The Mirador Volume 66 Issue 5

Page 1

Overdose Preparedness in Schools:

The danger of fentanyl raises alarm in local schools as they train staff, stock narcan, and educate students (page 6).

Spring Sports Preview:

Baseball, lacrosse, track and field, tennis, softball, and swim begin their spring sports seasons (page 11).

The Iconic Jeep Club Guide:

In the parking lots, traffic circle, and down Ivy Drive, the jeep is a symbol of prestige for students (page 16).

Volume 66, Issue 5

March 27, 2023

Girls Mental Health Fears Rise from CDC Data


Center for Disease Control (CDC) data indicates a rise in mental health struggles for teenagers, especially girls. Social media, pandemic stress, and sexual violence may be to blame.

According to a Statista survey, as of Feb. 2021, 78 % of adult women in the United States used at least one social media site. The share of adult men who used social networking sites was 66%. The constant pressure to present a perfect image and compare oneself to others on social media is the leading cause of insecurity amongst many. “I have social media accounts on many different platforms. While I enjoy viewing what my peers are doing outside of school, I also get lost scrolling through TikTok or Instagram, sometimes missing out on what is occurring in the real world around me,” an anonymous Miramonte student said. “Social media presents an image that is perfect and that makes me feel less satisfied with my life, leading to insecurities.”

Women may be particularly vulnerable to these impacts since many report being exposed to overwhelming beauty standards and social pressures. Furthermore, social media increases feelings of isolation and loneliness as well as the risk of cyberbullying and harassment. “I think that social media can really affect a girl’s mental health because seeing other girls on vacation looking their best, all done up with makeup and cute clothes, makes it easy to compare yourself to that girl and can make you feel bad about yourself,” another anonymous Miramonte student said.

According to a 2021 CDC Youth Risk Behavior Study (YRBS), nearly three in five female teenagers reported they felt “persistently sad or hopeless”; 30% reported

they had seriously considered commting suicide.

These percentages are notable as they are the highest rates of hopeless and suicidal thoughts among teenage girls in a decade. “We have data that highlights an increase in the utilization of the Wellness Center. For example, we have more sign-ins overall this year compared to this time in past years, and we also have experienced an increase in overall referrals for counseling services,” Wellness Center coordinator Andie Nishimi said. “We can't attribute causality, but I speculate that the increase in utilization of Wellness services reflects both the Wellness Center becoming more integrated into Miramonte's campus and the trends noted in the 2021 YBRS around worsening adolescent mental health.”

The CDC’s survey elicited 17,232 responses from U.S. high school students and also shed light on violence and sexual violence, substance use, and sexual behavior. The survey’s results showed a rise in sexual violence experienced by females: one in five females reported they’d suffered from sexual violence in 2021; 14% of females said they’d been raped. The CDC reports that the data from 2021 is the first time this statistic had risen since the center began monitoring it. “Our teenage girls are suffering through an overwhelming wave of violence and trauma, and it’s affecting their mental health,” Kathleen Ethier, director of the CDC’s Division of Adolescent and School Health, said.

Additionally, 52% of teenagers who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or questioning suffer from issues with mental health. The CDC’s report states that 22% of LGBTQ adolescents attempted suicide in 2021. According to Julie Cerel, a licensed psychologist and director of the Suicide Prevention & Exposure Lab at the University of Kentucky, LGBTQ youths “experience much more inter-

personal stress from schools, from peers and from home.”

In the midst of this mental health crisis, Miramonte aims to support students and alleviate the issue. With easily accessible mental health resources just around the corner, Nishimi emphasizes the importance of visiting the Wellness Center to reach out for help or simply to take a break from the stress of high school. “Reaching out for support around mental health can feel like one of the most daunting things to do because often a stressed out or depressed brain fears that you're the only one going through it,” Nishimi said.

The Wellness Center exemplifies administration's effort to support students' mental health. “Wellness Centers didn't exist in 2011. The very establishment of them demonstrates how seriously our district takes student mental health and wellbeing. In addition, through our Wellness Center, we try to build a sense of connectedness and community, offer individual counseling support, and give students tools to manage their stress to prevent crises in the first place,” Nishimi said.

It is important to note the Suicide Crisis Line (988), the National Sexual Assault Hotline ((800)-656-HOPE), and the Contra Costa Crisis Center ((800)-833-2900 or text ‘HOPE’ to 20121) are available to students at any time. Students can refer anyone they are concerned about to the Wellness Center by completing the form on their website or contacting the student’s Wellness Center directly via email ( Students in need of immediate assistance can visit the Wellness Center in person to request services. “There is not a one-size-fits-all model for what students need to support their overall wellbeing and I'd like to think we have a wide variety of resources to support most students,” Nishimi said.

Students Entertain in Spring Musical, “Grease”


Students in Musical Theater Workshop, Drama, Choir, and Stagecraft, along with other members of the cast, presented this year’s spring musical, “Grease.”

“Grease” follows new student Sandy Dumbrowski, who joins the girl group the Pink Ladies, and head greaser Danny Zuko as they fall in love, navigate the social scene at Rydell High School, and deal with the complexities of peer pressure and personal values. Set in the 1950s, the musical features the classic rock ‘n roll music of that era.

“We chose 'Grease' for a variety of reasons. We wanted something that both the students and the audiences would be excited about. All of the directors agree that finding a show with an ensemble cast, like 'Grease', is beneficial. It provides a lot of opportunities for several students to have lines, songs, and moments on stage, as opposed to just a few leads,” Musical Theater Workshop teacher and vocal director of “Grease Meredith Hawkins said.

In addition, “Grease’s” iconic music and film adaptation might attract more interest in musical theater. “This year we’re really trying to promote musical theater as a class and a production to try to get more students involved,” Heather Cousins, Musical Theater Workshop co-teacher and Drama and Stagecraft teacher said. “In order to do that, we needed to pick a show that had that kind of appeal.”

The “Grease” cast consists of more than 50 students. This year, auditions also opened up to the whole school. “Since we have opened up the musical to any student at Miramonte, we have students from all of those classes

and more that are participating. Everyone is very supportive and focused on having the best show possible,” Hawkins said.

Collaboration between members of the cast was integral to the production. “Although the majority of the cast doesn't take the musical theater class, those of us who take the class review our dances and scenes during class to help us better prepare for our shows,” senior Sabrina Hernandez, who played Rizzo, the leader of Pink Ladies, said. “During after-school rehearsals, the entire cast works closely together by reviewing all of our material. We also do a lot of cast bonding activities. Having good chemistry between actors is very important, and we've all built friendships

with each other to achieve that.”

Students promoted the musical through flyers across the school and on social media. On TikTok, the Miramonte musical account gained over 682k likes and 3.4M views on their first video.

“Going viral on Tiktok was something none of us expected. Sabrina and I made the video thinking it'd get maybe a couple hundred likes since we'd both seen videos like this tons of times before.

But it seems that people liked us, and it went viral. It's great! We got a lot of publicity from it, which we needed,” junior Lauren Wagner, who plays Sandy, said. Efforts to spread the word paid off. All “Grease shows on March 17, 18, 25, and 26 sold out.

By making TikToks, having after-rehearsal dinners, and holding a cooking competition between “Grease” couples, members of the production created a supportive community and new friendships.

“It's amazing to do an activity that I love, surrounded by the people I love,” Hernandez said.

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MENA Hosts District-Wide Nowruz Festival

Supported by the Miramonte Middle Eastern Student Association, the Las Lomas Middle Eastern and North African Student Association celebrate Persian New Year traditions with music and dance


Students learned about Persian culture in a districtwide Nowruz celebration at Las Lomas.

Also called the Persian New Year, Nowruz marks the beginning of spring The holiday has its origins in the Persian religion of Zoroastrianism Today, Nowruz is celebrated in the regions and diaspora of West Asia, Central Asia, South Asia, the Caucasus, and the Balkans.

“The Nowruz festival was a wonderful opportunity to come together with students at Las Lomas and celebrate the Persian New Year Students don’t often learn or hear about Nowruz,so it was wonderful to celebrate the holiday and talk with others over food and music,” junior Selma Ahmed said.

The Las Lomas Middle Eastern and North African student association hosted the Nowruz party Friday, March 17 in collaboration with the Miramonte Middle Eastern student association.

“As I noticed that many of the new students who joined our school district this year were recent immigrants and refugees from Iran, Afghanistan, the Caucasus, and other regions that celebrate Nowruz, I felt that it was important to create a welcoming and inclusive environment for them in our school district,” Las Lomas junior Arvin Savadkouhi said. “As the president of the Las Lomas Middle Eastern and North African club, I wanted to collaborate with Mira-

monte’s Middle Eastern student association to provide a space where they could celebrate their traditions with their peers and families and feel a sense of belonging in their new place.”

The Nowruz festival included Persian music, dancing,

The party also incorporated a traditional Haft-Seen (in English, “seven-S”) table display of seven items that begin with an “S” sound in the Persian language — vinegar (in Persian, “serke”), apples (“seeb”), garlic (“seer”), sumac (“somagh”), Persian olives (“senjed”), wheat pudding (“samanu”), and sprouts grown in a dish (“sabze”).

“The day of the event, the Las Lomas Middle Eastern and North African club advisor and I set up the room, including the Haft-Seen display, and outdoor tables; put up signs with arrows pointing to the event location; and drew a chalk path from the main entrance of Las Lomas to the event location,” Savadkouchi said.

U ltimately, the Nowruz festival taught attendees about Persian culture and the significance of the arrival of Spring to many cultures around the world.

and food, such as Ash-e Reshte, a traditional Nowruz soup.

“The Las Lomas MENA club worked diligently together to make this event possible,” Savadkouchi said. “And, we are so grateful for Miramonte’s support — we had so much fun celebrating Nowruz and planning with them! I really enjoyed meeting other people in the school district and getting to know them,” Savadkouchi said.

“I hope festivals like this one can connect the Southwest Asian and North African student population within the district, while also educating others about the beauty and richness of all different Southwest Asian and North African cultures and traditions. In future years, I would love to see even more students come to these kinds of events because it’s so important that all cultural celebrations are brought to the spotlight and supported by the district community,” senior Nilab Ahmed said.

Miramonte Receives Six Year Accreditation


For the last two years, students, staff, and parents prepared for the three-day visit by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). WASC is a school accrediting program that began in 1962. WASC now accredits over 5,500 public, independent, church-related, and proprietary preK–12 and adult schools globally.

The long process and preparation for WASC began in August 2021. To prepare for a WASC visit, a school must prepare a report detailing the improvements of the school from the last WASC visit, goals for the school’s progression, and an overview of the school itself. At the end of the process, WASC writes a report about the school based on its goals and the action it was taking to achieve them. In this report, schools receive a number between one and six. The number correlates to the number of years before the next WASC visit. Receiving a six means that a school is WASC accredited and doesn’t need a WASC visit for six years. The last WASC visit to Miramonte was six years ago.

“The overall goal is to look at schools together. We know how hard it is to have a high-quality school. We’re really here to build each other up and find ways to support each other. Our evaluation is really to celebrate all the good things that the students, staff, teachers, counselors, and families are doing to make the school the best place for their kid,” WASC committee member Floridia Chung said. Chung, a principal herself, works along with three other WASC committee members. Of the four that visited Miramonte from February 27th through March

1st, three are principals, and one is an English teacher, all at different high schools. When a school becomes WASC accredited, part of the obligation is to send out a member of the school to serve on a WASC committee at another school.

tifying goals and needs, or our strengths and weaknesses,” Williams said. To help with this process, a handful of students were appointed to focus groups. Students in these groups collaborate with teachers to help write the report.

“Each student is put into a section. In these groups, we work with other students and teachers to evaluate our section topic, and reflect on it in the report for WASC,” sophomore and WASC student focus group member for school culture Naisha Khali said. Khali worked with two other students to write about school culture. Students selected for WASC’s work involves further breaking down each section and finding evidence to support if each section is successful at our school. The five sections of focus are assessment and accountability, learning and teaching, curriculum, school culture, and organization.

“Some of the things that have actually come out of previous WASC visits are the bell schedule and the addition of academy. Preparing for WASC is a time for us to self-reflect as a school,” Brady said. The WASC visits are not only a chance for Miramonte to get recognized and evaluated by an outside program but also to take some time to self-reflect and set goals for the community and school.

Librarian Susan Williams and College and Career Center Director Stephanie Brady undertook the position of WASC Co-Coordinators for Miramonte’s visit. Their role was to put together a report for WASC.

“The purpose of WASC is to set a roadmap for where we want to go as a school and as a community. We’re looking at what we’ve done, where we’re going, and then iden-

“We’re having a wonderful time getting to know your school. It’s one of the highest achieving, not only academic wise but the amount of programs and mental health support that your school and community provides is amazing. The collaboration between the staff, the students, and the families have just really been notable,” Chung said. Miramonte received the six year accreditation, the highest the school could receive.

Mirador 2 NEWS 03/27/23
Photo: Grace Liu Photo: Leila Maboudian Las Lomas and Miramonte students gather by the traditional Nowruz Haft-Seen table to celebrate the Spring Equinox.

Miramonte Must Preserve Its Music Program


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Music education at Miramonte is dying. In the last four years, enrollment in the music program dropped by almost 60%, from 218 to 93. Miramonte—its student body and administration—must recognize the importance of performing arts and music education and encourage the development of such programs.

Some students avoid taking a music-based class because they think that they can’t sing or play an instrument. “Everyone can sing. Usually, people who say ‘I can't sing’ were told by somebody when they were younger that they can't, and that person was wrong. All you need to sing are lungs, vocal folds, and a mouth,” choir and musical theater teacher Meredith Hawkins said. In addition to perceived ability, academics also prevent many from pursuing music courses at school.

Music in schools is often overlooked because it is not considered a useful or academic subject. Many students opt to fill their elective slots with more rigorous classes that can boost their GPA. In the past 20 years, the national enrollment in the AP program more than doubled to 2.7 million AP students, according to College Board. College Board claims that AP courses allow high schoolers to earn college credit and stand out to colleges. Although joining the flock of AP course enrollees may seem like the smart academic choice, students must prioritize taking music classes because of the other important benefits they offer.

For one, music has stress and anxiety-relieving powers and even functions as a form of therapy. According to a study published by the National Library of Medicine (NLM), listening to music can help regulate heart rates blood pressure, and hormonal levels, and also relieve restlessness, anxiety, and nervousness.

“What I love about performing [music] is the absolute concentration it requires. When I am performing, every thought that zips through my head goes quiet. I can solely concentrate on the music I am trying to produce,” senior and guitar player Jack Hughes said.

A different study published by the NLM reports that both singing and listening to music increase oxytocin, a feel-good hormone that encourages positive emotions and healthy prosocial behaviors. These behaviors rarely develop through other classes.

“Being in musicals is something that's really saved me. I'd say that at least half of my joy and confidence comes from theater. For me, theater is one of the most rewarding experiences,” junior and Musical Theater Workshop student Lauren Wagner said.

By encouraging prosocial behavior, music courses can also encourage teamwork in unconventional ways. Taking a music class—whether choir, band, or musical theater—is like being a part of a sports team. Learning to harmonize, play in synchrony, or perform a high-energy musical dance routine requires a group effort. “For me, the best thing about music [in education] is the community and friends because there isn’t anything like it. Music has allowed me to become friends with a diverse set of people whom I may not have met otherwise,” sophomore and choir and Musical Theater Workshop student Louis Lunt said.

In addition to team work, music can pass on other important life skills to students. Junior Abigail Gardener found that musical theater taught her to never give up. “I’ve gone to audition, and never got the role I wanted until finally landing a leading role in Grease. I learned how to keep going because, even if it seems out of reach, eventually you will achieve your goal,” Gardner said.

The lessons, joy, and community music provide are powerful forces for students enrolled in music education programs. “Through the years, music has gotten me through many difficult times, and I truly believe music can help everyone. Music is more than just a hobby. Music is a community, a means to happiness, and a force greater than the individual. Music is a gift that can not be taken away,” Lunt said.

Miramonte must ensure this gift continues to thrive in classrooms. For students, the best way to contribute is to take a music class and experience the benefits of music in education first-hand. Others can support these classes by attending their concerts and shows. If declining enrollment numbers force the termination of Miramonte’s music program, students will miss out on a crucial aspect of education and development.

The Editorial Board voted 7 to 7 in support of putting effort into maintaining Miramonte's music education.

Mirador 03/27/23 OPINION 3 Go follow: @miramontemirador @mirador.sports

Tangled is the Best Disney Movie Out There

Pro/Con: Implementing Alternative Testing

With the district embracing the Grading for Equity principles, a debate between traditional and alternative testing arises. UC Berkeley Center for Teaching and Learning defines alternative testing as a “reasonable alternative to traditional tests to promote student learning and be more authentic means of students demonstrating what they have learned.”


As teachers reevaluate their methods of grading and testing, it is key to consider including alternatives to traditional multiple-choice (MCQ) and free-response (FRQ) assessments, such as presentations, formative group work, and student-led projects. Alternative testing methods provide numerous benefits, allowing students to explore different methods of learning that pertain to the unique requirements of their class.

Nontraditional testing encourages students to discover different avenues of learning that better suit their personal preference. For instance, those who struggle with multiple-choice testing may instead excel at visual learning; in this case, slideshow presentations are a perfect opportunity to display their knowledge. Free-response worksheets may pander to solo workers, but group projects allow social learners to brainstorm with others to generate their ideas. For students who prefer hands-on activities, alternative formative assessments could prompt them to design their own product or pitch, make and edit a cumulative video essay, or carry out performance tasks.

“For people who prefer auditory and visual methods, I think prioritizing colored illustrations on tests and allowing students to have questions read aloud to them could be helpful,” sophomore Amelie Lo said. “Other assessments, like multiple choice ‘pick which picture describes something best’ and tests where teachers have students recall vocabulary aloud would also be good alternatives.”

Alternative testing can also benefit classes that fare better using a variety of formative assessments, depending on their subject and rigor. Some classes, such as Ethnic Studies, already incorporate alternative testing into their formative curriculum. Students present


For well over 100 years, standardized exams have dominated the American educational system. Today, in the face of growing upheaval both in educational ideology and the changing demands of the workforce, many are calling for a modernization of the education system. As part of these reformation efforts, some challenge the norms of testing in favor of alternative methods such as projects and presentations. While other methods of assessment may be promising if applied in moderation, they fall short of their promise to fully promote equity in our educational system. In order to preserve equity, schools should not abandon traditional tests for alternative grading methods.

First of all, alternative methods of assessment like projects, though presented as more equitable, actually exacerbate fairness concerns. In testing a level of standardization exists whether via an essay rubric or a multiple-choice Scantron. With these same standards, complete equality exists in students’ exams as teachers grade students’ work off the same set of standards. Other evaluation methods lack any standard to preserve such fairness. Harvard’s Graduate School of Education reports significant levels of unconscious cognitive biases among teachers. Thus, more holistic methods of evaluation only open up the door for further discrimination, providing further obstacles to high achievement.

Google slideshows on the cultural impact of different media and pop culture elements for cumulative points.

“I enjoy doing group projects because it gives me chances to collaborate with different people,” sophomore Ava Moga said. “Also, it’s nice because if I ever need help I can usually just ask one of my group members.”

Other classes, such as Living Earth, combine various projects and modeling activities, such as constructing a sugar molecule, with traditional MCQs for the semester final.

Academically demanding courses such as AP English Language and Composition (AP Lang) require high levels of comprehension of complex writing material and structures. AP Lang teacher Linda Hora requires students to create a presentation for assessment points.

Finally, including different testing styles can help students develop other life skills like public speaking

“I feel that presentations and group work have really made me feel more confident,” Lo said. “Speaking and working together with others are really important skills, so when we are assigned these types of assignments, I am usually pretty happy.”

While some argue that MCQs and FRQs are the most practical and efficient way of measuring students’ comprehension, the wide spectrum of learning abilities along with the unique requirements of specific classes can hinder these traditional methods from showcasing a student’s true ability. Including alternate testing avenues is even more important considering the recent incorporation of Grading for Equity, in which formative assessments are weighed much more heavily. In order to accurately display student understanding of complex topics, classes need a diverse list of testing options that incorporate a variety of learning styles.

Many proponents of alternative testing argue that such an overhaul would increase educational equity by accommodating students with learning impairments. The problem is, such a shift would elevate certain students at the expense of others. Replacing tests with presentations would certainly benefit dyslexic students but would penalize another group, like students with speech impediments in an. Alternative tests promote a “one size fits all” approach like this one that falls short in its objective of leveling the playing field for all students.

Additionally, implementing project-based learning would be extremely difficult for teachers. They would need to spend significantly more time grading assessments, potentially cutting into time developing and teaching educational material.

Considering these facts, math teacher Taylor Mickle concludes, “Test based learning is beneficial for concepts that are learned best in a traditional classroom setting or through lecture based classes as they are generally more time efficient and easier to grade with less subjectivity than a project based assignment.”

Though abandoning tests may seem like the path to equity at first, only the opposite is true. In order to modernize our education system, change is obviously necessary. But a rigid proposal like this one is not the way to enact educational reforms.

Mirador 4 OPINION 3/27/2023
Photo: Casey Scheiner Photo: Ashley Dong

Admin Must Offer Biotech Class For Students


Imagine a class that provides students with the groundwork to create algae-powered cars, life-saving medicines and treatments, and genetically modified plants and animals. Biotechnology, a class now offered in the district, not only provides students with innovation experience, but also gives students an increasingly useful skillset for a rapidly growing industry. As people move past the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic throughout the world, it’s clear that the need for advancements in biotechnology continously grows. Despite the increasing significance of biotechnology in scientific, commercial, and industrial applications, Miramonte science classes barely touch on important concepts in biotech. Miramonte must join both Acalanes and Campolindo in offering a biotechnology course in order to give students the opportunity to experiment and innovate with genetic material.

As biotechnology rapidly develops, it becomes increasingly present in our daily lives. Innovations like new cancer treatments and genetically modified fruits demonstrate the shift from observing nature to actively editing or redesigning it. Thanks to new technology in decoding and editing genes, scientists can now redesign DNA and change how cells behave. Today, scientists around the world rely on these technological advancements to prevent global epidemics and create new technology for a wide range of purposes. “Biotech is the modern science and it’s going to affect everyone. [Scientists] have already come up with incredible cures for a lot of diseases and biotech is certainly the future,” biology teacher Manoa Koepp said. With the use of bio-

there should be a deeper focus on the topic in order to educate students on a relevant and fast-developing scientific field. Having a good understanding of biotech gives students the skills to solve many global issues.

Additionally, biodesign is becoming the forefront of many political and social debates due to complicated morality concerns. For example, wehn a Chinese researcher in 2018 edited the genes of twins to make them resistant to HIV, a debate was sparked on the rights scientists had in experimenting with human life. Similar debates between ethical and unethical uses of this technology occur more often with biotech’s fast-paced growth. These problems are important even to students who don’t plan to pursue a career in science. A biotech course would provide students with the knowledge needed to contribute to these ever-growing discussions.

“I think that biotechnology is a huge market that we’re just brushing the surface of with things like gene editing and what they call ‘designer babies.’ Studying these topics more in school would be really beneficial for students,” senior John Keene said Biotechnology is a developing field that will demand more workers in the coming years. For instance, CRISPR, a gene editing process and cornerstone of biotech, was just invented in 2000. The full potential for new invention in biotechnology is far from realized. Adding a biotechnology class would radically modernize Miramonte’s curriculum. The course could be one of the most innovative and experiment-intensive courses on campus that allows students to commentate on and creatively solve modern-day problems.

Furthermore, a biotechnlogy class would be especially useful for biology students who want to branch out into more specialized biology studies. “Biotechnology is like its own career path and subject. So students who are really interested in biology and maybe want to go further can study biotechnol-

It is imperative that students gain the opportunity to learn about biotechnology in order to continue to develop new technology and practice real-world problem solving skills. With the rapid growth of

biotechnology and the many concerns that come along with it, students will need to be educated on the topic in order to contribute their knowledge. Thus, it is crucial that Miramonte bolsters the science curriculum by offering a biotechnology class.

Mirador 03/27/23 OPINION 5

Local School Districts Confront Opioid Crisis


An overdose begins.

Zero minutes in—oxygen leaves the victim’s brain as they slip into unconsciousness. Four minutes in—the victim experiences permanent brain damage. Six minutes in—they are dead.

The average paramedic response time is seven minutes.

Every eight minutes in the United States, someone will overdose on painkiller opioids, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). In the last two years, overdoses among teenagers have tripled. The CDC reports fentanyl as the primary culprit.

Fentanyl is a manufactured painkiller opioid and is considered one of the deadliest drugs in the world (it can be 40 times stronger than heroin). Bay Area News Group reported 20% of 2021 Californian youth deaths were fentanyl-induced. The following year, Governor Gavin Newsom reported California authorities seized enough fentanyl to kill around one billion people.

While traditionally injected with needles, large amounts of fentanyl are now commonly found in laced, marijuana and candy-like tablets. Days before Halloween in 2022, the United States Drug Enforcement Agency warned Americans about these candy-like “fentapills” that they claim cartels use to target children and young adults.

Acalanes Union High School District (AUHSD) is no stranger to fentanyl. In a Jan. 13 statement, superintendent John Nickerson stated that there had been three incidents in the prior 12 months involving students overdosing on fentanyl. In a recent district case, school staff administered naloxone, more commonly known as Narcan, prior to emergency responders’ arrival.

Narcan is a life-saving nasal spray that can reverse overdoses and save lives. The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) says anyone can purchase and administer Narcan by inserting the nozzle into the victim’s nostril and pressing the red plunger. Since 2017, the district has required high school sites to stock two Narcan doses in the event of an opioid emergency. This year, Miramonte placed an order for additional Narcan to put in every AED pack on campus. The move would ensure all areas of campus are within close proximity to Narcan.

Several other local schools recently announced plans to expand their Narcan stocks as well. The Orinda Union School District (OUSD) announced in January it held Narcan at Orinda Intermediate School and would expand its stock to all five city elementary schools.

“Orinda Union decided to have Narcan available at the elementary schools out of an abundance of caution after the media reported the fear of children mistaking fentanyl for candy. While we hope we never have to use it, it is a safety precaution we must take,” OUSD Director of Student Services Carrie Nerheim said.

At the beginning of the school year, Lafayette and Moraga school districts obtained Narcan supplies for their respective school sites from the CDPH. Superintendent of the Moraga School District Julie Parks added that her district “partnered with the Moraga Police Department to obtain additional doses of Narcan.”

In addition to increasing Narcan stocks, local districts seek to expand opioid and overdose training across their staff. At a Feb. 15 staff meeting, Miramonte nurse Karen Thornburg and Wellness Coordinator Andie Nishimi presented on drug-related crises at school.

“Staff learned how to spot the signs of students who may have experienced an opioid overdose and how to activate our emergency protocols so that the response team could administer Naloxone if needed,” Nishimi said. Administrators, nurses, and several other staff trained in the administration of Narcan make up the response team.

“Part of harm reduction on a systems level is resourcing and preparing staff to respond if a drug-related crisis occurs,” Nishimi said. While the Wellness Center finds it important to reduce the harm students experience with drug use, it does not support teen consumption of such substances.

Opioid awareness training extends beyond staff. Through the required Health and Social Development course, 10th graders learn about short-term and long-term effects associated with opioid use. Students receive further addiction education by learning about common brand names for opioids, methods for consumption, and ways to receive addiction help.

“Drugs can put students in dangerous situations and it is important they understand the risk, especially early in life,” junior Alex Battersby said.

State politicians seek to bolster local response to the opioid crisis. Proposed in 2022, California Assembly Bill 19 would mandate all school sites to carry at least two doses of Narcan. The bill is expected to pass with bipartisan support before the next school year. Several other state bills would require Narcan in entertainment and sporting venues and would mandate private health insurance to cover the cost of over-the-counter naloxone (including Narcan).

Recovery from addiction is possible. For help, call the free treatment referral line from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration at (800) 662-HELP

Signs of an opioid overdose:

- Pale face

- Unconsciousness

- Slow or stopped breathing

- Purple lips and fingernails

- Inability to speak, even when awake

Narcan facts:

- Anyone can buy Narcan over-the-counter

- Anyone can administer Narcan

- Narcan should be administered anytime an overdose is suspected. There is minimal harm to those not experiencing an overdose

- At Miramonte, Narcan is located in the nurse’s office and will soon be found in every AED pack

Girls Embrace Ambitions at Girls Crushing It


It all started with origami.

Girls Crushing It (GCI) is a nonprofit organization that teaches girls aged eight to 18 about entrepreneurship and grows their confidence in the process. GCI was inspired by founder and CEO Roxanne Christophe’s two daughters—along with their friends—who wanted to sell their origami creations at the local farmers market. Christophe saw the potential and reached out to the community to see if other girls would be interested in starting a business. Christophe received 50 responses from parents through a community Facebook group. She then hosted an “Entrepreneurship 101” workshop followed by the first-ever pop-up shop. GCI was officially founded in 2018.

The $90 program features multiple workshops covering topics such as developing products, calculating the cost, sourcing materials, and crafting “elevator pitches.” GCI has both beginner and advanced workshops. The program’s final step is the pop-up shop where all girls sell their products and show off their hard work.

According to The New York Times, “girls consistently outperform boys academically. And yet, men nonetheless hold a staggering 95 percent of the top positions in the largest public companies.” Christophe created GCI with the goal of breaking this pattern. “It’s imperative to equip girls with the confidence and knowledge to help them overcome systemic gender inequities,” Christophe said. On GCI’s website, 95 percent of alumnae reported increased confidence and 99 percent reported increased

business knowledge.

Sophomore Ava Dhaliwal sold trendy tote bags with original designs at GCI’s winter pop-up shop in December. “I learned how to appeal to buyers and how to manage money through the workshops provided. I also learned how to price items in order to make a profit,” Dhaliwal said.

In addition to being a part of the program, GCI provides opportunities for girls to take on leadership roles and help out behind the scenes. “After participating in GCI for a minimum of two years and demonstrating an interest in taking on increased leadership responsibilities and volunteer assignments within our organization, alumni may be invited to join our Teen Advisory Board.

Members of our Teen Advisory Board mentor our young entrepreneurs, serve as guest speakers and workshop facilitators, and help to plan and organize our events,” Christophe said.

Senior Stella Symonds was one of the first girls to go through the program in 2018. In 2021, Symonds also became one of the first girls on the Teen Advisory board. “I love helping younger girls learn how to become more independent and grow their confidence, just like I did through the program when I was younger,” Symonds said.

Freshman Elise Vansant sold handmade cards and prints at GCI’s fall pop-up shop in September. “To anyone interested in this program, there is a lot of self-discipline and time that goes into the production process, but the end result is often not only fun but turns a profit as well. It’s a great way to meet people and boost a startup business or get commissions, and you gain perspective on the challenges of advertising and the needs of customers. For anyone looking for a good mark on an application or simply to have fun, this program is an excellent spring to launch that goal,” Vansant said.

6 FEATURE 03/27/23
Photo: Tom Wolf, Flickr Photo: Roxanne Christophe Photo: Girls Crushing It website

Writer’s Mag Club Creates Annual Magazine


After months of hard work and countless meetings filled with brainstorming, writing, and designing, the Writer’s Mag club is almost ready to distribute its annual magazine. Completely student-led and produced, the magazine is filled with submissions from the entire student body and is a product of the artistic and dedicated club members.

Writer’s Mag was founded in 2019 by 2021 graduate Chaya Tong, who passed on the presidency to 2022 graduate Megan Kennedy. In 2021, sophomore Emma Wong merged her club, the Competitive Writing Club, with Writer’s Mag under Kennedy’s leadership. After Kennedy’s graduation, she passed on the presidency to Wong, who resides as the president today.

“In a time where academics can overwhelm a busy student’s schedule, Writer’s Mag celebrates and embraces the arts, providing a calming space where writing, art, and photography flourish with the work of our talented members,” Wong said.

In the first semester, the club met biweekly to chat and work on different writing prompts. Students followed different prompts—a favorite is the six-word story—and spent most of the lunch period writing. At the end of the meeting, many of the Writer’s Mag officers share their work, and the floor is then opened to anyone else who would like to share.

Since students openly share their work, a top priority of the Writer’s Mag chairs is maintaining a safe space for its members. “I love being surrounded by creative people and their energy. It gives me so much happiness to create a

space for others to use as their creative outlets,” sophomore and Writer’s Mag Vice President Aya Minn said.

In the second semester, the club focuses on producing its annual magazine. While many club members submit

artwork and writing pieces for publication, submissions are open to the entire student body. Many club members submit pieces they worked on during Writer’s Mag meetings, in addition to the pieces they created on their own.

“I decided to submit a poem I wrote because I thought it would be a fun and creative way for me to work on my writing skills and to show them off,” freshman Roxie Tarantino said.

Once submissions close in mid-February, the club shifts

to the next phase, designing the magazine in Adobe InDesign. The officers first decide on the magazine’s layout by organizing their received submissions, usually pairing one photo and one story or poem on each page, in a logical order. Then, each member works on their assigned page using InDesign, a design platform, to format the photos and writing in the layout. By the end of March, all the pages are completed, and the PDFs are compiled into the magazine and sent off to print. Usually, Writer’s Mag prints around 400 copies of their 36-page magazine, which costs around $2,500. To raise money, the magazine contacts and receives donations from its donors, including the Lamorinda Arts Council, Orinda Community Foundation, Friends of the Orinda Library, and a few anonymous donors. By April, the magazines are delivered and distributed to the student body. Because there is not much creative writing within the academic curriculum, Writer’s Mag serves as an important creative space for many. “Sometimes expressing yourself through speaking is difficult, but creating artwork and writing is a comfortable way of organizing and expressing your thoughts and feelings,” sophomore and Writer’s Mag Vice President Olivia Shin said.

The Writer’s Mag looks forward to the magazines, which will be distributed during lunch sometime in April. “Our distributed magazines are a token of Miramonte students’ continuing love for the arts — we hope our readers find a piece of this love in each page,” Wong said.

“The Sky’s the Limit”: The Story of Caspers


Years ago, junior Julian Rustigian would follow his father excitedly around the restaurant, eager to learn the fundamentals of restaurant management. He would beam proudly at customers as he passed out drinks, his head barely peeking above the diner tables.

Today, he navigates Caspers Hot Dogs with familiarity and ease, as it has become his second home.

For many Miramonte students, Caspers Hot Dog chain is a casual dining spot. Others remember it fondly from childhood parties. For Julian, Caspers is a family treasure and a means of connecting with past generations of Armenian entrepreneurs.

“I can still remember going to work with my dad and watching him supervise. I spent a lot of time at the restaurant, sometimes going there with family for lunch. Those are some of my earliest memories,” Julian said.

Julian’s father, Paul Rustigian, manages the restaurant business. His family is one of two that co-own Caspers. He and his business partner, who represents the other family, are Caspers’s two general managers. “His grandfather and grandmother and my grandfather and grandmother started this business,” Paul said.

In 1934, two Armenian immigrant couples founded Caspers, hoping to start a new life after the devastation of the Armenian genocide. “It really is the classic immigrant story — people flee a dangerous, deadly situation to start over. And, the sky’s the limit,” Paul said.

Largely due to its relaxed environment and consistent food quality, Caspers found success in its early days as a Bay Area business. Now, Paul and his business partner are hard at work to maintain Caspers’s reputation in the East Bay. Their tight-knit relationship facilitates the co-management process. “We’re very close. We go back generations and really back to Armenia,” Paul added.

Between the two of them, they visit every Caspers location daily — one visits four locations and the other visits the remaining three — to guarantee that the business runs steadily.

“I’ve learned a lot from watching my dad manage Caspers — running a business is extremely complicated, and that good things can come out of that,” Julian said. “I’ve learned that good entrepreneurship produces good results, and I’ve come to see that working cooperatively with others in your business can only make it better.”

Still, Paul acknowledges that working together with

a business partner can be tricky. “Sometimes we have disagreements,” Paul said, “but we always come back together because we have a common cause: running a successful business.”

Together with his partner, Paul works to expand and diversify Caspers’s offerings. “When the business started, it was so simple. We’re talking about just hot dogs, and the toppings were just mustard, relish, tomatoes, and onions. Over the years, we’ve started adding things, like

sauerkraut, cheese, chili,” Paul said.

As digital platforms become increasingly crucial for businesses Caspers had to expand its online presence. “We’ve really had to keep up with what it takes to remain relevant. That means there’s a lot more for us to do in terms of managing all the different facets and platforms of the business,” Paul said.

Above all, Paul takes great pride in Caspers’s consistently high-quality food and casual ambiance. “I’ll hear people who are around my age or older saying that they used to come as kids. It’s really nice to see that people not only come back, but keep coming back,” Paul said. “I really like to give people the same experience. I think that’s part of the charm of Caspers.”

Recently, Paul confronted new challenges. “It was very difficult to keep the doors open through the pandemic, we’re still dealing with the after-effects,” Paul said. The pandemic and supply chain issues left Caspers with enduring challenges, such as finding dependable vendors for dry goods like napkins. “We’re still in the middle of finding vendors. That sometimes mean more leg work for us,” Paul said.

As part of the solution to the obstacles the pandemic created, Paul took advantage of DoorDash to create a convenient delivery option for the business, which encouraged more people to purchase from the restaurant. “That was one way to address our problems, and I won’t go as far as saying it saved our business, but it may have saved one or two locations,” Rustigian said.

Looking to the future, the Rustigian family hopes that their hard work will enable Caspers to thrive, despite the pressures it faces. The Rustigians wish for the small business to flourish for generations to come. “I want to see Caspers stay consistent one hundred years from now, still serving the same classic hot dogs with that same snap,” Julian said. “That’s my vision.”

Photo: Emma Wong
03/27/23 FEATURE 7
Vice President Olivia Shin works on the cover page using Adobe InDesign. The cover features a digital art piece called “Entangled,” created and submitted by junior Sarah Yang. Photo: Julian Rustigian

Discovering Idioms Beyond the English Language


Colloquialisms, or informal sayings, may be commonplace to native speakers of a language, but to non-native speakers can seem anything from humorous to insightful.

“In Dari, ‘dast e shuma dard nakunad’ means ‘may your hands not hurt,’” junior Selma Ahmed said. “It’s a way of thanking someone for doing something for you.”

“In French, you might say ‘j’ai du dents,’ which directly translates to ‘I have teeth’ but idiomatically means to be hungry,” junior Antong Cao said. j’ai du dents

“In Hindi, ‘din raat et karanaa’ is literally ‘to make night and day into one,’” junior Sana Anand said. “It just means to work really hard.”

“An Indonesian expression that my family says is ‘malu malu kucing,’ which roughly translates to ‘cat shy,’” senior Maya Martono said. “It’s basically a term for people who want to do something or want something, but are too polite or shy to do it or ask for it.” malu malu kucing


Beyond their immense wisdom, idioms can often be humorous.

“In French, I’ve heard people say ‘sauter du coq à l’âne,’ which translates to ‘to jump from a rooster to a donkey,’ as a way of describing a rapid change in conversation topic,” junior Maple Davis said.

sauter du coq à l’âne

“In Bengali, the phrase ‘khanna kharab’ is used to communicate ‘what a waste,’” senior Nilab Ahmed said. “But, it literally means ‘the food is bad.’”

“In Spanish, the saying ‘el muerto y el invitado, a los tres días apestan’ translates to ‘the dead and the guest stink after three days,’” sophomore Gemma Kim Fernandez said. “In other words, the guest should not overstay their welcome because, similarly to the dead, they start to stink after a while.”

el muerto y el invitado, a los tres días apestan


Across the globe, short phrases called adages are utilized to communicate wisdom and general truths.

“In Telugu, people say ‘thana kopame thana shahtruvu,’ which means ‘your anger is your enemy,’” freshman Trisha Prabandham said.

“In Japanese, ‘hana yori dango’ means ‘dumplings over flowers’ or, in other words, substance over looks,” junior Kokomi Banerjee said.

“The Mandarin expression ‘mángrén-mōxiàng’ means ‘blind men touching an elephant.’ The story behind it is that each mistakes the part he touches for the whole animal, so none of them actually understands what it is,” junior Nicole Hui said. “It warns against drawing conclusions from incomplete information.”

The parable of the blind men touching the elephant, commonly referred to in panAsian cultures, is known to originate in India, with its earliest versions in Buddhist, Hindu, and Jain texts.


Many expressions intend to supply the listener with valuable advice or input.

“In Hebrew, we say ‘parah parah,’ or ‘cow cow.’ It means to take things slowly, or one step at a time,“ junior Rona Sorokin said.

“In Spanish, you can say ‘en guerra avisada, no muere soldado,’” senior Tantzie Zamani said. “Literally translated, it means ‘if you’ve been told the war is coming, no soldier will die.’ But, the implication is, if you prepare, you will not fail.” en guerra avisada, no muere soldado

“In Arabic, ‘ilee bi shoufak bi aiyn, shoofo bi aiyntayn’ translates to ‘if someone sees you with one eye, see them with two eyes,’” sophomore Roxanna El Khoury Hanna said. “It means, if someone does good to you, do twice as good back to them.”

“An expression in Thai is ‘gan dee gwàa gâe,’” sophomore Lauren Angsupanich said. “It means that preventing something bad is better than fixing it. As in, it’s better to stop something from happening in the first place than trying to resolve the problem afterward.”

Girl Scout Cookie Season Finally Commences


It’s that time of year again! Little girls set up tables on popular sidewalks and various stores with colorful boxes on display, holding signs with smiles on their faces to sell their products, which are sugary temptations. Through the effortless exchange of five or six dollars, one’s taste buds are taken to a whole new planet in a swift bite of a cookie. It’s time for Girl Scout cookie season to commence!

From the classic Thin Mint cookie to the rich and powerful Tagalong cookie, Girl Scout treats never fail to satisfy a sweet tooth. The Girl Scouts of the USA organization focuses on empowering young girls by teaching them valuable leadership skills. The Girl Scouts program follows five basic skills: goal setting, money management, business ethics, people skills, and decision-making. Through these essential skills, girl scouts learn to assert leadership in daily practice. Part of their mission involves selling boxes of cookies in local communities. On Feb. 27, northern California looks forward to spreading cheery pride by selling boxes of pure sugary delight.

The first ever sale of Girl Scout cookies took place in 1917. Teenage Girl Scouts of the Mistletoe Troop in Muskogee, Oklahoma sold homemade cookies in their high school cafeteria as part of their goal to raise money for a service project. The selling then evolved over time, and there are currently 2.6 million youth and adult members who are part of Girl Scouts of the USA.

The Girl Scouts program is very popular within the Lamorinda community. “When I was much younger I was definitely involved in the actual selling part of girl scout cookies, but after 5th grade Girl Scouts has turned into all volunteer and community service work, which is what I do now for the troop,” sophomore Ava Moga said.

The 2023 cookie lineup consists of 13 cookies, including a new flavor and a glutenfree option. Composed of a raspberry-infused flakey cookie and dipped in chocolate, the new flavor Raspberry Rally looks to compete with some of the Girl Scouts’ superior flavors. Additionally, the gluten-free Toffee-tastic is packed with flavors of buttery toffee delight. “I am super excited to try the new cookie, Toffee-tastic. Ever since I went gluten-free, I have not been able to eat any girl scout cookies, so I look forward to trying the new flavor,” junior Callie Barber said.

Through community service and cookie selling, the Girl Scouts organization promotes values such as honesty, fairness, and respect, empowering girls to be strong and independent. One box at a time, Girl Scouts serve their community through philanthropy by distributing tasty treats to all.

Mirador 8 FEATURE 03/27/23
Members of Girl Scout Troop 30220 hold up their posters as they sell various cookies in front of Theater Square.
In honor of World Languages Month, March, the following is a compilation of expressions and idioms in a variety of global languages. Read on to see some student favorite non-English idioms
Photo: Janie Hollerbach

Musicians Showcase Talents and Teamwork

As they perform and tour, five student classical musicians of Young People’s Symphony Orchestra (YPSO) display their exceptional abilities and collaborative spirit across the Bay Area and the world


In preparation for their upcoming performance, the young classical musicians of YPSO practiced Monday through Friday for hours on end. During evening practices, the harmonious sounds of string, woodwind, brass, and percussion instruments filled the hall. As the sun set on Feb. 25, the doors of the First Congregational Church of Berkeley opened to an audience overflowing from the front row to the balcony. For the finale, the orchestra played “Romeo and Juliet” — a piece by Sergei Prokofiev telling the tragic story from Shakespeare’s play — prompting a standing ovation, the throwing of flowers, and many joyful tears.

YPSO provides a space where young driven musicians can support each other and showcase their talents to the world.

Founded in 1936, it is the oldest youth orchestra in California and the first independent youth orchestra in the nation. Its students hail from across the San Francisco Bay Area and are some of the nation’s most talented musicians. Among its 98 members, five are from Miramonte: junior Nicole Guo, a violinist; junior Olivia Lee, a violinist; junior Connor Rudolph, a trombonist; junior Albert Wang, a cellist; and senior Linus Buchholz, a trumpeter. “YPSO was a big step-up from what I was playing before. YPSO’s repertoire is probably the hardest trumpet material you could play,” Buchholz said.

For these accomplished musicians, practice can be demanding, but the satisfaction they gain from performing is unparalleled. “The days leading up to the performance are incredibly busy — there’s dress rehearsal and more rehearsal. Afterward, you feel exhausted but really happy inside,” Guo said. While the orchestra performs locally several times each year, they also embark on international tours during the summer. Guo finds tours to be especially taxing. “On the very day we arrived in Germany, we had to perform. Everyone was jetlagged. We all laugh about it now, but we were on the verge of falling over during the performance,” Guo recalled. However, their efforts were well-deserved. Amazed, Guo found that many Europeans purchased tickets to watch their performance. “We’re some random youth orchestra from across the globe but they loved our music!” Guo said. Wang added that his fellow musicians bring him confidence and excitement during performances. “During concerts, everyone is extremely focused

and concentrated on giving the best performance possible. It’s a team effort,” Wang said.

By traveling around Europe, the birthplace of classical music, the five musicians cultivated a deeper appreciation for the history of their craft. “Classical music has its own timbre and can transcend language,” Buchholz said.

“Classical music is more than just music. It’s history. They all died hundreds of years ago, but their music is still here today,” Guo added. Being part of YPSO not only helps these musicians

There were countless memorable moments from the tour: exploring the cities during our free time, performing at gorgeous concert halls, chatting during dinner, and talking on long bus rides,” Wang said. While they reminisce over their time spent in Europe, the YPSO musicians look with anticipation to their Japan tour scheduled for the summer of 2024. While pursuing their musical aspirations, these young musicians remain grounded and appreciative of their roots. Guo and Lee found inspiration in their sisters to take up the violin during their elementary school years. Rudolph started playing the trombone in fourth grade, while Buchholz began playing the trumpet in first grade. “When my dad was younger, he always wanted to play the violin but he couldn’t afford lessons. So, my parents always supported my passion for playing the violin,” Guo said. Similarly, Buchholz credits his family and peers for his success in music. “Wherever I perform, I’m representing my parents, my family, and my peers — people who have helped me play,” Buchholz said. For Wang, his unwavering dedication to the cello began when he was recruited by the school orchestra in fifth grade, shortly after he moved to the U.S. from China. “I took this opportunity and decided to continue to pursue music as a cellist. Since then, I have participated in a number of orchestras, including the Orinda Intermediate School string orchestra, the Berkeley Youth Orchestra, and YPSO,” Wang said.

The experience of playing with YPSO imparted valuable lessons on these musicians. “It’s important for individuals to find a group, regardless of what they are passionate about,” Guo said. Being a part of a team allowed them to contribute to the growth of others but also facilitated their own development. “There is always a supportive community that can help you achieve more than you can alone,” Guo said.

cultivate their skills but also provides them with a strong community. Through practicing and touring together, the musicians have ample opportunities to discuss common interests and create lasting memories. “As we toured around Leipzig, Prague, and Vienna last year, I forged new friendships with orchestra members from other sections.

Support the Young People’s Symphony Orchestra by attending their next concert at 7:30 p.m. on May 13, 2023 at First Church Berkeley.

For those interested in joining YPSO as a musician, auditions are currently open for some sections. To apply to play for YPSO, purchase a concert ticket, or make a financial contribution, visit

Photo: Nicole Guo
3/27/23 FEATURE 9
Photo: Olivia Lee

Introducing Next Year’s ASB Class Officers!

Elise Holzemer

All Student Body (ASB) Vice President Elise Holzemer looks forward to creating an environment on campus where all students feel belonging. She hopes to organize more events filled with school spirit to unite the school community. Since she started in Leadership freshman year, Holzemer understands an ASB officer’s responsibilities and is very excited to take on the role of Vice President for the 2023-2024 school year.

Victoria Chatter

Next year’s Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion officer, Tori Chatter, was elected this position to help represent people of color and encourage them to step up and use their voices. She has plans to bring awareness to topics such as discrimination and prejudice on and off campus. Chatter hopes to incorporate diversity and inclusion into Miramonte’s curriculum. She looks forward to hearing others’ perspectives and highlighting the diversity on campus.

ASB President Claire O’Connor has been a part of leadership for the past two years and is very excited to bring her experience and creative ideas to Miramonte next year. She hopes to revitalize spirit on campus and continue traditions such as big class competitions and more fun lunchtime activities. Not only is a spirited campus important to O’Connor, but she also hopes to expand mental health awareness and make the Miramonte campus feel like home to all students.

ASB treasurer Sienna

Keene was inspired by the previous class of 2022 treasurer Anna Crinks.

Crinks encouraged Keene to join the Leadership class, which is where she watched Crinks lead.

Keene plans to work with Leadership to add more school activities, meetings between different commissions, and organization within general plans. She is stoked that all of the ASB officers are women, as it has never happened before. However, she will continue to assure that she acquires a male perspective, guaranteeing that their voices are heard as well. Her favorite part about Miramonte is that a lot of students love to participate in activities, such as rallies.

Hadley Peterson

ASB Secretary Hadley Peterson plans to maintain the connected community that makes Miramonte such a special place. As Peterson is passionate about helping the school, she felt that being a part of ASB would be a good opportunity for her to organize exciting lunch time activities, enthusiastic rallies, and schoolwide dances.

English 4 WISE Provides a Unique Experience for Seniors


As juniors make post-high school plans amidst exams and extracurriculars, finding the time to slow down and reflect on future decisions can be challenging. An opportunity to explore passions or potential career paths in professional settings outside the classroom (and a possible remedy to senioritis), English 4 WISE grants graduating seniors with the transition to life after high school. Next year, the English elective will return for its 20th year at Miramonte.

English 4 WISE consists of one semester of English 4, focusing on world literature and non-fiction, and one semester of individualized learning with the WISE program. WISE, which stands for the Wise Individualized Senior Experience, is a nationwide program that enables high school seniors to design their own course of study. “Second semester, you only meet as a class about once a month, until final presentations at the end of the semester. Instead, you leave campus at lunch to pursue your topic through an internship, class, volunteering, apprenticeship, or other opportunity in your ‘third space,’” English teacher Elizabeth Aracic said.

Special Education teacher Pete Clauson brought the WISE program to Miramonte in 2002. Clauson himself participated in the WISE program at Woodlands High School in Greenburgh, New York, where the program originated in 1972. “The main reason I brought WISE to Miramonte is because it was a chance to reinvigorate the second semester for seniors,” Clauson said. The program might make the last semester of high school more appealing to seniors who already received their college acceptance letters. “I also thought it would be a really good transition to independent learning, since most people were heading off to college,” Clauson said.

Christine Pearson, who is a 2021 WISE alumna, interned at Bamboo Reef Scuba Diving Center in San Francisco as her third space. “WISE is an important class because it gets high schoolers prepared for work experience and life outside of education. Some students may not have had jobs before or had to commit to a place besides home and school, so a third space can give students a new sense of independence,” Pearson said.

But last year, for the first time since it was introduced, WISE was cut due to a lack of signups. “A lot of it has to do with COVID,” Clauson said. “For two years there was little

talk about the class; students sign up for what they know.”

Since COVID hit, WISE has had to adapt. In 2020, learning went remote and students stopped going to third spaces in person. The class of 2021 only went in-person if their third spaces were essential services. Then in 2022, students had the option to choose an in-person third space.

the opportunities given by WISE. I’m interested in culinary arts, and the school has previously had students intern at the restaurant Chez Panisse in Berkeley, which is something I’d love to do,” Schroeder said.

Elisabeth Berger, who graduated from Miramonte in 2010, is one such student who interned at Chez Panisse as her third space. For her, the experience in that class remains unforgettable. “Even after taking amazing classes through college at Brown and business school at Wharton, WISE is still one of the most impactful learning experiences I’ve ever had. In addition to gaining practical cooking knowledge, spending time in the Chez Panisse kitchen challenged me to learn how to contribute in a fast-paced environment, find answers in ambiguity, and take on unappealing and sometimes gross tasks — all skills which continue to help me push forward in the world of growing startups,” Berger said in a testimonial to WISE.

“One of the most interesting things about that is that we had a rule for 17 years that your third space needed to be ‘in person,’ even when students had great online opportunities. COVID changed that. One of the best things about WISE has been how much it has evolved and changed when circumstances needed it to,” Aracic said.

Because there is no WISE section this year, Aracic and juniors who are interested in taking the class next year advocate for its return. “As someone who was very interested in the WISE class, and had attended multiple information sessions about it, I worked with Ms. Aracic to promote the class. Since there aren’t any seniors who are taking WISE now, I helped spread the word about it pre-course registration,” junior Eva Schroeder said.

With English 4 WISE again on the course list, prospective WISE students look forward to the guidance through career exploration WISE offers. “There were a lot of options for next year’s English classes, but I was drawn in by

What makes WISE stand out from other courses is what students can take away and apply to their learning or career in the future. Nee-Sa Lossing, a 2009 graduate, interned at a community radio station called Pirate Cat Radio in San Francisco. She is now a director of MTV Music Content Strategy at Paramount. “I really attribute WISE with setting me on the path that has now been my career for the last decade,” Lossing said. “Before WISE, I had planned a totally different college major, but the program showed me that I could turn my biggest interest into a real job. From WISE, I went on to become involved in various student groups and internships throughout college that exposed me to more of the mainstream music and entertainment industry, and landed me roles at major radio stations, online media outlets, and now my current role with MTV. Not to mention I made some of my closest friends at my third space, that I am still close with today!”

Each WISE experience is unique. Because the student experience centers around the individual, success in the class isn’t determined by academic ability, area of focus, or other things that define typical course choices. Miramonte WISE students aren’t just given the space to dip their toes in a professional career or to explore side passions, but also to cross things off their bucket lists, like obtaining their pilot’s license or learning how to do trapeze. “WISE changes people’s lives, and I’m so happy to be a part of that,” Aracic said.

Sienna Keene
Mirador 10 FEATURE 3/27/23
Photo: Janie Hollerbach Photo: Janie Hollerbach Photo: Nee-Sa Lossing Alumna Nee-Sa Lossing ‘09 interned at Pirate Cat Radio, a defunct station in San Francisco, for her third space. Photo: Victoria Chatter Photo: Janie Hollerbach Claire O’Connor Photo: Janie Hollerbach Photo: Janie Hollerbach

The Mirador Covers Spring Season Updates



The girls lacrosse team will continue their dominating performances into the 2023 season. One of the key strengths of this team is their balanced approach to the game. With a deep bench of talented players, they are able to rotate their lineup and keep their opponents on their toes. Whether it’s scoring goals or preventing them, every player on the team knows their role and is ready to contribute to the team’s success. Captains Taryn Pearce ‘23, Kate DiFranco ‘23, Siena Esopa ‘23, Lindsay French ‘23, and Ella Robinson ‘23 hope to lead this experienced roster to a league title and a deep North Coast Section (NCS) performance.

fense, the team is led by standout players Jake Disston ‘23 and attacker Jonah Acevedo ‘23. Disston will be a dominant force this season, using his speed and agility to create scoring opportunities for his teammates. Acevedo, on the other hand, is a skilled scorer who knows how to find the back of the net from any position on the field. With Jake Acevedo as the new head coach, the Mats look to continue their legacy and win another league title.

Sherwood ‘22, they still have many valuable competitors and hope to have a strong season ahead of them. This year’s squad has a strong line of swimmers and captains consisting of Petra Cherry ‘23, Ryan Kaelle ‘23, Luke Lewis ‘23, Paige Meyers ‘23, Justin Cole ‘23, and Zoe Petty ‘23. Other valuable swimmers include Logan Gunn ‘24 and Adelie Reiner ‘24. Underclassmen that demonstrate outstanding performances include: Patrick Stice ‘25, Marta Maninetti ‘25, Alison Sagara ‘25, Griffin Tunney ‘25, Ally Larsen ‘25, and Beatrice Hearey ‘25. Many are excited for this year’s season. “We’ve got top swimmers in every event and we are looking super fast this year. We have got lots of young talent and we are hoping to get as many swimmers as we can into NCS,” Kaelle said.



The boys tennis team is led by a group of talented and dedicated coaches who work hard to develop a winning culture and a strong sense of team spirit. The coaches emphasize the importance of hard work, discipline, and dedication. They also work closely with each player to help them develop their skills and reach their full potential. This dedication to excellence helps create a culture of success that permeates every aspect of the team’s operations. “I feel like our team is really close this year. We always tend to hang out with each other after practice whether it’s getting extra work in or going out for food,” captain Ryan Meyers ‘23 said.


The Mats baseball team is gearing up for an exciting season this year and they’re looking to come out on top. With a solid group of returning players and a few promising newcomers, they’re ready to take on their opponents and showcase their skills on the diamond. The Matadors have a strong roster this season, featuring several key players who are expected to make an impact on the field. Among them are pitcher Michael Bohm ‘23, who dominated on the mound during preseason games, and outfielder Cooper Bohlig ‘23, known for his quick speed and power. But it’s not just the veterans who are expected to contribute this year. The Matadors have a few poised players that can make a name for themselves this season, such as pitcher JD Pearce ‘24 who continues to impress the coaching staff with his natural talent and leadership skills.

With new head coach OC Schott in the mix, the varsity softball program maintains high hopes for this season as they hold a variety of valuable seniors and underclassmen to help lead the team to success. As the Mats lost their starting pitcher Ruby McCabe ‘22 and starting catcher Kendall Maurer ‘22 last year, seniors are stepping up, as prominent players catcher Isabel Roy ‘23 and pitcher Sarah Michels ‘23 fill in those starting spots. Other valuable players are Maya Paykel ‘23, Komal Aujla ‘25, and Antonia Lawrence ‘24. After beating Campolindo and many other difficult teams last year, they ended their season with a 3-12-1 record. “We are looking really good so far and I feel that we will be a highly competitive team in our league games. For the first time in many years Miramonte Softball has a good chance of going to NCS,” Roy said.


The boys lacrosse team continues to turn heads this season with their impressive performances on the field. With a talented roster of players and a dedicated coaching staff, this team has shown that they have what it takes to compete at the highest level. On of -


After holding top times at NCS and competing well in multiple DAL and JVI (Junior Varsity Invitational) meets, varsity swim and dive is coming off an impressive and successful season, and they hope to do the same again this year. Even after losing many valuable swimmers, including Grace Clark ‘22 and Colorado College Swim and Dive commit Dax


After a 3-2 league record last year, the track and field team is back with high hopes of a more competitive and successful season this year. The team holds a lot of talent in a variety of events, including captains Ricky Davis ‘23 competing in the 1600 and 3200 meter and Amanda Murray ‘23 in the 100 and 200 meter, as well as returning Diablo Athletic League (DAL) champions Jessica Youn ‘24 in girls pole vault, Asher Patel ‘24 in the 800 meter, and Tori Chatter ‘25 in the 200 meter. Even after losing many top competitors such as Kate Riley ‘22, Roan Kazmierowski ‘22, and James Guymon ‘22, the Mats look forward to a winning season. “We have a lot of fresh talent that looks very promising so we think that this season will be as good if not better than last season,” Davis said.

Mirador 3/27/23 SPORTS 11
Photo: Jake Disston Photo: Will Stokes Photo: Lindsay French Photo: Mark Bell Photo: Kelly Peyovich Photo: OC Schott Photo: Jake Disston Photo: Wyatt Johnson

Two New Coaches Take Over JV Baseball


As Miramonte’s baseball program aims to develop their enormous pool of talented underclassmen, Athletic Director and varsity baseball coach Sean Hennessy brought in two new coaches to lead the junior varsity (JV) team and restore their winning traditions.

Coaches Eric LeonGuerrero and Garrett Mos joined Miramonte’s baseball program this past February in hopes of revitalizing Miramonte’s JV baseball team. Both coaches are in the beginning phases of their coaching careers and hope to improve the program and their players to their highest potential starting this season.

“I joined the Miramonte baseball program to give back to my community and to help develop a great baseball program in the Bay Area. I think our team will do great this year. We have a lot of great talent, everyone is motivated to get out there this season and show them what Miramonte baseball is all about,” LeonGuerrero said.

Although last year’s JV squad was full of hitting and pitching prospects, the age and overall lack of experience didn’t allow the 2022 team to go very far, finishing 5-16 on the season and going winless in league matchups. This season seems to look much better, however, as both LeonGuerrero and Mos possess experience in the higher tiers of baseball and have already begun mentoring several players on the team.

“Both coaches bring a lot to our team. Coach Eric and Garrett both have experience playing baseball at a higher level and understand how to prepare us to reach

that level. In addition, as a pitcher, it is very helpful to have a pitching coach as well as a head coach because we have someone to go for mechanical fixes and arm care,” pitcher and infielder Casey Yung ‘25 said.

LeonGuerrero currently plays for the West Bay Reds in Mountain View within the San Jose National Adult

separate coaching from Mos.

“I have a passion for baseball that is very strong. Coaching and teaching is something I have always wanted to do. Most importantly, I have always wanted to coach youth to train their fundamental skills for the next level. I have been playing baseball since I was four years old. Played all four years in high school. After that, I continued to play at Sierra College in Rocklin as a left-handed pitcher,” Mos said.

Despite sophomores Preston Rguem, Kobe Wong, and David Leibowitz all playing on the varsity team this season, JV hopes to utilize the abundance of freshmen, due to the absence of a freshman team, to buttress their starting rotation and strengthen their batting core. The team’s roster already consists of 27 players, so while play time is limited, LeonGuerrero and Mos can use each player’s specialties to the team’s advantage in different situations. With the Matadors set to play Campolindo on March 7, the team hopes to kick off a successful season by beating their local rivals.

“Right now, it’s hard to tell how the season will go because we haven’t had much game time, but we have had some good flashes so hopefully we can be consistently good,” infielder Noah King ‘25 said.

Baseball Association (NABA) as an outfielder and catcher, giving him experience everywhere on the field except the pitcher’s mound. This makes LeonGuerrero an ideal head coach, as the roster is mostly composed of infielders and outfielders. Pitchers are able to receive

As both new coaches progressively integrate into the Miramonte community and get settled in their new roles, the JV baseball program hopes to redeem itself in this new year. With a fresh, new coaching staff leading the way and a player roster ready to prove itself, what could possibly hold back such a stampede?

Title IX Celebrates Its 50 Year Anniversary


It’s easy to forget anniversaries. Whether they commemorate one’s marriage or the adoption of a pet, annual celebrations beyond holidays are difficult by nature. But, there is value in reminding ourselves why these events are annually honored. Title IX proves no different.

Title IX celebrated its 50th anniversary this June, and The Mirador aims to highlight its unquestionable importance and consequences during this Women’s History Month. In 1971, a year before Title IX’s ratification, more than 3.6 million boys participated in a high school sport compared to nearly 300,000 girls, according to a statistic from the Women’s Sports Foundation. Now, 3.4 million girls participate in a sport, compared to 4.5 million boys. The numbers don’t lie. In five decades, just one bill helped to bridge the gender gap within athletics and catalyzed an unprecedented shift in centuriesold gender roles. Title IX, by clarifying that no one can be discriminated against or excluded from federally-funded activities on the basis of sex, made sports fair.

While the push for the inclusion of women in society is a movement centuries in the making, the inspiration for Title IX came in 1969 when Dr. Bernice Sandler was rejected for a job opportunity at the University of Maryland, even though she met all of the required qualifications. In her attempt to protest this, she

and Rep. Patsy Mink (D-HI) permanently transcribed equality into law. The amendment, born from workplace discrimination, was not originally intended to open fields and courts to girls and only passed as part

rolled in university, and colleges could set quotas or block women from attending. Women who were admitted needed higher test scores and grades compared to their male counterparts. Now, more women attend and graduate college than men. However, there remains room for improvement. Despite federally required Title IX coordinators at a college level, female athletes receive 86,000 fewer sports opportunities and 148 million less dollars in athletic scholarships. These numbers reflect a deeper, systemic prejudice within society, and we, as a collective, need to examine the biases and preconceptions that continue to limit women.

of a greater education-related package. The result was an accidental revolution for women’s sports and banned sex-based discrimination, especially in athletics, from federally funded institutions.

Beyond the workplace and the locker room, this middle-aged bill covers classrooms too. By both opening doors to auto shop and woodworking classes as well as college admissions, girls education would be forever elevated. Prior to 1972, only 43% of women were en -

NCAA and high school infrastructure never changed to match the pace of the rapid growth of women’s athletics, and as a result viewership, monetization, and consequently professional opportunities are all drastically diminished. Despite its successes, Title IX cannot be seen as evidence of equality accomplished. Institutional discrimination on the basis of gender and sex remains a persistent issue that requires constant action.

As Title IX grows another year older, we at The Mirador gratefully wish it the happiest of anniversaries, and I am reminded that just 50 years ago, my time at Miramonte would have looked incredibly different. This anniversary, upon first look, is yet another excuse for Google to artfully change its logo for a day, but Title IX deserves more than performative recognition and has earned the right to be celebrated.

Mirador 12 SPORTS 03/27/23
Photo: Garrett Mos Photo: John Kaelle

Spotlight: Miramonte Alumni Luke Sassano


Among Miramonte’s list of most successful alumni, few are more notable than Luke Sassano. From playing in his local soccer club, Lamorinda, to representing an array of professional soccer teams both on and off the field, Sassano exemplifies Miramonte’s history of athletic excellence.

Growing up in Orinda, Sassano quickly fell in love with soccer at the age of five through his parents’ encouragement. Although his parents weren’t heavily involved in soccer, they pushed Sassano and his siblings to learn a new sport and, over time, Sassano grew hooked to soccer and both on and off the field.

“I built up my love for soccer originally through my parents even though neither played. They encouraged me to go out and try the sport which, at first, I didn’t like. Then, once I got accustomed to it, starting at the age of five, I couldn’t put a ball down. I was playing in the house and watching games. Something that really inspired me was the 1994 World Cup. One of my favorite players was Roberto Baggio for Italy and that really inspired me to become a professional soccer player,” Sassano said.

Sassano later channeled his love for soccer by joining Lamorinda Soccer Club and progressively emerged as an outstanding midfielder for the club’s youth squad. Along with his childhood friend and teammate Pedro Osorio, Sassano began reaching the higher tiers of youth soccer and co-captained his Lamorinda team.

“Luke and I first met in middle school. We were teammates of our Lamorinda ‘85/’86 Team from around U13-U19. We became very close friends as we both spent a lot of time together playing soccer and basketball in our local neighborhood,” Osorio said.

When Sassano reached high school in 2000, he continued playing soccer by joining Miramonte’s boy’s varsity soccer team as a freshman athlete, arguably becoming the team’s best player by his junior year. Coached and mentored by Fabio Amazaga, Sassano led the entire North Coast Section in goals and helped his team win the 2003 NCS Championship that same year, already earning him a place in the Miramonte history books. With the help of his fellow seniors the next season, Sassano rallied the Matadors to a second NCS title in 2004 where he once again led the team in goals.

“Back then, high school was an important phase of the development pyramid. I remember an influencing coach I had, Fabio Amazaga, who was the varsity head coach from my sophomore to my senior year. Fabio was a coach that, as I was developing in terms of my adolescence and growing off the field, was a great mentor who was able to help build us in high school. We won three NCS Championships during my four years so we were definitely a team that had a lot of talent. Tyler Gage, Ryan Lucas, Pedro Osorio and my brother, Evan Sassano played alongside me on that team,” Sassano said.

Led by Sassano from 2002 to 2004, Miramonte’s golden soccer generation showcased a diverse array of talented players ranging from solid defenders like Tyler Gage and Derek Lesley to versatile attackers such as Ryan Lucas and Osorio. The class of 2004 claimed three NCS titles during their time at Miramonte and contributed to another championship title in 2006 led by their fellow underclassmen, including Evan Sassano, Luke’s younger brother.

“We then both attended Miramonte and were the only freshman picked on the varsity squad. We played at Miramonte together as teammates for four years (2000-2004) winning three NCS Championships together (freshman, junior and senior years) and also co-captained the teams in our junior and Senior season,” Osorio said.

After high school, Sassano continued his playing career at University of California, Berkeley (Cal) where he quickly established himself as a talented midfielder and defender, amassing a series of awards such as an All-

Due to injuries within the team’s defensive core, Sassano was inserted into the starting lineup as a rookie during the playoffs and played a major role in bringing the Red Bulls to the MLS Cup final in 2008. Unfortunately, for the next few years, a string of knee and ankle injuries consistently forced Sassano off the field, contributing to his decision to retire in 2012.

“I was on loan from Sporting KC to Carolina (Railhawks of NASL). Last year I had two knee surgeries, in addition to the two I already had, and an ankle surgery, I came to the realization (I had to move on),’’ Sassano told the New York Post in 2013. “You start to see the alignment of the stars. I had other interests I wanted to get involved with, and this seemed like the perfect venture, especially early in the onset.”

In the spring of 2013, Sassano was named Assistant Technical Director for the New York Cosmos under head coach Giovanni Savarese and helped the franchise re-establish the world-class prestige that it once held under Pele in the 1970s. Over time, Sassano came to master the skills of front-office sports management where he often formulated contracts with players, managed the club’s finances, and took care of the club’s brand in general. Under Sassano, the club would win the NASL on three separate occasions in 2013, 2015, and 2016. For the next five years, Sassano would develop into an experienced team executive and continue to hone his skills in sports management.

Sassano left his position as assistant technical director in New York in 2018 as he moved to Cincinnati to begin his new role as Cincinnati FC Technical Director. The club brought on Sassano to finalize their efforts to move into the MLS after spending their entire history in the USL. Sassano quickly emerged as a leader in the community and helped the club successfully implement itself into the MLS. Following the club’s transition to the MLS, Cincinnati FC and Sassano decided to mutually separate in 2019 to further develop the franchise.

“We want to thank Luke for all of his work to get our project off the ground,” then-General Manager Gerard Nijkamp said in a press release. “Luke has been a valuable asset to the club, and to me since my arrival. We want to wish him and his family all the best as he makes this difficult decision to step away from his role with FC Cincinnati. Luke has been a fantastic representative of this club and we very much appreciate his willingness to help stay with us through the upcoming transition.”

Pac-10 Honorable Mention in 2005, a Pac-10 All-Academic Honorable Mention in 2007, and a Pac-10 1st Team in 2007. Sassano helped bring Cal to four straight NCAA Division 1 Tournaments where they went as far as the quarterfinals in 2005. During his last two seasons with the Golden Bears, Sassano would play with USL Premier Development teams San Jose Frogs and San Francisco Seals during the offseason. Sassano also assumed collegiate captain responsibilities for the 2007 season.

Sassano made the jump to professional soccer in 2008 when the New York Red Bulls chose him, 32nd overall during the MLS SuperDraft. He would make his debut on May 5th of that same year against the Columbus Crew.

Sassano’s determination and enthusiastic behavior are arguably his best traits as a premier-level sports executive and he remains one of the soccer world’s most dedicated and resilient frontoffice leaders. As Lamorinda Soccer Club continues to fuel some of the Bay Area’s best talent, Sassano serves as a role model for all players who strive to have a career in soccer and beyond. Despite now living across the country, Sassano still remains present in the Matador community by serving as role model, showing young athletes that one cannot let injuries get the best of them. In 2019, the Matadors recognized Sassono’s contribution by inducting him into the Miramonte Athletic Hall of Fame.

Both on the field and off the field, Luke Sassano is a mentor and inspiration to his peers and other young athletes. Sassano continues to inspire, motivate and encorage positivity amongst everyone
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Photo: Evan Sassano Photo: West Point Public Affairs

The Mirador Book Review: “The Paper Palace”


Out of all of the novels we could’ve selected for the second book of The Mirador’s Book Club, “The Paper Palace” was certainly… one of them. Allured by our protagonist Elle Bishop’s conundrum regarding whether to stay with her kind, slightly dull husband Peter or run off with her childhood friend and passionate lover Jonas, we entered with the expectation of a fun excursion to Cape Cod with more juicy gossip than we could handle. Unfortunately, the book gave us TMI on everything from childhood anecdotes to the state of Elle’s bladder to a lot of triggerwarning worthy content, yet did little to resolve the central dilemma of the book. Nonetheless, we’re here to fulfill our duty to summarize “The Paper Palace,” solely so you don’t have to read it.

Team Jonas or Team Peter?

Casey: I’m a card-carrying member of Team Jonas. Nothing against Peter, who consistently shows himself to be a commendable person (though extremely British and with a personality drier than his country’s scones), but Elle and Jonas have the anatomy of a heartwarming story of true love: childhood best friends turned teenage darlings, only to suffer disaster and heartbreak that disrupted their “happily ever after.” The logistics that would go into them leaving their spouses and running off into the sunset together are admittedly nightmarish. But ultimately, their dazzling chemistry necessitates such a response.

Mika: Although he doesn’t possess the childhood bond with Elle that Jonas does, I’m solidly Team Peter. He’s a dedicated father, caring spouse, and even manages to get along with Elle’s dreadfully unpleasant mother, so what’s not to like? Many of Elle’s dissatisfactions with Peter are obviously contrived minor nitpicks – such as a multisentence long criticism of the way he cooks his eggs. Jonas may seem dreamy, but just because he and Elle have a deep connection doesn’t mean their relationship needs to be romantic. They could maintain their status as best friends, which is just as fulfilling as lovers. Peter and Elle are infatuated with each other, and disrupting their pleasant, domestic life for a man who’s already married will obviously end in disaster. Why go through the trouble of elopement because of slightly greasy eggs?

Who wins “Parent of the Year” from this cast of characters?

Casey: While I may not deem him the right fit for Elle, Peter is the clear choice for “Parent of the Year.” Unlike Jonas and Elle, he doesn’t imperil his kids’ childhood with a passionate affair. Unlike Elle’s parents, he doesn’t send his children into a bevy of dangerous situations. Peter doesn’t win the award so much as everyone else simply loses it, but in “The Paper Palace,” mediocre behavior is often enough to rack up accolades.

Mika: The most dedicated parent in the book has to be Elle’s former step-uncle, Frank, a greasy teenager who parents not a child, but a menacing snake. He lovingly cares for the snake and feeds it live baby mice – to the horror of Elle and her sister – which is more than any other parent does for their child in the book. Of all the parents in the book, I trusted Frank the most to protect and care for his child, albeit scaly and inhuman.

Who was your favorite side character?

Casey: 17-year-old Jack, Elle and Peter’s son, is a welcome respite from the downer that is much of “The Paper Palace.” A menace eager to cause trouble in Cape Cod and resist his parents’ influence, Jack embodies much of the humor associated with my generation of teenagers and provides a distraction from the book’s sadder themes.

Mika: Out of all the many forgettable side characters, my favorite has to be Dwight, Elle’s step-grandfather. He’s barely mentioned, of course, until his out-of-place death,

which is seemingly irrelevant to anything else in the plot. He’s my favorite because, for the life of me, I cannot understand why he was shoehorned in. Was it to foreshadow later occurrences? Perhaps an awkwardly slot LQBTQ+ representation into the book? Just because Heller felt like creating and killing a character for her own twisted purposes? Whatever the reason, it was far more fascinating than anything plot-related.

Which setting was most enchanting?

Casey: In a book full of vivid imagery, the pond in the Back Woods stood out as the most wonderful location of all. Playing host to events from the start of Jonas and Elle’s friendship to an extramarital affair between the two, the

Mika: Elle’s mother’s childhood home in Guadalupe is most enchanting: the lush gardens, serene village, and picturesque mountains stood out as a terribly out-of-place yet whimsical location. Heller’s editor must have forgotten to read the chapter on Guadalupe because I cannot imagine how it otherwise made it to press. The most foul location in the book has to be “The Paper Palace” itself. The numerous descriptions of rats in the ceiling, walls made of cheap cardboard, and rooms soaked with trauma made the “palace” seem more like a dungeon.

Comments? Concerns?

Casey: In addition to going into excessive detail on mundane anecdotes, “The Paper Palace” permanently marred a famous actress’s reputation for me. After seeing movie star Reese Witherspoon endorse the book, I’ll begin my next “Legally Blonde” re-watch disappointed in its star.

Mika: The real question is: what isn’t concerning about this book? From Elle’s vivid dissections of family trauma, peeing in the woods, and awkward family interactions, there wasn’t a chapter in the book that didn’t fill me with unease.

Any positives?

Casey: Amid a winter rainstorm and piles of homework, “The Paper Palace” was certainly a wonderful interruption in terms of setting, sending me on a voyage into the warm weather and juicy secrets of the Cape Cod elite.

Mika: I am incredibly grateful to “The Paper Palace” for educating me on the pure insanity of summer homeowners. Next time someone invites me to stay at their blissful cabin on a lake, I’ll be sure to run far, far away before my wife is stolen and my family is destroyed.

location is equal parts tranquil and magical. On the other hand, in dead last is Memphis, Tennessee, where Peter and Elle traveled to for a work assignment and romantic getaway, raising questions like “What does a financial journalist need to cover in Memphis?” and “Why was Memphis considered the epitome of a romantic destination?

“The Paper Palace” is not for the faint of heart; like the cabin itself, its cheery exterior hides the grimy secrets of the Bishop family. Do not be fooled by the serene waterfront cover of the novel, as there is very little relaxing in this book, which feels more like a polluted swamp than a calm pond. Even so, this book is perfect for the… eccentric people who are searching for a novel that balances steamy romance with disturbing childhood memories, if such an audience exists. It certainly wasn’t us.

Mirador 14 ENTERTAINMENT 3/27/23
Photo here Photo: Leila Maboudian Photo: Jonathan Su

Matadors Search for Local Job Opportunities


From Sharetea to Si Si Caffe, many Matadors fill their time outside of school working at popular venues in Lamorinda. Employment provides students with real-world experience, valuable connections, and a source of income; additionally, it demonstrates highly valuable responsibility and time management skills. Thus, as the end of the school year rapidly approaches, many students scramble to find jobs at local cafes and stores to bolster their extracurriculars and make their own money. The Mirador presents a variety of popular opportunities for employment (all of which initially pay minimum wage) to help students maneuver their searches.


Nestled comfortably across the theater in downtown Orinda, Sharetea serves various boba tea drinks. Opened by a Miramonte alum, Sharetea is a friend for Matadors looking for a potential job. “A lot of the workers are from Miramonte or Campolindo, and it’s cool working with people your own age and handling the business with other kids,” junior and Sharetea employee Matthew Bakonyvari said. “The best part is working for the community and having friends to work with. Working at Sharetea has taught me leadership and problem-solving skills and how to work well with others,” Bakonyvari said. Sharetea is a great option for students interested in an interactive introduction to the food industry.

Orinda Country Club

Orinda Country Club (OCC) embodies a variety

of different locations: it includes a golf course, swim and tennis facilities, a restaurant, a fitness center, and more. Therefore, there are many options for students hoping to work at OCC. In contrast to the food industry opportunities, OCC provides a slower-paced yet still interactive environment. “Being able to be around my club and do homework when I have free

da Way that allows customers to buy and sell highquality clothing. Students can get a taste of the increasingly popular second-hand clothing industry at ReCHIC and work in a hip, friendly environment. “The people that come into ReCHIC are the best part of the job. I knew the owner of ReCHIC beforehand and wanted something to do on the weekends, and working at ReCHIC is a fun way I can make money,” junior Addie Braitberg said. ReCHIC is the place for students looking to work at a chill location and break into the fashion industry.

Si Si Caffe

A popular after-school snack location, Si Si Caffe is a small but cozy family-owned coffee shop near Safeway in Moraga. Si Si Caffe provides a homey, cheerful atmosphere perfect for lively, extroverted students who aren’t afraid of catering to a wide range of customers; from hungry students to coffee-demanding adults. “I love meeting customers and learning about their lives,” junior Carter Camp said. “Working at Si Si Caffe has taught me time management and patience, which I think is really important for students.”


time is my favorite part of working at OCC,” junior Trent Bensinger said. “I love working at OCC because it is not too demanding and generates income,” Bensinger said. Bensinger is OCC’s tennis shop and fitness center attendant.


ReCHIC is a trendy consignment store on Orin-

Oakwood is an athletic club in Lafayette, and sociable Matadors working at the front desk often greet members. Students who want to be a friendly face are well-suited to work at Oakwood, as employees will check in with many fellow students and families. Additionally, front desk employees typically enjoy a low-chaos setting, making Oakwood an excellent option for students seeking an interactive and peaceful job.

Jackson George Critiques Lamorinda Cuisines


Whether it is Bianca’s Delicatessen or Baja Cali Mexican Cuisine, one man makes it his mission to review the crowd-favored eateries of Lamorinda: Jackson George. By the handle of @gamebredjackson on TikTok, junior George pleases his viewers with bi-weekly food reviews of local small businesses and restaurants. “It’s really fun to try new places and what better way to do so than with a friend,” George says.

George’s good friend and fellow classmate, Gabe Roman, co-partners the food review extravaganza, “I enjoy going to new restaurants and sitting down to a nice meal with my friends,” Roman mentions. “I also find it important to explore and highlight the hidden gems of Lamorinda.”

Starting off his series strong, George’s first post reviews Anya’s Kitchen, a local Indian cuisine looking to make its debut in Lamorinda. George, along with Roman and special guest, junior Will Atwood, provide viewers with an in-depth rating of the quality, flavor, and description of the dishes they ordered.

Following in the footsteps of their older coun -

terparts, George and Roman began their journey wondering how to make use of their time between school and football practice. Inspired by the past TikTok food reviews of seniors Jonah Azevedo,

Through their comedic commentary and down-to-earth insight, George and Roman’s productions aren’t ones to miss. Junior Grant Barmmer, a close friend and feature in their food review videos, relishes George and Roman’s optimistic content. “All of his [George’s] viewers can rely on the funny and cheerful videos to bring a smile to their faces,” Barmmer says.


Although many viewers see George and Roman’s content as a light-hearted source of entertainment, their videos contribute more to the community than just a few chuckles. By highlighting Lamorinda locations bi-weekly, George’s network of viewers are exposed to an extensive collection of small restaurants –some of which are brand new and fighting to establish a reputation. Promoting these small businesses through his platform, George advertises and advocates for community support for local restaurants.

Grinold, and Kyle Odmark, George and Ro
man provide similar insight on local restaurants with a twist.
Photo: Sharetea Orinda Photos: Mira Haldar

The Jeepers’ Manual on Wrangler Culture


Pulling into the Miramonte parking lot is like browsing the lot of a Jeep dealership. In every direction you look, there are Jeeps: green, orange, black, lifted, doorless, and even electric. It’s as if Miramonte families collectively bought out all of the Jeeps from the Jeep dealership of Concord and added their own quirky modifications. At Miramonte, the most popular driven car is a Jeep Wrangler Rubicon, which brings a rugged look and feel that all Jeepers love. The owners of these gas guzzlers are typically students who participate in multiple athletics, including water polo, basketball, and football. Along with their big egos, Jeepers are often described as arrogant drivers who most likely spend their free time at a Jeep club. These are just a few stereotypes Jeep drivers have attracted over the years. Here’s more insight into the Jeep Wranglers at Miramonte and what Jeepers do that the rest of us can’t stand.

Silly Modifications

Jeepers modify these classic automobiles into vehicles that significantly stand out amongst other cars. Many people are familiar with senior Jack Nixon’s Jeep. If you ever catch a vibrant green Jeep with a KC headlight bar driving around Orinda, it’s most likely Nixon.

Math teacher Valerie Peterson also drives a Jeep Wrangler, but Peterson’s has several modifications. Peterson drives a four-inch lifted Jeep with 35-inch tires, a titanium skid plate, a high lift jack, a winch mounted to the front bar, and a rack filled with gas cans. “This particular Jeep is fully decked out for driving the most challenging jeep trail - the Rubicon. [It has] limited

person capacity and storage, but if you need it for looks then it is great,” Peterson said.

Senior Addison Owensby also drives a Jeep with similar modifications and accessories. During the warmer seasons, Owensby removes the roof and doors from his Jeep, ensuring that everybody around him can

It’s almost like another language spoken only by Jeepers. The wave is a simple way to say hello to other Jeepers passing by or a great way to let fellow Jeepers know that you like their Jeep. The wave comes in numerous forms, but lifting two fingers while steering the wheel is the most common. Lower-ranked Jeeps, which include older and crustier models, are expected to initiate the wave. There is an entire Jeep hierarchy, but it’s honestly quite confusing.

Jumping Curbs

Jeepers believe their vehicles are sturdy enough to withstand driving over curbs. If you ever walk past a parked Jeep, chances are one of its tires is propped up on the curb. At Miramonte, when the line to exit the J-Lot is too long, Jeep drivers will drive over the parking blocks and the curb to cut all other cars patiently waiting in line. Talk about the level of disrespect…


Jeep drivers often think their car model is the best in the whole wide world. It’s no surprise if you witness a Jeep speeding, making illegal turns, taking over other cars in the slow lane, or doing whatever they want regarding anything on the road. Their respect for other drivers and the road is quite minimal.

“enjoy” his exceptionally loud music.

“Jeeps are cool cars that are very customizable and can be driven over any terrain. They are essentially big but slow, non-aerodynamic boxes on wheels,” Owensby said. Hot wheels…dupe?!

Jeep Wave

All Jeep owners are familiar with the “Jeep Wave.”

While some may sound true or familiar, it is important to note that these are just stereotypes that may not pertain to all Jeep owners, and should not be taken seriously. If you are a soon-to-be licensed driver, come on down to Miramonte and shop the various Jeep Wranglers parked all over campus. Maybe someday, you’ll also be a part of Miramonte’s Jeep culture.

Mirador 16 ENTERTAINMENT 03/27/23
Photo: Gabbi Decareau Seniors Addison Owensby (left) and Jack Nixon (right) proudly show off their customized Jeeps.
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