Page 1


palo alto high school volume 13 edition 3



The happiness conundrum: A local analysis p. 63

Also inside: Verde asks Mr. Winston the questions you’ve always wanted to ask 26 Paly grad Tea Obreht returns to speak about her award-winning novel 22 Why are Paly’s colors green and white? 71


verde magazine








PROFILES From computers to galleries


Do you ‘kulele? Tea’s tale

20 22

Through the eyes of Phil Winston


A shining planet





Organic panic by KATY ABBOTT

Tweet the pain away by EVELYN WANG


Developing communities get the green light


Where the wild things should be



CULTURE Beyond Watchmen


Time to take out the trash?


Confessions of a Bollywood newbie


Left, right and in between





COVER Code 2 joy


How 2 relax






37 40

Preserving our generation


Green and white – Fight! Fight! Fight!


This is how we roll


Paly underground


Secrets of the Haymarket





Armageddon it straight?


Stutter strong



Leaping for Leap Day






30 31

FEATURES Keeping the fun in fungi

When food becomes the enemy by KATY ABBOT

THE LAUNCH Short Features


<<<< FROM TOP TO BOTTOM Do you ‘kulele? (pg. 20), Code 2 joy (pg. 64), Keeping the fun in fungi (pg. 37) february 2012


View Verde on your iPad The editors and staffers of Verde are excited to announce our iPad magazine pilot program! We are one of the first high school publications in the nation to offer a tablet magazine, and we are very excited about this experiment. We are new to this medium and would love to receive feedback on our pilot issues — please send feedback to Enjoy!

These editions now available on the iPad:

Like Verde on Facebook at Follow Verde on Twitter at


“I’m plagued by a sense of a lack of political efficacy. Politically speaking, nothing I do will mean much because of the stigma associated with socialism and communism.”

Page 60

Steven Hu, senior “Left, right and in between”

““They [the children at the school] were excited and happy and had the same aspirations and dreams as everybody else”.”


Four steps to read Verde for FREE on the iPad: 1. Download the free Adobe Content Viewer application from the iTunes App Store. 2. Launch the app, click “Sign in” in the upper-left corner and enter the following login details: Username: Password: verdetablet 3. The available issues of Verde will display on your screen. Simply click the appropriate button to begin downloading the issue you want to read. 4. You will be able to view the issue after the first few pages have downloaded. If you close the app or the iPad goes to sleep, the download will be paused. 4

verde magazine

Anna Sidana, president, One Million Lights “Developing communities get the green light”

“If we think the norm is being happy, then you think about relative deprivation — you look around, you think, ‘Everybody else is happy and I feel like garbage, so I feel even worse.’”

Page 64

Melinda Mattes, AP Psychology teacher “Code to joy”

“The worst thing to deal with is when you try to get an ID card and someone tells you that Feb. 29 isn’t a real date.”

Page 49

Raenell Dawn, Leap Day activist “Leaping for Leap Day”

“Whether you cheated on a 15-point homework assignment or a semester final, when the referral hits my desk, the penalty is the same.”

Page 30

Jerry Berkson, assistant principal “Why I don’t cheat”

about the cover cover art by DIANA CONNOLLY Uncle Sam has been used and abused in various representations since his conception in 1917. James Montgomery Flagg created the original poster which was used for recruitment in both World Wars. We decided to take advantage of his commanding presence for our cover image in order to communicate the happiness conundrum at Palo Alto High School (pg. 64).


volume 13 edition 3 february 2012 Frequency: 3 of 5

from the editors


rom an all-color, glossy print magazine to a full-fledged iPad platform, Verde is facing some big ch-ch-changes. Throughout this school year, the Verde staff has been working with Adobe’s Digital Publishing Suite, transforming our print magazine into an interactive tablet product. We originally aspired to experiment with the tablet because of the changing nature of journalism. As professional publications permeate every level of digital media, we felt it was our role as student journalists to acknowledge this shift by adapting to the media platforms of the future. As one of the first high school programs to work with and experiment on the tablet, the process was long and often difficult; but we were proud to finally achieve a polished tablet product that builds upon the foundation of our original magazine by including and highlighting our digital media projects. As editors, we have already presented our iPad development process to our peers and local teachers at a student journalism convention hosted by the Journalism Education Association of Northern California in Sacramento. We plan to present a more updated presentation in April at a convention co-sponsored by JEA and National Scholastic Press Association in Seattle. Through these presentations we hope to inspire other journalism programs around the country to become more active in the future of digital media and journalism by realizing that it is possible for them to harness the power of new technology and apply it at the local, scholastic level. In addition, Verde has partnered with mBrosia, an established yearbook company, to begin producing limited quantities of an all-color version of our magazine to be distributed on campus. For the time being, Verde will continue to print magazines to be mailed to Paly homes with Fricke-Parks Press. Our partnership with mBrosia, while promising, is a test-run in order to determine how viable all-color printing is in Verde’s future. Among these changes, at the semester Verde picked up seven new staff members from Beginning Journalism classes, the largest number in Verde’s history. We are proud to welcome sophomores Jamie Allendorf, Hollie Kool, Angela Xu, Noam Shemtov, Margot Richard, Sharon Cohen and junior Henry Tucher. Some of their work is included in this edition and we look forward to publishing more of their work this semester. As a response to the survey issued to Gunn High School students and published in the Oracle earlier this school year, Verde decided to issue the same survey to Paly students in the hopes of gaining some insight into the true level of happiness at Paly — a school often associated with high performance and stress. Jessica Jin explores the survey results as well as the true happiness of the average Paly student (pg.64). Also in this issue, Jacqueline Woo braves the main office to ask principal Phil Winston anonymous questions from the student body (pg. 26) and new staffer Henry Tucher responds to a recent controversial anonymous column printed in the Campanile about cheating (pg. 30). This issue also addresses comic books, organic foods and much more. — Emily, Scott & Maytal

Staff List

Editors-in-Chief Emily Kellison-Linn Scott Kleckner Maytal Mark

Managing Editors Caroline Ebinger Allen Wu News Editors Sharon Tseng Melissa Wen Business Managers Camille Couchon Elizabeth Silva Art Director Diana Connolly Photo Director Charu Srivastava

Staff Katy Abbott Jamie Allendorf Ana Carano Spencer Carlson Christina Chen Sharon Cohen Savannah Cordova Haley Farmer Hanako Gallagher Emily Hain Jessica Jin Hollie Kool Benjamin May Tin Nguyen Elisa Rerolle Margot Richard Lisie Sabbag Noam Shemtov Henry Tucher Evelyn Wang Jacqueline Woo Angela Xu

Palo Alto Unified School District 25 Churchill Ave. Palo Alto, CA 94306-1099 Publication Policy Verde, a feature magazine published by the students in Palo Alto High School’s Magazine Journalism class, is a designated open forum for student expression and 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 The staff welcomes letters to the editor but reserves the right to edit all submissions for length, grammar, potential libel, invasion of privacy and obscenity. Send all letters to or to 50 Embarcadero Road Palo Alto, CA 94301. All Verde stories are posted online — and available for commenting — at Advertising The staff publishes advertisements with signed contracts providing they are not deemed by the staff inappropriate for the magazine’s audience. For more information about advertising with Verde, please contact the Verde business managers Elizabeth Silva and Camille Couchon by e-mail at or call 650-329-3837 for more information. Printing & Distribution Services Verde is printed five times a year in October, December, February, April and June. Editions that are mailed home are printed by Fricke-Parks Press in Fremont, Calif. and editions distributed on-campus are printed by mBrosia in Pleasanton, Calif. The Paly PTSA mails Verde to every student’s home. All Verde work is archived — and available for commenting at

february 2012




Raising graduation requirments is not the answer


high school diploma is the key to higher success and learning. Increasing the number of the obstacles for a student to receive such vital documentation could prove harmful to a student’s future. Yet the Palo Alto Unified School District may change its graduation requirements, thus altering the necessary prerequisites for Paly students to graduate. The new proposal, suggested on Jan. 31, by superintendent Kevin Skelly, would require both Paly and Gunn High School to adhere to the entrance requirements of the University of California and California State University, thus forcing students to fulfill the CSU/UC A-G requirements. The A-G entrance requirements are not universal, as they solely apply to CSUs and UCs and not private or out of state colleges. These A-G requirements would obligate students to take additional math, science and language classes while also decreasing the number of social studies credits required to graduate. Overall, however, the necessary units for graduation would increase from 210 to 220 credits. Verde disapproves of this proposal but instead supports increasing aid, counseling and after school options for students that do not meet the A-G requirements. Adding obstacles preventing a student from receiving their diploma does not seem to be the sensible solution to increase the level of compliance with A-G requirements. The proposed change in policies would affect the number of required core classes for graduation and this change could have many more negative influences than expected. It would restrict students’ freedom to choose their own classes and disable students from participating in as many elective classes as before. In no way would this new policy decrease the amount of stress felt by the student body. Raising the standards without offering students the help needed to reach the higher expectations

might provoke a negative backlash by preventing students from receiving their diplomas on time and increasing drop-out rates. Skelly’s proposal hopes to increase the percentage of students meeting the A-G requirements, as currently only 80% of Paly graduates meet them. Verde applauds the effort to aid students in need by encouraging all students to meet higher educational standards. Nevertheless, changing the requirements is not the appropriate solution. We as a staff are in no way discouraging students from completing the prerequisites advised for UCs and CSUs. But there is no guarantee that these changes will succeed. Also, they offer little benefit to the student who does not plan to attend a CSU/UC or any four year college. Skelly’s proposal will offer counseling and advising, and measures have already been implemented in Palo Alto schools to help struggling students have taken steps in the right direction. However, Verde does not believe these changes will not be enough, especially when coupled with the rest of Skelly’s proposal. Students who did not meet the requirements in their previous grades consistently do not meet the standards; these are the students towards which our efforts should be targeted. Increased counseling should be provided to the struggling students, rather than attempting to forcefully make them comply with A-G requirements. Changing the district’s graduation requirements would not be an effective long-term solution. It would only apply to a minority of the students and would hinder the many of the students which it attempts to aid, thus defeating the purpose of such a change. This proposal, although created with the right intentions in mind, is not the appropriate solution to bring success to the student body as a whole. v

Increased counseling should be provided to the struggling students, rather than attempting to forcefully make them comply with A-G requirements.


verde magazine

Parents: You are the couple that wants a happy and

Study now, before the test:

Chandrama Anderson, MFT Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist

650-575-2167 CA License #MFC45204

february 2012




Impact of approaching budget cuts Financial strain leads to suspension of old class size policy, more changes.

angela xu

Class inflation

Students sit in Steve Foug’s history class. With upcoming budget cuts, classes may get a little more crowded. The Palo Alto Unified School District is implementing $1.8 million in midyear budget reductions in March, according to the district’s chief business official. $328,000,000 of mid-year cuts on California schools took effect at the beginning of 2012; $400,000 of that has been cut from PAUSD, which was announced at the Jan.17 Board of Education meeting. “The budget cuts are very worrying, especially because the $1.8 million in district mid-year cuts this year seem to be just the beginning,” said Partners in Education volunteer and Palo Alto High School parent, Tina Semba. As a repercussion of state cuts, PAUSD made reductions, such as in routine maintenance and summer staff development. The district will take $30 per student from accounts of previous years that


verde magazine

supply money for other student activities. According to the district’s chief business official Cathy Mak, mid-year cuts occurring now should not immediately affect students. “For next year, we won’t have a proposal until May because we really want to make our recommendation based on the most current budget numbers,” Mak said. This November, Governor Jerry Brown hopes to see a tax initiative pass to raise taxes and reduce the future budget cuts. If this passes, PAUSD predicts that $1.6 million in mid-year cuts for the 2012 — 2013 school year will be made. “There shouldn’t be effects on students. It’s my job to keep [them] away from you,” Principal Phil Winston said. If the initiative does not succeed, PAUSD would face cuts of $370 per student, according to Mak. text by hollie kool

The Palo Unified School District Board of Education is currently discussing a new class size policy, an impact of new budget cuts. On Jan. 17, the Board decided to suspend its old class policy due to decreased state budget funds, which made it harder to meet the policy’s quota. The new policy also allows the school districts to raise class sizes and shift state funds to avoid unnecessary local program cuts and layoffs. According to PAUSD Supt. Kevin Skelly, the district is spending about $900 less per student than it did three years ago. According to Skelly, there is a possibility of Palo Alto High School classes enlarging in the future. Skelly also mentioned that most classroom expansions so far have been at the elementary school level. “We give a certain number of teachers based on the enrollment in the school,” Skelly said. “And then it’s the job of the principal and it’s the principal... who control, to a certain extent, the class size.” The policy states that the Board of Education recognizes the importance of smaller class sizes and it accepts the fact that a large class size can narrow down the amount of attention teachers give to individual students. text by angela xu

District to decide fate of A-G requirements

jamie allendorf

The Palo Alto Unified District Board resented student populations,” according of Education plans to vote on the imple- to PAUSD Superintendent Kevin Skelly in an email to faculty and staff. mentation of new high But this news has been met school graduation rewith mixed responses from quirements that aligns parents and students. with the University of If the proposed changCalifornia’s admission es were made, every student requirements in the would have to take three years spring. of math, as opposed to two, and Although the plans two years of a foreign language are in preliminary stages, to graduate. the change is intended “The class of [2018] must to present a plan to have complete three years of math more students com[if the changes are put into efplete college preparatory classes and support those PAUSD Superintendent fect], including Algebra 2 and Kevin Skellye-related geometry, but students will be who do not. able to choose their third year The proposal is meant to “increase college eligibility rates, class,” said Board of Education member particularly among historically under-rep- Melissa Baten Caswell.

Students would also be required to take a minimum of a year in college preparatory electives. This would include an extra year of any subject that is already required, or non-introductory level courses in the performing and visual arts category. Requirements in other areas will be decreased. Students will no longer have to take any more than two years of history and social science classes. Despite a general consensus for change, according to Baten Caswell, there are many amendments to be made to the proposal before the rapidly approaching spring vote. Baten Caswell said, “I wouldn’t be able to vote to pass the proposal today because there are still many minor adjustments that must be made.” text by jamie allendorf

Guidance programs in process of examination in an e-mail to members of the Board of Reviews of departments such as the Education. library have occurred in the past and were Assistant Principal Kim Diorio de- “a great opportunity to receive objective scribed the project as, “a routine check-up feedback and improve [our] system” acon one of our districts departments” and cording to Rachel Kellerman, head librarnot driven by increased pressure from out- ian, who believes that the consultations side guidance services or student stress. will give PAUSD guidance a chance to With second semester budget-cuts review and amend itself. under way, Principal Phil Winston says it text by noam shemtov may be difficult to undertake large projects or amend the guidance practices in a serious way. Zhang encourages students across PAUSD to continue to take her survey released in Feb. to help formulate a broader and more accurate report. Guidance-related support is available to students through programs outside of their respective school student services department, and through projects such as Project Safety Net. Supervisor of the Guidance Model PAUSD is a leading partner Review Project and co-chair of Project in this organization, according to Safety Net, Amy Drolette, hopes to Amy Drolette, a co-chair of PSN improve on current guidance-related and a supervisor of the Guidance support for students Model Review Project. noam shemtov

Now and in the weeks to come, Palo Alto and Gunn High Schools’ guidance programs will be under the supervision and review of a third party consultant to review and amend current practices, called the Guidance Model Review Project. Consultant Kelun Zhang will be conducting parent and child focus groups as well as supervising Palo Alto Unified School District guidance faculty. She will also supervise teacher advisers to formulate a report on the guidance departments due at the end of March. To gain a greater perspective from a wider index of students than the focus groups, Zhang will be conducting a student survey and reviewing guidance departments at neighboring schools, including Mountain View and Saratoga, although her affiliation is solely with the Palo Alto School District. “Our two schools use different models to provide guidance support to students and families. The Board and community have an interest in making sure students have comparable services in this area, regardless of service model”, said PAUSD Superintendent Kevin Skelly

february 2012


School introduces schedules, fun earlier in year Palo Alto High School administration plans to make class schedules available more than a week before the first day of the 2012-2013 school year, and to turn picture day into a Field Day. Schedules will be on Infinite Campus Aug. 7, according to assistant principal Kim Diorio. “The idea is for us to work out any mistakes or errors ... with very minimal schedule changes to be made when school starts,” Diorio said. According to Diorio, schedule changes will be more tightly regulated next year. “When students change their minds in August about the courses they want to take, it really has a big impact on the rest of the school. So we’re asking students to be really thoughtful this year when it comes to selecting courses,” Diorio said. According to Diorio, the new field day will encourage students to come and get their IDs. “In the past, we always used the schedules as an incentive for students to come. We like doing picture day before school starts, because it’s better not to interrupt instructional time for students to go take pictures,” Diorio said. “[The field day] is just a way to welcome students back from summer into the new school year.” Diorio said that most aspects of the new Field Day will be similar to the field day Paly already does every year in May. text by savannah cordova

By the



verde magazine

Performing arts center in process of beginning next act margot richard

[ NEWS ]

Assistant principal Jerry Berkson points to a map of the performing arts building. The new building is part several construction projects from a district-wide $378 million facilities bond program approved by voters in 2008. Palo Alto High School’s plan for the cutting edge performing arts building is to begin construction by the summer of 2013. “The board approved [the new theater] two weeks ago,” Assistant Principal Jerry Berkson said “This will be a quality place harboring the newest technology,” Berkson said. “The ability to transform from one type of performance to another and to have the area large enough to fit an entire class.” The center will be built on the Embarcadero Road side of campus across from the Haymarket Theater, and will include space to seat up to 583 people. The new performing arts building is


Number of members of the Honor Society for Leap Year Day Babies p. 49-50

needed, according to choir teacher Michael Najar. Najar said that performing in the Haymarket is like playing basketball in the sand: It works but it holds back the performance. “[It] offers a state of the art performance building and it will really help [Paly] step into the next level of performing arts programs,” Najar said. The he building will house different performing arts and will have a complementary acoustic system. “We have looked into an acoustic solution that is electro acoustic, it will give the feeling of being in multiple settings,” Najar said. text by margot richard


Average happiness rating out of ten self declared by Paly students p. 64-66



Principal Phil Winston is negotiating discounts for students and staff at Jamba Juice, and says they will be implemented by summer. Winston has talked with Jamba Juice’s regional manager, vice president, and Town and Country store manager about the reduced pricing options. “I don’t know that the student discount will be the same, but for staff right now it’s 20 percent,” Winston said. Paly students are excited about the coming discount. “If the weather is right, and you could get a discount, [that] would be awesome,” senior Thomas Wade said. Junior Claire Marchon says that the entire Paly community will agree. “I think as a student body, we would all greatly benefit from discounts at Jamba Juice,” she said. In addition to the student/staff pricing, Winston hopes to expand the relationship he has built with the smoothie chain by making hot breakfasts available before school. It may be a while before this service is available, though.

Some students have mixed feelings with regards to the idea of Jamba Juice breakfasts on campus. “I think the money would be way better used in other locations such as the art program, or funding new textbooks, or something that would really benefit all students at Paly instead of just a few students who don’t want to eat breakfast at home,” junior Anna McGarrigle said. Winston does not know yet whether the program will cost Paly any money. Most students express approval of Winston’s plans to get hot breakfast from Jamba Juice on campus before school. “I think it would be a really good idea to have hot breakfast on campus,” junior Jessica Tam said. This will be the latest step in Paly’s growing relationship with the national smoothie chain. “We used them at the beginning of school and then we brought them for College Awareness Day and had free Jambas for everybody, and so we’ve built a relationship with them,” Winston said. The relationship with Jamba Juice

melissa wen

Principal, Jamba Juice in fruitful alliance

Principal Phil Winston tales a sip pf a Peach Mango smoothie. If Winston’s plans work out, students may be seeing the jamba juice cup a lot more often on campus. is not the only thing Winston has been working on. “One of my longer term goals is to continue to build a relationship with Town and Country and maybe even get a student card that says these are the places that give discounts,”said Winston. text by spencer carlson

sharon cohen

Nearly constructed snack shack heads to the track

According to assistant principal Jerry Berkson, if all goes well, students will be sitting on new bleachers at football games next fall.


Number of hours of the average Bollywood movie p. 58-59

Palo Alto High school administration hopes to complete the ongoing stadium construction by August, as well as construction of a new snack bar and entrance to the football field. The construction crew has already started to work on the snack bar, next to the field. According to Earl Hansen, head football coach, the new facility will be a big improvement. “It’s going to be an L-shaped building with new bathrooms, storage, and a big snack bar,” he said.


Percent of students who say they are stressed p. 67-68

Hansen said that if everything goes according to plan, Paly will also get new bleachers by the end of the year. “That’s up to the state, and when they approve the plans. Once they approve [the bleachers], we can start [construction] May 15,” he said. “If we can start at that date, or very close to that date, then we can have them done before next year.” In the more distant future, Paly also hopes to renovate the gym, according to assistant principal Jerry Berkson. text by sharon cohen


Number of attendees at 2012 fungus festival

february 2012

p. 37 - 39


[ NEWS ]

melissa wen

Art center to repaint image

With the dawn of a new electronic library, students can check out books on computer screens.

Library books go digital Palo Alto and Gunn High School students can now access the Palo Alto Unified School District’s free download library. With the new electronic library, students can access hundreds of books for PC, Mac, iPad, android phones, Nook and Kindle, according to Paly librarian Rachel Kellerman. The library regards the electronic books as a growing trend upon examining research conducted by The Pew Research Organization that showed a 60 percent increase in tablet use, Kellerman said, adding, “I think that this kind of reading will be much more common.” According to Kellerman, both Gunn and Paly libraries organized a survey asking the students if they were open to the idea of using electronic books. The feedback from both showed that the students seemed very positive to the idea.

The Palo Alto Art Center is holding a logo design competition to recreate its visual identity and keep up with its facilities’ recent renovations Submissions for the competition are due by March 5. They can be created in any medium, except photography, and must be easy to recreate, according to the Palo Alto Art Center. “As part of our plans for reopening, we will be launching a new visual identity and we thought, what would be a better way to engage the public in the Art Center than launching a logo competition? ” said Palo Alto Art Center Director Karen Kienzle. Logo submissions will be judged by a panel of design experts from mul-

timedia agencies, like 1185 Design and IDEO, both of which have locations in Palo Alto, and LUNAR. “The judges will be looking for something that conveys this idea of everyone being an artist, as well as the unique characteristics of friendly, inclusive, and welcoming that we feel are essential to the Art Center’s identity,” Kienzle said. The winner will be announced in May and will receive free annual membership to the Palo Alto Art Center Foundation. The winner’s name will be featured on all products related to the Art Center’s redevelopment.

text by jamie allendorf

Teen musicians audition up a storm Hurricane Music Festival auditions will take place on March 10, 2012, featuring teen musicians and bands. Besides musicians, the festival is looking for sponsors, donations of services, equipment, chaperones and vendors. The Hurricane Music festival itself will take place on May 12, 2012, at Mitchell Park. It is open to everyone. According to Teen Arts Council marketing representative Cody Evenhuis, the event is going to be big. “It is entirely run by teens and is a

large scale event,” Evenhuis said. According to Teen Arts Council Coordinator Zillah Glory, Teen Arts Council member Steffan Salas has been working on this event for the past year, and would like Hurricane to become an annual event. “Steffan is representative of a growing population of teens who initiate communication with the community-atlarge by taking responsibility for defining who and what they are about and offering that to us,” Glory said. text by jacqueline woo

text by angela xu

Lights, camera, action! InFocus strives to improve broadcast The school newscast, InFocus, is taking creative steps to improving its show. InFocus recently lost access to its telecast for two weeks, due to construction workers cutting the cable that transmits InFocus’ broadcasts to the school. Now the school’s newscast is making ongoing efforts to make their program interesting and keep its script and segments relevant to students.


verde magazine

“Our No.1 goal is what we can do to make our shows more entertaining and be more informative than the bulletin,” InFocus executive producer Sarah Miller said. This year, InFocus is adding new software to increase creativity in their graphics. Miller said that producers are also contemplating adding a ticker that shows sports scores, and the show has been putting more weight on script writing. InFocus spends an entire period

preparing the day’s broadcast for the school. According to InFocus’ adviser Ellen Austin, the newscast also includes segments that tie into the bulletin at the moment. According to Miller, it also provides deeper background to the news. “We’re basically doing everything we can to make use of those five minutes,” Miller said. text by angela xu

New ice cream shop owner reverses decision to freeze out Teen Art’s Council

margot richard

Legality of gay marriage in California to be discussed

A waffle cone and it’s three delicious inhabitants pose for Verde. Due to the Rick’s ice cream shop’s owner’s decision, Teen Art’s Council productions will be able to more readily access these treats in the near future. Despite rumors to the contrary, Rick’s Rather Rich Ice cream will continue to provide ice cream for plays put on by the Palo Alto Teen Art Council. According to Teen Art’s Council coordinator and director Zillah Glory, Ricks had decided not to provide ice cream for the council production this spring of “Reasons to Be Pretty,” which has since been canceled, due to the controversial issues that the play raised. “It’s a little bit intense, it’s a little bit grown up. These are not stories that you

think of for a childrens’ theater,” Glory said. This initial decision was made by Rick’s former owner, Gary Schoen. New owner Kiki Khosla said that she will not follow the previous owner’s policies. Khosla, said that she is willing to provide ice cream regardless of future plays’ topics. “It doesn’t matter to me [what] the plays are about,” Khosla said. “As far as I’m concerned, we’re just giving ice cream to kids.” text by Sharon Cohen, with contributions by Lisie Sabbag and Margot Richard

A repeal of Proposition 8, the 2009 proposition that made gay marriage illegal in the state of California, is expected to reach the Supreme Court through appeals by August of 2012 due to the fragile nature of an already once rescinded legalization of gay marriage in 2008. A series of appeals is expected to bring the ninth-circuit decision to the Supreme Court, where a verdict is to be made by a panel of nine judges. Some argue that it will be decided by conservative Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, who has often voted against his political affiliation regarding gay rights. Director of Carnegie Mellon’s Humanities Scholars Program Timothy Haggerty expressed optimism concerning the pending appeal in an interview with Carnegie Mellon News. “The repeal of Proposition 8 in California is a significant milestone in the fight for marriage equality”, said Haggerty. “The historical imperative of samesex equality seems to have finally reached a critical mass in society, making a once-reviled minority an integral part of the American community”. When asked about the imminent repeal, John, a gay Palo Alto High School parent who wishes to remain unnamed, expressed relative indifference, claiming that the federal recognition status of marriage status was of primary importance. “None of that matters [at this point] under the Obama administration, because the federal government refuses to recognize gay marriage regardless,” he said. text by noam shemtov february 2012






verde magazine

Top 5 Presidential Fun Facts With President’s Day quickly approaching, the Verde staff thought it would be appropriate to find out more about the men who have served our country. But it’s not always business in the White House! Check out these quirky facts:

1. Franklin Pierce ran over an old lady while riding his horse and was arrested.

2. William Harding bet the White House china set in a poker game and lost it all.


Abraham Lincholn was a licensed bartender and owned a saloon.


4. William Howard Taft got stuck in the White House bathtub and had to install a larger one.

5. Obama’s ninth cousin is Brad Pitt. Text and Art: HOLLIE KOOL and JAMIE ALLENDORF Sources: and

Be one of the first five to find the Verde V-Man hidden in this issue and come to Room 213 to claim your prize!

Chit-Chat >>> Clara Harrington, freshman

“Hawaii, because there are oceans and beaches.”

Where are you happiest?

>>> Aaron Slipper, sophomore

“I would say that it must have been my mother’s womb… I was born with my umbilical cord around my neck so I must have put up a fight.”


Post-it Art

Post-it representations of what students think are Paly’s biggest secrets.






In the room of Ms. Kellerman

Passing through and spending time in the library is routine for all Paly students, but how many people actually notice what is around them? Verde talks to librarian Rachel Kellerman to get the inside scoop on everyday aspects of the library.



“We were trying to make this space a little more teen friendly with more green zones and places to hang out and relax. It [the chalkboard] is a place where people can just put stuff ... I just love it.” “Humor is the best form of stress relief…we have our regulars, kids who come every week … There is nothing quite like a little humor.”



“[The stained glass windows] predate me. This place was remodeled in 1970 and I have a feeling it hasn’t really changed much…its kind of scary.” “The silent study room was painted by an interior design student over the summer. She got an idea to brighten it up so we took down some shelves and she painted it.”

From top to bottom by: Margaret Bastidas, senior; Maddy Jones, freshman; Eric Bloom, teacher; Jonathan Mackris, sophomore

Photo Contest Think you have a >>> Peter Laminette, junior >>> Shina KimAlavos, junior “At the mall.”

“France in the summer. Otherwise, soccer relieves stress.” Compiled and Photographed by ANA CARANO

winning photograph? Submit to: launchphotos@ for a chance to be featured as The Launch Banner in Verde’s next issue! Enter by March 20, 2012. (Best if looks good in both grayscale and color!) february 2012


5 Questions with... Cheyenne Woodward


n mid-November, Palo Alto High School’s AP Art students began Project 868, a movement to raise money for Paly’s art program. The art department is currently given $8.68 per art student for supplies per year, which is not even enough for a tube of paint. Verde talked to AP Art student and co-founder of Project 868 Cheyenne Woodward, senior, about her art career and Project 868. The other co-founders are seniors Samantha Chang, Maddie Kau, Yael Palmon and Lauryn Park. Visit their website at How did you become interested in art? “When I was really young I had a babysitter named Mara. She drew a lot and when she was babysitting me she drew with me and I learned to love it. She was into animé, so that was where I started. ... I got interested in drawing without the cultural aspects of animé, so I was drawing more realistically.” What is it like being an artist? “The hardest part of being interested in painting or an art career is definitely the career part, so it’s kind of scary when you think of how little security you might have. ... At this point it’s not about the career, it’s about ... doing it because it’s something I love.” Why did AP Art found Project 868? “We found out that a lot of the materials we’ve been using were kind of saved up and that next year our teacher [Kate McKenzie] wouldn’t have anything to work with, so we started 868 as a way to fund the next year for art supplies. Why not fundraise through the school? “They [the administrators] wouldn’t let us fundraise through the school, so we’re doing this completely independently.

Text and Photo by CAROLINE EBINGER

What will the future of Project 868 and Paly art hold? “We’re hoping to get underclassmen interested in the project so we can pass it along to other people. ... We hope it becomes at least a semi-permanent part of Paly art.”

Parents: You are the couple that wants a happy and healthy marriage after your nest is empty.

Study now, before the test:

Chandrama Anderson, MFT Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist

650-575-2167 CA License #MFC45204


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18 20 22 26 28


From computers to galleries Local artist Katie Herzog shares artwork and experiences Text and Photography by HALEY FARMER


verything about Katie Herzog, from her blue and white collered dress and thin black-rimmed glasses, to her concentrated eyes and delicate crossed arms, screams artist. She observed the wide lens Canon camera hanging from my neck, then reached her hand out in front of me to shake mine, asking what sparked my interest to attend her show. Herzog a former Palo Alto High school student from the 90s and a local artist spoke at the opening of her


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new art show, “Object Oriented Programming” at the Palo Alto Recreation Center on Friday, Jan 13. During her speech, a slideshow projected some of her most recent art, including “C is for Cookie” and the grand “Phone Books” display. Beginning in her childhood, Herzog knew she wanted to share her artistic talent with others. While coming up with her own unique ideas beginning in the 80s, she spent her free time photocopying comic strips about meaningless life and stapling them to telephone poles in College Terrace.

Most of Herzog’s early inspiration was found in her father’s career as a scientist. She spent most of her childhood around science labs. Herzog says she vividly remembers, when she was growing up her mother intoducing her to many people who would later impact her artistic career. “My mother exposed me to wacky cultural people, experiences and art museums growing up,” Herzog says. Herzog has been involved with art her whole life. She worked at Klutz press, a packaging company that put togehter children’s books with attached supplies,

adding puzzles and games. Herzog attended Paly for her freshman year in 1993 and then transfered to a different high school. Herzog spent most of her college days travelling around the U.S., receiving a bachelor of Fine Arts from the Rhode Island School of Design and a master of fine arts from UC San Diego, and studying library and information science at San Jose State University. Herzog explained why she decided to mix art and technology. “I’m inspired by [not only] the deceased Monet and Vermeer, but by research and technology,” Herzog says. Herzog worked as the assistant reference librarian at Whittier library in Los Angeles during 2007, an experience she considers inspiring. She was asked by the library to print a personal painting on library cards and pass them out. Also during her job extravaganza, Herzog combined her love for librariana and exercise and attended the world-wide known Berlin bike ride. Many librarians around the world attended, where they stopped very few times and rode for fun. Herzog’s current position in the job

field is the director of Molesworth Institute, based in Los Angeles. According to Herzog, this institute holds "a broad collection of librarian based books, and is a leading supporter of disjunctive librarianship, currently holding 87 fellow scholars," Herzog says. Growing up through the paths of Palo Alto, she’s always been influenced by outside resources and inspired by those in her own household. According to Herzog, she’s always had an artistic sense; while going to work with her father as a child, she incorporated memories into one of her first art pieces, “Head scarf ”- a piece in which X-ray heads are aligned in rows of two, as if they were reflecting one another. The future holds many projects for Herzog, including shows in Los Angeles and Oxford this spring and summer. "I am really excited about these shows since they are both being organized by wonderful curators, whose [understanding] of my work will enable me to expand into new formats [for] upcoming exhibitions," Herzog says. v february 2012



Do you ‘kulele? Ukulele players bring new style to campus


wo seniors are strumming chords and notes while other students walk towards the P-16 ramp. Other strummers are chatting about each others’ ukuleles. Once all are in unison, the members of the Ukulele Club play songs, including REM’s “Losing My Religion” and Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Snow.” These students are part of a growing Paly custom of bringing a ukulele to school. “It’s easy to play,” Emanuel Henriquez, president of the Ukulele Club, says. “You can pick [it] up in an hour.”


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Henriquez finds the ukulele more portable than other instruments. “You can bring it to more places than you would, say, a guitar ... I would take my ukulele on a Caltrain, but I would never take my guitar on the Caltrain,” Henriquez says. Kfir Dolev, the founder of the Ukulele Club, agrees with its playability as well. “It’s much easier [to play] than a guitar, bass, or piano,” Dolev says. Dolev learned the ukulele much faster compared to other instruments he plays, including the hand flute. “They [ukuleles] are a good place to start learning music,” Dolev says. “But, it’s not an … instrument you are going to master. How many people do you know that are ukulele masters?” Ukuleles offer a great way for students to try a new instrument while still having fun and going at their individual pace, branching from the usual school curriculum. Eighty-nine percent of K-12 California schools fail to meet the standards for visual arts, dance, music and theater, according to SRI International, a nonprofit research and development group. Twenty-nine percent of California public schools do not offer courses in any of the four arts and 61 percent do not have a full-time teacher for these arts courses. Although Paly is fortunate to have a strong arts program, the Ukulele Club creates an environment where students can teach and learn a musical instrument in a social environment outside of the classroom. According to Dolev, the Ukulele Club allows the members to join together weekly to play and enjoy ukuleles and other instruments. Many see the club as an indie group, differentiating from other rigid and rigorous courses.

“It helped me get a good base for music, which, from then on, I could use for other instruments” —senior KFIR DOLEV “The point of this club [is] to play ukulele … but it’s become a hipster instruments club,” Dolev says. Senior Tato Lu, a member of the club, remembers when he first started playing the ukulele. “[It was challenging] only in the beginning when you are learning to play chords,” Lu says. “I never played any stringed instrument like a guitar before.” The ukulele, Lu says, provides a way of learning chords and chord progression to both beginning and advanced players of various instruments. Henriquez, Dolev and Lu started less than a year ago but already find ukulele playing exciting. “[I play] just because it’s fun,” Lu says. “That’s it.” The ukulele allows fellow artists from around the Bay Area to relate through their instruments. “When I lived in San Francisco, a lot of my friends played ukulele so … this one time we had a bonfire at Ocean Beach and then everyone just brought their ukuleles and some people brought their guitars,” Henriquez says. “It was a bonding [experience] … Everybody could just pick up a

ukulele and just start playing it.” However, many players do acknowledge the ukulele’s limits. “Most people think it’s annoying because it’s a high range,” Henriquez says. Lu finds the ukulele a joy to play but sometimes expects more. “Because it has four strings, it’s pretty limited,” Lu says. “I’ve always wanted to play lower, but it’s stuck in the high notes.” Despite its limited range and pitch, the ukulele offers a low price compared to other instruments, making it a great alternative to other stringed instruments such as a guitar or bass guitar. “The ukulele I got was $30 … a decent one would be $80, depending on the brand and the size,” Henriquez says. Many ukulele players buy their instruments at Gryphon Stringed Instruments, a local instrument store. However, others buy from larger sites such as Amazon for convenience. Lu feels that comparisons between the ukulele and guitar are often unfair. “[The ukulele is alternative] for people to consider as a different instrument than a guitar,” Lu says. “A lot of people tend to pair the two together, but it really feels different.” Lu justifies why he feels the ukulele is on par with other instruments. “I wouldn’t say it [a ukulele] is better [instrumentally],” Lu says. “I just say a ukulele is better because it’s a cheaper

instrument.” Dolev found the ukulele useful for initially learning the basics of music. “It helped me get a good base for music, which, from then on, I could use for other instruments,” Dolev says. As a beginner, Lu found the ukulele beneficial as well. “[The ukulele] really helps how chords work,” Lu says. The Ukulele Club meets at Room P-16, Justin Cronin’s classroom, every Thursday during lunch, according to Henriquez. “If you buy a ukulele, you’ll never stop playing it … It’s not a wasted investment,” Dolev says. v

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Tea’s Tale

Alumna’s novel set in her war-torn homeland and sparked by grandfather’s death Text by ELISA REROLLE Photography by CHARU SRIVASTAVA and ELISA REROLLE


CHIT CHAT (above) Author Tea Obreht gives an author talk at Books Inc.


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his is a real homecoming for me,” the speaker, a petite blonde, begins. “A little known fact is that I went to high school across the street, and used to wander this area, and, you know, make mischief: Leave cups out without throwing them in the trash around the corner at Jamba Juice. So I am a hooligan — reformed now.” The wide semi circle of chairs placed around her, square in the center of Town and Country’s Books Inc. is mostly filled with silverhaired ladies who all seem to know each other. It’s 20 minutes before the book talk is scheduled to start and already not a seat can be found, people filing to stand in the back of the room. Everyone is here to see Palo Alto High School graduate Tea Obreht speak about the her new book The Tiger’s Wife. Nine years after her graduation, Obreht is no longer here as a senior prepping for exams or hanging around with friends, but as

a newly minted author The Tiger’s Wife, Obreht’s first published novel, has received huge critical acclaim, winning the Orange Prize for Fiction (and making Obreht the youngest author to date to win this award), making the New York Times Best Seller list of 2011, and qualifying as a finalist for the 2011 National Book Award. The Bessie statue, an award given with the Orange Prize for Fiction, had a bit of a journey from the United Kingdom to the United States. “The first thing I did was lose it,” Obreht says. “It got lost in my luggage: I went one way and my luggage went the other way, but luckily it’s been retrieved now and it’s sitting in my living room.” Growing up Known as Tea Bajraktarević throughout her childhood, Obreht agreed to take her grandfather’s name as a pen name at his dying request. Born and raised in Belgrade, Serbia (formerly Yugoslavia), she and her family were forced to move when she was seven due to the ethnic conflicts erupting in her country. Moving first to Cyprus, then Egypt, and ultimately settling in the United States (first Atlanta, then Palo Alto), Obreht enrolled in Palo Alto High School as a 12-year-old freshman, having skipped a couple of grades in elementary school. She started writing at a young age,

quickly realizing and deciding that becoming an author was what she wanted to do with her life. During a private interview with Verde, Obreht recounted her moment of realization. “When I was eight years old, I wrote a short story about a ghost and that was pretty much it for me,” Obreht says. “It was a turning point for me.” During her high school career, Obreht continued to indulge her literary obsession, drafting stories in her own free time. “I was writing in high school,” Obreht says. “And besides the fact that I would write papers in English that were way too long and over-descriptive, I had a tendency to come up with short stories and beginnings of novels that always failed.” Though Obreht says she wasn’t nearly as successful in the mathematical department, Palo Alto High School math teacher and Obreht’s high school teacheradviser Arne Lim remembers differently. “She was extremely, extremely bright and she was advanced when it came to the mathematics,” Lim says. “She really could do an awful lot; it was a matter of what she set her mind to succeed in.”

Post Graduation Graduating from Paly in 2002, Obreht went on to the University of Southern California to study creative writing and chose to continue her studies in Cornell University’s Master of Fine Arts program in creative writing, a prestigious program that only accepts eight applicants yearly. But Obreht’s momentous transition was dampened by the death of her grandfather. Always close, his death came as a surprise to Obreht, and though she grieved for him, she decided that her mourning should not prevent her from attending Cornell and focusing on her career as an author. Despite the lingering sadness from her grandfather’s passing, Obreht remained very excited for the move to Ithaca, New York. Having always lived in mild climates, Obreht admits that the thought of finally experiencing real seasons delighted her. “I was excited at the prospect of snow and a nice fall, and sure enough the fall was orange and beautiful,” Obreht says. “Then winter came and I thought,

‘Wow. Snow!’ which, living in Egypt before moving to California, I’d never really seen before. After the first couple of times I dug up the wrong car because it happened to be the same color as mine, I thought, ‘Well, this is enough season for me. I want to go home.’” Still she stayed, holing up in a small apartment to survive the winter. “I was trying to write in this tiny subterranean apartment that was built to maximize the torment of the snow because the floor of the apartment was below ground and the window sill was at waist level, so when you stood in your house and looked outside and the snow began to fall, you would see it piling up against your window like an hourglass, and you would stand on your tippy-toes for as long as you could and then the outside world would be gone and there would be nothing to do but write,” Obreht recounts. “But of course I found distractions.” Finding Inspiration It was during such a moment of procrastination — going through a “National Geographic marathon binge,” as Obreht describes it —

february 2012


LAUGHS (above) Author Tea Obreht goofs around with her former Teacher Adviser Arne Lim. (left) Cover of Tea Obreht’s first book, The Tiger’s Wife. Her book won the Orange Prize for Fiction, making her the youngest author to win this prestegious award.


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that she suddenly found inspiration. The segment she was watching focused on a Russian researcher’s study of a pair of Siberian Tigers, but it was his companion’s work that sparked Obreht’s interest. “His wife had raised these tigers from cub-hood, and was able to bring them down from these terrible rages they would fly into, just by the sound of her voice,” Obreht remember. “She would talk to them, and they would turn into goo and come to the fence and just melt into big tiger-y puddles.” Obreht sat down and wrote the first draft of a short story she called “The Tiger’s Wife”, a tale set in the Balkans and recounting the story of a young deaf-mute girl following an escaped circus tiger to a small village where a small boy witnesses their interaction. And so she took her story to workshop, a meeting at which a group of people engage in intensive discussion, to get some outside input. “I went to workshop and just got destroyed,” Obreht says. “My colleagues were non-plussed and didn’t think the story was particularly good and it really isn’t; I’ve read it since. It’s a terrible, terrible, terrible short story. To give you an example of one of the comments that came up, my very good friend and colleague of mine, Alexi Zentner said, ‘This story has pitchfork wielding rabble in it. There should never be pitchfork-wielding peasants, unless the story is Frankenstein. I see here the story is not Frankenstein.’ And he was right.” Though discouraged, Obreht knew she didn’t want to give up on the story, feeling that something about the characters and the plot was right, and having already grown found of the deaf-mute girl and the little boy from the village. “‘Maybe if I take the comments that were given to me and expand this short story, it’ll be better,’” Obreht thought. “So it went from 20 pages to 30 pages and I thought, ‘Well, this is still garbage. Now there’s just more of it. Ten more pages of it.’ And I kept writing, and I kept writing, and now it was 40 pages, and I thought, ‘Well this is a little better because the crap has just had room to spread out and sort of is diluted by a couple of passages that actually kind of work. Um, that’s interesting.’”

Entering the program at Cornell, Obreht had assumed that writing a novel would come naturally, with time. “But in reality, for me and for everyone else who ended up writing a novel, it was, ‘This is garbage at 20 pages and garbage at 30 pages, it’s a little bit better at 40 pages, at 70 I can’t call it a short story any more and at 100 I think I’m writing a novel!’” Obreht says. “And somewhere in the process the little boy from the original short story became the grandfather of the narrator.” She began to realize the unconscious parallels she had drawn between her grandfather and the grandfather in the story, though she chose the path of denial and chalked it up to mere coincidence. But in retrospect, it would seem that her mourning of her grandfather’s death wasn’t quite over. “But toward the end of the book, I started to sort of realize that there were similarities between that fictional grandfather and my grandfather, and came to realize that, yes, he was modeled on my grandfather, and the relationship between Natalia and her grandfather was closely modeled on the emotional truth of my relationship with mine, although I actually am in no way like Natalia,” Obreht admits. Though most of the original short story has been edited out in the process of polishing the story, the prologue of the novel is one of the few passages that has remained since the first draft. Her story was sold to Dial Press and later to her acutual publisher, Random House, and the editing began. “You learn things about yourself in the editing process, terrible things,” Obreht says, laughing. “But you accept them.” As drafts were sent back and forth and the novel was nearing its finish, Obreht was still bothered by her portrayal of Balkan village life. Though she had been going back to Serbia-Croatia since 2003, she felt that details of the culture and dialect were off. As she got her first round of edits back, she was offered a non-fiction assignment for Harper’s Magazine “as Tea Obreht: Vampire Hunter,” Obreht says. “Not a joke. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but apparently the vampire is back in the West. There’s like this series called

Twilight? I’m sure you’ve probably never heard of it.” This assignment required Obreht to spend extensive time in the Balkans. As she investigated the difference between the Western vampire and its ancestor, the Balkan vampire, she came into close contact with both native folklore and people. “Our mantra was: knock, knock. Hello. You don’t know me, but would you like to say a few words about your vampire?’, Obreht says. “And one of two things would happen. Either they would invite you in for really, really strong liquor, or they would slam the door in your face, knocking you off their stoop, and the latter happened much more often”. When she got back to the U.S., she rewrote 120 pages of her story before handing it back for edits, finally comfortable enough with her representation of the Balkans to allow it to be published. The Tiger’s Wife was released on March 8, 2011. The Book The Tiger’s Wife is a complex interweaving of stories spanning across three generations. Set in the war-torn Balkans, Natalia, the main character, is crossing the border to go on a humanitarian action when she learns that her grandfather has died in an obscure hospital across the border. As she sets out to get answers and recover his belongings, memories of past conversations and stories between them resurface, slowly giving answers. The story starts in a flashback, somewhere in the middle of the story, and ping pongs back and forth between past and present, slowly linking both. Blurring the line between myth and reality and delving into the complexities of changing relationships, Obreht says that her book was an exploration of the meaning of death and means to come to terms with her own grandfather’s death. Obreht’s style of writing flows, her descriptive passages intricate but drawing the reader in. “She has a wonderful way of describing in so many different ways the same event, from different perspectives,” Lim says. “The way that she keeps going on and on and on about how things were just really sets the tone and lets you under-

stand and envision what she did also.” The Future With her first book out, Obreht‘s next novel is eagerly awaited, though this anticipation is placing some strain on the author to find the next idea and start writing. “At the moment I’m feeling a lot of internal pressure, mainly because the conditions under which this book was written was very unique to my life,” Obreht says. “Clearly, my grandfather had died, I was in this particular place, and I had my whole childhood to draw on, which had been an untapped resource until then. What I really don’t want to do is to write

something just for the sake of writing something, without any integrity. The need to write has to be real.” And it seems Obreht may have found some inspiration, hinting at a new idea for a book, though she’s not ready to share yet. And to all high school writers, Obreht encourages them to commit to their writing and to understand that criticism comes with the job. “The work that you do will hit some people, will strike a chord with some and won’t strike a chord with other,” Obreht explains. “That’s the nature of the work, the nature of the game. You can’t expect to be loved by everyone, and that’s totally fine.” v

february 2012




alo Alto High School principal Phil Winston faces forward at his desk, shifting his body toward me. Notably interested in answering anonymously asked questions by Paly students, he smiles and place his hands together to show he is focused and ready. These questions were volunteered through Facebook by Palo Alto High School facebook users. Although June marks the end of the second year of Winston’s term as principal, there is still much students don’t know about him.

Through the eyes of Phil Winston Principal reveals his thoughts and opinions on school and his personal life. Text and Photography by JAQUELINE WOO


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Questions ful-PHIL-ed Verde: Do you consider yourself a risk taker or do you play it safe when it comes to managing school affairs? Phil Winston: A risk taker. If somebody comes up with an idea we think is going to help students, we try to jump all over that. VM: Is there any recent risk you took? PW: Sure. We added five additional sections of Focus on Success. It’s huge; that’s a big risk because we’re investing a lot of money on our struggling kids. VM: Have you ever smoked pot or tried other illegal substances in high school? PW: No comment. VM: Are you sure? PW: [Nods] VM: How is dealing with the rabid parental units of students at Paly? PW: The parents are fine. That whole area in terms of myths surrounding parents and how they act is such a small appearance [occurrence]. Yeah, it’s kind of annoying and we could be using our time in other ways...but they mean well and have their students’ best interests [in mind]. VM: Do mothers of students ever hit on you? PW: Do mothers of students ever hit on me? [laughs] That’s cute. No. VM: Why do you wear your sunglasses backwards? PW: Oh, so I don’t lose them. It’s just an old habit from playing baseball. VM: When do you wear your glasses like that? PW: When I am in classrooms and when I am talking with people.

VM: How did you decide to grow a goatee? Did it evolve from a full-on beard? PW: The reality is that I don’t like to shave. I would rather not shave but I wouldn’t look very good. VM: If you could only have one superpower, what would it be? PW: If I had one superpower it would be the power to give people resiliency. VM: Why? PW: Because we have a lot of giver-uppers. What I mean by that is that they try to do perfect something once and if it doesn’t work out they give up or whine or cry or blame other people ... and that doesn’t work very well. I would like for everyone to be resilient. His PHILosophy VM: Should teachers let their students eat in class? PW: Yes. I think it’s hard for students to concentrate and know they cannot eat. VM: Should parents be involved in a student’s academic life? PW: Absolutely. It [academics] cannot be done alone. The challenge are parents who drive their students and kids in unhealthy ways. Often parents don’t realize it’s unhealthy until a student or somebody acts up. VM: What do you think of Paly traditions? PW: Well, Spirit Week is fantastic. VM: What about the more extreme ones? PW: What, you mean the ones where you run across the school buck-naked? I don’t see how that can be fun at all. It actually looks painful. Well, it’s entertaining but if you were going to touch a naked person, there’s a whole safety piece that I think people are missing. There are more students and more cars than there were 10 years ago, and I just want people to be safe. So I would prefer that they would not do that. VM: Are you going to have any preventive measures? PW: Same thing as last year. We’ll have

people stationed around campus. We’ll prevent it before it even starts by having more adults on campus and blocking exits. It’s going to be a little different on campus with all the back campus construction. It would be better if someone stopped, paused, and thought of a better tradition. VM: What do you think about the clothing kids wear to school these days? PW: I think it depends on the weather. If it was warm I would prefer less legs and buttcheeks. I think our students are pretty respectable. There are a couple times where I go up to a girl and say, ‘Really? You need to find something else to wear.’ And the next day they are dressed perfectly well. VM: What do you think could be improved most at Paly? PW: Oh I always ask that question. I walk around and ask students at Paly, “What would you want changed?” I get a wide range of opinion from folks. It changes each day for me but I think the magic ends in classrooms. When me and teachers just reflect on the things we do, it can be really helpful. A few minor adjustments can make a major change across campus.

VM: What was the most recent improvement? PW: I would say adding more support classes. VM: What’s your PHILopsophy? PW: Oh, it’s right there! [image reproduced below].

I don’t even know who the guy is. I just saw the quote and I was like, ‘Damn, that’s it.’ I think you should have fun in what you do. There’s so much caution in academics and I think it’s overrated. VM: What do you think of the school bathrooms? PW: Oh, I think they could be better. Whenever I go to the boy’s bathroom and see something wrong, I immediately go get it fixed. There are a lot of young men that use these bathrooms. They’re not as clean as they could be. v

february 2012



A shining planet

Remembering the light that Rebecca T. Greene shed Text by MELISSA WEN Photos courtesy of the PALO ALTO HIGH SCHOOL YEARBOOK


magine an empty Palo Alto High School campus: no seniors on the deck, no freshman sprinting to class, no juniors in the library, no sophomores coalescing on the quad. Instead of a strolling principal, lone seagulls cruise the campus, answering the wind with sharp hellos. Oct. 14, 1926, was one of those days, a rare pause in the hustle of daily life at Paly. Yet it was not a holiday. The interruption was in memory of Rebecca T. Greene, and a testament to her importance in the Paly community. Greene became associate principal in 1915, and retained the position until her passing on Oct. 13. Greene had suffered from cancer since earlier in the year, and her illness ended a career in education that spanned several decades. “Her office has always been a quiet place for teachers and students to find peace from every-day troubles,” said Paly teachers Sophia Cramer and George Mercer at the student memorial. “She expressed interest in each individual student and her keen insight always found a wise solution for every difficulty.” In 1927, the Parent Teacher association created the Rebecca T. Greene scholarship, in honor of Greene’s dedication. Having graduated from Welles-

Paly, circa 1920


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FACE OF HISTORY Madrono dedicated a page to Greene in the 1920 yearbook. ley College in 1880, Greene joined the Paly faculty in 1901 as an English and Latin teacher. She went on to become assistant principal in 1908 and associate principal and registrar in 1915. While at Paly, Greene participated in the forming of the PTA, and in the uniting of the Palo Alto area into a new district that lasted until 1931. Greene witnessed the first publication of The Campanile in 1918, and on Dec. 24 joined in a historic march from the original campus at Webster and Channing to the current Paly facilities on Embarcadero Road across Stanford. After her death, one student paid tribute

to Greene in poetic form, comparing her to a “shining planet,” that brightened the days of everyone at Paly. The opening lines further evidence the extent of Greene’s influence: “She faded with the golden sun As it sank beneath the hill Leaving us an empty space That none can ever fill.” The Rebecca T. Greene scholarship is funded by PTA contributions and gifts from alumni and graduating classes, and is granted, according to student information notes, to students based on “scholarship, adaptability, willingness to work, and financial need for the continuance of education.” Now 85 years old, it survives as one of the oldest memorial scholarships at Paly. Last year’s recipient was Chloe Chen, now a freshman at Georgetown University. “I was honored to be recognized by the scholarship committee for my contributions as a Paly student,” Chen says. According to Chen, the scholarship amounted to roughly $100. She used it to buy textbooks, but does not consider money to be the main object of the award. “A lot of people do some pretty incredible things on campus, so I was glad to know that I made a positive impact on the community.” she says. v



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Why I don’t cheat

A response to Campanile’s articles on cheating



he Campanile’s January edition had three different articles about cheating: one about an SAT cheating scandal in New York, a conspicuous article titled “Why I Cheat,” and another providing “A Different Perspective.” Although I am hardly an idealist, after reading “Why I Cheat” I felt obliged to respond to this anonymous author who cheats out of convenience. In “Why I Cheat,” the author states: “I will not stop cheating until I have a reason to do so and I will not have a reason until the administration figures out to be effective in preventing academic dishonesty.” Although it is true that our school could have more effective cheating policies, I don’t want to have to turn in my phone, empty my pockets, roll up my sleeves and sit 20 feet away from others when I take a test; I don’t want to feel like my school or my teachers distrust me, and more importantly, this anonymous author shouldn’t leave it to the administration to prevent him from being immoral. Granted, “A Different Perspective” responds to “Why I Cheat” by stating “I feel naked when someone cheats off of me” and that “cheating hurts cheaters in the long run,” but I doubt any cheaters are deterred by these messages. I don’t intend to quote Greek philosophers about cheating; instead, I interviewed Paly faculty about cheating, because if Sophocles’ claim that he “would prefer to fail with honor than win by cheating” doesn’t deter cheaters, maybe the Academic Honesty Policy will. An anonymous student interviewed for “Why I Cheat” stated: “No teacher wants to be the teacher that kept a kid from getting into a good college.” Even though many cheaters are not caught or referred to the office, those who are should expect that their parents, their teacher adviser, and the instructional supervisor will hear about the incident. In addition, cheaters can expect a


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zero on the assignment or test ... and that’s just for the first offense. Many cheaters, including the author of “Why I Cheat,” have a “that won’t happen to me” attitude, but cheaters are referred more than many students would believe. Last year, three freshmen, 13 sophomores, 29 juniors, and 12 seniors were referred to the office because they cheated, according to Assistant Principal Jerry Berkson. Although the majority of these 57 students were first-offense cheaters, a few were second-offense cheaters and were consequently dropped from their classes with F’s, and one third-offense cheater faced even graver consequences, including a threeday suspension that all colleges will see on this student’s transcript. “Whether you cheated on a 15-point homework assignment or a semester final, when the referral hits my desk, the penalty is the same,” Berkson said. Another anonymous student interviewed for “Why I Cheat” confessed to cheating on his or her math final. “I studied for the test and went into it confident, but I thought a little bit of extra help couldn’t hurt,” this student said. Just for fun, I calculated what my math grade would have been last semester if I had cheated on my final and consequently received a zero: potentially a two-letter difference; that “little bit of extra help” really can hurt. Kirk Hinton, an English teacher and teacher-adviser at Paly, says “the learning process that students go through when they are caught [cheating] can be incredibly powerful.” As a TA, Hinton has seen students who have cheated write impres-

sive college essays describing how the experience affected them, but he still takes cheating very seriously. “If someone cheats in my class, they are not going to get an A; if they cheat on a five-point quiz, and they have a 94 percent at the end of the semester, they’ll get a B,” Hinton said. “I can empathize, I can understand the reasons for some of the cheating that happens, however, I can’t sympathize.” As a student, I too can understand the reasons for some of the cheating that happens. Between school, sports, extracurriculars and, it can be difficult to find time to study or do homework. Cheating can be a coping mechanism for stressedout, unprepared students, but that’s not the case for the author of “Why I Cheat.” “I am rarely stressed,” the author writes. “My parents encourage me in the right ways and do not pressure me to succeed. But I still cheat, not because I need to but because I can.” It’s easy to reply to this with a simple “just because you can doesn’t mean you should,” but as I said, I’m not much of an idealist. I know it is immoral to cheat. I know cheating might hurt me in the long run. I know cheating could get me in trouble with the administration. Yet these are not the reasons that I don’t cheat. I don’t cheat because I am proud. I don’t cheat because I don’t want anyone to be able to downplay my accomplishments. When I am older, I won’t remember highschool for the nights I spent studying or doing homework, but I will remember that I earned my grades, made good friends, and had fun; that is all that matters. v

I don’t cheat because I am proud. I don’t cheat because I don’t want anyone to be able to downplay my accomplishments.

Organic panic What organic farms aren’t telling you Text by KATY ABBOTT Art by DIANA CONNOLLY Photography by CHARU SRIVASTAVA


uying apples is simple, right? When my mother sends me down to Whole Foods to pick up some fruit to go with dinner, I make a beeline right to the produce, skipping around shopping carts and sidestepping old ladies doing their weekly grocery run. I walk briskly past piles and piles of bananas, an expansive display of avocados, and every variety of pear imaginable. Finally, I come face to face with the apples — only to realize that I have absolutely no idea what any of these signs and labels pointing to them mean. There are apples from Washington, Oregon, and everywhere else imaginable — there are at least eleven different varieties. Some of them are organic; others are not, and they all seem like perfectly good options. What do I do? I can’t take the agony of decision-making. I might have a meltdown right next to the avocados! I’ll just copy the woman next to me and throw a bag of organic Oregon apples into my cart. It’s all the same to me. And after all, organic is always better, right?

As it turns out, no. Organic is not always better. The organic movement has undergone a number of changes since its initial incarnation as an alternative to big business farming. However, many of these changes have begun to lead towards a more industrialized version of organic farming that is not too different from the factory farm system that it tries to rebel against. While the demand for organic has grown in recent years, the ideals it once adopted have often been forgotten as farmers struggle to keep up with growing demand and competition. The concept of organic farming first began to crop up in the early 1900s; the phrase itself was coined by Lord Northbourne, an agriculturalist, in 1939, who defined it as a balanced and ecologically complete system. It was intended to be an alternative to the environmentally harmful nature of industrial farming. When Gene Kahn, now a vice president at General Mills, helped to reinvent the organic movement back in 1971, his goal was to revolutionize the entire farming system. But in

recent years, organic farming has begun to imitate its opponent, coming to resemble what was meant to be its antithesis, according to Christie Wilcox, a blogger for Scientific American, and Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma, and others. Wilcox points out that organic pesticides are still used on organic farms, and that, nutritionally speaking, organic foods are not significantly healthier than their non-organic counterparts. Also, economic pressures have forced what were once small family farms to expand. After all, the issue with small farms is that the cost of planting can be greater than the profit, depending on the farm’s business model. The smaller the crop planted, the more expensive each seed is. It is basic economics: buying seeds in bulk is cheaper than buying individually. This means that organic food is more expensive, and that’s why the market for locally grown food is smaller: people do not always have the money to afford it. A smaller clientele is less stable than a large customer base, so in order to make more money, the farm has to expand, churning february 2012


[ PERSPECTIVES ] out more and more of its product, according to Pollan. Thus the small, local, organic farm gets bigger. Also, as organic farming becomes more popular in mainstream America, demand shoots upward. In order to supply that demand, bigger organic farming operations spring up. It isn’t easy to maintain the same level of scrupulous, low-key alternative growing on a larger scale. Now that organic farming has been thrust onto center stage, the very principles that put it there in the first place have begun to fade away. Organic food, as defined by the United States Department of Agriculture, simply means food grown without the use of synthetic pesticides or chemicals. There are different labeling requirements; for example,

CERTIFIED ORGANIC Sugar cane is one of the many kinds of produce that has exploited labeling laws.


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in order to be labeled ‘certified organic’ a product must contain 95% of what the USDA considers organic ingredients. But even these standards aren’t strict enough: some of the ‘organic’ pesticides, which are made from substances occurring naturally in plants, are just as problematic and hazardous as man-made chemicals. Look at rotenone. It is a natural pesticide used widely in organic circles that was deemed by the USDA to be an acceptable alternative to the synthetic pesticides used on factory farms. In 2000, scientists at Emory University in Atlanta discovered that rotenone caused symptoms in rats similar to Parkinson’s disease, and was toxic to humans. In 2005 it was banned by the USDA, but in 2010 rotenone was reapproved, despite its hazardous nature. Determining the authenticity of some companies’ organic claims is troublesome. Horizon, a self-proclaimed “pioneer in organic dairy,” ultra-pasteurizes its milk to make it withstand longer shipping periods, even though ultra-pasteurized milk has fewer beneficial organisms than plain pasteurized milk. Interestingly enough, Horizon gets most of its dairy from feedlot cows eating ‘organic’ grain, in a setup that is remarkably similar to the traditional factory farm, according to Pollan. Aurora Dairy, which supplies milk to Costco and Safeway, has been accused of the exact same thing — but that has not stopped it from calling itself organic. One might assume that a big supplier like General Mills or Kraft would have little to no relation to the organic food industry. But General Mills owns Cascadian Farms, one of the early organic farms, and Kraft is responsible for Back to Nature, a brand popular for its organic granola, according to Philip Howard, an assistant professor at Michigan State University. Are organic farms free of factory farm influence? It isn’t always the case. Although organic farming was once revolutionary, by now it has become just another popular trend. Farms that take advantage of its popularity do not always make their priorities clear to the consumer,

in essence leading them on. There is a pervasive myth in society that organic is always better. Many Palo Alto High School students frequent Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s to get their daily fix of samples and frozen entrees. And they are buying products that can often be misleading, undermining the original dream of organic farming according to Kahn and others: to change and revolutionize the food system. Sophomore Julianne Le has always liked organic food. “It’s delicious and good for you,” Le says. But she disapproves of the direction in which some farmers are going. Senior Mason Wu feels similarly, supporting the idealistic goals of organic farming but at the same time voicing concerns about organic farming’s growing resemblance to factory farming. “I think the government should subsidize organic farming instead of large agriculture corporations,” Wu says. “[But] regulations need to be tighter and the USDA needs more funding, which some people absurdly oppose.” It all comes down to the consumer. We decide what to eat. And our decision, however inconsequential it may seem, has the potential to change the entire food system currently in place. It’s as simple as reading food labels more carefully to learn what terms like “ultra-pasteurized” really mean, and paying more attention to details instead of just relying on other people’s judgment. It’s educating your friends and family, or writing a letter of complaint to Horizon or staging a massive protest in the produce section of your local grocery store — although the last one might not worth the legal hassle. Whatever it is, consumers have a remarkable influence over their food supply, if only they choose to harness it. As for the apple situation that so confounded me at Whole Foods? I gave up and went home, deciding it would be easier to educate myself rather than try to make snap decisions. Besides, I didn’t want strangers to see me cry in front of the avocados. v

It all comes down to the consumer. We decide what to eat.

Tweet the Pain Away The success of the SOPA/ PIPA protests proves our potential as a political driving force Text by EVELYN WANG Art by DIANA CONNOLLY


n Jan. 18, 2012, the Internet went berserk. The life and party of the world wide web flickered out. A torrent of black bars descended upon the web’s most recognizable icons. Social media sites went all atwitter with dismay as Wikipedia scribbled itself out, withholding its mammoth tumbler of knowledge from the caterwauling and adoring public. Yes, for an agonizing 24 hours, we were deprived of such inalienable human rights as being able to browse articles on Old Spice (disambiguation) and the discography of Courtney Stodden. And then, a mere two days later, the Texan legislator who had originally proposed the Stop Online Piracy Act withdrew the bill. That same day, the Protect

IP Address Act was postponed indefinitely. We had won. And in doing so we had proved that we the people still have some significant leverage over the government. Through our combined efforts, we had managed to change the number of opposing Congressmen and Congresswomen from 31 to 101 in a mere 24 hours. And all it had taken was 115,000 websites (many of them non-profit, many of them independent webcomics and blogs) censoring themselves for a day. No bloodshed; no pepperspraying of innocents; no taking to the bruise-drenched, tear-splattered streets with a volley of impassioned chants. Just a brief peek into a future of silence, and Congress backed off. Excuse me, but what? We prove that we have this power to completely change the minds of policymakers peacefully and promptly, and what the hell do we use it for? Not for good, not even for well-intentioned evil. No, what we used it for was to ensure that we would always have access to our daily dose of LOLCATS, that we would forevermore be able to keep up with the Kardashians on vidxden and videoweed (RIP Megavideo), that we would, for the foreseeable future, have the freedom to distort like three lines of “Friday” and call it “Black Metal Parody.” Meanwhile, the global Occupy

movement is running at four months, the Arab Spring revolutions are over a year old, gay marriage is still an issue, just to name a few. If we are capable of stirring up a storm big enough to keep our 24/7 free entertainment central, why can’t we do it for much more important matters? Of course, it’s not that simple. SOPA and PIPA pertained only to Americans and transcended the political/religious/ personal differences that plague such long-running issues as gay marriage and abortion, making the debate essentially about country-specific constitutionality. The protests against SOPA and PIPA were then directly and explicitly against one tangible issue, as opposed to the more vague and conceptual protests of the Occupy movement. Clearly, these factors greatly contributed to the success of the SOPA and PIPA protests and there are many obstacles preventing other revolts from gaining as much momentum. Nevertheless, the aftermath of the SOPA and PIPA protests proved the sheer capability of people to reverse our government’s decisions with a single day of concentrated effort. Even if there are more factors at play than just an unrelenting, unified public agenda, if we applied the mindset that we used to defeat SOPA and PIPA, we could accomplish so much more. v february 2012


Thank you to all who contributed to Verde magazine in any form! A special thanks to those who responded to the donation request from the PTSA at the beginning of the year!



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Keeping the fun in fungi Santa Cruz Fungus Fair offers an exotic mushroom experience Text and Photography by EMILY HAIN


hin white gills. An ivory stem with a skirtlike veil. A metallic olive green cap. A pungent chlorine smell.

Gently rotating the beautiful mushroom in his fingers, Phil Carpenter, cocoordinator of the 38th Annual Fungus Fair, identifies the fungus as amanita phalloides, the most deadly poisonous mushroom in the world. Despite a disappointing lack of rain this season, Carpenter, as well as many other persistent mushroom enthusiasts, trudged on through the woods, mushroom brushes in hand, in the week prior to this year’s Fungus Fair held in Santa Cruz in late January. Through the Northern California forests,

they eagerly searched for fragile fungus hidden beneath the duff in preparation for the Fair. Presented by the Fungus Federation of Santa Cruz, the three-day fair was located in the Santa Cruz Louden Nelson Community Center and attended by more than 3,000 visitors. The Fungus Fair provides an extensive display of fungi picked in the Santa Cruz area. Local fungi can range in appearance from a tiny mushroom resembling a hummingbird’s nest, to a giant white puffball the size of a small pumpkin. In the center of the main room is a grand display with real towering pine trees surrounded by magnificent mushrooms spread out upon soft dirt and pine needles. A crowded nearby hallway contains colorful mushroom artwork, lecture areas, vendors and a door leading to a kids’ room. Curious visitors bustle about, admiring the assortment of unusual mushrooms, sampling exotic fungus delicacies such as candy cap cookies and Porcini soup and

MUSHROOM MANIA Marty Newman and his wife parade around the kids’ room during the Fair wearing bright fungus accessories. They assist with the fungus crafts and teach the visitors about the wonderful world of mushrooms. february 2012



LOCAL ARTWORK Vibrant artwork decorates the wall of the hallways, bringing a splash of color to the plain white walls. perusing one-of-a-kind mushroom trinkets. One aspect of the Fair which many adults are likely to overlook, yet that immediately attracts the attention of their children, is the kids’ room. At the far end of the building, this room is full of marvelous mushroom activities from face painting to fungus tie-dying. Marty Newman, otherwise known as Marty Muscaria, named after the red-withwhite spots aminita muscaria mushroom, and his wife have been helping out in the kids’ area for about five years. Dressed up in a bright red mushroom hat, sunglasses and socks, Newman proudly parades around the room, chatting with the kids and other participants. “I love the fair,” Newman says. “It really brings them [mushrooms] to life and


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VIVID EXHIBITS Fungus Fair co-coordinator Phil Carpenter replenishes the exhibits with fresh mushrooms.

I can see the joy in people, in their faces, especially the children.” His fascination for fungus grew after attending the fair one year, inspiring him to become a member of the Fungus Federation. “Santa Cruz is a great place not only to find mushrooms, but also because we have a lot of resources and people who know a lot about mushrooms,” Newman says. “We live out in the woods … [which is] a good habitat for mushrooms, in the leaves and pine needles, which is called the duff.” Newman thoroughly enjoys mushroom hunting and believes that finding the mushrooms oneself makes them taste even better. The kids’ room displays simple educational facts including an easy-to-understand display showing which mushrooms

are edible and which are dangerous. “If you find a mushroom that is edible … then you have to learn something about them so you don’t accidentally poison yourself,” Newman says. From t-shirts printed with golden morels and mushroom scarves, to handblown glass pendants with miniscule fungi inside, numerous local vendors sell their vibrant mushroom art at the Fair. Artist Jeff Hinkle cheerfully sits behind a small table covered with his vivid, handmade glass pendents and gives a friendly greeting to the admirers of his work. Hinkle has been selling mushroom pendants at the Fungus Fair for about six years. “I was inspired by a member of the Fungus Federation … she saw me at a festival and noticed these cool little mushroom pendants I make and was like, ‘You

really have got to come and bring these to the Fungus Fair; they’re perfect for the Fungus Fair,” Hinkle says. Co-coordinator Phil Carpenter has been attending the Fungus Fair since 1978. In that year, he took a mushroom identification class given by local fungus authority and author of multiple mushroom books, David Arora. Arora offered Carpenter entrance into the Fair free of charge if he would help set it up. Carpenter’s curiosity and desire to expand his knowledge led him to not only help in the 1978 fair, but also every Fungus Fair since then. “It is a busy time for me,” Carpenter says. Finding the venue, setting up the vendors and lectures and addressing the media are just a few of Carpenter’s responsibilities. “I definitely enjoy interacting with the public to address their questions, to share my passion for wild mushrooms

and educating them through private discussions or formal classes and lectures,” Carpenter says. Mushroom identification experts are available to assist visitors in determining the species of mushrooms they have

“I love the fair. It really brings them [mushrooms] to life.” — mushroom enthusiast


found, a job that intrigues Carpenter. “I enjoy the process of identifying the mushrooms that people bring in and seeing their excitement to know that what they have is a wonderful food; or, in contrast, to see their

disappointment to realize that all those mushrooms on their property would make them sick if they ate them,” Carpenter says. According to Carpenter, the Fungus Fair has grown dramatically over the years with a continual rise in attendees, additional lectures, food vendors and classes. Several vendors also sell a wide assortment of intriguing cultivated mushrooms as well as fungus-growing kits. Debbie Johnson, another long-time mushroom enthusiast and Fungus Fair organizer, experienced a more gradual appreciation for mushrooms than did Carpenter. According to Johnson, the Fair made an impression on her upon attending for the first time, but her initial fascination for mushrooms did not begin until her friends showed her their secret mushroom hunting spots around Northern California, hooking her instantly. “It was the beginning of a wonderful adventure with mushrooms and a great bunch of people as well,” Johnson says. Similar to Carpenter, Johnson helps out setting up and taking down the Fair, arranging the vendors, assisting at the membership table and replacing the old, foul-smelling mushrooms with fresh ones. “The display is truly dynamic and interactive, growing as attendees bring in mushrooms for identification,” Johnson says. “Many are added to the display to increase the species diversity and number.” One of Johnson’s favorite activities at the fair is teaching kids how to tie-dye using mushrooms. Johnson says the fair provides a great opportunity for the community. “[The purpose of the Fair is] to educate the public about the beauty and variety of species in our area, and about the essential function of fungi in the ecosystem,” Johnson says. “And to keep the fun in fungi.” v

FUNGUS An extensive display of fascinating fungus such as this aminita are displayed throughout the 38th Annual Fungus Fair. The Fair is located in the Santa Cruz Louden Nelson Community Center in late January. february 2012



Developing communities get the green light Ana Sidana’s One Million Lights takes on the danger of kerosene Text and Art by NOAM SHEMTOV



One variety of lantern distributed by One Million Lights is shown lit in Anna Sidana’s living room.

amily X lives a life prototypical to Rajasthan families in India, in a shack with no running water or electricity, but where they spend little of their time, instead working on a farm miles from their home. The family has two children, who spend their mornings at the local school, and their afternoons working on a farm with their family. When the children return home and begin their schoolwork, the sun is setting. The hypothetical family’s child would usually, at this point light a kerosene lamp with expensive oil, risk fire hazard, breathe in toxic gases and damage the environment, but this family is different. What sets Family X apart is their involvement in One Million Lights, which distributes solar-powered lanterns to communities in need. Anna Sidana, the founder of this non-profit organization and a Palo Alro High School mother, has lead the organization towards recognition both locally and around the globe. A former high-tech executive, Sidana claims to have fallen into her current line of work by accident. On a coincidental visit to a school that her father had founded in Rajasthan, India, a class of school children inspired Sidana. “They [the children at the school] were excited and happy and had the same


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aspirations and dreams as everybody else, and without risk of hazard. Sidana’s daughter, and Paly sophobut their conditions were very rural, and they had no way to study at night,” Sidana more Nikki Freyermuth has been insays of the condition that planted the seed volved in several overseas projects with in Sidana’s head for what is now a global her mother’s organization. “After having grown up in such a organization with current projects in Asia, privileged neighborhood, where we have Africa and South America. The aim of One Million Lights, ac- more resources conducive to learning cording to Sidana, is to simply provide than most in the first world, it’s given light that is both safe and energy effi- me a lot of perspective to see the condicient to communities in need, and to al- tions in the places where my mom works” low these lights to act as organic catalysts Freyermuth says. The organization’s focus on education manifests for change.   Students itself in two ways, first at a Rajasthan school through distribution of originally inspired Silights to students in rudana to start the orgaral community schools, nization. As a result, and second through an one of few specified educational program goals of One Million that the project adminLights is to encourage isters to schools in the growth in education Bay Area. in developing coun— ANA SIDANA, One Million Lights Sidana spoke retries. cently at some of Paly’s “The RajastAP Environmental han children were schooled in the morning, and proceeded Science classes, and mentions the enimmediately to working as farm hands rollment of several other schools in the throughout the day,” Sidana says. “When program. One Million Lights will be fanight came, and it was time to study, the cilitating seminars at these local schools children had no choice but to read by that encompass the general points of its kerosene lamp.” One Million Lights, by initiative, among these promoting awaredistributing flameless lights, could allow ness of the international environmental, these Rajasthan children to study cheaply social and economic situation. “I really

“They had the same dreams as anyone else.”

enjoyed the visits to Paly’s AP Environmental Science classes, the [school] visits have proven to be a great way to spread awareness about this little-discussed but very global issue to people who care” Sidana says, . Sidana also expressed excitement for an upcoming talk in front of Duveneck Elementary students. “By using kerosene, these communities are not only exposing themselves to toxic fumes, but they are exposing themselves to imminent danger from fires,” she says. By implementing solar-powered lights, One Million Lights hopes to eliminate that risk. In addition, the lights provided by One Million Lights are far more economical than the alternatives available to such rural communities. The encouraged changes in community life are inevitable with the distribution of lights, so no indoctrination of community members and no imposition of beliefs or practices is necessary in Sidana’s development initiative. The lights are provided and manufactured by several different companies, and are distributed as portable, individual units to their destination communities. This methodology eliminates the need for infrastructural or logistical concerns in an organization that employs only five to six people, and allows for utility on a personal level within the community. One Million Lights is a strictly non-profit organization and is the beneficiary of a few corporate sponsors, namely Energizer Battery Company. “We [One Million Lights] are always looking for help”, Sidana says. The orga-

nization benefits from the help of only 10 to 20 volunteers in the field. Since the organization’s beginning, it has successfully distributed 25,500 lights to communities in Africa, Asia and South America, with hopes to eventually reach one million lights. According to Sidana, One Million Lights implements a semi-selective methodology when deciding which communities to work with. “We only ever work with communities whose needs or desires can be fairly satisfied, and never with communities torn by war”, Sidana says. This philosophy eliminates the risk of conflict caused by the distribution of solar lights and ensures the safety and longevity of the projects facilitated by One Million Lights. Through the distribution of solarpowered lanterns, One Million Lights works to inspire organic change in rural communities by bettering the economic, environmental and educational environments available to their inhabitants. As a result of these projects’ simple and economical nature, One Million Lights also inspires

longevity in community projects. When asked about the goals of her organization, Ana Sidana’s eyes light up. “To simply see the lights being used would be a considerable achievement for the organization, because if they are [being used], change will come of its own accord,” Sidana says. According to Sidana’s daughter, working with One Million Lights has been a formative and enriching experience. Nikki Freyermuth says, “It is a marriage of modesty and ambition that fuels the engine of One Million Lights and makes it a truly unique project. Freyermuth enjoys seeing her mom at work “she’s so passionate about what she does, she works hard for it, but it definitely gives her purpose”. “Observing its [One Million Lights’] development and implementation has changed lives beyond those in the communities where it works,” Freyermuth says on her experience with the organization. v

A FAMILY THING Anna Sidana and daughter, Nikki Freyermuth show off One Million Lights signs depicting children from Communities. Sidana’s two children often accompany her on projects overseas. “It’s always a great opportunity to see more of the world and always an eye-opening experience,” Freyermuth says. february 2012



Armageddon it straight? Over the years, the end of the world has been predicted countless times Text by ALLEN WU Art by DIANA CONNOLLY, TIN NGUYEN, HOLLIE KOOL


he future is stressful. Grades, college, work, bills, social engagements; it’s a wonder that anyone can rest with so much to worry about. Fortunately, you can relax — none of that is going to matter in less than a year, if certain sources are to be believed. It is fairly clear that the majority of society is not concerned with the end of days; if people did care, they would attend religious services more frequently and litter less often. Over the course of history, individuals and religions have foretold doom so often that collectively they are taken no more seriously than the boy who cries wolf. Nowadays the end of the world is mainstream — thanks to the media, just about everyone in the industrialized world has been exposed to the doomsday prophecy slated for 2012. Most people know a couple of details: that the specific date for the supposed apocalypse is Dec. 21 and that this particular legend is tied to the Mayan civilization. Few bother to learn more about the significance of this day because the majority of people simply do not believe in


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it. The sensationalized Dec. 21 is treated not so much as a time of reckoning to be feared, but a curiosity and a joke. Television and the Internet, the two mediums primarily responsible for popularizing the rumor, have inaccurately claimed that the Mayans predicted that the world would end this year, and the truth was further distorted as it circulated. It seems that the idea of the prophesied day of reckoning has become so totally mundane that it has been integrated into the media. The impending apocalypse’s most prominent foray into the entertainment industry is the aptly-titled movie “2012”, and has also been referenced in various songs, including Britney Spears’ single, “Till the World Ends”. Compared to the countless creative interpretations about what fateful event will happen on Dec. 21 to cause the Earth’s ruin, the truth behind the Mayan calendar’s prediction is much less dramatic. “Basically, the Mayans planned different eras that lasted for certain periods of time,” Emily Brown, a senior at Palo Alto High School who visited the Mayan ruins recently, says. “The last era ends by tin nguyen

in 2012. That doesn’t mean we’re all going to die, because it’s understandable that the Mayans couldn’t keep planning eras for an infinite number of years.” Most Mesoamericans generally used a cyclical calendar system that repeated every 52 years. However, to designate dates more than 52 years apart, they used the Long Count calendar. The Long Count identified dates by measuring the number of days since a fixed starting point, agreed upon by scholars as Aug. 11, 3114 B.C.E. The largest interval used within this system is the b’ak’tun, equal to 144,000 days, or roughly 394.3 years. According to the Popul Vuh, a sacred Mayan book, we are living in the “fourth world,” made after the gods’ first three creations failed. According to the text, the current cycle began at the beginning of the fourteenth b’ak’tun. The next date to mark the end of another cycle of b’ak’tuns is Dec. 21, 2012. Another popular theory is the concept of a massive meteor striking the planet and obliterating life through either the initial impact or the havoc the alien object would wreak on the climate. Interestingly, this idea seems to have overlapped with the Mayan calendar theory, through either confusion or sheer coincidence; some people have heard of a supposed planet, Nibiru, allegedly pre-

by diana connolly and hollie kool

dicted to collide with our world sometime in 2012. NASA has debunked this myth, stating that scientists have discovered no celestial body headed toward us this year or anytime in the foreseeable future. Incidentally, one of the larger asteroids relatively close to Earth passed by on Jan. 31, 2012 — “relatively” in this context meaning 70 times the distance to the moon. Many religions offer their own predictions of how the world will end. Of note is the Christian theology’s Judgment Day, defined differently by the different sects of believers, but essentially the time when the pious will be rewarded with eternal bliss and sinners are punished. The Islamic interpretation of the Qiyamah, or “End Time” is similar, anticipating that the destruction of Earth and all life, followed by the creation of a new world and the resurrection of mankind, and ultimately the partition between those bound for heaven and those bound for hell. The Ragnarok is the apocalypse as

foretold by Norse mythology; after a great battle, many gods will be killed and the world will be submerged entirely underwater. Afterward, a new world will resurface and two human survivors will repopulate the planet. Each of these predictions, from the renegade planet to the death to the death of Thor is relatively well-known and respected, if not believed. Comparatively, there have been countless prophecies made by individuals or other religions. For example, Jehovah’s Witnesses predicted the end of times in 1941. When nothing happened, they then predicted that the world would end in Aug. 1953. Many gave up their possessions and traveled to Yankee Stadium in New York to await the return of God, but they were disappointed. Their next predicted apocalypse was in 1975, and then 1984, and then an unspecified year before 2000. Recently, Ronald Weinland, leader of the Church of God Preparing for the Kingdom of God, announced that the world would end on Sept. 29, 2011. He later changed the date to May 27, 2012.

Isaac Newton predicted the end time would happen in 2060

Interestingly, Isaac Newton predicted the end time would happen in 2060, based on his interpretation of Biblical texts. It is easy to understand why the majority of society no longer takes apocalyptic visions seriously anymore, but those who do believe in the predictions often react in ways ranging from acts of extreme generosity to crimes of extreme evil. Others invest their savings into hopes of surviving “after the end”, paying huge sums of money to hide in underground bunkers. Nothing can live forever — not humanity, not the planet, and not the universe. Geoscientist James Kasting estimated that carbon dioxide will eventually make Earth’s planet uninhabitable. The scientific community generally agrees that the sun’s development will inevitably destroy the Earth, and those supporting the heat death theory speculate that ultimately the universe will no longer be able to sustain life or movement. Fortunately doomsday, whenever it comes, is quite a ways off. Kasting’s prediction is slated for some time around the year 500,000,000, and the sun’s scorching of the planet is predicted to happen circa the year 5,000,000,000. Nothing catastrophic is likely to happen for hundreds of millions of years — so there’s no reason to ignore your problems or move into a bunker just yet. v february 2012



Stutter strong Local student founds support group for stuttering teens Text and photography by ELISA REROLLE


s he sits down across from me at the Starbucks table, Mountain View High School junior Barrett Greaves seems pretty much like every other teen I’ve met: He’d just biked from his SAT prep class, the occasional “uhm” or “like” would slip into his conversation (though they decreased as he got more comfortable) he wears braces, and is currently experiencing the joys of rubber bands for his braces. And then there’s this: he stutters. While speech impediments can sometimes be debilitating and isolating, Greaves is using his as inspiration. In addition to dealing with the regular stresses of junior year, he’s creating a stuttering

support group for teens in the South Bay. Heck, he even dragged himself to an interview on a Saturday afternoon. If that’s not motivation, then what is? The idea for the support group sprung from his attendance at the National Stuttering Association annual conference in Fort Worth, Texas, for the first time last summer, where he met 870 fellow stutterers. The convention is a national event that aims to bring “people who stutter together to share information, support, and strength,” according to the NSA website. By attending workshops and meeting so many others who understood the daily struggles that come with stuttering, Greaves realized that a speech impediment shouldn’t force him to remain silent.

THE START High schooler Barrett Greaves smiles during an interview. The stutter support he created is having its first meeting Feb 28.


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Because stutterers usually can tell when they will stutter on a word before they say it, Greaves says he used to change words to avoid stuttering. “I try not to anymore because stuttering shouldn’t stop me from saying what I want,” he says. In the years before, Greaves had asked teachers not to call on him during class and to allow him to give presentations outside of class time, alone. Not anymore. Though public speaking isn’t easy, Greaves believes he’s more relaxed in class now that he doesn’t worry about fellow classmates’ reaction when he is called on. “Until I went to the conference, in class I would never ask questions,” Greaves says. “At the conference it was a big thing to not try and hide your stutter and instead to let others react how they want. It’s our job to educate people who don’t know about it.” Greaves now wants to provide the same opportunity to fellow stutterers who were unable to attend the conference. The newly founded group will meet on the fourth Tuesday of every month, starting Feb. 28 at the Palo Alto Elks Lodge (4249 El Camino Real). These meetings are open to all high schoolers who stutter and will have the same aim as the conference, but at a much more local level. “When I met hundreds of other stutterers at the conference it just made me feel more secure,” Greaves says. PAUSD speech language patholo-

gist Peggy Syvertson, a stutterer who also struggled during her high school years, believes the support group will help reduce the feeling of isolation stutterers often experience. “I think that I would have liked that, especially in high school, when I felt I was the only one in the whole world who stuttered because I was the only that I knew who did,” she says. “Knowing that there are other people that are going through the same thing you are, any kind of a support group, can be very positive.” Greaves keeps in contact with many of the teenagers he met this summer at the conference, but this support group will allow friendships to form closer to home. “The conference is only every year, and that’s a long time in between [meetings],” he says. The meetings will start out low-key, mostly hanging out and providing opportunities for interactions. Greaves says talking with others who stutter is less stressful. “You know that they’ll understand you more than a random person might,” he says But it can also be a little awkward if both parties stutter. “You’re trying to not accidently interrupt each other,” Greaves says. “You always wonder, ‘Are they done talking or they just stuck?’” Out of 307 million Americans, 3 million stutter, according to the Stuttering Foundation, the “largest nonprofit organization in the world working toward the prevention and improved treatment of stuttering,” according to the organization’s website. As defined by them, stuttering is the disruption of the flow of speech. Stutterers often feel isolated because they are unable to find others like them. “I know of another person at my school who stutters. Only one,” Greaves says. “Not many people stutter, and so people who haven’t had the opportunity to meet others like themselves often felt kind of alienated because no one is like them.” Not only are they generally surrounded solely by non-stutterers, but the fear of people’s reactions upon learning of their speech impediment often leads to self-isolation.

“They [stutterers] fear the judgment around stuttering,” Fair Meadow Elementary’s speech language pathologist Christina McIver says. “People don’t know that they’re stutterers until they actually stutter, so in avoiding actual speech, you then avoid the stutter, and letting everyone see you as a stutterer.” Negative reactions can be very debilitating to the confidence of stutterers. “I was very scared in new environments; I wouldn’t put myself in them many times,” Syvertson says. “It limited my job choices. A lot of the job choices that I made as a young adult, because I didn’t get speech therapy until I was in my 30s, were choices where I wouldn’t have to interact or be on the phone because I happen to stutter a lot when I’m on the phone. The job choices were very limited to me because I didn’t want to talk to people.” Strangers’ reactions can be surprisingly cruel. Palo Alto High School senior Alex Girard remembers a time when he received a negative reaction. “I was in an auditorium and there was some speaker presenting,” Girard say. “There were a lot of people in the auditorium, and I raised my hand. As I asked my question, I did stutter, and someone in the audience laughed really loudly.” Girard says he didn’t take it too personally, knowing that it was only the response of an ignorant person. But at his old private middle school, he was teased

and called names. “People would make fun of me,” Girard says. “They’d just be like, ‘Why is that kid talking so weirdly?’ They’d call me Speech Impediment. I didn’t handle it well, but the teachers didn’t really do anything about it, and that’s what pissed me off.” Girard says he wishes the teachers had stepped in and educate his classmates not to make fun of him because he was different. Girard has found that there is a lot less cruel judging in high school, and has since developed a strong opinion on those who judge him solely based on his stutter. “In some situations I feel like it [his stutter] will impede like job interviews and trying to initially form a relationship with people might be difficult in some situations,” Girard says. “But, the way I see it, if they care that I stutter I don’t want to be their friend because their values won’t be the same as mine, and I don’t really care what they think.” Both Greaves and Girard are outgoing and confident, not letting their stutter keep them from speaking, but it wasn’t always like that for Greaves. Since the beginning of this school year, Greaves has found that the overall reaction of fellow classmates to his stuttering has been overwhelmingly positive. “I’ve learned that I care about my stuttering more than others do,” Greaves says. v

TALK Palo Alto High School senior Alex Girard says he used to get teased about his stutter in middle school, but high schoolers don’t. february 2012



When food becomes the enemy

Students struggle with the daily dangers that come with food allergies Text by SHARON TSENG Art by DIANA CONNOLLY and HANAKO GALLAGHER


fter completing three laps around the track, Palo Alto High School sophomore Joyce Chang’s stomach began to hurt. As she walked the last lap of the mile, the students in her class finished the mile and began to leave. This preliminary warning rapidly mounted into one of the most serious allergic reactions Chang had ever experienced. “My stomach stopped hurting but my throat started tightening and I had trouble breathing,” Chang says. “I was kind of wheezing and I was worried because everyone had already left and I thought I would die or something.” Chang walked to the nurse’s office, at which time she says she could barely talk because of her trouble breathing. The nurse then helped Chang use her EpiPen, an epinephrine injection used to treat allergic reactions. Chang had never used her EpiPen before but it was kept in the nurse’s office because of her nut and seafood allergy. “I didn’t even know what the needle thing looked like until that day,” Chang says. “I was really scared at first because I thought it was a four-inch needle.”

However, Chang says, the injection did not hurt and afterward, her throat loosened up, but she was still wheezing. The nurse called 911, a requirement when using an EpiPen. The paramedics arrived, and after giving her Albuterol, medication used for asthma to stop her wheezing, they took Chang from school in an ambulance. Chang traces this frightening episode to one innocent bite of her friend’s pesto at lunch which led to an allergic reaction to the nuts in the pesto a few weeks prior. Her mouth began to itch, but she blew it off because she had not had a serious reaction recently. “I haven’t had to call 911 in a really long time,” Chang says. “The last time I had to call 911 was fourth grade.” While everyone can recall tables during elementary school labeled with the sign, “Nut-Free Zone,” the need for students to be aware and help watch out for students with food allergies has decreased as students become older and more proactive in caring for themselves. Nevertheless, the number of students with food allergies are on the rise. According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, in 2007, about three million children under the age of 18 reported having a digestive or — sophomore JOYCE CHANG food allergy in the

“I was really scared at first because I thought it was a four-inch needle.” 46

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previous months. In addition, more than 3 percent of adults reported having one or more food allergies. From 1999 to 2008, the number of cases of anaphylaxis, a term for any life-threatening allergic reaction that appears rapidly, from foods increased from 21,000 to 51,000 per year, according to the AAAAI. “Certainly, there has been a big increase in students with allergies or the potential to have an anaphylactic reaction [in Palo Alto Unified School District],” PAUSD District Nurse Linda Lenoir says. Especially in schools, with their chaotic world of hidden perils, more and more students must learn to navigate around their allergies. Discovery Chang was born with a nut allergy and developed a seafood allergy a few years later. When she was around five years old, her throat would tighten so she couldn’t breathe when she ingested any nuts and her parents would have to call 911. Sometimes, her arms and legs would also break out into hives. As she grew older, however, Chang’s allergies became less serious. “My mom let me try a few things sometimes and sometimes I would be able to eat it fine and other times I would just have to eat some medicine afterwards because my mouth would start to get itchy,” Chang says. After fourth grade, her symptoms have become less severe, like many other

people who eventually outgrow their allergies. If she eats nuts or seafood, her mouth becomes itchy and her stomach hurts, but these usually disappear without escalating into a serious episode. Her diminished reaction caused Chang to become more complacent over the years. “I wasn’t that cautious about nuts and seafood,” Chang admits. Many more Paly students also have similar food allergies. Junior Heather Bowman was born allergic to gluten, a protein composite found in wheat and other grains like barely and rye. Bowman’s parents discovered that she was allergic to gluten as a baby through a medical test where she was fed one staple food at a time to see which provoked a reaction. Chang underwent a similar test to discover her allergy to nuts. According to San Mateo Medical Center pediatrician Sylvia Espinoza, the kind of test a person takes to determine if he has a food allergy, including blood tests, skin tests, and elimination diets, varies depending on how serious his symptoms are. Most people are born with genetic predispositions to allergies, she says. They then develop these food allergies in the first two years of their life. “Some food allergies can be outgrown with time, while others may last a lifetime,” Espinoza says. Avoiding the Dangers Chang, because she has only a mild allergy to nuts and seafood, usually eats most foods without worrying, even if it

has a label saying, “may contain nuts” or “processed in a factory that contains nuts.” For Bowman, gluten does not evoke an immediate or critical reaction; instead, it harms her in the long term. “It’s more like a stomach problem where the little villi [in your stomach] get burned off so you can’t absorb nutrients,” she says. Because of the less-than-urgent results of Bowman and Chang’s food allergies, they usually do not worry too much about consuming small quantities of their trigger foods. On the other hand, junior Julian Hornik must be extremely careful not to eat milk or eggs, which make his throat close up. “I can usually tell if I’m allergic within a few seconds of tasting it, so my allergies are pretty serious,” Hornik says. “But because they are so sensitive, I have the advantage of being able to react quickly and stop eating whatever it is that caused the reaction.” Bowman says because she has been allergic to gluten all her life, she is used to having to check and almost never consumes gluten accidently. Hornik occasionally consumes foods with eggs or milk, even though he tries to always check. “I usually slip up once a year, usually with something that claims to be vegan, and then isn’t entirely so,” Hornik says. Besides the obvious gluten foods like pastries, Bowman must also be extra cautious of candy and sauces because these foods usually contain strange artificial flavorings that use gluten. Hornik also lists

sweet tarts and gummy candies as surprising foods that include egg. The symptoms of a food allergy vary from mild, which most people exhibit, to severe. Mild symptoms include hives, red or swollen skin, itchy, water, or swollen eyes, runny nose, and sneezing. Severe symptoms are known as anaphylaxis. This can include swelling of throat, coughing, trouble breathing or wheezing, throwing up, diarrhea, feeling dizzy, passing out, and death. “Most allergic reactions happen within five minutes to an hour after eating or touching the food,” Espinoza says. On a district level, many additional precautions are already in effect. Students with food allergies are required to fill out the Anaphylaxis Reaction Protocol form, which is kept in the school health office, along with medication, usually consisting of an EpiPen, antihistomines like Benadryl, and more recently, an inhaler. Most students also carry extra medication with them. Every year, the health forms are reviewed and the newest research and ideas regarding food allergies are incorporated into existing guidelines. Teachers and other school staff, including secretaries, are trained multiple times a year in what Lenoir describes as “hands-on training,” including instruction on how to properly use an EpiPen, symptoms to look out for, and other protocol. “This year we are working with Palo Alto Medical Foundation to possible revise our [emergency reaction plan] form,” february 2011


[ FEATURES ] Lenoir says. The district continues to improve on its current health practices. “You try to do all the preventative things you can but... you need to be prepared,” Lenoir says. “That’s why we do all this training.” Can I Eat This? Bowman struggled with a lack of gluten-free foods from her childhood, mostly because people were not as aware of gluten allergies as they are now. When she went to restaurants, the waiters would be confused when asked if a dish was gluten-free. The foods available in the supermarket were no better. “It used to be that there was practically nothing available,” Bowman says. “The [gluten-free] bread was really super hard... so the bread that I had was rock hard and really dry and crumbly.” Bowman and her two sisters, both also allergic to gluten, used to attend a gluten-free fair where the parents attended lectures to learn more about gluten allergies and the kids could wander around and eat all sorts of gluten-free foods. “That’s where I had my first gummy bears, gummy worms, cookies, and all that stuff,” Bowman says. Bowman attributes the general public’s current knowledge of major food allergies, such as gluten, in part to the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004. This act requires manufacturers to clearly identify on their food labels if the food contains ingredients from any of the eight major allergenic


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“The most difficult part of having an allergy is other people’s concern for you.” — junior JULIAN HORNIK food groups: milk, eggs, fish, Crustacean shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, or soybeans. These eight food groups make up over 90 percent of all food allergies. “There are definitely more glutenfree foods available now than there were in the past,” Bowman says. “Also, a lot more products are labeled as gluten-free than… in the past.” Usually, higher-end supermarkets, such as Whole Foods, have a wide selection of allergen-free foods. However, most supermarkets now offer foods free of common allergens, including Safeway, which has a small gluten-free section. Restaurants now are more knowledgeable. Bowman says chefs in the back, if not waiters, are usually accommodating. A variety of restaurants and bakeries have emerged in recent years that cater specifically to those with food allergies or offer allergen-free foods. Some restaurants also specify in their menu foods with common food allergens. Family Life with Allergies At home, these students and their families must also overcome the obstacle of cooking foods safe and delicious for everyone in the family. Chang’s brother, like Bowman’s sisters, is also allergic to nuts and seafood. All say that their families usually are fine eating all allergen-free foods. Occasionally, their other family members eat foods that these students cannot eat but their family makes sure to keep those foods separate. “[My family and I] eat the same exact things because it’s super easy to just make something gluten-

free and usually you can get it to taste just about the same,” Bowman says. Chang agrees. She says that her parents conveniently do not enjoy eating nuts but sometimes carefully eat seafood away from Chang and her brother. Bowman equally gets her glutenfree foods from supermarkets and bakes foods at home. She uses gluten-free cookbooks to make food that she can eat and her whole family enjoys. Even if a recipe is not gluten-free, the flour can be easily substituted with mixtures of other flours, like rice or potato flour. “I’ve tried some recipes that are gluten-free and most of them… were just about the same as if it were wheat and its really tasty,” Bowman says. Before a variety of gluten-free foods became common in supermarkets, Bowman says she used to get cravings for many gluten foods. “I’d look at a donut and go, ‘I want that donut really bad!’” she says. “But now, there are so many options that are basically copycats of the actual food… except gluten-free.” Bowman even found gluten-free croissants on a past trip to France. Chang also wishes she could eat certain foods. “Nutella looks so good! I really want to try it and some seafood looks good,” Chang says. Unlike Chang and Bowman, who feel just watching out for foods is the most difficult part, Hornik finds others’ views of his allergy the most difficult part of having a food allergy. “The most difficult part about having an allergy is other people’s concern for you, whether it be pity because you cannot eat the delicious milk-filled food item that they can, or fear that you may fall over dead at any moment while you are eating,” Hornik says. “Usually it is hardly that extreme, and it is nice to know that people care, but the concern is hardly necessary.” v

Leaping for Leap Day Babies born on Leap Day struggle with unique challenges Text by KATY ABBOTT Art by DIANA CONNOLLY Postcards courtesy of RAENELL DAWN


very four years, Palo Alto High School sophomore Jack Shapiro celebrates another milestone in his life. He has a cake to celebrate and candles to blow out. He adds another year to his age — this year he will turn four years old — and goes to bed feeling older. Then he waits four more years for his birthday to roll around. Shapiro, like approximately four million other people in the world, was born on Feb. 29, a day that only occurs every four years. As a result, he cannot always celebrate on his actual birthday. “When it’s not a leap year, I celebrate on the 28th and stay up until midnight,” Shapiro says. “But on Leap Day, my parents let me throw a big party because of it’s a special day for me.” Every four years, the entire world enjoys one extra day, courtesy of Julius Caesar, who was responsible for switching the Romans over to a 365 day calendar. The earth takes slightly longer than 365 days to circle the sun, so in 45 BC, Caesar

added an extra day to February every four years to allow festivals to occur each year in the same season, creating the leap year. In 1582, Pope Gregory XIII decided that every year divisible by 100 and not by 400 would not be a leap year in order to more accurately account for the length of the year. Contrary to popular belief, the year is not 365 ¼ days long but is actually shorter than that by 11 minutes. Ever since, Leap Day babies, also known as leapers, have been presented with the age-old question: when should they celebrate their birthday? Leap Day activist Raenell Dawn, 51, cofounded The Honor Society of Leap Year Day Babies, an online society that celebrates leapers, with Peter Brouwer. On leap years, she celebrates her birthday on Feb. 29, keeping with the actual date. But on non-leap years? “I celebrate my birthday on both Feb. 28 and March 1 because I can,” Dawn says. According to Dawn, growing up a leaper wasn’t always easy. As a second-

grader, she was pitied by her teacher for her irregular birthday, and was teased by classmates for ‘being too little’ to play with them. Shapiro has never experienced the same amount of teasing as Dawn, but he still remembers having heard jokes about his Feb. 29 birthday. “People have said things like, ‘You won’t get your license until you’re sixtyfour,’” Shapiro says. As for Dawn, now that she is older, she faces a different problem: How do you obey the law when a variety of people and organizations, from police officers to the DMV, think your birthday doesn’t exist? “The worst thing to deal with is when you try to get an ID card and someone tells you that Feb. 29 isn’t a real date,” Dawn says, adding that some computer programs don’t recognize Leap Day as valid. While she says that fixing the error would be easy, the quadrennial aspect of Feb. 29 makes it easy for software developers to put it off for another four years and then another.

LEAP YEAR POSTCARDS Left to right: postcards from Theodor Eismann, Samson Brothers, S. Bergman, and Martin Anderson celebrating leap year. These postcards were provided by Raenell Dawn. february 2012


[ FEATURES ] Dawn has also heard tales of fellow leapers being arrested after a speeding ticket snowballed into a ride in a police car. Any minor driving offense leads to a request for ID, which leads to the incorrect conclusion that the ID is invalid due to the obviously nonexistent date. And that, of course, leads to a trip to the station, and a series of explanations that seem to be not at all unusual in some leapers’ lives. “We’re put through unnecessary hassles,” Dawn says. And don’t get her started on the dictionary issue. Or the calendar issue. Or any Leap Day related outrage, really. The problems with the dictionary and the calendar both originate from the same complaint: the unwillingness of organizations and companies to recognize the authenticity of Leap Day. Rather than being capitalized, as is New Year’s Day, Leap Day is listed in the dictionary as “leap day”, all lower-case. And it’s not even mentioned as a special day on the calendar, which Dawn thinks is ironic. “This is a day that celebrates the calendar,”


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she says. “And calendar companies just miss it every single year.” Calendar companies might miss Leap Day, but it isn’t forgotten. While some begrudge it as an extra day to work and to pay bills, others see it as a marketing opportunity. In previous years, Disneyland has offered free admission to leapers on Leap Day, and this year it will stay open for 24 hours on Feb. 29. And in 2008, Papa John’s gave away free pizzas to everyone born on a Leap Day. The Honor Society for Leap Year Day Babies has also used its leverage, especially around the month of February, to promote “leapness.” According to Dawn, the site, founded in 1997, boasts 10,000 members. While initially meant to be as a birthday club, it has grown to become a major player in the leapification of America, operating in 85 different countries. The society offers a parents’, kids’ and teachers’ page to help clear up confusion surrounding Leap Day, and even provides a “leaptionary” for leapers and leapless alike. Through these efforts, it hopes to raise awareness and rec-

ognition — two things that could usher in change for everyone, especially leapers. The Honor Society the most prominent Leap Day-related celebration. However, this date also has cultural significance. For some cultures, weddings and proposals are also traditional on Leap Day. 723 years ago, Queen Margaret of Scotland declared that women would be allowed to propose to men at any time during the leap year. If the man refused, a fine — ranging from a kiss to a silk dress — would be levied. “Leap year used to be a really big deal,” Dawn says, commenting on its ancient history. She notes that celebrations of leap year gained popularity in the 19th century and early 20th century, adding that leap year parties were commonplace. “In the early 1900s there were about 700 or more [total] postcards printed and issued, sent as a way of proposing or a way of answering a proposal,” Dawn says. These postcards were simply part of the traditions surrounding leap year, traditions that have fallen by the wayside in the decades following World War I and World War II. However, Dawn and other leapers haven’t given up hope that Leap Day will one day become a world-wide celebration, bringing together everyone — not just leapers. Leap Day — and the leapers it spawns — has been around for a long time. And despite the backlash against it, the day does offer some perks to leapers. “It’s really cool to be able to say I’m [turning] 13,” Dawn says. “When you look at me, clearly I’m not. But I’m going to be 13 at 52 and that’s going to be so much fun.” Shapiro agrees. “It’s nice to have something special,” he says. “I haven’t met anyone else born on Leap Day, and it gives me something to identify myself with.” Leap Day — that pesky date, source of frustration and joy, confounding computers and people alike — is just another day on the calendar. It occurs once every 1,461 days. It has been around 45 BC. And despite any evidence to the contrary, it’s not going away any time soon. v

Where the wild things should be

Patrick Dougherty’s Double Take sculpture celebrates its one-year anniversary

Text and Photography by SPENCER CARLSON


he twisting spires of sticks, organically circular windows, and general absurdity of the piece evoke Dr. Seussian architecture and the child in us all. Patrick Dougherty’s monumental sculpture, Double Take, has inhabited the lawn outside the Palo Alto Art Center for more than a year — since Jan. 30, 2011. Since its installation, the hard-to-miss construction has succeeded in attracting the attention of many residents, including a surprising number of high school students who have flocked to the piece to play and photograph each other. The unusually high number of students and others who have enjoyed Dougherty’s sculpture has succeeded in validifying what Art Center Director Karen Kienzle says is the center’s new strategy of bringing art into the community. The sculpture will remain up until it becomes structurally unsound, at which point it will be converted to wood chips, according to Kienzle. Student Reactions “It’s like some elves live there!” sophomore Lande Watson says. Perhaps this whimsical, fairy tale quality, which seems to stir up childhood nostalgia, is what has caused so many students to notice the sculpture. Then again, the sculpture’s prominent location on the corner of Newell and Embarcadero can’t have hurt. What is clear is that the artwork has caused a variety of reactions. >>

february 2012


[ FEATURES ] “It’s kind of sick [in the good way] that you feel like you’re in nature when you are inside it, and that it’s interactive,” junior Liana Krakirian says. Another student applauds Dougherty’s use of natural materials. “I like that rather than buying … canvas and paint, he uses what’s given to him,” junior Claire Marchon says. In a video published by the MidPeninsula Media Center, Dougherty explains his mission as an artist. “People feel like the environment is sensitive and that without meaning to we all have had a profound effect on it just by being alive on the earth ... this kind of work helps people re-remember the environment and their place in it,” he says. According to Director Kienzle, the sculpture has attracted many curious children and adults. “I love seeing adults acting childlike around the piece — it brings out a childlike wonder in people of all ages,” Kienzle says. Indeed, even the presence of such a seemingly benign piece managed to stir up discontent in a few students. “I hate it,” junior Margaux Furter says. “It reminds me that everything changes.”



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Furter says that the Art Center was significant to her childhood, and that the sculpture, which coincides with the renovation of the Art Center, has come to represent the abolition of the center’s familiar eccentricities. “On the Road” The Palo Alto Art Center chose to feature Dougherty as the first artist in its “On the Road” programming. On the Road is what the Art Center calls its effort to expand its reach into the community during its renovation of facilities, which began last year. On the Road is funded thanks to a grant the Art Center received through the Palo Alto Art Center Foundation from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, according to Kienzle. The Art Center staff had seen Dougherty’s work before and was excited to find out that he was available and affordable. “We wanted to kick off On the Road with a sculpture that the community would really respond to,” Kienzle says. “Our focus was more on selecting an artist who would create a sculpture that would have appeal for all ages.” Based on the reaction the community

has had, it appears that the sculpture has achieved these goals. “People love photographing the sculpture and taking pictures of people in the sculpture — it’s great to hear that it has had a particular impact on young people,” Kienzle says. “I think one of the benefits of the work for young people and older people is to demonstrate that art can take many different forms and that the community can be part of it.” Other On the Road works include Mildred Howard’s bottle house outside City Hall and Judith Selby Lang’s Lawn Bowls recently installed at the Lawn Bowls Club at 747 Embarcadero Road, which will stay up through February of 2013. The On The Road program may have been devised because the Art Center facilities are undergoing renovation and therefore unavailable for use, but they have accomplished what many art organizations fail to do: exposing community members to art that successfully engages them. Dougherty’s Double Take is a prime example of this, with its organic and whimsical character that seems to occupy the viewer’s imagination and transport him or her away from the present. v

Dougherty’s Double Take inhabits the front lawn of the Palo Alto Art Center.



54 56 58 60



books you’ve probably never heard of


Text and Art by EVELYN WANG

o you’ve just finished Watchmen, and now you’re running around telling everyone how much you love comic books and how you’re going to chain Alan Moore up in a basement (as if !) and force him at gunpoint to write a sequel and yadda yadda yadda. I remember when I, too, was living in such an enviable state of naivete. Those were the days. But now, I am a hardened woman who can no longer go back to those days when my knowledge of comic books did not keep me up at night, when my repertoire consisted only of Watchmen and Sandman. Now, I am enlightened. But like with all enlightenment, it comes with a price, and that price is being an insufferably blithering fanboy. And if you are willing to pay this price, and get punched in the face every time you open your mouth, then stay awhile and read on, dear reader. Get yo’ comic on! And then you can finally try to hit on that Ramona Flowers look-alike without looking like a damn fool. Transmetropolitan by Warren Ellis Premise: America two centuries in the future. Spider Jerusalem is a gonzo journalist on the search for the Truth. He is also a madman. He regularly terrorizes corrupt politicians with his DC Comics bowel-disruptor. He frequently takes to the streets to deliver mad sermons clad in


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nothing but a bastardized Jesus costume. He feeds his three-eyed cat unfiltered black Russian cigarettes. He hates you, and you love him. He is a pervert and a sadist. And he’s one of the good guys. You will like this if: You yawned while reading William Gibson and can’t stand Angelspit, but every time someone says the word “cyberpunk” a warm, fuzzy feeling grips your navel. You sound like a bad copy of a Tarantino character and you call Hunter S. Thompson your favorite author despite having only read half (and understood less) of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Your dream job is to be a paid critic of illegal designer drugs. Chew by John Layman Premise: Tony Chu is a cibopath. This means he can take a bite out of anything and know its entire history. Tony Chu is also a detective. Some of his cases involve homicides. Actually, most of Image Comics them do. You do the math. Still don’t get it? He eats dead people. Sometimes. Also, a lot of other nasty stuff. Hilarity, love, and lots and lots of puking ensue. You will like this if: You have a recurring fever dream in which the phrase “Fava beans and a nice Chianti” is tattooed on your lower back in Teriyaki sauce. Your favorite movie is “Silence of the Lambs”. Your dream date is Hannibal Lecter.

Wormwood: Gentleman Corpse by Ben Templesmith Premise: He’s a fast-talking, charming rogue of a magical British maggot who possesses a dead guy. She’s an exotic dancer whose clientele consists mostly of demons. Together, they IDW Publishing fight crime. Transdimensional crime that usually involves monsters, tentacles, and transvestite leprechauns. You will like this if: The tameness of British television angers you. Sometimes, when nobody’s watching, you try to summon Cthulhu. You unironically refer to your peers as “mortals” and are genuinely surprised when no one likes you. You fail to understand that only attractive people are allowed to smell funny. Tank Girl by Jamie Hewlett and Alan Martin Premise: She’s a beer-guzzling, head-shaving, nosepicking, farting outlaw who wore that rocket bra before Katy Perry. He’s a mutant kangaroo. Together, they figh­t Dark Horse Comics — Oh, did I already use that one? Well, it’s not true anyway. They don’t fight crime; not in the least.

: In fact, they’re on the run from the Australian government, which, incidentally, banned all the good beer. They’re young. They’re in love. They kill people and blow stuff up and spend weeks without bathing and play baseball with live hand grenades. You will like this if: Kathleen Hanna is, like, your idol, only you have no idols, because you’re a unique and powerful individual. You have the anarchy symbol as a tramp stamp. Throughout your life, your aspirations have evolved from rock star to roller derby player to suicide girl to broke, unwashed Jill-of-all-trades camping on your stoner cousin’s couch. You give yourself choppy faux-mullets because it’s quirky. Or something. Preacher by Garth Ennis Premise: Jesse Custer is a preacher. His best friend is a hard-drinking Irish vampire and his girlfriend is an ex-mercenary. His grandmother is a psychotic racist and his stalker is an imDC Comics mortal, ex-Confederate collector of souls. Jesse also happens to be possessed by the forbidden love child of an angel and a demon. So yeah, his life pretty much sucks. Oh, and by the way, God wants him dead. You will like this if: You have, quite literally, a Messiah complex. You actually wish you were Jesus. Only with more Kung-Fu and hard drinking. You know how to use

a shotgun. You write Bible fanfiction and it’s hardcore. John Wayne is your imaginary homeboy. RASL by Jeff Smith Premise: In a world, where Nikola Tesla was a cool kid, one man must travel to parallel dimensions to steal parallel Picasso paintings. That man is Dr. Robert Johnson, also known Cartoon Books as RASL. And he must make a choice between his many multidimensional girlfriends, all while on a forced mission from the U.S. government. From the creator of Bone, a hardboiled sci-fi noir like you’ve never seen before. You will like this if: You frequently narrate your actions in an uninterrupted, gritty monologue. You are the only person who actually says “I hate Mondays” while drinking, alone, at a bar. You refer to women as “dames.” You work alone.

o’ ! y t Ge ic on com

The Goon by Eric Powell Premise: This description, nay, any description, will not do The Goon justice. An Eisner-award winning funnybook, it is a genre-transcending zombiefilled Western paranormal noir with a Avatar Press toxic dose of rottentoenail-black comedy. The titular Goon is a freakishly muscular ex-carnie-turnedmob-boss with a penchant for punching out giant, diabolical monsters. His sidekick is a short, hard-drinking womanizer named Frankie. And yes, they do fight crime, and yes, it is every bit of awesome. Side characters include a giant tarantula, a village idiot named Peaches Valentine who likes doing unmentionable things with his own feces, the Nameless Zombie Priest, an alcoholic werewolf with an irrational fear of midget hands, and an insulting psychic seal. The word “epic” does not begin to describe The Goon. Knife to the eye! You will like this if: You have impeccable taste in comic books. You are a true connoisseur of comedy and wit. Everybody either loves you or would give both kidneys to be you, and you’re really, really pretty. If someone looked up the word “perfection” in the dictionary, they’d find a picture of your face. You are probably Evelyn Wang. v february 2012



Time to take out the trash? Your trashy TV habits may be even more unhealthy than you think Text by SAVANNAH CORDOVA Art by HANAKO GALLAGHER


According to the research of Penn elevision is sacred to some and completely inconse- State sociology professor Vicki Abt, quential to others. Some trashy television is the root of all evil. people don’t even own a TV; Since the dawn of the tabloid talk show, some people are DVR-ing Abt has criticized its natue, writing, 24/7 so they don’t miss a second of their “Cultural distinctions between public favorite shows. But even if you’ve been and private, credible and incredible witliving under a rock lately, you’ve almost nesses, truth and falseness, good and evil, definitely heard of Snooki the orange sickness and irresponsibility, normal and Smurf or the ubiquitous Kim Kardashian abnormal, therapy and exploitation, intimate and stranger, fragmentation and and her 72-day marriage. Trashy TV has become so culturally community are manipulated and erased relevant that you can hardly have a con- for our distraction and entertainment.” “There’s this show I used to watch versation without someone referencing The Bachelor or Extreme Makeover. And called I Know My Kid’s a Star. I was yet the question persists: What draws us changing channels one was in the to such terrible, trashy television, and once middle of one of the parts where a child was singing and dancing,” junior Juliana we start watching, why can’t we stop? “My dance friends watched it, so Moraes-Liu says. “And she had a little I was like, I’ll try pink wig on and she was it too,“ sophomore really cute, and her song Jennifer Wang says was really well sung...So on the subject of the I watched the song — it show Dance Moms. was like a two-minute Peer influence seems clip — and then...I to be a common facjust kept watching it. I tor in the decision wanted to see what was of whether or not going on, and why there to watch trashy TV. was a girl in a pink wig.” Television is so verThe program in satile that it can be — sociologist VICKI ABT question, which aired a social activity or an individual pursuit, a casual pastime or an on VH1 in spring 2008, was canceled after a single season. “I think it was very, obsession. Unfortunately (at least in the case very mean. I think everyone agreed it was of reality shows), many people become mean,” Moraes-Liu says. But why would dependent on their weekly fix of Tod- it go on for even that long? How did dlers and Tiaras or The Real Housewives of the general public continue to watch the Beverly Hills, and that’s when the trouble children of IKMKAS to suffer? For that, Moraes-Liu has a simple answer: “Bestarts.

“TV talk shows offer us a world of blurred boundaries.”


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cause it’s addicting.” School nurse Terri Weber says, “I think it’s kind of an escape. I think it’s something different from what [teens’] everyday life is.” She elaborates using one of her few televisional vices. “I don’t do the kinds of things they do on Survivor.” For Weber, it’s just an escape from working. “Every once in a while I watch Keeping Up with the Kardashians...just when it’s on TV. That’s about it. It’s just really funny to see these celebrities fight over really stupid things,” freshman Ethan Colburn says. Hissy fits and catfights are major selling points in the business of reality TV, because there’d be no plot without any drama. The ongoing conflicts between certain individuals keep the TV networks up and running. If Nick Lachey and Jessica Simpson had never fought, Newlyweds might have been canceled before the end of the first season! The fact that they chose to broadcast their lives might have had some part in their 2006 divorce, but it’s a given that plenty of MTV producers appreciated their sacrifice. Some watch not just for cheap thrills, but also for reassurance. “I watch Jersey Shore, Keeping Up with the Kardashians, Khloe and Kourtney Take New York, Khloe and Kourtney take Miami, and The Real World. It makes me feel smart, and like I have something I’m doing with my life,” junior Liana Krakirian says. But with billboards and Bravo specials everywhere we turn, how long until reality TV becomes just that: reality? Not very long, in the opinion of Dr.

Vicki Abt. “As we watch, listen, and are entertained, TV talk shows are rewriting our cultural scripts, altering our perceptions, our social relationships, and our relationships to the natural world. TV talk shows offer us a world of blurred boundaries,” Abt writes. To some extent, that’s what America wants. We relish the controversy, the

scandal, and the way that no one seems to care about how nastily they act. But that’s what we want to see on television, and television alone. Few of us enjoy spiteful theatrics in real life, and those of us who do can always trek down to Los Angeles and find a casting director. Trashy TV, no matter how enjoyable, no matter how addictive, is problematic.

The psychology behind it is tenuous and superficial, similar to the people on the shows themselves. When all is said and done, trashy television can be likened to a horror movie — it can be funny and it can be scary, but it’s not something you’d ever want to experience firsthand. And if you’re lucky, you won’t ever have to. v february 2012



Confessions of a Bollywood newbie A look into the biggest film industry in the world Text by ANA CARANO with additional reporting by ELISA REROLLE Art by CHARU SRIVASTAVA


icture a Bollywood movie. You got it? If you only imagined a four-hour series of colorfully clothed people merrily bhangra dancing, then please, just go home. Or continue reading this article. Although Bollywood movies do feature a lot of bhangra dancing, that only provides a limited picture of Bollywood, the nickname for the Mumbai-based Hindi film industry. Now, many of you have probably lived perfectly acceptable lives knowing absolutely nothing about Bollywood. However, as you shall see, this industry offers too much for people who are really interested in film to miss. Additionally, the industry deserves recognition as it has become an increasingly influential force in Hollywood. The popular re-emergence of musicals in recent years, from “Chicago” to “Moulin Rouge,” is attributed to this industry, according to PBS. And, let’s be honest, if you haven’t heard of ”Slumdog Millionaire,” you clearly slept through all of 2008. Authentic Bollywood films are also moving to North America, the most recent addition being “Don 2” which broke records in the United States for the first 11 days of a Bollywood film, grossing $3.3 million, according to the New York Times. The splash Bollywood has made in America makes it more than deserving of some in-depth examination. A fel-


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low staffer and I decided to stick to the mantra of showing and not telling, using comments from Palo Alto High School Bollywood fans and observations from the movie “Three Idiots,” the highest grossing Bollywood film ever. The movie covers the adventures of three college students. Let’s start out with the first stereotype that comes to mind when one thinks Bollywood: the musical numbers. “There’s dancing in almost all [Bollywood movies], junior Prachi Prasad says. Hold your proverbial horses, haters of musicals: these musical numbers are vital to the films. Firstly, every country needs some kind of music industry. “The majority of musicians [in India] are people who perform songs to be put into movies,” junior Esha Datta says. 'There is somewhat of a smaller group of musicians who are coming out as singersongwriters, but that’s really small.” Other than this, musical numbers play an interesting role in furthering the plot of these movies. Without these numbers, something could have been lost. For example, in the film “The Three Idiots,” the story of the student who was driven by stress to commit suicide may have hit a false note. However, by portraying the man’s emotional plight with a ballad, the plot line was just affecting, not sappy. This seems to be the norm for most songs in Bollywood movies, providing an explanation for why some people dislike Americanized versions of them,

such as “Slumdog Millionaire”. “The movie was made originally with the intent of modeling a Bollywood movie, which it failed in epically.” Datta says. “There was one musical number, and it was at the end. It was an okay song, and it was at the end, and songs don’t go at the end. It didn’t make sense. Songs are suppose to somewhat advance the plot or the love interest.” So, you don’t really have an excuse for not watching Bollywood movies because they’re musicals. However, you might be on to something if you’re scared of their length. Oh, you think you can handle it because you watched “The Two Towers” once? Ha. These

movies are an average of three hours compared to the Hollywood norm of ninety minutes. Each scene of “Three Idiots” seemed a little bit longer than it should have been, although this might be due to our not being used to the length of these movies. The length made the movie much deeper than a buddy comedy should be. The main theme of “The Three Idiots” seemed to be the problems with India’s success-driven society. The values the school espoused drove overstressed and unfulfilled students to commit suicide, and taught students memorization, not concepts. Although this theme is profound, those who aren’t in the mood to watch that kind of movie could enjoy the equally strong themes of friendship and romance. There’s something there for everyone, something that is far from being unique to “Three Idiots.” Instead, there are numerous themes in almost every Bollywood movie.

“There’s a lot about tradition and the modern world, and how those work together because that’s a big problem definitely in India,” junior Eyra Dordi says. “And lot’s of romance. There’s always arranged marriage versus love marriage. That just always comes into play.” Why so many themes? Bollywood attempts to provide more than movies – Bollywood films are supposed to be allout spectacles for the viewers, who often want a nice escapist distraction. “Bollywood is more for entertainment value, a lot of the bigger commercial ones because, well, life isn’t exactly the easiest around, and people want the fun, big musical value,” Dordi says to a chorus of agreement from those surrounding her. We found this aspect of

Bollywood incredibly appealing, as people who live in a world where we are forced between fun and deep movies. It’s either “Citizen Kane” or “The Notebook,” and no one wins. So, you probably want to go out and watch a Bollywood movie now, right? Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to cover all the numerous inconsistencies between the two industries, from the constant switches from English to Hindi and different opinions about what is ‘appropriate,’ so just remember: “You should not be judging it on Hollywood movie standards,” Dordi says. “It’s different, and you just have to come with a really open mind. Also, get subtitles on.” v

BOLLYWOOD FOR BEGINNERS THE HOT ACTOR: Sharukh Khan, “The King of Bollywood” THEFOR HOT ACTRESS: Priyanka Chopra BOLLYWOOD BEGINNERS GATEWAY FILM: Dostana THE HOT THE ACTOR: Sharukh Khan, “The King of bollywood” THE HOT ACTRESS: Priyanka Chopra SO YOU LIKE MOVIE THEATRES: Naz 8 in Fremont, alTHE GATEWAY FILM: Dostana Century 16 also sometimes has showings AVERAGEthough LENGTH: 3 hours SO YOU LIKE MOVIE THEATRES: Naz 8 in Fremont, although Century 16 also sometimes has showings A BIT OF BOLLYWOOD A selection of Bollywood films february 2012



Left, right, and in between Students embrace a broad spectrum of beliefs, from socialism to anarchy Text and Art by TIN NGUYEN


itt Romney, Ron Paul, Newt Gingrich, Barack Obama. Most Americans are wellversed in the Republican and Democratic parties, but what about the Communist Party of America or even The Rent Is Too Damn High Party? Many Palo Alto High School students, like most Americans, are reluctant to step beyond the “big two” and discover the entire political spectrum for themselves, often leaving the more radical students alone to fend for themselves. As a result, few are willing to advocate socialism or anarchy, creating a cycle where, seemingly, only Democrats and Republicans can enact change; to change the world, must you follow the masses? Some students are inclined to disagree. Senior Benjamin Briskin is one such student, identifying himself politically as a Marxist. “Marxism is diametrically opposed to capitalism,” Briskin says. “At its core, it’s rooted in basic human dignity. ” A Marxist since his freshman year, Briskin bases his political beliefs on human and socioeconomic equality. “Economic equality is more important than growth because without it, the working class is oppressed,” Briskin says.


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Briskin has faith in his political views proportionate amount of power,” Hu says. despite preconceptions commonly held “All industries should be government about Marxism. controlled, but with a market. It’s pretty “Most people’s views have been poi- much state capitalism.” soned by communist Russia and China, However, unlike Briskin, he is rewhich were perversions of Marxist phi- luctant to take political action due to losophy; power his awareness of his was concentrated own individual lack of in the hands power. of a few, which “I’m plagued by a is the opposite sense of a lack of polit[of Marxism],” ical efficacy,” Hu says. Briskin says. “If “Politically speaking, people would take nothing I do will mean the time to learn much because of the more, the numstigma associated with ber of advocates socialism and commuwould increase nism.” exponentially.” On the opposite — Social studies teacher GRANT In the future, end of the spectrum BLACKBURN Briskin hopes to lies an anonymous pursue his beliefs Paly graduate, believby writing his own blog and participating ing in a mix of anarchy and capitalism afin the Occupy movement. ter a fateful event in middle school turned Senior Steven Hu is a former Marx- him away from unquestioned obedience ist and a current democratic socialist; like to authority. Briskin, his beliefs took root in 9th grade As a middle school student, he found after looking at the effects capitalism has out how to change InClass’s layout and had on America. how to add himself as a guest to classes “Big corporations are motivated by around the school. profits, not humanitarian or environ“It didn’t cause any harm, but the remental reasons. Industries like the phar- sponse was out of proportion,” he says. maceutical and oil industries wield a disThe district banned him from com-

“If you believe in something, your actions will have a big impact.”

HANG A LEFT Senior Benjamin Briskin espouses economic equality and environmentalism. “Marx would agree with my conviction,” Briskin says. “The capitalist makes his fortune by exploiting the soil and the laborer.” puter usage for the rest of the semester, forcing him to transfer out of his computer electives. “Being the victim of such a thing makes it easy to see that authority can be wrong at times and to think that alternatives must exist,” he says. “Basically, [it taught me] to start questioning things.” After the incident, he gained a critical eye for government. “Most abusive relationships persist because the victim doesn’t believe they have an alternative,” he says. “People living under a government is a giant example of that.” Almost as rare at Paly as Marxists and anarchists are conservatives; sophomore Derek Young is one such individual. “I didn’t know that I was conservative until we took a questionnaire in history class,” Young says. “Being conservative might not be common [at Paly], but it’s my personal belief.” Senior Toby Lee, a comparably convicted and outspoken conservative, feels the pressure of being a Republican in a powerfully and predominantly liberal

“If people would take the time to learn more [about Marxism], the number of advocates would increase exponentially.” — Senior BENJAMIN BRISKIN

RIGHT AS RAIN Senior and conservative Toby Lee takes pride in his uncommon views, despite some backlash from a liberal crowd. “If anyone asks me about what I believe, I’m going to tell it to them, clear and simple,” Lee says.

school. “People [at Paly] are afraid to reveal themselves if they are conservative,” says Lee. “I feel that the vast majority of Paly finds conservative-bashing not only acceptable, but condoned as the norm. Therefore, it creates an atmosphere where liberals empower themselves and a biased environment for those who are undecided. Regardless of his harsh political surroundings, Lee is proud to be a lone conservative in a liberal majority. “I don’t believe that I should feel ashamed of my conservative ideals,” Lee says. “I stick true to what I believe even if I’m the only one advocating for the side I am for.” Junior Aaron Slipper strongly encourages others of all beliefs to speak up for and take action for their ideas. “It’s important to spread ideas and to argue against something that you disagree with,” Slipper says. “I seldom let something I disagree with pass by.” Social Studies teacher Grant Blackburn echoes that sentiment, believing

that even one person amidst 300 million others can start change. “If you believe in something, your actions will have a big impact,” Blackburn says. “There are all kinds of ways to get people going and once they start getting involved, they’ll see that they really do have an impact. ” According to Blackburn, laziness is the reason why most people are not actively advocating their beliefs or why some people simply have not developed any beliefs. “Most people don’t think politics is fun,” Blackburn says. “We’ve become an instant gratification society, and they don’t see the immediate benefit of their decision.” Blackburn encourages individuals to take advantage of the tools at their disposal and to help make a change in the world. “There’s Twitter and Facebook, and the more people that jump in, the more power you have. ” Blackburn says. “With that many people united around the same thing, that’s real change.” v

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64 67







Are we as happy as we think we are? Text by JESSICA JIN Art by DIANA CONNOLLY Photography by HALEY FARMER


irdsong and the natural daylight entering her bedroom window woke Palo Alto High School senior Heather Gaya 30 minutes before she had any obligations to go anywhere or do anything or conform to others’ expectations of her. Gaya recalls feeling purposeless, satisfied, as she stepped out into her otherwise-unoccupied backyard and observed the birds pecking away at the family’s bird feeder. The sun was just beginning to rise in the pale blue sky. It was a drowsy, non judgmental morning, and Gaya felt happy. “I was in complete control of my life, without anyone else demanding my time or energy or trying to change me into someone I’m not,” Gaya says, explaining her joy at that moment.


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The triumph and satisfaction of beating his friends at Starcraft gave sophomore Jared Filseth a similar sense of pleasure; for freshman Ankita Avadhani, happiness came with the blackberry pie her friends baked her for her birthday. “Happiness is a subjective feeling,” according to Paly AP Psychology teacher Melinda Mattes, which is why people’s conceptions of it vary so widely. An individual’s definition of happiness is quite personal, reflecting what he or she values and wants most from life. But in the end, we all want it. We spend our lives pursuing it. Verde decided to investigate the level of happiness in the Paly student body. This article represents an attempt to measure student happiness and explore the nature of this sought-after sentiment.

Despite the challenges of measuring happiness, Verde issued a survey to the student body which matched one issued last month by Gunn High School’s newspaper, The Oracle. Students were asked to rate six factors on a scale from one to 10: facilities, social opportunities, food quality, variety of clubs, student stress, and school supportiveness. Graduation rate and number of sunny days were also taken into account to calculate an overall happiness score. For the calculations, stress level and supportiveness were weighted most heavily, while food quality and number of sunny days were given less import. Though these elements are not equivalent to happiness, scientific articles suggest that they often correlate with student contentment. Verde surveyed Paly students during

Paly’s Happiness Report Card

A+(10) graduation rate: A+(10) facilities: B (7.32) clubs and organizations: B (6.99) number of sunny days:

B (6.91) social opportunities: B (6.69) stress level: C (5.55) on-campus food: C (4.67)

Verde conducted a survey of student happiness at Paly, using a questionnaire designed by Gunn journalists. Students were asked to rate six factors on a scale of one to 10. Graduation rate and number of sunny days were evaluated based on internet data. In accordance with The Oracle, Verde converted the data to traditional grade measures, using the following scale: 1-2.5 = F ; 2.5-4.5 = D ; 4.5-6.5 = C ; 6.5-8.5 = B ; 8.5-10 = A. (For comparison’s sake, Verde used the same measures as Gunn did.) The total happiness score is a weighted average of the individual scores.


the last week of January and the first week of February on a voluntary basis during their English classes. Three to four classes per grade were selected to form a random sample of 345 students. The Oracle, on the other hand, administered its survey, also voluntary, online through SurveyMonkey. Four hundred ninety-two students chose to participate. The results of the survey, illustrated above, show that on average, students are relatively – though not extraordinarily – satisfied with most aspects of their lives at Paly. On average, students were most satisfied with the school’s facilities; they were less enamored by the quality of food on campus and the stress level. Using the same methodology used by The Oracle, Verde calculated Paly’s overall happiness score to be a 6.32 out of 10, 0.25 points

total happiness score: C+ (6.32)

below Gunn’s score of 6.57. However, when students were asked to self-report their overall level of happiness, they gave an average rating of 7.26 out of 10, suggesting that students at Paly generally consider themselves to be more content than they are. “I think people are more happy than Paly’s reputation suggests,” says senior Amitai Zand. And the survey results suggest he’s right.


veryone seemed to be complaining about one thing or another during one rehearsal of “Much Ado About Nothing” by the Paly theater department. Cumbersome script in hand, senior Crystal Liu was in a particularly sour mood. But it struck her that these frustrations were transitory, and

she decided instead to cherish the moment. “I looked around at all these people, maybe 30 actors, directors, and techs at their worst, aggravated and tired, but together,” Liu says. “Then I realized how much I was going to miss this cast and this community, and my response was to immediately lighten up and appreciate this enormous ordeal that involved everyone and everything I love.” Her involvement with Paly theater gives Liu an activity in which to become entirely absorbed; one that naturally interests and drives her. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, a psychologist at Claremont Graduate University concludes that these experiences of total engagement, which he terms “flow,” correlate with experiences of happiness. february 2012



Theater also gives Liu a community with which to belong and a greater sense of purpose and identity. In this way, it satisfies the search for happiness that Paly Humanities teacher Lucy Filppu says is an inborn yen within all of us. “We are born longing to create ourselves, so naturally the pursuit of happiness is a high endeavor,” Filppu says, explaining why the pursuit of happiness is so central to the lives of students at Paly and to people everywhere. For Liu, it came in the wings of the theater. For others, the search permeates every aspect of their lives from the time they awake in the morning to when they fall asleep at night. Wherever and however they search for it, culture tells people that the more happiness they have, the better. But according to evolutionary psychologists, our tendency to habituate to the status quo, coupled with our goaloriented mentality, makes it almost impossible or us to find happiness. And according to Mattes, the idea that we should constantly be happy is simply untrue, and may be harming us in ways we wouldn’t expect. “Maybe that [the idea that all of us have to be happy all the time] is what accounts for the prevalence of depression,” she says. “If you think about it, if


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we think the norm is being happy, then you think about relative deprivation: you look around, you think, ‘Everybody else is happy and I feel like garbage, so I feel even worse.’” Though Filseth emphasizes that the intrinsic value of happiness cannot be denied, he agrees. “We have a culture which is extremely centered on avoiding stress in teenagers and maximizing their immediate happiness,” Filseth says. “While I believe that too much stress is a bad thing, it is also important that we have interests which we can pursue later in life, as opposed to simply wasting our lives by generating maximum satisfaction today. People need to be somewhat happy now, but also think about how happy they will be in the future.” The sensationalizing of happiness is also harmful in that it prevents us from developing the critical trait of resilience, according to Mattes. Instead, she says, we should strive for growth. “I think the awareness needs to not be ‘I need to be happy all the time or else,’” Mattes says. “Instead it should be, ‘I want to be happy, but there are times when I’m not going to be happy, and I’m going to be okay with those times and take those as learning experiences to grow and to

sort of build my own character and build out who I am. That in turn can affect my long-term happiness.’” The Dalai Lama, often credited as being the guru of happiness, emphasizes a focus on developing internal qualities. “For our life to be of value, I think we must develop basic good human qualitieswarmth, kindness, compassion,” he says. “Then our life becomes more meaningful and more peaceful – happier.”


he front entrance of Palo Alto High School every morning is a bustling symphony of cars and pedestrians and bicyclists, united by a shared destination and a shared pursuit of happiness. It is a gathering of students arriving on a campus that, like any other institution, has its flaws. But it is a coming-together of students who are, for the most part, smiling. “I would like to think that a central goal of humanity is ultimately realizing that we are powerful agents for ill or good,” Filppu says, explaining her idea of happiness. “For whatever reason, humans got a lot of the goodies when it comes to conscious, conscience and reason. So what are we going to do with ourselves? Happiness to me is about service and humility.” v




Text by LISIE SABBAG Photo Illustration by HALEY FARMER


e’ve all read the articles handed out by teachers, emailed to us by grandparents and tacked around the school. They talk about getting more sleep, and organization, and many other changes adults think will help us de-stress and revitalize. As if. No matter how many times a helpful pamphlet tells me I need to get 9 hours a sleep a day, there is no way I’m cutting out my much needed TV vegetation time. The only other option would be not finishing my chemistry homework, and that’s not going to make me any less stressed. It seems like there is nothing to do but deal. But according to Verde’s January survey with 61.8% of PAHS students saying they’re feeling stressed, there has to be another option, right? Well here are 10 realistic tips you won’t find in the health office pamphlets that are guaranteed to help you chill out.

New ways to de-stress your life

Sit up straight


Dump coffee for tea

Bake cookies

You know, that slump you fold over into during a boring lecture, shoulders hunched head drooping down? Psychologists call this the stress-posture-stress’ cycle, because the bad posture will actually make you even more tightly wound. Try to catch yourself and sit up with your back straight to break the cycle. Yes, your morning cup of coffee seems like a necessity, but it’s a habit you can kick in fewer than three weeks. You know you always fall asleep during fourth period because of the caffeine crash so why not switch to a decaffeinated tea in the morning. “6 weeks of tea consumption leads to lower post-stress cortisol and greater subjective relaxation,” Andrew Steptoe, a University College of London professor of public health says in his journal “Mood and Drinking”.

You can’t go crazy on a partner when they forget their half of the work, but not letting out your anger will cause stress. Scream, shout, stomp, even throw in some curse words. According to the American psychology Association, “Profanity provides catharsis, helping one cope during intolerable periods of inner conflict.” Food is always a de-stresser, because eating releases serotonin in your brain. It takes 10 minutes to get a batch of chocolate chip cookies into the oven and another twenty of smelling that delicious aroma for them to be done. Instead of pigging out on a dozen cookies, bring them to school to share with friends. They’ll be gone before you know it, and you can feel good about brightening someone else’s day with your stellar culinary skills.

Work outside

In Palo Alto, it’s sunny most of the year, so take your bio homework outside and enjoy those photons refracting off your skin. The fresh air could do you some good, kid.

Pick out your outfit

Everyone feels better when they know they’re dressed their best, so the night before school lay out your clothes. This will save time in the morning, and you’ll be looking cute with no effort at all!

Nix shortcuts

Instead of rushing to school at the last minute, take advantage of the time the last tip gave you, and use your commute to february 2012



Are you stressed? Q

Mostly A’s: Whoa dude. Take a chill pill. You’re stressed out, to the point where Clementines and puppies just might not fix it. Maybe you should take a second look at that article your grammy sent you.

Your backpack: d ork. sterday’s lunch, an A. Ate your homew you sort through ye if t at bu wh s… d es fin m ll a u’ of tually yo B. Is a bit erything else, even ev d an ain ch p cli the paper rs of ball you need. s, 24 different colo er nd bi ed od r-c lo th co you like C. Is neatly filled wi eeze, just the way br Fe on lem of tly sligh point pen, smelling it. is all n be found: library. 15 minutes At brunch, you ca next period in the st te right? e r, th r wa fo ry g in na m A. Cram the Revolutio of es ttl ba e th all nt ize t the massive amou you need to memor on the quad- abou ds en fri ur yo th wi B. Talking night you have to do that ra of math homework ere’s always time fo Th . uce France De at ts ee str e th C. Across re English and chai latte befo chocolate croissant lunch today? What did you eat at e funny. stuff into A. Lunch? Ha. You’r ’s all I had time to at th er nt ce nt de e stu ed my B. A cookie from th e. If only I had finish m ht ug ca n ria ra e lib my mouth before th t night… las k or bread, fruit ew m ho physics asted whole wheat to on ch wi nd sa lad e peanut C. Fresh chicken sa couple of homemad a d an e ad on lem ezed salad, freshly sque m Yu . ies ok butter co ence you After school you: til dinner time, wh un ok bo ce Fa of rld s like anA. Are lost in the wo of homework. Look s ur ho 5 ur yo on d emerge to get starte creational t. gh ni e other lat isode of Park and Re ep t’s gh ni t las h tc wa get to bed B. Take a break to ur homework, and yo on ng tti ge re fo be after swim practice complished. ac n io after finishiss M . 11 before ahead of time, and k or ew m ho ur yo te t of to hit the gym, upda C. Have done mos acbeth, have time M of re r fo te be ap C ch t AB las on ing that r Marathon tch the Harry Potte your Tumblr and wa 9:30. getting to sleep at school to think and relax. You literally cannot do anything else but meditate as you navigate your way to school, so stretch out that mandatory do-nothing time by taking side streets instead of racing down Alma.

Eat a Clementine

Bring a couple of these little orange beauties to school for brunch and make sure to get a good whiff of the zesty scent when you peel them. Scientists at say that their fragrance is indeed powerful enough to counteract stress in a performance task. Plus, the healthy snack in between classes will invigorate you so you can pay attention during 3rd period.


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Give yourself a massage

People tend to hold their stress in their jaws, so whenever you’re really feeling the weight of a stressful essay, work your jaw. A British Medical Journal’s study states that massages reduce stress in the short term. Massage your earlobes and between your finger bones to dissolve stress like magic.

Furry friends

I’m not talking about your friend that took No-Shave-November a little too far, I’m talking about pets! Yale has started a Puppy Therapy project, letting students check their dog out from the library year round! So give your pet some love.


Mostly B’s: Yes, you’re stressed, but who wouldn’t be? Between after school activities, school and friends, you’ve got a lot to handle, and sometimes you can be a little bit of a stress case. But normally, you know what’s up and can handle your own, even if that means studying through lunch once in a while. Mostly C’s: You don’t need to be reading this article. You’ve got it all figured out, Little Miss “I have time for Pilates, AP classes and 10 hours of sleep.” How you do it is a mystery, but we all salute you.

When your mom tells you turn off “Modern Family” or stop trolling Texts from Last Night before your brain turns to mush, remind her that you are actually taking care of your brain by laughing. According to Psychology Today, laughter not only calms you mentally, but physically lowers your blood pressure and helps you relax as well. The researcher, Michael Miller, M.D., of the University of Maryland focused on physical effects and says laughter offsets the impact of mental stress, proving once and for all that the best medicine really is just laughter. So laugh it off, Paly — stress has nothing you. v










or this edition of The Watch, Verde decided to explore the little-known facts about Palo Alto High School. From investigating long-rumored tunnels to contacting informed alumni, The Watch explored it all. PRESERVING OUR GENERATION GREEN AND WHITE — FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT! THIS IS HOW WE ROLL PALY UNDERGROUND SECRETS OF THE HAYMARKET

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february 2012



Preserving our generation

What belongs in the proposed Media Art Center time capsule? Text, Art and Photography by EMILY HAIN


ince the creation of one of the first successfully built, modern time capsules in 1940, the Crypt of Civilization at Oglethorpe University in Georgia, people have been assembling capsules worldwide in hope of enlightening future generations about their lives. Entire websites have been devoted to selling custom, non-deteriorating time capsules. Amid the design plans for the new Media Arts Center now being built on the Palo Alto High School Campus, an idea has been proposed to construct a time capsule to be housed in the building once it is completed. Verde staffers, along with other Paly journalism students, have contemplated what types of items Paly could place in the time capsule to represent 2012 and our current era. Verde asked Paly students and faculty what objects they believe belong in the time capsule. Below are some of their answers. v “They should put in a pair of Toms [shoes] because they are going to be here for centuries, and boat shoes because they are coming back.” — Akash Gupta, senior

“They should put a Twinkie in it and see how long it lasts.” —Heather Strathearn, sophomore

Have a suggestion about what to put in the time capsule? Email us at


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“The first edition of every publication after it is built should go into the time capsule.” —Mike McNulty, English Teacher

“They should put an iPhone because a lot of people have iPhones currently so it would be a good thing to put in there.” — Elani Gitterman, junior

“Essays and pictures in yearbooks, so they can see how people dressed and how Paly evolved.” — Adrian Bouissou, freshman

Green and white — Fight! Fight! Fight! Why our athletes no longer resemble Christmas Text by ELIZABETH SILVA Photo Courtesy of Paly Alumnus WILLIAM Q. GLATHE


nce upon a time, Palo `48 and it was green and white. I un- cheerleading. What did ‘Red’ rhyme Alto High School ath- derstood it had changed “recently” so it with? Dead? Keep the green and white!” letes walked on to the would be in 1947.” Some of the alumni I contacted did playing field dressed in Many of the alumni did prefer green prefer the green-and-red color scheme, green and red. The Paly and white to red and green, although mostly because of the desire to keep the Student Handbook says the school colors some did not want the change. Those who traditional colors the school had started were changed from green and red to green did support the change felt the colors with. and white in 1949. Turns out the hand- were too much like Christmas colors and “There was a long running joke that book is wrong. many did not like the contrast on sports you could always recognize a Paly athlete I contacted some Paly uniforms. because he had a red sweater alumni from the years `48 to with green ‘P’ all over it,” Jim `50. Some alumni recall that Jefferis says. “That was emthe colors were changed in `47 barrassing to the jocks. They and most recall `48. We came wanted a white sweater with to a conclusion that the colors green ‘P’ all over it. And they were changed toward the end won the day. … I already had a of the Class of `47 and the red sweater and saw no value Class of `48 began with green in changing for only a few and white. There was a vote by months of my high school cathe student body to change the reer.” colors. Don’t believe me? LisBy 1950 the color change ten to them yourself. had already been made and “I was in the Class of `48 put incorporated in to Paly’s and assure you that the colors new uniforms. were changed in that year, not “I was a cheerleader and in 1949,” graduate Jim Jefferis of course, we had green and says. “I recall the arguments for white,” says June Casey, Class and against prior to the elecof `50. “Green skirt to your tion. It was aesthetics vs. tradi- MEMORIES Bill Glathe (right) and Bill Armstrong (center) ankles, white sweater and tion. Tradition lost. ... I voted pose at Class `48 Paly reunion in 2008. Glathe sports his Paly green ‘P’. I still have the green, to maintain the status quo. green and red jacket from before the color change. block ‘P’s’ in my yearbook.” But, as I recall, the vote was a As for the matter of how landslide victory for change.” Alumnus Chet Keil, Class of `50, Paly came to have the Viking mascot, it Graduate Class of `50 Rich Scholz said “My first of eight letters [in swim- remains a mystery. I was so privileged to recalls that the Student Council push for ming, water polo and basketball] was in have been able to get in contact with the the change was led by Bill Day (`49). 1948 and it was green on white. Prior to Paly alumni from 1948 to 1950. Thanks to “Bill was a popular guy and suppos- that it was red and green. It was a local them we have recovered why our school edly came to school wearing pants with joke that when Paly played Burlingame, colors are green and white today and not one leg white and the other leg green whose colors were black and orange, that red and green. Who would have guessed? when the change was up to a vote by the Christmas was playing Halloween.” “The Viking? Whew, I suspect that students. In fact, they called it ‘The Bill Graduate Otto says, “‘White’ rhymes has been around since Day One — before Day Bill’. I came to Paly as a junior in with ‘Fight’, which better accommodates my time,” grad Bob Steinbach says. v february 2012



This is how we roll

Students steer, pedal and coast their way to school Text and Photography by CHARU SRIVASTAVA


very morning, 1916 students make their way to Palo Alto High School. Somehow, they all get to school on time â&#x20AC;&#x201C; well, most of them, anyway. Cycling is the most popular mode of transportation, with 862 bicyclists reported on a single day, nearly 46 percent of the student body, according to an October 2011 study by the Palo Alto Online. Aside from biking and walking, students also get to school by car, the Palo Alto shuttle, the VTA, or the Marguerite, the free Stanford shuttle. Others choose more unconventional means of transportation, including skateboards, scooters and roller blades. Some Paly students even commute on the familiar yellow school bus, many of which can be seen entering and exiting the districtâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s bus depot daily. Paly is indeed fortunate to have students who travel to school in so many different ways, getting an opportunity to become more independent, boost their self-esteem and get some exercise. v THIS PAGE: Senior Thao Tran smiles as she gets into a car. TOP: Junior Adam Mansour leads a group of cyclists crossing the Churchill intersection in the morning. TOP RIGHT: Cars and buses crawl along Embarcadero Road. RIGHT: Juniors Akshay Mata and Thomas Cow park their bikes in the morning. BOTTOM RIGHT: Students board the Palo Alto Shuttle after school. RIGHT: Freshman Ethan Higashi skateboards across campus.


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r , t e e e . w e t v

february 2012



Paly underground The truth behind the mysterious tunnel myth Text and Photography by JACQUELINE WOO Additional reporting by HANAKO GALLAGHER


gnoring the loud whistling of the wind blowing against me, I push open a heavy vented door into a place deep inside the Tower Building. It’s about 5 p.m. and the sun is setting, so there is barely enough light to see what is right in front of me. A dark staircase leads downwards. Hesitantly, I take out my video camera and walk down the steps. The rest of the journey is filled with nervous spasms every time I open a door that enters on a new dark, unfrequented room. I don’t know how far I traveled under the Tower Building, but the journey seemed to last forever. I first heard the myth about the walkable tunnels under the Tower Building and Haymarket Theater during my freshman year, but I never really believed they existed. Rationally, I thought that these mythological tunnels could only be large pipes, heating vents, or built-in passageways that would fit people. I first turned to Principal Winston, who dismissed the possibility of personsized pipes, saying that they were too small for anyone to walk through. However, I decided to investigate. During my extensive research at Palo Alto’s Main Library, I found an archived engineering book, published in 1934, entitled “Engineering report on Palo Alto union high school buildings”, which devotes a chapter to Palo Alto High School. It states: “The site is underlain by alluvial [sedimentary] material, probably of considerable depth,” which subtly hints at the possible existence of a sturdy pathway. Palo Alto historian Steven Staiger also provided multiple newspaper clippings from about 20 years ago, which mentioned


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that the heating vents at Paly are large and stretch for numerous yards. In the end, Assistant Principal Jerry Berkson confirmed the existence of the tunnels, though under a different name. “What you call tunnels, I call the Tower Building [basement],” Berkson says. Berkson led me on the trip down the tunnels where, past thick metal doors comprised primarily of vents high on the wall that were tightly closed, he presented the heating system. These vents, which one could theoretically squeeze into, travel further below the Tower Building, according to Berkson. When asked about tunnels under the Haymarket Theater, Berkson said that there were “tunnels” like the ones we were currently in. Stage technicians Heather Gaya and Ethan Cohen confirmed the Haymarket Theater tunnels’ existence. According to Gaya, a senior, there were tunnels under the lacrosse field, but they are now presumably closed. Originally meant for heating and storage purposes only, these old tunnels have been walled in, according to Gaya. Cohen, a junior, was also able to vouch for tunnels under the theater from experience. “The one tunnel that I know about goes from the theater to the Tower Building and it apparently used to exist but now is blocked off,” Cohen says. “I have seen the small door that was located where the tunnels should be, but now the door just opens up onto a concrete wall.” While the existence of the Haymarket tunnels is definite, the existence of other mythological tunnels, such as ones rumored to be under the science building, is uncertain. Because the Haymarket and the science building were

“What you call tunnels, I call below the Tower Building [basement.]” — assistant principal JERRY BERKSON built around 86 years apart, the tunnels would not be connected at all. Berkson denied the existence of any science tunnels. As I traveled through the tunnels, I couldn’t stop thinking about the generations of Paly students who had passed on the myth and how many had probably wondered where the tunnels were and if they even existed. I felt like I was finally bringing some closure to the tunnels’ story, as well as continuing their legacy.

Although the reality of the tunnels is a lot less dramatic than the hyped-up myth might suggest, the long-held suspicion has been... v

february 2012



Secrets of the Haymarket Everything you thought you knew and more about the Haymarket Theater. Text and Photography by CAROLINE EBINGER Art by DIANA CONNOLLY and HOLLIE KOOL


alancing on a beam in the attic of the Haymarket Theater, stage manager Heather Gaya, a senior, and master carpenter Ethan Cohen, a junior, chat and move around freely as if forgetting that stepping off the narrow beams will mean falling through the theater ceiling. Maybe it’s because they know the theater backward and forward, each having worked as a stage technician for over a year. Through Palo Alto High School’s eighth period class “Stage Craft Technology,” Gaya and Cohen, along with about 25 other Paly students, have had the opportunity to explore and get to know the 1918 theater. They shared their knowledge about the theater with us so the student body could learn more about Paly through knowledge of one of its most iconic buildings. v

“The Grid”

This metal and wooden grid above the stage is used for stage technicians to “hang things such as chandeliers,” according to Cohen. The grid also supports and allows maintenance of the fly system and the roof. The grid has recently been blocked off from student use because the staff perceives it as dangerous.

The Fly System

The fly system is a system of counterweights used to lower and raise heavy scenery. “The idea is that because they’re counter-weighted, anyone can lift even very heavy pieces of scenery in and out [of the stage],” Cohen says.


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This is an artistic rendition of the Haymarket Theater, seen partially as an internal view, and partially external. The green room is not shown in this image.



The Attic

Known as the “Walk of Death” by stage technicians, the attic of the theater building is a construction of walkable beams and metal wires over the plaster of the theater ceiling. “The idea is that you can hang lights and fix electrical things that are going on,” Gaya says. “But it’s kind of dangerous because there are no railings so you have to be careful not to put too much weight on the plaster [top of the ceiling] otherwise you would fall through the ceiling.”

The Owls

Unnoticed by many are the owls atop the entryway of Haymarket. Gaya explains their past. “There used to be two owls that were in front of the theater and … something had happened to them. … Dan Nitzan [a former Paly parent] came in and found two [similar] owls and reinstalled them via the attic. He found some that were very similar to the ones that were originally there.”

The Janitorial Closet

Amid “rats” and “dust” there is a closet underneath the main entrance stairs into the theater. “Whoo, janitors!” Gaya adds.

The Best Parts

The Basement

Given a fond nickname, the basement of the theater building is called “Australia.” Why? “Because it’s ‘down under,’ ” Gaya says. Australia houses “old set pieces, various drops, various furniture, and just spare lumber,” she says.

“If you stay committed to the program, then you end up getting to go in all these really cool spots that a lot of other students wouldn’t necessarily be allowed to go in.” — Heather Gaya “My favorite part is to see the show and all the stuff and know it couldn’t have happened without us.” — Ethan Cohen february 2012


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Verde Volume 13 Issue 3  

Cover story: Verde investigates the true level of happiness at Palo Alto High School.