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the newspaper of Palos Verdes Peninsula High School 27118 Silver Spur Road, Rolling Hills Estates, CA 90274

Federal standards alter district focus

www.pvphsnews.com

Vol. XXXIII Issue 6 5 Apr. 2013

All schools are equal, but some sCHOOLS are

more equal than othERS

By VALERIA PARK PEN NEWS WRITER

CHRISTOPHER MICHEL/THE PEN

The federal government decided to implement a new set of standardized testing starting in 2014. “The Superintendent for Public Education has suggested that the STAR tests be suspended until the new tests based on the Common Core are begun in 2014,” Chief Academic Officer Martin Griffin said. “The legislature has not yet acted on that recommendation.” The Common Core exam will replace the annual STAR test and will be staggered on a quarterly basis based on the subject. “We are developing a society of test takers, which in my opinion, is not what education should be about,” Principal Mitzi Cress said. “We want kids that can go deeper and look beyond the letter grade.”

“The new tests will include performance assessments and require more critical thinking and problem solving.” - Chief Academic Officer Martin Griffin Compared to the STAR test, the Common Core curriculum focuses on analyzing and places an emphasis on reading. “The new tests will include performance assessments and require more critical thinking and problem solving,” Griffin said. “They will require more writing and text-based explanations.” Disparities among states in their annual standards tests resulted in the hope that the Core would put every state on the same page. The Common Core tests, developed by Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, are expected to be computergenerated in order to get instant feedback. In addition, teachers hope to benefit from the narrowed focus of the Core exams and better organize their curriculum throughout the school year.

Lights! Camera! Action! Scam? Pen’s future stars learn the hard way

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Jerry Brown’s new school funding proposal would allocate money to different school districts based on criterion for perceived need, leaving well performing schools like Peninsula with a disproportionately smaller slice. By USWAH SHABBIR PEN NEWS WRITER

Proposition 30, a government measure to increase state funding for education, was passed on Nov. 6. After years of deep cuts in educational budgets, all public schools needed money to fulfill educational responsibilities and ensure student learning. Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed budget draft, however, favors and funnels a large fraction of these funds to select schools. The Palos Verdes Peninsula Unified School District is currently deficit spending. Prop 30 was supposed to increase school funds in order

WENDY WEI/THE PEN

to relieve debts within school districts such as PVPUSD. Brown, however, intends to allocate more state funding to lower income districts while offering less relief to highincome districts. “I understand that there are districts which need extra support that need to be taken into consideration, but it should not be at the expense of students in PVPUSD,” PVPUSD Superintendent Walker Williams said. “We have to find a balance.” For the past two years, budget cuts have reduced the number of programs and teachers at Peninsula. Gov. Brown’s plan will force the district to deepen budget cuts, and may

Check out the stories behind Shweet and student-made iPhone cases

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result in job terminations for approximately nine teachers at Peninsula. “They’re keeping us at a bare minimum,” Principal Mitzi Cress said. Brown’s new budget draft eliminates funding for the Southern California Regional Occupational Center, a resourceful facility at Peninsula and for high schools within the community. “I believe it was an overlooked error in the budget,” Cress said. “SCROC is such a big part of the school and surrounding districts and it is so beneficial in helping students towards a career path.” These SoCal ROC classes teach vocational skills to help

COURTESY OF HANNAH PUCCINELLI

PV and Peninsula unite! Read about the joint rugby team

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students plan their future. Teachers who instruct SoCal ROC classes are at risk of losing their on-campus positions. “SoCal ROC offers beneficial programs for our students,” Williams said. “If these programs go away, this hurts our students. Until we see the final budget, however, we do not know the outcome.” Both Williams and Cress hope to maintain optimism throughout the draft finalization process. “We hope to continue what we are doing by providing an outstanding program for students to benefit,” Williams said.

JASON TRAN/THE PEN


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By VIVEKA KRISHNASWAMY PEN OPINION EDITOR

You are at a coffee shop, hanging out with a friend you haven’t seen in a while. The two of you are casually talking. You go to get a frappucino and come back to see her widening her eyes, flaring her nostrils and sticking out her tongue. This lasts for 3 seconds, and then she calmly resumes conversation. Five years ago, most would assume the girl to be mentally ill and scuttle away quickly. Today, such instances occur often. They can be attributed to the popular phone app Snapchat, which allows Smartphone owners to send captioned photos to their friends for a short duration. People can use it in any situation and often do. Snapchat, however, is not by any means the sole technological distraction. In a given group,

someone will be slingshotting birds or cutting ropes to feed little monsters. People incessantly text, Facebook and Tweet in the company of others. While all of this is cool and new, we often forget that these apps aren’t meant to take precedence over social interaction. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been with a friend talking about something important to me, only to see them playing Draw Something under the table. It gets frustrating because I feel like I have to work an inordinate amount to get that person’s attention; I find myself competing against Temple Run. We have gotten so caught up in the glamour of Smartphone apps that we’ve been ignoring social etiquette. Not only is it distracting and impolite when someone is on their phone during a hangout, but it diminishes the value of being face-to-face. Texting and gaming shouldn’t deter from forming and cementing in-person relationships. We as a society need to stop being glued to our phones and iPads; instead, we should embrace to the fullest priceless quality time with friends and family.

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3 OPINION Put down your phone

Editorial By EDITORIAL STAFF

The word “fair” is bandied about so often in our modern society that it often becomes difficult to distinguish just what it really means. Take a recent example – Governor Jerry Brown’s new school budget proposal which, if passed, would allocate funding to different school districts on the basis of their perceived need. School districts with a high proportion of English-learners, foster youth and low-income students would receive 35 percent more money per head – an average of about $2,450 per student – under Brown’s plan. In addition, where high-needs students make up more than half of a district’s pupils, the plan would give an additional 35 percent funding per student. In the end, every California public school is slated to receive augmented funding by the time Brown’s plan is fully implemented. Inevitably, the amount of the budget increases, and the final budgets each school receives will vary. At Palos Verdes Peninsula Unified, where fewer than seven percent of students are considered English learners, school funding would increase by $2528 per student. A few

miles away at Compton Unified, where English learners make up almost 40 percent of the student body, funding would increase by $5066 per student, despite the fact that Compton already receives more money than PVPUSD to begin with. In the 2011 to 2012 school year, Compton Unified earned $6994 per student, while PVPUSD got $5901. If Jerry Brown’s plan is fully implemented, Compton will receive $12060 per student yearly, while PVPUSD will get only $8429. In short, Compton’s funding per student will increase by over 70%, while PVPUSD’s will increase by barely 40%. The proponents of the plan laud it as “fair” – they praise it as a way to provide every student in California with a high quality education. While it is certainly benevolent to try to help underperforming schools catch up, it is equally imperative to promote further achievement in schools already considered “good enough” by the state. Well performing schools (cough cough Peninsula) need funds to encourage continued achievement, like supporting a student body that takes over 2,000 AP exams per year, or

maintaining a high quality staff that supports a variety of extracurricular organizations. By allocating funds differently to different school districts, Brown is creating animosity between districts, and furthering the already wide gap between LA Unified and PVPUSD. Ironically, Brown’s tax scenario relies heavily on Proposition 30 funds, which passed last November with over 55% support. Brown’s own advertisements indicated that Prop 30 would solve all the financial problems plaguing our schools, and in Palos Verdes, where the parents are politically engaged and knowledgeable, voter turnout in favor of the proposition was relatively high. Now, however, the money that we were told would be used to solve our school’s problems are, in reality, being partitioned by the state on the basis of “apparent” need. This leaves Peninsula with a disproportionately small slice of the pie, and thousands of highperforming students. In the end, Palos Verdes’ Deputy Superintendent of business services Lydia Cano summed it best: “It’s not fair.”

LAUSD

2011-2012 funding

PALOS VERDES PENINSULA HIGH SCHOOL 27118 Silver Spur Road, Rolling Hills Estates, CA 90274 EDITORS-IN-CHIEF Jason Choe, Edwin Chu, Kendall Van Nort COPY/DESIGN EDITOR Samantha Neal WEB CHIEF Michael Yu NEWS Editors: Sunnie Kim, Zohair Lalani Writers: Chris Kong, Uswah Shabbir, Valeria Park

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Peninsula students’ AP courseload By CAROLINE PARK PEN OPINION WRITER

OPINION Editors: Viveka Krishnaswamy, Izma Shabbir Writers: Amanda Katz, Caroline Park, Florencia Park, Jasmine Kim, Mina Zhang FOCUS Editors: Sehar Dedmari, Stephanie Minn Writers: Jina Kim, Julian Choi, Soolgi Hong STUDENT LIFE Editor: Michelle Lin Writers: Fatima Siddiqui, Rachel Tosney, Tunika Onnekikami ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT Editors: Audrey Tsai, Wendy Wei Writers: Charles Kim, Lauren Lee, Maerah Ahmed SPORTS Editors: Bryan Lee, Jonathan Wu Writers: Amy Valukonis, Charles Kim, Noah Werksman, Sam Quon WEB Web Editor: Robert Papa GRAPHICS Benson Leung Marie Lum BUSINESS TEAM Manager: Liliana Pond Assistant: Alisha Prasad ADVISER Katherine Crowley

Copyright © 2013

MARIE LUM/PEN

“The Pen” is the student newspaper produced by the advanced journalism students of Palos Verdes Peninsula High School. It is published eight times per year. Advertising inquiries may be directed to Advertising Manager Liliana Pond at (310) 377- 4888 ext. 652. The Pen editors appreciate Letters to the Editors, which may be accepted up to one week before publication. You may submit them to H52 or Katherine Crowley’s mailbox.


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OPINION

The US still has a ways to go: Extend Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act to promote equality By FLORENCIA PARK PEN OPINION WRITER

A ruling against the Voting Rights Act would negatively impact change. Indeed, even small, closeto-home examples show that racism, however disguised, is still apparent. Racist jokes and slang pepper conversation amongst unwitting high school students who

“I hear people joking about race...in our school. [It is unbelievable] that the Voting Rights Act is even in question.” -Sophomore Jessica Lee The unfortunate truth is that racism still exists. It might take a subtler form but its presence cannot be disputed. If the act and its provisions were to be annulled, there would be less incentive for historically racist regions to be equal and just.

don’t quite realize the effects a simple slur can have. Though unfortunate, racism is indeed prevalent on campus, which not only proves that racism still exists on campus but also that the U.S. still battles racism. Sophomore Jessica Lee, a

PALS PLUS member whose job is to promote student belonging on campus, recognizes the act’s necessity. “I hear people joking about race... in our school,” Lee said. “[It is unbelievable] that the Voting Rights Act is even in question. There is no reason to overturn the act. [It would be] unfair.” The Supreme Court’s decision will set the perception of racism in the U.S. from here on out. Overall, it is an issue of belonging to one’s community, becoming a thriving member of society and upholding ideals upon which our country grows, without skin color acting as a factor. Regrettably, the U.S. has not yet reached a point where taking away this Act will prove beneficial.

MARIE LUM/PEN

Famous figures such as Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks and Thurgood Marshall dedicated their lives to advocating for equality and liberty in an effort to eradicate racial discrimination. One of the fruits of their labors was the Voting Rights Act of 1965, a national legislation that outlaws discriminatory voting practices; as of late, it is being challenged. On Feb. 27, Shelby County, Ala. asked the Supreme Court to overturn Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act which allows the federal government to negate new local and state voting rules that are discriminatory towards minorities. In the past, the Voting Rights Act has prevented numerous cases of unfair treatment. Section 5 stopped

the implementation of discriminatory voter ID laws in Texas and South Carolina. It also halted Florida’s move to stop early voting, which would have severely impacted minorities. The provisions of Section 5 allow the federal government to intervene and redraw districts fairly.

The Times They Are A-Changin’: Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act is outdated Mississippi than it is in blue Massachusetts. It is important to note Section 5 of the Voting Rights that regardless of the court’s Act of 1965, which is meant to decision, the Voting Section, a protect against discriminatory special committee created by the voting practices, might have act, will continue to undertake been appropriate during the civil investigations of rights movement; the times discriminatory voting Extending Section 5 perpetuates the that Americans now live in, Should a stereotype that racial discrimination practices. however, render it moot. problem arise, Section Racial bias is no longer exists only in the South... however, black- 2 of the Voting Rights nearly as problematic as it voter registration and turnout is higher in Act offers a cleaner, was in 1965. Section 5 is simpler solution by Mississippi than in Massachussetts. an archaic way of dealing prohibiting unfair with a disproportionately procedures. miniscule issue. ludicrous federal scrutiny. While the article may have According to the Department Additionally, the provision been warranted the first few of Justice, the Attorney General is aimed specifically towards years, it is not necessary today. receives about 15 thousand to southern states. Extending As Chief Justice Antonin Scalia 24 thousand voting changes Section 5 perpetuates brought up, many legislators feel per year. Authorizing them for the stereotype that racial a sense of “racial entitlement,” the southern states becomes a discrimination exists only in unfairly highlighting a supposed huge and unnecessary burden. the South. As Chief Justice John indebtedness to minorities and Since Section 5 was enacted, Roberts pointed out, however, disregarding individual rights. the Attorney General has only black voter registration and This is not adequate justification objected to about one percent turnout is higher today in red for the law’s renewal. of proposed changes to voting By MINA ZHANG

PEN OPINION WRITER

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laws been objected. With the great strides that our country has taken, in terms of equality, Section 5’s drastic measures have become extraneous. Removing Section 5 relieves counties from the burden of such

Student evaluations needed to determine teacher efficacy, not standardized tests By MINA ZHANG PEN OPINION WRITER

RIE N /PE

M LU

The current evaluation system should not be completely abandoned. Our evaluation system is more meaningful than other districts that rely on standardized testing. Truth be told, many students simply don’t take standardized testing seriously. Such tests often have no real influence on classroom grades. Schools that use standardized tests to evaluate teachers often receive an incorrect interpretation of a teacher’s performance. Schools that rely on standardized testing foster the incorrect rationale that the better students do, the better the teacher must be. While this generalization is the ideal, it is neither pragmatic nor realistic. The district should be lauded for its evaluation methods. Still, the district should consider integrating student evaluations. Teachers that are not effective in the minds of their students are simply not effective.

MA

Districts across America are relying heavily on standardized test scores to evaluate teachers, especially districts that consistently do poorly on these tests. Without systemic problems on such tests, PVPUSD determines teacher efficacy by a more qualitative method. Our district uses five factors to more accurately assess teacher performance: teacher support for students, their ability to maintain effective learning environments, student understanding of the subject, effective lesson plans and personal growth. One factor is clearly missing from this progressive model: student evaluations of teachers. Student evaluations, a prominent part of college professor evaluations, provide valuable information so that

teachers can provide students with better learning experiences. By catering to the students’ specific needs, teachers can better tailor their courses. Student evaluations provide grass-roots data on teaching techniques. Schools like Stanford use such information to provide guidance to teachers. With the use of student evaluations, “the emphasis falls not on improving one’s teaching ‘performance’ but on making changes that will enable students to learn more effectively or efficiently,” Stanford University said in a released statement. Some teachers conduct informal student evaluations at the end of the year. They use these to self-reflect on how their students perceived the efficacy of their teaching methods. However, most teachers on this campus do not offer their students the chance to give them constructive feedback.


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breaking

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In the past three years, abuse of Adderall and its imitators has increased by nearly 200 percent, according to Dr. Ronald Ricker and Dr. Venus Nicolino.

KENTARO CROCKETT/PEN

The following article was submitted to The Pen by a Peninsula student who wishes to remain anonymous. It is not The Pen’s usual policy to grant requests for anonymity. However, because of the nature of the material in the submission, the editorial board has promised confidentiality to the student. All facts in the story have been verified by the editorial board. Additionally, minor grammatical edits were made.

The computer glare grew brighter against my window as the hours passed. The clacking of the keys pounded steadily. I didn’t know how long I’d been working. I finally noticed that my foot had been clenched in the same position the whole time, and that I’d been grinding my teeth again. My jaw shuddered out of soreness. My sudden awareness led me

to believe it was starting to wear off. I was finally coming off the Vyvanse. My heart rate finally began its descent back to normal. I could finally feel like myself again.

Lisdexamfetamine. What a scary word. Dextroamphetamine. Even scarier. These stimulants are more commonly known as Vyvanse and Adderall, respectively. They are also heavily abused in high schools and colleges across America. I’ve always been a straight-A student. Compared to some of my classmates, I don’t have parents who put me under an insane amount of pressure. I’m not in all AP classes, I have a fairly average load of extracurricular activities and I was always pretty content with my work ethic—I did my

homework regularly, studied for tests when necessary, and looked for extra help in subjects I was struggling with. My sophomore year honors math class gave me my first curve ball. I teetered on the edge between an 89 and 90, knowing that I had to maintain my A in order to keep my near perfect GPA. I spent hours looking over the material on a nightly basis, foregoing other subjects in order to spend more time trying to understand the jumbling numbers. This is when John* stepped in. A close friend, he was always willing to lend an ear when I had a problem. I stayed up late one night texting him about my math worries, and he offered a solution for my upcoming final: he would give me some of his Adderall, the drug he took to cope with his ADHD. I deliberated his proposal for days, researching online, looking up different doses,

reading about side effects and taking note of the serious danger involved with the drug. I came to the conclusion that I would try it—just this once—as a way to “test” myself. My first experience with Adderall was intense. My focus was incredible. I got through my math study guide seven different times, doing problems over and over again until I understood them perfectly. I even had time to study for my English final, memorizing lines from poems and their authors. I had this overwhelming sense of academic clarity, a sense I had never truly felt up to this point. The Adderall made me feel invincible. I was chatty and happy, jumping up to help with chores or engaging in absolutely riveting conversation. But then came the crash. At about the six-hour mark, the dubstep music didn’t sound as good. My eyes blurred at the


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Monday? But ultimately, I know I’m better without the drugs. I didn’t send in my SAT score from schoolwork, leaving no assignment when I was on Vyvanse. I didn’t behind. I processed things at light send in all the essays I wrote when speed, writing out terms over and I popped the Addy. And I’ve sight of numbers. I still felt my over again, memorizing people, grown to appreciate my work ethic heart pounding, only now it felt dates and facts. Vyvanse became that these stimulants made me unnatural. I tuned in to my body, the back door crutch I used question. noting my sweaty palms and when schoolwork spiraled out of I’m so thankful for the feet, my dry mouth, my creaky control. If I couldn’t keep a handle counseling I received. I wonder joints. I tried to fall asleep—it was on my life, at least I could stay if things would have turned out almost twelve, and I had my final captain of my “homework ship.” differently had I not come to the next morning. This is where While I take full responsibility my senses. The New York Times the real discomfort started. I lay for my actions, my prescription recently published an article awake in bed for hours, grabbing drug abuse stemmed from detailing one student’s experience maybe sixty minutes of shut eye pressure. In addition to the with Adderall addiction. He before my alarm sounded. I took amount of pressure I put on ended up killing himself after his the other pills John gave me, myself, being in an environment abuse spiraled out of control. It’s preparing myself for the long day like Peninsula’s did little to solve reading about instances like this ahead. My body was that truly showcase the more well adjusted harmful side effects this time around, and “It’s so easy to talk about stress and pressure to these drugs. They I grew eerily calm and and ways to solve them, but in reality things won’t seem like short-term ready for my exams. solutions; but in reality, change unless universities change their admission Unaffected by the they create long-term standards... For a while, I really believed that Adderall restless night before, problems. and Vyvanse helped bring me to that finish line.” I floated through the I wish I could tell day in my Adderall you to ignore the induced state. It took pressure, to be happy me three days to finally feel like my insecurities. I always wanted with your intelligence, to be “myself ” again. And my level of to be better—and being lined okay with getting into a second concentration during those three up next to such stellar students rate school. With the current days hit an all time low. I was pushed me to the extreme. It’s climate of both our school and like a zombie—not fully there or so easy to talk about stress and our country, I don’t think that will functioning. At the time, I figured pressure and ways to solve them, have much effect. I do advise you it was the price I was paying for but in reality things won’t change to talk to people—friends, family, my choices. unless universities change their school counselors—and realize admission standards. I truly how loved you are, and how reached my breaking point. For putting yourself in danger all for a a while, I really believed that grade isn’t worth it. That was almost two years Adderall and Vyvanse helped bring Vyvanse and Adderall took ago. Since then, I’ve looked to me to that finish line. away my sense of self. They put Vyvanse and Adderall on multiple About a year ago, I admitted me on a high that wasn’t me. And occasions to get me through to my illicit substance abuse in I won’t let an orange or blue pill schoolwork. I grew to prefer therapy—professional counseling take something that important Vyvanse, using it for the SAT or a then helped me to regain my trust from me. random junior year weekend pile in myself. There have been slipof homework. Whenever I was ups. College essay, school term on it, I plowed through all my paper and big poster due on one *Names have been changed.

FOCUS

If you or anyone you know is abusing prescription drugs, contact the Safe School Counselor Christine Lopez or the following organizations for information on where to go for help. Prescription Drug Abuse Hotline 866-784-8911 Narcotics Anonymous 818-773-9999 CSAT Drug Information, Treatment and Referral Hotline 800-662-HELP

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Talent agencies scam hopeful students

WENDY WEI/PEN

PEN A&E WRITER

Sophomore Kayla Smiley poses casually at the Promenade mall.

Sophomore Kayla Smiley was looking for a cute shirt at the local mall when the opportunity for fame approached her. Local talent agencies, such as the DDO Artist Agency and the Val Maur Talent Agency, scout young people in malls and public places in hopes of getting them to sign up with their agency. While boasting of having placed young talents on Disney Channel shows such as “Wizards of Waverly Place” or Nickelodeon shows such as “Victorious” these agencies cannot honestly guarantee such results. Although legitimate organizations and agencies exist, there are multiple agencies that scam clients on promises of publicity and fame. Many of these agencies claim to represent well-known actors and guarantee

PHOTO PROVIDED BYRENEE JACO

Locals anticipate opening of “Blue”

By LAUREN LEE PEN A&E WRITER

Three years ago, Renee Jaco opened a boutique to bring her fashion designs to the small city of Palos Verdes. Called Poppi, the boutique has a variety of designer brands and fashions that are adored on the hill. Jaco decided to open a new store this month. The store will be named Blue because of the proximity of the community to the ocean,

especially in the Lunada Bay Area. Jaco aims to accommodate both men’s and juniors’ clothing options so that they can buy local high-end casual wear. Some wellknown brands include beachwear like Obey and LAmade. “My husband has been wanting to do men’s since I opened Poppi,” Jaco said. “Men’s didn’t really work in Poppi, but I wanted to do a little bit of a more playful, fun and ‘beachy’

approach to Blue.” Jaco grew up in Garden City, New York, and worked in wholesale for about eight to ten years. She has worked with Barney’s New York, a huge fashion corporation. She hopes to bring her fashion background to Palos Verdes so that students and men do not have to travel such great distances to buy fashion they love. “I just really wanted young people to stay local in their community and get the great brands that they want,” Jaco said. Although Jaco has Poppi, she is looking forward to watching young people get excited about high-end fashion too. “When I opened Poppi, it has just been really fun to dress up the moms and watch people get excited about how they look in clothing,” she said. “But I am excited to dress the high schoolers, even college students, in cool beach outfits. It is definitely a different twist.”

televised roles to new members. Agents hope to find passionate young talent that will fall for their glamorized pamphlets and promises. However, most television networks steer away from hiring off the street and instead search for actors with experience. Multiple students, especially girls, have been approached by talent agencies. Often the gigs promised never manifest; instead, those who were scouted enroll in expensive classes or have pricey head shots taken for nothing. Sophomore Kayla Smiley was one of the many hopeful talents. While walking at Del Amo Mall in Torrance, Smiley was questioned and persuaded to audition for an acting opportunity in Hollywood. After singing and dancing for this talent agent, Smiley ultimately turned down the offer to have a televised role.

“The opportunity cost was about $2,000 [just] to be a part [of the program], causing my family to believe the offer was a scam [for the agency] to earn more money,” Smiley said. By law, talent agencies are not permitted to charge actors before representation is established. DDO Artists Agency, an acting, dancing and choreographing agency located in both New York and Los Angeles, claims that agencies should only get 10% to 15% of their clients’ pay once their clients actually land gigs. Like Smiley, freshman Jessie Wei was approached by a talent agency at the mall as well. After auditioning among multiple hopeful girls, the agency eventually returned with an offer. “They told me I had to pay for a series of acting classes in advance in order to land gigs, so I decided not to go with it,” Wei said.

{Kendall’s Top Blogs}

By KENDALL VAN NORT PEN EDITOR-IN-CHIEF

Blogs have taken over my bookmark bar. There are all types of blogs—DIY (do-it-yourself) blogs, fashion blogs, cooking blogs, self-help blogs—the list is endless. Blogging creates virtual communities for people, all interested in one thing. Six of my favorites include: 1. Personally, I’m all for the cheese. I have a creepy obsession with howheasked.com, a website that posts cute proposal stories (along with videos and pictures of said proposals). The site accepts submitted stories, so you get the point of view of either the future bride/groom. It’s kind of like a “New York Times” wedding announcement on crack. The site recently got a new layout, making it much more user friendly and attractive. 2. If I’m feeling particularly ambitious in the kitchen, I’ll head over to sallysbakingaddiction.com. The site first caught my eye when someone sent me the recipe to cake batter cookies. I’m pretty sure I’ve already said enough, but if you aren’t a baker yourself, the site has plenty of pictures for you to salivate over. (Or, if you’re like my brother, print one out and shove it under my door.) Recipes range from “Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cupcakes” to “Healthy Oatmeal Raisinet Cookies.”

Television illegally makes its debut on the small screen With the newfound freedom of watching shows online at any time without commercials, students are turning away from traditional television to the computer screen. A major reason why students watch television shows online is because they have no time during the week to enjoy their shows. The transition to Internet viewing, however, has also spurred the use of illegal websites, like Project Free TV or Putlocker, which do not own the copyright for a show, but have a giant online archive of commercial-free TV shows and movies open to the public. At Peninsula, 11 percent of 500 students surveyed stated they watch their preferred shows on

illegal websites. The illegal videos available online tend to have worse quality, but are high speed and convenient. However, downloading movies and television shows from these websites is a copyright infringement. Downloading and sharing files from illegal sites is a violation of the copyright of the creators and could possibly result in jail time for up to five years and fines of up to $150,000 per file, as well as a possible lawsuit from the owner. “I think students ignore the fact that they can get possibly get charged because it’s so rare; it seems as if downloading a few songs is risk free,” senior Shogo Komiyama said. Besides being a criminal

Following the recipes from sallysbakingaddiction.com, Kendall Van Nort bakes an oreo-brownie cookie mix (left) and nutella-filled cookies (right).

MARIE LUM/PEN

By MAERAH AHMED

PEN A&E WRITER

offense, these free movies and television shows could often cause viruses. Excessive pop ups, computer crashes, and hackers who steal private information have all been linked to pirated media.

KENDALL VAN NORT/PEN

By LAUREN LEE

3. There are millions of blogs out there that appeal to everyone. Try stumbleupon.com, a site that allows you to filter what kind of sites you want to see, and “stumble” until you find a site you like. You get hundreds of pages that I guarantee will help you procrastinate. The stumble button is just too tempting. 4. Or say you’re a music lover. My cousin and his friends started findnewjams.com, a music site that streams new songs for free. Looking for the latest remix? I guarantee you’ll find it here. I love how the site is so easy to navigate. You can find whatever you’re looking for by genre. 5. Humans of New York is a photo blog, created by a photographer who catalogues citizens in New York. It’s heartfelt and touching reading about complete strangers with interesting pictures and even more interesting stories. 6. Postsecret.com is an online community that accepts “confessions” via postcard. It’s exhilarating reading others’ secrets, out there on the Internet. Blogs can serve as therapeutic and cathartic ways to expose yourself. Spill your guts out anonymously online. Or start a blog with your interests. The possibilities are endless. In the meantime, follow me on Pinterest—I’m pretty sure my six followers love all my posts about rainbows and cupcakes.


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Student life 9

By fatima siddiqui pen student life writer

of learning a new language. She will also be required to participate in a small talent show performance. Ramayya will be performing a poem while playing traditional bamboo clappers. Chinese culture has impacted Ramayya in many ways, and she tries to implement it in her life as best as she can. Since her parents are not Chinese, Ramayya speaks Chinese to her friends’ parents and reads Chinese books to expand her knowledge of Chinese traditions and culture. “Chinese culture has become more familiar to me through my studies of the language, and I am now able to communicate with my Chinese friends’

parents,” Ramayya said. “ I am [also] able to practice speaking Chinese outside of the classroom at Chinese grocery stores and businesses.” In the future, Ramayya hopes to travel to China to attend a summer program and be in an environment that will help her learn practical aspects of Chinese. Ramayya also hopes that the study of this language will help her in her future career. “I hope to become a physician in the future, so knowing Chinese could help me interact better with patients that are not as comfortable speaking English as they are with Chinese,” Ramayya said.

Ramayya studies in Chinese class. She will attend a speech competition this April.

photo provided by hannah pucinelli

Although this is only sophomore Shreya Ramayya’s second year taking Chinese, she is one of 24 high school students in the United States who has been selected to participate as a finalist in the eighth annual “Chinese Bridge” U.S. High School Student Speech Contest at the Confucius Institute. Ramayya will travel to the University of Massachusetts on April 6. Ramayya heard about the competition from her Chinese teacher Grace Anderson who encouraged all of her students

to apply. Ramayya signed up for the “beginner” category, which is limited to ninth and tenth graders who have taken Chinese for two years or less. “I am very grateful to have been able to make it this far in the competition; I am very excited to see what the contest is like and I hope to improve my Chinese along the way,” Ramayya said. “Overall, I see this as a great opportunity for me to learn more Chinese.” Ramayya will be required to present a speech about Chinese language and culture to the judges, showing the judges and others the importance of learning Chinese and the benefits

michelle kim/PEN

Chinese in all ways except for one

Learning and earning By tunika onnekikami

benson leung/PEN

pen student life writer

Peninsula students are learning and earning. Some students on campus have used their school experiences and hobbies to create money-making businesses and trends. Undercover Phone Cases is a newer business on campus, run by sophomores Maerah Ahmed, Austi Kaji, Adrienne Sheh and Lara Yedikan. They came up with the idea to make their own phone cases when Sheh dropped her phone and broke her case. “We said, ‘What if we made our own phone cases?’ We just took if from there,” Yedikan said. “It was first started off as sort of a joke, [but] then we really took it seriously.” This attitude change came after the friends decided that the experience would be fulfilling as well as a good way to make money. Because they are such close friends, Kaji believes making the cases more of a fun hobby than a job. Because the cases are handmade, the Undercover founders believe that buyers find them more appealing. No two covers are the same.

“There’s a certain amount of creativity that goes into it being handmade. Instead of having a set design and using a template, we use our imaginations and go with a design that is more original,” Yedikan said. Since the official launch of the company in January, the four girls have used social media to advertise their cases, most of which start at $8. “I know a lot of people share some of the photos we have, so it really helps to get the word out,” Kaji said. Another company, Shweet Caps, was established by seniors Hannah Puccinelli and Joyce Swisher as a charity effort to support the organization “Feed the Children.” “A Shweet Cap is a plain white trucker hat that has been branded with either the word ‘Sweet’ or ‘Shweet’ in various colors and patterns,” Puccinelli said. The simple, yet unique idea has become a popular trend among students. “Most of our support has been through the Panther family and the events we participate in at the school like the Walk for Life and Homecoming carnivals,”

Puccinelli said. Most of the company’s success has come from the two partners’ ability to work together. “It has been so easy and convenient working with Joyce,” Puccinelli said. “We have been best friends for ten years now and she is such a creative and innovative person, it’s just awesome being able to work with someone like her.” Puccinelli and Swisher have used Facebook and Instagram to advertise their products, as well as the Shweet Caps website to sell the hats to customers outside of school. While college will separate the friends, Puccinelli and Swisher hope to continue to expand their company. “We love making the hats; I definitely think we will still make them on trips home and in the summer for sure,” Puccinelli said. Swisher and Puccinelli hope to implement their new ideas into their products. “We have recently figured out how to make different patterns and put pictures on our hats. That is something that we are really excited to work on,” Pucinelli said.

The Text Effect: social media’s effect on writing By tunika onnekikami pen student life writer

Texting and social media are arguably the biggest current influences on writing. English teacher Ann-Marie Voegtlin says the new way of socializing is “rushed” and “lacks intimacy.” “Social media and texting in particular encourage an informal, ‘abbreviated’ style of written communication, not only in today’s youth, but [among] adults as well,” Voegtlin said. “Perhaps more importantly,

communicating through texting and other ‘social’ media may actually decrease the quality of our communication with one another.” Voegtlin has noticed that the writings of her students have changed as social media use has increased. “I have definitely noticed the use of abbreviated, “text,” spelling in my students’ writing, especially in ELD,” Voegtlin said. Her English Language Development students are more likely to write phrases that they

see and text, such as ‘smthng’ or ‘smbdy’ rather than learn to spell the word correctly. Sophomore Tyler Williams agrees that the overuse of abbreviations within text messages and on social media, as well as the early ages which students begin to use them will cause people’s “text language” and “academic language” to merge. “I’d say [social media] most definitely has a negative impact,” Williams said. “Since we are creatures of habit and we use

the abbreviations so often, it transfers over to our writing.” In addition, Williams admits that social media can be distracting as a student that he is often distracted by scoial media when he is trying to work on an assignment. “Facebook has entertaining statuses and, colorful pictures and other stuff,” Williams said. “I do not go on for fun anymore. It just happens.” In truth, Voegtlin does not think that social media can have a positive effect on a student’s

writing, and for that reason, does not use it herself. But, Williams believes that a person can benefit from misspelling words while texting or typing if the phone automatically corrects the mistake. Williams also pointed out, most students do not tend to focus on their grammar when texting or messaging. “The majority of people who text do not focus on complex vocabulary while commenting on statuses,” Williams said. “[Texting] is not the absolute best influence [on writing].”


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Sam I Am: These battlescars after the Ides of March a Cinderella run and snatch that NCAA championship. That dream died the first day, when There are not many days that underseeded Minnesota knocked recreate the feeling I had when I off the Bruins by 20 in the first woke up this morning. round. The madness didn’t stop Well, there is always there. The Wichita State Shockers Christmas. are this year’s “Cinderella,” as Of course, the first day of they upset number eight-seeded summer comes pretty close. The Pittsburgh, one-seeded Gonzaga, feeling of not having to rush and two-seeded ­Ohio State. to that 7 a.m. class is nearly This sports craze also raises impossible to replicate. questions of the effects of March My world seems so full of Madness. Productivity in work opportunity and hope. and school has been found I do not remember when to drop significantly in these exactly I caught this madness. last few weeks of March. That The ceaseless ramblings of is not the only influence this number one seeds and Cinderella basketball spectacle has though. teams. The endless list of sports Recently, researchers have looked websites filled with predictions into a college’s success in the and research. The eraser bits tournament and its influence in strewn over the dinner table. The the number of future applicants rough draft, the second rough to that college. draft, the third, the fourth, and Reading that, I thought: It’s the final draft of my impeccable just a game right? bracket. However, Jaren Pope, a All I know is that it will not Cornell professor, found that ever go away. after Cornell reached the Sweet The first March Madness 16 in 2010, the number of games tipped off on March 19, applicants increased by 5%. and it was hard to escape the Overall, he discovered that heightened emotions across the schools reaching the Final Four nation. People from all walks had a 7% increase, while the of life filled out brackets for champion college garnered a 9% family, friends, and office pools. spike in applicants. Students, nurses, even professors That means, you took anywhere from ten minutes underclassmen out there, beware. to ten days to fill out their bracket This NCAA tournament could and compete in this seasonal rite quite possibly decide where you of passage. attend college. We love competition, and This irresistible tournament what better form of it is there has become doubly as interesting than a three week playoff to and enticing for me. The ensuing decide a national champion? ruckus over upsets and busted For those of us with ties brackets is enough to entertain to specific universities, this a crowd, but add in college time of year became especially decisions to this already insane frustrating. I would have loved craze? to see my UCLA Bruins make Let the Madness resume. By SAM QUON

CHRIS MICHEL/PEN

PEN SPORTS WRITER

The team huddles, in order to start a new series of offense. Like hockey, this standoff determines the possession of offense.

Rugby Team Unites PV-Pen Rivalry By NOAH WERKSMAN PEN SPORTS WRITER

While rugby is not a wellrecognized sport in the United States, Peninsula High and Palos Verdes High have helped introduce the game to the South Bay. In 2010, led by Jeremy Wilkinson, the Panthers and Sea Kings united to form the Palos Verdes Rugby Team. In the 2012 season, the squad placed third in Southern California and first among Division 1 teams. Palos Verdes Rugby maintained a 3:1 ratio between points scored and points surrendered, and reached the semi-finals in the regional playoffs. A disappointing loss to Belmont Shore High terminated the team’s winning streak. “We keep getting better and better,” freshman Kurt Landon said. “More kids are joining, so we have strong varsity and junior varsity teams.”

After the school season concludes, the team offers a club experience that trains its players for upcoming seasons. Although relatively new, the team is already competing against high-ranked teams. In early February, it traveled to Las Vegas to compete against all-star teams from Mexico, Ireland, France and Canada. The sport closely resembles a combination American football and soccer, with the style of play being more regulated since the only protective gear allowed to be worn by the players is a “scrum cap.” Fifteen players stand on the field for each team, and points are scored through completing a field-goal, drop-goal, or a try, the equivalent of a touchdown in football, but worth only five points. “I have never played such an extreme sport at such a high level

of play,” senior Jason Tran said. “This sport is fun, but it can be dangerous.” Through a series of lateral passes, the attackers elude defenders by forcing their way downfield with the rugby ball. In the mosh-pit of players referred to as the “scrum,” the two teams collide and attempt to force the ball free from the ball carriers. Tran stresses that success in the game is achieved through determination and effort. “We spend hours practicing tackles and correcting procedures,” said Tran. “The game is most fun when everyone plays at his or her best.” The team has a promising future to look forward to, having won two major tournament championships last year. It continues to recruit healthy athletes to an increasingly popular program in Palos Verdes.

The Anatomy of the Track Athlete By SAM QUON

PEN SPORTS WRTIER

Among thousands of distance runners in track, senior Stephen Sansom has earned the status of elite this season with improved times from a 2011-2012 season that already looked promising. He credits his training regimen to his current record breaking season.

After track practice, Sansom goes to the gym to swim at least a mile.

On Saturday mornings, starting from Malaga Cove Plaza, he runs a minimum 12 miles with the rest of the distance team.

Sansom completes a strenuous abdmonial workout to strengthen his core, and lifts weights.

A track practice consisting of seven to ten miles on average occupies Sansom’s afterschool schedule. The workouts vary from highintensity short distances to endurance-enhancing long distances.

Sansom now consistently runs the 1600 meter race in approximately 4:20; his 3200 meter time has improved from 11:00 to 10:00 because of his improved approach to training and dieting. YAE STEADLY/PEN

Sansom wakes up every day at 5 a.m. to run a “light” three miles.

Sansom consumes around 3,000 to 3,500 calories a day, splitting his intake into three categories: 60 percent carbohydrates, 25 percent protein, 15 percent fat.


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