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Looking back at community performances

A visual glance into the winter sports season

Behind the scenes of Harker’s holiday traditions



VOL. 20 NO. 3






Over 4,000 firefighers battled the Camp Fire, California’s most devastating wildfire to date.

STAYING SAFE FROM THE AIR Freshman Daniel Wu wears a mask to protect from unhealthy air quality during lunch on Friday, Nov. 16.

eric fang & arushi saxena news editor & global editor

The Camp Fire, just north of Sacramento, has razed over 152,000 acres and 16,838 buildings in Butte County. The death toll of the fire now stands at 85, while 11 people are still unaccounted for as of Dec. 4. The Camp Fire began on Nov. 8 in the Sierra Nevada foothills. High winds augmented by low humidity and dry terrain contributed to its rapid spread. Cal Fire is currently speculating as to the origins of the blaze, with an ongoing investigation into Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E), as the company failed to shut off power after a Red Flag Warning went into effect. Smoke from the Camp Fire blanketed the Northern California skies and tainted the air for miles. Spare the Air days were in effect nearly everyday during the 17 days of the fire’s duration, with the AQI indicating “Hazardous” and “Very Unhealthy” air qualities for the Bay Area until Nov. 22, prompting several school closures and the distribution of face masks. “Rainy day” procedures were followed, with students required to stay indoors at all times. School remained open for Harker students through Nov. 16. In Butte County and Paradise, several reunions have begun to take place. The city of Paradise has kept up a list of people and pets reported missing on their Facebook page, but damage repair is speculated to take over two years. Currently 100 percent contained, with the help of seven inches of heavy rain

extinguishing hotspots last weekend, firefighters have made significant progress in containing the Camp Fire. “Our firefighters did their best to put out the blaze as soon as possible, but there were a lot of other factors that affected our citizens even after the fire was fully contained,” Butte County Assistant Fire Chief David Hawks said in an interview with the Winged Post. “Our department is still working to help everyone affected, and we will do all that we can to prevent another disaster like this in the future.” In addition to the Camp Fire, the Southern California, Woolsey Fire scorched 97,000 acres of land in Malibu. Harker alumna Priscilla Pan (‘15), who is a senior at the University of Southern California (USC), was affected by thick smoke from the Woolsey Fire, which forced many of her fellow students to evacuate their homes. “I walked outside my house, and the sky was completely orange at 4 p.m.,” Pan said. “USC had a football game that day,

and as I walked to campus and could smell the fire and see ash falling on the students, and several of my friends weren’t willing to go to the game because of the air quality.” Head Athletic Trainer Jaron Olson’s parents were residents of the town of Paradise, and they lost their homes in the wildfire. He felt that his parents only regretted not taking more of their more precious belongings with them before they left. “My parents were fortunate enough to make the decision to evacuate ear-

ly in the day so they grabbed their dogs, grabbed their suitcase and their most precious, most sentimental things,” Olson said. “But I think as they drove away, it kind of dawned on them that they should have grabbed this or grabbed that.” As people begin to return to the scorched landscape to survey the damage, over 26,000 citizens have been left homeless in the fire’s wake. FEMA officials and several shelters and humanitarian organizations are also collecting donations and funds to help the victims.

“My parents were fortunate enough to make the decision to evacuate early in the day. But as they drove away, it kind of dawned on them that they should have grabbed this or grabbed that.” JARON OLSON


HOW TO HELP Upcoming campus fundraisers

Charity organizations

Campus donation spots

Volunteer organizations

Student council snack bar (until Dec. 13) Freshman council fundraiser (Dec. 10-14) Red Cross Club fundraiser (until Dec. 7)

FINE PARTICLES The Air Quality Index on Nov. 14 warned San Jose residents of unhealthy air conditions.

Journalism room (Ms. Austin) Community service office (Ms. Enzensperger) Alumni Relations office (Ms. Alaniz)

Paradise Fire Adopt-a-Family (Facebook) Direct Relief California Wildfires Fund North Valley Community Foundation

American Red Cross Caring Choices Emergency Center Airbnb Wildfire Evacuee Program


Executive News Editor Ryan Guan News Editor Eric Fang Global Editor Arushi Saxena Features Editor Gloria Zhang Assistant Features Editor Sara Yen Lifestyle Editor Jin Tuan Opinion Editor Srinath Somasundaram STEM Editor Arya Maheshwari Sports Editor Aditya Singhvi Copy Editors Varsha Rammohan Anjay Saklecha Photo Editor Irina Malyugina Staff Illustrator Nina Gee Columnists Michael Eng Saloni Shah Anjay Saklecha Jin Tuan Kushal Shah Helen Yang Adviser Ellen Austin, MJE Aquila Editor-in-Chief Nicole Chen Aquila Managing Editor & Humans of Harker Editor Kathy Fang Assistant Humans of Harker Editor Saloni Shah


Sriya Batchu Emily Tan Erica Cai Saurav Tewari Catherine Feng Jay Thilking Lucy Ge Nicole Tian Esha Gohil Hunter Tucker Mark Hu Jessie Wang Vishnu Kannan Daniel Wu Alysa Su Irene Yuan Arely Sun Gloria Zhu Muthu Panchanatham Anika Rajamani Anna Vazhaeparambil Anmol Velagapudi

QUADCHELLA Talent show features comedy, poetry, music and juggling erica cai & esha gohil & helen yang reporters & lifestyle columnist

With comedy skits, music and original works of art, the third Quadchella featured 11 performances from both students and faculty members during long lunch on Nov. 8 in the quad and welcomed all members of the Harker community. “The goal is to enhance solidarity among the student community,” junior class president Avi Gulati, one of the main coordinators of the event, said. “Quadchella is an interactive event where students, faculty and staff can showcase talents, hobbies, basically anything to the student body.” Unlike the annual Hoscars talent show, Quadchella does not require auditions, giving anyone who signs up the chance to showcase their talents or hobbies in a more casual environment. “[Quadchella] is a really fun way to show the student body and the different people at Harker,” said Tamar Sasson (12), who recited “Conversation with America,” her poem addressing political topics such as gun violence. “I don’t think there is any real embarrassment to it… It’s just a fun way to get to know others.” ASB Vice President and Student Event Committee Head Shania Wang (12) initially introduced Quadchella in November last year, and it has since then grown in popularity.


Editors-in-Chief Prameela Kottapalli Katherine Zhang


GOING WITH THE FLOW Staff photographer Mark Kocina performs his juggling act during Quadchella on Thursday. The song “Take On Me” by a-ha accompanied his act.

“The reason behind Quadchella was because we felt that there was a lack of a platform for performers to share their talents,” Shania said. “There are a lot of talented people in the community, both students and faculty, so Quadchella is meant to serve as an outlet for them.” In addition to the performances, student council organized booths with free face painting, flash tattoos and laptop stickers, and the Women in STEM club sold coffee, iced tea and popcorn as part of their club week fundraising. Despite

successfully running the third Quadchella, student council hopes to further expand and improve Quadchella. “For future Quadchellas, I envision more students showing up, and I’d like to have time restrictions on the acts,” Avi said. Student council plans to host the next Quadchella on May 2 to ease student stress before AP exams. Students can visit to sign up for performance slots.

CAPTIVATED Helen Zhu (10) and Emma Gurleroglu (9) watch the Quadchella acts during long lunch.


KEEPING IT COOL William Rainow plays the cello in the previous Quadchella.

DECA, spirit club host “Hoops and Scoops” fundraiser nicole tian reporter

DECA held a fundraiser in conjunction with Spirit Council named Hoops and Scoops inside the Athletic Center on Tuesday, Nov. 27 during lunch. The event raised money towards the Muscular Dystrophy Association. Players in previous years participated in different sports such as soccer and dodgeball. This is the first time that DECA will be holding a knockout game as opposed to a basketball game because of safety reasons. “I guess now we didn’t want to do a full-on basketball game just because there’s been so many injuries in the past,” said president of DECA Shania Wang(12). “So we changed it to knockout this year because knockout doesn’t have full-on contact.” Representatives from each class, including four students and two faculty members, competed in the knockout

game. Winners were determined through each of the four games starting with freshmen against juniors and rotating through each of the grades. Prizes include earning spirit points for each class. In addition to the sports event, DECA sold ice cream sandwiches from CREAM for five dollars, in which the proceeds would go towards the Muscular Dystrophy Association. Organizing for this event, along with November’s DECA month, has been long in planning. “First we had to reach out to Mr. Keller [during the first week of October] to see if he’d be okay with a student-faculty event going on, and after Mr. Keller, we reached out to spirit so that we could partner together,” Shania said. DECA hopes to reach out to the Harker community through events like these and spread awareness about how students and faculty can help benefit agencies such as the MDA.


2018-2019 Crown Finalist 2017-2018 NSPA Pacemaker 2017-2018 NSPA Best-in-show publication 2017-2018 Gold Crown 2016-2017 NSPA Pacemaker Finalist 2016-2017 Silver Crown

LIVING THE MOMENT Learning, Innovation and Design Director Diane Main performs “Shallow” by Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper.


The Winged Post is published every four to six weeks except during vacations by the Journalism: Newspaper Concentration and Advanced Journalism: Newspaper Concentration courses at The Harker Upper School, 500 Saratoga Ave., San Jose, CA 95129. The Winged Post staff will publish features, editorials, news, sports and STEM articles in an unbiased and professional manner and serve as a public forum for the students of The Harker School. Editorials represent the official opinions of The Winged Post. Opinions and letters represent the personal viewpoints of the writers and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of The Winged Post. All content decisions are made by student editors, and the content of The Winged Post in no way reflects the official policy of The Harker School. The opinions expressed in this publication reflect those of the student writers and not the Harker board, administration, faculty or adviser. Letters to the Editor may be submitted to Manzanita 70 or emailed to wingedpost2019@ and must be signed, legible and concise. The staff reserves the right to edit letters to conform to Post style. Baseless accusations, insults, libelous statements, obscenities and letters that call for a disruption of the school day will not be considered for publication. Letters sent to The Winged Post will be published at the discretion of the editorial staff. The Winged Post is the official student newspaper of The Harker School and is distributed free of cost to students.


Visit The Winged Post Online at Follow us on social media with the handle /harkeraquila


$261 61 Raised


SWISH Richard Wang (12) shoots from the three-point line in the final matchup with William Chien (9). The seniors won Hoops and Scoops, with the freshmen coming in second, the sophomores placing third and the juniors falling to last.


Q&A with David Hogg and Emma Gonzalez David Hogg and Emma Gonzalez are Parkland survivors who helped launch the #NeverAgain movement to combat gun violence in schools. This interview was conducted by members of the 2017-2018 Winged Post staff last spring after the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School (MSD) on Feb. 14. Winged Post: What would you say to people our age, teenagers, who either want to send support MSD or want to be more politically active? David Hogg: Get registered to vote, first off. Make sure you’re registered. I believe in California you can probably get registered at 16 — the Motor Voter Act. Then, obviously, get out there and vote. Make sure you become a politically active individual by sending letters to your congressmen, calling them every single day until literally any legislation has passed, and holding your elected officials accountable. Doing your homework on them, making sure you know how they’re funded and things like that. Emma Gonzalez: Find a good platform, find good people around you, check on the fact that there’s going to be a lot of people who don’t support you, you need to remember to ignore those people, and that if they’re not directly impacted by whatever your topic is, they don’t matter. WP: Why do you think politicians don’t care about gun laws? DH: Because they care about money. They’ve been habituated and manipulated by power. And they’ve succumbed to the illusion that power even exists. That’s really what’s going on here. I want you guys to feel the blood coursing through your veins right now. These people don’t have that. They have cold, hard cash, and that’s the only thing that they see or feel. EG: They’re too easily influenced by money, and they’re not listening to the people who voted them into office in the first place. They don’t seem to care about the young voters because they think that the old voters will hold them up, but they forget that the old voters are parents, and that their kids are incredibly influential, especially at this point in time. WP: With the different people within your own community stepping up, how has that support for your school in the wake of this helped? DH: We’re coming a lot closer together and realizing we can make a lot of beans out of this and turn this into a main great change. We’re pissed off so we just got to learn to live, laugh and learn to get through this together. EG: There are so many parents who are just so kind, and so many students who are saying ‘Thank you’ and asking how they can get involved, and you know, I don’t know what is going to happen to Parkalnd, but at least right now, it’s very strong.

eric fang & varsha rammohan news editor & copy editor

Moorpark College student Noel Sparks was spending her evening at Borderline Bar & Grill’s college country and line dancing night when a man dressed in dark clothes opened fire on the crowd with a pistol equipped with an extended magazine, according to witness accounts. Sparks, along with 11 others, were shot and killed at the bar in Thousand Oaks, CA, on Wednesday, Nov. 7. Less than two weeks prior to the shooting, 11 people were killed and six were injured at a mass shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, PA. “I am sad, and I am angry that [shootings] keep happening. With the hate crime at the synagogue, the media just said he was mentally ill,” said senior Tamar Sas-

“Change is a goal that many students who are still at our school have. The midterms had both successes and failures.” MELISSA FALKOSWKI

MARJORY STONEMAN DOUGLAS JOURNALISM ADVISER son, who recently wrote a poem about gun violence in America for Quadchella. “Maybe he was, but he was also outwardly anti-Semitic, and it was very obvious that what he was doing was probably out of anger more than anything, and that is a hate crime, it is a terror attack.” The two shootings represent mere specks in what is a rapidly growing problem in the United States: gun violence. In a country with few restrictions on gun ownership, Americans suffered 30 mass shootings in the month of October, according to statistics from the Gun Violence Archive.

eart The of Harker

America tackles Although Congress has enacted littleits growing gun prob gun legislation to confront this issue, activists across the country have protested a lack of “common sense” gun laws, which mainly revolve around restricting guns to the mentally ill and previously incarcerated individuals who have a history of violence. These protests culminated in the March For Our Lives Movement, organized by Parkland survivors, where thousands of protesters took to the streets last spring. The hashtags #NeverAgain and #EnoughIsEnough were also used on social media sites thousands of times following the shooting. In a phone interview with Melissa Falkowski, the journalism adviser at Marjory Stoneman Douglas (MSD) High School, she discussed the continued efforts of students combating gun violence in schools. “Obviously, change is a goal that many students who are still at our school have. The midterms had both successes and failures. I think a lot of us are focused on all the firsts that were achieved,” she said. “The House is going to be the most diverse it has ever been. Twenty-seven NRA backed candidates were defeated. I read last week that the NRA is letting staff go because they are losing revenue as they lose more and more members. That’s pretty significant.” To mark the one-month anniversary of the Parkland shooting, thousands of students from high schools participated in a nationwide walkout. Students at Columbine High School, which experienced a mass shooting in 1999, organized a “Vote for Our Lives” rally the day before to encourage eligible youth to register to vote. On Nov. 21, members of the faculty at MSD staged a walkout to protest the reassignment of four teachers, with was done in response to the February shooting. “The school district came in last Monday and reassigned three of our assistant principals and our security specialist while they investigate them for potential wrongdoing leading up to 2/14 and on 2/14,” Falkowski said. “Our school community is still reeling from that and I think that at this particular moment, we are focused on making it day to day in this tumultuous time.” To see the Winged Post staff’s Spring 2018 coverage of the #NeverAgain movement, visit

Value of a Killing Machine

tamar sasson guest writer

Poet’s note: At Quadchella, I read a poem that conveyed my anger with the overall curent state of America. The poem included my views on gun violence, immigration policies and inequality. After being interviewed about my opinions on gun violence (see above), I realized I had many thoughts on the subject, so I decided to let them flow freely in the best way I know how: through poetry. “Love trumps hate,” so they said. But does it really? If love overpowered every human emotion, Then how come more than 300 people acted so violently with hate? If love was truly so easy and natural to feel, Then why do those who are angry go out and remove love from the world? Each day, my fear grows like an exponential graph,

And with every headline that states “another,” My hope for humanity diminishes like a birthday candle. It seems odd to me that I need to beg on my knees To not be killed while shopping for milk or learning about the trees, And it’s especially odd to me that women go to h*** and back To let go of something they do not want to have While those who want to purchase a war weapon Can do so by walking down the street. Why do souls hold less value than a killing machine? And why do people think it’s controversial to lessen the amount of deceased? If the problem has become so pervasive That we train dogs and teenagers to save lives during the dangerous event, Then those who do not think we need some solution Must be living inside their own heads.








For art teacher, there’s no place like home “She would be holding the rejection letter, even before she could even hear what you had to say or tell her the reason you have to visit and all that, so that was less than four minutes

FAMILY REUNITED Jaap, Ou and Michelle Bongers pose for a photograph in Jaap Bonger’s classroom. They are moving to Botswana next summer.

out of her day. I just went home, heartbroken.”


OREBOTSE “OU” BONGERS MOTHER AND RECENT IMMIGRANT gloria zhang & arely sun features editor & reporter

Upper school art teacher Jaap Bongers and his wife, Orebotse “Ou” Bongers, fumbleD with a gray stuffed bunny, as they tried—unsuccessfully— to make their baby Michelle smile. They came a long way, finally reunited as family, after a lengthy process with immigration. Over the past 30 years, the Bongers family went through two processes of immigration: one deeply different from the other. Jaap Bongers, born in the Netherlands, immigrated to the U.S. in 1987 after he met his ex-wife. Similar to all immigration processes, he had plenty of documents to fill out. “You follow the list of required documents, and no matter what, they’ll always at the end say where is this [or] that document. ‘Well, that was not on the list’, and they say, ‘well, you have to have that,’” he said. “And it’s all about discouraging— they’ll discourage you. But at that time, this was 1987.” Years later, Jaap Bongers, now a naturalized citizen, married Ou Bongers, who is from Botswana. They decided to start the process of immigrating. The first time Ou Bongers tried to visit Jaap Bongers in the U.S. after they were engaged, she was told to obtain a visitor’s visa. After collecting her documents and going on a 10-hour-long bus ride to the American Embassy in Botswana, she arrived at the interview site—and her visa was rejected. “I was there for not even three or four minutes, but she didn’t even look at me, she just looked through the papers. They put the rejection on the left and the other one on the right.” Ou Bongers said, “She would be holding the rejection letter, even before she could even hear what you had

to say or tell her the reason you have to visit, so then, that was less than four minutes out of her day. I just went home, heartbroken because I really wanted to come see Jaap because he was my fiancee.” After Jaap and Ou Bongers got married in Botswana, they decided to try again. Yet, Ou Bongers was rejected again, informed by the embassy that they didn’t believe her plan to return. Jaap Bongers noted the factor that ethnicity played in the process of obtaining visas. “In the meantime in the same waiting room, there were a handful [of ] white people who live in Botswana and have a Botswana passport. They wanted to go to America. And they say family visits, friend [visits], vacation and all the different reasons. They only glanced at their documents and boom stamp. They went right through,” he said. After unsuccessful attempts to attain a visitors visa to see her husband, Ou Bongers was informed by the immigration officer, who gave her a website, to obtain a K1 visa, a visa for a fiancé or fiancée of a US citizen. However, the website did not help her. Instead, Jaap Bongers started the green card process in the U.S.—a process that took over a year. The Bongers family finally reunited in the U.S. after Ou Bongers obtained her green card recently. However, disheartened by the immigration process and looking for a different lifestyle, they are planning to return to Botswana after this school year. “It’s nice to experience something different like this. I’m open to anything that comes my way. I’ve always been like that. Most importantly for me, I’m taking my family with me [when we’re leaving]. That’s very important.” Ou Bongers said, “Here, I would say, I don’t feel at home. Everything here has to be done by the books, people are not so relaxed, [and] everything’s like boom boom boom.”

In part 2 of a 5-part series on immigration, the Bongers family shares their story.





Reacting to disasters that affect us

What have we done? prameela kottapali & katherine zhang editors-in-chief


We turned 20!

While the Camp Fire in northern California and the Hill Fire and Woolsey Fire in southern California destroyed over 1,100 homes and left tens of thousands homeless, they also produced toxic smoke that clouded the streets of the Bay Area. Many in the Harker community and elsewhere in the Bay Area wore masks or stayed at home to avoid air that was “very unhealthy” at times, according to experts. It’s entirely reasonable to be concerned about the air quality and to worry about its impact on our health. It’s even understandable to envy other schools in the area that had days off. And, after a long string of wildfires, it’s not uncommon to feel the loss of motivation known as “disaster fatigue.”

So we must make a decision: do we actively combat apathy with empathy and fight disaster fatigue, or do we resign ourselves to it? It’s easy to choose the latter, especially when it’s been so long and we feel so disconnected– after a rainy day brought our air quality back to normal, we returned to our daily routines. While our lives haven’t changed drastically, others’ lives have. What we feel won’t change that, so it’s our responsibility to give. With that being said, here are some ways to fight disaster fatigue, and, in the process, make a tangible difference in someone’s life: Donate. Whether it’s to the American Red Cross or a campus-based fundraiser,

donating money is the best way to aid relief efforts. Before making contributions, research organizations to ensure that your donation is put to good use. See page one for a list of charities and donation spots. Volunteer. Donating time can be every bit as beneficial as donating money. Visit a shelter over the weekend to find out what how your efforts can make an impact. Reach out. Call family members and friends who live in wildfire-affected areas, even if you think that they weren’t directly harmed. A phone call, a text message, an email, even a few compassionate words– our active support is the best way to show others that we care and that we’re thinking of them in times of difficulty.

Affirmative Action: Stop racial quotas, start race-conscious thinking gloria zhang features editor

“First things first, you should know that you need to work twice—no thrice— as hard as any other white person. And I say this not because you don’t work hard, but that is what society recognizes.” And that was what my first meeting with my Asian college counselor pertained to. As a 15-year-old, my older brother ‘s counselors informed us that it was late for him to develop strong talents to impress the Ivy League universities. So his counselors turned to me, only seven years old, informing my parents about developing a skill that would make me stand out.

DEFINITION Affirmative Action (n): programs for counteracting the effects of discrimination in education towards certain minority groups The original aim of Affirmative Action, an outcome from the 1960s civil rights movement, was to diversify schools and employment opportunities, especially for African Americans. Yet, now Affirmative Action is regarded as unjust. As per the words by the supporters of the lawsuit against Harvard University, “Stop Asian Quota.” Yes, Ivies, stop the quota. Stop thinking about only admitting a certain number of Asians per year. But that does not mean stop being racially conscious. Being racially conscious means being cognizant of the challenges individuals face due to systems of discriminatory inequalities. What many Asian Americans regard as most unfair is the fact that it is more difficult for an Asian to be accepted into an Ivy League school than any other racial groups, including Caucasians. Yet, as a minority group, Asian Americans are also


subject to racism, prejudice and other difficulties. A study by the Pew Research Center on Asian Americans revealed that 19% of Asians Americans “have personally experienced discrimination in the past year”. Furthermore, many come from first, second or third generation immigrants whose parents or grandparents arrived to a new country alone in search of a better life for their families. This acceptance difficulty is partially credited to the Asian quota, but also extends from innate biases in the admission process. William Fitzsimmons, the dean of admissions at Harvard, revealed in the trial that Asian students are held to a higher standard. For example, in the case of PSAT scores, an Asian male needs at least a 1380 to receive an interest letter or a recruitment letter from Harvard. However, a member of a Hispanic, Black, Native American or other minority group only needs to score 1100. Additionally, in sparse country or rural states in America, white and “other” students only need a 1310, but not to Asians. Moreover, information from an analysis of over 160,000 student records revealed that Harvard rated Asian students lower on certain positive traits, such as likability, courage, kindness and “positive personality.” Harvard’s stance is that this ruling against this school hurts diversity. And yes, Harvard is correct in this statement. Ending Affirmative Action will definitely hurt minority groups. “No one should be admitted to a school purely based on their race,” Hasan Minhaj said on Netflix’s Patriot Act. As per his words, this large debate shouldn’t be about whether a quota on a certain group should exist or not, but rather how colleges should be more racially conscious towards all people. Mentioning quotas doesn’t help and neither do character prejudices. However, being racially conscious, not racially prejudiced, is vital to the fairness and quality of higher education.

Another month gone by, another reporter materializing in front of your eyes to hand you a copy of the Winged Post. You take it (of course) and scan the front page — but wait. Where is the green “Winged Post” splayed horizontally across the top of the front page? What happened to the page numbers? And the page size? What about the SIZE? No, the world hasn’t turned upside down, and yes, we will explain. Every tiny modification, from the spacing between our lines to the opacity of our grey boxes, was mulled over, painstakingly decided by a team of staff designers and editors. And so, after a month-and-a-half of a fairly intensive redesign process, we present you, our readers, with Issue 3 of the Winged Post. Okay, so what exactly did we change? Our newspaper is no longer the size of a small freshman, for starters. We’ve completely restructured our paper — with a smaller format comes fewer columns, different fonts in our style repertoire and less text per page. There’s a method behind this madness. As student-journalists, we understand it’s our duty to serve our school community as best we can, and this reformatting helps us do just that. We want to give you stories that go more in-depth into issues that you care about. In this issue of the paper, for instance, we’ve devoted a page to telling the story of one of our teachers’ family’s struggles with immigration. We’ve dedicated a special section to discussing both the midterm elections and the stories of first-time student voters. So yes, the format in which we’re telling stories has changed. But our content redesign is far from over. Within the next two months, we’ll be inviting focus groups– consisting of you, our readers– into the journalism room for feedback and discussions about our coverage.

No, the world hasn’t turned upside down, and yes, we will explain. We hope to use your insights both to better represent Harker and to improve the overall reading experience of our paper. Just as every source matters in the stories we publish, every voice in our community matters, and we hope to ensure that all voices are heard through the implementation of focus groups. Issue 3 marks the structural starting point that sets us on the course of a broader, more community-based redesign in coming months. With only four issues left, we know there’s still a lot to do, but we also know that it’s about time. We’d like to end by reaffirming that change is, by no means, a one-time thing. The Winged Post is vastly different from what it was 19 years ago, and it will continue to evolve to reflect the time and the people in our community long after this year ends. But for now, we can’t wait to hear from you. As always, whether it’s about content, design, writing a guest column or being part of a focus group, feel free to reach out to us by email at


Perspectives Honduran Migrant Caravan Does it pose a danger to the United States?


Caravan may cause immigration issues


Mexicali 5. Nov. 25

news editor

Contrary to the political rhetoric of many prominent right-wing politicians, the caravan does not pose an immediate threat to the United States. However, the precedent the caravan sets for large

The United States shut down the border crossing near Tijuana and San Diego in both directions and used tear gas to control migrants.

The migrant caravan arrived in Tijuana and waited for caravan leaders to arrive and help them obtain asylum.

Future caravans will, undoubtedly, escalate the tensions on both sides of the nation’s southern border.

3. Nov. 5

The main part of the caravan consisting of around 4,700 people reached Mexico City after over 20 days of walking.













migrants have received humanitarian visas from Mexico

Eric Fang (11) and Srinath Somasundaram (10) debate the migrant caravan, which began in Honduras on Oct. 12 and has been a national point of contention ever since.

small minority, obtains asylum and gains entrance to the United States, more and more impoverished individuals living in third world countries throughout central and south America would be incentivized to make the perilous trek north. The increasingly common caravans that each contain thousands of migrants would create longer and longer wait lines in processing centers across the southern border, straining governmental resources.

4. Nov. 13


In our repeating column Perspectives, two reporters with contrasting viewpoints discuss an issue of prominence in the local or broader community. We hope to use these multiple views to provoke deeper thought among the student body and help readers explore new perspectives.

numbers of migrants attempting to enter the United States can potentially pose a threat to asylum processing centers along the southern border. If a portion of the caravan, although it would certainly be a

eric fang



Mexico City 2. Oct. 29


President Trump sent 5,200 active duty troops to “harden” the border in addition to the 2,100 National Guard troops in place.

Caravan poses no threat to country of immigrants srinath somasundaram opinion editor

The Honduran migrant caravan does not pose any danger to the United States. When inspecting the issue, it’s important to remember that those in the caravan are immigrants, not criminals nor soldiers. President Trump often conflates the two calling the caravan an “invasion” and an “assault on our country.” He has even directed the army to support the border, though they are not allowed to act as a police force by law. Prior to the midterms, House of Representatives minority leader Nancy Pelosi said, “Clearly, Republicans will do absolutely anything to divert attention away from their votes to take away Americans’ health care.” She, herself, was diverting attention away from a serious immigration topic in an effort to continue the Democratic momentum into the midterms. Both these approaches pandered to xenophobia in order to gain a political advantage, and in doing so, they have portrayed the caravan as an immigration crisis that our country faces. In reality, the only immigration crisis is the mindset around the topic. The very thing that makes America great is its immigrants; a country created by those fleeing persecution must be more understanding when foreigners in search of a better life. The caravan of migrants in the recent days has caused a sharp escalation of tensions around the southern border. While

the first groups of people that arrived were being processed as asylum seekers, American authorities threw tear gas at a group of unarmed migrants trying to enter the country illegally in an effort to protest a slow asylum process. Furthermore, President Trump has threatened to close the southern border. All this response begs the question of why. Why are the country and its elected official so scared of potential immigrants?

There are laws in place for the protection of both Americans and immigrants. The caravan is only a crisis if immigration itself is a danger to our country, and that is simply untrue. Immigrants are extremely important and valuable contributing members of society. According to a study published by the Cato Institute in 2018, there were fifty-six and eighty-five percent fewer criminal convictions in the state of Texas for undocumented immigrants and documented immigrants, respectively, when compared to native-born Americans. Additionally, according to a study published in the journal Criminology, from 1990 to 2014, states

In addition to backing up immigration processing centers, migrants who are not granted asylum may attempt to enter the country illegally out of desperation. An example would be when hundreds of migrants rushed the border near the San Ysidro point of entry on Nov. 25, breaking down some barriers and throwing a few projectiles at border security agents. The agents responded by shooting tear gas into the group that contained numerous women and children. The recent anti-migrant protests in the Mexican city of Tijuana is another example of civil unrest stemming from Central American caravans. The situation has worsened to the point that the mayor of Tijuana declared a humanitarian crisis and asked the United Nations for aid. Thus, future caravans will undoubtedly escalate the tensions on both sides of the nation’s southern border. Although the intentions of finding an improved home, a safer community and a better job are respectable, the many issues that arise prior to the migrant caravan’s possible entrance into the country could be problematic for both the United States and Mexico.


San Pedro Sula 1. Oct. 12

Migrants from El Salvador, Guatamala and Honduras met in San Pedro Sula, Honduras. The caravan began the next day.

that had larger portions of undocumented immigrants tended to have lower violent crime rates. So to classify all immigrants as criminals is not only sweeping racist generalization, but also a blatantly false idea. We are not even in an illegal immigration crisis as the number of unauthorized immigrants each year has been continuously and steadily dropping in the past decade, according to the Pew Research Center. These desperate migrants don’t want to enter the country because we have lax border security or because they seek to destroy us. They want a better life and an escape from the violence and poverty in their home countries just like our ancestors. So rather than punishing these people and their respective home countries, our government must be more compassionate and open allowing them to find a better home. There are laws already in place for the protection of both Americans and immigrants. The Honduran migrant caravan is only a crisis or a threat if immigration itself is a danger to our country, and that is simply untrue.



Staying Healthy with Saloni Get some sleep saloni shah




WORK IN PROGRESS Csillagi inks blue flowers. Before opening their own shop, Csillagi apprenticed at SF’s Black and Blue Tattoo.

anna vazhaeparambil & catherine feng & lucy ge reporters

Led Zeppelin’s “Black Dog” blasts through speakers, nearly overpowering the resonating hum of tattoo machines. Greenery and artwork adorn the walls of the shop. Colorful figurines and trinkets fill the shelves. In the center of everything, a tattoo artist sits calmly on a stool preparing inks while their client lies patiently on an ink bed, hidden from the rest of the studio by patterned room dividers. Cedre Csillagi, the co-founder of Diving Swallows, a female and genderqueer tattoo shop, has been a tattoo artist since 1999 and works to promote diversity in the industry. Csillagi notes that as a “betweener” in terms of gender, or someone who doesn’t conform to the gender binary and uses the pronouns “they” and “them,” it is especially crucial that their studio is a safe space for anyone who enters. “Stereotypically and still to this day, there are a lot of cis, white, heteronormative men running and working [tattoo] shops, and all you have to do is go to a tattoo convention to feel that,” Csillagi said. “It’s important for a really diverse and wide range of people to be comfortable doing something to their body that's already so vulnerable.” Csillagi was also motivated to start their studio after experiencing the same environment of acceptance at their previous tattoo shop, Black and Blue Tattoo, in San Francisco. Having first apprenticed at this studio in 2000 while still attending art school at the San Francisco Art Institute, Csillagi appreciates the experiences and memories made there. “One of the reasons why I was working at Black and Blue in the beginning was because of the many queer people that mostly female-identified [who worked] there,” Csillagi said. “They were strong people, who had strong opinions and [had] a lot to learn from.” Although Csillagi’s motivation to move to their own studio was initially based on unhappiness with the wages, they also desired the freedom that accompanies such a transition.

“When you make your own tattoo shop, you get to create your own space, and you get to put up the art that you want to put up,” Csillagi said. Csillagi, who has now been a business owner for 14 years, has learned to value both the art and the customer interactions, the major aspects of the job. Csillagi aims to create art that not only pleases the customer, but also that they feel passionate about. “In 2020, I'm hoping to do a Bob Ross landscape scene. It's based off of a landscape photograph and a collage of flowers that we printed in the foreground,” Csillagi said. “I like painting duplications like this because I get to not only work with what the client wants, but I get to see how another artist brings work.” In this sense, Csillagi notes that tattoo art is similar to more conventional art styles in tattooists create something beautiful from a blank canvas. However, they also acknowledge that the connections tattoo artists make with their clients transcend this art form to another level. “Tattooing is very much not alone. You're together with someone the whole time,” Csillagi said. “The getting [the tattoo] is very much a part of it, whether they designed it or not.” Csillagi adds how tattoos also have a “performance” aspect to them, which adds to the publicity and vitality of this art. “There's something else that takes it away from being art like in a gallery: the fact that the tattoo has a new life after it leaves the studio,” Csillagi said. “The art gets done and then it walks away and lives in the world.”

STEADY HANDS Csillagi dots yellow into the centers of flowers. Their style focuses on botany, space and food.

FLOWER POWER Plush pink peonies and a delicate cluster of blue blossoms adorn a customer’s back.

Why can’t we be like wild African elephants? For real, they only sleep for two hours a day. That would leave us 22 hours in the day to accomplish everything on our to-do list, so we wouldn’t go to school with dark circles under our eyes, fatigue, blurred vision and disorientation. Looking around at the stoplight at I-280 and Saratoga Avenue every morning, I see many cars with dozing Harker students who are trying to catch some zzz’s. I have yet to see students cheerful and engaged in conversation with their parents in the morning. Let’s admit it. Sleep-deprived teens are cranky, are less able to learn new information, have longer reaction times and may have behavioral changes or mental health problems. There we go, I said it. What about early start times? Early school start times have been debated, petitioned, bills drawn, passed and vetoed, and local high schools have their own varied start times ranging from 7:15 a.m. for Los Altos High and Mountain View High for zero period to as late as 9:00 a.m for Alta Vista High. According to The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), teenagers need nine hours of sleep every night and recommends late school start times.

Why can’t we be like wild African elephants? A recent study from AAP revalidated a previous correlation found between obesity in teenagers and lack of sleep. According to the study, teens who didn’t sleep enough were likely to be more obese and at higher risk for cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure and diabetes. Larger animals need more food, so they eat more and end up sleeping less. Maybe this proves the research studies that link less sleep to obesity in adolescents? I guess we can’t be wild African elephants after all. I tend to compensate for having less sleep on weeknights by sleeping in late on weekends. But, according to a study by the National Sleep Foundation compensating for sleep is also not a good idea. Sleeping for longer in order to compensate for six hours a night actually causes worse reaction times than pulling an all-nighter. Whoops. I’ll fix that. Our lives are dictated by technology, which can lead to harmful effects on our sleep. Texting. Instagramming. Snapchatting. Facebooking. Tweeting. Whatever else-ing. Limiting the use of technology during or before sleeping can limit distractions. Frequent notifications from mobile phones signaling email, social media alerts and text messages also affect sleep and the quality of sleep. Okay, so let’s stop and think. We high schoolers tend to consider eight hours of sleep as unproductive when we have the pressure of schoolwork and activities and grades. We smirk and roll our eyes when we are told that teens need eight to nine hours of sleep, thinking it’s a waste of our precious limited resource. But, getting sufficient sleep makes us more productive in the long run and leads to an improvement in our overall well-being and, yes, better grades. So, long story short, get sleep. It’s good for you. Since we aren’t four-legged, massive, wild African elephants, let’s catch some zzz’s. ILLUSTRATION AND PAGE DESIGN BY JIN TUAN




Inside the m

varsha rammohan & saloni shah & aditya singhvi copy editor & asst. Humans of Harker editor & sports editor MAP SOURCE: WIKIMEDIA COMMONS DESIGN: RYAN GUAN




arushi saxena global editor

As midterm election results poured in across the nation on Nov. 6, Democrats took the U.S. House of Representatives, while Republicans kept their majority in the Senate. With an influx of younger candidates and voters, the November elections represented an overall shift to the new generation’s influence and involvement in politics. According to the Brookings Institution, millennials, post-millennials and Generation X now constitute 59 percent of eligible voters. Voters aged 18-29 turned out in unprecedented numbers, with a 188 percent increase in early voting from prior elections and the youth vote at a record 13 percent of the total ballots cast. With such diversity in politics and the new involvement of youth in politics, as a country, we can expect great changes. While the 13 percent youth voter turnout may seem meager, it yielded a vast influence. Youth were able to influence key races. With calls for reform emanating from youth voters, it is no surprise they turned out in larger numbers than in previous midterms. Throughout this election cycle, we also saw several student activists protest the obstruction of their voting rights. At Prairie View A&M University, five students filed a lawsuit after early voting stations were not available at their university, though abundant in Texas’ rural counties. Two days later, polling places were open at the school, open for extended voting hours. As the next generation of voters, youth involvement is essential. Although the majority of the country’s decisions are made by generations born much earlier than we are, they will soon have to step away, vacating their positions and allowing newer citizens in, a key responsibility of ours to fulfill.

SD CALIFORNIA GOVERNOR John Cox vs. Gavin Newsom


60+% COX


50-59% COX 50-59% NEWSOM 60+% NEWSOM





Teachers share their voting perspectives

“We don’t want apathy; we want [young] people to get involved and speak out and vote, because it’s their future specifically. Young people, can you make a difference? Can you get involved? Can you be informed?”

“People realized what happens when you don’t vote. The last presidential election, there was kind of a low turnout, and that led to President Donald Trump in office. And I think people are regretting that their voice wasn’t heard.”



“The blue wave, going into the midterms, was supposed to be a sweep across the country. But the blue wave was actually more of a blue trickle, so it’s hard to predict what’s going to happen over the next two years.”

“[In] the House, there’s a lot more variety and diversity, and I think that’s important. There have already been groups of young people who have been speaking out, and the next step is to speak out through using your vote.”






midterm elections KS






SENATE (100 total)

45 D 53 R



*caucus with D

D–2, R+2

2 I* HOUSE (435 total)


235 D 200 R

TN (2 vacant seats filled)

D+38, R–36









Hope drives seniors’ first votes Lilly felt as though she was “finally an adult” after mailing in her midterms ballot. “I decided to vote because it is my constitutional right, and I want to somehow exLILLY ANDERSON ercise it and share my opinions,” Lilly said. “I know one vote doesn’t matter that much, but the fact that you vote and the fact that you care about politics says something.” Lilly, who is not affiliated with any political group but tends to sway right, remains skeptical of Trump’s reelection, saying that she believes voters in 2020 will be less complacent than they were in 2016. “Last election, a lot of people didn’t like either candidate,” Lilly said. “I don’t think Trump is going to be reelected because more people learned with Trump getting elected in the first place. I feel like more now than ever, people want to have their voice heard.”

Olivia walked into the voting booth on Election Day this year feeling “nervous,” but she left feeling “really proud.” “My mom and I had a cheat sheet on OLIVIA a Google Doc, so I alESPARZA ready knew who I was going to vote for,” Olivia said. She participated in the AP U.S. Government and Politics class’ mock election, led by teacher Carol Green, who helped Olivia understand the mechanics of voting. “I am engaged with politics, but I don’t know everything in depth, so it was kind of a chance for me to understand what really happens,” Olivia said. Olivia, who is generally left-leaning, expressed hope that President Trump will not be reelected in the 2020 presidential election. “I feel like this is our lowest point,” Olivia said. “This is the worst it’s going to get, and we’re going to get better.”


Matthew was eager to vote for the first time this year. When results came in, he was happy about the increasing diversity in Congress. “It is something that is so necessary MATTHEW for our democracy to HAJJAR operate that all the voices are represented,” Matthew said. “Having Native American women, having Muslim women having this voice really makes me excited.” In the 2020 elections, Matthew, who supported former President Barack Obama, would love for Kamala Harris or Cory Booker to run but predicts that President Trump may be reelected. “[Trump’s] character is something that I do not agree with, and I still to this day do not understand how his character was translated into success, but the fact that it did just reveals to me that what [I] look to as the President is not what people across the country are looking to as a whole,” Matthew said.

• Register to vote at if you are 18 or older. If you are 16 or 17, you can pre-register to vote. Make sure to register at least 15 days before the election. • Mail a vote-by-mail ballot to your county election official or vote at a polling place on Election Day. • The 59th presidential election is Nov. 3, 2020.





Beyond the Midterms











saurav tewari & hunter tucker



100 first ever statewide vote recount due to the Senate and Governor races being too close to call on Saturday, Nov. 10. Gov. Rick Scott, the Republican candidate for Senate held only a 12,600 vote lead over Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson at the start of the recount. Democratic candidate for governor, Andrew Gillum, retracted his previous concession to Republican Ron DeSantis until after the recount.


TOO CLOSE TO CALL Florida began its

435 Nov.


FORCED OUT Attorney General Jeff



Sessions delivered his resignation letter to the White House at the request of the president. In his stead, the president appointed Matthew G. Whitaker, Sessions’s chief of staff. The resignation comes after Sessions refused to recuse himself from special counsel Robert Mueller’s ongoing Russia investigation.



ACOSTA ACCOSTED A federal judge

ordered the White House to temporarily restore CNN reporter Jim Acosta’s press credentials on Friday, Nov. 16. CNN sued the administration, alleging that Acosta’s first and fifth amendment rights were violated.


16 Nov.


18 Nov.


TRAGIC PASSING 41st President of the

United States George H. W. Bush, died at the age of 94 in Houston, Texas on Nov. 30. Bush had developed both a form of Parkinsons and bronchitis. His death comes 8 months after the passing of his wife, Barbara Bush.

2020 Presidential Election ELECTION OF A LIFETIME President Trump

will face reelection on Nov. 3, 2020 in the 59th presidential election of the United States. Possible Democratic challengers include Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT), Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) and former Vice President Joe Biden.

MAJOR COMEBACK Democrat Kyrsten

Sinema defeated Republican Martha McSally to win the Arizona Senate race on Monday, Nov. 12. She flipped the seat blue, replacing retiring Republican senator Jeff Flake. She will also be the first openly bisexual senator in U.S. history.





ernor Rick Scott wins the closesly contested Florida senate race over Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson on Sunday, Nov. 18. Although Scott’s lead was cut short by several thousand votes due to the state-wide recount, Nelson was still short by 10,033 votes. Democrat Andrew Gillum conceded the Florida gubernatorial race to Republican Ron DeSantis on Saturday, November 11. Democrat Stacy Abrams conceded the Georgia gubernatorial race to Republican Brian Kemp on Friday, November 16.



Face of the people

Radical populism rises to forefront of international politics arya maheswari & saloni shah STEM editor & lifestyle columnist

Some of the world’s largest democracies are being led by conservatives from Italy, with Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini, to India, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, to the United Kingdom, given the conservative support for the Brexit decision. Yet there is a movement sweeping the globe that is not simply based on the strength of policymakers with conservative-leaning views. Instead, this global sensation is marked by a distinctly new style of politics which happens to be employed via the farright platform: radical populism and nationalism, as seen in Italy’s Salvini, Greece’s Golden Dawn, and even President Trump. “The contest between liberalism and conservatism within a democratic framework is a healthy give and take, so [instead] what seems to be raising [a] question is the specter of authoritarianism, which is even beyond conservatism,” upper school history teacher Byron Stevens said. “It’s a radical populism, that gives rise to potentially a dictatorship or authoritarians, and that can come from the right or the left.” Oct. 28 2018 saw another far-right candidate win the election in Latin America’s largest country – Brazil. The win of Jair Bolsonaro, a former army captain, is another victory in the wave of resurgence across the globe of conservative candidates sweeping into power. Bolsonaro won the election with 58 million votes by promising to overhaul the Brazilian economy under recession which is burdened with high unemployment rates, corruption, and high crime rates. Also known as the “Trump of the Tropics,” Bolsonaro is a vocal supporter of President Trump and some of the similarities between the two are strikingly evident. Bolsonaro, like Trump, is a man of controversy, advocating radical change and openly insulting gays, women, and

blacks. He openly favors investment in military and relaxed gun laws, he is against environmental protection and abortion policies, and he is also open critic of the LGBTQ+ community in Brazil. Two of the main social markers that give rise to far-right policies are popular insecurity and frustration with the current system and who it privileges over others. “I think it happens because of insecurity: people are nervous for a variety of reasons, ... they want a solution that addresses their nervousness or their sense of [distress] about the future,” Stevens said. “People [also] like to win, and if they feel like they are not winning anymore, they want somebody to blame or they want to choose leaders that will get behind ideas they think that will restore them to a state of winning.” Specific manifestations of these fears include fears of immigrants, frustrations with failing economies, and scapegoating, reflecting a hatred of the other, whether it be the Jews, Muslims, the LGBTQ+ community or other minorities. This sort of populism, a radical extension of conservatism, is rising all over the world, especially in Europe and in Asia. With it comes rampant polarization and division, as the threat of isolationism and ethnic divide increases. “I think that the increasing authoritarian populism in Europe especially as well as in the US and Brazil is very problematic because these authoritarian leaders often times do not act in the interests of everyone and instead act on their own volition,” Modern International Affairs and AP United States Government student Kelly Shen (12) said. “There is lot of xenophobia, and of course, there is very little popular say in what happens and increasing negative sentiment.”

Jair Bolsonaro

President-Elect of Brazil Bolsonaro is a member of the Social Liberal Party, the leading right-wing conservative party in Brazil. After retiring from the military, Bolsonaro served as a member of the Chamber of Duties, as a representative of Rio de Janiero. Among support of several normative conservative policies, Bolsonaro is pushing for gun rights for all “honest” citizens, more discretion in using deadly force in in crime-fighting operations, defunding LGBTQ+ support and crisis centers, removing provisions for rape victims from the public healthcare system, increased scalebacks against abortions, and cutting back affirmative action programs at institutes of higher learnimg.

FAMOUS CONSERVATIVES OF HISTORY MAXIMILIEN ROBESPIERRE Orchestrating France’s Reign of Terror, Robespierre worked as a lawyer and sought to defend the common people.

THEODORE ROOSEVELT JR. In the midst of high US unemployment, Roosevelt spurred a frenzy of populism, evident in his 1912 speech.

Theresa May

Prime Minister, UK May is a part of the Conservative Party, and has has been in office since 2016. Among other policies, May has pushed especially hard on reducing immigration from outside the European Union, legalizing same-sex marriage, increasing workers’ rights, and reducing the pay gap for women.

Matteo Salvini

Prime Minister, Italy Salvini has been in office since June 2018. Similar to popular belief held by other conservatives, Salvini is strongly opposed to illegal immigration and has denied several immigrants asylum and ordered the collection of census data to uncover undocumented Italian residents.

Narendra Modi

Prime Minister, India Modi is a member of the Bharatiya Janata Party, one of the largest political parties in India, and as a leading member of the party, Modi has taken social conservative positions on several key issues and pushed for demonetization and fought against corruption and tax evasion.

ADOLF HITLER Following WWI, Hitler rallied against the government elite in attempts to restore Germany to its former glory.

JUAN PERON In order to encourage the Argentinian labor force, Perón promised benefits and spoke out against the elite. ILLUSTRATIONS BY JIN TUAN



Girls basketball welcomes new coaches

Is the NBA free at last? kushal shah

THAT WAY Head coach Daniza Rodriguez motions during a varsity girls basketball practice. The girls play in the Santa Clara tournament this week.

anna vazhaeparmbil





Position: Guard Experience: 3-year varsity at Harker 2 years at Whittier College Motto: “‘We don’t do things alone.’ As we move up, we bring our teammates with us to make each other a better person, not just on the court but off court.” Goals: “I want these girls to understand that basketball isn’t just the physical but it’s also a mental sport too, and that it will relate to their lives later on.”

JOELLE CARIAGA Assistant coach

Position: Guard

“I think some of them are a little sore,” Rodriguez admitted about the running. “But they are also learning that they will be needing each other and that this is not an individual sport — this is a team sport — and I think the girls are finally understanding and they’re excited to grow together.” This value she holds for connections between teammates is reflected in her friendship with assistant coach Cariaga, whom she has played with for seven years. Cariaga also grew up in the Bay Area playing basketball and has been coaching in local camps since she was in high school. Like Rodriguez, she hopes that the girls are able to push themselves and each other this season in order to become a stronger and closer team. “We want to create this environment that’s positive and also welcoming for these girls to look at each other like sisters or family,” Cariaga said. Captain Sara Lynn Sullivan (11) noted how excited she is for the upcoming season and the differences from previous years. “Our coaches have been pushing us to play better than the day before, and I really think that we’re taking that to heart,” she said. “We’re in much better condition, our communication is better and we’re much more prepared than we’ve ever been.”

A TYPICAL PRACTICE 1. Warmups: stretches, mobility drills, ball-handling, form shooting 2. Defensive drills 3. Skills and playmaking: layups, cuts, backdoors, jumpers, etc.




6. Timed runs


5. Reviewing plays


4. Full-court drills (3-man weaves)

DEFENSE Haley Arena (11) performs a defensive drill during practice. Rodriguez and Cariaga joined the girls varsity basketball team in mid-October as the new head coach and assistant coach respectively, after former head coach Dan Pringle retired. N AN

Experience: 4-year varsity at Evergreen Valley High School 2 years at Sonoma State Motto: “‘Be better than you were yesterday’ and ‘push yourself and push your teammate.’ At the end of the day, it’s not just you who wins, it’s the whole team that wins.” Goals: “We want to create an environment for the girls to succeed and to show that it’s not just about basketball, but it’s about learning life lessons.”

Sneakers squeak and shouts echo from the gym floor in the Athletic Center as the girls’ varsity basketball team cheer each other on while they run sprints near the end of their practice. At the sidelines, their new coaches, Daniza Rodriguez (‘13) and Joelle Cariaga, yell encouraging words, urging the girls to go faster. Rodriguez and Cariaga joined the girls’ varsity basketball team in mid-October as the new head coach and assistant coach respectively, after former head coach Dan Pringle retired. They will be working with Joan Marciano, who remains the team’s assistant coach from last year, to coach the girls this season. Rodriguez, who has been playing basketball since she was six years old, attended Harker for high school and played on the school varsity team here for three years, continuing at Whittier College after graduating. Now returning as a coach, she aims to use her own experiences to help the girls grow as both basketball players and as people. “I want these girls to understand that basketball isn’t just the physical but it’s also a mental sport too, and that it will relate to their lives later on,” Rodriguez said. She is currently implementing more conditioning in practices and is focusing on developing the fundamentals of the game and strengthening the team’s bond with each other.



Yes, it’s true—it’s all true. After a long period of silence from supposed “contending” teams, the wicked Warriors of the West have finally released their NBA counterparts as their hostages. However, one matter is yet uncertain. What really incited this good-hearted release? Was it the Warriors’ own internal issues or was it was just the rest of the NBA augmenting their versatility and expanding their talent? In fact, the once frequent assertion that was maintained throughout last season was that the Western Conference was filled with more talent and effectively, had stronger teams than the Eastern Conference no longer rings true. Right now, the top two teams are from the Eastern Conference: the Toronto Raptors and the Milwaukee Bucks.

It’s time for the Dubs to dial up the heat and start cooking — the other contending teams certainly have. And to top it all off, the Warriors are not even one of the top five teams in the NBA. Horrifically, the Dubs currently hold the pitiful, undignified sixth seed with an utterly distasteful 12-6 record. Too melodramatic, you say? Let me amicably remind you that we are talking about a team that has reached great heights: four consecutive Finals appearances, a historic record 73-9 season and achieved a two-peat. The same team that has 4 All-Stars (5 if you count Boogie) that are all looking to join the highly coveted, exclusive three-peat club. And if they genuinely hope to achieve the three-peat, the Warriors can no longer afford to be the same team as last season until playoffs. They can’t just hope to cruise to the playoffs and flip the switch because the other teams— the Houston Rockets, the Dallas Mavericks, the San Antonio Spurs (all teams the Warriors have lost against), the Los Angeles Lakers—they’re all hungry, and they will fight tooth and nail in the hopes to defeat the Warriors and procure a ring. So, in other words, it’s time for the Dubs to dial up the heat and start cooking. The other contending teams certainly have. After skidding to a rough start, the Houston Rockets, the LA Lakers and the Oklahoma City Thunder have played with greater intensity in nearly every one of their matchups. The Memphis Grizzlies and the Los Angeles Clippers are also surprises, especially since the Grizzlies fired their head coach, David Fizdale, and the Clippers traded away DeAndre Jordan to the Mavs. Returning to the Warriors, fortunately, their crisis is occurring in the beginning of the season as opposed to the beginning of the playoffs, so they have quite some time to deliberate their deficiencies and buttress them. Of course, after this, I have absolutely no doubt that the Warriors will once again kidnap the NBA and hold it hostage for years to come. Oh shoot! I knew I forgot something while ranting! Or rather someone. Oh yeah, Steph Curry, the legend, is still injured -- no wonder the Warriors have been losing! Forget I said anything...



IN THE MOMENT As fall sports end, wrestling, soccer, basketball take flight saloni shah & kushal shah columnists

The fall season of sports ended and was marked by historic results for both girls volleyball and girls golf. Girls golf won the WBAL championship by an unprecedented 44 strokes and was just the seventh team in Harker history to qualify for NorCals, the last time being 12 years ago in 2006. Natalie Vo (10) was the first Harker female to qualify for the state meet and carded a +7, 79 at the meet. Girls volleyball also qualified and took 2nd place in CCS, and went on to NorCals for the 3rd time in Harker history. Girls water polo won the SVCAL tournament and also went to Norcals, but lost to Aptos in the first round. Boys water polo concluded the season with a 17-10 record and placed second in their SCVAL tournament, losing the final game. The girls varsity tennis team finished off their 8-4 season with a 5-1 win over the Sanger Apaches. Doubles players Fonda Hu (10) and Sachi Bajaj (10) also qualified for individual CCS titles.


“We had a lot of talented young freshmen who were outstanding and had amazing races– I’m excited to see them improve.”

GIRLS SOCCER Kalyn Su (9) attempts to steal the ball away from an opposing player in a game against the Kings Academy Knights.


Historic endings, fresh starts




1. BOYS SOCCER Ishaan Mantripragada (9) dribbles as a Saint Francis player chases him in a 4-2 loss for the Eagles. Soccer next plays on Dec. 12 against Del Mar high school at home at 6 p.m.


On the cross country team, freshman Ritika Rajamani and senior Ryan Adolf qualified for CCS. In terms of winter sports, The boys varsity basketball team will look to bounce back after losing 9 of their 14 league games last season. They started their season off with a 69-31 win over San Jose. The girls varsity basketball team dominated University Prep Academy in a 41 point win. Meanwhile, the girls varsity soccer started their season with a tough tied game against King’s Academy but recovered in their next game with a commanding 5-0 win over the Independence 76ers. Harker’s boys varsity soccer team suffered a rough 4-2 loss against the South San Francisco Warriors to start their season. The wrestling team will compete in their first tournament at the Los Gatos tournament on Jan. 12.

Upcoming Games

Boys Basketball:

@ Lynbrook tournament Today, Friday, and Saturday vs. Woodside High Dec. 29 at 5:30 p.m.




@ Santa Clara tournament Tomorrow and Saturday vs. San Lorenzo Valley Dec. 14 at 5:30 p.m.


Girls Basketball:

3. GIRLS WATER POLO Ainsley Millard (9) attempts to pass the ball during the SCVAL tournament final against Milipitas, which the girls won 13-3. They also won 11-2 against Wilcox and 5-4 against Saratoga and were crowned the tournament champions. They lost to Aptos in the first round of CCS. 4. GIRLS TENNIS Amanda Cheung (11) waits to recieve the ball during the WBAL individual tournament. The girls varsity tennis team finished off their 8-4 season with a 5-1 win over the Sanger Apaches. Doubles players Fonda Hu (10) and Sachi Bajaj (10) also qualified for individual CCS titles. 2. GIRLS GOLF Olivia Guo (10) watches on after hitting the ball in a match against Sacred Heart Prep, which the Eagles won 196-261. Girls golf won the WBAL championship by an unprecedented margin of 44 strokes.

Girls Soccer:




Boys Soccer:


@ Wilcox High Today at 4 p.m. vs. Yerba Buena Dec. 11 at 3:30 p.m. vs. Del Mar Dec. 12 at 3 p.m. @ Lynbrook High Dec. 14 at 6 p.m.

5. GIRLS VOLLEYBALL Katrina Liou (12) dives to hit the ball in a post season game against MercyBurlingame High School. The girls volleyball team qualified to NorCals for the third time in team history this season after placing second in the CCS tournament.

6. BOYS BASKETBALL Richard Wang (12) tries to dribble past Jack Connors (11) in a one-on-one drill during basketball practice. This year, the team is headed by captains Jack and Gene Wang (12).


The Potential of hydrogen Looking ahead to the future of renewable GLOBAL RESET energy with hydrogen fuel cell research asst. features editor & reporter

According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, transportation, mainly cars and trucks, constitutes almost 30 percent of all global warming emissions in America. When discussing alternative zero emission energy sources, most people might first think of wind or solar power, but there’s a new source on the block: the hydrogen fuel cell. Hydrogen enters the fuel cell on a cathode, a conductor of electricity, where electrons are stripped from the hydrogen particles. This stream of electrons create the current, which then flows in an external circuit. The positively charged hydrogen ions then pass through a membrane to another electrode on the other side, on which oxygen enters and takes the electrons from the circuit. The now negatively charged oxygen then merges with the positively charged hydrogen and forms water, which exits the cell. The only byproducts of this process are water and heat, meaning no greenhouse gases are emitted. Unlike solar and wind energy, which are difficult to store in the form of lithium ion batteries, hydrogen is a type of fuel, which makes storage much easier. Devices, like cars, that run on hydrogen fuel cells are considered electric since, although they use hydrogen gas, the power outputted is in the form of electricity. However, one important comparison between hydrogen fuel cells and battery electric vehicles, which store energy in rechargeable batteries, is weight. Hydrogen fuel cells can produce 236 times more energy than lithium-ion batteries for the same weight. “Batteries do not work well as a long haul truck application because you have to carry so much payload that you need a lot of energy. [Thus,] you need more batteries, and when you have more batteries the truck weighs more, and you need more batteries to carry the batteries, and eventually you end up having a truck that’s just carrying itself.” Dr. Jack Brouwer, Director of the National Fuel Cell Research Center at UC Irvine, said. “[But for hydrogen] you can separately size the storage tank, which is actually a very light device, from the power generation device.” Besides only being lighter, fuel cells operate much faster than electric batteries because the energy is transmitted as fuel rather than as electrons. While the fuel cell-powered 2018 Toyota Mirai can, with only five minutes of charging, drive 1. Hydrogen gas enters the cell onto the cathode (a conducting channel).


“[Fuel cells] have been advancing very quickly in the last decade, and so they’re becoming much more economically reliable.” DR. JACK BROUWER DIRECTOR OF THE NATIONAL FUEL CELL RESEARCH CENTER, UC IRVINE The implementation of hydrogen fuel cells can help address the pressing issue of climate change and global warming, which, according to a November climate assessment released by the Trump administration, could cause economic losses of hundreds of billions of dollars, increased natural disasters, and threaten people’s health. The burning of fossil fuels constitute a large amount of the greenhouse gasses emitted into the atmosphere, creating pollution. If hydrogen fuel powered these processes instead, the resulting reduction of pollution would be a major step toward ending climate change. “[Hydrogen fuel cells] impacted [the automobile industry] by having another fuel source that we can look at,” Ross Koble, Toyota Communications Manager, said. “As we see the impact of greenhouse gasses to the globe we want to make sure that we’re trying to reduce the impact that vehicles and transportation have on that.” The use of hydrogen fuel cells in vehicles, however, faces challenges. Unlike

electricity, which is ubiquitous, there is no existing infrastructure in the United States for the transfer of hydrogen fuel anywhere except for California, which has less than 100 fueling stations at the moment. Dr. Brouwer proposes a solution that involves a complete switch to hydrogen. “One of the things that could be done is that we could build and/or use existing storage facilities for natural gas, and get rid of the natural gas, and use hydrogen instead,” Dr. Brouwer said. “There’s a lot of challenges with regard to knowing for sure whether we can convert the natural gas system to a hydrogen system, but I’m doing lots of research in that area and I’d like to ... just use the same kind of infrastructure to move hydrogen around in society and to store it.” A second challenge in extensive use of hydrogen fuel cells is commercial viability. The high price tags of cars like the Toyota Mirai restricts possible customers of the car. According to the Institute of Physics, fuel cells are expensive because platinum, a rare and costly metal, is the catalyst used to ionize the hydrogen. “I think [the Toyota Mirai] is a great idea, I just think the execution could’ve been done better,” William Rainow (11), president and cofounder of Car Club, said. “Until the type of technology that they’re using in that car becomes more widespread and accessible, they’re going to have some trouble selling the car.” Without overcoming these problems, hydrogen fuel technology will face significant roadblocks in widespread usage, but a green future can still be reached with enough dedication and action starting in each community.

Fuel Cells in Cars refuel with pressurized hydrogen from hydrogen fueling station 3-5 minutes to charge to go 200300 miles range comparison: Toyota Mirai, hydrogen fuel cell car: 312 miles on a full tank Chevy Bolt EV battery-electric car: 238 miles per charge 1 kg of H2 can store 236 times more energy than 1 kg of lithium-ion batteries Toyota Mirai current base price: around $60,000.

3. Oxygen gas enters on the other side of the fuel cell.

2. A catalyst strips electrons, creating a current, from the hydrogen atoms, which continue right as ions.

O2 4. The hydrogen ion, oxygen gas, and some electrons combine to output water.

H2O 6. Any excess hydrogen gas is recycled for reuse, and any heat is vented.

5. Meanwhile, the flow of electrons created yields an electric power output.


sara yen & jessie wang

over 300 miles, the 2018 Tesla Model 3 takes from 8.5 to 12 hours at 220V to fully charge its battery. Batteries also run the risk of degrading if charged too fast, creating additional limitations on charging time. According to the Alternative Fuels Data Center, the cheapest and most common method of producing hydrogen is using steam to reform natural gases, which are fossil fuels mainly composed of methane, a gas formed by a carbon atom attached to four hydrogen atoms. The reaction between natural gas and steam yields hydrogen from the synthesis gas created, which is composed of hydrogen, carbon monoxide and a bit of carbon dioxide. More hydrogen can be produced when carbon monoxide reacts with water. Although the combustion of natural gases does release greenhouse gases, the emissions are still less than coal or oil, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists. Moreover, burning natural gases produces less nitrous oxides, which can react to produce smog, than gasoline does.


Keep up the progress Sustaining innovation post-breakthrough jin tuan STEM columnist

Scientists work hard to come up with breakthrough after breakthrough. Hydrogen fuel cells are a promising step into the future, but like any other solution proposed, they aren’t the be-all and end-all of solutions to sustainability. Hydrogen fuel, though relatively straightforward to use and consume, is difficult to store. Due to its highly reactive nature, hydrogen gas needs to be stored in cool, insulated units to avoid risks of explosion, making it difficult to store in large amounts. To increase its efficiency in powering vehicles, hydrogen gas must be liquefied. Taking a step back from the science, hydrogen is also not yet widely available, making hydrogen-powered vehicles a difficult choice to maintain. The vehicle itself, due to its relatively new technology and thus higher cost, is only an option for more privileged consumers, following the trend of more eco-friendly products being limited to the higher-income demographic.

“The truth is that fighting climate change is a constant, ongoing process, not a stop-and-go ordeal.” Though the latter two problems will likely solve themselves as hydrogen fuel cells become more widespread, it’s clear that this technology is not a panacea. Promising new solutions always come with hype, and the positives might be blown out of proportion compared to the negative aspects. In the wake of a new discovery, the public, content with the success, can forget to pay attention to and continue giving feedback to developing breakthroughs. Issues like climate change are not the responsibility of one specific group of people, and yet these shortterm successes can still fuel a thought process that encourages slacking off — because someone else has made this step in combating climate change, you no longer need to dedicate as many of your own resources to fight climate change. It’s tempting to breathe a sigh of relief and see the breakthrough as having done “enough for today,” but the truth is that fighting climate change is a constant, ongoing process, not a stop-and-go ordeal. For that one large step forward, the amount of people who begin to let their guard down can completely undermine the positive progress. It may seem like our voices, those of ordinary citizens and students, cannot contribute to professional scientific process. But whether it’s participating in citizen science projects or surveys, spreading awareness and new ideas or simply backing organizations who you feel are moving in the right direction, there are surprisingly many channels for contribution. So, in the face of new technology and the challenges that come with it, we must keep fighting against widespread issues like climate change. Even if our impact is not immediately clear, every single action counts toward our common goal of staying alive. JIN TUAN








EXploring VirtuaL Worlds and Simulations arya maheshwari & aditya singhvi STEM editor & sports editor

Science fiction has long theorized about the existence of lifelike simulations, with movies like “The Matrix” (1999), “Gamer” (2009) and, most recently, “Ready Player One” (2018). However, with the rise of virtual reality technology and the growth of computers, many scientists and philosophers, including Elon Musk and the late Stephen Hawking, have begun to ask: “Is this real?” “I remember reading science fiction stories by Arthur C. Clarke in the 1960s [about] the idea of our equipment becoming potentially self aware and the highlight of the story is that we are actually pieces of equipment in someone else’s universe that’s becoming self aware,” Dr. Eric Nelson, physics teacher and chair of the upper school’s computer science department, said. “And people have been asking, just like in the movie The Matrix, are we living in a giant simulation, and if we were, how would you know?” Simulation theorists propose that our universe is highly likely to be a simulation, created by a far more advanced civilization. Theorists argue that “posthuman” civilizations have sufficient computing power to run simulations — thus, as the vast majority of minds will be simulated, we are likely to be simulated as well. “I think it’s totally possible,” Alex-

Simulation theoretic ideas can be traced back to Zhuangzi’s Butterfly Dream in the 4th century BCE, which proposes a fundamental inability to tell whether one is dreaming or awake, and from there have culminated with Oxford professor Nick Bostrom’s simulation hypothesis in 2003. Simultaneously, the corresponding development of technology has evolved from 3D stereoscopes in the 19th century to the 2016 debut of VR devices like the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. Popular culture has also explored similar ideas, with The Matrix (1999), Gamer (2009), and Ready Player One (2018).

ander Young (12), president of the Philosophy Club, said. “With regards to the physics, there’s lots of different physical anomalies in the laws of physics and chemistry that are unexplained, mostly likely because we don’t have a sufficient understanding of the world around us, but it’s also possible that these are chinks in the code, bugs in the world around us.” On the other hand, many argue that

DEFINITION simulation hypothesis (n): idea proposed by Oxford professor Nick Bostrom in 2003 that reality is an artificial simulation a simulation would be much more apparent to its inhabitants, and creating such a system would require far too much effort. “It would be clear that it is a simulation because there’s a limit to the capabilities of any computational system, and nature doesn’t seem to have these limits at this point in time,” Dr. Nelson said. “A simulation that was able to keep track of all the details would be as big as the universe. You’d have to have something bigger than the universe to simulate the universe. ” While simulation theory evokes deep philosophical arguments on both sides, computer scientists propose a major obstacle stands in the way of its pos-

sibility on the concrete side: the sheer magnitude of computational power that would be required. “Let’s say you got a box with a 100 electrons in it and you want to model it as precisely as we are able to observe it over extended periods of time. You would need a computer with more parts than there are atoms in our known universe,” Dr. Nelson said. “That’s a big computer, and that’s only a 100 electrons. Now try modeling the universe.” Simulation theorists respond by arguing that the code for the simulation may operate on a higher plane of understanding, beyond the scope of what humans can foresee or achieve at this time. Yet the idea of simulations is already becoming more and more familiar in the current technological sphere with the growth of the virtual reality (VR) sector. In concept, virtual reality seems like a direct route to launching a full-fledged simulation perhaps as detailed as a world, or even a universe, but the key question is how VR technology concretely compare to the proposed systems necessary for a full simulation. The development of current VR technologies is far more tractable and defined than the philosophical quandaries of simulation theory. With the development of headsets like the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive over the last few years, VR has made its grand entrance into the consumer market but still has much untapped potential of use in various fields.

THE MEANING OF REALITY thoughts around campus

on the simulation hypothesis and the future of virtual reality “Games and VR are both opportunities to give learners experiences and access to tools they might not have otherwise. If means... [using] VR Diane Main tothis substitute for places or Director of Learning, experiences we cannot Innovation, and Design bring students to in reality, they can be an excellent substitute for labs, experiments, handson activities, field trips, and more.” “If twenty years down the line, you make a video game in which the characters are so realistic and able to think on their own terms...,then what are the odds that we are in [a] base reality ourselves?”

Jason Kwok (10)

Vani Mohindra (11)

“If simulations do exist, we can assume that there are an infinite amount of simulations. The probability of being that one reality [that creates it all] would be 1/∞.“

“Would we respond the same to a person’s avatar? What would [people] do if it was an avatar in the room versus an actual human? That’s more of a psychological Marina Peregrino idea there.“ computer science teacher





Alex Young (12)

“With regards to the whether machines can be sentient, I personally think that they certainly can, because in essence we are machines … There’s a variation on Theseus’s [paradox]: if I removed a single neuron from my brain, and replaced it with a tiny nano-machine that simulates the activity of a neuron ... would I still remain sentient?”




Holidays at Harker sara yen & jessie wang & alysa su & sriya batchu






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1 Junior varsity dance performs in the Santana Row tree lighting. FAN G

2 Emiko Armstrong (11) performs a jump during the varsity dance routine. 3 Rani Sheth (11) and Avi Gulati (11) dress in traditional attire for Diwali. 4 Christopher Gong (12) strikes a pose during Kinetic Krew’s dance routine. 5 Katelyn Chen (11) sings with Downbeat during the Santana Row tree lighting. 6 Maya Franz (10) sings during Cantilena’s performance at the Fall concert.



asst. features editor & reporters

Light—the substance that connects many holidays. Each night, one candle is lit on the nine-branched menorah for Hanukkah and the seven-candled A kinara for Kwanzaa. For Diwali, IN lamps illuminate the dark corUG LY A M ners of the house. Christmas brings NA IRI strings of bulbs wrapped around pine trees. Diwali, famous for multides of lit candles, called diyas, and classic Indian decorations, is the Hindu festival of lights. Celebrated in autumn every year, the festival lasts five days, with key rituals taking place on the third day. “Bring the light inside you, so you light up your inner you,” upper school math teacher Bhaswati Ganguli said. “The whole point is that [light lets us] think positive and good, think kindness and empathy, bring the goodness in you.” Diwali is about banishing the darkness within a person, but it is also about building relationships with friends and family. “It is the whole feel of being together with my own family and with my friends, and it is the whole process of getting together, lighting lamps, eating food, chatting, so the whole community feel is beautiful,” Ganguli said. Hanukkah is a traditional Jewish celebration that lasts eight days and nights, each night marked by the lighting of a candle on the menorah, a nine-branched candelabrum displayed in the window of the home. It commemorates the redidecation of the Temple in Jerusalem. Those who celebrate N HE eat Latkes (a type of potato-panEC L O NIC cake) and play dreidel, a four sided top. “[My favorite parts of Hanukkah are] the food and playing dreidel. It’s just a

communal time, [and] that’s nice,” Nathan Ohana (10) said. But Nathan realizes that modifications of cultural norms and the observation of cultural festivals and changes in greetings is hard to adapt to. “If someone says ‘Merry Christmas’ to me, I don’t get upset because that’s [what] the vast majority of people, even most non-religious people, in the United States celebrate,” Nathan said. Another holiday that uses candelabra is Kwanzaa, the celebration of ancient African cultures over the course of a week from Dec. 26 to Jan. 1. The African American activist Maulana Ron Karenga created the holiday to help his fellow African Americans remember their culture and roots as a community. Each day, one of the Seven Principles, named the Nguzo Saba, is honored. The kinara bears seven candles, called the mishumaa, dedicated to each principle: three red, one black and three green. Red symbolizes the blood spilled for the fight for freedom. Black is the color of skin. Green is the hue of African land. These three colors are the common decoration colors for the holiday, especially for karamu, the great feast held on Dec. 31. During Kwanzaa, observers of the holiday greet one another with the Swahili phrase, “Habari gani,” meaning “What’s the news?” The response is the principle of that day in order to emphasize dedication to the Seven Principles. To celebrate the holidays locally, Santana Row held its 17th Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony on Nov. 13. Behind the stage stood the 40-foot-tall tree decorated with holiday ornaments and festive streamers. Harker performed in both the pre-show entertainment from 5–6:45 p.m., and the tree lighting ceremony began at 7:30 pm. “I really like when we all perform for an audience as a way of getting ready for the holiday spirit. Everybody comes together with their own unique styles of dance and song choices, but they come together for one audience,” Junior varsity

A day at Battaglia Christmas Tree Ranch nicole tian reporter

Located on a narrow road veering off Highway 101 near Gilroy Battaglia Christmas Tree Ranch ushers in new visitors. Just beside the parking lot, an inflatable, 35-foot tall Santa towers above the 10-foot buildings, holding his hand up in greeting. Running parallel to the giant is a gravel road partly obscured by the light rain and lined with vendors. Warmth emanates, from the scent of popcorn and pine needles to cinnamon sugar churros and spicy Asian cheesesteaks. The frenzy resembles a household on Christmas morning. The red, barnlike buildings are rimmed with icicles and strung with lights as if they were factories at the North Pole. The continuous flow of people breaks to reveal the open barn door of a large warehouse with Christmas trees scattered all around. Some have their pine needles dusted with pink and gold glitter; the frosted tips of others glisten under the dim lighting. Not far beyond the warehouse stretches the expanse of the farm, with trees ranging from Leyland Cypress to Monterey Pine planted in neat rows. A tall, slim teenager and a younger black-haired girl dragging a metal cart behind her venture into the arrays of trees,

followed by a middle-aged man and woman. The man holds a saw while the woman excitedly critiques each tree, her phone ready to snap pictures. “That one’s a little too small, isn’t it?” she asks as she points first at a lopsided, light green fir tree., then at a small pine shaped almost exactly like an isosceles triangle: “Yeah, but it’s growing old. The needles are starting to turn yellow.” Finally, they decide on a pine tree about six feet tall, taking turns to cut it down. They take a right at the end of the path, across from the warehouse, where the air buzzes with the whirring sound of a mint green machine and electric saw. Two male employees, both wearing t-shirts despite the patter of raindrops, load the trees onto a conveyor belt, where another worker stretches a net over a tunnel. Moving through, they become fully encapsulated in the net, upon which a man with greying hair and baseball cap places the trees. After nodding in thanks, the family disappears into the crowd, and even the tall teenager can no longer be spotted among the rush of the holiday season.

Winged Post Volume 20 Issue 3  
Winged Post Volume 20 Issue 3