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New principal Dwyer completes the picture John Dwyer shares his personal values and insight as the recently chosen new principal of Lynbrook



t the March 26 FUHSD board meeting, District Superintendent Polly Bove announced that John Dwyer would be the new Lynbrook principal for the 2013-2014 school year. Dwyer was selected after an extensive screening process involving paper applications, two interviews and a public forum held on March 11. Originally from New Zealand, Dwyer has traveled to 51 countries, including India, Chile, and Egypt. He strongly remembers his trip to Jordan and Israel, during which he was training for the London Marathon. “Everywhere I went running, kids would follow after me in a crowd—some running, some on bikes, some on donkeys,” said Dwyer. “As I ran, some kids would drop off and more would join. It must have looked pretty funny with me leading a pack of kids on the roads through little villages and towns!” Dwyer has held several teaching and administrative positions during his 30-year career. He began as a history and English teacher in New Zealand, where he worked as an educator until he was 25 years old. After leaving New Zealand in 1989, Dwyer taught in East London for several years. Most recently, he has been the principal of Foothill High School since 2007. Lynbrook, where 80% of students are Asian or Indian, is vastly different from a school like Foothill, which is approximately

72% Caucasian. Despite these demographic differences, Dwyer believes that he will be able to adapt without much difficulty, since he believes students from all cultural backgrounds share fundamental similarities. “From my experiences traveling and working around the world, I’ve learned that all kids have two things in common: they want to learn and they want their teachers to care about and love them,” said Dwyer. Current principal Gail Davidson, who also has significant experience as an educator in other countries, recognized the benefit of Dwyer’s diverse background. “Having worked all over the world, [Dwyer] brings a global perspective and an ability to see the big picture to Lynbrook, which will help him embrace all that is Lynbrook and the Silicon Valley,” said Davidson. A major part of the selection process was ensuring that staff liked the candidate. An interview panel of 15 people, including staff, students and parents, questioned each one of the three finalists to give Bove input on the decision. Biology teacher Amanda Alonzo, who served on the panel, echoed Davidson’s sentiment that Dwyer’s global perspective will be helpful at Lynbrook. “I really liked how Dwyer had big ideas and was passionate about them just like Mrs. Davidson is,” said Alonzo. “Neither of them is focused on the bureaucracy of running a school.” see NEW PRINCIPAL on page 3

Funky Monkeys make it big in Boston BY SHOUVIK MANI & FRINA REDOLOZA


n the For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) Robotics Boston Regional Competition, which took place from March 21 to 23, Lynbrook Robotics Team 846 became a finalist among 50 teams for the first time in 12 years. In addition, the team took home the prestigious Engineering Inspiration Award with their robot, the Ultimate Funky Object. The team also received a $5000 grant to help fund their trip to the FIRST Robotics Championship on April 24 in St. Louis, where they will compete against the best robotics teams from around the world . This year’s challenge, called “Ultimate Ascent,” required the robot to throw discs through slots on either side of a 24 x 54 foot arena. For bonus points, the robot could climb onto a 10-foot pyramid at the end of the match. During the six-week build season prior to the competition, the team developed specialized components such as a power take-off system, which utilized the robot’s four motors and a custom-built gearbox to lift the robot on top of the pyramid. “We did better than we ever have done,”

said co-president senior Diane Wang. “This year we had a solid robot and a solid alliance. Everything worked in our favor.” Upon arriving in Boston and conducting initial trials, Team 846 realized that the robot’s disc-shooting system was malfunctioning. So, the team decided to confront this potential weakness by forming a strategic alliance. At the competition, teams were required to form alliances, which are mutually beneficial collaborations between three teams who use each other’s strengths to their advantage. For instance, Lynbrook Team 846 formed an alliance with Team 3173 from Rochester, N.Y. which had an accurate disc-shooting system. In exchange, the Lynbrook robot provided defensive support by pushing aggressive robots away. “Our robot was really versatile. The subsystems did more than they were designed to do—like pushing an opponent robot 50 feet” said freshman Rahul Iyer. For the first time since 2011, Lynbrook’s robotics team was awarded the Engineering Inspiration Award, which commemorates the team’s ability to inspire the community through outreach efforts such as demonstra-

tions at John Muir Elementary School. Moreover, by winning the award, the team qualified for the FIRST Robotics Championship Competition at St. Louis. In addition, the team competed in the local Silicon Valley Regional held at San Jose State University from April 4 to 6. At this competition in which 60 teams participated, Lynbrook Team 846 won the Imagery Award for the first time in Lynbrook history. The Imagery Award recognized the team’s integration of aesthetics into the robot’s design, the website, and newsletters. “The coolest thing about winning the Imagery Award is that we’ve become a very multifaceted team,” said Wang. “We are really proud to be able to use all of our members’ talents.” In the near future, the team hopes to continue their successful run at the FIRST Robotics Championship in St. Louis on April 24 and strive for overall improvement of their robot, in accordance with their motto “Think harder. Go faster.” “We’ve not gone far enough. We have to do even better at Champs. We’re never done with the robot,” said Vice President junior Miles Chan.


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Getting to know the newly elected ASB officers BY DHIRAJ NALLAPOTHULA & MICHELLE SU


ow that the new ASB officer-elects have had time to settle in, they have begun planning how to achieve their goals of continuing to increase school unity and activity participation for the coming year. Each officer has his or her own unique vision for how to make next year’s activities more festive and inclusive of all Lynbrook students. “Often times, what makes organizations weak is their lack of direction, so first and foremost I believe it is essential that ASB leadership as a whole figures out what it wants to achieve next year; from there, we need to constantly be working toward that goal and not lose that sense of direction,” said ASB President-elect junior Divya Saha. Saha believes that unity should be the ASB officers’ primary goal in order for the coming year to be successful. Re-elected IDC Representative junior Arnav Mishra said, “I want us to be the Lynbrook Vikings, not the class of something. I’d love to see our school act more collectively like a school, especially because when we

graduate, school unity and loyalty are what will bring us back to visit, not class unity and loyalty.” As achieving more school unity was one of the ASB officer’s main focuses this school year, next year’s ASB officers hope to build on current efforts. New unity-building activities this year include the Lynbrook sweatshirt sales and the revamped Love Week activities, both of which were resounding successes. “This past year we’ve been focusing on promoting school unity through various projects and I definitely hope to continue that goal,” said 2013-2014 ASB Vice Presidentelect junior Sarah Tang. “I want to get more people involved and active in our events by reaching out to more people, rather than only select groups.” The officers hope to continue some events from this year, while planning to fix and recreate others that were not as successful. “This year, we’ve had projects that have both succeeded and failed, allowing us to know what we can improve on next year,” said Mishra. One idea that the officers found less effec-

tive was printing the Lynbrook Fight Song on the back of ID cards to promote school spirit. Similarly, Mishra believes that the revamped Love Week was a success overall, but still has some room for improvement. In addition, 2013-2014 Social Managerelect junior Caitlin Lee seeks to improve such school events by appealing to more students. “I definitely want a lot more attendance. By incorporating new alternate activities and making things different from how they are traditionally, I want to get different crowds more involved,” said Lee. For example, Lee plans to add new, unique elements to school dances, such as real photo booths, arcade style games, a variety of food and many other ideas are still in the works. 2013-2014 ASB Treasurer-elect sophomore Amit Pasupathy also plans on continuing previous efforts to unify the school through unconventional rally themes. “By diversifying rally themes, such as having a ‘Boys vs. Girls’ rally, I hope to redirect focus from class competition to a schoolwide mentality,” said Pasupathy. The new officers also believe that unity can be established through improved com-

munication between ASB officers and the rest of the student body. “I hope to help make communication channels between the ASB and the Student Body more prominent and accessible by increasing the involvement of Legislative Council,” said 2013-2014 ASB Secretaryelect sophomore Ruchi Pandya. The new officers are also working extensively with new Principal John Dwyer to facilitate his transition and plan collaboratively for next year’s goals. “Mr. Dwyer and next year’s ASB team have spoken a lot about what both parties would like to see in each other, and we have discussed what type of administrator the students love to see. Mr. Dwyer seems to be an extremely passionate individual who will remain close to the student body and playing an active role throughout campus, both academically and in extracurricular matter,” said Mishra. With the new year comes new opportunities for fresh ideas, and the new officer-elects hope to make the coming school year stand out through improved communication and school unity.


THE NEW FACES OF THE ASB| Next year’s new ASB officers for 2012-2013, as announced on March 15. From left to right: President Divya Saha, Vice-President Sarah Tang, Secretary Ruchi Pandya, Treasurer Amit Pasupathy, Social Manager Caitlin Lee and IDC Representatives Rani Mavram and Arnav Mishra. In accordance with their overall theme of emphasizing unity within the school, each officer holds up a letter to spell the word “Vikings.”

Wind Ensemble ready to take on France BY IZZY KIPNIS

Letter from the editors


his issue of the Epic has been full of experimentation and new discoveries. Each year, staffers have the opportunity to try out different roles and new leadership positions during our eighth issue, also known as “switch issue.” To get the most out of this issue, be sure to check out page 4 for a pro/con evaluation of the effectiveness of service clubs. If you enjoy classic movies, flip to page 5 to read one staffer’s reccommendations. Take a look at page 9 to read two student’s experiences with competitive dancing, and then flip a section to read about different types of procrastination on page 12. Conclude your read with a description of the Valkyries’ experience at nationals on page 13. Happy Reading!

Sarah Tarter, Nikita Dhesikan, Jacob Antony


he music department will be sending a group of 54 students and nine adult chaperones on a musical tour to France from April 13 through April 21, making the tour the first international band trip since 2008. The instrumentalists attending this trip are primarily from the wind ensemble. However, current Instrumental Music Director, Michael Pakaluk also extended the invitation to upperclassmen and symphonic band members in order to help balance the instrumentation. Before Pakaluk came to teach at Lynbrook, the band had gone to several places such as Austria, China, and Costa Rica. After a four-year hiatus from international trips, the band is excited for France. The trip will consist of three performances at three venues including two cathedrals and at a brass orchestra festival at the Paris Conservatory of Music. This trip is geared toward enhancing the band curriculum. “We’ve been playing some music by French composers. There is one specific piece that we have been working on that is about different regions of France,” said Pakaluk. “We are going to

actually visit some of those regions to connect more with the music.” In Normandy, the band will visit beaches and see the 82nd Airborne museum. In Paris, the band will partake in a guided tour of several places including the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame. When describing the time the band will spend outside of performances, senior Mike Zhong said, “It’s important for us, as musicians, to tour around other places because after all, music is an art. It’s important to be submerged in a different culture. It’s important to have as many artistic influences as possible, from varying sources.” Additionally, Lynbrook students will have the opportunity to work with music professionals in France. For example, the band plans to take part in a clinic run by Maestro Philipe Ferro, the professor of wind instrument bands at the Paris Conservatory. Pakaluk said, “We have a professor of music at a really prestigious conservatory of music, one of the most prestigious in the world, working with us. I think that’s great. It’s the highlight of the trip for me,” said Pakaluk. After a semester dedicated towards French composers, taking a trip to France will bring the band student’s lessons to life. Sophomore Allison Tam said, “I’m excited to become immersed in French culture and

music. I’m looking forward to being more than just a tourist.” The band conducted a farewell concert on April 10 to showcase the French music it has been working on as well as to get a final practice prior to the trip. Tam said, “The concert went really well. It was so encouraging to see so many people there to support us.” This trip presents exciting opportunities to the students attending. “It’s a great bonding experience and is a way to grow as musicians,” said Pakaluk.


News in Brief Blue Pearl Lynbrook’s annual Blue Pearl jazz dance will be held on Saturday, April 27, from 7:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. in the gym. Single tickets will be sold for $15 and couple tickets will be sold for $25. All proceeds will go to Lynbrook’s music department. There will be live music, refreshments and food. Short Film Festival

The Class of 2013 will be hosting the 3rd annual film festival today, April 12, from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. in the auditorium. They will be presenting a variety of films submitted by Lynbrook students, teachers and alumni. Tickets will be sold for $5. Attendees will be able to vote for the “People’s Choice” award as well as hear the announcement of the senior prom theme. International Night Area 12’s annual International Night will be held today on April 12 from 6:00 p.m to 8:30 p.m at Monta Vista High School. Tickets will be sold for $12 at the door and all proceeds will go towards District 5170’s 2013 International Project to raise money for children in Bangladesh. A talent show will showcase acts such as the Ritards, Tino Hip Hop and Monta Vista Bhangra. Dinner will also be provided. By Samuel Chang

Silsilay garners funds for Project RISHI BY ANAND CHUKKA On March 30, the American-Indo Student Association (AISA) held their second annual Silsilay Indian showcase in the Lynbrook auditorium. The showcase featured Lynbrook and Monta Vista Bhangra teams, two singing acts, multiple studentrun dance teams, and a fashion show sponsored by Heritage India, an Indian boutique. Silsilay at Lynbrook was inspired by the Indian showcases at other schools in the Bay Area. Monta Vista, Saratoga, Homestead along with a few other local high schools host similar Indian showcases, to which Lynbrook’s Indian dance teams have been invited regularly. AISA President Sunaina Aluru said, “The other schools had so much fun at their showcases, so we wanted to host something similar and raise money for a good cause.” The entry fee was $7 with all profits going towards AISA’s charity of choice, Project Rural India Social and Health Improvement (RISHI), a charity run by professors from UCLA. This year, Silsilay made a profit of over $2200, which is around $200 more than last year. AISA is donating the entirety of the money to Project RISHI. Project RISHI has a vision to change rural India through healthcare and economic development. Project RISHI now has branches at all the UC campuses. The UCSD branch—the branch Lynbrook participates in—of Project RISHI is currently working in the village of Anandwan. Over the past year Project RISHI has funded many projects which includes an orchestra and theater group for disabled people,

health camps, water collection practices, and advanced agricultural practices. Aluru said, “I’m very happy that Lynbrook is able to give back to a larger cause and see the direct effects of our contribution.” The dances performed at the showcase were a mixture of traditional Indian dance forms, Bollywood, and hip-hop. Sophomore Divyya Munshi said, “Indian culture includes all of these different types of dance and I’m glad we included most of them during the showcase.” For the second year in a row, the Silsilay Indian showcase generated large crowds and large revenue for the AISA and for Project RISHI. In addition, Silsilay has exposed Lynbrook to the many different aspects of Indian dance, song, and fashion. Freshman Negin Mortazavi said, “I really enjoyed the performance because I was exposed to many different angles of Indian culture. It really opened my eyes on different aspects of Indian culture.”



BRINGING THE INDIAN SPICE| Above, Monta Vista Bhangra performs one of their many traditional dance routines. Above that, senior Rishi Debnath twirls junior Sunjana Yadav as part of the Indian fashion show.

NEW PRINCIPAL |Dwyer chosen to succeed Davidson continued from NEW PRINCIPAL page 1 Executive Assistant Jan Broman works closely with the principal, so the panel helped her determine whether she felt that she would work well with each candidate. “I was thrilled to hear that Dwyer was chosen as our new principal,” said Broman. “Lynbrook is a relationship-oriented school, where everyone can open up a bit to one another, as opposed to a rule-oriented school, and he really understands that.” Sophomore Sabiq Khan had the unique experience of attending Foothill High School under Dwyer as a freshman, and understands how Dwyer functions as principal. “Mr. Dwyer is the kind of guy who says ‘hi’ in the hallway, and makes an effort to get to know you,” said Khan. Moreover, because Lynbrook students often struggle to achieve balance in their lives, by loading up on academic activities and forgoing free time, Dwyer looks to help students have a more wellrounded lifestyle. “My ultimate goal is for the students and staff to understand what that balance is and work towards it,” said Dwyer. It is expected that Dwyer will have some adjusting to do in order to get fully settled into a new school, such as learning to adapt to different practices at both the administrative and teaching level. “I want to get to know everyone as quickly as possible and build a positive foundation, so that when the time comes to make changes, people will be more accepting of my ideas,” Dwyer said. In addition to his efforts to come out to Lynbrook and mingle

with students and staff in the quad, Dwyer also attended “prep period meetings” during the day to introduce himself to the staff. Davidson and Broman look to make the adjustment smoother in other ways as well. “As the principal’s secretary, I do everything I can to make the principal’s job easier,” said Broman. “I’ll be helping introduce [Dwyer] to students and parent volunteers, and give him an honest answer to every question he has.” “I’m just starting to go through all my documents,” said Davidson. “I hope to be able to create a single binder with some key documents like the Lynbrook Vision and Values.” Davidson added that Lynbrook is home to “fantastic, strong students and staff who will guide Dwyer through the transition.” In order to form relationships with Lynbrook students, Dwyer looks to hold “listening campaigns,” in which he will speak with different groups of students around campus to hear how Lynbrook could be improved. “At the beginning, I want to do as much listening and learning as possible,” said Dwyer. “Confident people with big ideas are always going to be there, but sometimes the best ideas are from the quiet kids, and I want those too.” As the 2012-2013 school year comes to a close, Lynbrook will say goodbye to Davidson, and will welcome Dwyer into the fold. Broman said, “I’ll miss Gail Davidson tremendously: who she is, what she has done, how she has broadened our horizons, but I’m happy that Dwyer is the new principal and excited to see what the future holds for Lynbrook.”

Opportunities from service clubs broaden students’ experiences BY JAMES WILHELMI


quick browse through the Lynbrook Octagon club’s website brings up the events page, which lists upcoming volunteering opportunities which are available for club members to sign up for. In a typical week, volunteering events range from planting trees in a local park to working at the registration table for a walk benefiting cancer research, and everything in between. Contrary to what others may believe, Lynbrook’s community service clubs are vital to student development because they allow students to delve into different areas of work, build and improve skills that will be useful in the workplace and serve the community with greater regularity. The volunteering experience offered by community service clubs is beneficial because it offers students a chance to experience a wide spectrum of activities, as illustrated by the variety on Lynbrook Octagon’s website. The diversity in service opportunities allows for students to explore different work sectors, find out where their interests lie and develop a wider range of skills that may prove useful in life after high school. Lynbrook Leo Club President senior Morgan Chang finds that the diversity in the club’s volunteering events has helped members enjoy themselves and find meaning in community service. “The wide variety of service events means that our members get to try something new every time,” said Chang. “Our members really enjoy taking on these different roles. From serving in all of these different ways, many of us have realized that community service is not about college or cord points, but rather it is about giv-

ing back to the community that has given us so much.” The array of opportunities that service clubs provide allows members to better understand different fields of work and gauge their interests in each. For example, volunteering at a pet adoption center could help a student decide whether or not to pursue a career as a veterinarian or animal rights activist. If a student discovers a passion for botany while volunteering at a local garden, the experience introduces them to the idea of becoming a biologist or environmental activist. Furthermore, the skills that students develop through serving in a variety of areas help create more well-rounded and work-ready individuals. Participating in different volunteering events in California Scholarship Federation (CSF) club has helped sophomore Victor Yu improve his social skills. “I’ve learned to contribute more effectively to a group effort, and I’ve also learned how to deal with and talk to people I’ve never met before,” said Yu. “The volunteering events that I have attended have taught me the value of teamwork and group collaboration.” Critics of service clubs argue that service clubs are detrimental because they lack focus and thus offer chances for students to attain com-

munity service hours without getting anything out of the experience. This argument is largely unfounded because what a student gets out of a service opportunity depends on the student’s attitude. If a student has the right mindset, he or she will benefit from serving others regardless of what the activity is. Additionally, the intended purpose of community service is to improve the community. Even if students struggle to find personal meaning in their service activities, their actions still aid those that benefit from their labor. By offering numerous opportunities for students to volunteer, service clubs increase the amount of assistance that students provide for the community and its members. The abundance of volunteering opportunities that service clubs offer enriches the lives of students by helping them plan for possible careers and equipping them with the skills needed to excel in their field of choice.

Service events put points over true purpose BY JEFFREY YANG


ervice clubs have grown to be some of the largest clubs on the Lynbrook campus, with organizations like Interact and Key Club easily surpassing 100 members. While these service clubs do benefit students and the community by providing easy access to volunteer opportunities, they often negate the personal commitment students should have in community service, reducing community service to nothing more than another quota of hours to fill. To combat this problem, students should find service opportunities that they are personally invested in, and service clubs should change their approach to make community service more meaningful for students. One of the major causes of these issues is the point system. Most service clubs award their members points for completed events, representing the amount of time spent volunteering at each event and used to determine a member’s level of activity. Though the point system does encourage students to volunteer more, which ultimately benefits the community, the system often shifts the focus of community service from actually helping the community to just earning points. This shift in focus reduces community service to a meaningless task. According to sophomore Billy Lu, who volunteers through the Lynbrook Octagon service club, “Volunteering through a club sometimes emphasized the idea that getting points was more important than actually helping the community.”

A look at the events page of the Lynbrook Interact service club reveals yet another part of the issue: the page shows events that have almost no correlation to each other. Events range from helping out at a garden to setting up for a robotics competition to wrapping gifts. The random, uncorrelated nature of these events shows the lack of an underlying goal for many of the service clubs on campus, other than the overly generic goal of helping the community. This lack of an underlying goal in service clubs makes it difficult for students to have a personal commitment to their community service. According to senior Jason Chi, this lack of commitment draws much of the meaning out of community service. “Because the events in service clubs often didn’t relate to each other, I found it hard to have any commitment to a single cause. The randomness of the events took out a lot of the value of community service for me,” he said. Because of the flaws in service clubs, students should seek community service opportunities on their own rather than through a service club, making community service a more meaningful and encompassing experience for all parties involved in the process Not only will volunteering independently encourage students to work for causes that they personally care about rather than random ones, but it will also increase the commitment students have to those causes. Sophomore Nandita Iyer, who has volunteered independently at the same adoption center since seventh grade, said


that volunteering for the same cause for so long has created a commitment to that cause, something she could not find in service clubs. “Volunteering for the same cause for so many years has made me develop a strong commitment to it, something you don’t see in service clubs. I genuinely care about what I volunteer for,” she said. Service clubs themselves can also improve the service experience by changing their approach to community service. Rather than participating in random events, service clubs should instead focus their events on one specific aspect of improving the community, something that certain clubs, such as Athletics Unlimited and Red Cross, are already doing. Though it might decrease the range of events that clubs can offer, focusing on one aspect of community service will ensure that members grow committed to their cause, thus making community service more than just a quota to fill, and ultimately making it a worthwhile and meaningful experience for students. While there may be some advantages to service clubs, their flaws—a focus on points and a lack of a consistent goal—often detract from their overall goal of serving the community. Due to these flaws students should find service opportunities independently and clubs should seek to focus their events on one underlying goal.

Degrading lengthy literature is a mistake BY PRASANN RANADE


ith the advent of the Internet and the increase in access to public information, the emphasis once given to quality news articles and lengthy literature has now shifted to internet sites or simple oneparagraph summaries. Students prefer short blurbs instead of actual news, and online book summaries rather than the book itself. In his dystopian novel Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury presents a similar situation of the loss of value of quality information and the resulting consequence of people burning books, the symbols of information and quality literature. Instead of merely looking for the quantity of the content and searching for the simplest version to digest, students should look for quality in articles and be open to thinking critically on their own. Choosing to read succinct texts leads to a loss of understanding of the articles’ true content. Unless the reader collects information from various sources, a single short article will not give the true picture. “It’s more important to have a whole story rather than hav-

ing it condensed because condensed stories often miss a lot of key points,” said freshman Dara Jovkar. “It’s better to have a larger article so every single point of information is mentioned and the reader can basically know every single detail possible about the story.” Moreover, the easy access to the Internet and the lack of external editing of online articles often results in the proliferation of biased or incorrect information. Unlike most internet articles, books are not meant to provide a short synopsis for a story; they are meant to provide quality information that more and more students fail to recognize. Lastly, bite-size information can lead to decreased comprehension and writing skills. According to studies conducted about the relationship between reading and writing skills, a student’s composition skills directly correlate to the literature the student reads. If students only read short blurbs, their writing skills will be consequently negatively impacted. Although Internet articles save time and do not require as much effort in understanding, written works, including magazines, books, and newspapers, offer quality sources that provoke thinking and analysis, eventually leading to better writing skills. Nevertheless, some students still continue to prefer short articles over longer ones, simply because they feel that reading condensed literature is more convenient. Though news sites such as Flipboard and Summly serve to shorten news into more manageable portions, literature should not be condensed the

same way. “The cause is that some people feel that it is more convenient for [articles] to be condensed so they can get the very juicy information, but I think it’s more important to read everything,” said Jovkar. However, Bradbury suggests in Fahrenheit 451 that due to such justifications, people begin to lose sight of the importance of true literature and quality information. To that end, without the effort of thinking required by quality literature, students can begin to simply lose sight of the importance of critical thinking skills. Though rationalization to not read the actual book will save time and require less effort in the short term, such behavior in excess can lead to a loss of critical thinking. Students will not only undergo a deficit of understanding but also a narrower viewpoint and a deterioration of comprehension and writing skills. In order to truly comprehend a subject, one must properly look for quality sources, instead of resorting to reading quick and simple articles. The types of articles a student chooses to read reflects his or her school of thought and analysis. In the end, students should place more emphasis on quality sources of information in order to think more critically about the world around them, ultimately benefitting themselves in the long term.

pipette-pushers; I want them to be creators by doing things that that they’ve thought of themselves,” said freshman biology teacher Amanda Alonzo. Alonzo plans on introducing argumentative research essays for her freshman biology class, exposing students to critical thinking methods. The method of “feeding information” is currently observed in English classes as well. “In my class, teachers directly tell students the meaning of quotes in the text,” said Wu. Maybe if the teacher were to ask the students what they think the quote means, and then have a class discussion on it, then it would be hands-on learning.” This issue will be addressed by the new Common Core standards so that students will have more of an opportunity to utilize independent investigative thinking skills. One of the biggest changes being planned in the English Department will be an increase of importance on “finding, evaluating and compiling sources of information in order to write an argumentative essay that synthesizes all of that information,” said English Department Chair Nelda Clark, since conducting research is a large part of Common Core. By employing this model at Lynbrook, students will have a stage to explore and exercise their talents early on in high school. It teaches students the flexibility to cultivate and develop individual ideas. By integrating writing and research skills into science and English classes, students will learn how to coalesce skills from all classes

and use them in a real-world setting. As all science classes implement this approach, students will become better-rounded and capable of practically applying their skills. This can be done by emulating the example of social studies teachers. According to Social Studies Department Chair Mike Williams, the department is already implementing Common Core goals into its classes. The goals expressed by the new standards are the same objectives that the department had in mind three years ago. “We put together a vertically integrated program,” he said, which means that “we develop writing and research skills so that they culminate in the senior year with writing a research paper.” However, the biggest repercussion of “feeding information” is that “we learn but we don’t apply,” said Wu, “We don’t see how this will help us in the real world.” “[The new standards] are trying to get a deeper understanding of the material rather than just the skills. It’s putting a little more focus on real-world word problems,” said department chair Vivian Frazita. As Common Core is integrated into Lynbrook, it should be used as a model to educate students on the real life application of their humanities and math skills. It is imperative that students are taught the real life application of their skills from all classes so that they can garner the benefits of their education when the occasion arises in later life.

Fostering creativity through Common Core BY PRACHI LAUD


espite having the aptitude to create and design with their own innovative ideas, Lynbrook students are often unable to unleash that potential in class. The existing method utilized at Lynbrook emphasizes “feeding information” to students more than innovative thinking. However, the introduction of the new Common Core educational standards will change the status quo and encourage a more hands-on, inquiry-based learning approach. While some feel that Common Core is an unnecessary change, by adopting these standards and learning approaches, students will actually have more freedom to design, create and explore the practical applications of their skills. Currently, in many science classes at Lynbrook, step-by-step instruction labs offer little room for students to challenge the norm and think inquisitively. “It seems as if it is all laid out for us; like a map. When I did these labs I would sometimes feel, what’s the point of this?” said sophomore Sunny Wu. If students were to ask questions and design their own ways to find the answers, they would be able to transmute their factual knowledge into its real-life application. However, next school year, teachers plan to emulate the standards set by the Common Core ideals and create classroom environments that implement hands-on learning. “I don’t want my students to just be

Classic movies still apply To me, a great movie is one that’s quotable; a movie whose lines weave through everyday language and have the ability to enhance conversation. As a self-proclaimed movie junkie, I’d like to think that I have a fair amount of movie knowledge, which, believe it or not, helps me out a lot in reallife situations. Too many times have I felt awkward for being the only kid to laugh at a teacher’s movie reference, and too many times have I quoted a great scene from a movie and had my friends stare at me in utter confusion. I’m here to help you out, Lynbrook. It’s time to take your heads out of your textbooks and reposition them in front of your TVs, because I’m about to help you start your new movie education. “Bueller...Bueller...Bueller...” Two words: John Hughes. That’s the name of the amazing director who created a bunch of 80s classics including Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, The Breakfast Club, and Sixteen Candles, to name my favorites. All of these films are great coming-of-age stories which make them perfect to watch as a high schooler. After watching them you’ll understand why (all) teachers say “Bueller...Bueller...Bueller...” when no one responds, and why sometimes I pump my fist into the air and hum “Don’t you” by Simple Minds when I’m successful. “There’s no crying in baseball!” There are some great sports movies out there, and the best ones are always (in an almost cliché way) about a team of underdogs rising up and ending victoriously. Sports movies are filled with inspirational scenes which is why watching them is useful. When someone needs a pep talk, whip out Coach Brooks’ speech from Miracle and they’re bound to get in the zone. And when things get tough, watch A League of Their Own to remind yourself not only that “There’s no crying in baseball,” but also that “If it were easy, everyone would do it.” If you need a reminder of your strength, try doing the pregame cheer in Remember the Titans. Sports movies are the ultimate movies to get psyched up, and they have inspirational quotes for any circumstance. “Here’s lookin’ at you, kid.” Now this film is truly a classic: Casablanca. It takes a certain kind of person to enjoy a black and white film, but this one’s a great choice. The story line is exciting and romantic, and it’s filled with great quotes that can be used in everyday life. When you’re starting a new venture: “I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship;” or when you’re feeling nostalgic: “We’ll always have Paris.” Also this movie will help you connect with an older generation—they dig movies like this. “On Wednesdays we wear pink.” Mean Girls. Just watch it. It may not be a classic in terms of how long it’s been around or the variety of people that it’s applicable to, but as a high schooler, it’s a must see. As soon as you watch it you’ll suddenly understand about a quarter of the conversations you’ve had since entering high school. You’ll realize why people are congratulated with a “You go Glen Coco!”, or why some girls get super psyched to wear pink on Wednesdays. Watching this film as an investment in your future, as a high schooler it’s pretty much your duty to watch. There’s a lot you can learn from these flicks, and it’ll help you understand social situations, and hey, what’ve you got to lose? Good luck, and “May the force be with you.”


hoever came up with the idea that going ‘stag’, or dateless, to a dance isn’t enjoyable has clearly never done so. I attended Junior Prom with my friends, and the experience was still pretty good. Nobody should be expected to find a date to a dance in order to have fun, especially at a once in a lifetime opportunity like Junior Prom. While you might think that going stag will portray you as a person who is single, lonely and does not know how to be social, we all know that’s a big lie. More than half of the people in our school are single, so don’t feel like you’re the only one. You just haven’t found the right one yet. From my experience, girls are unnecessarily insecure about going stag to a dance compared to guys, who seem to not mind as much. If guys do not have a date, they usually do not see a point in spending effort and money on prom. Most girls, on the other hand, are completely different. Let’s face it: we girls usually love the excuse to go shopping and dress up. In fact, girls (including myself) consider prom to be the perfect time to enjoy the process of glamming up, “camwhoring,” and posting pictures on Facebook in an attempt to get the most likes. Prom is special; it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity which gives you the platform to do all these things, and it doesn’t even require a date! In a desperate attempt to do this, some decide to go to prom with a simple acquaintance or even a blind date. Without a doubt, everyone would love having a special someone to slow dance and take pictures with, but that experience is no longer special if you are going with someone who you barely know. Why go out of your way to get a date when it can be as much fun as going with friends? No matter who you are, it’s much easier to go crazy and act ridiculous on the dance floor when you’re going with your friends rather than an unfamiliar date. Think about it, girls: if you brought a guy just for the sake of having a date, there’s a good chance you’ll be forced to act reserved and be self-conscious instead of having fun on your special night. Junior Prom or any kind of formal isn’t always about the date anyway. Those juniors who did not come out to this year’s Class of 2014 Junior Prom certainly missed out on the chocolate fondue, an awesome DJ and an amazing venue. There were only 4-5 slow dances throughout the night, but for us smart stag-goers, they were the perfect time to grab a bite to eat or get a drink from the bartender table. In short, the experience is not something to miss out on just because you’re afraid of going against the social norm. I have to admit that I initially insisted on not spending money on prom bids or a new dress just to go to prom alone, but I later learned that letting loose and going against the social norm is sometimes required to have fun. I’m not saying it won’t be fun for close couples, but if you find yourself hunting for a guy just for the sake of having a date, don’t bother with all that work. Who cares what others do or say? I had the time of my life. So my advice to all of you out there who are scared to go stag: forget about social standards and chasing down dates. Just get lost in the music and have an amazing time.

Restructuring our academic honesty policy lows teachers to determine whether to report of each offense and in many cases the extent of the punishment. This ambiguity blurs the line for students and weakens the policy as a whole, making the ramifications of academic dishonesty offenses unclear. Instead of grouping all offenses and leaving the punishment up to teacher discretion, the policy should clearly delineate the consequences and procedures teachers

must follow for each common offense. With proper enforcement, each offense will have its own appropriate consequence. In many cases, proactive measures by teachers to remove incentives for cheating, in conjunction with the honesty policy, can also be very effective. Spanish teacher Michael Esquivel, for example, restructured his grading system after realizing how easily students could copy homework answers and claim credit. “I want a student’s grade to reflect how well they speak, read, write and understand Spanish,” said Esquivel. “In lower levels of language, most of the homework involves

filling in blanks or writing simple sentences. This type of homework is important yet easy to copy so I figured, why should I give any credit for something that I have no control over or for something so easy to copy?” Instead of grading based on completion and dedicating a portion of the final grade to homework assignments, Esquivel now awards participation points when students share their answers in class. Students no longer have an incentive to cheat just to complete the homework, and instead focus on actually understanding the material. “It’s not a perfect system since students can obviously still give me an answer they copied from a peer, but I think it’s easy for me to tell if they know what they’re talking about or not,” said Esquivel. “It’s more effective in that my students’ grades are more representative of their ability to understand Spanish.” Regardless how extensive extensive the honesty policy and savvy the teachers, however, the decision to value learning for learning’s sake and the responsibility to maintain academic integrity ultimately belongs to students. In order for a successful honesty policy change to work, a foundation of trust between students and staff must be created. With this foundation successfully in place, the district could even consider a new honor code which relies more on trust between all involved rather than the current structure in which teachers must constantly monitor students to catch cheaters. “No teacher wants to have to be a police officer in the classroom or assume the worst of their students. The more we have to add to [the honesty policy] the more our school will become more of a correctional institution of teachers versus students where each group tries to outsmart the other,” said Esquivel.“I believe that students know what is right and what is wrong; we shouldn’t need an even more complicated document to explain it to them.” For more on this topic, see “Laying down the law” on page 10.

The case against vulgar lan



hat’s so gay.” “This is so retarded.” “I’m going to kill myself.” Walking around Lynbrook, one can easily overhear conversations consisting of these phrases or words. They are increasingly tossed around in casual, everyday speech by many people, often unknowingly insulting others or giving off unintended messages. Even though this type of language has grown to be habitual for many in our culture, students should refrain from using offensive or derogatory language in order to prevent any misconceptions and subliminal messages that the words may create. Students, with the help of administration, should begin to address this issue one step at a time, beginning with the simple action of making the student- body aware of the problem, as well as calling them out when necessary. “[Offensive derogatory language] has become absent minded slang, falling into the pattern of everyday language for students of this age,” said Lynbrook teacher and GayStraight Alliance advisor Fritz Torp. This type of disrespectful language is rarely used with the purpose of intentionally causing offense. Instead, students tend to speak without thinking about the meaning behind the words that they are saying. “I think that people don’t realize that what they are saying could be offensive towards others,” said freshman Ariela Guadiamos. Although Guadiamos knows that most students

unconsciously use offensive vocabulary, “words like ‘gay’ should not be used as a substitution for other less offensive words like ‘weird’ or ‘stupid,’” she said. Words and phrases regarding physical or mental health can also send the wrong message when used, oftentimes being misinterpretating or offensive to students at Lynbrook. “It really hurts when people use the word ‘retarded’ in a casual manner. Not only because my cousin has mental retardation, but also because it just isn’t right,” said junior Kelly Masterson. The usage of deceiving language has become so natural in students’ everyday lives that many acronyms have been created to facilitate their use on social media platforms. According to Urban Dictionary, the overly common acronym “kms” which stands for “kill myself” can be used in sentences such as ‘If I see her face one more time I am going to kms.’ Lynbrook Student teacher Rotem Bluvstein has encountered students using the word “retarded” in the wrong context multiple timeswhile teaching, and she has begun holding class discussions, allowing her students to realize the severity of this subject. “I think that the school administration does a really good job of calling students out when they use [offensive language], but students also need to begin calling out their peers as well,” said Bluvstein. Although the administration has started a successful “no homophobia” campaign, the school should also take the problem a step further to restrict students from using similar phrases such as “retarded” or “kill myself.” Usage of derogatory language has almost become a norm in Lynbrook culture, but it is crucial that people end the acceptance of certain phrases. The administration and students must persist in their efforts to make the student body aware of the severity of this topic.


Going stag is not sad


n its opening paragraph, the FUHSD Academic Honesty Policy proclaims that the district “is committed to ... maintaining the highest standards and expectations for academic integrity among all students.” While the current district-wide honesty policy theoretically aligns with these goals, it must be more specific and consistently enforced in order to effectively discourage cheating and foster more meaningful student engagement with course material. With an honesty policy which states that even sharing homework can lead to a meeting with an administrator, counselor, and documentation of the incident, students find it almost impossible to honor the code. “I don’t think students take the [Academic Honesty Policy] too seriously. Most don’t cheat on tests, but do on homework and other minor assignments,” said freshman Adish Jain. “I’m sure most of us have ‘broken’ the policy in one way or another.” While these offenses in themselves do not compare to distributing copies of an exam, they erode the integrity of the honesty policy meant to thwart these more serious offenses. “The line between ‘cheating’ and ‘not cheating’ is kind of blurry,” said sophomore Jessica Shi. “Many students talk about tests and share homework answers. It’s almost accepted as normal for students.” To draft a more effective policy, staff must first recognize that cheating, which under the FUHSD Academic Honesty Policy includes everything from “looking at someone else’s work product” to “using copyrighted test bank questions,” is to some extent inevitable. “It has gotten into everyone’s head that it’s more about the grade you earn than the information you learn,” said junior Jenny Sung. Operating under the pretense that the school can or should entirely eradicate cheating will predetermine the failure of future honesty policies. In addition, the new policy should more specifically articulate the severity and consequences of each offense to eliminate the cheating “gray area.” The current policy al-

Spilling the secrets Exploring the famed secret menus of well-known fast food restaurants BY SABRINA JEN Everyone loves knowing a secret, and there is no exception when it comes to knowing a secret about food. Secret menus of restaurants are often used to stimulate the curiosity of customers toward the businesses. However, because we’ve all tried Neapolitan shakes and the Gummi Bear from Jamba Juice, I have taken the liberty to discover some lesser known foods on hidden menus. Starbucks I was most excited for this one, since I have tried and loved many items on Starbucks’ secret menu. Walking up to the counter, I was super excited to order my Bloody Penguin Frappucino, also known as the Red Tuxedo, since it sounded so unique. I described the drink to the barista and after explaining that the drink was a white and regular Java Chip Frappuccino with raspberry syrup, the barista looked at me again with a face of complete disgust and sighed. The drink itself was a bit too sweet for my preference, but satisfying in terms of taste, texture and the proportion of chocolate chips. The raspberry flavor that perfectly blended in with the drink gave it a signature spark. Jamba Juice Jamba Juice has never disappointed me in the past with its various versions of the Gummi Bear drink, so I decided to take a chance and order the considerably rare Peanut Butter and Jelly drink from their secret menu. To my surprise, t h e drink wa s

spectacular. I wasn’t really expecting much, since the ingredients of the drink didn’t even contain peanut butter. But after one sip, I knew that I had found something magical. The drink tasted like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Even the order of the taste was the same: first a sweet and refreshing taste of berry from the jelly part, followed by a perfectly smooth and blended taste of peanut butter. Even though the Peanut Butter and Jelly drink has not become my new favorite drink, I do recommend it if you are ever up for something new, exciting or just plain extraordinary. In-N-Out Whenever In-N-Out Burger’s secret menu is mentioned in a conversation, their Animal Style fries are very likely to be part of the discussion, but I decided to take a healthier path and ordered a Protein Style Cheeseburger off of InN-Out secret menu. This was a regular cheeseburger, but instead of a toasted bun, the burger was wrapped in lettuce. To tell the truth, I wasn’t really excited to eat this burger, since the toasted bun is one of the many reasons why the burgers at In-N-Out are popular. The first bite was bland and exactly how I expected it to be: much worse than a regular burger. But after realizing that the first bite was actually mainly lettuce and tomato, I took a second bite and was truly surprised. I never imagined that a cheeseburger without a bun could be this good. Diets consisting of patties but no bread are atypical, but if anyone ever finds themselves with that, I highly approve of this burger. I can confidently say that I have never walked out of In-N-Out feeling so healthy and refreshed before.

grow as a debater and thinker,” said Siddiqi. “Without their support, my success would be impossible.” To Siddiqi, the TOC represents a culmination of four years of dedication and hard work in his event of debate. Looking back on his history in debate, Siddiqi traces his passion for debating as a result of his fascination for critical thinking and rhetoric. This tournament is the culmination of his debate history and dedication, which ties closely with his legacy as a senior. “I'd really like to end my debate career with a bang,” said Siddiqi. “Since freshman year, I have worked tirelessly to prepare for the tournament, and this tournament is what it all comes down to.” Nevertheless, he does not rest on his laurels because he must prepare exten-

sively for the tournament. Siddiqi normally spends at least three hours each week researching facts and details about this year’s debate topic, making sure he is thorough in his preparation and execution. “In order to prepare, I read hundreds of articles, a couple of books, went through many academic databases to see what arguments professors and experts in the field are making on both sides,” said Siddiqi. Because only the nation’s best high school debaters qualify to participate in the TOC, Siddiqi remains somewhat apprehensive about competing in the tournament. Siddiqi said, “I’m not too scared about facing the nation’s best debaters; what I am scared about is that, for many debaters, especially those who are seniors, it’s their last chance to do well so everyone goes really all out at the tournament.”


Lynbrook’s own Lincoln and Douglas qualify for prestigious debate tournament BY PRASANN RANADE


our years, hundreds of hours of research, and dozens of debate tournaments later, senior debaters Haziq F. Siddiqi and Jonathan Uesato qualified for the prestigious Tournament of Champions (TOC) in the event of Lincoln-Douglas debate. The TOC is the most widely sought after national competition among high school debaters, encompassing three different debate events: Policy, Public Forum and LincolnDouglas. Siddiqi and Uesato, who have been debating Lincoln-Douglas since freshmen year, will attend the tournament at the University of Kentucky starting April 27. Haziq Siddiqi For Siddiqi, the most important contributors to his success were his own passion and determination to succeed in debate, in addition to the support provided by his coaches and mentors. “While I knew that my hard work was the number one factor in my success, I also know that my coaches, teachers and various other mentors were invaluable in my ability to

Jonathan Uesato In contrast with Siddiqi, Uesato considers luck the critical factor for his achievement. “I think a lot of it is luck, luck in terms of tournaments and draws, and in terms of happening to be on the same team with Haziq,” said Uesato. In addition, Uesato has similar feelings of satisfaction for participating in the tournament. For him, too, the tournament represents the end of four years of dedication. “I guess you could say it's for closure, which probably sounds a little bit strange, but at least for me, it seems fitting because competing at the TOC was one of my biggest goals entering debate as a freshman, and so it seems fitting that I will end my debate career competing there,” said Uesato. In the end, Siddiqi and Uesato hope their passion for debating can inspire future debaters from Lynbrook to continue to strive toward their goals. “Hopefully, it’ll encourage them in that ‘Hey, someone from this school made it’ and just so that they know that they can get there too,” said Uesato.

Spoons 101: challenge accepted BY EESHA KHARE

Travelling through the iTunes time machine


ired of my music collection, I recently obtained the deluxe edition of The Adventures of Bobby Ray, by none other than our middle school favorite, B.o.B. Unfortunately, it was probably one of the worst albums I’ve listened through since The E.N.D. Given the experience, I took a time trip to investigate whatever happened to all those forgotten middle school hit artists. Lil Wayne. The way he comes up with some of his lyrics is still a mystery to me; for example, contemplate the following: “I’m a young money millionaire/Tougher than Nigerian hair.” That’s about all the lyrics I could find from him that I could publish here without offending common sensibilities too much. That being said, I don’t understand how a song about licking a lollipop didn’t become an instant classic.


he Lynbrook tradition of Spoons is a senior class competition in which participating students are assigned a target to tag if the target does not possess his or her immunity item. The last player “alive” receives a free ticket to senior prom. In the intensity of the game, many unique assassinations and challenges captured the eyes of students and staff around campus. The game began Feb. 12 and ended Apr. 5. Students were required to carry spoons during non-special days and could be tagged if they were seen without their spoons during brunch, lunch, before or after school. In addition, Wednesdays and Fridays included special immunity items, including Groucho glasses, Fairly-Odd parent costumes, rainbow-colored clothes and a variety of other items. Seniors Joseph Wei and Daniel Sun were the moderators of this game and created the target list after 13 random generations on They came up with their list of immunity items taking into consideration what was novel and wouldn’t disrupt classroom activities. For Wei, his favorite challenge was Su-

perhero Day where students had to be disguised as superheroes and complete herolike random acts of kindness in order to stay in the game. He said, “I thought the people who completed the challenge really deserved to continue in the game. Watching so many members of 2013 perform such good deeds for the community was a really awesome thing and I’m so glad I thought of a challenge that really encompassed the nature of Lynbrook students.” Senior Aaron Chien won two challenges by completing a scavenger hunt and all 13 random acts of kindness tasks. To complete his first challenge, he had multiple friends help him. Chien attempted many challenges and believes he has come close to winning the ones he did not get. With the pressure to eliminate as many students as possible, many of the active players used elaborate methods to put a sticker on their targets. Senior Molly Chou was attacked late at night right after her dance practice. She said, “It was really scary because it was so late and as I was walking to my car, he just sprung at me.” Certain students have taken this element of disguise a step further. After senior Stephanie Marcus heard from a friend that her tar-

get did not carry his spoon at the last girls’ basketball game he attended, she devised a plan to catch him at the next basketball game. She said, “I went incognito and wore clothes that I have never worn before.” Disguised in a hoodie, colored contacts and a wig to look like a boy, Marcus went to the girls’ basketball game and when everyone rushed out at the end of the game, she sneakily went around the side and tagged her target. She said, “it was really funny because I went to support the girls but also to kill him.” Using similar methods, senior Nicholas Lie eliminated eight targets. From hiding behind the front door of his first target’s house to cornering another in the bathroom to chasing the third around school to tricking one into talking during mime day, Lie has had his taste in the exhilarating eliminations that led to his much grander schemes of capture. He said, “to be successful, you have to know your target’s habits; I knew where my target hung out, the license plate number of their car and a lot of other things.” The game ended on Apr. 4 after a series of elimination challenges during lunchtime. Chien was announced victor and said that the secret to winning is to be “aware of hubris. Excessive pride will get anyone killed.”

Sean Kingston. Bringing us hit songs like “Beautiful Girls” and telling us that in fact, shawty, he can indeed take you there while sipping piña coladas, Kingston seems to have disappeared after his second song on yaaa weeeyyyyy to beeyooooteefull girls. I’ve been a bit lost after he stopped giving me such sage advice on finding attractive women, but thank God One Direction can help me woo them now.

Jason Derulo. Yes, Jason. We know it’s your song, even if you didn’t sing it at the beginning of every one. But aside from Derulo’s apparent hearing problems that cause him to ask whatcha said after every verse, I guess nothing really helped him stand out from the competition. I don’t blame him though—I’d be asking whatcha say too if I heard him without Autotune. Black Eyed Peas. I have to say, I refuse to meet you halfway on this one. Not at the borderline, you don’t need to wait for me. Not after hearing them for the millionth time, at least. I want to say that they at least made me a more worldly person after they had that feeling that tonight would be such a good night, but all I learned was “mazeltov.” Well, Black Eyed Peas, mazeltov in making a good album sometime soon. Taylor Swift. I remember Taylor back in the days of “You Belong With Me,” when she wore t-shirts and sat in the bleachers and people actually felt bad for her when she was interrupted by Kanye West. Now everyone’s just waiting for her to come out with a book explaining which breakup each of her songs is about. Oh well, at least her new songs work pretty well in my iPhone alarm clock; I usually wake up by the third or fourth “ever.”

Colby O’Donis. He’s always talking about what you got, and…that’s about all I’ve heard from him since I left Pre-Algebra. Good thing he collaborated with a heavy hitter, Akon. Despite his past declarations of how he was a criminal in order to build street cred (presumably by smacking that all on the floor?), the only thing he’s probably been konvicted for is bad music and the occasional prepubescent tinge to his voice. At this point you should be searching up old songs on Youtube and time tripping like none other, so I’ll stop writing here. Take it easy, Joey


THE NINJA WAY|According to senior Aaron Chien, a successful tag involves investigating the whereabouts and habits of your target, strategizing the most efficient way to tag them, and finally executing your plan with an unrelenting attack. The hours that go into preparation are worth the trouble of hiding in bushes.

Japan bowl team looks to capitalize on last year’s success BY JEFFREY YANG


hough Lynbrook’s strengths are primarily thought of as math and science related, the Japan Bowl, a competition testing knowledge of Japanese culture, serves to remind the school that the Lynbrook demographic is more than adequate in other fields. Nine Lynbrook students will be participating at the National Japan Bowl in Chevy Chase, Maryland on April 12-13, a competition in which Lynbrook has performed well in previous years. Japan Bowl is an annual competition that involves high school students from all around the nation and tests students in their knowledge in the Japanese language and culture. Students compete in three different levels based on how long a student has studied the language, divided into levels 2, 3, and 4. The winners of the level 4 competition are national champions and awarded a trip to Japan.

According to Japanese teacher Jeremy Kitchen, Preparation for Japan Bowl is an extensive process. “Participants have an extensive network of documents that they have been contributing to over the years,” “They’ve built up quite a library of information.” said Kitchen. According to senior Lucy Matveeva, whose Japan Bowl team placed third in the level 3 and level 4 competitions in 2011 and 2012, participants must learn and memorize copious amounts of information about Japanese language and culture in order to have successful on a Japan Bowl team. For contestants, getting a chance to compete in the Japan Bowl is an achievement in itself, as it requires preparation just to be admitted to the team. It is an even

higher honor for the participants to win in their respective levels. “It was so exhilarating to win last year. During the final rounds of the competition itself, my team members and I were really focused on the questions and weren’t really thinking of the outcome but in the moments after it was over I saw my teacher motion a number one to me from the auduence,” said senior Ann Xu, who captured the championship in the level 4 competition last year. Lynbrook has had great success in this event in the past, and the teams participating in Japan Bowl this year hope to replicate their success in order to continue this tradition of excellence by exhibiting extensive knowledge of Japan’s culture and history. “In the past years we have done well in this event, placing consistently in the top five,” Lyu said. “We have a strong team, and I think we will be fine this year as well.”


Two seniors journey through the world of dance BY KASTURI PANTVAIDYA


n June 25, 2009, the House of Mayhem dance studio opened its doors to dancers of the Bay Area. Now, the studio has become a learning institution for dancers looking to improve upon their skills and enhance their passion. Seniors Daniel Sun (right) and Shouvik Neogi (left) are members of the Youth Skull Club (YSC), one of the studio’s dance teams. Daniel Sun Fueled by his desire to become a better dancer, senior Daniel Sun joined YSC last September. Sun danced for Dance Academy USA throughout elementary and middle school, but looked for a new opportunity to develop his skills further. “After committing to sports, I lost my connection to dance, but not my passion,” said Sun. On Sept. 23, 2012, Sun auditioned for YSC. He performed two pieces that he had learned on the spot, along with his own choreography. Impressed with Sun’s skills, YSC offered him a spot, which he happily accepted. Not only did dancing fulfill his passion, it was a stress outlet for him. The competitiveness of the troop pushed Sun to better himself so that they could depend on him. “Youth Skull Club is a really intense and competition-oriented group,” said Sun. “They reflect my personality.” Sun’s dance became refined as he grew with his team members, whom he now considers family. “I received that spot on YSC and had started at the bottom, and from then it was about earning my way to the top,” said Sun. On Apr. 6, 2013, Sun performed at the World of Dance competition in Los Angeles, California. Among over 50 different teams, Sun’s troop placed second in their competition division, “What’s next?” said Sun. “First place.” Shouvik Neogi After Sun became a part of YSC, he told senior Shouvik Neogi about it and recommended that he audition. Neogi took the initiative to audition on Jan. 12, 2013, and became part of the troop.

“I felt confident because I’m a freestyle dancer, and troupes value that,” said Neogi. Nowadays, Neogi is known for his freestyling ability, but most people are unaware of the hard work behind it. “I made a system of goals to show people my skills,” Neogi said. “I’d learn something new by every Miller dance, show it off, and work based on the response I got.” After receiving positive feedback, Neogi decided to spend his eighth grade year developing his dance. “I didn’t want to perform at freshman homecoming because I had difficulty memorizing choreography, and I thought I’d get laughed at,” said Neogi. Neogi admits that his biggest obstacle was his low self-esteem, but dancing helped him get over that by forcing him outside of his comfort zone in countless situations. Neogi’s perspective on competition dance changed when he joined YSC in his senior year. “It’s like a sport. We condition at the beginning of every practice, and then we dance for a couple of hours till we have met the high standards that YSC has for us,” said Neogi. Because he is a freestyler, YSC helps him diversify in other aspects of dance, as well as improving upon what he already knows. “I was able to learn about the hip hop scene firsthand because of the opportunity to talk to members of Academy of Villains,” said Neogi. In addition to providing Neogi with their expertise, the YSC choreographers helped him memorize routines through constant practices of the material. “I want hip-hop as a side job in the future,” said Neogi. “Each one teach one is my motto for spreading knowledge, because that’s what hip-hop is about.” Along with being a member of YSC, Neogi teaches at the bboy club at Lynbrook. “I love YSC because I have amazing, well-known dancers at my fingertips,” said Neogi. He agrees with Sun that fellow YSC members have become family. “I changed from this shy and awkward middle-schooler to a much more confident and sociable teenager,” said Neogi. “And my dance definitely played a large role in that.”




Examining the significance of Lynbrook’s academic honesty policy


Principles of Academic Integrity Information courtesy of Donald L. McCabe, Linda Klebe Treviño and Kenneth D. Butterfield

Affirm the importance of academic integrity

Foster a love of learning Treat students as an end in themselves Foster an environment of trust in the classroom Encourage student responsibility for academic integrity Challenge academic dishonesty when it occurs Reduce opportunities to engage in academic dishonesty

Help define and support campus-wide academic integrity standards


Develop fair and relevant forms of assessment Clarify expectations for students


ifteen minutes away from the Lynbrook campus, on a wall near the building of the Harker School, population 700, were four posters—one for each grade. Every year, the Harker Honor Council, established from the founding of the school, hosts an annual signing of the posters. It is the ultimate initiation into the Harker culture, an agreement to “abide by Harker’s colors,” as put by senior Emily Wang, chair of the Honor Council. Each poster has fifty lines, and every year, the Council collects the necessary signatures. Meanwhile, the FUHSD Academic Honesty Policy is everywhere on Lynbrook campus—in the green sheets of every course, on the walls of every classroom, on page 15 of the planner. It is also mentioned in the school website and is included in administrators’ visits to classrooms during Zero Tolerance talks when school began. Theoretically, then, there should be no excuse to commit academic infractions. “Students are getting it in writing, orally from teachers, orally from administrators,” Assistant Principal Sydney Marsh said. “They have a copy on them at all times.” At Lynbrook, cheating is defined as using anyone’s work “without giving proper credit to the source,” extending to “providing unauthorized materials” and “theft or falsification of records and files,” according to the FUHSD Academic Honesty Policy. Marsh said there has been a significant decrease of reported infractions, though exact percentages could not be disclosed due to confidentiality. Yet, the very definition of cheating is a gray area among students. When a friend of sophomore Nishna Kommoju asked a group of people whether they had cheated, everyone said “no.” But when the friend asked again if they had ever copied homework or exchanged feedback and advice on a test, the majority said “yes.” “It’s so ingrained in our routines, lifestyles, how we operate as students, that we don’t see it as a problem,” Kommoju said. The inability of students to register the FUHSD Academic Honesty Policy stems from a lack of what Professor of Management and Global Business Donald McCabe from Rutgers University calls a “culture of integrity,” which ties back into both the spread of codes and peer influence. In his paper, “Cheating in Academic Institutions: A Decade of Research,” co-written by Linda Klebe Treviño and Kenneth D. Butterfield, the culture can only be perpetuated with active involvement from students, teachers, administrators and parents. The paper points out that surprisingly, one of the lowest rates of self-reported academic dishonesty was found at a non-honor code school. What this institution did differently was that it was “strongly committed to the concept of academic honor, making it a major topic of discussion in its student handbook and at orientation sessions for incoming students.” In  contrast, a school with a long-established honor code had less students who “accepted” and “understood” the policies, because the “institution has diminished its efforts in communicating and implementing its code in recent year.” “The school needs to spend time—and I mean, a lot of time—convincing students integrity matters,” McCabe said. “Schools have no choice but to develop systems with students, to build in pride that it is more important to graduate honestly with a ‘B’ than graduating dishonestly with an ‘A.’” Students say that academic honesty seems to have a lacking presence on campus. “I know that cheating occurs regularly in Lynbrook,” said junior Aishwarya Nene. “Although there are definitely some people who want to ‘understand’ and ‘respect’ the honesty people, there are people who do not feel it is necessary either probably because they do not take it and the consequences of disobeying it seriously enough.”

However, she believes that the school is putting sufficient effort into advocating the honor code. “I think the school does go to adequate lengths by even going to the classrooms,” said Nene. “I cannot think of anything more they could do.” This year, Harker’s Honor Council has been running 30-second clips on the school honor code. The clips are purposely humorous in tone. “Students already know what’s right and what’s wrong,” Wang said. “Constant reminders don’t need to be didactic, but rather, more approachable and open.” The Council also hosts an annual honors and ethics council, open to all Harker students and, every other year, to schools in the Bay Area with honor codes. There, students discuss compromising scenarios and study honor codes from across the Bay Area. According to McCabe, when students are actively involved in the perpetuation of the honor code, they feel responsible for the community’s well-being, as though they have a stake in the community. At Harker, Wang said, “The culture of integrity is more of an organic effort than a top-down set of rules catered by the administration.” Harker’s honor code was written by the students, for the students. Encouraging discussion, then, becomes a method to validate the code. For instance, Harker’s annual matriculation in the beginning of the year is mandatory only in participation—but if students have problems with any part of the honor code, the Council invites them in for a discussion to clear up confusion and, in severe cases, amend the code. Though Wang was unable to disclose specific cases, she said that the meetings were always casual and open, persistent until both parties reached a solution. This alone, however, is not enough. The culture of integrity relies heavily, too, on the factor of trust between the administration and the students. The Harker Honor Council is a body of eight to 10 student representatives elected annually. Wang, who has served on the Council all four years, holds one of the position on the council. The Council handles anywhere from one to seven cases each semester, all of which are forwarded to the Council by the Dean of Students. Cases forwarded are usually those reported to the Dean on a basis of anecdotal or questionable evidence; those that are second or more offenses; and those where the student feels administration ruling is too harsh. A hearing can last anywhere from 30 minutes to several days. Ultimately, the Council can only make recommendations to the Dean on the best course of action; yet, the Council ruling is upheld and respected for nearly all cases. “It’s reassuring to know that the decisions we make as a group of students are given a stamp of approval,” Wang said. “It shows that the admins are trying hard to make sure that this entire process very much involves the students.” Larger public schools, then, are at a disadvantage because of sheer size. Private schools also reserve the right to dismiss students, whereas public schools do not have that advantage and are thus unable to match the ultimate consequence, according to McCabe. Still, the ultimate consequence is sometimes unnecessary. For instance, the purpose of the Honor Council is to avoid severe punishments such as dismissal. “It’s wonderful that students are entrusted with this responsibility because it’s a decision that students can better empathize with,” Wang said. Ultimately, the responsibility of integrity will always fall onto the student, regardless of the school environment. “Competition and stress make it an even more valuable thing to keep up,” said senior Yash Shah. “It means that you’re mentally strong, and have truly built a solid character.”

Growing up in a multiracial home BY KATHY JANG


hen two cultures of distinct origin come together in one student, the result is a compromise between two sides, that of the mother, and that of the father. The children, as products of such joinings, live as a mixture of distinct races with parents of different ethnic backgrounds. Sophomore Mariel Hunt, who lives with her father of Italian background and Chinese stepmother, is immersed in two very different cultures everyday. The two values of two different cultures are conspicuous from Hunt’s perspective. “My stepmom is very traditional Chinese. She’s extremely strict and emphasizes the importance of school everyday. She’s constantly involved in my sisters’ school activities, school work and projects. My dad doesn’t get involved much, “said Hunt. Between the various foreign cultures--Italian, Filipino and Chinese--Hunt feels more exposed to the Chinese side of her family because her stepmom behaves very traditionally. Therapist Ivria Spieler said, “If you have two parents from different places, that’s more complicated. You have two different sets of norms and expectations that even may clash between themselves, not just the child, but between the parents as well.” For instance, Hunt goes to celebrate Chinese New Year, eats Chinese food often, and can understand Chinese. However, being raised in America, Hunt feels much more familiar with the American culture than she does with either the Filipino culture of her birth mother or the Chinese culture of her stepmother. Growing up, Hunt learned English instead of Tagalog, something which her birth mother now regrets not teaching, since Hunt no longer has any interest in learning Tagalog. Although cultural compromise may be difficult to attain, in many cases, the joining of two cultures plays out in a relatively equal manner. Sophomore Ari Majumdar, whose parents are Greek and Indian, feels equally exposed to both his Greek and Indian sides. At home, both types of foods are cooked quite often, and Majik visits both countries on occasion. Majumdar said, “Because my parents came from two different countries and settled in a third country, neither of the cultures is strong enough to overcome the other, so I’m equally exposed to both” Though Majumdar’s parents are both first-generation Americans and have heavily retained their own culture, they still try to adapt to one another. Both parents learned Greek over the last several years so that the whole family could speak it if necessary.

BY RANI MAVRAM For some people, a name is just something that they are addressed by-- just a word that they will reply to if said. But for others, their name is more than just a word; it symbolizes them and who they want to be in the future. Despite the struggle on a daily basis with the butchering of their name, some students resort to changing their names, both legally and mentally. “My named used to be Song, which was unfortunate because it’s actually a word in the English dictionary,” said sophomore James Jiang. “In sixth grade, Melody Chang was in my class, so people would tease me with ‘Every Song needs a Melody.”’ Both Jiang and his sister have repeatedly been victims of mispronunciation, which led to them eventually changing their name legally. For Jiang, changing his name wasn’t difficult to overcome considering that his sister went through the same process around the same time. However, sophomore Marian Park changed her name since her parents wanted to choose “a variant of [her] baptism name,” which was Marian. Park changed her name in the fall and agrees that it was a difficult transition, especially for her teachers. My teachers call me Marian,” said Park. “But since I

Q: Did your parents decide for you which culture to incline to? A: “My parents wanted me to be more American because we came to explore American culture, but they didn’t ditch all of their values and replace them with American ones.” KASTURI PANTVAIDYA-EPIC

Q: How often do you travel to India and Greece? A: “I go to Greece almost every summer, but I only go to India once every three years. My Indian grandma comes here every year so we feel less of a need to see our relatives on that side of the world. KELSEY HURWITZ-EPIC

Q: How do you balance religion? A: My grandpa on my mom’s side is Islamic and my grandpa on my dad’s side is Buddhist. My dad is religious and my mom is Christian, so sometimes my family celebrates Muslim holidays. KELSEY HURWITZ-EPIC

Q: Are there clear differences between the cultures of your parents? A: My dad is less strict than my mom and understands the American culture. When he was a kid he walked and biked everywhere and my mom had to stay and study all the time. JOEY LI-EPIC

changed my name last November, some of my teachers had a hard time adjusting. One teacher actually called me by 3 different names last year.” The name-changing process is rather tedious, as it includes a payment of up to $500 and the completion of various legal forms. Not only did Park struggle with the legal technicalities of changing her name, but she also had a difficult time maintaining her identity. Park agreed that changing her name was hard for her both mentally and physically. “It was really weird writing Marian instead of Jane as my name on my assignments,” said Park. “The process of getting used to it was overall pretty confusing, since I wasn’t used to it yet. I had to make a whole new email address just to fit my new name.” Park, however, insists that her name change resembled a new part of her life. “I definitely had this strange feeling at first, kind of like a new start,” said Park. Park found this change as a new way to introduce herself to society, this time with a new name. She admits that changing her name is a new start within her school life as well since she had the opportunity to introduce herself as “Marian” this year. While Park’s name was changed to symbolize her baptism name, Jiang’s name was simply changed in order to improve his future when searching for careers. In addition, Jiang went

Similarly, junior Imani Behrens’ parents, a German father and a Kenyan mother, try to assimilate to one another. For countries so vastly different, Behrens said her parents had an easy time learning each others’ cultures and choosing how she should learn about the German and Kenyan cultures. “My dad came to America to visit a Kenyan friend, which was how he met my mom,” said Behrens. “We have two cultures, of course, but my dad is very accustomed to Kenyan culture because we have a lot of Kenyan parties. My dad is used to it; he knows the food and he knows the words.” Behrens is now more attuned to the Kenyan side of her family, but states that this result was circumstantial as opposed to incidental. Since a very young age, her Kenyan grandmother lived with Behrens’ family in San Jose because of difficulties in Kenya. On the other hand, Behrens’ German family had no reason to move to the U.S., and she is less exposed to German culture because she only has the opportunity to visit Germany once a year for a month. There often is not, however, a race for equality; Majumdar’s parents recognize that they need to do do what is best for him, whether or not that means sacrificing one culture for another. “My parents wanted me to learn Greek much more than Bengali for two reasons. I go to Greece every summer, and need a means of communication with the people there. Second, many words in English are the same as their Greek versions, so by learning Greek, I effectively increase my English vocabulary,” said Majik. The aspect of appearance is, according to junior Sarah Wong, whose father is Chinese and whose mother is half Egyptian and half Swiss, just an integrated part of being multiracial. “Sometimes, it’s hard to connect with others. A lot of white people will say I’m more Asian than white and a lot of Asians will say I’m more white than Asian. All the same, I’ve never really had any problems.“ Although peers may associate Wong more closely to one culture than the other, Wong states that she has never encountered problems due to the diverse population of the Bay Area. A common trend can be seen in many those students interviewed: being multiracial is a matter of pride. Majumdar said, “I actually feel lucky, to have a chance to explore both cultures, both language, both histories, mythologies, religions and etcetera. Just the fact that there are only three Greek kids in all of Lynbrook makes me a rare ‘breed’ of sorts, even rarer because I am also Indian. I feel special that way.”

by his nickname, “Jimmy,” and changed his name “James” to more closely resemble it. “Believe it or not, it will actually help me get jobs in the future because people would be more willing to give the job to a cultured citizen rather than a newly introduced resident,” said Jiang. Adding on to Jiang’s theory, an investigation conducted by the New York Times had shown that interviewers would prefer looking at applications of the preferred race if they are biased. As his sister proved, Jiang saw that interviewers wanted more “cultivated citizens rather than another person from Asia.” For Jiang, the benefits of changing his name where clear since his sister had seen the results after college. Jiang explained that his sister changed her name for the same reason. “After she got out of college, she was hunting for jobs and people were more inclined to looking at her resume this way,” said Jiang. Jiang hopes that this transition will benefit him the same way it did his sister. Park agrees that she became more open minded after this whole process and admits that choosing a name is never a simple process from a parental aspect. “Out of the hundreds and maybe even thousands of names to choose from.

Procrastination: the art of getting by Studying the motives, neuroscience, and effects of the three types of procrastination BY HIMA RAJANA


rocrastination plagues most of us to a varying degree, resulting in staying up to finish an essay for some, or cramming in class for others. According to essayist Paul Graham, procrastination can be split into three different types: working on nothing, working on something less important, and working on something more important. What is common to all three types is the biological reason for procrastination: the brain is wired for it. “Procrastination is a battle of the limbic system, the unconscious zone that includes the pleasure center, and the prefrontal cortex, or the internal planner. When the limbic system wins, the result is putting things off for tomorrow,” said Usha Iyer, School Psychologist for Cupertino Union School District. Because the limbic system is mostly automatic, our brain tends to run away from unpleasant or labor-intensive tasks. The first kind of procrastination involves doing unproductive tasks over more important tasks Procrastinating in this manner is

related to perception of reward. “Procrastination forces you to work really hard,” said senior Andy Tsai, who struggled with an intensive research project at Stanford University. “I went up 3 to 4 times a week, and would just sleep when I got home because I was so tired. Then I would wake at midnight to do homework. Ironically, when I don’t procrastinate, I can be less efficient.” Dr. Brittany Stevens, Lynbrook School Psychologist, explains why. “Humans work well when they are motivated to do something,” said Stevens. “There has to be a sufficient perception of threat, or we engage in leisure activities, which are pleasurable and soothing to the brain.” The second category, doing minor tasks as opposed to major ones, is based on a predisposition toward instant gratification. “I over-

come procrastination by setting time intervals in my head so I can estimate how much time I have to ‘slack off,’” said sophomore Yaoyao Pei, who is a yearbook staff member, swimmer and runs a blog with two others. A psychological phenomenon known as “decision fatigue,” suggests that it’s better to get difficult things done earlier in the day. “Every time we make a decision, however major or minor, the glucose levels in our brain drop slightly,” said Dr. Indre Viskontas, neuroscientist at UCSF and at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. “That is why we’re more likely to not want to do things near the end of the day, especially if we’ve already made decisions about easy things.” The third and final kind of procrastination is unique in that it may not be perceived as procrastination at all. Instead of focusing on simple tasks than can be easily checked off and forgotten about, these procrastinators focus on big-


picture efforts.” “Many seniors put a lot of effort into making Homecoming amazing,” said senior Victor Xu, the self-named “Grandmaster of Procrastination.” “I let some homework slide, thinking about what I would remember, the AP Lit study guides, or Homecoming, and Homecoming seemed bigger in the grander scheme of things.” Stevens believes that sacrificing little things for bigger tasks may not be considered procrastination, in a sense. “You have to value what you should be doing, but sometimes the smaller, more routine tasks are not sufficiently rewarding, so you end up focusing on the bigger project,” said Stevens. “When you procrastinate and don’t get things done, there is an increasing sense of dread and guilt.” According to a study by McCown and Richards in 1964, procrastination increases through adolescence, plateaus in the mid-twenties, and steadily declines through the sixties. Procrastination, like all shortcuts and strategies, comes with side effects, and Kwon, Tsai and Xu all agree that sleep deprivation is the biggest one. “I feel guilty when I don’t finish homework,” said Kwon, confirming Stevens’ statement regarding impending dread. “I make wake up early to finish things, so I get really sleep deprived.” Although losing a couple of hours of sleep one night to finish an essay may not seem like much, it adds up. “What hurts is the sleep loss. You’re consistently ‘off by one’ and it’s no fun to be catching up,” said Xu. Tsai’s research involved 12 to 20 hours per week, including the commute, and this took a toll on him. “This messed up my sleep pattern, because I would sleep in class to be awake for my research,” said Tsai. While there are entire professions built around avoiding and overcoming procrastination, understanding the science behind it is the key to overcoming it, and in some cases, accepting and embracing it.

Past experiences inspire future college essays E

ach year, thousands of high school students spend hours trying to discover who they are and how to describe the entire essence of their personality in a single-page college essay. Alongside the test scores, recommendations and resumes that accompany every college application, essays are a crucial component of the application process. Essays provide a forum for students to elaborate on activities or experiences that have influenced their personality as well as offer insight for college representatives to learn about their character and motivations. Guidance counselor Jenny Dumas said, “As more and more selective colleges moved away from personal interviews, they incorporated the essays to tell about who the candidate is as a person. For candidates with similar backgrounds and test scores, essays can be something that will separate a candidate and add a bigger piece to the puzzle.” To help students write college essays, English teachers are available during application season during homework center in the library and the district also coordinates summer writing classes. Senior Sindhu Addepalli believes that college essays generally reflect what a student spends the most time on. “I wrote about karate because the time I spend on it reflects who I am as a person and what my priorities are.” Most students end up writing about activities that they have been strongly committed to for a significant amount of time because it reflects not only their commitment but also provides an insight to their character.

In order to be able to write a more impactful or reflective college essay, it can be helpful to plan summer activities which allow students to explore when they have free time, thus providing them with a unique experience to write about and the ability to stand out above their peers. When senior Jacqueline Lin visited and worked with impoverished children in Qinghai, China this past summer, she began to realize her love for linguistic-and-deaf studies and referred to them in her essay short answer while expressing “my desire to return there” and incorporate her studies there. Lin was accepted to Stanford, Rhode Island School of Design and many other art colleges. In order to ensure that her essay reflected her true personality, Lin went as far as to find a specific time where she believed her inner self could truly come out. “I write best at 4 a.m. that’s just my personality. It’s when I’m in a drunken stupor without ingesting any alcohol. And just let the emotions guide you,” said Lin. Lin feels that other students should also attempt to find a time or place that brings out their true personality and freely write during that time. The biggest challenge most students face is answering questions which ask them to explain why they want to attend a particular school or pursue a certain major. “Everyone is going to say general things, and you need to find a way to be individualized to who you are,” said Dumas. Sophomore Nidhi Navaratna learned about the essay writing experience by watching her older brother go through the process. “I’ve learned that it’s probably best to

start the essay early, perhaps in the summer after junior year,” said Navaratna. “My brother started writing them around mid-October of his senior year, and I remember him very stressed out and never sleeping.” In order to encourage diversity within essays, many colleges offer interesting prompts for students to creatively approach. The University of Chicago is well-known for its provocative essay prompts which allow students to show their creativity and interests. Senior Weian Wang, w h o was recently admitted to the University of Chicago, said that the University of Chicago’s prompts “inspired me to be creative throughout the whole process” and apply the same creativity to the typical prompts for other colleges. For the University of Chicago in particular, she feels that the prompts not only allowed her to think more creatively, but also accurately reflected what it would be like to attend the school. For all her college essay prompts, Wang began in the summer to allow enough time for her to brainstorm, change ideas and write a few drafts to allow for a

slightly easier work load during the school year. She said that the writing process varied between the schools she applied to. For some, “I worked [the essays] out and thought about specifically what I wanted to write, especially if I wanted to talk about a particular life experience or academic project that I pursued,” said Wang. Wang recommends that future college applicants collect a resume of key events thruoghout their high school career so that they can refer to them when writing their essays in the fall. By accumulating information for potential essays throughout several years, brainstorming before the essay becomes much less difficult As students keep writing essays describing their personalities, they should consider key experiences in their lives that reflect who they are as people.



Valkyries return victorious KICK: 91.4/100


ith a five, six, seven, eight, the Valkyries dance team sprung its way into Lynbrook history as they claimed first place in novelty and kick at the USA Dance/Drill Nationals on March 29-30. Performing at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa, California, the team competed with over a dozen schools in championships from across the nation at the competition, becoming the first team to win first place for novelty in five years and first place for kick in six years. In novelty, the routine is meant to tell a story, with an emphasis on showmanship and storyline. Kick routines consist of most importantly kick lines, but also leaps and other movements that generally constitute about half the dance. The team worked its way through regional competitions during the season, qualifying for all championships in all routines. “It was a tough season in the beginning,” said coach Barbi Lamica, “It was challenging to make sure everything was getting done and things weren’t always working out the way we had hoped, but it all worked out in the end.” However, by nationals the sentiment had changed and a number of factors were looking up. “I think for this season in general we had some really good routines,” said junior lieutenant Victoria Li, “The choreography has been a little more standout and even though we’ve used a lot of the same choreographers it felt a little bit better.” Qualifying for championships in all routines, the team arrived at a competition venue different from previous competitions, contributing to their successful performance in the Segerstrom Center. For many, performing at a prestigious theater gave them a little extra motivation for their performances. In the past, the theater has held a number of dance series, hosting a number of famous works by varied dancers. “The fact that we performed in such an incredible venue also helped us to give all that we could,” said se-


nior captain Cheryl Sun, “We were able to dance without holding anything back.” “The venue made it feel more like a real competition on a stage in a theater,” said Lamica, “They thought about it differently; typically they compete in a big huge hall that looks like Costco, but looking out into a real audience in a theater gave them a little more motivation and made it feel that much more prestigious for them.” “We had a theme for nationals this year which was ‘Don’t Stop Believing,’” said Lamica, “I gave them a quote before each performance to remind them to keep believing in themselves.” This motivation lasted to the end, as the Valkyries pulled through to first place for both novelty and, much to their surprise, kick, outranking their local competitor Monta Vista. “During prelims and finals for kick, I could literally feel the energy coming from everyone,” said freshman Jane Kuang, “At that point, I didn’t even care about our placement because I knew as a team, we were happy with what we did.” While the team had high hopes for winning novelty since it lacked a strong competitor in its division this year, winning first in kick came as a welcome surprise to many. “It was a huge shock when we heard Monta Vista called for second place. We had no idea we were going to win and we had no idea we were going to make finals,” said Li. “Sharing the announcement that we got first for kick was a huge honor since I choreographed that routine for them,” said Lamica, “I felt like I finally choreographed a dance that deserved first, and it felt amazing.” “After we won, [Lamica] played ‘Don’t Stop Believing’ by Journey on a boombox and we were all singing along even though half of us didn’t know the words,” said Li, remembering the moment. And truly, believing made all the difference to the Valkyries in coming home as national champions.

NOVELTY: 91/100



DANCING THEIR WAY TO THE TOP | The Valks took home two first place trophies in kick and novelty categories during the USA Dance/Drill Nationals that took place towards the end of March in Costa Mesa, California.

Lynbrook sends five track and field athletes to Arcadia Invitational BY RANI MAVRAM


n April 5 and 6, the Lynbrook Varsity Track and Field team competed in the 46th annual Arcadia Invitational meet at Arcadia High School near Los Angeles, California. Over the years, the Arcadia invitational has produced 25 national records and 152 alumni who have represented the United States in the Olympic Games. This year, Lynbrook sent five athletes participating in the 4x400 boys relay, boys triple jump and 110 meter boys high hurdles. To attend the invitational, athletes had to submit a qualifying time or mark to be considered. Qualfying times for the events Lynbrook competed in are as follows: 3:28:30 for the boys 4x400 relay, 43.03 feet for the triple jump and 15.73 for the 110m high hurdles. After much improvement among the athletes, coaches Jake White and Ray Wright saw growth in both the athletes and their racing ability as they prepared for the season. Starting with pre-season in February,

both coaches saw great dedication and progress in the athletes. “I was really impressed that we sent five athletes, compared to last year when we didn’t send anyone,” said White, “They started training early to improve little by little, to improve as a team, which made a significant difference.” In the 110m high hurdles, senior Lucas Ranieri ran his heat in 16.04 seconds. Currently, his personal record for 110m is 15.31 seconds. Competing in triple jump, Catolico reached his personal record of 43.9 feet at the invitational and placed ninth in the open division. Catolico also ran the 4x400 relay with sophomore Andy Shen, senior Daniel Sun, and senior Antohny Huang. “We were pretty surprised that we made

it to the invitational because we barely met the requirement to qualify for the invitational,” said Shen. However, the boys placed third in the second heat and 12th in the open division. In addition, the boys are currently seeded 1st in CCS for the 4x400 boys relay. “At the invitational, we reached our personal record which was 3:25:53,” said Shen, “I think we could have done better, but all the same, making it to Arcadia itself was an accomplishment.” The team looks forward to practicing more and upholding their current spot in CCS. White believes in the team and hopes that they will continue to do well throughout the remainder of the season. “I think they can cut down 1 or 2 seconds if they really push themselves,” said White,

“It’s really up to how well they can race.” Because of their numerous achievements this year, both the boys running in the 4x400 relay and other athletes have been invited to a variety of invitationals, including the Top 8 that includes the top teams in CCS. Moving forward, the boys hope to continue their passion and dedication for track even after they graduate and proceed to college next year. The experience and inspiration from the meet has opened the eyes of all the athletes. “If anything, it has motivated us to push even harder,” said Sun, “We saw our competition out there, and even though we’re first in CCS right now, there are still teams that we should be competing with.” As the season comes to a close in May, the boys hope to represent Lynbrook at the CCS Finals and CIF State Finals. One meet after another, the boys and all the other athletes will be competing on Saturday, April 6 at the Serra Top 7 meet to be held at Junipero Serra High School in San Mateo, California.

New equipment helps girls’ softball improve from previous season SAMUEL CHANG—EPIC

DETERMINATION AT EVERY ANGLE| From left to right: senior Brita Sanders fields a ball, Sanders bats a ball at a home game against Gunn



his season has been an eventful one so far for girls’ softball with both highs and lows, starting with an initial lack of players to create both a varsity and a JV team. On the plus side, however, the team came home to Lynbrook after spending the 2012 season practicing at Murdock Park because of the field renovations. “We usually don’t have cuts, or we cut only one or two people, however there have never not been enough people,” said junior Helen Li. Luckily, through recruiting efforts and spreading the word to underclassmen, the returners pieced together two teams. “We tried to get people’s friends to join, and some of the varsity players were iffy about coming back and [Varsity Coach] Stacey called them up,” said Li. Co-Captain senior Manisha Sriram, one of the varsity players who ended up returning, said, “I wasn’t sure at first if I was going to [play softball] … but in the end I decided to since it’s my last year and there’s this gorgeous field to play on!” Even then, the varsity team currently numbers only ten players, which as junior Haruko Matsuda said, “is certainly troublesome if someone is sick or injured.” Softball requires ten players in total at any given time, so if someone from the team is not able to play, they have no replacements available. Despite the shaky start to the season, “It feels great to have a home field again, especially after spending all last season at the shabby Murdock Park field where we used to get really scraped up,” said Sriram.

The girls are especially happy about this because previously, they also had to make do playing home games at other team’s fields rather than playing on a field at Lynbrook. “There’s more to being a home team than just setting up and playing your own field,” Li explained, “Home teams also bat last at the bottom of each inning, are in charge of scheduling umpires, providing balls, etc. so we just did what we could.” In addition to the increased convenience when hosting games, the brand new batting cages that came with the field have helped improve the efficiency of practices. The girls are now able to work on hitting in the cages while also practicing fielding on the field instead of having to practice hitting and fielding separately on the field at Murdock Park. Ultimately, it takes less time to achieve all the exercises they need to do during practices. The new equipment has also helped the team train more specifically depending on their opponents. “Overall the facility is really useful for our team when we know the other team has a speedy pitcher and want to work on hitting with a specific speed range,” said Matsuda. Although new facilities have helped, Li said, “It’s mostly our focus and how we apply our skills in a game that are weighing us down.” Matsuda, however, stays optimistic, “We’re practicing 100 percent and hopefully our season will be much better compared to last year.” Sriram agreed, “I’m pretty sure that I speak for everybody when I saw that we are glad we are playing softball this season.”


Swimmers respond to a new league and changes in training regimen BY KHAYA BHATIA


f there is one word to describe the Lynbrook swim team this season, it is “change.” After a rough 2012 season with a record of 1-6, the swim team moved down from the De Anza League to the El Camino League. The Vikings won their first five league meets against Wilcox, Milpitas, Santa Clara, Cupertino and Fremont, which the coaches attribute to changes that have been made for this season, including an increase in dry land training and restructured practices. Last year, the swim team was split into development, JV and Varsity for practices. However, this year, Head Coach Patrick Ellington decided to change this by dividing the lanes by swimmers’ abilities in backstroke, butterfly, breaststroke and freestyle. The goals of this change are better organization and coaching ability; the coaches want to show the athletes how to develop skills in their specific stroke. “[The changes] have been beneficial to improving the swimmers’ strokes in their specific event,” said sophomore Julia Wang. “Being with people that swim the same event as you is more motivating and helps improve your time and speed.” Not only have the swimmers seen an improvement in

their times, but they have also seen a change in motivation toward meets. Compared to last year, attitudes have grown to be more positive toward winning meets, so the team has more faith that they can win. “I have seen an improvement in a lot of people’s times because practices are more intense and there’s a chance of winning leagues,” said junior Mathew Lund, “And because we are in a lower league, we have the privilege of walking on the pool deck knowing we can win.” According to Ellington, the specificpurpose of these changes is to win league championships at the end of the season and the coaches hope to do this by taking advantage of each practice before the meets. “We are building confidence and establishing a more positive outlook making each practice significant,” said Ellington. “We are motivated to win championships.” Although these changes have been beneficial, they have also had some negative effects. “With harder sets and longer practices every day, it’s inevitable that more people are going to get injured,” said junior Hubert Tsen. While there have been injuries, Ellington believes this is just a bump along the road. “Negative effects have been injuries such as minor aches and irritations,” he said. “But, less

than 10% of the team has been injured.” According to the swimmers, another drawback of the changes is their muted enjoyment of the sport; it has changed the focus to be all about competition. “Honestly, swimming is not as fun as it was last year and I think it is taken too seriously this year,” said sophomore Malka Kausar. In addition, many swimmers do not agree with the way the coaches set up practices to make the sport centered around individuals rather than a team sport. “Most people do school swimming to feel like they’re part of a team, but the changes make it seem like an individual sport, which is kind of disappointing,” said Wang. In the long run, however, the swimmers believe the intense dry land workouts and reorganized practices will be worth it. “At the end of the season after taper [the time when swimmers cut down on sets for competitions], there will be a big increase in swimmers’ performance,” said Tsen, “And that’s when we’ll need it, around the time of league championships.” Despite all the changes, the Vikings have maintained an undefeated record. Their next meet will be against Mountain View on April 26. It will be the last leagues meet before CCS combined preliminary meets.

A Cutting edge sport: Shannon Lee’s passion for ice BY KATHY JANG


oaring into the air, she rotates three times in 1.5 seconds--a triple salchow--and lands perfectly on one foot, sliding across the ice with one leg raised in the air. It is 5:45 a.m., and sophomore Shannon Lee is already awake for ice skating practice. Every week, from Monday through Thursday and on Saturdays, Lee attends early morning practice to refine her technique and skills. Lee said, “There’s a lot of off-ice training, where I go through individual techniques so I know the position and where my feet are supposed to be.” After her initial introduction to the sport in kindergarten, Lee felt an immediate connection with the sport, and followed up with taking classes for what would become one of the most influential parts of her life. Lee now practices approximately three hours a day to keep up with the rigorous aspects of her sport. “It is exhausting,“ said Lee, “but every trick you learn is another goal. There’s that motivation to land that jump or to perfect that move and that carries me through.” To assist her in her development, Lee has three different coaches: a choreographer, a spin coach and a jump coach. “My spin coach runs through the entire program with me, my jump coach tries to improve my GEO--my execution of jumps--and my choreographer makes the program flow better, “said Lee. Lee is now at the intermediate level of figure skating, and the pre-gold level of ice dancing. One of the largest competitions that Lee attended was the 2011 National Showcase. “The National Showcase is an artistic program, meaning that songs can contain lyrics, which is unusual for most ice skating competitions. Also, costumes need to be more intricate.” Following her tailbone injury, Lee decided to freshen up her experiences by trying ice dancing, which focuses more on lyrical aspects than figure skating does. Ice dancing, Lee feels, is more suitable for her. “I’m 5’ 7”, which means that when I fall from doing a jump, it’s much harder. I do both now, but I’m really falling in love with ice dance, “ said Lee. Lee now hopes to find a partner. She is currently considering several potential partners from Los Angeles, and will discuss moving with her family if her partner is as committed as she is. On finding a partner, Lee said, “If I can get a partner, that’s what I want to do with my career in the future. And I really hope I can, but as of now, I want to focus on my national solo for ice dance, and then maybe compete internationally.”


Kathy Jang sits down with sophomore Shannon Lee to get the details on Lee’s passion for figure skating and ice dance. KJ: How did you begin ice skating?

SL: My mom signed me up for a summer camp during the summer of kindergarten at Vallco. I took classes everyday and I decided to continue taking classes because I really enjoyed it. KJ: How do you choose which costumes and music to use?

SL: My mom and I do the costumes and the music. She typically gets a standard form of the dress and then decorates it. With music, my coach has a big collection, and my mom chooses from the selection that [my coach] gives us. KJ: How do you prepare for competitions?

SL: With the National Showcase, I practiced my routine for about two months before the competition. Before competitions, we usually get there early to warm up, turn in our music and get used to the environment. It takes 20 minutes for hair, makeup, getting skates on and then I usually go to the rink to map out my routine in my mind. KJ: Have you ever had any injuries or obstacles to performing a trick?

SL: To the second part of the question, it happens all the time. I need to adjust every time I grow taller, and you fall like 20 times every practice. You just get used to it. I’ve had two leg fractures, sprains and my worst injury was my tailbone injury. It happened in 8th grade during practice when I tried doing a double axel and just landed badly. During that time, I decided to rest up and try ice dancing. KJ: How is ice dancing different than figure skating?

SL: The judging is mainly based on edges, footwork, and lifts, while figure skating is mainly focused on jump tricks and spins. KJ: How has skating shaped your life up to now?

SL: Ice skating has made me a lot stronger, mentally and physically. It helps me get through my problems, and it reminds me of my big goal in life: to be really good at skating.




Springing into the outdoors BY KASTURI PANTVAIDYA


t is a myth that Lynbrook students spend all their time behind their computer screens. As the end of the school year nears, many Lynbrook students awaken from their winter hibernation to take advantage of the spring weather by whipping out their bikes, hiking shoes and appreciation for nature. Take a look at how these students take a break from their textbooks to immerse themselves into the outdoors. Top, sophomore Drew Cyrus rides his BMX bike at the Calabazas bike park. Cyrus rides at the park often, along

with a group of his friends who also enjoy bike motocross. Middle right, juniors Caitlin Lee and Jenny Sung take a hike to Hunter’s Point to enjoy the fresh air. Lee and Sung love to hike hills with nice views because they feel that “life’s a climb, but the view is great!” Bottom, senior Pooja Bhatia rides her road bike through the Fremont Older Open Space Preserve. Bhatia bikes everyday, and has won numerous awards in various races that she participates in every weekend, such as the Elite Track Nationals where she raced with 2008 Olympians. Middle left, seniors Mickey Chen and Tejas Konduru hike the Prius Hill trail in Cupertino, CA. Chen and Konduru make the trip three times a week for the opportunity to observe their surroundings while exercising at the same time.

Issue 8, 2013  

Volume 48, Issue 8, April12, 2013