Page 1

volume 14 edition 3 december 2012

On MyHonor: Honor: On My

Local Cub Scout leaders condemn Boy Scouts’ anti-gay policy

INDEX SHORT STUFF The Launch News Photo Essay

8 12 60

CULTURE Chromebook Thrifting

17 18

Reality Singing Shows Makeup Enthusiasts

20 22

FEATURES Nudity in San Francisco Fandoms Home Exercise DVDs Light the Night PAUSD’s Success Priority Applications Safe Running Attending Stanford Parties Paly Holiday Traditions

27 32 34 36 38 40 42 44 46

PERSPECTIVES Skinny-shaming TSA Rules Snark Attack

Daniela Ivey Charu Srivastava

48 50 78

COVER Pack 6 Resolution Intolerant Tolerance of Gays

52 58

PROFILES Griffin Carlson Jailbreak Nation Shivonne Logan Sama Rao Rachel Kellerman Edilson Ngulele

64 66 68 76 70 73

Charu Srivastava

CREATIVE SCULPTING Guayo Llach works on a statue in his Ceramics class. See a photo essay on this class on page 60. LIVE FROM PALO ALTO Griffin Carlson joins INfocus as the youngest anchor in recent history. Read more about Carlson on page 46.

KITTEN FLICK Junior Ellen Song models an eye makeup trend called “the kitten flick,� a less dramatic version of a cat-eye. Read more about make-up enthusiasts on page 22.

THE COVER The discrimination against gay Boy Scouts by the Boy Scouts of America prompted parents of a local Cub Scout Pack to pass a resolution denouncing this BSA policy. Our cover depicts the typical scene of the Cub Scout Pinewood Derby. However, the car of a gay Boy Scout is held back while all cars race towards the end, symbolizing the barriers in Boy Scouts for homosexuals. Illustration and design by Diana Connolly

Katherine Price

THE STAFF Volume 14 Issue 3 December 2012 Editors-in-chief Ana Carano Sharon Tseng Evelyn Wang Managing Editors Katy Abbott, Features & Profiles Spencer Carlson, Design Savannah Cordova, Perspectives Benjamin May, Technology Melissa Wen, Culture Jacqueline Woo, The Launch News Editors Sharon Cohen Angela Xu Business Manager Elisa Rerolle Copy Editor Noam Shemtov

Photographers Charu Srivastava, Photo Director Katherine Price Illustrators Diana Connolly, Art Director Jamie Allendorf Hanako Gallagher Staff Writers Jamie Allendorf Ben Cook Samantha Dewees Katie Ebinger Hanako Gallagher Daniela Ivey Carly King Hollie Kool Olivia Koyama Leah Medoff Will Queen Soo Song Henry Tucher

BREAK DANCING Edilson Ngulele, a Mozambican exchange student, participates in the Paly Breakdance Club. Read more about Ngulele on page 74. .





Charu Srivastava

y now, most of us know about the controversy surrounding the Boy Scouts of America’s policy on gay Scouts, especially in light of Ryan Andresen’s expulsion from the organization. Here’s a quick run-down: earlier this October, the BSA expelled Moraga, Calif. teen Ryan Andresen from the organization for violating two membership standards. One, he refused to check a box saying he had a duty to God and two, he was openly gay. Although the story has reached national prominence through the likes of Anderson Cooper and Ellen DeGeneres, Verde takes a look at local reactions to the issue. As told in “On My Honor” (p. 51) by Evelyn Wang, parents of Palo Alto Cub Scout Pack 6 have drafted a resolution condemning both the BSA’s membership policy and its actions towards Ryan Andresen. To contextualize an issue often worded in generalizations and moral absolutes, Noam Shemtov offers his personal reaction to the Ryan Andresen case in “Intolerant Tolerance” (p. 58). For Verde’s perspective on the local resolution, read our editorial (p. 6). In this issue, Melissa Wen interviews makeup artists at Paly and features some of their work in “More than Skin Deep” (p. 22) while Jamie Allendorf and Hanako Gallagher investigate the pros and cons of priority applications in “False Priority” (p. 40). In “The Naked Truth” (p. 27), Shemtov takes to the streets and talks to residents of Castro Street, nude or otherwise, about the recent passing of a ban on public nudity in San Francisco. Another article about body image, “Why it’s Okay to be Skinny” (p. 48) by Hanako Gallagher, denounces the emerging trend of skinny-shaming. “The Naked Truth” is a story about nudists. As such, it contains censored pictures of naked people and some semi-graphic quotes. However, we would like to stress that all the quotes were run by us and ultimately, we felt the inclusion of these quotes was essential to the story. Writing an article about such a controversial topic is never easy, and we want to thank staff writer Noam Shemtov for treating it with the respect, maturity, good judgement and restraint it deserves. We wish all of our readers happy holidays. See you next semester, Paly! — Ana, Sharon, & Evelyn

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 editors but reserves the right to edit all submissions for length, grammar, potential libel, invasion of privacy and obscenity. Send all letters to verde-eics-12-13@googlegroups. com or to 50 Embarcadero Road Palo Alto, CA 94301. All Verde stories are posted online and available for commenting at verde. 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 manager Elisa Rerolle at 650-329-3837 for more information. Printing & Distribution Services Verde is printed six times a year in October, December, February, April, and May, by Fricke-Parks Press in Fremont, Calif. The Paly PTSA mails Verde to every student’s home. All Verde work is available at http://

COMMENT ON STORIES AT • Let us know what you think of our magazine. • Discuss topics with other readers. • Critique our coverage of events and news. • Help us serve the community with up-to-date facts and insights.

CUBS Cub Scouts of local Pack 6 attend a meeting while their parents look over the resolution. Read about the resolution on page 51.




n response to the Boy Scouts of AmerHaving taken this into consideration, ica (BSA)’s policy not to allow gay Boy Verde endorses the actions of the resolution’s Scouts, writers in reaction to a resoluthe BSA’s discrimination has tory policy. We as a been drafted by community should Verde endorses Pack 6’s some parents and fight for acceptance actions in reaction to leaders of Palo beyond the limits of the BSA’s discriminatory Alto’s own Pack our city. The BSA policy. We as a communi- should not be able to 6. The resolution, asserts that Pack prevent any child from ty should fight for accep6 does not share becoming a Scout due tance beyond the limits or support the to his sexuality. Adof our city. BSA’s stance on ditionally, many young sexual orientation. and impressionable According to its boys learn their values authors, the resofrom Boy Scouts, and lution also criticizes the outcome of the Ryan if the BSA continues to exhibit such intolerAndresen case and explicitly requests that the ance, its members could grow up to think the BSA reevaluate its position regarding sexuality. same way. In June of this year, the council of the Consequently, Verde is also of the opinBSA affirmed the following statement regard- ion that the BSA should abolish its exclusioning homosexuality: “While the BSA does not ary policy against homosexual Scouts. We proactively inquire about the sexual orientabelieve that Pack 6’s resolution to protest tion of employees, volunteers or members, BSA regulations is a step towards progressive we do not grant membership to individuals changes for Boy Scouts everywhere. For more who are open or avowed homosexuals or information on the BSA sexual orientation who engage in behavior that would become a controversy, read “On My Honor” by Evelyn distraction to the mission of the BSA.” Wang on page 51.

Evelyn Wang

369 Main Street, Suite 250 Redwood City, CA 94063 (650) 369-3399




• Bag of individually wrapped peppermint candies • 8 oz bag of white chocolate • 8 oz bag of semisweet chocolate • Gallon-sized sandwich bag


Melt dark chocolate in a double boiler until smooth (if you don’t have a double boiler, you can microwave it). Pour into container (a glass brownie pan works the best) and put into the fridge to harden for five to 10 minutes. Melt white chocolate, then take out the dark chocolate container and layer white chocolate on top. Unwrap peppermint candies (about 20 or 30) and put them into the sandwich bag. Crush them into small chunks. Pour them evenly over the white chocolate, then refrigerate for an hour until hardened completely.

Winter Recipe With the holidays coming up, it’s a good time to make something rich and tasty. Here’s a quick recipe for

Peppermint Bark

Recipe from Carly King

Websites to waste time on

With Winter Break coming up and the first semester of school ending, students are having more and more time to spend on the computer. Check out these sites that waste so much of your time! By Katie Ebinger 8

Compiled, designed, and photography by JACQUELINE WOO Illustrations by JACQUELINE WOO and HANAKO GALLAGHER

ASB Answers :

What can the school expect for the New Year? “We have Winter Rally planned and that’s going to happen after Winter Break. We are also trying to increase energy on campus by bringing in local acts. We’ve got Prom. We’ve already decided a bunch of stuff. Also we’re starting a senior project. I know historically our senior class hasn’t been very good at keeping up with that [tradition] but we’re looking into possible ideas. ” — Senior Class President MICHAEL WANG Have a question for ASB? Email your question to and see if it gets picked to be in the next issue of Verde! Questions may be anonymous.

Post-it Art

By Jacqueline Woo and Ben Cook

We asked students to draw a representation of the end of the world and the holidays on a Post-it.

From left to right by: freshman Kelsey Wang, sophomores Will Snodgrass and William Shin, junior Andrea Clerici-Hermandinger, and senior Beau Edwards.

Instagrammers on Campus

Sammy Solomon @sammysolo12

Emily Hain @emilyhain72

Carol Hung @carolkhung

Instagram fans from around Paly are prepping for the holidays through decorating trees, bringing out the ornaments, and more!

By Jacqueline Woo To increase my bank account. — senior ROHIT RAMKUMAR

To set and accomplish two goals per week. — junior EMILY LEE

Verbatim: What are your New Years resolutions? To try and work out daily and stay in shape. — junior NIALL PATRICK

To wake up on time and not be late for school every day. — sophomore JACK BROOK


Winter Edition: The nor mal student’s guide to dressing a bit shar per Text and Photography by Spencer Carlson

The Collared Shirt

can be found in many different patterns and styles, but remains essential for all seasons.

The Cardigan

adds a layer of warmth while looking classy in a way no hoodie ever will. Sweaters are another great option.

Knit Sweaters

allow you to stay warm and classy during the winter months.

Mute-toned Chinos

are a nice alternative to jeans that can be worn during winter. Stay away from bright colors unless it’s a sunny day.

Wool Boat Shoes

Dark Wash Jeans

are a timeless wardrobe staple that looks good on everyone.

Dark Leather Boots

make you look mature and sophisticated, while keeping your feet warm during the winter.

are an awesome innovation that allows you to keep the same, easy, classy shoe style year-round.


ray is an underappreciated color. When worn in the summer, it does seem depressing. In winter, though, gray seems much more appropriate. It suits the season because it matches the weather. Gray is not a sad color; it is a very friendly color. It is contemplative and introspective. Gray is by far the calmest and most mature color in existence. So if you want to come across as thoughtful and collected, wear more gray during winter. You don’t have to limit yourself to gray, though — that would be really boring. v


Credit for Physics H not weighing in

PHYSICS: Teacher Sefika Eris demonstrates a pulley system in her 7th period Physics H class with junior Ethan Look. Paly’s Physics H class will not be UC or CSU weighted for the 2012-2013 school year, and changes planned for second semester will not be implemented.

By the


Number of years the head librarian Rachel Kellerman has lived in London. pg. 70-71

Next semester, Physics Honors students will not take a full-year, comprehensive final, as part of Palo Alto High School’s response to the state university decision to not grant it honors credit. “None of the changes we anticipated, as we moved from offering Physics 1A to Physics H course, will be implemented this year,” Palo Alto High School Assistant Principal Kathie Laurence said on Nov. 13 in an email to students enrolled in the class. The announcement to students was met with frustration and confusion. Many students did not have problems with the loss of a point on their GPA, but by the timing of the announcement. “I don’t mind the fact that it’s not weighted, but it’s really dumb of the school to say it’s Physics ‘Honors’ and then, halfway through the year, say, ‘Sorry, it’s not weighted,’” junior Ahmed Awadallah said. Unweighted and titled Physics 1A last year, the class was renamed Physics Honors this year as part of the attempt to earn it honors credit. The administration also plans to make several changes to the rigor of the class, taught by Sefika Eris and Keith Geller, to receive UC and CSU weighting. The administration offered the option for students to switch down to the regular physics lane, but many students say they will stay in the higher lane, as it still carries the “Honors” at the end of its name. “I don’t feel like it deserves to be weighted, [as] it isn’t hard like AP Chem,” junior Augustine Ho said. Other students say the decision isn’t even a big deal. “Whether or not it’s UC weighted only matters to the UCs, so basically it doesn’t matter at all,” junior Sarah Hale said. Text by Will Queen, photo by Angela Xu



Potential fine for walking around San Francisco in your birthday suit. pg. 27-31

LOUNGING: A group of seniors sit and study in the library’s present lounging area. By second semester, a new lounge will be set up in what is currently known as the Social Studies Research Center.

Social Studies Research Center to become lounge A new student lounge in the Social Studies Research Center is expected to be complete and available to students by second semester of this school year. According to Palo Alto High School’s Assistant Principal, Kim Diorio, the SSRC, located in the library building, will be transformed into a new area for students to socialize and eat lunch. “On rainy and cold days, the library is just packed,” Diorio said. “[We want to] provide an additional area on campus for

students to go.” The new SSRC will be designed by the Associated Student Body, Paly’s student government. “We wanted students to design the space,” Diorio said. “[It should be] for students, by students.” The SSRC will no longer be available for its previous functions, and all meetings scheduled in the SSRC will be moved to the ERC or portable P-1. Text by Samantha Dewees, photos by Charu Srivastava

English Department creates video to fight Turnitin plagiarism Responding to renewed concerns about plagiarism, the English Department will release a video detailing the uses of within the first three weeks of second semester. “The video is going to take us through the whole process of signing up, uploading a document, what to do to view the originality report, how to access teacher’s comments and anything else we might think of along the way,” said Shirley Tokheim, instructional supervisor of Palo Alto High School’s English department. According to Tokheim, the video is meant to clear up any confusion and to educate students and teachers about Turnitin. “There seems to be some confusion


Age that junior Sama Rao started doing trapeze. pg. 76

about how to use Turnitin, occasionally even among teachers,” Tokheim said. “We can’t assume at any point that everyone has received training on how to use Turnitin, [so] it seemed like a good thing to do: to create a video that would kind of standardize the Turnitin experience.” Three Paly juniors, William Crouch, Thomas Goroshko and Matthew Fogarty, have been asked to help in the creation of the video. According to Tokheim, the video is meant to be an informational interview made by students, for students. While Turnitin is usually thought as a tool for students to digitally upload papers and teachers to give them feedback, Tokheim also says that Turnitin can be

1# 78

Paly’s ranking among public high schools, according to Newsweek. pg. 38-39

used to ensure that no accidental plagiarism occurs. “Many students who get zeros on their paper for plagiarizing say they didn’t know how to use Turnitin, they didn’t realize that they had a quote that they hadn’t cited,” Tokheim said. “Hopefully this video will clear up all of that.” Tokheim hopes that this video will be viewed by students the beginning of every semester to as a review or to add onto knowledge about Turnitin. It will appear on Schoology and as a permanent link so students can look at it anytime. “My goal is to have zero cases of plagiarism,” Tokheim said. Text by Angela Xu


Hours of battery life of the new Samsung Chromebook. pg. 17 13

Associated Student body to host Club Day 2 The Associated Student Body plans to host its second annual second semester Club Day on Feb 8 at lunch on the quad. “The main purpose of the second club day is to catch the clubs that were not ready first semester,” student Activities Director Matthew Hall said. “Clubs that already exist will be there as a reminder that they are still around and open to new members.” However, unlike the first Club Day, this will not be an extended lunch. Hall explains that ASB will make further decisions about Club Day Two at the start of the new semester, and decide whether to have a band play while people survey the clubs.There will also most likely be another Bangra performance. “We received lots of positive feedback after the first second semester club day,” Hall said. “Many clubs are grateful for the second chance because, for whatever reason, they forgot about the applications in beginning of the year.” Hall recollects the positive feedback from last year’s first second semester Club Day. Clubs that didn’t get their forms in on

CLUB DAY: Paly’s Bhangra Club members Meha Bakshi and Himmat Singh perform at the first Club Day of the year. An additional club day will be held on Feb. 8.

time in the fall were appreciative to have a chance to have their club without having to wait until the next school year. “The purpose of Club Day Two is to introduce any new clubs to the campus

as well as allow those clubs to solicit new members,” Hall said. “[It] also allows current clubs to encourage former members to reconnect with the club.” Text by Olivia Koyama, photo by Charu Srivastava

ASB Calendar

Events to look forward to in second semester.

Winter Rally Thursday, Jan. 24 Second Club Day Friday, Feb. 8 Junior/Senior Prom Saturday, April 27 ASB Elections Week of March 25 Field Day May 17 14

On track for new track bleachers

BUILDING: Construction crews work on bleachers surrounding the football field. The administration plans for bleachers to be done by the middle of January.

The Hod Ray Football Field is going under renovation to revitalize the stadium area and add space for spectators. According to Assistant Principal Kim Diorio, the project began before Thanksgiving this year and is expected to be completed early next semester. “[The bleachers] are being replaced just for wear and tear,” Diorio said. “The old bleachers were showing signs of their age, growing considerably more wobbly with passing years.” Diorio said one of the administration’s goals is to have the ability to seat the entire student body in the stadium bleachers. “As our school grows, we want to make sure we can seat more spectators,” Diorio said. “The new bleachers, located on both sides of the track for home and visiting fans will hold 2348 people total: 1682 Vikings and 662 guests.” Diorio said that the bleachers themselves will cost an estimated $997,000. All of the renovations, include building a concession stand, refacing the track, and a new fence, should cost around $3.6 million supplied by the Measure A, which Palo Alto voters approved in June 2008. Text by Katie Ebinger, photo by Katherine Price

Library to become school’s central study hub after upgrade Whether you want to practice a presentation, need to speak with the principal or plan on checking out a new iBook, the future Palo Alto High School library will have it all. The library, planning on undergoing drastic renovation in the near future, will become a true “hub for student services,” according to head librarian Rachel Kellerman. Kellerman, who is spearheading the effort with fellow Paly librarian Debbie Henry, has been researching and visiting

both high school and collegiate-level libraries in the planning process. “We wanted to make sure that this new facility had spaces that telegraphed use,” she said. “Right now it’s just like a giant warehouse and there’s not much telegraphing of where to study.” Kellerman hopes to create a new silent study room with soundproof glass doors and space for up to 30 students. According to her, there will also be a few “project rooms” nearby, stocked with whiteboards and projectors for students looking to

Possibility of going lockerless The administration is planning to ask Palo Alto High School students how much they use lockers next January. According to Kim Diorio, Palo Alto High School’s Assistant Principal, lockers surrounding the Paly library may be removed during later library renovations. The polls would measure how the removal would affect students.

“We want to hear from students directly about what that would mean for them, what impact that would have on them,” Diorio said. Diorio adds there is a high possibility of removing lockers located between the 700 building and the library in accordance to construction plans. Text by Angela Xu, reporting by Leah Medoff

practice class presentations. For those hoping to simply read, the current English Resource Center space will extend. It will transform into a creative fiction area for students to lounge with magazines and books. Other features include a “wedge” space with independent study carrels and big tables spread out in the middle for work. “This space is going to be completely torn apart,” Kellerman said. “We’ll be completely changing lighting, acoustics, energy, air.” Though the exact beginning and end date has not been announced yet, Kellerman and the architects look to finish the project in about a year. Official blueprints for the renovation will be presented to the School Board during the upcoming School Board meeting, according to Kellerman. “I’m really committed to doing this,” Kellerman said. “It’s going to be really exciting.” Text by Soo Song





17 18 20 22

REFLECTIONS: Crystal lights, ornate red mirrors and muted zebra print adorn the walls of salon Parasol Beauty Atelier, where Paly junior and aspiring makeup artist Ellen Song interned last summer.



INCE JUNE 2011, Google has decided once again to try something new and at a new price: the Chromebook. Instead of making a substitute for something else that already exists (ahem, Google Plus), the search engine company made a “laptop.” Why the quotations? Well, as Google says, it’s not a laptop or a computer. It’s the Web. Chromebooks operate off of Chrome OS, an operating system designed solely around the Chrome web browser. That’s not a limitation, though. Google has an entire suite of online and offline apps so that the Chromebook can almost be a laptop replacement, especially at its price. More on that later. The best of the two current iterations of the Chromebook is the Samsung Chromebook, released in October. Upon looking at the specs of the 11.6-inch Chromebook, the “laptop” only has 16 GB of blazing solid-state storage. (Most computers run slower, physical hard drives. SSD storage is much faster: think of it as a larger, integrated USB flash drive.) But this is where Google pulls out a “BOOYAH!” as Google provides a free 100 GB Internet-based storage option for two years, and the user can get more as needed. It should be noted that Google throws in 12 inflight GoGo passes, so that you can be connected to the Web as much as possible, even on a plane. These two freebies together cost about the price of the Chromebook. Free “laptop,” anyone? Wondering what the experience is like? Fortunately, there are a couple of ways to

try Chrome OS. You can simply use the books a viable option for media consumers Chrome web browser, take the geek’s route as well as a great option for power users and download the Chrome OS image and (geeks) wanting a secondary computer for make it bootable to a USB or optical drive lighter tasks, such as web browsing. PC or rent a Chromebook from Palo Alto li- manufacturers should be worried, as the braries for seven days, a good option for Chromebook does exactly what consumers students who have some time to try it out. want. Chromebooks boot up in seconds, Google also sells the 11.6-inch Acer automatically update and sync to the cloud, Chromebook variant, dubbed the C7, for and run off of the best online host of apa ridiculously low price of $199, released plications. If Chromebooks succeed, we’ll in November. However, it’s much heavier see a huge profit margin transferred from and slower than the Samsung version, and PC computers to Google. The Chromealso has only 3–4 hours of battery life. The book puts more pressure on other PC Samsung Chromebook has known to have companies, hopefully making better produp to 6.5 hours of ucts for everyone. battery life. HonThe simplicestly, the Acer C7 ity of the ChromePC manufacturers is inferior in almost book is what will every way to the drive consumers should be worried, as Samsung Chromeaway from PCs — it the Chromebook does book. performs at a good exactly what consumGoogle’s serprice with ease of ers want. vices are essential use. The Chrome for the survival of OS trumps all other the Chromebook. Google Drive allows a computer operating systems, concerning user to sync any files onto Google’s fast web browsing: integrated Adobe Flash and reliable cloud (Internet-based) stor- and Shockwave plug-ins, completely free age, which can sync onto anything else that upgrades, and extreme ease of use. Other has an Internet connection. Google has companies do give free upgrades if the upgotten rid of the entire problem of los- grade is within the OS version, but if you ing files from computer crashes due to its want the newest operating system, prepare cloud-based storage. If you have a Google to shell out cash for that. All Chromeaccount, you already use Google Docs, Pi- books offer multi-user support, making the cassa and other Google services, making perfect family web browser. the transition quite easy. Want to get one right now? Sorry Chromebooks have hit the mark: tar- about it. The Samsung Chromebook is sold geting consumers who only want to access out as of the publication date, proving its the web, at blazing speeds, for a cool $249 immense popularity as a primary or secfor the Samsung variant. The price beats ondary computer. the 10-inch tablet market, making ChromeBut trust me, it’s worth the wait. v



HOPPING FOR NEW CLOTHES CAN BE DAUNTING, especially when you only have $20 to your name and everything at Urban Outfitters is at least twice that. But worry not, there’s another, cheaper way to look like a hipster without spending $50 on a white v-neck. Welcome to the wonderful world of thrifting, where 20 bucks will get you far, kid, and where you don’t have to starve yourself in order to buy that really cool faux-vintage concert tee from the 1970’s, but can get the real one for $5 instead. This is where we separate the serious thrifter from the weak-hearted (and stomached). Clothes that come without stains on them ­— yeah, those are for yuppies. We all know unidentified blemishes on our clothes only add character, and tell everyone that we either can’t afford new clothes of choose not to give into the “man.” v


WHERE TO GO The famous Haight and Ashbury in San Francisco is likely one of the best areas to get your thrift on. With a wide range of stores from classic 1950s vintage to punk leftovers from the 70s, you’re guaranteed to find something unique. 1. Crossroads Trading Co. $ (1519 Haight Street San Francisco) Crossroads is the place to find the best deals on clothes. Prices generally start at around $10 depending on the item of clothing. There is a large selection of jeans for all sizes and genders, as well as a wide variety of shirts, dresses and shoes. The downside with Crossroads is that many of the items tend to be out of style or last season so you have to search for what you want, but you might not always find it. POPPIN’ TAGS: Crossroads Trading Co. and Buffalo Exchange in San Francisco offer a variety of used clothes at low prices. 2. Buffalo Exchange $$ (1555 Haight Street San Francisco) My personal favorite shopping destination, Buffalo Exchange, also located in the Haight and Ashbury district of San Francisco, has one of the better selections of used clothes. The dress selection is especially notable and ranges from classic vintage (i.e. 1940s to the 1960s) to the more modern. Although it’s a tad more expensive (the average shirt prices at around $15), it is well worth it. If you’re looking for a greater reward for your time, this is the place to go.


SHOP TILL YOU DROP: Customers inside Wasteland in San Francisco’s Haight and Ashbury district sift through the many racks of both new and secondhand merchandise in search of seasonal and vintage pieces to complete their ever-expanding closets.

3. Wasteland $$$ (1660 Haight Street San Francisco) The most expensive of the three, Wasteland offers an extremely varied array of clothing choices for men and women. By doing some thorough digging, you’ll be able to find the grandma sweater you wanted for around $10, but you’ll be sifting through $200 t-shirts to find it. While shopping, be aware of the prices, and try not to try on something expensive if you can’t afford it.

HOW TO SELL Shopping at thrift stores can be easy, but selling your clothes is a different story. Here are some tips to make sure you get the most out of your closet leftovers. 1. Purge your wardrobe Every once in a while, go through your dresser and find the items that you don’t wear anymore, or never wore for that matter. Look for brands that are recognizable and that people will want to have. If any of what you plan to sell is damaged or has holes in it, throw it in a donation pile for Goodwill. If there’s a small stain on it that you can cover up with a strategically placed button, then go for it. 2. Look for seasonal items Try to find some clothes that are either still “in” or are timeless (like a little black dress or slim-fitting jeans). Be aware of the current fashion seasons — don’t sell summer clothes during the winter season and vice versa.

THRIFTING IN THE WILDS: The unique atmosphere of Haight and Ashbury translates into the distinct shopping experience that can only be found in the district.

3. Opt for trade not cash By deciding to receive trade, which is similar to store credit, in exchange for your clothes, you can get more money to spend on more clothes. At stores such as Crossroads you can get 50 percent trade as opposed to 35 percent cash, both of which you can get immediately at the store.






S THE GENERATION THAT GREW up watching “American Idol,” with its simple system of just singing and popular vote elimination, the flood of new singing-based reality shows can seem quite overwhelming. The set-

On “The Voice,” judges Blake Shelton, Christina Aguilera, Cee Lo Green and Adam Levine each choose the contestants they like the most and create their own team with the singers they feel have the ability to win the ultimate prize of a record contract. It is interesting to see the judges select singers completely out of their genre, such as when hip-hop mentor Green selects a indie folk artist. The show begins with preliminary blind auditions that give opportunity to the unconventional singers who are generally


up of these shows can be confusing to many viewers. While their contestants continue fight for fame, these developing shows fight for ratings from the bewildered public. The unique arrangement of these reality competitions sets these shows apart and makes both of them worth watching. v

ostracized in the music industry. However, the “not what I expected” face from the mentors can be quite awkward when they finally see the face behind “The Voice.” Once the contestants start performing on live shows, America votes for their favorite artist. The judges now take on primarily a mentor position, trying to ensure a win for their team. These judges are all musicians who perform during the shows. This allows for a more obvious connection between the mentors’ critique because you can see how they perform.

The four teams on “The X Factor” are based on age with the categories: teens, young adults, over 25’s and singing groups. The mentors also act as judges who give constructive criticism after each performance. The show begins with preliminary auditions and other various stages such as judges’ homes, where the singers must shows their mentor why they deserve to stay on their team. Once live shows start, each mentor coaches his or her team and molds them to discover their star potential. Collectively after each live performance, all four judges critique the contestant as well as the mentoring they received. After the performances, similar to “American Idol,” American viewers vote for their favorite contestant. Following the results the next day, the bottom two singers must face off in a “sing for survival round” and the judges decide who leaves the show. “The X Factor” is judged by record producer L.A. Reid, pop stars Britney Spears and Demi Lovato and the show’s

producer Simon Cowell. Both Cowell and Reid tend to take a business approach to mentoring while Spears and Lovato add fresh, young perspectives. The other judges give distinguished and interesting comments, but Spears lacks originality and tends to just go with the general consensus of the other judges. A comical aspect to look for is Reid’s killer head nods during the performances, which vary depending on his opinion of the artist. But wasn’t Cowell just on a show with essentially the same idea? Unlike “American Idol,” “The X Factor” takes into account what makes the contestant unique as well as his or her singing ability. During auditions, mentors make sure to judge based on the overall package of the person, not just his or her voice. For instance, during auditions, Reid criticized, “I think I’ve seen this kid 25 times already,” when the cookie cutter Justin Bieber-type auditioned. The show is a pursuit for something original, hence the title: “The X Factor.”

ON ANOTHER NOTE The downfall of both of these shows is the poor hosting. Carson Daly, who hosts “The Voice,” is a stiff personality who never seems to know where to be. His transitions are weak and he blatantly cuts off mentors just to keep the show on time. Daly’s most prominent quirk is that he talks from the side of his mouth which can be quite distracting to viewers. Khloe Kardashian Odom and Mario Lopez, the clashing cohosts of “The X Factor,” both have an overbearing presence over the contestants. While Lopez is composed, his plastered smile and over-sympathetic statements just seem scripted and cheesy. Kardashian takes a different approach. Instead of

friendly banter, she argues and attacks judges with stupid questions. For instance, when a judge feels that the song choice was wrong for the contestant, Kardashian will ask, “Well, what song would you have chosen?” Although it seems scripted, the judges are somehow never ready with a response which initiates a long pause followed with a mediocre answer. Overall, these shows approach an old idea in a new way. While they are both still experimenting to eliminate the faults, the talented contestants’ performances will have you coming back to watch week after week.


More than

skin deep



O THE SURE SOUND of November rain and 6 p.m. traffic, Palo Alto High School junior Ellen Song speaks with her hands. Her fingers spell out warmth in fluttering strokes, sweeping gold shimmer over an eyelid, coaxing lashes into inky focus. She works under a silver halo of light bulbs, above the shiny white floor of salon Parasol Beauty Atelier, whose employees have lent her the front room to demonstrate her skills on her friend. “You want to make sure that you thin and blur the edges really well,” she says, as her brushes punctuate the air with shouts of black and whispers of pink. Song doesn’t want these colors to look caked on. She wants her composition to look seamless — a subtle blend of flesh and fantasy. Most high school students don’t speak the language of makeup as seriously as Song does. But the number of enthusiasts seems to be growing thanks to makeup’s entrance into the Internet, bringing the contents of Vogue editorials to beauty SHIMMER: Paly junior Ellen Song demonstrates her artistry on Verde staffer Carly King. “It’s a little bit like painting,” Song says.


blogs and YouTube videos. With the realm of cosmetics at its most accessible, Paly makeup enthusiasts like Song utilize their passion for beauty in a variety of ways, from online videos to stage tech, elevating lipstick and eyeshadow to a means of transformation. NOT YOUR MOM’S LIPSTICK Junior Julia Hong, another makeup enthusiast, can’t name the exact moment she got interested in makeup. Hong remembers experimenting with it as a little girl sitting playing with her mother’s cosmetics on the bathroom counter. Nowadays a large part of her beauty endeavors take place online, in the form of her YouTube channel. “I think just being a part of the YouTube beauty community is one of the best parts of all of this,” she says. “Yes, girls who put themselves on the Internet talking about girly things into a camera does seem weird to some people and we do get teased a lot, but at the end of the day, we are doing what we love, and we are making money off of it.” Hong’s channel boasts over 14,000 views, with videos ranging from celebrity -inspired makeup tutorials to other beauty-related topics. The money, Hong says, comes from beauty company advertisements and the YouTube partner program, which allows users to monetize their videos by displaying advertisements. Paly senior Kaelyn Apple Grace also displays her beauty skills on YouTube, and spends around five to six hours a week working on or watching videos centered on various beauty-related topics. Her number one viewed video, she says, has around 9,000 hits. “I think that social media has definitely broadened the spectrum of how much people are exposed to makeup wise,” Grace says. TEN TIMES THICK As members of the stage tech crew, both Song and Grace have taken their love for makeup from the web to the Haymarket Theater, helping design and create the makeup looks of Paly actors. “The makeup’s going to be really awesome since it’s kind of like a twisted fairy tale,” Song says, regarding “Into the Woods,” the next musical being put on by Paly theater.

The process requires a lot of trial and error, according to Song. Before they lay product to skin, makeup artists spend time in the theater meeting with the actors and brainstorming, and then finalizing their designs. “When it’s closer to the play’s opening night, I almost live there,” Song says. According to Grace, stage makeup differs dramatically from makeup in its other forms. Whereas for a photo shoot a makeup artist might go two steps further than an everyday look, theater makeup might need 10 times as much product, she says.

“It’s one thing to be good at something, but this is what I could feel like I could see myself doing for the rest of my life.” ­— Ellen Song, junior “Theater makeup is a lot different due to the lighting and such,” Grace says. “There’s a lot of contouring you have to do, and it’s a lot of work making sure that the actor or actress doesn’t look washed out.” The theater calls for a more unusual repertoire of looks. For instance, “The Crucible,” the most recent Paly production, involved a lot of age makeup, Grace says. Song also experiments with the theatrical by playing with Halloween makeup. “I love wound makeup, like really creepy zombie stuff,” she says. “It doesn’t even have to be glamorizing, you know?” MAKE IT OR BREAK IT In addition to her work online and on stage, Grace has dabbled in business as a professional makeup consultant. “My grandma works as a fashion con-

sultant so I kind of knew how you’re supposed to work with clients,” Grace says. “I just kind of started telling people that I knew how to do makeup and such and then they would just kind of give me a call or e-mail me whenever they would want makeup done.” Grace says her favorite looks are the one she creates for photo shoots, including ones that she’s modeled for — she says she tends to be more creative when working on herself. Her makeup collection, which she says is enough to fill an entire bookcase, includes a portable kit for makeup freelancing. Although Song says her makeup collection still needs work, she has also gained professional makeup experience by interning at the salon Parasol Beauty Atelier last summer. In addition to folding towels and working the front desk, Song offered her makeup skills as a complimentary addition to beauty and skin care treatments. She had e-mailed numerous salons, Song says, and Parasol was the only one to e-mail back. “[Makeup is] such a competitive industry,” she says. “It’s kind of like make it or break it.” Unlike Grace, who ultimately aspires to be a horse trainer or competitive horseback rider, Song hopes to pursue makeup as a career. Song describes herself as creatively inclined, but otherwise can’t state


an exact reason for why she wants to be a makeup artist — it just feels right. “It’s one thing to be good at something, but this is what I could feel like I could see myself doing for the rest of my life,” she says. VIXEN Back at the salon, the rain outside ceases and every reflection seems brighter compared to the darkening sky. Song leans over a red-framed mirror and layers a color named “vixen” on her lips. She doesn’t wear this dramatic of a lip on a daily basis. In fact, Song doesn’t believe in always putting on a full face of make-up, saying she prefers to live a simple life. The girl behind the mirror is someone beyond the everyday, a small step into a different reality. “I like that fact that you can work with someone and they’ll look totally different after,” Song says, of applying makeup on others. “Or not totally different. Just enhanced.” v ANYONE, ANYWHERE: Above, senior Eyra Dordi models a dramatic eye look created by junior Ellen Song in a Paly computer lab. Below, Song stands in the entranceway of salon Parasol Beauty Atelier, layering on the first of two coats of lipstick intended to create an ombré effect. “You can’t confine yourself to only know how to put on makeup on one type of person,” Song says.



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FRENCH WOMAN WALKS HER son down San Francisco’s Castro Street, where the technicolor whiplash of flags in the sun fills the street with resounding cracks. One of the woman’s delicate hands protectively grasps her son’s while the other grapples with a taut leash, at the end of which her dust-bunny of a terrier struggles for freedom. A van scoots past them, leaving behind a cloud of hashish-stained air and exhaust that streams from the beaten-up tailpipe like the hair of some hippie. In front of Harvey’s Bar, a drag queen films a music video backed by two women dressed in clothing that seems to make a strong case for third-wave feminism to the few straight men on the road. “Excuse me, misters.” The mother approaches a pair of balding men walking up the street hand in hand. “Do you know where there is a good place to eat here?” “You could check out Market and Castro, there are some nice little places up there,” one of the men says. Leaning in closer, his partner brandishes a heavily ringed hand and adds in a grave tone, “If you don’t mind seeing a few asses and


cocks, that is. There’re some perverts up there who like to walk around without their clothes on.” The man’s more cautious attitude with regards to public nudity has permeated San Francisco’s Castro District, the historical nucleus of radical sexual culture in the city; whose liberality defines so much of our identity as residents of the Bay Area. District 8 (which includes the Castro) Supervisor Scott Wiener passed a ban on Nov. 20 on public nudity that prohibits displays of “genitals, anal-area and perineum” on San Francisco’s streets and parks, the stages on which free-lovers and gay protesters played out the unrestricted scenes of sexual liberation. The ban applies only to those above the age of five, and violation is punishable by a potential $500 fine, although violators will not be arrested as sexual offenders. Licensed street fairs and parades are exempted from the ban, which has seen unanimous support from the district’s neighborhood services committee. In an article that appeared in Slate magazine on Nov. 27, William Saletan states that the public nudity movement is an affront to the gay community and that it has falsely adopted the gay movement’s rhetoric in its campaign for “freedom of sexual expression

JUST PART OF THE CROWD: At Jane Warner plaza, little attention is paid to San Francisco nudist Lloyd Fishback. in all its forms.” An article by Joshua Sabatini that appeared in the SF Examiner on Nov. 5 quotes Wiener saying, in reponse to allegations that the ban is anti-gay, that homosexual men make up the “dominant demographic” of the ban’s supporters. The same article quotes Supervisor David Campos saying that he is “still trying to understand why [anti-public nudity] legislation was a priority.” Wiener’s ban, Sabatini says, has become representative of San Francisco’s rising conservatism and “has prompted soul-searching questions about San Francisco’s identity, such as whether tolerating nudity on public streets is intrinsically tied to what makes The City a destination for visitors and a leader on social causes.” These are the soul-searching questions that nude activist Gypsy Taub attempted to answer by tearing off her dress during a Nov. 5 city hall discussion on public nudity, spurring San Francisco lawyer Christina DiEdoardo to sue the nudity ban in a class action case on behalf of four of its protesters. The ban asks the core of the gay and sexual liberation movements, a center of radical dissent and the United States’ most renownedly liberal city to reconsider its definition of lewd behavior, not to punish the innocent. At the

same time, it asks lewd exhibitionists to accept the responsibility of tolerance and and challenges a definition of free expression that is so tied up with what it means to be San Franciscan. “[The ban] is an interesting experiment in acceptance,” says Richard, a San Francisco nudist who refrained from sharing his last name. “The line between ‘nude’ and ‘lewd’ is pretty ambiguous,” Richard says. He notes a disagreement in the legislation’s premise and its enforcement, saying somewhat sardonically that “It’s interesting to me that nudity is going to be reserved for the Folsom Street Fair and Gay Pride Parade [both overtly sexual events].” The French woman and her son sit down for breakfast at a bar overlooking Jane Warner Plaza. Unwrapping burnished silverware from linen swans, they don’t give a second look to the practically nude, wiry figure who looms at the hill’s crest like a mirage. As he reaches the plaza, a sequined butterfly on his loincloth winks in the light. “I think that the nudity on Castro is something that tourists really appreciate,” says Lloyd Fishback, a prominent nudist in the San Franciscan community, the butterfly over his crotch threaten-


“HOMOBILE”: A hanging bike wheel adorned with running rainbow flags, ornaments shaped like cosmic ellipses and pairs of Ken dolls in stiff, plastic embraces serves as street art in the downtown of the Castro District. ing to take flight on a passing breeze. “It’s iconic.” Averting eye contact and in a self-conscious tone, Fishback concedes that locals of the Castro may not agree with his lifestyle on account of some “bad apples” whose lewd exhibitionism has ruined public nudity in the eyes of many. Cars pass and a group of winos hoot in ecstasy as they beat on a goatskin drum and pass a cockatoo over to Fishback’s sunburned shoulder. Nobody glances up from their breakfasts or newspapers. “Nudity to me isn’t about showing myself off,” Fishback says, kneading the day’s warmth into a long scar that sits uncomfortably on his abdomen like a botched caesarean. “It’s not an exhibition show. To me, it’s about freedom of expression. I’m just out here enjoying the sun.” At a nearby table Richard writes in scrawling letters on the fading pages of his notebook. Growing up, he says he “was taught to be ashamed of [my] body, the expression of our most basic selves.” He vigorously taps his hand with a thick fountain pen as he recounts a childhood of repression. At San Francisco’s nude beaches, he learned to accept his body and himself. A blue-eyed, diffident child beat up for his long hair and pushed in the gym shower, Richard’s celebration of self through nudity means more to him than the free air tossing itself against his ruddy skin. To Richard, outlawing public nudity would


be an oppressive action against the expression of his most essential being. His metronomic thrashing continues. “We’ve laid a guilt and criminality upon ourselves that we should let go of,” Richard says. He delivers his philosophy without pretension. “I just want to sit here looking boring and writing in my book. Sex has no place in this.” Crossing the plaza, a woman with brightly dyed red hair warns her less experienced friends of the weirdos around who are “just here to expose themselves.” A man makes a joke about some street art to his partner. “It’s a homobile!” He points to a hanging bike wheel adorned with running rainbow flags, ornaments shaped like cosmic ellipses and pairs of Ken dolls in stiff, plastic embraces. “Doesn’t this violate the ban? There’s a naked one!” Richard’s nakedness sparks much discourse between passersby, but being the subject of controversy does little to shame him for his unassuming celebration of self. Only once has a reaction to Richard’s nudity awakened old humiliation. His pen-tapping crescendos, Morse code for distress, while he tells the story. “It was this young woman in a full burka,” Richard says, pointing his slate-disc eyes at the concrete. “She looked at me with such fear. She shielded her children from the sight of me with incredible urgency and shame. I felt sorry for her, even a little guilty

LLOYD FISHBACK enjoys the sun at San Francisco’s Jane Warner Plaza, chatting with a friend from the Castro community.

for awakening that kind of trauma.” Offering a wide smile and a Diet Coke, Daniel Bergerac, a perpetually grinning gay man in his early middle age, momentarily excuses himself from the terrace behind the dogwash that he owns with two other men. “I’ve really evolved on this issue,” Bergerac begins, gentle voice underscored by the crack tzzzz of the opening coke can. “It used to be a few guys, two or three times a week, sitting out in the sun. Nothing more.” Nudity in the Castro, like Bergerac, has undergone some change in recent years. “Since that time, we’ve had exhibitionists show up in genital adornments,” Bergerac says. “Constantly adjusting themselves, oiled bodies …they’ve ruined it for the nudists.” He mimics the shape of the area around Jane Warner plaza with powerful arms. “There are three elementary schools and one public library within three blocks of Jane Warner Plaza,” Bergerac says. “I think it should be a parent’s choice when they want to expose their child, if at all, to that kind of overt sexuality.” Bergerac mentions twice that he is convinced there is something for persons of every sexuality in the “tremendously accepting” Castro District, but conversations with his customers and others in the community have revealed nudist exhibitionism as an unsavory form of expression. “It is making the majority of people very uncomfortable,” Bergerac says. “It doesn’t add anything positive to the district’s atmosphere. There’s a lot of humanity that passes through the Castro on bus lines and metro lines, they don’t necessarily want to see a bunch of naked guys just... hanging out.” Bergerac chuckles, faint lines in his face creasing with pleasure at his innuendo. At noon in the center of the plaza, a circle of older gay men listen intently to a comrade’s tales of sexual escapade and declarations of social equality one night, conversing with a robust nude man at a bar down the road. “And I go back to the bar, and my friends all say, ‘Are you crazy? Why were you talking to that pervert?’” he says, cataractridden eyes full of incredulity. Around the table, a wide-set woman who joined in the middle of the story begins to absently weave bottle caps into jewelry. “This is San Francisco for Christ’s sake!” He eyes each of them carefully with the emphatic mannerism of a dissident. “This is San Francisco! There are no perverts here. I’m a pervert, he’s a pervert. We’re people, goddamnit!” So his story ends, his pummelling of the table ushering only apathy from his listeners. The wide-set woman tends to her bottle caps, which have been jarred off its edge in a series of clacks. The rest seem rather unaffected by his account, continuing to salute passing acquaintances and to stretch and curse arthritic ligaments. Across the road, the rainbow flag above the gaping subway station snaps against itself like a thrashing rainbow beast, a fighting testament to the obstinate liberalism of San Francisco. v


FRENCH WOMAN WALKS HER on Nov. 20 by one vote that prohibits “genitals, anal-area and perineum” from the streets and parks of San Francisco’s historically ultra-liberal district, which includes the Castro. The ban applies only to those above the age of five, and violation of it is punishable by a potential $500 fine. It will apply to neither street fairs nor parades, and has been unanimously supported by the district’s neighborhood services committee. The reaction from the radical community has been to question the necessity of legislation restricting public nudity. In the same article by Joshua Sabitini that appeared in the SF Examiner, Wiener is quoted saying that gay men make up the “dominant demographic” of the ban’s supporters. In the same article, Supervisor David Campos is quoted saying that he is “still trying to understand why [anti-nudity] legislation was a priority.” Slate Writer William Saetan feels that the nudist ban is the product of gay conservatism. “The rise of same-sex households isn’t making society queer. It’s making gay people bourgeois,” the article cites. Saetan goes on to support the ban, stating that the public nudity movement was an affront to the gay community and falsely adopted their rhetoric in its campaign for freedom of sexual expression. “[The ban] is an interesting experiment in acceptance,” says Richard, a San Francisco nudist who refrains from sharing his last name. “[The ban] is an interesting experiment in acceptance,” says Richard, a San Francisco nudist who refrained from sharing his last name. “The line between ‘nude’ and ‘lewd’ is pretty ambiguous,” Richard says. He notes a disagreement in the legislation’s premise and its enforcement, saying somewhat sardonically that “it’s interesting to me that nudity is going to be reserved for the Folsom Street Fair and Gay Pride [both famously prurient events].” The French woman and her son sit down for breakfast at a bar overlooking Jane Warner Plaza. Unwrapping burnished silverware from linen swans, they don’t give a second look to the practically nude, wiry figure who looms at the hill’s crest. A sequined butterfly on his loincloth winks in the light as he reaches the plaza, a mirage and its violet star in the afternoon sun. “I think that the nudity on Castro is something that tourists really appreciate, it’s iconic,” says Lloyd Fishback, a prominent nudist in the San Franciscan community, the butterfly covering his genitals threatening to take flight on a passing breeze. Averting eye contact and in a self-conscious tone, Fishback concedes that locals of the Castro may not agree with his lifestyle on account of some “bad apples” whose






probably since Neanderthal days.” ASCEND COUNTLESS STEPS IN THE Although originating long ago, advanced technology and the Cinemark theater in San Francisco, a movie premiere Internet have facilitated the growth of fandoms and worldwide pass hanging around my neck. It’s the day before the big communication and association among fans. Networks such as release of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II,” and I pass many excited fans on my way upstairs. As Tumblr and a multitude of fan websites have escalated these microcosms to an entirely new level, allowing international sharing I walk down the hallway, a man dressed as Severus Snape hurries of fan art, fan fiction and ideas. by. Fans clad in striped scarves and carrying wands line the walls, For many, fandoms are a great way to meet others of comand cries of “Expelliarmus” and “Expecto Patronum” float down mon interests. Junior Issy Kelsey enjoys the opportunity to conthe halls and into the theaters. These dedicated, exuberant fans all belong to a massive international community: the Harry Potter nect with people whom she wouldn’t necessarily meet in person. “Being in a fandom is brilliant because you feel connected fandom. to people that obsess as much as you do over something withMore recently, the release of “The Hunger Games” this out actually having to talk to them or make spring and “The Hobbit” this December friends,” Kelsey says. “It sort of feels like a both brought massive congregations of community but you’ve never met.” zealous fans to the movie theaters once Esterly agrees that fandoms can proagain to celebrate their love for their fa“It sort of feels like a vide a sense of belonging and community. vorite books. These devoted fans are all community but you’ve “Sharing an obsession with thousands members of fandoms, communities of of others over a band, celebrity or fictional never met.” fans committed to a particular television show, movie or series of books. ­ — Issy Kelsey, junior character provides [a] sense of shared values, belonging [and] inclusiveness,” Esterly Fandoms are commonly but incorsays. rectly perceived to be a new phenomenon Esterly says that fandoms can be beneficial — as long as they of the 21st century. Susan Esterly, a psychologist and Palo Alto High School par- are not replacing direct social interactions. “If [a] fandom becomes so large in your life that it precludes ent, explains that due to humans’ natural desire for community, other forms of true belonging, then I would say that creates a fandoms have existed for centuries. missed opportunity,” Esterly says. However, “if [a] fandom has “If you look at old Beatles films from the 1960s and see the its place among other collaborations that are important to you, screaming, swooning crowds of girls who besieged them at every opportunity, you will realize that this phenomenon has been evi- then why not?” One need not look farther than Paly to discover enthusiastic dent since way before the Internet [or sites such as] Twitter,” Esterly says. “The details may be different across history, but the ba- movie and television fans. Junior Sama Rao remembers seeing graffiti in Paly’s bathsic psychological principles underlying fandom have been around


FANDOMS: Paly students and others around the world proudly belong to a number of fan communities for a variety of books, films and television shows.

rooms with numerous references to Sherlock and “Doctor Who,” including “Moriarty is Real” and “The Angels take Manhattan.” Junior Abigail Schmit, a devoted “Doctor Who” fan, isn’t shy about expressing her love for the show and dressed as the 11th Doctor from “Doctor Who” for Halloween this year. “I watch ‘Doctor Who’ with my friends a lot of the time,” Schmit says. “I [also] share a lot of ‘Doctor Who’ memes on Facebook. It’s kind of turned into a daily routine.” Kelsey Wang, a freshman and dedicated Harry Potter fan, enjoys writing fan fiction about the series. “I write a lot of next-generation fan fiction and I also write a lot of romance,” Wang says. “I like writing fan fiction because I want to believe that the magic created in Harry Potter will never disappear. Also, I feel like there are just so many loose ends in the enormous Harry Potter universe that need to be tied up.” Issy Kelsey enjoys a variety of obscure fandoms for lesser-known TV shows and films, a couple being “The Mighty Boosh” and “Sons of Anarchy.” She explains that depending on which fandom one belongs to, one can meet a variety of different people and personalities. “These fandoms are different from the more popular fandoms because the subject is a little more dark and scary,” Kelsey says. While fandoms can be a place of community for some, they aren’t always fun and games. According to freshman Brittany Nguyen, arguments within fandoms, especially in Harry Potter, are not uncommon and can often get out of hand. “There’s the really heated debate that’s been going on for awhile about what a ‘true fan’ really is,” Nguyen says. “You’ve got the people who don’t believe movie-goers are ‘true fans.’”

Amy, a junior whose name has been changed, says “fandom wars” often occur between fans of different TV shows. She believes these feuds to be senseless overreactions. “There was an instance a few weeks ago where someone posted something that was hating on a few different shows, and she started actually getting death threats,” Amy says. “It’s kind of ridiculous, the extent some people will go to protect a show.” Wang agrees. She “Devoted fans who may explains that in the Hardiffer in so many ways ry Potter fandom, fans are the same in at least often argue over unimthis one thing: fandom.” portant details which can distract them from — ­ Psychologist Susan Esterly their love of the series. “I feel like sometimes we’re more intent on dissecting every little detail of the book and quibbling over insignificant things than just appreciating how the series in general has changed our lives,” Wang says. Nevertheless, Wang believes that belonging to her fandom has benefited her as a whole. “All in all, the huge Harry Potter fandom has allowed me to see different viewpoints and think about certain parts of the books in new ways,” Wang says. Esterly also sees the benefits of fan communities as an additional inclusive environment for high school students, so long as they don’t interfere with in-person relationships. “It surely is an amazing feeling to go to a concert, movie, or book signing and be part of that powerful audience ‘mind share,’” Esterly says. “Devoted fans who may differ in so many ways are the same in at least this one thing: fandom.” v




ATELY, HOME WORKOUT VIDEOS have been all the rage. Home fitness companies such as Beach Body offer multiple one to three monthlong programs designed to get you in the best shape in the shortest amount of time. With so many options out there, it is hard to know which tape is the most difficult, fun and practical. I tried some of the hottest on the market to help you choose the tape that is right for you. From strength training to cardio training, these workout programs offer it all. For those of you who are looking for maximum results in the


least amount of time, each video provides a suggested diet plan. While I did not try the diet plans (regular food is just too good), according to the videos, conforming to a strict diet improves results. With the holiday season coming up just around the corner, now is the perfect time to start working out in order to make room for all those holiday goodies that come with this time of year. v





Fun Level:

Fun Level:



I come home from school, throw my bag down and make my way to the TV. Popping in the P90x DVD, I begin my day’s workout. Each day, there is an hour to an hour and a half long disc that works a different part of your body. Be warned though, while P90x is a great way to increase your strength, the active tapes are not enough to keep you in good cardiovascular shape. As you exercise, Tony Horton, the class instructor explains the exercises and throws in quirky sayings such as “I can’t believe it’s almost over, makes me sad.” P90x is a great starting place for those who are looking to improve their health, but are not looking for the agony of Insanity, another home workout program. As Tony would say, “Do your best and forget the rest.”

It takes all of my willpower to finish the last 20 squat jumps as sweat drips down my forehead and into my eyes, temporarily blinding me. I glance at the screen hoping my torture is near its end, and then I remember: it is only the warm-up. Insanity is a 60-day home fitness program that combines cardio and strength training. It is more convenient than other programs, as the workouts are relatively short and do not require extra equipment. A time bar across the bottom of the screen lets you know how much time you have left in a given exercise, a helpful feature in pacing yourself. While the main instructor, Shawn, does not have as many entertaining catch phrases as Tony, the P90x instructor, Shawn forces you to “dig deeper” by insisting you can do it.






Fun Level:

Fun Level:



Jillian Michaels, a profession trainer, is all about deception. Her false claims draw you in and when you finally realize your mistake, it is too late. She advertises her video as only 20 minutes, when in reality, it is 27 minutes, which is really closer to half an hour. Her workout seems even longer than the clock dictates because she actively discourages you from feeling good about working out. She will remind you multiple times that her workout is the toughest on TV, or suggest that you should return to a lower level, which is not the best way to motivate an already reluctant exerciser. With that said, she runs a pretty effective workout. She milks out as much as she can from the 27 minute workout, alternating between strength, abs and cardio.

Based on the NBC Hit show “The Biggest Loser,” Biggest Loser — Cardio Max is the home edition of the show with contestants from previous seasons. Throughout the video, there are few breaks to catch your breath, so be prepared for your heart rate to soar, especially in later videos, as the tapes get progressively harder. Bob Harper, the male trainer, offers alternatives to prevent injury, and encourages you to try your best; however, he is not as engaging as Tony or Shawn. Jillian, who also appears on this tape, comes out of left field again when she never stops encouraging the contestants, a stark contrast to her personality in 30 Day Shred. She does a complete 180 from her 30 Day Shred video where she always seems unsatisfied with your level of work.




Text by JACQUELINE WOO Photography by JACQUELINE WOO and courtesy of ELLE BILLMAN


CONSIDER IT LIGHTED: Leukemia survivors and supporters begin the annual Light the Night walk to support the fight against leukemia.


and size at just five feet, Palo Alto High School sophomore Elle Billman shifts in the voluminous library seat with a smile. She places her large backpack in front of her and faces forward, attentive to the upcoming talk. Although just 15, Billman has already made the U.S. Synchronized Swimming team, survived leukemia and organized the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Light the Night Event at Paly. Light the Night aims to help those with cancer by fundraising for cures from family and friends. During this event, participants walk with different colored balloons around Palo Alto in order to represent their support for the fight against leukemia. Despite the numerous opportunities to involve herself in many events that fundraise for cancer, such as Relay for Life, Billman chose to lead a team for Light the Night because it was most closely connected with her own experience. Billman was diagnosed with leukemia at just age two. Although Billman cannot recall the incident, her family remembers the shock. Billman then recovered in the hospital for 65 days. Years after her recovery, Billman still finds a way to give back during high school to those who supported her throughout her hospitalization. “[It] was a way to give back,” Billman says. “I started volunteering [at Light the Night] summer freshman year.” While serving there, Billman eventually found out about the High School Challenge, a competition created by the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society for high schoolers to compete to fundraise the most money. Through the creation of Team Paly, Billman and other high schoolers entered the competition. “It’s a really good cause and [the Society has] donated a lot of money to Stanford Research and they’re finding new cures which is exciting,” Billman says. “There’s still a long ways to go so they need a lot of money to fund the research.” The specific Light the Night event that Billman planned took place at Paly. Thirteen high school students were able to attend and show support under Billlman’s team. Billman also invited her friends to

join, including sophomore Rebecca Moragne. “I participated in this event because a friend of mine who was the same age as me died two years ago from leukemia and I want to do everything that I can to prevent something like that from happening again,” Moragne says. From volunteering to walking, the support from team members and donors was surprising to Billman and her friends. “I am very happy with my achievements for Light the Night,” Billman says. “When I set our goal at $10,000, I was dubious if we would actually succeed.” When recalling the planning process, Billman remembers that the hardest part was getting people to donate to the cause. “We had a few people who helped out a lot and a few people who had trouble getting started,” Billman says. “We always need volunteers for anything to help fundraise.” Billman primarily raised money by contacting family and friends asking for donations. “I signed up on the Light The Night web page, and sent emails to everyone I knew asking them to donate to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society through my web page,” Billman says. With the help of Moragne and others, Billman’s $10,000 goal was nearly reached. “For Light the Night, I organized one of the two fundraisers for Team Paly,” Moragne says. “My fundraiser was through Mayfield Bakery and Cafe. Mayfield was extremely generous and donated a certain percentage of their sales for one day to Team Paly.”

With the work of Team Paly and her fellow planners, Billman’s group placed first in the Bay Area High School Challenge. In total, the group has so far raised $9,870, almost reaching the team’s goal of $10,000. Teammate and sophomore Amelia Roth is proud of the success. “I think the event went really well,” Roth says. “Hopefully in the future, Team Paly will have more students participating and walking.” Billman continues to hold high hopes for the cause and has decided to make Team Paly into a club at school in order to spread awareness and motivate others to be involved. “We’re making Team Paly a club second semester so we can fundraise again next year for the walk,” Billman says. “We hope to remain the top fundraiser and raise more.” Despite her busy and demanding schedule, Billman competes nationally as a synchronized swimmer. Just as little as over half a year ago, she competed against others in the nation to make the National Team after seven years of dedication and training. “Last May, I made the 13 to 15 national [age group] team for synchronized swimming,” Billman says. “At trials you had to place top 10 to qualify, and so I’m top 10 in the nation for my age group.” Reaching far in her swimming dreams has not always been a walk in the park. The time she puts in to succeed in the sport is tremendous, as demonstrated just by the intense swimming schedule required at nationals. Through hard-

work, Billman was given the opportunity to swim at the Olympic Training Center. “[Over the summer] we trained for four weeks,” Billman says. “Two weeks in Colorado Springs at the Olympic Training Center and two weeks in Connecticut.” Altogether, although Billman is accomplished in many ways, Light the Night remains one of her top memories. When asked about the future of her legacy, Billman has high hopes. “I hope to continue on volunteering at Paly until I graduate and can pass it off to someone else,” Billman says. v

MULTI-TALENTED: In addition to leading a Light the Night team, sophomore Elle Billman is known for her numerous accomplishments in synchronized swimming.


PALY PRIDE: Palo Alto High School is ranked as one of the finest high schools in the nation by US News and World Report.



ALO ALTO HIGH School and Gunn High School have consistently been ranked in the top 200 schools nationwide by US News and World Report, a considerable achievement. As of 2011, Paly was ranked 178th and Gunn 71st. Evidently, Palo Alto Unified School District is a successful school district, but what sets it apart? THE PEOPLE Herb Bocksnick, a teacher new to


PAUSD this year, attributes the differing levels of success across school districts to the level of parental involvement. He stresses that students here are no different than students in his original district in Hollister. “What’s different here is parent involvement and support,” Bocksnick says. “Here, it [effort in school] is kind of an expectation.” PAUSD Supt. Kevin Skelly agrees with Bocksnick on this point. “Parents are super interested in what

goes on in the school,” Skelly says. “They care about it.” Bocksnick feels his role in the classroom has changed since coming to the district as a result of heightened student drive. “I haven’t had to be the motivator here that I’ve had to be before,” Bocksnick says. Students who have attended other districts suggest that a motivated student body is one of the leading factors in PAUSD’s success. Loren Perkowski, a Paly senior who has also attended school in two Stockton

districts, supports such an idea. “I think the students here are more motivated to learn and succeed compared to my [old] schools,” Perkowski says. “The environment [at Paly] is a lot more welcoming for those who want to do well in school and take tougher courses.” Skelly agrees the student body itself may be the reason for PAUSD’s high reputation. According to Skelly, students in PAUSD are genuinely interested in learning. “I realize that a lot of the kids want to go to good schools, and that’s a great goal,” Skelly says. “But, they are also interested in learning, and intellectually curious to the extent that I can’t remember seeing in other communities.” This belief is generally agreed upon by Paly students. “Students out here seem more determined for success in and out of the classroom,” says junior Scott Powell, who attended Magruder High School in Washington, D.C., until this school year. Anish Haris, a junior, also thinks the student body contributes to PAUSD’s success. “[Paly] has a really great community that creates a positive environment where everyone can learn,” Haris says. THE ECONOMICS Palo Alto is located in the heart of Silicon Valley, an affluent part of the nation, which generates a considerable amount of wealth. According to Japanese teacher and Student Activities Director, Matt Hall, money is the biggest contributor to success of PAUSD. “Ultimately, funding is inextricably linked to performance,” Hall says. Hall understands that work on the part of the students and teachers can make a big difference, but at the end of the day, there is only so much one can do without the proper resources. “You can work as hard as you want, but… there’s a limit,” Hall says. Hall speaks from experience. At his

old school in San Jose, Silver Creek High School, the teachers had to organize paper drives because the school could not afford to buy enough paper. On average, according to the PAUSD website, PAUSD spends about $11,431 per student per year. This is in no way an extreme amount. According to the United States Census, schools in the District of Columbia spend about $18,677 per student. According to Hall, at Silver Creek, roughly $4,000 was spent per student. Paly sits directly in the middle of those numbers. Hall says that funding offers more opportunities for students. Conversely, limited funding can prohibit a student from reaching his or her full potential. THE COMMUNITY Besides the direct work of the district, the surrounding community also has a big impact on school’s performance, according to our sources. Langley High School, ranked 98th in the nation, is located in McLean, Va., just minutes from the nation’s capital and it directly feels the effects of Washington. Many government employees live in McLean and send their children to public schools within McLean. Ben Cross, a sophomore at Langley High School, believes the high-wired area of Washington, D.C., affects Langley’s performance.

“I think that the numerous amounts of government officials with kids in this school district creates a sort of hostile environment to do well in school,” Cross says. Kathleen Welch, a junior at Langley, agrees that pressures from the greater Washington area have positively affected the academic success of Langley. “Everyone is scrambling to be the most successful, because we’ve grown up in an area full of successful, hardworking people,” Welch says. In the case of Palo Alto, Stanford University and the city of Palo Alto’s focus on education increases the district’s success, according to Skelly. “That fact that we live in a community where there is a major, high quality university makes a difference; it shapes the community,” Skelly says. “I don’t think I’ve ever been in a community that is so focused on young people. Other places care about the schools, but not with the same kind of passion that they do here.” As discussed, there are several different factors that contribute to a district’s success. While certain advantages may help a district’s performance, it should be noted that they are not a deciding factor in its success. With assets come expansion and development, and the people of Palo Alto are fortunate to have such an amazing learning environment. v

A PRIME EXAMPLE: Anish Haris, who believes in the strengh of Paly’s student body, stands on the quad after a day of hard work at school.





HY WOULD a school that had just experienced a surge in popularity, whose applicant pool more than doubled in just one year, want to change anything about its application process? Ursinus College, a liberal arts school near Philadelphia, did just that. The New York Times explains the reasoning behind this shift in a recent article entitled “A College Opts Out of the Admissions Arms Race.” In 2005, looking to increase the size of its incoming freshman class, vice president of enrollment Richard DiFeliciantonio turned to priority apps, eliminating his school’s application fee and any previously required essays. Priority applications, also known as fast apps or VIP apps, are usually offered through email invitations and can lessen the amount of work for the student. They may shorten the required essay length or reduce or eliminate application fees completely. Students often apply through priority apps to schools that they consider to be “safeties,” enabling them to concentrate on the more involved applications for their


more desired schools. DiFeliciantonio believed an easier application process would yield more applicants. And it did — 2,688 more of them — but it came at a cost.

antonio decided that a smaller, more dedicated applicant pool was preferable, so he reinstated the essay questions and added a requirement to submit a graded high school paper. Now, the school’s admissions board wastes less time sifting through the applications of lessthan-committed students, and Ursinus will be populated with those the school can be sure are qualified “I decided to use priand enthusiastic. ority applications At the end because it was easy, “Every year, Urof November and and the school that of- early December, sinus received more ‘fast track’ [priority] seniors are unfered it to me I knew applications and ofder an extreme was one of my safety fered admission to amount of stress. schools.” more applicants, but Not only are they ­— Emily Hain, senior concerned with the percentage who accepted the offer fast-approaching went down steadily,” Jacques Steinberg, semester finals, but they also must also author of the article, explains. deal with the added strain of figuring out Students were applying simply be- their next four years. Due to the tediouscause they received a targeted email, saw ness of these applications, many students the simplicity of the application process, have been looking to ease some of that and decided they had nothing to lose. pressure by applying to schools via priority Though more people applied, fewer were applications. genuinely interested in Ursinus. DiFelici“I decided to use priority applications

PENNANT RACE: College applications can be extremely stressful, especially when they are completed in addition to school and outside activites. Priority applications give students an alternative to the tedious Common App, but applying through priority apps just to apply is not beneficial for either the student or the school.

because it was easy, and the school that offered it to me I knew was one of my safety schools,” senior Emily Hain says. “I thought it would be really nice to just get one done with early and know early whether I got in or not. It wasn’t that much work, and I think it’ll be nice to know at least that I got into one school.” Priority apps also put more schools on students’ radars, allowing the applicant more choices. “From my perspective, I want students to think about different colleges besides the top 50 that everybody knows, so if it succeeds in doing that and broadens your perspective of a school you haven’t heard of, I kind of like that,” Paly college advisor Sandra Cernobori says. “It definitely is advantageous for the colleges,” Cernobori says. “It helps them get their name out in terms of recruiting, and then if students follow through, it boosts their application numbers.” Although priority apps may seem like an easy shortcut to get into college, they are not without their drawbacks. For instance, they can create a sense of urgency. Priority apps are generally offered later than Early Decision or Early Action dates are released, but are due before most Regular Decision apps, making the process hectic and rushed. This cramped window in which they must be completed gives high schools even less time to complete their responsibility of mailing out transcripts and

tion from a school. However, schools such as the University of the Pacific, Rice, Tulane, Drexel and the University of Denver send out priority application emails to thousands of high school seniors around the nation, and receiving one is not necessarily an indication of their interest in a specific student. “In terms of demographics, I would say they send out e-mails based on SAT scores, so sometimes they’re based on your counselor letters. scores, but sometimes it’s based on geo“There used to be a lot of complaints graphic area,” Cernobori says. “So it might in my professional organization about have more to do with your ZIP code as these applications, [but] they have reduced opposed to your merit as a student.” somewhat because the colleges have finally Though they host a fair amount of gotten it together and said your part [the imperfections, priority apps have their student’s] can come in now and then the place in the world of college admissions school part can come in a little bit later,” for those with a small budget of time or Cernobori says. “It was when they wanted money to dedicate to applications. Priorit all early that it was really creating a lot of ity apps for schools one is genuinely interproblems.” ested in are The offer of a certainly conpriority application, venient and however, can often should be takbe misleading. Af“They [priority applicaen advantage ter all, they are intions] might have more of; however, tended to increase a to do with your ZIP code utilizing them college’s application for a school rate, and oftentimes, as opposed to your meryou previa school’s seit as a student.” ously had no lectivity can ­— Sandra Cernobori, College enthusiasm be misinterand Career counselor for is a waste preted as a of your time, mark of acanot to mendemic qualtion for the school’s adity. This is missions staff the dias well, and lemma simply conthat Ursitributes to nus College’s admissions board falsely inflated applistruggled with. cation and selectivity numbers. “[A] potential con [of priority appli“Would I recommend a student use cations] is that ‘VIP, you’re special!’ Cernopriority apps?” Cernobori says. “I would bori says. “Well that’s not always accurate. say if you’re interested in the school. But I think it’s a little bit of false advertising.” just, ‘This would be a safety so I might as Students can misinterpret ‘VIP’ to well do it’? You should be applying to colmean that they are part of a top tier of leges you actually want to go to.” v academics that warrant a special invita-





OING OUT FOR A RUN ON A NICE, quiet, dark night? Think again. Even in a city as safe as Palo Alto, assault still exists. Knowing how to minimize your chances of being attacked and if the situation arises, how to increase your chances of escaping is important, especially for young women. Sergeant Rich Bullerjahn from the Palo Alto Police Department sat down with Verde and offered his take on how to stay safe and fit.

WARNING Bullerjahn warns against using excess force. You can pretty much use any reasonable weapon to actively defend yourself from harm whether it be using hairspray or a boot or fists, but it has to be reasonable. Using excess force can result in major fines, and get you in serious trouble with the law. The misuse of pepper spray in California comes with state penalties of up to a $1000 fine and/or up to three years in prison, not to mention a possible felony conviction on record. This includes, but is not limited to using it out of anger, or spraying as a joke.

SELF DEFENSE There IS a difference between black belt karate and self defense moves! Being an expert in martial arts doesn’t guarantee you will be able to get away from your assailant. Bullerjahn suggests finding a reputable class, which is not hard in Palo Alto. Classes can range from less expensive basics, offered at places such as the YMCA, to pricier but more comprehensive full-on scenarios with mock assailant instructors, like IMPACT Bay Area.

JOGGING: A Palo Alto resident jogs through her neighborhood.



Grab a buddy, or make it two! Running in groups of two or even three is ideal. An assault is a one-on-one crime, so by being in a group, chances of you being attacked go down considerably. This also allows you to be flexible about timing your run. Running in larger groups at night may be even safer than running alone during the day. If you can’t find a friend, bring either your own, or a neighbor’s dog along with you: this will make you less susceptible to attacks.



UNPLUG UNPLUG If you’re running at night, and without a buddy, those ear buds can be a serious safety hazard. Being aware of your surroundings means being able to see and hear everything. This includes, but is not limited to, headphones, earphones, cell phones, iPods or other listening devices. If unplugging is not a possibility, try turning your music down low enough to hear any footsteps within a 10 foot radius. If, for instance, someone walks or drives up behind you, you want to be prepared should you have to defend yourself. Any listening device could get in the way of your safety, a risk not worth taking.

PEPPER SPRAY A few seconds is all you need to distract any attacker and get away. Pepper spray is available in retail stores in small 2.5 oz cans. iPhone cases with built-in pepper spray cans are also available in retail stores. Bullerjahn recommends carrying a can with you, as it is compact, and easy to carry. However, drawbacks lie in manufacturing and the effect of wind. If not used for three to four years, there is no guarantee the spray will work, and if you are in a situation where the wind is blowing towards you, it could potentially backfire on you. The best recommendation is to know your pepper spray well, and replace it often.

News from Palo Alto Online

Palo Alto WEDNESDAY, SEPT. 19 7 a.m. — Woman sexually assaulted while jogging through El Palo Alto Park

SUNDAY, DEC. 2 1:07 a.m. — Woman fights off purse snatcher downtown

Stanford SUNDAY, FEB. 5 1:45 a.m. — Female student tackled while walking back to her campus residence WEDNESDAY, SEPT. 12 1:20 p.m. — Woman sexually assaulted while walking near intersection of Campus Drive and Serra Street

TIME & PLACE The sun in December starts to set around 5 p.m. This is one of the drawbacks of winter; however, unless you plan on grabbing a buddy to tag along, the morning or before 5 p.m. are your safest options. If running past 5 p.m., and alone, find a safe place. Ideally, a location with multiple people doing the same activity as you will offer the most protection: a running track or a local park where you know many people will be running. If you can’t access these areas, at least make sure someone knows your location at all times, and your estimated time of departure and arrival.

Emergency 911 Palo Alto Police Dept. 1(650)329-2413 National Sexual Assault Hotline 800-656-HOPE 43



FARM HOUSE: Sigma Nu Fraternity at Stanford University hosts several parties every year. High school students are sometimes among the partiers at Stanford Greek organizations. What place do Paly Vikings have on “The Farm”?



IGH SCHOOLERS like to party. Every weekend, high school students across the country fill houses, backyards, basements and, frankly, whatever they can find, and party. Palo Alto High School students are no different. Just across the street from Paly is Stanford University, where college students unwind after a week of classes on dance floors at fraternity parties and sorority houses. Little do these college students know that dancing alongside them might be one of the several Paly students who attend Stanford parties. “When Paly parties are shut down, Stanford parties become a cool alternative to ending your night at like 9:30 p.m.,”


says Paly junior Beatrice, whose name, on other partiers], and they provide a nice like those of others in the story, has been change of scenery,” Claudio, a senior, says. changed to pre“It’s fun to meet serve her anonymmature college stuity. dents, especially Aside from “Paly students if they’re football lasting late into the should just stay players who you’ve night, college parat their own par- cheered for from ties are different the stands. I doubt ties. Everyone I’ll forget when than high school can tell they are a couple friends ones in other ways. “Stanford frain high school and no and I met Andrew ternities can orgaone wants them here.” Luck at Kappa Alnize concerts and ­— Kevin Anderson, pha last year.” themed parties, like While going Stanford sophomore to a college party highlighter parties [parties where atmay seem like a tendants arrive in white clothing and bring harmless adventure to students, fraternia highlighter pen which they use to draw ties can face major repercussions, includ-

Claudio shares Desirée’s sentiment ing probation because of alcohol-related that Stanford parties aren’t always more incidents involving underage party-goers. enjoyable than their Paly counterparts. According to Ralph Castro, manager “Fraternity parties can be a lot of fun, of Stanford’s Health Promotion Service’s but they’re really substance abuse only better than prevention proPaly parties if gram, a Greek organization under “I don’t go to they’re organized events,” Claudio suspension is not Stanford parties says. “Nothing allowed to serve because I don’t really beats being alcohol at events. need to lie about with your best This is a very unfavorable penalty to who I am in order friends at a party Greek houses used to party when there’s where everyone knows you.” to hosting parties plenty of fun to have in Paly adand consuming alPalo Alto with just my ministrators do cohol. friends.” not believe Paly “I was at a Stanford party ­— Walker Mees, senior students should attend Stanford with a group of parties. girls from Cas“Paly students should not be going to tilleja, and one got so drunk that an ambulance had to come,” Claudio says. “When college parties,” Assistant Principal Kathy Laurence says. “When Paly students the brothers of the fraternity learned she go to college they can particiwas in high school, they freaked out. If pate in the parties.” you can’t be responsible or at least act like Regardless, Paly is not you’re in college, don’t go.” Some Stanford students do not be- responsible for students lieve that Paly students should attend col- who go to college parties. “If students went lege parties, regardless of whether they can to a [Stanford] party diact like they are in college. “I did not go to any Stanford parties rectly after school on a when I was a Paly student, but since I have Wednesday and something happened, then been at Stanford, I’ve definitely recognized Paly high schoolers at parties,” says Kevin the school could do something Anderson, Stanford sophomore and Paly graduate of 2011. “Paly students should just stay at their own parties. Everyone can tell they are in high school and no one wants them here.” To prevent non-Stanford students from attending, some fraternities and sororities check for Stanford IDs at the entrance. According to Paly students, however, the system is pretty unreliable. “A lot of the time you need to bring ID, but it does not even have to be a Stanford ID because security barely looks at it,” Claudio says. Sometimes getting into the parties requires a lie. “To get into an average fraternity party, all you have to do is pretend you go to Stanford,” Desirée, a senior, says. “It’s fun and exciting to pass for a college student and get into the parties, but really, getting in is more fun than the party itself.”

about it,” Assistant Principal Jerry Berkson says. “But if it’s a weekend thing, it’s not our jurisdiction.” For some Paly students, not going to Stanford parties is an ethical decision. “I don’t go to Stanford parties because I don’t need to lie about who I am in order to party when there’s plenty of fun to have in Palo Alto with just my friends,” senior Walker Mees says. “Plus, if I go to college parties when I’m in high school, then when I’m in college next year, the parties won’t be as fun and new to me.” Aaron Zelinger, a freshman at Stanford and Paly graduate of 2012, echoes the sentiment. “Honestly, if you wait until college, college parties will be more fun,” Zelinger says. “Focus on your school work — not parties. It’s beyond worth it.” v

EASY TO SPOT: This is probably not the best outfit for a night at Stanford. “It is pretty apparent when high schoolers come to Stanford parties: they look around nervously as they try to get into the parties and the girls always have bags with them,” a Stanford freshman says.






ITH THE HOLIDAYS approaching, everyone is getting ready to enjoy the holiday spirit. With this spirit comes traditions and Palo Alto High School is no exception. Its traditions include Play in a Day, the Madrigal Feast and a post-finals snack of hot chocolate. PLAY IN A DAY Play in a Day is an annual event on the first Friday and Saturday of Winter Break. “Paly alumni, current students, and a few teachers gather together to put on plays that are written, directed and acted by participants,” says junior Julia Kwasnick, who has participated in Play in a Day for the past two years. “The plays are written the night before Play in a Day takes place, and then we spend the entire next day practicing.” Each group rehearses in a different area of Paly and gets two slots of time during the day where they can rehearse on the stage. “You really bond through Play in a Day because you’re forced to hang out for an entire day so it’s a great way to make new friends,” Kwasnick says, adding, “I like how you don’t need to be a ‘theater person’ to do Play in a Day, it is a great way to be involved in the Paly theater community without having to commit to too much time.” MADRIGAL FEAST The Madrigal Feast, put on by the Paly Choir, happens in December and costs $15 for students and $40 for parents. “I love performing for anyone, so I love the performance aspect of it,” junior Marcus Edholm says. “The people I have talked to who have seen it have enjoyed the food as well as the music.” Everyone in choir participates and wears costumes from the Tudor period to enhance authenticity.

SPREADING CHEER: Junior Megan Rohrer sings during a Madrigals practice.


POST-FINALS HOT CHOCOLATE A final Paly holiday tradition is hot chocolate on the quad after finals. “This is something I started last year,” Associated Student Body President and senior Jessica Tam says. “I thought it was a good way to decompress after finals.” When finals are over, relaxing with hot chocolate and friends is the perfect way to start Winter Break. “It’s nice because maybe you’re super stressed after finals,” Tam says. “It’s a good way to say you survived.” v














ICTURE THIS: A naturally svelte woman approaches another woman of thicker build. “Wow, you’re so fat! How much do you weigh? You should really eat less.” The receiver is offended, naturally, so she lashes out. This is understandable — why should she dismiss such an inappropriate interrogation without sticking up for herself ? These comments seem completely rude and out of place when posed to someone who is overweight, but when fat is replaced with skinny and asked of an equally underweight woman, they become acceptable. A thin woman is expected to absorb such sentiments as compliments. This is part of a growing trend in modern culture. With self-acceptance being preached by corporations such as Dove, with its Real Beauty campaign, one would expect a rise in approval of all body types. However, many (especially larger) women have found self-affirmation at the expense of those with different builds. A term that has recently surfaced to describe this phenomenon is “skinnyshaming,” in which women who feel pressure to be a certain weight when they aren’t genetically predisposed to be that weight sometimes lash out at those who are thin. Even those with purely benevolent intentions can unknowingly spew insensitive words. How many times have you heard a well-meaning person comment on a girl’s low weight or encourage a naturally lean person to eat more? Young people especially can feel enormous pressure to avoid judgment. No one wants to be “that skinny girl” who is, predictably, eating less than everyone else. Emily, a Palo Alto High School sophomore, whose name has been changed,

How many times have you heard a wellmeaning person comment on a girl’s low weight or encourage a naturally lean person to eat more?

has dealt with comments about her weight from a young age. “When I was in 7th grade, my mom started putting me on fish oil,” she says. “I didn’t eat breakfast [one] morning because I was really late to school, and I took the fish oil without eating and it made me throw up. People started saying I was bulimic.” Asking a girl if she is anorexic or inquiring about her waist size insinuates that you believe she is unhealthy — that she may have a mental illness. But people are skinny for many different reasons: food allergies, illness, athletics, or simply genetics. Jumping to conclusions about why a person is shaped a certain way perpetuates an unfair and insulting attitude. “People like to twist things and blow them up,” Emily says. A major component of this problem is the fashion industry. One often hears reassurances made to try to dissuade unhealthy diet and exercise habits: Those models are photoshopped. No one actually looks like that. Real women have curves. Although these statements may boost the confidence of girls who can’t relate to tall, slim fashion models, some girls do see their own body types on the runway. Others, led to believe that this build is unrealistic or does not exist, come to the conclusion that an underweight girl must be starving herself to achieve a BMI that low. Obviously, this mentality is unhealthy and should not be cultivated. Undeniably, those who are overweight face just as much (if not more) judgment and disgust from others as skinny girls. But even if you have ever felt victimized for your size or weight, don’t become part of the problem for another group. No matter how nicely one tries to package comments about the appearance

of an underweight person, they will never be truly welcome. Many try to comfort women who are recipients of “You’re so skinny!” or “You should eat more!” by telling them to take these as compliments. However, compare this to telling victims of street harassment and catcalls to be flattered that the perpetrators find them attractive. Neither sexual nor weight-related comments should be brushed off; this is equivalent to sweeping these important issues under the rug. We must face these misguided comments head on in order to eliminate them. “Just sticking up for yourself is really important, because if people see that when they talk to you about it, it doesn’t hit a soft point, they’ll realize that it’s not a sensitive topic for you,” Emily says. Everyone should feel comfortable with their size and body type. However, using any physical build as a scapegoat is unacceptable as a means to this end. “The healthy scale isn’t just one thing,” Emily says. “Just because you have more weight than me doesn’t mean you’re healthier than me. Everybody has a different homeostasis about what their body looks like when they’re healthy.” Every person, tall or short, thin or curvy, should try to accept themselves while also acknowledging the validity of all other body types. v





T’S DIFFICULT TO FOcus on school when you are dreaming of the two weeks of wonderful winter break fast approaching. If you are part of the lucky segment of the student population heading off to tan on an exotic beach or packing extra layers to make snow angels in a winter wonderland, you will most likely be reaching your destination by airplane. Let me continue being unbearably obvious — you will also pass through airport security. Ah, the lovely Transportation Security Administration. While everyone else is busy getting riled up about human rights and “pornoscanners” and underwear bombs, I’m just happy that my plane (probably) won’t get hijacked. Aren’t you as well? What is really so wrong about letting someone examine, usually only through an abstract X-ray version on a computer screen, the contents of your suitcase and yourself ? Oh yeah, and in the process of giving up this small part of your “rights” along with everyone else going through security, you could be saving your life and hundreds of others’ lives from a plane crash into the White House. True, we have spent a partially uneconomical value of $60 billion since 9/11 funding the TSA and seven out of every 10 weapons pass through the screeners according to Consumer Traveler, but close to no planes have been hijacked in a decade. The TSA needs to modify its procedures to be more effective and less hostile but as of now, it is doing its job.


If you’re not convinced, that’s fine! Good thing it is still in your rights to follow the trusty Google Maps and just kayak to your vacation in the Bahamas. I’m not here to force you to take the fastest and safest form of transportation. In reality, all I am asking is for the people who do travel in airplanes to follow the TSA rules so that everyone else won’t have to be held up for your stupidity. Plain and simple. And yet somehow, it’s just so difficult for some people. Take for example, the 3-1-1 rule. Everyone knows the 3-1-1 rule. In fact, let’s pay a visit to the TSA website to get the specifics: “3.4 oz (100ml) bottle or less (by volume); one quart-sized, clear, plastic, zip-top bag; one bag per passenger placed in screening bin. One-quart bag per person limits the total liquid volume each traveler can bring. 3.4 oz (100ml) container size is a security measure.” This policy was created in the face of a bomb threat suspicion by United Kingdom authorities that a group was planning on blowing up airplanes with an explosive cocktail. But still, every time I go through airport security, there’s one person who gets her bag taken aside and out pops some five liter bottle of shampoo. Sometimes, it genuinely is an accident. Even I must admit that I have almost forgotten to take out a water bottle until I am in line and see

some other kindred spirit chugging down his water. However, to those who purposefully try to sneak past their hair products and other liquids and then get angry when such things are confiscated… I really must ask, what is the point? Why did you bring it when you knew that it would be taken away? Their argument is always that they didn’t think the TSA would take it. Are you saying that you want the TSA to fail at its jobs? If you would rather have the TSA perform cursory, erroneous checks, you are pretty much saying you are okay with it letting the real threats, bombs and such, through along with your essential hair product. I don’t think you thought this through, buddy. The TSA is not particularly scary or unjustifiably invasive, and it exists for a reason. Defying its rules only causes unnecessary trouble and extra hassle for everyone around you. Please, for everyone’s sanity and safety, follow the guidelines set out by the TSA. Respect the rules and leave your colossal Garnier Fructis Intense Hold XXXL Volume Anti-humidity Shine Natural Melon Strawberry Cinnamon Mist Cream at home where it belongs. v

aching straight scouts about loyalty, friendliness, kindness and several other values of t raise morally straight men. I’ll do my best... to keep myself physically fit and morally teacher, Pack 6 parent and Eagle Scout Eric Bloom “One of the biggest concerns those values. A big motivation for many of the parents in the pack to take sen should be able to become an Eagle Scout because America’s like an op an Eagle Scout.” — Pack 6 Cub Scout Akitoshi Kuramochi



Text and Photography by EVELYN WANG

It holds scouts to a double standard, where gay scouts are told they have to lie about their gay Eagle Scout Jeremy “How can you meet these rules and discriminate at the same that I will be a moral person as what my society says a moral person is and I think Palo Alto wose parents will not sign them up for Scouting because it’s an inolnational policy and how we practice Scouting here in Palo Alto.” — Pack 6 an Olympic diver who’s gay, and if the judges let someone who’s gay in

“The national policy goes against the values that BSA claims they teach he Scout Law, it teachers prejudice and disrespect.” — ­ anonymous straight. But morally straight is not straight sexually, but it is of parents in the pack is that there are plenty of kids in this stand is to trumpet that there’s distance between ening place so he should have a free right. There’s

identity if they want to be welcomed. At the same time, instead of te time? They have a lot of rules that say what we’re trying to do is you can be moral and homosexual. — Palo Alto High School erant organization and Palo Alto parents don’t buy into Webelos II Den LEader Evan Lurie “I think [Andreto the Olympics, Ryan should be able to become



HE YEAR IS 2007. Palo Alto Boy Scout Jeremy, whose name has been changed to protect his identity, is about to receive the highest honor a Boy Scout can get and become an Eagle Scout. But beneath his uniform, Jeremy wears something that to the national Boy Scouts of America council is almost more scandalous than wearing no uniform at all. “I was wearing a shirt that said ‘Gay? Fine by me.’ underneath my Scout uniform,” recalls Jeremy, who is a gay LGBT rights activist. “The irony of it made me laugh a couple of times during the [Eagle] Board [Review].” This irony refers to the BSA’s anti-gay membership policy, which bars “open and avowed homosexuals” from joining the or-


ganization. The policy allowed the BSA to deny openly gay Moraga, Calif. teen Ryan Andresen his Eagle Scout award and expel him from the organization earlier this October even though he had earned all the necessary badges and completed his final project. According to NBC News, Andresen was expelled from his troop both for not meeting “Scouting’s membership standard on sexual orientation” and for refusing to proclaim a “duty to God.” To Jeremy, the policy belies a hypocrisy inherent with the BSA. “The national policy goes against the values that the BSA claims they teach,” Jeremy says. “It holds Scouts to a double standard, where gay Scouts are told they have to lie about their identity if they want to be welcomed. At the same time, instead of teaching straight scouts about loyalty, friendliness, kindness and several other val-

ues of the Scout Law, it teaches prejudice and disrespect.” For many parents and leaders of Palo Alto Cub Scout Pack 6, this is an incongruence they can no longer ignore. “How can you meet these rules and discriminate at the same time?” asks Eric Bloom, a Pack 6 parent, Palo Alto High School Social Studies teacher and Eagle Scout. “They have a lot of rules that say what we’re trying to do is raise morally strong men. I’ll do my best… to keep myself physically fit and morally straight. But morally straight is not straight sexually, but it is that I will be a moral person as what my society says a moral person is and I think you can be moral and homosexual.”

BE PREPARED: (left page, clockwise from top) 1. Cub Scout Akitoshi Kuramochi and Pack 6 parent and Palo Alto High School teacher Eric Bloom play Monopoly during a Pack 6 meeting at Palo Verde on Nov. 29. 2. A Cub Scout plays with an umbrella as his father looks over the resolution. 3. A Pack 6 parent helps out with board games. 4. Three Pack 6 Cub Scouts play a game as their parents look over the resolution. (right page, left to right) 1. Three Cub Scouts play a board game. 2. Pack 6 Cub Scouts get ready for the meeting’s closing ceremony. 3.A Pack 6 Cub Scout plays a board game.

Resolution as Revolution Unable to reconcile his beliefs with the BSA’s policy, Bloom, along with similar-minded parents and leaders of Pack 6, drafted a resolution earlier this November condemning the national BSA’s handling of the Ryan Andresen case and asking the BSA to reject its policy. “My goal was to force them to acknowledge that they have some obligations to us,” Bloom says. “Our troop should be able to have the rules that we think are valuable and important in raising boys to be moral and strong leaders in our communities. That includes not discriminating based on sexuality.” The resolution will be sent to the lo-

cal Pacific Skyline Council, which administers the Boy Scouts program for the San Francisco Peninsula, by Dec. 7 and aims to make clear Pack 6 does not share the national anti-gay policy. “One of the biggest concerns of parents in the pack is that there are plenty of kids in Palo Alto whose parents will not sign them up for Scouting because it’s an intolerant organization and Palo Alto parents don’t buy into those values,” says Evan Lurie, a Pack 6 Webelos II Den Leader. “A big motivation for many of the parents in the pack to take this stand is to trumpet that there’s distance between national policy and how we practice Scouting here in Palo Alto.” Although only the parents of Pack 6 have discussed the resolution so far, Lurie says the kids could join the conversation. “One of the other components we

talked about was taking the issue to the kids directly, asking them what they think about it, maybe asking if they want to draft the resolution themselves,” Lurie says. “A lot of these kids are accustomed to communal problem solving and many of them are in conversations with their parents and very disturbed that they are participating in an organization that is discriminatory.” Pack 6 Cub Scout Akitoshi Kuramochi, 10, is one such kid. He says the right to be a Boy Scout should be open to anyone, regardless of sexual orientation. “I think [Andresen] should be able to become an Eagle Scout because America’s an opening place, so he should have a free right,” Kuramochi says. “There’s an Olympic diver who’s gay. If the judges let someone who’s gay into the Olympics, Ryan should be able to become an Eagle Scout.” Dissent Within the Pack Although a majority of the pack’s parents signed on to the resolution, not everyone agrees with the resolution’s goals. As


COVER THE RESOLUTION As the leaders of Cub Scout Pack 6, we commit to creating an inclusive and accepting environment for our sons that will prepare them for the world they will inherit. Because of this we condemn the expulsion of Ryan Andresen, a Boy Scout who admitted his homosexuality, from the BSA. We call on our district and council to reject discrimination based on sexual orientation and to press Boy Scouts of America to publicly renounce their stigmatization of homosexuality. It is our job as parents and leaders to support our Scouts and help them grow up and flourish. In this we believe we have been let down; the Boy Scouts of America has failed to keep its promise to support us. For many of us, Scouting provided some of our most formative and enjoyable life experiences: camping and taking care of ourselves outdoors; learning to tie knots, canoe, build fires and cook meals. We recall swimming at summer camp, singing camp songs, and making friends that would last a week or a lifetime. The Scouting experience depends entirely on who is running the program. From its inception, Boy Scouts of America acknowledged this wisdom and structured a design to support local organizations in preparing leaders to educate and mentor youth. The role of the local districts and councils is to support us, the boys’ immediate leaders. As listed on the website ( and on page 14 of the Membership Committee Guide, a Local Council has the responsibility to: “Respect the aims and objectives of the organization and offer resources to help those aims and objectives” Thus, BSA and the Pacific Skyline Council are obligated to respect our aims and help us achieve them. Moreover, the Rotary Club of Palo Alto charters our pack, and their aims and objectives are succinctly illustrated by their 4-Way Test: Of the things we think, say or do Is it the TRUTH? Is it FAIR to all concerned? Will it build GOODWILL and BETTER FRIENDSHIPS? Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned? As Cub Scout leaders, and as honest and moral citizens, how can we ignore such a simple test? To deny a boy access to Scouting because of his expression of faith or sexual orientation is not FAIR, does not build GOODWILL or BETTER FRIENDSHIPS and cannot be BENEFICIAL to all concerned. We call on Pacific Skyline Council and Boy Scouts of America to help us meet the aims of our chartering organization and our consciences and renounce this policy of discrimination. It is wrong. It is immoral. We believe that now, more than ever, our boys need to hear the clear and simple message that Scouting does not discriminate. We cannot condone a Scouting program, with all its unparalleled opportunities for training and character building that rejects an outstanding young man like Ryan Andresen.

a result, the resolution will be adopted by individual parents rather than by the pack. This is not the only disagreement within the pack. Former Pack 6 parent Allen Bush withdrew from the pack even before the initial drafting of the resolution because he did not agree with the BSA’s policy. “The inability of scouting to separate the things that are still beneficial about scouting with other values that should be left in the home was too much for me to personally set aside,” Bush says. Although he agrees with the sentiments of those behind the resolution and would not hesitate to help them spread the word, he disagrees with their approach. “I would not [rejoin] because the only way to be part of that organization is to


pay dues to that organization,” Bush says. “Support them financially, raise their flag, salute their flag that represents their values at every meeting. I’m not of the belief that you can be part of an organization and say that you don’t agree with them yet still provide financial support and raise their flag.” Bush thinks a better solution would be to secede and regroup under a more accepting organization. “What will really cause change is when people drop out altogether and reform under a different organization that wants to fulfill the character-building and skill-building aspects of Scouts but do it in a way that anyone can participate,” Bush says. But Lurie believes the only way to effect change is to do so within Scouting. “I think fundamentally you can’t right

the wrong,” Lurie says. “The wrong is the thickheadedness, the daftness of this policy. And so you have to change the policy. And I don’t think you do that from the outside It has to happen from within.” “This feels like an injustice. And we can’t right the injustice by leaving the organization. We all believe in scouting. We all believe in what it does. If we didn’t, we probably wouldn’t care so much.” National’s Pink Elephant But for Garth Pickett, Lay President of the Pacific Skyline Council, this is less of an injustice and more of a misunderstanding. “Status [of sexual orientation] is not an issue,” Pickett says. “It only becomes an issue if they bring it into Scouting.” According to Deron Smith, director of public relations for the national BSA, the organization’s policy regarding homosexuality is as follows: “While the BSA does not proactively inquire about the sexual orientation of employees, volunteers or members, we do not grant membership to individuals who are open or avowed homosexuals or who engage in behavior that would become a distraction to the mission of the BSA.” Smith did not elaborate on the policy’s wording in an interview with Verde. According to Pickett, the national BSA interprets its membership policy as such: an open homosexual will not be removed, but an open homosexual who brings the issue of homosexuality into Boy Scouts will. Pickett says the BSA will not expel scouts of leaders who are merely openly gay. “A Scout can come out and say he’s gay, but he can’t say ‘I’m gay, I’m part of the gay club at school,’ and take over the meeting and do a presentation on gay rights,” Pickett says. But Lurie says this is not the case. “I’m grateful for community leaders like Garth [Pickett] who willingly give their time to a great cause,” Lurie says. “But Garth’s take on national policy is either savvy or a stretch, and likely both.” Smith stresses the focus on “distracting behavior” in enacting the policy. “Any member may be removed if they introduce inappropriate topics or behavior to Scouting activities,” Smith says.

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SCOUT’S HONOR: The Cub Scouts of Pack 6 attend a meeting as their parents look over the resolution. Fears and Concerns Smith says the policy exists because the issue of homosexuality is incongruent with Scouting’s goals. “The BSA recently decided to maintain its membership policy after a two year long evaluation,” Smith says. “The BSA’s evaluation… informed us that parents of youth we serve do not put their children — most of whom are under 12 years of age — in Scouting to address the issue of same-sex attraction in any way.” But Bloom thinks there is more to the issue. “My bias is it has to do with a conservative Christian view because progressive Christians have figured out a way to open their hearts and their churches,” Bloom says. “There is an age-old view that people believe homosexuals are more likely to be pedophiles. I don’t see this connection between being gay and being a pedophile.” Jeremy says these concerns stem from homophobia, pure and simple. “The policy exists because of fear and insecurities towards gay people,” Jeremy says. “Fear of a gay Scoutmaster touching a Scout. Fear of gay Scouts having sex on camping trips in their tent. Fear of finding out that gay Scouts are no different than straight Scouts. The same insecurities that lead to homophobia in any setting contribute to the institutionalized homophobia in Scouting.” But Smith says abuse is not a concern. “The BSA makes no connection between the sexual abuse, or victimization of a child, and homosexuality,” Smith says.


According to Lurie, the BSA worries the acceptance of gays into the organization will alienate the conservative churches who act as chartering organizations for Boy Scout troops and Cub Scout packs. “The biggest support for the policy stems from roughly three-quarters of all chartering organizations being churches,” Lurie says. “And a substantial fraction, not all, churches are inimical to homosexuality. So the national BSA is fearful of alienating a strong part of their base.” Smith did not comment on this. Bush fears Pack 6 will be dechartered for speaking out. “They know that it [sending out a public letter] will put them at risk because other packs have stood up against national in the past have been dechartered,” Bush says. “They [those in national] don’t take kindly to people doing that.” Smith says national responds to packs who do not comply with national policy. “Any time we are made aware of an inconsistency in the administration of a Scouting policy we work to reiterate the policy and ensure its compliance with local leaders,” Smith says. “Although rare, there have been situations in the past when charters have been revoked.” Pickett, however, says Pack 6 is in no danger of being dechartered. “Pack 6 is not alone in their desire to change national policy,” Pickett says. “We respect that, honor that and do not in any way want to get rid of that. We’re not going to decharter them because they want to pass a resolution wanting to change policy.”

Looking Forward The big question now is how far the parents of Pack 6 are willing to go. “Those next steps really are a wait and see,” Bloom says. “There’s a little division among the grown-ups about how much trouble do we want to make. First, how much trouble do I want to make for myself that I’m working full-time and I have two kid. Second, is this my battle to fight? And then there’s others of us who are like if it’s not our battle, whose battle is it?” Bloom says the battle is the hardest for gay Boy Scouts. “You have to deny yourself, deny who you are if you will adopt a persona that complies and then you won’t have any problems, but then you’re going to have to deny your most core part of yourself,” Bloom says. Lurie advises gay Boy Scouts to stay strong. “Don’t do anything differently,” Lurie says. “Take pride in who you are. Don’t veil it. And know there is a growing body of Scouts who think you can reflect the best in Scouting and you don’t need to change.” As unlikely as it is for the time being, Bloom says this growing body could result in change. “That’s what Scouting needs to do,” Bloom says. “We need to have a referendum. “Let’s have all the troops, all the packs come forward and say how are we going to stand on this? It’s no longer this issue that you get to decide for us and we just toady along.” v




FIGHTING FOR EQUALITY: Gay boy scout Ryan Andresen’s resistance to an oppressive policy represents a courage more worthy of praise than punishment.

NSIDE THE CHURCH, A PASTOR delivered his sermon with dramatic, revivalist passion. It was the night of a sub-tropical rainstorm. Fruit hung heavily like garnets from the trees. It was my third week in Paraguay. An angular face across the pew bore curious eyes into the side of my deliberately turned head. He always asked the most questions about United States, about what we were okay with there, where our boundaries were, if our pastors ever talked about the sin of homosexuality. That night in the church marked the first time I have ever felt shame for my sexuality. Not because of the preacher’s sermon, but because of the apathy I had previously expressed about being gay. Hiding behind Palo Alto’s liberalism, I had allowed myself to shrug off my homosexuality, reserving it for the dramatic irony of my own self-deprecating humor. Outside the church, homosexuality was silenced in Paraguay, made a non-issue. I had treated it the same way in my life, dismissing my being gay as insignificant and calling this delusion profound self-acceptance. The October decision of the Boy Scouts of America to deny gay scout Ryan Andresen the rank of Eagle Scout drew the same reaction from me as the night in the church. It tore through the politics surrounding the marriage issue and joined the institutional bigotry of the conservative church with a symbol of good samaritanship, the Boy Scout, making the civil issue of the gay community accessible. It spoke directly to the American community. The message was clear: Andresen’s courage is not only undeserving of a badge, it is diametrically opposed to heroism, to Americanism. It was an isolating message, that made a public distinction between Andresen and that all-too-banal system of “American family values” that seems to have replaced reason in the argument of gay equality. The BSA’s reaction was to claim that it would tolerate silent homosexuality, the equivalent of saying “don’t push the gay

agenda into our sacred value system and it won’t get pushed out.” The desire to act on such a personal “non-issue” as homosexuality had never so much as occurred to me, but the Andresen case is one of those instances in American life that make my kind of apathy problematic, that reveals it as deeply self-centered. By measuring the dramas of gay life against my priviliged one, I had rejected ownership of an experience receding from prominence in the civil rights arena on the basis that homosexuality is largely tolerated. Today, the collective reaction towards the gay community has not moved forward from the fight for tolerance. It floats between the halfway victory of tolerance and the unwelcome silence that comes holding tolerance’s hand. Actions against equality go against tolerance by definition, but raise no incendiary response. Perhaps they shouldn’t. There should, however, be a total rejection of the “tolerance” idea. The general attitude has been that tolerance is still a big enough success, that asking for total equality would be unreasonable. Tolerance pacifies and pays lip-service to the idea of equality, to the idea that Andresen is even more deserving of a badge for upholding the secular moral code of equality than he would be for some community project. If there is tolerance, there is no conflict, but there is no discourse either. The response to decisions like this one by the Boy Scouts of America reveal that tolerance takes the problem away without giving a solution. The case reminded me that my first world liberal life was not so different than what I had encountered in South America. The Andresen case attacked the delusion that being gay meant nothing more to me than the genders of the wax figures on a future civil-union cake or the genetic composition of children I wasn’t planning on, that it was not a quality of my life directly tied to my political rhetoric. It re-problematized a social issue that I had taken as solved and thus ignorable. It put me firmly behind the struggle for equality with no irony or self-deprecation. v



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ALO ALTO HIGH SCHOOL IS ONE of the few high schools in the country with a glassblowing studio. Students and adults alike take advantage of the year-round workshops and classes, as well as the frequent glass ornament and pumpkin sales. Lesser known, however, is the unique sculpture program, in which students use traditional and new media to explore threedimensional artistic expression. They learn several techniques including ceramic sculpture, pottery and glass-blowing. v LEFT: Senior Eduardo Guayo paints his superhero sculpture. FAR LEFT BOTTOM: Ceramics and sculpture instructor Steve Ferrera adds finishing touches to a glass ornament. They were sold outside the Tower Building on Dec. 12. BOTTOM LEFT: Senior Emily Hain sprays her sculpture’s wings. BELOW: Kathleen Elliot, a guest presenter and professional lamp maker, demonstrates how to make a triangular glass bead. RIGHT: Senior Peter Laminette bends over a potter’s wheel, gently but firmly molding the spinning clay into a perfectly smooth bowl. TOP RIGHT: Junior Caroline Leichter carves out an enlarged penny. ABOVE: A glass flower made by a ceramics student.




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T 11:30 A.M., THE TRILL OF A siren blurts out over the teacher’s last-minutepertinent-statement. Uncertainty and skepticism fill the classroom. The silent yet collective, resounding question: will INfocus actually be on air or will lunch be 5 minutes longer? Students reluctantly plop back into their seats. INfocus has pulled through. But what is this? Who is this fair-haired, spry, youthful yet well-spoken underclassman perched behind the anchor table? It is none other than Palo Alto High School freshman Griffin Carlson. “The anchor’s job is to be the face of the show,” INfocus reporter Alexia Garcia says.

SEEING EYE TO EYE: Griffin Carlson captures footage for a video segment that will eventually broadcast on INfocus.


The privilege of anchorman is usually earned through commitment and a devotion to spreading awareness about pertinent events. “If viewers feel like the anchors are not excited or are not well prepared for their job, then students will not watch the show,” she says. Carlson is largely influenced by Paly graduate of 2011, Wes Rapaport, who he calls a “reporting legend.” Carlson describes his influences as confident and experienced peers who made a mark on the Paly journalism scene, such as Ethan Cohen and Wes Rapaport among others. “Working with people like Wes inspired me,” Carlson says. Whether it be in the camera’s eye, on the set, or on the field, Carlson is attracted to the idea of making a ripple in the student body and making a name for himself. In addition, Carlson gleaned fundamental skills after working with the Jordan Middle Scool’s “Jordan Television” news broadcast class and the Palo Alto Media Center. Carlson had a unique “People I never knew said rise through the ranks in ‘good job’ and were inter- that he was ested in the stories that I able to learn the ropes of presented.” ­—Griffin Carlson, freshman b r o a d c a s t jour nalism in less than six months time. Carlson accumulated skills through work directly on the field, such as his film segment covering the departure of the Hobees restaurant. Along the way, he enjoyed the encounters with individuals that he would not have otherwise met. Although he just joined InFocus less than a semester ago, it didn’t take long before Carlson gained a shot at the news anchor role. “I was hoping to become an anchor but didn’t think that I would actually get a spot this early,” Carlson says. When the opportunity came around, however, Carlson expressed no hesitations. “Rowan [an INfocus anchor] wasn’t feeling well, and the INfocus staff asked me if I wanted to be anchor.” Carlson says, “I thought, ‘well, why not?’”

Carlson expresses satisfaction with his performance on air, particularly after he was met with positive feedback. “People I never knew said ‘good job’ and were interested in the stories that I presented,” Carlson says. In the work environment, Carlson displays an energetic yet focused work ethic despite his tender age. As he checks on the progress of his current segment through the corner of his eye, Carlson says that he was quick to begin creating video segments upon starting INfocus and diligent about adhering to proper guidelines. Come production week, the young reporter can be found scurrying about the lab. Although one may suspect that he is training for his upcoming cross-country meet by the way he buzzes around, in fact, he is efficiently shifting between his computer and his editors, making edits and alterations to his news seg“Everyone loved INfoments. cus when it was funny. “ProducI think that we should tion week is actually my favorite bring back the humorpart of the whole ous segments.”­ — Griffin Carlson, freshman process,” Carlson says. A brief episode of scoffing, eye rolling and grumbles commence among some nearby staff members. Carlson’s efficient nature makes him well-suited for the cooperative and active climate of production cycles. “Productions are times when the staff is able to bond and work together. It creates more of a family feeling,” Garcia says. By maintaining connections with INfocus alumni on a monthly basis, Carlson keeps himself up to date with technical and

journalistic strategies. Carlson often consults current and veteran INfocus staff members, either to shoot the breeze or to discuss segment-making software. Carlson also benefitted from his relationships with fellow staff members, such as senior Arthur Rogers, who has mentored Carlson in the video segment-creating process. “Arthur helped me to understand what to do when I was starting out,” Carlson says, adding “I try to work efficiently, I’m not afraid to ask for help since I know that I’m not the only one who doesn’t know what’s going on.” Carlson hopes that, like his upperclassmen peers, he too will eventually be able to work at a higher position and employ what he feels are necessary changes to the news network. “Everyone loved INfocus when it was funny. I think that we should bring back the humorous segments,” says Carlson Carlson believes that Infocus has the potential to inject more humor into their broadcasts as well as the Paly community. In addition, he plans to address technical errors, a feat he feels won’t be too difficult in light of the soon-to-be-completed media building. Senior staff members have faith in their freshman journalist. In the meantime, he has plenty to learn and offer the INfocus team and Paly community. “I am confident that he is the kind of person INfocus needs to function efficiently and effectively,” senior INfocus staff member Rowan Thompson says. “He is positive and productive, exactly what INfocus needs.” v STUDIOUS IN THE STUDIO: Part filmographer, part video editor and now part anchorman, Griffin Carlson embodies the attributes of multiple broadcast-journalism positions. Here, he works attentively on his video segment.





HY DID TWO Palo Alto High School students decide to start a YouTube channel — and how did it garner close to half a million subscribers and 24 million video views? For Paly junior Freddy Kellison-Linn and senior Adrian D’Urso, the answer is simple. “We originally decided to start the YouTube channel as something fun, because we both had iPod Touches and enjoyed them,” Kellison-Linn says. In 2009, Kellison-Linn and his partner D’Urso, started their YouTube channel, iPodUplink, and began to post iPod, iPhone,


and iPad applications reviews, news updates, and tutorials on jailbreaking, a technique that expands and unlocks Apple software using an app called Cydia. Since then, the two have uploaded about 670 videos to YouTube and have started a website,, to feature their content. They have gained a considerable amount of recognition for their work. When they started the channel, they had no idea they would be so popular. But many people want to jailbreak their Apple products. Because jailbreaking is not an easy thing to do, there is a large demand for instructions. When they need to make a video, D’Urso and Kellison-Linn follow a fairly

simple process. “We make videos when we find new material that is notable enough,” D’Urso says. To them, notable material is defined as content that they believe their viewers will find entertaining. Both of them have camera set-ups and Final Cut Pro, a video editing software, at home, so they can film a video whenever they see the need. “We film it, then edit it,” D’Urso says. “It usually takes about 30 to 60 minutes to make an average video.” According to Kellison-Linn, after about a year, the channel only had about 1,000 subscribers. But once they created the website, views and success spiked rapidly. On their website, content is presented

and easier to understand template than on YouTube. Their popularity has grown almost exponentially. Less than a year ago, the two only reached 100,000 subscribers. By about mid-November of 2012, the channel topped 400,000 subscribers. According to, a website that helps people place ads and tracks site traffic, the site gets about one million monthly visitors. The channel currently has just over 410,000 subscribers and 24 million video views. All together, nearly six and a half times as many people as live in Palo Alto, or half of the population of San Francisco watch their content. Their most popular video, from 2011, is just short of 700,000 views. Several of their other videos have hundreds of thousands of views. On the other hand, some have as little as 10,000. D’Urso attributes the popularity of certain videos to their relevance and importance to the public. A tutorial on how to jailbreak a new software update may get hundreds of thousands of views, while a review of a certain jailbreak may get less. Kellison-Linn and D’Urso make up part of the young community of individuals like Ray William Johnson and Ryan Higa, who have harnessed the power of the YouTube. Formerly normal people like Johnson, Higa (NigaHiga), Jenna Marbles, Ian Hecox and Anthony Padilla (Smosh), and Phillip Defranco (Sxephil) have all gained considerable fame and fortune through the YouTube videos they have created. All have several million subscribers who watch their videos regularly, with Ray William Johnson currently topping the charts at about 6.3 million subscribers. Rather than treating it as a hobby, these creators make a living off the videos they produce. YouTube pays people who become YouTube partners and allow their videos to be monetized. This means that whenever somebody views a partner’s video, there will be an advertisement. The more views a video has, the more expensive the ads it runs, and the more money the partner makes. The catch is, if you don’t get any views, you will not make money. According to D’Urso, the average rate of pay is about $2.50 per thousand views, which may not seem like a lot. But when

your video has a million views, that means you are making $2,500 from that video. Many YouTube stars have also delved into other ventures in order to expand their businesses and turn more of a profit. Luckily for D’Urso and Kellison-Linn, the ads on their website have become a major source of their income, and over the years, they have made a considerable amount of money. D’Urso, ever modest, did not share a figure, but hinted at the actual amount.

“We earn more money (through our website and channel) than any other high school jobs,” he says. With eyes on the future, the success the two have had allows them enough funding to do almost whatever they want. In September, D’Urso brought an iPhone 5 onto his roof, and dropped it to test its durability. And whenever a new Apple device is released, D’Urso and Kellison-Linn pre-order it so that can upload a review as soon as possible. When asked about the future direction of the channel and the website, KellisonLinn says they still have some time to grow, develop, and tweak. “We still have a lot of space to grow into, especially as we get more experienced and can produce better content,” KellisonLinn says. Freddy Kellison-Linn and Adrian D’Urso are on a roll, so expect more top notch content to come. v

CYDIA: Kellison-Linn and D’Urso flash the logo of Cydia, the software application used for jailbreaking Apple products. On the previous page, D’Urso gives a tutorial on how to install the newest version of Cydia in his video “Jailbreak 6.0.1 Tethered/ Untethered iPhone 4, 3GS, iPod Touch Redsn0w.”






ALO ALTO HIGH School students can boast about living in the town where Hewlett Packard and Apple were founded. For the fall semester of this year, junior Shivonne Logan traded CEOs for Senators and Google offices for the White House. Since August, Logan has been living on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., just a few minutes away from the Capitol, Supreme Court and the Library of Congress. This September, Logan joined 23 other students at The School for Ethics and Global Leadership, a semester-long program for high school juniors. Located in the nation’s capital, the program is open to students from all over the world. “The main intent of the program is to shape students into leaders who take ethics into account when they are making

decisions in their future,” Logan says. “We are here to learn more about ourselves and learn from each other, as well as to hear from various leaders who speak at the school.”

“We are here to learn more about ourselves and learn from each other, as well as to hear from various leaders who speak at the school.” ­— Shivonne Logan, junior After hearing about senior Tia Rabinovitz’s semester at The Mountain School,

a semester school located on a farm in rural Vermont last year, Logan was inspired to look at similar programs online. “I actually found SEGL by accident online,” Logan says. “I was looking at Tia’s program and I thought it was an awesome idea. I Googled other semester schools and this one was perfect for me.” Upon discovering the program her sophomore year, Logan proposed the idea to her parents, who were both encouraging of the idea. “Shivonne discovered SEGL on her own, after hearing about a friend’s fabulous experience with a different semester school. Given Shivonne’s interest in public policy and global issues, SEGL seemed like a very natural fit for her,” Logan’s mother Judy Logan says. “Shivonne’s father and I have tried to encourage our children to find and pursue their passion. With that in mind, we supported Shivonne’s decision to

GUEST SPEAKERS: Shivonne Logan, middle left, listens to speaker Aaron David Miller give a talk about his experiences working in the United States Department of State and on the U.S. Advisory Council of Israel Policy Forum.

apply to SEGL.” The application process was similar to that of other boarding and private schools. “The application consists of five short essay questions, two teacher recommendations, paperwork, academic transcripts and a few short answer questions for your parents,” Logan says. During a recent visit to Palo Alto, Logan reflected on the differences between her new life in D.C. and life in California. Most striking to her were the different mindsets of students at Paly and students at SEGL. “It was a huge culture shock coming here [for Thanksgiving], because it is vastly different from Paly,” Logan says. “The East Coast has a lot of differences from the West, including different eating habits and different ideas on politics. In comparison to Paly, I would say that the main differences are the focus on learning rather than

getting good grades, and the size. We all care about our grades, but our goal is to learn more about ourselves and how to be strong, ethical leaders.” Living in Washington provides an amazing array of opportunities for students, like Logan, who have an interest in pursuing politics as a career. “The people who speak at the school are incredibly interesting, and of course we live across the street from the Supreme Court, which is cool except when people like neo Nazis campaign there,” Logan says. Logan’s interest in journalism, politics and activism brought her to SEGL. “I am very interested in women’s rights internationally,” Logan says. “I would like to work in micro-finance in Africa, possibly in Ethiopia or Rwanda, and also hope to work to help rehabilitate former child sex slaves in Southeast Asia. My goal is to eventually become a U.S. ambassador. “I’m also really interested in journalism, and would like to work to expose and write about little known ethical and human rights violations, similarly to what Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn are doing at the New York Times.” Logan hopes that her time spent at SEGL will help her in her future, no matter what career she chooses. “Leadership skills help you everywhere, and the connections I’ve made here will prove to be invaluable in the future,” Logan says. “I now feel informed enough to have a strong basis to solve any ethical dilemma I am faced with in my future career. My thinking and public speaking have been developed, and I feel much better prepared for any possible career.” Overall, Logan feels the experience has been eye-opening. “I’m going to come back to Paly with very different perspectives from when I left,” Logan says. “Some of my beliefs have been further reinforced, and many of my ideas have changed. “To any sophomores or freshmen who are interested in any sort of leadership role in the future, I would encourage you to take a look at SEGL. It has truly changed my life.” v


6:45 a.m. Wake up and get ready for the day. SEGL students eat breakfast together in the dorms before leaving for school. 8:05 a.m. Leave for school. SEGL students use the local metro, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority as their primary mode of transportation. 9:15 a.m. Classes start. In addition to normal junior classes like US History and English, the curriculum is supplemented with guest speakers. 12:00 p.m. Students eat lunch and have a free hour. 1:00 p.m. Classes resume. In the afternoons, along with classes, students work with global issues and policy documents. 4:30 p.m. School ends for the day. Once a week, the SEGL students visit local elementary schools to read to underprivileged kids and teach sports. After-school time is dedicated to homework, writing policy documents, or spending time in the Capitol building. 7:30 p.m. Group dinner starts. Passionate dinnertime discussions often revolve around ethical issues. 11:30 p.m. After an evening of hard work, students head to bed.





Text by SOO SONG Photography by CHARU SRIVASTAVA


ACHEL KELLERMAN LIVES FOR STORIES. “I like to put myself in a situation where I can tell stories, experience them and hear other people’s,” she says. “That’s what I think makes life interesting and fun.” To the six-year Palo Alto High School librarian, stories come in more forms than just books and writing. They can be experiences like traveling to the London Olympics and exploring different career paths, or what she personally values: searching for and finding a personal “space” where you feel at peace. Across a large bulletin board in her office — what she calls her totem — hang special items that pinpoint memories and lessons she values, from a bright Giants rally towel to a fortune cookie slip her daughter recently sent. Many of the items have traveled with her over the years and symbolize the kind of person she is today. Kellerman’s love for stories began in high school. She attended Pacific Palisades High, or “Pali,” which was a large and progressive Los Angeles charter school with little school spirit. “It was the 70s,” she says. “Kind of counter-culturey and three blocks from the beach. We were very into the outdoors and hanging out with friends.” There, Kellerman met the English teacher Rose Gilbert, currently the oldest teacher in Los Angeles at 92 years old, who sparked Kellerman’s lasting love of reading and writing. “She made me believe I was capable of reading challenging books and making comparisons,” Kellerman says. “She never ever made me feel like I couldn’t do something.” Kellerman went on to major in psychology at the University of California at Los Angeles, where she acquired people skills that came in handy as a TV commercial producer at a San Francisco ad agency.


ACROSS THE BOARD: In her school office, Rachel Kellerman keeps several pictures, objects and quotes that remind her of valuable lessons and memories.

“I really had to used my psychology while working in adver- gluttony.” She says her love for sports comes from seeing and tising,” she says. “There were a lot of really strange and creative knowing its stories. people that I worked with who had very different personalities.” “I just think that there’s something about sports and the comIt was also in the world of advertising and mitment that you make media that Kellerman discovered that she loved as a team member and being creative and experimenting with technology. the stories that are told But after five years, Kellerman realized that every night on the field “There’s something about the job — selling frozen food and other items — that really appeal to me,” sports and the commitment wasn’t very fulfilling. she says. that you make as a team “Even though I loved my job, I realized it Other than sports, member and the stories that didn’t do a lot for the soul,” she says. “And once Kellerman has a lastare told every night on the I had kids, I realized it wasn’t particularly the kind ing appreciation of arof thing I wanted to do. There’s a life balance.” field that really appeal to me.” chiving. Seeking more, Kellerman went down a new While looking to path: education. Following her parents, who were the future, she hopes to ­— Rachel Kellerman, get an official archiving also educators, she went on to earn a masters dePaly librarian certificate, which will engree at University of California at Berkeley and a degree in library science at San Jose State Univerable her to take charge of sity. Kellerman became a librarian at several Palo the collection in the back Alto schools before moving to London for four years. of the library, scan its information and make it available online. In To her, living abroad was just the right thing. Kellerman finds doing so, she says she’ll be combining all her library, teaching and travelling to be one of the healthiest and most eye-opening things media skills. someone can do. “The whole digital explosion and archiving is a field of great “I think we live in a really insulated world,” she says. “How interest to me because of the stories we can tell of the past that do you really get to know what the world is like without going out relate to now,” she says. “I like the idea of exposing that because yourself and talking to people?” it’s kind of like being an archaeologist of the past.” With her daughter currently living in Boston and her son For now, Kellerman simply loves working at Paly, a job she studying in New York, Kellerman travels frequently with her considers active, physically demanding, and very suitable for somehusband to the East Coast. Other than trips within the country, one like her. Other than getting to dip into multiple subjects for Kellerman has traveled to Switzerland for a 10-day hiking trip and, short lessons, she loves that she can talk to and connect with kids more recently, to London for the 2012 Summer Olympics. and teachers around campus and feel like she’s making an impact. To Kellerman, who grew up going to many UCLA sporting “And there are stories, the stories that kids tell me about their events and is a lifelong sports fan, this trip was true “sports lives everyday,” Kellerman says. “It’s really wonderful.” v



Adeus Mozambique, Hello America



OR EDILSON NGULELE, EVERYthing is awesome. This includes homework, chores, homesickness and sleep deprivation. When Ngulele, a 16-year-old Mozambican exchange student, arrived in Palo Alto, his English was composed primarily of parroted phrases from his host brother, and his response for almost every emotion, event or reply became “awesome.” Ngulele regularly sports a “Giants 2010 World Series” snapback, a black hoodie, a brightly contrasting logo t-shirt with an unrecognizable pattern on the front and sleek black and redrimmed Nike Airs: the typical wardrobe of the American male teenager. But, the first baseball game he ever saw was this October’s Game Six of the semifinals to the World Series between the San Francisco Giants and St. Louis Cardinals. You will frequently find him listening to foreign music on the online Mozambican radio station SFM 94.6. He speaks in short, fragmented sentences, with a bold accent, and when he opens his mouth to talk, he often wears a pensive expression, focusing on what he is about to say. The only soccer he has played is without shoes in the middle of a cracked, dusty street. Ngulele’s atypical experiences distinguish him from the students who pass him on Palo Alto High School’s quad. Ngulele, from the African country of Mozambique on the Southeastern coast, was selected along with eight other high schoolers from thousands of applicants by American Field Service, an international exchange program searching for students to send to the United States. This past August, Ngulele stepped off the plane in San Francisco International Airport to the greetings of his host family, the Aschs. Palo Alto became his new home for the year. MOZAMBIQUE In Africa, there are more than 2,000 spoken languages, and the languages of Mozambique represent only a fraction of this diversity. As a result of Portuguese colonization in the 16th century, most Mozambicans are taught and speak Portuguese, which is the primary language. Most schools also teach kids English and French beginning in sixth grade, and many, like Ngulele, are also familiar with local African traditional languages. “At home, I speak Portuguese,” Ngulele says. “The main language is Portuguese, but not everyone speaks Portuguese. For example, like old people, like my grandma. She speaks Portuguese, but she speaks more the traditional language [Shangana].” A large majority of Mozambican pop and film culture has American roots, which explains Ngulele’s knowledge and acclimation to many aspects of American life. “We listen a lot to American music, and Brazilian [music],” Ngulele says. Ngulele is also very familiar with American movies and TV shows — in Mozambique there are Portuguese subtitles — his favorite movie being “Skyfall.” Beyond the typical teenage activities, he watches reruns of two American shows that he owns on DVD. “When I turn on the TV that’s all I watch: ‘Smallville’ and ‘Heroes,’” Ngulele says.

FEATURES hesitant in his new environment, and Asch FAMILY admits that he was worried Ngulele would When he was 12, Ngulele, along with be extremely introverted and shy. Howevhis two parents and two brothers, moved er, he has transformed into quite the opfrom the small, rural community of Maposite, according to Asch. balane, a dusty, open, rural town along “I thought he was going to be quiet the Limpopo River, to Matola, a suburban and reserved, he seemed very studious for neighborhood a few miles away from the the first couple days of school,” Asch says. bustling city capital, Maputo. “And he’s not exactly like that. He’s very “It was like moving from a place like goofy.” Palo Alto to San Francisco,” Ngulele says. Ngulele is close with his two younger UNITED STATES brothers, Junior, 3, and Lorenzo, 12, and Since living with Ngulele, Asch has gets along well with his parents. His fanoticed many of Ngulele’s habits which ther, Cremildo, is a biology and chemistry have surprised him, and made him more teacher at a local school and his mother, conscious of his own actions. Alexandrina, works at “He’s much a public library in Mamore aware puto. of things that “Me and my I wouldn’t be “The teachers here brother are so close,” aware of, which really want you to Ngulele says. “He has is good because understand the lesson. it has taught me his own room and I have my own room, In my country, it’s difthings,” Asch but we sleep in same ferent. When class is says. room because we He goes over, it’s over.” spend a lot of time on to describe ­— Edilson Ngulele, talking in the night.” an incident at Paly junior exchange student the dinner table Paly sophomore Adam Asch, Ngulele’s when he fed host brother, says he the last morsel has formed a strong of steak to the bond with Nguele. Asch quickly got to family dog. Ngulele had an unexpected reknow and learn about Nguele, who is only action. a year older than him. “He [Ngulele] was freaked out by Asch was originally one of the only that,” Asch recalls. “He was like, ‘You members of his family who could interknow there are people in Africa who don’t pret Ngulele’s desperate attempts at conhave anything to eat. Why are you giving veying his meaning through hand gestures this to your dog?’ That never even ocand pointing. curred to me.” Although Ngulele enjoys the constant Initially, Ngulele was homesick and


new experiences and qualities of America, he also misses his Mozambican surroundings and culture. “Since I moved here, when I Skype my family, they say I’m changing,” Ngulele says. “Mainly my wearing clothes because I wear American jeans, some shoes [Nikes]. At home [I] just [wear] some shorts, sandals, and I have traditional clothes.” While Palo Alto’s diversity fascinates Ngulele, he still appreciates the unique and distinctive African culture, which, he says adds a feeling of unity. “I miss the culture,” Ngulele says. “In Palo Alto there is a lot of people from many parts of the world, so I don’t see one specific culture. In Mozambique you can walk in the streets and see people dressed in a specific way, with some traditional clothes, things on the head, a baby here [over the back]. There’s like a whole culture.” SCHOOL In Mozambique, Ngulele, a junior, attended Matola Secondary School, where classes begin in January and end in October. Matola Secondary, which is much smaller than Paly, has individual classrooms that spread out over a large area of land. Paly classes may seem overcrowded, but try learning in an environment where the entire grade — about 60 students — is packed into one class. Although he has only been in the United States for a couple months, Ngulele’s English is highly developed, partly due to the English education he has received since sixth grade in Maputo. “In Mozambique, we have English

“They go and sit with you — they have class, but it’s not like English class here,” time to do that. But in my country, it’s difNgulele says. “They only teach us simple ferent. When the class is over, it’s over. dialects and conversation.” However, since You can go talk to the teacher, but it’s not arriving in America, Asch says Ngulele’s the same here [at Paly]. You can even have English has improved immensely and he a Saturday morning to has expanded sit with you. In Mohis vocabulary, zambique, who will do grammar and that?” fluency. “When he talks, beNevertheless, he is “When lieve me, everybody not used to the amount he first moved listens. It’s like pin of time spent in school here I actually and on homework did understand drop silence because compared to his prehim, but my everbody wants to vious five-hour school family couldn’t, know what Edi has to days, which had little anyone else say.” to no outside work. couldn’t,” Asch ­— Ashwini Avadhani, “I don’t think we says. “My mom need to come all day would explain Paly Chemistry Teacher in school,” Ngulele everything to says. “In Mozambique him, like, butschool start at 7 a.m. until noon, and that’s ter —” it.” “B-U-T-T-E-R!” Ngulele interjects, Although Ngulele is not used to atremembering the moment Asch refers tending school all day, he has become a to. “It’s a yellow thing that you put in the star in his chemistry class. According to bread, you eat it.” Ngulele mimics his host his teacher Ashwini Avadhani, his enthumother, who would motion and signal with siasm and stories inspire and inform other her hands in an over-exaggerated manner students. of explanation. “He is a big part of our class,” Avad“That was the worst one, but there hani says. “And when he talks, believe me, was other stuff too,” Asch says. “I could everybody listens. It’s like pin drop silence understand it, but most people couldn’t because everybody wants to know what understand him. Now, anyone can have a Edi has to say.” conversation with him.” Avadhani adds that the class expresses Ngulele has also been surprised by the extreme interest and curiosity in Ngulele’s attention and extra help he has received stories and comments. from teachers here at Paly who are helping “He talks a lot about his home and him catch up and complete schoolwork how the students are, how schools are due to the language barrier. back there and how the relationship be“The teachers here really want you tween students and teachers is very differto understand the lesson,” Ngulele says.

ent,” Avadhani says. “People [classmates] are like, ‘Wow,’ there’s this whole other world that they have no clue about. We get a flavor from Edi which is really neat.” FUTURE Both the Asch family and Ngulele have many items on their list of things to do before Ngulele’s departure back to Mozambique in seven months. “He thought Palo Alto was a big city, and he thought L.A. was a really big city, so I think it would be cool if he went to New York,” Asch says. Asch also has a few things he hopes Ngulele will remember and bring back with him once the year is up. “I hope he brings back stories,” Asch says. “I hope to be the butt of a lot of jokes when he goes back to Mozambique.” One of Ngulele’s biggest challenges is combating homesickness. Besides his friends and family, Nguele misses other aspects of Mozambican culture like its music, festivals and friends. And, of course, he can’t forget food. “There’s no food in this world that’s better than my mother’s food for sure,” Ngulele says passionately. “It’s other level.” Currently, Nguele simply hopes to continue learning more English, getting help in school and living for the little moments in life that remind him that he’s in America. Even though he comes from 10,764 miles away, Ngulele’s distinctive characteristics simply add to the intricate, diverse, accepting population at Paly. “I like him because he’s a go-getter,” Avadhani says. “I like that fight. He’s like any other kid, like any other teenager would be.” v



SLICK TRICKS: Palo Alto High School junior Sama Rao hangs in the air with the aid of silks.



ALO ALTO HIGH SCHOOL JUnior Sama Rao relies on nothing but a piece of cloth to support her weight as she hangs in the air. Rao is an aerial silks gymnast, which requires her to be suspended up high with nothing but a piece of silk holding her up. Rao began going to a circus camp when she was 10 years started with ropes and continued practicing aerial skills at old. She Camp Winnarainbow, a circus and performing arts camp in Mendocino County. At Camp Winnarainbow, campers can take classes in many circus aspects like tightrope, trapeze and juggling. “In eighth grade, I decided I wanted to do it outside of camp,” Rao says. Once Rao began doing ropes outside of camps she saw other kinds of aerial skills and realized she wanted to try silks. Silks is a circus art where a performer does drops and falls, moving into different poses with the aid of a piece of silk. There are horizontal and vertical wraps that vary in their difficulty level.


“I like silks a lot more because even if you aren’t graceful, it looks a lot more graceful,” Rao says. “It looks beautiful.” Rao does silks at San Francisco Circus Center and Trapeze Arts in Oakland. However, because of the time commitment that it takes to go to San Francisco and Oakland, Rao has little time to manage training and schoolwork. “For the past two years, I went every other weekend,” Rao says. “This year I’ve gone once or twice because of homework.” Although Rao is too old to go to Camp Winnarainbow as a camper, she continues to go as a counselor in training. “Teaching other people how much fun they can have is part of the reason I love it,” Rao says. By teaching other kids about aerial silks, Rao is able to pass on her passion for silks. “I really like the adrenaline rush,” Rao says. “Because when you are at the top of the silks and you fall, you know nothing bad will happen.” v

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Issue 4 – Feb. 22, 2013 Issue 5 – Apr. 8, 2013 Issue 6 – May 24, 2013

Text and Photo Illustration by KATY ABBOTT



or even witty repartee. Instead of offering original content, posters F I’M TO BELIEVE THE INFORMATION often paraphrase the headlines or offer select quotes, taking inforthat shows up on my news feed, Facebook is only two mation out of context and depriving fellow users of the full story. seconds away from superimposing its logo on top of The breast cancer meme, by attempting to portray breast canthe unfortunate profile picture that I had back in the day cer as “sexy” with its innuendo-laced statuses, only misleads and when I still thought I was a ninja. The next thing I know, offends readers. According to breast cancer survivor Donna Trusthe whole thing will be splashed all over a massive billboard for the sell in her October 2012 Washington Post article, such a scary diswhole world to see. I’m powerless to stop this, because I failed to ease doesn’t need a “renovation.” If anything, breast cancer and its repost the following declaration: “In response to the new Facebook 39,520 deaths per year should be taken more seriously. In addition, guidelines, I hereby declare that my copyright is attached to all of suggesting that a Facebook status change equals a successful blow my personal details,” which guarantees Facebook won’t try to steal against breast cancer cannot be defined as anything but deceptive. my face. Sharing an inaccurate copyright protection warning is just as This, of course, is a fraudulent claim. But that hasn’t stopped misleading. It wastes users’ time and, more importantly, creates it from conquering my news feed at various intervals as panicked paranoia, sowing unfounded seeds of panic about Facebook’s plans users join their “friends” in spreading the spurious assertion. to adapt its users’ data for commercial purposes. It doesn’t take much to rile a Facebook user somewhere, and And information about presidential elections or other major if the cause seems interesting enough, everyone else jumps on the events can have an equally muddling effect because news is so often bandwagon, posting as quickly as possible to do their part, even if cherrypicked for lines like “You didn’t build that,” which are clearly it means sharing repetitive or inaccurate information. When Presidesigned to misdirect the audience. The Romney gaffe about his dent Obama was re-elected, there were victory posts galore. And “binders full of women,” when taken out of context, paints the the “binders full of women” comments that resulted after the third former governor as a misogynist, a characterization that goes one presidential debate far outnumbered the actual number of women step too far. contained in said binders. Readers, however, don’t know this. Copycat oversharing isn’t restricted to news They just read a Facebook status events, either. When users in Greece and Cyprus about “lolz Romney’s binders” and decided two years ago to change their profile picstart to jump to conclusions, cretures to images of their favorite cartoons as a way ating a spiralling snowball of to protest violence against children, thousands of assumptions. It’s like playing a others from all over the world joined in solidarity. massive game of Telephone, Another meme advocating breast cancer except that instead of whisawareness asked female users to change their stapering nonsense phrases back tuses to things like the location of their purse or and forth, we’re slicing and their shoe size, followed by the length of time dicing important discussions it took them to do their hair. Responses like about our government’s future “I like it in the backseat of your mom’s car” TOO into meaningless segments for or “10 inches, 20 minutes” were intended MUCH a little bit of attention on Faceto arouse curiosity and stimulate converINFORbook. sation that might eventually lead to a MATION: So the next time a sea of greater awareness of breast cancer. Copycat identical posts starts to flood your While I sympathize with these Facebook news feed, resist the urge to copycauses, I have yet to see how hitting statuses, like paste and hit “publish.” You don’t a few keys and pressing send will the one that need to surrender your status for end child violence or cure breast warns against a few extra likes. Read the actual cancer: the implication that copyright theft, news instead, form a political aca single status has that much spawn misintion committee, fly to Daraya to power rejects reality. And formation and help aid the Syrian rebels, whatanyone re-posting the latest confusion. ever. Just don’t be the next pernews generally offers little son who tries to convince me that in the way of substance. Facebook wants to copyright my Rarely do I see an insightface. v ful spin on current events



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Verde Volume 14 Issue 3  

Cover story: local Cub Scout Pack 6 leaders and parents pass a resolution condemning Boy Scouts of America's anti-gay policy.

Verde Volume 14 Issue 3  

Cover story: local Cub Scout Pack 6 leaders and parents pass a resolution condemning Boy Scouts of America's anti-gay policy.