Page 1



Non-Profit Organization U.S. POSTAGE PAID Sacramento, CA Permit No. 1668 2636 Latham Drive, Sacramento, CA

VOL.43 NO.2 • Sacramento Country Day School • • @scdsoctagon • October 15, 2019

NOTEWORTHY CHANGES A Cappella Club members freshman Brynne Barnard-Bahn, senior Larkin Barnard-Bahn, junior Sarina Rye and senior Héloïse Schep rehearse during flex period. The new schedule features these daily 30-minute periods, often used by clubs, electives and classes. PHOTO BY HERMIONE XIAN

School community divided on schedule change’s effectiveness



f those who expressed a preference, students overwhelmingly favor the new schedule over the old one. Overall, however, slightly less than half do. Last spring, a committee of 13 administrators, teachers and staff members decided to extend classes, eliminate the long period before lunch, add a 30-minute flex period after elective, drop one class per day and add three-minute passing periods. According to a poll of 123 students on Sept. 23-26, 48% said they like the new schedule more than the old one, 12% said they like it less, and 40% said they have no preference. “It provides so much more time for getting work done,” senior Alys-

sa Valverde said. “Now I can be more productive during the day and get more sleep at night.” The schedule now feels more relaxed, according to history teacher Chris Kuipers. “There is just more breathing time,” Kuipers said. “And that’s a reflection of the totality (of the schedule change), from passing periods and longer classes to a flex period and fewer classes a day. I can be thoughtful about what I’m doing, and it hasn’t been as stressful to find time for students who want extra help.” Kuipers said the flex period is a vital factor in this improvement. “My sense from talking to students is that it’s really achieving the (committee’s) goals,” he said. “(We) wanted to build space into the schedule to alleviate the pressures that clubs

or students seeking extra time were feeling.” The period has also provided time for college counseling meetings, Kuipers said. Math teacher Patricia Jacobsen said the flex period has been advantageous for her as well. “We now have an extra period compartmentalized as a meeting time,” Jacobsen said. “I’ve been doing a better job of actually eating during lunch, although I still do work.” Given that she doesn’t have a free period this year, Jacobsen said the flex time is especially helpful. “Now there are little pockets of time for things like clubs to meet or students to make up tests,” Jacobsen said. However, the flex period, according

to head of high school Brooke Wells, has not yet been used to its potential. For example, although he said it would have made sense to schedule class pictures during flex on Sept. 19, the teachers had

“(We) wanted to build space into the schedule to alleviate the pressures that clubs or students seeking extra time were feeling.”

— Chris Kuipers

already planned a student support meeting for that time, meaning pictures had to be taken during break. Similarly, the sophomore class’s

field trip to the Sacramento Central Library couldn’t occur during flex period because the librarians were only available from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m, according to Wells. Wells said similar events in the future will utilize flex time whenever possible. But he said the flex period won’t eliminate stress. “It’s not going to be perfect,” Wells said. “It’s still only one period to do (everything) you want to get done. But we’ve taken a bit of the pressure off.” Jacobsen, for example, said she is unsure if the change has alleviated her stress because she has no free period and doesn’t have two periods of any class.


SCDS Wi-Fi excludes phones to improve security, quality BY SANJANA ANAND Students no longer are permitted to connect their cellular devices to the school’s student Wi-Fi. According to director of technology Shelley Hinson, security concerns and the slow performance of school Wi-Fi were the primary reasons for the change, which took effect on Sept. 2. Hinson said Wi-Fi servers often have a domain router (which connects to devices through Bluetooth), but as Country Day students receive MacBooks, the school uses a local network (which has a password to connect to devices). “I can’t secure every personal device which is brought onto campus,” Hinson said. Hinson said she hopes to move to a regular domain for a more stable network, but it is expensive and difficult to manually make the change on every device using the Wi-Fi. According to Hinson, Country Day teachers have received an increasing number of fake emails, and removing personal phones assures a safer and more secure network.


The phishing emails are usually from fake administrators to confirm if an email is active. Recipients then are asked to buy gift cards. “These emails have been there for the last three years but have increased this year,” Hinson said. “Each admin now gets it about four times a month.” “In order to ensure maximum security, every device has to register under Country Day, and our laptops are already registered.” According to Hinson, the use of student Wi-Fi also affects faculty because every connection is taken from the same network. “It is important that the teacher WiFi works, especially if we ever have an emergency,” Hinson said. “However, because cellphones are not controlled by the school, we cannot ensure that all of those are safe to be on a shared network.” Of 117 high school students polled on Sept. 17, 54% disapprove of the change. Sophomore Tarika Brar said not being able to use the Wi-Fi on phones affects her

NEWS 2 Sparked by senior Spencer Scott, the high school Minecraft server provides a platform that furthers community bonds.

ability to use her phone at all. “I cannot contact my parents at any time during the school day, which will not be efficient during important situations,” Brar said. Senior Max Kemnitz added that he has not noticed an improvement in his laptop’s Wi-Fi. According to Hinson, before the Wi-Fi was changed, there were about 900 consistent connections every day, and 750 of those were cellphones. “The more connections there are, the more bandwidth (range of frequencies used to transmit a signal) is used, and we only have a certain amount of that, which slows the speed of the Wi-Fi down,” Hinson said. “If students are playing video games on their phones, it takes up more bandwidth, which doesn’t leave very much for teachers to use in their classrooms.” Freshman David Kedem supports the switch. “Phones aren’t there to help (students)

CENTERPOINT 6-7 The new Academic Resource Center helps students with study skills, organization, assignments, projects and more.

WI-FI page 3

NO CONNECTION As of Sept. 2, Country Day students were prohibited from connecting their phones to the school’s Wi-Fi, causing some to lack cell service. PHOTO BY SHIMIN ZHANG

FEATURE 8 Vermont teacher Jessica Lahey discusses her first book, “The Gift of Failure.” Lahey will speak at SCDS on Tuesday, Oct. 22.

REVIEW 11 Senior Emma Boersma, a coffee connoisseur, critiques a local roaster chain in the first installment of her coffee review series.


News • October 15, 2019

The Octagon

Clubs combine to construct student-run Minecraft server BY EMMA BOERSMA


inecraft, a sandbox game (one without plot progression) by Mojang, has taken the world by storm. Country Day embraced this iconic game by launching a high school server on Sept. 13. Students can join the server by giving their Minecraft username to seniors Spencer Scott and Darius Shahbazi or juniors Ming Zhu and Hayden Boersma. According to Scott, around 30 people have done so, but only about half have actually logged on. The server is owned by the high school Esports Club and Computer Club — the Esports Club created the digital server, while the Computer Club built the PC it runs on. Because of this combined ownership, the moderators are the presidents of the Esports Club (Scott and Shahbazi) and the president of the Computer Club (Boersma), as well as Zhu, who set up the server alongside Shahbazi, Boersma and Eivind Sommer-

haug, ‘19, within a day. According to Zhu, making the server required “a lot of downloading files.” In traditional, or Survival Mode, Minecraft, players mine various materials that they use to create structures — hence the name. Additionally, players must watch their health bar, which can lower when players fall from heights, fight mobs or people, or become hungry. The other mode, Creative Mode, allows players infinite blocks and safety from dying. On the school server, students play Survival Mode Minecraft. However, due to the addition of plug-ins — extra code added to the original game — the SCDS server has a slight twist in its gameplay: Students can claim land and get assigned ranks. This is where the titles “president” and “admin” come from. Currently, only the four moderators — Scott, Shahbazi, Zhu and Boersma — hold ranks. Scott and Shahbazi have the “president” rank, and Boersma and Zhu have the “admin” rank.

MINECRAFT MADNESS Junior Malek Nabhani logs onto Minecraft on the high school server, which was created on Sept. 13. Nabhani is one of around 30 high schoolers who have logged on. An average of seven students play at a time. PHOTO BY SANJANA ANAND

SPAWN SELFIE Country Day high school students’ avatars take a selfie at their spawn point, an Ender Dragon monument, which commemorates the group’s first Ender Dragon kill on the new server. PHOTO BY EMMA BOERSMA The plug-ins were added to help supervise players and preserve the integrity of the server. The claim system allows players to block off an area of land that only they and trusted people can affect, preventing griefing (players destroying others’ builds). The rank system assigns certain classifications a limited number of commands (shortcuts in the gameplay). The “presidents,” or operators, have unlimited commands, normal players have a predetermined number and “admins” have the same commands as presidents with a few exceptions to prevent cheating the gameplay. In gaming terms, moderation equals management. “The presidents and the admins manage the server and watch for griefing and (prevent) people who aren’t related to this school going onto the server,” Boersma said. “The presidents manage the admins in case we do anything out of line.” Zhu added: “Before (the plugins), Spencer was concerned that if too many people had operator status — meaning access to every command — there would be more

vulnerability to the (server’s) security.” Scott said watching Minecraft videos over the summer inspired him to create the server. “I was just like, ‘Hey, it’d be really cool if we could all play Minecraft together,’” Scott said. “I’ve tried to play single player, and it’s just not as fun. It’s fun to have a server with other

“I think it’s a different way for certain people in our school to get to know each other. We might not talk to one another if it wasn’t for that platform.”

— Téa Huynh Van

people where we’re all doing stuff together.” His goal has been realized with an average of about seven people on the server at a time. While the server theoretically can hold an infinite number of people, Scott predicted that the SCDS total won’t exceed 50 because the Country Day community is generally unfamiliar with the game.

There are still kinks to be ironed out regarding the quality of play on the server, Scott said. For example, it has suffered multiple crashes since its release. While one crash stemmed from incompatible plug-ins, the other crashes’ causes are unknown. According to Boersma, fixing issues is difficult because the PC running the server is in the Makerspace. Thus, if an issue arises during the weekend, the moderators cannot address it until the next school day. Despite the inconsistencies, senior Téa Huynh Van said she enjoys the server’s contributions to Country Day. “I think it’s a different way for certain people in our school to get to know each other,” Huynh Van said. “We might not talk to one another if it wasn’t for that platform.” According to Scott, there aren’t many concrete plans for the future of the server (Will middle schoolers be able to join? Will there be group activities?). But if anyone has suggestions, “just email Darius and me,” Scott said. “We’re open to anything.”

SMUD to replace Country Day power lines by early 2020; back fields might be closed during upgrade BY NIHAL GULATI The buzz of the power lines above the back fields has been a Country Day landmark since the school opened in 1964. Starting this month, the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) plans to replace the three power lines that run from the Hurley Substation (2101 Hurley Way) through Country Day to the Procter & Gamble plant (8201 Fruitridge Rd.) to increase their transmission capability. SMUD aims to finish work in early 2020, according to the company’s website. Lines will be upgraded section by section (two towers at most), so the replacement process will take multiple months, according to Mike Deis, director of substation, telecom and metering assets at SMUD. When work begins, SMUD will close off the tower area. Head of school Lee Thomsen said the back fields might be closed for some time in early November depending on the scope of the work. Electrical workers will have to work within the constraints of the weather, making planning difficult. According to Thomsen, SMUD has been working closely with the school to lessen

the effects of the closed fields on sports practices. “The anticipated window of work falls right in between our fall and winter athletic seasons and should only have a minimal impact on our athletic program,” Thomsen said.

“The anticipated window of work should only have a minimal impact on our athletic program.

— Lee Thomsen

SMUD completed a California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) assessment to gauge how the replacement will affect the local environment. According to the assessment, there will be no impact on wildlife since SMUD is replacing existing lines, not installing new structures. SMUD will not impose any power outages, Deis said. According to the company’s website, replacing the wires will allow SMUD to increase its overall transmission system flex-

ibility and ensure reliable service, particularly in the high-demand summer months. The current lines are pure aluminum, which isn’t as conductive as other metals and has an operating temperature limit. The new lines will still be aluminum but will contain a separate alloy core, which will increase the temperature limit and thus the amount of power that can be sent through the lines, according to SMUD electrical engineer Jose Hernandez. Once the area surrounding the towers is cordoned off, said Deis, SMUD will bring in machines such as basket cranes to help workers access the lines. In some cases, they might climb the tower. Once the old lines are unsecured from the tower and attached to pulleys, they can be pulled down and rolled into drums. Next, the new lines will be rolled in, unspooled, slid through the pulleys and then held in place by machines called “tensioners” at the start and end of the lines. The workers will then climb the tower again, remove the lines from the pulleys and secure them to the tower. All in all, it will be several months before the distinctive buzz returns to Country Day.

TOWER POWER The Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) plans to replace this tower’s wires in early 2020 in order to increase their transmission capability. PHOTO BY SANJANA ANAND

The Octagon

October 15, 2019 • News

Dropped period impacts history, language curricula; clubs compete with classes, electives to use flex time (continued from page 1) “It adds stress because I don’t get to do the same lecture twice,” Jacobsen said. “But I couldn’t have done (all my classes) without flex period, so it did help.” However, senior Charles Thomas said the schedule is too relaxed. Thomas, who transferred from Jesuit his sophomore year, said his schedule there was similar to Country Day’s current one, as not every class occurred every day. “When I transferred here, I was like, ‘Wow, this is a lot of work,’” Thomas said. “It was difficult, but I was learning a lot more this way than I would otherwise.” He said the old schedule had sufficient free time because students chose how many classes they took. “I had one free elective,” Thomas said. “So every other day, I had a certain amount of free time. That was enough (for me).” However, he said he sees the benefit of the new schedule for seniors, who can use flex period to study for the SAT and work on college applications. The period has provided an ideal time for clubs, according to senior Larkin Barnard-Bahn, founder of A Cappella Club. Previously, her club met from 7:30 to 8:20 a.m. two days a week due to members’ after-school commitments. Now, the club rehearses twice a week during flex, which she said allows everyone to attend. While “the good outweighs the bad,” according to Barnard-Bahn, flex period has posed challenges. One of these problems, she said, is that orchestra and band teachers sometimes use the period for rehearsals. Furthermore, because flex period is only 30 minutes long, the club gets only 60 minutes of practice a week this year versus 80 minutes. “I could add another flex period, but that could be met with resistance,” Barnard-Bahn said. “People like flex to relax.” One solution, Barnard-Bahn said, would be to ensure that students get out of elective on time because it takes up to 10 minutes for people to “trickle in.” “I’ve also heard complaints from people that teachers are taking up a lot of their flex time, which takes away from clubs,” Barnard-Bahn said. “Other than rehearsing specifically for performances, I think that time should be left for clubs.” However, Current Events Club founder Avinash Krishna, a junior,

said the schedule has benefited his club, serving as a dedicated time for meetings once a week. On the other hand, senior Anu Krishnan, the founder of the Math and Science Tutoring Club, said the flex period isn’t an ideal time for her club to meet. “There are already so many conflicts during that time,” Krishnan said. “The kids who need the help are all involved in many different things during flex.” Therefore, her club

“I don’t have to rush to class and worry about (being) late. It makes everything much smoother.”

— Avinash Krishna

still meets at lunch once a week. The class time extension from 45 to 52 minutes has also been met with mixed reactions. Jacobsen said she now has the time to check homework answers and go over questions in class. Geometry Honors and Algebra II students now have time to do homework in class as well, according to Jacobsen. She added that the extended class time makes up for the absence of a long period, which she said she rarely used. Kuipers also likes the length. “It hits a sweet spot and feels a little more substantive,” Kuipers said. However, Spanish teacher Patricia Portillo said some of her classes feel too long. “Especially in Spanish I and II, there’s only so much that can be taken in in one class period,” Portillo said. Sophomore Dylan Margolis agreed. “Seven (more) minutes feels like a large stretch of time,” Margolis said. Similar to the change in class time, the three-minute passing periods have been an adjustment for students and teachers. Krishna said he loves the extra time. “I don’t have to rush to classes and worry about (being) late,” he said. “Everything is smoother.” Krishna said the passing periods allow teachers to keep students in class for an extra minute. “And when you need to print something or run to a locker, you have a few minutes.” Krishna said. Wells agreed that passing peri-

ods reduce pressure on students. Jacobsen said the passing periods have decreased students’ tardiness, which previously “wasted time.” However, she said she often forgets to let her students out on time because she is not used to the new schedule. “I recognized that I wasn’t doing a good job,” she said. “So I’ve set a timer on my phone as my signal to finish class.” The high school’s lack of a bell system, Jacobsen said, has made the transition difficult. Kuipers agreed, saying that no bells makes the schedule more informal, undermining the passing periods. But he said tardiness has not yet been a problem in his classes. A more controversial change is the daily dropped class. While Jacobsen said it is good for students not to have math every day because it gives them a break, the dropped period creates test-scheduling issues because students want to have class the day before a test to review. She said she has also encountered problems when students miss class for an extended period of time because of long weekends. “(One) Friday, I took the afternoon off for personal time, so I missed my last class,” Jacobsen said. “Then on Monday, that class was dropped, so I didn’t see them again until Tuesday.” Due to the schedule’s backward rotation, with one day’s last class becoming the next day’s dropped class, students will miss a period for multiple days in a row every time a teacher has to leave early, according to Jacobsen. Kuipers, however, said dropping a class reduced

“I’m still not convinced that it’s the best thing. It affects lower-level (Spanish classes) the most because they need that everyday practice.”

— Patricia Portillo

his load. Kuipers said he made minor changes to AP European History, the only class he is teaching again this year, to fit the new schedule. “It’s just about being more efficient,” Kuipers said. “Maybe a discussion is shorter one day or we watch less of a video, but I think it (improves) the flow of the class.” However, for Portillo, skipping

a day of class is the biggest problem the new schedule has created. “I’m still not convinced that it’s the best thing,” Portillo said. “It affects lower-level (Spanish classes) the most because they need that everyday practice. This (past) weekend, one of my classes missed four days. That’s a long time (to miss the practice required to learn a language).” She said dropping one of her five classes every six days is also difficult to keep track of and makes it hard to plan. This decrease in class periods per week will affect how much she gets done, Portillo said, especially considering the removal of long period, during which her students wrote practice AP essays. “The quality of learning has decreased,” Portillo said. Margolis said dropping a class each day disrupts the curriculum of some courses. “Some classes learn about assignments or a test before the weekend, giving them more time to work, which (I think) is unfair,” Margolis said. Since some teachers assign twice as much homework on days they are dropping a class, according to Margolis, the new schedule adds, rather than lessens, stress. Senior Savannah Rosenzweig agreed, saying “it feels like you’ve been away from that class much longer than you actually have.” To improve the schedule, Barnard-Bahn said she would lengthen morning break. “We used to have time after morning meetings,” she said. “Now break is just the meeting.” Consequently, Barnard-Bahn said she has zero free time when C days fall on Tuesdays and Thursdays. “I have two classes, morning meeting, two more classes, C-day meeting during lunch, elective, A Cappella and my final class,” Barnard-Bahn said. “On days like this, I can’t go to the bathroom.” But when she has free period last, her school day ends at 12:12. “While I enjoy those days,” Barnard-Bahn said, “they don’t make up for C days.” “We have three minutes of passing period at the end of the day, which should be added to break as a solution,” she said. Wells said the scheduling committee plans to let teachers and students adjust to the schedule until November. “Then we’ll get some official feedback and just see (if changes need to be made),” Wells said.


Data collected in a Sept. 23-26 poll of 123 high school students.




Do you prefer the new schedule over the old one? 12% 40%


Do you like the new flex period? 12% 18%


Do you like the passing periods? 11% 25%


Do you like dropping one class each day? 18% 24%


Technology director to disable hotspots for better laptop performance (continued from page 1) learn, while laptops are, so it’s important that laptops are able to connect first,” Kedem said. Junior Olivia Chilelli agreed, saying most people are not using their phones for schoolwork. “The Wi-Fi is here for us to study and (do) research on our laptops,” Chilelli said. “We only use our phones for social media, and everything that we do on a phone can be done on a laptop.” A student who requested anonymity disagreed, saying a phone is more efficient than a laptop. “I can use my phone to check my grades

and any assignments on CavNet in between classes,” the student said. “If I need to search up a definition or use the calculator, it’s easy to do.” Hinson said phones on Wi-Fi add connections to an access point. Every classroom has an access point that can hold up to 40 connections without stretching the bandwidth, but the environment and any metal can interfere with the radio frequencies. “Before this month, Rooms 10 and 11 in the middle school didn’t have any Wi-Fi because there were too many metal products and wires in the walls that interfered with the access point,” Hinson said. “I added a different brand of the access point which

can hold up to at least 120 connections.” Hinson said the interference of the phones with the access points uses another connection, affecting laptops that are trying to connect for school purposes. “Blocking phones off of the network isn’t effective because it taxes the access point by constantly trying to connect,” Hinson said. “However, I can change the passwords for the laptops so the phones don’t have the password saved and don’t auto-connect.” Hinson said not having phones on the Wi-Fi allows unlimited performance quality for students. Uploading and downloading any file should be much faster, according to Hinson.

However, 63% of the students polled haven’t noticed a change. To increase Wi-Fi performance, Hinson said she plans to disable student hotspots and have teachers remind students about closing their laptop between classes. Hinson has the ability to block unapproved access points, which are actually hotspots. “Hotspots compete with access points, and laptops get confused as to which one they are supposed to connect to,” Hinson said. “Leaving laptops open from class to class means that your laptop is trying to connect to the last access point you were on, which could be at the other end of campus. That’s probably why it takes laptops time to connect to the internet.”


Sports • October 15, 2019

The Octagon

Junior volleyball team captain’s ‘quiet’ confidence catalyzes good chemistry BY JACKSON CRAWFORD


Country Day lifer, junior Erin Wilson was practically born a Cavalier. She has transformed from spectator to starter, from an inspired elementary school student into an inspiring varsity team captain setter. Wilson has a passion for volleyball that fuels her desire to improve herself and her teammates. Growing up, Wilson said she “begged” her mother to stay after school to watch Country Day volleyball matches. “One of my earliest memories of the varsity team is (watching) a (setter) also named Erin (Reddy, ’15), which was one of the reasons I loved watching her,” she said. “I remember her always being so in control of the ball on the court. “I think that’s why I love playing home games and having people come watch us now.” After colliding with another student at the annual Ancil Hoffman capture-the-flag game on Sept. 20, Wilson suffered a concussion and will miss the rest of the season. Wilson started playing volleyball in fifth grade and has played setter ever since. “I stuck with (volleyball) because I loved setting and hitting,” Wilson said. Throughout middle school, Wilson played soccer, basketball and volleyball. However, during her freshman year, the Sacramento Metropolitan Athletic League (SMAL) moved soccer from winter to fall, the same season as volleyball.

Furthermore, Country Day didn’t have enough girls for a varsity soccer team, so it became coed. Facing a difficult decision, Wilson chose volleyball over soccer because soccer was coed and many of her friends were playing volleyball, she said. “I played soccer for 10 years before I stopped,” she said. “I (just) have more passion for volleyball.” In 2018, the 5-foot-

“She knows her position very well. If it’s the first ball up, then that’s hers, and she will do whatever it takes to get to it.”

— Elise Sommerhaug

5 Wilson played as the sole sophomore, ranking second on the varsity with a 24.8% ace rate. The Cavs finished 15-6 overall and 11-3 in the SMAL losing 3-0 to Stone Ridge Christian in the first round of the California Interscholastic Federation Sac-Joaquin Division VI playoffs. “It was hard not playing with any other kids from my grade, but the juniors and seniors (then) were very welcoming and are great friends,” she said. Following her first varsity season, Wilson made the Sacramento Performance Volleyball Club (SPVC) 16’s premier team. Wilson, who practiced twice a week in addition to playing in weekend tournaments, described the intensity of club volleyball. “Everyone who’s there wants to play,” she said. “It was like you deserved to be there and you had

to work at it because someone could take your place.” However, Wilson said she enjoyed the regularity of practices and competitions. “Tournaments were always my favorite, especially toward the end of the season when the matches started to matter more and the competition went up,” she said. In addition to Reddy, Wilson’s former teammate Bella Mathisen, ’19, inspired her. “She was a setter last year and helped me prepare to be the only setter on the team (this year),” Wilson said. Wilson recognized the challenge and “responsibility” of the position. “(I’m) always part of the play because I usually get the second ball, so you always have to be there and try your hardest,” she said. As of Oct. 1, the Cavs were 7-10 overall and 3-4 in the SMAL, with their smallest roster size (eight) since 2005, according to Maxpreps. Coach Jason Kreps noted Wilson’s volleyball skills in addition to her leadership presence. “She is super fast, has a great serve and is really starting to understand how to run an offense as a setter,” Kreps said. “Erin has a quiet leadership; she leads by doing. She is always pushing others in an encouraging manner.” Wilson’s confidence and fearlessness make her a great setter, according to junior right side Elise Sommerhaug “Erin’s not afraid to go for the

HUDDLE UP Juniors Erin Wilson (17) and Elise Sommerhug listen as coach Jason Kreps addresses the team during the Cavs’ 3-0 win over Cristo Rey on Sept. 18. PHOTO BY SHIMIN ZHANG ball,” Sommerhaug said. “She knows her position very well. If it’s the second ball, then that’s hers, and she will do whatever it takes to get to it.” Wilson said she enjoys the team aspect of volleyball, especially at Country Day. “I like being more con-

“It was like you deserved to be there and you had to work at it because someone could take your place.”

— Erin Wilson

nected with everyone on the team because I see them every day,” she said. “I’m not afraid to yell at (my teammates), but I also encourage them. The key to volleyball is being able to function together on a court.” Before suffering the concussion, she said her goals for this season were to fine-tune her set-

ting and serving, as well as improve her passing. “I’m trying to learn different types of sets with certain hitters so we can have better attacks,” she said. “I want to improve my passing because it’s a weakness. “(But) I feel like secretly I’ve always wanted to play hitter because hitting the ball is very fun.” Kreps said Wilson positively influences the team culture. “She has an attitude that everyone wants to be around and that becomes infectious in a team setting,” he said. “I look forward to watching her play again and helping her get healthy.” Upon medical clearance, Wilson said she plans to try out for club volleyball. She also hopes to dabble in beach volleyball with SPVC. “I’ve heard great things about beach, and it seems like a new challenge I want to try,” she said.

ACE On Sept. 9, Wilson sets the ball during Country Day’s home loss to Faith Christian. The Cavs lost the match 3-0. PHOTO BY EMMA BOERSMA

The Octagon

October 15, 2019 • Sports


Freshman soccer player driven by passion to follow in father/coach’s footsteps championship game, not to mention the “hundreds of hours” put into soccer sharpening his skills. “I learned how to both mentaloccer is my life, and I think about it con- ly and physically prepare myself stantly,” freshman RJ for a big game like the state cup final,” Vargo said. “I practice with Vargo said. Hard work and determination my team three times every week, led center midfielder Vargo and and on top of that I try to play the San Juan Soccer Club to sec- around with a ball every day.” Vargo hopes playing high ond place in the annual NorCal school soccer will help him imState Cup in 2018. Vargo started playing at 4 years prove his skills and stand out for old, improving his foot skills and his club. Sophomore teammate Miles taking shots. He played for recreM o r r o w ational clubs until he was 8. Then praised Varhe moved to competitive soccer, go’s skills on joining the San the field, sayJuan Soccer Club “Watching UOP ing Vargo is a until switching to or Sacramento “huge help” to Union SacramenRepublic FC play the team. to FC last year. helps drive me to “RJ is a great San Juan placed presence on the second in the un- get better because der-15 age group. I know that I can be field; he makes great passes and Vargo at(as good as them) helps to create tributes his plays,” Morrow if I put the work in.” success to his team and ded— RJ Vargo said. “The team really benefits and ication. plays well when “That year he’s out there.” was great for Matt Vargo – Country Day athour team,” Vargo said. “We had a lot of good players, and my skills letic director, co-coach of the coed definitely improved because of soccer team and RJ’s father – added that RJ has a great work ethic the work I was putting in.” While most people would be and continues to improve because content with placing second in of it. Matt said, with the extra comthe prestigious tournament, Vargo said it felt “terrible” to make it mitment of high school soccer, RJ plays about six days a week, inall the way to the final and lose. However, Vargo added that he cluding weekend games. Although initially driven by his gained experience playing in a endless passion for soccer, RJ said



CATCH ME IF YOU CAN Freshman RJ Vargo looks to make a pass during the Cavaliers’ 2-1 loss to John Adams Academy on Sept. 23 at Country Day. PHOTO BY EMMA BOERSMA his determination to continue im- get better because I know I can be proving his skills stems from his (as good as them) if I put the work goal to play in college and beyond. in,” RJ said. RJ takes inspiRJ said he ration from his watches cerfather’s college “Soccer is my life, tain professoccer career sional players and I think about it at the Univerand tries to constantly.” sity of the Pamimic their — RJ Vargo cific (UOP) in styles of play. Stockton. His idols in“ Wa t c h i n g clude professional soccer players UOP or Sacramento ReWayne Rooney, Pelé and Ronaldpublic FC play helps drive me to inho.

EYE ON THE BALL Vargo passes the ball while freshman Tonye Jack watches during the Cavs’ loss to John Adams Academy. PHOTO BY EMMA BOERSMA

“(Seeing) them play makes me want to be like them,” RJ said. “That’s how I motivate myself to keep putting the work in.” Matt added that he does not put pressure on RJ to excel in soccer. “I’m very proud of how far he has come as a player,” Matt said. “If he wants to play in college then he can, but I am not going to force him. I let him drive everything that he does regarding soccer and every decision that he makes. ”



The Oc

all about the



n the edge of the high school campus, just past assistant head of school Tucker Foehl’s office, lies a small room. From 1990 until this school year, it was known as the Cave, where the Octagon staff designed pages. Now, a new name hangs on the door: “ARC.” At the ARC, or Academic Resource Center, high school students receive help with their classes. While life skills counselor Pat Reynolds, who is not part of the ARC, helps students with social and emotional issues, the three learning specialists located in the ARC help students with reading, writing, organization, research and planning, according to learning specialist Adie Renteria. Renteria said the ARC and Reynolds often work together under the “student support umbrella.” For example, if a student received a low test score, the problem might concern organization or preparation (requiring academic counseling) or anxiety (requiring social-emotional counseling). Learning specialist Tara Adams supports students in fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh grade. Adams also focuses on students’ transition from lower to middle school, learning specialist Kelley Brown said. Brown supports pre-K, first, second, eighth and ninth graders, focusing on the transition between middle and high school, as well. Lastly, Renteria supports second, third, 10th, 11th and 12th graders. “At first, we thought one of us would do lower school, another middle school and another high school,” Brown said. “As we are all (working) part time, we actually found it would be more efficient and we would be able to help more students if we broke it by grade

level instead.” The academic counseling department has two offices. The student support center is located in the middle school quad, next to Reynolds’ office. The learning specialists have worked with lower and middle school students there since the program was revived four years ago. This year, the ARC was constructed in the former Cave. (The Octagon staff now works in Room 9.) “Students went to (the middle school center), but it wasn’t front and center,” head of high school Brooke Wells said. “The idea (behind the ARC) is that it becomes a place where all students will go and talk through their sophomore project or AP exams.” Brown agreed. “Having this space where our door can be open for middle school and high school students, especially high school, to just walk in and get support or just check in with one of us is such a great addition to the program,” she said. Renteria added that new resources coming to the center, including a large mounted whiteboard, will add to their tools for organizing and contextualizing information. However, the learning specialists had a presence before moving into their new space. The revival started four years ago when Brown arrived. Before Brown, the school had gone a few years without a learning specialist, Brown said. Brown, who has special education credentials for mild/moderate disabilities, helped create a

support team of teachers and administrators for students with academic difficulties. “It (brought) a lot more accountability and consistency,” Brown said. “(Teachers had) tried to pass on some information (about students) from one year to the next, but that’s very different than having a group of people who get to know the students, their families and their institutional history and can follow them year to year.” At first, Brown worked only in the lower school, helping students struggling to learn or write. But by the end of her first year, she started seeing some middle school students as

eria, pus Tues lows er, m with In readi cialis meet In dents eithe of m

“Having this space where our door can be open for middle school and high school students, especially high school, to just walk in and get suppo or just check in with one of us is such a great addition to the program.”

— Adie Rente

well, mainly helping with organization, time management and planning. By her second year, she was working with students throughout lower, middle and high school. By the end of last year, Brown said there was clearly a need for more specialists. Thus, according to Renteria, Tucker Foehl, assistant head of school and learning specialist supervisor, initiated an expansion of academic support to as many students as possible, including high performers. Adams joined the ARC early in 2019 during Brown’s maternity leave but returned for another school year. Renteria joined the team this school year. According to Rent-

STUDY SPACE Learning specialist Adie Renteria works at her desk in the Academic Resource Center (ARC). PHOTO BY ARIJIT TRIVEDI

abou for it as m Lo cur i grou In with In all le emai up a “It kids “Mr. ing t us if as (t help come of ey or to can m ger o Bro dents high once Ac high nizat that al wo tain s So learn soph serv gani to th Fu ly m Hist said Th work sista acco “S the othe libra La

Oct. 15, 2019




at least one learning specialist is on camevery weekday, and two are present on sdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. This althe learning specialists to work with lowmiddle and high school students, as well as parents and teachers, Brown said. lower school, teachers and early literacy, ing and math assessments help the spests decide which students they should t with. middle and high school, identifying stus is mostly based on recommendations, er by specific teachers or by the heads middle or high school. Furthermore, parents and students can contact learning specialists independently. “We love when students are proactive and come to our office and say, ‘Hey, I’d love to meet! I have this eria upcoming AP U.S. History test, and I want to talk ut the best way to study t,’” Brown said. “But that doesn’t happen much as we would like.” ower school academic counseling can ocindividually or in small reading or math ups. middle school, specialists often meet students during flex period. high school, Renteria said students of evels can receive guidance in the ARC by iling one of the learning specialists to set meeting. t’s a stigma that we’re taking that are struggling,” she said. Wells and the teachers are goto recommend students to they are not doing as well they could), but we can anybody. Anybody can e and have a second set yes to edit their writing, o think about how they make an argument stronor to study for a test.” own added that, while some stus do check in weekly at the ARC, other schoolers meet with a specialist only e or twice to get the information they need. ccording to Renteria, services offered to school students include advice on orgation, studying and writing. Brown added learning specialists can provide additionork for students who “blow through” cersubjects, such as math. ophomores are required to meet with a ning specialist about their progress on the homore project. Renteria said the meeting ves both as a chance to check students’ orization and sources and to introduce them he ARC. urthermore, learning specialists will likemeet with freshmen about their National tory Day project in World History, Brown d. he space can also be used as another kplace for students, whether they need asance from the learning specialists or not, ording to Brown. Somebody could come in and use one of individual desks to do some work in aner (work space) on campus that’s not the ary or the quad,” she said. astly, students who receive extended time

d h ort h

SMILING SUPPORT (From left) Learning specialists Tara Adams, Adie Renteria and Kelley Brown pose in the lower school. They help students in lower, middle and high school in various academic areas. PHOTO COURTESY OF KELLEY BROWN on tests and assignments can complete them in the ARC. In a Sept. 25 poll of 82 students, 45% said they were aware of the ARC, but only 10% said they had been to it. According to Brown, if students are diagnosed with a learning disorder, the specialists create a learning profile (a document detailing the student’s needs and accommodations) and try

know about or have visited the ARC. Junior Nate Leavy, diagnosed with ADHD, said he has not visited the ARC. His only accommodation is extra time on tests and assignments. “My experience will be different from everyone else’s, but (the accommodation) usually gives me enough time to make up for getting distracted,” Leavy said. “I think that enough is done.” He added that he usually finishes tests when

“It’s a stigma that we’re taking kids that are struggling,” she said. “Mr. Wells and the teachers are going to recommend students to us if they are not doing as well as (they could), but we can help anybody. Anybody can come and have a second set of eyes to edit their writing, or to think about how they can make an argument stronger or to study for a test.”

— Renteria

to meet more frequently with them. Junior Naomi Cohen, diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), has worked with the learning specialists since freshman year. She said they have helped her communicate her needs to teachers, organize her materials and study for tests. “The school seems to be doing a pretty good job with helping me,” she said. An anonymous student diagnosed with attention deficit disorder (ADD) agreed. The student visited the ARC once as a requirement for the learning profile and was mostly assisted with organization. But not all students with learning disorders

expected with the extra time and can study on his own “pretty well.” “I don’t know if it’s just because I’ve been at Country Day forever and learned to adapt to fit into that classroom setting or if the classroom setting naturally complements (me), but I very rarely feel like things are going too fast or that everyone else gets it except me,” Leavy said. However, Leavy said the ARC is a good resource for other students to have. An anonymous student diagnosed with ADD who hasn’t visited the ARC agreed with Leavy. “All I need is extra time, and when I do need it, all I have to do is ask a teacher,” the student

said. “I haven’t run into any problems asking my teachers so far. I think the school is doing everything it can.” The learning specialists still see areas to grow, according to Brown. “Interacting with every student on campus would be the ultimate goal,” Brown said. “(We want to) have a presence in the high school and make it known that our door is open to all students.” While the learning specialists already communicate frequently with teachers to gain and pass along information about students, Brown said she hopes to increase the ARC’s presence in each classroom. “For example, I’ve spent more time with the kindergarten and first grade the last couple weeks and already have a really good sense of which students I’m going to start pulling out to work with,” she said. The more the learning specialists meet with students, the more specialized and thorough the specialists’ support can be, Brown added. Brown has worked with some students for four years and said there are clear benefits. “I know exactly where they left off last year; I know their families; I know how they extended their academic support over the summer,” she said. In addition to their involvement in National History Day and the sophomore project, the learning specialists hope to expand their presence through Renteria’s high school advisory. Wells also said he wants all students to be comfortable going to the ARC. “It’s not just for students who are struggling or for students doing very well,” he said. “We want to build that familiarity, so people start dropping in and understanding that it’s for everyone.”


Feature • October 15, 2019

The Octagon

SCDS speaker examines parenting methods, role of failure in first book



essica Lahey will discuss her 2015 book, “The Gift of Failure: How the Best Parents Learn to Let Go So Their Children Can Succeed,” on Tuesday, Oct. 22, at 7 p.m. in the Matthews Library. “The Gift of Failure” has been published in 14 languages, and more than 100,000 copies have been sold in English. Lahey’s second book, “The Addiction Inoculation: Raising Healthy Kids in a Culture of Dependence,” is scheduled for release in 2020.

and after spending more time in the workforce or in school. Pair that with an era in which we can’t expect our kids to do better than us economically, with media saturation about the challenge of getting into college, getting a job, vaping, the opiate crisis, online pornography and the dangers of being sold into the sex trade — and parents are nuts. (Much) of this hysteria is fueled by overblown or outright manufactured “news,” but it affects us. It stresses us out and makes the stakes feel incredibly high. Just ask the parents being indicted in the Varsity Blues investigation.

ing to write, writing and talking about it so people will buy it. Q: What surprised you most during your research? A: That the very things I was doing because I believed it would ensure my kid’s emotional and academic success were doing the exact opposite. I was undermining his motivation, learning, competence and confidence every time I swooped in and fixed things for him.

Q: What’s your writing process? A: First of all, I use a program for writing called Scrivener. It allows Q: Why did you decide to write Q: What research did you do me to organize the bones of my “The Gift of Failure”? book into folders, one for each A: I had been teaching for about for the book? A: I’m an over-researcher, both chapter based on the proposal 10 years when I realized that my students were less interested in for my teaching and my jour- I’ve submitted to my publisher, learning and more in being per- nalism. I love researching, and I and in each folder I have research, fect — arguing about the differ- don’t feel as if I can see the whole ideas, approaches, fragments of landscape unless I read every- text and transcripts of interviews. ence between a B+ and an A-. Then I flail about — I just write. At the same time, they were thing. I started general — books on I try to pin down my chapter less motivated, and their parents the topic, academic review arti- “framing stories,” the narrative were saving them all the time. Consequences for forgetting cles — and mined the bibliogra- that will contextualize all that resomething at home? Nope. Parent phies of those (books and articles) search. for more specific ideas and takes. Once I get serious about a chapdelivered it. I read the consensus view, and I ter, I nail down the framing story Consequences for treating another kid badly? Nope. Parents read the minority view. I read all and start organizing the research in the context of the story and said it had to have been the other of it. I interviewed a lot of peotry to integrate them into kid’s fault; their kid would never a seamless whole. I write do that. every day, even on weekAs a teacher, I was feeling “I had been teaching for ends, because I like to, but demoralized. So many learn- about 10 years when I realalso because it’s my job ing opportunities were being ized that my students were and habits are important. lost to the points and grades It’s harder to get in the less interested in learning arguments and to the sogroove when the writing isn’t called “helicopter parentand more in being perfect.” in the front of my brain. ing.” — Jessica Lahey I’m in the final stretch beAs angry and frustrated fore my book deadline, so I’m as I was at the parents of ple. I recorded them, then spending 12-14 hours a day writmy students, I had to admit I was doing the same thing to used a transcription service to ing, honing and working on edits I turn those into text. get back from my agent before we my own kids. The book I’m working on took submit to my editor. I realized my 9-year-old kid me about a year to research and could not tie his own shoes, so I did that. I caused him to be help- write the proposal for. Proposals Q: What questions do parents include chapter summaries and ask you the most, and how do less and incompetent. I had to research this to figure a sample chapter, so you have to you respond? A: How do I start? How do I stop out how to fix it for my students know the landscape. (There was) another year of re- taking over, being so directive and my own kid. search before I was ready to start and let my kid experience life so Q: Why are so many parents writing. The book was due on Oct. he can learn from his mistakes? 10, and it’s taken about a year to When you feel the urge to take overprotective these days? over, stop. Breathe, shift your A: That’s an entire chapter in the write. Note to future writers: Don’t thinking from this emergency, book, but the short version is that write a book if you are not pre- this urgent moment, and try to we have fewer kids at an older age pared to spend five years prepar- think long-term.

NURSERY OF INSPIRATION Lahey’s writing office is packed with resources on topics covered in her books — from books on adolescent development, substance abuse, history of substance use, and memoirs on substance use and abuse to education theory, child welfare, poverty, literacy and teaching techniques. PHOTO COURTESY OF LAHEY

RISING WRITER Author Jessica Lahey lives in Shelburne, Vermont, with her husband and two sons and teaches high school English at a drug and alcohol rehab center for adolescents. PHOTO COURTESY OF LAHEY Do I want to ease my child’s discomfort by delivering this forgotten homework assignment or these soccer cleats, or do I want to raise the kind of kid who will have the strategies in place to remember for himself next time? Long term over short term. Process of learning over grades, points, scores, trophies. Q: If parents wanted to read your book for advice but couldn’t, what would you want them to know about your book/ message? A: First I’d tell them they don’t have to read — they can listen. It’s available as an audiobook read by me, which was very cool. If they can’t listen, either, I’d say these are the biggest points: When we do too much for our kids — direct them too much, control them too often — we may help them in the short term, but in the long term, we render them less able to learn. The problem is that learning

happens best in the presence of “desirable difficulties,” tasks that are a wee bit beyond a kid’s comfort zone — things they have to untangle, parse and work on to figure out. Children of highly directive parents are less likely to be able to cope with frustration when things get difficult and thus are less able to finish difficult tasks on their own. So, in short, when we over-parent, we undermine learning. We can fix that by focusing on the process of learning instead of the end product. (This) allows us to teach kids we really do care more about learning than the grade; it helps diffuse anxiety in kids and increases the chances that kids will stay interested in learning for the sake of learning itself. Kids learn best when they are supported through successes and failures, so, if we do nothing else, we need to love the kids we have, not the kids we wish we had.

October 15, 2019 • Feature

The Octagon

Senior’s internship at local special needs learning center increases her interest in studying psychology in college they expected me to follow, like the HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountenior Yumi Moon has juggled ability Act).” Moon worked a three-hour shift on school and an internship for over Tuesdays and Thursdays during the suma year. Moon interns at Learning Solu- mer and a two-hour shift on Tuesdays and tions (3031 C St.), which aims to enhance Thursdays during her junior year. “Even if I had conflicts with school, I prithe quality of life, social interactions, communication, self-care and inclusion for oritized my internship,” she said. On days when she couldn’t attend, such children with special needs, according to as during school trips, Moon said Learning the company’s website. Solutions was flexible. Moon began the internship She has the same schedule during the summer before her junior school as last year and works with two year. groups: high school students and chil“At the end of the year, dren as young as 2. Valerie (Velo, assistant to “With the little kids, I act as a the head of high school) teacher’s assistant,” Moon said. “I sent an email with internmake sure they don’t hurt each ship (opportunities),” she other and they’re (not learning) said. “I read through bad words.” that, and I was like, With younger ‘This summer I’m kids, she said she staying in America adjusts to what “I’m showing them what (instead of going to they want to talk South Korea or Japan), appropriate behavior looks about. so I might as well like in an engaged converWith older studo something usedents, Moon said she sation.” ful.’ — Yumi Moon acts as a friend, or “I was interestsomeone they can ed in (psychology), grow accustomed to too.” outside of their social group. She talks with Moon said there them about school and their social lives, were no qualification requirements. “After I joined, they read me the rules such as school dances or other activities they’re participating in.




Moon said every group discusses the She said one thing she can always im“highs and lows” of what happened during prove on is her interactions with students. the week. “I realized they take every single word I Regardless of what they’re discussing, say to heart,” she said. “Then they repeat she said she’s always involved. what I say. It made me want to try harder.” “(I’m) showing them what appropriate Despite not receiving academic behavior looks like in an engaged convercredit, volunteer sation,” she said. hours or a salary, She also keeps logs “After I was introduced to Moon said she enof students’ behavior. joys the work. Moon said not that new environment, I “I always seem knowing how to ap- was able to open up more, to be learning proach a situation new things,” she said. which is really important in is the hardest as“I discovered more today’s society.” pect of the job. similarities than dif— Yumi Moon ferences between the While she has a paper with instudents and me, like structions, not evin behaviors, thoughts or ideas we have.” ery situation fits She added that she has a broader mindthe guidelines she is given. set than when starting the internship. “The teachers know how to handle most The internship has also increased her situations,” Moon said. “(But) when unex- interest in psychology, which she wants to pected things happen, I get nervous. In the study in college. first few weeks, there were many surpris“I’m interested in why we behave the ing situations, mainly just because I wasn’t way we do,” Moon said. used to them.” She said the experience opened her eyes. Over time, she said she learned to adjust “Today there’s a lot of stigma (around) quicker to challenging situations and re- mental health,” Moon said. “I feel like I main calm when caught off guard. was a part of that (having a stigma) before “The first time I talked to someone,” I started interning. Moon said, “they asked, ‘Why are you “But after I was introduced to that new friends with the people you are now, and environment, I was able to open up more, why have you broken off friendships?’” which is really important in today’s sociMoon said that, at first, she was flustered ety.” by the question.

Graphic by Brynne Barnard-Bahn


Opinion • October 15, 2019

The Octagon

“Reap What You Sow” by Eric Lechpammer

My Angle


By Héloïse


ONLINE EDITORS-IN-CHIEF Larkin Barnard-Bahn Jackson Crawford

Back off on the Bard; make more room for varied voices!

NEWS EDITOR Sarina Rye SPORTS EDITOR Jackson Crawford FEATURE EDITOR Larkin Barnard-Bahn A&E/OPINION EDITOR Emma Boersma BUSINESS STAFF Larkin Barnard-Bahn, manager Arijn Claire, assistant PAGE EDITORS Sanjana Anand Larkin Barnard-Bahn Emma Boersma Jackson Crawford Anna Frankel Ethan Monasa Sarina Rye Héloïse Schep Arijit Trivedi Ming Zhu SENIOR REPORTERS Dylan Margolis Miles Morrow Arikta Trivedi REPORTERS Sicily Schroeder Nihal Gulati SOCIAL MEDIA EDITOR Sarina Rye PHOTO EDITOR Emma Boersma Shimin Zhang PHOTOGRAPHERS Miles Morrow Elise Sommerhaug Arikta Trivedi GRAPHIC EDITOR Emma Boersma GRAPHIC ARTISTS Brynne Barnard-Bahn Eric Lechpammer MULTIMEDIA STAFF David Situ, editor Ming Zhu, assistant Miles Morrow, staffer ADVISER Paul Bauman 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.

EDITORIAL: New schedule needs refinements to reach potential


he biggest change this school year for all students and faculty is the revised schedule. Change is always nerve-wracking, and learning last May that a new schedule would be instituted was no exception. Now, the Octagon writes its second editorial about the change, this time focusing on the schedule itself. After experiencing it for almost two months, we decided that the new schedule has many kinks but much potential. The biggest change, arguably, is dropping one class and having only five subject periods per day. According to scheduling committee chair Brooke Wells, this was intended to alleviate stress. But that isn’t the case for all as the dropped class can create an imbalanced week. Many students have a free period and a free elective, meaning they can leave as early as 12:12 p.m. on some days, and students with two free periods can leave at 11:17 a.m. Such a relaxed schedule might not be what students and parents expect for Country Day’s high tuition. Other students added a sixth academic class to their schedule after realizing the long stretch of time they would still have from 12:12 to 2:30 p.m. encompassing lunch, free elective and flex even without a standard free period. There is a fine line between decreasing stress by adding more free time for students and causing students to feel they aren’t learning enough at school due to too much free time. On the other hand, days can feel cramped when students’ free periods are dropped. The problem is partially alleviated by the dropped class’s placement at the beginning of the follow-

ing day, but the change still fosters stress for students who have to go to bed without finishing their work or staying up until completion. The promising idea of flex period as a time for students to ask teachers for help and meet with clubs and for music groups to use for extra practice time has not lived up to expectations. Although dean of student life Patricia Jacobsen and Wells said in the May issue of the Octagon a calendar would be created to “book” certain flex periods, students have often been double-booked during a flex period. From AP Physics C labs to club meetings to extra elective time, some students are booked for flex every day, leaving no time for its original purpose — for students to work, relax or talk to teachers. A flex calendar was added to CavNet on Oct. 11, so this issue hopefully will be fixed now that students can see events happening during flex and put club meetings on the calendar by talking with Valerie Velo, assistant to the head of high school. The student voices that led to the flex calendar’s implementation should be sought in the coming weeks to finetune the schedule. Instead of teachers giving secondhand feedback based on listening to students in class, faculty and students should be communicating openly together. Having open communication lines from the start could have cleared up many questions, such as why the schedule rotates backward now. While placing the class dropped one day first the next day lessens large gaps without certain classes, it doesn’t fix all problems posed by dropping one class per day.

Besides initial concerns about the lack of repetition needed for math and language, students have noticed dropping a class can promote procrastination. For example, if a reading homework is assigned the day before a class is dropped, students might wait until the day before it is due so they can keep the information fresh in their minds for a discussion or quiz. However, teachers have mostly respected the agreement not to assign homework due on a day when the class doesn’t meet or twice the amount of homework the day before a dropped class. Unfortunately, teachers have been cheating the passing periods by starting class early and ending late, which is somewhat understandable due to the lack of a high school bell system. While the passing periods have been effective in allowing students time to use their lockers, there often isn’t enough time to use the bathroom — especially if a teacher starts or ends a class early. A time crunch is also noticeable during morning break, which morning meeting often monopolizes, leaving no time to eat or talk with friends and teachers, defeating the purpose of having a break. Six minutes of the day are wasted by the unnecessary passing periods from lunch to elective and from last period to dismissal. Adding that time to break or extending the passing periods between actual classes would be an easy fix. With all that said, these student opinions shouldn’t be represented solely in the Octagon. To utilize the schedule to its potential, the scheduling committee needs to seek out our opinions on improvements.

A BIG THANK YOU TO OUR SPONSORS FOR KEEPING US IN THE BLACK! Anand family, Barnard-Bahn Coaching and Consulting, Crawford family, Frankel family, Intel Foundation, Monasa family, Rye family, Schep-Smit family, Situ family, Trivedi family

O Shakespeare, Shakespeare, wherefore art thou so overrepresented in our curriculum? During one of the first AP English Literature and Composition classes of my senior year, teacher Jason Hinojosa showed a TED talk by Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie highlighting the importance of diverse stories. Adichie argued that reading stories by authors with a variety of perspectives and identities allows readers to better understand different cultures, countries and groups. Furthermore, seeing themselves represented in literature encourages readers to express themselves creatively, since they recognize literature is for and about them. I was thrilled to embark on an English curriculum filled with voices from around the globe that would make me and my classmates more educated and informed citizens of the world. Then I looked down at my copy of “Macbeth.” When it comes to realizing Adichie’s vision, Country Day still has a long way to go — and we might need to start with the Bard. “Macbeth” is the third Shakespeare play I’ve read in high school, following “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” in freshman year and “Othello” in sophomore and junior year and his sonnets freshman and senior year. This year, freshmen read “The Tempest” and juniors “As You Like It.” Shakespeare’s work has undoubtedly left an influence on our world; I’ve enjoyed reading his plays. But this is too much representation for a single author, no matter how important. This year, Shakespeare’s work is covered more than that of any Asian-American (Amy Tan’s “The Joy Luck Club”), Hispanic (Sandra Cisneros’ “The House on Mango Street” and Sonia Nazario’s “Enrique’s Journey”), Native American (Tommy Orange’s “There There”) or Middle Eastern author (Marjane Satrapi’s “Persepolis”). There is no single Asian-American, Hispanic or Native American experience, while there is a single explanation behind iambic pentameter or the structure of a Shakespearean tragedy. Furthermore, there are no Indian or LGBTQ+ authors in the curriculum. Non-Shakespeare plays or novels could fill those gaps. So, which Shakespeare plays must go? First, the freshman play. There is no reason for freshmen to read the same author they will read junior and senior year. The junior and senior class trip to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF) contributes to the Bard’s prevalence in the curriculum and is a wonderful learning experience. But do the plays we study at school and see at OSF have to be Shakespeare’s both years? The Oregon Shakespeare Festival has adapted other renowned works of literature, such as “Pride and Prejudice” (2018), “The Odyssey” (2017), “Great Expectations” (2016) and “The Count of Monte Cristo” (2015). Seniors could study and see one of those novel-based productions, while juniors still analyze a Shakespearean production, or the other way around. This would free up one more slot for new perspectives. Country Day has made great strides in expanding its curriculum to include multiple perspectives. But we can’t move forward while clinging to the Bard.

The Octagon

October 15, 2019 • Review

Chocolate Fish Coffee Roasters forgoes typical study spot in favor of quaint conversation café feel ing is limited to five areas: a long bar, a square table, a short bar facing the roasteing a coffee lover isn’t easy — there ing equipment, four chairs to the right of is a plethora of drink styles, milks the door and the chairs outside. Considering the sign, I assume communal tables and beans to mix and match. And each coffee shop caters to a are to encourage conversation. I could see different vibe: Some are good for studying, this being a problem during more popular times if one does not want to interact with others for socializing. Because of the sheer number of variables, strangers, but luckily Anna and I could sit comparing coffee shops would be unfair. by ourselves. Since Anna and I were starving, we startSo, I’ve decided to review individual coffee ed with the “Smashed Avo” ($6), an avoshops thoroughly and holistically, begincado toast also offered with “The Works” ning with Chocolate Fish Coffee Roasters. Named after a fish-shaped, marshmallow (radish, sprouts and an Egyptian nut and and chocolate confection native to New spice blend called dukkah, $8). The plain version was pricey but worth Zealand, Chocolate Fish Coffee Roasters sells a variety of espresso drinks, teas, cof- it. The bread was a perfect balance of crispy fee beans, alcoholic beverages and quick and chewy, and the avocado-to-bread ratio was ideal. The recipe was simple, which bites. There are three Chocolate Fish locations Anna and I appreciated. “I’m always worried about buying avoin Sacramento. On a sunny Friday aftercado toast because they always noon, senior Anna Frankel and I visitoverseason it, and it’s never what ed the East Sacramento location (4749 you wanted. But this is perfect,” Folsom Blvd.), which — snuggled beAnna said between tween 47th and 48th Street — is within mouthfuls. “This is walking distance for Fab my ideal avocado Forties residents. “The soft music and toast.” There is a parking Chocolate Fish lot in the back with a natural lighting make also offers three othseparate entrance. this the ideal spot for er toasts as well as bread However, if the lot is chatting with friends.” and oil. full (as it was when —Emma Boersma I was also eager to we went), parking try a latté ($5.45) with on the residential steamed oat milk ($1.10 extra). I’ve had street is equally conplain coffee with a splash of oat milk bevenient. The first thing I noticed was the sign on fore and hated it, but the cashier explained the front door stating that, to facilitate to us that oat milk was really good when conversation, there was no Wi-Fi. Still, sev- steamed. And, boy, was he right. eral customers worked on their computers The oat milk latté tasted similar to a cow with their headphones on. milk latté but with more flavor. The oat-y I wouldn’t recommend this place for flavor was prominent, but not intense or studying unless you own noise-canceling headphones. Rather, the soft music and unnatural enough to disgust me. It was natural lighting indeed make this the ideal surprisingly good. Anna added that she would buy this spot for chatting with friends. The second thing I noticed was the mas- again, but the additional cost for oat milk sive roasting machines on display. Accord- seemed excessive. The other hot drink we bought was the ing to a barista, the contraption isn’t just for aesthetics — every day from 7 a.m. to 4 white mocha ($5), whose sweet fragrance I p.m., an employee roasts coffee beans. So could smell all the way from its place on the table. the beans are literally roasted in-house. “It kind of tastes like crème brûlée,” This location is quite quaint, so seat-




CURL UP WITH A GOOD BOOK TOP LEFT: Senior Emma Boersma prepares to sip the white mocha, which she said was a “complete winner.” TOP RIGHT: Boersma samples the iced mango black tea. BOTTOM: Senior Anna Frankel pauses while drinking the oat milk latté to read about brewing homemade coffee in one of the themed books available to customers. PHOTOS BY BOERSMA AND FRANKEL Anna noted. “I like it more than I like that The final drink we bought was the FaStarbucks white mocha; it’s less sweet and zenda Santa Luzia, Brazil ($3.80) from the more subtle.” single-cup, pour-over menu, in which two I personally don’t love Starbucks’ white different house-roasted beans are profiled mocha, but this drink was a complete win- every few days, according to the cashier. ner. This was Anna’s and my least favorite. Anna and I concluded that we would buy For me, it encompassed my two least-fathis again. vorite coffee flavors — fruit and chocolate. Next, we moved to the nitro coffee Anna, on the other hand, thought it was ($4.50), called “Morning Beer.” Mimicking “perfectly OK,” which was the beer-making process, cold-brew cofpretty disappointing confee is infused with nitrogen, supposedly sidering how good the other making it creamier. Since I am underage, drinks were. I wouldn’t know how this compares to acNeither of us tual beer, but I can could finish say that the cof- “I’m always worried about this cup. fee itself was not buying avocado toast because Since there fizzy. are a dozen The coffee was they always overseason it, and other flavors it’s never what you wanted. But available, I susfruity, which I found gross. pect that we just this is my ideal avocado toast.” Anna, howev— Anna Frankel ordered the pourer, likes fruity over on the wrong coffee and said day. the coffee was The only overall negative of Chocolate refreshing and smooth. Fish is its prices. Everything is at least a “I would totally buy this again on a hot dollar more than at Starbucks. While the day,” she said. quality and taste are often worth the exWhile Anna sipped the nitro coffee, I tra buck, this is not a place students could tried the iced mango black tea ($3.15). come to regularly without making a dent in This one was underwhelming. While their wallet. refreshing, it tasted watered down. Also, But all in all, the drinks and the food Anna said it tasted like strawberries, were delicious. I will definitely be coming not mangoes, leading me to believe that back for another white mocha, especially the barista confused our order. In sum, I as the days grow shorter and the weather wouldn’t recommend this one. grows colder.

ROAST OR TOAST? Coffee: Food: Ambiance: Prices: DOWN TO THE LAST DROP TOP: A barista plucks a pastry for a customer at the counter. BOTTOM LEFT: Boersma grimaces after chugging “Morning Beer,” a nitro brew.. BOTTOM RIGHT: Boersma tips a mug of white mocha to finish the “yummy” drink. PHOTOS BY BOERSMA AND FRANKEL



Endpoint • October 15, 2019

The Octagon



ith the weather becoming chillier and Halloween creeping closer, the need to stay indoors with a good horror flick grows stronger. But which should you choose? REVIEWS BY DYLAN MARGOLIS AND GRAPHICS BY HÉLOÏSE SCHEP


should you watch? Blood, brains, butchery, bring it on!

How do you feel about gore?

Are you smitten with slashers? (Films involving victims being slashed with knives or razors.)

What can I say — I’m keen on knives!

Yuck! I’d rather eat my candy without looking at carnage.

Do jump scares make you jump for joy?

If the neighbors didn’t call about my screams, did I really watch a movie?

I like my movie nights laceration-free, thanks.

“Insidious” (2010, PG-13) How many horror movies have you seen? Are you in the mood for classic or contemporary horror?

From “Annabelle” to “Zombieland,” I’ve seen them all.

Uh ... I was more of a Disney kid, you know?

“Scream” (1996, R)

Why reinvent the wheel? Give me aliens, exorcisms or clowns!

During the 2000s, the horror movie industry was dying. To combat this, “Scream” flipped the script and featured characters who’ve seen all the classic horror movies. Many meta and relatable moments ensue. The characters say things like, “I have seen ‘Friday the 13th’; I know we shouldn’t split up.” If you have seen a lot of horror movies, this one is for you. There is a great scene in which a kid is watching a horror movie and the killer comes up behind one of the characters. At the same time, the killer in “Scream” comes up behind the kid, who yells at the TV, “Look behind you,” which is exactly what he needs to do.

If you are simply looking for a bunch of jump scares, this is the movie for you. Unless you’re a horror movie veteran, you’ll probably jump at every one. “Insidious” is an average, person-gets-possessed horror movie, but its jump scares will keep you on the edge of your seat. One of the

Let’s shake things up.

They’re a lazy cliché. (I also don’t want to drop my popcorn.)

“The Babadook” (2014, NR)

“The Shining” (1980, R) “The Shining” is a classic with an incredible story and top-notch acting. The slow descent of the main character, Jack Torrance – played by Jack Nicholson – into madness is amazing, especially with his iconic line “Here’s Johnny.” In “The Shining,” Torrance takes a job as a caretaker of the Overlook Hotel during the winter. The hotel gets spooky, and supernatural happenings ensue. Stanley Kubrick’s cinematography and gore make the film extremely memorable, as

shots quickly change from two blood-soaked corpses to gallons of blood rushing down the halls. Wendy Carlos and Rachel Elkind do a great job with the score, producing an ominous atmosphere that makes every scene seem uneasy. Furthermore, the final sequence is exceptional — but you’ll have to watch it to find out why. Great actors, amazing music and a compelling story — what more could you ask for in a horror movie?

“The Babadook” is a suspenseful film that will keep your hairs raised until its end. The film follows a mother and son who find a book about a terrifying creature called The Babadook. While the movie isn’t super gory, some scenes are disturbing, such as when someone breaks a dog’s neck. “The Babadook” is perfect for those looking for something artsy with a meaning that’s left up to the viewers’ interpretation.

counselors. This movie is pretty gory — at one point, the antagonist swings an ax through someone’s head — but all the kills are unique and terrifyingly realistic. Like “Psycho,” “Friday the 13th” ends with a twist that really adds to the characterization of the killer. Overall, this is a horror must-see.

“A Quiet Place” (2018, PG-13) “A Quiet Place” is the newest horror movie on this list — and a pretty good one at that. It was directed by and stars John Krasinski, known for his comedic roles in movies and television. In “A Quiet Place,” the world has been overtaken by monsters with enhanced hearing. Thus, everyone knows sign language, and

Want to catch up on the latest blockbuster you might have missed?

I gotta stay current.

I’ll just stick to a time-tested classic.

“Psycho” (1960, R)

“Friday the 13th” (1980, R) “Friday the 13th,” a pioneer of the slasher genre, created the classic horror trope of a killer in the woods that lives on today. The film takes place at Camp Crystal Lake, where in 1958, a boy drowns because the camp counselors are not paying attention. Twenty-two years later, he comes back from the dead and takes revenge on the new camp

best scenes involves Tiny Tim’s famous song “Tiptoe Through the Tulips.” All the music cues are on point, and the title card has unexpectedly good heavy metal music. “Insidious” is the perfect crowd pleaser to watch late at night on Halloween.

there is almost no talking, making the jump scares all the more surprising. Most of all, “A Quiet Place” is about family and how a father will do anything to protect his family. This is a great movie to watch with your family because it has something for everyone.

One of Alfred Hitchcock’s masterpieces, “Psycho” tells the story of secretary Marion Crane’s deadly overnight stay at a motel. Not only is the acting incredible, but also Bernard Herrmann’s fantastic score picks up and slows down at just the right times, enhancing the film’s atmosphere. The movie has a surprising twist, rendering its killer much scarier and than you imagined. “Psycho” revolutionized horror movies for many reasons, such as POV shots from the antagonist’s perspective, and a fair bit of blood on screen. If not for “Psycho,” none of the other movies on this page would have been made.

Profile for Octagon Octagon

Octagon 2019-20 Issue 2  

Octagon 2019-20 Issue 2  

Profile for octagon25