Swim team prepares for new season
The Mystery of Edwin Drood lets the audience choose
Volume 45 Issue 6
Henry M. Gunn High School 780 Arastradero Road Palo Alto, CA 94306 Palo Alto Unified School District
NON-PROFIT ORG U.S. Postage
PA I D
Permit #44 Palo Alto, Calif.
Monday, March 16, 2009
780 Arastradero Road, Palo Alto, CA 94306
CUTTING OUR SPENDING California budget finally passed after months of stalemate Sarah-Jean Zubair Copy Editor
After an all-night session of compromise and concessions, the California Senate passed a new state budget at 4:50 a.m. on Feb. 19. Republican Senator Abel Maldonado cast the deciding vote, allowing the budget to pass with the necessary majority vote of 27 to 12. Maldonado, while denouncing the budget as “ugly” and something that “takes a lot away,” voted for its passage with the consideration that the state of California is in dire need of economic reform. “For many Californians, this budget is a real life and death situation,” Maldonado said in a press conference. “This budget is about shared pain and shared sacrifices.” Before the budget’s passage, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger had to declare a fiscal emergency and lay off 10,000 state employees. Lawmakers stated that without a new budget, another 10,000 workers would have to be laid off, and public works projects, like construction, would have to be postponed. Additionally, President Barack Obama placed an ultimatum on the budget: the state of California would not receive federal
stimulus money unless a state budget was passed. The budget, which would increase taxes, faced opposition from Republican senators who claimed the Democratic legislative majority was using the state’s financial problems as an excuse to continue excessive spending and raise taxes. Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer admitted to the budget’s imperfections, but urged Republican senators to overlook them for the sake of the Californian people. “We have to put aside all this ego and put the people of California first,” Boxer said during the stalemate. “The people of California do not deserve the fate they will receive if it is not passed.” Unlike prior legislation for temporary relief from the current financial crisis, the recently passed budget addresses the entire $42 billion state deficit with tax increases and state spending reductions. $14.9 billion in spending cuts will be made primarily in more costly spending fields, especially education. Principal Noreen Likins feels that the budget is completely flawed in that respect. “Any budget that makes cuts in funding for education is not good for California,” she said. “It puts education in jeopardy.
We shouldn’t have kids pay the price for the state’s failure to balance a budget.” Likins stated that the spending cuts may affect students and teachers in negative ways. “Students won’t see any impact in the 2008-2009 school year,” she said. “The PAUSD [Palo Alto Unified School District] has been financially savvy, so there is enough money in the reserve to maintain the schools for a while. There has been and will be tightening in terms of the district budget. But people just don’t know what is going to happen.” Some school districts with less funding have resorted to laying off teachers and staff to save money, and cutting art and sports programs out of their curriculums. Likins says that PAUSD has not had to resort to that yet. But in years to follow, changes for more financial prudence may include slightly larger class sizes and decreases in employee hiring. “The last time the property tax revenue amount per student was so low [in the 2003-2004 school year], there were some lay-offs in this district,” Likins said. “Anticipated cuts may reduce our ability to staff at the same levels next year. But you can’t be certain about what will happen in the future.”
TA grading policies reinforced, revamped Wen Yi Chin and Joyce Liu
Sports Editor & Features Editor
During the January staff meeting, Principal Noreen Likins informed teachers about a more formal and updated teacher’s assistant (TA) policy. The issue with the TA policy was brought into the light when a TA had access to a teacher’s grade book, according to Math Instructional Supervisor Jeanne Beck. “The teacher was open and trusting and the TA had the teacher’s permission [to enter grades into the grade book],” Likins said. “But even the suggestion of possible misconduct puts us into a difficult situation.” “It’s an unfortunate situation that would not have occured if there were more boundaries,” Assistant Principal Phil Winston said. Winston began to investigate the situation when students made allegations about “buying” grades. “We take it very seriously and try to move as expeditiously as possible,” he said. Through his investigation, Winston was not able to find proof to verify the claims. “We were not able to confirm that grades were changed with respect to money,” Winston said. “We did not find that grades were changed or that tests were graded with bias. There was no evidence to substantiate the rumors. If somebody brought a blank lab with an A on it, that would be substantial evidence.” According to Winston, there was no first person information. The students who
alleged that unfair grading had occurred were always talking about something that happened to their friends. “Such situations can create a lot of gossip, which can amplify the situation,” physics teacher Claudia Winkler said. “And they’re not even true because they are taken out of context.” During the investigation, the administrators looked at graded tests, but did not find any suspicious grades. The administrators also had multiple meetings and long conversations with the student and teacher involved as well as the student’s parents. “We’re confident that we did a thorough job,” Winston said. “There were no facts that grades were changed and exchanged, although the decision was made that the student would not TA anymore in the best interest of everyone.” Nonetheless, this incident brought the TA policy into attention. “It’s not an issue until it’s an issue,” Winston said. “This issue reminded us that the situation needed adjustment. It’s a problem when the TAs don’t understand the boundaries or if the teachers don’t implement the boundaries. Before this incident, I don’t think the boundaries were very clear.” Likins agreed. “It is our duty and responsibility to protect students’ privacy,” she said. “It’s not okay for TAs to have access to grades. It is okay for a TA to grade multiple choice, if the student is TA POLICY—p.2
paper or plastic?
Twenty-five cent tax proposed Henry Liu
In April, the Santa Clara Country recycling and waste reduction commission will vote on a proposal to implement a 25-cent fee on singleuse carry out bags county wide. If passed, the county will start enforcing the fee on Oct. 1, which aims to offset the full economic and environmental cost of the bags. Proponents of the measure argue that a fee will reduce the consumption of single-use carryout bags and will encourage consumers to bring their own. “Everyone knows it’s a good idea to use reusable bags, but not many people have a reason to remember,” Gunn Green Team president senior Emmiliese von Clemm said. “A fee would add the incentive people need to bring their own bags.” Residents against the ban counter that the fee will not have its intended effect. “Global warming isn’t caused by plastic bags,” senior Joseph Welch said. “There are more pressing issues that deserve attention such as increasing the gas mileage of cars and finding alternative sources of energy.” While reducing plastic bag waste alone may
not end global warming, assistant student chair for the Gunn Green team, senior Justin Kahn, believes it’s a step in the right direction. “Papermills dump dangerous chemicals into rivers and plastic industries use corrosive chemicals which harm the environment,” he said. In a statement regarding the ordinance, Elizabeth Constantino, Manager of the Integrated Waste Management Division for Santa Clara county, pointed out that 60 percent of the litter found in Bay Area creeks is plastic. “There is too much waste in our society,” Palo Alto resident June Liu said. Other opponents of the ordinance believe that an extra tax on bags could hurt consumers, especially in such a troubled economy. According to www.stopthesantaclaracobagtax.com, a website opposed to the measure and sponsored by the Progressive Bag Affiliates of the American Chemistry Council, “This new bag tax ignores the current crisis in our economy. The new tax increases costs on families while creating a new government bureaucracy.” Some also believe that this tax could unfairly tax the poor. “Rich people can just ignore the tax, but the poor will be hurt by it,” Welch said. BAG TAX—p.4
Administration enforces little known parking lot rule Gap Year Information Night provides new insight
Obama’s costly stimulus plan affects seniors
On Feb. 17, President Barack Obama signed the economic stimulus bill that will allot $787 billion to public works projects, social programs and tax cuts. It includes $150 billion to education, doubling the Department of Education’s budget for the year. The Gunn administration has said that Gunn might not see significant gains, but the availability of student loans will increase. Despite the package, the California budget made $4 billion cuts to education and will leave Gunn with a loss of funding. “California has lowered its educational budget significantly,” Likins said. “It is very likely that we will have to make some cuts.” This will affect seniors applying to colleges. It aims to salvage student lending corporations, such as Sally Mae, which began to fail in September and sued for a buyout when JP Morgan and other banks rejected buying it for $25 billion. Sally Mae is only one of the companies suffering during the “credit crunch” that has led many seniors to reevaluate college plans. “I didn’t apply out of state, because my state residency significantly lowers the price of tuition within the Cal State and UC system,” senior Sabrina Riddle said. “I’ve been looking for loans, scholarships and grants, because despite staying in the state, the money in my family to afford full tuition without assistance just isn’t there.” Senior Iva Petrov agreed. “No one wants to drag down their parents with tuition payments,” Petrov said. “After all, graduate school should be where your debt collects.” Contrary to popular belief, being in the parking lot during and after school hours is prohibited. Although it seems harmless, administration believes that students pose a danger to cars and their own safety. Students caught violating this rule are warned by staff members. Sophomore Ryan Griffiths and his friends found out the harsh way. “We were chilling out there by the car, and all of a sudden someone comes and makes up some bogus rule that we’re not allowed to hang out in the parking lot,” Griffiths said. “He told us we couldn’t hang out in the parking lot as if we were committing a crime.” Assistant Principal Phil Winston understands. “I think the policy says no but I mean that’s pretty hardcore. We allow students to congregate in the parking lot as long as they are reasonable,” Winston said. Examples of misdemeanors include loud music and drug use. Also, it can be dangerous to loiter while cars are entering or exiting. “There have been issues where the radio is too loud, and we just ask them to turn it down and they’re really responsive to that,” Winston said. “For most students, it’s a one-time issue.” The majority of the administration is lenient with this rule because it is difficult to enforce. Although the school is not occupied after school, it is still treated as private property. According to Winston, there are security cameras installed on campus. Community members have also reported suspicious behavior in the past, and the administration has followed up with consequences. As long as students don’t cause a ruckus, they will gradually be left alone, but if they do, there will be repercussions. On March 4, students met in the Palo Alto High School library for Gap Year Information Night. The purpose was to show students and parents how others benefited from gap year, a time between high school and college where studies are suspended for time to be spent learning life skills and responsibilities. “Attending a presentation on gap year will allow one to look at the variety of opportunities available,” guidance counselor Linda Kirsch said. “There will be ample time to ask questions that the panel of presenters can respond to so you can decide if this is right for you.” The presentation was presented by a panel of different guests. “Gap year is an opportunity to explore interests, learn about the world, other cultures,” event coordinator Alice Erber said. The programs ranged from hiking in forests to going to a foreign country to learn its language and culture. There are also other options like internships that can be done during gap year. Besides having students talk about their experiences with gap year, outside resources for more information was also provided. Speaker handed out flyers from programs like AmeriCorps and LeapNow. “We have a panel of five agencies that offer programs,” Erber said. “We introduce the evening and then the representatives talk. Just Google ‘gap year’ and there will be hundreds of programs. College and career centers have files with program materials.”
—Compiled by Emily Glider, Veronica Polivanaya and May Wu
Assembly speaker shares life lesson Sophia Jiang Reporter
Since the beginning of the school year, the Student Executive Council has been planning the Drug and Alcohol Assembly. The assembly featured a guest speaker, Austin Whitney, a motivational speaker who swore off drinking after a car accident paralyzed him and almost killed his best friend. He now dedicates his life to spreading the lessons and consequences he has learned about drunk driving. “It doesn’t matter how many times you get away with it, it doesn’t matter how many times your friends do it and are okay,” Whitney said. “The one thing matters, that is that one time you mess up for a second and then your on the side of the road, alive if you’re lucky.” Whitney attended high school in Orange County and graduated with a 4.0 grade point average, was a varsity football, soccer and lacrosse player, a student government member and acted in school plays. On July 21, 2007, about a month after graduation, Whitney drank and drove, sideswiped the right curb on the road and crashed into a tree on the opposite side of the road, a quarter mile away from his home. The accident shattered his spine, pelvis and all of his ribs, which caused major internal bleeding. However, Whitney described his gratitude when retelling his story. “It could have been so much worse,” Whitney said. “I truly am lucky, but not all [are].” During the assembly, he emphasized the importance of “taking the keys” from intoxicated friends and mentioned several alternative methods of getting home, such as AAA-Tipsy and Safe Ride. Some students said that they were able to easily connect with Whitney’s story because of his genuine and straightforward presentation. “He wasn’t obnoxious about drinking and driving like most other speakers are,” sophomore Sweta Bhattacharya said. “He was just really honest and presented his speech in a way
Austin Whitney openly shares his drinking and driving story and advice with students. that was easy for us to relate to.” In years past, the assembly has consisted of a panel of students and professional experts. This year, seniors Julie Ming and Ahmad Fayad, members of the Drug and Alcohol Committee, led the assembly process. Ming and Fayad believed Whitney’s presentation story would be able to better portray the point they’re trying to get across. “It’s giving people a look at reality,” Fayad said. “People need to be smart and careful,” Student Activities Director Lisa Hall said. “Everyone thinks nothing bad will happen to them.”
Reinforced TA policy protects students n TA POLICY continued from p.1
identified by number. TAs should never enter grades into the computer. Once you enter something into the system, it becomes a school record.” Winkler said she thinks that whatever system is set up, teachers should change it up in order to preserve the integrity of the student’s data. “We should change it from student IDs to something totally random from time to time so that the TAs can’t link the work with the student because I think after awhile TAs can catch on,” she said. Although using student IDs are supposed to protect students’ privacy, senior science TA Bowen Xie does not approve. “I don’t really think it helps make grading more anonymous because if someone really wanted to change a person’s grade, all he would have to do is flip to the last page and check the name printed on the back,” he said. “It does make sorting [papers] ridiculously long because the ID numbers don’t have an alphabetical order to it. Frankly, I am pissed that the rest of TAs have to suffer just because a few in particular did something and were stupid enough to get caught.” Every year, teachers are reminded of appropriate TA behavior, but this year the guidelines became more stringent. “It takes a jolt to make us realize what needs to happen,” Likins said. “Before, it was fairly nebulous and not necessarily enforced.” The updated TA policy is that students’ names and grades can be viewed only by the teacher. According to Winston, the administrators discourage teachers from letting TAs grade tests, quizzes and labs, or assignments that account for a significant part of a student’s grade. “TAs should only be grading multiple choice answers or answers that are clear cut,” Beck said. “They should not be dealing with partial credit.” In addition, TAs should not be entering grades or generating or modifying tests because it would be hard for the school to support or defend the teacher if a problem arises, Winston said. “We want to protect students’ work,” he said. “It should be as fair as possible.” According to Beck letting TAs have access to grade books is also unfair to the TA because students
feel they can put pressure on TAs to change grades. “Even a few points here and there might make the difference between a B+ and an A-,” she said. “It seems like a little amount, but it would be a big change in the student’s grade. Students’ grades are akin to medical records—they’re very private.” Winkler agreed with the idea of pressure TAs can face. “Somehow, with their access to privileged information, misunderstandings occur among the students, who think that the TA has an influence over the teacher,” she said. Junior math TA Claire O’Connell doesn’t feel like TAs are pressured into changing people’s grades. “People just joke about [changing grades] once in a while, but they never mean it,” O’Connell said. “Both students and TAs know that it’s not going to happen. I only correct homework, and if I’m a little unsure about how to grade something, I show it to [the teacher] and we discuss the assignment.” Xie expressed the same sentiments. “I’ve never felt like I ever needed to change people’s grade or grade easier, even when it’s my friends,” Xie said. “I mean if they scored low then it’s their bad and it’s not really any of my business to interfere in their life. I just go through a checklist and I usually don’t even check the names.” Many teachers rely on TAs for mundane tasks. “TAs are a very important part of the teaching process,” Beck said. “There’s just so much time in a teacher’s day, and the teachers really need help if the students want to get feedback on homework in such a timely manner.” There is no written policy for TAs at the moment, but Winston said he consulted with the district legal staff throughout the whole investigation and is considering putting the clearer TA policy in the faculty handbook. “A student altering a teacher’s grade book is really serious,” Likins said. “This could result in at least suspension and possibly more.” The investigation has stopped, but if any significant evidence is brought to attention, the case may be reopened. “I would be happy to have conversations with students who feel like they’ve been wronged,” Winston said. “But be factual.”
Monday, March 16, 2009
Q&A with James Lubbe Dean of Students
James Lubbe The Oracle: How do you generally deal with truancy?? James Lubbe: When students are cutting class it’s recorded by the teachers. That goes into our database—SASI is what it’s called, is our database—and anytime a student misses class it gets recorded in the SASI, which goes to the attendance office, and phone calls are made home letting parents know that they’re missing class. How we deal with it here in the office is once a student has four cuts we get a list of names and which period that they cut and then we go ahead and we call them in and we’ll place them on an attendance contract, when they have four cuts or more. Once they get placed on an attendance contract, one more cut after the attendance contract they’re dropped from the class, unless it’s a student who has an IEP (Individualized Education Plan). When they reach the attendance contract stage we have an attendance IEP meeting to go ahead and discuss the issues of why they’re cutting class. Other things that we can do is we call home to notify and talk to the parents, maybe even have a parent meeting. And if the student ends up getting dropped from classes, where they’re not taking five classes anymore, then the student can no longer be a student here at Gunn, because you have to be enrolled in five classes. TO: Do you generally give students positive incentives to stay in class? JL: Well, when we talk to students about cutting class, there are obviously reasons they don’t want to cut class, because they can get dropped from the class, and it affects their grades. But, the other thing also is when I talk to them, I try to encourage them, “You should be going to class, because when you’re going to class, you’re learning the material.” TO: Is there a general attitude of truant students? Are they willing to change? JL: That’s a good question—a lot of times it becomes habits and behaviors, and those things, when someone has a habit or behavior it is a hard thing to change. Sometimes I think it helps if a student actually does get dropped from a class for cutting, because they learn, “Oh, wow, consequences are real, this is really going to happen, I need to change my ways.” In fact, I was working with this student a lot during the first semester, and that student, he really does want to change. I can see changes that are taking place within him. TO: What is your opinion on students that have to miss a lot of school for outside of school sports or chronic illnesses? JL: Well, we all take an understanding if a student is ill and there’s something that they’re recovering from. Obviously, we want to work with them and help them, even though they’re missing class, and teachers as well, they’ll work with students. If they’re on a sports team or they have other extracurricular activities like choir or plays and they’re missing class, or YCS– they’ll take a trip, Service Day. So, if they have other outside activities, we encourage students to be involved in activities, and we think it’s great just as long as they can keep up on their academics, then missing class isn’t affecting them in a negative way. —Compiled by Danielle Aspitz
Gunn truancy rate up 23 percent
Recent report sheds light on large number of students cutting class
Niki Mata Features Editor
The California Department of Education (CDE) reports that a truant is someone who cuts class three times or more without an excuse. According to the CDE, Gunn’s truancy rate, its number of truant students, has risen 23 percent in the past two years, from 38 percent in 2007 to 54 percent in 2008. However, the increase in truancy rate is still lower than that of Palo Alto High School’s (Paly). The administration said that they do not see truancy as a serious issue at Gunn. “Truancy is not that big of a problem at Gunn,” Assistant Principal Phil Winston said. “We have some repeat offenders, but we have some really good policies and staff in place to help us deal with this.” Gunn’s fluctuating truancy pattern over the past few years, as shown by the 2009 WASC report, is reflective of the constantly changing student body size. For example, Gunn’s highest truancy rate thus far, in 2007 to 2008, occurred concurrently with its largest enrollment of 1,874 students. Administration, however, still placed high importance on solving the problem of truancy. “Before school opened in the fall we decided to make truancy a top priority and put it on the front burner,” Principal Noreen Likins said. The exact reason for the increase in truancy in Palo Alto high schools is ambiguous, but there are many factors that appear to contribute to this issue. One prevalent theory is that many students at Gunn are increasingly cutting class to study. “Usually when I cut I have a good enough reason like I have a test next period, or some unfinished business like homework,” junior Wook Lee said. “I usually go to the Academic Center (AC). I think the AC is a mecca for students who cut.” Lee also said that the fact that Palo Alto is a high pressure academic environment and students are pushed to get into good colleges may also contribute to students cutting. English teacher Nicole Cohen agrees that academic pressure plays a role in truancy. “This is not the only source of
truancy,” Cohen said. “However, some students are cutting classes because they are very stressed. They cut what they may consider insignificant classes to get work done for other courses. Nevertheless, in the long term, I don’t think students realize that it’s going to hurt them. Cutting under any circumstance is not a good idea.” Students like Lee agree that they cut some classes more than others. “Gym is pretty useless to me because I’m fit, and I guess I don’t need to go to gym because it’s a waste of my time and I’d rather just study and increase my intellectual capabilities,” Lee said. Though some students claim to be cut-
“I think the bottom line is not only does truancy or tardiness disrupt the classroom environment, but people develop habits which can be very detrimental to their success in a work environment.” —Principal Noreen Likins
ting class for “good” reasons, they are still violating Gunn’s attendance policy, which states that after four cuts, students must attend Saturday School, and after five cuts, they are dropped from the class. According to Likins, the task of attendance is a difficult one. Some teachers implement their own consequences for students who cut to help carry out the school’s policy. “If they cut it will affect their grades,” Cohen said. “Every cut may lower their grade by half a letter grade in my class.” Yet even with these policies in place, the truancy rate is still going up. “[Truancy is] based on taking attendance once a day, which is an elementary model of attendance monitoring,” Winston said. In
high school, students can become truants very quickly, because attendance is taken seven periods a day. “Tracking attendance is extremely hard,” Likins said. “Sometimes if a student cuts, it’s very hard to get a hold of him or her. There has to be due process—you have to treat the penalty as three cuts for the first time you catch the student.” The administration however, is working to improve attendance policy. “We have tried really hard to make a dent in truancy by implementing things like Saturday School, and I think this has been effective,” Likins said. She said they are mainly focusing on tardiness this year, rather than cutting, since that appears to be the most problematic for students. The Tardy Focus Group was also created this year to address the problem of tardiness and truancy. Parents, teachers, students and counselors have met twice thus far to discuss the effectiveness of new policies such as Saturday School on a weekly basis. The group has been discussing ideas about why students cut and possible strategies to reduce the problem. “The purpose of the group is to see if the tardy policy that was implemented is working, and if not, how do we discourage tardies,” junior group member Sarah Simonetti said. Among the ideas that the group has discussed, Simonetti says they have been thinking about adding an extra two minutes to the passing period between A and B and between C and D periods. “The cut-off date for tardies should be implemented,” Simonetti said. “Another big part of it is publicizing it. A lot of teachers don’t tell you when you’re tardy.” The members have also discussed that “second-semester” seniors are generally more likely to be late to class than freshman. However, Likins said that cutting and being late to class boils down to negative impacts on oneself and his or her own peers. “I think the bottom line is not only does truancy or tardiness disrupt the classroom environment, but people develop habits which can be very detrimental to their success in a work environment,” Likins said.
Delinquent students attend Saturday School Punishment for tardies and cuts take place over the weekend Stephanie Kennel Reporter
Saturday School has been a part of Gunn’s disciplinary policy regarding tardies for four years and continues to play its role in reducing the number of students who come to school late and cut class. According to Assistant Principal Phil Winston, the key to its effectiveness is its ability to act as a disincentive, since attending Saturday School is not something that many students find palatable on their day off from school. “Saturday School is a deterrent,” Winston said. “It encourages people to get to class on time by deterring people to come to Saturday School.” Some students agree with Winston’s assessment of Saturday School and its knack of getting students to get to class on time and refrain from cutting class. According to sophomore Caitlin Levinson, Saturday School is a place where, “you have to sit and think about the consequences of your tardies for four
hours when you could have been sleeping instead.” “It’s effective because people don’t want to be tardy, but some people will just keep cutting and coming to class late, whether they go to Saturday School or not,” Levinson said. The policy states that Saturday School is assigned to students who receive five or more tardies. If three to five tardies are received, then a warning is generally give out to that particular student. Aside from being late to class, getting four or more cuts is a way to end up spending time in Saturday School. The Saturday School schedule consists of students showing up in the library by 8 a.m. followed by a 10-minute snack break at 10 p.m. and a finish by 12 p.m. According to Dean of Students James Lubbe students cannot just show up at Saturday School and expect to just sit around and not be productive. “Schoolwork must be done,” Lubbe said. “Students cannot sit around and do nothing, listen to their iPods or sleep.”
This means no electronics, and students are obliged to bring some sort of school-related material to work on. Although some students were able to be productive during the four-hour period in Saturday School by doing their homework, it did not change their perspective on getting to class on time or abstaining from cutting class. “It didn’t really do anything,” sophomore Robert Wiszowaty said. “I did some school work, but it was the biggest waste of my time, I just sat there in a chair for four hours.” If students fail to report to their assigned session of Saturday School, then they are expected to come the next Saturday. In addition, if students come late to Saturday School then they will not be admitted and Saturday School will be reassigned. Students who do not come to Saturday School may also face suspension, depending on the circumtances. Students who return late from the 10-minute break provided will be required to attend an additional hour of Saturday School or an hour after school the next week.
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Left: Teachers and administrators confer prior to the WASC meeting. Right: WASC evaluators gather outside the SAC.
WASC evaluation showcases school progress Gunn community gets closer through preparation for four-day evaluation Joyce Liu Features Editor
The Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) accreditation process culminated with a visit from the WASC visiting committee March 8 to 11. The WASC visiting team included administration, teachers and staff from various schools in California. Staff, students and parents met in focus groups beginning in February of 2008 to reflect on the educational practices at Gunn and helped to set a plan and goals for the next six years. All of the goals have been placed under six major categories: Diversity and Choice, Instructional Practices, Community and Communication, Excellence with Growth and Student Performance and Assessment, which is abbreviated into DICES. The full report can be found online on the Gunn Web site. WASC coordinator Dawna Linsdell, Principal Noreen Likins, English teacher Tarn Wilson and Visual and Performing Arts Instructional Supervisor Todd Summers were part of the writing committee that collected information from focus groups and wrote out the Single Plan for Student Achievement (SPSA), which includes various tasks that will help to achieve the six goals, the actions needed to complete the tasks,
the people responsible and involved, a time line and resources. “It took us about 16 to 20 hours to finish [the] SPSA,” Linsdell said. “We took all the findings and goals from the five focus groups that they plugged under DICES and put those ideas in complete sentences.” The full WASC Report includes a community profile, the SPSA, findings of the focus groups, department findings and action plans, goals and tasks for the next six years. Besides planning, the WASC process was also a way for the staff to meet other staff members from different departments and learn about different aspects of the school. On the Feb. 17 Staff Development Day, teachers prepared material for class visits. “People really liked seeing what other people did,” Linsdell said. “The board members were impressed at what teachers and students do at Gunn, and the superintendent said that people were very enthusiastic.” On the anonymous feedback forms, one teacher wrote, “It was fun to visit other rooms and see the evidence of our outstanding best teaching practices—it should not end just because we do not have a WASC visit coming!” Another teacher wrote, “Moving around to different departments really shows how everyone puts out 200 percent for the betterment of the students.” After the four day evaluation, WASC visiting
team chair Albert Acuna said that he enjoyed the friendly students and staff at Gunn. “Everyone was very focused,” he said. One of the issues that Acuna said Gunn could improve on was closing the achievement gap. “It’s not just a problem at Gunn, though, it’s an issue across the country,” he said. In addition to closing the achievement gap, the WASC evaluation team said that Gunn could work on recognizing individual student achievement even more. The WASC evaluating team did not have enough time to make changes to the draft report before the community presentation in which they reported their findings, so the full WASC evaluation report will be sent to the school this week. The school will be notified of whether or not we received a six-year clear in June. Linsdell said that her favorite part about WASC is everyone coming together as a community celebrating what we do at Gunn. “Teachers meet other teachers from across campus and students and parents come and share their opinions,” she said. As for her least favorite part, Linsdell said it would have to be the paperwork. “I hate killing trees,” she said. “It’s a pain to use up so much paper, but sometimes people just won’t read it if it’s online.” For the next WASC, Linsdell said she wants to “go green, try to have less paperwork and do things more electronically.”
UCs eliminate SAT II subject tests Sophie Cheng Copy Editor
Beginning with the class of 2012, students will no longer be required to take two SAT subject tests as part of the University of California (UC admissions process. According to College and Career Center Coordinator Leighton Lang, the mission of this new policy is to try to close the socioeconomic gap that exists between applicants. “The UCs believe that they are missing out on applicants who have good GPAs and grades, but don’t have the [SAT subject tests],” Lang said. The elimination of the SAT subject test requirement is not a new idea. “Only two percent of all colleges and universities require the SAT subject tests, so there are institutions which can make decisions on students without these tests,” guidance counselor Myesha Compton said. However, according to Compton, the policy will also decrease the number of students accepted. “It’s cutting the percentage of guaranteed slots for the UC,” Lang said. “It used to be that the top 12 percent applications were guaranteed a spot, because even if you didn’t get into the UC you applied to, you were guaranteed a spot in one of the other UCs. This percentage has now dropped down to the top nine percent.” According to The San Francisco Chronicle, the new policy will cause the UCs to do a more comprehensive review of incoming applications. This will cause certain students to have an increased chance
of being accepted, while others will have less of a chance, according to Compton. “I think students with stronger academics but less extracurriculars might suffer, but it will allow those with a balance of the two to showcase their talents,” she said. Compton believes there are benefits for students in the policy as well. “I hope it will help students be not quite as stressed and concentrate on more school-based academics if they so choose,” she said. “It will also give them more options, because those who originally weren’t considering the UCs because of the requirement would be able to apply.” However, Lang thinks that the new policy will increase the number of UC applications. “I think it will benefit students, because basically, what the UCs have done is brought the requirements down so that students who would normally apply to state schools will now be able to apply to UCs,” Lang said. Lang does not believe that the elimination of the requirement will affect Gunn particularly. “Our school is mainly UC-driven,” Lang said. “Most of the kids apply to the privates and all the UCs. But for schools who are not as academically strong, kids will be able to apply for UCs.” Freshman Amanda Tam agrees. “I would take [the SAT subject tests] anyway, even if it was not required [for the UCs], because I would want to apply for private schools too,” Tam said. Overall, Compton is optimistic about students’ chances to receive higher education after Gunn. “In the end, all students will be able to find a college or university that fits them,” she said. “The UCs aren’t the only universities in the [United States].”
n BAG TAX, from p. 1
“Twenty-five cents may not seem like a lot to us, but it adds up.” The money collected from the ban will be split between stores and the Bag Pollution Cleanup Fund. Vendors are allowed to keep 5 cents per bag as reimbursement for any costs incurred by the fee. Any left over will be spent on education and promotion of reusable bags as well as providing reusable bags to customers, community organizations and nonprofit organizations. The remaining 20 cents per bag will be used by the Bag Pollution Fund to “encourage and support recycling of single-use carryout bags and single-use carryout bag pollution prevention, cleanup, abatement and outreach programs,” according to the latest draft of the ordinance. If the proposal passes, a maximum cap of two dollars per purchase as well as exemption of customers using food stamps will be in effect until Jan. 1, 2014. In addition, restaurants and take-out food stores will not have to pay the fee.
Monday, March 16, 2009
Recent incidents threaten online safety Cyberbullying on campus Carissa Ratanaphanyarat News Editor
Cyberbullying, according to several students and staff members, hurts more than a physical fight. “Cyberbullying affects [you] throughout your daily life,” junior Sarah Simonetti said. According to Assistant Principal Phil Winston, cyberbullying, defined as online harassment, hurts longer than a physical fight and has untold long-term consequences and emotional impacts. “I’ve never been cyberbullied except for that one time when someone sent me a message to my Honesty Box,” sophomore Paula Jung said. “It said, ‘You have hella small eyes.’” Jung was initially upset by the words. “At first I was kind of sad, but I decided to not make it a big deal and didn’t respond back,” Jung said. “And I realized that I actually do have hella small eyes, so whatever.” Simonetti found herself in a similar situation a couple of years earlier. “Two summers ago, I got this message saying, ‘you have really gross legs, you shouldn’t wear shorts,’ and stuff like that,” she said. “I had a two-page conversation, and I deleted Honesty Box after that. That whole summer I guess, I was more self-conscious.” Several students and administration members have cited Honesty Box, a Facebook Application that enables a Facebook friend or member of the same network to leave an anonymous message for someone, as a major cyberbullying method. “I think that most people cyberbully each other by Honesty Box because it’s anonymous,” Jung said. “It’s pretty shady.” Compare People and Social Profile, two another Facebook application, also allows people to rank and comment on their friends in categories such as “hottest” and “smartest,” with a choice of anonymity. Some students were cyberbullied not by the means of Facebook, but through other online mediums. “The first time [I was cyberbullied] was in fifth grade, and a boy had sent me a fake e-mail threatening me,” Simonetti said. “This guy in my class sent the e-mail to my teacher, another girl and me.”
However, some students say that cyberbullying is not a serious problem at Gunn. “I don’t think it happens a lot,” Jung said. “It happens indirectly. We judge each other and bully each other based on how they present themselves on the web. And I think that’s dumb.” Simonetti agrees. “I feel like two years ago, [cyberbullying] was really bad because everyone was getting a Facebook, and everyone was getting a Honesty Box,” she said. “I think that it’s died down since then. I haven’t heard about any cyberbullying recently, but there was this issue about Gossip Girl at Gunn.” (See “Gunn Gossip” on right). The school is involved only in some circumstances. “If it is done on any school campus, done from a school computer or something that carries over to school as to negatively affect a student’s performance or disrupts their education, if brought to administration’s attention, we take the situation seriously and administration can examine the context to see if involvement is necessary,” Winston said. Currently, Gunn is discouraging cyberbullying through classes and other methods. “We’re letting people know that it’s an issue, and teachers talk about it in Living Skills,” Winston said. “We are also planning on showing the video to staff at our April staff meeting and engaging in conversation about how best to be proactive with cyberbullying. We also plan to create PSA’s with students to show on TBN about cyberbullying.” In addition, a video was made by a select collaboration of students addressing cyberbullying last summer. The video was aimed at further educating students about cyberbullying in a more interactive way. The video, which was originally going to be shown in the first assembly of the year, has not been seen yet due to scheduling issues. However, Winston said that he plans to show the video in a future assembly. “I certainly hope [that we will show the video],” Winston said. “We want to validate and acknowledge everyone’s effort put into that. It has some realistic situations that we think students can relate to.”
Facebook policy reversed Beth Holtzman News Editor
vented all others from viewing their webpage. However, many “deactivated” accounts were still found on the Facebook servers. Many former users were frustrated with this glitch and requested that Facebook permanently delete their accounts. For example, some college graduates who had moved into the workforce and were searching for jobs wanted to be sure that criminalizing pictures and information from their college days would not hamper their potential future. As of Feb. 29, users can contact the Web site and request a permanent deletion of their account. Facebook does have many privacy settings that enable users to limit and control who can see what on their profiles. For example, users have the capability of preventing some other users from seeing pictures, videos and other items posted on the site. However, many of the sites users do not know how to utilize these privacy settings to their advantage. Facebook Chief Privacy Officer Chris Kelly stated that Facebook is working toward creating a “privacy wizard” tool to assist users and make the process of privatizing their webpage simpler.
Veronica Polivanaya Add as Friend March 16 7:55pm Reply
In an attempt to copy the TV show Gossip Girl, Gunn students have started “Gunn Gossip,” a Facebook group geared towards spreading gossip about others. The group is based on the concept that students provide gossip to an anonymous source, who, in turn, passes the information on to group members via Facebook messages. Upon learning about the existence of the Facebook group, students had mixed reactions. “I was just shocked,” senior Maggie Goulder said. “I had no idea what to do and I didn’t know what people would think.” While some were surprised, others were disappointed. “It’s a feeble attempt at creating drama in our grade-oriented high school,” senior Yana Vashchenko said. The group is run by Shawn Craig, a fake person listed as a freshman in the Gunn network. The group is private and users must be invited or request an invitation to join. A similar group called “Gossy Gangsta” popped up on Palo Alto High School’s (Paly) Facebook network last year. It was run by several people, who created a Facebook account with the same name as the group instead of using a fake name. “There were at least one or two seniors last year that made a Facebook group that basically covered all the gossip-y events at Paly using initials
instead of real names,” senior Phil Martin said. “I heard there was some controversy with administration regarding the site, and it may have gotten removed by Facebook admin, but I’m not entirely sure.” Contrary to popular belief, the administration does not have direct access to Facebook but can interfere under several circumstances. “The school can get involved if stuff like that is done from a school computer and if it negatively influences a student’s experience at Gunn, whether it’s academically or socially,” Assistant Principal Phil Winston said. The administration needs first-hand information in to take affirmative action. “I got an anonymous e-mail [about the group] and I said ‘it sounds legitimate, it sounds concerning, people are spreading rumors about people’s sexual habits, about their experiences, and that’s not cool,” Winston said. “I said, ‘give us first hand information’, and nobody came forward.” “Gunn Gossip” has been short-lived— although Shawn Craig made three posts the day the group was created, he hasn’t said a word since. Although the show Gossip Girl has gained popularity since its release, students agree that there is a fine line between reality and television.
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Monday, March 16, 2009
Unique solutions could boost schools’ budget
The economy hasn’t stopped plummeting yet; it’s time to try something new
fter three months of strenuous deliberation, California legislators finally passed a new budget Feb. 9. The budget seeks to rein in the state’s soaring debt by cutting programs that Californians can live without—including, it seems, education.
The debt delivers an $11.6 billion cut to Kindergarten through 12 schools. Legislators have made it clear that the cuts can’t be helped, and their assertion is undoubtedly reasonable. But the fact remains that our schools can’t afford to get any weaker. Thankfully, not all hope is lost; emergencies often lead to innovation. The Oracle has looked into three promising plans that may tide schools over until the economy swings back up. Controversial and a little unusual, these ideas have been rejected in better days—but better days are far away.
Get corporate sponsorship Taken in the context of education, the phrase “corporate sponsorship” seems a little evil. However, corporate sponsorship does not translate into indoctrinating firstgraders with the ideals of Coca Cola. Schools can receive thousands of dollars for simply naming a facility after a company: for example, a high school in Miramar, Florida received $500,000 for naming rights to its football stadium. In deals of this nature, corporations usually just ask to sign a gym wall or
a scoreboard. Frankly, that kind of advertising bounces off kids faster than public service announcements. Even the most vehement critics of in-school advertising must admit that between naming a cafeteria and cutting an art program, the lesser of the two evils is obvious.
Remove Mondays When one takes longer days into account, a four-day school week doesn’t significantly reduce the amount of time students spend in school. The plan cuts costs significantly in transportation, insurance and utilities. In particular, rural districts would see a big change: although gas costs have gone down, many schools in central California still have trouble busing their students around. As blasphemous as the four-day week may sound, it has already been implemented successfully in more than 100 counties nationwide. In one example, Kentucky’s Webster County, saved $300,000 in five years—that kind of money could send a student to the most expensive university in the nation for nearly eight years. What’s more, the very same county saw its standardized test scores shoot up since it switched to a four-day week: it has climbed from 111th to 53rd in the state. Although a shortened week isn’t recommended for districts that are getting by, it may help struggling districts teach more efficiently while saving money at the same time.
Legalize marijuana The classic teen cause is finally gaining popularity—as a method to bring new money into the state, that is. Assemblyman Tom Ammiano has introduced AB 390, a measure to legalize and tax marijuana. In simple terms, Ammiano wants the state to treat marijuana like alcohol. If AB 390 were to pass, anyone over the age of 21 would be able to purchase marijuana from licensed vendors. More importantly, though, heavy taxation would result in muchneeded revenue. California’s marijuana crop is estimated to be worth $14 billion; in other words, it’s worth $8.3 billion more than California’s famed vegetable industry. Accordingly, marijuana taxation would add upward of $1 billion to the state’s revenue. Most people are
familiar with the classic pro and con arguments pertaining to this topic, but some people still wonder if it’s immoral to fund schools with pot money. The answer is simple: no, not really. Hard liquor money, cigarette money and lottery ticket money already goes into education. Whether or not one believes that marijuana is worse than all those things, it’s safe to say that students generally don’t know or care where the money for their desks is coming from. Upon first glance, these solutions all sound a little bizarre. But if one shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, one shouldn’t judge a plan by its title, either. —Unsigned editorials represent the majority opinion of the staff (assenting: 31; dissenting: 8)
Juiced up players should stay in record books Noah Johnson Labeled the best player in the game throughout his career, Yankees player Alex Rodríguez was hailed as the legitimate heir to the home run crown, the only one who could break Hank Aaron’s record without cheating. His image was not perfect (just Google “Madonna”), but his work ethic and talent were unquestioned. After a revealing Sports Illustrated article and an emotional admission, his road to baseball immortality, which includes the all-time home run record and potential induction into the Hall of Fame, has been tarnished forever. This is by no means the first scandal involving performance enhancing drugs, however. Many stars including Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Mark McGwire have also been caught in the whirlwind of steroid injections and accusations. As more and more evidence concerning performance enhancing drugs becomes available, baseball experts are informally calling the 10 years between 1995 and 2005 the Steroid Era. Beyond the discussion of how to reduce the use of steroids
in baseball, the most pressing issue is how be freed from suspicion. Major League to interpret statistics from that era. Some Baseball, along with the help of Congress, claim that any records achieved during should continue to investigate past steroid that time should become void, and play- use and gather as much evidence as posers suspected of steroid use should not be sible to distinguish between players who considered for the Hall of Fame. Indid and did not stead of throwing away records and use steroids. leaving legendary players on the With that indoorstep of the Hall of Fame, formation, it however, we need to will be possible view their careers to induct players in the context suspected of of their era drug use, and still recbut with ognize them a special for their message achieveon their ments. plaque in the According Hall. In addito Jose Canseco’s tion, all records tell-all book on perforshould include the mance enhancing drugs, dreaded asterisk symJuiced, roughly 85 percent bol, to signify that the of players used an illegal substance record holder used performance to enhance their playing ability during enhancing drugs. If there is unthe Steroid Era. While there is no recertainty whether or not a player cord of this many players “juicing used performance enhancing up,” there is evidence that at least drugs, the induction should 104, or about 8 percent of total be blocked until the player Kimberly Han players, failed a drug test adminis proven innocent. istered by Major League Baseball When we judge players in 2003. It is essential that the other names based on their talent, it is easy to rank and from that test be revealed along with Alex subsequently name the best in the game. Rodríguez’s, so that innocent players can Some argue that the addition of steroids
in the mix creates a certain gray area between talent and success. However, this is not true for all players. Consider the case of A-Rod. One of his best statistical seasons came in 2002, when he belted 57 home runs and drove in 142 runs. His next best season, 2007, included 54 home runs and a career-best 156 runs batted in. Even though Rodríguez has allegedly been clean since 2003, he put up similar numbers four years later. As arguably the best player of his generation, Rodríguez deserves a spot in record books and in the Hall of Fame, with a note that states the extent of his drug use. As for the current and future superstars involved in the scandal, the message remains the same: if you choose to cheat, your career will be forever tainted. This, however, does not mean we have the right to erase their statistics. Until recently, the line between legal and illegal substances was unclear. While there is no excuse for knowingly crossing the line, we cannot hand out life excommunications as we did to Pete Rose. The talented players will be recognized, and the many kids who emulate their every move will learn how cheating and cutting corners degrades your accomplishments. There is no need to delete the Steroid Era from baseball history. —Johnson, a senior, is a Managing Editor.
ed to co d e e n rapy lacks prom e n ntr h t e n o e i ise G t ol a l b s i g e L
to support her family, Suleman said that she planned to go back to school. If she is using food stamps, where will she find the money to pay for school? The burden will fall unfairly on taxpayers. America needs new legislation to protect its citizens from having to support irresponsibly conceived children. It is expected that the octuplets will rack up over a million dollars in hospital bills, most of which will come out of taxpayers’ pockets. Suleman is partially to blame, but there is no legislation preventing mothers from having multiple births or children that they cannot provide for. The doctor who implanted the embryos is not facing any disciplinary action from the medical board, which sends the message that his actions were justifiable. Unlike accidental births, in-vitro fertilization is a conscious decision. However, the majority of the burden created by these children falls on taxpayers; legislators must make sure that ordinary Americans do not have to pay for children they didn’t bring into the world. —Raju, a sophomore, is a reporter.
—Zhang, a senior, is a Managing Editor.
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Pig parts may save lives
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Biology has made long strides recently; scientists have sequenced the human genome, and President Barack Obama has finally approved funding for stem cell research. Yet, another sector of molecular biology, gene therapy, remains a cloudy concept. Although it may appear promising, gene therapy is in reality a risky, unnatural technique that, taken to its extreme, poses severe ethical concerns. The Food and Drug Administration has not yet approved the procedure for sale, and for good reason: gene therapy is in its early stages, and society should not rush to approve or demand it without first considering all of its implications. Gene therapy is a procedure to correct defective genes that are responsible for disease. Aå “normal” gene is inserted into the patient’s genome to replace an “abnormal” disease-causing gene using a carrier molecule, usually a geneticallymodified virus. If benevolent gene-carrying viruses seem too good to be true, that’s because they are. Gene therapy has not shown much success in clinical trials since the first attempt began in 1990. In 1999, gene therapy reached a low when 18-yearold Jesse Gelsinger died from multiple organ failure four days after starting his treatment. Other complications have arisen, and gene therapy’s success rate is at a low 12 percent. The primary reason for the adverse effects is the human immune response to the foreign gene, which can lead to organ shutdown. The viral vector may also induce toxicity, and even replicate within the patient, turning from savior to disease. What we should fear above all in evaluating gene therapy, however, is not death from complications; rather, we should fear preventable death. Prospective patients must be wary of the overall infancy of the procedure in order to make the most informed decision. But with the general conviction towards science nowadays, this scenario is not always the case. Consider the startling implications of gene therapy. In addition to unnecessary death, if approved without sufficient assessment and regulations, gene therapy has the potential to stretch widely-held morals thin. It is essentially the act of humans playing God—directly altering another person’s genes. What will we consider as a “disability,” and who will decide? Gene therapy’s best intentions could actually create a less tolerant society. Therapy can cost $100,000 in the first year—who will have access, and how will he afford it? What if people wish to use gene therapy to create intelligence, beauty or even custom-designed babies? More broadly, manufacturing “perfect” genes and injecting them into the population would create a more homogeneous gene pool, eliminating the advantages of a diverse genome. Clearly, we have too many issues to resolve before we can fully accept gene therapy today. The National Institute of Health has spent $4 billion on gene therapy research since 1990, to no definite avail. But rather than ending all funding, research should continue, as there have been some successes. More importantly though, is that we should not rely on or hope for too much from gene therapy—at least not yet. We must fund the research of disease prevention and therapeutic treatments much more heavily than gene therapy. After all, the greatest progress in health in human history has been made in the discovery of preventive measures, such as in vaccination, sanitation and clean water and food. Mankind has dramatically improved its well-being in the last centuries without ever directly toying with genes. Thus, gene therapy should always be secondary to preventive measures, and never the go-to, de facto procedure. Science is remarkable, but man is flawed. Gene therapy could eventually cure diseases, but we are impulsive—at times too desperate for solutions—and capable of moral shortcoming. We should not rashly endorse gene therapy, and potential patients must not impulsively order the treatment. Sherwin B. Nuland, a professor of surgery at Yale, wrote in his compelling essay, Narcissus Looks Into the Laboratory: “The kind of child our society resembles just now is one whose intelligence far exceeds his maturity…[We] should at least pause briefly to think about [science’s] motivations for plunging forward without the due consideration of the range of possibilities.” On the delicate edge of gene therapy, we need to strike a careful balance between putting faith in it prematurely and ending its research outright.
The birth of the Suleman octuplets on Jan. 26 has become one of the most controversial multiple births to date. Nadya Suleman, already a single mother of six, gave birth to eight babies that she could not support. Congress needs to pass stricter legislation regulating in-vitro fertilization to protect taxpayers and families alike. Last year, doctors irresponsibly implanted six embryos into Suleman. At the time, she was receiving over $2,900 monthly in federal and state assistance and living with her parents, whose home was facing foreclosure. Even though doctors warned Suleman that having more than two kids at a time at her age would jeopardize her health, she negligently denied to get rid of some of the existing embryos. Had she died, she would have left her six other children without a mother. When asked how she was going
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Playing God may have drastic consequences
Imagine you need a life saving transplant such as a heart or a liver. Your name has been put on a list behind tens of thousands of other patients in need of the same transplant as you. Xenotransplantation, or the transplantation of nonhuman tissues, organs or fluids, is still a vague study. It is, however, one that could very well save your life in the near future. According to Golden State Donor Services (GSDS), an average of 18 Americans die every day while waiting for organ transplant. Scientists are motivated by the idea that they can create a product that could reduce or diminish the waiting list for organs and tissues. Some are hesitant to accept xenotransplantation because many are fearful of its result due to the lack of favorable outcome the study has produced so far. Transplants are often rejected quickly due to immune responses and xenosis (the transmission of diseases between species). These are, in essence, overexaggerations. Doctors treat xenotransplantation with extreme caution; they carefully assess the situation before taking action. When a patient is used as a test subject,
he is on their last leg of survival and has agreed to the procedure. At the moment, scientists are experimenting with pigs as the top contenders for organ donors. They are focusing efforts on genetically engineering pig organs to better suit humans, and to minimize potential xenosis. In light of all these barriers, xenotransplantation is an promising concept with great a great capacity to save lives. Risk assessment is based upon the principle that the potential damage of xenotransplantation must be outweighed by its potential benefits. There is minimal harm in experimentation to further our understanding in the field at this present time. Even if the success rate is high enough one day that it can be administered to the general public, xenotransplantation is not for everyone. Factors such as religion and individual mindset are important things to consider. Each patient is different and with that comes a different treatment. Xenotransplantation is something that patients should discuss with their doctor if it becomes an option. Many would agree, however, that having that choice provides more options for the patient. The fact of the matter is that there will never be enough organ donors, and not all human to human transplants are accepted. Xenotransplantation is just one of the fields of study that needs to be pursued to ensure that doctors and patients have that option in the time of need. —Chen, a sophomore, is a reporter.
Media hypes up Phelps drama
Monday, March 6, 2009
Anti-drug education up to parents, not Olympic athletes
Jocelyn Ma The papparazzi recently leaked a defamatory photo of champion Michael Phelps, winner of eight gold medals in the 2008 Bejing Olympics. The photo showed the swimmer holding a marijuana bong. He’s now been pulled from major advertising partnerships, including Kellogg and Wrigley’s. The hubbub has led to hundreds of articles, front-page photos and countless newscasts. But one question still lingers that the media hasn’t answered—what is the big deal? One of the most common responses to this question is the role aspect model. Johnny is a little boy who loves swimming, and his role model is—of course— the one-and-only Michael Phelps. The whole situation is often condemned because “the kids who look up to him!” But when Michael Phelps trains for hours a day, he trains to become an Olympic swimmer, not an Olympic babysitter. It is the parents’ responsibility to make sure that their kids don’t smoke an illegal substance. The scandal has also brought the issue of drug use back into the limelight. It would
be understandable if Phelps used steroids nose—flaunt around in shiny pants and vie or another illegal substance to give him an for the main role in her high school play. advantage, but pot, if anything, The Kellogg brand dropped Phelps would only be a detriment to as an iconic simple on their snack his performance—and the boxes when news broke out that guy still won eight medhe had been smoking pot. While als. Perhaps instead of the media took advantage of the focusing hours on reportscandal, no one should blame ing how Phelps used a Kellogg for taking his bong, we should be worface off all the rying about the health products: the of millions of Americans company who eat our chemicaldoes not infested meat everyday. want No matter how somemany people are proo n e testing, marijuana is taintstill illegal. In no way ing their should committing illegal sales. crimes be dismissed or Y e t praised, but the Phelps’ many of case was truly blown Phelps’ enout of proportion. Tons dorsements of musicians and actors were also taken Brian Phan have at one point been to away, an act that rehabilitation for drugs or was unnecessary and alcohol abuse, but that doesn’t uncalled for. As long mean we cover our kids’ ears when as the Olympic swimmer the song comes on the radio. Confessions of is still competing and performing a Teenage Drama Queen opened up with a as one of the best athletes in the world, week worth $9 million, which means hun- his endorsements should keep his athdreds of little girls piled into movie theaters letic life separate from his personal life. to watch actress Lindsay Lohan—recently —Ma, a senior, is a News Editor. photographed with cocaine clinging to her
Merit pay justly cultivates teacher quality Bauer Wann Merit pay—the idea is not exactly popular, but nevertheless, it is one that needs to be addressed. In a 2007 report coordinated by the Stanford institute for Research on Education Policy and Practice, California’s K-12 school finance and governing system was described as “irrational,” “fundamentally flawed” and in need of major reform. The report points out that California K-12 system is lagging behind other states in terms of both student achievements and data analysis of student progress and teacher performances. Furthermore, the report directly criticizes the current salary system—which pays teachers based on seniority and levels of education—for its inability to weed out bad teachers and attract good ones. One of the possible solutions is straightforward and already widely used: merit pay. The goal of the merit pay system is to not only boost student performance and achievements, but to offer teachers opportunities for increased pay. Already widely practiced in Asia, the United Kingdom and private schools, the merit pay system is now gaining momentum in United States public schools. President Barack Obama has already announced his support of the merit pay system in his 2007 campaign. The very first school system to experiment with merit pay in America was the Cincinnati public school system. In 1999, Cincinnati ran a ten-school pilot program which utilized peer and administration evaluations on class preparation and presentation clarity, and with these evaluations teachers were placed into five salary
categories. Although originally faced with begrudging consent from the teacher union, the success of the pilot convinced the union members to adopt the program in 2000. Denver, Colorado has taken a more controversial approach to merit pay, and directly links student scores to the teachers’ salaries. The principals and teachers make an agreement in the beginning of the year for student score achievements, and determine at the end of the year if the goals are met. Of course, linking test scores to salaries provokes many protests and arguments. In an effort to placate some of the issues, lawmakers developed less radical programs. Austin, Texas’s program rewards all teachers for school-wide gains in test scores; and the state of Iowa gives bonuses to all teachers in schools where students do well on standardized tests, with the biggest bonuses going to the school’s top rated teachers. These programs’ rules will then diminish the competition within teachers and increase collaboration since by helping others improve performance they actually help themselves too. The implementation of merit pay will require trial and error, and it is not something that can be done overnight, especially in busier and more complex cities such as New York and Los Angeles, where opposition is the greatest. However, the success stories, including that of the Vaughn
Next Century Learning Center, which, after implementing merit pay, went from a failing school to an awarding winning one, prove the “merit” of merit pay. Interestingly enough, some of the biggest arguments against merit pay have all been argued before, in the 1980s. In the 1980s, international competition was undermining U.S. businesses and corporations, and in an effort to stay competitive, the merit pay system was enacted. The new rules include awarding employees based costumer service reviews, supervisor evaluations and group achievements, things that may seem “subjective” or “hard to measure,” the same criticisms thrown at merit system today. Bombarded by criticism and assaulted by the unions, the system nevertheless proved to be successful. After trial Dan Buckner and error, half of all major American used similar merit pay incentives by the mid-1990s. The fact is, these incentive programs encouraged the workers to work hard and overcome challenges, and similar programs could do the same for America’s teachers. K-12 public schools should strive for the brightest, most capable educators—not the ones who have simply been around for the longest amount of time. Or should the U.S. not react to the growing international competition in education and just sit out on the race to educational progress? The answer is no. —Wann, a senior, is a reporter.
Danielle Edelman To All Esteemed Boards of Admission, We have received your decision in regards to our academic futures and wish to thank you for your consideration of our applications. However, we regret to inform you that we are unable to accept your rejections at this time. March is a busy year for all of us at Gunn High School, and the volume of rejection letters received by seniors puts immense strain on our emotions as we try to cope with the limited space we have for feelings of loss and unworthiness. Fortunately, there are openings available on the Rejection Wall that we hope can accommodate your letters. Although you may think that the Rejection Wall is second rate compared to “rejection acceptance,” it is actually a wonderful alternative with a rich history. The Wall is a tradition for high school seniors across the country that helps us cope with the emotional turmoil of college rejection. While you may not realize it, your quintessential phrase, “We regret to inform you…,” packs quite a wallop and often leaves seniors feeling shocked and depressed. By taking a public place on the Rejection Wall, your rejections will help seniors work past these negative feelings by showing that no one is alone with college rejection. Publicly displayed in all their depressing glory, your letters simultaneously stimulate a mental group hug, a sense of defiance and a reality check. With each punch of the stapler, another rejected senior comes away feeling a sense of camaraderie and liberation. While the Rejection Wall is mostly reserved for genuine rejection letters, several spaces are set aside every year for prank rejections submitted by students. Don’t worry, though; these jokes are in no way meant to take away from the gravity of your rejections. Letters from institutions ranging from the Jedi Academy to Hogwarts, serve to break up the sad aura that is an unfortunate by-product of your letters. Seeing these small jokes amid a collage of real rejections lightens the air and allows seniors to maintain a positive attitude that doesn’t involve schadenfreude. Again, we deeply regret that we cannot accept your rejections. We understand (or at least hope) that you took into consideration the blood, sweat, tears and hours that went into crafting our applications. We hope that your rejections’ place on our Rejection Wall is some consolation for the expense it took to send them. Good luck with your careers. Sincerely, The Gunn High School Class of ‘09 —Edelman, a senior, is an Entertainment Editor.
Forum 10 Corn subsidies quietly ruin health, nation The Oracle
Veronica Polivanaya As the age-old saying goes, you are what you eat. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that the high amounts of corn in our diets have turned us into live, walking corn chips. Although that may be a slight exaggeration, it is not far from the truth—when scientists tested one person’s strand of hair, 69 percent of the carbon came from corn. The government should gradually cut down on corn subsidies, as the high intake of corn in our diets has led to dramatic increases in obesity and diabetes. The United States is, by far, the largest corn producer in the world, producing around 80 million acres a year on average. Corn production has fluctuated throughout the years, but has mostly been on the rise. The reason for the high production of corn is that the crop is practically everywhere—it is fairly easy to grow and responds well to fertilizer. The government subsidizes corn in order to make it very cheap for farmers to produce, which in turn motivates them to produce more and more of it, despite the fact that they still end up making the same amount of money. Because farmers generate an absurd amount of corn, the crop ends up being used not only as a high-fructose sweetener, but also in ordinary objects, such as tires, paint
and cosmetics. Because the govern- correlation, but it would not be much ment subsidizes corn, it, in turn, of a stretch to say that the two are, in ends up using corn as an ingredient fact, related. The average person conin practically everything simply to sumes 12 teaspoons of highget rid of it. fructose Corn may appear to be a rather c o r n random additive in some things, but it is the primary ingredient for high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS). Although HFCS is found in nearly everything, it is a rather detrimental component. HFCS is developed through an intricate process that transforms corn starch into a thick, clear liquid, which is not only sweeter, but also less digestsyrup daiible than sugar. It goes directly ly, which may to the liver when consumed, not seem too releasing enzymes that prompt detrimental the body to store fat, which may to our health, elevate cholesterol levels. Unlike but does acsugar, it also does not stimulate incumulate sulin production in the body, which over time. In takes away the sense of feeling full a recent reand leads to overeating. port pubManufacturers started substilished by tuting high-fructose corn syrup Minneapfor sugar in the 1970s, putting olis-based it in products such as Coca-Cola, nonprofit pizza, candy, beer—you name it and Institute for high-fructose corn syrup is most Nathan Toung Agriculture likely an ingredient. The reasoning and Trade Polbehind the switch is that HFCS is icy, 17 out of 55 cheaper and easier for manufactur- tested HFCS samples contained deers to use, seeing as how it’s easy to tectable levels of mercury. Mercury transport in tanker trucks and isn’t is sometimes used in order to make as susceptible to freezer burn. Ever caustic soda, which is a major comsince the switch to HFCS, the con- ponent of HFCS. Although it may sumption of corn went up by 1000 not seem too startling of a statistic, percent and the obesity rate doubled. mercury is toxic in any form, and Causation does not always imply may lead to mercury poisoning, as
well as death. A large portion of the corn supply is also used up by the beef industry. Although we may be content with the corn-fed beef that we purchase, it is, in reality, detrimental to our health thanks to the highly flawed methods of the concentrated animal-feeding operations. Cattle traditionally have diets that are composed of grass, but that not only requires large areas of open space, but also takes too long to bring the cattle to a slaughter weight. Manufacturers have hit two birds with one stone by switching to a corn-based diet—the cattle gain a large amount of weight in a shorter time, and can be kept in small storage areas, enabling more cattle to fit. Since cows are not meant to eat corn, they have to be pumped with antibiotics in order for it to agree with their digestive system. The corn also acidifies their digestive system, allowing for E.coli 0157 to thrive. Human consumption of E.coli leads to a destruction of the intestinal wall and can be fatal—an estimated 600 people die from it each year. Those cows, in turn, end up in high calorie, low-nutrition fast foods, which do nothing but contribute to obesity and diabetes. Sure, implementing corn into the beef industry may be a quicker and cheaper method of going about things, but we’re compromising our health in doing so. Sure, the government subsidizes corn in order to make it very cheap, but if you take a look at what goes into the corn-growing process, is it really as cheap as the government
makes it out to be? For one, corn requires an immense amount of fossil fuel. It also requires far more pesticides and fertilizers than do any other crops. To top it off, half a gallon of gasoline is used up each time a bushel of corn is grown, which does little to conserve our oil supply. Producing more and more corn each year simply ups the expenses needed to produce the crop in the first place. Although the cons of subsidizing corn are evident, we cannot simply pull it out of the system completely. Bringing back the good grass days may sound like a promising solution for the beef industry, but it is easier said than done—meat supply would not meet demand, and millions would be put out of work. We can, however, incorporate grass back into their diets gradually—still a risk, but one with a lot less far-reaching consequences. Grass-fed beef is not only higher in omega-3 acids, also known as “good fat,” but also contains less saturated fat. Adding grass to the beef industry would benefit our health without impairing the business greatly. Another solution could involve placing a high tax on HFCS, which would discourage manufacturers from using the substance to begin with. HFCS is banned in Great Britain, and will soon be banned in Europe—the United States should folow suit. Americans may be fixated on corn, but like any other addict— we’re in dire need of rehab. —Polivanaya, a senior, is an Entertainment Editor.
Recent elections bring biased media tactics into public eye News sources use bad judgement, distorted statistics and gossip to skew public opinion
Dana Li In the midst of such historic political events, it is easy for us to overlook some of the current shortcomings of our media system. We’ve seen the Saturday Night Live skits and heard the hype, but with our ground-breaking presidency, we may be letting our news system get away with more than responsible journalists should. The concept of media objectivity is not a new one, but what with the standards of recent reporting and the importance of clarity in evaluating a new and critical presidency, we now depend on our media to be more dependable than ever. The most pertinent and recent examples of biased journalism can be drawn from the recent election. The 2008 election was many things, heated and historic, but one thing it was not was impartially and critically reported. In fact, the issue of partisan media was so pervasive that even the candidates themselves referred to it. In the case of former Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin, the skewed reports of the “liberal media” were to be used as a major argument against her opponents. What Palin failed to mention, however, was that American media was impartial towards both sides of the political fence. Reports conducted by reputable organizations to evaluate the leanings of major networks
revealed that political biases are, in fact, quantifiable. By counting the number of positive and negative comments mentioned outside of objective poll data, the Center for Media and Public Affairs found that ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts showed varying levels of Democratic affiliation. The average came to around 65 percent of comments being pro-President Barack Obama and 31 percent pro-presidential candidate John McCain. Fox’s “Special Report” on the other hand, though showing more even numbers, was just more critical all around, summing up to 39 percent pro-McCain and 28 percent pro-Obama with the rest of the comments largely negative. Just as important as what the American audience sees is what they don’t. The media holds an equal amount of power in what it withholds as what it puts to print. An older study conducted during a previous election by Tim Groeling of University of California Los Angeles was also able to measure how much news stations chose to show and how much to withhold by evaluating two statistics: presidential polling conducted by CBS, NBS and ABC, and how often the networks’ then broadcasted the results. What Groeling discovered presaged later findings: CBS, NBC and ABC were democratically inclined and were more likely to report rises in Democratic polls than falls. Fox, on the other hand, was much more likely to report rises in the Republican popularity polls. If these discoveries of clear partisanship from our major news stations are not shocking for most Americans, it is only because we forget the power of our media. We underestimate the information networks’ ability to
shape our opinions. In the past, the influence of journalism has been manipulated to stir sentiment and even ignited major world conflicts. Now, more than ever, as the expansion of technology facilitates quick and pervasive communication, the journalistic system must be held accountable to a higher standard of excellence. Another major problem, even a contributor to biased printing, is the media’s loss of focus. For matters as important as the selection of the next president, it is critical that news stations examine the most important part of politics: the policies. In an unprecedented inundation of media attention that represents the power of our modern information era, every step of this election, and every aspect of both candidates was narrated and communicated for public judgment. People were fascinated, and deeply invested, in a presidential race that was historic not only for its candidates, but for the dire economic times in which it took place, and the beast of the American media was more than happy to meet the interest. In its oversupply, however, some media, especially those articles and comedic programs which examined the candidates’ characters and personal lives, were driven to superfluous and increasingly inflammatory proportions. Rather than providing the vital forum for discussion of the candidates’ national plans, much of this election’s focus lay in critiques of their characters. On both sides, particularly in the cases of Palin and Obama, the news focused largely on their personal lives and ad hominem, or character, attacks, scrutinizing the smallest statements and extrapolating them into measurements of character.
A standard amount of personality judgment is expected, even necessary, in the election. Free speech allows our media to uncover for the public the reality of the politicians that we elect so that we may exercise our democratic powers in an educated manner. But when entire news stations are labeled as partisan and fact-based revelations are extorted and reported to distortion, then the media crosses the line from public responsibility into the realm of self-interested gossip. It is clear that the media is not immune to using scandalous personal stories to fuel reader interest and fan public frenzy. During the election, the reporting of character attacks such as the Muslim theories had more effect on the polls than the candidates’ own speeches. Because the American media holds such sway over public opinion, it is all the more necessary that it mitigates its power with responsibility, cuts its printing of ad hominem attacks and focuses its attention on critically reporting the politicians actually policies. Now, more than ever, as we have elected an historic, improbable president who faces some of the most vital economic and military decisions of our times, our nation must learn to dismiss celebrity and evaluate our national leader with clarity. The American media, like any great sociopolitical force, must learn to strike the delicate balance between expository journalism and inflammatory reporting. If nothing else, the 2008 election should stand as a cautionary example and shape the way we debate and assess the actions of our newest president. —Li, a senior, is a reporter.
Monday, March 16, 2009
Emily Glider Approximately 35,000 Americans lost their jobs today. They will join 2.6 million others who lost their jobs in 2008, the highest unemployment number since World War II. Twenty-eight million people, an all-time high, applied for food stamps and over four million homes were repossessed. A recession is a fluid problem; ever-changing and ever-expanding. Acting with caution while allowing the problem to spread could inevitably cost more than taking firm measures now. The stimulus package is a major investment in the United States economy. But that’s just what it is—an investment—and a necessary one to maintain our standard of living internally and ability to compete internationally. The bill is expensive, but so is a recession. When businesses fail, productivity is lost, which severely impairs the ability of the United States to compete internationally. While other economies have been damaged by the “credit crunch,” America’s economy has plunged disproportionately. Already the value of the dollar has declined in regards to the euro, the yen and the yuan. In fact, it would be challenging to find a currency against which the dollar has failed to sink, with perhaps the exception of the Bahraini dinar, to which the dollar has stayed approximately equivalent. During times of inflation, the government relies on borrowing and lending with other nations to keep schools, hospitals and roadways operational. During tough economic times, the public resists tax increases and relies more on social services, leading us to borrow. Currently, The U.S. is in $10 trillion of debt. The dollar becoming a “bad investment” could have dire consequences. One absolute necessity in recovering the economy is providing temporary jobs for those out of work. The bill will do this by investing $150 billion in public-works projects, largely consisting of construction and public transportation undertakings, which offer both immediate job creation and better infrastructure. It is true that these projects are not long-term solutions; construction jobs are not intended to last more than a few years at most. But even this may be adequate to get Americans back to work and to aid the stock market.
People with jobs have more money to spend and increased consumer spending allows the stock market to grow. Most modern companies rely on stocks to make investments, and corporate growth will be one of the key factors that will eventually turn around the current recession. The bill has its share of immediate “perks” as well. $168 billion will go to providing tax cuts. These cuts would be targeted at those hit hardest by the recession, $600 for individuals and $1,200 for families with limited incomes. Temporary aid now may allow people out of work to avoid the downward spirals that cost taxpayers more in the end. A family that loses shelter will likely rely on federal food and shelter programs to survive. The children may end up in foster care. A person who cannot afford medical care may let a condition become serious or go to an emergency room funded largely by taxpayers. Even a small “buffer” for individuals now may cut costs in the long run. Finally, the bill has called for $150 billion to be invested in education, from improving public schools to aiding struggling student-lending corporations. This also insures our economic future; higher education is now essen-
tial to the U.S. economy. As manufacturing and agriculture have become gradually weaker throughout our national history, technological innovation and capital investment have played increasing roles in our economy. Outsourcing has “specialized” the U.S. economy further, driving production forces out of the country. Without strong higher education, we have much less to offer the world as a nation, and we could pay for this politically and financially. The stimulus package has its weaknesses. No doubt money will be mislaid in the process of implementing it. No doubt some of the rapid changes in the economy will undercut its intentions. This fact, however, does not undermine the necessity for action. What Congress has passed and President Obama has signed is an excellent plan, and truly represents the best chance we have to recover from the tragedy of our current situation.
—Emily Glider, a junior, is a Copy Editor.
Stimulus plan could kickstart or collapse Eugenah Chou Why exactly is America in so much debt? Most importantly, what can be done about it? Throwing more money into the economy and expecting it to flourish is not the solution. Although it is difficult to argue with a plan that has already been passed, I have to side with Nobel Prize Laureates Robert Lucas, Edward Prescott and approximately 200 other published economists who are against the stimulus package on this one. While a stimulus package may work for the time being to relieve families and businesses hurt by the recession, a short-term solution like more government spending provides may actually do additional
harm to the issue as a whole. Every dollar of the $788 billion package will be borrowed. When that money has been used, and the reprieve it has provided has terminated, it will only have pushed the problem to another day, and increased the debt, a number that is already in the trillions. President Barack Obama mandated that all construction projects affected by the stimulus package must use iron and steel from the United States. Already, this clause has produced a negative global response. The goal of preserving U.S. jobs will be achieved, however, cutting off the trade of goods with foreign countries will hurt world trade, and therefore disrupt the economy globally. “[The clause] is neither the right or effective response to the situation,” said European ambassador John Bruton, upon hearing of Obama’s economic plans. Europe is even threatening to initiate a trade war.
While a large stimulus package can bring some hope, it is only symbolism in a time when people want action. It is true that America was built on the concept of dreaming, but enough is enough. The plan’s provision to cut down costs for laid-off worker’s health insurance sounded great when first proposed, but now, due to ambiguity and the lack of a direct plan to bring this benefit to action, it will be weeks or even months before so-called beneficiaries can reap the profit. Experts estimate 7 million people will seek a share of the stimulus package to pay off health care. Asking them to wait, in a time when jobs are scarce and stability is nonexistent, may be an economic death sentence. In the end, the price slash that actually does happen may be too little too late. Although there is talk about repaying the needy in the future, that does nothing to help right now, when people need the money most. Improvement will not come from supplementary government spending, or from extreme tax cuts that further limit government ability to create lasting reforms. Instead, the government must look back upon history to other crises even graver than our current one, such as the Great Depression, and imitate the recovery methods used then. Why are there so many unemployed at a time when a boost in commerce is necessary? What can be done to remove obstacles in front of work and production? These are the questions that the U.S. government must answer. The words “economy,” “change” and “soon,” are slipping out of people’s mouths all across the nation. What, exactly, is wrong with “right now”? It’s understood and accounted for that a practical solution takes time, but the difficulty should not be pushed to another day. The problem is not only grounded in the high unemployment rate and mounting debt, it is found in the fact that we’re trying to treat the debt by borrowing even more money while ignoring enduring reactions. Perhaps the answer is putting an end to outsourcing, a growing trend that is costing an exponential number of Americans their jobs. Or maybe its switching up foreign policy and focusing more of our time and effort on our own troubles. The one thing that is sure is that more government spending is the wrong way to go.
—Eugenah Chou, a sophomore, is a reporter.
America’s economic recession harbors unforeseen benefits Jon Proctor The economic crisis has tipped Americans off balance. As the stock market reaches new lows, cataracts of debt and unemployment threaten to sink the American spirit. Rather than drowning in the hardships of a recession, however, we need to step back and appreciate what good the recession has brought us. Just as a rainbow can follow a storm, economic slumps tend to bump up our physical health and environ-
mental friendliness. A look at your bank account balance may make you sick, but the good news is that when the economy catches a cold, Americans tend to get healthier. According to Christopher J. Ruhm, professor of economics at the University of North Carolina Greensboro, a one percent rise in unemployment, tell-tale of a troubled economy, leads to a 0.5 percent decline in the total death rate, a 2.4 percent decline in severe car accidents and an 8.7 percent decline in intervertebral disk disorders (back problems). These counter intuitive benefits may stem from the fact that during difficult economic times, Americans cut back on expensive
and unhealthy “luxuries” such as tobacco (which falls 0.14 percent per one percent rise in unemployment) and liquor. In addition, with less time on the job, Americans have more free time to exercise and to cook at home, which is usually healthier and less expensive than eating out. Americans are thereby able to tighten their belts as they lose jobs. According to Ruhm, for every one percent unemployment rises, the obesity rate actually drops .05 percent. As physical health improves, however, mental health often deteriorates. Stress and depression regularly follow in the wake of economic hardship, causing suicide rates to rise. That is why it is important to stay positive and
realize that, although you may be driving and eating out less because you have to, you are saving lives and feeding your family healthier meals. If you don’t look at some of the brighter points, then all you’re left with is poverty and unemployment. Yet another benefit bought by a tightfisted public is waste reduction. According to The Los Angeles Times, San Francisco is now dumping less in landfills than it has in the past 30 years. One of the nation’s largest landfills, Puente Hills east of Los Angeles, has reported a 30 percent decrease in tonnage from neighboring municipalities. Reducing waste not only saves the city desperately needed money, but it
also helps the environment. Fearful for their ever-thinning pocketbooks, Americans are purchasing only the essentials and reusing as much as they can. Since every product we buy, from diapers to duct tape, increases our nation’s carbon footprint, by reducing our consumption we are cleaning up our environment. Living in a recession is no fun. Since we’re in this mess, however, we might as well try to get the most out of it. Although we may have to carpool more and buy less, we should take pride in the fact that we’re improving the health of our family and our world. —Jon Proctor, a junior, is a Forum Editor.
How to: spring clean efficiently
1. Make a to do list To do lists are your friend; you get an astounding sense of accomplishment each time you check an item off. Just remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day, so be reasonable and don’t try to accomplish everything at once. Target trouble spots such as your closet or the space under your bed, and be specific by writing down “color coordinate shoe rack” rather than simply “clean up my room.” 2. Clean out unecessesary items Get rid of your packrat ways. Do you really need those Valentine’s Day cards from third grade? Probably not. Go through your bookshelves, closet, etc. and fish out things you could care less about—the process will free up space for more meaningful items. Don’t go on a cleaning rampage and throw everything out in haste, however, because sometimes you don’t realize what you have until it’s gone. So, think twice before throwing anything
out—you most likely will not get any use out of those fitness testing certificates in the future, but you may want to keep one around simply as a remnant of your high school days. 3. Take on easier tasks first Start small and work your way up. Sure, your garage may look like a train wreck, but that is probably not the best place to start, seeing as how a seemingly impossible task will do nothing but discourage you. Start off with a table compartment or a rack of CDs, and work your way up, because by showing yourself that you can get things done, you’ll gain the confidence to tackle bigger problems such as the garage. 4. Clean out and organize your closet. Your closet may resemble a disaster area, but have no fear—help is here. For starters, gather up all of the clothes in your room, whether they be stacked up
Students sell food for trade Alvin Man
The purpose of Fair Trade is to ensure that Third World country workers are given basic benefits such as living wages and better working conditions. The Students for Fair Trade club helps to advocate this idea by selling fair trade chocolate, coffee and tea to students, teachers and other community members. Students for Fair Trade president senior Sera Boerger started the club this year after she went on a trip to Costa Rica. “I learned about fair trade through our tour guide,” Boerger said. “He told us that fair trade provides its workers a fair wage and all their products are produced pesticide-free, which is great for the environment and us, the consumers.” The club buys its chocolates, coffee and tea from small organizations in third world countries that own factories or farms. The chocolate sold to students is considerably more expensive than chocolate bars such as Hershey’s however, the cost helps workers in Third World countries. Social studies teacher Arlyn Sharpe said that the small organizations from which Students for Fair Trade buys its products guarantee that their workers receive sustainable wages and good working conditions. “We’re trying to spread awareness of fair trade practice through coffee, chocolate and tea,” Sharpe said. However, fair trade is not just limited to chocolate, coffee or tea
on the back of your chair or piled up on the floor, and put everything together into one big pile. Then, go through the pile and group everything accordingly— shirts with shirts, pants along with other pants, etc. You can rearrange the piles with as much detail as you’d like. For instance, you can separate long-sleeved shirts from short-sleeved ones, and capris from jeans. After separating the piles, store the clothes into your closet in their assorted groups, either by hanging them up or putting them in your dresser, and you may even go as far as to color coordinate the. Cleaning up your closet will not only enable you to see your floor again, but also save you time getting ready in the morning, as you will know exactly where everything is.
Graphic by Brian Phan
—Compiled by Veronica Polivanaya
Art Piece of the Month TO: Favorite photographers or collections? LC: Recently I stumbled onto an amazing collection of the best photos from the competition for wildlife photographer of the year. There were several amazing photos, like the two eagles fighting in the snow and the frog and snake in a deadlock. Search for “wildlife photographer of 2008,” and make sure you look in every gallery! A few of my favorite photographers are Art Wolfe, Frans Lanting and Steve Bloom.
Courtesy of Monica Chu
Students sign up for Fair Trade at club sign-up day.
but rather all goods that are marked as fair trade. “Fair Trade guarantees that their products are socially and environmentally just,” Boerger said. Students for Fair Trade sold its first products to adults as a test. Because many parents and teachers asked for more, the club decided to sell its products to students. In February, Students for Fair Trade decided to focus on students by selling chocolate. “On Club Day, we sold $80 to $100 of chocolate bars,” Boerger said. Yet, the club is only allowed to sell chocolates to students and teachers after school due to school district rules. The chocolate bars are offered at the Student Activities Center after school. “The chocolate bars are extremely good,” Sharpe said. “The bars are rated extremely high compared to other gourmet chocolates.”
with junior artist Leo Chen The Oracle: What is the name of the photography piece? LC: I don’t really have a name [for it], just call it Blue I guess. TO: What is the technique used in the photo? LC: I’m not sure what genre this falls under... The set up was pretty simple. I lit a stick on incense in an almost completely dark room. The backdrop was a large sheet of black cloth. I put two flashes on the left and right side of the incense. The hardest part was trying to get the smoke in focus. It’s pretty hard to see smoke when the room is almost pitch black. TO: Where does your inspiration come from? LC: My biggest inspiration is the natural world. Originally I started photography because I wanted to photograph wildlife, landscapes, flower, that kind of thing. But I ended up very interested in macro photography. It still relates to the natural world, just the smaller things that people pass by and don’t notice everyday. Oh, and I like to browse flickr and Deviantart a lot, there is a lot of great work there. TO: What is the purpose of the piece? LC: Just for more experience and to diversify what I’ve been doing. Lately I have been doing a lot stilllife, with flowers, fruits, stuff like that.
TO: What do you think is the relationship between photography and more traditional art such as paintings? LC: Even though the techniques differ a lot, they both have similar elements such as composition and color theory. You need to have a similar basic understanding of art elements and principles to be able to do both well. TO: How does being a photographer make you think differently? LC: Sometimes you overanalyze things, like if you are looking at something simple you might think of something really weird. TO: How can non-artists invite art into their life? LC: I guess photography is something that you don’t really need to have a lot of talent to produce results. Not that it is easy to do—but something like painting needs a lot of practice and technique. TO: Can you identify a person with an “artist’s vibe”? LC: I kind of associate people with quirky fashion style to be artistic. People express themselves through their fashion and people with quirky style are doing exactly that. TO: After graduation, do you have any plans to continue photography? LC: Photography is more of a hobby for me, it’s something I enjoy doing. Of course I will keep doing it but not professionally. Doing photography professionally is very hard. It takes a lot of skills to complete your assignments. The people hire you have very high expectations for you. Unless you can keep doing your best work you won’t be able to make a living. —Compiled by Bauer Wann
Monday, March 16, 2009
GRT competes in regional competition, wins award
(Left to right) Mitchell Mayman displays team spirit with red and black face paint; Gunn’s robot in action; quickly tuning up the bot for the competition. Danielle Aspitz & Eugenah Chou Circulation Manager & Reporter
The Gunn Robotics Team (GRT) is comprised of a group of diverse students united by a singular love for engineering and robotics. The team recently returned from regional robotics competitions in Portland, Oregon. “If you go by our alliance that we got picked on, we placed maybe 5th [in Portland],” sophomore GRT member Shreyas Parat said. The robotics competition For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) proposes a game challenge each year to high schools across the nation. After receiving the challenge, schools have six weeks to construct a robot for play. Success at regionals means a shot at the FIRST championships, an international challenge involving teams from Israel, China and other countries. This year, the objective of the game was for robots to team up in randomly assigned groups of three to try to get as many balls as possible into opposing robot’s trailers. Human players could participate on the sidelines by throwing balls into rival trailers. After finding out the game challenge during winter break, GRT spent the first few days of their building season brainstorming strategy and an action plan. “Once we got that, a group started designing specific three-dimensional diagrams on computers,” junior Neil Bhateja said. “Then all the real building could happen.” After weeks of planning, strategizing and constructing, the team arrived in Portland early on March 4 for the regional competition. “We went to all the open practice matches, and were happy to see that the robot worked every time,” senior Manyu Belani said. FIRST had decided to pay tribute to all members of the Apollo 13 mission during the competitions by creating playing fields similar to the moon’s resistance-free surface. The twist was that all robots competed on a fiberglass floor, a surface with virtually no traction. “All the robots moved a lot slower than normal,” Belani said. Qualifying matches occurred on March 5 and 6 and although GRT was unable to rank high enough to continue independently, they were picked by a top-seeded team to participate in the quarterfinals. “During quarterfinals there was a minor technical difficulty that cost us the win,” senior Tammy Hsu said. “But we have another chance at the competition at San Jose State.” GRT has been offered at Gunn for 12 years, and 10 of those
years the teams went to nationals. “[San Jose State] is probably our last competition of the year,” GRT advisor Bill Dunbar said. “If the students qualify for nationals they may decide to go, and that’s in Atlanta, Georgia.” The biggest competition for Gunn is “hands down, Bellarmin College Prep. They always win,” Dunbar said. Although GRT has a high record of winning “the competition’s getting fiercer and fiercer,” Dunbar added. Additionally, teams are competing for the coveted Chairman’s Award, an award that goes to a team involved with their community to promote math and science. “There are other awards, but I am most looking forward to the last day when we find out if we get picked in finals, and then we win, of course,” Hsu said. GRT won a special award in Oregon for robot control and automation. “The reason we won that award was because our programming in the robot is really cool,” Belani said. “And the robot is setup with a bunch of systems that are extremely programmable and unique. And for our drivers, we did something special for them this year, we gave them a heads up display. On one driver’s glasses there are a bunch of LEDs that tell them stuff about where the targets are and how close they are, and then on the other driver, he has a harmonica stain with a PSP on it, and he can look down at the screen and see through the camera that’s on our robot.” Gunn’s red hair and team rituals are said to be an aid to their success. “Before our local competition, in Silicon Valley, we usually have an all-team meeting,” Hsu said. “And then Mr. Dunbar tells us a story about Henry M. Gunn and his various jobs in his past life.“ Although Dunbar strictly denied these stories’ existence, Hsu continued to describe the tales. “This year he was a hardcore biker dude, and before that he was an ice cream truck driver, and before that he was a male stripper,” she said, describing the belief that Henry M. Gunn is watching over them and they need to make him proud. “My students have vivid imaginations,” Dunbar said. Students interested in joining GRT should sign up for the Engineering Class that meets F and G periods and fill out the team application. “By just taking the application seriously, you have a good chance of getting on the team,” Belani said. “The best thing about being part of GRT is just feeling like you are part of the team, and knowing that there are forty other kids at this school have been going through the same things as you have, that’s just an amazing feeling.”
The competition is critically judged while the robots perform on the central stage.
All photos courtesy of Jeff Han
Seniors Jeremy Brouillet and Manyu Belani observe the different machines at the regional competition.
Members of GRT traveled to Portland, OR for the FIRST qualifying regional robotics competition.
Around the edges are the twelve animals of the Chinese zodiac. In the middle circle are the horoscope signs.
Origins of THE Chinese ZODIAC The most popular interpretation of the origin of the Chinese zodiac is the legendary animal race hosted by the Jade Emperor sometime in sixth century B.C. The ranking of the 12 animals is based on the order in which they finished the race. The rat came in first by hitching a ride off the ox and jumping off its head at the last minute. The list continues, and the cat is left out due to being tricked by the rat into sleeping late and thus forever swears vengeance on rats. However, the more credible and academic explanation is that the idea of the zodiacs was born from ancient Chinese philosophies of the Twelve Earthly Branches (which provide a system for time), and the Wu Xing five elements (wood, fire, earth, metal and water). Those familiar with the western zodiacs will notice that both the eastern and western zodiac consists of 12 animals and symbols. However, the Chinese zodiac is based on the lunar year and the animal representation changes yearly, with 2009 as the year of the Ox. On the other hand, the western zodiac is based on the solar calendar and the symbols are called sun signs. In addition, the symbols change monthly instead of yearly. Each Chinese zodiac is accredited with personality traits: Rat (1984): Disciplined, charismatic. Can be manipulative and over-ambitious. Ox (1985): Dependable, logical, resolute. Can be stubborn and materialistic. Tiger (1986): Impulsive, affectionate, generous. Can be reckless and quick-tempered. Rabbit (1987): Sensitive, cautious, artistic. Can be moody, detached, superficial and lazy. Dragon (1988): Proud, passionate, ambitious. Can be arrogant, prejudiced and brash. Snake (1989): Wise, creative, purposeful. Can be loner, bad communicator and possessive. Horse (1990): Cheerful, popular, changeable, open-minded. Can be fickle, gullible and stubborn. Ram (1991): Creative, understanding, determined. Can be moody, indecisive and pessimistic. Monkey (1992): Inventor, motivator, problem solver, competitive. Can be egotistical and reckless. Rooster (1993): Acute, organized, conservative, perfectionist. Can be overzealous, abrasive and opinionated. Dog (1994): Intelligent, sense of justice and fair play, idealistic. Can be cynical, lazy and judgmental. Pig (1995): Honest, trusting, intelligent. Can be naive, over-reliant, self-indulgent and gullible.
Ancient civilization u one part imagination. A Different civilizations u meaning. A universal ap tural purposes which wer mythology gave way to W person’s disposition. Fro planets, their positions, that prevailed at the birt the time the reading is gi and time again predictio basis , horoscopes conti popular culture. It is alm were born under. For the that rule their lives and
Like the Chinese zodiac Aries: Fire; Energetic, im Taurus: Earth; Stubborn Gemini: Air; Restless, v Cancer: Water; sensitive Leo: Fire; Generous, en Virgo: Earth; Witty, sen Libra: Air; Just, artistic, Scorpio: Water; Energet Sagittarius: Fire; Impul Capricorn: Earth; Ambi Aquarius: Air; Idealistic Pisces: Water; gentle, ki
Monday, March 16, 2009
stories behind constellations It is impossible to fully sum up the beauty of the stars in words, but equally interesting is the story behind them. The most remarkable of the winter constellations have their own stories in Greek mythology. The constellation in the background of this story depicts Orion, a proud hunter who claimed there was not a single mortal being he could not call his prey. However, the Scorpion beast was angered by Orion’s frivolity and challenged him to a duel. The two fought, and Orion was killed. Scorpion was the victor. The goddess hunter Diana, who had respected Orion’s abilities as a hunter, asked Zeus to pay tribute to his prowess in the night sky. Because it was the Scorpion that killed him, the constellation of Orion rises when the constellation Scorpio sets. Eternally by his side are his two loyal hunting dogs, Canis Major and Canis Minor. Directly above Orion’s constellation are Gemini, Auriga and Taurus. Gemini is the constellation of the brothers Castor and Pollox. Castor, a mortal, was the patron God of horses, and Pollox, who was immortal, was the god of boxing. The day Castor died, Pollox begged Zeus to reunite him with his twin brother, whom he loved dearly. Zeus granted his wish, and decided that the two would be together in the sky. Auriga is said to be a man who carries a goat in one arm and a horse’s bridle in another. He symbolizes the overall Grecian love for chariots and is in the sky to celebrate the chariot’s invention. The goat, which cared for Zeus when he was a baby, is protected in Auriga’s arms. Another constellation story tells of the time when the almighty powerful Zeus fell in love with a mortal: Europa the Princess of Tyre. In order to spend time with her, he transformed himself into a white bull with golden horns. She befriended the bull Zeus, who was so gentle that she climbed onto his back. Zeus immediately carried her to Crete across the sea. As a result, the entire continent around Crete was named after her, and the likeness of a bull was put in the sky. When looking for Taurus, it is impossible to see his hindquarters, as they are submerged underwater in his eternal swim carrying Europa to Crete. The winter constellations are visible on clear evenings in the late winter months January, February and March. —Eugenah Chou
es MIX SCIENCE AND religion
Astronomy vs. Astrology
used astrology to comprehend the natural world, one part observation, Astrology falls somewhere in the realm between science and religion. used different methodologies to qualify natural phenomena and find pplication of astronomy was the development of calendars for agriculre determined by the whims of the deities that ruled the night sky. Greek Western astrology which uses the four elements to help determine a om this branch of astrology came horoscopes, an amalgamation of the the elements and the signs. Horoscopes are dependent upon the signs th of the recipient and the positions and prominences of those signs at iven. The art of reading a horoscope is often vague and imprecise; time ons made through horoscopes have failed. Despite their lack of factual nue to have a devoted following. A large percentage of this is merely most impossible to go through life without discovering the sign you e more dedicated believers, horoscopes take on religious connotations provide an entire lifestyle.
Astronomy and astrology–though they both begin with astro (Greek for “constellation” and “star”), the similarities essentially end there. “Astronomy is a scientific study of the universe, the stars and the planets and their life, death and evolution,” astronomy teacher Bakari Holmes said. “It’s a scientific discipline based on data that is used to model phenomenon. Astrology involves the same stuff–the sky, the sun and the stars–but with the belief that they affect the lives and moods of people and that they’re controlled by God or gods. It’s more spiritualistic. In both cases, you look at the stars, the sun and the moon. What differs is how these cycles are explained or accounted for.” Astrology itself is also a broad field. “Even within astrology, there are different types,” Holmes said. “The Chinese, since the early times, have been recording supernova and other celestial events, such as eclipses, and have created an astrology system for the inner, outer and superficial self. The western zodiac is a lot more general.” Historically, astrology evolved as a precursor to the development of astronomy. “In my astronomy class, I also teach about astrology and how it contributes to culture, because before telescopes were invented, humans only had the naked eye,” Holmes said. “They had no scientific explanations until the Greeks came along, so they had to come up with explanations for why the suns and the stars repeated the same cycle every 24 hours.” According to Holmes, the difference between astrology and astronomy is simple. “It’s kind of like the difference between cosmology and cosmetology,” he said. “Cosmetology focuses on a different set of stars, such as Britney Spears, while cosmology is a study of the universe and its evolution from the Big Bang to the end, which will either be the Big Crunch or the Big Tear. It’s a scientific study of the universe as a whole.” Astrologists and astronomers differ mostly in their approach in observing celestial occurrences. According to Holmes, given an event, scientists would make observations, perform experiments, do calculations and model it on a computer. “Astrologists are much more spiritual, and they have a different perspective on why the sun rises and sets each day,” he said. “They don’t necessarily contradict in my view. I’m a deeply spiritual person who believes in God but who is also a scientist. This is not a necessary contradiction in my mind. I see both sides of the coin.”
c, the different signs have different elements and personality traits: mpulsive and positive. n, dogmatic, kind-hearted and musical. versatile, clever and superficial. e, sympathetic, motherly and easily influenced. nergetic, domineering and authoritative. nsual, meticulous, painstaking, intelligent and romantic. , indolent, affectionate, sympathetic and honest. tic, passionate, jealous, mystical and proud. lsive, warm-hearted, restless, lover of nature, candid and generous. itious, perservering, tenacious, diplomatic and melancholy. c, artistic, intellectual, honest, abnormal, popular yet solitary. ind, retiring, sensitive, unlucky and melancholy.
Students finish high school career early This June, junior Ben Gardiner and sophomore John Boyle will be leaving Gunn Sophie Cheng Copy Editor
Most students expect to be in high school for four years, but junior Ben Gardiner and sophomore John Boyle will be leaving Gunn at the end of this school year. Gardiner will be graduating alongside the class of 2009, while Boyle will be pursuing other interests. Ben Gardiner Gardiner first began thinking about graduating early when Bard College at Simon’s Rock, Ben a small four-year liberal Gardiner (11) arts college in Massachusetts for sophomores and juniors graduating early from high school, sent him a college pamphlet in February. “I felt like the description in the college pamphlet really described me as a person in a nutshell,” he said. His next step was to seek advice from a variety John of sources. “My counselor Boyle (10) [Jovi Johnston] informed me that if I left Gunn after my junior year without a diploma, I would still be considered a high school dropout, even if I was going to college,” Gardiner said. Gardiner found out that he had two options
if he wanted to graduate a year early–to go to Simon’s Rock and transfer credits or to complete his high school graduation credits a year early. “I picked the second choice, because then I could also apply to other colleges,” he said. A particular aspect of Gunn’s academic atmosphere influenced Gardiner’s decision to graduate early. “The big thing for me is that, at Gunn, it’s all about grades, grades, grades,” he said. “We’re one of the top 100 high schools in the nation, so the general atmosphere is just to get the A.” According to Gardiner, this is not the type of environment he is comfortable with. “I want to learn for learning,” he said. Gardiner’s parents were reluctant to let their son leave a year early, but were still supportive of his decision. According to Gardiner’s mother, Jenny Gardiner, they wanted him to take the steps to get to college on his own. “He had to figure out the requirements, sign up for summer school, take the SAT and ACT and fill out the college [applications] all by himself,” Jenny said. However, Ben gave credit to his parents for keeping him grounded during the application process. “They made sure that I really took a lot of time to think this through before signing the forms for me, which I am really grateful for,” he said. According to Gardiner, he would only recommend that others graduate early from Gunn if they are highly motivated, earning solid grades in Advanced Placement (AP) classes and are unhappy about the Gunn atmosphere like him. “College is a lot more academically intensive,” he said. “As [one of
my teachers] likes to say, ‘College doesn’t accept late work.’” Gardiner occasionally does have second thoughts about his decision to graduate early. “I’m sacrificing my time with [my friends and family] for my education, which I think is the toughest part about this whole decision,” he said. “My early graduation is not because of any social reason, but academics has just always been and will continue to be my first priority.”
John Boyle In a similar situation, Boyle has decided to leave Gunn after the end of this school year. “Basically, I think my time would be better spent elsewhere,” Boyle said. “There are a lot of interesting things I want to do that I just can’t do if I have to spend most of my day sitting in school and the rest doing homework.” Boyle transferred from Palo Alto High School to Gunn after his freshman year and is currently taking four AP classes. He credits Principal Noreen Likins for making this transition possible for him. “Ms. Likins and I basically sat down and talked about all the possibilities,” Boyle said. “She was very willing to work with me.” Boyle will be taking the California High School Proficiency Examination in order for him to leave school early. Even if Boyle decides to apply for college later, he does not think his chances of being accepted will be hurt. “I believe that I have other qualifications that will compensate for my lack of a complete high school transcript,” Boyle said. “I have a history of doing kind of well in math competitions. My most impres-
sive single result is that, last year, I was one of 60 people in the United States to qualify for [the Math Olympiad Program], the summer camp that comes after [the United States of American Math Olympiad].” Julie Boyle, John’s 22-year-old sister, first brought up the possibility of John leaving school early. “John had been expressing an interest in doing things his own way, and I mentioned to him that there was more than one way to become an adult and to get a job,” she said. According to John, there are other ways for students to become accredited besides attending high school. “There’s an umbrella school called Clonlara that allows a student to work with an advisor to get credit for doing educational things,” he said. “I imagine that one could, for example, spend a month in France talking to people and get credit equivalent to taking a French class.” Boyle believes that a stereotype exists that those who drop out of high school will not be able to lead a successful life. “It’s possible to get a job or get into college without a high school diploma,” he said. “Many people think it’s not, which I think is the biggest reason they’re reluctant to consider this option.” Boyle also encourages others to explore the possibility of leaving school early. “I would recommend that they consider it, definitely,” he said. “I think becoming aware of the option is a good thing.” However, Julie cautions students to become informed before making this decision. “It’s not for everyone,” she said. “If you aren’t self-motivated and need people to tell you what to do, then you might not be successful.”
A Day in
Monday, March 16, 2009
Campus copes with lack of sleep
aren’t as excited to learn when they aren’t rested. Sleep deprivation depends more on sports and extracurricular activities, which change by student and time of year.” When faced with a heavy homework load, procrasO’Connell suggests having a bedtime routine to get enough tination and poor time management, most students sleep every day. “[First you should] set a bedtime and stick to cut from their sleep time in order to cope with it,” O’Connell said. “An hour before bedtime, pre-sleeping Principal Noreen Physics Teacher and the amount of work. activities should include shutting off your computer and TV. Likins Gunn Robotics Team Teachers notice when students lack sleep. Don’t exercise strenuously. Stop thinking about stressful 4:30 a.m. Advisor Bill Dunbar “You can tell by [their] posture, man- situations. Turn off your phone. Stay away from caffeine and Alarm goes off. nerisms, demeanor,” science teacher sugar in the evenings, in general.” According to webmd.com, 5:30 a.m. 5:15 a.m. Casey O’Connell said. “Students teenagers should get nine hours of sleep nightly. Sophomore Leave house in SanGet up, check email, can’t disguise this by fighting to Daniel Chen gets an average of six hours every night. “Because ta Cruz. prepare breakfast and keep their eyes open. It’s a cer- I procrastinate a lot, I frequently wake up at 5 a.m. to finish 6:15 a.m. lunch for youngest tain intuition; you can see it my homework,” he said. During the year, Chen has certain Arrive at school, daughter. with just peripheral vision.” periods of time when he is more sleep deprived than others. catch up on work, According to O’Connell, “I usually lose the most sleep during finals week. I have a lot plan for the day. 6:30 a.m. student performance also more I have to worry about, despite the fact we don’t have 7:00 a.m. Leave for work. decreases. “Test scores any homework.” Answer to the are lower when [stuJunior Chris Lu also faces issues concerning healthy steady stream of 6:50 a.m. dents] are sleep de- amounts of sleep, specifically during test times. “I usually feel Junior people coming Arrive at school, preprived and more more tired after test days because I stay up late studying,” Lu Mackenzie Ruehl through office, get pare for physics 1A and depressed,” said. “[Tests] are a major part of my grade, meaning I have to opinions and signaAP physics classes. O’Connell do well on them.” Another reason Lu is dealing with a lack of 6:30 a.m. tures on various pas a i d . sleep is because of extracurricular events and poor scheduling Wa ke u p, g e t pers, check in with 7:55 a.m. to 12:25 “ T h ey techniques. “Because of tennis and procrastination, I usually dressed, pack a folks. People know p.m. get around six hours of sleep,” Lu said. lunch, try to grab I am here early so I Teach, wade through Principal Noreen Likins, who worked for six years as the breakfast. get a lot of visitors paperwork with teachAssistant Principal of Guidance, has seen many overstressed that need to talk ing assistant. students. “Particularly when I was in the [Advanced Placement 7:30 a.m. about something (AP)] Guidance office, I came across students who were tryLeave house drive or other. 12:25 p.m. ing to do too much,” Likins said. “It’s very individual. Some The Oracle surveyed 144 stuto school. 7:30 a.m. Prepare for Engineerstudents can very successfully carry six [AP classes], but dents and 50 staff members Breakfast meeting ing Technology class. on the other side of the spectrum some students have and here are the results: 8:0 0 a.m. to with the Superintrouble carrying a ‘normal’ schedule. You can’t make 12:25 p.m. tendent. 1:05 to 3:10 p.m. any generalizations.” Classes. 7:30 a.m. to 12:30 Teach classes. Over periods of time, she has seen the outcome p.m. of school pressure. “A couple of students have 12:25 p.m. Work on reports, 3:10 p.m. become quite ill due to stress, where they can’t Exploratory Expeattend to mail, Work with robotics stucome to school,” she said. Likins recomwake up between go to sleep after 11 rience meeting. talk to students dents, attend to robotmends that students plan ahead before 5 and 6 a.m. p.m. and teachers, send ics team business. signing up for classes. “When people 1: 0 0 t o 2 : 0 0 call slips for seven sign up for APs, they need to rememp.m. student guides for 4:30 p.m. ber things like their music lessons, sleep an average of 6 sleep an average of 6 to Classes. the WA SC v isitLeave to pick up kids. sports, etc. that also require to 7 hours on a regu- 7 hours on a regular school ing team, write time each day,” Likins said. lar school night. night. 2:00 p.m. emails. 5:00 p.m. “Students need to look at the Study in the AC, 12:30 p.m. Make dinner, start launbig picture. In college, you think their acado homework. Meet with Organic dry, write to reporter would take three courses don’t think they think they get demic load deGardening Club. from The Oracle. per semester, if you are get enough sleep enough sleep prives them of 4:45 p.m. 1:00 p.m. taking six APs, you are doubling up. everyday. everyday. sleep. Prepare for laStanding meeting 6:30 p.m. Some people crosse practice. with the ProfesGo back to school to can do it, but sional Developprepare for physics others will 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. ment Coordinator. labs. strugVarsity lacrosse 2:15 p.m. gle.” practice. Employee evalua8:30 p.m. tion meeting. Arrive home for the The Oracle: What methods do you suggest in order to now—don’t let it 8:00 p.m. 3:10 p.m. night. Prepare for romanage students’ time more effectively? slip away. Eat dinner, take a Meet with student botics trip to Oregon Pat Conway: I recommend a calendar device. You need shower, work on from The Oracle the next day. some type of calendar device to manage when tests and TO: How does overhomework. for an interview. projects are due. I suggest that people do the best they scheduling decrease grades 4:30 p.m. 12:00 a.m. can. If you know there are events, plan accordingly. or productivity (if it does)? 11:00 p.m. At t e n d a c o lGo to bed. PC: People get so stuck on Go to bed. league’s book pubTO: How much time do you think students’ should one thing that it’s hard to let it lication celebraspend on various activities? go. Everything else spins out of tion. Eat dinner at PC: There’s no set time or one-size-fit all. The course control and the thing itself can be celebration. catalog gives a good estimation on the amount of time unsuccessful. 6:30 p.m. you will spend on each class so you can plan accordingly. Help set up for SaTO: When it comes to work over sleep, die Hawkins. TO: How do you think students’ workload affects their which do you think should have more priority 7:30 p.m. stress levels? and why? Attend Sadie HawkPC: I think students ‘hear’ a lot of things from other PC: Sleep. I say sleep because you don’t do your ins Dance. people in the community about what other people are best without it. Everyone has different sleep patterns 10:30 p.m. doing. There are many ways to get where you want to, and whatever they are they need to adjust. You have to Wait for all stuand there are many ways to succeed. know the sleep you need and accept it. Sleep makes you dents to leave, healthier, more relaxed and it allows you to cope better. then drive back TO: What effects do you see in students when they are to home in Santa overstressed or suffering from lack of sleep? TO: How do counselors encourage balancing getting Cruz. PC: I see students making mistakes they would not have enough sleep, but also taking challenging classes? 12:30 a.m. made if they had not been sleep deprived. Students hurt PC: We talk to our students about balancing their Arrive home. themselves. They’re tired, grumpy and unfocused. Also, schedules. We want you to be healthy inside and out— people get ill because their resistance is slow. it’s okay to be a kid sometimes. Enjoy being a young person. We do as much as we can and try to promote TO: What are your tips to students in terms of leading a our time management sheet that talks about how many balanced lifestyle? hours of work there are in each class. If students use that PC: Work hard and play hard. It’s important that students with things like hobbies it’s a really good way of prebalance work, play and life. Don’t miss living life being planning. —Compiled by Shaya Christensen, Joseph Lin, Elaine Liu, caught up in school. Family time is very important —Compiled by Hannah Schwartz Joyce Liu, Ryan Tan and Sarah-Jean Zubair Joseph Lin
Gunn by the
6 8% 58%
Guidance counselor Pat Conway
Week-O-Rama: Highlighting the issues
Eating Disorder Awareness Week addresses body image Emily Zheng Reporter
Courtesy of NEDA
The NEDA program works to reverse the toll that a degrading teenage self-image takes on high schools around the country.
Although English teacher Kristina Gossard, an advocate for eating disorder and body image awareness, had to step down from coordinating Gunn’s first National Eating Disorder Awareness Week, the events still went forward. The first event occurred on Tuesday Feb. 24 at lunch in V-7 and the school invited National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA) member Nan Dellheim to speak about the role of body image in society. Dellheim showed Body Talk, an educational documentary of students who had struggled with eating and body image disorders, created by an organization called The Body Project. “The documentary is worth watching, and it’s helpful to hear about the experiences of students your own age because these are the people who you come in contact with everyday,” Dellheim said. “You could have a family member, a close friend or even just someone in your class that is struggling with an eating disorder, and you would never know what they were going through if
you didn’t understand the seriousness of their situation.” Among the students and staff members at the first event was sophomore Audrey Ho. She had watched eating disorder and body image videos before, but she described Body Talk as extremely moving. “I wish everyone in the school could have seen the documentary and heard what all these teens were putting themselves through and how scary and real eating and body image issues are,” Ho said. “This one girl in the video talked about how she had to be rushed to the emergency room a bunch of times because she would starve herself in order to make herself look skinny. It was really sad.” Dellheim also handed out articles written by members of NEDA. One article offered strategies to help friends with eating disorders become healthy again. The article advises students not to wait until their situation is so severe that the friend’s life is in danger, and to support them and be as understanding as possible. It also encourages students to know the differences between facts and myths about weight, nutrition and exercise, and to be a good role model in regard to sensible eat-
ing, exercise and self-acceptance. Dellheim came back to speak about the resources at NEDA and body image that night in the library. Medical professionals Carol Dietrich and Dr. Cynthia Kapphahn also spoke. Dietrich discussed the causes of eating disorders from a psychological perspective. “I think what seemed shocking to a lot of people is that she really went in to how none of it was ever about food but rather a greater problem in their life, and how it was just manifesting itself through the control of food,” English teacher Diane Ichikawa , who helped run the week, said. Dr. Kapphahn spoke about medical complications of eating disorders, and how often times people do not receive proper medical coverage. She also introduced available services through Palo Alto Medical Foundation and Lucille Packard Children’s Hospital. “There were different kinds of treatments mentioned, both psychological and medical,” Ichikawa said. While the events scheduled for the following two days were cancelled, students were asked to wear jeans on Friday to show their support and to inspire others to be “comfortable in their own genes.”
Students celebrate diversity with various foreign recipes Linda Yu Reporter
Junior Ethan Glassman from German Club serves bratwurst to the hungry students.
When does the Numa Numa song meet bratwurst? Quesadillas and pearl milk tea? From March 2 to 6, National Foreign Languages Week was held to celebrate diversity in the Gunn community and emphasize the five main languages offered on campus: Spanish, French, German, Japanese and Mandarin. National Foreign Languages Week is held every other year, alternating with International Week. Though the two events share a common purpose, the former is of a smaller scale and does not include an assembly put together by the Student Executive Council. However, both hold daily morning trivia and an awards night for the language teachers to recognize students that exhibit exceptional qualities in the classroom. Individual teachers also continued their teachings of culture and language. Japanese teacher Yukie Hikida took her Advanced Placement Japanese classes to
the Urasenke International Tea School in San Francisco, where they participated in a two hour long tea ceremony. According to junior Asun Oka, the experience was fun and educational. “The ceremony took me by complete surprise,” Oka wrote in an e-mail message. “Everything had a special meaning to it, and the ceremony revolved around purity, the senses, and equality.” For Oka, the ceremony was tiring but worthwhile. “It was a great experience and it said a lot about the Japanese culture and people,” he said. “I would do it again.” According to World Language Instructional Supervisor and Foreign Languages Week supervisor Anne Jensen, diversity in the Bay Area gives students new perspectives on their surroundings. “It opens [the students’] minds and eyes to a different world,” Jensen said. “They learn to appreciate the languages and their value.” According to Jensen, the knowledge of multiple languages also allows people to express their ideas in a variety of ways. “There are certain things that can be said in one language that can’t
be said in another,” Jensen said. “Knowing another language teaches students different ways of thinking.” Hikida also noted that learning new languages helps to improve students’ English grammar, because many students grow up learning English without a detailed study of its grammatical aspects. For these reasons, Jensen strongly encourages students to take foreign languages throughout their high school careers. “Knowing a language also builds confidence in students,” she said. “I remember taking my students to France one year, and it was very encouraging for them to know that they were able to order food and talk to others in French.” National Foreign Languages Week also serves as a prelude to Not in Our Schools Week, which is held in April. “I think that the themes of [Foreign Languages Week] are an introduction to the themes of tolerance since we learn to be accepting of other cultures,” Jensen said. “This week really emphasizes the international community and shows us the importance of diversity.”
Campus promotes acceptance during Not In Our Schools Week Carissa Ratanaphanyarat News Editor
Courtesy of Not In Our Town Project
From April 13 to 17, the Not In Our Town Project, in collaboration with Gunn’s Gay Straight Alliance and other clubs, is spreading the policy of social acceptance at Gunn.
Racism? Sexism? Prejudice against those who are not of heterosexual orientation? Most have heard of these ideas before at one time or another, but Not in Our Schools (NIOS) Week, a five-day event that will be held April 13 to 17, brings these prevalent issues into the spotlight. “It’s a district-wide event dedicated to teaching acceptance,” senior Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) President Jessie Belfer said. In an effort to raise awareness about discrimination, the Palo Alto Unified School District established the annual week long event consisting of hands-on activities, displays and a video broadcast via the Titan Broadcast Network. “[The purpose of the week is] to promote identity safety in our community,” Student Activities Director Lisa Hall said. “To truly try and understand
and celebrate our differences. Bringing the idea that hate crimes are not tolerated in our community and to create awareness that these types of crimes do happen.” The School Climate Committee, headed by GSA advisor and math teacher Daisy Renazco, is planning NIOS Week, the group is composed of parents, students and staff members. Last year, clubs such as Youth Community Service/Interact and GSA took on leadership roles to initiate events at school. Activities such as the Day of Silence and Dissolving Stereotypes activities were designed to increase student involvement. However, NIOS Week will differ slightly this year. “Our goal is to make this different from last year by focusing on encouraging people to create a more accepting and safe environment at Gunn,” Belfer said. Additionally, an assembly will also be held this year to show a video called “Not
in Our School.” A discussion with a panel may take place. Junior Diversity Commissioner Teklehaymanot Yilma and Camp Everytown attendees are collaborating on a project: “I’m working with Camp Everytown people to make a video or live-stage skit about the community at Gunn,” Yilma said. “It’s either going to be in the form of a skit or an interview.” Yilma is also busy creating an activity that is still in the works. In addition, a different activity will be planned each day, and each department will have a chance to head one. “Some students weren’t involved in the previous years,” Hall said, “We’re hoping that everyone will come away with a better understanding of the importance of identity safety.” Belfer is optimistic for the future, “We’ve been working on it for a longer time,” Belfer said. “It should be really good this year.”
Monday, March 16, 2009
Mysterious musical needs ending ‘The Mystery of Edwin Drood’ invites audiences to participate by choosing the fate of the characters
Danielle Aspitz Circulation Manager
Theater, band and stage tech have joined forces to produce The Mystery of Edwin Drood, a musical work different from any Gunn has put on before. Set in Victorian Era England, the musical takes the audience straight back to Charles Dickens’ time to bring his unfinished novel to life. Dickens died before he was able to write an ending to his story, so the play has many paths through which it could progress. “Someone actually calculated that there are 600 different combinations of the play sequence,” senior George Sun said. There are eight suspects for the murder of the main character, Edwin Drood, played by
senior Chloe Fuller. Junior Michael Norcia plays the chairman, William Cartwright, who tells the story and pauses the plot at every fork in the road. The cast gathers on stage, and the audience votes to choose who they want to prosecute. “It is like a play within a play,” senior Franzi Mayer said. The actors are acting as actors putting on a show, whose ending has not yet been decided. “We go in the audience as our actor selves, and we go up on stage to perform the story, and we get to break character and be our actor selves,” senior Rivka Kelly said. The time period of the play has inspired the cast and crew to go above and beyond with costumes and characterization. “It’s this amazing English show in 1892, so the costumes are so unique, and the
hair takes like hours before every show,” Kelly said. Senior Franzi Mayer is particularly enamored with her character.“I think my character is the most fun character, personally, because I just come on stage every single night and just have a whole lot of fun, basically,” she said. “I get to play with the audience all the time, and I just get to be flamboyant and huge, and my costume is huge.” Despite the tragic murder, the story is definitely a comedy. “I have to say the novel was much more depressing than the thing we’re putting on,” Kelly said. “That’s what we’re aiming for with this show, is that you could watch any one character and just be completely entertained, and so when you get the whole picture as a whole it’s
just amazing.” The musical has aroused excitement in all involved.“The music, everything is spectacular on another level, and it’s fun and funny, you’ll cry and you’ll laugh,” director Jim Shelby said. The Mystery of Edwin Drood has been performed on Broadway in the same style, questioning the audience as to how they would like the play to continue, but this is the first time Gunn has put on a show in this style. The band had to learn to play 30 new songs, including a couple for each alternate ending. The stage has been modified, as it is every other year, to create an open box for the band in the front of the stage. “It is so hard not to get distracted,” senior Monica Datta said. “I always want to stop and listen to the play progressing
above our heads, but I know I have to keep playing.” The variable nature of the play presents a challenge to the crew. “My job is calling cues and calling what has to happen and when, and if you don’t know the ending you have to be really on top of everything to know what to direct,” senior stage manager Kanika Khanna said. “You have to be ready to go to which ending.” While the show will be different every night, the atmosphere is bound to be warm and exciting every evening. “Come to our show, you’ll be our best friend,” sophomore ensemble actress Catharine Volpe said. The show runs from Friday, March 13 to Saturday, March 21 with performances at 8:00 p.m. and one matinee on March 18 at 3:30 p.m. Maverick Mallari
Bands close to home jam to own style
The Oracle introduces Corner Street Light and Primary Annie Shuey Reporter
With catchy melodies and relatable lyrics, local high school band Corner Street Light is rapidly gaining popularity. Palo Alto High School (Paly) senior Charlie Avis and his younger brother freshman Freddy Avis have been playing music together since elementary school, and about a year ago they began recording their first album, titled Corner Street Light, which was released on iTunes in October. Paly senior Peter Johnson, a good friend of Charlie, joined the band about a year ago to help put on live performances. Johnson was not involved in recording the band’s first album, but his role in the band has grown since then. According to Johnson, the hardest part of joining the band was also the most enjoyable. “The best part was figuring out how I would play the songs live, [and] how I would put my own spin on them,” he said. Johnson claims his own personal style is different from that of the Avis brothers. “We’ve been influenced by a variety of bands, everyone from John Mayer to Coldplay to Metallica, but our music is more like U2 and Coldplay,” Charlie said. Johnson said he has been hugely influenced in his guitar-playing by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, while Freddy has not. “It provides a contrast in the music,” Johnson said. Unlike most bands, when Corner Street Light write their songs the music comes first and the lyrics follow. Freddy usually gets the ball rolling. “Something will come to me, and I’ll play off that,” he said. The group said they named the album after every song was written and recorded. “We like to take a lyric from a song and make it the title of the album,” Freddy
said. “It’s one of our U2 touches,” Charlie added. In fact, the band took both the album title and the name of their band from their most popular song, “Should Have, Could Have.” The band said getting their music on the iTunes store is their biggest accomplishment so far. By paying an independent group called TuneCore a small sum every year, their music is available on iTunes. “Should Have, Could Have” is by far the most downloaded song, as it has been bought nearly sixty times more than any other songs on the debut album. Corner Street Light has played in around nine shows so far, including a Battle of the Bands last spring, which they won. They have also played at several open mic nights at Gunn. Their success has not gone unnoticed— the band was approached by a former associate of a producer a few months ago. “We have yet to pursue it further,” Charlie said. “We want to focus on our education.” But more than big shows and albums, the band members agree that the best part about being in a band is to play with each other. “I just love jamming with them, whether it’s just in their basement or at a bigger show,” Johnson said. Although both Johnson and Charlie are seniors, the band may still be local come autumn. Johnson will be attending Stanford University next fall, and Charlie Avis may enroll alongside him. “I applied to Stanford.” he said. “I don’t necessarily know that it’s my first choice.” In light of the uncertainty, Corner Street Light hopes to have their second album fully recorded by August. “As long as it’s recorded, I can do a lot of the fine-tuning,” Freddy said. At least one thing is certain: Corner Street Light is just getting brighter.
Dana Li Reporter
We see him often, sitting at his desk while we come in late or leave for an appointment, but few students are aware that Jarrod Pagan is more than just one of our attendance secretaries. Pagan, 31, is lead singer and co-founder of the San Jose-based band, Primary. The band was formed about a year ago, through unconventional means. “I actually tried out to be the singer in a different band,” Pagan said. “The guitarist in that band [Kevin Rollis] and I got along so well that we started our own band.” With guitarist Rollis, the process of recruiting other members went more predictably. After auditioning those who responded to their ads, Primary officially formed, consisting of Pagan as vocals and synthesizer; Rollis on the guitar, synthesizer and keyboard; Nick Pagan on drums and Mark Sharp on bass. After the band assembled, Primary began to compose, practice and perform music. According to their MySpace page, their style, which is influenced by bands like The Cure, is a mix of Synth pop, Britpop and post punk. The site dubs the eclectic genre “post-pop.” “In the late 70s and 80s, the punk template started to incorporate more melody and expanded its scope and sound, resulting in post-punk and art-punk,” Pagan said, “We use that as the main foundation of our sound to play.” Currently, Primary performs locally and in cities like Sacramento and Los Angeles, but much of the band members’ focus is on finalizing their first EP. Pagan said that this process requires qualified support, beginning with recording. “Our manager knew a guy in Fremont, Brian Delizza, who runs
Indopendence Studios,” Pagan said. “Totally professional, and he works with a lot of local artists. After recording, we send it to a guy in San Francisco to be mastered.” Though the process is complex, Pagan is willing to be patient to ensure that the music is wellprepared. “Mixing volume and managing effects can take months depending on how specific and picky you are, and we’re kind of picky, yeah,” Pagan said. For Gunn’s aspiring artists, Pagan offers advice from his experience. “Be prepared to work your butt off practicing and playing shows,” Pagan said, “And be nice to everyone, cause no one likes a jerky, egotistical band, no matter how good you are.” For advertising, Pagan has some practical tips for teens. “Get a MySpace or a Facebook, or get both,” he said. “The more people you can tell, the better.” Pagan also stresses the importance of carefully selecting band members. “You have to find talented people, but you also have to get along,” Pagan said. “They’ve got to be dedicated, motivated and have a good sense of humor.” Pagan jokes about how close his own band has become. “It’s almost like being in a relationship with three other people–you have fights and have fun and you bond.” According to Pagan, the satisfaction gained from his music makes up for the challenges playing and promoting a band requires. “The absolute best is when you’re playing a song live that you just know is good,” Pagan said. “There’s definitely a certain feeling you get when everything comes together and people get it. I wouldn’t play if I didn’t get that feeling.” Primary’s EP will be released in April 2009. Until then, students can find songs and show dates on the band’s MySpace page at www.myspace.com/primaryband.
Spring Fashion Trends
Meghna Dholakia, Senior
Ty Mayer, Freshman
Glasses Frames Theater Prop
Macy’s Men’s, $40
Gray Cardigan Target, $15
Macy’s Men’s, $40
Green Floral Dress Flea Market, $5
“I get a lot of my style from bands, and my mom is a very stylish person.”
“My style is one half high end, laid back, boho, east side, west coast, dumpster chic, and the other half your grandma’s closet.”
American Apparel, $70
Tights American Apparel, $12
Macy’s Men’s, $100
top ten april fools pranks
10) Freeze a cup of orange juice overnight and pour a thin layer in the morning before you offer it to your parents for breakfast. 9) Relace someone’s shoes so the laces come out the bottom. 8) Leave one sheet of toilet paper in every bathroom. 7) Glue a quarter to the floor. 6) Saran-wrap the toilet seat. 5) Switch the salt and pepper. 4) Prank call your friends. 3) Park your parents’ cars at the end of the block. 2) Pour salt in your buddy’s water while they’re not looking. 1) Glue a coffee cup to the top of your car and drive around pretending not to know it’s there. —Compiled by Danielle Aspitz
Henry Liu, Maverick Mallari and Ivan Yong
See the solution on page 22
1) The Arsonist—The Extraordinaires 2) Terrible Angels—CocoRosie 3) True Affection—The Blow 4) Bookworm—Margot and the Nuclear So and So’s 5) Come On Eileen—Dexy’s Midnight Runners 6) The Fear—Lily Allen 7) Insomnia—Craig David 8) Signs—Bloc Party 9) Northwestern Girls—Say Hi to Your Mom 10) Ocean Breathes Salty— Modest Mouse —Compiled by Danielle Edelman and Veronica Polivanaya
Courtesy of http://www.opensky.ca
Monday, March 16, 2009
Students with a passion for fashion create their own clothes Alice Yu
Sonya Raymakers displays a hand made dress of her own design.
Many students choose to create their own clothes, sewing on their personality and creativity into finished products. Senior Sonya Raymakers uses different patterns and jewelry to come up with her clothing. She has been designing outfits since freshman year, which, she said, has helped her develop into the person that she is today. Store-bought clothing did not fit her taste because she prefers retro designs from the past. “From a more poetic angle, clothes are very human,” Raymakers said. “It’s fun to see what image you can create from a particular outfit, and when you’re behind every stitch, you know it’s all you.” Before creating an outfit, Raymakers sketches her designs out. Many of her design inspirations come from the New York Times Magazine and an online
blog called The Satorist. After designing, she measures the amount of fabric needed and goes fabric shopping. If the project becomes too complicated, she will make a mock-up before starting. Last year during prom, Raymakers created a late 1940s to 1950s silhouette with an edge. Underneath she added a crinoline to fit the dress with this time era. In the future, Raymakers aspires to become a professional theatrical costume designer. “I prefer to get very personal and design for myself, my friends, actors,” Raymakers said. “They are people I can get to know individually. I’m not a brand.” Sophomore Shany Albalak designs her own clothes as well. “[Designing clothing] lets me use my creativity and expand my knowledge by trying new things and it’s also fun and a cheaper way to customize,” she said. Albalak started making outfits when she
received a sewing machine for Hanukkah last year. Before starting on a new design, Albalak thinks of a design in her head, then buys fabric and uses her sewing machine for the rest of the job. With the machine, she designed her sophomore Homecoming dress by combining ideas from different dress designs seen in the past. Part of the design also comes from her emotions and surroundings, which she incorporates into her clothing. The product was a baby blue dress with a small bow in the middle. “It’s really convenient because it saved money and it seemed like she enjoyed it a lot,” Mor Albalak, Shany’s sister said. Albalak has begun thinking about next year’s Homecoming dress. “My motivation was basically myself,” Albalak said. “I strive to do the best I can on each project and also just do it for fun.” She wants to continue designing clothes in the future and hopefully improve her skills.
New York Fashion Week designers showcase new creations
Spectators applaud as they watch a runway show at New York Fashion Week. Mati Pluska-Renaud Reporter
Twice a year, fashion enthusiasts gather in New York City to see top designers debut their latest styles. Along with similar events in Paris, Milan and London, New York Fashion Week (NYFW) is one of the most important fashion events of the year. The two main fashion seasons are spring and fall, but as designers create their new collections, they preview ev-
erything months in advance. This year's fall and spring fashion shows were displayed from Feb. 1 to Feb. 8. Dark tones were matched with subtle colors, differing greatly from the leading tight shapes and pastel colors of 2008. Designers showed approximately 80 collections, each with similar designs that included high waist belts and strapless baggy dresses. The fall show was more elegant, simple and eloquent using a touch of fur, and a high fluorescent col-
People look on as a model walks down the catwalk at New York Fashion Week.
ored shoe. The dominating colors were marine, deep magenta, maroon, black, white and grey which made a crucial difference in style from last year’s show. On the other hand, textures and colors were similar to last year’s show. V-necks were designed more freely and many collections had popular designs in one-shouldered vests and tops. The waist continued to be very slim, and the bottom of the dresses would puff out in layers to the
floor. The hair styles stayed intact, though all up in buns or high and tightly bound. NYFW is a huge source of artistic expression for rising designers, and it gives them an opportunity to show the world what they have to offer as well as inspire the young generation. There were some remarkable shows in the 2009 season. Alexander Wang’s collections included leather leggings and black tailored jackets with buttons which lined
the hems perfectly to the bottoms. Christian Dior’s latest spring collection showcased romantic femininity, which included 17th century Dutch elements, such as cross-laced corseted backs and cartridge-paper scrolls standing out on hips. Chanel had an interesting twist this year with its spring collection, by making everything white. A-line skirts were tapered upward to meet cropped jackets with a flat squared-off shoulders and stand away collars.
Me, myself and the oven
Find out which supposed health foods are actually calorie-packed flops Jazreel Cheung reporter
You may think that the food you eat is harmless, but think again. There are many food choices available and the myriad of advertisements make it difficult to distinguish between healthy and unhealthy foods. To help you avoid gobbling some of the more dangerous foods, The Oracle has compiled a list of both healthy and unhealthy foods. Although muffins and bagels seem harmless, they often pack more calories in one serving than other types of carbohydrates. In addition, muffins are twice as big today as they were fifty years ago. So share your bagel or muffins to avoid eating too much. Contrary to popular belief, fruit juice is not healthy simply because it has the word “fruit” in it. Many manufacturers pack tons of sugar into each serving. Keep an eye on the list of ingredients for high fructose corn syrup, a type of sugar that is linked to obesity. Your best bet is to either eat fresh fruit or to make your own juice.
Although salads contain vegetables, there’s no guarantee that they are low calorie. Vegetables and fruits are healthy but the salad dressing and toppings can quickly add extraneous calories to your meal. Many cream-based salad dressings, such as Ranch and Thousand Island, contain about 150 calories per serving (2 tablespoons). In addition, cheese, croutons and bacon bits can add more fat to your salad depending on the amount you put on. In order to cut down on calories, either opt for low calorie or fat-free dressing or limit the number of salad toppings you add. Smoothie lovers watch out! You may think that all smoothies are healthy simply because they contain fruit, but they too are made with plenty of sugar. In addition, some contain up to 600 to 700 calories, like Jamba Juice’s Chocolate Moo’d Original Smoothie. Try to avoid ordering smoothies that contain chocolate or cream products. Don’t fret, not all are bad, but remember to keep your proportions in mind.
Although many of us have grown up hearing that chocolate is bad for us, there is some scientific research that shows that dark chocolate may be considered healthy. Chocolate contains antioxidants that slow down aging, so indulge a little and let your taste buds get what they crave. Nuts may have a lot of calories, but they also have many benefits. They contain a lot of nutrients, vitamins and dietary fiber, making them a great choice for a snack on the go. Try to avoid nuts that are covered in chocolate or are heavily salted. Some good choices are almonds, walnuts and cashews. When we hear the word “oil,” we immediately think of fat. Olive oil, however, is considered healthy due to the monounsaturated fats, which can help reduce cholesterol levels. This does not permit you to pour gallons of olive oil into your dishes, but you may drizzle it on top of your favorite meals to give them a nice aroma and flavor. Healthy eating is not a skill acquired innately, but now with the knowledge of which foods are bad and which foods are good, you
Restaurant-market offers pleasant experience Anne Hsiao
You’ve probably heard about the delicious food in the Google cafeterias and have always wanted the chance to taste it. Well, now you can experience the same style food in Calafia Café and Market A Go Go, Palo Alto Town and Country, which are both owned by Charlie Ayer, the same chef who created the famed dishes at Google’s site. The first thing that occurred to me when I walked into the restaurant was the heavenly aroma. The wonderful smell of freshly cooked food that permeated the room. There were a few open seats when I arrived and I was seated immediately. The style of the room was distinctly Californian, with a PanAsian influence. Customers have the choice of sitting at a table or at the counter, where they can observe the chefs cooking in the open kitchen. The simple yet classy décor of the room made the atmosphere especially friendly, with slightly dimmed lights casting a warm glow around the room. The light buzz of conversation added to the geniality of the room. The service especially impressed me—a Unmatched Knowledge Thoroughness & Integrity Superior Marketing Skills Unsurpassed Service Invincible Spirit Superlative Results
feeling of camaraderie was everywhere. All of the staff, including the cooks in the open kitchen, was friendly. When asked a question about what he was cooking, the chef immediately responded with a huge smile and a detailed explanation of the salmon he was pan-frying. My server, Ashley, cheerfully answered any questions I asked her and was especially helpful if I had any unusual requests, such as ordering dessert to go. For the Henry Liu meal, she recommended the Lacquered Enjoy Google’s taste without the job or pain. Beef Short Rib, Mahogany Salmon and Fiery Bottom barbeque Pork Rice Bowl. I before. My only contention with the food was also ordered the Calafia pizza. the barbecue pork rice bowl. In my opinion, The food itself was overall quite appetiz- there was too much pork and not enough rice ing. I was particularly pleased with the fact and the sauce was much too strong. However, that all of the ingredients are organic and, by taking it home and adding my own rice, when possible, came from local sources. The the taste was more balanced and I enjoyed salmon was delectable; the fish simply melts it immensely. in your mouth. The sauce also didn’t overI highly recommend going to Calafia. power the dish and only enhanced the natural Its stylish yet low-key decor can cater to flavorful taste. The short rib, to my surprise, all occasions, from family gatherings to a seemed to have an Asian influence. As the romantic dinner for two. Although the food restaurant’s most popular dish, I was not is a bit expensive, the interesting interior disappointed. The sauce perfectly comple- design and friendly service make up for it. mented the tender meat, and its unique taste If you are free one night and want to eat out, is not quite like anything I’ve experienced just give this restaurant a try.
Sudoku Answers Solve the puzzle on page 20
Courtesy of http://www.opensky.ca
Maya Itah This past winter break, my parents decided to leave the house at my mercy for three weeks. I’m sure they worried about various things—at least, I kind of hope they did—but they voiced one concern above all others: “Maya, how are you going to eat?” Now, I won’t deny that I felt a little patronized, but they had a point. Although I can cook on my own when I’m struck with divine inspiration (i.e. marathon viewings of Top Chef), I’m otherwise quite lazy. I usually resort to scavenging when there’s no cooked food in the fridge. I’m sure my parents had a horrifying vision of me huddled in my room, surrounded by crackers, tangerine peels and empty hummus containers. Even so, I never bothered to do anything about my lack of kitchen skills. I figured they weren’t that important if I was otherwise independent. Cooking? Whatever. So, when my parents boarded the plane and left me to my own devices, I felt a mixture of righteous independence and not-so-righteous trepidation. I was somewhat set: between two road trips and a birthday party, I had a clear source of food for about a week and a half. But what about the rest of break? At first, I felt ambitious. I made about 10 variations of omelets and, well, some of them were pretty tasty. Then, I moved on to stews and chilies. I didn’t dare venture near my oven, because it tends to communicate with my microwave in cryptic beeps whenever I try to use it. Yet in the face of this handicap, I persevered. Feeling self-satisfied, I almost wished my parents would’ve been there to see it. Then the dishes started piling up. The remnants of fried onions really don’t smell like roses after, say, four days in the sink. But instead of learning to use the mysterious device that is my dishwasher, I resolved to do the dishes by hand… and failed. Whenever I came home, I pushed the chore to the next day, making ridiculous excuses like, “who does dishes at night, anyway?” By mid-winter break, cooking was no longer a creative pursuitit was a chore. Trader Joe’s frozen foods took on a significant role in my life. I periodically told my friends I only loved them for their fridges. The night before the arrival of my dear mother and father, I realized that no excuse in the world would explain the giant fortress of tableware rising from the depths of my sink. A horror of the kind I experience before 80 percent of my school projects came across me: I have one night. It’s already twelve. I will die young. Of course, I eventually got over myself and started cleaning the dishes, one by one. The task itself was boring, but it felt good to get that weight off my shoulders. That night made me realize that really, I could rant about independence all I wanted, but I was kind of a baby—a technologically challenged one, at that. Come September, I’ll be leaving home in pursuit of higher education. But I’ll be humbled by the knowledge that until I can legitimately cook and clean, no college degree will give me the right to call myself an adult. Dishwasher: the time has come for me to conquer you. —Itah, a senior, is a Forum Editor.
Monday, March 16, 2009
The Oracle offers alternatives for couch potatoes, travelers and homebodies alike The most exciting part of a couch potato’s day is probably when they start drooling as Top Chef comes on. Contrary to popular belief, there are many things couch potatoes can do without leaving their houses or even their TV screens. Here are just a few suggestions for what couch potatoes can do to make their spring break more interesting. For starters, there’s nothing like a TV marathon. Call up some friends and tell them to bring over their favorite TV shows and movies. Libraries are a free and convenient way to find entertainment. Ask friends to bring over any junk food and drinks they want. All you have to do is wake up and open the door when they arrive. Spend the entire day watching shows like House, Nip/ Tuck or even Family Guy. Watching movies of different genres will keep people entertained for longer periods of time, and watching a chick flick after an action movie will help maintain diversity. It’s more fun when there are others around you to share the excitement. A game console can make a huge difference when it comes to having fun by yourself or with others. Games like “Grand Theft Auto” or “The Legend of Zelda” can keep people absorbed for hours. “Guitar Hero” can be played with or without friends. On the other hand, if you’re planning on playing “Guitar Hero World Tour” or “Rock Band,” it’s time to start calling people. And for those of you who don’t own a game console, don’t despair—there are other ways to have fun. Baking. For many, the word induces terror, but there is really no need to be afraid. Baking is a great way to have fun and for those who don’t already know how to bake, spring break is the time to start learning something new. For all you know, it might even turn into a hobby. Recipes can easily be found around the house or on the Internet. Even if you don’t have the supplies to bake a cake or some brownies from scratch, there’s cake and brownie mix that can be found at a local Trader Joe’s or Safeway. Stock up on supplies now before break begins. And lastly, read. Put all of your English assignments aside and pick up a favorite childhood novel or one that you checked out from the library two months ago and have yet to start reading. Nothing is quite the same as sitting in silence, content, letting yourself to be engulfed by the pages.
With spring break around the corner, many students are searching for fun and convenient places to travel. From hitting the slopes to going to special paradise spots, there are many locations for the student traveler. For the snow addicts, Lake Tahoe might be the first location that you think of, but Bear Valley is not only closer but also has good quality slopes. With a total of 37 trails, Bear Valley is mostly covered in intermediate and advanced courses, but it still has some beginner and expert courses. Because its base elevation is 7,500 feet, Bear Valley is one of a few resorts that receive snow this time of the year. Kirkwood is also a good alternative to Lake Tahoe for those who don’t want to drive four hours or more to get to the slopes. If snow isn’t your thing, there’s always the typical tropical paradise. Hawaii has 70degree coastal water, along with mid 70-degree weather. With relaxing volcanic cave formation routes, as well as nice beaches around the islands, Hawaii is a prime location for vacation. You can have fun in the sun boogie boarding, surfing and maybe even learning a few traditional Hawaiian dances (or even go all out and show off your Hukilau skills). For more educational trips, visit the many museums on Hawaiian history including the Polynesian Cultural Center and the Pearl Harbor site. Exciting as well as relaxing, Las Vegas is another dramatic place to go. Despite the fact that minors cannot gamble or drink, there are still many enjoyable attractions for all ages. The “Stratosphere Big Shot Las Vegas” is a thrilling ride that dangles you over Las Vegas, at 45 miles per hour to a height of 1,081 feet. The gripping rides in Las Vegas and the summery coasts of Hawaii bring out the best of the traveling world. Spring break is the perfect time to expand your horizons, explore new places and venture outside of the Palo Alto bubble. –Compiled by Joseph Lin
Spring break offers an exciting opportunity for students to travel outside of the Bay Area, but considering the myriad of activities that the Bay Area offers, staying local might not be such a bad idea. San Francisco is packed with attractions and activities. For the animal lover, there is the extensive San Francisco zoo (with improved security). The chocolate lover needs to look no further than Ghirardelli Square, located in the ever-crowded Fisherman’s Wharf. Ice skaters can find satisfaction in the Yerba Buena Ice Skating center, a year round rink with skate rentals under $10 and a bowling alley. There are a variety of cultural attractions as well, including Chinatown, the Italian North Beach and the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park. For the more outdoor-oriented student there is Shoreline Park in Mountain View. The Shoreline Aquatic Center offers rentals for windsurfing, sailboating, kayaking, canoeing, rowboating and paddle boating on the 50-acre artificial lake (classes are also available for the eager but slightly less able student). The paths around the park are perfect for hikers and cyclists. Other attractions on site include an 18-hole golf course and a restaurant, if the trail mix starts to get bland. For the shopaholic there is Westfield Valley Fair Mall, near San Jose. The shopping center is the largest mall in Northern Californian, boasting 403 stores and plenty of other activities. Across the street is Santana Row, home to many superb restaurants. Another prime shopping destination is Union Square in the heart of San Francisco. Be sure to check out the glass elevators on the side of the Westin St. Francis building that present an unprecedented view of the city and square. The Great Mall of the Bay Area in Milpitas is an additional option for shopping satisfaction, with 200 large stores strewn across an expansive area. Beach lovers can visit the popular Pillar Point Beach in Half Moon Bay. The beach has a harbor and several restaurants and shops, as well as being the host site of the Mavericks surfing competition. Other top notch beaches include Baker Beach in San Francisco and the slightly more secluded China Beach, also in San Francisco. With so many great things to see and do in the Bay Area, there is little reason to leave or be bored during the upcoming spring break. So stay local—this place has its perks.
–Compiled by Henry Gens
– Compiled by Amy Yu
‘Watchmen’ hits theaters, emphasizes good versus evil Melissa Chan
The highly anticipated film adaptation of the graphic novel Watchmen, directed by Zach Snyder, brings together the best of both the science fiction and human worlds, combining them in an emotionally enthralling quest for world peace and domination. The story takes place in an alternate 1985 America on the brink of nuclear war with the Soviet Union. The superheroes of the day suddenly find themselves the target of a murder by an unseen enemy. The vigilante Rorschach, played by Jackie Earle Haley (Little Children, All the King’s Men), sets out to warn potential victims, uncovering a past that links the characters to their ultimate fates. The story explores the fates of other self appointed super heroes including Night Owl II, played by Patrick Wilson (Phantom of the Opera, The Alamo) and Silk Spectre II played by Malin Ackerman (27 Dresses). Visionary director Snyder, whose previous credits include 300 and Dawn of the Dead, does a seamless job of controlling the complicated plot. He does the science fiction aspect justice, with sensational dream sequences depicting the alternate reality. Watchmen expresses the idea that there is a very fine line between good and evil. It plays on the concept of “greater good” and whether the end justifies the means. The text of the graphic novel is directly translated into the film adaptation at many parts, and is then enhanced by the emotions that the actors bring to the
screen. The Watchmen graphic novel has captivated science fiction and mainstream audiences for well over 20 years. It is listed as one of Time Magazine’s top 100 most celebrated novels of all time, up there with other acclaimed novels such as Catch-22 and To Kill a Mockingbird. It was originally released as a twelve issue series during 1986 and 1987. Written by Alan Moore and illustrated and lettered by Dave Gibbons, it continues to attract fans from every age. Moore, known as one of the major innovators of comics in the ‘80s, has collected numerous awards in his field for works such as V for Vendetta and Promethea. There are multiple fight scenes, many of which are brutal and unforgivably graphic, which bring an air of reality to the film, showcasing that this is life we are dealing with, and it is not always clean and pretty. Phenomenal special effects intertwined with fast paced action sequences keep the film at an intense and entertaining level. When the action slows, the emotion of the characters is brought closer to the surface with a greater impact. From the smallest detail to the overarching concept, Watchmen is a high quality display of cinematography and marks another milestone in superhero history. The film is rated R for strong graphic violence, sexuality, nudity and language. Both the novel and the film have been geared towards adult audiences.
Courtesy of impawards.com
Watchmen topped the box office, making $55.2 million in its first weekend.
Mari Ju Sports Editor
The class of 2009 has led the Titans to many athletic achievements over the last four years. Girls’ basketball, led by senior Jasmine Evans, recently broke the school record for number of wins in a season and is currently 29-1 (and counting). Senior Martin Trainer is one of the country’s top amateur golfers, and senior Kelsey Pedersen races past her competition in crew. These three athletes, along with a few others in their class, have the athletic prowess to play competitively in college next year. These seniors are considered elite athletes of their sport and have promised both their academic and athletic abilities to their future colleges. Varsity girls’ basketball captain Evans started playing basketball in sixth grade when her friend just wanted her to “try out for fun.” Over the past six years, Evans has worked hard and is now committed to play for Harvard College next year. Evans says that her dad always reminded her to keep her grades up in order to keep
her options open for college. “A lot more colleges could consider me because I had good grades,” Evans said. According to Evans, colleges first started contacting her towards the end of her sophomore year; although she didn’t start communicating with them regularly until her junior year. “You give the schools you are more interested in your summer schedules so they can come and watch you play,” Evans said. “If they like you, then they will continue contacting you, updating you on school information and their sports program.” Evans has always dreamt of playing for a school known for both its academics and athletics. “I want to graduate from a school that isn’t just known for sports,” she said. She was recruited by Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Dartmouth, Brown, UCLA, Rice, Baylor and more. “My top choices were Harvard, Stanford and Princeton,” Evans said. Similar to Evans, Trainer says that his involvement with golf started out lowkey. “My dad was a golfer and I started playing with him when I was 11,” Trainer
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said. “I just started practicing and entering tournaments and now I’m committed to play for USC next year.” Colleges first started communicating with Trainer at the beginning of his junior year, and by the end of his junior year Trainer compiled a list of his top colleges. By August of his senior year Trainer verbally committed to USC and his communication with other colleges ended. “I chose USC because it has great weather, a good coach and they treat their athletes well,” Trainer said. Pedersen did not start rowing competitively until her freshman year in high school. “I attended a camp with a friend, thought it was really fun and decided to start rowing competitively,” she said. According to Pedersen, she played a few other sports previously but prefers crew. “It is probably the hardest sport, physically and mentally, that I have participated in, but it is also the most rewarding,” Pedersen said. Crew can get really tiring and Pedersen says that her teammates keep her going. “Part of why I love crew so much is because of the friends I’ve made,” Pedersen said.
Pedersen had a similar experience communicating with coaches as Evans and Trainer. “I knew that I wanted to continue rowing in college, so I began contacting schools way before most other students,” she said. At first, Pedersen was considering schools all over the country, but she eventually decided to stay in California because of the warmer temperature of the water for rowing. By the beginning of last fall, Pedersen committed to row for Cal next year. “Cal is the best public university in the nation and they have the best crew team on the West Coast,” Pedersen said. Other 2009 Titans will continue on to play their sport in college, without being committed or recruited. Senior Alex Cortez has been a member of the track team since his freshman year. Cortez plans on choosing his college first and then “walking-on” or joining the team without being recruited. “No matter what school I go to I know I want to be involved with athletics,” he said. “I love playing sports and I just want to try new things, get out there and stay fit.”
Stanford Announcer & Gunn Swim Coach The Oracle: As an announcer for Stanford, what exactly is your job? David Lombardi: I do the games for the radio. I do football and basketball. TO: What do you like David Lombardi about announcing? DL: It would basically Stanford junior be going to a stadium, watching a sport and talking about the sport [for a job]. That’s been my dream since I was five years old. TO: How did you get your start announcing sports? DL: I think my parents were up at a football game and they were late to the game. They [listened to the radio and] said the broadcasters were pretty good. I said, “Wow I didn’t know we had that here.” My friend and I applied. We had to do softball for a couple of months, then baseball, then eventually I moved my way up to the head announcer in football. TO: I’ve heard that you get to meet some pretty cool people on the job, like the Lopez twins (former Stanford basketball players). What are the perks of being the announcer? DL: Yeah, I got to interview Jim Harbaugh. I knew the Lopez twins before I got into announcing, but yes, I did get to interact with them through broadcasting. I know all the main guys on the team. I travel with the team. You get on the bus with all the football team, you roll out onto the tarmac and you get on the plane. You’re part of the whole operation: there’s a police escort for the football team, and lots of
food. They give you a meal on the bus and there are several delicious meals on the plane and at hotels. Everything’s catered. TO: You coach the Junior Varsity swim team at Gunn, too. Why did you coach the team? DL: One of my passions in high school was swimming. I just love accomplishment, I love the atmosphere of sports. TO: What does coaching bring to announcing? And what has announcing taught you about coaching? DL: Coaching and announcing, it’s all the same thing. You’re getting to work in the same environment. Sports are all about a passion for competing and accomplishing something. In both coaching and swimming, I am able to find myself in the middle of that exciting atmosphere, except in different ways. I think its fair to say that sports are our escape from reality. I love living through this excitement that sports bring through both perspectives: the one of a coach and the one of an announcer. It’s very fulfilling. TO: So what’s in your future, both in coaching and announcing? DL: I’ll help out [at Gunn] again next year. Announcing wise, I think that’s something I’ll pursue. I’d love to be a professional broadcaster. I’m an international relations major, but I’ll send in my highlights tapes. I like to say the only way to succeed at anything is to give it everything. Just see what happens, do [your] best, try hard in school. —Compiled by Shaya Christensen
Monday, March 16, 2009
Titans basketball teams set records Jeffrey Wang Reporter
The boys’ varsity basketball team set high standards for future teams, ending the regular season with a 23-6 record, winning the De Anza league with a 11-1 record and coming one game short of Central Coast Section (CCS) finals. According to head coach Chris Redfield, the team exhibited dedication, focus and great leadership from senior varsity captains Kyle Perricone, Ryan Miller and Stephan Castro. “The team was really committed to defense this year, which isn’t the glamorous part about basketball, but it wins most games,” Redfield said. With this newfound commitment, Gunn succeeded in allowing an average of only 36.5 points for their opponents per game.
The team defeated Wilcox, Los Gatos, Fremont and Los Altos High Schools, but came one point short in its first game against Palo Alto. Despite losing to a two-point buzzer-shot, Gunn received the opportunity to turn the tables on Palo Alto High School, winning 42-18. “Our defense got better and we were more confident,” Perricone said. “We were able to hold them to 18 points.” Gunn’s success put them into the CCS Semifinals for the first time since 1981. However, the boys were unable to break through Archbishop Mitty’s defense in the last nine seconds to score the finishing point, and lost 42-43. “Losing the last game certainly was disappointing, but the season overall was very satisfying, so I have no complaints,” Redfield said.
Senior Kyle Perricone stands firm in his defense against Mills.
Nicola Park Reporter
The girls’ varsity basketball team ended the regular season with an undefeated 26-0 record and an 11-0 record in league play, earning the team’s first-ever De Anza league title and setting a new school record. “It wasn’t what we expected, but we are really happy,” senior guard Rimona Cartun said. In the Central Coast Section (CCS) playoffs, the girls beat Mills in the Division II quarterfinals on Feb. 24 with a 68-34 win and swept Presentation 46-35 in the semifinals on March 3. They faced their first loss of the year in the finals against Archbishop Mitty on March 6, losing 40-56 as Mitty clinched the CCS title. Despite their loss, the Titans advanced to the first round of the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) state basketball championships as the No. 5 seed. They beat fourth seeded Pleasant Valley with a 59-32 win on March 10, and moved on to the semifinals where they fell to No. 1 seeded Oak Ridge, 39-49. According to head coach Sarah Stapp, some of the most intense games during the season were those against Wilcox, the only team the Titans lost to last season. “We had more confidence that we could actually beat them,” senior captain Jasmine Evans said. “Last year we definitely were a lot more
Courtesy of Bob Drebin
Lady Titans gather after the CCS finals against Archbishop Mitty High School on March 6. The final score was 40-56. scared and we didn’t believe in our offense or our defense. This year it was completely the opposite.” The Lady Titans defeated the Chargers in two games with final scores of 51-44 and 43-35, respectively. The CCS semifinal against Presentation was, according to Stapp, a key victory. The team won three tournaments: the KSA Classic in Orlando, Florida, as well as the Burlingame and Pinewood Tournaments. Stapp believes that one of the team’s strongest assets this year was the bond between team members. “Our team chemistry is one of the major factors of our success this season,” she wrote in an email message. “It is why we do what we do.”
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“We don’t put pressure on each other; there is no competition between us,” senior forward Taylor McAdam said. According to Evans, experience helped the Titans. “We’ve gotten a lot older, and we’re more experienced with what we’re supposed to be doing on the court,” Evans also said the team’s greatest strength is its defense. “We don’t have any tall people on our team, [but] we are really fast and really quick,” Evans said. “All of our energy on defense has helped us for each win.” Some of the highlights were beating Wilcox and “doing things as a team,” according to Evans. “We had so many great moments it’s hard to pick one,” she said.
Track encompasses jumping, throwing and running. It is a unique sport because students of all levels of athleticism can participate. “The team tries really hard to make it a positive experience for everyone, not just the stars,” head coach Ernie Lee, who started out as an assistant volunteer in 1995, said. Rising and returning athletes in almost all the events help create a strong and varied team. Junior Sunny Margerum, sophomore Emma Dohner and senior Charles Chisom are some of the returning varsity runners who will compete in events such as the long jump, 3200-meter and 200-meter respectively. There are also younger freshmen athletes including freshmen Julia Maggioncalda, who will compete in the high jump, and Kyung Serk Cho, who will compete in sprints. The team had its first practice meet against Aragon, and Lee believes it was a good start. “The team had many outstanding early season marks and a lot of great debut performances by new athletes,” Lee said. Many athletes had personal records in events like girls distance and boys sprints, including freshman Kieran Gallagher. “Kieran ran the eighth fastest 800-meter time of 2:20, which was amazing because it was the first meet,” senior Tara Saxena said. Gunn had fewer athletes in other areas, especially girls high jump, where there was only one athlete competing. With around 200 students on the team, Lee believes that Gunn has a good season in front of them. “We should be competitive in our league,” he said. “So far things are looking promising.” The next meet is on March 19 against Los Altos High School.
With fewer players this year and a younger team, the softball team faces hard challenges. Last year the team had 14 players, but this year, there are only 11. According to softball rules, nine players must be on the field at all times; with the smaller team, only two players get a break, meaning each player will receive short breaks. Adding to that downside, the team lost six seniors that played critical roles: both pitchers were lost. According to sophomore Nicole Grimwood, the positions are always changing so they do not know who will be playing what for the team. In addition to being a smaller team, this year’s varsity team has a younger set of players. Out of the 11 players, five of them are freshman and two are sophomores. With a majority of underclassmen players, some think the team has yet to play with full potential. “It’s a different level of playing that takes getting used to and the freshmen show a lot of potential,” senior Shoshana Mitchell said. Science teacher Maria Powell will be the head coach of the team. Having coached softball for six years, Powell said she has experience teaching younger players. “I don’t think a young team is necessarily a disadvantage,” Powell said. The goal she hopes to achieve with her team is to create uniformity between junior varsity (JV) and varsity. Powell believes that uniformity between JV and varsity will help JV players going to varsity understand what is to be expected. “I am currently working with [PE teacher Steve] Ames to develop uniform standards and expectations for both programs.” Powell said. Powell and the team have been focusing on defense and perfecting basic skills instead of individualized work. With the team short of players, Powell has been evaluating the skill level of each player and finding out which position the player can apply her skills to the best. With the season coming up and the first couple of games already over, Powell hopes to make the best of the small and young team.
Spotlight Which meet are you looking forward to?
Tara Saxena (12)
“Santa Barbara Easter Relays. We are taking a big group so it will be fun; relays are the best because it makes track feel more like a team sport.” Photos by Henry Liu & Ivan Yong
Top: Junior Conrad Claasen skims over the top of the hurdle to gain a lead on his opponents. Left: Senior Rachael Fleischmann warms up during practice by casually throwing the softball to a teammate. Right: Sophomore Henry Liu leaps into the air to smash the shuttlecock.
The varsity badminton team hopes to smash to victory and continue the legacy of its previous years. Last year’s team placed first in the De Anza League and lost only once against its biggest rival, Monta Vista High School. They hope to continue this record by winning league again and moving on to the Central Coast Section Championships. Last year, the mixed doubles and boys’ and girls’ doubles placed within the top three. “In the years before, Monta Vista [High School] has always beaten us both times we played them,” sophomore Phoebe Lin said. “But last year’s team was really strong, so we were able to win one of the games. Henry Liu (10) I really hope we can beat them this year too.” In addition to the loss of six seniors, several strong players from last year are not playing for the school team, including junior Brent Dano and sophomores Charlie Yang and Catherine Wu. They are training with their private coaches to prepare for state and national tournaments. According to coach Marc Tsukakoshi, even though badminton is an individual sport, it is still important that the team can encourage and motivate each other. The next few weeks will be focused on rebuilding the team and getting everyone on the same page in terms of expectations and goals. Tsukakoshi believes that joining the team is a great opportunity for the players to not only develop and strengthen their own style, but also to be exposed to other styles of playing. The team’s first game will be at home on March 31 against Monta Vista High School.
With the end of March steadily approaching, the boys’ varsity golf team has played against Cupertino, Fremont and Los Altos High School, bringing its overall record to 2-1. According to coach Chris Redfield, the team only lost one senior, so most of the team is coming back and starting from where they left off. “We had a young team last year—two freshmen, three sophomores and one senior who were starters,” Redfield said. “This year it is still a young team but they are much improved.” According to sophomore golfer Andrew Leung, the team is looking forward to the game against Paly. “We lost last season, but I want to come back and show them how much better we’ve gotten,” Leung said. As for other goals the team wants to come out with this season, it is the golf championships later in April. “This year we want to compete for the [Santa Clara Valley Athletic League] SCVAL league championship,” Redfield said.
What do you want students to know about golf? “People say that there is a little exercise involved but we’re actually walking miles on the golf course, because we can’t drive the golf carts, with the Andrew Leung (10) clubs on our back.”
Monday, March 16, 2009
With construction for the new swimming pool underway, the swim team has been heavily impacted. Practicing at Jane Lathrop Stanford (JLS) and Terman Middle Schools has affected the team, but it is still hopeful for the upcoming season. “We have to practice at JLS and Terman since the pool is under construction, so it is a bit harder to achieve the same team unity,” junior Teva Levens said,. The swimming team’s strengths in events like the 200 free and medley relays all help ensure a strong season, according to Levens. “Junior varsity boys and girl are going to be right in the mix with other schools, and varsity girls will dominate,” sophomore Kevin Zhang said. Although there are no seniors on the swim team this year, the team still has high hopes for its season. “I think we will do reasonably well,” Levens said. “I hope that we can still become as strong of a team this year as we were last year.” Levens, who most likely will compete in the 100-yard breaststroke, 200 medley relay, 400 freestyle relay and 100 free, is excited for the new season. Levens is also looking forward to the goals she has set. “I’d like to get All-American in a few more events this year and
set some school records,” Levens said. “I also want to place higher individually in [Central Coast Section (CCS)].”
The diving team is promising a memorable successful season ahead. Due to pool construction, the team has been practicing at Paly. “Last year we practiced at Gunn and it felt more connected to other sports, I liked it last year and I like this year too,” junior Talia Mahoney said. “Practice is really fun but we work hard and I’m hoping that both my team and I improve from last year throughout the season.” Due to all the hard work the team has showed, coach Aaron Pollock foresees a great season. “The divers had a ton of fun last year and pushed themselves to overcome both fear and pain to improve their skills and variety of dives,” he said. “We are fully expecting to do the same this year and are off to a wonderful start.” Last year, the team had two boys and three girls in the finals of the league and those divers as well as the team, are ready to begin another dedicated season of rewarding training.
The varsity lacrosse team is excited to up their game this season. The team started off with non-league matches against Santa Catalina, Palo Alto and Notre Dame. They lost to Santa Catalina and Palo Alto, but came up on top against Notre Dame. Some areas that the team hopes to improve in include teamwork and the basic skills of the game such as throwing and catching. Team members also hope to be more intense and aggressive on the field. During practice, the girls run seven versus seven drills, which is the lacrosse equivalent of half court basketball. According to senior Kelsey Cranmer-Brown, there is a substantial amount of work to do to improve. “Our coach always said that responsibility is a really important thing,” she said. “And since we have a lot of new people, we need to rebuild the team and we need to work together to strengthen ourselves.” As team captain, Cranmer-Brown encourages team members to push themselves to try their hardest. She also fills in for coach Pete Carolan when he is absent. “Sometimes I have to be very bossy and not very nice, but I just really want to teach the girls and to give my experience to them, to help them improve and develop as strong athletes,” she said. “The team already has a lot of potential to do really well, but we still need to learn the strategy of the game to work well together.”
Photos by Ivan Yong
Top: Junior Simon Kaubisch serves while doubles partner senior Carter Deggleman gets ready for a volley. Bottom: Senior Sean Hodson steps up to the plate while the rest of the varsity baseball team stands to inspect.
With a few players arriving late from other sports, the boys’ tennis team has had a slow but steady start to their season. Despite the absence of these players, head coach Jim Gorman has a clear idea of the overall talent and skill of the team. “We have depth, some really good freshman and ranked players,” Gorman said. “This year’s team is pretty strong, and we just need to play well, have some solid doubles, win some singles and try to duplicate what we did last year.” Last year, the team placed eighth in CCS, tied for second in the league, and won the Fresno tournament. They hope to place in the the top 16 in CCS again this year. However, the team was not able to defend its title in the Fresno tournament this year and placed 8th out of 108 teams. “Out of all 35 matches, we had 20 third set tiebreakers and only won two,” Gorman said. “Most of the tiebreakers were extremely close though, like 12-10.” According to Gorman, the team did well overall “Our biggest challenge this season and stayed focused on is staying strong both in our game their matches. and also in our attitude. It has “In general, the team has been doing a great been tough because a lot of our job of helping each other players are injured, but we’re just out and supporting each going to fight and try our other,” Gorman said. “I’m hardest.” excited to see what we can Rajeev Herekar (11) accomplish this season.”
According to junior Claire Reyes, the gymnastics team is ready to start fresh and bring home new wins. “Gunn was league champs last year, and we finished second at CCS Championships,” coach Ericka Fusilero said. The team agrees that they performed well. “We were pretty good last season, and I’m hoping that we can get ours skills back and and improve on them,” Reyes said. Their rigorous workouts demonstrated their determination. “During a typical practice, we do some light conditioning and stretching to warm up, then we do some hard core conditioning, and finally we move on to the events and practice our routines,” junior gymnast Aja Hartman said. As far as meets are concerned, there haven’t been any so far but their first is against Cupertino and Homestead at their home turf Twisters Gym. “Gunn away games are my favorite, the car rides are bonding experiences, but home games are good too,” Reyes said. Fusilero has a positive outlook on the team this season. “They are very dedicated and a hard working team. I’m sure their hard work will pay off this year,” she said. “[The gymnastics team] exists and we compete at Twisters,” Reyes said. “We’d appreciate more sports and recognition from the Gunn community. If people want to join, they should because you don’t need any experience, it is really fun, you meet new people and it is not a enormous time consuming sport.”
The baseball team’s goals are to get back into the De Anza League as well as to make it into the CCS playoffs. Last season the team was in the De Anza League but was bumped down to the lower El Camino League. According to senior Jonathan Jung, last year’s team was not expected to win many games. “Some players in the De Anza league have received scholarships to play baseball in Division I schools,” Jung said. Last year, the seniors on the team carried the team, but this year, all players must contribute. With many lessons learned from last year, the players have high hopes for a better season. In order to reach the De Anza League, the team must come in first or second in the El Camino League. However, being the lower division, El Camino has lower level teams than De Anza. “There aren’t as much overly powering players in the El Camino league,” Jung said. Despite being 6-20 last season, the team has learned from the games and intend to use those moves in the games for this season. In addition to improving its game through new plans and moves, the new field has greatly helped the team. According to Jung, the field last year had major inconveniences. “Last year a routine pop fly would turn out to be a home run,” Jung said, “However, with the farther fences this year it will stop that from happening.”
—Compiled by Tiffany Hu, Elaine Liu, Alvin Man and Emily Zheng
March Madness, an annual basketball tournament run by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) has taken place since 1939. The tournament has 65 teams for men’s basketball and 64 for women’s. The bottom two teams in the opening round’s “play-in” game determines which team advances to the rest of the tournament. Each team is eliminated after losing a game. For over three weeks, matches take place across America leading up to the Sweet Sixteen, the Elite Eight, the Final Four and then the Championship game. This year’s tournament bracket was announced March 15, and the first game will kickoff on March 19. The men’s Final Four will play in Detroit, Michigan on April 4 and 6. The women’s championship bracket will be hosted in St. Louis, Missouri.
’s r o it ck d E Pi
Phil Giori Senior Phil Giori’s picks for the Final Four are Pittsburgh, Oklahoma, North Carolina and Louisville. His top pick is the Pittsburgh Panthers. According to Giori, the team dominates because of both their offensive and defensive capabilities. “I’d say Pitt is the most complete team in college basketball,” Giori said. Pittsburgh has even defeated the number one ranked team at the time, Connecticut. Giori sees the Oklahoma Sooners in the Final Four because Player of the Year candidate Blake Griffin is their forward. With Griffin averaging 22 points and 13 rebounds per game, his performance is vital for Oklahoma. Giori also selected the North Carolina Tar Heels to face off in the Finals. The Tar Heels have starters scoring double digits each game and have ended the regular season as the number one team. “They’ve got a lot of talent and were preseason number one,” he said. Besides the three major powerhouses, Giori’s fourth pick may be a surprise. His final choice is the Louisville Cardinals. “I thought Louisville would be a sleeper, and I still think they get overlooked, but they just won the Big East so that will get them some attention,” he said. “I can see them making the Final Four.” Despite being a Stanford fan, Giori is skeptical on whether it will make the cut this year. However, he is still looking forward to any exciting upsets in the tournament.
Freshman Brian Yu’s picks for this years tournament are North Carolina, Oklahoma, Louisville and Pittsburgh. According to Yu, the North Carolina Panthers are a shoe-in for the Final Four because of star players, Tyler Hansbrough and Ty Lawson. “Ty Lawson’s sashing abilities allow him to kick it out to their three point shooters,” Yu said. “No one in the country has been able to efficiently stop Tyler Hansbrough.” Hansbrough and Lawson average 21 and 16 points per game, respectively. Yu has also chosen the Oklahoma Sooners to cruise into the finals due to their constant offensive action. “Blake Griffin and his brother [Taylor Griffin] are a dominating inside presence,” he said. “Blake Griffin’s presence opens up shots for sharpshooting Austin Johnson.” Under the Griffins, Oklahoma has been 27-4 overall this season. Yu believes the Louisville Cardinals are probably the most complete team in the nation. “They spread the rock around and balance out the scoring, and having amazing guard play and defense.” Yu’s fourth and final pick is the Pittsburgh Panthers, a team with their own highlighting stars. “Dejuan Blair’s dominating inside presence, Sam Young’s great shooting and athleticism, coupled with Levance Fields leading the country in assists to turnover ratio [make Pittsburgh] a very complete team.”
This year’s March Madness features some of the closest competition in recent memory. My top picks for teams to go to the Final Four are North Carolina, Pittsburgh, Connecticut and Wake Forest. However, there are definitely other teams to look out for such as Louisville, Memphis and Oklahoma. Overall, this year college hoops fans can expect plenty of upsets and underdog stories. North Carolina boasts the most complete starting line-up in the entire league. North Carolina has the second highest scoring and complements that by being the best rebounding team. On the whole, North Carolina has a good shot to win the championship simply by being the most balanced team out there. Pittsburgh and Connecticut both have equally strong chances to win the championship. Pittsburgh has single-handedly beaten Connecticut both times, but at the same time Connecticut has held the number one spot much longer this season. Coming from the tough Big East conference, both teams will go deep into the tournament. My final pick is a surprise team to watch: Wake Forest. They have beaten North Carolina and held the number one spot in the rankings this year. With a superstar in Jeff Teague, a solid supporting cast and great defense, they have a solid shot at reaching the Final Four if not the championship.
Faces in “Which team will you be rooting for?” the Crowd: “UCLA because my friend [Ryan Teranishi] is a die hard fan and I want his team to win.”
Hannah Riley (9)
“North Carolina obviously. North Carolina dominates.”
Caitlin Levinson (10)
“Marquette because Dominic James is an amazing player. 5’11”, but can dunk like there’s no tomorrow.”
Bharat Reddy (11)
“Oklahoma. I like their best player Blake Griffin.”
Ryan Miller (12) Graphic by Brian Phan
—Compiled by Aviel Chang and Kevin Gao