.

—Taylor Ross

“I think that Epicosity is a great way for kids that are in sports or extracurricular activities to have a few nights to themselves and take a break from homework and all the stress that comes with it.” —WHAP teacher, basketball coach Robert Lucero - Robert Hunt, junior “You can’t completely remove stress, but Epicosity provides ways for students “No homework days need to go. The stress that they cause the day before and the day after isn’t worth getting a night off.” like me with a lot of extracurriculars to catch a break every now and then.” —junior Robert Hunt —sophomore Jeffrey Carlson

Words from Westlake

“Epicosity [no-homework nights] provides students with a midweek break. I “I’m a senior, so it’s not like I do homework anyways.” hope this energizes them for the remainder of the week!” —Pre-AP Algebra 2 teacher Peggy Katterjohn

—senior Jesse Johnson

trends + traditions 49



1. name of a college____________ 2.     living being (animal or person)____________ 3.      disease____________ 4.      job____________ 5.      school course 1____________

7.     annoying habit____________ 13.    form of transportation____________ 8.      psychological issue____________ 14.    type of skill____________ 9.      body part____________ 15.    personality trait____________ 10.    country____________ 16.    resource____________ 11.    adjective____________ 17.    silly college class 1____________ 12.    school club____________ 18.    silly college class 2____________

To the administration of ____________ (1). When I was but a youth, my ___________ (2) died of ___________ (3). Although living without my beloved ____________ (2) was unbearably painful, the bereavement taught me a valuable lesson about mortality, which I believe is a lesson that many of my sophomoric cohorts lack. It was this very lesson that lead me to my current passion: becoming a(n) ____________ (4) so that I can eradicate ____________ (3). Since the seventh grade, I have taken preparatory courses in ____________ (5) and ____________ (6) so that I might take the first steps towards my goal: to end the suffering of millions. Though my many disabilities such as ____________ (7) and ____________ (8) have challenged me to the very limits of my endurance, I have overcome them by putting ____________ (9) over matter. Whenever I wanted to quit, I just remembered the bravery and perseverance of my deceased ____________ (2). More recently, I was given the opportunity to travel to ____________ (10), where I was dismayed to discover the unconscionable standard of living in countries and area codes outside those with which I was familiar. For three days, I helped the native

peoples of ____________ (10) become more ____________ (11), using sustainable, environmentally-friendly methods that my ____________ (12) club designed on the ____________ (13) ride there. These three days changed my life as well as the very way that I think, and never again will I take my family and life for granted. However, I was most deeply moved by the fact that many of these people also suffered from ____________ (3). I returned to my home and school more determined to end the scourge of ____________ (3), not only to vindicate the lost spirit of my ____________ (2), but also to aid the deserving people of ____________ (10), who had taught me such an indelible life lesson. If I am accepted into your college, I will use my ____________ (14), ____________ (15) and ____________ (16) to create a more unified and dedicated student body and to further educate myself through the ____________ (17) and ____________ (18) classes that your university is known for. Hopefully, one day, you will be able to say that your university nurtured the mind that triumphed over ____________ (3). —Hetty Borenstein

“I thought waking up at the crack of noon was tough — 5:50 a.m. isn’t something I enjoy.”

“We have to memorize so many facts and I’m not interested in it at all.”

–senior Jackson Bennett

“There is so much reading, and you really have to be able to manage time well.” –sophomore Emily Richard

–freshman Sean Taylor

“My feet don’t touch the ground when I’m sitting in the desk.” –freshman Nishiki Maredia

“It takes the most effort and is the most demanding intellectually.”

–senior Kenzie Hume —Laura Hatcher

Art by Emily Mitchell

City Wide Garage Sale offers endless antiquities An endless repository of handmade, vintage and downright strange finds cluttered into a massive venue with the smell of an old antique shop and the look of a huge, ventilated garage, Austin’s City-Wide Garage Sale is the perfect place for the vintage aficionado or trinket collector. Imagine a normal garage sale, multiply it by hundreds of sellers, weed out all of the useless items (like that broken TV set from 1996), and you’ll have a good taste of just what kind of gems are buried in these piles of antiquity. With an entrance fee of only $5 and free for those 12 and under, it’s a great deal considering that they sell the cheapest second-hand cowboy boots we’ve ever seen. The Palmer Events Center revealed a number of wondrous finds: a red and chrome dining set from the 1950s, several massive cases of homemade jewelry, a rack of $5 vintage jackets and coats, a table of old sci-fi magazines. From stuffed coyotes to real vintage alligator hand bags, the things you thought were only at Uncommon Objects on Congress find their way here. The Austin City-Wide Garage Sale will be held the weekends of Oct. 23-24 and Nov. 27-28 at the Palmer Events Center, and you can expect it approximately every six weeks starting next year. If you’re a connoisseur of memorabilia or a collector of dolls, coins, toys, vintage clothing, records or cards, or if perhaps your interests lie anywhere near the realm of old stuff that people keep in their attics for innumerable decades, this is the place for you. You never know when an antique German typewriter or a rare stamp collection could come in handy. —Keren Rempe and Steven Campbell

Photos by Keren Rempe

At the City Wide Garage Sale on Sept. 4, there was a kiosk dedicated solely to vintage cowboy boots with an assortment of colors and styles.

Held at the Parmer Events Center, this event had various kiosks with retro finds. “It’s neat to walk into a huge room with lots of booths to explore,” senior Elise Moltz said.

“It’s very cool with an antique vibe. I’d come here if I ever wanted to redesign my house to look like That ‘70s Show.” —senior Ashley Berd

“It was really interesting to talk to all the vendors because for every object there’s a story behind it.” —junior Drew Nelson { }

rants + raves





Art by Emily Mitchell

h-oh, eye spasm. No, no, no, don’t look at me. Just wait a couple seconds; it’ll pass. I half-smiled nervously at a pale boy with a hedgehog-shaped face. Then I sat there, my head tilted, just observing the way he moved. A few minutes had passed when I realized I was half smiling to the point where I looked constipated. Snap out of it, Hirrah. Gracefully, like a male model, he got up from his chair and began walking in my direction. Ooooh gosh, what do I do? I quickly re-adjusted my Limited Too t-shirt and toenail-colored gauchos. I hoped he wouldn’t get too close; he’d be repulsed by the lack of space between my eyebrows and unfortunate growth of hair above my upper lip. Why would a fine piece of sixth grader like him crush on a boyish-looking 11-year-old like me? As he got closer and closer my unibrow and girl-stash became more and more apparent. But then, out of nowhere, it happened. It played out like a movie. He waved. I waved. Time stood still and we were absorbed by the beautiful sound of violins. Next thing I knew, I felt his arm brush against mine as he joined a blonde at the table behind me. She clearly had the cooler backpack. My next crush came in eighth grade. It still amazes me how us girls found such pubertystricken, obnoxious, immature “young men” attractive. Now, I’ve decided I’d rather chug a bottle of Softsoap than have dinner with my eighth grade crush. I remember a rainy Monday. History class. Another movie, whoopee. I pretended to listen to the old man on the projector speak monoto-

Previously lovesick teen recovers from trauma of middle school crushes


nously about the American Revolution while a dream sequence played out in my head. A meadow. Flowers. Him. Me. Suddenly a sensation that felt like an electric current surged through my veins. My breaths got short. He touched me. So what if it was an involuntary jerk of the leg? His foot touched mine, and darn right it was romantic! Then I met a real man. A troubled 18-yearold who was too shy to admit he was a complete momma’s boy. To him, it was friendship. But to me, a hormonal, more-confused-thanever sophomore, it was so, so, much more. Essay topics, daydreams, sleepover chats, the list goes on. My brain goes back to a time when we were at dinner with some friends. I wore those relatively snug jeans that made my butt look good. I didn’t have a mustache, and I had two, separate eyebrows. The mistake was the innocent little zipper to my jeans. It silently hung open; a constant stream of instigation filled my ears. I had to zip it up. He wouldn’t notice! I went for it, and soon my troubles were over. But as we began walking to his car, the zipper went down, lower with each step I took. My cheeks went from milk chocolate to raspberry faster than a Corvette goes zero to 60. He noticed, alright. And proceeded to advise me to duct tape my zipper, “it would stay better that way.” I’ll never forget my past crushes and the way my friends and I used to obsess over them. I’ll cherish the memories of the childish nicknames we gave those poor boys, and thank goodness, as a junior, I’ve moved on to bigger and brighter things, like real relationships. For instance, Colt McCoy and I are now planning our third date. —Hirrah Barlas


t was a regular old school-day and sixth grade had been treating me well. I walked through the halls, timidly bumping into oversized eighth-graders, and made my way to Ms. Cunningham’s 6th period reading class. Out of nowhere an especially obnoxious 13-year-old boy put his arm on my shoulder and said, “If I could rearrange the alphabet, I’d put U and I together.” Of course, back then I was horribly embarrassed and offended, being this dim-witted kid’s source of entertainment. But this experience brought to my attention the great power of pick-up lines. Want to win your crush’s love? Take these bad boys for a spin:

Are you a parking ticket? ‘Cause you’ve got fine written all over you. Hey there, I lost my number…can I have yours? Are you from Tennessee? ‘Cause you’re the only ten I see. Are you tired? ‘Cause you’ve been running through my mind all day. Do you have a map? ‘Cause I’m lost in your eyes. How ‘bout you act like the Calvin Cycle and give me some sugar? Your name must be Mickey, ‘cause you’re so fine.

Photos by Barrett Wilson

Waldo Find me four times in this photo. Wenda Find me three times in this photo. Odlaw Find me three times in this photo. For answers, go to

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rants + raves


A hunger for books Trilogy completed,


ica Ta


The Hunger Games brings thrills to readers It is now countless years in the future, and the world as we know it has been destroyed. What was once America is now a dictatorship known as Panem, where a merciless Capitol reigns over 12 districts. These districts are poor, yet work is the only life their citizens know. As if the Capitol didn’t subject these people to enough misery, two teenage representatives from each district are chosen annually to participate in the Hunger Games, a televised battle to the death. This is the twisted world of The Hunger Games series, a trio of young adult novels by Suzanne Collins. All three books, The Hunger Games, Catching Fire and Mockingjay, have received extraordinary reviews and spent countless weeks on several bestseller lists. Almost 4.8 million copies of the first two books have been produced in the U.S. and Canada, and 450,000 copies of the final book, Mockingjay, were sold in the week after it was published, according to Scholastic Media. Aside from its obvious popularity, The Hunger Games contains characteristics unlike any other series I’ve read. Collins compels you to imagine the complete opposite of what life is now and creates a place that America could turn into one day. Her ideas are horrifyingly realistic, unlike a school full of wizards or sparkling vampires, for instance. The story revolves around Katniss Everdeen, a brave hunter from the most impoverished district in Panem, District 12. To the readers, she seems fearless, especially when her younger sister, Prim, is chosen to fight in the bloody Hunger Games, and Katniss immediately volunteers to take her place. She turns out to be one of the most powerful competitors in the Games, and after killing innocent people to save herself, a vicious hate for the Capitol starts burning inside her. In the Hunger Games themselves, only one competitor can emerge from the arena alive and earn a plethora of gifts for his or her home district. The Hunger Games have only been won by District 12 once in the past 73 years, so survival isn’t likely for Katniss and her fellow contender, Peeta Mellark, who is unquestionably in love with her, to make matters more complicated. You don’t have to wonder why the series is so popular when you start reading it, because from the first page, The Hunger Games has you hooked, not freeing you from its clutches until the very last word of Mockingjay. With every suspenseful chapter and every cliffhanger, the series leaves you hungry for more, no pun intended. It’s amazing how much emotion Collins can pack into only three books. The language she uses is so strong that it feels like you, not Katniss, are stuck in the arena of the Hunger Games with 23 people trying to kill you all at once. Her language, however, could be what people don’t like about these books. I was overwhelmed while reading the first book because of the amount of sheer terror Collins subjects her readers to. The Hunger Games series is out of the ordinary. These books will blow your mind and you will crave them at every moment, forming an unquenchable addiction inside yourself. You will have withdrawal symptoms from tearing your eyes away from them, and then you’ll be forced to go into rehab, where you’ll see me introducing myself to a group of addicts: “Hello, my name is Abby, and I’m a Hunger Games-aholic.”

Collins compels you to imagine the complete opposite of what your life is now and puts you in a place that America could turn into one day.



Other books you may enjoy in the same genre:

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card Percy Jackson and the Olympians series by Rick Riordan Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare Inheritance Cycle series by Christopher Paolini Ranger’s Apprentice by John Flanagan


College culture, clothing pour into Westlake

It’s Friday afternoon, 4:05 p.m. on the dot. My backpack is stuffed with homework to procrastinate on over the weekend and with my iPhone and car keys intermingling in my hands, I plow through the language hall, eager to get out after a week of the undeniable stress that we juniors just love to complain about. “Oh God, Ben Hur is probably jammed by now,” I mumble to myself. Yet, I keep on treading, determined to get off campus. Rounding the corner just past Ms. Cluck’s room, I enter the Commons, and I am suddenly bombarded by a tidal wave of backwards Polo hats of every Easter egg color imaginable, a plethora of baggy Columbia fishing shirts, neon Nike shorts and plastic sunglasses attached to Croakies. I can even hear the pitter-patter of Sperry Top-Sider shoes making their mark across the restricted, senior-dominated Chaps “W” on the floor. “It’s official,” I say to myself. “Westlake has turned Greek.” You may be one of them, or you may be an observer, but to me, it is pretty dang obvious that Westlake’s clothing style and culture have transformed into something beyond the limits of high school. We are beginning to dig deeper into the depths of fraternities and sororities by using their style to make ourselves appear cool, hip and overall “fratty” to say the least. I am even spotting random underclassmen sporting those baby pink Delta Gamma shirts. All I can say is that rushing is starting to show its face in Westlake, and we are embracing every aspect of it. Call me a hypocrite — I do own some “fratty” paraphernalia, including Sperry Top-Sider shoes and the occasional Polo button down shirt. Also, I admit to having purchased a couple of Columbia fishing shirts, however they are breezy, light, comfortable, and cool, and I wear them on my fishing trip every year, hence the name “fishing shirt.” Another fashion issue I have is how I am literally blinded each day as I walk into school because of all the neon people wear. Yellows, pinks, oranges and greens scattered throughout the halls as if school is one big daytime techno dance rave. Students should just go to Office Depot every morning before school and take a bath in highlighter markers and it would fit the bill. It is not my greatest pet peeve, however. Neon clothing is just a slight symptom of the fratty disease that it is spreading across the grounds of Westlake — the disease being the desire to be an older, partying, college kid. Having a brother who is in a fraternity at the University of Texas, I have gained at least some insight into the world of college. It’s a peculiar thing how high school students try extra hard to be a part of the essence of Greek social life in college through the way they dress and even by attending some of the various fraternity parties. In reality, you are only in high school, not college, and you definitely aren’t 21 either, so why post pictures of yourselves with your friends on Facebook, holding those red plastic cups filled with who knows what? After all, do you really want college reps who purposefully Facebook stalk you to come across those photos? Wait a little while, and you too will have your chance to be that picture-perfect Fiji or Zeta that your little heart desires to be. Westlake is unique and we each have our own way of dressing to show our true selves. Some tend to go with the trend while others prefer to rebel against it. I am not here to offend or insult anyone, however I find it comical how people at times show up to school dressed to attend fraternity events like Foam or Round Up. Indeed, it may be fun to dress crazy, and some of you might be doing it out of complete sarcasm, but where should high school culture and college culture separate? If it’s theme-day Friday or if I am pledging to a sorority, then that will be the day when I’ll break out of my shell and dress as crazy and neon as possible. I am ready to go to college, but I must realize that I am still in high school and that my day to live a wild and crazy life in college will come soon enough. —Caroline Hunt

Photos by Chris Hunt

Frat fashion from head to toe: The Polo hat: This is essential to the frat look, espcially when worn backwords or slightly to the side Plastic neon sunglasses: If you manage to acquire a pair of these, be sure to attach some Croakies to them in order to look as “frat-tastic” as possible The Columbia fishing shirt: The brighter and more oversized, the better according to Greek style

Sperry Top-Siders: Lucky for you eager-to-party people out there, these shoes can get wet so you are all set for that Foam party you plan to attend

rants + raves


Playing for keeps As kids, we all wanted to be ninjas. We yearned to be Rambo-like heroes who could massacre hordes of zombies while riding unicorns and wielding crossbows when the apocalypse finally came. I, for one, wished that I could run along magical rainbows as a robot unicorn and have all of my wishes come true. I know I wasn’t the only one. Who actually wanted to be a firefighter or a doctor? Those were just ideas that the evil grown-ups tried to instill in us to keep us from fulfilling our dreams of morphing into robot unicorns, running along rainbows, crashing through stars and passionately singing Erasure.

N game

N game isn’t just a game in which you run around stealing gold and avoiding death traps as a ninja. It’s a status symbol. Whenever I’m in a really heated argument and things just get out of control, I usually say something like “Yeah? Well, you suck at N game!” Then whoever I’m fighting with will say “Your mother is dumb!”

Strange internet games help me realize dreams

Yet, we all had to grow up and accept this was all folly. Like my mom always says, “Matt, grow up — you’re 17. Take off the unicorn costume, stop singing and go do your homework.” My therapist called me obsessed, but I wouldn’t give up. So I came up with the only solution I could think of that didn’t include costumes or genetic engineering: finding the best games on the internet that included killing zombies, being a ninja and majestically galloping as a magical robot unicorn. It wasn’t easy, but I bring it to all of you out there who share my ardor for these same dreams.

Then everyone will look at him funny and say “Hey, you blew it. Being called bad at N game is much worse than having your mother called dumb. What were you thinking?” N game is that important. But while it is undeniably a big deal, the basic game play is quite simple and easy to get into. You simply use the left and right arrow keys for movement and the z key for jumping. This means anyone can pick the game up, but there is quite a bit of skill that one must acquire to be successful. You must have

incredibly fast reflexes, and be able to make a life or death decision in a split second. Plus, the amount of robotic ninja-killing machines you have to outsmart is quite large. There are chain gun drones, all sorts of laser shooting robots, electric shocking robots and missile launching robots. In fact, finding someone who has beat the whole game is like finding a real ninja master — there’s probably only one or two in existence. That doesn’t mean the rest of us can’t hope, though.

Boxhead Zombie Wars As the objective states on the main screen, the point of this game is to kill zombies. There is no getting out alive. You don’t fight to survive — you fight to be a winner. It’s true that while this is always a great idea for a game, it is quite a trite subject. Fortunately, there are some twists thrown in. First of all, you have to fight giant devils that shoot fireballs at you in a strange, provocative manner, which is really a good addition to any game. Second of all, the game has a strategic element. Some of the weapons you get are walls you can place anywhere, land mines and explosive barrels. To get far in the game, you really have to use these as traps or to block entrances. Otherwise, you simply get overrun and epically die in a sea of zombies, which isn’t always a bad thing. The third awesome ele-

Michelle Ling

ment is really just a quirk. Everyone and almost everything in the game is made up of rectangles. So instead of having a regular buff guy massacring scary zombies, you have an awkward-looking box-guy killing awkward-looking zombies. It’s really just classic comedy.

Robot Unicorn Attack






Beauty, glory, halcyon: these words describe Robot Unicorn Attack. Picture yourself as a robot unicorn running along purple rock ledges, with rainbows and flying dolphins following you as you crash through stars, making all of your dreams come true. Now, this game does come off as something little 4-year-old girls might play. After all, it is a game about unicorns, dolphins and making all of your wildest dreams come true. However, this was in no way made for children. You get three “wishes,” which are really lives, and you just run and crash through stars until a star crashes you or you fall off the map. So, basically, your dreams never come true. In fact, one of the messages that shows up on the loading screen says, “You will die a fiery death!” In a lot of ways, this is a game that should be kept away from children since the only message it really sends is that you shouldn’t even try in life because you’ll just end up crashing and burning. All depressing undertones aside, if this was all the game was, it would be just pretty epic. What really takes this game and makes it whole is the music in the background. Now, picture the game while ‘80s band Erasure sings to you with a burning passion, “Always I wanna be with you and make believe with you and live in harmony, harmony. Oh, love.” If tears just started rolling down your face, don’t be alarmed. It’s just the glory of Robot Unicorn Attack. —Matt Frank

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rants + raves


ACL playlist

Sad that ACL is over? Can’t wait a whole year until you can see the bands again? Take my advice, expand your repertoire, and the experience may be able to help you hold on until ACL 2011.

Indie music is basically taking over the world. Fun to dance to, fun to sing to, it puts you in the most joyous frame of mind. Miss the awesome Vampire Weekend concert? I’ve put together a playlist of songs that I think are the best indie songs of all time. “Rich Girls” by The Virgins “Merry Happy” by Kate Nash “Rome” by Phoenix “Airplanes” by Local Natives “A-Punk” by Vampire Weekend “Little Bit” by Lykke Li “Daylight” by Matt and Kim “Home” by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros “The Funeral” by Band of Horses “The Kids Don’t Stand a Chance” by Vampire Weekend “West Coast” by Coconut Records “Electric Feel” by MGMT

Even though they may not perform at ACL again, the following bands have a similar sound. You may have been living your life deprived of the music from these other bands, but do not fear, here’s your introduction.

What better way to remember your time at ACL than by watching the music video? These are the coolest music videos from a few bands that performed at ACL.

If you liked Blues Traveler, you may like moe. If you liked Pat Green, you may like David Nail. If you liked Matt and Kim, you may like She and Him.

“Tribulations” by LCD Soundsystem “Laredo” by Band of Horses “Tighten Up” by the Black Keys

Fun fun fun

If you enjoyed the sweet tunes of Switchfoot, check out their newest album, Hello Hurricane. Be sure to check out the songs “Enough to Let Me Go” and “Your Love is a Song.”

—Hannah Kunz

Festival to bring different approach to music; Mother Falcon to play Nov. 6

Since its creation in 2006, Fun Fun Fun Fest has maintained the underground music scene’s view that what sounds great is great, regardless of the critics. The focus is more on discovering new acts rather than swimming in a sea of drunken, sweaty pseudo-fans who just want to see someone famous for the sake of saying they did. There are no balloons plastered with advertisements floating around to distract you from the music, no big cameras projecting faces onto huge screens and no 50-foot gap between the audience and the band filled with angry, cross-armed security guards staring you down. What you get instead is a personal and exciting experience, in which you feel like you’re in a small club or bar, and the band genuinely appreciates your presence. The fans are generally extremely respectful and care about the music itself. “Fun Fun Fun Fest is the place you wanna be,” senior Katie Buck said. “It’s the dust you wanna breathe and the sweat of a hundred teeny freaks.” This year’s event, scheduled for Nov. 5-7 at Waterloo Park, has more than 60 artists playing over the weekend. Each of the four stages is assigned a color rather than a brand name — orange: indie-rock, blue: hip-hop/DJ, black: hardcore/punk and yellow: comedy. “I think our crowd is really varied because we try to book really varied acts,” operations coordinator Zoe Cordes Selbin said. “It’s a lot of people who are into indie music, and not just indie-rock. I really mean it as the actual word ‘independent’. I think that the crowd that comes digs deeper in terms of finding new music. The thing I’m proudest of

with Fun Fun is that we pay a lot of attention to smaller bands.” However, there will be some more famous headliners, including “Weird Al” Yankovic, Devo, MGMT, Mastodon and Gwar. Westlake’s Mother Falcon is scheduled to play at noon Nov. 6. “I’m excited that we are going to play in a large venue with a good, extensive setup,” Mother Falcon violinist 2009 graduate Austin Harris said. “The band has always done very well in large concerts, and I think the setup at FFFF will optimize the sound we are looking for.” One of the biggest challenges facing the festival is simply getting the word out. Because of limited money and resources, the marketing team has employed some rather unusual strategies, including FunFest-related scavenger hunts, fake interns talking to fans on Facebook, and a cleaned-out porta-potty ticket booth. “We’re not traditional in the way we go about things because our fans aren’t traditional,” Cordes Selbin said. “We’re a silly, crazy group of people, so why would we push marketing that isn’t aimed at equally crazy people?” Austin’s spirit resonates in the festival, mixing weirdness with practicality that in a way can only be described in one word: fun. “One of the things that is the blessing and curse in terms of [Fun Fun Fun Fest] is that we’re not driven by money,” Cordes Selbin said. “It makes things a bit crazy, but it’s great because it gives us the freedom to only do things we really believe in.” —Mariah Stevens-Ross For ticket information check out

Sugar, and spice

everything nice Do-it-yourself cupcakes Every time I bake, I think about how I wish I were Martha Stewart — minus the prison record, of course. She’s the model of crafty perfection, but honestly she’s in a league of her own when it comes to attention to detail (except when it comes to cheating the stock market). Sometimes I feel like she gives out her craft ideas and recipes because she knows no one else can duplicate them as well. So stop your gloating, Martha, I have brought myself up to your level with these cupcakes. These orange delights are a little bit spicy and are warmth in a mouthful with that kind of gooey, zenlike feeling you get when your tummy is warm and content. It’s a simple recipe for those of you who are directionally challenged, and tastes like pumpkin pie in cupcake form. I changed the recipe to make it a lot simpler for those of us who aren’t Martha. —Danielle Brown

Photos by Hirrah Barlas


Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Fill cupcake tins with your choice of cupcake liners. Melt the butter for the cupcakes in the microwave until completely liquid.



In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. In another mixing bowl, combine the pumpkin purée, both sugars, eggs and butter. Whisk together. Add the liquid mixture to the flour mixture and mix just until combined or until you can’t see any white from the flour mixture. Over-mixing will cause the cupcakes to be dry.

For the Cupcakes

3/4 cup unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks) at room temperature 1 2/3 cups of all-purpose flour 2 teaspoons baking powder 1 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves 1 cup canned 100% pumpkin purée (typically the kind you get to make pumpkin pie but not pie filling) 1 cup packed light-brown sugar 2 large eggs

For the Icing

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter 2 cups confectioners’ sugar 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract 2 tablespoons milk (plus more if needed)

For more cupcake recipes and other ways to celebrate fall check out


Divide the cupcake batter among the cupcake liners, filling only three-fourths of the way full. The batter will be very thick, so don’t be alarmed. Put in the oven to bake. Bake at 325 degrees for 20-25 minutes.


The baking time could be different for everyone, so to test if they’re done, poke a hole with a toothpick. If it comes out clean then they are done.


Let them cool completely before icing.

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rants + raves


Survivor ‘‘W

ere you there?” “Well, I wasn’t there there, but I was, you know, there.” I’m not sure what people want to hear when they ask this question. Probably about how I broke my way onto a rooftop with a machete. They definitely don’t want to hear me stutter into silence. I wasn’t on a rooftop or in the Super Dome as the roof was ripped off by the wind or even in the 20 percent of the city that escaped relatively unharmed. I was at my grandmother’s house in Houston. I had been there for two days at this point, and though I didn’t know it then, I would stay there for the next year. Hurricanes aren’t unusual in my hometown of New Orleans. Several times each summer, my parents, my brother and I packed a weekend’s worth of clothing and drove to Houston for what was basically a mini-vacation. It would have taken a lot to push us into a proper freak-out, and a voice recording Saturday morning, informing us that this evacuation was mandatory (although no public transportation was provided), didn’t quite cut it. I remember wondering, as I dragged my bag onto the porch, completely under the impression that I would be back no later than

Five years after Hurricane Katrina sophomore recounts the storm’s

Monday to a house that was precisely the same, whether an evacuation would be an acceptable excuse to turn in late homework. Two weeks later, however, I was still at my grandmother’s house. As soon as the flood waters settled a month later, my parents went back to the city. They returned to Houston with odd stories — Mexican troops patrolling the streets, a melted piano and a thermostat stuck at 150 degrees Fahrenheit. People painted messages onto refrigerator doors, duct taped them shut and dumped them on the curb. They had become a symbol of the frustration New Orleanians felt, a way to scream at the world, “Look! Look what happened here! This is a developed country, and do you know what this refrigerator is filled with? Rotten food and maggots!” My dad wrote with Play-Doh on ours, “We’ll be back, Katy.” My parents said our house flooded with 10 feet of water and sewage. The only possessions we had were the few things we had taken with us all those weeks before, along with the antiques and photo albums my parents would manage to salvage over their frequent visits to New Orleans the next few months. They fought for hours over the phone and in person with FEMA, the Red Cross and

insurance companies, all the organizations that were supposed to be supporting us but refused to. In the end, it was the local communities of Houston, the churches, synagogues, schools and individuals who helped us, who furnished our apartment and gave us clothes and school supplies. I was enrolled in a new school almost immediately. My parents said they wanted my brother and me back on a routine as soon as possible. At first, we arrived at school late almost every day, having circled, lost, for hours and hours on The Loop. Houston was based on a system of highways, while New Orleans had one-way, potholed streets just wide enough for a single car to pass. The big roads and traffic drove my parents insane. Even though I had been reluctant to go at first, I quickly loved my new school. There were 32 kids in my fifth grade class, which probably sounds small, but my class in New Orleans had only 10. My class hadn’t received a new student in years and pounced on me my first day, introducing themselves. There were a few other families from New Orleans in my school. I didn’t recognize any of them, but my mom claimed I knew two of the girls through synagogue. My parents promised that we would be

Sophomore Selah Maya Zighelboim’s fifth grade at Beth Yeshurun Day School poses for its class photo. Selah Maya sits on the far left in the second row.

Courtesy photo

sent her family packing, devastating effects permanently back in the city by my birthday in December, so, as to not break that promise, we visited during winter break. It was the first time I had been back since Katrina. Piles of trash, moldy furniture and broken appliances covered every street corner. The air was humid and so grimy that I could feel the dirt clinging to my face. The National Guard, Mexican troops or whoever had searched for bodies in the city after Katrina had spray painted numbers on front doors. Those numbers represented how many dead bodies were found in each building. There was a red X on the front of my house and a metal rod sticking out of the key hole. The door wouldn’t open, so we squeezed through the gap between the side and the fence that I used to slip through when I was little. It led to the backyard, so we entered the house through the back. To get into our house, we wore surgical masks. The furniture had been removed, and fuzzy, white mold covered the ceiling, the walls and the corners. Upstairs looked a little better. There wasn’t any mold, and some bare pieces of furniture remained. Back in Houston, the other kids in my grade had begun to discuss plans for secondary schooling. Only two things were clear about my future: we were not returning to New Orleans, and we were not staying in Houston. The students were annoyed by the lack of answers I was able to provide, but it was nothing compared to my frustration when they asked me what middle school I was going to attend. The company my dad worked for ceased to exist after Katrina, and he used it as an excuse to why we couldn’t return. He searched for a job in cities across the country, and every day, our future had a new name: San Jose, Portland, Pittsburgh. My mom had been a professor at Tulane University, and in the post-Katrina chaos, Tulane was thriving. She started travelling back and forth between Houston and New Orleans to continue working. It was by chance that we ended up in Austin. It had just been the city in mind when June came and went, and it was finally time for us to leave Houston. Although we packed for more than a weekend this time, we still left abruptly and silently. Some of my classmates didn’t know where I had gone or even that I wouldn’t be coming back. It’s been five years since Hurricane Katrina, four years since I moved to Austin. The city’s been cleaned up and mostly rebuilt. Every time I visit, I drive by my house. Sometimes, I’ll peek through the window. There’s another family living there now. When I think of home, I see the house where I live and sleep now in Austin, but in some ways, that place still feels like mine. -Selah Maya Zighelboim

Various parts of sophomore Selah Maya Zighelboim’s house, about four months after the hurricane, display the destruction of Katrina. The family sold the house that April.

Courtesy photos

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rants + raves


ll Emily Mitche

Vegging out

Austin dining teems with vegetarian options

Casa de Luz {1701 Toomey Road}

I’m sure that when people think gluten-free, organic and vegan, their initial reaction is to back away and go somewhere else. Though I’ve only been there once, Casa de Luz is now one of my favorite restaurants. You walk through a beautiful, tree-lined pathway with lights gleaming down on your way to the dimly lit, eco-friendly restaurant. Everyone is served the same breakfast, lunch or dinner. The night I went, the dinner was a kale and radish salad, garnished with a creamy sunflower seed dressing, mixed beans with chewy basmati rice and a carrot soup. I also had some crisp tea in a

one-of-a-kind mug. This filling dinner cost only $12. Also, at the entrance, a wide variety of organic, specialized foods is available for purchase. Books on different intriguing topics, such as macrobiotics and how they are important to your body, are also for sale. The atmosphere was very homey and warm — kind of like a living room, with an open kitchen. I will definitely be a frequent customer — the ambiance, the food and the unique people who eat there really make it a great package for vegans, vegetarians or anyone who just wants to enjoy some healthy, tasty food. As I strolled into Veggie Heaven, I realized at once that I didn’t fit in. Guys in short-shorts and girls with tattoos covering their arms were sitting casually in the small room strewn with various Hello Kitty dolls and small Chinese fountains. Cute, colorful t-shirts lay haphazardly tossed in white racks. I took my seat and glanced at the menu, which was basically watermarked paper in a black folder; definitely old school. For an appetizer, my friend and I shared a plate of $4 vegan pot stickers, which were surprisingly tasty. After examining the menu, I decided to order a hefty plate of basil tofu with healthy brown rice for only $6.95. I took a bite and was satisfied. Fried tofu, baby bok choy, cauliflower and other Asian vegetables, perfectly seasoned in a mild basil sauce completed my vegan entrée. The prices at Veggie Heaven are phenomenal. The main dishes all range from $5-$10, and are both nutritious and flavorful. By the end of my evening, I didn’t feel like such an outsider after all.

Beets Café {1611 W. Fifth St.}

Modern, sleek and cool, Beets Café isn’t what comes to mind when one thinks of a vegetarian restaurant. It serves simply raw food — they don’t even have a stove in their kitchen. Creative recipes and inventive dishes make up the menu of raw, vegan delicacies. For an appetizer, I had the curried carrot chips. This healthy alternative to chips and queso is made out of real carrots and a creamy, yet spicy, hummus dip. I decided

to order the special of the day for my entrée, which was a cold “pasta” curry plate. The pasta was really made out of zucchini and, though crunchy at first, was just as filling as the typical white-flour pasta. Still wanting more food, I ordered the curried carrot soup. At first, the cold soup was quite a lip-shocker, but after a few sips, it felt refreshing. The helpful waitress informed me that I just had to try the cheesecake — and my sweet tooth didn’t disagree. It

{1914 Guadalupe St.} Veggie Heaven

really was the best cheesecake I have ever tasted — completed with a fresh raspberry coulis. The cake itself was light and airy, but at the same time rich enough to fulfill my craving for a dessert. Beets Café has many ingredients and books on display for sale for inquisitive customers. This restaurant is a perfect choice for anyone wanting to take a walk on the raw side. —Sofia Mitre

Photos by Laura Brewster

{staff editorial}

Michelle Ling

Stay classy, Westlake It’s time to stop the disrespect “You suck, Lake Travis!” “Walk off the field like a man!” In the hushed stadium, the jeers of a few scattered Westlake fans lingered in the air. The crowd watched as a Lake Travis football player lay on the turf, motionless. A few minutes later, he was carried away on a stretcher. At moments like these, rivalries shouldn’t matter. The need to win should evaporate in the wake of a player’s severe injury, no matter whose team is affected. In any sport, it is respectful to stand in silence as a player is being tended to. But at the recent game against Lake Travis, some Westlake fans felt the urge not only to break this silence, but to shout insults. The fact that sporting events are notorious for rude taunts at inappropriate moments doesn’t change anything. We are responsible for upholding our own standards. However, the stadium isn’t the only arena where students seem to have forgotten how to respect each other. Seniors have always been protective of their parking lot. Armed with window paint and ingenuity, they’ve marked the car of any junior naïve enough to encroach upon their territory. But in the past few years, these pranks have escalated into cruelty. Not content to restrict their vigilante justice to the senior lot, recently several cars parked in the junior lot were painted with


and Emily M

crude, phallic imagery. Others were smeared with Vaseline or splattered with busted ketchup and mustard packets, and last May, at least one car was branded with swastikas. Those students had to drive home with these things plastered across their cars. They had to endure the stares and condemnation of fellow drivers. They had to explain to their parents that their peers had decided that hate crimes and vandalism were a funny way to humiliate underclassmen. It seems that even pep rallies have become a place where it is acceptable to put down those who are different than us. At the Cowboys vs. Indians rally, students decided to include a joke about the Trail of Tears in their skit. Since when has genocide been funny? We’re aware that the actions of these few students do not represent our entire school, but the consequences of these individuals’ actions are far reaching. They affect the degree of trust and comfort we find in our school and create a hostile social and academic environment, weakening our community as a whole. This issue runs deeper than the pranks of a few kids with nothing better to do; it’s a matter of basic human respect and dignity. It is our responsibility to make sure that each person is treated with the courtesy they deserve. All we’re asking, Westlake, is for a little respect.

Stuff we like Gravity


The number of people who don’t carrot all about vegetable related puns has become disturbingly high. The current outlook a-pears bleak, as an increasing number of pun enthusiasts are forgoing common vegetables for their cooler inner-seeded friends — the fruits. Soon, the millions of veggie-punners will dwindle down to the devoted few; their efforts to annoyingly add vegetable puns into conversations will become fruitless. However, the vegetable-punners are the only ones at fault: their puns simply weren’t raisin’ the bar, and the fruit-loving punners jumped at the opporprunity. Fruit puns are likely entering a Golden (and delicious) Age, unpearalleled in recorded history. Though they’ll probably have a grape run, sooner or later their reign will be uprooted by the carnal meatpunners. They’ve always had a beef with them.

Adult Halloween costumes

Michelle Ling

Food puns

Emily Mitchell

Emily Mitc

We were recently reminded that what was once widely considered to be the most comfortable article of clothing one could wear to school is indeed criminal. Our soft, warm and beloved flannel pajama pants have been officially proclaimed as contraband, and there will be no more laissez-faire attitudes toward these pantaloons. To a majority of the student population, this seems a frivolous and unnecessary act that strips us of our comfort and our dignity. However, these students are gravely mistaken. They don’t know the dangers flannel presents to the average teenager. A recent study by the American Flannel Control Board stated that “flannel, and flannel pants especially, can cause a cancerouslike comfort that spreads throughout the body and cause a sensation of heaviness in the eyelids, not unlike that of crack. In addition, recent studies have shown that flannel pants share the addictive qualities of heroin. In fact, teenagers that wore flannel in high school were 18 times more likely to develop a serious addiction later in life.” Many teenagers say that this is a harmless addiction with no serious side effects, but they are wrong, dead wrong. The AFCB report goes on to say that flannel-addicts were 12 times more likely to fall asleep in class and 14 times more likely to be a LAX bro.

“Gravity is still working!” exclaims your friend, who is now on the floor, thanks to poorly placed footing. Maybe we just have clumsy friends, but we’d like to thank the laws of physics for giving us gravity and the opportunity to watch other people fall to the floor as we point and laugh. We would not, however, like to thank physics class for giving us gravity, because it frustrates us and makes us sad. -9.8 m/s2, be gone. Gazelles everywhere can float freely out of their cannons, and not need to worry about running off cliffs. Fly gazelles, fly!

Michelle Ling

Flannel pants

While most children lose the desire to rob every home in the neighborhood of their sugar-packed snacks after about 11 years of age, there are those brave, dedicated people who decide to continue this tradition, even when their voices become a bit too low to allow them to pass as Spongebob Squarepants. Seriously guys, we need to have a talk. You’re giving everybody the creeps, and not in the way you’re supposed to on Halloween. News flash: there are kids out on Halloween night. Ladies, stop dressing like sexy police officers and nurses and bunnies and janitors. You’re not going to turn anyone on when you’re walking amongst a crowd of 8-year-olds. Men, stop dressing as ladies and exposing yourselves. Nobody wants to see a hairy, misshapen stomach bulging out of a bikini or two werewolf legs peeking out of an inch-long skirt. Think of little Susie, who will now never be able to go to the beach again due to her irrational fear of bikinied men, and Billy, who will suffer a massive nosebleed every time he sees a female cop. However, these over-age candy robbers do serve the purpose of keeping kids dreaming and making them believe that you’re never too old to get free candy.

The Featherduster Volume 41 Issue 1  
The Featherduster Volume 41 Issue 1  

Bridging the gap