verde palo alto high school volume 14 edition 5
“You can’t tell me I wasn’t raped” (p. 15) Breaking the Silence (p. 22) Taking it Seriously (p. 24)
SHORT STUFF The Launch News
COVER Rape Culture Feature Breaking the Silence Taking it Seriously
15 22 24
FEATURES Riekes Center Energy Usage in PAUSD Bullying At Paly Rescinded SAT Myths Science Olympiad Photo Essay: Auto Shop
26 29 31 33 35 36 38 Jamie Allendorf
CULTURE 42 44 46 52 56
Martial Arts at Paly The Roast Shop Spring Adventures Tattoo Schools Uncommon Piercings
PERSPECTIVES Our Self-esteem Oversharing on Facebook Women in the Draft iBad Online Courses Snark Attack
60 62 64 66 68 70
SLAM DUNK A group of boys play basketball at the Riekes Center for Human Enhancement. Read more about the Riekes Center on page 26. LETâ€™S DO LUNCH Jars of pickled vegetables sit on the benches of the Roast Shop. Read more about the Roast Shop on page 44.
EDITORIALS PRACTICE MORE OBJECTIVE REPORTING
t was incredibly emotional, incredibly difficult... to watch as these two young men that had such promising futures... literally watch[ed] as their [lives] fell apart.” One would expect this comment, made by CNN correspondent Poppy Harlow this March, to follow a tragic accident such as a car crash. But in fact, Harlow, while representing a major news outlet, was talking about the fate of two teenage rapists. CNN isn’t the only one. As a whole, mainstream media coverage of the August 2012 rape case in Steubenville, Ohio has been riddled with flaws, including an inappropriate slant in the perpetrators’ favor and misplaced attacks on social media. Mainstream media’s biggest mistake was to adopt an overwhelmingly sympathetic attitude towards the two students on trial. News outlets such as ABC News, NBC News and USA Today chose to mourn the perpetrators’ lost futures and blame the deplorable acts on the influence of alcohol rather than just plain poor judgment. While publications need not skew reporting in favor of the victim, neutral coverage of the Steubenville case was sorely lacking. Several news groups blamed social media as the problem — as if the issue here was that the acts were documented, not that they were carried out.
Even Thomas Lipps, the judge assigned to the boys’ trial, urged teens to “have discussions about how you talk to your friends; how you record things on the social media so prevalent today.” Rather than telling youth to stand up against rape, Lipps seems to be advising them to simply cover their tracks better. Sites like Twitter and Instagram brought the rapists to justice. They were not the unfortunate catalysts for the boys’ “undeserved” demise. In the future, greater care should be taken to provide fair, uneditorialized coverage of such a controversial and solemn topic. Fellow student and professional journalists: we urge you to scrutinize how you’re covering these controversial issues. Be careful where you direct your journalistic focus. Although there is a story in how the boys’ lives will be affected, this is not where attention should be directed at this time. The challenge that most deserves public awareness is preventing rape. And readers, pay attention to how the media portrays sensitive and controversial issues. Examine how certain topics are reported, and what information may be emphasized or neglected in the process. In tackling the heavy topic in this issue, Verde has kept these questions in mind. While you read our cover package on rape (starting on p. 14), we hope you will see our coverage as objective and our columns as adequately researched and justified.
Photo by Charu Srivastava Design and Photoshop by Evelyn Wang Our cover photo illustration depicts the hurtful comments such as “asking for it” and “slut” that rape victims commonly face. Verde chose to examine rape culture at Palo Alto High School in this issue’s cover package. The model on the cover, as well as those featured in the package, are not connected to any sources in our cover package.
Volume 14 Issue 5 April 2013
Editors-in-chief Ana Carano Sharon Tseng Evelyn Wang Adviser Paul Kandell Managing Editors Katy Abbott, Features & Profiles Savannah Cordova, Perspectives Benjamin May, Technology Jacqueline Woo, The Launch Melissa Wen, Culture News Editors Sharon Cohen Angela Xu Business Manager Elisa Rerolle Copy Editor Noam Shemtov
Art Diana Connolly, Art Director Hanako Gallagher, Illustrator Photo Director Charu Srivastava Staff Writers Jamie Allendorf Samantha Dewees Katie Ebinger Daniela Ivey Hollie Kool Olivia Koyama Cassiel Moroney Leah Medoff Paul Phromthong Katherine Price Will Queen Lisie Sabbag Soo Song Alyssa Takahashi Bryan Wong
CONTACT US VERDE MAGAZINE
EXPAND PEER-BASED STUDENT SUPPORT GROUPS
tudent stress at Palo Alto High School has Bay Area schools, Palo Alto High School only realways been more or less addressed by the cently begun organizing one, thanks to junior Jesadministration, but never fully resolved. sica Feinberg. Through support systems like Adolescent We could strengthen awareness-based clubs Counseling Services, the school has made on campus, such as the Eating Disorder Awarecommendable efforts at suicide prevention and ness Club, by encouraging them to form a network other pressing issues. However, these current sys- of student-based support. This network would tems have not successfully countered problems help students who suffer from specific probthat are less extreme than lems but who do suicide, but still tough and not consider their widespread. Verde urges the problems urgent The Verde staff urges the enough to warrant school to find new ways to school to find new ways to professional guidprovide guidance in order to mitigate issues that range provide guidance to mitigate ance. Peer-based from routine stress to newissues that range from rou- forums would also student integration. tine stress to new-student encourage students A potential option to seek out support integration. would be to form a peer from those who support system. Currently, have shared similar Link Crew is the closest to experiences. In dea long-term student support group, but few stu- veloping support systems that still maintain condents know that Link Crew support extends be- tact with the staff, the school would foster a new yond a few months of freshmen year. Gunn High level of communication between students and adSchool has garnered overwhelming support for ministration. Improved communication between its peer-advising groups. The cornerstone of this peers would help students seek much-needed help system is ROCK, which was formed by two Gunn from adult administrators before it’s too late. students in 2009 in response to numerous suicides. Readers, we ask you to recognize that student The group, which trains its members to become stress is still a major issue concerning students at peer counselors, explains that “rocks are there this school. Hopefully, enough students recognize when you need them and they never change.” Al- this that we can eventually ensure the well-being though ROCK has long since expanded to other of the student body.
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 http://verdemagazine. com 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://verdemagazine.com
COMMENT ON STORIES AT verdemagazine.com
FROM THE EDITORS
• 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.
ost societies don’t talk about rape. We consider it a taboo, conditioning victims to feel ashamed about speaking out and forcing them to deal with the aftermath in silence. But the recent rapes committed in Steubenville, Amherst and New Delhi have forced us to examine how we deal with sexual assault. Our cover package examines the many facets of rape culture, from victim-blaming to flawed media coverage of rape to the old “boys will be boys” cliché. Lisie Sabbag’s article “‘You can’t tell me I wasn’t raped’” (p. 15) tells the story of two rape victims and the overwhelming lack of support they received from the community. Sabbag also discusses the ways our culture teaches us to perceive rape as inevitable. In Will Queen’s piece “Breaking the Silence” (p. 22), he offers a male perspective on the lack of discussion surrounding sexual assault. Finally, Savannah Cordova explains why rape jokes aren’t funny in “Taking it Seriously” (p. 24). We stress that all of the photo illustrations in our cover package, including the photo illustration on the cover, were taken with models from our staff and are not connected with the sources in our stories. In addition, we’ve discussed this story with the survivors every step of the way. Everything printed has been approved by the victims who shared their stories, as well as experts in counseling for sexual violence and reporting sexual violence. On that note, we’d like to express our gratitude to Dierdre Graves, executive director of the Ochberg Society, which is dedicated to responsible coverage of traumatic events, including rape coverage. She worked with us to make Sabbag’s story show the best and most compassionate reporting possible. For another personal take on headline news, read Hollie Kool’s perspective “Leveling the Battlefield” (p. 64) about the changes needed in the military to ensure women safe enrollment. Verde also explores some lesser-known controversies within the body modification community, such as the dispute over tattoo schools in “Sealed in Ink” (p. 52) by Evelyn Wang and uncommon piercings in “Pierced with Desire” (p. 56) by Daniela Ivey. For a walk on the mild(er) side, take a look at “Spring into Adventure” (p. 46) by Soo Song and Jackie Woo for ideas on some fun day trips that don’t involve needles and ink. Sadly, this is our last issue as editors-in-chief. However, we have complete confidence that Verde’s current juniors and future staff members will continue to uphold the Verde tradition. Have a good fourth quarter, Paly!
SEALED IN INK Luke Stewart, co-owner and tattoo artist at Seventh Son Tattoo in San Francisco, outlines a client’s future sleeve tattoo. Read about professional artists’ take on the controversial tattoo schools in “Sealed in Ink” (p. 52).
– Ana, Sharon and Evelyn
discount on eyewear for all Palo Alto High School students and parents
1805 El Camino Real Suite 100 Palo Alto, CA 94306 www.luxpaloalto.com (650) 324-3937
When: April 27 Where: San Francisco Metreon Tickets: Paly Web Store or at the Auditor’s office!
Tips 1. Ask someone who is friends with your group of friends. 2. Don’t procrastinate on buying tickets. They’ll go all the way up to $120 after April 7. 3. Buy corsages/boutonnieres at the same place. 4. Guys: put your arms around the girls’ waists, not shoulders or the bottoms. 5. Girls: bring a purse and check it in early (so you won’t have to shove people in line). 6. Girls: if you’re going with a date, go with him when he goes to rent his tuxedo to match colors. 7. Guys (or girls): ask the close friend of the person you plan to ask BEFORE asking to gauge interest. 8. Come up with a creative idea for asking — the asking does not need to be public and it means a lot more if you make it personal and show effort.
Verbatim: What’s your opinion on the Prom theme (“When the lights go down in the city”) ? By PAUL PHROMTHONG
“I think it’s a cool theme. I’d like to see a ball theme some time in the future though.” — freshman Casey Palafox
“I think it’s a pretty cool theme and I think the skyline idea is interesting. I’m not going but I like it.” — sophomore Scott Hillen
“I haven’t really looked into it, but honestly it doesn’t really matter to me. I don’t think the theme is really important as long as the dance itself is good.” — sophomore Yeren Istaneovlian
“I really like it because I like the song and I like the city. I think they go really well together.” —junior Briana Billiups
“It’s fine, but I think we’ve used it before.” — senior Kenny Jones
Designed and Compiled by JACQUELINE WOO
Spring Recipe Ingredients • 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour • 1/2 teaspoon salt • 1 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened • 1/2 cup sugar
Get ready for the fourth quarter! Try these delicious Thumbprint Jam Cookies as an indulgent stress reliever, study snack or pre-Prom snack!
• 1 large egg yolk • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract • 1/4 cup seedless raspberry jam, apricot preserves or strawberry preserves
Instructions Preheat oven to 350°F. Whisk flour and salt together, then beat butter and sugar with mixer for about 4 minutes until pale and fluffy. Incorporate egg and vanilla while beating. Slowly mix in flour to form dough. Mold a 6-inch disk, wrap in plastic wrap and chill for about 1 hour. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Use a teaspoon to create balls of
dough, and flatten each ball flat on the baking sheet. Use your thumb to create a deep indent in the middle of each roll. Place cookies 1-inch apart from one another. Fill indents with 1/8 teaspoon jam, picking out the large fruit pieces. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until golden-brown on edges. Let cool for a minute on the baking sheet and transfer to another sheet to cool completely.
Recipe from Yoori Kim (Class of 2013) Modified from Huffington Post Thumbprint Cookies and Jam recipe. Image from Tracy Hunter at creativecommons. org
ASB Answers :
What’s something new that Paly can expect at Prom? “You guys can expect a much different layout and a very impressive view. The ambiance is also going to be different from last year’s. I’m really excited for the new food options.” — Senior Vice President JOSH STABINKSY Have a question for ASB? Email your question to email@example.com and see if it gets picked to be in the next issue of Verde! Questions may be anonymous.
crop of new babies has been sprouting around Palo Alto High School. Try to guess which teacher is the proud parent of each child. Answers can be found at the bottom of the page.
Kiora Sex: Female Parent? _______________
By SOO SONG
Sue Sex: Female Parent? _______________
Matthew Sex: Male Parent? _______________
Dean Sex: Male Parent? _______________
Ainsley Sex: Female Parent? _______________
lassrooms are not just learning environments but also a place that teachers can decorate to express themselves. With that in mind, where have you seen this jackalope? The answer can be found at the bottom of this page.
By JACQUELINE WOO
Whose Baby? Answers: Baby Sue: Adam Yonkers; Baby Dean: Jaclyn Edwards; Baby Koria: Kari Snell; Baby Matthew: Erik Olah; Baby Ainsley: Kirk Hinton Whose Classroom? Answer: Bowditch/Scott â€” Rm. 1704
THE CURTAIN SHALL NOT FALL: From left to right, Abby Cunniff (left) and Chloe Tarrasch (right) talk at Paly about their recent journalistic scandal. They say that The Oracle does not intend to stop their coverage of controver topics.
Oracle responds to critics Mountain View High School’s student newspaper, The Oracle, is planning how to move forward as a publication in response to the heavy criticism from Mountain View parents in recent months. Oracle staff writers Abby Cunniff and Chloe Tarrasch visited the Beginning Journalism class at Paly on March 25 to address the backlash their publication has received. The dissent started when some parents at the school raised concern about the paper after Cunniff, the paper’s opinions editor, wrote an article containing mature themes regarding safe sex. “Some of the parents said that we were promoting illegal activity by writing this article,” Cunniff said. Since the complaints, which were the topic of two Mountain View-Los Altos Union High School District school board meetings, the staff of The Oracle reevaluated its code of ethics and core values.
“We’ve had some moral code of ethics presentations to talk about what we think is ethical to publish, not just what we can publish, but what we should publish,” Tarrasch said. “We are just trying to be more purposeful with what we write.” In general, the controversy over the article increased The Oracle’s presence on campus, according to Cunniff. “I think we have a lot more viewership now than we’ve had in the past,” Cunniff said. Despite heavy opposition, The Oracle will continue to cover controversial issues in the future. “I think we are going to try to keep them [their concerns] in mind going forward,” Cunniff said. “But I don’t think we are going to tailor our content to them [the parents].”
College forms to be submitted online Seniors will have the opportunity to submit a bulk of their college applications online, rather than submitting hand-written work, starting in fall of 2013. “We’ve been wanting to do this for years,” said Palo Alto High School college adviser Sandra Cernobori. “We’re always striving to make the applications simpler for both students and teachers and we’re constantly looking for new ways to improve the process. We felt that now was the right time.” The purpose of this change was to make the process easier and to decrease paperwork for both students and advisers. One of the benefits of this change is that students who apply using the Common Applications no longer have to provide copies of secondary schools reports to Paly or the National Association for College Admission Counseling, according to Cernobori. Students are no longer required to turn in school form packets and teacher advisers can now compute forms online, taking all the heavy paperwork out of the process. According to Cernobori, these new changes will not affect any of the time constrictions and students will still have to order transcripts by school-established deadlines. They will also still be required to turn in their packets and list of requested schools to their advisers on time.
Text by Paul Phromthong
Text by Alyssa Takahashi and Katie Ebinger
Freshman Guide to help with high school transition
Library revonation delayed
A junior is putting together a pamphlet geared toward freshmen and their parents to inform them of opportunities at Palo Alto High School. “It’s going to be a compilation of a bunch of different opportunities at Paly that freshmen don’t always know about,” said Kenny Vi, the student behind the project. “I’m targeting freshman parents. Currently, the freshmen parents don’t know much about what Paly has to offer, and Paly has so much to offer.” Vi plans to include information about opportunities such as the California Scholarship Federation. “It’s a source of scholarship money for a lot of students,” Vi says. “A lot of students could get scholarship money for college, but they don’t do it because they don’t know about this organization.” Vi hopes to mail the Freshman Guide to all incoming freshmen this fall. “I’m hoping it will provide a connection between the opportunities that Paly has to offer and the students at Paly,” Vi says. “I want to make sure that every student [has] what they need.” Text and photo by Samantha Dewees
The construction of the new school library will be delayed until August 2015, according to Vice Principal Kim Diorio. The plans will continue to be submitted on schedule: only the physical building of the library is being delayed. The district office delayed the project due to multiple construction projects being completed concurrently, according to Diorio. “The issue is there are a number of simultaneous construction projects going on,” Diorio said. Originally the renovation of the gym was unfunded and a last priority, but a recent donation has caused improvements to the gym and pool to be implemented early. The library will be starting construction directly after the completion of the gym. Text by Olivia Koyama
GUIDE BEHIND THE GUIDE: Junior Kenny Vi is the author of the Freshman Guide. The Freshman Guide will include information about opportunities such as the California Scholarship Federation.
Peery family unveils larger funds for new gym
DRAWN OUT: During construction on the gyms, physical education classes will be held in portable classes. The project will start once the new media building gets closer to completion.
Palo Alto High School expects renovations and additions to the physical education facilities, made possible by a generous donation by the Peery family, whose name was made public on March 18. Palo Alto Unified School District plans to begin construction in June 2014 and open the buildings for use in the beginning of the 2015-2016 academic year. The project’s conceptual phase was approved by the Board of Education on March 19. “The rough estimate given was around
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Number of military sexual trauma victims per year, according to the Department of Defense. p. 64
$20 million, based on the cost of Menlo School’s gym built that opened in 2010,” said Paly Assistant Principal Kim Diorio. Most of the funds will come from the Peery family’s donation, while around $5.4 million will come from the state. “We’re expecting around $20 million, but the family was extremely generous with the district, and offered to pay as much as the project cost,” Diorio said. Text by Noam Shemtov Photo courtesy of Palo Alto Board of Ed.
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Of those surveyed believed that if a woman is intoxicated, she holds more responsibility for her rape. p. 14
Class of 2013 to create mural as senior gift A group of Palo Alto High School students are looking forward to creating a mural as the 2013 senior gift, after receiving approval for the project from the Public Art Commission at the Palo Alto Civic Center. Seniors Michael Wang, Lisie Sabbag and Claire Marchon are collaborating with Associated Student Body director Matthew Hall and senior Jessica Tam to create a mural as the 2013 senior gift. The PAC approved the project on Thursday, March 21, and plans to give the senior class space to create a student-made mural on the wind tunnel on Embarcadero Rd. The seniors also want to create a tradition by allowing future seniors to have a space in the tunnel for their own viking murals. “The hope is [that] each graduating class can have their own space on Embar-
PLANNING: From left to right, seniors Lisie Sabbag, Claire Marchon and MIchael Wang give their presentation to the Public Art Commission. They are collaborating with ASB to create a senior mural as a 2013 class gift.
cadero. We are painting it with the intention that it will be built upon and continued,”
Administration to create new science portables The Palo Alto High School administration will be introducing new science portables for the next school year to accommodate the new incoming freshmen class. The administration plans to place the labs in two of the portables between the math building and the Student Center. “There really aren’t any restrictions whatsoever converting the portables into biology classrooms,” Vice Principal Kimberley Diorio said. “The science portables will have the equipment that the biology classrooms have.” The portables will be installed over the summer and are expected to be fully functional by the start of the 2014-2015 school year. Text and photo by Bryan Wong
Number of event categories in a Scioly competition. p. 36
Wang said. Text and photo by Alyssa Takahashi
PiE Donations Increase Partners in Education is donating a record-breaking sum to the 2013 Annual Gift to the Palo Alto Unified School District, allowing for increased funding of various classes and activities at Palo Alto schools. A PiE press release states that the money is intended to provide for more enrichment and counseling, as well as to keep electives running. “PiE’s donations absolutely make a difference,” said Paige Johnson, Palo Alto High School guidance counselor. “Before  we only had three guidance counselors and one college and career resource.” The donations have made it possible to take on two more staff members. At the elementary school level,
Number of sections scored on the SAT. p. 35
the money will be used to pay for more classroom aides, math and reading specialists and the creative arts. Middle schools should see an increase in funding for emotional and social development, as well as grade transition guidance, while high schoolers will be receiving more funding for career-related electives and getting more guidance in planning for their post-secondary future. PiE collected the donation from over 4,500 donors, and handed the money over to the district on Feb. 26, according to the PiE website. The money PiE provides the district each year influences the district on all levels. Text and photo by Cassiel Moroney
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The lowest temperature Paly’s air conditioning can be set to in the summer. p. 29 13
COVER WARNING: this cover package deals with accounts of sexual assault, and may be a trigger for some people. Please read on cautiously.
“YOU CAN’T TELL ME I WASN’T RAPED” 15 BREAKING THE SILENCE 22 TAKING IT SERIOUSLY 24
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“I’m asleep, but the kind of asleep where an alarm is going off in my head,” junior Tina says. “I’m only semi-conscious.” Tina is in the back of the car with a senior guy she barely knows. Despite her ealier protests, now she is too drunk to object and he is on top of her. She can’t stop him as he undresses her and takes full advantage. “When I wake up aagain and I realize what’s happening ... I start crying. I’m just staring out the back window of the car, silently crying.”
Story by Lisie Sabbag Photo Illustrations by Katherine Price and Lisie Sabbag
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parents who immediately took action. They brought her to a therapist, who told her she was in a state of shock, and tried their best to support her in every way. The Palo Alto High School Adolescent Counseling Services, after talking with Tina and her family, filed a police report on her behalf but she chose not to press charges. But many of her peers didn’t respond like her parents did. After telling a few friends, she started to get texts and calls from the people who were there that night. They told her to stop talking about it, told her it was her fault. Then she started hearing from the rest of her circle of friends, who only made the situation worse. “Everyone was making me feel like just a lying slut who got herself in this situation,” she says. “Even though I knew that’s not what happened, that’s how people were making me feel.” Names like “attention whore,” “liar,” “drunk” and “slut” were thrown around in the gossip that surrounded her as she walked across the quad at school. Tina had a bit of a reputation, and the classic “slut-shaming” came into full effect as soon as people learned she had been drunk that night. “These are people I used to consider my best friends,” she says. “[They] treated me like a crazy person.” She needed a break from school to deal with her shock, and the time away from her peers didn’t hurt either. But when she left, they followed her using the anonymity of social media. She received a barrage of Facebook messages and Tumblr posts telling her that she was just looking for attention. The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) says the majority of sexual assault survivors
RAINN says the kind of treatment Tina received from her peers will only make matters worse for rape victims. Kerry Kulstad-Thomas, an Assault Prevention Intervention Specialist at the Rape Crisis Center of the YWCA in Silicon Valley, stresses the importance of a good support base. “Loved ones play a large part in a survivor’s healing process,” she says. “It’s really important that they get support from the beginning.” RAINN offers the following advice for family and friends of sexual violence survivors: “Listen. Be there. Don’t be judgmental.” Tina says that’s not at all the kind of support she received from her peers. “It wasn’t even what happened, it was more people’s reactions that’s made this so hard,” Tina says. “When there’s support it doesn’t matter how awful things are, you can get through it, but when there’s not it makes it 100 times harder.” With all the backlash and rejection Tina received, she wanted to stop sharing her story and give in to the pressure others put on her to forget the rape. But she hasn’t, because she thinks that’s exactly the kind of attitude keeping rape culture alive. “I hope that speaking up, saying, ‘Hey, this isn’t okay’ will make someone change their minds, and then maybe something will change,” Tina says. “Even if rapes don’t stop happening, I hope the support afterwards will [improve].” Kulstad-Thomas says developing real support for the victim is exactly what our community needs. “The first step is realizing that it is an issue our entire community needs to come together on,” she says. “[We can do this] by fostering a really honest and more open communication between women.”
If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted: • Find a safe location away from the perpetrator • Know that what happened was not your fault • Preser ve all evidence of the attac k • Repor t the attack to law enforcement immediately • Seek medical care as soon as possible • Recognize that healing from an attack takes time (from the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network)
The source of rape culture Palo Alto High School teacher Letitia Burton says addressing the influence of gender stereotypes on sexuality and rape is her main focus when she teaches about rape in Living Skills. “We talk about the importance of boys understanding the ways they’re socialized to be more aggressive and the ways girls are socialized to be more passive,” she says. “We as a culture don’t necessarily raise girls to have a voice and be assertive, so women smile and nod their heads and they may not speak up against a man.” This “assertive socialization” as Burton puts it, shows itself through a belief that boys should be sexually experienced to be considered manly. “Passively socialized” girls comply with the idea that boys should be having sex with them, and make themselves into an appealing sexual object. Teen boys are expected to take advantage of the opportunities at all costs, or else face the ire of their friends, according to Amy, a senior who has experienced this first-hand. “They [Paly guys] would say, ‘Oh you didn’t want to have sex with her because she’s drunk? You’re such a fag,’” Amy says. “Not that that’s excusable, but there is just as much pressure on guys to have sex and f--- everything that moves as there is on girls to be that girl that sleeps with them.” This stereotype of high school as an experience filled with alcohol and hook-ups is perpetuated by social media, popular movies like “Project X” and music like 50 Cent’s track “In Da Club.” Their popularity drives teens to replicate risky behaviors, according to Burton.
Senior Seth realizes Palo Alto isn’t magically exempt from these influences. “The fact remains that high school students are high school students and they are the same foolish people everywhere,” Seth says, “There is no escaping poor judgment no matter how educated or forwardthinking one is.” Not just Steubenville Though it’s hard to admit these things are affecting students so greatly, students aren’t as immune to rape culture as they think. While no one would come out and post a Facebook status in favor of rape, behind closed doors things aren’t strictly p.c. “If she [a girl at a party] is drunk and coming on to him, I can guarantee you’d be hard-pressed to find a male who would say, no, this is not okay,” Seth says. “If the man forces himself on her, that’s another story, but a drunk flirt should hold no grudge against a man who went along with her actions.” Girls aren’t immune to the influence of the media and have followed trends of skimpier clothing and more alcohol consumption, but most don’t think that should necessarily lead to sex at the end of the night. “It is just something that you do,” Amy says. “Go get dressed up like sluts, and have fun and be drunk. It’s not like I go out there thinking ‘I’m going to get f----- tonight!’” Burton says the combined effect of confused teens trying to be the sexualized archetype they see in the media and the lack of open conversation about teen sexual activity creates a culture of adolescents who think this consequence of this party lifestyle is okay. “It’s easy to go around and not
examine the culture that you’re in,” Burton says. “It’s easy to not ask questions because we think it’s normal.” In an online survey of 250 Paly students, almost 25.7 percent said that they agree that if a woman willingly gets drunk and then gets raped, she is responsible for what happened to her. “That’s what stupid girls do at that age -- they dress up slutty and get drunk and accidentally have sex because that’s what people do, that’s what they’ve been told fun is,” Amy says. “It’s happened to so many people. It happens, so it’s not necessarily a big deal.” And when it happened to her, Amy was left believing that she should just accept it. Amy’s s t or y Amy was a sophomore when the incident happened. She had gotten dressed up in mini skirts and sparkles with her friends, passing around some vodka as they did so. They left for a dance at Club Illusions, already thoroughly intoxicated though the stars were just becoming visible. When Amy made eye contact with a senior from across the dark room, it looked like the night was going to be much more eventful than she had anticipated. Eventually, they met up on the dance floor, hip on hip, grinding in the dim light. In between sets, they said proper hellos and seemed to hit it off. He was a big jock on campus, fun to dance with, and easy to talk to. He seemed like a nice guy to Amy, although that may have been the vodka talking. “He asked me if I wanted to get out of there,” she says. To Amy he was older, cooler “and I didn’t really
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know what else to say besides ‘Sure.’” He led her away from the party, towards a local park. They walked in an amiable silence under a sky illuminated with stars, a seemingly innocent moment between two new friends as Amy slipped deeper into a drunken haze. When she started walking at a diagonal, he put his hands on her shoulders and steered her toward a dark corner of the park’s field. When his mouth was suddenly on hers, she finally realized how far from innocent this really was. “I should have known what was going on,” she says. “I just didn’t think about it.” Her mind was fuzzy and she was still processing his tongue down her throat when his fingers slipped up her skirt. His hands were everywhere, it seemed, if only to support her as her body started to go limp. He laid her down on the grass, told her he was going to get a condom. “It occurred to me — wait, this is not what I want to do,” she says. Then she passed out. From there, “It got really messy really quick,” she says. Amy was in and out of consciousness. A flash of the senior, back from getting protection, then black. Another flash and her skirt was around her ankles. Her clothes were completely off now, and she was gone again. Halfway unconscious, she could still feel his weight laying on her. He leaned into her, but she couldn’t find the words to make him stop before fading away. As hard as she tried to stop it, the alcohol took charge of her mind, the senior took charge of her body. She stopped fighting, let her head roll back so she could only see the sky, and allowed the darkness to sweep over her. “I just remember focusing on the stars whenever I was conscious,” she says. “And trying not to be.” Def ining r ape Expert Kulstad-Thomas says rape is legally considered any sexual intercourse without consent. “And consent is an active and willing yes,” she says. “Without threat or coercion. So basically that person has to be able to say yes without feeling pressured or manipulated… and that means that the person is not under the influence of alcohol
and drugs.” For a long time, Amy never considered what occurred in the park to be rape. “Yes, he was older than me, and yes, he was much more conscious than I was,” she says. “But people do that kind of stuff all the time. It happens, it’s not necessarily a big deal.” That date rape is a just repercussion of high school life which must be endured is an idea prevalent in our culture. In the online survey, 57.5 percent of Paly students said they agree that certain women are more likely to be raped due to their promiscuous behavior. Amy experienced the result of this misconception firsthand when she sat her best friend down at Peet’s and revealed everything, expecting support and sympathy. “She [my friend] just said, “You shouldn’t have been drunk, you shouldn’t have been wearing slutty clothes, you shouldn’t have gotten yourself into that situation,” Amy says. “And the thing is… she was right.” Amy avoided telling people what happened, and when the news eventually came out she played it off as simply a drunken escapade, not wanting to be labelled “the poor girl who got raped in a park”. “I didn’t really want to tell people the truth about it, because I didn’t really like the truth,” she says. This thinking skewed how Amy thought about the night she was raped for a long time afterwards, and kept her from going to the authorities or even her parents. “I feel like such a shitty person… and I am embarrassed,” she says to explain why she never told her family. Kulstad-Thomas says that this is common for sexual violence survivors. “We live in a sexist society that tends to blame the victim of sexual assault,” she says. “Survivors tend to experience a lot of guilt and shame.” Amy never thinks of herself as a rape survivor, but then again she never thinks about that night at all if she can help it. Now, telling her story out loud and forced to come face to face with the facts, Amy pauses for a moment of retrospection. “I guess if you get down to it,” she says finally, “It was rape.” v
otests, now she is too drunk what’s happening ead f in your head,” an to object and he is on top of ,” an anonymous junior we’ll object and he is on top of her. anonymous junior we’ll call Tina says. “I’m only ... I start crying. ... I’m just staring out the back window her. She can’t stop sem She of i con the can scio car ’t stop us.” sile ntl him Tin y a as cry is he in ing silently crying.” “I’m asleep undresses her and takes full the back of the car with a sen .” “I’m asleep but the kind of him as he un adv but ior asleep where a ant the guy age. kin she “Wh d bar of en ely asle I knows.Despite her earlier pro ep where an alarm is going off wake up again and I realize barely knows. Despite her earl what’s tests, in you start crying. ... I’m just star ier protests, now she is too drunk to object and he is r head,” an anonymous junior we’ll call Tina says. happening ... I start crying. ... I’m just staring out thenow she is too dr on top of her. She can’t stop conscious.”Tina is in the backing out the back window of the car silently crying.” “I’m him as he undresses herandt“I’m only semi conscious.”Tina is in the back of the carback window of of asle the ep car but wit the h kin a sen d ior of asleep where an alarm is goin akes full advantage. “When I wake up again and I real with a senior gDespite her earlier protests, up again and I realize what’s junior we’ll call Tina says. happening ... I start crying. ... I’m just staring out thenow she is too drunk to object and he is on top of her. g off in your head,” an anonymous junior we’ll call ize what’s happen Tina says. “I’m o him as he undresses herandt “I’m only semi conscious.”Tina is in the back of the car back window of the car silently crying.” “I’m asleep She can’t stop him as he undresses her and takes full adv where an alarm is going off akes full advant“When I wake up again and I realize wha with a senior guy she barely knows. Despite her earlierbut the kind of asleep where an alarm is going off in you antage. “When is too drunk to object and hein your head,” an anonymous junior we’ll call Tina sayt’s happening ... I start cring. ... I’m just staring out protests, now she is too drunk to object and he is on r head,” an ano window of the car silently cryis on top of her. She can’t stop him as he undresses her s. “I’m only semi conscious.”Tina is in the back of the back window of the car silently crying.” “I’m asle top of her. She can ep but the kind of i c u s s i and o n w i t h p a l y theg u y s a senior guy she barely knows. ing.” “I’m asleep butathe kind d of asleep where an alarm takes full advantage. “When I wake up again and car with a senior guy she barely knows.Despite her happening ... I start crying. Despite her earlier protests, now she is too drunk to is going off in your head,” an anonymous junior we’lI realize what’s happening ... I start crying. ... I’m jusearlier protests, no ... I’m just staring out the back t star object l call window of the car silently cryand he is on top of her. She can’t stop him as he undress Tina says. “I’m only semi conscious.”Tina is in the ing out the b back of the c ing.” “I’m asleep but the kin es herandtakes full advantage. d of asleep where an alarm is going off in your head,” an “When I wake up again and I realiz anonymous junior we’ll call Tina
From a different angle
Over 250 Paly students responded to an admittedly unscientific online survey that used questions from the Rape Supportive Attitudes and Belief Scale (RABS). It asked students to respond to nine statements about rape and how it is defined in Paly’s culture with ‘strongly agree,’ ‘mildly agree,’ ‘mildly disagree’ and strongly disagree.’ Shown below are the results, grouping mild and strong opinions together. The results were sometimes surprising, so seniors Jimmy, Seth, and Anthony, interviewed individually, offer further insight Certain women are more likely to be raped due to their flirting, teasing, or promiscuous behavior. “I think that, yes, certain women are more likely to be raped due to their flirting, teasing, or promiscuous behavior,” Seth says. “That’s not a good thing and it shouldn’t be the case, but it probably is.” 57.6 percent of students agree with Seth, leaving students who disagree, like Jimmy, in the minority. “People don’t make bulls--- excuses for any other crime,” Jimmy says. “I’ve never heard anyone say that someone got mugged because they were ‘wearing a fancy watch,’ for instance.” If a woman willingly gets drunk, then she is raped -- she is more responsible for what happened to her than if she had decided not to drink. Like 25.6 percent of his peers, Anthony says “She is absolutely more responsible.” He goes on to explain: “It should be no one’s duty but their own to look out for their safety or monitor their own actions.… No one should ever expect anyone else to look out for themselves when they willingly chose to take mind-altering substances and those who chose to do so should live with the subsequent consequences of their actions.” But the other 74.4 percent disagree. Seth says, “I think that its important for people to be aware of their situations. That being said there is no excuse for anyone raping anyone. Rape, or any crime, is ultimately and fully the responsibility of the perpetrator.”
Responses to this stor y are welcome online at http://palyvoice. c o m / 2 013 / 0 4 / 0 8 / y o u - c a n t - t e l l - m e - i wasnt-raped/
A lot of people, especially women, are too likely to label a sexual encounter as “rape”. “I doubt it happens ‘often’ but rape is a good thing to claim if a woman wants to hurt someone,” Seth says. “So I’m sure it happens from time to time.” Like Seth, 22.4 percent of students surveyed agree that a woman may label sex as rape when it was not. Jimmy disagrees adamantly. “Rape is rape, period,” he says. “Any non-consensual sex is rape, and should be prosecuted and punished.” Women often falsely cry “rape” because they are feeling guilty about having sex, or if they want to get back at them [the guy]. “It’s a way of getting the blame for the encounter off of their shoulders,” Anthony says. However, he tempers his statement, echoing Seth. “I don’t mean to say that it’s an often occurrence, but it certainly has happened and is something that certain women do say.” Jimmy represents the 77 percent who disagrees with this statement. “The fact that people even make excuses for rape in the first place shows that we, as a culture, do not treat rape as a serious crime,” he says. “That’s what people mean when they say that there is a rape culture in this country: We do not treat rape as a serious crime, and that’s a fact.” Women who lead men on deserve less sympathy if they are raped. “If you dress and act in a promiscuous manner, don’t say you didn’t at least see it coming,” Anthony says. Nineteen percent of students survey agreed with Anthony’s point of view but, Seth is in the majority, 81 percent, who disagree. “People can make bad choices or put themselves in bad situations but it doesn’t make them responsible,” he says. “If someone walked down an alleyway in a bad part of town it doesn’t make them any more responsible if they end up getting mugged. The goal should not be to get people to stop walking down alleys, it should be to make every alleyway safe.” v
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G A A A R IN UIT TO ND T W ND SE N E APE R A F O Y S C I N I O R I XT I S PE RM UR LE TH STE NE OU RE PR A RO AR E D I TH S ME O TIV U U CU N AT ISS SE E N P S LT TH G U CU ST DI O UR E E E TIO AT NG ME E S ME TS N ISTI RA OF UR DIA IN CS PE T RO HO AB , A HE UN PE OU SER AM D B S O T R A I ES I F O S H PE F DD IN G
of rapes are not reported or prosecuted
AVERAGE NUMBER OF YEARLY RAPE CASES IN THE U.S. IS 207,754 THAT NUMBER CONSISTS OF OVER 112,187 RAPES REPORTED TO POLICE
of reported rapes aren’t prosecuted
AND 95,566 RAPES THAT REMAIN UNRECOGNIZED AND UNPROSECUTED U.S. Dept. of Justice
of reported rapists are never faced with a conviction
FBI & Dept. of Justice, 2006-20-01
When asked whether or not “Certain women are more likely to be raped due to their flirting, teasing or promiscuous behavior”
58% AGREE of 100 Paly students surveyed responded
UN R T APE IN IS CR A V O FP IM ICI E, OU IC ER TIM PE AN S T R S D O N ATO N A D O TO TIO RS THE F S PR A V UF NAL AND NU M E O FE L GE VAI IC R IN Y W THE ER H IR O LS E W D F T IN H SILE O IN H TH IE N IS SI CE FR RA IS E
STATISTICS SHOWN HERE WERE TAKEN FROM THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, THE FBI AND A SURVEY DISTRIBUTED TO PALO ALTO HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS ONLINE ASKING THEIR OPINIONS ON QUESTIONS CONCERNING RAPE.
The same focus group answered 78% disagree to the statement, “A lot of people, especially women, are too likely to label a sexual encounter as ‘rape’”
IS A RI VIC M E IO M , AN US E EN R O D
THE STATE OF
Page design by NOAM SHEMTOV Illustration by HANAKO GALLAGHER
BREAKING THE SILENCE
WE NEED TO CHANGE THE WAY WE THINK ABOUT RAPE Text by WILL QUEEN Photography by LISIE SABBAG
N AUG. 11, 2012 in Steubenville, Oh., Trent Mays and Ma’lik Richmond, two members of the Steubenville High School football team, brought a drunk 16-year-old girl to several parties and raped her. On March 17, 2013, Mays and Richmond were convicted of rape. Mays is also guilty of distributing a nude photo of her. Mays will serve at least two years in juvenile detention, while Richmond will spend at least one, and both need to register as sex offenders. But somehow, some elements of the mainstream media has sympathized with the rapists. Many blamed the girl, saying she should not have gone to the party and gotten drunk. Such statements create an incredibly negative environment for rape survivors, which makes it next to impossible to recover from the traumatic event. Rape victims are often afraid or ashamed to come forward and tell someone that they have been raped for fear of getting judged as a lesser person because they are seen as promiscuous, as if they somehow could have caused the rape. Rape is, by definition an act in which someone is forced to have sex against their will. America needs to reassess the way it views and deals with rape, because without reform, the situation will only get worse.
According to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, one in six women has been a victim of rape or an attempted rape in her lifetime, and one in 33 men; 17 million women and 2.7 million men in this country have been raped or sexually assaulted. Rape is not specific to a single area or group of people. Out of every 100 rapes, only 46 are reported to the police. Of the 46 that are reported, only 12 of the reported rapes will lead to an arrest. Only nine of those arrests will lead to a prosecution. Only five of those prosecutions will lead to a felony conviction. Out of those five convictions, only three of the rapists will ever spend time behind bars, according to RAINN. Even more terrifying is that many of these are cases of acquaintance rape, or as it is better known, date rape. According to research conducted by the Roger Williams University, 84 percent of rape survivors in the United States knew their assailant prior to the rape, and 57 percent of those rapes occurred during a date. In other words, most rapists get away with it. As a guy, the issue is a little bit difficult to deal with. In addressing the situation, my gender does not have the innocence that the female gender holds, as rapes are usually committed by males, not females. Before I delve into the subject, I need to make some-
thing very clear. Not all men are bad. There is a statement that compares a man raping a woman to a shark attacking its prey. For this argument to be true, all men would rape women. This would mean that all men are thoughtless beasts who are unable to control themselves and will commit rape without pause. On top of the entirely untrue nature of the argument, it hinders any progress in the fight against rape. If we just tell ourselves “Oh well, what can you do,” we are saying that rape is inevitable. We are accepting it as a fact of life. We need to do the exact opposite. To fight the terrible situation, we also need to readdress the usage of the word “rape.” The word “rape” has almost taken on a different meaning due to how much the word is thrown around. People say the word “rape” to replace words like ‘beat.” Somehow “rape” has become slang, and because it is used in less serious situations, some of the power of the word is taken away. Victims are too afraid to tell anyone, and most people consider rape a taboo subject. To face the problem of rape, we need to remove the taboo and open the floodgates for growth and progression in the prevention of rape. There are an amazing few who reach out to rape survivors to help them, but the majority of our country does not
take a stand on the subject. Saying things like “rape is bad” to feel more personally accomplished does not stop a person from raping someone and does not heal the wounds of a survivor. That approach is passive. We as a society need to make an active attempt to make the subject of discussing and dealing with the recovery from rape less awkward and shameful, because the survivors didn’t do anything wrong. Rape is an epidemic in our society, one that somehow has gone mostly under the radar. If as many people in this country were suffering from a disease as the number who have been raped, there would be a media panic. Yet, there isn’t one. The subject needs to become something that can be discussed constructively, and it cannot be treated as a joke. It cannot be something that people are afraid of. If everyone stays silent, rape will continue to happen with nothing to stop it. People need to break the taboo of discussing rape, because as soon as enough people join the cause, there will be a revolution, and rape will no longer define who people are. v
TAKING IT SERIOUSLY EVER MADE A RAPE JOKE? THIS COLUMN IS FOR YOU. Text and Graphics by SAVANNAH CORDOVA
E’VE GIVEN the Steubenville incident nearly eight months of our attention now, through headlines and 11 p.m. newscasts and its very own Wikipedia page. By now we should have addressed every possible concern related to the events of that nowinfamous August night. But we haven’t. Not by a long shot. Because in safe, secure, progressive Palo Alto, everyone’s still thinking, “Sure, it was awful, but it could never happen here.” Imagine if the whole country thought like that. Imagine a society of passivity and denial, with no real action taken to stop rape from happening. Sounds bad, but this is the reality of rape culture in the United States. And rape culture, in which prevalent societal attitudes normalize sexual violence, is caused first and foremost by an underlying lack of respect for women. Of course this is not meant to dismiss the trauma that male victims of rape have experienced. It’s just another harsh reality: 85 percent of rape victims are female. When rapists rape, they act on a misogynistic mindset, a perspective that helps them justify their horrible deeds. They consider a woman’s body to be public property, intended to serve others, regardless of what the woman herself wants. For some rapists, this is a conscious thought process. However, for most rapists, and for far too many people in general, this kind of misogyny is completely internalized — and begins early on in life. According to information collected by the New York City Alliance Against Sexual Assault, 51 percent of 11 to 14-year-old boys and 41 percent of girls think a man has the right to force a woman to kiss him if he “spends a lot of money on her.” 87 percent of boys and 79 percent of girls of the same age group believe that rape is acceptable if the man and the woman are
married. Much more frighteningly, a survey of college-age men revealed that 35 percent of them would rape someone if they were guaranteed not to get caught. Misogyny has become a constant force in our day-to-day lives; this is true for both the nation and the forward-thinking community of Palo Alto High School, even in seemingly innocuous ways. Take Spirit Week. Everybody loves Spirit Week! The costumes are always fun, the floats impressive and Facebook gets flooded with pictures that we’ll look back on fondly for years to come. Spirit Week is a grand old time, and nobody wants to mess with it — except me.
For every year that I’ve attended Paly, I’ve heard spirit cheers that blatantly bully and slut-shame not only entire classes, but also specific individuals within those classes. And it’s no coincidence that the targets of these cheers are almost exclusively girls. “Six hundred likes, that’s a crime/Try putting on clothes next time,” read one of the more memorable chants on the Class of 2013 Facebook page last November. My personal favorite comment on that thread was when someone pointed out that we probably shouldn’t be calling the underclassmen “skanks” because it would make us lose points. Apparently, the reallife implications of women-hating slurs don’t matter too much, but God forbid we place behind the juniors in Spirit Week rankings.
All in good fun, though, right? It’s not entirely my classmates’ fault. They don’t know what they’re doing wrong because no one has ever explained to them the consequences of internalized misogyny. I really shouldn’t blame them for conforming to standards (no matter how skewed) set by the society in which they’ve grown up. But the fact is that as long as we continue to objectify, insult and demonstrate a general lack of respect for women, we maintain those problematic standards. Our thoughtless comments perpetuate misogyny, which perpetuates rape culture, which perpetuates rape. What if you could prevent that? While open discussion is critical in achieving this goal, as is fair portrayal of rape and its perpetrators in the media, here’s what nobody has told you yet: you can prevent rape. You can prevent rape, and you don’t even have to volunteer for any program or arm yourself with pepper spray. Keep your comments to yourself. If they are derogatory to women in any way, and do your best to call out anyone you see or hear being misogynistic, even if they’re trying to be funny. This includes women in the kitchen jokes, “dumb blonde” jokes and, very obviously, jokes about women getting raped (I’m looking at you, Daniel Tosh). It doesn’t matter that we live in Palo Alto, where we’re all supposed to be so socially aware as to have transcended this entire conversation. It doesn’t matter if you believe you’re being ironic or postfeminist or whatever you think gives you license to not respect women. If you’re helping to keep misogyny alive and kicking, you are supporting rape culture. You are making it possible for the monsters who commit rape to get away with it, and you should be worried about that. Stop trivializing rape. Stop making excuses. Recognize that treating women like inferior beings is not okay, and that rape is not either. It’s that simple. v
Photo by JAMIE ALLENDORF HUMAN BEINGS WELCOME THE GREEN WE SPEND ON BEING GREEN MORE THAN JUST THE MEAN KID ON THE PLAYGROUND RESCINDED CRACKING THE SAT RISING TO THE TOP PEDAL TO THE METAL
26 29 31 33 35 36 38
HUMAN BEINGS WELCOME LOCAL COMMUNITY CENTER PROMOTES SELF-IMPROVEMENT
SMALL GROUP of boys crowds into the parking lot of the Riekes Center for Human Enhancement, preparing for a game of basketball. From one of the center’s many music rooms comes the faint chords of “Hold On” by the Alabama Shakes, as a local high school band seeks to discover its own rhythm and sound. The walls, painted in hues of orange and key lime, are covered by photographs which depict Riekes Center alumni in their moments of glory, and murals representing the center’s artistic talent. The center, at 3455 Edison Way, Menlo Park, focuses on creative arts, athletic fitness and nature awareness, and consists of a gym, batting cages, recording and film
studio and an outdoor fire pit and basketball court. The program serves people of all ages, offering activities that range from archery to photography. Since the opening of the center in 1995, tens of thousands of people have walked the halls. But the core values of self-supervision, honest communication and sensitivity to others remain the central focus of founder Gary Riekes, who aspires to infuse them into every aspect of the center’s operations. Creative Arts A column of light shines on an old mahogany piano that sits in the corner of a narrow room. The sunshine highlights the tubes of paint resting on the keys and the paintbrushes that lie strewn across the top.
“This department teaches any kind of art — whatever you want to learn,” says Jonah Moshammer, a home-schooled senior and regular member of the center. “We can teach you realistic sketching, or really abstract art.” The next room houses the Riehm Institute, which offers hip-hop, one of the most unique programs at the center. “We do song-writing and beat-making here after school,” hip-hop and spoken word instructor Rahman Jamaal says. “It includes elements like learning how to DJ and how to mix songs and use the turntables as a musical instrument,” Jamaal says, adding that the institute also teaches students to break dance and perform crowd control. Upstairs, students learn how to print, enlarge and color their photos by hand in
RIEKES CENTER AT WORK: (above, left to right) a member’s painting rests on an easel; founder Gary Riekes walks the halls; a boy prepares to throw a football; another lifts weights; members’ art hangs from a wall in the center of the art room.
the photography room. The center also offers courses in Photoshop and cinematic arts. While visual arts make up a large segment of the center’s area, there is also an emphasis on musical expression. Paly students Remi Wolf and Chloe Zilliac, who perform together as the band Remi & Chloe, record in the studio regularly. “The music program is really awesome,” Zilliac says. “It’s different than traditional music lessons, it’s student goal-oriented, which is a unique set-up. No other program could let us [Remi & Chloe] do this effectively.” The center, which holds bimonthly recitals, encourages all age and skill levels to participate, allowing Wolf and Zilliac to work with a wide range of artists.
Performances are often semi-spontaneous, with rehearsals as short as five minutes. This impulsivity, according to Riekes, helps to build the community and talents. “You know, when you first come here, there’s every reason why you shouldn’t be comfortable — it’s a strange place,” Riekes says. “But within minutes, or however long it takes you, there’s every reason you would be comfortable here.”
are held at Huddart County Park in Woodside. “It [the Riekes Center] has a big community emphasis, so we all learn how to work together and be part of a community while contributing our own personal self to it,” Moshammer says. “We do backpacking trips and a lot of team-building exercises and plant-animal identification and we play a bunch of games.”
Nature Awareness The Riekes Center’s other main department, Nature Awareness, advocates learning survival skills and working in the outdoors. One of the most popular activities is the “Fire by Friction” tutorial, which teaches the basics of making fire without matches. Most of the outdoor workshops
Athletic Fitness Riekes strolls around the floor of the gym and greets each member by name, asking them how their workouts and other activities are going. He seems to know every person in the center, which he says has 5,000 to 7,000 members. Everyone is greeted with a handshake, a smile and occasionally some
Text and Photography by KATY ABBOTT and JAMIE ALLENDORF
READY, SET, RIEKES: Students stretch their hands up to the sky in one of the athletic programs offered at the center. questions on how they intend to accomplish their goals. On any given afternoon, the center’s extensive athletic facilities are sure to be filled with masses of students for after school workouts. The center’s dedication to athletes has produced alumni such as former San Francisco 49ers football player Jeff Ulbrich and Stanford University basketball coach Kate Paye. “People here can work out under different programs,” Moshammer says. “We have the CORE programs, so you get a folder and a trainer will take you through the first three workouts when you come and after that time you can decide when you want to come in by yourself and work out.” Riekes, who initially aspired to be a professional football player, knows a lot about fitness. After being sidelined with a back injury, he decided that he wanted to help others attain their dreams. The center, which Riekes initially con-
ceived in 1974, consisted of little more than private lessons on athletic fitness, hosted in his own backyard. But it soon blossomed into a multi-focus organization that required its own space, so Riekes moved it to its current location in a Menlo Park warehouse in order to pursue his vision. At every possible moment, Riekes incorporates his own distinctive philosophy, which can seem unorthodox and at times, even silly. “Say somebody’s in the hospital and we hear that they’re struggling,” Riekes says. “I’ll send someone and she’s going to give him a gift packet that has this [a fart machine]. And this is going to make him laugh.” Riekes highlights this approach for its lack of pity. He doesn’t want anyone to feel sorry for anyone else, or feel burdensome. In fact, he says he only wants members who can dedicate themselves to making everyone feel valued. “The only admissions requirement is
that you make everyone feel important and comfortable,” Riekes says. “It’s not a private club and there’s no exclusivity; it’s a place of non-judgment.” Riekes’ fundamental message is one of teaching and acceptance. A veteran with only one arm can learn mouthpiece archery, in which the string is pulled back with the mouth rather than the other arm, and eventually then teach it to someone else, discovering, as Riekes says, a skill that “brings them joy” and then teaching others “that same skill and joy.” As the dinner hour approaches, the basketball players leave, but the sounds of “Up, down!” and clashing weights continue to fill the halls, along with chords signalling the start of guitar practice. For Jonah Moshammer, Remi & Chloe and all of the other thousands of members of the Riekes Center, this is what it’s all about. “It’s a place for whatever your dreams are,” Riekes says. “You should be free to explore.” v
THE GREEN WE SPEND ON BEING GREEN
REDUCING COSTS AND OUR CARBON FOOTPRINT
Text by KATIE EBINGER and BRYAN WONG Illustrations by DIANA CONNOLLY Data Provided by REBECCA NAVARRO
ALO ALTO HAS been striving to promote energy saving for public facilities and urging citizens to take an active part in Palo Alto Green since 2006. No different from the rest of the city, Palo Alto High School is doing its part to reduce its carbon footprint. Rebecca Navarro, the overseer of Palo Alto Unified School District’s energy usage since June 2011, has spent her time working with the district to decrease money spent on energy and increase environmental stainability. “There has been a huge change at Paly,” Navarro says. “This year alone we have been able to decrease [energy related] costs by 30 percent.” Here are the numbers from the 2011 school year. v
THIRSTY FOR MORE (SAVINGS): Paly is under a cost-avoidance program (CAP) that conserves electricity, water and natural gas.
Electricity Paly has saved $41,363 over the last year on its electricity bill, conservation due largely to turning off exterior lights overnight. “We are also turning off all exterior lights 30 minutes after the last custodial shift and turning it on 30 minutes before the first shift,” Navarro says. “We used to leave the lights on at night to prevent vandalism and graffiti and improve campus security, but we found out that the lights don’t really make a big difference.” Some areas for improvement are the common areas of the school, such as the library. “They [faculty members] don’t usually take responsibility to turn the lights off in the common areas,” Navarro says. Water According to the PAUSD annual energy reports, in comparison to the 2010 school year, Paly decreased its water usage by 20 percent last year, from 32,799 cubic feet to 25,520 cubic feet. Even though it might not seem like much, that adds to a total of 5,444,692 gallons of water saved. “[We] put low-flow aerators in as many sinks and showers as possible,” Navarro says. Aerators help reduce water flow by spitting water streams into many little droplets. In addition, Paly’s new turf fields save an immense amount of water because they don’t require irrigation, thus saving the immense costs of maintaining the fields. . Natural Gas This year, Paly has reduced the use of natural gas by 19.7 percent by enforcing temperature limits in classrooms and limiting the duration in which the heat, ventilation and air conditioning is turned on. “During the winter, the heater can’t be set any higher than 69 degrees and you can only cool the room down to 72 degrees in the summer,” Navarro says. “The HVAC [heating, ventilation and air conditioning] is a big natural gas hog because Paly has a rooftop unit for each building instead of individual furnaces for each classroom. If one room wants it [HVAC] turned on, then we’d have to turn it on for the whole building.” Did You Know? According to Navarro, Paly saved 6,804 Million Metric British Thermal Units of energy last year compared to the 2010-2011 school year, the equivalent of taking 72 cars off the street or 10,190 trees over a period of 10 years. Without CAP — Used: 32799 ft3 With CAP — Used: 25,520 ft3 last year
David T. Constant, D.D.S. Victor Leong, D.D.S. Orthodontics for Adults & Children
2875 MiddleďŹ eld Road Palo Alto, California 94306 (650) 321-7066 (650) 327-5069 FAX
THE BULLIES BEYOND THE PLAYGROUND
PALO ALTO HIGH SCHOOL STILL ISN’T SAFE FROM BULLYING Text by WILL QUEEN Art by DIANA CONNOLLY
ATE ON JAN. 27, Palo Alto High School students experienced an unexpected incident of bullying. Using a Tumblr blog named “Palo Alto Gossip Girl,” an anonymous student posted sensitive information about the personal lives of Paly students, and encouraged students to send in gossip about their friends. The reaction was immediate and aggressive. Some students talked about how entertaining the gossip was, while others took the opportunity to speak out about the power that online bullying can have over someone. Many empathized with the victims. In the past couple of years, the Internet has come to play a huge role in the social interactions between teenagers. Social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr have revolutionized the methods of bullying. One in seven people on the planet now have a Facebook account. Twitter now has 500,000,000 registered Twitter accounts. Tumblr has 101,000,000 active blogs. Add these all up, and what do you have? A breeding ground for negative speech and imagery. Although Paly often seems too accepting and inclusive for bullies, the truth behind the numbers is startling. When Verde conducted an online survey among Palo Alto High School students, asking them to respond to several questions about bullying at Paly, 54 percent of responders considered bullying at Paly to be prevalent. “It’s difficult for students to grasp this idea of bullying because for some people,
including myself sometimes, we subconsciously think that actions can only be categorized as bullying if they’re incredibly severe and obviously destructive,” sophomore Claire Liu says. “I think there is bullying at Paly, we just don’t realize it’s bullying, and we don’t want to label people as bullies because it feels like too severe of a title.” Of the 138 survey takers, 77 percent said they knew someone who has been bullied during their time at Paly. Just over a third of people say they have been bullied, and three out of four people have allegedly witnessed it happening. Some argue that because of Paly’s reputation as a very accepting and responsible community, bullying is minimal. In such an education-focused area, blatant bullying may consequently be seen as unintelligent and ignorant. But that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist. “I think the severe self-esteem problems that bullies often possess could possibly be the result of growing up in such a demanding and seemingly perfect community,” Liu adds. “Worrying that they won’t be able to fill expectations that might be set for them. Of course, I’m no expert, and bullying is everywhere, even in less competitive and ‘driven’ communities. “I feel like the most common type is bullying for not being smart enough, as strange as that may sound,” one senior says. “I was bullied sophomore year by three people in one of my classes,” another unnamed senior says. “They kind of ganged up on me. I don’t want to mention names, but the three of them teased me for having an eating disorder when I didn’t even have one. They were so rude. It was sickening
IN OUR SCHOOLS Survey takers were asked if they have been bullied while at Paly, or if they knew someone who has been bullied. The results are below.
People who have been victimized by bullies
People who know someone who has been victimized by bullies
and to think how they’d treat someone they think has a mental illness like that is completely appalling.” Still, there is a common perception that it is easy to shake off past bullying. However, people can experience trauma from physical bullying, and words can stick with a person indefinitely, even after those physical wounds heal. The lasting psychological effects of bullying are deep, leading to loss of selfworth and depression, and possibly suicide. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide is the third most common cause of death among people age 15-24 years old. 15 percent of that age group has admitted to contemplating suicide at least once, with 7 percent making an actual attempt. A February 2013 study on bullying conducted by Duke University revealed that childhood bullying, even as early as elementary school, can lead to a heightened vulnerability to psychological issues later in life compared to people who have not been bullied.
The study began in 1993, and followed 1420 children aged nine, 11 and 13 in 13 North Carolina counties as they grew up. They were routinely asked if they had experienced bullying. One thousand, two hundred and seventy of the original subjects were followed through the entirety of the study, and 421 of those studied admitted they had been a victim of bullying. These people were found to be more likely to suffer from psychiatric issues in adulthood, according to the study. Paly’s bullying situation is not out of control, and the stereotypical “bully” characters are uncommon, but your fellow students may still feel the pain of your words, words that can be powerful enough to change a person, and not for the better. Across the nation, the issue of bullying is still incredibly prevalent. Several organizations have been created to fight the epidemic, including the Not in Our Town and Not in Our Schools programs. Paly has been hosting Not in Our Schools Week since 2006, and every year it
brings people together in celebration of togetherness and acceptance. Paly’s guidance counselors also offer personal counseling for those who are having problems in their personal lives. The counselors can only help so much. They will not see every incident of bullying that occurs on campus, so as students of Palo Alto High School, if you seem someone getting picked on, stand up for them, or bring it up with the administration. You may improve the rest of their life. v
HELP If you are bullied and feel you need outside help, visit Paly’s guidance counselors in the Tower Building or call Adolescent Counseling Services at (650) 329-9410.
MANY WAYS In an online survey conducted March 20-22, 2013, students indicated ways they had been bullied. The results are listed below, showing the percents of students who had been victim to each type of bullying.
TO S TAY E IE EB INGE N R
Text by KA T
s the PROSPECT OF LEAVING PALO a D in one of her core classes, but after calling her college’s office Alto High School for good draws nearer for the of admissions and explaining that she was working to improve her seniors, another future also looms: having admission grade, the school agreed to allow her to stay, provided she retake at a “dream college” revoked. While being rescinded the course over the summer. Sadly, this is far from the norm for is rare for Paly students, according to Paly college students receiving subpar grades, according to Cernobori, so in counselor Sandra Cernobori, it is still something to be thinking general it is important not to slack off during second semester. about. The sort of event that can lead to being rescinded includes Disciplinary trouble can also result in a college revoking your a significant drop in grades for coursework, a disciplinary problem, admission. Suspensions and arrests often cause colleges to change or any falsehood on your application. their minds, especially if drugs or violence are involved. However, ‘‘There must be a major shift from the person you applied as,’’ less serious violations of school policy, such as streaking, can be Cernobori says. a different story. Another former Paly student planned to streak Usually for a college to reconsider a last year and worried that her college student’s application because of grades, would revoke her acceptance. In order there must be a significant change to avoid this situation, the student called “There must be a major in GPA. Although the University of the office of admission at her school and shift from the person California recommends maintaining asked what the consequences would be. you applied as [to be a GPA above a 3.0 throughout senior After a hearty laugh from the admissions year, everything is taken case by case, officer, the officer recommended against it rescinded].” according to Cernobori. And contrary — Sandra Cernobori, College but maintained that the student would not to conventional beliefs, non-core rescinded. Counselor classes still count after sending in your Lying on an application often leads application. to negative consequences, according to Unfortunately, the exact number Green Ivy Tutoring college counselor Ana of rescinded students is impossible to know for sure because Homayoun. The University of California, for example, relies on it often goes unreported to the school, according to Ann self-reported grades, so if the grades you sent in are found to be Deggelman, the Teacher Advisor coordinator at Paly. However, inaccurate, it is likely the UC will revoke your acceptance. If you Paly students have been rescinded in the past for not maintaining are in this boat, call the college right away to see if you can reverse adequate grades, a category generally constituted by a D in a class the verdict. According to Cernobori, colleges like to see if you or dropped classes second semester. are proactive, so make sure to call if you are in danger of being If during the second semester you hope to drop a class or aim rescinded. to get by with a low grade, Deggelman and Cernobori recommend If any of this sounds familiar to you, make sure to talk to your calling the admissions office at the school where you have been future college sooner, rather than later and try to work something admitted. A Paly grad whose name has been withheld was earning out. You never know — you might be able to turn the verdict
PUTTING AN END TO THE RUMORS Text and Art by ANGELA XU
Answers to this quiz can be found upside down at the bottom of the quiz.
Directions: For each question in this sections, select the best answer from among the choices given and fill in the corresponding circle on the answer sheet.
Test your knowlege of the SAT. Each sentence below has a question. Beneath the question are five answer choices labeled A through E. Choose the answer that best fits the question. Example:
The curve adjustment of the SAT fluctuates from session to session, so the better curve tends to be more generous in . (A) January (B) March (C) June (D) December (E) None of the above A
For every incorrect question, the SAT deducts points from your total raw score. (A) (B) (C) (D) (E)
0 ¼ 1 2 4
The SAT can be used to predict
(A) (B) (C) (D) (E)
What college the student can get into How much money the person will make It cannot be used to predict anything Freshman year college GPA None of the above Answers: B, D
S A GENERAL rule of thumb, SAT test takers aim to attain the highest score possible. Naturally, any student would jump at a chance for a higher SAT score, especially if it just requires taking the test at a specific time of year. According to one rumor, in January or June, there is a period in which the overall test taking population does poorly, resulting in favorable alterations and higher scores. Too bad it isn’t true. According to the College Board, the SAT is scored equally from test version to test version and standardized nationally through a method called “equating.” “On every SAT there are nine sections that are scored and then there’s a 10th section on what they call experimental or equating section,” Aaron Andrikopoulos, an SAT tutor at AJ Tutoring in Palo Alto,
says. “They use that section to run a statistical analysis on all of the students who are taking a test on a given test date.” The College Board uses the data from the 10th section, which remains unchanged each year to make a standardized curve as an accurate guideline to measure the difficulty of a SAT test and adjust scores proportionately. “Equating adjusts for slight differences in difficulty between test editions and ensures that a student’s score of, say, 450 on one edition of a test reflects the same ability as a score of 450 on another edition of the test,” the College Board’s SAT score explanation page states. With this standardization, test takers are guaranteed fair accurate scoring on the SAT regardless of when the test is taken. The standardization of the SAT is made accurate for good reason. In 2006, the College Board ran a national validity
study of the SAT to evaluate its effectiveness in predicting college outcomes. “Studies have found that the SAT is not only a valid predictor of first-year college GPA, but also predicts fourth-year cumulative GPA,” the College Board says in a presentation on the validity of the SAT. “As a result, colleges and universities need to be sure that each admission factor [such as the SAT] is a valid and reliable predictor of desired college outcomes for their specific population of students.” Therefore it would be beneficial to both the student and the colleges they apply to if the SAT scores authentically reflected the student’s best abilities to find the college that best suits the students. “If you get your score up artificially high, you’re going to be in a school that might not end up being the best match for you and you’re going to be in there heel over heads,” Andrikopoulos says. v
RISING TO THE TOP
SCIENCE OLYMPIAD LOOKS FORWARD TO THE STATE COMPETITION AND FUTURE GROWTH Text by SAMANTHA DEWEES Photo courtesy of GRACE LIN
T 2 A.M. ON A SATURDAY, build a mechanical device in 50 minutes. SciOly competitions are split up into a daily schedule with an assortment of Palo Alto High School stuone-hour events from morning until afternoon. Junior Annie dents, armed with backpacks, pile into a bus in anticipation of the long drive ahead. They Chen, a member of the Green Team, explains the intensity of the carry with them an array of weapons: calcula- competition environment during study events. “Other schools’ teams are competing right next to you and tors and science texts covering topics from biology to astronomy to advanced physics. Despite the early hour, the students are en- everyone is really focused,” Chen says. “Partners will whisper to each other so the other teams don’t hear [and] everyone’s writing ergized and eager, awaiting the state competition looming ahead. “There’s a certain amount of energy on a bus at 2 a.m.,” ju- really fast too because one hour is actually not a lot of time to take nior Grace Lin explains, recounting her experience of the first the tests given.” Kim says the competition environment is hectic but exciting. time she attended the California state competition two years ago. “The competition is a totally craLin is one of the three student presizy atmosphere,” Kim says. “[There dents in charge of this group: Paly’s are] dozens of high school teams and Science Olympiad team. “We like to think of ourselves middle school teams, all with food, Science Olympiad, also known engineering equipment and parents. as SciOly, is a nationwide non-profit as not just a team, but a very You always see students sprinting organization intended to promote convoluted family.” around the campus, whether it is to student interest in science. At Paly, — Grace Lin, junior get super glue or to bring goggles. where SciOly takes the form of a There’s a lot of energy going around.” year-long club, there are two teams: Kim, Lin and senior Jeffrey Ling, the Green Team’s other enthe Green Team, which, according to engineering president senior Alvin Kim, is like the “A-team” and has made it to state competi- gineering president, agree that the primary challenge for the Green tions, and the White Team, the “B-team,” which competes at the Team at the state competition will be Mira Loma, a school with a nearly 20-year-long winning record. regional level and provides members with engineering experience. “Mira Loma High School wins every year,” Ling says. “Our SciOly teams of 15 students compete at regional, state, and goal is always to defeat them, since only first place can advance national levels in 23 different science-related event categories. This from states to nationals. So far we have been doing fairly well with February, the Paly Green Team won first place in the Bay Area good performances in all events, but the year is far from over.” Regional Science Olympiad by 80 points — their third straight Lin believes the team has a good chance at making the navictory — and qualified for the state competition in mid-April. tional competition this year, and says they have been preparing at “We’re currently fine-tuning our events to prepare,” Kim says. least five hours a week for states. “If we win first [place in states] then we go to nationals in May.” “We really think it can happen this year, so people are defiThe competition events are either study or engineering-based, and students often specialize in a specific area of expertise. Study- nitely excited and working hard to see if we can beat Mira Loma,” Lin says. based events include an hour-long test, to be taken by a team of Kim hopes to improve the engineering skills of the team, as at least two students, and engineering events require students to
SCIOLY GREEN TEAM, from left to right: Alex Lu, Grace Lin, Michael Wang, Jeffrey Yan, Jeffrey Ling, Alvin Kim, Gary Chen, Jasen Liu, Ken Chen, Stephenie Zhang, Max Krawczyk, Annie Chen, coach Shawn Leonard Not pictured: Sonia Targ, Nicholas Quach, John Kim he expects the building events to be a deciding factor in the state team well-rounded and focused during competitions. competition. “It’s kind of nice to make scientific jokes and have people get “My personal goal is to make our engineering earn first to them,” she says. “We like to think of ourselves as not just a team, third place in all of the events,” Kim says. “While we placed de- but a very convoluted family.” cently at regionals, engineering is normally our downfall at states, Chen enjoys the distinct sense of community that SciOly proso I really want to make sure that we turn our weakness into one vides. of our strengths.” “The best part about SciOly is the people,” Chen says. “There He notes that a challenge for the team is the lack of funding are some people I don’t think I would have ever become friends for quality building materials. with if I didn’t meet them through SciOly. Even though the com“We don’t have the sponsoring and money that the big name mon perception might be that SciOly is a club for people who schools like Mira Loma get, so we often have to rely on our own really like science, we all have our own different interests.” equipment we have at home,” Kim Chen adds that she has gained says. “While this can suffice, it would knowledge concerning a variety of have been great if we could have used science topics from her time on the better tools and better building equipSciOly team. “Looking back now, I’m so ment to improve the quality of our “SciOly is great because it has proud of how much we’ve devices.” events that focus on more obscure accomplished so far.” Chen adds that another challenge sciences like identification and astron— Alvin Kim, senior omy so there’s always something new for the team is replacing the seniors every year, as the seniors, who are the to learn,” Chen says. “Although there most experienced, tend to drive the team forward in competitions. are chemistry, physics and biology related events, the science you “Our seniors usually carry the team by competing in the most learn can be so different from what you learn in a classroom.” events and specialized events,” Chen says. “We’re trying to solve After months of preparation and a big win in the regional this issue by encouraging our younger team members to study dif- competition this winter, Kim feels the SciOly team will continue ferent events more so they can fill in the gaps as the years go by. to grow and improve over the coming years. We also mentor a middle school SciOly team to try to increase “Looking back now, I’m so proud of how much we’ve accominterest in SciOly even before they enter high school.” plished so far,” Kim says. “Seeing that we have such a young team, Despite these obstacles, Kim, Ling, Lin and Chen feel that I know that our SciOly team will be strong for years to come.” SciOly has been a worthwhile experience so far, as they have acLin says she wants to continue to promote hard work and quired many useful skills and enjoyed working together as a team. good performance at future competitions. “Our study meetings are not too intense at all and instead “I’m very excited and proud to be a SciOly president and we spend a lot of time bonding,” Kim says. “We really emphasize to continue our stellar performance at competitions,” Lin says. the team part of SciOly, and it shows in how close we all are with “There’s a lot of support on this team, and we try to continue each other.” that environment, that acceptance. We try to repeat our perforLin values maintaining a close team bond, as this keeps the mance.” v
PEDAL TO THE METAL STUDENTS GET REAL WORLD EXPERIENCE IN AUTO SHOP Text and Photography by CHARU SRIVASTAVA
UTO SHOP, one of the lesser known classes at Palo Alto High School, is home to all things cars. Students often bring in their own cars to fix broken parts, conduct safety inspections or restore the entire engine. The auto class introduces students to mechanical problems experienced in real life, while giving them adequate training and tools to repair cars. Hereâ€™s a look inside the auto shop. v
OPPOSITE PAGE, LEFT TO RIGHT: 1. Junior Austin Hake changes a tire. 2. Students use nuts and bolts for many auto projects. 3. Junior Grace Gringon takes a break from fixing the water pump of her car. THIS PAGE, TOP DOWN: 4. Auto teacher Doyle Knight teaches students how to conduct a car safety inspection. 5. Students often use a pump to fill tires with air. 6. RIGHT: Rows of rubber tires line the walls of the auto shop.
CULTURE MARTIAL ARTS UNMASKED BROOKLYN MEATS THE BAY AREA SPRINGING INTO SPRING SEALED IN INK PIERCED WITH DESIRE
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unmasked LOCAL ATHLETES SHARE THEIR EXPERIENCES WITH THESE COMMONLY STEREOTYPED SPORTS Text and Photo Illustration by OLIVIA KOYAMA
Though most martial arts originate in Asian countries and have been popularized primarily by Asian athletes and actors, not all our local athletes participate for cultural reasons. Although Palo Alto High School excels in popular sports such as football and volleyball, numerous martial artists are hidden within the student body.
KICKING: Ben Lin (left) coaches Gavin Chan (right) with taekwondo drills at Piers Park in early spring. Chan focuses on keeping his head and arms up while perfomining high kicks.
TAEKWONDO As the most popular form of martial arts, taekwondo emphasizes kicking form. Lin practices non-traditional taekwondo. “Our practices are very informal,” Lin says. “There is no bowing or commands in other languages.” The casual environment and coaching format, like that of any other sport, varies among different clubs. “I have tried many different types of taekwondo,” Lin says. “I don’t practice traditional taekwondo, so I don’t focus much on spirituality.” Lin first started giving lessons to senior Gavin Chan and junior Kevin Zhang. Gavin is a highly ranked badminton player and Lin offered taekwondo lessons to Chan, a
T PIERS PARK on a Friday afternoon, onlookers stare while a pair of Palo Alto High School students shuffle across the grass. “Remember, don’t let anyone know that you know taekwondo,” a stranger comments while passing by with his preoccupied toddler grandson. “I think people just assume [that we know taekwondo],” senior Ben Lin responds. The man laughs. “Now why would they think that,” the man sarcastically remarks.
highly ranked badminton player, in exchange for badminton les- Greenwood says. “If I felt inadequate, karate would boost my sons for his sister. self-esteem.” Taekwondo is a Korean form of martial arts and the only martial art competition in the Olympics. The speed-based sport is KEMPO judged electronically, using a circuit board to award points on the Junior Jafar Alkenany practices kempo, a martial arts form scoreboard which judges would normally miss. that has been practiced by many different Asian countries. Lin says that he plays to win. “Kempo means law of the first,” Alkenany says. “[It] is a “It is all about winning competitions,” Lin says. “When you combination of a lot of different types of martial arts.” fight someone that is experienced, it is not a matter of strength, Alkenany takes a different approach to martial arts. While Lin but all about having a good strategy.” is solely focused on competition, Alkenany practices martial arts Traditionally in taekwondo there are exams that represent the in a more traditional manner. students’ growth in the sport. “Rather than it being strictly for fun, it Senior Tiffany Nguyen, like Lin, is about trying to better yourself in a physihas achieved her second degree black cal and mental way,” Alkenanay says. “I think everyone should belt level in taekwondo. Alkenany’s inspiration for starting learn at least the basics “The physical portion of the test martial arts began in his childhood. takes roughly seven hours, making you “When I was a little kid at about five of a martial art, just as feel physically and mentally drained years old I saw a lot of Jackie Chan moveveryone should learn at afterwards,” Nguyen says. “It was exies and though that it was really cool and I least the basics of swimtremely hard.” wanted to be able to do the same things,” ming,” Lin agrees that taekwondo takes a Alkenany says. — Jon Keeling, karate instructor lot of time and work. In addition to practicing, Alkenany “It takes a certain aspect of stuteaches Kempo at United Studios of Self pidity and courage to do taekwondo,” Defense in Menlo Park. Similar to Keeling, Lin says. Alkenany has found self-reflection to be one of the major benefits of Kempo. KARATE “It has definitely taught me the physical boundaries I can take Karate is a Japanese form of martial art that that involve and the limits of myself, “Alkenany says. “But it is also very medipreararnged movements called kata to prepare for self defense. tative and stress relieving.” v Jon Keeling teaches karate with Silicon Valley Shotokan Karate. With locations at Cubberly Community Center and the Palo Alto COMPETING: Karate instructor Jon Keeling competes in a Buddhist Dojo, Keeling is trying to branch out to local teen stu- national level competition in San Francisco in 2004. He moved dents. to Japan in 1985 and spent eight years there to further his “I think everyone should learn at least the basics of a martial study of karate and Japanese. art, just as everyone should learn at least the basics of swimming,” Keeling says. After being bullied in his youth, knowing how to defend himself gave him a new sense of self-confidence. “Karate has given me control over myself,” Keeling says. “By focusing more on defensive maneuvers but done with determination, we gain confidence that we can avert bad situations and, if needed, end conflict quickly.” Keeling reflects on the benefits of learning karate when he was a teenager. He believes that the mental meditation and focus from karate can greatly benefit students. Keeling recognizes that students have many extracurricular activities and are under pressure to do well in school and says karate can be a great outlet. “Karate can offer not only self-defense skills and great exercise, but can also help immensely with improving focus and awareness,” Keeling says. “It can be great for reducing stress.” Junior Harrison Greenwood has been practicing karate since he was five years old. Unfortunately, due to overwhelming work from junior year and a surgery at the end of the summer, he has been unable to practice. Still, he is grateful for its impact on his life. “Since I’ve left, I’ve felt moments where I wish I was in the studio. When angry, I can punch the hell out of everything,”
BROOKLYN MEATS THE BAY AREA
ROAST SHOP’S SANDWICHES A SUCCESS, AMBIENCE A SCHLEMAZEL Text by NOAM SHEMTOV Photography by CHARU SRIVISTAVA
UCKED BENEATH a green awning just in front of Palo Alto City Hall, the Roast Shop is a dimly lit building whose near-emptiness you could imagine filling with extending lines of customers buzzing in anticipation of enjoying the smoky flavors and textures of the Roast Shops house-prepared meats. Owned by two anonymous partners, the Roast Shop is exactly what its name would suggest: a meat lover’s haven, dressed up as a sparse dining hall with jars of cured cauliflower and with long mahogany benches that stretch to the back of the dining area. The casual eatery debuted in late 2012, opening a new option for the area’s kosher community. According to restaurant entrepreneur Frank Klein, who assisted the partners in opening the Roast Shop, the project
PICKLED PINK Jars of tomatoes and other decor line the bench inside the Roast House, making for a pleasant atmosphere.
was met with great success in catering. A “grand opening” is expected at the beginning of April, after the end of the Jewish holiday of Passover. In most respects, the Roast Shop can be considered the lesser-known Jewish twin of Frank Klein’s Asian Box in that it aspires to be a casual, takeout-friendly spot with a low-concept menu. In the case of the Roast Shop, the menu superimposes new-California cuisine and the carved tradition of Brooklyn-style cured meats double-wrapped in brown deli paper. The aesthetic theme burns with misplaced sarcasm in places — the cow heads on the wall are paper and a poster that calls itself the Lucky Eight Rules adds a bit of abrasive humor to the experience with the admonition that “dancing is prohibited by law.” While the menu is somewhat varied,
THE ROAST SHOP has aesthetic potential, but it thus far misses the makings of a community hangout.
you get the sense that the owners are more dedicated to kosher tradition than the Californian “health” palette. The bill of fare is a paradise of smoky, cured, lean meats in weighty rye-bread sandwiches, leafy flavorful salads (the chicken is a favorite), pickled sides and aiolis that pack a hefty punch. With crusty quinoa, roasted peppers and onion rings instead of eggplants, and avocado aioli on a rye bun ($11.75), the vegetarian sub’s toothsome flavor rolls together well. Though not flat-out fantastic, the dish colors a bit outside the menu’s conservative, strictly deli-style-meat lines. Also on the menu are the more traditional deli sandwiches, including a corned beef sub whose subtle and ashy seasoning has won it some well-deserved popularity. Variously cooked and cured meats dominate the rest of the Roast Shop’s selection. The wonderfully plump chicken sub is an espe-
cially delicious option. Your sub comes with sauerkraut, which, besides adding some peppery hue to the meal, slides down with ease. On offer with the subs and Reubens is a Cel-Rey soda, a rare and deli-appropriate addition. Despite the half-baked effort at an ambience of a casual community kickback, the Roast Shop is true to its kosher roots. All the same, for a kosher food restaurant, the Roast Shop is the new take that we have been waiting for behind our thick, patriarchal beards and puts an unexpected spin on the triteness of New York-style kosher meats while executing classics to a tee. So, though it may not fill with scores of laughing friends, and despite Yelp complaints of servers with Moses-beards and no hairnets, the Roast Shop receives three out of five stars for its creative plays on banal Brooklyn Jewish cuisine. V
ROASTED VEGGIE SALAD is a flavorful departure from the Roast Shop’s mostly meat menu.
SPRING into ADVENTURE SWEET DAY TRIPS TO TAKE WITH FRIENDS THIS SEASON
PRING BREAK MAY BE OVER, but the season’s still fresh for adventure. From hiking to Go-Karting and picnicking on the beach, Verde’s adventure guide will take your mind off of fourth quarter stress. Check out the Bay Area’s lesser-known but just as amazing hang-out spots! v
Malibu Grand Prix For anyone seeking an action-filled day adventure, Redwood’s City Malibu Grand Prix is just the right place. A hub for go karts, bumper boats and mini golf, the Grand Prix features exciting ways to have fun with friends and family. If you’re looking for more challenging and extensive mini golf courses, make sure to check out San Jose’s Golfland.
• Address: 340 Blomquist St., Redwood City, CA 94063 • Time: About 10 minutes from Palo Alto • Price: Check out http://www.malibugrandprix.com/site/ • Redwood/pricing.html for a breakdown of prices on each attraction
Text and Design by SOO SONG and JACQUELINE WOO Photography by JACQUELINE WOO, SOO SONG, TIFFANY NGUYEN and CHARLOTTE BARRY
Mission Peak At the heart of Fremont, Calif., Mission Peak Regional Park features a breathtaking view of the Bay Area after a steep 3-mile hike. Some highlights on the way up include horses, cows and Mission Peak’s famous “totem pole,” which hikers usually sign after a successful climb. The view is particularly spectacular at sunrise and sunset. Since there isn’t much shade, we advise against taking midday trips. Remember to bring lots of water. Other notable local hiking trails include: Rancho San Antonio in Los Altos and Castle Rock in Los Gatos.
• Address: Stanford Ave., E. Fremont, CA 94539 • Time: About 45 minutes away; two-hour hike • Price: Free to Hike! (Public Parking $2 at Ohlone Entrance, Free at Stanford Entrance)
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San Francisco zoo From the Sumatran tiger to the Poison Dart Frog, the San Francisco Zoo offers a great variety of animal exhibits to the public 365 days a year. According to the organization’s official website, the zoo focuses on inspiring conservation action in people through their interaction with wildlife. In fact, the zoo’s “Kid’s Section” will let any visitor pet its llamas! We advise planning ahead if you want to also catch the various animal feedings and talks by zookeepers. Animal feeding times can be found on the front page of http://www.sfzoo.org.
• Address: 1 Zoo Rd., San Francisco, CA 94132 • Time: About 40 minutes away; Open 10 am- 5 pm • Price: $15
Monterey Monterey may already be known for its world-famous coastline and aquarium, but the city itself holds even more treasures. Students can grab delicious seafood and go whale watching, or explore the many boutiques and small stores situated in the small towns nearby like Pebble Beach and Carmel.
• Time: About 1.5 hours away • Price: Varies between activities Aquarium: $32 Whale watching: $49 Beach: Free Courtesy of Daniel Ramirez (jdnx on creativecommons.org)
PANTHER beach The rocks and tide pools of Panther Beach, set near Santa Cruz, Calif., offer a unique hands-on marine experience for visitors. Though the beach may be difficult to find off of Highway 1, this seclusion has helped keep the beach quiet, clean and less crowded. Panther Beach’s serene beauty makes it an ideal place for private gatherings with friends, sunbathing and sightseeing. Other beautiful but lesser-known beaches (around the same distance) are Sunset Beach in Watsonville and Tunitas Creek Beach in Half Moon Bay.
• Address: 10 Miles off Highway 1 N. Santa Cruz, CA 95067 • Time: About 1 hour away • Price: Free!
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tel: (650) 329-3837 fax: (650) 329-3753
LOCAL TATTOO ARTISTS CRITICIZE TATTOO SCHOOLS
irl meets boy. Boy tattoos girl. Girl trades date with boy in return for tattoo lessons. It’s 1904, and in a scene straight out of a “Portlandia” sketch, Maud Stevens Wagner agrees to a date with future husband Gus Wagner if he makes her his tattoo apprentice. Since then, countless tattoo apprentices have made just as intense trades: three to 10 years of your life for the right to be a tattoo artist. But for those who find this arrangement too Faustian for their tastes, there’s another solution: Tattoo schools, which promise to teach all the training required to get a tattoo license and begin legally tattooing for money, all in just two weeks. However, while tattoo hopefuls have flocked to the
schools and the ratings on TLC’s “Tattoo School” reality TV show have soared, many tattoo artists and hardcore enthusiasts have responded less than favorably. Some have even formed online petitions and Facebook groups to boycott tattoo schools. Here’s where those of you soon-to-be adults, who just can’t wait to get a dandelion turning into a bird flying in an infinity-sign formation, may want to start paying attention. (For the precocious underclassmen in the audience, we’ll deal with you later.) Tattoos are forever, and traditionally trained tattoo artists say that while a properly trained tattoo artist can turn you into a walking, talking Giger painting, a tattoo school graduate can scar you for life. “As far as the tattoo community at large goes, they detest the people who run [tattoo schools], and they don’t ac-
Text by EVELYN WANG Photography by CHARU SRIVASTAVA, EVELYN WANG and as credited Photo Illustration by EVELYN WANG
knowledge anyone who graduates from that school as worthy,” says Karen Roze, owner and tattoo artist at Sacred Rose Tattoo in Berkeley. “You should never tattoo somebody without having proper training.” To Roze and other traditionally trained artists, “proper” means a full apprenticeship. During the first two to three years of their apprenticeships, Roze’s apprentices perform miscellaneous tasks and about sanitation and bloodborne pathogens, without ever touching a tattoo machine. When they begin to tattoo, it’s under her supervision and on their own skins. They must work in the shop for another five years before they can leave and begin their own businesses. Although Roze says apprentices are unpaid as a rule, she pays her apprentices minimum wage for working two days per week and allows them
to charge $50 for small tattoos and $50 per hour on large ones, of which they get a percentage. Roze says her shop’s decade-long training builds the necessary skills and respect for the craft. “It takes years to be good at this,” she says. “Tattooing requires skills and finesse only built up over time and you can only learn it from a master. It’s very similar to woodworking or doing porcelain. You need to work under a master for a certain amount of years to even become competent at it.” Roze’s current apprentice, Ian Manley, thinks learning tattooing in two weeks is absurd. “The idea of being proficient in two weeks is unheard of,” he says. “What can I imagine learning how to do in two weeks? Maybe how to quickly and efficiently close down the shop.” But L.W. Pogue, owner of the World’s Only Tattoo School in Shreveport, La. (which may or may not be world’s first, but is certainly no longer the only, tattoo school), argues the traditional apprenticeship is unnecessary. “Under an apprenticeship, no one is truly obligated to teach you,” Pogue says on his website. “They do it at their own leisure. And you must also keep in mind that not every artist is an efficient teacher.” He also says apprenticeships waste time performing tasks irrelevant to tattooing. “My students don’t come to me to learn how to sweep and make copies,” he says. “We just tattoo. None of the hazing or teasing that comes with ‘traditional’ apprenticeships.” Unlike Roze, who says she only hires those with formal art school training as apprentices, Pogue accepts anyone into his school regardless of artistic ability, although he does recommend students understand the basics of drawing. Pogue’s two-week course, according to his website, promises a “tattoo license guarantee,” a “full set of professional tattoo equipment,” “plenty of willing human models for you to learn and practice on” and “guaranteed job placement upon completion of coursework,” among other things. “My course prepares students to become licensed right away,” he says. “They are ready to open a shop right away.” And some of them did just that, according to the testimonials published on the website. “This [is] the 3rd week I’ve been back from class,” wrote student Rusty. “My original plan was to do parties and sessions in my home, but I’ve been so busy I feel it’s time to open a shop, which I will be starting that [sic] next week.” According to Roze, getting tattoos by those who have not been traditionally trained, especially those tattooing out of their homes, can lead to health risks. “When you’re educating young adults and teenagers, they need to understand this is a medical procedure and they can easily get hepatitis, which is deadly,” Roze says. She lists hepatitis B, AIDS, and tuberculosis among the other bloodborne diseases transferrable through unsanitary tattooing. In California, efforts have been made to make tattooing a safer practice. Tattoo artists and piercers in California must adhere to the AB-300 law, passed in July last year, which regulates body modification. Among other new restrictions, it
LEFT: A tattoo by Erik Rieth, co-owner and tattoo artist at Seventh Son Tattoo in San Francisco, who has been tattooing for more than 20 years. Photo courtesy of Erik Rieth RIGHT: A tattoo by a student at the World’s Only Tattoo School in Shreveport, La., which offers a two week tattoo course. Photo courtesy of L.W. Pogue
requires artists to register annually with a local enforcement agency and specifies strict sanitation procedures. Even so, people still break the law, tattooing out of their homes or tattooing minors. The latter is a misdemeanor in California, according to California Penal Code 653. “Unfortunately, they [illegal tattoo shops] don’t get shut down because there’s not a lot of knowledge in the law enforcement community about this,” Roze says. There also isn’t any regulation against being a bad tattoo artist. According to the San Francisco Health Department, all a tattoo license requires is a photo ID, a bloodborne pathogen training certificate, a hepatitis vaccinations certificate and $25. Even though the application asks for a brief background description, Rieth says an apprenticeship is not a legal requirement. “Licensing is required in California, but there’s no background check on apprenticeships here,” he says. But Roze says the tattoo industry’s close-knit communities and word-of-mouth advertising help stifle sub-par work. “If somebody’s messing with the business, I call the shops and say ‘Don’t hire this guy’,” Roze says. But this hasn’t stopped those looking for a cheap tattoo from finding a shop or scratcher (an untrained amateur who tattoos out of his/her home) who will do it for a few bucks. Kelsey Trier, a Palo Alto High School alumnus, paid $40 for her first tattoo, which she got at the age of 16. “I got it done in a house by an artist that was formerly
licensed and employed in a legitimate tattoo shop but was fired for tattooing minors,” she says. “It was literally just a phone call for me, but it all really depends on who you know.” But Roze says a cheap tattoo is a warning sign. According to her, the typical minimum for a professional tattoo is $100, with rates usually ranging from $150-350 per hour. “Don’t shop for the cheapest tattoo, because you get what you pay for,” she says. “There’s an old saying that good tattoos aren’t cheap and cheap tattoos aren’t good.” Not only do cheap shops do subpar work, but they cheapen the industry as well, according to Roze. “The price of tattooing has been crushed by the abundance of unskilled people who charge less money,” she says. “It kind of mirrors this complaint about unskilled labor. Like if I owned a construction company, and all the guys down at Home Depot charged 50 bucks a day to do the same work as my skilled, bonded, insured carpenters who want 150 a day.” Rieth says tattoo schools have made tattooing more mainstream. But he and Roze aren’t sure this is a good thing. “If anyone can do this, then where’s the special treat?” Roze asks. “It [tattooing] hurts. It should be expensive. They [tattoo schools] are taking the mystery out of it and they’ve created a plethora of new unskilled artists who just sprung up like weeds.” “Our popular culture is devouring anything that used to be on the fringe and spitting it back out,” Rieth adds. “Some things maybe should remain on the fringe.” v PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT: Luke Stewart, co-owner and tattoo artist at Seventh Son Tattoo in San Fracnisco, carefully outlines a client’s future sleeve tattoo. Karen Roze, owner and tattoo artist at Sacred Rose Tattoo in Berkeley, says a good tatttoo always has consistent line quality.
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PIERCED WITH DESIRE
TEENS VENTURE AWAY FROM CONVENTIONAL PIERCINGS Text by DANIELA IVEY Photography by DANIELA IVEY and SCOTTY BARA
LASHES OF SILVER can lead to a disregard for the law. catch the light as exposed Although she is now 16, many of the piercings Brianna had done were illebellies and backs are shown gal. off in the open. Men, women, girls and California state law dictates that boys 15 and older move from one perone can receive a body piercing startson to the next, admiring and comparing at age 16 with written consent by a ing the small jewels, studs and rings parental guardian. People 18 and older adorning assorted body parts. Metal can receive piercings after showing achoops cling to slender backs, as hooks ceptable state issued photo identificathread in and out of semi-exposed tion that proves their age. flesh. It is a Saturday night in San Parlors can Francisco and a group enforce laws differof body modification ently for their indiaficionados, each with vidual sites so long their own story to tell, “It’s a defiant as they enforce the has congregated near pride, an air of age limit. a strip of piercing par“Our parlors in the Haight-Ashself-confidence lor, specifically, bury district. and self love. Be doesn’t even allow “Like many kids what you want to minors [under 18] my age, I have an inbe, make yourself to get any sort of terest in piercings,” into the image you piercings or tatsays Brianna, 16, a toos,” says Deana Menlo Park resident wish was in the Wardon, a piercer and piercing devotee, mirror.” and tattoo artist at who along with other — Angela, 19 Tattoo Boogaloo in sources in this story, San Francisco. “We has asked that her last just don’t want to deal with the hassle name no be used. “My most beloved of of all the paperwork we would have to them all is my [Marilyn] Monroe piercgo through, and the risk of going outing [simulated beauty mark above upside the ranges of legality rises expoper lip]. While most girls get their belly nentially once you open that door [albuttons pierced, I have an interest in low minors to come in].” piercings that are not so common.” Many parlors in the Bay Area do This quest for the less traditional not want the legal risk, which disapseems to be the driving force behind points those minors who travel to San many piercings, but sometimes it’s Francisco in hoping to bend the rules accompanied by an impatience which
in terms of piercing legality. While this is the case for the majority of sites in the Bay Area, some parlors choose to take their chances and disregard the law completely, which is how many underage kids end up with so many piercings. “I’ve been getting piercings since I was 15,” says Julian, a Palo Alto student whose name has been changed. “I just walked into this place in San Jose and asked to get one, and they let me. It’s not as if I brought a fake ID or anything, but they didn’t ever ask.” Others feel they don’t exactly know how their piercing interest started, and admit to some feeling of ignorance when looking back at the moments they decided to start piercing. “The reasons that motivated me when I’d had them done seemed so totally stupid and irrelevant, to say the least,” Angela, 19, says. “The scar from my chest piercing is a constant reminder of a fight with a friend, and other scars point to a relationship gone bad.” Lisa Dimarino, a psychologist at the Pacific Wellness Center, offers insight on the piercing phenomenon. “I hear this topic come up a lot,” Dimarino says. “They want to feel individual, or have control over something. It may also be attributed to ritualized behavior, just as cutting is, however it is probably different for each person.” In these instances, parlor employees feel they do a decent job of veering minors in the opposite direction.
“Every so often we’ll get someone underage coming in asking for permanent corset piercings [a set of rings placed into the body, through which one threads ribbon, simulating a corset], or an order for piercings meant to cover the face entirely,” says Mackenzie Mullen, 20, another artist at Tattoo Boogaloo. “But I normally give them one look over, and it’s obvious that they’re not even over 18, so I turn them away.” Mullen and Wardon express their concern with the rising trend in odd piercings among teens. “We have always gotten people who come in asking for the ‘new’ weird piercing trend,” Wardon says. “But I’ve definitely noticed a recent growing appeal for the bizarre and uncommon trends.” According to Wardon, a tattoo or a stereotypical piercing — one on the nose, ears, eyebrows or belly button — used to be the standard order for parlorgoers. However, new ideas for piercings seem to be formed every day. “Piercings are an art,” Mullen says. “Sometimes I feel like the rapid spreading of the culture into the younger generations, and on top of that with their own rebellious twist, is invalidating this art form.” This rebellious twist is seen through high risk piercings. “I got my zipper piercing about a year ago, but it didn’t exactly turn out as planned,” Jacob, 18, says. The zipper look, a set of piercings placed along a slit in the tongue simulating a zipper, is a new favorite among the modification crowd, according to Jacob. “I thought it would be cool. As soon as I heard about it, I knew I wanted to get it. But everything turned out wrong: I chipped a tooth, and my gums started to constantly bleed, so I got it taken out.”
CRISS CROSSED: A man in the Haight-Ashbury district shows off his corset piercing: a set of rings embedded into the skin through which ribbons are threaded.
The piercing trend, although not as prominent, exists at Palo Alto High School as well. “I just like the way they look,” Paly senior Annie Chládková says. Chládková has multiple piercings on her ears. “I love putting jewelry on, and with these I just get to use more,” she says. According to Dimarino, this sort of attitude among teens can be troublesome to adults. “It is a very common argument between children and parents,” she says. “This may be attributed to the generation gap — it wasn’t the norm 20 years ago, but now, many more teenagers have them [piercings]. There’s a certain stigma attached to piercings: parents don’t want their children perceived as rebels, or part of the emo crowd.” One such Paly parent does not want her daughter joining in on the body modification trend. “I had my daughter’s ears pierced when she was six weeks old,” she says. “But I’m not going to let her get any more [piercings]. I just don’t think it’s
tasteful, and I think many other adults would agree with me.” Some, such as Laura, 23, a regular piercing client, believe piercings have therapeutic benefits which outweigh the social stigma. “It’s been my experience that many people into modification have come out of abusive childhoods,” she says. “I guess, for myself, I think of my piercings and tattoo as a way of reclaiming or marking my body for myself.” For others, body modification is a way for them to connect to the spiritual realm. Just as piercing, tattooing and other forms of painful body modification were common among tribal people, they want the same “religious” experience for themselves. “Body piercing and tattooing are sacred rituals,” says Clara, 27, another modification enthusiast at the piercing reunion at the Haight. “Through these mediums, we can customize our bodies and proclaim publicly that we are in control of our destinies. If it didn’t hurt and wasn’t difficult it wouldn’t mean anything. To me a piercing or tattoo is an embodiment of my spirit and soul, an important step in my spiritual quest.” Regardless of the reasons, many modified people grow to love their body add-ons. Angela says her piercings have become a part of her identity. Although, at the time, she admits she didn’t get the piercings for any specific or intelligent-seeming reason, she accepts them now. “After a few non-modified months, I see something,” she says, referring to her reasons for getting pierced. “That’s not what they [the piercings] represented. It was a defiant pride, an air of self-confidence and self-love. It can be an extra handicap at times, but it is well worth it. Make yourself into the image you wish was in the mirror.” v
Photo Illustration by SAVANNAH CORDOVA I LOVE ME, I LOVE ME NOT YOUR WALL IS NOT YOUR DIARY LEVELING OUT THE BATTLEFIELD iBAD ONLINE COURSES SNARK ATTACK: NUMB3RS EDITION
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e m t e o v n o l e I m e v ND A o S P l U I THE EEM ST NG I E R F O L EXPL NS OF SE DOW VA EN ASTA V W I R A S S RU ELIS CHA by M Text raphy by g Photo
EW COMPOSITIONS can trample one’s self-image harder or faster than a college rejection letter. Or nowadays, the rejection web page, which in my opinion is worse since there’s no paper to crumple, rip, and burn in a bonfire, only a glowing screen and the pieces of a shredded ego to pick up slowly. For the seniors who just got their (horribly, hopelessly) final decisions, self-esteem is a big part of getting through this month. But with all of life’s judgments and trials, self-esteem matters any season, especially for young adults looking to achieve the correct amount of confidence in a world that seems at times more viciously competitive than ever. So let’s forget about our proverbial Prince Charmings and deserting Daphnes. Here’s the real question of amor : should I love myself more, or less?
HOPE FOR THE HOPELESS I don’t know about you, but whenever I end up stuffing my face with fried-chicken failure I wonder whether I could have prevented disappointment by simply not trying so hard. I think, maybe if I shrunk my ego and expectations, neither of them would whither so easily. Apparently, Florida State University Sociology professor John R. Reynolds has had similar thoughts. In a 2010 study, he and his colleagues investigated the consequences of ambitious young people falling short of their academic goals. The researchers began by interviewing teenagers about their educational plans and followed up years later to see if they carried them out, and, if not, whether they suffered any emotional ill-effects. “In the end though there wasn’t any compelling evidence to say that these teenagers who planned to go very far in college but who ended up not going that far were any worse off mental health wise than those who did as well as they expected,” Reynolds says. According to Reynolds, psychologists have observed emotional turmoil in the immediate aftermath of dreams crashing into reality. But eventually, even the overly ambitious recover. Reynolds notes that nowadays, many young adults whose dreams are denied simply put off their academic goals until later. “That’s sort of a feature of contemporary adulthood,” he says. Palo Alto High School college counselor Alice Erber agrees that teenagers need not worry about being too ambitious, just because they have plenty of time to figure things out. “Students surprise you,” Erber says. “They grow up, they mature, they find themselves.” So basically, even if on paper you look like a loser now, there’s no reason not to dream of victory a little later in life. As fresh-faced academics, it turns out we’re young enough to keep loving and believing in our dreams and ourselves.
OUR EGOS, OURSELVES Of course, deciding whether we need more or less self-esteem requires establishing an average baseline level. In a Verde survey of 189 students across eight Palo Alto High School English classes, 54 percent of students say their intellectual and social self-confidence is above average or in the highest 10 percent. 71 percent of students say they possess higher than average academic ability, and 50 percent boast of writing ability that exceeds the norm. Paly seems especially rich in motivation, with 27 percent of students reporting drive to achieve in the highest 10 percent, 39 percent in the top 50. Psychology professor Jean Twenge, author of “Generation Me,” might worry at these results. According to an analysis of the same survey questions, says BBC News, she and colleagues have found an increase in self-esteem without an increase in achievement, leading to fears about our generation being ruined by overconfidence. Do the actions of Paly students support our own high aspirations? Well, although only four percent of students report never being bored in class, 90 percent are interested enough to ask questions at least sometimes, and 82 percent say they explore topics on their own, without being required by a class, either occasionally or frequently. Contrary to Twenge’s fears about today’s teenagers, I’d say that our confidence errs on the side of well-deserved rather than over-blown. We love ourselves because we have plenty of reasons to. But let’s not forget that we can only nurture those good qualities due to the abundance of resources — $164 million of them, as per the Palo Alto Unified School District budget — that we have the privilege of utilizing. So now that we don’t have to worry about our self-worth, let’s worry a little more about what we do with it. I’ll start by rethinking that college rejection. Although my ego might still be fraught with fragility, my educational future really isn’t. I can definitely go to college, a liberty still distressingly elusive to the millions of American children living in poverty. Huh. Maybe instead of using a somewhat arbitrary admissions decision to evaluate the self I’ve been given, I should start measuring myself by what I have to give. v
Your Wall Is Not Your Diary THE PROBLEMS WITH OVERSHARING Text by PAUL PHROMTHONG Art by DIANA CONNOLLY
OW MUCH IS too much when it comes to sharing on Facebook? Because if there’s one thing that’s certain it’s that we all have that one friend who vents all of his or her personal drama to the public. It’s one thing to reveal your problems to a piece of paper or to another human being, but when it’s online that a whole other ball game. There was a time when you spilled your deepest and darkest secrets in diaries, locked up, hidden away, and stuffed underneath your mattress. Anyone else reading your diary was unthinkable, the embarrassment intolerable and the public humiliation inevitable. All of this has now been thrown out the window because of what Facebook has done to our perceptions of “connectivity.” Most people these days, including myself, can rarely go a single day without seeing a post from a friend complaining about his or her life. And let’s be honest here and agree that it’s highly unlikely anyone wants to see your deep, personal thoughts on Facebook anyway. The fact of the matter is, the diaryesque post, regardless of how “deep” it may be, is probably going to annoy almost everyone who comes across it. It’s not that we’re cruel or lack empathy, but it’s because we all have our own problems, and the sight of seeing someone else spoonfeeding us theirs gets under our skin in a negative way. “It really bothers me when I see someone else complaining about their life on Facebook,” says junior Toby Chen. “It’s like they’re crying out for attention and no-
body likes that.” On many occasions, the personal I personally don’t understand the indi- things you post on the web will do more viduals who write personal status updates, harm than intended. and I try my best to avoid them when I see If you hated your boyfriend for somethem. I just wonder why there are people thing he did, the best thing to do would out there who actually feel the need to be to go up to his face to tell him personshare such intimate thoughts and feelings ally why he’s a jerk. Publicly telling all 800 when they clearly know that there’s going of your “friends” is another story. If your to be at least one person who could not status update is talking specifically about a care less about what’s going on in their life. certain person, then it isn’t a status update By doing this, it’s almost as if they’re ask- anymore — it’s become a public e-mail. ing to be judged. Let’s just take a moment now to think The creators of Facebook, however, of how embarrassing it would be to send a have made it clear that they’ve wanted the private e-mail to the address book of your site to be a mechanism for bringing people entire class at school. This is essentially together. what Facebook is. It’s not just a social net“Facebook’s mission is to give people work. It’s a big “send all” button revealing the power to share and make the world all your intimate secrets. more open and connected,” says the comFacebook’s Timeline also gives uspany’s mission statement. They’re right ers an easy interface, which means that about social media making the world more essentially any techno-challenged person open and conin the world can nected, but have easy access to that’s not necall the things that essarily a good you’ve ever posted “It really bothers me thing. online. when I see someone else Technolo This is ancomplaining about their gy runs almost other big problem life on Facebook. It’s like with treating your everything in they’re crying out for at- Facebook account our daily lives; the world is allike a diary. All tention and no one likes ready as transanyone needs to do that. parent as it is. is click on the year — Toby Chen, junior and month that Do we need it to be even they’re interested more so? This in and the Facequestion is constantly raised but never book Timeline will take them right to it. properly addressed since many people Does knowing that your personal posts out there still don’t realize the fact that could be read by any stranger in the world the Internet is permanent and everything scare you? It should. It’s something that you put online will remain there forever, gives further evidence as to why you must whether you want it to or not. always be wary of the things you put on
your wall. The issues regarding Facebook not being your diary run deeper than just being annoying. Over-revealing posts can be a safety concern also, and should be taken seriously. You should also be concerned about the things you’re posting if you’re looking for work since as high school students, we all know finding a job is hard enough as it is. Never getting an opportunity because of a stupid update you posted online can make things even harder. Your employer is most likely not going to be a huge fan of your personal posts, and your actions can affect your workplace’s image. One vent on Facebook could keep you from getting that prized position. It seems as though through the years we’ve started a trend; replacing real relationships with electronic communication. For some reason it has become more satisfying for us to be candid in front of strangers on Facebook instead of the real people who are standing in front of you. The moral is, be open if you really have to, just not on your Facebook page. Don’t write anything online that you wouldn’t say directly to a person’s face, and don’t complain just for the sake of complaining. And before posting anything online, it’s important that you ask yourself two questions. “Will this hurt someone else?” and “Will this hurt my own reputation?” If the answer to either question is yes, then step away from the computer. Be smart and use social media only for communicating with friends and family. And if you happen to feel the need the complain about your day, it’s probably time you went back to writing in your diary. v
LEVELING THE BATTLEFIELD CHANGE IN THE MILITARY IS NEEDED BEFORE ASKING WOMEN TO REGISTER FOR THE DRAFT Text by HOLLIE KOOL Art by DIANA CONNOLLY
Y PHYSICALLY ABLE 18-YEAR-OLD BROTHER IS now old enough to fight and die for our country. On his birthday a few months ago, he opened the mailbox finding a notice from the government. Now he, along with other 18 to 25-year-old males in the United States, is officially required to register for the Selective Service, or military draft. But I, a teen girl in an age when the man still takes on the traditional role of designated protector of our nation, will never have to deal with that — or so I thought. On Jan. 24, the Department of Defense, under Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta, finally granted women the right to participate in combat roles in the military by repealing the 1994 Direct Ground Combat Definition and Assignment Rule, which had excluded women from ground combat. Although women for years have been fighting on the front lines and in combat situations unrecognized by law, they will now be able to officially participate in a third more positions than before. The Department of Defense’s repeal paves the way for us to question aspects of the military denied to women, including mandatory registration for the Selective Service. Although a draft has not been instated since the Vietnam War and all recruitment for war since has been voluntary, men are required to sign up for a peacetime draft when the nation is not actively in a war. Currently there is debate over whether women should have their names on that list, too. While I do advocate equal rights and equal opportunity and applaud the Pentagon for overruling the combat restriction, I don’t think the military is suited to safely accommodate a possible influx of women without significant changes to current standards and practices. Women, unlike men, should not be drafted involuntarily for the US military because the military’s current practices fail to protect the rights and equality of women in training and on the battlefield. Until this historic moment, women have been denied jobs in the infantry, special operations and armored units, according to a February 2012 article in USA Today. There have only been two female four-star generals in the US. In this country, women make up 13 percent of the army and 7 percent of the
Franklin Roosevelt signs Selective Training and Service Act, which instated the first peacetime conscription.
Selective Service Act: 24 million men from 18 to 45 are drafted for WWI.
Civil War Military Draft Act: Union Army requires enrollment for all male citizens.
Selective Service ends after WWI.
Men between the ages 18 and 65 are drafted for WWI.
Marine Corps. The Pentagon’s order now opens up over 230,000 such integration would work. Israel’s more gender neutral military new jobs for women, and moving up in rank or progressing in a program requires a minimum of two years of service for all Israeli military career is much more practical and attainable. female citizens and a minimum of three years for men. But for many women, these expanding rights do not equate Despite the presence of military sexual trauma in the Israeli with improved treatment. With continually higher rates of sexual Defense Forces, with 500 reported cases of sexual assault annuassault occurring in the military year after year, Post Traumatic ally, 10 percent of those being male, the treatment of women in Stress Disorder rates among women have also been rising, accord- the military in Israel is quite different from the US because of ing to the Department of Defense 2011 annual report for Sexual increased female leadership. Assault Prevention and Response. Although only three perIn 2011 alone, according to Nationcent of women serve in combat al Public Radio, 3,000 sexual assault cases positions in the IDF and eight “By having the required were reported throughout all U.S. milipercent of roles are prohibited military, a greater portion of tary programs. Of those, 1,108 troops for women, over half of lieupursued an investigation, 587 of the castenants are female, according the population gets the chance es were processed, and a measly 96 were to the New York Times. The to accept that equality is just a tried in court. What makes our military IDF also has conducted many thing.” judicial system seem even worse, is that campaigns to improve justice — Karina Goot, junior Panetta believes the statistic of sexual for women’s rights and military assault victims may actually be upwards sexual trauma sufferers. of 19,000 victims in one year, most of Palo Alto High School which are unreported. junior Karina Goot, an Israeli Most recently, more than 62 women admitted that they were citizen, says Israel’s gender-neutral military has improved Israel’s abused, harassed or raped by 32 different Air Force training staff stance on equality. at the Lackland Air Force Base in Texas in the past four years, ac“By having the required military, a greater portion of the cording to a Feb. 26 New York Times article. This is the largest population gets the chance to accept that equality is just a thing,” military sexual assault scandal in the history of the Air Force. Goot says. “Everyone has to do it because it is everyone’s counWhile one in six civilian women are reported to have experi- try.” enced sexual assault, the statistic rises to one in three for women Although more men volunteer and are chosen to fight in the in the military. Although military sexual trauma is also present in military because of physical capabilities, Goot says that other cathe male population, the severity by numerical evidence is incom- reers in the IDF like communications and technology-based jobs parable to that of women. overlook gender and target specific skills instead. For many female soldiers and marines returning from war, “For those [skilled jobs] it’s more selective but it’s not based living with the physical and mental scars of both rape and war on whether you are a man or woman,” Goot says. “It’s ‘Are you makes it difficult to secure a job, a home and a complete life postable to do the job?’” deployment. Israel proves that gender-neutral mandatory service is someThe Pentagon reports more effective efforts to improve such what effective. The IDF demonstrates that with some adjustments situations including expanding military response and requiring improved rights for women are attainable. Get on it, America. training for officers and others to properly handle and address In an ideal world where the military respects a woman’s mensexual assault. Such progress could greatly improve equality and tal, emotional and physical safety, total gender equality should be treatment in armed forces. the standard to uphold. Until then, I’ll patiently wait for my own The Pentagon should look toward Israel for insight into how notice in the mail when the battlefield has finally levelled out. v
Supreme Court case Rostker v. Goldberg rules against allowing female registration for the draft.
Draft Registration required again after Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
Vietnam War: lottery draft for men 18 to 26.
Selective Service registration officially ends.
Direct Ground Combat Definition and Assignment Rule: bans women from combat.
Combat exclusion policy for women repealed.
APPLE TABLETS HAVE EXTREMELY LIMITED USE FOR EDUCATION Text and Art by BENJAMIN MAY Photography by CHARU SRIVASTAVA
EING TOO TECHnologically advanced is not usually a problem in Palo Alto. But sometimes when we become too involved with tech, it leads to more hassle than help. No, I’m not talking about Google Glass or smartwatches. I’m talking about Palo Alto High School’s problem of not using the available tech we have to the fullest and the superiority of traditional laptops. Paly should not use iPads for learning. I don’t know who the heck thought of using iPads at Paly, but you have to be out of your Palo Altan mind to want to use those things for education. iPads lack a lot of things that would make them great learning tools, including Flash Player and other plugins, a sufficient supply of pre-downloaded apps and the ability to delete apps. Why would anyone want to have students go to Schoology to start an in-class activity on an iPad? Neither Schoology nor Safari for iOS can load .PDF files and basic HTML simultaneously. (Neither can run Flash Player.) I would love to use just
two, TWO tabs on a Web browser (even Internet Explorer) to do such menial tasks such as websurfing than constantly having switch to through different apps. A computer is more efficient when reading more file types, instead of the iPad using a “workaround” to fix the issue. iPads will become more usable for classrooms once apps that optimize a touchscreen user interface are available. For the time being, only history encyclopedic databases are available. Even with these apps, a web applet running on a laptop works better. Oh, yeah, you probably couldn’t run that on an iPad since the tablet is missing the freaking plugins. Dangit. The apps are even worse than the optimization issues on an iPad. Really, Paly, in what way would the Camera and Game Center apps keep students on track? (You cannot take photos if the camera-based apps are disabled or removed, similar to a computer.) What really annoys me are the students that think it’s oh-so-funny to take selfies on their school-issued iPad and then make it the background picture. You go, Glenn Coco. Glad you got your laugh in. The worst culprit is the BlueTooth keyboard, the easiest way to drain batter-
ies and the patience of Paly students simultaneously for learning. The keyboard itself does not make the iPad a traditional computer. The iPad is still a far leap from actual computer-based productivity. It’s also quite hard to tell if a keyboard is dead or is not registered with the iPad you’re using. You don’t deal with that problem with a traditional computer. Back to batteries: When the keyboard batteries are dead (which is about 99.01 percent of the time), you keep on wondering, “Why doesn’t this work?” Cue the brief keyboard shake into oblivion. A quick fix for such a first world problem? A regular laptop or even a Chromebook. Chromebooks are Web browsers that do everything students should need to do; they auto-update to the newest version of the Google Chrome Web browser and come with all the plugins needed. They also start at $200 each, half the price of an iPad. (Google offers bulk education pricing as well.) So, please, let’s stop the iPad games. iPads are just a bit too fancy for educational use, or at least are not optimized yet for Paly’s classrooms. v
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ONLINE ED. ARE ONLINE CLASSES THE WAY TO GO? Text by CASSIEL MORONEY Art by DIANA CONNOLLY
nline classes: no classroom, no schedule. Enormous responsibility but equal flexibility. They are appealing for many reasons, from making up credits to taking advanced classes to meddling for the fun of it. Computer and internet access are incredibly high; 27 states have virtual schools set up. Some students opt for dual-enrollment with their local school, while some go as far as to take all their classes online. Roughly 96 percent of universities offer at least a few online classes. There are private and public schools, those that are free and those that cost
thousands of dollars. “The class was kind of not great, but it got me out of having to actually take geometry,” says Morgan McClain-Smith, sophomore. “I’d do it again,” says Zofia Ahmad, sophomore, smiling. Ahmad took AP European History online last winter. Since she started a few weeks “late,” she was behind on work for most of the course, sometimes doing up to two units a week to catch up. “It was fun, a lot of work though,” she says of the experience. Because it was online, open to anyone, she still had to work
through Thanksgiving and winter break. Lessons comprised of a few video lectures and readings from an actual, physical textbook, as it were. She submitted her assignments through a class Dropbox, and there was a forum for discussion. The teacher would grade her work and was available over email. Ahmad said she learned a lot and got a B with barely any effort. She took the class of her own initiative, and ended up liking the subject. “I could have gotten credits, but I sort of forgot,” says Ahmad. “I’d do it again,” she says. McClain-Smith took Geometry Honors over the summer. She’d heard geometry was very easy at Mountain View High School and wanted to be able to take more AP classes. Her parents had to pay nearly $500, and the software itself was out of date, clunky, and often poorly phrased. To make matters worse… “I procrastinated,” she says. “[I] sort of did lots of it before school.” Regardless, she got her 10 credits and an “A,” and is glad she took the class. If you can motivate yourself, find the money to pay the fees and as long as aren’t looking to escape heavy textbooks, maybe online classes are for you. You will be able to do “school” at any time, from the comfort of anywhere in the the world that has wifi. You’ll also miss out on fun science labs and whispering with your friends during class. However, if you’re disorganized, if you procrastinate, or if you’re already busy with six or seven classes, they are not recommended. v
Your Best Free Options
Udemy’s classes are different in that they are not screened by website managers. Anyone can make, publish, and sell a course. This means that there is a staggering palette of classes, from academic to frivolous, from long to short, free of charge to expensive. It also means you can’t guarantee anything you learn from there. However, it is a very good platform. Teachers can make videos of themselves as they lecture, upload documents and slide shows, as well as make short (ungraded) quizzes. While you must sign up to access the classes, nothing is graded and you will be unable to get any kind of official proof you have taken a course here. What makes Udemy flawed and what makes it great is that anyone can make a class. Some classes are rip offs; at the same time, plenty of people Saylor’s website is clean and impeccably organized. Classes can even be are incredibly specialized and skilled, withtaken without signing up, because courses are made up entirely of links to relevant out being certified in any way. You can learn online texts. They also offer a beautiful array of classes, not just sciences and techabout a religion or language directly from nology but also history, language arts and corporate skills. Saylor also claims that someone who practices it. its classes can be worth college credit in some places, so long as a proctored final exam is taken and passed. However the classes, while very tidy and clearly labeled, lack any sort of interesting content. There is no interaction at all– not with teachers, not even with the classroom. There are no quizzes, assignments, practice questions or even tests, Udacity offers courses in computer only one single final exam. You are expected to do a semester’s worth of learnscience, business, math and physics. Its highing in reading that is often very dry, without images and tediously lengthy from a light is the interactivity of its classes. After computer monitor. My eyes began to hurt and water before I had even completed a signing up (a simple and easy process), one sub-sub-unit. While the texts are high-quality and rich with information, it’s doubtcan access the classroom, which is essentially ful one could make it through an entire course like this. And, without any way to a very long playlist of short instructional vidpractice what is read, it’s doubtful anyone could retain the information. eos. The teachers use a kind of digital whiteboard, so you can see them work out problems and diagrams as they speak. At times it gets annoying, because the computer overlay is disjointed, and sometimes does not match up with the actual whiteboard image. Ungraded mini-quizzes and practice problems are liberally sprinkled throughout, and after each unit, a long section of practice problems is offered, with teacher walkthroughs that clearly explain each step. All of this is wonderfully complemented by the class wikis, which contain detailed and complete notes for every unit. There is also a convenient forum system, which is slow but seems to guarantee at least one answer, and which can be filtered by unit or by problem set. Udacity does not give out degrees, certificates or credits, and is meant to be used more as a skill-builder for professionals. While its teachers are in many cases more useful and helpful than actual teachers at Paly, for high school students, it’s more of a tool for hobby techies or students who need help with physics homework.
Text and Photo Illustration by KATY ABBOTT
PUTTING AN END TO THE GAME OF NUMBERS
HE BELL RINGS, MARKING THE END to yet another math class. Shoving my calculator into my backpack, I try to put the thought of numbers out of my mind. I don’t care whether they’re rational, natural, imaginary — numbers are dead to me. Except, of course, that before my next math period I’ll be sure to receive half a dozen homework assignments and quizzes with big fat numbers assigned to the tops. I’ll have to face cereal boxes and milk cartons with numerals littering the sides and make numbered lists organizing my homework and neuroses. In short, as much as I don’t want it to be true, numbers are the spider web to my butterfly, and I can’t fly away. Unfortunately, trends in how our society defines success suggest that this condition won’t be going away any time soon. From STAR tests to the SATs and our GPAs, numbers have an absurd amount of power, turning our flesh-and-blood qualities into a black-and-white representation that shouldn’t be relied on to show the whole picture. Numbers, despite their omnipresence in society, are somewhat arbitrary. Take that elusive SAT 2400. If we used a binary counting system, like the one our computers run on, a perfect score would instead be 100101100000. Twenty-four hundred is just a social construct, albeit one that has preoccupied overachievers everywhere. Of course, it’s a ridiculous construct. The idea that someone’s college readiness could be defined by a number is more absurd than the plotline of “Glee.” Take the essay section, which professes to measure a student’s writing skills on a scale from one to six. Unlike the rest of the sections, there are no right answers, just the very subjective opinion of readers who have the ability to destroy dreams with little more than a soul-sucking “demonstrates little mastery.” The American education scholar Alfie Kohn, known in teaching circles for his criticism of grade-based learning, argues that the system negatively impacts students’ interest in their studies. In his 2011 Educational Leadership article “The Case Against Grades,” he claims that students learn to focus only on material which they believe they will be tested on. They also tend to “avoid taking any unnecessary intellectual risks,”according to Photography by Kohn, because they fear the potential CHARU SRIVASTAVA
impact on their grades, creating a generation of educational cowards who prefer quantitative rewards over the joy of learning. Kohn’s discovery is common knowledge among high school students everywhere. Those highlighted sections in textbooks called “Expanding Horizons” or “Real-World Thinking” are code for “Skip me! Skip me!” because I know they won’t be on the test. As an experienced procrastinator, I can estimate they’ve saved me hours and hours of reading that I’ve happily channeled into other productive exercises like painting my toenails or impulse-buying on Amazon. Schools that do away with grades altogether sometimes receive criticism for their alternative approach; in our society, nontraditional education can be synonymous with “hippie” and “Birkenstocks.” But a 2010 Inside Higher Ed article entitled “No Grading, More Learning” found that disincentivizing the grade system had profound results. The professor of the course, Cathy Davidson, noted that her students seemed less risk-averse. Additionally, the quantity and quality of their writing significantly improved. The growing number of schools adopting a no-grade policy reflects its increasing viability in education. Such institutions include well-regarded Harvey Mudd College, which enforces a pass/fail system for freshmen, and Reed College. But despite the success stories, mentioning such reforms often results in raised eyebrows and skeptical snorts. It’s perceived as the first step into a downward spiral: don’t grade, and evaluate students on their “caring” and “social awareness.” The next thing you know, we’re all high school dropouts spending our days at the park getting high and scaring the elementary school kids, all because some misguided administration thought it would be a good idea to give their students a little more freedom. The conventional argument, that grades and test scores provide incentive and a source of comparison, is only true because we make it so. Take away grades, and students find intrinsic motivation for their work, gaining a greater sense of purpose. As for comparison, simply look at the inconsistency of grading just across an individual course. The variability of results makes accurate evaluation a lost cause. Don’t get me wrong; I’m grateful for numbers every time I power up my computer or evaluate yet another integral for calculus. But allowing numbers to define us as students shackles us academically, rather than letting us fly butterfly-free. V
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and reread all your favorite articles from issue 4
This issue surrounds the topic of rape and rape culture. Please read on with caution. Before you read it, please take a look at our preface:...
Published on Apr 9, 2013
This issue surrounds the topic of rape and rape culture. Please read on with caution. Before you read it, please take a look at our preface:...