Page 1

Purple Inside

The Life and Times of Benjamin Isaac Gross Inside the Editor’s Head Liza Wimberley: The Story of a Russian Immigrant

opinions The doors 01 LBJ is currently under siege by an untolerable force; the doors, all of which swing out. With this being a hazard to our genius population, something must be done! Let’s do lunch 02 Students are stuck at school for an hour every day when they could be using the opportunity to be off campus studying or dining out. So what gives? Terrorizing Transportation 03 The bus system for LASA is undergoing a drastic change, as AISD has decided not to renew their contract with the Capital Metro bus system. Is this for better or for worse?

features escaping russia 09 Liza Wimberley was born in Russia, raised in Russia, and will die Russian. Despite this, her experience of moving to America has changer her.

LASA english teacher Benjamin Gross philosophizes about his experiences in the Notorious B.I.G. Photo by Casey Chorens Photo on front page taken and edited by Miles Kruppa

inside the editor’s head 05 Aaron Seriff-Cullick has bided his time for three years, and now he is editor in chief of one of the top three high school newspapers in the nation. However, the wait wasn’t so easy. The notorious b.i.g. 11 Benjamin Issac Gross has been haunting the dreas of LASA students for 3 years, whether it be with his daunting assignments or off-color jokes. But does he really deserve the title of notorious already?

Odds and Ends coffeehouse 15 / school styles 23 Nerd essentials 16 / memoir 19 Robotics 17 / Diving Captain Q&A 25

contributors Miles Kruppa enjoys long walks on the beach and playing tennis in the nude. He has been writing for most of his life and is very suborn when it comes to critiquing his work. Flips of hair engulf his head, and it is extremely easy to point out his eyes on his face. Miles contributed a great amount to this magazine by helping with designs and writing his original stories. He is a staffer (soon to be co-editor) on the school newspaper, so his experience exceeds most. While writing this, Miles hid in a corner to avoid the imaginary laser rays that he saw because he left his foil hat at home. Miles is not a true man, so Hannah Wimberley wrote this for him.

Casey Chorens was born in a corn silo somewhere in the northern hemisphere. She doesn’t feel like explaining the circumstances surrounding her birth. She hasn’t died yet. Her skillz that killz include interviewing bands and surviving a lunch with Mr. Gross. Her previous journalism experience is limited mainly to writing articles about sexy robots. When she grows up she wants to be a fortune cookie writer, despite a debilitating phobia of all things cellophane. Her contributions to this magazine include photographing gangstas and fetching tripods. This magazine would be good for nothing but old-folk’s home toilet paper.

Hannah Wimberley is a shrink, not the type that helps you deal with your psychological problems, but instead the one that likes to shrink behind her horrible biography write-up of Miles. She enjoys hanging out with her dog, Henry, who fails epically to Miles’ dog, Ana. She wears one shirt exclusively (at least it seems like it), and she likes it that way. Oh, she also sleeps in her closet, suspicious to say the least. She mainly contributes (if you can say that) to this group by giving her outrageous criticism to things such as word usage and coffee cup placement, but her articles are okay, I guess. Despite all that stuff, Hannah manages to somehow come across as a nice, rsdfklgvsek;jg person who brightens the group with her funny examinations of everything from David Bowie’s crotch to Casey’s robotic nerdiness.

Dear Readers, The content in Purple is dedicated to the vast and interesting culture of LASA/LBJ. As a magazine, we strive to cover the interesting and the odd of LASA/LBJ that might not be out in the open yet, such as our feature about the Notorious Benjamin Issac Gross. We hope that, through our magazine, both the student body of LASA/LBJ and our outside readers can gain a better understanding of the various people that grace the halls of LASA/LBJ.

Sincerely, The staff of Purple magazine





Miles Kruppa

typical LASA student saunters down the hall. His calculus, history, and physics textbooks loosely cradled by his weak arms, he an anomally among the tall, muscular, loosely dressed LBJ students. He looks uncomfortable, not only for his overstuffed backpack riding high on his back or his all too short shorts give him a wedgie, but because of his surroundings. He knows that an outswinging door can strike at any time; he has been hit six times in the past, and his bruises show it. As he walks through the doorway in his adventure to the band hall, he is relieved to have escaped the perils of the doors, something he hopes to avoid in the future. This reign of terror needs to stop immediately. The geek and nerd population of LASA cannot afford any more injuries, especially ones around the brain area, injuries that can severely alter students’ abilities to think. If we plan to cultivate future talent at the Liberal Arts and Sciences Academy, we

A student is struck. Photo by Casey Chorens can’t have our students worrying about anything other than the gigantic amount of homework they have. Thinking about something as trivial as getting hit by a door is a waste of precious brain cells, brain cells that could be used to find a cure for cancer, foster world peace, or write an epic poem. Maybe it seemed like a good idea at the time when our glorious front office people were installing the doors. I bet the administrators thought to themselves,” this will make our geeky kids think on their feet, and thus be more prepared for real-life situations!” They couldn’t have been more wrong! Outward swinging doors are only making LASA students more afraid to venture too close to walls, where the doors lurk in the shadows. It’s simple geometry: a circle and the radius swinging out from a central point will inevitably hit any point that is closer than the length of the radius. How the LASA administration could not use their ultra-finetuned brains to figure this out baffles me. What kind of message are we putting out to colleges who are considering admit-

ting LASA students? Most doors in other schools, government buildings and houses swing inward. Thus, we are obviously not in a learning environment that presents real-world situations for our students. Colleges don’t want maladjusted students roaming their hallways, students who are afraid to even enter the classrooms to learn for their fear of getting mauled by door of all things.

This reign of terror needs to stop immediately Not only are the students worrying about the power of the doors, teachers have to face them everyday too. Often times, teachers are walking down the halls with their freshly microwaved lunches, so eager to get back to their rooms to eat them in peace. Little do the teachers know, the doors are lurking not only for their students, but also for them and their freshly warmed meals. The result is marinara pasta strewn through the hair of innocent teachers, severely hampering their ability to teach for the rest of the day. We can’t have ineffective teachers teaching similarly ineffective kids, especially for a simple problem, such as the direction the doors swing. The startling rate of door collision incidences alerts me and other LASA nerds. We, the nerds, feel that something needs to be done quickly before this school-wide crisis becomes even more of an issue. My solution? Simple, we should hire bouncers to patrol every door in the school, ensuring student safety by having them patrol the hallway area that is within a fourfoot radius of the door hinge. With this regiment in place, the nerd population at LASA/LBJ shall never have to worry about a door hitting their precious, scrawny body again.

Let’s Do


Casey Chorens

At the beginning of the 2008-2009 school year, students at the Liberal Arts and Science Academy (LASA) of Austin, Texas had their lunch breaks extended to last for an hour. The excitement of such a long break quickly faded as students realized that there are only so many things you can do at school for an hour of free time every day. Seniors seventeen years and older are allowed to leave the school campus during this time, but no other students may. The current rule is unfair; all students at LASA should be able to leave campus during what is for many the longest stretch of free time in their day. The reason why only seniors seventeen and older are allowed to leave campus is because it is an AISD policy. However, unlike most other AISD high schools, LASA is a magnet school that uses an application process to select the best students. There

...all students at LASA should be able to leave campus during what, for many, is the only time of the day that they get a chance to relax. are some AISD policies from which we are already exempt, such as ones dictating the type of bus students ride and the amount of standardized testing they (cont. 14)



n io t a t r o p s n a r T Terrorizing Hide your children! The C[r]ap Metro Bus is coming. Hannah Wimberley

I board the capital metro bus that AISD has supplied for the school to take us to our homes. I am one of the first people on so i quickly grab my usual seat and wait for my friends. Slowly the bus begins to fill up and it is extremely crowded, there is barely even room to stand, let alone move around, but there is a friendly chatter that fills the atmosphere. Our bus driver sits in the driver’s seat and follows the line of buses leaving the school for their new destinations. We are cruising along when suddenly the bus driver makes a sharp turn to the right onto a street that comes before the first stop. The chatter stops, and people look out the window and at the bus driver. “Is something wrong?”, “What’s going on?” are the questions that I hear. The bus driver circles around through the neighborhood until we

end up back on the street right before the hill, except this time she is driving in the opposite direction. We soon reach the highway that takes us back to school. There are frantic cell phone calls from students telling their parents to come pick them up at the school, because they don’t really know what is going on. Several people go to the front where the bus driver is angrily driving and ask her what is going on. The only answer they get is “I am taking you back!”. This little event took about an hour to an hour and a half out of homework time for the students and the same amount of time away from the parents that were forced to bring their children home. The only explanation that was given to us why the bus driver had done this was that the bus was too loud. Well what do you expect when you are asked to drive a bus filled with 40 students? Does the bus driver think that we will all just sit/stand like little angles and not say a word? I can assure you that the whole time everyone was using “inside voices”, as an elementary teacher would say, and I don’t see what the bus full of people did to push the bus driver over the edge The Austin Independent School District

(AISD) website has posted that starting next year; we will be getting yellow school buses rather than the Capital Metro school buses that we now ride, thanks to the contract that AISD formed with Capital Metro. There of course have been complaints about this new way of transportation by the students. They complain that there will be no air conditioning. Why not open the windows and save some energy? Also I believe that it is a small price to pay for a safe and secure way to get home. Other students my say that it is uncomfortable in those yellow school buses. More uncomfortable than trying to ride in a bus that is supposed to hole about 25 students with 40 students crammed into it. At least these yellow school buses have more sitting room and guarantees safety as well. When that bus driver turned all of those students around I was wondering, what is your job? Isn’t your job to transport people to where they are supposed to be? What are you being paid for? Of course our bus driver was new and when we first got her to drive

our bus she was still training, but if she could not handle a bunch of high school students then she should be driving a different bus. At least with these new school buses that we will be getting, the students can be sure that they will be brought home. The bus driver will be trained to handle students that are loud; usually they drive for elementary school, so high school students should not be a problem. (cont. on page 8) AISD had a contract with Capital metro that allowed the students to be transported by capital Metro buses, but now they do not have to rely on those bus drivers to take care of their students. AISD will be using the money that they would have given to capital metro to buy new school buses and hire new drivers. The capital metro buses, although efficient in the city for every day life, have shown that they cannot be relied on by schools to transport their students. They are not trained to deal with teenagers and buses that are full to the brim.


What do Jaguars think about the bus change?

Don’t Care Happy 59% 0% Dissatisfied 41%



Inside ’ THE

Head The story of his ascension to the editorin-chief of one of the most revered highschool newspapers in the nation. Miles Kruppa



A hooded figure enters the room and sits down at his favorite computer, Joker, named after the Batman character. Today he doesn’t have any work to do on the newspaper; the other editors are waiting for stories from staffers. To the chagrin of his adviser Mrs. Janet Elbom, who repeatedly told him and the other editors not to waste class time, he opens up a video of the show “Wipeout,” a favorite of his. Soon, the action ebbs around him, as curious “pumpkin seedlings” (freshmen staffers) and editors laugh at the video. When serious, LASA senior Aaron SeriffCullick’s demeanor doesn’t give away much. He speaks in a quiet, sure voice, a voice that’s different than the loud, rambunctious voice many people have come to know him for. Aaron Seriff-Cullick has been writing for the Liberator, LBJ’s award winning newspaper, long enough to know when to work and when to play, with play winning out most of the time. For Aaron, newspaper has been somewhat of a fluke of him, as he was placed in the newspaper class by a scheduling mishap; the class happened to fit right into his class layout. “I didn’t know if I’d like [newspaper],” Seriff-Cullick said. “I didn’t have many friends in there. I started [writing] what I knew best, commentaries.” Mrs. Elbom remembers Aaron’s early days in newspaper fondly. While Aaron Seriff-Cullick may have started out as a curlyhaired kid who was reluctantly taking the class, Elbom said that she saw that his tal-

ent was evident from the beginning. “I remember this curly-haired kid walking down the hall with his mother and brother,” Elbom said. “I knew he had talent. His writing was good.” While Aaron Seriff-Cullick began modestly in his articles, he had thoughts of becoming co-editor-in-chief with his friend, current LASA senior Kate Kelly. SeriffCullick said that his dreams of becoming editor-in-chief were fueled by his desire to emulate the editors that had preceded him. He also added that he naturally wanted to be a leader, and that becoming editor-inchief would satiate that need. “I really looked up to the editors, I thought they were really cool,” SeriffCullick said. “I also wanted to fulfill my need to take up a leadership role. I wanted to feel like I was an integral part of a team.” After being an editor for a year, Seriff-Cullick was looking forward to carrying out the dream of becoming co-editor-inchief. However, when Kelly got the job of editor-in-chief, Aaron said that he felt spited. He originally didn’t take it well, but he said that he learned to turn the anger into the will to get better and become editor-in-chief the following year. “At first, when I didn’t become editorin-chief, I was disappointed,” Seriff-Cullick said. “Once I got over my initial disappointment, I decided that I would have to work harder. I knew that getting mad wouldn’t help my cause.” Eventually, Aaron went through the year

I wanted to feel like I was an integral part of a team.

Photo by Miles Kruppa

as the co-editor of Commentary. After working harder than he had earlier in his newspaper years, he was elected as the editor-in-chief of the Liberator, something that Aaron Sereff-Cullick said was one of the proudest moments of his life, let alone newspaper career. “When I became editor I was overjoyed,” Seriff-Cullick said. “It reaffirmed my thoughts about being an editor. It was more than I would have thought.” While Mrs. Elbom saw talent in Aaron early on, she said that it took longer for her to gain supreme trust in Aaron. She also added that the relationship she has built up with him is necessary for the success of the newspaper. “[I started to gain trust in him] after he had been section editor for a year,” Elbom

said. “Advisors and editors have a special relationship, and I think I have that with Aaron.” Aaron Seriff-Cullick, who is also the president of the school’s Cake Club, a club that distributes pastries to classes on Fridays, said that he feels he fills a duty in being the editor of the Liberator. He said that what makes his service to the Liberator, which won a Pacemaker award this year, worthwhile is the sense he gets from being a service to both the LBJ and LASA communities. “I definitely feel a sense of duty to the school being the editor of the newspaper,” Seriff-Cullick said. “One of the biggest parts of newspaper is making sure you cover both schools, and it feels good that I get to do that.”

A Timeline of Aaron Freshman Year - Aaron joins the newspaper staff; begins by writing mostly

commentary articles.

Sophomore Year - Aaron becomes a co-editor of the Life and Feature sec-

tion; plans to become co-editor in chief next year with friend Kate Kelly

Junior Year - Aaron becomes a co-editor of the Commentary section instead

of editor-in-chief; friend Kate Kelly beomes editor-in-chief instead Senior Year -Aaron’s dream finally comes true when he is elected editor-inchief; The Liberator wins pacemaker award



Escaping Russia The story of a young refugee, her schooling and her escape. Hannah Wimberley

She enters the room, her short curly hair which provided UV radiation.” bouncing slightly as she walks. She seats her Liza’s parents soon decided that it would self at the chair closest to the window and be beneficial for Liza’s health for her to move answers the ringing phone. “Priviet.” she says in with her grandparents in Baku. This was in Russian, she must be talking to her dad. because there it was very sunny and warm When translated into English this mean “Hi.” with fruits and vegetables in Baku. When Liza Liza Wimberley lived in the Soviet Union for returned to Vorkuta after completing the 2nd the first thirteen years grade in Baku, her family of her life. She lived moved back to Moscow. through the struggles “My parents always wantthat the country was faced to go back [to Moscow]. ing at the time. School It was the best place to be there was completely in Russia because it was different than what she the capital [it was easier to is now presented with, get food and a job]” and that has helped to Liza’s life in Russia was shape who she is as a focused around indepenperson dence. School was impor“I was born in Mostant to her and the classes cow but soon after that were more advanced than Liza (left) and some of her we moved to the North in America. This made for a Western Republic called friends from school pracdifferent life style than what Komi,” said Liza. “We ticing a dance routine for is common now. moved because my dad, “By the time i was 11 years an upcoming show. after finishing his graduold I was going all over the ate studies, was sent place by myself. We went to there by the soviet government to teach phys- school six days a week, but we were out by ics and math at a college.” around 1:00 PM. Math and science courses At the time Liza was put into an all-day were more advanced in Russia than they are daycare that was run by the government. Her here in the U.S. and we also had very little mother was trying to finish her degree in math homework.” education. The school system was different in During this time things were starting to get Russia than it is here. worse in Russia. The Soviet Union had decided “There was no kindergarten so you went to gear its economy towards producing milistraight to first grade when you were seven,” tary equipment. There was a severe shortage said Liza. “Before you went to first grade you of everything, and things were not getting were either put into a preschool or cared for any better. by your parents.” “People didn’t care about working hard and When Liza was four, her family moved to the producing things. The only way to get anycity called Vorkuta, which is located above the thing was through the black market. There Arctic Circle. The location of this city meant was also a lot of propaganda for important that it was always extremely cold and there people that were a part o the Soviet Commuwas very little sunlight. UV rays help you make nist party. We used to take field trips to watch vitamin D so the schools in Vorkuta had a way this propaganda in movie theaters.” of giving the children UV radiation. Being Jewish added to the difficulties that “In my preschool they would give us UV ra- Liza’s family had. People in Russia were opendiation,” Liza said. ”The teachers would make ly anti-Semitic which made everything a lot us stand around in a circle in our underwear harder for people that were Jewish. and wear goggles to protect our eyes. They “People would insult you anywhere. Being would have a UV lamp on in the middle of us, Jewish also made it harder to get (cont. 14)



The Notorious B.I.G. Casey Chorens

The Life and Times of Ben Isaac Gross

Photo taken an edited by Casey Chorens

Ben Isaac Gross doesn’t do interviews very often, but now he’s ready to talk. He’s ready to talk about his classroom: “My room is salvation. It’s a sanctuary.” He’s ready to talk about troubling childhood experiences: “I was beaten by my dog. He used to spank me all the time with a newspaper, it was terrible… he had opposable thumbs.” He’s ready to talk about pregnancy: “I don’t believe in the cult of motherhood. Or mom-ism. I just don’t know if they should get special rights, like special parking spaces. It’s supposed to be an equal-opportunity country; you can’t give special rights to people.” He’s ready to talk, and now it’s time to listen. Ben Gross is a fourth-year teacher and the head of the English department at the Liberal Arts and Science Academy of Austin, Texas. His personality is a precarious juxtaposition of intellect, irreverence, and biting humor, and has made him one of the most notorious teachers to ever walk the school’s halls. What many people first notice about Ben Gross is his flamboyancy. His wardrobe ranges from brightly colored skinny jeans to sweaters complete with pocket squares to trim corduroy blazers. Gross explained that dressing smartly is important to him because “one of us could get off a plane in Europe and fit in, and another of us would get off the plane and look like a slovenly American.” Even though some would view this remark as a slight against our country, Gross also defended American ideals. “Everyone [says that they hate] America, but when you’re in some foreign country and there’s riots and stuff, your ass is running to the American consulate and that’s where you’re hiding,” he said. “You want those M16s.”

Gross, the sponsor of LASA’s Philosophy Club, also seems to encourage interesting perspectives from his students. “I’m much more interested in the tales,” Gross said. “As Oscar Wilde [said], modern life would be very tedious if the truth were pure and simple.” Of course, not many of the popular stories students have heard about Gross are pure and simple. A recent anecdote involved Gross’ reaction to LASA’s Kiss-the-Pig fundraising contest. This contest had a lot of controversy surrounding it because Gross had threatened to give his senior English students an impossibly difficult final exam if he won and was forced to kiss the pig. However, he did not win and did not have to kiss the pig, although it’s too early to say how difficult his final exams will be. “I did beat you all,” Gross remarked to his students as he leaned back in a chair at the center of his room, facing the Wall of College Rejection Letters (“It’s a place for kids to wallow together in their misery of getting rejected,” said Gross. “Of not being good



enough.”). “Actually, collectively we beat you all,” corrected a senior who declined to give her name. “Yeah, that’s true, but I was like General Custard,” replied Gross. The student then explained why LASA students and faculty wanted so badly for Mr. Gross to win the contest and be forced to kiss a pig. “Everyone just wants to see a proud man shamed,” she said. “That’s really all they want… So it’s not the fact that it’s kissing a pig, it’s the fact that Mr. Gross is proud, and speaks kind of effeminately, and dresses really nice, and is arrogant.” Gross supported the “proud man shamed” theory. “Yes, it’s true… that was what was involved. Everyone just wanted to see a proud, fancy man shamed.” However, Gross didn’t seem to mind the feelings of ill-will towards him. “I’d rather my own students be scared of me, but they’re not,” he said. “[I’m told] I’m way too affable.” Although Gross is a teacher, and teachers generally are fond of children, don’t expect to see any little Grosses running around soon. “I’m not sure if I want [kids], but they’re a great natural resource,” Gross said. “They have little hands that can work very well in small spaces. And there are lots of mines and electrical equipment that needs to be worked on with really small hands. Someone’s making those little soccer balls.” Perhaps Gross is satisfied with his life as it is. He lives in a country with safe embassies, is a style icon for hundreds of students, and even enjoys his job. “It would be really nice if I was just rich and didn’t have to do anything,” he said. “But the next best thing, I guess, is teaching.”


oc e r p g ” . n e i l y p d o stu pe e e t k i i l h w “I d r i e ,w cious

“I like to keep my fingers close to the ground. Or my ear, I guess, would be the saying. It helps knowing things about kids because then you have leverage on them. Psychological leverage.”

“I don’ t have friends , I have a wife.” “I find a way to like ysomething about ever one. Same thing with .” presidential elections

Let’s Do Lunch (cont. 2) must take. This policy shouldn’t apply to us, either. Nothing is more important to LASA students than academics, and they are generally much more responsible than their peers. Because of this, LASA students are able to handle privileges that other high school students cannot, such as long lunches. If all students were able to leave the campus, they could use their lunch breaks more productively. Students could go to other libraries or computer labs (LASA’s is often unavailable during lunch as LBJ classes are still using it and get first priority), receive tutoring from a variety of sources, and even attend short club field trips. Or, students could just enjoy a delicious lunch at a restaurant with friends. LASA students are under a lot of pressure, and having a chance to unwind in the middle of their rigorous school day would be beneficial for the students’ mental health. Being allowed eat an off-campus lunch would also be beneficial for students’ physical health. Cafeteria food simply isn’t very nutritious. Popular options at the LASA/LBJ cafeteria include hamburgers, burritos, and pizza, none of which are the best foods to fuel students through a long day of schoolwork. In addition to this, the cafeteria offers very few meals that can be eaten by the school’s sizable vegetarian and vegan populations. Nor do many students have the time or inclination to pack a lunch to bring from home, and are forced to eat cafeteria food. Some parents may worry that it is unsafe for their child to leave the school campus for lunch. However, changing the policy would increase student safety. Rather than sneaking off campus with no one knowing where they are, students can have their parents sign a permission form allowing them to leave campus. Students can also sign out of the school before lunch and say where they are going. That way, parents can know where their child is at all times. LASA students excel at managing their

time. Most have to be in order to maintain good grades at a challenging magnet school. Currently, many of these students are wasting an hour of their time every day during lunch because they are unable to do anything else. A simple amendment of AISD policy could allow all LASA students to maximize the potential of this time.

LBJ Eats

East Side Cafe: Organic American food at 2113 Manor Road Sonic Drive-In: Classic LBJ hangout serves slushies on 7112 Ed Bluestein Blvd. Thundercloud Subs: Get a taste of their tuna sandwich at 6501 Highway 290 East H-E-B: Grocery store stocks fresh produce and frozen meals next to Sonic

Escaping Russia (cont. 10) into universities and to get decent jobs. Everything kept getting worse in the Soviet Union, especially for Jews. By the time we emigrated it was almost impossible for a Jew to get into a University” People were not allowed to leave the Soviet Union. Through some political negotiations Jews were allowed to emigrate to Israel. Once they were out of the Soviet Union they could make a choice about where they wanted to go. Liza Wimberley holding the Soviet flag for a ceremony




Compiled by Miles Kruppa

the diving captain

of LASA and composed b a , in ta ap C as g The Divin Jenkins as well lin o C d an er rb e earned seniors Wells Ba Lauterstein, hav ke Ja d an e al r spunky Erin Teasd llowing for thei fo l ca lo a es lv ary themse as their legend l el w as k n u -p ffeehouse brand of pop and Emo’s.At co k aw h o M e th shows at o Means ith their song “N w ff o d te ar r the st they o more songs fo tw g n yi la p re o nd Maybe” bef , the crowd fou ly al tu en Ev . ce n n’t admiring audie ut the band did b e, ag st e th to hantly. their way on their set triump g in h is n fi t, ea skip a b

Photo by Losa D.


As the sun sta rted to set, LA SA sophomore and Peter W. p s Alec H. ut on their firs t live show at Their energeti coffeehouse. c performance which went b yonce, the Div etween Being Captain, a nd their own was an entert orignial music aining respit from the trad songwriter fa it io nal singerre. P.A. System may have sho dience with th cked the aueir raunchine ss, but accom goal in gettin p li sedh their g the audience to stand up fo time in this ye r the first ar’s coffeehou se. Photo by Chris Daemrich

Photo by Chris D.

LASA freshman Zoe Y. made her coffeehouse debut with her witty, sincere song “Don’t Look Back.” Her personal performance captivated the audience, drawing much applause. Zoe, however, isn’t an inexperienced competitor at talent competitions, as she won Kealing Idol the year before for her singing and piano playing. Her performance gives people hope for the future of coffeehouse.

Zoe Y.

Photo by Chris D.



Nerd School Essentials Compiled by Hannah Wimberley



Skechers or crocs with socks

The comfort of Crocs is an added bonus to their fashion statement. Their Lightweight material allows for swift movement in the hallways of LASA/LBJ.


Special Folder that holds all previous math tests with encouraging stickers Always good for boosting ones self-esteem

3 2

A rolling back pack or large back pack that is hitched up high These back packs help people carry around loads of school work at one time without straining their back. The rolling back pack also has the added use of being able to easily run down the hallways of the school.

Mini Chess Set

A must have for the student hiding in the library during lunch. Also a great accessory for math club field trips


T.I 89 Calculator at all times Roaming the halls of LASA it is necessary to

have your TI-89 Calculator with you AT ALL TIMES. You never know when you will need to do a complicated math equation or play an intense game of Bloc Dude.


This I believe: Casey Chorens

I believe that robots can save our country.

Now, I’m not crazy, and I’m not talking about robots rescuing humanity as part of some far-fetched scenario out of a Sci-Fi movie. No, I think that robots can save us by changing our culture. This is an idea that I got directly from one of the competitions that my high school robotics team participates in. It’s called FIRST, and its goal is to create a world where science and technology are celebrated. It might sound crazy at first, but how cool would it be to live in a place where being called a nerd is about the biggest compliment you can receive? I know that’s it’s possible. When my team has held robot demonstrations at movie theaters, I’ve watched little kids beg to be late to a boxoffice hit about some star athlete so that they can spend more time driving our robots. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with having sports heroes, but why not have academic heroes, too? We need them, because the job market of the future isn’t in basketball or football. It’s in science and technology, and ensuring the future

health of our economy means that we need to get kids interested in careers that will be in demand, and now. Being on a robotics team has allowed me to work with actual engineers who show us how seemingly boring things we learn in school can be applied in the real world. Maybe you had to memorize a few confusing physics formulas when you were younger. Well, when we build our robots, these professionals help us apply those laws to create an incredible machine. These experiences have convinced me that every student should have the opportunity to be taught by people outside of their school staff, because this introduces them to fields that they can have careers in. I’ve also learned a lot of lessons that aren’t taught in school. As my team volunteers in the community, I’ve learned that the best part about having knowledge is being able to share it, which happens to be our team’s motto. Being on a robotics teams also means developing business skills, because we have to really work to find money to pay for supplies and competition fees. We raise money by holding fundraisers and seeking cooperate sponsors, both of which require a lot of time and effort. But seeing our hard work pay off by ending up with an awesome robot builds our confidence in ourselves, and our dedication to something we’re passionate about. Robotics is a wonderful tool for inspiring interest in science, giving kids someone to look up to, and teaching crucial life-lessons. Like most teenagers, my views and opinions change almost daily, but I know that I will always support the mission of giving every student the chance to get involved in robotics.



Robotics tesy of LASA Photos Cour

The 20 09 FIR ST Rob o otics C st e i t i l i c ompet fa r f l l u o o o o ition n r. d h e c t i e s T i v , e s c r n o e t na Sci U.S. se ting STEM ( iculum. f o p u en urr A gro implem ing, Math) c t u o b learn a gy, Engineer o

at experiments e c n ie c s m r lps kids perfo e. Our team he ildren’s hom an Austin ch

rd, irman’s awa a h C l a n io g re s the er winning a accomplishe t s e b t a Our team aft th m celnizes the tea of the U.S. to re u lt u c which recog e th n to change y. d technolog FIRST missio n a e c n ie c s ebrate

A student an d mentor wo rk through the design proce ss.

Break 19

Fitting in was my goal. Not only that, it was my obsession. Hannah Wimberley







itting in was my goal. Not only that, it was my obsession. I had always viewed myself as the strange one in school, the one that didn’t fit in. I had unruly, curly brown hair that was different from everyone else and i was lanky and tall. As soon as I reached middle school I made a silent vow that i would become friends with new people, just start over completely. The fitting in obsession became so intense that it engulfed my life and took over everything that i had. All that I felt was numbness, because I was only what other people wanted me to be, and therefore I didn’t feel human. I started cutting to feel something again, to

flesh. Immediate relief coursed through my body as the pain from the cut sunk in. That was it, I was addicted. Cutting became a regular thing for me. I was 12 when I started, and because I was at the age when I was just starting puberty, I never learned how to deal with any of my emotions. Whenever I felt sad, I cut. Whenever I felt angry, I cut. Whenever I felt insecure, I cut. This went on until my mom found my razor. I was surprised that she didn’t make a big deal out of it, she just threw it in the trash and never mentioned it again (after she found out about my problem I asked her about that event and she told me that she didn’t even remember doing that). Now that I didn’t have my preferred cutting object I began to frantically search for something new to use. I settled on pencils and pens and found that if I rubbed the pen or pencil back and forth against my skin while applying pressure, it would make a fairly deep cut. I was back on my usual schedule. The cutting took over for my emotions. I didn’t have any feelings excepts for when I was cutting, that is when I allowed myself to cry or scream in anger. I shut down to people and didn’t interact. I didn’t want to talk to my friends or my family. As soon as I came home from school i would shut myself in my room and not come out until dinner. My grades began to suffer because of my depression. bring myself back to reality. I suppose it all I started to not turn in any of my work and started when I was visiting my grandparents ended up failing most of my classes until my house and was helping my family clean out mom found out and made me do all of the their bathroom. I was looking through a bag makeup work so that i could at least pass the of stuff when I came across an old razor. it 7th grade. was the kind that was fairly wide and had the The summer before 8th grade was a blur razor on both sides. You were supposed to and pretty soon i was back in school and in replace the razor when it got old. I thought worse shape than ever. I confessed to my back to someone telling me about cutting and friend about my problem and she was very how it made some people feel better, so si- understanding. It was during P.E. and we were lently I slid it into my pocket and waited for walking around the gym trying to avoid doing the right time to be alone. any actual work. I all of a sudden felt the need I had never considered cutting until that to tell someone, because I had never told anypoint. when I came across the razor, that was one about my problem before. I turned to her when I decided to try it. I quietly walked into and told her my story straight out and she my room and took the razor out of my pocket. listened and told me that if I ever needed anyI slid it across my left wrist and was surprised thing, she was there for me. to see that it cut open a small section of my This was also the year that my mom found

By the time that i reached 7th grade i had completely lost who i was, my real personality, my real friends, and what i really wanted.

o u t about my problem. My family had decided to go out for dinner because we had a coupon for pizza. I was starting to feel pretty down and I didn’t want to go anywhere, but my parents made me go. I didn’t talk to anyone during the whole dinner, I was just thinking about what i was going to do when i got home. We left the restaurant and I broke down in a fit of tears and screaming. I didn’t’ know what was happening, I had not planned this. My mom rushed to my side and asked me what was going on. I couldn’t answer her because I was screaming while scratching my face and pulling my hair. My mom sat in the back with me all the way home as I had my melt down. When we reached home I confessed to my mom that I had been cutting myself and showed her all of the scars and fresh cuts on my wrists, hands, and legs. My mom tried to keep herself together but I could tell that she was hurt to see that I was unhappy and was hurting myself to release the pain that I felt inside. That was the last time that i showed her my scars and I continued to cut in secret. The only other person that i had ever told was my friend, she was probably the most understanding. The reason that my mom never found out about cutting myself was because I did a pretty good job of covering up my scars and true emotions. I always put on a happy smiling face when i was around my mom and my friends. I wore long sleeve shirts and jeans all the time. Along with my long sleeve shirts I would wear jackets for extra security. I didn’t want people to see my scars and cuts, in fact I was fairly self conscious about them. The long jackets that I wore also covered up my right hand which had (and still does have) scars all over it. I started to use scissors when I became even more involved with my cutting. It completely enveloped me and it became my life. Suicide thoughts had become a daily thing and I had a few measly attempts to kill myself, all of them I knew would not work but it was the thought of it that made me feel better. I fell asleep at night thinking about putting a razor to my wrist and dragging it the long way until I bled to death. Razors haunted my dreams

and all of the dreams that I had involved me cutting or killing myself. My true moment of realization that I needed help was when I was lying in bed and listening to music on my ipod. My mind started to wonder and before I knew it I was thinking about cutting, just what it meant to me and why I did it. I don’t know what it was that triggered what I felt next, but it was what cruel. I became so depressed that i was crying myself to sleep at night, right after cutting. My mom finally decided that I needed to see a therapist. During my first appointment I realized how much I was actually holding back, and how good it felt to let all of it out. Therapy became a regular thing for me and i would visit my therapist once a week. I had to make a promise to her that if I was on the verge of killing myself i would call her, but luckily after i started to see her it never reached that point. My true moment of realization that I needed to stop cutting was when I was lying in bed and listening to music on my ipod. My mind started to wonder and before i knew it i was thinking about cutting, just what it meant to me and why I did it. I don’t know what it was that triggered what I felt next, but it was what truly made me want to stop hurting myself. I realized that not only was I mangling my body, but I was hurting my family and friends. This was never my intention, and that is why I wanted to stop. You may be wondering why I am writing this memoir. This is my way of letting go of the past and coming to terms with what i used to be. I look back on my old life and tell myself “This is what i was, and this is not what I am going to be anymore.” I am still attending therapy every other week and i have been put on anti-depressants. My life has improved drastically, and i will never return to the person that i was before.



School Styles


Miles Kruppa Photo By Miles Kruppa


Photo By Hannah Wimberley


“I would call my style neat, organized, and clean.” LASA freshman Changseok L. said. “People need a fashion update.”


“My style reflects my personality because I’m very energetic all the time,” LASA freshman Chad L. said. “[I would describe my fashion as] colorful.”

At LBJ, fashion is a diverse signifier of different cliques. Ranging from “swag” to prep, the different styles all have their unique clothing items and ways of wearing them. Whether it be the baggy shorts of the “swag” style or the American Eagle polos of the preps, clothing items are what largely differentiate the various cultures of different cliques. In this photo essay, those different styles are explored through the students that model them everyday.


Photo By Miles Kruppa




“[My fashion style] is smart,” LASA freshman Carlos G-J. said. “Geeks and nerds don’t have any bearing on style, but I think my style identifies me as one.”


“If you think you swag, you is swag,” LBJ student who asked to be anonymous said. “You can just tell man, the whole [outfit] is swag.” Photo by Casey Chorens



The Diving Captain -Casey Chorens

Photo by Casey Chorens

On a warm Wednesday evening at Jo’s Coffe, I sat down to talk with one of Austin’s most talented high school bands about everthing from EPs to robots and rifles (from left: Erin Teasdale, Jake Lauterstein, Colin Jenkins, Wells Barber). So, everyone really wants to know how the Diving Captain go its name. [Wells] My condition for being in the band was that it was named The Diving Captain, and it came from a random name generator that made something kind of faintly like “The Diving Captain”. It was like “The Driving Commander and His Muffin Friends” and that’s what I got from it. We don’t have any muffin friends. We do enjoy muffins though. It’s a great name. When you do a Google

image search for it, you get all these pictures of overweight men in scuba suits. [Colin?] The best part is that we put all of those on. They weren’t there before. [Erin] Those are all of us last year, before Atkins and the South Beach Diet. Are ya’ll going to have a CD coming out? [Erin] We’ll have two EPs eventually. [Colin] Hopefully this summer-ish… ish. [Wells] The first one should be out in a month or two.

[Erin] We really aren’t good with deadlines. We’ll tell you when it’s done. It’s gonna rock your ears off. Yeah, I bet. We’ve been listening to the five songs you’ve got on Myspace, and they’re great. [Colin] Some of those will be on the new EP and some of those will not. [Erin] Our plan is to have two EPs. It’s really kind of a jerk move but I think you’ll like it in the end. So, on one EP we’ll some of the songs that everyone knows now, maybe two or three, and then some brand new songs. Then on the next one, it’ll be the same thing but with other songs. [Other guys laugh] [Erin] I have a concussion! There are a lot of kids at LASA who are really into music and playing music, and maybe even starting a band. So if you could give them advice, what would it be? [Erin] Do not give up. I’m telling you right now, you can get all the concussions in the world and you can still be in a good band. Really though, I think that if you really want to be in a band and if that’s really what you want to do, not just as a hobby, but if you really want to make music as a career, and I wouldn’t suggest it, because the guy [a man next to us is strumming a beat-up guitar] over here’s still losing, the best thing you can do is to just really work hard at it. [Wells] All we do is just go for every show that we possibly can, because you never know which one someone who can help you out will be at. And be exceptionally nice and courteous to the people at every club. That’s the reason we’ve played at Emo’s five times in the last two months. We’re nice guys. And I think one of the most important things is to play every show like it’s the biggest show that you’re ever going to play. [Colin] It’s a lot of work. But if it’s what you’re into, it’s worth it. [Erin] Just don’t give up, that’s the thing. Unless you suck. [Colin] There’s a lot of people who should give up…

[Erin] Yeah, I’m too encouraging. [Wells] Because otherwise Sanjaya happens. Sanjaya! Set the boys and girls on fire! [Erin] Did you just make..? Not even, like, the current? [Colin] Wells, you are a loser. [Colin] Don’t watch American Idol if you want to be-[All] Hey, it’s Jake! [Erin] Was it a really long run from your house? [Jake] Just a jog. [Erin] And you get here in all flannel, I see! [Wells] Didn’t break a sweat. [Jake] Do I need to make an introduction? The Diving Captain is a non-for-profit organization, designed to… [Colin] Anti-profit organization. [Wells] Yeah, we are definitely not for profit. [Erin] On the rare occasion that we make money, I don’t know if we’ve ever not spent it on food right after we play. Hey, whatever makes you happy. [All] Food! [Colin] Playing good shows. [Wells] I think we can agree on music and food. [Colin] ...Being really mature. [Erin] Cracking jokes with your bro-friends. [Wells] Acting our age. [Jake] We play too much. [Wells] No we don’t. [Erin] Like, the play play, or the play music? [Jake] Like the play play. [Erin] I’m sorry, that’s part of our boyish charm. Okay, this question is a little embarrassing, but we had few girl fans who really wanted to know… [Erin] Boxers or briefs? No, that wasn’t it. [Band debates the merits of different styles of underwear] [Erin] I mean, I wear boxers, but I understand the need for boxer-briefs. Well, they wanted to know, quote, how you

guys got to be so sexy. [Jake] I work out a lot. [Wells] Yeah. Working out, jogging places. [Erin] Here, we’ll put it this way: we’ll let them make up their own story for that. Or you can check our blog at [Wells] ... [Colin] That doesn’t work. [Wells] ... .gov. I just got a new email address that’s [Colin] Wait, I have a cool answer! By being in a band. Do ya’ll have a fun band story you can tell us? [Wells] How about in Louisiana when we all slept in one bed with an assault rifle? [Jake] I found an assault rifle in Wells’ aunt’s closet. I also found really big motorcycle helmet, and I put it on and went out ot where they were eating. [Wells] It was f**king weird too, because I walked into the house and they were both out on the porch, and I looked in the mirror and there was nothing there. Then I looked back in the mirror and Jake’s standing there with an assault rifle. [Colin] Same trip, the day after, we got terrified by a Roomba. [Erin] Oh yeah, this is a good one. We were all sleeping in the same bed, because we’re a band. You’re allowed to do that. There were like five beds in the house but… [Wells] The band that sleeps together… sleeps together. [Erin] So I woke up in the morning, and I heard this ‘erghh, ernnngh’, and the night before we were talking about this robot called ‘Big Dog’. I don’t know if you guys know what that is, but just look that up. In the quote, tell them to look “Big Dog” up on YouTube. It will scare the living shit out of you. [Colin] It’s a lot different than a Roomba. [Erin] I almost woke you guys up in tears because I thought somebody was robbing the house. I don’t know what happened after that.

[Wells] We took a baseball bat to the Roomba. [Jake] We have so many good stories. [Wells] Then we got freaked out in the cemetery. [Erin] This was all on the same trip. We drove to Louisiana to play one show. [Wells] It was the one show tour. [Erin] And for whatever reason, we decided to go to a cemetery at like 11:30. It was really dark, and I don’t know if you’ve ever been to a cemetery in one of the Southern water states, but it’s all like… [Wells] Creepy. [Colin] We just scared ourselves. We were telling ridiculous stories, then we were like ‘Oh man, look at this!’. It was one of the big aboveground ones that was crypt-style, and we turned the corner and the corner was just gone, and we just freaked out and ran like girls to the exit. [Wells] Only, before that, we ran by the church, and the door creaked open, and we saw an organ and a wheelchair. [Erin] I don’t know which of you was like ‘let’s go in there’. [Wells] Me and Jake went in there. [Jake] I wanted to play the organ. [Erin] Did you?! [Jake laughs] No. [Erin] Okay, thank God, because there would have been like twenty hands busting out at you. And see, that’s only from one trip. There are just too many… Ya’ll are seniors, right? So what’s next for the band? [Colin] Reunion tour in twenty years. [Jake] We don’t think in the future. I guess it’s unwritten. [Wells] Chances are, if our lead guy leaves… I don’t know how that’s going to work. [Colin] I mean, the three us of will definitely be around in some form or another. [Erin] But it won’t be the same.

Band Member Bios Name: Wells Barber Breakfast food: Three microwavable sausage biscuits and a cup of juice. Instrument: drums Favorite TDC song: Hey Sarah Greatest band moment: When Colin hit his crash symbol with his tamborine and knocked it across the stage. Favorite drink: Grape Dr. Pepper made himself at the 7-11 by his school. Most delicious food: sandwiches Best music-themed movie: Kiss vs. The Phantom of the Park

Name: Jake Lauterstein Breakfast food: Cigarette. Instrument: vocals and guitar Favorite TDC song: Uh-huh Greatest band moment: Falling between two amps during a show. Favorite drink: Fountain Pepsi wiht fresh lemon squeezed in. Most delicious: Cheetos (straight-up food) Best music-themed themed movie: Riding in Vans with Boys

Name: Erin Teasdale Breakfast food: Nothing. Instrument: guitar Favorite TDC song: Catfight Greatest band moment: Stealing bacon after playing at the Belmont Hotel. Least favorite drink: Vanilla Coke Most delicious food: Po’ Boys made by Wells’s aunt. Best music-themed movie: Finding Nemo First song he learned to play: Damnit, taught by Wells

Name: Colin Jenkins Breakfast food: Mountain Dew. Instrument: bass Favorite TDC song: Hey Sarah Greatest band moment: The feast they had at Kirby Lane Cafe after playing at Emo’s. Favorite drink: Coffee with Mexican vanilla ice cream Most delicious style of food: Ethiopian Best music-themed movie: Almost Famous



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