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VOL.44 NO.8 • Sacramento Country Day School • 2636 Latham Drive, Sacramento, CA• www.scdsoctagon.com • May 25, 2021

$1.18 million helps Country Day through pandemic BY MING ZHU


$1.18 million federal forgivable loan has allowed Country Day to maintain its payroll and buy or rent COVID-19-related safety items that helped the school bring students back to campus. Country Day’s loan was forgiven and paid in full by the federal government, said the school’s Chief Financial Officer Bill Petchauer. Evidence of the loan’s impact can be seen across campus. When senior Pragathi Vivaik starts her morning at Country Day, a new infrared thermometer checks her temperature, a plexiglass screen shields her from her teacher and hand sanitizer awaits her at the exit. Country Day is one of thousands of private schools across the country that received forgivable loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program. According to federal data, the SBA approved loans for 14 private institutions in Sacramento County that offer high school education. The loan amounts ranged from $75,000 to $2.97 million. (See chart below.) However, the actual loan received may differ from what was approved, as was the case for Country Day, which was approved for $1.36 million but received $1.18 million. The PPP offers forgivable loans as “a direct incentive for small businesses to keep their workers on payroll,” according to the SBA’s website. As reported last year by The Sacramento Bee, Country Day was approved for its PPP loan in 2020. Head of School Lee Thomsen said the PPP loan acted as a failsafe. “At a time when we were looking ahead to the current school year last spring, it gave us the insurance and assurance that we would be able to maintain a full faculty and staff in the event that we had suffered a major loss in enrollment,” Thomsen said.

The loan allowed the school to stay financially healthy and conserve its financial reserve, Petchauer said. The PPP loans can be used to fund payroll costs, pay for mortgage or rent, utilities, COVID-19 protection, operation expenses as well as property damage costs, according to the SBA’s website. For a loan to be forgiven, the borrower must maintain employee and compensation levels, use the loan only on allowed expenses and allocate at least 60 percent of the loan to payroll costs. Country Day spent its loan on COVID-19 protection supplies, information technology equipment, rental of facilities and storage, additional staffing and retaining all employees’ paychecks, Petchauer said. For instance, Head of Lower School Maisae Affour said four staff members have been hired this year: two teaching assistants, a new kindergarten teacher and a remote learning coordinator. “We needed extra staffing due to the added cohorts that we created in order to accommodate social distancing,” Affour said. “Without the additional staffing, definitely it would have been very challenging because students would have to be unattended.” For the same reason, the school rented a large tent for the lower school quad. “In order to accommodate lunch time and snack time during breaks during a rainy season, we asked for a tent so children could be spaced out, unmasked, and eat their lunches and snacks under the tent,” Affour said. “That was a great help in making sure our community is secure and safe.” In addition to being a space for students to chow down while staying dry, the tent facilitates a number of music and PE classes for kindergarten through fifth grade, Affour said. Pre-K also uses this space for their music and movement class. The federal funds helped Country Day pay

PPP page 3 >>

Sacramento County Private High Schools Approved For SBA Loans in 2020 Amount Approved

Borrower Name

Jobs Reported


Highlands Community Charter and Technical Schools



Rex and Margaret Fortune School of Education



Christian Brothers High School, Inc.



Jesuit High School Sacramento



St. Francis Catholic High School



St. Hope Public Schools



Sacramento Country Day School



The Cottonwood School



Sacramento Waldorf School Assn



Al-Arqam Islamic School



Aldar Academy



Cristo Rey High School Sacramento



Victory Christian Sacramento



Cristo Rey High School Work Study, Inc.



FEATURE 4 Physics teacher Glenn Mangold is leaving after 13 years at Country Day. Read about his departure and the impact he has made.

COVID-19 cases will dictate future schedule BY ISHAAN SEKHON

Approved amount may not be amount received. Data retrieved from the SBA website on April 23, 2021. For more information on the Paycheck Protection Program, visit www.sba.gov/ppp.


BYE BYE BACTERIA Junior Lilah Shorey takes a wipe to clean her desk after her AP U.S. History class. PHOTO BY ARIKTA TRIVEDI

Country Day plans to resume in-person teaching during the 2021-22 school year following a year of remote and hybrid learning. But how the year develops depends on the number of COVID-19 cases rising or falling in Sacramento in the coming months and the availability of and age restrictions on the COVID-19 vaccines. “We are hopeful that given the revisions to the guidelines we can run an almost-normal classroom,” said Lee Thomsen, Head of School. Given fewer COVID-19 cases, the school year will be almost normal, except for all students and faculty still wearing masks, Thomsen said. Head of Middle School Rommel Loria

CENTERPOINT 8-9 The class of 2021 has a total of 215 college acceptances and over $1 million in financial aid. Check out where they are headed in the fall.

hopes to apply the lessons he learned over 2020-21 to the 2021-22 school year. “We will continue to follow the regulations that are given to us by the local public health authorities, and we will make sure that we are meeting or exceeding their expectations,” Loria said. Brooke Wells, head of high school, hopes to return to the pre-COVID-19 schedule, also known as the green schedule. The schedule had five periods every day. It would also include a longer lunch time. Bi-weekly COVID-19 tests are mandatory for students attending in-person school, but next year symptomatic testing may replace it unless most positive cases are asymptomatic. Thomsen said the distance between

PLANS page 3 >>

FEATURE 14 Read about senior Meghan Kaschner’s lifelong fascination with marine biology and her plans to pursue the subject in the future.


News • May 25, 2021

STAFF PRINT EDITORS-IN-CHIEF Sanjana Anand Ming Zhu ONLINE EDITORS-IN-CHIEF Ethan Monasa Arijit Trivedi NEWS EDITOR Nihal Gulati FEATURE EDITOR Arjin Claire Arikta Trivedi SPORTS EDITOR Miles Morrow A&E/OPINION EDITOR Dylan Margolis PHOTO EDITOR Hermione Xian PAGE EDITORS Arjin Claire Nihal Gulati Dylan Margolis Ethan Monasa Miles Morrow Arijit Trivedi Arikta Trivedi Hermione Xian BUSINESS STAFF Arjin Claire, manager Samhita Kumar, assistant SOCIAL MEDIA STAFF Arikta Trivedi, editor Samhita Kumar, assistant HEAD OF TECHNOLOGY Nihal Gulati REPORTERS Rod Azghadi Jacob Chand Emily Cook Jonah Angelo David Simone DeBerry Katie Espinoza William Holz Samhita Kumar Lauren Lu Callister Misquitta Samrath Pannu Aarushi Rohatgi Ishaan Sekhon Kali Wells Hermione Xian Garman Xu PHOTOGRAPHERS Miles Morrow Arikta Trivedi Hermione Xian MULTIMEDIA STAFF Dylan Margolis, editor Arjin Claire, staffer Samhita Kumar, staffer Samrath Pannu, staffer Garman Xu, staffer

The Octagon

Octagon and Medallion editors-in-chief announced for 2021-22 school year



wo of Country Day’s student-led publications have named their new leadership teams for the 2021-22 school year. The Medallion is responsible for creating the school’s yearbook, and The Octagon is the school’s print and online newspaper. Co-editors-in-chief of the Medallion seniors Layla Mohey Eldin and Hana Lee are graduating and juniors Lilah Shorey and Vanessa Escobar will step into those leadership roles. Junior Tina Huang will be the design editor and sophomore Amaya Anguiano will be the photography editor, the positions that Shorey and Escobar previously held. Sophomore Athenea Godinez will be the copy editor. Yearbook adviser Liz Leavy, Lee, and Mohey Eldin were in charge of choosing new leaders. “Our editors-in-chief set the tone for the staff. They mentor, inspire and challenge the rest of the team and are ultimately responsible for every aspect of a 240-page publication,” Leavy said. Leavy narrowed the criteria down to three main factors: confidence in taking charge, commitment to excellence in their work on the Medallion, and earning the respect of the staff. Escobar and Shorey have both been at Country Day since Lower School, and their familiarity with the other divisions will be very helpful in creating the yearbook, she said. Escobar’s wealth of experience on the yearbook and as a member of the editorial staff also contributed to her selection. Escobar hopes to increase engagement with the yearbook among the Lower School by including pages that are interactive. “For example, there could be a

SLIDING INTO POSITION Juniors Ethan Monasa, Arikta Trivedi, Arijit Trivedi and Sanjana Anand (from left to right) will be co-editors-in-chief of the Octagon next school year. Arikta will be new to the position, succeeding senior Ming Zhu as print co-editor-in-chief. PHOTO BY VANESSA ESCOBAR section that is dedicated to ‘my favorite things’ and the students would be able to fill it out on the page,” Escobar said. She also wants to improve organization and communication within the yearbook, as they were two of the many struggles the staff faced this year due to COVID-19. Shorey has also started planning how to improve the yearbook. “I want to make sure the staff has helpful resources and people to come to if they need help, so everyone can work at a manageable pace and not be overly stressed at any point,” she said. Shorey aims to keep the Medallion staff on track to finish the yearbook by the beginning of April, which has been the deadline in previous years. Like Escobar, she aims to improve the organization of how assignments and responsibilities are doled out. Three of the four edi-

GRAPHIC ARTISTS Charlie Acquisto Brynne Barnard-Bahn Lilah Shorey ADVISER Bonnie Stewart The Octagon is Sacramento Country Day’s student-run high school newspaper. Its purpose is to provide reliable information on events concerning the high school in order to inform and entertain the entire school community. The staff strives for accuracy and objectivity. The Octagon aims to always represent both sides of an issue. Errors will be noted and corrected. The Octagon shall publish material that the staff deems in the best interest of the school community. The staff recognizes the importance of providing accurate and reliable information to readers. The Octagon does not represent the views of the administration, nor does it act as publicity for the school as a whole. The Octagon will publish all timely and relevant news, subject to the following exceptions: obscenity; slanderous or libelous material; or material contrary to the best interests of the school community, as judged by the guidrelines among the newspaper staff, adviser and school administration. Editorials are approved by an editorial board. Columns/commentaries shall be labeled as such and represent only the opinion of the author. In the interest of representing all points of view, letters to the editor shall be published, space permitting, unless otherwise requested. All letters must be signed and conform to the above restrictions. The staff may change grammar and punctuation or abridge letters for space considerations. Comments can be made on our website to address all stories run.

NEW YEAR, NEW CHIEFS Juniors Vanessa Escobar (left) and Lilah Shorey (right) will take over the roles of editors-in-chief of the yearbook staff next school year. PHOTO BY ARIJIT TRIVEDI

tors-in-chief of The Octagon will remain in their positions: junior Sanjana Anand as print co-editor-in-chief and juniors Ethan Monasa and Arijit Trivedi as online co-editors-in-chief. The fourth leader, senior Ming Zhu, will pass on his role as a print co-editor-in-chief to junior Arikta Trivedi. She will also continue her role as the social media editor. “This year, it was a really tough decision because we had several highly-qualified staff members,” said Bonnie Stewart, The Octagon’s adviser. Stewart and the current editors-in-chief selected Arikta as the new leader. Anand said The Octagon was looking for someone with a strong work ethic, dedication to the publication and leadership skills. “Arikta stood out because of her ideas on how to improve the publication and how she would lead the staff,” Stewart said.

Arikta has already been successfully running The Octagon’s social media accounts and has ideas on how to boost the publication’s following, improve photography and increase story output and timeliness. She also has experience in many different positions and can use her knowledge and skills to “build up all those aspects of the Octagon,” Zhu said. Arikta shared her goals as an editor-in-chief for next year. “I want to make the Octagon more cohesive and disperse the responsibilities of the staff more evenly. Everyone should be able to develop multiple skills without having the complete burden of being a media staffer or photographer,” she said. Over the summer, Stewart plans to meet with all four editors-in-chief to discuss next year’s plans and organize the publication’s summer staff bootcamp to enrich the journalism skills of the staff.

The Octagon

May 25, 2021 • News

Plans: SCDS hopes for full in-person return in fall

PPP: School aided by loan (continued from page 1)

(continued from page 1) desks in classrooms will be reduced from six feet to three feet. Eighth grade Earth science teacher Cade Grunst expects that the desk spacing will decrease to three feet from the current six feet of distance. “Since that will allow us to use more classroom space than we can right now, hopefully we can have all students back on campus five days a week,” Grunst said. The possible return five day a week preCOVID-19 schedule had freshman Ike George excited. George said that he was excited because he believed this would happen and that the number of positive cases in COVID-19 would decrease. He was also excited for the Ancil Hoffman event. A big capture the flag game that pitted the freshman and seniors against the sophomores and juniors. Regarding the vaccines, Thomsen anticipated that the 12 to 15 age group will be able to get vaccinated. All high school students in Country Day are in the age group allowed to be vaccinated, but the school will not require students to be vaccinated. “At this point everything is authorized for emergency use, so no one is allowed to require it. We are not requiring it because we can’t require it,” Thomsen said. “We are encouraging, but not requiring student vaccinations.” “The real challenge is pre-K through seventh grade; I don’t see a time where that would be approved,” Thomsen said. But if cases begin to rise, causing the state to enter a higher tier in the following summer months, then school will stay in its hybrid schedule. Wells said that it’s likely that the school will enter a green model, though the state tier system is being abolished. A transition from the hybrid schedule to the pre-COVID-19 schedule will make it easier for Grunst to teach his class. “It’s hard to monitor the Zoom chat and remote students while giving students in person your full attention. I cannot design activities that work remotely because my in-person students are left out and I cannot design activities for my remote students because my in-person students are left out,” Grunst said. Teaching students fully remote or fully in person will make the class go smoother, Grunst said. Freshman Rachel Pirie enjoys the current school schedule, particularly the asynchronous days. “A pro is that we have kind of a day off, but we don’t have full learning time. We don’t have the full five day schedule and I don’t have many classes on Wednesday,” Pirie said. “Everything’s rushed at the end, so there’s less time to do more work.” Last school year, the students in middle school alternated classrooms, but this school year the teachers are the ones migrating from classroom to classroom. This system was a part of the success of no positive on-campus COVID-19 cases for the middle school. However, it only gives teachers two to three minutes to prepare before classes and to clean up. “Whatever I’m going to do has to be on a cart and has to be done in advance because I don’t have the time to set it up during class,” Grunst said. “There is broad agreement amongst the faculty that we want to return to the rotation of the pre-COVID-19 schedule. We would like to return to five days on campus because asynchronous days have had mixed results.”


SANITATION STATION Junior Craig Bolman grabs a wipe from the container to clean his desk. Sanitation items such as these wipes were paid for using the Paycheck Protection Program’s forgivable loan. PHOTO BY ARIKTA TRIVEDI

for its COVID-19 protection plan created during the summer of 2020. All on-campus personnel needed personal protective equipment, so masks, gloves, face shields and hand sanitizer are available across campus. To check for symptomatic individuals, the PPP loan helped purchase thermometers for daily screenings. HEPA air purifiers were placed in classrooms to increase air exchange rate, and MERV 13 filters were installed in the HVAC system to remove small particles from the air, Director of Physical Plant Jay Holman. To limit occupancy in bathrooms, the school rented portable bathrooms, said Head of High School Brooke Wells. To facilitate social distancing, many desks were taken out of classrooms. As a result, Country Day had to rent extra storage for excess furniture and equipment, Wells said. For places where social distancing is hard to enforce, plexiglass partitions were installed for added protection. To ensure all families have internet access, the school purchased video equipment, computers and hotspots, Petchauer said. For senior Pragathi Vivaik, the measures Country Day has taken to keep the campus safe gave her confidence to return in person. “There wasn’t a specific thing that made me come back. I just see them doing all these things and I think, ‘it looks like they know what they’re doing.’”

SCDS offers new classes next year



ountry Day will launch into the 2021-2022 school year with five changes for high school students. This list includes a new Linear Algebra class, a Creative Writing elective and changes to both the 12th grade AP English Literature and Composition class and the 10th grade World History Class. Linear Algebra will be a new addition to the high school curriculum, giving seniors who have finished AP Calculus BC a chance to include one more year of math in their schedule. The class will be run by math teacher Patricia Jacobsen. “We wanted to be able to accommodate those who have a really special love for math, so we aren’t cutting them off from advancing on what they’re really passionate and skilled at,” she said. Jacobsen said this class will be much more relaxed than her current AP Calculus class. “My job as an AP Calculus teacher is to prepare students and guide them through the AP Calculus curriculum,” she said. “With Linear Algebra, it will be a lot more fun because I don’t have to follow that AP schedule, and we can learn the ins and outs of those different subjects.” The class has been discussed in the past, yet this is the first year the school has had enough staff to do it., Jacobsen said. Jacobsen expects the class will have five students. The upcoming school year brings many changes to the AP English Literature and Composition 12 class, including dropping the AP curriculum. The class will be shifting into Advanced Topics in Literature, said English teacher Jason Hinojosa. Hinojosa said the AP class wasn’t worth the immense amount of test preparation because by the time seniors get credits for taking the exam, they’re already in college. The class will not be changing its

structure and will still focus on the same materials and books they have done in the previous years Hinojosa said. Hinojosa will also be introducing a Creative Writing elective for those passionate about writing. “Creative writing is a great way to combine my training and my personal interests,” he said. “I write fiction and have a masters in fine arts and creative writing, so this is really in my wheelhouse.” Hinojosa said they will be primarily focusing on narrative, writing different forms of poetry and storytelling. Hinojosa expects to have around 11 students in his Creative Writing elective next year and will continue teaching his current ninth grade English class. World History is going through yet another change, as current 10th grade history teacher Elizabeth Leavy took over halfway through the year for former World History teacher Bill Crabb, building off his class and making it her own. Leavy said the current 10th grade World History class will transform into the model of the AP Human Geography course next year, but on a more limited scope and without the AP aspect. “I felt like this was a good place to

place this course since it allows for a smooth transition from ninth grade World History and World Cultures into 10th grade Human Geography,” she said. Leavy said the change was made to give students a broader understanding of just the history of the world from different timelines. Leavy said the year after next year will be the last time AP Human Geography will be offered. “As of right now, AP Human Geography won’t be available next year because I didn’t want to take on the new 10th grade Human Geography and that at the same time,” she said. “But in the 2022-2023 school year, AP Human Geography will be offered one last time so students who came after the change will be able to take it.” Leavy said the 10th grade Human Geography course won’t differ far from the current one, covering subjects like human migration and how humans impacted the climate. In terms of workload, Leavy said she has a busy road ahead of her trying to plan a new curriculum. Finally, Glenn Mangold’s Great Books elective will not be offered next year due to his departure from the school.


Feature • May 25, 2021

The Octagon

Physics teacher’s departure creates gap for ‘big shoes to fill’



ver the past 13 years, Country Day high school students have gotten used to a few mainstays of the physics room: the bulky laptops from another era, the dusty “Conceptual Physics” textbooks and the reserved physics teacher, Glenn Mangold. However, Mangold will be exiting the scene at the end of this year, saying in an email to the student body that the school is “no longer a good fit for me as an academic workplace.” He added that his decision has nothing to do with students, their families or COVID-19. Mangold said Country Day students were the best students he has ever taught. He has no plans in place after he leaves the school, but he will be staying in Sacramento.

At Country Day, Mangold — who has a bachelor’s degree in physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a master’s degree in classics from the University of California, Santa Barbara — teaches freshman physics, AP Physics C and the Great Books electives: Introduction to Philosophy and The Bible. In the past, he also taught AP Calculus BC, which is now being taught by math teacher Patricia Jacobsen. “I like teaching physics a lot. I think it is important for students to know the laws of the universe and know how they are described mathematically,” Mangold said. In the fall, a new hire, Malak Abou Faour, will be teaching Physics and AP Physics C. Head of High School Brooke Wells, biology teacher Kellie Whited and chemistry teacher Victoria Conner were involved in the hiring process for his replacement, Whited said. Faour has a bachelor’s degree in physics and an online bachelor’s degree master’s in education from Lebanese University.

Glenn Mangold

MANGOLD IN MOTION After a high school graduation, the high school faculty and Head of School Lee Thomsen celebrate physics teacher Glenn Mangold (top row, fourth from left) winning the Francie Tidey Award. PHOTO BY EMILY ALLSHOUSE

Malak also has been teaching physics at a ing styles,” Whited said. high school for 13 years. Whited described Mangold as a mentor to Mangold began teaching at Country Day all who gives exceptional advice. in fall of 2007, transferring from Folsom “He’s someone that so many people go to High School after teaching there for a year. when they have a problem because we know Mangold previously taught at a Catholic he’s going to provide incredibly thoughtschool in Ohio for four years and at another ful advice and help you methodically work school for one year in Massachusetts. through the problem,” she said. At Country Day, Mangold quickly adjusted “And that’s such a gift to our community.” and became a well-respected teacher among Mangold first the faculty and stubegan teaching dent body. when he was in “Even though high school. He’s just the apex of he was kind of like “I knew I excellent teaching the new kid on the would do someblock, I started and someone I model my thing with looking to him for teaching since I classroom after even though used to help and not teaching advice, but teaching teach my classmates we have very different style,” Jacobsen in high school and teaching styles.” said. “I rememcollege,” he said. “I — Kellie Whited would tutor someber sitting in his classroom trying times for free and to absorb more sometimes for money.” of his style.” After graduating from MIT, Mangold Allison Zhang, ’19, described Mangold as worked as a components test engineer for “one of the best teachers” she’s ever had. two years before deciding he didn’t want “He knew how to teach so that everyone that as a career. was able to understand,” she said. “He was Eventually, Mangold and his wife moved well-liked by everyone, which is extremely to Sacramento. A year later, Mangold’s cahard to do, especially in a school filled with reer began at Country Day. great teachers.” Reflecting on his time at the school, ManZhang continues to use her AP Physics C gold said his favorite memory was of a girls notes in her college physics classes. basketball game around 2016. Marigot Fackenthal, ’17, said Mangold’s “Our team was losing, and it was evident advice and teaching style also influenced the other team was more skilled, but then her decision to go to Cornell. our coach put every girl on full-court press “He wasn’t that STEM teacher that was for the entire second half, and we won belike, ‘You like physics? Do physics for the cause we fought harder,” Mangold said. “Derest of your life. STEM is the way!’ He point- termination beat skill.” ed out to me that I was a person who liked News of Mangold’s departure was shockother topics and said maybe I should look ing to many, including Jacobsen. for a school that would give me a more “It’s our loss,” she said. “But the fact is, well-rounded education,” Fackenthal said. this will make Mangold happy, so good for Fackenthal and Zhang aren’t the only him. There are big shoes to fill, especially Country Day graduates who are thankful for because we’re losing someone who has so Mangold. much to offer, but I’m confident the school In 2019, Mangold was presented with hired someone who can do the job.” the Francie Tidey Award for Excellence in Jacobsen did find one bright spot in ManEducation, which honors a faculty member gold’s departure. who alumni decide has made an exceptional “Since he won the Francie Tidey award in contribution to the SCDS community. 2019, he won’t stop bragging about it,” she “He’s just the apex of excellent teaching joked. and someone I model my classroom after Mangold’s reply? even though we have very different teach“Which one is Jacobsen?”

History teacher leaves mark on National History Day program BY ARIKTA TRIVEDI After more than a decade of teaching at Country Day, history teacher and college counselor Chris Kuipers is ready to move on to the next phase of his life in the Pacific Northwest. The main reason for Kuipers’ move to Seattle is to be closer to family. Kuipers will be the Associate Director of College Counseling at the Overlake School in Seattle. During his 11 years as a teacher here, Kuipers has taught seventh-grade history, eighth-grade U.S. history and AP U.S. history in the high school. “My favorite class to teach was eighth grade U.S. history,” Kuipers said. “I’ve always been the most passionate about U.S. history. In eighth grade, students are mature and smart enough to have good, thoughtful, substantive discussions, but because they’re still in middle school, there’s still a certain playfulness.” Through all of the classes Kuipers has taught, a common factor is the National History Day project. When Kuipers first joined, the project was limited to the eighth grade. Now, as Kuipers departs, the project is done from seventh through tenth grade. Kuipers hopes that the NHD project will continue to grow. “I have a lot of pride in the program and I feel confident that it will stay strong and flourish for the years to come.” The success of the NHD program is one of Kuipers’ biggest accomplishments through his years as a teacher, said Head of High School Brooke Wells.

Kuipers is also appreciative of the connections he’s made with students. “I can open this filing cabinet right now and pull out a big file with all the different thank you notes and cards I’ve received from students over the years,” Kuipers said. “Being able to connect to individual lives and help students think differently about themselves or the world is what I’m most proud about.” The school Kuipers’ will be working at in Seattle is a fifth-12th grade school. “I’ll miss being at a school that’s pre-K through 12,” Kuipers said. “Aside from my personal interest of not being at the same school as my kids for a couple of years, there’s something special about seeing kindergarteners and high school students coming together. The cohesiveness of PK-12 creates a really special place.” Kuipers added that he’ll also miss his colleagues, many of whom have been at Country Day throughout his 11 years, watching the school grow and change. “When you go through that together, you build strong bonds,” he said. In short, Kuipers will miss the community. “He’s a wonderful colleague. Super smart, thoughtful and honest,” Wells said. “I’ll miss working with him.” Looking back on his experiences here, he has multiple favorite memories. “There’re a lot of big moments that jump out: the Renaissance Fair, the trip to Washington D.C. and moseying around D.C. with the tour guide,” Kuipers said. “There are also small moments just being in the hotel and cre-

ating connections with students whether it’s yelling at (junior) Dylan (Margolis) to be quiet in his hotel room, the long tour bus rides or having to spend the night in an airport due to the delayed flights. It’s just being part of that experience with the students that hold my best memories,” Kuipers said. He added that the small individual conversations with students and colleagues are all memories he’ll take with him. Junior Craig Bolman has had Kuipers since seventh grade and is currently in Kuipers’ AP U.S. His-

tory class. “He’s my favorite history teacher,” Bolman said. “He’s always good at driving discussion in the classroom and his in-class activities are always engaging. I’m sad to see him go.” Kuipers has always tried to push his students to see past the “conveyor belt mentality” of accumulating knowledge just to pass the next assessment. “Our purpose in life and our purpose in education is to make a difference and to make the best use of our time here,” Kuipers said.

Chris Kuipers

Through all his time here, Kuipers said that there isn’t anything he won’t miss. “I’ve had a really blessed time here. I think every community should always be changing and growing, so there are things we’re still working on, but I truly look forward to coming to work each day,” Kuipers said. “I’ll miss all of it, but I’m certainly excited for the next step.” Kuipers’ jobs will be divided into two different positions. The school will be hiring a history teacher and a college counselor, according to Head of High School Brooke Wells. As of May 19, replacements have not been announced.

MAKING HISTORY Chris Kuipers teaches his freshman World History class. After more than a decade at SCDS, Kuipers is moving to Seattle. PHOTO BY ARIKTA TRIVEDI

The Octagon

May 25, 2021 • Feature


Band director leaves legacy of ‘diverse’ music program



lthough he only intended to spend four years at Country Day, band director Bob Ratcliff is leaving the school after 21 years. Ratcliff, who is largely responsible for building Country Day’s music program, is returning to Boise, Idaho, to spend time with family. Ratcliff’s departure was due to a number of factors in addition to family. The pandemic created financial instability while his home in College Greens is worth more than it has ever been. It wasn’t a quick decision, either. Rather, the choice to leave was something Ratcliff had been contemplating for a few years. “The timing is right for me,” Ratcliff said. “I’ve built the program and pushed it as far as it’s going to go.” Senior Allie Bogetich has played with Ratcliff since fifth grade. “He’s a little old-fashioned, but I think he’s a very good instructor,” she said. Bogetich has played professionally at gigs with Ratcliff on multiple occasions, giving her multiple opportunities she likely wouldn’t have had otherwise. Brooke Wells said he will miss hearing Ratcliff play at assemblies and local venues. “He’s a phenomenal musician,” Wells said. “He leaves a good program.” It was due to some students and teachers that Ratcliff stayed longer than he intended. Ratcliff found the school through longtime friend Dan Ahlstrom, who was the orchestra director when Ratcliff came to SCDS. Only a few years after Ratcliff took the job, Ahlstrom received a serious cancer di-

agnosis. Ratcliff decided to stay teaching at the school and help him. After Ahlstrom left, Ratcliff grew close to the students in the graduating class of 2006, who helped contribute to the growing music program. “I wanted to see them graduate and that kept me an extra year,” Ratcliff said. After that, Ratcliff bought a house and he found himself settling in the Sacramento area. From there, Ratcliff continued to work on growing what would become a uniquely successful music program. At one point, Ratcliff was asked to model the growing band program off of another successful program. But there were none to be found. Schools the size of Country Day that had diverse and successful music programs were all dedicated music schools. “There are very few places in California where you can go to a school that has 130 or 140 kids in the high school and they have a concert band and jazz band and orchestra, chamber ensembles, choirs — and they’re all decent quality,” Ratcliff said. While Country Day’s music program may not be the biggest or best, Ratcliff has created a reputation that doesn’t go unnoticed. When Ratcliff attends conferences hosted by the California Music Educators Association, he is often chosen as a clinician to teach other band directors from local schools how to build programs. That reputation has been built on notable accomplishments by Ratcliff’s bands, including placements in the Reno Jazz Festival (2nd place in both 2012 and 2016) and an appearance by the high school Jazz Band at the highly-respected Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival in Idaho in 2013. Country Day’s band also was featured in the promotional video for the festival. “Being able to maintain a program as di-

AT MORNING’S FIRST LIGHT The band prepares to rehearse together for the first time in over a year by playing outdoors, using specialized personal protective equipment for their instruments. PHOTO BY EMILY ALLSHOUSE verse as our music program at a school that is not set up for it … it’s been a real effort,” Ratcliff said. But through that effort, he has developed a well-respected program in the music education community in Sacramento. “I’m really proud of that,” he said. He only has good things to say about the school. “I really like this school. I came here for four years and I stayed for 20. There’s got to be some good stuff.” Ratcliff will be succeeded by Kurt Pearsall, who has directed the middle school concert and jazz bands for the past four years, Wells said. Pearsall met Ratcliff in the early 2000s. The two have played in multiple bands together, but most notably, they played in a monthly big band for over a decade up until the pandemic. “What I will always remember about

Mr. Ratcliff is after knowing him for many years, I saw how happy he was when conducting a large group of musicians here at Country Day,” Pearsall said. Bogetich described Ratcliff as much more than a teacher. “He’s like a guidance counselor. Anytime I ever need advice on anything I can be like, ‘What would you do in this situation?’ and he would tell me some outlandish story from his childhood.” Ratcliff hopes Country Day’s music program will continue to see success, and he said he wants music literacy — the ability to read and write music — to survive. While Ratcliff won’t miss teaching during the pandemic, the musical facilities or trying to convince others he’s teaching a challenging academic class, he said he has valued his experience here. “It was worth it,” he said. “It was worth the time.”

Student-focused history teacher leaves after six years at SCDS BY JACOB CHAND High school history teacher Bill Crabb is leaving after teaching six years at Country Day. “He was a special teacher with the gifted ability to make everyone in class willing to learn,” said senior Keshav Ananad. Starting as a middle school substitute, Crabb taught math, Spanish and history. Crabb took over as a full-time teacher for the seventh grade World History class and numerous electives including Outdoor Education, Board Games and Model U.N. Crabb moved into the high-

school during his fourth year, teaching 10th grade World Cultures and AP Human Geography. Crabb also worked as one of the coaches for the esport team. “He’s always thinking about ways to make class more fun and is eager to help kids outside of class if they need something,” Anand said. One of Crabb’s favorite parts about Country Day is the school’s willingness to let teachers teach in their own unique way. “It allows us to flex what we’re good at, rather than basing our curriculum around a model we aren’t comfortable with.” Crabb said he’s going to miss a

HAPPY HIKING During a seventh grade field trip to Yosemite in 2018, Bill Crabb and former middle-school teacher Emily Eustace take a selfie on top of Sentinel Dome. PHOTO BY BILL CRABB

lot of things after he leaves, but nothing more than the daily interactions with his students and fellow teachers. “I’m going to especially miss my classroom neighbor, Mrs. LaComb. We’ve had some great discussions, and I couldn’t have asked for a better partner-incrime,” he said. “There’re also too many students I’ve had that have impacted me to count. The time we’ve had is irreplaceable, and they’re the reason why I do what I do.” Eighth and seventh grade English teacher Kathryn LaComb, will miss Crabb’s comradery and support. “We’ve had several great conversations about history and literature; he was truly more a friend than a colleague,” she said. LaComb said he always brought a sense of enthusiasm to her day, and often used him to discuss ideas and ways to make their classes better. LaComb said she will miss their shared passion and long talks about Game of Thrones the most. History board meetings getting nowhere, grading papers and scheduling classes are things Crabb said he won’t miss. His personal highlights include having early morning talks with other faculty who arrive at campus as early as he does and watching his students move all the way up from middle school into high school. Crabb only has a few regrets. “I really pushed for an Outdoor Ed. elective that would’ve been even better than our middle school one.” “I also regret not keeping a tal-

ly on all the ridiculous things my students said over the years. Being able to pull out a book of everyone’s quotes and embarrassing you at graduation would’ve been the best part.” In terms of future plans, Crabb plans to continue working with a friend in a start up business they created, designing and selling tabletop games and game supplements. Crabb is also contemplating jumping into graduate school to get his Ph.D at the University of California, Davis. Head of high school Brooke Wells said Crabb has left a lasting impact on the community at Country Day. “He’s significantly impacted our community with his great attitude and love for teaching. He’s been a tremendous part of our team here,” he said. Wells said Crabb has always had students’ best interest in mind, doing whatever it took to make them happy. “I remember one time on the sophomore trip, he woke up three early mornings in a row just so students could go fishing,” he said. Anand is currently in Crabb’s AP Human Geography class and is deeply saddened by Crabb’s retirement. He has many words he could use to describe Crabb, but the one that stands out is “selfless.” “He’s extremely student-driven

and wants to make sure we learn the material in a fun way,” he said. “He bases his curriculum more off what the students want to learn rather than what he thinks is best for us, which works great for me.” Anand said Crabb’s class is more centered around reading the concepts and understanding them, rather than constant busywork. To Anand, Crabb’s best quality is his experience with geography from travelling the world. “He’s lived in Japan, South America a n d different parts of the U.S., so he has really experienced different cultures and can back up his understanding of those places to create a curriculum,” he said. Anand said that it will be very difficult to find another person who mirrors Crabb’s overall optimism and experience. For senior Megan Kaschner, Crabb’s Human Geography class was one of her favorites this year. Kaschner said she didn’t know Crabb was leaving next year and was sad to hear the kids in coming years wouldn’t be able to have him as a teacher. “I think all the perspectives he’s brought into our class have been extremely eye opening, and he’s taught me so many things I wasn’t aware of,” she said. “He was really a positive figure to be around, and it’s terrible to hear people won’t be able to enjoy his optimism.”


Feature • May 25, 2021

The Octagon

Alumna, teacher infused diversity and justice in curriculum



lumna Alexis Covey, ’02, was once a student, then a teacher and is now ready to begin the next chapter of her life. After graduating, she earned her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Skidmore College in upstate New York, followed by a multi-subject teaching credential from Sacramento State University. In 2012, she began teaching at Country Day. “I have been at this school for a really long time,” Covey said. “It was just time for something new.” Covey plans to continue teaching outside of Country Day, but doesn’t have a complete plan yet. “I might go back to school and get my administrative degree or some leadership roles, but it was just time for a change of scenery and a change of pace.” Covey has had plans to move on for a few years, but this year, everything fell into place for her to leave. There were certain things that she was not ready to leave until now. “I have a team dedicated to the anti-racist and social-emotional curriculum second grade has developed over the years and I feel confident that they will continue that legacy and improve it in the future.” Head of Lower School Maisae Affour said the school has found a new teacher. The new teacher, Alexandra Lemmer, was raised in Los Angeles, California. She attended University of California Santa

Cruz where she obtained her Bachelor of Arts in Latin American/Latin Studies and Sociology. “In her application, she stood out as a passionate educator with experience in second grade in particular,” Affour said. “She has experience with social emotional learning as well as diversity and equity issues and would be a good match for our community.” Affour added that Covey will always have a special place in the Country Day community. “Since I’m new this year and due to COVID-19 restrictions, I haven’t been able to visit the classrooms like I usually would, so I only got to know Ms. Covey for a brief period of time,” Affour said. “She bonded very well with her students and infused an extensive amount of inclusion, diversity and equity learning opportunities for them, which is a crucial piece of her curriculum.” High school history teacher and college counselor Chris Kuipers has a daughter in Covey’s current class. He agreed that she had a great teaching style and will be missed. “Ms. Covey has been amazing,” Kuipers said. “My daughter just loves her. She challenges her to think, be creative and to love learning. She teaches her students about justice, equity and other important aspects of the world.” Kuipers also complimented Covey’s ability to teach during the hybrid schedule. “Ms. Covey made it super easy for her students to learn over Zoom. My wife and

BRISK BREAK Second grade teacher Alexis Covey talks to her students during a three-minute, move-around break. PHOTO BY MILES MORROW I both feel super lucky that Elsa was able to have her as a teacher.” Although Covey is leaving the school, she plans to maintain her connections here. “I’ll be staying in the Sacramento area. My parents and in-laws are here, so I’ll definitely be staying around,” Covey said. “I’ll also be on the substitute teacher list at Country Day and teaching at the summer

camp this summer.” After spending a fair part of her life at Country Day, Covey is going to miss the school. “From being a student here to watching the school change and grow, I have been able to experience a lot here,” Covey said. “I won’t be gone for good, but I have enjoyed my time here.”

Teacher leaves classroom environment after thirty years BY ROD AZGHADI Middle school science teacher Kelly Bornmann is leaving Country Day — transitioning from teaching students to teaching teachers. Bornmann joined Country Day in 2018 and teaches sixth grade science, is a sixth grade advisor, runs a study hall elective and helps out the lower school science program when needed. For the first time in 30 years, Bornmann won’t be teaching in a classroom. She will be working for the Education Records Bureau, a national not-forprofit with a goal to help independent and private schools use data from standardized tests to develop teacher instruction and curriculum. “It’ll give us a snapshot of what a student is as a learner and help parents understand that,” Bornmann said. She will work from home in Sacramento, occasionally visiting schools like Country Day for professional development and to give teacher workshops. It was a hard decision to make, Bornmann said. “It’s an opportunity for me to grow professionally and utilize skills that I had used earlier in my career,” she said. She will analyze data, work with adult learners and train

teachers. “This gives me a chance to serve education on the national level,” Bornmann said. Seventh grader Kerem Guvelioglu is grateful for having Bornmann as a teacher because she taught him effective note-taking strategies which he still uses today. “She gave detailed descriptions of the material we were learning which helped me better understand topics,” he said. Before coming to Country Day, she taught science to elementary students at a K-12 school in New York City. After moving to Sacramento in 2018 for family reasons, she decided to resume teaching in a middle school setting like she had done earli- er in

her career. Her favorite part about teaching is when students use the knowledge they’ve been taught and apply it during projects, Bornmann said. For example, every year students build a paper roller coaster using the physics concepts they’ve learned. Guiding sixth graders through their endof-the-year passion projects is another fond Country Day memory for Bornmann. “I get to coach each student through the scientific process and get them to become experts in their topic,” Bornmann said. Seventh grader Ryan Azghadi was a student of Bornmann’s last year who created a passion project. His project focused on the chemical reactions present while cooking a steak. Azghadi appreciated how Bornmann helped him through the research process and found reliable sources for him to use. “She helped me out a lot, and I couldn’t have done it without her,” Azghadi said. Bornmann’s biggest highlight and what she’ll miss most is the Scientists in the Field project — a collaboration between Bornmann, high school drama teacher Jane McGinnes and librarian Joanne Melinson. The six-week-long project is based on

a book series of the same name that has several books on a variety of science topics. Students pick a book from the series to study that features actual scientists doing field work. Students do academic research with Melinson and create virtual field trips to take their classmates on to teach them more about their topics. “Scientists in the Field is the absolute best because it allows us to do something interdisciplinary and students get to feel what it’s like to be a scientist,” Bornmann said. Her work in the project was praised by Head of Middle School Rommel Loria. “Her work with colleagues on the project bettered the sixth grade experience for everyone,” he said. However, Bornmann won’t miss teaching in a COVID-19 environment. The pandemic has prevented sixth grade from doing science labs, which is really tough because the program is so hands-on driven, Bornmann said. Loria and the science department are in the process of hiring someone to replace Bornmann. Bornmann’s enthusiasm for science is almost irreplaceable, Loria said. “For teachers and students to have that kind of resource and passion on campus is something that we’ll all miss,” Loria said.

CAPTIVATING CHEMICALS Middle school science teacher Kelly Bornmann makes a lava lamp with a pre-kindergarten student as they explore kitchen chemistry. She often works closely with the lowerschool science department, helping them out when needed. PHOTO COURTESY OF BORNMANN

The Octagon

May 25, 2021 • Feature


Pre-K program head plans to teach in Singapore school



irector of Pre-K Mitzi Mapa-Contes moved to Sacramento in 2018 and stepped onto Country Day’s campus tasked with re-imaging the Pre-K curriculum. Nearly three years later, Mapa-Contes plans to return to Singapore to teach at United World College of South East Asia. She had lived there for seven years and found the lifestyle and convenience of being in a big city appealing, so returning to Singapore to teach at United World College has always been her dream. In addition, being in Asia means she can visit her family in the Philippines frequently while also being able to travel easily to other Asian countries. “It’s such a dynamic multicultural city that is a really good place to live in for both me and my husband,” Mapa-Contes said. She said teaching at Country Day has provided many opportunities for her to grow as a teacher and make friends. “It really did feel like family,” she said. “I don’t have family in the States, so it felt really good to be part of a community where I felt it was like my second home.” She will miss the friendships she has built with her co-workers, her students and their families, she said. “Something that I really appreciate about my co-workers is the trust they put in me,” Mapa-Contes said. “I felt safe. I was able to innovate, try new things, make

mistakes and learn from them.” Mapa-Contes was also able to Stephanie Castillo, a co-teach- develop an enriching learning er in the Pre-K class said Ma- experience, which consists of six pa-Contes’ dedication to un- units of conceptual learning and derstanding children has been interactive play. inspiring to her teaching. The Pre-K curriculum is taught “We have had our fair share of through a structure where stulaughs together in Pre-K,” she dents learn through hands-on said. “People who work with 4- interaction guided with questions and 5-year-olds will never tire of posed by their teachers. their ability to turn even the most The school year is split up into challenging moments into ones six-week sections where stuthat make our hearts swell.” dents engage in Units of Inquiry. Head of Lower School Maisae Mapa-Contes’ highlights of the Affour has mixed emotions about school year are seeing her stuMapa-Contes moving. dents present their learning to “Part of me is very sad to see their parents at the end of each her leave our community and unit. move to Singapore,” Affour said. “It is so “But as beautiful an educato see chilIt felt really good to tor who dren take be part of a comworked ownership munity where I felt it was internaof their like my second home.” tionally, learning and — Mitzi Mapa-Contes really be very I am excited for proud of how her to far they’ve have an come,” Mapa-Contes said. enriching new adventure in her The only thing she will not miss career and life.” are the spiders on the playground. In the time she has worked with Mapa-Contes plans to carry Mapa-Contes, Affour noticed her over the same teaching methods passion in helping young stu- she has used at Country Day. She dents learn complex concepts like said there are a lot of similarities understanding and respecting between the programs. differences between each other. “We all say play is the work “Some notable strengths of of the child,” Mapa-Contes said. Mapa-Contes is her vision and “The only way we learn, even as passion for Pre-K, as well as her grownups, is when we explore, transformative leadership,” Af- tinker and have hands-on expefour said. “You don’t even have to riences with things we enjoy and go to PK to understand what I’m are interested in.” talking about. All you have to do As Mapa-Contes prepares for is watch PK kids skip their way to next chapter in her life, she still class in the morning.” plans to continue connecting with

ALL SMILES Pre-K Director Mitzi Mapa-Contes celebrates Spirit Week with Pre-K student Eloise (’32) and brother Ollie (’34) Pan in 2019. PHOTO COURTESY OF MAPA-CONTES the friends she made in America. As for the Country Day community she is leaving, she has confidence in her co-workers and its students to continue its rich curriculum in the coming years. “I’ll miss the program, but I am leaving with a very good certainty

that the team will continue this legacy of joyful learning, play and the wonder that we tried to cultivate with our youngest learners,” Mapa-Contes said. “I feel very confident that the program will continue to grow as it is in good hands.”

Tech director heads to The Field School in Washington, D. C. Principles, AP Computer Science A and Advanced Topics: Computer Science, which Head of Technology and high school she co-teaches with Unti. Students in ATCS computer science teacher Shelley Hinson take the AP Statistics exam. Unti said that the direction of ATCS Gougenheim is leaving Country Day to work at The Field School in Washington, depends on the new teacher, but it will hopefully function with collaboration D. C. High school computer science teacher between students working toMike Unti will take over as Interim Head ward a common goal on a of Technology, and the school will hire two project. Senior Lili new teachers to cover Hinson’s AP classes. She said her departure from the school is Brush is taking ATCS and bittersweet. took Hinson’s “I’m very, very sad to leave,” she said. Computer Unti said that his experience working AP Science A class in with Hinson has been fantastic. “She just has a wealth of experience,” her junior year. “Our class last he said. “It’s really wonderful first to work with a woman in STEM, but then to have year was probably her leadership and experience inform what my favorite class to go to because it was I do here.” Head of School Lee Thomsen also said super fun,” she said. Brush described the athaving a woman in STEM running the demosphere of her class as laidpartment was great to see. “She’s been here three years now. and back and interesting with students own pace on she was immediately embraced by our working at their assignments. community for her customer-friendly ap“As long as we proach,” he said. “It all got our work It has been fanhas been fantastic to done, she was have a talented womtastic to have a okay with playan teaching advanced talented woman teaching ing music, which level computer science made it a fun work advanced level computer classes.” environment,” she Hinson plans to science classes.” said. “It was like we work at The Field — Lee Thomsen were in an office and School’s technolowe were doing our gy department and build a program for its own work instead of in a classroom.” Senior Ashwin Rohatgi, who is taking AP students. Computer Science Principles, said Hinson’s “My goal is to be a tech director starting class is free-flowing. “It’s not like math programs,” she said. “I don’t like going into where you have to finish Lesson A and Lesones that are already set.” In her three years at Country Day, she son B by today; one lesson can take a bit established three AP computer science longer if needed.” Hinson said the highlight of her time classes and two computer labs and integrated technology into the lower and mid- at the school was seeing the accomplishments of her students. The school sent dle schools. Those classes are AP Computer Science teams to the HP Codewars competition in


2020 and 2021. “Competing in CodeWars the last two years — that’s a big thing for me,” she said. “I came from a place where we did programming contests and we made a name for our school. That’s what I wanted to do here.” The Students Who Assist with Technology team was another highlight for Hinson as well as the e-sports team she founded with high school teacher Bill Crabb. Unti plans to reintroduce the technology team to the campus in the coming year, with a focus on students solving problems independently. Beyond working with high school students, Hinson worked on other programs as head of the technology department. Because of the high internet requirements of Zoom, Hinson helped upgrade the school’s internet over the last year from 500 megabits to 2 gigabits. “We upgraded our entire network: our switches, our fiber, our firewall,” she said. “The school shouldn’t require anything from a network standpoint for the next seven to 10 years.” Thomsen said that the internet upgrade positively affected the lower, middle and high schools. Hinson also spent time working with the lower school by having lower school classes spend time in the middle school computer labs. She also helped increase the use of iPads in the lower school classrooms. However, COVID-19 and the transition of lower school heads meant that she wasn’t able to fully integrate the lower school with technology. “More of my time was spent building the program and building my computer science classes, and I didn’t get the amount of time I would have liked to get teachers

integrating technology,” she said. Despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, Hinson is proud of her accomplishments. “I think I’m leaving Country Day in a much better position, technology-wise, than when I started,” she said.


May 25, 2021


2021: a Lear

Seniors embark on new journeys, leave fo

Over $1 million in merit scholarships

215 total acceptances

268 AP Classes taken

CALIFORNIA California State University Maritime Academy ★ Shiva Wolf California State University, Chico ★ Jackson Knapp California State University, Sacramento ★ Shelly Zalezniak ★ Malek Nabhani Harvey Mudd College ★ Kenyatta Dumisani Santa Clara University ★ Nate Leavy Stanford University ★ Allie Bogetich ★ Sarina Rye University of California, Berkeley ★ Stephanie Ye University of California, Davis ★ Elijah Azar ★ Olivia Chilelli ★ Om Sharma (gap year) University of California, Los Angeles ★ Connor Pedersen ★ Ming Zhu University of California, Merced

★ Jack Goselin University of Califo ★ Charlie Acquisto University of Califo ★ Martin Cao ★ Brian Chow ★ Meghan Kaschn ★ Joanne Tsai University of Califo ★ Carter Joost ★ Ashwin Rohatgi ★ Michael Tovar University of the Pa ★ Athena Lin University of South ★ Layla MoheyEld Woodland Comm ★ Anna Fluetsch COLORADO University of Denv ★ Colin Usrey GEORGIA Georgia Institute o ★ Keshav Anand INDIANA Purdue University ★ Lili Brush

The Octagon


rning Odyssey

or colleges across country, around globe

ornia, Riverside o ornia, San Diego


ornia, Santa Cruz


hern California din munity College


of Technology

Admitted internationally in Canada, the United Kingdom and Ireland

Indiana University at Bloomington ★ Sydney Turner MASSACHUSETTS Northeastern University ★ Avinash Krishna Tufts University ★ Hermione Xian NEW YORK New York University ★ Kaelan Swinmurn University of Rochester ★ Pragathi Vivaik NORTH CAROLINA Duke University ★ Bri Davies WASHINGTON University of Puget Sound ★ Elise Sommerhaug ★ Erin Wilson IRELAND National University of Ireland, Maynooth ★ Hana Lee UNDECIDED ★ Hayden Boersma

24 students will stay in California

17 students will attend an urban college



Opinion • May 25, 2021

The Octagon

EDITORIAL: Always wearing masks during all outdoor sports just isn’t reasonable


t’s a sweltering hot day, and Country Day soccer players are sprinting around the field at the Cherry Island Sports Complex. The student athletes start with masks all on, but one by one, the rigorous exercise gets to them. Masks start pulling down as players try desperately to catch their breath. By the time the game is in full swing, only one or two Country Day students can still manage to play with their masks on. The players from the opposing school never brought masks on the field to begin with. So why the double standard? Most schools in the league don’t require masks for soccer players on the field. Country Day added its own requirements for sports masking in an admirable but misguided attempt to go above and beyond for safety. Country Day students are essentially required to wear masks at all times while playing, which works perfectly fine for some sports. Golf, for example. It’s generally a less strenuous activity, so players can easily walk around with a mask on. Golfers also usually play quite far from one another, upwards of 10 meters on occasion, so students also are able to take a quick mask break. But the problem is that it’s just not practical in some other situations. In soccer, the high-intensity play means that it’s really hard for athletes to breathe with a mask, and since it’s all outside in a wide-open area, that’s reasonably safe.

Dylan Margolis

Cinema is dying

“Playing It Safe” by Lilah Shorey Tennis is similar; players are often half a court apart. Masks shouldn’t need to be required in these circumstances. The story is a bit different for indoor sports. Both volleyball and basketball are in the middle of their seasons, and they’re both played in school gyms. Because the coronavirus spreads far more readily indoors, masks should be required, especially for basketball, a contact sport. However, if enough other precautions are taken, then mask rules can become looser. Students already have to take weekly COVID-19 tests to play in basketball games, and many already have

been vaccinated. The CDC also has released new guidance as of May 14 that practically eliminates mask-wearing recommendations for those vaccinated. So, eventually, if each player can present a negative test and is, most importantly, vaccinated, then masks should become an optional safety measure for indoor sports as well. This should also be the expectation for next year, should the daily case counts continue to improve. Masks, while providing a good layer of safety, are just not great for exercising.

EDITORIAL: Students should be vaccinated As of May 10, COVID-19 vaccines are now available to all high school students. It falls on Country Day, then, to decide how much to encourage students to be vaccinated by the next term. We think that the school should heavily encourage student vaccination, and any still-cautious parents should vaccinate their kids before fall. It’s the safest way to have school in person and finally do away with masks and distancing. Since the massive U.S. vaccine rollout, the country has seen a slow decline in daily COVID-19 cases, almost back to the spring levels right after the initial lockdowns. This seems to suggest that vaccinations, in fact, work. The CDC’s recent May 12 mask-wearing recommendations seem to recognize that those vaccinated don’t need masks

in most circumstances. Barring an unwelcome surprise, that means vaccinations could end the lockdowns and social distancing of the last year. Country Day, at least, would love to have that. Most students would agree that learning is just not as effective over Zoom. Faculty and students would also be happy to shed social distancing and masking if safe. Having all students vaccinated would be the easiest way to get to that stage. Ideally, it should be a school requirement like other common vaccines are, although there are some legal issues around requiring a vaccine that only has FDA emergency approval. It falls, then, on any remaining parents to get their kids vaccinated, and the benefits far outweigh the risks.

Cartoon goes here (18pt by 21.6 pt)

“Stay Outta Covid Trouble, Get Your Vaccine Bubble” by Charlie Acquisto

For one, this would be the safest option for having students on campus. Having the entire high school campus vaccinated practically makes us as safe as preCOVID times. California recently released statistics on COVID-19 cases, and there have been less than 200 deaths in those vaccinated. That’s a good vaccine there. As for the risks, a common reason given by those hesitant is that the vaccine may be unsafe, because it’s new and only emergency-approved and no one knows the long-term effects. Not really true. Half the country has had vaccine shots, and we haven’t seen any widespread issues. As for long-term effects, we would have seen some indication by now in some fraction of the population if that were a problem. Another reason, used most by young adults, is that they just don’t need the vaccine. This is also not true. Young people are not immune, and vaccines can only add to your safety. Availability isn’t an issue either, most vaccination sites now have readily open appointment slots. Country Day is even partnering with Albertsons/Safeway Pharmacy for its own one-time vaccine clinic, providing Pfizer doses to students and parents aged 12 and up. There are only a couple general reasons to not get a vaccine. For required vaccinations, exceptions are generally made for medical conditions or religious beliefs. Other than that, parents really have no excuse for vaccinating their kids. With vaccines, we get to shed social distancing and masks, finally have a normal school year again. Vaccine holdouts shouldn’t drag out the pandemic for all of us. Parents, you need to get your children a COVID-19 shot for the next school year.

The most magnificent art form, film, is rapidly declining, a tragic occurrence that can and should be prevented. But what is causing this demise? The lack of recognition from a young age. Children are taught that books are the only source of academic knowledge, an absurd assumption, which needs to change as soon as possible. The only way to accomplish this necessary task is by teaching films in schools. Films need to be recognized as commensurate to novels; this doesn’t mean that some class who just finished reading the Great Gatsby watches parts of either of the subpar films and calls it quits. Units need to be set out to analyze influential and innovative films such as the thoughtfully written “Citizen Kane” or the beautifully shot “2001: A Space Odyssey.” In a perfect world, I would require a film course for all students, but a unit or two would most likely do the trick. I would specifically recommend these two films to be included in a film course, or a film unit, due to their timelessness and discuss-ability. Both films discuss significant themes that infrequently appear in other curriculums, such as “Citizen Kane’s” depiction of power and corruption or “2001: A Space Odyssey’s” depiction of the devolving human race. As an added plus, “Citizen Kane” is rated PG by the MPAA, and “2001: A Space Odyssey” is rated G, so they fit well in a high school or even possibly middle school setting. Some could argue that students gain less from assignments not involving literature, yet students are already assigned argumentative essays on prompts unrelated to literature, so why can’t they be realigned toward film? At Country Day, film is not completely out of the curriculum. For instance, in sophomore year, an English assignment is given to compare the hero’s journey present in “The Odyssey” with a movie of each student’s choice. In junior year, students are tasked with writing an essay deciding which adaptation of “The Great Gatsby” is most faithful to the book after watching one scene. Don’t get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoy these assignments, but they further enhance the negative belief that movies are less than novels. The only time we ever watch even part of a movie is if it pairs with the book we are currently reading, which sends a bad message to students. Film needs to be represented as art, not valueless pieces of entertainment, and I hope that one day that will be a much more widespread opinion.

A BIG THANK YOU TO OUR SPONSORS FOR KEEPING US IN THE BLACK! Anand family, Claire family, Cook family, Kumar family, Intel Foundation, Gulati family, Monasa family, Trivedi family, Zhu family

The Octagon

May 25, 2021 • Opinion


The Last Piece of the Puzzle Octagon seniors conclude their stories at Country Day


oining in as a sophomore, my story at Country Day seems relatively short compared to my classmates. Plus, it feels like my senior year went by even more quickly in this weird pandemic era. When I sit down to write and wonder what I should say goodbye to, a mix of memories comes flooding back to me. Sophomore year to me was a mess. I was overwhelmed by everything that was thrown at me. Although I have learned English since first grade in China, knowing how to do grammar problems or taking English tests clearly didn’t help a lot — I couldn’t even come up with any coherent sentences when speaking. I was so nervous and embarrassed that I was close to tears when I stood in front of the English class for the first time to talk about why I’m in California. I recalled my helplessness and sorrow when I got a 32% on my “Exodus” reading quiz, which made my grade drop by 20%. Sitting in the corner of the classroom, the girl who got beaten up by English 10 so badly could never imagine the following two years of AP English. Additionally, the four-day class trip meant a lot to me that year. After the wonderful horseback riding trip, I was more comfortable being part of the class, which should be attributed to my awesome cabin-mates Erin, Sarina and Allie. It rained a lot during those few days, and many group events got canceled, but in return, we had more time to spend in our small cabin and play card games together. The thrilling rafting trip in Ashland set a keynote of my crazy junior year. It was freezing and tiring yet extremely fun, just like my junior year: busy but fulfilling. Besides taking on challenging courses, I enjoyed participating in more extracurricular activities. At first, I felt quite lost as the only new staffer joining The Octagon that semester. I was just trying my best to complete all the photo assignments yet constantly worrying about if I did it right.

However, helpful advice from photo editors, encouraging texts from the online editors-in-chief and small praises from my classmates had given me powerful impetus to grow as a photographer over the year. Likewise, I received a lot of help from my teammates in Mock Trial, during which I have learned plenty of useful speaking techniques. Most of my senior year was spent in my bedroom, or more specifically by the desk or in the bed. Probably no one wants to know how I finished packages of gummies when I was stressed out by the college apps, so I am going to talk about things that I missed and some “unfinished business.” First of all, for my whole junior year, I have been looking forward to designing pages and enjoying dinner with staffers at school, but clearly, the pandemic ruined whatever I had imagined. It would have been much more fun to work in a room with all the other page editors, but it sounds unrealistic in the age of COVID-19. Despite that, page design was definitely thorny but interesting to play with. Moreover, I missed advisory meetings and lunches with Ms. Melinson so much. We enjoyed so many delicious snacks and dishes together. I wish we could cook together in that small office and have lunch with our advisory buddies in the library one more time. I wish I could taste Ms. Melinson’s special chow mein, Stephanie’s potsticker and Anna’s banana cupcake one more time. But, my biggest regret is that I haven’t been to prom once in my three years at Country Day! Obviously, not going to prom in my sophomore year was a mistake. What a shame that I am going to graduate from high school without experiencing prom. I hope graduation will make up for this. After all, my story at Country Day was probably far from perfect, but I guess the nature of imperfection is what made it the perfect ending for my high school experi-

ence. With cherished memories and a few left-behind regrets, it’s time for me to say goodbye. Farewell, my three years of high school. Farewell, Country Day.

And, farewell, my fellow classmates and my dear teachers.

One afternoon after school, I called a friend to work on our homework together. Through my phone, I could hear Debussy’s “Clair de Lune” playing faintly in the background. For him, the music helps him focus, but that wasn’t the case for me. Gradually, my pencil slowed as I grew absorbed in the music.

I’ve always enjoyed classical music; in fact, I only really listened to classical music before high school. I had a short-term fascination with pop genres shortly after the beginning of freshman year, but I still regard classical music as one of the most complex and fascinating genres of music. Now, as I write possibly my final story in The Octagon, I feel the need to advocate

for your trusty studying music. Classical music is widely seen as a boring genre from a bygone era. It’s true that the genre is old, but it’s much more than pretty background noise. Of course, there are classical pieces such as Pachelbel’s “Canon in D,” Beethoven’s “Fur Elise” and Mozart’s “Eine Kleine Nachtmusik” that are commonplace and well-known — maybe not by name, but definitely by their melodies. However, to most of us in high school, classical music is no more than some sound that helps with focus. As more genres of music are developed, classical music can’t compete with the flash and flair of the newer pop genres. Where classical music shines is its sole reliance on a harmony of natural sounds produced by instruments. Not only does the composer have to piece tens of different parts together, the players also need to understand how their respective parts need to be played. By listening carefully to every instrument in an orchestral performance, you can truly immerse yourself in the composition as you discover how each instrument contributes to the harmony. Compared to contemporary music, most classical music has more focus on its harmonies rather than lyrics. Despite the lack of words, classical music holds no less meaning in its composition compared to contemporary music. What meaning classical music lacks in lyrics is made up for in its melodies. For example, Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring” depicts a brutish and ancient ritual where a maiden dances herself to death as a sacrifice to the gods of spring. To convey the savagery of the ritual, Stravinsky switches between mystical melodies and jarring and erratic chords, startling the au-

dience with a piece unlike any other classical composition. Other pieces can convey immense energy. The first movement of Mahler’s “Symphony No. 8” is centered around a Gregorian chant, yet the piece sends a jolt of awe through my spine when I hear its opening. Also known as “The Symphony of a Thousand,” the symphony opens with an organ chord followed by the entire ensemble. The sound charges the audience with a sense of both harmony and power, especially when hundreds of performers sing at once — it quite literally sounds like the voice of God. Sometimes, context helps greatly with interpreting classical music. Shostakovich’s “Symphony No. 5” is composed with many references to Russian nationalist music themes, but it has a strained undertone in almost every movement. This piece was Shostakovich’s way of silent protest against Stalin’s regime. His piece had to please Stalin while still expressing the anguish he feels about the regime, so he incorporated nationalist themes to please Stalin and weaved in negative emotions. At times, the piece feels cheerful and lively. Other times, it conveys a sense of distress, oppression and sadness. Once you know the context of a piece, it starts to make much more sense and makes classical pieces much more appreciable. In your English classes, you might hear that literature takes many forms. Classical music, like all music, is one of them. It may take some effort to interpret a piece, but the enjoyment of understanding is worth it. So, as I finish up my final words in this paper, I urge you to give classical music another try. Set aside some time to dig deeper into your studying music, and you may find it as rewarding as I do.

Ming Zhu


Hermione Xian


Sports • May 25, 2021

The Octagon




Soccer Despite difficulties surrounding the pandemic, Country Day’s co-ed soccer team won eight of its nine games. Co-coach Matt Vargo could not be prouder. “It’s just like anything else. The more time you put in, the more you’re going to get out of it,” he said. With most of the team showing up to Monday and Thursday practices and committing time to individual improvement, Vargo said that the strong performance is to be expected.

“I think we stepped up to the games that we had to step up to, and even the games where we played down to the opponent’s level, we still won,” said sophomore center midfielder RJ Vargo. Looking into next year’s season, Coach Vargo has high hopes. “We only have one senior this year, so the majority of the team will be back bigger, stronger and faster than ever,” Coach Vargo said. “If all goes to plan, we will be competing for a spot in the playoffs this time next year.”


Cross Country The cross-country team finished itsseason strong with three athletes, sophomore Grace Eberhart, freshman Derek Taylor and sophomore Adam Akins, making it to the championships on April 2. Coach Joe Hartman is very proud of his team “Overall, given the trying circumstances of a COVID-19 year, our season went nearly as well as could be expected,” Hartman said. “Hopefully fall 2021 will be a more normal season with better preparation, bigger meets and the possibility of full five-person teams. With the removal of distractions and restrictions and the anticipated influx of some tremendous talent, fall 2021 may turn out to be a banner year.” Although the team performed especially well given the circumstances, the runners expressed their concerns on the size of the team. “I think for this year I did ok, especially since this year was cut short. But it’s hard to say because in my previous race, I was racing against all guys since I’m the only

girl on the team,” Eberhart said. One of the biggest issues of the year was the size of the team. “We had overall good times, and we could have won some races if the team was bigger. Even if all of us came in first, we would lose to a bigger team simply because it was bigger,” said freshman Orlando Ponce Blas. Hartman is looking forward to the next sports season. “Hopefully we can have to return to pre-COVID settings, and the students can enjoy the benefits of training and racing for an extended period of time and really feel good about their accomplishments. There are several newcomers in the fall of 2021 who should give the program a huge boost and allow us to compete on a team level with not only the schools in our league but also the Sac-Joaquin Section Division 5 as well,” he said. Akins also has high expectations for next season. “Practice was limited and competition was strange, but we all improved,” said sophomore Adam Akins. “I’m looking forward to a normalized and better season next year.”


Varsity Volleyball Country Day’s high school varsity volleyball team has won two games and lost two games. Despite this, the biggest challenge in the season came from COVID-19, but not from wearing masks, said High school volleyball coach Jason Kreps. “COVID-19 has made us not have a full gym. That has probably been our biggest challenge; we are unable to play on a full court,” Kreps said.


Still, the team enjoyed great momentsplaying against Western Sierra. Stand out moments in the game was the rallies. “The fourth game we were playing was a super close battle, back and forth. We ended up losing 27-25, but we just had some awesome rallies,” Kreps said. Another stand out moment for Kreps was when the crowd erupted in cheers for sophomore Haylee Holman.

“I know that Haylee got one arm over it, and got it over the net, and we scored the point.” Freshman Zoe Genetos said she was looking forward to this season because she enjoyed Kreps as a volleyball coach, but she misses playingwith the seniors. “I’m actually really excited by what I do because we’ll get a whole new bunch of girls from JV and play new games.”

JV Volleyball Country Day junior varsity volleyball coach Aleitha Burns was thrilled to see girls with knowledge and talentpracticing volleyball on the first practice on April 13th. “There were six girls who were rallying; they could pass, they could set. I knew we had girls who could play,” Burns said. Practices are hard because the

teamcan use only half of the gym. The other half is currently being used as a high school study hall. But their half of the gym only has a single sport at a time. “Just having one sport also has made it a little easier. Right now, it’s just volleyball. Jason Kreps, who coaches varsity, and myself are able to alternate every other day’s practices.”


1 Junior Arjin Claire (left) and sophomore Felix Wu (right); 2 Freshman Derek Taylor; 3 Freshman Kaitlyn Dias; 4 Sophomore Liz Cook and freshmen Mia Crowder and Katie Espinoza; PHOTOS BY ARIKTA TRIVEDI AND ARIJIT TRIVEDI; COURTESY OF JOE HARTMAN

The Octagon

May 25, 2021 • Sports


Athletes, coaches reflect on shortened, delayed 202021 sports seasons under new COVID-19 guidelines Ski and Snowboard

The ski and snowboard team has had many triumphs this season, which was shorter this year with six races. The highest scorer, junior Hailey Fesai, placed sixth overall in the league. Coach Jason Kreps said one of his favorite memories from the season was when Fesai placed second in the slalom race on Feb. 26, which was her best finish yet. Kreps said he was proud to see Fesai end the season sixth overall in the league, especially after her injury last year. Fesai broke her femur in her right leg last year, which resulted in a surgery. Fesai started the season on the same hill where she had been severely injured. Fesai said although she had a rough start to the season, she was able to recover from her injury both mentally and physically and work her way up to the podium. Fesai hopes that next year she will be able to connect and interact with other players at races.


Tennis Country Day’s tennis team has a 3-2 lead as of May 11. The team lost two of the five matches to Forest Lake, but won both matches against CCAA and another against Golden Sierra. “I’m not going to take the first loss to heart because I know that everyone played their best,” said junior and co-captain Sanjana Anand. The season is unusual with no playoffs or championships and a total of five matches as of May 11. “I’m glad we’re even able to play in the first place, and having a season at all is great,” said coach Jamie Nelson. Senior co-captain Keshav Anand has liked how the season has gone so far. “While my favorite thing about tennis is playing it, I also really enjoy the connections and social interactions between my teammates,” Keshav said. Nelson said he’s proud about how everyone’s been playing, and he’s optimistic about the next season. He hopes everything can go back to normal so they can have playoffs and championships again.


Golf At the end of Country Day’s golf season, sophomore Samrath Pannu had the lowest score of 39 points for nine holes. The golf team lacked the six players necessary to be counted as an official team, so only individual scores were counted. Junior Nihal Gulati and freshman Delsyn Beaton both improved tremendously, said golf coach Matt Vargo. Gulati was proud of hitting par but wants to improve his short game, and Beaton aims to refine his putting. All three players were really focused on improving their games, Vargo said. Pannu, who has been playing golf the longest, plans to improve the reliability and accuracy of his shots for the next season. “In the first few matches, I was on and off consistency-wise, but to-


ward the end of the season I improved drastically, and I want to keep that momentum,” Pannu said. The golf season had a late start due to COVID-19 and because other schools were unwilling to begin their seasons. The team had to follow safety guidelines, which included wearing masks while playing. “I was restricted during games because I couldn’t breathe and my glasses often got foggy,” Pannu said. “Occasionally, I would have to step away from the group to take the shot, but I’m grateful that everyone was understanding.” The golf team practiced at Haggin Oaks, where it has practiced for years. Vargo aims to get more players on the team next year and have the team continue to grow and improve.

Track and Field Country Day’s track and field team finished its season May 12 at Forresthill High School. The team finished the meet with undefeated times by junior Zola Grey with a 100-meter sprint in 12 minutes, 48 seconds and a 200-meter sprint in 27 minutes, 28 seconds; second fastest times by junior Craig Bolman with a 200 in 24 minutes, 12 seconds and a 400 in 54 minutes and sophomore Natalie Park with shot put length at 21 feet, 4 inches. Although the season was short due to

COVID-19, coach Rick Fullum has seen a lot of improvement within the team and is satisfied with their results. “This was our last meet, and SCDS left a positive impact on our league’s track and field competitors, coaches and fans,” Fullum said. “All have improved from the first track meet. It was a short but very rewarding season for everyone,” Fullum said. “They all hit their best times or distance and reached most of their goals. The future looks good for SCDS track and field.”


5 Junior Hailey Fesai; 6 Junior Sanjana Anand; 7 Freshman Delsyn Beaton; 8 Sophomore Grace Eberhart (left) and senior Olivia Chilelli; PHOTOS COURTESY OF FESAI AND BY ARIKTA TRIVEDI

The Octagon

May 25, 2021 • Feature


Senior pursues lifelong fascination with marine biology “Meghan’s passion for ocean life is evident in all that she does,” said Debby Kaschner, Meghan’s mother. “Any opporortraits of cartoon fish lined the sea- tunity she has to discuss it, she capitalizes foam green walls of senior Meghan on.” Kaschner’s nursery. Below them, In elementary school, Kaschner freaquatic stuffed animals sat propped quented the neighborhood bookstores in up in a crib. From the moment she arrived search of ocean books. home from the hospital, Kaschner’s life re“There would be big tables full of bargain volved around the ocean. books,” recalled Debby Kaschner. “I just reKaschner is a Girls Inc. award winner, UC m e m b e r noticing how San Diego commit, artist and, more than drawn to them she was. It all else, a lover of all was kind of like things oceanic. It was kind of like this fascination “When I was about started, and this fascination 5 years old, I reit never really ceived my first chil- started, and it never really stopped. It just dren’s ocean life stopped. It just kept growkept growing.” e n c y c l o p e d i a ,” Meghan credited ing.” Kaschner said. her ability to pur— Debby Kaschner sue STEM with the “Immediately, I fell in love.” support she found Growing up in at Girls Inc. Santa Fe, New Mexico, “I started Girls Inc. at about 5 years old,” Kaschner’s encounters with the ocean were she said. “Effectively, it is an organization limited. that tries to instill traits like strength and “It’s kind of ironic,” she said. “I was so far intelligence in girls throughout the counfrom the ocean, and yet, it made up such a try, and it was there that I was first introlarge aspect of my life.” duced to STEM.” Still, Kaschner succeeded in incorporatThroughout the years, Girls Inc. funcing her lifelong passion into her everyday tioned as a second home for Kaschner. activities. She developed friendships, discovered the At age 8, Kaschner and her family moved outdoors, and most importantly, continued to a new home in Santa Fe. Among its ameher interest in manities was a koi pond. rine biology. “Each evening, I’d come home from The sumschool and Girls Inc. and head mer before right for the pond to feed the fish,” her sophoKaschner said. more year, Some hid beneath the Kaschner’s familily pads while others dartly relocated to Saced toward the food. ramento. “They each As with any move, it had their own was difficult at first, but personaliKaschner soon discovered ties, and the a community of fellow ocean lovers. fact that we At Mira Loma High School, Kaschner could distinguish them f a s c i n a t e d joined the Ocean Bowl team. “Immediately, I knew I had found people my 8-year-old self,” she rejust like me,” she said. called. The National Ocean Sciences Bowl is an Although a pond fire forced Kaschner to rehome her fish, subsequently academic competition that tests students ending the ritual, her interest only escalat- on their understanding and expertise surrounding oceanography. Subjects include ed from that point onward.



anything from biology and chemistry to soWhen Kaschner decided to leave Mira cial science and technology. Loma in search of a more engaging STEM Although Kaschner’s specializations curriculum, she was forced to sacrifice were in physical oceanography, maritime Ocean Bowl. history and marine policy, she said ev“I definitely miss the experieryone had a solid foundation in all of ences,” she said. “It was wonthe topics. derful, but at the same time, “Since we all learned about every sinI think Country Day has been a gle topic, we were able to help great place for me.” one another when something With the transition, Kaschner wasn’t making sense,” she discovered new ways to incorposaid. rate and relate marine biology to Kaschner’s friend and her classes and extracurriculars. fellow teammate Na“I am currently reading a book dine Riddle remembered about marine diseases,” Kaschner Kaschner as an expert in said. “As my class goes through the ecolall subjects. ogy unit of AP Bio, I am noticing a lot of “Meghan was more committed to Ocean overlap, which I think is super exciting. I Bowl than many people actually wasn’t expecting there to be so I knew,” she said. “She much marine biology in AP Bio, so I have constantly had various been pleasantly surprised.” ocean textbooks by her Biology teacher Kellie Whited recogside that she would read in her nized Kaschner’s fascination almost imspare time. Obviously, she was brilliant in mediately. all of her topics, but she also never failed “While her main interest is marine biolto help others when they were struggling.” ogy, she honestly appears to be equally fasAt their first regional competition at cinated by every single topic we cover,” she California State University, Monterey Bay in February 2019, Kaschner could hardly said. “But I find myself adding new marine biology examples to the AP Biology curriccontain her excitement. “It was my first time being around so ulum this year just for Meghan because it so happy.” many other people who wanted to study makes her In college, the ocean in its enKaschner intirety,” Kaschner It was moments like tends to pursaid. “Their knowledge was definitely sue her pasthose, by the beach, intimidating at first, talking with everyone sion with a but I loved it.” major in maabout the ocean, that I saw rine biology. Riddle recalled an experience Meghan at her happiest.” “The marine with Kaschner — Nadine Riddle biology major at the day before UC San Diego is the competition. actually through the Scripps Institution “It was a rainy F e b of Oceanography, which is one of the top ruary night,” she said. “And we were all centers in the world for marine science rewading through the water looking for seashells. We were completely soaked, but we search,” she explained. “I’m extremely excited because it means that all the research couldn’t have been having a better time.” When the team returned to the hotel, vessels, or many of them, that Scripps has they stayed up late into the night studying. are offered to the students.” Despite being unsure of her exact profes“I just remember how much fun we had,” said Riddle. “It was moments like those, by sional goals, Kaschner remains certain that the beach, talking with everyone about the marine biology and the ocean will continue ocean, that I saw Meghan at her happiest.” to play a significant role in her life.

A WHALE OF A TIME Meghan Kaschner (third from right) poses with teammates at Sea Lion Bowl, the Central & Northern CA Regional Competition of the National Ocean Sciences Bowl, in February 2019. PHOTO COURTESY OF KASCHNER

May 25, 2021 • Arts & Entertainment

The Octagon


















omadland,” written and directed by Chloe Zhao, won three of its seven nominations at the Academy Awards, including best picture, best director and best actress, but does it live up to these prestigious titles? Most definitely. “Nomadland” follows the story of Fern, a woman living out of her van, steadily traveling the country in hopes of finding parttime paid employment before driving on. The plot is reasonably simplistic, yet that supports the heavy character-driven narrative displayed throughout the 110-minute runtime. Unlike the modern blockbuster’s customary protagonists, Fern lacks the superheroic characteristics that are incredibly one-sided (cough cough MCU cough cough). On the contrary, she doesn’t fall into the trap of the unsurprising trauma-induced character featured in the yearly Oscar bait.

Fern and her compatriots seem like rational everyday people you might bump into at the supermarket, which sells the narrative that a lot of these “nomads” live in vans by choice, not necessarily for financial reasons. Subtlety embodies Fern’s character due to her introverted nature, furthering a sense of reality in the film. If acted poorly, subtlety can misfire, dragging down the protagonist, and furthermore, the rest of the film. Furthermore, when the main character appears flat or lacking emotion, the audience begins questioning the value of the film rather than living in the created world as they should. Francis McDormand, the actress who portrayed Fern, depicts her character believably, serving her purpose ideally. The responsibility of an actor or actress is to convince the viewer that they are telling the truth. Depending on the film, achieving this goal may be more demanding, but that should be the actor or actress’s entire objective. McDormand, arguably one of the great-

est actresses of our time, understands her purpose, thoughtfully delivering her lines without a fault. She pairs excellently with Zhao’s directing style, eloquently presenting a slow yet thoughtful experience. Zhao, who won the title of best director, continued her consistent style from her previous films, including both actors and real-life people to tell their own true stories. At a quick glance, this may appear off-putting, mixing reality and fiction, but the blend creates a narrative with enjoyable elements from both genres. Fiction films have value due to their way of mirroring life and allowing for a more structured storyline to occur, yet they frequently stray too far, losing any sense of substance. Non-fiction films, which directly depict life, provide a medium for transparent and realistic messages to be easily portrayed, but they can quickly become predictable, losing their entertainment value. Zhao mixes these two opposites by removing the predictability of a non-fiction film but retaining the significance a true


story may contain. Toward the end of the film, Bob Wells, a real-life “nomad,” talks about his son, who had passed away a few years prior, in one of the most powerful scenes. Tragically, Wells discusses how his son took his own life, and as his eyes begin watering, he admits that he has told this to almost no one. As he continues to speak, his voice starts to stutter; this isn’t part of the fiction written by Zhao. The complete account by Wells is accurate; his son sadly died by his own hand five years before the film. Wells proceeds to deliver the best monologue in the movie. “One of the things I love most about this life is that there’s no final goodbye. I’ve met hundreds of people out here, and we don’t ever say a final goodbye. We just say ‘I’ll see you down the road.’ And I do. Whether it’s a month or a year or sometimes years, I see them again. I can look down the road, and I feel certain in my heart that I’ll see my son again.”




SOUL BY DYLAN MARGOLIS Out of the unimpressive other films, “Soul” won the Oscar for best animated feature film, a reasonably fair choice—but the movie lacks anything special. Joe, a middle-school band teacher with a passion for jazz, seeks to bring that dream of going professional to fruition. But, death comes knocking at his door, sending him to the afterlife, where he refuses to accept his untimely demise. This plot has nothing inherently wrong with it; it’s mainly the execution that halts the film in its tracks. The largest of these problems is the film’s lack of significant exposition. Most of the high-intensity sequences during the movie take place in this fictional afterlife where viewers are uninformed on the possible risks and dangers. The characters are already dead or unborn, so what is the worst that can happen? They can’t die again.

Take, for example, another of Pixar’s films, “Ratatouille.” Even with its fantastical elements, it manages to make the threats significant. For example, when, the main character, Remy, a rat, goes near fire or is attempting to escape the sewer, we understand the level of danger. The viewer understands that a rat can burn to death or drown. Truthfully showing danger is a less strenuous task due to how the film’s setting is modern-day France, but that same level of understanding needs to be present in “Soul’s” afterlife. If Pixar can’t manage to make a fantastical film, like “Soul,” have consequences, then it shouldn’t have made it in the first place. Another of these problems is that the ending sends a poor message to children watching the film. After multiple twists and turns, Joe is allowed to go back to earth, once again alive. Some could interpret the ending as a lesson that with hard work and perseverance, anything is possible, but

that interpretation is naive and definitely a stretch. Joe’s return to earth represents the idea that everyone gets a second chance, a fallacy that children should understand is not a reality. Children need to comprehend that sometimes adverse situations occur, and the only thing to do is move on and evolve. “Up,” another of Pixar’s masterpieces, perfectly presents this idea. Near the end of “Up,” the main protagonist, Carl, stops mourning the death of his wife and evolves, moving on as his wife would have wanted. This teaches children the proper way to deal with the grief and misfortune that will eventually occur during their lives. Following Pixar’s innovative fashion, the animation in “Soul” excels, securing itself as the best part of the film. Multiple unique styles are present throughout its 107-minute runtime, such as characters expressed through abstract art, as well as almost photo-real humans. Most impressive are the sequences of Joe playing the piano. The



amount of detail necessary to accurately simulate a human’s fingers playing the piano is an incredibly immense feat that Pixar successfully pulled off. Not all of the film’s messages are misleading, such as its core idea that people need to live their lives to the fullest and just be happy. This is exceptional advice and one of the few selling points of the film. Due to this message and the high-quality animation, this movie is okay, but Pixar has made many better movies. If you’re in dire need of watching an animated movie, watch “Up,” “Ratatouille” or “Fantastic Mr. Fox,” all of which, like “Soul,” are streaming on Disney+.



Endpoint • May 25, 2021

The Octagon

. . . o t y l e Most lik Become a world leader ta Kenyat



sport l a n io s s e f o r p a Play Sydney


Categories chosen based on an April 24 Octagon poll of 30 seniors Join the FB

d on e d n tra nd Get s rted isla e a des


Carter Joost

Develop AI Ming Zhu

Ashwin Rohatgi

Become a worldrenowned chef Brian Ch ow


Elijah Azar


rights Lead a human activists group

Discover a new species Meghan

Hayden Boersma

Be a superh ero h

Brus Lili

avy Nate Le


Fight a superhero Acquist




niak Shelly Zalez

Become the next bi ggest social media influ encer

Travel to space


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Octagon 2020-21 Issue 8  

Octagon 2020-21 Issue 8  

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