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History in the Making:

Oak Park Football on the Path to Greatness By Alex Appelrouth, News Editor Oak Park is witnessing history in the making within the football program. With its victory over Carpinteria last Friday, the Oak Park High School football team is the Tri-Valley League champion. The team has advanced the farthest it ever has in Oak Park history. Not only has the Varsity team achieved a 5-1 record prior to the start of their league games, but since then, they have won every game. As of last Friday’s epic 42-35 win against Carpinteria, Oak Park is 4-0 in the Tri-Valley League. The incredible win came with only 2:29 remaining. Oak Park was down by a point when they got the ball back to score the win-

Justin Green sacks Villiage Christian QB and Zach Fowler, an outside linebacker, recovers fumble for a touchdown. Photo credit: Mark Kalbfeld

ning touchdown. With this crucial win against Carpinteria, Oak Park now has the opportunity to play farther into December. Additionally, the win moved Oak Park into the number one spot in the

Southern Section Division, right ahead of Nordhoff and La Salle. These top three teams all have a record of 9-1, making it difficult to predict an outcome for the CIF championship. However, if Oak Park can bring the

same competition that they did in their 23-3 victory over Nordhoff on October 18th, they will have no trouble making it to the top of the standings. Today, Oak Park will Continued on page 9

Threat Deemed “Not Credible” Crowding By Brittany Jones, Co-Editor-in-Chief


Events: Annual Food Drive “Santa Comes to Westlake/Agoura and Beyond,” November 12 -15

e Hanukkah, November 27

e Thanksgiving, November 28

Parents and students received a disquieting e-mail from Dr. Tony Knight, Oak Park Unified School Districts’ Superintendent, on Tuesday, October 22nd. This e-mail was sent “not to alarm [parents] or the students but to clearly communicate the situation and engage help in [the] school safety efforts.” Before the school opened at 7:40 AM, an office member received an email “indicating that a bomb was planted on the campus in the area of the ‘cafeteria.’” Oak Park High School’s Threat Assessment Team, as well as law enforcement and first responder officials, conducted an intense and thorough search. According to Kevin Buchanan, Oak Park High School’s Principal, they “deemed evacuation unnecessary” due to the possibility of it leading to more danger. They also determined that the threat was not credible. The timing of the email was unusual; threats

are normally sent during school hours in order to create a disruption. Any other reasons behind the threat’s credibility could not be disclosed due to the possibility of an interference with the investigation. OPUSD plans to prosecute the person behind this threat to the fullest extent of the law. According to the Patriot Act, “threats to schools can be prosecuted as felonies.” Not indicated in the e-mail was that a previous threat was sent on October 16th, the day students were supposed to experience the Great Shake Out. The wording in this e-mail was almost identical to the second. Words were abbreviated into texting language, such as using “u” instead of “you,” and “r” instead of “are.” When law enforcement tried to trace the two e-mails’ IP addresses, they were brought to an international proxy server. This proxy server made it appear that the e-mail address belonged to a former Oak Park High School student, although, the e-mail did not. The student’s name could not be disclosed in order to

protect his identity. However, officials believe that this former student was the target, not the school. Parents are asked to talk to their children about the incident, as well as to tell them to be more aware of their surroundings. Students need to talk to an administrator if anything seems suspicious or out-ofplace. Parents are also asked to do the same if they overhear anything that “raises [their] intuitive senses of concern.” No matter how petty the report may seem, the administration will follow up on each and every one. When students were asked about the bomb threat, their reactions ranged from expressing concern to complete detachment. Sophomore Lauren Perlmutter comments, “I was shocked to hear that a bomb would be on our campus but once it was all cleared up, I was glad there wasn’t actually one. You never know though what can happen, even in a small town like Oak Park. It was a good reality check.” Expressing similar Continued on page 2

Rummors Addressed By Benjamin Porat, Staff Writer Without out-ofdistrict students, the senior class of 2026 might not have more than 150 students. This is a startling revelation considering that OPHS has hit its maximum size of nearly 1,525 students. Since 2007, Oak Park High School has experienced a population increase of nearly fourteen percent. That equates to 186 additional students, or about thirty-one students per year, putting a strain on OPHS’ infrastructure. Longer lunch lines, crowded walkways and full classes are the downsides to having more students at the school. Plans to reduce the strain on the school’s infrastructure include more campus supervisors, cafeteria staff and teachers. This does not mean that the district wants to Continued on page 2



November 2013

The Shutdown:

Congressional Gridlock By Varsha Sarveshwar, Staff Writer

Overcrowding at OPHS?

heavily slash out-of-district students because without those students, each grade might not have more than two hundred students. This would cripple the district’s funds and force the closing of an elementary school, as well as massive class cuts at OPHS. When asked if she feels OPHS is full or overcrowded, Senior Libby Block says, “Not at all!” Sophomore Jacob Lampinen, who was twice denied access to his first choice elective due to the class being full, comments, “I’m mad, but it really doesn’t matter.” OPHS teacher, Mr. Kinberg, says, “I don’t feel that we’re overcrowded. I think [OPHS is] full.” Dr. Knight, Superintendent of Oak Park Schools, assures that fears of overcrowding are unfounded: “In terms of the future, we do not expect that the school will get any larger. Our projections keep it about the

same number for the future.” According to Dr. Knight, the district plans to maintain an average class size of thirtythree students at the school. Dr. Knight admits that the main force behind the population increase is Oak Park’s District of Choice program, which was kept in place to keep the school full. This policy is a shift from the 1990’s when OPUSD did not allow out-of-district students to attend Oak Park schools. For each new student, OPUSD receives $5537. The OPUSD Board of Education has capped the number of DOC students to be around forty percent. Principle Buchanan dismisses the notion that a student might be denied access to classes because of the number of DOC students. He explains that the real reason that people don’t get into a class is due to normal scheduling issues. He points out the fact that some AP and Honors classes must be

combined because too few students sign up. Not everyone feels that the population increase is a bad thing. Mr. Amerikaner, a technology teacher, says, “No, we’re not overcrowded. [Having more students brings] greater diversity and helps everybody’s learning experience. I think it helps Oak Park students learn from students they haven’t met in elementary or middle school!” Dr. Knight praises the effects of the District of Choice program explaining, “Because of this, we have not made cuts to OPHS as other schools have done. In fact, instead of making cuts due to a 25% cut from the state, we have been able to add AP and other classes at OPHS. We have also kept class sizes at 33:1 average rather than raise them, as other schools have had to do to balance their budgets. This is the first school year where we don’t have a cut from the state.”

Threat Not Cre dible concern was Sophomore Hannah Bartolomea: “I was pretty freaked out! I was impressed that the school kept so calm about it and was able to deal with it before we even go to school!” In direct response to this incident, all debris is



eric w. leser, od & vicki leung, od





Dr. Knight and Mr. Buchanan concluded, “Nothing is more important than the safety of all of [the] children and [Oak Park High School] will take all reasonable steps to create an educational climate that is safe, secure and peaceful.”

Doctors of Optometry


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being cleared and dumped into the dumpster that is located near the R-building. In addition, the local Sheriff office was asked to increase patrol of the school after hours. Mr. Buchanan comments, “We want more police presence on this side of town.”


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Congress has been known for bitter political fighting, maneuvering and its inability to compromise. This came to a head when Congress could not pass a budget for the new fiscal year, resulting in the government shutdown, which ran from October 1st to October 16th. The fight over the budget began with President Obama’s signature law, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. In an effort spearheaded by Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), Congressional Republicans refused to pass a funding bill that left Obamacare untouched. The Democrats would not hear any changes to Obamacare and demanded that the Republican-led house pass a clean CR, or a clean budget with no catches. The unrelenting effort to dismantle the Affordable Care Act was, from the start, an effort that was highly unlikely to succeed. Michael Van Slooten, a Spanish teacher at Oak Park High School, says, “A lot of people are to blame for [the shutdown]… [Members of Congress need to] realize that once a measure like the Affordable Care Act - whatever you feel about it - has been approved by the Congress, signed by the President and cleared by the Supreme Court, it is effectively law. If you want to change it, you have to get a majority vote to get a repeal.” The shutdown had immediate effects on the country and the nation. According to CNN, over 800,000 government employees were furloughed. An ABC News report stated that national parks, consumer safety agencies, the EPA, clinical research, housing and other

agencies were partially to almost completely shut down. The shutdown ended the day before the government hit the debt ceiling, which was an event that was forecasted to be calamitous by economists. In a last-minute agreement, Democrats and Republicans passed a bill that funded the government and raised the debt ceiling until February, and created a budget panel with Democratic and Republican members. The shutdown has taken a political toll on both sides. According to a joint poll by ABC News and the Washington Post, Republicans have a 74% disapproval rating, Democratic lawmakers have a 61% disapproval rating, and the President has a 53% disapproval rating. Even though Republicans have suffered in the polls, their core constituents are quite supportive of their actions. Oak Park went mostly unaffected by the shutdown. As an affluent community that is not reliant on the federal agencies that were temporarily closed, Oak Park did not see any changes. But, many families were unable to visit national sites, such as the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, due to their temporary closure. When asked about the political strife that led to the shutdown, Abriannah Aiken, a sophomore at Oak Park High School says, “The Democrats were stubborn for the right reasons, and the Republicans were stubborn for the wrong reasons… but at least people are going to start getting paid and [they can] get back to their jobs.” While the shutdown and debt-ceiling debacles are over for now, come February, the nation hopes that this game of political brinkmanship does not start all over again.


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November 2013



Hectic Holidays: Thanksgivukkah By Hannah Exler, Staff Writer While the usual mood of November is to gear up for countless plates of turkey, stuffing and sweet potatoes, the month of November touches on one other significant holiday this year - Hanukkah. Beginning at sundown November 27th, Hanukkah is a Jewish holiday of family and fun celebrated by the lighting of candles each evening for eight nights. In years past, this holiday has begun in the month of December, sometimes falling in the midst of Christmas. In fact, the last time Hanukkah did not begin in December was November 30th of 2002. An earlier holiday means certain changes for those that plan on celebrating.

For one, an earlier Hanukkah means the possibility of being flexible and mixing holidays. Junior Dayna Rosenthal is celebrating Thanksgiving at her aunt’s house this year, but says she does not think her family will be mixing the two holidays together. She adds, “To be honest we haven’t really talked it out. I’m sort of just going with the flow.” Senior Alexa Frisch is also attending Thanksgiving at a family member’s house this year, and similar to Rosenthal has “no plan yet.” An earlier holiday also means earlier shopping. While some families may try and rush to get all of the shopping done before Hanukkah begins, Frisch claims her family will try to “get most of the shopping done on Black Friday.” Be-

cause one of her older sisters has her break around Christmas time, though, Alexa says her family will exchange gifts later in December. Those that celebrate Hanukkah may mix traditional Thanksgiving meals with Hanukkah treats. However, because Thanksgiving comes only one night per year and Hanukkah runs for eight nights, Rosenthal claims her family will probably “do a Hanukkah dinner for the first night of Hanukkah” and keep Thanksgiving at the normal tradition, “hopefully with presents,” she adds with a smile. With a crazy month full of family and food, November is bound to hold a busy week with these two major holidays.

Implications of California’s New Minimum Wage Law By Andrew Austin, Staff Writer In mid-September of 2013, California’s state legislature approved AB 10, a bill that will make California minimum wage workers the best paid in the country when it goes into full effect by 2016. Workers will be able to expect a raise to $9.00 an hour by July 2014 and $10 in January 2016, an almost unprecedented 25% raise over the course of two years. The law was backed by Governor Jerry Brown and the Democratic Party, and was seen as a response to the recent nationwide fast food worker protests. Even after their political victory, workers have remained passionate and vocal in their support of what they see as a ‘living wage’ of $15.00 per hour, not $10.00. Supporters of the “Fight For 15” movement have pointed to the slow pace of average wage increases in California, which is now well below the relative increases in productivity and top-level wages on a national level as well. Protestors also frequently cite a recent report done by economists at UC Berkeley and University of Illinois that claimed over 44% of the workers in the restaurant and food services sector are registered for, or have a family member on, public aid of some sort, like food stamps or Medicaid. In other words, proponents say that as companies and prices inflate, the minimum wage should as well, especially during a time when so many are struggling to get by. Though movement has gained considerable traction among workers,

conservative groups have denounced the use of union-supported reports and have consistently labeled the effort to raise wages a “job killer.” Republican lawmakers, along with a coalition of business groups and major companies like Wal-Mart, have suggested that a dramatic increase in such a short period will be bad for California’s recovering economy. They also say it could force many smaller businesses to cut back on hours and reduce hiring, and thus greater labor costs would undoubtedly enlarge the unemployment rate. There is definitely no argument over whether the partisan divide is as strong in California as it is in Washington, but only time will tell how the raise will actually impact the economy. Beyond its political implications, the new law will have a direct effect on an estimated 2.4 million people in the next few years, including many Oak Park High School students who, like most young people, work in starting or low wage positions. Senior Mairin Murphy, who works as a store clerk, says she thinks the bill is “good since minimum wage should increase with inflation,” and added that though she makes a little more than the current state minimum, she finds it “hard to imagine someone living off of that.” And while senior Zainab Pixler says she’s glad that she’ll be earning a little more, she’s also unsure of how it might affect the prices of goods like gas and groceries. Another working senior, Chris Khacherian, expressed the same concern for climbing food pric-

es. If prices do rise as a result of the minimum wage increase, the entire political effort may seem counterproductive. This new state policy may be

good news for working teenagers at Oak Park, but the broader picture is clearly much more complicated and controversial.

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School Life


November 2013

American Sign Language: Meeting Halfway By Adella Katz, Co-Editor-in-Chief, Chandana Srinivas, Staff Writer The school year has brought with it a revamped, interactive, and culturebased American Sign Language program led by new teacher Deanne Bray. According to her personal website, Deanne Bray made her way onto the silver screen through her starring role as Sue Thomas in the television series Sue Thomas: F.B. Eye. She is also known for her role as ‘hero’ Emma Coolidge on the NBC hit show Heroes. Aside from her acting career, Bray has been a science and math teacher for deaf high school students. She has established “The Little Bookworm Club” in order to promote literacy. She was also a ASL Master/ performer at the DeafWest Theatre. Her husband is also a deaf actor. According to Bray, “ASL is unique because it has a different modality than English. Spoken language is through your ears and mouth, but sign language is unique in a way that language is used through your hands, body, face, and eyes.”

The one universal aid to language is the ability to comprehend. When a chink in the auditory and visual modes of comprehension arises, solutions must be created. Sign Language was created to solve the issue of deafness. A language of body gestures and hand signs, Sign Language serves as a tool that allows even those without the ability to hear to comprehend language. “I am Deaf. I am an active member of the Deaf community, an advocate for the Deaf children and [someone] who cherishes the culture and language of Deaf people,” says Bray. Because Bray is a native speaker, she also serves as an ambassador for Deaf culture. When asked, Bray said that she preferred to be called Deaf, with a capital ‘D.’ In context, Deaf refers to a person who is hearing impaired, but is also culturally and socially involved in the Deaf community. For someone who is deaf, with a lower-case ‘d,’ it means that the person is culturally detached from the Deaf community. With this perspective, Bray intends to allow Oak Park High School’s ASL students to experience the cultural

aspect of Sign Language. “Often people take this class because they think it is easy to learn. They don’t realize that it is just as hard as any other language,” says Bray. Bray claims that spoken language involves a lot of jaw movement and face muscles, but it is easy to acquire flexibility in these muscles because the ability to talk is primal. Humans’ lips, tongues and vocal chords are all trained to help them communicate, whereas their fingers and hands require a lot more practice in the world of communication. Sign Language is difficult in that it requires more fluidity than any other language. The ability to simultaneously move and flex fingers and apply facial expressions to communicate is not a skill so easily achieved. By practice and hard work, fluidity can be achieved. To promote signing as a natural instinct in ASL students, Bray invites guest speakers to come and share their experience as ASL speakers. This practice not only provides the students with a way to be immersed in the language, but also provides the right environment

Deanne Bray considers herself to be an active member in the deaf community.

to positively apply what is learned in class. Junior Jake Garfinkle states, “It’s very new and different. We have actual guests coming in now and that really helps our understanding of Sign Language.” Lisa Hermatz, a guest-speaker of the ASL class, explained that “hearing people need to meet us half way; they cannot keep using English as a crutch.” Lisa Hermatz, a professional Song Performer, visited Oak Park High

School’s ASL classes where she taught the students how to sign a song. The students were actively involved in signing songs and found new ways to sign the same words. Active involvement and hands-on experience allow students to be confidently accustomed to Signing and being exposed to native speakers helps them to understand Deaf culture. As Bray simply says, “The easiest way to learn is to actually do it.”

STAR Testing: Replacement Comes Early By Ashwarya Srinivas and Crystal Rabizadeh, Staff Writers

Familiar to Oak Park students are Standardized Testing and Reporting, or STAR, tests that are administered to every public school student in California beginning in the second grade. After many years, California’s state testing will be coming to a close. In early September, a plan was introduced that would terminate the distribution of STAR tests in Math and English. This was to start in 2015-16 but has already been put under way, one year earlier than planned. Assembly bill 484 was signed into law on October 2, 2013 which effectively ends the STAR testing system. According to information given to Oak Park Teachers, “AB 484 calls for the transition to a system of assessments and assessment tools that cover the full breadth and depth of the

curriculum and promote the teaching of the full curriculum.” A new set of exams, known as the Measurement of Academic Performance and Progress (MAPP), will be implemented during the 2014-15 school year. The system will use computer adaptive testing technology to provide meaningful data and feedback that teachers can use to help students succeed. For the current school year, however, students in most grades will not continue to take STAR exams. Instead field tests of the Smarter Balanced assessments for English and Math will be given for grades three through eight and here, at the high school, in 11th grade. This year, students in the 10th grade will still be given the traditional science assessment. Also, the EAP (Cal. State Early Assessment Program) will still be given to 11th graders, as well as the CAHSEE (California High

School Exit Examination). Next year students will be given the computerbased Smarter Balanced assessment, which is aligned to the new Common Core State Standards. It consists of a list of required learning standards students must complete prior to graduating. An organization known as the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium is developing a system of assessments that fall in line with these standards. These tests in English Language Arts (ELA) and Mathematics are being created for students in third to eighth and eleventh grades. This system will go far beyond basic multiplechoice questions, adding detailed free responses and computer-based projects, allowing students to demonstrate critical thinking and problem solving skills. In this year’s budget, Governor Brown and the Legislature set aside $1.25 billion in additional K-12 funding for school districts to prepare

for the transition to Common Core. This assessment is said to consist of two parts: a computer adaptive test and a set of performance tasks that will be taken on a computer. These will challenge students to apply their knowledge and skills to collections of real-world questions and activities. According to Mercury News, Guy Moore, president of the teachers’ union in Contra Costa County’s Mt. Diablo school district, says he supports the concept of diving deeper into subjects instead of glossing over the surface but worries that teachers haven’t been given enough information about how the tests are expected to change their classroom instruction. However, Democratic Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla is excited about the program, saying, “This is going to give all the students in California the opportunity to do a trial run on the new testing system without

there being any high stakes involved.” When asked how they feel about the upcoming changes for testing, students have varied responses. Sophomore Priyanka Davé expresses her uncertainty by saying, “The new tests may be harder. I don’t really know what to expect. On the other hand, I think it will be an interesting change.” Freshman Kali De Varennes agreed completely, saying, ”It’s going to be way harder! Why would I want to take a harder test? Still, I think it’s cool that we will be taking the test on computers.” There seems to be a few apprehensions regarding the new computer-based tests. At the same time, there is a new excitement over that same fact. Already an improvement from the pencil and paper tests students have grown used to, given that it is computer based, the new tests will hopefully provide more accurate scores to students all over the state.

November 2013

School Life


Senior Spotlight Katherine Byrne A: It gets really difficult at times, especially when we By Alex Appelrouth, have rallies coming up or News Editor, Homecoming, definitely. Brittany Jones, But it’s just one of those Co-Editor-in-Chief things that you have to do. It’s not really a choice, so you just get your priorities Q: How does it feel to be straight and crank out what ASB President? you gotta do. A: It feels good knowing that Q: How are you finding time I can make decisions that for college apps? How’s your can make our school better progress? Where are you apfor the students, like to be plying? able to do the kinds of things A: It’s really difficult [to find that they will enjoy instead time]. Usually that’s what I of administration making all have to do late at night afthe decisions. ter homework and school. I Q: Do you like running would say apps…just again, school rallies? [are] one of those things you A: I would say it’s nervehave to do. You don’t really wracking because people have an option. I’m applyhave pre-conceived ideas ing to nine or ten different that rallies aren’t fun. So, it’s schools, mostly out-of-state, kind of hard going into rala couple in-state. I’m applylies trying to change people’s ing to UCSB, Berkeley (kind opinions when they’re alof a long shot), San Diego, ready basically set. But I reBoulder, Wisconsin, Oreally enjoy it. I think it’s a lot gon, Washington, and Texas. of fun. Q: Why mostly out of state? Q: How do you balance your A: Um, honestly, I don’t reposition of President and beally have much of a reason. It ing a member of Advanced 17920 Epic Ad OakPark gryscale_17920 Epic Ad 10x8BW 11/5/13 10:58 AM was more of like those places Peer Counseling?

seem really cool. Boulder has weather that is completely different than California. I know that I want to live in California when I’m older, so I want to experience a different demographic and different weather. But if I got in to somewhere like Santa Barbara, then I would love to go there because it’s beautiful. Q: Do you have any idea of what major you want to study? A: Um, yeah. I want to [study] psychology because I want to be a behavioral psychologist for kids with like autism and Asperger’s. Q: What inspired you to want to be a behavioral psychologist? A: One of my friends was diagnosed with bipolar disorder when he was really young. I was always one of the only people that knew how to calm him down and take him out of his mood swings. I really enjoyed doing that because I liked to Page 1 know that I could help, and

that I wasn’t just helpless. Like a lot of people felt like they didn’t know what to do, so they just froze. I realized that it was something that I got satisfaction from and would like to do with other kids. Q: What’s it like behind the scenes in ASB? A: In general, Katherine Byrne is an active member at OPHS. ASB does a lot more than people expect. of certain funds. And all of All the activities at school go the rallies and dances have through ASB, even the little themes and posters. You things like blood drives and have to come up with all of food drives. I would say that those activities and you have I haven’t had one free moto make your schedules for ment in any period of ASB all of it. yet - running business meetQ: What are you looking forings and passing certain ward to during senior year? requisitions and purchase A: I would say I’m looking orders that allow people forward to second semester to spend money in certain when I can just submit all places and take money out the apps and just be free.



November 2013


Peace with Planet Earth Begins on Your By Adella Katz, Co-Editor-in-Chief Zainab Pixler, Managing Editor


The Oak Park School District is not giving up on saving the world. For years, the Oak Park administration, staff and student body have adopted policies regarding environmental education and sustainability. In April, the district, along with 64 other schools nationwide, received the National Green Ribbons School Award in recognition of its efforts. The 2013-2014 school year marks the start of a new environmental theme for the Oak Park Unified School District: Making Peace with the Natural World. Dr. Tony Knight, Superintendent of OPUSD, was inspired by a concept promoted by Dr. Sylvia Earle, a world renowned oceanographer and environmentalist. Each year – for the next several years – will have its own sub-theme regarding the schools’ impact on the environment. This year’s environmental focus starts in an unexpected place: your plate. The “Peace Begins on your Plate” Program focuses on diet and how our food choices affect the environment. “People and communities can have a dramatic impact on the environment based on the foods we eat,” said Superintendent Dr. Tony Knight. Since 2009, the district has partnered with the California Health & Longevity Institute, located at the Four Seasons Hotel in Westlake Village, i n

its attempt to improve the quality of the district’s school lunches. Nutrition experts redesigned the menus at the elementary schools, middle school and high school to include more servings of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Additionally, the new school lunch menu also includes items approved by Stevenson Fitness, a local gym in Oak Park. In its partnership with Stevenson Fitness and the California Health & Longevity Institute, OPUSD strives to promote healthy lifestyles for Oak Park students by providing healthy food options that also appeal to students. As a way to kick off the improved health-conscious menu this year, Oak Park High School was host to the Four Season’s Food Truck on October 24. The truck is on a journey, stopping at eight cities in 55 days across three states, spreading healthy recipes and foods. This state trek idea was created by the Di-

rector of the California Health & Longevity Institute, Chef Paulette Lambert. OPUSD is also a proud participator of Johns Hopkins School of Public Health’s Meatless Monday program. The program, started in 2003, involves going meatless once a week in order to reduce risks of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Superintendent Knight clearly states, “The effort is to encourage people to eat more plant-based foods and less animal-based foods.” Data from a study conducted by Harvard University shows that replacing saturated fatfilled red meat with foods that contain more unsaturated fats, such as vegetable oil and nuts, can reduce the risk of heart disease by 19%. Red meat consumption is also often attributed to Type II Diabetes; reducing consumption will, therefore, reduce the risk. A decrease in meat consumption can also reduce the district’s schools’ carbon footprints. The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization estimates the meat industry generates nearly one-fifth of all greenhouse gas emissions. OPUSD is one of thousands of school districts worldwide that has joined in the effort to reduce meat consumption and ultimately provide healthier food options for students and the environment. With the help of advisor and district superintendent Tony Knight, OPHS students have created a new club called SPAE (Students for the Protection of Animals and the Environment) that focuses on the ethical and environmental treatment of animals. At over forty members the

“People and nities can have impact on the e based on the fo ~ Sup Tony K

Picture drawn by Ojan Rohani.


November 2013


m at Oak Park Plate

When asked what the top ten environmental measures Oak Park

club displays the growing student interest in issues relating to factory farming and other practices they believe are inhumane or unsustainable. “I think the fact that we had 43 people join the animal rights club makes quite a statement,” says Knight. “We expect to add more members this year and in the coming years.” More people are discovering that life can be enjoyed quite well in a health-conscious and more energetic state without the moral compromise of the ingestion of animals and their by-products. Instead, as the club advocates, people can enjoy plant-based diet and not contribute to the factory farming methods of fish and livestock that exist today. Factory farming and the general consumption of meat are huge environmental concerns; however, many do not recognize the detriment to the environment that those two factors cause. Additionally, many people who are concerned about the environment haven’t yet made the connection between what is “on our plate” and the health of the planet and its inhabitants.

d commue a dramatic environment oods we eat.” perintendent night

has passed, Superintendent Tony Kight responded with the following:

The school district is creating a greener food program that does not serve beef, lamb, or pork and is joining the Meatless Monday campaign.

We are installing infiltration systems in our new parking lots to recover rain water runoff and filter it back into the watershed.

We are installing new energy saving thermostats in classrooms and offices and replacing old HVAC (heating, ventilation and cooling systems) throughout the district.

Oak Park is installing cool roofs as it replaces roofing systems at our schools. These keep our buildings cooler and save energy. Friends of Oak Park funds our science specialist, Debby West.She runs the Idea to Impact program that focuses on energy and the environment.

We are changing out plants to drought-tolerant species and irrigating with drip systems.Additionally, the schools are installing new weather-based sprinkler controls that only water when necessary.

Oak Park is using only organic fertilizers on our turf and plants, while also not using any toxic chemicals.

School Life


w w w. D r i v e r s E d D i r e c t . c o m

November 2013


November 2013


New Changes Await the Girls’ Soccer Program at OPHS By Rachel Julius and Chloe Wigul, Staff Writers Fall in Oak Park marks the start of the new season for girls’ soccer. This year, there has been an amazing turnout with a total of seventy-eight freshman girls participating in preseason conditioning. “Due to the influx of freshman trying out, the standard of play should be greatly increased,” remarks head Varsity coach Mark Zeolla. He and the rest of the soccer coaches have high expectations for the upcoming season. While the large number of girls trying out will strengthen the soccer squad, it also means that many cuts will have to be made. Coach Zeolla adds, “We are very excited about

the number of girls wanting to play, but are not looking forward to making cuts. All of the coaches have children and we know what is like to have your kid not make a team.” One of the main improvements for the Frosh/ Soph team is that it has its own developed league this year and will be competing in the Buena High School Tournament. Julio Ramirez, head Junior Varsity coach, has high expectations after the team won the Grace Brethren Tournament last year. The Varsity team also expects a great competitive season. Coach Zeolla expects a minimum of second place in league and another win at the Grace Brethren Tournament. When asked about the loss of seniors Nikki Herdegen, Jacqui Gaball, and Graelin Young, Coach

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The girls’ soccer program spent the day at Zuma Beach for a beach practice.

Zeolla replies, “We lose top players every year, but our other players grow as well.” Next year, the Oak Park Girls’ Soccer teams will be moving into a larger league, which will include neighboring high schools such as Newbury Park, Agoura and Calabasas. Because of the transfer, this season will be the last chance for the teams to win against Oak

Park High School’s longtime rival, Oaks Christian. Zeolla excitedly commented that the soccer program “will be looking for two wins for both [its] Varsity and Junior Varsity teams.” The girls’ soccer season will officially begin on November 26th, with an opening game against Fillmore.

Junior Varsity coach David Kinberg also has strong faith in the team. When asked about the team’s chances of winning, he responded, “I think we have more than a shot. I think we are in great position to make it into the playoffs.” In addition to attending practices, the team has a responsibility to assist with the maintenance of their playing field. While some of the players work on the infield

dirt, others take care of the outfield grass. During a game or practice, an outfielder may have to dive to catch a ball. This can rip up one area of grass, which can cause the surrounding area to die. The team works on repairing these bad spots of grass by watering it. All of the players have been trying their hardest. They will do whatever it takes to make it into CIFs. Hopefully their dedication and determination pays off.

Could this be the Year for Baseball? By Warner Myerson, Staff Writer

The boys’ Varsity baseball team started practice in early October in hopes of improving last season’s 9-17 record. They are spending a lot of time in the batting cages trying to hit fly balls, ground balls and even bunts. The players are eager to prove themselves. Many players believe that this year’s team has the potential to qualify for

the California Interscholastic Federation, CIF. Junior Ben Meyer comments, “We definitely have the talent, we just need to stay healthy, get our jobs done, and have fun.” Junior Brendan Lavallee adds, “I think we really need to work on our team chemistry. We have too many guys that are too worried about themselves instead of the team, and once that gets better, we could be looking at a shot at the CIF.”

Girls’ Varsity Volleyball in CIF Playoffs By Juliana Furgala, Staff Writer, Ashley Siavoshi, Entertainment Editor The beginning of every school year brings a new chance for the girls’ Varsity Volleyball team to advance to CIF. Even though try-outs were held in August, the season began in September.

According to Coach Patrick Quinn, “Fifty to sixty girls try out for three teams.” However, only “thirty-eight make the cut.” This year is the first time in the past few years that there have been three freshmen on the Junior Varsity team. A main component of a strong team is teamwork. Player Amanda Chin commented that her favorite part of the team is “the seniors because they’re the ones who make us so close.” Late October marked the end of the regular season, but there is still a chance for the volleyball

Future Success for OP Football

players to continue to improve for next season. According to Coach Quinn, there was an effort to encourage the players to participate in club volleyball. Unlike the team at Oak Park High School, club volleyball is year-round. This enables the players to participate in “six times as much volleyball.” In order to have qualified for CIF, the Varisity Volleyball team needed to rank in the top three or four teams within their league. In addition to playing well throughout the season, the team also needed to win

games against their main competitors, which included La Reina and Oaks Christian. The Girls’ Varsity Volleyball team played their first CIF game at Downey on Tuesday, November 12th at seven o’clock. They were successful against their opponent, which allowed them to move on to the next round. Their next CIF game was against Los Osos. It took place on Thursday, November 14th at seven o’clock. Due to publication deadlines, the newspaper is unable to report the results of last night’s game.

enter the first round of playoffs against Bishop Montgomery, who has a league record of 3-3 and an overall record of 6-4 in the playoff brackets. Quarterback Chandler Whitbord comments on the advancement into playoffs by reporting, “We are all taking these next few weeks very seriously as it is our team goal to win a CIF championship. Everyone is raising their focus and intensity and making sure we each do our jobs if we want to win.” While maintaining focus, the team is still excited to get this far in the season. Running back Brandon Coppel notes how great it feels “to be a part of this football team. There is nothing better than saying we are the first team to win out our league and to call ourselves champs.” Coppel continues discussing the start of playoffs as he notes, “As being number one seed in playoffs, we feel pretty comfortable with who we play right now, but the talent level of each team will increase throughout the playoffs.” Should Oak Park advance past the first round with a win against Bishop Montgomery, they will play either La Puente or Valley Christian, who has a record of 7-3 and 6-4, respectively, according to As the team has progressed into its season, the chemistry among the players increased dramatically. Coppel projects that “the start of playoffs will have a huge impact on us because we haven’t won a playoff game since the 20062007 season, and the community being a part of this playoff run will also help us be successful. The chemistry between all of the players is huge.” With the intensity of the games rising, Oak Park football knows to remain strong. Whitbord keeps a composed and modest outlook by saying, “It is playoffs; every team is good, and we won’t underestimate any team because anything can happen.”



Oak Park Surfers By Nicole Schwartz and Christina Torigian, Staff Writers Oak Park High School’s Surf Team was very successful at their first meet of the 2013-2014 season. Their first meet was Sunday, October 27th in Mandalay Bay in Oxnard Shores. There were over one hundred and fifty surfers and twelve schools participating in the competition. Oak Park High School had twenty-one participants present. Ten Oak Park High surfers advanced forward from their first heats. These students included Clarke Miller, Davis Gortner, Josh Catone, Vienna Werner, Aaron Kinberg, Katy Rupp, Alex Ungar, Scott McIntosh, Natalie Balen and Brandon Aguilar. Alex Ungar explains, “It’s tons of fun and I love being out there with my friends.” Four surfers competed in five finals and won five medals. Scott McIntosh won fourth place in body-board, Aaron Kinberg earned sixth place in long-board, Vienna Werner won both fourth place in long-board and sec-

Senior Erik Balen ripping a tide on his surfboard.

ond place in body-board, and Katy Rupp won sixth place in long-board. Mr. Kinberg, coach of the Surf Team, says, “The competition was great. It was exciting and we had a lot of new surfers competing.” Congratulations to all Oak Park High School surfers, and a big thanks to the students and parents who came to support the team. More information about Surf Club itself, donations, practices, sponsorships, participants, and meet schedules is located on the Oak Park High School website on advisor David Kinberg’s staff page.

November 2013

Common Stress for Common App By Min Kwon, Director of Photography The Common App and the UC applications have been the primary concerns for many OPHS seniors in the past few months. While the Early Decision applications for certain colleges were due in October or November, the UC and CSU applications are due November 30. For many students, the writing process can be a stressful one, especially for the more competitive schools, such as UCLA, which had a regular decision acceptance rate of just 22% for the 2012 academic year. Stakes are even higher for some students who are applying to the most competitive private schools, such as Princeton University and Stanford University, both of which look for highly qualified students and have paltry acceptance rates of less than 10%. “It is quite stressful because there are so many components that need to be done,” states Laura Cruz-Albrecht, a senior who began her college application process this past summer. Those “components” include filling out de-

tailed personal and academic information on the online applications. Additionally, for private universities, the Common Application must be completed, which includes filling out a resume, asking for teacher recommendations, meeting with counselors, and writing the supplemental essays for each college. For a lucky few, however, the stress of college applications has been alleviated by early acceptances and scholarships. Rebecca Kubena, a senior, has been offered a full scholarship to Cornell University, an acclaimed Ivy League School, for her outstanding softball performance. For others struggling to cope with the college application process, the faculty of Oak Park High has offered much help. “Mrs. Schultheis’ essay writing seminar and Mrs. Hawkins [herself] helped me with my essays and helped me look for colleges with my major of interest and sports,” states Melissa Gutterman, another senior writing her college applications this fall. “I’ve also attended a lot of the college meetings.” Unfortunately, those using the newly released

Common Application have come across some technical difficulties on the website. While some have reported constant website crashes, others have commented on the incorrect word counts for supplemental essays as well as the inability to submit certain information. “My non-teacher recommendation would not submit properly. Plus, essay formatting and word counts become very off when submitted into the Common App,” complains senior Wendy Xiao who is applying early to a private college. The college application writing process does not only concern the seniors. Some juniors are already thinking about their own college applications, and some have even begun the process preparing for the applications. Russell Tagawa, a junior, has already “written a list of components to include in [his] college resume” as well as other accolades to put in his application. Until these applications are all submitted, Oak Park High School seniors will be both busy and hopeful. “I hope to have good results and have a good rest of my last year in high school,” says Cruz-Albrecht.

No Shave November: Cancer Awareness By Alex Burger, Staff Writer, Brittany Jones, Co-Editor-in-Chief At the start of November, thousands of people across the world pledge not to shave any of their bodily hair for the entire month to bring awareness to men’s health issues such as prostate cancer. The participants are usually men, and they do not shave or style their beards or moustaches. In 2009, No Shave November was just a small Facebook page. It contained fewer than fifty members. The American Cancer Society now runs the webpage. An online business was started that donates proceeds made directly from the sales of merchandise. According to the No Shave November website, “the goal is to grow awareness by embracing [one’s] hair, which many cancer patients lose, and letting it

grow wild and free.” Instead of spending $30 on razor blades, shaving cream, or waxing appointments, people donate the money to the American Cancer Society in hopes of increasing the education of cancer prevention and research. No Shave November is not just limited to men. Women have also been known to participate, either by not shaving their legs or by purchasing merchandise off the official website. Individuals have the option to purchase a “Let it Grow” t-shirt, a S’well moustache bottle, a No Shave November rubber bracelet, or the original “No Shave November” t-shirt. For those who are competitive, “Team American Cancer Society grants the ability to make a team page under [their] No Shave November page.” Men can compete over who can grow the “best, longest, [or] silliest beard,” as well as raise funds together.

Mr. Buchanan, Mr. Martin, and Mr. Meskis posed for a photo during lunch to show off their facial hair.

This idea of refraining from shaving has not only become a fun competition for many men, but it has also changed many lives by raising awareness as well as money for cancer research. At Oak Park High School, men who are generally clean-shaven can be seen walking about campus. From coaches to teachers,

students and even principals, participants are actively helping to raise awareness and to give support. According to, different types of facial hair that men could grow include: sideburns, muttonchops, a Vandyke beard, a Fu Manchu, a goatee, a five o’clock shadow, a handlebar moustache, a

chinstrap beard, a horseshoe moustache, a pencil moustache, and lastly, a toothbrush moustache. The toothbrush moustache was made popular by Charlie Chaplin. The handlebar moustache has been worn by Salvador Dali, as well as Hercule Poirot, “a favorite fictional Belgian detective.”


November 2013


A Uniquely Foreign Perspective

By Akshay rao, Staff Writer Dear OPHS, Before I dive into writing my first column, I would like to start with an apology. Yes, I misspell certain words but it’s certainly not because I have poor spelling. I have a better excuse; I have my Microsoft Word language settings set to “English U.K.” Why you may ask? Well I’m actually British. I moved to California in July. I am also Indian. I was born in India. Can you ask for more diversity? I certainly think

so. This place is a melting pot of so many cultures, religions and races. I’ve found no trouble in fitting in. So for this, you have my absolute highest regard. I wanted to use this first column to write about my observations, an amalgamation of all my thoughts and opinions surrounding the last ten weeks at OPHS. I aim to provide a foreigner’s perspective of life here but if I fail, please don’t mention it to me. I kid of course; feel free to voice your thoughts. What is it with Americans and the British accent? Yes, we talk differently. However, the looks of absolute astonishment have been never-ending. I’d just like to make it clear that I have nothing against being commented on for my voice, in fact, I actually find it quite pleasant. I am just curious as to why it prompts the reaction it does? Get back to me on that if you so wish to tell me. Apart from this generic obsession, one of the first differences I noticed about life at OPHS is the sense of community. The

Pledge of Allegiance is a wonderful act and took me completely by surprise. I noticed an entire class stand in unison and raise their right hands over their heart. I was stunned. I stood quickly and did the same with no knowledge as to what would follow. Then I observed a unity that was astonishing and humbling. I’m sure Mr. Buchanan would agree with me when I state that the rally is a very “American thing.” It could simply be perceived as a lot of noise and silliness. However, I saw it as a real exhibition of joy and charisma, which was not bound by an individual’s socio-economic class. It is simply pure, unadulterated passion. Yes, I know I might be writing about the ordinary for many of you but that’s not the case for me and to be given the opportunity to share them with you makes me feel part of your community. If you see me around Oak Park, don’t hesitate to question me. It would be rude not to ask. Go Eagles!

Worth Watching By Grady Benson, Staff Writer George Clooney and Sandra Bullock star in a “designed for IMAX 3D” realistic Sci-Fi thriller that has one of the best examples of space physics in any modern movie: Gravity. The story simplifies down to a group of space shuttle astronauts that become lost in space after a massive catastrophe. George Clooney, for all of his screen time, and Sandra Bullock do a wonderful job as astronauts, and the visual effects are beautifully complex and well done. However, the movie does suffer from confusing depth that can only be described after seeing the movie. I would recommend seeing this movie – despite its minor story confusion

– simply because of the fantastic visual effects and wonderful acting from the protagonists. Captain Phillips is another spectacular action thriller starring Tom Hanks. The story is based on a real life event, which entails Somali pirates overtaking an American cargo ship commanded by Phillips – played by Tom Hanks. Not only does Hanks do an amazing job playing his role in this film, but also actors playing the pirates do as well. The movie excels at making the viewer think about the nature of poverty and the situation in that area. Overall, Captain Phillips had me sitting on the edge of my seat throughout the film, sending me back into reality only after its conclusion. I can safely say it is one of the best movies I’ve seen this year.


Proud Supporter of OPHS Women’s



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@

November 2013

Letter from the Editor Dear Readers, This issue of the Talon offers a variety of articles that range from learning about the new ASL teacher, Deanne Bray, to going in-depth with Katherine Byrne. Taylor Bray was kind enough to create another humorous comic that goes along with our theme for the center spread - environmentalism. The Talon staff wanted to emphasize that the food we eat greatly impacts the environment. With Dr. Tony Knight’s assistance, Oak Park High School has been able to become environmentally friendly. To see what improvements the school has made, make sure to check out the feature pages. We also made sure to report on the growing success of the boys’ Varsity football team. They are making history with each step forward. The team has earned a spot in the California Interscholastic Federation, also known as CIF. Their first playoff game is tonight, Friday, November 15th. They play against Bishop Montgomery. If you do not have plans on this fine Friday night, make an effort to come out and support our boys! Another team that deserves a round of applause is the girls’ Varsity volleyball team. They qualified for CIF and won their first playoff game on Tuesday, November 12th. Their second game was Thursday, November 14th. Lastly, try and spot all the teachers and administrators who are participating in No Shave November. Encourage them to keep on letting their mustaches and beards grow! -Brittany Jones, Co-Editor-in-Chief

Editorial Staff

The Talon Staff

Brittany Jones is a senior who has been writing for the Talon for three years. She is on the Varsity basketball team.

Varsha Sarveshwar is in her first year writing for the paper. She loves reading about and discussing current events and politics.

Adella Katz is a senior at OPHS. She enjoys writing for the Talon and obsessively watches her favorite TV shows New Girl and SVU.

Juliana Furgala is a junior and she has always been, and will continue to be, an avid reader. Her favorite subjects are history and art.

Alex Appelrouth is a senior at Oak Park who loves music and fast food. He enjoys being active and plays Varsity baseball.

Rachel Julius is a sophomore who plays soccer and lacrosse. She is a part of Advanced Peer Counseling, which is an amazing program that supports OPHS students!

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

Hannah Exler is a senior embarking on her second year of journalism. She also plays on the volleyball team and drives a Scion in her free time. Ashwarya Srinivas is a sophomore at Oak Park High School. She enjoys reading, drawing, technology, and is on the school tennis team. 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. Chloe Wigul is a sophomore at OP. She enjoys playing soccer and taking part in absolutely any outdoor activity. She also loves to eat, watch Netflix, and hang out with friends. Grady Benson is a senior who loves watching television and Netflix. He also spends his time on the computer.

Andrew Austin an aspiring writer and teacher, an environmentalist, and a music enthusiast. He loves reading novels and publications, attending concerts, and engaging in interesting conversations.

Warner Myerson is a junior at Oak Park High School. He loves watching baseball and hockey and his favorite teams are the Los Angeles Kings and Los Angeles Ddgers.

Benjamin Porat is a sophomore writing for the Talon for a second year. He is a certified Microsoft Office Master in Office 2013.

Also included in this issue: Chandana Srinivas, Crystal Rabizadeh, Christina Torigian, Nicole Schwartz, Ashkay Rao and Alex Burger.

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.

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