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


GRT prepares for FIRST competition pg. 13

Volume 46, Issue 5

The forces of love at work pg. 15

The Oracle members go geocaching pg. 22

Monday, February 22, 2010


Tiffany Hu, Niki Mata & Annie Shuey Entertainment, news & sports editors

In a recent survey conducted by The Oracle of 347 Gunn students, 52 percent believe that hookah is less dangerous than cigarettes. However, hookah, which 32 percent of the students claim to have tried, is slowly laying the foundation for cancers and other detrimental diseases more commonly associated with cigarettes, according to experts. The hookah, or water pipe, includes a water-filled base and a bowl that contains coals for heating the tobacco mixture inside. The tobacco mixture for hookah typically consists of shredded tobacco


“My friend had to ask me: ‘Do you just feel more masculine, or do you feel like you should be a man?’ and I said: ‘You know, I feel honestly like I’m a guy stuck in a woman’s body.’” For more on Class of 2008 alum Kyler Link Welch’s story, see page 17.

LGBT community members open up Sophie Cheng & Emily Zheng

Managing & Features editors

The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community’s fight for equal rights has been highly publicized recently with the continuing controversy over Proposition 8’s passage in California. Here, The Oracle features a few members of the LGBT community at Gunn including a lesbian’s coming out story, a straight student’s support for her friends’ sexual identities, a bisexual’s childhood growing up in a household with two moms and a transgender alum’s experience.

Junior comes out to friends, family

Courtesy of Kyler Link Welch

Permit #44 Palo Alto, Calif.

780 Arastradero Road, Palo Alto, CA 94306


Henry Liu


Junior Catherine Volpe recalls coming out as fully lesbian to her best friend junior Shivani Rustagi in the summer of 2007. “She just went, ‘Yes! Yes, I’m so glad! I’m so happy for you!” Volpe said. “I didn’t know she would be so excited, but her reaction was really supportive and encouraging, and that gave me a lot more confidence in myself. It was relieving.” Volpe first came out to her theater friends, and then to some close friends at school. “In freshman year, I was getting a little more comfortable with telling people, but if random people asked me about it, I was still like, ‘What are you talking about?’” Volpe said. “It was funny because this girl who I liked and who liked me back asked me to Homecoming LGBT—p.16-17

Sport teams, Boosters deal with deficit Sophie Cheng & Annie Shuey

Managing & Sports Editors

Due to last year’s swimming pool renovation, Gunn’s sports budget has a $10,000 deficit for extra transportation costs not covered by Measure A funds. “I was assuming we’d be about $10,000 in the black, and instead we were $10,000 in the red because without a pool, we had to rent Stanford University’s pool and pay for double the buses to send our aquatics teams to all only away meets, costing us $20,000 extra,” Athletic Director Chris Horpel said. According to Co-Chief Budget Officer Cathy Mak, Measure A funds cannot be used for transportation costs, so the district paid for $6,000 of the transportation cost out of the general fund. “When sports facilities are being worked on, like our football field and pool, there is an added transportation cost to take our teams elsewhere,” Horpel said. “These extra costs have been paid for by discretionary funds. However, because the Stanford pool was so expensive, the district chose not to use Measure A funds for all the extra costs. They paid for some of our extra transportation costs, but the athletics budget was left to deal with about $14,000 of the $20,000 in extra transportation costs.” Measure A funds came from a bond passed in June 2008. The sports budget is partially funded by the $150 participation fee, which Horpel hopes to increase to $175 by the beginning of next year. “We’re still in the red right now, but I am assuming that by the end of spring when we have collected all the sports fees, we will at least break even,” Horpel said. In light of the deficit, the Gunn Sports Boosters program is stepping up to match any funds that teams raise or individuals donate. According to Gunn Sports Boosters treasurer Nancy Hughes, Boosters has agreed to Horpel’s proposal for Boosters to fund 50 percent of a project if the individual team commits to raising the other 50 percent on its own. Hughes commends athletes and their families for covering the additional costs from the budget shortage. “All of our teams are contributing to support their sport either through collecting admission fees, selling food at their games or by families making direct contributions for team needs,” she wrote in an e-mail. DEFICIT—p.24

Library gives laptop access to students Classes held despite Feb. 17 city-wide power outage


The Oracle

Green Team initiates compost system today



The Green Team established a new recycling and composting program, effective today, to match Palo Alto Unified School District (PAUSD)’s pledge to reduce the city’s carbon footprint. “We are installing new recycling and composting bins around campus and removing some trash cans,” Green Team senior chair Wook Lee said. “I hope this new system opens student’s eyes about composting and recycling and the benefits that come with it.” After hearing about the plan two months ago, the Green Team split the responsibilities among smaller teams: “We divided into Education, Incentive and Auditing,” junior co-chair Audrey Knox said. “Education teaches, Incentive promotes and Auditing will find out how much compost is in the trash before and after the project.” Green Team also wants to motivate students to use the new system. “Gunn is actually a fairly green campus compared to many other [schools], but there are still many students that need to be motivated to recycle, compost and not litter,” Knox said. The $3,000 cost was split between the school and the district. According to Lee, the cost could be an investment for Gunn as the program has the potential to cut nonessential school spending. The team is enthusiastic about the project. “I think it’s a great idea,” Lee said. “There were too many trash cans, not enough recycling bins and no compost bins.” The compost will be sent weekly to Greenwaste, a local organization dedicated to finding cost effective strategies for conquering solid waste, where it processes the trash for reuse. —Tiffany Hu

The Gunn library instated a new policy that allows students to check out laptops. “It’s just like checking out a book,” librarian Meg Omainsky said. “All we had to do was stick some barcodes on it and ta da, you’ve checked out a laptop.” The library has had the laptops for over two years, but they were only available for research when a teacher was present. “There’s a high demand for laptops on an individual basis,” Omainsky said. “I didn’t want to say no to students who asked, so I gave it to them. All they needed to do was give me their student ID or driver’s license for me to check if they were who they said they were.” Omainsky’s decision resulted in a policy supported by the administration. There are currently 32 laptops that can be checked out for a maximum of two hours at a time, but cannot be taken outside of the library. Students can also print from the laptop itself. “These laptops are really useful, and since I don’t have a prep and the AC is full most of the time, I can just come in here and type or research whatever I need,” sophomore Michael Papp said. The penalties of not returning laptops are not specified but will be dealt with by the administration. According to Manager of Instructional Technology Darlene Feldstein, the policy has worked so far. “As long as the students and teachers are happy and we have full support from the admin, I think this policy will stick around for a long time,” Omainsky said. —Annie Tran A twin-engine Cessna 310 plane crashed into three power lines and a transmission tower in East Palo Alto at 7:56 a.m. on Feb. 17, causing a city-wide blackout that lasted until 5:50 p.m. The accident killed the pilot and two passengers, all Tesla employees, according to The Stanford Daily. Classroom windows and doors were opened to let in sunlight. Lamps retrieved from the emergency storage rooms were put in bathrooms, which had no windows. “There were some instances where lamp battery life started running out,” Principal Noreen Likins said. “I think what that told us is that we need to have emergency supplies in the batteries, not just in the lamps.” In an e-mail sent out to parents, the superintendent of the district said that students were to remain for the remainder of school hours. “If we dismiss 1900 students, if they went home, they would have no power,” Likins said. “If they go downtown, there’s no power, the traffic lights are out. Driving is dangerous, so it didn’t make any sense to dismiss anybody.” Despite the blackout, things ran fairly smoothly, even if a little more slowly. “I was just really amazed at how flexible, how resourceful, how really adaptable our teachers were under the circumstances,” Likins said. “It wasn’t a disaster. Eight hours in the big picture was not much of a problem.” Advanced Placement Biology teacher Katherine Moser proctored a test by candlelight. “The lights went out right when I came into the building,” she said. “I just knew we had to do those exams, so I grabbed some candles.” Some Village teachers, like English teacher Diane Ichikawa, held classes outside the classroom. “We enjoyed poetry in the sunshine, which was stereotypically ‘English Department’ of us,” she said. ­­—Regina Ahn

The ins and outs of the new compost system



Compost bin

Garbage can

- coffee grounds/filters - tea bags - used paper napkins and paper plates without waxy coating - pizza boxes, paper bags and newspapers ripped into small pieces - fruits and vegetables or their pulp - anything made of flour - grains such as rice or barley - grass clippings and leaves - crushed egg shells - paper cupcake/muffin cups - pencil shavings

- meat/fish or meat/fish waste (ex: bones, fat, skin) - dairy products (cheese, butter, yogurt, cottage cheese), grease/oils *they attract rodents, maggots, they smell, they breakdown slowly, they do not provide the right type of nutrition

Photo graphic by Kimberly Han and Henry Liu

—Compiled by Tiffany Hu

PAUSD considers new data software Sarah-Jean Zubair Forum Editor

The Palo Alto Unified School District (PAUSD) is planning to replace its current data-processing software with Infinite Campus. If approved by the school board, PAUSD will implement the new system by the end of this school year, and it will be fully operational by fall 2010. Infinite Campus, a software system based in Minnesota, is fully integrated with all the data processing capabilities that PAUSD currently uses. “With Infinite Campus, everything is in one place,” Principal Noreen Likins said. “It’s easy to use, and it has more features. Right now we use several software systems. Infinite Campus will allow us to use one for everything. Overall, it’s a better system.” PAUSD currently uses about 15 different software programs to fulfill all of the district’s needs. Because of Infinite Campus’s application integration, PAUSD could eventually eliminate most of its numerous data programs and use Infinite Campus alone for almost all of its purposes. “Over the next few years, we’ll phase out the programs that Infinite Campus can replace,” PAUSD Director of Technology Ann Dunkin said. “The first ones to go will likely be SASI [Schools Administrative Student Information], Blackboard Connect [attendance message system] and Cruncher [test information database]. By next year we’ll be using Infinite Campus at least for student data and attendance and, hopefully, the grade book as well.” In addition to convenience, Infinite Campus’s database system is

more flexible than SASI. The data are centralized with user accounts managed from a single location. Because of this, users are able to access the database using any Internet-enabled device. Infinite Campus’s ability to adapt quickly to new technology makes it such that the database is always available and rarely “down” for reconfiguration or system changes. Also, the digital connections to the main database are up-to-date, making them faster and more reliable than PAUSD’s currently used programs. Because the data is stored off site, information can be retrieved from anywhere at any time. “If there were some sort of disaster here, the data would not be lost,” Likins said. “For example, when Hurricane Katrina hit Louisiana, the school districts’ data were

not lost because they were stored elsewhere.” According to Likins, Infinite Campus’s flexibility and all-in-one configuration is a main draw for PAUSD. Since Infinite Campus readily changes with technology, it is not likely to become outdated and obsolete as in the case of SASI. For example, Pearson, the company that operates SASI, is no longer able to support PAUSD’s demands. Pearson has decided to “phase out” SASI. “If SASI had kept up, we would not have changed,” Likins said. “Now we have to look at different products to see what would work for us.” Likins is optimistic about the change. “I’m sure there will be some bumps in the road, but there should be no reason for it not to be an overall smooth transition,” she said.


water-based.” Welton acknowledgleaves mixed with molasses es that the water may contribute to and flavoring. People then in- students’ misconceptions. “It’s not hale the smoke that is burned off very harsh on your lungs because from the hookah. “It is fun,” se- it goes through the water,” he said. However, there is no scientific nior Russell Welton said. “It is just something different to do.” basis to these falsities, according to Despite being “fun,” however, Proctor. The World Health Organimany people are unaware that zation (WHO) advisory warns that smoking hookah bears health risks “even after passing through water, similar to those posed by smoking tobacco smoke still contains high levels of toxic cigarettes. Accordcompounds, ing to Professor of i n c l u d the History of Sciing carbon ence at Stanford m o n o x ide, University Robert “People, once diagheavy metProctor, who has nosed with these als and canstudied the history diseases, wish they cer-causing of tobacco harms chemicals.” and tobacco inhad never indulged Mark, a dustry negligence but by then it’s too registered for over 20 years, respiration hookah, as it is late.” therapist with most commonly — Professor of the the American smoked in the History of Science at Lung AssociaUnited States (with tobacco), is just as Stanford University tion, who only harmful as cigaRobert Proctor gave his first name, agrees. rettes. In addition, “Water filtraonly 147 of the 347 students surveyed named to- tion gives a false sense of safety,” bacco as an ingredient of hookah. he said. “While this water filtra“People think hookah is safer tion may remove a small amount than cigarettes and they take ad- of the larger particles in the tovantage of it,” school nurse Lisa bacco smoke, it does not make the Rodgers said. Rodgers said that smoke any safer. The water does the source of these false beliefs not filter out the toxins in cigarette comes from several common smoke, and only works to cool it. myths. One misconception is that When the water cools the smoke, it hookah smoke is “filtered” as it forces the smoker to inhale much goes through the pipe. “I have deeper than a cigarette smoker, never smoked cigarettes,” se- and this means more chemicals benior Sarah Roberts, ing deposited deeper in the lungs.” whose name has Water filtration therefore does not been changed to make hookah smoke safer. “There preserve anonym- are over 60 known cancer causing ity since hookah is ingredients in tobacco smoke, and illegal for those water filtration in a hookah will not under 18, remove any of these,” Mark said. Another mistaken belief that said. “I feel like hoo- students have is that hookah is kah is not not addictive. “The very scary as bad [as cigarettes] be- cause it is n HOOKAH from pg. 1

Nathan Toung

Monday, February 22, 2010

thing about cigarettes to me is that they are addictive, and that I cannot control that [addiction],” senior Leslie Green, whose name has also been changed, said. “I can control how much I [smoke] hookah.” However, hookah contains nicotine, the main addictive component of cigarettes. According to the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDH) Web site, “people ingest higher nicotine levels [smoking hookah] than with cigarettes, which could increase the risk of addiction since nicotine is the drug that causes addiction.” Although Green, Roberts and Welton claim to only smoke hookah once or twice a month (similar to the 35 percent of students who claim to smoke monthly in The Oracle survey), and thus believe they are less susceptible to health risks, even a single hookah session is dangerous. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC)’s Web site reads that “an average one hour long hookah session involves inhaling 100 to 200 times the volume of smoke and 70 times the amount of nicotine inhaled from a single cigarette.” Mark agrees. “The smoke is much more concentrated than cigarette smoke, so it contains more nicotine per puff than a cigarette,” he said. Other differences between hookah and cigarettes contribute to the misconceptions regarding hookah’s health impacts. “Hookah is really smooth and relaxing,” Green said. “It tastes good, so it is really pleasing to all the senses.” As one person at the local hookah bar claimed, “cigarettes taste more toxic [than hookah smoke].” Despite hookah’s apparent “smoothness,” however, Proctor says that hookah smoke and cigarette smoke contain many of the same malignant toxins and are both highly radioactive. “[Cigarette and hookah smoke] are probably the largest source of radioactivity to which a smoker would be exposed in their lifetime,” Proctor said. “The same poisons are found in each—cadmium and arsenic, benzypryrene and formaldehyde, carbon monoxide and radioactive polonium-210.”

The toxins in hookah are also known to cause a variety of diseases. “They label all the health risks for lung cancer and other diseases on cigarette packs,” junior Martin Chang, whose name has been changed, said. “You see people saying they got lung cancer from cigarettes, but not from smoking hookah.” Welton also believes that lung cancer is not a big concern. “It’s not like everyone who smokes a hookah is going to get lung cancer,” he said. Although not who smokes hookah everyone will get lung cancer, some will. According to the CDC Web site, “hookah tobacco and smoke contain numerous toxic substances known to cause lung, bladder and oral cancers, as well as clogged arteries and heart diseases.” The charcoal used to heat tobacco also increases health liabilities because it burns off large amounts of toxic gas, metals and chemicals. Despite the social nature of hookah, some students think that mouthpieces are unnecessary to protect against diseases when smoking with friends. “I know my friends are clean,” junior John Lee, whose name has been changed, said. “I trust them, and only smoke with friends.” Even if friends do not report being sick, however, the sharing of mouthpieces still airs a possibility of contracting supplementary diseases, such as tuberculosis, and viruses, such as herpes or hepatitis. Da Coffee/Hookah Spot manager David Zoumut acknowledges that hookah and cigarettes are almost the same, with hookah only having less nicotine. Zoumut agrees that, he would rather that his custom-

347 students surveyed


ers avoid the health risks of hookah altogether if possible. “Just stay out [of the hookah bar],” he said. “Any smoking is bad.” Still, many students continue to smoke hookah because it is viewed as an increasingly acceptable and “fun” social activity. “Sometimes I choose to do hookah at a party if I’m not drinking or smoking weed,” Roberts said. “It’s a fun social thing to do without impairing your ability to drive a car safely.” Yet, as Rodgers reminds us, “students cannot just go [use hookah] for fun and have no health risks.” According to Proctor, hookah tobacco is just as harmful and addictive as any other tobacco product and it is just the latest tobacco fad because its Middle Eastern cachet seems “social or even rebellious.” “It is great to have a social night out with friends, but there are ways to do this that don’t risk addiction or deadly [diseases],” Proctor said. “People, diagnosed with these diseases, wish they had never indulged but by then it’s too late.”

—Compiled by Ashley Ngu



The Oracle

School food should be healthier District should improve food quality and make nutritional standards accessible to students


unn’s food service is in desperate need of reform. Students are not pleased with the low quality food sold at the cafeteria and snack bar, and the food service is losing money. Additionally, the food sold at the cafeteria did not meet the food standards advertised on Palo Alto Unified School District’s (PAUSD) Web site until Feb. 16, when Chief Business Officer Cathy Mak had the misleading online food standards taken down in response to queries by The Oracle. Instead of simply taking down its food standards, however, PAUSD should improve the quality and nutrition of its school lunches.

According to a survey of 300 students conducted by the SEC’s Food Service Focus Group, students are dissatisfied with the taste, nutritional quality and price of Gunn’s cafeteria food. On average, students rated the taste of the school lunch a 2.2 out of 5 (1 meaning not tasty and 5 meaning tastiest) and the nutritional quality a 2.0 out of 5 (1 meaning not healthy and 5 meaning very healthy). It is surprising that one of the leading academic high schools in the country fails to feed its student healthy meals that they enjoy. Before PAUSD removed its online food standards, Gunn’s cafeteria failed to meet many, if not all, of the requirements. PAUSD used to promise its students that “Our milk and meats are rBST-free, hormonefree and antibiotic-free” (bold supplied on Web site). The chicken patties and nuggets sold at the cafeteria,

however, are bought from Tyson Foods, which offers no guarantee that the patties are made from chickens raised without antibiotics. Some Tyson products are so labeled, but the chicken products sold at Gunn have no such labels. Gunn’s burgers, which are made from “commodity beef,” share a similar story. According to Ph.D. nutritionist Gerda Endemann, commodity products are surplus goods donated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and are almost always the lowest quality. Therefore, the commodity beef products sold at Gunn, like the majority of beef products produced in America, are likely to contain hormones and antibiotics. This is because the cows are raised in densely-packed and unsanitary feed lots to reduce costs. The sole virtue of these products is that they are cheap. The beef patties that the food service buys cost around $1.06 per pound according to a Pierre Foods document online. While buying low-quality foods saves the district money in the short run, students will pay for this cheap food later with their health. Hormone residues in meats can cause early onset puberty, which has been proven to be associated with an increased risk of breast cancer, according to a Cornell University fact sheet. One could argue that the food service is simply offering students what every human is genetically programmed to love—fatty, salty and sweet foods. Yet, eating these foods every day is dangerous. In 2004, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated that obesity, caused by a combination of poor diet and sedentary lifestyles,

is fast approaching tobacco as the number one underlying preventable cause of death in America with a frightening 400,000 deaths per year as of 2000. Cigarettes are not sold on campus, so lifethreatening foods should not be sold either. Sure, one burger won’t kill you, but neither will one cigarette. To help students navigate the cafeteria’s nutritional minefield, nutritional information should be posted in the cafeteria each day so students can make intelligent choices about the food they eat. Currently, the only access to this nutritional information is a tedious trip through the district office. Serving unhealthy food to students, especially in elementary and middle school, teaches them poor—and costly—eating habits which they may keep for the rest of their lives. According to a 2009 Centers for Disease Control press release, an obese person spends, on average, $1,429 (42 percent) more on health care each year than a person of normal weight. What pennies we pinch today will bruise our pocket books later. Despite cutting costs, PAUSD’s food service is still losing a considerable amount of money and has been for years. According to PAUSD food consultant Alva Spence, the Food Service Department lost $195,000 last year and projects a deficit of $71,000 for this year.

Kimberly Han

A simple, yet bold, solution to Gunn’s food service issues would be to hire a team of chefs who would oversee retraining the current staff, buying ingredients and cooking food for the entire district. Food could be cooked in one or two kitchens and then delivered to schools around the district. According to PAUSD Food Service Manager Denise Boggs, there are no laws restricting Gunn’s staff from cooking meals on campus, and the current food service staff is trained in food safety and is perfectly capable of following recipes and cooking meals from scratch. The largest hurdle PAUSD would face as a self-sufficient food system, according to Boggs, is reduced purchasing power. Massive companies like Sodexo, she explained, have large economies of scale and can therefore buy foods cheaply in bulk. PAUSD, however, does not need to buy ingredients from massive commodity distributors. Instead, the district could team up with local farms, such as Hidden Villa (in

Los Altos) or Niman Ranch (based in Alameda), to get healthy and fresh produce, nearly non-existent in our current cafeteria for reasonable prices. Cutting out a middleman like Sodexo and buying local foods to cut down on transportation costs could save the district money. In general, the fewer times food is bought, sold and processed on the journey from field to plate, the healthier, cheaper and tastier it is. To avoid the cost of hiring additional staff, Gunn could offer community service hours to Work Experience or Advanced Home Economics students who help cook and prepare lunches. While using a large food service provider like Sodexo may be the easiest and most risk-adverse method to feed students, PAUSD and its students should not accept mediocrity. As the old adage holds, you are what you eat—and PAUSD students deserve the best. —Unsigned editorials represent the majority opinion of the staff (assenting: 26; dissenting: 2)

First Amendment should be altered to curb hate speech Sarah-Jean Zubair The United States’ Bill of Rights ensures certain privileges for all citizens. It promises freedom of religion, the right to a fair trial, right to due process and, most notably, freedom of speech. Freedom of speech, which is in the very First Amendment to the constitution, is a right most Americans hold dear and generally exercise freely. But there is a fine line between exercising and abusing a right. All too often people use the First Amendment as an excuse to spew hatred and intolerance toward others. Penalties for such abuse should be enacted in order to preserve the unity and relative tranquility of this nation. The United States is one of the few Western nations that does not outlaw

or attempt to limit hate speech. In fact, it is considered unconstitutional for the federal government to place limitations on speech, even if it is of discriminatory nature. But in nations like the United Kingdom and Canada, hate speech, defined in various ways, is prohibited. For example, under the Criminal Code of Canada, “hate propaganda” is specifically outlawed. Section 319 states that hate propaganda directed toward any identifiable group, distinguished by race, religion or sexual orientation will face legal prosecution ranging from prison time to outright banishment. For example, Westboro Baptist Church, the hate group that recently picketed on Arastradero Road, is banned in both Canada and the U.K. The U.K., Germany, Iceland, Norway and many other countries have similar laws. The existence of such laws is a testament to the civility and decency that human civilizations are capable of attaining. These countries are not in any way disabled or inferior to the U.S.

because of them. Their citizens’ freedom of speech is not encroached upon or oppressed. Rather, it encourages personal improvement and education. A person cannot idly run at the mouth in a manner that discriminates against or offends others for fear of the punishment he will face. Instead he is forced to think and express himself in a sophisticated, well-thought-out manner. Some might think that restrictions on hate speech hamper political discussion. This is utterly false. Hatred has no place in politics, especially when impartial judgement are of utmost importance. Additionally, discriminatory remarks are completely unnecessary. Subjective decisions and opinions gave evidence of ignorance. For example, in the Supreme Court case Plessy v. Ferguson, racial segregation was ruled constitutional based on the idea of “separate but equal.” Such is the result of hate speech in politics. Were the Supreme Court judges silenced by a law

forbidding the vocalization of racism, they never would have made such a despicably unjust ruling. Even if one harbors racist sentiments, if they cannot voice their prejudiced opinions, they cannot rationalize their decisions. Thus, they are forced to act in a logical manner, even if their unjustifiable sensibilities say otherwise. A country cannot prosper if the people are discontented and divided. Hate speech is destructive; it alienates the victims and fosters bitterness between all. Just because hate speech is outlawed does not mean that hate does not exist. But restrictions on discriminatory commentary curb the lasting

Nathan Toung

influence that such sentiments produce such as narrow-minded legislation and permanent resentment. Having fought a bloody civil war over racist practices, the U.S. should be a proponent of such legislation. To cement itself as a civilized world power, the U.S. government ought to do all it can to silence bigotry. –Zubair, a junior, is a Forum Editor.


China needs to regulate “rare earth” Anne Hsiao

Green technology is increasing its reach in today’s expanding eco-conscious economy. Rare earth minerals are currently used to produce green technology, such as wind turbine magnets and hybrid car batteries. While it seems that this technology helps reduce pollution, mining rare earth is both politically and environmentally harmful. Therefore, global leaders must act to find alternate sources of rare earth and regulate the process more stringently. Rare earth minerals are made from rare earth elements that consist of 17 chemical elements, namely scandium, yttrium and the 15 lanthanoids (the elements with the atomic numbers 57 through 71). Despite being labeled as “rare,” rare earth is actually found in higher quantities and concentrations than precious metals in the Earth’s crust. With the majority of the supply of rare earth coming from China, it has become increasingly apparent in the last couple years that China holds close to a monopoly power over the rare earth market. According to The New York Times, China currently produces 93 percent of rare earth minerals globally and more than 99 percent of scandium and yttrium, which are particularly vital for the production of green technology. By tightening the limits on production and exports, China is forcing companies to manufacture green technologies in China. In 2009, exports of rare earth from China were cut by 12 percent, the fourth steep cut in a row. With future plans to limit exports even further, Western automobile and wind turbine industries may be severely hurt. China’s monop-

oly on rare earth is extremely dangerous. China’s plan to cut exports will wreak havoc on green industries. The current dependence on China’s supply of rare earth has led industry executives in the Western world to look for alternatives. Developers hope to open mines in Canada, South Africa and Australia, but it will take years for these mines to be ready for largescale production. There is also another problem with this scenario. Most rare earth deposits outside of China also contain radioactive uranium and thorium, which complicates the mining and purifying processes. In addition, according to the Baotou Institute, heavy rare earth deposits in China will be exhausted within the next 15 years. This means that if a substitute is not quickly found, the production of green technology will grind to a globally devastating halt. Although rare earth elements are instrumental in the development of current green technologies, and thus help the environment, the mining process is excessively dirty. To get to the minerals, powerful acids are used to extract rare earth from the other materials in the ground. Sooner or later, these acids make their way into nearby streams and rivers, destroying local rice paddies and tainting water supplies. The dirty nature of mining for rare earth is exacerbated by the fact that half the industry is run illegally by criminal gangs that have

Arjun Bharadwaj Disaster, both natural and man made, are frequent throughout history. Luckily, aid workers are often there to give support to those left without the means to survive. Unfortunately, oftentimes aid will disappear before the problems caused by these disasters are truly solved. The United States has often acted like the big brother to many of the third world nations throughout the world. The United States regularly gives immediate aid to these nations when a disaster arises, and the media showers that nation with attention for a short amount of time. The media then reverts back to ignoring the disaster, or at the very most, gives the issue minimal attention. This is especially prevalent in the recent Haiti disaster. Originally, the United States showered Haiti with goods and various services. Many people took notice, and events such as “wear red for Haiti” were commonplace. Within a week, however, most major news networks sidelined Haiti in light of more local, but less important, issues (such as paternity disputes of certain politicians), despite reports of thievery of goods and widespread anarchy in the small island nation. This is just one of many events that become popular in the news for about a week, only to be dropped by media outlets. Another important yet non publicized issue is the Darfur genocide, an issue that was considered to be a number one issue, with shirts, stickers, and even an emo-

Dear media, you’re wrong


Regina Ahn

Kimberly Han

ties with local government officials, according to The New York Times. Because of this, the mines are not regulated and are not up to China’s environmental standards. This will lead to a long-lasting problem that will be passed onto our children. In a mine that was closed down nearly a decade ago, the surrounding landscape remains an expanse of mud and dirt. The decades of damage done to china will soon be very hard to reverse. With the advent of green technology, many people thought that it was the solution to a growing pollution problem. However, the green market must realize that continuing to depend on rare earth is damaging to its future and to its fundamental purpose of saving the environment. The mining economy must be regulated in China and other nations must start producing their own rare earth to reduce dependence on China. —Hsiao, a senior, is a Business Manager.

Publicizing disasters detrimental to world aid

Monday, February 22, 2010

tionally moving slideshow around this school. Who now talks about this harrowing event? People have started to ignore this event even though recently insurgents kidnapped Red Cross workers, and the rebels who have been charged with attacking the U.N. peace summit are going to walk free. Another instance of this kind of public apathy is the civil war in Colombia. In 2008, thousands demonstrated for the release of prisoners held by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), including many prominent Colombians, such as a former head of state. Although many of these hostages still remain in the hands of FARC, today people hardly acknowledge its existence. But doesn’t the media attention only stop, or even decrease, when the brutality of the event ends? The answer to this is a clear, emphatic no. The problems that these events bring, such as widespread poverty, starvation and death, continue even after attention towards them has ended; sometimes they get worse. In late December, for example, FARC executed several hostages, including the former governor of a local province. In Haiti, looters steal from aid workers in a desperate attempt to survive. These disasters and problems seem to get worse and worse as attention disappears. It is becoming a trend to show support for a “popular” disaster. Issues like the earthquake in Haiti are publicized, and demands for aid are given. Yet after about a week, the media furor dies down, and the event is quickly dropped, or is carried on with a lot less publicization. This happens often despite the fact that the situations get progressively worse and worse. More importantly, continued publicity needs to be given to these disasters all around in order to help alleviate the problems that they bring. —Bharadwaj, a senior, is a reporter.

As a student journalist, I know the demand of the press. Its time crunches and looming deadlines seem to appear out of nowhere. Media, as a business, must keep up with the rickety economy by hunting down stories that sell. However, this pressure tempts one to present an inaccurate, inappropriately biased or uninformed perspective on a story to get paid. The media’s portrayal of Gunn suggests that it is newsworthy only for its academic prowess and the past year’s tragedies, and that it is a stewing cesspool of stress. However, I must protest Gunn is not the swirling pit of darkness or as shallow and helpless as the media has victimized it to be. The news speculates that Gunn is the center of suicide. SF Weekly writes that “Gunn will now be known for suicides by train.” Really? Branding our school that way is not just incorrect, but also indecent. Reading these news articles can lead someone to believe something is wrong with the water at our school. Or that maybe Gunn is contributing to an overall academically competitive atmosphere. This puzzles me, since the school does not force students to get a 2400 on their SATs or take as many Advanced Placement (AP) classes as inhumanly possible. The students ultimately pick their own challenges. Psychologists even say that the media’s overexposure of recent events may encourage the suicidal behavior to continue. Gunn is known to make headlines for placing in yearly rankings of U.S. Top High Schools and has built up a reputation as a college preparatory school, so I can understand why the issue of academic stress is so important. But reports like this fail to mention the often neglected but substantial factors in the high school environment, like student diversity and social cliques. While the media continues to spew out test scores, an outsider cannot help but wonder if there is more to student life at Gunn than standardized testing and AP courses. Gunn’s LGBT-tolerant community is one of its many valued aspects that has been recently publicized. Studentled organizations (e.g., ROCK), the Performing Arts Department, sports teams, friendly teachers and administrators, the camouflage-themed campus and even the recent tragedies have all done their part to make Gunn unique. Although the Westboro Baptist Church failed to promote their message of hate, it has again captured local news reporters’ attention and helped switch Gunn’s reputation from a dark, depressing school into one that has overcome adversity and has stood shining in the face of religious extremist evil. Nothing can be perfect, and Gunn’s image may have somehow reverted into a happy bubble, but these two exaggerated pictures of the school contradict each other and yank a Gunn outsider back to the ever-present question: What kind of school is Gunn? It is a question that no news article could provide an answer to. —Ahn, a junior, is a reporter.



The Oracle

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

Editorial Board Editor-in-Chief Jon Proctor Managing Editors Sophie Cheng Joyce Liu News Niki Mata Nicola Park Linda Yu Forum Joseph Lin Sarah-Jean Zubair Features Henry Gens Emily Zheng Centerfold Sophia Jiang Alvin Man

Andrew Lee

Corporate cash poisons politics

Entertainment Melissa Chan Tiffany Hu Sports Wen Yi Chin Kevin Gao Annie Shuey Copy Editors Regina Ahn Hannah Plank-Schwartz Alice Yu Photo Henry Liu Graphics Nathan Toung Web/Tech Kimberly Han Webmaster Charles Chen

Staff Reporters Krishan Allen, Maya Ambady, Arjun Bharadwaj, Sweta Bhattacharya, Monica Cai, Colin Chen, Eugenah Chou, Samantha Donat, Tara Golshan, Sam Hayward, Mia Howard, Jesse Klein, Eden Lauffer, Elise Lee, Yilin Liang, Nick Loyola, Ashley Ngu, Mati Pluska-Renaud, Jennie Robinson, Divya Shiv, Leon Sung, Annie Tran, Lisa Wong, Lisa Wu, May Wu, Kevin Zhang, Lydia Zhang Business/Circulation Managers Jazreel Cheung Anne Hsiao Elaine Liu Photographers Victor Kwok Alan Phan Melissa Sun Jonathan Yong Graphics Artists Kimberly Han Andrew Lee Adviser Kristy Blackburn 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.

Hannah Plank-Schwartz On Jan. 1, the Supreme Court overruled the legislation that prohibits corporate spending on political campaigns, a regression that will allow corporations to financially control U.S. elections. The courts’ conservative majority used the First Amendment to justify their decision, arguing that businesses count as people and have the right to support political candidates. This spending had been banned because it let large businesses spend large sums of money to support their cause. Because of this change, the corporations’ monetary influence will inevitably outweigh any individual who tries to speak out. The targeted politicians then follow the agendas of the companies who pushed them into power instead of the people they supposedly represent. Allowing

unlimited corporate spending hampers democracy. Corporations’ massive influence limits free speech of everyday Americans who have shallower pockets.  While individuals are limited to donating $1,000 to political campaigns, corporations now have unlimited donation rights. However, it is possible for an individual to be a corporation, if they own all its bonds, and therefore an individual gain the right to donate an unlimited sum of money. In California’s 2006 governor’s race, special interest contributors spent $130 million. To curb this sum, a California clean money bill is on the June ballot. According to a Web site supporting the measure,, voters seek to prevent corporations from controlling politicians and corrupting their interests. Conservative supporters of this Supreme Court decision believe it to be under businesses’ First Amendment rights; they believe the government has no right to regulate political speech. They argue that the huge sums of money used to change opinions are a form of speech. As Justice Anthony Kennedy said, “If the First Amendment has any force, it prohibits

Congress from fining or jailing citizens, or associations of citizens, for simply engaging in political speech.” Justice John Paul Stevens, as part of the court’s liberal wing, said the majority had committed a grave error in treating corporate speech the same as that of human beings. The United States stresses the importance of everyday citizens’ opinions. However, corporations simply want to make more money. The decision was a huge error on the part of the court justices. It will undo the progress that this country’s government has made since the birth of the United States. The laws are supposedly by the people, for the people. President Barack Obama has also deemed the Supreme Court’s decision a transgression to the doctrine of separation of powers which would evoke a flood of special interest groups investing without limitations in U.S. elections. Without a doubt, much of the voting public and state legislatures are working to replace the effects of a decision that will dictate elections and hinder progress towards a fair and equal democracy. —Plank-Schwartz, a junior, is a Copy Editor.

Star-crossed lovers: Oh, math, return my love Joyce Liu I am a washed up mathlete. Okay, not exactly. I was never really a mathlete before. All I can say is that I used to like math, and math liked me, too. Something happened between us at the start of tenth grade, and math ceased to requite my love. Everyday in Trigonometry became a skirmish with equations, exponentials, logs and the gang. On dreadful test days, my heart beat faster and faster as the clock ticked closer and closer to the end of the period. It felt like two parallel planes were closing in on my brain. Once, so much sweat dripped from my palms that the lead from my pencil would not transfer to the moistened paper. Why was this happening? Math and I used to click, but now, the tests were beating me down unit after unit and brutally popping my math-esteem. I needed to change my negative and unhealthy thinking. Math couldn’t bring me down. Oh, it was on. I became a regular at math

tutorial and let the battle begin. On nearly every Tuesday afternoon, I would sit in Mr. Herreshoff’s class, go over math problems and try to fully comprehend the concepts we had learned in class. By the end of each tutorial, my brain was fried, and occasionally, I could tell that Mr. Herreshoff’s was, too. This was going to be a long and hard battle, with no instant gratification. Although I thought that I put in a great deal of time and effort, tests were still unkind to me. Nevertheless, little by little, my math knowledge began to accumulate. On the very first math test, I had gotten an F, which was curved to a D. Many many tutorial sessions later, I began getting B’s, and I was ecstatic when I earned the elusive A on the first semester final exam. This story doesn’t end there, though. When I arrived at Analysis, it was Trig all over again, and I’m triple déjà-vu-ing my math nightmares this year in BC Calculus. At this point, you’re probably wondering, “Why do you even love math if it has wronged you so many times?” Well, I’m trying to find the words to describe this battle without being disrespectful. Yes, math stretches your brain in countless directions, but when you solve a problem on your own and check that BOB (back of book)

agrees, “feel good juice,” as Mr. Dunbar puts it, floods your brain, and nothing beats that feeling. This past semester has been both a sweet dream and a beautiful nightmare for me and tests. Nonetheless, I’ve also gained new insights on my relationship with math and learning in general. What frightened me was how a quicksand pool of “Wow, I do suck at math,” engulfed me. The amount of effort I put in did not equate my testing results, and I felt like my time spent learning was wasted. Then, I realized it’s the system that we’re under. In math, our main source of “validation” comes from our grades, which are based on mostly tests and quizzes. Thus, if you bomb them, it seems like all of your learning has just been disproved as your grade plummets. The system, however, is unlikely to change, and honestly, it has its merits. In college, homework counts for little to nothing. Your grade depends on midterms and finals. Our math grading system hopes to save us from that shock. That’s my theory. How could I still maintain my math-esteem with my mediocre testing abilities? Well, I went back to my Ohlone roots and took grades out of the equation. My “validation” can come from how I felt about my own learning, not from

the red-inked fraction on the top of my papers. It’s simply not my foremost concern at this point in my education, though I would be an ungracious pastor if I said I didn’t care about my grades at all. I want to do well, but more importantly I want to take charge of my learning and know that I gave it my all. The night before the calculus final, I was still feeling unprepared after going over the review problems and old tests. At that point, I decided a good night’s sleep would be more beneficial and went to bed early. Before coming to school the next day, I looked over some of my notes while listening to my pumpup mix and realized that I did learn a lot this semester. I synthesized the chapters into one big happy package in my brain and walked into the test feeling proud of my learning. That’s what I want to feel from now on. No more sweaty Joyce, just more deep breaths, calm thinking and trying my best. Oh, and no deep rumination after tests. So math might not love me back yet, but I am fine with that and will stubbornly love it still. I guess we shall be star-crossed lovers. I am no mathlete, but I can proudly call myself a math tutorial bench warmer. —Liu, a senior, is a Managing Editor.


Monday, February 22, 2010


Setting privacy boundaries Government must balance infringement, safety

Expanding national security techniques should be weighed against citizens’ personal affairs

Henry Gens People find the idea of a Big Brother government—one that seeks to control the actions of its citizens to an egregious degree— to be rightfully disconcerting. However, the opposite of this, a Little Brother government, if you will, is equally undesirable for its inability to provide ample order or protection for its constituents. Somewhere between these two extremes lies the proper amount of “privacy violation,” that a government should perpetrate to protect its people.

Perhaps the first instance of privacy infringement that comes to the minds of most Americans is the infamous USA PATRIOT Act. Passed almost unanimously in response to the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the act expanded the power of the FBI to search through U.S. citizens’ homes and communications without warrants and granted the government the ability to indefinitely detain immigrants. This unprecedented ability to invade the private lives of citizens caused a general outrage in the American public, and many of the act’s provisions were subsequently deemed unconstitutional. Nevertheless, the intention to protect people from further terrorist attacks on American soil was noble, even if the provisions were often abused and produced little payoff.

While the USA PATRIOT Act ultimately amounted to unacceptable privacy violations, the American government’s handling of airport security is a situation in which such infringement is not only justified, but generally effective as well. The undeniably invasive screening techniques are a prime example where the ends justify the means. Such techniques deter many would-be terrorists from jeopardizing the safety of passengers, and those weapons that do get through the rigorous screening process are often ineffective, as Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab recently demonstrated in December with his crotch explosive. Sure, there are many annoyances one must endure to board a plane in America nowadays, from throwing away toothpaste to the occasional frisking, but these

Media takes advantage of celebrity lives, abuses power

Alvin Man

Over the years, privacy has slowly disappeared. Social networking sites reveal everything. Celebrities no longer have private lives. What could have been a simple police report blew up to a scandal that tarnished Tiger Woods’ life forever. Rumors clog the web about whether Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have split up. Celebrities’ lives dominate headlines constantly with no regard to their right to privacy. Celebrities’ lives are not other people’s business. What goes on in another person’s house should not be broadcasted across the nation. People aren’t allowed to look through windows and trespass, so journalists should not be doing it either. Celebrities are regular people and should be treated as such. It just happens that they have a superficial status According to an article done by ABC news, The Star, a tabloid magazine, holds staff meetings on celebrities’ photos. Tabloids make millions of dollars just by taking photos of celebrities. Despite the fact that taking photos is legal, tabloid magazines should consider and respect the privacy due to other people.

While some celebrities enjoy the attention of the press, tabloid papers should not assume that all celebrities do. Media reporters and photographers can be aggressive when they try to get what they want. On USA Today, paparazzi crowded and blocked Jamie Lynn Spears and her mother as they tried to get away. Photographers aggressively try to capture celebrities and block them from escaping without a photo. Some tabloid reporters have been so aggressive that they have gotten hurt in the line of work and have tried to sue the celebrity for it. A paparazzo tried to get snapshots of Kanye West at the airport, and it resulted in an assault by West. He was slapped with community service and jail time despite the fact that the photographer went too far. Jon and Kate Plus 8, was a TV show about the life of Jon Keith and Katie Irene that ultimately resulted in public embarrassment and criticism. They were already having troubles in the house, but the tabloid headlines littering the couple’s problems only made their family matters worse. Although the family willingly put themselves in the spotlight for money, the tabloids went beyond the implied contract and has broken up the family. Celebrities are real people who have real problems. Violating their privacy the sake of media is immoral and encroaches on their right to privacy. —Man, a junior, is a Centerfold Editor.

trifles are far outweighed by the undeniably safer environment that they have resulted in. These—the USA PATRIOT Act and airport security measures—are two examples of a government genuinely attempting to protect its citizens, with notably different outcomes. In some cases, privacy violations are something that must be endured to guarantee safety. When this is not the case, the government has no right to intervene in its people’s affairs. In China, for example, the practice of censorship is widespread, from the state-controlled media agency to the Internet. Because of this censorship, the Dalai Lama is consistently portrayed as the epitome of evil, and the Tiananmen Square Massacre evidently never happened. Such extreme and heavy-handed methods recently

culminated in Google announcing its decision to remove the restrictions from its search engine or possibly leave the Chinese market after just arriving in 2006. This censorship adheres to the belief that what people do not know can’t hurt them—an entirely false conviction. The only thing that China has achieved through this censorship is the massive suppression of malcontent and unrest. There is a line, no matter how debatable the exact degree, that governments should not cross. Sometimes they err in honest attempts to improve security, and other times the government is simply cementing its power. But ultimately, the government is in place to protect its citizens, not itself. —Gens, a senior, is a Features Editor.

People shouldn’t overestimate Internet security

Melissa Chan

Nathan Toung

Facebook stalking: we are probably all guilty of it. Many people underestimate the Internet and what people with a little skill are capable of finding out. The Internet can be a dangerous arena, and in this day and age we are constantly surrounded by security hazards. Although these minor details may seem insignificant on the wider scale, around ever corner of the Internet there are an infinite number of computer gurus just waiting to pounce. Small amounts of information released on the Internet now could lead to identity theft in the future. What most people do not realize is that once something has entered the Internet, it lives there forever regardless of if it later becomes deleted. This means that if you create a blog on template sites such as Tumblr or Blogspot and later terminate your account, it will still exist in cyberspace. For instance, in a five- minute Google search, your deleted blog will eventually appear in a search result and even though the URL says the Web site is gone, by simply clicking the link labeled “Cached” the content of the URL will still appear. For instance, a friend of one of my friends had a Tumblr and he had posted

a couple tracks of himself rapping. The songs were quite embarassing and when I asked him about it, he promptly deleted it. I wanted to access it again so I searched on the Internet using keywords until I found it. It was still “gone” when I clicked on the link, but when I clicked the “cached” button, all of the old information was still there, I tried this on another computer as well, and it also worked. So this “deleted” information was accessible on any computer. If Internet novices can find these types of details about someone else, think of what an experienced Internet user can find. Websites can be hacked pretty easily and there is always the chance that any password might be guessed.   Never put anything on the Internet that you might later regret, especially if the site is not secure. Personal information, including birthdays and cellphone numbers should never be released openly on the Internet. There are certain measures that I take to keep my personal information safe on the Internet. First I make sure that I don’t talk about anything important through public forums such as the Facebook Wall, instead I talk about those types of things through messages or e-mail. So talk to your friends about important things in person and keep them off the Internet. Set your Facebook profile to private and take similar precautions on other social networking sites as well. —Chan, a junior, is an Entertainment Editor.


Course Spotlight

The Oracle

2010-2011 Electives Guide

The Oracle provides readers with teacher and student perspectives on various electives for next year Kathrina Onate (11): “I’ve “We read a lot more nonfiction is planning to bring back the Facing Dunlap said. “As a teacher I am English always been curious to read some works. I like this because I feel that History through Film and Literature comfortable laughing at myself for (1027) Reading Between the Lines When California State Universities (CSUs) found 57 percent of its students in 2008 were lacking basic reading and writing skills, they created a remedial class called Expository Reading and Writing Course (EWRC) which is offered at CSUs and high schools. At Gunn, however, EWRC is combined with the Reading Between The Lines class to prepare juniors and seniors for college-level reading in the best way possible. Many students perform poorly at college-level reading because students read different kinds of books in high school than in college. “The reading in high school English classes often centers around fiction, while college reading includes significant quantities of difficultto-read non-fiction texts,” English teacher Julie Munger said. “When students arrive at college and take the freshman core and social science classes, they often feel overwhelmed by these non-fiction texts, and need strategies to synthesize and retain these readings.” The class also teaches students how to learn independently by using course readers, which contain all the literature they will read over semester. “The course readers and the on-line materials posted to InClass allow students to work at their own pace; students can pick certain activities which interest and work well for them,” Munger said. In addition to course readers, students have online reading and writing assignments that center on a single idea called modules. Examples include Politics of Food or the Value of Life. Because the class is a semester long, students can choose to explore only one or two modules out of seven. “Each module is different and includes exposure to different reading and writing strategies,” Munger said. “For instance, advanced students can choose harder reading and writing assignments and try out the challenge activities which I’ve posted to InClass. Because each module is also posted to InClass, students, parents and support staff can access the resources from home and the library.” What students have to say: Karen Gitlin (11): “I also enjoyed getting time to read the New York Times articles in addition to our in class activities. I found them all to be very interesting and eye opening.” “The art was even more helpful because we got to do a drawing of a scene in The Left Hand of Darkness, which I found really enjoyable because I almost never get to draw in any of my English classes.” Max Bazan (11): “I was interested when I first saw the modules because I expected to only see literary works and instead the modules focus on many social issues. The modules have real articles that deal with economic, social and political viewpoints. The class doesn’t only read modules though, we read books as well—and we read one science fiction book, which I’m really excited about.”

with nonfiction there is a heightened element of scariness since truth is scarier than fiction. You can make insights on real events but in fiction you are clouded by fantasies.”

(1179) Philosophy Through Literature Philosophy Through Literature traces philosophy from its origins in Greece up to the modern history of thought. It pushes students to look into themselves and discuss issues like the nature of truth, whether there is a God, and if free will really exists. Philosophy Through Literature uses a book called Sophie’s World for reference and reads original writings from Descartes and Aristotle. Essays are an essential part of Philosophy Through Literature because they allow students to ponder classic philosophical arguments and include personal thoughts and reactions. For these essays, students are permitted to use “I” and there is no right or wrong answer. English teacher Jordan Huizing grades on a standard rubric of grammar, voice, actual life and effort. “It’s always really hard to grade essays because they are based on the student’s ideas and perspective, but they are the most interesting essays I get to grade,” Huizing said. Tests and quizzes usually check to see if students have a clear understanding of philosophical concepts. This class helps students gain confidence and answer the daily questions that minds ponder throughout a lifetime. “This class has no restrictions when it comes to questioning anything and everything,” Huizing said. “This class gives students the freedom to think in every direction they’d like.” Questions discussed include: how should humans live in a society? Do animals have rights? Is it possible to be non-violent in the future? Is there life after death? These are all questions that aid students in achieving a greater depth of thinking.” “It’s an incredible class to teach,” Huizing said. “I could have two classes and discuss the same topic, but the way students argue and discuss leads to both classes going in two different directions.” What students have to say: Vivek Choksi (11): “If you have strong opinions about things, you should take philosophy. If you don’t have strong opinions about things, you should definitely take philosophy.” “Philosophy was worthwhile because it helped me formulate ideas about how to live, and what could be more important than that? My most memorable experience was reading Descartes’ Meditations because it altered my perception of reality.” Kevin Zhang (11): “I learned an incredible amount about myself and others around me. The class empowers you to see your life in a different perspective.” NEW! (1317) Facing History Through Film and Literature English teacher Kristy Blackburn

course next year if there is enough student interest. The class aims to promote social justice and efforts to make a difference. “Students will learn how to make a change in the world,” Blackburn said. “The unique thing about this class is that [the students] will actually be able to get involved.” Activities will include reading and analyzing literature, film discussion and community action. Blackburn said the community action part will consist of an action project amongst other activities. Another project involves creating a memorial relating to a socially significant event. “People will get a lump of clay, and then make a memorial out of it to create a symbolic representation of an event,” Blackburn said. “For instance, I saw one clay memorial dedicated to victims of the Holocaust.” Guest speakers will also come to talk about issues relating to the class and help develop class thinking and discussion. “Students in the class will be challenged by facing moral dilemmas and attempting to better understand the ethics in our society,” Blackburn said. The workload in the class will take a slightly different approach than that of most English classes. “Class will typically involve more class discussion on issues rather than analyzing stories in literature,” Blackburn said. If offered, the class will be available to juniors and seniors looking for an English elective in the 2010-2011 school year.

(1364) The Works of Shakespeare “If after every tempest comes such calms may the winds blow till they have wakened death, (Act II, Scene I). That’s good! That’s magic! I would take the class just for those two lines,” English teacher Paul Dunlap said, after reciting a passage from Shakespeare’s Othello. According to Dunlap, the Shakespeare English elective course is full of drama, intrigue and excitement. At the beginning of each semester Dunlap tells students, “I can’t promise that you’ll love Shakespeare, but I can promise that you will see that I love Shakespeare, and you’ll see why.” He also believes that his high level of enthusiasm will inevitably rub off on the students. “It’s hard to ignore somebody else’s enthusiasm,” Dunlap said. The class covers six plays that encompass each genre (comedy, tragedy and history) as well as a myriad of sonnets. “They will learn about the human experience,” Dunlap said. “Part of why people still study Shakespeare, watch his plays and turn them into movies is that he captures the questions that we still ask today about what it means to be human. No one’s done it as well since him.” Shakespeare is a unique class that concentrates on only one writer and focuses on theater and drama through plays. “I think that one of the things that Shakespeare invites you to do is struggle, and sometimes fail,”

making mistakes, since the material is so challenging, it can be refreshing to sometimes struggle and there’s no penalty for not knowing; there’s not a point value when you misinterpret a line.”

What students have to say: Taylor Wallau (12): “I really like the general structure of the class; we read mostly tragedies and one history at home, comedies in class, and we did a bonus project on a play of our choice, where we had the chance to act. The tragedies are the best, and the comedies are fun, but they can get confusing, so it is helpful to read them in class [because] Dunlap won’t let you miss any of Shakespeare’s dirty puns.” Tommy Huang (12): “My favorite assignment was the sonnet assignment, where each person in the class memorized and analyzed a sonnet and presented it to the class. I enjoyed exploring the different topics that Shakespeare wrote about and the beautiful lyricism incorporated into it. Shakespeare is commonly referenced in other works of literature, probably because it’s some of the best plots and writing ever done.” (1384) Escape Literature Tired of Tess? Want to murder Macbeth? Fortunately, for students desiring an alternative to classics and mainstream literature, there is an English class that allows for an “escape” from the ordinary: Escape Literature, taught by English teacher Jenny Munro. “We cover mystery, a little bit of horror and science fiction,” Munro said. According to Munro, most students taking the course have an interest in these genres. “Usually the students are quite enthusiastic because they’ve chosen a class where they’ve sort of selected the literature,” Munro said. Some of the books listed in the curriculum include Sherlock Holmes, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Frankenstein and stories by Edgar Allen Poe. Students collaborate on group projects and present on the books that they’ve read. There is also time for free reading in class once a week. According to Munro, the class also engages in discussions on the topics presented in the books. “We discuss real life issues that have to do with science and technology as well as man’s responsibility when he is exploring these things,” she said. “I would recommend this course to anyone who’s interested in reading some books that are a little different from what you get in other English classes.” What students have to say: Ami Kumar (11): “Students get to expand their horizons on what I believe is a not-so-well-known genre of literature. People tend to think that ‘escape literature’ is pretty much any literature, but it’s actually a combination of old mystery and science fiction (e.g. Agatha Cristie, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Edgar Allen Poe and Ray Bradbury).”

Edgar Allan Poe stories—acclaimed as the Father of Horror. Honestly, I didn’t really want to read Poe by myself because it may give me nightmares. I mean, what kind of a guy was he who could write about a murderer hiding his dead victim’s body beneath the planks of his floor and hearing its heart beat? I find it both fascinating and disturbing.” (1383) Short Fiction Students looking for reading material shorter than novels will be happy in Short Fiction. During the course of the semester, English teacher Marc Vincenti guides students through over 30 short stories, all by different authors. “The class is a chance to read writers who are alive now, writers who are so old they might be dead, writers who are, in fact, dead and writers who are very dead indeed but for some reason people still want to read their stories,” Vincenti said. Authors include the likes of Edgar Allen Poe, Richard Bausch and Herman Melville. Although students who take Short Fiction should be fond of reading, finding pleasure in the stories is easy. “[The stories] are not hard to enjoy,” Vincenti said. “They’re all page-turners.” The short length of the stories also allows for in-depth class discussions of the content, as well as talks about how the topics relate to the students on a personal level. “We’re able to take a magnifying glass to the human interests involved in the stories and also observe the authors’ techniques for writing,” Vincenti said. Some of the stories pose a bit of a challenge for students, Vincenti admits. However, he has found that when students finish the semester, they walk away having grown as a reader and a person and feel a sense of empowerment from overcoming some of the difficulties that the stories may present. The class is heavy in discussion and reading but light in homework— around two stories are assigned per week, along with one or two reading logs. Vincenti repeatedly checks in with his students to hear how they’re feeling school-wise and just with life in general. Occasionally, he will use some days to read aloud to the class, and students sometimes spend entire periods catching up on the assigned reading. Overall, Vincenti believes that most students will simply remember having a good time in Short Fiction.

What students have to say: Anton Savinov (12): “Some of the class discussions would get very deep and analytical, although for me the most memorable moments were the ones of silence right after Mr. Vincenti would finish reading a story, and everyone would keep listening for more. If you enjoy literature but you prefer something that isn’t what is usually read in school, this is the class for you.” Alice Li (12): “The class is different from all the other English

Course Spotlight classes I’ve taken. In other classes you analyze the reading and talk about your opinions, but in Short Fiction, you learn to see the story from the author’s point of view.”

World Languages NEW! (4029) Chinese AP Language and Culture Starting next year, Chinese teacher Yanan Vrudny will be teaching a new class: Mandarin Chinese Advance Placement (AP) Language and Culture. This new course will replace the current course Mandarin Chinese 4. While Mandarin Chinese 1, 2 and 3 concentrate around the student and his life, the AP class focuses on relating the student to the world. “It’s more helping the students to use the language in China,” Vrudny said. Prospective students will participate in more discussions, formalize Chinese sentences and write compositions. They will continue to learn more about the Chinese history and traditions. “Culture is the soil of the languages, and we cannot eliminate it,” Vrundy said. If qualified, students in Mandarin 3 and 4 have priority to take the class. Students who have never taken Chinese at Gunn will need to take a placement test equivalent to the Mandarin 3 final in May. “It really depends on the individual’s skills and abilities,” Vrudny said. (4148) French Civilization and Culture Honors The World Languages Instructional Supervisor Anne Jensen created this course to continue French for students who had taken the Advanced Placement (AP) French Language course. “It is a thematicoriented course,” Jensen said. “Students pursue their own interests in French.” The class mainly consists of completing projects, watching films and exploring the history, art and literature of different French eras. The class learns about francophone history and culture from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance up until modern day. For each era, students watch a film relevant to the time period. For example, when studying France in the 17th century, the classes watched some of the opera Marriage of Figaro. They also enjoyed a cheese tasting and learned about various French cheeses. The class holds discussions about ideas that French authors presented a couple of centuries ago. “We talk about how these ideas are applicable to the world we live in today,” Jensen said. Primarily, after each section, there are projects assigned, not tests. These projects vary greatly and involve a lot of creativity. One project asks students to pretend to be a character from Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables and write a poem or monologue in his tone. In the second semester, the class will explore the literature in other Francophone countries, such as Algeria and Canada. What students have to say: Deborah Chou (12): “I love reading the books introduced to us by Madame Jensen. A lot of them are extremely different from books we read in English and are centered around unique subject matters.” “I loved the cheese tasting we

had in class. You never expect something like that at school and we gained knowledge that we would otherwise never know.” “Although it’s a new course that hasn’t been taught before, I can’t really tell. It’s well-organized and I feel as if we explore things really in depth and its fun at the same time.” Natan Reddy (12): “I personally love history, so getting the chance to learn French history in class makes it fun for me.” “I really enjoy the fact that the French novels we’re reading in class are books that French people actually read. They’re legitimate books.” (4440) Spanish Civilization and Culture In Spanish Civilization and Culture, students learn about Spanish speaking countries through geography, food, customs and traditions. Spanish teacher Carol Stroud created this class three years ago for students who wanted to continue Spanish after their third year without the stress of an AP course. “By the time you get out of third year program you should know about the culture of the countries,” Stroud said. Students choose what is learned in class, and the class is oriented to their interests. “I think this class is for students who are fairly strong in Spanish and also really want to know about the people who speak it,” Stroud said. The class includes students with different speaking levels who work together to learn more about Spanish culture. Students who take this class must have passed Spanish 3 or have the capabilities of a third-year student. What students have to say: Sam Rusoff (11): “I think that what students get out of it is an education more about the cultures and histories of nations that are considered Spanish speaking.” “All of Spanish one through four is pretty much focused entirely on learning the words, vocabulary, and pronunciations, but this is less of a language class and more about culture and history.” Comfrey McCarthy (10): “I would recommend it for people who find Spanish interesting and want a basis for their language.”

Career/ Vocational Education (3247) Digital Electronics According to science teacher Bakari Holmes, schools in the area need to do a better job of exposing students to engineering. “[The students have] heard of it, their parents are in it, but they’ve never done it,” Holmes said. Digital Electronics covers basic engineering: electricity, fundamentals of circuits, computer software and a different form of algebra. With a collection of projects, deadlines and an end-of-the-year portfolio, Holmes has structured the class to emulate a company setting and prepare students for a life of engineering. Holmes has left a lot up to the students problem solving skills, but does not require them to have background in the subject. “There are a lot of different ways to solve a prob-

Monday, February 22, 2010 lem,” Holmes said. “Students who come in with nothing leave with a lot of knowledge. You use your brain and your hands.” The projects incorporate three aspects of the engineering world: logic, design and model. In the span of the semester, students build a digital dice game, create the controls of an elevator door, design a program to count votes and Holmes’s favorite, build a miniature robot. With consistent enrollment next year, Digital Electronics will continue to be a two-section class. It gives students college credit and offers outreach programs for students to teach others on the world of engineering. “If [students] are interested in how digital electronics work and how to apply [their] mathematics and sciences, I recommend it,” Holmes said. What students have to say: Isabel Giovacchini (11): “I chose Digital Electronics because I needed a CTE class but I wanted to learn something I hadn’t studied. I wanted to try something new. I knew nothing about electronics going into the class. I think it’s a great class because it isn’t totally structured and allows us to do a lot of problem solving and thinking. You get to make a lot of cool things while learning a lot. You learn a lot of skills that can be used in real life.” Eric Cramer (9): “I don’t find very much that is difficult in the class. If I had to choose, it would be meeting deadlines and remembering all of the material that we are taught. The class covers a wide range of subject matter—everything from LEDs and resistors to complex logic circuits. The best thing about this class is the atmosphere and learning skills that I will probably use in a job. Mr. Holmes also presents the material in an interesting way. I have enjoyed a few projects such as assembling electronic dice that light up, and designing and prototyping a voting machine.” (5043) Automotive Technology Like playing piano is to the pianist, building and fixing cars is to the automotive technician. Though becoming a master grease monkey takes years of practice, Automotive Technology (Auto) brings students one step closer by teaching the ins and outs of properly owning a car. “This class is simple, you use your hands, you can talk to your friends while you work and it’s like therapy compared to AP’s kind of like knitting,” Auto teacher Mike Camicia said. Auto 1 provides a comprehensive crash course designed to emphasize understanding automotive components, consumer awareness, preventive maintenance, trouble analysis and minor repairs. “You actually get to do something with your hands and brain to make something go,” Camicia said. “It could be anything from a piece of metal to a fully fledged car.” Under Camicia’s mentorship, students train to obtain the necessary skill sets needed to become responsible automotive owners. Instead of dishing out countless dollars on repairs, students can take what they learn through projects and lessons and apply it in the real world. Students in Auto undertake a yearlong project building a car

from scratch. “It’s called the ‘Surfwoody,’” Camicia said. “We take a plastic model of a car and make it come to life.” What students have to say: Korhan Badir (12): “I’ve learned more in Auto than any other class at Gunn. It’s so useful because everyone owns a car eventually.” “When you’re in a car that you’ve built, you can feel the noise of the car in your chest. You can feel the pistons, and it’s like your heart and the car’s heart are beating as one.” “We’re like Jedi, Mr. Camicia is like Yoda, and we’re his disciples.” Sabina Gude (12): “Most of us drive or are going to drive so it’s important to learn about what you’re driving and cars in general.” “Because of Auto, I’m able to understand things that happen inside the car. I’m able to fix small things that go wrong in the car that I was never able to take on before.” (5613) Fiber Arts Fiber Arts is an artistic getaway for students craving something a little different and relaxing. It’s a class for anyone interested in learning new skills and who likes handson activities. The class teaches students how to design and create their own masterpieces by working with textiles and fabrics. “They learn a lot of skills that they use throughout their life,” Fiber Arts teacher Cindy Peters said. The class focuses on how to design fabrics, use a sewing machine and appliqué, which is adding ornaments to another surface. Students work on projects with their sewing machines on a daily basis. The class also allows students to meet new people who share similar interests. “The kids make a lot of good friends,” Peters said. The lessons can also bring out unknown skills, as most of the activities exercise the students’ creativity and hand dexterity. These abilities may even prove to be beneficial in the long run as a career starter. “[The students are] learning a lot of skills that they may use throughout their life,” Peters said. In the pillow and quilt projects, students learn how to design and create their own inventions from scratch. To start, they draw a model of their project. Next, they work with fabrics and other materials to assemble their final product. For those who like to work with their hands and come up with ideas, this may be the class for you. “[It’s] relaxing, fun and creative,” Peters said. What students have to say: Lara Fromherz (12): “I love how my quilt turned out. It was a lot of work and really got on my nerves at times, but it was well worth it. I also liked being able to talk with my friends throughout the entire period and everyday. I made some really great friends and got a lot of their helpful input on my work.” “I’d recommend this class to almost anyone. The things you learn are really useful, even for every day life. It’s also a very chill class and a good stress releaser. There is no homework, and the individual work can be very meditative.” Kaan Badir (12): “I learned that I had to keep working efficiently and when doing something you need


to just take your time and not rush through. Also, you need to get the right measurements for your pillow/ quilt. You’re going to need it.” Thomas Van Duyne (12): “The thing I remembered most about my class is my awesome Hello Kitty pillow.” NEW! (8569) Introduction to Engineering Design Next year students enrolled in the new yearlong Introduction to Engineering Design course will be able to use 3-D design software to create almost anything within their imaginations. “It’s an introduction to how to think like an engineer,” science teacher Bakari Holmes said. “Students aren’t just learning math and science concepts, but actually applying them and seeing how they are useful in their life, how to solve everyday problems and how they would apply to a future career.” According to Holmes, the course will be one-third theory or lecture -based and two-thirds application based, with students spending a large portion of their time working on various projects. Students will start sketching designs with basic notebooks and pencils. Once they become more familiar with the design process, they will move onto using the Autodesk Inventor 3-D design software and eventually, a 3-D printer. “Instead of printing with ink, it uses this thermoplastic that is really pliable and sturdy,” Holmes said. The thermoplastic is melted down to a semiliquid state and is then deposited in layers of about one one-thousandth of an inch to create a functional 3-D model of whatever was designed. The course is mostly geared towards freshmen, but is open to all grades. Holmes also expressed an interest in recruiting female students into what is traditionally a field dominated by males. “[Girls] are underrepresented in this area but usually do really well in my courses,” Holmes said. If all goes as planned, Gunn is expected to have a full-fledged engineering program in a couple years. “We are really unique in the fact that we are actually pushing and developing an engineering program at the high school level,” Holmes said.

Check out The Oracle Web site (http://gunn. home) for descriptions of other courses: (5851) Interior Design (4540/4541) Criminal and Civil Law/Law 1 (1332) Film Literature (7601) Analysis of the Writer’s Craft (1457/1453) Beginning Journalism / Advanced Journalism (1469) Classical Mythology (1334) College Prep Skills

10 Visual Arts

Course Spotlight

The Oracle

(6150) Photography Some people quiver at the sound of having to complete an art credit. Most think the only option is drawing or painting but in Photo 1 students get to utilize technology to make art. “I have had athletic students and very academic students who were wary about taking an art class,” photo teacher Jennifer Hogan said. “But they have found that they have a good eye and really enjoy it.” Hogan recommends this class to sophomores and juniors so they have time in the next couple of years to continue with photo. “We have a lot of work time,” Hogan said. “Students will go out during the class period to take pictures for our projects.” The class still has lectures on the composition of photography and also computer lab time where students use software to enhance their photos. Each project tries to highlight a certain type of software or style. The final project is a portfolio of the student’s work. Students are encouraged to enter photography competitions, and these are worked into the class time. Throughout the years the Photo 1 students have done well in district, national and local competitions. “The funny thing about a good photo is that it depends on the audience that is looking at it,” Hogan said. What students have to say: Hamilton Yu (11): “I love the simplicity of black and white photography.” “My favorite project was the nature assignment. I went to the Los Altos woods and took pictures of the winter trees. I tried to capture the immensity of them.” Edoardo De Armas (11): “I tipped a chair over on the floor and had someone sit in it. Then I flipped the picture around so it looked like they were sitting.” (6262) Graphic Design Graphic design, as art teacher Mark Gleason describes it, is “art that people can use and is meant to have some sort of function.” Graphic Design is a class that incorporates the elements and principles of art to explore visual and design problems presented to the students in the form of projects. “The whole class is basically a series of problems and solutions,” Gleason said. The students fulfill the tasks given to them usually digitally through programs like InDesign or Photoshop, although other mediums, such as clay, are used occasionally. Another key part of the class is understanding how to create a cohesive design that can relate messages or emotions to a targeted audience through image placement or color. Although art is a major focus of the class, Graphic Design also has a professional aspect. “It helps people with vocational experience, which is why it also offers Career/Voc. Ed. credits,” Gleason said. Gleason teaches two periods of Graphic Design, and each class contains basic and advanced levels. What students have to say: Ben Goldman (12): “[Graphic design] gives a good compositional sense which is useful for almost any job. You learn a lot about composition, color theory, and color psychology, which are all really

important. Mr. Gleason is also really chill. He lets you go in any direction you want and he doesn’t give a lot of instruction which I think is really important because he makes sure you learn through experience instead of lecture.” Suzanne MacPherson (12): “I took the class because I wanted to expand my knowledge about different types of art. I really liked the self-portrait vectoring project. Mr. Gleason is a good teacher because he’s really relaxed and lets students take on their projects by themselves.” (6268) Ceramics/Sculpture Headed by art teacher Erik Bowman, the sculpture program encourages students to dream up their own original creations and build them out of materials like clay, wood, metal and plaster. “We have a lot to offer and sculpture is a great artistic medium,” Bowman said. “We do a variety of really interesting processes and use lots of different materials.” According to Bowman, students first take Art Spectrum as a prerequisite, where they are exposed to different art mediums, then continue with Ceramics/Sculpture, which introduces them to the different sculpture materials and processes such as wheel-throwing, bronze casting and wood working and fabrication. Students become more independent in the Advanced Sculpture 1 and 2 courses, taking on more ambitious large-scale projects and visit museums and galleries. Sculpture students can also use the library courtyard as a gallery space to display their finished products and gain a public opinion of their work. Most students take Sculpture simply because they enjoy it. “We get about a quarter of students who continue on to art school,” Bowman said. “The rest are just drawn to it. It’s something they are going to have and take with them for the rest of their lives but may not necessarily go to a school and study.” What students have to say: Jennifer Chang (10): “My most memorable moment was on the last day of school before Winter Break. We had a marshmallow roasting party and a since we didn’t have a snow machine to make snow we used a fog machine.” “Mr. Bowman is awesome. He’s really chill and he comes up with amazing ideas for sculptures. He once made a bronze hand with a saw positioned over it.” Britt Jensen (12): “I like the freedom to create without too much stress on technique.” “Beyond the actual sculptures we create, which are of course memorable, I always enjoy the things you hear in the sculpture class. Like: ‘Oh my face needs a nose job’ or ‘Oops, my head just fell off!’” “I would recommend sculpture to everyone because as I said, the ability to feel and connect with the materials in sculptural forms brings out the creativity in everyone. So all you need is an open mind.” (6340) Drawing and Painting If you’re interested in art, you can take Drawing and Painting regardless of your artistic ability. “I want to make it really clear that anyone can draw and paint,” art teacher Deanna Messinger said. “All it takes is a lot

of motivation and passion.” According to Messinger, while outside of school drawing classes and lessons will help students get started, they are not a necessity. A nice aspect of Drawing and Painting is the small class size. With about 15 students in Drawing and Painting and even fewer students in the advanced classes, students get more attention and access to materials. “Most of the period is spent playing and working,” Messinger said. “Playing is a big part which involves exploration and experimentation and results in discovery and understanding.” According to Messinger, Drawing and Painting courses are offered to give students a chance to explore the world through a new medium. The course has “assignments that are designed to build the artist’s tool belt to improve technical and expressive skills,” Messinger said. Drawing and Painting is intended for aspiring artists to get their feet wet by learning new skills; they can then continue on to Advanced Drawing and Painting 1 and Advanced Drawing and Painting 2, where they get more freedom to express themselves through art. What students have to say: Helen Sol (11): “We get assignments, but I like how we get to choose our own concepts and connect them in a deeper level. The class is also an open environment and it’s really small so we can all talk and share.” “[This class is good for] students that are working on their portfolio who are getting serious about art.” Jerman (11): “My eye has gotten a lot better. I used to have trouble getting down the image on the paper. Now I can skip over the sketching and get the art on the canvas.”

Performing Arts (1070) Theatre For students who have always desired to take center stage, Theatre 1 is a great way to get in on the “ground floor of Gunn Theatre,” theatre teacher Jim Shelby said This yearlong course available to all grades addresses a variety of acting basics through activities such as improvisation games, monologues and learning the techniques of stage combat. “It doesn’t get much better than theatre class at Gunn,” Shelby said. Though some students have a background in acting, there is no pre-requisite for taking this course. “It’s not only for people who want to become actors,” Shelby said. “It’s good for anybody because whatever you’re going to be doing in your life, you’re going to be making presentations.” According to Shelby, Theatre provides a safe environment for students to practice speaking on stage. “Nervousness is totally natural, so we deal with that in a way that doesn’t make you feel dumb,” he said. For those who enjoy their first taste of theatre, there is also Theatre 2, 3 and 4, in which more advanced skills and techniques are covered. “In Theatre 2, it’s mostly sophomores and juniors and it’s more serious,” Shelby said. Whether or not students are natural-born actors, Theatre 1 is a class that can be enjoyed by all.

“People laugh a lot in that class, we do a lot of laughing,” Shelby said. What students have to say: Megan Zhang (10): “ Theatre is a totally hands-on class. I remember always looking forward to A period, when I did not have to sit in a desk and take notes but actually got up and experienced something in order to learn it.” “Theatre is a great class for students looking to further their public speaking skills and ability to perform before any kind of audience. Even if you just want to meet some people and make new friends, theatre is perfect for that. Outgoing, participating people generally do well in theatre, but it is also a great opportunity for those shy ones to open up.” Ian Fitzgerald (9): “It’s worth meeting all these people that are interested in the same subject as you are and also it’s worth it because you take skills that aren’t just for being on stage, but for going through life.” (1203) Dramatic Literature in Performance (Shakespeare in Performance) This interdisciplinary English and theatre course is available to juniors and seniors during the fall semester and is taught by both theatre teacher Jim Shelby and English teacher Paul Dunlap. The class spans C and D period, so students taking it essentially have a two-hour course. “When you go Dramatic Lit, your C and D periods are back to back so that’s two hours a day, except days when there’s only D or C,” Shelby said. “So the bell will ring in the middle and we don’t have to get up and go—we’ll continue.” The class alternates between years of teaching Shakespeare in Performance and years of Dramatic Literature in Performance. English and theatre are intertwined together, with Shelby teaching theatre and Dunlap teaching English. However, according to Dunlap, the line between subjects is often blurred. “We explore the connection between drama and English,” Dunlap said. “It’s messy but wonderful.” According to Shelby, the class is also very fun and relaxed. The two teachers like to start the class by greeting the students in different languages, such as Columbian and Indonesian, and put a twist on ordinary vocabulary for English by having their students act out or even sing their vocabulary words. The only requirement for the class, Shelby said, is to stay open to learning new things and be ready to fully commit. What students have to say: Daniel Wallach (12): “Dramatic Literature in Performance teaches everything but Shakespeare, stretching all the way from the Greeks and going up all the way to contemporary playwrights, so we have a general idea of the history of dramatic literature as well as performing just as in Shakespeare in Performance.” “When Mr. Shelby teaches, like when we’re doing acting and theatrical skits, it’s almost as if Mr. Dunlap becomes one of us. Then when Mr. Dunlap teaches and we’re talking about English, Mr. Shelby will kind of become one of us. At least that’s how it feels.” “We have our final, which for the Shakespeare class is the Hamlet

Cycle, where we are selected to perform in two scenes and direct one scene. That’s a big thing for us. As struggling as the rehearsal process can be, as tedious as it can be and how many shouts and screams and joys and cries there will be, the product turns out wonderful.” Musical Offerings “Regardless of if you’ve played at Gunn or somewhere else, we’d love to have you in our music program,” Band teacher Todd Summers said. Gunn’s music program offers band, orchestra and choir. “We offer highly intensive programs, meant to challenge the most talented kids on campus,” Summers said. Gunn also offers programs for students who don’t have a musical background. “If a student doesn’t come into the program during their freshman year…we have a place where they can catch up,” he said. The music program covers many different types of music ranging from pop to classical music. The experience of playing all different styles of music comes in handy to students who want to audition to get into all country or all state musical groups. “We get several students into all state and/or all county groups each year,” he said. Students in the music program also have opportunities to perform and to travel. “All of the concerts, performances and trips are high points, from the smaller concerts in middle school to the larger ones in Spangenberg,” Summers said. “[When we travel] we play in exchange concerts with other high schools, receive clinics from nationally recognized conductors and spend time on college campuses as well as competing in national competitions.” One of the best reasons to take this course is because students seem to genuinely like it. “The nice thing about this program is that kids are here because they want to play and perform,” Summers added. “A year of visual and performing arts is required, but kids seem to come and stick around for all four years. We get the opportunity to work with kids all four years. This gives us a strong sense of family.” What students have to say: Orchestra student Torey Butner (9):“Each piece of music is harder than the others. It requires hard technique, fingering and annotation.” “It is nice to hear how other instruments blend in with the violin.” “I’m learning a lot, there is different musical qualities in each piece, and it’s helping me become better.” Band student Kathrina Onate (11): “To take this class, first and foremost you should love music, not only do you have to be a musician, but you have to understand how music works in a sense that you can’t just play notes, you have to follow the conductor and understand the dynamics and tempo of the piece and listen to the people around you.” Choir student Yen Yaun (9): “I liked preparing for the choir show, it’s really fun dancing and singing with people.” Choir student Julia Wettersten (9): “We sing a lot of cool songs. We are singing 50s songs like ‘Lollypop’ and ‘Walk Around the Clock.’ and ‘We Go Together.’”

Course Spotlight Social Studies

(1604) Holocaust “Holocaust,” the official name for “Facing History and Ourselves: The Sociology of Genocide” invites students eager to learn more about the causes of genocides and the role human behavior plays in bringing them about. “Most people think it’s just a history class,” history teacher Roni Habib said. “It’s not just a history class.” Habib believes that the class impacts students’ perspectives of themselves and about life. “It changes their lives—they are a lot more conscious, a lot more aware of the things around them and care more about being aware,” he said. Habib also has a weekly activity called “Triumphs and Commitments.” “[Students] have to come up with something they feel triumphant about,” Habib said. The course also encourages students to set goals as well as meditate to increase self-awareness. “You’re constantly thinking about who you are, how you interact in society, and understanding what makes us human,” he said. The course is based on interactive class activities rather than lectures. According to Habib, students write in journals, discuss issues, watch movies like Schindler’s List and read books like Elie Wiesel’s Night. A class discussion on the phrase “That’s so gay” appeared in the video shown during last year’s Not In Our Schools assembly. The class is open to juniors and incoming seniors and is usually offered as a second semester class. What students have to say: Donna Rich (11): “It’s interesting if you’re interested in psychology and you want to know about how Hitler and all the people that he manipulated to join the Nazi party’s minds work and think about what’s under the surface in these kinds of events.” “We learn about what it means to be a victim, a bystander and a perpetrator.” Bisrat Abraha (12): “The workload is great because I have time to really focus on each assignment. Obviously we discuss the Holocaust but we will also go over other genocides and discuss how genocides even happen in the first place. It’s a class I think everybody would be really excited about because instead having to memorize a million facts we get to have really good class discussions.” (1694) American Studies Every other year an interdisciplinary history and English class is offered to juniors, combining American Literature and U.S. History in two back-to-back classes called American Studies. The class is divided into an English period and history period, which are taught by English teacher Diane Ichikawa and social studies teacher Lynne Navarro respectively. “Students might have history B period and English C period, which is nice because if we’re having a great discussion in the history class, we can carry over into the English portion of the class,” Na-

varro said. “This allows us to go more in depth to connect with the literature. For example, during the Great Depression Unit, we look at the photography of Dorothea Lange, and they read The Grapes of Wrath in English.” Having the classes one after another also means that there is never a typical day in American Studies, according to Navarro. “Sometimes the students will spend an hour with me and then with the English teacher, and sometimes they’ll spend two hours with me and won’t even see her,” Navarro said. “Sometimes we have guest speakers. We really try to change it around a lot.” Any junior can take American Literature, which will be offered during the 2010-2011 school year, “Some students take it because they’re already into both of those subjects,” Navarro said. “Some take it because they love English but don’t love history or vice versa, and they’re hoping that by putting them together, it will make one subject easier. I recommend this class for everybody, and I wish we taught all of our classes this way.” What students have to say: Stephanie Calderon (12): “I liked how everyone knew each other since it was a really small class, so you get to know everyone.” “Having the class combined really makes sense. If you have the separate classes you might not understand the material and having it combined really made it easier to understand everything.”

Math (2403) Problem Solving Problem Solving is a math class that combines quick thinking, a competitive edge and a love for math that solves difficult problems. Math teacher Peter Herreshoff teaches Problem Solving after school on Mondays and Fridays. “Students have a passion for math,” Herreshoff said. Herreshoff spends time during class helping students individually. The problem solving class spends time preparing for several math competitions, such as the American Math Competition and Mandelbrot. Students prepare for some competitions by doing tests from previous years. Problem Solving generally places in the top of the Bay Area Math Olympiad and Stanford math tournaments, with several students coming close to making the six person USA International Math Team. Nine students from Gunn qualified for the United States of America Math Olympiad out of five hundred students in the nation, giving a very competitive edge to the class. Competing provides an incentive to self-improvement by applying what students have learned during the school year to situations that need to be solved quickly. “ An exercise is a question which you know how to solve immediately because you have answered essentially the same question before, although solving it may take some time and care,” Herreshoff said.


Monday, February 22, 2010 “In contrast a problem requires you to figure out what approach to take, it may require experimentation with different methods.” According to Herreshoff, it is a more creative and rewarding process. Problem solving is a math class held in high respect, for those who enjoy math to the fullest and are interested in competing at several different levels of math competitions. What students have to say: Ethan Kim (12): “ I like being with other people who are on the same level as me, solving problems together and helping each other.” “A lot of the material we cover in class is a bit difficult. But it’s not to the level where you can’t understand it.” Cody Schuffelen (11): “The class is good because Mr. Herreshoff works with us individually so that we each work on our own level.” “We have math competitions sometimes during school, sometimes after school.” (2489) Advanced Placement Computer Science Advance Placement (AP) Computer Science appeals to students who are interested in both programming and math. It gives students a chance to analyze computer code, and the course covers the study of the theoretical foundations of information and computation and of practical techniques for their implementation and application in computer systems. Many students find that the skills they learn transfer well to a college-level class, as the class covers 75 percent of a year of computer science at Berkeley. According to math teacher Josh Paley, unlike a typical problem a student would solve in math class, AP Computer Science allows students to reach a solution in many different ways. It’s called “project-based learning” because it gives students the chance to truly think through the solution process. “I think it’s a richer experience to have a problem description that is not so clear-cut, lots of possible solution paths and lots of possible solutions,” Paley said. “This is something I hope I can make possible in a CS class without stressing out the students.” Paley said he wanted to clear up a perception most students have about computer science. Taking AP Computer Science does not guarantee the student will major in computer science. “It’s fundamental for all majors, whether they are math, biology or physical sciences, to be somewhat proficient in programming,” Paley said. “It gives you a competitive edge in problem solving. It’s not the 1970s anymore; without computer knowledge in 2010 you are at a disadvantage.” What students have to say: Omer Zach (12): “I plan to use what I learned in AP Computer Science for my career in the future, and was even able to use some of the things I learned in an internship last summer.”

“The most memorable thing about AP Computer Science was definitely the time Mr. Paley received a call from the police and found out his house had been broken into, then he grabbed his baseball bat and ran out the door.” “Mr. Paley was certainly the best thing about AP Computer Science. He finds the perfect balance between giving students time to work on whatever they want and giving short lectures to explain harder new concepts.” (3283) Animation in a Virtual World Animation in a Virtual World, a class taught by math teacher Josh Paley, gives students a chance to discover how digital animation works. The class provides students a fun and creative approach to use the computer to express themselves. Each student creates their own “world,” in which various objects can move around. The tool, called “Alice,” makes it quite simple to create animation sequences. Simply click on the object, choose a path (or paths) for it to follow and drag and drop them together. These actions create a sequence of animation that the objects will then flow through. According to Paley, one of his objectives in teaching the class is to have more girls involved in computer science classes. “Since 1999, the lowest ratio of boys to girls in a computer science class is five to one,” Paley said. “Half of our population won’t be engineers because they think it’s not worth it.” Paley said he designed this class to appeal more to girls: more storytelling, games and, of course, animation. Many students take the chance to express their creativity by designing their own landscapes and characters. “I’m basically teaching an art class,” Paley said. “Less emphasis on the design and story plot but still an art class.” The class is open to all grade levels and requires one to two hours of homework a night. What students have to say: Michelle Stevenson (12):­ “I like to animate because it’s fun and rewarding. I’ve always loved animated movies and I’ve always wanted to learn how it works.” “There is both a technical and creative aspect of the class and I was able to focus on learning the technical aspect of animation and learn how it all comes together. All you need for this class is a general interest and curiosity for animation, and you will just learn as you go along.” “Animation has always been an interest of mine and it’s something I really enjoy. I definitely want to pursue learning it in the future.” Keenan Venuti (10): “There was one main project that we did and that was to make an animation including certain code for the animation. I made a game that I worked on for most of the semester and eventually put it online on a forums Web site. As the class goes it’s a fun program, only limited by imagination.”

Science (3955) Biotechnology Biotechnology is a science

elective for juniors and seniors designed to teach students primarily through labs. “In a typical science class, one usually begins with the theory and then selects labs to support the theory,” biotechnology teacher Geri Horsma wrote in an e-mail. “In biotech we lead with the labs and then connect the theory related to the labs.” The course is about 80 percent lab based. This gives students a chance to learn to work safely and raise their expertise for conducting lab work independently. Students study biotechnology through a variety of labs, speakers and field trips. Examples of experiments include learning how to extract and cut DNA, determining the suitability of plant samples as potential drugs and simulating the processes of pharmaceutical drug development. Since labs are a large part of biotechnology, students get a more hands-on approach compared to most sciences. “It is great fun for me to see students learn to become more confident, skilled and independent in the lab as they develop their trouble shooting and critical thinking skills,” Horsma wrote. “I love to see students awaken to become more aware of the biotech going on around them and see new possibilities for their own career and college decisions.” What students have to say: Kaan Badir (12): “You get to learn about the genome and the DNA structure, and you’ll see the complexity of how the DNA structures relates to the human body and the brain, and how complex it is compared to normal animals.” “This class is mainly for students who are curious and responsible at the same time, because you need to want to learn new stuff and you’ll have to take care of a notebook that records everything you do in class, which becomes a large part of your grade.” “Ms. Horsma is a nice teacher, I would definitely recommend going to her class and taking the Biotechnology class.” Sonia Ran (12): “Students will get an opportunity to work in a real lab setting where you do labs constantly and we’re using really advanced technology, definitely not like what you’d use for Biology 1, so it’s a good experience.” “It doesn’t sound like it, but it’s actually a really relaxed atmosphere because all we do are labs. There are only a couple tests and really limited homework, so you get to use the entire period to focus on the labs. You learn by doing, and you develop your lab technique.” —Compiled by Krishan Allen, Maya Ambady, Sweta Bhattacharya, Melissa Chan, Jazreel Cheung, Samantha Donat, Tara Golshan, Anne Hsiao, Jesse Klein, Eden Lauffer, Elise Lee, Nicola Park, Mati Pluska-Renaud, Jennie Robinson, Divya Shiv, Leon Sung, Lisa Wu, May Wu and Lydia Zhang



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Monday, February 22, 2010

readies robot for battle

Recovery mechanism: Reckless driving over speed bumps may flip the robot on its back. Luckily, GRT’s powerful robotic arm can right the robot in seconds. “It’s stronger than Mr. Dunbar,” senior GRT captain Neil Bhateja said. Finale grappling hook: In the finale, a stiff measuring tape will hook a metal claw onto the monkey bars. Then, a strong motor pulls the G-Force off the ground for the extra two points. This feature can’t be used when the recovery mechanism is in operation.

Kicker: Similar to a crossbow in design, the kicker can chip the ball up to eight feet high and send it flying around 40 feet. “It smacks the balls into walls with considerable force,” senior Corey Breier said.

Battery: Similar to what you would find in a large motorcycle, this 12 volt lead-acid battery gives the G-Force its juice.

Frame: A strong, light skeleton of welded metal supports all of the robot’s intricate innards.

The 2010 Challenge

Drive train: Like a tank, the GForce’s left and right wheels are controlled independently. Lower center wheels on either side of the robot allow the robot to turn around in place. Electronics board: The robot’s brain. The electronic system controls all the other devices and collects data from light and vision sensors on the front of the robot. Every motorized part of the G-Force is run by computer programs written by GRT members.

Red Alliance Goals


Courtesy of Gunn Robotics Team

Suspension system: A series of coil springs welded between the drive train and the frame absorbs the impact of rolling over speed bumps.

Rollers: Two rollers placed in a V-shape at the front of the robot control the ball. The rollers give the ball enough backspin so that the robot can even drive backward without losing control. The rollers spin at up to 3000 RPM.

Speed Bumps Blue Alliance Goals

Platforms with towers on top

This year’s robotic challenge, Breakaway, is essentially a three-on-three soccer match played with 12 balls. The robots compete on a 27 by 54 foot field divided into three sections by speed bumps. Each game lasts for two minutes and 15 seconds and starts with a 15-second autonomous period during which the robots are self-controlled. The goal of the game is to rack up as many points as possible by shooting balls into the two goals located on your team’s side of the pitch. Each goal is worth one point. Near the end of the match robots gain two extra points by pulling themselves up onto the tower or climbing onto the team’s platform. Hanging your team’s robot off another robot that is suspended from the monkey bars is worth three points. One noteworthy rule is that the soccer balls can only protrude three inches into the the robot’s frame which prevents it from picking up balls.

Nathan Toung

Jon Proctor Editor-in-chief

The Mission: Build a Robotic Pelé For the annual For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) robotics competition, teams get six short weeks to design, build and test their robot. Using the build season to its full potential, Gunn Robotics Team (GRT) members live and breathe robotics every day after school until 9 p.m. and even longer on the weekends. “I’m working harder than I’ve ever worked before, but I’m having the most fun of my life,” junior Edoardo De Armas said. “It’s like a startup company,” GRT advisor Bill Dunbar said. “There is a tremendous amount of energy and enthusiasm, but we’re always on the brink of failure.” But as Dunbar’s smiling “I failed today” stickers stuck around the GRT room suggest, failure is inevitable and should be embraced. According to Dunbar, the robots for the FIRST competition that Gunn enters each year are intended to be professional, not high school, projects. The competition allows high school students to watch and follow professional engineering.

“Students have to drive the robots. In some teams that’s all the students do,” Dunbar said. “The project is so difficult that no one expects students to do it themselves.” Except in GRT. Tackling the Challenge One programmed gadget at a time, the team brings its Zidane to life. To divide the work into manageablße tasks, the team broke up into nine project groups: kicker, rollers, recovery, finale, controls, structures, drive train, animation and chairman’s award. “There are such a huge number of problems to solve,” senior electronics lead Anand Gupta said. “Some are basic like, ‘How do you get your robot moving?’ and some are more complex, such as, ‘Why does a theoretically solid solution not work on the actual robot?’” To solve each problem, the groups usually brainstorm a bunch of solutions and then choose five to 10 designs to build out of wood. Students then make metal versions of the most promising prototypes and test them. To facilitate communication between the teams, “foreign exchange students” mix from group to group

to share information and haggle for frame-space. “The robot is short and has a low center of gravity, which limits the space available for each attachment,” senior GRT captain Neil Bhateja said. “There are many little components, but now we’re trying to mix them together in the most efficient way.” Going into the challenge, the team’s highest priority is ball control, followed by getting over speed bumps smoothly and performing well in the finale. Robo-fun GRT members waste no time finding other ways to amuse themselves when welding, programming and animating get old. Races to move a Ritz cracker from your forehead into your mouth without using your hands and prank wars are some of the team’s favorites. “I took [Nick Loyola’s] wallet and hid his cards in the bathroom,” senior Matthew Stephens said. “He then nuggetted my backpack and hid the stuff all around the big room. I threw garbage in his cubby, and it went downhill from there.” GRT members also shatter the nerdy stereotype with their democratically-recognized and irresist-

ible romantic pull. “We’ve had the ‘most desirable male’ out of the graduating class on GRT two out of the past four years,” Bhateja said. And the storage room? It’s called the “Chamber of Secrets.” It’s game time The best time to watch GRT and their robot, G-Force 2010, compete is March 20 at 1 p.m. at San Jose State University in the FIRST robotics regional competition. GRT’s 60 members will also compete in a regional competition on March 4 through 6 in San Diego and the FIRST national robotics competition from April 15 to 17 in Atlanta, Ga. GRT plans to ship its robot for competition this Tuesday. Get animated GRT is the only robotic team out of thousands of teams across the country to have won the national animation competition twice— first in 1997 and most recently in 2006. “We create life, not robots,” senior Melody Ma said. “We must perfect every movement.” This year’s challenge is to identify a problem in the world and demonstrate a solution in a 30 second animation. GRT’s anima-

tion depicts building fishing farms as a solution to overfishing, which “causes drastic changes in an ecosystem allowing jellyfish to take over,” senior animation team captain Joe Perry said. While the animation team finished their project on time, they ran into some powerful trouble last week during the blackout when they were rendering their animation the morning it was due. Luckily, although GRT missed the 5 p.m. deadline, it recieved an extension and submitted it the next day. Life after GRT Many GRT alums have continued to pursue their love of engineering with amazing success. Former GRT students have worked on the Mars Exploration Rover and at SpaceX—a private company that plans to launch civilians into space. In addition, Blake Sessions, GRT alum of 2007, was recently featured in a Wall Street Journal article for setting up a milling machine in his dorm room to manufacture high-tech bicycle parts. “There are exams to test how much you know, but something more valuable than knowledge is experience,” Dunbar said.



The Oracle

Where isn’t the love? Emily Zheng

I love you. Those three words form the world’s most soughtafter phrase. Almost everyone desires to feel love, but few know what it truly is, making “I love you” one of the most misused and overused phrases today. Before I jump into things, I’ll make a quick disclaimer: Friends, I’m sorry to say that I am no love expert. I’m just a worn-out, frustrated high school journalist trying to come to terms with a phrase whose inherent sacredness is being largely compromised. In short, you all need to stop throwing “I love you” around like it’s free money. I’ll admit it – I’ve contributed more than I’m proud of to the pollution of this phrase. I’ve told people I loved them even when I knew I didn’t mean it. I guess when someone tells you he or she loves you, you feel obligated to return it. It’s just awkward if you don’t. Does this sound familiar? I’m sure it does. But this shouldn’t be happening. We shouldn’t tell someone we love them unless we actually mean it. Saying “I love you” out of obligation or even from peer pressure just isn’t right. So what is love anyway? Well, to be honest, I don’t think you can fully define love and do it any justice. And the more we try to define it, the more we chip away at its true meaning. We’ve all watched or read things that gave us a certain definition of love. But the problem is that we only see the motions and hear the words that are backed up by love. So we try to replay these actions and words in our own life. Like I said before, we all want to feel like we’re in love, so we convince ourselves that it’s true: Hey, she talked to me—this must be love. Hey, he kissed me—this must be love. Hey, we’re going out—we must be in love. Okay, I’m exaggerating a bit, but you get my point. What we fail to realize, or choose to ignore, is that love is more than just actions and words. Love is commitment; love is sacrifice; love is, as my best friend often reminds me, unconditional. We expect nothing in return from those we love. For the most part, I’ve been talking about romantic love, but this also applies to friendships. People tend to think that you automatically love your friends, but is that true? Most of the time it isn’t. Sure, you can really-really-really like all of your friends, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you love all of them. Just think about it: if you “love” all of your friends, doesn’t that take away from the actual meaning of the word? We might as well use “love” as a substitute for “like.” In fact, we’re already doing it. There are friends that I do truthfully love. But that doesn’t mean I love every single one of my friends. And if you take offense at that, it only further magnifies how compromised your definition of love is. We all know that we don’t love everyone we say we do. Love is reserved for those closest to you, for those people you seriously find it difficult to live without. However, we should still strive to love those around us unconditionally. And although the way that love is shown varies from person to person, the meaning itself stays the same. It is just that some people have more love, some have less; some people are more open about it and say it more often and some rarely do. But truthfully, I really hope that we can all strive to become more loving, and to actually live it out. So, please don’t tell someone you love them unless you can really back it up. Not out of obligation, not from pressure and definitely not because “everyone else says it.” Save these three words for the right person. Preserve the meaning for those closest to you. And above all, love as much as you truly and possibly can. —Zheng, a junior, is a Features Editor.

The chemistry behind romance

It all begins with a spark. “You get butterflies in your stomach,” sophomore David Chang said. “You think about her and you can’t wait to see her again. You feel light-hearted and giddy and every moment you share with her feels like you’re invincible and on top of the world.” The feelings of love are universal, but few know about the chemistry that lies behind them. When a person first falls in love, there is an explosion of dopamine, nonepinephrine and phenylethylamine (PEA) in the body. Dopamine is a neurohormone that acts on the sympathetic nervous system, causing the heart to beat fast. Nonepinephrine is a chemical that triggers the release of adrenaline, boosting the supply of oxygen throughout the body. Finally, PEA is a trace amphetamine that leads to that happy, lovestruck feeling. It is also found in chocolate, explaining why it can help boost spirits on a down day. “The feeling is similar to a runner’s high,” science teacher Katie Settle said. It’s a mystery why two people fall in love, but researchers have found why certain people don’t fall in love. The major histocompatibility complex (MHC) is an extremely gene-dense region on chromosome six that is responsible for immune responses. Swiss zoologist Claus Wedekind conducted an experiment in which a group of women were given different T-shirts men had slept in to smell. The women chose the shirts of men with dissimilar MHCs to their own. MHC genes produce MHC molecules that can recognize foreign invaders through a person’s scent. If two people’s MHC genes are too similar, they will unknowingly reject each other. Pheromones, chemicals that produce a person’s unique scent, play another role in drawing two people together. Pheromones are released from the skin at pulse points, where the body produces more heat. These hot spots are located on the neck, the wrist, the outer ear and the elbow fold. The influence of pheromones can also be seen in insects like ants and bees.

Males are attracted to the hormones females emit. “They follow the scent and almost become semi-addicted to it,” biology teacher Katherine Moser said. “That’s why they stay together.” Humans share a similar addiction to each other in the beginning stage of a relationship. Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) scans have revealed lower levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that affects a person’s mood. The lower levels are similar to those found in people with obsessive-compulsive disorders, which is why when a person is in love, he can’t think of anyone other than his special someone. However, the initial infatuation soon fades. After anywhere from 18 months to four years, the body gets used to the increased amounts of stimulants. As a result, the brain begins releasing endorphins and chemicals like vasopressin and oxytocin instead. They work together to form a more intimate, steady and dependable relationship. Although these chemicals do not have the same effect as PEA and dopamine, they are equally as addicting. The longer people are together, the more likely they’ll continue to stay together. Time flies by, and suddenly they become an 80-year-old couple, walking down the street holding hands.

—Monica Cai


Monday, February 22, 2010


The Oracle presents various perspectives on mankind’s most mysterious emotion – love.

Three is just awkward Alvin Man

The history of Sadie Hawkins

The Sadie Hawkins Dance, also known as the Snowball, Coming Home and T.W.I.R.P. (The Women Is Responsible for Paying), originated from the comic strip, Li’l Abner. In the comic, the main character, Sadies Hawkins, waited for suitors to sweep her off her feet. But by the time she was 35, no man knocked on her door, and her father became desperate. He declared Nov. 13 Sadies Hawkins Day and started a foot race. That became the day when unmarried women chased after bachelors to find their true love. If a woman drags a man across the finish line, even if the man is kicking and screaming, the man must marry the woman. Fan letters and requests made comic strip writer, Al Capp, write about Sadies Hawkins Day annually for the next four decades. The comic’s popularity soon made the day a pseudo-holiday celebrated in Canada and the United States. The day

also symbolizes the feminist movement, with women breaking down the traditional role of male dominance. In 1937, schools inspired by the comic introduced the Sadies Hawkins Dance. The dance, which is now hosted in middle schools, high schools and colleges, has increased in popularity because of more accepting modern values. The first few Sadies Hawkins dances were hosted on Nov. 13, but the dance now ranges between the months of November and February. Every year, our campus follows the same quirky tradition of role-swapping and hosts the Sadies Hawkins Dance. This year, the school will host Sadies on Feb. 26 with the theme, Disney. ­­—May Wu and Alice Yu

Photos and graphic by Victor Kwok, Henry Liu and Nathan Toung

Because of you, I have to write this column. Yes, you. You awkward, silent romance-blocker. There you are, standing behind the couple, never speaking a word, making any and every situation awkward. People have a right to shun you. Who wants a third wheel? A third wheel is that person in a group of three who doesn’t fit in. They are usually invited by accident or only out of pity or peer pressure. Like on a bicycle, third wheels are unnecessary and awkward . It’s embarrassing to see a grown man or woman in a tricycle, so why does a couple need a third wheel? All good things come in pairs and it should stay like that. Hands, feet and eyes come in pairs. Two arms work just fine, but having three arms would be weird and disturbing—so again, who needs a third wheel? If a third wheel is hanging out with a couple, many restrictions are immediately placed on the couple. Any displays of affection would be public and are therefore not allowed, and conversations are limited to topics all three people know about. However, if kissing does occur, the third wheel will have front row seats to the entire show that they didn’t even pay to see (making it a little awkward). You can’t make the third wheel disappear (no amount of hocus pocus or abracadabra will work), he’s there and he is not going anywhere. If you need to have a private conversation with your significant other, warn the third wheel that you guys need your space and he should leave. If you want to keep your friendship with the third wheel alive, don’t kick him out or make a run for it when his head is turned. It would be really awkward if the third wheel starts running with you too. However, if your momma never taught you manners or you are a complete jerk who has no feelings, be prepared for some guilt tripping. Pretty soon the third wheel will become angry at you guys for leaving him or her out of everything and will get back at you like an unstamped envelope. He or she will start to slow down and walk by themselves with their head hanging down. This slow walk of shame is a trap. If the third wheel is trying to guilt trip you, ignore him and don’t fall for it. Once you do, you’re screwed. However, there is a way to be a “good” third wheel. Be engaging by finding conversations all of you can talk about, but don’t be creepy. Get to know the couple more and write down a list of possible conversation topics. However, if the couple decides that they want to be alone, let them have their alone time but don’t give them too much. You’re part of the group, too. If they kiss–run. You were never invited to the show, so find a way to get away temporarily. Make up excuses, and if you want to have fun, make them outrageous, but come back. Just because they are kissing doesn’t mean you have to leave permanently. If you’re a third wheel don’t be like Gollum from Lord of the Rings, keeping a safe distance from the group and watching its every movement. How creepy is it to have some person listen to your every word and watch you like your his or her’s “precious?” There is an answer to all solutions if you really look for it. If you’re really tired of having that third wheel constantly behind you, find them a date (for a fun night, find a total opposite for him or her and you and your significant other can watch the awkwardness). Another solution is to turn that tricycle into a bicycle and the only way is to knock that third wheel off. Either blatantly tell them to leave or indirectly tell them such as ditching them at every turn and once they get the point, ask them if they have a ride home (you want to get rid of them, not get them assaulted or beat on the street). Please—I don’t want to write this again. –Man, a junior, is a Centerfold Editor.



The Oracle

LGBT community shares

Courtesy of Sterling Hancock, Victor Kwok and Chloe McAusland

Top right: Junior Catherine Volpe sings “Lean On Me” at the Lyrical Love concert with junior Tony Bianchini. Bottom right: Junior Shivani Rustagi sings with junior Julie Scrivner at the same concert. Middle: Rustagi and Volpe have been best friends since middle school. Top right: Volpe wears her rainbow hat at Camp Everytown. Bottom right: Rustagi has always supported Volpe, even when others were intolerant of Volpe’s open sexuality. and lots of Italian babies,” she said. my freshman year and gave me However, Volpe says that they’ve flowers. But when people asked me tried to be more accepting and unwho the flowers were from, I’d just derstanding. “Once, I was wearing say ‘Oh, my friend,’ or just totally a rainbow hat and my uncle told made up stuff like, ‘Oh, I gave my mom about how the rainbow is them to myself!’ I guess I didn’t a symbol of the gay community,” really want to Volpe said. “So tell people bethe next day, I cause I wasn’t was wearing a sure how they green golf hat, “I felt so much would react.” and my mom relief...once you H oweve r, comes into my Volpe said that room and asks: finally come out, it’s coming out to ‘So, is that a gay like everything is her family was hat?’ I had abso much clearer to different. Havsolutely no idea ing been raised what she was you...It’s this amazwith a strong talking about. I ing feeling.” Catholic backwas like, ‘What ground, Volpe —Junior Catherine Volpe are you talking was unsure how about? It’s a hat, to approach the but I don’t know topic with her parents. “I actually if it likes other hats of its gender or came out to my mom in the car not.’ And so she goes back to my towards the end of eighth grade, uncle and asks him: ‘Didn’t you say when we were driving to theater that it was a gay hat?’ He burst out rehearsal,” Volpe said. “I knew that laughing and clarified for her, but I whatever happened, either way, I think that was her way of trying to would be with all my theater friends understand and reach out.” who I knew would be there for me. Volpe admits that it was scary And so when I told her, the only to come out at first, but that the thing she said was, ‘We’ll discuss end result was worth it. “I feel a this later.’” lot freer now,” she said. “There’s At first, Volpe’s parents tried to so much relief from it because even restrict Volpe from being lesbian. if you don’t know it and you’re still “It generally just wasn’t that ac- questioning, you have these heavy cepted because in our family, it’s weights on your shoulder. And assumed that you grow up, get once you finally come out, it’s like married to a man and have lots everything is so much clearer to n LGBT from p.1

you and it sort of answers a bunch of questions that you would never have linked to your sexual orientation. You can just tell so much about yourself. It’s this amazing feeling.” Junior supports friends in the LGBT community Junior Shivani Rustagi has become more sensitive to words like “gay” and “fag” being used as a derogatory term after she became closely acquainted with individuals of the LGBT community. “During freshman year, I was really annoyed with people who would just randomly call a dysfunctional calculator or a broken pencil ‘gay,’ It was so confusing,” Rustagi said. “I didn’t even know what it meant. I didn’t think gay people were stupid, and it just didn’t make any sense to me.” Rustagi was first introduced to the LGBT community when her best friend, Volpe, came out to her at the end of eighth grade. “When we got our yearbooks at the end of the year, there was a picture of Cat and her then boyfriend, so I drew a big heart around it,” Rustagi said. “But she said, ‘No, I’m not attracted to him anymore, and so I figured that they just broke up.” A few days later, Volpe came out to Rustagi as bisexual. “I was really excited for her,” Rustagi said. “I didn’t have any LGBT friends at the time. I thought it was the coolest thing ever.”

Rustagi met more gay and bisex- the person who got her to support ual friends in theater. “I did a lot of gay rights. “Back in eighth grade, I theater with Cat, and a lot of people didn’t know that there were things there are either bisexual or gay,” she like Proposition 8”, Rustagi said. said. “Before Cat came out to me, I “But now that I have more gay had never even met an openly gay friends, I’m so much more aware.” person. But at Children’s Theater, I Volpe and Rustagi were able met a lot of gay and bisexual people to make her newfound awareness that I became really close with. I about gay culture into a lightheartthink that getting to know more ed game of sorts. “We were walkpeople that were gay really helped. ing down the street, and there were I’m used to seeing boyfriends and all these people who she knew were girlfriends holding hands and stuff, gay, and she asked me, ‘Oh, does and when I saw girl couples and that person look gay to you?’ and guy couples being affectionate with I wouldn’t always be able to tell,” each other, I just thought it was re- Rustagi said. “But I’ve been notically cute. I don’t understand why ing recurring patterns in gay guys some people say and girls, and I’d its gross.” nudge Catherine Rustagi also and ask her if I found that she was right. We’ve “Catherine made could relate kind of estabit very clear with with her LGBT lished a brownie friends on ansystem.” me that she didn’t ot her level. R u s t a g i want me to treat “It was really doesn’t view her cool because gay friends any her differently... I could talk to differently than Just because she’s my friend Luke she would with lesbian, it doesn’t Mendoza about a straight friend. guys and about “Cat made it change anything.” a lot of things very clear with —Junior Shivani Rustagi me that she didn’t that I wouldn’t be able to talk want me to treat about with other guys,” Rustagi her differently,” Rustagi said. “She said. “When he told me that he wanted to be the exact same friends thought my boyfriend was fine, it that we’ve always been, and I totally was so much more of a compliment understand that. Just because she’s than if it came from a girl.” lesbian, it doesn’t change anything. According to Rustagi, Volpe was She’s still her.”


Monday, February 22, 2010


stories of hope, acceptance

Courtesy of Kyler Link Welch and Caitlin Bourg

Top left: Senior Caitlin Bourg stands in support of her mothers’ decision to get married in November. Top right: Bourg helps prepare for her mother’s wedding with the bridesmaids. Bottom right: Class of 2008 Alum Kyler Welch came out as being transgender at the end of junior year. Bottom middle: Welch and his girlfriend have faced discrimination as well as acceptance in their communities. Bottom left: Welch and family gather after his graduation. Bisexual senior lives with two she can’t get married.” moms Bourg first came out as bisexual Senior Caitlin Bourg was born to her mother two years ago. “She into a family with heterosexual par- was like, ‘Oh, okay’ and then ents, but her parents separated when we went back to eating dinner,” she was three and her mother came Bourg said. Bourg said it was not out as lesbian difficult for her two years later. to come out. “W hen I was “Living with little, it never two moms has “Living with two clicked for me,” made me more moms has made me she said. “I just comfortable to more comfortable knew that I lived admit that this with my mom is what I’m to admit that this is and she went really feeling what I’m really feelon dates with and that beother women.” ing bisexual ing and that being Bourg switches is not a big bisexual is not a big b et we en t wo deal,” she said. deal.” households— “T hat’s just one with her biwho I am.” —Senior Caitlin Bourg ological father, W h i l e stepmother and Bourg’s mothsiblings, and the other with her er easily accepted her coming out, mother and other stepmother, who Bourg admits that her father origiwere married in November. nally held more conservative views. Bourg was bullied in elementary “At first, he kept telling me that my school about her mom’s sexual ori- mom was sinning,” she said. “It’s entation. “There was a long time been a while since then, and when in fifth grade when someone must he got married to my stepmom, have heard that my mom was les- she had her gay best friend walk bian,” she said. “They would just her down the aisle, so after that, he call me lesbian. They probably never talked about it again.” didn’t even know what it meant.” Bourg has also encountered The passage of Proposition 8 hit differing opinions outside of her Bourg close to home. “On principle, family. “My dad would enroll me in it was unfair, but also personally, it Christian camps, and when people was like, ‘Come on, this is my fam- found out about my mom being lesily you’re talking about!’” Bourg bian, they would respond with, ‘but, said. “You’re telling my mom that that’s against the religion’ and I’d

say, ‘but, that’s my mom,’” she said. Bourg says she understands that other people have their own opinions about the LGBT community, but she asks that they do not push it onto other people. “I respect your right to say all that, but don’t make it law as well,” she said. “I’m not going to say, ‘You must be gay!’” Transgender alum reflects on experience Class of 2008 alum Kyler Link Welch has always kind of known he was transgendered, but it was not something he was entirely aware of as a child. “When I was growing up and my sister played with dolls, I’d turn the Barbie into a gun instead of actually playing with the Barbie,” he said. “I did what boys did because it was more fun. I grew up thinking that I was a tomboy, but something just didn’t quite fit.” Welch is biologically female, but now identifies himself as a transgendered youth. Welch first came out as bisexual in the middle of freshman year and as lesbian during sophomore year. “This girl I was dating in high school said, ‘You know, you could be transgendered,’ and that lit a light in my head,” he said. At first, Welch said he didn’t understand what being transgendered meant. “She had to ask me, ‘Do you just feel more masculine, or do you feel like you should be a man?’ and I said, ‘You know, I feel honestly

like I’m a guy stuck in a woman’s are people who are transgendered body,’” he said. Welch came out as but who still appear very feminine. transgendered to his friends at the “It’s a gradient rather than a binary,” end of junior year and became open he said. “There’s a whole spectrum to everyone during his senior year. between male and female.” While his siblings and many of Welch complimented the Gunn his friends easily accepted Welch’s community for being so accepting, coming out, he says his parents are but said his friend once experienced still working with the idea. “Even a hate crime at Gunn. “My friend my mom hasn’t been able to use the had a bandanna covering her mouth name Kyler very easily until just for the Day of Silence, and someone recently,” he said. Welch changed threw her against a wall and called his name from Amanda to Kyler her a faggot,” he said. “She eventusince it was the name his parents ally told the administrators and it would have chosen if he had been was dealt with, but it doesn’t change born biologically male. the fact that her feelings were hurt Welch emphasizes that the terms and her rights violated.” Welch transgender and transsexual are not emphasizes that transgender rights interchangeable. “The difference be- should be included in the fight for tween being transgender and trans- LGBT rights, especially since there sexual is in the is a higher rate case where I of transgender identify as a hate crimes male, I prefer than gay hate “I prefer to have t o have t he crimes. male pronoun Welch recthe male pronoun and name, but ommended and name, but I am I am physicalthat st udents ly female,” he questioning physically female.” said. “I haven’t their sexuality —Class of 2008 alum Kyler approach the had any kind of Link Welch Gay- St r a ig ht hormone therapy or surgery, Alliance and whereas a transsexual would have.” Outlet as sources of information. He also emphasizes that gender and “Realistically, there actually is no sexuality are not the same. “There’s dumb question,” he said. “Learn a very clear distinction between all you can about it. Open a line gender and sexual identity,” he said. of communication to those people Welch explains that while his whom you care about and who care appearance is very masculine, there about you.”



The Oracle

Gunn alumni start theater company

Four former Gunn students create Shelby Company, inspired by theater teacher James Shelby Nicola Park News Editor

The Shelby Company, a small theatrical group founded by four Gunn alumni and named after theater teacher James Shelby, is seizing the stage. Based in New York City and the Bay Area, Class of 2004 alumni Will Brill, Grayson DeJesus and Dan Moyer and Class of 2005 alumni Jenni Putney formed the company in 2008. Brill, DeJesus and Putney are actors, and Moyer is a playwright and the company’s artistic director. “We’re committed to producing new work by new and young playwrights,” Moyer said. “Our goal is to get new plays on their feet.” The company recently performed in the Great ScOT Festival from Jan. 20 to Jan. 31 and featured the plays Luck of the Ibis, You May Be Splendid Now, and The Mike and Morgan Show, the latter two respectively written by Moyer and Class of 2002 Raphael BobWaksberg. The company also performed in multiple Fringe festivals to increase publicity. In festivals the performers “try to break into the acting, playwriting and directing scenes,” according to senior Sam Putney, Jenni Putney’s brother. The company has also produced New Beulah, Say Say Oh Playmate, Winnemucca (three days in the belly), and My Father is a Tetris Game. According to Moyer, the Shelby Company members met during their childhoods, unlike most theater company members. Moyer met Brill at the age of seven in a production of The Velveteen Rabbit. Later, DeJesus and Moyer bonded over a discovered common love for the Stars Wars saga. The three, along with Putney, performed together in high school. Moyer and DeJesus also filmed a documentary about spending 24 hours in Happy Donuts during high school. “We would always hang out at Happy Donuts at night on weekends,” Moyer said. “The footage was destroyed when Grayson spilled apple juice on it.”

Photo courtesy of Shelby Company

Shelby Company performers join hands and take a bow onstage after putting on Here I Go Boys, Wish Me Luck, a play published in 2007 by the Shelby Company’s Dan Moyer, at Carnegie Mellon University earlier last year. Moyer was in Gunn’s drama program for four years. He was a One Acts director in his junior and senior years and directed a brown bag show, or student production, with Brill as a senior. The four then parted ways to head off to college: Brill to Carnegie Mellon School of Drama, DeJesus to Theatre at Occidental College, Putney to Chapman University’s College of Performing Arts and Moyer to the New York University (NYU) Department of Dramatic Writing. At NYU, Moyer met Nathaniel Kent—Moyer and Kent are now, according to Sam, the “backbone” of the company. According to the Shelby Company Web site, DeJesus brought up the idea of forming a theater company in November 2008, and the company was official a month later. It took off in February with the premiere of New Beulah, a collage-type play written by Moyer about a year in the life of a small town, in Long Island City, NY. According to Moyer, Shelby influenced the Gunn alumni at the high school level and beyond. “He

was just very inspiring to all of us; he really shapes our views of drama and of theater in many ways,” Moyer said. “Gunn had phenomenal theatre; I was over the moon.” Moyer praised Shelby’s dedication to the art of acting. “He took it above the level of high school theater, and the dedication and seriousness with which he took the craft was just at a different level too,” Moyer said. According to Shelby, Gunn theater nurtures young actors because it has a wide range of study and a wide exposure to a variety of plays. “It lights a fire in certain people,” Shelby said. Shelby was surprised when he first heard that the company was to be his namesake. “I thought it was a joke,” Shelby said. “It was funny and flattering.” He describes the company members as “incredibly excited and enthusiastic about telling stories, working on plays and acting.” He admires them for their initiative in creating a company, and advises students in general to “follow your passions, do what gets you out of bed. It’s amazing to see that you’ve created something that

wasn’t there before.” Sam, like his sister Jenni, is involved in theater and has applied to schools with plans to study acting and creative writing. “I would personally rather take this risk and have it blow up in my face than do something that I loathe,” he said. Moyer finds spending time in New York both challenging and rewarding. “On one hand, this is where theater happens, but at the same time it’s harder to get people to see plays,” he said. “You have to work so much harder because on any given day, there are hundreds of plays playing­—you want to separate yourself. And on top of that, it’s super expensive.” The company’s main goal as of now is to sustain itself , according to Moyer. “Right now it’s a showby-show basis,” Moyer said. “At the end of the summer we want to have a season planned out.” He also hopes to build a solid fan base. “Our goal is to build an audience and keep doing work that we love and respect,” Moyer said. “Our long-term goal is to continue to do riskier, more challenging

Q&A with

Junior sculptor Willy Wang

The Oracle: How did you first get into sculpting? Willy Wang: This is my second year in the sculpting class, but I first got into it when I took Art Spectrum. I saw all the stuff in the room and after making a 3-D figure as a class project, I realized how much potential I had.

hostile. If you personify a spider, you can’t really be mean to it. The story behind her expression is that someone looked at her and ran away, so she’s really hurt. I’m kind of trying to make people see things from a different perspective. She will probably be displayed at the upcoming Palo Alto Art Show.

TO: How has art shaped you as a person? WW: There is never an end to the creativity out there. So, in my opinion, when it comes to art, there is no reason not to just let your ideas take flight.

TO: How did you first conceive the idea of Haelin? WW: At the end of last year, we had already completed all of our projects in class and Mr. Bowman instructed us to make anything large, whatever we wanted, as long as it was anything but cute. If it’s not cute, then I decided to make it something creepy, and when I think of creepy, I automatically think of spiders. But, I figured that spiders themselves were not interesting enough, so I combined an idea I had for one of my creative writing pieces and decided to make a half-spider half-human figure.

TO: What do you like best about being an artist? WW: I just enjoying sculpting. It’s not really about the accomplishments, but about the passion I have for it. TO: Can you tell us about your “spider lady?” WW: Well, her name is Haelin, which is just a variation of Helen. I started it during the last two weeks of the last school year, worked on it a little during the summer and spent the entire first semester on it. Even though some people might think spiders are creepy, it wasn’t my intention to make it

plays, consistently.” Moyer believes that plays carry a certain power with them. “I think there are limits to what a play can do, [but] I think it’s something much more personal. You see a play and you know we’re all in this together. We all have the same fears and longings and wants and desires. And it’s tough to be a person.” Although the Shelby Company members are aware that their career is not necessarily lucrative, others believe that they have made significant progress for such a young company. Michael Roderick, who wrote about the Shelby Company on states that “all the shows are incredibly well-produced and show a level of quality that many companies who have 20 years or more under their belt strive to achieve.” Roderick also describes the Shelby company actors as “the future stars of the theatrical world.” The Shelby Company is still young and the prospects are great, according to Shelby. “Its potential is unlimited,” he said. Visit them online at

TO: What was the most challenging aspect of building Haelin? WW: The frame is made of wood, screws and chicken wire. The rest is paper mache. Since joints are usually the weakest

Alan Phan

Willy Wang displays his “spider lady” sculpture. point of construction, her legs were the most troublesome. Because of the cold weather, I came back from winter break to find that all four legs on her right side were broken. I’ve been trying to fix them ever since. —Compiled by Wen Yi Chin

19 New librarian enacts major changes to library Features

Monday, February 22, 2010

Colin Chen & Annie Tran Reporters

With a flurry of excitement, new librarian Meg Omainsky has brought a f resh perspective to the library. “At first impression, I thought Ms. Omainsky was really upbeat and passionate,” sophomore Suparna Jasuja said. “It was actually really refreshing to see such excitement in someone at school.” Omainsky started working in the library after winter break, and along with her arrival came many new ideas that soon developed into new policies. She started out by teaching in upstate New York, but she gradually moved into library science and has stuck with it ever since. “By becoming a librarian, I am able to support teachers and help incorporate technology into their curriculum,” Omainsky said. English teacher Julie Munger can attest to Omainsky’s passion. “[Ms. Omainsky] is a really energetic and enthusiastic person, and I like that she’s taking the initiative in getting to know us teachers.” She is currently helping Munger out with her upperclassmen in her “Between the Lines” classes and using technology to display virtual tours. According to Munger, this use of technology opens new doors for students and lets them experience new things. Omainsky has an overflowing amount of ideas for an improved

and more modern library. She plans to update the Gunn collection of books. “I think she’s definitely stepping outside the box and meeting several individual needs,” Munger said. Omainsky came to Gunn because she wanted to be in an innovative school that had plenty of space to be creative. She has already planned many changes to the library and has full support from the administration. “I don’t believe the library should just be a quiet place,” Omainsky said. “I also want it to be like a kind of indoor hangout spot for students since we don’t have many of those on campus. The courtyard out there isn’t even being used, so I’m thinking of changing it into a place that is going to be highly flexible for many people’s needs.” The new courtyard will be named the Acorn Lounge, and she is organizing a clean-up day on March 5. Omainsky is currently planning many other activities for students to participate in later, such as a poetry slam in April. Omainsky’s future plans for the library include revamping the library Web site, updating the group study rooms with new technology and creating digital editing stations. Af ter only bei ng here for a little over a month, she has already helped enforce a new policy where students can borrow laptops like books. “Most of the ideas I get are from what individual needs that the

students have professed,” Omainsky said. The library is spreading the word through Facebook and the morning announcements. “All this new technology is really convenient for students who need to work with technology but in a quiet place,” Jasuja said. “I think a lot of students and teachers need her kind of excitement, and that a lot of us kind of share her enthusiasm, too since it is benefitting all of us.”

New at the Library: Acorn lounge: An outside space in the back courtyard of the library where students can relax and spend time with their friends. New online databases: • JSTOR—Historical archive of many different primary sources. • G R E E N R— E n v i ronmental Science information for all students interested. • AP science—online academic resources for all AP science classes. • Science Full Text— College level databases covering all manners of science topics.

Jonathan Yong Top: New librarian Meg Omainsky speaks to students. Bottom: Omainsky shows students a new database.

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The Oracle

Young blogger adds spin to traditional fashion reviews

Tahti Syrjala shares her thoughts about music, food, makeup and fashion on her modern blog Sweta Bhattacharya Reporter

Blogging has become one of the most powerful tools on the Web to spread one’s opinions on subjects ranging from philosophy to food. Some of the newest types of blogs center on fashion. Fashion blogs have only recently made an appearance on the mainstream blog scene. They add a more personal touch than fashion magazines do since they are usually managed, written and directed by one person. They allow writers to have the freedom to discuss any topic of their choice. Posts on fashion blogs vary from reviews to predicted trends and from design ideology to clothing composition. One of the most successful and most followed fashion blogs is “The Sartorialist.” It features photos of people who exhibit a strong sense of fashion and is centralized in the top

fashion capitals of the world, such as New York City, Milan and Paris. World-renowned fashion blogs like “The Sartorialist” have inspired many young, fashion-forward minds to venture into the world of fashion blogging themselves. Eighteen-year-old Tahti Syrjala is one of these up-andcoming bloggers who has received many accolades for her clever and insightful posts, sharp fashion sense and eloquent writing style. Syrjala, originally born in Finland and currently located in Ireland, has over 700 followers for her blog, “Tahti Syrjala.” Although fashion reviews and current trends are one of Syrjala’s main focuses, her incorporation of new music, avant-garde makeup ideas and tutorials and delicious food recipes bring a fresh, innovative approach to the conventional fashion blog content. “I would have to label it under ‘general fashion,’ but with life-

style, food and make-up thrown in too!” Syrjala wrote in a Facebook message. “So maybe ‘life in general.’” According to Syrjala, her favorite part of blogging is the feedback that she receives from her followers on her posts. “I appreciate all their kind words so much!” she wrote. “It’s affected my life in the way that I spend many hours more online than I used to, and has also raised my confidence. I got such a positive reaction from readers, it made me feel more happy about myself.” Several of Gunn students are also followers and admirers of Syrjala’s work. Junior Howon Lee praises Syrjala for her strong sense and knowledge of the fashion world. “She really understands what fashion is,” Lee said. “It isn’t

Q&A with

Danielle Feinberg

Pixar’s Director of Lighting The Oracle: What is your job at Pixar? Danielle Feinberg: I am a Director of Photography for Lighting, which essentially means I direct the lighting for whatever Danielle film I’m on. For lightFeinberg ing, we add lights into our 3-D world that we create inside the computer. The lightings help to create the mood, the time of day and do things like guide the viewer’s eye and help tell the story.

few cities where the fledgling computer graphics industry was starting to really get going. The people at Pixar come from all kinds of different backgrounds, some might have a degree in English for the story writing, a Computer Science or Engineering degree or many people went to art school.

TO: What do you love about Pixar? Feinberg: Pixar is a fantastic company because they really care about their employees and it’s filled with creative, smart, interesting people that are all very dedicated to what they do. It’s also in a wonderful part of the country and we get all the free cereal we want from the cereal bar!

TO: What was the hardest movie to create with your lighting team? Feinberg: Wall-E was really tricky because it was the first time I was directing the lighting on a film. It’s a lot to juggle, trying to make sure you can get the movie done on time, on budget and looking beautiful.

TO: What first intrigued you about animation? Feinberg: I first realized computer animation was what I wanted to do when I was a junior at Harvard and saw the Pixar shorts in my computer graphics programming class. After graduating from college, I moved to San Francisco and pretty soon happened to meet someone that worked at Pixar. She said it was a great time to apply because they were starting on their second film (after Toy Story). So I applied and got hired for an entry level, problem-solving-type position called a Render Wrangler. I’ve been with Pixar for almost 13 years now. TO: Before taking the job, did you major or minor in any particular subject or go to an art school? Feinberg: I have an undergraduate degree from Harvard in Computer Science. I moved to the Bay Area because, at the time I graduated, it was one of the

TO: What do you think is most unique about your job? Feinberg: I love the transition from the flat, dull image before a shot is lit to the beautiful, moody, lit image when we’re done. You create a whole different world and that magic never fails to please me.

TO: What’s a downfall about your job? Feinberg: Lighting is one of the last departments in the path of step-by-step movie making, so when other departments miss their deadlines, we have to absorb that. Since we can’t miss the release date of the movie, we end up with our schedule getting compacted, so the lighting crew always ends up working late and on weekends toward the end of each movie. TO: Are there any internships for high school or college students? Feinberg: Generally, our internships are for college students, so I don’t think we have any programs for people younger than that. One thing that’s really cool is that the intern program has gotten much bigger over the last several years, sometimes bringing in as many as 90 to 100 students per semester. —Compiled by Mati Pluska-Renaud

knowing what’s ‘hip’ or what all the ‘popular kids’ are wearing—it’s being able to go out, take inspiration from what you see and create a look that’s unique.” Sophomore Eugenia Puglisi shares similar feelings for Syrjala’s blog. “It’s really amazing to read and look at,” Puglisi said. “I love how she incorporates music tracks into the photographs she posts. It’s a cohesive and interesting blog.”

Courtesy of Tahti Syrjala

Left: Fashion blogger Tahti Syrjala poses in one of the season’s current fashion trends. Above: Syrjala wears a military style jacket, tapered trousers and high heels.

Stanford Theatre provides classic alternative to modern theaters Sarah-Jean Zubair Forum Editor

Stepping into the entrance hall of the Stanford Theatre on University Avenue is like traveling back in time. Hollywood legends such as Vivien Leigh, Bette Davis and James Stewart stare down from the vintage film posters that adorn the walls. Davis is eternally frozen with a pistol in her hand to promote The Letter, and Vivien Leigh is still the saucy Scarlett O’Hara in the illustration for Gone With the Wind. Strains of organ music that emanate from beneath the doors to the auditorium complete the atmosphere, assuring the visitor that little has changed since the end of Hollywood’s Golden Age. Built in 1925, the theatre is a haven for classic movie lovers and the curious alike. The movie programs, which feature films made mainly between 1920 and 1960, provide a respite from the violence and obscenities of modern-day films. From Casablanca to Psycho, with both silents and talkies, the theatre’s film cycles are diverse and varied enough to keep all patrons satisfied. The movie hall itself, which was restored in 1987, is breathtaking in its nostalgic splendor. Its sea of red velvet seats and elegantly arched ceilings are a far cry from the raucous confinement of modern cinemas. Rather than a single floor of seats, one may choose between the ground level and the balcony. From the balcony, one may observe the film, organist and theatre to the best advantage. Once seated, the viewer is faced with a ruby-colored curtain flanked by golden lattices and Corinthian columns. An organist upon a platform rises from the depths of the orchestra pit. During the interlude between films, he plays for the audience’s entertainment. The organ music, a prime attraction for theatregoers, is a welcome departure from the endless previews and commercials that bombard viewers at modern cinemas. Its unique character and impeccable film selection is tantalizing enough for a visit. But from a more monetary standpoint, the Stanford Theatre’s value is incomparable. At a regular cinema, like AMC, movie-goers might pay upwards of $10 to view a film. But for $7 at the Stanford Theatre, one can view both of the features being played. Refreshments, available in the front hall, are also remarkably inexpensive. The total cost of

Henry Liu

Top: The Stanford Theatre marquee advertises their current films. Above: The entrance hall leads audiences into the dual inner theater rooms.

a small popcorn and beverage is less than $3 while it can cost about $6 at Century theaters. From its midnight blue carpets to the Classical Revival architecture, the Stanford Theatre stands out amongst movie halls. In this modern world of mass production and one-size-fits-all mindsets, it departs from the present generic mold to a retreat in an age past where films are untainted by lewdness, foul language and bloodshed. It’s a place where a movie-goer can indulge his nostalgia and view well-known classics as well as forgotten cult favorites. These movies are decades old, and the Stanford Theatre helps keep them alive. The ticket counter lines that trail around the corner of the street on weekends are proof that the magic of these timeless films is far from waning.


Monday, February 22, 2010


How to be vegetarian

Eating Animals rivets audiences, enlightens all Elaine Liu Business Manager

Americans alone consume roughly 115 million pigs, 35 million cows, and nine billion birds every year. Out of all these animals, 99 percent of them will be inhumanely tortured, imprisoned and slaughtered. Many Americans, despite being fully aware of the slaughter process, choose to continue to eat fresh. Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer, author of novel turned movie Everything is Illuminated, is a mix of an autobiography and a nonfiction exploration of the truth behind our infamous food industry. Though many writers have attempted to push the question of eating animals into the public light, Foer’s book achieves something few others have. He brings a touch of his personal life by incorporating the inspiring story of his Jewish grandmother, who escaped and survived the Holocaust, as well as his own decision to give up meat on his son’s behalf. As Foer recounts, “to accept the factory farm…would make me less myself,

less my grandmother’s grandson, less my son’s father.” He unravels the horrors of the treatment of fish, chickens, pigs and cows. Some sections are so candidly gruesome that it takes all of the reader’s strength to continue reading. But this is exactly what makes Eating Animals such a strong piece of literature; the descriptive examples recounted over and over again serve their purpose by hammering in one crucial question: should we or shouldn’t we eat meat? Readers should be warned that it is not a novel for the light-hearted. Addressing issues that many people would rather ignore, Foer is not one to mince words or soften

blows. While this may turn away certain readers, it creates an enthralling documentary. For many, Foer’s writing will be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. His book serves not to convince readers to convert to vegetarianism, but to accept the reality of slaughterhouses. He tells us about his Jewish grandmother’s life to teach us an important lesson. She tells of a time when, on the brink of death, a farmer offered her a piece of pork that she refused to eat because of her religion. Elaine Liu “‘But not even to save your life?’ ‘If nothing else matters, there’s nothing to save.’” It is this quote that Foer wants all Americans to remember. Because as Foer tells us, the cruelty in the American food industry contains “realities that as a citizen I couldn’t ignore, and as a writer I couldn’t keep to myself.”

Garden Fresh provides vegan-friendly delights Elaine Liu

Business Manager

The increasing number of vegetarians means that it is more important then ever for meat free menus. Garden Fresh at 1245 West El Camino Real in Mountain View is the perfect destination for such diners. Garden Fresh is a vegan Chinese-style restaurant that provides a wide-range of dishes based on tofu and soybeans. For appetizers, Garden Fresh is most famous for their Scallion Pancakes with Vegetables, which is one of the must-haves because of their deep fried goodness. The alternative appetizers such as Basil Mooshu Rolls, which come in a pair, are a more healthy option made up of basil leaves, bamboo shoots and noodle wraps, but lack the deep flavor that the pancakes possess. Garden Fresh uses faux or mock meat in order to recreate main course dishes that allow for a genuine Asian taste. Some of their most popular dishes include General’s Chicken and Deep Fried Black Pepper Sautéed Chicken. The Deep Fried Black Pepper

Sautéed Chicken paired with well-sautéed onions, mushrooms and carrots had a very realistic taste and was almost impossible to distinguish from real chicken, although the texture was slightly more spongy and chewy. The rich black bean sauce matched perfectly with the neutral brown rice at every course. To finish the meal with a rewarding dessert, Garden Fresh offers Maggie Mudd’s vegan ice cream offered in three different flavors. The ice cream is made of soybeans, which give it a slightly grainier texture, but it tastes the same. Each dish was served in a timely manner making Garden Fresh an excellent choice for vegan takeout or catering. The prices are

Melissa Sun

Left: Vegan restaurant Garden Fresh is a hidden delight. Right: Black Pepper Chicken with faux meat. reasonable, about ten dollars for a dinner entree and the staff is also extremely friendly, and despite the “hole-in-the-wall” feel of the restaurant, Garden Fresh is definitely one of the best local vegan places to dine at.

Vegetarian mushroom stuffed tomatoes

The Oracle member puts personal vegetarian twist on classic recipe Ingredients: 1/2 cup uncooked white rice 5 button mushrooms 1 cup of boiling water 2 tablespoons of butter 1 onion, chopped 1 tablespoon minced mint (optional) Pinch of salt Pinch of black pepper 8 medium sized tomatoes 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil 1 clove of crushed garlic

Elaine Liu

Vegetarian baked tomatoes with a fresh mix of mushrooms and rice.

Directions: 1. Rinse rice, mushrooms in a strainer. 2. Chop up mushrooms into fine strips. 3. Boil water in small pot. 4. Cook mushrooms and rice covered for 10 minutes at medium heat.

4. Meanwhile, melt butter or margarine in a saute pan. Add onion, and saute until golden brown over medium low heat. 5. Stir in mushroom mixture and mint. Season generously with salt and pepper. 6. Slice the tops off tomatoes, and reserve. Scoop out the middles, and reserve. 7. Fill tomato shells with mushroom mixture, and replace the tops. Stand in a baking dish. 8. Chop reserved tomato middles, and place in a small bowl. 9. Mix in oil and garlic. 10. Pour the oil and garlic around the stuffed tomatoes. 10. Bake in a preheated 450 degree F (230 degree C) for 10 to 15 minutes. 11. Remove from oven, and serve. —Compiled by Elaine Liu

Annie Shuey When I undertook the challenge of becoming vegetarian for 30 days, I had no idea what was in store for me. Keep in mind, I am from Texas. You see, eating meat is a habit of mine. It may sound gross, but hey, at least I’m not at risk for protein deficiency. Don’t get me wrong—I’m deeply concerned about the environmental impact of meat production and animals, but I just also happen to love a great steak. My previous attempt at being a vegetarian, on the dare of a friend, lasted about two days before I gave up. So this time, I was determined to make it work. I got off to a rather inauspicious start, seeing as I ate meat two times twice in my first two days (the second time was a genuine accident). Later that first week, I was at my friend’s house for her birthday dinner when her mother, who is an amazing cook, made steak tacos for dinner. Well, you can guess what happened. The next weekend, my family ordered Chinese take-out and I couldn’t help myself from stealing bits of their orange chicken. Before I knew it, my birthday crept up, and was I supposed to sit by and meekly nibble rabbit food? Absolutely not. In total, I consumed meat six times in my 30 days of self-imposed vegetarianism. I also made a few changes in which restaurants I frequented when I eliminated meat from my diet. For example, dining at In-N-Out Burger would have been completely counterproductive to my new goal, and I definitely would’ve caved in and eaten a burger. I switched over to vegetarian and vegan-friendly restaurants, where, for the most part, I was overcharged and underfed, and my orders were frequently botched or forgotten. I ventured to The Counter one night, where I glumly consumed my first ever veggie burger. It was all right, but I would prefer an actual hamburger any day, hands down. When I started out, I knew that I would have to resort to creative ways of getting my protein. I’m not a huge fan of nuts. And beans? I’ll pass. “Texas chili: all meat, no beans” could almost be my personal motto. One new vegan recipe I tried was black bean brownies, where black beans essentially replaced the flour. I tried to ignore the fact that the name of the recipe sounded totally unappetizing and just plain weird when rinsing and draining a can of beans to dump in, but the final product actually wasn’t too shabby. They weren’t comparable to double fudge brownies, but if you’re ever looking for a low-calorie alternative, Google the recipe and give it a shot. I recommend it. After eliminating meat from my diet for a month, I have so much respect for real vegetarians, especially those who become vegetarian because they want to be, not because a doctor recommends it for health reasons. I can’t even reiterate enough how challenging it was to cut some of my favorite foods out of my diet and attempt to replace a staple of my diet. Bring on the veganism. —Shuey, a junior, is a Sports Editor.



The Oracle

The Oracle sets out to discover the sport of geocaching, using GPS systems to find treasures in the ground Wen Yi Chin & Joyce Liu Sports & Managing Editor

Forget the old parchment maps and X marks the spots, it’s time for some modern day treasure hunting: geocaching! Dave Deggeller, math teacher by weekday and geocacher by weekend, started geocaching this past winter break after receiving a GPS system from his wife as a Christmas present. “I’ve read about geocaching in magazines before, and I thought this could be something that I would be interested in,” he said. Deggeller has been on several geocache hunts around the Bay Area, including in Sunnyvale, and Castroville. “It’s a family activity that gets the kids outside more,” he said. “My kids get interested in the treasure hunt aspect.” One can find geocaches in urban areas as well as in the wilderness. “Another part of geocaching is being sensitive to the habitat,” Deggeller said. “If something is located off the path, you’re not supposed to mess up the environment while searching for it.” On one of their geocaching adventures in Sunnyvale, Deggeller and his family went to the library and got clues from a statue. “This was a multi-step one where my daughter had to count things on a statue, and there was some other math involved like multiplication and subtracting,” he said. “There’s the challenge of locating it, but there’s also the reward of when you find it,” he said. Geocaches can range from being a tiny Altoids tin to larger containers with small treasures inside to choose from. “My kids have gotten little erasers and toys, and we’ve left behind seashells, which I thought was pretty cool,” Deggeller said. “Of course, the prizes all need to be family appropriate.” Deggeller suggests others to try geocaching. “I think it reveals the inner pirate in us,” he said. The Oracle tries out geocaching A sunny Sunday morning after a week of rain made it the perfect day to geocache. Our mission of the day? “Searching for E-T.” We started our hike on the Stanford dish full of exuberance. With our GPS leading the way, we tucked away the instructions manual, for fear of looking like noobs and revealing ourselves to

“Muggles.” We trekked through puddles and deposits of cow dung to reach our destination: a metal bridge about a yard in length. After a solid 15 minutes of searching, we gave up being stealthy as we were still empty-handed. Joggers approached us, wondering if we had lost something. We met “Mr. Franklin,” a fellow geocacher from Mountain View who asked if we were geocaching, and the police even called to us from their golf-cart asking if we were okay. Looks like our anti-noob disguise was an epic failure. We decided to decipher the clue, a sure giveaway according to fellow geocachers on the Web site. It read: “Metal is the best shield against the aliens’ X-ray vision.” Turns out we would soon become the 20th person out of 131 people who were not able to find the geocache. We searched for an hour before finally calling it quits, turning instead to the “Embarcadero Bug Depot,” determined to find at least one geocache before heading home. Although it’s actually ranked a measly 1.5 stars out of 5, the Bug Depot seemed much more complicated, with revisions littered throughout the description. We parked at Town and Country and made our way through the marshy woods area along Galvez Street. We had our reservations about seeing a parked red 4-by-4 indicated in the clue, but sure enough, we saw it, and marched on through the woods. It took some sharp eyes, blind reaching and much help from our intrepid photographer, Henry Liu, for us to obtain the cache after we arrived at the GPS location. Inside the camouflaged cache, we found a logbook and various prizes tucked inside ziploc bags. We signed “The Oracle” and left some prizes that we had brought to trade. Lastly, we carefully put everything back Top: Seniors Wen Yi Chin and Joyce Photos by Henry Liu in the jar and plopped it Liu peer at their GPS device. Top left: back into its hiding place. The geocache container holds the prize. Middle left: Chin Geocaching adven- and Liu continue their search. Bottom left: A worn noteture, success! TFTC! book shows the next clue. Top right: Chin leafs through the Start your own geocaching adventure by visiting:

GPS manual. Top right circle: The GPS device used. Middle right: Chin and Liu search through the grass for their next step. Bottom right: Chin and Liu consult the manual once again. Corner right: The prize is a shiny keychain.


Monday, February 22, 2010


March 7th: Oscars 2010

The Oracle’s top picks for the movie event of the year A Serious Man

Why do bad things happen to good people? That is the question protagonist Larry Gopnik (debuting Broadway actor Michael Sthulbarg) struggles to answer throughout the darkly comedic film A Serious Man. After having one bomb dropped on him after another (his wife is cheating on him, he is being blackmailed, his daughter is stealing for a nose job, his son owes a drug dealer... the list goes on) Gopnik seeks insight from

The Blind Side

three rabbis. With a relatively new cast, clever scripting and solid acting, the Coen brothers (No Country for Old Men) have directed a masterpiece yet again. Euphoric and intellectual with no sugar-coated anything, A Serious Man is no movie for the shallow or sympathetic.

A true story about the Baltimore Raven’s lineman Michael Oher, The Blind Side builds its development on an uplifting drama. The cast creates one of the most charming films of this year through an inspirational story without the usual overly saccharine side notes. Leigh Anne (Sandra Bullock) is a no-nonsense, feisty mother who

Up in the Air Ryan Bingham (George Clooney) is a career transition counselor—his job is to fire other people from theirs. A man who has not only grown accustomed to life on the road but also declares the road his real “home,” Bingham is a one man show in his own. When his boss (hires 23-year old firecracker Natalie (Anna Kendrick), Bingham is forced to show her the ropes of the trade and the two go on a downsizing expedition across the country. Along the way he meets up with the woman of his dreams, the girl equivalent of

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himself (Vera Farmiga). An insightful reflection of modern society, Up in the Air is a delight. While the storyline may be somewhat , the film, with the help of its charismatic cast, is a list of wonderful contradictions—comedy and tragedy, romance and reality—that somehow all fit together into one stellar story.

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invites and raises Michael (Quinton Aaron) as her own when she finds him on the streets, homeless and traumatized. The Blind Side’s strongest characteristic is its ability to mix the stirring sentimental feelings of love with comedic interjections through its supporting characters.

Nathan Toung

The only Pixar film to be nominated for best picture this year, Up is a digital work of art. Karl is a disgruntled widower whose lifetime regrets are catching up with him. In an effort to escape the nursing home and rekindle his love of adventure, he ta kes off for South America by way of bal-

loons. Stowaway Wilderness scout Russell tags along, and although hesitant at first, the two go on an adventure of a lifetime. With multiple themes interwoven about the plot, Up is touching, sweet, goofy, exciting and everything in between. Up is appealing to all audiences and may be Pixar’s best work to date. Whether or not Up wins an Oscar, it is a winner with the audience. —Compiled by Tiffany Hu and Elaine Liu

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Monday, February 22, 2010


Photo courtesy of Doron Rotman

Left: Senior Spencer Jones grapples with wrestler from Fremont on senior night. Right: Senior Jake Cherry, even with black eye, stares down his opponent.

Wrestlers accrue key league wins

Team wrestles through inexperience, nine qualifiy for CCS Kevin Gao Sports Editor

The wrestling team stepped into this season as a young team after losing 10 graduating seniors from last year, but the team is looking to finish strongly by sending nine wrestlers to the Central Coast Section (CCS) championships. An ongoing obstacle for the season is having to work around and fill in for the missing seniors that graduated last year. “They kept a lot of wrestlers from being on varsity [last year],” head coach Chris Horpel said. “We have seven seniors on varsity for the first time.” According to junior captain Stefan Weidemann, the experience this season was different because there were fewer veterans on the team. Horpel believes that the wrestlers have had

to change their the mentality from being one of a substitute last season, to that of a starter this year. “There is going to have to be psychological growth,” Horpel said. According to him, the players learned to accept their position as team leaders over time. Throughout the season, the team aimed to improve physically and mentally. “We’ve definitely improved technique and maybe four or five kids have shown increased toughness and higher interest,” Weidemann said. Senior Yoni Alon agreed and added that this year’s practices were more focused on fundamentals. Despite being so young, the team established key wins this season against top ranked teams in the league. “The young kids stepped up,” Horpel said. “We beat three teams ranked in the top 15,” Horpel said. The team is 3-2 in league and 6-2 overall. “Although

our team is young, [our record] just shows our potential,” Alon said. Weidemann and senior Spencer Jones had both been undefeated until the league tournament on Feb. 14. A big win in this season was the meet against Fremont, the fourth ranked team in CCS. The team defeated them for the first time ever with a score of 59-12. “I was stunned in an amazing way,” Horpel said. “It’s not like we barely got by, but we really manhandled them and that’s surprising considering how young we are.” Horpel also had high hopes for numerous wrestlers to place in CCS. “14 [wrestlers] have a shot,” he said. “I expect all 14 to place in CCS. Will they? I don’t know. But they’re good enough.” After the league tournament, nine wrestlers qualified for the championships. Among them were freshman Daniel Papp, sophomore Asaf Rotman, Weidemann,

and seniors Alon, Jones, Eric Schmidt, Weston Healy, Jon Chaplin and Jake Cherry. Next season, the team will be looking at the same situation with many seniors graduating, leaving another young team to fill the void. “It’s going to be the same thing all over again and a lot of new faces are going to have to step up,” Horpel said. “Some people call it rebuilding. I call it reloading.” Due to the wrestling league scoring system, the team will also be bumped down to the El Camino division next year. Weidemann believes that a goal for the team is to increase interest in wrestling. “We’re trying to get more interest to make up for the lack of seniors,” Weidemannn said. With the season at a close, the team can only look to carry on their success to CCS. “I hope this team continues to surprise,” Horpel said.

Teams fundraise to cover extra costs n BUDGET from p.1

Football fundraises for extra players The number of football players almost doubled in size this year, leading to extra costs, according to Horpel. “Increased numbers mean increased football pads, increased football jerseys, helmets­—all the things you need to be a football player had to be purchased,” he said. “So the parents and the coaches went out and fundraised thousands of dollars.” According to senior football captain Tyler Ziebelman, the team improved and expanded upon the fundraisers they had run in previous years. The home games attracted more fans, which resulted in increased revenue from the entry fee and concession sales. More Titan Cards, coupon books for local restaurants and businesses, were sold as well. “This year we had a night at Old Pro [restaurant] in downtown Palo Alto where 100 percent of the proceeds went to the football team,” Ziebelman said. “Along with the money from eating, there was a silent auction at the restaurant that raised even more.” Boys’ lacrosse team contributes to deficit The new boys’ lacrosse team also added to the athletic department’s deficit, according to Horpel. “It’s been a difficult year because we’re adding boys’ lacrosse, which just happens to be a very expensive sport,” he said. “It’s like football, but football brings in a lot of money with the gate charge and their concessions sales. So though football is expensive, it more than pays for itself with its income. Lacrosse, however, is going to be

a different story because they’re not going to have the gate or concessions sales, which would offset their expenses.” Parents and team members have stepped up to fundraise for the new boys’ lacrosse team. According to senior Nick Ciesinski, the team is planning an Open Mic Night for March and has already raised $500 from the Juana Run program.

Cheer deals with outstanding payments Another program dealing with financial issues is the cheer team. “It’s an expensive sport because they have lots of team uniforms, they go to a camp—they do all these things that cost a lot of money,” Horpel said. “So because it has no gate concessions or other income, it’s really the most expensive sport at Gunn.” According to Hughes, Boosters is working to collect fees from team members and pay down outstanding invoices. “They do business with a company that basically gives them a ‘credit card-like’ account,” Horpel said. “They are therefore essentially in credit card debt.” The cheer team is currently selling titanium water bottles with the Gunn logo printed on them for $10 each, which students can buy from any cheerleader. “Basketball has concession stands, football has concession stands and other teams have their own ways to raise money,” cheerleading coach Doris Le said. “The school obviously doesn’t give the cheerleading team a chance to fundraise, so we have to go out and get money on our own.”

School works to pay sports trainer Budget cuts have also affected athletes in other ways. San Jose State University has loaned Gunn a student a trainer for the past seven years, but the university was unable to offer Gunn a student trainer this year due to budget cuts at the university. Horpel says he is working with the district to give the sports trainer appropriate funding, since she recently graduated and is now a fully certified trainer. “Our trainer from the previous three years said she would be interested in continuing, so for the first time, I used the stipend from the district, which is about $3,000 per sports season,” he said. “But as a certified trainer, her rate is way above that and her hours increased way beyond 20 hours per week. We went to Gunn Sports Boosters and requested a one-time grant so we could get through this year and solve our dilemma for the future, but the problem is that the district doesn’t allow coaches or trainers to get extra funds from outside sources like boosters.” According to Horpel, the sports trainer is submitting a timecard to the district office to show all the hours she worked above 20 hours per week, which is above a half-time salary. Palo Alto High School (Paly) encountered a similar problem in paying for their sports trainer, but were able to compensate the trainer using money from the site budget. “The Board of Education has a policy on where the money can come from to pay for additional staffing at the schools’ sites,” Assistant Superintendent of Human

Relations Scott Bowers said. “The sources of the funds to hire staff must come from district allocated funds, site council funds, special categorical funds (e.g. Title II) or Partners in Education funds. Paly is not using an outside source of funding to pay for additional trainer time—they are using funds approved from the Site Council budget. As far as I know, the Gunn Site Council has not allocated any of its funds toward additional staffing at the site. In simpler terms, the Board policy means that additional staffing can’t be paid for from booster group fundraising.” According to Horpel, not having a trainer present is a medical liability for the athletes. “It’s not like the old days where the coach would tape an ankle and say ‘get back out there and play,’” Horpel said. “There’s therapy, and there’s monitoring events when an athlete goes down. A coach can’t do everything at the same time, so a trainer is a medical necessity.” Senior basketball player Travis Bowers agreed. “The work she does cannot be replaced,” he said. “People needed to be taped, have injuries evaluated and do exercises, and just the confidence of knowing that somebody can tell you what is wrong and give you a timeline of when you can play again is helpful.” How to help out To contribute to the sports budget, readers can write a check for a tax-deductible donation to Gunn Sports Boosters’ General Fund or to a specific team fund.



The Oracle

Boys’ soccer battles for postseason Kevin Zhang Reporter

The boys’ soccer team had high expectations for this season after making it all the way to the semifinals of the Central Coast Section (CCS) playoffs last season. “Since our freshmen year, we have been waiting for this season,” senior Enzo Cabili said. “This year we have 12 seniors, including five with over two years of varsity experience. After making it to semifinals last year and quarterfinals the year before, it only fits that we win CCS this year.” With a 7-10-1 regular season record, the team is aiming to qualify for CCS playoffs. “We’ve consistently underperformed and ended up losing a couple of games we shouldn’t have,” senior Sterling Hancock said. “However, we can still definitely win CCS. We hope to win the championship.” The team started the season sluggishly as they lost their first three games to non-league teams Menlo-Atherton High School, Watsonville High School and Alisal High School. Winning their first game of the season against Cupertino High School at home and then losing their next two games against Oak Grove High School and Los Gatos High School, the team was 1-5 after non-league action. “In the beginning of the season, we were just getting used to our new players and new system,” junior Keaton Smith said. The team started to show signs of improvement by defeating Mountain View High School and Milpitas High School in two away games. However, in a tight match against Palo Alto High School

(Paly), the Titans gave up a goal in the final minutes of the game and lost 1-0. According to senior Enzo Cabili it was gut-wrenching. “The first Palo Alto game was particularly frustrating because we should have scored during several opportunities,” Cabili said. “Then, on one small mistake where they capitalized, it cost us the game.” As the season continued, the Titans fell back with two more losses. “The losses against Los Gatos and Mountain View were similar to the first Paly game,” Cabili said. “We couldn’t capitalize on our opportunities and we lost because the other team capitalized on our mistake.” A monumental turning point in the season was when the Titans beat Paly in their second match up. Gunn dominated in a 3-0 victory, with two goals from sophomore Jorge Salazar and one from Hancock. “We started reaching our potential during the second Paly game,” senior Scott Baer said. “It was a game where we needed to reach our full potential.” However, the Titans lost in their final game of the regular season against Los Gatos. Now the team is gearing up for a potential CCS spot. “The team chemistry is better than it has ever been,” Baer said. However, the team has not been this bonded all season. “At the beginning of the season, the team wasn’t as unified because we had many players from different clubs,” Cabili said. “Now, we have bonded and players from all clubs are working well together.” Henry Liu Junior Keaton Smith is optimistic about the team’s chances in CCS. “The Top: Senior Michael Starr chips the ball up field. Bottom left: Sophmore Sammy team has come together under the unify- Hayward gets congradulated by junior Yotam Kasznik and sophomore Jorge Salazar. Bottom right: Senior Miles Matthews jukes and dribbles up the field. ing goal of winning CCS.”

Melissa Sun

Left: Senior goalie Brooke Binkley leads the team in warm ups before the game. Middle: Senior forward Emily Hardison tries to settle the ball against her Homestead opponent. Right: Junior defensive midfielder Anna Von Clemm leans back to chip the ball over her Homestead defnder.

Girls’ soccer rebuilds, prepares for next season Krishan Allen Reporter

Under new head coach Damian Cohen, the girls’ soccer team has managed to maintain a 3-12-3 overall record and a 1-10-2 record in league play with only two seniors returning from last year and a multitude of injuries. Players said that the lack of seniority has not created a problem for the team. “I don’t think it’s that big of a deal,” junior midfielder Bonnie Cardillo said. “If anything, it has just made us stronger.” Junior defensive midfielder Diana Wise agrees. “Usually, I think it’s important to have a lot of seniors, but they did a great job,” she said. Unfortunately, injury problems came into play throughout the season. “This was a character-building season,” Cohen said. “It isn’t easy to start a season with 17

[people]and play most of the season with 10 to 13.” These obstacles forced the Lady Titans were forced to dig deeper. “Everyone [had] to step up even more after [junior attacking midfielder] Melissa Sun went down with a torn ACL,” Cohen said. “A team cannot replace a player like Sun. However, people did step up. This is something I am most proud about [with this] team.” The players also faced the challenge of adjusting to a new coach. Cohen took over the head coach position of the varsity girls’ team at the beginning of the season. The players have said that the change in coaching staff has helped the team. “He’s a really good coach, and he definitely can spark our confidence,” Wise said. “[Our coach] is very educational and lets us know what we are doing wrong, which is very important.” The team believes that their strong point has been on their defensive end, while their

offense could improve. “Our strength is our defense and our weakness is our offense because we don’t take as many shots as we should be [taking],” senior captain and goalkeeper Brooke Binkley said. Cardillo agreed. “We need to work on finishing, in general, and especially off crosses,” she said. Cohen said his most memorable moment of the season was when the team defeated Los Altos. “[The game] locked us in for another chance at the De Anza league next season,” Cohen said. “It was also our first league win. That Gunn knocked Los Altos to the other division is pretty cool.” With this season over, the team is looking forward and preparing for next season. “I think we will need to go out really focus every game and know we can win and have a lot of confidence because we work well together now that we really know each

other,” Wise said. Binkley agreed. “We could have done better in games, but it’s [been] really fun and I’ve enjoyed myself,” she said. Cohen believes that to improve, more work will be neccessarily outside of matches. “We need to do more strength training and fitness, [and] we need to truly establish a system of play that we can aim to perfect,” he said. “Some injuries were just horrible bad luck, other injuries this season could be prevented by improving technique [and] our fitness.” Cohen has an optimistic outlook when looking at the next season. “Sometimes the game is not about wins or losses,” he said. “But I guarantee that no one returning to this program will expect our record to look anything like it does this year. That is when we go from wanting to win, to expecting to win.”



The Oracle

Henry Liu

Left: Freshman Nora Shevick evades the Paly defender’s attempt to steal the ball on the way to a 50-45 home victory. Middle: Sophomore Cat Perez keeps the ball out of the opposing player’s reach. Right: Senior Rachael Clark reaches over her Paly defender to shoot a lay-up, scoring two of her 11 points.

Girls’ basketball team excels in tough league Sam Hayward Reporter

After losing eight players from last season, the girls’ varsity basketball team has had to rebuild. With only sophomore Julia Maggioncalda and senior Rachael Clark returning from last year’s team of 10, the squad has had to deal through the hardships of playing as a young team in a competitive league. According to sophomore guard Jordan Humble, the team has had to carry the leadership role together. “Everyone is expected to step up and trust

each other,” Humble said. “We are no longer relying on one person to carry the whole team.” This year, the team has come out exceeding expectations, “People did not expect much out of us at first, but now if we win one of our three remaining games we will qualify for Central Coast Section Championships which has always been one of our big goals for the season,” Clark said. After beating an undefeated Palo Alto High School (Paly) at their home court 39-34, the team rejoiced the win. “Everyone was

filled with excitement and it really feels good to know that a young team can overcome tough obstacles as it was shown in the game against Paly,” Humble said. Sophomore Hannah Riley recalled some of the game’s crucial details. “It was a back—and—forth game and in the end we had a clutch shot that pulled us ahead,” she said. “Paly was mentally beat towards the end. It was a mental match with the crowd and everyone watching.” Later in the season the Vikings came to visit Gunn seeking a rematch, but the Lady Titans denied

them a win holding on to a 50-45 victory. Sophomore Cat Perez led the team with 19 points and Clark added 11 more. Clark said the win against their crosstown rival was the highlight of the season, “Beating Paly twice was amazing,” Clark said. “They were such intense games with all the excitement and the pressure. We really picked up our level of play.” It seemed hard to tell whether the team would bond with only one senior and 10 underclassmen, but according to head coach Sarah Stapp, the team has meshed quite

well. “The team chemistry is very good and especially for the players on a girls’ team that is key,” she said. “We have been really lucky in that department.” Clark agrees. “We all get along well and all are positive towards one another,” Clark said. “In other sports I haven’t seen that as much.” As for next year, the team looks forward to having another sound season, “We are going to be drastically better even though we will greatly miss the loss of our only senior,” Humble said.

offense, to get good cuts, to get open shots,” he said. “We lost a lot of height, so this year we are more of a five out, on the perimeter, team as opposed to dominating the game in the post like we did last year,” he said. “Forthoffer added a lot of movement and passing to the offense that opens up the middle of the court for easy shots.” According to Forthoffer, “There are times when the new system is really amazing and we look really, really good, but other times it breaks down.” According to Rea, the new defensive system also plays to the team’s strengths. “We’re running a lot more zone defense this year than last year,” he said. “We’re not very big, so we have to doubleteam players.” The zone defense has helped the squad hold opposing teams to around 41 points per game. “It’s pretty good for a high school team, and we probably wouldn’t be able to do that with a man-to-man defense because we’d be outmanned. But together in a zone, we work with other players to double-team.” Bowers agrees. “We try to confuse the other teams by switching between man-to-man and zone defenses a lot,” he said. The team has been slowed by a string of injuries and has dealt with several players quitting the team mid-season. According to Rea, there was a week when only five players were cleared to practice.

“We called up a bunch of junior varsity (JV) guys so we could play five-on-five, but it made it a lot more difficult to simulate game situations because you’re practicing against JV players,” he said. “It’s different now because we’re down to three guards, so we can’t rotate out as much.” Forthoffer agrees that it was a setback. “It was pretty hard to work on what we needed to work on, so that really hurt us,” he said. However, junior forward Jack Hannan says that the team is fortunate that injuries mostly overlapped with practices, not games. “Some have missed a lot of practice with injuries, but they’re usually back for the games,” he said. According to Bowers, injuries affected the team more than the players that quit. “The quitting gets sort of annoying, but I don’t think it brings the team play and morale down,” he said. “Injuries do hurt us, as we already have a small team and we don’t have enough people to run a productive practice.” Forthoffer believes that the squad is on the rise, and will finish strong. “We’ve got great kids,” he said. “They work hard in practice, they focus, they don’t make excuses, they try to do the right thing. Just that effort alone gives us continuous improvement. Sometimes it’s an up and down, but we’re heading up.”

Boys’ basketball overcomes mid-season losses Annie Shuey Sports Editor

Henry Liu

Top: Senior guard Travis Bowers jumps to block a pass down court. Bottom: Senior Jon Rea looks for an open man.

With first-year coach Jim Forthoffer at the helm, the boys’ basketball team is aiming to finish the season winning half their league games and qualifying for the Central Coast Section postseason playoffs. “I think we’re improving every game,” Forthoffer said. “We’re young, we’re inexperienced, I’m a new coach. All those things go against us. But we’re in the upper league with a lot of tough teams and we’re going to be successful if we can win half our games in league. It’ll be a challenge, but we’re shooting for it. Forthoffer has made a number of changes in the style of play since taking over as head coach, including reshaping the offensive and defensive systems. According to senior forward Jon Rea, the new offensive system is markedly different from that of last year. “Last year we would run more set plays for individual players, but this year it’s more just cutting and screening,” Rea said. “Everyone does the same thing, so it’s more of a team-oriented offense.” Rea says the new offense suits the team’s strengths better. “We’re different from last year’s team because we’re a lot smaller, but we have a little more speed so we use our speed to run the motion


Monday, February 22, 2010


Spotlight: update on winter sports How has the season been so far?

“We ran our offensive system better as the season went on. We’ve all grown into our different roles on the team and formed a team identity.”

Jon Rea (12) — Boys’ Basketball (Point Guard)

“It has definitely been a tough season after all the injuries, but our young talent has shown promise. In the future, we are definitely looking for more recruits, more players and more fans.”

Monisha White (10) — Girls’ Soccer (Goalie)

“Overall, we definitely surpassed all expectations. We definitely have great team chemistry and I’m really happy about our team this year.”

“We have become a stronger, more united team. We have become a tight-knit family after overcoming injuries and disappointing losses.”

Claire Klausner (9) — Girls’ Basketball (Point Guard)

Keaton Smith (11) — Boys’ Soccer (Goalie)

“After losing so many seniors, it was great to see our young wrestlers begin to step up. The beginning of the season definitely had a few let downs from inexperience, but as the season progressed, our wrestlers improved.”

Stefan Weidemann (11) — Wrestling (Captain) —Compiled by Kevin Zhang



The Oracle

Figure Skating Every skater has exactly seven minutes and 30 seconds on the ice. Seven minutes and 30 seconds to split into two programs, with two songs; seven minutes and 30 seconds to show the panel of judges their most powerful and difficult jumps, their most intricate footwork, their fastest spins and their cleanest lifts. The United States Figure Skating Association is sending a total of ten skaters to represent the country for the 2010 Winter Olympics. Three individual men (Jeremy Abbott, Evan Lysacek and Johnny Weir), two women (Rachael Flatt and Mirai Nagasu), three ice dancing pairs (Meryl Davis and Charlie White, Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto and Emily Samuelson and Evan Bates), and the two pairs which skate for the U.S. weakest team, (Caydee Denney and Jeremy Barrett and Amanda Evora and Mark Ladwig) will be competing for the United States. The United States has a good chance for victory in the figure skating competitions to come.

Standings: Pairs’ skating: Gold—Xue Sheng/Hongbo Zhao (China) Silver—Qing Pang/Jian Tong (China) Bronze—Allona Savchenko/Robin Szolkowy (Germany) Mens’ skating: Gold—Evan Lysacek (USA) Silver—Evgeni Plushenko (Russia) Bronze—Daisuke Takahashi (Japan) Dates to follow: Feb. 22—Ice dance: free dance Feb. 25—Ladies’ long program

Biathlon Biathlon is an event that combines cross-country skiing and rifle shooting. It started in Northern Europe as a way for hunters to get food for their families. Later, Norway began using it as a way to train soldiers in winter conditions. At the first Winter Olympics in 1924, it was not an event, but a challenge called military patrol. It was made into an event in 1960. The term “biathlon” is Greek for “two tests.” While the United States didn’t medal in the 2002 and 2006 Olympic Games, Lowell Bailey looks to change that for the Americans. Bailey is a rising star in the sport with an 11th place finish in the 2008 World Cup and he leads an American team eager to prove their dominance in the sport.

Standings: Norway—2 Gold, 1 Silver, 1 Bronze France—1 Gold, 3 Bronze Slovakia—1 Gold, 1 Silver Germany—1 Gold, 1 Silver Belarus—1 Silver, 1 Bronze Sweden—1 Gold Austria—1 Silver Kazakhstan—1 Silver Croatia—1 Bronze Dates to Follow: Feb. 23—Women’s 4x6 km relay Feb. 26—Men’s 4x7.5 km relay

Ice Hockey Ice hockey was first played in its current form on March 3, 1875 in Montreal, Canada. Its roots date back to the Scottish game of “shinty,” which was a game similar to field hockey.  Once “shinty” arrived in the New World, it was shifted onto the ice because of the lack of playable grass fields in the icy Canadian winter. This year, the U.S. team takes to the ice with many young players. While many believe Team Canada to be the clear favorites, the Americans will look to spoil the Canadian homecoming. The Americans lack a lot of Olympic championship experience, but they make up for it with speed and stick skills, especially in top National Hockey League player performers Patrick Kane and Bobby Ryan. Nine players from the San Jose Sharks are playing in this year’s Olympics: Dany Heatley, Dan Boyle, Patrick Marleau and Joe Thorton for Team Canada, Evgeni Nabokov for Team Russia, Thomas Greiss for Team Germany, Douglas Murray and Niclas Wallin for Team Sweden and Joe Pavelski for Team USA.

Standings: U.S. women: 3-0 in Group B as of Feb. 20 U.S. men: 2-0 in Group A as of Feb. 20 Dates to Follow: Feb. 25—Women’s gold medal game Feb. 28—Men’s gold medal game

Ski Jumping Ski jumping has been part of the Olympic Games since 1924. The competition is held on three different terrains: normal hills, which are up to 330 feet, large hills, which are up to 430 feet and ski flying hills which are up to 610 feet. The large hill competition was added to the Winter Olympics in 1964. This year the International Olympic Committee accepted a proposal to allow women to participate in the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. The U.S. team consists of three men: Anders Johnson, Peter Frenette and veteran Nick Zlexander. The United States secured these three spots in the Olympics after their strong performances at the World Cup.

Standings: Normal hill individual Gold—Simon Anmann (Switzerland) Silver—Adam Malysz (Poland) Bronze—Gregor Schlierenzauer (Austria) Dates to follow: Feb. 22—Team final round

—Compiled by Tara Golshan and Nicholas Loyola

Graphic by Nathan Toung

The Oracle (Feb. 2010)  

February 2010

The Oracle (Feb. 2010)  

February 2010