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Menlo-Atherton High School

555 Middlefield Road, Atherton, CA

Volume vi, Issue iI

December 2015

The Mark STAFF

December COVER



Molly Kearnan

Copy Editor

Kate Flanagan

Layout Editor

12-13 14-15 16-17 18-19 20-21 22-23 24-25 26-27 28-29

Joanna Vollrath

Features and Input Editor Katie Moffitt

News and Op-Ed Editor Caraline Albro

Social Media Manager Sofia Bergmann

Photography Editor Lauren Bruce

Staff Writers


Leyla Arabian Luis Cruz Reid Diamond Brooke Faulkner Rachel Frost Elley Goldberg Selim Karahan Lara Karadogan Sofia Karadogan Leah Marcus Taylor Shantz Chantel Stelliga Bradley Stillman Olivia Tai Advisor: Betsy Snow

13-23 12-13




POLICY The Mark, a feature magazine published by the students in Menlo-Atherton High School’s Journalism class, is an open forum for student expression and the discussion of issues of concern to its readership. The Mark is distributed to its readers and the student body at no cost. The staff welcomes letters to the editor, but reserves the right to edit all submissions for length, grammar, potential libel, invasion of privacy, and obscenity. Submissions do not necessarily reflect the opinions of all M-A students or the staff of The Mark. Send all submissions to






ABOUT THE COVER Olivia Tai painted little illustrations corresponding to each discussion topic found within this issue. “I thought it would be a fun way to make the questions come to life.”




Trying to Understand T

The Syrian Refugee Crisis; w here the refugees go and why they've had to leave.

he Syrian refugee crisis is complicated. Chances are, you have heard of it, maybe you have even ventured into reading an article or two. However, there are still a lot of people who don’t know what is going on. The Mark editorial board urges the Menlo-Atherton community to be informed and engaged in today’s international issues. Within this piece, we are going to discuss the basics of the Syrian refugee crisis and our opinion on it. There are a lot of different attitudes and opinions towards the crisis, but here it is, explained. ISIS, or the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, is attempting to take control of Syria and impose their extremist Islamic beliefs and a totalitarian regime on the population. The state has committed brutal acts of tyranny and injustice on innocent Syrians, instilling a feeling of danger and fear in the daily lives of citizens. The brutality of ISIS is causing civilians to seek safety and solace in neighboring nations such as Turkey and Iraq. United Nations aid groups and ref-

ugee camps in these countries overflowed during the summer of 2015, leaving some people with little food and meager shelter. In hopes of more opportunities and a better, safer life, refugees fled to Europe. At this point, some European nations have chosen to accept specific numbers of refugees, while others refuse to take any. These countries reason that the influx of refugees has the ability to debilitate the European infrastructure. Too many people will overflow the schools, housing, and social welfare programs. Additionally, with many refugees settling in economically-unstable border states such as Greece, these nations cannot support the growing population. While Germany has opted to accept any and all refugees, England will only take in 20,000 within the next five years. The U.S. chose to take 10,000 in 2015. Many Western nations are choosing to accept few or no refugees for fear of the collapse of the social system, “dangers” of Islam, or higher birth rates. Since the tragic terrorist attacks in Paris on

Nov. 13, Western countries are hesitant to welcome a large number of Muslims, some of which they believe to be extremist. However, this logic is skewed by stereotypes and Islamophobia. By assuming that all Muslims are terrorists, we are denouncing Islam and insulting many of our friends and neighbors. And that is where our opinion comes in as journalists, immigrants and students. Yes, there are many problems in accepting thousands of people (from any culture) into a nation. But look around. All of us are immigrants, and some of us are refugees. The people fleeing from Syria are people just like us — students, parents, athletes, writers, benefactors, friends, families and children. Many of your friends and peers have recently immigrated, as immigration is an integral part of American society and culture. Instead of turning our backs on Syrian refugees, we should accept them, as many of us were refugees or immigrants once. Although humans have a bad habit of forgetting history, let us not forget where we all came from. by the Editorial Board

high mark//low mark From low to high (L-R), The Mark staff ranks recent events.

Varsity Football season comes to a close

Finals rapidly approach

Canned Food Drive and Distribution

Happy winter! holiday candles and sweater weather

Great season for girls varsity Volleyball 3

a&e December 2015


Women in the United States continue to deal with unequal wages. They are still underpaid in the work force compared to men. In Yemen, women are considered only half a witness. This means that a woman is not recognized as a full person before the court.

In Brazil, abortion is a only allowed for cases of rape and if the pregnancy endangers the woman’s life.


Argentina currently has a female president, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner.


AROUND AROUND THE THE WORLD WORLD by Sofía Karadogan and Lara Karadogan

Germany’s prime minister is Angela Merkel, who was elected in 2005. She became the first female prime minister of Germany.

In Lebanon, women are allowed to vote only after proving they have had an elementary education. The same is not required for men. Women in Syria are required to have a male companion with them when out in public.

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is Liberia’s current president, and came to power in 2006. Before becoming president, Sirleaf also served as Minister of Finance.

In Pakistan, women have limited marriage rights. They are expected to accept arranged marriages despite their will.


a&e December 2015 , du nce a D


Do you sing or dance alone in your room?

Of course!

Summer or winter? Summer









How did it go?

Do you have good grades?


Tatoos or no?


What phone do you own?

No! Yes!


Ever given your number out to a stranger?


Are you sensitive? No


Are you always confused? No


What 2015 hit song are you?



Were you in love this year?

Are you a romantic?

Do you take a long time to get ready?


yon ce


What’s up?


Do you like spending time alone?


Have you ever had a crush on an actor? No

How do you greet people? What’s that?


What do you want in 2016?

Would you rather jam out to pop or rap?


Instagram theme?



What has your overall 2015 mood been? Happy

A quiz that determines which song you most identify with!

Yes No




“What Do You Mean?” by Justin Bieber

“Love myself” by Hailee Steinfeld

You love yourself and you aren’t afraid to show it. You love looking good and your’e outgoing.

You’re always a little confused and ask a lot of questions, but there’s nothing wrong with that!

“Hotline Bling” by Drake

by Leah Marcus and Rachel Frost 6

You’re the crazy one out of your friend group and you aren’t afraid to take risks.

“Hello” by Adele

You have been in many relationships and you love it! You’re determined to make them work.

“Like I'm Gonna Lose You” by Meghan Trainor

You’re sensitive and caring and that’s why people love you. Keep it up!



Photography Joey Lohmann

Acknowledging the Tragic Events of the Past Months


e here at The Mark would like to acknowledge the Nov. 13 Paris attacks. As students and members of the international community, we mourn the loss of Parisians and wish to stand with them in solidarity. In addition to the Paris attacks, we must understand and address the attacks in the Middle East. We continue to hear about tragic shootings and bombings in Lebanon. However, many turn a blind eye to these attacks, thinking that they are insignifcant because they are a regular occurance in Middleeastern countries. It is time that we recognize every individual life, regardless of ethnicity, location, or political afďŹ liation. More recently than the Paris or Lebanon attacks, the we have seen violent attacks on our own soil with the Nov. 27 Planned Parenthood shooting. Events like this shape our communities and our ideas. Let us appreciate and recognize all the hundreds of lives lost last month and come together in international unity.

by The Mark Staff


FEATURE december 2015


ears after the notorious stock market crash of 2008, Silicon Valley’s technology industry flourished, skyrocketing to heights that had not been seen since the “dot-com era” in the late 90s. The sudden wealth and popularity of Silicon Valley-based companies such as Facebook, Apple and Google attracted tech-savvy people looking for high paying jobs. This next wave of a wealthier population increased property value throughout the Silicon Valley, raising rent most notably in Belle Haven, East Palo Alto and Redwood City, where the majority of Menlo-Atherton High School students live. Executive Director of the San Francisco Organizing Project and Peninsula Interfaith Action, Dr. Jennifer Martinez explains, "Large high-tech companies pay their employees many times that of the average salary in those cities. Those [employees] are able to pay more rent and that's what landlords want, higher paying renters, so as a result [tech workers] can outcompete everyday workers in the housing market." SFOP and PIA work throughout local communities in the Bay Area on issues regarding racial and economic justice. Gentrification is an umbrella

term for the arrival of wealthier people into an existing community, resulting in higher property values and changes to the character of the community. Tomiko Fronk, a teacher at Menlo-Atherton, comments on gentrification affecting her students, “These people are coming in with tons of resources and lots of money and I think it’s hard to watch for some of my students when they don’t have all that.” She explains, “It affects [students’] attendance, it affects their schoolwork, it affects their grades, and it’s just hard on the whole family.” In a class of 17, 12 students said that they and their families had been affected by rising rents where they live. One student, who chose to remain anonymous, recollected that when rents were raised, “We had to sell all of our stuff. Back then we couldn’t afford beds, or a couch.” Another student from the same class remembers that he had to leave his house and move into a duplex, where he had to sell his dog. Fronk explains, “My students who live in Belle Haven [...] are watching the Facebook campus being built and [...] are seeing new people coming into the neighborhood that don’t necessari-

ly look like people who might typically live there. I think it’s something that is worrisome because they don’t know how long they are going to be living in the community that they grew up in.” The Facebook campus referred to by Mrs. Fronk is named “Anton Menlo” and is roughly three miles from the Facebook headquarters. (Facebook neglected to interview regarding affordable housing issues in Silicon Valley.) The housing complex is supposed to be completed in roughly one year. It is one of many St. Anton housing complexes throughout the Bay Area. The vice president of development at St. Anton, Ardie Zahedani explains, “It is important to put housing next to employers so that it takes pressure of the transportation system and it’s better for the environment.” Though dubbed “Facebook’s company town” by Urban Land Magazine, the new housing complex is set to have 394 units that are available to anyone. Zahedani explains, “Facebook helped with some of the strategic design. They let us survey their employees and they also helped fund some of the affordable units.” The Anton Menlo Housing complex will mimic the average rent in Red-


FEATURE complex, “In addition to revitalizing what was once an underserved area and infusing capital into the local government's finances, we are improving the roadways, adding new sidewalks, bike lanes, lighting, and also providing housing where it is needed most in the community.” Even though the construction of Anton Menlo creates many possible benefits for the Belle Haven community, the large and comparatively expensive complex has also resulted in many unforeseen consequences. Most significantly, the rate at which rents rise will continue if not increase, and Belle Haven will continue to be gentrified into another typical Silicon Valley town. Out of the 17 students surveyed above, all of them said gentrification was unfair, and 10 said that rising rents and gentrification ultimately hurt the community and the people living there. One anonymous student comments, “It is not fair because they just want to kick you out of there and rent to other people that can afford it with no problem.” Eviction, though unintended, is almost unavoidable when large tech companies arrive and spur the development of expensive housing. As one student at M-A explains,

“Not everyone gets paid the same amount as the wealthy.” Consequently, that is why SFOP and PIA work to provide economic justice throughout the Bay Area. “The marketplace is not a place for fairness, it is a place for profit making,” Martinez explains. “Communities determine fairness and in our communities, a lot of people are declaring, including public policy makers, that this isn't a fair system. We need working class people in our communities, yet we are treating them so badly just to make a profit.” To help ease the severity of the housing crisis throughout local communities Martinez explains that change “is only going to happen by policy regulation that regulates the rate at which rent can rise [...] the problem isn't about more housing, it is about the kind of housing.” Explaining that lower income housing is necessary, Martinez concludes that entire communities need to demand new laws and regulations that could ease the severity of the housing crisis. Currently, SFOP and PIA are “working on getting tenant protections passed in several cities and the county of San Mateo, which means rent stabilization. This would limit the per-

centage of increase that a rent can go up on an annual basis. We are working so that people can't get evicted just so that the landlord can get more rent which is what is happening right now.” Fronk describes what she sees among the spectrum of students at M-A, “There is a huge equity problem between different socioeconomic classes. There is the haves and the have-nots. The gap is huge and all you have to do is look at the different types of students we have here at M-A.” While some students at M-A live in the richest neighborhoods in America with parents in the technology industry, most others live in the shadow of Silicon Valley’s wealth. Most of these students are part of working class families who are disadvantaged by the vast influence that the tech companies have. If the gentrification of our local communities continues to push our students and their families out of their homes, the very diversity that M-A prides itself in may disappear entirely.

by Reid Diamond and Bradley Stillman

Is the cost of technology in M-A’s backyard worth the price? Photography Reid Diamond


FEATURE december 2015

Be yondBelief by Chantel Stelliga

Inside the Church of Scientology

*The student’s name has been changed to protect their identity.


t’ s not what you think. This faith has no relation to science. Scientology is a religion owned by a corporation that began in 1954 after its founder, L. Ron Hubbard wrote a science fiction novel entitled, “Dianetics.” The idea of Scientology revolves around the concept of human souls being bettered by completing OT levels (levels of learning in Scientology), donating money, and clearing negative memories through a process called auditing. This so-called “cult” has gained attention from the media since celebrities such as Tom Cruise and John Travolta have taken part in it. Scientology has a negative reputation on the internet and in the media. In fact, if you search “Scientology”on Google images, memes of aliens and UFOs show up. However, this religion isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. After speaking with Casey*, and getting to know his experience with the church, I have a better understanding of what Scientology

GLOSSARY E-meter: a tool used by the auditor in auditing sessions to remove traumatic memories from Scientologists Auditing: the process of an auditor collecting personal information and memories from a church member in order to be bettered spiritually Sea Org: an organization made up of the church’s most dedicated members. They sign their lives away to the church, and travel around and do tasks for them to show dedication. OT Levels: levels of learning Scientology Declared: the act of being rejected or removed from the church Suppresive Person: a current member of the church who suprpressed others and themselves by speaking negatively of the church Thetan: reborn souls that exist in humans. It is a physical explanation for reincarnation. Reges: members of the Church who

10 beg other members for donations.

aims to be. Its intentions are honorable in trying to improve people’s lives, but they have some unconventional practices. Casey’s family was a part of the church long before he was born. Both of Casey’s grandparents, his relatives, and his parents have been involved in the church. Casey’s family left the church in 2010, but it was not an easy process. His mom reached OT eight, and his dad reached OT seven. They were high class and dedicated members of the church. Casey’s family was often visited and harassed by the reges to come back to the church and donate money. “I was not declared yet, they found our address. We have a gate. My mom and my dad were home. I wasn’t home. Some guy hops the fence.” These reges even told Casey’s parents that they were “ruining [their] children’s lives” when they planned to leave the church. Despite receiving ridicule from members of the church, Casey remembers that “it’s nice to be part of a community where you believe in the same things.” A child’s experiences in the Church of Scientology are far different from an adult’s. Children go to school at the church while parents are auditing or studying so they can reach new OT levels. While Casey was attending school through the church he was taught things like “how to be happy, take care of yourself, treat others the way you want to be treated,” and more. Scientology intends to teach positivity, but with an odd approach. The adults see the more negative aspects of the religion, and are constantly pressured to donate money to the church. “There were many many times where these reges would lock my parents in a room until they gave money. When I was a kid my parents would go in a room and I would be like, ‘Oh yea, they are with the reges.’” To a child raised in Scientology, these odd practices seem like a regular routine. Because some of the principle beliefs of Scientology were taught to Casey at a very young age, they seemed very normal. “I was just taught we own

our bodies, we are thetans inside. When we pass away our thetan lives on and you go and attach on a new body. As a person you also have other thetans attached on to you. And the further and deeper you get into Scientology, these go away. And you become a higher person. You become a better person.” Casey is thankful that his family has left the church. He admits, “I think back and I don’t think about all the terms we used. It’s really weird to think back to that community.” Ever since leaving the church, he has realized how odd these terms may seem to an outsider. “We were taught you are not allowed to look up the religion online. So then after you look it up, you’re like, ‘Oh?’” He is thankful that his parents are around more, and that he didn’t lose them when they decided to leave the church. If you leave the church, you are not allowed to associate with those who are involved. The people who are declared, or talk negatively of the church, are labelled as “suppressive” people. It is believed that these people are holding themselves back from seeking the truth of Scientology, which is why they are seen as troubled or disastrous humans through the eyes of its members. “It’s scary to see people chose a religion over their son or daughter. Which I have seen. I am extremely lucky to not have lost someone of that importance,” he reveals. Casey feels comfortable to joke about his experiences in the church, which shows his strength in being able to put the past behind him. When I asked how someone shows their dedication to the church, he responded, “through money.” As funny as it may sound, it is true. “I think it’s definitely a cult and a commercial organization, says Casey, believing that “they know what they are doing.” Whether or not Scientology can be classified as a religion due to its commercial aspects, it aims to help people live positive lives. Casey’s experience with Scientology reveals that this “cult” has its moments.

“It’s scary to see people chose a religion over their son or daughter.”


Terms to Know Intersex: A health condition, often present at birth, involving anatomy or physiology that differs from societal expectations of male and female.

Trans Truth

Gender role: A set of social, physical, psychological and emotional traits, often influenced by societal expectations, that classify an individual as feminine, masculine, androgynous or other.

Olliver Pelayo’s Take on the M-A Trans Community

Bisexual: A person who has significant sexual, romantic and/or spiritual attractions to both men and women or someone who identifies as a member of this community. Queer: A traditionally pejorative

term for LGBTQ people that has been reclaimed by some LGBTQ activists, who use it self-descriptively as a means to empower the LGBTQ community.

Transgender: An umbrella term for people whose gender identity and/ or gender expression differs from the sex they were assigned at birth.

Transphobia: The fear or hatred of transgender people, often expressed as discrimination, harassment and violence. Gender nonconforming:

Behaving in a way that does not match social stereotypes about female or male gender, usually through dress or physical appearance.

Discrimination: The different and unfair treatment of certain groups of people based on specific characteristics, such as race, religion, age, sex, disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity. Gay: A term that can be used to describe either a man or woman whose primary sexual and romantic attraction is to a person who is the same sex as themselves.


lthough gender roles have progressed significantly within the past few decades, some things have not changed. As I look into the life of Olliver Pelayo, a senior at Menlo-Atherton, I realize that the gender roles of high school are hurting our trans-youth. Although many people and administrators have been supportive of Pelayo’s transition, he believes that society continues to make careless errors that hurt the transgender community. While M-A has gender-neutral bathrooms, they are too few and far between. The lack of accessability forces Pelayo to use the women’s restrooms because of how, “uncomfortable using the men’s bathroom” can be. Pelayo explains that other boys do not think he presents himself as male, leaving Pelayo in an uncomfortable situation. Pelayo came out two years ago as transgender, and although teachers were informed of the situation, he was still misgendered and deadnamed. After experiencing this for a while, Pelayo felt that sticking up for himself wasn’t worth the embarrassment and conflict of constantly correcting people and asking them to use proper gender pronouns. It is important to overcome that

conflict in order to advance as a society. Stereotypes don’t uphold. Even at M-A “stereotypes don’t really hold up and gender isn’t as important a thing as society holds it to be,” according to Pelayo. One thing that Pelayo wants M-A to be aware of is that misgendering anyone degrades their self-confidence and hurts what that person has worked to achieve. “You have to conscientiously unlearn what you know about gender to learn and accept what one is going through in a transition,” says Pelayo. So if you ever find yourself in a situation where you have misgendered someone, it is important to just apologize and not make a big deal out of it so that you don’t embarrass the person. Another thing that people are not aware of is that publicity in the media can also have a negative effect on transgender people and kids who don’t want the attention. Publicity spreads negative awareness along with the people who don’t agree that being transgender is okay. With a better education on the transgender community, society will hopefully take the steps to create a more accepting environment.

by Taylor Shantz 11

cover December 2015


h e seemingly simple choice of what to eat each day and where to get it from is one of the most important ethical decisions we, as a conscious population, face day in and day out. It is a decision that resides in factors outside of ourselves and forces us to examine the principles we hold at our core. Yet, to be completely aware of what you are eating and indirectly supporting through your eating habits is more difficult than is necessary with supermarkets bursting with processed and chemically enhanced food. The food industry decorates its products with tall tales of humane animal treatment and elaborate diction, or as Michael Pollan calls it in “Omnivore’s Dilemma”, “supermarket pastoral,” in order to disguise the often-disturbing truth of how their products are made. Enter, veganism. As new studies emerge with insights about the effect of eating meat and other animal products on one’s health and investigations reveal the conditions in factory farms, dietary choices, such as the vegan, vegetarian, paleo, and pescatarian diets, that take into account these factors. Beethoven Gerber, a Menlo-Atherton senior who has been vegan for eight months, comments that, “The main reasons one may choose to become vegan usually fall under combating animal cruelty, protecting the environment and conserving resources, or to maintain a healthy and natural lifestyle.” The vegan diet excludes all animal products including dairy proucts, eggs, meat, fish, poultry, cosmetics tested on animals, leather, and sometimes honey and other insect products. Although the common misconception about veganism is that it is difficult to find enough protein or nutrients in the diet, it is often the opposite, while it may take a little more effort than an omnivore might experience. Without high cholesterol foods like eggs in one’s system, a vegan’s chance of suffering from cardiovascular disease would lessen. Other diseases linked to the consumption of meat, and therefore, large amounts of proteins and fats, include, “heart disease, colon and lung cancer, osteoporosis, diabetes, kidney disease, hypertension, obesity, and a number of other debilitating conditions,” according to the Vegan Awareness Association. It is common knowledge that the conditions in feedlots where our meat is raised are far from the idea of farm life is taught in school. Cattle have instinctively grazed on grass and have unique organs to process that grass. However, as a result of surplus farming of inedible corn, the food industry has migrated towards feeding their cattle on corn injected with hormones, antibiotics, and protein, which they are not anatomically designed or able to process. Caged in and not allowed to graze, the act of eating corn on a daily basis cuts a cow’s life shorter than the average 25 years. In addition to their captivity, milk cows are slaughtered after their production rates slow, when they are about 5 years old. In a 2010 United Nations report that encouraged the vegan diet to cut down on greenhouse gas emissions, Professor Edgar Hertwich compared the food industry, a more conspicuous culprit of environmental harm, to other, more clearly harmful industries when he commented that, “Animal products cause more damage than [producing] construction minerals such as sand or cement, plastics or metals. Biomass and crops for animals are as damaging as [burning] fossil fuels.” If you could alter this crash course we have placed the world on, would you? It comes down to your ecological footprint and the resources, both renewable and largely non-renewable, that are required to support your lifestyle. But wait, it gets simpler. Humans are a part of the circle of life, wouldn’t you say? So it’s our choice between predator and prey and an obvious one at that.




eganism seems simple, logical even. The only way to save animals from the chopping block is to eliminate the need for animals and their byproducts altogether. Right? Although many believe that veganism is the only way to live a morally conscious lifestyle, it is yet to be proven whether or not the eating habits of vegans have affected the mass animal manufacturing industry. Occupying less than 1 percent of the American population, the approximately 1 million vegans in the United States are enormously outweighed by the almost 318 million others that consume animals or animal byproducts every day. As a result of this, the meat industry continues to thrive. While drastic veganism does not impact the meat industry in the way many vegans hope, there are other eating options that do provide such results. For example, supporting small, local farms can provide income to farmers who practice humane animal production, while at the same time reducing the income of the mass meat production industry. This way, consumers can benefit from the nutritional benefits of a partially meat based diet while also upholding their moral values as to the treatment of animals. By supporting local, free-range livestock farms, consumers take business away from the mass meat industry and bring it into the hands of farms who raise livestock in a humane environment. Although many people become vegan to advocate for the rights of animals, it has become increasingly common to see women becoming vegan in hopes of achieving a healthier lifestyle and, in many cases, a better body. Although these vegans are motivated to become healthier, there is a fine line between self-control and obsession. Amidst the sea of eating disorders prevalent throughout society, many fail to acknowledge orthorexia nervosa, or the obsession with eating healthfully. The stress caused by cutting all animal products out of one’s diet can lead to an unhealthy obsession with food, eventually leading to a deterioration of one’s quality of life. Lastly, eating a plant based diet can be costly and in many cases unsustainable. The amount of food required to create a healthy vegan diet is for many unaffordable. For the growing and/or athletic teenager, a vegan diet can’t always supply the nutrients and protein needed to stay healthy and happy. While a vegan diet may work for some, in the end, going vegan is a personal choice that differs from person to person. Despite many vegan’s efforts to improve the lives of animals, it is equally important to respect fellow humans and their diets. Often, a vegan diet can cause one to forget to respect the lifestyles of those around them, leading many to find veganism obnoxious and question whether going vegan is really worth it.


cover December 2015



s someone who doesn’t believe in fate, I have spent most of my life struggling with the concept of soulmates. To me, the idea that there is only one person out there for you in a world of 7 billion people is absolutely terrifying. I’m not here to argue that soulmates don’t exist, but rather to assert that everyone has multiple. I don’t believe in destiny, nor am I inclined to put all my faith in the idea that I may or may not be lucky enough to stumble upon that one person I am meant to spend the rest of my life with, but I do believe it likely that my “soulmate” exists amongst a small group of people. The frontrunner of this group is not dependent on some predestined decision, but rather on where I am (both geographically and emotionally) in my life. People are complex, people are ever-changing. Who my “soulmate” is at 23 is contingent upon who I am at 23, and the same is true for who my soulmate is at 53. Assuming that I change over those 30 years, who my soulmate is might change as well. Equivalently, in a long-term relationship, one person might change while the other remains the same, therefore no longer making the pair complimentary. Thus, divorcing the person you believed to be your soulmate in your 20s is not always indicative of a mistake, but rather of personal evolution. The concept of soulmates is certainly not a recent development, and has become deeply ingrained in our society. Plato popularized the idea in his philosophical text, “The Symposium,” in which he discusses the Greek mythology story that claims humans “were originally created with four arms, four legs and a head with two faces. Fearing their power, Zeus split them into two separate parts, condemning them to spend their lives in search for other halves.” Though the religion of ancient Greece is no longer in 14

Do Soulmates practice, Plato’s ideology remains prevalent, affecting people’s concept of love. As I write this, I am still inclined to write soulmates with quotation marks, almost subconsciously mocking the very concept I am writing to defend. Because of its close association with the ideas of fate and destiny, ideas my pragmatic (albeit, slightly cynical) mind refuses to accept, the idea of soulmates is where the opposing romantic and realistic sides of my mind meet. At 17, it may be presumptuous of me to define soulmates in such a definitive manner. Love is complicated, love is abstract, and when you’re a teenager with so little life experience to reflect back on, it’s hard to to ascertain if you have really found one of your “soulmates.” It is not improbable that I will look back at this article years from now and scoff at my naive words. Putting my naiveté aside, however, I can argue with some certainty that there is a distinction between any relationship and a “soulmate” relationship. There’s a difference between getting along with your significant other and fitting with them. If soulmates are perfectly fitting puzzle pieces, then members of other relationships are mismatched pieces of similar colors. Aesthetically pleasing, but ultimately not meant to last. Throughout your life, your soul might need different fulfillments; creative fulfillment, energetic fulfillment, support-

ive fulfillment. The relationship you find to fulfill whatever cavity you may have does not have to be a romantic one. Soulmates are not necessarily limited to romantic relationships. At the end of this article, I fear I have lost myself along the way. In all likelihood, I won’t know who my soulmates have been until I am looking back over my life whilst reclining in a rocking chair.

by Molly Kearnan


Exist? I

Photography Lauren Bruce

think everyone would love to believe that their soulmate exists. But to me the idea of the two people perfectly meant for each other forever is not probable. Even if it is true, it seems unlikely that someone would meet their significant other and be able to recognize that they were soulmates. Some people spend their life waiting for the perfect one and disregard other candidates because of ridiculous reasons like height or income. I suppose being a teenager makes me a poor candidate to talk about love, but I feel like it’s actually quite the opposite. When you are young, you are open to new concepts and philosophies about love but realities sink in when a prenup is signed or he/she de-


cides it was all a faux-pas. Maybe it’s the media or all the romantic comedies that have gotten people all hyped up love and the idea of one perfect person. We skip by Dirty Dancing or Love Actually on Netflix and don’t think twice about the writer’s intention of selling something everyone knows is hard to get. The idea that a soulmate could make someone feel happy, satisfied and aware of the beauties of life by “completing them” doesn’t make sense to me. Why would someone want to be happy

by Taylor Shantz


l l i W ? s s d d n i e K r r T u t t u O o a Wh arrashsthe in and b bot Em cover December 2015


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DVDs Despite the fact that these may seem like a “21st century” and technologically advanced thing, DVDs will likely be forced out by streaming. It will likely amaze the next generation that at one point we physically put a disc into a machine in order to watch a movie. And what if we didn’t have the movie? We had to go all the way to a store and then bring it all the way back when we were done. Thank goodness our kids won’t have to deal with that craziness.

Hey Bae!


“Mom, why is like ha this photo?” “That was an old trend you would dye your h powder called Cool-ai hair in it.” “That is so weird, mom hair with food?” “Well, it wasn’t exa certainly wasn’t we “Nope that’s we weird.”

Duck Lips “Wait Mom, why do you look like you look like you just kissed a lemon in this photo?” “What? Oh honey haha, that was the thing in my day, it’s called duck lips.” “Duck lips, like how long did they stay like that?” “Sweetie ahaha it was a pose it doesn’t involve an operation, silly.” “Oh, well with your face all squished up you look like, well a duck.”

“Hey look at this weird comment I found on Dad’s old Insta photo...” “The squad pulls up and your bae’s in the back seat, You really feelin dat swag with your brows on fleek, Walk up to da car there only room in the front doe, But it really don’t matter cuz, honestly, yolo.”

Exceptional Modeling 16 Katie Moffitt

Kids Parents

CoolDip D

Ear Gauge

“Dad, your friend has som earrings in this photo!” “Oh ya, wow I forgot about were called ear gauges.” “Gauges, what were they?” “Hmm, how do I explain? we ty much you pierce your ear stretch the hole until it’s re “WHAT?! That’s disgustin must have hurt so bad! W didn’t want it anymore? “Well, you were kinda screwed I guess.”

ol-aid Dying

e half your hair red in

rend when I was a kid, ur hair with this drink ol-aid by dipping your

mom. You colored your

The Whip


When parents crank out the dance moves it usually starts with the sprinkler and ends in your annoyed eye-rolling. Now imagine twenty years into the future. Your kids are doing some modern robot and you decide to bring out the whip and nae nae. Your foot hits the ground, perfectly synchronized with your fist. Such pain you feel, watching the horrified looks on your childrens’ faces.

exactly food, and it t weird back then.” weird, definitely

r ges

some huge ” out those. They

y?” ? well pretear and then s really big.” sting! That d! What if you ore? inda s.”

REMEMBER THESE? Let’s look back and remember the hype over those fun, incredible and undeniably revolutionary shaped pieces of rubber. “Pleaseee mom, dad, they’re so cool! You can even wear them like a bracelet!” All the trading and arguing got so heated that some schools even had to ban the bands. But oh, no. That did not stop us.

Silly Bands


“What the heck is this picture?!” “That, oh just a thing us kids liked to do, pretty funny huh?”

“I-- don’t get it…” Ahaha well actually me either but you see you just “plank” everywhere and all the time, it was real fun joke.” “Plank?” so you just lay down. Flat.” “Well there’s more to it than that. It was a step, a statement, a movement toward self-expression! You’ll understand when you’re older.” “Mom, was there something in your eye in this picture? You look hilarious.” “No, there wasn’t anything in my eye, sweetie. It was just something we did back then.” “Wait, so you chose to look like that.” “Yes, it did. It was cool.” “You look like you think your a secret agent or something….”


take a minute and think about Shutter Shades Just how incredibly impractical those were. Apparently, they blocked the sun by having little slits in them to see through. Not only did we look absolutely hilarious, but our eyes would have much prefered regular sunglasses that have worked fine for a good 9 decades now.


cover December 2015



by Lauren Bruce


hether it’s a story of perilous adventure like “The Hunger Games” or a journey of self-recovery like Cheryl Strayed’s “Wild,” books of unmatched emotional understanding overpower their movie counterparts. In a world entranced Lord by the visually outstanding and easy storytelling of a movie, peoof the ple often overlook the element of intrigue that books have brought Rings for centuries. But many of those who choose to read agree they find a heightened sense of self when exploring a great book. Particularly essential details cannot be fully expressed in the by movie versions of popular literature, as the time constraint forces proJR R Tolkien ducers to leave out certain aspects. When creating a script based off a well-loved book, movie writers face the inevitable hurdle of condensing a book crammed with crucial elements into a 2-hour film. With movies like “Lord of the Rings” and “Pride and Prejudice” this meant cutting characters, scenes or even assigning spoken lines to different characters than those who spoke them in the book. This eliminates an element that the author thought necessary to include, sometimes leaving plot holes in the film. In the satirical “Pride and Prejudice,” the producers chose to eliminate the Gardner family entirely and arrange conversations Harry to take place in different scenes in order to trim down the story. This Potter eliminated certain events that the author Jane Austen thought important to include. Not to mention confused those AP Literature students who frightfully chose to watch the movie version rather than read the book. Without a movie version, these students would not have been lured by J.K Rowling to this mistake or have been dreadfully mislead with wrong details. Apart from those who have a perplexed affection for movies, many Menlo-Atherton students have a developed love for certain books and series and often find themselves disappointed by their movie counterparts. Jaya Blanchard, a senior at M-A, has read the “Harry Potter” series multiple times and can attest to their greatness. She reflects that while the books and movies remain “separate entities” in The her mind, no movie could truly express the vast world of wizards that Hunger Games their author J.K. Rowling wove for the world. “I feel that books and the movies that interpret them are very separate entities. With the “Harry Potter” books, producers were faced with the genuinely impossible task of creating a world as fantastic as that which J.K. Rowling wove by Suzanne in her books.” This task, truly impossible as Blanchard put, created a Collins challenge for writers and producers that inevitably led to some disappointed fans. While some chose to accept the workings of the films as separate entities, many more felt the troubling effects that movies have brought to our society that I, myself, have experienced many times. From my own experience, I have felt that certain books I have loved have been weakened by their movie versions. After reading “Wild” by Cheryl Strayed and being enthralled by the inspirational writing, I set out to watch the movie that was released soon after. The Great However, I was unimpressed with the turnout. While reading the book Gatsby I developed a deep connection to the main character. I understood the imbedded trauma that caused her to complete a three-month trek on the by f. scott fitzgerald Pacific Crest Trail, a 2,650 mile long trail that runs through California and Oregon all the way up to Canada. While Strayed completed about half of this daunting distance, it was not so much about the magnitude of how far she went, but the power of her determination to repair her sense of self after many years of traumatic events. However, in 18




the movie version I experienced no such connection. In fact, I felt distinctly disconnected to the “Cheryl” on screen. Since I was not able to hear her inner thoughts as I could in the book, I did not feel like I was right there with her as she pushed through her journey. Many of her breakdowns were left unexplained because the movie ignored parts of her background which were critical to her story. Although the movie showed flashbacks which partially explained the events that premised her decision to hike, the true extent of these experiences were left to interpretation, disconnecting the audience from her character. And this familiar feeling of disconnection that I experienced with “Wild” resonated with other books as well. When I read the “Fault in Our Stars” I was moved by character development and how realistic their actions held to many teenagers. However, the movie fell short of my expectations. The characters did not move the way that they did in the book through troubling scenarios and I felt like the end of the movie came all too suddenly. Where they did cast compelling actors who portrayed the characters justifiably, I felt like they simply glossed over some of the most important scenes. Senior Elena Belk reflects similarly on her experience with the “Percy Jackson” films. “They completely switched the plots,” she disclosed. “The primary female character was sexualized and didn’t really get the chance to contribute in the movies while Percy’s friend was reduced to a lame sidekick with cringe worthy one-liners.” As with Belk’s experience, poor casting can ruin a movie even though it contains a tremendous plot. As for the “Percy Jackson” film franchise, Belk felt that the movie version had both wrongfully casted characters and spoiled the plot of the movie. Unlike in films, between the pages of books there is room to grow with the characters. While movies can be watched in just hours, books can take weeks to complete. In the time that it takes to read a book, many people develop a bond with the characters that is created through access to the characters’ deepest thoughts. This prompts the reader to reflect on the characters’ actions over time and contemplate how they feel about the scenarios. This time element is eliminated in a movie. The movie condenses books into specific events that are crucial to the plot without allowing the characters to fully develop as they do in books. Belk has felt the effect that a timed movie has on her connection to characters. “Movies often have to take a different approach, but by changing the plot, characters and key moments, you lose some of the original magic which drew so many people to the book in the first place.” The level of intimacy developed between character and reader grows from thoughtful writing and unfortunately this connection is often lost in the movie versions when the time frame is shortened. Although many people find themselves enticed by the time-saving element of films or the visual experience that movies often try to bring to books, it is best for readers to accept movies based off of novels as a parallel to the original story. Comparing your favorite book to the movie version often leads to disappointment. While movies can be exciting and enticing, books of progressive concept and thrilling adventure can heep greater internal reward. So instead of jumping straight into the movie, every once in awhile take a moment and treat yourself to the art of the written word.






by Selim Karahan


t a certain point in your life, someone has probably argued with you for claiming that a page-to-screen movie is better than its respective book. Common misconceptions regarding film adaptations state that they do not do justice to their corresponding powerful works of literature because of missing details or major flaws in the plot. While this is sometimes true, and books are wonderful works of art that can represent human excellence, many film adaptations are incredibly successful at conveying the powerful emotions of their story. Films, unlike books, are able to relay true emotion and human capacity for art. Actor portrayals, visual scenes, special effects, and music all bring books to life in a way that the text itself cannot. Acting is crucial in capturing the essence of characters and in moving the audience through visual interaction. Human portrayals of roles not only help the audience envision their favorite characters, but also encourages the audience’s with them and helps them feel more emotion for the story. Words on a page cannot convey the intense level of emotion displayed in films. Visual representation is undoubtedly one of the most captivating and powerful forms of art. Take the “Harry Potter” movie series, for instance. Many will argue that the books are better, asserting that many crucial details were left out of the movies. However, the films are undeniably well-made. The special effects, music, and set design – all things that come from the films – help to create an image of Hogwarts that are now associated with the “Harry Potter” series worldwide. In addition to the visual aspects of films, movies are more appealing to audiences in many

ways. People are easily distracted from books, while their film counterparts, if well-made, catch your attention and hook you onto the story. Also, films are more visually pleasing and fun than a 400-page book that can easily bore the reader. This visual representation helps to catch the audience’s attention more than a novel that many get distracted from reading. Sophomore Joey Lohmann has been a fan of the “Hunger Games” series ever since the first book came out. As a fan of the books, he prefers the novels in their originality. However, contrary to many “Hunger Games” enthusiasts who

bash the movies, he appreciates the films for how they have depicted the novels. “I think that the movies are done well,” says Lohmann. “The actors that they chose were good, and [the movies] help to visually illustrate what’s going on.” Maybe movies aren’t always better than their book counterparts. They’re not flawless. They can’t always live up to the glory that written works present. But they do bring an element of life and expressiveness that is often missing from book pages. And by recreating the author’s vision, they can appeal to anyone looking for a fun story to watch.

Sketch Chantel Stelliga 19

cover December 2015

Coors Smirnoff


under the influence

All students interviewed in this article prefer to remain anonymous


rinking alcohol and smoking marijuana have played a significant role in teenage culture for many generations. Is substance abuse inevitable, or are teenagers simply just irresponsible and reckless? This one of the biggest questions that parents and teachers continuously ask themselves, and it leads to many conflicts regarding substance abuse and its effects. Whether teenagers are conforming to society or mindlessly abusing drugs and alcohol, it does not change the fact that 79.6 percent of students surveyed at Menlo-Atherton smoke marijuana and 76.7 percent drink alcohol.

83% of students surveyed beleive that drinking and smoking is a social norm. 20

by Sofia Bergmann and Brooke Faulkner

Historically, students cave to peer pressure at parties where smoking is standard; these are what we call the “social smokers,” in their attempt to adhere to popular culture, they tend to remain conservative with drug use. Other students openly revealed that medical cannabis has been the only medicine effective in helping with physical pain or with severe anxiety. In addition, insomniacs admitted that smoking before bed ensures a restful sleep that improves their performance in school and sports; these are what we consider the “medical smokers.” However, the majority of high school students simply smoke every so often to “chill” and enjoy themselves with their friends to loosen up and have fun; we like to call these the “casual smokers.” Many who personally decide not to smoke and may serve as a safe driver for their friends after parties are the “bystanders.” “I’m not necessarily against smoking and drinking, and I think it’s fine if my friends do it, but I don’t particularly like the feeling. That’s why I usually drive and make sure my friends are being safe when we go out.” The term “stoner,” on the other hand, is starting to contradict many adults’ ideas of the definition of a “stoner” or a “pot-head.” Many who smoke marijuana several times a week and fall under the stereotypical stoner category still might

not consider themselves a stoner simply because they are able to balance it with school and sports. “I smoke weed pretty much every day but I still like to think that I’m not getting carried away because my grades are good, I’m a varsity athlete and my parents are still proud of me,” shares a senior who refuses to associate themselves with the term “stoner.” Many students at M-A were raised in multicultural backgrounds in which drinking is very common. “Both my parents immigrated from Europe, and drinking is a huge part of the culture. My parents encourage me to drink with them so I can know my limits in a safe environment.” Others drink simply to let loose and be a part of the social scene. However, most students surveyed expressed an understanding of the negative effects of alcohol as 72.8 percent noted that alcohol affects one’s life. Furthermore, there are countless studies that show how alcohol and marijuana abuse play a huge role in brain development. Until the age of 25, one’s prefrontal cortex of the brain is not fully formed. Alcohol and marijuana hinder this development, making logical thinking and common sense more difficult. Subsequently, many teenagers cannot foresee the effects until adulthood

“Kids engaging with these substances clearly are escaping a prob-

cover when brain functions such as memory, learning, and impulse control become significantly impaired. A study done in New Zealand showed that frequent marijuana users who started in their adolescence lost an average of eight IQ points. Interestingly enough, the study showed that teens who stopped smoking into adulthood never recovered the IQ points, but the patients who started smoking in adulthood did not lose any IQ points whatsoever. Although teenagers are generally known for their rebellious urge to drink and smoke, some do not cave to this social norm, they believe that “one does not need alcohol or drugs to have fun and spend quality time with friends. I do not believe that the legal and health consequences are worth the risk. I would much rather wait until I am mature enough to mess with alcohol and weed because I don’t want it to interfere with my future.” In addition, Principal Kennel, a former teacher and AVP officer who has had experience with teenage drug abuse, shared that “marijuana is clearly a gateway to other drugs, and when I hear about instances in college, the subsequent dependence on drugs makes it an even bigger risk to young people.” Although studies show that marijuana can lead to harder drugs, 83.3 percent of students who took our survey said they have never tried any other illegal substances besides

marijuana; this leaves us questioning whether smokers at M-A are actually headed down the crack pipe. However, because each person has a different reaction to marijuana, it is completely impossible to tell based on our survey whether a teenage marijuana smoker is more inclined to try hard drugs or not. Considering that addiction depends on genetics, tolerance and exposure, it is surely not a way to cope with personal struggles. “With my experience” Kennel shares, “kids engaging with these substances clearly are escaping a problem because there is usually something going on in this kid’s life. At this point, education and support are most important to catch the problem before it gets worse.” After meeting with a student who dealt with addiction and rehab, it was made clear that this sort of extreme substance abuse is not about being irresponsible

“Drug abuse was an extremely negative part of my life, and rehab was the best thing that ever happened to me”

Percent of students surveyed who believe alcohol abuse affects school, work, relationships and life.

27.2% none

40.8% work 45.6% school

Students who have tried drugs yes 35% besides marijuana. no 65%

yes no  

56.3% relationships

62.1% life

School 60.2%

Work 41.7% Life 62.1%

relationships 50.5% nothing 21.4% Percent of students surveyed who believe marajuana abuse affects school, work, relationships and life. but rather, it is an inner conflict the student is dealing with. “I used drugs, sometimes harder than weed, to escape from the struggles I was going through. I took it way too far, to the point that my parents had to take action and send me to rehab. Drug abuse was an extremely negative part of my life, and rehab was the best thing that ever happened to me. I knew kids who were able to balance their drug use well, but I did not have enough stability in my life to be responsible, which resulted in me having a dangerous dependence on drugs.” After speaking to several different students at M-A as well as conducting a survey about teenage involvement with substance abuse, most kids had strikingly similar views. “My friends and I smoke and drink because it’s fun and it’s what everyone does, not to escape any problems.” Many explained that they’ve “seen people take drinking and smoking too far and it gives me a good example of what not to do. Being exposed to marijuana and alcohol in high school actually helps me be responsible because I can see in front of me how dangerous it can get.” Based on the medical studies, the extent to which one will develop addiction to drugs and alcohol is unclear; the safest and healthiest choice is to stay away from substance abuse all together until one is of age. However, based on the data from our survey and interviews, experimenting with these substances is inevitable among teenagers, even in moderation.


cover December 2015




Do we change? cover December 2015

24.1% agreed with Opinion 1

53.7% agreed with Opinion 3 22.2% agreed with Opinion 2

OPINION 1 by Olivia Tai


t’s your high school reunion, and you haven’t seen most of your classmates in the past 25 years. So much can happen in 25 years — your former classmates might be married with kids, or at the very least, have had decades of experiences that you probably weren’t a part of. You’re anxious to meet old classmates and friends, you will likely ask yourself, “Will we still get along, or have they changed?” However, these worries are unfounded. Of course, your classmates may look or compose themselves differently, but these are only superficial qualities. Your best friends from high school are likely to say “You haven’t changed at all!” because they knew you so well back in the day. They knew your quirks, your fears, who you “really are.” These close friends will be delighted to find you still have the same sense of humor or vivacity. They’ll discover that you haven’t changed much at all, because your core personality doesn’t change throughout your life. The so-called “personality” of an individual is difficult to capture. Yet, your “core personality” is a part of your being that stays consistent from around preschool age through adulthood. There are a range of tests that you can take that will help you define your personality — from the famous Myers-Briggs test to the curious Enneagram and even to the playful “Spirit Animal” quizzes. Menlo-Atherton’s psychology teacher, Lisa Otsuka, explains why these tests were created. She states, “The Myers-Brigg personality test is based on a trait theory, and all of 24

these tests are based off of a notion that we have certain personality traits that are innate.” The Big Five Personality Test, also known as OCEAN, is the most commonly used test in scientific research. OCEAN stands for the five main factors of personality: openness, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism. Cross-cultural research using the OCEAN test has revealed that among different cultures, drastic changes in an individual’s OCEAN results are uncommon. Of course, there are slight fluctuations due to age or gender, which are also known as biological changes. For example, from adolescence to adulthood, most individuals show an increase in agreeableness, becoming more pleasant and easy-going. So next time your parents say you’re being cranky, you can tell them it’s a global issue for all teens. That said, a stable core personality is the most prominent trend throughout the research. While environmental factors like culture or home life are surely influential, your core personality is predominantly inherited. Research has shown that a majority of an individual’s personality is due to his or her heredity. For example, in many twin studies, identical twins, who share 100 percent of their genes, are twice as likely to share personality traits than fraternal twins are, who share only about 50 percent of their genes. Strong evidence suggests genes decide most of human personality, but en-

vironment does matter. Epigenetics, the study of how environmental factors cause genes to “switch on and off,” combines both genetic and environmental arguments. In a research study, rats were trained to associate a certain fragrance, acetophenone, with a painful shock. Afterwards, each time the trained rat would smell acetophenone, it would become startled and fearful. Surprisingly, the researchers found that the rat’s pups also had the same reaction. Yet these pups had never interacted with their father nor were they trained in the same way; the father’s experiences were somehow passed down to his pups. From the results, scientists concluded that experiences or other environmental factors like culture can affect the way cells read your genes, consequently altering personality. Consistent with the studies, Otsuka responded, “I think we are born with a certain predisposition, 100 percent I think that, but I think also there’s no doubt that experience shapes the developing brain and our personalities.” Your core personality doesn’t change much throughout your life. It is undeniable that personality is linked to genetics, which is why your personality is so robust. These inherited traits are constantly expressed by your everyday actions, feelings and behaviors. At a profound level we don’t change significantly, yet it is remarkable that we are all still unique in our own way; no “personality test” can truly capture the richness of a human being.

OPINION 2 by Leah Marcus


efore we can figure out if people’s personalities do change, we need to define “change.” On a physical level, people do change: you get taller, you cut your hair, you change your style. But if you think about it, it is very hard for someone to actually change at the core. Change only occurs after one experiences a life changing event, a drastic moment, or an extremely intense emotional tare down. Take this example: a breakup. Prior to the break-up, the person was starry-eyed and had a stomach full of butterflies. They were lifted off the ground and felt on top of the world. But when they lose the person they’ve put so much time and effort into, they feel worthless. That worthlessness soon turns into strength and power as they realize they have to turn their hurt into certainty. They tell themselves they are better and stronger than the breakup and eventually get over it. They are now able to see the wrongs they’ve done; they’re able to see the rights they’ve done. They are able to notice the people that will hurt them and the people that will love them. They are now stronger-minded than ever and will not let anybody get to them. They changed because they experienced heartbreak. Although the temporary loss of a partner in a relationship is indeed impactful, permanent losses, such as death, can have a much greater effect on a person’s personality. The loss of a parent, for instance, has a much greater effect on the child than when that child breaks up with their boyfriend or girlfriend. Before death, they are just a normal child but after, their world comes crashing down and they don’t have anyone to turn to anymore. They are forced to take care of themselves and become prematurely independent. They will have to act completely differently than they would before. They have to deal with sustaining their happiness instead of letting their identity break apart. They have to keep a smile on their face at school, they have to take care of other loved ones who are also mourning. Not only does the death matter, the way it happened does too. Intentional deaths impact mourners more than accidental deaths do, since they cause people to blame themselves. People who have lost loved ones due to murder and accidents may feel at blame and may beat themselves up to the point where they feel sick to their stomach and can’t sleep.

cover And that’s when they know that they’ve changed. They now see the world differently; they take every second and make it purposeful; they’re nice to everyone and try their hardest not to hurt others because they know what hurt feels like. They’re careful and they’re sensitive, but they’re also stronger. Because not only has this death hurt them and broken each bone in their body over and over again, but it has made them stronger than ever and it has made them see the world as a precious gift that can be taken away any second. As a result of being hurt, people who were once innocent and dependent turn into self-driven, independent and strong. Julian Verbo, a sophomore at M-A, lost his father at a young age. “I took things for granted before, but then after [I lost him] mentally it all just changed ... I had to stay strong in the situation, not just for myself but especially for my mom who then became my mom and dad at the same time and still does that everyday … I had to learn to adapt. Now I have an outlook on life just like how my dad did: to be brave in whatever obstacle life hands you.” Whether it’s a loss, a breakup or another impactful experience, people change and it is totally natural. But we don’t change because of small events like getting a bad grade, we change because of experiences that wound or heal us emotionally and mentally. We change because we can’t control it. We change because life happens and life is full of drastic and painful moments.


by Sofia Karadogan


eople constantly change. Growth is one of the greatest forms of change, caused by exposure to the world along with the accumulation of knowledge gained through experience. Our society functions primarily on the notion that people change throughout their lives. Criminals are sent to jail and are given a second chance because we trust that they will change for the better. While some criminals do return to jail after being let out, those who don’t return prove that people change because they were able to grow and move on from their pasts. Giving each other a second chance on a serious matter is something that is sustained on the belief that people change because people believe that change is possible. As a society, we constantly give people second chances, thus illustrating that change is an expected part of life and that change exists.

Education is another aspect of society that relies on change. Education is based on the firm belief that we can be taught, not just to memorize, but to actually grow into mature adults. With education we are able to grow, think differently, make new connections and have ideas that fully impact our identity entirely. Change is the foundation of who we are because everyone evolves constantly. As a species, it is in our genes to evolve and adapt to our surroundings in order to survive, and so we must be capable to change. As we get exposed to new concepts and ideas, we surely change how we think and what we believe in. Personality is not something that is set in stone, it is something that develops and changes constantly. Our personalities also change over time. A person can be an introvert for the majority of their twenties and later grow to be extroverted later on in their lives without any drastic changes, just accumulated experience through daily life. This is a clear example of a personality change that happens through experience. A study directed by the American Psychological Association tested adults 30 and older for an overall change in their “Big Five” personality traits: conscientiousness, neuroticism, agreeableness, openness and extroversion. Conscientiousness, a trait marked by discipline and organization that is related to success in relationships and work, was seen to increase among the patients over time. This proves that everyone has their own beliefs and ways of life that generally stay consistent on a day to day basis. If someone goes on a trip to a new place, it is likely that their accustomed beliefs will be affected when coming in contact with an entirely new culture and new customs. Many of us will return to our old lives and change how we live them after being so influenced by an exciting journey. This is an example of change because it was a simple trip that changed our internal view on life. Experience is the basis for growth and thus the basis for change.

Want to know what your personality is? Scan this bar code with a QR reader to take the OCEAN personality test.


cover December 2015




Birthday Edition

ersians are crazy about parties. Whether you are turning 16 or 65, there will be a gigantic, overthe-top party for you (at least in my family there is). So when my grandma turned 65 and entered her first official year of seniority, it was a big deal. My giant, Persian family had been anticipating the party for months. My grandma had specifically requested a huge room at her favorite Persian restaurant, Shalizaar; in addition, she ordered a cake along with over 10 trays of kabob and rice, requested a DJ (Persian of course), and invited over 70 guests to her celebration. My family and I drove up to the restaurant about one hour late (because “on time” is an hour late for all Persians), and pulled into the parking lot; our Lexus looked extremely out of place next to all of the Mercedes parked around it (Persians love their Mercedes!). After about two hours of waiting for all of the remaining guests (again, because all Persians arrive late) dinner was served. Dinner consisted of fluffy, buttered rice, perfectly seared kabobs, and a sour yogurt drink called doogh (absolutely delicious by the way). For Persians, alcohol is always included with dinner, which makes for an interesting round of dancing that follows. After dinner, the DJ thanked my grandma for having him (in a thick Persian accent) and started playing upbeat, Persian music. Let me mention that I barely knew anyone at this party. In Persian culture, family is extremely important, which is why my grandma decided to invite the entire family (many of which I couldn’t remember ever meeting). Most of my family members present at the event hadn’t seen me since I was a baby, so I had to deal with painfully awkward interactions the entire night. I endured many questions from distant family members such as “How are you

doing in school?” or “Do you have a boyfriend? ... No? Good, you have plenty of time for that.” Before I knew it, a slightly intoxicated, distant relative was dragging me out to the dance floor and trying to get me to dance with her. I desperately racked my brain, trying to remember who on earth this relative was, but finally gave up and danced with her. After a fun yet awkward hour of dancing, cake was served along with hot tea (a mandatory addition to dessert in the Persian culture). My grandmother thanked all of her friends and family for coming and cut the cake while iPhone cameras flashed all around her (my family is crazy about their Apple products). Even though my grandmother’s birthday party got a bit wild, I had so much fun partying with my family. I love my culture and being able to get together with all of my family members as well. So I leave you with this advice: if you are invited to a Persian party, prepare for one of the most fun nights of your life. Prepare to eat until you feel sick, to dance until your feet feel numb, to meet new relatives you never knew you had, and most importantly, to enjoy the Persian culture.

by Leyla Arabian

Interested in being a guest writer for #PersianLife? Email us at Also, use the hashtag #PersianLife on social media for a chance to be featured in The Mark!


ran is a country with a rich history and strong culture. Iranians, or Persians, have diverse interests ranging from art and music to religion and nature. While such interests differ from person to person, the importance of family is instilled in all Iranians. When my dad was young, he, his four siblings, and his parents emigrated from Iran to the U.S. It was important to my grandparents to preserve their family unit because in Iran the family unit is expected to be strong. Often, families live near each other; I have family in Iran who live in apartment complexes shared between their siblings, each sibling and his or her family live on a different floor of the complex. My grandparents knew given the vast opportunities and places to live in the U.S., it would be easy to lose sight of that tight knit-family that is so common in Iran. Though my aunts and uncles lived across the country from each other for a time, they all managed to settle down and raise their families in the Bay Area. As a result, I grew up with the company of my cousins and the guidance of my aunts and uncles. Some of my favorite memories involve family get-togethers: our annual camping trip, our Thanksgiving gathering, our Persian New Year’s gathering, and our Eid Al Fitr gathering. Eid Al Fitr is a Muslim holiday that marks the end of Ramadan, a month of daily fasting from dawn to dusk. I look forward to Ramadan and Eid Al Fitr every year; the two mark a time of self-reflection, family, and fun! This past year Ramadan was in the middle of summer and while the longer days made the daily fast much harder, it also meant I could spend time with my family. All my cousins were home from college and our shared hunger led to a lot of bonding. We watched movies together, took hikes, and cooked and baked in anticipation of when we could break our fast! In Ramadan you are supposed to put aside eating to reflect on your deeds and to work to improve yourself: I remember to be patient, to be empathetic, and to be giving. Every year, Ramadan serves as check on my behavior and reminds me of the virtues I wish to practice. I also find Ramadan a time of unity within my family, my local Muslim-Iranian community, and Muslim communities around the world. Not all my cousins are religious, but during Ramadan we find time to come together. This year Eid Al Fitr was on a Saturday and my entire family was able to celebrate it without the worries of


Family Edition


workday responsibilities. We woke up early and headed to mosque to pray. Going to mosque on Eid Al Fitr is always fun because everyone is happy and excited to be there. For many Muslims, Ramadan and Eid Al Fitr are an extremely spiritual time of year and also evoke a lot of fond childhood memories. Everyone dresses in bright colors, families donate to charity, and the elders gift money to the children. I imagine that Eid Al Fitr brings about some of the same feelings Christmas Mass and morning does for Christians. Praying among my family and friends is humbling and calming. When praying in a group, I feel as though I am one with my community. After prayer, we greeted all our family friends and wished them a happy Eid. My family then left mosque for brunch in Half Moon Bay. My uncle had found a quaint cafe in Half Moon Bay that served breakfast. The rustic building was a house that had been converted to a restaurant; my family and I ate our breakfast in what seemed to be the living room. After breakfast, we headed out for a walk, grabbed some iced coffees, and spent the rest of our time at the beach. While I always enjoy visiting my mosque and eating breakfast, I know that this past Eid Al Fitr was an exceptional day because I spent it with my family. The bonds I have with my parents, sister, cousins, aunts, and uncles are so strong that without them not only would the holidays and special occasions seem incomplete, I would feel incomplete. I now understand why family is so important in Iran and why my grandparents were so adamant that their family was not split up. I am grateful they voiced the importance of family to their children and I hope my cousins and I will continue to maintain this value through out our lives.

by Sana Sheikholeslami


cover December 2015


n one of my classes this year, we made aquaponics systems. In each system, a pump brings water up from a fish tank to provide fertilized water for plants. Then, the plants filter this water and return it to the fish. The fish can survive without the plants; and likewise, the plants can survive without the fish. But together, they enhance each other’s “quality of life.” That same logic applies to happiness and sadness. Both can exist without each other; but together, they increase one’s ability to experience emotions. Happiness, as hard as it to describe, is just a positive emotion. And if anyone knows anything about it, it’s going to be someone whose job is to deal with the mind and emotions. So, I went and spoke to psychologist Velma Barrios and asked her whether happiness depends on sadness. She told me that “[No], happiness can exist without sadness … Children can be happy even though they have lived an uneventful life with few stressors. If we’re rating it, their happiness might be a five. But to them, that five is a 10 because they haven’t experienced enough [to put things in perspective].” Overall, “Their level of happiness may not be as great as an adult who has experienced much more, but they are still happy.” As Barrios points out, sadness does not engender happiness — it just exemplifies preexisting happiness. The assumption that one emotion derives from the other is based on the misconception that they are opposites. However, since they are not opposites, neither would be dependent on the other. A study conducted at the University of Michigan concluded that happiness is largely a product of an individual’s genes, and environmental factors only minimally affect it. Psychologist Martin Seligman believes that happiness is a combination of pleasure, engagement (relationships) and meaning. Sadness, on the other hand, is just an emotion experienced after an unpleasant situation — it does not necessarily change the genetic makeup of a person, affect their relationships, or tamper with their life’s meaning. Similarly, while speaking about his depression in a TED Talk, author Andrew Solomon says, “the opposite of depression is not happiness, but vitality.” While depression and sadness are drastically different circumstances, they both are extremely negative and are, in that sense, similar. From his state of depression, Solomon’s perspective on emotions changed, but he did not develop any sort of “sixth sense” enabling him to perceive new ones. “I had learned in my own depression how big an emotion can be … That experience has allowed me to experience positive emotion in a more intense, focused way.” As Solomon explains, experiencing sadness or depression in contrast to happiness will augment the intensity of each. Nonetheless, there is a difference between a change in perception and the development of a new emotion: sadness intensifies one’s perception of happiness, but it does not spur its development entirely. To say that happiness depends on sadness is a paradox. If we need one emotion to feel another, then where do we begin? Assuming, erroneously, that happiness does depend on sadness, then sadness would depend on happiness, and all other emotions would also depend on their near opposites. And by this logic, it would be impossible to experience any emotion because in order to feel one, we would have to first feel another; but in order to feel that emotion, we would have to feel the former emotion. It is a cycle that, like any other cycle, repeats forever. Logically, happiness cannot derive from sadness, if, at the same time, that sadness derives from happiness. The fact of the matter is that if we could only attain happiness through sadness, we would not be able to experience any emotions. While happiness and sadness differ greatly and provide contrast to one another, they are not true opposites and therefore are not completely dependent on one another. The state of happiness, or lack thereof, can exist with or without sadness.

by Kate Flanagan 28

Happ Wit Sadn

ppiness piness thout dness?



appiness and sadness are two sides of the same coin. The emotions could not exist without each other. Without sadness, we would not know what happiness was because we would not have anything to compare it with. We would not know how high we are in our happiest moments if there is nothing to define its height. In order to value and appreciate happiness, a counterpart is needed. Happiness would be an average feeling if you could be happy without feeling sad. You would not be able to differentiate between the good and bad things that you experience. Happiness also allows you to appreciate the good things in your life, but only if you can compare them with the negative. It does not take a lot for this to happen. Big and small experiences can shape the way we appreciate things. The bigger and more strenuous things we go through only increase our happiness. Each experience allows us to approach the next one in a better mindset and prevents us from repeating our mistakes. Different parts of the world have different definitions of what happiness is due to the availability of resources. Where we live, some students are upset when they do not have the latest model of an iPhone. This is an unrealistic definition of sadness in comparison to the rest of the world. We would be able to better appreciate our happiness if we knew what it felt to not have anything. Since the depth of sadness differs around the globe, the amount of happiness also varies. At Menlo-Atherton, students agreed that unequal distribution in the world affects how intensely we can compare emotions. As student explains, byone Lara Karadogan “even though they are not biologically related, [happiness and sadness] both need each other.” Happiness and sadness are technically independent, because happiness neurochemicals such as dopamine and serotonin do not rely on sadness and pain neurochemicals to function. However as humans, the only way we can compare our emotions to understand their heights is by having the counterpart.

by Lara Karadogan

by Lara Karadogan


submissions December 2015 Photography Sally Carlson

Photography Nessa Fakrai


Photography Chantel Stelliga

Photography Lauren Bruce


Photography Lauren Bruce

Photography Sarah Kahle

Photography Chantel Stelliga 31


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