November 2021

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TJTODAY vol 7 issue 3 nov. 2021

thomas jefferson high school for science and technology 6560 braddock rd. alexandria, va 22312

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ABSTRACT

A student pays for honey buns during Jefferson Orchestra’s bake sale on Nov. 17. The honey bun sale marks a departure from the usual pie sale, providing an individually wrapped food alternative to comply with COVID guidelines. “Preparation was actually a lot simpler this year because of the change in goods; when we did the pie sale there were so many more steps in the process including cutting and plating compared to now where we just lay packages out,” senior and Jefferson Orchestra member Lynelle Chen said. “Regardless of the change in workload, it wouldn’t be possible if we didn’t have so many orchestra students come in the set up, sell, and clean up afterwards. It was a group effort!” PHOTO// T. Andronescu

STAFF EDITORIAL BOARD

Print & Online Editors-in-Chief Aafreen Ali Annika Duneja Anuj Khemka Rachel Lewis Christina Lu Nathan Mo

Broadcast Executive Producers Team Leaders Sahishnu Hanumansetty Elaine Li

Social Media Manager Yoo-Bin Kwon

Eric Feng Aarya Kumar Sai Mattapalli Robert Stotz

Advisor: Erinn Harris

is determined by the editorial board. Unsigned editorials reflect the majority opinion of the staff of tjTODAY, but not tjTODAY is the official newsmagazine necessarily the opinions of individual of Thomas Jefferson High School for editors. Science and Technology. The staff is deeply committed to a code of journalistic ethics that demands the exercise of accuracy, good judgment, and impartiality. The content of tjTODAY

tjtoday.tjhsst @tjhsst_media

@tjtoday_news

tjTODAY


CONTENTS tjTODAY vol. 7 issue 3

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16 cover story RIGHT ON THE MONEY Jefferson students leap into the world of entrepreneurship, creating everything from online jewelry stores to software development companies.

COVER PHOTOS // A. Ali, R. Trainer

features 04

entertainment NINETIES NOSTALGIA 90s fashion makes a comeback.

sci-tech 16

sports 10

ROAD TO ISEF ISEF 2021 winners detail their experience presenting at the largest science competition in the world.

FLYING FOR FENCING After years of training, two Jefferson fencers earn the opportunity to compete internationally.

opinion 14

PODIUM PROMISES To be truly representative, class council elections must do a better job of engaging and informing voters.

A CLEAN WHITEBOARD Michael Wang adds a pop of color to the normally empty whiteboards in Jefferson’s common areas.

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nov. 2021

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NO-CHRISTMAS MUSIC-VEMBER Christmas music shouldn’t be played until December to minimize holiday burnout.

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‘TIS THE SEASON WHEN I SAY IT IS Christmas music shouldn’t be limited to a three week time frame just because some people don’t like it.

19

RELIGIOUS OBSERVANCE DAY Students who participate in religious observance days might miss more than just a “review day.”

corrections Sept. 2021, “What I’ve Learned”: The interviewee’s last name was mistyped as “Repulapelli.” The correct spelling is “Rekulapelli.” Oct. 2021, “Facing the Freshmen”: Due to a reporting error, the last names of two interviewees, Diana Gabino and Parker Mitzkovitz, were mistakenly published as “Rodriguez.” tjTODAY apologizes for these errors. They have been fixed on the Issuu publications of the September and October issues.


ILLUSTRATIONS// Michael Wang

by Miriam Antony

Sophomore Michael Wang adds a pop of color to the normally empty whiteboards in Jefferson’s common areas.

W

The character above is Hutah from the video game Genshin Impact. Wang drew this sketch around three different times, each because unknown students kept erasing his original work from the board.

hhiteboards are not an uncommon sight at Jefferson. There is one at the front of every classroom, rolling ones randomly around the school, and large ones spanning the walls of the commons. Each one generally remains empty of marker, yet filled with potential. Recently, sophmore Michael Wang has taken advantage of that potential through his artwork, drawing anime and video game figurines that have captivated students. “I just saw the whiteboard and I was like, ‘Wouldn’t it be funny if out of nowhere, there was suddenly an anime girl on the whiteboard?’” Wang said. “I asked my friend, and they were like, ‘That’s hilarious, do it.’’ This is the first time Wang has shared his work outside of Facebook. He says that drawing in front of people adds a performative aspect, especially when they come up and compliment him. “They’re like, “Hey, I like what you’ve drawn so far.” Sometimes I stop and I say “Thanks!” and they say, “What are you doing? Keep

drawing!” Wang said. Although it is the first time Wang has shared his work publicly, he has been drawing for eight years, ever since his parents signed him up for a drawing class. Now, Wang uses art to relax. “Math was one of those things I used to really enjoy. But now that I have to get more competitive about it, it’s less enjoyable. Art remained as one of those things that I can just enjoy and do whatever I want,” Wang said.


FEATURE 5

This is one of the more recent sketches that Wang drew on the whiteboard, based off of the character Omen from the video game Valorant. Wang said “I got a request from someone to draw a girl from this game. I decided that this guy looked a lot cooler and so I drew him instead.”

At first, many of Wang’s smaller drawings were erased from the whiteboards without his knowledge. To deter students from erasing his artistry, Wang decided to draw something larger than he had ever drawn before. He drew this untitled picture based off of work by artist Pan Chengwei during a single 8th period block.


CRUCIALNET

RUSHIL UMARETIYA, 11

by Aafreen Ali, Annika Duneja, Anuj Khemka, and Nathan Mo

RIGHT ON THE

Jefferson students leap into the world of entrepreneurship, creating everything from online jewelry stores to software development companies


COVER STORY 7

SUNSHINE CONFECTIONS RAE TRAINER, 12

BRACELETACE

VICTORIA SPENCER, 12


BRACELETACE

When demand for senior Victoria Spencer’s homemade bracelets, rings, and necklaces dried up among her friends, Spencer didn’t stop making jewelry. Instead, she made a business out of it. Since sophomore year, BraceletAce — Spencer’s online jewelry store — has served over 70 customers. What started as a hobby has quickly become a full-fledged business, with around $1500 in revenue to date. As demand increases — in part thanks to glowing online reviews — Spencer sometimes struggles to keep up with orders. Still, she finds motivation in the joy that her products bring to customers. “It’s so much fun when you can make a connection with a customer and make their day warm. A customer was telling me how much her daughter loves the jewelry, and it just made me so happy that she can find so much joy from this,” Spencer said.

NUMBERS AT WORK

Inside the statistics (as of Nov. 21) that define Jefferson students’ businesses

CrucialNET’s revenue

sales by BraceletAce

hours spent per Sunshine Confections order

CRUCIALNET

In the classic mix of quarantine boredom and a lot of time, some people took up a hobby, or slept for 15 hours a day. Junior Rushil Umaretiya started a software developing business called CrucialNET. His skillset turned out to be in high demand, as he’s gotten commissions from Harvard professors, hotel chains and everything in between. “It’s not really industry specific, because everybody needs a worksite nowadays, or people need personal management systems, “Umaretiya said. “I just have to adapt to whatever industry I’m building for, whatever they’re looking for.” This isn’t just a high school business, though. For Umaretiya, this is the first step into what might be the rest of his career. “It’s given me sort of a strong taste of what my future might look like, so I think it’s sort of like a test run for me,” he said.


COVER COVERSTORY STORY 99

SUNSHINE CONFECTIONS

What began as a way to share an excess of quarantine baked goods is now senior Rae Trainer’s baking business, Sunshine Confections. Trainer crafts everything from skateboard-themed cakes to pumpkin macarons. She times her baking to fit with her busy student schedule, but it can be difficult to procure the right supplies for her goods. “It seems simple, like if you’re putting a cake on a cardboard round, the cardboard round has to be exactly the size of the box. But you don’t really think about this supply stuff [until] you become a small business owner,” Trainer said. Despite these difficulties, Trainer finds satisfaction in the process and her customers’ reactions to her baked goods. “Honestly, seeing that people enjoy what I make, I know that sounds cliche, but it is fun. But the best part is always knowing that people [have] appreciated what you’ve done for them,” Trainer said.

EXPERT ADVICE

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Tips on how to start and run a business, from people who know the process

Research

“Make sure you do your homework. Make sure that you’re understanding trademarks. Make sure you’re understanding privacy laws,” Principal Ann Bonitatibus said. “ A lot of the legal background in research is really, really important.”

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Networking

“When you are looking for work, you have to know people without work. Networking is probably one of the most important things because there’s so many people that offer this thing that I do,” Umaretiya said. “And so it’s really just who I can get to first.”

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Advertising

“Sometimes kids at TJ will see my Facebook posts [and want to order]. I also started an Instagram. That was one main way to grow my business. I haven’t gotten any [order] requests yet from the Instagram but I have a small number of followers. It’s growing, though,” Trainer said.

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Customer Connection

“Customer connections and trying to always have positive reviews can be challenging,” Spencer said. “I remember one time, I got a one-star review because the bracelet broke. I freaked out, and I sent her two extra bracelets and I was like, “please, please, please retract your review.” That was definitely challenging because I lost money on that order.”


en g cin f

takes flight by Chris Yoo and Keertana Senthilkumar

E

After years of training, two Jefferson fencers earn the opportunity to compete internationally

n-garde. Prêts? Allez! And with that, the competitors are off, weapons in hand, ready to strike at the opportune moment. In fencing, the objective is to strike the opponent before they can strike you, Sophomore Ajit Sivakumar and freshman Aidan Lee have mastered this routine, conquering opponents in tournaments throughout the United States. As nationally ranked fencers, both Lee and Sivakumar recently got the opportunity to take their talents overseas. Lee’s tournament in Budapest, Hungary on Nov. 13-14 and Sivakumar’s in Grenoble, France on Nov. 20-21 mark the first time either have traveled abroad for fencing. Both fencers compete in the cadet age group, ages 14 to 17. “It’s my first international tournament. I’ve been fencing with people who are older than me for a while,” Lee said.

Climbing the Fence Lee began fencing when he was eight years old, while Sivakumar took up the sport a bit more recently. “I was initially inspired [to start fencing] after watching the Olympics in 2016. I didn’t know much about it, because fencing


SPORTS 11

Lee’s first international tournament took him to Grenoble France, pinpointed by the destination marker above. The city, situated in southeastern France, is at the heart of the French Alps mountain range.

was pretty small compared to a lot of other sports,” Sivakumar said. As is with many major achievements, the opportunity to represent the country in an international tournament takes hard work, dedication, and a little luck. In the rankings leading up to the tournaments, Lee was ranked 21st in the nation, while Sivakumar was 14th. “First, they [ask] the top 20 people in the nation. Then, if someone doesn’t want to go, they ask the next person. I was 21st, so because someone didn’t want to go, I got to go,” Lee said. Game Plan The two have been preparing for a long time, and in the days leading up to the tournaments, neither has slowed down their preparations. “I train after school from 7 to 9 p.m pretty much every day except Tuesday and Thurs

Lee talks to fencing coach Greg Massialas during the individual competition portion of his tournament. Lee competed in the Cadet Individual and Team Men’s Foil Event in Budapest, Hungary from Nov. 13-14. “In individual, I got out in the second round. I was winning 13 to 11. I just messed up and I lost,” Lee said. Photo courtesy of Aidan Lee

day, with a lot of conditioning and physical training,” Lee said. To properly prepare for a tournament, fencers have to account for many aspects of the sport and get in optimal condition. “We do drills with bladework or footwork, or practice fencing each other. The individual lesson is where you can really work on technique and strategy. If I recently lost in a tournament, I would watch the tape and figure out what I did wrong,” Sivakumar said. Both athletes train regularly with or without an upcoming tournament, but preparing mentally is specifically valuable for tournaments. “Before a tournament, I practice and do drills for situations that I might be in. Like if the score was tied, what would I do to win? Or if I was losing by three points, what can I do to make sure I don’t lose more points myself ?” Sivakumar said. Going Abroad Although Lee and Sivakumar have competed in fencing tournaments across the country, international tournaments are new territory for them. “At first, I just thought ‘Oh, I did what I had to do to get there,’ but now it’s like ‘Wow, I’m traveling internationally,’” Sivakumar said before the competition. “Generally, when I go to a tournament, I know what to expect, but I’m not sure what to think about this one.”

Like Lee, Sivakumar also headed to Europe in his first sporting trip overseas. Budapest, Hungary -- where Sivakumar competed for two days -- serves as the nation’s capital and is in the central part of Europe.


VERB

Makonnen attributes the recent movement back to ‘90s fashion to nostalgia. “It’s hard to get a good grasp of what everyone else is wearing when people have been away from each other for so long. So it kind of makes sense that people are looking towards what’s already happened for advice on what to wear,” Makonnen said.

sweater vest

nostalgia

NINETIE ‘90s fashion makes a comeback By Christina Lu

ILLUSTRATIONS // Christina Lu

straight leg jeans Makonnen is selective about the clothes she buys. “I don’t have a lot of jeans, so whenever I buy clothes I try to buy as many jeans as possible. So I don’t buy very many shirts because I mostly just take stuff from my parents and thrifting is also very helpful if you’re trying to be money conscious,” Makonnen said.

Junior Maya Makonnen experiments with the clothes her parents already have. “I’ll just go in their closet and I’ll take one thing, and I just want to see what I already have that matches it and it’s really fun. That’s a way to help me branch out of my comfort zone,” Makonnen said.

knee high socks PHOTO // Pretty Little Thing

velvet underground t-shirt

doc martens

PHOTO // Annika Duneja Freshman Jacob Dipasupil tries to form outfits with the clothes he already owns. “I usually look at what is in my wardrobe already because I can’t really buy new clothes all the time. And then go on YouTube or something search like outfits with bomber jacket,” Dipasupil said.

corduroy pants

PHOTO // Walmart

light wash skinny jeans

bucket hat

stan smith sneakers PHOTO // Esquire

claw clip PHOTO // Hikoco

PHOTO // Christina Lu


ia

ES

PHOTO // Katelyn Chen

graphic t-shirt Chen appreciates that current fashion trends don’t have a big emphasis on the body. “Baggy jeans are in style now and [with] a lot of the stuff in this outfit, I don’t have to try when I’m wearing them. It’s just easy. Throw something together and the colors work so you wear it,” Chen said.

plaid shirt layering PHOTO // More

PHOTO // Aafreen Ali

silky cami

ENTERTAINMENT 13

Junior Katelyn Chen first got this plaid shirt in seventh grade. “I didn’t wear it for a long time because I didn’t know what to pair it with. But now it’s become a staple because it gives me fall vibes, and it’s a nice warm color,” Chen said.

Both senior Alice Ji’s earrings and necklace are original creations. “I use pliers to shape gold wire into petals, and I fill the wire frames with resin. I take hardened petals and attach them to create 3D shapes,” Ji said. PHOTO // Alice Ji

Ji considered balance and contrast when creating her outfit. “I chose to layer a cami on top because the silky material contrasts with the other pieces. Also because the cami was low cut, the collarbone area looked empty, so I went with a heavy necklace,” Ji said.

In addition to Bestdressed, a YouTuber who often posts her outfits on Instagram, Ji also takes inspiration from high fashion. “I think a lot of things that inspire my style are also integrated with high fashion and art. So I have a Pinterest board that I use for art, but it also bleeds into the world of high end fashion,” Ji said.

Chen believes ‘90s fashion is making a comeback because it’s comfortable. “People have nostalgia for times that they romanticize and, ‘90s movies and ‘90s aesthetics have been coming back, because they’re colorful, casual, easy to emulate,” Chen said.

platform converse

PHOTO // Christina Lu

black and white striped shirt Freshman Kai Bilal’s fashion has evolved over time. “I used to only wear Nike. [Now] I prefer monochrome outfits. Usually when I say monochrome I mean grayscale - I like black and white and gray,” Bilal said.

kers

platform sneakers

PHOTO // Christina Lu


PODIUM

PROMISES To be truly representative, the class council election process must do a better job of engaging and informing voters

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very year, Jefferson students gather in some of the school’s largest venues for an annual tradition -- election speeches. Over the course of an eighth period block, dozens of candidates share their visions of class events and traditions in the hopes of winning support from their classmates. Students listen attentively, pinpointing on well-crafted ideas and experiences that make candidates a deserving selection as one of their classes’ leaders. Or at least, in an ideal world, that’s what would happen. In the Jefferson election environment, though, substance takes a backseat to gimmicks and name recognition. Whether due to their uninteresting nature or simply apathy on the part of voters, candidate platforms go unnoticed. Instead, aspiring class council members are forced to rely on past experiences, comedy routines, or false promises in their speeches to stand out. Election speech events should be a celebration of dedication to student government and a genuine desire to make improvements for the sake of students. Yet, for 40 minutes, students are subjected to an endless stream of jokes, along with plans that have no chance of panning out.

The end result of this is a system that causes students to become less and less interested in class council as the years go by. In last year’s school-wide election, for example, more than a third of the student body -- or 34% -- chose not to submit a ballot. As for candidates, the number of potential electees dwindles year by year. Whereas freshman candidates typically number in the dozens, by senior year, it is common to see students running against just one or two of their classmates. Because substance often gets ignored in the Jefferson election process, candidates with thorough and new ideas eventually give up on their class counil aspirations. Instead, positions often go to the incumbent candidates, who have a larger voter base simply because of name recognition.

34% The percent of the student body that did not vote in last year’s school-wide election


LEAD-ED 15

Class council elections are meant to be a contest of merit and ideas to determine those best suited to organize events and serve as general leaders for our respective classes. When issues plague grade-levels as a whole -- whether it be mental health crises, workload complaints, or more -- it falls on class councils to step in and advocate for the students they were elected to represent. Our election environment should reflect just how important that role is. We need to have an emphasis on platforms, a yearly influx of new ideas, and informed and engaged voters. To create the ideal election environment at Jefferson,

ILLUSTRATION // Catherine Tran

we first need to make sure that students understand the policies and platforms of the candidates competing for their vote. Instituting election town halls where voters can ask questions would accomplish this, as it would allow

candidates to share more about their plans outside of a minute long speech. There must also be more transparency regarding the duties of class council and their activities throughout the year. This can be done through required updates -- whether through recurring online newsletters or in-person meetings. Class council will always be an important part of Jefferson, as they plan homecoming events and pep rallies, arrange fundraisers, and advocate for students. With this wide array of responsibilities, we must begin to place a higher priority on ensuring that the candidates that we elect are truly ready for the job.

Our staffers voted 16-1 in favor of this editorial.


ROAD to ISEF By Claire Wilson

ISEF 2021 winners detail their experience presenting at the largest science competition in the world and share some advice for aspiring competitors

Facing Challenges “I presented this idea to the professor I was working with in July of last year and he told me it was way too complicated, it wasn’t worth my time, and that it was going to be too difficult to achieve. It was definitely demotivating but it was why I wanted to do this. If it’s this difficult, then it means that no one has done it before.” - Nachum

3 Senior Sumanth Ratna (left) and Sagar Gupta (right) pose at the Fairfax County Regional Science and Engineering Fair after presenting their project on protein structure determination. PHOTO//Sagar Gupta

The Project “My ISEF project was a system to screen for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease by looking at videos of handwriting. If you take a video of someone writing with a regular pen and paper, analyze the moments and patterns of speed and acceleration, [you can] see if people have Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.” - Ron Nachum, 12 “My partner and I used machine learning and topological data to develop a more accurate and unbiased method of determining protein structure from 3D atomic structure.” - Sagar Gupta, 12 “Our project, [with seniors Raffu Khondaker and Irfan Nafi], was an assistive device for the deaf and hard of hearing.” - Eugene Choi , 12

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Seniors Ifran Nafi (left) and Eugene Choi (wright) prototype their assistive sound localization device. PHOTO//Eugene Choi

Staying Prepared “Most people go into science fairs thinking there’s a 50-50 split importance between the actual research and methods versus the presentation part of it. But if you think about it, you could have the most complex and most impressive research in the world, but it doesn’t actually mean anything if you can’t convince people why they should care about your research and why it’s important.” - Gupta


Q & A 17

ROAD to ISEF SCI-TECH 17

Senior Ron Nachum videotapes himself writing to create a machine learning algorithm for examining handwriting movement patterns. PHOTO//Ron Nachum

Brainstorming

“My freshman year, I reached out to a professor at George Mason and started working with him on [Machine Learning] research. [Then], my grandfather passed away in 2020 from Alzheimer’s disease. That’s what got me into the intersection of these two aspects of computer science and working on neurodegenerative disease and human movement.” - Nachum

Setting a Timeline

“I started this project in May or June of 2020. In July I started taking videos of myself writing on a piece of paper and experimenting with it, and reading research papers. I reached out to some researchers in Europe to get some data and the next few months were a lot of work. January onward was a lot of presentation work.” - Nachum

“We were inspired by a similar approach one of our mentors was working on, so we expanded on his work. The goal was to attempt to address some of the limitations of his method and create an improved version.” - Gupta

“We worked during the summer through an internship, so we started working in June. By August, we had already completed the bulk of the project, with a final abstract and results ready to go. From August until January, we put on final touches and put together our presentation.” - Gupta

“The original inspiration [for] this was because my grandpa was completely deaf in his right ear and partially deaf in his left ear. Whenever I went to Korea and helped him across the street, I realized that he didn't recognize when cars are coming to the right when he wasn't looking at the cars.” Choi

“We first had to really understand the problem before creating a solution because one of our previous mistakes was first creating a solution and then finding the problems to match with it. What we really spent a lot of time on was interviewing people from the deaf and hard of hearing community and getting a lot of input on that.” - Choi


ILLUSTRATION // Allison Song

No-Christmas music-vember Christmas music shouldn’t be played until December to minimize holiday burnout November is the perfect representation of autumn, full of vibrant foliage and cozy drinks. It’s the perfect time to enjoy a pumpkin Laura Zhang spice latte, go apple Staff Writer picking, or curl up with a good book. According to some people, it’s also the perfect time to start listening to Christmas music. Despite being the middle of fall, holiday music generally experiences a massive surge once November rolls around. Many people and companies

rush straight into Christmas after Halloween, replacing pumpkins and ghosts with Christmas trees and lights. On Nov. 1 this year, Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas is You” became one of the 50 most streamed Spotify songs daily in the United States. Although earlier holiday music may seem like a great way to promote positivity, it can actually backfire and cause just the opposite. A big reason why Christmas songs are so special is because they are tied to beloved traditions and the warm feelings that come from them. ILLUSTRATION // Allison Song

Music enhances many of our favorite holiday activities, such as caroling, gift shopping, and Christmas movies. However, when we listen to holiday music before these festivities begin, it lacks that same connection and magical quality. Furthermore, hearing Christmas songs too early reminds us of the impending holiday season and all the stressful parts about it. The holidays can already be exhausting with the chaotic celebrations, gift shopping, and constant cheer. Add extra Christmas music on top of that, and this usually joyful part of the year becomes a breeding ground for stress and anxiety. Hearing the same songs over and over again for two months would also be overwhelming and lead to apathy when Christmas actually comes. Because holiday music is only played for a short period of time every year, it feels even more special and nostalgic. This seasonal exclusivity allows Christmas music to be a cherished annual tradition rather than another overplayed music genre. It just doesn’t make sense to listen to holiday songs when we are still eating our way through leftover Halloween candy and admiring the colorful leaves outside. The best time to begin listening to Christmas music is in December, once Thanksgiving comes to an end and we begin transitioning to winter. This way, we can enjoy the best of both worlds a cozy fall and a festive holiday season.


OPINION 19

‘Tis the season when I say it is Christmas music shouldn’t be limited to a three week time frame just because some people don’t like it.

Annika Duneja Convergance Editor in Chief Nov. 1. The day pumpkins turn into christmas trees, pumpkin spice lattes turn into peppermint mocha lattes, and ‘All I Want for Christmas Is You’ starts blasting from every radio station. It’s beautiful. The last one, however, is

a bit of a contention. See, there are two camps of people: those who think Christmas music should only be played after Thanksgiving, and those who think playing it through November is completely fine. The arguments for the former group vary from November still being fall, to Christmas music just being plain annoying. But like any good Christmas movie, we need someone playing the role of the Grinch anyway. As a part of the latter

group, I say let people find joy in Christmas music whenever they want. The holiday season is one of the best times of the year, and if people want that time to begin earlier for themselves by listening to music that brings memories of warmth and happiness, then let them. The time spent playing Christmas music is short enough as it is. Starting around November gives us a month and a half of Jingle Bells and Mariah Carey at best before wrapping up immedi-

ately the moment the clocks hit Dec. 26. Starting on Dec. 1 leaves three weeks to cram in as much music as possible, before having to wait another 11 months to hear it again. Those who hate Christmas music tend to forget that people happen to actually like it outside of just Christmas nostalgia. It’s good music, though a little extra festive. Why limit an entire music genre to a tiny part of the year when it’s simpler to just turn the radio off ?

ILLUSTRATION // Evelyn Li


DARIN CHANGE TO

“I used to be very adamant about conceding things. I was so worried about being wrong that I would keep arguing about things when I honestly didn’t know what I was talking about. This last year, from staying at home so much, I started to realize that a lot of times, it’s easier and better for everyone to just let things go and not be upset about things.”

“I would say the most important thing to me is to do things right and to not cut corners. I think if someone puts in the effort and time to do things right, they should be rewarded and recognized for it. Similarly, if someone doesn’t put in any effort and just abuses other people’s hard work, then they don’t deserve recognition for that. That’s like my number one value.”

“I generally try to help people as much as I can and see if they need help with anything, like homework or if they’re just feeling sad. Sometimes, I’ll stay up till 3 a.m just talking to someone because they’re feeling bad about something. I don’t care that I’m a little tired, because that’s nothing. I want people to be happy.”

“I was introduced to computers from a very young age. What interests me specifically is that there’s so much you can do with computers that you can’t do otherwise, and also that you don’t really need anything but a computer. I remember when I was in middle school, I was really into electronics. I still am to some extent, but I stopped doing that because it required so many materials. Whereas I can just sit at a computer and do whatever I want.”

PHOTO by Anuj Khemka REPORTING by Anuj Khemka

WHAT I’VE LEARNED Darin Mao Senior


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