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Non-Profit Organization U.S. POSTAGE PAID Sacramento, CA Permit No. 1668

VOL. 41 NO.1 • Sacramento Country Day School • 2636 Latham Drive, Sacramento • September 19, 2017



ines of blue Scotch tape that read “ART?” and “MURAL?” were pasted on the blank, beige gym walls on Sept. 6. It was a message - a message from the AP Studio Art class to the school that new murals should replace those that had been painted over. “It was a peaceful protest to get people to think about a new mural,” AP art student Michaela Chen said. However, within minutes the tape was taken down in preparation for Back-to-School night, according to head of school Lee Thomsen. But Thomsen said that he wasn’t angry about the protest. “I love that our students care about things and would do something that is

ADIÓS, PABLO Chris Dale, ’92, led the creation of this mural, entitled “Homage to Picasso,” on the wall next to the weight room. PHOTO USED BY PERMISSION OF LEE THOMSEN

non-destructive,” he said. “It tells me a lot about our kids about how much they understand and respect the value of our campus and want to make a statement.” But what caused the protest in the first place? On the night of Aug. 26 and the morning of Aug. 27, three student-created murals on the gym’s outdoor walls were painted over by the custodial staff at the direction of Thomsen. Thomsen said in an Octagon article (“Community has mixed reactions to school’s painting over 21-year-old mural,” Aug. 28) that the murals were painted over because they were weatherworn and “did not show the school

MURALS pages 6-7 >>

Conference period extends day Thirty-two percent of high school students say they’ve used the extra 15 minutes to get help from teachers BY HÉLOÏSE SCHEP Say goodbye to using your precious free period, elective, break, or lunch to meet with teachers - starting this year, you can meet with them after school during the new conference period. From 3:25-3:40 p.m., students can meet with their teachers if they have questions or concerns regarding that teacher’s class, according to head of high school Brooke Wells. Though the conference period is voluntary, the faculty encourage students to stay. Parents were first notified about the new conference period in a July 2017 letter from Wells. Wells said dean of student life Patricia Jacobsen, head of school Lee

GHOST WOMAN Alexis Grinbold was set to be the new middle and high school art teacher. But she never showed up for the job. The school then had to go to plan B for 2017-18. PHOTO USED BY PERMISSION OF BROOKE WELLS

Thomsen and he created the conferHowever, so far only 32 percent of ence period this summer for three students said they have used the conreasons. ference period to meet with teachers, First, Country Day wanted to give according to a Sept. 12 Octagon poll students another opof 124 students. Sixportunity to meet with ty-eight percent said teachers. Sometimes they have not used the “Sometimes it’s hard conference period yet. it’s hard for for students to meet Junior Abby La(with their teachers),” students to meet Comb said that, in Wells said. “Lunches (with their teachtheory, the conference can be really busy, and period is a good idea. many students have ers).” However, LaComb —Brooke Wells said “it might be betelectives.” Second, according ter if students set up to Wells, the period conference times after was added to function as “anoth- school so teachers don’t have to stay er layer of support,” since full-time until 4 p.m. if nobody is coming.” teachers are at school for a longer time if students need them.

CONFERENCE page 4 >>

CAN I HELP YOU? Spanish teacher Patricia Portillo meets with senior Ulises Barajas during the end-of-the-day conference period to discuss his questions about AP Spanish Literature and Composition. PHOTO BY JACQUELINE CHAO

What ever happened to the art teacher? BY SAHEJ CLAIRE When prospective art teacher Alexis Grinbold was referred to Country Day for the open position last spring by Carney Sandoe & Associates, a faculty recruitment company, nothing seemed out of the ordinary. “She came for an interview and her references checked out,” head of high school Brooke Wells said. Everything was going well - until Grinbold stopped responding to communications from Wells and head of middle school Sandy Lyon.

Lyon said she emailed Grinbold sometime in May to ask if she’d like a copy of the book that the school’s faculty and staff were reading together over the summer. “She never replied,” Lyon said. “Ever.” Wells said the last communication he received from Grinbold was in June, before the AP Art History institute she had been signed up by the school to attend. The institute was through AP by the Sea, Wells said, an organization in San Diego that teaches summer courses to teachers new to dealing with an AP curriculum or looking for a refresher after curricular changes.

Grinbold had been registered for the June 20-23 session for AP Art History. The summer institute costs $775, and the school paid for her to attend. After Grinbold failed to respond to multiple communications, Wells called AP by the Sea. “When she didn’t show up to the AP institute, that was the red flag,” Wells said. “I thought maybe she had lost her phone, and then she didn’t show up.” According to Wells, Carney Sandoe & Associates had placed Grinbold in two other schools prior to Country Day among the thousands of teachers they place every year into independent schools. The job search began quite normally.

MIA page 4 >>


News • September 19, 2017

The Octagon

Apple tree outside library fills up with messages eulogizing former English teacher Lauren LaMay Music” vacation, according to Wong. LaMay was born on the same day and in the same hospital as one of paper apple tree outside the Von Trapp family grandchildren, of the Matthews Library which was what sparked her lifelong with space to write on interest in seeing where the movie both the fruit and leaves was filmed, Wong said. and a hole for secret messages is fill“Her joke was that since she was ing up with memories. the only child of five with red hair, The tree, representing the one used she must have been swapped at birth by Scout and Jem in “To Kill a Mock(with one of the Von Trapps),” he ingbird” to send notes to Boo Radley, said. is for students and faculty to send And during the trip, messages to English teacher it wasn’t the sights that Lauren LaMay’s family. interested LaMay but LaMay, who taught the people, Wong said. at Country Day “She was so well for 37 years, read on everydied unex“She thing, so the pectedly was one of those rare breeds sights only from a of people who could make somevalidated stroke on what she one feel as though he or she were the July 19. had already most important person in the world. ” “I hear had in her your voice —former head of middle school mind,” he and feel and English teacher Quincey said. “I was your wisGrieve trying to be Mr. dom. Thank Tour Guide and you for making call her attention me better.” to the sights, but she “You inspire me to be a would be more impressed by better teacher and human! I will the people she saw. carry you in my heart and do my best “I would say, ‘Wow, the Austrian to keep SCDS WEIRD.” Alps were great,’ and she would say, “Eyes brimmed up with smiles, ‘Hey, did you notice that lady and hair audacious red, soft voice held man that were right in front of us?’” minds for miles, it echoes still.” On her return from their trip, LaThere is even an acrostic poem. May showed signs of what Wong “Lauren LaMay / On the top of thought was jetlag. When he brought my mind / (ad)Venterous, excited, her food one night, she collapsed in amazing / Every day I wish she was his arms and later died. by my side / Don’t ever forget Her unexpected death at her courage, humor and afthe age of 62 came as a fection for literature and her shock to Wong as well as students.” many other members The quotes and stories make of the SCDS commuit evident how much LaMay afnity. fected students, alumni and faculty. Quincey Grieve, ’86, former head LaMay died 10 days after returnof middle school and middle school ing from a European trip with her English teacher, heard about Lafriend Geoff Wong. May’s death from a close friend. They traveled to Munich, Prague, “It’s mind-blowing and impossible Budapest, Vienna and Salzburg on to get one’s mind around the fact that what LaMay called “The Sound of she’s gone,” Grieve said. F o r m e r headmaster Dan White heard the news in an email sent by current headmaster Lee Thomsen. White had known LaMay since 1989. “She was one of the teachers who could sustain the intellectual brilliance,” he said. And she wasn’t respected just because of her intelligence but also because of her empathy, he said. “She was able to realize that students had lives outside of CHEERS! In 2014 LaMay attended her friend Geoff Wong’s niece’s school, but at the same time, wedding in Seattle. PHOTO USED BY PERMISSION OF WONG




AWARD WINNER Quincey Grieve, ’86, former high school principal Francie Tidey, English teacher Lauren LaMay, and Stephen Davis, ’82, celebrate LaMay’s receiving the Francie Tidey Award for Excellence in Education in 2001. LaMay was the first teacher to receive the award, which honors a member of the faculty who alumni decide has made an exceptional contribution to the SCDS community during their tenure. PHOTO USED BY PERMISSION OF AMY WELLS

she maintained her high standards for Neukom to work through what someone very special. for students,” White said. LaMay meant to her, and Neu“Where I’m from Junior Grace Naify remembers kom said she used the skills (Hawaii), we use that empathy. LaMay taught her to conthe term ‘Ohana,’ which means more “Toward the end of eighth grade vey LaMay’s soul. LaMay lived and than family,” he said. when (seventh grader) Connor “It’s a type of connect(Burns) died, I was unable to finish breathed Country Day every edness. And in the Country a paper because of how overwhelmed day of her life, according to Wong. “The ‘Country Day Way’ was her Day family, there was a type of conI was,” she said. “I went into her class religion,” he said. “And as long as (it) nectedness that LaMay contributed to explain things and began crying. “But she really understood what existed, she had every intention of to.” Grieve said LaMay taught her the was going on, and the understanding continuing teaching.” LaMay was the first recipient of importance of bringing words to life she had felt almost motherly.” the Francie Tidey Award for Excelfor students and to work with them Hannah (Clayson) Smith, ’91, also said she had an empathetic experi- lence in Education, which she was through the process of writing. awarded in 2001. Smith also said that LaMay taught ence with LaMay. The annual award honors a memher how to diagram a sentence, put Smith’s brother David, who was dying of cancer in sixth grade, was ber of the faculty whom alumni con- words together and convey emotions sider to have made a major contribu- in her writing. regularly visited by LaMay at home. Freshman Hayden Boersma, who “She taught him lessons during the tion to the SCDS community during their tenure. was in LaMay’s last eighth-grade in-home visits, unFormer English teacher Stephen class, said he remembers her storytil he passed away at Davis, ’82, who was a part of telling the most. the end of the school the committee and gave the “Every character had a different year,” Smith said, “I speech awarding La- voice, which matched their personalthink that really enMay, said several ity,” he said. capsulates the alumni picked Freshman Kristine Schmitz said kind of teach“Some LaMay. LaMay conveyed a lot of emotion er Lauren teachers set a hurdle and tell But through her readings. was. LaMay’s “In ‘Of Mice and Men,’ her voice students to jump it, and other teach“She legacy exfor Lenny really made us understand came to ers set an equally challenging hurdle tends past (his disability),” Schmitz said. our house and say, ‘Let’s jump it together.’ And Laempathy Schmitz said she also remembers to lift the May was the teacher who would jump and livLaMay reading ‘To Kill a Mockingspirits of a ing by the bird.’ it with her students.” dying stu“Country “The way she explained each dent during —former headmaster Dan Day Way”; part of the book with her soothing such a difficult White she’s also re- voice brought everything together,” time.” membered for her Schmitz said. One alumna was vivacity. Because LaMay’s readings of so impacted by LaMay Head of middle school Sandy “Mockingbird” have become legendthat she wrote an essay on her, which was published in 2003 in the Amer- Lyon especially remembers LaMay’s ary, many of the tree’s notes include ican River Review, American River “great, wry sense of humor despite quotes from the book. her quiet nature.” “Until I feared I would lose it, I College’s literary journal. In fact, White said the way he re- never loved to read. One does not Francie Neukom, ’04, wrote her AP love breathing,” one says. junior English remembered-person members LaMay is laughing. “People may not have guessed it And another features Atticus essay on LaMay, who was Neukom’s by the serious look she often had, but Finch’s answer when Scout asks English teacher in middle school. she often would use this face to tell whether he likes black people: “I cer“She was the first person aside the perfect joke,” he said. tainly am. I do my best to love evfrom my parents who made me feel White said the community has lost erybody.” like I had something to say,” Neukom said. “She also recognized my talent to express myself through the written More memories of LaMay are at word.” Writing the essay was a good way

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The Octagon

September 19, 2017 • News



of students use CavNet

63% of students use CavNet every day


of students use CavNet to check assignments


Students, teachers try out new online platform

CavNet displays schedules, absences, grades, course descriptions



ike any new technology, CavNet came with a plethora of questions. CavNet is a portal based on Blackbaud’s software, a school organization system that allows students and parents to access information about the school. Currently, students can check their schedules, view their absences and conduct reports, and see online rosters of students and staff. Course descriptions can also be found on each class’s page though they’re geared more toward parents. An online grade book and calendar for assignments are also available,

though whether or not these features are used is up to the teachers. This year teachers are required to use the online grade book to submit

Wells said he set the requirements for CavNet grading in coordination with the high school faculty. “A lot of teachers are using the

A lot of teachers are using the grade book right now. I think it’s really efficient as long as only the students get to see it.” —Brooke Wells only mid-quarter progress reports, which the parents will be able to see for one week before the grades are made private again, head of high school Brooke Wells said.

grade book right now,” Wells said. “I think it’s really efficient as long as only the students get to see it.” One of the teachers using CavNet is biology teacher Kellie Whited. “I didn’t (have a class website before) because I felt that students didn’t check (them) regularly,” Whited said. “But now that everything is on CavNet, I feel like students actually will check it, so it helps them with their assignments.” And students say they are. Of 124 high school students polled on Sept. 12, 78 said they used CavNet every day, and the assignment calendar was the most-used feature. Since this is the first year for CavNet, Wells will see how things go before changing any requirements. “We don’t want to force teachers to use CavNet if they prefer using paper gradebooks,” Wells said. “We’ll discuss with the faculty to see whether we would want more consistent grade reports and whether or not things will be different based on the grade the student is in.” Wells said that he was considering having grade reports more often for the freshmen than for the seniors. And the school plans to implement

even more features into CavNet. Director of technology Tom Wroten said that CavNet is very much still a work in progress. “We’re working on improving the master calendar, as well as better athletics integration,” Wroten said. The sports system works as an internal database that tracks scores, game recaps and wins and losses. But these aren’t the only changes being made to Country Day’s online distribution of information. Due to CavNet’s focus on internal communication with parents of current students, the old SCDS website is being revised to cater to prospective parents. For example, an online application will replace the old paper one. “We are revising and, in some cases, rewriting the content on the website,” head of school Lee Thomsen said. “It’s more of an upgrade than a redesign.” The website will continue to be hosted by the current service, Digital Deployment, as the school works to make the website cleaner, easier to navigate and more visually appealing. The new website will be launched gradually, but the first soft launch should be in the next month or so, according to Thomsen. He said the school wants to release all the drastic changes at once and then slowly update the website with the rest of its features. The last time the school website was redesigned was three years ago, though that redesign changed the website completely. “Back then the system changed, and the look changed; everything changed,” Thomsen said. “This isn’t going to be as dramatic. ”


of students use CavNet to check their grades


of students use CavNet to check the roster


of students use CavNet to check sport schedules In a Sept. 12 Octagon poll, 124 high school students were asked how they used CavNet.


News • September 19, 2017

The Octagon

MIA: Newly hired art teacher disappears without a trace (continued from page 1) After posting the job on the websites of Carney Sandoe, SCDS, the National Association of Independent Schools and the California Association of Independent Schools, the school went through the normal hiring process, Lyon said. The team included Lyon, Wells, head of school Lee Thomsen, assistant head of school Tucker Foehl and former art teacher Patricia Kelly. However, Lyon said that Thomsen and Foehl deferred to Wells and her for the hiring. After sorting through résumés, Lyon said she emailed the selected candidates to find out if they were still interested. “From there, if (the school is) interested, I try to set up a phone interview and talk with them for 30 to 45 minutes,” Lyon said. “(That’s when I) start to get a feeling as to whether or not someone might work out and have the qualities (I’m) looking for.” Wells recognized those qualities in Grinbold. “She was great - very organized, very strong in art history,” Wells said. Following the phone interviews, the school brings candidates on campus to have them teach a class, Lyon said. For the art position, the school brought in Grinbold, another woman and Andy Cunningham, who was already teaching the drawing elective. Grinbold taught a middle school studio art elective and an art history class. Kelly said she responded to Grinbold’s teaching style. “She had a plan; she had everything ready to go,” Kelly said. Grinbold taught a lesson on texture and brought in different spices and plant materials for students to touch and smell, according to Kelly. “The lesson was simple,” Kelly said. “As a candidate

coming in, you don’t know exactly what the situation is like, so you have to figure things out as you go.” In addition, Grinbold successfully engaged the eighth graders, which, Kelly added, is not an easy task. Lyon said in the spring Grinbold did a good job, but it was the art history component that made the difference. “In some ways I deferred to (Wells) on (which candidate to hire) because he wanted AP Art History to be a component of this person’s abilities,” Lyon said. “I think she was one of the stronger ones with that.” “She had a nice lesson, and she was very knowledgeable,” Kelly added. “(She used) technology and added images and scripted text. It was great.” Lyon said Grinbold was offered a contract in March. However, after signing the contract, communication began to get rocky.

But when Grinbold didn’t show up at the AP institute and didn’t reply to any correspondence, the school began to worry. “Our first concern was, ‘Is she OK? Is she alive?’” Thomsen said. As a result, Wells sent a number of communications in mid-July when Lyon left on vacation, by phone and email, that weren’t - and still haven’t been - returned. “It’s just so bizarre,” Wells said. Thomsen added that they tried calling and emailing and even asked Carney Sandoe for help. The organization didn’t get a response either. Then director of advancement Carolyn Woolf tried contacting a mutual Facebook friend who said he’d contact Grinbold. On Aug. 8, he told Woolf he hadn’t heard back. Woolf, a colleague of Grinbold’s when they both worked at La Jolla Country Day School in the Our first concern was, ‘Is she OK?’ ‘Is 2015-16 school she alive?’” —Lee Thomsen year, also contacted Cindy Bravo, interim director of visu“One of the things that’s in- al and performing arts at La teresting is that from the time Jolla, to see if she could reach (an employee) signs the con- Grinbold. tract until they report for work, In an email sent Sept. 7, there’s no legal responsibility Bravo said she “reached out for the teacher to do anything to (Grinbold) but did not get or even respond,” Thomsen ex- a text response.” However, plained. she added that Grinbold had Wells said Grinbold camped taught a week-long ceramics in Joshua Tree National Park course over the summer at La over spring break. So there was Jolla and had mentioned a poa five-day lapse on a phone sition at a community college message. when she was there. “It was perfectly normal; Librarian Melissa Strong she said she couldn’t respond,” discovered on the internet that Wells said. Grinbold was approved as an But he added, “In hindsight, adjunct art instructor by the that was the first inkling I got.” Desert Community College Lyon, who corresponded District Board of Trustees at with Grinbold throughout the their February meeting, shown process, said communication in the board’s Feb. 10 agenda. seemed to be “a little bit rough, Currently, Grinbold’s poeven from the beginning.” sition is listed in the online “She would take awhile to directory for College of the get back to me (and longer) to Desert, a community college get back to (Kelly), who was in Palm Desert, California. trying to set up her classes,” Grinbold did not respond to Lyon said. repeated attempts by the Octagon staff to contact her. When no one could contact Grinbold, chief financial officer Bill Petchauer said to give her until Aug. 16. Then, he said, her contract would be null and void. After Aug. 16 passed, Thomsen said the school waited to see if she would show up at new teacher orientation on Aug. 21. When Grinbold didn’t, “plan B” was enacted. “I had a plan B in my mind mid-May,” Wells said. Plan B was Cunningham and Liz Leavy (parent of Isabelle, ‘17, and freshman Nate). Thomsen said the school was fortunate that Cunningham was available to teach the art and drawing classes. And Leavy, who has a master’s in art history, had previously expressed interest in teaching AP Art History. “I think we’re all happier,” Lyon said. “I feel like we dodged a bullet.” Wells added, “We ended up on our feet here. It’s really a symbol of our community that it worked out in the end.”

TRAFFIC JAM Despite the new 15-minute conference period, a line forms in the high school pick-up lane on Sept. 13. PHOTO BY JACQUELINE CHAO

Conference: New period hasn’t yet reduced traffic in high school lane (continued from page 1)

the post-lab activity.” But Whited said that as her biology classes Wells said the conference period was also are still covering review and introductory maadded to encourage students to stay at school terial, it’s not surprising that students haven’t longer. visited her frequently. Traffic during pick-up times has been a However, Whited said she doesn’t recall large problem in the past. any students meeting with her after school “The conference period works,” Wells said. last year either. He pointed at the high school pick-up lane “When (students) need to meet with me, at 3:30 p.m. on Aug. 30. “See how there are (they) will either talk to me privately or email only three or four cars in the high school lane me and set up a time during a mutual free penow?” riod, lunch or elective,” Whited said. In the past, cars were backed up all the way Whited acknowledged that because of into the double row where lower and middle the rotating schedule, it might be difficult to school cars are. Thus, the second row couldn’t move the conference period to another time. move forward, either. “(Students and teachers) have different free However, during the second week of school periods, and people do need to eat, so lunch (Sept. 5-8), cars were backed up into the sec- would not be the best time,” she said. “We ond row every day at 3:25 p.m. also regularly have meetings during lunch.” Not surprisingly, only 22 percent of stuWhited said that even if the school dedents polled said their parents cides to drop the conference wait until 3:45 to pick them up. period, she will still be meeting Many Wells said that even if the with students after and during conference period doesn’t sigschool at their convenience. students nificantly reduce traffic this In addition to the conferyear, it will most likely remain are very busy after ence period, full-time teachers school with sports or are now required to arrive at optional. “I don’t think we will make it other commitments.” school by 8 a.m. and stay until a requirement,” he said. 4 p.m., causing scheduling con—Kellie Whited flicts for teachers. “In a year or two, we might look at the schedule and fully Jacobsen said many teachextend the school day, but not ers have after-school commitnow.” ments, especially if they have children, which Freshman Hayden Boersma has not used can make staying at school longer difficult. the conference period so far and is frequently For example, history teacher Damany picked up before 3:45 p.m. Fisher picks up his children from the Shalom Still, he agrees with the school’s decision to School after school. add the conference period. Though Shalom is only a five-minute drive “It’s like having an extra free period with all away, he said he understands why some peoyour teachers present,” Boersma said. ple are upset about the new rule. However, Boersma said he believes the “Somebody who has to go across (Sacraconference period should remain optional mento) to get home or pick up their kids in because of the large number of people with Davis might have a bigger problem,” Fisher extracurriculars immediately after school. said. “The later you wait, the more traffic you Wells said anyone with something pressing run into on the road.” after school can be picked up at 3:25 p.m. Other teachers said they were unaffected For example, sophomore Rebecca Water- by this rule as they often stayed at school until son is exempt from the conference period due 4 p.m. during previous years as well. to her daily swimming practice at American “I usually stay here until 4 or 4:30 p.m. anyRiver College. way, so it hasn’t changed my schedule at all,” “My swim practice starts at 4 p.m., and it Latin teacher Jane Batarseh said. takes 30 minutes to get to the pool due to Jacobsen agreed. traffic,” Waterson said. “Teachers have always been encouraged to Other swimmers (such as freshmen Sydney stay on campus,” Jacobsen said. “We usually Turner and Athena Lin, junior Joe Zales and make copies and lesson plans or communicate senior Amalie Fackenthal) are also picked up with parents during that time.” at 3:25 as well as sophomore dancer Jackson Teachers like history teacher Sue Nellis, Margolis. who have previously left school early whenevJacobsen said she believes the conference er their schedule allowed for it, can still leave period can greatly benefit students. if they do not work full-time. “I have already found the extra time helpJacobsen said the conference period has ful,” she said. “Last week, there were students had a positive impact on her schedule. in my classroom every day until around 4 “One of the challenges of being a teacher is p.m.” that we don’t take time to ourselves,” she said. However, other teachers, like biology “We work through ‘breaks’ and often help teacher Kellie Whited, haven’t had many stu- people during our lunch times.” dents use the conference period to visit them. But now that there is a time set aside for “A student has used the conference period meetings with students, teachers can take 30 just once,” Whited said. minutes to eat lunch,” she said. “She came in to finish a lab during the last “It makes a big difference to have some period of the day and stayed through the con- rest,” Jacobsen said. “Meal time should be for ference period to ask some questions about enjoying food, not multitasking.”

The Octagon

September 19, 2017 • Sports


Junior wins gold at Jewish Olympics

Jakobs plays with Division I commits, against national Israeli team


unior Nate Jakobs came back to the U.S. from Israel with more than just an Israeli flag and a keychain.



Instead, he came back with the best souvenir of them all - a gold medal. Jakobs played third base and outfield in the 20th Maccabiah Games, July 4-18, on the Juniors Boys’ U.S. team. The Maccabiah Games, also known as the “Jewish Olympics,” is a Jewish athletic event that takes place every four years in Israel. In the 2017 Maccabiah Games, over 10,000 Jewish athletes from 85 countries competed in 45 sports. Jakobs, who has been playing baseball since he was 5 years old and currently plays for Sacramento Sports Center, tried out for the U.S. team at the end of June 2016 in Los Angeles, where coaches evaluated his hitting, running, throwing and fielding. Thirty players tried out in LA, and 150 tried out throughout the country. In October Jakobs received a letter from head coach Eric Holtz and assistant coach Dan Kaufman, confirming that he’d made the team. Holtz also coaches the Israeli national team. “I was pretty confident that I would make the team because I had a really good tryout,” Jakobs said. Jakobs left LA on June 27 and flew to Israel to meet the rest of his team, consisting of 18 players, all of whom were 18 and younger. At 16, Jakobs was the youngest on the team, he said. Jakobs said players came from all over the country, including New Jersey, New York, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Florida and Massachusetts. However, Jakobs was the first from Sacramento to compete in the Maccabiah Games since 1969. Jakobs said his teammates were a talented group. In fact, many have already committed to Division I schools or will be playing in the major leagues, according to Jakobs. But Jakobs said he didn’t find them intimidating.


“They were cool guys,” Jakobs said. After crushing Israel two times in “I was roommates with a couple of a row, the U.S. team annihilated Canthem, and I got to know them well, so ada, 10-1, securing them a spot in the I wasn’t really intimidated.” championship game. Leading up to the tournament, the Finally, on July 14 Jakobs and his team began their practice schedule. team defeated Canada, 10-0. The team practiced every morning. And along with this win came the They would get up at 5:15 a.m. and gold medal. leave the hotel to drive to the Tel Aviv “The U.S. ambassador to Israel was field at 5:30 a.m. After two hours of at our championship game,” Jakobs practicing, the team would return to said. “It was pretty cool.” the hotel then go out for a day of Aside from the ambassador, Jakobs sightseeing. said the highlight of the championThe Jewish Olympics and the ship game was driving in the final Olympics have many similarities, ac- run. cording to Jakobs. Ironically, Jakobs said the best One is the opening ceremony. game of all wasn’t even a part of the “It was really cool,” Jakobs said. competition. Instead it was a scrim“(The ceremony) was a really big mage with the national Israeli team event in Israset up by Holtz. el. There were “(The scrimmage) about 40,000 was the most memoraThe U.S. ambassapeople there. ble thing that happened dor to Israel was I actually throughout the whole walked out at our championship game. experience,” Jakobs said. wrapped in It was pretty cool.” “Just that whole game the U.S. flag.” was so memorable.” —Nate Jakobs O t h e r Even though the nasimilarities tional Israeli team coninclude the sisted of 25- to 30-yearsame types of sports and the closing old professional players, Jakobs and ceremony. the U.S. team beat them, 7-2. After a week of practicing and Jakobs said he enjoyed everything seeing sights such as Old Jerusalem, about the trip except the Tel Aviv hothe Western Wall and the Dead Sea, tel the team stayed in the first week. Jakobs had his first game on July 5 He said the rooms were way too small against Canada. for four baseball players. However, he said he was a little Jakobs also didn’t like the signs of disappointed in the crowds. the political tension in Israel. “Only about 40 people actually Israeli Defense Forces accompawatched our games (in the field),” Ja- nied the team whenever they went kobs said. outside the hotel during their free In addition, there were only two time. other countries, Canada and Israel, Jakobs said he had a quite scary who sent baseball teams to the Jewish experience one day when he and his Olympics because many of the other teammates were escorted by the solcountries backed out at the last min- diers near the border with Lebanon. ute, according to Jakobs. “There was one day when there was The U.S. had a good start, soundly a lot of shooting in the area,” Jakobs defeating Canada, 10-2. said. “It was nerve-wracking.” “Baseball is just a prominent sport Although it was worrisome to in the U.S.,” Jakobs said. “There’s a leave the hotel at times, Jakobs did bigger pool of players to choose from. enjoy going to the beach and meeting We were just overall better than them Israelis and other athletes from difat everything. It was an easy win.” ferent countries who were competing. Their next game was on July 9 But the best part of the experience against Israel, and Jakobs’s team de- was seeing Israel, he said. feated them 9-3, and defeated them, “The city and culture were the most once again on July 12, 10-0. interesting,” Jakobs said.


JEWISH OLYMPIAN Top: Junior Nate Jakobs catches a ball as a Candian player slides into third. Jakobs played third base in the Canada vs. U.S. game on July 5. The U.S. team defeated Canada, 10-2. Bottom: Jakobs and his teammates warm up on a Tel Aviv field before their game. Jakobs said that the field they played on was one of the only good fields in the Tel Aviv area. PHOTOS USED BY PERMISSION OF JAKOBS

Sept. 19 6 p.m.

At Vaca Pena Middle School



Sept. 21 4:30 p.m.

At Trinity Christian



Sept. 23

TIP ANGLE Senior Yasmin Gupta, who plays middle blocker, tips the ball in the Sept. 11 game against Foresthill High School. The’ varsity volleyball team defeated Foresthill, 3-0. PHOTO BY JACQUELINE CHAO



The Oc

(continued from page 1)

THE ARTISTS JESSICA KREIG HENDERSON, ‘96 Henderson was a senior when she helped paint the biggest mural next to the gym entrance (upper left section pictured above). SUNNY SEEGMILLER, ‘97 Seegmiller, a junior, worked on the right side of the big mural. SCHUYLER ELLERS, ‘96 Ellers, who was also a senior, worked on the left side of the big mural with Henderson. Two other murals were created by student artists in their senior years, one by Chris Dale, ‘92, and the other by Lenora Yerkes, ‘99.

in the best light.” But he said he now wishes he had had more information before making the decision. “I felt like while I asked a number of people to help me understand the history of the murals, I clearly didn’t ask a wide enough poll of people,” Thomsen said. “I keep learning more in the aftermath of the decision.” The most visible mural was located on the large wall next to the entrance to the gym. That mural, painted by Jessica (Kreig) Henderson, ’96, Schuyler Ellers, ’96, and Sunny Seegmiller, ’97, in May 1996, was filled with vivid green vines and facial features (such as a gray pair of eyes and a bright, cherry-colored mouth) and included “abcde” in gray serifed letters. Henderson and Ellers painted the left side of the mural while Seegmiller painted the right. The second mural was on the wall next to the weight room and was organized and spearheaded by Chris Dale, ’92, in 1992. That mural portrayed over 20 different Pablo Picasso works blended together and was based on the school’s very first chalk mural, titled “Homage to Picasso.” The third was on the back side of the gym, facing the middle-school buildings. Lenora Yerkes, ’99, painted this mural as part of her senior project in 1999. The mural contained many images, including a parrot, a fish and a man in a birdbath. The school did take pictures of all three murals before painting them over and sent them to the artists. And those artists have varying opinions about the decision to paint over their work. “I was mostly surprised to receive an email from (Thomsen) last week

regarding the murals’ removal - and a little sad,” Henderson said. “It was exhilarating for Schuyler and (me) to be allowed to paint on the gym wall (in) our senior year.” Henderson also spoke about how valuable the mural painting experience was to her life. “To represent our artistic misfit selves in plain view of the whole school and have our fellow students watch our progress in excitement was an affirming experience,” she said. “Schuyler and I chose pretty unique careers (compared to) most students, and I’m sure the encouragement we received from the school to explore our artistic talents helped shape our paths.” Henderson is now a professional artist, and Ellers is a fashion designer. Like Henderson, Ellers said he was surprised to learn that his mural had been painted over. “Nobody called me or informed me,” he said. “It seems they took down the mural very one-sidedly, without talking to anyone, especially me.

“We would consider (a new) proposal within the administrative team while thinking about the campus and the look we want.” —head of school Lee Thomsen

“Why does (the head) get to decide what is best for the school?” Ellers said he is upset his mural is gone because of its message. “It is kind of sad because that mural was from a time when Country Day was probably a very different place,” he said. “There was a lot of creativity at the time, and the school let students paint murals on its buildings. “

However, Ellers also sa shocked that his mural had up for so long. “In a way, it had a great ru Yerkes, on the other han didn’t particularly care for because of its placement o next to the P.E. office door. “It would be remarkable anyone had enjoyed that m Yerkes said. Nevertheless, Yerkes said was “really happy to have th nity to paint on a building.” “I found the experience able, and just because I d prefer the final outcome do that it wasn’t a super-valua tional experience,” she said. “It was part of the exc ucation I had at SCDS, an imagine that making this available to other students w the school’s best interest.” Since painting her mura Yerkes, also a professional not had another chance to p ral. “That was a special oppor said. Artist Maya (previously weizer was the high school during the painting of all th and said she was sorry they “The murals were all c and time-consuming efforts artists, whose goal was to visual environment and cult the SCDS community,” she “The gym murals weren as a logo or (a) mascot on a but as art,” Schweizer said. “And, as you know, Sacra city of murals.” Schweizer also expanded sons for painting the murals “This concept of bringin the school as a part of dai one of the missions of the N Honor Society,” she said. “NAHS members and believed the murals added tural life of the school. Th cially pertinent at SCDS b school was started by two fa Geetings and Matthewses lieved that the arts and acad equally important in educat In a Sept. 5 poll of 117 h students, 30 percent of th disagreed with the decisio over the murals while 23 strongly disagreed. Only 3.4 percent of th agreed with the decision, an

September 19, 2017


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School paints over three longtime student-created murals before year begins cent strongly agreed. The majority of students, 41 percent, said they had no opinion on the murals being painted over. Junior Nate Jakobs was one of two students who strongly agreed with Thomsen’s decision. “I didn’t think it was a very good look for the school,” Jakobs said. “The mural wasn’t very appealing to look at.” However, in an online poll that accompanied the Aug. 28 story and received 125 votes, 87 percent of alumni, parents, students and faculty disagreed with the decision while only 11 percent agreed. (Two percent of voters did not know there had been a mural.). Michael Covey, garden coordinator and former chemistry teacher, said he felt “extreme disappointment” when he saw that the mural on the back of the gym was gone. “To see the mural greet me as I came in (to work in the garden) was a great way to start the morning,” he said. Art teacher Andy Cunningham said he didn’t mind that they were painted over but wished that Thomsen had talked to the community before doing so. “It would have been nice to have some form of discussion prior to (the murals) disappearing overnight,” Cunningham said. The student body largely agreed with Cunningham. In the Sept. 5 poll, 81 percent said the administration should have asked the community before painting over the murals. History teacher Sue Nellis said she thinks that the school skipped over “a certain process” before the repainting. “The problem is not what happened, because a consensus may have come about to change the murals (or) maybe (to) put some new ones in,” Nellis said. “It was the process that really should have happened that didn’t happen.” Nellis added that she doesn’t have a problem with change as long as there is communication with the whole campus. In response to Thomsen’s statement, Covey said that he hadn’t noticed any signs of deterioration on the mural on the back wall of the gym. And he also disagreed with the way the murals portrayed the school. “In some ways (they) did show the school in its best light,” Covey said. “(They) honored the creativity of its students.” Covey added that the school should have absolutely asked the school com-

munity before painting over the murals. “I was very surprised that that did not happen,” Covey said. “I thought that by allowing the students to create the murals, (the school) showed a sense of pride in the students’ art - an appropriate pride,” Covey said. “Taking it down or painting over it removes that element of pride.” Kelly Neukom, ‘04, was also very sad to hear the murals had been painted over and said so on her Face-

“It seems they took down the mural very one-sidedly, without talking to anyone, especially me.” —Schuyler Ellers, ’96 book page. “I was disappointed because the murals (have) been there ever since I can remember,” Neukom said. “It was a mainstay for my childhood and my time at Country Day.” Neukom was also sorry for the people who had painted the murals because she had known them. She added that she was disappointed with the school for not discussing the decision with the community. “I feel like the murals were an important part of the Country Day lore. “And even if (Thomsen) is sorry about it, there is no way to bring the murals back.” Some are now pondering the idea of a new mural. “I’ve thought about (putting something up in its place),” Cunningham said, “since now (the walls) feel blank.” One of Cunningham’s ideas was an annual paint-over party. That way students could create something new every year. But Cunningham said he is also worried about the potential workload. “I’ve never really taken anything on like that,” Cunningham said. “It would be a fun new project, but it would also take time, energy, student power and assistance from the administration. “The mural would be much more of

a public image than a drawing in the art room.” Ellers acknowledged the age of the murals but offered a possible solution that did not involve painting them over. “If they looked weatherworn, what a great art project to restore them!” he said. “Restoration is something that maybe a lot of people are interested in.” Ellers, like Cunningham, suggested a new mural project, where students would paint new murals annually and then the next class could paint over the previous mural and create a new one. Seegmiller was also an advocate for a new mural. “New murals need to be put up because there are new students that need to express themselves too,” she said. Senior artist Lea Gorny said she would love the option to replace the mural. “It’s a great idea for the art department and a good way to get everyone together to do something,” she said. Nellis said she was excited as well about the possibility. “I would like to see something up there,” Nellis said. “(The mural) was a great expression of the artistic ability of Country Day students.” However, high school students were not unanimous in their opinion on a new mural. Of those polled on Sept. 5, 74.8 percent said that they thought a new mural should be put up on the gym walls, while 25.2 percent disagreed. Thomsen said he is open to the idea of a new mural. “If there are students who are interested in making a proposal, I would welcome it,” he said. “We would consider their proposal within the administrative team while thinking about the campus and the look we want.” Thomsen also said that the school needs to discuss as a community whether to put up a new mural or replace it with signage like, “Go, Cavaliers.” But Neukom doesn’t think signage is a good idea. “I hope that it’s not anything cliché,” she said. “It should be something original and as inspired as the old mural was. “Sports slogans are not original, and one of (Country Day’s) main selling points is that we are unique.”



Feature • September 19, 2017

The Octagon

New year, new teachers, new curricula: English classes Jason Hinojosa: freshman & senior English


he quote that can best sum “Ninth grade is the beginning of a up English teacher Jason Hi- new era in a thinker’s life,” Hinojosa nojosa’s teaching style comes said. from poet William Butler “They’re taken seriously in a new Yeats, he said: “Education is not the way. You get to develop your own filling of a bucket but the lighting of perspective in ninth grade. Seniors a fire.” Hinojosa said that he’d rather have already done that, so I’m just start discussions and have students kind of keeping the ball rolling.” control the conversations on their asSeniors in both regular and AP signed reading than dictate his own English will read “Jane Eyre” by opinions to the class. Charlotte Brontë, “The Laramie Hinojosa is teaching freshman Project” by Moisés Kaufman, “Julius English, regular senior English and Caesar” by William Shakespeare, senior AP Literature and Composi- “The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fisttion and said that all fight in Heaven” of his classes will be by Sherman Alexreading “some really ie, “The Complete All of the texts Persepolis” exceptional books.” by are written by Freshmen will Marjane Satrapi, read “Lord of the people that I would con“Beloved” by Toni Flies” by William Morrison and sider marginalized. Even “Wide Sargasso Golding, “Animal Farm” by George Charlotte Brontё had to Sea” by Jean Rhys. Orwell, “The Tem- write using a man’s pen From these novels, pest” by William Hinojosa hopes to name.” Shakespeare, “The get seniors to real—Jason Hinojosa ize that all perspecHouse on Mango Street” by tives matter. Sandra Cisneros, “All of the texts “The Things They Carried” by Tim are written by people that I would O’Brien, and “Warriors Don’t Cry” consider marginalized,” Hinojosa by Melba Pattillo Beals and follow said. “Even Charlotte Brontë had to an overriding theme of “truth.” write using a man’s pen name.” For example, among other things, Hinojosa said that he is most “Animal Farm” is about propagan- looking forward to reading “Beda and the manipulation of truth, loved,” which covers the experiences Hinojosa said. And memoirs, like of women of color after slavery was “Warriors Don’t Cry,” are one per- abolished. son’s account and can impact the “It’s really powerful,” Hinojosa big-picture truth. said. “The Things They Carried” - a “There’s something in that book book on the Vietnam War that has that really upsets me. It’s hard in been central to Hinojosa’s writing terms of content and writing style. It and how he approaches teaching - hurts to read it, and it’s challenging also presents readers with a new way on a cerebral level. of considering truth. “The pain that is described in that “O’Brien makes the distinction book is so profound and so impossibetween story truth and happening ble to understand that I feel like I’m truth,” Hinojosa said. “He will em- primed for an authentic experience bellish things in fiction in order to with (the seniors).” make you feel something (and to Hinojosa said that he hopes by show) how the facts aren’t necessarily the end of the year seniors will learn as powerful as the emotion or story to consider literature as “something behind the facts.” that speaks directly to the individuBesides following the theme, al.” Hinojosa wants freshmen to In both of his classes, vocabulary practice forming indepenwill come from the assigned dent beliefs because he books, and grammar lesconsiders freshman year sons will be given as needed to be about “coming into when problems come up in your own as an individual assignments. thinker.” Participation makes up a

All stories by Sonja Hansen

Kathryn LaComb: sophomore English

considerably large portion of Hino“There’s no classroom managejosa’s students’ grades, he said. ment with sophomores,” English Participation is worth 20 percent teacher Kathryn LaComb said. for seniors and 30 percent for fresh“They’re quiet, calm and well-bemen. haved. It’s like an island in the mid“The class doesn’t work without dle of my day when I get to say ‘Ah, the students (and) just implodes the sophomores are coming without particiin!’” pation.” Hinojosa After eight years said. “(Participaof teaching midtion) is a necesdle-school Ensary pillar.” glish, this will But despite be LaComb’s all of Hinojosa’s first time teachplanning, he said ing in Country that he still conDay’s high school, siders how the though she has class will play taught high out to be “kind school classes of a mystery.” Brooke Wells’s and Kathryn LaComb’s sophomore before at Wa“I don’t know English books tertown High (what) exactly School in Wathe school cultertown, Masture, my background, my sachusetts and Analy High pedagogical approach, School in Sebastopol, (or) the combination of California. classes I’m teaching is LaComb and English going to be like,” Hiteacher Brooke Wells nojosa said. “We’re just will each teach one secpouring things into the tion of the sophomore test tubes and seeing class. LaComb said that what works.” the two classes To refresh himwill be very simself on the curilar, but some asriculum for AP Jane Bauman’s junior English books. To signments may Literature and read more about her new class, go to www. have different apComposition, Hi- proaches. nojosa took For example, a weeklong for an assignment training course on their summer at Sacramento reading book, State Univer“The Catcher sity over the in the Rye,” summer and Wells’s sophofound that the mores wrote an exam has not analytical essay, changed very but LaComb’s much since sophomores he last took wrote narthe course rative essays in 2005 at on their U n i v e r s i t y Jason Hinojosa’s freshman and senior English books. p e r s o n a l of Oxford PHOTOS BY JACQUELINE CHAO lives, using a in preparawriting style tion for Hong Kong International similar to the one in the book. School. To keep their classes on more or He also spoke with fellow Enless the same page, LaComb places glish teachers Brooke Wells, Jane any handouts that she gives her stuBauman and Patricia Fels to get an understanding of the school culture For the full story, go to and what students feel comfortable talking about.

dents into Wells’s inbox in the faculty room. LaComb said she spent her summer planning units for each of her assigned books, researching lesson ideas and mapping out her year with the sophomore English class. “I’m just not the kind of person who can wing it,” she said. “I really need a solid plan in place. But it’s okay because I love developing curriculum! “It’s fun! It’s a creative process. You get to think about ‘What do I want to do? What do I want the kids to know? And how do I present this in a way that will keep them interested?’” LaComb said that her personal guidelines for teaching are to get her students out of their comfort zone, allow plenty of time for debate and push students to consider writing as an art form. “I don’t want (students) to be robots,” LaComb said. “I don’t want them to just regurgitate information. I want them to argue with me.” LaComb said that her sophomore class will compare ancient literature with more modern literature, find universal themes that everyone can relate to, and focus on how language is used.

I don’t want (students) to be robots. I don’t want them to just regurgitate information. I want them to argue with me.” —Kathryn LaComb “In ‘Othello’ for example, one of the main characters (Iago) uses a lot of rhetorical devices to manipulate other people in the play,” LaComb said. “We (will) look at how he does that through leading questions, hesitating at the right moments and dropping little seeds of doubt.” LaComb wants to have her more lively students act out parts of “Othello” in class.

Brooke Wells: sophomore English

THE MUSIC MAN English teacher Brooke Wells plays his guitar during his sophomore English class. PHOTO BY JACQUELINE CHAO

When preparing for sophomore English, students should make sure to bring their laptops, find their assigned reading and get ready to sing and act in case of an in-class skit. English teacher Brooke Wells is known for grabbing his trusty guitar and breaking out into song and dance, so sophomores would be wise to also start warming up their vocal cords. “Other (teachers) aren’t necessarily comfortable with that sort of unstructured teaching,” Wells said. “I think sometimes (acting) is a good way to internalize ideas. I like to move. I’m not a good sitter-stiller.” Wells returned to the classroom last year to teach one section of sophomore English while the other sec-

tion was taught by teacher Patricia Fels. that he also hopes classical literature will influThis year Wells will share the sophomore class ence how the students perceive modern stories. with English teacher Kathryn LaComb, whom “The stories that we know now are not exactly he met with in the spring and early summer to retellings, but they’re heavily influenced by the plan the course. stories that were told thousands of years ago. “The classes will be unique based on our per- They don’t exist in isolation,” Wells said. sonalities,” Wells said. “(But) we’ll follow the “Stories (like ‘The Odyssey’ and ‘Antigone’) same outline and (assign) the same books.” are part of our literary heritage worldwide.” Wells said Students will also that the sophanalyze modern novomore English like “Things Fall I think sometimes (acting) is a good els reading list is Apart” by Chinua way to internalize ideas. I like to moving away Achebe and “1984” by from focusing move. I’m not a good sitter-stiller.” George Orwell. on the Bible, “(‘1984’) is always —Brooke Wells relevant, as Fels had for but (it is) many years. particularly now,” Instead, in addition to the Bible, sophomores Wells said. will study ancient literature, such as “The Odys“Control over information that you have from sey,” “Antigone,” “Oedipus The King” and “Oth- the left and from the right is interesting to anello,” which Wells taught to SCDS sophomores alyze.” for about 11 years before becoming head of the Wells said that he is also looking forward to high school. teaching the play “Inherit the Wind” by Jerome “The Bible is a good addition (to my original Lawrence and Robert E. Lee that was a maincourse),” Wells said. “I hadn’t read it very much stay in Fels’s class. since Sunday school, but there’s some good sto“Science versus religion is a super important ries in there.” discussion,” Wells said. And while learning how to critically think and “‘Why do they have to be at odds?’ is the bigwrite well are two goals for the course, Wells said gest question for me.”

The Octagon


Chris Kuipers: AP European History Though king Chris Kuipers of the seventh-grade Renaissance Faire has officially retired his crown, the former royal will stick around campus teaching AP European History and eighthgrade history, with William Crabb taking his place as seventh-grade history teacher. Kuipers last taught AP European History eight years ago at his previous school, Stoneleigh-Burnham School in Greenfield, Massachusetts. A couple of years ago, the exam was restructured, so Kuipers took a weeklong course at Sacramento State University over the summer to learn about the changes. AP European History is now divided into six themes (Interaction of Europe and the World, Poverty and Prosperity, Objective Knowledge and Subjective Vision, States and Other Institutions of Power, Individual and Society, and National and European Identity) and four time periods. While studying these themes and eras, there is also emphasis on learning the writing skills needed for the exam’s essays and document-based questions. Kuipers found that the course has become more in line with his own teaching philosophy of focusing less on facts and figures and more on teaching students to write well and construct strong arguments. “For me, history is more thinking about the patterns and connections of ideas rather than the rote memorization of names and dates,” Kuipers said. “We live in an open-note world. People have their smartphones and devices in front of them, so if you ever want to know when the War of 1812 was, you can look that up. What’s much more important is how you use that information. How do you create an argument? How do you analyze? What’s the synthesis?” Former history teacher Daniel Neukom witnessed the transition from the old exam to the new one and met with Kuipers to give him some resources and advice. However, Kuipers said that Neukom did not want to tell him exactly what to do with his class. “(Neukom) was pretty adamant that he wanted this to be my own course,” Kuipers said. “He was careful about not wanting to influence me too much.” Kuipers said that his current class class seems like a small, relaxed seminar course since there are only four students: junior Mehdi Lacombe and seniors Annya and Katia Dahmani and Nico Burns. “I feel I have a headstart on the kids and certainly have the experience, but it’s unlike (any) course that I’ve taught here before,” Kuipers said. “I feel like I’m one member of the class sort of working with them, sort of exploring (the material).” Though Kuipers is a college counselor for juniors and seniors, this will be his first time teaching in the high school, and the differences are already noticeable, he said. “It’s fun to have that moment (when) it’s a little more intellectual, (when we) dive down into the material,” he said. Kuipers said he is looking forward to the AP’s final period that covers World War I to the modern day. More material, such as the development and challenges of the EU, has been added to this period in the new exam.

September 19, 2017 • Feature

New curricula: history and art classes


All stories by Sonja Hansen

Andy Cunningham: Studio Art & AP Studio Art

Images of distorted, gargantuan be on the same track.” hands are scattered across Andy Cunningham, who has taught Cunningham’s wall. drawing electives for 13 years, said No, Cunningham is not a doctor that he will teach his Studio Art inspecting a severe case of elephan- classes standard lessons on painttiasis. He’s the replacement teacher ing, drawing, printmaking, color for Studio Art I, II and III and AP theory and maybe even sculpting, Studio Art, and those misshapen in addition to other art techniques appendages are the results of a re- and methods, while being sensitive cent Art Studio assignto the fact that ment. student artists Students were asked have their own For me, to draw their own hands preferences. high school without looking at their “There are paper, a task that’s easier art classes are more some things, like said than done. direct observaof a decompression But interspersed tion, that are among the hands on the zone.” good to know wall are a couple of unex—Andy Cunninham but aren’t for pected pictures: a butcheverybody,” he er storefront, a man with said. a colorful mohawk and a “Sitting there pair of scissors. with a light on an object for two This hodgepodge of artwork is a weeks will drive some people inclassic example of the environment sane. Sometimes you have to push in Cunningham’s classes. His stu- through that, and you might find dents start off on the same page, but something on the other side, but by the end of the first semester, they it’s not for everybody.” become “individualized” and start Cunningham said that he does to work on independent projects. not want to drag students away “One person might be doing from projects that they are passiona drawing of scissors and a bowl, ate about because it goes against and another person might be out his belief that students don’t learn in outer space,” Cunningham said. if they don’t spend an appropriate “Students don’t necessarily need to amount of time devoted to “throw-

ing themselves” at a piece. While Cunningham doesn’t have a clear idea of what he will change about former art studio teacher Patricia Kelly’s classes (because he was notified that there was an open position just a couple weeks before school started), he said that his homework policy will likely differ. “It’s hard to assign a grade to a piece of art,” Cunningham said. “For me, high school art classes are more of a decompression zone. I don’t need students stressing on their artwork. In the art room it’s all about just finding something in the art.” Because Cunningham had little time to prepare, he said that he is

A PICTURE IS WORTH ... Art teacher Andy Cunningham stands in front of pieces done by his students.. PHOTO BY JACQUELINE CHAO

Damany Fisher: sophomore & junior history


he famous multiple-choice questions former history teacher Bruce Baird was known for - and that would throw students into a sort of manic state - are gone. “I don’t see the value in multiple-choice exams,” new history teacher Damany Fisher said. “I don’t think they encourage historical thinking, and that’s my goal. I want my kids to be thinking like historians.” Instead students in Fisher’s sophomore and junior history will either write an essay, complete a project or take an exam after each unit. In addition to traditional exams, Fisher is considering alternative methods of assessment. For example, he is currently looking into digital story maps after finding examples of them being used at the college level. StoryMap JS, the free program that Fisher is investigating, allows students to attach anything, including documents, images, YouTube or Vimeo videos, articles, audio recordings or even tweets. According to its website, StoryMap JS creates “stories on the web that highlight the locations of a series of events.” “(Digital story maps) give students the opportunity to be creative,” Fisher said. “(They) allow them to integrate technology into the classroom, and I know that resonates with a lot of students.” Fisher said that the story maps also help students learn geography. Fisher is also researching a new class activity. On Sept. 18 Fisher flew to Harvard Business School for a seminar on a case-study approach to teaching history, led by professor David Moss. In this technique, students read “cases,” mostly centered around pivotal points in American democracy, and are then assigned a stance on the event and asked to defend their position. “(The method) is really engag-

“building the classes as we go.” “I’ve been likening (teaching art) to a mountain climb,” he said. “You do all the exercise, you get ready for the climb, you know where you’re going, but you don’t know where all of the handholds are or what will happen.” On top of taking over Kelly’s classes, Cunningham will also take on the duty of organizing the annual National Art Honor Society Chalk Mural on Friday, Oct. 13. Cunningham said that he will rely on AP Art Studio students to help him select an artist to feature, coordinate with the squaremasters, sketch, clean, and run the show since they’ve had more experience.

transition was also eased because his colleagues have helped to mentor him, especially history teacher Sue Nellis, whom he calls his “rock.” ing,” Fisher said. “It allows students to partici“(Nellis) has enlightened me to the culture pate in classroom discussions in (new) ways.” of (SCDS),” Fisher said. “I credit a lot of what Fisher will definitely be testing out this activiI know now about the school to Sue and, of ty since he and a small group of educators across course, (to head of high school) Brooke Wells. the country were chosen to take the seminar (He’s) gone out and give feedof his way to back on how make me comI insist on being able to use a wide range well the system fortable here.” worked and of sources. I want kids not only to read but Fisher said what students to react to what they’re reading. ” that he is optithought. —Damany Fisher mistic about the Along with class environthe experiment that he has mentation, the experienced. variety of texts and resources used in both of his “Hopefully as we progress, students’ll get acclasses will be notable, Fisher said. customed to my teaching style and expectations, “I insist on being able to use a wide range of and at the same time I’ll become more accussources,” he said. “I want kids not only to read tomed to (the students’) style and ability and but to react to what they’re reading.” make adjustments when necessary,” Fisher said. Fisher said that, in his opinion, the World Fisher said that he already wants to adjust the History textbook by Prentice Hall that has amount of homework that he assigns, as he has historically been used in freshman and sophofound that he gives too much at times. more history classes is outdated and archaic, so He said that he believes Phillips Academy’s he plans on using other handouts from reliable students had more time to immerse themselves sources, such as The Gilder Lehrman Institute of in their homework since it was a boarding American History, Stanford History Education school, while Country Day students have more Group and Sam Weinberg, to supplement it. demanding activities out“There are so many better alternatives for stuside of school that make dents that help to deepen their understanding of it difficult to do the world history,” Fisher said. same. Fisher plans to incorporate features from classes that he previously taught at Phillips Academy Andover, a boarding school outside of Boston. Fisher said that his

FEET UP, BOOK OUT Book and computer open. history teacher Damany Fisher stretches out while sitting at his desk. PHOTO BY JACQUELINE CHAO


Opinion • September 19, 2017


The Octagon

“Bye Bye, Lisa” by Mohini Rye

My Angle

PRINT EDITORS-IN-CHIEF Annya Dahmani Katia Dahmani Sonja Hansen

By Jackson Margolis

ONLINE EDITORS-IN-CHIEF Sahej Claire Chardonnay Needler

Team first, brain damage second

DESIGN CHIEFS Mohini Rye Allison Zhang BUSINESS MANAGER Larkin Barnard-Bahn NEWS EDITOR Jack Christian FEATURE EDITOR Mohini Rye OPINION EDITOR Allison Zhang PRINT SPORTS EDITOR Jake Longoria ONLINE SPORTS EDITOR Bryce Longoria SOCIAL MEDIA EDITOR Bri Davies PHOTO EDITOR Jacqueline Chao MULTIMEDIA EDITORS Jake Longoria Bryce Longoria, assistant David Situ, assistant PAGE EDITORS Jack Christian Annya Dahmani Katia Dahmani Anna Frankel Sonja Hansen Mehdi Lacombe Jackson Margolis Mohini Rye Héloïse Schep Allison Zhang


REPORTERS Keshav Anand Sarina Rye Kristine Schmitz Spencer Scott Elise Sommerhaug Ian Thompson Erin Wilson Ming Zhu GRAPHIC ARTISTS Jacqueline Chao Mohini Rye PHOTOGRAPHERS Jacqueline Chao Bianca Hansen Shimin Zhang ADVISER Patricia Fels The OcTagOn is sacramenTO cOunTry Day’s high schOOl newspaper. iTs purpOse is TO prOviDe a reliable sOurce Of infOrmaTiOn On evenTs cOncerning The high schOOl in Or-

Der TO infOrm anD enTerTain The enTire schOOl cOmmuniTy.


sTaff sTrives

fOr accuracy anD freeDOm frOm bias in iTs sTOries.


will be nOTeD anD cOrrecTeD.

The OcTagOn


shall publish maTerial

ThaT The sTaff Deems in The besT inTeresT Of The schOOl cOmmuniTy.



recOgnizes The impOrTance Of having accuraTe anD reliable infOrmaTiOn in OrDer TO be well infOrmeD anD On which TO base DecisiOns anD OpiniOns.

The OcTagOn

will publish all

Timely anD relevanT news, subjecT TO

The fOllOwing excepTiOns: ObsceniTy; slanDerOus Or libelOus maTerial; ma-

Terial cOnTrary TO The besT inTeresTs Of The schOOl cOmmuniTy, as juDgeD by The newspaper sTaff anD aDviser.


shall be apprOveD by The

eDiTOrial bOarD.


Taries shall be labeleD as such anD represenT The OpiniOn Of The auThOr Only.


The inTeresT Of represenTing all

pOinTs Of view, leTTers TO The eDiTOr

shall be publisheD, space permiTTing, unless OTherwise requesTeD by The auThOr.


leTTers musT be signeD

anD cOnfOrm TO The abOve resTricTiOns On publisheD maTerial.

EDITORIAL: New mural would bring back creativity, individuality



reTains The righT TO make changes in grammar anD puncTuaTiOn anD TO abriDge leTTers fOr space cOnsiDeraTiOns.

hen big changes that affect the school community are made, they have almost always been decided after prompting by or consultation with students, teachers and parents. For example, after dissatisfaction and complaints from students and parents about the old lunch program, a new, well-received one began with varying foods from local restaurants. And before spring break was reduced to one week and a one-week mid-winter break was added, a survey was sent to all the parents to get their opinions, and the decision was discussed at the faculty meetings of the lower, middle and high schools. But the murals on the walls surrounding the gym were painted over without any input from teachers, students or parents. Not even the original artists were consulted. A little strange, no? The murals were covered up because they “did not show the school in the best light,” head of school Lee Thomsen said. We disagree. As a school, SCDS honors creativity, individuality and experimentation. The murals were the embodiment of those

characteristics and more; they showed the school values its students’ art and would proudly display it. We understand that the murals were not in pristine shape. Some had been there for 21 years - longer than this year’s seniors have been alive. But we could have restored the murals. There are many extremely capable and artistic students who could have done it while learning techniques for restoration and mural-painting at the same time. Now, however, with the old murals already painted over in an insipid beige, the options that remain are to replace them with a new mural or signage (such as “Go, Cavaliers!”) or to leave the walls blank. But which one should we pursue? Well, that “we should discuss as a community,” Thomsen said. In a poll of 117 high school students on Sept. 5, 74.8 percent said they wanted a new mural on the gym walls. To the proponents of signage: we can all probably agree that Country Day could use some more spirit. It’s not a mystery why: we’re a small school, we’re not known for our sports teams and we

don’t have big games with big crowds. At best, adding signage is a well-intentioned but biased (dedicating an entire wall to “Go, Cavs”? Where’s the 70 square feet for the music department? What about Student Council?) attempt to improve Country Day’s “look.” We already have “CAVALIERS” painted on the shiny new gym floor. Do we really need it on the walls right outside the gym entrance too? The murals were places for artistic expression. Now that they’ve been covered up, it’s only fair to give a new generation of artists the opportunity to experiment and learn from painting new ones. Any new idea for a mural painted by students will be considered by the administration while “thinking about the campus and the look we want,” Thomsen said. This attitude directly contradicts Country Day’s distinctive appeal - the importance we give teaching, learning, creativity and self-expression. Sooner or later a decision has to be made about the blank walls that used to be so vibrant and contain a part of Country Day history. Administrators, we hope you choose wisely.

CAMPUSCORNER Should the murals’ removal have been discussed as a community?

“Especially because (Lee Thomsen, head of school) is new to the school and (the mural) has been there forever, we should have had a vote or he should have said something like, “We’re going to make a new mural,” rather than just painting over it. Plus, he should have said what his plan was going to be, because at this point it just seems that he doesn’t want anything there.”

“It would have been a good idea for Lee Thomsen to tell people before (the mural) was taken down and that it doesn’t look that great anymore and that’s the reason why the mural is coming down. He should have told people and should have given them warning, but I don’t think he should’ve asked because it needed to go.”



It’s Sunday - the one day of the week when I almost never have to be anywhere. Even though this often turns into my study day, it also becomes my day to sit back, relax and watch some TV. And on Saturday afternoons and Sundays from September to January, I devote my TV time to one thing and one thing only: football. That’s right, the game that took Sundays away from the Catholics. In addition, I constantly look up standings, rosters and statistics to not only better understand the game but to predict the winners of the NCAA playoffs and the Super Bowl. However, over the summer, I decided to try to overcome my addiction. It’s not that I think football is taking too much of my time - because it isn’t; it’s not because my favorite team, the San Francisco 49ers, is trash - even though they are; and it’s not because I am protesting the NFL because I believe the New England Patriots cheated - although they did. It’s because of a Nigerian-American physician’s findings on brain damage caused by the most viewed game in the United States. I met Dr. Bennet Omalu in March 2016 at a private screening of the film “Concussion.” The film tells the story of Omalu, a forensic pathologist, performing autopsies on the brains of Mike Webster and other retired football players who had broken the law. He concluded that many had Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE). CTE is a disease afflicting those who have suffered repeated concussions, such as boxers, football players and people in combat. CTE causes the brain to deteriorate, leading to erratic behavior, poor judgment, aggression, depression, lack of balance and dementia. I used to shriek in delight at reruns of hard hits and deadly tackles. But since learning the deeper impact, I have lost my adrenaline. But it isn’t easy. Even as I write this, I’m tempted to open a new tab and glance at the NCAA Top 25 or the NFL preseason rankings, hoping the 49ers have improved from 31st of 32 teams. But I won’t. OK, that’s a total lie. I have the ESPN app and get football updates every day. But it doesn’t matter because I have not watched a single NFL season game. OK, my not watching a single NFL season game is sort of stretching the truth because as I’m writing this, the NFL season hasn’t officially started. And the temptation just gets worse. I watched one preseason game. It doesn’t technically count because it has no meaning, but it still breaks my vow. And I haven’t even mentioned NCAA football yet. My dad, a UCLA alumnus, is an avid UCLA football fan and watches all of their games. Three weeks ago, he turned on the UCLA/Texas A&M game, and I stood my ground and stayed in another room. However, it just happened to be the game of the century, since UCLA made the second largest comeback in NCAA history. So, of course, I watched the fourth quarter. But that’s it, no more. Not until the 49ers are good. Then, if they play them, maybe I’ll watch one Patriot game a season. Just one.

The Octagon

September 19, 2017 • Opinion

Gra phic

by M


ehd i Laco mbe

Focus on poke: OK or No-Ke? Order the fish bowls once for Instagram; then head for Chipotle


he second syllable is pronounced “KAY,” not “Key”! Now that we have that out of the way, we can move on to the main course.


mouth,” Nina replied. The only problem was each topping was delicately placed on top of or next to the other. “I don’t even know where everything is,” I replied as I maneuvered through the Miyagi bowl. But you can make only one first impression, and I wasn’t going to give poke the short end of the stick. So after sampling my first bite, I had three words. “This is fire!” To be honest, I wasn’t expecting much. After all it was only a fish bowl. The Miyagi bowl took simple ingredients, such as rice, cucumber and seaweed, and mixed them with ahi tuna, scallops and avocado to create a staggering quantity of flavor.

Poke, a Hawaiian raw fish salad, is traditionally served as an appetizer. But recently it has become the star of the meal. Following the likes of Chipotle and Blaze Pizza, poke restaurants have popped up with the same “assemble it your way” business philosophy. And in the last year, poke places have been appearing left and right. The poke fad was picking up steam, but before I could hop on the bandwagon blindly, I had to try it for myself. So I recruited my two brothers, senior Bryce and former student J.T., and senior Nina Dym to investigate this new trend in the food world. Our first destination was Poke Noke (2254 Fair Oaks Blvd.). Po ke After looking over the No list of signature bowls and ke create-your-own options, we decided to create our own. But since we weren’t certain of our ability to conThe diversity of flavors surprised coct a masterpiece, we also opted for me too. Because each ingredient was a signature Miyagi bowl. “hidden” under the next, every bite Prices start at $12 for a small bowl was different. and $15 for a large but can increase Next we moved on to our “createdepending on if you want additional your-own” bowl. protein, ranging from tofu to prawns We asked for so many ingredients to octopus. that by the time we sat down, I had We began with the Miyagi bowl forgotten what we put in it. but immediately faced a problem. Despite disliking poke, J.T. gave “How do I eat this?” I asked my it a try because “it looked good.” But comrades. apparently looks aren’t everything. “It’s like a burrito bowl, where you “I wasn’t a fan of poke before this, have to get every component in your

and I am still not a fan now,” J.T. said. But his sentiment wasn’t shared by everyone. “You can’t really go wrong with it,” Nina said. “We built it ourselves, so we like everything on it.” But there were so many different flavors, it almost felt overwhelming. It’s hard to enjoy all the flavors your brain imagined while piecing together your bowl just minutes before. As we continued poking at our poke, we noticed multiple people walking over to Pearls Boba next door to grab a drink to go along with their fish bowl. Because both restaurants are influenced by Asian culture and cuisine, I was not surprised to see that most patrons were Asian (including the four of us, who are all part Japanese). Since we were already bandwagoning the poke trend, we picked up some milk tea before taking off to our next location. After almost a half-hour drive, we landed at our second destination, Fishology Poke Bar (2784 E Bidwell St.). “Your destination is on your right,” the GPS exclaimed. Hm, that’s weird because it wasn’t. “I think that’s it,” J.T. said pointing at a sign that read, “DENTIST.” And he wasn’t wrong. Fishology was right next to a dentist. Their sign was not only overshadowed by a huge “DENTIST” sign, but the font was impossible to read. All four of us were looking directly at Fishology and still were unaware that that was where we were heading. After making our way inside, we grabbed a menu to take a look at their signature bowls. But wait, there were no signa-

PERFECT POKE A Poke Noke employee prepares a custom-made food bowl. The customer can choose from ingredients such as cucumber, seaweed salad, carrots and edamame. PHOTOS BY JACQUELINE CHAO, NINA DYM AND JAKE LONGORIA

ture bowls. So if you plan on making a trip to Fishology, you better bring your imagination. No big deal. We had done it once; we could do it again. Plus the menu was nearly identical except for the toppings. However, as we began ordering, we ran into a bit of a roadblock. “Sorry, we are out of wonton chips,” the nice lady behind the counter responded.

Although we took a hard pass on the eggs, we were willing to go as far as to add mango. But we had to go just a bit farther to eat. Despite it being over 100 degrees, we were forced to sit outside on metal chairs due to the small dining space and limited seating indoors. Nevertheless, we dug into our bowl before the heat swallowed us. “I like the mango,” Nina said. “It definitely combines well with ‘wakame’ (seaweed) and the tuna.” “But the rest of the bowl falls flat,” Bryce added. I couldn’t agree more. Despite the bowl being nearly identical to our previous, it just didn’t have the same amount of flavor, which made no sense. I really want to give y Fishology two thumbs down, g lo ho but the sun melted off my secFis ond thumb. “So, Jake, Poke Noke is the clear faWhat? How? Are you serious? vorite and you’d go back again, right?” Anyone who has ordered poke, Yes and no. If you are going to get either as an appetizer or as a bowl, knows that it is almost always served poke, take the short and easy trip from school to Poke Noke. with a side of wonton chips. But, honestly, I say no to poke in This would be like going to Mcgeneral. Maybe it’s worth one visit. Donald’s and discovering they’re out Create your most visually appealing of fries. bowl possible and secure yourself a Whatever, Jake, it’s not the end of nice Instagram picture. the world. But it’s not worth it as a main We moved on and began looking course. At the end of the meal, you’ll at the extensive list of toppings. With be kicking yourself. You just paid $15 quail eggs and three different types of for a bowl of raw fish and rice. Get “masago” (fish eggs), you can create a burrito from Chipotle for half the whatever your mind imagines. price.


Backpage • September 19, 2017

The Octagon

INTERNS GALORE INTERNS High schoolers work with burn victims, program company software systems, design advertisements

By Bri Davies

High school students worked at a myriad of internships this summer. Some were organized by the school and managed by Country Day parents.

zihao sui

Senior Zihao Sui interned at No. 401 Hospital in Qingdao, China, in the general surgical department, where she mainly arranged patients’ documents and prepared them to be stored in files. She also helped change gauze on some patients and watched surgical operations. Favorite Part: “Experiencing the atmosphere and the interaction between health-care workers and the patients. I got to see surgical operations too, which was interesting.” GRA PHI C BY

Least Favorite: “They had a three-hour lunch break, (when) I had nothing to do.”

andrew rossell

Nina dym

Senior Andrew Rossell interned at Support Pay, a company that allows divorced parents to pay their child support through a phone app without having to talk to their ex-spouses.

Senior Nina Dym interned at Inside Publications, a Sacramento-based company that publishes local newspapers. Since Inside Publications had never had an intern before, Dym had no specific jobs and simply “picked up work wherever they needed it.” She helped proofread, designed ads and made spreadsheets.

Favorite Part: “Working on the company’s website code. I cleaned up the code. There was lots of unused code that was slowing down the website, (so) I cropped (it) out.” Least Favorite: “I wasn’t really doing much of anything until I started working on the website code. They mostly had me either sitting around in the office or doing busy work.”



Favorite Part: “Getting hands-on experience in the field that I want to work in in the future. Everyone was really nice and welcomed me in, and they were also willing to teach me new software and techniques.” Least Favorite: “Maybe that the air conditioner was always too strong, and I practically froze to death.”


riya rampalli

Annya Dahmani

Senior Carlos Nunez interned at Pangea Print, a company that prints custom labels. His job was to design a new software system for emails.

Senior Riya Rampalli interned at NextGen America, a nonprofit organization. There she helped with policy work in terms of education, immigration and the homeless. She also worked for the Ocean Protection Council, helping with policy tied to climate change.

Senior Annya Dahmani interned at Sacramento State for Kimberly Gordon Biddle, a professor who works in the department of child development. Dahmani retyped Biddle’s syllabi, typed attendance sheets and edited Biddle’s textbook, which is being published in January.

Favorite Part: “The Imagine Justice concert. It was an outreach event for NextGen America, centered around the criminal justice system and bail reform. Chance the Rapper, J. Cole, Goapele, Van Jones and some others performed.”

Favorite Part: “I went to faculty meetings with my boss, and some included Stanford students. It was nice meeting them and talking about college.”

Favorite Part: “Working with all the nice people in the office and also learning so much through the internship in terms of technology and business. I learned a lot about programming and Node JS, a programming language.” Least Favorite: “Working with Mailchimp (the email software). It’s used so widely, but it has surprisingly terrible documentation about how programmers need to communicate with it.”

Least Favorite: “I don’t think there were any negative experiences. I had a really amazing opportunity.”

Least Favorite: “I wish I (had done) some research. I read about the research she was doing, and it was super cool.”

lea gorny

hana lee

jack christian

Senior Lea Gorny interned for MB Public Affairs, where she helped wherever needed, whether it was checking for missing information, marking city council minutes that had decisions related to the political race or opening the mail.

Freshman Hana Lee interned for Vitek Mortgage Group, a company that helps clients successfully own homes and manage loans. There she worked as a marketing assistant for one of the loan officers. She mostly filled out thank-you cards and worked with their data.

Favorite Part: “Definitely getting to do work that helped the cases - or would eventually help them.”

Favorite Part: “Getting to see all the work these people do for others. It’s really encouraging to know that people work so hard for people they hardly know.”

Junior Jack Christian interned at Shriners Hospital for Children - Northern California in the surgery and public relations departments, where he delivered supplies to the operating rooms, ran samples to the lab, updated the OR whiteboard and helped out in post-operation and pre-operation.

Least Favorite: “Downtown parking. The parking was very expensive and hard to find. Luckily, my boss would refund me for parking. But I had to either valet my car or do street parking.”

Least Favorite: “Probably getting their coffee. I’m just joking; I didn’t do that. At least not all the time!”

Favorite Part: “I was in the operating rooms all the time and got to see first-hand what it was like to perform surgeries! I also got to wear full scrubs when I was at work.” Least Favorite: “The smell of burning flesh could get overpowering.”

Octagon 2017-18 Issue 1  
Octagon 2017-18 Issue 1