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Solar Panels to be Installed By Min Kwon, Head of Photography Oak Park’s very own Idea to Impact team’s project, to install solar panels on the school library, has been approved by the school, signaling a new step towards both environmentalism and academic achievement. The Idea to Impact team, consisting of Laura Cruz-Albrecht, Kristen Bender, Alexis Cheney, Rachel Convey, Dorinda Fong, and Wendy Xiao, all of whom are now seniors, rose up to be one of the sixteen national finalists last year as a part of the Lexus Eco Challenge competition. This competition, held by Scholastic, is joined by thousands of competitors from schools around the country each year. Teams are entered into challenges, beginning with Land and Water, then

(From left) Convey, Bender, Cheney, Fong, Cruz-Albrecht, and Xiao have worked extensively in order to come up with their solar panel plans.

Air and Climate, and then a Final Challenge, which is for those who are selected from the previous two challenges. Teams must create Action Plans and implement their ideas on these environmental issues in their local communities. Oak Park’s

Idea to Impact team, along with their $10,000 prize funding, is about to implement their idea right on Oak Park High School’s campus. Their idea, to install solar panels on the school library, will go into construction as soon as funds are available within the next few months,

Rising Tuition Rates Feature

Events: Girls’ bathroom in the gym foyer is now open during Nutrition and Lunch!

e Start sending in your art and writing submissions now for the Art and Writing Contest of Awareness Week happening Feb. 2528. Submit to the Mrs. Svoboda or Ms. Fries at the school office.

e Happy Holidays!

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The graph illustrates how tuition rates have increased across the United States.

By Varsha Sarveshwar, Staff Writer Getting accepted into a certain college is the primary concern for many high school students. Students take academically rigorous courses, volunteer, play music or sports and participate in other extracurricular activities in order to make their applications stand out. However, when students finally get accepted into a school, a new challenge arises: how to pay for it.

College tuitions have long been on the rise. According to Bloomberg News, college tuitions have increased by 1,120% from 1978 to 2012. In recent years, the problem has been exacerbated by the Great Recession of 2008. Many state governments, looking for ways to trim their budgets, have turned to cutting education funding - both K-12 and higher education. According to a report from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, public funding for higher education has decreased by

14.6% in the last five years. Public universities and colleges, being primarily funded by their respective state governments, have been hit the hardest. The same Federal Reserve Bank report stated that from 2000 to 2010, the nationwide per-pupil funding for public higher education has decreased by 21%, and in 2010, California cut its funding per-pupil by 11.6%. These universities and colleges raise their tuition rates to compensate for decreased funding. Across the board, sky-high tuition rates force many aspiring students to go to a more affordable college instead of the one they dreamed of and force other students to not go to college at all. To learn more information about these tuition rates and how students can tackle them, the Talon sat down with Mr. Randy McLelland, a counselor at Oak Park High School. Mr. McLelland confirmed that funding cuts are the primary source for increased tuition and said that it is a positive Continued on page 2

and will certainly add to the environmental friendliness of the school. “We were absolutely elated,” comments Kristen Bender, “This is the perfect culmination of all of our efforts.” Not only has Bender contributed to the school Continued on page 2

Divorce Counseling Sessions By Adella Katz, Co-Editor-in-Chief, Zainab Pixler, Managing Editor On November 22 in G-9, Oak Park High School counselor Julie Heeney and USC student Ryan led a group discussion introducing their idea of hosting Divorce Counseling Sessions. Ryan, an Oak Park High School graduate and a child of divorce (C.O.D.), approached Ms. Heeney with the idea of a small counseling program for students who are living with divorced or separated parents. “Since it’s something I know and it’s something I see my own kids struggle with, and it affects at least half the kids at this school,” says Ms. Heeney, “it was just one of those things I couldn’t say no to.” In the pilot session, Ryan related his personal story to the intimate group present in G-9, describing Continued on page 4



December 2013

Solar Panels to be Installed on Library Continued from page 1

with the solar panels, but she has been an active part of the Green Club, promoting environmental awareness and recycling along with many of the same seniors from the Idea to Impact team. These six seniors joined the Idea to Impact program in their freshman year, developing new ideas for each competition, winning not only the recent Lexus Eco Challenge, but also other regional Idea to Impact competitions, to which the team will be submitting projects this year. The development of the project has not been the efforts of these students alone. “The school staff has been incredible,” adds Wendy Xiao, complimenting the

The library is expected to have solar panels installed due to Oak Park’s Idea to Impact group. school’s support for their project. “From Mr. Nelson, our advisor, to the school staff from all over the district, [people] have been astounding and motivational.”

“I think their dedication to the topic [of environmentalism] is outstanding,” compliments Dave Nelson, former AP Chemistry teacher at OPHS and the

team’s advisor. “I think [the solar panels] are a fantastic improvement to the school district as an alternative source of energy.” The Idea to Impact

program at Oak Park was made to challenge students to conduct extensive research about a variety of topics such as energy transfer, environmental sustainability and protection and alternative transportation. Students, as a team, are able to create ideas, conduct lessons, and develop intricate projects. The school’s solar panel project, which can be entered into various competitions, is an example of this process. Dorinda Fong, who strongly recommends this program for students interested in environmentalism, relates, “I hope to encourage others to become involved in raising environmental awareness and action in the community.”

College Tuition Rates: How to Prepare Continued from page 1

Youngest Microsoft Expert By Brittany Jones, Co-Editor-in-Chief Ashwarya Srinivas, a sophomore at Oak Park High School, is the youngest person in California to be named a Microsoft Office 2010 Master and Expert. She completed the test in early November when she was 14. She is believed to be the third youngest person in the world to be named a Mi-

crosoft Expert. She was honored by the Oak Park School Board on December 13th at 6 p.m. Currently, Srinivas is enrolled in the Advanced Placement Computer Science course. She previously completed a class in Office applications and programming. Benjamin Porat was previously ranked the youngest Microsoft Expert.






Ashwarya Srinivas is believed to be the 3rd youngest expert in the world.

eric w. leser, od & vicki leung, od



Mr. McLelland recommends that seniors apply to colleges that are affordable as well as expensive colleges, so that when they receive their financial award letters, they have a less expensive option. He also noted that there are many scholarships that are available to students. While many scholarships and grants are need-based, restricted scholarships are given to more affluent students as well. There are also loans with reduced interest rates and work-study programs available to students. As America’s economy improves over the next few years, families across the nation hope that college will be something that they can afford.

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Mr. McLelland. College used to be affordable to the middle class, but in Mr. McLelland’s experience, it is becoming less so. The fact that college is becoming expensive, even for relatively affluent families, is something that more grants, scholarships and lower interest rates can alleviate. When asked what students can do to be best prepared for these tuition rates, Mr. McLelland emphasized that students should keep their options open. He noted that today’s youth are going to have a higher percentage of bachelor’s degree-holders than any other generation, so it is important to save money for more than four years of higher education.

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that California’s economy is slowly improving, but noted, “Now that the money is starting to flow more freely from Sacramento, do you think the UC’s or the Cal States are going to roll back their tuition rates? No. They’re not.” “These big public school systems are also businesses,” Mr. McLelland stated, “they employ people and those people want to be paid more.” The limited control elected officials have mostly extends to public colleges. “Where politicians have the most influence is in all these [grant, scholarship, and loan programs]… everyone has some kind of money coming from the government to subsidize the loans, the scholarships [and] the grants,” said


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December 2013



Corner Beverage Competition Heats Up By Julia Appelrouth and Lauren Perlmutter, Staff Writers With the new Starbucks location open in the same shopping area as Beanscene, a local coffee shop, there has been much chatter amongst students as to whether the two coffee shops will both prosper. Starbucks opens earlier in the day than Beanscene and closes later, which causes many to believe that this will have a positive impact for Starbucks in the future. Also, there is the convenience of the drivethrough. Sophomore Lauren Cohen explains, “Now that there is a Starbucks drive-through, I have been going there so much more, and it is much easier when I am in a time crunch before zero period.” An anonymous Starbucks employee states, “Because of the drive-through, we have doubled our sales.” Not only has the new site been extremely successful, its employees have seen more and more

cars coming through each day. Beanscene is aware of its competition. The local shop has begun serving wine and beer. Also, Beanscene now has Wine Tasting Events. Sue, the manager of Beanscene, believes the addition of wine tasting will bring “just maybe more of a sense of a community place where people can gather in a cozy atmosphere and have their local cheers.” In regards Starbucks and Beanscene battle it out for the hearts of coffee-loving Oak Parkians to any change of business Many other students have than the old, senior Jordyn Ex states, since the drive-through Starbucks positive reactions to the convenience “Yes and no. Yes because it’s a great opened, she states, “If anything, we of the drive-through. Freshman way to get your coffee while on your seem busier.” Claire Goldes explains, “I have been way to school and you don’t have to Junior Sean Cooper thinks going more often now that there is a spend extra time getting out of your that Beanscene will not be hurt bedrive-through. It’s much faster and car and walking into Starbucks. The cause of the new Starbucks location. the location is much more convebad part is everyone goes to it, so it’s He says, “Since there has always nient.” not that fast when you are running been a Starbucks around the area of Despite these positive relate to school.” Beanscene, the two places already views, there are still mixed feelings Obviously, this new location have their set customers, so people within the student body. is here to stay, so hopefully these two who went to Beanscene and not Star When asked if she liked the shops will be able to remain in their bucks would not suddenly switch.” current Starbucks location more so respective places and be successful.

Kanan Shuttle: Free Ride Extended By Adella Katz, Co-Editor-in-Chief

Changes with the Kanan Shuttle will come with the new year as the currently free bus rides will be charged beginning in the second semester of the school year. According to Oak Park High School’s Principal, Kevin Buchanan, “[The Kanan Shuttle] is a big success, so they’re going to start charging.” He continues, “When it was just Dial-a-Ride, they had about 1,500 riders a month. The Kanan Shuttle is getting about 7,000 riders a month.” Originally, the Ventura County Transportation Department was going to begin charging for the rides after December 31st, but due to the incredible increase in riders, the free period has been extended to the end of the first semester of the school year. “It’s going to be a dollar a ride. And they’re going to be selling tickets; 18 [rides] for $20, and those will be for sale in the library and the District Office,” says Buchanan. He adds, “They’re also doing a student pass, and [it] is going to be

$100 per semester for unlimited use, which is a really good deal because there are 90 days in a semester. We’re going to be selling those passes in the Student Store.” However, these passes will only be applicable during school days, not during holiday or summer/ winter breaks. Buchanan comments, “They should make a summer pass.” In regards to the initial idea of the student passes, Buchanan relates, “It was myself and Mr. Benioff, [as well as] officials from the Ventura County Transportation Department.” Interestingly enough, the Transportation Department will not make profit from charging s t u d e nt s . R at he r, the money made from the tickets and passes will go towards maintaining the busing service. Buchanan states, “In order to continue to run the service, [the Transportation Department has] to be able to cover 20% of the cost, but [even] the fare is not going to cover all the cost.”

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School Life


December 2013

Santa Comes to Agoura : Food Drive By Ashley Siavoshi, Entertainment Editor The winter season is a time to give thanks and spend time with family and friends. However, it is also important to remember those who cannot afford to have a wonderful holiday season. This year, Oak Park High School hosted its annual Santa Comes to Agoura drive during the week of November 18th with amazing results. In the past few years, Oak Park has participated in the Santa Comes to Agoura drive without very positive

Dealing with Divorce Continued from page 1

his high school experience without a strong support group. Beginning in February of 2014, Ryan and Ms. Heeney will hold a second introductory session, which they hope will turn into a seven week span of group sessions that will span 14 weeks. According to them both, the primary goal of these sessions is to help students manage the tensions and stresses that result from dueling parents. Each session will involve discussion points ranging from custody battles to adjusting to parents’ new spouses. As Ms. Heeney explains it, “It’s like group therapy right here at school where it’s convenient and helpful and you can even make connections with other students.” Ryan says without such a support group, students can struggle with deep, psychological effects that he claims are not relieved when the student leaves home. “I felt a click, it was literally a click. Just knowing that someone had taken the time to care about me changed everything.” Hopefully, many students will attend these sessions. Announcements about the exact session dates will be made in the near future.

results. ASB director Heidi Cissell commented on this, saying that in the past, Oak Park was asked to “supply toiletry items, rather than canned foods, which we feel people are more accustomed to.” Cissell also believes that because other clubs and organizations request donations around this time, it “overloads the students desire to donate.” This year, Oak Park was commissioned to collect canned foods including soups, vegetables, and stocks, which Cissell believes is a major reason why this year’s results were better than prior years.

The total count of canned foods this year was over 1,500 with Oak Park High School math teacher Ms. Lory’s class collecting over 400, making her class the winner of the fourth period competition. Students and teachers responded positively to the drive and its purpose. Michelle Velasquez, Junior Vice President, commented on the drive, saying “it’s really important for families to donate food since others might not be able to afford this basic necessity.” Math teacher Robin Midiri agrees, saying that helping others is a “feeling you can’t put a price on.”

Food items collected in Mrs. Midiri’s classroom.

World News

December 2013


Typhoon Haiyan Oak Park Fundraiser By Jessica Ji and Irena Yang, Staff Writers At 8:02 PM on November 10th, a typhoon hit the northern Philippines. Typhoon Haiyan was unlike many of the tropical cyclones that reach the coast of the Philippines each year. With winds of up to 186 miles per hour that tore apart homes and communities, Typhoon Haiyan is the deadliest Philippine typhoon on record and so far has killed over 5,235 people with many new deaths being discovered each day. The Philippines had still been struggling to recover from an earthquake last month that killed hundreds and left thousands living in tents, when the storm hit. A week before the storm hit, city and national

officials were warned of the coming typhoon. They rushed to gather adequate supplies and prepare their cities for the coming disaster; however, their efforts were not sufficient enough. Officials miscalculated the strength and ferocity of Typhoon Haiyan and stocked too few supplies for the refugees. They also failed to evacuate those directly in the storm’s path. Now, as the death toll surpasses the 5,000 mark, and with 1,613 others missing, hundreds of organizations began mobilizing and arranging major disaster relief efforts. Groups such as Red Cross, UNICEF, World Food Programme and Salvation Army all quickly responded to the devastation with donations, supplies and support for the victims. Students at Oak Park High School also hope

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to assist in these relief efforts. One week after the typhoon hit, our school encouraged each student to donate $1 to the front office to help people affected by the typhoon. After receiving numerous donations from stu-

dents, parents, and faculty, Oak Park High School raised over $3,000 for the cause. All the money will be donated to UNICEF to help repair the rebuilding country. These donations, along with the millions of

other contributions, from people around the world, will hopefully help alleviate the troubles of a great tragedy. To learn more about how you can help, visit

OP-ED: The True Cost of Christmas

Workers stay in their busy lines, either assembling parts or testing products.

By Carlo Cruz-Albrecht and Christopher Lee, Staff Writers Currently, over three billion live under $2.50 a day, and almost half of those live on a mere $1.25, according to dosomething. org. During the holiday season, Americans give presents to one another, without understanding how these relatively inexpensive gifts landed in stores. For example, some teens might receive a new phone, a popular daily luxury. However, this $299 item only lands in the U.S. through the sometimes deplorable labor conditions of workers in developing countries such as China.

The reason that many of these luxury goods come to the U.S. for such a cheap price is directly related to cuts in the bottom line of the manufacturing chain. According to Jeffry Odell Korgen, for the sake of lowering wages, some factories practice a mixture of activities such as: child labor, illegal long hours, ignoring safety hazards, paying women less than men, and dodging environmental protections. These practices are implemented in order to match competitive prices as well as meet the demands of many Americans. Such factories are called sweatshops. A recent edition of Maryknoll Magazine explained, the Dream International Factory in Shenzhen, China employs

workers for $1.39 an hour. That is $7.61 less than the minimum wage in California. Under Chinese law, one cannot work for more than six days a week and at a maximum of 8 hours a day. However, some companies in China employ workers for 16 hours a day, seven days a week, according to bls. gov. Additionally, some of these factories do not adhere to any safety regulations, jeopardizing the lives of their workers. The FLA, or Fair Labor Association, found that when interviewing many workers in factories throughout China, many feel the necessity to work overtime simply to earn enough money for survival. Despite these vio-

lations, conditions are improving to an extent. The poverty rate in Bangladesh has dropped from 34% in 2000, to 17.6% living under $1 a day in 2010. Additionally, since Apple’s joining of the Fair Labor Association (FLA), Foxconn, the iPhone manufacturer, is considering reducing work time in Chinese Apple factories to the legal maximum of 48 hours a week. It has also begun to raise salaries of workers, recently raising them by 25%, according to the New York Times. By adhering to questionable standards, low-cost goods, especially clothes, toys, and certain foods, can be purchased by thousands of people, including OPHS students. However, drastic reforms cannot occur because if fair conditions were imposed throughout all manufacturing, prices would rise exponentially. According to New York Daily News, the $299 16-gigabyte iPhone would cost $999 if it was produced under American factory standards. When Marshall Shires, a 10th grader, was asked about his response to the labor injustice, he stated, “Although this is a negative thing, it won’t really change. If something was to happen, for example, an embargo or changing the conditions [for workers], then prices would go up and a lot of people

would not like that.” Senior Aaron Friedman shares a similar belief: “From the humanitarian perspective it matters but from the business perspective it makes sense. I see why they would build a factory in China rather than in California so they don’t have to pay [the workers] $9 an hour.” Even though most citizens have loving intentions, some residents of Oak Park, and consumers in general, fall prey to the companies’ biggest weapon: ignorance. One way people support the movement against sweatshops is by joining the WRC, the Workers Rights Consortium, which ensures that all school apparel is manufactured under fair trade and adequate workers’ rights. Also, buying from manufacturers part of the FLA creates a lasting solution against abusive labor practices. Furthermore, supporting fair trade products, which are indicated by the International Fairtrade Certification Mark on the label, increases the process to further raise global labor standards. This may be a consideration while browsing for holiday bargains this season. Senior Alexis Cheney frankly stated that “Some people continue to value cheap goods over the rights of others elsewhere.”



December 2013



Is success confined to white-collar jobs in the workforce? By Alex Appelrouth, News Editor

How many people can say that they’ve dreamed of becoming a garbage man? Or maybe even a truck driver? It would be seemingly obvious that no one would pursue any of these occupations because they are what society considers low-level jobs. The reality is that society could not function without these jobs. Unfortunately, this is not common knowledge, and the accompanying ignorance is ruining the economy and, in effect, the lives of millions who are unemployed. Today’s society, notably the youth, embraces a prevalent mind-set: whitecollar jobs are necessary to be “successful.” All over the news, there are reports of sky-high unemployment in America. The numbers fluctuate here and there, but the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released the

number of unemployed persons in 2013 at 11.5 million and the rate at 7.4 percent. These numbers are alarmingly high and yet society continues on the same path it has been following. Around three million skilled jobs are available because no one is trained or willing to do them. Students are still pushed to pursue a four-year college degree despite this unemployment in America, which is at an all-time high for college graduates. In addition, according to, the majority of graduates with jobs are not working in their field of study. Altogether, they owe about one trillion dollars in student loans. This unnerving evidence reveals flaws in our society and our perception. Our idea of a blue-collar job has been misconstrued. People associate a skilled job such as

a construction worker, with the lower class. As a result, people are deterred from pursuing and accepting jobs that are necessary for a functioning society. If skilled jobs are viewed the same as they are now, the American economy and society may continue to suffer. Mike Rowe, host of the television show “Dirty Jobs,” began a campaign to counteract the misconception of a blue-collar job. As part of his campaign, he offers scholarships to those in need of financial assistance that are enrolled in a trade school or an apprenticeship program. Rowe has raised over one million dollars for this campaign against the blind avocation of a four-year college degree. His rationale is: “I don’t know that a four-year degree is the ticket anymore. I would never say anything against education, but why is there the four-year de-

gree and everything else is ‘alternative?’” Evident across the nation, students are still pushed to pursue a college degree and enter the white-collar business world. By the time they graduate, students are programmed to believe acquiring a blue-collar job represents failure. They then inevitably land into a sinking job market and are often left jobless, or, in worse cases, homeless. In what way does this mark success? A degree from a university does not ensure food in a mouth or a roof over a head. The irrational view of a blue-collar job is preventing unemployed people from finding work and earning a living. Without the necessary change in perception, it will be difficult for America to be lifted out of its current economic and social turmoil.


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December 2013



success Can a university “de-stress” high school students?

By Kavya Jatavallabhula, Staff Writer

Fierce competition and unrelenting ambition take the stage as high school students prepare for higher education. Being accepted to top-notch universities is an extremely difficult task and many students will do whatever it takes to secure their admission, even sacrifice their social lives or cause adverse health effects to themselves. Because of this, Stanford University’s teachers and administrators came together with high schools across the nation, to establish a program called Challenge Success, which is dedicated to help students make wise decisions and cope with school related stress. According to a review by the USNews, colleges often look for students that take Advanced Placement or AP classes during their high school careers. AP classes are standardized at

college-level. High school AP classes entail more rigorous standards, a more challenging course load and an AP exam conducted in May. Eager students will attempt to take all the AP classes possible in order to please colleges, but everyone has his or her limit. The effects of taking these classes can be seen in the students’ sleeping and eating habits as well as their overall stress levels. Students can be doing homework for four or more hours each day. It is difficult for them to juggle any other activities when their whole lives revolve around academics. The question still remains: are AP classes worth it, and what can students and teachers do to mitigate stress? At Oak Park High School, many students take either Honors or AP level classes. Students sometimes take more classes


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than they can handle which can result in increased stress and pressure, and, in the worst scenario, even dropping the class. When asked how AP classes are affecting her lifestyle, Oak Park High School sophomore Tina Ahmadi says, “AP classes require me to work much, much harder than I did before. I feel like I don’t have a minute to myself anymore.” Irena Yang, a junior at OPHS replies, “The workload is much more challenging and often much more stressful.” It is difficult for students to find a balancing point between their academic struggles and their personal lives. This is where Challenge Success comes in. According to Oak Park High School Biology teacher Winnie Litten, who is a member of this program, “Challenge Success wants to bring to light three different areas: workload as-

signed by the teachers, students and their chosen extracurricular activities, and parental pressures placed on the students.” This program focuses on helping students establish their own appropriate levels of academic stress necessary to help them achieve success. The Challenge Success website states that the program’s goal is to provide “information and strategies they need to create a more balanced and academically fulfilling life” for students. High schools and colleges don’t want the students to spend their days only studying; they want their students to enjoy the college experience. This program also conducts research, helps students increase their motivation and self-esteem and ultimately promotes a healthier lifestyle for all students.

Illustration by Wendy Xiao and Laura Cruz-Albrecht

School Life


December 2013

Senior Spotlight Miles Morrow By Alex Appelrouth, News Editor, Brittany Jones, Co-Editor-in-Chief Q: What responsibilities do you have as senior class president? A: My job for senior class president is: to make sure school spirit is high, to take care of senior funds and to make sure everyone’s having a good time. Q: Do you have anything new that you want to bring to this class? A: I want to try something new at the rallies. Just do something different. Something fun. Wait, that’s not my official answer. The new thing I want to do is an event at one of the rallies that will get the whole school to come together. That’s it. Oh, and to leave the class of 2014 a memorable one.

Q: What do you do in your free time? A: I like to spend time with my beautiful girlfriend, Becca Lonngren. [Becca: No! Don’t say that!] As well as hang out with my buddies: Shawn Green, Brandon Schmidt, Kevin Cohen, and James McFadden. Q: Do you have a secret talent? A: Do I have a secret talent? I guess if it’s a secret I wouldn’t know about it. Hmm, let’s see. I can do a handstand with one hand and while hula-hooping two hoops on my feet. [Alex: should I like add juggling fireballs or whatever] Yeah! I like to juggle bowling balls on fire. Q: What is your favorite memory in high school so far? A: It would have to be this years 2013 football season. Even though we did not make it to the final stages

of CIF, the brotherhood the team shared created an unforgettable camaraderie which gave an inexpressible pride for Oak Park. I will never forget our rise as underdogs, defeating teams like Nordhoff and Bishop Diego. Q: What are you most excited about for college? A: What I am most excited for about college is the experience of meeting new people and going to a land unfamiliar. I am excited to experience life anew, with a dependency on myself rather than staying at house (although I love my family). I find that college will be a great period of maturation and will help me find out what I want to do with my life. I am eager to see how college will affect me as a person and how it will guide my future to come. Q: If you could do anything imaginable, what would it

Miles Morrow strikes a comedic pose.

be? There are no limits. A: If I could do anything, my dream would be to invent some new technology which would be used around the world to help better mankind, be it like a flying car, or teleporting pad, or a ketchup bottle that doesn’t

get that crusty stuff around the nozzle. From its profits, I would get hella rich and use that money for the Miles Morrow Center for Children Who Can’t Read Good And Wanna Learn To Do Other Stuff Good Too.


December 2013


New Attitude in Varsity Soccer Program By Ashkaan Khalilzadeh and Nikhil Bajpai, Staff Writers Coming off a season many players and coaches would like to forget, this is the year to turn things around for the Oak Park High School boys’ Varsity soccer program. Entering the 2014 season, the team has adopted an attitude that no obstacle is too large to overcome. Last season, under first-year head coaches Brian Collins and Kai Werring, the Varsity team did not perform up to expectation. However, by the end of the season, the coaches had developed a strong relationship with the players and many were looking forward to the next season. When asked about the difference between this year’s team and last year’s, Coach Brian Collins responded, “We have many differently skilled players who can always give you a chance to win regardless of what position they play. The players are more familiar with the coaches and have a better under-

Noah Christian, captain of the 2013 OP Varsity Soccer team, in mid sprint during the Thousand Oaks game.

standing of what we want to do and hopefully it will add up to a successful season.” The Varsity team consists of seven seniors, seven juniors, six sophomores and one freshman. The team members have played together before so each player understands what he is capable of doing, as well as what his role is on the field. The starting lineup has proven that it can compete against highly competi-

tive teams such as Newbury Park and Thousand Oaks. When asked what is he most excited for this season, Noah Christian feels that “this year’s team is capable of going further than any team in recent memory.” He also reiterated several times that “[he] wants to make it to CIF because [he’s] only been there once, and this is [his] senior season.” The Eagles will play a number of preseason

games against teams such as, but not limited to, St. Bonaventure, New Community Jewish and Rio Mesa. The Varsity team will compete in the Tri-Valley League along with Malibu, Carpinteria, Santa Paula, Fillmore and Oaks Christian. With the toughest competition being Santa Paula and Carpinteria, the Eagles believe that they are more than capable of a Tri-Valley League championship this season.

Cross Country: Reaching CIF

The girls’ team is tied for being the 10th place Division IV team in California.

By Nicholas Markarian, Staff Writer The Oak Park High School Cross Country team won first place in every category in the Ventura County Championships on November 1st at Lake Casitas. Senior Alex Lie comments that the team “is an amazing composition of individuals that makes everyone feel at home and [that attitude] helps the team succeed.” When the team returned to Lake Casitas on November 7th for Tri-Valley League Finals, it won first place in every category once

again. The teams qualified for the Division IV State Finals. The Varsity teams advanced to the CIF southern section preliminaries. The boys’ Varsity runners finished in fourth place and advanced to the CIF southern section finals. Their top five runners ran a total team time of 80:33. Junior Ryan Harris says, “The feeling of adrenaline watching our team cross the finish line at CIF Prelims was euphoric.” The girls’ Varsity team finished in second place. Their top five runners ran a total team time of 95:32. Both teams re-

turned to Mt. move on, in addition to BaSac on Novemzargan. ber 23rd for the Bazargan and the CIF southern girls’ Varsity team went to section finals. Woodward Park in Clovis Sophomore Nafor the California State Fithaniel Driggs nals on November 30th. Bacommented, zargan and Blackwell both “Everybody has placed 9th out of 196 Divibeen running sion IV runners. The girls’ well and workteam is tied for being the ing hard. We 10th place Division IV girls’ want to break cross-country team in Calithe Oak Park fornia. record tomorrow.” Bazargan Blackwell says, “The broke the previous record set cross country teams perby Mark Nevers. Bazargan formed at very high levels ran the course in 15:02 at a in the final portion of their 5:08 mile pace. The boys’ seasons and ended their seateam however, was not able sons by competing with the to move on. Jake top teams in California.” Whealen said, “It’s disappointing that we didn’t make it through to state finals, but next year, we’re coming out determined to make it and take care of business once we’re there.” The girls’ team qualified to Whealen and Frey at the forefront of the race at Mt. Sac.

Fall Sports Tri-Valley All League Selections Football Coach of the Year Terry Shorten Most Valuable Player Chandler Whitbord Matt Byer Shawn Green Justin Green 1st Team All County Brandon Coppel Brandon Schmidt Zach Fowler Brandon Myden Greg Kalbfeld 2nd Team All County James McFadden John Balen Kyle Rozanski Eric Corsello Joey Bock Miles Morrow Sam Heald Honorable Mention Trent Dolabson Tyler Williamson Girls Volleyball 1st Team All County Lily Rudnick 2nd Team All County Kristen Dunlay Alyssa Wilson Honorable Mention Jessica Wall Hillary Delin Girls Tennis Most Valuable Player Annette Goulak 1st Team All County Alexandra Romanova 2nd Team All County Irena Yang Roopa Chandra Anastasia Greer Honorable Mention Ashwarya Srinivas Lindsay Stanton Victoria Torres Girls Cross Country 1st Team All County Brittany Blackwell Emily Beneduce 2nd Team All County Emma Berns Kendall Engelhardt Honorable Mention Katie Hoerman Emily Ruble Boys Cross Country Coach of the Year Al Calce Most Valuable Runner Sahm Bazargan 1st Team All County Jake Whealen Matt Jimenez Kyle Anderson 2nd Team All County Adam Frey Abhishek Bhutada Trevor Jamison Honorable Mention Ryan Morrissey Roman Colao



December 2013

Midsummer Night’s Dream

The actors were preparing for opening day by rehearsing Act I.

By Kailee Canty and James Whiteley, Staff Writers Oak Park High School’s drama cast is proud to announce that its latest play production will be Midsummer Night’s Dream. It will open on January 16th and continue until the 18th. The play itself is a Shakespearian comedy about four adventurous Athenian lovers. The director of this

OPHS production is Mr. Enoch, an English teacher at the high school. Midsummer Night’s Dream will be Mr. Enoch’s first play directed at OPHS. Although this is his first time directing at OPHS, he has produced many other plays, as he is a part of the Society of State Directors and Choreographers in NYC. Recognizing this, Mr. Buchanan asked Mr. Enoch to direct Midsummer Night’s Dream. When asked about why he chose to direct

this Shakespearian play, Mr. Enoch replied, “I wanted to do a comedy that was fun and teachable as well.” Additionally, freshman English teacher Ms. Reinking is “arranging pieces of music” for the play. She has been researching various versions of the play in order to create a “tailored” experience. Matt Williams, a member of the cast, is playing the character Puck. This is going to be his first time participating in a play at OPHS and he expressed much enthusiasm about this production. When asked how he feels about the cast and the play itself, Matt responds, “The cast is so fun! We plan to make this play very energetic and comedic for our audience. This is my first play at the school and the drama department is so fun to be around. Even though we don’t have all the extravagant props as other schools do, we’re using our minimal props for our play which is how Shakespeare was meant to be produced.”

Rankings By Alex Burger and Julian Lehrer, Staff Writers #1 Seattle Seahawks The Seahawks have earned this spot through an elite defense and a fast-paced offense. #2 Denver Broncos After a historic offensive start to the year by Peyton Manning, the Broncos are averaging over 40 points per game. #3 New Orleans Saints Drew Brees has directed their dangerous offense, while the defense is much improved from last year. #4 New England Patriots The Pats continue to persevere through injuries to their defense, including DT Vince Wilfork and LB Jerod Mayo.

#5 Carolina Panthers Cam Newton has established himself as one of the elite gunslingers in the league. Their strong defense, headed by Luke Kuechly, has catapulted them from the bottom of the rankings to being among the NFL’s elite. #6 Cincinnati Bengals Relying on the tandem of QB Andy Dalton and WR A.J. Green, the Bengals sit atop the strong AFC North. #7 Kansas City Chiefs Their “West Coast” style of offense has featured star running back, Jamaal Charles, in many different ways, and has been their driving offensive force. #8 San Francisco 49ers Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers strong defense gain the 8th spot with a 10-4 record. With Michael Crabtree back, the 49ers are on the rise.

The Nutcracker: A Christmas Tradition By Jordan Berns, Staff Writer

Members of Pokemon Club meet in Mr. Kinberg’s room.

Club Spotlight: Pokemon Club By Benjamin Porat, Staff Writer Do you like the Pokemon video games, card game or anime? If your answer is yes, the Pokemon Club is for you. At each Pokemon Club meeting, the ten to twenty members participate in video game tournaments. The winners receive Pokemon related prizes such as card trades and screenings of Pokemon episodes and movies. Club member Clayton O’Connor comments,

“[It] is really organized and pretty fun!” President Hayla Angha explains that “the club isn’t just for hard-core fans, but Pokemon enthusiasts in general.” All members have a say in each meeting. They are welcome to bring any of their Pokemon games, cards and DVDs to the meetings. The only requirement to become a member is to have an interest in the Pokemon fandom. If you wish to join the Pokemon club, drop by Mr. Kinberg’s room, G-2, during lunch on Mondays.

The Nutcracker is considered a quintessential part of the holiday season. Every December, Pam Rossi’s Dance Ten studio in Moorpark performs a production of this famed ballet. Two of the 85 dancers in this production are Katie Jan, a senior at Oak Park High School and Alyssa Jan, a sophomore. Katie will dance “in the party scene as a toy doll, Dance of the Snowflakes, Spanish, Arabian and the Waltz of the Flowers.” Alyssa will be performing the roles of “a maid, an angel, and a candy cane.” Jan has been

dancing for nearly fourteen years; the last five have been spent under Pam Rossi’s tutelage, giving Jan five productions of The Nutcracker to add to her belt. Alyssa will be celebrating her fifth year as well of being a pivotal part of this festive tradition. The Nutcracker was first performed on December 18, 1892 to little popular acclaim. This ballet grew more beloved over time, inspiring children’s stories, movies and even video games. Despite all of this, Pam Rossi’s Dance Ten aims to create a different look for the 2013 production. Jan says the theme for this show is ‘“new,”’ utilizing a “new Clara, a new

prince, new costumes, [and] new dancers” to breathe a different life into this classic. In addition, there will be more dancers moving up in the company, taking on roles requiring them to dance on pointe, a difficult technique which requires them to balance their body weight on the tips of their toes. A large part of ballet is the juxtaposition between the sheer physical strength and the effortless and graceful appearance of the dancers. The Nutcracker will be performed on December 21 at 1:30 and 6:30 at the Nancy and Ray Scherr Forum at the Civic Arts Plaza in Thousand Oaks.

What’s Up For Winter Break? By Christina Torigian and Hannah Kiernan, Staff Writers To most people, this chilly and festive time of the year is an excuse to drink warm, savory beverages at a ski lodge and to spend quality time with family in front of a roaring fire.

Sophomore Jake Whealen says, “On the upcoming winter break, I look forward to spending quality time with friends and family. During this time of the year, it’s nice to be grateful for what we have and for all those around us.” Paige Creason, a freshman, states, “I’m excited to spend more time with my

family and to make memories that will last a lifetime.” Senior Amanda Greenbaum adds, “I’m spending time with my grandparents, cousins and immediate family in San Diego, then going up to Mammoth with my brothers and parents.” Every cultural and religious holiday is brought together by family.


December 2013


Nicholas’ Best

Grady’s Best

By Nicholas Branigan, Staff Writer

By Grady Benson, Staff Writer

According to Nicholas Branigan, the following are three diverse movies that excel in their respective genres. A Hijacking, directed by Tobias Lindholm, is a psychologically intense tale of the hijacking of a container ship by Somali pirates in the Indian Ocean. Rather than arbitrarily characterizing the pirates as terrible and immoral beasts, the film explores the motives behind piracy. It describes the pirates as human beings struggling to put food on their families’ tables under terrible circumstances. A Hijacking relies mostly on the voices of characters to create deadly conflict rather than substituting violent action.

that there are no winners in a drug war. This film is closer to the grisly drug casualties of The Counselor than to the “successes” of (meth) capitalism in the TV series Breaking Bad. Wong Kar-wai’s The Grandmaster dramatizes the real life of the Kung Fu master Ip Man. It spends as much time depicting fights as it does exploring the mind of Ip Man and the code of ethics to which he dedicates his life. Furthermore, the Chinese version of the film is able to beautifully incorporate China’s history prior to and during World War II.

Drug War follows Timmy Choi, a notorious methamphetamine manufacturer, in China as he attempts to escape the death penalty by cooperating with the police to bust his boss. The audience is exposed to the brutal drug manufacturing underworld in China. It explodes with gut-wrenching shoot-outs to deliver the message

According to Grady Benson, the following three movies are some of the greatest he saw in 2013. Pacific Rim Although it can be said that this movie’s plot is absurdly generic, Pacific Rim featured some of the best CGI Robot/Monster fights in a movie to date. Guillermo Del Toro did a fantastic job with this return to the monster movie genre that sits up there with other greats like Godzilla and Gamera. The visually stunning fight scenes made up for every problem the story line had.

Captain Phillips Although the Talon has already printed an article on this movie, it bears restating that the acting and writing were spectacular. It is one of my favorite movies this year, and quite possibly even one of my favorite movies of all time. However, if you want to read more into my opinion, check out last edition.


The Great Gatsby The Great Gatsby is truly one of the few book adaptations that does the book justice. The acting, for the most part, was well executed and the director’s vision made for some very moving moments. The only qualm was the particularly anachronistic music that, at certain points, seemed to change the intended tone of the scene. Otherwise, The Great Gatsby was a superb movie.


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About the Talon

TALON Mission Statement

12 The Talon, produced by OPHS Journalism Club students, strives to bring attention to and to discuss current events through a student forum. The paper aims to inform the student body in a reliable and relevant manner. If you would like to contact the Talon with comments or questions regarding advertising, please e-mail the newspaper at: talon@oakparkusd. org.

Letter from the Editor Dear Readers, How do you define success? Is it by your level of happiness? By the amount of wealth you posses? Or maybe even by the love that surrounds you? Whichever way you define success, just remember that you can all make a difference, whether you start out ‘successful’ or not. That’s what this issue’s center spread it all about. As you sit by the hearth with your family this break, eating hot-chocolate-soaked cookies, drinking eggnog and the like, think about the success you’ve already obtained. Go enjoy yourselves; ski down the steepest slopes, eat until you’re full to the brim, and just be happy. Finals are in late January, so studying can hold off a few weeks. Rest up and get rejuvenated because second semester is coming fast. Take a stress hiatus and remember to have a fantastic, safe and relaxing break and we’ll see you all in the new year! Happy Holidays from the Talon staff, and remember, in the words of Anchorman Ron Burgundy: stay classy, Oak Park.

Editorial Staff Brittany Jones is a senior who has been writing for the Talon for three years. She is on the Varsity basketball team. Adella Katz is a senior at OPHS. She enjoys writing for the Talon and obsessively watches her favorite TV shows New Girl and SVU. Alex Appelrouth is a senior at Oak Park who loves music and fast food. He enjoys being active and plays Varsity baseball. Tushar Jois is a junior at Oak Park who enjoys writing and layout. He is a typophile and hopes you like the new layout. Leah Katz is a senior at Oak Park and she likes taking pictures and watching ridiculous sitcoms. She also plays soccer in her free time. Min Kwon is a senior at OPHS. He enjoys writing for the Talon and listening to K-Pop in his free time. Ashley Siavoshi is a junior and has been writing for the Talon since her freshman year. Her hobbies include poetry, maths, and the Big Bang Theory. Zainab Pixler is a senior at OPHS and this is her second year writing for the Talon. She loves The Huntington Library and National Geographic.

Staff Writers Nicholas Branigan is a sophomore at OPHS. Among his interests are writing, mountain biking, and lamenting his lack of free time. Benjamin Porat is a sophomore writing for the Talon for a second year. He is a certified Microsoft Office Master in Office 2013. Varsha Sarveshwar is in her first year writing for the paper. She loves reading

December 2013

- Adella Katz, Co-Editor-in-Chief

The Talon Staff

about and discussing current events and politics.

Lauren Perlmutter is a sophomore and has had a passion for writing since she was young. Lauren enjoys being with friends and volunteering in her free time. Nicholas Markarian is a sophomore at Oak Park High School. He runs crosscountry and track, and enjoys playing soccer as well. Julia Appelrouth is currently in her first year of Journalism Club. She loves to watch new episodes of CW’s The Vampire Diaries every Thursday night. Carlo Cruz-Albrecht is a sophomore who loves to read, to write, and express his opinions on controversial topics. He’s into science, engineering, and history. Taylor Bray, also known as “Klancy,” is a senior striving to become an illustrator. He enjoys playing with small rodents and eating various assortments of fruits. Jordan Berns is in her third year on the paper. She is a senior. She likes the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Grady Benson is a senior who loves watching television and Netflix. He also spends his time on the computer. Alex Burger is a sophomore who likes to play baseball and golf. He loves to pitch and hang out with friends. James Whiteley is a junior and he loves to run. He is on the cross country and track teams. Kailee Canty is a junior and is a junior and she loves to write. Her other hobbies include running and playing the ukulele. In this issue: Jessica Ji, Irena Yang, Christopher Lee, Ashkaan Khalilzadeh, Nikhil Bajpai, Julian Lehrer, Christina Torigian, Hannah Kiernan, and Kavya Jatavallabhula.

Interested in joining the Talon staff? Whether you are interested in journalism, photography or layout, we have a place for you. ~ Locate Brittany Jones or Adella Katz or stop by a club meeting. Meetings take place every other Tuesday at lunch in H-9.

The Talon - December  
The Talon - December  

Student newspaper