BSU Steps up to perform for Black History Month

By: Rose Lu

The beginning of February marks the beginning of Black History Month, a month dedicated to recognizing the role of African Americans and their contributions to America. BSU (Black Student Union) commemorated Black History Month by performing last Friday at the L-Building during third and fourth period during their 3rd Annual Black History Month. The show featured guests such as writer Prentice Powell and the San Jose State Dance Team. Students were encouraged to come if teachers allowed them to.

Black History officially began in 1976, where every February was acknowledged by the US Presidents to be designated as so. However, the idea emerged in 1926, and was created by Historian Carter G. Woodson and the ASNL (Association for the Study of Negro Life and History). The second week of February was coined as ‘Negro History Week.’

“Black History Month is to honor the contributions of African Americans to American Societies. It is also to honor the inventions and talents they contributed,” shares BSU Advisor Cerissa Phillips.

In honor of Black History Month, BSU has decided to perform an African American dance, Stepping. The dance combines movement and sounds to turn their bodies into instruments. Stepping is used to represent unity and pride for one’s group.

“Stepping is a part of our culture and it shows what our ancestors used to do,” shares freshman Tionee Funk.

Stepping has had a long history. It was influenced by another form of dancing called the Gumboot dance, which was often performed using Wellington boots and used to communicate between another person a short distance away.

This year, BSU is continuing its legacy to show their pride and history during Black History Month. They have practiced every day at lunch from Jan. 27 to Feb. 6.

“I felt nervous because I never performed for people like that, but I felt really good during our practices so far,” says freshman Landon Brown.

They wore all black outfits with white shoes to show their unity as a group.

“We wore a black hoodie, black jeans and white shoes so that we can match and be one,” continues Tionee.

Alongside their performance, BSU will be highlighting the contributions of African Americans by sharing facts about their achievements during the announcements for February. By doing so, they bring awareness and highlight their impact on society.



NHS Induction Ceremony

By Diana Kokoski

NHS (National Honor Society) held its induction ceremony last Sunday to recognize their members for their scholarship, service, leadership and character.

The ceremony commenced with food and entertainment by VSA (Vietnamese Student Association), SXC  (Seoul Extreme Choreography), Indian Club and solo performances by NHS members. The hosts of the ceremony were seniors Guneet Sachdeva, Melina Tran, Manav Dixit and Maggie Nguyen. The theme for this year’s induction ceremony was Beauty and the Beast.

“We chose the theme based on how good our decorative abilities could be and how intriguing and formal it seems,” remarked NHS Secretary Jonathan Phan.

First, NHS advisor Jason Dries gave a speech about the inductees. After, NHS advisor Terrie Higgins presented the members the cords that they will wear during graduation. The last part of the event included the inductees taking a candle and lighting it to represent their commitment to the NHS.

“It was a really special moment for me (when I lit up the candle) because I was so proud of everyone and how we organized this event in such a short amount of time,” stated NHS President Megan Dang.

State Assemblyman Kasen Chu was invited by Mr. Dries and NHS member Brandon Huynh, who interns for Mr. Chu, to attend the ceremony. Mr. Dries was the one who suggested that Mr. Chu should be a part of the ceremony. During the ceremony Mr. Chu greeted and posed with NHS members when they were called to receive their cords.

In order to be in the club, those that are interested must complete an application towards the end of their junior year. According to Ms. Higgins, the members are chosen by a committee of teachers.

“What we look for in applicants are good academic records, no excessive absences and tardies. The GPA requirement is at least 3.2. The next thing we look for is community involvement that can be verified. Last, students should have demonstrated a high level of leadership with clubs or outside organizations,” explained Ms. Higgins.

Once members are accepted into NHS, they must complete two community service projects; one being individual and one being a community service project involving all the members of the NHS. A future group project in discussion includes going to Alum Rock Park to pick up trash, which they plan to do every month.

“Melina, Tony and I go to Alum Rock library Tuesdays from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. and we volunteer to help underprivileged children complete their homework,” commented Megan.

This club also teaches valuable life lessons for the students. Members are able to make an impact, not just for themselves, but for their community and for the world.

“NHS taught me that you have to uphold your nobility because you earn your position by excelling in these four categories. So throughout your life, you have to stay true to these traits and showcase them for others,” said NHS member Brandon Huynh.

“NHS taught me to carry the mentality that you can always find a solution for any problem that comes in your way,” added Megan.

A few notes to keep in mind before applying for NHS is to uphold the four values of scholarship, community engagement, leadership and character.

“The biggest piece of advice would be getting a letter of recommendation from the adult you worked under that verifies your leadership and the responsibilities,” advised Ms. Higgins.


Valentine’s Dark Origins

By William Chen

Valentine’s Day is a time where people give gifts and cards to show their affection to someone they care about. This annual event originated back in Ancient Rome around the year of 270 A.D.

Valentine’s Day back then did not start off very brightly, such as people showing their love to their special someone or giving gifts such as flowers, decorated cards or sweet treats. Instead, this holiday has evolved throughout centuries full of martyrdom, religious politics, beheadings and consumerism to become the holiday which is presently known to celebrate love and affection.

Back then, a holiday for the ritual known as the Lupercalia held on Feb. 13 was celebrated. The Roman priests would offer animals up for tribute and use the hides from the animals they had slain to whip women with them.

According to University of Colorado at Boulder historian Noel Lenski, he said, “The Roman romantics were drunk. They were naked. Young women would actually line up for the men to hit them. They believed this would make them fertile.”

This old event also held a matchmaking lottery that matched men by drawing out their names of women. The matched couples were paired up for the duration of the festival.

Despite this merciless tradition, Emperor Claudius II was having trouble recruiting more soldiers to expand his army. The emperor realized that men refused to join the army so they could stay at home and take care of their wife and children. He thought that love and marriage made people weak, so he announced to all of Ancient Rome that love and marriage was forbidden.

Meanwhile, a Roman priest and physician known as Saint Valentine went against the emperor’s law by secretly wedding couples. Eventually, he was caught and arrested. The emperor then passed his verdict upon St. Valentine to be executed. Before his execution, St. Valentine wrote a letter to the prison guard’s daughter after her father asked St. Valentine to cure her daughter from blindness. The letter said, “From your Valentine.” On Feb. 14, St. Valentine was beheaded.

Afterwards, William Shakesphere and Geoffrey Chaucer helped romanticize this event known as Valentine’s Day on Feb. 14 named after St. Valentine and the same day he was executed.

“Stars for a Night” dazzles Piedmont Hills

By Katelynn Garcia

Stars for a Night is an annual tradition for Piedmont Hills took place last Friday in the L-Building. The show displayed many talents from all across the special education dept. In the two hour show, there were 18 performances, split by a 15-minute intermission.

The L-Building was filled with friends, family and staff taking pictures and taking videos of the performances. Those who came to the event were delighted by the performances, especially the second-act glow dance, which was presented by Ashleigh Moorman, Kaitlyn Lee, Javier Diaz, Aiden Marquez, Neveah Ortiz, and Satya Mulagada.

There was an introduction presented by principal Ginny Davis, followed by The Star Spangled Banner, which was sung by senior Brian Bui. The students had been practicing for the show since the beginning of the year.

“Stars for a night is a part of the abilities awareness component of PHHS’s specialized program. Our students perform to show that just like their regular peers, they too have talents to be proud of. Our students sing, dance, act and play an instrument,” explained special education teacher, Maria Casiano. “In the two hour show, there were 18 performances, split by a 15-minute intermission.”

”My heart gets really shaky when I performed,” exclaimed senior Ashleigh Moorman.

The show included ten vocal performances, six dance numbers, a piano piece, and even a play presented by special education teacher Nonglak Prasopsook’s class. They had been rehearsing it since November, and the play came out up to 20 minutes.

“I play the MC and Batman in the play,” shared senior Eltohn Sileestie.

Ashleigh and Eltohn performed in the play, which was a take on DC comics.

“They were excited and ready to go on stage,” said Ms. Prasopsook, “For them to practice things like speech is great, and it also teaches them responsibility.”

The stars for a night is also one of the major fundraisers to support the special education Dept.

“Some of our students were nervous, especially the freshmen, but I think most of them were really excited to show off their talents to their families, teachers, and friends,” added Ms. Casiano.

“Oh, I loved it, I was so glad to go,” exclaimed social science teacher Lynne Murray. The talent show has been a major success for 15 previous years, and is set to be a PHHS tradition for years to come.

PHHS History team making history

Last Sunday, the PHHS History Team faced off in the National History Bowl at Saratoga High School against other high schools.

The National History Bowl is a high school tournament that closely resembles a game of jeopardy in which two teams face one another by answering a wide variety of historic topics ranging from Greek history to contemporary famous athletes and actors.

To prepare for this competition, the history team took strides to cultivate their knowledge and review historical facts during their weekly meetings.

“We prepared for the competition through weekly meetings in which we look at past questions. Often, if one member answers a question incorrectly, we would have a small discussion about the question, thus improving the knowledge of the team. We also prepared by using Kahoot on various periods and topics in history,” remarked History Team President Vincent Han.

Outside of school, members also committed to practicing in their own ways.

“I prepared for the History Bowl by reading past questions every day to reinforce my memory before competition,” stated History Team member Ryan Nguyen. “If time allowed, I spent 30 minutes to an hour reading History Bowl related materials each day.”

As president, Vincent was also very ambitious in his preparation, taking time out of day to study various subjects relating to history as well as setting optimistic goals for the team.

“I read articles on Wikipedia and watched documentaries on YouTube and take notes to memorize more trivia. Through weekly meetings, I learned what are my strengths and weaknesses were and I improved myself by attacking these weaknesses through studying them thoroughly,” explained Vincent. “I do hope to improve significantly over our past tournaments. For example, we usually defeat one or two teams in the past, and this time we are trying to defeat three.

Participating in the History Bowl was also a Saratoga, Foothill, Palo Alto, Valley Christian and a home school team. During the battle, the PHHS History Team was able to exploit some of their strengths to gain an advantage.

“Some of the strengths we had included our ability to cooperate. For example, during each match we had to decide who to substitute out of the game and who to participate,” recalled Vincent.

Unfortunately, the team was only able to win one out of five rounds. Recognizing their mistakes, they strive to improve for next year. As of now, the overall rankings have not been release to the public.

“At the competition, my strategy was to play very aggressively which had its own strengths and weaknesses. I was able to answer some questions before other teams, but I also wasted opportunities by answering incorrectly early in the question,” recapped History Team member Ryan Nguyen. “The only way to improve from this is to keep studying what I missed.”

In the end though, while the History Team worked diligently to earn their rank, what they took away from the competition was a shared compassion of history with other students from different schools.

“Playing against our rival Foothill was the highlight of the competition. Though we couldn’t manage a win against them, I’m glad we were able to give them a good fight,” admitted Ryan.

Despite the fierce battle, each team showed chivalry and respect towards one another.

“I think my favorite part is always shaking hands with our opponents after our match and saying that it is a good game. This mannerism reminds me that, although it is a very fierce competition, friendship is still more important,” said Vincent. “Above all, however, I just wish that members can enjoy the tournament and put in all they have.”

Senate votes on fate of the presidency, acquits President Trump

By Andy Doan

The US Senate started a formal impeachment trial in which they voted to either convict or acquit President Donald Trump on Jan. 16, and the vote took place Wed., Feb. 5. The vote resulted in his acquittal on both articles of impeachment, with it being mostly split along party lines (only one senator crossed party lines by voting to convict President Trump, Republican Senator Mitt Romney.)

In the process of doing so, Senator Romney became the first and only senator in history to vote to convict the president of his own party.

“As a senator-juror, I swore an oath, before God, to exercise ‘impartial justice,’” said Senator Romney.

Impeachment is similar to an indictment in a criminal case; it is a charge, but not the punishment itself.

Although President Trump had already been impeached by the House of Representatives, the House was required to send the articles of impeachment to the Senate, where they decided the punishment, if any.

At the beginning of the trials, Americans were sharply divided on whether Trump should be removed from office—with Democrats largely supporting removal, Republicans largely opposing, and independents divided. According to CNN, 51% of people—89% of Democrats and 8% of Republicans—supported Trump’s removal from office, compared to 45% who opposed the idea. The missing 4% remained indifferent.

This trial was a result of the impeachment that started when a whistleblower’s complaint was released, claiming that President Trump threatened to withdraw United States’ aid money to Ukraine, if an investigation on his political opponents, including former Vice President Joe Biden, was not conducted.

The impeachment trial can be understood as a court case where the Senators are the jurors.

As reported by The New York Times, the prosecution’s opening arguments were held between Jan. 22–24, and those of the defense began on Jan. 25-28.

Following this, there were 16 hours of questions and answers, four hours of debate and a vote on whether to consider subpoenas for documents or witnesses not covered by the House investigation. Controversy sprang when the Senate voted 51-49 to hold the trial without any witnesses.

Finally, the closing statements were given on Mon., Feb. 3, and two days later the vote was taken.

There were several possible outcomes to this trial: President Trump could have been removed from office and/or disqualified from holding office in the future. This means that President Trump could have been removed from office and still be able to continue running for re-election in the 2020 Presidential Election, or that he could remain in office, but be barred from holding office in the future.

With the president’s acquittal, he will remain in office, and is still eligible to run for re-election in the upcoming election. The future remains unclear, but President Trump could be the first president to be impeached and re-elected.

Petey’s Pop Culture

By Emily Kim

The New Year has felt like an eternity considering all the events that happened in the span of a month.

As everyone should know by now, NBA superstar Kobe Bryant passed away on Jan. 26 from a helicopter crash along with his daughter, Gigi Bryant, and seven other passengers with them.

His death shocked everyone across the globe and tributes to honor his achievements and life were carried out. On the day of the news, players took a 24-second shot clock violation and 8-second backcourt violations as tribute to representing the two numbers Bryant wore during his career. A moment of silence was held at the SuperBowl.

Besides his remarkable career as a basketball player, many people looked up to Bryant for the way he approached life. He loved all four of his daughters and was proud of being a “girl dad”. When others asked him how he felt when he only had daughters, he always responded with delight that he loved having all his daughters. He was a mentor to many players and a role model for kids globally.

We will never be able to see Bryant at his induction into the Hall of Fame or see him at the sideline watching another game with his daughter Gianna. We will never forget Bryant’s legacy.

Moving on to a more uplifting topic, the highlight of this year’s Grammys was Billie Eilish taking home a total of five Grammys: Record of the Year, Album of the Year, Best New Artist, Song of the Year and Best Pop Vocal Album. This is an incredible feat considering Billie is only 18 years old and only four years into her music career.

Of course a controversy causing people to say that Billie Eilish did not deserve to win all five awards. Many fans, mostly “Arianators” (the fandom name of famous pop singer Ariana Grande), have thrown hate towards Billie saying she did not deserve all the awards. This caused the hashtag “Scammys” to trend on social media platforms.

I understand the outrage to Billie Eilish receiving five Grammys in one night. It’s not a fun award ceremony to watch one artist winning all five of the biggest awards given in an award ceremony. Also, I believe that it is fair that Ariana Grande fans are mad. The Best Pop Vocal Album should have gone to Ariana Grande. Her “Thank U, Next” album was a huge hit and continued to be for most of 2019.

However, I believe Billie Eilish was deserving of all the awards she won that night. She is known for being a groundbreaking artist and is changing the world of pop music. It’s amazing to see young female artists like Billie Eilish completely dominating the charts, and we should be celebrating her achievements instead of bringing her down. Also, the Grammys are known to be biased and racist, so should we even be giving it this much attention and worth? Probably not.

On Sun., Feb. 9, history was made at the Academy Awards. For the first time ever in Oscar’s history, an Asian film won Best Picture. Korean film, Parasite, directed by Bong Joon-Ho took home four Oscars for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Foreign Language Film and Best Original Screenplay. It is amazing to see Asian media break through Hollywood and completely dominate the game. It has taken a long time for this to happen, but it is always better late than never. It gives me pride as a Korean to see a Korean film create history, and I hope this is only the start.

VSA hosts annual club showcase 

By Harleen Kaur

VSA (Vietnamese Student Association) hosts their annual showcase in the L-Building on Feb. 7 at 7 p.m.

This year’s theme was Until the Last Petal Falls. The board usually decides the theme. When coming up with the rose theme for this year’s show, the VSA cabinet had intended to have the rose signify the fading culture. The petals would represent the memories and traditions of the culture as this generation holds on to each custom.

In the show, they performed a variety of traditional dances such as dances with umbrellas, fans and ribbons. They also featured an officer waltz at the end and a surprise prom-posal. The club hopes that they can showcase the importance of remembering their Vietnamese culture through the elegance of fluttering fans as well as ribbons. Usually, the Cultural Chairs choreograph the dances and the presidents choreograph the waltz, however, this year the members were able to choreograph umbrella, fan and hat couples dance.

“It feels amazing to be a member of VSA. I get the chance to dance with a bunch of talented girls and boys that share a common interest, supporting our culture,” says member Kristine Nguyen. “Being a choreographer takes a lot of dedication and time. It’s fun teaching a routine that we were able to come up with.”

VSA practices their choreography throughout the week. Each dance group, depending on the difficulty and need to clean, practices almost every day as well as weekends.

On the night of the show, the club sold snacks and club merchandise with the successful attendance of their supporting family and friends. They had a backdrop with lights and roses hanging from the bleachers for decoration.

Last year, due to scheduling complications, VSA was unable to host their showcase.

“We didn’t want to schedule the show during AP exam season and the L-Building was booked for the days we were considering, so we couldn’t have our showcase,” states VSA Treasurer Maggie Nguyen.

Overall, the show turned out to be an entertaining night for both the audience and performers.

“I’m so glad that the VSA show was a success. I was able to meet so many new people who were passionate about the same thing as I was,” says Cultural Chair Christine Do. “All the time put into the show paid off in the end when seeing the excitement and bond between the performers.”


PHHS Advanced Drama and Insane Ink Thaws Out the Icy Season

By William Chen and Jennie Tran

The Advanced Drama class and Insane Ink collaborate together to warm up this month with the annual Holiday Showcase. This holiday-themed event was held on Dec. 6 in the L-Building, and was performed throughout the school day with an additional night show at 8 p.m., called Winterfest.

The showcase this year wasA Christmas Scarolby Don Zolidis. The play was directed by seniors Amanda Gill, Karen He and Oziris Valverde. Tickets were sold for $5 at the G-Building the week during lunch leading up to the day of this event. They were limited to selling only 200 tickets.

“A Christmas Scarol is about when a boy named Tim can’t think of a Christmas gift to give his high-maintenance girlfriend,” claims Oziris.

The show’s main protagonist, Tim, was then visited by four terrifying spirits (actually five—they’ve been hiring) who whisk him away on a harrowing and hilarious journey into the past, present, future and an alternate timeline. This wild and free-spirited adaptation of the holiday classic is a reminder of the true meaning of Christmas (which is getting awesome presents).

“The holiday showcase is one of my favorite shows to put on because it is student produced and we all worked hard to put on the show. The process was tough, but performing and spreading the Christmas spirit was the best part in the end,” says Advanced Drama student Alyssa Casimiro.

Not only did the Drama Dept. show their holiday spirit, but Winterfest overall was filled with many other fun activities.

“Expect to have nothing but fun and holiday cheer! Winterfest will feature games, face painting, a photo booth, free hot chocolate and an evening performance!” exclaims Karen.

The games, food and drinks are provided by Insane Ink, warming up the holiday season just right.

In addition, Winterfest had only started in 2017 and is now an annual tradition.

“The purpose of our annual Winterfest started for the parents. In previous years, we’ve only had the school-wide performances, which didn’t give our families a chance to see what their child was working on and the hard work they’ve dedicated in class,” adds Oziris.

During the process of the showcase, the students poured a lot of effort and work into the production to make the show a great success.

“Directing the show was a lot more stressful than I thought. I actually had a nightmare about forgetting light cues! Overall, I really enjoyed sharing my ideas with my co-directors, Karen and Amanda. We’re all super creative in different ways and it was interesting seeing all of our visions come together,” states Oziris. “We have the cast, booth team, props team, stage managers, costume crew and deck leaders. No part is a small part.”

Breaking down the deadly disease of the senior class

By Victor Xie

Forget the flu! There’s another disease that’s taking the senior class by storm: senioritis.

If you don’t know if you have senioritis or not, here’s a list of expected symptoms you may experience:

  • Doing homework the day it’s due
  • Not doing homework at all
  • Saying, “I can do it tomorrow”
  • Saying, “I got this in the bag” without studying for the test
  • Not realizing anything is due
  • Feeling like nothing in school matters anymore

When I was a freshman and seniors told me, “I have massive senioritis,” I never understood why anyone could stop caring about school. More importantly, I never understood how anyone could stop working for something they’ve been working towards for almost four years.

Well, here I am, a senior, suffering from massive and crippling senioritis.

I never thought I would catch it. Looking back, I feel like freshman-me was much more driven and ambitious. I wanted to get straight A’s, get positions in clubs and do everything possible that would look good on college applications. Now as a senior, I think I’ve kind of accepted that it’s too late to chase those ambitions, and that’s probably what causes my senioritis.

I think what really bugs me is that people don’t really understand why some of us seniors catch senioritis in the first place. I just survived probably the worst year of my life: junior year. And now I’m being told to keep working, studying, writing and calculating with no assurance whatsoever that it will ever pay off. With college applications submitted, I’m simply waiting for judgement day. Senior year just seems like an excessive waiting line that determines my future.

If I could go back in time and tell my early senior-self not to catch senioritis, I don’t think I would. I think my senioritis is pretty justified; I’ve worked hard and now I’m burnt out.

I do homework in third period. I go home and take naps. I procrastinate on five-page research papers. These are bad habits I never did until senior year (surprisingly) and never thought I’d normalize. I guess my senioritis isn’t as bad as others that I’ve witnessed, but nonetheless I never thought I’d catch such a deadly disease.

Now, getting out of this pit hole of feeling endlessly unmotivated is going to be hard; probably impossible at this point. But I guess I’ll try. In second semester.

To the underclassmen: watch out. Senioritis gets the best of everyone.