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Page 1

FEATURES

What does tradition mean? The Upper School has many long-standing traditions, and they seem to keep evolving year after year. PAGE 7

THE NUEVA

CURRENT

THE NUEVA SCHOOL SAN MATEO, CA 94403 WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 18, 2019 VOLUME 3, ISSUE 3

HOW ARE YOU?

ILLUMINATING THE CULTURE AND SYSTEMS OF WELLNESS STORY BY GRACE H. | GRAPHICS BY FREEPIK

T

he levity is excruciating. On the board, a two-panel comic shows a harried high-schooler walking down a hallway filled with other students. The first panel reads “what a normal person thinks,” and is filled with classical high-school preoccupations; in the second, which claims to depict “what an anxious person thinks,” the figure is nigh-overwhelmed by thought bubbles filled with potential worries: “What do they think of my clothes? My hair? Am I going to get to class on time?” The class begins a lively discussion about how to support hypothetical friends struggling with anxiety as, in the back of the classroom, Anne* ’21—who lives with general anxiety disorder—avoids eye contact and pushes herself further into the wall. To her, the comics are indicative of a larger problem: the “trivialization” of the fears anxiety can produce and a lack of candid discussions around mental illness as a whole. “I think our goal is to be as accepting and encouraging as possible,” said Jane,* who has also been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. “But I think that trickles down in different amounts to different people.” She’s found discussing her anxiety with classmates to be overall positive, though peers will sometimes “walk on eggshells” after hearing about her experience. Eventually, however, people settle back into the routine—these discussions and their topics are “normal” at Nueva. 11th Grade Dean Jamie Biondi also sees the community as far more willing—and able—to have honest conversations around mental health and wellness than other communities he’s familiar with. “Nueva is a place where you get far more diverse answers to the question ‘How are you?’ than my last school. People are more willing [to engage honestly],” Biondi said. “I think that’s part of SEL education. Not that you want to think of your friends’ conversations as open session, but it bleeds into it.” That openness, however, doesn’t always translate to discussions around mental illness. Though Jane doesn’t see Nueva as “romanticizing” or “rejecting” mental illness, she does think that the community tends to view mental health struggles as “exotic” and misunderstand them beneath the surface level “niceness.”

CONTINUED ON PAGE 10 *Some students names were changed for confidentiality purposes.

PHOTO BY WILLOW C. Y.

NEWS

PHOTO BY SANDRACHILE ON UNSPLASH

PHOTO BY WILLOW C. Y.

Honor Council to begin hearing cases in spring

FEATURES

OPINION

SPORTS

How do Nueva students tackle Should creative writing bias in the news they get? count for arts credit?

First dance team at Nueva formed by student interest

Restorative justice system for disciplinary actions to be implemented with a board of students and faculty. PAGE 3

In a survey asking students how they receive and perceive the news, every single response indicated a perception of news bias to some degree. PAGE 8

We need to value and support the art of creative writing, but students may take advantage of classes in order to get their arts credit. PAGE 13

Four students who dance outside of Nueva start a new team hoping to provide dance opportunities for Upper School students looking to try it out. PAGE 18


page 2 DEC. 18, 2019 VOLUME 3, ISSUE 3

NEWS

BRIEFING BY JORDAN M. & GRACE H.

15 18 14

Science Thursday presentations have taken place this semester.

projects are in progress in the Social Action Research class where students conduct social observations in order to make small changes

THE NUEVA CURRENT

WEDNESDAY CRAFTERNOON On Dec. 11, the WRC hosted a winter cookies, crafts, and caroling celebration for students to get creative and unwind with sweet treats.

8 10 5

types of single-origin chocolates from different countries were available for tasting. Star Wars–themed templates were used to make paper snowflakes (Baby Yoda was the most popular!).

types of crafty DIY projects were made, including pomanders, candle holders, and paper snowflakes.

7 pounds of cookies

different topics have been researched as part of the Independent Study program this semster.

were devoured in less than 32 minutes by hungry Upper School students; Danish butter cookies were the fastest to go, running out in just 3 minutes.

300

students estimated to have been absent on Wednesday, Nov. 27, the day before Thanksgiving

MEATY ESSAYS “I FEEL LIKE A PARAGRAPH… SHOULD BE LIKE A MEAT BUN.” “I READ YOUR TOPIC SENTENCE AND I’M LIKE, ‘OH! THERE IS MEAT HERE. I’M GOING TO EAT THIS MEAT BUN.’ AND THEN I BITE INTO IT, AND THERE IS NOTHING.” “SOMETIMES WHEN I’M READING ESSAYS IT’S LIKE EATING WHITE BREAD, NOT TOASTED, NO BUTTER, NOT EVEN WATER. IT’S JUST DRY.” —SUSHU XIA, HISTORY TEACHER

INDEPENDENT STUDIES Fourteen topics—from astrophysics to music and cognition—were presented to the Upper School community on Tuesday, Dec. 17, as a result of semester-long research done by seven seniors, five juniors, and two sophomores.

PHOTO COURTESY OF BRIDGE HOUSING

19+

Upper School students have tried out for the Spring Musical in the first two days of auditions.

San Mateo campus security guard Guillermo Maldonado is on campus for

17.5 hours on Fridays, from 5:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.

2,500

pieces from three puzzles lie on or beneath the table in the interfaith space on the third floor.

History teacher Brian Cropper is attending

5 parties in the week before winter break.

Math teacher Rebecca Alaly will travel

2,064.6 miles to St. Louis, Missouri, to visit family for the holidays.

AFFORDABLE HOUSING COMES NEXT DOOR TO BAY MEADOWS CAMPUS The project is set to be completed in late 2020; construction is underway with little disruption BY WILLOW C. Y.

A

year from now, the Bay Meadows campus will have a new neighbor. The complex currently being built next door, called Bay Meadows Affordable and the product of a joint effort by San Mateo County and nonprofit BRIDGE Housing, is a below-market-rate (BMR) development meant to provide affordable and transit-oriented housing for the economically disadvantaged. All 68 units are BMR—relatively uncommon, as most buildings only allocate some units to affordable housing—and a dozen are allocated for veterans and four for families at risk for homelessness. The development is a part of a larger effort by the city and surrounding areas to provide more BMR and affordable housing in the face of rising rent and property prices. Construction, which broke ground earlier this year, is set to be completed in the fall of 2020. “My personal feeling is that we need more transitoriented affordable housing,” said Dean of Student Life Hillary Freeman, who was also a former council member in Palo Alto. “There’s going to be a new train station, right there across the street, and there are new offices. Not everyone can afford these other beautiful homes we have here.” The building was designed by the same architectural firm as Nueva’s Bay Meadows campus, Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects, and utilizes similar architectural designs, says project architect Lindsey Trogdon.

In response to some concerns from the Nueva community that the proximity of the two buildings allows for looking into the other property, Trogdon says that the design accounts for that, noting the trees planted along the West Courtyard as well as the fact that the two buildings will not be up against each other. Construction of the site has caused a few traffic problems in the area—like being unable to make a left turn onto E 28th Ave.—but, according to Associate Head of School Terry Lee, Nueva has weekly meetings with the construction company Cahill Contractors to discuss how the construction may be affecting the campus and community. “I don’t think the construction has been too disruptive. We’re very grateful for that,” Lee said. “If you as a student, or your fellow students, or any of our colleagues have questions or issues or concerns about that, you should let us know because it’s not hard for us to talk to them.” The building also draws attention to the primarily residential location the Bay Meadows campus is uniquely situated in. “I think we’re going to have to learn how to interact with a neighbor that’s not just right across the street, but literally right next door,” Lee said. “We strive to maintain collegial relationships with the community and with neighbors, and we’re going to continue to aspire to do that.”


NEWS

thenuevacurrent.com

SIX-STEP PROCESS | Noah T. '20 explains to the Upper School how the Honor Council will handle cases using their six-step process that includes private healing dialogues, group discussions, and community outreach. PHOTO BY WILLOW C. Y.

page 3 DEC. 18, 2019 VOLUME 3, ISSUE 3

WALKING FOR CLEAN WATER | Organized by Stephanie S. '20 and Valerie B. '21 of the Community Service Learning Club, WE Walk for Water aimed to raise money and awareness for people who lack access to clean water. PHOTO BY STEPHANIE S.

WE WALK FOR WATER

CSL Club hosts first-ever walkathon at Upper School BY JORDAN M.

RESTORATIVE JUSTICE TAKES SHAPE Student Honor Council set to hear cases in spring 2020 BY WILLOW C. Y.

T

he well-known, yet enigmatic Honor Council is set to begin taking cases in spring 2020. From the start of the school year to now, the Council has been training every week by practicing a six-step restorative justice process with case studies and discussions, and has done extensive workshops with an outside organization. The leading faculty are PreK–12 Equity and Social Justice Director Alegria Barclay and history teacher Arta Khakpour, with eight students currently on the Council; they plan to ideally have 11 students (adding two freshmen and one sophomore) and four faculty members. The Council will begin hearing discipline cases next semester, should they arise, with approximately three or four students and one faculty member weighing in on each case. The Upper School has turned to restorative justice, a justice practice focused on repairing harm in the affected community, as a guiding principle in informing the system of discipline. The Honor Council is meant to help by reviewing certain cases through the frame of restorative justice; the purpose, Barclay emphasized, is not to determine the guilt of the parties involved, as cases seen by the Council have already been reviewed and the “affected” and “responsible” parties, as Barclay calls the people involved in the dispute, have already been determined. Instead, the Council will use restorative justice to provide suggestions on how best to “collaboratively and restoratively,” as Khakpour put it, address potential harm created by the dispute. Equity and Inclusion Representative Quincy A. ’20, who also works at an Oakland nonprofit that implements restorative justice, is also separately working to implement restorative justice in the classroom and curriculum. But even as the term is becoming more prominent in school programs, “restorative justice” remains vague and a bit confusing for students. By

definition, the term doesn’t have a set of directions or a fixed roadmap—the implementation of the justice practice differs on a case-by-case basis—but according to Barclay and Quincy, the term typically has three key points: one, the acknowledgement and identification of harm done to the victim and community; two, the creation of productive discussion between the involved parties; and finally, the implementation of solutions to repair—or “restore”— the community. The emphasis, Quincy and Barclay agree, is on addressing the needs and concerns of the “affected party” and the greater community, including the “responsible party.” According to Upper School Division Head Stephen Dunn, restorative justice has always been a part of the Nueva curriculum, since before he came to Nueva. It was only in a workshop during a faculty retreat in August two years ago, however, that the term “restorative justice” was attached. “It was the first time that I had [understood] community values, discipline, and justice in that way. We talked about supporting the community at large,” Dunn said. “The beloved community actually came out of that. We do community pretty well here in lots of ways, but what we’re really asking for is to level up our sense of community— and how do we hold ourselves accountable in greater ways in it.” After the workshop, Barclay worked with Middle School Division Head Liza Raynal to implement more restorative justice practices into the Middle and Upper Schools. “If you look at the Lower School, it basically uses restorative justice without calling it that,” Barclay said of the increased implementation of restorative justice. “The way it’s embedded there is very much what we were looking for, but then we were thinking about what that looks like Middle and Upper School, where you are generally seeing more serious offenses than [what] little kids are dealing with,

and you’re feeling all the pressures of parents and other students.” Even given the parameters and the use at the Lower School, the term can still be potentially mystifying to some and, as a result, misinterpretations can happen. “Certainly, there have been concerns on the part of students and parents about the way in which discipline does or does not happen. It leaves a lot of questions around transparency and around [whether] there are consequences—there’s a perceived sense of laxness,” she explained. The student body, according to Miles G. ’20, feels that confusion in the face of what he sees as ambiguity. “It feels like there's not a lot of transparency. It feels like there's not a lot of information that gets shared,” he said. “From what I understand of restorative justice, the idea makes a lot of sense to me. It's just I think, especially here in the way it's been implemented, it kind of falls apart a little bit. That's my impression, and I've had conversations with other people in my grade where that's the impression that most of us have.” This trepidation is shared by Bayan S. ’21 as well, who says that the idea of the Honor Council makes him “a bit worried,” as he's hesitant about the confidentiality aspect Council members are expected to fulfill in all cases. Even so, he does want to see how the Honor Council proceeds in the second semester. Miles is also curious and hopeful about the actual reality of the Honor Council and the continued implementation of restorative justice. “I think with students involved in the process I feel better about it, knowing that there are people there who have been on the student side of things [and who are] actually giving input,” Miles said. “I just think there’s stuff that students see that I think admin doesn’t see and doesn’t really get talked about. I feel better knowing that it’s going to be an open process.”

N

ueva’s Community Service Learning (CSL) Club hosted the first-ever walkathon at the Upper School to support WE Charity’s efforts to provide clean water to communities in third-world countries. Approximately 30 students walked around Bay Meadows Park on Friday, Dec. 13. CSL Club was able to raise over $300 through registration fees and donations. According to WE, over 840 million people do not have access to clean water and about 40% of the world’s population is affected by the scarcity of clean water.

AI, AUTOMATION, AND THE FUTURE OF WORK | Audience members raise their hands to indicate whether they've ever programmed a machine learning system during a panel with Bloomberg Beta venture capitalist James Cham, Stitch Fix CTO Cathy Polinsky, history teacher Tom Dorrance, and Jack A. ’22. PHOTO BY RACHEL FREEMAN

ROUNDTABLES SPARK CURRENT EVENTS CONVERSATIONS Students recruit professionals and experts for invigorating colloquies BY LAURA C.

T

he student-led Roundtable Club meets every Monday to organize presentations and discussions around contemporary topics within the realm of social studies. The three co-presidents of Roundtable are Adrienne P. ’22, Anna I. M. ’22, and Alyssa H. ’22. The most recent Roundtable was hosted on Dec. 13 and was about AI, Automation, and the Future of Work. They had four panelists, Bloomberg Beta venture capitalist James Cham, Stitch Fix CTO Cathy Polinsky, history teacher Tom Dorrance, and Jack A. ’22. Roundtable partnered with Nueva’s AI Task Force—which aims to determine how AI technology fits into the school’s mission—for this latest discussion. The next Roundtable will take place on Jan. 29. The topic for discussion will be climate change. The Middle School is invited to attend; the co-leads plan to have an interdisciplinary approach to combating climate change.


page 4 DEC. 18, 2019 VOLUME 3, ISSUE 3

CULTURE

THE NUEVA CURRENT

A Brief Review of

Facebook's

Controversial History 2003 Mark Zuckerberg creates Facemash, a site intended to compare the looks of female students at Harvard.

2004

WAS MORE THAN JUST A BIOGRAPHY

Mark Zuckerberg and Eduardo Saverin revise Facemash to create a Harvard social networking site called TheFacebook.

2008 Winklevoss twins sue Facebook for theft of intellectual property and settle for $65 million.

How this seemingly satirical film foreshadowed Facebook’s controversial future BY GRACE F.

F

acebook and controversy—two words we hear together too many times. Started as a “hot-or-not” game created to compare female students at Harvard, this site is now the most popular social networking platform in the world. Over the years, Facebook has gained its reputation as not only one of the most used but also the most controversial social media site. Screenwriter Aaron Sorkin responded to Facebook’s most recent controversy (a refusal to ban political advertisements) with an open letter published in The New York Times to Mark Zuckerberg, the social media giant’s co-founder and CEO. Sorkin wrote the screenplay for the 2010 biopic The Social Network, which followed Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) as he created and grew Facebook. In the recent dispute, Mark Zuckerberg said, “What I believe is that in a democracy, it’s really important that people can see for themselves what politicians are saying, so that they can make their own judgements.” Aaron Sorkin responded, “That’s not defending free speech, Mark, that’s assaulting truth.” Even as The Social Network tracks the evolution of Facebook, one thing that doesn’t change is the character of Zuckerberg. Eisenberg portrays Zuckerberg as stuck-up and immature, as someone who can’t have normal

human interactions and only cares about himself. In contrast to most films, the characters in this one went through a reverse hero’s journey, with their most successful moment in the beginning or middle of the film, and their rock bottom at the end. Mark’s character development is a prominent example of this reverse arc, showing that he was just obsessed with his ex at both the beginning and end of the film. This contrast against other films presents the fact that the purpose of this film wasn’t to be a bittersweet biography— it was to expose Facebook. Movie Zuckerberg’s very introduction is problematic, with him and his girlfriend, Erica Albright (Rooney Mara), in the midst of an argument. Erica ends up dumping Mark, saying, “You’re going to go through life thinking girls don’t like you because you’re a nerd, and I want you to know from the bottom of my heart that that won’t be the truth. It’ll be because you’re an asshole.” Humiliated and seething, Mark goes back to his dorm and first writes a blog post complaining about Erica before creating a site called Facemash, which he made by hacking college databases to retrieve photos of female students and comparing their attractiveness. Four years after the film's release, in a live Q&A, Zuckerberg said that despite getting some details correct, “they just kind of made up a bunch of stuff that I found kind of hurtful.” He said that the reality of “writing code and building a

product” was not glamorous enough for a film, and that a lot of the content was “embellish[ed].” As soon as Facebook was created, it already had enemies. In the film, Mark was approached by Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss (Artie Hammer), two Harvard students looking to create a social networking site called Harvard Connections. Mark avoided all contact from them and continued working on TheFacebook, eventually resulting in multiple trials regarding theft of intellectual property. As this film continues, few of Mark’s actions are justified and it is difficult to sympathize with him as he loses some of the friends he started with. Although The Social Network obviously wasn’t supposed to be 100% accurate and shed an almost humorous light on the company, it asserted that Facebook is more than just a social media site. Even though the events of this film happened over 15 years ago, history has a pattern of repeating itself. Facebook is too entrenched in our lives for its endless chain of controversy to end.

2014 Facebook tracks down profiles of drag queens in San Francisco, making them use their real names instead of their drag names.

2017 The Guardian releases Facebook files and documents how they censor content.

2018 Cambridge Analytica uses personal information from Facebook for political advertising.

2019 Facebook refuses to follow Twitter in banning political advertisements.

“What I believe is that in a democracy, it's really important that people can see for themselves what politicians are saying, so that they can make their own judgements.” —Mark Zuckerberg

PHOTO COURTESY OF AFP

A NOT-SO-MARVELOUS SEASON

The new season of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is fine, but no more than that BY ELIZABETH B. P.

T

he new season of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel came out on Dec. 6 and wow, is it a break from tradition. While some characters still shine, it strays too far from its original location and premise to hold tight to a lot of what made it charming before. It doesn’t throw itself wholeheartedly into its new premise, either, and Midge’s routines also range wildly from good to unoriginal to problematic. Yet this season isn’t terrible. It finally includes more people of color in larger starring parts and it answers a number of questions (why do the Weissmans live so affluently?), and it sets up Midge for significant character growth later on. So, in honor of a season that could have been better or worse, here are four characters that stand out this season.

SUSIE MYERSON ALEX BORSTEIN

SHY BALDWIN LEROY MCCLAIN

As usual, Midge’s manager Susie is the highlight of the series, equal parts funny, supportive, mean, sensible, and fair throughout the show. Borstein is a truly marvelous actor. Still, Susie seems to be in some scenes only for the purpose of making Midge seem traditionally feminine and cultured, which seems uncreative at best and questionably non-feminist at its worst.

A new addition this season (though he was seen briefly in the last season), the singer Shy Baldwin is not only the first big-time performer Midge works with on tour, but also the first black main character on the show. McClain is an excellent actor, playing a performer who is more experienced than Midge and also more personally admirable. But I also think his oft-sidelined role in the show is regrettably representative of how the show has often treated its people of color, so I hope he becomes more central in seasons to come.

LENNY BRUCE LUKE KIRBY

JOEL MAISEL MICHAEL ZEGEN

When I started Maisel, I loved the spot-on portrayal of Lenny Bruce. I liked him as a mentor and a friend, so I’m torn on his relationship with Midge this season. Maybe it’s because I was a fan of Benjamin (Zachary Levi) last season, but Lenny, Midge? Really? He’s well-acted, but the dynamic is weird.

Joel Maisel is my least favorite character. My problem isn’t with the way he acts in the first season (although that’s bad enough). He is a bland, irresponsible character who does bad things. He’s bad to all the women he’s involved with. Honestly, I don’t know why he’s included except to keep his parents around, who are both hilarious characters played by amazing actors. Michael Zegen is a good actor, but Joel just isn’t much to work with.


CULTURE

www.thenuevacurrent.com

REVIEW

The movie's soundtrack holds Billboard 200's

third place

position, surpassing Post Malone, Billie Eilish, and Taylor Swift. BILLBOARD

FROZEN 2 LEFT EVERYONE LOST IN THE WOODS

This chaotic film unexpectedly joined the long line of the Disney legacy

page 5 DEC. 18, 2019 VOLUME 3, ISSUE 3

FIVE THINGS TO DO DURING A WINTER BREAK STAYCATION BY VALERIE B.

ICE SKATING Prominently located in Union Square, the ice rink invites all to experience outdoor ice skating in the heart of San Francisco. Other Bay Area ice skating locations include Winter Lodge in Palo Alto and the ice rink in San Mateo Central Park.

BY GRACE F.

I

PHOTO COURTESY OF DISNEY

It's the third film of 2019 to remain at the

No. 1 position for three consecutive weekends, joining Glass and Avengers: Endgame. YAHOO! ENTERTAINMENT

n December 2013, movie theaters around the world were filled with kids anticipating the next Disney film. Frozen delivered, bringing two strong princesses, an engaging plot, and annoyingly catchy music to the big screen. In November 2019, almost six years after the release of the first movie, the long-awaited Frozen 2 finally played for eager kids and nostalgic teens. Frozen is loosely based on the fairy tale “The Snow Queen” by Hans Christian Andersen, following Queen Elsa (Idina Menzel) of Arendelle who loses control of her ice powers, her fun-loving sister Anna (Kristin Bell), ice harvester Kristoff (Jonathan Groff), his reindeer Sven, and Olaf (Josh Gad), a snowman from their childhood. The sequel takes place three years later, with Elsa successfully ruling Arendelle, and living happily with now-couple Anna and Kristoff as well as Olaf and Sven. This film features many flashbacks of when Elsa and Anna were younger, focusing on the story of the feud between Arendelle and the Northuldra tribe. Elsa, now 24, suddenly hears a voice calling to her. She decides to follow it, leading her, Anna, Kristoff, Olaf, and Sven on a journey to the enchanted forest to discover the origin of Elsa’s power. Compared to the heartwarming plot of the first film, Frozen 2 is much darker and touches on serious topics like war, life-or-death decisions, and racism, an attempt to portray more adult topics while still appealing to a young audience. Complete with a suspenseful plot and catchy music, this film includes almost too much for one film. Despite the introduction of new topics, this film still needed to find

a way to be engaging and concise enough for a very young audience, causing the pacing of this film to be strange, making it seem as if the events of this film only took place within 48 hours, when it realistically would’ve taken much longer. The points that this film tries to make might have been more effective if slowed down and not so plagued with plot holes. At the same time, much of the film feels as if it was dragging on, and that writers just added extra lines and songs to fill the time requirement of a feature film. In addition, although the attempt at social commentary relating to racism was an original idea, the filmmakers didn’t quite follow through, as Anna and Elsa were able to solve a multidecade-long feud in under an hour. However, it isn’t all bad. Like many other Disney films, Frozen 2 is a musical. Frozen made a name for itself with its iconic songs like “Love is an Open Door,” “For the First Time in Forever,” and of course “Let it Go.” Although the songs in Frozen 2 aren’t parodied as much, it was enjoyable to hear Menzel belt out two powerful ballads and Groff sing alongside a chorus of reindeer. Although Frozen 2 is inconsistently paced and was extremely confusing and unrealistic, the gorgeous animation and original plot made the experience of seeing this film pleasant. For an almost impossible task of creating a film for both kids and teenagers, Frozen 2 was effective in the sense that it catered to all audiences, and was relatively engaging. It definitely wasn’t the best execution, but the nostalgia of seeing the same characters still made this film enjoyable.

AYLA PETERS PAZ

AMBER CARPENTER

UNION SQUARE FESTIVITIES Every year, Union Square is transformed into a winter wonderland, an 83-foot lit tree as its centerpiece, surrounded by garland wreaths in the windows of Macy’s. Close by, running from Nov. 29 to Dec. 31, Winter Walk SF is a pop-up holiday plaza nestled near Union Square. It’s a festive location decorated with lights, food trucks of all cuisines, and activities for people of all ages.

PHOTO COURTESY OF CALIFORNIA'S GREAT AMERICA

WINTERFEST GREAT AMERICA If you enjoy theme parks and exhilarating roller coasters, Winterfest transforms California’s Great America park into a snowy extravaganza, full of holiday-themed attractions. Whether you want to stroll through Gingerbread Village or take a bobsled ride on the Berserker, there is something for everyone.

PHOTO COURTESY OF TRAVEL + LEISURE

EUCALYPTUS AVENUE In San Carlos, many stroll down this well-lit street and marvel over each uniquely decorated house. Known as Christmas Tree Lane, it features shimmering snowmen on rooftops, icicles drizzling from tree branches, and silver and gold garlands hanging on fence posts.

SPOTIFY WRAPPED: FACULTY FAVORITES

ALEXA HART

PHOTO COURTESY OF UNION SQUARE ICE RINK

KATIE SAYLOR PHOTO COURTESY OF ERIK TOMASSON / SFGATE

HOLIDAY CLASSICS If you enjoy cultural events and the theater, San Francisco’s annual showing of A Christmas Carol, a keystone of Bay Area holiday traditions, is an ideal outing. Another dazzling spectacle is Nutcracker, a day activity to share with others. Its dreamy scenes with falling snow create a visually appealing show that enchants the audience. JEREMY JACQUOT

BRIAN CROPPER

FRANCISCO BECERRA-HERNANDEZ

STEPHEN DUNN


page 6 DEC. 18, 2019 VOLUME 3, ISSUE 3

CULTURE

THE BEST MINISERIES OF 2019 FALL/WINTER

THE NUEVA CURRENT

’TIS THE SEASON TO BE READING

Give the gift of reading this winter break with these new releases

BY WILLOW C. Y. BY LAURA C.

As a podcast lover of miniseries in particular, I’m always on the lookout for the rare few that hold stories worth telling in a way that’s worth listening to. Be that through exuding audio-editing perfection or ripping out a few heartstrings, truly enjoyable and beautiful podcasts are able to evoke torrential emotion and unbridled interest in its listener; they also should, upon their conclusion, devastate the listener to no end and leave them wondering: would there ever be as artfully crafted a podcast? (“Serial” and “S-Town” are fantastic examples.) Below are the precious few I’ve sorted through the grunge to find—I hope you enjoy them all as much as I do.

“DOLLY PARTON’S AMERICA” Created and hosted by award-winning MacArthur Fellow and personal favorite Jad Amubrad, “Dolly Parton’s America” is a deep exploration into the many, if not countless, influences country legend Dolly Parton has had on the culture of America. From tangents into medieval Europe’s songbased journalism to the rapidly evolving place of women in postmodern society, this nine-episode series is the epitome of the dark-yet-feel-good, trademark storytelling style of Abumrad, all gilded with Parton’s unhostile politics and distinct country twang.

“SCATTERED” There’s no way around it—“Scattered” is heartbreaking. In this six-part series, comedian Chris Garcia gets to know his father’s hitherto-mysterious life as a Cuban immigrant caught in the age of Fidel Castro— after his father passes away. Produced by the decorated WNYC Studios, “Scattered” tells the tangled, universal immigrant story through the eyes of a first-generation hyphenated American, using the poignant, tragic humor that only comedians can wield with an accuracy that pierces and a finesse that uplifts. If you want to cry, then laugh, then cry some more, this podcast is for you. *Trigger Warning: there are explicit mentions of suicide in this podcast.

LET’S GO SWIMMING ON DOOMSDAY BY NATALIE ANDERSON Length: 325 pages “We all do things we’re not proud of, but that doesn’t make us bad people. Not if we try to fix them,” says Abdiwali, a 16-year-old Somali boy forced to join the terrorist group Al Shabaab. “Let’s Go Swimming On Doomsday is bound to perplex you until the very end, when it all comes together,” says Samantha Leong ’23. With chapters alternating between the beginning and the end of the tale, suspenseful and riveting writing, and an eye-opening insight into the reality of terrorist groups, this book, despite being heartbreaking, communicates a powerful message of self-sacrifice and the power of joy in the darkest of times. *Possible Triggers: violence, trauma, war, sexual assault, religious slurs

KING OF SCARS BY LEIGH BARDUGO Length: 527 pages With suspense, action, and Bardugo’s ever-present wit, King of Scars did not disappoint fans of the Grishaverse. Watching a sharp-minded king try to save his broken kingdom while battling his inner demons (quite literally, not figuratively), seeing and missing characters from earlier series, and getting way too invested in people who will only die is only the beginning of what one will experience. “It’s fun to read if you have a lot of time because you’ll get immersed in the world,” says Abby Pasternak ’21. Bardugo’s classic storytelling and character depth are articulated in this dark-fantasy book, and a cast of memorable characters will engross readers in the charming words and dark crafts that only Nikolai can bring. Readers can jump straight into King of Scars, but the book does reference characters from the Grishaverse and Six of Crows duology. *Possible Triggers: violence, language, mature themes

WARLIGHT BY MICHAEL ONDAATJE Length: 304 pages

“FINDING FRED” What is a “good” person? “Finding Fred,” hosted by writer Carvell Wallace, digs through the complexity of Fred Rogers and his famous children’s show, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, in order to answer this question and others—moving and difficult questions about morality, “otherness,” and even death. This 10-part series maps Rogers’s influence throughout the tremulous 1960s to the modern day, when the generation who watched Rogers tackle the ever-elusive topic of feelings are finally grown up, and have created a culture so different than that of his hopes. This podcast is both sweet and sad in its sweetness, and will force you to confront your own emotions, demons, and “goodness.”

In post–World War II London, a pair of siblings land in the care of two mysterious men without any sight of their parents. The people around them are clearly up to something. Warlight, a suspenseful historical novel, is filled with risk, the unseen, and the hand of fate. “I was hooked from the first line, with its ambiguity and strange echoes of classic adventure tales. As the mystery deepened, so did the melancholy,” says Jen Paull, the WRC Director and Interim Director of Humanities. With themes of loyalty and adventurousness, this book will take you “a few days of gobble-it-up reading” to finish. *Possible Triggers: abandonment, sex, violence, greyhound racing

THE FOUNTAINS OF SILENCE BY RUTA SEPETYS Length: 514 pages

“MOONRISE” The decision to send a man to the moon is a surprisingly dark, haunting story—so says “Moonrise,” a 10-part series on the origins of the American fixation with space travel. The story begins long before President John F. Kennedy, long before any of the Apollo missions; it begins, instead, with the creation of science fiction, and progresses through the technological advancements, cultural reforms, and political evolutions that eventually lead to the first step on the moon. The podcast is slow—unfortunately so— but well-researched and allows its plot to develop with a patience few podcasts have. “Moonrise” caters to idle listeners with slow-moving details, draws them in, and then traps them with the haunting thrill of dark history.

Narrative nonfiction takes a newfound place in my favorite genres with Ruta Sepetys. Her newest novel, The Fountains of Silence, is set in Spain during Francisco Franco’s reign and strikes straight through my heart with its painful yet raw truth. Told from the perspective of two young adults from both sides of the regime, it skillfully weaves both history and fiction together, creating characters that both the young and old can relate to. Sepetys spent almost two years researching and interviewing people in Spain, wanting the voice of her story to be as authentic as possible, and she has successfully captured the minuscule details that bring out the authenticity of Spain. *Possible Triggers: violence, trauma, war, abuse, blood


FEATURES

www.thenuevacurrent.com

page 7 DEC. 18, 2019 VOLUME 3, ISSUE 3

WHAT DOES TRADITION MEAN AT NUEVA? The Upper School community has multiple long-standing traditions that have evolved over the years STORY BY VALERIE B. | ILLUSTRATION BY ALYSSA L.

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hroughout the years, the Nueva community has adopted various traditions during the holidays, leading up to the two-week winter break. A tradition that takes place in all three division, Grandparents’ and Special Friends’ Day is a long-standing event in the community across all three school divisions. Since many families reunite over Thanksgiving, family members have the opportunity to see what their grandchildren, nieces, or nephews are doing at school. Hillary Freeman, Dean of Student Life, appreciates the newness of Nueva and its ability to not be stuck in the same traditions. “We change with times, we change with the students, we change with our beliefs,” Freeman said. “That itself is a gift, that we are not mired in tradition.” Another tradition at both campuses is the annual holiday concert, which occurs the day before winter break. It is a chance for students to express themselves musically, and brings the community together before the holidays. Existing first at the Lower School, it has now translated into the Upper School. Freeman sees the concert as an opportunity for students to share their passions and talents. “I love it when students demonstrate their musical abilities, or artistic abilities, or any ability,” she said. What instrument do you play at the holiday concert? Are you part of a music class at Nueva? What do you most enjoy about the holiday concerts? Around the holidays, the community focuses on reflection and gratitude, two values that are particularly important

to Nueva. In advisories, students write notes of gratitude to others in order to cultivate a culture of giving thanks. Freeman appreciates the power of gratitude, specifically around the holidays. “It means that someone actually sat down and thought about you, whether you know it or not,” she said. Another way of reflecting is through reflection circles; students participate in reflection circles the day before winter break, beginning in advisory, and eventually transitioning into grade-level and school-wide conversations. Every year, advisories participate in White Elephant/Secret Santa, a gift exchange where students bring something that is either owned or homemade for someone else, anonymously. Approaching its fifth year, Secret Goddess of the Winter Solstice is a faculty book exchange founded by Alegria Barclay, Equity and Social Justice Director. Faculty members are assigned a person at random to buy a book for them, based on their interests.

TALENTED SENIORS

CLASS OF 2020’S 20-SECOND TALENTS

AMIT S. Self-Proclaimed Professional Comedian

Student Council starts new tradition at All-Hands Meetings

DAVID S. Gluten-Free Survivor AUDREY H. Geography Genius STEVEN R. Has A Nose ANJALI R. Former Winner of “The Voice" MAX R. Spindle Spinner CLAY A. Yo-Yo Master & Member of Swim Team ZOE Q. Has a 40-Inch Vertical RACHEL D. Has Two Hands to High-Five

BY SERENA S.

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he timer counts down as gluten-free David S. ’20 stuffs cupcake after cupcake into his mouth. The feast is a part of a new tradition implemented into All-Hands Meetings this year: that of the Class of 2020’s 20-second talents. The intention was to foster and encourage support, pride, and creativity in the student body. “In the past, All-Hands Meetings were used exclusively for making announcements,” said Student Council Lead Jeremy D. ’20. “There was a sense from the student body that there was little interest in attending them, and we wanted to change that.” During the Student Council retreat before the school year, the team brainstormed ways to make All-Hands Meetings more fun. Snapchat’s 10-second talent story came up as a source of

STUDENT HOLIDAY TRADITIONS Zulie M. ’21 and her family travel to Phoenix, Arizona, to spend the week with her maternal grandfather. They decorate a tree and bake sugar cookies, concluding with a Christmas dinner with family friends. Zulie and her family also take a road trip either to the Grand Canyon or another snowy location. For a few days, they explore the scenic landscape and hike, staying in a lodge. Zulie also celebrates Christmas a second time with her cousin and the cousin’s kids in New Mexico. Dominic L. ’23 begins preparing for Christmas after Thanksgiving, getting into the spirit almost a month before the holiday. He and his family decorate a tree while playing music. Leading up to Christmas, he awaits a gift every morning from the Advent Calender, buys presents for others, and sends out Christmas cards with his mother. When he is not traveling, he and his brother have a tradition of eating Lucky Charms before opening presents on Christmas day. Although Maya A. ’22 and her family are traveling many times during Hanukkah, they hold traditions like bringing a menorah along to their destination. When she is not traveling, her cousins celebrate with them on one of the nights. One year, leftover sweet potatoes during Thanksgiving were used to make latkes, combining two holidays Maya values. Around Hanukkah, Maya loves the songs. She has a tradition of singing one song in Hebrew none of her family knows the words to, but has fun trying to remember them. Carmen M. ’21 visits her dad's family in Atlanta every other year and they watch the light show at the Atlanta Botanical Garden. Her grandmother has two trees: one that is decorated with ornaments in the living room and one that only has angels in the dining room. When not in Atlanta, Carmen travels to Colombia to visit her other grandma, and the whole family hangs out at a secluded beach.

inspiration, and the StuCo members wanted to adapt it to fit within the AllHands structure, curating 20-second talents. StuCo feels that their main goals for 20-second talents have been achieved, incentivizing students to attend meetings. “The talent shows make the meetings more entertaining and interesting,” said Nixie H. ’23. “I’m more intrigued and excited to come to the meetings each time.” One concern was the lack of participation from the seniors. Thus far, there have been seven performers, but to ensure a steady stream of participants, Student Council created a lottery wheel that randomly selects seniors. This encouraged many to step outside of their comfort zone and feel more supported by their classmates. “I think it’s definitely a bit stressful to have to perform in front of the whole school, but I felt pretty good after since someone needed to represent our grade,” said Amit S. ’20, the first-ever to participate in 20-second talents, performing stand-up comedy. “This selection process is actually a lot better because it's a fun, exciting, and public event, and it eliminates the risk of asking people the night before if they

Leading up to the exchange, each person leaves clues to give their person hints of what the book will be. Alegria Barclay hopes that this tradition reduces stress for faculty during a busy time of year. “I think part of my goal is to have something light and non-academic that faculty can focus on. It’s a nice morale boost,” she said. While tradition is building at Nueva, community members believe there is room for more growth. History teacher Arta Khakpour acknowledges the diverse ways that students celebrate holidays, and encourages more celebration. “The beauty of living a multiethnic, multireligious, multicultural civilization like ours is not to shy away from celebration out of this need to be secular, but to embrace as many as we can,” Khakpour said. As the school continues to grow in size and years, long-standing traditions will continue to evolve and new ones will arise, paving the way for a new meaning of tradition during the holidays.

want to perform,” Jeremy said. “If I were drafted, I would probably try to solve a Rubik’s Cube blindfolded—getting it under 20 seconds is the tricky part.” The favorite 20-second talent thus far has been Steven R.’s ’20 performance, where he played “Mary Had a Little Lamb” on the recorder with his nose. “I thought it was super entertaining because not only was it unexpected, but I didn’t think it was possible,” Emma Z. ’23 said. Increasing school spirit has been one of Nueva’s goals, and these talents create more. The tradition not only gets the senior class cheering but the entire student body as well. “It's great to see how StuCo has tried to spruce up the meetings and school spirit, and it definitely all paid off,” Clay A. ’20 said. “Everyone in the school has something unique about them and the 20-second talent is a really short and sweet way for the seniors to share a part of their identity before we leave,” Amit said. Looking forward, Student Council hopes that the 20-second talents will be a lasting senior tradition that continues even when the current class graduates. “I want to maintain that purpose as well as maintain the talents as a source of twelfth-grade pride,” Jeremy said.


page 8 DEC. 18, 2019 VOLUME 3, ISSUE 3

FEATURES

TikTok has gained 1.5 billion users since being introduced to the iOS and Android markets two and a half years ago, and the app has 500 active users monthly.

THE NUEVA CURRENT

TIKTOK’S GROWING INFLUENCE ON TEENS

What makes the social media platform so popular? STORY BY JORDAN M. | ILLUSTRATION BY MICHELLE W.

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ifteen to 60 seconds of screen time for thousands of followers and likes. An endless feed of short clips hypnotizes users as they scroll through their For You page. A click on a hashtag, profile, or sound leads into a deeper trance. Content creators on TikTok—an app similar to Vine—produce short videos that range from dances to jokes. Some teenagers who post on the app even experiment with new personalities, like a “VSCO girl” or “eboy/egirl.” In just two and a half years, TikTok has gained 1.5 billion users. TikTok had 104 million downloads in the first half of 2018, which was higher than established giants like YouTube, WhatsApp, Instagram, Facebook, and WeChat. The app has grown far larger than even Vine: TikTok has 500 million active users monthly, more than double Vine’s peak at 200 million. Celebrities like Dwayne Johnson and Will Smith have also joined TikTok as the app’s popularity continues to skyrocket. “It’s both addictive and fun because being on it is such a low-energy task: you just watch a video for 15 seconds, and if you don’t like it, just keep scrolling,” says Sofia I. ’22. The app has also crossed over into larger platforms like Snapchat and Instagram. Videos from TikTok can easily be shared with the click of a button, allowing users to repost videos to other social media accounts. “It makes me laugh really hard,” Calder B. ’23 says. “It’s so

thrilling.” While TikTok is a fun app for many users, Ibarra believes that it has gotten a bad reputation for being “stupid or—dare I say— cringey.” Joshua E. ’22 agrees that TikTok, while fun, can be nauseating at times. “TikTok exemplifies both the degradation of humankind and the dawn of a new civilization improved,” Joshua says. Retaining key features from Musical.ly, such as choosing a sound and “duetting” existing videos, TikTok is more an evolution than an overhaul of its predecessor. Musical.ly— popularized in 2016 as a lip-sync video platform—was bought and merged with TikTok by Chinese parent company ByteDance in August 2018. There are, however, noticeable differences between TikTok and the previous generation. “It’s a different vibe. I like TikTok more because it’s more interactive,” Calder says. “Like songs like get stuck in your head and then you start learning the dances, and then you’re doing it with a lot of other people.” TikTok’s growth after its merge with Musical.ly and its 2018 introduction into the U.S. market has generated huge amounts of revenue for ByteDance, its parent company. The company was valued at $75 billion in October 2019 and continued its two-year reign as the world’s most valuable startup, beating popular U.S. companies like Juul, WeWork, Airbnb, SpaceX, and DoorDash. However, because TikTok is

ILLUSTRATION BY THALIA R.

NUEVA STUDENTS ON THE BIASED NATURE OF NEWS

A survey overwhelmingly suggests they believe the news is biased BY TINA Z.

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he New York Times, Associated Press, National Public Radio, and Reddit are some of the news sources Nueva students use most—but they can present biased or outright inaccurate information. In a survey asking Upper School students how they receive and perceive the news, out of 169 respondents, every single response indicated a perception of news bias to some degree. Alice G. ’21, who checks many different kinds of news in a variety of formats, believes the delivery of information is inherently biased. “Bias is kind of inextricable from news,” Alice said. “There’s always bias in the information that you choose to include.” Almost 60% of students responded that they believe most news media outlets fail at differentiating fact from opinion.

According to the survey, while students believe that media bias is becoming increasingly common, many also believe it remains unnoticed for many Americans, particularly when it comes to political coverage. Students repeatedly cited Fox News and CNN as examples of right- and left-leaning reporting. Because he checks the news multiple times a day, Dylan W. ’23 believes some news companies are often pushing personal agendas using their platforms. “I don’t think [news companies] will—or can— improve their objectivity due to the fact that many corporations [use bias] to forward their agenda,” Dylan said. “Media corporations hold lots of power in our society, and I find it hard to believe that the shareholders of said companies won’t want to use their companies as an extension of themselves.”

Social media is also becoming an increasingly popular news source; 65% of students use it as a way to receive news. Following news accounts on Instagram, checking Twitter headlines, and watching Snapchat’s stories are just some of the ways that students get their news from various social media platforms. While some students believe social media is a great way to reach a wider audience, many believe it can be dangerous. While social media can inform the public quickly and give a voice to people, the information presented is almost always targeted. Eleanor M. ’21, who uses a variety of news sources, not including social media, believes that social media is susceptible to the spreading of misinformation. “Because social media companies feel zero responsibility to vet the content that is proliferated on their

owned by a Chinese company, the app has become involved in multiple controversies. The biggest one revolves around the motives of a Chinese tech company in the American market, especially since its user base is so large. “I think TikTok is a really great way for China to subtly monitor and have influence over American teens,” says Arielle C. ’22, who believes that China may be using the social media service to track and screen content that is created and viewed in the United States. ByteDance’s acquisition of Musical.ly in November 2017 is currently undergoing a national security review. The company has stated that their highest priority is earning the trust of American users and regulators and that content and policies are managed by a U.S.-based team. “It’s the first Chinese social media app that’s been able to tap into the young American market,” Quincy A. ’20 says. “That’s what sets it up for success.” Despite TikTok’s place on the list of dubious social media platforms, teenagers in the United States continue to use the app. However, some feel that the app’s popularity will soon fade, joining Musical.ly and Vine in the social media graveyard. For now, though, TikTok remains popular in the iOS App Store and Google Play Store, with hundreds of millions of active users. Until TikTokers run out of jokes or the app falls to security concerns, TikTok will continue to be a teenage favorite.

platforms, the majority of content that spreads is false,” Eleanor said. “This false information can have a dangerous impact on public opinion of pressing issues.” Facebook, for example, is a social media platform that Rohan V. ’21, an avid news follower, finds particularly problematic as a good example of the issues with spreading false information. “Part of the reason why scandals such as Facebook’s data and advertising issues are so important is because many people aren’t being careful about verifying ‘information’ spread on social media and critically analyzing the authorship

and biases of information that they receive,” Rohan said. Some students believe that social media is an effective and instantaneous way to spread information, but facts can be easily lost in the whirlwinds of tweets or Instagram posts that cause it to spread in the first place. Bias can be difficult to locate when a reader is not actively looking for it. This issue manifests itself most prevalently in news coverage via social media, where many people are unaware of bias and—as a result—take everything they read as fact. Bias will become increasingly problematic as politics coverage becomes more polarizing, social media begins to intrude further into the realm of journalism, and media corporations continue to use their platforms to proliferate partial information.


FEATURES

www.thenuevacurrent.com

PILOT SANTA CRUZ TRIP LAUNCHES SPRING 2020 FOR SOPHOMORES

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hether it’s reading in a hammock surrounded by the quiet stirrings of the jungle, treading carefully on a rainslicked path to avoid squashing tiny frogs, or knocking down an old lady’s power lines with a tour bus, the Costa Rica trip holds memories for many travelers from the years. Over the past month, stories of varying reliability about changes to the trip have proliferated among the student body. Contrary to popular belief, the trip is not being removed from the tenth-grade curriculum in the near future, and this year’s ninth graders need not worry about missing out on making memories of their own. Instead, the trip is simply gaining another aspect: a parallel camping excursion in the Santa Cruz Mountains that students can opt into. Two years ago, the biology curriculum underwent a drastic redesign, where the course was restructured and made more rigorous. Michaela Danek, 10th Grade Dean and biology teacher, worked on the redesign with her colleagues. “We wanted to maximize student-centered experimentation and go into more depth,” Danek said. “Almost nothing that we used in the previous years was used in the redesigned version, except for some parts of the content.” During the process, the biology team realized

that there were “missed opportunities” relating to the tenth-grade trip. Ever since its establishment in 2014, the biology-centered Costa Rica trip has aimed to give students the opportunity to form relationships with researchers and understand what a scientific career looks like. The old biology curriculum didn’t connect to the trip’s learning objectives. In addition to the changes to course material, the Santa Cruz trip is part of an ongoing process of iteration that will result in more trip-curriculum cohesion. Costa Rica was chosen as the site of the trip because of its biodiversity, said Dean of Student Life Hillary Freeman, but there’s an equally rich environment nearby—just a two-hour drive away. “We do see it as our responsibility, as educators of this wonderful young generation, to show them how to respect and celebrate the natural world that they live in,” Danek said. Just as scouring the beach at midnight for sea turtle nests gives students firsthand experience, so might observing the reproductive cycles of banana slugs in a forest of towering redwoods fulfill the same learning objectives. Though not the primary driving factor behind the expansion of the tenth-grade trip, climate awareness was a consideration. According to Freeman,

DEC. 18, 2019 VOLUME 3, ISSUE 3

MEMORIES FROM COSTA RICA

Tenth-grade biology team aims to diversify trip offerings BY ANISHA K.

page 9

Nueva pays for carbon offset for all of their trips. To compensate for carbon emissions, the school often donates to conservation efforts like the reforestation of the Amazon, but going to Santa Cruz might encourage action on the part of students. “There's a lot of evidence that spending time in your local natural environments is really what influences people's choices around sustainability,” Danek said. While flying 3,000 miles out to Costa Rica and seeing its rich wildlife might move some students to take action, there’s still a disconnect. Seeing the same diversity in their own backyard gives students a personal motive. Danek was thankful for Nueva’s support of the initiative. “The development of this pilot trip exemplifies one of my favorite parts of being a teacher at Nueva,” she said. “I not only get to dream but often I get to put those dreams into reality!” The Santa Cruz trip is being offered as an option to this year’s sophomores. Students on both trips will take part in hands-on field research, discuss with experts in the field, visit local parks, and have plenty of time to bond with other students.

EUGENIA X. ’21 Sitting in the hammocks right outside of our rooms reading poetry while surrounded by the jungle

CEVI B. ’20 Knocking down an old lady’s power lines, getting drenched in warm rain on a roofless boat at night

WHAT NUEVA IS DOING FOR THE ENVIRONMENT Tanja Srebotnjak and Aron Walker on environmental protection goals STORY BY TINA Z. | ILLUSTRATION BY THALIA R.

E BY THE NUMBERS CO2 emissions per student decreased by 4% from 2017–2018 to 2018–2019. Electricity consumption increased by 5% from 2017– 2018 to 2018–2019. 400 of 423 Upper School students have received a Caltrain Go Pass. Our greenhouse gas emissions rate was an estimated 0.4 metric tons of CO2 per person in the 2018–2019 school year.

veryday, Nueva high schoolers walk through a building that was built with the environment in mind. The San Mateo campus is LEED Gold (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified, meaning it was built with the intention of being environmentally friendly, from the construction process minimizing waste to the natural airways reducing air conditioner usage. This is one of the ways Nueva has decided to combat climate change. Tanja Srebotnjak and Aron Walker, the Director and Assistant Director of Environmental Citizenship, are spearheading the new Environmental Citizenship Program. Part of their mission is to reduce Nueva’s environmental impact, including carbon emissions and water usage. Srebotnjak believes Nueva helps the environment by promoting composting and recycling, sourcing power from solar PV, and incorporating environmental education across many parts of the curriculum. Nueva is also a community that Srebotnjak feels is full of people who care about the environment. There are students leading clubs and projects, parents reaching out with ideas or networks, faculty wanting to incorporate environmental education, and more. She does, however, think that food waste is a problem for students. The process of making a meal demands many resources, including land, water, energy, and fertilizers. In addition, food that ends up in landfills can contribute to methane leaks into the atmosphere, where it contributes to climate change. “Food waste itself is also a reflection of

our still dominant linear system of take, make, waste,” Srebotnjak said. “We take resources, turn it into something. If we no longer want it, it ends up in a waste pile. Nature doesn’t operate that way. Nature is cyclical. Food waste is a symptom of us not having fully closed the loop to a circular economy.” She believes students should only take the portions they want and continue to work with Epicurean, the dining service, to better prepare the right amount of food in order to reduce the amount that goes to waste. Srebotnjak and Walker are also working with students to map Nueva’s transportation emissions and include more environmental education in the curriculum. They believe the first step to reducing carbon emissions is to determine the amount and source. “If you have a patient in the hospital who you know is losing blood, you want to figure out where they’re bleeding,” Walker said. “We know things we can do that will decrease carbon emissions, but we’re not sure what other things will make the biggest difference. But if we have data, then we can figure it out.” The end goal for Srebotnjak personally is to reach carbon neutrality or even carbon negativity, where buildings are self-regenerative and can, in their lifespan, give back to nature more than they take. She would also like to achieve zero landfill waste and high water efficiency. Though these goals are not official— meaning they are not goals Nueva has formalized—and can seem far-fetched or overambitious, Srebotnjak believes they could one day be a reality for the school.


page 10 DEC. 18, 2019 VOLUME 3, ISSUE 3

FEATURES ILLUSTRATION BY ALICE G.

HOW AR

ILLUMINATING T BY GRACE H.

CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1

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“Nueva is a place where you get far more diverse answers to the question ‘How are you?’ than my last school. People are more willing [to engage honestly].”

87%

of students felt that they had a strong relationship with at least one adult on campus

—Jamie Biondi, 11th Grade Dean

72%

of students responded "Yes" when asked if they thought adults at Nueva cared for their well-being

DATA TAKEN FROM A SCHOOLWIDE SURVEY SENT IN OCTOBER 2018 TO THE GRADUATING CLASSES OF 2019, 2020, 2021, AND 2022

6.2%

of students responded "Sometimes" or "No" when asked if they think other students care for their well-being

iseducation can su insensitive comm the ways mental h cussed. Even offhand com impacts on those struggl well-being and indicate a community’s views on th health, according to peer “I think there is a cult humor and people makin it’s not malicious, but I t that’s enabling for peopl gling with those things,” to let people think that it ple don’t take [mental ill This lack of perceived to be particularly acute i disorders by Project 80, creates podcasts about th troversial topics. Luke D advisor, believes that anx seen as “being as valid as “Anxiety as a neurolo considered in people’s m The lack of validity at orders may have a partic English teacher and advi that Nueva’s “pace” is “re feeds into increased anxi and faculty alike. “There isn’t time breath and catch up, of spinning-wheel fe itself to a lot of anxie Additionally, the ties offered has both and daunting downs students’ abilities to maintaining their m “The beauty of Nu can go as deep as the and teachers are alw opportunities, but w knowing that [they c something more,” Ad if I’m not taking adv and opportunities I h am I just not workin trying to take care of In addressing the believe it’s necessary impacts of the broad ley and the United S (SOM) teacher Olivi proponent of “bringing i to conversations about m “The epidemics of dep young people are not an struggles do not exist wit ber said. “We need to be conversations at the inte environmental justice.” 12th Grade Dean and Cropper also believes tha idea that Nueva exists in mune to external influen “I think that our men pus is proof that it’s a ve our culture actually does Cropper said. “We’re par think we’re in a bubble. W solutions are culture-dee


THE NUEVA CURRENT VOLUME 3, ISSUE 3

RE YOU?

THE CULTURE AND SYSTEMS OF WELLNESS

1

urface in the form of mentary or inaccuracies in health and illness are dismments may have real ling with their mental a deeper issue with the he seriousness of mental r consultant Ana I. ’21. ture around fatalistic ng jokes about it. I know think it’s something le who are actually strug” Ana said. “It’s enabling t’s normal. I think peolness] seriously.” d significance was found in the case of anxiety a student group that he science behind conDe, the group’s faculty xiety disorders aren’t s other disorders.” ogical problem isn’t even minds,’” De said. ttributed to anxiety discular impact at Nueva. isor Alexa Hart believes eally problematic” as it iety amongst students

in the day to take a deep ,” Hart said. “That kind eel to the place lends ety.” array of opportunih significant benefits sides when it comes to o pursue passions while mental health. ueva is that students ey want into things, ways trying to give kids with that comes kids can] always be doing drienne P. ’22 said. “So vantage of the resources have, I’m wondering: ng hard enough? Or am I f myself?” ese anxieties, many y to analyze and confront der culture of Silicon ValStates. Science of Mind ia Barber is a strong in the world around us” mental health. pression and anxiety in accident; mental health thin a vacuum,” Barhaving mental health ersection of social and

history teacher Brian at we must dispel the n a closed “bubble,” imnces. ntal health crisis on camery porous bubble, that s permeate this place,” rt of this culture, but we We don’t realize that the ep, not just Nueva-deep.”

page 11 DEC. 18, 2019 VOLUME 3, ISSUE 3

50.4% of students responded "Yes" when asked if they were thriving at Nueva

As the impact of cultural forces is recognized, efforts can be made to minimize the pressure that external influences place on students. However, as school counselor Christine Tam has observed, countering significant cultural bias is difficult. “We’re trying to say that seeking help is important and that taking care of your mind is important,” Tam said. “And at the same time, I think it’s an uphill battle because of where we are; we’re fighting a trend. It’s a pretty steep hill that we're trying to climb.” Despite the enormity of the situation, Cropper has hope that the Nueva community can eventually turn the tide. “[Solving the broader cultural issues] is like turning the Titanic—it takes a while and we forget we’re actually quite nimble,” Cropper said. “We are a community of people who care about wellness and care about each other and can make changes.” Cropper also acknowledges that the “bias towards individualism,” which he sees as particularly prevalent in gifted populations, can lead to division and prevent the community from uniting to find solutions to shared problems. Barber, too, believes it is crucial to focus on community-wide solutions and acknowledge the commonalities between individual experiences. “Mental health treatments should not be solely individual,” Barber said. “I think something that often compounds mental health issues, especially for young gifted people, is this feeling that ‘oh gosh, I’m the only person experiencing this and there must be something deeply wrong with me.’” For Hart, depression—with a “dash” of anxiety—is the most common struggle she sees in her student check-ins, mostly spawning from perfectionism and selfdoubt, which she says may be more prevalent in gifted students. Dean of Student Life Hillary Freeman agrees that giftedness can often exacerbate mental health concerns. “I know as a gifted person working with gifted people that we think a lot, and sometimes we can’t turn off our thinking and we go really deep and really dark,” Freeman said. “It’s just a part of us as individuals that we need to work with consistently.” In determining how students are supported, Cropper believes that specifically addressing the link between giftedness and the need for support in the social-emotional realm is crucial. “I’ve had a lot of success from recommending therapy to students and friends, because this gifted thing, by definition, it’s got this component, which means not that you’re flawed but that you need some extra support in this,” Cropper said. Mental health support is available to students at Nueva through a combination of formal systems, such as SOM classes, on-site counselors, and peer consulting, and informal ones, like student-student and student-teacher relationships. The formal system, according to SOM teacher and former school counselor Sean Schochet, can be broken down into two main parts: the “proactive” piece of the system, SOM, which aims to educate all

students about mental health and wellness through once-a-week classes, and the “reactive” aspect, which is the counseling team. The proactive, universal nature of SOM, however, can lead to students struggling with mental illness feeling as though the personal aspects of their experiences are removed from the discussion altogether. “It feels like a lot of the mental health curriculum is geared towards what to do if you hear your friend talking about suicidal ideation,” Jane said. She sees the class as directed towards students without mental health issues, with the goal being to give the student body “herd immunity” as opposed to providing targeted support. Barber acknowledges that this, but also sees the focus on the impersonal, externalized side of mental health struggles as somewhat necessary given the structure and mandatory nature of the class. “It’s a weird dance of how to create more safety, space, and protocol around opportunities to candidly discuss mental health,” said Barber, who believes that effective discussion around mental illness has to start with self-selecting groups due to the importance of buy-in. “You can’t force people to understand or see things through specific perspectives.” In terms of more specific care, there are several avenues through which a student struggling with their mental health may receive support. Counselors are available to speak with students throughout the week—there is at least one counselor on site five days a week during school hours—and are able to provide support on a regular or drop-in basis for a wide array of concerns, from general social or academic stress to acute struggles with anxiety or depression. Nonetheless, some students encounter various roadblocks when it comes to seeking help from the school counseling team. “Sometimes confidentiality is a concern because, even though we’re licensed mental health professionals and there are a lot of protections around confidentiality, we are functioning within the context of the school,” Tam said. “The limits of confidentiality operate differently within the school setting, so I think that can deter someone from seeking counseling at school.” Jane agrees that concern around losing control of one’s information—and decisions—can often prevent students from seeking help from the counseling office. “I think there’s this perception that counseling is not helpful and that the counselors are going to take some power, some autonomy away from me as a student to choose what I want to do, that I won’t get to choose how I present myself to my teachers and my friends,” Jane said. For others, the roadblock is more their own discomfort than concerns around confidentiality or the actions of the counselor after the discussion. “When I’m hesitant to seek those sorts of support, I think that the problem is insecurity around bringing it to a higher role or outside of an intimate setting; it feels like I’m making it something more serious,” peer consultant Aliya G. ’21 said. “If it’s a topic that you feel particularly uncom-

fortable talking about, that can definitely be a setback in terms of seeking help.” Tam sees students struggling with a similar block when it comes to referring their friends to counseling. “I think sometimes the feeling of betrayal is something that people worry about,” she said. “There’s a shame, an idea that seeking help is not acceptable—that it somehow makes them weak.” For those uncomfortable with seeking help from counselors, there are other ways that support can manifest. During weekly wellness meetings, teachers raise and discuss concerns about or celebrate successes of their students. The goal of these meetings is for teachers to work with one another to find patterns in students’ academic or personal performance and then use that information to address the concerns that are mentioned. Meetings conclude with action items, which could be helping the student seek support from the counseling team or planning an advisor check-in. Twice a year, teachers check in to confirm that every student has a strong relationship with at least one faculty member, thereby ensuring that a support system is in place should it become necessary. In addition to providing individualized support, many teachers build mental health awareness into their classes. In the template for Biondi’s Fall Production course, he includes a rubric item about mind-body balance and how students are “maintaining happiness and sanity.” Cropper believes that academic engagement can be beneficial when it comes to helping students who may be facing mental health challenges. “Just the ability to pour yourself into something and find meaningful work and things that engage you…I can’t imagine a better solution for someone suffering from loneliness and isolation and depression,” he said. De, who teaches Neuroscience of Addiction, believes that the classroom is a “crucial” space for building empathy and helping students increase their “comfortability” with discussing controversial, stigmatized topics. “There are a lot of people who suggest that students can’t have that conversation, there’s a lot of fear about pathologizing certain things,” De said. “As long as we teach students how to approach things with curiosity and non-judgment, students should be able to ask any question, no matter how controversial.” Cropper also believes that solutions must start in the classroom. “It’s a place where we can be authentic,” Cropper said. “It’s so artificial that it actually is magical. It’s so ritualistic, so ritualized, so man-made that I think it’s the only place that we can really start addressing these things intersectionally.” *Some students names were changed for confidentiality purposes.


page 12 DEC. 18, 2019 VOLUME 3, ISSUE 3

FEATURES

THE NUEVA CURRENT

THE CURRICULUM: FLEXIBLE OR DISORGANIZED? The benefits and challenges to a curriculum that differs between class sections

NOTE-TAKING AT NUEVA BY ANISHA K.

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ueva has long been recognized for its unique curricula. Teachers steer classes on varied tracks, students weave in new topics, and current events propel discussions. While this has become a key ingredient in the school’s rich learning environment, it has also created curricula that can vary significantly between sections of the same class. Elizabeth Rossini, the school’s first Director of Teaching and Learning who started this fall, is working to improve coherence and identify gaps in curricula. At its core, Rossini described, the curriculum is centered around the expected end-of-year outcomes of individual classes. “The level of coherence will be such that we can be sure the outcomes are clear, but there is still autonomy for teachers to design learning that is engaging and meaningful,” she said. While having the curriculum result in the same competencies is important, it should also allow student and teacher personalization. “We want it to be a partnership,” Rossini explained. Customization has become a hallmark of the school’s distinct teaching system, and a draw for prospective students. “A lot of people are at Nueva because of the teachers and the way they teach,” Hope H. ’22 said. An important part of her decision to attend Nueva was the project-based learning style available through

personalization of curricula. However, some students have identified challenges with Nueva’s curricular approach. “Especially for classes like history, science, and math, I think there is a lot of discontinuity between what the sections are learning,” Anya P. ’22 said. As a freshman in chemistry last year, she noticed the differences between sections, which became a struggle when she entered more advanced science courses this year. “I did not feel prepared at all,” Anya said. “That could be something which really sets a student back and can be very intimidating and overwhelming.” Anya believes that more uniform curricula would lend to easier transitions into advanced classes. Alice E. ’20 shared similar

ILLUSTRATION BY SUSHU XIA

BY ANOUSCHKA B.

beliefs about curriculum divergence. “For a class that is supposed to teach basic knowledge or be a building block for [college] classes, I would prefer to have a more concrete understanding,” Alice said. “It also makes it a bit harder if you ask for help from someone who should be in the same math level and they either haven’t learned the topic or they’re on some completely different lesson plan.” However, other students believe that while the specific content may vary, the final outcomes are shared. “Eventually, the teachers will cover all the topics,” Emma M. ’22 said. “Nueva allows them to do it in whatever way feels best for them.” While Emma prefers to have a “streamlined outlook” in more concept-based classes like math and science, she enjoys the diversity in her humanities classes. “I think that having the space and freedom to [delve deeper] without having to stick to a rigid curriculum is really great to have in humanities,” Emma said, recalling her history class last year when they would dive into week-long tangents. “That is something that Nueva does well.” Additionally, teachers try to have shared assessments. “We try to maintain consistency of the major assignments, but the curriculum itself we each approach slightly differently

depending on our passions and interests as well as those of our students,” said English teacher Jen Neubauer. Different English teams, however, take varying approaches to curricula. The English 10 teachers coordinate individual assignments, class activities, and readings throughout their sections. “It feels like the grade is going through the same experience at the same time,” said English teacher and 11th Grade Dean Jamie Biondi, who believes that a more coherent curriculum is beneficial. Regardless of their specific approach, teachers of the same discipline will eventually cover the same competencies. “Teachers still have the same endgame in mind, but [they’re] going to get there in different ways,” Rossini said. She stresses the importance of “transferable learning skills” in the curriculum. “We want to balance the specific content with making sure that you are developing transferable competencies and skills because that’s what’s really going to live with you,” Rossini said. “It’s the marriage between the two.” Because classes are centered around students, their input is highly valued in sculpting better curricula in coming years. Rossini encourages students to articulate ideas with teachers, the administration, or herself. “There are so many avenues for that, and any one of those are possible,” she said. “I’m an open door.”

It’s finals season, the time of year when almost every student laments their lack of organization. Some people, however, are on top of everything, with immaculate class notes and to-do lists. Perfect penmanship and cute stickers don’t only serve to look nice—students say that journaling and notetaking are important organizational tools. Take a look at these colorful, carefully crafted spreads straight from students’ notebooks.

EMILY L. ’22 “I like to be organized and that definitely applies to my notes. It’s satisfying to look back at them; it makes me feel more productive.” FAVORITE STATIONERY MUJI Pens MOTEMOTE

THE STORY BEHIND BEHOLD THIS COMPOST

New book written by Alex N. ’20 extends the mission of his YouTube channel BY GRACE H.

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lex N. ’20 was alone in the woods. Again. As part of the Mountain School’s three-month-long agricultural and academic program, he had been tasked with surviving three fall days in rural Vermont with nothing but a tent, sleeping bag, food, and, in then-junior Alex’s case, a copy of Looking for Alaska. Surprisingly, of all his experiences at the Mountain School, it wasn’t the expedition into self-sufficiency that had the most lasting impact on him; instead, it was a pile of slowly-decomposing farm debris that inspired him to dive into rabbit hole after rabbit hole, re-emerging with the idea for his 82nd YouTube video since he started recording them in 2014 and the beginnings of his first foray into book publishing: Behold This Compost: How City-Wide Compost Programs Work and Why We Need Them Now, More Than Ever, a narrative about the complicated science of composting and Alex’s experience learning about it. The book’s environmental focus is far from out of character—Alex describes himself as a “big outdoorsman” who has always been fascinated by environmental sustainability and the options for combating climate change such that humans might survive longer than a “hot second” on earth—and neither is the depth of focus on something often overlooked. In the past, the videos he has produced for his YouTube channel Technicality Studios,

which currently boasts 51.1K subscribers, have covered everything from the origins of the word ‘bamboozled’ (it was added to the English lexicon by Quakers in the 18th century) to the illusion of explanatory depth. Nonetheless, Alex found something uniquely satisfying in learning about compost. “It’s gratifying to see this kind of circular motion [in the composting cycle]—we continue to live without knowing how we take from the earth or how we give back to it,” said Alex. “When you look at composting, it seems like we’re living in harmony with the earth as opposed to being this disconnected link in a food chain, and I think there's something really powerful about that—I find that really compelling.” That interest is what led to the book itself, a picture-filled conglomerate of research and personal narrative from Alex’s time digging into the compost. “It’s not just facts and logic—it's my story,” said Alex. “I think that makes it a much more

compelling work of literature than just straight facts; being so emotional you can connect with the narrator on a deeper level. And if you can do that, then the narrative feeling is going to be a lot more powerful.” Constructing a narrative was, for Alex, far easier than he had anticipated. “Really, writing was just me continuing to go down all these rabbit holes,” he said. “I put them in the book and it all came together surprisingly cohesively—it was shocking. I had all these really interesting trains of thought and, miraculously, they all came together to form a cohesive narrative.” The book fits neatly into the purpose he has set out for Technicality. Though producing something physical felt “surreal” to Alex, his goal remained simple and the same. “In the end, [the aim is] just to make other people love learning as much as others have made me love it.” Alex’s book, which is published by standard.tv, is available for $15 at www. beholdthiscompost.com. PHOTO PROVIDED BY ALEX N.

LUCIE L. ’23 “In some classes, I’m the class note-taker, but for the other ones I like to have a consistent aesthetic so that I can reference my notes quickly.” FAVORITE STATIONERY

Sailor Shikiori Brush Pens Pentel EnerGels Tombows

SOPHIA Y. ’22 “I like taking aesthetically pleasing notes because it means that I’m more likely to look at them again.” FAVORITE STATIONERY MUJI Pens


OPINION

www.thenuevacurrent.com

page 13 DEC. 18, 2019 VOLUME 3, ISSUE 3

CHOOSE YOUR OWN (ACADEMIC) ADVENTURE

Course system aligns school values and community interest STORY BY WILLOW C. Y. | ILLUSTRATION BY ALICE G.

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he freedom to choose is a beautiful, precious thing—and awfully uncommon, for the majority of high school students. Traditional high school is often characterized by constriction, restriction, and the unrelenting boredom of unwanted but required classes; college comes as an escape, a place where interests can be delved into and classes hand-picked. But as I scrolled through the seemingly infinite list of 104 available classes, it became clear to me that Nueva’s system bucks the painful stereotype and evokes a giddy feeling similar to a child’s discovery of hundreds of brightly wrapped presents on Christmas morning—so many interesting choices, so little time to take them all. Aside from the abun-

dance, the list also exemplifies Nueva’s core student- and teacher-led mission in a way that feels organic and wanted. Students can control what classes they wish to take and teachers can control, to a degree, what curriculum and topics they wish to teach. That’s the underlying reason I love the elective list so much; it’s the widely loved union between the leadership’s vision of the school and the passion of those who practice it. I’m part of two pilot electives (Social Action Research and Capitalism and the Apocalypse) right now, both classes I’m comfortable claiming exist in few, if any, other high schools in the country—Capitalism maps American history through the lens of economic theory, and SAR seeks to make community change through social science. They’re not only both niche, unique classes, but they’re

FREE FRIDAYS FOR FRESHMEN

SHOULD CREATIVE WRITING ELECTIVES COUNT TOWARDS ART CREDIT?

Why ninth graders should ease into the additional responsibility of open campus BY ELIZA S.

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We need to value and support the art of writing BY VALERIE B.

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wo years ago, as an apprehensive freshman, I was overwhelmed by the choice of electives offered. I was looking forward to completing my art credit in the first two semesters by taking creative writing classes—an opportunity that I expected to fuel my passion for poetry and other forms of written expression. But I quickly discovered that only music, visual arts, and performing arts electives counted towards art credit. I was disappointed and confused as to how I could pursue my passion for the art of writing in an academic setting like Nueva. There is an immense interest in writing among the community, evidenced by publications like the Literary Magazine, clubs such as Creative Writing Critique Club, and programs like the Vermont Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, which students annually attend. But despite student interest, creative writing electives are scarce. Not only should Nueva have more creative writing classes to match the degree of student interest, these classes should count towards one’s art credit. Although we are strong in STEM, our humanities department is also strong and consists of talented teachers who have much to share/teach. Many students are interested in trying creative writing or exploring a

certain genre, but do not have sufficient academic resources or a writing community that can support them. As someone who prefers writing to other forms of art, I love playing with words to paint a vivid scene in someone’s mind. For me, the power of the written word is greater than those of other art forms, as I am able to evoke a range of emotions and transport the reader into various landscapes. Just as other art courses teach valuable lessons such as flexibility, self-expression, and patience, creative writing provides students with those same multidisciplinary skills. As a writer, it’s necessary to learn many techniques to build a solid foundation, but one can also experiment and escape the rules that sometimes confine artists in a box. There is an element for everyone in creative writing, which can span from flash fiction to sonnets, but one will never know unless there is an opportunity to try. I am sure there have been other students who have experienced a similar longing for more creative writing classes, and for them to count as an art credit. Nueva should be more supportive of aspiring writers in the community and understand the value of creative writing as an art.

ILLUSTRATION BY ALYSSA L.

Creative writing shouldn't count as an arts credit BY ELIZABETH B. P.

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oming into the high school, I planned on taking creative writing courses where I could—a local college, through GOA, anything—and finding a community of writers elsewhere. My experience at Nueva had been that of a humanities student in a very STEM-oriented student body at a school with amazing faculty across the board; I’d had amazing writing teachers, but not a big community of writers. I thought I would spend the next four years writing as I’d been writing for the previous three: before or after school, between classes, or late at night. I was wrong. My first semester, I took an amazing creative writing course with Lily Brown that made me want not only classes, but also a strong writing community. The English department is stellar and more creative writing offerings would be spectacular for any student. But I don’t think it should count as an arts credit. This isn’t a pedantic argument about writing being a craft and not an art, because the line between the two is so often blurred. I am a better writer when

also ones that I chose to take and the teachers chose to teach. The choice inherently selects for those who deeply care about the subject; it’s apparent in the raw, enveloping enthusiasm that blankets the classroom as work periods derail into class discussions on consumerism or partisanship in modern politics, and in the care and emotion students feel about their studies. The system allows for this to happen—for teachers to share the specific, perhaps nontraditional topics that are in their area of interest, and if the interest is there, for students to explore those with them. Nueva’s course system represents this intersection; here, in the endless scroll through academic choice, we can achieve both the smooth fulfillment of Nueva values and the freedom to choose, to create, and to lead.

I’m taking at least one class that gets me out of my head. Nueva students are stuck there so often that being able to connect with the world around us in a new, imaginative way—be it musical, visual, or performing art—is essential. As much as I love writing and consider it worthwhile creative work, it doesn’t get you out. It’s easier to do creative writing as an extracurricular than visual or performing arts. Doing the latter in a group setting outside of school necessitates a bigger commitment than joining a writing group or finding a critique partner. I agree that it’s worthy of credit, but I also believe that two semesters of visual or performing arts are a necessary minimum. I understand why an arts credit would be an incentive for students to try creative writing. And creative writing at Nueva has been great so far, since we have an English department that can teach fantastic creative writing classes. Nonetheless, I don’t think the credit should be offered. I do not want students taking creative writing just because they want an arts credit—I think one of the reasons classes have gone well so far is that students who take the classes are genuinely interested—but mostly, I don’t want to draw enrollment away from the other arts.

’ve always been told that with freedom comes responsibility. Since ninth grade is all about learning responsibility, why not balance it out? Freshman year is one of transition: we get shadow grades, higher expectations, and more required classes to help us understand the Nueva curriculum—but we don’t get open campus to teach us about time management and accountability. Since August, we have been told in advisory, in grade-level meetings, and by our parents and siblings that this year is getting us ready for the rest of our educational lives, that the skills and lessons learned throughout high school are important for our future. I understand the claim that freshmen aren’t ready for that type of responsibility, but that’s why I’m proposing that we introduce open campus during lunch on Fridays only. Only allowing open campus on Fridays enhances the ability to monitor and take away the freedom should the privilege be abused. It also allows us to demonstrate our maturity and time-management skills. We should continue the pattern of additional responsibility, let the freshman engage in real-life experiences, and allow us to have more freedom in our new high school life.


page 14 DEC. 18, 2019 VOLUME 3, ISSUE 3

OPINION

THE NUEVA CURRENT

INTERNATIONAL CLIMATE CHANGE NEGOTIATIONS:

WHAT’S HAPPENING? MASTHEAD

The significance of COP25 and the implementation of the Paris Agreement STORY BY TANJA SREBOTNJAK, GUEST WRITER | ILLUSTRATION BY SUSHU XIA

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The opinions expressed in The Nueva Current belong solely to the writers and are not a reflection or representation of the opinions of the school or administrators.

T

he streets of Madrid will soon be clogged more than usual. Hotel rooms will be hard to come by and demonstrations will likely disrupt normal life in the Spanish capital. Why? More than 20,000 delegates will attend two weeks of meetings called COP25. If you’ve never heard of COP25— or any of the COPs 1 through 24—they are the annual Conference of the Parties meetings of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). COP meetings are highly structured and technical events aimed at negotiating and monitoring national greenhouse gas emission reductions. They are accompanied by hundreds of side events showcasing climate action and demands by NGOs and civil society. It was at these gatherings—notoriously bureaucratic and occasionally punctuated by viral displays of grassroots activism— that the Kyoto Protocol was negotiated, which set the first-ever, legally binding emission reductions targets for all ratifying parties (192 countries, territories, and regional organizations). The Kyoto Protocol’s first commitment period ended in 2012 and was extended by the far less ambitious Doha Agreement, which runs until 2020. But as appetite for ambitious and enforceable emission reduction targets plummeted in lockstep with rising atmospheric concentrations of CO2, there was a glimmer of hope when President Obama, in 11th-hour bargaining at COP21 in 2015, helped hammer out the Paris Climate Agreement, which included voluntary Na-

Last winter, about

80% of Americans put up artifical trees. Of all artificial tree owners, 85% use the same tree for

over six years.

The Nueva Current is published six times per school year. 700 print copies are distributed for free to students and faculty members in all three of Nueva's divisions. The Nueva Current is a member of the NSPA and CSPA.

Online Viewing Each issue published in the past is available on our newspaper's website, www.thenuevacurrent.com. Archived PDFs are also available at www.issuu. com/thenuevacurrent.

ILLUSTRATION BY MICHELLE W.

tionally Determined Contributions (NDCs in UN lingo) and, most importantly, pulled China and India into the Accord— two of the world’s 4 largest greenhouse gas emitters. After celebrating the Paris Agreement as a breakthrough for a few weeks, reality kicked back in and the tedious work of developing the agreement’s implementation rules began in subsequent COP meetings. Given the glacial speed of these international negotiations and the rapidly closing window to keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius, why is this upcoming COP25 even worth writing about? First, it is remarkable that it is taking place at all, because Chile, the initial conference host, pulled out in late October in wake of continued civic protests. Graciously and with just a month to go, Spain stepped in to host a spectacle that normally takes a year or two to organize. Second, COP25 is important because delegates hope to finalize the rules of implementation for the Paris Agreement—agreed upon nearly 5 years earlier. Things were going mostly well, until Brazil threw a wrench into negotiations that would normally be handled by lawyers and experts in carbon trading. The new government in Brazil is proposing a solution that could flush the market with credits that do not actually equate to emission reductions. Just days away from the start of COP25 negotiations remain deadlocked. Further impeding progress on implementation are the United State’s withdrawal from the Paris Agreement and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s rejection of his country’s emission reduction commitments. Populist movements

BUY ARTIFICIAL TREES FOR THE HOLIDAY SEASON BY CAMPBELL H.

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s holiday ads become more frustratingly frequent, many Americans have barely finished basting their Thanksgiving turkey before thinking about their Christmas plans. However, in a time with increasing environmental pressures to go green, it can be difficult to know which tree is best for both your family and the planet. Because of its durability, convenience, and positive environmental impact, I urge you to opt for an artificial tree this holiday season. I admit, each tree has both benefits and drawbacks: buying authentic Christmas trees is a great way to support local businesses, but to grow the trees you need dirt, water, pesticides, and fungicides—not to mention the difficulty of environmentally responsible disposal. On the other hand, artificial trees require more materials up front to build, however, they become less costly and more eco-friendly the more years they are used. In 2018, CBS estimated that around 80% of Americans put up artificial trees come holiday time. While the plastic cost of manufacturing the tree is initially high, it becomes more cost-effective and better for the environment. According to the Los Angeles Times, the standard artificial tree requires about the same amount of materials as an upholstered patio chair, but over time, your carbon footprint is reduced depending

and governments in other countries are also balking at making more ambitious pledges and having their greenhouse gas inventories audited by a UN body, the Climate Change Secretariat. Meanwhile, youth activists like Greta Thunberg have captured the attention of people and the media across the world and are hoping to force politicians and negotiators into action by highlighting the perils of climate change and their demand to inherit a livable planet. Thus, as COP25 draws near, let’s think about how we can educate ourselves about international climate change politics and actions we can take to make sure delegates hear our demands to tackle climate change now and forcefully loud and clear. For starters, visit the #WeAreStillIn alliance of sub-national governments and organizations, which will be very active at the forthcoming COP25.

on how you dispose of the real tree. The artificial tree is better for the environment than a tree thrown into landfill after about three years, better than an incinerated tree in around four and a half years, and catches up with the composted tree around six. Assuming you keep this plastic tree for more than six years—which over 85% of artificial tree owners do—the artificial tree has a lesser impact on the environment. This is largely due to organic trees being thrown away incorrectly. That can have even more devastating consequences, especially in a landfill, where the tree decomposes and releases large quantities of methane into the atmosphere, which is 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Because of its benefits to the environment, easy deliverability, and cost-effectiveness over time, since 1992 there has been a near 30% increase in the number of households that use fake trees. As somebody who has owned both real and artificial trees, while I do miss the delicious evergreen scent of a real pine tree, I can vouch that these trees are much harder to set up than their plastic counterparts, and over time, the needles of the authentic tree begin to wilt and fall off, making them a huge pain to clean up as well. The fake tree, on the other hand, is far easier to set up and doesn’t make a mess. And while choosing and chopping your own live Christmas tree from a farm is a fun family experience, it pales in comparison to the ease and convenience of Amazon next-day delivery. At the end of the day, trees make up for less than 1% of the average person’s carbon footprint, so there really isn’t any wrong way to go—but just to be sure: if you buy an artificial tree, keep and reuse it; and if you pick out a real tree, dispose of it the right way by composting it.


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ENTERTAINMENT

CROSSWORD PUZZLE

page 15 DEC. 18, 2019 VOLUME 3, ISSUE 3

Think you got the right answers? Send a photo to us! You are allowed one submission per issue, and will earn an entry into our raffle at the end of the year.

BY WILLOW C. Y.

ACROSS 1. Group of first three finishers in a horse race 9. Ancient Egyptian sun god 10. Turned a bill into a law 12. Glass of radio 14. Tiny 19. Oft confused with "efficiency" 21. Yes in Spanish 22. EW's cardinal partner 23. From which the UK aims to leave 24. Prefix meaning "thrice" (not to be confused with "tri") 27. Mobile 29. Tokugawa (Period) 30. Ego and superego's Freudian sibling 32. ________ victis, Latin for "woe to the conquered" 33. Poster child of peppers 36. Canine members of Westminster Kennel Club, maybe

DOWN 1. Three of these in a school year, maybe 2. Of high moral values 3. Periodic iron 4. Like SP or CH 5. "Can you do the ________?" 6. 90s girl group of "Waterfalls" without Lopez 7. ___&T 8. A released version of something, abbr. 11. Female sheep 13. Hollister's parent retailer, abbr. 15. Blueprint for digital customer interactions, abbr. 16. Region of San Diego or L.A., for instance 17. Research college 75 miles south 18. Avengers: Endgame's "I ________ 3000," abbr. 20. ________ of Three 23. Energy and enthusiasm 25. The color of a heart in Spanish, maybe 26. Where the ________ Things Are 28. The counterpart to multiple Adams? 31. Spiritual philosophy of the Middle Path 34. Fast food company of root beer fame

17 QUESTIONS

WITH A SOPHOMORE SAM R. BIRTHDAY September 11, 2004 ZODIAC Virgo FAVORITE COLOR Orange THEME SONG “Breeze” – Take/Five BEST MEMORY AT NUEVA Making connections from day one FAVORITE NUEVA LUNCH Breakfast

FAVORITE SPOT ON CAMPUS Green couches outside WRC FAVORITE CLASS Science FAVORITE SOUND Lightsaber hum MEMORABLE TEACHER QUOTE “I wouldn’t call this a ‘test’...more of a ‘graded celebration of knowledge.’” FAVORITE SHOE BRAND Adidas

MOST VALUABLE NUEVA EXPERIENCE Being able to do things that I couldn’t have imagined I’d do FAVORITE YOUTUBER The Game Theorists

SINCERE AMIABLE MAVERICK

FAVORITE CANDY Duvalin

CHESS PUZZLE

FAVORITE ICE CREAM FLAVOR Mint Chip FAVORITE CHILDHOOD TOY Angry Birds Plush

Black to play and win. Want to be featured in our next issue? Send us an email at thenuevacurrent@nuevaschool.org.

TOP ONLINE CONTROVERSIES OF 2019

This puzzle is sourced from a game between Daniel H. ’21 and an outside opponent, and is provided by Jake V. ’20 and Daniel.

BY TINA Z.

THE WAR OF BEAUTY YOUTUBERS

PEWDIEPIE VS. T-SERIES

EU COPYRIGHT DIRECTIVE

During summer, Tati Westbrook—a beauty YouTuber and former mentor of James Charles (one of the most subscribed-to beauty gurus)—posted a video exposing Charles for imposing his sexuality on confused or straight men. Jeffree Star called Charles a predator, half the internet unfollowed him, and Charles was “cancelled.” Within a week, he fired back a 40-minute explanation of how Westbrook lied. After a heated back-andforth, Star posted a truce video and the beauty community returned to peace. This online war epitomized naive fans’ opinions flipping back and forth without proof and redefined “cancel culture.”

Starting in 2018, Swedish YouTuber PewDiePie and Indian music company T-Series raced each other to reach 100 million subscribers. Many thought the most subscribed channel being a company also indicated how corporations now controlled YouTube. PewDiePie posted parody diss tracks, the entire process was memed, and the “battle” became an online firestorm of support from everyone on the internet. In April, PewDiePie posted a video urging fans to halt efforts to surpass 100 million due to negativity. In May, T-Series hit 100 million subscribers and PewDiePie followed in August.

Article 13 was a part of the new European Union Copyright Directive that tightened copyright laws in the region. Many companies, including YouTube, suspected the proposal would have astronomical consequences, blocking millions of videos and severely limiting content freedom. Despite the backlash from internet users around the world, Parliament passed the bill (renamed Article 17 at the time of its passing). Though too soon to see how the internet will change, many creators worry their content will be heavily restricted and they will lose their income from lost viewers in the EU.


page 16 DEC. 18, 2019 VOLUME 3, ISSUE 3

ENTERTAINMENT

THE NUEVA CURRENT

MOVIES AND MUSIC THAT MADE 2019 This year’s popular media included up-and-coming artists and long-anticipated films BY ABI W.

MOVIES

LITTLE WOMEN

PARASITE

AVENGERS: ENDGAME

FROZEN 2

JOKER

A beautiful adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s classic novel Little Women, directed by Greta Gerwig and starring Meryl Streep, Emma Watson, and Saoirse Ronan, this moving film explores a woman’s expected role in society, fearlessly making your own way in a world and the importance of family. Expected to hit U.S. theaters on Christmas Day, positive reviews of this film are expected to continue as viewers resonate with Gerwig’s emotional and in-depth storytelling.

This suspenseful but comedic masterpiece by Korean director Bong Joon-Ho, which tackles class divides, was the first South Korean film to win the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival—the first film to do so with a unanimous vote since 2013. Aside from bridging the gap between artistic and commercial films beautifully, Parasite was named one of Time’s top 10 films and has a Rotten Tomatoes score of 99%.

This stunning conclusion to a story arc spanning a decade indulged viewers with spectacular fight scenes balanced with tear-jerking moments, and answers to questions that arose from previous films. Endgame has an incredible score and special effects that contributed to a three-dimensional storytelling experience, which led it to become the highest-grossing film of all time. Smashing box office records previously held by Avatar and Infinity War, this movie is sure to be seen as a glittering gem within the Avenger’s storyline.

The much-anticipated sequel to the smash hit Frozen features beautiful animation that paves way for topics that can be discussed with people of all ages, from declarations of love (using a herd of reindeer) to guilt and grudges. The incorporation of Welsh and Scandinavian culture provides dimension to this fantasy adventure while maintaining enough humor and belting-worthy songs to keep the storyline from dragging.

When Joker premiered in October, its critics were divided: some praised Joaquin Phoenix’s acting, Todd Phillips’s direction, and the score, while others criticized the movie’s stigmatizing portrayal of mental illness and its graphic scenes of violence. However, Joker became the first R-rated movie to surpass one billion dollars in international box offices, perhaps due to the film’s fresh take on the origin story of one of Batman’s most infamous nemeses.

MUSIC

LIL NAS X

This artist rose to popularity this year due to his hit country-rap song “Old Town Road,” which was number one on the Billboard charts for around 17 weeks. Encouraging multiple remixes, including one by rapper RM from boy band BTS, this song’s rise to popularity through TikTok and its creation from many sources represents the changing face of music this year.

Known for her neon hair, baggy clothing, and songs about mental health and topics considered taboo, Billie Eilish was named Billboard’s Woman of the Year among her other accolades from the American Music Awards. Her rejection of an overly sexualized style and embracing of macabre and jarring themes in her music represents a fresh shift in the direction of pop music.

BILLIE EILISH

TAYLOR SWIFT This year, Taylor Swift was named one of Time’s 100 most influential people in the world (after her 2010 and 2015 appearances in the magazine), ranked first in Forbes Celebrity 100 again, and was named number eight on Billboard’s Greatest of All Time, the highest place for any artist of the 2000s. Her 2019 album Lover debuted at number 1 on the Billboard Top 200—her sixth consecutive album to do so—and set a record for the most simultaneous chart entries for a female artist.

BTS

The frontrunners of the global K-pop scene, BTS was named one of Time’s 100 most influential people of 2019 and became Spotify’s first Asian act to surpass 5 billion streams. Their performances on “Saturday Night Live,” “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” “Good Morning America,” “The Voice,” and the semi-finals of “Britain’s Got Talent” speak of their worldwide success. In addition, a game, plush toys, and a webtoon were produced for the band’s fanbase ARMY.


SPORTS

www.thenuevacurrent.com

page 17 DEC. 18, 2019 VOLUME 3, ISSUE 3

BOYS SOCCER PROGRAM TO FOCUS ON DEVELOPMENT OVER WINS BY SERENA S.

GROWING TEAM Aleeha B. ’20 and Anna C. ’21 attempt to steal the ball from a Castilleja player. PHOTO BY ROBERT LOPEZ

GIRLS SOCCER IS GROWING, BUT FIELD SPACE ISN’T BY ELIZA S.

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ow in its third year, the girls soccer program continues to expand, but the field space limits their ability to practice. Starting with Sanam Yusuf ’19, Aleeha B. ’20, and Sophia Yang ’19 playing on the boys soccer team to going undefeated during their pilot season the following year, the soccer program now has 26 girls on the roster this season, and it’s clear that there’s strong interest among Upper School students to play the sport. With the expansion, however, comes a logistical need for playing and practice space. The question is where? Currently, the girls team either practices on the West Courtyard turf, Bay Meadows Park next door, Los Prados Park, or the Upper Field at the Hillsborough campus. To get to the Hillsborough campus and Los Prados Park—where they practice an average of three out of five days—they have to take a bus. Taking a bus shouldn’t be that big a deal, but when the sun sets at around 5 p.m. and the players get to the field at around four, having to commute in Bay Area traffic to their playing field limits the amount of practice time available. “The sun sets so early that we are cut

PHOTO BY ROBERT LOPEZ

Because of the month-long preseason, the team has earned many opportunities to become closer and bond with each other. “The team’s energy is really nice, and there is no perceivable age-gap between players,” Rowan said. This current core group of players is working to grow stronger as one unit. “Everyone is trying to improve together, and it creates a wonderful environment,” said Huxley M. ’23. The first non-league game was Dec. 4 against Priory, where the team lost 2-5. They also played against ACE Charter on Dec. 10, and lost 0-6. Although it was a hard defeat, the game was a great chance for the players to demonstrate success under game-time pressure and apply what the team had been learning and working on in training. “We have an extremely young and talented team which creates a lot of room for growth which will be very exciting to see in the next couple of seasons,” Ayaan said. Their next home game is on Jan. 8 against Design Tech.

BRINGING ENERGY TO THE FIELD | Luke M. ’21, one of five juniors on the team, passes the ball across the field in an attempt to score a goal against Priory. PHOTO BY JOSH LEVENBERG

GIRLS BASKETBALL SHOOTS FOR CCS WIN

VARSITY BOYS BASKETBALL TURNS ENERGY INTO PLAYS

BY WILLOW C. Y.

BY CAMPBELL H.

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SHOOTING FOR PLAYOFFS Team captain Alice E. ’20 hopes to reach the second round of CCS playoffs after three years of losses in the first round.

off by daylight, and we don’t get enough hours playing to become competitive at the level we hope to be,” Stephanie S. ’20 said, “We end up relying on players who just practice a lot outside of school.” Additionally, the girls have to switch off using the various practice spaces with the boys team, further complicating the logistics. Still, the soccer team is excited to play and get better this season. “Everybody is really welcoming to freshman. The coach Daniel is super great, and I feel very prepared for all of the games,” said Kayla H. ’23. “I think it’s really fun, everyone is really encouraging, everyone is helping each other, and it’s a nice environment,” Mia T. ’23 said. The team lost their season opener 4-0 on Dec. 3 against Priory, won their second game 3-1 against Pinewood on Dec. 5, and lost their third game 2-4 against Castilleja on Dec. 10. Their next game is a home game on Jan. 6 against Mercy Burlingame.

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Last year, the boys soccer team had a magical season, placing third in their league and developing strong connections with each other. With coaching from Josh Davis, who has assisted boys soccer at Nueva for three years, the team is looking to continue their run. As of Dec. 16, they have competed in two matches and are excited to keep improving. “The team this season is young, hopeful, and energetic,” said Davis. “We are in the process of discovering who we are and will be, as well as finding out what the character and spirit this season will be.” With nine seniors graduating last year, the team is not the same as it used to be, but with the addition of four new freshmen, they are eager to show what they are capable of. “I hope that the same spirit will be carried on from the past season and so far it has been amazing to play with and get to know better the newer students,” said Ayaan B. ’22. “We are not as strong physically as we were, we are younger, but we have some talent and will be setting ourselves up for the next several years as we develop our young players and mature physically and mentally,” said Davis. Davis is pleased with the current development of the team and is hoping the new players will learn and take inspiration from the returning players. The team is carrying on from a foundation laid by the previous teams, but they are finding our own identity as well. During practice, four alumni players came to attend and support the team, sharing stories and tips for the season ahead. Many freshmen are especially inspired by the past players and hope they can follow in their footsteps. “The energy and skill they brought was truly inspiring,” said Rowan T. ’23.

or the last three seasons, the varsity girls basketball team has made it to the first round of CCS—and for those last three seasons, the team has never won a CCS game. This year, however, they’re determined to change that. The 14-person team, who started their season in late November and have a losing overall record of 0-5 in non-league games, are led by co-captains Alice E. ’20, Maya M. ’20, and Tara S. ’21 and are coached by Mike Green. The four have been with varsity for multiple years now and view winning a CCS match as both a personal and a team goal. “It would be a concrete form of growth to win a CCS game,” said Alice, who has played varsity since her freshman year and notes that it’s one of her goals as a senior. While they lost their first non-league game, she’s optimistic about their chances this year, despite the three co-captains being the only upperclassmen on the team. “This team’s build-up is definitely stronger than the last two years,” Alice said. “Our freshmen this year are really helping the team out.” Tara agreed, saying that she had “higher expectations” than for the previous year. “We have a lot of skilled

players,” Tara said. “[We’re] learning to work as a team and incorporating the freshmen and new people.” The path to victory, however, will not be without its obstacles. Having 14 players is the main challenge for the captains and coach, as it’s the biggest team they’ve seen so far. The players’ skill sets also vary widely from seasoned players to “swing” players, who also play on a more informal JV team, raising concerns about playing time, among other potential bumps. The team also has Summit Shasta’s and Pacific Bay’s teams to look out for; the two schools have consistently defeated Nueva in years past. Green, however, remains optimistic. “The freshmen and sophomores are real talented,” he said. “If we throw that in with the upperclassmen that we have, we’re going to be more competitive than we have been in the past.” Outside of their five practices a week, the team is also facing larger and more experienced schools in non-league play in an effort by Green and Director of Athletics Chris Wade to expose the players to higher-level play. “That way when we hit league, nothing’s going to scare us,” Green explained. “We’re not going to be afraid or anything. We’ll be ready for the year.”

T

he boys basketball team is poised to continue the season strong. After starting out with a rough 0-2 record with a 35-point loss to Priory and and a narrow six-point loss against Crystal Springs, the Mavericks defeated Oceana in a victory of 20 points, followed by a sixpoint victory against Oakwood. The varsity team started in 2015 and joined the PSAL the following year, and is currently coached by history teacher Barry Treseler, who has coached the team for four years. Since its establishment, the team has had a league record of 35-5 and an overall record of 66-25. This year, the team of 10 upperclassmen and four sophomores is looking forward to a season of success and excitement. “Although we would like to match last year’s success in the playoffs, we don’t measure ourselves by a number or where we finish, but how far we have improved individually and as a team,” said Treseler. Josh F. ’20, a wing and post player, said that his favorite part of playing for Nueva basketball is the intensity they bring to each game. “It’s fun to see the team work really hard in-game, crashing the boards, diving for balls, and trying to get steals, something you don’t necessarily see in the average pickup game,” Josh said. They brought that energy to the 68-48 blowout against Oceana. “We feed off each other’s energy,” Josh said. “When we got steals, we all got really excited, and turned all of that energy on defense into offensive plays.” A new member of the varsity squad, Amit S. ’20, also mentioned the energy and intensity the game brings along with the skill jump between JV and varsity. “It was just a few weeks ago I was in my

first varsity game and the pace it goes at is way different than JV,” Amit said. “You have to be ready at every moment of the game.” Starting shooting guard and team captain Jeremy D. ’20 said the best part of being on the team is playing with friends and developing team chemistry. He also shared that one of the most important things he’s learned is what he calls the “third hour.” “After a loss, you have a right to be upset for an hour, maybe two, but once the third hour comes, you have to be ready to move on and look forward,” Jeremy said. “You stop looking at where you went wrong and start looking at where you can go right the next time.” Practice is also crucial to the team’s development and has been encouraged through the “1% better” mantra. “It only takes 35 minutes to improve on a skill, whether it’s ball handling or shooting,” said Jeremy, a four-year varsity veteran. “The basis of ‘1% better’ is that as long as you’re getting just a little bit better every single day, you’re winning.”

TURNING ENERGY INTO PLAYS | Amit S. ’20, who played on the JV team last year and joined the varsity roster this season, goes for a layup in a game against Oceana. PHOTO BY ROBERT LOPEZ


page 18 DEC. 18, 2019 VOLUME 3, ISSUE 3

SPORTS

THE NUEVA CURRENT

NEW UPPER SCHOOL DANCE TEAM FORMED Passionate students connect to bring dance to the community BY MIRA D.

A

s the bass of G-Eazy’s “West Coast” thumps through the gym, the dancers fall into synchronization. Graceful, flowing moves explode into a sequence of breaking, popping, and locking, bursting with energy. The dancers embrace a remix that includes “West Coast” and “Chopstix” by ScHoolboy Q among other songs. Formed in October, this is Nueva’s first dance team. Created by Malaika M. ’22, Priita P. ’22, Elena R. ’22, and Amanda W. ’21, the team hopes to provide dance opportunities for Upper School students. They aim to start performing in 2020, including at basketball and spirit games, admissions events, and hopefully a dance showcase at the end of the school year. Malaika, a passionate hip-hop dancer who transferred to Nueva this year, worked with PreK12 Director of Athletics Chris Wade to start the team. She has been dancing competitively with HeartBeat Dance Academy since 2016 and was a member of her previous school’s dance team. “Dance is such an important part of my life and has helped me through my hard times,” Malaika said. “When I’m struggling it is much easier to express myself without words, and [dance] is a good distraction from whatever is going on.” Elena, who has been dancing

outside of school for six years, enjoys dance for similar reasons. “I love dance because it’s such a beautiful art form,” Elena said. “It’s physically challenging and precise while also being such a raw form of self-expression. There’s an emphasis on fluidity and freedom while also featuring strong hits and small precise moments like hip-hop which make it emotional and melodic,” Elena said. The team aims to cover a range of styles in their dances, but mostly focus on hip-hop and

before editing to shorten the song. Then the co-leads go through the music section by section, and brainstorm ideas to build the dance. “I try to use moves from previous dances I have learned and incorporate new aspects that others suggest,” Malaika said. “The first hip-hop dance we did took hours to choreograph even though it is a two-and-a-halfminute dance.”

contemporary, which are the styles most of the members know better. So far, they have created one routine and are in the process of creating another, both featuring 12 dancers. Malaika and Elena usually start choreographing the routines by looking for music with a fun beat,

Amanda loves choreographing the dances due to the combination of teamwork and individuality it allows. “You have to take the moves and make them your own by adding your own quirks and personality, while staying true to the original dance,” Amanda said. “But you have to work with the team to generate moves and make sure you are matching and mirroring the other members.” Amanda is a highly experienced contemporary, jazz, and modern dancer. For Amanda, dancing is an “outlet of expression” and a source of escapism. “There are few things that I do where time truly flies by, but when I’m dancing, time passes in a blink of an eye,” Amanda said. There is a wide range of experience on the

team, from beginning to advanced dancers. There are 12 committed dancers in the club across all four grades, with sophomores being the majority. Despite the differences in both dance and grade levels, the dance team has established a good flow and collaborate in harmony, utilizing their separate styles as strengths. Malaika, Elena, Priita, and Amanda all aspire for the dance team to eventually become an integral part of the Nueva sports program and spirit efforts. Their team has already come a long way within the past three weeks, and can hopefully provide a gateway for dance at Nueva in the future.

PHOTO BY WILLOW C. Y.

WEIGHT ROOM PROVIDES AN EXTRA SPACE FOR EXERCISING The 3-year-old room allows for stress-free workouts and preparations for sports seasons through clubs and after-school sessions BY ISABEL C.

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pile of glossy yoga balls squish between ceiling support beams, matte black dumbells rest on their racks, and colorful wheels of weights wait on metal bars around the room. Cycling his exercises between squats, bench presses, and deadlifts, Jake V. ’20 moves through the cluttered space with practiced ease. “I’m in the offseason,” Jake said. “So I’m putting the work in.” For student-athletes like Jake, the weight room provides access to students looking to improve outside their sports season. Started in the 2016-17 school year by alum Varun Mehta ’17 and previous Athletics Director Amrit Chima, the weight room was created to provide more space for conditioning-based work. Yet the image of an elevator maintenance closet probably isn’t what comes to mind when imagining a room to lift weights and actively exercise in. The equipment is arranged like a metallic jigsaw puzzle with just enough room to make use of the tools and not encroach upon someone else’s area; the space is far from ideal for its purpose. Because of the location, Jake works on deadlifts outside to avoid triggering the elevator’s nearby earthquake monitor. In such a small space, following the safety rules posted inside the room is essential. Students are required to sign in, to have a faculty member as a supervisor whenever they work out, and to follow a dress code. Athletics Director Chris Wade emphasized that these rules are to keep students as safe as possible.

PHOTO BY ISABEL C.

“The second you think that you’re unbreakable in there, something can happen,” Wade said. “It’s not like we’re going to have serious injuries all the time, but it will actually happen if we’re not following these protocols.” Students aren’t the only ones using the weight room. Wade says teachers occasionally use the equipment when they have time, like SOM teacher Sean Schochet, who runs a weightlifting club during lunch on Tuesdays and Fridays. Schochet began the club last year as a way for students and teachers to exercise in a safe environment and destress. “The club is one of those that you come when you want,” Schochet said. “We call it a club, but it’s more like an open house.” Schochet, who weight-lifted in high school himself, found that the activity helps him reset. “Personally, weightlifting has helped me manage stress,” Schochet said. “I know that just 30 minutes in the weight room can change a person’s day. It helps your self-esteem.” While students have to have a release and liability form signed before joining the club, the atmosphere is light and supportive. Schochet often plays ’90s music from his high school days with bands like Nirvana, Blink 182, and Smashing Pumpkins to keep the atmosphere cheery. Nikhil T. ’21 and Jake also find that music helps with their workouts. Nikhil listens to bands like Train or other “music that makes [him] smile,” while Jake enjoys “hype music, otherwise known as bangers,” such as songs from Jimmy B and Young Nut. Yet music remains only a small part of the process, as both Nikhil and Jake aim to

have their time in the weight room pay off when track and field starts in the spring. “I wanted to get stronger and faster and more explosive,” said Nikhil. “I thought using the weight room would be beneficial for that.” While workouts are painful, the thoughts of results in the future are what drives both students. Jake’s workouts make him “feel a lot better mentally and physically” and Nikhil’s push him to do more. “I feel great,” Nikhil said. “I really like getting sore because it means that I really pushed myself and I’ll start seeing some paybacks in the future.” The establishment of the weight room has had some challenges, however. Wade mentioned that although getting students to sign in on the log has been a challenge, working the weight room into the school sports schedule has been harder because seasons are so long. “Finding that right rhythm of the season and what that looks like exactly has been our goal with coaches,” Wade said. Schochet hopes the weight room expands to increase participation both in lifting and athletics. “It’s not at all an ideal space,” Schochet said. “Any high school that’s serious about athletics would usually have a bigger space for facilities.” Yet the benefits of showing up and exercising outweigh the spatial drawbacks to Schochet. “To me, as long as one person comes, it will make a difference in one person’s life,” Schochet said. “[The weight room] could grow and that would be great, but even if it doesn’t, I think it’s successful.”


SPORTS

www.thenuevacurrent.com

THE PRESSBOX

OFFICIATING THE FUTURE How major sports leagues can fix officiating STORY BY MIRIELLE W. | GRAPHICS COURTESY OF NFL

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urn on ESPN or CBS Sports any given evening and it’s a common sight: a group of officials, clad in the zebra stripes of the NFL’s referees or the gray-and-black uniform of the NBA’s, clustered around a small video screen. The broadcast cuts to a frameby-frame video of the ball handler running into a defender stationed beneath the basket, or a wide receiver and defensive back running in lockstep down the sideline. It pauses, zooms in on a shot of the defender’s feet or the defensive back’s hand. “I can’t see how this can’t be reversed—that’s as close to ‘clear and obvious’ as you can get,” the color commentator or rules analyst says as the screen cuts back to the official. The call stands. This is officiating in professional sports. Today, in the era where franchises are billion-dollar businesses and the average coaching/managing tenure across the NFL, NBA, MLB, and NHL is a paltry 3.4 years, leagues should be spending far more time and money on technology and strategies to improve officiating and holding officials accountable. Nearly every other part of sports has been revolutionized in the past 20 years, and it makes no sense that leagues’ ways of ensuring the integrity of the game hasn’t as well. It should be noted that MLB has taken the first steps toward having nearly completely automated officiating. Robot umpires backed up by human umpires were introduced in the Atlantic League in partnership with the MLB this year, and although the robot umpires were not yet 100% accurate (there were some obvious balls registered as strikes and vice versa), bringing these robot umpires onto the

field in whatever capacity is a huge step forward for technology use in officiating. The professional leagues should continue to support and scout systems such as robot umpires, which, if trained correctly, can remove human bias from officiating in the cleanest, most permanent way. But before completely robotic officiating systems are viable, shouldn’t officials be treated the same way as players and coaches? Even at sports’ highest levels, officials are often only part-time; employing officials full-time would allow them more time to study whichever sport they officiate and increase their ability to get calls right in critical situations like an NFC championship game. On the flip side, officials need to be held accountable when incorrect calls clearly affect the outcome of a game. The most well-known example of this is, of course, the egregious missed pass interference call in the 2019 Saints-Rams NFC Championship Game, but this is only the latest in a long heritage of missed officiating calls—Armando Galarraga's near-perfect game, Dwayne Wade's insane 97 free throws in six games of the 2006 NBA Finals, Charlie White's fumble in the endzone. This seems to be happening very gradually—the Pac-12 suspended the head official of the crew who officiated a Cal-Washington State game on Nov. 10 after ascertaining that a “breakdown in officiating mechanics and communication” occurred—and yet has not yet been discussed in pro sports leagues. Regardless of rooting interest, fairness is a tenet of sports. It’s impossible to remove partisan arguments over officiating from the game, but at least this sports fan would love to see a game where officials reach an understandable conclusion on a disputed penalty, where calls make sense and are consistent across games and teams.

MULTI-SPORT ATHLETE

Eleanor M. ’21 ran cross-country and led a tennis team BY ISABEL C.

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uggling a school sport with course work during high school is hard enough, but two in one season? Eleanor M. ’21 did just that, running with varsity crosscountry to CIF championships and helping to lead the inaugural season of girls tennis to a 5-2 record.

WHAT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF ACCOMPLISHING THIS SEASON? I’m proud of being one of the founding members and leaders on the girls tennis team because there were only two upperclassmen [of ten players], so it was really nice to be able to step into that role and help be a part of creating a team culture.

HOW DID YOU BALANCE SCHOOL AND SPORTS? Definitely a lot of time management and a lot of time spent working on weekends. It definitely took a lot of time for me to have practice every day of the week and then some days I would go to tennis practice and run afterward. That made it tricky for homework.

WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO JOIN BOTH CROSS-COUNTRY AND TENNIS? WOULD YOU DO IT AGAIN NEXT YEAR? I have always loved tennis; I was a competitive tennis player in tournaments but I stopped playing tennis in high school because I wanted to be involved in school sports and I wanted to run as my main sport. Because Nueva didn’t have a girls tennis team, running in the fall season was my only choice. I was happy with that, but I didn’t know what sport I would choose if I was presented with the opportunity to play both. I would do it again next year. It was a great experience and I love tennis.

DEC. 18, 2019 VOLUME 3, ISSUE 3

FALL SPORTS RECAP BY AMANDA W. & ISABEL C.

VOLLEYBALL The volleyball team has made history once again. The talented players and endless support propelled them to both the Division V CCS and NorCal CIF finals, both against Mt. Madonna. “We had good momentum going into the first Mt. Madonna game as we had just beaten two tough teams to get to CCS finals,” said team captain Paige M. ’21. “Last year Mt. Madonna took us out in the quarterfinals.” The team lost to Mt. Madonna, becoming the runner-up in CCS and CIF. In the CCS finals at Palo Alto High School, they played a close game against Mt. Madonna, ultimately losing in a “disheartening” fifth set by two points. “After the loss, we knew we would probably play them again at the end of states, which was a bit frustrating,” said Paige. “I knew it would come down to our mental game in the end since we had lost in two dramatic and close tiebreakers before.” Following the loss, the girls hosted three rounds of the CIF tournament, defeating East Nicolaus, Convent & Stuart Hall, and Colusa to advance to the finals against Mt. Madonna in Watsonville. Unfortunately, the team—one of twenty teams in California still playing— lost in four sets to Mt. Madonna. “Since this team started practice way back in August, they have given nothing but their best, leading by example, making our community proud, and enhancing the Nueva spirit community-wide,” said Chris Wade, the Director of Athletics. The team finished with an overall record of 25-9 and as a PSAL champion, CCS runnerup, and NorCal CIF finalist. “I’m proud of how our season turned out— this is the furthest the program has gotten, and making it to state regional finals was a huge deal for us,” said Paige.

CROSS-COUNTRY The Nueva runners have proved their strength year after year. For the fourth consecutive year, both the girls and boys varsity cross-country teams have captured the PSAL championship. Led by coaches Robert Lopez and Samantha Huff, the girls team scored a perfect 15—the five fastest Nueva runners placing top five—and the boys team scored a strong 23 points with less than a 35-second spread among all seven runners. Twelve of the Nueva runners earned All-PSAL honors, with ten on the first team and two on the second. “It felt like a satisfying accomplishment for the team,” said runner Eleanor M. ’21. “It was a culmination of a successful season.” The PSAL win propelled the team into the CCS championship that took place on the Crystal Springs Cross Country Course on Nov. 16, where the girls team placed third, offering them a team bid to the CIF state championships. The boys team placed fourth, and just missed a team bid to states, but runners Chris M. ’20 and Dylan T. ’20 qualified to race at Woodward Park in Fresno. “This is my first year on the cross-country team, but all the girls and coaches supported me through the process,” Sophia Y. ’22 said. “Knowing that I had my crew of girls around me was all I needed to push through the CIF race—it was hard, but definitely a memory I will forever cherish.”

TENNIS

FAVORITE FUN TRADITION BEFORE RACES OR GAMES? Before races as a team we would always warm up together and kind of laugh and joke and kind of relieve some pressure as well as just getting ready for the race. Before games, we would always do drills together and similarly just kind of laugh and have fun before the actual competition.

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PHOTO BY LIANN YIM

The inaugural season of girls tennis ended with a final record of 5-2, with both losses to Crystal Springs Uplands School. Coached by Coltrane Hunt and Jennifer Perry, the team of 10 players practiced throughout the season despite not being in an official league. “The first tennis team was very successful,” said Mira D. ’22. “The girls had never played together before and a lot of girls had no experience and we were able to overcome those challenges and win almost all our matches.”


page 20 DEC. 18, 2019 VOLUME 3, ISSUE 3

SPORTS

Students at Nueva have three choices for P.E. credit

THE NUEVA CURRENT

BALANCING MIND AND MOVEMENT

P.E. program maximizes students’ academic choices BY AMANDA W.

O OUTSIDE ACTIVITY

INTERSCHOLASTIC SPORT

AFTERSCHOOL P.E. CLASSES

ne of the hallmarks of a Nueva education is the freedom students have to choose from an endless list of courses to fill their two—sometimes three—elective slots. However, this comes at a cost: students are able to have these choices because of the lack of a P.E. course that is often required at other schools. “When the school’s curriculum was built out, we really wanted to prioritize all the awesome academic offerings, and you have eight classes a semester and a lot of students take advantage of that,” said Director of Athletics Chris Wade. The existing program gives students three options that must be fulfilled every year of high school: participate in an interscholastic sport, enroll in an afterschool P.E. course (offered by the school), or engage in some form of other physical activity under the supervision and direction of a professional or coach. About 55% of students fulfill their requirements through school athletics, and the other 45% fulfill it through the P.E. classes and outside activity. According to Wade, in the early stages of building the Upper School division, the school was not quite sure what athletics or physical education would even look like. Instead, the focus was on the I-Labs, design thinking, the arts, and all the niche courses that sets the school apart. However, the athletics team acknowledged students’ need to move, and used this idea in their quest to build the P.E. program. “We’ve learned and seen really strong benefits of students mixing in some movement with their day,” Wade said. “We took some cornerstones and ideas from other schools around us, like University High School in San Francisco,

maybe even Urban School and other schools across the world, to see how we could support that kind of interest within the day.” The athletics team then implemented these ideas with some modifications due to the partnerships the school has with the city of San Mateo. The P.E. system was built to best support students’ needs and goals in the space they were given. Physical education is extremely important, especially in high school. These four years are some of the most important in directing students’ futures, as they start to develop life skills. This is the prime moment to help them cultivate healthy habits, especially in physical activity and education. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, physical activity has many brain health benefits, improves cognition, and can reduce symptoms of depression. It can also prevent obesity and other risk factors, such as elevated insulin, blood lipids, and blood pressure. It will overall set the student to remain healthy as an adult. One concern that may arise is how the P.E. program may meet the national and state standards. In California, every high school student must be enrolled in two years of physical education. On the national level, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends students to engage in physical activity for at least 60 minutes a day, and SHAPE America recommends at least 225 minutes a week. Many of the student athletes exceed this, with almost two hours a day, five days a week. “Soccer is a sport where you’re running constantly. In just one game, you’re going to be running several miles, so it’s very physically challenging,” said Emma L. ’21, center defender for the girls team.

GRAPHICS BY PIKISUPERSTAR AND FREEPIK

UNOFFICIAL SPIRIT SQUAD CHEERS ON FELLOW ATHLETES

PHOTO BY JOY FENG

Boys volleyball team supports from the bleachers BY ANOUSCHKA B.

E

ver since last fall, the boys volleyball team has passionately supported their fellow sports teams. They have continuously attended girls volleyball games, encouraging their peers with chants, cheers, and props. Learn more about the team’s enthusiastic spirit through a Q&A with Jeremy D. ’20, Noah T. ’20, Jason H. ’20, and Deshan D. ’23!

HOW DO YOU THINK YOUR SUPPORT PLAYS INTO SPIRIT AT NUEVA? DESHAN: It shows that Nueva is both academic and, at the same time, very enthusiastic about their sports, competitive, and can work as a team.

AS A SENIOR, IS THERE A LEGACY YOU HOPE TO LEAVE BEHIND? JEREMY: Part of making the team was that we could have it forever. I know most of the team is composed of seniors, but this year we have a lot of younger students on the team.

WHAT ARE SOME WAYS YOU CHEER? JEREMY: At the Crystal Springs game, the CCS semifinal match, we would jump up and down after every point. NOAH: Our goal was to create an environment that would help the Nueva team and show that they’re supported, but also to kind of scare the opposing team so that they would perform less than ideal. We wanted to respectfully create a presence in the arena. JASON: We went to Watsonville to watch their NorCal final against Mt. Madonna. We all brought cheer poms, I brought a Maverick mask, my mom got the crowd to do the wave, so just being engaged in the game and making it a cool thing that people wanted to come to was a fun way to support.

WHY IS HAVING SPIRIT IMPORTANT? JEREMY: For me as a basketball player, a lot of being part of the athletic community is that we go to the girls volleyball games to support them and they’ll support us back.

WHAT'S IT LIKE BEING A FRESHMAN ON THE VOLLEYBALL TEAM? DESHAN: I think everyone is a part of it—even the freshmen get into the spirit of the team. The seniors lead that on because they developed the spirit over their time at Nueva, and their support and enthusiasm almost becomes the enthusiasm of the freshmen.

WHAT IS THE BEST PART ABOUT SCHOOL SPIRIT? NOAH: School spirit allows us to embody the Nueva community in a different way. A lot of the time, we use classes to express our pride in Nueva, but being spirited allows us to have an outward demonstration of why we’re so proud to be Mavericks.

“It’s also very technical on the ball. So you’re tired, but you can’t let that affect how you handle the ball.” However, Wade and the athletics team acknowledges that with the freedom of outside activity, there are a few students who can “slip through the cracks,” as Wade put it. “If there are students who try to do the least they can, they probably are not coming close,” Wade said. “Some of that comes with students’ experiences and activity. Some students are more prone to do a little more and want to be engaged and some can be really intimidated by trying a new sport.” Because the Upper School is still a young school, there are plenty of opportunities for the P.E. program to grow and to encourage these students to try a new sport and take the initiative to lead a healthier life. Mallory Celaya, the student athletic trainer, sees numerous ways in which nutrition, physical activity, and health education can be incorporated into the students’ school life. She sees value in classes that would teach students about their bodies and how to best take care of them. “If you applied the way [Nueva] teach[es] academics to how they teach you about your body, it could blow everyone out of the water,” Celaya said. Wade also sees the benefit to this: he thinks that if students were educated on their health and wellness, whether it be through a class or lecture, they could use themselves as “test subjects” to see what may work best for them. The athletics team hopes that students can develop healthy habits and regular schedules of physical activity to benefit the students’ academic performances.

Profile for The Nueva Current

The Nueva Current | December 2019  

Volume 3, Issue 3. Inside this issue: faculty's Spotify Unwrapped reveals, opinions on whether creative writing should receive arts credit,...

The Nueva Current | December 2019  

Volume 3, Issue 3. Inside this issue: faculty's Spotify Unwrapped reveals, opinions on whether creative writing should receive arts credit,...

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