Verde Volume 20 Issue 2

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V. ALL DOLLED UP Students explore self-expression through drag culture pg. 27 VERDEMAGAZINE.COM 1



VERDE MAGAZINE November 2018 Volume 20 Issue 2

Editors-in-Chief Ashley Hitchings Bridget Li Angela Liu Asia Gardias (Digital)

ON THE COVER pg. 27 On Oct. 26, sophomore Atticus Scherer wowed Spirit Week audiences as Waldo in his class’s “Where’s Waldo?” themed Spirit Dance. But little did they know that his penchant for performance goes beyond dance — as a drag queen, Scherer also adapts a female persona with tools such as corsets, high heels and dramatic makeup. This issue, staff writer Gila Winefeld and Photo Director Lucia Amieva-Wang capture just one stage of Scherer’s complex drag makeup routine.

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 50 Embarcadero Road Palo Alto, CA 94301. All Verde stories are online and available for commenting at 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 business managers Courtney Kernick and Abe Tow at

Design Editor Ella Thomsen Photo Director Lucia Amieva-Wang

Managing Editors Allison Cheng Kaitlyn Ho

Multimedia Editor Zakir Ahmad

Features Editors Riya Matta Riya Sinha

Social Media Editor Jasmine Venet

Profiles Editors Zoe Stanton-Savitz Jenny Tseng

Business Managers Courtney Kernick Abe Tow

Culture Editor Warren Wagner Perspectives Editor Gila Winefeld News Editors Emma Donelly-Higgins Alex Feng Launch Editors Abby Cummings Zoe Wong-VanHaren Editorials Editor Maraleis Sinton Copy Editor Sasha Poor

Art Director Yue Shi Lead Illustrator Hannah Li Staff Writers Kayla Brand Ben Cohen Devony Hof Kobi Johnsson Rachel Lit Kate Milne Prahalad Mitra Mara Smith

Adviser Paul Kandell

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 Election Reactions


18 20 24 27 32

Marissa Mayer’s Corner House High School Retrospective Gym Culture Bay Area Drag LatinX


THE MAN BEHIND THE THE MANMAKEUP BEHIND Sophomore Atticus Scherer THE MAKEUP ______. pg. 27



34 36 38 40 42 45 46 48

Meals on Wheels Kat Thomsen Max Bonnstetter RISE Task Force Bus Riders Anton Tompert Jeanpaul Ditto Rohin Ghosh


52 54 56 58 61 62

Teaquation & Tonic Andy Warhol Exhibit Ironic Fashion SF Mission District Caffe Machiavello Maniac Review


64 65 66 68 69 70

American Girl Dolls Commercializing Hangouts Art vs. Artist Mandatory Note-taking Video Game Culture Wars The Gila Games



pg. 61




pg. 32

pg. 48


The young and the bold


HETHER IT BE BEING THE FIRST Chinese American in the NBA, as Jeremy Lin was, or riding the wave of counterculture, as Bill Kreutzmann and Ron McKernan of the Grateful Dead did, Vikings break expectations. In this issue, we celebrate the young and the bold — our peers pushing the envelope in whatever endeavor — artistic, scientific, or athletic — they pursue. Sophomore Atticus Scherer is living proof that this tireless trailblazing is both exhilarating and liberating. Known for his electrifying solo in the sophomore spirit dance, he is now the star of our cover story “Queen,” in which staff writers Gila Winefeld and Zoe Stantön-Savitz illustrate the vivid, nuanced world of drag, the art of satirizing gender. Though Scherer is one of few drag queens at Paly, he stands among a flourishing drag scene in San Francisco and a generation that is increasingly defying gender expectations. While Paly’s own drag scene is in its infancy, Scherer certainly isn’t shattering societal constructs alone. In fact, freshman Katherine Thomsen had long been building her own norm-defying future before she entered high school. In “Kat the Builder,” staff writers Jasmine Venet and Emma Donelly-Higgins showcase how the self-made mechanic manages to unlock her inner creativity through eccentric inventions and unconventional gadgets.

Senior Jeanpaul “JP” Ditto likewise plunges headfirst into his passions. In “Diving with Ditto,” staff writers Ben Cohen and Abby Cummings explore the former gymnast’s journey to the USA Diving Junior National Championships and beyond. A video montage, which can be found on our website, demonstrates his twirling and twisting dives. It’s extraordinary athletes like Ditto who have propelled freshman Max Bonnstetter to sports reporting fame. His 7th period InFocus appearances are but slow balls for the Sports Illustrated sportscaster, who has interviewed the likes of Kobe Bryant and cameoed on Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight Show, as described by staff writers Abe Tow and Kobi Johnsson in “Bonnstetter on the Broadcast.” Just as Bonnstetter advances his reporting career, it’s the younger generation, the forefront of unadulterated determination, which will make — and shape — the news. In “Asking for It,” staff writers Courtney Kernick, Jenny Tseng and Riya Matta examine often stagnant adolescent attitudes towards sexual assault — and how campus advocates are working to change them. After all, while “young” connotes the unpredictable, it is our unbounded and dogged determination which drives both the wildly unexpected and steadily progressing future — often for the better. —ashley, bridget & angela



The Verdict editorial section consists of the collective opinion of the Verde staff

Consent education must be taught as early as kindergarten


N RECENT YEARS, Palo Alto High School has focused heavily on sexual harassment education following alleged mishandlings of sexual harassment allegations and as Office of Civil Rights Investigation. While some local advocates focus on holding the administration accountable, significant prevention measures must also be taken, such as consent education assemblies and curriculum. It’s important that children learn about their bodies and are given the language to explain uncomfortable situations. However, after a new state-mandated sex and health education curriculum for middle schoolers was implemented last school year, some parents argued that children should not learn sex education until high school. They claimed the curriculum was too graphic with explicit examples of teenagers in sexually uncomfortable situations. However, the notion that the topic of sexuality is irrelevant to children until they enter high school is misguided and harmful. According to The National Center for Victims of Crime, children between the ages of


Art by YUE SHI

7 and 13 are most vulnerable to child sexual abuse. Palo Alto Unified School District is not exempt from this predicament. Our students should be taught age-appropriate consent education starting in kindergarten to combat the sexual harassment culture in high schools and also foster sexually healthy students. Currently, the PAUSD Responsive Inclusive Safe Environment taskforce is working with Health Connected, a nonprofit Bay Area organization that specializes in comprehensive sexual health education, to design specialized curriculum for middle schools. In the future, RISE plans to design further consent and sexual health curriculums for elementary schools. Sex education educator, Master of Social Work and member of the RISE taskforce Laura Prentiss says lessons taught this young would emphasize the ideas of consent while excluding any sexual connotations it may bear. “Reinforcing the importance of asking before you take something from someone or before kids go out to recess [requires] talking about what games are safe games

and the importance of making sure that the people who you’re playing with understand,” she says. A key piece of this consent education is teaching children how to accurately name their body parts. Students should be taught the scientific names of all parts of the body because it promotes bodily integrity and provides a much-needed foundation to identify sexual harassment. “It’s very easy to roll in a very benign biological way talking about private parts and talking about ‘What are safe touches? What are unsafe touches?’ ‘How do we ask permission?’” Prentiss says. Last year, Paly students attended two different assemblies about consent. Nonetheless, while students voiced mixed sentiments, similar initiatives must be implemented into elementary schools more. It is the role of our schools to provide standarized consent and sex eduation to students from early age. In doing so, teachers and administrators can ensure that all students understand the meaning and importance of consent and are equipped to better combat sexual harassment. v

Students should use the CCC more


WITH SENIORS IN the midst of writing college essays and attending college representative visits and juniors studying for standarized tests, the lesser-known resources of the College and Career Center are often overlooked. Especially given recent expansions, such as hiring new college counselor Andrea Bueno, students should use the CCC more due to the wealth of free college advising services. These resources include helping students manage projects and providing


guidance on the application process. The CCC services are also more accessible than a personal counselor, which can cost thousands of dollars. While finding space in a student’s schedule for these tasks takes planning, using CCC advisers allows students to get individualized advice and essay feedback without even having to leave campus. And with thousands of colleges in the United States alone, the experience of the CCC advisers can help narrow the search and help students figure out which type of colleges are suitable for them. The CCC can also serve to guide stu-

dents through the logistics of the college process, such as determining deadlines for college cover sheets, planning which SAT Subject Tests to take and answering questions about college interviews. Finally, the CCC can help students navigate other paths, such as gap years, community college, getting finding employent and working in the military. Thus, Verde encourgaes students to take advantage of the resources offered by the CCC staff because they are eager help and provide support students as they embark on the next chapter of their lives. v




1968 Students found a live shark from the Monterey Bay and put it in the Paly pool

1972 Students rolled several old car tires into the Paly pool before the day's first period


1977 Seniors arranged beer bottles on the roofs surrounding the quad overnight




A spray painted, tireless Volvo was found upside down on the school deck

Seniors set up camp tents on the quad as an extension of the senior camping trip

DID YOU KNOW? “If you start clapping you never stop, the claps just get slower.” — Ally Kim, junior

To be or Much ado Confounder

et tu? 'bout iambic of teens

“Dolphins sleep with half their brain awake.” — Sebastian Chancellor, freshman

“Banging your head against the wall for an hour burns 150 calories.” — Jay Renaker, junior Photo by ZOË WONG-VANHAREN Haiku written by ERIN ANGELL Retrieved by KAYLA BRAND






“I love the Oyster crackers from Trader Joe’s. They taste great and I always bring them to school because my friends are also obsessed with them.” ­ AZALEA WAKELEE, — sophomore

“I love my guitar. It brings me together with my friends, sounds nice, and is a fun distraction from school.” ­ LUC PARDEHPOOSH, senior —

WITH SOPHOMORE CLASS PRESIDENT ADORA ZHENG Spirit Week Recap? “I love my white vans because they match with any of my outfits, they are super comfortable and last pretty long!” ­ MARILYN YIN, freshman —

Spirit week this year went really well ... One of the big changes we made was ... switching to Hungry Hungry Hippos, which ups more participation and takes the pressure off of one or two individuals.

What's Changing? There was a lot of confusion around the deductions for the juniors and seniors. One big goal that we've been talking about for next year is coming out with an official rule sheet about what is going to be a deduction and how much it's going to make you lose points.

Any Finals Week Plans? For finals week, we're definitely going to be doing events like Cookies on the Quad or other things to help loosen some stress.

Future Activities?


Of course, there's Prom, and we're going to be doing a couple more surprise Cookies on the Quad at unannounced times ... maybe get apple cider, hot chocolate for those holiday cookies on the quad. Also, there's gonna be a ping pong tournament that is going to be the next one I think. Reporting by ABE TOW Photo by ZOË WONG-VANHAREN


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news Paly Spirit Week sportsmanship changes considered

F CLOSED FOR NOW The train to San Francisco will be unavailable during the weekends for construction improvements on the corridor from San Francisco's 4th and King stations in preparation for new electric trains which are expected to be implemented in 2021. Photo by Alex Feng

Caltrain to San Francisco suspended on weekends ELECTRIFICATION DISRUPTS PUBLIC TRANSPORT


ALTRAIN HAS TEMPORARILY shut down weekend service to San Francisco and 22nd Street stations in anticipation of its new electric trains, with plans to resume service in late spring of 2019. According to the Caltrain website, during the closure weekend trains will terminate at Bayshore Station; from there, Caltrain will provide a free shuttle to San Francisco and 22nd Street stations. Riders who would like to get to San Francisco from the California Avenue station can take advantage of this shuttle or, alternatively, take the Caltrain to its Millbrae station and ride BART the rest of the way. “It’s been annoying for sure,” said senior Phoebe Crabb, who takes the Caltrain to school every day. Although construction at the Palo Alto station has subsided, closures in other sections of the tracks can create inconveniences, Crabb said.

“[Before] I would have to wait at the station for a while and get on any train that was going in my direction,” she said. “It’s gotten better now but I can see that it’s becoming a hassle for other people.” The objective of the construction project is to finalize work on four San Francisco tunnels — a key step of the Caltrain Modernization Program, which includes electrifying the corridor from San Francisco’s 4th and King Caltrain Station to the Tamien Caltrain Station in San Jose. The $1.9 billion project was first proposed as early as the '90s, but had to be repeatedly postponed due to lack of funding and public controversy. A common concern was that electrification would require cutting down a large number of heritage trees to accommodate overhead wires. However, in 2015, the project was greenlit and work commenced, with plans to finish in 2021. by GILA WINEFELD

OLLOWING aggression between seniors and juniors during Spirit Week, the Palo Alto Senior High School Associated Student Body has proposed plans to increase student unity next year through designating points to grades presenting good sportsmanship and clarifying rules. “We've been talking about … potentially adding a sportsmanship factor to the points,” said Junior Vice President Frida Rivera. “Like giving points to classes that are good.” Junior President Zoe Silver said she hopes the junior class losing this year will serve as a warning for sportsmanship during future Spirit Weeks. “Hopefully the people who were responsible for the bad sportsmanship will understand that it's not a joke and things won't happen without consequences,” Silver said. According to Senior President David Foster, ASB is also working to clarify Spirit Week rules. “We on ASB will work to clarify all the rules this year so there is less ambiguity about what's allowed in the future,” he said. Despite ASB’s best efforts to control chants and prevent fights, Silver and Foster expressed the necessity of upstanders during Spirit Week. “I hope that the rest of the people who were bystanding on the issue before will now cut the bad behavior off right when it starts because just having two class officers ... can't stop all the bad behavior,” Silver said. by ZAKIR AHMAD and EMMA DONELLY-HIGGINS


No Straw November raises awareness of environment


TUDENTS CAN participate in Palo Alto High School’s No Straw November by pledging to reduce and eliminate their single-use plastic straws to enter a raffle for one of 20 metal straws through the month of November. Participants of the campaign took the pledge at the beginning of the month through a Google survey, and winners of the metal straws are announced weekly on InFocus through the month of November. There have been 170 students who pledged, according to senior Evan Baldonado, who coordinated the campaign at Paly. “No Straw November was originally started by Shelby O’Neil, the founder of Jr. Ocean Guardians,” Baldonado said. “We decided to bring No Straw November to Paly in order to raise awareness about plastic pollution.” After November, he encourages students to continue seeking ways to help the environment. “I would encourage them to join some of our environmental clubs if they’d like to learn more,” Baldonado stated. by ALLISON CHENG

REMINISCING 20 YEARS LATER For many students, Principal's Secretary Carolyn Benfield serves as a friendly face and confidant. Under her desk sits an overflowing cardboard memory box full of signed photographs, art projects and gratitude cards from students and staff, many depicting personal struggles and achievements. Benfield points to a faded school portrait of a smiling girl wearing a large afro. "[Here is] a senior that did that before she got caught. I think the photographer didn't realize it was [a wig] so she got away with it," she said. Photo by Sasha Poor.



TUDENTS, STAFF AND PARENTS are preparing for the departure of 20 year Palo Alto High School Principal's Secretary Carolyn Benfield who will retire this December. Benfield has done much more than answer calls and organize meetings for the countless principals she has worked with over the years. "We see so much of the best of kids here ... in the office here [because] it's complete unconditional love," she said. "We're not

their age, we don't care what we're wearing or what their hair looks like so what we get is the real thing, the real people." Despite being just after the departure of former Paly Principal Kim Diorio, Benfield said her retirement is unrelated. After her dedication to the Queer-Straight Alliance and experience with foster students, she has plans to volunteer with nonprofits serving local youth. by EMMA DONELLY-HIGGINS

Upgrade Downtown continues various construction jobs


ONSTRUCTION OUTSIDE the parking assessment district, which includes Kipling Street between Hawthorne Avenue and Lytton Avenue will continue until Dec. 14 to update gas and water pipelines as part of the Upgrade Downtown Palo Alto Project. According to the project’s website, construction hours will be from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. The city crew will coordinate with residents to transfer the gas services to the new pipes. “We have completed seven out of nine intersections with new conduits and traffic signal pull boxes,” Upgrade Downtown

14 NOVEMBER 2018

Project Manager Aaron Perkins said. “We have completed six out of 11 intersections with new ADA [Americans with Disabilities Act] compliant curb ramps and many other streets surrounding University Ave have also been upgraded with new natural gas pipelines and service laterals.” From January 2, 2019 construction will continue downtown, including the 100 block of University Avenue. Beyond the downtown area, the city will also be replacing gas pipelines along El Camino Real, as well as three other separate city projects that include street improve-

ments along Alma Street, Whitman Court, Lane 33, Hawthorne Avenue, Everett Avenue, University Avenue, Downing Lane, Webster Street, Emerson Street, Arastradero Road, and Charleston Road. According to Perkins, construction is 70 percent complete and is expected to be finished March 2019. Although road closures may inconvenience residents in the short term, it will prevent shut downs and delays in the long term. by RACHEL LIT and PRAHALAD MITRA



Proposition voting results released PROP 6 — BLOCKED Proposition 6, blocked by 55 percent of voters, would have repealed a recently enacted 12 cent increase to the state’s tax on gasoline. The revenue from that tax goes to road and bridge repairs as well as public transit programs. PROP 7 — PASSED Proposition 7 is one step in a process to put Daylight Savings Time in effect year-round in California. This measure gives the state legislature the ability to adjust Daylight Savings Time, but the effort to make it permanent would still rely on federal law being changed.

WHITAKER PROTESTS Local residents joined national protests Nov. 8 at the corner of Embarcadero Road and El Camino Real against the appointment of Matthew Whitaker as acting attorney general. Unlike Jeff Sessions, who resigned from the position Nov. 7, Whitaker has publicly stated he will not recuse himself from oversight of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. “We find ourselves again where democracy and the rule of law are threatened and I hope that President Trump will be held to the Constitution and will refrain from his autocratic behavior,” said local action lawyer Suzy Hwang .

Tight school board race continues


HE 2018 RACE FOR two open seats on the Palo Alto Unified Board of Education came down to the wire on election night with incumbent Ken Dauber winning comfortably with 13,459 votes (27.3 percent). Three candidates were locked in a dead heat for the second spot as absentee ballots were still being counted. As of press time, attorney and Gunn High School graduate Shounak Dharap led with 11,502 votes (23.3 percent), while parent and special education advocate Stacey Ashlund trails by a little over 1,000 ballots, racking up 10,406 votes (21.1 percent). Not far behind, vocal community member and parent Kathy Jordan tallied

10,031 votes (20.4 percent). Alex Scharf and Christopher Boyd were significantly behind. No matter the final results, the re-election of sitting Board President Ken Dauber suggests that despite a term that saw many controversies, a plurality of voters approves of his performance on the Board of Education. If Dharap’s lead holds, he would add a new perspective to the board as a former student. He was the only candidate who vocally opposed the district’s choice to report weighted GPAs at Palo Alto High School and would become the youngest member at 28 years old. by WARREN WAGNER

PROP 10 — BLOCKED This proposition would have given local governments more freedom to enact rent control. It was defeated handily, only getting 38 percent support. Housing cost is one of the largest issues facing California, but rent control will remain largely off-limits for local governments seeking to tackle the problem. PROP 12 — PASSED Proposition 12 creates new minimum space standards for confining farm animals. It will ban the sale of meat and eggs which don’t meet those requirements and passed with 61 percent of the vote. SPECIAL BOND MEASURE There were four bond measures up for approval. Three of them — Propositions 1,2 and 4 — passed and will support housing programs for veterans and the mentally ill as well as increased construction of children’s hospitals. Proposition 3 would have funded projects to improve water storage and environmental sustainability. by WARREN WAGNER


The night before




NITED STATES GOVERNMENT students and teachers gathered for a party on the night of the Nov. 6 2018 midterm elections to learn about civic engagement and the democratic process. Students charted both the House and individual governors' races on large posters. History teacher and event co-organizer Caitlin Evans said she believes exposing students to the elections may increase future voter turnout: "I’m hoping that they will be more engaged and more interested in what’s going on." v “I hope that kids will be energized by this political exercise, and with kids who are voting in a couple years, hopefully this will get them to see how complex and interesting and exciting the election process is.” — Mary Sano, history teacher (right)

“I’m curious to see how this will go and who will win ... I want to be able to witness history. The next couple of hours are going to impact the country for decades. I want to see the Democrats take back anything they can. It’s unlikely they’re going to be able to take back the Senate but I hope they take back the House. I think that’s a more realistic outcome.” — Owen Longstreth, sophomore (left)

16 NOVEMBER 2018



“I’m at this party because I’m 15 and I obviously can’t vote yet, but I feel like this election is super, super important for us, like my entire future. This is a super big election especially at this time in America ... my future means a lot to me. We’ve been following this election in class and I think it’s cool to be around people who are as invested as I am ... It’s cool to see other people's reactions. Ideally, I would like both the House and Senate but realistically, hopefully the Democrats will win the House.” — Emma Cudahy, sophomore (left) “I always vote, every year. Every time, every single year because I think that as frustrating as our system is, it is a system that’s based on every individual having a vote. Nationwide, I hope that we’ll get back to more of a balance between the two parties.” — Elisabeth Rubenfien, voter “I’m just here to watch the elections. I just want to know what's going on and stay informed. It just feels more like siblings fighting and most of the debates between the two candidates are like ‘you're dumb,' ‘no you’ and they just kind of go on like this for a couple hours. I’m just here for knowledge, just to know who won ... I’m hoping for a Democratic majority because I think that Congress should be balanced. If the House is Republican, the Senate should be Democrat and vice versa.” — Leon Friedrichowitz, sophomore (right)

“My sophomores have been following the Senate elections for six weeks and are following state issues and debates and are getting really excited. Midterm elections are usually not the most exciting elections but the momentum behind them this year is kind of unseen before. This [party] seemed like a really fun way to bring it all together. I think for a lot of people it's the first time they have seen election results live. It can be like a sport, it's pretty fun ... People who remember they have a voice are more likely to use their vote. The most important thing is just to make sure that students will get out and vote in a couple years.” — Caitlin Evans, history teacher (right)



18 NOVEMBER 2018


S A WORKING mom, it can be hard to balance both a job and taking care of kids. Marissa Mayer, former chief executive officer of Yahoo!, is proposing a partial solution that would help Silicon Valley women bridge the gap between their business and family lives. Mayer’s vision Inspired by the creative and communicative environment of Google and Yahoo’s campuses, Mayer plans to create a club for working women and their families using the Corner House, a former mortuary and property at 980 Middlefield Road she has owned for five years. Alongside her artificial intelligence based technology start-up, Lumi Labs, this project is Mayer’s next step after resigning as CEO of Yahoo!. According to her statements and City Hall application, the club would be home to classrooms for dance, music and cooking classes as welll as a drop-in play space for children, a cafeteria, an outdoor patio and a collaboration space that would look like a large coffee shop. “I found myself really wanting a place that integrated classes for kids with a good space for parents to be productive and comfortable,” Mayer told Verde in a mid-November email interview. “My hope is that the club really brings families together.” If the project goes through, a membership is forecasted to cost $200 to $300 a month, which Mayer says is similar to the Jewish Community Center or the YMCA. Mayer is preparing for 250 small events and 150 large ones annually. She predicts there would be a peak of 100 to 150 people on an average day. The process is already underway for getting approval from the City Council, as Mayer completed prescreening and is working on the full application. If the application is approved, she says she plans to remodel the current facility. “We think this [the remodel] can be done in about 10 months and would be faster and less taxing on the neighborhood than a full rebuild,” Mayer states.

features Community concerns years ... I heard her voice in my house loudHowever, residents living near where er than my TV.” the proposed club site have shared concerns Some opponents of Mayer’s planned about disruptive noise, heavier traffic, ex- club support using the property for clusiveness and disregard to those who had multi-family housing instead. grieved for loved ones there. “I think the most serious issue facing “It just overwhelms a residential neigh- this town is the loss of [economic] diversiborhood,” says Peter Steinhart, who lives ty,” Steinhart says. “People who work here about 150 feet from the project. “Several can’t afford to live here … We are less and of my neighbors were alarmed about it to less a community when we lack that dibegin with. Nobody knew what it was.” versity.” Building new residential housing According to Maywould be difficult as er’s application, the club Mayer owns the propwould have up to 400 My hope is that the erty. events per year of varyDespite the comclub really brings ing size with as many as plaints, not all nearby 400 people. families together.” residents are opposed — MARISSA MAYER, entrepreneur “Those numbers are to the project. Many completely out of charneighbors were indifacter with the neighborhood,” says Stein- ferent to the idea, while others supported it. hart, who emphasizes the difficulty of find“She’s doing a great thing,” says neighing parking on such a busy street. bor Edwin Ayala. “I hope it goes through.” The funeral home is situated across the street from Addison Elementary School, so Legal issues community members are concerned about Mayer’s idea has also encountered legal increased traffic, especially during times obstacles. The funeral home is a Planned when parents drop off or pick up students. Community Zone, which only permits “We are currently doing a study to certain uses of the property, according learn more about traffic and parking in to Title 18.80 of the Palo Alto Muthe neighborhood so we can plan volumes nicipal Code. To change it, she to minimize impacts,” Mayer states in re- needs to have a public hearsponse to these complaints. “We are lucky that we have a large parking lot (55 spaces) which will hopfully reduce congestion.” The level of noise from Mayer’s Halloween parties at the property has also frustrated neighbors living in the nearby apartment complex. One neighbor says, in reference to one of Mayer’s Halloween parties, “I’ve only heard one funeral in 20


ing and approval from the City Planning Commission. Mayer met with City Council and received both support and concerns from the council members. “There are definitely advantages and disadvantages to this project,” says council member Greg Tanaka. Mayer states that “The project will hopefully be back before City Council for approval in 2019.” She completed the prescreen on Oct. 1 and is working on the full application with the Palo Alto Planning Department. Despite the controversy, Mayer’s plans open up ideas for how to provide more support for women and families in Silicon Valley. If all goes as planned, she predicts the club will open in 2020. “It will be great for the community,” Ayala says confidently. “She [Mayer] loves this community.” v



SEXUAL ASSAULT: SAME STIGMA, DIFFERENT DECADE Warning: This feature deals with accounts of sexual assault and may be a trigger for some readers. Editor’s Note: While we recognize the sensitive nature of this piece, we believe that stories like this are paramount in destigmatizing conversation surrounding sexual assault and misconduct, especially in light of recent local and national events. To ensure our reporting was as accurate and compassionate as possible, all three writers took a self-directed “Reporting Sexual Violence” course provided by the Poynter Institute. In addition, the following content has been approved by the survivors and sources who shared their stories. Finally, we would like to thank the Student Press Law Center for their guidance throughout this process and for reviewing a substantive draft of the article prior to publication.

NOV 2018 2018 20 NOVEMBER



HERE WAS A DEAFENING SILENCE in the small, upstairs room of the Capitol Building as Dr. Christine Blasey Ford testified before a Senate committee accusing then Supreme Court-nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her in high school. As she spoke, Palo Alto High School alumnus Jay Backstrand (Class of 1986) sat on the edge of his seat behind her — stoic, but riveted. Backstrand, who met Ford through their sons’ mutual love for sports — he coached her son’s baseball team and their sons play basketball together — was invited to Washington, D.C., along with Ford’s family and friends, to support her through the process. According to Backstrand, while sexual assaults must have occurred during high school in the ’80s, there was little conversation about it. Backstrand believes it is this taboo that made what Ford did so impactful. “The important thing about what Christine did was that she made it more the norm that if something happens, you come forward,” he says. Although Ford’s testimony has sparked more nationwide dialogue, the stigma surrounding sexual violence when Ford was inhigh school in the ’80s stifled assault victims from speaking out and limited the resources provided to them. Today, despite increased conversation about sexual assault and consent, many survivors still fear societal backlash. In this story, Verde explores the evolving culture of sexual assault, examining the experiences of Paly students from the ’80s and today. Jerry Scher, Paly (Class of 1981), describes the party culture in the 1980s. Anna, a pseudonym for a former Paly student from the ’80s, shares her experience with sexual assault and sheds light on the victim-blaming culture. A current Paly student, Kate –– whose name has also been changed to protect her identity –– reveals the continuance of sexual assault in our community.


The ’80s According to Scher, there were parties thrown every weekend that were attended by everyone from straight-A students to football players. Although he believes incidents of sexual assault must have occurred at these parties, Scher doesn’t recall hearing any accounts of it. “I never heard of anything that I would term ‘violent,’” Scher says. “It [partying] was just people having a good time.” Hearing Ford’s testimony, however, Anna was reminded of her own high school experiences with sexual assault in the ’80s. “It was like having a flashback and I could imagine the terror that she was feeling,” Anna says. “I just felt for her because I felt like she was being put on trial and it’s not something you would make up. It’s really a shameful feeling and to share it with the world like that is pretty courageous.” Nearly 3,000 miles across the country in Palo Alto around the same time as Ford’s sexual assault, Anna was raped in a park by her boyfriend at the time. “His [her boyfriend’s] friend held me down and my boyfriend raped me.” Recounting the act years later, each word Anna speaks is uttered slowly, with precision. “My friends that were there didn’t do anything about it. … That was my first experience [with sexual assault].” Anna, who attended Paly until her sophomore year, says sexual misconduct was a common occurrence. She didn’t know many friends who hadn’t experienced some form of sexual violence, which ranged from harassment to assault. As a high schooler, she says she was raped twice, both times by boys she knew and trusted. After word spread of her rape at the park, her close friends started shunning her then-boyfriend and leaving him out of certain social gatherings. But that, Anna says, was the extent of his punishment — she suffered far worse damage to her reputation and

CLASS OF 1981 Paly alumnus Jerry Scher stands in front of the Tower Building with his senior-year yearbook open to his class photo, where students arranged in the shape of the number 81. “Our class slogan was ‘Raisin’ hell and havin’ fun, we’re the class of ’81,’” Scher says.


mental health. “After that, they [classmates] started bullying me,” Anna says. “At school, word got around, and then I got a reputation for being a slut. It really affected my attitude toward school and I just kind of stopped going.” With the exception of a few close friends, Anna says no one at school who had heard about the rape reached out to her, offered support or encouraged her to report the incident to the police. “If you let it happen, you must be a slut — that was how everybody else looked at it,” Anna says. “You put yourself in that situation so it’s your own fault.” According to Anna, the victim-blaming culture often neglected to hold perpetrators accountable for their actions. “It was ‘Boys will be boys’ and ‘You’re wearing a short skirt’ so she was asking for it,” Anna says. “The victim [was] the first person they would turn and look at and see if they’re to blame.”

It was like I couldn’t remember how to scream. ” — KATE, assault victim

Although Anna says she recognized the gravity of what had been done to her, feelings of shame and fear stopped her from reporting the first assault. “I was afraid they [the police] wouldn’t believe me,” Anna says, “Because I had already acquired the reputation of being a slut, so they would just blow it off.” Anna says she also could not receive support from her parents, who were absent during this time. “I was an emancipated minor and I didn’t know what my rights were,” Anna says, pausing to steady her voice. “I needed help but I had no one to turn to.” While Anna and Scher differed in their party experiences, they

agree on this: There was barely any conversation about consent and sexual assault in the ’80s. “No one knew about ‘no’ [or] ‘stop’; that just wasn’t a concept back then,” Scher says. “There were definitely no teachers talking about consent ... It was a different time.” Likewise, Anna describes a campus culture with no conversation about consent, assault or healthy relationships. “It [consent] was not talked about,” Anna says. “Health class was about reproduction, not about relationships.” Kate’s story Three decades later, Kate’s story is jarringly similar to Anna’s and Ford’s. Kate, too, was assaulted at a house party when she was in high school. Though she came with a group of friends, she lost them in the chaos of the party, and while searching for her friends, came across a boy from a neighboring high school with whom she had become acquainted through mutual friends. By midnight they were both inebriated. He was mildly drunk after a couple of beers, she says, but shots of vodka combined with a lower tolerance for alcohol left her stumbling and slurring her speech — far past the point of consent — when he propositioned her. He seemed to accept her refusal to have sex with him, she says, but later asked her if she wanted to “just make out.” “I was like ‘sure’ even though I didn’t really want to because I felt bad that I said no to having sex with him,” Kate says. According to Kate, they went upstairs together and it was then that he began groping her. Though she does not recall exactly what happened, she remembers him removing her top, despite her repeated efforts to stop him. “I really wanted to scream at him or for help,” she says, stopping to wipe away tears. “But I just kind of froze, and maybe it was the alcohol or being scared, but it was like I couldn’t remember how to scream.” She remembers going limp, incapacitated by a feeling of helplessness. The events were hazy after that — the next thing she clearly remembers is waking up, alone, without her shirt. In the following days, she struggled to process what happened. When she was finally able to organize her thoughts, she says, she made the decision not to report what had happened. According to Kate, she confided in the girls who came to the party with her, but despite their initial displays of shock and sympathy at her story, a friend sent her screenshots of text messages they had sent to each other about her. They labeled her foolish for allowing herself to be led upstairs and excused the

INVITATION TO A POOL PARTY Invitations to parties in the 1980s were handwritten and hand-drawn. Parties that did not have handwritten invitations were publicized through word of mouth, Scher says. Invitation courtesy of Lisa Tayeri, Paly class of 1984. Photo by Riya Matta

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boy’s actions, saying Kate had always acted “thirsty” — desperate for male attention. After seeing how her friends responded, Kate says, she was shocked and confused. “I couldn’t tell my parents and stopped talking to my friends after seeing what they said,” she says. “So I honestly just had no one to turn to. Even two years later, there are still times I relive parts of it and just start randomly sobbing.” She is nevertheless healing, she says, and finding ways to cope with the trauma of the events. Though she is learning not to blame herself for the assault, she has one regret: “If I could do it all over again I would never have gone to that party,” she says. Conversation about consent As demonstrated by the experiences of Ford, Anna and Kate, sexual assault has occurred in high schools across the country for decades and continues to be a difficult issue to combat. “What really perpetuates the culture of sexual assault is this concept of victim-blaming and people making excuses for attackers,” Kate stated in a text. However, there is an increasingly open conservation about rape culture, education for teenagers of all gender identities on the legality of consent and ramifications of sexual assault and valuable resources for survivors to move forward after such a traumatic event. While Anna felt she had no one to turn to and lacked knowledge of her rights, communities now have counselors and professionals to help and encourage survivors to come forward with allegations. Yet, as Kate’s story illustrates, the culture of “boys will be boys” prevails and the practice of victim-blaming is still firmly rooted in our society. “Society as a whole needs to understand that their son or brother or boyfriend or whatever’s ‘one mistake’ is the reason that my life will never be the same...” Kate stated. “My body, happiness, and agency is not yours to f--king violate in the name of being young and making mistakes.” v Survivors of sexual assault are urged to call Mountain View Planned Parenthood at 1-650-948-0807, the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673 or text HELLO to 741741 to speak to a counselor in real-time.


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N ONE SIDE of the room, freshmen Matt Corrigan and Jackson Bishop spot each other on the bench press. In the back, seniors Kiran Majeti and Hyunwoo Roh do an abdomen workout together. Sitting along the wall, juniors Megan Andrews and Lily Welsh chat. The Peery Center at Palo Alto High School is now in full force, as every sport and student has had the opportunity to use the facilities since it first opened last year. It is not quiet in the weigh troom. Inside, there is a mixture of laughter, chatter, perspiration and focus. Open since August 2017, the $36.4 million, 91,765-square-foot gym was created with the intent to “nurture the whole child and provide some balance in the fastpaced, work-obsessed environment we live in,” the Peery family said in an interview with Palo Alto Online. As seen by the atmosphere of the weight room, the Peery center is fulfilling this purpose by creating a space where everyone is welcome.

COMMUNITY GAINS — Sarig (left) and Lagerblad (right) prepare for their workout. The two are often in the gym together, either working individually or spotting each other with a lift. “We started going to the gym together every flex [Tutorial] last year,” Lagerblad says.

The community space Physical Education teacher and Paly alumnus Jason Fung remembers when the Paly weight room was a small, smelly room in the old gym. The room was almost entirely populated by varsity athletes, most being football players, according to Fung. “Back then, maybe you had 10 people in the weight room, 15 if you were lucky,” Fung says. Together with former athletic director and football coach Earl Hansen, Fung was heavily involved in the weight room’s design process, and designed it with the intention of making it accessible for every student,

sports team and staff member. Unlike the past gym that was divided into two rooms, the new space is open, with tall ceilings and windows that cover the entire wall. As a result, the weight room is home to a vibrant mix of students from all grades and fitness levels. Some students lift weights, do cardio or work on their core, while others talk with friends. The weight room has truly become a place for everybody. “I’ve seen freshmen kids that I’ve taught that are already here, as seniors now, and hated P.E., hated lifting, hated working out,” Fung says. “But now they’re in here five days a week.” Barbell Club Despite the Peery Center’s inviting atmosphere, students can feel intimidated just by the concept of a gym. Junior Ya’el Sarig remembers being daunted when she first started working out regularly. “I was super intimidated just because, especially at Paly, there are almost no girls in the weight room,” Sarig says. “In weight rooms, generally a lot of it is super male-dominated.” As co-president of the Barbell Club, Sarig hopes to instill students with comfort and confidence in the weight room. Sarig uses her own experiences to help empathize with gym newcomers. “When I was beginning [going to the gym] ... I always sort of felt like I had imposter syndrome, like I didn’t belong there because I was weak, and that I was taking up the equipment,” Sarig says. Sarig says that as she started going to the gym consistently, focusing more on her workout and less on the judgment of others, it became easier and easier.


THUD — Callum Day Ham punches Dion Li as the latter does a pull-up. Both are usually in the weight room working out, but say that they can remember a time when they were intimidated to go. “It was a lot smaller and there were mostly seniors in the [weight] room ... with a bigger gym you can do a lot more,” Li says.

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“You’re going to be worried about what people think regardless, but just knowing most people are worried about their own workouts, that they’re not really thinking about what you’re doing, helps,” Sarig says. Junior Tina Lagerblad, who is co-president of Barbell Club alongside Sarig, started going to the gym her sophomore year when she joined the track team and more seriously when she met Sarig. The Barbell Club serves to teach students how to use the machines in the gym, create a smaller community in the weight room and address the intimidation students may face when first going to the gym, according to Sarig and Lagerblad. “It can look very intimidating from the outside looking in, but we want to open a door for people to be able to come in that might want to,” Lagerblad says. During the first Tutorial of every week, members of the Barbell Club gather in the media room across from the weight room. At this particular meeting, the group clusters near the board at the front of the room, where Lagerblad and Sarig teach the group how to squat. Sarig brings out a lifting belt and straps it on, demonstrating how it is used as if she were in the weight room. She passes it around and lets the group try it for themselves. As the meeting ends, Lagerblad and Sarig remind the club that next week they will be in the weight room. “For the first couple months of lifting ... I would force someone else to come with me because I was just too scared to go

alone,” Sarig says. “It [Barbell Club] is just trying to introduce people who might feel the same way as I did to a supportive community where you’re always gonna have someone next to you cheering you on.” Intimidation factor Lagerblad and Sarig say they have had an overall positive experience at the gym. However, the weight room is not a perfect space. Oftentimes they will receive comments from other gym-goers such as, “Woah, that’s a lot,” or “Where did you learn to do that?” Sarig says. Though these comments are intended as compliments, when other guys around the gym are doing the same exercise and no one is paying attention to them, Lagerblad and Sarig say they feel even more out of place. They have also noticed that guys will come up to them and ask how much longer they will be using the equipment. As Sarig recounts a time this happened to her, senior Walker Rosenthal interrupts with a suprised, ‘really?’ “If you do see a woman in the weight room ... know that it’s hard enough for her to be there already, ... and just don’t single her out,” Sarig says. “Even if you are impressed with her, don’t be weird about it. We’re just people lifting like anyone else, don’t treat it like a huge anomaly.” However, this is not a problem specific to the Paly weight room — Sarig and Lagerblad notice that in most weight rooms men far outnumber women. The lack of gender diversity is not the only deterrent for new students looking to work out in the gym. Rosenthal, a wide receiver for the football team, is consistently at the gym and, like many, was intimidated to go to the weight room at first. “When I started working out I used to go during lunch because I didn’t want to be in there at the same time as all the seniors who played football,” Rosenthal says. Despite this, Rosenthal, Lagerblad and Sarig have all found that this intimidation is unfounded. “Some of the nicest people I’ve ever met at the gym had been the people who look the most intimidating,” Sarig says. v





HREE THOUSAND square inches of black trash bag plastic looked couture on Palo Alto High School sophomore Atticus Scherer, cinched at the waist and topped off with fishnet tights and a pair of five-inch heels. Strutting glamorously into the center of the floor at Paly's Homecoming dance, Scherer flaunted his flexibility, sculpted by years of ballet training. By the time he finally landed in a death drop, a move in which the dancer dramatically falls backwards into an outstretched pose on the ground, students had circled around him. They cheered and whooped over the blasting music, many recognizing him as "Waldo" from the sophomore spirit dance. By the end of his short, impromptu performance, it seemed that everyone on the floor knew his name. What some students remained oblivious to, however, was that many of Scherer’s dance moves are deeply rooted in drag, or the art of satirizing gender. Death drops and split jumps, popularized by “voguing” — a pose-heavy dance style derived from the LGBTQ community — are traditionally moves presented by drag queens to showcase their athleticism and dancing ability while lip syncing. “Drag” is thought to come from an acronym standing for “Dressed Resembling A Girl,” dating back to Shakespeare’s time where all characters, both male and female, were portrayed by male actors. But outside of theater, drag has long been stigmatized. In 19th century San Francisco, dressing in drag when not performing was a crime, according to San Francisco State University sociology professor Clare Sears, who studies queer and drag history in the city. Even in today’s MIRROR MIRROR Sophomore Atticus Scherer gets ready for the Homecoming dance in a dress made from a trash bag. Scherer has been experimenting with drag makeup since he was 12 years old. "It [drag] makes me unique," Scherer says.


age of increased acceptance, discrimination still remains. “A lot of people in the LGBT community have been ostracized and criticized for their gender presentation,” Sears says. “Drag becomes a place to embrace that and play with that and expose the way that all gender is a performance and a construction.” Scherer has very well embraced his drag character, finding an identity in false eyelashes and dazzling avant-garde outfits. Sophomore serves looks Scherer first began experimenting with drag makeup at just 12 years old, though he “started acting very gay” in just second or third grade, he recalls with a laugh. “The first few times I don’t think anyone had the guts to tell me I looked terrible,” Scherer says. “It [drag makeup] is not easy. Oftentimes it takes an hour just to put on the base foundation, but it’s definitely worth it.” By “worth it” Scherer doesn’t just mean achieving the goal of appearing and acting like a woman. To him, drag is equal parts aesthetic and psychological, a vehicle for entertainment but also for personal clarity. Although he hasn’t yet come up with a drag name, he views this female persona as a fictional character separate from his real-life identity — an idea that liberates him. “I have more confidence in drag,” he admits. “Putting on the makeup, the costumes and everything gives you a little bit of protection. … You’re a character. People might judge this person, but when I come out of it, it’s not going to reflect poorly on me. Outside of drag I’m still a human person and I can still live my life however I want.” This confidence has helped Scherer in other aspects of his life; he’s no stranger to crossing gender-normative lines which don’t appear to phase him. As the co-founder of Paly’s Cosmetology Club, he hopes to inspire other high schoolers, especially boys, who may fear judgment for participating in the female-dominated art of makeup. And as an aspiring professional ballet dancer, Scherer finds strength — both physical and mental — through the discipline and resilience that being a young male dancer requires. In fact, it was through ballet that Scherer learned his first lesson in standing up to criticism for his drag. At an evening gala at an annual dance festival, he decided to wear makeup, a dress and heels. Upon seeing the outfit, Scherer says his ballet teacher immediately asked him to take it off, saying that the ensemble was “distracting” and inappropriate for the occasion. “It was kind of the first time I’d ever felt that it wasn’t okay to be like that [having feminine traits],” Scherer says. “Like, there are girls here in their prom dresses and ball gowns, and I can’t wear a little bit of mascara? … So of course the next night I wore darker eye makeup and higher heels.” While Scherer can now make light of the incident, he says that at the time it shook his confidence and his relationship with the teacher. “I was just so angry to the point where I was on the verge of tears,” Scherer says. “We had been really close before, and so I’m RESPECT THE RAINBOW Atticus Scherer puts on drag makeup in his room, a pride flag hanging above his mirror. With San Francisco only 30 miles away, the LGBTQ community is especially accepting in Palo Alto. “People around here might give questioning looks but I think just being in the place that we live, it’s very accepting,” Scherer says.

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kind of scared of people who are close to me, who are older and more mature, shutting me down and saying ‘That’s not okay.’” Despite this fear, it is clear that Scherer doesn’t plan on letting go of his drag persona anytime soon, and he maintains an unwavering respect for drag as an expressive but demanding art form. “Drag is not easy and there’s a lot of pain that’s associated with high heels and corsets and tucking,” Scherer says. “It’s uncomfortable. A lot of boys care that like, ‘Oh, it’ll make me seem weak and it’ll make me seem like a woman’ … But I think it actually makes you stronger.” Still, Scherer was not always as conspicuous about his drag as he is today. Initially, it was just his friends doing makeup on him for fun. “We would do his makeup and then he’d put on one of my dresses and we’d have a little fashion show,” says sophomore Eve DeMarzo. As Scherer’s passion flourished, so did hers. DeMarzo is a bio queen, a biological female who adopts the exaggerated feminine character typical of drag queens. She also enjoys doing drag king makeup, adopting the guise of a self-proclaimed "f---boy" character to whom she colloquially refers as Max. DeMarzo hopes to perform in the future, but is apprehensive of the judgment bio queens face. “A lot of drag queens are really rude to bio queens,” DeMarzo says. “I don’t post photos or perform for anyone but myself and my friends. Some of that is because of the discrimination against female queens, but a lot of it is that I enjoy doing drag for myself, so I don’t want to have to please anyone else.” In a culture dominated by nightclub performers and a history of criminalization, as well as a persisting cultural stigma, it can be difficult for young queens like Scherer and DeMarzo to find real-life communities and even harder to find places to perform or gain visibility. “I can do my makeup and have a gay old time doing it, but getting out there is hard,” Scherer says. “It [drag] makes me unique, but I do kind of wish there were just one or two more people that I could share this with, especially at our school.” Sashaying into SF Despite Scherer’s feeling of isolation in Palo Alto, nearby at the heart of San Francisco is a vibrant, eclectic breeding ground for drag artists. This open-mindedness towards LGBTQ culture emanates from the city, spreading across the Bay Area and even to younger generations, including students at Paly. “People around here might give questioning looks but I think just being in the place that we live, it’s very accepting,” Scherer says of Palo Alto. “They might have questions about it [drag], but they’re not judgmental.” Displaced three decades in time, but not in place, from Scherer is San Francisco-based drag queen Holotta Tymes who says the city has been a historic beacon for drag performers. “San Francisco is much more progressive,” Tymes says. “It is definitely on the forefront of the creativity that comes from drag and the performance art aspect of it.” On stage, Tymes seems to exude an impenetrable self-confidence, projecting her singing to the entire venue and accenting

Outside of drag I’m still a human person and I can still live my life however I want.” — ATTICUS SCHERER, sophomore

high notes as she caricatures the female voice. Yet, as she sits down to talk with us post-performance, her facial features soften. Her voice shifts in timbre as she reminisces about her experiences. Tymes launched her performance career in traditional musical theater. But with her small stature and more feminine traits, Tymes says that as she grew older, she increasingly struggled to find jobs within the confined gender-normative archetypes of mainstream theater. “Not getting booked because I was too short or not masculine enough … it f---ed with me,” she says. At last, Tymes was cast in the musical “La Cage Aux Folles” where she performed in drag, exposing her to a much more fluid and dynamic art form where she could sculpt a female character of her own rather than having to fit into an established male one. She was then cast in Finocchio’s, a world-famous female impersonation show in San Francisco where


ONCE UPON A DREAM Drag queen Saki Samora performs a song from “Maleficent” in “Sunday’s a Drag.” This show, which performs every Sunday, prides itself on being family friendly. “We take our costumes and performances seriously but it’s really designed to be entertainment,” emcee Donna Sachet says. “You should laugh, you should get emotional, you should think about things and you should leave with a smile on your face.”

she personified celebrities such as Liza Minelli and Reba McEntire. Now, Tymes performs in shows across the country — among them, “Sundays a Drag,” where she guest emcees alongside drag queen and fellow emcee Donna Sachet. Hosted at the world-famous Starlight Room, the show has been running for 13 years, a mere blink in the vast history of drag in the Bay Area. Its uniqueness lies in its accessibility — as one of the only drag shows in San Francisco open to audiences under 21, it prides itself in bringing drag to all ages. “Sunday’s a Drag” strives to reach aspiring queens like Scherer, who looks up to successful queens similar to Tymes and Sachet. “The audience is probably half in-town, half traveling people, half straight, half gay, half women,

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half men, half young, half old,” Sachet says. This diversity and mainstream quality of drag characteristic of San Francisco was largely a novelty to Sachet, who hails from South Carolina. Growing up, she idolized classic black-and-white movie stars such as Elizabeth Taylor and Marilyn Monroe. Gradually, she made her pilgrimage to San Francisco, shedding her traditionally masculine layers in favor of feather boas and ornate dresses. In contrast to Scherer, Sachet sees her drag as an extension of her male persona rather than a disembodied character — so much so that in many cases, she prefers not to use her given name, known in the drag community as a "boy name," and dresses in drag for outside events. “A lot of people put drag on, I let drag out,” Sachet says. “I always had certain feminine traits, more delicate and theatrical. And when I found I could express that fully as a drag queen, it was like I struck gold.” However, Sachet, who lived in the Deep South for much of her life, has not always been able to freely express this side of herself. She recalls a particularly vivid moment when she dressed in drag

features for a pride parade in Mobile, Alabama. Protesters surrounded, yelling demeaning slurs. Suddenly, Sachet started singing the national anthem and the protesters, taken aback, lowered their bullhorns and put their hands over their hearts, united for a brief instant by their humanity. “For a moment, we were all Americans and we had more in common,” Sachet says. “We live in a bubble in San Francisco, but I’ve experienced my share of discrimination and hatred and ridicule. It’s still all around us.” Tymes echoes this sentiment, adding that she wishes hatred everywhere would fade and give way to the younger, more accepting generation for which San Francisco is already paving the path. “I hope that we stop stereotyping people into feminine or masculine,” Tymes says. “I hope that we stop labels. The older I’ve gotten, the more I’ve realized that it just doesn’t matter. Just let people live.”


including Scherer, who, despite not having a real-life drag community, has found one on the web. He has admittedly watched all 10 seasons of “Drag Race” (as well as all three seasons of “RuPaul’s Drag Race: All Stars”), and looks up to many of the queens for their makeup and performance styles. “It [“Drag Race”] is getting the drag community out there and boosting acceptance for those who identify differently,” he says. In fact, one of Scherer’s aspirations as a drag queen is to compete on the show. But regardless of whether he becomes the next "Rupaul’s All Star," he says, he’s found a long-term passion in drag and hopes to continue, whether it be experimenting with dramatic makeup, finding the perfect drag name, voguing and lip syncing or creating fierce outfits out of unconventional materials. “It’ll always be a part of my life no matter what I’m doing,” Scherer says. “When I’m in drag I feel great and I feel like I look great no matter what I’m wearing. It makes me feel alive.” v

Spilling the tea on TV Discrimination is ever-present in the drag community, and the media, although striving to improve inclusivity, is no different. The comment section of the YouTube trailer to “Super Drags” is surely one of the most intense places on the Internet. The series, which premiered on Netflix on Nov. 9, portrays men in drag as superheroes who protect the LGBTQ community from crime. The responses from viewers couldn’t be more varying — some excited, some harshly disapproving. And yet drag has been emerging in the mainstream media for a while, slowly gaining traction and capturing broader audiences with its eccentric, often humorous appeal. Perhaps most popular is “RuPaul’s Drag Race” — a reality TV show in which 13 queens compete for the title of America’s Next Drag Superstar. Senior Derek Zhou, an avid fan of “Drag Race” describes the show as “fun.” Nevertheless, he recognizes the issues of appropriation and commercialization the show has brought up. For instance, “Drag Race” has brought drag vernacular into pop culture slang; most use these expressions, which range from “spilling the tea” to “realness,” without knowing their origins in the underground Latinx and black drag ball scene of the early 20th century. “Drag culture has become sort of this thing of its own that tends to forget where it actually came from and people take credit for it who didn’t start it,” Zhou says. Tymes, having performed both in a time when drag was largely unknown and now, when drag is fairly normalized, concedes that there are downsides to "Drag Race," as it has stifled support for local drag performances. “The minute you are able to attach that drag race name to your persona, you’re booked across the country,” she says. “There are so many talented performers that deserve the same accolades, and I wish there was a way to get them that work without having to be on that show.” Still, the show has positively influenced many aspiring queens, TYME-LESS Drag queen Holotta Tymes wears a custom-made gown crafted by designer Ted Dawson. Tymes has been performing in drag for 28 years and has been a part of “Sunday’s a Drag” for 13 years. “That moment of letting it all go and entertaining and not dealing with real life, that makes a huge difference,” Tymes says.




Art by HANNAH LI and photos by LUCIA AMIEVA-WANG

LAZING ORANGE AND SKY BLUE paper decorations flood the quad as students laugh and mingle while winning sugar skulls and traditional sweet bread, or pan de muerto. This is LatinX Club’s celebration for Día de los Muertos — also known as Day of the Dead — a holiday of loved ones who have passed that originated in Mexico as a combination of Aztec and Spanish-Catholic traditions. LatinX Club, formerly known as Latinos Unidos, is a group that promotes understanding and celebration of Hispanic culture through campus events such as the painting of last year’s mural on the outside wall of the Student Center. Last year, the club encountered issues with the administration while planning their flagship Día de los Muertos event, but this year they persisted. As one of Paly’s most active cultural clubs, LatinX is always looking for new opportunities to inform students. Tradition in practice During Día de los Muertos, families set up ofrendas, or altars, where they leave offerings and gifts of food, drinks and other items to pay tribute to ancestors who have departed. The center of the altar is usually comprised of an array of family photographs of dead loved ones who are being honored. On Nov. 2, LatinX Club’s altar was on display in the Tower Building, adorned with flowers and candles to guide souls toward the altar. Freshman Maggie Guevara, who joined the club this year, says she is glad she has a place to learn about and appreciate her culture. “My parents are both Hispanic and they’re always trying to show us new things about how they grew up, so I wanted to learn through this club,” Guevara says. “Because I was born here in America, I don’t know many of their customs.” Altering the altar If you saw LatinX Club’s altar this year, you would have noticed that there weren’t the traditional photographs of family friends or relatives on display. Instead, only those of famous Latinx celebrities graced the memorial. According to President Jennyfer Avila-Zavala, last year the Wellness Center staff and administrators took issue with the club performing this practice at school. “Last year, the Wellness Center was talking about how that [putting up pictures of dead loved ones] would bring triggers to people at Paly,” Avila-Zavala says. “So we had a whole meeting with

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PICTURESQUE PAPEL PICADO LatinX Club Vice President and senior Masako Perez helps decorate the quad with eye-popping strings of paper ornaments during the club’s lunchtime Día de los Muertos event.



CONTROVERSIAL CELEBRATION President Avila-Zavala and Vice President Masako Perez take down the altar. “There are sometimes religious symbols, which wasn’t always the case because this was an Aztec tradition, but when the Spanish came they added Christian symbolism,” Avila-Zavala says.

all the club members and the Wellness Center in which they told us that we could not put memories of people that had passed away.” Avila-Zavala also says the Wellness Center said that other students could get upset that their loved ones weren’t up on the altar, thus making the event too exclusive. Despite the club’s protests, the Wellness Center decided that LatinX could only include pictures of famous people. LatinX Club members say that this misses the point of the holiday. “[Día de los Muertos] is about our loved ones, not about ‘celebs,’ like César Chávez or Selena [Quintanilla-Pérez], which is what we had to do,” Avila-Zavala says. Cultural exchange Since not all members have strong traditions for Día de los Muertos in their households, LatinX took a field trip to San Jose State University on Oct. 18 in order to get inspiration for their own altar from some campus displays and learn more about the cultural history of the centuries old celebration. “I think they got a lot of ideas and learned a little bit more because they knew what an altar was, but they didn’t know what they could incorporate,” says College and Career Center and club adviser Crystal Laguna. “So the altar that we have up now, some of the things [the club used], we actually got from those [San Jose State] altars to use as inspiration.” For example, the white tablecloth used in LatinX’s altar took direct inspiration from San Jose State’s counterpart.

“The club learned that the white tablecloth is very important because it symbolizes purity,” Avila-Zavala says. “There were also smaller skulls that [San Jose State altars] had that we got from San Jose because we didn’t really have one.” The club serves to educate the student body as much as it does its own members. Last year, the club members chose not to do a school-wide Cinco de Mayo event because they did not want to perpetuate the popular misconception that the holiday commemorates Mexican Independence Day — it actually celebrates a Mexican victory over the French army in 1862. Instead, they held a private club celebration. “As they’re learning a little bit about their own culture, they’re able to share it with their friends who may not be part of the club, and hopefully we’ll persuade them to be part of it,” Laguna says. According to club materials, Día de los Muertos is a time when the barriers between the spirit world and the living world break down, allowing the dead and the living to celebrate together with their family and their loved ones. Similarly, to Laguna, LatinX Club serves to break down barriers, those between cultures. There, students — no matter their background — can learn about and celebrate Latinx culture and traditions together. “I always make sure to tell students when they reach out to me they always say ‘Can I join even if I’m not Latino?’” Laguna says. “I say that it is for anybody and everybody who wants to help support us.” v



A Homemade Meal



ORI MERRITT DOES NOT have a cape, but she does have a kitchen, a cooler and a community. For Merritt, the warm meal is a staple of any home — a staple that many families going through challenges cannot afford. Through her cooking with the Meals on Wheels program, Merritt delivers both homely warmth and the support of a community. The Palo Alto High School Meals on Wheels program, coincidentally also the name of a national meal service program for senior citizens, helps support Paly families in need with hot meals or groceries delivered to their door. “This [meal support] is something that seems so small,” Merritt says. “We live in such a fast-paced community where people do big things. Talk to anybody and maybe they invented something or are the head of a big thing. This is something so simple

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that matters so immediately.” Potentially eligible families are often referred to the program by close friends. Following an email confirmation, Merritt will speak directly over the phone to fully understand the family’s unique situation — dietary preferences, duration of time of need — which is passed on to the volunteers working with the family. To ensure food stays warm in cases where it cannot be picked up, meals are dropped off to a red cooler cart parked at the family’s door. Meals delivered sometimes even come with flowers and get-well cards. “It makes the giver feel good and I hope it makes the receiver know that people care about them,” says volunteer Colleen Gormley. “That makes the world feel a little gentler, a little smaller, a little kinder.” Simply a caring community Feeling a connection is crucial for both sides. Merritt says that volunteers are much more passionate about the work they are doing if they know their actions make a meaningful difference to the family. This personal connection is what makes the pro-


gram closer to community support than a ple cared.” professional service. The impact of the program continues “‘Client’ implies a business relation- even after the family comes off the proship,” says Karen, an anonymous beneficia- gram’s list and the red cart is rolled off the ry of the program. “You’re going through porch. a very hard time and you’re feeling overMany beneficiaries come back to help whelmed and even alone. Just when you because they know how much the program feel the most visible and means. Paly Enthe most alone, there’s a glish teacher KinThat [making meals] helping hand and a surdell Launer saw makes the world a little the impact that prising kindness.” The program supprogram had gentler, a little smaller, the ports families with an in the situation of individual fighting an a little kinder.” a relative and de— COLLEEN GORMLEY, volunteer illness as well. For these cided to volunteer individuals, knowing herself. that their family is being taken care of when “When he [the relative] was using they are unable to fulfill their normal duties Meals On Wheels, I just saw more livelimatters more than anything else. By remov- ness,” Launer says. “It could have been the ing even something as simple as preparing calories, but I think it was also from the food from the list of things family members social interaction, too. Preparing a special already need to worry about, Merritt hopes meal for a family and dropping it off and the individual can be supported too. knowing that you were able to at least do “It’s a support system that my daugh- one thing in what feels like a very powerless ter didn’t realize we had until Meals on situation … giving back is actually activeWheels,” Karen says. “So many meals just ly empowering the person who is giving came from so many different people and it back.” made a difference to her to know that peoGormley says she hopes that the pro-


gram can not only make a difference to the family it helps, but also slowly change Bay Area culture for the better. According to Gormley, helping when others are at their most human is one of the most important parts of being human. “Volunteerism and giving up yourself, is an important part of being a member of a community,” Gormley says. “It fills a culture of generosity, which is something that I think it’s really special about Palo Alto.” Merritt remembers the emails from a cancer patient reminding her that “what you do matters. This just helps so much.” “The response I usually get from people is, ‘Oh my gosh, this has just been a godsend,” Merritt says. “If there’s anything I want people to know, it’s that if anyone is interested in signing up as as volunteer, we would love to have you. If anyone needs the service, just reach out.” v If you or anyone you know in the Palo Alto High School community might benefit from meal support, please reach out to Meals on Wheels at




TANDING IN THE MIDDLE of her garage-turned-workspace overflowing with boxes, artwork and recent inventions, Palo Alto Senior High School freshman Katherine Thomsen balances her handmade electric skateboard against her knee as she points out the metal box containing the complex engine she built herself. Her helmet, its color barely discernible under a mountain of stickers, lies nearby, always within arm’s reach. Although many teenagers would love the idea of having their own electric skateboard to ride to school, not many would be up for the enormous task of assembling one from scratch. That is, except for teens like Thomsen.


dresser. Among the books, jars of snapple bottle caps, lock-picking materials, mini condiment packages and spray paint art filling her shelves, the most important aspect of Thomsen’s life lies in a simple green folder overflowing with sketches and detailed diagrams of mechanical inventions she came up with over the years, such as her electric skateboard.

nity, determined to create one of her own. “I knew nothing about it … electrical stuff and coding,” she says. “So I did a lot of research. I watched videos [and] I read.” After hours of in-depth research, many trips to the hardware store, which Thomsen says is one of her favorite places to be, and a couple of mishaps along the way, Thomsen finally completed her strenuous project.

An inventor on wheels Ever since she was little, Thomsen says she has been fascinated by the way things work and the intricacies of machines, which fueled the desire to invent things of her own. “My parents didn’t let me, [but] I wanted to take our microwave apart,” she One of a kind says. Thomsen is not your typical teen. She A couple of designs that have come to is an inventor, artist, surfer, traveler, soc- life are her syringe mechanism operating cer player, unicycler, skateboarder, snapple her closet lights and her electric longboard bottle cap collector, lock-picker and more. that she built last summer, one of her more Her interests constantly time-consuming inchanging, Thomsen can My parents didn’t let ventions. not be constrained to a Thomsen has single hobby and is al- me, [but] I wanted to always been most atways curious to explore take our microwave tracted to all things and try more. wheeled, her electric The remains of her apart.” longboard an addition — KAT THOMSEN, freshman past experiences can be to her fixie bicycle, seen scattered across unicycle, worn out her room. A syringe mechanism hangs by from years of riding it to school and across her closet door, which turns the light on the Golden Gate Bridge and a variety of whenever the door opens, and posters from skateboards. Spain are tacked over her bed. “I pretty much just like anything that However, it is the most intriguing has wheels that I can ride around,” she says. piece of furniture in her room that holds Thomsen was inspired to build her all of Thomsen’s past and current hobbies, electric longboard after learning of their inner thoughts, experiences and creations: high price, diving headfirst into the expanhandmade shelves, which were once an old sive online electric skateboarding commu-

The future is Kat With her first year of high school in full throttle, Thomsen’s schedule has transformed from weekly Tuesday after-school surfing in Santa Cruz to soccer and schoolwork almost every day of the week, allowing her much less time to dabble in her creative interests. Yet she is not ready to give up on her interests and still tries to find time to surf and brainstorm on the weekends. Despite Thomsen’s fascination with mechanics, she says she has had trouble relaying her passion to her friends, who don’t share her interest in building. She explains her love of going to her local hardware store, but says her friends weren’t as excited by the outing. “They didn’t love it as much so I couldn’t stay for that long,” Thomsen says, describing one visit to the hardware store with her friends. “They wanted ice cream.” As of now, Thomsen says she is unsure of her future plans. Despite encouragement to become an engineer due to her appreciation of math, she says she doesn’t want a static job. “I mean, I’m sure there are some … engineers that do that but when I think of engineer, it is straightforward,” Thomsen says. “I want something more free, a little more creative.” v

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NAILED TO THE PASSION Thomsen shows off her construction tools. Her favorite place to shop is the local hardware store. “It’s so fun. I love going the hardware store. I could spend an entire day in there because you do like go through the aisles and they find something that you never knew even existed,” Thomsen says. Photos by Lucia Amieva-Wang





’LL NEVER FORGET when I was back in the dressing room and I saw my name right next to Kobe Bryant’s name in the dressing rooms,” Max Bonnstetter says. “And they were like the same size rooms. For a second there, I was right next to Kobe Bryant, and I’m like wow, I can’t wait to meet Kobe Bryant. I turn around, someone taps me on the shoulder and Kobe goes ‘Hey what’s up dude,’ and I had to like start blinking, making sure I was seeing things right.” A few minutes later, Palo Alto High School freshman Max Bonnstetter takes a deep breath and steps out past the blue curtains and onto the Tonight Show’s stage, where Jimmy Fallon and Bryant are waiting to shake his hand. He takes his seat on the blue couch next to Bryant, one of his lifelong idols. While around Paly, Bonnstetter is usually recognized as a sports reporter on InFocus. What most people do not know is that he is a successful reporter for Sports Illustrated and the Junior NBA, who even appeared on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. For a long time, Bonnstetter was just a kid in New Jersey with a passion for sports and a hobby of reporting, until one day, when he was 11 years old, he happened to stumble across an extraordinary opportunity advertised in Sports Illustrated Kids: a contest to become a Sports Illustrated Kids reporter. “I was like wow, that seems really cool. Maybe I could do that,” Bonnstetter says. Inspired, Bonnstetter began looking for a memorable story and found one in a local high school basketball coach named Bob Hurley. At the time, Hurley had been coaching a team in an under-resourced neighborhood in Jersey City for 49 years. “He was not only pushing them to be the best basketball players they could be, but also … as good students,”

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Bonnstetter says. “He actually had a study hall for them before basketball practice just so they could get their grades up and work on their homework.” With a story and a vision, Bonnstetter got to work. He interviewed the team and Hurley, attended games and wrote his story on Hurley’s life-changing impact on the players. After submitting, he sat back and waited for a response, which he was told would come in October. October came and went without a response and November passed in the same way. By mid-December, Bonnstetter was convinced he had not won the competition. Then, one day in February, he received an email. Bonnstetter was officially a Junior Reporter. Launching a career His reporting career began with college basketball. Bonnstetter would attend games and then interview coaches and players afterward in press conferences or locker rooms. Traveling from city to city, game to game, especially during March Madness, when the games are the most important and publicized, Bonnstetter soon garnered a reputation of asking unique, thoughtful questions. His big break came during March Madness in 2017, after the underdogs South Carolina University beat Baylor University to move on to the Elite Eight. In an after-game press conference with South Carolina head coach Frank Martin, Bonnstetter asked: “when you coach or teach your team defense, what’s more important, technique or attitude?” Bonnstetter had researched South Carolina and had noticed a trend of opposing teams consistently scoring fewer points against them than the team’s normal average, and he discovered that it was their defense that had carried them so far in the tournament. Martin was impressed and Bonnstetter recalls him saying “that’s a heck of a question.” At a later press conference, Martin even asked where Bonnstetter was in an attempt to get better questions. The video quickly went viral, amassing over a million views on Facebook, and



MEMORIES OF MARCH (LEFT) Max Bonnstetter holds up a ball signed by the Duke basketball team. BONNSTETTER BALLING (ABOVE TOP LEFT) Bonnstetter shoots some hoops outside. BONNSTETTER IN ACTION (ABOVE BOTTOM LEFT) Bonnstetter interviews Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell. Photo by Katherine Johnson PROUD MEMORIES (ABOVE RIGHT) Bonnstetter holds up a signed photo of him and Villanova Basketball head coach Jay Wright. “When I cover events for Sports Illustrated, ... I’ll end up writing an article on the interviews,” Bonnstetter says. “I think writing is really important, and I’m lucky to be doing that for Sports Illustrated.”

Bonnstetter’s career took off. Soon, Bonnstetter was on Sports “He’s a lot better at noticing golf players than I am because he’s Center and various other radio shows. After only one year as a a huge golf fan,” Bonnstetter says. “So my grandpa would point out reporter, he received a call from The Tonight Show’s producers in- the players and I would turn around, run over, get a quick interviting him onto the show. view. I love covering golf with my grandpa.” “I think the best thing that I’ve ever done “My grandpa ... taught me to play basThe best thing that has to be being on The Tonight Show with Jimketball, taught me to be a good person, taught my Fallon and Kobe Bryant,” Bonnstetter says. I’ve ever done has me to play golf, almost everything that I love “I don’t know how I wasn’t nervous but I think right now is because of him.” Bonnstetter to be being on The I was just prepared so it was the most fun and says. incredible thing.” Recently, Bonnstetter has been covering Tonight Show.” On The Tonight Show, he interviewed the Warriors in the NBA preseason and reg— MAX BONNSTETTER, freshman Kobe Bryant with Jimmy Fallon, asking Bryant ular season as a member of the Junior NBA. questions like “what was it like having such a giant paycheck at Before games and during half-time, he hypes up the crowd on such a young age?” and “who’s the next Kobe Bryant” It was after the jumbotron. He plans to once again cover March Madness for this that Bonstetter became verified on Twitter and Instagram. Sports Illustrated in 2019. In the meantime, Bonnstetter is one of InFocus’ newest sports Bonnstetter today reporters. Although Bonnstetter reports mostly on basketball, he has also “InFocus is definitely good practice for me, especially if I’m reported on other sports such as football, baseball and golf. taking a little break to focus on high school, but I’m going to be “Without a doubt, basketball is my favorite sport,” Bonnstet- picking up things soon and InFocus has been great for me.” ter says. “I love playing it, reporting on it — everything about it, Whether for InFocus or Sports Illustrated, Bonnstetter hopes I just love.” to continue his reporting career. He also plays golf and reports on golf tournaments with his “Covering all sports is so much fun,” Bonnstetter says, “so if I grandfather, who lives in New Jersey. am able to do that when I’m older that’d be amazing.” v




he seats around the table fill slowly. As each position is taken, another piece of the larger picture comes into focus. These 20 or so individuals are here for only a couple of hours — scarcely enough time to step back and reflect on their first year’s worth of work and recalibrate for the even busier year that lies ahead. Each of the task force’s meetings serves a crucial purpose: ensuring progress towards their goal of creating a Responsive Inclusive Safe Environment. According to the Palo Alto Unified School District website, RISE is given the responsibility to cover compliance with various regulations, including Office of Civil Rights resolutions, Title IX and state laws. They strive to educate the community about rights and responsibilities while ultimately aiming to be trailblazers, moving beyond compliance and safety and towards organic student empowerment. “Our real goal [with respect to sexual assault] as an educational institution is prevention and for us all to know how to behave ethically in our relationships,” parent-volunteer Michelle Higgins says. “It’s not just to catch kids out when they’re doing the wrong thing. It’s actually to prevent these things from happening in the first place and to create a different culture in our schools.” Driven by the district’s issues with Title IX compliance over the years, the RISE Task Force was created as a unified channel for the various parties trying to engender a change towards a complete intolerance of sexual assault our community. “[PAUSD has] gone from being in the

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headlines for the wrong reasons, but maybe we can actually be that school district that does this really well and … can teach other school districts about how to go about this prevention work,” Higgins says. The task force’s strategy primarily involves raising general awareness at the high school level. Following the incident that occurred at Palo Alto High School last year, tension rose between the school and the community.

Often times people are fearful without fully understanding how critical education is.” — LAURA PRENTISS, parent volunteer

“Anytime there’s fear [as with the assaults], there’s going to be confusion [about how to deal with the situation] and [the school ends up] feeling threatened,” parent representative John Fitton says. Both students and parents were worried about the safety of the students on Paly’s campus, so the district had to address the issue immediately. RISE came together in a pinch, and started working immediately. Sexual assault advocate Brenda Tracy spoke with the Paly Football team, and they made a pledge to “Set The Expectation” and stand up for victims of sexual assault. Paly also hosted several grade-wide speaker assemblies on consent, including those of Jackson Katz and Anea Bogue. While Deputy Supt. Karen Hendricks says these are steps in the right direction, she also acknowledges that there is certainly room for improvement. “It’s not the best to have big groups of students together. The groups were too big, the venue wasn’t quite right and some students were a little perturbed with each other for not paying attention, that kind of thing,” Hendricks says. “We will definitely continue to work with Anea to figure out how we’re going to move this from big-group awareness to smaller group, more sustained efforts.” RISE is also working toward more personal discussions by developing a classroom discussion curriculum regarding sexual assault for teachers to follow, making it completely mandatory for students to learn this information before they graduate high school. By imple-


menting these lessons in Living Skills or Health classes, students can engage in meaningful conversations with other students, staff and their family members. Concentrating on sexual harassment education at the high school level, however, doesn’t address incidents occurring in lower grades. With Bogue’s help, the task force aims to develop a program which breaks down the different parts of sexual education into a systematic progression of grade-appropriate lessons starting in kindergarten. Director of Student Services Miriam Stevenson is pushing for a program that builds on language — by educating children about the vocabulary, the task force aims to endow students with the tools to define and articulate personal boundaries from an early age. With a more concrete foundation for students to build off of, the district can foster more conversations in middle schools and the high school curriculum can focus on teenage and adult relationship boundaries and consent.

Our real goal [with respect to sexual assault] as an educational institute is prevention.” — MICHELLE HIGGINS, parent volunteer

“There’s a lot of conversations in elementary [schools] ... about … those foundational [elements of ] ‘I know myself,’ ‘I know what I like’, ‘I know what I don’t like,’” Stevenson says. In addition to starting comprehensive sexual education early on, RISE also wants to ensure that the learning spans beyond classroom work and into the home setting. Through encouraging conversations around sexual assault between students and parents, RISE hopes to dispel the taboo surrounding Title IX issues. Developing a curriculum that resonates well with the community is another important factor RISE has to take into account. For example, some parents have expressed concerns regarding exposing young children to topics they deem too mature for younger minds. According to Higgins, it’s not enough for Title IX education to happen inside schools, and RISE also tries their best to also educate parents.


“[The difficulty is] making sure that people in the community understand the facts … because what we’ve seen … is that often times people are fearful of [these curriculums] without fully understanding how critical education is,” parent volunteer Laura Prentiss says. The parent representatives say they are doing what they can to convince the parents in the community of the importance of starting at a young age. “We’ve tried to provide ongoing communication ... about the task force meetings,” Hendricks said. “[We] set up a special mailbox for people to send in feedback or questions or concerns, had a lot of communication with people in person at the school sites, visited student groups at the school sites in multiple times last year.” But while the rest of RISE is continuously accepting feedback, it lacks student representation, as the student representative from last year graduated. According to Hendricks, they’ve come a long way since their start in October of last year. “Right now, we’re at the point where we’re almost in full compliance[with Title IX],” Title IX coordinator Megan Farrell says. Yet RISE knows that their job will never fully be complete, not until there is a fundamental change in the community, one that will shape a new generation of empowered, self-aware students. v

If you have any comments, concerns, questions about RISE or want to be involved, please do not hesitate to contact or check out RISE’s website at





LIGHTLY OUT OF BREATH from running the last stretch to the bus station, Palo Alto High School seniors Brianna Moreno-Alcocer and Allison Salinas step onto SamTrans Bus 21, each swiping a reflective green card across the sensor in one smooth, practiced motion. Moreno-Alcocer slides into the row of seats first, placing her backpack on her lap as Salinas settles into the seat beside her. A faint smell of diesel clings to the well-worn and patterned seat covers and the low hum of the bus engine thrums in the background as the vehicle pulls out of the station and onto University Avenue. With her head resting comfortably on Moreno-Alcocer’s shoulder, Salinas interlocks their arms. They have been best friends since freshman year. “I don’t even know how we became friends,” Salinas says. “I just needed someone to show me where the bus was.”

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Both Moreno-Alcocer and Salinas receive a monthly bus pass from Palo Alto Unified School District’s Tinsley Voluntary Transportation Program. The VTP program, created in 1986, gives students of color from different districts the opportunity to attend school in PAUSD. Moreno-Alcocer and Allison Salinas take the SamTrans bus home to Menlo Park and East Palo Alto, respectively. Their bus ride home can take anywhere from 15 minutes to three hours. Though they have experienced harassment, unwanted comments and more, the bus ride to Paly is an opportunity for them to attend a safer high school with more resources, according to Moreno-Alcocer. Though most students hardly think about their short journey home from school, Moreno-Alcocer’s and Salinas’ afternoons are consumed by their daily bus ride home. In this issue, Verde documents this uncommon, yet routine, journey home in a series of candid photographs. v




FIRST STOP, BUS STOP (LEFT) The moment after the bell rings at 3:35 p.m., Salinas (left) and Moreno-Alcocer (right) begin the 15-minute walk to the Palo Alto bus station. Their pace is quick as they step past Trader Joe’s and through the alley separating the train tracks and Town and Country; they have to catch the early bus if they want to get home before 6 p.m. On some days, they miss the bus and have to wait 30 minutes or more for the next to come, while the afternoon traffic gets steadily worse. “It was because you were wearing chanclas [sandals] — I wasn’t running fast. You were just running hella slow,” Salinas says jokingly to Moreno-Alcocer.


ON MY WAY HOME (BOTTOM) Salinas and Moreno-Alcocer take their seats in the middle of the bus, leaning into each other as cold air blows through the vents. Stopped in standstill traffic on University Avenue, Moreno-Alcocer talks about her AP Seminar research project. She is looking into the economic and racial disparity between individuals living in East Palo Alto and in Palo Alto. Salinas responds, “It’s like a different world.” While they sometimes try to do their homework on the bus, they do not have Wi-Fi access and the bus is usually too loud for them to concentrate. “Every time they push back the schedule or try to make us stay for Advisory or Tutorial, it’s something that affects me,” Moreno-Alcocer says. “Because then I get home super late … I’m tired and then I have to wake up super early to do my homework.”



5:24 SETTING ON THE BUS (TOP) By 5:00 p.m., the sun is casting its last orange rays and the fluorescent lights on the bus have turned on, illuminating the few passengers left. Keeping to themselves with their backpacks piled on their laps, Moreno-Alcocer and Salinas tell us about the odd and sometimes frightening experiences they have had on public transport. Moreno-Alcocer recalls the time a man, who had been eyeing them, began masturbating in the seat beside them. “We reported it, but no one ever did anything,” Moreno-Alcocer says. “No one really cares.” If a situation escalates, Salinas and Moreno-Alcocer usually get off the bus onto the highway and walk the rest of the way home, which may take more than an hour. They have learned to be conscious of what they wear to escape unwanted attention from strangers. “Obviously I’ve had encounters with good people,” Moreno-Alcocer says. “We say hi, or they think I’m pretty, we talk, we laugh and then they leave, which is cool because sometimes they don’t leave which is kind of scary.” LAST STOP (BOTTOM) With two stops left, Moreno-Alcocer begins gathering her things and scans the seats one last time. Salinas had gotten off two stops earlier, collecting her right Airpod from Moreno-Alcocer that they had used to share music during the ride. Though Moreno-Alcocer does not know the bus driver by name, since they are always changing, she thanks him and says goodnight as she gets off the bus. “I fell asleep on the bus and he [the bus driver] just stopped at my bus stop because he knew that was my stop,” Moreno-Alcocer says. “He let me off which was really cool because then I would have had to ... walk back.”

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S FRESHMAN ANTON TOMPERT leans toward the computer screen displaying his most recent song, a bassheavy beat repeats on loop and a set of black speakers fills the cozy basement. Tompert plays a compilation of notes on his keyboard, creating a melody that meshes with the rhythm created by the bass. The young artist delves into his creative process and slowly watches his ideas come to life on the screen before him. Tompert’s passion for music takes many forms, from playing the trumpet in fifth grade to the keyboard at age 12 and eventually to mastering a music-making program called Logic over time. Since the beginning of his musical career in elementary school, Tompert had a few times that stand out as especially inspired, and recounts one of his most prolific sessions with a smile. “I had a three hour train ride ... the entire time I was making music,” Tompert says. “I made six songs that I’m super proud of. Somehow I knew exactly what I wanted to do and got it perfect.” For Tompert, music acts as both an outlet and a medium to connect with others. “Whatever mood I’m in, it very heavily influences what type

of music I’m making,” Tompert says. “I’ll have a particular artist that I’m listening to [and] it will impact the music I’m making.” After his older brother Adrien encouraged him to publish his music on the Internet, Tompert turned to Soundcloud and YouTube (@anton.tompert); he has amassed thousands of plays and has begun to cultivate a following of digital fans. Tompert hopes to make a positive impact on the lives of his listeners through his songs. “Do what you like doing,” Tompert says. “Be yourself, but you should also be careful about who you’re effecting by doing it [producing music].” While making music began as a hobby of Tompert’s, he hopes that one day his passion will lead to a career that involves producing music. Until then, he will continue to create and share his work. It is music’s ability to bring people together that fuels Tompert’s aspirations to one day perform in front of a large audience. “You don’t really go to parties [with] people [just] sitting there, there’s always music playing,” Tompert says. “I think it’s the music [that’s] getting people together, making the time better. I really want to be part of that.” v

KEYBOARD RHYTHM (ABOVE) Anton Tompert tinkers with the piano in his newest song. Each track he makes is different than the last, thanks to experimenting with different genres. Through this Tompert has discovered new techniques. “I would normally never click on this ... you find all these different instruments that you’d never think of.” LASER FOCUS (LEFT) Pausing to think, Tompert re-evaluates the song he is working on with Logic, the music creating software he uses frequently, especially when he’s had a burst of creative energy. “There are some times when I have a huge wave of inspiration, it’s very rare.”


46 NOVEMBER 2018

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Not Just Horsin’ Around

LEAPING TO SUCCESS Sophomore Rohin Ghosh directs his horse Bobby over a difficult jump in the arena at Webb Ranch in Portola Valley. “I just really enjoy jumping courses. They’re quite challenging, but they’re really fun.”

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OPHOMORE ROHIN GHOSH steadies himself as “Being able to have such an intimate connection with an he completes the final warmup loop before going on animal is something that I enjoy about the sport,” Ghosh says. to the jumping course comprised of seven colorfully striped oxers –– horse jumping obstacles with horizonHorses: a man’s best friend tal poles of varying heights. Plumes of dust kick up around his According to Ghosh, riding with different horses is a horse Bobby’s onyx hooves as the enormous animal canters tounique experience and every pair has a varied dynamic. ward the hurdle, powerful yet graceful. Unfortunately, after riding with the horse he leased for the Suddenly, responding to Ghosh’s carefully timed tug on the majority of the summer, the horse sustained an injury –– a torn reins, Bobby leaps over the obstacle with ease and recovers with tendon in the knee –– and was put on bedrest for the rest of two strides before bounding over an even taller jump. the season. With a grin on his face, Ghosh slows Bobby to a walk, both After the injury, Ghosh was partnered with another horse horse and rider cooling down after a successful ride. to compete with in the annual stable competition. Anyone who has witnessed an equestrian practice or com“It was kind of hard because I practiced a lot with that petition can attest to the skill, dedication and intense training horse,” Ghosh explained. “Every horse has their own different that the sport requires. quirks and things that go on.” Ghosh is a minority in the arena: the only male in his ridAlthough Ghosh works with many different horses, he deing group. All of other riders in Ghosh’s lesson as well as the scribes the intimate relationship between a horse and its rider coaches are female, making Ghosh a rarity in amateur horseas constant. back riding. “If you are spending a lot of time with that horse, it’s a “I think the disciplines that I ride in –– more amateur and really close working relationship,” mid level –– are definitely a lot more feGhosh says. male dominated,” Ghosh says. It’s something that helps me Though from the rider’s position, the dynamic between a horse relax and something that I Saddle up and his rider is equal and full of reAfter just two horseback riding les- really enjoy doing.” spect, Ghosh says that horses view — ROHIN GHOSH, sophomore sons in second grade, Ghosh was hooked. the interaction differently. Short lessons led to summer camps that “From the horse’s perspective, furthered his interest, which in turn led to regular lessons by most of the time they see people as a leader –– as more of a fourth grade. dominant-but-protective figure inside the herd,” Ghosh says. Like most novice riders, Ghosh started out riding in the This creates a very particular bond between horse and rider. Western tradition, an American style of riding associated with “Balancing the dynamic of the rider being the leader and cattle work, and then transitioned to the more formal English setting strong boundaries and rules with being able to spend style of jumping. quality time with the horse is interesting,” Ghosh says. Ghosh has continued with one to two lessons per week at Webb Ranch, a family-run farm in Portola Valley established in Galloping into the future 1922. To supplement these lessons, Ghosh participates in comThough Ghosh loves spending quality time with the anipetitions at Webb Ranch every summer. mals, he does not see himself working with horses professionally after graduating. Nonetheless, he hopes to continue riding as a The life of an equestrian hobby for life. While jumping events may be the most interesting for “I think horseback riding is a great sport,” Ghosh says. “It spectators, there are myriad other competitive events for riders has a really long tradition in a lot of cultures. It’s a really endurin two categories: flat events and jumping events. ing sport.” Flat events are judged for form going into a jump rather Even though he loves the sport, Ghosh admits that horsethan the jump itself. These events are more stylistic in compari- back riding is not for everybody. son to the jumping events. “It definitely has its constraints: It’s time consuming [and] The jumping events, which are typically more difficult it’s expensive, but personally I find it’s a good sport for people than flat events, are more athletically focused and require great who don’t like the physical, aggressive sports,” Ghosh explains. coordination. In Ghosh’s opinion, horseback riding is an escape from the Ghosh competes in flat courses and some lower-level hassles of everyday life. jumping courses, but his favorite part of competing is spending “For me it’s something that helps me relax and something time with his horse. that I really enjoy doing.” v






UST FOUR YEARS AGO, senior Jeanpaul Ditto began as a novice diver and within two years of low-intensity training, he was competing at Junior Nationals, now nationally ranked 20th for dives off the one meter. Although Ditto is considered relatively new to the sport of diving, his background in gymnastics, mainly tumbling, led him to try out for his high school diving team as a freshman in Carmel. A natural, he was able to pick up complex dives from the moment he put on his Speedo. “I just honestly like flipping and the feeling of having that pit in my stomach where I’m scared and then after coming up from the water saying I conquered that fear,” Ditto says. His passion for diving has taken Ditto as far as Atlanta for a major competition, where he competed 11 dives: six basic and five optional, harder ones. “I went from being a high school diver ... and within one year of diving with a club team at the beginning of my junior year, I was able to make it to semifinals at Junior Nationals,” Ditto says. “That is the best thing I’ve ever done.” The journey to Ditto’s success has been challenging, however. According to Ditto, it was accompanied by obstacles prevalent

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in both practices and meets. “During warmups for zones last year, I hit the board with my feet and had to warm up with hurt feet,” Ditto says. “And then this year I failed a dive at junior nationals off the three meter board and basically flopped into the pool.” To avoid injuries like these, Ditto practices upwards of 12 hours per week to polish his entry into the water and general diving technique. In maintaining this rigorous training schedule, Ditto moved to Palo Alto for its proximity to Stanford Diving Club. Not only has it given him the tools to conquer complex tricks, Ditto says the club has even provided him with an upbeat environment and a valuable community. “The local group of divers we have at Stanford Diving Club is very close knit,” Ditto says. “Many of us go to the same schools and are friends both inside and outside of the pool.” These bonds even extend to Ditto’s coach, Ryan Wallace, who has been working with Ditto for his last two years. “I remember an interviewer asking [Golden State Warriors coach] Steve Kerr one year the question ‘What is it like coaching Stephen Curry?’” Wallace says. “He said ‘[it is] electric and unbelievable what he does and is capable of still doing,’ and I feel

the same way about [Ditto].” With Wallace’s help, Ditto says he consistently improves with each new practice, whether he is training in a harness on dry land or falling off the 10 meter platform. Even though Ditto had a late start in the sport, diving has still provided him with a multitude of future opportunities which include the opportunity to dive for Yale, which has a Division I diving team. While college might seem like the end goal for some, Ditto says he looks forward to pushing himself to new limits. “I’m certainly looking to compete at the NCAA Championships ... and hoping to place first at the Ivy League Championships within my four years at Yale,” Ditto says. “[Flipping] is what motivates me to keep going: they really look cool and spinning fast is what I love to do.” v LOOKING TO THE FUTURE (ABOVE) Ditto represents Yale University as he becomes excited for his next four years in college. “I can’t wait to dive within the Ivy League because competing with them [friends at other Ivy Leagues] at dual meets ... is going to be a blast,” Ditto says. Photos by Lucia Amieva-Wang. REACHING NEW HEIGHTS (RIGHT) Ditto trains at the Avery Aquatic Center where he is pictured diving off the one meter board. “I just honestly like flipping and the feeling of having that pit in my stomach,” he says.



Photos by ABBY CUMMINGS and photo illustration by BEN COHEN


TOP Teaquation & Tonic employee Daisy serves an assortment of beverages available at the restaurant. BOTTOM LEFT The Ubé-by Crepe is served with purple yam puree, whipped cream and chocolate sauce. BOTTOM CENTER The Chicken and Waffles features crispy chicken and a fried egg atop a Belgian waffle. BOTTOM RIGHT The Mini Bruschetta Trio, served throughout the day at Teaquation & Tonic, brought a fusion of flavors.

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T’S HARD TO MISS the personal touches sprinkled throughout Teaquation & Tonic — the bright blue accents framing the ceiling, the rustic wooden tables adorned with mini pumpkins, and a homely scarecrow nestled against a wall. Located on 115 Hamilton Ave., the eatery features a lively combination of bold Latin music, eccentric beverages, and meticulously decorated desserts. Teaquation & Tonic, a restaurant and tea bar that has recently relocated from Redwood City to Palo Alto, was created to promote healthy, delicious foods and drinks. It is the brainchild of co-owner and former tech designer Mercedes Mapua, who decided to leave the industry two years ago to pursue the life of a restaraunteur alongside her husband. When she turned 30, Mapua realized that, in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle, she needed to pay more attention to what she ate. Looking for an air of sophistication and all-natural options, Mapua helped design the menu to reflect her own favorite American meals. “We always try to sell something that’s a different take on an old product, which is … what we’re doing with tea as well,” Mapua says. It was this mindset that eventually gave rise to Teaquation & Tonic, whose menu includes a multitude of unconventional foods, such as fried chicken on waffles and pork belly atop baguettes. Teaquation & Tonic’s true specialty is in the Tea Flight, a customer-selected assortment of four teas featuring fruity and tart notes. The teas served are made with all-natural ingredients that reflect Mapua’s commitment to a distinctive experience. Although Mapua has put ample thought into the menu and design of the restaurant, she realizes that every new beginning — including opening businesses — brings its own challenges. “The investment that you put in time and money wise — it’s always more than what you think,” Mapua says. “You have to be really passionate about something before you start it, and be prepared to fail and stand up after that.” Here are some of the highlights of our recent visit to Teaquation & Tonic. v Funky food favorites Ubé-by crepe ($7): An airy, thin crepe topped with whipped cream, a drizzle of chocolate sauce and ube — mashed dessert yam — came together to create a wonderfully sweet sensation. While this dish is sure to satisfy any sweet tooth, it was, at times, overwhelmingly sugary. Chicken & waffles ($12): Fluffy and light, this plate manages to balance the sweet notes of maple syrup and strawberries with the savory flavors of the chives, egg and a crunchy buttermilk-fried chicken piece. Mini bruschetta trio ($14): Served with six slices of bread, it featured three different assortments of meat and vegetable. The zesty salmon bruschetta was moist on the tongue; the pork belly bruschetta surprisingly spicy, as the drizzled sriracha sauce added intensity; and the mackerel and avocado combination brought both tangy and refreshing elements to the palate. BRILLIANTLY COLORED BEVERAGES Tea Flight ($16.35): We chose four specialized drinks to complete our tea flight: The Joker, Gold Digger, Pink Cadillac and Star Anise. The mixed drinks brought unexpected and fruity flavors that blended the sweet and tangy elements, but they were oversaturated with sugar.



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T FIRST GLANCE, the new exhibit at the Cantor As a closeted gay man throughout much of his life, Warhol Arts Center is anything but Andy Warhol. Bare of the focused mainly on creating advertisements and less controversial renowned pop artist’s classics like “Campbell’s Soup forms of art, such as paid portraits of celebrities, when his career Cans,” the Cantor Arts Center’s ongoing exhibit “Con- first began in the 1950s. tact Warhol: Photography Without End” presents the vivid, intiYet, as American culture became more accepting of the gay mate and sometimes sloppy behind-the-scenes moments of War- community in the 70s and 80s, so did Warhol’s comfort surroundhol’s creative process. ing his identity. The exhibit focuses on Warhol’s final years, feaThe countless photographs on display in the Cantor are only turing images of gay celebrities, drag queens and even some shots a small selection of the impressive of himself in drag. However, his in130,000 photographic exposures volvement with the gay community Everything is there and noth- dwindled after the AIDS epidemic of gifted to the Cantor in 2014 by the Andy Warhol Foundation. decade, halting his association, ing is there, which I think is to- the Unlike other exhibits featurand thus photographic content, with tally consistent with Warhol” gay celebrity figures. ing Warhol’s art, such as those in — LEXI BARD JOHNSON, Stanford University student the Museum of Modern Art in San These polaroids allow the viewFrancisco or the Getty Center in Los er to understand Warhol’s deviance Angeles, this exhibit reveals a new side of Warhol with work never from cultural norms, not only due to his portrayal of homosexualmeant to be seen by the public eye, let alone as art. ity but also through his expression of gender and his documentation of these private aspects of his life. The artificial fascination “None of these can be separated from one another and that Although Warhol is best known for his brightly illustrated and to me is what makes them queer,” says Richard Meyer, one of two sometimes controversial pieces, known as “pop art,” much of his curators of the exhibition and a professor at Stanford University. inspiration originated with photography. Warhol documented all aspects of his life, including parties with celebrities. Figment Because the photos in this exhibition were never meant to be Although Warhol only wanted his tombstone to say “figpublished, viewers can glean a more complete understanding of ment,” he has had a much bigger impact on the world. With over Warhol’s artistic process. 130,000 images to choose from, curators had difficulty selecting “A lot of times I think the contact sheets are described as ‘the which ones to showcase. Ultimately, they also incorporated many closest you’ll get to Warhol’s diary,’” of Warhol’s other works, such as silksays Stanford University student Lexi screens, polaroids and negatives to Bard Johnson, who researched the cucreate a cohesive, informative exhiNone of these [pieces] can be ration of the exhibition. bition with bright pops of color that separated from one another According to Johnson, the conare appealing to the eye. tact sheets — negatives from a roll of “I think those kinds of moand that to me is what makes film — highlight Warhol’s obsession ments are probably my favorite in them queer.” with excess in daily life. Some contain the show,” Johnson says. “Where you — RICHARD MEYER, Stanford University professor photos of rows upon rows of clothing, see multiple media with which Wargrocery aisles and flea market items. hol was working simultaneously put Despite this, there are still many parts of his life that were al- together.” most never photographed, such as his own apartment in New York. In addition to the exhibition, all 3,600 contact sheets have “He takes an entire roll when they go to Aspen, of two parked been uploaded to the Cantor Arts Center’s website, launching cars in a parking lot,” Johnson says. “So, there’s kind of like, every- these photos from obscurity to sudden accessibility by anyone. thing is in there and nothing is in there, which I think is totally Despite Warhol’s reluctance to show his photos during his consistent with Warhol.” lifetime, this exhibition can provide a unique look into Warhol’s artistic process, Warhol’s personality and the experience of queer “Gay gay gay” people in the ‘70s and ‘80s. As Warhol says, “everything is gay gay gay.” The contact sheets “It would be remiss to say there is only one takeaway,” Johnshow much more of Warhol’s participation in gay culture through- son says. “I would hope that everyone has their own takeaway and out his life than his art, such as attending Fire Island, a “queer en- things to think about, and are drawn to different elements or asclave” near New York, and pictures of himself with his boyfriend. pects of the show.” v



Hhow ironic A

S AMELIA CLOUGH MAKES her way across school in her red Crocs, adorned with cartoon jibbitz and bright donut socks, wandering eyes latch onto her colorful feet. Crocs, fanny packs, sandals and chunky sneakers are staples in the recent ironic ugly fashion trend that has taken both teenagers at Palo Alto Senior High School and across the country by storm. These items would have been considered fashion disasters as recently as six or seven years ago, but with the re-emergence of wild and iconic ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s clothing, these staple pieces are back in fashion. v

Fanny pack Price: $60, Lifted Anchor Fanny packs have been one of the bolder additions to the category of ironic fashion trends. “A lot of artistic fashion people like Rick Owens ... wear outrageous fashion," junior Elijah McKenzie says. "One of the articles had a photograph of this one model wearing a cool fanny pack,” he says. Junior Eliijah McKenzie's fanny pack is equal parts aesthetic and functional. He believes the upswing of ironic fashion is a way for people to give new meaning to old fashion items. “I see a lot of people that were wearing crocs with $500 pairs of jeans, and that’s at this school,” he says. “It’s kind of a trend in the fashion community that doesn’t really die out — the weird style of clothing.”

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self expression through vintage fashion trends

Crocs Price: $30, Crocs Brightly colored Crocs are an essential element to the “bummy fashion” — most accurately described as loungewear — aesthetic, according to Clough. A call back to a more recent era, Crocs was launched in 2002. Clough received her red Crocs as a present from her mom, and says that her style is driven by her comfort. She pairs her Crocs with brightly patterned socks, baggy sweatpants and hoodies. "I was going for comfort over ‘aesthetics,’ but I guess that is a subgenre of aesthetics," Clough says. Conversely, any outfits that are supposed to connote a relaxed look are composed of relatively expensive items from brands such as Supreme, Nike and Lululemon, she says. “People will wear sweatpants and a sweatshirt from somewhere like Supreme and say ‘ugh, I look so bummy today,’” Clough says. “But in reality, their entire outfit costs more than two of my paychecks."





Chunky sneakers Price: $70, FILA Disruptor 2 Premium Mono Sneaker, Urban Outfitters Senior Julia Tournay can be seen sporting her beloved chunky FILA white sneakers most days and with anything from high-rise, striped business pants to simple skinny jeans. “I like these because they’re big and they make me look taller,” she says. “I don’t have an aesthetic. I like vintage clothes, and sometimes I’ll dress really basic in Brandy Melville.” The huge comeback oversized sneakers are a combination of the ’90s chunky basketball sneaker trend, which reemerged in 2017 after Raf Simons Ogweezo transformed the overlooked the ’90s Adidas sneakers. Although her friends sometimes tease her about them, Tournay says her mom is a big fan. However varied her outfits may be, Tournay’s chunky white sneakers almost always make an appearance. “They’re not cute — they’re ironically cute,” she says.

Tevas Price: $60 to $90, Tevas, REI Similar to the trend of Birkenstocks, Tevas, which are strappy hiking sandals, have made their way into mainstream fashion. Junior Ella Ball, an avid Teva-wearer, uses such “ugly fashion” as a means of expression. “Ugly fashion is just about showing that I’m fine with going against the grain in terms of style,” Ball says. “I think that it’s a super easy way to distance oneself from trends and judgement about style.” For Ball, the draw to “ironic fashion” is not only integral to her personality, but also transmits a societal message. “I like how they [Tevas] look,” Ball says. “They’re so quirky and cool, and I think it’s more like a statement about my personality. Some people just think that it feels more comfortable or use it as a way to express their individuality.”

Ugly Sweater Price: $16, thrift store Out with the old and in with the new. Or maybe it’s the other way around? Clad in gingham pants and an ugly Halloween sweater, junior Isabel Armstrong describes the differences between today’s so called “70s” and “80s” fashion and the clothes our parents used to wear. “It really just speaks to me, [it’s] interesting. [Vintage clothing is] not just what you could find at Urban Outfitters,” Armstrong says. “It’s something that’s tells a story.” Armstrong says that compared to the fast fashion in today’s stores, vintage fashion differs in design and quality. She also notes how fashion reflects evolving social norms and the current political sphere. In light of the 2018 midterm elections, turmoil from the White House and the growing sentiment for gun control, today’s political controversies draws parallels to the Civil Rights Movement of the 1980s, according to Armstrong. “There’s a lot of ‘80s nostalgia going on in our media right now,” Armstrong says. “We’re a generation [that’s] trying to find our voice … so we’re trying to find our voice [through] fashion.”


On A Mission

Text and photos by KATE MILNE and RACHEL LIT



E TOOK TO SOME OF SAN FRANCISCO’S most explosive, art-filled, musical streets to uncover five worthwhile locations to visit in the city. Here is the inside scoop on all things culture, food, shopping and more! v PAXTON GATE — 824 VALENCIA ST. Upon stepping inside this spacious store, we were awed by the unusual and curious sights before us. Decorated with taxidermied animal heads mounted on the tall walls and glass jars hosting waterlogged creatures suspended in

murky water, Paxton Gate entices the most curious and iron-stomached visitors of the Mission District. Troughs and bookshelves packed with oddities of the natural world like dried sea stars, geodes, vibrantly colored butterflies in glass frames, turtle shells and much more fill the large main room of the unique shop. Founded in 1992, Paxton Gate is the brainchild of owner Sean Quigley. One of the main goals of the establishment is to provide ethically sourced taxidermy and other animal items sold in the store. As stated on their website, one of the company’s philosophies is to “source items that have either died of natural causes or were otherwise trapped and euthanized in humane ways.” For a unique gift, room decoration, keychain item or just for an unforgettable browsing experience, do not miss Paxton Gate.

MISSION PIE — 2901 MISSION ST. Jutting out from a street corner across from a vibrant wall covered in art lies Mission Pie, a cafe committed to offering locally sourced produce and seasonal food. We were surprised to find an ample selection of healthy snacks and beverages at what we assumed was a pie-specific shop, with items ranging from Greek yogurt parfaits to hard-boiled eggs. The crown jewels of the store, however, were displayed in a glass case upon a three-tiered shelf: over nine types of pies, varying in sizes, crusts and fillings. At $4.85 a slice, the double crusted apple and chocolate cream were our flavors of choice. While the apple pie was disappointingly not served warm, the crust had a unique texture with melted sugar crystals along the edges. The chocolate, with its smooth and rich filling, managed to be sweet but not overwhelming. On our behind-the-counter tour of the kitchen, we were offered two more

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culture types of pie to try: banana cream (their best seller) and pear raspberry. According to house personnel manager Kitty Griffin, over the past 12 years, Mission Pie transformed from a one-window sliver of a room to the entire bottom floor of the building. From providing a fresh and healthy menu to hosting an internship program for local teens to partnering with local farms, Mission Pie has a strong focus on giving back to their community in more ways than just yummy treats. “We always try to focus on maintaining the loyalty with the customers who have been here for years,” Griffin says. “So we do our best to keep our prices down, to make food affordable and accessible to everyone.”

URBAN PUTT — 1096 SOUTH VAN NESS AVE. A cashier drops gold tokens into our hands and points us in the direction of a neon golf ball dispenser. Placing the coins inside the turnstile, we watch mesmerized as a fluorescent sphere travels around the winding pipes of its container. Rather than just being handed a putter and golf ball, the process of getting our supplies, like everything at Urban Putt, is interactive. Located in a historic Victorian building, Urban Putt prides itself on being the first and only indoor mini-golf course in San Francisco. With sound effects, blacklights, smoke machines and detailed decorations at each hole, this golfing adventure engages all five of the senses, even taste and smell, thanks to UP@Urban Putt, the full-service restaurant located upstairs. Each hole is themed differently, from “Under the Sea” to historic events such as the San Francisco earthquake of 1905. Most of the holes have moving parts and offer hands-on activities for putters to participate in, making them not only enjoyable for kids but entertaining for adults as well. The 14-step course took about an hour to finish, but we could have easily spent another 30 minutes redoing the holes we liked the most — it was that captivating.


PIRATE SUPPLY STORE — 826 VALENCIA ST. The strangely specific Pirate Supply Store located at 826 Valencia Street really is there for all your swashbuckling needs. The store’s theme was immediately apparent, with waves painted on the windows and a friendly octopus hugging a street sign. The space is somewhat cramped with all the treasures for sale, but the shop still gives off a welcoming, beachy vibe. Drawers are filled with countless pirate necessities, from maps to spare peg legs. Some highlights include shark hats hanging from the ceiling and a mirror with a long beard glued to it for photo shoots. The Pirate Supply Store is in fact a part of 862 Valencia, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping under-resourced students tap into their writing skills. With two writing center locations and three satellite classrooms in the surrounding SF area, the organization supports both students and teachers with their writing curricula. All sale proceeds go toward 826 Valencia’s various writing and teaching programs. If you ever find yourself planning a pirate-themed birthday party or if you would just like to sit in a petite theater to watch fish swim around their tank, we highly recommend this unique location. Plus, you will be supporting a good cause in the process.

1-2-3-4 GO! RECORDS — 1038 VALENCIA ST. A simple store layout allows customers to focus on what is most important in this shop — the vinyl records. Organized by genre and alphabetized by title, what seems like over a hundred crates of records line the walls and tables organized in the center of 1-2-3-4 Go! Records. As the nostalgia-evoking soundtrack from “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” plays over loudspeakers, quiet patrons thumb through thousands of records for sale. From full albums boasting nearly 20 tracks to small records hosting one song per side, the versatility of music for sale is endless. Not to mention, records exist for modern music of various genres in addition to old classics, according to clerk Krystl Johnson. “There are top 40 artists that are pressing on vinyl as well,” Johnson says. Jam packed with acoustic gems for all music lovers, 1-2-3-4 Go! Records is an essential part of any day trip in the Mission District.


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Mixing a Melting Pot WARM WELCOME (LEFT) Maria Neal helps a customer at the register at Caffe Machiavello. “We want this to be a family-oriented place where you can actually eat something that you feel comfortable eating,” Neal says. MARGHERITA (TOP RIGHT) Caffe Machiavello’s pizzas are made with special pinsa dough. INTERNATIONAL (BOTTOM RIGHT) Lomo saltado, a traditional Peruvian dish, showcases the cafe’s diversity.





XPERTLY OPENING A WINE BOTTLE as she converses with her staff in Spanish, it seems unlikely that just five months ago the owner of Caffe Machiavello, Maria Neal, had undergone a life-saving kidney surgery. But it was this health scare that encouraged Neal to spend more time with her family and pursue her passion of opening the cafe. At the intersection of Park Boulevard and Page Mill Road, Caffe Machiavello anchores a new neighborhood in a previously industrial part of Palo Alto. Most surrounding buildings are office buildings, which contributes to the lunch rush this cafe satisfies with tasty international cuisine from calamari to quinoa. “Nowadays, everybody’s trying to separate us as different cultures and different backgrounds. I decided to … literally create a melting pot … just celebrating diversity,” Neal says. Despite the foreign dishes that the restaurant serves, Neal wants to make sure that the foods are still easy to understand for everyone. She hopes everyone will be able to find something to eat at the cafe.

Everything is made from scratch with simple, safe ingredients. Neal designed her menu so that everyone could find something to eat, no matter their dietary preference or restriction, as she experienced severe restrictions on her diet just after surgery. Running the restaurant is a family affair, as Neal’s husband and all four children help her carry out her dream. Neal’s eldest son works in the kitchen after school, and her husband cooks, works the cash register and plays music on the patio. Neal herself works in the restaurant nearly everyday in all areas of the cafe except the kitchen. “I’m a little bit shy about it,” Neal says. “I like to eat, but I don’t really know how to cook.” Nevertheless, Neal makes sure to carefully cater to the needs of any customer that enters through her restaurant doors. “Macchiavello is my family last name,” Neal says. “I want people to feel at home and like family, as soon as they walk in here. They belong to my family.” v

Pizza margherita: $11.95 All of Caffe Machiavello’s pizzas use handmade pinsa dough made with flour imported from Italy. Seven different savory pizzas are served, along with the sweet Nutella pizza. The classic margherita pizza is topped with tomato sauce, parmigiana-reggiano, mozzarella, fresh basil and olive oil. The blend of cheese has a strong flavor, which pairs well with the slightly bitter dough.

Lomo saltado: $18.95 The lomo saltado, touted as Caffe Machiavello’s unique Peruvian dish, is presented with a side of white rice and potato wedges. The sirloin steak is freshly made and chewy with a hefty sprinkling of salt within it. While the taste of salt was at times overpowering, the dish is an adventure for the taste buds, as the steak and rice blend together to fill the mouth with warm, buttery goodness.





ANIAC,” A NEW NETFLIX LIMITED series, is a beautiful exploration of the human brain, capturing audiences with gorgeous cinematography, insightful acting and a compelling, drama-filled plot. Set in near-future New York City, “Maniac” focuses on Owen, played by the unmatched Jonah Hill, a paranoid schizophrenic convinced his purpose on Earth is to save the world. He’s joined by Annie, portrayed by the radiant Emma Stone, a woman suffering from borderline personality disorder struggling with drug addiction after grieving the loss of her sister.

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The two enter a drug trial that’s supposedly meant to cure their mental ailments, but it does not exactly go as planned. Although at times the plot feels convoluted and incohesive, this quirk of the show reflects the human mind — disjointed and mysterious. In fact, “Maniac” continuously questions what is considered normal about mental health by portraying it in a new light. Director Cary Joji Fukunaga, known primarily for his work on the show “True Detective,” uses all aspects of “Maniac” to challenge viewers’ conceptions about mental health and human connection. Fukunaga also includes an abundance of homages to popular movies such as “Lord of the Rings,” “Dr. Strangelove” and “The Graduate” to subtly pull the readers back to what they know. One of the most startling aspects of the show is how unique yet oddly familiar the setting seems. The show is set in a futuristic world, but the apparel and cinematography reflect that of which were popular in the ’80s. Annie and Owen’s drug-induced hallucinations also span centuries, with one taking place in the Roaring Twenties, and another in the Cold War-era ’60s. A cross between past and future, the show also incorporates timeless themes such as love, mourning, sacrifice and self-discovery.

niac One of the most unusual elements that “Maniac” explores through its plot is the portrayal of mental health. In very few mediums are people with mental health followed as deeply as Annie and Owen are in “Maniac.” They are promised a cure with three pills — the A pill, which reveals the single struggle affecting the person’s life most, the B pill, which exposes how the person lies to themself, and the C pill, which forces the person to confront their issues so they can move on. Although the show’s solution seems utopian when the characters are rendered “cured” after taking the pill, it is clear that their illnesses are still present. “Maniac” puts mental health at the forefront of discussion, serving to show audiences that it is an enduring issue that does not have a simplistic “cure.” Throughout the show’s 10 episodes, Annie and Owen find themselves in a series of hallucinations, caused by the purported miracle drugs, wherein they become different characters that reflect certain parts of their personalities. Through Annie, Stone truly illustrates her broad versatility, demonstrating that she can expertly transform from an edgy grunge girl into a glamorous femme fatale. Each character Stone becomes is distinct and alluring — it seems as if this role was made only to show off Stone’s acting chops.

While Annie, expressive and bold, is a symbol for craving and loss, Owen, passive and unsure, represents chances untaken. Much like Stone, Hill plays multiple characters, but they are much more similar to each other compared to Stone’s vast array of personas. Portraying Owen with a quiet grace, Hill relies not on words but subtle mannerisms to express deep emotion. With the exception of Owen’s alter-ego Snorri, who talks with an absurd German accent that shows off Hill’s well-known background in slapstick, his acting is dignified and heart-breaking. “Maniac” is also beautifully filmed, using color and landscaping to create aesthetic, surrealist cinematography. Darren Lew, the series’ cinematographer, motifs the colors red and blue throughout the 10 episodes, specifically in the lab during the drug trial. The use of expertly clashing colors symbolizes the internal conflict felt by the characters. In other settings, Lew uses a majestic natural landscape to illustrate the worlds within the characters’ heads. “Maniac” is not a show for the chronic multi-tasker. To appreciate the true beauty of “Maniac,” with its hidden complexities and subtle motifs, viewers should put their devices down and immerse themselves fully in Annie and Owen’s story, where they can find traces of themselves in every line. v



Text by ABE TOW Art by SUYE SHEN and YUE SHI


HE AMERICAN GIRL DOLL STORE. For many it And with the holiday season just over the horizon, we can exis a dream, a place where imagination and self-expres- pect the American Girl store to be bustling with excited customers sion can run free. However, for others, this pastel waste- and gift givers. land is a nightmare, a place where the nearest exit is One shopper, 11-year-old Prisha Mohapatra, says she likes never close enough. American Girl dolls because “They’re fun and they’re a great way to American Girl was founded in 1986 by author Pleasant Row- express young children’s and older children’s feelings.” land, and it became a subsidiary of Mattel in 1998 after a $700 Due to the wide selection of dolls, American Girl has a doll million deal. for almost everyone to identify with. For Mohapatra, the perfect However, since then, American Girl has become so much doll is Nashville singer songwriter Tenney Grant. Mohapatra loves more than just a doll company ­— with accessories fitted to each of playing and listening to music, so with Tenney she can be herself the dolls personalities, matching clothes for both doll and owner and express her passions. and books and movies that delve deep into the backstories of the Despite the company’s mission of providing a doll for every various dolls while simultaneously advertising child to identify, with a starting price of add-on products. $115, they make it very difficult for many For years I watched on as my sister and They’re fun and children to afford the base doll. And the doll cousins received various American Girl dolls, is only the beginning. they’re a great way along with the numerous necessary add-ons On top of all the add-on expenses for to express young (what some may refer to as “accessories”). While the doll, the American Girl doll store in I did not understand or share their excitement, Stanford Shopping Center offers clothes for children’s and older I was nonetheless jealous of being left out of the you to match with your doll, a bistro for you children’s feelings.” fun. to eat with your doll and even a hair salon — PRISHA MOHAPATRA, student I spent countless hours with them, watchwhere you can get your doll a haircut. ing from afar as they merrily played together As an outsider to the world of American with their dolls or watched the American Girl movies in an at- Girl dolls, the entire business appears to be a pointlessly expensive tempt to understand the American Girl Doll culture. But despite scam. However, for someone like Mohapatra, the dolls are an outmy inner longings for a doll like me, I never got one, because for let for self discovery, and the numerous accessories that come with 20 years, American Girl only offered female dolls. the dolls are actually a selling point for the brand. However, in 2017, due to shifting gender norms since the “They have great accessories and great features, and there are a company’s founding and an increasing demand for a doll for boys lot of cool details.” Mohapatra says. to identify with, the American Girl company released Logan, This capitalistic masterpiece of money making and massive a drummer and the company’s first boy doll. Unfortunately, for markups seems to have marketed every aspect of the doll. Howevsome of us, this is too little, too late. er, while I may at first see it as a greedy, overpriced scheme to make Nevertheless, American Girl continues to strive toward having money off of the young, the dolls have brought countless children a doll for everyone, a doll that can be more than just a toy, but also joy and given kids a friend to express themselves with for decades. a friend and a role model for girls and boys around the world. And to me that is priceless. v

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perspective Art by HANNAH LI



Cashing Checks to Chill



EY, WANNA MEET for ing, for many students it is a staple pastime, boba?” “I vote mini-golfing!” along with other game-like activities such “What time is the movie as mini golf, ice skating and laser tag. Call showing?” “Down to go for a me thrifty, but I think my concern is valid: why is it normal for a teenager to feel food run?” “Meet me downtown.” These are just a few of the many mes- comfortable spending so much money on sages I have received from friends over the a regular basis? However, I am also part of the probpast two months. When I am planning to hang out with a friend, it is very rare that lem — while I think it is better to find alwe do not choose to go out to eat, shop or ternative, low-cost hangout ideas, I rarely do some sort of spending-based recreation- find myself actually following through with those ideals. Some part al activity. And on the off of me is always conscious of chance the conversation I often feel how much my organic saldoes not start with ad costs or whether I should “Let’s get lunch,” we pressured by spend that day or save up for spend a scary amount of the stigma that another. At least in Palo Alto, time scrambling to think of other options, stumped we must spend I often feel pressured by the stigma that we must spend as to what else we might money in order money in order to have fun, do together. If we’re not and consequently, activities going out and buying food to have fun. that do not cost a dime are or purchasing tickets for some “exciting” event, we can’t hang out, not valued nearly as much. This mindset is not only concerning, right? I mean, what else would we do? Over the summer, we ride roller but also highly toxic to the social scene precoasters at Great America or drive to San sented in high school. When social life cenFrancisco for a day at the beach or the Fer- ters around spending, we pose the threat of ry Building, taking full advantage of our segregating by socioeconomic status. On a drivers licenses. On the weekend, we go campus already divided into social cliques, out to eat dinner downtown, then head this could separate students on an even to the movies afterward. Some weekdays deeper level — one which involves personeven include “study sessions” at Philz or al finances. Junior Malia Chun agrees that friend Coho, where $4 coffee is the norm. And although I personally am not a fan of bowl- groups can be affected by the cost of hang-

outs. “I think it’s definitely hard for some people to be part of a friend group without feeling the need to spend money,” she says. As a student at Paly and someone who makes her own money for personal spending, Chun says she buys things nearly every day, and notes that this amount increases tremendously during the summer or other breaks — prime time for hanging out with friends. “I don’t like to spend money since I save for myself, so I won’t if I’m alone,” Chun says. “But if I’m with my friends, it’s more likely that I will.” Like Chun, I recognize that cost-friendly activities are not only money savers, but they are also good for our well-being. Free hangouts allow for increased inclusivity and, as a result, a wider range of friends are able to participate. And while splurging every so often can be fun and rewarding, I am working on trying out cheaper options like picnicking in the park during warm weather seasons, spending the night in with Netflix pajama parties when it is raining or doing my studying at the library instead of in coffee shops. Take a chance on one of these options and your wallet will thank you. While activities that have a price may seem more enjoyable, what is most important are the friends you make and the joy you feel when spending time with them. v

Hiking — Walk and talk with your besties on the hills of the Dish or paths of Arastradero for some free gossip and free exercise.

Baking and Cooking — Grab some ingredients already at home and whip up something sweet or compete against your buddies in a “Master Chef” style competition.

Playing Sports — For larger groups of people, get together at a local park and play a game of Ultimate Frisbee, Spikeball or Capture the Flag.

Free Movie Night — Make a pillow fort, sign into Netflix, make some popcorn and settle in for a relaxing movie night right in your own home.






OR MANY PEOPLE, music offers a little touch of vibrancy that can lighten up a day. Thus, there are few things more saddening than forcing yourself to skip that Kanye song on the Spotify playlist your friend sent you or switching radio stations when Chris Brown’s “Freaky Friday” comes on, depriving yourself of blissful noise just because of incidents in the artists personal life. Art in modern day society is the result of a cohesive workforce. Behind every music track branded by an artist are at least 30 people producing and editing; behind every movie created by a producer are dozens of contributors; behind every talk show is a team of editors and writers. Successful art, although often branded under a single name, is a creation born from the intellect of many individuals. Consequently, retracting support for art does little to nothing to fight the actions that the artists have committed. Oftentimes, individuals like myself are berated and judged for tuning in to artists like XXXtentacion or watching a Harvey Weinstein movie because supposedly, we are supporting the artist in question and all of their actions by listening to their music and instead, we should be fighting what they did. Is that really the best way to fight the battle against sexual assault and violence? By not giving the artist a minuscule royalty? There is nothing productive in focusing on those who have already committed crimes, are already serving prison sentences and are consequently already learning their lesson. No, change does not come by living in the past. Change comes by fighting for the prevention of the actions these artists have committed in the future. Make a change by supporting RAINN, the largest anti-sexual assault organization in the US; make a change by supporting FADV, an organization committed to ending domestic violence. Since boycotting art does not benefit us, it ends up causing a personal net loss. By preventing ourselves from enjoying certain pillars of art, we are not only hurting ourselves by decreasing our range of choices, but we are also hurting the individuals who have done nothing wrong and simply worked with ignorant peo-

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ple. By all means, boycott what is wrong, but if you’re going to try then do so with substantive actions and not pointless limitations on your everyday life. Due to the lack of productivity in our dissapproval of certain artists, it is unnecessary for us to restrict ourselves from art branded with people who have done bad things in the past. Although actions like sexual assault and domestic violence are entirely inexcusable, it’s almost cruel to stop listening to the music we enjoy when the impact on the artist is nearly imperceptible. v







E’VE ALL DONE IT: listened to a Chris Brown classic, rapped along to R. Kelly’s “Ignition” or watched a Harvey Weinstein masterpiece, thinking “I know he’s a bad person and did ____ but this [song/art/movie] is just so good!” Pop culture is, it seems, incessantly plagued by the recurring trope of the brilliantly talented and extraordinarily popular artist who committed some despicable crime or simply turned out to be a bad person. And though few deny the validity of allegations made

against their beloved celebrities or attempt to excuse their actions, most of the divisiveness comes from a pressing moral issue: should we separate the art from the artist? On one hand, there are those who believe that we shouldn’t “blame” the book for its author, the song for its artist, the movie for its filmmaker. On the other are those who believe that it is entirely unethical for us as consumers to continue to “consume” art made by those whose actions are inexcusably terrible, unlawful and generaly contradictory to our sense of morality. The former perspective is certainly tempting — I cannot deny that I find XXXtentacion’s lo-fi rap calming or that Kanye’s “Heartless” made it on my 2000s throwback playlist. But it has become impossible for me to listen to such artists without at least a twinge of guilt — the feeling that, for less than three minutes of enjoyment listening to X’s “changes,” I’m supporting an artist guilty of battery and the domestic abuse of his pregnant girlfriend, and who glorifies violence in his own music. That is not to say, of course, that consuming the work of those who have done terrible things means you support their actions — watching “The Cosby Show” or “Roseanne” reruns doesn’t make you an apologist for sexual assault or racism. But try as we might, it is both unethical and illogical to completely separate the art from the artist. Art is often seen as “other” than, or inherently above the paltry troubles of the mortal world, but the reality is that art — whether it is music, movies, books or paintings — is undeniably influenced by factors from the world around us. Any work an artist creates is inextricably intertwined with everything in their life, from political inclinations and morals to their drug use, upbringing or disastrous romances. The same artistic genius who created such blockbuster films as “Annie Hall” and “Manhattan” also allegedly sexually abused his daughter; the same person behind arguably television’s most iconic depiction of black middle-class families assaulted and raped almost 60 people. There are not two Bill Cosbys, Woody Allens, Roseanne Barrs, XXXtentacions, Kanyes, Harvey Weinsteins, R. Kellys or Chris Browns — for all of the aforementioned artists, the same mind that engineered the inspired works of art that we all know and love committed the heinous and abhorrent crimes that we condemn. And so begs the question: if artists don’t separate their art from themselves, why should we? v




Wasted Words?




HEN I CHECKED my homework on Schoology, I knew I would not be getting much sleep that night. It wasn’t a math worksheet or research paper that gave me the feeling of dread, but the hand-written annotations required for the novel I was reading for English. I have always loved reading, but circling every symbol, highlighting each key term and filling notepaper with information in tiny, cramped handwriting takes an inordinate amount of time. And even worse, it makes me question if what I am doing really helps me learn. Should I spend hours on homework that could have taken half an hour if I had just read the material? Most English classes require annotations for assigned readings and social science courses often assign note-taking for homework. Many teachers make their lessons available online and there are sometimes even assigned student note-takers. So is individual notetaking always necessary? A study from the Association of Psychological Science found that students process information best through handwritten notes, a conclusion reached by several other studies. But not all research concurs with the value placed in notetaking — in another study conducted by Mount St. Vincent University, participants who took notes on the location of picture cards did not remember the locations as well as those who simply studied the cards. In high school, students should be given the individual responsibility of figuring out the best way for them to learn. For example, Debbie Whitson, who teaches both regular economics and Advanced Placement eco-

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nomics, says that she only requires notes for ing [their own] mistakes, which is importregular economics, since she figures her AP ant for growing,” Maroulis says, “Everystudents have found a note-taking system thing is controlled and graded.” that works for them. Most teachers prefer that students “It adds a little bit of a carrot for those handwrite notes instead of type them due who might be less organized,” says Whit- to possible distractions. Studies also show son about the notetaking she does require, the benefits of handwriting, but students which she believes will encourage students who are slow at handwriting may need the to learn more efspeed of typing on a fectively. “There’s Students should take computer. so much data that Everyone has difnotes because it helps ferent preferences for points to even if you never look at your them learn, not be- their personal note taknotes again, you reing and students should cause it is required. member it better.” take notes because it “I find that helps them learn, not when I write something down I remem- because it is required. I propose a note-takber it better,” says senior Sophia Maroulis, ing system that would still emphasize the echoing the same sentiment. Maroulis takes value of note taking, but not penalize stupersonal notes in all of her classes. dents who do not have the time or inclinaHowever, she supports giving students tion to extensively do so. Students who take more independence in their notetaking. notes for class, whether in a traditional or “Students have so little room for mak- unorthodox style, would be rewarded with points added to their gradebook (such as a 5/5 or a 10/10) to average out other assignments. Students who do not take notes would not have the note-taking assignments listed in their gradebooks, but more of their grade would depend on tests, essays and other forms of assessment. That way, if students on occasion do not have time to take the notes, they could go to sleep without losing points next class. The content we learn and the tools we have in the classroom are always transforming, so it is important that we continue to reconsider the most optimal and least stressful ways for students to learn. Rather than turning in sleep-deprived scribbles on my book, I hope to consistently come to class having understood and enjoyed what I have read. v

perspectives perspective

v v




ET’S BE HONEST — the video game community doesn’t have the best record when it comes to being socially progressive. Online multiplayer voice chats are notorious for being filled with various slurs and shooter games based on wars in the Middle East frequently promote Islamophobia. On top of that, the fact that 71 percent of developers are male and 61 percent are white, according to the International Game Developers Association, doesn’t give much hope for improvement. While the label of most gamers being toxic with a bigoted twist is a false generalization, it’s easy to see where this notion comes from. Frequently, vocal groups of “hardcore” gamers protest games that include diverse perspectives. For example, there was an outcry in June 2018 after the creators of “The Last of Us 2” — sequel to a zombie game — revealed that the lead character is lesbian. Likewise, in May there was a huge uproar over “Battlefield 5” — a World War II shooter game — after a trailer showed that you could play as a female soldier in their online multiplayer mode. Battles raged over online forums, with many women and LGBTQ+ people expressing thanks that they could finally play as characters that represent them. At the same time, some long-time gamers complained that “social justice warriors” were taking over their video games.

Text by WARREN WAGNER The same toxicity overflowed into one of my own favorite games, “League of Legends.” The developers created a small in-game event in honor of Pride Month and I chose to participate — a choice I soon came to regret. Throughout the whole month, I saw epithets of all kinds pollute my team text channels.

Despite rampant backward behavior, major game developers keep taking risks to include more diverse perspectives. But despite such rampant backward behavior, major game developers keep taking risks to include more diverse perspectives. Following the controversy over “Battlefield 5’s” playable female characters, CNBC reported that the game’s pre-order sales lagged behind its competitors by a staggering 85 percent. That prompted Dice, the game studio behind the “Battlefield” franchise, to delay the game’s release by a month. But they stood firm in their decision to have playable female characters. That’s a remarkable thing for the gaming industry, or any large company, to do: Dice didn’t abandon ship at the first whiff of controversy nor sacrifice its morals for the sake of profit. Instead, it

stood up to give representation to women, a group that too often gets shut out of the gaming community. While it saddens me that so many companies have to be afraid of controversy when trying to make their games more inclusive, these culture wars help move the community forward. I remember five or six years ago when women would be bombarded with disrespectful comments whenever they uttered even a few words on voice chat services. Today there are still plenty of sexist players out there, but as more women have begun to play games, they aren’t seen as “outsiders” as they once were. I used to shy away from associating myself heavily with the gaming community because I felt its discourse was too often antithetical to my social values. But now I’m a little bit prouder to play games, because they represent how experiences can change people for the better. Not to mention, unlike movies or books, games are an interactive medium. Playing as a character with a different background than you can be an eye-opening experience. Some hardcore gamers may get angry at the inclusion of a diverse cast of characters in their favorite games, but getting to play those stories is what moves minds and hearts. That’s why it’s imperative that game developers keep blazing new paths for a more inclusive community. v



Art by YUE SHI

The Rules: A staff writer chooses their stance on an issue, Gila takes the opposite stance and the t wo battle it out on this page!



LICKING “SUBMIT,” I realize the past four years, roughly 1,200 days, 35,040 hours of my life have been condensed into a 12-page PDF file. Did I rewrite essays countless times? Did I strategically word activities to sound more sophisticated? Did I avoid flaws and focus on my strengths? You guessed it: The answer to all of them is yes. But despite having to boast about myself everywhere in my application, or perhaps because of it, I learned more about how to be an adult. The college application is the first step to adulthood: leaving our nest and flying off to a new home. Though we have parents as think tanks, we are left to navigate the process on our own and nail down all the final decisions. For example, we control how to present our own narrative. No one is submitting their

first essay draft, yet overly glamorized essays lack authenticity in the eyes of admissions officers. Essay editors can certainly help, but it is up to us to determine where to draw the line. We are held accountable for all information entered into the Common Application. Every box we check seems to say “Welcome to the adult world, where words can be used against you and your carelessness can ruin your future.” On top of that, our decisions affect our parents, teachers and counselors, since they have all signed agreements for us. Since most of us go through this process before becoming legal adults, the college application is a kind of exit ticket from adolescence. When better than now to learn to take responsibility? Polished college applications are not as fake as they seem. Consider them like gift wrapping — a decoration that does not change the value of what is inside. As teens soon grown into adults, we are just adapting to the world. From colleges’ perspectives, the admissions officers have enough experience to see what is below the surface. After all, what they truly care about is the gift — us, as who we are. v Guest perspective by YUE SHI


Y FAMILY’S dinner table conversations no longer revolve around our days. They do not revolve around current events or books or movies. Instead, they revolve around me — and my college applications. The college admissions process is, as some colloquially phrase it, a game. “Winners” are the best marketers, presenting themselves as conglomerates of well-crafted essays and carefully calculated activities. While self-promotion is arguably one of the most vital 21st century skills, the college application “game” teaches this far too early and in the wrong way. Take, for instance, the essays — the pinnacle of the admissions process. In response to self-reflective prompts, we capitalize on our hobbies. We weave complex stories out of our cultural backgrounds and lament obstacles and insecurities. While these essays can serve as powerful avenues for contemplation, they too often become glamorized. We know that colleges do not like to hear stories of mediocrity, and so even in supposedly candid essays about struggle, there must always be some hidden beauty and sweet redemption, and always a life lesson learned. Showing off our best, most essay-worthy moments does not ingrain internal confidence but rather teaches us to fabricate

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facades of self-congratulation. There remains a disconnect between our actual selves and those which we present on paper. Even in more objective measurements, we are told to market ourselves in the best light possible in order to elevate ourselves among a talented pool of applicants. Our transcripts reflect four years of strategically planned AP classes: genuine interests turned college checklists. There is no perfect way to gauge an applicant’s personality and accomplishments through a written application that is read in under 10 minutes. The holistic review process many U.S. colleges currently use certainly has its advantages, but it also simply rewards students who best commercialize themselves. Perhaps there needs to be a broader shift in the traits we value in applicants and in the air that surrounds the college admissions process — humble more than boastful, sincere more than feigned, collaborative more than competitive. v Column by GILA WINEFELD


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