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The Pony Express Maybe next Season Page 7

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Volume 54, Issue 7

The Smokey Dark Side

1290 Blossom Hill Road San Jose, CA 95118


Pioneer students step forward to share their experience with drug abuse A new program is coming to Pioneer, and it will offer real life By Kiana Cummings and Jessica Goss, experiences Editor-in-Chief and Staff Writer, seniors “I was at my house and one of my sister’s friends said ‘Here drink this!’ and so I did,” said sophomore Lucy Adams*, an Almaden native, Mustang athlete, a welladjusted and committed student. The summer going into Freshman year was when Adams got involved in the world of drug use. In our generation, it’s almost inevitable that entering high school, you will encounter some form of drugs. According to, “58% of sophomores have abused alcohol.” This is something Adams can attest to. “I wasn’t afraid to drink because my sister did it all the time so I thought it was normal,” said Adams. One of the reasons teens begin or continue experimenting with drugs is because of the people influencing them. “The first time I got high, I was at my first Giant’s game and one of my friend’s older brother … ended up bringing an edible,” said sophomore Rose Harris*. When role models like older siblings set these examples, the younger generation follows in their footsteps, continuing the cycle of abuse. These destructive behaviors and mindsets can blind people to a scary reality of increasing dependence. “I would have people pay for me. I would borrow money from my neighbor and say ‘I’ll pay you back’,” said Harris. So when does recreational drug use become a necessity for a good time? “If it goes to a point where you need it in your life, that’s when you’re not in control anymore,” said Harris. Users pursue alternative methods of dealing with their problems by doing exactly the opposite. Counterproductive behavior such as abusing substances creates a cycle that traps the user in their own selfdestructive behaviors. For many people, drugs are an escape offering

pleasurable effects such as disinhibition, relaxation, or confidence, but down the line costs tend to be much more extreme. Depression, organ damage, stress, and impaired cognitive functioning are long lasting and potentially lethal effects that come from a few moments of pleasure. After frequent drug use Harris came to the realization that “it doesn’t matter what you do or how you take it, it’s all going to hurt you in the end.” “You realize that you really don’t really need it,” admitted Harris. “I went from smoking almost every day, but after I got suspended for smoking on campus I really don’t like smoking anymore.” Facing the consequences allowed both Adams and Harris to realize they were becoming a statistic. The pamphlets they were given in middle school suddenly revealed their faces and applied to them more than they thought was possible. Reality set in. *Names have been changed.

Photo courtesy of the daily beast

Would you say yes?

Fewer Credits To Graduate

210 credits may now be a new graduation requirement By Rachael Dahbour, Staff Writer, sophomore The phrase “wiggle room” came up periodically during a community board meeting at Gunderson High School on March 31. The meeting posed a new mandate to parents, students, and community members that will redistribute graduation credits to 210. San Jose Unified District has required students to obtain 240 credits since 1998, although neighboring districts, such as Campbell Union, have set lower requirements such as 230. Some concerns raised, like not being able to get into colleges, but Superintendent Dr. Mathews and Director of Secondary Curriculum Jackie Zeller assured those startled that colleges will not look down upon the possible change. Zeller said, “It isn’t very different from what we’re doing now, it’s just more open, honest, and gives more opportunities.” Pioneer’s Academic Counselor, Ms.Gatcke also backed the proposition, saying, “As long as this meets their admission requirements, then the graduation requirements don’t matter.” The idea is a result of schools “not giving students the skills they’re going to need,” said Superintendent Dr.Matthews. Students will be assisted in order to make room in their schedule, and will learn real life skills along the way. It would pose the opportunity to make up a course or take internships with a more capacious schedule. A broad variety of reactions have been prompted by the change, but the change will not affect students who are not in favor of the change. Sophomore Matthew Pinkney said “Personally, I don’t think that it will be much of a benefit for me, but I think it is going to benefit people who do need to make up a course, or need to go to work and earn some money.” Pinkney also said that the change is better than “sitting in a class to get elective credits.” Nothing has been set in stone, but the change provides both positives and negatives depending on a students personal preferences. No classes will be cut, and no teachers will be laid off.

By Rachael Dabhour, Staff Writer, sophomore AP Capstone, a new program, is coming this semester to Pioneer. The program includes AP Seminar and AP Research; while marked by rigor, both programs provide major benefits for college. College Board stated that the program “offers a unique opportunity to distinguish oneself to colleges and universities,” and “provides consistent, externally validated measures of student ability.” Capstone is currently being offered in 16 high schools this year; next year, it will be offered up 120 high schools. Mr. Berndhart, head of the Capstone program at Pioneer, said that the class will be “focused on research, writing, and presentation skills.” He also said that while it would not become the “biggest burden or the easiest AP class, it will be very similar to taking a college class.” Like all AP classes, the course will not be considered “easy” but is extremely helpful for receiving exposure to a college course. AP Capstone will provide benefits despite having rigorous practices. The courses will challenge students while preparing them for college, which is exactly what students need. Sophomore Sam Wong personally believes that the research classes will be the most helpful to her because she will be able to gain more experience with research, since college entails a multitude of research papers. Students will find this appealing because it will essentially make college life easier.

Going to the Core

Common Core testing introduced in Pioneer By Mihir Panvalkar, Staff Writer, junior

Pioneer will be one of the few Bay Area high schools to introduce computerized CST tests. The new standardized tests will replace traditional CST tests for 2014, but will not have a direct impact on students. The test results will only be used for research purposes, and will not be used to determine school Academic Performance Index. Therefore, there will be no CST-based semester grade bumps this year. The tests are also now designed to be paper-free, taken on district-issued tablets or laptops. The new tests also emphasize deeper understanding of material, better aligned with newly set Common Core standards. While traditional STAR tests had a uniform multiplechoice answer format, the new testing will feature free-answer questions as well as logic and deduction problems. Additionally, the tests will include essays to determine students’ mastery of key concepts. However, the tests have been met with criticism. Organizations such as Americans for Prosperity have chided Common Core education as an attempt by the federal government to control the classroom. Legislative opponents to the new testing such as Republican California gubernatorial candidate Tim Donnelly asserted that new Common Core standards will illicit a wave of opposition by parents and students alike.

Dressing for Dummies

Dress code enforcement is getting out of control By Hannah Ratliff Staff Writer, junior Booty shorts, crop tops and sideless shirts. All of these articles of clothing are violations of Pioneer’s dress code. However, students continue the trend of showing as much skin as possible. Rumors that the administration will ban shorts in the fall have been flying around, and now confirmation is on its way. Mrs. Quint, who is a part of Pioneer’s Climate Committee does not appreciate the blatant violation of the rules. “Teachers would rather be teaching and not policing clothes,” she said. “Right now, the biggest distractions in the classroom and on campus are the shorts and the low

these students are technically breaking dress code. Should they get in trouble?

cut tops that the girls choose to wear. The fact that people have longer arms complicates the current rule of fingertip lengths for shorts, which is also why we should just ban all shorts and stick to pants.” Even though banning shorts will not be enforced this year or next year, Assistant Principal Mr. Espiritu believes that if this trend of having too short of shorts continues, the San Jose Unified School District could get involved. “It could potentially be discussed at the district if the girls continue to wear tiny shorts. If it becomes any bigger of a problem the District will consider taking action,” he said. “But I’m asking students so we can all agree on what we can do to prevent this from getting out of hand.”



AP: Losing Its Elite Name

How Pioneer Goes

Highlighting the efforts of Green Team and E-Waste


Jefferson Award Winner

Number of AP students is rising, but scores are falling By Thien Le Staff Writer, senior

Green Team depends on campus members to dispose of their trash accordingly, corresponding to labeled bins

By Michelle To Copy Editor, senior

Unfortunately, Pioneer is not the greenest, most environmentally active campus; students’ littering leads to a horde of problems, namely, the notorious seagulls. Green Team and E -Waste are two organizations on campus that stress that caring for the environment is important and ensure that recycling occurs year round. Senior Lauren Park and Junior Alicia Kim are the coordinators of E -Waste collection drives. Park explained that E -Waste is a good way to recycle old electronics before updating to the newest models because electronics that are thrown away typically end up in landfills where toxicants such as lead build up. Aside from the typical keyboards, computers, floppy disks, and cables, she frequently finds “old Apple software [from] when [the company] logo was a rainbow.” Her brother, Sophomore Tim Park, would occasionally find cords to connect to his guitar.

Inspired by an environmentalist, co-President Junior Sejal Agrawal reactivated Green Team after a long period of deactivation due to lack of interest. While Agrawal faced the daunting task of generating student interest, she also helped found the S-period recycling program. Club members collect bottles and cans from teachers’ classrooms, which are sorted into different bags. Agrawal said, “These bags are taken to a recycling center to get money,” and the money is used to fund projects like the lunchtime activities during Earth Week. According to Mr. Murdock, Green Team’s advisor, they are leaving a “significant impact with the recycling program, not only giving sophomores an opportunity to fulfill their hours, but also eliminating waste” He added that while reducing consumption is better, recycling is “a significant step in raising awareness.” The efforts of all involved students and campus members show that the cliché holds some merit: another person’s trash is another person’s treasure.

The Effects of Affection

Touching on the subject of PDA By Jessica Goss Staff Writer, senior

Spring has officially arrived and love is in the air. Students crowd in the quad and underneath the overhangs, holding hands and hugging, both in an intimate manner and in a purely platonic way. However, a walk around the outskirts of campus or through the sparse hallways may reveal a more extreme version of this scene. Whether or not lewd public displays of affection are appropriate for school is a touchy subject. The San Jose Unified School District student handbook does not restrict intimate acts unless they fall under the category of harassment. However, “The Board of Education believes [in] the preparation of youth for responsible citizenship. The District shall foster a learning environment, which reinforces ... self-discipline and the acceptance of personal responsibility. … there must exist certain disciplinary policies and regulations relating to student conduct.” Of course relationships are going to happen, but if they get in the way of academics and a positive learning environment, they may become a problem. While school is technically a place of work, “It’s when people are together the most,” said sophomore Amber Rizzi, neutral toward the subject of PDA. “People are going to do it no matter what,” added Rizzi. “Just respect your space and others too.”

Photo by Jessica Goss

Holding hands is a commonly accepted form of PDA, but is it school appropriate?

Save the Date


May 2 | 7 - 9pm Mr. Mustang

May 20 | 6pm Underclassmen Awards

May 5 - 16 | 7:30 - 1:30 pm AP Testing Window

May 21 - 23 | 7 - 9pm Finale Music Concert

May 6 | All Day Staff Appreciation Day

May 22 | All Day Senior Exhibition

May 6 | 7pm Beginning Drama Tribute Show

May 22 - 23 | All Day Project Ignition

May 8 | 7pm Advance Drama Spring Tribute Show

May 24 | 6 - 11pm Prom

May 9 | 7pm Mustang Stampede Golf Tournament

May 26 | No School Memorial Day

May 16 - 17 | 7 - 9pm The Nightmare Before Christmas Show

May 27 - 29 | All School Day Senior Finals

May 19 - 23 | All School Day Service Learning Week

May 29 | 6pm Senior Awards Night

May 19 | All School Day Locks of Love

May 30 | 4th Period Farewell Rally

May 19 - 20 | 6am - 4pm Blood Drive

May 30 | 6:30pm Senior Sunset

May 20 | All Day Sophomore Project Tours

May 30 | 1pm Grad Night

Acceptance Expectants

Unattainable Perfection

I found that I had a passion for animals and teaching people about animals

- Courtesty of Pioneer Service Learning

By Kristine Osbourne, Staff Writer, sophomore It is a picture you see everyday, in every class, and on every desk. At the beginning of the year, you deemed it noteworthy, but now, it has faded into the monotonous routine of your life. A tree, a peeling apple, the world -sound familiar? It is the painting on the cover of your student planner. Entitled “Appealing World” by senior Lauren Park, this painting is one of many in her portfolio. “[As an artist], you have to tell a good story…and have a purpose to what you are creating,” Park said. Park draws inspiration from the world around her, pulling her vision from all parts of life and the experiences of people. If you go to her website, laurenparkart.weebly. com, you can firsthand witness her astounding ability to convey a story within the strokes of a paintbrush. The student planner is not the only showcase of Park’s work. Los Gatos art studios display it with pride. Colleges want it on their walls. And one day, maybe even museums will beg for it. “I am a right-brainer. I do not fit into a box. And conformity? I hate that…I like to just create something visual and show stories,” Park said. After high school, Park will major in illustration at the Maryland Institute College of Art, one of the top fine art schools in the U.S. “That doesn’t really mean I’m going to make childrens’ books,” Park said. “Art applies anywhere.”

The Helping Hand What’s the Pointe? A friendly campus presence By Naomi Collins Section Editor, senior

College admissions competition continues to increase By Mia Bajic Copy Editor, senior Released college admissions statistics of 2014 indicate a possible game changer for future applicants. More than 100,000 students applied to UCLA alone, its freshman acceptance rate dropping to 6.6%, lower than Yale University’s in 2012. Based on released data, it is possible that future applicants will have to reassess their chances. Five schools, including Boston College, waitlisted honors student senior Nikki Sun, who embodies the model applicant every student strives to be. “I’m trying to go for a world record of waitlists,” said Sun, smiling. “At first I thought there was a way to get good scores and grades that guarantee you get in, but not anymore.” The UCLA Newsroom states that 42 percent of UCLA’s freshman applicants would be first-generation college students and 37 percent come from low-income families this year. The trend of emphasis on affirmative action could possibly be reflected in other colleges. College Advisor Ms. Antonio said, “I don’t think it’s harder for other students to get in because when they’re evaluating applications, everyone has their own unique situation. I don’t think they’re taking spots from other students.” According to University of California Office of the President, the number of applicants to all nine UCs increased this year. Antonio said, “Impacted campuses have higher acceptance rates than graduation rates,” which could explain the spike in competition. Antonio advises underclassmen to maintain a connection with a counselor who stays informed.

What makes her art so stellar

March’s Jefferson Service Award went to Senior Matt Jensen. Jensen volunteered at the Humane Society where he mentored teenagers in learning animal socialization techniques. Helping animals has developed into a true passion for Jensen, who says that volunteering helped him become a more sociable person. Congratulations, Matt!

Photo by Michelle To

Initially, Advanced Placement allowed a few, selected students to skip introductory college classes. Today, taking advanced classes is strongly urged for ambitious teenagers. On campus, it is the norm. Current students have noticed that those who took many AP classes received acceptances from prestigious colleges. “If there’s an AP class option for the subject, then I wouldn’t take the regular class,” senior Youhan Malkham said. He feels pressured because people often misconceive that students who learn from the normal curriculum are not as intelligent as those in the Advanced Placement version. According to released data from the College Board, despite an increase of students taking AP courses, the exams’ average score has actually decreased. To help improve these rates, junior Dean Parrish suggested that Pioneer should consider enforcing the AP contract as opposed to disregarding teachers’ lack of recommendations. Smaller AP class sizes would give passionate students more time with their teachers. Parrish said, as a result, “students would learn [better] and retain more information,” thus increasing AP pass rates. Some teaching professionals have proposed entrance examinations for these courses, but Ms. Clem is glad that there is none for her AP Literature class. “Initially, I was worried about the success for some of my students whose ability to pass the benchmark test is questionable,” Clem added, “But now, they have shown tremendous improvement, and the test could have prevented them from having this opportunity.

Park’s Art

Ontiveros’ smile brightens Mustangs’ days

“Not everyone is going to come up to you and say hi. When people see that, they think it is uncommon,” Christian Club President Sonal Mecwan said. Senior Jose Ontiveros can be spotted almost everywhere on Pioneer High School’s campus. Whether he’s interacting with known or unknown peers, his warm spirit carries across the campus. Although Ontiveros does not sit in classes, he is a part of Pioneer’s wrestling coach and teacher Fernando Flanagan’s Special Education class. During passing periods, Ontiveros helps create a “green” campus by collecting cans from classes, recycle bins, and numerous other locations. Ontiveros commented that he collects the cans out of the kindness of his heart. Involved in clubs such as Christian Club, Black Student Union, Latino Student Union, his well-rounded personality opens endless doors. Dedicated to attending meetings faithfully, Mecwan commented that she appreciates how “he comes every week and is attentive.” Senior Class President Kevin Nguyen commented that “he does a lot behind the scenes. His friendliness and authenticity, his smile and laugh warm me up inside.” After three dedicated years as a Pioneer Mustang, Ontiveros plans on continuing his journey at West Valley Community College, eventually pursing a career in electronics. Ontiveros said, “I will miss everyone from Pioneer and I will never forget them.”

Ballet dancing looks effortless for a reason

By Abby Banglos Staff Writer, junior Subhead ByasClaire Ballet dancers appear weightless they touch the ground with their toes but “People Bangdon’t

realize how hard it is to be a ballet dancer,” junior Ally Landreth said. “Dancers have to work really hard to make it look effortless.” Enrolled in Sterling Dance Theatre at four years old, Landreth has been dancing lyrical, jazz, and ballet for thirteen years. She currently spends a minimum of six hours a week working on her own technique, and an additional five teaching younger dancers. Landreth’s favorite technique of ballet is pointe ballet where dancers support their full body weight on fully extended feet. Dancers are said to be en pointe when they dance on the tips of their toes. “I was almost twelve years old when I found out that I could dance en pointe,” said Landreth. Many girls that start to dance ballet have the desire to instantly become a ballerina, but Landreth said there are very strict requirements to transition into the pointe technique. Many people are not aware of what happens to dancers’ feet while going through pointe. Blisters and missing toenails are only the norm for Landreth. “I definitely still feel the pain after being [en pointe] for a while, but I just ignore it and push it away. That’s just some of the sacrifices I go through.”

Ally Landreth demonstrates her en pointe

What is the Hardest Part About High School?

By Chris Yamamoto, Section Editor, junior

Highlighting subtle distortions By Michelle To Copy Editor, senior

There is a sharp dichotomy between the imaginary and the actual. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the dimensions of an average American woman are 5’4” and 166.2 pounds. An average female fashion model however, according to ABC News, is 5’9” and weighs 120 pounds. Many companies, notably Target, are facing scrutiny for using photo-editing software to enhance and erase their already thin models. According to senior Madysn Tipton, manipulated advertisements give people unrealistic expectations starting from a young age. “When you see [it], it changes your brain and how you think. It makes your self-confidence go way down. The difference is drastic.” She dedicates a majority of her free time to CrossFit and argues that the most successful athletes in the program do not physically resemble models. “There’s no space in between [their quads]. They rub when they walk, but that’s not a big deal because they’re strong and they’re confident with who they are.” Tipton argues that there is not one ideal body type because no two people are identical. “All these ads [are] telling you that you have to be skinny, that your thighs can’t touch when you walk, [and] that muscles are not for women. That’s not true.”

Brian Solano, Junior

Anisha Shah, Senior

Hugo Ramirez, Senior

School can be challenging when you start to slack off.

The hardest part for me is balancing school with extracurriculars.

The hardest part is knowing how to rebound from a failure.



Subtle Are We Culturally Inept? but Harmful

WASC stings Pioneer with claims of cultural insensitivity, leaving the school figuring out how to address issues It is important for students to be able to see people of By Kiana Cummings their ethnic background and race in their schools,” said Editor-in-Chief, senior Counselor and Black Student Union advisor Mr. Severe.

Media’s Role in Racism By Chris Yamamoto Section Editor, junior

Popular media, especially television, influences our society immensely in both positive and negative ways. However, the degree of subtle racism present in such an influential communications platform is troubling. Many television viewers fail to understand the difference between humor driven by racial issues and blatant racism. History teacher Ms. Talreja says that “too often, popular media is used to make fun of people’s differences and perpetuate negative stereotypes.” Indeed, a lot of TV shows portray minority groups as living stereotypes meant to be laughed at. The Big Bang Theory, a popular TV show, portrays Indian men as socially inept geeks who cannot talk to women through the character of Raj Koothrappali for the first six seasons. To add to the offense, Raj is constantly portrayed as “the foreigner” and “the un-American.” Popular media such as TV and music influences how we see people, especially underrepresented groups. When popular media is the only window some people have into the lives of minorities, the possibility of inaccurate and negative stereotypes to be perpetuated grows. History teacher Mr. Glasser says that “media can be simultaneously effective in making a point, hysterically funny, but also extremely offensive. None of those are mutually exclusive.” Although media is a powerful tool to influence others, it has the potential to be positive or negative; sometimes both. Ms. Talreja says that using humor that plays on racial stereotypes is appropriate when “racism is the butt of the joke.” Both Ms. Talreja and Mr. Glasser agree that having conversations about race issues is important in order for people to become more sensitive and respectful of minority groups. Ms. Talreja says that popular media “becomes powerful because it engages people that would otherwise not be engaged.” Mr. Glasser adds that “any kind of talk about the issue is good. People just need to keep talking about it.”

In their 2008, 2011, and 2014 reports, Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) listed critical areas of improvement for Pioneer, including closing cited achievement and opportunity gaps. This means increasing scores so that they are equal among students of all races and economic status by offering support programs for historically under-performing students. There has not been significant improvement on the issue over the past six years. Underrepresentation can lead to underperformance. In the 2013-2014 school year, non-white teachers made up 25% of the faculty, even though non-white students made up 46% of the student population. “There’s a very low low percentage of minority teachers. I think it will greatly enhance any campus to have a diverse faculty.

Although Pioneer provides opportunities for students to celebrate diversity, it does little to engage them in discussions regarding social prejudice. “I think activities like Diversity Week and the food fairs are great but...issues like racism and the opportunity gap are things people don’t necessarily want to accept because people don’t want to believe that it exists,” said senior Samrawet Samuels, President of the BSU club. Until Pioneer can develop a plan to deal with this, besides diversifying faculty, it is up to the students to make a difference. Celebrating ethnic diversity is important, but its goal is not compelte with discussions about racial inequality. Mr. Severe said, “It is a conversation that needs to happen. You can pass all the legislation you want, but it’s the students that will make the change.”

Come Together

Redesigning Opportunity

By Alexander Wehrung Section Editor, senior

By Erfan Moradi Section Editor, junior

In a show of cooperation and discipline, Pioneer students and teachers are collaborating to solve a persistent problem: race-related bullying. An incident occurred at Pioneer in which some students acted insensitively to other students within a different racial group. This comes after the third official WASC report that portrayed Pioneer’s general cultural sensitivity in a somewhat poor light. “But they recommended ways to amend that,” Ms. Garino said. The inspectors who visited the school noted that there was not enough accommodation for students learning English, those with poor socio-economic standings, and Hispanics. After the incident, the offending students, as well as ones who were unaffected (but still interested) in the incident collaborated on creating a set of guidelines. They were given to Mr. Burrell, who forwarded them to the rest of the faculty. The guidelines detailed recommendations, questions, and reflections from the students on how the faculty should handle these situations, if they ever arose again. “Their purpose is to help facilitate conversation,” Burrell said. Ms. Garino explained how the school will be taking action: “In addition to the lesson plans that were provided teachers, we’re looking at a new resource called JSTOR, and we’re looking at opening up research to find articles that are pertinent to discussing cultural sensitivity and providing research tools for the staff.” However, “I haven’t heard them talk much about it,” said senior Ehsan Zare. He is not alone; numerous students have heard little from their teachers regarding how to deal with race-related bullying.

The Pioneer Redesign project leaves a hazy future for students, especially at-risk students and those who depend on support. The initiative faces two stark possibilities: it can either close the historical opportunity gaps facing students of color and of low socioeconomic status or risk perpetuating them. School reports show drop-out rates of Hispanic students at 5.6%, English learners at 8.8%, and students with low socioeconomic status at 5.4% for the 2011-2012 school year. Many more sit at the cusp of success and failure. Redesign promises radical changes by granting a greater amount of flexibility in schooling, but many of these at-risk students are dependent on delicately scheduled services such as free-and-reduced lunch and bus programs. Co-head of the Redesign project, Mr. Holm, said “We don’t yet know exactly the transportation constraints” but added that losing such programs are not a concern. Rather, Redesign will “provide many more opportunities for support and service.” Increased flexibility will also make school schedules more accommodating for work schedules, helping students who have to financially support their family. Despite promising improvements, the WASC Committee raised concerns that not all stakeholders are involved in the decision making process and “Pioneer still struggles to fully involve underrepresented populations” Mrs. McKenzie, member of the Redesign Committee, added it “is a moral imperative that we work on [giving] support, services, a voice to students of the most need.” Ultimately, it is this population that the school must constantly aim to incorporate in ongoing conversation.

Students and teachers collaborate to set new guidelines for dealing with racial issues

Moving forward with Redesign could mean moving backwards for at-risk populations of Pioneer


Annexation of Crimea Crises develop between Ukraine and Russia By Taha Aziz Staff Writer, senior

Students speak up about the consideration of race in the admission process By Thien Le Staff Writer, senior

Photo courtesy of CNN

Photos begin to surface indicating Russian troops stationed near the border International tensions continue to build as Russia continues to encroach on Ukrainian territory. After seizing Crimea in a controversial referendum that was deemed illegal by both western countries and Ukraine alike, Russia is beginning to take control of Ukraine and Crimea’s bases. Russia insists its annexation was legitimate, but the U.S. has declared that since “international law prohibits the acquisition of part or all of another state’s territory through coercion or force,” the referendum held in Crimea was illegal and violates Ukraine’s constitution. Western countries responded by removing Russia from G8, a group of the world’s leading industrialized countries. Furthermore, Canada, United States, and other EU leaders imposed restrictions banning Russians from banks and travelling to these places.

Collaborations between the western countries and Russia began to improve when rumors circulated that Russia would remove their troops from the Ukraine border. However, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) suspended civilian and military cooperation with Russia. After accusations that the rumors were false through commercial satellite imagery, the U.S. noticed a build-up of about 40,000 troops. The U.S. then took an extra step by creating a bill to both sanction Russia and to provide Ukraine with a $1 billion loan guarantee which has now been sent to President Barack Obama’s desk for a signature. If Russia continues to aggravate Ukraine, then the U.S. along with NATO will plan to take any defensive strikes and initiations necessary to uphold the integrity of international relations between the countries.

Into the Dark

Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 lost over the By Mihir Panvalkar Malaysia. Furthermore, the information indicated that the plane turned back over the Malaysian Peninsula, deviating Staff Writer, junior from its original flight path to fly over remote parts of the After four weeks, there has still been no definitive trace of Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. And with each passing day, the plot seems to thicken. Flight MH370 left from Kuala Lumpur International Airport as scheduled on Friday, March 8, with 277 passengers and 12 crew, scheduled to land in Beijing roughly eight hours later. All contact between air traffic control and the plane suddenly ended roughly one hour into the flight, with the plane making no distress calls prior. The search was instantly on. Countries unsuccessfully poured over thousands of satellite images of the South Pacific Ocean and China Sea during the hours of the disappearance in hopes to find the plane. While the search was originally focused near the plane’s intended flight path north of Kuala Lumpur, new findings by a satellite company shifted the search to remote parts of the South Pacific Ocean. Additionally, Malaysian authorities asserted that the plane underwent several deliberate actions before its disappearance. New satellite information confirmed that an automated plane locating system had been manually disabled shortly before the plane had reached the east coast of

South Pacific Ocean. This change of direction was accompanied by a sharp decline in altitude to almost 12,000 feet, nearly a third of a normal Boeing 777’s cruising altitude.

School is intended to be a safe space for students to thrive and excel in their interests and studies. A bully-free school doesn’t necessarily equate to a safe space; rather, it must be welcoming to students of all cultural, social, and economic backgrounds and facilitate achievement to the highest potential. The school environment needs to be empowering; one where the institution provides opportunity for all and does not discriminate against any identity, but also one where students feel comfortable in expressing their culture and engaging in conversation about things such as race and gender. Progress does not come solely from the school. As much as teachers can enact curriculum about diversity and acceptance, ultimately it is the students who have to mobilize and put thought into action. Until students act, nothing will change and discrimination will continue.

Photo courtesy of

Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 was lost over the Indian Ocean


Urban Cow Tipping Smart cars vandalized in San Francisco By Abby Banglos, Staff Writer, junior The issues of vandalizing has always been a prominent act among younger age groups, especially teenagers. For instance, teenagers messing around with large, heavy objects for fun such as tipping cows and vandalizing public areas are popular. Moving small vehicles, such as Volkswagen Beetles, from one place to another have also been a trend dating back to the 1960s and 1970s. In the city of San Francisco, four Smart cars have been found tipped on the roof, sides, backsides, and vice-versa early in the morning. Looking back, the very same act of turning Smart cars had gained quite some popularity in 2011. Smart cars weigh about 1800 pounds, as opposed

Since 1961, minorities who have been historically disadvantaged are now receiving compensation for the discrimination they have experienced. Intended to alleviate the discrepancies in representation of minorities, such as African Americans and Latinos, the program of affirmative action has influenced high school students nationwide, including those at Pioneer. Most recently, Proposition 209 made an attempt to reinstitute affirmative action into California’s school education system and workplace. However these attempts to provide minorities with not only equal opportunities but also equal results failed, as California’s Superior Court struck down the bill. Senior Luis Guzman, a proponent of affirmative action, is disheartened by the news. According to him, the program should still exist until “no race is being discriminated [and] when colleges have a similar amount of qualified students [from] every race.” Racial diversity has increased on college campuses due to the national government’s enforcement of consideration of race in the admission process. “A diverse student body is a fair student body.” However, after seeing several qualified seniors receive rejection letters from second-tier colleges, some students are questioning the admission officers’ association of people’s racial backgrounds to their identities. “Race and culture are two different things. Race defines someone’s appearance or geographic ancestry, while culture is the classification of people according to their morals and values,” junior Chandni Desai said. Junior Sami Imran feels the college system’s generalizations about students’ socioeconomic conditions based on their skin color perpetuates racial stereotypes. To Imran, ethnicity does not indicate where people stand on an economic or social basis. “A college may offer a scholarship to a minority because that race is considered underprivileged,” she said. “But that individual may not be underprivileged at all and unfairly get extra perks.” Affirmative action allows “minorities to get into colleges more easily, and non-minorities have to work harder to stand out.”

California High School Bus Crash FedEx truck causes ten deaths and injures dozens

Progressing Forward By Kiana Cummings and Erfan Moradi Editor-in-Chief senior and Section Editor, junior

Equality or Preference?

to a regular 4000-pound car. Neighbors were bewildered that people would vandalize these eco-friendly vehicles. According to the Department of Public Works, San Francisco spends about twenty million dollars on vandalism cleanup a year. One resident spotted about six to eight people wearing dark clothing performing the prank by huddling around the vehicle and lifting it up. As stated in the Associated Press, police spokesman Gordon Shyy stated that it is difficult to draw any conclusions without any valid suspects or motives, especially when police are working with only one eye witness. While these acts seem silly, they are taken to serious measures and the persons responsible could face felony charges.

By Catherine Le Staff Writer, junior It was supposed to be a quick taste of college life for two buses of prospective high schoolers from Los Angeles. The students were filled with excitement to be able to participate in the 20-year-old Preview Plus program, which brings low income and first generation students on a weekend trip to Humboldt State University in Northern California. On Interstate 15 on Friday April 11, a FedEx truck suddenly veered across the highway, and hit a Nissan Altima, ripping off a side door. A couple seconds later, the truck struck and severely crushed one of the high school buses. When the vehicles were engulfed in flames, ten people were killed and dozens injured. Some students, despite the initial panic, smashed windows and were able to escape with minor injuries. Senior Adriana Lopez had considered going to the university’s preview night. “It’s interesting to think about how I could’ve met some of the victims,” said Lopez, “I wish I could do something to help the families.” To figure out why the FedEx driver drove across the highway in the first place, investigators are looking at blood samples for alcohol and drug traces. CSU Chancellor Timothy White is “extremely [devastated] that students had their dream taken away by this tragic accident.”

Photo courtesy of Southern California Public Radio

Bus is crushed after a huge crash with a FedEx truck




Maybe Next Season

Boston Strong

Boston hosts it’s 118th annual Boston Marathon after last year’s devestating By Allison Covey Staff Writer, senior

Meb Keflezighi’s victory at the 2014 Boston marathon marks the first time since 1983 that an American has won the event.

Hailey to MB

Senior Hailey Adamski receives scholarship to play water polo for CSUMB By Kristine Osbourne Staff Writer, sophomore The loud splashing sounds of the clear blue water is inviting. The slippery pavement under bare feet is comforting. The scent of chlorine and sweat is as familiar to her as her pillow at home. There is no place senior Hailey Adamski would rather be than in the water. “I love being in the pool because it feels natural,” said Adamski. “Everything is easier for me if I’m swimming and playing water polo.” Adamski first started playing water polo when she was nine years old, following in the footsteps of her older brother. By age fourteen, she decided it was more than a hobby; it was a passion. Now, nine years after her first practice, she has committed to the California State University Monterey Bay (CSUMB) as the driver for the girls’ water polo team. A driver is an offensive position that requires speed, agility, and ferocious energy. In short, Adamski will be the firecracker of CSUMB’s water polo team. Water polo is a highly sophisticated sport that requires advanced technique and training. “You have to be focused, strategic, and you have to be fast,” Adamski said, “but more importantly you have know the game and know your team mates.” A family friend and Senior Hailey Adamski dedicated athlete first introduced Adamski to CSUMB’s water polo team. She soon became a faithful competes in one of fan and got to know the team and coach really well. her many water polo As she began looking at colleges, the CSUMB water polo coach expressed a lot games of interest and support. Adamski will be attending CSUMB in the fall with a water polo scholarship. “It’s really the perfect place for me,” Adamski said. “It’s going to be rad.”

One year later, and new rules have been set. Boston officials set plans that would allow for everyone who wants to come to be safe to prepare for one of the world’s most famous events, the Boston Marathon. The new rules are in attempt to prevent another horrific act like last year when two bombs were set off, killing three and injuring over 200 spectators, runners, and volunteers. This year, according to the Boston Athletic Association, runners will get a “clear, plastic bag that has a drawstring enclosure and the words “Runner Gear Bag”” to keep belongings that would normally be carried with them such as a change of clothing for after the race. Officials in Boston are not the only ones placing new rules about what can and cannot be carried along the run. Marathon officials around the nation have taken the new regulations into consideration. Sophomore Jordan Bearrows witnessed the new rules in effect in California. “There are now rules where you have to check your backpacks into checkpoints” which are very similar to the new rules in Boston. The only bags allowed to be held are fanny packs-- to carry necessary items such as food, cell phones, and medicine. Ms. Wise, a Pioneer math teacher, participates in long distance races. She participated in the Nike’s Women Marathon this past school year. “Organizers and police have to be more prepared so that something like that doesn’t happen again.” Wise said, “They will have to be on top of everything and not let anything slip.” Bearrows agreed with Wise’s statement, “runners aren’t going to let something ruin something they enjoy [doing].” This year, the security, the participants and residents are prepared for one of the most popular races by making and enforcing new rules.

May 7 Varsity at Westmont 4 pm May 9 Varsity at Westmont 4 pm May 7 JV at Westmont 4 pm May 8 JV at Westomnt 4 pm



Updates on junior varsity and varsity baseball, with the season nearing, what will they do to

Girls lacrosse team struggles with lack of experience

Photo by Melissa Greteman

Track and field is not limited to track athletes By Allison Covey Staff Writer, senior

Running, running and more running. That is what many people think about when they hear about the spring sport, Track and Field. Not only are members participating in running events, but they also do field events such as, shot put and discus. The less popular field events, shot put and discus, utilize upper body strength to have a successful throw. Shot put athletes throw a ball that ranges from eight to twelve pounds. The goal is to throw it further than an opponent. Discus is very similar but instead, the athletes throw a heavy disc. Many believe that shot put and discus are simple, but they are strategic events that dates back to the ancient Roman Empire. Not only does the sport involve upper body strength, it also requires a lot of mental strength. Every move requires swiftness, grace, and precise mathematical movements. There are different techniques such as the modified South African, a movement of quick, precise steps and building a momentum. Senior Natassia Powers started Track and Field last season. “I was on the basketball team and many of the seniors were going to do it.” Powers wanted to stay close to her basketball friends and fell in love with the throwing events. Powers said, “Throwing works my upper body that I use for basketball.” Junior Taran Meek wanted to try something new when he first tried the sport last season. “I am not built to run fast but I am strong which allows me to throw far,” Meek said. The varsity athlete enjoys participating in the field events since it allows him to have fun while keeping in shape. One thing that everyone should know is, “Track is not all about running,” said Meek, “people tend to forget about the field events.”


May 7 May 7 Pioneer vs Leland Varsity Softball at Leigh at home 4 pm 4 pm May 9 May 9 Varsity vs Live Oak Pioneer at St. Francis at home 5:30 pm 4 pm May 7 Swim JV vs Leigh at home May 2 4 pm Pioneer at Independence May 14 TBA JV vs Mount Pleasant at home May 3 4 pm Pioneer at Independence TBA

Photo by Melissa Greteman

The Varsity Lacrosse team joins together before a game, bringing together their sticks in, showing joinedness By Hannah Ratliff Staff Writer, junior

Running down the field, stick in hand, slamming into girls as they attempt to block the path to the goal. These are the actions of a Pioneer lacrosse player. Even though the team has a larger amount of players than in past years, this season has not been up to par. New lacrosse player, junior Saira Sanchez, believes the reason for this losing streak that they currently have is the division between the new players and the returners. “The coach doesn’t put us in for enough time and as a team it is really hard to get better,” she said. Junior Kimberly Flores, who is also new to the team, is unhappy with the “benching” of the new players. “I feel like there isn’t even a point to being on this team. We work really hard in practice but we don’t get to play in games.” Senior returner Chelsea Brown believes that the teams lack of experience is a slight disadvantage. “It happens every few years, but it will pay off later because soon we will have a large team that is experienced,” she said. “It is kind of hard to deal with but then again I was there once too,” said junior Jenny Martinez. “We need more sportsmanship and practice and hopefully that will make for a better team next year.”

The Pony Express Newspaper Staff 2013-2014 Boys Volleyball


May 6 JV vs Live Oak at home 5:30 pm May 8 JV vs Lincoln at home 5:30 pm May 6 Varsity vs Live Oak at home 6:30 pm May 8 Varsity vs Lincoln at home 6:30 pm

May 6 Pioneer at Mount Pleasant 4 pm May 13 Pioneer at Branham 4 pm

Pioneer Mustangs By Abby Catolico Section Editor, sophomore Pitch, swing, hit and a miss. Strike one! Hit down the middle, run to first- This is an example play when a batter is up. On the outfield, it is a different play. Players must be attentive, but also receptive to their team mates. To find the right balance amongst themselves is a whole different ball game for the varsity baseball team. According to senior Kyle Cooper, the team is still trying to find their chemistry. Coach Hernandez hopes the team finds their “right identity” to attain better games. Hernandez explained in detail that the team is separated into “cliques,” which takes away from the bondship of team mates. “I want to bring it to their attention by having them encourage teammates and not just their friends in competitive situations,” explained Hernandez about how he plans to improve the bond. Fortunately, the junior varsity team is experiencing the opposite. Sophomore Ryan Dalton mentioned the improvement from last season to this season. “Last year we lost six consecutive games,” said Dalton, “ [Coach Montelongo] uses that as an incentive to play harder because we have a chance at winning the league title.” While Montelongo is working JV to hit the ball better, Hernandez is advising the varsity team to make the routine plays more.

It’s Not All Running

Upcoming Sports Events Baseball

Boys’ Baseball


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Freshman Zack Meyer shares his accomplishments in taekwondo By Abby Catolico Section Editor, sophomore Not everyone can successfully say that they acquired the disciplinary terms necessary for martial arts at the age of four. Freshman Zack Meyer’s rambunctious attitude problem as a toddler encouraged his parents to enroll Meyer in Songahm taekwondo classes. Flash forward ten years, and Meyer now has a third degree black belt in Songahm taekwondo. There are only five 13 to 14 year olds in San Jose that attained their third degree black belts in this style of taekwondo. Meyer shared that one of his biggest accomplishments is being one of those five. Songahm taekwondo is an ancient art that focuses on discipline and personal development of the mind and body. Meyer said, “I feel like I have become a better person” since he started. The disciplinary lessons incorporated in Songahm increased Meyer’s appreciation for other people’s point of views. Meyer said it takes months to years to achieve a higher degree belt. “It gets a little repetitive. But you have to stay focused and tell yourself, ‘I’ve done this before, I’m only getting corrections that I will improve on.’ ” Along with that mantra, Meyer added that he has friends that keep him grounded. It takes years or even a lifetime to reach the highest rank of a black belt, and Meyer admitted that he’s in it for the long run.

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Transcending Expectations?



Singin’ to Victory

Danika Lam wins first place in South Bay’s Teen Idol By Catherine Li Staff Writer, junior

Courtesy of Christian Entertainement Reviews

Johnny Depp stars as the amazing talking webcam in 2014’s most boring film

By Alexander Wehrung Section Editor, senior I honestly didn’t know what to expect with “Transcendence,” a film that asks what would happen if people used technology to become gods. When I saw the trailer, I thought it looked good. I was expecting it to be able to hold my interest. Then again, I thought the same with “Winter’s Tale.” Not only did it fail to do that, it bored me to tears. I started wondering when the film was going to end ten minutes in. Every single actor involved with this film (including the charismatic Johnny Depp) looked as tired as I was. Not once did I feel invested in what was happening to these

people, not once did the events on-screen captivate me. It was dull. And veeeery veeeeery sloooooow. The movie’s plot does not focus on anything in particular, and there’s an abundance of cliched monologues about the nature of humanity, technology, yada yada yada. The film’s just completely illogical, too. In a world where an intelligent computer with god-like powers threatens humanity, apparently it only requires the attention of about a dozen people. The script is full of holes, and it is ultimately to blame for why this film sucks so much. “Transcendence” had an interesting premise, but didn’t utilize it effectively. And it made watching paint dry seem like the Summer Olympics in comparison. Its only redeeming value was that it had nice particle effects. And by that, I mean it had nice effects of sand drifting into the sky.

Mustangs display raw talent in the Spring Concert By Taha Aziz Staff Writer, senior

Coachella music festival accumulates popularity By Mia Bajic Copy Editor, senior

Here Comes Indie Hub Treble in Indio Pioneer’s annual spring concert successfully captivated an audience and encapsulated the mustang school pride thus marking the debut of Mr. Lane, the first year band teacher. The Pioneer band performed in an hour long concert, featuring concert band and wind ensemble, with multiple classical art pieces. Mr. Lane described the concert as a success and said that the “Pioneer students put hard work and dedication into this and the results were impressive.” Senior Joshua Lea, a percussionist, agreed. He said that, It was a great performance for both concert band and wind ensemble.” As a first year performer in this concert, he also noted that “the pieces were challenging,” but these Mustangs managed to play it well at the end. In preparation for the concert, Senior Derek Chen said that they had practiced every day in class for about a month to ensure that every note was clear and concisely done. These preparations were evidently shown through the harmonious sounds from the synchronization of the instruments. Both well organized and well prepared, the Pioneer’s spring concert was notably different as it portrayed a new style from Mr. Lane instead of the previous music stylings of Mr. McCoy.

Show Biz

The first Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival was held in Indio, California in 1999. Fifteen years later, the trend thrives, with tickets selling out within two hours and 37 minutes. It seems as though Coachella has an irresistible pull to people of all ages: an eclectic line-up and wealth of self-expression in fashion and abstract art. To top it off, Time magazine states that celebrities are being paid to attend the festival to attract more people. Coachella also attracts fellow Mustangs. Senior Camille Ludwig attended last year and will this year, too. She describes it as a “wonderland. There are many cool pieces of art; they always have different structures of weird designs.” Since the line-up features performances that span two weekends, it is difficult to see every artist perform. “There’s a Coachella app, and you can set a schedule which tells you what stage to go to,” said Ludwig. The Coachella tag on Twitter remains constantly supplemented with workout plans and outfit brainstorms. Social media has quite possibly transformed the music festival into a type of grassy red carpet in sizzling Indio. Senior Evelyn Skinner, who will also be attending this year, said, “If you’re going, you might as well look trendy.”

Actors balance show and school... successfully? Claire Bang become a strain. “I am a little behind, but not too much. It was to be expected though Staff Writer, junior because this was a harder show so I had to

more time,” said sophomore Austin As the lights dim and the curtains close, commit Hanna. the actors and actresses pack their things Junior Isobel Beaman also feels the time and return to the other constraint, joking, “I half of their double don’t want to check my lives. The attempt of grades to see how much returning to the glossy they’ve slipped.” pages of textbooks and However, teachers scratched-out notes was still expect the same not successful as they requirements of their soon found themselves students. “To some snoring on those very extent, school is your pages. job,” said math teacher The rigorous schedule Mr. Bernhardt. “If a of the production has student hasn’t structured a powerful grip on the his or her schedule cast’s lives. “We have to in such a way to be at school by 5 P.M. I Photo by Claire Bang minimally provide time do the show, exhausted by for necessary academic Colin Brown must the end of it. I tell myself tasks, then it’s a broken I’m going to do homework balance his student system. ” but end up passing out on life outside the Despite this, drama the couch,” said senior Alek musical. students are commended Vargas. “Then I wake up and repeat the for their willingness to sacrifice everything process, getting like four hours of sleep.” for these productions. “You keep on Due to the lack of free time for these students, maintaining their usual grades can scraping by,” said Vargas. “It’s all worth it.”

With bright lights illuminating her face, a microphone in front of her, and a silent audience eagerly waiting, junior Danika Lam took a deep breath and began to sing. The crowd was entranced as Lam performed a beautiful rendition of “Bound to You” from the movie Burlesque; that night, she brought home the first place title in South Bay’s Teen Idol. “Being on stage is a bit of a blur,” said Lam. She was nervous beforehand, but once she stepped onto the stage, she immersed herself in the music. “It’s 4 minutes of excitement and then it’s all over.” Lam chose the “absolutely gorgeous track” from one of her favorite movies because it showcases a multitude of skills. When Lam found out that she had won, she was stunned. “I couldn’t stop smiling for the next few days.” Last year, Lam was a semifinalist of the competition. The experience helped her to be “much more prepared, [since she] actually knew what [she] was getting myself into.” She loves singing as a hobby, and it was not until the beginning of high school when she decided to advance further with her talent. To prepare for this particular competition, she practiced every day, and kept her vocal cords in good shape by hydrating and “getting as much sleep as junior year allows.” Accomplishing such an outstanding achievement is just the first step in Lam’s dream to pursue singing as her career. “Regardless of what happens, I want to [work] in the music industry.” Her favorite thing about singing is how music allows people to connect with each other. “There’s something about it that can really move people and I think that’s amazing,” said Lam.

Photo by George Sakkestad

Danika Lam performs a beautiful cover of the song, “Bound to You”.

There Goes Tokyo


Father of all kaiju films “Gojira” stands the test of time By Alexander Wehrung Section Editor, senior Nine years after the atomic bombings of Japan, Ishiro Honda created a movie featuring a monster that would serve as a metaphor for the destruction and horror the Japanese themselves experienced. The result was the father of all kaiju films, “Gojira.” Or as it’s known in America, Godzilla. The movie’s theme is universal: Quick! Run away before it steps on us! But does the original still hold up? The answer: mostly. The film successfully pulls off a dark, foreboding atmosphere at the start: Godzilla’s presence is felt more than it’s seen, initially. We are just waiting for when he inevitably starts smashing Tokyo. When he isn’t out and about roaring at screaming people, the film is able to focus on its human characters. Their stories are intriguing, but small enough so that they don’t become the film’s focus. What does, of course, is Godzilla causing havoc. He is a harbinger of death, seemingly unstoppable. He leaves a path of suffering in his wake that draws to mind images of the atomic bombings, Honda’s intent: children screaming for their dying parents. Cities on fire. A powerless military. The most terrible scene was when a mother held on to her three children, reassuring them they would “be with their father again soon” as Tokyo burned around them.w “Gojira” successfully conveys the image of a country at its knees against an unstoppable menace. It’s necessary cinema, with a legacy that can still be felt today. Films such as “Pacific Rim,” “Cloverfield,” and hundreds of others all take influence from it.


Pony Express | May 2014  
Pony Express | May 2014