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s g n i n n i g e b w e n t House n la r P s o k a f O r y a w lanco’s, Rive g B f o n i re u s k lo c Ma says farewell to landmarks with




by Matthew Neal and Megan Shen

purposes,” Desjardins said. “Tax gets assessed as of Jan. 1 and is for 12 months. If the plant house closed in March, the school would still be responsible for the plant house’s tax burden for that full year.” Since Winston Hall and the surrounding areas will close in early spring, Upper School parking and carpool will shift to

Taub Property Timeline

able, down-to-earth bar. The way this place is, everybody calls each other by first ancing bears, prancing horses and name.” other leafy animals on the Buffalo Members of the SJS community have Speedway median will soon disappear. enjoyed the restaurant’s casual atmosphere. River Oaks Plant House closed on Dec. “My favorite memory from Blanco’s is 31, 2013 and is in the process of moving when my wife and I met two of my high to its new location at 6103 Kirby Dr. At school friends there and danced all night,” the end of September, the Board biology teacher Doug Elliott said. of Trustees gave the plant house a “We just put on the boots, did the 90-day notice that their lease would two-step and had fun.” not be renewed at the end of the The plant house has also been a “What I’ll miss the most is all the year to accommodate an earlier long-standing neighborhood favorite. friends I’ve made over all these construction timeline for the Cam“It’s just like a family,” manager pus Center. David Sapar said. “Most of our years.” Blanco’s Bar and Grill, also customers come almost every week, acquired by SJS in the purchase so we know their tastes and what Blanco’s co-owner Karin Barnes flowers they like.” of the Taub property, closed Nov. 30, 2013. Blanco’s co-owner Karin The plant house grew from humble Barnes had served Southern combeginnings into a Houston institufort food in the building for over 30 years. the land currently occupied by the plant tion. “It’s very sad, but when you rent a busihouse. A temporary building on the Taub “It used to be just a very small tent ness that’s sitting on a tremendous piece of property will house the Business and Adwhere we sold flowers in buckets,” Sapar real estate, you know it’s going to get sold vancement offices, whose current locations said. eventually,” she said. in the Quad will be occupied by College Sapar’s uncle, Daniel Saparzadeh, has After discovering asbestos in Winston, Counseling and Admissions respectively. owned the River Oaks Plant House since the administration was forced to alter the Blanco’s will be utilized as a food prepa1983. He was a struggling Iranian immitimeline for demolition. Asbestos removal ration site for all divisions of the school grant who started working at the plant requires a more intensive procedure. during construction. shop in 1977 while completing his master’s “There are government regulations about “We’re seeing if we can put the old kitch- degree in mechanical engineering at the how to remove asbestos properly, so we en equipment into Blanco’s,” Desjardins University of Houston. are forced to back things up,” Headmaster said. “We won’t be serving there, but the “My uncle came to this country to go to Mark Desjardins said. “It involves preparfood will be prepared and then delivered to school, got a part-time job here and ended ing the building versus just knocking it the North and South campuses.” up buying the place to make it into what it down with a bulldozer.” Barnes worked at the restaurant-bar is today,” Sapar said. As a tax-exempt organization, the school since its establishment in 1982 by Barry A few weeks into his tenure as owner, Saavoids a significant tax burden by ending E. Debakey, the son of renowned cardiac parzadeh, with his experience in mechanthe operation of the plant house by 2014. surgeon Michael Debakey. When Barry ical engineering, had the idea to design Taxes are approximately $10,000 per passed away in 2007, he left Blanco’s to his topiaries, which soon became a distinctive month. son and Barnes. feature of the establishment. “Since we are a non-profit, we don’t pay “They call us the ‘Broken Spoke’ of River “The plant house is unique because of taxes on the land if it is used for school Oaks,” Barnes said. “It’s a very comfortour topiaries, and we have one of the larg-

est factories in the country,” Sapar said. Blanco’s experienced similar development through the years, growing from a simple Southern diner to a vibrant local hangout and music venue. “We started hiring local bands, typically country, to help build up business in the evening,” Barnes said. Continued on Page 6

NEWS...............................................2 FEATURES........................................4 ENTERTAINMENT.............................7

SPORTS.........................................16 ODDS & ENDS.......................................18 PHOTOSTORY................................20


Online this Month Winter play preview, SAC elections, South Asian Affinity Group Assembly coverage

OPINIONS........................................9 IN FOCUS.............................................10 BEYOND..........................................14


Blanco’s Opens


River Oaks Plant House Incorporated

November 30, 2013 Blanco’s Closes

December 31

River Oaks Plant House Closes

Early January 2014 CC and Advancement move

Early February

Winston Hall Closes for Asbestos Removal

Early April

Campus Center Construction Starts


Blanco’s food prep ready

August 2015

Campus Center Construction Ends *Construction dates are estimates




In Brief News around campus US Head Search Interim Head Ann Louise Hagerty is working with the Upper School Head Search Committee to find her replacement before retiring at the end of the school year. “The experience has been wonderful,” Hagerty said. “This is one job I haven’t had at SJS, though I’ve had several other jobs. It’s probably a good way to put a period at the end of the sentence of my career.” The committee, co-chaired by Upper School counselor Pat Reynolds and Head of Lower School Chris Curran, has worked in conjunction with the search firm Brigham Hill Consultancy to narrow the field of candidates to three finalists. The finalists visited campus this week for interviews with administrators, members of the Board of Trustees, faculty, members of the Parents’ Guild executive council and a student panel. The names and background information about the candidates will be released on The Review Online after the completion of interviews.

ISAS Update More than 3,800 people are expected to arrive on campus during the 2014 ISAS Arts Festival, April 3-5. Event organizers need help from SJS community members. When Kinkaid hosted the event in 2009, the school required an estimated 300 parent volunteers to run the festival. “I’m looking forward to attending the ISAS workshops,” sophomore Amy Dong said. “Learning from guest choreographers, artists and others is an amazing experience when you’re surrounded by friends and other fine art enthusiasts.” Vendors, including Firehouse Subs, HEB/Central Market, Monster PBJ, Grizzaffi Coffee Catering, Canopy Restaurant and River Oaks Doughnuts, will provide food for the festival. Ten percent of the vendors’ revenue will go to the school to cover festival costs.

that the opportunity to hang out with the dogs and have a snack would decrease some of that stress.” Freshman Lauren Biegel said, “It was a fun, original way to de-stress amid the insanity of exams.”

Senior Country Remodel


Puppy love Seventh grade student Angela Whittle takes a break from her midterms by playing with one of therapy dogs from the Faithful Paws Agency in the Traditions Room.

Three volunteer-run concessions stands will also operate out of the gym, the US teachers’ lounge and a Lower School classroom. A percentage of proceeds will benefit the community service program. All SJS fine arts programs will perform or display their work at the festival.

ies 4 Kids. The students met at Higgason’s house and baked approximately 300 cookies for underprivileged children, Dec. 19. Volunteers of Kids’ Meals delivered the cookies along with lunches to families who were unable to purchase food for children too young to receive lunch at school.

Winter Break Community Service Projects

Smile for the Canines

Over the break, students embraced their charitable holiday spirit and organized several large community service projects. Sophomores Julia Boyce, Isabelle Draper and Omar Stocks throw a birthday party every month at The Center to celebrate the residents whose family members have died or are unable to visit. The most recent party was held Jan. 5th. “We were inspired by [junior] Hally Carver and [senior] Stacie Dudley’s Star of Hope Birthday parties,” Boyce said. “It’s just a fun way for everyone to celebrate and for the residents to come together, as well as a really great way for students to be able to interact with the residents.” Senior Kristen Santiago and sophomores Noel Higgason, Maya Bhandari and Julia Moody also recently contributed to Kook-

Last month, Middle and Upper School students packed into the Traditions Room after their history exams to enjoy the company of therapy dogs. “A couple of years ago, I learned that during finals week Rice University brought in dogs for their students to help alleviate stress,” biology teacher Paula Angus said. “I thought this would be a great idea for our students.” Dogs were provided by the Faithful Paws Pet Therapy Agency. The organization often visits hospitals or nursing homes, bringing their trained therapy dogs to interact with patients. “We decided to have the therapy dogs available for students and faculty during exams week because we know how stressful that week can be,” Director of All-School Wellness Jennifer Welch said. “We hoped

A group of students convened three times to discuss the future design of the new Senior Country with architects from the firm Kendall/Heaton Associates. Architect Jory Alexander is spearheading the project. “As a rising senior, being a part of designing our own space was great,” junior Tanvi Varadachary said. At their last meeting, students went to McCoy Workplace Solutions, a furniture store that specializes in office design. “I’ve been greatly impressed by the efforts of the student committee,” Dean of Students Stephen Popp said. “The students are providing great insight and perspective. I’m excited to see the finished product.” The student committee will meet again later this semester.

Wellness Survey Check the Review Online in the next few weeks for polls from Director of Wellness Jennifer Welch. Your responses will be anonymous and are greatly appreciated.

Official SAC News This month, SAC will be discussing and planning for upcoming big events in the second semester like Field Day and House Games. We have also been thinking about having a Winston Celebration Week to commemorate Winston Hall, which will be torn down this semester. Have a great start to the second semester. by Head Prefect Sira Ntagha The Review wishes our Head Prefect a speedy recovery from her recent jaw surgery.

Compiled by Brooke Kushwaha, Matthew Steiner, Irene Vazquez, Michael VerMeulen and Chris Zimmerman

Faces in the Cloisters

Get to know your classmates better

Justin Kao

Christina McGee

Jack Simmons

Freshman Justin Kao has no problem balancing school life and gymnastics, or balancing on anything else for that matter. “I think of gymnastics as my flesh and blood,” Kao said. In 2011, Kao was ranked first regionally in the allaround. The region consists of seven southern states including Texas. In 2012, he competed in the Men’s USA Gymnastics Junior Olympic National Championships. He was only four years old when he took up the sport. “I think my parents put me in gymnastics because I was socially awkward,” Kao said. “I hated it at first.” Kao considers the pommel horse to be his best event. He trains at the Houston Gymnastics Center six times a week though he has no aspirations to go pro. “I’m just doing it because I enjoy it,” Kao said. “I don’t really feel like doing it as a professional, because then it’s like a business. I’d feel more pressure to do well.”

Christina McGee, the only freshman in Terpsichore, first twirled in her ballet slippers when she was only five. Although her mother first had to force her to take lessons, Christina soon developed a deep passion for different dance styles including hip-hop, jazz, modern and ballet, her favorite. “Dance has taught me that it takes time and effort to get something right,” Christina said. “I’ve learned how important it is to be patient with yourself.” Dancing seems to run in the McGee family. Christina joins her junior sister Eleni in Terpsichore. “My sister has done what I’m doing now, so I look to her as an example,” Christina said. In addition to Terpsichore rehearsal three days a week, Christina dances for two to three hours on weekdays and five hours on Saturdays at Houston Ballet Academy.

Senior soccer captain Jack Simmons vividly remembers her encounter with legendary forward Mia Hamm at the 2013 U17 Youth Soccer Championships. “She talked to us about passion for the game and inspired us all with her words,” Simmons said. “She told us that we were all insanely qualified to even be competing at [the national] level and detailed her life story. It felt awesome hearing praise from someone as amazing as her.” Out of 10,000 teams, Simmons’ team and 7 others qualified. Mia Hamm addressed all the teams at nationals in Kansas. “She was super sweet, signing everything we asked her to sign and taking selfies with everyone patiently.” Simmons plans to play soccer at MIT next year. Simmons said, “I’m so excited to play soccer in college with one of my friends that I met at the regional championships.”

Compiled by Amy Liu, Brooke Kushwaha and Pallavi Krishnarao Photos by Kelly Buckner




School begins to integrate, consolidate online experience with Google Apps for Education Ritter spearheads update of online system for faculty, students by Chris Zimmerman


t. John’s will soon become a Google Campus. SJS intends to integrate the school email with Gmail and offer other applications through Google by February. Jeff Ritter, Director of Technology, has been tasked with implementing this change. “We are going to move grades 3 to 12 over to the Google Apps for Education platform,” Ritter said. “It will give us the Gmail interface for mail, all of the Google Apps like Drive and Calendar and easier access to sync for phones.” The initial decision to switch platforms came four years ago upon the arrival of Headmaster Dr. Mark Desjardins, whose former school Holland Hall had just transitioned to a Google system. “[Dr. Desjardins] was very happy with what he was seeing with regard to how they were using these new tools,” Ritter said. “He challenged and tasked us with doing the same thing here, and we felt like this was a great move for the school.” The Google platform offers new programs such as an integrated calendar, a timeline creator and a task manager. SJS implemented a month-long beta program in the seventh and ninth grades to test the platform and to expose teachers to the new interface. “Throughout this pilot project, we have been working closely with the teachers involved and have been sharing our resources,” Ritter said. “There are some professional development programs that we have put in place for now, so for the willing teacher, there will be a lot of opportunities to learn.” The history department received several new Google Chromebooks, laptops that

use a Google Chrome operating system. “I did some professional development last year and went to a Google conference at the end of the year, and then I wrote a grant proposal asking for the computers,” history teacher Barbara DiPaolo said. “The students can save their work on the drive and then access it at home, which is so much easier than earlier where kids had to email their work to themselves.” History teacher Eleanor Cannon is attending a course called Powerful Learning Practice, which pushes teachers to develop ways to improve their teaching. She will also be applying to receive Chromebooks. “I love the ability to collaborate,” Cannon said. “One of the things I am very excited about is a Google app where I can highlight a phrase and record an oral comment for the student. I am curious to see if that might spark conversations and responses from the students.” The technology department plans to react according to the students’ responses to the new Google interface. “From what I have seen about the platform, it is intuitive and easy to use,” Ritter said. “There may need to be some remediation or some learning that we need to give the students, and how we go about that will be something we need to discuss as we move forward.” Students will not be required to make the switch to the Google Apps. “If a student already has a Gmail account, all of their official notifications will come in to the SJS Google account, but they can choose what they want to do with those things,” Ritter said. “There will be some benefits to using our account versus the regular Gmail account. Once the student becomes an informed user, then they can decide what they want to do.” Some students and teachers have doubts about the functionality of Google over Microsoft. “I love that you can work simultaneously with people on the Drive, but I dislike it because you need internet to access the


drive,” sophomore Amy Dong said. “For a presentation, I definitely would rather use PowerPoint. There are just so many functions that are lacking.” SJS will keep Microsoft Office available for students and teachers who wish to use it. “Certain people out there need to have some of the functionality that doesn’t work as well with the Google platform,” Ritter said. “Most kids who have made the adjustment to the Google platform are going to be happy with the fact that they will be able to use the system officially under the SJS domain.” He maintains that the change in the school’s interface is appropriate and healthy. Ritter said, “There are going to be all of these different tools that teachers will have to challenge student learning.”

GOOGLE FUN FACTS Born: In 1996 in a dorm room at Stanford University Unofficial Slogan: Don’t Be Evil Company Dinosaur: T-Rex Skeleton named Stan First Google Doodle: A Burning Man symbol in 1998 Most Googled Person of 2013: Miley Cyrus Most Googled Song of 2013: Harlem Shake Oddest Languages Offered: Klingon and the language of the Swedish Chef “Google” added to the dictionary: June 2006


Lang wins national recognition for scientific research by Gabe Malek

For senior Fred Lang, spending the summer cooped up in lab at MD Anderson turned out to be a lucrative endeavor. Lang’s research on brain tumors led him to win sixth place and a $10,000 scholarship in the Siemens Competition in Math, Science and Technology last month. “I was impressed with the other projects, but I felt confident that I could compete with most of them,” Lang said. Lang examined how glioblastoma, one of the most prevalent and malignant types of brain tumors, can be destroyed by delivering certain micro-RNA’s into the brain. Although Lang attended the National Finals at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. for four days, he spent only two hours in the actual competition. “I spent most of Saturday hanging out with the other contestants, which I thought was fun because these people have a totally different mindset from everybody else I know,” Lang said. During their free time, Lang and the other contestants participated in a commu-

nity service project organized by Siemens. “We went to an elementary school and spoke to the students about why we liked science and what inspired us,” Lang said. “Then someone from Siemens presented cool science experiments to the kids.” Lang also spent his time getting to know the other contestants. “The kids were definitely different, but they weren’t your stereotypical idea of someone cooped up in a lab all day,” Lang said. “All of them made it to Nationals because they were able to articulate themselves, so they were definitely relatable, and I ended up keeping in touch with some of them.” During his time in the competition, Lang presented his project to a panel of 12 judges and then took part in a Q-and-A session. Each contestant had a judge that was an expert in his or her field, and that specific judge would do most of the talking. “My judge actually discovered the first micro-RNA, and that is what I used in my project,” Lang said. “It was very intense but also really cool.”


RNA(tionals) After winning the Siemens regional competition, senior Fred Lang advanced to nationals along with five other student researchers. Lang won a $10,000 scholarship.

Lang plans to use the experience he gained from the competition to help him with future research. “I want to get back in the lab as soon as possible because I actually have three projects that I’m trying to find time to work

on which I may use to write a paper,” Lang said. “I’ve always wanted to pursue science, and both of my parents are doctors, so that’s something that’s been on my list for awhile.”




Unique traditions characterize holidays for students from different cultures, religions Winter brings alternative holiday customs along with typical festivities by Brooke Kushwaha

“Merry Christmas” is a greeting people hear countless times throughout the winter, but some families do not celebrate Christmas and the holiday season in a traditional Christian sense. “My family gives presents on the eight nights of Hanukkah instead of during Christmas. Because I get a vacation, I visit my cousins in Florida,” sophomore Jacob Pesikoff said. Even though Hanukkah fell during Thanksgiving this year, Jewish students still got a substantial break from school in December as well as the delicious combination of roast turkey and latkes. “Overall, I think Christmas does deserve the hype, but it feels anticlimactic when it gets to Christmas and I’m not doing anything,” Pesikoff said. Some non-Christian families choose to celebrate the secular aspects of the holiday. “My family usually watches our favorite movie, ‘Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer,’ and drives around looking at the Christmas lights,” sophomore Imaan Meghani said. “We’re not celebrating the traditional holiday, but Christmas is a fun time, and everyone’s happy. It’s a nice time of year even if you’re not Christian.” Meghani comes from a Muslim family and, like many non-Christian students, uses the break to spend time with relatives. “We just spend time with family,” freshman Shez Jafry, also Muslim, said. “Even though we don’t celebrate it, I really like the feeling of Christmas because everyone’s so happy.” Some non-Christian students, including sophomore Kyle Zhu, abstain from the


holiday altogether. “We used to have a tree, but it was too much of a hassle,” Zhu said. “Both my parents are atheists, so they never believed in the religious aspect. The only reason we had a tree was because they saw other people do it.” Zhu’s parents emigrated from China and saw Christmas as another baffling American custom. “I actually first heard of Santa from school. I guess I believed in Santa because that’s what all the kids believed,” Zhu said. “My parents never mentioned it.” Another tradition, introduced in the

1960s, is Kwanzaa, the African-American celebration of the harvest. The holiday is similar to Hanukkah in that participants light a candle on the “Kinara” every day for seven nights. Each night, they discuss a different principle and partake in songs, stories and dance to illustrate these principles, collectively known as the Nguzo Saba. “At the end you shout “Haraambe!”, and on the last day you have a party and everyone drinks from the cup of unity,” sophomore Lauren Smith said. “It’s a very eccentric celebration because it’s not of any religion. It’s a celebration of African

culture.” Smith has been celebrating Kwanzaa alongside Christmas for four years. Each year she performs in a play orchestrated by her African dance group, Kuumba House, to illustrate the different cultures and traditions that Kwanzaa embodies. “I think that Christmas and Kwanzaa have similarities because they both promote the same concepts of togetherness and discussion,” Smith said. “They don’t share the literal message, but the underlying effect of Christmas is the same as Kwanzaa.”

Behind the Scenes Bookstore Relocates to S104-105


Trading spaces Over the winter holidays, Bookstore Manager Susan Medellin organized the bookstore’s relocation from the cafeteria to S104-105. With the bookstore occupying one of the largest classrooms on campus, clubs will have to find another location for large meetings and events. by Megan Shen

Need extra notebooks, new SJS outerwear or that book you forgot to buy for English class? This semester, students will no longer be able to find these items in the cozy corner tucked away behind the cafeteria. While the community enjoyed the festivities of the winter break, the bookstore

relocated from the cafeteria to S104-105 in preparation for the construction of the Campus Center. “We wanted to move over the holidays so it wouldn’t disrupt students or parents,” Bookstore Manager Susan Medellin said. The bookstore will be housed in its temporary location until the completion of the Campus Center, which will feature a larger space for the store.

“The bookstore will still have the same selection of items as before and operate during its usual hours,” Medellin said. As one of the largest classrooms in the school, S104-105 has typically been used for a variety of student and faculty meetings. The loss of both this room and W205, which will close when Winston Hall is shut down in the spring, presents challenges for many clubs.

“Some clubs will have to find different venues for their large events,” Dean of Students Stephen Popp said. “Sponsors have already been in touch with me about finding those venues, and I’m optimistic things will work out.” Large student gatherings usually held in W205 will also relocate. Class meetings and SAC elections are currently planned for the VST.




Chang pursues passion for business, forges plans to revolutionize online music market CFO of Backtrack makes her pitch to global music producers by Irene Vazquez


hile other young girls were playing with Barbie dolls, senior April Chang was contemplating her future in the business world. “I’ve been playing with my own E*trade portfolio since I was 12,” Chang said. “I’ve wanted to work in business for as long as I can remember. When I was little, my mom would buy doctor toys for me because she wanted me to go into medicine, but I refused to touch them. I told my parents I wanted to be Bill Gates.” Continuing with her passion, this summer, Chang attended Leadership in the Business World (LBW), an intense four-week summer program sponsored by the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. Students spent two weeks in San Francisco followed by two weeks in Philadelphia. They developed business ideas and then presented their ideas before a board of venture capitalists. “I’d always thought I’d need to graduate from high school, graduate from college to start a business,” Chang said. “But the other kids I met at LBW, they’d already started businesses.” Chang’s four-member group at LBW initially designed an app called “Backtrack” as a twist on Spotify and Pandora. Backtrack began as a music browsing and streaming station where listeners can share music with their friends. This idea then developed into a social media site for music listeners where artists and fans could interact as well as browse music and listen to Internet radio. “Right now, if you want to share your favorite song, you have to find the YouTube video, copy the link and paste it into your friend’s Facebook profile,” Chang said. “It’s really quite annoying, especially for avid music fans like me who make sure my friends hear every new K-pop song. To encourage this song-sharing process, Backtrack has an extensive, ad-free music library with millions of songs.” Backtrack plans to foster better relationships between music consumers and


Taking care of business Over the summer, senior April Chang attended a program at the Wharton School of Business, where she and three friends developed a business model for a music app, Backtrack. The team hopes to secure funding from top music executives.

producers. “The problem with the music apps that are out now is their relationships with the artists,” Chang said. “Pandora, Spotify, they’re not paying proper royalties to the artists, so a lot of them are pulling their music. We want our relationship with the artists to be a mutually beneficial one.” Although the app was entirely hypothetical at first, after the program was over, the group decided to move forward with the app. Chang and the rest of her group spent Christmas break meeting with possible investors and pitching their app. “April is determined, hardworking and committed to business,” April’s sister freshman Sophia Chang said. “She works very hard to develop her business at home all the time.” Chang is the Chief Financial Officer of the group. “I’m the one who befriends Excel in my attempts to conjure income statements, balance sheets and cash flow statements,” Chang said. “Max Snow is our visionary and passionate leader from New York.

512.473.2775 w w w. w i n n t u t o r i n g . c o m

Ryan Klobus is in charge of operations and also comes from New York. Fred Kim, our Chief Technology Officer, is from Korea but attends Eaton College in England.” The quartet has already outlined its business plan. “We’re going to make a minimum viable product, like a prototype, first,” Chang said. “We’ll be depending a lot upon user feedback, testing out what does and does not work. We’re outsourcing the app design to a programmer we met using Toptal. Then we’ll eventually get to launch the perfected product.” Chang and her group have already been in touch with the managers of Macklemore, Adele and Justin Timberlake. “At the beginning of the year, April had phone calls with several different lawyers about setting up the business,” senior Claire Jones said. “That would faze most seventeen year olds, but not April.” Chang considers Warren Buffett to be one of her role models. “​Really, I admire anyone who can transform their dreams into a reality. But as a

general rule of thumb, Warren Buffett is a figure everyone should look up to,” Chang said. “He’s an influential man with a very powerful tool — the ability to understand how money works, yet he remains humble and generous.” Chang’s peers know her as hard-working and knowledgeable about the business world she is entering. Next fall, she will attend the Wharton School. “April has a killer work ethic and a compulsive desire to do her best,” senior Austin Allday said. Chang plans to pursue her entrepreneurial dreams into college and beyond. She hopes to earn her MBA and become an investment banker. “To me, business is about using your passion to create something entirely new, and putting in sweat, blood and tears until this creation transforms into an invention that’ll revolutionize the world,” Chang said. “It’s about turning a mere, intangible idea into something concrete that the entire world can feel.”



FEATURES KNOW YOUR ASBESTOS by Christian Maines and Irene Vazquez


Hello goodbye After 31 years, Blanco’s Bar and Grill, a longstanding landmark, closed Nov. 30 and auctioned off its collection of kitsch. During Campus Center construction, which will commence in early April, the school will repurpose Blanco’s as a food preparation site.

‘Cultural icon’ says goodbye Continued from Front Page Aside from adding live entertainment, Barnes suggested refurbishing the decor, which became a hallmark of the restaurant. “It didn’t have any atmosphere or character,” she said. “We started letting people bring in items like the hats in the middle of the room.” Blanco’s will not be relocating and sold

its collections of relics and memorabilia in an auction after the closing. “The real estate around here is extremely expensive, and the other problem is limited parking,” Barnes said. “Of course, nobody likes it because you’re not going to find another place like this.” For Houstonians, Blanco’s represented more than just a place to eat. “Blanco’s is a cultural icon,” Desjardins

said. “I can understand and appreciate the sadness for the fact that this honky-tonk in the middle of the city goes away.” Barnes also looks back fondly on her experiences at Blanco’s. “What I’ll miss the most is all the friends I’ve made over all these years,” she said. “What we’ve established here, and to be in business that long and survive, is something to be proud of.”

Asbestos, often found in pipes, insulation, flooring and corrugated paper, is a mineral fiber. The inhalation of asbestos can lead to a variety of conditions, including the scarring of lung tissue, mesothelioma and lung cancer. The Occupational Health and Safety Administration provides standards for exposure of workers to products containing asbestos. Asbestos was banned by the Environmental Protection Agency in 1989, but the ban was reversed in 1991. Further restrictions were then placed on the use of asbestos in construction. The Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA) states that non-profit schools must inspect their buildings for asbestos and actively reduce their asbestos levels. Removal of these materials is not typically necessary unless the material is severely damaged or will be disturbed by a building renovation or demolition. Before demolition can take place, the building administrators must notify the proper government agency and ensure that the asbestos is not released into the surrounding air.




Duson takes center stage with pop-punk band


Stuck in the middle with you Despite their relatively new status, senior Will Duson (center) and his bandmates in 3rd Denial are already amassing a substantial local fan base. The group plays at venues like Warehouse Live, House of Blues and Fitzgerald’s and has also released an EP, “I’m Still Here,” on iTunes. by Cara Maines

With an EP on iTunes, a possible tour planned for this summer and concerts at the House of Blues, 3rd Denial is establishing a name in the Houston music scene. The band includes senior Will Duson along with vocalist Brylan Crivellari, guitarist Koy Kresta, bassist Nick Jasek and drummer Sam Sobell. They have been promoting their first EP, “I’m Still Here,” at venues like Fitzgerald’s, Numbers, Jet Lounge, Warehouse Live and House of Blues. They are currently working on their first full album. “We have 15 or 16 originals right now that we’re trying to cut down to about 10,” Duson said. “We want to release a fulllength album before this summer, before we go off to college.” With the help of Paul Beebe (‘96), a professional musician with his own recording studio, Beebe Gunn Studio, 3rd Denial recorded “I’m Still Here” two summers ago. They had it mastered (transferred to a data storage device) and published their work on iTunes. “I’m Still Here” consists of five songs. Duson created the score for all the tracks, which are inspired by the pop punk and alternative rock music of bands like Mayday Parade, Go Radio, All Time Low and Blink-182. Of the band’s songs, Duson’s favorite is “Anywhere but Home,” the score for which was written by Duson with lyrics by Sobell. “It’s my favorite because it’s upbeat, catchy and driving,” Duson said. “I really like how the whole song turned out.” Besides Duson, Sobell attends Strake Jesuit and the other members of 3rd Denial attend El Campo High School. The

distance between schools is problematic EP, via text message. when the band is scheduling rehearsals. “It was very effective,” Duson said. “For “El Campo is about an hour and fifteen the little outro at the end of the song, I minutes south of here, so I only get to see ended up calling Brylan to figure it out. It the other members of the group every oth- all came out great.” er weekend,” Duson said. “Considering we 3rd Denial began as a Christian band. all live far away, we make use of the time Its name is a reference to Peter’s three we have and try to make the best of it.” denials of Jesus. Before shows, the band The band rehearses on weekends, usually usually huddles around the drum set to in El Campo, but sometimes at a studio say a prayer. Over time, though, the band’s in Sugarland. They spend the first half of lyrics have moved away from Christian practice rehearsing their current songs. themes toward more earthly topics. They use the rest of the time to brainstorm “It’s cliche, but it’s easiest to write about lyrics and melodies for new songs. After everyday situations: breakups, relationpractice, they ofships, and say ten record demos ‘yeah, it goes at Kresta’s house. on,’” Duson said. “I’ve realized “The purpose of “The purpose of the song is that we really do a song is more work the best more to just generate a reac- to just generate a when we all cling reaction or bring tion or bring out a feeling.” together,” Duson out a feeling in said. “That’s the somebody, to Will Duson make them feel a way we’ve written our best songs, certain way.” when everyone So far, the pitches in ideas.” responses to the band’s new creations have Since band members frequently disagree been positive. about the placements of choruses, bridges “3rd Denial has really developed as a and patterns, communication is an integral band,” senior Kasey French said. “Their part of the composition process. Distance newer songs are really breaking boundaries, has limited 3rd Denial’s communication, and their gigs are filling up faster. I can’t so the band has been forced to utilize new wait to see what they do with their new techniques in song writing. album.” “I’ll think of something in my room one While his lyrics may describe average night and record it on a voice memo and high school experiences, Duson’s life is send it in the band group text to see what anything but ordinary. Since House of they think of it,” Duson said. “Our singer Blues and other venues are usually booked will record lyrics, sing it and send it to evon Friday and Saturday nights, Duson erybody. We’ve actually written songs over often finds himself performing on Tuesday, text message and Skype before.” Wednesday and Sunday evenings. The band wrote “I Said I’d Make Things “People will sometimes have school the Right, Not Perfect,” the last song on their next day,” Duson said. “If we’re lucky, we’ll

have the Monday off after playing on a Sunday. On most nights, I’ll find myself staying up late to tear down equipment and waking up early for school. I tend to book all the shows, and I didn’t book anything during first semester because I was so bogged down with college apps.” Besides concerts, 3rd Denial performs showcases at venues like Fitzgerald’s and Warehouse Live. Because showcases usually attract only 20 to 30 people, 3rd Denial usually performs with other local bands in order to pool fanbases. “We’ve met some random people who happen to be at the venues who have become fans, so that’s cool,” Duson said. Duson’s friends often attend his concerts to watch their fellow senior perform. “Will has been my classmate for as long as I can remember, and watching him jam out on stage was really amazing,” senior Zack Lee said. “It reminds me that everyone at SJS has special talents that go beyond academics.” Duson cites the positive feedback from audience members as the reason he enjoys performing. “It’s so much fun and really thrilling to play for crowds of people,” Duson said. “Just talking to the crowd after the shows and meeting new people makes it all worth it. Same goes for whenever new listeners tweet at us or message us about our music. It’s such a great feeling knowing that people are listening.” Scan this QR code for 3rd Denial’s Spotify page.




Elite ensembles unite students from across Texas Singers, instrumentalists audition to join state-level convention by Jessica Lee and Megan Routbort

Even though other students across Texas lug weighty tubas and cellos to far-away locations to audition for all-region ensembles each year, SJS students only need to go as far as the VST. This year marks the fourth time that students from band and choral ensembles have participated in the Texas Private School Music Educators’ Association (TPSMEA). Prior to 2010, SJS band and choir members auditioned for TMEA (Texas Music Educators’ Association), the program’s larger, public school equivalent. “Over the years, it became more difficult as a private school to compete against the monster [public] schools,” Band Director Darrell Parrish said. “Nearly 100 kids from those schools will audition, and we typically have around 10.” Parrish and choir directors Scott Bonasso and Stephen Bedford decided to join TPSMEA, whose mission is to provide musical enrichment and opportunities exclusively for private school students. In January, nine students will participate in the annual three-day event held at Texas State University in San Marcos. “I’ve auditioned since my freshman year, but this is the first time I’ve been selected,” junior singer Elizabeth Elrod said. “The competition is steep and younger singers rarely make it.” TPSMEA requires the submission of a single, taped recording. “We’re given a month to learn two pieces of music. We then record cuts (small selections) with Mr. Bonasso to submit to the organization for judging,” senior Chorale member Daniel Bland said. TPSMEA officials rank participants based on their musical qualities in order to determine which musicians and singers will participate in the program. “There’s a huge advantage to a recorded audition,” Elrod said. “You can always repeat takes to correct your mistakes.” Orchestra director Penny Meitz chooses to enter her students in the more challenging, more extensive TMEA program.


Perfect harmonies Les Chanteuses, the 9th and 10th grade girls’ choir, rehearses for Candlelight during the last weeks of first semester. Singers interested in TPSMEA had to submit a recording while band and orchestra members prepare a live audition for TMEA.

“I had to drop private lessons when I came to SJS because of time constraints, but Ms. Meitz has definitely helped me learn the audition pieces,” senior violist Carlo De Guzman said. Unlike TPSMEA, TMEA is open to private school, public school and homeschooled students around the state. “The SJS orchestra is much smaller than the orchestra at Seven Lakes, my old high school,” De Guzman said. “TMEA makes up for some of the experiences that the SJS orchestra doesn’t provide, such as a full orchestra.” Even though string players must first place in the all-regional level and then the area level through live auditions, TMEA requires a taped audition for the all-state level. “The tryout process for TMEA lasts for four Saturdays,” Parrish said. “At SJS, it’s extremely challenging because students have so many other academic and athletic commitments.” Whereas TPSMEA allows multiple takes, TMEA only allows one run-through. “The taped audition gives me the willies.

I feel better playing in front of people than machines,” senior violinist Zack Lee said. After ranking No. 76 in state, violinist junior Jessica Lee will be returning this February to perform with the Philharmonic Orchestra in San Antonio for the second consecutive year. Senior Carolyn Martin, who participated in TMEA during her freshman and sophomore year while attending Glenda Dawson High School in Pearland, has had the rare opportunity to participate in both programs “Last year we sang non-stop for hours on end to perfect our overall sound,” Martin said. “We had five rehearsal sessions of three hours each. It was pretty draining.” Students from across Texas meet and dedicate themselves to preparing for the final performance. “The weekend was a great opportunity to play with other kids who enjoyed music. Everyone is very talented,” sophomore trumpeter Gabe Malek said. “The ability level of TPSMEA was probably less than that of TMEA just because there were fewer people to draw from, but

our choir was still capable of producing a fantastic sound,” Martin said. “The performance was a lot of pressure but invigorating as we sang through the pieces.”

2014 Ensemble Participants TMEA, All-Region Orchestra: Freshman Anna Zhu Junior Jessica Lee (All-State) Seniors Carlo De Guzman, Zack Lee TPSMEA, Concert Band: Freshman Ethan Wang Junior Megan Routbort TPSMEA, Jazz Band: Sophomores Alex Hammerman, Gabe Malek TPSMEA, Choir: Freshman Shez Jafry Junior Elizabeth Elrod (All-State) Seniors Daniel Bland, Aaron Chu (AllState), Kasey French, Claire Jones, Camilla Manca, Carolyn Martin, Danielle Rubin (All-State)

Maverick Munchies Ruggles Green by Emily Sherron

If living a healthier lifestyle is on your New Year’s resolutions list, Ruggles Green is the place to go. Whether your approach is going vegetarian, vegan, organic or just adding a few more vegetables to your plate, the possibilities are endless with this menu. The menu is full of healthy choices, yet not every dish is low in calories — especially not the decadent desserts. The mission of Ruggles Green is to serve environmentally friendly food with homegrown, vitamin-rich ingredients. The menu has commonplace foods prepared organically like the All-Natural Beef Burger, a dairy-free option served on a whole-wheat bun. Many dishes cater to customers with special dietary needs such as vegans, vegetarians and those suffering from lactose and gluten intolerance. The Blackened Shrimp Salad, which has fresh fruit, pistachios

and a garlic-hemp poppy seed dressing, is gluten-free and dairy-free. My favorite dishes on the menu are the unique variations of ordinary dishes like the Quinoa Mac ‘n Cheese and the High Protein Hempenadas (not a typo). Chefs replace wheat grain with quinoa in many of their pastas and make empanadas with high-protein hemp flour instead of wheat flour — two delicious gluten free options. Although Ruggles Green is known for being healthy, the attention to taste cannot be understated. The Ruggles Green burger stands up to those from my favorite burger joints, and I prefer the pizzas to even Star Pizza or Pink’s. This restaurant teems with customers, but do not despair. The service is fast, and ordering to-go is always an option. With some of the most innovative recipes in town, Ruggles Green excels at providing delicious food that won’t wreck any New Years resolutions.

DIRECTIONS AND INFO Ruggles Green 2311 W. Alabama Houston, Texas 77098 (713) 522-1934 Everyday: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.





‘A matter of awareness’: uniform regulations limit, obscure options for female students by Irene Vazquez

One fine autumn day, I decided to wear shorts to school. Though I do enjoy making a statement with my clothing, this particular day, I had simply run out of clean skirts. On my way to advisory, I was stopped in my tracks. “What are you wearing that for?” my friend asked. Well, that judgmental question put a damper on my day. Though most people are either complimentary or indifferent to my wearing shorts to school, there is always a vocal minority that questions my decision. Maybe I want to dismantle the patriarchy. Maybe I am overreacting. I am not calling for a full dismissal of skirts for girls. I like skirts just as much as the next person and will most likely continue to wear them on a regular basis. I simply believe that a girl should be able to wear what makes her feel most comfortable. If that is shorts, then she should know exactly what is available to her. After a bit of digging around on the internet, I was pleased to discover that Sue Mills offers both shorts and pants styled differently for both genders. Girls’ walking shorts are promoted on the Sue Mills website as being “stylish, durable, and comfortable: the most important factors for girls.” If these shorts are all they seem to be, then why have so few girls worn shorts or pants so far this school year? Where does the problem lie? I turned to the handbook to answer my questions. The reason most girls do not wear shorts to school is a matter of awareness. The 2013-2014 Upper School student handbook does not differentiate between shorts for girls and boys, listing both as “khaki walking shorts.” Students then simply infer that they are the same.


The great pants debate Although the student handbook allows female students to wear both shorts and pants, it makes no effort to specify fit and style. As a result, many girls choose plaid and red skirts over the poorly fittting boys’ styles that are offerred at Sue Mills.

Girls tend to wear the guy’s shorts to school because they are the only known option. Consequently, there’s a dearth of shorts-wearing girls, as many eschew the awkward-fitting pieces of clothing tailored for guys. Once the fashion choices are rectified, there is always the societal factor. The first time I wore shorts in the eighth grade, I was pretty much alone in my fashion choice. Even though I was more comfort-

able in shorts, I did not want to look so drastically different from every other girl in Middle School. Though the purpose of the uniform is to make everyone look the same, I looked so different. Therein lies the paradox. If wearing shorts was more commonplace, more girls would wear them, but no one wants to stand out, so they are not likely to become commonplace. Upon further inspection, the handbook does not even mention the option of pants

for girls, even though they exist according to the Sue Mills catalog. Pants need to be an option for girls on the days when it is cold and itchy tights just do not cut it. In addition, shorts and pants provide pockets, which are not found in girls’ skirts, and honestly, they are more comfortable. This month, instead of scouring Urban Outfitters’ end of year sale, I am going straight to Sue Mills and buying myself another pair of shorts.

Political Corner

Issues Important to Students It’s frighteningly easy to get wrapped up in life’s cocoon. Homework, friends, sports and school seem to dominate every aspect of our lives, leaving little room for anything else. Perhaps that’s why today’s youth are drifting further away from politics than previous generations. According to research conducted in 2012 by the Pew Center, voter registration among eighteen-year-olds has been dropping and only 18 percent of youth follow current events. We simply don’t have the time to care about things that don’t affect us at the moment. But political issues have far-reaching consequences; though they may be the last thing you think about when you have a paper and two tests the next day, they directly and indirectly shape your life, whether you want them to or not. The Economy: Four years from now, most of us will be walking out of college with shiny diplomas in hand. While in the past, a college graduate was promised decent job opportunities, in today’s tumultuous times 53 percent of college graduates are

jobless or underemployed. The health of the economy dictates the quality of life for today’s graduates. Healthcare: Healthcare ranks as the second most important political issue for young voters. Under the Affordable Care Act, children can stay on their parents’ plans until they turn 26. However, 56 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds disapprove of the Affordable Care Act, with most associating it with a rise in insurance costs. College Loans: With college costs skyrocketing, the availability and affordability of college loans could be the deciding factor in getting a quality college education. According to the White House fact sheet, college tuition has increased more than 250 percent over the past three decades, while income has only risen 16 percent. In order to make a college education more affordable, President Obama has instituted a new plan that uses a government-backed rating system to dictate how federal dollars are allocated. Furthermore, the President’s “Pay as you Earn” program caps federal student loan payments at

10 percent of monthly income and ensures that the balance of debt will be forgiven after 25 years. Internet Restrictions: Our generation’s identity has been largely defined by the internet. Despite past efforts to restrict freedom on the net, including the Protect IP Act (PIPA) and the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), no legislation has been particularly successful in this attempt. LGBT Equality: According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, close to 10 percent of Americans are attracted to members of their sex, and support for gay marriage has risen from 47 percent to today’s 58 percent in just the past three years. The issue of equality has been a rallying cry for members of our generation, and the social climate has been changing drastically, most notably with the Supreme Court striking down a part of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act. However, there is still a ways to go to achieve equality; 78 percent of LGBT teens are bullied and are two-to-three times as likely to commit suicide. by Pallavi Krishnarao





Though SJS feels safely contained, gers of urban surroundings and

Story and Reporting by Lydia Liu, Photos by Jake Nyqu


fter school, students rush to the gym and hurriedly leave their backpacks out of sight. As they practice, an unwelcome visitor rummages through their unattended belongings in the gym basement. Earlier that day, Oct. 30, two students leaving campus on foot held the Westheimer gate open for a pedestrian. After gaining entrance to the campus, this convicted criminal, with an outstanding warrant, stole several laptops and cell phones from unattended backpacks. Coaches and security personnel tackled the thief on the playground to prevent his escape. All items were returned to their owners, and the thief was prosecuted. This recent incident revealed the dangers of students leaving their valuables unattended in public areas and raised questions about campus security. At school, it is often easy to forget that Houston is the fourth largest city in the United States. In Focus explores school security measures and ways in which students can help make the campus safer.

Alumni Offer Opinions Alumni acknowledge improvements in school security, particularly when compared with previous decades. “I think that SJS is a secure campus,” Middle and Upper School parent Brad Kagan (’83) said. “I don’t remember there being a continuous fence around the entire perimeter of each campus. There were no ‘SJ’ stickers on parents’ cars to show that they belonged on campus. I don’t think there was any kind of verification that whoever was picking me up was authorized by my parents to pick me up.” The contrast between the college environment and SJS means recent alumni must adapt to a different level of security. “The biggest difference between college and SJS is having things stolen,” University of Texas at Austin freshman Nicole Lang (’13) said. “In college, my roommates and I always have to lock our door after having phone chargers and credit cards go mysteriously missing from our dorm rooms.” “There’s definitely been a change in how I treat my personal belongings. I liked trusting that I could put my backpack down for lunch, basically anywhere, and that I could return to it with confidence, knowing that nothing would be missing,” Harvard University freshman Guan Chen (’13) said. “I guess college is fundamentally more public. There are a lot more people so having the more intimate community of accountability found at SJS is practically impossible.”

Preventing Predators Security Personnel Patrol Campus Two groups of security regularly patrol the campus. The Houston Police Department officers and Riverdale Patrol security guards both may wear light blue uniforms, but they perform different tasks on campus. HPD officers manage traffic control on the streets and are trained to react to any threatening situations that may occur on campus. In the morning and afternoon, three HPD officers manage traffic control for carpool across campus. Security guards with Riverdale direct carpool inside campus and routinely make the rounds. They also lock and unlock gates and doors for students. During the day, three security guards and two HPD officers patrol the campus. In the afternoon, more officers and security guards are on duty due to the influx of outside visitors. Depending on the number of scheduled events, four or five more security guards will be added to ensure campus security. “After 3 p.m., SJS is a pretty open campus,” Director of Security Andrew Blitch said, “especially with sports teams coming in from other schools.” With the start of construction looming, the campus will face an influx of non-community members. A perimeter fence will be built around the construction site on the North Campus to ensure campus safety. Though there are no plans to add new technologies or new protocols, the number of existing locks and cameras will be expanded when the Taub property gets developed. At the end of the day, Blitch still relies on his colleagues rather than new technology to keep the campus safe. “Ten years ago, it was unheard of, especially for private schools, to have police officers on campus,” Blitch said. “Some people didn’t like that there was someone with a gun on campus. I think that everyone’s come around since then and realized that it’s actually better that we have police officers on campus.”

In 2012, SJS participated in a safety accreditation program by Praesidium, Inc., a risk-management company that helps organizations to identify potential openings for sexual and other abuse. Per Praesidium’s suggestions, the school implemented multiple initiatives, such as establishing an anonymous sex abuse hotline and requiring faculty to take online sexual abuse awareness classes. Praesidium also suggests the usage of a more comprehensive visitor management system than the existing procedure, which merely asks for visitors to sign in and obtain a badge. The Praesidium analysis led the school administration to Raptor, a visitor management system used by HISD, other schools, churches and hospitals. In the summer, SJS conducted phone interviews and visited HISD schools to see Raptor in a functioning school environment. “The purpose of the system is to be able to easily scan a campus visitor’s government-issued ID and within moments perform a sex offender background check against 50 states’ databases,” Parent Liaison Gisela Cherches said. “The system does not check other criminal records.” Purchase of the Raptor system has already occurred, and the school will install the equipment in the near future. Training and initial testing of the system are project to occur in the spring. Full implementation of the system is anticipated to begin in August 2014.





, students must remember the dand take appropriate precautions.

Alyyah Malick and Samantha Neal uist and Jared Margolis

What Students Should Know

Security cameras throughout campus have helped the security team during several incidents. Additional cameras were installed after the Quad-wrapping incident last spring. The exact number and locations of these cameras cannot be revealed for security reasons, but students may have noticed them while walking through campus. All exterior doors and gates in the Middle School, Upper School, gym and fine arts buildings have electronic locks. Installation began three years ago and has been occurring in stages. Blitch plans to add more locks in the future. After a designated time each evening, buildings are locked to anyone without a key fob. Students must call Riverdale or notify a security guard on campus to gain access inside these buildings. “Each lock is different,” Blitch said. “I have 15 different schedules depending on what building the lock is on.” During summer 2012, security implemented a blue light system on campus and in the parking lots. When someone presses the call button, the tower alerts the Riverdale patrol dispatcher. Pressing the button also triggers a video camera to start documenting the scene. Many universities also use the blue light system for students to quickly alert security, especially when walking alone at night.

Crime over Time 30 25 20 Crimes

Technology Promotes Safety

Students may not be aware that their actions, even those ubiquitous around campus such as leaving backpacks in the hallway during chapel, hinder the security team’s efforts of ensuring a secure campus. Blitch requests that students abide by the following guidelines: 1. Do not hold pedestrian gates open for anyone. 2. Do not prop open any doors or gates. 3. Do not give out pedestrian or drive-in gate codes to anyone. 4. Do not drop any valuables (cell phones, laptops, calculators) in a hallway or gym lobby and walk off. 5. Lock vehicles before leaving and be mindful not to leave valuables in plain sight. 6. Until 3 p.m., students should be in their school uniforms. Teachers and other faculty members will have their clip-on IDs. Visitors who have checked in at the main office will be given either a visitor sticker or lanyard. Notify a faculty member if anyone is on campus in plain clothes without any of the aforementioned identification. 8. Call Riverdale at (713)633-1017 or notify a faculty member at any sign of suspicious activity. Neither students nor faculty are expected to personally act or engage anyone in such a situation. “SJS is a secure campus, and that is a good thing,” Blitch said, “but students should still be proactive about keeping their belongings secure and locking everything in lockers.”

15 10 5 0 6 a.m.

12 p.m.

6 p.m.

12 a.m.

Time of day Source: Houston Police Department




Release midterm grades before school begins Even Christmas trees, Zoo Lights and New Year’s countdowns couldn’t distract us from thinking about our midterm exams. We waited impatiently for our grades once January came, but on the Sunday before the dreaded start of school, we had yet to receive the fruits of our efforts. Those of us with younger siblings watched as Middle School students received their report cards, wondering why our Upper School counterparts failed to appear. Returning to school after a long break is never an easy transition. By Jan. 6, we had long forgotten the unpleasant sensation of blaring alarms at an ungodly hour of the morning. Dragging ourselves out of warm beds to face the polar vortex required monumental willpower. But we walked onto the grounds of the Storied Cloisters expecting those long-awaited grades. We were disappointed. In previous years, the first day of school following winter break was devoted solely to reviewing midterm exams. This year, the administration sent an email to instructors telling them to release exam grades on the primary testing day for the subject. Report cards with first semester grades will be released on Saturday, Jan. 11. The administration implemented this new policy to give teachers more time to grade exams over the break and foster more accurate grading. The longer grading period allows


No. 2 Some students were disappointed when grades were not released over winter break. We propose that a progress report with exam grades be sent before school starts.

teachers to use more short answers and long essays as opposed to multiple choice questions. This method also gives students the opportunity to process their grades without feeling overwhelmed by a barrage of pink scantron marks and red pen scribbles. We commend the administration for their concern about student mental health and teachers’ busy schedules close to the holidays. Although the new system does eliminate some problems of previous years, we have heard many complaints about the long wait for grades; we believe that there is a better way to streamline the process.

Even though we appreciate the administration’s efforts to soften the blow of coming back to school, getting exams back on the first day gives us a sense of closure. We could say goodbye to the first semester and move on with the second half of the year. Maybe, as upperclassmen, we have weathered our fair share of both good and bad grades, but we think that prolonging the return of midterms only heightens anxiousness and dread. Receiving midterms on the first day is like ripping off a band-aid: the only good way is to get it over with quickly. We propose that teachers send out prog-

ress reports with only exam grades during the last weekend of winter break. This method would permit teachers to use the break for grading exams and communicating with others regarding grading policies; we understand the 48-hour turnaround formerly expected of teachers was neither plausible nor reasonable. The progress report would allow students to view their exam grades in private, eliminating the need for a polished poker face. Students would understand that these exam grades were only preliminary and would be mentally prepared to receive their exams that Monday. Finalized report cards would be released after a week, permitting time for any corrections or changes. With this schedule, teachers are free to begin any new material without interruptions to review exams in the middle of the first week. Having one day of notes followed by a day of review was disruptive to the curriculum and students’ overall efficiency at learning new information. We recognize the reasons behind the change in releasing grades this year and appreciate the administration’s efforts to make reforms in the best interests of students and teachers. Our proposal retains the essential benefits of these changes while providing for increased student satisfaction and an efficient start to second semester.

From the editors Welcoming change

January always seems to bring changes. The appeal of a fresh start as the new year begins tempts people to set New Year’s resolutions whether it be eating healthy, trying a new activity or becoming a better person. 2014 will bring substantial changes for SJS. This week, candidates for the Upper School Head position are on campus for interviews. We trust the committee to deliberate carefully and select the best candidate to help lead our school through this time of change. In April, an estimated 3,800 people will descend on campus for the ISAS Arts Festival, which our school will host for the first time. Like other schools before us, we will open our gates to fellow students of the region to share our love for the arts, whether it be dancing, painting, photography or some other outlet for creativity. As covered on the front page of this issue, Blanco’s and River Oaks Plant House were closed towards the end of 2013 in preparation for construction that will break ground in spring 2014. Though we will miss Blanco’s and the plant house, which have been longstanding pillars of the communi-


ty, we understand the necessity of their closure. We will remember them fondly as we look towards the future. We appreciate the administration’s transparency concerning the reasons behind their actions and their plans for construction, and we approve of the direction in which the school is heading as it tries to expand while retaining the core values of SJS. We know that many students have been anxiously anticipating 2014. For seniors, 2014 is the year that has identified us through our time at SJS and will bring major changes that are both exciting and scary. Enjoy the last semester as we prepare for college and adulthood. Finish the remaining items on your high school bucket list. The rest of the Upper School knows that 2014 means SJS will transform with the destruction of the Winston building. We urge all to remain open to change, rolling with the punches and adapting to new situations as they come. We hope that the approaching challenges do not divide our community but rather help us grow together. Still, January itself can be a letdown. We get convinced that a new year will magically change everything, but

simply making a New Year’s resolution cannot change our lives. The key is commitment. Otherwise, resolutions are ultimately left abandoned and forgotten with the worst of the previous year (Harlem Shake, anyone?). Though it might not always seem like it, everyone’s fears about the changes in 2014 will likely be for naught. Use this opportunity at the start of the new year to take the reins and shape your life the way you want to. Follow Gandhi’s advice and be the change you wish to see in the world. And make the impending changes work for you. Love,

Samantha Neal, Alyyah Malick and Lydia Liu (S + Al + Ly = Sally)

The Review · St. John’s School · 2401 Claremont, Houston, TX 77019 · · 713-850-0222 · Facebook SJS Review · Twitter @SJS_Review · Instagram @_thereview

Member of the Columbia Scholastic Press Association-Crown Finalist 2014, Gold Medalist 2012 & 2013 · National Scholastic Press Association-6th Place Best of Show (2012), First Class 2012 & 2013 Editors-in-Chief Lydia Liu, Alyyah Malick, Samantha Neal Senior Design Editor Parker Donaldson Online Editor Amy Kang Assignment Editors Rebecca Chen, Pallavi Krishnarao, Megan Routbort Design Editors Jessica Lee, Christopher Zimmerman Photography Editor Jake Nyquist Video Editor Emma Gobillot Copy Editors Iris Cronin, Tiffany Yue Asst. Online Editor Cara Maines Online Copy Editor Oliver Ruhl Social Media Editor Srini Kumar Business Manager William Clutterbuck Asst. Business Manager Gabe Malek

Staff Suman Atluri, Jay Bhandari, Kelly Buckner, Joseph Caplan, Stefania Ciurea, Elliot Cheung, Jake Chotiner, Chloe Desjardins, Claire Dorfman, Caroline Harrell, Anna Huang, Priyanka Jain, Eugenia Kakadiaris, Brooke Kushwaha, Mikaela Juzswik, Amy Liu, Christian Maines, Inaara Malick, Jared Margolis, Katherine McFarlin, Isabelle Metz, Matthew Neal, Andrei Osypov, Kanchana Raja, Megan Shen, Emily Sherron, Benjamin Shou, Matthew Steiner, Jennifer Trieschman, Irene Vazquez, Michael VerMeulen, Virginia Waller, Max Westmark Advisers David Nathan, Shelley Stein (‘88), Steve Johnson

Mission Statement The Review aims to inform the St. John’s community, prompt discussion, and recognize achievements and struggles through our print and online presence. Publication Info The Review is published eight times a school year. We distribute 950 copies each issue, most of which are given for free to the Upper School community of 574 students and 80 faculty. Policies The Review provides a forum for student writing and opinion. The opinions and staff editorials contained herein do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Headmaster or the Board of Trustees of St. John’s School. Staff editorials represent the opinion of the entire

editorial board unless otherwise noted. Writers and photographers are credited with a byline. Corrections, when necessary, can be found on the editorial pages. Running an advertisement does not imply endorsement by the school. Submission Guidelines Letters to the editor and guest columnists are encouraged but are subject to editing for reasons of clarity, space, accuracy and good taste. On occasion, we will publish letters anonymously, provided the editor knows the author’s identity. The Review reserves the right not to print letters received. Either email letters and guest columns to review.sjs@gmail. com; give them to David Nathan in the Review Room (Q-210); or mail letters to The Review, 2401 Claremont, Houston, TX 77019.





Top Ten Gratitudes for 2014

by Joseph Caplan

1. Air Conditioning Just ask any senior. Without AC, some might call senior country the Sahara, or the sun, but most would just look at you, break down, and cry. Let’s be thankful for an air-conditioned 2014.

2. Technology Wizards Can you imagine living without these technologies? If you went back in time to the 1600s and you showed your iPod to some random passerby, there is a 1% chance you’d be hailed as a genius and a 99% chance you would be burned for dark magic. That’s awesome!

3. The Backpack Remember those Middle School days when we had to carry our books to and from each class, looking like bumbling fools? I have not opened a locker since the 2nd week of freshman year, and, to be honest, I have no clue where my locker is this year.

4. Celebrity Breakdowns I would just like to send a thank you to all those celebrities who break down on national T.V. and flood the internet. You always make us feel better about ourselves, and for that we are grateful to you.


It’s not easy being green Even though River Oaks Plant House closed, its iconic topiaries remain in their positions along Buffalo Speedway for the time being. River Oaks Plant House closed Dec. 31, 2013 and moved to 6103 Kirby Drive near Rice Village.


Seniors should enjoy their final chapter

5. The Color Brown Brown is unfairly treated as the ugly duckling of the color palette. Why, I ask! Brown is everywhere: my hair, bears, sack lunches. All of these things are wonderful. In 2014, I think we should all be a little more thankful for the color brown.

6. Bad Grades Maybe you did really earn a higher grade on that paper. Perhaps you did show sufficient work on that math problem. What are you going to do about it? Whine to your friends? Yes, you will. The funny thing is, on the next five tests, that work will be shown. For the next paper, you will read more than just eight pages of the book. Thank you, teachers who give us bad grades for leading us to success through failure.

7. The Pillow Where would we be without our pillows? I’ll tell you where we would be. We would be lying down in our beds, thinking to ourselves, “Gosh, you know, I’m sort of uncomfortable.”

8. Dino-killing asteroids

by Elliot Cheung

Honestly, if I had to sum up my first semester senior year in a word, I might say “writing.” I spent about half my time in Starbucks, typing out whatever piece of writing was due soonest, much like I am right now. Between history papers, English pop culture blogs and 35 college essays, there was always something to write. And, of course, I tried my best to keep supplying columns like this one, both for the print and online, and I wish

Learning to appreciate the little things

9. The ability to sit

10. Cows What would we ever do without cows? I’d have to eat dry cereal. While I’m not planning on being a vegetarian, I’m going to be more thankful for these magical, milk-producing mammals in 2014.

think these friendships will last. Despite all the stress and caffeine ingestion that came from all the writing, last semester was my favorite so far; I’m sad to see it go. But at the same time, I’m excited for what is to come. Second semester senior year is famous (and notorious) for being the time to relax and have fun after college applications are all done. The schoolwork is still there, but the level of stress and anxiety drops drastically without the pall of unfinished essays clouding the air. I hope the trend of making and strengthening great friendships can continue through this next semester until we have to graduate. Perhaps I’ll be able to write more for enjoyment rather than from necessity. First semester was awesome, let’s make second semester better.


As cool as it would be to park a stegosaurus in Senior Lot, I would rather not be watching the Texans on Sunday when suddenly a pterodactyl swoops down and gobbles up Andre Johnson. Thank you, asteroid that exterminated the dinosaurs for making 2014 Fantasy Football possible.

Have you ever thought about a life in which nobody has discovered how to sit down? Just think about if, for some reason, the ability to sit just vanished in 2014. We would all be driving to school on highspeed Segways since cars are now unfathomable.

I could have done more. While I do enjoy writing about myself most of the time, there’s a threshold beyond which it becomes excessive. Just typing out this column gives me flashbacks to last semester. But there’s the other part of my first semester that made it all worthwhile. There’s something about senior year that seems to bring people together. Perhaps it’s the sentimentality that comes with the sudden realization that we as a class will soon part ways. Perhaps we seniors become more confident and freer to open up to each other because heading off to college makes any embarrassment matter less. Or perhaps we bond over the mutual stress of completing college applications. It’s entirely possible that I simply became a more social person. Whatever the case, I made some of my best friendships last semester, both making new friends and strengthening old bonds. I hope and

by Christian Maines

The first semester of school has been a rollercoaster: Justise Winslow committed to Duke University, asps plagued the campus, Fred Lang earned sixth place in the Siemens National Competition and Jaywalking became somewhat popular. The span between the first day of school and the last midterm feels like a blur with multiple ups and downs. We gathered SPC finishes into our cornucopia despite an exciting, albeit ultimately disappointing, Kinkaid Game.

With the flurry of activity, it’s easy to get caught up in all the events of the Storied Cloisters. Rants in the hallways often turn competitive (we love to point out how we have more work to do than everyone else). Yet, the truth is that all of us on campus, students and faculty alike, have our own busy schedules that present unique challenges. It’s important to focus not only on the everyday happenings of school, but also on the little things that make life beautiful. Spending time outdoors is one of my favorite things. Listening to birds chirp and looking at beautiful foliage make life more enjoyable. Putting on some music and listening to the sound of rainfall, preferably at the same time, tends to enrich the time I spend on homework. These little things can make our time at SJS more meaningful. This is not to say that academic, athletic and artistic successes should take a

backseat. There is absolutely no question that they are essential, and anyone who says otherwise misses the point of attending SJS. That being said, drifting into the mindset that the only things that matter are what scores you get on exams and whether you made the cut for your team is an equally grave mistake. A new year has finally arrived, and with it come new opportunities. It’s time to make a change in your routine; stop yourself as you prattle on about all the things you have to do — everybody has to do them. Flying through each day to get to the weekend means that you just missed five more days of your life, and then ten, and then twenty, and then a whole semester. As we transition from the winter break back into school, there is no better time to start embracing both the little and the large challenges and blessings of life.




‘Entrebrewneur’ Soroka founds cafe, brewery Alum passionate about food partners with friends to establish critically acclaimed restaurant


From finance to food Eatsie Boys, established by Ryan Soroka (’02) and his friends from Bauer College, serves dishes such as “Intergalactic Waffles” (lower left) and “8th Wonder Onion Rings.” In 2013, the Houston Chronicle named Eatsie Boys cafe to its Top 100 Restaurants and its mobile counterpart is on The Daily Meal’s Top 101 Best Food Trucks list. by Christopher Zimmerman


fter being laid off from his fiance job during the 2007 recession, Ryan Soroka (’02) turned to his lifelong love — food. He partnered with several friends to establish the 8th Wonder Brewery and the Eatsie Boys food truck and cafe in Houston. “I remember that hanging out at the [SJS] cafeteria was always a good time. There was good food and lots of friends,” Soroka said. “That is what we tried to do with Eatsie Boys and 8th Wonder.” After abandoning finance, Soroka attended University of Houston and earned his Masters in Hospitality Management from Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management and an MBA with an emphasis in Entrepreneurship from Bauer College. There, Soroka came up with the idea of establishing a brewpub. “I wrote up the business plan for 8th Wonder Brewery in 2009 as a report for one of my classes,” Soroka said, “but later I realized that the laws did not allow for a favorable brewpub model to be executed

appropriately — in my humble opinion.” Friend and partner Alex Vassilakidis approached Soroka with the idea of starting a Greek food truck. “The food truck gave me the opportunity to get back that food aspect that I lost from the brewery, but we decided not to limit ourselves to one cuisine,” Soroka said. “Neither of us knew how to cook, so we decided to partner with our friend, Matt Marcus, who is a Culinary Institute of America-trained chef.” In December 2010, the trio purchased a trailer and began catering private dinners and events. They sold hot foods like sandwiches at farmers’ markets before taking the food truck around town. “We kept the trailer for about nine months, but we decided it was too hot during summer, so we bought a small school bus,” Soroka said. “We sold ice cream until January 2011 and decided to add hot food.” Eatsie Boys gained recognition from Houston-area food critics. The attention began to attract potential investors for 8th Wonder. “There was and is always something to

overcome as a small business, especially when it comes to preserving your culture and initial dream,” Soroka said. “We just had to believe in ourselves. I also love the human element and the fact that we are making things and sharing them with other people.” The three founders of Eatsie Boys partnered with brewmaster and University of Houston Professor Aaron Corsi to establish 8th Wonder Brewery. After realizing that a brewpub would not be economically viable, Soroka decided to concentrate on starting a brewery instead. Rather than selling food and beer as brewpubs do, breweries solely make and distribute beer. “People found out about our idea for 8th Wonder, so we got several private investors and signed a lease in May 2011 in East Downtown Houston,” Soroka said. “We were picky about who we chose as investors because we wanted people who shared our interests and had a passion for the business.” In 2012, Soroka and the rest of the Eatsie Boys established Eatsie Boys Cafe in Montrose. “Having a brick-and-mortar building

gave us the benefits of being grounded and stable, but we also had to hire staff where it used to just be the three of us,” Soroka said. “We had to become more consistent as well with our food and lifestyle. We couldn’t not go to work just because it was raining.” The cafe recently celebrated its one-year anniversary. “We try to bring an innovative twist on classic, casual comfort food,” Soroka said. “The whole brand is also a play on The Beastie Boys.” Last February, 8th Wonder Brewery brewed its first batch of beer. It serves around 50 restaurants and bars in the Houston area. “I think the success comes from hard work, passion, dedication, good fortune and education,” Soroka said. “SJS specifically taught me a good work ethic and how to invest in myself and my interests.” Soroka has grand plans for the future, aiming to triple production at the brewery and develop a second location for Eatsie Boys. “We love people,” Soroka said, “and we love what we do.”

Catching up with

former Boys’ Soccer Captains

Andre Gras (’13)

Jackson Jhin (’13)

Tim McDugald (’11)

I’m a freshman at SMU studying Computer Science and Business Management. Next semester, I’ll be taking a lot of cool classes, such as one where I’ll build an automated robot that checks water for hazardous chemicals. I have been mostly involved in my schoolwork and fun aspects of college. I tried out with the club soccer team for the first week, but my computer science classes are always during soccer practice, so I didn’t end up playing with them. I’m planning on playing intramural indoor soccer next semester when it starts up. I go to soccer practice at SJS as much as possible to play with the team and support them. I’m really excited to see this year’s team bringing in this dynasty of success.

I’m a freshman at Notre Dame. Right now I intend to double major in Finance and International Economics, an economics degree with a language focus (mine is Italian). I’ve been involved with campus DJing, music performances and student international business club (SIBC). Through SIBC, I’ve worked on a mock engagement with a consulting firm on Tesla Motors and traveled to Chicago. Next semester, the main interhall soccer and lacrosse seasons start. Interhall sports are huge because you stay in the same residence hall for four years. Luckily, I’ve been able to keep up with some soccer in our indoor court, but with two feet of snow on the ground, it’s hard to play many outdoor sports except for snow football.

I transferred from Austin Community College to the University of Texas at Austin. It’s a solid route for those who really want to be at UT. Being at Texas is a lot different than SJS. I’m currently double majoring in Biological Engineering and Portuguese. The course load is heavy, but my passion for Portuguese makes it a little easier. As far as extracurricular activities, I try to keep it fairly simple as my course work is so time consuming. I am in the choir and am the vice president of the Botanical Society. I play on my fraternity’s intramural soccer team, but I have found my true calling on the clays of tennis courts. I hope everything is going well at SJS, and by no means should anyone ever skip class.




Opinionated former Review columnist lands editorial position with Houston Chronicle Mintz eschews legal aspirations for lifelong passion for journalism by Iris Cronin and Amy Liu

Evan Mintz (’04) had no trouble pinpointing the moment he lost his position as opinions editor for The Review. “I was angry about something,” Mintz said, “and I threatened to throw a chair. I think we realized then that I was not temperamentally suited for that editorial position.” Mintz, then a senior, was instead made the satire editor and tasked with spearheading the annual satire issue. “I did that job almost entirely single-handedly. The other editors just didn’t have a feel for [writing satire],” Mintz said. “That issue mostly made fun of the mascot change and other campus happenings.” Hot-button topics were nothing new to Mintz, who joined the Review as a cartoonist in his junior year. “Besides making fun of George W. Bush, my artwork had some really weird, avant-garde stuff,” Mintz said. “I tried to express a lot of obscure symbolism in my cartoons. It was fun seeing everyone confused about my work.” Mintz also continued to court controversy with his writing. “One of my biggest hits during my time at The Review was a column I wrote discussing chapel,” Mintz said. “I basically outlined all the reasons we didn’t need it.” Kathryn van der Pol, the Review adviser during Mintz’s tenure on the newspaper, defends the article as a legitimate expression of his opinion. “Chapel was not popular among a certain segment of the student body. The publication of ‘Chapel’s Religious Nature is Inherently Wrong’ triggered a firestorm, not the least of which were attacks on the paper itself, the judgment of the adviser and threats of future censorship,” van der Pol said. “My belief is that the answer to speech you disagree with is always more speech, never censorship. Opinions are meant to stimulate discussion or to reflect minority views that have the right to be said and heard.” Mintz even received death threats from the community because of the opinions in his article. But controversial ideas were not out of character for Mintz, as classmate and fellow cartoonist Matt Dunn (’04) recalled. “[Mintz] has always had strong opinions,” Dunn said. “But I think The Review presented him with his first real opportunity to have a voice, to be heard and to evoke a reaction with what he had to say. The Review was his outlet.” Mintz did not always have a strong interest in the liberal arts. His interest in politics was not piqued until George W. Bush’s contested victory in the 2000 election. He began to shift away from his middle school strengths of math and science. “Up until then, I thought of myself as some sort of science nerd,” Mintz said. “In high school, I had to realize that I could direct my focus elsewhere. I took the hardest history courses, along with philosophy and Latin.” Mintz received encouragement from parents, friends and teachers to become involved in The Review, adding another activity to his list of extracurriculars, which already included Quiz Bowl and the Junior

States of America. “I loved JSA because I could take a stance and argue it,” Mintz said. “That was what I did best.” Writing for The Review allowed Mintz to learn about the method behind the argument. “The Review encouraged him to work a lot harder at forming, clarifying and publishing his views,” Dunn said. “The repetition of writing well and thinking analytically, the incremental honing of skills and perspectives — good habits built on good practice.” Mintz continued to pursue journalism at Rice University, where he majored in history and wrote for The Rice Thresher, the student newspaper. “Rice had no journalism major, but I still spent the majority of my time in the Thresher offices,” Mintz said. Mintz managed to inspire controversy in his first week when he wrote a piece criticizing campus religious groups for aggressive self-promotion. “I thought it was inappropriate,” Mintz said. “People were trying to get settled in for the first time; students didn’t need anyone in their face trying to convert them to a religion.” Mintz was named opinions editor during his freshman year at Rice, and he was promoted to back-page editor the following year. By the time he was a senior, he had been elected by the Thresher staff to the position of executive editor. After graduating from Rice, Mintz attended Yeshiva University’s Cardozo School of Law in New York City. There, Mintz wrote for the student newspaper as well. “My opinion pieces elicited the response of the law school dean,” Mintz said. “I also continued to write on my blog, with pieces about Rice University selling KTRU that resulted in the university president’s wife calling my mom.” Mintz first encountered the Houston Chronicle when the paper cited a passage from his blog, which described a Facebook conversation between him and a friend about James Franco. “This friend was angry that I had even posted our talk on the internet,” Mintz said. “I posted a screenshot of a public Facebook wall, so it didn’t occur to me that putting that in another place would be so distressing.” What appeared to be a one-time coincidence led Mintz to his current position as editorial writer for the Houston Chronicle. Outside of the newsroom, Mintz reads a many print and online publications to keep aware of current events. “I read the New York Times, The Chronicle and local blogs such as Big Jolly Politics and Swamplot,” Mintz said. “For pop culture stories, I read sites like Jezebel. I do need to subscribe to the Wall Street Journal because their paywall actually works.” Junior Emery Mintz admires his brother’s career choice. “Even after law school, [Evan] still pursued his true passion of writing,” Emery said. “It’s something that’s really respectable and inspiring.” Journalism has taught Mintz important life lessons. “When I think back, I see that I definitely learned something in the whole process of journalism,” Mintz said. “I learned how to stand on my own two feet, to push the boundaries and to speak up for myself.”


Man of many talents Evan Mintz (’04) displays his cartoon in 2003 issue of The Review. Despite joining the newspaper as a cartoonist, Mintz also wrote opinion pieces, pursuing his interest in journalism before becoming an editorial writer for the Houston Chronicle.




Squash players dominate four-walled court Nationally-ranked student athletes pursue fast-paced racquet game through camps, tournaments


Squash is more than a gourd Racquet in hand, sophomore Chris Zimmerman, who has played squash since he was eight, lunges to take a swing. Zimmerman, who plays for around six hours during the week and nine hours during the weekend, practices with classmate David Lu at The Downtown Club at The Met, and the two also play in national tournaments. by Gabe Malek

only for its technique and pace, but also for its physical benefits. Forbes magazine ranked squash is the healthiest sport to play in 2003. “Squash is so healthy because you involve your entire body when you swing,” Zimmerman said. “You sprint to get the ball and then backpedal to the middle of the court; you are constantly moving.” A game is played to 11 points and players must win by two. A match is won with best three out of five games. This scoring format was developed ten years ago to speed up the game, part of national effort

91 and Zimmerman is ranked No. 143 in the U17 United States rankings. avid Lu and Chris Zimmerman Sophomore Joe Faraguna said, “I haven’t squash their opponents in more played David, but since he’s one of the best ways than one. players in the nation, I’m sure it would end These sophomores play squash, a racket poorly.” sport and cousin of tennis, at The DownZimmerman believes that the current town Club at The Met. ranking system puts him at a disadvantage. “In first grade, I had a South African “If you have one bad tournament, it’s friend who introduced me to the sport,” easy to cancel it out if you play around Zimmerman said. “We would take lessons fifteen tournaments a year because you can in groups of four, but I never really took pick and choose from your tournaments it seriously because I was only eight at the which scores you want to keep. Since I time.” can’t play that many tournaments, every Zimmerman introduced Lu to the tournament counts towards my ranksport two years ago. ing,” Zimmerman said. “I started playing seriously at the The absence of young squash players end of summer in seventh grade,” Lu in the south often forces Lu and Zimsaid. “We were sitting around, and we merman to play against adults. “It’s hard to get squash into the didn’t have anything to do so I said “There’s a different atmosphere beOlympics because people are so tween to Chris, ‘Remember the last time we juniors and adults,” Lu said. “In unfamiliar with it.” played squash, and I beat you?’ So, general most adults I play against are he said ‘Put your money where your playing for fun rather than competing mouth is.’ We went that weekend to David Lu to improve their skill for a tournasee who was better.” ment.” Squash is played in a four-walled Lu and Zimmerman often compete court with a racquet and a hollow rubin national squash tournaments and ber ball. Players take turns hitting the ball to make squash an Olympic sport. attend squash camps. They have been against the front wall, and the ball must “It’s hard to get squash into the Olymtrying to get students interested in playing bounce once on the floor before a player pics because people are so unfamiliar squash so they can establish a juniors divireturns it. with it,” Lu said. “Even if you don’t know sion in Houston. “Squash is a very fast-paced game, tennis, you can still appreciate some insane “It’s tough because there’s nobody to especially compared to other racquet shots. In squash, some of the best shots really play against, and there’s no faculty sports,” Zimmerman said. “In tennis, you don’t look like they’re amazing; they make sponsor who could go with us to the Met have minutes between points, while in it look way too easy. If you don’t underon weekends,” Zimmerman said. squash you have seconds, and a little over a stand how hard a ball is to hit, you aren’t Lu and Zimmerman have introduced minute between games. Not only that, the going to appreciate what’s going on.” many of their friends to squash, including balls are hit at nearly 125 to 130 mph, and Although squash is not an Olympic Faraguna. you’re in a little box, sprinting around.” sport, it is part of the World Games for “I had played racquetball and found that When he first began playing squash, both women and men. squash was really fun as well,” Faraguna Lu had an injury obstructing him from “The World Games are important, but said. playing tennis, but this did not prevent squash’s ultimate goal is competition in Although both Lu and Zimmerman face him from participating in squash due to the Olympics,” Zimmerman said. “The challenges in their squash endeavors, they the differences in the way the two sports Olympics is universally recognized as hope to continue to play in the future. are played. the top level of competition and the top “If I could play in college, that would be “When people play tennis, they hit with achievement for all sports, and if included, fantastic,” Zimmerman said, “but squash a ton of top spin,” Lu said. “It really ensquash would gain world-wide attention isn’t a sport that schools give scholarships gages your wrist, forearm and elbow, and from participation in the Olympics.” for.” the way I swung put a lot of stress on my Zimmerman plays about six hours Lu also believes that college squash outer elbow. In squash, it’s more similar to during the week and nine hours over the could be an option. golf or a forehand frisbee throw. The swing weekend. Lu averages seven and a half “I wouldn’t say I’m planning on playing is not putting extra stress on any joint.” hours during the week and 12 hours over squash in college, but it could happen,” Lu Squash stands out from other sports not the weekend. Currently, Lu is ranked No. said. “I’ll see where it takes me.”


INSIDE SQUASH Rankings according to average number of points scored per tournament for at least four tournaments. Boys and girls are entered according to age in Under 11, 13, 15, 17 and 19 divisions. Bronze Lowest level of tournaments in which beginners usually compete. The winner gets 300 points. Silver Also a lower-level competition. The winner is awarded 700 points. Gold The top 32 juniors who apply are accepted. Winner receives 2000 points. JCT (Junior Championship Tour): Highest level available to juniors. Only the top 32 players in the nation are accepted. The winner receives 3500 points. World Open: The biggest pro tournament venue changes annually. Sixty-four male players are drawn and compete in five rounds leading up to the final. Thirty-two females are drawn and play in a separate competition. British Open: The second largest squash tournament, also known as the “Wimbledon of Squash.” The British Open was established in 1930 and will be held in Hull, England this year. Tournament of Champions: Previously called the US Professional Champions, this international tournament takes place in Grand Central Station in New York City. U.S. Open: Held in Philadelphia, this competition is part of the World Series for the Professional Squash Association and the Women’s Squash Association.




Winter athletes endure inclement weather to ensure preparedness for SPC counter games

Teams turn up the heat despite cold weather, practice during break by Rebecca Chen and Michael VerMeulen

Sports face a myriad of challenges during the winter season: bipolar Houston weather, midterms week and two breaks interrupting the season. For swimmers, practice takes place outdoors at the Briar Club and is canceled when the temperature drops below 50 degrees. So far, swimming practice has been canceled eleven times because of frigid weather. “If nothing else, the swim team members bond over our mutual hatred for the cold and daily meetings with hypothermia,” captain Jeffrey Fastow said. “Occasionally it gets so cold that we lose most feeling in our limbs and have trouble breathing, but hey, we brave the biting winters of Houston as a team, which makes it all the more bearable.” The diving team practices separately at Lamar and consists of two divers, junior Tiffany Yue and senior David Ziemnicki. “I expect all divers to qualify for SPC and win good points there,” Ziemnicki said. Swimming and diving both had practices over break, several of which were canceled due to weather. Soccer also trained over break. The boys met most days, excluding holidays. They also scrimmaged against St. Pius and played with girls from Kinkaid. “Joined by alumni, Kinkaid players and the St. Pius team, [Coach Allan] Ziad helped make soccer practices an exciting variation from normal season practices,” junior Akshay Jaggi said. “They were definitely weird, but very fun.” The prospect of interrupting vacations with soccer practices seems to dampen the holidays, but players understood the necessity. “I am completely fine with having practices over the break,” sophomore Chris Randall said. “At the same time, the break is nice since we have a vast amount of games.” Girls’ soccer practiced after New Year’s in the mornings. “I think it was a great way to get everyone comfortable with the ball and work with each other again,” captain Jacqueline


Bend it like Beckham Girls’ soccer practices on Skip Lee Field despite the dropping temperatures and earlier winter sunsets. Like other winter sports teams, girls’ soccer held practices over the break to keep in shape and prepare for upcoming SPC counter games.

Simmons said. shape and strong,” junior Raymond Yuan As SPC approaches, the team is focused said. “They also help make sure you are on doing their best. ready to go as soon as we get back.” “I’m really excited to see what we can do As defending SPC champions, wrestlers with this season,” Simmons said. “We have are ready to work hard for another title. a lot of young talent and a lot of potential. “The team has rebuilt well in the off- seaThis could be son to recover the team that from the loss of makes girls those great sesoccer a major niors last year,” SJS sport.” “The swim team members bond senior Douglas Wrestling not Moody said. over our mutual hatred for the only held pracLike wrescold.” tices over wintling, basketball ter break, but trained and Jeffrey Fastow competed over also attended a tournament the winter held at College break. Station, Dec. The girls had 21. practices during the holiday vacation and “It was a great way to stay in shape and also competed in two tournaments, one of refocus for the second half of the season,” which was Dec. 26 in Willis, Tex. junior Orion Hicks said. “It stinks to have breaks between the Wrestlers appreciated the chance to hone season, and I understand that practices are their skills over winter break. essential, but it sometimes felt like we were “I feel like the practices help keep you in practicing for practicing’s sake,” senior

Chloe Francis said. “My main problem was that I was expected to drop everything the day after Christmas during the few times my family is together. Basketball also infringed on the time I needed to finish January 1 [college] apps.” The boys’ basketball team competed in three tournaments and won the Houston Independent School District tournament for the second year in a row. “I think tournaments are a good way for them to play a bunch of teams that aren’t in our conference,” manager Vicky Zhang said. Despite inclement weather and interrupting break, winter practices prove to be rewarding for athletes. “Although coming back from break and getting back into the daily routine is difficult,” girls’ swimming captain Chloe Desjardins said, “I get a great feeling when I know I am back in swimming shape and know that the team’s hard work will pay off at SPC.”

Upon further review with Swimming and Diving


Captain Jeffrey Fastow’s time in the 100 freestyle in a meet, Dec. 3. Fastow set a school record. He also has records in the 100 breaststroke and 200 freestyle relay. “For me, records never come when I’m expecting them,” Fastow said. “Swimming is a sport about particulars. It’s the little things that count most.”


Number of freshmen on the girls’ swim team. “Although I was reluctant to join the swim team without any of my freshman friends, it has been an incredible experience getting to know the older students,” Grace Wilson said. “I almost never feel like the novice of the team. From the start, I have been included and respected.”


Total dives that divers must master for SPC. Five are voluntary dives: front, back, reverse, inward and twist. The other six are chosen from each of the categories plus one additional dive. “Every time I have to try a new dive, I’m terrified,” junior Sarah Hansen said. “It’s unlike any sport I’ve done because you have to land headfirst.”


Finding Nemo Senior Daniel Bland takes a breath in the breaststroke.





Star-gazing Junior Katherine Wu performs in fellow junior Rebecca Nikonowizc’s piece “Crystallize” in the Student Choreography Showcase on Dec. 6, 2013. The showcase featured 11 dances with a total of 28 students participating as dancers and/or choreographers.

Sixty Seconds


with Julia Boyce

As the new year rolls around, we are still printing your hilarious submissions. Here’s one from sophomore Julia Boyce. Name Julia Boyce (but I respond to Emily) Grade Sassy sophomore State of mind Sleepy Known for My sister Color Purple Happiness When I remember to bring a jacket to WHAP Misery When there aren’t breakfast tacos Sports team Mavs duh Olympic sport Women’s Gymnastics Fav spot on campus The couch in H. Reynold’s old room Dream date Professor Jordan Relationship status Erm Comfort food Kraft Mac & Cheese

Jan. 10 Hate to love Production Week Love to hate Production Week Guilty pleasure Netflix (except I’m not guilty about it) Cafeteria food Peppermint and Chocolate soft serve Place to live Wherever Tom Daley is I wish I knew how to tame my hair Treasured possession My backpack The best thing Leggings and a long-sleeve t-shirt Spirit animal I’ve been told it’s fox Hero Elastagirl Superpower Being able to study through osmosis Book You expect me to pick just one? TV show When TBS plays “A Christmas Story” for 24 hours Movie Love Actually

Video game Does Candy Crush count Website Buzzfeed Phobia Scary movies Stress reliever Organization Hidden talent I can spell in a very unconventional way (speech or speach?) Motto Get ‘em next time, champ Sing in the shower? Who doesn’t? Item of Clothing My pink toe socks Secretly I’ve never walked all the way around the second floor of the quad Doppelganger Jennifer Lawrence (can’t you tell) I am Really hoping this submission gets chosen! I’d rather Be at hoooome with Ray Follow us? You know it

I broke my hand. I can’t cure cancer anymore! Fred Lang overexaggerates his soccer injury after returning from Siemens


Auditions for Music Chapel in VST 108 during lunch


Freshmen SAC elections in W205 Auditions for Music Chapel in VST 108 during lunch Auditions for Maverick Magic at 3:30 p.m. - 5:30 p.m. in VST 110


Late Start Auditions for Maverick Magic at 3:30 p.m. - 5:30 p.m. in VST 110

Word for word Soundbites around campus Hey guys, Dean Popp just sent a correction: tomorrow is no UNDERwear day at SJS. Luke Kramer (mis)notifies Facebook about updated uniform regulations

Girls’ soccer vs. EHS on Caven at 5 p.m. Girls’ basketball vs. EHS at 5:30 p.m. at home Boys’ soccer vs. EHS at 7 p.m. on Caven Boys’ basketball vs. EHS at 7 p.m. at home Swimming and Diving Meet in Cor pus Christie

You don’t need a calculator because in this world we stand alone. Mr. Quillen discourages the use of technology in Algebra II Advanced


Sophomore SAC elections in W205 Auditions for Music Chapel in VST 108 during lunch


Junior SAC elections in W205

Dr. Loughmiller: What is the difference between Fahrenheit and Celsius? Austin Askew: F is for freedom and C is for Commie.

Breadth is when bread dies and becomes toast. Carl Bernicker defines vocabulary on an English course evaluation

Austin Askew differentiates between systems of measurement

By the numbers

School days left until Spring Break

I was watching “Titanic,” and everyone was melting into puddles of tears and estrogen. Mia Mirkovic comments on the feels while viewing the emotional movie


No School for Martin Luther King Jr. Day


South Asian Affinity Group Assembly in the Lowe Theater



Maverick Magic in Lowe Theater at 7 p.m.


Derrick Gay Assembly in Lowe Theater


TPSMEA All-State Choir and Band “Completely Hollywood” debuts in the Black Box at 7:30 p.m.



Skiing and sand Popular spring break destinations include two different extremes—skiing in the cold mountains or relaxing on a tropical beach. Even though winter break has only just come to a close, we are already counting down the days until our next extended break.

TPSMEA All-State Choir and Band Encore performances of “Complete ly Hollywood” in the Black Box at 4 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Wrestling Prep School Individuals at EHS




Blast from the Past

Exploring might-have-beens with Latin teacher Mindy Wolfrom This past summer I came across my old drawings from junior high school. There was one assignment from 7th grade where we had to choose an adjective that described us, draw a picture associated with it and add a caption. My adjective was Earthy, and my caption was, “Everybody thinks I’m weird, maybe now people will think I’m normal.” I laughed so hard when I read it because it reminded me of the difficulties I had when I was a teenager and how little any of it matters now as an adult. At the time, I was a little different. I did not like (and thus did not really participate in) my high school experience (which is ironic now since I teach high school).

Charted  By Tiffany Yue


I remember being a self-professed loner high school early, but at the time I could who wanted to eat her lunch alone in the not appreciate anything that high school library while reading tragic Sylvia Plath was offering me. novels. When I discovered that I could Teaching at a school like SJS, I am not take a high school equivalency exam and embarrassed to admit that I was a little weird as a kid because everyone at this start college sooner, I thought, “Sign me school seems to have a little bit of it too. up.” Who really knows what “normal” is anyAfter answering 100 questions and an way? The most interesting people in essay, I passed the exam that signaled the world are all a little weird. my freedom from high school I have come to accept that and my advance toward it does not matter what adulthood – all at the age other people think of of 15. Did you know? Now that I teach high me anyway, so long Ms. Wolfrom’s cats as I am happy about school students, I see who I am. how I missed out on are named Hades being a kid by leaving

and Persephone

McComic By Katherine McFarlin



Starting school on a Monday ... Taking the SAT the day of Cotillion ... Calculating your semester GPA before report cards come out ... The fact that Whipple Hill is not an actual hill

Finishing college apps on New Year’s Eve ... Spending the last two days of winter break locked in the Review room ... Rediscovering 2010 on Facebook during finals week ... Wearing three coats on free outerwear day

Forgetting to eat because you’re studying too intensely ... Wearing the same shirt for four years in a row on Red and Black days ... Actually understanding the Latin in Ms. Hagerty’s chapel speech ...

Featured Instagram sjs_spirit (Spirit Club) Already an active user of Twitter and Facebook, Spirit Club expanded to another medium of social media — Instagram. Spirit Club encourages student attendance at sporting events and provides game results for all teams, including girls’ cross country which won SPC (right). Seniors Kelly Buckner, Sarah Gow, Ginny Griffin, Cameron Hull, Nikhila Krishnan and Gracie Voss (center) run Spirit Club’s social media presence. The photo collage of the basketball team in red (left) notified the account’s followers that tonight’s home game will be a redout.

Facebook SJS Review Instagram _thereview Twitter @SJS_Review Website





Vortex of Activity





During the winter season, students trade backpacks for musical instruments, navy polo shirts for team jerseys, pencils for bobby pins. With the abundance of performances and sporting events, the unique talents of the SJS community become readily apparent during the holiday season. Student Choreography Showcase highlights the creativity and dedication of the choreographers and dancers involved. With lighting design done by their peers in Johnnycake, dancers, such as senior Kristen Santiago, leap across the stage (Photo 1). During Candlelight, the entire community crowds into St. John the Divine. Amidst poinsettias and lit candles, the audience listens

to the melodious notes of Zack Lee’s violin (2) and the harmonies of choral groups (5). On a sunny afternoon, freshman Elle Clonts dribbles past an Awty player, demonstrating her soccer prowess as the girls’ team triumphs over Awty, 2-0 (3). In a packed gym, senior Risher Randall and the boys’ basketball team play against the Falcons (4). Though the Mavericks fell 61-51, the teams will meet again, Jan. 24. As 2014 begins, make sure to support your peers outside the classroom. Cheer at the Winter SPC games. Attend the choral and instrumental concerts. Sing along with the soundtrack of the musical. Experience and enjoy the talents of the SJS community.

Photos by Jake Nyquist (1,3,4) and Meredith Lloyd (2, 5) Story by Pallavi Krishnarao and Lydia Liu

January 2014 Issue  
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