The Mirador Volume 66 Issue 3

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20 20 23 23 28 28 03 EXCLUSIVE! STUDENTS AUDITION FOR SPRING MUSICAL, "GREASE" Miramonte teachers integrate equity into their day-to-day curriculums. 04 IMPLEMENTING EQUITY MATADORS CELEBRATE INTERNATIONAL HOLIDAYS EMBRACE THE HOLIDAY SEASON! Learn about the diverse holidays that Miramonte students celebrate! Which topping is best for hot chocolate: whipped cream or marshmallows? 22 30 HOT COCOA TOPPING SHOWDOWN Christmas wouldn't feel the same without these holiday tunes. 29 THE CHRISTMAS CLASSICS Beloved local family-owned business, Grandpa Al's English Toffee, closes up shop. 10 BITTERSWEET FAREWELLS Sophomores! Learn about the newest required course in your curriculum:
16 A PSA FOR NEW DRIVERS Matador athletes start the season strong as winter sports return. Let's go Mats! 19 WINTER SPORTS SEASON BEGINS MEET NEW ROCK BAND: THE MATADOR EXPRESS 2
Student illustrators from the MHS Comic Club collaborated with The Mirador present comics for the holidays. Staff writer Ava Skidgel spotlights
rates the best Bath & Body Works holiday-themed candle scents of this winter season.
Parking 101. (Satire)

Students who are not part of the Musical Theatre class had the unique opportunity to audition for and participate in this year’s school musical: “Grease.”

School-wide auditions took place during academy and after school Nov. 2 and 4, a dance call after school on Nov. 7, and call-backs for main roles on Nov. 16. The audition requirements included a prepared monologue and stylistically-appropri ate song. By expanding audition opportunities to the whole school, Musical Theater and Choir teacher Meredith Hawkins hopes to counteract the low enrollment the class experienced this year. “Grease is a big cast and, unfortunately, our sign-ups for Musical Theater Workshop this year were really low. We wanted to open up auditions to everyone so that we could cast the show and hopefully get more students interested in taking Musical Theater as a class and sign up next year,” Hawkins said.

This is a notable development for Miramonte’s theater department since it rarely hosts school-wide auditions. “I have been at Miramonte since 2013 and we have never opened up auditions for the musical to the whole school while I’ve been here,” Hawkins said.

Many students enjoyed the opportunity to audition for the show without needing to be in the class, and around 50 students participated in the auditions. “I think the musical theater community around school is great and gives people a great entry to a community of people who love performing. When everyone can join in the musical, the school musical community can grow,” freshman Noah Thaler said. Since not all cast members are in the class, Hawkins and drama teacher and co-director Heather Cousins plan to hold after school rehearsals for scenes that involve students not in the class.

Additionally, “Grease” appealed to students because it’s a classic yet fun musical. “Since the movie is so iconic, I think students both performing and in the audience will really enjoy singing/hearing those songs and seeing each other as Rizzo and Danny and Sandy,” Hawkins said. “I think ‘Grease’ is a really good choice. I particularly like shows set back in time, like in the ‘50s, because there’s more character to it, it has a set, recognizable style, and the music is really catchy. I’m especially excited for the song ‘Greased Lightnin’ because it’s a very fun number to perform,” Musical Theatre student and junior Diego Aguilar said. Some students also look forward to the show’s liveliness and vibrancy. “I am looking forward to performing in a show with lots of choreography and iconic music. It is so exciting to perform in a show that is so beloved,” senior Ella Bradley said.

Lead roles include Aguilar as Danny Zuko, junior Lauren Wagner as Sandy Dumbrowski, senior Sabrina Hernandez as Betty Rizzo, sophomore Sam White as Kenickie, and Bradley as Frenchy. “I hope to bring Danny’s signature cocky smug ness to the character. I think the most challenging part of this character will be balancing that cockiness with his more vulnerable side,” Aguilar said.

Each cast member must interpret the script to bring their character to life in a unique way. “Frenchy is such a quirky character, and I hope to bring her bubbly personality to life. Her character has comedic elements, which is my favorite form of acting,” Bradley said. “I think the most challenging part of playing Frenchy will be making her mannerisms distinctive to her, rather than any of the other Pink Ladies, especially when she isn’t speaking and is just reacting.”

Shows will be the second and possibly third weekend of March and rehearsals begin Dec. 14.

Graphic: canva com

Integrating Equity Into District Curriculum


As national systemic inequities become in creasingly apparent, the district continuously revises its plan to implement equity into its schools. Equity in education is the process of reforming practices, policies, and procedures to support fairness and inclusion within ac ademics. High school plays a significant role in forming students’ views towards the world and towards themselves, and fostering learn ing environments where students feel secure in their identities ensures that each student can envision and realize their potential.

One reform the district made in the 2020-21 school year was implementing eq uity lessons during academy periods. These lessons covered a variety of topics, from race to gender and sexuality. This year, the school is diverting its attention from specialized eq uity lessons to equity education in the core curriculum taught in classes.

“The idea that you could teach them everything about LGBT+ issues, or race issues, in forty-five minutes, is ridiculous,” Steve Poling, English and Deconstructing Race instructor, said. “If education is about the improvement of humanity, equity needs to be woven into all the courses students take across the curriculum.”

Poling is the instructor of Deconstruct ing Race, a course offered to seniors that investigates the impacts of race and racism on oneself and society. In a class like this, it is clear how significant topics like race and identity are incorporated into the curricu lum. But in fact, educators across all depart ments are dedicated to incorporating equity into course curriculum.

The Spanish department is high ly dedicated in this respect. “It’s deeply personal for all of us who teach Spanish because we see our identities in the language,”

Spanish 4 Hon ors instructor

Sarah Frank said. Spanish 4 Hon ors students research influential Lat inx people and their contributions to the United States. They read poems about di verse racial identities within Latin America. “We’re doing a poem on Afrocubano (Afri can Cuban) identity. We see from poems the beauty of a dual identity,” Frank said. The course also covers activist movements, such as that of agricultural workers fighting for improved working conditions. Apart from racial identity, students of all levels now learn the non-gendered third person singular pro nouns, such as “elle.”

The Spanish 5/AP level emphasizes the diversity of Latin America and Spain. “The big thing in my class is human dignity. That is what drives the class,” Spanish 5 instructor Megan Flores said. The fifth level Spanish course examines the perspectives of various marginalized groups within Latin Ameri ca, such as those of African or mixed Latin Americans, or LGBT+ and gender queer Latin Americans. They also study the indig enous peoples of Latin America and how their cultures are still present in the modern day. Identity, assimilation, alienation, and ac tivism are some of the themes highlighted in the Spanish curriculum. For the Spanish department, studying Spanish goes hand in hand with studying distinct Hispanic com munities. “It’s all about national identity and the different identities that exist within each country. We are not a monolith,” Flores said.

The science department is also making efforts to integrate equity into the curricu lum. For instance, AP Environmental Sci ence (APES) examines the disparity in air quality between Richmond and Orinda. “We see the demographics of those cities and how people of color are being more affected by poor air quality. That leads to conversations about white flight and urbanization,” APES instructor Jyllian Smith said. The class also compares soil in Orinda to soil in African communities that lack adequate irrigation infrastructure. Smith presents various envi ronmental Problems as ethical issues, whose solutions align with social justice.

Another core subject that is incorporating equity into its lessons is the social sciences. AP Comparative Government, which Xa vier Frippiat teaches, studies China, Iran, Nigeria, Mexico, and Russia, countries which, according to Frippiat, “don’t fall under the purview of many of

our cours es.” The course focuses on social, ethnic, and religious divisions within each so ciety. Frippiat calls it “an eq uity course in itself.” In addition to AP Comparative Government, Frippiat teaches first year World His tory. He makes a pledge to include mul tiple perspectives in every unit and avoid eurocentric emphasis. “If we study in the French Revolution, we’ll study the Haitian Revolution. If we study imperialism, we will incorporate the manner in which indigenous populations responded to that. We’re going to be conscious about how our units might be expanded to include the points of view of those who were historically disenfranchised,” Frippiat said.

In a short amount of time, Miramon te educators have instituted a multitude of revisions to their curriculums and teaching methods. “In English classes, Miramonte has done a really good job of incorporating many different cultural perspectives and also more gender recognition into our curricu lum. We read books by authors with differ ent backgrounds,” senior and Black Student Union president Dorian Byrd said. He has seen much progress made in his four years at Miramonte but believes there is still work to be done both in curriculum and school cul ture as a whole. For example, he hopes that the struggles and accomplishments of Black people will be more frequently discussed. “Reading about important Black figures only in Black Excellence month—I don’t have a problem with that but I feel it should be something that needs to be talked about reg ularly as well,” he said.

Miramonte is starting to make strides toward equity in the curriculum. This calls on educators’ ingenuity, empathy, and passion. It is clear that equity plays a vital role in 21st century education. But, as Poling says, “The work is never done. And thankfully, it’s excit ing and energizing work that we do.”


Reliving Miramonte’s 63-Year Past

From mullets to a “Top Gun” sequel, culture in the new millennium brings back many elements from the past. With the sudden resurgence of styles and trends from the late 80s and 90s, the 2020 decade reflects the influence from previous gen erations. This begs the question: what did Miramonte look like in the past?

Ever since its founding in 1955, Mira monte had its fair share of erratic clubs. A prominent example of this was the open ly-named “Rifle Club.” Supervised by staff member Harold “Dead Eye” Berg, the rifle club practiced marksmanship with a vari ety of rifles and handguns. Although they probably didn’t practice on school grounds, the club frequently hosted field trips to the Chabot Gun Range and posed numerous times with active firearms in places such as the current-day softball field and the quad. The Rifle Club also participated in in ter-school sniping competitions, demon strating that the popularity of firearms wasn’t limited to Miramonte. Due to low membership, the club was discontinued shortly after 1965.

tained one of Miramonte’s largest clubs to date and continued their operations across several years until they succumbed to a diminishment in popularity due to inad equate management.

“I think this shows that Mats love to ski and there is potential for a thriving snow sports club at Miramonte. This his torical feat is our goal to replicate as the current snow sports management,” Snow Sports Club President and sophomore Lu cas Peterson said.

On a more popular note, many current existing clubs such as the Snow Sports Club, Model United Nations (UN), and Helping Hands Club originated in Mira monte’s earliest days. For example, the 1970s Ski Club had over 280 members and commissioned buses monthly to bring students to the Sierra Mountains on sev eral occasions. They also provided students with discounted equipment, lodging, and transportation thanks to group discounts offered by neighboring hotels and rental shops, giving students the opportunity to ski with friends for a lower budget. With such resources in place, the Ski Club main

Growing up, we’ve all seen those stere otypical Disney cliches like High School Musical where the protagonist, against all odds, asks out the boy or girl of his dreams to the school dance and is named prom king or queen. Despite many people saying “it’s just a movie” or “that’s so fake,” these scenarios were very present in the past, including at Miramonte For instance, up until the late 80s, students could vote for their Homecoming King and Queen and the winner’s image would even get its own page in the yearbook. Winners would re ceive an exuberant amount of accessories to distinguish themselves from the crowd and The Mirador even wrote about con test’s winners through in-depth spotlights and interviews. The winners would almost always, like the movies, be cheerleaders and athletes, making the competition es sentially a popularity contest. Similarly to today, many students also asked their date out for the school dance in creative ways through the help of their friends and peers. The funniest ones were also published in the yearbook to commemorate the dances alongside the other images and reside in the memories of the hundreds of Mira monte alumni who attended these dances.

Throughout the 1980s, the world saw an explosion in the popularity of various new haircuts. Miramonte was not exempt

from these new hair trends as distinct hair cuts such as the mullet, buzz cut, and perm found their way onto the heads of many Miramonte students as early as 1982.

Today, many of these hairstyles have come back. With the rise in popularity of Stranger Things, a Netflix original series set in the 80s, many of the hairstyles worn by the characters are popular again. Now, 40 years later, students are still walking down the halls proudly showing off their mullets.

Throughout the school’s almost 70year history, a lot has changed, but many aspects of a student’s life in 2022 are simi lar to students from earlier decades.

5 Photo: Netflix

Pro/Con: Early Decision

Early Decision gives students a higher chance to attend their dream university. Additionally, ED releases much of the built-up stress that takes over students’ lives during their final year of high school.

The most significant advantage of Early Decision is the large increase of acceptance rates for many colleges in the United States. This rise dras tically increases the likelihood of students reaching their goal of a suc cessful college education. This is exceptionally important in much more prestigious schools, as the choice of Early Decision application can be the make-it or break-it for students’ acceptance. One such college, Colorado College, noticed an increase in the class of 2026’s acceptance rate from 3% for regular action to a whopping 26% for both ED1 and ED2 deadlines.

Evidently, Early Decision gives a huge advantage to those who already have their mind set on their future education. “The more private the school, typically the more of the class is taken by Ear ly Decision, so upwards of 60 percent of a class can be filled in an Early Decision round. It’s a huge advantage if you’re applying that way,” College and Career Center Director Stephanie Brady said.

Additionally, Early Decision is extremely helpful for students who

Con: Casey Scheiner

Early Decision presents significant financial concerns for less af fluent applicants, putting them at a major disadvantage. Thus, uni versities should abandon Early Decision in the admissions process.

The most significant problem with Early Decision is it neglects lower income applicants. That’s why Princeton cited concerns of soci oeconomic equity when they abandoned ED in 2006. While wealthier applicants merely need to consider the educational fit a school pro vides, less advantaged students must also consider financial aid. Be cause Early Decision binds applicants to a particular school which may not provide enough money, lower income applicants often avoid Early Decision in favor of Regular Decision, where they can com pare financial aid offers from different schools before committing. “If you’re considering Early Decision, you have to be sure it is a financial fit,” College and Career Center Director Stephanie Brady said. Ad ditionally, more limited access to college counseling in less affluent communities means that many students don’t know about Early De cision at all. The Claremont Colleges found that these factors contrib ute to the low socioeconomic and racial diversity among ED acceptees.

ED undeniably grants a tremendous advantage to students who can afford it. “[Early Decision] is a huge advantage,” Brady said. However, the practice creates a system that stacks the deck against socioeconomically disadvantaged applicants who of ten can not participate due to the financial hurdles they face.

The consequences of this exclusion prompted by Early Decision are overwhelmingly negative on the quality of colleges. First, the pres ence of Early Decision shifts admissions offices’ focus from merit to money and willingness to make an ED commitment. Seeing as col leges such as Providence, Grinnell, and American boast ED accept ance rates over twice as high as their regular decision percentages, the standards for admission are clearly lower when applying Ear ly Decision. As a result, their student body may not have the same level of academic excellence as a campus of regular decision admits.

ED also harms the quality of universities by limiting diversi ty. The Center For American Progress writes that “early decision

already have their field of education or career path selected. The in creased chances of acceptance help many who aspire to follow a certain career path reach their goals. “I’ve known what career path I want to do in the future for a while, so I applied early to a program that al lows me to really hone in on this field,” senior Maya Martono said.

The choice of Early Decision also reduces the stress of college ap plications for many students that are accepted into a college prior to their peers applying in Regular Decision deadlines. The college appli cation process is often one of the most critical and strenuous process es for high school students. Students work to finish their applications while continuing to attend and engage in their high school classes, forcing unwanted pressure into students’ lives. “Early decision and early action made senior year less stressful mainly because my first semes ter grades and classes do not mean as much,” senior Chase Bliss said. College acceptance rates continue to decline, year after year. Fa natical ambitions for college take over American education, forc ing students to compete, rather than learn. Early Decision fix es this problem by providing increased opportunity to pursue the college-level education that prepares students for the future and removing the unneeded pressures of university applications.

negatively affects campus diversity.” Both socioeconomic and ra cial diversity benefit all students by highlighting a more heter ogeneous set of worldviews. College is a time to expose oneself to new people and viewpoints. Early Decision inhibits this op portunity for discovery by pushing disadvantaged students out. Furthermore, we must not forget that the supposed beneficiaries of the college admissions process are students. Although ED may be a voluntary decision, it inhibits the freedom of choice students have to consider the best options for them by capitalizing on applicants’ fear of missing out. Posed with the “Academic Arms Race” of the 21st century, many students feel they must choose between picking an ED or risking missing out on their dream schools. In many cases, stu dents hastily rush into Early Decision with a school they don’t love.

“I’ve had enough students come in here who didn’t get into their early decision school, but were actually relieved. While waiting for the decision, they realized they weren’t comfortable committing to that school,” Brady said. ED pressures students to make a binding com mitment to a single school early in their senior year, a reason Yale President Richard Levin emphasized when the university did away with Early Decision in 2002. “I would much rather have the oppor tunity of having choices between colleges,” senior Eloise Anagnost said. “It’s difficult for me to picture myself narrowing my choices when there are so many amazing schools I would be happy to attend.”

Hopefully, universities recognize the injustice of their systems and make reform efforts on their own. However, if they fail to make their admissions policies more equitable, the United States govern ment has its own tools for change to promote equality. This year, Con gressmen Jeffrey Merkley and Jamaal Bowman introduced legislation to remove federal funding for colleges that consider legacy status in admissions. If our federal government truly cares about “fairness” in admissions (as both political parties consistently claim to), a dupli cate bill to Merkley and Bowman’s for Early Decision is a no-brainer.

College is one of the final bastions of social mobility. It’s a place where all people, regardless of background, have the opportunity to thrive. However, ED threatens this meritocratic institution by largely excluding lower income applicants from an advantageous option.

Early Decision can increase a students’ chance of university admissions but may present advantages to wealthy students as it requires applicants to attend a paticular university.

Pro/Con: AP Courseload Caps

Pro: Emma Wong

While a moderate amount of AP classes can enrich stu dents’ academic careers, taking too many can overwhelm their schedules and take an unforeseen toll on their mental health.

Capping AP classes will promote students’ wellbeing and prevent them from becoming overburdened by high-level curriculum. Across California, mental health awareness in schools plays an increasing ly proactive role both on and off campus: in recent years, the Wellness Center incorporated 15-minute drop-in rest periods for students who feel overwhelmed by anxiety, depression, and other stresses. However, a scrupulous routine swamped with AP coursework makes it difficult for students to balance sleep, take part in sports and physical activity, and socialize with peers, all of which are vital to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

According to the 2022 Stanford Survey of School Experienc es for AUHSD, the average high school student gets only 6.7 hours of sleep compared to the recommended 9 hours. Much of this is due to time spent on homework, and late hours spent cramming or stud ying are correlated with increased levels of anxiety. “46% of students are referred [to the Wellness Center] due to anxiety,” Wellness Coor dinator Andie Nishimi said. “When students are identified for Well ness Center counseling because of anxiety, it is often academic-related.”

Limiting the number of rigorous AP classes a student can take will regulate the time they spend on homework, allowing students to pursue enrichment hobbies outside academics, including sports and the arts.

A majority of Miramonte’s student body participates in school sports, leaving just a few hours per day for homework; AP classes certainly don’t lighten the load. “I spend around around 2 to 3 hours on AP class home work,” junior Oscar Schlichting said. “The pressure to balance sports and academics can be quite high, as both require lots of sleep which can be hard to get unless I balance sports and academics really well.”

Con: Jason Wagner

Limiting the number of APs a student can take may seem like a potential solution, but it undermines student choice in education, lim its those who wish to pursue an academically challenging course of study, and hinders students’ competitiveness in university admissions.

The American public education system prides itself on a choicebased approach that affords students generous decision-pow er in their learning. Contrary to the systems of many other na tions, Americans often receive more say in what classes they wish to take and to what level of advancement: regular, honors, or AP. An AP cap threatens students’ power in shaping their education and is inconsistent with America’s choice-based approach to learning.

“It is up to the student to choose what they want their own schedule to look like,” junior Nicole Tuzyynski said. APs provide a unique chance to pursue a particular interest at an advanced level. Students choosing to take AP courses showcase to universities a profound interest in a particular subject.

“Colleges look at how you’ve increased your rigor and if there are particular trends. If you’re a science person, did you take more AP science classes, if you’re a humanities person did you take more AP history classes,” College and Career Center Director Steph anie Brady said. Imposing an AP cap on students limits their abil ity to choose what they wish to study in school; consequential ly, students may become less engaged and empowered in school.

Proponents argue the limitations introduced by such a policy change are necessary to improve mental health but fail to consider the dis trict’s harsh academic climate. Brady suggests capping APs might push

Some students also believe AP classes are valued higher, and thus viewed as more “prestigious,” than regular classes. This puts pressure on students wanting to take regular-level courses that they are genuinely interested in, as they are inclined to favor more rigorous AP courses. Nishimi observes this trend leading to spikes in anxiety among students.

“At a more local level, I have heard many students endorse a de gree of pressure they feel to take rigorous courses to prepare for col lege,” Nishimi said. “These same students have also reported that their mental health takes a hit because they lose time doing hob bies or maintaining healthy sleep routines to study for their classes.”

Of course, there is no denying the benefits of AP classes. They can boost students’ GPA above 4.0 and grant college credits, allowing stu dents who are looking to enter a higher-degree subject in college skip the entry-level class. However, a healthier mindset around stress and time management are the building blocks to do well in an AP class, and a lack of a limit could lead to an overload of these intense cours es. Last year, Miramonte students took an average of nearly 6 AP classes over four years. Moreover, the importance of extracurriculars, such as volunteering, is just as essential for a strong college resumé.

“[AP classes are] positive in the sense that you’re motivat ed and encouraged to challenge yourself,” sophomore Abigail Ri vera-Gu said, “[but] they’re negative in the sense that there is this constant competition that leads to AP students com paring themselves to others, which is a degrading practice.

Excessive academic pressure, no matter how promising the course may seem, takes a negative toll on students’ wellbeing. A cap on the number of AP classes a student can take at once encourages students to learn by tak ing challenging courses, but also lessens the likelihood of overburdening themselves. Most importantly, however, students should be able to enjoy healthy activities besides academics that will outlast their high school careers, enabling them to balance a healthy life in college and beyond.

students to take more college classes at institutions like Diablo Valley College (DVC) to make up for a perceived lack of academic rigor. Giv en the culture surrounding APs and academics, an AP cap would thus be unsuccessful in forcing improved mental health. The district must continue allowing students to make their own choices depending on their ability to accommodate AP classes’ intensity. Just as students have the option to take regular-level courses instead of APs, those who wish to pursue more difficult course loads should also be able to do so.

“Academic rigor serves as a selling point for many students in the university application process, especially those that don’t have access to robust extracurricular activities. Those students are able to take more APs to put themselves in the best position possi ble when it comes to college applications,” junior Gena Bullio said.

In addition to benefiting students in university applications, AP classes alleviate financial burdens in university, as the corresponding ex ams often provide students with university credit. UC Santa Barbara, for example, charges around $265 per course credit. AP courses can often grant students three to four credits, saving around $900 per AP credit a student claims after passing the $110 exam. An AP cap would pre vent students from reaping maximum financial benefits in high school that alleviate financial pressures in their post-secondary education.

Limiting the number of APs a student can take is a poor solution to impaired mental health among students. A cap undermines students’ choice in education, prohibiting them from exploring their interests and pursuing academically challenging courses of study. The Governing Board must maintain the district’s Open Enrollment policy and con sider the vast negative implications of capping students’ AP enrollment.

The AUHSD governing board will soon decide whether or not to cap the number of Advanced Placement (AP) courses a student can take

As the holiday season nears, the stress of finding gifts for family and friends is undeniable. This is made especially dif ficult if gifts don’t fit the budget. Miramonte athletes do nated holi day presents for families in need to alleviate that stress. Seeing the families’ faces light up as they open their new presents conveys a sense of gratification for the club members part of Athletes in Action.

In 2019, Miramonte graduates Will Hollerbach, Rigby Blair, and Nick Mol lahan created the club Athletes in Action. As juniors and multisport athletes, the trio designed a club that incorporates athletics and philanthropy while fostering community and serving those in need. Since 2019, the founders passed down the presidential title of the club multiple times to fellow Matadors to keep the club’s legacy alive.

The current presidents of Athletes in Action are junior football players Nick Blair, Palmer Rhodes, and Gabe Roman. Both Blair and Rhodes have older siblings who were involved with Athletes in Action as presidents at both Miramon te High School and Campolindo High School. With their brotherlike bond and chemistry, Blair, Rhodes, and Roman successfully created an inclusive envi ronment for their club members. “The

trio’s friendship on and off the football field translates to their great chemistry as co-presidents for Athletes in Action,” junior and club member Jackson

Without a doubt, the friendships between the past and current presidents are what created such a solid foundation for Athletes in Action. “As one of the presidents of Athletes in Action, found the best running it with some of my closest friends. While becoming closer with my co-presidents and club members, I also gained a great sense of gratification from helping others in our community and it was super rewarding to see these families come together,” Hollerbach said. After Blair, Hollerbach, and Mollahan gradu ated they passed down the title to 2022 graduates, Jack Brun and Will Stryker. Once Brun and Stryk er graduated the torch was finally passed to Blair, Rhodes, and Roman. “I’m proud that Nick is continuing to lead the club after me. I think it takes a lot of initiative to lead a club, especially a service club like Athletes in Action,” Rigby Blair ‘20 said.

The three hope to keep the club alive by passing the presidential title down to

future siblings. “As the current president, I am super excited to pass the club down to my younger brother to continue the club’s legacy. My older brother created the club with his friends, so it means a lot to us brothers” Blair said. Roman’s little brother is a freshman at Miramonte who hopes to become a future president of Athletes in Action. “When Nick, Palmer, and I graduate we hope to continue the legacy by passing the club down to my little brother David and Nick’s little brother Carson,” Roman said.

The main organization Athletes in Action collaborates with is Grateful Gatherings, an organiza tion that helps fam ilies transition from home lessness to living in newly fur nished homes.

“Work ing with Grateful Gather ings was a super valuable experience be cause the organization connected athletes with families in need and we were able to help them out during holidays,” Hollerbach ‘20 said. The athletes supplied presents, home made cooked meals, and necessities for families in need. “By partnering with local organizations, we felt as if we could make a positive, long-lasting impact on the lives of many individuals.”

There are big shoes to fill as Athletes in Action is in its 4th year running at Miramonte. “My goal is to bring together different athletes from all sports to en gage in philanthropic activities to benefit the community and ourselves,” Rhodes said.

Athletes in Action welcomes all ath letes with interests in philanthropy and community service. Through the bonds that are created in Athletes in Action, the club has the capacity to last for many more generations.


Senior Surfers Hang Loose SeniorSurfers Hang Loose

Watching the waves crashing in front of them, three surfers sit in the sand taking in the beauty of the beach. Besides them, three wet surfboards lie on the moist sand. While the sun sets on the California hori zon, seniors Nasen Alm, Diego Kemp, and Colin Fraser laugh about their day spent riding the waves.

Alm surfed for the first time eight years ago in Hawaii, but hadn’t surfed again un til a trip to San Diego three years ago. A year later, he introduced his friend Kemp to surfing. Kemp, who had never surfed be fore, was already interested in learning. Be ing taught by his friend, Alm, proved the perfect opportunity. Similar to Kemp, who also expressed interest in surfing for some time, Fraser began surfing two years ago, when his friend offered to teach him. All three surfers find that surfing helps them have a closer relationship to each other.

“On big days, surfing requires us to work together, and on small days, it is just a very fun way to pass time together. I have also met other people on the beach that I regularly see surfing,” Alm said. Feeling like they have a community and connec tion with the other surfers has only made surfing even better.

“I love surfing because it’s a detach ment from technology and a calm action sport that you can do with your friends,” Fraser said. Their go-to surfing spots are Linda Mar and Pacifica because of the convenient locations and relatively ideal weather conditions which they are able to monitor.

“My friends and I have managed to consistently surf one to two times a week. We go when the traffic is light and we have time to spare. Unfortunately, our good friend Alex Fordyce has destroyed some of the equipment we use, but we got around that and are still able to surf regularly,” Kemp said. “Being out in the ocean and experiencing the thrills of catching waves and experiencing a certain level of discomfort followed by a high level of satisfaction is the perfect combination for me.”

Even with the fun and joy of being on the beach and in the ocean, there are draw backs. “Compared to other hobbies, surf ing is difficult to keep up. It takes about 45 minutes on average to get to the clos est beach. Equipment is often expensive, so I bought most of my stuff used and am currently in the process of shaping my own surfboard from a block of foam,” Alm said. He is turning the struggle of finding equipment into a hobby. He hopes to make more and maybe someday sell them.

For those who want to begin the jour ney of surfing, the three boys agree that the best place to start surfing is Pacifica be cause of its convenient location and cheap wetsuit and surfboard rentals. “Surfing is easy if you snowboard and skateboard but difficult if it’s your first board sport,” Fraser said. All three also agree that like anything, it takes time and practice to get good at surfing. “As long as you stay consistent and develop confidence, the skill comes naturally and can be fun for people of varying

skill sets. Just make sure it’s a good day to surf, and you’ll be able to learn pretty quickly,” Kemp said.

Whether they’re driving the winding California coastal roads or lazing at the beach until sunset to surf, the trio will always cherish their time together at the beach. “One of my favorite memories was when Nasen and I spontaneously drove out to Pacifica on a school night and surfed small waves with a beautiful sunset overhead. Something about it was just extremely relieving and refreshing,” Kemp said.

Photo: Ryan Meyers



Senior Lindsay French carefully folds a brown box and fills it with a holiday treat. After placing a sticker that says “Grandpa Al’s English Toffee” on top, he ties the package closed with a ribbon and places it with the other completed boxes, ready to be delivered to the fam ilies of Orinda.

The recipe for this English toffee, passed down generations, was originally created by Lindsay’s great-grandfather, Al McCommon. The toffee was always a go-to gift for friends and family, but this winter goodie gained such popularity that people started asking to purchase it. In 2008, the Frenches began to sell their toffee and officially turned this tradition into a family-run business. “It was su per special because my Great Grandpa Al got to see the product all packaged up before he passed away the next year,” Lindsay said.

Lindsay’s mother, Lauren French, played a major role in launching the business and managing it each season. “Our business stayed relatively small, only during the holiday season, with the bulk of sales going towards corporate gifts. I also sold the toffee at local holi day events, and for a while, we did have

Walnut Creek,” Lauren said.

Lindsay remembers the early years of her family’s tradition and business. Once she was old enough to help out, she would package boxes and assist her mom at the sale events, while her cous ins and older sister worked in the kitch en to produce the toffee.

Many Orinda families looked for ward to receiving this toffee each year. “My favorite part about the holidays was getting the French’s toffee. It always re minds me of Christmastime. It’s literally better than any other toffee I’ve ever eat

After 12 years, the beloved business came to an end in 2020. “[My family] stopped selling it officially, as the com mercial kitchen they would use to make the toffee became unavailable due to COVID,” Lindsay said. However, this special tradition of making English tof fee in the French family still continues. “We are back to making small batches for our family and close friends, just the way Grandpa Al did it so many years ago,” Lauren said. “But you never know, Grandpa Al has ten great-grandchil dren who could carry on the tradition.”


As the clock strikes midnight on December 31st, many students turn to self-improvement to celebrate the commencement of a new year. Although the majority of students are consumed by the overbearing combination of academics, athletics, and extracurric ulars, there’s always room for improvement. So, what are some typical New Year’s resolutions?

Many students first look to academic improvement, whether it’s time management, communication with teachers, or even getting that B+ up to an A-. “My New Year’s resolution is to be more time efficient with my homework after school,” junior Claire O’Con nor said. “Recently, I haven’t been good about preventing myself from procrastinating my school work and it’s starting to affect my daily schedule.”

In addition, athletic and physical health goals are also a popular outlet for improvement amongst many students. “I want to get better at basketball by the end of the season,” freshman Lorenzo Carsano stated. “I think it’s really important to set your mind to something and try to improve through discipline and practice.”

While making strong resolutions is essential, it’s also important to fulfill them, which proves challenging. Starting new habits is never simple as building routines take time. However, starting to put your New Year’s resolutions into practice right away gives many a head start come January 1st. “Resolutions are important because they allow you to hold yourself more accountable and try to reach new goals,” O’Connor added. On the contrary, many students believe that New Year’s resolu

tions are an incentive for unachievable goals and self-criticism. “Resolutions can make you feel bad if they are not considered good enough. People end up not following up on their goals and constantly try to one-up each other, ”junior Aidan Rascher men tioned. By creating high standards and additional pressures for self-improvement, teenagers easily succumb to pessimism and discouragement when they make resolutions. Data presented at The Society for Personality and Social Psychology (SPSP) Annual Convention shows that 41% of Americans set New Year’s reso lutions, but only 9% of them feel they were successful in main taining them. It was concluded that timing proved the issue. The best time to change a habit is not determined by the calendar, but rather by making significant adjustments to our daily routines. According to Bas Verplanken, a professor of social psychology at the University of Bath, “Changing your habits is very difficult, including finding the right moment to make a change.”

By definition, new year’s resolutions are fairly simple: they are a promise to do something differently in the new year. Although life tends to get in the way, setting a reasonable goal that can be achieved through daily habitual accommodations only leads to self-improvement and success. Goals should be SMART: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound, as defined by the journal Management Review in 1981. While this strategy is effective for management, it’s effective for making resolutions as well.

So, as December 31st rapidly approaches and the pressures of 2023 are on the horizon, only one question remains – What is your New Year’s resolution?



With the holidays around the corner, stores introduce winter clothes and Black Friday previews. You anxiously scroll through the endless pages of ads, searching for the perfect gift. A sweater, candle, shoes, or jewelry? You want it to be personal but still practical, to not spend too much or too little money, and for the recipient to love it. Store websites like Nordstrom, Anthropologie, and Free People all have “Gifts for Her,” “Gifts for Him,” “Gifts for Kids,” and “Gifts for Anyone” sections, but how often do they actually have what you are looking for? Never fear, The Mirador’s got you covered! Here is a foolproof gift-giving guide for the upcoming holiday season.

Best For Parents

If your parents are anything like ours, when asked for gift ide as, their immediate responses are: “I don’t need anything.” Some classic ideas that never fail include a wallet, clothes, or slippers for the winter. Depending on your budget you can customize the gift. You could also make it more personal and tie it into an activity they enjoy doing; for example, a yoga mat if they like to work out, a mug if they drink coffee in the morning, or a cookbook if they enjoy cooking. “Last Christmas, I got my dad a New York Times book of all the newspaper articles written on his birthday since he was born. He’s a crazy reader, and I thought it’d be fun to give him something not only sentimental but the only thing I could think of that he hasn’t read before,” senior Lauren Anthony said. “The gift may have come like two months late, but seeing his response made it feel worth it. I think that’s why I like giving gifts; you always know if the person likes it or not, you can always see right through their facial expression. It’s like the viral video of the kid getting the wrapped avocado for a present.”

Best For Your Best Friend

Not sure what to get your BFF? Think about what their upcom ing plans are for the break. “Depending on what they are doing for break, you can get them something based on their trip. So, if they were going on a beach vacation, you could get them a swimsuit. If they are going somewhere cold, you could get them a sweater or a beanie,” senior Emma Moltyaner said. If you are unsure and have no idea what to get, hats and water bottles are a safe bet, as you can never have too many. “I also like getting hats from Mad Happy or Aviator Nation. I think water bottles are a great idea if you don’t want to spend too much,” Moltyaner said. More great gift ideas are makeup and skincare products. Makeup and skincare brands tend to put together gift sets for the holidays, so it is the perfect opportu nity to gift it to someone to try out some new things.

Best For Your Significant Other

You know how your significant other always steals your sweat shirt? Try getting them one of their own. It may not stop them, but it will slow the stealing. Last year, many couples exchanged lots of clothes, accessories, and knick-knacks. Chubbies boardshorts were a popular gift for boyfriends and jewelry for girlfriends. “She loves silver jewelry so I got her a silver ring with a moon and stars on it because we like the outdoors and when we first started talking I would always send her photos of the moon,” senior Carson Beury said. His girlfriend, senior Lola Kassela, got him albums on vinyl. “I’m a really big gift giver, snd so I really think about it in advance. Last year I got him his favorite vinyls. They were two albums on vinyl because he loves music, and that’s how we started talking. I got him Hot Rocks by The Rolling Stones and then Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd,” Kassela said. For this year’s gift, she’s had it planned out since Valentine’s Day and said: “The best thing is to go for a thought and not price.” An activity to do together would also be a cool gift. Tickets to a concert or movie are a fun, non-materialistic gift that guarantees you both a good time.

Best On a Budget: $5-$20

In need of a last-minute gift or one that doesn’t break your bank account? A keychain or a candle is a quick and easy option you can find locally. Candy is another go-to because you can stop by any grocery store, or you splurge a bit more by going to See’s Candies, which now has a pop-up shop by McCaulou’s in Orinda. A more thoughtful yet adorable gift is a poster because you can connect it to the recipient’s interests and aesthetics. Redbubble and Society 6 both have posters at a range of prices, often on sale. “Last year, my sister got me a signed poster by professional surfer Jamie O’Brien. The poster meant a lot to me because Jaime is one of my favorite surfers who I have been following for years,” senior Ryan Meyers said.

Best Fluke Gift

Do you want to be a little mischievous this holiday season? Fluke gifts are a great way to prank your friends while also being funny at the same time. One idea is to get customized socks with your face on them. On, you can pick what sock theme you want and then upload a photo with anything you want. Not only are these socks comfortable but they’re also silly. If your friend has been talking about how they have been wanting a pet, maybe consider getting them a pet rock. It’s a low-maintenance pet that never runs away. The rock comes complete with googly eyes and a wig! Getting this is perfect for anyone who needs a little company.


With their licenses fresh from the mailboxes, new student drivers underwent a test to evaluate their driving skills. Even though they passed the DMV test, students’ driving ability can still be questionable. In this test, students had to maneuver around cones and go through a short yet comprehensive driving course. Following the course, students faced the ultimate challenge of parallel parking. The scoring was out of ten and based on driving and parking ability.

Driver #1: Gianluca Gasparini

Rating: 6.5/10

Going into his test, Gasparini was understandably unassured, as he obtained his license a mere six days before his test. Nevertheless, Gasparini proved capable of safe driving. He cautiously maneuvered around his course, and kept the driving experience smooth and enjoyable. But he struggled with a fundamental part of the course: parallel parking, which seemed to be the downfall of more than one contest ant. On his first attempt, Gasparini had not one, not two, but three people guiding his car into a parking space yet still proved inept as he crushed both the imaginary car behind him and in front of him. But, given a second chance, Gasparini worked harder and was close to perfection in his parking job before backing up one step too far and once again hitting the imaginary car behind him. As it was his first time parallel parking Gasparini did relatively well. “It was a good environment, just a bad parking job on my part,” Gasparini said. Gasparini was rated 6.5/10. He proved capable of driving and got a bonus of .5 for his tenacity in trying to park. Because he failed one part of the test, he earned a 6.5.

Driver #2: James Jenkins Rating: 9/10

Compared to his competitors Jenkins had the advantage of time on his side as he got his license in early August. So, the expectations were higher for him. Jenkins went into his test quite confident and proved himself from the start. He efficiently went through the driving course in both a safe and untroubled manner. But what was most impressive was his ability to parallel park, though expectations were low after his competitors disheartening attempts. In just one attempt, Jenkins was able to parallel park safely and correctly. In comparison to others, his parking job could be deemed average, but in comparison to his two competitors, his parking job was excellent. Jen kins earned a respectable 9/10 for his skillful driving and exemplary parking.

Driver #3: Audrey Kosla

Rating: 4/10

Having only had her license for a brief 20 days, it showed in her driving skill. Immedi ately starting the test, Kosla struggled to turn her car on. After around two minutes, Kosla discovered she had not been pressing down on the brake to turn off the parking brake. An honest mistake to some, but to the driving examiner, it was an automatic red flag. But, moving past her rocky start, her actual driving was both safe and comfortable. “Although there were difficulties starting the vehicle, I think she overcame that challenge quite well and the duration of the drive was relatively smooth and relaxing,” fellow passenger and sophomore Zoe Schmitt said. Kosla was capable of maneuvering around cones safely and drove at a safe but respectable speed. But, after her journey, Kosla again struggled with an other key part of driving: parking. Kosla seemed both unfamiliar and incompetent at the concept of parallel parking. After around five minutes of attempting to correctly parallel park, Kosla gave up and pulled into the spot from behind, in real circumstances hitting the car behind her. Overall, Kosla recieved a 4/10. Though she did succeed in driving safely and maneuvering cones, her inability to start the car was mildly concerning and Kosla completely failed the parking portion of her test. “I went into my test feeling pretty confident but left realizing there may be some gaps in my ability,” Kosla said.

IT STAFF Solve SCHOOL Tech Problems

Reaching Miramonte on a typical work day around 7:00 a.m, Justin Yee and his part ner, district technician Brendan Kearney, start off their workday by helping the teachers, students, and administration of Miramon te with any technical problems. With a huge bulk of duties being helping students and teachers with technical support, Yee and Kearney split up the work to as sist with any problems that arise.

“Our roles split largely in which body we primarily face. For example, as your Site Sup port Technician, I largely interact with students and faculty with more physical technical support needs, such as Chromebooks, projectors, and laptops, while the District Technician might interface more with teachers and staff,” Yee said. They will usually work together on bigger tasks, from network support on cam pus to providing and maintaining the district wide network. “Both gentlemen [Mr. Kearney and Mr. Yee] did an amazing job of coming in to evaluate the situation, follow up on it, and reinstall new equip ment to make sure it was func tional for class,” social studies teacher Joel Compton said.

The job often requires Yee and Kearney to arrive earlier or stay later than their contract ed hours to ensure a smooth operation each day. Still, Yee tries to maintain a healthy bal ance of work and personal time. “There have been times where I personally arrive at 6:30 or stay on campus until 4:30. Howev er, I personally try to maintain a healthy work-life balance and will try to stick to a rigid 7:30 to 4:00 if possible,” Yee said.

Although Yee and Kearney work extremely hard during the school weeks, they try to take

Yee does have to direct his atten tion to his work, but he continues to focus his attention to other as pects of his life. “Typically, there is no weekend work for myself. My duties are largely on site, meaning on Miramonte campus or other schools in the district. If there is work, it is typically research, tech nical self-improvement, or simply checking and answering urgent emails. There is the occasional emergency that may require atten tion during the weekend, but per sonally, I attend to the issue by ar riving early rather than work[ing] through a weekend to maintain my coveted work-life balance,” Yee said.

Yee and Kearney enjoy every aspect of their job. Helping those in need by solving their problems puts a smile on their face, which gives them a more positive outlook on certain challenges. “Whenever I have computer issues I feel like the technicians are always immediate ly there to help figure out the problem,” senior Jon-Marc Mosher said.

Brendan KearneyDistrict Technician: bkearney@auhsdschools. org

Justin Yee - Site Support Technician:

the weekends for themselves to spend time outside of work at Miramonte. Oc casionally, for certain technical services,
If you are in need tech assistance, feel free to stop by their office in the library or reach out by email:

Full of adrenaline, sophomore Lucas Peterson clutches his blade. He stares down his opponent, who is shrouded in the mystery of a protective mask and a sleek coat of armor. Peterson lunges forward to strike, but his adversary blocks him, prompting a metallic “clink” to ring out. After many charges by both swords men, Peterson conjures an attack his foe cannot fend off, striking him in the chest. Yet, this is not a passionate medieval duel, but a civilized fencing tournament. Rather than “finishing off” his opponent in Shakespearean fashion, the burgeoning fencing star turns around, pumps his fist, and resets for another point.

At age eight, Peterson, now 16, first wielded the blade at a fencing summer camp. Hooked on the sport right away, he opted to continue his development that fall on a beginner team. For the next few years, he balanced baseball and fencing. However, at age 11, he retired his baseball bat to devote all of his athletic attention to fencing.

“I decided to focus on fencing because it was more challenging and fun for me,” Peterson said.

After selecting fencing as his primary sport, Peterson com mitted to a subcategory of the activity. In fencing, competitors choose one of three weapons: the saber, epee, and foil. Peterson competes in the foil division, which, in addition to a lighter, smaller blade, boasts a host of different rules.

“In foil, you score points by hitting your opponent’s upper body with the tip of your blade. If both people hit at the same time, then the point goes to the person who was going forward,” Pe terson said.

In this format, Peterson excels in tournaments, holding his own against some of the best fencers in the country, many of who hail from fencing hotbeds around cities such as San Francisco, Los Angeles, Houston, and New York City. He often competes in the North American Cups (NACs), which draw in capable swords men from around the world.

“In the round of eight at a recent local, I lost a close bout for medal rounds against a 6’5” fencer who had a way higher rating than me, but [I] still placed fifth and had a great time,” Peterson said. “I also had a lot of fun at a big NAC in San Jose and made it pretty far and then got to watch the na tional team fight for the medals.”

With Peterson’s frequent tournaments come significant time demands. He jour neys to clubs, convention centers, and arenas everywhere from Los Angeles to Colorado in search of his next trophy. He puts approximately 11 hours a week into fencing, posing a problem for a teen who wants to balance his school work and his athletic pursuits.

“[Fencing] is a huge commitment,” Pe terson said. “I have practices all throughout the week along with all types of training

and often fly to LA or the Rockies for tournaments, which makes keeping up in school really hard.”

In spite of his ever-growing list of accomplishments in fencing, Peterson continues to push himself further, seeking to break into the upper echelons of the sport. He also has long term aspirations for his future in fencing.

“I want to rack up more good tournament results,” Peterson said. “In the long term, if I do well enough in my junior season, I can look into playing Division I or Division III. That would be the biggest goal, but I would have to get better.”

Fencing finds itself increasingly in the national media spotlight because of the connection between fencing and admission to se lective universities. For example, the New York Times recently published an article titled “Fencing Can Be Six-Figure Expen sive, but It Wins in College Admissions.” The article details the high costs for equipment, coaching, and travel, with Yury Gel man of the Manhattan Fencing Center estimating parents’ an nual expenditures at $40,000. It also details the advantages that “country club sports” like fencing provide in admissions, Howev er, Peterson disagrees with this depiction of his sport.

“Fencing is often thought of as a college entrance ticket,” Pe terson said. “I take issue with this assessment. It is a worldwide sport and community and is actually extremely hard to get into college with.”

Fencing serves as one of the lone constants in Peterson’s life, as it has for several years. Accordingly, it largely molded him into the person he is today.

“Fencing has taught me a lot in life,” Peterson said. “It isn’t always easy being different, even just in terms of sports, and fenc ing is definitely different. I don’t think fencing makes me unique per se, but it changes things socially for me. Many people assume it is just a ‘lame’ sport. I think this is actually good for me because I have to prove their stereotype that fencing is always done by weird people wrong.”

Photo: Lucas Peterson


Miramonte’s list of priorities is endless. Some of the top-most concerns include: repainting the school, decreasing the bird poop during lunch, and finding out if the cafeteria chicken is, well… chicken. However, one problem that trumps all other issues must be addressed: the sheer lack of parking skills in the J-Lot.

Luckily, due to my extensive background in parking, hence how I earned my last name, “Parker,” I’ve crafted the perfect solution. After completing the required one-semester course “Human & Social Development,” sophomores should be required to utilize their second semester to take “Parking 101.” As this is the time many students turn 16 and receive their license, Miramonte can tackle the parking problem early and ensure all the rising juniors are equipped with the necessary skills to park in the J-Lot.

I’ve outlined a proposal for a flawless three-part course that will address some of the most prominent parking errors I’ve encountered.

Staying Within the White Lines:

For most students, the simple concept of what it means to be “parallel” hasn’t translated into the world of parking. Cars must be equally spaced between the two white lines of their parking spot.

Activity: Set up sharp spikes along the white lines and have stu dents practice their parking. Students will not only learn how to park well but also how to fix a flat tire!

Spacial Awareness of Your Car:

In addition to the J-Lot’s many flaws, such as its bottleneck de sign, the J-Lot’s small size is a struggle. Drivers must pull their cars as far forward as possible to allow for the maximum amount of driving room. Newer drivers typically make the rookie mis take of leaving too much room in front of them when parked by objects such as poles or someone’s abandoned left shoe.

Activity: This is the time to put the phrase “learn from your mistakes” to the test. Have students pull forward until they hit an object. Students will quickly learn how far forward they truly can go.

Unsaid Rules of the J-Lot:

Although the J-Lot is first come, first serve, don’t be fooled by this. Even though students are not assigned specific parking spots, after the first week of school, where you’ve parked will be your parking spot for the rest of the year. Taking someone else’s spot is a big no-no.

Activity: If a student finds themselves in a situation where another student took their spot, instead of finding a different spot for the day, have students practice calling towing services to resolve the problem.

With the addition of this parking course, Miramonte will not only be known for its academic excellence, but also for producing some of the world’s finest parkers.



Winter: a season of bright lights, shiny bells, and warm fireplaces. A season applauded for its cozy, welcoming aura. A season fondly referred to as the “season of giving.” It is also a season of immense stress. From finals week to gift selection pressure, the intense winter months can loom menacingly over students’ heads just as much as they can provide reassurance. However, even in the chilliest weeks, there are ways to support yourself and your classmates through winter. The following are some of the easiest happy holiday habits to brighten up rainy days.


Buying holiday gifts can take a toll on your wallet. A more economical alternative is to bake! “Sometimes it’s as simple as bringing in leftovers from the things I bake. Other times I bake specifically as a gift for my class mates,” junior Olivia Lee said. Baking is a quick and cost-effective way to give your classmates a heartfelt sur prise. “I really love gift-giving; during the holidays I especially like baking. It’s so fun to bring in something like a plate of brownies for my friends,” junior Sana Anand said. Even the ease and fun of baking don’t overshadow its deeper value: it shows your classmates that you care about them, embodying the holiday spirit.


Though winter is the time of celebrations, gifts, and hot chocolate, the season can be tolling. The darkest, raini est, and often most academically demanding months of the year present a unique challenge to many students –but not to worry! You can make a big difference through small actions. Checking in on your classmates’ mental health may seem simple, but the impact is far from it. “The holiday season is sometimes stressful for people. It can put a lot on their plates in a time that is seemingly full of happiness and celebration, so it’s always good to check in with people and just listen to what they’ve been up to,” junior Sarah Yang said. Mental health checkins not only help boost our classmates’ moods but also help us to stay connected during the chaotic winter season.


The best remedy for the gloom of the rainy season is a helping hand. Whether giving your friends a car ride, lending them a jacket, or sharing the shade of your umbrella with them, offering respite from the rain is one of the easiest ways to spread joy during the gray days. “I love to give rides to people when it’s raining,” senior Eloise Anagnost said. Helping your classmates stay warm in the rain is a great way to foster comfort and connection. Moreover, embracing the rainy season and acknowledging the positive aspects of rainy days can improve your classmates’ outlook tremendously. “It’s always nice to talk about how calming the rain sounds in the morning when you wake up,” Anagnost said.


Nothing beats the joy of reading a thoughtful note or holiday card! Gratitude notes immediately bring a smile to the face of the recipient. “Gratitude notes make the recipient feel appreciated and also boost the mood of the giver because writing them creates a sense of fulfillment,” junior Kokomi Banerjee said. The next time you’re looking for a meaningful gift for a friend, opt for a handwritten note to express your appreciation for all that they do in a completely unique way!


From Eclipse to Miramonte, new coach Jose Luis Diaz joins the Matador Stampede through the boys soccer program.

After 10 years coaching soccer for East Bay Eclipse, Jose Diaz joined Miramonte’s boys soccer program this past month. As an avid soccer fan since his youth, Jose always dreamt of getting involved in high school soccer in the Lamorinda area. Additionally, with imminent events in the soccer world like the World Cup, he finds even greater enjoyment coaching the sport.

“What’s not to love, I mean it’s a sport where you can do anything wrong and still win, and it’s a sport where you can do everything right and still lose. It’s those moments where it’s pure magic or just luck that helps you decide this game. It’s not just who has the best play ers, it’s who has the most heart,” Diaz said.

Diaz replaced former coach es John Fowley and Thomas Dwyer as head coach for the JV team and will also assist Coach Masood Ahmadi in varsity. Although Fowley and Dwyer led the JV team to a successful season last year, both coaches already work as Miramonte staff members and couldn’t provide enough of their time to take up the team’s responsibility. Subse quently, the athletic department started searching for candidates and eventually landed on Diaz before tryouts at the start of november.

“I think Jose is a great coach, he gets to know his play ers very well and increases the team dynamic. Practices with him are always fun and never bland,” Student-athlete Santi Velazquez said.

Currently speaking, Diaz is the coach for Eclipse’s 2007 and 2011 boys teams and serves on the club’s goalkeeping program as well. One of Diaz’s main coaching philosophies is his insist

ence on a player’s attitude and commitment towards the game. Diaz regularly enforces this upon all of his players and considers it critical to an athlete’s development. On an administrative standpoint, he also works closely with the club’s directors, Shane Carney and Jose Diaz Mercado, to ensure the development of Eclipse’s youth program and continues to lend a hand wherever it is needed.

“He [Jose] is an extremely pas sionate coach. He has a lifelong passion for the sport of soccer and enjoys sharing that with his players through the act of coach ing. He rides the emotions of the season right along with the players while always keeping the focus on being the best they can every single day,” Eclipse Executive Director Shane Carney said.

Apart from coaching, Diaz also works as a special education teacher in the Mt. Diablo School District and has been teaching there shortly after receiving his diploma. Special education is a field that requires much discipline and a balance of patience and ded ication. Despite seeming similar to other teaching jobs, the career field has intense work hours that require teachers to spend their time working out of the classroom as well. Additionally, its required diploma can take up to 4 years of additional schooling and asks graduates to volunteer, teach, and help out weekly. Now, Diaz hopes to translate his passion into high school coaching.

“I always wanted to get into coaching at one of the high schools out here and the fact that half of my club team plays here at Miramonte just made it that I want to come here and follow my guys out here,” Diaz said.

With Miramonte set to face Northgate on the first game of the season December 13th, Diaz is currently preparing his athletes with a physically-demanding pre season. Diaz’s first season as coach will definitely add some weight to his shoulders but based on his previous experiences, there is no doubt that he will succeed.


Boys Soccer: The boys soccer team is coming off a 8-5-3 season. Although successful, the Mats had trouble taking down the Campolindo Cougars, as they lost four straight times to them through out the season.The Mats are willing to change that as returning starters Gra ham Ballantyne ‘23, Nick Govea ‘23, and Grant Scanlan ‘23 are looking to make an impact.With many talented past seniors leaving including Ponoma-Pitzer com mit Giri Mase ‘22 and efficient defender Henry Hill ‘22, the Mats are looking for young talent to grow up fast.The Mats soccer program is currently in the Diab lo-Valley league for soccer.This league isn’t the Diablo-Foothill league with teams like Acalanes, Campolindo, and Las Lomas.The boys are looking to fight for a spot back into the Diablo-Foothill league and prove that they can play with some of the best teams in the region.

‘25 led the team in goals scored with 13. University of Chicago commit Tahra Mi nowada ‘23 used her skills to get those playmakers the ball through her one assist per game average.With tons of talent on the roster,the Mats are hoping for a deep run in the NCS playoffs.

Girls Soccer: The girls soccer team is looking for a bounce back season as they finished at 3-15-1 last year.The Mats dealt with multiple injuries within the starting lineup, putting them at a huge disadvan tage for league play.With key playmaker Julia Hunt ‘22 leaving, many seniors and juniors will have to step up and help this team go back to their championship ways. Tahra Minowada ‘23, Addie Creson ‘23, Lola Kassela ‘23,Jada Deitrick ‘23,and Avery Welch ‘23 are all willing to make plays for this Matador team. However, last season, as a freshman, Katrina White

Boys Basketball: Coming off an in credible 24-6 season, the Mats had a once in a lifetime type of talent on their roster.With huge names like Tyler Dut to ‘22, James Frye ‘22, Ben Murphy ‘22, and Caden Breznikar ‘22, the Mats went all the way to win the third place game in the NCS playoffs.With a disappoint ing state playoff record, the Mats are still hungry for more.With only one senior, Ethan Conley ‘23, there is a question about the leadership for this team. How ever, returning juniors Marcus Robinson ‘24 and Koleton Fenton ‘24 have filled that leadership responsibility and become role models for this young, inexperienced team.“Marcus has a softer voice but is correcting guys on the court.Koleton is great through organizing everyone to get on the court and following practice plans,” head coach Chris Lavdiotis said.

Girls Basketball: After a dead even record of 14-14, the Lady Mats had a very successful 2021-2022 season.The Mats are looking to ride off of star play er Karena Eberts ‘24, as she led the team in points scored, rebounds, and steals.To complement the all league player are the Scheingart twins. Courtney Scheingart ‘23, averaging about 7.7 points per game, and Katherine Scheingart ‘23, averaging about 1.3 assists per game, both help control the ball on the court.With their smooth dribbling techniques and passion for the game, the Scheingart twins are ready to lead the Lady Mats to a cham pionship season. One role that the team will have to fill is the absence of Chloe Breznikar ‘22.The 6’ 0” center helped big time with rebounds and assists.The Mats need to help fill those roles and get the ball to their playmakers as they could go far in their NCS playoffs.

Wrestling: With 26 active mem bers on the wrestling team, the Mats are looking to go far into NCS champion ships this year.With senior star wrestler Hannah Ripper ‘23, many of the under classmen are hoping to learn from the best. Ripper placed 1st at NCS winning the entire competition and placed 5th in the entire state of California. Ripper is currently ranked #1 in the state for her 131 pound division. Ripper and the rest of the wrestling team are looking for ward to keeping the winning traditions of the Miramonte sport and continue their championship traditions.

Photo: Bowen Sande Photo: Caleb Elkind Photo: Lola Kassela Photo: Hannah Ripper

Rockin’ & Rollin’ with the Express

“From the top!” drummer and freshman Xander Kim shouts. Clicking his drumsticks, Kim counts his fellow band members in, and the Matador Express fills the room with an explosion of music. The Matador Express is a school rock band led by band teacher Thomas Dwyer and consists of stu dents from all grade levels. The idea for this band came from a suggestion by English teacher Steve Poling.

“Mr. Poling and I talked at a faculty party towards the end of the year last year, and he thought about putting to gether a rock band with staff and students,” Dwyer said. Dwyer, however, came up with the name Matador Express. “I’m a big train guy. I love taking the train, and so I thought, ‘Express,’” Dwyer said.

At the beginning of the school year, Dwyer opened sign-ups for the band to students and teachers. Currently, the band has six members—including Dwyer—and many of them are also in Dwyer’s zero-period jazz band class. Fresh man Gunn-Wu Kim rocks the vocals, Kim pounds away at the drums, sophomore Thomas Boifort plays the bass, junior Julian Rustigian plays the tenor sax, senior Jack Hughes plays the electric guitar, and Dwyer plays the trombone.

“Everyone in the band is super friendly, and it is a very welcoming environment. I feel like the band can just jam to gether, and we work well together. I hope we can impress the school next semester when we play some music by more well-known rock and metal bands,” Kim said.

The band rehearses during academy periods, meeting in the band room to work on their songs. For their performance on the quad on Oct. 20, their set mainly consisted of 70s rock songs, including “25 or 6 to 4” and “Does Anyone Really Know What Time Is,” both by the famous band Chicago. “I think it’s fun to perform live music. It’s something that I care about deeply. In this performance, we had also to improvise

[the last two songs] heavily, which I think adds an ele ment of magic,” Hughes said.

The Matador Express’s most recent performance was with Performers for Progress on Nov. 17 and 18, where they performed some of their 70s rock set. In addition, Boi fort, Hughes, and Kim performed an original song titled “Don’t Cry to Me,” which was completed just days before the performance. Ending the show in true finale fashion, confetti cannons launched over the band as they played the final notes of their song, and the entire Performers for Pro gress cast celebrated behind them onstage.

“I enjoyed the instrumentals, which I thought were re ally well executed. I especially enjoyed the guitar solo in the first song—it thoroughly impressed me,” sophomore Tyler Hennessy said.

In addition to performing for the school, the band serves a deeper purpose. Over the last several years, enroll ment in band classes—and the music program as a whole— declined. “A strong VPA program is critical for Miramonte as a whole and crucial to the success of so many students, so my hope is that we can continue to work together to get more sign-ups and grow our enrollment numbers back to where we all want them,” principal Ben Campopiano said.

Dwyer hopes the band will help remedy this issue. “I thought the band would be good for the music program and great publicity. [The low enrollment] is a little depress ing, but I’m working on it, and I’m determined to make something here,” Dwyer said.

Nevertheless, the band provides a great experience for the students. “Being in any band—whether it’s instrumen tal, hard rock, or blues—is about playing music together as a group, performing for an audience, and most importantly, experimenting and having fun with the endless possibilities of music,” Rustigian said.




Lauren Fruci, a special education teacher, and Colleen Williams, an English 1 and Eng lish 4: Literature, Film and Media teacher, are known as the original besties around campus. They first met during their new teacher orien tation in 2018. While at school together, they enjoy walking around and looking for snacks. They are able to spend so much time together because of shared students and prep periods. “Because I am a special education teacher, she has all my ninth graders. So we really do work together,” Fruci said. They also like to hang out with other teacher besties such as Jackson Avery and Matt Sweeney. “Like I said, we look for snacks sometimes. Talk to other besties like Jackson and Matt. Gossip,” Williams said. Not only do they enjoy hanging out during school, but they also make time to see each other out side of school. The duo enjoys going to restau rants to have lunch, brunch or dinner, and they also like working out and grocery shopping together. Some of their favorite memories of each other was when Williams was on mater nity leave. “Ms. Williams had a baby last year and was on maternity leave. And I could not tell you the amount of people who walked up to make and asked, ‘are you ok? I know she’s not here, how are you?’ People were genuinely asking me if I was okay without Ms. Williams on campus and not seeing her everyday. I was like, yeah, it sucks, but I still see her,” Fruci said. With Williams at home, Fruci often stopped by to say hello. “One of my favorite memories is when I was on maternity leave and Ms. Fruci would often swing by after work and just bring me stuff. And it was my favorite thing because it just made me feel so good. That was really thoughtful and nice and made me feel loved,” Williams said.


Another teacher bestie duo is Cassi Por ter, a Leadership and Chemistry in the Earth’s Systems teacher, and Jyllian Smith, an AP Environmental Science and Earth and Space Science teacher. The two first met on Zoom in the fall of 2020. At the time they were both AP Environmental Science (APES) teachers, so each Monday they would meet over Zoom and plan out APES content. They were finally able to meet each other in person about five months later. Outside of school, their

hangouts normally consist of walking their dogs together and eating good food such as Cheez-its and fellow teacher Katie Watson’s cookies. “Over the summers and breaks we walk our dogs together weekly! Our puppies are also best friends,” Porter and Smith shared. When asked about their favorite memory with each other, Smith shared: “My favorite mem ory of Ms. Porter was when she wrote a note about me forgetting about her and it was read in front of the entire staff. But we both won umbrellas so... win?” Porter said: “My favorite memory of Ms. Smith is when we were sitting in a whole meeting and she told the group that she didn’t have a collaboration partner, when I was her collaboration partner, and was sitting right next to her.”


The last pair of teacher besties is Matt Sweeney, a U.S. History teacher, and Jackson Avery, an AP U.S. History, Journalism teach er, and Mirador advisor. They first met during COVID while teaching online. One can often find them exchanging sarcastic and playful banter while exchanging ideas about their sim ilar but different history classes. “We’re both U.S. history teachers, but we teach different types of history. So it’s really fun to talk about how we share curriculum,” Avery said. They enjoy playing pickleball together on Wednes days with fellow teachers Xavier Frippiat and Lauren Fruci. Avery’s most memorable mem ory with Sweeney was twin day. “The first one was twin day this year where I dressed up as Mr. Sweeney because I’ll be honest, we look the same. I just had to put on a long hair wig and a yellow beanie and the whole alikeness was uncanny,” Avery said. Sweeney shared that some of his favorite memories were when they were joking around. “I often treat Mr. Avery like a little brother--I’m the youngest of four and never had a little brother. So I joke and mess with him as if he were. One time I pointed out that he had something on his sweatshirt--which he quite literally did--but as he looked down, I moved my finger up his shirt and got him in the nose--something my older brother and his friends did to me all the time when I was a kid. But, again, he actually had something on his shirt. I guess he doesn’t know how to do laundry properly? To be fair, I still do this to him and every fourth time or so, he definitely falls for it.”


Students’ Winter Holidays and Celebrations

The winter months bring on frigid weather alongside cozy evenings spent at home with hot chocolate and fluffy sweaters galore. They also host a variety of holidays across cultures. After a tough week of finals, many Miramonte students look forward to their winter celebrations. Here’s what Matadors have to say about their winter holidays.


This year: December 18-26

hanukkah, also referred to as the Festival of Lights, is a Jewish holiday that commemorates the recovery of Jerusalem and rededication of the Second Temple in the 2nd century BCE.

Chanukkah is observed for eight nights and days. For many, it is customary to light a menorah in recognition of the significance of lights to the story of Chanukkah.

“During Hanukkah, my family usually has a party for the first night, but then light the candles as a family for the next seven nights,” senior Maya Paykel said. “My dad can make really good latkes!”

Many Chanukkah celebrations also feature modern and traditional music and dance. “For my Chanukkah celebrations, my dad usually sings in Yiddish,” junior Gen Korklan said.


Yearly: January 6

Día de Los Reyes, occurring annually on January 6th, is a Christian holiday also referred to as “Three Kings’ Day,” symboliz ing the day the Three Wise Men visited and gave gifts to Jesus. The holiday concludes a line of Christmas festivities.

Many observe the holiday by holding celebratory feasts and family gatherings.

“I celebrate Día de Los Reyes with my family in Mexico. I’m going over there for winter break, and it’ll be really fun, [and we’ll] make tamales!” sophomore Santiago Martinez-Davis said.

Families also often celebrate the holiday by eating rosca de reyes, or King’s Cake. “We eat rosca, which is a cake with a plastic baby Jesus figu rine in it,” Martinez-Davis said. The plastic trinket represents prosperity upon its recipient and their family. “ In our celebration, whoever gets the baby Jesus has to throw a party and make tamales in February.”


This year: December 21


Yearly: December 25

Christmas is celebrated yearly on December 25 around the world as both a secular and a religious holiday; many celebrate by decorating a Christmas pine tree, giving gifts, and hosting an elaborate family meal.

“I celebrate Christmas with my family! One of the traditions we have is that we watch ‘Home Alone’ together every year,” junior Willa Mapaye said.

For the Christian faith, this holiday represents the birth of Jesus Christ, and its celebration may include Christmas church services and cooking or baking traditional foods.

“I have Polish heritage on my mom’s side of the family, so we get together for a Polish-style Christmas celebration. We eat foods like pierogi and Polish candies, and we always play a huge game of Uno,” senior Alice Ball said.


This year: January 22

The Lunar New Year, mainly celebrated in East Asia and its diaspora, corresponds with the beginning of a new year on a calendar based on moon cycles.

Celebrations of the Lunar New Year vary by region; while there exist central traditions, many are culture-specific. China and Vietnam, for instance, celebrate the lunar year by changing zodiac signs. A lunar zodiac is a cycle of animals that represent a year within a repeating time frame.

The Lunar New Year places an importance on family celebration and traditions.

“To celebrate the Lunar New Year, my family and I watch Chunwan, which is basically an annual Chinese show for the Lunar New Year,” junior Nicole Guo said.

Food is especially important to Lunar New Year celebrations, as certain dishes represent longevity, luck, and prosperity for the upcoming year.

“One of my favorite New Year traditions is nián nián you yú: we cook fish, and we eat some of it the final day of the previous year and then the rest the first day of the new year,” Guo said. “This is a symbol of prosperity... we’ll continue to have food and success in the next year.”

The Winter Solstice, the day when the Earth is tilted farthest away from the Sun, is celebrated by many cultures, generally in the Pan-Asian region and its diaspora. Also called “the longest night,” it marks the beginning of days getting shorter for the approaching spring. Winter Solstice celebrations include the Persian tradition of Shab-eh Yalda and the East Asian Dongzhi festival.

Traditionally, Yalda is spent with family, eating winter fruits and reading Persian poetry through midnight. “It’s all about culture and family. It’s important to gather around the table and spend the evening together to bring hope for the winter,” junior Ben Haidari said.


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INDIE LEE & EMMA WONG Kaylin Chang Corinna O’Brien Maia Vo Indie Lee Eva Schroeder Emma Wong Maia Vo


A typical day at Miramonte consists of learning, socialization, and sugar. So much sugar. An average student likely eats brunch, lunch, a snack, and a drink. If they got this food from school lunch counters and vending machines, their sus tenance may include a blueberry muffin, a slice of pizza, a Nature Valley granola bar, and an Izze soft drink. This alone totals approximately 65 grams of added sugar, almost triple the American Heart Asso ciation’s recommended maximum daily sugar intake for teenagers. This trend has overwhelmingly negative consequences for student health and academic performance. Thus, the district must improve the health quality of school lunches, brunches, and vending machine snacks.

In 1945, the United States Military saw a problem: lackluster health among potential draft ees. They explained to Congress that adolescent malnutrition was a national security threat. The government acted, establishing the National School Lunch Program to improve youth health. However, over the past 75 years, politicians on both sides of the spectrum rolled back school lunch subsidies. In 1981, the Food and Nutrition Service even declared ketchup a vegetable to avoid paying more for healthy food. Policies like this deal a major blow to teenagers’ health.

Although our country may not be as focused on nurturing future soldiers now, both the importance of nutrition for molding great people and the com plete lack of investment in such nutrition remain the same as when General Lewis Hershey addressed Congress in 1945. Given a complete lack of federal action, today, our district must act as leaders in the protection of student health by work ing to improve the healthiness of its food.

Today’s quality of school provided food is abysmal. Unhealthy snacks at the vending machine include Rice Krispy Treats, Welch’s Fruit Snacks, and PopTarts, all high in sugar and other harmful

nutrients like saturated fat. Food handed out at brunch and lunch, including french toast, scones, pizza, and burgers, rarely provide sufficient nutritional value. The prevalence of junk food at school contrib utes to a larger problem: worsening health for teenagers. Skyrocketing adolescent obesity figures across the state, including a 15% jump over the last school year, largely occur because of excessive consumption of unhealthy food – the very foods our schools approve. Additionally, per Florida Atlantic University’s Schmidt College of

cation to accomplish its goals in student health and wellness. However, current policy on nutrition runs counterproduc tive to this goal, only worsening student health.

The food isn’t very popular either. “I don’t think our school lunches are either tasty or nutritious,” junior Rhys Hire said.

Because the district consists of edu cational institutions, its decisions should align with the goal of giving students the best education possible. Consistently pumping pupils’ bodies full of sugar will only limit their academic poten tial. A study from Michael Goran, a children’s health expert at the University of Southern California, found that sugar has a negative impact on kids’ academic perfor mance, learning, and memory.

Recognizing the problem is not enough; problems with student nutrition will not end until district leaders identify and implement solutions. Hopefully, such a plan looks something like this:

First, vending machines should only stock food deemed nutritious by health professionals.

Second, no foods distributed at brunch and lunch can exceed a level of sugar and saturated fat stipulated by the district.

Medicine, consumption of junk food has a negative impact on mental health, since the chemicals in it cause depression and anxiety.

“When an individual ingests too much of anything, whether it be sugar, sugar substitutes, sweeteners, supplements, energy drinks or any other chemical ly-processed food, that human is forcing their body systems to work extra hard to metabolize and process those chemicals, which inevitably leads to overstress,” Sports Trainer John Grigsby said. “Your body also requires variation and balance, sugar and carbs are only a piece of the puzzle.”

Our schools have a moral obligation to ensure the health of students. That’s why the district spends millions of dollars every year on wellness and physical edu

Third, the district should bring in a menu consultant to find nour ishing cuisine that many students will enjoy.

Fourth, in an additional supplemen tary educational measure, the PE 9 and Human and Social Development courses should place further emphasis on teaching students healthy eating habits.

Obviously, such a plan will increase food costs and detract from profits. How ever, the purpose of schools is not to line their own pockets, but to foster education and growth. A renewed focus on nutri tious food helps to accomplish this goal.

We are the next generation, the seeds of our nation. Watering these seeds with Izzes and Pop-Tarts, rather than water and protien, will only limit our growth. Making school food healthier will allow us to blossom as people in terms of health, happiness, and education.

Graphic: Buckeye Union School District

Curriculum Should Include Professional Skills Lessons

Miramonte’s student body is known for its unabating fixation on academic excellence. Students learn to pursue every feat of re sumé-construction until they arrive at the final destination: graduation. So, what happens when it’s all over? The dream of adulthood becomes a reality. We swap the fear of math and history tests with utter confusion—what do we say in job interviews? How do we file taxes? How do we save for retirement? It’s nice to think that the post-graduation years are the time to figure all that out, but pushing life skill learning into an intangible future is a surefire way to guarantee intractably frustrating young adult years. By implementing more les sons dedicated to practical skills that help students navigate their adult lives, the school can assure that students graduate as well-rounded individuals prepared to succeed in a variety of paths.

“We do so much planning for the rest of our lives from an academic standpoint, but we just don’t learn how to live life on our own, which is kind of shocking. Education should be more than that, especially since we’re all getting ready to embark on the crazy journey of life after high school,” senior Alexa Gutu said.

Currently, many high school students graduate without sufficient skills to handle their new independence. According to a 2019 study by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, an entrepreneur-focused economic development organization, the overwhelming majority of adults believe high school did not prepare them for their current job. In a follow-up study from 2021, students, adults, and employers all consistently deemed life skills, along with soft and technical skills—problem-solving, communication, people skills, perseverance, emotional intelligence—more crucial than subject-matter expertise. 77 percent of employers responded that high school preparation should emphasize real world skills above traditional subject matters.

Consequently, practical skills such as curiosity and resourcefulness deserve greater emphasis in the curriculum. Young people who leave high school able to ask questions, research them, and trouble-shoot are better prepared for success in the workforce.

“Research skills in general can be filtered into more classes, and asking questions is really at the heart of it. So, can you generate ques tions? Can you be curious about a topic? And how do you go about answering those questions? It’s really important that we are adding these skills into more lessons and discussions, in any topic,” librarian Susan Williams said.

In conjunction with the absence of questioning and problem-solving skills, concrete life skills such as financial management should hold a greater weight in the curriculum.

“Financial skills are really underrepresented in our high school education. I think we should learn about dealing with taxes, mortgages, investments, and loans,” junior Elizabeth Cooke said. “For example, we have AP Macroeconomics, but we don’t have Microeconomics, which involves personal finances, economic decision making, and budgeting. I think including that or similar lessons would be really helpful.” Shifting the primary focus of financial class offerings from simply broad economic trends to personal finance help will enable more students to make necessary and thoughtful financial decisions.

Even so, the suggestion to add life skills to our classes seems daunting. Students already have schedules packed with classes and extracurriculars—there is little room for additional coursework. However, these skills may be integrated into the curriculum gradually: relevant classes can add in or adjust lesson plans to involve such skills.

“Going to college involves making a lot of major financial decisions that can be very difficult to understand when you haven’t been taught a lot about finances. So, there should be money management lessons!” freshman Trisha Prabandham said.

Moreover, practical financial decisions go hand-in-hand with our career paths and ability to find employment in our chosen field. For many young people, in-person job interviews pose an immense challenge, requiring oratory skills and the ability to highlight specific strengths.

Many syllabi already include oral presentations, but assignments should also expose students specifically to the interview format. Spe cifically, classes in technical subjects, such as science and computer science, should assess students similarly to the interviews that students in scientific fields will likely encounter in their job searches. In this way, the school will guarantee that students can communicate their ideas in a clear, concise, and engaging way.

To prepare students for the more technical aspects of college and career paths, many classes also take advantage of the resources of fered by the library, such as lessons on conducting research, synthesizing information, and evaluating resources to examine and interpret a variety of subjects. These lessons diverge from more abstract subjects and emphasize technical skills, which are essential for students to learn to exhibit caution and focus in approaching the broad research questions and thesis projects that will mark their college years.

“Companies want nimble thinkers, people who are flexible and can understand things from different angles, and can also synthesize the glut of information that we have, make sense of it, and present a case,” Williams said.

. ...

The victories of the libraries’ programs vindicate the necessity of implementing more lessons involving practical skills—not only with in academic, but also in financial and social fields—in the curriculum.

In order for students to pursue their professional goals, more classes should incorporate skill-based lessons beyond the pages of a textbook.

. . .

Gingerbread House Kitrankings

A classic ode to the holiday season, gingerbread house making and decorating is a timeless tradition many eagerly await to partake in. However, whether pre-made or built from scratch, one question arises: What store has the best gingerbread house kit? Evaluating affordability, durability, and overall appearance, we put three gingerbread houses to the test. These are our results!

MIRA: 5/10

Target’s holiday mansion gingerbread house kit came with supplies that did not disappoint. Complete with prebaked gingerbread pieces, ready-made icing, fondant, and an assortment of decorating candies, the outcome was sadly quite underwhelming. Upon initially constructing the house, things began to go downhill – literally. The prepackaged icing did a poor job of supporting the house’s walls, eventually resulting in both deterioration and frustration. Additionally, the dense gingerbread pieces only added extra weight to the structure and served as a catalyst for disaster. However, the final result –a roofless, unsuccessfully constructed house – put up a more appealing front than its initial state. The kit’s decorating candies added an element of charm and, despite the weak foundation, the holiday mansion was ultimately festive, to say the least.


JESSICA: 9.5/10

While Target’s “Sports Stadium Kit” initially appears intimidating, it is anything but. This kit practically builds itself: the bargain price of $12.99 will get you ready-made gingerbread pieces, three separate kinds of icing, festive candies, and paper cutouts to decorate with. However, my favorite part of the kit was the plastic foundation that allowed me to skip the tedious construction process, allowing for a stress-free, satisfying experience. Thus, my tasks were limited to frosting each individual piece, decorating with sprinkles and candy, and laying the pieces on the foundation. My only complaint was that the corner pieces broke unevenly which forced me to get creative and use gumdrops to make up for lost material. Overall, this kit is a refreshing twist on the traditional gingerbread house perfect for anyone who wants to avoid the laborious process of actually building a house.

JANIE: 8.7/10

The log cabin gingerbread house proved a major success. With the chunky white icing providing little to no support, the four stability holders for the structure’s base and roof helped the building process significantly. Due to the stabilizers, zero moments occurred of frustration and hopelessness that usually come along when making a typical gingerbread house. Instead, most of my energy went toward decorating the home to its full potential. The white icing acted as snow on the window frames and roof, and the assortment of decoration candies accurately replicated a festive log cabin. Along with the green and black icing and candy, the kit also came with multiple gingerbread cut-out trees and chimneys. Although certain steps in the building process were tedious, the festive and spirited finished product was worth the work. Following the box’s building instructions and demonstrative pictures, the gingerbread log cabin will ensure an enjoyable experience full of holiday spirit.


The holiday season is the best time to buy new candles. They pro duce a festive atmosphere, make it possible to reminisce about the hol idays, and make for perfect presents. Bath and Body Works devotees band together, waiting for their holiday fragrances all year. The Mirador’s Bath and Body Works enthusiast, Ava Skidgel, took it upon herself to write a comprehensive review of the best and worst of this year’s selection.

A recurring classic that smells sweet and creamy with notes of vanilla and marshmallow. “[Vanil la Bean Noel] smells like vanilla sweet cream from Starbucks. I love it,” sophomore Maya Sandoval said.

It provides an aroma of a seasonal treat. The delicate aroma of crisp apples isn’t overpowered by notes of caramel, making it a subtle scent. “Winter candy apple reminds me of December, as it’s my favorite month, and the scent of apple cider makes me feel really clean,” sophomore Sophia Laliberte said.

It smells like coconut and shea butter coming together to form a sweet medley of tropical coconut and icey vanilla. The scent is com parable to their current “Vanilla Coconut” scent, so a point deduc tion is necessary for originality.

A fresh scent similar to the “strawberry pound cake” candle by Bath and Body Works. It has strawberry and creamy vanilla aromas that resemble a strawber ry milkshake. It also has a faint bubblegum scent, making it artifi cial-smelling.

This minty candle has vanilla undertones and the scent of pep permint candy. Subtle pine notes are in the aroma, reminiscent of a Christmas tree. If you like pepper mint, it would be great to burn in your room; however, I think it’s too overpowering.

If you want your room to smell like a holiday evening baking Christmas cookies, this fragrance–which is not a candle–is perfect. It smells like sugar cookies because of the aroma’s sweet vanilla and buttery notes.

It has a pungent fruity scent with tangerine and peach notes that create a sweet but artificial aroma. However, I don’t detect any berry-like smell. The scent re minds me of an air freshener, and peaches don’t go well with snow


As we enter the Christmas season, it’s finally time to tune into those Christmas songs again. There are thousands of songs to choose from and such little time to listen to them, so here are the top picks from The Mirador to make the most of your holiday season.

“All I Want For Christmas Is You” – Ma riah Carey

This iconic song by Mariah Carey per fectly combines the Christmas spirit and romance. Not only does it touch on Christ mas presents, Santa Claus, and sleigh bells, but it also radiates love. Carey enthusias tically declared that the only present she needed for Christmas this year was the individual to which the song was sung. The song is the perfect accompaniment for an yone who wants to express their significant other at this time of the year. “I like the uplifting spirit of this song,” senior Ryan Kaelle said.

“Jingle Bells” – James Pierpont

A classic, “Jingle Bells” is a must-listen every year. It is one of the most popular Christmas songs of all time. The catchy tune leaves millions around the world humming all season long. The song follows the perspective of Santa Claus, who de scribes his exciting adventure on his sleigh. “The bells and jingling in this song are very spirited. Everytime I hear this song, I imagine Santa Claus right next to me,” Grinold said.

Last Christmas” – Wham!

Popular duo Wham! expresses their sor rows over failed relationships in this popu lar Christmas song. The song spoke of dev astating heartbreak when their significant other left them the day after Christmas. This song gives you a deep insight into the holiday season and shows that it is not al ways a time for happiness and festivities; it can also be a time of sadness and loneliness. Nevertheless, the song still drops a catchy tune, attracting millions of listeners yearly.

“Feliz Navidad” – José Feliciano

Interestingly, “Feliz Navidad” has 19 words repeated throughout the whole three-minute song. Six words are in Span ish, translating to “Merry Christmas, prosperous year, and happiness.” The rest of the words are, “I wanna wish you a merry Christmas from the bottom of my heart.” Listening to this song gives you a feeling that everything will be fantastic for your upcoming year. “Listening to this song just gives me so much joy. It makes me think I’m going to have an amazing year ahead of me,” senior Nico Grinold said.

Photo: Sony Music Entertainment Photo: My Aesthetic Things Tumblr Photo: Sony Music Entertainment

Marshmallows and Whipped Cream Face Off!

With the cold weather, rain, and shorter days, many students partake in winter activities. Whether lying under five blankets, blasting overplayed Christmas music, or eating stale gingerbread, students try their best to make the most of the monotonous season. But beyond this, students are confronted with a tough decision. What is a better hot chocolate topping: marshmallows or whipped cream?


Marshmallows are the classic choice. With three different sizes to choose from, marshmallows make the hot chocolate look complete. Marsh mallows also give you more freedom to decide when to eat them. You can eat them right away while taking a big swig of hot chocolate, wait till you’ve drunk all of it, or any time in between.

“I like Marshmallows more than whipped cream because they taste better, and marshmal lows can be mixed better with hot chocolate than whipped cream does,” sophomore James Jenkins said.


The main issue with marshmallows is that they dissolve and add no flavor to the hot chocolate. In addition to this, marshmallows aren’t all that good, to begin with. Marshmallows are also made almost entirely with sugar, making them very unhealthy and just not worth it.


Marshmallows Whipped Cream


Even the sound and look are enough to make you fall in love with the unknown chemicals (that probably cause cancer) in the spray paint-look ing bottle. Who doesn’t love the soft texture and sweetness of good old whipped cream? The most overlooked advantage of whipped cream is that it cools the top layer of the hot chocolate, making those first few sips much more bearable.

“Whipped cream adds sweetness, texture, flavor, and a melting sensation in your mouth that is so inconspicuous to understand in any realm of hu man endeavor,” sophomore Cyrus Jowharchi said.


Whipped cream is far messier than marshmal lows. When you try to drink from your mug, the whipped cream always finds its way onto your up per lip, and gives you a white mustache. The oth er problem is that you can’t separate the whipped cream from the hot chocolate.

Best option?

Whipped cream. Whipped cream is so much more fun to put on hot chocolate; it looks better and it tastes better. So now, the next time you make yourself a warm mug of hot chocolate, remember to choose whipped cream on top and don’t forget to sprinkle some crushed candy cane bits for style points.


Start Your New Year With Horoscopes

2023 is coming in hot, and it can be overwhelming to consider everything the new year has in store for us. Zodiacs provide some reassurance with a tailored prediction of what each sign should expect!

Aries: Try to adopt a more positive attitude this year. Count your blessings and know that everything happens for a reason. You will feel more comfortable in your own skin and learn to shut out the world when you feel pressured. Keep persevering, but be practical!

Taurus: Pay close attention to your values in 2023, especially in regard to close relationships and money. You will expe rience situations where you will need to take direct action and make tough decisions – but don’t worry, this will lead to prosperity!

Gemini: Prioritize your relationships, especially at the beginning and end of the year. However, you will need to make independent decisions about what you want for yourself. While challenges related to education may arise, you will thrive academically!

Cancer: Good luck is in store for you this year. With an old cycle of your life coming to a close, you must sort out what you want to continue pursuing and what no longer suits you. You may experience a lot of pressure, but you will persevere and ultimately succeed.

Leo: 2023 will bring you a renewed sense of self-confidence and happiness. While your inner circle may feel smaller this year, know that it will consist of your true friends. At the same time, you should expand your network of acquain tances and involve yourself in your community.

Virgo: You will work hard this year and earn a growing sense of respect. As a result, you will feel increasingly opti mistic as you receive encouragement and support from an extensive group of friends. You will continue on the path to achieving your goals and leaving behind anything that doesn’t serve your purpose.

Libra: Time management will be particularly important for you this year as you experience an increasingly pressured schedule. You will gain a strong sense of enthusiasm and end the year with high hopes and new friends.

Scorpio: This year, you must take direct action, be persistent, and go for what you want. You may feel an urge to travel more and have ambitious plans. Prioritize improving your study habits and know that success is coming your way.

Sagittarius: 2023 will be a crucial year for you. The next year may test your close relationships, but your strong partner ships will survive. This year will be one of exploration, understanding, and determination. However, be careful – don’t get carried away and stay humble.

Capricorn: Take time to support your close relationships, as they will guide you through periods of hard work. Nev ertheless, ensure that you take enough time for yourself. 2023 will be a busy year for you, so self-reflection and under standing is your key to success.

Aquarius: Surround yourself with people who are similar to you and share the same ideals. This will be critical to helping you put your efforts in the right places and achieve your goals. Stick to what you know is right and listen to your gut!

Pisces: You will feel more social, outgoing, and confident this year. At the same time, you will gain heavier responsibil ities that may weigh on you – as long as you focus on your ambitions, you will succeed. Pursue what will be the most rewarding

THE MIRADOR From our home to yours, happy holidays. Non-Profit Organization US Postage Paid, Orinda, CA Permit #301 Miramonte High School 750 Moraga Way Orinda, CA 94563
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