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CONTENTS October 2019

News 04 The budget aftermath 06 PE department drops uniform requirement 06 Students express concern over AP turnover rate 07 District receives anti-vaping grant Lifestyles 08 Are we prepared? 10 Meet the new staff 13 Review: Obama’s summer playlist Features 14 650 words maximum


Opinion 22 Ballet is for boys too 23 Editorial: Not on schedule 24 Steered STEM 26 Reduce, reuse ... recycle? Sports 27 Tam tackles new athletic tutorial 28 Fall sports preview


Dear Reader, Just a month into the new school year, students are already swept up in the pressures of our community. Many of us are looking to a college-bound future. Many of us are just trying to get through high school. With cracking foundations — from constant staff turnover and scheduling mistakes to a disproportionate emphasis on certain academic programs — it’s hard not to feel a little powerless. College applications are looked at in another light in the feature, “650 Words Maximum.” Niulan Wright reprints a variety of application essays from the class of 2019 and talks to the students who wrote them. Our intent is to give all students, no matter where they are in the college process, some insight into others’ approaches in the hope that doing so will relieve their own stress. Logan Little, Johanna Meezan, and Marco Steineke dive into the negative effects that the budget cuts and scheduling crisis have had on students in “The Budget Aftermath.” The editorial, “Not On Schedule,” suggests steps for the administration to ensure a smoother process next year. In “Steered STEM,” Skye Schoenhoeft describes her experience as a humanities-oriented student, and how those interests have made her transcript less competitive. She argues that Tam’s emphasis on AP and honors classes in STEM subjects draws bright students from other paths and alters our perception of academic achievement. When it comes to the anxiety that many students already feel from school and the college process, Tam should be a boon, not a burden. We hope we are doing our part to make it that way.

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 Sophia Martin • John Overton Lucas Rosevear • Tenaya Tremp Sports Paige Anderson • Eli Blum Jordan Cushner • Sam Jefferson Marco Steineke TBN Saranyu Nel • Isabelle Winstead Website Claire Finch • Saranyu Nel Business Team Ian Duncanson • Sophia Martin Samantha Nichols • Lucas Rosevear Cover Tahlia Amanson • Skye Schoenhoeft Mikyla Williams Editorial Board Colin Bender • Claire Conger Ian Duncanson • Leah Fullerton Sam Glocker • Sam Jefferson Kara Kneafsey • Saranyu Nel Skye Schoenhoeft • Summer Solomon Josie Spiegelman • Benjy Wall-Feng Niulan Wright Adviser Jonah Steinhart

Volume XIV, No. I October 2019 A publication of Tamalpais High School Established 1919 Tamalpais High School 700 Miller Avenue Mill Valley, CA 94941 www.thetamnews.org 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.

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The Budget Aftermath A

Last year’s budget cuts have dramatically increased class sizes and worsened errors in student schedules.

variety of scheduling issues impacted students returning to school this year, including free periods in the middle of the day, missing classes, and periods labeled “See Your Counselor” on their schedules, as well as being placed in class sections with unprecedented numbers of students. In the weeks since, counselors and administrators have attempted to fix these issues by collapsing and adding sections and individually adjusting student schedules. “When I received my schedule I not only had a ‘See Your Counselor,’ but had two history classes, AP US History and regular US History, and had been dropped from AP Statistics because they only had one class of it,” junior Lucy Holden-Wingate said. After considerable effort, her counselor fixed her schedule, although she had to pick an alternate course to replace AP Statistics. One of the primary reasons for the issues was the $2.8 million in budget cuts the Tamalpais Union High


The Tam news

School District (TUHSD) passed at the end of last school year, due to increased student enrollment and growing pension rates pushing the district toward insolvency. The cuts included reducing the number of teachers and increasing the number of students taught by the remaining teachers. Teachers are working with the maximum amount of students legally allowed by their new contract, resulting in increased class sizes and the collapsing of classes that have insufficient enrollment. The maximum class size for most subjects is 32 students, according to counselor Alex Hunt. However, there are exceptions to this depending upon department contracts. PE classes, for example, are capped at 40 students, and Chemistry classes can enroll at most 28 students. “This year with the budget cuts, they maxed out. So say there’s 20 students that want to take a class. We’re not gonna run that, be-

By Logan Little, Johanna Meezan, and Marco Steineke with additional reporting by Saranyu Nel

cause financially that’s irresponsible,” counselor Scott Birkestrand said. Teachers and students have experienced a variety of consequences as a result of the class enlargement. Science teacher Simon McBride said his Chemistry, Honors Chemistry, and AP Chemistry classes were all full. “It makes a difference because you just physically don’t have the time to sit with each individual student. The noise level goes up a bit more and the disruption goes up a little bit,” McBride said. “Also, resources are tight in the lab. It’s a big room, but when there’s a lot of kids it feels like there’s another set of materials you need.” This budget cuts also affected the Guitar/Bass class. Last year, the elective was split into two classes. Each class had six bands per period and three to five members in each band. This year, there is one class, and it has 55 students. The large class size increased the average number of members per band to between six and eight. As a result, the 5-by-8-foot rooms meant for each band to separately practice in became more crowded. “The small practice rooms make it hard to be productive in class. There’s not enough space to fit six people and instruments into the band room,” senior Quinn Maynard said. “I usually sit on the floor because six chairs can’t fit in the

room with all the people and instruments already in the room.” Despite being associated with the schedules by most of the student body, counselors are not solely responsible for creating schedules. The process is a group effort between counselors, teachers, and school and district administrators, according to Hunt. After the information of cut classes is shared with the Tam administration in spring, they draft potential schedules to create their master schedule of class periods. This, however, is unable to account for late enrollments and information which the school receives towards the end of the school year, such as math placement for feeder schools and students who are accepted into programs like AIM or TEAM. As a result, class enrollments changed immediately prior to and even during summer vacation, when counselors are not contracted or allowed to work on the schedules, according to Birkestrand. This is a reason for the movement and collapsing of classes which occurs at the beginning of each year. And this year the district cut some of the classes which the school had planned to run, according to Birkestrand, forcing administrators and counselors to put more students in fewer classes. Counselors return to school only a week and a half to two weeks before stuPHOTO BY KATHARINE OWEN

dents do, according to Hunt, at which point they must fix all of the computer-generated mistakes, as well as complete other back-to-school work. “We as counselors get to go in and look at all the errors ... And then students get their schedules and chaos ensues,” Hunt said. However, both Hunt and Birkestrand believe that this year was actually more organized than in years prior. “I think this year was more methodical, and therefore probably took some more time ... Previous years have actually been a lot more chaotic, we just went at a faster rate because we were doing everything at once,” Hunt said. This year, counselors ran the process for making scheduling changes at the beginning of school differently than they did in previous years. Students with critical errors were given priority and allowed to meet with their counselors first. However, students with preference-based requests were not able to speak directly with their counselors. Instead, they were directed to fill out a Google form explaining their issue, which, according to Hunt, counselors started looking at two or three days into the school year. This change was based on feedback from last year and was unrelated to the budget cuts, according to Birkestrand. “I think our communication actually has increased more this year than it has in years past, only the messages are things that people don’t want to hear,” Birkestrand said. All of Tam’s assistant principals (APs) came to this school in 2019. Some


A band from the Guitar/Bass class sits in a 5-by-8-foot practice room. PHOTO BY MARCO STEINEKE

APs oversaw the entire schedule creation process, which included connecting with feeder schools, teachers, counselors, and district representatives in order to be sure that everyone’s needs were met. According to Birkestrand, they did an excellent job in putting together the schedule. Many students had a different perception. Of 30 seniors, juniors, and sophomores interviewed for this article, 19 students said the process of obtaining and fixing schedule errors was worse than last year, and 11 said it was the same. No students characterized the scheduling process as better. Many students were frustrated with the long wait times and extensive process required to repair their schedules. “I spent around five to six hours waiting for the counselors over a two-day period,” Holden-Wingate

said. “This isn’t the first time that my schedule has been messed up. I’ve been in the counselor’s office the day before school every time of the three years I’ve been in high school.” Some scheduling issues could impact students’ academic futures. Senior Charlie Osborn, who signed up to take Honors Physics and got one of the highest scores on the entrance test, received a schedule without the class and later learned she had been unenrolled. “It’s just complicated, because some colleges require the class and others recommend the class, if you are going up for an engineering major,” Osborn said. “When I asked why I wasn’t enrolled into the class, they said the class was full and that they couldn’t guarantee anyone a spot.” Osborn is now attempting to take the class at Col-

lege of Marin. “What I found very surprising was that I had a friend who also was taking Honors Physics, though a week before us getting our schedules her counselor sent her an email saying that she got kicked out, when I had gotten no email or warning,” Osborn said. The counselors and administration have already begun discussing the scheduling process for next year. Currently they hold bimonthly conversations about the schedules and what they will be able to improve upon, particularly given the issues that arose this year. “We’re going to change it up this year. Just like we changed it up the year before. So that comes from meetings, meeting with admin, talking with students, coming back to the drawing board,” Birkestrand said.♦




PE department drops uniform requirement By Katya Wasserman



Students express concern over AP turnover rate

his year, as a result of districtwide budget cuts, the PE department discontinued the use of uniforms, instead requiring that students provide their own athletic attire compliant with the PE dress code. PE teachers Jennifer Harris and Lorna Sturgeon declined to comment on the change. According to the new policy, PE students are allowed to wear the old uniform or their own clothing, including athletic sweatpants or shorts of an appropriate length, athletic shoes with laces,and tops that are not low-cut. “My understanding is

that it was due to budget issues that were happening last year in the district, but I don’t have a lot of details on the decision making process that led to that,” assistant principal Connor Snow, who oversees the PE department, said. Snow was not working for the school when the decision was made. “It’s a transition right now, clearly. The nuts and bolts will be figured out as the year goes on,” Snow said. “Going into class being able to wear your own athletic clothes was really nice,” sophomore Ariana Greenberg said. “My clothes actually fit and they are a lot more comfortable.”♦

they’re going to be coveted by other school districts ... the desire is for other schools to have great people working there, ” Farr said. Among the APs who have had recent departures, three of them left for promoted positions. David Rice and Angela Gramlick both became principals in the Ross Valley School district and Tenisha Tate became principal at Miller Creek Middle School this year. Wendy Stratton and Leah Herrera moved out of the county. Farr stressed that the districtwide budget cuts passed last year were not a

factor in the departures. Neither of the two new APs have worked with high schoolers in recent years. Snow previously worked at Montera Middle School in Oakland, and McLachlan was a teacher before being promoted to an AP at White Hill Middle School in Fairfax. McLachlan said she was excited to work in a high school setting, but is aware that it is considered a larger responsibility. “You’re preparing kids to go off to college or find a career. That’s a pretty important and real thing,” McLachlan said.♦️

By Sophia Martin


ver the past three years, there have been a total of eight assistant principals (APs) at Tam, all of whom left to take positions at other schools, according to principal J.C. Farr. Tam’s current APs are Kaki McLachlan, Karin Hatton, and Connor Snow, who all have been employed here for less than a year. McLachlan and Snow arrived at the beginning of this school year, while Hatton was hired in the spring of the last school year. Students and parents have expressed concern regarding the turnover rate


The Tam news

in the administrative office, especially ongoing issues related to scheduling in recent years. “I think that more experienced people would definitely make students’ lives easier because they have to go out of the way just to be put in the right classes,” senior Jacob Le said. The high turnover rate can be attributed to APs receiving new opportunities and promotions that pushed them to work elsewhere, according to Farr. “When you have talented people, when you have strong administrators, then


District receives anti-vaping grant By Logan Little


he California Department of Education awarded approximately $224,000 to the Tamalpais Union High School District (TUHSD) for this school year as part of the Youth Engagement to Address Tobacco-Related Health Disparities Grant to mitigate the growing vaping crisis in minority student groups. A separate grant from the Department of Justice, obtained by the Marin Police Agency, will fund vaping detectors throughout district schools. The grant is “specific to serving students where there are existing health disparities,” TUHSD wellness director Jessica Colvin said. “So we focused the grant on five groups: LGBTQ students, Latinx students, African American students, and students from our two alternative high schools [Tamiscal and PHOTO BY ETHAN SWOPE

San Andreas].” The money will be used to hire drug and alcohol counselors as well as fund drug-use-specific nursing services at district schools. It will also strengthen the district’s relationship with organizations such as BACR, the Marin City Health and Wellness Center, Huckleberry Youth Program, and the Spahr Center, according to TUHSD senior director of student services Wes Cedros. This includes financing a Marin City Health and Wellness Center employee to be on campus at Tam to provide drug abuse support to students from Marin City. Additional prevention programs will also be implemented. “We will be using the Stanford Tobacco Toolkit and Marijuana Prevention Toolkit, both evidence-based intervention programs, emphasizing harm reduction

and education,” Cedros said. “Some money will also be used to evaluate the effectiveness of our efforts.” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a report in early September which detailed 380 cases of vaping-related respiratory illness in 36 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands since April. According to the 2018 California Healthy Kids Survey, 80 percent of Marin students do not believe there is great risk or harm from regular use of e-cigarettes and 47 percent of 11th-grade students reported that they had used e-cigarettes or vapes. “It’s a matter of educating teens to make better choices,” former peer resource teacher Kelli McGiven said. “People think of other drugs as being more scary because the immediate effects are more severe,

but [vaping is] highly addictive. And that’s the thing that scares me, because a lot of these teens that are doing it for fun now are going to become lifelong users.” Along with the TUHSD, the Novato Unified and Ross Valley school districts also received $130,278 and $114,737, respectively. The grants will be renewed annually for all districts over the next three years. “The advantage of a large grant like this is that it gives us sufficient flexibility to invest in multiple approaches to address the issue,” Cedros said. “There’s never a one-size-fits-all solution to any type of public health crisis and vaping is no different. The ability to vary the approach — as we can do with this grant money — will help us reach more students, wherever they may be on the spectrum of use or addiction.”♦️




Are We Prepared? By Quinn Rothwell


ill Valley residents have dealt with the traffic in their town for many years. Many would agree that it has never been worse. So, imagine close to 15,000 people, all in their cars, driving down Miller or East Blithedale to flee an emergency. Is this a safe way to evacuate? What if we are at school? What does the City of Mill Valley have planned for us? On November 8, 2018, the Camp Fire, the deadliest and most destructive fire ever recorded in California’s history, struck Butte County. The damage resulted in $16.5 billion after 153,336 acres burned and 18,804 buildings were destroyed. Worst of all, the fire caused at least 86 fatalities, many of which were people attempting to evacuate the area. Mill Valley needs a plan to evacuate the 15,000 people living here. Two exits won’t cover us all. The City of Mill Valley has listed information on their website about how they are preparing, and how we can be the best prepared. While many may think taking your own car is what you should do, the best course of action is to evacuate in your neighbor’s car. This will decrease the


The Tam news

amount of time it will take to evacuate from any given town. When emergency sirens — which are tested the first Saturday of every month — go off, do not call 911. Turn on the news and note the severity of the emergency. The fire and police department will most likely have their hands full, so the last thing they need is someone asking if Miller is a good evacuation route. Before evacuating, understand that time is limited. To be prepared, make sure you have all important documents such as passports, birth certificates, social security cards, marriage licenses, and anything else that may take a while to replace. Keep these in an accessible area, not deep in boxes in a closet. Remember that the most important thing is keeping yourself safe, not saving things that can be replaced. Although many think that it is better to be on foot, the opposite is true. Cars provide an enormous amount of protection. They protect from hot gases, embers, and radiant heat, and as long as they are driving on pavement, are resistant to burning. Once in your car, turn on the air conditioning and your headlights. Make sure

every seat is full, helping elderly neighbors or others if they don’t have the capability to evacuate themselves. If school is in session, students will most likely need to shelter in place unless time allows for an evacuation. In Mill Valley, there are six dedicated assembly areas: Tamalpais High School, Old Mill Elementary, Mt. Carmel Church, Park Elementary, Edna Maguire Elementary, Mill Valley Middle School, and the community center. The two main roads in Mill Valley are Miller and East Blithedale, and that will remain the case unless there is an emergency that makes those roads unusable. There will inevitably be traffic, but remember that you are safer inside your car or a building than outside on foot. If there is no other option, pull your car over to the side of the road, never leaving it in the middle because that will put others in danger. We live in a special place which draws many families. Although the population growth adds to our community, it also creates more stress on evacuation. Let’s be ready to support one another with a plan that is public, straight-forward, and talked about throughout the community.♦

Statistics Place Population 1. Marin City


2. Corte Madera


3. San Anselmo 4. St, Helena 5. Half Moon Bay 6. Sausalito

12,615 5,764 11,322 7,061


# of escape routes

# of people using the main road


62 percent


55 percent


53 percent


51 percent


30 percent


61 percent

ABOVE: Escape routes highlighted in yellow. Communities highlighted

in red are most at risk of being trapped in the event of an evacuation, and the table shows the proportion of people who would likely evacuate using the “main” or most popular road. DATA FROM MARIN INDEPENDENT JOURNAL / GRAPHIC BY SKYE SCHOENHOEFT




Meet the New Staff! English Teachers

Arthur Bangs


By Chloe Gammon

rthur Bangs, a new English teacher at Tam, has jumped into the new school year ready to try new things. He teaches English 3/4 and AP Literature this year, a new path for him. Bangs said, “I’m teaching AP Literature for the first time. I taught AP Language for eight years so I felt like I was pretty much an expert on that, and AP Literature I’ve never taught before.” While some may think that mastering a new AP curriculum would be daunting, he is taking a glass-half-full outlook on these new circumstances. “It’s been a big challenge, but it’s really exciting to think that I can just choose from any number of texts out there that are so incredible and share them with my students,” Bangs said.♦



The Tam news

Tara Seekins

Angelo Sphere


By Lucas Rosevear

ew English teacher Angelo Sphere began learning Japanese at age 15 at San Francisco city college, part of a “lifelong fascination” with the culture and language. His fascination would eventually drive him to spend two years in Japan, the first as an English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher, and the second in a monastery, part of an aggressive attempt to learn what it was like to be truly Japanese. Having paused his progress toward a master’s degree to explore Japanese and Buddhist culture, Sphere returned and resumed his education. “I started substituting at Vallejo High School, which was the exact opposite of the teaching at Tam,” he said. Teaching there was a crash course for Sphere in classroom management. He substituted for many classes where he taught teen parents as young as 14. Sphere earned his Master of Fine Arts degree at Mills College and later a teaching credential. And after a brief stint as a student teacher at Novato he moved to Tam. “It feels great [to be at Tam], I feel comfortable,” he said. Sphere is committed to bringing the complexity of his experience to his teaching. “English class is not about learning this set of skills,” Sphere said. “It’s about floating in a world of ideas.”♦


By Natalia Whitaker

ara Seekins, a new addition to Tam High’s English department, is eager to make a difference in her students. She teaches both English 1/2 and American Literature. “I had several friends that worked here,” she said. “[They] encouraged me to come.” She couldn’t be more excited to kickoff the year. Though she is only just beginning her first year at Tam, Seekins always knew that she wanted to be a teacher. In fact, she is building upon 12 years of experience as both a teacher and administrator in California’s public schools. She was principal at Willow Creek Academy in the Sausalito Marin City School District and knows many of the students from that feeder school. In addition, Seekins has a background in law and is involved in the community college program at San Quentin State Prison, teaching English and helping students with their writing. Ultimately, Seekins hopes to create a collaborative environment for her students to thrive in and help shape them into positive and active members within the community. “I think my overarching goal is to help students think critically about how they can contribute in a meaningful way to making the world a better place,” she said.♦


Christina Costello By Ian Duncanson


oming from around the globe, Christina Costello is flying in as a new special education teacher in the Tam staff. “When I went to college at UC Santa Barbara, I studied art, and I did mainly drawing and painting, but then I started traveling a ton, and I realized through my travels throughout the world that I really, really enjoyed working with young adults,” Costello said. “So I started studying education. This is my ninth year as a special education teacher, and I love it, it’s absolutely wonderful.” Although originally from Marin, Costello’s story goes beyond the confines of California. She started teaching in Shiprock, New Mexico, where the school placed her into the special education program. “I didn’t even choose it, but I’m really glad they did, because it offers me a lot of time for one-on-one interactions with students and then a lot of time to build relationships with family,” Costello said. After a while, however, Costello decided she needed to take time off and see more of the world for herself. “I’m actually just coming back from a year off ... I traveled and worked part time,” she said. “I’ve wanted to work at Tam for a really long time, so when I saw that there was a job opening I jumped on it. I hope to be here for a really long time.”♦

Special Education & Wellness Yvonne Milham By Emily Stull o former Tam social studies teacher and new wellness coordinator Yvonne Milham, Tam still feels like home. Although Tam’s wellness center has been valuable, Milham has plans to make it even better. One of her top priorities this semester is supporting new bonds between students through the wellness center. “I want the wellness center to be a haven for students who just need a minute and a quiet, peaceful place,” she said. Additionally, Milham plans to reinstate the Wellness Youth Council to get students’ input on wellness needs rather than collecting information through what she called “adults looking at data.” “I see wellness as making sure that all of the needs that keep [the students] thriving are met. It’s mental health, it’s physical health, it’s how you relax, how you connect. Wellness is all about keeping your body and mind healthy and safe,” she said. “I’m looking forward to reconnecting with a community that already feels like home.”♦


Amber Allen-Pierson By Oona O’Neill


any students already have met Amber Allen-Pierson, Tam’s new outreach specialist. Before coming to Tam, Allen-Pierson ran the college prep program Bridge the Gap out of Marin City for 10 years, as well as the Marin City Health and Wellness Center and the Marin City Teen Center. In addition, she coowns and founded a nonprofit called Powerful Beyond Measure, a program that helps young women in the Bay Area, which she started after seeing so many young women not see how they can make a difference or what role they play in their community. Allen-Pierson’s core belief system is based on caring for children and teens. “The wellness center fits me because I’m all about empowerment and nurturing for children,’’ she said.♦




Counselors & Assistant Principals

April Ginsberg


By Leah Fullerton

or many, it takes years of exploration to find a path they want to pursue, or a career to which they want to devote their lives. But April Ginsberg, Tam’s new counselor, has always been compelled by her job. “I moved around a lot [as a kid] and the counseling office was my first home at school,” she said. Ginsberg attended Redwood, and recalled that she “always wanted to go to Tam.” Through her involvement on the resource staff at Old Mill School, and as an intern at Terra Linda High School and Lawrence Middle School, Ginsberg was able to affirm her passion for counseling. After graduating from Sonoma State University with a degree in counseling, Ginsberg secured her position at Tam, describing her situation as “really lucky.” “My dream job was always Tam,” she said. Ginsberg now looks forward to connecting with her surroundings. “Community is really important to me,” she said. “I hope to create a space where students and their parents feel comfortable and safe.”♦


The Tam news

Cheryl Lua


By Logan Little

heryl Lua is excited to go into her 14th year as a high school counselor as a new hire at Tam. “I have really enjoyed getting to know the counseling department,” she said. “I can tell this is a great place to work.” Lua was previously a counselor at Acalanes High School in Lafayette and Encinal High School in Alameda. She also was a part of University of California, San Diego’s Early Academic Outreach Program. Lua wants to prioritize helping students balance their academic, social, and extracurricular responsibilities. “Students experience a lot of different pressures and expectations that can lead to very unhealthy routines and mindsets,” she said. In addition, she hopes to establish a more inclusive environment at Tam. “I believe that purposefully working toward a culture of respect and acceptance is critical to mental and physical health. Once that is achieved, students can then more reasonably reach their individual academic goals,” she said.♦

Kaki McLachlan Connor Snow


By Ben Stoops

aki McLachlan is starting her first year at Tam as one of the new assistant principals. “I had been looking to find my way into the ‘high school scene.’ I started looking at Tam High and loved all the different things that Tam was,” McLachlan said. McLachlan spent the past seven years at White Hill Middle School in Fairfax, where she developed a passion for watching her students grow. “I loved seeing my high school kids come back and loved seeing how they had matured and become awesome older people,” she said. McLachan said she hopes to help kids to find a good balance between work and fun. McLachlan has had jobs as an oyster shucker and a server in a restaurant. Her plan to make our community better is to get to know the people while looking at challenges in the community and addressing them. “I want to help everyone be their best self,” McLahlan said.♦


By Stephania Glass

ew assistant principal Connor Snow didn’t know very much about Tam when he was looking for jobs. He cast a wide net, given that he lives in Richmond. Snow wanted his job to be close enough to drive to. Tam was the place he really wanted to work, and it just so happened that it fell within his preferences in terms of commute. When Snow is not at school he is rock climbing, mountain biking, hiking, and backpacking. Snow and his wife Chrissie did 170 miles of hiking and camping in the Sierra Nevada on the John Muir Trail. “It was just awesome to be able to spend that time outside enjoying new places together,” he said. Snow said his goals for this year are to work to ensure that all of our Tam students feel included, safe, and respected, and have equitable access to all of the programs that the school has to offer.♦



Review: Obama's Summer playlist By elan levine


n August 24, Barack Obama made history, publishing arguably the most well-rounded summer playlist any politician has ever released. Unencumbered by an election, Obama was able to let loose and be authentic in his playlist. The current 2020 Democratic candidates, like Andrew Yang and Kamala Harris, followed Obama’s lead and released their own playlists, but none of them hold a candle to Obama’s easygoing, upbeat jams. As I listened to all 44 of the 44th president’s recent favorites, I couldn’t help but get up and groove. Almost every song had an empowering and fun feel to it. Obama’s playlist brings together genres the same way he does the American people. The genres include R&B, soul, soft rock, pop, jazz, and a little bit of indie. The theme of the whole playlist is love and togetherness, each song making you feel happy in a different way. Some of my favorite songs


are “Doo Wop (That Thing)” by Lauryn Hill, “Don’t You Worry ‘Bout a Thing” by Stevie Wonder, and “Best Part” by Daniel Caesar. “Best Part” is absolutely beautiful, with smooth and velvet-sounding vocals. It is less upbeat than the rest of the playlist, but it still is a feel-good song. “Don’t You Worry ‘Bout a

Obama's playlist whisked me to faRaway places and caused me to forget our current ADMInISTRATIOn. Thing” embodies all the best parts of summer, a carefree and fun lifestyle. “Doo Wop (That Thing)” is an amazing song. Lauryn Hill (as well as Stevie Wonder) is musical royalty and I was a fan of her before hearing her songs in Obama’s playlist. Hill’s songs, as heard in “Doo Wop,” are filled with so many different components. She combines multiple singers and different instruments and she balances all

of them perfectly. Most of the songs on Obama’s playlist I thoroughly enjoyed, but there were a few that I did not like. One of these was “Senorita” by Shawn Mendes and Camilla Cabello. I personally don’t like the generic pop music sound from this era, and “Senorita” is the epitome of that. Not to mention the fact that this specific song is incredibly overplayed and I just can’t seem to escape it no matter where I go. Another song I didn’t like was “Old Town Road - Remix” by Lil Nas X featuring Billy Ray Cyrus. Similar to “Senorita,” this might be the most overplayed song of the century. It is also just basic pop with no uniqueness. Obama’s summer playlist whisked me to far-away places and caused me to forget our current administration. From 2 Chainz to The Spinners, Barack Obama’s versatile playlist captured my heart and I will definitely be listening to it not only in summer, but year-round.♦




650 W M AX I


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Breathe, stay calm, and remember: There is no guide on how to get into college. Here is a selection of college essays from the Tam graduates of 2019. Their stories cover a range of prompts and subjects. We hope that those starting and in the middle of the application process will find these selections and the advice that comes with them informative. For those who might not be thinking about the college process just yet, we hope you’ll be entertained by the following essays and learn a bit more about your community.







Ili Levine University of Oregon Class of 2023

Don't listen to your parents ... I didn't have anyone reading my essays besides my parents and they made their edits based off of how the world was when they applied to their colleges.

COMMON APP PROMPT #5: Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.

I picked all the prompts that I thought that I could do first and then I brainstormed ideas for each prompt. Then I thought of the idea for this prompt and it was something that was important to me. I figured I could write a moderate essay about it.


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he first time I set foot in my ceramics class, I was an anxious, artistically stunted freshman who was vaguely sweaty after walking up seven flights of stairs. My teacher had long, beautiful brown hair and greeted me with a smile. The first thing she said to the class was a joke about her husband’s name: “His last name is Hicks but don’t you dare call me anything besides Ouse or I. Will. Fail. You.” Since that first day, Ouse worked diligently and consistently to create an environment where all of us felt comfortable pushing our limits, both artistically and socially. She did her absolute best to make the world seem bigger to us. Ouse created a culture where everyone was welcomed with a warm smile and left the class to a chorus of “love you.” She made a place for herself in my heart; she meant a lot to me, as a mentor and as a person. When I first heard from a classmate that she was ill, I flat-out rejected the idea that someone as strong, kind, and thoughtful as my mentor could actually get sick. It was a few months before Ouse admitted it to her students. When I found out about her cancer, I told her she shouldn’t be working, that she should go home and rest. She replied, in true Ouse fashion, “I’m only at work for the health insurance. The real travesty is that my hair is going to start falling out.” I spent all of the following weekend knitting her a scarf. It was only a scarf in the loosest definition, it was the ugliest, most god-awful article of clothing that has ever disgraced this earth. When I presented it to her, she was

so genuinely thrilled, so authentically pleased in my poor excuse for a scarf that she audibly screamed and immediately put it around her neck. After her hair began to fall out, she went wig shopping. She showed up to school with a neon green bob, and changed partway through to a shoulder-length lilac wig. Whatever she did, she owned it. When she started to find it harder to move her body, when she could no longer throw on the wheel, she was the first to make jokes about it. Her decline was slow but steady. When Ouse stopped showing up to work a few months later, the whole art department went into a frenzy, a chicken with its head cut off. We were assured by our TA that she was fine, that the last bout of chemo had thrown her, that she would be back soon. Ouse came in a week later, but only for a day. She wasn’t herself. When she died, it brought the whole art department to a grinding halt. No one cared to participate anymore. More than that, when she died I felt it in my stomach. I felt it in my wrists, I felt it in my eyelids. I physically felt the loss. The woman who was the catalyst for some of my most profound personal growth was gone. The person who engaged me in art, which I had previously completely written off, the person who made me less selfish, the person who connected with kids from a multitude of backgrounds, was gone. I had a difficult time accepting that I was capable of doing everything that she taught me without her. Thinking this felt wrong. It felt like

I thought it was more important to show things that have happened to me that I’ve experienced [instead of what colleges might want to hear] that are true, and won’t change, you know?

FEATURES I was violating her memory by believing that I didn’t need her. I thought about quitting ceramics. I had convinced myself that the only reason that I enjoyed that class was her. While Ouse obviously played a huge part in my joy, I hadn’t given myself enough credit. She guided me, but I had transformed myself. Ouse taught me, she created a culture, she encouraged me every step of the way, but I did it. I pushed myself, I challenged myself, I changed myself. Without the tools that Ouse had given me, I wouldn’t have been able to recover from her death. Without the culture she had created, I wouldn’t have been able to depend on my classmates to help me through it. And she would have never forgiven me if I had given up. The tragedy of her passing also

I wanted to show who I was and who I was when I went through it. It felt like it was an insult to her memory by believing I didn’t need her. But, the fact that I wrote that down made me feel better about saying that, I also changed myself because, the thing is, it wasn’t about just her and it wasn’t about just me so it wouldn’t have been truthful to do it one way or the other.

required me to understand other people more deeply and genuinely. I saw my friends and acquaintances deal with the death of a mentor. Some kids stopped coming to class because they couldn’t face it. Some students refused to make any projects because they felt like they were lost without her guidance. Everyone relied on everyone else. Classmates that I had never spoken to before stopped me in the hallway to check in. I found that trying to make sure that everyone else was alright was a good way for me to appropriately honor her memory, and healed me. I learned that through everything, through all of this loss and pain, we all wanted to give comfort to everyone else. And it was what she would’ve wanted.

I did a lot of internal processing. But then also, when I wrote this, I shared it with my TA and I shared it with the new ceramics teacher … and it was kind of a way for us all to be like, ‘Whoa, yeah, I remember that day,’ you're like, ‘Oh, yeah, I remember she said that joke about insurance,’ and that's kind of a good way to process it too ... this was definitely an important part of my grieving process.

Jacob Blum

University of California, Los Angeles Class of 2023

UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO SPECIFIC QUESTION: Choose a prompt to respond to from this year’s list or years previous. Prompt chosen: “Don’t play what’s there, play what’s not there.” —Miles Davis


though I have just about no musical talent, that does not stop me from appreciating the quote from the late Miles Davis: “Don’t play what’s there, play what’s not there.” While Davis may be emphasizing the importance of musical rests, he is certainly saying more than that and offers a great deal of wisdom in only a few words. For a man who did not have to talk much to impress people, Davis’ words could spark just as much thought and emotion as his trumpet playing. This is an example I hope to follow, letting my actions speak for me just as much, if not more, than my words. To me, playing what’s not there means coloring outside the lines. It means playing something people have not seen before: something that is both unexpected and unknown. To really impress people, you have to show them something that they have not

seen before. I think that being creative and inflecting unique personal style into whatever it is that you do is the best way to accomplish this. That is what I think Miles Davis is trying to get at with this quote. No matter how well you play what is already there, people have already seen it. If you want to make your mark, be creative and be yourself. Only be being yourself can you create something unique and amaze people with something they have never seen before. My desire to do what has not been done stems more from wanting to help others than it does from wanting to impress people. I hope to tackle global issues, specifically climate change. Climate change is an issue that affects every living thing on the planet. To me the best way to help as many people as possible is to take on climate change. Solving our most difficult problems will require taking risks and having faith in new ideas.



FEATURES The solutions to such tremendous challenges will have to be bold and creative while requiring a level of global cooperation never before seen. I believe that these challenges will make our whole generation have to “play what’s not there,” spurring us to endeavor into the unknown in the name of saving our planet. While the circumstances surrounding these issue are quite severe, I find myself excited to see the beautiful solutions that I believe will be among my generation’s greatest achievements. A characteristic of Davis I admire greatly was how he let his actions, specifically his musical ability, speak for him. He was known for being a man who did not mince words. If the question was regarding his musical talent he didn’t have to do any talking at all. His work spoke for itself. I seek to emulate Mr. Davis in this regard. I know talking about making an impact won’t do much good. I instead hope that the work I do and the causes I dedicate Advice towards approaching supplemental essays: Give yourself more time than you think you need. At least in my experience, I waited too long to really start working seriously on my supplementals ... It is really important to get your main essay really polished, and obviously that’s the one that all the schools see ... [but] I kind of thought that if I just focused on that, then the supplements would just be

additional information. And I think that I kind of did that wrong and should have treated those as more important, serious essays. How should students approach broad prompts? Think of the defining moments [in your life], the things you want to write about, your life goals and where they come from, and stuff like that, and then kind of fit that into an essay or into one of the prompts. Your strongest memories are usually

myself to speak for themselves. Only by meaningful and impactful work can do this, but to me that is the only type of work worth doing. Perhaps what is most telling about Davis and his legacy is that he has been able to impact people like myself, not a trumpeter or musician of any kind. His impact seeped out of the musical world and into the mainstream because of the quality of his work and how profoundly talented he was. While some may scoff at the notion of helping every single person in the world, Miles Davis proves that one can most definitely make an impact that transcends time and goes far beyond what was thought possible for a musician. By being unapologetically unique, bold, and innovative, Miles Davis showed that playing what’s not there can be a lot more interesting and impactful than the same old song everybody is used to. also what you’ll be able to write the most about. Try and match it up to a prompt and kind of match it [your topic] up to a few prompts and say, ‘Well, I could write about it from this angle to this prompt or maybe this other prompt.’ You can use the same situation and write about it in multiple ways. What, from your experience, do you think colleges are looking for? Confidence in your personality and individualism and

authenticity. I think colleges want people, not just students. When you’re writing your essay ... you can’t portray a fictionalized version of yourself. Authenticity, individualism, and passion, they want to see that you’re passionate about something. They want to see commitment and passion, because colleges want students that are going to go and work hard.

Julisa Gonzales University of California, Merced Class of 2023

UC APP PROMPT #4: Describe how you have taken advantage of a significant educational opportunity or worked to overcome an educational barrier you have faced. The reason I chose it [UC Merced] was because of the diversity there. I remember when I had toured there, I just fell in love with the campus. And I knew personally, the biggest thing that I was looking forward to, after going to Tam for four years, was diversity. I wanted to be able to see more students of color and people who look like me. And I just felt like I really found that at UC Merced because the minorities on campus here are the white people.


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Advice for students of color: I would just say to work hard and to not give up even when it gets difficult, because in my personal experience, I was tired of writing essays and applying to all these colleges. I almost felt like giving up, but I had my mentors there to support me and to tell me not to give up because at the end of the day, this is to help me out and to further my career. And not only that, but to help my family.


F [Bridge the Gap] helped us [fellow students] branch out, took us to college expos, and we went on tours to colleges and ... just gave us all the information that we needed to know to apply. They gave us that time and space to help write for scholarships and apply for them. Other students have been a part of it for more than four years. And that’s pretty awesome because they know each other, kind of like a family.

or my first two years of high school, I walked 1.5 miles home after school, then took a break and was distracted by anything; I lacked study and organizational skills to do my work. Doubting my capacity to take on harder courses, I chose easier classes. Without a computer or printer at home, I worked on homework during tutorial period or through Academic Workshop class, avoiding working at home. When I needed flashcards or posters for presentations, I created cards from cut-up binder paper, and I got cardboard supplies only when my parents could help me buy them, so I turned in assignments late. I didn’t know how to get myself out of poor practices. At the start of junior year, I applied to be part of Bridge The Gap College Prep and only then realized that college could be (a possibility) for me. During that first year, I needed counselors to tell me practice tests and tutoring were available and to guide me to chal-

lenge myself in my courses going forward. I completely rearranged how I thought about school to plan to be college ready. So in senior year, my homework is done and turned in on time, I have actual flashcards for presentations, I have a computer and wifi, along with a ruler, planner, printer, and tutors at BTG to get my work done. I’ve learned to ask BTG for help with specific questions, and I’m more confident asking teachers to work through problems after class. This year I chose to take AP English Comp and AP Spanish; I’ve learned to advocate for myself to strengthen my course selection. Now that I know, I’ll be able to get guidance right away and when I need it in college; I’ve become resourceful, and, as I do with my younger brother now, will continue to educate 8th graders in my community about high school and to try harder, choose classes wisely, be involved, and advocate for themselves. I want them to learn from my mistakes.

I was the first born in my family to graduate from high school, and so I never really had an older sibling to look up to or to find guidance from. That was another difficult time for me because it was all new to me, so I had no idea what I had to look forward to. Now with him [my brother] I'm able to kind of support him and help him find the resources that he needs.

July Guzman Rhode Island School of Design Class of 2023

COMMON APP PROMPT #1: Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, please share your story. What was your application process like? I just had to figure out everything by myself. I had to call kids that were freshmen in college and they helped me out. What was your approach to writing college essays? My approach to it was more on writing something that I’m interested in and writing stuff about my values and things that I’m passionate about. Usually, the Common App, they want it to be more emotional,

anecdotal. [For the] UCs, they’re more interested in reading stuff that’s more straight to the point. What do you think makes a college essay good? [Writing about something you’re passionate about] makes it more addicting to read. Like, when you’re reading something that is true to someone and emotional to someone, it brings you in and makes you want to know more about them. What advice would you give

about the application process? Start early. Because I started early and it definitely gave me more time to think about what I wanted my essay to be. I went through [about] four different essays and I chose the one that was more compelling to me ... So I would just think ahead and just [try to] be on top of it. Just write down, when you’re writing your essay, just write down everything in your head, all your ideas, and [then] go back and fix

things. I would compare it to art: You’re drawing something or painting something and you just add a bit, and then you come back later and you add more stuff, and then you come back again. Just make sure you’re not in a hurry, because that’s when you fuck up. Don’t be afraid to ask anyone [for help], anyone could help you. I got help from my [teacher] recommender.





meander down the deer path near the shore where I live. I see browns, grays, greens, blues, reds, and yellows. These vibrant colors speak to me. A mixture of true, living colors reflected by sunlight becomes lights and darks, accumulating to create an image. It catches my eye, my eye follows it. Beauty is what I see. Peace is what I feel. This is my happiness. No, don’t leave. These colors are so pure and bright. If only I could take notes of this beauty because it’s evidently teaching me something. Art plays a role in my life as a way to connect with the environment around me and myself. I paint that environment, the land, and the sea. My passion in art is to share with other people that this Earth is full of beauty and we are part of it. When I am walking in nature, when I begin a painting, I am brought back to those moments where my love of nature is deep. In this world, I notice every single detail on a tree or a mountain, or the clouds in the sky, that all work together to make a beautiful image that triggers my emotions. For example, when I paint seascapes, or through “barrels,” a surfing term meaning inside the curl of a wave, I relive that moment and feeling. People who don’t surf, or fish on a boat, will never experience the vantage point of looking at the land from the ocean. The beautiful perspective I see is what I want people to notice. I want my art to allow people to relate to or become curious about beauty and the wonder of nature. People can identify with the experience and appreciate it. Art is [a] part of me that I will use forever to share the beauty of the world and to bring me happiness. Painting cleanses me, and regulates my mood. It filters my thoughts. When my mind is full of

school, chores, and drama, it makes me feel overwhelmed. When I start a painting, everything that distracts me is locked away in the back of my mind, where I can only access it when I’m completely satisfied with my creation. My mind is focused. In a place of peace, and patience, waiting for each layer to dry while blending many other colors. As I’m moving my brush across the canvas there are no restrictions or barriers, every stroke is free. My memory is activated and more detail is placed on the canvas. Painting is a talent that takes time to improve, over time my skills grow. Not every painting will be good and not every painting will get immense amounts of praise, but most of the gratification comes from just that — errors. Without any mistakes there will be no room to grow. This is a philosophy that I carry through many aspects of my life. If painting has taught me anything it’s that nothing is truly a mistake, it’s just how you look at it. Anything can change further down the deer path, I can’t just have a straight paved road. My love of nature, my creativity, my mistakes, and my growth are all connected. A strong cycle that if altered will weaken me emotionally. It teaches me how to grow while increasing my motivation for tasks that I don’t find interesting. It teaches me to appreciate small perspectives that are overlooked. It teaches me the importance of detail and how to dig deep into viewpoints that affect the big picture. A painting without detail is constructed without a character. Within the detail you’ll find the uniqueness of anything. I like to paint with detail because you see and feel more of what the painting is expressing and I would like to share my painted viewpoint with the world.

Emma Stiff Western Washington University Class of 2023

WESTERN WASHINGTON SPECIFIC PROMPT: Share a meaningful experience and how this has helped shape you in your preparation for college. This could be related to your passions, commitments, leadership experience, family, or cultural background.


y language is derived from my mom’s. Her British phrases are what I accepted as standard until I received a look of complete confusion after asking a friend of mine at a sleepover if I could borrow her dress-


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Britishness comes up in my life more frequently than you would expect ... and that has a lot to do with who I am. I knew that one of the focuses of the Western [Washington] community is fostering multiculturalism and working on creating a space where all those sorts of different things can cohabitate.


Obviously, the point of the essays is to demonstrate who you are. Language was a good way to segue into that [because] it's a pretty concrete way to show that side of my identity. Also, I'm planning on studying linguistics, so talking about my prior experience with language is kind of important. Just to give them a sense of ... the lens that I'm using to view my studies and view the world around me.

ing gown. In that moment I could not connect, but as I grew older I realized it was incredibly essential for me to do so. This realization brought me to Global Youth Village, a summer camp in Virginia, where I created connections with people of different cultures who were pursuing fluency in English. In two weeks after freshman year, the group of strangers from America, Egypt, Algeria, Saudi Arabia, and Japan had become my family. One night after our peacebuilding workshop, Mariam, who had claimed me as her little sister and often chatted with me about life, told me about how a town near hers in Egypt was burned to the ground by terrorists and how hers was a probable next target. Fat tears rolled down my cheeks while she spoke, moving me to realize that despite being faced with constant danger, she had stayed the strong, smiley, loving young woman whom I loved so much. I could sit next to her and hear her story because we were brought together by a common language. I could understand her story, even though I had never experienced anything remotely similar, because we were tied by language. A year later, I found myself following another woman named Mariam through the back streets of Fez, Morocco, sharing her country’s history and culture through the food we tasted. Sipping the perfectly sweetened cup of Moroccan mint and lemon verbena tea in Mariam’s favorite cafe, I thought about how our perceptions of other cultures change when we interact with a range of people. Surrounded by a language I could not understand whatsoever, I felt

comfortable there, but I was constantly aware of the differences between me and the locals I sat next to. I turned to Mariam to ask her opinion; she explained that culture was something we bring with us everywhere and, by listening, we can appreciate others. I took another sip of tea and listened to the locals speaking in Arabic and, wanting to understand, I added Arabic to my ever-growing list of languages I want to learn. Feeling inspired on the way to the hostel, I managed a whole conversation with a cab driver in French. It was only in the present tense, but, regardless, it still counts. I returned to California, immediately longing to be somewhere unexplored again, to have endless opportunities to learn about a world different from my own. The next summer, I spent five weeks at a French immersion program in Quebec where I lived my life in French. At first, I barely spoke, I was so scared of messing up; by the end the words I needed popped into my head, flowing easier than ever before, allowing me to laugh and tell stories with my friends as if I had been speaking French my whole life. Since that day in Virginia, I realized that learning through experience draws me in, engages me, and motivates me to go deeper than the surface. What I learned in these places could never be taught in a classroom. I could never understand them as I did had I just been told about it or seen pictures. I take these next steps of my life remembering all that I have learned about myself, ready to be out in the world and see all that it has to offer, in all future tenses.

I'm actually taking Arabic this quarter.

I had this moment where I was like, ‘Wow, all of my privileges laid out on this page,’ and I am not being very sensitive about that. But the Morocco trip, in particular, was honestly very, very eye-opening for me, and it was genuinely bubble-bursting.

When writing this, I was thinking about, ‘What does college mean to me, what do I want to get out of college?’ and one of the things that I kept thinking about was that I just wanted to learn about things that were different than the place that I've been raised [in].




Ballet is for boys too By Johanna Meezan


ale ballet dancers have always been mocked and tormented for their love of such a supposedly “feminine” art form. This bullying is not only extremely sexist, but surprisingly persistent, even in a place we imagine as rather progressive. This past month provided a disheartening example of this, when Good Morning America host Lara Spencer mocked the young Prince George for both being enrolled in and enjoying his ballet classes. The response to Spencer’s comment in the ballet community was global and fervent and has brought public attention to the hurtful and unfair ridicule of boys in ballet. I have been a ballerina for nearly my entire life, and the one constant has been a distinct lack of male dancers in the studio. At my ballet school, I can count on my fingers the number of boys who take classes above the pre-ballet (beginner) level —



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currently there are six regularly attending male dancers. The number of ballerinas at my school is upward of 200, spanning all grades and ages. These numbers speak for themselves. It is difficult to be a male dancer in a female-dominated profession. I cannot speak from experience of the difficulties of being a male dancer, but I feel I have only ever seen two types of male dancers: those who hide this part of their life and those who are bullied. With the former, a boy will lead something of a double life by separating his ballet and school life, allowing him to be accepted in both places as he is, and not as male dancers are perceived outside of the studio (there is a well-known stigma that male dancers are or seem to be gay). Although hiding their interest in ballet out of self-preservation may not seem like such a bad option, it unfairly deprives the boys from being able to be true to themselves

at school, unlike many children who are able to discuss sports at school regularly without being taunted. In the case of mistreating male dancers, Spencer’s comments demonstrate that this bullying is not unique to children and teens. Because male dancers number so few, they are an easy target, and few peers stand up for them. However, we in the ballet community will always encourage anyone and everyone to take ballet if they choose. As a response to Spencer’s ridicule of Prince George, 300 ballet dancers, mostly male, performed a ballet class in Times Square dedicated to fighting bullying of male dancers. In attendance were three professional ballet dancers — Robbie Fairchild, Travis Wall, and Fabrice Calmels — from American Ballet Theater, a famous ballet company located in New York City. All three dancers later met with Spencer to explain to her the hardships that come with pursuing ballet as a male dancer. While

this was an excellent platform to educate the world on the harm of bullying, the world still has rather a lot of catching up to do. On August 29, Laura Ingraham and her guest Raymond Arroyo mocked Spencer’s apology on Ingraham’s Fox News show The Ingraham Angle, not only attacking the fact that she apologized for her comments, but also reinforcing the idea that ballet is not “exemplar of a male.” Ultimately, the incidents with Spencer and Ingraham prove that, although we have progressed in our ability to accept others in general, basic prejudices remain. Ballet classes teach people, regardless of gender, many positive traits — strength, grace, ambition, introspection, and self-correction — which they can carry with them throughout their lives, with or without taking up a career in dance. Each time a male dancer who has come to love ballet is ridiculed, as Prince George has been, we prove that we haven’t made the progress we need to.♦




n the first day of school, in accordance with Tam tradition, students rush to change or fix their schedules. This year something was different: Many students started running into difficulties, starting with considerably longer waiting times to meet with their counselors. Fuller classrooms and the elimination of several class periods, consequences of the districtwide budget cuts passed at the end of the last school year, have compounded the problem. Parts of the scheduling conflicts were unavoidable. But there were many places where they could have been handled more smoothly. Even a week into school, whole classes were transferred to different teachers and students were left with free periods in the middle of their days. Of course, the increase in class sizes and consolidation of classes made organization difficult, but when students tried to fix their schedules, they faced impossibly long lines, unanswered Google form requests, and overworked staff. At the same time, the Tam administration has faced extremely high rates of turnover. Two new counselors and two new assistant principals have been added this year, and several have left Tam over the recent years. A lack of administrators who are familiar with the school does little to alleviate scheduling issues, swamping new and hopefully long-lasting staff in a flood of frustrated students, emails, and angry parents. Students change their mind about courses and, sometimes, about teachers. Non-essential preference changes will be a part of the

early school year for as long as Tam allows them. But essential changes should not be. Class preferences were submitted in February. We received our class schedules in August. There should not be, after that amount of time, such a significant number of students with unfinished schedules. It does a disservice to the students, who are here to pursue an education, and to the counselors, who are here to facilitate that pursuit. While The Tam News understands that many of the issues facing students at the beginning of the school year were handled to the best of the staff’s abilities, we believe that there were some things that could have been done differently. For instance, students could have been given their schedules a week earlier, as they were in other Tamalpais Unified High School District schools. This would have provided ample time to discover and address problematic schedules. It would have kept the lines on the first week of school shorter, and the classrooms fuller. Next year does not need to fall out the same way that this year and past years have. While we welcome our undoubtedly talented new administrators, we all deserve investment in a core staff that doesn’t take their experience with them at the end of each year. And counselors deserve a lighter caseload, even if it means appealing to the public for proper funding. We understand that the district is struggling, but that is not the students’ fault. We lose time and patience with the education system when we stand in lines instead of sitting in classes.♦

Heard in the Hallways “I just want to sit in the bathroom and Juul all day” —Wood Hall Bathroom “I had to use my condom cash for lunch” —Safeway “Pamplona is like the Alabama of Spain” —Wood Hall “I’m in line for the communal stall” —Girls’ Bathroom “Bro, if you fight me on that point Imma call my mom” —Basketball Court “I got excited that I had three snaps and then I realized that two of them were from my Link Leaders” —Language Building “Yeah I saw that at Urban. I couldn’t tell if it was a top or a bra” —Arches





Steered STEM

Tam’s use of honors and AP classes makes math and science the most competitive route, diminishing opportunity in other academic interests. By Skye Schoenhoeft


s I enter my senior year, I’ve been forced to reflect on the blink that was high school. I’ve had a fire time, and I’m ready for what my next chapter in life may be. Yet, I admit to a pang of remorse over my transcript. While I tried my hardest in school, my numbers are not as competitive as others in my grade. I took the classes that I wanted to take, which inadvertently led me on a path of weaker scores at Tam, a school which caters to students interested in STEM. I was already thinking of the presentation of my transcript as an underclassman. I love to write, so it was a logical choice my sophomore year to join the journalism class. I doubled in English by taking both English 3/4 and Advanced Journalism (although Journalism isn’t a

UC-approved English credit, the feeling is there). There was no additional honors or Advanced Placement (AP) course for English. I’ve always been a bit competitive though, so I sought a way to bring up my GPA. I took Honors Integrated Science (IS) 3/4, the only mandatory sophomore class, other than Honors Advanced Algebra, that offered an advanced option. I’ve never been much of a scientist. I took Honors IS 3/4 in the interest of my transcript — I didn’t care about the class content. That wasn’t the case for everyone though, and many students in my class were already looking to a STEM future. There were students in my class who doubled in science, much like I doubled in English. This is where the gap began.

“Differences in academic interests do not equate to differences in intelligence.” 24

The Tam news

“STEM should not be the only path for driven people at our school.”

Students who wished to double in science my sophomore year could take honors science electives like Chemistry and Physiology in addition to IS 3/4, which was also offered as an advanced class. By simply being interested in the right subject, they had the chance to earn a potentially higher GPA. I, instead, doubled up on English, which offered no bump. Tam has since ended the IS curriculum, and the new three-year program does not offer honors separation. Even so, the other honors electives are still offered, along with a significant amount of additional credit. There are 16 year-long science courses offered this year, three of which are honors, and four of which are APs. It’s a similar case with math: 15 year-long courses offered, three honors, four APs. Other departments at our school don’t offer nearly the same number of GPA boosts. Tam offers 11 English courses, with only six full-year courses. Two of those are AP, and none are honors. There are 17 social

studies classes, but only five are full-year, and only two of those are AP. If I had wanted to focus my academics on English or history, the courses would not have benefited my transcript the same way. I’m fine at math. But while I can do math, I don’t want to devote the majority of my time to it. I’d much rather be learning about history, and, by extension, our modern world. Unfortunately, there are no advanced history courses designed for underclassmen. So I took the two years of mandated general education. Math, on the other hand, provides honors classes for those who can keep up, regardless of grade. My peers in freshman year were already bumping their GPAs up for being strong math students, leaving me in the dust. I don’t regret the decisions I made in high school — at least not those regarding my schedule. I took the classes that were right for me, and I am OK with the fact that my transcript may have suffered a little from that choice. My issue with the additional honors and PHOTOS BY SAMANTHA FERRO

AP courses offered at Tam is that by boosting math and science scores, the classes available create the perception that STEM students are more competitive, or “smarter,” from a numbers standpoint. This altered view of achievement creates a culture at Tam where math and science are valued more highly, drawing bright students seeking the most marketable, college-curated path. We’ve all heard before about the “pressure cooker” where we live, so it’s only logical that the most competitive people would be guided to the most competi-

tive route. This doesn’t provide fair representation for the ambitious students who don’t wish to be a doctor or an engineer, for while they are just as intelligent, their interests are not being similarly rewarded. STEM should not be the only path for driven people at our school. This situation isn’t unique to Tam, though. Nationwide, schools have been scrambling to teach their students what they believe are the necessary skills for the newly STEM-dominant age, competing with other countries for the highest scores. What everyone seems to have forgotten,

though, is the world doesn’t run on only STEM — we need teachers and artists and lawyers and firefighters and writers and musicians and politicians and police officers and journalists to keep things running smoothly. It is Tam’s responsibility to teach students that these paths are of equal value. Differences in academic interests do not equate to differences in intelligence. In my ideal world, GPA boosts would not exist. Students would build their transcripts solely on the classes they are interested in, their reward being the knowledge they gain. This


may never happen, but Tam should at least provide a more proportional opportunity for the classes provided; there is no reason that there are 11½ more years of science classes offered at our school than English. The same balance should go for grade boosts. If Tam is offering seven opportunities for GPA bumps in math, why are there only two* in social studies? Tam needs to stop telling students that to be successful you have to be a scientist, because my word-loving friends and I deserve just as much respect for wanting to be journalists.♦

*Honors U.S. History is an additional course offered solely for students in the AIM program in place of AP U.S. History.

Crackin’ and Slackin’

Hear something in the halls? Think something is crackin’ or slackin’? Let us know on The Tam News instagram: @thetamnews




Reduce, reuse ... recycle? By Tenaya Tremp


rowing up, most of us dream of making some sort of lasting impact on the world. Well, don’t worry, because I’m here to tell you that you already have — and you continue to do so every single day. Every single day of every single year, nearly every one of the 330 million people living in the United States of America is making a similar impact. So are the majority of other people living in other countries around the world. What kind of an impact, you may ask? Trash. Lots of it. The average American adult throws away about seven pounds of trash every day. Over a year, that translates into roughly 2,555 pounds per person in the United States alone. And in America, only about a third of that massive amount of trash is recycled or composted. Here in Marin, most of us consider ourselves environmentally aware. We value the natural beauty around us and try to protect it. We bring our own bags to the store, carry reusable water bottles and straws, and separate our recyclables from our garbage. We like to think that we are doing our part to protect the planet by making a smaller carbon footprint than the average world citizen. The sad truth, however, is that our footprints are much larger than we like to imagine. We like to think we’re doing good, but the hard truth is much more discouraging, and so


The Tam news

we avoid it. The past 50 years have seen the birth of the recycling movement in America. Towns and cities across the country have adopted ambitious recycling goals and strict regulations relating to the separation and collection of recyclable goods. In many places there has been an impressive drop in the amount of landfill-designated garbage that is collected. Marin and the rest of Northern California are some of those places, and all of us

and find something to do with them. Few of us have bothered to ask whether those countries really do use everything we send to them. It’s easier (and much more pleasant) to imagine that we are doing the right thing and that it is enough. If we think that what we are told will be recycled really is being recycled, we can continue to enjoy a lifestyle of consumption and convenience without suffering pangs of guilt. By not bothering to look behind the curtain, we

who live here share a sense of pride and righteousness about this. How troubling it is, then, to learn that much of that sense of satisfaction is misplaced. That, in fact, we are all quite deluded about what is actually happening to those things that end up in our recycling bins. Recycling is only an effective solution to the waste we generate if there is an active market for what is collected. Here in America, we have done little to create those markets. Instead, we have relied on foreign countries — mainly China and India — to buy our recyclables

can maintain the illusion that we are part of the solution, not part of the problem. Sadly, however, that’s not the reality. In January of 2018, China enacted the National Sword Program, which strictly raised the criteria for the types of recyclables it would accept from foreign countries. By 2020, the Chinese government plans to ban imported recyclables for good. This decision was spurred by an increase in Chinese recycling, meaning that there is no need for China to buy American recyclables. Suddenly, no

one will take those almost 25 million tons of recycled products that Americans generate every year. It is becoming increasingly difficult for the garbage collection industry to cover the cost of collecting, separating, and bundling recyclables for a market that has suddenly dropped away. So what can we do about it? Well, it’s pretty hard to say for sure. Giving up on recycling for good won’t solve the problem — it’ll just succeed in continuing to fill up our landfills. Finding American companies to meet the demand would be ideal, but for some reason this doesn’t seem to be happening. So the only real solution at the moment is to simply limit what we consume. We can no longer justify using plastic bottles or containers with the knowledge that they’re being reused. We have to face the truth, and come to terms with the consumerist lifestyle that we all are part of, and then make a conscious effort to limit the amount of plastics and other recyclable containers in our everyday lives. We can’t give the stuff away, much less sell it. Increasingly, those items that we diligently toss into the big blue bins around campus are finding their way to the landfill along with all the rest of our trash, where it will sit for ... ever? This may not be the kind of lasting impact you were hoping for.♦ GRAPHIC BY TENAYA TREMP



By Eli Blum



s the school year begins, so does a new program aimed toward boosting Tam athletic. This year, acting upon PE teacher and boys varsity soccer coach Dustin Nygaard’s idea, the athletic department is creating a new athletics tutorial program, where selected student athletes are placed in a single tutorial class. Christina Amoroso, the head of the athletics department, claims the intent of the new tutorial is to connect athletes who normally wouldn’t interact with each other outside of their respective sports. “Our goal is to get a collective representative of all of our sports, all levels, and get everyone in the same room, with an opportunity to be almost like an athletic leadership program,” Amoroso said. Currently, most athletes in the program are upperclassmen, with representatives from all sports present. Students were selected for the program by Amoroso, Nygaard, and social

“We’re hoping that the people in this room will be leaders on campus” studies teacher and basketball coach Tim Morgan, with input from other teacher coaches. While the athletic tutorial continues to develop, one of the most important points of emphasis for the new program is to build a sense of community around sports. “The recurring theme has been more support for all sports across all genders,” Morgan said. “There are a lot of athletes here doing great things that people ought to be aware of, so getting more people to those games, as well as being academic support for people


within the entire program.” Another area the two coaches emphasized was leadership training, allowing athletes to take what they learned from the program and their fellow student athletes, and use it to become team leaders. “We’re hoping that the people in this room will be leaders on campus, as well as setting the trend for positive behavior in games,” Nygaard said. Senior and boys varsity basketball player Sammy Blair said he was excited for the opportunity the new program provided, especially because it addresses the difficulties of being a student athlete. “We want a place where athletes can talk about their sports, both the physical and mental side of the game.” Blair said. “I think that if we discuss the mental side of the game more together and how we struggle together or how we can grow, then I think that can benefit all Tam sports, as well as the athletes personally.”♦




Varsity football vs. St. Mary’s

Girls volleyball preseason

Girls golf vs. Branson





Fall sports preview By Claire Conger, Kara Kneafsey, and Tenaya Tremp

Girls volleyball “The team is off to a strong start (8-0 so far) led by senior captains Tate Martinelli and Ella Bricker. We feel very optimistic about our season outlook and are looking to qualify for both MCAL and NCS Division 3 playoffs. Of course a lot of other teams are too, so we know we have our work cut out for us, but we are looking forward to the challenge.” —Ray Karter

Cross country “We have an outstanding group of runners who have some big goals this season, both individually and as a team. The veterans are well prepared for the long meet season ahead and the efforts from our incoming freshmen have been strong as well.” —Phil Osetre

6 Girls water polo

Boys water polo “Tam boys water polo looks to have a very young, but very talented squad. We expect to contend for the MCAL crown, and potentially a repeat of last season’s NCS Division 1 championship. The team will be led by juniors Max Pollack, Connor Stauffer, and Willem Palmer. Goalie Nikita Valajev is the best goalie in our league.” —Robert Kustel



The Tam news

“We have a great team this year, very balanced. Both our offensive and defensive talent pool is deep and we should do very well against our opponents. Our goals this season for the Tam girls varsity water polo team are [to] beat Drake and win MCAL first place, win NCS Division 2 (again), and to have fun and continue to be a team that is strong, supportive and a fantastic experience for the athletes.” —Paul Hettler



Football “All of my players have bought into what we have been building for two years, so I think that this year we are going to do great as a team, not only in wins and losses, but everywhere else on campus as well.” —Matthew LemMon


Field hockey “Our hockey team is coming together and really sorting out playing as a team to score goals (9 against Drake last week) and play some great defense. While we have six new players on the team, I think we will hold our opponents to less scoring against us and perhaps win a few more games!” —Michelle Perrin


Girls golf “We’ve got a nice group of girls ... it’s a nice blend of experienced leaders and younger players. Our record is 4-1 in league and 5-1 in all, so we’re doing good ... I’ve been doing this for 12 years and every year the teams are special to me and this one is no different ... I’m looking forward to the rest of the season!” —John Haight

3 Girls tennis “Girls varsity tennis is off to a good start, with an early win over Redwood and good results from the Fresno and Logan tournaments. As we say in the tennis program, ‘So far, so far.’” —Bill Washauer







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Tam News October 2019  

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Tam News October 2019  

Download this magazine as a PDF: https://bit.ly/34PWtLN


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