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palo alto  high  school  volume  13  edition  2

 J  K Occupy fever hits Stanford and college campuses around the nation

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verde magazine






Short Features



$07&3 Occupy โ€˜round the world b y HALEY FARMER and HANAKO GALLAGHER

Occupy the tree by EVELYN WANG

12 14 18


Complex sex


Mi Pueblo es su pueblo




Proceed with caution by TIN NGUYEN









*OBQQSPQSJBUF appropriation



Suit yourself









130'*-&4 Keeping the song alive




Finding time for sunsets





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Field trips to nowhere





8IFO-:'&HJWFTZPV lemonade




2011 in review




Merriness is too mainstream





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5)&8"5$) )PXXFOVNCFEPVS brains in 2011




Memorable 2011 movies





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Follow Verde PO 5XJUUFS BU Our tweets can’t be beat!

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Letters received in response to VerdeQPTUJOHTPO5IF1BMZ7PJDFBU



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Page 20

John, anonymous junior “Complex sex�

5IFUVOOFMTyBSFBQMBDFXIFSFXFDBOHP express ourselves through art in a way that would be frowned upon anywhere else.�

Page 50

Harold, anonymous senior “The tunnels�

i*UNBLFTJUBMPUIBSEFSUPGFFMHPPEBCPVUZPVS achievements when everyone around you seems to be doing better.� Anna Luskin, former Palo Alto Weekly journalist and Paly Graduate “Finding time for sunsets�

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from the editors

s Occupy Wall St. demonstrations spread to campuses and city streets throughout the country, and found footholds in Oakland and Berkeley, we at Verde wondered whether the movement could gain any traction within Palo Alto. In a city where the median family income is more than twice the national median, according to US Census data, Occupy movements seemed far out of place, if not hollow. Yet despite Palo Alto’s reputation, Occupy fever managed to find its way into our campuses and streets. Starting with protests on El Camino in October, the movement penetrated our community and inspired the students of Stanford University to gather in the university’s Meyer Library what would become Occupy Meyer. In our cover story, Evelyn Wang explores the movement and subsequent controversty developing within Stanford University (pg. 14). As of now, the Occupy movement in Palo Alto has not escalated to nearly the size of the original in New York, yet it carries a distinct weight almost entirely due to its unusual location. Occupy Meyer raises the question, “Is Palo Alto the 1%?� If protests against the wealthiest and most powerful citizens are now taking place in a community of wealthy and powerful families, who exactly is the real target? — Emily, Scott & Maytal A ubiquitous symbol of revolution and popular change, the mask made famous by the film V for Vendetta has been adopted as an emblem by the Occupy movement. We chose it for our cover in acknowledgement of its symbolism in the Occupy community.



*UTUJNFUPJOWFTUJOPVSTUVEFOUT California is critically underfunding its public education system and setting a dangerous precedent that will end up costing more in the long run and put a damper on the economic recovery. As revenue projections for the State of California have again fallen short of expectations, legislators in Sacramento are taking another look at the public school budget for fat to cut. This coming after years of systematic cuts from the education budget and the system now shows signs of breaking down. For now, Palo Alto Unified School District is safe from the negative effects of budget cuts because the district has saved money in previous years in anticipation of future cuts. However, as more cuts are made and our rainy day fund runs out, even Palo Alto will have to live with larger class sizes and less funding for extracurricular programs. While this problem cannot be solved at the local level, Verde recommends that Palo Alto’s district leaders and at-home voters work together to support legislators that will push for the funding of our public schools in the face of steep cuts. Legislators on both sides of the political spectrum are demanding short-lived solutions to stimulate the economy; either increasing spending or making systematic cuts, but these decisions always come at a cost. New spending programs take money away from states’ budgets and frequently it is the education system that foots the bill. Legislators seem to be overlooking the most basic and important investment: our students. Investing in public education is one of the most effective and efficient forms of short and long term economic stimulus. Many of our demands for new jobs could be met by investing in the expansion of our public schools. Paly is currently investing in several new construction projects, which has the benefit of stimulating the economy in both the short and long term. Construction projects, which are badly needed in some areas to compensate for the influx of new students, provides new construction jobs as well as permanent teaching and support jobs. These jobs benefit a wide array of industries and could have a powerful long term boost for the overall economy. Investing in the public school system also provides positive long term benefits. Many of California’s biggest industries were made possible by investments in our University of California school system, helping to provide much of the initial funding for research which led to the profitable discoveries on which these companies have capitalized. The UCs also provide many of their graduates with the skills they need to successfully join the job market. If the state shorts our students now, industries in California will have a shortage of skilled labor that will hurt job creation in the long run. Rather than cutting back on education, legislators at all levels should seize this moment in time to start rebuilding our crumbling public institutions. Even those who are outside the public school system stand to benefit from the investment. The students of today are the job creators of tomorrow. Investing in them is the correct course of action both fiscally and morally. If short term thinking by legislators got us into this mess, why would they think it could get us out? It’s time to start demanding more investment in public education.

volume 13 edition 2 december 2011 Frequency: 2 of 5 Staff List &EJUPSTJO$IJFG Emily Kellison-Linn 4DPUU,MFDLOFS .BZUBM.BSL Managing Editors Caroline Ebinger "MMFO8V News Editors 4IBSPO5TFOH Melissa Wen #VTJOFTT.BOBHFST Camille Couchon Elizabeth Silva Art Director Diana Connolly

Staff ,BUZ"CCPUU "OB$BSBOP Spencer Carlson Christina Chen Savannah Cordova )BMFZ'BSNFS )BOBLP(BMMBHIFS &NJMZ)BJO Jessica Jin #FOKBNJO.BZ 5JO/HVZFO &MJTB3FSPMMF Lisie Sabbag Evelyn Wang Jacqueline Woo Adviser Paul Kandell

Photographer Charu Srivastava

DPWFSBSUCZ%*"/"$0//0--:BOE $)"3643*7"45"7" 1BMP"MUP6OJĂśFE4DIPPM%JTUSJDU $IVSDIJMM"WF 1BMP"MUP $" Publication Policy Verde, a feature magazine published by the students in 1BMP"MUP)JHI4DIPPMT.BHB[JOF+PVSOBMJTNDMBTT JTB designated open forum for student expression and the 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 5IF TUBò XFMDPNFT MFUUFST UP UIF FEJUPS CVU SFTFSWFT UIF SJHIUUPFEJUBMMTVCNJTTJPOTGPSMFOHUI HSBNNBS QPUFOUJBM MJCFM  JOWBTJPO PG QSJWBDZ BOE PCTDFOJUZ 4FOE BMM MFUUFST UP or to 50 Embarcadero 3PBE 1BMP "MUP  $"  "MM Verde stories are posted online — and available for commenting — at http://palyvoice. com/verde. Advertising 5IF TUBò QVCMJTIFT BEWFSUJTFNFOUT XJUI TJHOFE DPOUSBDUT QSPWJEJOH UIFZ BSF OPU EFFNFE CZ UIF TUBò JOBQQSPQSJBUF GPS UIF NBHB[JOFT BVEJFODF 'PS NPSF JOGPSNBUJPO BCPVU advertising with Verde  QMFBTF DPOUBDU UIF Verde business managers Elizabeth Silva and Camille Couchon by e-mail at or call 650-329-3837 for more information. Printing & Distribution Services VerdeJTQSJOUFEĂśWFUJNFTBZFBSJO0DUPCFS %FDFNCFS 'FCSVBSZ "QSJMBOE+VOFCZ'SJDLF1BSLT1SFTTJO'SFNPOU $BMJGPSOJB5IF1BMZ154"NBJMTVerdeUPFWFSZTUVEFOUTIPNF "MMVerdeXPSLJTBSDIJWFE‰BOEBWBJMBCMFGPSDPNNFOUJOH at

december 2011





PAUSD braces for budget cuts Students may find themselves hard hit by changes The Palo Alto Unified School District anticipates having to make a third round of budget cuts either in February or at the beginning of the next school year, according to the Board of Education President Melissa Caswell. Originally, the district’s $12.9 million surplus was expected to delay the necessary cuts. However, the school district faces three unexpected costs: new mental health costs previously covered by the state, a state budget at least $2 billion below what was projected, and lower property tax revenues than expected. On Dec. 15, the California Department of Finance will contact the Palo

Alto Board of Education about the financial situation. If the economic situation does not improve, the board will have to make trigger cuts, which result from an insufficient influx of funds, in February 2012. Caswell expressed pessimism about the upcoming school year. “The best case is if we don’t have to cut as much this year.” Caswell said. “Regardless, we’re going to have to make cuts for next year.” The board has not yet decided what areas to cut. “If we don’t have to do [trigger cuts] you probably won’t notice what happens

between now and the end of the year.” Caswell said. “If the trigger cuts do happen, you may notice.” Caswell anticipates cooperating with Partners in Education and the ParentTeacher Organization to better understand parents’ concerns and desires. She also emphasizes that the board is eager to hear students’ voices. According to Caswell, the state’s future financial situation remains uncertain. “The overall outlook for the California budget is not good,” Caswell said. “At least for the next year or so; it could be bad for a while.” text by  jessica  jin

Palo Alto High School plans to offer a free online program for students to make up failed classes this year. Eric Tomlinson, Paly’s independent study and opportunity teacher, is the main supervisor for students using the program, called Plato Online Learning Solution. The program will only be available for students who need to make up credits in classes they did not pass. According to Diorio, Paly intends to use the program to target students who are not meeting the University of California A through G requirements. “It’s only for credit recovery,” Assistant Principal Kimberly Diorio said, adding “We’re using it very intentionally.” Paly currently has 15 site licenses for Plato Learning, meaning at most,


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15 students can be logged on at a time. Despite the limited amount of space, students can log on at any time, meaning many more, possibly even 50 to 75 students, can be part of the program at a time. “It’s not a class,” Diorio said. “It’s really kind of free-flowing.” Plato Learning is being piloted on a smaller level by Special Education teachers, Laura Bricca and Elizabeth Mueller. Expansion to the whole school would require utilizing more of Plato Learning’s courses. In general, Bricca approves of Plato’s interface. “There’s a lot of graphics, multimedia, sound [and] videos. It also allows flexibility for students to learn in different ways,” Bricca said. Students usually make up classes at Paly or St. Francis High School’s summer schools, community colleges, online

sharon tseng

Online program transforms class re-take system

i8FIPQFUPLFFQTUVEFOUTPO USBDLGPSOPUPOMZHSBEVBUJPO CVU GPSDPMMFHFFMJHJCJMJUZ w"TTJTUBOU Principal Kimberly Diorio said about the Plato Learning program University of California courses, or at other private institutions such as Lydian Academy. Paly wanted to offer an alternative way for students to make up credits instead of making students go to other places or have to pay, Diorio said. text by  sharon  tseng

3FBM&TUBUF#SPLFS :PVS5SVTUFE"EWJTPSJO1BMP"MUP3FBM&TUBUF “My Only Interest Is In Representing Yours!” (650) 269-7193 %3&


december 2011



Library extends hours for dead week The library will stay open until 7 p.m. during the week before winter finals. Regularly the library is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. “The hours are a guess on our part, so we might need to adjust them as we analyze this year’s experience,” said principal Phil Winston. According to Winston the administration hopes this change will be beneficial to students,. The Academic Resource Center hours will not be altered from their current times: until 5 p.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays and until 4:30 p.m. on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.

PAUSD Mytonomy launch to offer more academic autonomy The Palo Alto Unified School District launch for Mytonomy, a new video-based college resource website, will be held at Paly on Jan. 5. Assistant Principal Kimberly Diorio has invited alumni to come by, visit faculty, and record videos of advice and encouragement for current students. Diorio is spearheading the project and upcoming launch. “If we could get enough Paly videos up there, we could also customize the home page of Mytonomy for Paly... so that we’d have the top ten Paly videos or the most frequently tagged videos,” Diorio said. There will be video cameras and

text by  hanako  gallagher

food at the launch, which is open to all former Paly students. Alumni are not the only people allowed to make videos for the site however. According to Diorio, video categories are high school students, college students, alumni, and working professionals. Founded February of this year by ex-Google employee and software developer Vinay Bhargava and high school counselor Sena Burke, Mytonomy hosts more than 800 videos made by students and graduates from schools all over the country. Video topics range from study skills to college applications and students can view videos for free. text by  savannah  cordova

Middle schools take alternative approach to bullying

evelyn wang

melissa wen

“If Lassie’s smart enough to get help, we need to be able to go get help,” says Jane Lathrop Stanford Middle School Assistant Principal Pier La Place, in reference to the canine television hero. This is only one of the many lessons being taught to students as Palo Alto middle schools use non-traditional


By the



verde magazine

methods to create healthy school environments and combat bullying. Although all schools are making a concerted effort, each school has tactics specific to its unique environment. JLS, Terman, and Jordan middle schools presented plans to the Board of Education on Nov. 8, and efforts to foster student well-being continue to develop. Jordan is currently working on a specific anti-bullying program, based on a non-profit group called No Bully. According to Jordan Principal Gregory Barnes, the new program takes a holistic, non-disciplinary approach focused on both the bully and the recipient of the bullying. “There’s been a lot of research that’s been done in shifting the philosophy [from] the consequence model towards more of a focus, not on the bully so


Years since there was a supermarket in East Palo Alto before Mi Pueblo p. 23-25

much as on the recipient of the bully, to try to change their behavior to stop the bullying from happening in the first place,” Barnes said. “[Research suggests] that the recipient of the bullying incident usually is doing something that is in one form or another considered abnormal.” The program involves a month-long process in which the victim of bullying identifies six individuals, three of whom are friends, three of whom are participants in the bullying. The group of six and the recipient each have separate meetings with adults, during which they focus on why the bullying is taking place, and how each individual can modify his or her behavior to stop the bullying. Barnes has not implemented the program yet, but is evaluating whether it fits the environment at Jordan. Story continued at text by  melissa  wen


Number of pages of the recently published “Antartic Wings” by Paly student Alice Wang p. 43-33


d Paly


PAUSD students excel compared to other districts Semi-Finalist, based on their PSAT/ NMSQT scores, a 4.7 percent increase from the Class of 2011. Of the 16 percent of the Class of

2010 surveyed, to find that 92 percent felt prepared for college academics, and 91 percent felt prepared for college social life. text  by  spencer  carlson






Percent (%)

The Palo Alto Unified School District produces statistically superior students, as compared to county, state, and national averages, according to the annual PAUSD Assessment Report. Board of Education President Melissa Baten Caswell said that the report, presented to the school board on Nov. 8, reaffirms that PAUSD students perform better than those in most other districts. “It wasn’t a big surprise for us to hear this information,� Caswell said. “You’re a star if you’re in most of the classes here [in Palo Alto].� Caswell said the Board of Education uses the information from these annual reports to ensure that PAUSD continues to perform as it has in the past. “If we saw a drop, that would be concerning,� she said. “We do have certain groups that are working at a lower level, and we want to help them to do better.� The report finds the PAUSD graduation rate to be 97.3 percent, as compared with 80.4 percent state-wide. It also finds that a student scoring in PAUSD’s 25th percentile on the SAT scores in the 75th percentile state-wide, and that 24.4 percent of the Class of 2012 was National Merit Commended or a National Merit



25 text  by  spencer  carlson


AP students scoring higher than 3

High school graduation rate

PAUSD California 5IFBOOVBM1"64% "TTFTTNFOU3FQPSU gives proof that 1"64%TUVEFOUT score higher on standardized tests and perform better JOTDIPPM BTDPNpared with CaliforOJBTBWFSBHFT

Source:  Infographic  by  sharon  tseng  based  on  PAUSD    Assessment  Report

Arg! Ye social media sites threatened by pirating bill The recently introduced Stop Online Piracy Act could censor sites that carry pirated material if passed. SOPA has sparked outrage because the act could limit access to commonly used sites such as Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, and any other site with usercontributed content. According to Palo Alto High School senior Brian Gill, Paly students could have a difficult time sharing media, “tweets� and “wall posts� on social media sites. SOPA, first proposed in


Percent human the Cleverbot is, judged by Techniche 2011 p. 60-61

October, is an attempt to stop online piracy (illegal online stealing of copyright material) in the United States. “People who want to browse sites like Wikipedia, Facebook, Twitter or anything that can post content will be hampered by this act,� Gill said. However, with many vague statements in the criterion for taking down sites, many are worried about the possibility of censorship, on not only the foreign “pirate� websites (a host for torrents or illegal downloads), but also many com-


Percent increase in adolescent condom use since 2009 p. 20-22

monly used sites. “A lot of [Paly] students do questionably legal things online like watching pirated movies and TV shows,� said Gill, adding that SOPA is “still kind of pointless because the ones who actually want to watch [pirated material] will find a way by typing in the IP address.� Dissenters have created a petition against the Stop Online Piracy act at text  by  benjamin  may


Million Christmas trees that end up in SHUKĂ„SSZHUU\HSS` after the holidays p. 70-71 december 2011


5)&-"6/$) Winter Wear As the cold of winter sets in, Verde asked senior Shawn Clayton what she is planning to wear this winter season to keep warm while keeping in style. These are her comments and suggestions to the student body. The Layering “I always layer my jackets in the winter because it’s warmer that way and I always think it’s nice to have a little accent under the jacket.� The Flannel Shirt “I like it because it’s a soft, cozy material and has a relaxed look.� The Jeggings “During winter people wear darker colors and they’re comfortable, which is also good in the winter.�



$BZMBT$BOEZ $BOF$PPLJFT Ingredients: 1 egg 1 2/3 cup all-purpose flour 1 teaspoon peppermint extract

1/8 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon vanilla 1 cup powdered sugar 3/4 cup softened butter red food coloring

Oven: 350 degrees F. 7-8 minutes, or until set and edges are very lightly browned Makes: two dozen cookies Beat butter and powdered sugar in large bowl with electric mixer at medium speed until light and fluffy. Add egg, peppermint extract and vanilla; beat until well blended. Add flour and salt; beat until well blended. (Dough will be sticky.) Divide dough in half. Tint half of dough with food coloring to desired shade of red. Leave remaining dough plain. For each candy cane, with floured hands, shape heaping teaspoonful of dough of each color into 5-inch rope; twist together into candy cane shape. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet. 3FDJQFDPVSUFTZPGTPQIPNPSF$":-"8"/%&3."/.*-/&

The Boots “They’re warmer because they cover your ankle and they’re also the typical winter shoe apparel. They also allow you to get away with wearing long socks.�

Winter Volunteering “I helped out at EHP [Ecumenical Hunger Program] last year during winter break by sorting food and bringing it to people’s cars. I would definitely recommend helping out at EHP, because you have fun and you know that you are helping out in a big way. The people who work there are really nice and they provide hot chocolate and pastries every day.� — freshman Andrew Wilson


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<<< If you canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t think of any presents to include on your wish list this holiday season, request that your friends send you a Kiva Card, with which you can lend money to people in developing countries trying to pursue their dreams.

Nifty Gifts Trying to find that perfect gift for a friend? Check out nose shower gel dispensers, a sword handle umbrella, or any of the other products posted on Running too late to wait for shipping? Try downtown Palo Altoâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Paperwhirl for many of the same products.

Photography by ANA CARANO and courtesy of CAROLINE EBINGER


Looking Ahead

Students listen to a guest speaker during their Work Experience class Tuesday after tutorial. As winter begins, Palo Alto High School students begin to consider which of hundreds of classes they will take next year. So, with winter here, Verde asked Paly seniors which off-beat classes they would recommend to younger students and why.


â&#x20AC;&#x153;People always think of it as just an easy way out, an easy A, but I think itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a great outlet for stressed out teenagers to express themselves in a productive way.â&#x20AC;? â&#x20AC;&#x201D; senior Emily Brown


â&#x20AC;&#x153;Instead of reading traditional books for school, we get to read books like Dune ... which adds a sense of fun and creative whimsy to the classroom and the curriculum. I love it to death.â&#x20AC;? â&#x20AC;&#x201D; senior Mieko Temple


Post-it Art

â&#x20AC;&#x153;Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s project based and the class is pretty calm and we have some free time to explore our capabilities. You can do it all online.â&#x20AC;? â&#x20AC;&#x201D; senior Solomon Leung â&#x20AC;&#x153;It helps you get more hours for your job and it helps you get a job.â&#x20AC;? â&#x20AC;&#x201D; senior Jessenia Garcia

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e one of the first five Paly students to find the hidden Verde V-Man somewhere in this issue and come to room 213 to claim your prize â&#x20AC;&#x201D; a Verde tote bag!

Paly studentsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; representations of what they are most looking forward to this holiday break.

From left to right: Sleep by junior Brian Berry, Presents by senior Heather Gaya, New Years Eve Countdown by junior Bolton Bailey, and Christmas Morning by freshman Elle Billman.

december 2011



Occupy ‘round the world

Alumni share experience with protest movement Text by HALEY FARMER and HANAKO GALLAGHER Pictures by GIL MARK and MANON VON KAENEL


s the pathway to class is blocked by people protesting and students are organizing events like walk-outs, policemen are beating students who are “out of line” while expressing their feeling about the movement. This is the scene we’ve all seen on TV, but Verde wasn’t sure that was the full story. We talked with recent Paly grads about their personal experience with the Occupy movement happening at college campuses. Protestors are unhappy with the wealth disparity between social and economic classes. The movement has spread rapidly to schools in cities across the United States and beyond. Protests have united students and faculty, while dividing cities into civilians vs. government.


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gil mark

Davis Protestors occupy the University of California at Davis quad last month, risking harm from police.

Their slogan, “We are the 99 percent” means most of the wealth is controlled by the top 1 percent of income earners. These alumni left their lives in our sheltered Palo Alto community for a politically charged college experience outside of their comfortable previous experience. Previously surrounded by the 1 percent, they’re now experiencing a wider social and economic spectrum. Some agreed with the premise of the protests they witnessed, but were unsure of the movement’s effectiveness. Others thought the cause was unclear and the occupiers had lost sight of their motives. Here’s what these students had to say about their experience with Occupy and the message they believe the protestors are advocating.

Gil Mark ’10 A sophomore at UC Davis, Mark is skeptical of the effectiveness of the Occupy movement. He and many of his classmates believe money of the mainstream student is going towards merit scholars, contributing to a more privatized system. Like many of the graduates we talked to, Mark believes that protestors have lost sight of their cause. “Occupy Davis [is] like, 10 or 20 hobos having a good reason to setup tents in the park rather than sleeping there anyways, just without tents. [P]eople are upset about high tuition fees and they’re claiming that the regents are responsible for the gradual privatization of the UC system and they’re wasting the money that we pay. I wouldn’t be surprised if most Paly grads you talked to were relatively indifferent about what’s been going on because, well, they went to Paly and lived in Palo Alto so they’re probably well off enough that it doesn’t impact them that badly.” Colin Marchon ’11 A student at NYU, Marchon agrees with the Movement’s ideas but thinks the Occupiers are lacking cohesion in terms of organization and a common goal. He described a protest and the things associated with protesting. “Before the meeting it was relatively quiet, protestors were either sitting on their sleeping bags, dancing in drum circles, walking around with signs, or talking to some independent news sources. All in all I got the impression that everyone was there for

a different reason and hadn’t really met. It kind of looked like a hippy homeless camp that was being bombarded by tourists and unheard-of publications. Protesting became kind of like a subversive, cool thing to do in one’s spare time. People would brag about protesting over the weekend or almost getting arrested. It got kind of tiring.” Justin Choi ’11 A UC Davis student, Choi explained that the protests turned from being about economic disparities to a movement against the police brutality that occurred at Berkeley the previous week. “People were initially upset at the chancellor because of rumors saying that [she] gave the police permission to use force to remove the students from the campus, but these rumors were dispelled by an email in which she clearly stated that the officials should not use force. A week later, students were assembling in the quad to discuss proposals to make our campus a safer place. Some proposals were a bit outlandish and extreme. A surprisingly large number of students were initially suggesting that we remove all cops from campus. The proposals were very extreme at first, but as time went on these proposals slowly evolved into more sensible ones.” Camille von Kaenel ’11 A University of Geneva student in Switzerland, von Kaenel sympathizes with the message but doesn’t know how affective camping out is. “As a young university student, of course I sympathize with the idealism the protesters have promoted. However, I’m not sure that camping in parks will truly change anything. The tents can achieve something if they spark real conversations between people, but here in Switzerland there is very little to no media coverage and/or public interest. That bothers me.” Manon von Kaenel ’11 A student from UC Berkeley, von Kaenel sees how the protests are uniting their school but feels they have lost sight of their reason for protest. “One cool thing about the protests is how, here at Cal, a protest is really a campus-wide thing. There is an incredible history of protests here. All of my professors - every single one - spent at least 15 minutes of class time discussing the protests. You don’t see that type of involvement at other places.”

manon von kaenel

gil mark

Emily Barry ’10 A student attending NYU, Barry believes in the right to peacefully protest, but doesn’t think the Occupiers have a clear cause to protest. “I have not been involved whatsoever. Me and most of my friends think the movement is kind of ridiculous and at this point, what’s left has basically become a caricature of itself. Interestingly, a lot of the students who have gotten involved are from very wealthy families and seem to just be looking for something to complain about. I absolutely agree with the idea of peacefully standing up for a cause you believe in and exercising your First Amendment rights, but the Occupy movement is really just protesting for protesting’s sake — they aren’t out to accomplish anything specific. No one, even and especially the people involved, seem to know what the movement’s goals or endgame is, or what they want.”

UC Berkeley Occupiers protest with signs in front of Sproul Hall at Berkeley in November. december 2011



Occupy the Tree

Stanford students stand with the 99 percent Text by EVELYN WANG Photography by HALEY FARMER


ccupy Wall Street is a curious thing. As of this Saturday, it will have managed to hold our media’s usually five-second attention span for almost four months-an eternity in our era of 72-day celebrity marriages. No sex, no drugs, and more lo-fi alt-folk than rock and roll as far as movements go — by the unspoken rules of pop culture, Occupy Wall Street should have died out long ago. Yet it holds its ground in the face of all adversity — be that the bedroom shenanigans of toohandsy presidential candidates or the potential baby-daddy status of YouTube’s favorite punching bag. It really seems as though the Occupy movement is here to stay, in part because of its sheer power to surprise. Since November’s chilling pepper spray incident at UC Davis, nobody knows what to expect anymore. Least of all, perhaps, at Occupy’s latest place of residence: Stanford University. With its average yearly student expenses totaling $57,198, Stanford University is hardly the poster child for the


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99 percent. Nevertheless, a small group of students has decided to take initiative and support the quickly growing Occupy movement with Occupy Stanford, also known as Occupy Meyer, so named because the headquarters is located in Stanford’s Meyer library. Occupy Meyer “At Stanford, students tend to collect in two places,” says Harley Adams, one of the founders of Occupy Stanford. “The library and parties.” Adams, who is originally from New York, was at the Occupy Wall Street protests only a few days before the start of the term. “I would have these moments in class where I would just be like, ‘What am I doing here?’” he says. “That should be a call for Stanford students to come and make their own space for expression.” Meyer Library is the ideal place, Adams says, because it is open 24 hours and has no policy restricting conversation, food, or drink. “We wanted a central high-traffic

area that is always open, as well as a place that would foster discussion,” states The Occupy Stanford Daily, Occupy Meyer’s official newsletter. Fostering discussion is the main item on Occupy Stanford’s agenda, which sets it apart from the Occupy College movements at other campuses. Instead of holding marches or rallies, Occupy Stanford aims to provide a space to talk — at any time. “In the spirit of the Occupy Movement worldwide, today at 12:04 AM marks the beginning of a 24/7, non-stop presence in J. Henry Meyer Library to promote open dialogue and a continuous discussion around questions that we all have,” reads an email that Occupy Stanford forwarded across campus email lists. “The best thing about the Occupy movement is that it’s really about taking a stance and engaging in discussion,” Adams says. “Anytime you can come in and be like, ‘Hey, what’s Occupy?’ Or ‘Hey man, Occupy sucks; I want to work at Goldman!’ The important part is that people are getting together in one place

and engaging in discourse.” So far, Occupy Stanford’s physical presence is nothing elaborate — just a large whiteboard, dubbed the Free Speech Wall, covered with slogans, schedules, puns, quotes from philosophers, and a request to “Don’t just stare disapprovingly, ask us questions!” “There are no tents, no drum circles, no drug-addicted transients, just lively, respectful, potentially world-changing conversation,” says Peter McDonald, an English major. This conversation happens in the form of a General Assembly, Occupy Stanford’s decision-making method of choice. “We use the consensus process,” The Occupy Stanford Daily says. “Consensus is a process that strives toward group consent and respects each member’s voice equally. There are no official leaders or spokespeople.” “This is not official,” reads the email. “This is not televised. Just come join us, come watch us, and tell us how it should be. You are we.” This is not to say that the movement is aimless or disorganized. In fact, The Occupy Stanford Daily firmly states a clear set of aims, among them stopping tax cuts for the one percent that are funded by decreasing public services and

challenging the Stanford administration to create transparency in its investments. Occupy the Future Like the Occupy movements elsewhere, Occupy Stanford has received considerable response from both the student body and the faculty. “The support has been really wonderful,” Adams says. “We’ve gotten donations to our coffee fund, people bring in food all the time to share with everyone; we’ve gotten books donated to our little library within the library.” Some of Stanford’s faculty members have even begun their own Occupy movement in solidarity, which they have dubbed Occupy the Future. Occupy the Future, which also includes a slew of staff, undergraduate, and graduate students, seeks to support the bigger Occupy movement through a series of teach-ins, discussions, open forums, opinion articles sent to various news sources, and rallies. “It isn’t parks or public spaces we aspire to occupy,” reads the Occupy the Future manifesto, which also includes the names and departments of supportive faculty members. “We must find ways to make our economy sustainable. We can hardly hope to Occupy the Future if there is no future to occupy.” Though both Occupy the Future and

Occupy Stanford are hugely supportive of each other, Occupy Stanford stresses that the two movements aren’t officially affiliated. “While Occupy the Future is an affinity movement that is academic in focus, Occupy Stanford is more focused on planning action and working with Occupy movements around the Bay Area to bring change now,” says The Occupy Stanford Daily. The Stanford Daily But not everyone is happy about Occupy Stanford. In fact, some of the most negative response has come from Stanford’s official newspaper, The Stanford Daily. On Nov. 30, the Editorial Board published an editorial asking students not to occupy Meyer library, saying that it is distracting for a discussion to be held in a study space so close to finals. (It should be noted that the editorial does not express the views of the entire Stanford Daily staff; in fact, on Dec. 7, the Stanford Daily published a news article on the continuation of Occupy Stanford.) “Occupy has shown its disrespect for students’ study habits by choosing to hold its open forum in a common space utilized specifically for academic purposes,” reads the editorial. “Dialogue can happen in the classroom, in the lecture hall, december 2011


[ COVER ] in any number of meetings; please leave the library to the students in the next two weeks.” The editorial goes on to point out that the Occupy movement at Stanford has not caught on. “Perhaps the Occupy gathering was scheduled to take place in Meyer precisely because it is likely to be a hub of student activity in the coming two weeks,” the editorial says. “Perhaps Occupy would like to increase its popularity on the Stanford campus, for it certainly has not been able to do so as yet. It would be more than fair to acknowledge that Stanford students have not enthusiastically embraced participation in a large Occupy Stanford movement.” Indeed, despite the support garnered by Occupy Stanford, the majority of the student body is less than enthusiastic. “Stanford has always been relatively sleepy with regards to campus activism,” McDonald says. Adams adds that Occupy Stanford has not been as strident as other campuses in getting the word out. “We’ve been careful not to disturb or intervene in people’s lives,” he says. “We’ve been like ‘If you want to come, you can come,’ but we haven’t gotten in people’s faces.” According to both Adams and McDonald, the Daily has been the only true voice of antagonism, and despite the seeming lukewarm majority response, students have not kept silent about some of Stanford Daily’s more obviously antiOccupy editorials. The “Don’t Occupy Meyer” editorial received 20 comments, all of them condemning the Editorial Board’s stance. Some commenters assure that the distracting nature of Occupy Stanford as


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mentioned in the editorial is not the case, citing the signs in Meyer library that say “Expect Conversation”. “I completely disagree with the claim that this is an unwanted distraction from schoolwork,” commenter ‘drizzle [sic]’ says. “This occupation is clearly in line with the goals of the space of Meyer as a space for dialogue and learning. It is not a loud, disruptive protest.” Others denounce the Daily for taking what they see as a too-academicallyfocused stance. “Nobody seems to complain (i.e. write whiny editorials) when clusters of engineering students draw mysterious math symbols on the whiteboards and chat at terribly distracting decible-levels about ‘integrals’ and ‘omega’ and ‘vectors’,” says commenter ‘Dana’. “There are things more important than your GPA and classwork that we should be worrying about,” says another commenter. “I’ve been at this school for four years, and the type of discussions that occur on this campus are incredibly superficial in the grand scheme of things.” The Stanford Daily has since deleted these comments, in addition to removing its entire anonymous comment system so that readers can only comment via Facebook. This action, applied to all of the Stanford Daily’s stories, has received negative responses from readers, some of whom have taken to reposting the original comments through Facebook. “Whether it was intentional or not on the part of the Daily, this is censorship at its worst, and at Stanford,” Adams writes in a Facebook comment. “Pretty opportune time to choose your web-commenting updates that would delete all comments: when the most overflowingly negative response to one of your Editorial

Board written Op-eds was amassed.” Luke Wigren, a Stanford graduate and occupier of Meyer library, took screenshots of all the comments and posted them as a Facebook photo album titled “Stanford Daily Censorship??” The Stanford Daily editorial board attributes the deletion of the comment system to its website renovation. “This is a website construction problem which we believe is temporary and are currently working to fix,” says Kathleen Chaykowski, editor in chief of the Stanford Daily. “The Daily was not in fact censoring comments on the editorial.” All of the comments are still archived on the Stanford Daily’s WordPress system. Wigren visited the Stanford Daily on Dec. 8 and has since retracted his personal public complaint against the perceived censorship, changing the title of the album to “We Worry About You, Stanford Daily”. “It was a relief to know that dialogue had not been intentionally suppressed,” Wigren says. He maintains, however, that the battle is far from over. “These issues of censorship can often be much more complicated patterns of disenfranchisement, ingrained in the very running of corporate systems — even supposedly objective news media,” Wigren says. Despite the clash with the Stanford Daily’s Editorial Board, Occupy Stanford remains optimistic. “The movement may be slow, and it may be confusing, but it is not going away,” McDonald says. “I think it can maintain a sizable presence.” Adams says, “This is the time to do this. This is the revolution we’ve been waiting for.” v


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december 2011



Hide yo status, hide yo wife

Your Facebook stalker might just be a college admisZPVUZVMÄJLY Text and Facebook Layout by EVELYN WANG Photo Illustration by JACQUELINE WOO and EVELYN WANG


acebook and I have a turbulent relationship, one that would most certainly be set to: “it’s complicated”. One moment, it’s providing me gleeful, schadenfreudean fun in the form of some chick’s drunken cries for attention via misspelt Adele song lyrics, and the next it’s reducing me to a hysterical, weeping harpy with its taunting display of my ex’s abominably attractive new girlfriend. And before I know it, I’m the one setting my status to “nver MIND ILL finid someun lyk YOUUUU!111!!!” Oh Facebook, how you toy with my sanity, you sadistic minx. You make me laugh, you make me cry, and now you can ruin my chances of going to college forever. Yes, Facebook has struck again. And this time right where it hurts: your college dreams. Since 2008, college admissions officers have been using Facebook and other social media to research applicants, and with college applications already underway, for those who still have their profiles set to “public”, calamity and rejection


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letters may very soon ensue. A survey adminstered by Kaplan Test Prep last September revealed that 24% of 359 top colleges’ and universities’ admissions officers have gone to an applicant’s Facebook page—a substantial increase from the mere 10% reported in 2008. Of these 24%, half reported that what they found negatively impacted an applicant’s chance. According to the survey, offenses such as vulgar language and pictures of illegal activities can all deliver that dreaded rejection letter. Sandra Cernobori, one of Palo Alto High School’s college advisers, says that college admissions officers have different opinions on applicants after looking at their Facebook profiles. For the officers researching those students who had written eloquent, insightful essays of Nabokovian proportions, the reveal can be quite a shock. “Pictures showing students drinking beer convey a very different image,” she says. However, the situation isn’t as grave

as it appears. “Admissions officers aren’t trolling the internet,” she says. “Colleges are not scouring the net to check up on you.” In fact, according to Cernobori, most of the time colleges only Google or Facebookstalk if there’s a logical reason to. “If an admissions’ officer has a question about one of your activities or thinks something sounds interesting and wants to learn more, they are more likely to Google you or check if you’re on Facebook,” Cernobori says. Nevertheless, students should still take measures to ensure that what the officers do find is appropriate. The most secure option is to simply hide it all. Facebook privacy settings are easily controlled, with options for “public,” “friends of friends,” “friends only,” “private,” and “custom” viewing. If content is an issue, students can simply check the “private” or “friends only” circle, and college admissions officers (along with any other undesirable snoopers) will be unable to see their page. In fact, Facebook

24% of college admissions officers have visited an applicant’s Facebook page — according to a September 2011 survey by KAPLAN TEST PREP

automatically restricts the privacy settings for minors so that they share content with a maximum of their friends of friends, as opposed to the “public” option for adults. As it turns out, many Paly students have already taken this step. Some have even gone further by changing their names so they can’t be searched. Senior Tanvi Varma changed the spelling of her name on Facebook to “Tanvee Varma”. “I don’t have anything to hide, but I feel better with a change,” Varma says. Senior Greg Dunn decided to participate in the name game (he is now “Gregory Dunky”), but for a different reason. “I’ve changed my name, not because I believe it will work, but because I believe it sends a message to officials that I know what they are doing,” he says. On the other end of the spectrum, students can use their Facebook profiles to enhance their application process, in an “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” tactic. Whitney Mountain, Stanford graduate and journalist for the Sacramento Bee, recommended such an approach in

a presentation she gave at the Our Media Generation convention held in October 2011. “I use it as my public relations engine,” she says of her profile. “You want to fill out as much good information as you can,” Mountain says. “Write down all of your jobs, extra-curricular activities, and volunteer work. You deserve to present yourself well. ” While this is a novel, and certainly viable option, it doesn’t seem to be the most popular among Paly students. “I’m not altering any aspects of my Facebook account,” says senior Crystal Liu. “I really don’t feel as though this should be a place to show off. There are resumes and the application itself for that.” Cernobori agrees. “It’s not what they [college admissions officers] expect,” she says. For students who really want to showcase their many talents, the Common Application includes a space for students to add additional information, such as a resume or a url.

Which serves as a reminder that when it comes to college admissions, the application really is still the most important piece. Dunn, in fact, finds the whole Facebook-stalking business just a little insulting. “My main concern is that college admissions officers believe that the application process is fundamentally dishonest to the point where fact checking must be done,” Dunn says. ”I have put hundreds of hours into giving colleges an accurate picture of who I am, from essays to East Coast interviews. If, even after this, colleges do not have an accurate picture of who I am, it makes me lose faith in the whole process.” The questionable ethics of Facebook stalking aside, it’s still a good practice to clean up one’s Facebook profile. Sam Bellows, fellow Paly graduate and NYU freshman, offers one lasting word of advice for current seniors. “If it’s not something you would want your family to see, don’t leave it up there for colleges to see either,” he says. v december 2011



Complex sex Studies show teens are more likely than ever to use protection Text by LISIE SABBAG Photo Illustrations by CHARU SRIVASTAVA, HALEY FARMER and LISIE SABBAG


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nn, a junior at Palo Alto in adolescent condom use since 2009, and High School, remembers a 33 percent increase since 1998. when her sister sat her Sam, a junior, thinks being safe when down and confessed about sexually active is a no-brainer. contracting a sexually “I mean, no glove, no love, right?” he transmitted disease. says. “To me, there is no other option than “My big sister didn’t give a [expletive to wrap it up.” deleted] about protection,” she says. “At Researchers are pointing at educafirst I thought it was kind of funny when tion as the reason for the increased safe she told me she got an STD. Serves her sex practices. right, you know?” At Paly the manBut later when datory sex education is Ann had to console taught in the semester her distressed sister class, Living Skills. after their parents “We teach effective found out, no one was condom use, the most laughing. effective birth control “She was freakmethods for teens, as ing out … crying like well as teach about absticrazy,” Ann says. “It nence,” says Living Skills was understandable. I teacher Letitia Burton. think she was mostly “But most importantly, angry at herself for we stress the importance — senior SAM being stupid more of honest, clear, and open than anything else.” communication with Ann learned through her sister’s mis- yourself and with a potential partner.” takes. Paly’s “risk reduction” sexual educa“I knew I didn’t want to have to go tion program is similar to the statewide through that,” she says. stance of “Abstinence Plus,” a compreAnn, whose name like all other stu- hensive sexual education that every Calidents in this story, has been changed due fornian teen is required to go through. to the sensitive nature of this topic, and The California Department of Eduher boyfriend talked about condoms and cation says the class must “encourage a other contraceptives even before they ever pupil to develop healthy attitudes” toward had sex. They even discussed what they sexual health, but the rest is up to interwould do if Ann got pregnant, agreeing pretation by the teacher. on adoption. Paly’s sex-ed program is about absti“I felt so much better about doing nence and risk reduction, a similar idea it after knowing I could talk to him and to the common Abstinence Plus stance knowing we’d be safe. When we finally that teaches other options of birth control [had sex], we were totally prepared, and along with abstaining from sex. It opposes I think that made it so much more enjoy- the abstinence-only approach many other able.” schools support. The topic of sex is salient in every “Personally I think that they [abstiPaly student’s life, from Lady Gaga’s mu- nence-only programs] may be doing their sic videos and “Glee” episodes to conver- students a disservice,” Burton says. “They sations with friends and awkward discus- are not providing their students with all sions with parents. of the information necessary to make Like Ann, Paly students are increas- informed deciingly making more informed choices sions.” when it comes to their sex lives, and as it The theoturns out, so are teens across the country. ry behind the According to a national survey con- A b s t i n e n c e ducted by Indiana University, in the past Plus program year there has been a 25 percent increase is that teenagers will make

“To me, there is no other option than to wrap it up.”

their own decisions to have sex, but by giving them all the information available, Living Skills classes are improving the chance students will make informed decisions about whether to use protection. John, a senior, thinks the program, and numerous other sources have managed to convey their point perfectly. “I learned about birth control from just about everyone. Ms. Burton, my parents, friends, guest speakers, random people on the street,” John says. “It’s like everyone’s favorite topic or something.” Jenny, a senior, thinks all the talk is nothing more than words, and are doing nothing to change teen’s habits. “People don’t think being smart about sex is really cool or anything,” she says. “I hear guys brag about having unprotected sex all the time, and even though I know all my girl friends have done Living Skills and know what can happen, they don’t care enough to actually use a condom.” Though this may be true in some cases, the numbers are clear: teens in general are being smarter about sex. The numbers also spell out another message. Researchers differentiated between sexual intercourse in a lifetime and intercourse within 90 days of taking their survey, meaning teens could discern between whether they were currently sexually active or not. The outcome is astounding. “Asking people to provide data about more recent sexual acts provides a more valid reflection of one’s current behaviors than does a measure of lifetime behaviors,” says Indiana University researcher Michael Reece. “Especially among adolescents.” The majority of sexually active 16-, 17- and

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1 8 - ye a r old are not continuously having sex. In fact, it looks like at least half of sexually active teens are going through at least a nine-month so-called “dry spell.” According to a statement made by the Indiana university researchers in The Journal of Sexual Medicine, these numbers “demonstrate the d i s t o r t i on s introduced by society’s intense insistence on characterizing adolescents as ‘virgins’ or ‘non-virgins.’” Basically what they’re saying is sex is complex. Instead of coming up with the cut-anddry “this many teens are sexually active and this many aren’t” affirmation of an adult perception on adolescent sex they were expecting, the researchers found that, surprise-surprise things are more complicated than that. Some teens are sexually active, but haven’t actually had sex yet. Just because you’ve had sex doesn’t mean you are in fact, actively sexual. If you’re not “getting any” at the moment, that doesn’t mean you’re a virgin. Paly students seem to have realized this, a step ahead of the scientists. “I know for a while there I was desperately trying to lose my virginity, not because I espe-

cially wanted to or anything, but more because my friends made fun of me,” senior John says. “These days I’m fine with it. … the label of ‘virgin’ isn’t something inherently bad, and my friends pretty much laid off once they stopped getting a rise out of me. … I don’t think they ever really [cared] if I was or was not, they were just [fooling] around.” Reece seems to think this change in attitude will someday soon catch up with the media, and messages of sexual promiscuity won’t be relevant anymore. “This is a generation that has been exposed to public health and other messages about HIV, sexually transmitted infections, and unintended pregnancy over the course of their lifetime,” says Reece, who headed the study. So it turns out those labels high schoolers wear, with —senior JON pride and disgrace alike, don’t really mean much. “There’s no such thing as a ‘sluts’ or ‘virgins’ or anything; there are just girls and there are guys,” Ann says. “Having sex is your own personal decision and it’s no ones place to judge you.” v

“The label of ‘virgin’ isn’t something inherently bad.”


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december 2011


Mi Pueblo es su pueblo

Two years after its opening in East Palo Alto, the local grocery store continues to impact the community Text by KATY ABBOTT and ANA CARANO Photography by CHARU SRIVASTAVA


he twanging of guitars and a crooning Spanish voice broadcast over loudspeakers mounted near the ceiling. Wide-eyed children drag their parents up and down the aisles of the store, pleading for candy. In one corner of the store, homemade Mexican pastries like piedras de chocolate, espejos, and panaderos showcased in glass cases tempt passersby. Nearby, men and women in smocks and colorful shirts pull perfectly round tortillas off of a conveyor belt and stack them in piles. Others slice pork off of a spit and toss it into the frying pan, listening to it bubble and hiss as it cooks into a filling for a taco. Across the way from the hive of workers, piñatas line a shelf, their colors eye-poppingly bright. The smell of freshly baked bread wafts through the air, and the brightly hued papel picado, Mexican tissue paper cutouts, hangs from the ceiling. At rush hours the store is packed with people trying to get their groceries for the week. While on paper Mi Pueblo may be just another supermarket, to the

residents of East Palo Alto, where it is located, this store offers much more than a typical grocery store experience. When Mi Pueblo opened in 2009, it was the first supermarket in EPA in 23 years. Although small local grocery stores like La Estrellita Market & Deli

When Mi Pueblo opened in 2009, it was the first supermarket in East Palo Alto in 23 years. and Oakwood Market existed, their limited selection was not varied enough for a customer to stock up on a week’s worth of groceries, according to people like Saree Mading, director of student services at Aspire Public Schools and a lifelong resi-

dent of EPA. Before Mi Pueblo, EPA was what economists call a food desert — a place where there is a shortage of grocery stores nearby, making it difficult to obtain both healthy and affordable food, especially fresh fruits and vegetables. No studies have been conducted on the empirical effects of Mi Pueblo’s arrival. This is partly due to EPA’s location. Situated in between San Mateo and Santa Clara county, it is sometimes overlooked and any information is often distributed inconsistently between the two counties. However, despite the lack of any concrete statistics, popular sentiment seems to indicate that Mi Pueblo has improved the health and safety of EPA. Mi Pueblo has introduced a convenient way to buy a variety of foods, according to community members. Just 18 months after its grand opening in EPA, it has impacted the community in ways both big and small, from making fresh fruits and vegetables more accessible to community members, improving the health of residents and strengthening the community, to making EPA feel safer and

december 2011


How do East Palo Alto and Santa Clara County compare to California?


Number of grocery stores in Santa Clara County for every 10,000 people. California has 2.14 grocery stores for every 10,000 people.


Percentage of youth in East Palo Alto who are overweight. 25% of youth in Santa Clara County are overweight.


Number of convenience stores in Santa Clara County for every 10,000 people. California has 0.62 convenience stores for every 10,000 people. statistics compiled by Jessica Jin source: California Center for Public Health Advocacy,,

more unified as a whole. In her experiences shopping at Mi Pueblo, Mading has found that the store gives customers an opportunity to try foods they might normally not eat, letting them step outside of their comfort zone — especially when it comes to fresh produce. According to store regulars like Julio Mata and Noemi Cruz, the produce section, with its diverse and often exotic offerings, has quickly become the most crowded section of the store. “I like the fresh fruits,” says Elena Villegas, another store regular. She appreciates being able to find both conventional produce and less familiar items such as Mexican hawthorn apples, red cactus fruits and quinces. “People take risks with different vegetables and try them out,” Mading says. She often goes into Mi Pueblo and gets sidetracked by fellow residents wondering how to cook vegetables like brussels sprouts. Although Mi Pueblo provides basic ingredients like milk and eggs, part of its significance in the community comes from its wide selection of multicultural foods, which are harder to find but no less valuable to many shoppers. “Mi Pueblo has my country’s food,” regular customer Guadalupe Avalos says. She hails from Spain, a country whose


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traditional foods, like chicharrón and chorizo, can be found in the same aisle as vanilla yogurt. Palo Alto High School sophomore Marcus Edholm has also found that Mi Pueblo’s offering of less traditional supermarket fare gives people more opportunities to branch out and try new things. “The food is amazing, and the burritos are spectacular,” Edholm says. “I love the variety.”

“Mi Pueblo has my country’s food.”

— regular customer GUADALUPE AVALOS The family-owned supermarket chain has been around since 1991 and has 17 stores in the Bay Area. After gaining the approval of the EPA city council, the chain opened its new location on Nov. 14, 2009 at 1731 East Bayshore Road. However, objection arose about the unfair competition a chain supermarket would create against the small stores that already existed in EPA. Some felt that the huge space could have been used by an establishment that created more tax

revenue than a grocery store. Others were disappointed that Mi Pueblo was a Latino specialty foods store, and worried that the store would cater to a specific clientele, rather than offering something for the whole community, according to Nicole Wires. Wires works for Collective Roots, a non-profit based in East Palo Alto that helps provide access to healthy, affordable foods. Collective Roots helps both residents and schools start community gardens, runs the East Palo Alto Farmers Market, and offers cooking classes in order to give East Palo Altans opportunities to eat both healthier and cheaper. Wires has noticed some complaints with Mi Pueblo’s arrival, emphasizing that for some, the food situation in East Palo Alto is still the same. “People will travel all the way to Costco in Mountain View or even farther to get cheaper items than what they can get in the grocery store here,” Wires says. “It hasn’t changed for a lot of the residents of the community.” But although some residents were doubtful about its viability, there has been a general sentiment of happiness after its opening. “A lot of the bad elements are moving out,” Jim Hanley, a regular customer at Mi Pueblo and longtime resident of


Mi Pueblo offers a variety of freshly baked Mexican pastries.

East Palo Alto, says, adding that people feel safer and less threatened in their city. He feels that shopping at a well-known grocery store, as opposed to a small and impractical corner store, makes people more comfortable, surrounded with other customers and employees. Other shoppers, like resident Salvador Alvarado, agree. “It’s been very helpful,” Alvarado adds. “And I can find whatever I want.” For many residents of EPA, Mi Pueblo had an immediate impact on their daily lives. “Before Mi Pueblo, some residents drove all the way into Palo Alto to either Whole Foods or Safeway,” Mading says. “People were frustrated.” Now East Palo Altans can shop in their own city, which saves time and earns tax revenue for EPA, directly benefiting the community. “Mi Pueblo has really good food and it’s cheap,” says Paly junior Meridian Tran. “Now I don’t have to go to Costco to buy things.” Mi Pueblo has filled a void that once inconvenienced shoppers like Tran. Before its opening, most of the major grocery stores were either overpriced or frustratingly far away. “It’s nice to have a place where you can buy regular things like eggs,” says Vil-

legas, another regular at Mi Pueblo. “And it brings money and jobs for the community.” Mi Pueblo’s arrival has played a large role in helping the community and improving nutrition, although Mading says that she would like to see more change. “I still do see lots and lots of junk food when I first walk in,” Mading says. “I wish that more people would go [to the

“Now I don’t have to go to Costco to buy things.” — Palo Alto High School junior MERIDIAN TRAN EPA Community Farmers Market] and enjoy themselves outside and see those fruits and vegetables. I see a lot of kids that just run through the store, picking up unhealthy snacks, and I wish that people had a better understanding of how that leads to obesity.” Wires agrees, noting that there is no place in EPA to buy organic produce except the Farmers Market, which she helps

to run. But she says that despite this problem, Mi Pueblo has had a positive impact on EPA. “There’s a supermarket where there hasn’t been one for 30 years,” Wires says. “That’s definitely a pro.” According to Mading, Mi Pueblo has also helped to strengthen the community. Before its arrival, East Palo Altans didn’t get an opportunity to bond over grocery shopping because they would travel far away to shop. Now that they have a centralized supermarket, residents often see friends and neighbors whom they recognize and can talk to, knitting the community closer together. Grocery stores can, in a way, be the center of a community. Everyone has to do their shopping somewhere. As the only grocery store in EPA, Mi Pueblo has helped to bring a diverse group of people together and provided a meeting place for the community, according to Mading and others. “You get all sorts of different races in here,” Villegas says. Mading echoes this sentiment. “Community members are always there, old or young, and it’s such a great mixture because you get to see AfricanAmericans, Latinos, Polynesians, white [people], or Asians.” Mading says. “Everybody’s there.” v

december 2011



Proceed with caution Crossing guards face salary cuts due to contract change Art and Text by TIN NGUYEN


very morning, there is a symphony on the corner of Embarcadero and Middlefield in front of Walter Hays Elementary school, a bustling orchestra of car horns and bike bells. The musicians, drivers and bikers alike, shuffle impatiently in their seats. The light changes from red to green, and the intricate, ever rehearsed dance of traffic launches immediately into its next act. At its center stands the conductor, a single crossing guard, coordinating it all with his tools: an orange vest and a stop sign. Children are kept safe and cars are kept moving.


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But that delicate balance may be threatened in the coming months as wages drop and a new management company takes hold of the crossing guard workforce. Over a decade ago, the city police department privatized the Palo Alto crossing guard program to All City Management Services in 1999. On Nov. 7, council members unanimously voted for a change, following an auction, granting American Guard Services with the role of the management of 29 intersections through the city. Parents and guards alike are protesting the change. Four out of eight other management

companies offered lower costs than All City Management Services, but the lowest bid came from American Guard Services, bidding 8.6 percent lower than the incumbent would have charged. As a result, crossing guards’ salaries will be cut this month and some may quit their jobs. “We get a cut in pay and we have to pay for our own uniforms,” says Amir Boulett, a crossing guard who overlooks a busy intersection after school near JLS Middle School. “They shouldn’t have given up the contract for a few dollars less [out of the sake of inconvenience] for the city’s employees.”

IN THE CROSSFIRE Bikers get ready to dismount and walk their bikes. Many students take issue with crossing guards’ supposed inconsistency regarding walking bikes at some crosswalks and not at others, yet there is a method to the madness. According to street law, if there is a walk light, you must walk your bike, but if there is a traffic light, you can ride it. City council members acknowledge the inevitability of the guards’ cuts. “These are very difficult economic times,” says Palo Alto Mayor Sidney Espinosa. “It’s difficult to talk about pay cuts for anyone. Crossing guards are not unique: every city employee all the way up to senior manager has taken a 10 percent cut.” Palo Altans are becoming increasingly worried about safety, especially with All City Management Services’s spotless 12-year record. “All City Management Service has been there for 10 years without a single accident and, suddenly, a new company comes along and steals our contract, which makes no sense,” Boulett says. “They just don’t meet the same requirements as All City Management Services.” However, Espinosa remains confident that the newly inducted American Guard Services will rise to the challenge. “We are very confident that appropriate training will be provided so that the new company will continue to provide the same level of service,” Espinosa says. “We

ployed, making the change smoother. “The city anticipates that not all of the current crossing guards may decide to stay, but all of them have been offered jobs by the new company,” Espinosa says. “We hope that we are able to retain as many of our current crossing guards as possible, and because the new company will bring in crossing guards from other communities, at no point will there ever be any less crossing guards.” Crossing guards agree: sacrifices will be made. Not every guard — SIDNEY ESPINOSA, Palo Alto City Mayor will agree to work under the new company, and lowest bid policy regarding government some are not confident in the company’s contracts, allowing no exceptions for ability to deliver. “Financially, they have less to offer crossing guards. “We have a very transparent process,” and workers will quit,” Boulett says. However, Espinosa hopes that the Espinosa says. “We are mandated to take the lowest bid, and there has only been Palo Alto Unified School District or Partners in Education may be able to help. one applicant in previous years.” “Council members hope the inThe switch officially began this month and will continue through Febru- creased time gives the school community, ary 2012; during the transition, council PAUSD or PiE, some time to think of members strongly encourage currently a way to supplement compensation for employed crossing guards to stay em- crossing guards,” Espinosa says. v have called other cities that have used them or have switched to them and the company will also work with the police service to closely monitor the transition.” Despite parent and employee outcry, council members, along with other proponents, advocate maintaining the city’s

“Every city employee all the way up to senior manager has taken a 10 percent cut.

december 2011



Hit the clubs

Take a dive into an unfamiliar experience Text by HALEY FARMER Photography by CHARU SRIVASTAVA


here are dozens of clubs around, yet how often do you hear about a club where students start their own business or raise money for a suffering village in Ecuador? There are many interesting clubs at Paly this year with big ideas that have not had enough time in the spotlight. Here, briefly, are three clubs that are making their mark on campus. Entrepreneur Club The Entrepreneur Club’s vision is to provide resources for students who are interested in starting their own

Entrepreneur Club in action Fern Mandelbaum gives pointers on what matters most when starting your own business.

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businesses. Senior James Maa started this club after going through the experience of founding his own own start-up, Bubbls, a social networking site used for teenagers to plan hangouts. “I want to help them ease the transition [of starting a company] by providing my help and services,” Maa says. Maa’s own entreprenurial experience began during his junior year summer, when he learned the basics of how to program websites by reading books and by following online tutorials. “I’m still [in the] learning progress but I’m picking it up fast,” Maa says. Once Maa finishes up his college applications, he hopes to have his website ready for beta-launch. Maa wants to share his knowledge across the school campus, to help students who may be struggling with starting their own company. In addition to sharing his own knowledge, Maa frequently brings outside speakers to club meetings. Fern Mandelbaum, an entrepreneur and CEO from Stanford University, came to talk with the club in November to share information about how to start up a company with helpful guidelines. “As students’ knowledge continue to expand and [they] comprehend more, big companies are interested to see what teenagers can do for them,” Mandelbaum says. “Showing you can make a difference is so

important,” Mandelbaum says. According to Mandelbaum, social media is increasingly important and companies are looking towards students for inspiration for their newest products. “Getting out there and talking to people is step one,” Mandelbaum says. Free the Children Club Raising money to adopt a village in Ecuador, improving manual labor problems and reducing everyday suffering are some of Free the Children’s Club’s top priorities. “The goal of the organization is to work toward eliminating child labour and exploitation wherever we can start,” junior and club president Erin Chang says. Chang reaches out for guidance outside of school from the Free The Children Foundation in downtown Palo Alto. Craig Kielurger, a Canadian activist who focuses on the rights of free children, is the founder of Free the Children nationwide and the co-founder of Me to We, an organization that raises money and sponsors trips for people of all ages who are interested in making a change. The club started off the school year with two bake sales to raise money for the village they are aiming to adopt in Ecuador. The club raised over $600 from the bake sale. Education, clean water, health care and sanitation are the three pillars Free the Children uses to make a difference. “Free the Children means a lot because [Chang] feels it’s really upsetting that children are being exploited and used for cheap labor, especially at such an early age,” Chang said.

Emy Gelb, a volunteer from the Free the Children office came in November to speak on behalf of the office located downtown. Gelb shared information to try and influence their decision about the village they were considering adopting. Junior Jessica Moss is one of many who is part of the Free The Children Club and enjoys giving to those who are most in need. “The club as a whole decided a school in Ecuador as the way they are reaching out to help those in desperate conditions,” Moss says. Face Aids Club When she was 13, Paly graduate Hana Kajimura (10’), took a trip to Ethiopia to visit youth centers and heath clinics. Kajimura instantly became inspired when she was introduced to the HIV/ AIDS foundation; she wanted to make a difference and get involved in spreading the word to students. Her first instinct was to start a club at Paly, raising money and awareness to help out those in need. The result was the Face AIDS Club, which she started in 2009. The club is currently run by senior Victoria Tse, meeting in Matt Hall’s ASB room periodically during lunch. As of now, Facing AIDS Club members have planned a movie fundraiser. “We work to create projects for both women and men in Rwanda who are suffering from epidemic, allowing them to support themselves when knowing their

condition and how to prevent it,” Tse says. Spreading awareness at Paly of HIV/ AIDS the suffering populations in Rwanda is also one of the club’s goals. Tse says the Face AIDS Club comes together to brainstorm ideas to help out victims of AIDS/HIV. One of the ways the Face AIDS club lets students know the extent of the disease by making and passing out pink ribbon pins to spread awareness. Another example of how the club reaches out to spread awareness is the Fight Against AIDS/HIV Bike Ride, held every summer in Half Moon Bay since 2007. Around ten Facing Aids volunteers participate in the bike ride every year,

according to Tse. The Ride Against AIDS bike ride started in 2007 when two friends rode across America, raising money for the Face AIDS foundation. Austin Keeley, the Ride Against AIDS director, recruits riders from all over to ride for the cure every year. “This summer bikers will start at Half Moon Bay in the middle of June and arrive in Boston in the middle of August,” Keeley says. Their next big event will take place this December. v

From left to right James Maa, Xavier Mignot, Aaron Bajor and Vincent Gurle december 2011



A sweet addition to the community Alison Bakery offers a wide variety of foods made fresh daily. Text by EMILY HAIN Photography by EMILY HAIN and Courtesy of SHERRY ALISON


autiously lifting a cranberry orange scone from the glass display case, Palo Alto High School alumnus Theda Howard places the the fresh pastry on a lipstick red dish, and hands it to a patient customer with a smile. As the afternoon baker, Howard bakes and serves pastries and other items to clientele at Alison Bakery. Although this is Howardâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s first baking job she creates excellent pastries as though she has worked in a bakery her whole life. Alison Bakery at 4131 El Camino Real has been in business in Palo Alto for more than three months. The shop consists of two parts separated in the middle by a wall, the left side serving baked goods, sandwiches and drinks, and the right side offering ice cream and frozen yogurt. One must exit the building, and then re-enter through a different door to go from one section to the other, creating the feeling of two separate eateries. The large assortment of pastries are located in the entrance of the bakery in glass display cases. An array of local artistsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; paintings and holiday decorations are sprinkled throughout the shop, creating a relaxing atmosphere. FRUIT TARTS An assortment of colorful fruit tarts are sold at Alison Bakery

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Alison Bakery is inviting and one of few local bakeries located on El Camino between San Antonio and University Avenue. “Everything is made here,” says Sherry Alison, owner of Alison Bakery, bakers make the sandwich rolls and pastries fresh each day. There are two bakers that come during the day to make the treats. The first arrives early, at 3 a.m. and he starts baking and preparing the food for the morning rush. Later in the day, around noon., the second baker, Howard, comes onto the scene and prepares anything that has been sold out or needs replenishing. Howard, who graduated from Paly three and a half years ago, says she has always loved baking. Recently graduated from the International Culinary School at the Art Institute of California in Sacramento, she has been working at Alison Bakery for about two and a half months. The bakery offers cookies to cinnamon buns, croissants and éclairs, as well as quality sandwiches on homemade bread. One popular item is sticky buns ($2.50). The moist treat has a cinnamon taste and sweet icing drizzled on top. A less sweet item sold at Alison Bakery is the cranberry and orange zest scone ($2). The crumbly texture complements the moistness and citrus orange flavor of the scone. The banana nut muffin ($2.50) stands out. Its blend of nutmeg and other spices lingers in the mouth. The texture is soft and slightly chewy with occasional bits of crunchy nuts and banana. Another decadent dessert are cream

puffs ($1.95). Available either partially dipped in chocolate or with powdered sugar drizzled on top, the cream puffs are stuffed with a buttery, smooth filling. The flaky outside shell is plain, but pleasantly complements the rich cream inside. The cream puff tastes creamy, yet light. Apple Gallettes ($2.95) sold at Alison Bakery combine both the tartness and sweetness of apples and are well crafted in a dainty artistic manner. With a single blueberry in the center, the Apple Gallette consists of a flaky pastry on the bottom and a circle of thinly sliced apple pieces lying on top in a circle like a wheel. The chewy apples were covered with a sticky layer and sprinkled with a touch of cinnamon sugar, adding just enough sweetness. A cookie hidden toward the back of the display case is the fabulous Almond Molasses Cookie ($2). A buttery sugar cookie piled high with clusters of crunchy almond slivers held together with a sticky molasses paste, this cookie may not be as eye-catching as some of the others but has a wonderful flavor. The bakery is easy to walk to for neighborhood residents and a popular lunch spot. Tables are set up both inside and outside, encouraging customers to hang out. The sitting area is bright and decorated with local art that gets rotated periodically. Alison boasts that her pastries are made fresh from scratch daily and her business listens and acts upon costumer feedback. The bakery even tries to use ingredients from local vendors, she says. Although Alison Bakery is one of few

shops on that section of El Camino where one can buy a treat, a sandwich and or an ice cream, it is located right next to Starbucks. Alison does not view that competition as problematic. “We complement each other,” Alison says. “They have great coffee and we have great pastries.” v

PASTRIES Display cases allow customers to view the pastries up close december 2011



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Inappropriate appropriation Because cultural symbols don’t always make good fashion accessories Text by MELISSA WEN Art by DIANA CONNOLLY and MELISSA WEN


id you know that I’m part Navajo? Well, I’m not, actually, but I wish I were, because Navajo headdresses are totally adorable! You can expect to see me wearing my new pink feather headdress this week, along with a Cherokee tear dress, Sioux war shirt, and sexy buckskin leggings. I think I’ll throw in some moccasins and glitter face paint to get that Indian princess look. O b v i o u s l y, the above paragraph is troubling. But why? The dilemma can be identified as cultural appropriation—generally defined as the borrowing of cultural symbols, practices or artifacts from a culture that is not one’s own. Often the borrower is the majority culture, and the culture borrowed from is less privileged or marginalized. Cultural appropriation is ubiquitous in American fashion

and in Palo Alto. In the above example, the appropriation is clear; however, there are more subtle instances of the same problem that pervade current fashion trends and that even the culturally conscientious may not be aware of. For example, American Apparel’s borrows from African culture with it’s “Afrika” line, and it capitalized on a traditional Chinese garment by selling the “Asian Conical Hat” earlier this year. There is also the multitude of colorfully patterned clothes marketed as “Native American” inspired; Urban Outfitters, under pressure from Navajo Nation, recently renamed several triangular-print adorned clothing and accessories it had originally described as “Navajo.” Not only does the mish-mash of tribal clothing completely misrepresent Native Americans, the frivolous treatment of cultural products as significant only for their relevance to contemporary fashion disrespects their culture by not recognizing their deeper meaning. I personally have seen numerous instances of this cultural indifference, in stores as well as on people in Palo Alto, and I’m sure most of us have seen appropriation at the mall. We should all be aware of this problem and evaluate our fashion choices carefully. We must recognize harmful instances of the act, and respond accordingly to companies that choose to engage in cultural insensitivity. According to Palo Alto sociology teacher Benjamin Bolanos, who has stud-

ied appropriation, the intent of the selling company is paramount. He raises several questions that consumers should ask. “What is the intention of that company? Who’s buying those products? Is it going to be white culture? Is it going to be American culture? What are the prices on those goods?” he says. As an example, let’s look at American Apparel’s “Afrika” line, which features clothing such as spandex leggings and T-shirts with distinctly “tribal” prints. Apply Bolanos’s questions to other acts of appropriation, including many ouftits seen on Palo Alto streets, and the major problems with African inspired mini-dresses become evident. First is the fact that the name “Afrika” is a misnomer. “The sym december 2011



“It’s kind of pointless to think that cultural products can remain locked up in a particular ethnic group. ” — Stanford sociology assistant professor TOMÁS JIMÉNEZ bols [on the Afrika clothes] are very stereotypical. [Americans] already have a monolithic view of Africa.” “It perpetuates this idea that ‘these are patterns of Africa and here’s what is typical of African culture’ and that might not be the case,” Bolanos says. Africa contains more than 50 countries, but the name “Afrika” reduces dozens of distinct cultures into a trendy print, which at best misrepresents African culture, and at worst perpetuates stereotypes. A similar quandary arises with appropriation such as the “Asian Conical Hat” or Native American Hal-

hats are, they reinforce a very stereotypical image of Asian people. Likewise, Native American costumes cannot possibly reflect all of the hundreds of tribes that currently exist. Native American culture consists of individuals; when one dresses as a “Native American” the most one will be able to achieve is a generalized, trite portrait.

loween costumes. As this lovely rice with paddy NAVAJO By selling hipasflask “Navajo” in the name, Urban Outfitters encouraged cultural insensitivity in addition to alcohol consumption. It’s “Navajo” products also included an otherwise harmless and rather attractive dress; fortunately Urban Outfitters has since changed the names to “Patterned Bustier Dress” and “Printed Fabric Wrapped Flask.”


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The lack of a display of cultural understanding makes these instances of appropriation even more problematic. Were companies and consumers to fully appreciate the significance of the cultural symbols they appropriate, a strong argument could be made that this appropriation displays a genuine sense of cosmopolitism. But the motivations behind appropriation seem to be mainly money and aesthetic appeal. “Incorporating symbols like that of minority groups and then selling it for doesn’t stick well,” Bolanos says. The appropriation from ethnic minorities makes the situation especially dubious. Bolanos draws a comparison from this kind of cultural appropriation to the phenomenon of “hipsters” wearing clothing appropriated from more disadvantaged socioeconomic classes. Although one could argue that this action breaks down class barriers, the idea of blue-collar clothing being copied as a fashion statement by the much richer, who cannot and presumably do not attempt to understand lower class struggles, strikes a sour chord. Likewise, when appropriating from a minority culture one often inevitably faces a history of contentious relations that takes effort to fully appreciate. For example, Vogue Italia recently caused a stir with “Slave Earrings” it featured in it’s magazine. Although editor-in-chief of Vogue Italia Franca Sozzani claimed the unfortunate name to be a mistranslation, the magazine’s statement that the name might“[bring] to the mind the decorative traditions of the women of color who were brought to the southern United States during the slave trade” implies deliberate intent. Even if the name was a mistake, the fact that the magazine purposefully cited the jewelry of enslaved African Americans as fashion inspiration is still disturbing. African American slaves suffered terrible abuse, and the magazine does not acknowledge any historical background except for the fact that slaves apparently wore cute earrings. However, even if magazine displayed awareness of the history behind slavery, Vogue Italia still acts wrongly by glamorizing suffering. To borrow flippantly from other cultures risks trivializing symbols which actually con-

tain profound meaning, and, like it or not, the more privileged borrower may never understand how it feels to be marginalized. I don’t intend to argue that culture can never be mixed or borrowed. It is apparent that in our increasingly connected world cultures cannot be confined in steel boxes. Not every type of appropriation necessarily offends or oppresses. Tomás Jiménez, assistant professor in sociology at Stanford University agrees. “Culture is very fluid,” says Jiménez. “It’s kind of pointless to think that cultural products can remain locked up in a particular ethnic group.” According to Jiménez, appropriation can offend, but is harmless when done tastefully. “It’s an easy way for people to display their cosmopolitanism,” he says. Thus, in dealing with the problem of appropriation, one must also distinguish between harmful instances of the act and acts that genuinely display multiculturalism. For example, Jazz music originated largely from African Americans, but has now been infused with other musical styles and incorporated into mainstream culture. This mingling of cultures occurred more naturally, through the inevitable contact that different groups in the same geographical area must come to with one another. In contrast, appropriation by clothing companies entails the deliberate commodification of cultural identity Not everyone will agree with this interpretation. The key to determining the often-fragile line between harmful and acceptable instances of appropriation is to evaluate them on an individual basis. Fundamentally, I urge consumers to be more aware of appropriation, and to voice their concerns. Financial responsibility entails not only saving money and spend-

ing it moderately, but also questioning the actions taken by the places to which we feed our dollars. This means putting intelligent thought into the clothing choices presented to us, and expressing dissent when necessary. Although U r b a n

O utfitters did not remove it’s Navajo products until after it received a cease and desist letter from the Navajo Nation government, who claimed the name Navajo as a trademark, the controversy began with a letter posted on a blog, written by a woman who found the products offensive. “We have a duty to as American citizens to question and to actually give constructive feedback to companies,” Bolanos says. I agree that we ought to not only be aware of appropriation, but also be active. Although clothing companies may seem beyond our reach, the Urban Outfitters situation proves that individual voices can impact the multitude. v

“We have a duty to as American citizens to question and to actually give constructive feedback to companies. ” — Paly sociology teacher BENJAMIN BOLANOS

AFRIKA Despite the clever name, American Apparel’s tribal printed clothing does not actually accurately represent African culture. We ought to be aware of this kind of misappropriation while shopping at any store. december 2011



Suit yourself

How dressing well helps you out in high school Text by SPENCER CARLSON Art by DIANA CONNOLLY


ppearance matters. Suppose you walk in to history class for your final presentation. You glance around the room, at the tan walls made bleak by fluorescent lighting and at the people between those walls, and you notice that amidst the sea of students who have dressed down for finals, in their sweatpants or pajama bottoms, one or two look pretty great on that day. You might even pay a little extra attention or respect to their presentations, just because they seem to be asking for it. The question is, why wouldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t a person want to be seen in the best possible light? However unjust it may be, we live in a society that judges people based on the way they dress and groom themselves. In fact, according to a Princeton University psychology study, the human brain makes snap judgements about people within one tenth of a second, based on their appearance. With only one tenth of a second to make a good impression on others, it is in your best interests to make the most of that time. High school is a time of intense human interaction, both socially and academically. On a block day, an average Paly student will attend three or four classes with 20 to 30 other students in each. By this estimate, they will probably


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see at least 80 other students on a threeperiod day, without counting brunch and lunch. Therefore, on a seven-period day, an average student could see at least 140 other students. According to the Princeton study, this means that on the first day of high school, each of us had less than 14 seconds of first impressions, out of the eight hours that made up the day. Thankfully, the first day of high school is behind us, but there will be many more first impressions to come. The first day at a job and the first day at college come to mind. Those who can learn right now how to make the best of those first impressions will be more likely to enjoy success in the future. This is supported by research. People whose profession requires human interaction are more likely to be promoted if they dress well, according to a survey of employers conducted by When dealing with people, dressing well pays off. Given this fact, and considering the fact that high school offers students the opportunity to prepare themselves for the working world, it makes sense that students should take advantage of the opportunity to begin refining their selfpresentation. Contrary to the unfortunate message that much of pop culture and entertain-

ment media broadcasts, there is no need to change your body to please others. Each person has a unique face and body that is part of their individual identity. The clothing you put on your body helps to highlight this individual identity, whereas procedures such as cosmetic surgery attempt to cover it up. A thoughtfully curated wardrobe has the effect of framing your unique features and character in a way that compliments both, thus helping to define you as a distinct individual. Many people are adamant that high school should not be a time when students have to worry about what others think of them â&#x20AC;&#x201D; that high school should be a time when people can feel comfortable in their forming idenities. I do not disagree. Dressing well is not about pretending to be somebody else to deflect the criticism or judgement of others. It is about expressing your personality so that others do not misunderstand or misjudge you. One should dress and groom oneself well in high school because every person is unique, and each has an opportunity to show this by dressing to accentuate his or her character. Students who can do so are less likely to be misjudged. High school may be a time of harsh assumptions made by peers, but there is nothing stopping us from putting our best foot forward, and dressing it well. v

december 2011



The gift that keeps on giving Navigating the holiday hazard of “regifting” Text by ELISA REROLLE Art by DIANA CONNOLLY


open the wrapping paper. My face freezes, a smile stiffening and stretching into what I hope is one of pure bliss and thankfulness. The only thing running through my mind? “What in the world am I ever going to do with this? Crap. She must totally know that I hate it. SMILE!” It’s just one of those moments when I really wished I’d prac-


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ticed my poker face in the mirror a couple more times. Every year, we each get that gift from a random acquaintance or distant relative. You know, the one we aren’t quite sure what to do with. It ultimately brings up the eternal moral dilemna of the holidays: regift or let sit on a shelf ? Pause. Although the word “regift” is rather self-explanatory, I’ll whip out my handy dandy Oxford English Dictionary. To Regift: to give a gift one has received to someone else. Or, in fewer words: To gift again (and again, and again, and again in some cases). I frankly don’t believe in wasting, but I don’t want to go around shoving random objects in vague acquaintances’ hands either. So is regifting acceptable? Yes. But with certain guidelines.

No spreading the disease; only regift for a reason, that is, if you are sure the person on the receiving end will truly appreciate the gift. It should be like thoughtful gift shopping without leaving your house, not rummaging through bins for the cleanest thing to hand off. No unloading unwanted presents on other people. They are not trash cans for homeless gifts. As corny as it may sound, a present’s quality isn’t judged on how much money the gifter spends on it, but how much the reciever actually appreciates it. So slapping down an extra $20 in a random store won’t guarantee you a positive response. Thinking about a person’s likes and dislikes will, on the other hand. “I’ve gotten some regifted gifts before and they’re probably some of my favorite gifts ever because it doesn’t matter how much you spend on the object,” Palo Alto High School junior Ben Hawthorne says. “It just matters how much thought you put into it. Oftentimes, regifted gifts have more thought put into them because people aren’t just stopping at CVS at the last minute. They’re actually rooting around their house to find something you would actually like.” Here’s a theoretical example: maybe my friend Lola loves lavender lotion. Great. I never would have used it. So if anyone can give the lotion some appreciatin’, they

“My boyfriend ... gave me a necklace that he took from this other girl that her friend had bought for her. He tried to give that to me and I gave it back to him and broke up with him.” — anonymous sophomore deserve it more than me. Many balk at the idea of regifting, saying it is an insult to the thought put into the selection of the gift. “I’ve always felt that if I get a gift, somebody took the time to give it to me so why should I give it to somebody else?” Paly English and journalism teacher, Mike McNulty, says. Social Studies teacher Steve Foug also agrees with this idea. “I would always feel too guilty about regifting, so I never have,” Foug says. “I always think about, oh, they went out, they picked this for me and they gave me a present. Regifting it, I would feel guilty.” While their focus on the thought behind the gift rather than the actual object is a legitimate one, it doesn’t push the option of regifting out of the picture. Assuming first that the gifter genuinely put some thought into the choice instead of grabbing the first shiny object in the store, this is a valid point. So bask in the afterglow of the love brought by the gift, and when it starts to fade give it to someone who will genuinely appreciate it. Also, be careful: Regifting may be hazardous to your relationships’ health. Take it from this Paly sophomore, who asked to remain anonymous. “My boyfriend ... gave me a necklace that he took from this other girl that her friend had bought for her. He tried to give that to me and I gave it back to him and broke up with him,” she says.

That’s just ... no. No way is it ever okay to steal, and for a birthday present? Man, pull yourself together. Learn from this: Cheap is not resourceful. As a ground rule, keep your dislike of presents on the down low, something freshman Paul Mewes could have warned you of. “My grandpa always give us bad gifts, like old junk from his garage,” Mewes says. “Once we had a garage sale and we sold it, and then he came [our grandpa] and bought it all back. He seemed kind of mad.” Maybe avoid public reselling next time? Caught or not, reckless regifting can lead to awkward moments. Junior Gabriella Bahlman recounts a close call. “My friend gave me earrings and I gave them to another friend,” Bahlman says. “Then they were talking and she said, ‘Cute earrings! I gave her [Gabriella] the same ones’. I was like, ‘Yeah, let’s go, I’m leaving.’” So be careful in regifting. Do it in a subtle, intelligent manner. See right for some simple tips to avoid regifting fiascos. There’s no point in hurting anyone’s feelings or putting yourself in uncomfortable positions. That being said, gift away, people: you know no matter what, your present will be appreciated by someone, though it may not end up in the loving home you orginially planned it for. v

Rules and Regulations for Risk-free Regifting 1. First thing’s first: Don’t give someone a gift that you wouldn’t appreciate yourself. Think about what they like, not what’s easiest for you. Stop the regifting cycle before it even starts. Please. 2. But if you come upon one such useless present, label it before you store it for later. (Who gave it to you would be a good start. Let’s avoid that awkward moment when you return someone’s gift three years later). Who knows how long it will be before the present comes out of the ‘to regift’ basket? 3. Pay attention to social circles, and don’t regift within one. It helps avoid getting caught and being labeled as cheap. 4. Check gift cards for names. Most have a line in the card holder for the recipient’s name — makes sure it’s blank before you pass it on. december 2011



#uglypeopleproblems When “beautiful on the inside” becomes a cop-out compliment, it’s time to protest Text by SHARON TSENG Art by DIANA CONNOLLY


egs that go on for miles, a stomach so flat it’s practically concave, and lace instead of clothes: that pretty much sums up last month’s Victoria Secret runway show. While I personally did not watch it, judging by the Facebook statuses on my newsfeed, it filled my fellow teen girls with a mixture of envy, self-loathing and despair. How could us mere mortals compare to Victoria Secret angels? Well we can’t. But that’s okay! We’re beautiful on the inside and that makes up for all of it! Or... does it? In a teen world where self-esteem relies on the approval of others, the phrase “beautiful on the inside” acts as a consolation prize for everyone who doesn’t qualify as superficially beautiful. Although most people declare this deceiving compliment with sincerity, intending to boost someone’s self confidence, it has the opposite effect and only reinforces the idea that self-worth depends on what others think of you. “Beautiful on the inside” is a misleading and useless phrase people need to save for those rare instances when an angel of a person really deserves the compliment. Furthermore, stop seeing beauty only through the eyes of others and accept your flaws, no matter how ugly they are. If someone tells you you are beautiful on the inside, it pretty much directly translates to “I don’t think you’re goodlooking but I don’t want to hurt your feeling so I’ll just say something that vaguely resembles what you want to hear.” Feelin’ the love, my friends! True, there are people who are “beau-

tiful on the inside,” but unless you are the guy who treated his own mugger to dinner because he felt obligated to be nice to everyone, I don’t think you qualify. Unless you are the mysterious winner of the Kansas Lottery who donated their $10,000 winnings to a local hospital, you don’t deserve that title. Unless you are Ghandi or Mother Teresa or Martin Luther King reincarnated, sorry, but you’re just not eligible. It would be wonderful if everyone in the world was good-hearted and rainbows literally came out of everyone’s mouths. However, that’s not reality. Not everyone can be perfectly beautiful in all aspects. Sadly, most people instead fit into the category of “ugly on the inside.” Don’t deny it, you’re probably ugly, too. But don’t hate — appreciate! Embrace your flaws! Beauty, whether inside or out, is not everything. Now here’s where I start spouting the clichés, but bear with me because some of this white noise does ring true:

Don’t deny it, you’re probably ugly, too.


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Everyone really is unique and everyone’s individual quirks make each person amazing and special in their own way. Accept who you are because you can’t change yourself. You can only change how you view yourself. It’s not wrong to try to improve yourself, but everyone should learn to appreciate themselves for who they are. I’m not encouraging you to be a heartless, nasty person. Just don’t obsess too much about appearing all-around beautiful. People place too much importance on others’ perception of beauty. Obviously, the innovative solution of “inner beauty” appreciation hasn’t exactly skyrocketed people’s self confidence. There’s a reason why it’s called self-confidence! It only comes with appreciation of yourself, when you start seeing the beauty of things, not through others’ eyes, but through your own. As they say, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. While I wish everyone could embrace this empowering philosophy, that’s just not the case. Just keep my ramblings in mind the next time you feel ashamed and I’ll leave you with one last cliché: Stop worrying about what others think of you and just enjoy life! Or in the words of Tom Haverford: treat yo’ self. v


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december 2011 41 Art provided by ALICE WANG


Keeping the song alive A woman’s passion for music leads to the creation of a scholarship Text by ELISA REROLLE Photographs courtesy of KAYE PAUGH


long with millions of other Americans that morning, an eighteen-year-old Gail Petty woke to the news of the bombing of Pearl Harbor. It was Dec. 7, 1941, the same day as her organ concert. As news of the catastrophe trickled in, Petty doubted whether anyone would show up to fill the church’s 2,000 seats, but as she mounted the steps to the organ, she looked over a packed room. Familiar faces stood out— close family and friends, along with those of the boys of her class, many of whom would enlist in the Army the next day and many of whom she would never see again. As the nation teetered on the edge of war, Petty pushed through the fear and performed her two hour concert. Musical from a very young age, Petty later lent her years of experience as a performer to any choir student who asked, attending Paly choir concerts for over 40 years. Petty attended every concert in which her children and grandchildren performed, including her daughter’s, now retired English teacher Kaye Paugh. She was always willing to go over audition pieces with nervous, hopeful singers, imparting the importance of a strong work ethic, though she was never an official choir teacher. “Rehearsal and practice to achieve excellence was intrinsic to my mother’s character and standards,” Paugh says, a quality


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learned from a young age, the hard way. Petty started playing piano at the age of seven, but the attention and focus required were a challenge for the young girl. Paugh remembers her mother telling her stories of face-offs between her grandmother and mother. Petty enjoyed playing the piano in the beginning, but “as more practice came into it, she wasn’t as excited about it,” Paugh says. In protest, “she climbed up a tree and stayed out there for many, many hours and it began to be a real test of will as who was going to give in first: my grandmother or my mother. ” From the top of the tree, Petty said, “Either let me quit my lessons or I will never come down and stay out here forever.” Cold eventually won out and Petty came down and continued to practice. She later realized that the effort she had put into learning the basics would allow her to play the pieces she wanted. Her interest in music sparked with the discovery of Nelson Eddy and Jeanette MacDonald musical films and she started expanding beyond the usual classical repertoir. “She wanted to be able to play their songs, and so that just really made her fascinated with the piano all the more,” Paugh explains. “That was kind of the trigger.” And so Petty began playing just for the love of it, something that would last her for the rest of her life. “I particularly remember falling asleep listening to my mother play the piano,” Paugh recalls.

PIANO PLAYING Above: Gail Petty and her husband in Europe in the late 1990s. Below: Petty at age seven or eight was already taking piano lessons. She was always an exuberant performer, playing the pipe organ in threeinch heels. “She loved to follow what was going on on Broadway and would rewrite the lyrics to things,” Paugh remembers. “She was just very interested in young people,” Paugh says. The Gail Wells Petty Memorial Choral Scholarship was created in her name to continue supporting and motivating young choir students to pursue and attain highest quality performance. Though the award was given out in 2011 for the last time, a plaque with all previous recipients names hangs in the choir room. Following in her mother’s footsetps, a new choir scholarship was created in Paugh’s names. The recipient of the Petty award is a senior choir student who had “taken advantage of every program, class, lesson and seminar possible to develop his or her musical abilities... one who loves music and the joy it can bring to both the performer as well as the audience”, states the formal description of the award. The award created in her name hoped to inspire younger generations to pursue their love of music and push them to practice and aspire to more. v

Alice’s winter wonderland Freshman publishes picture book that expresses character


ilting her outstretched arms as though catching the current, Palo Alto High School freshman Alice Wang soars through the sun-drenched breezeways of the school. A broad smile lights upon her animated face. Wang continues her mock-flight for a few moments before coming to a halt before me and letting out a childlike laugh. Like the penguin protagonist of her recently-published picture book Antarctic Wings, Wang used to wish she could fly. Last year, while still an eighth-grader at

Text by JESSICA JIN Art courtesy of ALICE WANG Photography by ANNIE CHEN

Jordan Middle School, Wang wrote and illustrated the story of a penguin who yearns to fly and consults an albatross, a petrel, and other flighted birds for advice before learning to appreciate the magic of his inborn ability, swimming. Wang found her inspiration for her book, which was published June of 2011 by the self-publishing company Xlibris, in a common maxim. “I was inspired by the saying, ‘if pigs can fly,’ since one of my friends had a Tshirt that said ‘If pigs can fly,’” Wang says. “I happened to see her a lot, and so I saw the saying a lot, too, and I kept getting

random ideas, and writing a picture book happened to be one of them.” But it is her cute, friendly personality, combined with her art, that makes Wang memorable, and it is this character that is brilliantly captured within the pages of her book. A blooming artist Her father attributes Wang’s early education at Bing School at Stanford and College Terrace Children’s Center of PACCC with nurturing her enthusiasm for art. As he recalls, Wang found her earliest fans at College Terrace. >>> december 2011


[ PROFILE ] >>> “The director at College Terrace at the time was pretty good at drawing sketches,” Suwen says. “Towards the end of her preschool days, at the end of almost every school day, there would be two tables surrounded with kids. One was with the director of the center drawing pictures for kids and the other table with Alice drawing pictures for other kids.” Noticing his daughter’s passion, Suwen enrolled her at the Fang Yunhua art studio when she was five years old. Today, Wang remains a dedicated student at the studio. Wang describes art as an outlet. “Art is really important to me because it lets me express whatever I’m thinking or feeling,” Wang says. “It helps me calm down and cheer up whenever I’m feeling down to draw my emotions onto paper.” In a nation recently taken by storm by Amy Chua’s Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, Suwen Wang’s parenting philosophy stands in stark contrast to that of the dictatorial, controlling Asian parent painted by Chua. “I generally support kids’ interests, including my own kids’ and other kids’,” Suwen says. “I believe parents or adults in general should provide guidance to what kids should do instead of forcing them to do what they are not interested in. This is probably quite different from a lot of Asian parents, but it’s a more positive way to raise kids.” Suwen’s efforts have paid off; his daughter is thoroughly invested in art, which she loves. But Suwen is sure to emphasize the joy Wang takes from

her work over her success. “I’m very proud of her achievements, but I’m more happy that she enjoys what she does,” Suwen says. Flightless , but happy “The penguin never tried to fly again. But he continued to stare at the sky. Whenever other penguins asked if he really gave up on flying, he would say, ‘I might not be able to fly in the sky, but to be able to fly in the water is enough for me. I’m happy the way I am.” With blithe innocence and a caring personality, Wang models the self-acceptance finally learned by “the penguin.” “Alice is a really great girl; she’s kind of different compared to everyone in a way you wouldn’t expect,” says fellow Paly freshman and studio friend Jessie Lwi. “She acts like a child–in fact, more like a cartoon character. Which isn’t bad; [it] makes her fun.” Indeed, Alice’s eccentricities are numerous. She narrates her life in third person (i.e. saying “is happy” when content) and greets her friends very enthusiastically. Upon seeing me, she runs over, arms wide open, cries “O.J.!” (her nickname for me) and gives me a hug. Friends characterize her as “bubbly, happy, and really really naive.” “She’s full of life,” Lwi says. “I almost never see her down. In fact, she’s never down.” According to Wang, her happiness stems from a desire to remain optimistic. “I think that it’s just easier to see the positive aspects of life than the negative ones, because bad

things will always be happening, but good ones will always be happening, too,” Wang says. “I think that it’s not worth it to be depressed, and that it’s best to just live the best you can with what you’ve got.” Wang always makes time for her friends, often trying to bring them closer together. “She always worries for others,” Lwi says. “This one time she tried to get all her friends to have a gift exchange because everyone didn’t talk to each other. She wanted to bond them together,which is something you don’t see a lot” Yet Wang’s demeanor belies a fierce will and refusal to give up. “Alice looks like she hasn’t grown up yet, but she’s really strong in this area [persistence],” Fang says in Mandarin. “She has tremendous ‘yi li,’ a Chinese term for resilience, but much stronger than resilience. She’ll fall again and again, but she’ll persevere and do it, so in the end she will succeed.” This was demonstrated in her success in the United Nations Environment Programme’s Global Painting Competition. Two years ago, Alice won first in North America and first intentionally in the contest. “She won the UN art competition, but only after six years of entering unsuccessfully.,” Fang says. “She started trying when she was six, and didn’t win until she was 11. Most kids will only try once or twice, at most three times, before they give up because they didn’t win so they don’t want to continue.” Perhaps Alice’s perseverance results from an emphasis of learning over winning. “I just thought something along the lines of ‘It’s okay that I didn’t win, because really, it’s just a contest,’” Wang says. “And if I don’t win, at least I’ve practiced and hopefully improved.” When asked “What’s your swimming, your substitute for flying?” Wang responded, “I can walk,” bursting into laughter. Wang remains rooted to the earth, but her spirits soar with the birds. v Editor’s note: For the past year, Jessica Jin has also studied art at the Fang Yunhua art studio.


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Finding time for sunsets Anna Luskin chose peace over prestige when planning her future Text by KATY ABBOTT Photographs provided by the PALO ALTO HIGH SCHOOL YEARBOOK and PALO ALTO ONLINE


hen the editor of the Palo Alto Weekly asked high school summer intern Anna Luskin if she had ever really watched a sun set, Luskin’s immediate response was, “Who has the time to do that?” The editor’s question was greeted with some astonishment by both Luskin and her fellow intern, at that time also a Palo Alto High School junior. Their surprise was equally confusing to their editor, Jay Thorwaldson, who as a child had whiled away hours on his horse near Los Gatos, spending time outside. He insisted that they both take the time to watch a sun set from start to finish. So during the next school year Luskin drove to Skyline Boulevard for her attempt, and afterwards she put her feelings about it into words. From this incident with her editor was born the column she wrote in the Weekly on Jan. 26, 2005: “First Person: Can you pass the ‘watching the sun set’ test?” Anxiety about college applications and school had already caused Luskin severe headaches during her junior year. Her doctor attributed the headaches to stress and overwork, and they were coupled with Luskin’s discovery that there were too few hours in the day for her to get everything done. If she hadn’t had enough time to enjoy a relaxing junior year, when would she have had time to watch a whole sunset? In her column, Luskin, by then a senior at Paly, explained her reaction to Thorwaldson’s question and her attempt to watch a complete sunset — which, by the way, was unsuccessful. Even so, Luskin

still managed to realize something im- ty interested in it [journalism] as early as portant about accepting life and letting I can remember,” Danny says. “She had things be, according to Thorwaldson. kind of figured out what she wanted to “It [The column] really went into do with her life.” how she felt about things,” ThorwaldFred Luskin, her father, agrees. “She son says. “She had an ability to go a little was always interested in the psychology of deeper into her own feelings.” what made people do things. She wanted Luskin was known by Palo Alto to transmit information,” Fred says, exresidents as the girl who expressed in plaining that Luskin liked to analyze and 827 words in the Weekly the pressure examine other that many high school students felt people’s acabout applying to colleges, and tions. He who wrote a well-received column about sunsets. Readers knew her as the editorial page intern who wrote a father-daughter column about her future. And they knew her as the girl who died in a car crash on the way home from southern California in 2007. Her untimely death shocked the community her words had already affected. In a period when so many of her peers had no idea what they might want to do with their lives, Luskin offered a clear contrast. She knew what she wanted to do and had pursued it in high school, joining the staff of The Paly Voice and giving up varsity softball her senior year to focus on journalism. According to Danny Luskin, her brother, Luskin had mapped out and planned out her life early. “She was pret- INTERNSHIP Anna Luskin at the Palo Alto Weekly in 2004. december 2011



BREAK FROM SCHOOL Anna Luskin, right, and friend Elena Burton spend time together during their freshman year. says this trait encouraged her interest in journalism. While she pursued her journalism dreams, Luskin put into words her feelings of stress, uncertainty, and hesitation — feelings that most high school students shared — and broadcasted them to the Palo Alto community in her Weekly columns, which ran from the summer after her junior year to the middle of her senior year. Like other teenagers, Luskin liked to practice sports, played an instrument in the Paly band, went to football games, and worried about where she would go to college. In 2004 and 2005, Luskin wrote four columns for the Weekly, sharing insights about the college application process, expressing how demanding it could be, and what a struggle it was to satisfy everyone, including one’s parents, teachers, and, most importantly, colleges. Her sentiments are still shared among high school students today. “It makes it a lot harder to feel good about your achievements when everyone around you seems to be doing better,” Luskin wrote in 2004 during the summer afer her senior year. She told the story of meeting with her college counselor for the first time and finding out that, according to colleges, what she was doing

wasn’t enough. Even though her father had always told her she would appeal to colleges, the counselor told her a different story. Luskin worried that she would be judged by her peers if she didn’t get into a well-known, prestigious school, so she struggled to achieve a 4.0 GPA, wanting to be the perfect applicant. However, physically she couldn’t take it, getting severe headaches from the stress. Thorwaldson, the editor of the Week-

a University of California school without any journalism program. At the same time, the competitive high school atmosphere made it difficult for her to admit this. “It’s not so easy to sacrifice status and prestige in a community that values those so much,” Luskin wrote in a column on Sept. 1, 2004 in her senior year. But she came to terms with her conflicting interests nonetheless. Luskin had originally set her sights on UCLA as her first choice. But her acceptance to California Polytechnic University — father FRED LUSKIN in San Luis Obispo, a school known for ly, encouraged her not to focus on the its journalism program and well-regarded reputation of the college itself, but on the in the academic world, was the perfect reputation of the department she was in- school for her. terested in. He recommended San FranLuskin’s decision allowed her to encisco State University for its well-known joy her senior year at a time when many journalism program and Luskin took a of her peers were going through the tour. stressed-out ordeal that has become a Afterwards, according to Thorwald- ritual among Paly students. The peace she son, she told him, “I know intellectually found early on contrasted with the typical that you’re right. My brain tells me that anxiety of applying to college and decidyou’re right. But my heart wonders what ing one’s future, giving Luskin the oppormy friends will think of me if I went to tunity to have a senior year comparatively San Francisco State [University].” free of stress. Over the summer, Luskin realized As much as she dedicated her time to that she would rather go to SFSU than college and her future, Luskin still tried

“She was always interested in the psychology of what made people do things.”


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From left to right, Nanor Balabanian, Ayelet Bitton, and Alexandra Messick, the past recipients of the Anna Luskin Memorial Award in 2008, 2009, and 2011. Contributions to the fund can be made out to the Anna Luskin Memorial Award and sent to: Palo Alto Unified School District Care of Thien Le, trusts 25 Churchill Avenue, Palo Alto, CA, 94301

to make time for anyone who seemed to with minor injuries, Luskin’s injuries were old when she died, Luskin had already need her. Her brother, Danny, remem- fatal. planned out what she wanted to do with bered Luskin as being extraordinary in Her death was felt throughout the her life, encompassing marriage, family, the way she always listened to people and Palo Alto community. More than 360 work, and everything else that mattered seemed interested in everything they had attendees showed up to the memorial to her. In a one-page assignment for a to say, how she was always both caring service at Paly. Although he considers college class, she had mapped everything and outgoing, and the way that she tried himself a hardened journalist, Thorwald- out, balancing both career success and to remember the little things. son, the former editor of the Weekly, re- caring for others. “She loved to talk to people,” Danny members choking up when he spoke at Luskin wrote about becoming the says. “And she was always interested in the service. editor of the Weekly, a sentiment that what was going on in the world.” “Someone who’s been a journalist for touched Thorwaldson. She hoped that And despite her stress and confusion 50-something years shouldn’t have a soft “the people [she] loved knew how much navigating high school [she] loved and appreciated and adulthood, Luskin them.” And she mentioned was able to laugh at herher boyfriend, whom she self. According to Danplanned to marry after their ny, she was not known graduation from Cal Poly. for her sense of direcAfter the accident, her tion. When they drove, boyfriend asked for permishe would always try to sion from her parents to steer her the right way, marry her while she was still but she would insist that on life-support, and they held she knew where she was the ceremony in Luskin’s — former editor of the Palo Alto Weekly JAY THORWALDSON going, not wanting to hospital room, according to admit that she was lost. Thorwaldson. “‘I know where I’m going,’” Danny spot,” Thorwaldson says. “But I cried a “It was very touching,” Thorwaldremembers his sister telling him. “[But] little bit.” son says. “You’d think that some of these once she realized that she was lost, she After Luskin’s death, an award was things would get easier. I find that it never could sit there and laugh for five minutes. dedicated in her name. Given out at the gets does. And so in Anna’s case she was She was that kind of person.” Paly Senior Awards Night each year, the vibrant and full of life. It was very hard Luskin had just completed her sec- Anna Rose Luskin Memorial Award for to see.” ond year at Cal Poly in 2007 when she Excellence in Journalism is awarded to a “I made sure no one in my life felt and her brother, driving home together student who has shown exemplary skill in neglected,” Luskin wrote in the last lines from southern California, were involved journalism each year. of her college assignment. “I lived a very in a car crash. Although Danny survived Even though she was only 20 years fulfilling life, filled with lots of love.” v

“Someone who’s been a journalist for 50-something years shouldn’t have a soft spot, but I cried a little bit [after she died]. ”

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photography by SPENCER CARLSON

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THE TUNNEL WALLS Art featured in the tunnels


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rawling under the pipes and into the entrance of the tunnels alarms two senses. The first is touch — high temperature and humidity are the first indicators of a climate out of place in Palo Alto — but the second and most alarming thing about the tunnels is the complete, overbearing darkness within. With the click of a flashlight button, one can escape this darkness and enter a world plastered with vibrant, whimsical images. “The tunnels” is the name many use to refer to the storm drain system that runs for miles beneath parts of Barron Park in Palo Alto, with ceiling heights of less than five feet in some places, and more than 15 feet in others. During the rainy months, the tunnels serve to transport rain water from the base of the foothills to the main storm drain systems in Palo Alto that flow to the Baylands. What visitors do in the tunnels is easily discernible from the empty glass bottles and aluminum cans found on the floor and the profusion of colorful graffiti covering the walls. It is this graffiti that gives the tunnels their reputation as a true underground art scene where people — mostly local high school students — can express their thoughts anonymously in a public space. Although some alcohol is clearly consumed in the tunnels, several students who make regular visits to the tunnels explain that most people refrain from using alcohol or other drugs there because they feel that the tunnels are an unsafe envi-

ronment for such experimentation. Although the tunnels have several entrances and exits, one of the better known is behind Henry M. Gunn High School. Gunn Assistant Principal Kimberley Cowell, who oversees facilities and construction at Gunn High School, relates nostalgic childhood memories of the tunnels. “I grew up just two blocks from Gunn, and my brother and our friends would sometimes go into the pipe from the creek end,” Cowell says. “There was a grate over the entrance, but the chain that held it was always broken.” Cowell recalls that ventures into the tunnels were limited by the season. “This adventure could only occur in dryer weather,” she says. Cowell did not mention any graffiti in her description of the tunnels, suggesting that this trend has emerged since the days of her childhood explorations. Palo Alto High School senior Harold, whose name has been changed to protect his identity, believes that the tunnels provide a unique setting that allows graffiti, something that is generally viewed as destructive, to be constructive. “The tunnels … are a place where we can go to express ourselves through art in a way that would be frowned upon anywhere else,” Harold says. “Graffiti and street art are, at least for me, a great way to illustrate something or just flesh out what I see in my life, and having a community that has built itself around a similar desire to color our surroundings with our experiences in a way that looks as cool as our art does, is invaluable.” v december 2011



-PLSK[YPWZ[VUV^OLYL How one lawsuit has changed the way school trips are funded Text by JACQUELINE WOO Art by DIANA CONNOLY


part from choir, journalism, and the occasional biology field trip, students at Paly rarely go on a class trip. And now, those excursions may become even more scarce, due to new policy regulations. The conflict started in August 2010, when the American Civil Liberties Union sued the State of California for violating Section 9 of the State Constitution. Section 9 says that public schools must provide a free and equal public education. Included in this rule are both school and club field trips. The ACLU accused California of not enforcing this law by allowing schools to charge for sports and club participation, field trips and class costs. In response, the state quickly wrote up a tentative agreement giving all school districts, including Palo Alto Unified School District, one year to reform their policies. PAUSD was not named in this lawsuit, but has taken notice. Fiscal Manager Yancy Hawkins says the district has begun reinforcing existing policies that the schools should have already been following. This new, stricter enforcement means that many teachers need to reconsider


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field trip expenses and must raise enough money to cover all students who would like to go on the trip. One impacted area is the exchange program and international visits for language students, which in the past were covered by a mandatory fee, including air-fare, hotels, bus and train fees, meal costs, and shopping. World Language Instructional Supervisor Kevin Duffy had several meetings the past year discussing this issue with other department heads across the district. “It’s very difficult under the current rules. In the case of a trip to another country, we felt there wouldn’t be a way to fundraise $3,000 for a student who wanted to go to Spain or Costa Rica but couldn’t afford it,” Duffy says. Despite the setback, which means that there will be no school-sponsored field trips abroad in the immediate feature, according to Duffy, he and other language teachers found a way around this policy. “If the teacher organizes a trip, and it is not school sponsored and doesn’t use school time, we were told that that was okay,” Duffy says. “Under those rules, the

teacher can open it [the field trip] up and say ‘Hey students, whoever can go, I’m organizing it with this company and here’s the opportunity.’” Some teachers have found another way around this law — by asking for donations and contributions to support a trip. This works with smaller, more local class field trips rather than trips overseas. Paly parent Susan Simpson believes those families who are capable of doing so should pay for the cost of school trips, but that there should be an option for families who can’t pay. “I think there should be a scholarship fund for the kids who can’t afford it,” Simpson says. “Most of the families in Palo Alto are financially fine, and can afford to pay for field trips and other extracurricular activities. But I know that there are some families in Palo Alto and East Palo Alto that can’t.” However, Simpson still believes that parents should be responsible for at least a part of the cost, especially if they can afford to pay. But who would cover the rest of the cost needed for students to attend these field trips? “I think the district [should be responsible],” Simpson says. Hawkins says there are two main options for teachers under the new enforcement. “They can fundraise and ask parents for additional donations to cover the remainder of the cost, or they can not go on the field trip,” Hawkins says. “There would not be a single student who wouldn’t go, it would be the entire class. No student would be singled out or be identified as someone who did not pay.” v

THE WATCH 54 56 58


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Students were mostly drawn to sitcoms and sweet-but-unconventional humor this year Text by ANA CARANO Art by DIANA CONNOLLY


o you still think “Gossip Girl” is still popular? Can you recognize people’s references to Ron Swanson’s Pyramid of Greatness? Are you informed about what’s happening with the Euro but not with Kurt Hummel’s love life? Just in case, Verde is here to give you the scoop on the television shows that drew our attention this year, and whether they were worth your time.


Palo Alto High School students still love “How I Met Your Mother,” despite how when it started we were still taking spelling tests. This phenomenon is less bizarre when viewed in light of its strengths, particularly that creators Craig Thomas and Carter Bays mix unconventional storytelling with straight-up humor. “The temporal displacement [frequent use of flashbacks] style with an overlaying narration is funny when combined with situations that easily cross between serious and fricking hilarious,” says junior Meridian Tran, a “How I Met Your Mother” fan. Although the show’s main conceit — Ted Mosby ( Josh Radnor) tells his life story to his children) — already experiments with the storytelling format, the show goes consistently further, with its usage of unreliable narration and even more stories within stories. “How I Met Your Mother” falls short when trying to add substance to its style. Unfortunately, the show is basically running out of plot. “I feel bad for those poor kids who are just sitting there listening to Ted talk for hours and hours,” Tran says. Still, no matter how long it takes to meet the mother or how many times Barney (Neil Patrick Harris) and Robin (Cobie Smulders) fall in and out of love, “How I Met Your Mother” makes its seven-season run seem less interminable. Even more than its humor, the characters, from catchphrase-spouting womanizer Barney to nerdily pretentious Ted, are likeable enough to make the show good despite itself. Despite its plotting missteps, “How I Met Your Mother” is funny enough to justify its sustained popularity.


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Here’s what you missed on “Glee:” the show has gone from testing the bounds of feasibility to abandoning reality completely. Even when looking past the whole ‘kids breaking out into song’ obstacle, the characters change roles so often it gives the viewer whiplash. Are the kids popular? Unpopular? Does Quinn want her baby? Why do characters follow rules strictly in one episode and ignore them in the next? Who is dating whom? This makes for less than compelling television. “Sometimes the characters aren’t very likeable so I lose interest quickly,” says junior Emily Rosenthal. The villains and the heroes change sides almost with each episode. Will Schuester (Matthew Morrison) is either wise or a wreck, and Britney can be anything from an evil ditz to a benificent cat lover. Since “Glee” can’t really decide to upend all dialogue for musical numbers, its inconsistent plot creates some problems. The show still sings on other levels. “Their humor is very unexpected, which is great for a laugh every once and a while,” says occasional viewer sophomore Kenny Vi. “Glee” does not stick to tradition in its trademark odd (and dark) sense of humor. From Britney’s one-liners that constantly push the envelope of stupidity to the delightfully random situational humor the show loves, “Glee” is an inexhaustible and delightful source of offbeat comedy. Additionally, even if the ‘teens’ seem to be closer to parents than students in age, “Glee” does touch upon some important issues. Despite their inconsistencies, the characters are all aspiring to reach something greater than their circumstances, a universally afffecting theme that shines through the flaws in “Glee.”


NBC’s “Parks and Recreation” was not born great. An obvious rip-off of “The Office,” the show’s first season was a widely acknowledged dud. However, now that “The Office” has jumped very high over the shark, “Parks and Rec” has replaced it in greatness and has now attained wide critical acclaim. Last year, “Parks and Recreation” gave us one of the best seasons of television so far and the fourth season seems to follow suit. Although its national ratings are not the highest, the show has still managed to attract quite a few Paly fans. Many are probably drawn to the show’s humor, which is tempered with surprising minimalism: although the characters in Pawnee, from cougar Joan Calamezzo (Mo Collins) to the not-quite-suave Jean Ralphio (Ben Schwartz), are hilarious, they are only rarely overused. Sometimes, one even forgets that this is the town where politicians can easily get voters by insulting salad or praising a mini horse. The show excels in balancing out the crazy (Pawnee has been invaded by possums and a cult that worships an alien named Zorp) with a strong emotional core. The relationships in the show are written and acted compellingly, creating moments that are unexpectedly sweet for a 20-minute comedy. Even if this show has single-handedly proven that a show can be hilarious without being mean-spirited (take that,“Two Broke Girls”), “Parks and Recreation” is popular for an entirely different reason: Ron Swanson (Nick Offerman), the eminently quotable libertarian. Who else would give a fourth grader a landmine to teach her about taxes?


“Modern Family,” unlike “How I Met Your Mother,” does not experiment beyond typical television style. It differs little from any convention, since the long-running success of “The Office” has made mockumentaries mainstream. ABC’s “Modern Family,” in even more typical sitcom fashion, mostly avoids a serialized plot. Each episode can easily stand alone or be viewed in relation with the next. “You can still enjoy it even if you’ve missed an episode,” says junior Clare Gill. Unfortunately, this extremely episodic format endangers actual creativity. “Modern Family,” produced by Christopher Lloyd, relies on tired plot lines, looking for endless variations of Cam acting flamboyantly, Gloria being sassily Latina, and Phil being an idiot. “I just don’t think it is as good as people say it is. There are much funnier television shows that I would rather watch,” says junior Juliana Moraes Liu. However, some think that the plot’s mundane elements give the show’s appeal. “I like it because I can relate to a lot of the problems in it,” says sophomore Parker Devine. “My mom has recently started working [like the mother in the show has].” Additionally, the show is independently funny, demonstrating that tropes are tropes for a reason; except for some of the more tired jokes, the show still wrings new material out of them. Although lacking in actual genius, “Modern Family” is the peanut butter sandwich of Paly’s television adventures: delicious and classic. v

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hroughout Palo Alto High School, students are using new technology to call, text, chat, and even check grades. Technology plays a large role in Silicon Valley and the world, especially Palo Alto and Paly, but at times, the sheer number of devices to choose from can be disorienting and confusing. But don’t worry: Here are some of the best new smartphones, tablets, websites, and e-readers of 2011.


Apple introduced the long-awaited iPhone 4S this October, with voice recognition program Siri, an 8 megapixel camera, and iOS 5, Apple’s newest mobile operating system. Siri is Apple’s newest feature for the iPhone and it did relatively well in many consumer reviews and is a fantastic upgrade from the iOS 4 voice control. Although the phone did not reach anticipated sales set by Apple itself, the iPhone 4S is still the best-selling smartphone of 2011, according to The US Guardian.


The Galaxy S II, a competitor with the iPhone, was introduced this August by Samsung with the software Android 2.3 Gingerbread. The Galaxy SII has one the best hardware and software specification lists of any phone, according to Stuff Gadget, a technology magazine. The Galaxy S II competed with other top-notch phones, including the HTC Sensation, Nexus S, and the LG Optimus 3D, which all share similar hardware and features. The Nexus S is the first and only phone to run Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) software, according to the

official Nexus page hosted by Google. The LG Optimus 3D has a 4.3-inch screen and glasses-free 3D viewing for videos and movies. However, The Galaxy S II trumps them all with slightly better features, winning Phone of the Year from Stuff Gadget.


Windows brought out the Samsung Omnia 7 early 2011, which is arguably the best Windows phone available (as it is one of the few Windows phones on the market), with the newest operating system Mango. The Omnia 7 makes up greatly for the phones that Windows used to release by having a phone that is able to compete against other smartphones in the market, mostly with specifications and hardware comparable to iOS and Android devices.


This year Apple updated the ubiquitous iPad with the iPad 2. The new iPad has front and rear cameras, a dual-core A5 chip, and comes in either a white or black color. Paly now has several sets of iPads for its students. The iPad and iPad 2 are the most popular tablets in the industry, mostly due to their reliability, smooth user interface, and having the Apple brand. About 40 million iPads have been sold, according to Apple reports.


HP discontinued the TouchPad tablet earlier this year. In a final sale, HP sold the TouchPad 16 GB model for $100 and the 32 GB model for $150. The “blowout” deal occurred because HP decided to discontinue all devices running WebOS, including the TouchPad. The tablet initially increased in sales due to the lower price, but the discontinuation of the tablet has hurt future sales projections, according to Hewlett-Packard. The TouchPad was a good tablet but only for its price, and budget tablet buyers are now left without a quality HP option.


IT’S WAR Apple and Android are the two goliaths of the smartphone industry, constantly updating competing to be the best in mobile devices.

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The Galaxy Tab was supposed to be the main competitor with Apple’s iPad: it runs Android 3.2 Honeycomb and boasts a dual-core processor as well. However, the device’s similar pricing to the iPad

pushed aside any possible fame. Still, the Galaxy Tab is the third most popular tablet and about five million Galaxy Tabs have been sold, according to company sales estimates.


Facebook reached more than 800 million “friends” this year and has implemented new features such as video chat, multi-user chat, and a unified notification system. Many of these updates have gotten mixed reviews, especially the new user interface, which is updated frequently. Facebook is planning a New York recruitment expansion plan for a software engineering center, according to BBC News.


Twitter, known for “microblogging” with a limit of 140 characters per tweet, was recognized this year as a major influence on the Arab Spring, the uprisings around the Middle East and Africa. It has also been used for political debates for American citizens, allowing them to ask questions to some candidates. The Occupy Wall Street movement uses Twitter as a live news feed as well. In fact, Pippa Middleton’s marriage on April 29, crashed the website, according to TLC’s show Crazy About Pippa.


Google announced its newest social networking service, Google Plus, in June, but released the site as an invitation-only service while the site was still in beta. Although Google Plus started off strong, it tapered out relatively quickly, as social media users found Facebook and Twitter easier to use. “I don’t even know what Google Plus is,” junior Nora Carlson-Strom said, adding, “What the heck is a [Google Plus] circle?” Google had previous social media failures, such as Google Wave and Buzz. According to Google, Buzz will retire “in a few weeks,” but no specific date was given.


As a pseudo-e-reader, Apple announced the application iBooks for the iPod Touch, iPhone, and the iPad. Users can now

buy books on the iTunes Store, and the new service is an alternative to reading on a traditional e-reader, as iBooks is included with every iPad and offers a larger, glossier, display than the Kindle Fire.


Amazon launched the Kindle Fire in November as a competitor to both the Apple iPad and other E-readers. The Kindle Fire sports a 7-inch multi-touch color display (a first for the Kindle line) with access to music, movies, apps, books, and magazines. The Kindle Fire is $199, which is less than half the starting price of the iPad or Galaxy Tab; both entry models start at about $500. v

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4LTVYHISL TV]PLZ Look back at popular and PUUV]H[P]LÄSTZYLSLHZLK this year Text and art by EMILY HAIN


any highly anticipated films reached theaters this year entertaining viewers both in Palo Alto and across the world. Some stand out above others for their captivating suspense, intricate graphics and thought-provoking stories. Here is a look at some of the best.


New technology and improved special effects were shown off in “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” and helped the film soar to the top of the box office. This movie demonstrated a colossal step forward from its predecessor, released in 1968, called “Planet of the Apes,” in terms of both the graphics and visuals. According to a report by ABC Nightline, this film, unlike in the original, did not include actors hidden behind thick mounds of makeup and prosthetics to simulate apes. Instead, equipment known as performance capture suits were used, allowing actors to wear sensors on their bodies that captured their every move from turning their heads to moving their eyes back and forth. These motions were then transferred to computer generated ape bodies, giving the simians a more natural look on the screen. In the making of the movie, actors could easily be reviewed on computer monitors to see how they would look as apes in the actual movie. The release of the film highlights this modern, cutting-edge technology, and adds to a new era in film special effects.


Based on the best-selling novel by Kathryn Stockett, “The Help” tells the story of Skeeter (Emma Stone), a young author who perseveres in writing a novel about African-American maids in the South and the difficulties they faced during the 1960’s. The film portrays the lives of poor, disenfranchised African-Americans and the struggles they faced. “The Help” is moving and thought-provoking, providing a fascinating insight

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into the hardships endured by many during the Civil Rights movement. Excellent acting, a unique and special perspective, humorous scenes, and the dignity of the characters attracted viewers to watch “The Help.” “The Help” left viewers pondering racial discrimination during the Civil Rights movement and in our society today.

to attend the midnight showing of the film, even dressing like the characters to further celebrate the release of the movie. “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II” deservingly captured the attention of both life-long, die-hard fans and first-time Harry Potter viewers.


“Crazy, Stupid, Love” strays away from the typical romantic comedy by following several stories that portray love and rejection at all ages. Recently divorced Cal Weaver (Steve Carell) meets a local bachelor in a bar who teaches him how to rekindle his love life in ways he never dreamed of during his marriage. The film depicts multiple complicated relationships that all tie together in the end. The appeal of this movie comes from its characters, to whom viewers can relate, and from an intriguing plot. The range in age of the characters also attracts viewers both young and old. After leaving the television series “The Office” earlier this year, Steve Carell produced and acted in this film. The movie stands out among other love stories and offers an unpredictable ending. v

In “Midnight in Paris”, strolling down Paris’ dimly lit cobblestone streets, Hollywood Screenwriter Gil (Owen Wilson) travels back in time to the 1920s and meets famous authors and artists, including F. Scott Fitzgerald and Pablo Picasso. These well-known, talented artists inspire Gil in the writing of his own screenplays. Written and directed by Woody Allen, “Midnight in Paris” has become Allen’s most successful film in the United States box office. The movie depicts Paris through Allen’s eyes, reflecting his views of the spectacular wonders found in the grand city. Allen’s only film shot exclusively in Paris, “Midnight in Paris” reveals famous locations and typical aspects of the city and creatively depicts not only present life in the 21st century, but also in the bustling 1920s.


The long anticipated “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II” was finally released on July 15, ending the movie series that began 10 years ago. In the final chapter of the series, Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) and his best friends Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) and Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) continue on their mission to find the three remaining Horcruxes, the magical items that give immunity to the evil Lord Voldemort. The anticipation built by its prequels as well as its public admiration caused its rise to the top of the box office. A huge number of people, including many Paly students, endured the late hours


december 2011



0[»ZHSS*[VTL Computer programs can converse with humans and learn from conversations. Text by ALLEN WU Art by DIANA CONNOLLY and ALLEN WU


ow have you been doing?” reads the text across my laptop screen. “I have lots of school work,” I type, and tap the enter key. After a couple of seconds a soft pinging sound alerts me to the response. “Aww. Then rest.” This conversation might seem like any other chat between friends online, but in this case the person on the other end is actually an artificially-intelligent computer program. A chatterbot, also known by various other names including chatter robot and talk bot, is a computer program that engages humans in conversation. Apple’s Siri application, available on the iPhone 4S, recently achieved considerably publicity as a virtual personal assistant. This breakthrough made use of technology commonly employed in chatterbots. Users can ask questions into the phone, and Siri will search its database and attempt to respond to the best of its ability. It will reply in the voice of a human woman, contributing to the application’s identity as a virtual assistant. Users can also make plans or ask the phone to perform other actions. Siri adapts to preferences, becoming personalized just as a human assistant would come to learn her employer’s habits over time.


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One of the most advanced chatter“I was expecting some sort of primibots, Cleverbot, grows via a simple prem- tive response bot,” senior Jackson Miley ise — when a user types a message, Clev- says about his conversation with a similar erbot identifies key words and phrases chatterbot, iGodm found at www.titane. and then searches its database for suitable ca/main.html. But he was surprised. responses. “iGod was fairly good at staying on Storing away each conversation it the same topic as me, even if it didn’t quite holds, Cleverbot is always learning from have any concept of what I was actually its interactions with humans and theoret- saying.” ically adapts to become more lifelike with Without a human’s sense of etiquette each interaction. and decorum behind As Cleverits mastery of words bot is highly acCleverbot is unable to cessible online at exert discretion in its www.c leverbot. conversations. com, it engages Though Cleverin thousands of bot has learned and conversations on evolved tremendously a daily basis. Acsince its creation, imcording to Alexa, perfections in its hua database for man facade frequently website statistics, remind users of the Cleverbot is acprogram’s artificial nacessed by roughly ture. Because of the 210,000 people way Cleverbot “reads’” daily. sentences and attempts By learnto generate a suitable ing how humans response, it is inconsistend to respond tent. — senior JACKSON MILEY to words and “Chatterbots are phrases, Cleveroften amusing because bot knows how to of their realistic anreply to those words and phrases in later swers that mimic interpersonal communiconversations. cation,” senior Katie Causie says. “They’re

“iGod was fairly good at staying on the same topic as me, even if it didn’t quite have any concept of what I was actually saying.”

for their occasional random responses that seem unrelated to the conversation.” One might assume that such technology is new and cutting-edge. However, chatterbots have had a long history. In 1950, Computer scientist Alan Turing wrote a research paper, “Computing Machinery and Intelligence,” addressing the burgeoning fields of programming and artificial intelligence. He proposed what has come to be known as the famous Turing test. If a human judge chats with a computer program and another human, and is unable to determine which is the human, then the program passes the test. This test is used to gauge how close the artificial intelligence is to seeming human. ELIZA, one of the world’s very first chatterbots, was developed in 1966 and functioned as an artifical psychotherapist. It functioned by picking out key words in sentences and replying with a statement or question about a relevant subject. This crude method of simulating conversation was highly limited, but in its time, ELIZA was perceived as an eerily intelligent program. If asked a question it did not know about, it would simply shoot the question back at the user, as real psychotherapists often do. Since then, the potential of artificial intelligence has increased tremendously. At the Techniche 2011 festival that

took place on September 3rd, Cleverbot was judged to be “59.3 percent human.” For context, actual humans achieved a score of 63.3 percent. In the past, chatterbots have been interesting oddities, but not very useful. “I don’t think programs like Cleverbot really have a practical use,” junior Thomas Zhao says. “But maybe the technology could be applied to something like tech support.” Recently, chatterbots have grown to become more varied in their uses, as opposed to simple programs made for idle amusement. Some websites utilize basic chatter bots to create a sense of personalized, flexible service; for example, sites can use virtual assistants to answer questions or otherwise facilitate navigation. And of course, Siri has made a splash in popular culture. The innovation of Siri hints at the tremendous potential of chatterbots – the basic idea of a machine being capable of understanding speech and responding is incredibly impressive. Right now the technology behind them is still relatively rudimentary, but in the very near future, as programs like Cleverbot and Siri learn to be more “human”, they may be of greater use to mankind. Who could have guessed, five years ago, that today a man can tell his cellphone that he is drunk, and it will jokingly reply that it has found a number of cabs nearby? Who can guess what artificial intelligence might be capable of five years from now? v

Me: Hi, I’m a reporter for Palo Alto High School’s news magazine, Verde. God: Hi there . Are you doing a story on me? Me: Yeah. Can I ask you a few questions? God: Is the holding of hands a symbolic gesture for humans? Sure, ask me anything. Where are you located? Me: How do you feel about your job as a chatbot? God: I don’t want to talk about that now. Me: Okay. What do you think about artificial intelligence? God: OK with me too. Artificial intelligence is the branch of engineering and science devoted to constructing machines that think. Maybe my botmaster knows the answer. Me: Do you think chatbots will be useful to society? God: It depends on what you mean by thinking. Me: How would you define thinking? God: The action of one who thinks or the result of such action; thought. Me: Do you think? God: Yes. I am a thinking machine. Me: Is there anything you would like the readers to know? God: Hey. Gossip. Me: Anything else? God; That is all I have for right now. Me: Well, thank you very much for your time. Have a good day. God: How about that. You are quite welcome! Not really that much. Your purpose is my time. Thanks, same to you.

december 2011



When LYFE gives you lemonade (UL^JOHPUZ[YP]LZ[VYLKLÄUL fast food in Palo Alto Text and Photography by SPENCER CARLSON


irst came the yogurt shops, then the tea cafés. Following in the footsteps of these cost- and health-conscious establishments that appeal to youth is LYFE Kitchen, at 167 Hamilton Ave., which takes the philosophy that young people will eat healthily if the price is right and applies it to complete meals. In this way, LYFE attracts swarms of customers to enjoy its healthy cuisine. Indeed, the promise that every dish is under 600 calories has proven to be a hit with locals since the developing restaurant chain opened its premiere location in Palo



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Alto in October. Palo Alto’s LYFE Kitchen has succeeded in creating an exciting new restaurant, and with a few slight adjustments to its service, it will have fine-tuned its userfriendly experience. LYFE is a Chicago-based company, the result of cooperation between former McDonalds executives, venture capitalists, Fortune 500 consultants, and two world renowned chefs. The goal of LYFE Kitchen, according to its website, is to enhance standards of wellness in the communities it serves, both by offering quality nutrition, and by providing support for

local wellness-based organizations. The restaurant has much to offer all generations, including high school students. Due to its fast-food-like policy of ordering and paying before being seated, multiple students can enjoy a real sit-down dining experience without the trouble of sorting out a complicated bill afterwards. LYFE’s clean and modern design succeeds in avoiding the common failure of many other new restaurants — looking cheap and fake — by forgoing laminate fixtures in favor of real wood, metal and stone furnishings. This has the effect of


CLASSIC BURGER ($7.99) making an establishment that operates much like a cafeteria seem upscale and respectable. Those who enter and approach the ordering station are flanked on their left by counter seating and a central herb garden, which has the effect of softening the restaurant’s hard lines, and on their right by wide-screen monitors, which accurately display mouthwatering dishes, set into an illuminated wall. Ahead is an open kitchen full of friendly looking employees who add to the creation of a warm, homey atmosphere. LYFE Kitchen provides many satisfying meals, but a few surprisingly unpleasant ones as well. The following are a few dishes I recommend, as well as a few I suggest visitors to LYFE avoid. The Fresh Lemonade with Mint ($2.29) has a strong flavor, but due to a balanced blend of sweet and tart, it joins the list of the many perfectly balanced items on the LYFE menu. The serving size is generous, but I find the advertisement of mint slightly deceiving, as the only mint involved was a sprig, as garnish. Nonetheless, the lemonade is consistently some of the best I have found in Palo Alto. The Sweet Potato Fries ($2.49) are bland and mushy. They lack the exterior crunch that gives most fries complex texture, and although their color gives them

away as sweet potatoes, their flavor is virtually nonexistent. The high point of this side dish is the sensational housemade ketchup which, besides adding a punch of flavor to anything it accompanies, has just enough texture to make it non-gelatinous, while not going as far as to be grainy. The Roasted Mushroom & Goat Cheese Flatbread ($7.99) proves a masterpiece of balanced tangy, sweet, and salty flavors whose firm crust does not yield to the weight of the toppings and flop, and whose texture contrasts delectably with the soft cheese and mushrooms. In contrast, the Margherita Flatbread ($6.99) is floppy, over-sauced, and full of unbalanced flavors and textures. The grainy flavors of the crust are overly pronounced, and the toppings were subject to disproportionate and uneven distribution. The Eggplant Parmesan ($9.99) is light with a delicate arrangement of flavors. The eggplant parmesan’s airy texture is a tad off-putting but the flavors more than make up for it. The broccoli it came with is less than warm, but it is well seasoned, making it an ultimately neutral addition that neither gives to nor takes from the dish. The Classic Burger ($7.99) is a textural adventure. Consisting of cheddar melted over a tender patty with pickles, onion, lettuce, tomatoes, and ketchup in

a multigrain bun, it is delicious, tangy and smoky, but surprisingly light. The complexity of the flavors, in combination with the near perfect temperature and texture made it the best burger of my year. The patty is cooked well, but manages to retain its moisture and tenderness. The only downfall of the dish is that the side salad falls into the classic pitfalls. It is underdressed, dry, and unwelcoming, covered in unappealing shredded carrots. Like most side salads, the lettuce is bitter and uncoordinated. Indeed, it seems to be more of an afterthought than a true salad. Although LYFE does not currently offer student pricing options, the menu strikes a harmonious balance between price and quality. While the cost is only slightly higher than that of fast food, the experience of eating at LYFE Kitchen far surpasses not only that of fast food restaurants, but also some much of Palo Alto’s pricier dining establishments. Only a few things disrupt an otherwise pleasant experience at this new restaurant, such as how the outdoor patio was unlit when I visited, an unpleasant discrepancy that caused me to eat my dinner in the dark. LYFE Kitchen still appears to be working out its kinks one by one, and furthering its progress towards becoming a successful Palo Alto restaurant. v december 2011



These boots  are            made  for  walking From cowboy to combat, boots are taking the high road.


Text and Photography by Charu Srivastava

ith a wide selection now available in stores, boots provide an easy way to stay warm, dress chic, or jazz up an everyday outfit. Although snow in Palo Alto is highly unlikely, students seem to be taking a liking to boots. Uggs remain one of the top choices, mostly because of their fuzzy interior. “They’re really cozy and warm, and they go with everything” junior Shina Kim says. However, some fashonistas dare to break the fad. From knee-high to booties, Paly students try them all. Senior Thao Tran, who was spotted wearing ankle high heels, describes them as “a little uncomfortable.” But “you have to experience pain to enjoy fashion,” she says.Although Tran’s booties definitely make a statement, most students choose to wear flat boots in a variey of textures including suede, leather, cloth and sheepskin. v ABOVE: Senior Thao Tran increases her height and style with ankle-high booties. CENTER RIGHT: Sophomore Yumi Temple relaxes on the quad in stylish leather boots. TOP RIGHT: Junior Jamie Livingston loves wearing her shiny white cowboy boots. BOTTOM RIGHT: Freshman Chloe Fisherman’s Uggs scream “comfy” so much so that she wore them every day for two weeks. FAR RIGHT: Sophomore Lande Watson’s combat-inspired Steve Maddens have zippers for convenience. RIGHT: Junior Charlotte Biffar’s stately knee-highs give her an elegant yet comfortable look.


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december 2011




Middle East Uprisings Beginning in Tunisia, protests sparked rebellions in nearby countries, including Egypt, Iran, Yemen and Syria.

Japan Earthquake, Tsunami, and Nuclear Meltdown On March 11, Japan was hit by a 8.9 earthquake that spawned a tsunami, then a nuclear meltdown. Over half a year later, Japan is still trying to recover. The tragedy holds lessons for the United States, according to junior Abby Bromberg. “What happened in Japan was devastating and we should view it as a wake up call to make sure it doesn’t happen here [in America],” says Bromberg. Photo: Flickr:  Kord-­ ian  Creative  Com-­ mons  2.0

Photo: Flickr:   Bajooka   Creative   Com-­ mons  2.0  





Students select classes online In February, students used Infinite Campus to choose their classes for the next school year online for the first time. Despite this new addition, students are dissatisfied about how Infinite Campus lacks important components such as the ability to receive uploaded class handouts. “For the Infinite campus system I think they can improve it more by forcing teachers to update it more and getting more teachers to use it, even the PE teachers,” says sophomore Maria Carew. “If it’s updated, it’s a lot more helpful.”





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Photo: Jacqueline   Woo

New Hopes for Sports Last January, the sports teams were excited after winning CCS in three sports, and winning the State Championships in football and volleyball. While the football team hoped for a repeat, Paly Volleyball stayed strong and won States for the second year. Baseball is up again in the spring. Varsity baseball player Arun Varma says, “I think the team really came together last year. We lost a lot of good guys last year who graduated but I think we still have a lot of the talent we had last year, and we’re also gaining some new guys that I think will be solid out on the field.”

Th M Th Pe gre ing On Am $1 the we

The Last Harry Potter Movie The end of childhood? Perhaps. Many Paly students grew up reading and watching the Harry Potter series. On the opening weekend in America alone, the movie sold $168.6 million tickets, breaking the record for the biggest opening weekend in history. dio

ros Stu

r B Warne Photo:  

May Prom in San Francisco Prom at the Westin St. Francis Hotel was highly anticipated as always but this year’s last minute change in venue caused some disappointment and havoc. From a tiny venue to the bus crash, there are renewed hopes for next year for success! Junior class president and 2012 prom committee member Jessica Tam has high hopes. “We’re going to look at all the problems that occurred last year, and try to address all those problems so this year prom can be even better,” Tam says. Photo: Jacqueline  Woo




Senior Streaking Despite the 2010 seniors prank fails of painting the roof and sticking a scoreboard in Woj’s room, this year, the 2011 graduates spiced the streaking tradition up with throwing around chickens and silly-stringing teachers (and, of course, principal Phil Winston).

Photo: Flikr:  thom-­ assheylen  Creative   Commons  2.0 december 2011


[ CULTURE ] Spirit Week The initial announcement of sophomore’s winning Spirit Week caused pressure from upperclassmen to have ASB to recount the votes with new judges. For homecoming, there was a huge turnout – perhaps a sign of a better future for Paly’s dances?

Photo: Jen  Lin

Lady Vikes place first in the country After winning the State Championship for the second time in a row, our Lady Vikes bring home first place and the title of first in the country.

9/11 Ten years after the devastating terrorist attacks, the 9/11 memorial is still being built. At ground zero on the anniversary, President Obama led a moment of silence with former president George W. Bush. Art: Spencer   Carlson



Photo: Brian  Benton

November Egg Wars Although many students were caught by the police who staked out Mitchell Park, students involved received no school related consequences such as suspensions.

Photo: Jacqueline   Woo


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College Occupy Movement First beginning on Wall Street, New York, protests spread to banks, and now cities and colleges all over the world. As police respond to the protests, many are angered by the treatment of U.C. Davis student protests, who were protesting budget cuts. Campus police sprayed students with pepper spray, then arrested those they could reach. As the new year approaches, Davis students sense an upcoming change despite some setbacks. “For the upcoming year, we might have a new chancellor. As for tuition, it might be hard for us to change the outcome of the tuition because that’s up the economy,” U.C. Davis and Paly alumnus (2010) Yusei Tajima says.


The dish on family dinners Why they’re more important than you think Text and visuals by HANAKO GALLAGHER


magine this: everyone gathers around the table, passing the peas around and discussing their day. The kids have helped to prepare the food and set the table, and the dog sits eagerly by the table. This may seem cliche, but recent statistics suggest that we would be wise to revert back to traditional, sit-down family dinners. Most Paly students are aware of the fact that they should be eating dinner with their families: in a recent Paly survey of 386 freshman through seniors, 93% said that they believe there is a benefit to eating dinner as a family. The problem is the disparity: only 66% said they eat dinner as a family more than three days a

BREAKDOWN How many family meals do Paly students eat per week?

week. A study of family eating patterns by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University showed that children who ate fewer family meals were twice as likely to say that there is tension within their family, and less likely to believe that their parents were proud of them. Additionally, the less often a family eats together, the less healthy the food is and the less conversation there is — that is, families improve with practice. According to the June 2006 TIME article “The Magic of Family Meals,” the more often a teen has family meals, the less likely he or she is to do drugs, become depressed, develop eating disorders, or do badly in school. Additionally, a study in the Archives of Family Medicine revealed that more family meals lead to lower consumption of soda and fried food and in-

creased fruit and vegetables in a family’s diet. Who can argue with these health benefits? With increasingly busy schedules and a different parenting style, giving kids more freedom to decide what to do and how for themselves, the frequency of family dinners is declining. It may require extra effort to get everyone together once a a day to eat together, but it is clearly worth it. Meals have evolved form a celebration of food, a social installation, into a hassle — just getting enough sustenance into our bodies to move onto the next meeting, game, or activity in our planner. We don’t have to dress up in our dinner jackets and break out the fancy forks, but what we should do is slow down and enjoy preparing and eating dinner with our family. v december 2011



Merriness is too mainstream A hipster’s guide to navigating the overly commercialized and sickeningly conformist holiday season Text by SAVANNAH CORDOVA Art by HANAKO GALLAGHER


ey, you. You there, in the pastel-colored, h rolled-up skinny jeans inexplicably paired h hwith Oxfords that look good on nobody but Taylor Swift and British actors. You, with your Neutral Milk Hotel album in one hand and your environmentally friendly thermos of allnatural herbal tea in the other. You hate this time of year, don’t you? I can tell from the grimace on your face — it appears even more disdainful of everyone and everything than usual. The wind is frigid on your scrawny, exposed ankles and the joy emanating from people setting up trees, going shopping, and smiling at each other (smiling, for God’s sake!) only serves to deepen your state of perpetual melancholy. Why is it, you wonder, that year after year we choose to participate in the same old mechanical traditions of presents and cookies that, in the long run, will provide us with nothing but nostalgia and diabetes? gggggFear not, for as tragic as your situation may seem, all is not lost. There is still hope for your holidays, as loathsomely jolly as they appear on the horizon. Because you, dear hipster, can learn how to both subdue the masses as they prepare for their own frivolous celebrations AND create some un-


verde magazine

conventional, nondenominational festivities for you and you alone. So don your American Apparel circle scarf and venture onwards; you’ve got a lot of work to do if you want to look like you’re not trying. First and foremost you should attempt to identify a holiday that no one knows anything about. Amongst my suggestions are the traditional Cornish Mummer’s Day, the Bahaman Jonkanoo, and the Germanic observance of Berchtoldstag, which you don’t necessarily have to pronounce correctly to fully appreciate. gggggFrom here on out you will devote yourself to acting like you celebrate your holiday. Whenever anyone asks you what you’re doing for the next couple of weeks, you will roll your eyes, scoff just enough to make your condescension clear, and say, “Getting ready, of course.” When they ask what for, you’ll muster another eye roll, then follow up with the name of your holiday and the obligatory, “You’ve probably never heard of it.” Mission accomplished: everyone thinks you’re on the cutting edge of the holiday season, and they could not be more correct. Now set about making sure that your neighbors know how little you think of their silly wintertime shenanigans. To mock them you should put out any Halloween or Fourth of July decorations you can find in the back of your closet. Don’t forget about strangers either! It’s your duty — nay, your privilege — to inform cashiers, fellow bus passengers, even people on the street of exactly how much they disgust you. Tap each sadly misguided individual on the shoulder and then ask if they’ve considered the effect that their non-recyclable wrapping paper and non-biodegradable lights have on Mother Nature. Spout off a

Looking for the perfect hipster gift? Those of you with a hipster friend, brother, or roommate might be struggling to select a sufficiently quirky present for him/her. Here are a couple of fail-safe options that are guaranteed to make a good impression on your hipster buddy. R55fixed-gear bicycle (or “fixie”) serves as both a status symbol and a means of transportation. Remember: in the eyes of a hipster, brakes are for losers (as are cars). R5Ļ ironic T-shirt is a staple in every hipster’s wardrobe. If you’re not quite as into pop culture as your alternative acquaintance, check out a website like BustedTees or Threadless.

DOWN WITH TRADITION Ornaments and stockings are so overdone. couple of statistics, like the fact that more than five million Christmas trees end up in landfills each year, and finish up by accusing them of single-handedly destroying the ozone layer. They’ll feel horrible and your self-esteem levels will soar! ggggOnce you’ve effectively de-holidayspirited everyone around you, retreat to the habitat of your choice. You’ll want to stay inside to get away from the practically subzero climate that will reign for the entire winter of your discontent, not to mention any still-enthusiastic stragglers you missed. You may use only the light from your plugged-in appliances to help you read Sylvia Plath and J.D. Salinger, and you’ll want to eat very minimally, so as to emerge from your several weeks of hibernation looking as skeletal as ever. And that’s it. ggg “That’s it?” you say distrustfully. I’m sure you expected more, but you know,

you really shouldn’t have. Because the true secret to having a hipster holiday is just to go about your business as usual. Be perhaps a little more contemptuous than you would be normally, but in general there’s not much that should change. If you’re as hipster as your skewed fashion sense and musical taste would indicate, you don’t need my advice on how to be truly apathetic; you’ve already got everything you require to have yourself a hipster little Christmas. gggggSo think about that as you’re sitting wrapped up in a sweater that would be too big for a water buffalo, drinking your 12th cup of tea in as many hours while you wait for the holidays to peter out. Think about how lucky you are to be such an intelligent individual, how you would otherwise most likely be doing something inane like going sledding or lighting a menorah. Your company is the greatest gift you

R5Cats are the only kind of animal hipsters will tolerate. Their cool, composed attitude is remarkably similar to that of the typical hipster — they are, in essence, the ideally indifferent pet.

could give to anyone, and deserving as you are, you’ve bestowed it upon yourself. Allow the corners of your mouth to twitch upwards before settling back into your default expression of boredom. You deserve that brief moment of contentment, dear hipster. Have a half-hearted holiday, from me to you. v december 2011




Verde Volume 13 Issue 2  

Cover story: The Occupy movement hits Palo Alto.