April Issue 2017

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The Tam News — April 2017


April 2017



lifestyles Surfing for Sanity by Jacob Swergold

04 news

Wellness Centered Opened by Marie Hogan Marin Horizon to Open School in Marin City by Kendall Lafranchi

05 news

Increase in Swastika Graffiti in Marin by Elissa Asch

06 news

Steps, Lanes, and Paths Lawsuit Update by Nell Mitchell Drake to Replace Turf Field by Adam Tolson TUHSD to Adopt NGSS by Marina Furbush & Ginger Lazarus Jolly Roger Unable to Print by Zoe Wynn

08 lifestyles Artist of the Issue: Fiona Bransgrove by Marina Furbush

April 2017 — The Tam News

09 lifestyles

Jacob Swergold describes how surfing before school multiple days a week helps him not only fend off the stresses of school and life but improves his academics as well.

10 features

19 op/ed

Need a new obsession? SKAM fits the bill. by Celeste Moore

...And (Quality) Education For All by Milo Levine

16 op/ed

EDITORIAL: In Defense of Teen Privacy by Staff Crackin’ and Slackin’ by Staff

17 op/ed The Teacher Club by Emily Spears

18 op/ed

Wait Your Turn by Grace Bell & Connor Norton Heard in Tam Hallways heard by the Opinion Staff

Stay off our Tail(pipes) by Maddie Asch

20 sports opinion Physical Education: Unnecessary for Student Athletes by Kennedy Cook & Arya Guinney By the Numbers by the Sports Staff

21 sports

Athlete of the Issue: Isobel Wright by Sophia Venables

22 perspective

A New Perspective: Oaxaca, Mexico by Diana Sosa Ruíz & translated by Maddie Asch For the first time, the Tam News will have a page dedicated to Tam students who come from other nations to add their perspectives and languages to our community.

Dear Reader,

In this month’s feature, “...And (Quality) Education For All,” Milo Levine explores the barriers that face students coming to Tam from the Sausalito Marin City School District (SMCSD). Almost all of the students from Bayside Martin Luther King Jr. Academy (MLK) who were interviewed noted that they felt unprepared by MLK teachers and were negatively affected by a constantly revolving door of teachers at the school. As Levine notes, we live in one of the wealthiest counties in the country, but Tam is plagued with an achievement gap, where minority and low-income students consistently underperform their higher-income and white peers. This is not the way it has to be. Many of the current solutions for the achievement gap, such as Tam math teacher David Wetzel teaching part time at MLK, are band-aid measures. We need to support SMCSD as they grapple with finding long term solutions to this difficult problem. SMCSD has already created a committee to investigate merging SMCSD and the Mill Valley School District, but that’s only one possibility. Students who attended MLK and Willow Creek Academy also said they often feel isolated by the larger Tam community. Last month Tam organized Breakthrough Day, a day dedicated to talking about racial issues at Tam. Organizers were very clear that it was not the solution, it was an attempt to start the conversation about race at Tam, and there was plenty of hard work to come. We need to continue improving Tam’s culture, and start having uncomfortable conversations and brainstorming solutions about how we under-serve students of color.

Marina Furbush

EDITORS IN CHIEF: Danielle Egan, Marina Furbush, Raqshan Khan & Kendall Lafranchi

NEWS: Elissa Asch, Maddie Asch, Megan Butt & Josh Love LIFESTYLES: Sabrina Baker, Francis Strietmann, Maddie Wall & Dahlia Zail

FEATURES: Kennedy Cook, Arya Guinney, Marie Hogan, Milo Levine (I), Savannah Malan (I) & Ethan Swope (I)

OPINION: Connor Dargan, Samantha Ferro (I), Mary Overton & Glo Robinson

Cover by: Kendall Lafranchi & Ethan Swope On the Cover: With all of the controversy surround the Sausalito Marin City School District, Milo Levine investigates the impact it has on the students.

PHOTOS: Lucky Shulman & Ethan Swope GRAPHICS: Nicole Anisgard Parra, Emma Blackburn & Emma Steinberg

COPY EDITORS: Piper Goeking & Samantha Locke DESIGN: Kennedy Cook & Lucky Shulman BUSINESS TEAM: Megan Butt, Michael Diamandakis, Calvin Rosevear & Adam Tolson

SOCIAL MEDIA: Francis Strietmann

SPORTS: Andrew Bishop, Calvin Rosevear, Miles Rubens, Adam Tolson, Zoe Wynn & Sophia Krivoruchko (I) (I) denotes a section intern. Tamalpais High School 700 Miller Avenue Mill Valley, CA 94941 www.thetamnews.org

Volume XII, No. VII April 2017 A publication of Tamalpais High School Established 1916

ADVISOR: Jonah Steinhart PRINTER: WIGT Printing

REPORTERS: Lucy Allen, Sabrina Baker, Michael Balistreri, Griffin Barry, Grace Bell, Mackenzie Bell, Andrew Bishop, Evan Boatright, Abigail Cabana, Connor Cardinal, Griffin Chen, Birgitta Danielson, Connor Dargan, Kavi Dolasia, Julian Dreyer, Jack Ferguson, Samantha Ferro, Andrew Ferron, Ava Finn, Maxine FlasherDuzgunes, Abby Frazee, Jack Goldman, Benjamin Grant, Ephets Head, Caroline Herdman, Hannah Jeffris, Derek Jennings, Ravi Joshi-Wander, Keana Kennedy, Elise Korngut, Ivan Kovalev, Sophia Krivoruchko, Shane Lavezzo, Ginger Lazarus, Ryan Leake, Lola Leuterio, Milo Levine, JT Lieser, Gabriela Lilien, Katherine Liviakis, Tess Lochman, Savannah Malan, Clodagh Mellett, Isabella Minnie, Cal Mitchell, Nell Mitchell, Celeste Moore Malnar, William Moye, Connor Norton, Hanna Nygard, Ben Olizar, Mary Overton, Emily Pavis, Georgia Pemberton, Evelyn Power, Alexander Price, Satori Richards-Bailey, Charlie Rosgen, Kylie Sakamoto, Dylan Sgamba, Francesca Shearer, Emily Spears, Emma Steinberg, Sarah Stone, Spencer Stone, Kyle Sullivan, Jacob Swergold, Red Thompson, Scarlett Trnka, Sam Uriarte Sanders, Sophia Venables, Benjamin Wall-Feng, Daisy Wanger, Nikola Weisman, Maxwell Williams, Aaron Young EDITORIAL BOARD: Nicole Anisgard Parra, Abigail Cabana, Michael Diamandakis, Danielle Egan, Marina Furbush, Raqshan Khan, Kendall Lafranchi, Nell Mitchell, Connor Norton, Georgia Pemberton, Calvin Rosevear. The Tam News, a student-run newspaper publication, distributed monthly, is an open, public forum for student expression and encourages letters and article contributions. The Tam News reserves the right to edit submissions for length and content. All content decisions are made by student editors. The Tam News is published monthly, though dates may vary. The Tam News is nonprofit and any proceeds and contributions are used in the production of the newspaper publication and for journalism education. Additional information concerning contributions or advertising can be obtained by writing to the address provided above or through our website. Copyright © 2017 by The Tamalpais News. All rights reserved. Reproduction is prohibited without written consent.

The Tam News — April 2017



Wellness Center Opened by Marie Hogan


evelopment of Tam’s Wellness program continues, with the school set to begin hiring Wellness Coordinators by April 3. Due to space constraints, Tam is going forward with a Wellness program that combines counseling support with community outreach, rather than constructing a separate Wellness center. “We don’t

know exactly what, facilities-wise, it’ll look like,” Assistant Principal David Rice said. “We’re looking at [the lower floor] of Wood Hall and making that the counseling and wellness wing.” The TUHSD Wellness program was designed around data from the California Healthy Kids Survey. “[The data] kind of showed us areas of need, and we looked at what we had, and what we didn’t have, and…we met with the counseling team to figure out which providers we needed, and then what kind of services we could [use] to round stuff out,” Rice said. “That’s just supports; there’s also the outreach piece, too. So the coordinator will go into the classrooms and do The Wellness program will share space with the counselpresentations as well.” ing department in Wood Hall. PHOTO BY ETHAN SWOPE According to counselor Scott

Birkenstrand, the wellness program works well with the mission of Tam counselors. “Counseling really is [about promoting] wellness…The national model for school counseling, basically covers all aspects of wellness,” he said. “So when we can provide school counseling like it should be provided, we exhibit kind of the exact structure of wellness...[and] having wellness come in will be a great support and a good band aid for some of the things that we cannot accomplish currently.” In addition to hiring a coordinator, Rice plans to present the current Wellness program blueprint to the Tam community in early April for feedback, and has been meeting with student led wellness groups, including Peer Resource, to pitch the program. He says that responses, so far, have been positive. ♦

Marin Horizon to Open School in Marin City by Kendall Lafranchi


arin Horizon is set to open a Pre-K school for two-year-old children in Marin City in the fall of 2017. The school will be in partnership with Community Action Marin (CAM) and will move into the two-acre lot where CAM’s Manzanita Children’s Center currently resides. Marin Horizon currently has two locations in Mill Valley. The school wanted to expand into the Marin City area because they saw a lack in early childhood education. “[Marin City and Sausalito students] end up graduating in the eighth grade, and getting to Tam totally behind, and unable to keep up,” said Marin Horizon diversity and inclusion director Stevie Lee. “If the key to success is education and the key to getting out of poverty is education, then why is it that kids in Marin City aren’t getting that good education that they need?” The Pre-K school will be limited to Marin City residents in an effort to build a strong educational foundation for kids in the area. “Three-year-olds in Marin City are paying $7,000 a year [for childcare], whereas when you look at two-year-olds in


April 2017 — The Tam News

Mill Valley who go to Marin Horizon, they are paying about $20,000 and there’s a big difference in the education there,” Lee said. “You get what you pay for. That’s where the disparity starts, and that’s where the poverty continues.” A year at the partnership school is projected to cost only $25. To offer these low prices, Marin Horizon is seeking funding for the upcoming school year from the Marin Community Foundation (MCF). One of their objectives is to “increase the number of low-income children and chil-

dren of color who are prepared for academic success through access to quality Pre-K-3 education,” according to their website. Lee is hopeful that a one time grant from the MCF will be able to sustain the school for decades. “They [are planning on] supporting us by giving the funds for our first year. The plan is that in the next five years, we will expand from working with just two-year-olds, to two to five-year-olds in Marin City.” Lee said. “And we know that if we were given a $6 million grant, it would sustain the program for 45 years.” ♦


ver the last few months the Marin community has experienced a sharp increase in anti-Semitic behavior. This behavior includes the drawing of five swastikas found at Tam, Mill Valley Middle School, the Mill Valley Community Center (MVMS), and the Safeway parking lot. “The Safeway incident involved a red swastika applied to the top of a pillar in the parking lot,” Sergeant Steven Heisinger, who is assigned to the Investigations Division of the Mill Valley Police Department (MVPD) said. “It is believed the swastika was made with blood, but we don’t know this to be factual. Other means have included carving with a knife, scraping with a rock, spraying with spray paint and even the organizing of magnets on a magnetic board in a classroom,” The vandalism that occurred at Tam involved two swastikas drawn in chalk outside classroom 2020, and was detailed in an email sent out by Principal J.C. Farr on December 12. “We are treating this incident as hate-motivated behavior and will discipline any student found to be responsible to the fullest extent possible, up to and including expulsion,” Farr’s email stated. The email urged students with any information regarding the graffiti to contact the school. Though each incident was investigated by the MVPD, no official suspects have been identified and no arrests have been made. “These appear to be acts of malicious mischief/vandalism performed by one or more individuals,” Heisinger said. “None of the five Mill Valley incidents are prosecutable at this point. No suspects [or targets of the crimes] were identified.” Junior and Republican Gage Goal speculated that the increase in anti-Semitic graffiti may be tied to the recent presidential election. “It’s maybe a kind of resentment against what was the status quo and is now completely different boiling up to the surface,” he said. “[Conservatives] have been demonized [and] it...kind of goes inwards, then kind of ferments I would say, and then when they can finally release it it comes out in this not really violent but aggressive gush.” According to Gohl, this smothering

by Elissa Asch

environment of liberalism, especially in such progressive communities like Marin County, has a negative effect on those who don’t subscribe to liberal beliefs. “You kind of just feel as if you are a bad person if you hold conservative views here...and you internalize it, as humans do.” Gohl said. The police couldn’t confirm any specific motives behind these instances. “It could be one kid doing something stupid or it could be a wave of kids that are having these strong feelings in the wake of the political atmosphere,” History teacher and baseball coach Nathan Bernstein said. But even if Jewish students aren’t in any real danger, some students and teachers confirmed that there is a climate of anti-Semitism on campus, especially when

jokes] are becoming a lot more popular nowadays, and it’s becoming a big problem,” he said. However, there were also students that didn’t consider anti-Semitism an issue at Tam. “I have never experienced antiSemitism myself but I can’t speak for the entire population,” said junior Zoe Wortzman. “I’m Jewish and I have some Jewish friends at Tam, and I’ve never heard anyone complain about it really.” Tam isn’t the only school that has to address anti-Semitism though. The eighth grade class at MVMS has experienced a recent increase in anti-Semitic behavior and hate speech as well. An eighth grader who requested anonymity for fear of retribution recounted a story that took place in the last few months. “One day kids were writing symbols and words on their wrists and faces in marker, they drew swastikas on themselves and other people and wrote ‘gas the Jews’...some people didn’t know what was going to – Nathan Bernstein be written on them, because people were like do you want to join my it comes to Jewish jokes. Bernstein has club?...and then they would draw [a swastihad experience with Jewish jokes at Tam. ka] on their face,” he said. According to an “I was talking to one of my players who email sent out by Mill Valley School Diswas Jewish...I asked him how many Jewish trict superintendent Paul Johnson, MVMS jokes do you hear a day and he said about has taken steps to combat these instances seven to ten, and that’s pretty high...and such as inviting a Holocaust survivor to then there are common Holocaust jokes speak at the school. that go around Jewish kids, so I asked how There is a proper way to confront these many times do you hear that, and he says jokes, according to Bernstein. “Students once every other day,” Bernstein said. can work on challenging each other...but Bernstein was clear that he believes also the perspective of not jumping down the root behind these comments to be a lack someone’s throat when they make a misof historical context. “A lot of [Jewish] ste- take,” he said. “I start with a Malcolm X reotypes were built to dehumanize Jews in quote: ‘Don’t be too quick to judge people the wake of the Holocaust, to create that that don’t think or do like you. There was hatred and that’s how such a horrible event a time you didn’t know what you know happened. So when someone makes fun now’...because maybe a kid is making reof a Jew for having a big nose, those were ally dumb Jewish jokes because no one caricatures that was propaganda that Hit- took the time to stop and have a conversaler put out there to make Jews seems less tion with him about why that’s offensive.” than human. Because whenever you make Principal Farr also put an emphasis someone less than human then you can do on education and discussion as a solution. terrible things to them,” he explained. “So I “We are going to have meetings to discuss think when kids have that historical context how we can increase awareness...so over that these little slights can turn into huge the next few weeks we may have speakers behavior, I hope it helps.” come in and talk to classes just so there’s Junior David Fineman who is Jewish more of an emphasis on the increase in hate thought that not only are Jewish jokes com- crimes that we’ve seen. I always want to mon, but on the rise. “I think that [Jewish start with education,” he said. ♦

Whenever you make “someone less than human then you can do terrible things to them


Increase in Swastika Graffiti in Marin

The Tam News — April 2017


NEWS FLASH “Steps, Lanes, and Paths Lawsuit Update by Nell Mitchell

The Mill Valley City Council adopted a resolution to protect Mill Valley’s Steps, Lanes and Paths (SLPs) on March 20. The City has also agreed to officially record the 192-path network at the County Recorder’s office and to remove all existing and future encroachments on the SLPs. This comes after several months of conflict between the City and the Save Our Trails Organization. “[The resolution] is momentous for the city and the citizens, everybody worked together to do something that needed to be done,” said the leading activist for the SLPs, Victoria Talkington. “I’m really excited for Mill Valley’s future because these paths are now safe.” ♦

Drake to Replace Turf Field


The Tamalpais Union High School District (TUHSD) school board voted to replace the turf at the Drake football field on February 28. Prior to the vote, many parents voiced concerns about the health risks of the current Drake turf made from old car tires and expressed their concerns to the board. Carolyn Gencarella wrote to the board asking for the same financial assistance in replacing the Drake field that Tam had received in 2015. “Please allow all schools in the Tam District the same opportunity to come together with its local foundation to offer support,” she wrote. District funds will pay for non-toxic cork infill this summer. ♦

TUHSD is finalizing Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) recommendations for implementation in the 2018-2019 school year. “The NGSS are designed to prepare students for college, career, and citizenship…,” the NGSS wrote in an April 2013 release. “When comprehending current events, choosing and using technology, or making informed decisions about one’s health care, understanding science is key.” The district plans to roll out NGSS to 9th graders in fall 2018, but NGSS standards will ultimately span from kindergarten to 12th grade. The new courses would each count as a year of a UC “d” laboratory science. ♦

by Adam Tolson

by Marina Furbush & Ginger Lazarus

Jolly Roger Unable to Print


he Drake High School newspaper, The Jolly Roger, is not able to print their magazine due to the Tamalpais Union High School District (TUHSD) print shop shutting down. The Jolly Roger and the Tam district have a contract with the California Schools Employee Association (CSEA), which lays out the guidelines of printing with the TUHSD print shop. The Jolly Roger has been printing with the shop for at least 18 years, according to the paper’s advisor Mary Jane Jones. “The [TUHSD] printer was fired and the position was closed in December of last year, and the classified union staff…have a clause in their contract saying once you eliminate a position you cannot go outside the district to fill that job,” Jolly Roger Editor-in-Chief Aaron Silverstein said. The position cannot be filled by someone outside the district for 39 months because of this clause. The TUHSD is currently negotiating with the CSEA to find a way to let the Jolly Roger print again. “The contractual agreement our district has with our local chapter of the [CSEA] requires that we negotiate any reassignment of any work formerly performed by CSEA that went through a


April 2017 — The Tam News

by Zoe Wynn

layoff procedure,” Laura Anderson, the head of the TUHSD school board, said. “Currently, a state appointed mediator is helping resolve the contract dispute. The Board has been kept in the loop and is optimistic that we will reach an amicable resolution for all involved parties.” Although Anderson might feel optimistic, this is a long process. “We do not have a quick fix because the situation is complex,” superintendent David Yoshihara said. The Jolly Roger has contacted the Student Press Law Center (SPLC) because this case is potentially a violation of free expression rights. “I don’t know how far you could argue that this is a violation of the first amendment. I would argue it is, but that is my personal view,” Silverstein said. Both the Tam News and the Redwood Bark have left their contracts with the TUHSD print shop. This is not an option for Drake. “We don’t really have the funds to do that right now, hopefully we will be one day to make a fully colored magazine or an actual newspaper, that’s what I want to do, but right now we’re not able to,” Silverstein said. As of now, the Jolly Roger is focused

on their online publication. “We keep writing the stories and we keep fixing it up and creating a package, they just have no where to send it to,” Silverstein said. “The biggest thing for me is the ability to share students opinions, share stories that need to be told, share news that needs to be talked about. The truth is it is a easier when it is words on a page and not words on a computer screen.” ♦

The December issue of The Jolly Roger was the last the paper was able to print before the district print shop closed.

by Jacob Swergold

’m an addict and I’m not ashamed to admit it. The first thing I do every morning is check surfline.com’s Ocean Beach Cam. For most of the year Ocean Beach is inconsistent at best, with infrequent swells and unfavorable winds. During the winter however, it comes alive. The cold air inland of the bay creates easterly winds, making the waves hollow. At the same time, the winter brings in large swells from the north and west. When these two variables align, Ocean Beach turns into cold water paradise. Lucky for me, these world-class waves are less than a half hour from my home in Mill Valley. With an explanation of my surf addiction to my counselor, I was able to arrange my schedule so that I’d have a free first period. This allows me to surf for a whole two and half hours before my first class on Tuesdays and Thursdays. As a surfer there’s a feeling you get when the waves are pumping. You feel like if you’re not out there, you’re missing out. If I’m not surfing I get anxious. My voice might tremble, I’ll tap my feet, and if I’m in school I’ll ask my teacher to go to the bathroom so I can watch the waves on the Surfline cam. No, I’m not a maniac, I just have a surfing dependency. I can’t sleep the night before a big swell. I toss and turn in my bed, knowing that in the morning I will be putting myself into a dangerous situation. My parents worry too, but they trust my experience in the ocean. It’s early November, usually

Junior Jacob Swergold, pictured in all three photos, surfs before school multiple days a week.

when some of the first big swells of the year start to hit. On this Tuesday morning my alarm clock goes off at 5:45 a.m. I’m already awake though. Butterflies in my stomach, I know that today has the potential to be really good. I scarf down half an avocado before heading out the door, with my backpack in one arm and my surfboard in the other. After checking the waves up and down the beach, at around 7 a.m. I get in the water. I know that paddle out is going to be brutal. To my surprise I’m out in the line up within 25 minutes. Today I get lucky and only took one 15 foot set on the head on my way out. Once I’m out there I marvel at the sun as it rises over the city. I look back towards Marin and think about how most of my classmates are probably on their way to school right now. I’m lucky enough to snag five or six good waves before I look down at my watch, which reads 9:05. I have to be in class in 40 minutes! I paddle in, change and start the car as fast as I can. The clock on the dash reads 9:20. I pull into a half passing parallel parking spot, in a ditch past the field house at 9:42. I know it’s going to be an all out sprint to class. Shoes in hand, I sprint through the BPL, acquiring many judgmental looks from my peers. Up three flights of stairs I slide through the door to my second period class just as the bell rings. As I sit in class, I can’t help but feeling like I just got away with something. It’s only 9:46 and my day is already made. This feeling of satisfaction helps me stay focused in school for the rest of the day. I’m not the only one who has noticed this phenomena. Junior Gary Griffis said, “I am totally awake when I get to school... Waking up at 5 in the morning to go surf is also easier than waking up at 7 for school because I want to get up and go surf.” Griffis also feels a bit neurotic when the waves are good. “I get super excited for the day to end so I can go straight to O.B.

Ph oto sc

ou r

g Jacob Swergold ictin dep nd fa yo tes


Surfing for Sanity


[Ocean Beach] and score,” he said. Maybe this extreme enthusiasm we have fuels us in the classroom. There also appears to be a direct correlation between surfing and GPA. Prior to 2016 I surfed roughly twice a week. However, in 2016 I surfed more than twice that much, sometimes up to three times a day. While one might expect my grades to plummet due to the mass amount of time spent in the water, the exact opposite occurred. In the 2016 fall semester my GPA was the highest it had ever been. Surfing almost everyday helped improve my overall happiness, in turn making school and homework more manageable. The correlation between the ocean and mood has been documented. According to Stanford University neuroscientist and psychologist Philippe Goldin, 70 percent of our bodies are water. Goldin said to the Santa Cruz Sentinel News, “There’s no lack of clarity that we came from the ocean.” Dr. Michael Merzenich, a professor of neuroscience at UC San Francisco, told the Sentinel “This evolutionary connection to the ocean explains some of its draw.” Pardon my occasional tardiness, and dripping wet hair, I’m doing this for my own betterment. Surfing helps improve my overall quality of life. In my case, there is a direct relationship between surfing and academic achievement. So the next time the wind turns offshore and the waves are big, you’ll know exactly where to find me. ♦

The Tam News — April 2017



Artist of the Issue:


Fiona Bransgrove by Marina Furbush


“Cityscapes and Men” 2016

enior Fiona Bransgrove is one of the many talented artists in the department. This year, she won Best in Show in the Youth in Arts Rising Stars’ Art Show, an art competition open to high school students in Marin. Her winning piece, “Cityscape and Men,” was constructed using pal“Man Contemplates About Toast.” Acrylic on canvas. 2016. ette knives and acrylic paint, Bransgrove’s signature technique. “Palette knives make me excited. My use of them equips me with the ability to drag paint across canvas in a way unlike a brush—it’s more like “There They Are!” Acrylic on canvas. 2016 frosting a cake,” Bransgrove said. “I concentrate on figures and texture through the use of abstraction. Texture is [integral] to my style because it brings my figures above the canvas, suggesting people are not stuck in a frozen moment. I started using palette knives during the end of my sophomore year, and “Oh shoot. Oh SHOOT, shoot!” Acrylic on so art up to that point has canvas. 2016. been quarantined under my If you want to get your hands on a bed.” Fiona Bransgrove original you may have to Currently, Branswait, but she’s open to the idea. grove is focused on acrylic “I’m not so much emotionally attached work for her AP portfolio, to my pieces as I am skeptical of splitting but she also creates using some of them up. For example, my face chalk, pen, and digital me- “Cityscape & Men.” Acrylic on canvas. 2016. paintings all go together...and my large Currently, Bransgrove doesn’t know cityscape paintings feel like a trilogy,” she diums. Between different what the future holds for her in terms of art. said. “I want them to be adopted together mediums, her style also differs. “Depending on the school I go next at this point, but that will probably change “I would definitely say that my acrylic year, there are different schools where I in the future because they’re too big to fit paintings have a looser, more abstract feel to them.” Bransgrove said. “With paint it’s might minor in art,” she said. “Because I comfortably under my bed.” ♦ easier to kind of convey space differently, do want to do more and with chalk I feel like I have to shadow traditional figure painting, like still and stuff. “This year I am adding more detailed in the same style, backgrounds, such as cityscapes, because but I want someI want to practice perspective surround- thing that’s directing my human figures,” she said. “[That] ed directly at figure means paying closer attention to light, di- painting with a live rection, and size while still employing an model, which I like the most.” abstract technique.”

April 2017 — The Tam News


Need a New Obsession? SKAM fits the bill. I

n recent weeks, a small but growing portion of the internet has become obsessed with a Norwegian teen drama called “Skam,” which documents the struggles, dreams, hookups, and hangups of a group of 16 and 17-year-old students. “Skam,” which translates to “shame” in English, is an easy binge-watch and one of the only high school series with mildly relatable characters. After finishing the series and realizing I hadn’t gotten out of bed in three days, I reflected on how American high school is portrayed in American television, and had a few questions. Where is the acne, the hormones, the long conversations, the silence, the bad angles, the promiscuity, and the vulgar language? Where is real life? “Skam” answers each of these questions with believable, flawed characters, that evolve and transform during full seasons dedicated to each of them. When it made its debut in September 2015, the series followed 16-year-old Eva, who had been ostracized by her friends and was navigating a rocky relationship with her boyfriend. The first episode became the most viewed NRK TV (a Norwegian government owned station) online episode of all time. While “Skam” continued to gain massive popularity throughout its second season, this time about strong-willed feminist Noora, it’s the third season that appears to have cemented “Skam”’s status as a progressive hit. Season three focuses on a storyline that has been bubbling over ever since the show’s pilot, where main character Isak is forced to come to grips with his sexuality. With pragmatic dialogue, natural acting, and visually impactful scenes, we get close both in a frame as well as emotionally to the characters, beginning to root for them even when


by Celeste Moore

they are at their worst. The shows strength is in its authenticity, the realness inside each tiny moment. Each conversation and issue faced takes a realistic amount of time, no matter how hard or uncomfortable they may be for the audience watch. The actors themselves seem to be unfazed by these sometimes racy or intense scenes; in fact they seem to be somewhat easy for the actors to portray, as they are conversations and moments that occur in real life. Aesthetically speaking, “Skam” is beautiful. The colors, lights, and soundtrack tell a story entirely on their own. The camera is never still. It moves along almost im-

itating a person’s gaze, which creates more realistic and hard hitting scenes. But beneath the LED lights and the perfectly helixed beanie hats, there is a drama that’s compelling without ever feeling like it’s falling over itself to deal with cliche teen issues. The series touches on important topics for its target group as well as the entirety of modern society, in an intelligent, straightforward and not cliched manner. The issues tackled feel authentic because they are presented sincerely. Julie Andem, “Skam”’s creator, spent half a year traveling around Norway, interviewing teenagers about their lives in order to make her characters as realistic as possible. To get strong performances from these characters, most of which were first-time actors, Andem auditioned 1,200 people and created their personalities only after she cast them. As she writes each episode, she uses feedback from the actors and viewers to maintain an authentic storyline. Off air, make-believe profiles on Instagram and Facebook allow fans to interact with their favorite “Skam” characters. According to Andem, “Skam” aims to reduce kids’ shame about partying, sexuality, loving those who don’t love you back, struggling on social media, and living life in general. “We found one main need,” she said. “Teenagers today are under a lot of pressure from everyone. Pressure to be perfect, pressure to perform. We wanted to do a show to take away the pressure.” “Skam” is playful when it comes to genre and style, with a mix of realism, drama and comedy; using humor to show that we all are human, we make mistakes. And it works. ♦

The Tam News — April 2017


Features our years ago, when senior Tre’chaun Berkley first came to Tam from Martin Luther King Jr. Academy, he was nervous. “I felt that I wasn’t ready. Coming from a class with 11 students to a class with 20 is something I had to get used to,” he said. “On top of that, [I worried about] not knowing how to speak with the people in my class, because I don’t speak as proper [as them], so they wouldn’t probably understand me or they would make fun [of] the way I say something,” he said. Berkley is not alone. Many students of color that come to Tam from Marin City experience societal and systemic hardships that disrupt their educational experience. We live in Marin County: the 17th wealthiest county in the country, and also one of the most segregated. This segregation manifests itself in what teachers and administrators call “the academic achievement gap.” According to the Glossary of Education Reform, an achievement gap is “any significant and persistent disparity in academic performance or educational attainment between different groups of students, such as white students and minorities, or students from higher-income and lower-income households.” This problem is very much alive in the Tam community. “The achievement gap correlates to socioeconomic status, and it is a countywide, statewide, and nationwide issue,” Sausalito Marin City School District (SMCSD) Board of Trustees President Joshua Barrow said. “This is not something new. It’s been around for decades.” Bayside Martin Luther King Jr. Academy (MLK) and charter school Willow Creek Academy (WCA) are both part of SMCSD. Mill Valley Middle School (MVMS) is part of the Mill Valley School District (MVSD). MLK and WCA teach students in grades K-8, while MVMS teaches students in grades 6-8. All three schools feed into Tam, and though they’re within four miles of each other, they couldn’t be more different. The aforementioned schools differ significantly in statewide testing results. Student skill,

knowledge, and achievement are largely measured by the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) scores. This test is given to students in grades 3-8 and 11. There is a large disparity in student performance when MLK and WCA are compared to MVMS. CAASPP determined that 77 percent of MVMS students are proficient in math, and 83 percent are proficient in English. In stark contrast, 25 percent of MLK students are proficient in math and 25 percent are proficient in English, well below the statewide average of 37 percent in math and 48 percent in English. WCA passed more students than the state’s average in both math and English, at 43 percent and 50 percent, respectively. CAASPP also reports that 82 percent of MLK students and 40 percent of WCA students are either African American or Hispanic. These two demographics perform the lowest in both math and English testing at Tamalpais High School. According to CAASPP, 31 percent of Hispanic students are proficient in math and 36 percent are proficient in English, while only 17 percent of black students are proficient in math and only 23 percent are proficient in English at Tam. These results are heavily influenced by both race and poverty, given that white Tam students from low-income families also receive significantly lower test scores when compared to the general population, but higher test scores than students of color. Only 3 percent of African American students attending WCA are proficient in math, and only 10 percent are proficient in English. Among low-income students, who make up 42 percent of WCA’s population, 23 percent are proficient in math and 35 percent are proficient in English. At MLK, 17 percent of black students are proficient in math and 14 percent are proficient in English. While these statistics highlight SMCSD’s shortcomings, they also show that there is a significant racial element to the achievement gap. The principal of MLK, Dr. Chappelle Griffin, did not respond to multiple email requests for comment. At Tam, multiple former MLK students said they felt under-served by the teachers at MLK. Freshman Tyrell Atkinson went to MLK from grades K-7, but transferred to WCA for the 8th grade. “I learned a lot in math and


y t i l a qu


April 2017 — The Tam News

Features English [at MLK], but in all the other [subjects] I didn’t,” Atkinson said. “The bad teachers let us do whatever we wanted, and we had a sub every week. [I received] average grades, even though I didn’t learn a lot from most teachers.” Atkinson said his school experience changed after he transferred. “At WCA they didn’t give us much homework like they did at MLK. The teachers were nice and taught us a lot. It was an improvement over MLK,” he said. Unlike Atkinson, sophomore Daeshawn Burr attended MLK for the entirety of his prehigh school education. “MLK was academically bad for me,” he said. “They weren’t teaching us some stuff that we needed to learn. When I came to Tam I felt underprepared.” Burr elaborated on his rough transition. “I had an F in [Algebra 1-2], both semesters last year,” he said. Although he admits that “I wasn’t pushing myself to do well,” he also added, “My [freshman math teacher] was kind of bad. She was all over the place. I went up to her to get help a few times, but she never helped me. I think she was probably busy.” Burr is now in Algebra Foundations. Tam Social Studies teacher Dr. Claire Ernst defended Tam, in response to Burr’s claim that he was underserved by a school instructor. “Our job is to teach all students and to differentiate [instruction] so every every student can learn and succeed,” she said. “Math poses a lot of challenges in that regard, but our math department in general does a great job. A lot of support is available for kids that need it.” However, Ernst does notice a pattern among the students who require the most ad-

ditional academic support. “Broadly speaking, students that have been through MLK come in with fewer skills,” she said. If a student is struggling, Ernst said she will “meet [the student] at tutorial, restructure assignments, break things into smaller pieces, [and] individualize attention during class.” Berkley, who came to Tam from MLK, also spoke about a rocky transition to high school. “I wanted to go [to MLK], because it was close to my house and in my neighborhood, [but] I didn’t feel prepared coming here from MLK,” he said. Berkley had a particularly challenging time upon arrival at Tam. “It was a bigger school and I didn’t know a lot of the students,” he said. Senior Jaiana Harris, who went to MLK and WCA, has also experienced a fair amount of alienation at Tam. “At MLK everyone’s black, but [at Tam] you feel like an outsider,” Harris said. Multiple African American students expressed outrage over how welcomed they were by the Tam athletic community, only to then be rejected come schooltime. “We are only important during sports, but when it comes to academics, they don’t care about us,” Harris said, as several nearby African American students chimed in with their agreement. “[Black students] are used for sports… and during the classroom, [there’s] no love for us,” Berkley added. Racial issues arise frequently at Tam, unbeknownst to many non-minority members of the community. “Students feel isolated, due to being black and alone in a class…You feel like you don’t belong,” Principal J.C. Farr said. At Tam, events

such as Breakthrough Day, which took place on February 27, can help the community unite to mend issues of racial segregation. However, many minority students felt that Breakthrough Day didn’t do enough. “I thought [Breakthrough Day] was a waste of time, because it was teachers running it instead of students, and all our teachers that ran it are white,” junior Pedro Mira said. Another issue, according to freshman Ta’Naejah Reed, was a widespread indifference expressed by white students during the day’s activities. “I felt [Breakthrough Day] was good, but people couldn’t really connect. If you weren’t colored or weren’t a different race you didn’t really connect to it and it wasn’t that important,” she said. Breakthrough Day may have catalyzed conversations about race at Tam, even though it evidently left plenty to be desired. Regardless, the Tam administration is actively exploring race and poverty, with regards to the achievement gap. “It’s a very complex issue,” Farr said. “Some of it is due to preparation and the quality of middle school education.” Farr went on to explain one problem in particular that MLK recently faced. “They went months without having a single math teacher for the 8th grade. Those who even receive instruction are greatly advantaged,” he said. Berkley has experienced firsthand MLK’s chaotic teacher turnover. “There were so many teacher switches at MLK. There were always new teachers and subs. It was confusing,” he said. Almost every former MLK student interviewed mentioned teacher turnover as a sub-

The Tam News — April 2017


Features stantial difficulty. SMCSD has had an ongoing problem with teacher turnover, especially as of late. “Sausalito Marin City is a revolving door district. Statistically, having good teachers is the most important thing, and there is definitely more turnover than you want to see,” Barrow said. Referring to MLK’s math teaching vacancy, Barrow said they had had a teacher lined up to fill the position, but he quit unexpectedly after a week. “I don’t know the reasons why he left. It could have been culture shock. Maybe he had another job lined up. It takes a special kind of teacher to operate in this environment,” Barrow said. “Money doesn’t drive the turnover. People just like to be involved in something successful.” The Shanker Institute reported significantly higher turnover rates at schools with a large disadvantaged population, compared to schools with a smaller disadvantaged population. When 34 percent or less of the student body qualifies for free or reduced-price lunch, teacher turnover rates average 12.8 percent per year. At schools where upwards of 75 percent of the students qualify for free or reduced-price lunch, teacher turnover rates nearly double, to an average of 22 percent per year. Acknowledging that “all teachers are special in their own right,” Barrow listed some of the qualities that make a person a good fit for working at MLK. “[They need a] desire to work with lowincome and minority students, cultural awareness and sensitivity, particularly with African American, Hispanic, and the many other ethnic groups we serve, [and the] ability to work in a small district which may not have the specialization, process maturity, systems, or support structures of a large district,” he said. In a research analysis report, the Center for Public Education corroborated Barrow’s analysis, suggesting that a good teacher is integral to student success. “Research consistently shows that teacher quality—whether measured by content knowledge, experience, training and credentials, or general intellectual skills—is strongly related to student achievement: Simply, skilled teachers produce better student results,” the organization reported. Tam has recently taken on an active role in trying to stop MLK’s teacher carousel. “[Math department teacher leader] David Wetzel was assigned to teach at MLK, part time, for the semester,” Farr said. “MLK, for over a year, did not have a math teacher, so I asked the school to let me go over there to teach math and they said yes. I have been teaching there [part time] since the start of the se-


April 2017 — The Tam News

mester,” Wetzel said. This is not the first time Wetzel has sought to help the academically challenged school. “Ten years ago, students coming [to Tam] from MLK were underperforming, so we started the MLK Math Transition Program, and MLK student’s performance went up,” he said. “Then SMCSD canceled the program, after three years, and performance went down again.” Wetzel and Barrow both said that they did not know why the program had been cancelled. Regardless, things are now looking up for MLK 8th graders, according to Wetzel. “The students are very grateful and positive now that they have a math teacher again. They are working very hard to learn as much material as possible,” he said. From SMCSD’s point of view, Barrow said, “The Wetzel situation is kind of like a band-aid. It’s a temporary fix.” Teacher pay could be a factor in SMCSD’s turnover problem, given that teachers at MVMS have a higher average salary than teachers MLK or WCA. However, it would appear that funding in general is not the main driving force behind the district’s poor academic performance. “On dollars per student, SMCSD is far ahead of MVSD, even after all of Kiddo’s contributions,” said Barrow. Kiddo, which Barrow is referring to, is a nonprofit founded in 1982 that funds all Mill Valley School District (MVSD) campuses, covering kids from kindergarten to 8th grade. In the 2015-2016 school year alone, Kiddo raised almost $3.5 million for the district. A vast majority of this money goes straight into the schools. Barrow is convinced that there are many other causes at play, unrelated to finances. “It’s not all about money. It’s about leadership, structure,

“Money doesn’t drive the turnover. People just like to be involved in something successful.” - Joshua Barrow



SMCSD’s discontent with Fiscal Crisis & Management Assistance Team’s (FCMAT) findings is to be expected, given that the report listed a variety of grievances against the district. However, these complaints were backed up by substantial evidence. Questionable management of funds was key to the investigation. “...Excessive [financial] contribution to the charter school comes at the expense of the district’s own school [MLK], which has many unmet needs,” the report stated. FCMAT did detail several monetary misconducts committed by the district, including not charging WCA for the facilities-related costs of out-of-district students. Twenty five percent of the WCA population does not live within the district’s boundaries. A charge for district outsiders is customary in many places, because if a family doesn’t pay taxes that directly support the school, another means of subsidizing their education may be required. The report also exposed some potential academic disadvantages that MLK has been dealt. For instance, there are no middle school teachers with single-subject credentials at MLK. The lack of qualified teachers is amplified by the fact that 13 percent of MLK teachers have less than three years of instruction, compared to WCA, where none face this inexperience. So what is the cause behind SMCSD’s seemingly unethical behavior? The FCMAT report said, “Leaders associated with WCA exercise significant control over the majority of the district’s governing board members, resulting in an excessively close relationship between the governance of the two entities and, more importantly a clearly biased financial arrangement that benefits WCA while harming the students of the district’s Bayside MLK school.” WCA lies in the city of Sausalito, a predominately white and affluent community, while MLK is in Marin City, a more impoverished, racially diverse area, home to the majority of Southern Marin’s low-income housing. The basis of the FCMAT report is that the SMCSD Board and administration played favorites with the two schools, and ultimately worked out a situation that supports the charter WCA more than the public MLK. “The budget comes from the Superintendent and the Chief Business Officer; we just approve it. This budget is formulaic, although the formula is heavily debated,”

Barrow said, in defense of the board. “It’s too simple to say that fixing the MLK gap should get all of the board’s attention, and WCA should get none.” Backing up Barrow’s claim is the fact that WCA has plenty of academic struggles itself. SMCSD, two months after the FCMAT findings were released, published their response to the report. With regards to the suggested spending bias towards WCA, the board wrote: “The per student funding from the District to WCA for 2016-2017, is $8,537 per ADA while the per student funding at Bayside MLK is budgeted at $20,053 per ADA.” The district also argued: “...roughly equal numbers of students from Marin City attend WCA and Bayside MLK with a tremendously diverse population. About 50 percent of WCA’s 400 enrolled students are also high need, which is more than the entire enrollment at Bayside MLK.” Although this is true, 84 percent of MLK students are high need, which is a lower number of students than at WCA, but a much higher percentage. FCMAT made a similar report on the district back in 2012, and 80 percent of those past recommendations have not been fully implemented by SMCSD. FCMAT’s 2012 work on the district seemed eerily similar to their 2016 investigation, as similar topics were pointed out as possible concerns in both reports, such as internal control, budget development, and personnel. Barrow, who was very familiar with the report, said, “Ninety-five percent of FCMAT’s findings aren’t controversial. Almost all of their recommendations were good ones.” On the trustee’s relationship with WCA, Barrow said, “Three of us on the board have kids at WCA, myself included. However, our lawyers looked at this and said there is no conflict of interest.” Barrow added: “No MLK parents have run for the board, in recent years.” Barrow and the board commit no legal violations, by virtue of having children at WCA. In fact, it’s pretty common for parents to be on local school boards. That being said, a potential problem is that all of their children go to WCA, and none go to MLK, which is still not illegal, but can be used as evidence against a school board suspected of bias. ♦

The Tam News — April 2017



consistency, and many other factors,” he said. “I wouldn’t say that Kiddo is why MVSD is doing so great. It helps, but it’s not primary, and I don’t know what they’re doing right, but I do know that they have [a greater] size and a [smaller] disadvantaged population.” Students who come from lowincome families face many academic obstacles. In their book about improving school performance, William Parrett and Kathleen Budge, both of whom have Ph.Ds in the educational field, wrote that “[Students living in poverty] may have limited access to high-quality day care, limited access to before-or after-school care, and limited physical space in their homes to create private or quiet environments conducive to study.” They also reported that economic privilege manifests itself early, and those who don’t have it suffer from the start. “...Substandard housing, inadequate medical care, and poor nutrition can affect the rate of childhood disease, premature births, and low birth weights, all of which affect a child’s physical and cognitive development,” they wrote. In addition to navigating potential stressors at home, many students reported struggling with an environment at MLK that they did not find conducive to learning. “It was so easy to get in trouble there. It’s a small classroom, with all of your friends. A lot of students in there were messing around and stopping the


April 2017 — The Tam News

class,” Berkley said. When faculty tried to intervene with students’ misbehavior, Berkley felt that it sometimes made things worse. “[I had an] English teacher [who] was too busy punishing kids that she didn’t teach us anything,” he said. Berkley was not the only MLK alum whose experience was marred significantly by feuds between the students and the adults. Many felt that the constant conflict hampered their ability to learn much at all. On the other end of the spectrum, MVMS alumna and current Tam sophomore Alexis Detjen-Creson said, “The school [MVMS] made sure that you did well. If you were struggling, the teacher would talk to you in private about getting your performance back on track.” Compounding the inequities between the two districts is the contrast in their sizes. Because MVSD has a massive population of around 3,400 students, compared to the relatively tiny SMCSD population of 540 students, it has more resources and can operate more efficiently. “[SMCSD] is one of the smallest [districts] in Marin. There are 19 school districts in the county. We need to fix that,” Barrow said. Barrow said a committee has formed to explore combining SMCSD and MVSD into one district. “To consolidate like this, you need to hold a vote on it. If it got through, the governing board and

the voters would be invested in improving Sausalito Marin City student’s performance. The community at large would be pushing for this betterment,” Barrow said. The community, in this case, would be families from Sausalito, Marin City, and Mill Valley, all working together to accomplish the same goal: improving academic success. The issue has not yet been brought to a vote; however, for the measure to pass, two-thirds of voters would have to approve it, a tall order for any bill. SMCSD has been subject to a fair amount of controversy as of late, primarily due to the release of a Fiscal Crisis & Management Assistance Team (FCMAT) report, an organization that investigates the financial status of local educational agencies. Published on August 10, 2016, the report concluded that: “The district has not met the needs of students at Bayside MLK, and the result is that students are underachieving.” More specifically, MLK students are scoring well below average in statewide testing, in addition to being outperformed by their own district counterpart: WCA. The assessment has since been disputed by SMCSD, who stated on their website that “The report was called into question by the Sausalito Marin City School District Board of Trustees, as it contained several factual inaccuracies and unfounded allegations.” The political controversy surround-


“The district has not met the needs of students at Bayside MLK, and the result is that students are underachieving.” ing SMCSD can distract from the most important issue: the well-being and success of the students. There are some external organizations that are actively helping out, such as Marin Promise, which aims to propel disadvantaged students through high school and into college. There has been an increased effort to improve student’s ninth grade math readiness, and Wetzel is currently working with the group to find solutions. Another group is Bridge the Gap College Prep, which is a “college preparatory and youth development organization that provides programming aimed at preparing Marin City students for college success,” according to their mission statement. The effectiveness of such programs cannot accurately be measured at this time, due to a lack of available information and statistics from said non-profits.

Barrow has made an effort to address the matter at an earlier grade level. “By high school, it’s too late to integrate low and high income students,” he said. Measure A, a bill that would have, among many other things, created low price or free preschool for underserved children in Marin County, failed in November. This was a great disappointment for Barrow, who was hoping to improve kid’s readiness for kindergarten. The Marin GOP was a staunch opponent of Measure A, due to a common conservative opposition to welfare expansion. This may have resulted in the failure of the bill, even in a predominantly liberal area. Granted, it’s best to confront the achievement gap with younger kids, but high schools still have to take responsibility for their role in the issue, according to Farr. “We are amping up transition

- FCMAT Report programs over the summer, to build up student’s skills,” Farr said. “[It has taken me] some time to try and develop an understanding of the situation.” Farr wants the Tam community to know that “We’re committed to addressing the achievement gap.” Despite facing many obstacles throughout his educational career, Berkley is now looking to move forward, via higher education. After looking into various options, he finally made his decision. “I’m going to go to a community college, then [I’ll] transfer into a university after two years,” Berkley said. Reflecting on his time in high school, he added, “For the future [minority] students [at Tam], I want to say look to be a leader, [not] a follower.” ♦

The Tam News — April 2017



EDITORIAL: In Defense of Teen Privacy


arin County Superintendent of Schools Mary Jane Burke sent an email to parents of Marin County public school students on March 15 warning parents of the dangers of teen drinking and drug use as prom and graduation season approaches. In her opinion piece attached to the email titled, “Parents Must Be The Voice for A Safe and Successful Future,” Burke mentioned an incident last summer involving a group of Marin teenagers on a party bus carrying hard alcohol, marijuana, and prescription drugs. She referenced this event as a reminder for parents to promote dialogue and establish boundaries with their children concerning drug and alcohol use. While the email addressed a legitimate problem in our community and

Burke’s call for honest parent-student relationships was clear, her advocacy of measures to invade students’ privacy seems counter-productive. One of Burke’s more questionable statements read, “Invading your child’s privacy is your job and your duty... whether it’s in cyberspace or the real world.” This statement is contradictory to another piece of Burke’s advice where she urges parents to “establish a level of trust [with your child].” How can teenagers be expected to nurture a trusting relationship with their parents, knowing that their privacy is being invaded? As teenagers transition into adulthood and learn to make new choices, it is crucial to have the privacy we not only need but also deserve. We have a

Crackin’ and Slackin’


April 2017 — The Tam News

right to explore independence and learn from our mistakes, just as parents have a right to intervene when necessary. Burke’s statement does not include limitations—nowhere does she specify the circumstances when invasion of privacy can be appropriate. Immediately following her statement about a parent’s duty to invade their child’s privacy, Burke wrote, “You could be the key to preventing a false move or tragedy.” She was right to point out that our community has faced tragedy as a result of adolescent alcohol and drug use. However, her leap from tragedy to invasion of privacy is a claim that appeals to parents’ emotions, rather than their substantial reasoning. While in some instances, looking at a child’s phone or social media has been helpful in preventing terrible situations, Burke’s conclusion is not an absolute. Perhaps it was meant to challenge the assumptions of parents who sometimes play the role of a friend more so than the role of a guardian. Nonetheless for most parents, Burke’s reasoning that invading a child’s privacy could lead to prevention of tragedy only serves as justification to act in a way that could actually counteract their goal of maintaining trust with their child. In many cases, it is more likely that a child with invasive parents will hide their personal encounters or keep more secrets, rather than establish an open and honest relationship with their parents. A teenager who feels that their right to privacy is being disrespected will be less receptive to dialogue about their drug and alcohol use. We often consider that parents can not trust their children, but how many teenagers can say they trust their parents, without fear of judgment or harsh consequence? Trust is something that must be earned, privacy is not. How families choose to discuss drug and alcohol use should be determined at their own discretion. To create open dialogue, both students and parents must come together and establish trust and rules in a respectful, fair environment that balances care with trust. ♦



The Teacher Club

hen we think of cliques, we think about high school students. But what about high school teachers? Many students at Tam are caught up in their own lives, oblivious to the social web created by the adults on campus. Students may be surprised to hear that the very same people who map out the periodic table or lecture about the French Revolution are also hanging out, eating dinner at each other’s houses, and having brunch on the weekends. Out of the 20 teachers interviewed for this article, all of them stated that defined social groups exist amongst staff at Tam. With assistance and insight from a few of Tam’s accomplished educators, I was able to get an inside look at teacher social dynamics. Whether they’re a part of social studies teachers Jon Hartquist and Aaron Pribble’s “all inclusive squad” of 15 teachers who eat lunch together in Wood Hall or just chat with science teachers Alyssa Sandner and Jennifer Brown in the science building, teachers congregate in social circles in every building. Math teacher Margie Brindley referred to “cliques” among teachers as a division. “In addition to how we are divided by department, I think that a lot of the teacher groups are determined by geography and where the classrooms are in accordance to one another… It could just be that we’re lazy and don’t want to walk all the way across campus [for lunch,]” she said. Several teachers agreed that many of the social groups are dictated by the geography of the classrooms as well as the departments they teach. “I know that I don’t really talk to teachers outside of the science department and those in the general area or building…I also know most of the teachers that started at Tam the same year [as I did],” science teacher Laura Valentine said. Another factor that contributes to the divides making up the teacher friend groups at Tam is that many teachers hang out with those who have been teaching at Tam for

by Emily Spears

the same amount of time. Those who have been here the longest and those who are new and aren’t as well known throughout the social web. “I’m more familiar with those that are temporary or joined the school more recently, like me,” English teacher Amanda Spaht said. “We eat lunch across the hall [in upper Keyser,] in the staff lounge.” On the other hand, Hartquist said, “These are some of my longest standing friendships,” primarily referring to the group of teachers that eats lunch in his classroom. Hartquist has been a teacher at Tam for 15 years. But are these long-standing friendships exclusive?

Many of the teachers who eat with Hartquist have known one another for several years, sharing nicknames, inside jokes, and teasing each other about their habits. “If you want to know the truth, it’s a place where people come to decompress about their day,” Hartquist said. The amount of time that these adults spend around teenagers who tend to be hormonal, moody, energetic, obnoxious, and everything in between is almost as much time as some of us spend with our friends. “It’s such a weird job; we spend so much time with you guys,” Hartquist said. “When we spend so much time with teens it makes it a weird job and it helps to talk about it at lunch…I like teaching, but that’s a large component of it, the social part. I like the people I work with.” I wondered how the excessive time around students impacts how teachers act around one another, and whether our adolescent immaturity rubs off on their daily lives and social habits. What I found is that the student behavior that teachers hush and criticize so often during class GRAPHIC BY NICOLE ANISGARD PARRA can be reflected in their own behav“I tend to hang out with the big group ior during lunch breaks when they hang in Hartquist’s room,” social studies teacher around people their own age. Dr. Claire Ernst said. “We always eat lunch “[Teachers] have nicknames, make fun in there. I certainly would like to think that of each other for little things that we do,” we are all-inclusive but I’m not sure wheth- Ernst said. “Teachers also text each other, er other teachers feel that way.” interrupt, be obnoxious, work on unrelated The friend group mentioned by Ernst things…which is all behavior we do see in is one of the most well-known groups, con- students every day.” sisting of those who eat lunch in room 152 So, students, pay attention and you’ll in Wood Hall, Hartquist’s room. This group notice how we aren’t the only ones with includes teachers from a variety of differ- specific social groups. It’d be interesting ent departments, including counselors, too. to join the lunch squad in room 152…if I However, teachers from the science and art were allowed. I’m not sure what this social department rarely show up. dynamic says about human nature or our “Many of the people that eat in my tendency to spend time with people simiroom have been doing it for almost 15 lar to ourselves, but hopefully this provides years now, a lot of different people...and, some insight as to how our teachers aren’t you know, it changes all the time…I think really that different from students. that the word on the street is that we’re an I asked Hartquist why he thought exclusive group, but I think that’s incor- teachers tend to gravitate toward his room. rect,” Hartquist said. “We would never He replied, “We are the coolest ones here… shut anyone out.” no I’m totally kidding.” ♦

The Tam News — April 2017



Wait Your Turn by Grace Bell & Connor Norton


s seniors, we have spent three years waiting to park in the Back Parking Lot (BPL). We have trekked from past the field house, braved the consequences of parking in the teacher lot, and arrived at school just as the sun rises to get as close to the BPL as possible. We’ve waited our turn. We’ve stayed outside of the BPL fences, even when it meant parking what seemed like miles away, and when a sorry student violates the senior’s right to the BPL, their car has suffered the consequences. We’ve continued to uphold and abide by this Tam custom, not only out of respect, but because we have to. Not only is it custom, it’s the rules. In order to be allowed to park in the BPL, you must have a permit. There are a finite amount of permits for students, and seniors get priority. Therefore, if there are more seniors than permits, only seniors will get the permits to park there. This tradition isn’t just some frivolous idea that has followed graduating class after graduating class, it’s supported by the Tam administration. This adds validity to the custom, which should not be ignored. When someone disrespects a tradition, it’s inevitable that there will be backlash. When juniors or sophomores park in the BPL, it is almost guaranteed that their car will be messed with. When we say messed with, we are not attempting to trivialize vandalism. What is done to these few un-

lucky cars wrongfully parked in the BPL is not vandalism. Vandalism, according to California law, is defined as, “Maliciously defacing, damaging, or destroying somebody else’s property.” Odd parts found in the BPL or a senior’s trash from lunch is placed somewhere on the car. Trash cans box the car in. All one has to do is remove the trash or roll away the trash cans. While it’s definitely inconvenient, it’s not hurting the car and seems a far cry from vandalism. Some may argue that while these acts aren’t vandalism, they’re disrespectful to the owner of the car. Respect goes both ways; it must be earned. When you disrespect a tradition or people, you can’t expect to have this go unnoticed. To actively disrespect the entire senior class, who have waited their turn to park in the BPL, and not expect retaliation, is both ignorant and naive. People who park somewhere they know they’re not supposed to, and who park there

in defiance of a tradition, and school rules, must realize the risk they are taking. They know their cars will get messed with–– stories passed down from class to class let us know of these repercussions––yet it doesn’t dissuade them. Those willing to take this chance, knowing what they know, shouldn’t be upset when the inevitable happens. This custom shouldn’t create any conflict in our school. It’s simple enough to follow and incredibly predictable. To those who don’t want their cars messed with, don’t park in the BPL. There is no loophole, no junior or sophomore that is the one exception. If you aren’t a senior or part of the Tam staff, you have no right parking in the BPL during school hours. We don’t condone the harassment that occurs when students take it too far but we support the underlying principles of this senior tradition. Do what every respectful Tam student has done before you and wait your turn. ♦


Heard in the Tam Hallways 18

“Is a period the same as a menstruation cycle?” -Science Building

April 2017 — The Tam News

“That movie was almost as messed up as your eyeliner job.”

-Girls’ Locker room

“I’m not a rebel,i’m just a bad student.”

-Lower Keyser


Stay off our Tail(pipes) M

entioning the lack of parking in the Back Parking Lot (BPL) at Tam is sure to spark heated conversation. And if seniors hear that a junior is parking in the BPL, watch out, you’ve got yourself a fire. Yes, I get that it is a tradition that seniors park in the BPL. It’s a school rule; a right of passage gained with time. Seniors feel they have waited their turn, and it’s their right. As a junior at Tam who acknowledges that the BPL doesn’t even have enough parking for the senior class, I agree that seniors should be the only ones parking in the BPL. What I don’t agree with is how seniors take it upon themselves to deal with the sophomores and juniors who park there. For any non-senior who parks in the BPL, food on your windshield or trash cans blocking your car could be what awaits your return at the end of the school day. However, these acts aren’t a surefire way to stop juniors from parking in the BPL. For seniors who simply want a place to park in the morning like they have been promised for three years, there are real solutions to the problem.

“I know White House staff looking for people just like you!”

-Student Center

by Maddie Asch

Since non-seniors are breaking the rule by parking in the BPL, the best solution for seniors would be to report the wronglyparked car or its owner to the administration. Assistant Principal Leah Herrera said, “We go to the [reported] student’s class and we pull them out…and make them move [their car].” If the non-senior continues to park in the BPL, administration will get parents involved. There it is: a simple, non-hateful solution to seniors’ problems that will actually have the desired effect of giving them more parking space. So why aren’t students using it? Whether seniors are unaware of the option or just don’t care, their actions in the BPL can only have the effect of publicly humiliating the rule-breaking junior or sophomore. Even though that student should not park there and seniors have every right to be angry, they are still being, simply put, mean, and breaking the law. I often hear seniors say that a non-senior was “asking for it” by parking in the BPL because they already knew their car would be messed with if they did. When did treating someone badly become okay if that person expects the bad treatment? I wholeheartedly agree that nonseniors who park in the BPL, knowing they shouldn’t be

“I got that new TV remote that you can speak into.Now I have someone to talk to at night.”

-Upper Keyser

doing so, are very annoying. However, just because a non-senior is aware of the possible consequences to their car, doesn’t give seniors a valid excuse to then mess with that car as they please. The senior class as a whole shouldn’t support that senior’s actions any more than they do the actions of the badly parked student because all students in this situation are acting insensitively, and all are breaking school rules. Earlier this year two senior boys found a car parked in the BPL belonging to a junior girl. They dumped garbage all over her car, stuck a broom in the exhaust pipe, threw a mat on the hood, and blocked the car in with shopping carts. The seniors received a suspension for their actions. Whether this punishment is fair or not, people cannot blame the junior for the seniors’ suspensions, as she did not force them to mess with her car. They chose to mess with her car. Nobody else is at fault for their actions. As seniors about to graduate, they need to take responsibility for their own actions, which includes accepting any punishment they receive for doing something they knew was punishable. Now, if they had just acted morally and reported the license plate number and car description to the administration in the first place, then they could have avoided all consequences. The junior who absolutely should not have parked in the BPL would be the one getting in trouble, as she deserves, and they wouldn’t have had to deal with any punishment. Should a junior park in the BPL, break school rules, and ignore a valued Tam tradition? No. Should a senior mess with a junior’s car, break school rules, and excuse their actions because of that same tradition? Definitely not. ♦

“What happened to the Annoying Orange?” “He became president.” -Library The Tam News — April 2017


Sports Opinion

Physical Education: Unecessary for Student Athletes by Kennedy Cook & Arya Guinney


hysical Education (P.E.) is a two-year required course for every student that attends Tam. It has two components—one that encompasses the information a student would learn in a health class and a second, composed of the physical exercise itself. Students regularly try to find ways out of P.E. in order to free up their schedules. Some elect to take a physical education course online, a selection that is now rarely allowed by the counseling department and forces students to pay for their course. P.E. is redundant for studentathletes. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the recommended amount of physical activity a day is 60 minutes. If students play a sport, they are already fulfilling the CDC’s recommended time through a practice or game five days a week. Over 800 students participate in Tam Athletics, not including club teams such as mountain biking or sailing. All of these students are currently required to take two years of P.E. for graduation. Some argue that playing a sport deprives students of crucial information taught in the health section of P.E. There are several options to remedy this, one of which is incorporating the health curriculum taught in P.E. into Social Issues, a required class for freshmen. Another option is to add a unit to Integrated Science, a required course for all freshmen and sophomores, covering health and nutri-

tion. The integration of health and nutrition curriculum into science or social studies classes would guarantee that each and every student, including those who are unable to participate in P.E. due to disability or have been accepted to take the course online, would still learn the crucial health information. In addition, it would allow students who play sports to take additional

classes that will benefit them academically. Since P.E. does not count as an academic course and has no effect on a student’s academic GPA, students also would be more inclined to learn and absorb the information if this it was taught within a course that influenced their academic grade. One counter argument is the possibility of students taking advantage of the system by claiming that they will participate in a sport in order to get out of P.E. but not following through. In order to prevent such an action, there should be a staff member, such as the Athletic Director, in charge of making sure students who are opting out of P.E. are involved in an applicable sport. The P.E. requirement would not be waived until that students sport season has finished. While there are some potential problems that arise when assigning someone to enforce the requirement of a sport to opt out of P.E. Tam can follow the models of schools that have adopted this policy to work out any kinks that may occur. If the school board were to approve this idea and waive P.E. for student-athletes, following the footsteps of several Southern California school districts and nearby private school Marin Catholic, students would have the option to take more classes. Tam needs to listen to its students and remove the requirement of P.E. for student-athletes. This arrangement would make the students, and consequently the entire Tam community, healthier and happier. ♦ GRAPHIC BY NICOLE ANISGARD PARRA


131-14 20

March2017 April 2017——The TheTam TamNews News

Score of boys’ varsity swimming’s victory over Marin Catholic on March 17.


Number of races won by the mountain biking team out of the first three races in the season.


Athlete of the Issue: Isobel Wright by Sophia Venables

Senior Isobel Wright, a track and field high jumper, recently commited to Wesleyan University. PHOTO BY ETHAN SWOPE


enior Isobel Wright will be a part of the Wesleyan University track team as a high jumper come next fall. Wright attributes her passion for high jump to joining track in eighth grade. “[The Mill Valley Middle School track coaches] made you try all the events, so I kind of got dropped into high jump, and it just clicked,” Wright said. She continued on to excel at high jump, and is currently attempting to break Tam’s school record, which has been 5’3” since 1978. “I want to jump well for [Coach] Jess [Poulin], who’s put a ton of time into training me,” Wright said. “She dedicates a lot of time to helping the high jumpers on the [Tam] track team, so I want to do it for her, and to score points for the team.” In order to achieve that goal, Wright, with the help of Poulin, developed a routine she executes with each jump. “Right before, I just try to focus on my technique–what I need to work on in the

jump. Then as soon as I step onto the mark, Jess just wants me to clear my mind and don’t think about anything,” Wright said. This routine led Wright to place second in the North Coast Section Championship last year, and she plans to carry what she has learned from Poulin into her college high jump career. By her sophomore year, Wright’s love of competing in high jump inspired her to look into college track teams. “I looked at how high I jump compared to other jumpers on that [college] team, to see if I could possibly stand out to the coaches,” Wright said. “Then I emailed the coaches in the winter of my junior year, and went out to the East Coast, to look at all the colleges, in the spring.” While at each school, Wright took a campus tour, attended an informational meeting, and then interviewed with the track coach. She toured mainly small, liberal arts schools, as that was her original college goal even before looking to compete on a track team. Wright said that as she conducted her college search, her original college criteria synchronized perfectly with Division III schools, where the chances of her being recruited for high jump improved. During her visit to Wesleyan, the amiability of the track coach stood out to Wright. “[Coach Walter Curry] spent an hour and a half with me actually– gave me a whole tour of the facilities, then interviewed me,” she said.

“He was very supportive of me. He said, ‘We understand that academics come first, we’re not a DI school where it’s sports first.’” After that visit in April of 2016, Curry requested Wright’s transcripts and test scores. At a DIII college, athletes are not directly recruited, but rather the coach agrees to support an athlete’s application through the admissions process. This was the case for Wright, who was accepted early decision into Wesleyan in December. Outside of the Tam track season, Wright stays in shape with consistent weight training and running workouts, which she attributes to her in-season successes. Along with working to break the school record, Wright also enjoys simply being a member of the Tam track team and its camaraderie. “I really like the community–the people on track. Everyone is so nice, and really supportive,” she said. ♦


Check the Tam News online (www.thetamnews.org) for brisk and bold sports coverage.


Undefeated record of coed track and field team as of March 27.

Winning score of the girls’ softball team against Novato on March 27.

The TheTam TamNews News——March April 2017



A New Perspective: Oaxaca, México By Diana Sosa Ruíz & Translation by Maddie Asch

ola, yo soy Diana, una de las tantas estudiantes de Tam. Tengo 16 años. Yo vengo de Oaxaca, México. Mi idioma es el espanol. Yo estoy estudiando mi segundo año en Tam. Vine aquí para estudiar y aprender el inglés ya que yo soy nacida aqui y me gustaria saber este idioma. Llevo viviendo aquí 10 meses y Tam me está ayudado a aprender el inglés y a conocer amigos que me ayudan. A ellos estoy muy agradecida. Lo más difícil de aquí al llegar era el idioma, porque no me podía comunicar con nadie. Lo que me gusta de Tam es que es una escuela con todo el material necesario para tener una buena educación, y tiene una bonita vista. Yo llegue de Mexico y pues la escuela en la que yo iba era muy pequeña. Eramos muy pocos estudiantes así que cuando llegue aqui y vi la escuela por primera vez senti emocion, un poco de confusión, y miedo. Algo que me cueste de Tam es la clase de historia porque yo no sé gran cosa de la historia de estados unidos. Pero las demás clases son parecidas. Lo que se me hacía algo extraño es que cada mañana puedo poner la ropa que quisiera. En México tenemos un uniforme que llevamos todos los días, si no ibas con el uniforme no te permitian el paso. Lo chistoso para mi fue que aquí pueden venir con pijamas, o la ropa que deseen. Otra cosa que es muy diferente es la comida, claramente cada lugar va a dar diferentes comidas comunes. Una de las grandes diferencias es que aquí no comen picante como en México. Es algo triste para mi que no encuentro la comida como la quiero aunque vaya a un restaurante mexicano. De la comida mexicana a mi me gustan unas famosas “memelitas” (tortillas de maiz con queso fresco “manteca” y salsa acompañada con aguacate y una rica taza de café) que mi mamá las preparaba muy bien. También me gusta el mole, una comida tradicional muy famosa y rica. En México las personas preparan sus alimentos como su pan, sus tortillas, y la carne. Tal vez es raro para las personas de aquí pero personas consiguen su propia carne para comer. Y si la compran las personas matan a los animales en sus granjas. En México personas que cosechan sus cosas que vayan a necesitar y aqui los venden casi hechos. Lo que me sorprendió un poco al llegar aquí es que todas las casas están demasiado juntas. Siempre ves una tras otra y es interesante como es que se acostumbran a vivir así. En donde yo vivo en México las casas son muy amplias y son muy diferentes a las de aquí. En México podríamos tener un grande jardín y unos cuantos animales. Allá el espacio es muy grande que hasta puedes jugar soccer con tus amigos y aquí no. Aquí es necesario salir de tu casa e ir al parque para jugar. Una cosa que me gusto al venir y que me sorprendió mucho fue el puente Golden Gate. Tiene una hermosa vista. Yo no vivía cerca de la playa entonces al llegar aquí fue algo muy lindo, aunque el frío aquí es mucho para mi. Pero ya me estoy acostumbrando aquí, ya le estoy entendiendo más del inglés. Me gusta Marin pero aveces es dificil porque estoy lejos de mi familia. Espero estar mucho tiempo en este lugar. ♦ GRAPHIC BY NICOLE ANISGARD PARRA


April 2017 — The Tam News


i, I’m Diana, one of the many students at Tam. I’m 16 years old. I am from Oaxaca, Mexico. I speak Spanish. I am a sophomore at Tam. I came here to study and learn English because I was born here and I would like to learn this language. I have been here for 10 months and Tam is helping me learn English and meet friends that help me. I’m very grateful to them. The hardest thing upon arriving was the language, because I couldn’t communicate with anybody. What I like about Tam is that it’s a school with all of the needed materials for a good education and it has a nice view. The school I came from in Mexico was very small. There were very few students there, so when I arrived here and saw the school for the first time I felt excited, a little confused, and scared. Something hard for me at Tam is history class, because I don’t know much about U.S. history. But most of the other classes are similar. What was a little weird for me is that every morning I can wear the clothes I want. In Mexico, we have a uniform we wear everyday. If you didn’t wear the uniform, they didn’t let you enter the school. The funny thing for me was that here, a student can come to school in pajamas, or whatever clothes they want. Another thing that is different is the food, obviously every place is going to have different popular foods. One of the big differences is that here people don’t eat spicy food like they do in Mexico. It’s somewhat sad for me that I can’t find the food how I want it, even if I go to a Mexican restaurant. From Mexican food, I like the famous “memelitas” (corn tortillas with fresh cheese “manteca,” with salsa and avocado, and a delicious cup of coffee) that my mom makes very well. I also like “mole,” a famous traditional food that is delicious. In Mexico, people prepare their own bread, tortillas, and meat. Maybe it’s weird for people here, but people get their own meat to eat. And if they buy it, people kill the animals on their farms. In Mexico, people harvest the things that they are going to need and here they are sold almost made. What surprised me a little upon arrival is that all of the houses are way too close. You always see one behind the other and it’s interesting how people get used to living like this. Where I live in Mexico the houses are very spacious and very different from the ones here. In Mexico we could have a big garden and some animals. There is so much space in the yard that you can even play soccer with your friends, but here you have to leave your house and go to the park to play. One thing I liked that surprised me was the Golden Gate Bridge. It’s has a beautiful view. I didn’t live close to a beach so coming here was beautiful, even though it’s cold here for me. But I’m already getting used to here, I’m already understanding more English. I like Marin, but sometimes it’s hard because I’m far from my family. I hope to stay here for a long time. ♦ Photo Courtesy of Diana Sosa Ruíz


The Tam News Thanks Its Patrons Alamin Family Alessandra Nociaro Alexandra Parra Allen & Lisa Preger Allen Family Alpana & Mahesh Kharkar Amy Zimpfer Ana Levaggi Andrea & Jerry Lane Andrew & Joanna Findlay Ann Mitchell Ryan Anna Ogino Annette Friskopp Annie Lazarus Antonette Greene Arya Guinney Avery Conybeare Barbara Rubens Barbara Sobel & Jonathan Rubens Barrett Nichols Barth Family Beth Inadomi & Tim Newell Betsy Beros Beverly Coughlin Bill Lampl Birgitta Danielson Bishop Family Blackburn Blake Sgamba Bryce Goeking Carnevale Family Cathy Chapman Chavez Family Chris Holden-Wingate Christopher Gate Cynthia Koehler and Gordon Cynthia Samson Cynthia Stone Dana Pepp Daniel & Judy Katsin David & Elaine Freed David & Nancy Bishop David Tarpinian Dawn Dobres & Eric Swergold Debbie & Ed Faubel Diane Worley

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If you want to become a patron of the Tam News or advertise with the publication, please contact calvin@thetamnews.org. The Tam News — April 2017


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Volume XII, Issue No. VII - April 2017

April 2017 — The Tam News