Verde Volume 19 Issue 4

Page 1



APRIL 2018


guns & change


mere three days after a 19-year-old armed with an AR-15 killed 17 people at a school in Parkland, Florida, high school senior Emma Gonzalez urged students to call “BS” on the politicians and gun laws that have failed to prevent such shootings. Gonzalez and her classmates have galvanized youth across the country, uniting communities in the name of stricter gun control. Here at Verde, we have reported on walkouts and marches, and even experienced an 86-minute lockdown inside our own classroom on March 29 as we finalized this magazine. Barricading the door and hiding under tables, we feared the worst. When a gunman attacks a community, sentences are left unfinished, stories untold and futures unfulfilled. In this issue of Verde, the figurative but physical gunshot that pierces our magazine serves to convey just that — gun violence affects every part of life, and its consequences are inescapable. And while the lockdown that happened at Paly was caused by a hoax, it highlights that gun violence can happen anytime, anywhere. All stories and most advertisements in this issue are impacted by the bullet hole, and every time you flip a page, we encourage you to reflect on what’s missing. We realize that the hole might be jarring, but we believe such statements are necessary to confront disturbing realities. To make the bullet hole possible, business managers Amira Garewal and Angela Liu made countless calls to advertisers, and all staffers agreed to an unusual interruption in their stories. But after discussing the concept as a staff, we agreed that making this point was worth disrupting the flow of the magazine. We are also grateful to Folger Graphics, our wonderful printers, for the technical support in making the hole possible. After the Parkland shooting, our local student activists mobilized to fight for long-term change. In our cover package, staff writers Abby Cummings, Asia Gardias, Calvin Yan and Mara Smith highlight the efforts of this growing contingent, following student activists as they plan and execute events that propel the movement for gun control forward. However, for many across the country, including some here at Paly, guns represent safety and freedom. Our cover package also seeks to elucidate the perspectives of these individuals. Staff writers Emma Donelly-Higgins, Lucia Amieva-Wang, Stephanie Lee and Tamar Sarig spoke to these members of the Paly community. With youth at the forefront of this movement, we are reminded of our immense power to catalyze change — a fitting motif for our final issue as editors-in-chief. So as we sign off for the last time, we urge you to let your passion drive you and give people a piece of your mind, because life is transient and the world is in need of change. —Emma, Julie & Saurin P.S. For a copy of this issue without the bullet hole, please visit

April 2018 Volume 19 Issue 4 Editors-in-Chief Emma Cockerell Julie Cornfield Saurin Holdheim Design Editor Thomas Chapman Digital Media Editor Asia Gardias Features Editor Frances Zhuang Profiles Editor Rebecca Yao Culture Editor Daniel Logan Perspectives Editor Tamar Sarig News Editors Ashley Hitchings Ashley Wang Launch Editors Riya Sinha Allison Cheng Photo Director James Poe Art Director Kaitlyn Ho Adviser Paul Kandell

Managing Editors Stephanie Lee Michelle Li Statistician Warren Wagner Business Managers Amira Garewal Angela Liu Digital Archivist Riya Matta Staff Writers Nicole Adamson Zakir Ahmad Lucia Amieva-Wang Olivia Brown Megan Chai Margaret Cheung Abby Cummings Sophie Dewees Emma Donelly-Higgins Alex Feng Kaitlyn Khoe Maia Lagna Bridget Li Estelle Martin Allison Mou Sasha Poor Maraleis Sinton Mara Smith Zoe Stanton-Savitz Ella Thomsen Jenny Tseng Kamala Varadarajan Cecilia Ward Gila Winefeld Zoë Wong-VanHaren Jasmine Venet Calvin Yan

Publication Policy Verde, a feature magazine published by the students in Palo Alto High School’s Magazine Journalism class, is a designated open forum for student expression and discussion of issues of concern to its readership. Verde is distributed to its readers and the student body at no cost. Letters to the Editors The staff welcomes letters to the editors but reserves the right to edit all submissions for length, grammar, potential libel, invasion of privacy and obscenity. Send all letters to or to 50 Embarcadero Road Palo Alto, CA 94301. All Verde stories are posted online and available for commenting at Surveys and Statistics Student poll results were collected from a survey taken in Paly English classes during March. Thirteen classes were randomly selected and 204 responses were collected. The survey was conducted online and responses were anonymous. Quotes and opinions of students were reported on independently of survey results. Advertising The staff publishes advertisements with signed contracts providing they are not deemed by the staff inappropriate for the magazine’s audience. For more information about advertising with Verde, please contact the Verde business managers Amira Garewal and Angela Liu through our adviser at 650-329-3837 for more information. Printing & Distribution Verde is printed five times a year in October, November, February, April and May, by Folger Graphics in Hayward, California. The Paly PTSA mails Verde to every student’s home. All Verde work is available at


In this issue

Foreword 6 Editorials 8 Launch 13 News


16 Cultural Clubs 18 Unspoken Promises 22 College Terrace 24 Bike Safety 26 Perfectionism 28 Gun Control 36 Ravenswood


38 40 42 44 46 48 51 52

Let’s Do Lunch Romaine Construction Workers Maddie Dong Luc L ’Heureux One Love Gabby Bernas The Frisbros

Culture ON TOP OF THE WORLD pg. 44

Senior Maddie Dong is a rock climber who aims to reach new heights — both literally and figuratively


pg. 28

This photo, taken by Paly senior Angelina Wang, captures freshman Rohin Ghosh protesting during the March 14 walkout organized in response to the Parkland, Florida shooting. A bullet hole, designed by Vivian Nguyen, was overlaid onto the cover to convey the gravity of repeated instances of gun violence across the nation. Ghosh and his family gave consent to using this photo and bullet hole art.


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54 Wonder Drinks 56 Minimalism 57 Baron Barista 58 Mug Meals 60 Bevri 62 Creating Candy


63 64 65 66 67 68 70

Letter to My Freshman Self Palo Alto Fashion Youth in Government New Vikes on the Block Hosting an Exchange Student Computer Science Elective Tamar’s Tangent


pg. 36

With the impending closure of East Palo Alto’s only public preschool, families are left seeking an alternative


Palo Alto’s first Georgian restaurant, Bevri, combines classic flavors with a modern ambience for authentic Georgian dining



pg. 40

A mix of reggae and rock, Paly’s Romaine is an eclectic group of passionate musicians

pg. 52






Art by Kevin Kerr



his editorial was written before the March 29 lockdown at Palo Alto High School. After the lockdown, at presstime, Verde is further convinced that code red drills need to be revamped. Students need more practice building barricades. Students need to know what to do if they’re stuck outside of class. Students need a better system of notification. It is a harsh reality that until gun laws are reformed, every school needs to be prepared in the case of a mass shooting.

more guns? arming teachers? like parkland students, we call ‘b.s.’


E HAVE TO HARDEN our schools, not soften them up.” These were the words of President Donald Trump just days after the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida, that killed 17 people. That day, Trump also voiced his support for arming teachers. We do not share these sentiments. Like MSD student Emma Gonzalez famously said, we call “B.S.” More guns in schools are not the solution. While the Palo Alto Unified School District should take steps towards improving school safety in the wake of this tragedy, there are more effective ways to do this than arming teachers. For example, Verde commends our local representatives for taking action by passing a resolution urging the California state legislature to implement stricter gun


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control measures. “We’ve always had school board policy against keeping guns at school,” school board member Melissa Caswell says. “That’s one thing we can do as elected officials as it’s stronger when we have a resolution from the whole board rather than individuals.” This solution provides means for improvement nationally; however, on the smaller scale, we should first focus on improving Paly’s lockdown protocol. While we have had numerous fire drills this year, we only have code red drills once a year. Especially in light of the recent shootings, the frequency of lockdown drills must be increased. In addition, although the district has established an effective blanket procedure for code red events, teachers should also go over specific protocols for their classrooms. Arming teachers would be especially ineffective in California; it is rare for the

average Palo Altan to own a gun or have adequate training in using a firearm. On a practical level, getting training for these teachers would be unfeasible. “It [arming teachers] is a bad idea,” AP US History teacher Jack Bungarden says. “Maybe they [armed teachers] will hit something they’re supposed to, or maybe they’ll just hit something, including maybe a kid.” Already, we’ve seen the potential consequences of this proposal. On March 15, a reserve police officer teaching a gun safety class at Seaside High School in Northern California accidentally discharged his weapon, injuring a 17-year-old student. Although California is stepping in the right direction to making schools safer, our country as a whole still has a long way to go. It is our responsibility as a more liberal city to advocate for further gun reform outside of Palo Alto. v



N PALO ALTO, as well as much of the country, college admissions are seen as the culmination of your K-12 education. While schools receive thousands of applicants each year, rejection still feels personal. To help cope with this disappointment, Palo Alto High School students, in years past, have posted their college rejection letters along the front wall of the library to provide consolation. Unlike in previous years, however, the Student Center (the interim location while the library is under construction) has yet to be lined with letters of rejection. “There are no organizers for a rejection wall,” says Senior Class President Noga Hurwitz. “If I’m not mistaken, one doesn’t exist this year.” Verde supports the continuation of the wall this year as a way to accept failures and remind students that they are not alone during a time where deferrals and rejections may threaten to define their vision of their own success. Palo Alto’s culture places pressure on students to be

Art by Maya Anderson

viewed as perfect, especially in terms of academics, which leaves few opportunities to acknowledge our failures. However, with the rejection wall, students are able to cathartically express the more negative side of the college process. “It’s a somewhat visceral response from a quarter of the school that is undergoing the same stress, experience and disappointment,” Hurwitz says. In addition, as a community, in order to combat academic stress, students and administration must keep the rejection wall tradition because, in doing so, we take another step toward reshaping the expectation of perfectionism. Because the rejection wall commemorates students’ failure rather than our success, some may argue that it negatively contributes to our community. However, Paly still has ways to celebrate successes, including college decision day, the decoration of graduation caps and the annual college map. But we still lack outlets to acknowledge rejection. Therefore, Verde asks students and administration to take part in and support the rejection wall this year. In a community that emphasizes academic achievement, it’s easy to view college decisions as the defining feature of our success. The rejection wall puts disappointing college decisions in perspective, and allows students to challenge Palo Alto’s norm of perfectionism. v



N LIGHT OF the sexual harassment controversy that rocked the district last school year, many Palo Alto High School students have scrutinized the administration’s efforts to prevent similar incidents. The recent “consent assemblies” organized by Palo Alto Unified District’s Responsive Inclusive Safe Environment task force are a step in the right direction. These seminars about the importance of consent in sexual relationships had a notable impact on the student body. For instance, sophomore Jasmine Sun says she was pleasantly surprised by the outcome. “I thought that everyone was somewhat engaged and it was better than I expected,” she says. “The games that we played were really fun and we’ve also learned a lot, as a grade, about consent.” However, Verde has suggestions for how future assemblies and events regarding this topic could be executed better. First, the presentation should explore more deeply the line between coercion and flirting. Many of the examples provided were extreme cases, leaving some confused about how the information would apply to everyday interactions. Another barrier to sexual assault prevention at Paly is the option students are given to take Living Skills at any point during their time at Paly, causing many students to leave this class until their senior year. Paly should either require students to take Living Skills as underclassmen or make sure to provide alternative sex education, including sexual harassment and consent, to all students. While Verde strongly supports the actions taken by the RISE task force to combat the issue of sexual harassment, we urge the administration to continue working toward meaningful change in our schools. v


LAUNCH ASB ANSWERS: What is new about Prom 2018?

We’ll have really great food options ... which will be separate from

Three Questions with

Interim principal frank Rodriguez 1

What previous jobs have you had?


What do you hope to bring to Paly while you are here?

Reporting and photo by REBECCA YAO

the dancing. We are also working to revamp the way in which we get students from Paly to prom.”

"I'm a visual painter; I've been associated with a theater company for 40 years ... I’m still very much immersed in culture but also [am interested] in education.”

"I'm ... trying to make sure that nothing gets in the way of students' opportunity to access their futures through this educational process."

— Noga Hurwitz, ASB senior vice president


What is your ideal high school environment? “[A] small learning community, which is a school within a school … is a beautiful example of something that gives a broader opportunity for students and for the community.

Reporting and photo by EMMA DONELLY-HIGGINS

VERBATIM What do you think about the new bell schedule for next year? Verde asked students and teachers about the pros and cons of the new bell schedule. The schedule features 80-minute class periods, late start times and the replacement of C days with alternating blocks. Reporting and photos by SASHA POOR and WARREN WAGNER


APRIL 2018

Art by Hannah Li

“I’ll have to make a lot of adjustments ... I’m looking forward to having my meetings in the morning ... because it [the current meeting time] conflicts with my coaching [after school]." — ALANNA WILLIAMSON, English 10A teacher

Prom picture locations 1 Arizona Cactus Garden

Text and photos by ELLA THOMSEN

2 “Kite Hill”

The Arizona Cactus Garden, located at Stanford, is a great location to get rugged-looking photos.

“Kite Hill” is a beautiful vista overlooking Palo Alto. You can take aesthetic photos with your friends at sunset.

PRE-PROM PLAYLIST From throwback pop to modern alternative rock, these songs will be sure to hype you and your friends up as you get ready for prom.

Electric Feel MGMT

Get into the Groove MADONNA

Run the World BEYONCE






A friend's backyard

NATHALIA KILLS Find this playlist with more songs on Spotify:

Any backyard will work, but choosing a pretty backyard with a fun feature, such as cherry blossoms, fairy lights or a colorful wall, will make for more interesting and unique photos.


You are the Music in Me

Art by Hannah Li

“Because it ends a bit later ... I might have less time after [to do homework] because I do theater."


"Ending at 3:35 p.m. would push sports back ... because it would make every day a day where you would go back [home at] 6 p.m."

— ARON MA, sophomore

"I’ll be missing more school ... What I do like is it has an alternating block, so I won't be missing the same class every time." — VIVIAN FENG, junior




which teacher are you? Ever wondered which Palo Alto High School teacher you were most similar to? Take this quiz to find out which teacher you align with most.

DIY Earrings Photos and text by KAITLYN KHOE

There is another way to clean out your junk drawer: earrings! Instead of random items, what you’re seeing are earrings, or rather, things that have the potential to become earrings. You’re going to need some other materials, like flat earring posts or earring hooks, super glue and nose pliers.

What are your plans for Friday night?


a) Reading a book b) Play with my dog c) Order pizza and watch a movie d) Watching my partner play Fortnight

For those pesky Silly Bandz you collected at age nine, simply stick a centimeter long wire through them and coil one end. Do the same for another band and your set is complete.

What’s your style like? a) Retro b) Sporty c) Casual d) Colorful

What is your favorite subject? a) History b) Math c) Science d) Linguistics

What have you always wanted to be when you grow up? a) Teacher b) Professional athlete c) I really don’t know yet d) Pathologist

Silly Bandz

2 Doll Limbs Take out your anger on those ratty, plastic dolls back by separating the limbs using whatever means possible. Then, neatly glue an earring post to each limb and another pair of earrings is complete.

3 Free-for-all Find something small and with a flat surface, whether that be Legos, buttons, or cardboard, and glue it onto an earring post.

Mostly a’s: History teacher Jack Bungarden Mostly b’s: Math teacher Radu Toma Mostly c’s: Science teacher Ashwini Avadhani Mostly d’s: English teacherHunter Reardon


APRIL 2018


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APRIL 2018

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news Spring successes FE B




WALKING A FINE LINE In response to student walkouts, PAUSD admin say they must balance preserving order without endorsing political agendas. "We never accomodate for the issue," said Assistant Principal Adam Paulson. "It's a safety thing." Photo by Abby Cummings

District grapples to respond to student walkouts, rallies


ITH ANOTHER STUDENT gun control walkout planned April 20, the next district hurdle will be to plan an appropriate response. In response to the Palo Alto High School walkout on March 14, administration extended brunch by 10 minutes to reduce disciplinary action, according to Assistant Principal Jerry Berkson. “We find that 10 extra minutes gave you guys a bit more time and gave us a little bit of a window,” Berkson said. As for future demonstrations, the district has yet to decide how to respond. “There’s no protocol for it,” said Assistant Principal Adam Paulson. “If all of a sudden we just saw a lot of students walking out, we would obviously follow to supervise and make sure everything is okay.” Teachers and district employees are also continuing to develop policies to protect Paly in the event of a campus shooting. “I think a lot of people are looking for the magic wand,” Berkson said. “The minute you fix one place, there’s always another place that’s vulnerable.” While the district has yet to formulate a standardized response, Paulson says they will continue to discuss measures such as admin supervision to facilitate safety. “We want to make sure we’re prepared as much as we can be to keep students safe and ensure sure return to class in an orderly fashion,” Paulson said. “As a school, we can’t take a side on an issue, and we shouldn’t. You guys have to make your own choices and sometimes deal with the consequences.” by MAGGIE CHEUNG and NICOLE ADAMSON

MATH OLYMPIAD Paly took second at the Bay Area Math Olympiad. In individual events, senior Mihir Singhal won first and freshman Matthew Ho and junior Arjun Venkatraman tied for second. MATHEMATICS Senior Mihir Singhal tied for first at the international Romanian Master of Mathematics competition.


ROBOTICS Ranked eighth at Arizona North Regional tournament with a score of 6-5-0, Team 8 also won the entrepreneurship award.


BASKETBALL Boys' basketball made it to regional finals of the Division I CIF State Boys Basketball Championships.


SCIENCE OLYMPIAD After earning second place at regionals, the team will advance to the state championship on April 14.






SPEECH & DEBATE Seniors Stephanie Lee and Niklas Risano and sophomore Ryan Wisowaty qualify to state championships in Dramatic Interpretation, Lincoln Douglas and Congress, respectively.



Science fair to take place late April


ALO ALTO HIGH School’s newly formed Science Fair Club makes its debut presenting student works to the public April 22 in the Peery Family Center and science classrooms. “At the science fair there will be students that showcase their projects, some clubs or organizations that have their own demonstrations, and guest speakers to inspire students about their experiences in their fields [of study],” said Sonny Young, sophomore and president of the club. In the coming weeks, members of the club will continue to finalize event logistics and are reaching out to friends to increase publicity. “Because this is the first time an event like the science fair is happening, one problem we face is that not a lot of people are aware of the event,” Young said. As a new club hosting a new event, Science Fair Club looks forward to showcasing and increasing student involvement in STEM subjects. “I think attending this event will be a great way to see how students at Paly are involved in STEM,” Young said. “I know that there are a lot of people who do amazing things at our school.” By MARALEIS SINTON

SAFETY FIRST A bicyclist utilizes the bike boulevard on Ross Road. Intended to calm traffic, the new safety installations have generated controversy among Palo Alto residents. Photo by Estelle Martin

Anti-traffic calming petition gains traction among residents


ONTHS AFTER THE construction of traffic-slowing installations, residents are petitioning for their removal. Since Fall 2017, bike boulevards along three streets were constructed with aims to control traffic. As part of the $8.6 million Neighborhood Traffic Safety and Bicycle Boulevard Project, the city planned to add speed bumps, traffic islands, crosswalks and raised intersections to 7.1 miles of city roads. In March, Palo Alto resident George Duquette started a petition in hopes of stopping construction and removing the roundabout at E. Meadow and Ross Road. As of press time, the petition gained over 750 signatures. “In pursuit of traffic calming, the changes have created dangerous interactions between cars and bikes,” Duquette stated in the petition. “This is dozens of neighbors trying to raise the alarm.” Lack of support for the traffic-calming measures is not exclusive to petition signers. Students living along the Ross Road route have been affected by the construction, according to junior Riya Kumar. “The construction seems counterintuitive," Kumar said. "It worries me that I won't be safe and may have a higher chance of getting in an accident because the cars can now get a lot closer to me due to the narrower roads." by MAIA LAGNA, ESTELLE MARTIN and AMIRA GAREWAL

Nonprofit ClickaPA to host teen job fair mid-April


NTENDED AS A one-stop site for Palo Alto teens to locate internship and job opportunities, ClickPA will host its Teen Job Fair at 2 p.m. April 15 in the Mitchell Park Library. “We're going to be hosting between 10 to 20 different companies and places from around the area where people can get jobs for the summer,” said Soumya Jhaveri, Palo Alto High School junior and ClickPA volunteer. Run entirely by and for local students, the Teen Job Fair attracted over 200 students last year and offered numerous job opportunities at local businesses.


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This year, listings range from waiter positions at Gott’s to counselors at Camp Galileo. In addition to informational booths, the fair will offer a variety of activities and workshops. “There's going to be places where you can volunteer, places where you can actually work and get paid [and] places where you can get specific job experience,” Jhaveri said. “They're also going to be teaching workshops on things like resume building [and] how to interview.” by SOPHIE DEWEES and LUCIA AMIEVA-WANG

League of Women Voters to host fact-checking talk


HE LEAGUE OF Women Voters and the Palo Alto PTA Council will host the event “How Do We Know What's True Anymore?" at 7 p.m. on April 9 in the Performing Arts Center. Featuring speakers from a range of established institutions, the talk aims to give attendees practical tools for assessing information credibility within the media, especially for voting decisions. “We wanted something very practical

that we can take away and use in all kinds of contexts, whether its on Facebook or Twitter, or you’re searching on google or you’re reading a newspaper, something that’s relevant for all of us,” said Lisa Peschcke-Koedt, event organizer and member of the league. Among the speakers are Dan Russell from Google, Brooke Binkowski from Snopes, Renee DiResta from Data for Democracy, and others from Facebook, Stanford and the Institute for the Future, according to

Peschcke-Koedt. The League of Women Voters is also planning to host another event about assessing information later this spring and has yet to finalize plans. “Our hope is this will be very practical, that everyone who goes will come away something they can use in daily life,” Peschcke-Koedt said. by MARALEIS SINTON

Solar parking coming to Paly

P ON THE HUNT Interim Assistant Supt. of Human Resources Anne Brown details the process to find replacements for the position of superintendent and Paly principal. Photo by Cecilia Ward

Search for district leaders ongoing


FTER MONTHS OF deliberation, the school board has selected semifinalists from a pool of superintendent candidates to interview on April 11 and 12. According to Interim Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources Anne Brown, the final decision will be announced in May. She is working with executive search firm Hazard, Young and Attea and Associates, which was to meet with the board in an open and closed session on March 29 in order to facilitate the search process. “In open session, they’ll discuss the format of the interviews [of superintendent candidates],” Brown said in an interview the week before the session. “In closed session, they’re going to pick from [an] HYA suggested panel of candidates … to interview.” Brown also confirmed that the district office has begun their search for a new Palo

Alto High School principal, and will solicit feedback from students in mid-April. “I will be coming to the school [Paly] and ... listening to student groups and parent groups, looking at the qualities you’re looking for in a new principal, and then we will go from there,” Brown says. Students are interested in offering input, and have a set of traits they hope to see. “I think the new superintendent or principal will have to be able to deal with tough problems,” senior Angelina Wang said. “They’re inheriting a lot of issues within the district [and] should be not easily discouraged.” To facilitate community input on the new superintendent, HYA also released an online survey, which can be accessed at

ALO ALTO UNIFIED School District will begin installing solar panels in the main parking lot on the corner of Embarcadero Road and El Camino Real this summer. The structures will be installed at Paly, JLS, Terman, Nixon, Escondido and Ohlone, according to Rebecca Navarro, the project lead. According to board member Todd Collins, the panels will alleviate budget concerns. “The benefit will come directly to the district, reducing our costs,” Collins stated. Freshman Rohin Ghosh says the project will also benefit campus culture. “It will serve as an example to students and encourage them to take more steps to protect the environment,” Ghosh said. Others, however, criticize the project's aesthetic impact. “The Tower Building, the Haymarket theater and the new Performing Arts Center is a complex of which all of Palo Alto should be proud,” said Paly alum Edith Miller in an email to the school board. “It cannot be hidden by solar panels.” by BRIDGET LI





painting a new future



NCE OCCUPYING A BARE and lackluster wall on the side of the Student Center, Palo Alto High School alumnus James Franco’s mural depicted Paly football players, painted in strokes of black and white, with one player passing the ball while another tackled an opponent. Inspired by Paly’s 1993 yearbook, the mural was a staple of Paly landscape until January of this year. Following recent sexual misconduct allegations against Franco, the Paly administration decided to remove Franco’s artwork, leaving the wall bare. Now, to fill the blank space, the school has commissioned the Latinos Unidos Club to create a new mural to replace Franco’s. From illustrations of Martin Luther King to Malala Yousafzai, the new student-or-

2018 16 16APRIL FEBRUARY 2018

ganized mural on the Student Center will depict important figures from different cultures around the world. “A really big thing that we want to see is that the people painting the mural are just as diverse as the people that are on the mural,” says Ricardo Lombera, president of the Latinos Unidos club. “We hope that this mural will celebrate the rich cultures of all the people that attend Paly.” Latinos Unidos has partnered with Black Scholars United, AP Studio Art and Social Justice Pathway students to create the new mural on the Student Resource Center, emphasizing the theme of diversity. “It is also to have a lasting message on Paly that should be here for a couple years and to show the unification of different clubs and different groups,” says senior Naima Castaneda-Isaac, president of BSU.

Sophomore Pooja Akella, treasurer of the Sports, Arts and Movies of South Asia Club, praises the muralists for featuring traditionally underrepresented voices. “They’re bringing in a lot of clubs from around campus which is great because you have an increase in the student participation and student voice,” Akella says. “It highlights a lot of the more underrepresented groups or the minority groups, which I think is definitely important.” Some of these marginalized groups make their voices heard through three major clubs at Paly — Latinos Unidos, BSU and SAMoSA. Latinos Unidos The Latinos Unidos club was founded in response to the lack of representation and minority voice for Latinos in the Paly

community, according to Lombera. They Black Scholars United also hope to bridge the gap between diBSU, another cultural club on camvergent cultures through hosting cultural pus, takes a different approach to making events, showing the Paly community their their voices heard. According to Castanevalues and perspectives from a minority da-Isaac, the goal of BSU is to establish a point of view. welcoming environment for minority stu“People don’t really know who we are dents who often feel detached at a school and what we stand for; what are our cul- with an overwhelmingly white and Asian tural and familial values,” Lombera says. population. “Showing people through celebrations, “I think that it’s just a safe place for different holidays, fun activities, we really everyone where we can share our experiencwant to show them what we’re all about and es … and talk about our daily struggles,” that we’re good people.” Castaneda-Isaac says. Since the formation of the club four Despite how people tend to separate years ago, the club has organized many cul- themselves into groups with similar qualtural events. ities, Castaneda-Isaac believes that people But when trying to organize a cele- with contrasting cultures can be united by bration for Day of the understanding these Dead, a Mexican holidistinctions. Like day in remembrance of Trying to create Lombera, she encourfamily and friends who ages people to step out have passed away, they empathy between of their comfort zones faced resistance from different groups can and interact with difthe Paly administration, people, particube really important.” ferent who claimed that havlarly with minorities. — NAIMA CASTANEDA-ISAAC, senior ing images of the dead “I think that … would be triggering to talking to different students struggling with mental health is- people and embracing their differences [or] sues. trying to create empathy between different After making compromises with the groups can be really important, especially Paly administration, they were able to set now with the political climate,” Castaneup an altar in a closed room. Lombera be- da-Isaac says. lieves a misunderstanding of different culCollaborating with Latinos Unidos to tures led to the disagreement. paint the mural, Castaneda-Isaac hopes to “It really comes to miscommunication spread the significance of unity and comand misunderstanding of other people’s passion for others. cultures,” Lombera says. “The best way to prevent it is through discussion, through SAMoSA Club getting to know people from other culWhen it comes to overcoming burtures.” dens they face as minorities, SAMoSA With photos of figures like César Club’s approach is similar to that of Latinos Chávez and Selena Quintanilla, the altar Unidos. recognized the significant contributions in As the only club on campus relating which Latino people have played a part. to South Asia, SAMoSA club aims to teach Due to the lack of minority representation students about the culture of the region. in many classes, Lombera believes that the SAMoSA club has organized many of its altar brought to light the impacts that Lati- own events, including movie nights with no people have made on society. Bollywood films and Indian food, carrom “We wanted to show people that [Lati- (a traditional South Asian game) tournano] people made a difference,” Lombera ments and cultural trivia games. says. Although SAMoSA club is not directLatinos Unidos continues to spread ly involved in the creation of the mural, it knowledge of contributions by Latino supports the message of diversity and unity people, through events such as a march in that it conveys. honor of César Chávez and a celebration of “They [minorities] are often looked Cinco De Mayo, the anniversary of a sur- down upon or they don’t have access to the prising victory for the Mexican military. same opportunities as perhaps anybody else

and also historically speaking they’ve been underrepresented in America for such a long time,” Akella says. “I think it’s really important that we do give an opportunity for such groups to shine.” She hopes the new mural, which includes important figures from around the world, will provide this opportunity. Specific to South Asia, the mural will include an illustration of Mahatma Gandhi, a wellknown civil rights activist who led the Indian independence movement against British colonizers. The creators of the mural intend to showcase Paly’s diversity, and present inspirational figures that any student can see themself in. Regardless of the club they belong to, their ethnicity or their race, all students can look forward to seeing themselves represented on the wall of the Student Center. “It’s really cool to see all these groups unite and create something beautiful,” Castaneda-Isaac says. v


Unspoken promises




ROM. It’s the quintessential high school experience: a night of dazzling dresses, monumental memories and sky-high expectations of the perfect night with the perfect date. Even in the age of #MeToo, women’s marches and the gender studies elective running at Paly for the first time next year, Prom and its traditions remain a relic of times past. Although Paly’s Prom culture is more welcoming than most — devoid of dress

codes, Prom courts and bans on same-sex couples — it is still rife with antiquated conventions such as flamboyant guy-askgirl promposals, gender-specific corsages and boutonnieres and raunchy expectations of what comes after. Central to the high school experience, the rite of passage acts as a social litmus test: a reflection of how we as a community treat women, men and non-binary individuals. From a genderqueer drag queen met with pointed stares to a sophomore struggling not to succumb to social pressure, here’s a side of Prom that you don’t normally hear.

Don’t be a drag, just be a queen Loud and proud Sporting electric blue lips, silver-frostBrowsing through Buzzfeed during ed tips and a floor-length, off-the-shoulder Prom season, you might stumble across an gown, then-senior Max Usman swept article about the “cutest promposals,” then through the makeshift Exploratori- a separate story about the “best queer promum ballroom. Of the several hundred posals.” Although these separate pieces are prom-goers clad in dresses, Usman was meant to highlight and normalize queer the only one in drag. relationships, to queer Now a freshman at students, such attention Lewis and Clark College can feel like an uncomIt becomes in Portland, Oregon, Usfortable fascination. man, whose preferred a statement “Queer couples kind gender pronoun is rather than just of draw attention,” says “they,” says junior junior India Phills, who year was the first a preference.” identifies as queer and — INDIA PHILLS, junior time they began is vice president of Paly’s to explore their Queer-Straight Alliance. gender identity through “It used to be that they were viewed as drag. Although most of wrong and sinful, but now … people kind Usman’s peers responded of fetishize it. It becomes a statement rather positively, not everyone was than just a preference.” supportive when they came over Though Palo Altans are mostly acceptto mingle. ing of LGBT students, homo“Some of my friends’ dates sexual couples are still seen as would leave so as not to be seen atypical, which can lead otheven in proximity to me,” Us- ers to react with unnecessary man says. “Though we live enthusiasm. in the Bay Area, it is not as “When people liberal [or] as accepting as don’t know what we would like to imagine. else to say and I was viewed as a kind of they are okay artifact: something to be with it, they put under a microscope e m p h a s i z e and examined, something things that outside of the norm that don’t neces-

UPBEAT UNDERCLASSMAN Junior Sydney Schwan recalls her sophomore Prom experience.

needed to be analyzed.” At hyped-up, coming-of-age rites like Prom in particular, dated customs can feel restrictive for students who identify outside the gender binary. “Kids are being de facto taught in these social environments that their identity outside of these binaries is not normal, and especially in high school, being outside the norm can be seen as a very scary thing,” Usman says. “In the case of people who identify in the binaries, their worldviews are horrifyingly narrowed by these norms being enforced.”

sarily need to be focused on,” says Jaclyn take initiative, while forcing girls to Edwards, social sciences instructional lead- respond according to old-fashioned er and future gender studies teacher. “The social standards. overemphasis of acceptance can actually “You’re supposed to play hard to shine a spotlight on people who don’t want get, you’re supposed to get them to ask you, to have that spotlight.” because you’re supposed to be attractive or These well-intentioned efforts can in- good enough for them to put all that effort advertently single out non-heterosexual into it,” Lee says. pairs, exerting additional pressures on them These long-standing traditions can to “play up” their identity. reinforce gender norms that pave the way “For queer students, I for a host of darker social think there is somewhat of expectations. an expectation for it to be It’s a yes or no “The stereotype of a whole big thing,” Phills sex on Prom night goes question, but no says. “Like, ‘Wow, look, hand in hand with guys a same gender couple at one’s actually asking girls [which] turns Prom,’ rather than just be- expecting a no.” into this obligation thing ing able to go and have it where ‘I asked you to — MADDIE LEE, senior not be such a big deal.” Prom, I took you out, Although Paly culture is absent of now you owe me something,’ many of the more archaic Prom festivities, and that definitely contribjunior and QSA Social Media Manager utes to rape culture,” Lee Robert Vetter, who identifies as gay, says says. the dance is still fraught with expectations. Beyond expecta“A big part of Prom is how you present tions to “return the fayourself and so I think presenting yourself vor,” school dances are the way you want to in accordance to your also often the setting identity [is] a very big thing for each per- for unwanted and unson,” Vetter says. anticipated attention. “Everyone’s alStrong independent women who ready in high spirits don’t need no Prom date and the mindset for While ostentatious askings are a staple Prom night is go wild of school dances, public pressure to accept … so people might have a promposal grants askers an unfair advan- fewer inhibitions and tage that borders on “emotionally manipu- might try and take advanlative,” according to senior Maddie Lee. tage of others,” Lee says. “It takes a lot of guts to say no to a public promposal,” Lee says. “It’s a yes or You’re only young once no question, but no one’s actually expecting It was the week before Prom a no.” when then-sophomore Sydney In part due to tradition and in part due Schwan received a text from an to long-standing gender roles, guys are gen- unknown number. Two days earlier, erally expected to ask girls to Prom, even her friend had set her up with an upwhen the decision to go together was mu- perclassman as a prom date, and tually arranged. expecting a physical prom“How often do you see … a girl posal, Schwan was asking a guy?” Edwards says. “It taken aback when happens, but then she’s seen as all she received was a out of the ordinary if she were photo of the guest pass and to do that, and it’s because a flippant “Can you of those gender stereo- sign this?” types.” “That was basiAccording to cally my asking,” Schwan Lee, this exerts says. “I slow danced with undue pressure him once but it was really upon boys to awkward.”

As a sophomore surrounded by a sea of juniors and seniors, Schwan remembers feeling intimidated at the dance. “It was a little nerve-wracking, not going to lie,” Schwan says. “I went to an after-Prom party with all juniors [which was] definitely a little intimidating and I didn’t know what to do, so if a sophomore were

PROM QUEEN Max Usman, class of 2017, attended Prom in drag both junior and senior year.

in that situation … it would be easier to be pressured into something.” While a few years may seem short, the divide between grades in high school is stark. Coupled with this age gap, the lure of social prestige can lead underclassmen to go with anyone who asks, even if they’re a near-stranger, according to sophomore Karina Kadakia. “It’s the cool thing to go three years in a row,” Kadakia says. “You get invited to a big thing. You look so desirable to people, you get to hang out with upperclassmen only, everyone is envious of you.” Unable to attain Prom access on their own, an underclassmen may inadvertently feel or be pressured into taking measures outside their comfort zone. “I think some girls would go to the extent of hooking up for Prom, but some girls will just not expect that to happen,” Kadakia says. “Once she gets asked … she’s in her bubble, she’s happy, and then the guy tries to hook up with her and she doesn’t realize that that was supposed to happen. I think this is where sexual assault and harassment come in.”

BEYOND THE BINARY Senior Maddie Lee speaks out against heteronormative Prom traditions.


APRIL 2018

We’re all in this together “No means no,” Edwards says. “No doesn’t mean ‘thanks for making this possible, now I have to return a favor.’ Unfortunately, we’ve been living in a society where there is that expectation, so it’s about educating not just the female about using her voice, but also its young men about what’s okay [and] not okay.” Announced by Assistant Principal Victoria Kim, Paly will host grade-level assemblies featuring gender violence expert Jackson Katz the Thursday before Prom in an effort to raise awareness about gender roles and their consequences. “The more education the better,” Edwards says. “A student has to feel safe, so the more that you talk about it, the more educated you are, the more a school can help support students however they identify themselves … then it doesn’t seem out of the ordinary anymore. That becomes your new norm.” Although they say there isn’t any single panacea, Usman says the next step to acceptance is to perceive people holistically both in and outside the context of Prom. “Stop trying to grab onto someone’s most definitive trait and then use that as your personal definition for them,” Usman says. “Start viewing people as a sum of their parts and not just parts.” Ultimately, acceptance stems from empathy. While school-wide assemblies and speaker series are steps in the right direction, students must also do their part. “There are always people who side eyeyou — boys are expected to wear tuxes and girls are expected to wear fancy prom dresses,” Lee says. “It’s important that we respect what everyone wants to do regardless of whether that’s the social norm.” v

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NE MARCH EVENING, a few close friends gathered around the dinner table feasting on prime ribs, salad and carrot cake. Conversation topics varied as the meal wore on, but there was one especially prominent topic — their neighborhood, College Terrace. Surrounded by Stanford University on all sides, College Terrace is a picturesque neighborhood two blocks in width and 12 blocks in length. Many neighbors know each other well and often gather for dinners or events. Stanford University has been purchasing houses one by one in College Terrace since 1977, but recently there has been a noticeable increase in purchases. Now residents are unsure of what the future holds for their beloved neighborhood. “I’d like to see the public own land in Palo Alto,” says Henry Vinton, a resident of College Terrace, “this is public land, not Stanford land, and they’ve got plenty.” According to Palo Alto Stanford Heritage, a nonprofit organization supporting the preservation of historic Palo Alto architecture, the relationship between College Terrace and Stanford began in 1870, when a pair of German farmers who owned the land that now makes up College Terrace refused to sell to Leland Stanford. The area then oscillated between public land and Stanford property until 1925, when the city of Palo Alto annexed College Terrace. Since then, Stanford has purchased much of the land surrounding College Terrace, leasing the land to businesses and Stanford faculty. However, it has yet to acquire the whole of College Terrace. Eileen Stolee, another College Terrace resident, lives near three houses Stanford owns. Her biggest concern is that Stanford often leaves its College Terrace properties empty for some time. “One of them has been empty for a year now, the other for a couple years, and the one next to me has been [empty for]





almost a year. We call them ghost houses,” neighbor, but I think they’re only a good Stolee said. neighbor when they have to be,” Murphy According to a 2016 U.S. News rank- says. ing of the 10 universities with the largest According to Palo Alto Online, Stanendowments, Stanford is third with $22 ford owned the deeds of 23 homes in Colbillion. Buying land in College Terrace lege Terrace as of July 2017, but that the hardly scratches the surface of Stanford’s number of plots of land they control could wealth. Sharon Murphy, a resident of Col- be higher. This is because Stanford uses lege Terrace since 1971, understands this “ground leases,” Palo Alto Online reports. well. Ground leases are agreements where a “They could outright own the whole tenant is able to develop a property during terrace if they bought every house,” Mur- the lease, but afterward, all property is rephy says. “They can afford anything.” turned to the owner, which makes it hard Maya Homan, a Palo Alto High to tell how many houses Stanford actually School senior who lives in College Terrace, owns. hopes that Stanford is playing fair while Jens Jensen, the communications dibuying up houses. rector for the College Terrace Residents As“Housing is so exsociation, sees benpensive, and Stanford efits and drawbacks obviously has a huge This is public land, in Stanford buying endowment that it can not Stanford land, and homes in College use to outbid other Terrace. they’ve got plenty. people,” Homan says. “Positive as— HENRY VINTON, “So I think if there’s no pects are that any College Terrace resident one looking to buy the residents working at houses then it’s fine if Stanford will reduce Stanford buys them, but if they’re outbid- local traffic and parking issues,” Jensen statding other people who just want to live and ed in an email. “Residences in poor repair send their kids to school in a good area then will get fixed and brought up to code. Resthey [Stanford] shouldn’t be allowed to.” idents will feel a responsibility also towards Stanford says it has no long-term goal College Terrace and Palo Alto, in addition of buying up College Terrace, and is com- to feeling a responsibility toward Stanford mitted to being a good neighbor to its resi- University, perhaps a good balance.” dets. However, he also acknowledges the Ernest Miranda, Senior Director of downsides of Stanford buying houses in Media Relations at Stanford, told Verde in College Terrace — one of which is how an email that Stanford staff members have Stanford properties will not re-enter the met with the College Terrace Residents As- housing market soon or ever again, reducsociation Board several times to discuss the ing total potential housing stock. purchasing of houses. They also addressed Homan also voices concerns that concerns about the creation of a new Stan- Stanford’s expansion may detract from the ford housing space just southeast of College neighborhood’s roots. Terrace. “I mean the whole history, the reason Despite Stanford’s attempts to appease College Terrace exists, is because the ownthe residents, Murphy still believes they ers refused to sell it to Stanford when it was don’t have the neighborhood’s best interest founded,” Homan says. “I think that’s kind at heart. of a cool little part [of history]. So it’s kind “I used to think Stanford was a good of sad that that’s now being erased.” v






SK ALMOST ANYONE, and even though she admitted that she was on chances are they won’t be able to her phone and that she didn’t see me,” Chu tell you what they were doing the says. morning of Sept. 27, 2016. But However, even more shocking to Chu Palo Alto High School junior Renle Chu was that, following the accident, no permastill remembers that foggy Tuesday morning nent measures were taken to improve the like it was yesterday — safety of the intersecshe was hit by a car at the tion. intersection of Churchill After my accident, “After my acciand Castilleja avenues. dent, I know that they I know they hired a “I just remember hired a security guard seeing the car and real- security guard for a for a day, but after, it izing in literally a second was like it was forgotday, but after, it was that I was going to get ten and it [the intersechit,” Chu says. “The im- like it was forgotten” tion] still remains very — RENLE CHU, junior pact was super fast and unsafe,” Chu says. I just remember a huge With dangers blow to my body and suddenly I was on the from this intersection and others remaining ground laying on my side, super disorient- over a year since, the City of Palo Alto has ed.” begun to implement changes to improve Although Chu was grateful to not sus- bike safety near Paly, as well as construction tain serious injuries, she was shocked to dis- of a bike boulevard on Ross Road, a comcover that she bore legal responsibility for mon bike path for Paly students. While these the accident — she had failed to notice projects aim to improve student bike safety, a small sign warning bikers that cars their actual effects, and direct implications do not stop. As a result, Chu had to on Paly students, must also be understood. finance the repairs for her bike and computer, both of which had been The Ross riddle severely damaged. According to City of Palo Alto Chief “I couldn’t have her [the driv- Transportation Official Joshuah Mello, the er] pay for any of my purpose of the bike boulevards is to allevibills or press ate traffic along a common bike path for JLS c h a r g e s Middle School, Paly and Gunn High School students. “The elements along Ross Road are primarily intended to reduce speeds of motor vehicles and also the volume of motor vehicles.” Mello says. These changes include the installation of concrete islands and roundabouts along Ross and neighboring roads, which make the roads narrower in hopes of forcing cars to slow down.

SPOKE-EN ADVICE Paly Junior Renle Chu rides her bike home after school. A mistaken assumption at a busy intersection over a year ago led to a scary accident. “I know most cars are pretty nice and they stop,” Chu says. “That’s what I assumed and and it didn’t happen.” Photo by Gila Winefeld.


APRIL 2018

However, some residents have expressed concern over the changes. These disagreements have even motivated some residents to sign an electronic petition calling to halt the developments on Ross Road. As of midMarch, the petition had garnered over 700 signatures. “This is dozens of neighbors trying to raise the alarm before an elementary school bike commuter is crushed by a minivan; before an ambulance is stranded on a concrete island,” the petition states.

ening the crossing at the tracks on Churchill Ave. which lie on a common bike path for Paly students. “We’re thinking a lot about how to make it easier to bike to Paly,” Star-Lack says.

Back to Churchill But what will happen to the intersection of Churchill and Castilleja avenues where Chu was hit? According to Star-Lack, although the city is trying to to improve the safety of this intersection by installing a button-operated flashing beacon, they have hit some roadblocks. These include pending approval from the school board to provide an easement and a barrier at the federal level. “The flashing beacons were recalled because the federal government has said that they’re no longer approved,” Star-Lack says. “But we know we have to improve the crossThe Paly perspective ing there.” Ross isn’t the only road that will underRegardless, Chu supports efforts to imgo changes to improve bike safety, accord- prove the intersection. ing to Palo Alto Safe Routes to School Co“One of the parents that saw me get ordinator Sylvia Star-Lack. In the coming hit said that her daughter actually got hit months, students can expect to see changes at the same intersection but it just wasn’t as happen even closer to home. serious,” Chu says. “It’s super important for For one, the city hopes to reconfigure crowded intersections to implement either a the intersection of Embarcadero Road and crossing guard or some kind of sign that tells El Camino Real, which borders Paly, by ... cars to slow down.” implementing bicycle crossings and pedesFor some students, the recent bike path trian crosswalks with protection islands. reforms have reflected positively on Palo AlAccording to Star-Lack, to’s bike-friendly repuconstruction should comtation. mence in late spring or There are always “Palo Alto is a early summer. pretty bikeable town improvements that “This is a really imcompared to other portant connection,” could be made.” towns,” says Paly soph— NEIL KAPOOR, sophomore Star-Lack says. “Right omore Neil Kapoor. now dealing with this in“The city has clearly tersection on Embarcaderecognized this [bike ro and El Camino is a deterrent for bicyclists safety] as an issue and is doing something — nobody really likes to be there. But I to change it. But there are always improvethink they [students] are really going to like ments that could be made.” the Embarcadero project when that’s done.” Going forward, Star-Lack urges stuIn addition, in the next couple months dents to speak up about any concerns they the city will begin to construct a staircase may have regarding bike safety around town, with gutters for bike wheels on the infamous whether it’s using the Palo Alto 311 app to slope between Town and Country and the submit suggestions to improve bike routes, Embarcadero underpass. which are reviewed by Star-Lack herself, or “You would be able to walk up the steps by contacting council members directly. rolling your bike along with you,” Star-Lack “I know that students are out there says. “You wouldn’t have to ride all the way every day biking and walking … you [stuover to the crosswalk anymore.” dents] see it every day — you know what Yet another project that should be un- the problems are,” Star-Lack says. “We derway by the end of this year involves wid- want to hear from you how to fix it.” v

By the Numbers


e gathered information about Paly students to gauge the general safety of school biking routes. The results don’t look too reassuring.







NOTE: We are 90 percent confident that a 6 percent margin of error captures the mean of Paly student opinion on biking to school and bike safety.


The Sham of Instagram




DON’T KNOW WHY I post illegal use of social media, stated Thomas Curran, content and talk about such explicit an author of the APA study, in an email to things. But people seem to like it,” Verde. says Allie a former Palo Alto High “Social media offers a platform for School student, whose name has been young people to exchange curation of their changed to preserve her anonymity. “I perfect selves,” Curran states. “This prohave this intense attraction towards things vides fertile conditions for upward comparthat are controversial, like drugs, sex, ison — the internalization of [the] unrealanti-religion, critiquing the government, istic ideal of the perfect self.” anarchism and machiavellianism, which is Especially within social media, stuwhy so many of my posts are political.” dents present various versions of reality, Allie uses her fake Instagram account, according to junior Maddie Yen, who has or “finsta,” to document her feelings. From three Instagram accounts. debriefing her drunken nights to talking “My private is my joke account where about her health issues, she is active on her I’ll post things of me just screwing around, account, posting at least once every day. Yen says. “I only let my really close friends On the other hand, Allie’s main Ins- follow that. My third is only girls, so I do tagram primarily features filtered photos of not have to filter out my private stuff.” her surrounded by friends. The majority of the photos have been taken in exotic places, Main myths painting a different picture of her life to the Students scrutinize what they post on majority of her followers. their “main” account more, according to seThe gap between posts on real Insta- nior Olivia d’Arezzo. gram accounts, “mains,” and fake Instagram “Your primary Instagram could be accounts, “finstas,” may be one manifesta- considered like a networking tool,” says tion of perfectionism. junior Nathan RamAccording to a study “You do not We just want to feel rakhiani. conducted by the Amernecessarily want them like we’re not alone, [people] to see all sides ican Psychological Association, perfectionism initially.” and that is possible of youInstagram among youth increased gives on a finsta without teenagers a platform by an average of 33 percent in the past 27 years, to share their best having a constinuand social media could be moments, but some ous conversation.” a contributing factor. students believe that — ALLIE, a former Paly student With the national this leads to a culture increase in perfectionism, of obsession over their there is a corresponding rise in pressure for public image. students to succeed. According to a Verde “It is a new way that young people Magazine poll, 41 percent of Paly students are evaluated by their peers,” Curran says. describe themselves as perfectionists, and “It [Social media] gives rise to problematic 75.8 percent believe that perfectionism is a tendencies as people tie self-esteem with the major problem in Palo Alto. amount of likes they receive.” This externally-motivated pursuit of The Instagram illusion perfection is ingrained in society. The rise in socially-motivated perfec“It is very important in this culture to tionism can be attributed to the increased be seen as successful and appear perfect, as

TWO-FACED Finstas (left) and mains (right) paint contrasting pictures of students’ lives. “Main instagram acTWO-FACED Finstas (left) and mains (right) counts are suppose to highlight the paint contrasting pictures of students’ lives. best parts of your life while finstas are “Main instagram accounts are supposed to the opposite,"says junior Annie Tsui. highlight the best parts of your life while finby Kaitlyn Ho stas are the opposite,” saysArt junior Annie Tsui.

HOW DID YOU CHOOSE YOUR FINSTA USERNAME? @finna.die “I was really stressed, so I thought finna.die would be representative of my mood at the time.” ­—Finn Mennuti junior

@nathania.banania “I see myself as a banana — yellow outside but white inside, and banania because it rhymes.” ­—Nathania Au, sophomore

@arabian_prince “My insta name originates from kind of a cultural background in Aladdin.” ­—Ahmed Ali, senior

this is used to determine our worth and value in society,” Curran says.

“It is no surprise we put a perfect representation outward to the public but a more authentic account in private, where Fake accounts, real stories judgement is not perceived to occur,” CurPrivate Instagram accounts are of- ran says. ten used to share intimate or funny stoIn this way, students’ experiences and ries, embarrassing photos or even random Curran’s analysis show that finstas may prothoughts. vide a more comfort“My finsta is for my able outlet for imperEven near-perfect super close friends, so I fection. know I won’t be harsh- people still conly judged for things that Flawed perfecstantly strive to I post,” says sophomore tion Olivia Ramberg-Gomez. As cliché as it is, improve and are Students also use there is no such thing never satisfied with as “perfect,” and an their finsta as a platform to share their insecurities unhealthy relationthemselves.” — ANNIE TSUI, junior and worries. It is pership with perfection ceived as a safe space to can be damaging. ask for advice and post opinions. “If you get wrapped up in that idea “We want to feel like we’re not alone, [perfection], then ultimately you will get a and that’s possible on a finsta without hav- worse result because you will be disappointing a constant conversation,” Allie says. ed with what you have achieved — even if Finstas let people express private con- it is close to being perfect,” says junior Nicerns to get the advice they need without sha McNealis. the pressure of a one-on-one conversation. Combating impossible expectations “People are posting things about being for oneself can be incredibly challenging, depressed, but it gives those people a way especially when those expectations are to reach out and speak out about it rath- based off of unrealistic views of others. er than just containing it in,” says senior “It’s important to remember that noAhmed Ali. body is ever perfect,” junior Annie Tsui In this way, finstas serve as large group says. “Even near-perfect people still conchats. Among students’ closest friends, they stantly strive to improve and are never satare not afraid to reveal their flaws. isfied with themselves.” v

75% of Paly students believe perfectionism is a problem.


of Paly students believe social media increases the need to be perfect

40% of Paly students define themselves as perfectionists.

According to a poll conducted by Verde Magazine, which surveyed 204 students in their English classes, we are 90% confident that the following margins of error catch the mean of Paly student opinion: Opinion regarding whether perfectionism is a problem in Palo Alto falls within five percent, the number of those who consider themselves a perfectionist, opinion about social media’s link to perfectionism, and the number of students who have a finsta all fall within six percent.

50% of Paly students have a secondary instagram account.

Art by Kaitlyn Ho


Up in arms 28 Richy Islas on gun activism disparity 29 Unloading stereotypes 31 Verde reflects on lockdown 35


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Up in Arms



SPELLING IT OUT A student holds a sign during the 17-minute walkout on March 14. Activists from Palo Alto High and other schools and organizations were united under the slogan “Enough is Enough” — a clear demonstration of their discontent.

HE PROTEST unfolded from a couple of cardboard boxes. Student organizers pulled out neon orange t-shirts with #EnoughIsEnough printed on the front, and as the crowd swelled in size, the orange color began to permeate throughout. Mumbling spread through the crowd, first in confusion but then in anticipation. Eagerly starting two minutes earlier than the planned 10 a.m. start time, student organizers blasted their megaphones, officially kicking off the Palo Alto High School Walkout opposing gun violence. “Enough is enough,” their hashtag read. So they walked out. After the Florida shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, students from around the country, including Palo Alto, called for gun reform at the national level. The National School Walkout on March 14, planned to last exactly 17 minutes — one for each victim of the Florida shooting — brought Palo Alto High School students together in a show of solidarity with the victims. With additional marches planned on March 24 and April 20 (the 29th anniversary of the Columbine High School Shooting), students are up in arms about the nationwide apathy towards and failure to adequately respond to gun violence. Through political action and protest, they’re making themselves and their message visible — and not just through their brightly colored shirts. All the other kids Nearly a thousand students participated in the march, thanks to intense planning by a team of fiery leaders — seniors Louisa Keyani and Naomi Moresi, as well as ju-

nior Warren Wagner, who is also a staffer on Verde magazine. Keyani’s decision to lead the walkout came after seeing how her peers at Stoneman Douglas reacted. “I feel like a lot of the times after school shootings they’ll be in the news and will go away,” she says. “To see the group of students get up and start taking immediate action made me feel like this is a very pivotal moment in history.” Senior and ASB Class President Noga Hurwitz also helped plan the Paly walkout. On Feb. 14, the day of the shooting, Hurwitz was in Florida visiting friends, some of whom had ties to Stoneman Douglas High School. The day of the Stoneman Douglas shooting, Hurwitz gained a personal connection to the issue. It was no longer just a headline. “Whenever a major emergency or event happens, there is a very visceral response from the global community,” she says. “There are ‘we’ve got to change something’ vibes. It is in that state that I returned to California.” Another student, junior Zoe Sid, was in charge of reaching out to local schools and media stations. She coordinated with the Castilleja junior class president to in form them of Paly’s protest plans. “Our school, along with Castilleja, is trying to make a huge statement along with the other high schools around the nation,” she says. Sid says that she decided to join the movement after talking to her neighbor, a Google employee who provided her with a new perspective on the power of digital communication. Once he got her thinking about the influence that activism can have, she decided it was time for her to join in. “He is always telling me how influ


ential media can be,” she says. “It got me thinking that just one hashtag or a picture from a person can start an entire trend around the globe.”

population that is ready to come out and support [the movement] and it’s good to see people standing up for something,” Siapno says. For Hurwitz, the movement is a nonSeventeen-minute stand partisan call. The morning of March 14, Castilleja “For me this is not a issue of gun safestudents and the Raging Grannies, a group ty ... which speaks to everyone regardless of of elderly women activists, joined Paly opinions on [the] Second Amendstudents as the walkout came ment or policies,” she says. to life on the corner of “It’s a matter of enEmbarcadero Road and gaging every single “To see the group El Camino Road. The parent, student atmosphere was both and faculty beof students ... taking somber and triumhind the idea immediate action phant. Some stuthat students dents listened to should not be made me feel like peer speakers discuss fearful to go to this is a very pivotal gun control and the school.” importance of votmoment in history.” — LOUISA KEYANI, senior ing. Others demanded Shouting down change with signs readthe walls ing ‘Protect people, not Besides usguns’ and ‘I will be next.’ ing their voices for Reasons for standing on the conchanting, students are using crete were as diverse as the demonstrators this movement as a springboard to get more themselves. involved in the political process. For freshman Owen Longstreth, the Sid was only a participant in the walkout signified a call to the federal gov- school-wide Peace March of November ernment to prevent further tragedy. 15, 2016. But after leading the charge on “We’ve had a lot of school shootings March 14, she encourages her fellow stuover the years,” Longstreth says. “I feel like dents to become politcally active as well. it’s a really big problem that needs to be “They can use their right to vote and addressed. They [the Trump administrathey can speak out about it [gun violence],” tion] have been doing a really terrible job.” she says. “Post on social media and just try Others, like junior Bakari Spencer, fo- to spread the news as much as possible.” cused on the victims of the recent shooting. One of Keyani’s main messages is for “I’m here because it’s a good cause, and students to register or pre-register to vote. I want to commemorate the guys that were She says besides being quick and easy, regislost,” Spencer says. tering to vote holds significance. Sophomore Gracia Hmelar, on the “We are the next voting generation,” other hand, regarded the walkout as a she says, before adjusting her statement. demonstration of the power of student ac- “We are the people who will be voting tivism. in the next elections.” v “Standing up and showing that we are not just going to stay quiet and silent about it [gun violence] and let the adults do the work is really important,” Hmelar says. “It LEST WE FORGET Palo seems like we are doing more than they are Alto High School students Vivian Feng and Noga right now.” Hurwitz stand solemnThe event was not confined to stu- ly as the walkout prodents and elderly activists. Palo Alto Week- ceeds. One purpose of ly reporters also came to the scene, as did the event was to honor the memory of the spectators. 26-year-old Joel Siapno, a nurse 17 students and three with the Palo Alto Unified School District, staff that died in the Stoneman Douglas came out of both curiosity and solidarity. attack. “I kind of wanted to see the student


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Richy Islas on gun activism disparity Senior Richy Islas, Paly school board student representative, grew up in neighboring East Palo Alto, where he says gun ownership is no foreign concept — even to young children. “The first gun I ever saw was on a middle school campus,” Islas says. “Two students [were] arguing, and one student pulled up his shirt and showed off his guns.” Since then, Islas recalls a chain of tragic shootings that claimed those he held dear, including his sister’s friend. “When we got a block away from his house, he came out of his house, he was shot and killed … in front of me and my sister,” Islas says. “Kids would get killed and it wouldn’t even make headlines on the news.” While Islas believes the nationwide walkouts don’t adequately address his reality of gun violence, he agrees with the message they espouse — enact stricter gun control now. “I see students fighting for what’s right,” Islas says. “I’m not going to say that they’re blind. They were never shown this other side, another world. They were never shown the ghettos. They were shown what’s happening in their community. They were focused on grades and college, other students are focused on living every day on the street without getting murdered. ”

raised RAISE MINIMUM from


18 TO 21 21 to

“Having a faster [police] response time to get to the schools and us having more drills.” — AJ Viola, sophomore

“What do you think the Paly administration should do to address the problem of gun violence?”

“The administration should encourage or carve out time for students to write out letters, contact their representatives.”


—Soumya Jhaveri, junior

75% Paly 81% US



9% Paly

42% US





nu m bers

The national statistics for hosehold with guns are taken from a 2017 Gallup poll. The national statistics for Americans who support a raise in gun purchase age is from a 2018 Politico poll. Access to both studies can be found at Student poll results were collected from a survey taken in Paly English classes during March, before the March walkout. Thirteen classes were randomly selected and 204 responses were collected. The survey was conducted online and responses were anonymous. Quotes and opinions of students were reported on independently of survey results.


SHELLING IT OUT Finn Mennuti holds a round of bullets. An issue in gun law for him is the lack of unity amongst states regarding the legal maximum magazine capacity, a change that, he says, could reduce mass shootings.“It just makes sense to reduce that amount,” he says, “If there are none of these 100 round magazines it’s just going to be so much harder for something like what happened in Orlando or in Nevada to occur again if there’s not this capability to continuously fire a stream of bullets without needing to stop.”


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ARUN DUTTA TAKES A “For my 13th birthday I got a BB gun moment to think through the and, after that, I went to a shooting class for list of all the guns he’s worked the first time and took an NRA class so that with during his time in a 10- I would become certified,” Mennuti says. week U.S. Army summer training program. As he matured, Mennuti’s interest The Palo Alto High School senior frowns in firearms, often a way to bond with his slightly, his hands folded in his lap as the grandad, grew. However, as someone who clock ticks in the portrait studio. After a few classifies himself as an Independent, Menconcentrated seconds of deliberation, he nuti says he supports numerous changes to answers: he has worked with machine guns legislation that, he believes, will reduce gun such as the M240 and M249, rifles includ- violence. ing the M4 and M214, and the smooth“I think that concealed carry recibore AT-4. Dutta began working with fire- procity would be something interesting to arms at age 12 as a Boy Scout, placing him see in the states. [It’s] where, if you have a in the minority of Paly students who have concealed carry permit, it applies in every experience with such weapons. state,” he says. “The only Though only eight percent way I would want to of Paly students have used see this instituted is firearms before, many more if these concealed participated in the Nacarry permits “We shouldn’t be tional School Walkout are held to a hiring educators protesting gun violence standard highand calling for gun coner than what based on their trol. In response to the they are curmilitary backFebruary mass shooting rently.” at Marjory Stoneman Me n n u t i ground.” Douglas High School in feels that insti— FINN MENNUTI, junior Parkland, Florida, the survituting concealed vors, students and other civilcarry reciprocity ians have come together to advoalong with stricter gun cate for legislative change. laws would please both the However, in the midst of heavy de- NRA and those advocating for gun reform. bates, hand-drawn posters and classroom “I think that it’s kind of a win-win,” discussions, are Palo Alto’s gun-owning he says. families, outliers in the city, who often feel Mennuti also strongly believes that they are left out of the conversation about students feeling unsafe at school is a huge gun rights and gun violence in the Bay problem, especially on Paly’s open campus. Area. Verde spoke with four Paly students “Right now there is no fence. I mean, with experience in handling guns to hear we have that,” he says, pointing towards the their perspectives. chain-link fence bordering Embarcadero Road, “but there is no real protection for Finn Mennuti us.” Despite growing up in the Bay Area, In response to this, Mennuti would Finn Mennuti has had more exposure to like to see more meaningful defense mechfirearms than the average Silicon Valley anisms put in place around schools. Howteen. At age 13 he shot his first gun. ever, he says that propositions such as arm-

ing teachers, as President Trump suggested, would not work. “We shouldn’t be hiring educators based on their military background,” he says. “We don’t want to be determining who’s gonna teach AP Bio by walking into a shooting range, picking out the best shot, and saying ‘Ok, you’re AP Bio, you can be elementary school.’” Raymond Fang Unlike Mennuti, senior Raymond Fang’s interest in firearms wasn’t encouraged by his family. In fact, he says he grew up in a liberal household that saw gun ownership as unnecessary. But since becoming a cadet with the Palo Alto Police Department at age 15, and later transferring to the Redwood City Police Department, he’s gained a familiarity and expertise with firearms that comes with the job. “I got into it [law enforcement] because I always had an admiration for police officers and the police department,” Fang says. “I ended up falling in love with it. It’s a good way to fill up my time.” In his role as a cadet, he says he’s received “extensive training” with firearms, and used to occasionally go shooting with a fellow cadet. He’s also attended a number of military boot camps, where he took marksmanship courses. To Fang, the right to bear arms is as important pragmatically as it is ideologically. Training with firearms now will be valuable to him later, as a law enforcement officer, he explains. But he also sees the Second Amendment as a vital part of Americans’ personal liberty and security. “It means the right to be able to defend ourselves with firearms,” Fang says, “being able to effectively combat any kind of oppressive force, such as the government or a criminal element, from harming us.” Like many Paly students, Fang was horrified by the Parkland shooting, and


DUCK DUCK SHOOT Annie Niethammer poses in the protrait studio. She and her family, avid duck hunters, don’t just hunt for sport — they eat what they hunt. “Obviously all the animals that we kill, all the ducks, we eat all of them,” Niethammer says. “It’s not like we just kill them and throw them away.”

sees gun violence as a serious problem. But unlike much of the student body, he doesn’t see guns as the root cause. “I feel like there definitely is an issue with the availability of firearms,” Fang says. “But also, there’s an argument for how mental illness is treated, and the availability of prescription medications.” To Fang, the issue is too complicated to reduce to one main factor, and he supports a variety of different approaches to solving it — for example, installing armed guards and metal detectors around schools. On some aspects of the gun control debate, Fang sees eye-to-eye with the majority of Paly students. He is in favor of continuing the current federal ban on fully automatic weapons, keeping the legal age to purchase a handgun at 21 in California, and a better societal response to mental health issues. But when it comes to limiting


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access to firearms overall, Fang says that the cost to law-abiding citizens is too high. “Basing on what I know in California,” he says, “I feel like it’s gotten extremely hard to own any kind of firearm that is effective in defending your life.” Asked whether he wants Paly students to know anything about gun owners, Fang answers quickly. “I want people to know that gun owners aren’t these people who wave around American flags or confederate flags, shooting in the air while driving their Ford,” he says. “[They] want to have that extra step in being able to defend themselves, their family, their friends.” Annie Niethammer Annie Niethammer is a Paly junior during the weekdays and a duck hunter on the weekends.

“We’re a duck hunting family,” Niethammer says. “So I pretty much grew up having guns and … I would say it doesn’t scare me to have guns in my house whatsoever.” Like Mennuti, Niethammer gets much of her comfort with firearms from her family. Whether it’s duck hunting as a group or hunting turkeys in a family friend’s vineyard, the Niethammers spend much of their free time bonding outdoors — and guns are an inextricable part of the equation. At home, her family keeps all their guns locked in the garage outside the house. Her father keeps the key hidden from everyone — even Niethammer. “They [my parents] are very protective about it, very serious about it,” Niethammer says. The one firearm the family has in their home is a handgun, which Niethammer says is for self defense. “You never know who can come into your house and they could have a gun,” Niethammer says. “They could shoot you.” She says she’s never received an overtly negative reaction from people who found out her family owns guns. But acquaintances commonly react with surprise, and she’s learned to censor herself a little when the gun debate comes up in conversation. “Just being around in this school and people talking about [being] anti-guns,” Niethammer says. “I guess it’s not easy for me to speak up about it, because I know the majority of people are like that. So I don’t want to start an argument or anything like that. They’re entitled to their opinion and I’m entitled to mine.” For Niethammer, coming from a family that owns guns is part of a larger outdoorsy identity. However, the stereotypes don’t bother her. “We’re proud to stand with our family and stand true to who we are [and] what we believe,” Niethammer says. v

Locked Down


HIS IS NOT A DRILL.” These words crackled over Palo Alto High School’s loudspeaker on March 29 at 12:44 p.m. After a moment of shock, our staff scrambled from discussing the proof of this edition to turning off the projector and barricading the doors. We were on lockdown. In the minutes following the announcement, before we knew the event was caused by a hoax, Verde staff recorded our thoughts. Here’s what we had to say. v WAITING Staff writer Ella Thompson crouches behind a couch near the back corner of the classroom, where she remained for the duration of lockdown. Photo by Maraleis Sinton. DISCUSSING Editors-in-Chief Emma Cockerell, Julie Cornfield and Saurin Holdheim discuss the proof with Folger Graphics representative Carlos Armenta, who was trapped with the staff during the lockdown. Photo by Maraleis Sinton. SHAKEN Staff writer Nicole Adamson curls up between the chair barricade. Photo by Thomas Chapman.

‘I know that massacres can happen anywhere now. It could be Paly, it could be here, it could be me. And you could tell everyone else in the class felt the same way.” — WARREN WAGNER, statistician

‘All I remember is lying on the ground, trembling as I gripped the hand of my best friend and prayed to anyone and anything out there.” — ASHLEY HITCHINGS, news editor

“ I spent two weeks talking to people who were fervently opposed to guns. And who march. And who screamed for change. And yet we are sitting here on lockdown.” — ASIA GARDIAS, digital editor

“The only thought that filled my head was please ... let everyone be okay. Please let this be a false alarm.” — SOPHIE DEWEES, staff writer

“You never think it’s going to happen to you until it does ... I still don’t think it’s registered in my mind that for a moment, our lives were at stake.” — BRIDGET LI, staff writer

“None of us deserve to live or learn in fear of our lives. None of us deserve to have to consider the implications of having an open campus, or the potential dangers of being in a classroom that has large windows to allow natural light.” — REBECCA YAO, profiles editor


PRESCHOOL PROBLEMS Aylette Torres, attendee of the CDC meeting, is accompanied by her daughter, a student of the Ravenswood district.




WO BOXES OF GOOEY cheese and pepperoni pizza greet parents, weary from work and toting children, at the entrance to East Palo Alto City Hall. Mayor Ruben Abrica welcomes everyone with a “buenas noches” and a gesture to the pizza. The parents settle in, hugging and motioning for each other to sit down while the children run off to play next door. Their faint, gleeful laughter constantly permeates the room — a subtle reminder of the very purpose for this meeting. These East Palo Alto families had brought their grievances to a last-minute meeting demanded by Abrica. The meeting was called to address the community’s concern regarding the closing of the Ra-


venswood preschool program, the Childhood Development Center, as a result of the district’s financial crisis that has been growing for over two years. in December 2016, former Chief Business Official Prima Singh announced the district had lost $1.3 million in state funding; the district is expected to make $3.3 million in cuts to stay out of debt for the next school year. The evening is marked with angry outbursts from parents, taking the microphone to explain to the panel of district and county administrators just how dire the situation is for their families. Their fear and desperation at the situation is masked by outrage as they all ask the panel the same question: “Where are our kids supposed to go?”

The district’s answer While the district has prioritized mitigating the impact of the budget cuts on students and their education, decisions made to counter the depleted budget still threaten the ease of education for many families. After having to cut 28 positions, the CDC is expected to change hands altogether, as Ravenswood can no longer support the program and will potentially hand off the responsibility to 4C’s, a separate preschool organization. The transfer is planned for this summer, a time when many parents depend on the CDC to keep their children safe as they go to work. The impending transition is already causing panic among families with children enrolled in the CDC. “The situation is really, really hard

features right now,” says Jennifer Osorio, the sister of a child attending the CDC, a year-round preschool program in East Palo Alto. “It is going to mess up a lot of families because we might have to commute all the way to San Mateo for school.” For Ravenswood father Carlos Aldama, the CDC closing may have drastic consequences for his family. “My wife is a nurse –– she works long hours,” Aldama says. “I am a construction worker. I can’t bring my little sons and my baby daughter with me –– it’s dangerous.” Ana Suarez, a member of the Paly class of 2011 and Ravenswood alum who has a two-year-old daughter currently enrolled in Ravenswood, says it is difficult to put her fear of the future into words. Tears come to her eyes as she tries to explain the impact the closing of the CDC will have on her family. “I can’t even describe how bad it actually is going to be for me,” she says, beginning to cry. “I’m a single mom, you know, I work and all my family is in Mexico, so Elena and I are all alone. I have no idea how I am going to take care of her during the day until the CDC reopens –– if it reopens.” The money matters According to Suarez, the district’s mismanagement of the budget is nothing new. “I’m not that surprised to see what is happening in Ravenswood,” Suarez says. “When I was in school, we had music and art but we didn’t have new computers or anything. Whenever a toilet didn’t work or our desks were broken and anyone said anything, they would always just tell us that there was no money.”


In a district populated with low-in- posed to go to M-A [Menlo-Atherton High come, at-risk youth, providing students School] like everyone else, but my parents with the best education possible within could see how bad things were there, and budget is a high stakes balancing act. they wanted better for me,” she says. “Com “At Ravenswood, the education isn’t ing to Paly was like night and day — there that great. A lot of the teachers were really were expensive resources, I was surrounded great and tried their best to make it chal- by kids who were very wealthy, and most of lenging to prepare you for high school be- the students were really motivated to go to cause a lot of kids go to high school from good colleges.” Ravenswood not ready academically,” Su- Despite the challenges of fitting in arez says. “But at the same time they can’t with her wealthy peers, Suarez is grateful to really challenge you that much because if her parents for providing her the opportuthey make it too hard kids will just not try nity to get a better education, and hopes to anymore, and it’s do the same for her a higher chance of daughter. I have no idea how I am “My daughter drop-outs.” According to going to take care of her is only two, but I’m San Mateo County already doing everySupt. Anne Camp- during the day until the thing I can to get her bell, the main rea- CDC reopens — if it re- into the PAUSD disson for the district’s trict so that she can financial troubles is opens.” go there for kinder— ANA SUAREZ, parent the decline of engarten and graduate rollment in the Rafrom Paly,” Suarez venswood School District. Enrollment has says. “I want her to have the best education been decreasing since the 1999-2000 school and all the opportunities that I can give her, year, and the district has lost 394 students and I’m just not going to be able to do that from the past school year alone, according in EPA.” to the Second Interim Report from Chief However, not every family is able or Budget Official Steven Eichman. willing to abandon their community for a “Families are leaving the district be- wealthier district. An army of parents will cause they want to go to KIPP Charter continue to battle for their children’s eduSchool, which just opened, or they want to cation in Ravenswood — whatever it takes. send their kids to PAUSD or Sequoia, or “We know that we will have to fight they’re leaving the district.” Campbell says. with everyone,” says Nori Osorio, mother Suarez says the academic environment of Jennifer Osorio. “This is a big problem forces parents to send their children out of –– the kids need to go to school and we the district. work, the parents work, so we are going to “I went to Ravenswood from kinder- fight for where our kids go and hope we can garten through eighth grade, and I was sup- help.” v

Let’s Do Lunch POST-LUNCH PIC Club members stand near the Media Arts Center after eating with students. The club aims to increase ties within the Paly community and reduce the cliquey environment. “It [human contact] is one of the pleasures we take for granted,” Khairkhahan says. Photo by Gila Winefeld.





OOK AROUND ANY DAY during lunch and you’ll see the same small groups of students huddled together, munching on sandwiches and chatting between bites, often at the same place every day. But there are also those who sit alone, listening to music through their earbuds, consumed in a book, scrolling through their phones or just eating in silence. Let’s Do Lunch, a new club formed this semester at Palo Alto High School, attempts to end our school’s cliquey environment by sitting with kids who would otherwise eat alone. “We hope to change the community at Paly,” says junior Eitan Klass, Let’s Do Lunch co-president. “The lunch environment can be intimidating, especially to freshmen since it’s a big school and if you don’t come to this school with a friend group it’s hard to enter one. That’s the wall we’re trying to break.” Klass explains that Paly’s clique problem stems not from mean spirit, but from apathy and inaction. “We always talk about inclusivity, but we don’t do much about it,” he says. “We talk a lot but we don’t take action.” Although Let’s Do Lunch currently has only three active members —


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Klass, junior and co-president Sebastian Khairkhahan and senior Cris Cadiz — the three don’t see this as a barrier in making new friends and changing the community. “We’re starting really small but we hope to create a trend [of inclusivity] that will attract more people,” Khairkhahan says. Khairkhahan explains that Let’s Do Lunch is not a typical club. “The reason you join this club is not because it’s a club and it’s a thing to do,” he says. “[You join] because you genuinely want to meet new people. The only point of having a club is so we can have the backing of teachers and to make it a part of Paly.” For three weeks a month, on Mondays during lunch, Klass, Khairkhahan and Cadiz split up and eat lunch with people. Then, on the fourth Monday, they meet to reflect and discuss ways to improve. “Our ultimate goal is to get the kids we started talking to during lunchtime to be part of the club: to go out and help other kids,” Klass says. “It’s… an ongoing cycle.” According to Klass, perceptions of the club may

have something to do with the way teens cope with uncomfortable situations. “A lot of my friends didn’t want to join the club because they already have a friend group — they’re in their comfort zone,” Klass says. “Teenagers by nature are cliquey and kind of selfish, and if they don’t see the need to go out and change something they won’t.” According to Khairkhahan, merely interacting with his newfound friends three times a month isn’t his end goal. “It’s not like, oh it’s Monday, I’m just gonna say ‘Hi’ to this person, shake his hand and maybe make an acquaintance,” he says. “We actually seek to involve these people in our social lives and form relationships in the long term.” v


for more information



Romaine calm and play on



INGERS DANCING around the neck of his guitar, Palo Alto High School senior Andrew Huang nods his head and looks to his fellow bandmates as they adjust their positions; senior Vijay Sharma twists two drumsticks between his hands, junior Gil Weissman skims his left hand across the strings of his bass and senior Emily Tomz taps a mic to the beat against her palm. Each of the band members lock eyes, and as if breaking a trance, release a roar of rhythm. The four musicians make up the band Romaine, formed in the summer of 2017. “It [Romaine] is a mashup of original songs and covers in a style that’s a blend of rock, reggae and a little hip hop and emphasis on rock and reggae,” Huang says. “We kind of combine our sounds so we get a fusion of rock and blues and reggae.” Ranging in age and music tastes, the band is a medley of personalities and backgrounds — bassist Weissman, guitarist Huang, drummer Sharma and singer Tomz — whom each bring their own artistic styles. Come together The members of Romaine are each interested in different styles of music, playing an important role in the band’s unique sound as they com-



monly make up melodies on the fly. “Sometimes we’ll just be jamming and Gil plays something and we’ll be like ‘Oh that’s super sick,’ and I’ll figure something out that sounds cool with it, and it kind of progresses our sound,” Huang says. This improvisation is how Romaine tries to advance their individuality. “Instead of trying to search for a song that tries to please all of us, we sort of make it so that we do our own songs,” Weissman says. “By doing that we also get to push it in the direction that we like and make the music line for our instrument more interesting for us.” I’ve got a feeling Despite the band’s love for music, it isn’t always as effortless as one, two, three — especially when performing. “[I’m] always nervous when I perform," Tomz says. "At Quadglobe, I was really nervous and I think it took like the first or second song to kind of actually get into it and be comfortable because it was in front of the school and … you’re completely exposed and up for judgement, which is scary.” Being nervous is a natural part of performing which the band has had to learn how to deal with. “Sometimes when I get nervous, I just don’t look at the crowd … I look at the guitar and Vijay and Gil for cues and stuff,” Huang says. “I’ve gotten lost in the music before. When that happens it’s always a long improvise jam.” However, the band likes to keep in mind that their purpose is not to just to perform for others — it is really to have fun. “You realize it’s just for fun and you get into it and get excited about it,” Sharma says. With a little help from my friends Huang first became interested in the

profiles guitar after watching a video of street musician John Butler in fifth grade. “He had this thing where he wailed on his acoustic and I thought that was really cool,” Huang says. “I was like, ‘I want to do that.’” From there, he bought his first guitar and began to teach himself how to play. The more he practiced, the more he wanted to form a band. “When you play rock music, it’s kind of boring playing by yourself, so you want to play with other people,” Huang says. Similar to Huang, Sharma started practicing the drums from an early age, yet soon realized that he wanted to play with others and perform. “It’s nice to have something to actually showcase your work instead of practicing in your own little bubble,” Sharma says. “And you realize there’s no point in playing unless you show other people.” Throughout their middle school years and the beginning of high school, Sharma and Huang would often practice together, and eventually met junior Gil Weissman. “I got in contact with Andrew when I overheard him talking to one of our mutual friends saying that he wanted to start a band but needed a bass player,” Weissman says. Weissman eventually joined the band at the end of the 2015-2016 school year. “Gil’s great because he’s the best bass player I know and he’s hilarious, and so we kind of made a trio and we played mostly rock,” Huang says. I saw her standing there While the group was full of talented instrumentalists, they lacked the vocalist they needed to become the band they aspired to be. “The full Romaine thing didn’t really come together until this year because we were looking for someone to sing,” Huang says. “I sang for one gig and I hated it.” Tomz had sung and played piano by herself before searching for people to perform with. She then sang with a variety friends prior to meeting Huang, Sharma and Weissman. “They connected me with Andrew … and Andrew was like ‘Hey! You sing! We

need a singer for our band. Do you want to be in a band?’” Tomz says. “I’m like, ‘Ok!’” At first, she felt it was hard to find her groove in the band, but has since grown comfortable with the group. “It’s like taking a risk, and I’m still kind of intimidated by them because they’re really good at all the instruments they play,” she says. The long and winding road Although his bandmates will be leaving Palo Alto after the summer, Weissman has another year at Paly during which he hopes to become part of another band. “There’s lots of talented musicians at this school and I’m sure I can find a group of people that don’t have a bassist and may be looking for one,” Weissman says. “I just gotta search.” Being in Romaine has improved


all of the members’ musical talents, and has been experience that they would recommend. “Don’t think you’re not as good as the people you’re hearing because it’s not true,” Weissman says. “As long as you’re having fun playing music, then you’ll sound great, and if you know a few people that play instruments and you know you want to play music, then do it.” Huang echoes that sentiment. “Play with as many people as you can find, and just figure out who sounds the best with you.” v

RAGING ROMAINE Members of the band practice some of their routines one night after school. "Not everything's about technique, you also need emotion [to] make it sound good," drummer Vijay Sharma says. The bandmembers have learned valuable lessons from their experience performing together, and hope to continue in the future.





HE LIBRARY HAS developed an indoor skeleton of towering steel beams, thanks to the work of a framing foreman, Eric Greenhaogh, and his team. Greenhaogh has a tool belt wrapped around his waist, and his vibrant green vest is stained with dark streaks. He walks over to a box with chalk, which is used to define lines of future walls, and points to one of many streaks painted onto the dusty ground. A score of chalk marks the cutting-edge diagonal wall, infamous among the crew for its difficulty to execute. “All this stuff you see here is the layout of the walls that are gonna be [built],” Greenhaogh says. While students only see the black smoke and guarded fences of the construction site, a dedicated team of construction workers, architects and managers works until day’s end. Each has a different background but they all come together toward a common goal: to build a library that will serve as the


creative space for many generations of Paly students to come.

the construction team. “By talking to these guys, you have the chance to inspire them and make them Positive outlook heard and respect them and you’re kind as “I fell in love,” says Janet MacKin- well,” she says. “Everybody is inspired to do non, the architect handling the library’s good work, that’s the goal, to have everyconstruction administration. “I fell in love one feel really wonderful about the job that with an architect by the name of Arthur they perform.” Erickson, in Canada … I fell in love with Although she has faced gender dishis buildings, his architecture, to the point crimination while working in the field where I couldn’t even of architecture, speak.” MacKinnon uses With piercing They always said whatthese experiences blue eyes and sharp ever it is that you do, as a way to grow charcoal eyeliner, and adapt. MacKinnon’s tall fig- you’re either the best or “Yes, there’s ure commands the you’re going to be part a lot of jerks in attention of any room the world, but it she walks into. Cou- of something big.” doesn’t do any— CHARLIE DIAZ, construction manager pled with her soft, thing to talk calm voice, MacKinabout them, it non perfectly fits cononly makes it struction manager Charlie Diaz’s positive worse if you talk about bad stuff, so just be description of her — a highly capable asset positive. You have a choice.” to the team. MacKinnon speaks similarly of Her advice for students is simply to work hard. “It’s a small world. If you work hard, do a good job, eventually you will be heard,” she says. “Everybody makes mistakes, so don’t be too hard on yourself when you make a mistake.”

PLANS FOR THE LIBRARY Architect Janet MacKinnon describes process of getting submittals, or shop drawings, approved. “Sometimes [I] get 20, 50 submittals all at the same time,” she says.



Picking his path Leading the crew is construction manager Charlie Diaz, a man who wears an easy smile beneath his hard hat and a neon yellow vest over his work clothes. Although this is only Diaz’s second year in construction management, he worked in architecture for four years after receiving his bachelor’s in architecture. Diaz’s path to construction and design began long before he received his degree. Both his father and grandfather are architects, which impacted his decision to pursue architecture. “Every time I was around them I was either drawing on their plans [or] getting

them mad because I didn’t know any better,” he says with a laugh. “I thought it was a coloring book and stuff, so I was always around something that needed to be built or something that I could build.” Diaz’s father has been a major guiding figure for Diaz during his journey through community college, architecture school and in the industry. When Diaz became the residential designer for a firm after its previous residential designer suddenly retired and left him with over 200 homes to permit and flip, Diaz’s father reassured him that he could do the job. “I was like, ‘how in the world am I going to figure this out, this guy had 30-plus years of experience and I’m barely setting things up on STEELING THE SHOW Eric Greenhaogh says that the my own and learning from him,’” best part of his jobs are his co-workers. “I think it’s just the people in general,” he says, “Everybody Diaz says as he relives the experiis helping each other and I like that part of it.” ence. “He’s like, ‘Are you kidding me, you can do this, you’ve figured out a lot of stuff in your life, look THE CONSTRUCTION CREW Charlie at where you’ve been.’” Diaz smiles as he explains the structure of the new library. “It has this amazing flow Both of Diaz’s parents pushed down the center of the building,” he says. him and his siblings to attend school and excel in whatever field they chose to pursue. “They always said ‘Whatever it is that you do, you’re either the best or “Whatever it is that you do, do it for struction to support his kids’ education, you’re going to be part of something big,’” passion, don’t do it for money because the but says that he won’t let his son follow in Diaz says. money will follow if you do it for passion,” his footsteps. As the oldest of five children from a he says. “Pick a path, write down a plan, “I won’t let my son go into the conlow-income background, Diaz’s best option and work your tail off for it and make sure struction business,” he says. “It’s rough for post-high school education was Harnell it is what you want to do every single day and you don’t see a lot of people here who Community College in Salinas. of your life.” are older. And that’s the problem ... there “We didn’t have the ability to say ‘I’m comes a point in your career where you going to go to a four-year way out here and can’t lift all that stuff that’s in there.” expenses will be absolutely covered.’ Abso- Passion over monetary gain He encourages his kids to find their Greenhaogh was only a few years into lutely not, I had to work for everything,” passion instead of focusing on money. college when his mother passed away. Sudhe says. “I always tell my kids find something According to Diaz, community col- denly, the opportunity to go to school vanthat you love to do, no matter whether it lege provided him with the same classes his ished and he was forced to work. pays you five bucks an hour or $100,000 an “There was just me and my father in friends in four-year colleges were taking for hour,” he says. “Just make sure that’s what the house — we needed help,” he says. “I a fraction of the price. For students interested in architecture was going to school full time, and then af- you want to do for the rest of your life.” v and design, Diaz cautions them to make ter my mom passed it was just too hard. I sure they’re pursuing architecture because stayed and worked and starting paying the of their passion for it, not for monetary bills around the house until he [my father] gain. Only a handful of architects are able got a little bit more situated.” Since then, he has gotten married and to achieve that coveted level of recognition now has kids. Greenhaogh works in conand become “starchitects,” Diaz says.




WO YEARS AGO, Palo Alto High School senior Maddie Dong was walking across Embarcadero Road on her way back to school. Then, a crash. Everything went black. A car running a red light left Dong lying on the ground with 12 broken bones, a torn ACL and bleeding in her


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brain. After five days of hospitalization and six months of physical rehabilitation, Dong returned to her lifelong passion: rock climbing.

is kind of like a puzzle, and each person can solve it but in a different way,” Dong says. Apart from her practices at the gym, Dong also enjoys climbing outdoors. During winter break, she spent a week The first steps climbing in Bishop, California, and has Dong’s rock climbing journey began ambitious goals of scaling iconic boulderduring the summer between fifth ing destinations. and sixth grade, when she was 11 “One of my Each climb is kind years old. friends and I reof like a puzzle, ally want to go “My mom signed me up with my friend to do and each person to the Rocklands a camp at Planet Granin South Africa,” can solve it but in Dong says. “It’s a ite, which is an indoor climbing gym famous national a different way.” in Sunnyvale,” park with really — MADDIE DONG, senior Dong says. good bouldering, The coaches were so we’ve always really wanted to go there.” immediately impressed with her talent, and of- Hanging in there fered her a spot on the “After [the crash], it was really hard climbing team. “It for me to join the team again because my was so baffling body was just not ready for intense workto me because I outs,” Dong says. “I didn’t climb for five or didn’t know there so months, and that was really hard as an was a team in the athlete to not do what you love and what first place,” Dong says you’ve always done.” with a lighthearted With the accident forcing Dong to laugh. take time away from climbing, she learned At the time, Dong more about who she is as a person without felt burnt out from rock climbing. years of competitive “I felt lost and I did have a feeling of swimming, so she felt that loss of identity,” Dong says. “After my acciswitching to climbing was exactly dent I was able to come to terms with who what she needed. I was as a person without it. Climbing is still one of the biggest parts of my life, but The art of now I know I have other aspects of myself. I climbing learned who I was without climbing.” D o n g ’s Still, Dong came back to climbing passion for with a shiningly positive outlook, accordclimbing re- ing to former teammate Sami Linden, a jusides within the nior at Los Gatos High School. sport’s blend of “Maddie is super supportive, she is alcreativity and ways really psyched to encourage everyone,” athleticism. Linden says. “She’s great to climb with and “Each climb really makes a good atmosphere.”




HOLD ON TIGHT While climbing, Maddie Dong wears rubber-coated climbing shoes with sharp edges that grip the rock face. She also carries a chalk bag with her at all times. “It’s a little pouch that you can strap around your waist and it’s full of chalk, which is a drying agent,” Dong says. “When your hands are getting sweaty, then you can chalk up to absorb all of the moisture.”

Leading the way Just last month, Dong started helping out at Planet Granite as the first female coach of the advanced team, where she mentors climbers ages 11 to 16. “Being a coach is so fun,” Dong says, smiling. “It’s almost like I’m living through these kids vicariously, and I love making them feel proud of themselves and watch-

ing them have fun doing something that I love too.” Dong describes the experience of leading a team as surreal. “The team is 70 percent girls who need a female leader to look up to,” Dong says. “I can now be that example for these younger girls, and I think that is so thrilling.” Dong also founded a rock climbing

group at Palo Alto High School, and while it is not an official club, she welcomes students to climb and overcome their fears. “I think you just have to get over that mental block,” Dong says. “You have to know that you are safe. You can’t really go back, so why not just try as hard as you possibly can and have as much fun as you possibly can?” v




HERE IS A PAUSE before Palo Alo High School sophomore Luc L’Heureux sings Hillsong Worship’s ‘‘I surrender.’’ His hands spread open as his voice softens to focus on the notes echoing throughout the portrait studio in Paly’s Media Arts Center. This is a typical moment — performing in front of a camera — for this aspiring actor and singer with an international pedigree, a flair for the dramatic and an abounding faith to guide him. While many audition countless times before receiving a role, L’Heureux has only attended two auditions and starred in three movies. The young performer is currently part of the newly formed boy band 5West, and will soon be a part of a reality television show about the musical group. L’Heureux grew up in Monaco, where he started his career as an actor. At 13, a local producer from the Italian company Movies on International Holding invited the students of his school to audition for a film called “Teen Star Academy,” which follows the lives of several teenagers on their paths to stardom. After L’Heureux’s first reading, he was cast as a character uniquely developed for his own personality; the character was even named Luc. “I didn’t really know what I was auditioning for but they told us it was something like ‘High School Musical’ in the south of France,” L’Heureux says. After “Teen Star Academy,” L’Heureux went on to act in two more films produced by the same company: “6 Children & 1 Grandfather,” which came out in 2016, and “Mission Possible,” which is still in production. “It [filming] was an experience of adapting to different situations,’’ L’Heureux says. ‘‘I’ve learned that before you go into the work you need to be prepared and your heart needs to be right. If you go in with a weary mindset or one that’s not with patience you can’t do anything.” Growing up in the industry Fifteen may seem too young for parents to sign-off on letting their children enter such a challenging professional field. However, despite being physically apart for months, the L’Heureux family has learned to stay supportive of their son’s growing career. “They [my parents] love it,” L’Heureux says. “They are totally on board.”


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limelight While some aspiring actors focus on establishing a reputation within the entertainment industry, L’Heureux values school just as much. “This is what I want to do with my life, but that doesn’t mean giving up on school,” L’Heureux says. “I need to work hard, I need to be diligent, and I have to be a good example. That is so important and it reflects on stage and on set.” Although L’Heureux has since moved to Palo Alto from Monaco, where the movies were filmed, both L’Heureux and his sister, Coco, have flown back to Europe to film during the summers. L’Heureux’s passion for performing also encourages him to find a sense of self and maturity.




embarks on the journey to fame. “I go in [to film] excited because I know that God has so much for me to do,” L’Heureux says. “And that’s super fun.”

Project Boy Band This past year, L’Heureux found an audition on Backstage, a website which organizes auditions for everything from commercials to music groups. It was for Project Boy Band, a venture curated by music producer Bryan Todd, to create a record-releasing boy band with teens from around the country. L’Heureux drove to Los Angeles for his audition and was to became a member of 5West, along with four other teens. In just three meetings, 5West recorded a single called All glory goes up “Pieces” which was released on March 9th. 5West started reL’Heureux has had more succording an album using studios in cess in his career than most adults. both Nashville and Los Angeles, and He attributes his extensive perform- When you give it to God he just look forward to going on tour after gives you so many great things ing career to God. finishing their record. “When you give it [your because He knows your heart is 5West will also be featured in a dreams and passions] to God he just reality TV show following the journey gives you so many great things be- right.” of the band, which has yet to finalize – LUC L’HEUREUX, sophomore cause He knows your heart is right,” its production. L’Heureux says. “I’ve given it to “It’s not meant to be scripted,” Him and by giving it to Him, I’m not prideful about anything, L’Heureux says. “People get to be a part of our lives and a part I’m not worried about anything.” of seeing a boy band from start to success.” L’Heureux hadn’t seriously considered singing and acting From acting in school musicals to starring in movies to professionally, he says, until God came to him in a vision. becoming a member of a boy band, L’Heureux has allowed his “I saw all these different artists like Justin Bieber, Beyoncé, devotion to the performing arts to turn a hobby into a career. Justin Timberlake, Elvis Presley. And God reminded me that He’s learned to use faith and to find enjoyment in acting and they were all Christians but a lot of them had fallen away [from singing because only then can his dreams become realities. the Christian faith],” L’Heureux says. “He asked me ‘Do you “If you love it, put time and effort,” L’Heureux says. “And want to choose me or do you want to fall short?’ So I said obvi- with God, everything is possible.” v ously I want to choose you and he said ‘Prove it.’” L’Heureux took this to mean that God wanted him to use his talents to his advantage. “If we have all these talents and we don’t use them then we’re just throwing them away and that’s wasteful,” L’Heureux says. According to L’Heureux, prayer is the most important part of staying motivated. He says his faith has brought about miracles on set. L’Heureux experienced the effects of his prayer with actor John Savage while shooting his first movie. “John Savage was playing my guitar and then he stops FOLLOWING DREAMS: Luc playing …. he says ‘My hand hurts because I have arthritis.’ L’Heureux sings a song that So I say ‘Can I pray for you,’” L’Heureux says. “I lay my hands he and a friend wrote while on his hand and I say ‘In the name of Jesus, I cast out the pain filming “Teen Star Academy.” L’Heureux prayed for a song to and I thank you God for healing John.’ And then he’s like ‘I’m come to him before writing the totally healed.’” one that eventually ended up Whether it be praying for castmates, or confiding in God in the movie.“Everybody was in awe,” L’Heureux says. “We before an audition, L’Heureux keeps his religion close as he

played it so long that my guitar strings broke.”




MART, DRIVEN, AMBITIOUS. Yeardley Love, a promising University of Virginia student, embodied the ideal of a model student. She excelled in school and was a varsity lacrosse player who volunteered on the weekends. But no one, not even her friends and family, realized she was involved in an abusive relationship for the four years she was in college, until it was too late. On May 3, 2010, her ex-boyfriend broke down her door and beat her to death. This is Yeardley Love’s story. But this story of relationship abuse among young people is repeated over and over again, according to Isabel Armstrong, Palo Alto High School sophomore and teen ambassador for One Love, an organization named for Yeardley Love. One Love is dedicated to educating young people about unhealthy relationships and achieves this with student ambassadors. Paly currently has two active teen ambassadors: Armstrong and Zoë Wong-VanHaren, sophomore and staff writer for Verde Magazine. “I think oftentimes healthy and unhealthy relationships go overlooked,” Armstrong told Verde in an interview last month. “One in three women will be in an abusive relationship and one in four men. It’s insane, but nobody ever talks about it.” One Love aims to educate students to prevent tragedies like Love’s from happening to others, according to Sarah Bigler, West Coast Engagement Coordinator for One Love. “We exist to give information to young people, information that Yeardley didn’t have,” Bigler says. “We really want to empower young people with the education on the warning signs of what an unhealthy relationship looks like, and give them the tools to step in and say something when

A LOVING LEGACY Yeardley Love’s legacy lives on with the One Love organization, named after her. “The No. 1 was [on]Yeardley’s jersey both in high school and in college … and then Love comes from her last name, so One Love,” says Sarah Bigler, West Coast Engagement Coordinator for One Love. Art by Britney Fan.


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they see it happening to their friends.” As the #TimesUp and #MeToo movements provide a national stage for a discussion about unhealthy relationships, One Love aims to expand its role and bring awareness to young people. “Since they [the #TimesUp and #MeToo movements] have flourished in the past few months, we see only increased demand for our work,” Bigler says. “People really understand there is a broader message here and are ready for this conversation and we’re really happy that we have the materials and resources that they need to discuss it.”

profiles Spreading the love “We teach young people so many important skills,” Bigler says. “We teach young people how to add and subtract and how to drive a car [but] nobody ever sits down with young people and teaches them what a healthy relationship looks like. We expect them to figure it out on their own.” One Love holds workshops in high schools and colleges to provide a platform for students to discuss “taboo” topics such as consent and healthy relationships. Students participate in their workshop, “Escalation,” in schools across the country. “It [‘Escalation’] involves a 40-minute film that looks over a typical relationship from a very euphoric, happy beginning all the way through to a really tragic end,” Bigler says. In the second half of the workshop, students have time to discuss the film and discover how it relates to their own life. “The best part of the workshop is we give forty to forty-five minutes for students to … talk about every warning sign that was portrayed in the film,” Bigler says. “It turns out that every person, regardless of age, sees these unhealthy things happening in the relationships that they’re in or that are around them.” One Love holds workshops at a range of different locations from high schools to movie theatres. Armstrong runs the workshop four times a year and finds the experience rewarding. “It’s really wonderful to teach people about the organization and watch as they take the information that they learned from our organization and apply it to their lives,” Armstrong says. Student advocates Bigler believes students can have a wide impact through One Love. “We really realized that this is an area where students can make a huge difference,” Bigler says. “The most likely demographic for people who experience an unhealthy relationship is between 16 and 24 … Students are in the best position possible to have a voice to lead and have a platform to make a real difference in this issue, and we want to empower them to do that.” Locally, the One Love ambassadors plan to promote the organization at several upcoming events. “We have a couple of short term goals right now: we would like to get a One Love float to [San Francisco] Pride [Parade] this summer,” Armstrong says. “We would also really like to bring a One Love workshop to Paly.” One Love also aims to involve school staff members in their campaigns. “We are actually working with the counseling staff and the teachers in order to bring them into the conversation, and then, I believe next year we will be able to bring ‘Escalation’ really widely to campus[es],” Bigler says. “We’re also working with schools that range from San Jose all the way up to Napa. And so we’re working really to make this message as accessible and easy to implement for both students and staff across the entire Bay Area.” According to Bigler, young people are the driving force of change. “We are working with a generation of young people who are so motivated for change and to make a difference,” Bigler says. “And Palo Alto, as a community, really has the resources and the motivation to take a lead on this issue.” v


Graphic by Sophie Dewees Source: One Love

Graphic by Sophie Dewees Source: National Coalition Against Domestic Violence


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FREEZE FOR THE PHOTO The players gather around the disk after their game of frisbee. “You don’t need a court,” Bhown says. “All you need is a frisbee and some people.”

52 FEBRUARY 2018






S A PLASTIC BLUE DISK floats across the Quad at Palo Alto High School, a ragtag group of junior and senior students race each other to reach it first. Through a crowd of jostling bodies, one arm emerges, frisbee gripped tightly in hand. It’s Tuesday at Flex, and the game has just begun. While most students may spend their Flex clarifying math questions and lounging on the grass, for juniors Lucas Washburn Miles Schulman, Harrison Frahn, Javid Alasti, Philippe Rerolle, Ashutosh Bhown and Nishant Patwardhan, Flex is ultimate frisbee time. Disk-covering the game The group first began playing frisbee last summer, during breaks when long Living Skills sessions left them looking for a way to pass the time. “We were really bored,” Alasti says. “We were just tossing it [the frisbee] around, and a game naturally happened.” Although summer eventually came to a close, the games persisted. With the implementation of mandatory Flex during the school year, the frisbee enthusiasts found a designated time set aside for their games. After several games during Spirit Week, passersby began to notice the boys, and some even started to join them. Now, what started out as casual games with several friends has become a lifestyle for a group of nearly 20 students. Frisbee doesn’t require rackets, nets or gloves, and that’s precisely the charm for many. With just a disk and a few people, the players are ready to start a game whenever the occasion arises. “It’s not organized,” Patwardhan says.

“You can kind of do it anywhere. You don’t need a lot of space, and you don’t have to be good at it.” With a handful of rules and an abundance of energy, anyone is welcome to join their games on the quad. “Random people show up, and the more, the better,” Schulman says. Frahn says, “You don’t have to care about it [frisbee]; you just have to want to have fun.”

out for the past few years.” “It’s a great way to just have some fun, get good exercise, bond with your team, and just have a really great experience,” Moskowitz says. “You not only are respectful and nice and kind to the other team, but throughout each game, you congratulate each other when they score a point [and] you talk to each other about how well they played after the game.” For senior Keenan Laurence, who also plays on Gunn Control, frisbee fosters a special type of bonding that traditional sports lack. “The people are so supportive, friendly and welcoming,” Laurence says. “Whether they are on your team or you’re playing against them, high fives are universal, and smiles are everywhere.”

Professional players Senior Rafi Moskowitz is one of the students who joins in on their games. Along with several other Gunn and Paly students, Moskowitz plays on the citywide co-ed high school ultimate frisbee club team Gunn Control. They compete against other high school frisbee clubs, and have even been Spin the stress away invited to college tournaments due to their For the group of friends, frisbee also high rankings. acts as an outlet for academic stress. The However, frisbee hasn’t always been a games allows for physical exertion without part of Moskowitz’s life. the intensity or commitment required for a A former rower, he school sport. was unable to continue the As the majority of Whether they sport after sustaining spithe players are juniors, are on your team heavy academic worknal nerve damage and injuries to the shoulder. or you’re playing loads have caused no However, he was deshortage of stress. They termined to remain active against them, have come to appreciate throughout high school. the escapism and relief high fives are After several recommenthat frisbee offers, and universal and dations from his friends, know that others may Moskowitz tried out for smiles are everyfind it valuable as well. Gunn Control. “It’s [frisbee] kind of “I had never played, where.” like a distraction,” Pat— KEENAN LAURENCE, senior or thought of playing ulwardhan says. “It takes timate up until this year,” your mind off things.” Moskowitz says. “I kind of laughed at it at To any students looking to have some first but, as soon as I started playing, I real- fun during flex, the frisbee boys say “come ized that I had been missing out and play.” v



Debunking the

Wonder Drinks



HY IN THE WORLD are teens chugging yeast, vinegar and fermented beans? Between kombucha, kefir, Soylent and more, the last several years have ushered in a revival of thousand-yearold wonder drinks and a new craze for seemingly strange new-to-the-market refreshments. In the last year alone, sales of these drinks rose by substantial margins. According to the Beverage Marketing Corporation, the kombucha market increased nearly 41 percent to $534 million wholesale last year. The health drink craze reached Palo Alto High School with 36.1 percent of students drinking kombucha, 17.3 percent drinking kefir and 5.8 percent drinking soylent. While these tantalizing tonics promise everything from detoxification to cancer prevention, the validity of these claims are still largely unclear. To distinguish fact from fiction, Verde took a closer look at the science behind these brews.

curring bacteria is really healthy.” Kombucha: cultured tea What’s more delicious than a colony of Beyond its bacterial benefits, kombacteria in your tea? For kombucha aficio- bucha is saturated with naturally occuring nados, not much. Brewed with bacillus co- vitamins and minerals produced by its miagulans, acetic acid and yeast, each glass-en- crobial culture. Low in sugar and high in cased bottle of the super drink brims with flavor, every swig of the carbonated beverage delivers a tart fizzy kick to the palate billions of probiotic organisms. Does the tangy tonic truly cure cancer and contains less than eight grams of sugar per eight-ounce botand alleviate arthritle — another selling tis, as some manEven if it isn’t curing point for kombucha’s ufacturers claim? fan following. Probably not. But cancer, when people “Kombucha has a scientists concur drink kombucha they’re vinegar-like base note that kombucha’s but can range from probiotic contents not drinking soda.” very pure to sweeter,” bolster the “good — ALICIA SZEBERT, science teacher says freshman Amanbacteria” lining the da McVey. “It’s definitely an acquired taste.” human gut, aiding digestion and strength Whether students drink kombucha for ening the immune system. its taste or its health benefits, the refresh “From an evolutionary standpoint, ment serves as a nourishing alternative to human civilizations in the past used to eat soft drinks, juices or other unhealthy bevera lot of things that are fermented and that had naturally occurring bacteria,” says Palo ages students consume. Alto High School science teacher Ali- “Even if it isn’t curing cancer and cia Szebert. “Our current cul- things like that, when people are drinking ture doesn’t have that, so I kombucha they’re not drinking things like think supplementing soda,” Szebert says. “It’s not just the actual with something health benefits of the probiotics and vitathat has nat- mins and minerals, it’s also what you’re not urally oc- drinking because you’re drinking Kombucha.”

Kefir: sour yogurt Yogurt that’s just exceeded its expiration date: That’s what kefir tastes like. The difference? Kefir is 99 percent lactate-free and teeming with live microorganisms, thanks to its probiotic fermentation process. Rich in protein, calcium and vitamin D, the creamy concoction is marketed as a nutrition-rich alternative for the lactose intolerant and health-conscious.



culture Animal studies find that kefiran, a poly- taste is good, it seems to cover all the essaccharide in kefir drinks, is associated with sential nutrients, it’s relatively cheap and it’s reducing blood pressure, cholesterol and really convenient.” inflammation. What’s more, cancer-curing Simply put, Soylent is nutrition declaims about kefir may be founded in sci- constructed. Each 400-calorie bottle conence. According to researchers at McGill tains maltodextrin, rice protein and oat University and Kyushu University, kefir flour along with plant-based vitamins and consumption reduced the proliferation of minerals, meant to satisfy 20 percent of daibreast cancer cells by 56 percent and pro- ly nutritional needs with no added sugars duced interferon-beta, a glycoprotein that and hardly any saturated fat. suppresses viral infections and the spread of “It makes almost no attempt to be apcancer cells. petizing in any way, it’s sort of like smooth, Instead of artificial supplements, unsweetened pancake batter with a soy which can produce a burden to the body, aftertaste,” says Joey Kellison-Linn, Class Kefir and other probiotic drinks strengthen of 2017 and a self-described avid Soylent naturally occuring antibodies and supple- drinker. ment natural dietary nutrition. The smoothie-esque substance is also Some claim that probiotic drinks im- marketed as the future of food: a simple prove one’s microbiome by adding more way to save time and resources. It takes sec“good bacteria” to the gut. onds to drink and bears a smaller environ “That’s a common misconception,” mental footprint than cooked dishes. says Stanford research fellow and microbi- “It’s a good solution for people who are ologist Gabi Fragiadakis. on the run,” Nguyen says. “If I’m hungry or “The microbes you ingest will mostly in a rush and I don’t have time to make a pass through you within a few days, as op- meal then I’ll just use it.” posed to becoming a part of your gut miWhile some consume Soylent for the crobiome.” convenience, others drink it for the novelty. In addition to its alleged health beneEarlier this year, Kellison-Linn engaged in a fits, students also cite Soylent mukbang a placebo effect and over Facebook livesflavor as major rea- I think they [claims] are tream with the goal sons why they drink way over blown but I of drinking 10 botkefir. tles of Soylent in “It’s kind of like think they come from one sitting, transa yogurt smoothie,” hints of evidence.” lating to 4000 calsenior Emily Tomz ories. — GABI FRAGIADAKIS, microbiologist says. “In the morn “I only got ing, if I have juice, if I end up mixing the through four-and-a-half bottles before I kefir with the juice I feel better about was pretty sure that if I drank any more I myself.” would throw up,” Kellison-Linn says. Although it may be unhealthy in an Soylent: meal in a bottle all-you-can-drink context, Kellison-Linn What if you never had to worry about recommends the beverage to students lookfood again? Try Soylent, a meal in a bottle. ing to develop healthier eating habits. This reformatted food derives its name “It’s best when it replaces mindless from the 1973 movie “Soylent Green,” in snacking and junk food that you eat just which members of an overpopulated soci- because you’re hungry and don’t have anyety consume a high-protein ration in lieu thing better on hand,” Kellison-Linn says. of solid meals. Although the drink is found Ultimately, these wonderdrinks promto contain human remains in the film, ise more than they can deliver. While they commercial Soylent is advertised as a food might not be harmful, it’s unclear how efsubstitute containing plant-based protein, fective the alledged health benefits actually are. carbohydrates and other nutrients that one “I think they [claims] are way over would find in a healthy meal. blown,” Fragiadakis says. “But I think they “It’s not quite solid food, but for the come from hints of evidence ... there is price and convenience it’s pretty good,” says definitely a possibility that these can confer Paly math teacher Daniel Nguyen. “The some health benefits.” v


DI Y Kombucha BREW Prepare a batch of sweet iced tea

SCOBY* Add scoby, the probiotic culture, to the mix

FERMENT* Let the concoction sit for several weeks

STRAIN Filtrate the scoby from the brew

DRINK UP Add sweetener or juice and enjoy

*Handle scoby in a sanitary environment with sterile equipment to avoid health risks Source: American Homebrewers Association




ROM HER CREAM-COLORED jacket to her gray and mindset, some utilize it as a way to lessen their environmental shirt and black headscarf, junior Noor Navaid’s outfit lacks impact. Alicia Szebert, an AP Environmental Science teacher, says bright colors yet manages to be every shade of fashion-for- she not only adapted minimalism to combat materialism, but also ward. Navaid practices minimalism, a lifestyle which, sim- as a way to be more eco-friendly and less wasteful. ply put, involves living with less. “A lot of people don’t really realize what goes into everything Although Palo Alto was ranked the second richest small city in they’re using,” Szebert says. “You can’t ignore the fact that materials America by real estate brokerage Movoto, not everybody exercises are finite — things are going to run out.” the buying power they may have. In fact, as the spring cleaning Szebert purchases organic cotton or second-hand clothing, season begins and garage sales start popping up around town, it is limits her use of plastic and uses refillable containers for necessities evident that people are trying to get rid of things they don’t need. such as soap. Navaid was inspired to adapt this minimalist lifestyle after Despite the benefits that Paly students have reaped from minwatching a Buzzfeed video chronicling the experience of minimal- imalism, AP Macroeconomics teacher Grant Blackburn sees funism. She chooses to implement the lifestyle damental conflicts between the American from her closet by eliminating flashy colors system of capitalism, consumerist culture Minimalism incorporand old clothes. and minimalism. “It is humbling for me, personally, to don’t go into business to sell nothtates this aspect of neat- ing —“I that’s wear less attention-grabbing clothes,” Navaid the hard thing to think about,” says. “I really like that minimalism incorpo- ness and cleanliness in Blackburn says. “It [consumerism] creates rates this aspect of neatness and cleanliness in ethos for us to consume, because that’s your life by eliminating an your life by eliminating lots of clutter.” how businesses profit.” Another student minimalist is junior lots of clutter.” As for the long-term expansion of — NOOR NAVAID, junior minimalism, Blackburn says that a sudden Lucy Volino. Like Navaid, Volino strives to declutter her life through minimalism. nationwide embrace of minimalism would “Once you start getting rid of stuff you don’t need, you have result in economic collapse and widespread unemployment as agspace for the things that really matter,” Volino says. “It isn’t often I gregate demand for products and services drop. However, he agrees look back or want to get more.” that if the country were to gradually adapt minimalism, the econIn addition to cleaning out her possessions, Volino focuses on omy would adjust to this change. making careful purchases. She avoids shopping online and tries to For those who wish to try out minimalism, Volino recombuy eco-friendly and ethical products. mends watching the documentaries “Minimalism” and “The True “[I] try not to get things on a whim, but rather spend a couple Cost” for inspiration. of weeks between the time I think I want to get something and the “It is important to remember that minimalism won’t look the time I buy it — if I do [buy it],” Volino says. same for everyone, and that you don’t have to become a minimalist Besides the impact minimalism has on a practitioner’s lifestyle overnight,” Volino says. v

5656 FEBRUARY 2018 APRIL 2018





UCCULENT PLANTS placed atop minimalist bookshelves and white tile accent walls characterize Palo Alto’s newest cafe, Baron Barista. Located in the Barron Park area of Palo Alto, Baron Barista opened in late January of this year. The owner, June Kwon, who also runs a spa next door, says she noticed a gap in Palo Alto’s coffee shop industry compared to where she lives, San Francisco. She claims this was her motivation to open the new cafe. “On University Avenue there are a few nice coffee shops where you can go and enjoy some coffee or tea in a nice environment, but other than that, there’s nothing. Starbucks, Peets, that’s it,” Kwon says, sipping her large cup of crystal clear tea. While the cafe’s pastries are delivered are delivered daily from Mayfield Bakery, what sets Baron Barista apart from other coffee shops are the intriguing drinks they serve, the most popular of which being a lavender latte. “Some of the coffee is from San Francisco. The tea’s from Los Angeles, Art of Tea. These are all small batch, independent shops,” Kwon says. We tried a few of the barista’s popular menus items to get a taste of this new business. v

Photo by Abby Cummings

White Coconut Iced Tea $4 Even to a non-tea drinker, Baron Barista’s White Coconut Iced Tea is suprisingly flavorful. With a distinct natural coconut flavor, ice cubes turn this drink into a refreshing spring/summer beverage option. Chai Latte $5 Bursting with fall spices like cinnamon and cloves, the chai latte served here containes strong flavors that prove to be the perfect balance of sweet and spicy. Made reasonably quickly, the drink can be served iced or hot, suited to all seasons. Avocado Toast w/ Egg $9.25 Avocado toast being a new addition to many cafe menus due to its recent hype, Baron Barista’s take on this simple recipe exceeds expectations. Served on a slice of whole wheat bread, a flavored mixture of avocado rests, garnished with 2 boiled eggs, radish, salt and pepper. A take on a recipe familiar to the taste buds, this cafe’s avocado toast is both fresh and exciting.

verdemagazine. verdemagazine. ccom omcom 57 5757 verdemagazine.

Meal in a Mug



PART FROM BEING a growing internet craze, mugmeals are the perfect way for students to make a quick and easy meal when running late for school, studying for finals or when their schedule is simply too packed. Here at Verde, we’ve compiled some mug meals that can be made in just a couple of minutes with only a mug, a fork and a few basic ingredients. Enjoy! v

Omelette T

he omelette is simple and reasonable to make as a breakfast food because of its, simplicity and time-efficiency. The omelette in a mug tastes like and has the texture of scrambled eggs, and is flavored with parsley and scallions, which add fresh and bright notes to the dish. The process of making the omelette consists of beating the eggs in the mug, then sprinkling in fresh herbs and spices. The only negative aspect of this recipe is that after one microwaves the omelette, there is a small pool of liquid at the bottom of the mug (most likely from the milk), which makes the egg at the bottom of the mug soggy. Tip: Beat the eggs in a separate bowl, and after microwaving for about one minute, take the mug out and swirl the egg mixture to ensure that there are no large chunks of partially cooked egg.

Zucchini Lasagna L

Adapted from Bigger Bolder Baking

asagna has never been easier to make with this short recipe, consisting of marinara sauce, sliced-up zucchini and ricotta cheese, topped off with mozzarella cheese. The lasagna does not taste as cheesy as expected, and the flavor of each ingredient, though meant to merge together, feels very separate; the zucchini floating to the top, and the cheese left to sink to the bottom. The recipe is not complicated; it only calls for four ingredients. However, presentation-wise, it doesn’t look to be the most appetizing of the mug meals; its bland and uninteresting taste at best mediocre. Tip: Place a small amount of marinara sauce in the center of the layers of cheese and zucchini to prevent the sauce from filling up the mug and overpowering the other ingredients.

Adapted from

Nutella Brownie Y

ou can never go wrong with Nutella, and this mug brownie proves it. The only ingredients required for this meal are Nutella, eggs and flour, which, mixed together, form the batter. The brownie is fluffy and doesn’t rise too much in the microwave, creating a perfectly crisp top layer. The nutella had a pretty dominant taste, but it wasn’t so sweet that it became overwhelming. Overall, the meal was not a dissapointment; it was easy to make, and the presentation wasn’t too shabby, either. Tip: Mix all the ingredients in a bigger bowl first, then pour it into the mug before microwaving. Adapted from Bigger Bolder Baking

58 APRIL 2018

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FINE DINING. A block from University Street, Bevri stakes claim as both the first and only Georgian restaurant in Palo Alto. Find it at 530 Bryant St., Palo Alto, CA 94301.


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N THE CAUCASUS country of Georgia, food and wine are vital to national identity. It’s not too difficult to understand why — the country is nestled at the crossroads of Asia and Europe, and is said to have attracted everyone from Iranians and Russians to Turks and Mongols in the days of the Silk Road. Combine such a convenient location with the sacred Georgian tradition of supra, or feasting, and you have yourself a cuisine that is as diverse as it is long-established. At Bevri, which held its grand opening last month on Bryant Street, such influences are clear. It’s not only the first, but also the only Georgian restaurant to have staked a claim in Palo Alto. The interior is charming to say the least. Warm lighting casts muted shadows along the ceiling’s slanted panels, creating an effect that’s harmoniously elegant. The effect is only heightened by cool-toned brick walls, taupe-gray flooring and inky espresso accents. It’s not quite modern, but rather a more refined take on rustic. The pleasantness of the restaurant’s atmosphere, however, was disrupted by some minor challenges in the ordering experience. Almost half of the menu offerings were dishes written in Georgian, labeled with descriptions that were either vague or entirely nonexistent. Navigating the menu requires constant conversation with the waiters, as well as an adventurous attitude.

culture The service, fortunately, is warm enough to make up for any of the problems that come with the language barrier. As would be expected from the atmosphere, Bevri’s dishes are presented with a delicate elegance. The eggplant rolls ($12), a classic Georgian appetizer, come artfully plated on a dish adorned with strands of yellow and purple wildflowers. The eggplant is sliced thin, giving every bite a tender introduction into its stuffing of finely ground spinach, walnuts and garlic. Hints of balsamic, as well as a liberal sprinkling of ripe pomegranate seeds, accentuate the dish’s sharpness, which eventually rounds out pleasantly into a warmer nuttiness. The Georgian salad ($12), in contrast, is underwhelmingly bland. While the dish is no doubt attractive, featuring vibrant tomatoes, spiraled red onion and coarsely chopped walnuts atop a bed of leafy greens and cucumber, its flavoring is painfully one-dimensional. The simplistic vinaigrette is pleasant but unremarkable, and it failed to address the salad’s palpable lack of distinguishing “Georgian” characteristics. Even those unfamiliar with Georgian food may think they recognize khinkali. It’s a Georgian dumpling dish, but it looks almost identical to the more distinguished Chinese soup dumplings. They’re both loaded with a rich, meaty filling that’s sealed off with soft pleats. Bevri’s khinkali ($10) are sprinkled with flakes of mild cilantro and stuffed with a black-pepperspiced blend of beef and pork. It tastes of a slight gaminess, but it’s enticing rather than off-putting. The skin is also doughier than its Asian counterpart, a result of it being boiled instead of steamed. Khachapuri ($14), Georgia’s national dish, is arguably the singular icon of the country’s cuisine. In fact, it’s regarded by so many as a staple food that the price of khachapuri is used as a measure of inflation in Georgian cities. Our server describes it as “cheesy bread,” but it’s a bit more complex than that. It’s a hearty bread baked into an eye-shaped boat, the rough, golden crust acting as a well for heaps of melted, tangy cheese. The whole dish is finished off with a generous pat of butter and a raw egg that’s

cracked on top of the khachapuri after it comes out the oven. This way, the residual heat slightly sets the white while still preserving the yolk’s luscious, runny texture. After mixing together the contents with a fork, the best way to eat it is with your hands. The act of ripping off pieces of the bread and dipping into the buttery cheese mixture is not only an enlightening cultural experience, but just a delicious pleasure in itself. A Georgian, pan-fried chicken called tapaka ($26) is all golden-brown, crackly goodness when it arrives at the table uncut and whole. It’s accompanied by tkemali, a sour plum sauce with both a sharp and bitter edge. The two together yield a harmonic combination, the garlicky richness of the chicken delightfully strengthened by the brighter tanginess of the sauce. The experience of Bevri is surprisingly refreshing compared to the more familiar tastes that dominate the Palo Alto downtown. It’s rustic yet modern, impressing with carefully thought-out flavors and presentation. However, it’s the excitement that comes with experiencing a new culture that gives Bevri its raw elegance. v


KHACHAPURI ADJARULI ($14) Georgia’s national dish is a unique one, featuring bread that’s stuffed with heaps of melted cheese and topped with a partially-cooked egg and a pat of butter. Tradition calls for first swirling the buttery filling into cohesion and then dipping into it with handripped pieces of bread.

EGGPLANT ROLLS ($12) The meal is best started off with the beautifully garnished eggplant rolls. Thin slices of eggplant wrap delicately around a filling of spinach, walnuts and garlic.





LTHOUGH MAKING CANDY may seem like a daunting task, it is a tasty and enjoyable way to spend an afternoon. With the approach of advance placement exams and standardized tests, these sweet treats will also provide a well-deserved distraction to any last-minute studying. Verde made three classic candies — lollipops, chocolate peanut butter cups, and caramel — and created easy-to-follow directions. v • • • • •


• •

1 cup sugar 1/2 cup light corn syrup 1/4 cup water 1/2 - 1 tsp extract (vanilla, mint, etc) Food coloring (optional) Silicone baking mat Lollipop sticks

1. Prepare lollipop molds or silicone mat by spraying them lightly with nonstick cooking spray and placing the lollipop sticks. 2. Combine sugar, corn syrup, and water in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves. Once boiling, insert candy thermometer. 3. When candy reaches 295 degrees Fahrenheit, remove from heat. 4. When it stops bubbling, stir in extract and food coloring. A little of both goes a long way! Spoon the candy onto the sticks as quickly as possible and allow to cool completely.

9 oz semisweet chocolate 3/4 c smooth natural peanut butter 1/4 c confectioners’ sugar 1/2 tsp vanilla extract 1/2 tsp kosher salt

1. Set 18 mini paper baking cups on a baking sheet. 2. Melt 4 ounces of the chocolate in a double broiler. 3. Spoon 1 teaspoon of melted chocolate into each cup and use a small spoon to spread the chocolate slightly up the sides of each baking cup. Cool until mostly solid. 4. Mix together peanut butter, confectioners’ sugar, vanilla extract and salt. 5. Spoon 2 to 3 teaspoon of peanut butter mixture into the center of each cup and tap it down for an even surface. 6. Melt the remaining 5 ounces of chocolate and spoon 1 teaspoon of chocolate onto the top of each cup. 7. Refrigerate until solid, about 30 minutes.

1/2 cup butter 1/2 cup heavy cream or heavy whipping cream 3 tbsp water 1/4 cup light corn syrup 1 cup sugar 1/2 tsp coarse sea salt

1. Place parchment paper into 9” by 5” loaf pan. 2. Cut butter into eight pieces, combine with heavy cream and microwave until becomes liquid. 3. In a small saucepan, combine water and corn syrup, then stir in sugar. When sugar boils, cover the saucepan for one minute. Then, remove lid and place candy thermometer. Cook until sugar reaches 320 degrees Fahrenheit. 4. Pour and stir butter and cream mixture into saucepan in portions. Continue cooking until the sugar reaches 240 degrees Fahrenheit. 5. Pour into prepared pan. Cool for 30 minutes then scatter salt over the caramel. Place in freezer for three hours.

Adapted from The Spruce

• • • •

PB cupS

Adapted from The New York Times

• • • •


Adapted from Inspired Taste


APRIL 2018

• •

Dear Freshman Stephanie, A LETTER OF ADVICE TO MY 9TH-GRADE SELF Text and art by STEPHANIE LEE


EAR FRESHMAN STEPHANIE, Getting more sleep isn’t the only outside-of-class lesson you’ll First off, one B in second semester Biology Hon- learn. Let’s start with an example. AP U.S. History, as you will ors isn’t going to tarnish your chances of getting into come to know, will be the most mentally exhausting and hardest a Top College™, so stop crying over your 3.93 in your class you’ll take in high school. That, coupled with your tendency bedroom. (Cherish your GPA while you can, because it’s going to to procrastinate, and your tireless pursuit of various extracurrictank over the next two years.) ulars and hard classes, takes a heavy toll on your sleep and GPA. If you’re not doing that, then maybe it’s September and you’re But here’s the thing. This sort of mental exhaustion teaches sitting in Benjamin Bolaños’s fourth period World History, watch- you far more than how to study more efficiently or stay awake ing InFocus. The anchors introduce a new segment — it’s a mes- into the wee hours of night. It teaches you to find your limits, and sage from the College & Career Center, with the list of colleges then see how much further you can push them. I promise, in the visiting campus today. You’re shocked: You’ve heard college names end, you’ll feel like you can do anything — because you can. You being tossed around like autumn leaves in the gust but suddenly can power through production week with five tests sprinkled in — you open the front door and find all the leaves piled up on your between; you can craft spectacular college essays; you could walk doorstep. Big Future is Watching. to hell and make it back in time to finish your AP Biology lab. It’s a Of course, both experiences (no matter how shocking they mental endurance bitterly fought for but victoriously kept — and are to you) are integral parts of high school. As time trudges to- it’s well worth it. ward May 31, 2018, you’re only going to encounter more of these Speaking of being able to do anything, you truly could do anyexperiences. Let’s face the facts: high school is thing. You could work to be a Nobel Prize-wingoing to change you in a thousand different ning scientist or a Pulitzer Prize-winning jourI need to emphasize ways. nalist. You could be the first Asian-American You’ll be learning a lot in your classes, the importance of this female president of the United States. Or which will lead you to feel highly stressed. But maybe you could work to be the best mothstatement: get sleep. listen: your worth isn’t measured by the numer in the world, a teacher in an impoverished ber of extracurriculars you do or the number school district, the laughing lunch lady at the of classes that start with “AP” or end in “H.” It’s measured by how deli. I truly don’t know. After four years of searching for who I am much you challenge yourself, how much effort you put into ev- and what I want to be, I’m left with more questions than answers. erything you do, and the lessons you learn outside the classroom. But, Stephanie, I do know this: stay true to yourself. RememI need to emphasize the importance of this statement: get sleep. ber this for the next four years. You’re a shining star; a gentle creaIt’s not cool to get under six hours of sleep every night — you do ture of deep love, fiery passion and a cosmic mind of wonder. Renot need to validate your hard work by accumulating severe sleep member this when you light this world on fire, because in a black debt. Health problems arise when you cut back on sleep, and your and white world, it’s important to stand for the constellations of brain works at an awful efficiency when you’re that tired. In fact, thoughts in your complex mind. Let your thoughts burn bright being awake for 16 hours straight will decrease your performance and brilliant. Keep loving. Keep speaking. And most importantly, as if your blood alcohol level were at 0.05 percent, according to keep wondering. Cleveland Clinic. It doesn’t sound too bad, until you realize the Love, Senior Stephanie legal driving limit is 0.08 percent.


Art by BO FANG




HEN PEOPLE THINK of fashion capitals, they immediately think of New York City, Paris or Milan. The first thought on their minds is not Silicon Valley. This separation between fashion capitals and tech capitals stems from their different approaches to fashion. Big cities use fashion as a form of self-expression, while in the Silicon Valley, the fashion scene is fairly homogeneous. An optimistic Kesi Soundararajan, a senior at Palo Alto High School who pays attention to Paly fashion, estimates that Paly contains about one-third fashion risk takers. The Instagram account “siliconvalleyprobs” encapsulates this issue of homogenity with its “Bay Area girl starter pack” post, referencing popular items such as Birkenstocks, Adidas superstars, and Lululemon yoga pants. As I’ve walked around the Paly campus over the past three years, I have seen the brands Urban Outfitters, Adidas, Free People, Brandy Melville, and Vineyard Vines show up over and over again. It’s no wonder that people see repetition in Paly fashion. The first step towards understanding Paly’s fashion culture is to examine the marketing strategies prevalent in this area. Many students get their ideas


APRIL 2018

of what to wear from social media and the better for people to take an individualistic racks of popular stores. approach to fashion instead of letting a culFor example, I’ve seen the same adver- ture where repetition is prevalent control tisements for “Sugar Bear Hair” and “Fab- them? FitFun” countless times on my Instagram It is much easier for students to take feed. fashion risks when their peers are doing Different popular clothing stores also the same. It is more difficult to take fashproduce clothing and accessory items to ion risks in contrast to the majority of your align to rising trends. It’s common to go peers who are wearing items from the “Bay shopping at Area girl starter Urban Outfitpack.” From my perspective, it’s ters and BranI haven’t dy Melville heard many worse to be limited when you and find nearly people externalidentical off- aren’t consciously aware that ly express their the-shoulder these limitations exist. concern over short-sleeve limited fashion tops. choices, but I think Silicon Valley’s timid ap- from my perspective, it’s worse to be limproach to fashion can be attributed ited when you aren’t consciously to the competitive environment. aware that these limitaIt’s not that Paly students don’t tions exist. It’s difficult want to stand out; many Paly to fix a problem when students enjoy flaunting test a community doesn’t scores and excelling in extra- know that this problem curriculars, but many fear stand- exists. Thus, the first ing out for the wrong reasons. In such step towards fixing a judgemental, competitive environ- Silicon Valley’s limment, it’s important not to do anything ited fashion culture wrong to ruin one’s reputation. Thus, is to confront the conformity seems to be the safest op- issue head on. tion. Once Silicon But there is power in nonconfor- Valley students remity that Silicon Valley students ar- alize they have a en’t seeing. Nick Franczak, a senior at homogenous fashNew York’s Stuyvesant High School, ion culture, they can where fashion is considered individ- begin freeing ualistic, describes the important role themselves fashion plays at his school. from the “For the two-thirds of the school fashion which isn’t basic, the culture of [Stuyve- n o r m s . sant] showcases individuals who just don’t It’s only a care about what societal values of clothing matter of should be and choose to adopt their own time before definition of what is acceptable,” Franczak the entire says. Silicon ValThe common phrase “fashion is a form ley fashion of self-expression” only applies if people culture redon’t limit themselves. Wouldn’t it be wires itself. v

perspectives Text by BRIDGET LI






WAS SWATHED IN JET BLACK cloth, standing rigidly in front of a silent crowd in the main hall of the Sacramento Masonic Temple. Imposing, archaic seating boxes loomed over my head, and the musky windows filtered the mid-afternoon sunlight a dazed yellow. Anxiety was biting through my insides, but I couldn’t let my fears escape — not when they were watching. I closed my eyes. Freeze frame. Record scratch. You’re probably wondering how I got into this situation. And to really explain myself, I’d have to blame my mom. It began five years ago, in a location with the cult-like qualities of a masonic temple but none of the mystery: the Palo Alto Family YMCA on Ross Road. My mom pulled me by the dance room, where stay-at-home moms clad in uniform Lululemon performed the ritual of Zumba, and to my first Youth & Government meeting. Run by the YMCA, Y&G is a program in which over 3,500 students from all over California simulate the United Nations

in middle school and the state government decision to endure hot cheeks and sweaty in high school. palms for the surges of adrenaline, and It was another one of those mom-man- most importantly, the decision to not reject dated activities, like art museums or eating the possibility of failure but to embrace it. asparagus, except for the fact that Y&G With this fresh mindset, the roles I made me resoundingly afraid. As a typi- played, whether they be “delegate reprecal 12-year-old, public speaking made me senting Venezuela” or “Senator Li,” requake in my camp mained even after I t-shirts and frayed hung up my blazer. By jeans. This feeling ex- Anxiety still shadows extending the courage tended not only to my thoughts today — it to take risks to my evpodiums but also to eryday life, no longer asking for permission just no longer owns me. did I feel a glaring spotto go to the bathroom light while paying for in class or ordering food at restaurants. So lunch or raising my hand in class. on that first day, when I shakily introduced But truth be told, at 17, anxiety still myself to a room full of strangers, I wished shadows my thoughts today — it just no I was at Zumba instead. longer owns me. Things will still daunt me, Despite my initial distress, I returned but I know that this time around, I have the in the following weeks. I battled icebreak- skills and mindset necessary to face them. ers and impromptu speeches every meetUltimately, it doesn’t take a mock goving, but also found solace in the lively and ernment program to raise a child — it takes amiable middle schoolers who joined me a child to raise a child. If you find asking there. The camaraderie, acceptance and for extra ketchup at In-n-Out like being exexemplars of outspokenness that sur- amined under a microscope the way I did, rounded me gave me permission it’s important to know that it doesn’t have to tentatively toe outside the to be this way forever. Find and take risks walls I had built for myself, in a community that will love you for who and in a supportive environ- you are, and pocket that spirit of adventure ment, the moments of hesita- for later, when you feel prepared to do so in tion and self-doubt — which the greater scheme of life. And remember held my vocal cords hostage that your progress should be measured by — eased their grips. your own sense of empowerment and never Looking back, my jour- another person’s standards. ney to an increased sense of Now, let’s unfreeze the frame. confidence runs in my head The black polyester sheath which like those cheesy self-improve- swings about my suit is the robe of a jusment montages you see in teen tice. The Sacramento Masonic Temple movies — spontaneous and houses the Y&G appellate court program, happy-go-lucky. In actuality, and “they,” my fellow delegates, are there it was a series of conscious to watch me perform in an example court and difficult decisions to push case. I tell myself that I am prepared, and myself outside of my com- the fluttering in my stomach quiets. It’s just fort zone — the decision to me and myself. choose my freedom of expresThe bailiff picks up the microphone, sion over the possibility and instructs the audience to rise. of judgment, the “Court is now in session.” v

verdemagazine.ccom om verdemagazine.

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new vikes on the block



T WAS THE FIRST DAY of freshman year, and while I stood in the middle of the Quad trying to decipher my new schedule — which looked more like a math worksheet than a timetable — I realized just how clueless I was about my new Viking home. I came from a very tight-knit international private school in Palo Alto, only a short drive away from Palo Alto High School. My school, where I grew up surrounded by the same 30 people for most of my life, made sure that my peers and I grew up in a very sheltered environment, the teachers and administration taking the time to guide each and every one of us by the hand through kindergarten, elementary and middle school. So, when I arrived at Paly, completely unfamiliar with the public school system, or even the American school system, I had no idea how to navigate this new environment, nor who to ask for help. I was all on my own. My experience on the first day of school wasn’t as smooth as I was assured it would be, and I felt stressed and unprepared for what was to come. I started out having trouble finding and keeping up with the pace of my classes, always two steps behind everyone else. At times, I felt too embarrassed to ask for help with what seemed to be basic knowledge, such as logging in to Rapididentity. Although I attended a school located in Palo Alto, the methods of teaching were very different compared to the schools in the Palo Alto Unified School District. When I started my freshman year at Paly, I noticed that teachers expected students to already understand certain concepts that were taught in middle school — concepts that I wasn’t familiar with, causing me to struggle in my classes. The sudden transition to Paly’s huge campus was rough at first, but the administration provided me with some guidance to help my move. They suggested I join TEAM, a program where I would be surrounded by the same group of people


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for most of my classes. This allowed me to gradually form strong friendships. However, regarding other aspects of Paly life, I was still clueless and left to fend for myself. Link Crew, a nationwide program aimed at helping incoming students familiarize themselves with new campuses, was also there to help students on orientation day. I feel I could have used this resource more efficiently, by going up to the Link Crew leaders and asking what I would need to know to get through my high school years. But as a shy new student, I lacked the confidence to do so, and unless approached by others, I wasn’t comfortable with talking to new people, especially upperclassmen from a new school. Paly could try to make this transition process easier next year by providing more information on the basic resources that the school offers, from Schoology to the Wellness Center, giving new students a better idea of how the system works and the chance to feel more comfortable and welcomed in their new community. By the end of my first week, I quickly learned to adapt to my surroundings. I was now used to my courses being taught in English rather than French, knew where to find my classes with the help of the campus map and understood how to utilize and locate important resources. Although I was able to learn how the school worked in only a couple days, I recommend to new students, either from smaller or out-of-state schools, or even from the surrounding middle schools, not to be afraid to reach out to others and ask questions. While the school tried its best to help me and a number of other new students adapt to this new community, I still ended up feeling lost and confused for the majority of my first week. New students shouldn’t worry too much, though, for with time and the help of others, I felt prepared and comfortable in a community I now knew I would become a part of. v




MAGINE BEING in a new country, on a new continent, living in a new house with a new family where you don’t speak the language. That’s what it was like for my French exchange student, Margot Dubois, when she arrived in Palo Alto last summer. Not only was it a completely bizarre experience for her, but it was very difficult for me as well. When you live with a stranger, it’s really hard to read them. It takes a lot of effort to understand someone with a completely different background and different traditions, especially when that person doesn't understand you either. When my family was first matched with Margot through the organization Adolesco, we read biographies about one another, saw photos of each other and exchanged emails. On June 16, my family got in the car and drove to the San Francisco Airport. When she showed up at arrivals, everyone froze for a second. Then, my dad reached out and hugged her, a stiff, awkward moment and welcomed her to what she'd call “home” for seven weeks. At first, we found it difficult to communicate with each other. Margot had studied English for many years, but it took a few weeks for her to get comfortable speaking. She didn’t know how to say certain words, and was more inclined to stay silent rather than make a mistake. She detested talking to anyone other than my family because she feared people wouldn’t understand

OUT FOR A RIDE My exchange student and I toured the Googleplex, then explored the Baylands en velo. Photo by Nerissa Wong-VanHaren.

her broken English. laugh and make fun [of ] you! I didn’t want In the beginning, I was tentative about to be seen as a beginner,” she told me. the whole experience. It was difficult to feel Two weeks before the end of Margot’s comfortable around Margot, I had started stay, we drove to Arroyo Seco, a campto regret hosting, and I felt like I wasn’t ever ground near Salinas, where the water runs going to click with her no matter how hard through a steep valley. We climbed far we both tried to condown into the nect. I was worried Not only was it a completely canyon and slept that the seven weeks bizarre experience for her, on the riverside would grow long. beach. That night, Over time, however, but it was very difficult for Margot and I lay we spoke more and me as well. under the stars started to find comon the still-warm mon interests. sand that lined the riverbed. Long after Eventually, we grew more comfortable the embers of our fire stopped glowing, we around one another. She helped my mom chatted about the many differences that she out with chores in the kitchen and had noticed between France and the US, played board games with little my and how coming here differed from her exbrother. She told jokes, spoke her pectations. This was the moment I finally mind more often, and most of felt us click. all, she really opened up. She It had been a long journey for us, but overcame her fear of making I think Margot and I both learned a lot. mistakes while speaking En- Not only did we learn how to adapt to one glish with people. another, but we learned more about each “In France the people other’s cultures, traditions and customs. We both were pushed out of our comfort zones. A RELAXED AFTERNOON By putting our hearts into it and not being Margot giggles as we try afraid of trying new things, Margot and I out the newest iPhone taught each other a lesson that can only be cameras at the Stanford learned through experience. v Shopping Center. Photo by Zoë Wong-VanHaren.


code at a cross F

ROM THE 30-TON ENIAC (the world’s first all-electronic computer) to the 174-gram iPhone X, the role of computers in education, society, and even daily life has shifted almost as much as their drastic change in weight. Digital devices like smartphones and laptops are scattered across tables in place of the papers and textbooks that dominated education just a few years ago. In January, the Pk-12 Computer Science Curriculum Design Advisory Committee voted to recommend a one semester computer science Career Technical Education elective for high schoolers to the school board. The board will most likely decide in late April or May whether or not to approve the requirement. In this article, two staff writers present the benefits and drawbacks of a required computer science elective, with Allison Cheng on the pro side and Riya Sinha on the con. v



S A KID GROWING UP in the science is kind of forcing them… maybe Silicon Valley, when people asked they want to follow another path, like the me what I wanted to do in college, they arts or some other CTE class,” Chen says. showed visible surprise when my response High school is a time for students to wasn’t STEM related. But this isn’t because hone their interests and learn more about I wasn’t exposed to computer science early their likes and dislikes. enough. Our school already offers an abunLiving in Palo Alto, there are plenty dance of science and math courses, giving of opportunities for anyone interested in an unfair advantage to students who enjoy that field to get inthose courses and leavvolved. I just never High school is a time ing students who are took to them, and more humanities-orifor students to hone ented with less flexibilithat was okay. So when it their interests and ty in their schedule. was announced In addition, enrollthat the Computer learn more about their ment in some electives, Science Curricu- likes and dislikes. such as journalism o r lum Design Adart, may drop, visory Committee had recommended that and some of our more unique the Palo Alto Unified School District make classes might not be offered the computer science elective required, it in the future. was my turn to be surprised. While I understand Not only would requiring computer sci- that our world is becomence place more of an emphasis and bias ing more digitized and on STEM than this school district already the demand for comdoes, but it would also push aside other puter-related jobs is on electives that students might be excited the rise, this is not a about exploring. We already have a huge number of required courses, leaving only one or two class periods open per year to take courses of your choosing, and even fewer if you want a prep. Requiring computer science without taking away another requirement would leave students feeling overloaded. Assistant Principal Janice Chen, the high school administrator representative on the committee, agrees. “It’s a lot to add on to graduation requirements that students are already having to do. Requiring students to take computer


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solid basis on which to require a computer science course. Many non-required courses also teach us skills that will also help us excel at our jobs. So why should computer science be any different? A viable solution would be to introduce computer science earlier at the middle school level, similar to how students in middle school are already able to participate in yearbook and other academic extracurriculars. This way, students can actively plan to take computer science in their high school years if it interests them. While the recommendation to add the requirement has already passed through the advisory committee, the school board has yet to vote on the final decision, which will occur in late April and May, according to Chen. During this time, it is important that the school board take into account all students opinions and gather input from people with all different interests. Requiring a course such as computer science inhibits and undermines students’ ability to choose their path and follow their passions.


Infographic by Kaitlyn Khoe Pro by ALLISON CHENG Con by RIYA SINHA Art by KEVIN KERR



The proposed class would serve as a OMPUTER SCIENCE experience strongly recommended. Knowledge of foundation that provides the very basic Python, Java, Javascript and other coding principles of computer science. As a result, students would learn vaulanguages preferred.” These statements seemed to appear lable problem solving and logic skills useful everywhere — on every STEM-related ap- for any future profession. Nowadays, jobs plication I filled out I was sure to see them are requiring more and more knowledge of there, at the bottom of the page in small technology and computers. Living Skills and economics, which italicized font. What followed was a sinking teach universally apfeeling in my stomach — I knew I wouldn’t be I knew I wouldn’t plicable concepts, are required courses in able to compete against computer science whiz- be able to compete schools. Computer scishould be no difzes. against computer ence ferent. Not only did I feel “I’ll bet you a intimidated by others’ science whizzes. nickel you can’t think seemingly expansive knowledge of computer science, I also felt of a single job that you could have now that like it was too late for me to start learning wouldn’t use computers to solve problems in some way,” says Suzanne Antink, the — like I would never catch up. Enter the possibility of a school re- facilitator of the recommendation commitquired computer science elective, support- tee. While some might argue that the proed by rudimentary coding instruction posed computer science class would cause through elementary and middle school. scheduling issues and an increased workload, adjustments can easily be made to address these concerns. For example, students may have the option to take the class over the summer, which would reduce their school-year workload. Alternatively, the class could be offered as an online course. By implementing a one-semester required computer science elective with these modifications, there may one day be a generation that views computer science not as a challenge, but rather as an opportunity to better current technology and improve society. After all, if the academic resources we use daily are evolving from notes stuffed in binders to Google Documents organized in the Cloud, then shouldn’t our curriculum be keeping pace with this technology-fueled change?

Source: Verde survey

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Source: Verde survey

Source: Marketwatch Student poll results were collected from a survey taken in Paly English classes during March. Thirteen classes were randomly selected and 204 responses were collected. The survey was conducted online and responses were anonymous. Quotes and opinions of students were reported on independently of survey results.




post-high school crisis I’M SCARED OF THE FUTURE. IS THAT OKAY?


T’S APRIL, and to most seniors, myself included, that means one thing: College decisions are in, and life beyond high school feels close enough to touch. Like most of my classmates, I’m excited. Regardless of where we’re headed, all of us are likely going to end up doing something far more interesting (with all due respect to high school) and closer to our passions than we have so far. We’re adults now, more or less, with all the freedom of choice and change of pace that comes with that. It’s liberating and exhilarating to imagine. But beneath all that celebration and excitement, there’s something else — something I rarely bring up with my friends, something I rarely hear mentioned in any conversation about college. It’s something that would make me feel like a freak of nature if I didn’t think there had to be other people out there who felt the same thing. I’m afraid. In 18 years of living, I haven’t been entirely on my own for more than a few days at a time. I haven’t had to fend for myself, to figure things out on my own, whether they be the little details of everyday life as an adult or catastrophic emergencies. Going to college feels a lot like starting over. It means leaving the city I’ve lived in all my life for a new one on the other side of the country. It means splitting off from my friends, a group of people I’ve known and depended upon for years, and going back to that helpless first-day-of-middle-school feeling. Though we talk about college a lot at Palo Alto High School (arguably too much), the fear and hesitation that come after the last application has been sent in are rarely part of the conversation. Maybe it’s because everyone, in every generation, has had to deal with the anxiety of leaving


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home — it’s something we take for granted, something we’re all expected to struggle with and then resolve. I doubt I’m alone in feeling so conflicted. I can’t help but feel that we’re missing something crucial by ignoring the emotional side of the college process. We obsess over the technical aspects, fit and target schools and résumés and essays. We are so laser-focused on simply getting into college that we forget entirely about what comes after. The result — at least for me — has been a fairly lonely adjustment process, as I try to hide my apprehension from my more eager-to-graduate friends. In the overachieving, fast-paced environment of Palo Alto, this sort of uneasiness becomes particularly invisible and frowned-upon in conversation. Many of us have been told and prepared, rightly, to aim for great things. But now that I’ve emerged from my four years here, as so many of us have, poised to take on the world, I feel myself faltering. It’s not that I don’t want to be the person my parents, my adviser or my sophomore-year history teacher expect me to be. It’s not even that my expectations for myself have changed. It’s that at this moment, the expectations that have been hypothetical for four years are suddenly becoming very real — and so is the possibility (no, likelihood) of failures along the way. I don’t have any satisfying moral to take away from the past few months of increasing worry, no great advice to give to others who might be coping with the same thing. All I can say is this: I’m

convinced that it’s okay to be a little scared. In fact, if we were all striding confidently into an uncertain, unpredictable future, with no second thoughts or pangs, it’d be a little concerning. As for that fear, maybe the best way to cope with it is to see it realized. We’re all guaranteed to stumble as we begin making our own lives, to be indecisive about what we want, and to fail several times over, in more than one area of our lives. We won’t be the first to do so (indeed, you’ll have to forgive me for writing a column that could have been written by any of our parents when they were our age). Those failures will be survivable. That doesn’t do much for my anxiety now, but it’s something to hold onto as we all make our way into an uncertain, sometimes-perilous, but ultimately promising world. v


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