Sculpture class skypes with UCLA art director

Sculpture class skypes with UCLA. Ms. Rubay

LET’S SKYPE! Students of sculpture class engage deeply into the video call with the director.

by Yen Linh Duong

As the due date for college application was drawing near, many thoughts troubled the minds of seniors.  Having to not only keep up their grades, they also faced some of the most important decision-making moments of their lives accompanied with the never-ending application, leaving them no time to even breathe.  Luckily, the sculpture class of N. Rubay were able to receive help for college directly from the UCLA Art Director Laura Young through Skype.  Contacted by senior Tim Vo, a student of the class, Ms. Young proposed to Skype with the class on Oct. 14.

“Originally I called and asked her if I could just please have a representative of the UCLA Art come to my school and talk to my classmates.  But unfortunately, they couldn’t do that,” recalls Tim.  “So Laura ultimately resorts to the final and biggest one, which was skyping my whole class.  She actually offers to do that, so that was such a great idea and it just shows how generous she was to get out of her way to do this for us.”

During the Skype call, Ms. Young kindly answered all of the questions asked by the students, helping them as much as she could in one full hour of class.

“She talks a lot about what you need in order to apply to UCLA, as far as the art program goes, and she discusses various portfolio requirements, about campus, what it was like, how impacted the art program was.  She covered everything in the form of what the art program is pretty much like,” describes junior Sierra Sharp.

Through the conversation, Ms. Young has ignited the passion for art in the students and inspired many to pursue a major in art as well as applying for the art program at UCLA.

“It’s really reassuring because you have someone directly from the admission office to tell you what to do and what to expect for you to apply for the art major there because UCLA is such an intimidating school, but she made it sound so welcoming.  I would definitely go there,” reflects senior Iris Chiang.



Should Columbus Day be a holiday?

By Walt Leung

In 1492, Christopher Columbus sailed the ocean blue—so the rhyme goes.  Most students in the United States know that Columbus was actually searching for India when he stumbled upon the Americas.  Some know that Columbus landed on San Salvador and never even touched North America.  But nearly none know that the people he labelled as “Indians” were actually Tainos.

From childhood, we have always visualized Columbus in a positive light; we see him as an explorer, courageously venturing into the unknown.  We learn about Columbus as the spearhead of the age of exploration, the discoverer of the Americas.  However, history books never shed light on his greed and abuse.  There is never information about his enslavement of the Tainos upon arrival, his insistence on their conversion to Christianity, his introduction of new diseases to the Americas.  We never learn about the massive suffering he inflicted upon the Native Americans.

The extent of Columbus’s damage to the native population has never been accurately documented.  Although we may be committing the butterfly effect fallacy to solely blame Columbus for the near-eradication of the entire Native American population, the death of nearly 250,000 Tainos within the first half-century upon his landing in present-day San Salvador can certainly be attributed to his brutish attitudes toward the natives.  The Atlantic Slave Trade that occurred in the early days of American colonization has another name, perhaps one with a deeper connotation: the Columbian Exchange.  Named after Columbus, who pioneered this triangular trade, the Columbian Exchange introduced not only food, culture and animals, but also slavery and death.

For a country that has been so progressive in championing civil liberties, LGBT rights and gender equality, the United States of America has largely ignored the plight of its indigenous natives.  In 1937, the United States adopted Columbus Day as a national holiday, perhaps one of the greatest insults to Native Americans by honoring the man who arguably started the greatest genocide in recent history.

Although it can be said that our beloved United States of America would never have come into fruition had Columbus not sailed the ocean blue, it is important to remember that Columbus was never the angelic man we often portray him as.  It’s time our nation follows in the footsteps of cities such as Berkeley, Calif. and instead renames this day to Indigenous Peoples’ Day, in an attempt to honor the natives who originally inhabited what we now call home.

PHHS flood strikes again


H 2 OH NO! The infamous PHHS flood strikes yet again.

Photo courtesy of Elijah Macias

By Cynthia Tran

On Aug. 27, there was another flood that took place at Piedmont Hills High School. The pipes had broken for the third time, causing quite a commotion on campus.

The flood took place in the morning, granting the students an early release right after their first period.

“I was glad about leaving early because I was so tired already, even though we just had to go to first period.  I guess I’m just always tired,” explained junior Allison Pereira.

The situation was quickly resolved in order for school to resume the following day.  However, having an early release was a relief for the students.

“I went out to eat and got to hang out with my friends since we got out early,” said junior Hannah Tong.  Tests and classwork that day also had to be postponed, which students were glad to hear as well.

“We basically missed a whole day since we only had to go to one period and it was great,” explained junior Kenny Tran.  “I really wish there’s another flood, especially if I have a test or anything I’m not prepared for, which is often.”

Due to the history of floods at Piedmont Hills, students constantly hope there are more in the future for early release.

Even though there was a flood due to broken pipes, the students didn’t mind at all.  “All that matters is that we got to get out early and sleep,” said junior Nicholas Yabumoto.

Halloween Movies


By Jacqueline Nguyen

Marnie Cromwell wants to go to a costume party on Halloween, much to her mother’s disapproval.  When Marnie discovers she’s a witch, she is put to the task of solving the case of the disappearing creatures in Halloweentown.

Ghostbusters (1984)
A team of four middle-aged scientists lose their jobs and are faced with a war against the supernatural in this classic.  Now they are tasked with not only defeating ghosts, but also preventing the apocalypse.  Who you gonna call?

Hocus Pocus
After moving into Salem, Massachusetts, clueless teenager Max Dennison explores an abandoned house with his sister Dani only to release a coven of evil witches.  The kids, with the help of a magical cat, must find the book of spells before the witches can become immortal.

The Nightmare Before Christmas
A classic for both Halloween and Christmas seasons, this movie is about Jack Skellington, the pumpkin king, “who has grown so tired of the same old thing.”  He craves more in his life than the banal Halloween props and traditions he sees every year in Halloweentown and hopes to spice things up.  Catchy musical numbers ahead.


The Haunted Mansion
Realtor Jim Evers, played by Eddie Murphy, and his family go on a vacation after Jim is accused of neglecting his family.  They make a detour at a mysterious mansion to find that they become trapped in it.  As they try to make it out alive, Jim learns an important lesson about his family.

How Starbucks (kind of) jeopardized my SAT score

By Jacqueline Nguyen

On the tranquil morning of June 6, my mom and I innocuously decided to make a quick stop at the Starbucks on the corner next to James Lick High School on the way to Mount Pleasant High School, my test center for the day.  I hadn’t slept as early as I hoped because of the anxiety of getting anxiety from the gravity of the test, so the plain vanilla latte should’ve done the trick.  I was also hungry, so she got me a Bacon Gouda sandwich as well.  Though I can’t recall how the latte was, I vividly remember the bacon, cheese and regret I tasted from consuming that demonic sandwich.

During the test, my stomach would not stop grumbling.  My face was paler than bleach on white out as I was working through section 4.  I can’t even remember what type of section it was because of my stomach’s incessant demands.  This continued throughout the entire test, and even the plentiful bathroom breaks would not stop my stomach from attempting to leap from my body.  At around the later sections, I was ready to pass out from the horror of the grumbling and holding in the farts.  I was sweaty, pale and a hot mess.  I knew I wasn’t going to get a good score on my first try at the SAT, and I didn’t.

Though, as much as I blamed Starbucks (and College Board if you remember that train wreck) for that repulsive number, I now realize that I was trying to deflect blame off of myself for my incompetence and laziness.  I came into the classroom not taking the test all that seriously.  I only did three and a tenth practice tests and spent all my free time on Netflix.  I was stressing out over the fact that this one number had some weight on the next several years of my life that I ended up doing other things.  Not only did I walk into that classroom with terrible stomach pains, but also with stress, an attitude and a desperate need to cry.

The takeaway from this is to prepare now, stay calm and keep a positive attitude, even if feigned at first.  Get as much sleep as you can the night before the test, which means at most minimal preparation only the night before.  Discipline yourself to work your way through those tests.  Finally, remember that you can achieve the score you want as long as you work hard for it (unless you’re reading this the night before then good luck).

Former Pirate stripped of CCS titles

By Diane Tran

This past summer, former PHHS student Reonna Collier did not have her transfer paperwork filed to the Central Coast Section Office, the area in which she moved to and lost all of her four state titles won at CCS.

“If you strip the titles because of some administration reason, then it still doesn’t change her records!  We all know that she topped CCS with her talent and skill.  We all know that her records are legit and she’s the same beast, she always was,” Teammate Alwin Matthew argues.

She won last season in the 300 hurdles as a PHHS freshman and continued to win other CCS championships in the 100 hurdles, 300 hurdles and the 4×400 relay.  Without her transfer paperwork filed, Collier lost all of her CCS titles that she gained last season.

According to Mercury News, PHHS sports director Pete Simos explained, “It was an administrative oversight. We’re going to put things in place to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

Collier was known as a hardworking athlete during her time at PHHS, which got her to where she is now.

“She was a funny, hyper person, easy to talk to, and whatever she did, she did it with all her heart,” Teammate Ryan Coburn states.

She always tried to improve every step along the way.

“[She is] very confident.  She knew she was good. Very good.   She backed that up with her hard work and trained really hard with Chi,” Alwin explains.

She will be missed as a former pirate; however, her new school will gain a remarkable new student.

Key Club partake in Fall Rally North for charity

By Quynh Luu

This Saturday, PHHS Key Club will participate in another year of Fall Rally North at Six Flag’s Discovery Kingdom starting at 10am.  The club will be joining this event alongside other Key Club divisions in California to raise money for the Pediatric Trauma Program.

“[PHHS Key Club is] competing for something called the ‘spirit stick.’  Every division is represented by a different mascot. [PHHS Key Club] is Iron Man and [Independence High School’s Key Club] is Captain America.  We all join together as superheroes going against other divisions in California,” explains Secretary Joshua Ranario. “This year, we have this thing called ‘spirit coordinators.’  They’ve been coming up with new cheers and great ways to bring our school and division on top.”

The Pediatric Program is a project done by Kiwanis whose goal is to raise awareness of preventable injuries inflicted upon children.  The organization focuses on educating the public on how to keep children safe and healthy in order to decrease the number of unintentional injuries worldwide.

“During the spirit rally, we stop for a while and transition to LTG (Lt. General) bidding.  There’s a big stage and all of the LTGs stand up on the stage.  People bid for LTGs, and for our district, we usually have forty to fifty LTGs,” states President Lucy Thai.

During the bidding process, members of different Key Club divisions explain what their LTGs can offer in one day.  An LTG that is successfully “purchased” experiences the event with another division. LTGs are usually auctioned off for $1 thousand to $2 thousand  each.  At last year’s Fall Rally North, PHHS Key Club’s raised $700 dollars in funds from the event.

“There is a ten member increase from last year.  We’ve publicized it really well.  Last year, our historian made a video for the whole thing.  I think a lot of people saw it and thought it was really fun,” claims Vice President of Service May Lam.

“(Fally Rally North) is for a great cause but you also get to meet new people.  Everyone goes all out, and it’s a great sight to see,” Joshua commented.

Tiny shoeboxes bring Christmas to the world

By Yen Linh Duong

PHHS Ignite Christian Club once again is wrapping their shoeboxes, preparing to send them to Operation Christmas Child.  Hosted by Samaritan’s Purse, a Christian organization dedicated in helping people in need, Operation of Christmas Child focuses on bringing happiness to children through these simple shoeboxes.

“Well this is one of the events where we try to reach out to other countries, just people who are less privileged than we are.  What we try to do in this case is that we are trying to show them that there are people out there that care for them regardless of their situation and there’s also a God in heaven who will also cares about how they are,” explains Ignite Christian President Grace Cheung.

The club will be getting these boxes readied afterschool on Friday, filling them with items that can help a child, and during National Collection Week, Nov. 16-Nov. 23, these boxes will be send off with love.

“One of the thing we would give are pencils, we would give socks, toys, maybe like raft candy, and just things that they need over the school year and also like things for them to play with.  It’s just like us wrapping a gigantic Christmas gift in a shoebox form for them to open and celebrate Christmas with and you know, just like spread the love!” says Grace.

Ignite Christian club unites people who share a common belief in God.

“The purpose of the club is to gather together to share spiritual relationship with God and [kind of] just wanting to get together and grow spiritually and [kind of] just having the ability to grow in different aspect, whether relationship at home, even God, and even just with different people in general,” says Ignite Christian Treasurer Bethany J. Domingo.

‘Hamlet’ comes to Piedmont Hills High School

F.04.Hamlet Traveling.Angelina Nguyen

TO BE OR NOT TO BE! Hamlet takes his final breath among his dead cousins.

Photo: Angelina Nguyen

By Angelina Nguyen

Last Tuesday, Hamlet was performed after seventh period by the San Francisco Shakespeare Festival: Shakespeare on Tour in the L-Building.

The English department sponsored the event mainly to give seniors the opportunity to watch Hamlet live on stage since they’ve read the play.  English teacher Nancy Kennett personally coordinated the event while Drama Teacher Anna Woods contacted the company.

“I hope it makes Shakespeare cool for kids,” expresses Ms. Kennett.

The play was free to all students but it was first come, first serve.  The show itself was a little longer than an hour long and starred five actors who were constantly interchanging between different characters throughout the play.  After the play ended, the actors stayed to answer any questions the audience may have had.

Hamlet is the story of a young prince named Hamlet who has been summoned to attend his father’s funeral in Denmark.  He comes home to find that his mother has married his uncle and the uncle is now the king.  Hamlet believes someone has murdered his father and his suspicions are confirmed when his father’s ghost visited him.  The audience witnesses Hamlet and those closest to him fall apart until his father is properly avenged.

The company likes to travel and perform Shakespeare plays in many places in the Bay Area.  Through their performances, they hope to give students and adults a better understanding and respect for the arts.  This is the first year they have come to PHHS.

“We do a lot of library shows, senior centers, we do community centers, Shakespeare societies but mainly a lot of schools,” says actress Sydney Schwindt.

Dia de los Muertos, Day of the Dead

By Emilie Chau

Synonymous with the colorful sugar skull, Day of the Dead, known as Dia de los Muertos in Spanish, is a holiday celebrated throughout Mexico on Nov. 2 to honor deceased loved ones.  It is also a way to contact the spirits of the dead and remind them that they are still loved and unforgotten.  Although physically separated, people can still connect with their loved family members.

The holiday stems from ancient traditions in Mexico from the pre-Columbian era, and those ancient rituals have been around for several thousand years.  When Europeans came to North America, they blended their Roman Catholic holiday of All Saints Day with the natives’ tradition and created Day of the Dead.

Those who celebrate this holiday all have different traditions or customs that they do on Day of the Dead.

“One of my aunts or uncles will collect money for the flowers so they could take more flowers to the cemetery,” says Spanish teacher Claire Gonzalez on one of the traditions her family does for Day of the Dead.

“We make a special bread called pan de muertos,” says Spanish teacher Sergio Reyes.

There are many common traditions that people do, such as decorating the cemetery–typically with marigold flowers, known as cempasúchil in Spanish, have picnic at the cemetery, decorate altars in the homes with the favorite food or trinkets that the deceased loved along with colorful sugar skulls and tell stories of the deceased.

Cemeteries become colorful with the festive decorations and candlelit scenery.

To prepare, many people make or order the food in advance, collect donations for flowers or candles and purchase decorations for the altars.

When remembering loved ones, it isn’t in a sad or somber manner; it is in a joyous and happy way that celebrates the life they lived.  By telling funny stories or anecdotes, one is able to remember how the person was when he or she was alive.