palo alto high school volume 10 edition 4
UNITY A Force to be Reckoned With
index ::Paly Original::
Powering Through the Powder by Caroline Wang
19 20 25 29 32
Most of Us Revisited by Jackie McElaney Too much, too soon? by Vrinda Khanna Designing the Dream School by Natalie Lin, Maddy Mihran, Tim Qin Climbing to New Heights by Kailey Flather Duty, Honor, Courage by Silvia Maraboli
::Viewpoint:: Cafe: A Palo Altan’s 22 Mayfield Haven
31 37 40 43 50 55
34 38 46 52 59
Spanish Weekend of ¡Fun! by Whitney Drazovich Palo Alto revolts against highspeed rail by Asha Albuquerque Years of Living Dangerously by Amanda Young Wrestling with the Norm by Sarah Jacobs The Science of Gender by Jessica Singleton
18 Paly Speaks by Sydney Lundgren 30 Where’s Kandell? by Whitney Drazovich 51 Inside the Office Of... by Shoshana Gould Questions 54 10 by Sydney Lundgren Art 56 Post-it by Paly Students
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A Force to be Reckoned with by Sophie Cornfield To be Hate-Free by Emily James
by Sydney Lundgren Facebook Detox by Caroline Wang In the Crowd by Amanda Young Finding Fun Around Palo Alto by Ryan Flanagan Behind the Badge by Ally Messick Disturbia by Shoshana Gould Teaching is for Teachers by Melanie Maemura
I’m a Driving Disaster by Sydney Lundgren
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Letters to the editors
volume 10 edition 3 “Redefining Family”
“As the grown daughter of a lesbian mom I can solidly state based on my own personal experience that the ONLY negative thing about growing up in an LGBT headed household is other people’s negative reactions towards me and my family. It was the daily discrimination faced by my family that was harmful ... not my mother’s sexual orientation. Why do ignorant people continue to point the finger at loving parents when it’s their own hateful views and actions that harour families? If everyone treated LGBT parented families with decency, respect and love--the way ALL people should be treated--there would be NO negative impacts for these children.” — Amanda L. “I think it is great that someone thought to write an article like this. Too often it is a pissing-match between adults and the children are left to pick up the pieces. It can be like this in messy divorces, and clearly it’s like this in social arguments between adults. These children deserve a voice in what happens to them - that is truly in their best interest.” — Grace Troupe “Reality check, when your mother is a lesbian you’re going to have frustrations. She abandoned her family for ‘her’ lifestyle. Don’t blame the state or the courts or the people etc., blame ‘her’ for ‘her’ selfishness.” — Jimmy Jones
“Math Department adds, subtracts to fill APs”
“Now even doing well in AB isn’t good enough? I liked math but dropped to the AB track because I didn’t want math to consume my life ... I still considered myself an academic success. Then again, I’m at Davis, not at Stanford or Berkeley, so define success as you will.” — Paly Graduate
“The Evolution of Paly Classes”
“It would really be a shame to see the Women Writers course disappear from Paly. This was by far one of the most interesting and impactful classes during my time at Paly. I truly hope it remains available for current and future Paly students, as it sheds light on many crucial issues not commonly explored in the standard high school curriculum.” — Polina M. These comments were submitted online at http://voice.paly.net. Verde also accepts feedback via e-mail at: email@example.com
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“We don’t want to answer those fatal calls late at night. Our goal is for every Palo Alto kid to make it to adulthood.”
Palo Alto Police Officer Dan Ryan “Behind the Badge”
“Imagine how a guy would feel if he suddenly was forced to live with breasts and shaved legs and make-up and long hair — that’s how I felt.”
Ben Barres “The Science of Gender”
“I was like the Forrest Gump of the 70s and 80s.”
Lisa Radcliffe “Years of Living Dangerously”
“Growing up in this environment has absolutely given me a different perspective on drinking. It is not a forbidden fruit, and therefore not a temptation.”
senior Mika Olivkovich “Too much, too soon?”
“People portray me as whitewashed. Your own people put you in a box.”
senior Jessica Garcia “A Force to be Reckoned With”
volume 10 edition 4 april 2009 Staff List Editors-in-Chief Sara Connolly Emily Hamilton Managing Editors Shoshana Gould Megan Mitchell Design Editors Jackie McElaney Tim Qin Business Managers Lynn Chang Claire Heritier-Kerby Distribution Manager Aaron Lerner Short Features Editor Sydney Lundgren
from the editors
hey say that all good things must come to an end. Unfortunately, this is true for our time as Verde editors. While we will miss room 213 disco parties and being secretly “Facebook-videoed” during production, we are excited for the future of Verde. We are proud to announce Caroline Wang and Amanda Young as next year’s editors-in-chief, along with Sophie Cornfield and Whitney Drazovich as managing editors. We have total confidence in you, and we wish you the best of luck. Realizing this is our last edition, we want to go out with a bang. In this light, we chose the powerful topic of Paly’s Unity Club for our cover story. In “A Force to be Reckoned With” (pg. 63), we delve into the issue of the achievement gap and how the students of our school are combating it. We aimed to reflect the strength and inspiration of the club with the comic book design of the cover and the story. In addition, we highlight Paly’s Not In Our School week in “To be Hate-Free” (pg. 68), which also talks about the effort to achieve equality among students. In this edition, we also chose to investigate the concern and anticipation surrounding Paly’s reconstruction in “Designing the Dream School” (pg. 25). “Years of Living Dangerously” (pg. 46) tells of Paly parent Lisa Radcliffe’s experiences with living in Iran during the revolution. Also, we hope you enjoy our shorter features, which include “Finding Fun Around Palo Alto” (pg. 40) and “Inside the Office of English Teacher James Hanmer” (pg. 51). Alright, Paly. It’s been a blast. — Sara & Emily
Photographer Julia Singleton
Artist Emily Wang Staff Asha Albuquerque Sophie Cornfield Liza Dehrnel Whitney Drazovich Ryan Flanagan Kailey Flather Sarah Jacobs Emily James Vrinda Khanna Natalie Lin Jessica Linebarger Melanie Maemura Silvia Maraboli Ally Messick Maddy Mihran Mary Minno Caroline Wang Amanda Young Adviser Paul Kandell
Verde Palo Alto High School 50 Embarcadero Road Palo Alto, CA 94301 650-329-3837 firstname.lastname@example.org Letters to the Editor Verde, a feature magazine published by the students in Palo Alto High School’s Magazine Journalism class, is an open forum for student expression and the discussion of issues of concern to its readership. Verde is distributed to its readers and the student body at no cost. The staff welcomes signed letters to the editor but reserves the right to edit all submissions for length, grammar, potential libel, invasion of privacy and obscenity. Send all letters to verdeeds0809@googlegroups. com Advertising The staff publishes advertisements with signed contracts providing they are not deemed by the staff inappropriate for the magazine’s audience. For more information about advertising with Verde, please contact the Verde business managers Lynn Chang and Claire Kerby by e-mail at verde.biz.paly@gmail. com or call 650-329-3837 for more information. Printing & Distribution Services Verde is printed five times a year in October, December, February, April and June by Fricke-Parks Press in Fremont, California. The Paly PTSA mails Verde to every student’s home.
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staff verdict Increasing graduation requirements to match UC and CSU eligibility criteria beneficial to all
et’s face it. Figuring out college admissions is tough, even overwhelm struggling students, Superintendent Skelly points out in for those who are blessed with highly educated parents who “A Force to be Reckoned With” (p. 63) that students are likely to rise know how to work the system. to the expectations set for them, regardless of their achievement to Imagine what it must be like to be a student whose parents date. Similarly, the a-g requirements will encourage the Paly staff to did not go to college or who do not even speak English. Students expect higher achievement from all students. facing adversity deserve as much help navigating the college selection But Paly still has a long way to go before the a-g requirements process as they can get. This is why Verde supports the Palo Alto are met by all. According to the Palo Alto School Board, only 75 Unified School District’s decision to mandate the a-g coursework, the percent of graduates met the UC’s most basic requirements in 2008. minimum requirements for University of California and California By not completing the requirements, the remaining 25 percent were State University admission, as rendered ineligible even to necessary for graduation apply to the UC and CSU. starting with the class of Un f o r t u n a t e l y, The A-G REQUIREMENTS by subject for the CSU and it 2012. is primarily the UC systems For many students, the underrepresented minorities affordability and proximity who are not meeting UC • Two years of history/social science required of the UCs and CSUs make and CSU standards. In fact, • Four years of English required them ideal destinations for only 42 percent of African• Three years of Math required, four years college. However, many of American and Latino students recommended these students miss out on met the requirements in • Two years of lab science required, three years the opportunity to attend 2008, according to the Palo these schools because they Alto Board of Education. By recommended lack knowledge early on in allowing minority students • Two years of a language required, three years their high school career. By who have not been given the recommended streamlining the expectations standard tools for successful • One year of visual and performing arts required of our state schools and our secondary education to • One year of college preparatory elective required high schools, the district graduate, the district was guarantees that all students inadvertently perpetuating will start with the same the trend of under-educated baseline opportunities. minority students, and as “A The goal of the required coursework is to ensure each student Force to be Reckoned With” shows, Paly’s black and Latino students admitted to the UCs and CSUs are college ready. This should be Paly’s refuse to accept this trend.Accordingly, the district recognizes this goal as well. As a college preparatory school, it is Paly’s obligation to truth, and the mandate to require the a-g coursework is a step in the bring forth capable and prepared students. Here at Verde, we see the same direction of equal opportunity. a-g requirements as the best way to ensure this happens. Verde commends the district’s efforts to reform flaws in Paly’s Furthermore, these new requirements will act as a safety net system and understands that the a-g requirements will allow more for students who evade the attention and help of the Paly staff. No people to access the education of the UCs and CSUs, improve the longer will simply making it out of high school alive be acceptable. caliber of education offered at Paly, and help increase the number and While one might expect the new, more stringent requirements to type of students graduating from Paly ready to take on the world. v 6 verde magazine
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The little things we see that tell us spring is here
e all look for signs of spring once winter comes to an end. Many high school kids identify spring with prom and the end of school, among other things. As we are all aware, spring is unfortunately also the season of standardized testing such as APs, STAR testing, SATs and ACTs. Spring sports are in training, and baseball season and track are off to a good start. Public pools will soon be open for those of you who want to catch some sun and cool off in the water. Coming up for Paly is also Not In Our School Week, where we can show our Paly pride
text by julia singleton photography by julia singleton
and unity as we celebrate tolerance. In addition to all of this excitement, we also have the spring production of Fiddler on the Roof in the Haymarket Theater coming up along with the ASB Election. All of these things are obvious to us as students and members of the Palo Alto community, but what about the little things? Here are photos of the small details, and some of the big things that we might not notice as we near the end of the 2008 to 2009 academic year. v
Left: Itâ€™s grazing season; the cows are lurking around the Dish in Palo Alto. Top Right: Itâ€™s time for kids to come out of their homes and enjoy the weather in nearby parks. Bottom Right: It is blooming season; these beautiful daffodils have burst from buds to flowers.
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Top Left: Itâ€™s flip flop season! Top Right: This squirrel is scanning his surroundings near Shoreline Lake. Mid-Right: The hummingbirds are out drinking the pollen. Bottom Right: It is college season, and seniors are hearing back from all their schools. Bottom Left: The rain clouds are finally gone! Mid-Left: It is track season, and time for Spring sports to begin training!
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verde news u
by the numbers
Amount in millions Paly received for the construction bond
178 6500 0 80 420 74 Estimated cost in millions for the completion of the Paly Master Plan
Kicking off the Race Peninsula residents gathered in Paly’s small gym Wednesday, April 1, to listen to San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom discuss the economy, health care and education. Newsom has been holding town hall meetings to get steam started for his quest to be governor of California. See page 37 for staff writer Amanda Young’s perspective on the meeting. — photo by amanda young
Say no to drugs, yes to PADACC
Students interested in combating adolescent drug and alcohol use at Paly now have the chance to do exactly that. After meeting with Karin Bloom, project director of the Palo Alto Drug and Alcohol Community Collaborative, principal Jacqueline McEvoy agreed to start a drug and alcohol committee. This group will include at least a Paly administrator, teacher, parent, and student. “This group would decide how it wants to communicate with students,” Bloom says. “Gunn has one, and they meet at least once a month, reporting back to the student leadership team and doing assemblies every year.” Bloom also invites students to attend PADACC meetings, held once a month. “Our big mission is to get more youth involved,” Bloom says. PADACC, the organization that administers the “Most of Us” survey, strives to reduce underage substance abuse through its survey and educating students. For more information, contact email@example.com or visit www. padacc.org. v — text by amanda young
Choo-Choo! Not everyone is all aboard q Palo Alto is participating in the lawsuit against the California High Speed Rail authority. The city believes that the authority did not take available information into consideration when choosing the train’s future route. “The lawsuit is the prime issue regarding Palo Alto and the authority at this point,” City Council Member Greg Schmidt says. “With the lawsuit, the court is suppose to make a decision within the next month.” If everything goes smoothly, the first train to go along the San Francisco-Los Angeles route will run in 2020. “The state must get everything right, for the our high speed rail will be the test case for high speed rail in the country in the future,” City Council Member Yoriko Kishimoto says. v — text by aaron lerner 10 verde magazine
Annual tuition in dollars for each student at US Military Academy at Westpoint
Number of sixth graders that San Francisco Mayor Newsom guaranteed a four-year college education to
Annual payment in dollars for each student at US Military Academy at West Point
Percent of Paly students who do not drink in a typical month, according to the Palo Alto Reality Check Survey
Time in minutes it took Paly track coach Lisa Chin to finish a 10K snowshoe race, which qualified her for nationals
PAUSD plays Whack-a-mole with grade school boundaries q Think your younger siblings will be attending your old elementary school? If you live close to the current Stratford School, be prepared to think again. This is because the Palo Alto Unified School District is opening a new school, Garland Elementary School, to accommodate the increasing student enrollments and will therefore be changing the school boundaries of other schools around Garland. Assistant Superintendent Scott Laurence is leading the effort to change the borders. He must solve problems including students’ safety when crossing major intersections and ensuring that schools have equal population sizes. Sometimes, solving one problem ends up causing other problems, he says. “It’s like the arcade game, Whack-AMole,” Laurence says. “You hit the gopher when it comes up, and as soon as you hit that one, another one comes up.” Garland, which will open in the fall of 2011, will replace the current Stratford School on N. California Ave. Therefore, the primary focus for boundary changes will be elementary schools in northern Palo Alto, including Duveneck, Walter Hays, El Carmelo, and Palo Verde, Laurence says. Laurence has many issues to consider before he can recommend a plan to the Board
of Education on May 12. A major problem is keeping student population equal at the middle schools, Laurence says. According to him, the middle school boundaries may be changing as well. “If we load up Garland as a neighborhood school, students from Garland, Addison, Hays, and Duveneck will all go to Jordan [Middle School],” Laurence says. “This will raise Jordan’s population to 1,300 and drop JLS’s [Jane Lathrop Stanford Middle School] to 1,000, which is not a good thing.” School Board member Camille Townsend says there is a potential for high school boundaries to change as well. “Changing one school’s boundaries has rippling impacts on the bordering school enrollment, with implications up the line for middle and high school,” Townsend says. According to Laurence, student safety is also an important part of the adjustment, since an increased number of students could be crossing busy streets such as Oregon Expressway on their commute to school. To cause minimal disruption for entrance into Garland, Laurence is considering having only kindergartners and first graders attend in 2011, allowing the school to grow each year with only the new kindergarten class. “We will load the school gradually,”
Crowded Grounds Changed boundaries will help prevent overcrowded schools and playgrounds in Palo Alto. Laurence says. “We also have to consider siblings going to different schools.” Aside from family consistency, student population is also a concern. Data shows that there will be an average growth of 500 students enrolled in Palo Alto elementary schools by 2013. “Right now, there is only one empty classroom in the whole district,” Laurence says. Townsend realizes that the situation in Palo Alto is very different from other districts throughout California. “Across the state, new boundaries are being drawn because of declining enrollment,” she says. “We’re an excellent school district and parents want their children to go to good schools.” v — text and photo by caroline wang
Thirsty for a better planet? Support the Red Cross
Got Water? The Paly Red Cross Club will begin selling these plastic water bottles to benefit the Silicon Valley chapter.
The Paly Red Cross Club is selling water bottles to benefit the Silicon Valley Red Cross Chapter. The club wants to raise at least $300 by selling re-usable plastic water bottles to students and community members, according to Paly senior Seung-yeon Choi, a club president. Other schools in the area, including Gunn, are orchestrating similar projects. The water bottles will provide buyers with an alternative to disposable plastic bottles. They are composed of durable red plastic with a metal cap, and can be purchased for $10. All proceeds will go to the Red Cross Chapter of Silicon Valley, which is suffering
from a lack of money due to the country’s widespread economic woes, according to Choi. In addition to monetary gains, the club hopes to raise awareness about the American Red Cross and how students can contribute. The Red Cross occasionally organizes volunteering events such as gift-wrapping at Stanford or Borders, and works closely with Safe Ride and other interactive programs for students. Students who want to buy these environmentally friendly water bottles to support the Red Cross can contact senior Tim Qin or other members of the Paly Red Cross Club. v — text and photo by sarah jacobs verde magazine 11
Master Plan passed q
Highly anticipated renovations to the Palo Alto High School campus are soon to come as a part of Measure A, a $378 million bond passed last June. Due to Paly’s aging facilities, the Palo Alto Unified School District recently approved the construction of a new theater, a second floor addition to the library and student center, and a new two-floor media center. A two-floor classroom building will replace the portables on the west side of Paly. The district also plans to renovate both gyms. Due to the Americans with Disabilities Act, PAUSD must ensure that every two-floor building has elevators to meet the needs of disabled students. PAUSD has not yet decided on a date to start construction. v — text and photo by asha alberquerque
Duo debates their way to states q Paly juniors qualified for the California High School Speech and Debate State Championship competition in Los Angeles. Among the nine chosen debaters, Avi Arfin and Juihaar Singh are the only students who have qualified from Palo Alto High School. They will debate vigilantism — times when the government has failed to enforce the law. “I qualified last year and was the first person to qualify from Paly,” Singh says. Paly debate coach Jennie Savage believes that any one of the students in the debate team could have qualified. “For Paly to earn two students in the state championships is a big deal,” Savage says. “My money is always on the Paly debate team. I would not be surprised if every kid qualified.” The state championships will be held from April 26 to April 28. v — text by natalie lin
Plastic bags gone with the wind q The Palo Alto community will soon say good-bye to all plastic bags. This fall, grocery stores in Palo Alto will no longer be allowed to offer customers plastic bags, according to the proposal from city staff. In months following the enforcement, all other city stores will be banned from offering customers plastic bags. The ban is part of an effort to reduce energy use and encourage the use of reusable bags, according to the approved proposal. v — text and photo by shoshana gould
Funds fall through for Bay Area homeless q
— text and photo by sophie cornfield
The Palo Alto Human Relations Commission is looking to cut funds by five percent for 18 Bay Area non-profits. “It’s a tough decision,” Kathy Espinosa Howard, director of Human Services for Palo Alto, says. “You can either decide you need it, or save up your money.” According to Howard, the city did some of both — raising revenue and cutting spending. The HRC hopes to find a more objective method of review for the next funding cycle in 2011; nine programs requesting financial assistance for the first time were denied funding this year. “We want to fund the best programs that we can,” Howard says. The city chose not to fund organizations that serve only one population segment.. This has sparked new collaborative ventures between the non-profits. “It’s not ideal,” Howard says. “But we do the best we can with what we have.” v
Bullies begone: Beating mean kids to the punch
Palo Alto middle and high school students will go to a session promoting bullying prevention on April 16. The program will run until May, during which actors will perform educational skits about bully prevention at all elementary schools in the district. Palo Alto PTA members hope to “break the cycle” of bullying by addressing it at an early age. The program began on March 18, when Palo Alto schools began their AntiBullying campaign, aiming to remedy the 12 verde magazine
issue through presentations by TheatreWorks. This program comes after recent results from a Palo Alto Drug and Alcohol Community Collaborative showed that 30 percent of middle-schoolers in the Palo Alto Unified School District had felt victimized by a school peer. The program extends itself to parents as students as wellrq. Parents will also have access to a seminar called “Middle School: How Is My Child Really Doing?” Parents will learn how to
identify signs of bullying, such as hating school and losing interest in academics. Parents will also learn how to interpret signs of anxiety disorders and depression, according to the PTA Web site. The campaign comes in conjunction with PAUSD’s “Not in Our School” program, which is used to prevent stereotyping, racism, sexism, and general discriminatory behaviors among adolescents. v — text by liza dernehl
2009 Stimulus package for Bay Area dummies q
VERDE VAULT YOUR LINK TO PALY HISTORY
President Barack Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 on Feb. 17. It is one of the largest economic stimulus plans ever approved by the U.S. government and includes more than $787 billion in government spending and benefits. The spending bill is designed aid the dragging economy as quickly as possible. The Bay Area has been affected by this measure. Overall, there are about six main areas in where the plan is intended to pick up the economy: — text by whitney drazovich
tax cuts q
The largest single component of the act provides for $288 billion in tax cuts. The most tax relief will go to low and medium income families to lower taxes for workers, families with children (including children going to college), homebuyers, vehicle buyers and those who are unemployed. There will also be about $51 billion allowed for tax relief of companies.
education q Money will be given to certain school districts to prevent and eliminate lay-offs and cutbacks. Districts in low-income areas will receive more. $300 million will go to raising teacher’s salaries and $2 billion will go to childcare services. University of California, at Berkeley, and Stanford University science labs are receiving money for new equipment.
About $148 billion will be used to fund private healthcare insurance and Medicare. The funds also support research, veterans programs, building of community medical facilities will be built and training for personnel. South County Community Health Clinic in East Palo Alto will receive money to expand their services for their local community members.
aid to unemployed
Two major problems that have grown due to the failing economy has been the raising numbers of the unemployed. Programs to extend benefits to the unemployed will include a food stamp program and job training; overall the government will spend about $82 billion. Benefits will also be offered to those who are disabled and to senior citizens.
Another way to provide more job opportunities for the unemployed is to undertake government construction programs that build the country’s infrastructure. This will create thousands of jobs and will improve public facilities. Highway construction, cleaning water, maintenance and public transit will all be part of the investment. The City of Palo Alto will resurface San Antonio Rd. and Lytton Ave., and Santa Clara County plans on placing lights on Interstate 280.
other programs q Other miscellaneous programs will involve the government spending about $101 billion. These programs include jumpstarting energy (green energy in particular), repairing and modernizing housing, improving scientific research and improving national security. In San Francisco, once inhabitable houses are being repaired. v
Verde staff of 2000 focused on Paly ‘s student-produced media. Writer Sarah Magnuski describes a late-night show:
mber Henson, hostess of a local, student produced “late show” is deep into an interview with Hans Pang, a senior at Palo Alto High School. She sits at a desk on the set of the NotSo-Bimonthly Show at the Cable-Coop studio in Palo Alto, on top of which there is a bubble gum (i.e., it shoots bubbles), “Zoloft Candy” (Mike & Ike’s) and “water” (“from Russia”). Anyone besides Henson would begin the interview by talking about Pang’s recent acquisition of the $80,000 in stock he earned instead of a salary by working this summer at Alteon, a web startup company. Not Henson, and for Heaven’s sake, not on this show. She leans in close to Pang, a Chinese-American, raises an eyebrow, and says, “Hans, we have to talk about your name. It’s a nice name, but here’s my problem, Hans... you’re not a large, burly Swedish man. What’s with ‘Hans’?” Witness here exactly what makes the Not-So- Bimonthly Show click. It’s 30 minutes every month (now do you get the name?) full of delectably bizarre, Conanesque, hysterical humor featuring Paly’s own queen of randomness, Amber Henson and her “sidekick” Jamie Maratas. v verde magazine 13
Robotics team builds its way to the top q Paly’s Robotics Team finished in the quarterfinals at the Las Vegas National Competition during spring break, according to Robotics teacher Doug Bertain. Despite the team placing well, they suffered through numerous mishaps while in Las Vegas. The team was faced with “a bumper design violation and possible disqualification from the competition” early in the competition, according to Bertain. This was a major disappointment to the team, as the same design had qualified for the Silicon Valley Regional only a few weeks prior. The team won the Rockwell Innovation and Control Award, an award celebrating an innovative control system. Juniors Nick Clayton and Valerian Scheurer and senior David Fisher invented the system. Senior Spencer Davis contributed to the team’s success, winning the Safety Student of the Day Award for his work in managing the team’s pit. The area was considered to be the safest design in the entire competition, according to Bertain. v — text by shoshana gould Viking Pit Senior Spencer Davis managed the team’s pit, win— photo courtesy by daniel shaffer ning the Safety Student of the Day Award for his contribution.
ASB candidates compete for future leadership roles
Below is a look into the students running for ASB positions for the 2009-2010 school year. While there is still time to annouce candidacy, Verde investigated and formed a list of the candidates as of April 9. — text by jackie mcelaney — photography by jackie mcelaney
Vice President Candidate
Other potential candidates include George Brown and Jujhaar Singh for ASB Vice President, Trevor Loveless and Hanna Brody for ASB Social Commisioner, Chirag Krishna and Gracie Dulik for ASB Secretary, Sam Greene for ASB Treasurer, Alex Freeman and Connor Fitzgerald for ASB Spirit Commisioner, and Maddie Saal for ASB Sports Commissioner. v 14 verde magazine
Powering Through The
text by caroline wang photography by julia singleton and courtesy of lisa chin verde magazine 15
Just Keep Going Track coach Lisa Chin sprinting to the finish line in her first ever snowshoe race
isa Chin, the coach of Palo Alto High School girls’ mid-distance trackand-field team, sits in the bleachers at the school’s track. There is a soft breeze as the Paly graduate of 2000 shivers in black yoga pants and a gray zip-up jacket. After sending the team home from practice at 5 p.m., she pulls out her scrunchie, releasing her dark hair from her ponytail. She remembers her first experience snowshoe racing one month ago, running on what she calls “metal tennis rackets.” “It’s almost like running through light sand, but it’s not quite as sticky as mud,” Chin says, describing the snowshoeing sensation. Chin and two other friends competed in the Jazz Trax 10-kilometer competition on Jan. 25 in Bear Valley. With a finishing time of one hour and 14 minutes for the 6.4 miles, Chin qualified for the national competition, held by the National Snowshoeing Association on March 8 in Portland, Ore. Her experiment with the world’s fastest growing winter sport, according to Snowshoe Magazine, became an extraordinary achievement. She qualified despite it being her first snowshoeing experience and having barely any time before the race to test out her newly-purchased green snowshoes. “I barely tried [the snowshoes] before [the race], because the race started at 9 a.m.,” she says. “It was freezing and snowing when we got there, so we stayed in the car until 15 minutes before the race.” Though an experienced long-distance runner, Chin says she did not know what to expect from the snowshoe race, only that it would be grueling. Thankfully, she says, she was able to stay on her feet and did not fall. “My friend’s boyfriend said he has 16 verde magazine
A Winner’s Smile Chin wears her snowshoes at the Paly track.
[paly original] Finish 10 K
always tripped or almost fallen at least once in every race, and he’s done at least 10 races,” she says. At first, Chin found it difficult to run at the 7,000-ft elevation and just concentrated on taking the race step by step. She constantly told herself to keep moving forward, especially on the difficult hills. Moving uphill, she opted to power hike, so that she could run harder on the down hills and flats. Even though the first mile was hard, Chin says that within 10 minutes, her body warmed up and she began to take in the scenery and enjoy the experience. “You warm up really quickly,” she says. “After a while, I hit a comfort zone and got into a groove, and then I started to really enjoy it. It’s really beautiful out there.” The powdery snow on the trail happened to be a perfect, safe condition for Chin’s first experience on snowshoes. “We got really lucky because it was soft powder,” she says. “You have to watch out for ice because you can slip.” Though the snow was beautiful, it also came down hard and impaired her vision. While Chin wore snow goggles, she says that most of the other competitors did not. Some suffered from the low visibility. “The first group of guys sprinted out and ended up running the wrong way,” Chin says. Aside from the goggles, Chin also wore
protective clothing called gaiters around her legs and booties that wrapped around her running shoes to keep the snow from entering her shoes. She also wore gloves in case of a fall, and a neck gaiter and a beanie to fight the cold. For this race, Chin did not use a water belt because she said that she never felt hot enough to need that hydration. She says that it was “OK to just hydrate before the race.” There were also two aid stops along the race to keep her hydrated. However, Chin laughs as she explains how the liquids were all solid. “The funny thing is that the water and Gatorade were frozen [on top] so I had to break the ice to drink,” she says. Besides drinking fluids, Chin also values mental preparation in racing. Just one weekend before Jazz Trax, Chin had competed in a 25-kilometer running race in Pacifica. The race involved 3,000-ft of climbing, and
Gillian Robinson, owner of Zombie Runner in Palo Alto, gives snowshoeing recommendations: – Crescent Moon Gold Series 12 is the best brand and design for racing. – The ideal shoe is the brand Goretex. It has an inside lining that is waterproof and breathable. – Snowshoes cost between $200 and $250.
Chin had not performed as well as she had hoped. At Pacifica, she had run the many difficult hills, and the exhaustion had led her to walk more than she had planned. After that disappointing experience a week before, Chin knew she did not want to make the same mistake for the snowshoe race. To prepare, Chin tried alternative training in addition to her normal running routine of 30-40 miles a week, including more hill training during her treadmill workouts and working at her maximum heart rate, meaning she did more anaerobic workouts where she felt like she was sprinting versus running long distance. Chin also maintained a healthy diet, which she is knowledgeable about from her Bachelor of Arts in Nutritional Sciences. All Chin’s preparation worked to help her finish the race and surprisingly qualify for the national competition. “I thought I would feel like the end of a marathon, really achy,” Chin says. “But I ended up finishing and feeling really happy. I was very relieved because it was a long race.” She remembers walking into the lodge after the race and smelling five different kinds of chili and seeing corn bread, desserts, and salad set out on the table. The competition raised money for a middle school jazz band, and the director of the band actually organized the race. Although she qualified for the National competition, Chin decided not to make the trip to Mount Hood near Portland, Ore. She had recently run in the California International Marathon on Dec. 6 in Folsom. Finishing that marathon, she qualified for the prestigious Boston Marathon, where entry is only met through time qualification. “I want to concentrate on running this year,” she says. After Chin’s rewarding experience of running on these “metal tennis rackets” in fresh powdery snow, she recommends others to try snowshoe racing as well. “It’s really exhilarating, unlike any other sport and worth a try,” she says. “I definitely plan on snowshoeing again, and I would like to go to Nationals if I can.” v verde magazine 17
What would you say to get out of a parking ticket? Brad Duplantier, junior u
Alex Coblin senior u
“I’m working with Safe Ride. Got to help the kids.”
“I need to give my grandma her meds or I’ll lose my family fortune.” Joerelle Bennett, t senior
Sam Hain, t freshman
“I want to be just like you [a cop], so I’m parking illegally.”
“I’m illiterate so I can’t read the parking sign.”
Marissa Heirich, freshman u
Kriti Paul-Gera, junior u
“A door gnome stole my parking permit.”
“I’m on the way to pick up my 2-year-old daughter, and I’m really late.”
interviews by sydney lundgren photography by sydney lundgren 18 verde magazine
MOST of US Revisited text by jackie mcelaney art by emily wang
Alarming misconceptions over the amount of perceived drug and alcohol use among teens and their peers surface in a revised drug and alcohol survey taken by Palo Alto students.
very year, Paly students participate in a district-wide survey to measure the perceptions and uses of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs in the student body. Since 2004, the survey has been given to students at Palo Alto High School, Henry M. Gunn High School, Jordan Middle School, Terman Middle School, and Jane Lathrop Stanford Middle School. This year, the survey was changed in response to the results of past years. “The whole idea behind it [the survey] is ‘What do most people do?’” Paly Guidance Counselor Susan Schultz says. This year, the title of the survey was changed from the MOST of Us Survey to the Palo Alto Reality Check Survey, the goals of which were slightly different. New questions were added to the survey, including those pertaining to drinking and driving, communication with adults, and binge drinking, according to the Paly PARC survey report. Becky Beacom, communications director at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation and the person spearheading the PARC survey, said that the changes made to the survey were an attempt to track the perceptions and misperceptions students have of their peers regarding drug and alcohol use. “We find that students are overestimating the degree of [drug and alcohol] use [among their peers],” Beacom says. This overestimation was measured with new questions asking students what they thought the average drug and alcohol use was for their peers. According to this year’s survey results, nearly 80 percent of students do not drink in a typical month; however, more than half of the students surveyed estimated that many more of their peers drink each month. “Social norms are about holding things in context,” Beacom says. “We’re trying to grow the health that already exists in the community and shine a light on that.” According to the survey, this misperception on how much Paly
students really do drink has allowed for an increased risk of alcohol use among students. Beacom says the misconceptions of students are the most prominent issues, and believes in the validity of the responses. “When all the important steps for assuring confidentiality, anonymity, etc. have been met, and we have five years of consistent data [at all schools], I am surprised at how many people still dismiss thousands of student voices with the perception that ‘everybody lies,’” Beacom says. While the survey results show that students’ perceptions of their fellow peers are slightly skewed, Beacom says that, in general, students are honest in answering the questions. “I believe most teenagers are honest — inherently so,” Beacom says. “Just as most teenagers make healthy decisions, follow the rules, etc. And there’s science to back that up.” With the extensive filters used on the survey, Beacom feels very confident that the survey results portray the true feelings of the students at Paly. While Montana State University’s MOST of Us project provided extensive analysis for the surveys of past years, this was the first year that the Palo Alto Reality Check Survey was analyzed by local data specialists. “The fact that we had independent professionals creating and hosting the surveys, analyzing the results, providing the filters, etc., makes me feel as confident as possible in the reliability of this data,” Beacom says. However, the filters cannot be 100 percent effective, and this year, along with other years, there may have been answers that made it through the filtering process. “Did some dishonest responses get through the filters? Probably,” Beacom says. “But probably in similar amounts to previous years. This is why we’ve been told not to read too much into small differences in the ‘numbers’ either from year-to-year or when we look at differences between the schools.” v verde magazine 19
Is growing up with alcohol and drinking socially with family a good way to develop healthy drinking habits in college?
ika!” a muffled voice yells through the thick door. “Dinner in five minutes!” “I’m coming!” Paly senior Mika Olivkovich yells back to her father as she finishes showering and gets dressed for dinner with the rest of her family. The family gathering may seem like any other teenager’s typical night, but one thing is different. Each member of the household has a glass of red wine, including Olivkovich and her siblings. “It’s just been a part of Friday night dinners,” Olivkovich says. Casual drinking is one aspect of Olivkovich’s Israeli culture. Her parents introduced alcohol to her when she was about 15 years old, and since then she has grown up with alcohol as a regular, though not dominant, part of her life. “Drinking has never been a big thing in my family,” Olivkovich says. “It wasn’t a huge part of how we conducted ourselves.” Ohr, Olivkovich’s mom, says the drinking has all been in the context of religious ceremony. “We watch Mika around alcohol only within the confines of our family Friday ‘shabbat’ night dinners, not anywhere else,” Ohr says. “During the dinners, members of the family are sipping wine. This heritage enables Mika to appreciate safe wine drinking and to enjoy it. Nevertheless we constantly reinforce the effects and consequences of abusing alcohol.” Arianna Governatori, another Paly senior, has a similar outlook on drinking, as her parents both come from Latin cultures where there is no real legal drinking age, according to Governatori. “Kids are given wine and water since they’re little, and once you’re in high school, you can drink freely with no problem,” Governatori says. Governatori’s parents say that although they introduced wine to their children when the children were about 12 years old, they do not encourage underage drinking. “Drinking a little wine with our meals is acceptable, and we always thought that it would teach our children to enjoy it and not want to drink just to get drunk,” Dyonne, Governatori’s mom, says. 20 verde magazine
text by vrinda khanna art by lisa ke
After being exposed to alcohol at a young age and drinking in moderation with the permission of responsible adults, Olivkovich and Governatori say they have been able to make better choices as they go into college and take on more responsibilities. Although underage possession of alcohol is illegal in California, there are several exceptions, including parent/guardian consent, according to the Web site for the Alcohol Policy Information System, a project of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Olivkovich and Governatori are both given wine by their parents, and so are not drinking illegally. In addition, according to the APIS Web site, in California, underage consumption of alcohol is not explicitly prohibited. Although Olivkovich and Governatori have grown up with similar outlooks on drinking, they have been approached differently by their parents about alcohol in college. According to Olivkovich, her parents haven’t talked to her about the subject, but expect her to be responsible. “My parents don’t have an explicit rule about how much I should have,” Olivkovich says. “Because they have watched me around alcohol, they can tell that I am responsible, so it’s never really been a problem.” Governatori’s parents, however, have talked to her more about how they expect her to act around alcohol in college. “They [my parents] say to be careful, and don’t drink and drive,” Governatori says. “They trust me to be responsible about it since they brought me up in a way that made alcohol available so I wouldn’t feel the need to lie and be sketchy if I wanted a drink.” Because both Olivkovich and Governatori have grown up in an atmosphere that promotes casual and safe drinking habits through parental supervision, they say they don’t feel the need to obtain alcohol illegally, as many other high schoolers do. On the other side of the spectrum, many students who have not grown up with alcohol are introduced to wine and other spirits in high school, and often don’t have the same sense of moderation. Joanna, a Paly senior who wishes to remain anonymous, started
[campus] drinking her sophomore year and developed unhealthy drinking habits after a senior guy introduced alcohol to her. “I used to drink every weekend and almost every day during the summer,” Joanna says. Unlike Olivkovich’s and Governatori’s parents, Joanna’s don’t approve of her drinking alcohol. “I didn’t grow up around alcohol, and my parents try to restrict it, but they don’t enforce it,” Joanna says. “They don’t like limiting me too much because they think I’ll end up being so inexperienced that when I get to college, I’ll be experimenting and having fun then, and forget why I really went.” Although all three seniors don’t believe that being exposed to alcohol as a teenager or younger is an issue, Palo Alto Police Department’s Public Information Officer Dan Ryan disagrees. “I wouldn’t support teenagers being given alcohol at 16, but rather at 21,” Ryan says. Apart from his personal views on drinking alcohol, Ryan warns against drinking at an early age because of health issues related with alcohol before becoming an adult. “The medical science still says that with the developing body and developing brain, it’s best not to have teenagers using alcohol at any grade at all,” Ryan says. Although Ryan doesn’t support teenagers drinking alcohol, he acknowledges that it would be better for one to become accustomed to drinking in a safe home environment rather than being introduced to it at a party where it is easier to engage in unhealthy drinking habits such as binge drinking. “People should learn to drink alcohol with their family and responsible adults rather than with a bunch of other teenagers,” Ryan says. In fact, a 1995 study conducted by D.J. Hanson in the International Handbook on Alcohol and Culture found that ‘parents, through their power of example, may be the most important longterm influence on the behavior of their offspring. The strength of their power, often reinforced by religious teachings, is usually underestimated.’ Olivkovich’s and Governatori’s experiences with alcohol reflect more of Ryan’s views than Joanna’s does, although none of the situations are ideal, according to Ryan. Because of her experience with drinking alcohol in moderation, Olivkovich doesn’t think she will drink much in college. She doesn’t expect to binge drink in college like many other college freshmen. “I’m sure that I will drink in college, but not to the extent that most people expect college freshmen will drink,” Olivkovich says. Although Santa Clara University alumnus and Paly graduate of
2002 Dinaz Vilms was exposed to alcohol during high school and sometimes tasted wine with the permission of her parents, she started drinking in moderation and for her own enjoyment in her second year of college. According to Vilms, the college atmosphere when she first started was very uncontrolled since there were no parents or guidelines. “As freshmen, everyone went crazy when they had access to booze because we were all away from home and suddenly had so much freedom,” Vilms says. Vilms’ parents didn’t really talk to her about drinking before she went to college, but encouraged her to be careful and smart about what she did, according to Vilms and her parents. Reflecting on her experiences, Vilms says she wouldn’t want to change the way she was introduced to alcohol. “My parents used to drink socially around us, and they would always let us take a sip if we were curious,” Vilms says. Vilms believes that it would be better to grow up in an atmosphere that promotes social, safe drinking than to be introduced to it later at parties where the environment is less controlled. “Growing up with [others drinking] alcohol lets you see the effects it can have on people and you can learn from their mistakes,” Vilms says. “Also, it’s not a novel concept or an unknown or forbidden thing to do.” Olivkovich agrees and believes that her experiences with alcohol will prepare her well for the college drinking scene. “Growing up in this environment has absolutely given me a different perspective on drinking,” Olivkovich says. “It [alcohol] is not a forbidden fruit, and therefore not a temptation. It’s always in my house; I have had it before. So it’s not that big of a deal.” Ohr agrees with her daughter’s views on alcohol, and believes that Ohr has prepared her well for college. “Through experiencing and modeling a safe environment, Mika is able to make sensible and educational choices,” Ohr says. Joanna also believes that, although she was introduced to alcohol in high school and didn’t drink in moderation, alcohol exposure when one is younger is better to develop healthy drinking habits in college. “If someone has grown up around drinking, they probably wouldn’t think it’s a big deal and wouldn’t end up having any problems with alcohol when they’re older because they’ve been around it enough to know its effects,” Joanna says. “But if someone has been sheltered from alcohol and hasn’t been around it and is highly restricted from it, they will be more tempted to try it and maybe even abuse it.” v verde magazine 21
Mayfield Cafe: A Palo Altan’s Haven text by sydney lundgren photography by julia singleton
s my family and I entered Mayfield Cafe, the aesthetically pleasing atmosphere grabbed our attention. Starch white linen table cloths, glossy black leather booths, sparkling mirrors, and dozens of white candles adorning tables greeted us. More people were sitting at the sparkling black bar, gazing at the large assortment of high quality wines covering the wall in front of them. To our right, we were able to look into a large white kitchen and see the meals being prepared. The smell of freshly baked bread and sizzling meat reminded us how hungry we were as we eagerly sat down at our table. Considering that Mayfield is small and it seemed to be at its full capacity of patrons, it was no surprise that we almost had to shout to be heard. Unfortunately, my father had a hard time conversing and was even thinking about asking the people at the table behind us, whose faces were red from wine and who were shrieking with laughter to lower their voices. Luckily, an enthusiastic waitress with a bubbly voice and beaming smile came over just as my father was about to turn around to the boisterous table behind us. We were impressed with her level of knowledge and enthusiasm about Mayfield Cafe. According to her, Mayfield uses ingredients from its own farm in addition to other farms. As soon as the waitress was finished with her speech, we were able to choose bubbly or flat water, an unusual complimentary item. Usually restaurants put a hefty price on bottles of bubbly or flat water, but not Mayfield. The waitress also informed us that Mayfield makes its own bubbly water by adding carbon dioxide, a process which she stressed with a serious expression, was “extremely expensive, but essential.” She left us soon afterward to ponder over the unique assortment of dishes in three different categories: appetizers, main courses and sides. From the appetizer menu, the dishes ranged from Smokey Chicken Soup ($6.50) to Wood Oven Baked Mussels ($14.50). But we decided to keep it safe and ordered the Baby Arugula Salad ($8.75) with hazelnuts, onions, blood oranges, and blue cheese with a light dressing. The lettuce was crisp and fresh, and the toppings blended together harmoniously. We also tried the Fresh Mozzarella and Pepperoni Pizza ($14.75) with roasted sweet peppers, spring onions and oregano, but it was not anything spec-
22 verde magazine
[viewpoint] tacular. The bread was a little dry and the pepperoni was so spicy we had to keep asking the bus boy to refill our glasses. The main courses consisted mostly of creative meat dishes, such as Braised Lamb Cheeks with gremolata, a type of herb, ($19.75) and the Niman Ranch Chuck Burger ($11.75) with remould and soft onion rings on a warm poppy seed bun. We ordered the Spit-Roasted Niman Ranch Pork Shoulder ($18.50) that came with a warm pancetta, a type of ham, and brussel sprouts salad. Though the name might turn one off, the meat was tender and juicy. I am not a fan of ham and brussel sprouts, but if it was not for those components, the dish would not have been so mouth watering. We also ordered the Almond Wood Grilled Hawaiian Dorado ($24), a light luscious white fish cooked to perfection. The crispy potatoes, succulent spring onions and green garlic aioli complimented the fish. The only vegetarian main course option was the Penne Rigate Pasta ($14) with caramelized cauliflower, caper berries, raisins and pinenuts. Unfortunately, the penne was under cooked and the only item that added flavor to the entree were the sweet raisins. To top it off, we chose to sample the assortment of scrumptious desserts. The S’more Tart ($7.50) with graham crackers, chocolate, ganache and handmade toasted marshmallows ($7.50) is made for people with a major sweet tooth. Mayfield’s marshmallows melted in our mouths instead of having a stale taste like store bought marshmallows do. But it was the decadent chocolate on top of the crumbly homemade graham crackers added a creamier aspect to the dessert. A smooth scoop of chocolate gelato was on the side to please chocolate lovers even more. In addition, we debated between the Cookies and Cream dessert ($7.50), which came with “daily just-baked cookie selections and a Mexican chocolate or vanilla milkshake”, and Nancy’s Famous Carrot Cake ($7.50) with cream cheese and walnuts. Ultimately, we decided on the carrot cake. The three layers of rich and creamy icing complimented the two moist layers of cake in between them, giving the overall taste a deliscous blend of flavors. Unlike most cheesecakes, the icing was not sickeningly sweet and only made us want to eat more. A dollap of hand-whipped cream along with drizzled almond-carmel syrup added an extravagant touch. If you have the chance to venture inside Mayfield, you will be greeted by a friendly staff, a wonderful meal, and an aesthetically pleasing atmosphere. If one is ever looking for a hip night out on the town, Mayfield is the place to go. v
Mayfield Cafe adds a dash of posh to Town and Country Village with its rustic atmosphere and original cuisine. verde magazine 23
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Submit by May 9th: Room 202 or firstname.lastname@example.org
[campus] A Different Angle This scene of Paly will change dramatically in the upcoming years to include a new theater, around 15 portables, and renovations to the Haymarket Theatre and the Student Center.
Designing the Dream School Students and teachers reflect about the challenges of the new construction text by natalie lin, maddie mihran, and tim qin
new Media arts building, a new gym, a new theater, a new quad, and two new fields. All these plans and more will total an estimated price of $178 million, according to the Paly Master Plan approved earlier this month. But the catch is that Paly currently only has $98 million in bond money. As Paly forges ahead with the plans, with construction starting on the fields as soon as this summer, what will the future campus look like? Will the school end up with buildings without roofs because of a lack in funding? Or a campus full of half-completed and entirely unusable edifices? Among other concerns, the Paly community is reflecting on how to ensure that finances can support the completion of the construction. The Six-Stepped Plan The construction will be completed in six phases, with each phase encompassing a different part of the campus, according to the Palo Alto High School Master Plan. The construction for each phase will be started successively to ensure that some areas of the campus remain void of the disturbances that accompany the construction. The first phase includes new football stadium bleachers and the new multi-use field in place of the current baseball field. The El
• photography by natalie lin and tim qin Camino field will also be renovated with Astroturf in place of the grass that currently covers the field. New facilities such as dugouts, batting cages and scoreboards will added as well. “That will be awesome because the El Camino field is awful right now,” junior Oana Enache says. The second phase will include a new two-story classroom behind the math building, a new lab at the existing science building, a new media arts center and miscellaneous other facility improvements. The two-story classroom building is the most expensive project in the redesign plan, totaling $21.95 million. It will house both math and social studies classes and will feature offices, 24 classrooms, conference rooms and bathrooms. The new media arts center will bring together the various publications — which include Verde, the Campanile, the Viking, the Paly Voice, InFocus, Calliope, and yearbook — into one facility, along with video production and photography classes. Paly English teacher and Viking advisor Ellen Austin views the building as a vehicle for propelling Paly into the future of journalism. “I’m very excited,” Austin says. “It will be state of the art, leading the charge of new journalism as we move forward. My hope is that verde magazine 25
• Interim Housing $0.94 million • Football Stadium Bleachers $1.87 million • Multi-use Fields $2.49 million
Phase 2 • Classroom Building $21.95 million • Media Arts Building $10.68 million • New Lab at existing Science Building $0.79 million • Utility, Maintenance, and Infrastructure $3.28 million
it will bring Paly further into the ‘Next Newsroom’ concept, which emphasizes the convergence of various media.” Sophomore Dominic Al-Shamari, a member of InFocus, is excited about the unity that the new building will bring within the staff. “The best part is that we [the journalism students] will have our own building, and it will be easier to communicate and coordinate the shows,” Al-Shamari says. “Also, with a designated building, the overall feeling on the staff will be more positive.” The third phase includes a new 600-seat theater, some parking changes to maximize space, a new weight room, and renovation to the library. According to the Master Plan, a new building will connect the existing gym to the future second gym, with the weight room and fitness center attached to the connecting building. Librarian Rachel Kellerman is hoping that the structural architecture of the library will allow the design team to take advantage of the high ceilings and add a mezzanine on the second story, which would provide space for quiet individual work. “One thing kids need is more quiet study areas,” Kellerman says.
26 verde magazine
Phase 3 • New theater $16.34 million • Weight Room $6.88 million • Library renovation $9.35 million • Conversion of 300A Building to Lecture Hall $0.89 million • Embarcadero/El Camino entry/parking $3.91 million
“I don’t mind the idea of having the library be a social place, but we need to balance the needs of the community with the academic aspect of the library.” Kellerman also says that more natural light will be incorporated into the design of the renovated library. “I’m completely dedicated to getting the most we can out of the money [allocated towards the reconstruction],” Kellerman says. In the fourth phase, which includes the first part of the Tower Building renovations, there will be a new career technology building and renovations of the 100, 300, and 700 buildings. The new career technology building will replace the 900 building. The renovated Tower Building will feature an updated heating unit and water system. According to McEvoy, the renovations to this building were postponed until the fourth and fifth phases because other studentutilized buildings took priority. “The Tower Building houses mostly administration, and we always put students first,” McEvoy says. The fifth and sixth phases consist of renovations to the Haymarket
Phase 4 • Career Technology Building $11.86 million • Renovation to 100, 300 and 700 buildings $11.86 million • Renovation to the Tower Building Part One $7.91 million
• New gymnasium $12.89 million • Old gym modernization $2.73 million • Haymarket Theater renovation $7.95 million • Tower Building renovation Part Two $21.47 million
Theater, a new gymnasium and an expanded student center, along with other campus improvements. Junior Phillip Chen is enthusiastic about the new materials that will be included in the new theater. “I’m really looking forward to the new theater,” Chen says. “I was in theater freshman year, and I’m excited to see the new equipment.” The new gymnasium will have the capacity to hold between 1,800 and 2,000 students on the bleachers, which would potentially allow the whole student population to gather in one building. This phase also includes the second part of the Tower Building renovations. Assistant Principal Jerry Berkson says there is a possibility that the Haymarket theater will be made into a 150-seat lecture hall. However, these last two phases currently have no money to move ahead. Financing the Projects Berkson, a member of the Facilities Planning Committee, says there are several options for Paly in terms of how to fund the fifth and sixth phases. One such option would be to ask the Palo Alto Unified School District for a second bond in about 10 years. In order for the
• Student Center renovation $9.19 million • Center Campus site development (Quad) $3.91 million • Campus-wide modernization $7.03 million • Churchill Avenue entrance and parking $5.86 million • Miscellaneous site improvements $3.91 million
bond to pass, Palo Alto homeowners would need to agree to pay the extra tax that would fund the construction. McEvoy says that Paly could also raise some of the money through private donations. “It would be really great to find some major donors in the community,” McEvoy says. In order to modernize some of the larger projects, McEvoy is hoping that Paly will be able to get extra funding. “I’m really excited about the media arts center and the theater,” McEvoy says. “They offer brand new concepts and bring people together. We’re hoping to get additional funding to make them state of the art.” There is a possibility that financial aid from the Obama administration’s stimulus package will help Paly with construction costs, but Berkson says Paly is not dependent upon any additional funding outside of the second bond. “I don’t think anyone is counting on [money from] the Obama administration because we already have a good game plan,” Berkson says.
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Portable Invasion While the campus is under construction, some classes will be moved to 15 portables on the quad. Although $178 million may seem like an exorbitant amount of money to be spending on construction, Berkson says that the costs will be distributed over a large period of time. “The money is spread over a 20-year period,” Berkson says. If a situation arises in which the funds for a certain project are not concrete, then Berkson says that Paly will wait until the funding is firmly established before construction of the project starts. “We’re not going to start a project if we do not have the funding,” Berkson says. Berkson also anticipates that construction expenses will go down as the economy starts to improve. “We expect lower expenses because the economy is down, so there will be a lot of competitive bidding,” Berkson says. A Changing Campus Over the course of the early construction, many students will be moved to about 15 portable classrooms in the quad due to noise and safety concerns, according to Berkson. Many students have voiced their concern about the soon-to-be diminished amount of quad space. “The quad is a place to relax, and we need the open space,” senior Jay Nyugen says. “I love lying on the grass, feeling the wind breezing. We won’t be able to do that if the portables are in the way.” Chen is concerned that the reduced amount of space on the quad will cause an influx of students spending their lunch at Town and Country. “There will probably be more people at Town and Country and that might make the store owners more irritated at students,” Chen says. However, Berkson is confident that the portables will not cause a major disturbance on campus. “They [the portables] will be strategically placed,” Berkson says. “Within three years, they should be gone.” In some cases, Berkson says that portable classrooms offer certain amenities that can make them more desirable than regular classrooms. “I don’t see the difference between portable classrooms and regular classrooms,” Berkson says. “I think portables can be better than regular classrooms because they have an air conditioning unit.” 28 verde magazine
During this renovation, the widely used Academic Resource Center will be relocated to a different classroom on campus to ensure that students have a place to go to study with their peers and take make-up tests. “There will be a center open at all times [during construction],” Berkson says. When construction is completed, the new ARC will feature a larger test-taking center and more group study areas. ARC co-coordinator Noel Beitler expresses her gratitude that the administration has recognized the need for a larger space. “Given how widely used the ARC is, we need more of everything, from chairs to parent volunteers to more space,” Beitler says. “We’re so happy that the ARC is popular with students, and I’m sure the administration will make the right decision about its use and budget.” Additionally, changes will be made to the campus’ landscaping. The current redesign plan calls for many trees to be removed, but Berkson says that the overall number of trees on campus will stay the same. “For every tree that is taken out, there will be another tree put somewhere else,” Berkson says. Overall, junior Alexis Russell is enthusiastic about the new plans for Paly’s construction. “The construction is a good idea because the current classrooms are outdated, and we should have a place where people can enjoy themselves,” Russell says. Although some students may be apprehensive about the changes that will occur on campus, the community is generally supportive. “It was overwhelming that the community supports the decision,” McEvoy says. “Even people who don’t have kids in the system recognized that Paly is a high-quality school and deserves the remodel.” While input from the community is appreciated, Berkson says that the administration is most concerned with doing everything that is in the best interest of the students. “We’ve done our best to work with the community,” Berkson says. “Everyone has their own motives and causes, and we’ve tried to consider everybody’s opinions. But ultimately, we need to do what best for the students.” v
Climbing to New Heights text by kailey flather photograph courtesy of josh levin
aly junior Blake Tacklind loves to get high — so to speak. He loves the sensation and the adrenaline rushing through his body as he pulls himself far above the ground. Tacklind is a rock climber. A great one, in fact. Perhaps the greatest rock climber Paly has ever seen. Tacklind, who participates in several rock climbing competitions a year, won a national tournament for speed in 2005. The same year, he got eighth place at the Bouldering Nationals. Tacklind began rock climbing at the age of 10 when he joined a team at Twisters gym. Caitlin Brown, a Castilleja senior and one of Tacklind’s former teammates, recalls their long history of climbing together. “[Tacklind] is a strong climber, and now that he has grown, he has decent height advantage,” Brown says. “Other than that, the team generally teases him mercilessly. He sets himself up for it so well.” Tacklind has clearly developed a strong bond with his teammates. “Climbing is an awesome sport,” Tacklind says. “There is no real sense of competition, and everyone one wants everyone to succeed.” During the off season, Tacklind practices three times a week for two hours. However, during competition season, he competes almost every week. Tournaments usually last one to three days, and Tacklind has competed many times both on the east coast and in the midwest. Competition season is broken up into two series. The first series, American Boldering Series, is boldering, when the climber is low to the ground with no ropes. The second series is the Sport Climbing Series, which involves ropes and the possibility of climbing higher. “The ABS season is my favorite,” Tacklind says. Throughout the year, there are three seasons. In the summer there is the top ropes season, and in the fall and winter there is the boldering season. Both seasons go through Worlds, which is an event that took place last year in Sydney, Australia. No matter the season, Tacklind is constantly motivated to do his best. “Climbing is not about how fast you can go,” Tacklind says. “It is about how far you can get on a climb or how difficult of a climb you can do.” v verde magazine 29
30 verde magazine
text by caroline wang photography by amanda young
t was eating up my life and swallowing me whole. I was temptation would not haunt me. Ultimately, I found the diet to be never able to log on and JUST check my notifications and my fairly easy. There were no cravings; I kept myself busy and pretty inbox. Each time I logged on, I felt powerless to everything on much forgot about Facebook. Before I knew it, 30 days had passed Facebook; it was the ultimate procrastinating tool. You could say that since my last log in, and I broke fast. I had attained “supreme creeper” status, unwilling to log off until I Contrasting with my hypothesis, life did actually get better had viewed everyone’s new photos and status updates. Sometimes, after starting my diet. I recovered from the flu after five days, but I would even scroll through all of a “friend’s” 600 or more tagged continued my detox diet. I no longer felt that deep, guilty feeling photos…TWICE! from my daily indulgences in Facebook. Each day I worked on my Somehow, I convinced myself that Facebook was life. When my homework with less procrastinating and enjoyed that joyous sensation parents criticized Facebook, I defended it, saying that it allowed me to of feeling productive. However, my sleep schedule did not improve connect with everyone from summer camp. I also said that students much. Although, I admit these sleep statistics could be a little swayed often formed study groups on Facebook; therefore it benefitted my because my work load increased. I was also a little more out of the grades. But secretly, deep loop and latest gossip; I found down, I knew it was bad. myself constantly having It seemed that the more to remind others that I was homework I had, the longer refraining from Facebook. I would stay on. One night, “Did you see the pictures junior Naazneen Essabhoy from the party the other even yelled at me on Facebook night?” another student once chat. “GET OFF WANG,” asked me. she wrote. “GO DO YOUR “Uh no. I am on a HOMEWORK!” Yet, even Facebook diet. Remember?” after that, I stayed on for at “Oh. Hmm.” least another hour or two. However, I soon lost I could not control interest in this gossip. There my addiction. Where was were so many other hobbies Facebookaholics Anonymous? that I found more interesting “Ok, this is getting a little that my Facebook obsession out of control,” I told myself. lost a bit of its sparkle. After My grades could have been the 30 days though, I could described as “not so hot,” and I not help but log on again. was sleeping four to five hours After all, it was a diet, not a every night, even on weekends. True Love The old Caroline Wang found it difficult to log off complete abstinence. Finally, the lack of sleep caught Facebook. Since then, the addiction has been cured and her body Now, I am back (“Caroline is up to me when I fell sick with has been cleansed. BACK” was my first status), the flu in February. Resting in and boy there are some bed with an unbelievable headache and fever for multiple days (I have differences. There is a NEW Facebook! While just 30 days ago it had this fear about taking pain killers), I stopped caring about Facebook. been my addiction, something I was so used to that my fingers would I could not even get out of bed, let alone type my password on the sometimes automatically type www.facebook.com when I meant to computer. type a different address, I am unaccustomed to this new Facebook. “Well, maybe this is a sign,” I told myself. It was time for a little There are mysterious features such as “likes” and a new layout to experiment. After all, I was beginning to study for the SATs and my understand. Since I have returned, I have also been too lazy to check grades needed an overhaul. The question was: Would my life really the pile-up of messages in my inbox (there are still 16 left to check). be drastically different if I gave up Facebook for a while, or at least It is like I am a whole new Caroline. Where has the previous one limited my use? gone, the one who checked Facebook constantly and for long periods And so my detox diet began. I changed the home page of of time? Hopefully, she does not return. Hopefully, she stays a part of Firefox from Facebook to Gmail, so that each time I opened Firefox, the past, left behind like the old Facebook. v verde magazine 31
One senior’s journey from a regular Palo Alto life to preparing for the military
text and photography by silvia maraboli
t’s seventh period on a breezy Monday in April. Senior Will Holder is sitting in Paly’s training room, getting his wrist checked by Stacey Kofman, the school’s primary physical trainer, before he heads off to the locker room to get ready for baseball practice. He hops onto the worn, cushioned training table, and as Kofman massages his wrist, Holder glances around a room that is very familiar to him. Holder is no stranger to this part of campus; his four years of playing football, basketball and baseball at Paly have made him a regular in the locker room, weight room, and training room. But the start of Holder’s senior year meant much more than simply getting himself prepared for the upcoming football season; it also meant putting serious time and consideration into possible colleges for the following school year. Holder realized early on that he was attracted to the army as a possibility for his future and decided to look into a military academy instead of regular college. With a recruitment for football, a short application and a campus visit, it was easy for Holder to determine where he truly saw himself for the next four years of his life: the United States Military Academy at West Point. West Point’s good reputation was what first made Holder seriously consider the school. “What drew me to West Point was the fact that it is an unbelievable school and that if you can survive it, you’re set for the rest of your life because of the reputation it has,” Holder says. “It is known to breed America’s leaders in every aspect, whether it be sports or the biggest businesses, or the military.” 32 verde magazine
Located on a 16,000-acre reservation about 50 miles north of New York City, West Point was established in 1802 as the nation’s leading military academy. According to the academy, it has produced some of the country’s best military commanders, including General Ulysses Grant, General Robert Lee, General Dwight Eisenhower and General Douglas MacArthur. West Point prides itself on being “consistently rated among the top colleges” and was named the best public liberal arts college in the United States by US News and World Report, according to the college’s Web site. There was no doubt in Holder’s mind that West Point was the ideal college for him when he visited by invitation of the school. “They showed me around, and I loved it there,” Holder says. Holder was also considering Cal Poly San Luis Obispo as a possibility for next year, but decided that the military aspect of West Point was something he was ready to experience. “I have always wanted to experience the military, and I thought that going to get trained at the best military college in the world would be a good way to experience it,” Holder says. Aside from being a military academy, West Point offers 25 Division I sports. Holder, a two-sport varsity athlete at Paly, was recruited for football and will be playing on the military team. Life as a student at West Point varies greatly from that of a student at a regular college. Military life as a cadet is immersed into academics and athletics in an environment that is unique to the school. According to Holder, one needs to have a considerable amount of
discipline and a better work ethic to be able to endure the day-to-day life of a West Point student. “You have the military part in your daily life other than just athletics and academics, plus there are the little things like waking up early and getting yelled at all the time,” Holder says. “But you get used to that and once you learn to put it behind you, you become very successful.” As with any college, West Point has both its positive aspects and those that Holder is not especially looking forward to. “My favorite part of the school is that it teaches you to be a good leader and sets you up with a huge opportunity after the military,” Holder says. “I have to admit, though, I’m not entirely excited for the fact that I have to be really neat and disciplined all the time.” Life as a West Point cadet will take some adjusting to after 18 years of living with perpetual house rules. The day begins with a loud wake up call early in the morning, followed by several hours of marching. The cadets then attend normal academic classes. For Holder, his school day will end with a strenuous football practice. Another differing aspect of the college is the no-cost tuition. A cadetship includes a fully funded four-year college education, room, board, and medical and dental care. Students also receive an annual salary of around $6,500 to cover the cost of uniforms, books, a personal computer, and living incidentals, according to the academy. West Point admits 1,150 to 1,200 students each year as members of their new class in the cadet corps. Aside from being a competent candidate in academics, each applicant must also be of proper physical aptitude and medical qualification, and must be determined for strong leadership potential. They also must obtain a nomination from a member of Congress or from the Department of the Army. Holder, however, was exempt from this part of the application. “Because I play football, they have a Congress approval waiting
for me, so I didn’t have to go through that,” he says. After completing four years at the academy, the cadets go on to be appointed on active duty as commissioned officers and serve in the U.S. Army for a minimum of five years. All cadets are required to attend military boot camp and training over the summer, and incoming freshmen are no exception. Holder will be reporting to school on June 26, much sooner than his fellow seniors, to prepare for his new life of training for the military front. “We will be put through a basic training with a lot of physical training like obstacle courses,” Holder says. “They also teach us what we have to know around school, like how to wear your uniform and how to clean your rifle.” While this will be a very exciting time for Holder, it will also bring about some sadness and apprehension; Holder’s family is moving to Minnesota after he leaves for West Point. “I don’t know how often I’m going to get back and see everyone, so I kind of have to say my last goodbyes to everyone when I leave,” Holder says. “I’m not looking forward to that at all.” However, Holder is genuinely looking forward to the multitude of opportu—senior Will Holder nities that a West Point education will offer him and the people he will meet from all over the world. “It’s really nice because West Point recruits globally, so I get to meet people from all over,” Holder says. He has already been in contact with many of his future football teammates. “I got to meet some of my teammates when I went [to visit the school], and we keep in touch over Facebook,” he says. Holder stands back up as Kofman brings her checkup in the training room to a close. This baseball season marks the final sports season Holder will have at Paly before heading off to college. It is also the last season Holder will be wearing the Palo Alto Vikings’ green and white jersey, trading it in for the West Point Black Knights’ black and gold. v
“I have always wanted to experience the military, and I thought that going to get trained at the best military college in the world was a good way to experience it.”
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â€œ text and photography by whitney drazovich illustrations by emily wang
34 verde magazine
rogas … marijuana!” yells a teacher dressed in a police uniform. She holds up a plastic bag of crushed green powder for the startled audience. The culprit is immediately pushed up against the wall and patted down by the officer. When the police officer finishes, the offender turns around slowly, embarrassed by the sudden attention that he has drawn. He quickly returns to where his suitcase is being checked, gathers his things and hurries away from the customs booth. This is the first step of entering Spanish camp, a retreat for high school students that offers three days of complete Spanish immersion, according to Palo Alto High School Spanish teacher Kevin Duffy. The camp was developed by a group of foreign language teachers in 1973. The goal is to give high school students the same cultural and language assimilation that they would experience when traveling to a foreign country. As shown in the scene depicted, each student entering the camp goes through aduana or customs. In this introduction, all connections to the English-speaking world are severed. Students wait in line while teachers go through everyone’s bags one-by-one. Cell phones, iPods and English literature are confiscated for the weekend. To make sure that the customs process remains “fun,” teachers place fake drugs in random students’ suitcases, according to Duffy. “Going through the aduana is an abrupt, but hopefully fun, introduction for students that lets them know they’re passing into an all-Spanish-speaking environment,” says Duffy, who has been the director of the camp for the past seven years. High school and middle school students from all over the Bay Area are invited to attend the camp. Every year, about 10 students from each participating school are selected to go on the retreat. Although both Spanish and French camps are available to Paly, students only attend the Spanish weekend. This year, I attended the Spanish camp in March. I had not even heard of the camp until I was invited and then still had no idea what to expect. I had thought that since practicing Spanish was obviously the purpose of the trip, the camp would be set up like school, with maybe a little more singing and dancing. When I talked to the other students who had been invited, several considered the idea of spending a weekend speaking only in Spanish “lame,” saying that there were plenty of “better ways” to spend their time. Even so, I expected that a weekend of Spanish would be a great tool in aiding my improvement in the
language, so I decided to go. I was also curious to find out how exactly we could participate in only Spanish activities for two whole days. From that point on, I branded the weekend “Spanish Weekend of Fun,” alluding to the great time that I would be having without my other classmates who had “better things to do.” Prior to embarking on the trip, each student selects two activities in which he or she will participate. The list of activities includes dancing, arts and crafts, sports, games, cooking and a nature hike, all of which are directed by teachers. “Whatever you do, you are using different commands, verbs, or just participating in something while speaking that language,” Duffy says. Ten students attended the camp from Paly this year, representing the freshman, junior and senior classes. In the weeks before we went on the trip, all of us met in Duffy’s classroom at lunch several times. These meetings were not to go over the details of the upcoming trip, but to perfect our dance routine. Each school that attends the camp is required to choreograph a dance to a Spanish song and perform it for the rest of the schools. This year we chose David Bisbal’s Ave María, a great song for both dancing and singing. Except for the cheoreographed performance, Duffy was very secretive about what we were to be doing at the camp. The only information he provided us with prior to our departure was directions to the site and what to pack. As I was on my way to the weekend, I did not know what to except. But, from the moment that I pulled up to the camp, all signs, name tags and chatter suddenly seemed foreign. Duffy believes that complete assimilation is important for the experience of the camp. “The theory behind the camp is that students have a prolonged immersion experience,” Duffy says. “Traveling to Spanish speaking countries costs thousands of dollars, and this is an inexpensive alternative.” As the organizer of the camp, Duffy makes sure that everything runs smoothly throughout the weekend. He communicates with the other schools that participate, and he organizes all activities in advance. Although students do improve their language skills while at the camp, it is purposefully different from school. “We focus on communication; we don’t want it to be like school,” Duffy says. “It is all school-related, but not in an academic setting. It is all much more about socializing and being interpersonal.” Even though Duffy stresses the importance of the camp not being like school, a strict no-English policy is constantly enforced. If a teacher catches a student talking in English, the student is subjugated to go into la cárcel, or jail. While in the verde magazine 35
[spectrum] “I went home to do math homework and found myself writing Spanish words like ‘uno’ or ‘hola’ on the paper.” —Min Kim, Paly Junior
jail, the student has to recite a tongue twister for the entire camp. A key part of the camp is the interaction with different people. Students are separated into different “mesas,” or table groups, during the first night of camp; each table has people from all the Bay Area schools that attended. Before every meal, and also before splitting into activities, students meet with their groups. We eat, chat and sing with our new friends throughout the whole weekend. During meals, students are able to write postcards to their friends who are sitting at different tables. The postcards are in Spanish of course, and teachers act as mailmen delivering the messages before and after every meal. Paly junior Min Kim attended the camp twice, once as a freshman and again as a sophomore. When Kim first found out that she had been invited to the camp her freshman year, she was both excited and nervous. “I was really happy, but I was the only one who ended up going from my class,” Kim says. “I was the only freshman, and it was pretty intimidating.” The activities that the camp offered encouraged Kim to come back to the camp for the second time during her sophomore year. “Every year I learn new songs from camp,” Kim says. “I love my Spanish songs.” Singing is a primary component of the camp. At the beginning and end of meals, Duffy chooses a song and the camp belts it aloud together. I personally love singing, so 15 fun Spanish songs are great for me. Although some other students did not share my excitement at first, by the last day of the retreat, they too were joyfully singing and dancing. One song was so inspiring that Duffy and I decided to start a conga line. We encouraged all the other campers to join, forming a huge snake of both students and teachers dancing around the cafeteria. A main part of the camp is interacting and meeting students from other schools. There were about 70 campers in total, and each activity prompted people to make new friends and talk to more people. Not only did you work with people from your table, but the weekend included activities in which the whole camp participated. 36 verde magazine
“Many of the activities were established long ago by former camp teachers,” Duffy says. “They have become traditions, and lots of students enjoy those activities.” Of course, all activities are meant for students to have a good time. But, such simple activities as writing and singing in Spanish really help to improve your use of the language. After a day full of games, singing and other exercises, the teachers end Saturday night with a dance and fogata, or bonfire. For the Saturday night dance, all the lights in the cafeteria turn off and the sound system blasts the new music we have enjoyed throughout the day. Dance students then show off the new moves that they learned in their dance classes earlier in the day. When we all got tired of dancing, Duffy started an outdoor bonfire. The entire camp gathered around the fire and reminisced about the day. Kim also felt the exhilaration of the day that she had experienced. “It was one of the best days I’ve had,” Kim says. “The dance was great.” Overall, Kim also believes that the weekend helped her to gain fluency in the language. “After, my brain was wired in Spanish,” Kim says. “I went home to do my math homework and found myself writing Spanish words like uno or hola on the paper.” On the car ride home, I too had problems converting back to English. In science class the next day, I accidently shouted que chévere, or how cool, when the experiment we were doing worked. Spanish weekend of fun was in fact very fun and has inspired me to travel to new places. I feel that the weekend confirmed my level in the language; now I can actually communicate with no English if necessary. Not only did I truly improve my fluency of the language but I also met many nuevos amigos. Muchas gracias a Señor Duffy for putting so much time and effort into this weekend devoted to inspiring students. v
In the Crowd:
My perspective on Gavin Newsom’s town hall text by amanda young photography by caroline wang
have always been apprehensive about politicians, who seem to felt my mind wandering. He almost lost me until... “How can we make anybody feel safe in the LGBTQ constantly wear feigned smiles and hand out empty promises. So when Gavin Newsom, the mayor of San Francisco, walked into community?” a crowd-member asked. A faint smile spread across Newsom’s face as he heard the perfect the Paly small gym on April 1, with a grin radiating from his face and segueway into one topic with which he is most associated with. a declaration of his steady honesty, naturally I had my doubts. As Newsom made comparisons between the fight for gay “You may not always agree with me, but you will know where I marriage and the struggle for interracial marriage, he won me over. I stand,” Newsom said. “I have a strong value system that I stick to.” Most of the audience members gave a sign of approval by nodding couldn’t help but nod my head in agreement as he discussed Loving v. Virginia, the landmark Supreme their heads, but I felt myself Court decision that declared frowning a bit. So many politicians banning interracial marriages promised this; how could I know unconstitutional. that Newsom was genuine, and “One pastor claimed that that he would keep his promises? God disapproved of interracial Then Newsom looked at the marriages,” Newsom said. “He crowd and I felt my prejudice against said that was the reason why God politicians slowly disintegrating. separated people of different races He wouldn’t be able to lie to on separate continents.” He paused the audience, to me, right? I had as he let the words sink in, and the seen countless politicians vow to crowd groaned in disapproval. solve all of the world’s problems, an “We must stand up for impossible task, on TV. But now the rights of minority people,” that Newsom was looking directly Newsom declared. I wanted to into the eyes of me and my fellow stand up and yell “Yes!” because Palo Altans, I wondered whether he Newsom had connected with would, could, lie. Perhaps politicians travel to In the flesh I had the chance to watch San Francisco mayor me by echoing my views on gay rights. He ended the town hall on town halls to give speeches and Gavin Newsom speak in the Paly small gym. this call for social justice, and that have discussions with common townspeople to establish trust with voters. Newsom wanted to create was it. He won me over as his supporter. Perhaps what made this experience so profound, compared an atmosphere that would make people feel at home, and he wanted to connect with the crowd. Every handshake, every shoulder pat, and to sitting at home watching the event on TV, was that I could see every smile tried to woo us over and make us believe that he could the faint checkerboard pattern on his navy suit, the silver watch make our lives better; he was the only one who could fix the economy, glistening on his left wrist, and the gel keeping his light brown hair in place. Newsom was no longer a figure I had only heard about stop global warming and provide health care for all. But I remained determined not to fall for his act. I didn’t want through mainstream media. He was an American with dreams and to put my faith in Newsom and then feel like a fool if he failed to live aspirations, who wanted to make his mark on the world. When up to his promises. However, as he continued speaking, I could feel Newsom became real, so did the ideas he represented. Even after he myself becoming mesmerized by Newsom’s determination for justice. left the event, and only a scarce crowd remained in the gym, I could Would it be terrible if I were starting to warm up to him? He had a still feel the connection he had created with me, Amanda Young, a great resumé. San Francisco was one of the only cities in California 16-year-old high school junior. In hindsight, I realized that I did to agree to the Kyoto Protocol. As mayor, Newsom guaranteed a fall for his charisma, and some of my enthusiasm from that town four-year college education to more than 420 sixth graders in San hall has faded. However, even after the political spell wore out, I still support his platform and ideas, and now must learn more about Francisco. Despite his accomplishments, I remained a bit suspicious. As the other candidates so that I can make a wise decision in the 2010 Newsom discussed the economy, his remarks seemed repetitive, and I elections. v verde magazine 37
Palo Alto revolts against high-speed rail Historic Homes Houses on Mariposa Avenue alongside railroad
Environmental Benefit or a Berlin Wall?
text and photography by asha albuquerque
anet Peacock has resided in her terra cotta bungalow on Mariposa Avenue since 1965. She has watched the city metamorphose from a sleepy, suburban haven to a bustling hub of Silicon Valley. Although the state may seize a portion of Peacock’s property in order to construct a high-speed rail, which will run through Palo Alto, she does not regret her decision to approve the rail last November and remains a strong supporter of the project. However, Peacock is a lone wolf in her Southgate neighborhood. Many residents in her community are rallying against the project and the changes the project poses for Palo Alto. Although the rail will not be completed until at least 2020, already the rail is a dividing factor, forcing residents into fierce and passionate debate about the future and character of Palo Alto. According to the High Speed Rail Authority, the current Caltrain route is not wide enough to accommodate the two additional tracks needed for a high-speed rail. Consequently, many residents alongside Mariposa Avenue with backyards bordering the tracks are worried about potential government possession of their property under eminent domain. The Palo Alto City Council has held several meetings to discuss the impact of the rail since Proposition 1A was approved last November. The proposition provided $9.95 billion to fund a high-speed rail running from San Francisco to San Diego, a distance of about 800 miles. Many Palo Altans blame lack of information for their decision to support the ballot last November. Carly Weinstein, a Paly 2008 38 verde magazine
graduate and resident on Mariposa, concurs. “When I signed the ballot, I didn’t know that [the government] might bulldoze over my house,” Weinstein says. According to Rob Diridon, chairman emeritus of the High Speed Rail Authority, the project was made as transparent and as public as possible. “From 1996 to 2008, we had hundreds of scoping reports and formal public hearings to find out what the public wanted,” Diridon says. “We’re trying to do everything possible to have this completely visible so that there is opportunity for comment all along the way, and we’re trying to do this right.” According to Diridon, the scoping reports confirmed the Caltrain corridor between San Jose and San Francisco as the most feasible and economic route. The Palo Alto City Council has struggled to negotiate with the Authority. Rising tensions and concerns in the last few weeks contributed to the council’s decision to join a lawsuit that Menlo Park and Atherton are filing against the Authority. Palo Alto Vice Mayor Jack Morton feels overwhelmed and is racing to catch up with the Authority. “Seems to me they’re on an express train and we’re on a bicycle trying to catch up,” Morton says. Robert Cruickshank, a public policy director, is a strong supporter of the project as a beneficial change to the city. He views the council’s lawsuit negatively. “It’s a shame,” Cruichshank says. “Palo Alto has always been a
Envisioning the Rail Jim McFall’s designs based on information from the High Speed Rail Authority
Foresight McFall’s design of rail on Mariposa Avenue
Twin Tracks Proposed rail will have at least two additional tracks on Caltrain route.
leader in mass-transport and advocacy, and now that might change.” Major concerns are based on whether the rail will be elevated or tunneled through Palo Alto. Helen Sandoval, a Mariposa Avenue resident passionately believes that the rail should be tunneled and that the Authority should pay for it. “You don’t hold a dance and then have the guests pay for the food, the band and the clean-up afterward,” Sandoval says. Sandoval sees an elevated rail as the biggest potential graffiti magnet and eyesore the city has seen. Fred Hu, a Paly freshman and resident on Mariposa, also believes the route should be tunneled. “I think it’s a bad idea to put the rail above ground,” Hu says. “It will be really intrusive.” But according to a Stanford University report on the impact of the rail, tunneling could require significantly more capital, something that Palo Alto would likely have to provide. The planned route also might impede several historical landmarks in Palo Alto. El Palo Alto, the city’s namesake tree, rooted right next to Caltrain, has overlooked the peninsula for over a thousand years. Fortunately, Diradon believes the eventual engineering of the rail will likely traverse west of the tree. Jim McFall, an architect and leader of the Neighborhood Watch group in Southgate, is also concerned about the historic nature of his neighborhood. According to McFall, many of the houses on Mariposa were constructed in the early 20th century. In addition, the
downtown train station, designed in a streamlined modern style and constructed over 65 years ago, could also be obstructed. Aaron Rudolph, a junior at Paly, believes that aside from environmental incentives, the high-speed rail will have additional benefits for the Californian economy. “Service projects and public works were historically shown to aid the economy, especially in the Great Depression,” Rudolph says. Regardless of the eventual engineering of the route, the proposed project has multiple impacts and effects now. According to an accountant on Mariposa, who wishes to be anonymous for privacy reasons, even the planning stage of the project is affecting his real estate value. “I can’t sell my house now, and I don’t think the rail will be a benefit unless you want to go to Disneyland,” he says. “The city is more valuable as it is now, as a quiet community.” Peacock is also worried about how the rail will change the character and identity of Palo Alto. “The train will separate the city,” Peacock says. “It will be just like the Berlin wall out there.” However, high-speed rail supporter Cruikshank believes that ultimately the rail will be a necessary and positive change for Palo Alto. He infers that much of the project opposition is rooted in concerns that Palo Alto is changing too much, too fast. “There are a lot of people who don’t want change,” Cruikshank says.“They want to keep things the way they are, even though it is not possible nor desirable.” v verde magazine 39
Combat boredom and rediscover the hidden treasures of the Peninsula text and photography by ryan flanagan
nyone who has been a teenager in Palo Alto is well acquainted with boredom. That doesn’t mean that Palo Alto is not a great place to live or even that it is, well, boring. In fact, it is home to a wide variety of fantastic activities just waiting to be enjoyed. The only problem is finding them. So instead of giving up and spending another weekend parked in front of the television or surfing Facebook for hours on end, here are a few places to go and things to do, whatever your interests and budget may be. It’s not half-bad out there, so put down the remote control and discover your own hometown. v
f you are in the mood for some crazy late-night fun, then “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” could be exactly what you are looking for. This 1975 cult classic — the longest running midnight movie of all time — plays at 11:55 p.m. the first Saturday of every month locally at the Guild Theater in Menlo Park. A musical parody of oldtime Hollywood horror flicks, “Rocky Horror Picture Show” is anything but tame. But the movie itself is only half the fun. At every show, a “live cast” — “Rocky Horror” devotees who dress up for the shows — performs each scene right along with the movie. Audience participation is encouraged throughout the film, as are costumes, so come prepared with props and don’t be afraid to dress up. A full list of props is available at the Official Rocky Horror Picture Show Fan Web site: http://www.rockyhorror.com/participation/proplist.php. The next viewing will take place May 2. Admission is $8. v 40 verde magazine
[viewpoint] f you’re ready to try a more refined experience, look no further than the Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University. Entrance is free for the Cantor Arts Center, which is open Wednesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. This museum is home to the largest collection of Rodin sculptures outside of Paris. Many of these works are on display in the Sculpture Garden, which is open at all hours. Even for those uninterested in art, these huge works of art, including The Gates of Hell, are definitely worth checking out. The current indoor exhibition, Pop to Present, features American art going back to the 1960s and will be on display through Aug. 16. One look at sculptor Robert Arneson’s handmade toilets, entitled His and Hers, will make the trip worthwhile. ant to take part in a time-honored Stanford tradition? Whip out your swimsuit, grab a pool noodle and a beach towel and go fountain-hopping. The 12 fountains scattered throughout Stanford campus offer a kooky way to beat the heat without paying to get into a public pool. Fountain-hoppers can choose a single fountain to swim in or go for a marathon, taking a dip in each one. Don’t worry: the water is clean, relatively speaking, but make sure to wear plenty of sunscreen. Beware: most fountains are located in the middle of campus, so fountain-hopping is not a private affair. If you get embarrassed easily, this may not be the greatest choice for you. Finally,
h, the great outdoors! Palo Alto is filled with beautiful parks and hiking spots, and perhaps best of all, they’re absolutely free! A long-time local favorite, the “Stanford Dish” is located at the edge of the Stanford campus, at the intersection of Junipero Serra Boulevard and Stanford Avenue. Complete with paved paths, this 3.7-mile loop is the perfect place for jogs and walks, although bikes and dogs are not allowed. Be ready for a workout: the Dish has big hills and lots of them, and everyone is sure to feel the burn. The Dish offers scenic views of native Californian wildlife, including hawks, deer, and rabbits. The Dish is open between sunrise and sunset; hours throughout
security is not an issue — fountain-hopping on Stanford campus is by no means against the rules, according to Stanford freshman Alexa Jones. “It’s completely legal. You can see people doing it all the time, at night and during the day. You definitely won’t get in trouble for fountain-hopping, so there’s nothing to worry about.” v
the spring and summer are 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Parking (along Stanford Avenue) can be difficult, so get there as early as possible. The Dish does not have any bathrooms either, so take care of business beforehand or be prepared for a long, uncomfortable experience. he Baylands Nature Preserve stretches over 1,940 acres, the largest piece of undisturbed marshland in the San Francisco Bay. The area is known for its great bird watching, and there are benches and wildlife observation platforms along all 15 miles of trails. Dogs and bikes are welcome, which is a plus, but the trails can get stinky at low tide, so watch out. If hiking isn’t your thing, you can always visit the Lucy Evans Baylands Nature Interpretive Center. In addition to being chock full of information about the natural history and ecology of the Baylands, this place is taxidermy heaven. Stuffed birds and rodents may sound creepy, but it’s actually pretty fascinating. oothills Park is only open to Palo Alto residents. The park is home to 15 miles of hiking trails, and Park Rangers offer free nature talks upon request, which are informative if a bit corny. Picnic areas come complete with tables, barbeques, and running water, and as far as public bathrooms go, the facilities at Foothills Park aren’t half bad. Fishing is only permitted with a license, but canoes are available to rent beginning May 1, the same day overnight campgrounds become available. Camping out in tents is a blast, but the campsites get reserved for weekends quickly, so try to plan trips as far in advance as possible. Bring plenty of bug spray unless you want to be eaten alive. v verde magazine 41
JN by Jenny 650.799.1704 1600 Sand Hill Road Palo Alto, CA 94304 (Oak Creek Spa) Gift Certificates Available
Behind the Badge
Crossing the thin blue line to find another man just trying to do his job.
text by ally messick photography by julia singleton
verde magazine 43
was exactly where my mother never wanted me to be — sitting in a police car, two feet away from a man with a gun. Palo Alto Police Officer, Dan Ryan effortlessly carried on the conversation while focusing on the road ahead. His dark blue uniform contrasted against the light interior of the police car as we drove the streets of downtown Palo Alto. The passing pedestrians did not even attempt to hide their looks of apprehension and curiosity; some even stopped in their tracks to give a robotic wave and over-exaggerated smile.
y interest in the Palo Alto police began when Ryan contacted Letitia Burton, my living skills teacher, to see if she would be interested in having him talk with the class. With the controversial racial profiling comments made by the city’s chief of police a few months ago it had not been a very good year for Bay Area cops. The Palo Alto police were hoping to improve community relations by talking with high school students, Burton said. As soon as Burton made the announcement of his visit, I could see the mixed reactions among my peers. While most classmates were interested in meeting a police officer, some acted as if they were about to encounter the enemy. The truth of the matter is that no teenager, very few adults even, wants to be put in a position where a cop is needed. Ryan joked that when people call 911, it is the same number for the police and the fire department, but everyone loves the 44 verde magazine
firefighters. “When people interact with cops, they’re not exactly having a great time,” Ryan says. “No one ever calls a cop up to say, ‘Hey, I just wanted to say I’m having a great day today!’” The man who stood in Burton’s classroom was definitely not what we were expecting: instead of a menacing cop, there stood an average blue-collared guy in a button-down shirt and slacks. He and the class bonded as he answered all of the students’ questions. The topics of marijuana, sex and drinking were especially popular. Yes, it was illegal for two 15-year-olds to have sex. No, there is no quota for tickets he has to give per day. It was nice to have the opportunity to ask a cop the questions that we had always wondered. As time flew by, I realized how little I knew about police or the law. Still, outside the class, the kids who I talked to who did not get to meet Ryan
had few pleasant comments to say about the Palo Alto police. Most Palo Alto cops were either racist, lazy, or just plain mean, they said. Before I came to my own conclusions, I decided that I still needed to do some of my own investigating.
hen I met Ryan again two weeks later, he was different from how I remembered. As soon as he entered the police car, I saw that his uniform affected more than his appearance, as his funny and easy-going demeanor slowly dissolved. He was like an actor stepping into his serious, tough, no-nonsense persona. Ryan explained that his attitude was not meant to frighten people, but was a psychological armor that cops put on. “Since we never know what’s going to happen next, we need to be ready for anything,” he told me. “Cops call it ‘fierce command presence.’” As we drove, the cars ahead of us slowed and drivers who had the right of away quickly played what he called the waving game, all saying, “no, I insist you go first.” No one wanted to be in front of cop. It was easy to see why teens and adults alike do not know how to act around police; no one wants to be the person who got caught doing something wrong. Surprisingly, Ryan’s explanation of how to
“We don’t want to answer those fatal calls late at night. Our goal is for every Palo Alto kid to make it to adulthood.” — Officer Dan Ryan, Palo Alto Police Department
interact with police was simple enough: cops are human. “Interact with us the way you would act with a teacher,” he says. “Treat us with respect. Don’t come off with an attitude.”
Ryan explained that cops do not focus on catching teenagers, but instead target behavior. Behavior attracts attention. “We really would treat an adult and a teenager the same,” Ryan says. “Teens have predictable types of behavior. When we see a group of teenage guys behind a bowling ally with the windows rolled up, we know they’re not just listening to the ball game. Sometimes we know it’s just kids being kids. I feel most Palo Alto police have appropriate discretion.” Driving down University, I started to complain to Ryan about the law that forbids teens to drive with other teens for their first year of driving. It is wasteful to take two separate cars to go somewhere; Al Gore would be disgusted. Ryan responded with statistics about teen driving: how it is scientifically proven that kids get into more accidents when they are in the car with other teens. He then went on to talk about a Henry M. Gunn High School student who died last year after hitting a tree while driving. “We don’t want to answer those fatal calls late at night,” Ryan says. “Our goal is for every Palo Alto kid to make it to adulthood. It seems that we just want to spoil the fun, but we really are just trying to protect kids.” Soon, disappointment started to sink in as I realized that Ryan’s job was far different from what I had seen on TV. He never drove
job was not filled with the 24-7 excitement I had imagined. Maybe that is what feeds into the stereotype that Palo Alto police have nothing to do. Most people have seen the police reports in the Palo Alto papers along the lines of “suspicious package turns out to be a ham sandwich.” It would be amusing if it was not so pathetic that police actually had to look into those kinds of calls. Ryan explained that because the Palo Alto Police Department has a large staff, they have more time to look for and prevent crime. Palo Alto has such a low crime rate because the police are looking for the next crime to be committed. It really is hard for police to do ‘nothing.’ Just by driving around, the police encourage the cars around them to go slower. As for that stereotype of the menacing cop, Ryan insists that ‘bad’ cops don’t really survive in Palo Alto because the police officers’ level of involvement and education here is so high. “We really do take all of our complaints seriously,” Ryan says. “We would hear about any cops that had a bad reputation.
t was the end of our ride, and in barely half an hour it seemed that Ryan had addressed every stereotype in the book.
without even meaning to: He really is just a normal guy who comes home to a wife and kids. While I can honestly say that he and the other officers I talked with, including the temporary chief of police, could not have been more helpful, that does not mean all Palo Alto police are perfect. It does not mean there aren’t any racist, lazy, or hot-headed cops on the staff. But do know, I haven’t found one yet. I learned that cops, just like in any profession, have an array of different personalities. If one teacher is unsupportive does that mean that all Paly teachers do not care about their students? To say that all cops are racists or jerks is as equally harmful as to say all men wearing do-rags are criminals. Ryan generously offered to give me a ride home, suggesting we take a ride some time next week. “I’ll take you out when it’s exciting on a Friday night. We’ll see some action.” It really did not matter that he was the communications officer; even Sean Penn could not fake this amount of underlying passion for his career or genuine enthusiasm in helping people. We pulled into my driveway at the same time as my sister’s friend. Seeing me step out of the police car, he greeted me with some befitting confusion.
2 4 1 3 around with a partner making witty jokes, rarely went on high-speed chases, and only occasionally ate glazed doughnuts. It seemed that his life was mostly paperwork, filing police reports, and answering questions. His
1] Each police car has its own personal computer, GPS system, and two-way radio. 2] The police station downtown functions as Palo Alto police headquarters. 3] The station holds all the police cars and motorcycles. 4] Officer Ryan and I patrolled the streets with a vigilant eye.
Ryan probably got his title as communications officer because he knows how to answer questions and was most likely picked to talk to our class because he is personable and friendly. Still, Ryan proved something
“What did you do?” he asked. As I walked into my house and down put my little pocket book, I realized that after all that I just committed a crime: I had accidentally stolen Ryan’s fountain pen. v verde magazine 45
text by amanda young photography by amanda young art by caroline young
As the Obama administration enters new relations with Iran, one woman shares her story of living during the Iranian Revolution. 46 verde magazine
s Lisa Radcliffe stood in line with her husband and baby son at the airport security at the Tehran Airport in Iran, all she could think about was getting on the plane back to the U.S. Radcliffe had waited for hours, and she anxiously wondered what was holding up the line, fearing detainment, or even death. She fingered the fabric over the $100 bill sewn in her pants, and she nervously thought of the American passport hidden inside the bag of dirty diapers she carried in her hand. Radcliffe prayed that the airport security would not find these objects, and prayed for her life. “I knew something was fishy,” Radcliffe says. “But I didn’t know what was going on.” She pinched her son, who began crying loudly, and then spilled a bag of pecans on the ground, causing the guards to swear at her loudly in Farsi for the disturbance. “The guards started yelling at me to get out, so we ran onto the airplane,” Radcliffe describes. “I didn’t start breathing until then.” Radcliffe, step-mother of Palo Alto High School junior Jared Beeson, recounts this story as she sits in Peet’s Coffee 27 years later. She fits into the atmosphere of the café with her cotton purple jacket, blue jeans, and Converse sneakers, which complement her downto-earth personality. Nobody would be able to guess from her appearance what she lived through during the Iranian Revolution, the period when Iranians revolted against their king, the Shah. Radcliffe flew through the heart-thumping and sometimes lifethreatening experiences with a nonchalance that she now laughs about. However, she also understands the significance of her experiences. This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Iranian Revolution, and the Obama administration has begun encouraging diplomacy with Iran. As our nation stands on the verge of entering a new era of American relations with Iran, Radcliffe’s story can remind Americans of the history of misconceptions they had of Iranians, and how this prejudice tarnished U.S. and Iranian relations. Radcliffe chuckles as she remembers the airport security scare and how she barely escaped danger. “I was like the Forrest Gump of the 70s and 80s,” Radcliffe says as she shakes her head to herself. She leans forward, her bright blue eyes peering over the frames of her red glasses.
“I would routinely stumble into situations that could have been dangerous, but I was too stupid to realize it,” Radcliffe says, incredulous of her own ignorance. “I just had this view, like, ‘Oh OK I’ll get my friend out of jail,’ and ‘Oh OK I’ll be a U.S. delegate.’ I had no idea that there was so much danger involved.” In the late 1970s, Iranians were unhappy that the Shah was acting as a political puppet for the U.S., a non-Muslim country, and that Western culture had begun to contaminate Iranian culture. The Shah left in January 1979, but turmoil and chaos in the country still remained. As Radcliffe remembers this era of turmoil, when revolutionary leaders fought back and forth for power, she waves her hands in the air and as she leans in, her fringe bangs fall forward. “One day at work, all the conservatives would come in and say, ‘All you Americans are fired,’” Radcliffe says. “The next day, they would all come in and say ‘Oh, we were just kidding. It’s OK.’ It was a constant back and forth between sides.” Radcliffe forms fists with her hands and moves them back and forth, demonstrating the fluidity of the political system in Iran. Hadj, Radcliffe’s ex-husband whose last name has been withheld because his security may still be threatened, supported Abolhassan Banisadr, a nonreligious Iranian revolutionary, and was one of the original founders of a student group in the U.S. that wanted to overthrow the Shah. Radcliffe moved to Iran in the spring of 1978, just before the Shah fled. Heather Cronrath, whom Radcliffe considers her closest friend, remembers finding out that Radcliffe would move to Iran. “This was not surprising because it was Lisa,” Cronrath says. “She is the most confident and able person I have ever met.” Before moving to Iran, Radcliffe had always been very involved in protests and movements at the University of California at Berkeley, where she was a college student. “I was involved in the left movement, but people romanticized the concept of revolution,” Radcliffe says. “When I lived in Iran, I found out quickly that a revolution was the smells of burning tires and the sounds of gun shots. It was not a game.” At the time of her move, many Americans believed that Iranians were anti-American, but Radcliffe says that this was not true. Still frustrated by these fallacious beliefs, Radcliffe throws her hands up in the air. “Even a peasant in Iran understood that there was a difference between a country and its people,” Radcliffe says. “All the Iranians wanted was the U.S. to stay out of Iranian internal affairs.” Radcliffe greatly influenced Cronrath’s views of Iranians. “Lisa personalized the Iranians for me,” Cronrath says. “I began to see the Iranians as human beings.” An experience with an American reporter lit the passion that Radcliffe had for showing people the true Iranian opinion of Americans. After the U.S. embassy seizure in November 1979, verde magazine 47
“ “I found out quickly that a revolution was the smells of burning tires and the sounds of gun shots. It was not a game.” her fellow American friends were standing outside of Tehran University when an American reporter began broadcasting. “The reporter said, ‘I am in front of the Tehran University where fervent antiAmerican hysteria is all around me,’” Radcliffe says. She pauses to let these words sink in. “I marched up to him and said, ‘You need to stop that right now.’ We started fighting in front of the university.” While Radcliffe yelled at the reporter, trying to explain that Iranians did not hate Americans, she impressed a nearby Iranian student with her keen understanding of the Iranians. He asked Radcliffe to speak to some people, and of course Radcliffe agreed. “He took me to a lecture hall in Tehran University and … I gave an impromptu speech to 1,200 people,” Radcliffe says, laughing as she remembers this situation. “I would just fall into these kinds of situations.” Radcliffe had a natural talent for speech-making, and her frustration at the American views of Iranians led her to begin public speaking. She traveled across the U.S. speaking on public access television, local radio stations, attending private parties and giving presentations. “I never pretended to be objective,” Radcliffe says. “Right at the beginning of my speech, I would say, ‘I am here to change your mind about Iranians.’” Radcliffe also changed the opinions of Beeson, her step-son, and gave him a new perspective on the Iranian Revolution and the Middle East. “Most Americans view people from the Forrest Gump Lisa Radcliffe tended to fall into many dangerous situations, like ForMiddle East negatively,” Beeson says. “Since rest Gump, while living in Iran during the revolution. Her experiences have shaped Lisa [Radcliffe] spent so much time there, who she is and have given her a unique perspective on Iranians. “I got to live hisshe has a different viewpoint.” tory,” Radcliffe says. However, not everyone appreciated Radcliffe’s unorthodox views. Radcliffe “After every speaking engagement, people would come up to me frequently received death threats while on her speech tour from people and say, ‘You changed my mind,’” Radcliffe says, nodding her head. who disagreed with her, so bodyguards followed her everywhere. As an American, Radcliffe had always felt safe in Iran. She Despite the risk to her personal safety, Radcliffe remembers the describes herself as a “blue-eyed, blonde, tall woman walking around speechmaking tour fondly because of the impact it had on people’s Tehran wearing hippie clothes” and remembers people being very perceptions of Iran and Iranians. kind to her. However, after the Shah was overthrown, great turmoil 48 verde magazine
[spectrum] “People have no idea what it’s like living in a country where people can shoot you if they don’t like you.” erupted and Radcliffe began feeling unsafe as the government became more oppressive. Radcliffe takes a sip of her iced tea and leans back in her chair. “I never felt in danger from regular people, just from the government. My experience in Iran taught me first and foremost a respect for the Constitution of the United States. People have no idea what it’s like living in a country where people can shoot you if they don’t like you.” Radcliffe was impressed by how well Iranians handled the tyrranical government. “It was hard living under oppression, but the Iranians are so resilient,” Radcliffe says. “Iranians learn to bounce back. It’s part of their heritage.” Radcliffe learned to fight back in her own ways, too. A smile creeps onto her face as she remembers her own rebelliousness. “I wrote little summaries of international news, stuck them in a manila folder, and dropped them into a garbage can,” Radcliffe says. “By ‘magic’ they would be translated into Farsi and published in leftist underground newspapers, because by this time, the government had shut down all opposition threats.” Even though she put herself at a great risk, Radcliffe understood the importance of revealing the truth to the world. “People needed to know,” Radcliffe says. Her light brown bangs with faint grey highlights shift slightly on her forehead, and she places her hands on the table in front of her. “I created my own risk, but I thought that the risk was minimal.” Cronrath never worried too much about Radcliffe, despite the dangers that Radcliffe faced. “At that age, people see dangerous situations as adventurous,” Cronrath says. “I didn’t worry too much about her because I knew that she could talk her way out of anything.” Even though Radcliffe learned to adapt to the unstable government, she began to feel even more danger encroaching upon her life. A picture of Radcliffe giving a speech at Tehran University from a few years before caught the government’s attention. “Someone from the government came up to my front door with a picture of me, coming to arrest me,” Radcliffe says. “But by that time, I was wearing traditional Iranian headscarves and clothes, and I had lost 60 pounds. The guy asks me if I’d seen Lisa Radcliffe, and I told him, ‘Oh, I think that she left the country.’” Accustomed to these types of experiences, Radcliffe shakes her head and says, “I dodged another bullet.” However, this experience reinforced her desire to leave the country. When her son was born in the spring of 1982, Radcliffe wanted to get him inoculated, and she convinced Hadj, her thenhusband, to travel back to the U.S. with her. Little did they know that the day before their departure, Banisadr had fled the country, and the Iranian government was looking to execute Banisadr’s supporters,
including her and her family and friends. After the situation at the airport with security, Radcliffe arrived back in the U.S., where she received a phone call saying that the government had arrested all of her friends. “The reason why the government didn’t arrest my husband and me was because they knew it would tip off everybody else, and they would scatter,” Radcliffe says. The Iranian government held a trial for Radcliffe’s friends, but Radcliffe describes this trial as a “sham.” “ABC news thought that this trial showed that Iranians were moving towards due process of the law, but this was all false,” she says. “My friends were all executed a couple of days later. Every single one of them was shot.” Her jaw tightens and she shakes her head as she remembers the pain of losing her friends. “It was terrible,” Radcliffe says. “Absolutely horrible.” Radcliffe’s time in Iran was a series of ups and downs, much like the state of the Iranian government. Before leaving Iran, she burned all of her pictures to protect the people in the photos and to not implicate others, so the only tokens from Iran she possesses are the impalpable memories that lie inside her. “I have learned that democracy is a learned political system,” Radcliffe says. “Democracy is a huge gift, and it’s a treasure that needs to be protected. I’ve also learned that you cannot see politics as static. It is a living, breathing organism.” Cronrath saw that Radcliffe gained a new appreciation for the U.S. after living in Iran. “After people live outside the U.S., they realize what’s good about this country,” Cronrath says. As Radcliffe thinks about the future, she cannot help but smiling at the mention of Barack Obama, the new president who has promised to try to open up relations with Iran. “I’m so happy,” Radcliffe exclaims. “This is fabulous because the Iranian people want relations with Americans. Iranians have some of the brightest minds, and if we look at what we have in common with them, instead of isolating the differences, we could work together as an important force in the Middle East.” Radcliffe believes that Americans must change the attitude they have against the Middle East for a strong relationship to grow between Iran and America. “We must have cultural sensitivity,” Radcliffe says. “Before, our biggest problem was that we thought that America was the best. Americans need to abandon their inherent distrust of people in the Middle East.” As Radcliffe wonders if she will ever go back to Iran, she gazes up at the ceiling with a hazy look in her eyes. “Some day, maybe I’ll go back,” Radcliffe says. She pauses, and then reaffirms this statement with a smile slowly spreading across her face. “Some day.” v verde magazine 49
Why both Chris Brown’s and Rihanna’s actions are unacceptable text by shoshana gould art by emily wang
nless you have been living under a rock for the past two months, you have certainly heard about singer Chris Brown’s alleged attack on his celebrity girlfriend, Rihanna. According to the official police report, Brown punched her in the face, bit her left ear and told her, “I really am going to kill you.” A few weeks after the incident, I remember feeling shocked when I read online that the couple had supposedly gotten back together — that after suffering from numerous cuts and bruises, Rihanna had taken Brown back. Numerous reports soon surfaced the Web, claiming the couple was spending time together in Miami Beach. It is never OK for a man to hit a woman; there is never a justifiable reason. At 19, Brown is just a year older than many Paly seniors. Of course he is going to mess up. Everyone does. But what he did is unacceptable and inexcusable. Even though Brown does not believe he deserves a punishment — on April 6 he pleaded not guilty to threatening and assaulting Rihanna — Brown should face serious consequences for his actions. In some great way, Brown must apologize to his fans (and people everywhere) for his mistakes. But Rihanna, too, must step up to the plate and explain her actions. There is a very good chance that Rihanna only thought about herself when she made the decision to get back together with Brown. It’s her life, her choice. But even if she does not feel that her actions are important to anyone but her, they are. She may have not wanted to be a role model when she began her music career, but that position comes with the occupation. And as someone who markets to young girls, Rihanna is setting a poor example for her many fans. By taking Brown back, Rihanna is inadvertently saying that it is OK for men to hit women. And while many realize that that is never OK, there are girls who disagree, who think that — depending on the situation — domestic abuse is acceptable. On March 19, the New York Times published an article entitled “Teenage Girls Stand by Their Man.” The writer of the piece interviewed a handful of teenage girls, asking them their opinions of the alleged assault. Shockingly, most defended Brown’s actions, saying the Rihanna gave Brown a reason to hit her, and that Rihanna
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went too far when she called the police. One even said, “She probably feels bad that it was her fault, so she took him back.” Some say that people looking up to Brown and Rihanna as role models is an issue in and of itself. They say that kids shouldn’t be looking up to celebrities to set a good example. Instead, they should look up to parents, siblings, relatives, teachers, etc. Regardless, Brown and Rihanna are role models to thousands of young people. And they know that. A month after the alleged attack happened, Brown withdrew himself from two Kids Choice Awards categories. If he didn’t think that what he did was a big deal, he would have kept his name in. It makes no sense that Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps got dropped from numerous contracts for smoking pot, while Brown is suffering much less for assaulting his girlfriend. Why is it more acceptable to gravely injure someone than to smoke pot with a group of friends? Additionally, there are some kids who don’t have anyone in their lives to look up to. Instead of “regular” people, they choose to follow celebrities’ lives, looking for clues as to how they should behave. Undoubtedly, there are kids in that situation who idolize Brown and Rihanna, and who now are led to believe that either beginning an attack or staying in an abusive relationship is acceptable. For some, having a celebrity as a role model is inevitable. The amount of media attention placed on these young public figures has increased drastically in recent years, undoubtably causing more and more young kids to admire people they don’t actually know. Not every detail of this situation has been released to the public yet. No one, besides Brown and Rihanna, knows exactly what caused him to hit her, or if this has ever happened in their relationship before. But what is clear to everyone — or what should be clear — is that what happened between the two singers is something completely unacceptable, and both should understand that their actions stand for more than just their own values. As the victim in this situation, Rihanna has an opportunity to make a true difference. She can redeem herself by quickly beginning to talk about her experience, the lessons she has learned and how the situation has changed her life. v
English teacher James Hanmer allowed Verde an exclusive look into his office. Here are his favorite items: text and photography by shoshana gould reporting by megan mitchell
Cool Cat: Hanmer proudly displays his beloved toy cat, gas mask and Viking helmet. “I use the cat as a prop in plays,” he says.
Safety First: “This is in case someone throws gas around Paly,” Hanmer says. “But it probably doesn’t even work.” It’s a Bromance: Hanmer and Mr. McNulty pose during spirit week. “This is the only time you’ll see Mac in a tuxedo,” Hanmer says. “Enjoy!”
Bombs Away: “It’s a real one, but not a real one,” Hanmer says. “It’s not going to explode on us.” verde magazine 51
Paly students cross social barriers into the realm of sports played by the opposite sex.
wo opponents circle each other with knees bent and weight forward, their feet slapping against the wrestling mat. Boys look on from the sidelines, and boys wait on a bench for their turn on the mats. The atmosphere is decidedly masculine. Nonetheless, one of the two wrestlers in the center of the room is a girl. Celeste Woods, a Paly freshman, decided to wrestle on the junior varsity team this year despite the scarcity of other girls in the sport and the reactions of her friends and family. Woods is one of about 5,000 American
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girls who participate in wrestling at the high school level compared to over a quarter million boys, according to the Female Single Combat Club, a Web site covering all types of women’s combat. The difference between those numbers reflects the stigma associated with female athletes in sports commonly seen as masculine. At 109 pounds, it was difficult for Woods to find opponents in her weight class because there were so few girls in the sport. Consequently, she often wrestled much heavier boys. She frequently changed alone in the girls’ locker rooms at
text and photography by sarah jacobs art by emily wang
tournaments because she was the only girl on the team. Even though there has been progress over the past several decades to make sports less gender-specific, it is still relatively rare to find people who actually play sports commonly considered for the opposite sex. The social pressure is very real, according to Judith Wilson, a psychologist at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation. Woods says she sometimes cried at practice from the frustration and physical exhaustion. Wrestling was entirely new to her, and in fact she had been a cheerleader in middle school. “I had to learn as I went along,” Woods says. “I had to tell myself not to give up. I didn’t want to let myself down.” People aren’t used to watching girls and women in combat sports such as football, wrestling, or hockey. Sports with face-to-face competition or open aggression are considered unacceptable for girls, according to Michael Messner, a sociologist at the University of Southern California. Society is uncomfortable watching women playing sports with a great deal of physical contact and competition. It was especially difficult for Woods when she first joined the wrestling team. “I remember the first two days I could feel the attention, like ‘She’s not going to make it’,” Woods says. As a general rule, according to Eleanor Metheny, a researcher at Iowa State University, women
[spectrum] can only participate in traditionally women’s sports without fear of “It’s 10 times harder [as a girl] because criticism. people are expecting you to fail, and not “My friends made jokes,” Woods says. “Why are you everyone agrees with what you’re doing.” wrestling instead of shopping? And — Celeste Woods, my family couldn’t understand why Paly freshman I wanted to wrestle.” Dancing, figure skating, swimming, and riding horses — these sports have traits considered feminine, like grace and attractiveness. They’re usually aesthetically pleasing and focus on appearance, according to a 2003 study by Michelle Visio and Brenda Riemer of Eastern Michigan University. Woods experienced this firsthand. “It’s 10 times harder [as a girl] because people are expecting you to fail, and not everyone agrees with what you’re doing,” Woods says. Wilson says that the social pressure for men is the same if not even more oppressive. Men constantly fear being seen as feminine and are therefore forced Not Pinned Yet Celeste Woods insists that her time as a to play sports that represent their wrestler was a great experience, despite the hardships. masculinity in order to feel secure. “In most cultures, there is a very strong taboo about men being feminine,” first started dancing as a kindergartener, but according to Eleanor Metheny, a researcher Wilson says. “Men tend to define themselves one by one they stopped dancing as they at Iowa State University. On the other hand, got older and entered middle school and men are more often shown as aggressive and as not female.” Alexei Koseff, a Paly 2008 graduate, then high school. Koseff says that when he physically intimidating, according to a 1998 was directly affected by that fear. He has started dancing, people were impressed. But study by Margaret Duncan of the University participated in dance at Dance Connection later, “I got self-conscious. I was teased a of Wisconsin, and Messner. Gender roles continue to hold us back, lot in middle school and almost quit.” Even Palo Alto since he was in kindergarten. even in the 21st century. the most talented boys in Koseff’s dance “It [the social stigma associated with “There are a lot of social norms, and it’s class eventually dropped out under the dancing] was really isolating,” Koseff says. “I hard to change people’s minds,” Koseff says. pressure of their peers. didn’t fit the macho athletic type, so I didn’t “Initially people are critical.” “In general teenagers are very aware of fit in people’s ‘normal box.’ ” According to Beth Goode, senior how they are being appraised,” Wilson says. Although the 1972 institution of Title associate athletics director at Stanford, our “That’s the social dynamic of high school. IX, the law that forces schools to provide equal schools and communities as a whole must be Younger kids don’t care as much.” opportunities for the sexes, has brought more alert about this issue and be aware of what is People who cross the fine line separating equality to the playing field, there are still to gain by being more accepting of people. the genders are considered outsiders or social barriers that need to be broken if males “It’s something we should be conscious weirdoes, and often find their sexuality in and females are to have equal opportunities about,” she says. “We should make question, according to Wilson. This makes when it comes to sports. There are still sports opportunities available, and we should be it even harder for teens who try to move that are “acceptable” and “unacceptable” for vigilant about noticing issues.” outside the norm. men and women, according to the Riemer It is possible to alter the situation if we Even the media portrays women and and Visio study. make certain efforts, according to Wilson. men differently in sports. When women are Teenagers are hyperaware of this, “If an athletic department really described, their emotions are often discussed according to Wilson. As children become encouraged kids to do what they’re good at, more than their athletic abilities. Photographs young adults, they grow increasingly it could help make a big difference quickly,” or videos generally show a view of their conscious of what other people think. Koseff’s Wilson says. v bodies, focusing on beauty and desirability, dance class included several boys when he verde magazine 53
10 Questions for interview and photography by sydney lundgren
Math teacher Suzanne Antink is infamously known around Paly for her math analogies, rhymes, and superb onehanded texting abilities. Antink sits down with Verde to talk with her about her blue motorcycle and enlightens us about “yahoos and yabs.” What is your favorite math rhyme to say? It rhymes with gergendicular.
Does your motorcycle have a name? It’s called my baby. It’s blue and matches the color of my eyes.
What is your favorite math analogy? My favorite math analogy is romance of asymptotes. It is when the curve approaches the asymptote and gives it a brief kiss and when they are both entwined together. It is very romantic and sexy.
How did you get started riding motorcycles? I was in my early 20’s and it was a cheap way to get around. I had a Honda 350. One time I was up in Lake Tahoe and I ran off the road into a ditch. I had to do an emergency dismount and then had to push it all the way back to our house, which was on a hill because I didn’t know the emergency button was still on.
What is your teaching philosophy? My teaching philosophy is everybody can learn everything. It just takes effort and time. Tell as about your hippie life. I was a wanna be hippie. I wore long dresses, renaissance clothes, flowers in my hair and painted flowers on my cheeks.
Tell us a story from your teenage years. On my first date with my husband, we went up to Mount Daiblo in his 57 Chevy to see the white witch on Halloween night. Before, we both showed up at his girlfriend’s house and he said that I was his new girlfriend. It was dramatic. Is texting your favorite way to communicate with your husband? Yes! I text him all the time. I am pretty good with just one hand. 54 verde magazine
What are yahoos and yabs? Yahoos and yabs are teenagers who just want to make trouble. They are people who don’t know what the heck they are
doing. Half my calc class is full of yahoos, but they are goodnatured people who are out for calc. My geometry class is full of wonderful human beings.
If you were stranded in a desert island, what three things would you bring? I would bring my husband because he can do anything and I would not be cold because he is always warm. I would bring a powerboat because I don’t like islands because they are too confining and there is nothing to do. I would bring a parasail so we would have fun when we got off the island. v
Teaching is for teachers Why education shouldn’t be in the hands of the students
text by melanie maemura art by lisa ke
hat would happen if there were no teachers in any of our classes? Would chaos ensue? Would our classrooms become jungles? Perhaps the results wouldn’t be as dramatic as one would think. The “self-functioning method,” in which students take on the role of the teacher, has become a very popular teaching technique among Paly teachers. While it may be a good thing to buck tradition, the benefits of this technique are questionable. Some view self-functioning classes as an opportunity for students to personally control their own learning. The most common application of the self-functioning method is having students research a certain subject, prepare a lesson, and then teach the class. Teachers then typically grade students based on their teaching performance and may require a written report. This teaching method has been receiving much praise. In the published novel “A Place Called School,” the largest on-the-scene study of U.S. schools ever undertaken, notable educational researcher John Goodlad writes, “a touchstone of effective learning is that students are in charge of their own learning; essentially, they direct their own learning processes.” While this teaching style enlivens classrooms and provides the opportunity for students to reinforce their newly learned knowledge, there are various fundamental flaws when this teaching method is practiced. Certain critical subjects must be taught by a teacher as some areas require the greater clarity of a teacher’s presentation. Sometimes students are unable to explain a concept or emphasize a central point in the same way a teacher can. Even with a considerable amount of research and preparation, some students
are just not able to string together information in a cohesive way, no matter how arduously they have tried to prepare. And so this supposedly beneficial philosophy can often fall flat on its face. Peer review is yet another part of the self-functioning method. Like with students teaching the class, peer-review has several flaws. Peer review may allow students to learn through the mistakes and strong points of their peers, but the learning experience about their own own work from peer review can be too subtle. Students must draw their own conclusions from their peers, making it not as immediate as when it comes from a teacher’s blunt comments. Furthermore, with our limited experience as evaluators of others’ work, we students may overlook both the flaws and strengths in our peers’ work. It takes the accumulated knowledge that comes with years of teaching to recognize and fully appreciate the good and bad points of another student’s work. It is very important to have comments from a teacher as well as from a student. This will prevent misconceptions arising from a peer-reviewer’s possibly misguided judgment. The best way for the teacher to correct this problem is to read the work of the student as well as the comments from the peer-reviewer. However, while desirable, having teachers read both comments of the writer and peer-reviewer may be unrealistic given the large class sizes and workload of teachers. Used sparingly, teaching by students and peer-review may lighten a teacher’s burden while offering some variety to a classroom setting. But due to the possibility of students’ weak teaching and evaluation, skills and the loss of benefit of the teachers’ expertise, these teaching tools can create a problematic consequence when over-used: a less than optimal learning experience. v
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The Science of Gender Stanford transgendered professor reflects on his transition from female to male and advocates his position on gender equality. text by jessica linebarger art by emily wang photography courtesy of ben barres
arbara Barres was not your typical teenage girl. She never felt at home in the world of lipstick, hair products, dresses and flirting with boys. She often felt ostracized by her peers for looking different than the other girls. Intelligent and introspective, she spent much of her time studying her favorite subject: science. For the majority of her life, Barres felt trapped in the body of a woman, until the age of 42 when she decided to live the rest of her life as a he and change her name to Ben. Although Barres struggled with his gender identity, his passion for science never faltered. Today, he is a leading neuroscientist and an influential activist against homophobia and gender discrimination. Now, during the year of the fifth International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, commonly referred to as IDAHO, Barres feels proud to be himself. Every year, on May 17, people gather all around the world to celebrate IDAHO, a day to spread awareness of gender differences and to abolish homophobia and transphobia. The date marks the anniversary of the day in 1990 when the World Health Organization removed homosexuality from its list of mental diseases. “If people wish to have rights then they need to fight for them,” Barres says. “I think these events are extremely important. They raise visibility and help educate the public.”
Barres’ life depicts the story of a man, confused about gender identity, both living in and overcoming a world full of intolerance. Growing up, Barres felt fundamentally different from his peers. “I had confusion about my gender identity dating back to when I was five years old,” Barres says. “I always felt I was a boy.” As a teenager, Barres attended West Orange High School in New Jersey. There, he pursued his passion for science, which distracted him from his gender issues. “I knew that I was deeply different than all the women I knew,” Barres says. “Imagine how a guy would feel if he was forced to live with breasts and shaved legs and makeup and long hair — that’s how I felt. It was just wrong for me to be living as a woman.” During high school, Barres did not show interest in either the opposite or the same sex. He continued to focus on academics, an area in which he felt comfortable. “I never went on a single date,” Barres says. “I had no interest in dating and no one had any interest in dating me.” Barres kept his uncertainties about his gender identity secret, further isolating himself from his peers. According to Barres, his parents never questioned his discomfort. “Surely my parents noticed that I only played with boys and boys’ toys, and wanted to dress like a boy, but I was always too confused about my gender and far too
ashamed to discuss it,” Barres says. Out of high school, Barres continued to keep his inner turmoil secret. He went on to study at schools including Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dartmouth Medical School, Cornell University, Harvard Medical School, and University College London. During these years, he kept his focus on science. After numerous years in school, Barres was offered a job as a professor of neuroscience at Stanford University. The job prompted him to move to Palo Alto. While adjusting to his new job, Barres received distressing news that would change his life. At the age of 40, his doctor informed him that he had breast cancer and would need to remove the abnormal tissue. Although the cancer was only in one breast, Barres requested a double mastectomy. At this point, Barres had not yet been exposed to the idea of transsexuality, but nonetheless felt uncomfortable in his body. “[Losing my breasts was] therapeutic for me because it brought my anatomy more into line with my gender identity,” Barres says. Soon after the surgery, Barres learned about transsexuality from an article in the San Francisco Chronicle about a female-tomale transsexual who had been living with the same gender identity confusion as he was currently facing. “I did not realize that there were verde magazine 59
transgendered people until moving to the Bay Area,” Barres says. After thorough research, he decided that the change was right for him, but he faced yet another medical challenge. Barres’ doctor informed him that he was at risk for both breast and ovarian cancer due to a breast cancer susceptibility gene in his body. The doctor suggested that removing his ovaries would decrease the risk. Barres agreed to the procedure, occurring only two years after the double mastectomy, and taking him one step closer in the process of sex change. After recovering from the surgeries, he continued his transformation. “When I decided to change sex, I started taking testosterone, cut my hair, changed my first name, and started wearing men’s clothes,” Barres says. “It felt like this huge weight had been lifted off of me. I have been a much happier person ever since and have never had the slightest doubt about the change.” According to Barres, along with selfassurance, approval from peers is also crucial for a smooth and successful transition. “All of my friends, colleagues, and family were completely supportive,” Barres says. “They were all terrific from the start.” According to Barres, the sex change has influenced his life in both good and bad ways; however, his scientific career has remained virtually unchanged. Today, at the age of 54, Barres is the professor and associate chair of Stanford’s Neurobiology Department, the director of the Master of Science in Medicine Program and a member of the executive committee of the school’s Neuroscience Institute. “I have not noticed any negative repercussions to my career,” Barres says. “I do not feel that anyone has judged me poorly, and if I did feel that way, I would not particularly care all that much. I would see that as their problem and not mine.” Barres recognizes that although he now 60 verde magazine
identifies as male, he is still the same person. “My lab is still doing well, I still attract incredibly talented students and postdocs to my lab, I am still invited to give seminars at prestigious meetings and universities, and I am still asked to serve on the editorial boards of top journals and review panels,” Barres says. His scientific discoveries are also crucial to scientific advancement. One of his greatest achievements is his discovery of the importance of glial cells for the formation and function of synaptic connections in the brain. “My plans [for the future] are to keep doing what I love, which is doing biomedical research about the brain and brain disease, and training young scientists,” Barres says. Along with his scientific discoveries, Barres has given numerous presentations about gender differences and discrimination, incorporating his experiences both before and after his sex change. He most recently gave a lecture at Harvard University. “I do not see transsexuality as an abnormality but just a rare gender difference,” Barres says. “I think people who are different provide important perspectives that are critical in driving innovation and progress in general. Society needs to be less fearful of differences and realize they are critical for innovation.” Although Barres strongly approves of differences within society, he recognizes that not all transgendered people live and work in an environment as tolerant and accepting as his own. “There is very serious discrimination that affects the lives of most transgendered people,” Barres says. “In most states,
Barres working in his lab at Stanford University
“I do not see transsexuality as an abnormality but just a rare gender difference. Society needs to be less fearful of differences and realize they are critical for innovation.” excluding California, they do not have health insurance. They are not protected from employment discrimination, and they can be fired simply for being transgendered.” According to Barres, career choice can often impact the treatment of an individual. “Academics are for the most part very tolerant of human differences,” Barres says. “It can be much tougher on transgendered people in blue collar work environments.” Barres feels happy and comfortable in his academic atmosphere and hopes that by sharing his experiences, he will inspire youth to follow their dreams and attack any obstacles that stand in the way. “It is not possible to live a happy, fulfilled life in the closet,” Barres says. “I hope that I can show LGBT young folks not to fear being openly who they are.” v
wentieth-century anthropologist Margaret Mead told us we should “never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” These immortal words now seem to call to mind the great human rights movements — both nationally and internationally — of our time. It was leaders like Martin Luther King, Jr., Che Guevara, Nelson Mandela and Rigoberta Menchú, who, beginning with only a small group of supporters and a passion for change, revolutionized the world we live in today. Now, at Palo Alto High School, it seems that we are on the brink of our own revolution. Maybe it’s that Obama’s mantra of “change” really is contagious; maybe it’s that our district’s superintendent struck a nerve with his comments about the achievement gap; or maybe we just finally have the right group of thoughtful, committed citizens. Regardless, it cannot be denied that there is a movement here on campus; the hopeful energy is almost palpable. At the forefront of this local revolution is Paly’s up-and-coming Unity Club, headed by sophomore Kevin Ward. The goal of the club, composed primarily of minority students, is to combat the academic and cultural stereotypes and other factors that keep students of color from reaching their full potential — and they are certainly meeting the challenge head-on. The club’s proactive approach coincides with the district’s goals of closing the achievement gap, but ultimately, it is up to the students to bring the change we need. By tackling the achievement gap — historically a daunting obstacle — the students in Unity are becoming Paly’s very own superheroes. It is with this mindset that Verde approached this edition’s cover story, “A Force to be Reckoned With” (pg. 63). We felt that the graphic design of the story should reflect the strength of the Unity Club and so chose a comic book/superhero theme for the story. The bold images and colors used for the story’s layout, designed by Verde’s Jackie McElaney, are the least we could do to reflect the impact of the club. In addition, “To Be Hate-Free” (pg. 68) looks into this year’s expansion of Paly’s annual Not In Our School week, an event also geared toward eliminating stereotyping and adversity. With the recent surge of student activism against stereotyping, change is certainly coming to Paly.
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A Force to be Reckoned with
he classroom buzzes with conversation, but the chatter quiets as Palo Alto High School sophomore Kevin Ward approaches the front of the classroom. “Stand up if you believe that we are free,” Ward says to the 30 students packed in the classroom. Only two students stand. Ward is addressing the Paly Unity Club, a group of dedicated students attempting to battle the racial prejudice and oppression that Latino and African American students
feel at Paly. “When we are restricted by stereotypes we are enslaved by them,” Ward says. This oppression has contributed to the achievement gap in the Palo Alto School District, an issue that has made its way to the spotlight due to Superintendent Skelly’s controversial comments on race. Both the Unity Club and the Palo Alto Unified School District are challenging the Palo Alto community to raise their expectations for
what underrepresented minority students can accomplish. Put simply, the achievement gap boils down to a dramatic disparity between the academic performances indexes of the whites and Asian American and the African American and Latinos at Paly. California ranks the academic performances of students out of 1000 points using the results of the Standardized Testing and Report test and the California High School Exit Exam. On the verde magazine 63
UNITY CLUB Club president Kevin ward addresses the Unity Club during an open forum with Superintendent Skelly
“[We hope] to have a whole bunch of self aware students that are so aware of who they are that they begin to branch out and learn about other peoples and their cultures.”
Superintendent Skelly ponders the suggestions of the Unity Club members.
Club members listen to their peers’ ideas and critiques of the district
state’s academic performance index for 2008, PAUSD whites and Asians scored 934 and 972 respectively, outscoring the California average, according to the California Department of Education. However, the Latinos scored 746 and African Americans tested at 700. But to the members of the club, the achievement gap is more than just statistics. It is the social stigma the ethnicities themselves attach to high achievement for minority students, the stereotypes they battle in the honors classes, and challenges they face within the Paly laning system. “I think one of the first steps is to be aware of the problem,” Ward says. “If people can do that, we can start to change. People don’t even see the problems.” Part of the problem is the differences in perception of achievement within many ethnic communities. The scorn of their counterparts is a huge hurdle when it comes to achievement for underrepresented minorities According to club members, students of color often 64 verde magazine
Club members Adrian Verdusco, Jessica Garcia and Dorsey Bass share their feelings with Skelly
challenge one another’s authenticity as part of their culture when they achieve. “People portray me as white-washed,” says senior Jessica Garcia, vice president of the Unity Club. “Your own people put you into a box. There is applause from one side and criticism from the other. It’s so sad how your own people put you down. I have lost friends because of my achievement.” Garcia and other club members acknowledge the disparity between the messages sent by their teachers and parents and the messages from their peers. “It’s hard,” Garcia says. “My parents told me to strive for the best, but when you get to school advice can go in one ear and out the other.” According to Garcia, she began drifting from her Hispanic friends when she started to form friendships with students in her honors and accelerated classes. “It just got awkward from there,” Garcia says. “We are still
The achievement gap is us. We need to stop letting this happen. C’s and D’s don’t need to be
good enough for us. —Paly senior Ana Yanez
Left to Right, Bottom Row: Clare Gleeson, Mera Hernandez Middle Row: Kevin Ward, Kianna Campbell, Armani Johnson, Hannah Kim Top Row: Presley Pitre, Manny Velazquez, Briana Thomasson, Celeste Woods z
friends, and we say ‘hi,’ but we don’t hang out as much.” junior Julisa Russell. “This girl used to correct me all the time. I was Club members agree that pressure comes from all sides, not just like ‘Who are you to correct me?’ I’ll correct myself.” minority students. Unrepresented minorities might limit one another Senior LaMoy Nicholas also feels pressure to conform to the academically, but the pressure from standards of the white culture. the white majority is an equally “If I go to an interview for oppressive force. a job, I am not going to dress “Being a minority, people like I normally do,” Nicholas think you’re stupid,” freshman says. “The boss would kick me Armani Johnson says “We are out or something.” categorized as failures. It makes me Once students lose scared to even talk in class.” motivation, they find reforming As a biracial student, their work ethic and academic sophomore Tremaine Kirkman performance to be quite feels the effects of stereotyping difficult. Under the current especially strongly. lanning system in PAUSD, “Whenever I do well people classes draw from knowledge are like ‘Oh, you’re half white’ and taught the previous year, so —Superintendent Skelly if I can’t jump, ‘What? Why can’t changing lanes after a few you? You’re half black,’” Kirkman school years becomes virtually says. “You don’t have to be ‘white-washed’ to achieve.” impossible. Freshman Celeste Woods also feels pressure from the majority. “Students can switch from non-honors to honors classes or from She is often the only African American student her classes, and feels honors to non-honors classes at any time, but the disparity widens singled out as a result. and the gap [between the English lanes] becomes too huge,” says “A lot of the classes I am in are all white people,” Woods says. English Department Instructional Supervisor Trinity Klein. “It is “If we watch a news piece and there are ghetto black people on TV very hard to do well. The laning system is the clearest example of making a fool out of themselves everyone thinks it’s like me. I don’t institutional racism at Paly.” feel free to be myself. Those people aren’t me.” While students of color face much adversity, the members of the To make matters more difficult, cultural and stylistic differences Unity Club refuse to be discouraged. They understand that, while exacerbate the disconnect between the racial groups at Paly, as well as outside forces might make achievement more difficult, they are each the stereotyping that occurs on campus. the ultimate decision-maker for his or her own destinies. “In my freshman Spanish class I used to talk like we talk,” says The weekly lunch meetings give students an opportunity to
“we all rise to the expectations people have for us. If you expect more, students will achieve more.”
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discuss the struggles they face and inspire students to persevere. On any given week, between 15 and 35 students make their way to the Tower Building to listen to speakers such as police officers, district officials and community leaders, plan community events a like a fundraiser for Camp Everytown or simply vent about the issues they face. “It’s a way to get your feelings out there with kids going through the same things as you,” Johnson says. “You could talk to your parents, but they don’t live it with you everyday.” In an open discussion, students bounce their feelings off one another and inspire each other to rise above the expectations set for them. The meeting begins with an invitation to voice all concerns, and soon the atmosphere is alive with hope. Senior Ana Yáñez speaks out at a weekly meeting. “The achievement gap is us,” Yáñez says. “We need to stop letting this happen. Cs and Ds don’t need to be good enough for us.” Adrian Verdusco’s hand shoots up, and she echoes Yáñez’s thoughts. “You can say it’ll be too difficult, but nobody ever said it was going to be fair,” Verdusco says. “We
We all have potential. It takes our desire. We can blame, but it all comes down to us. —Senior Ana Yanez
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need to help ourselves. We have to want this badly.” But the Unity Club is about more than just strong words. It sees Superintendent Skelly’s controversial comments on race, which have sparked intense debate, as an opportunity to start the long overdue conversations about equality at Paly. The Unity hosted a question and answer session with Skelly on March 11, as well as an open forum where students were given an opportunity to voice their concerns and hopes for Paly on April 1, as well as potential solutions. “He didn’t say it [the problem] right,” says senior Macy Stewart. “But we are all trying to do the same things.” The club is taking big steps to combat the prejudice they encounter at Paly. On the docket for the club is a mentoring program with Stanford students in the hours after school when many students from East Palo Alto are stuck at school while waiting for the bus. “Instead of wasting that time, students would be able to see examples of successful minority students, hang out and do homework,” Ward says. Mentor recruitment is set to begin soon after April 2, when Ward appealed to Stanford University’s Black Student Union. Ward is working with the National Hispanic University as well. The Unity Club is not alone in their efforts, as PAUSD is also working to bridge the gap. PAUSD has made it a goal that 85 percent of the school will meet the a-g requirements, prerequisites for University of California and California State University admissions, by 2012. Additionally, they aim to increase the number of students meeting the a-g requirements by 50 percent. According to the Palo Alto Board of Education, only 20 percent of underrepresented minority students completed the requirements in the last year, rendering the remaining students ineligible for UC and CSU. Beginning in with the class of 2012, the Paly graduation requirements will change from 35 credits of English to 40. The World Language Department will also offer a wider selection of classes in order to provide students with a wider selection of language courses. “Our goal is to make all of our students college ready,” Skelly says. One might think that making the requirements more difficult would widen the existing gap, but Skelly is confident that the change will produce more wellrounded and better prepared students. “The system will adjust to give kids the support they need, but we all rise to the expectations people have for us,” Skelly says. “If you expect more, students will achieve more.”
[cover] “You can say it’ll be too difficult, but nobody ever said it was going to be fair. We need to help ourselves. We have to want this badly.” —Senior Adrian Verdusco
Senior Macy Steward listens actively to thoughts of her peers
The Unity Club members share this central belief in the potential of all students. “We all have potential,” Yáñez says. “It takes our desire. We can blame, but it all comes down to us.” The club has come along way towards their goal. Despite its youth, the Unity Club is the second largest club at Paly. The club has made great strides since its first meetings. “We actually had a lot of trouble at first,” Ward says. “I remember one day we ordered like 80 dollars worth of pizza and had people pay a dollar a slice. They thought that that was ludicrous and didn’t pay attention during the meeting. We actually lost money.” Still, the Unity Club leadership refused to be discouraged and simply changed its game plan. “I realized at that moment that I would rather have a small dedicated group that was strong in their beliefs, than a whole bunch of people that just came for free pizza,” Ward says. “I think we’re getting a lot closer to a more dedicated group.” Looking towards the future, the club is hopeful about their impact on Paly and their place in the fabric of the school. Rising in stardom and success, the club will soon be featured in a documentary about race. Working Group, an organization that creates videos for Not in Our School Week, produced the film. “The documentary shadowed me to help illustrate the daily life of a student of color,” Ward says. “We [a group of minority students] attended meetings with people who were supposedly trying
Junior Manny Valezquez stands up to address Superintendent Skelly
to help the drop out crisis. I am a Youth Community Serve fellow, so we also went to a YCS meeting and then they interviewed my mom. Of course, they came to a Unity Club meeting, too. ” This endeavor, as well as many others, has left the Unity leadership feeling satisfied with their rapid progress. “Clubs at Paly tend to die off after one semester and we’ve stuck around and made a name for ourselves,” Ward says. “We’ve been in the paper multiple times and I think that’s attracting the attention of other people that want to do good. Some one asked me the other day, ‘How do I get a camera crew to follow me around all day?’ and I simply replied, ‘Join Unity.’” Still, Unity has a lot of work to do before its ultimate goal is reached. The club hopes that one day, Paly might be the accepting and open place they are still waiting for. “[We hope] to have a whole bunch of self aware students that are so aware of who they are that they begin to branch out and learn about other peoples and their cultures,” Ward says. “I would love to see kids walking around with Mexican flags and throwing up black power fists and wearing yarmulkes to school.” Skelly too, is positive about Paly’s future and the Unity Club’s role, but knows it won’t be easy. “You’ve got something in this school now,” Skelly says. “You’re going to have to keep pushing. But things have improved a lot since I was your age. When I was younger there was just black and white. It’s too simple that way. After all, it’s a rainbow out there.” v verde magazine 67
Not In Our School Week aims at fighting prejudice text by emily james photography by emily james, silvia maraboli, and whitney drazovich
hen Paly history teacher David Rapaport entered his classroom a few months ago, the sight of a student poster on the wall shocked him. The poster, of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., was defaced with a swastika. Horrified, he sadly announced the vandalism to his students, wondering what kind of person could have been harboring that much hatred. “I was sickened to find a swastika written on a student’s artwork,” he says. “I had a series of discussions with my students about the significance of this symbol.” Over the years, acts of intolerance at Paly have been sporadic. However, according to Rapaport, “if we condone hateful acts by either permitting them or failing to recognize them, we then compound the problem by not doing something constructive about them.” Four years ago, Paly’s Diversity Coalition was founded on the principle that Rapaport describes; through recognizing situations where intolerance occurs, the coalition hopes Paly can learn to be more accepting. The coalition was formed in response to vandalism targeting a bisexual student. A homophobic slur had been spraypainted onto her locker. “The Paly community decided that it was necessary to address the intolerance that still exists at Paly and embrace the diversity that we have on campus,” Diversity Coalition chair Alex Coblin says. As the coalition was started, the founders decided that it was necessary to address the vandalism by bringing Not In Our School week to Paly. Since then, NIOS has been a strong annual tradition, featuring a week of lunchtime activities and performances. The upcoming NIOS is scheduled for April 20-24. “This year’s NIOS week is going to be bigger, and we are working very hard to involve more of the Paly community during planning,” Coblin says. Coblin and the Diversity Coalition hope that this year’s larger-scale NIOS will bring even more
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attention to the prejudice that does exist here. In addition to the Diversity Coalition, the Paly Dance Company, the Unity Club, the Slam Poetry Club and the Gay-Straight Alliance are also arranging activities for the week. In the past, NIOS week activities have included tee shirt making, bubble blowing, various music and bands, and activities like “I Wish,” in which students wrote down their aspirations, and “Dissolving Stereotypes,” when students wrote stereotypes down on pieces of rice paper and let them dissolve in water. In previous years, only non-Paly acts have performed at NIOS, but this year some musical additions will include a few Paly bands. Other musical acts include Ballet Folklorico from San Jose State University and Talisman from Stanford. All activities and performances are aimed at combating hate and embracing diversity. Magdalena Rivera, primary faculty advisor of the Diversity Coalition, helps coordinate activities. According to Rivera, these activities, “[Help] remind us that we need to reflect often on our relations with each other. Hate and discrimination still exist, and we need to confront them.” Rivera’s work to improve the social climate at Paly does not end with the Diversity Coalition. “I still hear students say, ‘That’s so gay,’ or ‘You’re retarded,’” she says. “When I intervene, many times the students will respond, ‘But I didn’t mean it that way!’ Then why say it? Why don’t we use the correct language?” Rivera believes that if Paly wishes to live up to its reputation as an accepting school, the students must live by the values of NIOS week. NIOS is a growing tradition at Paly, and it is unique to Palo Alto Schools. NIOS was inspired by Not In Our Town, an organization that strives to eliminate hate throughout the country and reaches out to towns and cities affected by hate-related incidents. NIOT was started after white supremacists threatened members of the community in Billings, Mont. Swastikas were spray-painted on a Native American woman’s home; bricks were thrown through win-
Fighting for Change (from left) Alex Coblin, Ana Yáñez, Macy Stewart, and Kevin Ward are active members of the Diversity Coalition. dows where menorahs were on display; and a Jewish cemetery was destroyed. A Ku Klux Klan-related group was suspected of the attacks. Members of the community loudly proclaimed that hate did not have a place in Billings, and NIOT was born. The Working Group, an organization dedicated to spreading a message of unity through media, filmed the beginnings of NIOT. Since then NIOT has been highly publicized, and has provided a jumping-off point for NIOS after the locker vandalism. “Everyone had heard of NIOT and thought, we need to do this kind thing here,” Coblin says. The program was successfully implemented at Paly and Gunn, and has been flourishing at both schools. Unity Club president Kevin Ward feels that NIOS week is essential to Paly. “Those that have prejudice will find it extremely hard, if not impossible, to apply their narrow-minded ideals to a group of people that are strong in their beliefs and clearly defy stereotypes and pre-judgments, like the group of people coordinating NIOS week,” he says. Coblin agrees with Ward; he feels that NIOS week crucial in promoting diversity and that the student body benefits greatly from the week. “The activities that we hold are noticed and people are learning more and more each year that we hold the celebration,” he says. Despite all of NIOS week’s benefits, both Coblin and Ward believe that there’s room for improvement at Paly in terms of equality. “I do think that intolerance exists here,” Coblin says. Ward, an active voice on campus in terms of diversity and equality, feels that Paly tends to marginalize its minority groups. “Many [at Paly] view a race, sexual orientation, or gender as an all encompassing title that predetermines how a person should act and behave,” he says.
Despite the Unity Club’s prominent place on campus, they have taken on a relatively observational role in the planning of NIOS week. “We want to see the dynamics of such a great week because we will most likely play a large role in coordinating it next year,” Ward says. In past years the student body has perceived NIOS as an event focused on fighting homophobia, rather than racial prejudices. Ward and the Unity Club hope for more focus on ethnic diversity for next year’s NIOS week. “We have pushed for a little more emphasis on under-represented minorities though and have implemented such things as a talent show and a flag ceremony to the stream of events,” he says. As the planning of NIOS week unfolds, Rapaport looks sorrowfully back at the poster defacement, but sees the incident as an opportunity to learn. “I love the idea of Not In Our School week,” he says. However, he believes that the ideals of NIOS should be implemented constantly, rather than just for one week. “I think of NIOS week the same way I think of Black History Month,” Rapaport says. “Just as I feel that we should constantly be weaving everyone’s perspective of history into our curriculum, I feel acceptance must also be constantly taught. One week is not enough.” Despite this, he too believes that Paly is capable of improvement. If the Paly community wants to completely eliminate hate, “We must emphasize speaking out versus silence, confrontation versus avoidance, and making social responsibility the determinant of situationspecific moments that define our personal integrity.” The Diversity Coalition hopes that NIOS week will exemplify these values and that Paly will continue toward becoming the hate-free, accepting school it is capabable of being. v verde magazine 69
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