Verde Volume 22 Issue 5

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V. Finding a way forward Is a post-pandemic reality within reach? VERDEMAGAZINE.COM 1

2 JUNE 2021

VERDE MAGAZINE June 2021 Volume 22 Issue 5 Editors-in-Chief Paisley Annes Sebastian Bonnard Akhil Joondeph (hybrid) Emily Yao (digital)

ON THE COVER Junior Agnes Mar stands in front of the Palo Alto High School Tower Building, mask in hand and face uncovered. This striking image, captured by photographer Anushe Irani, is a reminder of the relaxation of regulations that has come with the recent surge in COVID-19 vaccinations, and symbolizes the return to normalcy that could be in our near future. COVID-19 Photo Precautions In all photo shoots, photograpghers wore a mask and adhered to social distancing guidelines. Publication Policy Verde Magazine, a news and features 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 Rd Palo Alto, CA 94301. 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 Ishaan Batra and Olivia Milne at Printing & Distribution Verde is printed five times a year in October, December, February, April and May by Folger Graphics in Hayward, California. The Paly Parent Teacher Student Association mails Verde to every student’s home. All Verde work is available at

Managing Editors Jerry Fang Merwa Marof Features Editors Sadie Ibbotson-Brown Dominique Lashley Profiles Editor Sasha Boudtchenko Culture Editor Anya Mondragon Perspectives Editor Meena Narayanaswami Editorials Editor Ashmita Rajmohan News Editor Jonas Pao Launch Editor Aanya Kumar Design Editor Sofia Antebi Statisticians Jerry Fang Allegra West

Copy Editors Sasha Boudtchenko Sadie Ibbotson-Brown Business Managers Ishaan Batra Olivia Milne Art Director Samantha Ho Webmaster Zander Leong Staff Writers Mia Baldonado Bim Bolarinwa Naomi Boneh Allison Chang Katherine Cheng Avery Hanna Timothy Hung Audrey Kernick Michelle Kim Tara Kothari Laura Malagrino Sophie Matlof Kylie Mies Antonia Mou Ishani Raha Ryan Seto Andie Tetzlaff Myra Xu Adviser Paul Kandell

Social Media Manager Allegra West


In this issue Foreword

6 Editorials 8 Launch 10 News


13 16 18 20 22

Fall academic plans PAPD analyzed Psychological effects of lockdown Religious services Lil Nas X music video

Profiles 24 26 27 28 30 32 34


Musuboy AP graders 7 questions with Matthew Caren Field hockey seniors Mr. Scilingo’s LEGOs Navy recruits Family farms

ulture C 36 Online cooking classes 38 Geoguessr 40 Filoli’s “Stories of Resilience” 42 Immersive Van Gogh 44 Calder-Picasso 46 The Kardashians 48 Senior section

Perspectives 52 53 54 55


Ramadan Animal Crossing College anxiety Dear senior class







ENTERING UNCHARTED TERRITORY Boisterous students file into the once-empty classroom, newspapers and magazines covering the walls and plastic dividers situated on each of the 16 desks inside. The sound of teen voices fill the air, singing “Happy birthday” in shaky unison while celebrating the newest issue of Verde. Reduced COVID-19 cases and the rollout of vaccines has made the dream of a lively Media Arts Center, something we never thought we would see this year, a reality. In this issue, we attempt to capture this moment of transition as we approach a sense of normalcy once again. With California set to remove almost all COVID-19 restrictions on June 15 and schools planning to fully reopen in the fall, members of the Palo Alto High School community have developed strong views about what a new normal should look like — opinions captured by Perspectives Editor Meena Narayanaswami and News Editor Jonas Pao in “What comes next?” Looking ahead to a time after the pandemic forces us to reconcile the lasting effects of social isolation, as investigated by staff writer Allison Chang and Profiles Editor Sasha Boudtchenko in “Virtual growing pains,” a closer look into the psychological impacts of lockdown. The relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions has also given us opportunities to enjoy newly available activities. Following the reopening of museums, we take an in-depth look into two recent art exhibits in “Artfully abstract” and “Goghing digital.” Staff writers Antonia Mou and Laura Malagrino analyze the de Young’s juxtaposition of Alexander Calder and Pablo Picasso in the former, while staff writers Katherine Cheng and Zander Leong explore a digital installation of Vincent Van Gogh’s paintings in the latter.

While we happily say goodbye to the worst days of the pandemic, we are also forced to grapple with some more difficult farewells. For the Class of 2021, their high school journey comes to an end after a year riddled with uncertainty. Staff writer Myra Xu attempts to find closure amid this confusion for herself and her classmates in “Dear Class of 2021.” Volume 22 will always be defined by the pandemic. Masks appear on all of our covers thus far, shielding the faces of student activists, a teacher and a healthcare professional. But on the cover of this final issue of the volume — a period punctuating the V22 sentence if you will — significantly, the all-important mask begins to come off. The world has undergone immense changes in the past months, and so has Verde, with an all new team of leaders taking the helm. Similar to the volatile world surrounding us, our brief time as editors has been filled with uncertainty. Failures have been frequent, and successes, surprising. But as the world boldly moves forward into a new era, without knowledge of what is in store, so have we — filled with gratitude for the opportunity to continue the legacy of this publication. To the outgoing editors: we are so thankful for your impressive leadership during the most difficult times, and hope the final installment of your volume does your hard work justice. To our readers: we are beyond proud of this final episode in the Volume 22 pentalogy, and hope you enjoy the truthful, hard-hitting journalism pursued time-and-time again by our staff as much as we do. —PAISLEY, SEBASTIAN, AKHIL, EMILY


the verdicts Restart the Palo Alto Free Shuttle



S SCHOOLS REOPEN and more members of the community get vaccinated, Palo Alto is slowly returning to a new post-pandemic normal. However, one essential service that is yet to return is the Palo Alto Free Shuttle. While decreased ridership and lack of funding due to COVID-19 forced the city to shut down the shuttle, declining cases and the reopening of schools makes it imperative that the shuttle resumes its service by the start of the 2021 school year. As stated in the Palo Alto Operating Budget, ridership in 2019 averaged 140,000 shuttle boardings, providing a number of students and other local residents with convenient, safe and reliable daily transportation to and from school and work. According to a Verde opt-in survey of 213 Palo Alto High School students from May 10-16, 11.8% of students relied on the shuttle for transportation to and from Palo Alto High School, pre-COVID. “It’s possible that we will have to go in-person next year, and if the shuttles aren’t running I don’t know how I’ll get to school,” sophomore Reed Jadzinsky said. Additionally, the Embarcadero shuttle connects to the East Palo Alto shuttle, which is a critical method of transportation

for many students who live further away. With the absence of the shuttle, students from East Palo Alto will face difficulties in commuting to Paly, thus decreasing the accessibility of attending school. Current plans Palo Alto’s 2022 Fiscal Plan states that a plan for the shuttle or an alternate transportation service to return is in the works. The city recently received a $2 million grant towards “on-demand transportation” from Santa Clara County. However, the public transit funded by the grant does not include the shuttle; instead, the grant provides funds for a new, different system of transportation within the city based on the Uber concept. “Think of it as UberPool but with vans,” Transportation Department Planning Manager Sylvia Star-Lack wrote in an email to Verde. “There will be a mobile app that riders can use to schedule rides almost anywhere within Palo Alto. Fares will be charged, but we intend to have discounts for rider groups such as youth and seniors.” Though we appreciate the city’s innovative efforts to increase public transportation, without regular stops like the shuttle, as well as a required fee, the van service will be less accessible to students.

Furthermore, the service is set to start in the summer of 2022, which is too late with school returning this fall. Possible solutions As COVID-19 cases continue to decline and the number of vaccinations among local residents rises, the shuttle can safely resume its services. Moreover, since the shuttle would not require a fare, less physical contact is required compared to other bus services. Certain precautions should still be set in place to ensure the safety of Palo Alto residents. Daily sanitization and temperature checks must be implemented along with a decrease in the maximum capacity. Windows can also be opened to increase ventilation. According to data from Massachusetts Institute of Technology Medical, robust ventilation systems combined with short ridership times make shuttles like Palo Alto’s unlikely to induce large COVID-19 transmission events. With safety measures in place and COVID-19 cases declining, the Palo Alto Free Shuttle should be reinstated as soon as possible to provide accessible transportation to students and the greater Palo Alto community. v Art by David Tomz

6 JUNE 2021

The Verdicts editorial section expresses the collective opinion of the Verde Magazine staff.

Student activities: volunteers, staff provide exciting opportunities


VER THE COURSE of the 2020-2021 school year, the Wellness Center, Associated Student Body and parent volunteers have hosted a variety of activities for students to interact with one another in a COVID-19-safe environment. These activities have helped students take a break from their schoolwork, improve their mental health and celebrate important milestones with their classmates. Verde commends the work of those who have made it possible for students to participate in events fostering community and school spirit during this difficult year. The Wellness Center Despite the challenges of organizing events that are both engaging and COVID-19 safe, the Wellness Center has excelled in providing a rich variety of events for students. Wellness Center Coordinator Whitney Aquino and other staff members have organized events like “Paint-and-Plant,” which took place at Palo Alto High School on the quad. Made possible by partners like Paly ECO and the Parent Council of the Parent-Teacher Association, students gathered and painted succulent pots to take home. The Center is also using prizes to gain more participants for activities like the ASB Wellness Week from March 22-26, where students were given the option to complete online challenges like writing words of affirmation or taking a mental health break to be entered in a raffle. “We’ve seen the numbers [of students] go up and up as more people participate,” Aquino said. “As the weather gets nicer, more people are coming onto campus. Part of it [the growing numbers] is seeing people participating in the activities, and seeing that opportunity to be social and enjoy it with one another.” Aquino says the goal of the Wellness Center’s events is to create spaces where

SUCCULENTS FOR STUDENTS — Paly students pick up supplies as part of the Wellness Center’s “Paint-and-Plant” event. “I thought it [“Paint-and-Plant”] was very relaxing and a fun distraction from class,” junior Brighid Baker said. Photo: Zander Leong

students can meet new people and take a break from school work. Associated Student Body Paly’s ASB has also done a commendable job organizing many engaging activities for students to relax and celebrate throughout the year. ASB President-elect Johannah Seah helped run an open mic for Paly students, along with representatives from other local schools. “One of the most memorable events for me was the citywide open mic because I helped to plan it with other schools in Palo Alto,” Seah said. “I felt like everyone really enjoyed hearing everyone’s performances and [it] felt like a very unified event.” In addition, ASB has organized activities like “Cookies on the Quad,” “Tea with Teachers,” scavenger hunts and “Paly’s Got Talent,” and continues to plan events for students both online and in person. “I think honestly, the biggest part of activities is just being with people that you know, and having fun and trying something new,” Seah said.

Parent-run activities Parent Teacher Students Association volunteers have hosted many memorable events for the class of 2021 this year. PTSA volunteers offered a drive-thru event for seniors in February with free boba, donuts, 2021 yard sign pickup and camo masks. “Although it was a pretty quick event, it was nice to be able to see some people from our cars and pick up boba,” senior Medha Atla said. “At this point, any form of interaction with my peers is worth it.” The PTSA also partnered with Gott’s Roadside to give seniors free burgers when they picked up their caps and gowns. Senior Week, similar to Spirit Week, was organized by parent volunteers along with ASB, providing the class of 2021 an exciting end to their year and a valuable opportunity to meet with their friends. “I actually helped come up with Senior Week, and I am so pumped with the turnout,” senior Jenna Tetzlaff said. “The senior class got a taste of the spirit week we missed, and who doesn’t love to dress up once in a while.” v


launch CAPPING IT OFF A long-standing Paly senior tradition is decorating graduation caps. Students adorn their caps with visuals encapsulating either their high school experiences or their coming post high school endeavors.


Photo: Emily Yao

Photo: Christine McDaniel

WITH VICE PRESIDENT-ELECT ASHLEY MEYERS What new plans do you have for ASB next year?

“I got a lot of my inspiration from TikTok and this one account that rhinestoned graduation caps and I just loved the way it sparkled in the sun.” — Alli Miller

For next year, my biggest plan is to hopefully return all of the students favorite events and activities to campus again while also including new ones. What are you hoping to improve next year for ASB? Next year, I hope to make class time more efficient. This past year we weren’t able to do much due to COVID, but for this upcoming year I hope that we will have more to do throughout the year.

Photo: Adora Zheng

Photo: Sophie Kadifa

“I remember seeing how much fun my older brother had with decorating his cap. ... I picked the mascot of my college and cut out my graduating year numbers out of felt for my cap.”

“I’m playing water polo at LMU, so I wanted to incorporate that into my cap. I also wanted to highlight all of LMU’s colors. I kept my cap pretty simple and used felt for the design.” ­ — Sophie Kadifa

— Adora Zheng

8 JUNE 2021

What is your favorite part about being in ASB? There are so many things about ASB that I love. I love being a voice for my peers and to be a leader for the school. I also really enjoy the bonds you make with the people in the class.



VERBATIM: WHAT SUMMER ACTIVITIES ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO THE MOST? “I’m really looking foward to getting a break from school and going to the beach a lot.” Photo: Anna Markesky

Photo: Tisha Singhal

­— Halina Noone, sophomore

“I’m excited to get away from my computer, get outside and hang out with my friends.” ­— Diego Diaz, junior “I’m excited to go berry picking. We always make jam during the summer.”

Photo: Olivia Lindstrom

­— Grace Lindstom, senior

Verde’s end of year playlist Scan this code to access the full playlist on Spotify!

Who Will Save The World Modern Talking

Never Gonna Give You Up Rick Astley

One Day Lovejoy

Like 1999 Valley

Gonna Be Okay Tiffany Day

PALY BUCKET LIST Dress up for Spirit Week Wear camo your senior year Take a class you enjoy Play Spikeball on the Quad Lunch at Town and Country Take a nap on the Quad


Check out our podcast, “Verde, Verbalized” on Spotify, where our very own staff writers share thoughts and experiences behind their own stories.

LAUNCH HUNT Summer is near!

Can you find all 10?


news Alma-Churchill safety reforms


he Alma-Churchill intersection will undergo safety modifications in 2022, according to the Palo Alto City Council. The Federal Railroad Administration rated the intersection as one of the most dangerous in the state. The changes presented at a City Council meeting on May 3 by the Office of Transportation include: adding a presignal for eastbound traffic on Churchill, widening the pedestrian gate onto the tracks, expanding the pedestrian queuing space between the tracks and Alma street, and improving the connection to the Embarcadero Trail that runs parallel to the school. The OOT also proposed adding high-visibility yellow striping along the cross walks, green markings for bike lanes and stop lines for cars. “This project is really meant for near-term safety improvements,” Chief Transportation Official Philip Kamhi said. “It’s envisioned that there will be a more significant project that will occur at Churchill regarding grade separation.” by AVERY HANNA

BRISK BIKER ­ — Sophomore Phela Durosinmi bikes away from the Alma-Churchill crossroads, an intersection that is usually filled with both cars and bikers. “It’s always pretty scary when there are so many students in a rush to get across,” senior Hope Morita said. Photo: Anushe Irani

10 JUNE 2021

SCHEDULE SWITCH — Junior Celia Frahn and sophomore Arati Periyannan work side by side in Palo Alto High School’s Media Arts Center. These students, along with others, will be adjusting to PAUSD’s bell schedule plans for next school year, which will include a later start and end time. “The later ending time likely means people will not have as many chances to pursue extracurriculars,” Paly sophomore Ethan Boneh said. Photo: Meena Narayanaswami

Bell schedule set for next year


HE PALO ALTO UNIFIED School District will adopt a modified block bell schedule for 20212022 school year. The new schedule includes all seven periods on Mondays and 90-minute block periods from Tuesday to Friday, for both middle and high schools. For high school students, school will begin at 9 a.m. everyday and end at 3:50 p.m. on Mondays, 4:10 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays and 3:30 p.m. on Wednesdays and Fridays. Many students are looking forward to the 9 a.m. start time because school begins 40 minutes later than it did during the 2019-2020 school year. The later start times will ensure students are able to get sufficient sleep each night, but one consequence is the later end times each day. “It will be a big scheduling change, and I know that lots of people are concerned about extracurriculars conflicting with school hours, but I’m positive it will work out,” sophomore Rebecca Helft said. “I think what we often forget is that any time there’s a change, even for the better, it

takes a little time for everything to follow suit as well. Because most, if not all, extracurriculars are directly serving kids and teens, they will follow the shift in school hours.” Middle schools are slated to have a seven-period schedule on Mondays. However, middle school will start at 8:30 a.m. and end at 2:30 p.m. on Mondays, 3:15 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays, 2:30 p.m. on Wednesdays and 1:45 p.m. on Fridays. Middle schools will have a block schedule for in-person learning for the first time, which will be an added challenge for teachers. “It is hard for me to predict what any challenges will be with the longer blocks as I have yet to teach block periods in any other format than on Zoom,” Jane Lathrop Stanford Middle School teacher Elizabeth Lewis wrote in an email to Verde. “Personally, I will be thinking about how to break up the blocks into smaller activities in order to maximize student learning.” by MEENA NARAYANASWAMI

City Council approves skate park plan


HE PARKS AND RECREATION Commission will be responsible for building a new skate park in Palo Alto after the Palo Alto City Council unanimously voted in favor of the proposed park on April 12. A petition for the new skate park was started by Palo Alto High School sophomore Sam Kaplinsky last August and has since gained over 2,000 supporters. Kaplinsky has been working with council members Alison Cormack and Greg Tanaka to to help get his plan approved by the city council. “The next step in the process is going to be finding a location, finding a design and fundraising,” Kaplinsky said. Accoring to Kaplinsky, the approval of his plan is a major step towards his dream

of a new skate park in Palo Alto. “Personally, it just is really great to see the community that came together to support the project,” Kaplinsky said. “Every time there was a city council meeting, there were dozens of people, kids and adults, Paly students, people from all over, speaking in support of it [the proposal].” According to Kaplinsky, the hardest part, fundraising for the project, is yet to come. Nevertheless, Kaplinsky is optimistic about the future of the skate park and hopes that the community will continue to be involved in the project. “It’s pretty meaningful to see everybody come and support it [the proposal] and then also have the actual city support it,” Kaplinsky said. by JERRY FANG

Paly Journalism Archive to expand catalog


HE PALO ALTO HIGH School Journalism archive will be increasing the content and publicity of the archive after it received $22,000 from the Troper Wojcicki Foundation. The donation will mainly be used to memorialize the past 20 years of Paly journalism, according to retired Paly journalism teacher Esther Wojcicki. “They [student journalists] learn a lot by looking back and seeing what other students did before them,” Wojcicki said. “It’s not only a way to perpetuate memories, it’s a way for students to learn, and also to feel connected to the students who were part of the program, and past years.” The past 20 years of Paly journalism have been some of the most influential for the program. These years hold the beginnings of many of the major Paly publications including The Paly Voice, Viking Sports Magazine and InFocus News, and continue to show the legacy of Wojcicki, widely considered the pioneer of Paly’s contemporary journalism

program. “I devoted my life to the journalism program at Paly,” Wojcicki said. “I spent 40 years there, and I would like to have this legacy live on.” Wojcicki says one of the most influential stories currently in the archive is an editorial by The Campanile titled, “Sex survey reveals surprising statistics” published in December of 1993. “One of the most important historical moments that The Campanile really impacted was in 1990 when we did a survey of students’ sexual behavior,” Wojcicki said. “Just doing that survey alone was considered shocking for most people, but what we discovered is that kids were not using condoms, … as a result of that, the skills for living class was started quickly to try to help students understand the consequences of not having safe sex.” This story and many other historical Paly stories can be found at by JONAS PAO

Camp MAC to be held in-person


alo Alto High School’s journalism summer camp, Camp MAC, will be held on Paly campus this summer, running from Aug. 2 to Aug. 6. The Camp MAC leadership team and teacher advisors began pushing for an in-person program at the beginning of April. “Everyone on our leadership team and our advisers were in agreement that hosting Camp MAC in person would be more fun and engaging for our campers because being in person allows us to do a lot of interactive activities that would not have translated very well to being online,” junior Emily Yun, a member of the leadership team, said. The proposal was approved by Assistant Principal Jerry Berkson on May 5, but a virtual option will still be available for those with COVID-19 safety concerns, or outof-area students. Junior Gianna Brogley, another member of the leadership team, says she is looking forward to incorporating in-person activities for campers to enhance the camp experience. “We’re planning on having campers review a fake restaurant that we set up,” Brogley said. “We’re also planning on having guest speakers throughout the camp week, which we had last year virtually but there was less attendance.” Editors’ Note: Verde Magazine receives funds from Camp MAC through the MAC Boosters program.



Community rallies against ‘Asian hate’


VER 350 PROTESTERS gathered in front of Palo Alto City Hall on May 2 to encourage voter registration among the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities as a part of an ongoing movement against hatred towards the AAPI community Only 49% of Asian American citizens that are eligible to vote do so, according to Greg Tanaka, Palo Alto City Council member and organizer of the “8 by 8” campaign. The movement encourages community members to convince eight people to register to vote in eight days, which Tanaka hopes will increase Asian representation in government. “What this [rally] is trying to do is the ‘8 by 8’ which is to get eight people to register to vote in eight days,” Tanaka said. “It’s to drive action so that there’s more representation from the community.” Supporters marched down University Avenue, whistling yellow whistles and chanting phrases such as “eight by eight, stop Asian hate.” As they filled up the plaza in front of City Hall, protesters were greeted with live music and speeches from guest speakers in the Asian community sharing the experiences that motivated them to advocate and attend the rally. Palo Alto High School junior and ASB Junior President Mathew SignorelloKatz was one of many student volunteers

contributing efforts to organize the event. Motivated to support the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities after seeing a recent surge of anti-Asian hate crimes, Signorello-Katz signed up to help attendees register for the rally. “I think there’s a necessity to spread awareness both at the local level and beyond,” Signorello-Katz said. Protest attendee and California Dep-

uty Attorney General Eric Chang said he believes that protests like these will instill feelings of progress in the community “It’s cathartic,” Chang said. “It [rallying] makes people feel better and that shouldn’t be understated.” by SASHA BOUDTCHENKO additional reporting by SEBASTIAN BONNARD

PALO ALTO PROTESTS ­— A crowd of protesters rallies in front of Palo Alto City Hall to protest recent hate crimes against members of the Asian community. “It’s really significant to start [Asian American Heritage Month] off strong by showing the community that … they shouldn’t be receiving this hatred,” student volunteer Shruthi Ganesh said. Photo: Sebastian Bonnard

SCVAL approves CCS playoffs for athletes


ANTA CLARA VALLEY Athletic League Board of Managers is allowing season two and season three sports to participate in the Central Coast Section playoffs starting in the coming months. SCVAL initially withdrew all 14 of the schools in its league, including Palo Alto High School, from the CCS playoffs due to safety concerns on April 29. This decision came after students, parents and coaches pushed SCVAL to allow its schools to participate in CCS playoffs and threatened SCVAL with lawsuits. “They [SCVAL] have not only

12 JUNE 2021

taken away hours of our uphill battles to get a season three, test and play with good health, but have also taken part of most of these seniors’ last chances in competing to win a CCS title,” Lynbrook High School basketball player and senior Hali’a Yee wrote in a widely shared Instagram post on May 5. Paly senior and varsity swim captain James Fetter also fought against SCVAL decision with his fellow team mates. Following the decision to allow student athletes to play in CCS, Fetter says that he is looking forward to the playoffs for the comradery and prolonged season. “Obviously the team is super excited

to just be given the opportunity to compete,” Fetter said. “Win or lose, we all know that we go out there and give it our all, and that’s the best we can ask for in this crazy year.” Fetter is optimistic about his last year on the Paly swim team. “Honestly, this [season] has potential to be our first [CCS] title in team history,” Fetter said. Additionally, the board voted against crowning regular-league champions, but will still crown CCS champions. by JONAS PAO




A CASUAL CONTEST — Sophomore Archie Webber and his teammates stand in front of a portable volleyball net outside of the Palo Alto High School Tower Building during lunch. “I have really enjoyed connecting with people who I haven’t seen in over a year and being able to play games like volleyball and spikeball on the quad with them,” Webber said.



ESKS WITHOUT dividers. Faces without masks. School without Zoom. An unknown world to in-person Palo Alto High School students. These images have been turned from familiar to foreign due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, but after over a year in isolation, the end may be approaching. As of May 18, Santa Clara County is in the COVID-19 yellow tier, in part due to the increase of vaccinations — with over 1.2 million county residents vaccinated as of May 19. According to a Verde Magazine opt-in survey of 213 Paly students conducted between May 10 and May 16, 96% of students plan to get vaccinated for COVID-19, with 52% having received at least one dose as of May 16. The subsequent decrease in COVID-19 cases has led Governor Gavin Newsom to pledge to lift California’s mask mandate by June 15. As places like theaters, gyms, public transportation and restaurants start to reopen, schools plan to follow. However, students, staff and community members have differing visions for our new campus normal come August.

SENSATIONAL SPIKEBALL — A student smashes the ball against the Spikeball net towards an opposing player while playing on the Palo Alto High School Quad. “Having spikeball as a way to meet new people has been really fun and I get to play with people that I love,” sophomore Evie Kramer said.

people as they walk in and having goofy, off the cuff conversations about informal things ... that make up the bulk of your day,” journalism teacher Brian Wilson said. Staff perspectives Despite anticipation surrounding the “Back to normal is our plan,” Palo Alto Unified School District Superintendent return to school next fall, teachers do not Don Austin said in an interview with Verde want to disregard the lessons gained from a full year of dislast month. Austin says he I would hope that we don’t tance learning. “I would hois confident that pe that we don't school can return forget about it [the panforget about it safely and believes demic], try to ignore it, [the pandemic], the success of the current hybrid and go full speed ahead as try to ignore it, and go full speed model proves this. if it never happened.” ahead as if it “We’ve shown never happened,” that we can bring — DAVID COHEN, English teacher English teacher students back, even David Cohen said. in the purple tier, prior to vaccines, and do it safely,” Austin “I also hope that we don't turn it into an said. “So I think our track record is pretty ongoing weight on our shoulders, where good right now. We [the district] feel pretty everything is constantly thought about in terms of catching up and adjusting.” confident.” Though Cohen said he hopes to use Many teachers are looking forward to the possibility of returning to in-person this past year to help improve next year, he school and reestablishing a sense of nor- also wants students and teachers to be able to move forward. malcy. “It's our job to meet students where “I can lecture on Zoom just like I can lecture in a classroom, but it's just seeing they are,” Cohen said. “If everyone went

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through something that has changed what students know and what they can do, then we can be flexible enough to accommodate that change and not try to force anyone to do extra work to catch up to what they would have been in some hypothetical version of COVID.” Student perspectives Students have become increasingly frustrated with distance learning, and hope to return to school in-person in August. “At the beginning of the school year, we were all excited to be learning from home, but now it’s getting really tiring and draining,” said Ashley Hung, Associated Student Body sophomore vice president. Senior class president-elect Mathew Signorello-Katz said he decided to drop “Stage Tech” –– one of his electives at Paly where he ran the behind-the-scenes of Paly theater performances –– due to the realities of virtual learning, and will not be continuing the activity in the future. “I spent so much time in my day on Zoom, the last thing I wanted to do at the end of the day was spend more time on Zoom,” Signorello-Katz said.“It [Stage Tech] was a very fun hobby. It was never

STUDIOUS STUDENTS — Sophomore Alex Landolfi and his classmates sit in an almost empty Palo Alto High School classroom with plastic dividers all around them. This classroom environment is the closest thing to "normal" students have experienced since schools turned virtual in March 2020. “It [in person school] can feel like you are back in regular school as opposed to just on a Zoom in a classroom,” Landolfi said.

something that I was really considering as you definitely couldn’t do during COVID. a career, but I really enjoyed doing it, so if I think everyone is just more eager to see the pandemic never happened, I probably live performances and go to big events.” would have continued.” Students are also looking forward to Learning from distance learning Among students and staff, there is gathering with friends as cases decline and a consensus on one fundamental belief: restrictions are lifted. “It’s really difficult to make friends this distance learning will never be forgotten. year because we’re not able to communicate Despite its drawbacks, virtual learning has opened teachers’ in person,” Hung eyes to the benesaid. At the beginning of the fits of an instrucThough peotional style that ple have been able school year, we were all not require to spend time excited to be learning from does all students and with friends in teachers to be small groups over home, but now it’s getting in one the past couple of really tiring and draining.” present room. months, few have “There are been able to inter— ASHLEY HUNG, sophomore times where … act in large groups you just want due to COVID-19 that energy of a bunch of people in the restrictions. “One thing I’m looking forward to room physically, at the same time, [with] is going to concerts again — me and my all these cool conversations happening,” friends are looking into that,” junior Agnes Wilson said. “But I don't think it has to be Mar said. “I honestly wasn’t a big concert all the time.” This type of class, incorporating both fan, pre-COVID, but … I’m really looking forward to hopefully going to some virtual and in-person teaching, is known as concerts this year because that is something “Blended Learning,” and was first offered

at PAUSD high schools during the 20142015 school year, according to the PAUSD website. This learning model allows students to complete work for certain classes without having to be present in the classroom. However, now that every student is familiar with online learning, some teachers, including Wilson, feel blended learning classes can strive to integrate more virtual elements into their curriculum than they had previously. “People who say everything about Zoom is terrible and everything about in-person is great, or vice versa, are missing the fact that it does not have to be a binary relationship,” Wilson said. “The two can coexist and you can successfully and effectively run a class in which you do some things online.” Cohen voices a similar wish and hopes to use the experience of distance learning to improve flexible learning options in the future, saying: “I think if we can start to use our experience and a little more wisdom, and a little more flexibility to allow high school to look a little bit different to meet different needs, that would be a wonderful thing.” v




AY HIS NAME! George Floyd! Say her name! Breonna Taylor!” Over 10,000 protestors chant in unison, holding painted signs and marching side by side as they fill the streets of downtown Palo Alto on June 6, 2020. Local residents joined millions across the nation to demand justice for the Black community and call for a reevaluation of police departments following several high-profile police brutality cases, including the murders of Floyd and Taylor. As a result, Palo Alto was forced to confront its own history of racial injustice. The Palo Alto City Council adopted a resolution in support of the Black Lives Matter movement and created an initial framework for addressing issues of race and equity reform through five actionable areas approved at the June 15, 2020 council meeting. One year later, the Palo Alto City

16 JUNE 2021

Photo by MYRA XU

Council and Palo Alto Police Department’s actions in response to concerns over racial equity, police brutality and police accountability demonstrate the impacts of last summer’s protests. Police transparency In 2019, resident Julio Arevalo was violently arrested by the PAPD, and consequently won a lawsuit alleging excessive force last year. Following the lawsuit, Human Relations Committee Chair Kaloma Smith said he only found out about the case after it was released through public media. According to Smith, one way to improve transparency in the PAPD is to expand the role of Palo Alto’s Independent Police Auditor, a third-party contractor who conducts audits on internal and citizen-generated police complaints. “I want them [IPA] to get the case files as soon as they come,” Smith said. “I

need investigations to go a lot quicker and I need their results to be released when they are released, not in six months or one year timeframes.” According to IPA Stephen Connolly, who works alongside his partner Mike Gennaco, the IPA releases a report of findings to the public semi-annually, but not immediately after concluding a case audit. While Connolly is satisfied with the current system, he is also aware that changes to the timeline may be necessary. “I think that the dynamic is definitely shifting and the expectation on the city council’s part and the City’s part is that we’re going to be more regularly engaged in reporting out to the public, especially through the council meetings and other opportunities,” Connolly said. Former Santa Clara County deputy public defender and community activist Aram James said the issue of transparency

SILENCE IS COMPLIANCE — A police officer leads protestors down Bryant Street during a June 2020 Black Lives Matter protest. “I think that the job of any police department is to be responsive to the expectations of its community and the changing standards,” Independent Police Auditor Stephen Connolly said. “I hope that happens in Palo Alto.”

Police accountability IPA’s powers to include internal departAlthough the audit process varies case ment complaints, a reversal of a 2019 deby case, Connolly said his team will usually cision to narrow the IPA’s scope to only exbecome aware of an investigation into an ternal public complaints against the PAPD. incident early on in the process. The IPA then consults with the PAPD about their Moving forward findings and recommends disciplinary As the year progresses, community acactions for the police officer in question. tivists, city council members and the PAPD Once the officer has the chance to respond, are looking towards new and improved polthe IPA reviews all the completed investi- icies to address racial equity. gation files to summarize and make recomAccording to PAPD Chief Robert Jonmendations for each case. sen, PAPD hopes to launch a new PsychoHowever, James said he wants the IPA logical Emergency Response Team in partto have the power to discipline and pros- nership with the County Behavioral Health ecute officers because the current model Services Department, which will dispatch a does not guarantee follow-through on the licensed mental health clinician paired with IPA’s recommendaa law enforcetions. The police are there to serve, ment officer to “The Indepenrespond to bedent Police Auditor and we, as a community, havioral health lacks teeth,” James need to ask the hard quescrises. said. “He [IndeThe police pendent Police Au- tions on a regular basis.” department is ditor Mike Gennaalso working — KALOMA SMITH, to implement co] should have the Human Relations Commission Chair ability to subpoena the 2015 Racial witnesses, cross-examine the cops who are and Identity Profiling Act, which requires accused of misconduct, have an investi- CA law enforcement agencies to collect pogator to reinvestigate what the police say lice stop data and report the information to happened … and the absolute ability after the DOJ. The goal of the act is to identify a full investigation to fire bad-acting cops.” racial and identity biases in police departConnolly said he understands the pub- ments, eliminate discriminatory profiling lic skepticism and concern surrounding the and improve diversity and sensitivity in law idea that police have some control through- enforcement. out the process, but thinks the system has “If they’re stopping people for speedmany strengths. ing? Great, ... but if they’re stopping peo“It’s obviously very easy for people to ple for expired registration, I’m interestbecome suspicious and discouraged,” Con- ed in understanding why and how often, nolly said. “So for us to have the opportuni- and thinking about if that’s what we really ty to influence the process while still giving want them spending their time on,” counthe police a lot of responsibility and own- cilmember Alison Cormack said. ership of it, we think that’s a model that is Smith says there needs to be a cultural actually pretty effective.” shift in the department’s approach to transIn an effort to improve police account- parency and accountability to continue the ability, the council voted to expand the progression of better policing in Palo Alto. Independent Police Auditor’s scope to all “Policing your neighborhood is not incidents involving police use-of-force in just about protecting you, it’s also about November 2020 — including disarges of a how people feel in your neighborhood and baton, gun, taser or K-9 unit — regardless how you treat people in your neighborof whether a complaint was filed or not. hood,” Smith said. “The police are there to In April, the Policy & Services Com- serve, and we, as a community, need to ask mittee recommended an extension of the the hard questions on a regular basis.” v

has been further amplified by PAPD’s decision to fully encrypt its primary dispatch channel without notice in January. The encryption is the result of an October 2020 CA Department of Justice memo, which states that transmission of certain Criminal Justice Information and Personally Identifiable Information must be encrypted and limited to authorized personnel. “We went with the path of least resistance and the easiest path, which was just fully encrypting the radio,” councilmember Greer Stone said. “I think full encryption is an overreach and I think questionably unconstitutional as well.” In response to council member inquiries at an April 5 city council meeting, PAPD Captain April Wagner said the City does not currently have enough dispatch center and field officer personnel to manage both an unencrypted and encrypted police channel.


Virtual Growing Pains


18 JUNE 2021



LL CLASSES END the same way: a curt nod from the teacher, a wave of goodbyes from classmates, and a Zoom call of 30 participants disbanded within seconds. Junior Kyoka Hiroshima watches as her classmates’ faces disappear one by one until she is left alone — facing her blank laptop screen. Hiroshima is one of many students experiencing heightened feelings of loneliness and a loss of motivation due to the isolation that has come with the COVID-19 pandemic. With online school playing a key role in increasing seclusion from friends and family, students and experts have shared valuable strategies for making online learning and post-pandemic life easier. Mental health decline The recent lockdown has changed the lives of many, from drastic shifts in daily routines to the mental health of students. Over the past year, Palo Alto High School Sources of Strength club member and senior Sabrina Chan has observed a worsening in students’ stress levels and overall emotional wellbeing. “I do see that there’s [an] overall decline in mental health,” Chan said. “For a lot of people, it [the pandemic] is like this never ending tunnel which can really take a toll on your mental health, especially when you rely on social interactions to help keep your mental health stable.” This change was also noticed by Paly Advanced Placement Psychology teacher Christopher Farina. “Overall, we are seeing an uptick in all kinds of … negative mental health outcomes,” Farina said. “We are seeing more people endorsing symptoms of anxiety

features [and] we are seeing an increase in the num- into normal life. ber of people that are reporting symptoms of depression.” Learning from loneliness Since school transitioned to the disDespite the many hardships faced tance learning format, many students, in- during lockdown, some students have decluding Hiroshima, have experienced the veloped strategies to lessen the impacts wearisome nature of attending hours of of loneliness and improve their overall daily Zoom calls. well-being while in isolation. “We used to have different school days Alternating between school and home everyday, constantly interacting with new during the distance learning format has people and fulfilling our need for social made it difficult for students to distinguish interaction,” Hiroshima said. “Now I can work from relaxation. Farina explained this barely remember what day it is. Every task concept from a psychological standpoint. feels so robotic and it’s so easy … [to] not “We know from psychology that your care about schoolwork because it [has] felt environment dictates a lot of your behavso useless the past 14 months.” ior and your cognition … that if you learn Online learning has also limited op- something in a particular environmental portunities for students to spend time with context you’re best able to retrieve that their friends, further detaching them from information in that same context as well,” the outside world. For Chan, the string of Farina said. “It’s really helpful to be able to Zoom calls has socially confined her within have certain things happen in certain placher own home. es and not others … if “I don’t think I have It’s too early to say you are at your house, even talked with my paryou have your room as ents or my brother that if there will be any a relaxing spot, then much, because we’re just long-term impacts you could have anothall in our different rooms er desk… that is your on calls the whole day,” from the sudden work spot.” Chan said. “It just hit upheaval of normal, While separating me like, wow, this is what spaces may help ease this year has come to — everyday life and some stresses of onjust sitting in my bed- the extended line learning, many room on a call with 20 students experience other people every hour.” isolation.” difficulties that require The extensive isola— ELIZABETH SPECTOR, solutions that extend tion is beginning to raise Mental Health and beyond organization. Wellness coordinator Spector urges those concerns of the possible long term effects of having a tough time to the pandemic on students’ mental health. reach out to a trusted adult and to find proElizabeth Spector, Paly’s Mental Health fessional support as soon as they can. and Wellness coordinator, mentioned the “Sometimes teens worry that their importance of acknowledging anxiety and problems aren’t ‘significant enough’ to wardepression that results from prolonged iso- rant therapy,” Spector said. “I want to dislation. However, both Spector and Farina pel that myth. Everyone can benefit from are unsure of whether these feelings will therapy, and the sooner you reach out, the persist after the lockdown orders are lifted. sooner you are able to address what is going “It’s too early to say if there will be on and gain tools, skills and insights to help any long-term impacts from the sudden you cope.” upheaval of normal, everyday life and the She also reminded students to go at extended isolation,” Spector said. “Social their own pace and check in with themanxiety could increase and we anticipate selves as they readjust to normal life. some short-term impact on social skills for “Have your toolbox of coping skills children, teens and adults alike.” readily available,” Spector said. “By tackling While experts are unsure about how the elements of your anxiety little by little, teenagers will be impacted long-term, teen- and setting small attainable goals, you will age resiliency leads Farina to predict that gain the confidence and skills to be able to most students will be able to readjust back overcome these fears.” v


Semesters in Seclusion Where Are Paly students joining distance learning from?






Living Room


Dining Room





How many people Do Paly students share their learning spaces with?


zero People


Three or more People


Two People


One Person

Disclaimer: Data presented is from an opt-in survey by Verde Magazine of 213 Palo Alto High School students and was collected from May 10 – May 16, 2021 through a digital form published on Schoology pages and Verde social media. Responses were anonymous and did not require all questions to be answered.



through the




ALO ALTO HIGH SCHOOL sophomore Abdullah Naviad recalls kneeling on a patterned prayer rug with six feet of space surrounding him, reciting his prayers in the sun-beaten asphalt lot of the Mountain View Palo Alto Musallah — an unrecognizable scene to pre-pandemic Mosque attendees. Naviad is one of countless people of faith in Silicon Valley whose religious practices have been disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. From shelter-inplace orders to bans on indoor gatherings, COVID-19 safety regulations have restricted the ability of followers of all religions to attend churches and temples, conduct communal prayers and celebrate religious holidays. These restrictions have sparked legal battles and debates in the U.S. over whether the severity of COVID-19 safety regulations should be indiscriminate or flexible to the

20 JUNE 2021

needs of religious practitioners, who may be especially reliant on their faiths during this uncertain and unprecedented time.

“While my religion and the worship that we do is very important, I do not think that churches should be exempt from COVID-19 regulations,” wrote practicing Religious regulations Christian and Palo Alto High School junior Last summer, California Gov. Gavin Harin Kim in an email to Verde. Newsom prohibited indoor worship When California’s ban on indoor services in purplechurch services was tier counties, the lifted, Kim’s church most restrictive of The pandemic is did not rush to return California’s color- something that has to normalcy. coded system based “While our church on COVID-19 impacted us all. We has been allowed to do conditions. In can find hope within in-person sermons, response, numerous we have waited until lawsuits were filed all the turmoil.” it was safe for other challenging the — ELEANOR WANG, senior businesses, such as stringent new restaurants, to have restrictions. people,” Kim wrote. “I In February, the U.S. Supreme Court believe that a physical place is not needed ruled in South Bay United Pentacostal Church in order to take part in worship … It can v. Newsom that California could not enforce be done capably over an online platform.” its ban on indoor church services and had to reduce the severity of the restrictions to Community adaptations the level of essential businesses such as retail Many religious members of the Palo stores and shopping centers. Alto High School community have felt the This case, and the more recent ruling impact of the pandemic on their practices. against California’s restrictions on at-home Naviad’s mosque has adhered to religious gatherings in Tandon v. Newsom, COVID-19 restrictions by holding prayers which took place this April, has spurred in an untraditional location. debate over whether religious services “The prayers are held in the parking lot should be deemed an essential business. outside due to the building being closed,”

Naviad says. “There is a maximum capacity While Kim says she understands the in addition to the usual religion-based of about 50 people who have to pre-register need for virtual services right now, she discussions. “Plenty of synagogues have programs before coming.” stresses the importance of physical presence Paly history teacher Daniel Shelton, and interaction for communal prayer, that have done a lot to make sure that we who identifies as Jewish, says the echoing the thoughts of Shelton and can have this online platform,” Blumenfield says. “For us, it just means that we’re community aspect of Kofman. worship that existed Not having the whole “It was much moving the meeting to online and making before the pandemic better for worship to sure that programming is more engaging to has been lost in the past congregation singing be in person as you an online format.” Paly Christian Club leaders say that year after COVID-19 together takes a lot can feel the presence restrictions have of your fellow sisters moving their club online has improved out of the experience.” and brothers of accessibility to students. limited gatherings. “We are so fortunate to have the “Our synagogue is Christ,” Kim wrote. — DANIEL SHELTON, teacher very singing-based and “I believe that is an technology to continue meeting online,” there’s a lot of choral important part of senior and Christian Club co-President components,” Shelton says. “Not having worship as it is very community-integrated, Eleanor Wong says. “I now use technology the whole congregation singing together and the success of it feeds off the energy of to go to church, do the club and attend my church youth group. So takes a lot out of the experience.” the people.” I think it’s just knowing The loss of the community experience Many studentthat people are still that Shelton laments is a major reason Paly run religious clubs are You really miss the there and that we [are] students and teachers take part in organized also feeling the effects connections.” together.” religious activities, as they provide a sense of the pandemic. While the year has of belonging for many. Despite challenges, — STACEY KOFMAN, teacher been exhausting and Physical education teacher Stacey however, religious tumultuous, Wong says Kofman, a practicing Jew, says religious clubs at Paly like the gatherings can bring together people who Jewish Student Union and the Christian her faith has helped ground her through do not see each other on a regular basis. Club have been continuing to meet hardships. “The pandemic is something that “You really miss the connections, throughout the past year. especially around the High Holy Days Sophomore and Jewish Student Union has impacted us all,” Wong says. “But it’s when you see some of these people that President Arielle Blumenfeld has organized something that we also address a lot as a you normally don’t see throughout the year, new activities as the club has transitioned church. … We can find hope within all the when you sit in a temple,” Kofman says. online including icebreakers and raffles, turmoil.” v




ChallenginG Christianity



N LIFE, WE HIDE the parts of ourselves we don’t want the world to see. We lock them away. We tell them no. We banish them. But here, we don’t.” These are the words that preface singer-songwriter Lil Nas X’s newest music video “MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name),” which was released on March 26. In the video, his voice resonates through his depiction of an iridescent pink Garden of Eden as he lounges under a tree and strums a guitar. As the video progresses, numerous scenes brimming with Christian imagery follow Lil Nas X as he descends into the pits of Hell, concluding with the singer engaging in sexual activities with a character representing Satan. According to Lil Nas X, the video expresses his past experiences with alienation and damnation by Christianity because of his sexuality as a gay man — the words that open the video are representative of Lil Nas X’s struggle with hiding his true identity, and his subsequent self-separation from the Christian faith. The video has reignited an age-old debate between members of the LGBTQ+ community and Christians who believe that the video mocks their religion. Where is the line drawn between remaining respectful towards Christianity and upholding freedom of expression for LGBTQ+ community members? Opinions vary among experts on the history of religion, Palo Alto High School students and other members of the Palo Alto community. Local perspectives Paly sophomore Sam, whose name has been changed to protect his anonymity, appreciates how Lil Nas X overcame the obstacles of his past and empowered his fanbase. “I really enjoyed the story and the use of symbolism in the video,” Sam says. “When I finished watching it, I felt a sense of empowerment, seeing this person who had gone through a lot of hardships be able to own his situation.” Although Sam is able to appreciate the way Lil Nas X portrayed his struggle with religious groups, he still believes that compromise is the best solution. “I think rebelling and disrespecting a religion are different things,” Sam says. “I don’t think disrespecting people will get us as a community anywhere. Many homophobic and transphobic arguments are from people who are miseducated and

22 JUNE 2021

unwilling to listen, so being disrespectful won’t help those people open up and start listening.” In addition to sparking conversation, Lil Nas X’s video has provoked debate on the limits of artistic expression and where the boundaries should be set in respecting other groups. Identifying as transgender and queer, Sam is grateful that Lil Nas X has a platform to speak up and empower others who share similar inclusive spiritual experiences. center that welcomes “The lack of representation of LGBTQ+ people, especially members of all religions, queer people of color, is appalling,” Sam says. “Throughout hissays that Unity is taking tory, Christianity hasn’t been challenged that much. The irony is conscious steps to be inclusive and that LGBTQ+ people have always had their rights up for debate.” help heal the divide between reSophomore Evie Barclay has gained an appreciation for the ligious groups and the LGBTQ+ music video as a Protestant Christian, while also questioning the community. way modern-day culture has influenced the final product. “Everyone has sacred worth, “Something I think about a lot is the pursuit of Christ versus and if we can look at each other the pursuit of culture,” Barclay says. “And when I watched this from a spiritual perspective, we would b e music video, I was very aware of how culturally influenced it was.” more inclusive, accepting and honor each other, inBarclay believes that those who use Christianity as a means to cluding our sexual orientation and gender identification,” Riley be bigoted or homophobic, as Lil Nas X has experienced, are re- says. “The way we move forward to try and support bridging that ally just using religious doctrine to project gap is by publicly supporting different their own hatred. activities or organizations that support “Any manipulation of any religious Manipulation of any relithe LGBTQ+ community.” doctrine for the sake of self-justification Stanford University professor and gious doctrine for the sake or the justification of hate is arguably very historian Laura Stokes is hopeful about anti-religious,” Barclay says. “Christianity of self-justification or the the future of acceptance in religious is not about bringing down other people, and believes that the justification of hate is argu- communities, it’s about following Christ and lifting up world is on the brink of huge growth toably very anti-religious.” others.” wards acceptance. Sophomore and Queer-Straight Alli“I actually do feel optimistic, and — EVIE BARCLAY, sophomore part of my optimism is about the fact ance Club member Sophia Vostrejs echoes many of Barclay’s sentiments. that I’m a historian,” Stokes says. “As a “Christianity and religion, in general, can be used to bring historian, I think a lot about the shape of history. And I think that people together, and some people use it as a way to hate, but it my period of history and our period of history are on the two ends should be a good thing and not something that we fear,” Vostrejs of the tight part of that curve. We’re shifting into a kind of a radical says. “We should definitely recognize that some people in all reli- change, and then we’ll reach a new kind of balance.” gions use their religion as a way to solidify their own hate.” Riley feels a similar sense of hope and believes that the differAs a member of the LGBTQ+ community, Vostrejs says she ences between communities can be reconciled. can appreciate and sympathize with how Lil Nas X empowers him“Coming from a religious background that’s on the forefront self in his music video, especially through the imagery of him will- of accepting people, I have great hope and faith that we’ll be able to ingly going to Hell. continue to move in that [positive] direction,” Riley says. “There’s “We’re often told, ‘You’re going to Hell because you’re a sin- a lot of anger that’s being expressed right now in the world. And ner,’ and instead of letting them [some religious people] strike fear what I see is when that anger comes bubbling into us, people are starting to use it [the idea of going to Hell] up, it gives us an opportunity to have almost as a joke,” Vostrejs says. “That threat isn’t a threat. ... I think a dialogue about it. It’s important that’s part of what Lil Nas X did.” for us to bring it [discussion] to the forefront, coming from Bridging the gap a space of love, so that Despite the divides that have existed between organized re- we can bring anger ligion and the LGBTQ+ community, some religious leaders are out to be healed taking steps to repair the relationship and welcome diverse practi- and so that we tioners to take part in faith traditions. can move forThe Rev. John Riley, spiritual director of Unity Palo Alto, an ward.” v



Additional reporting by OLIVIA MILNE


on a mission


BUSINESS BEGININGS — Musubi is a childhood favorite treat of sophomore Owen Fong’s, who started Musuboy last fall as a way to raise funds for charity. “At old family gatherings with a lot of my extended family, there used to be some family members who would bring over their own [musubi],” Fong says. “I thought to myself, you know what, I think I could do that.” Photo: Owen Fong

24 JUNE 2021



MUSUBI MONDAYS — Musuboy has been open for business since last fall, offering a range of flavors made with allergy-friendly ingredients. “For a lot of people, if they have celiac disease or a soy allergy, it can be really tough to find spam musubi they can eat,” Fong says. Photos: Owen Fong


YES SQUINTING in careful taking input from family members. concentration, Henry M. Gunn “When coming up with flavors, it was High School sophomore Owen mostly me talking with my dad and trying Fong works to figure out a way to quickly and expertly; he make it [musubi] both flips spam in sizzling oil It makes me happy simple and also realand finishes each piece ly good,” Fong says. off with a generous that I can help other “Sometimes my family slather of teriyaki sauce. people out through helps with prep cookAfter tucking each freshing as well, especially ly-fried slice into a bed this little business.” when I have a large of furikake-freckled rice, amount of orders.” — OWEN FONG, sophomore he rolls everything up in Fong describes salty, toasted seaweed. It’s his family as being exbarely 6 a.m. and while students all over tremely supportive throughout the process, town continue to snooze, Fong is already his mom even pitching in as Musuboy’s out the door, homemade musubi in hand designated delivery driver. Every Monday and ready for delivery. morning, they set out together to deliver This is a typical Monday morning for Fong’s treats before class. Fong, who began making and selling mu“When there are so many orders, it subi from his kitchen last fall. The iconic means I sometimes wake up pretty early,” Hawaiian snack consists of spam or egg Fong says. “Even though it’s a 10 a.m. start wrapped up in rice and nori and is a long- time [at school], I might have to leave at time favorite of Fong and his family. around 6 a.m. to get started with everything.” Musubi memories Following school closures last year, A musubi menu Fong developed Musuboy as a way to raise Fong developed his menu to be acfunds for charity and share his childhood commodating to every dietary need. He favorite treat with others. uses gluten-free and soy-free teriyaki sauce “At old family gatherings with a lot of and provides an egg-based vegetarian opmy extended family, there used to be some tion as an alternative to the spam classic. family members who would bring over “I’ve tried to make sure that a lot of their own [musubi],” Fong says. “I thought this stuff is okay for people with dietary reto myself, you know what, I think I could strictions,” Fong says. “For a lot of people, do that.” if they have celiac disease or a soy allergy, Fong began making musubi four years it can be really tough to find spam musubi ago for family potlucks, perfecting his tech- they can eat.” nique through observing other recipes and Currently, Musuboy’s menu consists

of three musubi staples: spam, egg, and a spam egg combo. Each flavor is also offered in a spicy version, with Shichimi pepper flakes adding an extra element of heat. Chowing for charity Since the beginning, one of Fong’s main goals for Musuboy was to give back to the community. Each month, Fong picks a new charity to donate Musuboy’s proceeds to. His decisions are informed by current events and recent issues facing the Bay Area. “I do a lot of research,” Fong says. “When I picked American Red Cross, that was in response to the fires. Most recently, I picked the Heart of Dinner charity this month because of the attacks on Asian American and Pacific Islander people.” Future pursuits Looking ahead, Fong is unsure how Musuboy will evolve as schools begin to transition back into in-person instruction and earlier start times. “Maybe it would be something that moves into the weekends, maybe it’ll just be something for school breaks,” Fong says. “It’s something that I’ve been thinking about, but I don’t necessarily have a super clear idea about yet.” For now, Fong continues to enjoy serving his community and supporting local charities with his delicious, seaweed-wrapped treats. “It makes me happy to make food for other people and for people to enjoy it,” Fong says. “It also makes me happy that I can help other people out through this little business.” v







OU CAN TELL if someone is an experienced AP reader by what they are wearing,” Palo Alto High School math teacher and AP Calculus grader Steve Marsheck says. “The temperature is always kept really cold to keep the people awake.” Each June, thousands of teachers from across America gather together to score Advanced Placement examinations in huge convention centers rented out by the College Board. Described by Marsheck as reminiscent of a Costco, these convention centers run like factories. Every couple of hours, someone comes by to signal break time, and AP readers shuffle out like frenzied ants to make the most of their short break before returning to grade. The College Board sets up four convention centers at the beginning of each summer, with two one-week grading sessions at each center. Within each center, the College Board separates AP readers into sections based on subjects, which are then broken down into individual rooms of approximately 20 graders. “There were around 800 people — and that’s just the people grading calculus.” Marsheck says. “Where I was, calculus was probably the biggest group. Down the hall, there was bio, which was smaller. They had maybe 300 to 400 people.” According to College Board,

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as AP readers grade free-response questions, derie with other teachers from across the table leaders check and verify their scores to country helps him enjoy the monotonous, ensure fairness and accuracy. Each question labor-intensive process. is read by two readers, and if there is a dis“Each room has a number and you crepancy between the scores, the table lead- start identifying with your number and ers can override the scores. This method of the people you’re grading with,” Marsheck backreading, where says. “For a week tests are scored mulstraight, you’re tiple times, helps When you see so many eating meals with maintain consistenthem and you samples of student recy and ensure that are taking breaks the score a student sponses... it helps you, as a with them, so receives does not you develop teacher, to know what to depend on who friendships with help students aim for.” grades their test. people from all “At the scoring over the country. — KEVIN DUFFY, AP Spanish teacher and grader It’s so interesting table, you grade in pairs,” Paly AP to talk to people Spanish teacher during lunch and and grader Kevin Duffy says. “You get to learn what it’s like teaching in the middle of have really great conversations about the rural Tennessee.” responses and how they fit in with the ruMost of the AP test grading remains bric.” the same year after year, but accumulatWith more than four million AP tests ing the experience of being an AP reader taken every year and over 25 subjects grad- significantly helps AP teachers adjust their ed by hand, several thousand teachers work own curricula, Duffy says. from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., only stopping for “When you see so many samples of lunch and short breaks, for seven consecu- student responses, evaluate them and meative days, according to the College Board. sure them to the rubric, it helps you, as a “You have this big giant box of tests teacher, to know what to help students aim and inside this box you will have 50 fold- for,” Duffy says. “You can point students ers,” Marsheck says. “Each folder has 25 in the direction and be like ‘Focus on this, tests in it. So you go up and you grab ignore this.’” a folder, you sit back down. You grade Although the AP test grading system that folder. You put that folder back, and can be harsh and grading these tests is very then you grade another folder. You are time-consuming, ultimately the core of bejust cranking through a big ing an AP grader is to better understand the pile of papers, hours after course and help their students reach success. hours.” “There is no other way of having the While grading chance to sample that many responses, and can be exhausting, you get a really good idea of what qualiMarsheck says the ty responses are versus responses that are camara- below the standard,” Duffy says. “It helps you develop a backward plan and think, ‘I know what the endpoint is. Now I have a much better idea of how to help my students meet that standard or exceed it.’” v

profiles Text by TIMOTHY HUNG and TARA KOTHARI


Photo by EMMA WU




N A VIDEO SHARED TO HIS INSTAGRAM account, Palo Alto High School senior Matthew Caren begins to strum a funk riff on his crimson-colored guitar. The video cuts to a clip of him introducing a lively beat on an electronic drum pad. Suddenly, a cascade of jazzy notes rush in from a piano, eventually combining with a relaxing guitar solo. Being one of the most musically inclined students in the Class of 2021, Caren spoke with us about his unique instruments, composing and his musical journey. Here is what he had to say. v 1. When did you become interested in music and what sparked your interest? Honestly, I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t in love with music. I remember being really little — maybe three or four­— and stealing pots and pans from the kitchen to drum on in the living room. 2. Which instruments do you play? My main instruments are piano, guitar and drums, and I sing a bit too. I’m always trying to get my hands on new instruments to learn, though, so I’ve picked up a lot of random instruments, from the mandolin to the ocarina to all sorts of percussion. 3. Was it difficult to learn how to play multiple instruments? After you learn the first few instruments, there start to be so many similarities between instruments. There are tons of instruments with keyboards — piano, organ, melodica, synthesizers. There’s a lot of overlap between all sorts of guitars — electric and acoustic, bass, mandolin, ukulele. It’s really just different flavors of translating ideas in your head into sound. 4. What is your favorite part of being in AP Music Theory? I’m much more familiar with the jazz side of music theory, so being in AP

Music Theory has been really interesting to learn the classical point of view. The two perspectives are simultaneously very similar and quite different — they’ll both look at a situation and come to the same conclusion about which notes or chords are appropriate, but have two completely different lines of reasoning for why that is. 5. Walk us through your music composition process. For me, composing music really just comes from a desire to explore — a cool snippet of a melody, a new sound, an interesting rhythm. Sometimes it’s more conscious or deliberate, when I’m actively trying to develop an idea, and sometimes I’m not thinking about it at all, just seeing where things take me. Even away from any instruments, I’m always experimenting and playing with music in the back of my head. 6. Is there a specific type of music that you like composing the most? I truly love writing in all styles, and I think there’s also a lot more stealing and borrowing between genres than people realize. Different types of music sound different on the outside but it’s really all the same ideas on the inside making it tick. 7. What do you love the most about music and composition? I’ve never been that attracted to playing songs exactly the same every time — I start to feel a bit too much like a human CD player. I find it so much more liberating to take a song and rearrange and reimagine it, or even better just compose something completely new. Composition and improvisation are really freeing and I think that creative and exploratory spirit is really why I love music so much. RADIANTLY RED — Senior Matthew Caren smiles as he strums his guitar. “Composition and improvisation are freeing and I think that creative and exploratory spirit is why I love music so much,” Caren says.






RIBBLING IT WITH her field hockey stick, Palo Alto High School senior Alexa Gwyn darts down the field to the opposing team’s goal. The video shows her teammates following and supporting her, working in tandem after years of playing together. She takes a deep breath, looks at the opposing team’s goalie and shoots, scoring the point. Along with fellow seniors Hallie Faust, Madeline Lohse and Dasha Vartanova, Gwyn began playing field hockey for Paly during the girl’s field hockey team’s inaugural season in 2019. When Gwyn moved from Australia in middle school, she was determined to continue playing her favorite sport. “I’ve been playing field hockey since third grade,” Gwyn said. “So when my

mom said that we might be moving to “I started a petition, and we got a America, I told her that I would move only bunch of people to sign it,” Gwyn said. if there was field hockey because I loved it.” “And then I started a club, and we got the Although there were club teams that A.D. [Athletic Director] involved.” Gwyn could join when Soon an opporshe first moved, Paly It was a relief to learn tunity arose to indid not have a girl’s a new girl’s alongside others rather troduce field hockey team. sport. With many costs for a than feel like I had to “Title nine states coach, equipment and that if you introduce catch up to everyone uniforms, the process just a boy’s sport, you to establish a team was else.” must also introduce — HALLIE FAUST, senior a girl sport,” Gwyn complicated. However, the Athletic Departsaid. “When boy’s ment told her that they would consider volleyball was added, they needed anothher proposal if she could find students who er girl sport. And so we got to instate field were interested. hockey.” Gwyn was not intimidated by the challenge and began the process of creating Starting new a team her sophomore year. During the team’s first season, few players had experience in the sport. However, senior Hallie Faust says that the lack of prior exposure made it easier to enjoy being a part of the team. “Without so many high expectations and so much pressure and competition, the whole sport was much more enjoyable,” Faust said. “It was a relief to learn alongside others rather than feel like I had to catch up to everyone else.” Like Faust, senior Madeline Lohse said she believes the lack of experience was beneficial in uniting the team during their first

HUDDLE UP — The Paly Girls’ Field Hockey team meets before their big game against Valley ChristianHigh School. Paly won, 5-0. “It’s just so awesome to look back at our first year and think about how we took our record of losing almost every game and basically inverted it,” senior Hallie Faust said.

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DRIBBLE AND PASS — Senior Alexa Gwyn sets up a pass for a fellow teammate in a home game against Valley Christian High School. The game was one of their eight wins this 2021 season. “Our chemistry imrpoved because we stopped being so focused on our own playing,” Gwyn said. “We started focusing on the way the team was playing as one, which was really awesome to see.”

season. and teamwork paid off in the 2021 season, “Working with a team with so many which was their best season in three years people that have never with an 8-1 record. played before was com“It becomes reforting in a way be- We knew where each ally obvious when a cause everyone was on other were at every team’s improving,” the same boat,” Lohse Gwyn said. “You see said. “Overall, I think point in the game it in the scoreboard, it made it ... more com- and that’s why I think but also in the chemmunity-like in the beistry of the players. we won a lot of our ginning.” We knew where each other were at every games.” — ALEXA GWYN, senior point in the game More than a score Throughout the and that’s why I years of learning and playing together, the think we won a lot of our games.” team has evolved into a close-knit commuGwyn says a major contributor to the nity. team’s success and camaraderie has been “We’ve grown so much as a team, not Head Coach Jenny Crane, a former field only on the field but also off the field,” hockey player at the University of CaliforFaust said. “There’s a special bond with the nia, Berkeley. group since we all were fairly new to the “Her focus was less on winning, and sport and it’s great to see how much closer was way more on character,” Gwyn said. we’ve gotten over the years.” “She says that if we win a game, but you’re The players’ hard work, dedication really rude to the other team or aggressive

and pushing other kids around, she doesn’t count that as a win. I think in her doing that, she taught us valuable skills about what it means to be a team.” Future plans While Faust and Lohse are not planning to continue playing field hockey after high school, Gwyn will be taking what she learned at Paly to her team at Vassar College. “I think one reason why I chose Vassar is the coach,” Gwyn said. “It’s a collegiate team, of course they want to win. But, he said that he builds his team off character, and I immediately thought of Jenny.” Even though Faust has played her final game and said goodbye to her fellow teammates, she will continue to root for her team. “I really look forward to hearing about all the great things the team will do in the future,” Faust said. “I feel so grateful to have been a part of the inaugural team.” v



LOVE FOR LEGOS — Palo Alto High School teacher Randy Scilingo happily looks at his online Etsy store where he sells handcrafted LEGO minifigures. “I really like it when people leave their ratings and they leave comments,” Scilingo said. “I've had a few people just say I really enjoy your passion for creating things because your imagination goes wild.”

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S HE CAREFULLY HOLDS a LEGO replica of a medieval helmet the size of a bottle cap, Palo Alto High School anatomy and biology teacher Randy Scilingo delicately brushes another layer of paint across the armor. While balancing teaching and time with his family, Scilingo has been able to indulge in a unique pastime: crafting his own LEGO minifigures. Scilingo uses resin printing to form these LEGO figurines and accessories. He then uses layers of stickers and different types of paint to make the minifigures more detailed and realistic — from soldiers dressed in Ancient Egyptian clothing to knights in Spartan armor. Building beginnings Scilingo began making his custom LEGO minifigures in 2005 and first sold them in 2007. However, his passion for collecting began years earlier after finding websites that sold such collectibles online. “I got clued into this whole LEGO customizing hobby 20 years ago and I was just fascinated by crazy pictures of some little [LEGO] knights and stuff,” Scilingo said. “So I just started researching, trying to figure out how these LEGO customizers were doing this and started trying to make them myself.” After a prominent custom minifigure creator ceased production, Scilingo attempted to recreate their high-quality figurines. “In the early 2000s, there was this one guy who created this little store,” Scilingo said. “The minifigures were incredibly authentic, perfectly proportional ... and realistic looking, with castle weapons and armor and helmets. … I've been working to reverse engineer these little parts.” Scilingo originally sold his minifigures on eBay to make back the money he had previously spent on collecting LEGOs himself, but he later switched to Etsy where he saw his business grow exponentially. As his business has grown, Scilingo has been able to invest more money so that he can produce minifigures more efficiently in order to allow LEGO enthusiasts like himself to expand their collections “Eventually I want to injection-mold these [minifigures] and start selling them to replenish the world's supply, which a ton of weirdos like me really want,” Scilingo said.



“It's an adventure and an odyssey, and I'm tripping out that nobody's done it yet.” Because Scilingo’s minifigures are such high-quality and in limited supply, his clientele spans the entire globe. “There’s a gentleman in Korea, a couple in Europe, one in Canada and this guy in New York who have bought a lot of my stuff,” Scilingo said. “And these people, … they're so excited to get these parts created.” Scilingo spreads his passion and gratitude for his creations to his loyal customers and the custom LEGO artist community. “It's incredible how many discussions and message strings I've had having fun [and] getting to know people, which is just totally unexpected,” Scilingo said. “I have never sent out any of these things that are sold without writing a personal note on a card.” Scilingo also believes customer satisfaction and generosity are the most important aspects of running his business. “For those who are repeat customers, there are quite a few times where I've sent out little bonus items, … like an entire new minifigure or a brand new thing that I haven't done yet,” Scilingo said. “That's something that my sons [say] — ‘you're just wasting money on it.’ I know. But, … customer satisfaction is the goal.” Piecing it together Throughout this entire journey, however, Scilingo says that the most valuable asset he has gained has been the time working on his hobby with his family. “My kids have kind of gotten involved so … [that is] one of my favorite parts,” Scilingo said. “My son helps me paint … [and] my daughters have helped me cut out stickers and apply stickers.” Scilingo hopes to continue growing his business while pursuing his passion for his family and teaching. “I only have so much time to expand on this [business] since I’ve got three kids to raise and a wife to love,” Scilingo said. “Teaching is my passion, I love teaching biology and anatomy. We've got a lot of big families that we spent a lot of time with … so there's only so much bandwidth and time but I love doing this so much.” v Visit Scilingo's store: shop/CustomLEGOWarriors




NAVIGATING to the navy



a medical exam, pass an intensive physical academies provide many benefits that tratest and conduct a lengthy interview with a ditional colleges do not. selection panel. “For [the] Naval Academy, it is free According to Paly senior and United tuition, and they pay for things like your States Naval Academy recruit Anthony Ha, board, your uniforms, food … literally evthese interviews require significant prepara- erything,” Bernas says. tion. Bernas recommends that interested “It’s a pretty competitive process,” Ha students do plenty of research about what says. “During the interviews, there were studying at the service academy entails, esaround five people asking me questions and pecially concerning its rigid structure. examining my record. It was really tough.” “You have to realize … you’re gonna Aspiring military academy students have to be really disciplined in terms of must also pass a strenuous physical fitness your time management,” Bernas says. “You test to be considered have to decide if you for admission. The test I spent a lot of time can really live in that is divided into six segvery structured kind ments — a basketball searching for a career of school, because throw, a shuttle run, a that I’d be proud of ... [at] most colleges, mile run, sit-ups, pushyou have so much the military really res- freedom.” ups and pull-ups. Though the mili- onated with me.” Ha hopes that tary pathway was not future Paly graduates — ANTHONY HA, senior consider the Naval originally in the cards for Ha, he was inspired Academy as a potento explore other options after watching a tial pathway and educate themselves about Road to admission family friend graduate from the U.S. Naval its many benefits. However, Ha advises The stakes were high for Bernas to Academy. prospective students to also be cognizant of receive Congresswoman Eshoo’s endorse“Conforming to this [Silicon Valley] all that the military school and mandated ment; military academies in the United culture, attending cookie cutter schools service entails. States require stuand wading into “There are a lot of great things about dents to earn a rec- It’s definitely going to a tech start-up it, but you do not go to the school just ommendation from never appealed to for the benefits,” Ha says. “You go to the either a member help me develop in terms me,” Ha says. “I school because you want to be an officer in of Congress or the of my character and dispent a lot of time the Navy, or because you want to be a pilot. vice president of the searching for a You have to really center your desire around United States to ap- sipline. They develop you career that I’d be that.” ply. proud of and that as a leader.” Applying to I would want to After the academy — ANDREW BERNAS, senior work hard in, and military school also Initially, Bernas was inspired to apply requires a certain I discovered that to military school because of the many caamount of foresight. Along with the recom- the military really resonated with me.” reer options available after the program. mendation from a congressperson, appliAlong with the opportunity to serve Bernas recalls that when he was in sevcants must attend summer programs, pass the country in the armed forces, military enth grade, he had the opportunity to visS THE LAST BELL OF THE school day rang, Palo Alto High School senior Andrew Bernas anxiously checked his phone, noticing he had multiple missed calls from an unidentified number. When this mysterious caller rang him again, Bernas recalls answering, unsure of who to expect on the other end of the line. To his surprise, the voice that greeted him belonged to none other than California Congresswoman Anna Eshoo. Bernas was thrilled, knowing that there could only be one reason for this call: his acceptance to the United States Naval Academy. Although most high school students work towards the traditional college experience, Bernas is one of relatively few who will enter the armed forces. Going into the military is an alternative for students looking for an uncommon post-high school plan, but potential recruits like Bernas face many challenges unique to the extensive military application process.

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profiles it Cape Canaveral — a site where United States rockets are launched. The highlight of his visit was meeting astronaut Wendy B. Lawrence, an alumna from the United States Naval Academy. “I got really interested in a lot of the astronauts and reading about their stories and how … many of them started in the military,” Bernas says. “That was really inspiring. I have always considered them [astronauts] as my role models.” Bernas says his first choice for his five years of mandatory service after he graduates is to be a part of Explosive Ordinance Disposal. According to the United States Navy website, this specialization involves the disposal of chemical, biological and nuclear weaponry. Ha is considering several different options. The military pathway provides an opportunity to be eligible for many different careers. Graduates can become a military officer, a Navy SEAL, a pilot or a member of the Marine Corps. “I’ve been looking into becoming a pilot in the Navy, but that’s not official, obviously,” Ha says. “I’ll either become a pilot, or I’ll be working as a surface warfare officer, which is directing aircraft carriers and other destroyers.” Bernas also hopes that the program will help him to grow as a person. “I did more and more research about the school and realized it’s going to definitely help me develop a lot in terms of my character and discipline,” Bernas says. “They develop you as a leader.” Ultimately, although choosing the military pathway is an unconventional and time-intensive post-graduation plan, Ha believes it will provide a community and experience that will help him strengthen his character by serving others. In his admissions essay submitted to the United States Naval Academy, Ha recounted an experience he had during his Naval Academy Candidate visit that highlighted the role that community has in military service. “Tragically, on the day I attended, a member of the brigade passed away,” Ha wrote. “The brigade supported one another. Through this tragedy, I witnessed the bond and respect that each midshipman forged with each other. Being part of the academy is to join a family united to serve other people.” v


ACADEMY BOUND — U.S. Naval Academy recruit and Paly senior Andrew Bernas smiles while wearing his academy t-shirt. After undergoing the difficult and lengthy application, Bernas says that his favorite part of the process was receiving the acceptance call from Congresswoman Anna Eshoo. “That was definitely the most rewarding [part of the experience] and it was quite emotional.” Photo: Emma Wu



Photo by EMILY YAO

A change of scenery



HILE MOST students were scrolling through their phones at home, junior Nicholas Shinghal spent his afternoons herding baby pigs in his backyard. The piglets hated being picked up, so the only way to get them back into their pen was by chasing the tiny piglets back into the garage where Shinghal and his family took care of them until they grew enough to be moved onto their farm. The increased screen time and seclusion has led many to seek an escape from technology and to disconnect from the overwhelming reality of the pandemic. A few Palo Alto High School families, such as Shinghal’s, have renewed their connection with nature by stepping back from subur-

ban Palo Alto life and spending time on family-owned farms. v

“I think it has been an important experience for us to not only connect with the farm and ... our time up there, .... but also having a communal family project to work on,” Shinghal said.

Frog Dog Farms Frog Dog Farms — a 13-acre farm in Petaluma — is the Shinghal family’s passion project established in November of Anderson Orchards last year. Anderson Orchards, a 60-acre lot “My mom has growing peaches and alalways been into an- We wanted our farm monds in Butte Counimals, and the farm ty, has been owned by is an opportunity to to have a positive senior Senja Johnson’s get away from the impact on the envifamily for over 100 commotion of Palo years. While Johnson Alto, … enjoy na- ronment, rather than usually visits in the ture and give back a negative one just for summer, she prolonged to it by maintaining her stay at the orchard the land and the ani- our enjoyment.” during the pandemic. mals on it,” Shinghal “When COVID — NICHOLAS SHINGHAL, junior started, I just went there said. The farm is curbecause there were ... rently home to pigs, chickens, goats, ducks only two COVID cases there as opposed and geese, and Shinghal’s family hopes to to the Bay Area, where there were way eventually add miniature cows and sheep to more,” Johnson said. “I lived there for three the menagerie. months [with my family].” One of the Shinghal family’s main Johnson said upkeep for the orchard is goals when was to ensure its sustainabil- not easy, and requires year-round mainteity and guarantee that their endeav- nance and preparation for the busy summer ors were in harmony with existing season, during which she helps harvest the wildlife in the area while con- orchard’s peaches and almonds alongside tributing back to the natural her cousins and the farm’s staff. ecosystem. According to Johnson, being on the “We wanted our farm orchard has lessened her dependency on to have a positive impact her connection to her phone and the Interon the environment, net. While she does not completely go off rather than a negative the grid, Johnson says being in nature with one just for our enjoy- her family helps her take a step back from ment,” Shinghal said. her electronics. Shinghal values “I don’t have a whole lot of interest in the time and effort spent my phone or my computer [when I am on building up the farm and the farm],” Johnson said. “I definitely like appreciates how the farm to disconnect more.” has encouraged him to connect Additional reporting by with his family in a new way. Emily Yao and Antonia Mou

HEN OUT OF THE PEN — Junior Nicholas Shinghal’s mom Jennnifer Chan holds a chicken in their backyard. “Tending to various animals here, like the chickens and bees, has taught us how to manage them, so it’s certainly made creating the farm a lot easier,” Shinghal said.

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Text and photos by AVERY HANNA



SLICING AND DICING — My mom, Sonya Hanna, juliennes carrots and prepares other vegetables for Singapore noodles, while cooking class instructor Ashvee Kanwar gives directions over Zoom on the computer in the background. “With the lockdown, I was actually doing a lot more cooking for my family,” Kanwar says. “I wanted to share those family meals.”

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IL CRACKLES and a spice-laden aroma sizzles to life as I flip small cubes of tofu in a pan. Behind me, my mom slices basil to top the dish we are preparing and laughs about how we almost ruined the meal at least three times. The rhythmic chopping of her knife and the sputtering of the frying pan are accompanied by chatter and instructions from the computer propped up at the corner of our counter — blending into a kitchen cacophony. Over Zoom, cooking class instructor Ashvee Kanwar has guided me and my mom, as well as our fellow cooking class participants, through preparing delicious vegetarian dishes from lemongrass tofu to pav bhaji. Hers is one of many online cooking classes that have popped up during the pandemic to satisfy people’s desire to diversify their dining options even with so many restaurants shut down. Ever since my mom signed us up for our first Nibble n’ Gobble cooking class in January to add something new to our quarantine routine, cooking Zooms have become something of a Sunday tradition. Each cooking class experience starts in a somewhat unexpected way: with a trip to the park. A small grassy lot in Mountain View serves as the distribution location where Kanwar sets up shop to pass out the goods needed for each week’s meal. The convenience of the pick up system allows for my family to indulge in ingredients

CAMARADERIE we generally don’t have stocked up in the For example, when Kanwar told us fridge, since Kanwar aims to include dishes to add the rest of our coconut milk to our from many countries and cultures. Kerala veg stew, my mom and I turned to “We were all stuck at home sheltering each other wide-eyed with the realization in place,” Kanwar says. “The idea was to that we had added all our coconut milk as travel via your plate.” part of the first step. Later in the evening, a group of With every mistake — from the simple around 15 families log onto Zoom and get to the more serious — Kanwar was there to to chopping, mixing, grinding and frying. reassure us our dish would survive or walk At this point in the pandemic, most every- us through some emergency operations. one has adapted to virtual events, and while But while our problems were varied, the off-hand chatting isn’t quite what it would one constant in all of our errors was that be in an in-person setting, the class runs they were followed by howls of laughter. smoothly with a constant stream of ques- And that above all is the joy of cooking — tions and directions. second only, perhaps, to the joy of eating. “I was a little skeptical about making The 90-minute classes end with smilconnections on Zoom, but it has worked so ing faces and waves goodbye before closwell,” Kanwar says. “We have a little com- ing the computer lid and digging into the munity going now. … There are a couple beautiful plate of steaming food sitting in of families who have been cooking with me front of you — that is, if you have more right from the beginning.” patience than me and haven’t already been If there’s ever a lull in the conversation, stealing bites for the last 20 minutes. Kanwar steps in to share the history of the While Kanwar misses seeing people’s dish — like how Singapore noodles origi- live reactions to tasting their food and nated in Hong Kong — or to tell us about eating as a group, she notes that the ather personal experihome element has ence with the food We were all stuck at quite a few benefits from her travels. and plans to continAnything that home sheltering in place ue the online class may be lost in com- ... The idea was to travel post-pandemic. munity small talk is “They [class parmore than made up via your plate.” ticipants] are making —ASHVEE KANWAR, for in my laughter it all by themselves, cooking class instructor and discussion with that gives them the my mom. From the confidence of hansafety of our own kitchen with our micro- dling the ingredients, asking questions, phone on mute, we are free to make nu- using all their senses to actually experience merous mistakes and laugh at our culinary what they are making and then sharing the incompetence without embarrassment. meal with their family,” she says. And yes, we have certainly made our Sitting down with my family at the fair share of mistakes. With sauces mixing, end of a class and sharing the stories she veggies sautéing and tofu marinating, it is told and the food we made makes for a all too easy to get a little lost. A cooking bright end to the weekend. And in a year class presents the problem of keeping up as, where monotony has become the norm, unlike a video tutorial, there is no pause or these delicious dishes and the experiences rewind button, and unlike a recipe, things that come with them add spice to our recikeep moving, even when you don’t. pe books and our days. v

LEMONGRASS TOFU — Soft and nutty, the tofu strikes a harmony of lemongrass, garlic and chili combining into a gentle overall taste. The onions and shallots lend depth, having soaked up the rich flavors more so than the tofu. As a complement and contrast, the peanuts add crunch to the otherwise soft textures, while basil brightens the dish.

ALOO TIKKI CHOLE — This dish is a culinary work of art with layers of flavors and texture from aloo tikki, chole, sweet chutney, mint chutney, red onions, cilantro and sev. The disk-shaped, spice-laden potato base of aloo tikki serves as a hearty ground to the meal with a light crunch and a soft, warm inside. The warmth is accompanied by a gentle but noticeable heat from the myriad spices of the chickpea curry called chole — accented by the punch of sweet chutney. On top, red onions and cilantro bring the freshness demanded by the heavier potato base.









NOW-CAPPED MOUNTAINS, towering thousands of feet above, shimmer against the light of the sun, their reflection projected with mirror-like accuracy onto the serene, Cerulean waters of the surrounding lake. A small village sprinkled with houses in myriad colors, from cobalt blue to barn red, is visible just across the shore, resting under the shadows of the mountain range. In this desolate slice of natural paradise with the occasional car zooming by, you are at peace. “I think it might be Oklahoma!” your friend says with utter confidence. You roll your eyes in disgust; they are obviously wrong. You stare unblinking and wide-eyed at the computer screen, navigating through the ethereal mountain landscape through short bursts of key clicks and magnification. You hope you’ll find a sliver of a hint as to where on Earth you are through signs and road markings — these are all classic tactics of Geoguessr, a web-based game that allows players to digitally trot the globe. As part of the game, players are spawned at a random location on the globe, from the heart of a bustling city to a desolate country road, and must pinpoint their location on a world map, a challenging but rewarding task. You’re probably feeling put off — what is this, a game for geography nerds? You’ll be relieved to know that we felt this way in the beginning as well. But as avid travelers, the global pandemic has severely limited our ability to visit captivating destinations anywhere, leaving Geoguessr as a good alternative. In other words, we’ll take what we can get. Here are some of our personal favorite Geoguessr finds, (mostly) oases of beauty and wonder in the middle of cornfields and cows, as well as favorite destinations that we’ve explored to ease the monotony of our present, sedentary lives. v Quilotoa Lake, Ecuador You should feel lucky to enjoy this destination: spawned at a beautiful scenic viewpoint thousands of feet above the caldera formed by a collapsing volcano, you’ve essentially skipped all the hard work. For most, a strenuous multi-day trek would be required to observe the shockingly vibrant blue-green waters of Quilotoa Lake. For us, the equally strenuous journey consisted of the herculean effort to arise from our beds and open our computers. Normally, a tourist would have the luxury to spend several

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days venturing to the edge of the lake and enjoying the natural beauty up-close. Sadly, through the computer screen, one is only able to pace the hundred feet above the lake. Vienna, Austria One of the more well-visited destinations on this list, Vienna is an easily navigable and open city. Driving past Baroque-style apartment buildings and gardens of blooming roses, it might feel like you’re in the city itself. And if you stretch your imagination far enough, you can almost smell the fragrance of fresh flower gardens, notice the sweet aroma of baking strudel and hear the faint melody of a world-famous orchestra serenading you with operatic tunes. Safdarjung Tomb, New Delhi, India At first glance, this sandstone monument feels imposing with its domed, arched structures. Walking the grounds of the monument, however, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the spaciousness and warm colors of its many rooms. Built almost three centuries ago as a tribute to Indian ruler Nawab Safdarjung, it’s no surprise that the structure is as grand as its Mughal-style counterparts. As you travel through rooms and outer corridors of the building, you’ll marvel at the intricate wall carvings, lush palm trees and soaring ceilings.



QUILOTOA LAKE, ECUADOR Random Dirt Road, ??? What Geoguessr travel list could be complete without the classic Random Dirt Road? After all, that’s where you’ll be at least one of every three turns. For us, this location was a favorite — the ultimate destination, a slice of heaven. Tantalizing dusty aromas, fresh breaths of air in the form of the occasional tree and bush, the glorious sun beating down every hour of the mind-numbingly endless road. What’s not to love? After countless hours spent taking the world’s most boring road trip to find a single sign that might indicate your location, you may ask yourself — how on Earth do I figure out which Random Dirt Road I’m on? Is it Botswana? Perhaps rural New Mexico? Truthfully, you’re better off blindfolding yourself and guessing randomly. Take it from us. Venice, Italy This half-submerged ‘Floating City’ provides travelers with a truly unique experience — you’ll find yourself surrounded by water, riding the traditional gondola boat used to navigate through the complex system of canals. In our humble opinions, tours by water are the best ways to experience any city, and Venice is no exception — views of arching bridges, Venetian Gothic style architecture and numerous piazzas are visible at every turn. Learn to love your gondola though — you quite literally cannot get off it.







CROSS A GLISTENING pond and a field of bright tulips, lush wisteria climbs its way up a brick wall. A couple poses for a photo, a young girl dances across a pristinely pruned lawn and small groups of visitors stroll through the gardens, taking in another beautiful day at the Filoli Historic House and Garden in Woodside. At first glance, Filoli appears to be the epitome of peace and harmony — a picture-perfect paradise. However, Filoli’s latest exhibit, “Stories of Resilience,” acknowledged the estate’s history of racial exclusion and highlighted stories of minority groups that helped make Filoli what it is today. Throughout the house and garden, several signs were placed on display until May 23, addressing individuals of various roles and discussing excluded racial groups. The historic landmark has long been a favorite photo-op destination for Palo Alto High School students, but the recent exhibit has prompted them and the wider community to look deeper and explore the stories of those who left their mark on Filoli — and those who never had the chance. The exhibit is one of a variety of efforts Filoli has implemented to expand beyond its aesthetic value into the educational, according to Erika Frank, Filoli’s director of education and interpretation. Filoli’s founding In 1917, Filoli was created by William Bowers Bourn and Agnes Moody as a self-sustaining country estate. After they died in 1936, the Roth family purchased Filoli and worked to add to the garden’s beauty until they donated the house and garden to the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The house and garden opened to the public in 1977.

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The house now serves as a portal to the past, memorializing the story of the Bourns and Roths. Signs throughout the house provide snippets of insight into their world and their lives, but the house and the gardens encompassing it are built on the legacy of many more. “This place, it’s just a building, it’s just a garden until we start sharing the narratives of the people who created it, and stewarded it and continue working here,” Frank said. ‘Stories of Resilience’ The heavy, sweet scent of wisteria and its cascading purple flowers are defining elements of spring at Filoli. On our recent visit, a sign in the garden house shone light on their little-known history, introducing the stories of some of Filoli’s first horticulturists. The placard featured Toichi Domoto, whose family was one of the first in Northern California to commercially cultivate Japanese plants including wisteria, azaleas and camellias. In addition to highlighting their accomplishments, Filoli’s “Stories of Resilience” exhibit also recognizes the Domoto family’s plight as Japanese Americans during WWII. Domoto’s placard is the only one featured in the gardens, with the rest residing indoors. Upon entering the house, yellow arrows on the ground direct visitors into a short hallway where light turquoise walls and gold leaf ornamentation come into view. Stepping into the ballroom, guests are greeted with ornate chandeliers, intricate floor-to-ceiling murals and echoing jazz music. This room added an auditory element to the largely visual exhibit, inviting visitors to imagine what Filoli could have been with more contributions from the

RESILIENCE THE DOMOTO LEGACY — This photo illustration depicts Toichi Domoto, one of Filoli’s original horticulturalists, standing before Filoli’s garden. Despite extreme hardship, such as Japanese internment, the Domoto family became some of the first to commercially grow Japanese plants in Northern California. “I walked through Filoli’s garden and I see every day ... their [the Domoto’s] impact in the horticultural industry, with the wisterias that are blooming here in the garden, the camellias that are blooming nonstop and all of the other plants that they helped make popular here and bring here,” said Erika Frank, Filoli’s director of education and interpretation. Photo: Avery Hanna

Black community. Filoli’s history of racial exclusion is prominent, as Black and Latinx people were absent from Filoli during its time as a private house, according to census records. As a result, the displays dedicated to these communities were more generalized. For example, Filoli devoted a placard to Duke Ellington, a famous Black jazz artist, whose energetic compositions were overlooked by the Bourn family. Other placards described previous staff members at Filoli who demonstrated resilience despite living in a society that rejected them. These ranged from Bella Worn, who owned a florist shop in a time where women were employed less frequently, to Teikichi Taga, the Roth’s butler, who was forced into a Japanese internment camp. “I thought the exhibit was actually really interesting, because it’s always different … learning about personal stories from history, rather than just learning about the historical events themselves,” Paly junior Xiaohan Li said.

Changing the narrative scenes from “Dynasty” — a show that In “Stories of Resilience” and beyond, highlighted gender inequality and featured Filoli is working to increase education on prime time’s first openly gay character and the history of the estate, recognizing contri- first Black female lead. butions and challenges beyond the central In the future, Filoli plans to work families that owned the land. with historians to tell stories of agricultural Filoli has also been working to im- workers and highlight the social inequities prove its diversity by within their field, participating in the especially in the This place, it’s just a American Alliance context of Filoli’s of Museum’s Facing building, it’s just a garfamilies and staff. Change program, in “We believe den until we start sharan effort to create a in diversity, we bemore diverse board ing the narratives of the lieve in inclusion, of directors and but defining what people who created it.” make the site a more that means for us as welcoming place for an organization is — ERIKA FRANK, Director of Education all Bay Area resiand Interpretation important,” Frank dents. said. “We have acFiloli plans to tion items that we celebrate LGBTQ+ Pride month this year are taking to help us get to that point, and with events like a walk on the estate trail honestly, this is not just a ‘we check things with stations to explain the meaning be- off our list.’ This is an ongoing process of hind the pride flag, along with events to inclusion. For us it’s about continuing to recognize Filoli’s role as a backdrop for work to be an inclusive place.” v






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MINOUS MUSIC PULSES through a cavernous room as sharp green leaves emerge from the ceiling, smoothly falling until they settle on the ground. At once, flowers bloom, filling all four sides of the expansive space with a deep purple glow. Then the music halts and the walls turn pitch black. Vincent Van Gogh’s painting “Irises,” along with dozens of his other pieces, comes to life at the “Immersive Van Gogh” exhibit in San Francisco’s historic Fillmore West venue. The most recent installation of the Immersive Van Gogh project, the exhibit was first created in

Paris in 2019, and has since been on display in Toronto before making its Bay Area debut this year. Blending fine art with technology has been a growing movement, such as the 2017 film “Loving Vincent,” animated entirely in oil paintings, and the “Meet Vincent Van Gogh” exhibit, which turns his art interactive. Immersive Van Gogh, however, brings audiences on a new journey. Using 300,000 cubic feet of projections, Van Gogh’s paintings develop into animated landscapes around the exhibit’s single room. They’re complemented by a soaring soundtrack, surrounding view-

ers with Van Gogh’s signature colors and roar overhead while a shining sun soars unique style. across the sky. Usually inspiring, though The exhibition itself consists of a sometimes jarring, the music brings a 35 minute production, showcasing Van new dimension to Van Gogh’s art. Gogh’s art and artistic process. Visitors The mishmash of sculptures and incan walk around or take a seat inside the stallations scattered before and after the socially distanced circles that divide the main exhibit also attempt to do that, dark room. Colors shift, objects glow with less success. From a constellation and paintings transition around the of hanging paint brushes to suspended four massive walls in a theatrical story globes stuffed with sunflowers, photo opthat spans Van Gogh’s portunities are evemotional artistic ca- Virtual exhibits can erywhere, but these reer. unexpected add-ons “Exhibits [like be more engaging for detract from the these] are ideal in younger audiences.” power of the show. COVID times because Like with tra— ADDIE MCCARTER, sophomore ditional museums, it’s much easier to social distance since the balance between people don’t have to move as much,” documenting and experiencing is prevsophomore Addie McCarter said. alent in “Immersive Van Gogh.” Taking In one scene, a chair from his paint- pictures is part of the experience, yet it’s ing “The Bedroom” is separated from the also important to put down the camera rest of the room, serenely gliding across and enjoy the beautiful lights and stories. the walls before the show shifts to the From being bathed in blue light next piece. By highlighting smaller parts to watching a painted sky roll in sunof his paintings, viewers can appreciate set hues, “Immersive Van Gogh” creates the sometimes overlooked elements of countless moments of wonder. It delivers Van Gogh’s work. a unique and memorable, if slightly exThe animations also tell a new story pensive, exhibit that blurs the boundarbeyond those evoked by his paintings on ies between fine art and technology, histheir own: trees blazing into sight em- tory and today. v phasize the artist’s mastery of color and stars shining amid a dark room bring his light to life. Moments like these flow together to create the immersive experience that has become popular on social media. “I think virtual exhibits can be more engaging for younger audiences or people like me who have a shorter attention span,” McCarter said. Other visuals, however, seem excessive or even distracting at times. In one scene, clouds tumbling across the sky make people standing below seem still and lifeless in comparison, while in another, a video clip of a grassy field clashes with the paintings. Known for its color and movement, Van Gogh’s work doesn’t always need added light and animation STARRY SIGHT (LEFT) — Standing atop the elevated deck in the middle of the exhibit, visitors to bring the art to life. take in Van Gogh’s iconic “Starry Night.” A key part of the exhibit is the acMOVING MASTERPIECES (TOP) — Two visitors watch as the room dives through Van Gogh’s companying music. As painted trees painting “Corridor in the Asylum.” burst from the ground and stars swirl FLOWERS AT THE FILLMORE (MIDDLE) — Visitors watch Van Gogh’s famous flower paintoverhead, the soundtrack dips and soars. ings bloom across the walls of the exhibit, located in San Francisco’s Fillmore West. Violins and cellos sing as roots twist MURALS AND MOSAICS (BOTTOM) — Exiting the exhibit, a visitor admires a mural of “Starry themselves into flowers, and the rhythNight.” The exhibit features a variety of sculptures and installations related to Van Gogh’s art. mic tunes of French singer Édith Piaf






NTRICATE SHADOWS — an acrobat, a solar system, a side profile — cloak the walls, swaying with the sea of people moving from one nameplate to the next. Primary colors decorate canvas and sheet metal, striking eyes all the way across the pale white room. Memories live in wooden frames, immortalizing every interaction between two illustrious 20th century artists. As COVID-19 cases in California decline, museums across the Bay Area are slowly welcoming the public back into carefully curated art galleries and exhibitions. For the de Young Museum of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco located in Golden Gate Park, this means premiering exhibits that have been years in the making, including “Calder-Picasso,” “Frida Kahlo: Appearances Can Be Deceiving” and “Uncanny Valley: Being Human in the Age of AI.” Among dozens of new galleries, “Calder-Picasso” is a standout collection. The featured works juxtapose two legendary artists of the 20th century — Alexander Calder and Pablo Picasso. According to Palo Alto High School AP Art History teacher Sue La Fetra, Picasso’s work was described as deconstructionist — breaking down a scene to its fundamentals — while Calder’s work took a more constructionist angle. Despite their differences in style, the two artists often paralleled each other in subject matter.

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“The exhibition focuses on the two artists’ shared fascination with exploring and expanding the potential of some of the most fundamental components of art — the line, the volume, the void, and gravity,” coordinating curator of “Calder-Picasso” Timothy Anglin Burgard said.

terized by new ideas of the time, such as Sigmund Freud’s theory of the subconscious and Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity. Picasso began to abstract his work more and more in order to impact the subconscious mind of the viewer. “You have the abstraction of forms to the point where it doesn’t really represent anything but art,” La Fetra said. “It is art.”

Legacies left behind Decades after the distinctly unique artists took the world by storm, the influence An exemplary experience of Calder and Picasso can still be found in The de Young crafts an excellent expomuseums today. sition of the two artists’ work. Throughout Calder was an American sculptor the exhibit, we see both Calder and Picasso known for his innovative kinetic art and work through different mediums and styles, public sculptures. The most notable pieces moving from wire structures and sketches from his career include his bold, wind-pow- to abstract paintings and mobiles. On top ered constructions, of being a tactwhich came to be ful comparison known as “mobiles” Artists and their art also of the two artists, — the French word can transcend the time it is also a visual for motion. Calder history lesson. As filled spaces with and place of their creation Calder and Picasclear purpose and an and speak to the present so’s paths cross, we array of materials, see the reflection from sheet metal and — and to the future.” of shared ideas wire to wheels and through the art as — TIMOTHY ANGLIN BURGARD, curator the two employ string. “He really loved similar colors and making things and the idea of looking at shapes to communicate a specific emotion. abstracted forms, and how you can use lots Picasso’s paintings, while not as physof the negative space,” La Fetra said. ically dynamic as Calder’s pieces, are aniPicasso was an Spanish painter, sculp- mated through their strategic placement tor, ceramicist and co-founder of the Cub- alongside the mobiles. The overlapping eleism movement. Picasso’s work is charac- ments across two artworks meld the pieces

into one, giving Picasso’s paintings the liveliness and reality of a mobile while transforming the rigidity of Calder’s structures into something much more fluid. The mobiles are purposefully hung and lit from angles that incorporate highlights and shadows into the artwork — pushing the viewer to examine art beyond the tangible object. The shadows create a sense of permanence and a connection to a multidimensional reality that would otherwise be unachievable in the canvas format. Calder’s “Vertical Foliage” is especially impressive. The massive wire sculpture resembles leaves on a branch, with each wire extending outward to carry a painted piece of sheet metal. The mobile seems to be an ode to nature, and the peace that can be found within. Each slight movement of the mobile creates a sense of anticipation that braces the viewer for something beyond the sculpture. The expectation of something dramatic, like a sudden loss of balance, leaves us with the stoic reality of the immovable piece. In Picasso’s oil painting “Nu couche

(Reclining Nude),” he depicts a lover through thick black outlines and dramatic strokes of color, echoing Calder’s imaginative wire sculptures that prompt viewers to interpret a subject for themselves. With fruits and leaves shaping the woman’s curves, the viewer takes on an earthly, celestial perspective. In a period of incredible turmoil, the shared experiences of artists can shed light on the value of expression through time. “Artists and their art also can transcend the time and place of their creation and speak to the present — and to the future,” Burgard wrote. “While it is true that visual vocabularies can go in and out of style, the fundamental components of art, including humanity, the human condition, and the desire to create and express something unique and meaningful, never lose their relevance.” v

TRIPLE GONG (LEFT) — American artist Alexander Calder’s 1948 “Triple Gong,” composed of brass, sheet metal, wire and paint, hangs from the ceiling of the de Young Museum. The bright colors and semi-triangular shapes reappear throughout both Calder and Pablo Picasso’s works. IMPARTIAL FORMS (MIDDLE) — Throughout his artistic career, Alexander Calder excelled in the creation of both sculptures and canvas art. Adjacent to his acclaimed mobiles, Alexander Calder uses similar colors and shapes in his 1946 oil painting “Impartial Forms.” NU COUCHE (RIGHT) — A young woman, Marie-Thérèse Walter, lays in Pablo Picasso’s 1932 “Nu Couche (Reclining Nude).” The subject’s curled left arm creates a crescent shape around her head, reminiscent of Calder’s many abstract wire sculptures.








ITH THE FLICK OF A the superstar family millions of fans as well image is often misconstrued by the public, switch, a space once con- as nine Teen’s Choice Awards and eight where people fail to recognize the value of sumed by darkness is illu- E! People’s Choice the show. minated in seconds. Des- Awards. The show’s I almost felt empathy “One thing I olate, beige walls encompass a crib in the popularity pushed the always felt is that corner of the room, where a child waits. On Kardashian-Jenner for them, and that’s kind they were certainly the other side of the room, with one hand clan into mainstream of one of the reasons I misunderstood,” on the light switch, a woman sings. “Rise media, where the Romfh says. and shine.” family has taken ad- continued to watch the “When I would This four-second clip from reality TV vantage of their over- show. ” talk with the adults — KIRTANA ROMFH, junior in my life, their imstar Kylie Jenner’s YouTube channel has whelming success. garnered over 18.8 million views to date, Palo Alto High mediate reaction to going viral across platforms such as Twitter School junior Kirtana Romfh started talking about the Kardashians was, ‘Oh, and TikTok in videos where users remixed watching “KUWTK” in sixth grade, and my god, they’re always just sexualizing their Jenner’s vocals or addhas been staying up bodies, they use their bodies for money. ed comedic commen- I was just like ‘Well, to date ever since. They’re just fake.’” tary. A week after the “They do expevideo clip’s success, look at Kylie Jenner. rience a lot of back- Kapitalizing on TV fame Jenner released hood- She wears it. She looks lash online, especialJenner’s family shares the same talent ies with the words “rise ly because they’re of latching onto any opportunity for sucand shine” imprinted great. And that’s some- just so well known,” cess. Kim Kardashian, Jenner’s older sister, on the sleeves and filed thing I want to have.’” Romfh says. “I al- was ridiculed for her crying face on an epia trademark applicamost felt empathy sode of “Kourtney and Kim take New York” — KIRTANA ROMFH, junior for them, and that’s — one of the 12 spin-offs of “KUWTK.” tion for the phrase. Considering Jenkind of one of the Kardashian wasted no time in producing ner’s knack for selling products — with her reasons that I continued to watch the show, shirts, hoodies, iPhone cases and decals, all namesake brand, Kylie Cosmetics, valued and really continue to be into the Kar- adorned with her crying face. at $1.2 billion in January 2020 — it comes dashians.” The Kardashian-Jenner family boasts as no surprise that these hoodies sold out business ventures beyond these one-time almost immediately, according to technol- Kommon konceptions cash grabs, with Kim’s KKW Beauty and ogy news website The Verge. Jenner’s fame It seems as if the public has never SKIMS shapewear, Khloe’s Good American can be attributed to her role in the hit re- reached a consensus on what to think of the denim and Kylie’s Kylie Cosmetics among ality TV show, “Keeping up with the Kar- Kardashians. Though described as talentless the most successful. Not unlike their realdashians.” and undeserving by some and cunning en- ity TV show, the brands are popular and First airing on Oct. 14, 2007 and fin- trepreneurs by others, the magnitude of products often sell out instantly. The Karishing its final episode on June 10 this year, their success is undeniable. dashian-Jenner clan has built an empire of the 20 seasons of “KUWTK” have given According to Romfh, the Kardashians’ wealth, further propagated by their social

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PERFECT PICTURE — Kardashian-Jenner family member Kris Jenner leans to take a picture of her daughter Kim Kardashian. This moment from the reality show “Keeping up with the Kardashians” is one of many that went viral on social media.

They will still be a huge part of pop culture.” — KIRTANA ROMFH, junior

media presences where they flaunt their glamorous lifestyle. Romfh has firsthand experience with the Kardashian-Jenners’ use of social media marketing to advertise their products. “I was just kind of not even thinking about ‘Do I need that product?’” Romfh says. “I just was like, ‘Well, look at Kylie Jenner. She wears it. She looks great. And that’s something I want to have.’” The Kardashian-Jenners are not restricted to business ventures. On April 26, Kylie Jenner’s mother, Caitlyn Jenner, announced her run for governor of California following a campaign to recall Governor Gavin Newsom. Running as a Republican, Jenner garnered support from 6% of voters, according to an LA Times poll.

Romfh predicts that with the shift away from constant TV coverage, the Kardashians will put more effort in their entrepreneurship. “I think so many people really feel like they’ve seen inside their homes, they’ve seen them in ... every moment in their life,” Romfh says. “So I think maybe there’ll be a shift more of a focus on those business things they do.” While the Kardashians were wealthy

before their show premiered, “KUWTK” has been vital to their influence. However, “KUWTK” is no longer an important factor in maintaining the family’s status. “There’s so many different aspects and so many different branches that I don’t feel like this is the end of the Kardashians,” Romfh says. “They’re celebrities, so there’ll be plenty of other business opportunities and things where they will still be a huge part of pop culture.” v






HEN THE STUDENTS of the Class of 2021 were freshmen, we did not expect our senior year to be anything like this one. We took relaxing on the quad, passing period trips to Town and Country Village and the lunch time concerts for granted. After a year of isolation from friends and teachers, we are now in the last moments of high school and ready to throw our decorated caps in the air in Viking Stadium. From the friends we met sitting next to one another in math

class to the frenzied float building nights during Spirit Week, we will hold onto the lessons we have learned and memories we’ve made at Palo Alto High School. With graduation around the corner, we say a final farewell to the Media Arts Center bathrooms with no soap, the beaten up Spikeball nets, the mural of Jeremy Lin in the Peery Center and the Student Center stage where we witnessed the original Oscar’s band perform as freshmen. Class of 2-1, we finally got it done! v

COUNTDOWN TO GRADUATION (TOP LEFT) — A group of seniors smile for a photo after picking up their graduation caps and gowns at a socially-distanced event in April. DRESSED FOR SUCCESS (TOP RIGHT) — Seniors Hayden Jung-Goldberg, Hana Erickson and Annika Shah dressed as sophisticates during a Spirit Week rally for Generations Day. PALY PRIDE (LEFT) — On Paly Pride Day, seniors decked out in Paly-themed gear pose for the camera during a lunch rally. Photo: Kimi Lillios SHINING BRIGHT (ABOVE) — Seniors Justin Laxamana, Sabrina Chan, Winter Pickett and Halo Lynch smile at the camera while dressed in yellow for Color Day.

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What was your best memory at Paly? “Float building. It’s like production for a magazine, but with the whole class.”


“College Decision Day where all of the seniors got to wear their college merch to school. As a freshman, it was so cool to see the seniors represent their future schools, so since then I have been excited to have the experience for myself.”

“During sophomore year when we went to Clovis for the swimming state championships. On the last night, we stayed up until 2 A.M. playing on Eric Gabbasof ’s [Class of `22] PS4 and eating chips and ice cream.”


“Playing at the football games in pep band. Especially walking back from the games and getting to play really loud and blast.”



What do you wish you had learned as a freshman? “I wish I’d really internalized the fact that failure and disappointment are inevitable. You are not invincible and if you don’t fail at least once then you’re not challenging yourself enough. And also that it’s 100% normal and okay to cry in the bathroom by yourself at lunch after really, really bombing a math quiz because we have mostly all been there.” — KIRA STERLING

“I wish I knew that if you cry enough you can get an A.” — SUKHMAN SAHOTA

“I really wish I had been more outgoing. Now I’m good friends with a lot of people I wouldn’t have expected to be. Being scared of saying hi is the biggest waste of time.” — DAVID EVANS

“I wish I had learned that teachers are actually approachable and will help you with pretty much anything. I used to be so scared as a freshman to ask questions, and now I realize how silly that was.” — RYAN LEONG

What will you miss most about Paly? “I’ve lived here my entire life so I’ve known a lot of Paly kids since I was young. It’s definitely going to be hard to part ways with them.” — AARON KIM

“The friends I’ve made and playing for the baseball team.” — AIDAN BERGER

PAC-MAN DAY — The Class of 2021 fills the bleachers in Viking Stadium as they cheer for their classmates during lunchtime Spirit Week activities.

“Sitting on the Quad under the sun at lunch people-watching.” — ADORA ZHENG

“As I saunter through the green grassy Quad, the tingling sounds of chatter and warmth of the light breeze pervade my senses. That is what I’ll miss most.” — ANDY WANG

2000’S STYLE — Seniors Noelle Burwell and Sukhman Sahota smile for a picture during Senior week. Photo: Kylie Mies


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Christina Flynn

Lisa Chamberlain





EXPERIENCING THE HOLIEST MONTH AT HOME ERWA, WAKE UP. It's time for Suhoor,” my dad said, an hour before the sun rose — a wake-up time I never acclimated to. Those words would greet me every morning as I’d begrudgingly open my eyes. I would make my way out of bed and hurry downstairs to the kitchen –– half asleep and only thinking about what I could eat. This Ramadan, like last year’s, took place during the COVID-19 pandemic, and included the burden of dealing with online school while fasting. Compared to last year's short, asynchronous assignments and optional Zooms, which took up little of my time and energy, this year's work was much more time-consuming and exhausting. Thirty days without food or drink from sunrise to sunset, alongside more than five hours of Zooms a day and seemingly endless assignments, was a substantially more difficult experience for me compared to previous years. In the past, Ramadan was a very community-oriented holiday for me and my family –– we would complete Taraweeh, or nightly prayers, alongside my friends, attend community Iftars where we would break our fasts together and pray Maghrib after sunset in unison. But last month, I spent my days and nights at home, missing the connections that made Ramadan so special in the past. Ramadan was usually a time I looked forward to. I would have dinner with my parents every night and help my mom fry Bolani, an Afghan potato or leek stuffed flatbread, for Iftar. It was filled with events where I would see my friends and create special memories, like sitting outside the prayer hall while watching food videos on Instagram with my friend Annum, trying to hold in my uncontrollable giggles. I loved coming home from nightly prayers at 11 p.m. and watching “Full House “ with my family while eating whatever baked goods I had made that day. Going to my youth group every Friday evening and Islamic Sunday School a few days later was the highlight of my week, times where I was surrounded by Muslims with whom I was sharing the blessed month with.

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This year, however, as I scrolled through endless photos on Instagram of fellow Muslims preparing for Ramadan with festive decor and detailed goals for the month, I felt guilty for not doing "enough." Ramadan came too quickly this year; I was neither prepared nor excited for what is usually one of my favorite holidays. The last two Ramadans were dreary and lonely. There were no meetings with friends to break our fasts, nor time to goof off during youth group — there were only small faces on a screen, staring back at me as I sat silently in my bedroom. When the school days would come to a close, I’d prepare myself for the seemingly endless list of assignments due that night instead of spending time with people I love. I would open my laptop to find overdue essays that I had promised to submit, math homework that looked like a foreign language and long, boring videos to watch. Exhausted from fasting, I just sat at home all day, my math homework sitting right in front of me, ignored, while I scrolled through Pinterest. Once again, Ramadan has come and gone. The Eid moon rose, and it was time to eat breakfast after sunrise again. I returned to the rhythms of “normal” everyday life. While this Ramadan felt more stressful than previous years, I wish I had let myself relax. When I went to school, I was no longer among my family members who I was fasting with, instead I was surrounded by dozens of kids who were drinking water and enjoying their lunches. Without interactions with my Muslim friends and extended family, I felt lonely. Although my faith has helped ground me during this chaotic time, it was difficult to enjoy this holy month without the camaraderie of previous years. After two Ramadans in lockdown, I’m excited for there to be no more. I can’t wait for next year, where I’ll hopefully be sitting next to my friends, our plates loaded with salty pakoras and sticky dates, our glasses filled with cold water, waiting for the call to prayer to play. v





Especially as friends who go all the way back to first grade, HERRY BLOSSOM PETALS float through the air as we step out of our houses into the bright morning sun. we’ve missed having an easy way to see each other. And though It’s time to pick weeds and water the flowers — we need we began our island life at drastically different times, that hasn’t to make sure the yard looks nice. And now, we hunt stopped us from playing “Animal Crossing” together. In the game, down the six rocks on our island, and hit them as many times as one of us just moved out of a tent and the other wears a crown, but we can still teach each other new things. possible. Bang bang! Out comes some money We’ve bonded over the cute cherry blosand iron nuggets. Yes! A little centipede tries Being able to find joy som trees and swirling snowflakes, laughed to slither away, but we catch it with a net so we over our shared experiences and searched tocan sell it. Excited at the prospect of making together in a video gether for the items we’ve looked to add to extra money, we smile at the screens in front game makes a world our islands. In a year when our friends were of us. suddenly just faces on a screen, a year “Animal Crossing” is a Nintendo video of difference. that was a final chapter of our childgame that allows players to build their own island paradise — specifically we play “Animal Crossing: New Hori- hoods, being able to find joy together in a video game zons.” By performing basic tasks such as fishing, digging up trea- made a world of difference. Next year, we will no longer be a short seven-minsures and collecting resources from the landscape, players can craft or buy customizable items and furniture pieces to create whatever ute walk away from each other’s houses. Instead, we will be on different college campuses, living new lives they want on their island home. Yet, we found this game is so much more than its premise. and looking to find a way to This school year was supposed to be our last chance to connect continue our friendship. Luckily, this past with each other, but the pandemic kept us trapped inside. Despite all of the hurdles thrown our way, “Animal Crossing” continues year of virtual conto brighten our lives as we begin to move past the pandemic. nection has supRoll out of bed. Open Zoom. Stare at a computer pressed any worries for seven hours. When we all find ourselves repeating about not being able this monotonous routine amidst on-going person- to stay in touch — we’ve al or global conflict, finding an escape is necessary. adjusted to connecting onAlthough we can’t just run away from these issues, line and maintained our it’s been beneficial to take time for ourselves and our friendship in novel ways. While we will be going mental wellness via “Animal Crossing.” Rather than emphasizing the end goals, the our separate ways, we game encourages a slow, peaceful gameplay that’s know with the help of about enjoying the process, straying from the “Animal Crossing: New fast-paced structure of most video games today. Horizons,” we will keep The in-game characters who live on our diving into new horizons, islands also contributed to this uplifting at- together. v mosphere and brought a smile to a year of pandemic life. There’s nothing better than celebrating a quarantine birthday with Bob the cat or having Stu the cow surprise you with a spontaneous present. The main interactive feature of the game is the ability to visit friends’ islands, where you can admire their aesthetic and chat together in a digital space. Until a year ago, we had numerous activities that gave us a time and place to hang out with each other: from going to each other’s houses for board game nights, to goofing off at family barbeques, to just seeing each other during lunch every day.






SPENT MOST OF THE PANDEMIC from the comfort of my room, turning almost all of my communication digital and waiting until the end of senior year to finally see others in person. The COVID-19 pandemic halted long anticipated events and made learning more difficult, but it most greatly affected my confidence in socializing. After months in quarantine, you would expect me to want to leave the house and city that I have spent the last year confined in. While I am thrilled to have the opportunity to go out with friends now that restrictions have loosened, unfortunately, these final months of senior year are just that — the final months. With such little time left for finding closure and saying goodbye, it’s disappointing to see how my senior year has come to an end. It’s not like I’ve become completely socially inept — deep down I know I will manage to create valuable friendships wherever I go. But I can’t help my mind from drifting towards my biggest nightmare — being an outsider at my new home for the next four years. I have lived in Palo Alto my entire life and gone to school with the same students for 12 years, but in just three short months I will be a plane ride away from everyone and everything I know. In college, I’ll live with people from all walks of life which may be beneficial in terms of broadening horizons; however, I can’t say that I’m confident that the way I communicate will be able to translate to these new people. Attending a school in Texas known for its fraternities and sororities doesn’t give me too much hope that I’ll be able to relate to the other students. While I don’t believe there’s anything wrong with those who participate in Greek life, I prefer to spend my nights on walks with friends or meeting them online — significantly different from what you would expect from someone in a

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fraternity. I purposely chose a school out of California so that I could have a different experience and I stand by that choice. Unfortunately, the past year that I have spent mostly by myself makes me question how ready I am. As a senior in high school, I’m supposed to feel ready and prepared to enter a new environment and face unfamiliar situations, but I feel just as confident as I did my first day of high school — or even less. At least then, I had a group to sit with at lunch, familiar faces to wave to during passing period and family to greet me when I returned home. These last few weeks, filled with relaxing with friends on the Quad and enjoying the long-awaited senior activities have been exciting, but for the next few months I will have to continue to grapple with the dread of living somewhere completely different. For the most part, I’m confident in my college decision — all of the reasons why I want to attend remain unchanged. It’s more important that I’m OK with being temporarily uncomfortable as I’m certain that I will encounter an awkward silence or moments of angst. With all of this being said, I know that I’m not the only one who feels this way nor do I feel hopeless. There is a challenge, but I don’t see that as a negative. I’m excited to be furthering my academic career and I believe that my hard work in high school has paid off. Aside from my irrational thoughts, I know that I will find a new community and adapt to change. v

Text by MYRA XU




EAR CLASS OF 2021, Congratulations! We have faced challenges that no other class has, and still, somehow we’re graduating! But it doesn’t really feel like how we expected it to, does it? We’re stuck in this weird back-andforth cycle; feeling excited that things are slowly returning back to normal and looking forward to college or other post-graduate plans, yet feeling our stomachs drop everytime we think about how we didn’t get to spend our last year in high school with the people we grew up with. How are we supposed to celebrate the end when it feels like we just experienced the beginning? For some of us, the only memories of high school seem to be distant remnants of junior year –– arguably the most academically challenging year of our lives, filled with late nights of SAT classes and frantic AP cramming rather than stunning senior sunrises and silly second semester shenanigans. And it’s okay to feel this way. The pandemic robbed us of so many of the dreams we have carried with us since we were freshmen. I remember wearing my ugly, bright orange Spirit Week outfit, staring in admiration at the class of 2017 staking their claim on the senior deck in their camo gear. I couldn’t wait to be like them: the people who dominated Spirit Week, who arrived at school in their elaborately decorated cool-kid cars, who jubi-

lantly played Spikeball on the Quad while of keeping my earbuds in throughout the underclassmen watched them through the entirety of passing periods. I now cherish windows of our classes. the initially-awkward-but-wholesome exAlthough the pandemic stripped us changes with teachers and classmates –– the from these stereotypical senior traditions, fast-paced conversations that simply cannot it didn’t keep us from continuing to make be achieved while frantically clicking the precious memories in little microphone on unconventional ways. my Zoom screen. In fact, I think we re- How are we supposed It’s hard to let go ceived almost just as to celebrate the end of what was supposed much as we lost. to be the “best year of We were still ap- when it feels like we our lives.” It’s hard to pointed as team cap- just experienced the let go of something we tains, club presidents didn’t even get to have. and editors who led beginning? It’s hard to find closure. with resiliency, pavBut hey, doesn’t that ing the way for underclassmen during this mean we have so much more to look forunprecedented time. We were granted a ward to in the future? Doesn’t that mean uniquely high degree of autonomy to make that we’ll continue to live each year as if crucial decisions –– leaving a legacy that it were our best and take the lessons we generations of students will look up to. learned from this one into the next? I know And despite these unfortunate cir- I see it that way. cumstances, I know many like myself have So, seniors, as we celebrate the bittergained a newfound appreciation for the lit- sweet end of our high school experience and tle things that we took for granted over our venture off into the world, let’s continue to first three years of high school. For one, I’ve take challenges in stride. Let’s continue to learned to say “yes” a lot more. I’ve learned make the most of our days and years –– bethat a five-minute study break to Douce cause although a global pandemic can postFrance isn’t going to hinder my chances of pone events and shut down public spaces, it doing well on an upcoming test, and (safe- can only get in the way of our senior pride ly) hanging out on the Quad with people if we let it. And I, for one, don’t intend for I’m not close friends with would only be that to happen. awkward if I think it is. I’ve also learned that Tame Impala will still sound good even Sincerely, if I make small talk with classmates instead


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