Students prepare for college applications at UC workshop


IN SESSION Juniors Tina Tran and Phillip Tran are brainstorming for their UC applications.

Photo courtesy of Colin Nguyen

By Diane Tran

California School Foundation (CSF) club gave an opportunity for fellow pirates to attend a UC workshop at Educational Park Library from Oct.18 to Nov. 1.  It is a program created by Kevin Tran, an alumnus from Independence High School who is now a student at UC Berkeley, which assists high-school students with the UC application as well as a step-to-step approach to reduce the amount of stress for the students.

Mr. Tran had the intention of helping other students and asked his community to see if there was enough interest.

“The idea immediately gained a lot of support so I decided to plan it—only I wanted to do it my own way.  I wanted students to not only avoid procrastinating and be less stressed out about the process, but also become their own self advocates so they may better represent themselves in their personal statements and better yet, in their lives,” explained Mr. Tran.

The workshop is self-planned by Mr. Tran.  He explains that he does not plan much for the workshop but just a rough outline on how he wants the session to flow.

“Since my main focus is self-advocacy aspect, I only need to research the more concrete and explicit writing tips.  Much of what I do during the workshop is ‘in the moment’ in other words, I analyze the student’s various contexts to direct my presentation of the material,” describes Mr.Tran.

High school students, specifically PHHS students, are very grateful for him to be able to guide them through this process.

“I went to the first session and it was based on self-advocacy.  So, we got to reflect on our lives and ourselves in general more, and I got to appreciate myself more.  I felt like I was able to dig deeper into myself because usually school stresses so much that I just put myself down more than I try to talk about myself” states junior Tina Tran.

By going to the workshop, students were able to take stress off.

“I learned to not procrastinate through his workshop; it seems like a general rule but for college applications.  It’s really important to be organized to lessen the stress load overall,” indicates junior Phillip Ly.

CSF has brought awareness to the workshop by mentioning it into their weekly general meetings.  Mr. Tran and CSF both have had an impact on the students that went.


Things to know before starting applications

By Quynh Luu

Applying to colleges is a stressful process for many seniors, especially for those unsure of what they need to do.  After all, there are other concerns of filling out forms, such as maintaining grades and keeping up with club activities.  Here are some helpful tips that should make the whole procedure easier:

  1. If you’re not currently a senior, think about starting applications during the summer. Although many students start on their applications during the fall, it would be a better to start earlier considering that first semester final exams usually occur during that season and winter.  Studying to pass those exams with flying colors is tough enough, so don’t try to pile on more work at that time.
  2. Many colleges and universities offer the chance to apply for early admission or early action. This means that students can submit their applications in advance to perhaps increase their chances of being admitted.  If you have your mind set on attending a certain institution, look into whether that place provides this opportunity for a chance to receive some major benefits.
  3. Remember that certain college majors may ask an applicant to submit other specific items along with the general transcripts and test scores. At UCLA (University of Los Angeles, California), an art major applicant would need to submit a portfolio of eight to ten pages along with their completed UC application.  At Yale University, an aspiring drama student has to provide three professional letters of recommendation.  Fulfilling all the requirements is crucial to being accepted into the major of your choice.
  4. Submit your standardized test scores. No matter how poorly you performed on the SAT and ACT, colleges and universities expect to receive them.  However, keep in mind that your chances of admission are also determined by other factors beyond those results such as volunteer hours and essays.
  5. Don’t be afraid to talk to your counselor and teachers. If you’re willing to open up to them, they can provide guidance and help you through problems concerning academic studies.  Remember, they all have had the same challenging experience of applying to colleges.
  6. Keep everything organized. You will have to find many documents to submit to colleges.  Losing one of them could greatly affect your chances of being accepted.
  7. If you are a student from a disadvantaged background, look into college application fee waivers. You will be able to submit an application to your dream college for a relatively low price if you qualify.
  8. Don’t wait too long to submit your application. Problems such as overloaded servers might occur if you turn it in on the day of the deadline.  The college application is a life-changing item, so it’s important that the one you send to admissions officers will be great enough for an acceptance letter.

Volleyball wins league title first time in 16 years

S.07.Girls Volleyball.Sommer Fowler

BUMP SET SPIKE Freshman Kaitlyn Seawright refuses to let the ball drop.

Photo: Rosa Lin

By Sommer Fowler

Girls Volleyball ended their season with a score of 3-0 against Evergreen Valley in a home game on Nov. 5.  Varsity girls will continue to CCS (Central Coast Section) as league champions.

The team held strong throughout the season and lost only one game at the beginning of the season to Del Mar.  The girls faced Del Mar again and gained victory, never losing a game since.  The team currently has an 11 game winning streak.

“Ever since then we’ve been strolling along through the season,” explains varsity player Kiane Floyd.  “Coming back and beating them was a big confidence boost”.

The players stress the importance of being a single united team in order to keep their winning streak alive. “I think that we had really good team chemistry,” comments varsity player Allison Pereira.  The team is always looking to improve and perfect, so they’re “still working on [their] communication” reveals Floyd.

Coach Beti Nham have pushed the girls through training and led them to success using careful strategy. “The coaches are our biggest cheerleaders and are there to watch us succeed throughout our season,” remarks Varsity player Ivy Johnson.

Many players were returnees of the last season, making it easy to predict the team’s skill early in the season.  “It was a well prepared season,” acknowledges Floyd, “we already knew from the start what our season was going to look like.  We only lost about three seniors,” explains Pereira.

The girls are currently gearing toward CCS, hoping to take the title.  They now face the challenge of getting into the CCS mindset after spending a season focused on league championships.  “We want to win CCS for sure,” says Pereira. The first goal is to win the first round and “see what happens from there”.

The team is not taking training for CCS lightly.  In addition to regular practice, the girls “watch our opponents’ film to see how they play so we know how to play stronger against them” reveals Johnson.

Individual players also have some goals of their own they wish to accomplish. Floyd is hoping to “end (her) season very well. (She) really wants to get her name on that banner in the gym”.

CCS began Wednesday, Nov. 11 in the PHHS gym 7pm.

Football touches down to end season

By Patrick Trieu

Varsity Football

The Varsity Football team continues its season in games against Leland High School, Santa Teresa High School, Oak Grove High School, and Live Oak High School.

The team suffered hard losses against Leland and Santa Teresa.

“It was a tough game, we had em at the end of the game. Second half was so much better half than the first half, but we just didn’t come out on top,” describes Slot and Quarter Back Joquel Walker as he recounts the away game against Santa Teresa.

Despite these tough and difficult losses, the team continues to practice and work hard to overcome these obstacles

“We will play better and get the team to try to make playoffs.” says Coach Matthew Kiesle.

The close bond of the team is instrumental in driving the team to work and play hard at games.

“Before games and all that, we all get together and get hyped for the game,” reminisce Outside Linebacker Marty Aceves.

The Varsity Football team’s main goal is to make it to CCS (Central Coast Section) Championships, where they will face off against other schools in the East Side Union High School District.

The team lost last Friday’s Home game against Oak Grove High School. The football season will come to a close with its last game today against Live Oak High School.

JV Football

The JV Football team follows up their season with games against Leland High School, Santa Teresa High School, Oak Grove High School, and Live Oak High School.

The team continues its successful start with consecutive wins against Leland and Santa Teresa. This streak of victories are the result of the team’s practice, hard work, and teamwork.

“It feels good when I get a point in and help out the team” conveys Wide Receiver Demarri Floyd.

The JV Football team won last Friday’s Home game against Oak Grove, and will have its final game today against Live Oak High School.

VSA competes in community competition


Phở REAL! VSA girls perform a traditional Vietnamese dance.

Photo Courtesy: Amy Van

By Kyle Nathan Sumida

VSA (Vietnamese Student Association) competed in the annual MAYS (Mid Autumn Youth Summit) at Yerba Buena High School on Nov. 1 to raise funds for their club and to showcase their talents.

At this event, VSA clubs around San Jose meet together to compete in dance, cultural jeopardy, skits, olympics, singing and speech.

“It’s overall a really great event for the Vietnamese community because students, parents and organization leaders all contribute to making the event successful and fun,” exclaims President Rose Hoang.  “I love watching the other schools and seeing what other VSA clubs are doing when they perform.”

Cash rewards are given out as prizes to the top three schools in each category, with each one ranging from around $50 to $200.  PHHS’s VSA club placed third in the cultural jeopardy category and earned $50; second in skit and earned $100; and first in singing and earned $75.  Although the school did not receive a reward for the speech category, senior Richard Nguyen successfully landed in fourth place.

Spencer Nguyen, member of the club and first place winner for the singing category, was surprised to hear the great news.

“There were some good singers there,” comments Spencer.  “I was scared for most of the day because I had to switch songs the night before at 1am.”

The club encountered rigorous planning and preparation for all of the categories.  Practices for the different categories began right after Homecoming week, but both Rose and sophomore board member Cindy Nguyen agree that it was difficult for members to all come on the same day to practice.

“Our skit people were busy on different days, so not everyone was at the practices,” explains Cindy.

Club Treasurer Tina Tran comments that the funds raised will be saved for next semester’s annual PHHS VSA show.


Application: What are you asking me?

By Yen Linh Duong

It’s senior year, and the time to apply to your dream school is finally here.  You’ve spent the last three years building up your profile and now it’s time to make your application shine.  You hop right into business only to find yourself asking, “What do they want from me?”  Don’t worry, the PHHS Legend is here to help.  Here are some of the definitions that can help make your life a little bit easier.

CBO (Community Based Organization)
– a non-profit organization that provides free advising for students

Common App ID (CAID)
– an 8 digit number ID that colleges use to identify students and the materials they submit for admission consideration

Counselor Recommendation
– a form filled out by your counselor that provide your basic profile of academic, extracurricular and personal characteristics

Early Action (EA)
– an application process where a student may apply and receive a decision earlier than the Regular Decision notification date.  The student then has until May 1 of senior year to make a decision on the offer.

Early Decision (ED)
– an application process where a student decides on enrollment upon a certain college.  Once that college admits the student, all of the student’s other applications to other colleges will be canceled.

FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act)
– a law that provides protection for the privacy of student educational records

Final Report
– a form submitted by a counselor that provides the student’s academic work until the end of senior year

Gap year
– a period of time between high school and college when a student pauses his or her education for other means

Member Questions
– unique set of questions that a student must answer upon admission to that specific college.  This may include additional writing prompts.

Mid Year Report
– a form submitted by counselors that provides academic achievement of a student through the middle of senior year

Restrictive Early Action (REA)
– similar to Early Action, a student might submit application and receive a decision early, but the colleges are allowed to place restrictions to your other early application process

– a decision plan that allows the student to submit an application anytime during senior year

Writing Supplement
– additional writing prompts required by colleges

Choosing the right college

By Tiffany Lee

Application season is blooming, and many students feel tremendous stress when submitting applications due to endless college rankings, parental pressure and peer judgment.  With all this external weight on their shoulders, students often forget whose opinion actually matters: their own.

The American Dream has officially shifted from the pursuit of happiness to the pursuit of a school with a “good” name.  Eager students await the highly anticipated college rankings lists every year, and narrow down their choices from the top 100, or the top 50, or even the top 10.  But what do these rankings prove?  That Ivy League schools are the only ones worth applying to?  Of course not.  These lists are primarily based on undergraduate academic reputation, which consists of two subfactors: peer assessment surveys and high school counselors’ ratings, both of which could easily include biased opinions.  The rankings only exist to insure the aristocracy of the Ivy League.

Parental and peer pressure attack students even more.  Constant questioning occurs at school, when friends bemoan college applications together, and after school, when parents confirm that their children are going to go to Stanford.  But worst of all is the dreaded family reunion.  Unrecognizable relatives ask which college students are heading to and try to hide looks of disappointment when they receive an answer they deem as inferior.  Parents can’t stop talking about that one cousin double-majoring in Harvard, or the other cousin who just graduated a valedictorian from UC Berkeley.  The endless comparisons to others both inside and outside of school are unhealthy and simply wrong.

What makes a college the right choice?  Students should think about what the school offers that other schools don’t, the school’s strongest majors, the cost, location, student life and many other factors that contribute to an amalgam of the perfect college.  It’s impossible to find a school that’s perfect for everyone.

Pick a school that’s good for your major.  Some schools are better for engineers, and others are better for lawyers.

Pick a school that’s as close or as far away from home as you want.  Just remember this simple saying: Stanford for staying at home, Princeton for prying away your parents’ invasive fingers.

Pick a school whose culture fits you.  Distinctions between public or private, small or big and rural or urban schools can play a large part in making the next four years a comfortable experience.

Don’t whole-heartedly dismiss a school because of cost.  Many schools are willing to offer great amounts of financial aid and scholarships if they want you, so don’t shy away from applying to the more expensive schools.

Pick a school that has the right dorms.  Some schools force freshmen to stay in dorms, and some don’t have a four-year dorm guarantee.  Some schools don’t allow microwaves and water boilers, which could endanger those who intend to live on instant noodles.  Some schools don’t allow you to choose your roommate, posing a problem to those who want to live with their best friends for four years.

Pick a school that has the right weather.  Especially for comfortable Californians, a switch in climate could be disastrous.  Going from summer all year long to rain and sleet could dampen your spirits.

Pick a school that suits you as a whole, and don’t be afraid to be picky when doing so.  My brother’s strongest argument against the University of the Pacific was that it had too much brick.

In the end, you’ll spend four years of your life there.  Don’t be miserable.  Weigh the possibilities yourself instead of letting others put weight upon you.

Girls Tennis smashes into CCS

S.06.Girls Tennis.Emilie Chau

CHEERS! The girls celebrate their season of hardwork and dedication.

Photo courtesy of Hannah Lim

By Emilie Chau

The PHHS Varsity Girls Tennis team made it to CCS (Central Coast Section) Championships after winning against Westmont High School on Thurs., Oct. 29.  They won with a score of 5-1, ensuring Piedmont Hills a place in CCS this year.  The first game for CCS was on Mon., Nov. 9 against Archbishop Mitty High School with a score of __ at the Santa Clara Bay Club.

In order to qualify for CCS, a team needs to be placed in first, second, or third place in the division. First and second place get automatically seated while third place is required to win two more matches against other teams in the BVAL (Blossom Valley Athletic League) in order to qualify for CCS.

In order to prepare for CCS, the team has worked extra hard with more drills and practices.  Training included various warm ups such as down the line shots (where the player hits the ball straight down the line of the tennis court to the other side).

In contrast to normal practices, which include both JV and Varsity members, practices for CCS only consisted of the Varsity team.

“We usually prioritize the JV but for practice for CCS we only have Varsity members play,” states Varsity member Hannah Lim on the difference between normal practices and practices for CCS.

Last year’s Varsity team consisted of mostly seniors, making this year’s team almost new.  However, with bonding sessions such as movie nights, the girls have become a very tight-knit team.

“In the beginning of the year–since a lot of seniors left–we weren’t that close, but by the end of the season we got super close,” says Varsity player Katelynn Grajeda.

JV and Varsity Girls Tennis team members both continue to work hard on their skills, striving to improve their abilities with every game they encounter this season. The team’s close-knit and friendly attitude will keep them together through their victories and losses throughout this tournament.

Pirate of the Issue: Jeremiah Loree


“HOW CAN SKY BE THE LIMIT?” Jeremiah Loree raps at Key Club’s LTG Banquet.

Photo courtesy of Naomi Tran

By Michelle Fong

“I can hardly recall a day where I wasn’t rehearsin’ verses, convinced that my purpose / was to inspire with lyrics, and even open the curtains for a younger kid with similar dreams as my own / reveal to him his importance through the words in the song / cuz I know how good the music sounds when you’re alone,” senior Jeremiah Loree passionately raps in his album Misfortune.

Jeremiah began to develop an interest in rapping when he was ten.  The movies Notorious and 8 Mile sparked his interest in rap culture, and he began to learn how to write his own raps.

“I was very fascinated by the technical aspect of it like how people could rhyme eight, ten syllables at a time…and still at the same time tell a story about something that I could relate to,” explains Jeremiah.

One of Jeremiah’s most well-known raps is his Work to Rule rap, performed at the school board meeting last November.

“Actually the day before the meeting, (P.E. teacher Jennifer) Harris contacted me and asked if I could do it, so I had literally that night to do it and rap it the next day,” reveals Jeremiah.

He has released three albums so far—Infinitive:The Mixtape, Misfortune and Rough Edges EP—and is working on releasing another one soon.  Despite the expensive cost of professionally producing his own CD, Jeremiah passed out his albums for free to students and teachers who wanted one.  His rap songs can also be downloaded from his Youtube channel, 59Miah.

Jeremiah has also competed in various rap contests, namely the Teambackpack Cypher in sophomore year and the Kato’s No Sucka MC’s contest in senior year.  Although he has had his music featured on the radio, Spotify and iTunes, his proudest achievement to date is a simple message to him about his positive influence on others.

“My main goal in music has always been to help people through whatever struggles they’re going through and inspire them to find their passion,” emphasizes Jeremiah.

He also has a passion for bodybuilding.  Similar to rapping, he treats bodybuilding as a way to relieve stress.

“It started off as (wanting to get big), but then the more I got into it, it became another form of expression and another passion that I had,” Jeremiah elaborates.  “Once you see results, it’s just addicting.”

He is also the treasurer for Elements and part of the wrestling team.

More information about his music can be found on his website:

Teen independence: fabrication or reality?

By Justine Afalla

On a cold chilly autumn night in November, the idea of college always lingers in the minds of both students and parents.  They often ponder about agonizing college applications, tedious financial expenses and the dreadful thought of independence.

Not all of this may apply to our current and future generation students, nor will it apply to select parents, but there will always be a time in life where children age and subtly crave to spread their wings to fly into the sky of independence and adventure.

Now, not all parents intend to make their children suffer or feel bad about themselves, but their constant questioning about whether their children are capable of living on their own leave students to doubt their ideals and dreams about independence (or maybe spark an interest).  It is tough, students are often prejudiced with the thought of parting with their loved ones just for their own personal reasons.  Sometimes the thought of selfishness may cross their mind, but that is not always the case.

In reality, students have to consider that they are not entirely independent. Young students still rely on college funds and other expenses contributed by their own parents or guardians.  Students may have had a taste of the ‘real-world’ through a part time job or activity and consider themselves to be mentally mature; and there is nothing wrong with maintaining a positive mindset about adulthood.  In fact, it is good to stay optimistic in order to make a first step into independence.

Some students and parents often have a negative perception about growing up, yet sometimes they fail to acknowledge the reasons behind such opinions.  Parents and guardians often fail to realize that it is okay to trust their children and let go.  It is up to their better judgment to determine whether they are mentally ready to realize the small adolescent they have raised is capable of caring for him or herself; and vice versa to young aspiring students.

Overall, both students and parents should come to a mutual understanding and create an establishment of trust in order to move forward in life.  It is good to keep a positive mindset on the subject and obtain confidence in order to eliminate dreadful tensions between student and parent; not only will it develop trust and compassion, but being able to communicate will form a stronger bond.