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VOL.43 NO.1 • Sacramento Country Day School • • @scdsoctagon • September 17, 2019

School prohibits food delivery, upgrades gates to bolster safety BY ARIJIT TRIVEDI


ountry Day changed its safety protocol, updated its emergency response plan and modified the wooden gates lining the campus’ exterior this summer. To improve security, the gates were upgraded with a plexiglass screen and a metal welding. Second, visitors are now required to enter the campus through the lower and middle school office or the main office in the high school. Visitors are also required to check in and wear a badge during school hours. Finally, the administration banned food delivery services for all persons. “We modified the gates in order to funnel pedestrian and visitor traffic to the main entrances, so that we can have a better sense of who is on (the) campus at any moment,” head of school Lee Thomsen said. Thomsen said the school has been considering changing the gates and fence for a while. “In the master plan of the (new) middle school math and science building, there are drawings showing the fence going all the way around (the cam-

pus),” Thomsen said. “When I (came) here four years ago, one of the first conversations I had was about continuing the fence.” According to chief financial officer/ business manager Bill Petchauer, the gate modifications cost about $1,000. That, according to Thomsen, was the cheapest option the school considered. “We were considering doing a major overhaul (by) finishing the wall (around campus) and creating a clearer entrance to the school,” Thomsen said. “(But) it would’ve involved cutting down trees and moving the main office door. It looked like it would’ve cost $400,000 to $500,000. And when we looked at the drawings and plans, we didn’t see anything we really liked.” Jay Holman, director of the physical plant, said the gate installations took about three days to complete. Thomsen added that a major fence extension would diminish the valued open-community aesthetic. “We’re trying to balance that feeling of community with a reasonable degree of safety,” he said. “We could’ve built a 10-foot wall with barbed wire, (but

SAFETY page 3

GATES CLOSED Gates in the lower and middle school were upgraded with plexiglass and welding. PHOTO BY EMMA BOERSMA

Country Day enrollment surpasses 500 students for the first time in 11 years “For the last two years, all of the pre-K seats have been filled,” Vail said. “And all Sixty-five new families entered Country of those students in pre-K have enrolled in Day this year, making the total number of kindergarten for the past two years.” Head of high school Brooke Wells said students 507 – the first enrollment over the school’s growth is based on the number 500 since 2008. There are 237 students in lower school, of available seats in certain grades. “Our main goal is for more people to 134 in middle school and 136 in high engage and inquire with us so the total school. Director of admissions Hadley Keefe said amount of seats are filled,” Wells said. Thomsen attributed the enrollment inCountry Day was prepared for the growth and teachers were comfortable with the crease to changes by the admissions office, bigger classes. Keefe said the school is al- improved marketing and a better economy. Head of middle school Rommel Loria ready staffed for a capacity of 544 students – 250 in lower school, 150 in middle school said changes in admissions events brought (50 per grade) and 144 in high school (36 more attention to the school. “We moved the Open House to a Satper grade). According to head of school Lee Thom- urday, which got a lot of attendance from sen, the growth strategy was to focus on prospective families,” Loria said. Vail said the popularity of the pre-K class entry points (common grades to enroll at came from Toddler Country Day): pre-K, kindergarten, sixth Story Hours, which grade and ninth grade. the admissions office Thomsen said the “Our main goal is for started last year. Proschool’s capacity is more people to enspective pre-K stucapped at 544 students dents and their famiby an agreement with gage and inquire with us so the total amount lies can come to Country the City of SacramenDay and listen to stories to. If more students of seats are filled.” apply, a waiting list — Brooke Wells every Friday in the fall and the spring. will be created. Director of marketThe school currenting and communications Emily Allshouse ly has waiting lists for pre-K and fourth grade. The amount of agreed with Thomsen that better marketstaff limits the pre-K class to 24 students ing contributed to the increase. “We publish ads in Inside Publications, and the fourth grade class to 44. If a spot opens, a student from the waiting pool will Sactown Magazine and Sacramento Magazine,” Allshouse said. “However, print pubcome to Country Day. According to head of lower school Chris- lications are more old school. Most people ty Vail, the most growth has occurred in get their information online now, so we exthe lower school because it is the main en- panded our social media presence.” try point into the school and has the most Two years ago, Country Day was not grade levels. active on social media, but currently, the



NEWS 2 Senior Bill Tsui was prevented from leaving Hong Kong for 10 days due to widespread protests over a new extradition amendment.

school has Facebook, Instagram, Nextdoor, LinkedIn and Twitter accounts. In comparison to the 2017-18 school year, information about school events is now shown in ads on Facebook and Instagram, attracting more followers. Before 2018-19, Country Day’s Instagram account had fewer than 40 followers, Allshouse said. Now, it has more than 600. This year, Allshouse said she hopes to increase her focus on student experiences to personalize the account. She said she thinks the click-through rates (how often someone clicks on an ad) will exceed those of last year. The Facebook ads are targeted toward

specific demographics. Some ads are directed at Bay Area families because recently, many students have come from there due to the high cost of living, according to Allshouse. Allshouse also introduced KCRA to the school’s Garage Band and “Good Morning Sacramento” to the garden, which brought more attention to Country Day. Thomsen said his biggest concern is a possible recession. “After our peak 10 years ago, the economy went down, which decreased the number of students because paying for education was not at the top of parents’ priorities,” Thomsen said.

FRESH FAMILIES Athletic director Matt Vargo speaks to parents at the new families dinner. Sixty-five families entered this school year. PHOTO BY ELISE SOMMERHAUG

CENTERPOINT 4-5 Self-proclaimed Democrats, Republicans and independents discuss the presidential campaigns and current political issues.

SPORTS 7 Senior Jewel Turner leaves her Olympic gymnastic dreams behind, then pursues volleyball with collegiate aspirations.

ENDPOINT 8 Students reflect on work experience gained from summer internships and volunteer opportunities abroad.


News • September 17, 2019

The Octagon

Senior delayed in Hong Kong due to widespread protests



rotests against the Chinese government in Hong Kong have lasted almost six months. Although the protests began on March 31 after the introduction of an amendment to the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance (FOO) that would alter extradition laws, the movement has evolved into a call for increased democratic rights. Currently, the protests lack a central authority. Senior Bill Tsui witnessed the protests in his hometown of Hong Kong over the summer. His return to the United States on Aug. 12 was delayed 10 days due to the cancellation of his flight when protesters occupied Hong Kong’s airport. “Flights couldn’t go in or out because the airport was blocked,” Tsui commented. “Even if you tried to sneak in, (the protesters) would just pull you out, which is kind of outrageous.”

The protests often affected Tsui. “(It was) difficult for me to go to the places I wanted to go,” said Tsui. “The protesters will block roads, which makes it hard for cars to get around. Sometimes, (the protesters and police) fight in the subway station. What some of (the protesters) do to disrupt the train is sit in front of the train door when it tries to close so the train can’t move.” Protesters have a variety of objectives: the withdrawal of the extradition amendment, the release of all arrested protesters, an independent investigation into the police and its use of force during the protests, the implementation of universal suffrage for the legislative council and chief executive elections, the resignation of Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam and the retraction of the “riot” description of the June 12 protests. The first major victory for the protesters came on Sept. 4, when

Lam announced that she would withdraw the extradition bill. Tsui expects the protests to end soon — at least in Hong Kong. As Hong Kong is a city of China, Tsui said he doubts that China will allow the protesters to continue expressing dissidence. Tsui said he believes that the increasing city and economic damage will force the protesters to stop. “I don’t think they will actually end, though,” he said. “Even if China comes in, I think (the protesters) will protest outside of Hong Kong and China. They’ve been talking about going to Germany, the United States (and other places) to protest.” Tsui also reflected on the Chinese coverage of the protests, commenting that it’s often biased against the protesters. “When there are clashes with the police, (the media) never talk about the police being violent. (Instead), they talk about the protesters doing ridiculous things,

even if it’s the police who provoke would return Hong Kong to Chithem to do it. nese control under the premise of “I just want people to know “one country, two systems.” This that what you hear isn’t necessar- meant that, although Hong Kong ily true, so you should dig deeper would be a part of China, it would if you really want to know about have autonomy — except with this protest.” regard to foreign and defense afThe protests were caused by fairs — for 50 years. the introduction of the Fugitive As a result, Hong Kong has deOffenders and Mutual Legal As- veloped its own legal system, with sistance in Criminal Matters Lega constituislation Bill, an tion known amendment to as the Bathe FOO, on “Even if you tried to sic Law March 29. of Hong sneak in, (the protesters) While the Kong, and would just pull you out,” bill would rights, such — Bill Tsui affect mulas protection tiple parts of free speech of the FOO, and freedom of assembly. one of the most important changHowever, critics say the ines would be introducing a proce- creased freedom and rights of dure for case-by-case transfers of Hong Kong are being reduced by criminals to any jurisdiction with the Chinese government. which Hong Kong lacks an extra“Over the years, China has been dition treaty. putting more restrictions on the As this change would allow Hong Kong population,” Tsui said. Hong Kong criminals to be extra- “(People in Hong Kong) don’t dited to mainland China, critics think China respects their rights. argue that it would undermine This protest (was) inevitable, bethe relative autonomy of Hong cause the Hong Kong people feel Kong. like they haven’t been treated The autonomy that Hong Kong fairly — like second-class people.” has enjoyed is the result of a deal Tsui cited the election process between the United Kingdom and for the chief executive, the head China that put Hong Kong back of the Hong Kong government, as under Chinese control in 1997. one of the contributing factors to Originally, Hong Kong was a the protests. British colony; part of it, Hong The chief executive is selectKong Island, was ceded to the ed by a 1,200-member commitUnited Kingdom after a war in tee based upon various interest 1842. Later, the rest of Hong groups in Hong Kong. However, Kong — the New Territories — was Article 45 of the Basic Law of leased to the British for 99 years. Hong Kong requires the “selection With the 99-year deadline ap- of the Chief Executive by univerproaching, discussions took place sal suffrage upon nomination by a in the early 1980s concerning the broadly representative nominatfuture of Hong Kong. ing committee in accordance with A deal was reached in 1984 that democratic procedures.” AIRPORT INTERFERENCE Attempting to reach the departure gates at Hong Kong’s international airport during a protest, a woman hands her baggage to security guards. PHOTO RETRIEVED FROM THE LOS ANGELES TIMES

SAT drops adversity score, adopts broad array of data BY SARINA RYE After unveiling a tool to contextualize SAT scores based on students’ socio-economic backgrounds in May, the College Board announced on Aug. 27 that this plan would be abandoned. The College Board will now report a broad array of data points based on factors from students’ neighborhoods and schools as part of a tool called Landscape. This feature will use much of the same information as the previous tool did — for example, the neighborhood percentage of adults with less than a high school diploma, the percentage of adults with agriculture jobs and the unemployment and crime rates — but will not calculate a single number, the former “adversity score.” The original tool, called the Environmental Context Dashboard by the College Board, was dropped in response to criticism from students, parents and educators. Chris Kuipers, associate director of college counseling, said he wasn’t surprised the College Board changed its original plan. “It is valid to say there’s far too much nuance in order to be able to take all of these different factors and zero it in into this one score,” he said. “They kind of listened to that and stepped back,

but at the same time, a lot of it is just rebranding and waiting for the uproar to die down.” Director of college counseling Jane Bauman commented on some similarities between the old and updated tool, starting with how she discovered the change. “I found out, believe it or not, from a science teacher,” she said. “(Just) like when it was first announced, the College Board never sent out a notification directly to college counselors at the high school level. After reading the New York Times article about it, it seems the College Board has simply renamed the score and is making an attempt to make it slightly more transparent.” When the adversity score was unveiled, the College Board planned to show it only to admissions officers, which junior Avinash Krishna said concerned him. “It’s good that they’re showing (the data) to students and parents now, but it brings up another issue,” he said. “This will encourage (students) to play into these stereotypes — that they’re victims of society and the government.” However, senior Jewel Turner said it is necessary to contextualize the SAT. “It is good to acknowledge that people have different access to opportunities and resources,” she said. “But it still shouldn’t directly play into or determine admis-

sions.” Kuipers agreed, saying “it’s a good step to at least present the information.” However, Krishna questioned the intent of the College Board in creating the adversity score and now Landscape. “The SAT is a product of the College Board,” he said. “People question its nonprofit status. It struggles to stay relevant in this modern society after being challenged by big universities like the University of Chicago where you can opt out of reporting your scores.”

Bauman said the College Board is looking for market share in the standardized testing area. Currently, the ACT does not use a similar tool. “What’s the ACT doing?” she questioned. “It’s like McDonald’s and Burger King or Coke and Pepsi. They’re in competition with each other.” Krishna said Landscape is a promotion, and that the data will only muddy the waters of college admissions. “Some data is really noisy, and you don’t really know what it’s saying,” he said. “But signals, like

individual hobbies, are what are actually important. (Landscape is emphasizing) the wrong data.” Kuipers said admissions are already muddy. “At the heart of the holistic process is weighing all these different factors,” he said. “Life and kids are multifaceted. So I’m not worried about too much data. It’s already pretty complicated, and schools are still going to make their own decisions.” Bauman said Landscape does not reveal everything. “It’s just a tool, and wise people will use it only as such,” she said.

The Octagon

September 17, 2019 • News

Current faculty replace two retirees; applied science course launched



ith the retirement of teachers Sue Nellis and Jane Batarseh, Country Day needed new Latin, Comparative World History and AP U.S. History teachers. The addition of a new science class further shifted teachers’ schedules. History teacher Chris Kuipers took over ninth grade history and AP U.S. History (APUSH), Nellis’ old classes. He teaches two sections of ninth grade history, one section of APUSH and one section of AP European History. Since Kuipers had already taught AP European History for three years, he said teaching AP U.S. History isn’t very different. “The AP curriculum is pretty set,” Kuipers said. “The College Board dictates what you need to cover, so it (is) just taking that information and fitting it into the school year. (Nellis) shared a lot of her resources, such as her calendars, with me. I’m also using the same textbook she used, just a newer edition.” The ninth grade course, however, went through many changes.

“Putting the course together was like making a quilt, taking lots of pieces from different things and making it into something that’s my own style,” Kuipers said. “One major change was bringing the National History Day (NHD) program into ninth grade.” According to Kuipers, this required less preparation because he had been doing the program with the eighth grade. “We’re hoping that (middle and high school history teacher Bill Crabb) can also implement it into the seventh grade so that we can lay the groundwork for researching skills.” If the program is implemented in seventh grade, students will learn to research through NHD until sophomore year, when they will use their skills for the sophomore project, according to Kuipers. “In fact, we want to make the papers for the sophomore project eligible for National History Day as well,” Kuipers said. Kuipers also is trying to coordinate his ninth grade curriculum with Crabb’s 10th grade class. “Mr. Crabb and I have been talking a lot about bringing the ninth and 10th grade curriculums

a little more in line,” Kuipers said. “Historically, they’ve both been great classes, but they’ve sort of operated in their own spheres. So our vision is to bring that closer together.” One change was merging the two courses’ textbooks. Now, both classes use the same book (“World Civilizations: The Global Experience”). The book is an AP textbook, so the teachers will use it only as a reference, Kuipers said. They also changed both courses’ names. Last year, ninth grade history was called Comparative World History, and 10th grade history was World Cultures. This year, both are called World History. Ninth grade and 10th grade history will go in chronological order, according to Kuipers. “I will start the ninth grade from the beginning until the 1700s, and (Crabb) will take it from there into modern history,” Kuipers said. “As of now, there isn’t much more I want to change, but one thing I would like to think about is whether or not AP Euro should (continue to) be a senior course offering since, at most other schools, it’s more of a sophomore


KING KUIPERS After moving entirely to the high school, history teacher Chris Kuipers poses in retiree Sue Nellis’ former classroom, now decorated to fit Kuipers’ needs. PHOTO BY EMMA BOERSMA class,” Kuipers said. Similar to Kuipers, middle school Latin teacher Brian Billings took over Batarseh’s high school Latin classes. Billings teaches a combined Latin I and II class in middle school as well as combined Latin II, III, and IV classes in high school. “I’m changing a lot of things from the way (Batarseh) did it,” Billings said. “I’m using a completely different textbook than the one she used.” Unlike Kuipers and Billings, chemistry teacher Victoria Conner is teaching a completely new class this year: Advanced Topics in Applied Science Honors. To do so, she had to transfer Algebra II to math teacher Patricia Jacobsen.

Conner explained that the class focuses on the engineering part of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). The course integrates multiple sciences (such as biology, chemistry and physics) and applies concepts to real-world problems. “The goal is to have a class where students actually get a taste for engineering,” Conner said. “I’d like to increase students’ problem-solving skills and collaborative skills and get them to think about science as something that’s not just in a lab, but something that actually has a place in the real world.” Jacobsen will also take over AP Calculus BC from Glenn Mangold next year.

Safety: Delivery restrictions, new additions to lower school after consultation (continued from page 1) that’s) not in the spirit of who we are.” The security changes accompany the school’s existing camera system and on-campus California Highway Patrol (CHP) officers. The emergency plan now entails a new protocol for when the fire alarm goes off. Students and faculty will wait for a second alarm to ring before moving to the field, according to head of high school Brooke Wells. “(Students) will wait for a sec-

ond alarm, to be sure there is a fire and we know where the fire is,” Wells said. “This ensures that it’s safe to go to the back, instead of hearing the alarm and going straight to the field where the fire could be or another situation.” The administration has been working on the new fire plan since last summer, Wells said. The plan was tested on Tuesday. The move to ban food services and update the emergency response plan was recommended by the CHP, according to Wells. “We’ve been fortunate to be

working with the CHP,” Wells said. “(The) changes came out of meetings with them and their recommendations from years of professional security.” Petchauer cited the “current environment” in America as a reason for the security change. “As a result of last year’s external consultant review of the campus, along with other factors such as (school shootings) across the nation, the school determined these additional measures were appropriate,” Petchauer said. Wells said the changes will keep the school safer. “We have (good) communication amongst the team and (CHP officers) on campus,” Wells said. “All of that makes this campus very safe.” Wells said the CHP ensured Country Day was not in danger when Jesuit and Rio Americano high schools were placed on lockdown on Aug. 27 after a suspect made threats on social media, ac-

cording to The Sacramento Bee. Country Day parent Elizabeth Monasa agreed that the changes have increased campus safety. “I like seeing all the improvements they’re making, though I’d like to see more (upgrades) on the high school side (of campus),” she said. “I would be open to gates in the high school, kind of like what we have in the lower school. I’d like to see cameras added everywhere on campus.” Freshman Tonye Jack agreed with the decision to ban food delivery services. “You don’t know who is coming (onto the campus),” Jack said. But sophomore Tina Huang dislikes the change. “I don’t order lunch on Wednesdays, and the fact that they don’t allow DoorDash makes it (hard) for my mom to get me food,” Huang said. “I understand (why the school) did it, but there are a lot of kids who don’t order lunch and don’t

always have time to make lunch.” Junior Avinash Krishna agreed. “The school assumes that (food delivery people are) out to do the worst,” Krishna said, “which is to question the legitimacy of high-quality background checks. Postmates uses Checkr, which is also used by Uber and Lyft, as well as other food delivery companies. Oher non-student visitors are just as likely as Postmates (drivers) to cause harm on campus. “Also, this effectively forces students to buy school lunches. (Food delivery services) give students (options). I think allowing (options) is more important.” According to its website, Postmates conducts background checks on delivery drivers and rejects those with a history of criminal or motor vehicle offenses. However, this does not matter to senior Charles Thomas. “I just don’t think there should be a random guy walking around a K-12 school,” Thomas said.



POLITICAL S PARLEY elf-proclaimed Democrats senior Héloïse Schep and sophomore Lilah Shorey, Republican senior Aaron Graves and Independents senior David Situ and junior Avi Krishna met for a roundtable on Aug. 30 to discuss the presidential primaries and current political issues.

The Oc



S B s u


What do you think about the current selection of Democrats and Republicans for the primaries? Schep: I feel like there are so many Democrats that it might actually be more of a hindrance than something that helps. I’m torn (because) maybe one candidate has my ideal health care policy, but another has a better stance toward immigration and another toward abortion. And if other people also feel that way, it might cause a lot of (them) to be torn and maybe not vote if their candidate doesn’t make it past a certain round.

Schep: I definitely agree with Aaron on not getting to know some of the candidates. For people that aren’t (Sen. Kamala) Harris, (Sen. Elizabeth) Warren, (Sen. Bernie) Sanders, (former Vice President Joe) Biden and the big names, I don’t know all their policies. When I’m watching the debates, they’re not all getting the same run time, and I don’t learn their stances on every issue. It really feels like you’re being deprived of knowing your candidate because there are just so many voices that are always competing for attention. Situ: And so many Democratic candidates are really similar, but then they have one little different thing.

Shorey: I think it’s a good thing that there are so many Democratic Krishna: The issue candidates because I’m with this whole thing pretty sure that more “Trump will most likeis people are saying, people (will) find some- ly win if people can’t “Oh, it’s too many one that has viewpoints come together. It’s candidates.” But the that they agree with. DNC (Democratic National going to happen, and I like a lot of the peoCommittee) deliberately then people are going ple that are running does like 20 candidates at in the Democratic to be pissed off again.” the beginning because it Party right now. I’d — Lilah Shorey knows it’s going to winnow be fine with any of the field. them. They just need The whole idea is that to make it, then I'm the DNC knows that (candidates) cannot good with them. I can’t vote, obviously, but meet polling requirements. As time promy mom is kind of on the same page as me. gresses and the field winnows, it’s going to She’s like, “I will vote for whoever makes it, be more and more obvious for voters whom just as long as we don’t have (President Don- (to vote for). ald) Trump in office again.” There’s a lot of people; they have a lot of Those of you who identify more with Reinteresting views. It will be interesting to see publicans, do you feel underrepresented who will make it. with far fewer candidates than the DemGraves: I’m a Conservative, but I don’t want to be oblivious to the Democratic Party. There are 20 Democratic candidates. My only issue with that is people don’t have enough time to say what they’re really thinking. You can’t really establish someone’s plan for their presidency if they were to be elected because they don’t have enough time to speak. And it’s almost like you’re meeting someone new every night. If the field slimmed down, people would have a better understanding of which candidates were for what and against what.


Situ: Definitely. I am 100% not a big fan of the current Republican nominee. I would be very pleased if somebody else challenged him and won it, but looking at history, it’s almost impossible. I really do feel it’s an issue, but it’s more of a president-running-for-re-election issue than a party issue. Krishna: People like Joe Walsh and (former Gov.) Bill Weld, they’re not running because they’re going to win. They’re either go-



Graves: What I see a lot with televised debates now is funny — it’s really a reality show. The people that can present themselves the best (do the best). That’s why Trump did so well: He’s been on TV for so long. He knows how television runs (and) what people are interested in seeing. A lot of people, especially the Democrats, are using this as a medium to get their name out there. Maybe they’re running for mayor or a Senate seat, and they would have been unknown to the populace. Now they have a voice, and they get their name out there. Even though they know they’re not going to win, they can still use TV for promotion. Let’s get into a few hot-button issues. Which candidate’s policy or sentiment toward health care do you most align with? Situ: I’m not a big fan of the Medicare for All program. I just don’t think it’s feasible currently, and trying to say that you will make it happen is a bit of a disservice. I like Biden’s approach — expanding the Affordable Care Act — a little better because that seems a lot more reasonable. It seems like it could get more support behind it and end up (happening). A lot of these proposed plans would just peter out. They wouldn’t get enough support. I’d rather favor something a little bit more moderate that could actually pass and maybe help versus something that would supposedly help everybody but never pass. Schep: I agree. When I look at Medicare for All, I'm like, “Yeah, I totally approve of this. I think this is a great idea.” Coming from a country (the Netherlands) that has more government health care, I do support it. But on the other hand, you have to look at the makeup of Congress and what will actually pass.

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Situ: It’s definitely more of a statement than a real goal of actually getting the nomination.


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ing to go on in advocacy or to raise issues with the presidency, as opposed to actually presenting a legitimate primary challenge because Trump has like 84% Republican approval.


Which candidate’s policy or sentiment toward gun control do you most align with?

Krishna: Right now, I think Biden’s the only one with a comprehensive gun safety plan, a buyback program, which was something that (Rep. Eric) Swalwell supported before he dropped out. I think that’s a good idea. Trump’s like, “OK, fine, we’ll do red flag laws. We’ll open mental institutions.” And then he backs out after pressure from the NRA (National Rifle Association). So right now there’s no progress. Banning assault weapons is a pretty good idea because they aren’t really necessary. There’s the argument that we need guns to protect ourselves from the government, but I don’t buy that. Simple handguns are fine, but assault weapons are (not).

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Graves: I disagree with you, mainly because if you look at the statistics, (most) gun-related incidents are from handguns. Very few are from assault rifles. The thing about banning assault rifles is this little thing called the black market, where you can buy anything from AK-47s to M4 (carbines), anything you need or want.

There’s no real way to monitor that, so banning assault rifles won’t do any good. If they don’t care about breaking the law because they’re going to do something catastrophic, they’re not going to mind going on the darknet and risking a few years in jail. Situ: A lot of the proposed plans don’t actually focus on any of the issues and seem to demonstrate a lack of knowledge. A lot of things people are banning are just cosmetic features or features that don't actually affect any usage of how the gun works. In addition, most assault weapons or fully automatic weapons are banned in the United States, or at least in most states. There are only specific weapons that you can own that are like that, and it’s a very intense process to actually obtain those weapons. It’s not a cheap process, either. You can’t just go to the store and buy an automatic weapon.

Schep: For me, with the number of shootings that have happened, it’s a problem. It’s larger than (in) any other nation — it’s intense. It’s really a part of normal life in a way that it shouldn't be. But how you tackle that is something else because, like Aaron said, it’s the handguns that are a large majority of the weapons that are used, and how do you ban those? Without going into the actual Constitution and changing amendments, it’s pretty difficult Banning not handguns but assault rifles might be more of a symbolic meaning to people because of the fact that there's nothing stopping people from getting them. Even if assault weapons are not doing the statistical majority of shootings in the United States, it might be more symbolic. Even if the process is long, should anyone really “I’d rather fa own that type of weapon? Climate change is another hot-button issue. What do you think of its current treatment in politics?

thing a little moderate th actually pas maybe help something th supposedly body but ne

Graves: There are those that believe it doesn’t exist and those that think we’re going to be fried in a few years. So there’s a wide range of perspectives. The main problem is people are focusing on the wrong things. People are focusing on plastic straws and these kinds of small details, when most of the carbon emissions come from large corporations from China, the United States and India. I understand why they’re going toward smaller details because it’s hard to take down or limit carbon emissions from an Indian company if I’m here in Sacramento. We’re doing what we’re able to do, but we’re focusing on the wrong things if we want to decrease it on a larger scale. Situ: I feel like a lot of politicians use climate change as a bargaining chip. They don’t really mean anything. They just try to oneup each other, like, “You want to put (in) $1 million? I’ll put (in) $2 million and research.” They’re just saying, “I’ll do this, this, this and this,” just to try and get more votes, and they don’t really care or consider how their plan would work or whether it will be effective. Definitely, there should be some more support of that issue. Exactly how much (support) is up for debate, depending on the candidate. But a big thing we should focus on is research. At a certain point, you can’t limit (carbon emissions) anymore, and you can’t

Sept. 17, 2019


Héloïse Schep

David Situ

Supports: Former Vice President Joe Biden Biggest issue: Taxation. If a candidate wants real change to happen with the other big-ticket issues, money, and lots of it, will be required.

Supports: Sen. Bernie Sanders Biggest issue: Healthcare. As a Dutch citizen, I’ve seen how mandatory health care covering all procedures improves the quality of life.

Lilah Shorey

Supports: Sen. Elizabeth Warren Biggest issue: Climate change. If we don’t do something fast, we could be (living) on an unhabitable planet.

really get people to stop. We do need to put a big focus on research into reducing the pollution that we have now and trying to reverse some of what’s already happening. Schep: I think that research should be a bigger deal. It’s a very pressing issue. I wish it would come up a little bit more in the debates, not as a bargaining chip, but as an actual issue because it’s the one thing that is going to affect us all, no matter what party you are (in). As far as concrete plans go, the versions of the Green New Deal are probably the most comprehensive. Bernie Sanders seems to have a pretty comprehensive view of the steps that he would take. Krishna: Bernie — regardless of whether he wins the nomination, which I don’t think he will because Warren’s a superior candidate in many ways — serves to shift the Democratic Party further left. Without Bernie Sanders, you wouldn’t have any talk of Medicare for All. You wouldn’t have tax increases as much of a cornerstone issue in the Democratic Party right now. All these ideas, regardless of which candidate wins, are constantly going to be derided by Republicans, especially Trump. He’s going to say, “Oh, it’s socialist.” And that’s something that’s not even a joke anymore. That’s legitimate criticism that Republicans make of Democratic policies. So ideas like the Green New Deal and free college not only can’t pass, they’re also really not feasible, especially in today’s climate.

Schep: The money is the big part. It’s the same for climate change and reducing student loan debt. You avor somecan easily get it from taxes, especially taxbit more ing people with more hat could than like $50 million ss and in assets. If people aren’t p versus going to agree with that, that’s another thing. In hat would America, it’s a lot harder help everyto increase taxes. People ever pass.” are a lot more resistant to that, so that might be — David Situ a bigger issue for all these plans. Situ: At the moment, our goal shouldn’t be increasing taxation. Our goal should be making sure people actually pay their taxes because tax evasion is a big thing. The really wealthy people are not paying the full taxes. They have very inventive ways to get around paying. Increasing taxes? It’s really not going to end up doing that much.

82% of students believe in

climatE change


Avi Krishna

Supports: Former Vice President Joe Biden Biggest issue: Healthcare. The public believes it is the most important (issue), meaning that’s what candidates are basing their campaigns around.

Graves: The other thing is, the people that do pay their taxes, if you raise taxes upward of 70% on the top 1%, what’s making them want to stay here? If you’re giving up so much of your income to taxation, there’s no real feasible way to stay here and maintain your current (standard) of living. Nobody’s going to want to do that. There will be some that feel that they’re helping better society by paying taxes. But those that really work hard, say doctors, and get paid great sums of money don’t want to work their butts off and pay 70% in taxation. They’ll find jobs overseas, elsewhere, wherever it may be. Schep: But when you look at Warren’s plan for canceling student loan debt, it’s only a 2% increase, and it’s on people that (possess) like $50 million in assets or more. How is that 2% really going to affect you, if you’re already rich beyond bounds? I can’t imagine how you would ever use $50 million in assets. You can still, with these plans, get extraordinarily rich, well beyond living comfortably. You don’t really need all that money. Situ: Not all of somebody’s wealth is liquid funds. A lot of this money is actually real estate, stocks or things that have some kind of passive effect on the economy. It’s not just that they’re hoarding money in a vault and they’re just sitting on it. Are there any other issues that you believe aren’t being addressed enough in the primaries or in current politics? Krishna: The whole electability argument. Biden is probably No. 1 in the polls, almost entirely on the fact that people think Biden’s electable. I like Biden; I would probably vote for him. But we need to shift away from this over-importance on electability and focus more on candidates’ actual arguments and policies. If you just focus on electability, you’re not actually voting for the candidate that you want. You’re just voting for somebody you think other people want. The big question: What’s your prediction for the presidential election? Schep: As much as I want in my heart for someone besides Trump to win, when I look at the wide range of Democratic candidates


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Aaron Graves

Supports: Unsure Biggest issue: Taxation. Raising taxes on the wealthy will push them to commit tax fraud and evasion and give them less disposable income to spend.

that we have, it’s impossible for one person to capture them all. Biden is doing really well, but last election, (former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham) Clinton was doing well and did win the popular vote. But there were people who were like, “Bernie or bust! If Bernie doesn’t make it, I’m not going to vote.” Or they would write him in or whatever. I am really afraid that that’s going to happen again — that there are people who are so pro-Warren, -Harris or -Sanders that if those candidates don’t win the Democratic primary, they just won’t vote at all.

Graves: President Trump’s going to win for two reasons. One, his strong voter foundation. It’s remained there and hasn’t fluctuated all that much. Secondly, the Democrats are banking on this youth bulge to vote for them. My only fear for them is that people won’t actually vote as they anticipate. People will go on social media and be like, “Yeah, I want change!” And then they don’t vote. There’s all this talk of how they want change, but nothing’s going to happen. If those two conditions are met, Trump will win for sure.

Shorey: I totally agree Situ: I’ve got to with you. I can total- “You can’t really establish agree. Trump is ly see that happen- someone’s plan for their pretty likely (to be ing again. I’m really president) right presidency if they were to be hoping that people now. I don’t see learn. If they just elected because they don’t many Democratic write someone’s name have enough time to speak. candidates picking up in like, “Bernie, be- And it’s almost like you’re enough votes. cause that’s what A lot of the Demomeeting someone new every cratic voters might be I wanted,” or peonight.” ple write in Oprah just like, “Warren or and stuff like that — Aaron Graves Bernie or bust.” If that — it’s just stupid. happens, there’s just You’re wasting no way. The only way your vote. is if every (Democrat votes for their) chosen If you really want someone other than candidate. And even then, you’ve got to get Trump to be in office, vote for them. It some new voters. Right now, with Trump’s doesn’t matter if you don’t like Biden as rather consistent voter base, I don’t see that much as Warren or Harris. happening. Trump will most likely win if people can’t come together. It’s going to happen, and Krishna: If Biden wins the nomination, he’s then people are going to be pissed off again. moderate enough to peel off Republican votAnd it’s going to be their fault for not going ers and essentially undermine Trump’s base. out and voting for the other Democrat just (Trump) also relies too much on evangelicals. because the person they really wanted to win Some evangelicals tend to be Democrats. didn’t make it. If Warren, Bernie or Harris wins the nomination, I don't see Democrats winning at all. Schep: I totally understand people that are But if it’s moderate Biden, he’ll undermine like, “I don’t just want Trump to go out of of- Trump's voter base and take the dub. fice. I want a person in office that I actually think will enact the change that I want.” It does create a kind of dangerous precedent for whoever’s the next president, if it’s not Trump, to get away with things, people just saying, “Oh, you know, they’re not Trump, it could be worse, whatever.”

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The Octagon

Opinion • September 17, 2019

“Choose Your Own Adventure” by Emma Boersma


By Emma Boersma

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

Senior sidewalk spots: Be there or be square!

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 Sanjana Anand Arjin Claire Ethan Monasa Dylan Margolis Miles Morrow Arijit Trivedi Arikta Trivedi REPORTERS Sicily Schroeder Nihal Gulati SOCIAL MEDIA EDITOR Sarina Rye PHOTO EDITORS Emma Boersma Shimin Zhang PHOTOGRAPHERS Miles Morrow Elise Sommerhaug Arikta Trivedi Hermione Xian Shimin Zhang GRAPHIC EDITOR Emma Boersma GRAPHIC ARTIST Elise Sommerhaug 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 guidelines 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.

My Angle

EDITORIAL: New safety protocol doesn’t eliminate concerns


s of this year, Country Day implemented three new safety features, including plexiglass on the lower and middle school gates as well as a revamped visitor policy. Also, a new fire drill protocol was put into practice. Though the administration’s intention was good, the security features don’t resolve some concerns, especially regarding large events on campus. The new fire drill, in which students and faculty wait for a second alarm to ring before moving to the field, is a great idea. It reduces the risk of a false alarm, which can be critical to students’ safety. Modifying the lower school and middle school gates is helpful, but the high school remains open to all visitors. We understand the purpose of the gates is to guide visitors to the high school and register at the front office, but if someone dangerous enters the campus, the safety of everyone in the high school could be jeopardized. The gates seem to create an illusion of safety. The school has many open entrances, not to mention some people can reach over the plexiglass panels installed on the gates and open them. Besides, if someone really wants to sneak on campus, there are plenty of fences they can climb over without being caught immediately. Adding security officers is a great step toward keeping track of all visitors on campus, and teaming them with the California Highway Patrol will help ensure campus safety. It’s great that the CHP

ensured that Country Day was not in danger on the day of the shooter threat on social media regarding Jesuit and Rio Americano high schools, as it worried students. Consulting the CHP to ban food delivery services will help reduce unidentified visitors. However, during big events, crowds enter the campus without registering at the front office. At these times, anyone can walk onto campus. In addition, during home games, parents of opposing players enter and exit freely. It may be difficult for guards to identify visitors already on campus. At an event last year, a stranger asked a student for directions to the bathroom. There weren’t any guards to identify him. This situation easily could have been a danger to our community. Due to the nature of our campus, enclosing the school is difficult. We agree with the administration that installing effective gates would be costly and would ruin the aesthetic of the high school. Besides, installing gates may not block people out. There will always be ways for people who are intent on getting in to do so. On the other hand, if the purpose of the gates is to funnel people through the high school in order to keep track of visitors, some inexpensive improvements can be added. Currently, the security guards’ duty is to enforce parking rules. It would be simple to have them stand by the high school entrances and check visitors’ ID badges. Students can carry their

ID cards if they need to be identified by guards. However, since Country Day is relatively small, guards should be able to keep track of visitors with moderate ease. Security guards near the entrances of the school could inform visitors to check in at the front office, greatly reducing the risk of a stranger entering unnoticed. A sign doesn’t enforce the check-in policy. In addition, guards could immediately spot any suspicious people and be prepared. It could be argued that, instead of having security guards at the entrances, having them on school grounds can ensure students’ safety better because they will be closer to students in the event of an emergency. However, if no one suspicious enters the campus, there won’t be emergencies. Considering that visitors are allowed on campus during large events and at games, guards are imperative to our security. In case of intrusion, they could block paths to prevent a trespasser from gaining access to the whole campus. Currently, Country Day’s security largely consists of a halffenced-in campus and a sign informing visitors to check in. Since the school doesn’t need to keep all visitors out, security guards are a cheaper, more efficient alternative than extending the gates. It would be much easier to implement and would give students a sense of security without making Country Day feel as if it were a prison. After all, homework, finals and the SAT are scary enough.

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

There are many things to look forward to as a senior — we’re the top dogs of the school, we get senior-only events and, of course, we no longer need rides from our parents. Now if only there was a way to celebrate ... maybe, say, with personal decorated parking spaces? I know, I know; I’m getting ahead of myself. Students don’t even have their own parking lot, so how could we possibly decorate our own parking spaces? Still, seeing other schools’ seniors laughing away, painting vibrant designs on their own parking spots at St. Francis or Rio Americano only adds insult to injury to the fact that we Country Day students don’t have a parking lot to begin with. Nevertheless, that doesn’t prevent me from daydreaming about one. Actually, now that I think about it, there is a way to implement this tradition. Maybe not on Latham Drive or in the parking lot, but how about painting the sidewalk next to the drop-off, along lower school down to high school? Imagine strolling to school every morning and seeing not the drab, varied grays of the cement, but perhaps the lively pinks and blues and yellows of my name. Seriously. Close your eyes and picture it. Wouldn’t that be awesome? Honestly, it would feel like journeying to Oz via the yellow brick road, singing, “We’re off to see the wizard, the wonderful wizard of Oz!” If I could see something like that every chilly morning, I just know all of my worries would disappear, the weight of my two backpacks and violin would vanish and the stress of my impending college applications would evaporate. In addition to bringing light and color into my mundane life, the school could earn a little change by selling those empty squares of sidewalk. The school could easily make over $100 if it sold plots of sidewalk to seniors (maybe more if everyone is as desperate as I am). That money could be put toward Student Council projects, or toward buying a new mirror for the bathrooms. The squares would also promote student expression, individualism and creativity. Each square would be a physical representation of each and every one of the school’s beloved seniors, who, shall I remind you, will soon be heading off to college and leaving our community forever. Moreover, they would further promote Country Day to prospective parents. If I were scouting Country Day for my child, for example, and I saw some beautiful pieces of sidewalk as soon as I stepped out of the car, I would be impressed. I mean, only a really cool school would have something like that. Besides, students showing their passion for the school can never be a bad thing. For these reasons, I propose my newly patented Senior Squares. Seniors could pay for a slice of sidewalk, paint a teacher-approved design and assert their dominance as the oldest children in the school. I see absolutely no downsides. Earning money? Memorializing the graduating class? Showing off that Country Day school spirit? Check, check and check. So seniors, who’s with me? Let’s rise up and make this happen! Let’s band together and kick-start the glorious Senior Squares tradition!

The Octagon

Sports • September 17, 2019


Former Olympic-hopeful gymnast transforms into volleyball star over and over again and then finally nailing a trick in gymnastics. “It’s sort of like the feeling you get thletic talent mixed with after a great kill or dig in volleyball.” endless energy and seaTurner idolizes gymnast Simone soned with a rigorous structure and work ethic creates Biles, who has won four Olympic gold the ultimate concoction: senior Jewel medals, and Stanford volleyball star Kathryn Plummer, this year’s SulliTurner. Turner first applied this recipe to van Award winner as the nation’s top gymnastics. Starting in third grade, amateur athlete. “(Biles) is superhuman,” Turnshe spent 20 hours a week in the gym. In 2015, Turner became the Level 7 er said. “She’s a world champion and one of the most decorated AfriRegional champion on beam. The cycle of school, gymnastics and can-American women in the sport. “(Plummer) has won every award sleep became the norm for the next in collegiate volleyball and played for six years. However, looking ahead to the USA national team.” high school, Turner recognized that After playing for the Country Day the time commitment for gymnastics had become excessive due to in- junior varsity her freshman year, creased academic responsibilities and Turner made the Northern California Volleyball Club (NCVC) 14-year-old ultimately decided to quit. “I had the Olympic dream, but you twos (B) team and met coach and can’t do gymnastics and go to an ac- trainer Kalani Panaganan. Turner ademically rigorous school,” Turner credited Panaganan with teaching said. “People that do elite gymnastics her the fundamentals of volleyball, in eat, breathe and sleep it. (It’s) all they addition to position-specific training do. They don’t go to school and can’t and conditioning. Continuing to train with Panagahave a social life.” Seeking a filler for the gymnas- nan, Turner improved and propelled tics-sized hole in her life, Turner de- herself to Country Day’s varsity as a cided to try volleyball as a freshman sophomore. “I had the drive and determination on a “whim.” to get better,” Turner said. Gymnastics created an athletic Turner, pushing herself further, foundation and work ethic applicable made the Sacto volleyball, according to Turner. ramento Perfor“Gymnastics was mance Volleymy first love, but “She is constantly ball Club (SPVC) volleyball comes 16-year-old ones very close,” said trying to improve (A) team, skipTurner, the Coun- herself and the ping an age group, try Day team team, which I find her sophomore year. captain, who reawesome.” Turner continued ceived honorable to train over the — Jason Kreps mention all-Sacsummer with Panaramento Metroganan, sharpening politan Athlether skills further. ic League (SMAL) recognition last Country Day went 15-6 overall season. “Nothing compares to the adrenaline rush you get after falling and 11-3 in the SMAL last season,



BRINGING HOME THE BRONZE! After placing third in the national division at the USA Volleyball Junior National Championships with her RAGE Sacramento team in Indianapolis, senior Jewel Turner (left) poses with teammate Anna Bertolone. PHOTO COURTESY OF TURNER falling short in the first round of the California Interscholastic Federation Sac-Joaquin D-VI playoffs to Stone Ridge Christian 3-0. The 5-foot-8 Turner, the 2018 team MVP, ranked second on the Cavs in kill percentage (36) and third in kills (58). Varsity coach Jason Kreps praised Turner for her approach to the game. “Jewel has been our glue,” Kreps said. “She is a vocal leader, yet she is still humble and has been playing

Soccer season kicks off

CAVALIERS CONQUER Clockwise from top left: Freshman Chance Swinmurn dribbles forward as junior Hayden Boersma watches in the background; freshman RJ Vargo dribbles around an opponent as sophomore Nihal Gulati watches; Boersma blocks an opponent as he prepares for a header and Vargo warms up with teammates. PHOTOS BY EMMA BOERSMA

a brand new position (outside hitter) that is very strong for her. “She is constantly trying to improve herself and the team, which I find awesome.” Turner took yet another step by joining RAGE Sacramento’s 17-yearold ones team as a right-side hitter. In July, Turner’s team placed third in the USA Volleyball Junior National Championships in Indianapolis in the national division. Although she began playing vol-

leyball for fun, Turner said competing in college eventually became a goal. “As I joined more competitive teams, college aspirations became more realistic,” Turner said. Now, with increased exposure due to recent success, Turner is weighing her options for collegiate volleyball. She expressed interest in any Pacific-12 Conference or University of California school, along with Duke University and Babson College in Wellesley, Massachusetts.


Endpoint • September 17, 2019

The Octagon

Cavs around the world Students discuss summer internships, volunteer work abroad Q&As by Larkin Barnard-Bahn, Anna Frankel, Nihal Gulati, Dylan Margolis, Sarina Rye and Héloïse Schep

FRANCE Junior Erin Wilson lived in Toulouse for four weeks with a host family as part of a cultural immersion program through the Council on International Educational Exchange Global Navigator. Q: What classes did you take? A: There were grammar and writing sections, but most of the time it was culturally focused. We went on lots of field trips. Q: What was your favorite part? A: When we went to Carcassonne. It’s a small town famous for its medieval citadel and castle. I enjoyed it so much because the day we went, there was a huge festival called the “Fête du Vin Rosé et des Fromages de l’Aude (Festival of Rosé and Cheeses of the Aude province).” There were marching bands, acrobats and performers, and the whole citadel was decorated with flags and balloons.

Senior Téa Huynh Van, a French citizen, completed two medical internships in Paris. She shadowed surgeons at a hospital for a week, then interned for three weeks at a dental surgery clinic on the outskirts of Paris. Q: How did your time at the hospital and the surgery clinic affect your interest in dentistry? A: It further amplified that I want to go to some kind of medical school, but that I prefer dentistry a whole lot more. There’s something in dentistry that you can’t find anywhere else. The stakes are different: You’re not playing with someone’s life, (and) you don’t see people when they’re completely sick. You’re helping people’s health and appearance, which I think is super fascinating. Also, it’s nice that when most people come to the dentist, they can be scared, but they’re never sad.

Q: What stood out to you about Panamanian culture? A: People there are so much more free. No matter where you are, there’s always loud music blasting from the radio. In America, people close their doors, but there, everyone leaves them open during the day. Even if I’ve never met someone before, I can go to their house and say, “Hello, ‘buenas,’” and they always tell me to come in and chat.

JAPAN Senior Emma Boersma participated in an exchange program in Tokyo for six weeks through Youth for Understanding (YFU). Q: Was speaking Japanese difficult? A: My host mom actually studied in Canada for a year, so she was basically fluent in English, but I didn’t want her to speak English at all. I spoke my limited Japanese, but if there was something I absolutely needed to express and couldn’t do it in Japanese, then I could speak

in English. I would say 95% of the time I was speaking in Japanese, and it was hard. I wouldn’t say I got better at it; I just got quicker. My Japanese is level one. I (have only been learning it) for about a year, and it was all self-study. I’m going to sign up for the local Japanese school in Sacramento and take formal classes. Hopefully my friend from YFU decides to do that with me. I’m also definitely planning on taking more Japanese in college.


PANAMA Senior Yumi Moon volunteered for six weeks in the province of Herrera through Amigos de las Americas, a nonprofit organization based in Houston.

Go to to read full Q&As about student experiences in France, Japan, Panama, China and Italy.

Senior Anna Frankel also volunteered in Herrera through Amigos de las Americas. Q: Did you see Yumi? A: We were together for the midterm. Q: What was the midterm? A: The midterm was in a community called Chepo up in the mountains pretty near my community. It was really beautiful. It was called the “Fiesta Ambiental,” or the environmental party, and all the Amigos volunteers in the region and a bunch of local youth came together. We stayed at the school, and we planted trees and had some activities based on protecting the environment. We were able to talk, relax, eat fruit and just have a really good time.

Sophomore Daisy Zhou volunteered at an environmental organization called Roots and Shoots in her hometown of Chengdu. Q: Why did you choose to volunteer and help where you did? A: I needed community service hours to graduate, and I really like to do things connected with nature. Volunteering for Roots and Shoots and collecting information about plastic was meaningful since I started to have more understanding of how plastic pollution influences our planet. Q: Did you enjoy volunteering for Roots and Shoots? A: Yeah, I did. I started to learn exactly how plastic has influenced our world. Our oceans, too. Plastic pollution is just so bad right now, and a lot of people are trying to stop it.

Senior Shimin Zhang returned to her hometown, Qingdao, to intern at Qingdao Women and Children’s Hospital, International Division, and Qingdao United Family Hospital for two weeks. Q: Did any of the patients stand out to you? A: There was this one girl who was only 7 and really sweet, but she had an autoimmune disease, and she had had it pretty much since she was born. Her mother has been taking her all over the world to try and cure her, and she is only making some progress. She was unfortunately afraid of needles. It’s just really hard to see someone like her suffering. There was one other patient that was memorable, but he was in the psychology department so I can’t really say the details.

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