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th e tam news

Public school is for everyone. Tam’s academic programs may not be.

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JUNE 2019





Student-Led Walkout Protests Abortion restrictions

6 7

girls of BSA

news 4-7

lifestyles 8-11


23 24

Bernstein wins Coach of the YeaR

editorial: sorry about that

21 22

a plea for mathematics


19 20

the reality of ramadan

senior season

10 12

breakthrough day is worth doing well

unofficial attendance policy violates california education code

8 9

Tarp’s end of an era

sOAR and leadership organize 2019 breakthrough day



features 12-18

op/ed 19-23

sports 24-26

Dear Reader, One of the unique aspects of our school community is every student’s ability to find a way for them to express their own voice and learn how to define themselves as individuals. But this intensive sense of identity brings with it unintentional isolation and oppression. Various high-performing extracurricular programs give our school its personality, but they are not necessarily accessible to all students. In his featured article, “Exclusive,” Milo Levine examines five major extracurricular activities on campus and the diversity of students — or lack thereof — on their rosters. Sparked by events in the community, our first editorial, “Sorry About That,” analyzes the various ways hate speech should be covered and talked about. With regard to recent administrative action, our second editorial, “It’s Not All Fun and Games,” explores the dangerous student tradition of the “scavenger hunt” and the way in which the responsibility falls on everyone, students and staff, to be proactive in preventing the actions that take place that night. This issue takes a critical look at some of Tam’s shortcomings and at some of the ways they can be mitigated. When it comes to making our school a more inclusive place, we all have to take part in finding a solution.

Kara Kneafsey

Editors in Chief Leah Fullerton • Kara Kneafsey Skye Schoenhoeft • Josie Spiegelman Benjy Wall-Feng News Jessica Bukowski • Logan Little Johanna Meezan • Samantha Nichols Ethan Swope Lifestyles Ian Duncanson • Chloe Gammon Emily Stull • Natalia Whitaker Beckett Williams Features Tahlia Amanson • Claire Conger Claire Finch • Mikyla Williams Niulan Wright Opinion Samantha Ferro • Sophia Martin John Overton • Lucas Rosevear Tenaya Tremp Sports Paige Anderson • Eli Blum Jordan Cushner • Sam Jefferson Marco Steineke Website Paige Anderson • Claire Finch Saranyu Nel TBN Charlie Boyle • Saranyu Nel

guess the graduating advanced journalism senior! 5.




Business Team Ian Duncanson • Dylan Layden Sophia Martin • Lucas Rosevear Adviser Jonah Steinhart Printer WIGT Printing





Tamalpais High School 700 Miller Avenue Mill Valley, CA 94941

Reporters Benjamin Adelson • Lukas Affeltranger Scarlett Ames • Jada Andrews • Saad Bham Isabella Bauer • Colin Bender • Nikita Bogdanov Charles Boyle • Bryan Cardenas • Cooper Carroll Chelsea Catarozoli • Olivia Chamberlain Griffen Chen • Trysten Church • Danika Clifford Gabriel Contreras-Mendez • Kennedy Cook Zoe Cowan • Ben Daly • Steviana Dunn Joseph Duran • Emily Dvorson • Erin Edgar Isabella Faillace • Pamela Ferrety Aviles Luke Ferris • Ava Finn • Hudson Fox Christopher Giron • Stephiana Glass • Sam Glocker Leopold Grava • Madeline Grenville Jeremiah Griff • Zev Grossman Charles Guice • Grace Gustafson John Halloran • Jacob Halvorsen • Fletcher Hessel Henry Hoelter • Julian Holden Ian Jamison • Connor Jenkins • Jissell Kruse Conor Kuczkowski • Liza Lachter • Mary Lasher Dylan Layden • Lola Leuterio • Elan Levine Milo Levine • Tomas Ludin • Kevin Marks Joshua McGuinness • Zion McKinley Jake McLaughlin-Voien • Olivia Merriman Cal Mitchell • Lina Mizukami Ilaria Montenecourt • Khadija Nakhuda Oona O’Neill • Sean Oliver • Katharine Owen Andrew Parker • Ethan Parker • Ike Perl Cal Petersen • Toby Petersen • Colin Post Kaveh Pourmehr • Julian Reiss • John Rosai Ethan Rosegard • Sadie Rosenthal Charlie Rosgen • Quinn Rothwell Cassandra Ruark • Meya Saenz Zagar Kevin Satake • Isabella Schneider Tessa Schumacher • Camille Shakirova Adrian Shavers • Sam Shern • William Simonton Olivia Smith • Summer Solomon • Emily Spears Ben Stoops • Sawyer Strain • Nyima Tamang Aura Terrell • Lauren Terry • Aidan Toole Max Traverso • Brendan Treacy • Maxwell Tripp Michael Umolo • Dessie Vartholomeos Elias Verdin • Lola von Franque Casey Walls • Daisy Wanger • Christopher Ware Katya Wasserman • Xavier Williams Emily Winstead • Isabelle Winstead Ethan Wynne-Perry • Aaron Young Volume XIII, No. IX June 2019 A publication of Tamalpais High School Established 1919

Editorial Board Kennedy Cook • Ava Finn • Leah Fullerton • Jissell Kruse • Lola Leuterio • Elan Levine Milo Levine • Skye Schoenhoeft • Camille Shakirova • Josie Spiegelman • Benjy Wall-Feng



16. 4.



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 © 2019 by The Tam News. All rights reserved. Reproduction is prohibited without written consent.

Answers 1. Isabella Bauer 2. Aaron Young 3. Jissell Kruse 4. Lola Leuterio 5. Emily Spears 6. Griffin Chen 7. Ephets Head 8. Rocky Brown 9. Max Goldberg 10. Ethan Wynne-Perry 11. Kennedy Cook 12. Zoe Cowan 13. Milo Levine 14. Ava Finn 15. Cal Mitchell 16. Charlie Rosgen






SOAR and Leadership Organize 2019 Breakthrough Day By Saranyu Nel and Samantha Glocker


tudents Organized Against Racism (SOAR) and the Associated Student Body (ASB) held Breakthrough Day, a series of seminars and events aimed to cultivate school-wide discussion about racism and local racial issues, during an extended tutorial period on Wednesday, May 22. Each grade took part in a different activity. Freshmen spent their final advisory meeting participating in an added short seminar led by Link Leaders who had been trained by SOAR that morning. Sophomores were broken up into five groups, watched parts of the film I’m Not Racist … Am I?, and discussed a variety of topics in response to the film, such as the definition of racism, and debated a state-


The Tam news

ment from the film that “all white people are racist.” Academic workshop teacher and Black Student Union (BSU) adviser Angela Hopper and SOAR adviser and social studies teacher Dr. Claire Ernst wrote a grant to receive funding from the PTSA to showcase the film. “There are a lot of requirements,” Ernst said. “The facilitators [teachers and students] went through a six-hour training session to be able to present the film.” The junior class participated in a pop culture and racism workshop organized by SOAR students in collaboration with Leadership. Junior class officers were trained to facilitate discussions. According to senior class president and SOAR member JayJuan

Radford, students of color in the junior class did not have to participate in any of the events. However, they could attend a summit where they received a workshop for students of color only. According to a Tam News

survey of 157 students who attended Breakthrough Day, about 26.8 percent of respondents said they had no students of color in their Breakthrough Day workshop. Breakthrough Day was optional for seniors because

News SOAR did not have enough time and resources to prepare events for them, according to Ernst and Radford. However, if they chose, they could go to a freshman, sophomore, or junior presentation. “In an ideal world we would’ve had something for them to do but we just didn’t have the resources,” Ernst said. Opinions on Breakthrough Day differed from student to student. “The [statement] ‘All white people are racist’ means that all white people have those known stereotypes that’s against people of color. It’s a known fact. The people of color can’t be racist because it’s ‘Racism equals Prejudice plus Power,’’ Radford said. Sophomore Marco Lizarraga said, “I don’t think it

was good at teaching us about race, relations and what not. And I thought that a lot of the statements were kinda racist … They assumed that all white people have racial prejudice against people of color. And they based that solely on skin color, and that’s obviously a bit ironic because you’re discriminating someone by their race … There are poor white people, [there are] white people who actually aren’t in power.” According to the survey, about 50 percent of students agreed that the content presented on Breakthrough Day was “comprehensive and relevant.” Radford said, “We are definitely going to have another Breakthrough Day next year but also mini workshops that are leading up to it.” The original Break-

through Day took place on February 27, 1967 as a walkout led by students of color that eventually became a teach-in and discussion about race. The walk-out was prompted by several race riots that had taken place on the Tam campus. The 50th anniversary of the event was held on February 27, 2017; however, it wasn’t continued the following year. “The initial idea two years ago was to honor [the first Breakthrough Day] ... but also restart the work,” Ernst said. Tam students assembled in Gus Gym to celebrate the original event and watched a presentation from a guest speaker/rapper and several student performances. However, the event also received negative feedback from some students who be-

lieved the topics discussed were too vague, and that while presenters emphasized the importance of working together to create racial understanding, they never outlined a clear plan for doing so. The 2017 Breakthrough Day was also organized by the administration. “Students didn’t want adults telling them what to do and think,” Ernst said. “So it was really important for SOAR that this Breakthrough Day was student-driven.” “The intention of Breakthrough Day wasn’t to ‘solve’ racism,” SOAR member and freshman Ruby Rose Amezcua said. “It was to start the conversation around racism and to acknowledge the separation of experience that happens with students of color and white students at Tam.”♦️

A Tam News survey of 157 students asked respondents to describe the extent of their agreement with each of five statements about Breakthrough Day. GRAPH BY BENJY WALL-FENG

The tam news



Student-Led Walkout Protests Recent Abortion Restrictions By Samantha Ferro with additional reporting by Claire Conger and Paige Anderson


ophomore Grace Newman led a women’s rights walkout to protest recent anti-abortion legislation in front of the arches on Friday, May 31 during fifth period. The walkout, which about 100 students attended, began at 8:20 a.m. and ended at 8:45 a.m. The protest was in response to recent abortion restrictions across the country. “Heartbeat bills,” which ban abortion six weeks into the pregnancy or roughly when a fetal heartbeat can first be detected, have


The Tam news

passed in Georgia, Mississippi, and Louisiana within the past year. “People were talking about the things that are going on in other states regarding abortion bans and I just think it’s so important that women and men here understand that just because we’re not directly being affected by the laws that are happening right now, that doesn’t mean we don’t have a part in making a difference,” Newman said. “[It] doesn’t mean we don’t need to stand in solidarity with women all over the world whose rights are being affected because we are all part of the same community.” Sophomores Nancy Hoang and Jake Cohen helped to lead chants for the crowd.

“Us females, we know this is a problem so why would we just sit back and let these people makes these decisions?” Hoang said. “Why do we think we’re obligated to be quiet because it isn’t ‘ladylike,” no! I don’t care if its ladylike or not. I’m still gonna yell, I’m still gonna fight. They can’t do anything about it because at the end of the day, it’s our bodies and our choice.” Newman hopes to create a club on campus to continue the conversation regarding women’s rights. “I think it’s important just to spread the message that it’s our generation’s job to make a difference in office and we need to vote these people out. We need to fight back. There are no set plans yet, but in the future I want to start a group to empower girls and fight for [the] rights of those that don’t have the basic rights we do,” Newman said.♦



Unofficial Attendance Policy Violates California Education Code 46012


By Kennedy Cook and Lola Leuterio

am adopted an unofficial attendance policy at the beginning of the 2016-17 school year to limit adult students to 10 self-excused absences, after which they must be excused by a parent or guardian, making the attendance policy in conflict with the California Attendance Code. A student who is 18 or older may explain and excuse their own absences with the attendance office. A valid excuse such as illness or a doctor’s appointment must be provided whether it is a student or a parent or guardian requesting that the absence be excused. Attendance clerk Barbara Borruso said she was instructed to enforce the new policy by former assistant principal David Rice. Although principal J.C. Farr would not admit the existence of such a policy, dozens of seniors interviewed said that they had been prevented from excusing themselves more than 10 times in a semester. This process is inconsistent with California Education Code 46012, which states that: “For purposes of any procedure for verification of absences from school, a student 18 years of age or over, with respect to his own absences from school, shall have all of the responsibilities and powers which, in the case of a minor, would be charged to the parent, guardian, or other person having

charge or control of the minor.” After numerous interviews with assistant principals and Farr, The Tam News was unable to locate the attendance limitation anywhere in writing. As of now, the only official Tam attendance policy is the California Education Code, which does not limit the number of absences an adult student may excuse. Included in the Tam policy is the following: “Students are required to attend classes in accordance with compulsory full-time education laws (Education Code 48200) ... The school may request medical verification when the student has ten (10) or more medically excused absences per year.” While Tam has the legal

ability to request medical verification after ten medical excuses, the school rarely does so. There is no distinction, in the attendance policy, between the permissions of an adult student and of a parent or guardian. On May 9, Farr stated via email that Tam does and will operate in accordance with the California Education Code. “We follow California Education Code which allows students over the age of 18 to excuse themselves, provided that they have a valid excuse,” Farr said.♦️ 415-775-8748

The tam news



Senior Season By Charlie Rosgen


oing into senior year, I thought it couldn’t get more stressful and aggravating than junior year. My summer of junior year was filled with my mother pushing me to write my college essays, and a growing feeling of fear and insecurity flooded into my body. I was warned about the stress that comes along with writing deep personal narratives for a panel of college admissions employees to judge, but there were plenty of aspects to senior year that I was not prepared for. I wasn’t equipped for the rejection. I had prepared myself for the possibility of rejection, but I wasn’t ready for the tidal wave of emotions that came with it. I wish someone would have told me that you can’t brush off rejection as if it doesn’t affect you. Regardless of where the rejection is coming from; top choices or safety colleges, it is important to take a moment to mourn the loss of the life you once thought you might live. As stupid as that sounds, I think it’s really important that people take a second to breathe and acknowledge where they’re at and where they are going. Bottling up feelings of self doubt and anxiety will not do you any favours. Take the time to heal. But once you’ve taken that time, pick yourself back up and focus on what’s to come. Those thoughts of not being good enough or


wishing you worked harder won’t help at this point. You need to harness that energy and put it towards something useful, such as your future. I wish someone told me that it is OK to get rejected. The hardest part of the college process is not being in control. The second you press “send” on that application, it is out of your hands. There is nothing you can do about it. You may go crazy checking your college portals and email waiting for a response, but letting it monopolize your life won’t change the outcome. My heart dropped every time I checked my email and saw no updates on my application. I felt a pit in my stomach for weeks on end, and my mind was running wild. I know it’s silly to tell you that all you can do is wait, but I wish someone told me that the waiting was harder than having to write about myself or the stress of standardized testing. It’s hard to spend so much time building relationships with people throughout high school, only to get to senior year and realize that you may lose touch with those people or never see them again. However, don’t let that discourage you from making new friends or enjoying the time you have left with the friends you already have. It’s easy to get comfortable with the life you’ve been living with the people you have been living it with. It’s just as easy to get uncomfortable with the life you have been living with the people you have been living it with. It is important to comprehend that after you throw that grad cap in the air, your life is never going to be the same again, so enjoy it while you have it. People may try to push you away, because it’s easier to push people away then to admit you’re going to miss them. Fight for your friendships, don’t let little arguments tarnish the relationships you spent so long and tried so hard to build. I wish someone

told me that senior year was going to be one of the most emotionally draining years of my life so far. People warn you about how stressful junior year is and how once you get past Christmas of senior year, you can relax. Personally, I found senior year a lot more stressful and overwhelming than junior year. You expect that after the SAT, transcripts and AP tests, it’s over and you can ditch all the school you want — it’s not over. Keeping your grades and maintaining your attendance is hard. The fear of not graduating or getting your offer rescinded will captivate your life, and there is no party or sunset date that is worth losing everything you worked so hard for. This is the last push and you can do it. I wish someone told me that senioritis is a myth. You have the chance to do so many things — so do them. There is going to be tears and fights but trust me they are worth it. There is no better feeling than the feeling of being proud of the work you did. The feeling of relief when you commit to the college that fits you best is like none other, the feeling of relief when you get your senior checkout list, all these feelings are worth all the stress and trauma of senior year. I wish someone told me to cherish every moment and every memory while I still had it.♦


Girls of BSA am sophomores Abby Alpert and Cassie Peterson are doing something no girls in Mill Valley have done before. In February, Boy Scouts of America (BSA), now called Scouts BSA, first started accepting girls into troops across the country. When they heard about it, both girls wanted to join, and in March they became founders of the first Mill Valley Scouts BSA girls’ troop. “In Boy Scouts we get to use knives, and do archery and shoot rifles,” Peterson said. “[In Girl Scouts we learned] how to sell cookies and how to clean up a marsh.” From Peterson’s perspective, Scouts BSA provided more hands-on opportunities and real-life experiences than Girl Scouts did. Previously, Peterson had participated in Girl Scouts for five years before she quit. “My troop kind of fell apart, no one wanted to do it anymore, and that was in fifth grade,” Peterson said. Alpert and Peterson knew each other before they joined Scouts BSA, and decided to do it together. “I’d say it definitely takes a certain personality type to be a girl that’s joining a program that’s known to the world as ‘Boy Scouts,’ but also you have to like the outdoors and that kind of stuff,” Alpert said. Both girls are enjoying learning how to tie knots and use an axe, and were looking forward to their upcoming camping trip. They did not hesitate to participate in activities predominantly associated with boys instead of girls. Integrating into the Scouts program was a fairly easy transition for Alpert and Peterson, and

their new troop has grown to match the amount of boys in the local troop thanks to a large number of young girls who joined. “I think that the biggest difference between the [new] girls’ troop and the boys’ troop is that the boys’ troop has the older kids that are experienced and know what to do, and in the girls’ troop we are all at the same point. Like it doesn’t matter if you’re in sixth grade or tenth grade, all of us have the same idea of what’s going on,” Alpert said. Now that girls can join Scouts BSA, they are eligible to earn the title of Eagle Scout, the highest rank in the program. But because Scouts BSA only began accepting girls this year, that is proving to be difficult for many older girls. “I’m not sure if there’s any way I can get to Eagle [Scout] at this point, but I’m just doing it for fun right now,” Peterson said. The ranking takes six years to achieve and is highly regarded by many universities and programs around the country. While boys can work themselves up to Eagle Scout from a young age, new female members of Scouts lack the time to do so. “We pretty much just have two years to do what the boys do in six,” Alpert said. Both girls agreed that they wished they’d had the opportunity to join sooner, and although the program has taken a large step toward gender equality, they can’t make up for lost time or differences in experience because of gender. Despite the late start, both Alpert and Peterson are planning on continuing with the group until their senior year of high school.♦

The tam news



By Samantha Nichols





Tarp’s End of an Era By Lucas Rosevear


After 27 years, English teacher David Tarpinian is retiring from teaching at Tam and from full time teaching entirely. Known for his personal style and involvement in the founding of many Tam programs, Tarpinian agreed to a farewell interview to flesh out his personal and professional life before, during, and after Tam. This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity. What did you do before you taught? I was a real estate developer. But I did a variety of things in the context of developing real estate. I [had] realized I really enjoyed working with wood, so I got a job as a carpenter and apprenticed with a couple of veteran boat builders. I worked with them for a couple of years and they pretty much taught me the ropes. Did you come out of the real estate business successful? Yeah, around the late 80s or early 90s I decided to move to California and I divested myself of all my businesses [on the East Coast], partly because I rode the wave and it was time to get out because savings and loans were crumbling and money was tight. So I decided it was time to pack up and do something new.

What brought you to teaching ? Right out of the undergraduate school I had taught for a year and a half at an experimental private high school and just relished that experience. Almost from day one, the minute I walked into a classroom I knew I had found what I wanted to do for the next number of years. But I never saw it as a career that would last 27 years. I thought, “Eh, okay, this is fun, this is interesting, this feels really comfortable and I’m at home in this environment. I’ve got a little experience under my belt and I think I have a lot to offer adolescents and I’ll try this for 8 or 10 years.” What about it made you stick with it for 17 more years than you thought you might? I love it. I mean, I still do. It kept my head in the game, it kept me sharp, it kept me on my toes. I loved the interaction with adolescents and developing curriculum and creating programs. [I liked] the challenges that present themselves to high school students that are not academic. To interact and


The Tam news

to relate kids in a meaningful way, [to be] everything from a mentor or adviser to a nemesis to a kind of a pain in the ass to some kids, all of it has just been invigorating and fun. But I’m working harder to keep things interesting and there’s almost a diminishing return. You can be wildly engaging and interesting to kids and they just can’t find an access point. They’re way too distracted. So I’m at that teetering point of “Eh, do I really want to work harder than the kids in my classroom?” And the answer is, kinda, no. What do you think has changed that has made the teaching dynamic different? I think it’s complicated. There’s all this emphasis, especially in this school, put on college and college applications and grades and less and less emphasis on learning. And I don’t mean that there are no kids here who are interested in learning; there really are. But the numbers of kids that are just transactional — “tell me what to do to get the grade, and if don’t like the grade I’m going to argue with you about why I should get the grade” — that’s kind of changed the purpose of why we’re all here. And I think I still believe in this old-fashioned idea that we’re here to learn. I like to create a community in the classroom where we’re all here for that single purpose of learning. And I see that there’s been a change in that. What programs were you involved with or did you help create here at Tam? When I was hired back in ‘92 or ‘93 I was asked to create an Academic Workshop program and a Peer Resource program, and, either the first or second year, to create a summer transition program for Marin City kids. And a smaller task I was asked to do was create a smaller in-house independent study program. And then the push came for me to teach more English classes and turn those programs over to other people, which I did. And since then they’ve taken different turns and twists but in one form or another they’ve all [been] sustained. What was the transition program for Marin City? There was an administrator here at the time, in fact the person who was instrumental in me getting hired, Sandy Piotter. There was a big focus on creating a better transition for kids who were coming from Marin City, especially coming from MLK. They just historically had been less well prepared than Mill Valley Middle School (MVMS) kids for what they encountered

LIFESTYLES here. Because they were less well prepared they were seen as less academic. But it had nothing to do with inherent intelligence, it just had to do with preparation. So Sandy and I kinda put our heads together and worked with Jewel Barrow, who retired a few years ago, and we created a summer school transition program that all the kids at MLK were enrolled in. I provided an English curriculum and then I would recruit somebody to do math, because those were the two areas that seemed to be the most challenging. And we would piece together an innovative curriculum and kinda make it fun, because it was summer and not what every kid wanted to do. [We also] worked with a woman in Marin City, Terry Green, who runs a few different organizations. She would organize the jobs and the kids would get paid, and they liked making the money.

What was Peer Resource like when you founded it?

One of the big things that the Peer Resource class did was the condom distribution program. We set up peer counselling programs where the students were trained to mediate conflict and often if students were having conflict they’d get referred to peer mediators first. We did presentations on drug and alcohol abuse. We got recognized for knowing what we were doing and then started doing more and more work in this school. What about AIM? Mike Goldstein and I had been working together as core partners, and one May we decided we would cobble together some technology. We had been approached by a parent who wanted to do an oral history of the elders of Marin City before they died. And she wanted to offer her support as an oral historian if we would offer our help and provide students to go gather all this information. So we loved the idea and she was so organized and so helpful. We had about a hundred students go into the communities and essentially do what started as an oral history, but then it became “identify a problem in each community and make a video.” So we had these five early Mac computers, limited access to editing tools, and 20 kids working in each group, but they

went out and gathered all of this information, talking to local celebrities, people who were movers and shakers. By the end of May we had five films that we showed in the student center. And we were shocked. We had about 450 people show up. And the films were incredible. They were really good and they got a lot of attention from the community, a lot of attention from the superintendent, who was impressed enough to encourage us to create a program. So Goldstein and I realized at the time that we needed a third person because he was really interested in the technology: the filming and the editing aspect. I was more involved with the narrative and storytelling and the kind of literary aspects of what we were doing. So it just organically grew and [Sharilyn] Scharf became involved as the social studies person. So it became English, social studies, and documentary film. It was either 2001 or 2002 that AIM had its first year. I think I left AIM in 2013 or 2014. For those first 12-13 years I was involved in the creation of it and the sustaining of it for that period of time. Why did you leave AIM? I think it steered away from its original mission. And my interest and focus has always been on those more marginalized students and not on the high-achieving ones. They can be interesting and assets to a class but it’s often that underserved group that has so much interesting stuff to share and they don’t often get a voice. So I wanted to provide a program that would offer a voice to as many of those students as we could. The change was inevitable, I guess, because the program was successful and it got a lot of attention.

Did your interpretation of a changing culture at Tam influence your decision to retire? Yeah. [But] I don’t want to be coy about it. What pushed it for me was the district offered a one-time incentive that economically would have been foolish not to take, especially considering I would be working for [only] another year. But I had also, even before that became a thing, begun to have some misgivings about changes that I was seeing and direction of the school. It was a complicated, emotional decision I made to move on. And I don’t plan to stop working.

Is there anything you plan to do aside from work after Tam? I don’t know, there are a lot of places to go. But traveling is a bit of a balancing act for [me and my wife] because we have very active horse riding lives. We both compete and we both keep horses in competition. You ride horses? Yeah. I probably spend as much time [riding horses] as I do here. I’ve been competing in a variety of equestrian events for the last 30-something years. I do three-day eventing, which involves stadium jumping, cross country jumping, and dressage, and I’ve won a number of ribbons. But that takes up a lot of my time. If I were going to think of what distracts me from this and what I’d rather spend my time doing it would be that.♦

The tam news


EXCLUSIVE features

by milo levine

graphics by skye schoenhoeft / COVER BY NIULAN WRIGHT


ccording to senior Chloe Le Lievre, the Conservatory Theatre Ensemble (CTE), Tam’s drama program, has had a profound impact on her high school life and education. “[Drama] is about more than just putting on plays,” Le Lievre said. “From doing high school drama I have learned more about time management, working together, being a leader, and many other life skills.” For many students, the most profound learning experiences occur outside of the traditional classroom setting in academic programs that provide a chance to engage in project-based learning. “Coming from Greenwood, a tight-knit community is something I felt I was lacking my first two years at Tam,” said senior Kai Kohlwes, who is a part of The Academy of Integrated Humanities and

New Media (AIM), a filmmaking program at Tam for upperclassmen. “The biggest thing [AIM] has given me is a like-minded community where peers work together for a common goal.” Some are able to acclimate to the high school environment easier than others, often as a result of where they come from. “When I think about our feeder schools, there is disparity in the experiences that students have before they arrive at Tam,” principal J.C. Farr said. CTE, AIM, The Tam News, Leadership, and Link Crew all provide students with unique benefits to their high school experience, including a strong sense of community and support, according to many students interviewed. However, data provided to The Tam News by the Tamalpais Union High School District (TUHSD) reveals

that all of the aforementioned programs struggle to maintain enrollment that accurately reflects the diversity demographics of the school. Students who come to Tam from the Sausalito Marin City School District (SMCSD) tend to be underrepresented in the five programs. The SMCSD is a district that serves mostly black and Hispanic students, as well as a large contingent of students from low-income families, and has a history of controversy surrounding its management. This includes a report from the California Attorney General in December 2018, which claimed that the SMCSD violated anti-discrimination laws in its allocation of resources to the two schools in the district, Willow Creek Academy and Bayside Martin Luther King Jr. Academy. From administrators to teach-

Tam High general population 12

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ers to some students, conversations around improving Tam often focus on closing the achievement gap between students from the more affluent Mill Valley and students from Marin City. Many program leaders and administrators said they are making an effort to increase the engagement of Marin City students with the numerous available academic opportunities. If there is greater diversity in Tam’s academic programs, then more students will share in the sense of belonging and fulfilment that these programs provide, as detailed by Le Lievre and Kohlwes. The current data on the demographics of these programs suggests that minority students and students from Marin City are underrepresented, and subsequently many of the programs, as well as the administration, are seeking solutions to this problem.


The demographic data provided by the district provides a baseline for the analysis. The data is based on self-reported information on student registration forms. Of all the students at Tam High, 80 percent of students live in Mill Valley, 7.5 percent live in Sausalito, 2.6 percent live in Marin City, and the remaining 9.9 percent are categorized as “miscellaneous,” a reference to Bolinas-Stinson and a few other cities. With regards to ethnicity, 69.4 percent of students are white, 10.4 percent are Hispanic, 7.7 percent are Asian, 3.3 percent are black, and the remaining 9.2 percent other or unreported. About 10 percent of students have Individualized Education Plans (IEPs), which indicates special education status, according to special education teacher Preston Picus. Special education students are also underrepresented in these programs. The programs below are not addressed in any particular order, but each program is discussed in isolation. Every program has a unique student makeup, requires varying levels of commitment, and selects and/or recruits students in a different manner.



he drama program, CTE, includes multiple courses, some advanced and some for beginners. CTE is non-audition, so any student can join the program. The stage plays put on by CTE are entirely student-run, from the acting and directing to the behind-the-scenes

work. Freshmen and sophomores participate in productions designated for beginning students, with support and guidance from advanced students, and in some instances, underclassmen can be a part of main stage plays as well. “We do everything from de-

signing the lights to managing our donations via quickbooks,” Le Lievre said. “CTE is what you make of it.You can choose to focus on acting, tech and design, stage managing or directing. Every possible aspect of working in a theatre company is covered in

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this program and it’s all run by students and that’s what makes it so amazing.” Despite CTE’s status as an open-enrollment program, some groups remain disproportionately represented. White students are overrepresented by 11.5 percent, while both black students and students from Marin City are slightly underrepresented by 0.6 percent and 1.2 percent, respectively. Students with IEPs are slightly overrepresented by 0.5 percent.

Hispanic students are more heavily underrepresented in CTE, as 10.4 percent of Tam students are Hispanic, compared with only 1.4 percent of students in CTE. Drama teacher Ben Cleaveland attributes some of the underrepresentation to scheduling conflicts. “We’re getting fewer students from Marin City, because of AVID,” he said. “And it’s not just AVID, but it can be a challenge for students in Academic Workshop to fit in their art course.”

Both AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) and Academic Workshop are designed for students who may need additional academic support. Nationally, a vast majority of AVID students are of a low socioeconomic status and tend to be ethnic minorities, according to the AVID website. Cleaveland emphasized his appreciation for academic support classes, while noting that it is sometimes difficult to get those students involved with the drama

program. “I could offer an 8th period after-school beginning drama class, but then it might conflict with their sports and transportation,” he said. There were preliminary steps towards organizing a stage play with Tam students who grew up in Marin City, whether or not the students were enrolled in drama, as a way to involve Marin City students in the drama program. However, these plans never materialized, and the play was never put on.

The Tam News T

he Tam News is a student-run, multimedia journalism publication that covers topics and events that relate to the Tam community. There are two courses in the journalism program, one for first-year students — Nonfiction — and the other for returning students — Advanced Journalism. The students in Advanced Journalism are responsible for the production of The Tam News magazine and website, and many hold leadership positions within the publication.


The Tam news

The journalism program is an open-enrollment program, as Nonfiction is open to all students, and Advanced Journalism is open to all students who have taken Nonfiction. After completing Nonfiction, students can apply for section editorships, leadership roles where they oversee the content and production of a specific section of the publication. After completing at least one year in Advanced Journalism and one year as a section editor, students can apply to be an

editor in chief, where they oversee the content and production of the entire magazine and online publication. The demographics of the Advanced Journalism class are difficult to gauge, as there are only 32 students in the class and four students declined to provide the district with their racial identity. However, there are no black students in the Advanced class, and there are no students with IEPs. Approximately 90 percent live in

Mill Valley and the remaining two live in Sausalito. In Nonfiction, which has 109 students currently enrolled, the makeup is more diverse. Black students are overrepresented by 2.2 percent, as are students with IEPs by approximately 2 percent, and students from Marin City are proportionally represented. However, white students remain overrepresented by 5.8 percent. According to English teacher Jonah Steinhart, adviser for The

Tam News, the publication has struggled with diversity since his tenure as adviser began over a decade ago. (Steinhart, who adheres to the newspaper adviser standard of avoiding the conflict of being quoted or mentioned in the publication he advises, agreed to be interviewed for the first time because he is a subject of this article.) Steinhart said the program remained starkly homogenous for many years despite some efforts to diversify the staff. Over the last

three years, he and the journalism students have tried a new recruiting project. “We did collaborations with Willow Creek, Bayside MLK, and Bolinas/Stinson. We bring them on campus, get them in the journalism room, pair them up with experienced journalism kids, and have them write articles and publish them,” he said. “That was one of the things that started to give us traction.” Additionally, the journalism program started using Nonfiction as a beginner class which

enabled students who enrolled in the course to receive a year of UC English credit. “The really big game-changer was starting to offer Nonfiction again at Tam,” Steinhart said. “Kids, especially juniors and seniors, are able to take Nonfiction as their primary English class and also be a part of the staff and have all of their work go in front of the senior editors, and in a lot of cases get published. That has significantly increased the diversity of the program.” But there are still discrepancies in diversity between the two


parts of the publication, with Nonfiction being more diverse than Advanced Journalism. Steinhart attributes these discrepancies to the recent increase in diversity brought on by the collaborations with the 8th graders and the changing of the beginner journalism class to Nonfiction. “We’re just now starting to see some of the sophomores and freshmen who participated in the collaboration in eighth grade coming into the program. A real test will be to see if they proceed into Advanced Journalism,” he said.

Lead ers h i p


eadership is a program comprised of students who are elected by the student body, as well as those who are chosen from an application process and interview. Leadership functions as the school’s student government organization. According to Leadership adviser and social studies teacher Nathan Bernstein, the program has been active in trying to address underrepresentation, and while progress has been made, the issue still persists. “I think right

now we’ve done a lot of things [to increase diversity], but I always feel like we can do more,” Bernstein said. “We still have a long way to go.” The data does suggest some positive trends in Leadership, as white students are only slightly overrepresented by 3.3 percent, and black students are overrepresented by 4 percent. However, Hispanic students are underrepre-

sented by 8.6 percent, as are students with IEPs, by 8 percent. There is also only one student from Marin City currently enrolled in Leadership. Bus 17, which leaves at 6:30 a.m., is the only bus from Marin City that arrives at Tam before 7 a.m., the time Leadership students need to be on campus three times a week, as Leadership

is a zero-period class. Bernstein detailed the ways in which Leadership has recruited underrepresented groups. “We do a lot of reaching out, working with programs like Bridge the Gap, something that’s simple like getting names from them and

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features offering invites to certain [students],” he said. “The biggest way that we’ve found to get more kids in is having one-on-one conversations with kids, encouraging them



he Academy of Integrated Humanities and New Media (AIM) is an academic program for 11th and 12th graders that features a documentary filmmaking course and an accelerated curriculum for English and social studies classes. The program take up students’ 5th, 6th, and 7th periods to allow students to have extended collaborative work time. As a part of the program, students produce documentaries at the end of each semester, some of which have received national acclaim. Two AP English courses, AP Composition and AP Literature, are required in AIM, and honors U.S. History is optional. After students complete their junior year in AIM, they have the opportunity to become AIM interns, where they are given additional responsibilities within the program.


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to run for office and go for interviews.” Bernstein also discussed recent initiatives such as pushing freshman electives back a

semester, to allow new students time to adjust to the Tam culture before deciding to become more involved. Bernstein emphasized why

these efforts to increase diversity have taken place. “We want Leadership to represent the school dynamics, and so we want everyone, not just one type of kid,” he said.

Senior Kai Kohlwes described joining AIM as a pivotal moment in his high school career. “Because of AIM, I decided to pursue film in college,” Kohlwes said. “AIM has also helped shape my ability to be able to communicate with teams in an effective manner, and pushed me out of my comfort zone more than once, from going to the homes of Satanists, to interviewing gay conversion therapy survivors.” With regards to diversity, white students in AIM are overrepresented by 18 percent compared to the rest of the Tam population. Every ethnic or racial group other than whites are underrepresented in AIM: Hispanic students by 7.9 percent, black students by 0.8 percent, and Asian students by 2.7 percent. There are currently no students from Marin City in the program. Additionally, there are no students in AIM with an IEP, com-

pared with 10 percent of students at the school. “[As far as racial diversity], we are not as diverse as we’d like to be,” Sharilyn Scharf, one of three AIM teachers, said. Students must undergo an application process to be accepted into AIM, in which applicants fill out a questionnaire explaining their personality and interests. “When students apply, we don’t ask them demographic question,” Scharf said. “When kids apply we really don’t know what they are in terms of diversity.” As a part of the application process, current AIM students are asked to provide a recommendation for any of the applicants that they think would be a good fit for the program.

According to junior Hannah Kahn, an AIM intern, the lack of diversity amongst AIM students makes it harder for underrepresented students to become involved in the program. “It’s a cycle,” Kahn said. “If you have a program like AIM that doesn’t have much diversity, and we don’t make an effort to go out and get more diversity, or the students of color at Tam don’t know about AIM or don’t feel comfortable applying because there aren’t a lot of students of color in AIM, then you’re never going to have [a diverse program].”


Link Crew


ink Crew is a program designed to help freshmen navigate the transition to high school, by pairing them with upperclassmen mentors. To be in Link Crew, one must complete a written application and then an in-person audition, in which applicants perform several activities to display their social skills and ability to interact with others. Because there is no mandatory class for Link Crew students, the raw data on the demographics of the program are unavailable. How-

ever, Link Crew adviser and social studies teacher Luc Chamberlin is open about the program’s lack of diversity. “Informally, I can say we have noticed an overrepresentation of European-Americans, girls, midto-high socioeconomic students, and high achieving students,” Chamberlin wrote in an email. In response to the underrepresentation of certain groups in Link Crew, Chamberlin has participated in several initiatives in an attempt to increase the program’s

diversity. “To attract kids of color, we have tried to partner with [the Students Organized Against Racism club], Compass, Bridge the Gap, and staff members who feel close to students of color to individually motivate kids to join and participate,” Chamberlin wrote. Bridge the Gap is a local non-profit that provides academic support for students from Marin City. However, Link Crew is struggling to catalyze substantive improvements to the diversity of the

program, according to Chamberlin. “It ends up being a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy over time as well, if [freshmen] don’t see students like themselves as Link Leaders on a regular basis, they may not think of themselves as Link Leaders, and therefore they don’t apply or even think about the program when they are juniors and seniors,” Chamberlin said. “This is the cycle that we, and I think every program, is trying to break.”


here is not one program whose demographics accurately mirror that of the entire school. Among the groups that are most underrepresented are black students, Hispanic students, students from Marin City, and students with IEPs. AIM and Advanced Journalism have zero students with IEPs. AIM has no students from Marin City. Hispanic students are underrepresented in all of the five programs examined in this piece. There are no black students in Advanced Journalism. The greatest overrepresentation of white students is in AIM, by 18 percent. Most programs have adopted outreach efforts directed at these underrepresented groups. Farr believes reaching out to middle school students is the most effective way to increase the participation of marginalized students in academic programs. “Even though they’re not our schools, how do you work with those schools prior to [high school] to then build up your program, so students can be ready to access it [once they get to Tam]?” Farr said. “That’s the model I’m moving towards ... And some programs have accepted that and have done a good job, and other programs still have room for growth.” Picus expressed dissatisfaction with the underrepresentation of special education students in programs around campus. “Proportional representation is important. Students with an IEP make up about 10 percent of the campus, so if you look at a program and one percent or zero percent of their students have IEPs, that seems like an issue to me that should be addressed,” he said. Picus also added that special education students should not be generally excluded on the basis of their abilities. “Students with IEPs have such a wide range of capacities, so to say generally speaking that a student with an IEP can’t participate in a program because X, Y, and Z is ridiculous,” he said. Picus did mention that some programs do a better job of others at reaching out to special education students, but overall he thinks there is still a long way to go. “There are some programs that work really hard to recruit and get those students involved,” he said. “But students of color, students with learning differences, students from low income backgrounds, we need to be doing more to make sure that they have access to all of these opportunities.” Counselor Scott Birkestrand also said that programs need to do a better job of being inclusive and serving all students, rather than just certain types of students. “Public school is for everybody. It’s for each student. That tells me that if you’re being selective, you’re not the right fit, that’s just a no-brainer to me,” he said. “If we’re only helping those few students, then we’re missing out on the whole mission of our school, which is to assist all students, especially the ones who need it.” Birkestrand mentioned that there are multiple reasons for the pervasive homogeneity of Tam’s programs, but nonetheless the issue needs to be addressed. “It’s not any one person’s issue, but it is everyone’s responsibility,” he said.

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By Benjy Wall-Feng


reakthrough Day felt like a rush job. I should note that students in each grade had differently structured events. Juniors discussed a slideshow presented by students from Students Organized Against Racism (SOAR) and Leadership. Freshmen also had a slideshow, although it was presented by Link Leaders. Sophomores used the film I’m Not Racist ... Am I? as a springboard for discussion. Seniors had no Breakthrough Day at all. As a junior, my Breakthrough Day went this way: After some initial confusion and students being shuffled around, I ended up in the right classroom after twice being sent to the wrong one. The students who led our discussion moved through a slideshow containing definitions and examples of racism and several of its subcategories, such as cultural appropriation. They invited us to “talk to each other”: turn to a partner and discuss — or to a group, or to the class — and the results were mixed. Students in SOAR and Leadership should be commended for organizing Breakthrough Day at all, since stimulating a positive racial dialogue is no easy feat in any environment. They should be commended, too, for their decision to cover topics more specific and more useful than just “racism” — like tokenism, the inclusion of a person belonging to some minority into a group in order to give the appearance of equality. I’m Asian American, and the discussion of media representation and the inexplicable lack of Asian actors onscreen was particularly gratifying to me. But the disorganized nature of the event inhibited its ability to start a constructive conversation, and may have actually dissuaded people from listening further. In the classroom I was in, the most useful contributions to the discourse came

from students of color who were willing to share their own experiences. Students of color should not be required or expected to guide the conversation, or even take part in it, if doing so puts them in a hostile environment. But when they choose not to speak out, “talking to each other” means white students talking to other white students. It fosters the same kind of echo-chamber tautology responsible for the racial ignorance already present in Tam’s culture. In that situation, it falls on the presenters to maintain focus and perspective, and they were not entirely able to do that. Here’s an illustration. I’m sure most people would agree that Karlie Kloss wearing a Native American-style headdress to a Victoria’s Secret fashion show was, if not racist, at least baffling and distasteful. And it makes sense to introduce the topic of cultural appropriation with such a flagrant example, as was done in our discussion. But cultural appropriation is a controversial subject because most offenses are less clearly defined. And as the writer N. K. Jemisin notes, understanding racism in environments far removed from your own does not necessarily help you understand racism in your own environment. It’s not hard to imagine that someone could recognize the problems with a headdress but not with more subtle, Tam-specific occurrences. The issue then becomes that the students tasked with educating us were not sufficiently equipped to lead a conversation at the necessary level of nuance. What happens when a well-informed student with politically incorrect beliefs wants to have an intelligent conversation about cultural appropriation? Or when a white Link Leader is made to field questions from freshman

students of color whose experiences run far deeper than a slideshow? The bottom line is that for Breakthrough Day to be effective, it needed to be organized better and earlier. For example: Several Link Leaders told me that their training was half an hour long and done the morning of. This could have been done earlier, or in more detail, or the students in charge of the event could have found professionals to lead discussions instead. For example: Seniors were excluded from Breakthrough Day because its organizers “didn’t have the resources” to educate that many people, according to social studies teacher Dr. Claire Ernst. But it seems unlikely that, given a year to plan, neither students nor administrators could have come up with any way to involve them. I can think of several ways off the top of my head. And, crucially, in order for Breakthrough Day to achieve its goals, it needed to show students who don’t care about racial issues why they should care. Students inclined to such ambivalence could very well see a slapdash presentation, or a repetitive, static discussion, and say: Well, this wasn’t worth my time ... and then discount the topic entirely. In that respect a hastily organized Breakthrough Day may be worse than no Breakthrough Day at all. There’s a maxim that if something is worth doing, it’s worth doing well. Corollary to this idea is that if something isn’t worth doing well, it’s not worth doing. Turn to a partner and discuss: Is Breakthrough Day a useful investment?♦ GRAPHIC BY SAMANTHA FERRO

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hroughout the past few years, various alternative-right (alt-right) groups including white nationalists, neo-Nazis, and white supremacists have assumed a larger role in the social and political landscape. The alt-right broadly rejects “establishment” conservatism in favor of primarily nativist and white supremacist politics.The movement’s presence in Marin became especially apparent in recent weeks when a local high school student’s YouTube channel featuring Islamophobic, racist, and other fringe right-wing content under the guise of satire went viral. There is no question whether what was said in these videos was wrong; it was. However, how best to respond to this, and to hateful alt-right rhetoric as a whole, is not nearly as straightforward. Whether to react to an instance of hateful alt-right messaging at all is a crucial question. Publicly criticizing the incident has the potential to platform the alt-right individual and to spread their beliefs to a wid-

er audience than they would have originally reached. So the value of a rebuttal’s mitigating effects has to outweigh the extra exposure the hate speech might get as a result. Several alt-right figureheads gained popularity and notoriety in recent years after the spread of viral clips of adversarial debates and public arguments with their opposition. These examples of public discourse put racist and homophobic hate speech on equal footing with reason and civility. We diminish our values by considering it. The alt-right has also been known to bait outraged reponses with purposefully inflammatory content, their hope being that their beliefs will become more mainstream. This baiting includes citing their “ironic” delivery once they have gained an audience, allowing them to then brush off criticisms of their rhetoric as excessive political correctness and sensitivity. The irony claim is a useful tool to test the waters, before pushing further if the audience is receptive.

This method of spreading hate speech under the cover of trolling or being ironic is an attempt to dodge the stigma associated with racism, sexism, anti-semitism, or other forms of discrimination; it has become an indispensible tool of the alt right as they try to push hateful rhetoric into the mainstream. Knowing this, we cannot engage hate speech as we would a political disagreement. The true antidote is turning away, shutting down those who only wish to disrupt and cause chaos. The collapse of right wing agitator Milo Yiannopoulos’s influence is a prime example. When these figures are ignored, their relevance withers. The normalization of white supremacy deserves attention and opposition. But we must be careful to pick our fights wisely. A community reckoning of racial bias is not the same as a public showdown that alt right agitators feed off of. We must, as a community, be aware of when we must act, and when we must not.♦

Crackin’ and Slackin’



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The Reality of Ramadan By Khadija Nakhuda


o you just starve yourself for thirty days!?” is a common question Muslims get when they say they’re fasting for Ramadan. You may know someone who is fasting, which likely leaves you with a bunch of questions about why Muslims don’t eat for 16 hours straight and what they do if they can’t eat all day. Along with these questions come many misconceptions people hold that make “fasting month” sound miserable. But for Muslims it’s the favorite time of year. Many Muslims are never really taught the true meaning of fasting month and think Ramadan is just intended to make us feel what the poor feel like, which is not the real purpose. Ramadan is a month where you’re supposed to feel more spiritually connected to God and be grateful for all of your blessings, food being a main one. People give up things like watching TV, listening to music, going on social media, and excessive socializing so they can focus on their prayers and gain more of a spiritual connection with God. Another big misconception about Ramadan is that we can’t eat or drink for a whole month. Ramadan can consist of 30 or 31 days, depending on the moon, since Islam follows the lunar calendar. If we were to not eat for a full 30 days, that would defeat the purpose of Ramadan. The month is not to starve yourself but to think of all the things we are grateful for during the day.

Humans can only go 21 days without food and four days without water. Depending on where you live in the world, based on the number on hours of daylight there is, the length of the fast varies from 16 to 18 hours. Muslims start fasting 20 minutes before sunrise and end our fast at sunset. We normally have five daily prayers that last about 15 minutes each. The first prayer is at sunrise and the last is one hour after sunset. During Ramadan there is an additional prayer called Tarawih added to the last night prayer at the end of the day. The Quran consists of 30 chapters, and each night in Tarawih they read one chapter. This adds an additional hour and a half to the nightly prayer. Typically the prayer will start at 9:45 p.m. and end at 11:30 p.m. If all the Muslims look tired during Ramadan, this is why. Ramadan is also a month of giving and kindness. All Muslims are encouraged to donate and give to the poor as much as we can. This could be in many forms such as donating clothes to the Salvation Army or giving a percentage of your earnings to an underprivileged family in another country. Many people will do small acts of kindness like inviting people over for Iftar, the opening fast, or sending food to the local mosque so the men can all open their fast there with fresh food together. You’re discouraged from doing Iftar alone, which brings many families and communities closer.

During the 16 hours, Muslims do not only pray but they spend a good chunk of that time cooking special traditional foods like Biryani (Indian rice). If you haven’t eaten for the whole day there better be some good food on the table for Iftar. Usually people do not only cook for their families but neighbors and friends as well. By the end of the day you will have 10 dishes that someone sent to your house. The best part — dessert! You may not normally have dessert every single night but in Ramadan, oh yes you do. People think that after fasting it’s possible to eat a ton, but in reality it’s hard to even finish one plate of food. After 30 days of this schedule, we have our special celebration called Eid. Eid is a day where you eat a bunch of cake and unhealthy food with your extended family all day. And it gets even better than that. Each family member gives you money as well, so you will definitely be rich by the end of the day. The month of Ramadan is a special month for all Muslims. We do so much in this month that makes us better spiritually connected to God. Hopefully we take what we learn in Ramadan and implement it in our daily lives after the month is over. Next Ramadan, go to your local mosque and experience an Iftar with your Muslim brothers and sisters. Don’t be afraid to ask us questions.♦ GRAPHIC BY SAMANTHA FERRO

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ach year the Tam administration issues warnings to parents during the last few weeks of May, and each year the so-called “scav hunt” continues to be a large part of the school’s culture. The scavenger hunt is always written by upperclassmen boys and includes a list of tasks for points, usually with a money reward for who completes the most tasks for the most points. Some of the tasks are crude, most are downright illegal, and others encourage acts which would be considered outrageous under any other circumstances. Since then, the seniors have had their annual scavenger hunt and faced a wave of criticism from the Tam administration, many officials threatening to take away senior week activities or even rescind college applications. But in order for us to know how to handle this tradition, it is essential that we understand more about what aspects truly make this tradition harmful.

“In some extreme cases, these tasks push students to sexually harass or even assault their peers.” For years now, the list has included “hooking up” with freshman, sophomores, and sometimes even middle schoolers. While the task is not gender specific, many past lists have singled out girls and boys based on their reputation, looks, or siblings. In some extreme cases, these tasks push students to sexually harass or even assault their peers, often whom are younger than them, for no reason other than to gain points. It’s true that some underclassmen are willing to perform sexual or illegal tasks, but for the most part, the element of peer pressure plays into whatever they “choose” to do.


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Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of the scavenger hunt is the widespread acceptance of the idea of gaining points for doing morally dubious things. The more heinous the act, the more points one receives. This idea is probably the most disturbing part of the tradition, considering the idea of getting rewarded for doing illegal things encourages the idea that they should be commended. If such ideas are carried into adulthood, the ramifications could be devastating, further encouraging an unhealthy culture among the upcoming generation. Although topic this was briefly covered in an another editorial The Tam News wrote in 2017, it has become increasingly apparent that something about the hunt needs to change. When the last scavenger hunt editorial was written, it was in response to a specific act of violence against an underclassman, and since then there has only been a worsening of the tasks presented. Administration has done a better job this year of taking a stand against the hunt, but there are many things they could improve upon in the future. Offering specific consequences and focusing more on prevention as opposed to punishment would be more helpful, especially considering the backlash they delivered this year (which included singling out individual students, holding a senior class assembly, and encouraging students to turn themselves in with “integrity”). Administrators even took the drastic step of sending out both the junior and senior lists with specific names of students taken out, a step that seemed desperate and possibly misguided. Instead, administration should be more proactive with helping the victims of scavenger hunt, something they have stressed as important yet never made any effort to complete. While Tam administration does have an obligation to do all they can to stop the scavenger hunt from continuing, the real change that needs to occur must be inside the student body. Collectively, The Tam News believes students of all grades have

“An event which casually encourages sexual assault, peer pressure, illicit and dangerous drug use should never be dismissed as a simple tradition.” to come to a consensus: the scavenger hunt is unacceptable. Students need to understand that what they are doing is considered a crime, particularly if they are over 18 years old. Additionally, though many students do not partake in some of the more extreme tasks, by participating in the eventcondones the entire list as OK. An event which casually encourages sexual assault, peer pressure, illicit and dangerous drug use should never be dismissed as a simple tradition. It’s time to wake up.♦

HEARD IN THE HALLWAYS “Wow there’s so much green it’s like a salad in here” -Safeway “My goldfish lasted longer than my parents’ marriage” -Art Room “I wouldn’t mind being hit by a Tesla” -Wood Hall “Soggy socks aren’t even that bad” -Math Building

“I do’t care that we only have a week left of school! I still want to drop this class” -Science Building GRAPHICS BY SAMANTHA FERRO



By John Overton

eorg Cantor, the inventor of set theory, which often is regarded as the basis of all modern mathematics, once said, “The mathematician does not study pure mathematics because it is useful; he studies it because he delights in it and he delights in it because it is beautiful.” I’m expecting that most of you disagree with Cantor, and I would be surprised if you don’t. As of now, mathematics isn’t exactly viewed in a positive light by the majority of society. Math is portrayed by social media and movies as a boring and overly complicated pursuit for geniuses who have too much time. We are taught that math has some nifty applications that can help you out a lot if you are smart enough to know how to use it, but that otherwise math has no worth. In writing this I hope to at least convince you that mathematics has some intrinsic value, and that you don’t have to be a genius to understand or appreciate it. Currently, when one enters a math class, one’s reaction is usually a mixture of boredom and dread. Constantly, the value and/or use of a certain topic in math is being called into question. But it’s not your fault for not understanding, it’s the fault of the system. To be specific, I do not mean that our math teachers are to blame, but rather the entire American mathematical education system is to blame. There are a lot of great math teachers at Tam. “I think teachers have their hearts in the right place, and I honestly think each teacher is doing what they believe is best for the kids ... at least most of the kids ... I think there isn’t a silver bullet that inspires everyone to love math,” math teacher Chris Erlin said. And I must agree — math isn’t for everyone. Those who do not want to learn math will not learn math. Those who are not willing to think in a different way will not learn math. But regardless of intelligence, those who are open to looking at the world from a new perspective have the ability to become great mathematicians. To find this ability, one must recognize the one quality all mathematics has in common: logic. Mathematics is a web of facts that are all connected to each other logically. You may be thinking, “Hey! That’s not the math I know ... Where do all the numbers come in?” And by thinking that, you’ve just hit upon a really good point: math is not about numbers — numbers are just a tool. “Math is about relationships between/among things. Comparing, quantifying, recognizing patterns and extrapolating. Numbers allow us to more easily see the relationships,” Erlin explained. But, unfortunately, that’s not the story told by our homework. Doing the same problem over and over with different numbers is not math — it’s busywork. And as much as teachers may want to teach the math that they love, they are trapped by a lack of funds and awareness. Math teacher Rebecca Henn offered some ideas about the perfect math education. “Ideally, it would be by individ-

ual curriculum catered to each student ... Some students see the world more abstractly through mathematical proofs or through art, some students understand the world better through solving real concrete problems such as those found in designing and building things. Obviously, catering to each student’s inherent interest would be the best education because it would speak to each student in a more engaging way,” she said. But as for trying to implement this system, Henn said, “Nope. Unfortunately, at this time, we do not have the resources to make this type of teaching possible.” Which totally sucks, because everyone deserves to be taught math in a way that they understand. From what I’ve seen so far, the curriculum has a major flaw: its failure to focus on rigorous mathematical logic. It seems as if the concept of mathematical proof is first introduced in geometry, implying that it is more advanced than the math taught in middle school, which is totally wrong. From a very young age, we are taught a lot of different rules: no hitting, no biting, if you do something bad then you get punished, etc. But why can’t we also be taught about if-then conditional statements and the other aspects of a logical mathematical argument at the same age? If we were taught at a young age how to think the way mathematicians do, then we would not have to waste time each school year re-learning the material of the previous year. The more one understands the logical proof of a certain fact, the better one understands, knows, and remembers the fact itself. According to a 2018 study published on the Wiley Online Library, students who studied a subject and then attempted to teach it to other students did better on tests than students who studied the same subject without attempting to teach it. The study also showed that the students who attempted to teach were able to retain the information much longer than the other students. This phenomenon, known as “learning by teaching,” can be explained by the fact that in order to teach something, one must understand not only the little details of said thing, one must also understand the big picture. That is, one must understand the reasons that the little details are true, and how the little details relate to each other. It is clear that we are generally not being provided the tools we need to truly learn and understand the math we are being taught. And for this reason, most people fail to see the intrinsic value of mathematics. So at the end of the day you don’t have to love mathematics, or do it in your free time, or name your kids after your favorite theorems, or anything like that, but you should, going forward, look at mathematics as something of poetic abstraction: capable of uncovering hidden truth, intuition, simplicity, and elegance through nothing but a logical process.♦ GRAPHIC BY JOHN OVERTON

The tam news



Raising the Bar

The Challenges of a Star Athlete By Leah Fullerton


enior Lauren Ross has earned an array of titles in her time on Tam’s track and field team. From her pole vault record at Tam and Marin County to her two-time wins at Marin County Athletic League (MCAL) in both the pole vault and 100-meter hurdles events, one 300-meter hurdles win, being top ranked at the North Coast Section (NCS) Championship twice, and her most recent qualification for State Championships, Ross makes her triumphs look effortless. However, her experience has not all been smooth sailing. In fact, Ross has only recently reconnected with track and found personal success. Junior year, Ross experienced obstacles in both her physical and mental health, which she attributes to somewhat of an off-year. “In the fall I had mono and then over the course of soccer and track season I had strep a few times, which definitely set me back in terms of off-season training. That kind of just took away from my self-confidence,” she said. “That coupled with just knowing I was not in as good of physical shape the prior year kind of took a toll.”After her challenging junior year, Ross had to reevaluate her reason for participating in pole vaulting. “There’s no way you’re going to perform your best, there’s absolutely no way, until you learn to enjoy it again. Until you rediscover your love for the sport,” she said. “That’s an aspect that was missing last year that is likely a reason that it didn’t go to well. [Track] was more of something I was just scared of rather than something I really thought I had a handle on, which is kind of how I feel now.” Ross has since been making shifts in her life that have helped her regain confidence. “I definitely focused more on training in the off-season this year,” she said. “During the season, just going to practice every day, practicing on the weekends, going to bed early on weekend nights because I have to wake up the next morning. It definitely is a big commitment during the spring.” Despite an absence of local major track clubs, Ross practices informally with her coach. Ross has also been more involved in


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the mental health side of her athletic experience. “There [are] so many different aspects of the event that kind of need to work out at the same time for you to clear bar. So a lot of times it’s easy for you to think it’s not going to work out because one aspect will cause the whole thing to go haywire,” she said. “I’ve been trying to do as much as I can about being in your best mental state for athletes. I talked to a performance coach, which helped.” By fully immersing herself in her practice, Ross has found additional confidence in herself. “I would say the idea that I had to focus on was just to trust myself, and to be present in the moment. Not be so worried about the outcome, because everyone’s always like, ‘You’re only going to perform your best if you give yourself permission to lose,’” she

said. “Be OK with the outcome no matter what, which as I’ve learned is a lot easier said than done, but it’s true. You have to be enjoying it for what it is rather than for what you get out of winning it. That was something I had to shift this year.” Throughout her journey as an athlete, Ross has had a strong support network to look toward. “[My mom] is ... able to be with me at every meet and able to talk through hard times and stuff like that, so she’s definitely someone I rely on,” Ross said. She has also found helpful guidance in coaches she has worked with. “In being my own toughest critic, [my main coach] knows he doesn’t really need to add anything to that, so he always definitely helps boost my spirits.” Despite her mental and athletic progress this year, Ross believes that

sports she is still growing. “For a good first three-quarters of [this] season, I didn’t even do the 300-meter hurdles, which I usually do, and the 100 hurdles, just because of the anxiety they would give me,” she said. “But by the end of the year, I was able to translate that more into excitement and adrenaline.” Equipped with a new perspective, Ross is ready to beat her personal record of 12 feet 10 inches, a jump she took in her sophomore year. “My highest this year is 12′ 6″. I’m proud of that too, just after coming off of a bad year last year, I’m glad I was able to get myself back on track in the right place, physically and mentally,” she said. “I’m feeling very ready to jump higher. I know I’m much better than I was as a sophomore, but I know it’s been a lot of mental struggle holding me back, just confidence and stuff like that.” “Just being able to go to practice with a goal, to just take a bunch of jumps, and even if you’re tired push through, and just accomplish something ... definitely keeps me motivated,” she said. “Being able to go out and work hard and make my body be able to do what I’m trying to make it do is definitely what keeps me going ... because ultimately having a good pole vault workout is more fun than staying up until midnight.” Next fall, Ross will head to Dartmouth College to pole vault for its track and field team. “My goals there would be to enjoy [track] as much as I did this year and it would be nice to get a new personal best [jump], but I mean, I’m having fun with it, it doesn’t really matter, I’m

not trying to go to the Olympics ... My goal would be to have track improve my college experience.” Ross will continue her selfgrowth as an athlete through the lens of mental health into the future. “I tried so hard last year to make myself want to go to practice, but I would find myself at the end of the runway, just

not wanting to be there, which obviously resulted in not being able to jump as well as I could, whereas now, I’m there, and I can get myself excited, and be confident in the fact that I know I can do this, and I want to be here,” she said. “It improved every aspect of the sport.”♦



Boys Baseball

Boys Tennis




Tam beats MC for MCAL championship.

Number of years since baseball’s last champion ship win.

Tam’s regular season record. The tam news



Bernstein Wins Coach of the Year By Ava Finn


am teacher Nathan Bernstein was awarded Coach of the Year for his time and accomplishments as Tam’s baseball coach, on Tuesday, May 28. Despite coaching for only four years, Bernstein has instilled inspiration in all of his players. “He is really good at getting the best out of everyone and motivating everyone to be the best they can,” senior Jake Glenn said. Christina Amoroso, Athletic Director at Tam High, said she specifically picked Bernstein out of 100 or so coaches in the district due to his ability to not only encourage quality sportsmanship in the game but encourage respect and responsibility off the field as well. “I think that he has a pretty unique ability to create a culture around a team which is all positive and winning and fun and at the same time he cares a lot more about us as people than us as baseball players which a lot of coaches say they care more about you as a person but Bernstein truly does,” senior Andrew Frame said. PHOTO BY KARA KNEAFSEY


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His players, including seniors Jake Glenn and Andrew Frame, believe Bernstein has been a great influence on their athletic high school career and find him deserving of the Coach of the Year title. “Ever since he has come to Tam our team has been nothing but successful. We just won the division this year. You know it is a really young team, we only had four seniors this year and I know under Bernstein we will only get better,” Glenn said. “When he came in and took over the program, what he has been able to do in those four years and change and what he has been able to instill in our athletes in terms of his philosophy, the vision he has for the program, the expectations he has of not only his athletes but the coaching staff ... is stuff that is all transferable and something I want to see in every sport,” Amoroso said. Bernstein expresses that Amoroso is someone who he looks up to in terms of coaching. “Ms. Amoroso is outstanding at her job and someone I model my career after, so it means a lot that she felt I was deserving of it and I think the administration had a big say as well, so that just means a lot,” Bernstein said. Coach of the Year has only been awarded to two other Tam teachers since the award has been recognized. Along with Bernstein, Tim Morgan and Dustin Nygaard have also received the award. Yet Bernstein still believes his job is not over after winning the title. Bernstein also has plans for Tam’s baseball’s culture. “We want to get all three banners but I think for me the most

important part is that the people leave the program as better people, because baseball is just a game and it is only important if we learn something about life through it,” Bernstein said. Coach Bernstein also wants to focus specifically on the development of his players throughout the game and hope that they are learning to be respectful and better people through his program. “Something that he would always say to us is it is about what you do when no-one is looking, you know, just be a good person. I mean let’s say I saw a piece of trash on the ground, I should pick it up even if no one else is there. I would say that is definitely something that has stuck with me,” said Glenn. Members of Bernstein’s baseball team also look up to him for advice outside of the game. “There are a lot of kids on our team that go to Bernstein for personal reasons and their life because Bernstein is very ... open to everything. I think he will continue to be a good personal coach and making everyone high character players,” Frame said. Bernstein looks forward to working with Tam’s Baseball team going forward and to continue to encourage good behavior and thoughtfulness. “I’d like to think I won not just because of winning the championship this year because I do try really hard to instill positive values in the kids and for the sport to help them learn something about themselves. I’d like to think that is the reason I won, because of the culture I have instilled,” Bernstein said.♦

“The most important part is that the people leave the program as better people, because baseball is just a game and it is only important if we learn something about life through it.”

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Tam News June 2019  

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