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Henry M. Gunn High School 780 Arastradero Road Palo Alto, CA 94306 Palo Alto Unified School District



Permit #44 Palo Alto, Calif.

Volume 43


A look at teen drinking Two students, a police officer and a parent give their opinions about the issue PAGE 7 Features

Playwrights take the stage Theater students’ plays to be performed in a day by professional actors PAGE 8 Centerfold

Getting into the holiday spirit

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

780 Arastradero Road, Palo Alto, CA 94306

Lending a helping hand Charity Week opens up season of giving for students, teachers Nina Nielepko Business Manager


he Student Executive Council is hosting Gunn’s first Charity Week to offer students the opportunity to give back to the community. Junior Community Service Chair Leah Rosengaus came up with the idea for Charity Week earlier this year and has been busy planning, organizing and supervising for the past several weeks. “My job as Community Service Chair is to orchestrate the large umbrella of events that community service clubs and individuals can put their own spin on,” Rosengaus said. Gunn’s community service clubs have planned several events that are to take place over the course of the week. The Youth Community Service club (YCS) hosted a giving tree Dec. 8, 11 and 12 through the nonprofit organization The Family Giving Tree. By working with social service agencies, the organization aims to fulfill holiday wishes for children by providing their names, ages and gift wishes.

Over 90 0 Bay Area schools and companies then help distribute the wish cards. Students and staff were encouraged to take a wish card from the tree and buy the gift described on it, to give to needy children or the homeless, according to YCS advisor Diane Ichikawa. Today, the Crafts for a Cause club will sell scarves, jewelry, beanies and holiday ornaments at brunch and lunch on the Quad and at the bike cages after school. “We are donating the money we earn to Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital,” junior club co-president Surya Nagarajan said. “Anything we don’t sell, we also plan to give to the hospital.” “There will be charitable opportunities for students that do not involve fund raising,” Rosengaus said. “It’s really more about taking a few minutes out of your day to do something nice for others in ways other than donating funds. They are small things that will hopefully put a smile on the face of a less fortunate child.”

Photo illustration by Brian Phan and Jennifer Lim

Issue 4

Find out about some of students’ favorite traditions for the winter holidays PAGES 10-11 Entertainment

Gunn winter fashion 2006

Committee finalizes new school calendar

Next year to start a week later Jonathan Gu Associate Features Editor

The Oracle finds the best looks for the cold, upcoming months PAGE 15 Sports

Titans show great strength Varsity boys’ basketball starts off strong season


The administration adopt a new calendar next school year. The District Calendar Committee has tried to address many of the poignant issues that students, teachers and parents have had with the current calendar. In a 3-2 vote, the Palo Alto School Board chose Calendar B, deleting ski week in favor of letting school start a week later, over Calendar A, which proposed to move first semester finals before winter break, keep the early start to school and let school end a week earlier in June. Many parents and teachers have pointed out that Calendar A is directed more towards the students in high school who take many Advanced Placement (AP) classes. However, the District Calendar Committee must address the needs of the rest of the district as well. “Elementary school teachers say that the early start to school is not good for the kids,” District Calendar Committee member Raquel Faustino said. “The middle and elementary school teachers have to prepare their classes much more than do high school teachers as well. Also, having first semester finals after winter break allows students to catch up on school work.” From the high school student’s point of view, winter break has proved to be a troublesome black hole for first semester knowledge. “I had to worry about finals, homework and remembering everything throughout the break,” senior Daniela Mehech said. CALENDAR—p. 4

Broadening horizons

Students help communities in Mexico Nathaniel Eisen Features Editor

In Tijuana, Mexico, disadvantaged families are bonding together to improve their lives. Nineteen Gunn students and three teachers will be a part of the experience from Dec. 14 to 19. They will travel to Tijuana to build houses with families participating in the program Esperanza International. The participating families in Tijuana live without many services such as urban infrastructure and access to credit or employment. “It’s poverty different than what we see in Africa or Bangladesh,” former Executive Director of Esperanza International Philippe Gagne said. “We’re still working with families in low socioeconomic conditions, but it’s not abject poverty in terms of children dying of malnutrition.” However, because Tijuana is a border town with a constant influx of people, its inhabitants face low wages

and a high cost of living, and often live in derelict housing. This is why Esperanza International organizes poor families into neighborhood committees. These families save up money and learn how to keep bank accounts. Esperanza finances the committees so that they can perform socioeconomic studies and loan money. “Our ultimate goal is not merely housing or volunteering but to be able to leave a neighborhood with working mechanisms that belong to and are directed by its families,” Gagne said. Families must attend the weekly committee meetings and save money for at least eight months to qualify for a house-building loan from the committee. The family buys its own supplies and sets to work, making cement bricks to start. Volunteers then often aid them in the actual building of the homes. Interact Club is one source of volunteer labor. This year, the Interact contingent TIJUANA—p. 2

Interested in becoming a volunteer?

For short-term group projects, Esperanza International sends volunteers to build homes and work in communities from three to 10 days in Tijuana, Mexico. Contact Philippe Gagne at for more information.



The Oracle

State, city aim to reduce accidents

Community gathers to fight issue of driving under the influence

Book drive helps Ethiopian youth

This week, the International Missions Club concludes an ongoing book drive for the first children’s library in Ethiopia on Dec. 15. Senior club founders Ana Kostioukova and Shannon Wood started the club to provide relief to impoverished countries after attending a mission trip with the Menlo Park Presbyterian Church in Ethiopia last summer. Both had a moving experience at a small foster home called Abraham’s House, which raises children in a family environment and teaches them skills for later on in life. “One of the ladies who grew up in such a program decided to give back and became a mom in the house, and she was sad that her girls were inspired to read but had few books,” Kostioukova said. This woman started the first childrens’ library in Ethiopia. “We want to donate the books to these children because they have a huge desire to learn, and unfortunately, they lack the resources to accomplish their goals,” Kostioukova said. The club is looking for more donations before winter break. “We expect a lot of books, and they can be any type of book,” Wood said. “We need to spread the word so that more people find out about it.” In the future, the International Missions Club plans on holding a clothing drive for an orphanage in Russia.

Racial Identity talk inspires students Many gathered at Palo Alto High School (Paly) Nov. 16 to attend the sixth annual Racial Identity talk where panel of five guest speakers addressed an audience of about 40 teachers, students and community members. Storyteller Awele Makeba started the presentation. Makeba related the story of her trip down south. “I thought she was very energetic,” senior Alex Chang said. “She used that to convey her message. She got the crowd pretty into it.” Each guestspeaker spoke of rising above hardships. Storyteller De-Angela Burns-Wallace spoke about how small things could change someone’s life. In Wallace’s acceptance letter from Stanford, someone wrote a note saying, “All your family’s dreams will come true here.” It was that very note that prompted her to move far away from the comfort of her home and take risks. “Her story was personal and I could relate,” Chang said. “It was pretty heroic of her.” Present at the talk were three Gunn facilitators: seniors Alex Chang and Gabby Ng and junior Dezmon Hunter. Their job was to keep the topic of discussion focused by asking questions and keeping track of time. Later in the evening, the audience separated into three groups and talked about race and culture. “In the break-up session, there was a small group so that you could share stories,” Chang said. “A lot of things that you know are in the back of your head just spring into actions. It’s like a wake-up call.” Chang recommends attending this talk in the future. “As students, we can make a lot of change,” he said. “We’re pretty influential.”

SASA holds cultural Bhangra dance The South Asian Student Association (SASA) hosted the Bhangra Blowout Dec. 8 in hopes of introducing students to traditional Indian music and dancing. After noticing that there would be one fewer dance this school year, SASA officials decided to host one as a fundraising event. “The winter dance got cancelled and so we thought it would be a good idea to use this as an opportunity to introduce students at Gunn to a more cultural type of dancing,” senior club vice president Haley Knaap said. After realizing students enjoyed their performance of Bhangra, a style of traditional Indian dancing from the region of Punjab, at International Week last April, SASA officials thought it would be a good idea to let their peers dance to a different type of music. “It’s exciting because before we only had food sales and movie nights,” senior club president Akila Subramanian said. “The dance is a good way to let students be in on the fun and be more part of the culture.” The dance, held in the Student Activity Center, was chaperoned by club advisor Jessie Hawkins and seven other teachers. It was limited to 150 people due to the smaller space. All of the money raised went to the Red Cross. “The nice thing about SASA is that it allows us to explore a rich, diverse, fascinating culture while we still make charitable contributions to people all over the world,” Hawkins said. SASA will continue to host events throughout the school year. “I’m not sure if we’ll be holding another dance,” Subramanian said. “But we’ll be having food sales and performances, so SASA will definitely be doing things around Gunn.” —Compiled by Libby Craig, Fi Kaziand Stéphanie Keller-Busque

Meilin Luh

Moses Lai

Circulation Manager


Beginning Jul. 1, 2008, Californians will be prohibited from using handheld cell phones while driving. The new law, introduced by State Senator Joe Simitian and signed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger on Sept. 28, aims to improve traffic safety by requiring drivers to have both hands on the wheel at all times. Drivers who use handheld cell phones while driving will be fined $20 for the first offense and $50 for subsequent offenses. The law will remain until Jul. 1, 2011, unless renewed. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, California is the fifth state to have enacted a jurisdictionwide ban on driving while talking on a handheld cellular phone. Though drivers may use hand-free devices (earpiece or speaker) or make an emergency call, cell phones are said to be the number one cause of distracted-driving accidents. “It’s a great move,” Principal Noreen Likins said. “For Britain and most of Europe, handheld devices are already illegal.” Senior Jonathan Guy, a member of Palo Alto YMCA’s Youth and Government (Y & G) program, which created six bills to present to the City Council, recently sponsored a speeding ticket bill written by Castilleja junior Lauren Augustine. The bill suggests that speeding fines should be proportional to a person’s income and will be taken to Sacramento when the Y & G members present their two chosen bills to the state Senate. If the speeding ticket bill passes, it will then be brought to the Senate in Washington, D.C. “If [the bill] passes, the ‘taxation’ on drivers will be a drastic change,” Likins said. “As of now, speeding tickets are paid in proportion to the speed at which the ticket was given for.”

The administration and the Parent Teacher Student Association helped organize a Parent Education night at Gunn Dec. 7 to inform parents and students about the consequences of drinking, specifically while driving. A related community-wide discussion was held Nov. 30 at the Lucie Stern Ballroom with a turnout of over 100 people. Although most of the students at Palo Alto Unified School District do not drink and drive, many still believe that it still is a problem that has to be addressed. “I do think that teen drinking is an issue in Palo Alto, particularly drinking and driving,” Director of Parent Ed Carolyn Williams said. “Anything that we can do to raise both parents’ and students’ awareness about modifying behavior in order to reduce the chances of a student either driving after having a drink or getting into a car with someone who has been drinking is important.” The discussions included presentations by the Palo Alto Drug and Alcohol Committee, including the Palo Alto Police Departement and Stanford University Medical Center, that analyzed the data about teen drinking and possible solutions like adopting an ordinance to restrict the number minors allowed in a room with alcohol. According to the Most of Us survey, 227 students drink alcohol once a week and over 1000 have been in a car with a driver under the influence of alcohol. “We hope the Parent Education night will be able to open up com mun ication between parents and their children,” Assistant Principal Kim Cowell said. “Information is power and if parents have that information then they have the tools to be able to stop their children from Lucy Li drinking.”

Open Mic raises funds for Tijuana

Christopher Wu

English teacher Mark Hernandez performs at the Open Mic Night.

n Tijuana, from page 1 will be led by past participants seniors John Enos, club president Haley Perkins and junior Kelsey Feeley. They will be accompanied by science teachers Lisa Wu and Josh Bloom and P.E. teacher Kim Sabbag, as well as 16 other students. During their stay in Mexico, students and staff will wake up at 8 a.m., go to their work site and build houses. In previous years they have worked with one family for nearly the whole stay. When the Gunn crew stops working at around 3 p.m. they have time to play soccer, rest or explore. Perkins most enjoyed interacting with the families on the trip last year. “It was cool to get the whole experience,” she said. “We weren’t just American kids in Tijuana, we were seeing who we were building for.” Perkins said that the residents of Tijuana were appreciative of the students’ efforts last year. Volunteers pay a program fee, much of which goes into the neighborhood committee’s account, and so may

later be given as loans to families. Gagne said that the people in Tijuana are very giving themselves. “Families are very warm, accepting and sharing,” he said. “They will share whatever is on the table with whoever is there. A lot of teenagers have never experienced that attitude of free-sharing.” The participants planned to fundraise through a carwash Nov. 18 at the 76 Gas Station at El Camino and Los Altos, but it was cancelled due to the shooting at Palo Alto Bowl across the street. They raised close to $1,000 at an Open Mic Night on Nov. 21, where performers included past and present Gunn students and teachers. They received an additional $1,000 in a grant from the Rotary Club. The money will defray the cost of the program fee for participants. Wu thinks that the trip to Tijuana instills a love of community service in students. “Once someone goes, they’ll want to go again and again, or at least continue doing community service any way [he or she] can,” she said.


Wednesday, December 13, 2006




of students always procrastinate for projects or homework

of students usually procrastinate


of students never procrastinate

Students, parents discuss negative effects of pressure Caroline Hodge Forum Editor

Stress presentation piques student, school interest


of students do not cram (study last minute) for tests

Stéphanie Keller-Busque News Editor

After her presentation at Nov. 14’s assembly, Stressed Out Students (SOS) project director Denise Pope left students with a new perspective on stress to let them reevaluate the role it plays in their lives. Sophomore Mariah Cannon believes that Pope’s presentation made interesting remarks but left many questions unanswered. “I thought she had a good point about not stressing yourself out to the point where it’s affecting your health and your sleep, but I thought she could have done a better job giving us practical solutions instead of just preaching to us,” Cannon said. Junior Max Keeler was also interested in Pope’s presentation. “Everyone tells us that we have to try really hard in school, get all As because Bs are bad and to get into a good college or else you’re a failure, but [Pope] gave us a totally new perspective,” Keeler said. “I agreed with pretty much all she said, but I don’t agree about not caring what college you go to. It changes things if you go to a prestigious college because then you can make a stronger reputation and you can make relationships with successful people.” Freshman Hayley Geiselhart believes that both teachers and parents have to help students in order for them to feel less stress. “I think a lot of the work students do is just to please teachers,” Geiselhart said. “Teachers could be less strict so that students can loosen up and have more fun in class. Parents should let their kids take the classes they want to take but still keep an eye on them to make sure they’re not overworking themselves or not liking what they’re doing.” Like Geiselhart, senior Eric Seilhamer believes that the assembly was addressed to the wrong audience. “I think the message she was sending was really important but it should have been directed more towards the parents and teachers, not the students,” Seilhamer said. “Students don’t have the ability to moderate the amount of homework they are assigned or change when homework is due. I’d say about 35.64 percent of stress comes from personal expectation and the fact that many Gunn students are extremely competitive when it comes to grades.” Geiselhart thought that one of the most intriguing parts of the assembly was seeing how students stress to the point where they put their health at risk. “It was really interesting to hear about what can happen to kids our age now, like the girl in [Pope’s] experiment who kept on pushing herself even though she knew it was bad for her health,” Geiselhart said.


of students sometimes cram for tests


of students frequently cram for tests


of students always cram for tests

On Nov. 29, students and parents came together at the Mitchell Park Community Center to discuss the academic pressure that high school students face today. The Palo Alto Youth Council, a group of teens that represent four local high schools, hosted the seminar entitled “Under Pressure? It’s Time to Talk.” The City of Palo Alto Recreation Department and Adolescent Counseling Services (ACS) helped sponsor the event. Philippe Rey, Executive Director of ACS and keynote speaker for the event, began by giving a speech about the technological and societal factors that contribute to academic pressure. Rey attributed student stress in part to changes in family structure and recent technological advances like iPods and the Internet. These issues contribute to the psychological and physical isolation many adolescents feel, further compounding the problem. To alleviate academic pressure Rey recommended that students and parents work together to increase communication. Rey also asked a pointed question to the parents in the audience. “Is it your need or your child’s need to be successful in everything they attempt?” Rey emphasized that parents often push their own aspirations on their children, which can cause the student undue stress. “It’s okay if your kid doesn’t go to Harvard,” he said. Parents and counselors broke into groups and talked about how parents and students should discuss the child’s school day. “My parents always go ‘How was that test?’ but I’d rather hear ‘What did you learn today?’” junior Youth Council member Molly Kawahata said. Pam Fortune, parent of a Paly junior, found it useful to hear the opinions of other teenagers besides her son. “I think I got some insight into what [students] are thinking: what they do and don’t want to hear,” she said. Fortune said that as a result of the seminar, she would approach her s o n d i f fe rently when she speaks to him about his day at school. Kim Parker, the staff advisor to the Youth Council, concluded the seminar with a brief speech. “Tonight was just meant to be the beginning of a dialogue,” she said. “Our hope is that you can go home and continue the conversation.”


of students get 9 hours of sleep


of students get fewer than 8 hours of sleep


of students get 8 hours of sleep

90 students surveyed Graphics by Brian Phan and Julius Tarng



The Oracle

Finals to remain after winter break n Calendar, from page 1 The community did not appreciate ski week. “It made school last longer and also provided little time to accomplish anything,” junior Vera Yu said. “Teachers still assigned an equal amount of homework proportional to the break.” Although other high schools in the Bay Area such as Mountain View High School and Aragon High School have their finals before winter break, the committee decided that moving first semester finals before the break would have created a heavy imbalance between the two semesters. With Calendar A, the second semester would have 12 more school days than the first. If first semester finals were held before winter break, they would also be in conflict with the college application process. Seniors work on their applications during this time, and “teachers would have to write recommendation letters on top of grading finals over winter break,” Faustino said.

Teacher Tape-Up fundraiser a success Alex Tom

Circulation Manager

On Nov. 21, the Gunn Key Club hosted a Teacher TapeUp fundraiser, in which four teachers who were asked by Key Club allowed themselves to be taped up to pillars in front of the Student Activities Center (SAC). The teachers stood on chairs in front of the SAC pillars while students taped them to the building. At the end of lunch, the chairs were pulled out from under the teachers. “This event is something we came up with a couple years ago and it has been a big hit every time for teachers and students,” senior Key Club Human Relations Chair Gabby Ng said. After receiving approval for the event from the Student Executive Council, Key Club chose teachers Mark Hernandez, Dave Deggeller, Claudia Winkler and Lisa Wu as participants. The club then publicized the event with posters and an announcement on the Early Morning Update. The event was fun for the crowd. “It was a really fun fundraiser, considering you get to tape your teacher to a pole in front of the whole quad,” senior Key Club member Jessica Chan said.

Jennifer Lim

Science teacher Lisa Wu gets taped to a pole at the Key Club’s Teacher Tape-Up fundraiser event on the Quad. Key Club raised about $80 from the sale of one-yard strips of tape, which sold for 25 cents each. “The project was not so much to raise a lot of money but for publicity so we can get more volunteers for other projects in the future,” Ng said. “The event was a huge success; a lot of people showed up and enough tape was sold to stick all the teachers to the poles.”

Dropping participation for STAR test leads to new requirements

New efforts will compel all juniors in Advanced Placement classes to take annual test Libby Craig Associate Sports Editor

In the 2007-2008 school year, all juniors taking Advanced Placement (AP) courses will be required to take the Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) due to an apparent lack of participation and effort once students reach the 11th grade.

According to the “No Child Left Behind” program, 95 percent of students in each grade must take the STAR test. Last year, 96 percent of freshmen and 94 percent of sophomores took the STAR test, but only 88 percent of juniors participated. “We’re trying to create an incentive for students to show up and try on the test,” Principal Noreen Likins said.

Not only was the target number of students not reached, but 15 percent of juniors fell into the far below basic category, while only 4 percent of freshmen and sophomores tested into the same. These results indicate many students are indifferent to the test. “Most people don’t take it that seriously,” junior Chris Yu said. “It seems like there’s no reason to take it.”

However, Gunn’s future could be grim if students keep being excused from the test. “If in two consecutive years we don’t meet targets, the government can take over,” Likins said. “While this would not won’t impact individual students immediately or directly, it would impact the school and what we can do.” If this did happen, the school would not receive as much money.

Previously, some students received exemption from the test with parents’ permission or simply did not show up on the test days. “We’re trying arrange things so there is no reason to be exempt,” Likins said. “Tests are given during class time, they require no preparation, are not difficult for most students and we just want them to turn up and do their best.”


Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Field trips promote learning


School outings recreational, yet educational


ield trips are a rare occurrence at Gunn—teachers seldom plan them since many students do not attend, for fear of missing material covered in their other classes. However, field trips are valuable learning experiences and deserve their place in the Gunn curriculum. Furthermore, field trips can relieve student stress and provide a break from Gunn’s high-pressure atmosphere. The administration needs to encourage teachers to make field trips more frequent and more compatible with students’ workloads. On the rare occasion that teachers do schedule field trips, not all students attend, usually because they are unsure if they will be able to make up all the work they will miss. If a student misses just one day of school, he or she often must spend an entire day learning the material he missed. Gunn considers field trips as something more for fun than for learning, and not considered to be necessary parts of the learning experience. Professionals, however, make the opposite claim. The Buddy Project, an educational resources program, states on its web site (www., that “the field trip is another tool to guide students along in constructing meaning from fact.” Lessons from books and lectures in the classroom come to life during field trips. Experiencing the material in new ways helps knowledge sink into student minds. Not everyone learns well from lectures and notes, and field trips provide alternative learning opportunities for these individuals. In addition, field trips may kindle a student’s interest in a certain subject area that he previously viewed as boring. Field trips also allow students to gain insight into how material learned in class be applied in real life and lead to a career.

Julius Tarng

Field trips can enforce lessons learned in many subject areas. Art students visiting museums could get inspiration for their works. Music classes could attend concerts given by professional musicians to gain insight and

The Opinion of The Oracle

appreciation of the art. Biology students could benefit greatly by experiencing the actual habitats and ecosystems that they study. Seeing legislative bodies in action could cement government students’ understanding of political workings. Some may argue that if field trips became more common, students would attend them as an excuse to miss other

classes. Even so, students will still be experiencing an intellectual concept firsthand versus passively sitting in a classroom daydreaming. Gunn should implement measures in order to make field trips a more feasible learning tool. The administration should excuse students from assignments missed during field trips so that students are not overwhelmed with makeup work when they return. The administration should also encourage teachers to plan field trips for their students. Teachers may consider holding field trips on minimum days, so that students will miss less material in their other classes. Field trips are valuable learning tools; teachers and administrators should look to them to decrease student stress, increase enthusiasm and cement concepts learned in the classroom. —Unsigned editorials represent the majority opinion of the staff (in agreement: 28; opposed: 4).

Choose public transportation over ‘status’ Dezmon Hunter Showing your independence by driving to school with a Starbucks in your hand is a part of our school culture. After putting up with the bus, shuttle or carpooling for two years, many students are excited to have the freedom to drive themselves to school. Is that the kind of attitude teenagers should have, though?

There is nothing wrong with taking public transportation or carpooling with friends, yet many shun these methods of transportation once they get their driver’s licenses. Many students fail to realize that driving to school is more a status symbol than a necessity. The freedom to go sleep at home for an hour during a prep or to go out to lunch all thanks to that car is just a show of status. By driving around when it is not 100 percent necessary, you’re not proving your independence to anybody. Students involved in sports or extracurricular activities

Many thanks to our ... n Patrons ($75+) Martha Amram, Richard & Angela Craig, Carla Wray & Caleb Hauser, Robert Keller, Chisoon Lee, Bill & Cindy Ruehl, Bryan Ziebelman

often have to stay late and can drive themselves if necessary. For everyone else, there is public transportation. However, Palo Alto should look into adding more buses and shuttles to the system for better service. There is no reason why people who live within walking distance from school should drive. If you pass a bus that you could be taking to school when you drive in your car every day, all you’re doing is living up to the status quo. Instead, do what’s right for our environment and your pocket. Gas prices may have decreased, but it’s still not cheap, and global

n Supporters ($60) Andre Berenfield, Ellen & Marc Brown, Marie-Cristina Busque, Angela & Rich Craig, Joanne & Robert Hagmann, The Hollar Family, Adriane Leveen & Arnie Eisen, Mike & Ellen Wallau, Peggy & Frank Wiley, Stephanie Yoon, Sutyen Zalawadia

warming is still an issue. So for those too cool to walk seven blocks to school, make your own statement by walking with a group of your friends like you used to in middle school. To the folks who live right in front of a bus stop and who go home right after school, realize that it’s okay to be a loner for 20 minutes and help our environment a little. Let’s stop letting others’ social pressures dictate how we get places and start taking advantage of public transportation. —Hunter, a junior, is a reporter and Graphics artist.

n December production dinner sponsors: Angela & Rich Craig, Lieu Nguyen, Virginia Ouyang, Fang Tsao

We greatly appreciate your support!

Lauding a gardener, disparaging spiders? Your inspiring story on the life of avid gardener Chandara Vinoukkun testified to the greatness of this nation of immigrants—as a sanctuary for the oppressed throughout today’s troubled world. Clearly, in this community of extraordinary academic abilities, Mr. Vinoukkun is a person of extraordinary courage. His optimistic outlook on life reminds all of us to appreciate and love, and for Americans, as individuals and as a nation, to be a force for positive change. But what irony! Accompanying this celebration of life, a gleeful celebration of death can be found in the very same issue of The Oracle (“Top Ten Most Efficient Ways to Kill a Spider”). While it may have been intended as a joke, I, for one, would like you to know that the piece is not funny. As a passionate biology student, I found your wanton disregard for life (“Eat it. You may want to pour some chocolate on it first,” “remove the spider’s legs one by one”) rather revolting. Did you know that spider venom may prevent brain damage in stroke victims? Or that in addition to preying on disease-carrying insects, spiders produce silk that is so light yet strong that it is being researched for the production of BioSteel for use in the industrial, military and medical fields? I am hopeful that this article was an attempt at humor, not sadism. I suggest The Oracle learn more about spiders and their benefits to society, for the sake of knowledge and perhaps a little more appreciation for our fascinating arachnid friends. —Junior Heming Yip

Is it ethical to have Christmas decorations around school, given that Christmas is a secular holiday and the Santa Claus figure has pagan origins, but also given that students of other religions may still perceive those decorations as favoring Christianity? —Kevin Phan (12) Christmas is a religious holiday. Despite supposed secularization of Christmas by commercial industry, it retains its Christian origins. The Santa Claus figure has both Christian and pagan origins but is more closely associated with Christmas than pagan winter holidays. The name “Santa Claus” derives from “sinterklass,” the Dutch name for a mythical character based on Saint Nicholas, a Christian figure. Because Santa Claus has religious connotations, public schools cannot display the figure without violating the First Amendment, which mandates the separation of church and state. There are exceptions: in language classes, holiday decorations specific to one religion are acceptable, as teaching about a nation’s particular religion will give students a more complete picture of a culture. While a Santa Claus decoration may seem like a harmless show of holiday cheer, its display not only offends other students, but also violates a basic principle of our country. Send your ethics quandaries and comments to —Hodge, a junior, is a Forum editor.



The Oracle

The Oracle 780 Arastradero Rd Palo Alto, CA 94306 (650) 354-8238

Editorial Board

Editor-in-Chief Gea Kang Senior Managing Lauren Krensky, Dan Li News Stéphanie Keller-Busque, Alex Lee,Vivien Tsao (associate) Forum Caroline Hodge, Shiv Kachru, Andrea Yung (associate) Features Nathaniel Eisen, Michelle Fang, Jonathan Gu (associate)

Dezmon Hunter

Single-sex classes reinforce gender stereotypes

Mixed gender classes present wider range of perspectives, understanding

Centerfold Thomas Bao, Sasha Guttentag Entertainment Ana Kostioukova, Stephen Salazar, Alex Rasgon (associate) Sports Eric Johnston, Adrienne Nguyen, Libby Craig (associate) Photography Jennifer Lim, Christopher Wu Graphics Julius Tarng Technical Alex Lee, Dan Li Staff

Business Nina Nielepko Circulation Meilin Luh, Alex Tom

Fi Kazi For the past two years, the Bush administration has been pushing for same-sex classes to be available in public schools. In October, the Department of Education obtained $3 million in grants to begin to institute single-gender classes in schools. The proposition states that in order to offer same-sex classes, another coed class of equal quality must be available. Though the proposition seems fair at arm’s length, holding it close up reveals a plethora of faults. Same-sex classes would promote an unrealistic environment, create cliques, reinforce gender stereotypes and place a moratorium on understanding of the other gender’s psyche. Same-sex classes may offer an environment free of intimidating competition from the other sex. However, competition is ubiquitous outside of school, whether it is over a job, a relationship or an extracurricular activity. In each case, one

Dezmon Hunter, Lucy Li, Brian Phan

Adviser Kristy Garcia The Oracle is published by and for the students of Henry M. Gunn Senior High School. The unsigned editorials that appear in this publication represent the majority opinion of the editorial staff and The Oracle's commitment to promoting students' rights. The Oracle strongly encourages and prints signed Letters to the Editor. Please include your name, grade and contact information should you choose to write one. Letters may be edited to meet space requirements and the writer is solely responsible for the accuracy of the content. Letters to the editor and ideas for coverage may be sent to These letters and ideas need not be from current students. The Oracle publishes 10 issues annually. Subscriptions are $40/year.

degree, thus fortifying the idea that males are aggressive and uncaring and that females are dramatic and emotional. Once members of a particular gender adopt even a small hint of a stereotype, they may begin to show contempt for those of the opposite gender. Most importantly, single-gender settings hinder the learning experience. Separate definitely does not mean equal. In a class dominated by girls, the opinions on topics may not be varied as it would be if boys participated in the debates as well. Having a mix of genders in the classroom provides a fresh look at issues and stimulates conversations. Even though students may occasionally be intimidated by the other gender’s opinions, it is vital for a student to explore and see all others’ perspectives in order to grow as a person. Furthermore, males and females see things differently; by presenting this difference in viewpoints, the two genders will be able to understand each other better. Students will have a broader view on events if the class is a microcosm of the world. And the last time I checked, the world is not of one gender. —Kazi, a senior, is a reporter.

Two-party system superior to parliamentary one Plurality prevents radical parties from seizing representation in legislature

Reporters Boris Burkov, Dezmon Hunter, Fi Kazi, Moses Lai

Graphics Artists

will inevitably be exposed to the opposite gender. If students attend same-sex classes, they will be unprepared for gender-based competition in the real world. Same-sex classes will not adequately prepare students to meet the standards and demands that will be placed on them once they graduate from school. Another problem with same-sex classes and schools is that they tend to foster exclusive social groups that can be damaging to a student’s selfconfidence. When looking at an all-girls‘ school, one can easily see a major problem developing. Cliques are very common in high schools, especially among female students. Peer pressure can place excessive importance on belonging in a group, and a child might feel obligated to act a certain way to fit in. Schools should not send the message that individuality must be shunned in order to melt into the crowd. Furthermore, competition between cliques is common; dislike and apprehension between cliques could set the girls farther apart from each other. Same-sex classes also reinforce gender stereotypes. Stereotypes are created when the two groups are unfamiliar with each other. Separating males and females in an educational setting could highlight gender differences to a greater

Boris Burkov Whenever there is an election, questions arise about the system of government our nation employs. For instance, after the 2000 election, the electoral college came under some scrutiny after Gore failed to win the election with a majority of the popular vote. Though this recent election was not presidential, it is natural to harbor doubts about our system of representative government. In America, a winner-takes-all system decides every election, but many feel that a system of proportional representation, such as France’s, is fairer. Despite these doubts, our current winner-takes-all system is superior. The primary reason for the superiority of our system is that it weeds out radical candidates. A candidate

must win a majority of the votes to take the election and therefore must cater to a large group of people, which in most cases results in successful candidates leaning closer to the center. A recent illustration of this was Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger’s victory over Democrat Phil Angelides in the California gubernatorial election. Schwarzenegger secured victory by crossing party lines and supporting policies for both parties, winning over the more extreme Angelides. On the other hand, in a system of proportional representation, a party needs only to snatch a percentage of the vote to take a few seats, and it is not hard to imagine a radical party with a strong, but non-majority following grabbing 20 percent of the seats, making them a force to be reckoned with, such as the fascist and racist Front Nationale holding around ten seats in France’s parliament. In America’s system, this radical party would never have a chance unless it made an effort to reconcile itself with the public. When people derail the win-

ner-takes-all system, the usual complaint is that it creates a system where only members of a major party can take power and that the only policy that ever receives attention is one of the major party’s platforms. However, especially in the House of Representatives, elected officials truly represent their constituents because if they don’t keep local interests in mind they cannot hope to be re-elected. Also, there has always been several strong independent candidates and office holders; most recently reelected was Sen. Joe Liebermann, who was unable to run as a Democrat because he was not chosen by that party’s primary. In contrast, in the proportional system, each party lays out the candidates it will put into office, and after the people vote, a portion of those selected candidates take office. As a result, the party is in much greater control of candidate selection. This results in parliament being full of yes-men to the party leaders. Every seat becomes a reward to a loyal party member instead of a reward for

the person best fit to represent his constituents. Also, a candidate must be a member of one of the parties in order to run, since he has to be on some party’s docket. A talented independent cannot even run. Though it may seem unfair that to have any chance of political success in America, one must subscribe oneself to one of the two major parties, the result in the end is preferred to a system where small parties have more influence. Because this system promotes moderate centric leaders, instead of giving extremists a chance to influence policy making while still giving independent candidates a fair chance to run and win, it results in better legislators to run the nation. Additionally, the barriers it seems to impose are even worse in different systems. Though there are may be improvements to make with America’s system of choosing its government, this is one system we would do well to retain. —Burkov, a junior, is a reporter.


Wednesday, December 13, 2006


Andrea Yung


hough alcohol is illegal for those under 21, some teens will inevitably still drink. Many students drink alcohol when they hold or attend parties when parents are absent. Because of this lack of supervision, there have been many cases where teens have driven under the influence and gotten into fatal accidents. Though many adults know that underage drinking is illegal, they have been taking the wrong approach in strictly enforcing the law. Parents need to realize that their children may drink and the best way to protect them is to supervise them. Parties do not need to be banned. However, stricter parental supervision is necessary to guarantee the safety of teen parties, especially those with alcohol. Parents should allow their kids to invite only a number of people that will be controllable; the kids should also be familiar with everyone they invite. The party should be kept private to ensure that strangers do not crash the party. If alcohol is involved, parents can control the amount the kids drink, reducing the risks of alcohol poisoning. Also, parents can ensure

that no inebriated guests drive home by taking partygoers’ keys and encouraging them to spend the night. This would be especially effective if all guests drink, because no one else would be able to stop a drunk guest from driving him or herself home. Furthermore, if parents are present, students will be more aware of their limits and will be more likely to drink responsibly. By introducing alcohol to children, parents can show their children that alcohol is not as much of a taboo as it may seem to be, downplaying the image that alcohol is a “forbidden” beverage and reducing the number of people who drink extreme amounts as a sign of independence or rebellion. Unfortunately, there is no foolproof method that can prevent some underage teens from drinking. The debate that parents face now is how to deal with them. The Palo Alto police have proposed an ordinance that would fine any parents hosting a teen party with alcohol involved. But what about those parties held in the parents’ absence, where alcohol is served without adult supervision? These parties are typically more out-of-control and dangerous than those with parents present, especially at the end of the party, where intoxicated guests sometimes foolishly drive home drunk. With parents present, they can prevent any accidents—or even fatalities—caused by drunk driving. Instead of punishing them, we should acknowledge those brave parents’ attempts to tame underage drinking. —Yung, a junior, is the associate Forum editor.

The Oracle interviewed Public Safety Dispatch Officer Dan Wright to find out one local law enforcement’s perspective on underage drinking. What is your opinion about teen drinking?

A: Teen drinking is obviously a very serious issue. A lot of kids at these parties have no idea how much alcohol they can handle, and end up overdosing.  But I would say the biggest problem isn’t teens overdosing as much as it is when they start driving drunk.  About 6,000 teens die every year from drunk driving. What is typical protocol when you get to a teen drinking party?

A: Well, first, officers give citations to any teen with a bloodalcohol content above zero. The kids are then sent to a juvenile intake department, where a judge will determine whether the case will be handled with an adjudicatory hearing, which is a formal hearing, or an informal hearing.  If the case is handled informally, the kids are usually put on probation or the case is just dismissed outright.  If it is handled formally, penalties can be as mild as community service or as severe are commitment to a residential facility.  The parents of the child hosting the party can be either fined or imprisoned, since they are in charge of all the minors at the party.



The Oracle looks at the issue from student, parent and police perspectives

Alex Rasgon


s drunk driving among teens becomes a more prevalent issue in our community, parents are always seeking ways to protect their children from the dangers incurred in whatever way possible. Some parents have turned to a new way to ensure that their children do not drive when they are drunk: hosting parties with alcohol or their children and prohibiting the guests from driving. Not only is this practice illegal, it is an ineffective countermeasure against one of the leading causes of death among teenagers: drunk driving accidents. The law clearly prohibits anyone under the age of 21 from drinking alcoholic beverages. It also forbids adults from selling or distributing alcohol to these minors. Parents are blatantly violating the law by hosting parties with alcohol for their underage children. What kind of an example does a parent set by breaking the law? Furthermore, we cannot simply say that kids will always drink. If teenagers choose to break the law, then they do so

at their own risk. Just because something is common does not make it legal. Parents hosting parties is not the solution to this problem. Furthermore, in many cases, parents can be very ineffective administrators in their own homes, so why would they be any better at hosting a party where teenagers will be rowdy and difficult to control? A parent’s job while hosting a party should be to make sure that nobody has access to their keys or any dangerous objects. However, how can a parent who can barely control his or her own child possibly control 30 or 40 drunk teenagers who have diminished judgment, and are very likely to engage in violence and behave irrationally? Angry guests looking for their keys may even physically harm the parents hosting the party. Furthermore, parents run the risk of being arrested and fined by police. Although many advocates for parents hosting parties for their kids assume that teenagers’ lives would be less at risk, this is not the case. If a drunk 16-year-old really wants to drive home drunk, one parent in his 40s or 50s would not be able to stop him. In theory, parents hosting parties may seem like a viable way of preventing drunk driving, but the reality is that parents have little control over inebriated teenagers, even if they are in a so-called “safe” environment. —Rasgon, a junior, is the associate Entertainment editor.

What is your opinion on parents hosting parties? A: I would rather have kids not drink at all, but if they have to

drink, then I would rather have a responsible adult around to make sure no kid drinks and then drives.

Around how many complaints about teen drinking do you get each year from disgruntled neighbors?

A: I don’t know an exact number, but around the holiday times like spring break and winter break, the numbers are fairly high. Neighbors usually complain about the noise, and it’s usually when we arrive that we find kids with alcohol.

How do you plan to solve this problem? A: In my opinion, I would say that the penalties for underage

drinking are too light. Kids need to understand that alcohol is a drug and can be very dangerous even in small amounts, especially when they are driving.  If the penalties were harder, the amount of teen drinking would definitely go down.

—Compiled by Shiv Kachru

Teen drinking is all around us—and it is an enormous problem. The statistics are chilling: Teens who begin drinking before age 15 are four times more likely to become alcoholics than those who begin at age 21. Overall, four out of five students experiment with drinking by the end of high school. Trying to stop this is futile. Parents lack the billiondollar budgets to challenge the companies that sell kids alcohol. Still, it is up to us to create a safer society. Many teens will drink. The question is how to best deal with it. All parents should let their children know where they stand on the drinking issue and be receptive to their teen’s input. Here is what our family deems most important: • If you drink, never drive. If you need a ride home from where you have been drinking, ask a sober friend or a parent, call Safe Ride or a taxi. Our agreement is “any time—day or night.” • Never get in a car with someone who has been drinking or doing drugs. There is always a safer alternative. Parents: Once this dialogue is established, it is your duty to pay for your child’s transportation and support his or her decisions. A child’s return home without the car may not warm your heart, as it is an admission of drinking. However, it’s an affirmation that your child is acting responsibly. After the absolutes come stick ier issues, such as whether to allow drinking in the house. Some say that if teens will drink anyway, they should do so under parents’ watchful eyes. Others counter that parents must never condone something so harmful. If they elect to allow drinking at home, they should make it part of—and not the justification for—the evening. Teen drinking is a forbidden fruit, and forbidden fruit will always have enormous pull. But as parents, one of the steps we can take is to help come up with a family policy that both discourages drinking and makes sense to all parties. —M.B.G. is a Gunn parent.



The Oracle

Caroline Hodge


Forum Editor

ost theater students can expect to act in a play, but few have the opportunity to write one, let alone have it performed by professional actors. For eight lucky Theater 3/4 students, this is a reality, thanks to TheatreWorks’ outreach program “Students Speak: The Playwright’s Project.” The 28 students had four weeks to write a one-act play that was fewer than 30 minutes long. A three-member panel

Most students incorporated at least some autobiographical elements into their work, either accidentally or on purpose. After all, “the best plays and the best ideas come from something that you have experienced in the past,” according to senior María Cristina Lalonde. Lalonde’s play drew upon her own experiences, coupling memories of her years in a Catholic girls’ school with a cynical voice inspired by best-selling author David Sedaris. “Sermon” is a ten-minute monologue given by a dishonest preacher to his new congregation in New Mexico. “I was trying

Hempstead incorporated aspects of her family members and friends into the play’s characters without even noticing it. “I started listening to people’s conversations, especially my family’s conversations, and putting little bits of them into the play,” she said. “It wasn’t on purpose; it just sort of happened.” Junior Shani Chabansky found herself doing the same thing. “If somebody said something that sort of seemed like one of the characters, I would work that in,” she said. Chabansky’s play “Stretch Marks” deals with the emotional impact of long distance relationships and is based loosely upon the Death Cab for Cutie album Transatlanticism, released in 2003. The playwrights know that stage dialogue is not the same as everyday dialogue. “You can’t have ‘like’ in every other sentence even though that’s how people speak,” Chabansky said. Senior Maggie Cole was inspired by Neil Simon, author of “The Odd Couple,” to

Hopefully, having professional actors perform the staged readings helped to effectively convey the authors’ messages. Some playwrights, however, were apprehensive about seeing someone else’s interpretation of their work. Although the students had a few hours to work with the professional directors and actors, they took somewhat of a backseat role in the process. “I know the actors will be really capable and the director will be great but I’m just nervous to see how they’re going to interpret it because I know it will be different than how it is in my head,” Hempstead said. Chabansky was concerned about the specificity of her stage directions. “I got really worried about how in detail I could get, like if I could write, ‘cry here,’” she said. “I started thinking too hard about the actors and how they were going to act it out. I just hope the directors don’t think I’m just some crazed teenager who wants to write about love.” Mary Sutton, coordinator of the Playwright’s Project, tries to add as much depth to the plays as possible. Sutton directed the students’ plays

then reviewed the plays and selected eight of them to be performed in a “staged reading” by TheatreWorks actors Dec. 11, after the publication of this issue, at the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts. The reading panel, made up of theatre and English teacher Jordan Huizing, TheatreWorks playwright Robert Alexander and TheatreWorks Director of Community Engagement Mary Sutton selected the plays based on the quality of writing, character depth and workability on the stage. Alexander was impressed by the depth of the students’ work. “These writers are pretty mature for high school students,” he said. “The kids were pretty brave in terms of the subject matter they chose.”

to get at the kind of thing that I wouldn’t want to see in a church.” Lalonde said. “He’s a really exaggerated version of me and the corrupt priests I used to know.” Lalonde and the preacher, Father Jonathan Helmic, share a strict Catholic upbringing. “He was forced into this religion without having any say in it and I’m kind of speaking out against it,” she said. Junior Katelyn Hempstead also drew upon religion to find inspiration for her play, “The Gospel of Martha,” which explores the relation-

write her 1950s sit-com like comedy, “The Butters.“ She attributed the ease with which she wrote realistic dialogue to her theater background. “We [as actors] know what sounds awkward on a stage,” she said. “We know what can and can’t be said.” Senior Laura Fraley agreed.“[My theatre background] helps me know what’s easier to say so that actors don’t have like a tongue twister or a really difficult line,” she said. “It helps me know what to write so they can be more expressive.” Fraley’s play “No Clowning Around,” deals with the troubles of a depressed middle-aged man, Happy the Clown, who entertains young children at birthday parties.

ship between Jesus and a little-known biblical character, Martha. Alexander was especially intrigued by Hempstead’s selection of characters. “To write about Christ as a high school student is a very interesting choice,” he said. Hempstead chose to look at the story from a secular standpoint. “I wanted to give it a nonreligious point of view and take a step back and just look at it as a dramatic story,” she said.

Letting actors be expressive in their dialogue was one of junior Ben Christel’s biggest challenges. Christel found it difficult to be true to silence when writing lines for his characters. “There were times when I wanted everyone to be silent and have time to react to what was being said non-verbally,” he said. Christel noted the differences between theater and film. “You can’t zoom in on somebody’s face and get their expressions,” he said.

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with the help of two other TheatreWorks directors. “We’ll block it, we’ll add in moments, we’ll try to bring the play alive as much as possible,” she said. “It’s usually pretty active.” Sutton, who has led The Playwright’s Project since its inception eight years ago, said that the playwrights can be as involved as they want to in the direction process. “Some playwrights say nothing and the director sort of initiates the conversation and some playwrights we’ve had are really in there hands on telling the actors what to do,” she said. “Usually the playwrights can see where it’s not working and come forward.”

sen iel Ei

The playwrights pose (from left to right: Max Bu­tera, Ben Christel, Shani Chabansky, E.T. Minor, María Cristina Lalonde, Maggie Cole, Katelyn Hempstead and Laura Fraley). The playwrights have gotten much more out of the project besides a script and experience working with professional actors and directors. Almost all of the students said that they have more respect for playwrights now than before, which will undoubtedly improve their acting. Hempstead plans to continue work on her play. “I’ve come to care a lot about the characters and I don’t want to let them go once this project is over,” she said.

Photo illustration by Lucy Li and Jennifer Lim


Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Student knits to bring smiles to faces

Sabina Sood sells scarves to fund toys for hospitalized children Gea Kang Editor-in-Chief

Mittens? Check. Hoodie? Got it. Toe socks? You bet. Scarf? Darn, need to get that. But never fear this year—sophomore Sabina Sood’s hand-knitted scarves, available in the Student Activities Center (SAC), will keep you warm and fund holiday toys for sick children. Since April 2005, Sood, an aspiring pediatrician, has volunteered with Lucile Packard’s Children Hospital ( LPCH ). I n O ctober, upon starting work in the Forever Young Zone (FYZ)—a play area for children undergoing treatment—Sood decided to buy new Photo courtesy of Sabina Sood toys for the FYZ by knitting scarves and Sabina Sood focuses on selling them at Gunn a scarf. Proceeds from via her own “Toys for its sale will buy gifts for Toddlers” project. She patients at Lucile Packard felt that while the older kids at LPCH enjoyed Children’s Hospital. a plethora of activities, younger ones were not as well provided for. “They’re skipping school to be there,” Sood said. “I want to give them more opportunities to have fun and learn at the same time.” She plans to purchase interactive games such as Leapster, an electronic educational tool. While LPCH’s Volunteer Services Manager Maryellen Lozzi did not agree with Sood’s assessment of the FYZ, as LPCH offers a separate preschool program

for patients five years and under, she gave Sood kudos for her efforts. “I know that the patients will be able to benefit from her hard work,” Lozzi said. And hard work it is. After buying yarn with the money she earns as a soccer ref, Sood knits whenever she can find downtime away from schoolwork and soccer, spending about an hour on each scarf. “Whenever we go anywhere, she’s knitting in the car,” mother Sapna Sood said. “There’s yarn all over both my and my husband’s cars. I don’t see her sitting idle for even five minutes anymore.” Sood learned to knit five years ago from her mother, when she wanted to make her newborn sister a blanket. “The one thing I enjoy most about knitting is the end result—a finished scarf,” Sood said. “Also, I love the fact that knitting is so portable and I can knit anywhere.” Sapna Sood was pleasantly surprised to hear about her daughter’s project, as she had been involved with similar community outreach while growing up in India, knitting sweaters for shelters. “I had never mentioned to her that I’d done this,” Sapna Sood said. “Then she started telling me about her idea, and it was neat to find that connection.” In order to sell the scarves at Gunn, Sood had to receive approval from the Student Executive Council. Having raised $120 so far, she will continue “Toys for Toddlers” through March, ultimately hoping to fundraise between $400 and $500. “The most exciting part is just imagining the smiles on their faces,” she said. SAC in the le b a il a v arves a ed? Sc 0 t s e red & r e to 5 , blue, le 8 Int in p 5 r 3 u : p ck, gth 8 Len s: Brown, bla r o l 8 Co ood@m .s a in b a black info: s mor e 8 For


Choir brings holiday cheer to communities Stéphanie Keller-Busque News editor

Every holiday season comes tied with one of caroling for the choir’s Chamber Singers. The Chamber Singers perform regularly on weekends and weekdays at nursing homes, retirement communities and other locations, to where they are invited by groups to sing at luncheons. “We get all dressed up and everyone’s singing and you get this warm, fuzzy feeling,” junior Victoria Van Duyne said. “The people we perform for all appreciate it.” Choir director Bill Liberatore looks forward to caroling every year. “It’s fun to get the chance to perform the same music over and over again because we keep improving with every performance,” Liberatore said. “It’s a nice time of year to go around and sing for people.” Having the opportunity to improve at each performance is one of the many aspects of caroling that junior Alexandra Codina enjoys. “It’s different from concerts because it’s a smaller group of people—only about 40,” Codina said. “With caroling music you get to have a bit more fun and you don’t have to be as serious.” The singers perform a wide spectrum of songs when they go caroling. “We do a lot of classics like ‘Jingle Bells’ and ‘Deck the Halls’ but we also do some gospel songs,” Van Duyne said. “We’re doing one this year that I like a lot that combines classical tunes everyone knows and adds holiday lyrics to it.” The money raised from caroling, donations and concerts helps fund the choir’s trips throughout the school year. “Caroling has a fundraising component to it so that we are able to supplement the families who need help to pay for our trips, and depending on how expensive they are, I decide how many gigs we’ll do,” Liberatore said. This year, the Chamber Singers have five performances to raise money for their cruise to Mexico in May. The Chamber Singers will also spread holiday cheer to Gunn students with the rest of the choir at their concert Dec. 14.



The Oracle

Muslim siblings celebrate an ancient sacrifice Libby Craig & Nathaniel Eisen

Associate Sports Editor & Features Editor

For senior Rodina and sophomore Ahmad Fayad, this winter will be a time for cathartic reflection. The Quran says that Ibrahim was willing to sacrifice his son Ishmael because Allah required it. At the last minute, Allah sent a ram for Ibrahim to sacrifice instead. For three days at the end of the Hajj, or pilgrimage to Mecca, which takes place this year from Dec. 31 to Jan. 2, Muslims celebrate Eid-Al-Adha, a commemoration of Ibrahim’s submission to Allah’s request. Ancient rituals include sacrificing a goat or sheep and holding a feast. Though most Muslims do not make the Hajj in a given year, and many do not sacrifice livestock, they still have a feast on Eid-Al-Adha. At the end of this feast, it is traditional to give one third of the food away to friends and another third to the poor. The Fayads regularly celebrate Eid-AlAdha with their family. It is an occasion that is more of a family gathering than a religious ceremony. Although sometimes the Fayads will gather with other Muslim families in a restaurant on the Eid-AlAdha, this year they will celebrate at home with their extended family, many of whom live in the Bay Area. They follow the tradition of charity. “We give away food to the needy every year to sort of include

the less fortunate in the celebration as well,” Rodina Fayad said. The holiday is also the New Year for Muslims, who use a lunar calendar, but it is only coincidence that it will include the Gregorian New Year this year, since the lunar calendar is 11 days shorter than the Gregorian calendar. The Fayads also participate in Ramadan, the ninth month on the Islamic calendar, in which Muslims fast and refrain from sinning, while also praying and asking for forgiveness. “I haven’t missed a day since I was 10,” Ahmad Fayad said. “I like it, and definitely have fun doing it.” One aspect of practicing Islam that Rodina Fayad has adapted to her own life is Salat, or praying five times a day. She does not pray at school, choosing to wait until she arrives home, for reasons of convenience. “During the school day, when I’m frustrated, I would recite a couple of verses from the Quran,” she said. Rodina Fayad has become more intrigued by Islam as she has grown older. “The older I get the more I want to learn about it, because I am living in America where it is different than if you live, say, in Egypt,” she said. “The amount that you are surrounded by Islam every day is different. Here it’s so multicultural.” The Fayad family belongs to a Mosque in Santa Clara, although neither Rodina nor Ahmad Fayad go as often as their parents. However, Ahmad Fayad used to go

to a youth group at the Mosque on Friday nights. Rodina Fayad learned Arabic at home, yet when she reads the Quran she usually does so from an Engl ish t r a nslation. “I read it translated bePhoto co urtesy of the Fayad cause it’s easfamily Rodina a nd Ahma ier,” she said. d Fayad, shown h ere, cele “I’m a fluent b r ate EidA lAdha , a speaker and Muslim h oliday. not necessarily writer or reader.” Rodina Fayad is saddened when her peers don’t choose to learn about the religious aspect of her life. She sees Islam as much more lenient than others might think. “Everyone thinks it’s so strict and ridiculously conservative and even obnoxious,” she said. “I actually disagree because I think that it has a lot of good concepts, and a lot of people live by it.”

The best gift traditions & Cleansing for the New Year Vivien Tsao

Associate News Editor

With winter approaching, so comes a variety of winter holidays celebrated by different faiths. For Buddhists, in particular, Bodhi Day (also known as Roast) and New Year’s Eve mark occasions to be observed. For the Montgomery family, the winter season boasts a full roster of holidays to be celebrated, from Buddhist holidays that they celebrate as members of the Palo Alto Buddhist Temple, to the more well known holiday of Christmas. As devout Buddhists, the Montgomery family celebrates Bodhi Day, which is held on Dec. 8 or the closest Sunday prior to the date. This holiday marks the anniversary of the day when a young prince of Northern India named Siddhartha Gateman meditated beneath a fig tree until he achieved the ability to appreciate selfless beauty and thus became Buddha. Every year on Bodhi Day, the Montgomery family attends a special temple service. “At temple, our Sunday school students give the sermon,” senior Tyler Montgomery said. The congregation also receives symbolic items of the Buddhist faith such as flowers, fruits, candles and incense to place on the altar. “Each offering is symbolic of a different Buddhist teaching,” mother Denise

Montgomery said. “Offering flowers signifies the practice of generosity and opens the heart. Offering incense symbolizes moral ethics or discipline. Offering light signifies the stability and clarity of patience or burning away our mental and physical illnesses.” Another important day of the Buddhist faith is New Year’s Eve. Though it is not considered a holiday, New Year’s Eve serves as a time for cleansing away sins. “At our temple, we listen to the sensei speak and hit our temple bell 108 times to purify ourselves of the 108 sins throughout the year, and help us start the year on a good note,” Montgomery said. As Buddhists, the Montgomery family also celebrates Christmas, but not in a religious sense. “We still go to Church on Christmas Eve, but the holiday doesn’t hold a y family Photo courtesy of the Montgomer religious meaning for us,” , third from left ) Tyler Montgomery (back row freshman Kristin Montery (front row, first and his sister Kristin Montgom gomery said. “It’s more go to their temple. from right) with others who about getting together with family.”

Centerfold photo by C


Wednesday, December 13, 2006

My big fat Christmas celebration Fi Kazi


This winter senior Caroline Binkley plans to celebrate Christmas with her family. Each Christmas, her family of 18, including cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents, join together in the Binkley residence to participate in a family tradition. On Christmas Eve, the family goes to church before eating dinner at Binkley’s house. “We have crabs for dinner,” Binkley said. “It’s been that way for as long as I can remember.” On Christmas morning, everyone awakes bright and early to open presents, after which all of them head to a cousins house for Christmas Brunch. “All the cousins watch a movie,” B i n - kley said. A secret gift exchanging-party is then held at another cousin’s house, followed by Christmas dinner. Her f avo r i t e part of this

tradition is “when we all open our house for Christmas dinner,” Binkley Secret Santa presents because it’s said. “My grandma died a few weeks fun to see what we got each other before when I was in eighth grade. and it brings us together,” Binkley We still had Christmas Dinner at her said. “One time, we got hamsters for house for the next two years to keep a present and they were wrapped in the tradition alive.” a box.” Reconnecting with your family This tradition has been alive in can be very joyous and important. the Binkley family for seven years. “This is probably the only time of “We’ve been doing this since I was the year that all of us are able to be 10,” Binkley said. “That’s when I first together for three days,” Binkley said. moved to California.” “It’s good for us to be able to spend Along with this tradition comes time with each other.” the preparation for the event, such as baking gingerbread men and cookies. “We usually start right after Thanksgiving.” Binkley said. “I go Christmas shopping and then we usually set up Christmas lights a nd get our house decorated and get the stockings hung.” Amidst the Photo court esy of the B annual spirited Caroline B inkley fam in ily k le y (s e holiday prepcond from her cousin le ft s ) and have gath arations, the ered for y e a r s. Binkley family has had to cope with its share of tragedies. “We used to go over to my grandma’s

t of all: & family

Christopher Wu

Lighting the Kinara candles Sasha Guttentag

Centerfold Editor

For sophomore Jara Montez, winter break doesn’t signify time off for Christmas but for her favorite holiday, Kwanzaa. Montez’s parents, Stacye Montez and Roqua Montez, decided to celebrate Kwanzaa after Montez’s birth. This year they will be celebrating the holiday for the 15th year. “Kwanzaa allows us to celebrate the African-American culture in our suburban environment,” Stacye Montez said. The holiday is celebrated from Dec. 26 until Jan. 1 every year, and although gifts are not traditionally part of the celebration, the Montez family chooses to give gifts at the end of each Photo courtesy of Jara Montez day. However, the Montez famJara Montez holds items ily does not celebrate just for the valuable to the festivity. gifts. “It’s more than presents,” Montez said. “You really focus on yourself and your family members.” The history of Kwanzaa is fairly recent. In 1966, African -American nationalist Ron Karenga created it. The holiday,

which lasts for seven days, is based on what Karenga called “The Seven Principles of Kwanzaa.” These “principles” are daily topics of discussion and include Umoja (Unity), Kujichagulia (Self-Determination, Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility), Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics ), Nia (Purpose), Kuumba (Creativity) and Imani (Faith). Kwanzaa is celebrated with candles on a kinara, almost the equivalent of a menorah for Hanukkah. Unlike Hanukkah, though, each candle has a specific color, the first being black, the second red, the third green and so on for all seven candles. Every day, a new daily topic is discussed from “The Seven Principles.” Kwanzaa is foreign to many people, but Stacye Montez hopes that more will get involved. “Overall, I think Gunn students, their families and Palo Altans can enlighten their minds and broaden their horizons with the understanding of this cultural holiday,” Stacye Montez said. Montez plans on continuing to celebrate as she gets older and introduce new people to the holiday. “I really like celebrating it because it brings everyone together to talk about things we usually forget about,” Montez said.


When family matters Alex Lee

I never thought that family was of any importance. To me, and to many others, quality time spent with family could have been time spent talking with friends or watching a movie. Yet there are certain moments when spending time with your family is actually important. Most teenagers usually do not get to witness such a moment. I was lucky. My brother was there at 3:15 p.m. Sunday when I stepped through the threshold. It wasn’t so much what I had done to get there—it was what happened in that moment. We weren’t friends—in fact, we were as far apart as two people living together could be. Even when we had the same classes, we barely acknowledged each other. The only thing he cared about was academics. He knew every biology term, from biochemistry to genetics. Not surprisingly, my brother wants to get into a good college—he prefers an Ivy League school, but he said that Stanford would do. He and 40,000 other students. He had to work, study and plan. He had to hustle and be happy doing it. In his case, he had to love academics and school more than anything else. Oh, and he had to give up playing any games. He even stopped talking to me on a regular basis. For him, all his hard work came down to one thing—the Science Olympiad. He spent the three weeks before the competition studying, absorbing and memorizing what I thought was useless information. The contest started on a Saturday morning. I stayed at home, writing an article for the paper—after all, it didn’t matter to me if he won or lost. I was in the middle of my work when my dad came back from the competition. “Are you done writing?” he asked. I didn’t answer.“ “Even if you aren’t done, you’re coming along.” And so my dad dragged me to watch the end of the competition. I stuck with it—I didn’t have much choice. But now I’m glad I did. I arrived at the beginning of the awards ceremony, when the guy at the podium was still talking. I listened with little or no enthusiasm, searching the small crowd. After a while, I spotted him. Every time the speaker announced a winner, my brother seemed to fidget more and more. I listened to event after event, student after student. My brother soon seemed to give up in despair. I continued to watch—his composure continued to break down, and he seemed to be saying “I’m not going to win anything.” Then I did something I have never done, and never thought I would do, in front of him. I prayed openly, asking that his hard work pay off. He continued to watch the podium. The announcer said that they would be moving on to the Fermi Questions competition. I knew that was the last one my brother had participated in. “Here we go,” I thought to myself. He still didn’t believe. Then a voice from the podium in the front of the room said the words that we will never forget: “First place goes to Arthur Lee and Thomas Bao, from Gunn High School.” What happened next was the greatest feeling of pure joy I have ever known—partly because I wasn’t sure would happen. But also because, for the first time, I was proud that he was indeed my brother. —Lee, a junior, is a News editor.



The Oracle

Senior raises canine aide

Jefferson trains helping dog for 18 months, gives it away

Computer whiz balances internship, other interests Alex Lee

Ana Kostioukova

News Editor

Entertainment Editor


Photos courtesy of Laura Jefferson

Right: Laura Jefferson introduces Novell to the kennel that she will have to live in permanently as a helping dog. Above: An 11-month-old Novell sits obediently.

Jefferson took part in the first step of the program, which is to adopt a puppy and interact with it. “I had to teach her simple tricks such as sit, heel and lie down,” Jefferson said. After 18 months the families give up their adopted puppies to CCI and participate in a special ceremony, in which the families share pictures in a slideshow. “It is really hard to give up your dog but it is not as bad as a dog dying,” Jefferson said. “There is always a chance the program will give the dog back, or the dog will go on to doing something great such as helping a disabled person or becoming a breeder. It’s a win-win situation.” The dogs go on to take part in an intense training program in which they learn advanced tricks such as opening drawers and flipping light switches. The dogs also need to pass temperaments tests to see whether or not their characters are suitable for the job. Many dogs are rejected due to aggression levels or phobias. The success rate of dogs bred to dogs who go on to becoming helping

hands used to be 33 percent, but over the previous years CCI improved its breeding and training programs. Their success rate has shot up to 40 percent. The rejected dogs are returned back to their foster parents within nine months of their departure. The dogs that do succeed in the program become helping hands to disabled people. CCI dogs, however, are not meant to become guide dogs for the visually impaired. “The guide dogs for the blind have a much more rigorous training program and are not allowed to be trained by using food rewards,” Jefferson said. Jefferson became involved with the program through her neighbor, senior Max Fox, whose family owns a breeder dog for CCI. “We thought it was a good idea to get a CCI dog because they were already trained,” Fox said. CCI dogs are usually bred from Labrador Retriever mixes because of their docile tempers. All of the puppies that are born to a CCI breeder become

property of CCI. The puppies are often named after their sponsors, such as Home Depot. “It’s sad when you have to drive them up to Santa Rosa and [my dog] Para comes back confused as to where her puppies are,” Fox said. “But after two months they start becoming more of a hassle. I’ve been woken up at six in the morning several times by their howling.” Fox’s dog Para has had a high success rate at producing dogs that become aid dogs for CCI. “Para has had five litters with 47 puppies in total,” Fox’s mother, Lisa Ratner, said. “About 40 percent of those dogs went on to become CCI dogs.” Although not all dogs succeed in this program, it is a great way for a family to personally experience owning a pet and training it.“It’s easy to help out the community,” Jefferson said. “I recommend it for anyone who wants a puppy. You go to puppy class once a week and they teach you everything you want to know. What could be easier?”

Down 1. This teacher has an interest in all that is aquatic. He is a scuba diving instructor and a marathon swimmer. 2. A musician and vegan, this department secretary considers himself a neo-hippie. 3. This physics teacher has worked at NASA. 5. This English teacher has published several poems and is also an accomplished artist. 6. He reenacts the Civil War, the Gold Rush and World War II.

ANSWERS Down: 1. KenPlough 2. JarrodPagan 3. JoshBloom 5. PaulDunlap 6. ChrisJohnson Across: 4. LisaHall 7. DaveDeggeller 8. BillDunbar 9. RichDigiacomo

ighteen months ago senior Laura Jefferson adopted a black Labrador puppy named Novell, who was part of Canine Campaign for Independence (CCI), a program that raises dogs for the disabled. On Nov. 28 Jefferson had to give Novell up to be trained as a helping dog for people with hearing disability and/ or limited mobility.

While most students are scrambling for extracurricular activities, junior Elliot Kroo has landed a dream job working for Google. But working with Google isn’t the extent of Kroo’s interests—as a finalist of the International Science Olympiad (ISEF) and the co-Secretary General of Model United Nations (UN) club, Kroo is equally comfortable discussing world Elliot politics or computing algorithms. Kroo (11) For the past two years, Kroo has worked for Google as an intern. “I went to Google and interviewed in the middle of working on ISEF stuff,” Kroo said. “We discussed programming stuff, then I showed my boss-to-be a demo of the software I was developing for my science fair project.” Kroo started learning more about programming once he started working for Google. “I joined the Google Book Search team, where I began to learn to program in many languages,” he said. Kroo believes that Google is one of the most fun volunteer jobs out there. “Google is awesome—it’s really cool and interesting,” he said. “There’s always smart people, great problems and excellent, free food.” Since then, Kroo has worked on a secret Google project. “ I joined a small team of developers working on a new project,” he said. “I can’t say much about it, but it’s related to Google Earth/Maps.” Kroo tries hard to balance his Google work with his school life. “Classes this year are more of a logistical challenge for me,” he said. “They’re really easy.” His real interests lie in Model UN. “As head delegate and Secretary General, I have to make sure everyone is researched up and ready for conferences,” Kroo said. After taking a year off, Kroo is back in action for this year’s state and international science fair. “I took a year off from the science fair simply because I got too caught up in Google stuff,” he said. “I started a project, but it never quite matured into anything.” As a member of Gunn’s Saxophone Quartet, Big Band and Wind Ensemble, Kroo spends his free time practicing the saxophone. “Music is a passion for me,” he said. “I began to enjoy music quite a bit freshman year when I decided to switch to saxophone.” Kroo plans to continue life the way he’s living it now. “I have more of a future in Google, so if I keep liking what I’m doing, I’ll probably major in computer science, and minor in political science for UN stuff,” he said. “But hopefully I’ll come up with an interesting project this year.”

Across 4. An active person in student activities who can also juggle. 7. This math teacher is also a member of a rock band. 8. After visiting Europe, he worked on the Hubble space telescope. 9. A history teacher who owns a publishing company called Magnifico Publications and has written five books.

—Compiled by Jonathan Gu and Fi Kazi

Entertainment top ten things to do during winter break in P.A. 10. Stay at home, do homework and study for upcoming finals. 9. Hit outlets for the after-Christmas sales. 8. Go caroling with friends or family. 7. Visit Christmas Tree Lane on Fulton Street. 6. Pretend to be Santa Claus and ask for money. 5. Spend 24 hours at Happy Donuts. 4. Watch snow fall on T.V. 3. Dress your pet in a ridiculous holiday costume. 2. Buy cotton balls and have a pseudo snowball fight. 1. Kiss someone under the mistletoe. —Meilin Luh



Sasha Guttentag Centerfold Editor

As the holidays approach, many companies look for ways to get into the spirit, some choosing to feature products that donate money to charities. Although not a charity, a private sector from a larger organization has recently become popular with larger companies. Under the name of (Product) RED, it is a sector of The Global Fund, and works with America’s more popular companies, including Converse, Gap, Giorgio Armani, Motorola and Apple, to make unique products. “RED is designed to kick-start a sustainable flow of private sector money into the Global Fund to invest in the fight against AIDS in Africa,” RED spokesperson Tania Kingsrud said. RED is becoming popular with students around Gunn and one may be able to spot some students sporting the brands that support RED. Freshman Constance Wu invested in a sweatshirt from Gap and frequently wears it for the message it conveys. “It’s for a really good cause and I’m glad some of the money went to The Global Fund,” she said. The new products are also aimed at the hipper, younger crowd along with focusing on a charitable cause. “We’re reaching out to the consumer who is not necessarily a philanthropist,” Kingsrud said

13 Play in a Day draws crowds Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Stéphanie Keller-Busque


News Editor

ANG, and they’re off! It’s 8 p.m. on Dec. 1 and students are scrambling off at the sound of a gunshot to their respective groups to put together an entire play from scratch in no more than 24 hours.

This is the kick-off of the first Play in a Day at Gunn hosted by the Thespian Society. In one day, five student directors and 19 cast members were put into groups and had to write, memorize and block a play in one day. The participants performed their plays 24 hours later at 8 p.m. on Dec. 2, putting on a show that was highlighted with laughter, wonder and amazement. The participants gathered at 7:30 p.m. in the Little Theater, where they were greeted by the Thespian Society board. Names were chosen at random out of a hat to assign directors a cast and two buzz words. Each group had to incorporate its buzz words (such as “flamingo” and “Buddha”) in its plays in any way it wanted as long as it was relevant and noticeable. The product of a long night spent writing and an even longer day filled with memorizing lines, blocking the play and finding props and costumes resulted in “Muffin” by senior Thespian Society secretary E.T. Minor, “Repentance” by senior Thespian Society historian and publicist Annika Benitz, “Written on Sand” by junior Ben Christel, “The West Hampton Family Outlet Mall” by senior María Cristina Lolande and “Kama Sutra?” by senior Thespian Society president Noel Carey. “I thought it went extremely well,” Carey said. “I don’t think any of us really knew what we were getting ourselves into because it was the first [Play in a Day] at Gunn but it was great.” The event raised over $320 for

Jennifer Lim

Sophomore Chloe Fuller and junior Michael Shomron perform in “Repentance,” directed by senior Annika Benitz. the Thespian Society from admission, raffle tickets for the prize of two tickets to the Aquarius and the concession stand at intermission. “After the show I had random people coming up to me to ask when the next Play in a Day was so they could be in it,” Carey said. “We didn’t plan on having another but because it went so well we probably will in the spring.” Minor agrees that the event went better than they had anticipated. “I was so happy because we were expecting a small crowd and we had over 100 people come and watch,” she said. “The best part was seeing it come together and everyone enjoying it. It was stressful trying to keep my actors working on it without getting bored and then finding ways to include their input to bring out the full potential of the play in only a few hours, but it was worth it.” One of the biggest differences between the Play in a Day and a regular production is the time crunch. “I guess it’s exciting in a different way from typical shows because you only get one night to perform it instead of seven,” senior cast member Maggie Cole said. “You want to make [the play] perfect but there’s not a lot of time

to do it so every second of the day is focused on making it the best that it can be.” Junior cast member Katelyn Hempstead also believes that one of the challenges that comes from the Play in a Day is that it requires participants to be fully engaged with on the event at all times. “When you’re doing a normal production, you’re involved with other things at the same time,” she said. “But [for Play in a Day] we just spend the entire day to concentrate on only the play.” While memorizing lines proved to be a difficult aspect of the event for many of the cast members, directors had to take care of the set, sound and lighting of their plays. “Beforehand, you don’t know what each director is going to do or what props they’ll use,” Carey said. “So you have to manage time so that you can accommodate everything to make it work efficiently.” Putting together all of the pieces of the show in a relatively short amount of time was hard work for both the actors and directors, but in the end was great show. “It’s definitely stressful but I think the fact that all of it is completely new and didn’t exist before is cool,” senior cast member Max Fox said.

New novel touches soul in fresh ways Thomas Bao

Centerfold Editor

With his new book, Blind Willow Sleeping Woman, Haruki Murakami explores the spectrum of human emotion in a collection of 24 short stories. In many of these stories, Murakami flexes his unusual knack for creating surreal and nostalgic environments. From “Birthday Girl,” in which the nameless protagonist has a chance encounter with a strange restaurant manager who offers her any wish, to “Nausea 1979,” an account of the author’s conversation with a man who only sleeps with his friends’ wives and girlfriends, Murakami weaves the strange and inexplicable into his stories. Yet, like a dream, these bizarre happenings all make sense. Perhaps it is these eccentricities that bring Murakami’s characters and stories to life. Each of these surreal stories inspires an inexpressible emotion that lies on the tip of your tongue, a millimeter too far for your mind to grasp. However, it is in his realist pieces that Murakami truly shines. In these vignettes Murakami reveals his keen sight for the eeriness of human lives that are all

too often overlooked. From the strange silence of still railroad tracks, to the value of a person’s name, Murakami manages to convey the inexplicable emotions that we feel everyday but often cannot describe. In one of his more famous pieces, “Tony Takitani,” we are given a glimpse into the life of the reclusive Tony Takitani who finds himself with a room full of his late wife’s exquisite clothes. Soon, after his wife’s death, his father dies as well and all he has left are his wife’s clothes and his father’s records. It is through these strange mementos that, we see Tony deal with his loss. In the end, as Murakami puts it, Random House “once the mountain of records had disappeared from his house, Tony Takitani was really alone.” Murakami’s newest short story collection leads the reader on a bizarre adventure that doesn’t always make sense but always takes risks. Along the way, you’ll see, taste, hear and feel the inexplicably beautiful and sad. But at the end, each story’s veiled message is unmasked and you’ll be left with a bittersweet sorrow that tugs gently at your soul.


The Oracle

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— Compiled by Lauren Krensky and Dan Li

Graphics by Lucy Li



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Photos by Christopher Wu and Ana Kostioukova



The Oracle

Profiles harm students

Julius Tarng

Alex Rasgon

Julius Tarng

Associate Entertainment Editor

Graphics Editor

After a five-year wait, Sony is dazzling the gaming community again with it’s new Playstation 3 (PS3). The PS3 is the most technologically advanced gaming console to date. It features a cell processor, which is a first in computing history. A cell processor is a very powerful computer chip that is specifically designed for gaming. Its graphics card is a Nvidia G70, one of the most powerful graphics processors ever made, it supports HDTV resolutions up to 1080p, and can run most games at very high graphics settings with minimal frame rate lag. The PS3’s most unique feature however is it’s Blu-Ray disc drive, which can read any Blu-Ray disc as well as DVDs and Cds. Although Blu-Ray is still developing, it can support up to 50 gigabytes of data, which is equivalent to 13 full length movies. The Blu-Ray doesn’t actually put 13 on a disc, but instead uses its space to put more advanced graphics and physics, pushing the bounds of what console games can do. However, at this point, the PS3 splits into two different packages. One package includes a 20 gigabyte hard drive without wireless Internet built in, the other has a 60 gigabyte hard drive with built- in wireless Internet, and the ability to read data from memory sticks, so you can upload your favorite photos to your PS3 and watch them on the TV. The 20 gigabyte version costs $499 while the 60 gigabyte version costs $599. Although this may seem like a steep price to pay, it is actually a very good deal, considering that a Blu-Ray player alone starts at around $700, and the PS3 can play all your old games on your Playstation 2, and even the Playstation 1. The game selection is also very reasonable, ranging from the critically acclaimed “Resistance: Fall of Man,” a game where instead of World War 2, aliens invade the Earth, to all of the staple sports games like “Madden 07,” and “NBA 07”. All of these games make full use of the new “SIXAXIS” controller, which has built in gyroscopes, so if you turn your controller to the right, your character will turn right as well. In NBA 07, you can perform moves such as crossovers and spin moves by moving your controller a certain way. Overall, the PS3 is a solid system, and if you have the cash, is worth every penny.

When it comes to engineering creative ways to game, Nintendo is the first company to come to mind. With the release of the Wii (pronounced ‘we’), Nintendo has once again breached gaming borders. The Wii features wireless Bluetooth remotes (Wiimotes), which can detect motion and rotation in three axes, and WiiConnect24, which allows the Wii to stay connected to the Internet and receive updates and messages even while the console is off. But why the Wii? Why not the PlayStation 3 or Xbox360? Not only is the Wii only a measly $250 (compared to the $500+ PS3 and $300 Xbox360), but also features a brand new way to play. To prove just how revolutionary the Wii is, Nintendo packaged Wii Sports with the system, a collection of five sports games to demonstrate the Wii’s capabilities. In all the sports games (tennis, golf, bowling, boxing and baseball), the Wiimote is used to detect the motions made while playing the sport in real life. For example, players use the Wiimote as a tennis racket and swing to hit the ball in tennis. While it is fun to play solo, greater joy can be derived from playing with friends. After all, the Wii was named so that it would symbolize “we,” as in people playing together. Even parents and people out of touch with technology can play due to the simple controls. Although the Wiimote is a novelty, it can be a bit of a hassle. The sensor inside the Wiimote is sometimes too sensitive and detects the slightest movements, causing you to swing too early in baseball, but can also be too dull and not detect the small putting motion when the golf ball is really close to the hole. The controls take a while to get accustomed to, but once the initial testing phase is past, playing the Wii is almost a second nature. With an innovative way to play, low price tag and mom’s approval, the Wii is a prime choice for a holiday treat for the family and friends or for yourself (you’ll end up sharing it with the family and friends anyway). Still not convinced? You can look forward to Super Smash Brothers Brawl coming out exclusively for the Wii next year.

I sit down in front of my computer and start up Microsoft Word, ready to write this column. I try to think of a lead, but somehow the mouse drifts slowly toward the Mozilla Firefox shortcut. Before I know it, I’m browsing Facebook and posting on my Xanga. There used to be a time when the first thing a student would do when he got home was homework. Now, the first thing on his to-do list is to go online and check his Facebook or MySpace. As a Facebook addict myself, I can understand why: keeping in touch with old friends and posting inside jokes on people’s walls are so much more entertaining than solving differential equations. Facebook is a major distraction for me, and hinders my work efficiency. Essays that can be completed in two hours take six and book reading is reduced to one sentence every five minutes. Often, it has distracted me so much that I don’t start work until after 10 p.m.: my bedtime, resulting in sleep loss. The degree of distraction varies among users and could be more or less harmful depending on how much time one spends online. Looking at all the harm it could cause, a nonuser will wonder why there are users of these online social networks at all. Facebook isn’t all bad. It lets you stay in contact with friends who have moved or gone to college, organize events and share photos. Sometimes it is a nice way to post reminders or ask friends questions about homework. But there is a limit where too much of something will become harmful. If you are already hooked on MySpace or Facebook: tone it down. If you are not, stay away from these book. —Tarng, a senior, is the Graphis editor.

Suggested books: Rock Guitar for the Absolute Beginner (Book & CD) (Paperback) by Richard Hinman Yamaha Guitar (Acoustic): $200

Graphics by


Famous player: Jack Johnson

Brian Phan

Never too late to learn how to play an instrument


Famous player: G. Love Suggested books: The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Playing the Harmonica by William Melton, Randy Weinstein Lee Oscar Major Harmonica: $20



Suggested books: Rock Drums for Beginners (Book & CD) by Pete Sweeney Pearl Drum set: $450

Suggested books: Mel Bay’s Easiest Accordion Book by Neil Griffin Roma Accordion: $250

Famous player: Lawrence Welk

Famous player: Eric Harland

—Compiled by Jonathan Gu


Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Speedskater fights for first Chang races in state, national competitions on the ice


Viewing the Shark Tank

Adrienne Nguyen

Photo courtesy of the Chang family

Junior Janet Chang, number 307, positions herself to make a pass on the leader. Chang, an avid speedskater, has worked with two Olympic coaches and trains her body to overcome pain by running and biking. Michelle Fang Features Editor

Junior Janet Chang sure likes to live life on the fast track. As an accomplished speedskater, Chang’s ice skating roots blossomed into her passion for the fast-paced and exhilarating sport of speedskating. Chang was certainly not a beginner on the ice when she first took up speedskating as her sport. She started figure skating at the young age of four but did not find passion in the sport. “It was really frustrating because my coach would get mad at me for not being able to do certain things so I quit when I was around seven or eight,” Chang said. Luckily, Chang discovered a newfound passion for the more exciting and risky sport of speedskating. “In the 2002 Winter Olympics, short track speedskating was an Olympic sport for the first time,” Chang said. “I thought it was really fast and a cool thing to do. I wanted to try it, since I already had a background in skating.”

Chang has pursued her competitive career in speedskating to a high degree. She has competed at the club (local), state and national level. She is fully dedicated to the sport and hopes that speedskating will be part of her life in the future. “I’m pretty serious about this—there is a good chance I can become a Category 1 skater this season, meaning that U.S. Speedskating issues me a skinsuit [uniform] and I get discounts to certain training camps, clinics and facilities,” she said. Throughout her speedskating career, Chang has been training with the best coaches in the field. When she lived in Los Angeles, Chang’s coach was Wilma Boomstra, a Dutch speedskating trainer responsible for 12 Olympic team members and 34 national champions. Jerry Search, who has also trained Olympic speedskaters, also contributed to Chang’s speedskating career. Chang is highly independent in her training. At school she is a member of the cross country team and she also enjoys biking. Because she

does not have a coach right now to help her with her speedskating, Chang has learned to train herself. “I’ve learned a lot about training by piecing together the different training methods of Wilma and Jerry and reading everything about training for skating, biking and running,” she said. “Key concepts overlap in the three sports and give me a better idea of what I should be doing.” Speedskating is not as popular in the United States as it is in other countries, such as the Netherlands, where the sport originated. “It’s a very small sport, especially here on the West Coast where not many people do it,” she said. Even though in the Northeast, speedskating is more heard of, our competitions are rarely broadcasted and in most international competitions, besides the Olympics.” However, the sport is steadily gaining more international recognition ever since it was incorporated into the Winter Olympics. Although speedskating is a difficult sport, athletes like Janet Chang are revolutionizing speedskating into a more widely known one.

Titans push to victory in regional tournament Moses Lai


Gunn boys’ basketball brought the Cupertino Tournament Trophy home for the second time in two consecutive years, defeating Mills, Homestead and Cupertino to finish as champions. Against Mills, Gunn started off well with a 5-0 lead. However, in the second quarter Mills caught up and took the lead but Gunn managed to end it with a score of 30-27. (The lead continued to switch a few times but during the end of the fourth quarter the Titans quickly sealed the game gaining a 13 point lead and a final score of 64-51.) All of the Titans showed great ability with sophomore Kyle Perricone and seniors Peter Jordan, David Riley and Bernard Anthony all scoring, putting up double digits. “It was a good tournament,” coach Chris Redfield said. “We played some close games which is good for the team. We had very balanced scoring from different players, which shows we are playing as a team.” Despite a low scoring match against Homestead, Gunn still

came away with the win, 44-36. Gunn took the lead from the beginning and ended the first quarter 15-8. Afterwards, the game was fairly equal with a halftime score of 23-17. The game brought the Titans into the finals against Cupertino. The Titans came out strong in the championship game with a comfortable 18-7 lead, which they maintained going into the fourth. “We had a great defensive game from Bernard Anthony in the finals where he held Cupertino’s leading scorer to two points,” Redfield said. However, with only four minutes remaining in the game Cupertino went on a solid run, scoring 15 points and leaving the Titans trailing 48-45. In the final minute of the tight game, a fouled Riley made two free throws, and the Pioneers’ one-point lead was not enough to stop Jordan, who shot with only four seconds remaining to win the entire tournament. The Titans are having a solid season so far with a 5-1 record. “We are doing well, but it is still early in the season and we will have to continue improving each and every game,” Redfield said.

Moses Lai

Senior David Riley attempts to block a shot in the final game against Cupertino. Gunn pulled ahead with four seconds left.

I’m afraid of heights. As I nervously inched my way across the catwalk, I glanced at the ice over 100 feet below. Nevertheless, the bouts of fear that overcame me in the rafters of the Shark Tank were worth the experience that night. As an enthusiast of journalism and sports, I was privileged to participate in the High School Sports Writers Day program hosted by the San Jose Sharks. The event merged my interests and allowed me to experience the life of a professional sports writer. After introductions among the other journalists and Fan Development Coordinator Jeff Cafuir, we enjoyed a meal in the pressroom, bustling with writers, photographers and game commentators. We were being filmed by a camera crew for an upcoming episode of “Shark Byte.” The recording proceeded through the night, as the other student journalists and I attempted to maintain our poise. Following dinner, we entered a conference room in the Sharks office, where we met the Sharks beat writer from the San Francisco Chronicle, Ross McKeon. As members of the media, we were provided with packets briefing the game with team news and player statistics. Cafuir proceeded to lead us to our seats in the press box, far up in the rafters. We sat among professional media reporters, and Sharks staff members. I settled down to watch the San Jose Sharks vs. Philadelphia Flyers match. Immediately following the game, we conducted a post game interview with defenseman Kyle McLaren. I was quickly immersed into the life of a socialite. I soon had learned the powers of my media pass—access into the upper and lower levels, the locker rooms and complimentary beverages and hot dogs. Despite the difficulties of being a journalist, I still aspire to be a writer, realizing the people I would encounter daily. This event allowed me to develop my passions into what hopefully will become my future as a journalist. I was balancing on the thin walkway. Yet at the end of the night, I walked across confidently, hot dog in hand, with aspirations for the future, solidified in my mind. —Nguyen, a junior, is a Sports editor.


The Oracle


Lady Titans triumph

Gunn conquers favored opponent, M-A

Stephen Salazar Every now and then one can see a Gunn athlete frustrated after a season. Of course, there have been a number of successful seasons and records for teams, and in no way should the success of these teams be masked by the demise of others. With over 30 Central Coast Section (CCS) championships in Gunn’s athletic repertoire, one cannot say our athletics are futile. What is apparent, however, is the general reputation of Gunn athletics, despite the athletes’ hard work. It is safe to say that other schools in the area have somewhat of an unfair advantage. One factor that contributes to this lopsided competition is the number of athletes and students that a school actually has. Sheer numbers are not necessarily the determining factor in having better athletic teams, but it sure is an undeniable advantage. Many schools attain these numbers not by chance, but by exploiting the talents of athletes around the area by recruiting them outside their district. From St. Francis to Valley Christian and even Palo Alto High School, to maintain an athletic prestige sometimes the regulations and rules are bent to be able to have the best athletes in the area playing for the same school. Furthermore, other local schools have not only more athletes, but more cut sports. There is a bit of uneasiness in trying out for a cut sport versus playing for a non-cut sport. Tryouts may be disappointing for some, but in the end create a better overall team than a noncut sport. The problem with this system, however, is that in order to have successful tryouts, there must be enough students willing to come out for the sport in the first place. As unfair of an advantage some schools’ athletics have over others, many times a school’s dominance is just the luck of the draw. A team for a school will just have different seasons for better or for worse. Gunn wrestling, for example, was obsolete four years ago and now is one of the powerhouses in the Central Coast Section (CCS). Also, last year Valley Christian’s football team went 12-1 and won the CCS championship. This year they only amounted a 3-7 record and were last place in their league. The point is that a school’s athletic reputation can always change, and, just like anything else, hard work can turn a struggling program around. —Salazar, a junior, is an Entertainment editor.

Boris Burkov Reporter

The Gunn varsity girls’ soccer team went into this Dec. 7 preseason match as underdogs to a Menlo Atherton (M-A) team touted to be favorites to win the league in a division higher than De Anza, the one Gunn plays in. Despite the odds, the Gunn girls hung tough and pulled out a solid 2-0 victory against quality opposition. The two second-half goals came from a stunning 35-yard-shot by sophomore Sabina Sood and a breakaway by junior captain Molly Babbington. Gunn started the game slowly, ceding most of the possession to M-A when they came out of the blocks in fine form. M-A kept the play in Gunn’s end, attacking from the wings and sending in several dangerous crosses, but Gunn’s defense held firm, knocking the M-A forwards off balance and forcing all of the early chances to go well over the bar. Gunn struggled to get into the game, but showed promise with a few chances on the counterattack. One such counterattack resulted in M-A’s goalkeeper botching a backpass and sophomore Taylor Gardiner almost capitalized with an ambitious chip that went just over the bar. Halfway through the first half, Gunn became more of a presence, as the girls found their way into the game. M-A’s spell of early control ended as both teams settled down, and the game became more tentative. Both teams traded chances, with one of Gunn’s players taking a difficult volley well from the top of the box, which fell into the keeper’s hands. As halftime approached, M-A made another drive to goal, with a few chances coming from the wing. Several times, Kaitlin McGhee of M-A broke through Gunn’s defense, but neither her shot nor her astute layback for a teammate to shoot paid any dividends, as Gunn was able to stop both chances without too much difficulty. With only a few minutes to go, Babbington broke through on what seemed to be a breakaway, but she was flagged offside.

Jennifer Lim

Gunn soccer players successfully prevent Menlo-Atherton from advancing to the goal. The girls’ soccer team defeated the challenging opponent in a 2-0 victory. The second half began right where the first left off, with both sides looking to attack. However, this time around, Gunn looked the better side, with deft combination play keeping the ball in M-A’s end. Gunn’s good play finally paid off 10 minutes into the half when a poor clearance from the M-A goalie put the ball into Sood’s feet who looked up and put a well-placed shot into the unguarded net from 35 yards out. “It all happened pretty fast,” Sood said. “I heard people say ‘Shoot! Shoot!’ so I shot.” MA seemed determined to respond with a goal of their own, but their immediate attack was thwarted by an intelligent charge forward from Gunn’s goalkeeper sophomore Jessie Belfer. Gunn, however, remained unfazed by M-A’s efforts, as they continued their attacking play. Twenty minutes into the half, they put together some good passing in the midfield, and set up a shot from just outside the box which seemed destined to ruin Gunn’s night, but fortuitously struck the cross bar and bounced over for a

goal kick. As play wound on, Gunn seemed the more likely of the two to break through again, and M-A found themselves on the back foot for much of the half. Gunn was finally able to put the game away when tough play on an aerial through ball saw Babbington squeeze through the defense on a breakaway, which she coolly slotted past the keeper to seal the deal on a well-deserved Gunn victory. “My other forward was with me, and I told her to make a run which drew the defense, and then I saw the hole and went for it,” Babbington said of the goal. Head Coach Juan Mayora was elated with the performance. “The girls just did their job,” Mayora said. “We changed formation, and we practiced at it, but they just put it all together and played a great game.” Gunn’s performance in the game bodes well for the future, as the young team played fantastically together, and is likely to enjoy even more success in the future.

Overtime gym provides options Sasha Guttentag

Centerfold Editor

Christopher Wu

Overtime Fitness offers an abundance of exercise equipment, along with active video games, tutoring and a healthy café.

Though many students choose to huddle under the blankets rather than exercise during the winter months, the foundation of a teen-only gym negates that idea and offers a better, healthier one. Overtime Fitness, opened this past summer and conveniently located next to Century 16 Theatres and Laser Quest in Mountain View, has already begun attracting Gunn students. Senior Nicole Monica, who goes to Overtime daily for at least two hours, enjoys it immensely. “The overall atmosphere is appealing because everything is targeted toward teenagers, and it just makes me feel much more comfortable,” Monica said. Overtime was created by owner Patrick Ferrell because of the few exercise options available for his three teenage kids. “I saw how teenagers had less and less options for fitness,” Ferrell said. Seniors Zack Ciezinski and Lizz Winchell are campus representatives of Overtime Fitness, and pass out flyers to students to get them involved in the facility. “[Overtime] is a teen-only gym so you’re surrounded by people your own age,” Winchell said.

The gym, which boasts a large area of 12,000 feet, has facilities to please everyone. Those who have yet to develop a love for exercise may be attracted by the abundance of fitness video games and a rock climbing tower. Group classes are offered almost daily at Overtime and range from dance to kickboxing to yoga. Trainers constantly monitor the gym and aid students. “I like the fact that Overtime has a bunch of trainers around the place, just waiting to be asked questions,” Monica said. Along with state of the art exercise equipment, Overtime even offers a study room with tutors and computers. Overtime Fitness also includes a café, which features delectable healthy snacks and a smoothie bar where students can take time to enjoy a snack. Overtime is the world’s first teen-only gym and is a tough competitor to other gyms. The initial membership cost of Overtime is $109 ($20 of which goes directly to the teen’s school’s athletic department) and costs $59 a month. Most gyms in the area and vary between $49 to $69 per month. “If you go to the YMCA, you have families, you have old people—there’s none of that here,” Ferrell said.


boys’ soccer

Boys’ soccer captains seniors Ian Powell and Sam Zipperstein are threeyear varsity soccer players, De Anza Force club soccer players and long time friends. Such background together contributes to their play. “Although Sam and I are on opposite sides of the field, our combined experience keeps us on the same page,” Powell said. Head Coach Tom Brough chose Powell and Zipperstein as captains. Though the two have similar interests, they take different approaches when leading the team. “The responsibility of direction and organization on the field is just part of my personality,” Powell said. “I am more of the silent captain, but I show the team what the coach and I expect to see from them by how I play,”

Zipperstein said. Powell and Zipperstein help inspire their teammates. “They are both very good players and you can learn so much just by watching them play,” freshman Sterling Hancock said. “You know that they can change a game.” Both captains have a hopeful outlook on the season. “Other schools are saying that this is going to be a down year for Gunn, but we definitely have strong and skilled players,” Zipperstein said. Powell also has confidence in the team. “I have been pleasantly surprised with a lot of players,” Powell said. “We need to solidify a few things but I think we could have a very successful year.” Powell and Zipperstein both plan to play soccer next year in college.

girls’ basketball

The captains’ responsibilities vary and include speaking with referees before games, discussing calls and even boosting team morale. “We do a good job of firing our team up before games and pushing them hard during practice,” Riley said. Both Anthony and Riley have been on varsity basketball for three years, and Jordan for four. “They have experienced the ups and downs of a long basketball season and know how important it is to focus and try to get better every day,” Redfield said. The team continues to keep its hopes up. “We’d like to continue the success from last year and build on it,” Redfield said.

girls’ soccer

boys’ basketball

Coming out from a strong season last year with a record of 20-8, the boys’ varsity basketball team is expected to perform well again this season, and they are being led by senior captains Bernard Anthony, Peter Jordan and David Riley. Captains were nominated by coach Chris Redfield and then voted on by the team, and three were chosen. Of the seven seniors on varsity this year, Anthony, Jordan and Riley have had the most experience and are key components to the team, as noted by their fellow teammates. “All three of them are returning seniors that played important roles on the team last year,” junior Elliot Shih said.

Starting off the season with a win, the girls’ varsity basketball team has high hopes this year. This year, sophomore Jasmine Evans, junior Neva Hauser and senior Jenica Law lead the team as the captains. Head Coach Sarah Stapp selected the captains based on leadership skills. “Ms. Stapp picked two girls from the team that she thought could help lead the team,” Evans said. “I think I was selected because she believes that I can help keep the team focused during practices and games.” Although the captains speak with the referees before games, Stapp takes much of the leadership during practices. “I am the one who takes on the biggest

Football 2-8 Volleyball 3-9 Girls’ Tennis 12-0 Girls’ Water Polo 0-5 Boys’ Water Polo 2-4 Boys’ Cross Country 2nd in CCS (Division II) 21st in State (Division II) Girls’ Cross Country 2nd in CCS (Division II) 17th in State (Division II)

role of leader or ‘captain’ this season,” Stapp said. “I’m using this year to set the tone for the entire team as to how I want things done in every aspect. Next season this role will be deferred to players on the team.” The team is very young, with Law its only senior, but already has an impressive record. Captains are role models to their teammates, and sophomore Taylor McAdam has confidence in them. “They have the mental toughness to be captains,” she said. The captains hope to lead the team to many victories, especially against cross-town rival Palo Alto High School. “I look forward to beating Paly and making it to CCS,” Hauser said.

The varsity girl’s soccer team looks According to Von Clemm, captains forward a new season under the guid- not only need to stay organized, but also ance of their team captains, sophomore must tackle potential problems. “If the Emmiliese Von Clemm, junior Molly members of the team express a wish Babbington and senior Eva Gens. for a change to be made, the captains Head Coach Juan Mayora based his are who discuss it with the coach,” she decision on character qualities, rather said. than skill or talent. “[These girls] are The captains have more than 30 the ones who display team leadership years of combined experience, and all and who the team responds well to,” express an interest to play beyond high Mayora said. “The reason I see them school. “I really want to play during as leaders is because they practice and college, and maybe even after that,” play hard and lead by examples.” Gens said. Responsibilities of the captains Captains are expected to motivate include organizing team meetings and the team and have a positive outlook. sending reminder emails. “They will “If we all continue to focus and stay be the ones I will count on to relay determined, there is no question we messages to the team and referees at will dominate this division,” Babbinggames,” Mayora said. ton said. —Compiled by Libby Craig, Sasha Guttentag and Adrienne Nguyen

Titan Scoreboard Fall Sports


Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Winter Sports Wrestling N/A Girls’ Basketball 4-2 Boys’ Basketball 5-2 Girls’ Soccer 3-4 Boys’ Soccer 1-2-3

Upcoming Games Today: n Boys’

basketball vs. St. Francis at home, 7 p.m. n Boys’ soccer vs. Los Gatos at home, 3:30 p.m. —Compiled by Eric Johnston and Stephen Salazar

Photos by Jennifer Lim, Adrienne Nguyen and Christopher Wu



The Oracle

Best for: Powder lovers Best lift: Wagonwheel Young adult: $54

Best for: Intermediate riders Best lift: Summit 6 Young adult: $39

Kirkwood is on the south side of Lake Tahoe and is a little bit closer to the Bay Area than the North Lake resorts. The main draw at Kirkwood is the iconic “Wagonwheel” #10 chair, also called, for its namesake run, “The Wall.” With wide expanses from the top, you can head left, right or straight down in a wide open run with endless possibilities on a powder day. Skiers can duck into the trees, or ski in the many bowls and chutes available. Another option is the cornice chair which offers slightly easier runs but also has a steep, and possibly treacherous, run underneath a large, identifiable cornice of built-up snow. For intermediates, Reut chair and Solitude chair are available for a wide variety of blue square and black diamond runs. Although prices to stay there can be steep, because there are almost no villages around, one ride down the iconic Wall makes it all worthwhile.

Located on Highway 89 (off of Highway 80) in North Lake Tahoe, this popular ski resort has lots of difficult terrain, as well as more affordable pricing and a great environment for kids. The meat of the mountain can be accessed from the high speed, six-person Summit 6 chair. Lots of great tree-skiing, bowls, chutes and other expert terrain, as well as several steep groomed runs for advanced skiers, are all at the skier’s fingertips. However, high winds are common, and the popular Summit Bowl run, which is the easiest way down, can get very crowded and rutted, along with the lower runs all of the slopes descend toward. Farther from the lodge, and therefore less crowded, is Lakeview chair, a great place to get away from the crowds and go down some underappreciated but still quality slopes. Unfortunately, Alpine’s lifts are quite outdated, but this can be an advantage, when lines are long on the express chairs and the slower smaller lifts are empty. In the past, Alpine did not allow snowboarders but is now much more snowboard friendly, even offering a terrain park that includes a half-pipe. Despite old technology, Alpine has much to offer skiers looking for the kind of steep runs that are hard to find in Tahoe. 

52% of students plan

to ski or snowboard at least once this season 86 students surveyed

Best for: Advanced skiers Best lift: KT-22 Young adult: $52 Any resort that has hosted the Winter Olympics is top-notch, and Squaw is no exception. After buying a lift ticket, skiers can hop directly onto KT-22, a more than 2,000 vertical foot lift through the clouds. On the way down, skiers can choose between moguls, tree-skiing and even a run named after Johnny Moseley, an Olympic champion who skis Squaw. Riders can choose to take any upper-echelon lifts such as Headwall, Granite Chief and Silverado. Each of these lifts leads to ledges and small (sometimes big) rocky cliffs to launch off of. Located on Highway 89 from Truckee to Lake Tahoe, Squaw’s mountain is large and has so many lifts that some do not even open for lack of people. As a result, lines at Squaw can be easily avoided. On a nice powder day, skiers can go to Silverado where the back-country terrain can erase all stressful thoughts. Squaw’s barren landscape may be imposing to some skiers. Not all natural obstacles such as ledges are well marked, so it’s best not to go racing down a run without first knowing what’s on it. Although this resort may seem a bit impersonal at times, the number of expert level runs makes Squaw a resort others wish they could be.

Best for: Snowboarders Best lift: Backside Express Young adult: $59 Located off of Highway 267 going toward the lake from Truckee, the varied terrain at Northstar offers a challenge to beginners and experts alike. Vista Express, one of seven high speed chairlifts, gives freestylers a chance to grind rails and go off jumps of all sizes. The terrain on the front side of the mountain caters more toward snowboarders, but skiers may find the runs enjoyable as well. The lifts can get crowded because Northstar cannot boast the number of lifts that some other resorts run, but there are ways to get around the wait. This season Northstar will be opening a new high speed six-person chairlift to help ease the bottleneck at other lifts. Skiers who frequent Northstar may also consider buying Vertical Express, a pass that allows the skier to jump much of the line. Northstar has two lifts dedicated solely to advanced riders: Backside Express and Lookout Express. Backside Express has over 1,800 vertical feet, but many of the runs become fairly flat toward the bottom. Lookout Express has the steepest terrain on the mountain and most runs abound with moguls. Tree-skiers will love Northstar as most runs are narrow with trees on either side to ride through. The village at the bottom has been recently renovated and the staff is always friendly, but when it comes to the mountain, Northstar has difficulty keeping up with Squaw and Kirkwood. Graphics by Julius Tarng

—Compiled by Boris Burkov and Eric Johnston

Sarah Fetterman (9) “There weren’t enough snowboards so I used a boogie board and I tried to swerve to avoid a tree, hit a log and flew to the bottom of the hill.” Sean Parshad (10) “My family and I were skiing down moguls, and to avoid a cliff, we instead ran into a tree.” Richard Wiley (11) “I was trying to go off a huge jump but I was going so fast that I slammed into the face of it.” Maricris Paviera (12) “The hill was really steep and I did the splits trying to stop and my sister ran into me.” —Compiled by Adrienne Nguyen

The Oracle (Dec. 2006)  

December 2006

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