Instrumental Concert “Pieces of Autumn” rustles people to the door

SPOTLIGHT! Symphony Orchestra gets ready to tune before their performance.

By Arthur Hoang

As the students of Orchestra and band set up for their first concert of the year, they discovered that the way to their instruments was surrounded by toilet water.

Before the concert even started, disaster had struck the concert.  As the performers came to set up, they saw that water was flooded out one of the side doors of the L-Building.  In addition toilets were locked so none of the performers could have gotten in, only the janitors and staff had keys to get in.

“In of the bathrooms the toilets had been constantly running and had overflowed,” said orchestra teacher Emily Ray.

On Oct. 5, the orchestra and band had their first concert of the year in the L-Building. Admission was five dollars and the audience was treated to what both groups had been working on since the beginning of the year.  The String Orchestra started off the night with She will Hang the Night with Stars and the Finale from Symphony no. 41, then the Concert Band performed Whispers of the Wind, Little English Suite and Valley Forge March.

Afterwards, there was an intermission where the Instrumental Club sold refreshments: pumpkin cookies, chai lattes, custard donut holes and water.

“All money raised goes to music festivals, the Disneyland trip, instrument repairs and instrumental coaches to help students perform better,” said Instrumental Club President Sarah Dao

Then, the audience returned to its seats and the Symphony Orchestra took the stage and they performed Danse Bacchanale and Fandango asturiano. Finally, Wind Ensemble rounded out the night with the Russian Sailor’s Dance and the First Suite in E flat.

The music for the concert had been in the hands of the students for only a couple weeks. The String Orchestra had its music for five and eight weeks, respectively for each of their pieces and the Symphony Orchestra had its music for about six weeks.

“ The performances generally went well. Orchestra played well with no major mishaps,” says Ms.Ray.

The next Instrumental Concert will be on Dec. 9 in the L-Building.


English Department works to bring back English 4


By Sean Tseng

As Piedmont Hills settles into the fall semester, the English Department is once again working to bring English 4 back onto the course list for seniors.  This comes at the heels of a student-driven petition from last spring which brought the issue to the forefront of Piedmont’s concerns.

English teacher Tricia Bolster, whose sophomore students wrote and delivered the petition last school year, has been a long-time vocal advocate for bringing English 4 back.

“I’ve heard from a lot of students,” remarks Ms. Bolster.  “They want to take something else as seniors besides ERWC.”

English 4 has been offered at Piedmont Hills before.  Since Piedmont’s establishment, the course had been available to seniors who did not want to take English Literature and Composition AP (AP Literature).  However, four years ago, the district issued a mandate ordering teachers to stop offering the course.  Instead, ERWC (Expository Reading and Writing Course) became the only alternative seniors had to AP Literature.

ERWC teaches nonfiction English writing and is meant to reinforce the literacy skills of students who have not yet passed certain English tests.  Essentially, it acts as a remedial college course, allowing passing students to skip the English tests in college and go straight into English 1A.  It also allows special needs students to be mainstreamed into the population.

“It’s a valid course for a valid population.  It is not supposed to be the default English course for seniors,” Ms. Bolster firmly explains.

The biggest issue with the current options available for Piedmont seniors is the fact that a sizeable part of the student body has taken English Language and Composition AP (AP Language) in their junior year. This means students who go from AP Language, which already teaches nonfiction writing at a rigorous level and pace, to ERWC are experiencing a repetitive and slow class.  This causes grief for many academically advanced students who feel the class is not meeting their needs.

“One, it’s useless.  Two, it’s not fun at all,” sighs senior and former AP Language student Hannah Lim.  This attitude seems to be the general consensus among the population of former AP Language students now enrolled in ERWC.

Of course, these issues have not come at the fault of either the course or the teachers.  The problem lies in the fact that ERWC must cater to a wide range of students with differing academic backgrounds.  From mainstreamed special education students to students who excelled in AP Language and everyone in between, ERWC poses a serious challenge.  No matter how teachers run the class, a large amount of students will find the course ill-fitted for their needs.

“Even teachers want (former AP Language) kids out so they can really teach,” says English Department Chair and English teacher Nancy Kennett.  This, in addition to the testimonials of several past students, has motivated Ms. Kennett to fight for the reinstatement of English 4 over the last few months.

As of early October, the district has decided that English 4 may be offered again on the condition that it be piloted as a new course.  In a meeting held on Oct. 18, the English Department Chairs and a representative from each department convened to write the English 4 curriculum.  Ms. Kennett projects that English 4 will be available to Piedmont students as early as next August.  Still, the results are not entirely what the teachers and the English Department had hoped for, at least in terms of timeliness.

“I wish we had offered it this year.  That’s what feels unnecessary.  We could have offered it this year,” Ms. Kennett reflects.

Ms. Bolster echoes the sentiment as well: “I was sad.  I was hoping (seniors) would get the choice this year.”

Homecoming comes to PHHS

DAZZLING! Male cheer elevates to another level.

Picture Courtesy of Kristy Nguyen

By Emilie Chau and Hannah Tong

Piedmont Hills awaited Homecoming by decorating the hallways, hosting Spirit Week, participating in Powderpuff games, attending the Homecoming Rally and organizing a Homecoming Dance on the week of Sept. 19.

Like previous years, each class decorated the hallways according to its theme: freshmen had Spongebob, sophomores had Wreck-It Ralph, juniors had Princess and the Frog and seniors had Greek mythology.iedmont Hills awaited Homecoming by decorating the hallways, hosting Spirit Week, participating in Powderpuff games, attending the Homecoming Rally and organizing a Homecoming Dance on the week of Sept. 19.

“We started our murals as soon as sophomore year ended,” stated Class of 2018 Vice President Howard Tong.  “I’m proud of my class because it took so much time and effort to paint a mural, and we made twenty two of them.”

Along with the decorated halls were spirit days.  Every day was a different theme, starting with the freshmen’s Spongebob theme and finishing with the seniors’ Greek mythology theme.  Then, Friday was saved for the traditional class color day.

“Our Spongebob theme was nice,” comments freshman Brandon Lin.  “I liked the colors in the hallway decorations.  The rally was also very fun and eventful.”

At lunch everyday, ASB Pep Rally Commissioner Martin Ruiz hosted spirit games in the quad in which people from each class compete to win spirit points.

Girls Powderpuff, an annual flag football game played throughout Homecoming week among all the classes, began at the beginning of the week.

“[The games] really bring out the competitiveness in the girls,” comments Class of 2018 Secretary Stephanie Vinoya. “They get pretty crazy, but at the end of the day it’s all fun and games.”

The games ended with seniors beating the juniors 7-0.

To finish off Homecoming week, PHHS hosted its “Horns and Halos” Homecoming Dance on Sept. 24.  The number of ticket sales was the most ever in recent years, with over four hundred tickets sold.

“Most students thought that the dance would be dead and not have many people going,” said ASB Club Commissioner Vince Nguyen.  “However, we completely obliterated the goal of ticket sales.”

The dance took place in the L-Building and was decorated with large murals painted by the leadership class.  Colorful lights illuminated the dance floor, long lines formed for the photobooth and decorated clouds on the stage set the mood for Homecoming.

With so many bodies in one room, the atmosphere was physically hot and exhilarating.  Even so, all the students crowded the front of the stage where the DJ was and danced enthusiastically to have a good time.

Students protest national anthem

By Alyssa Gutierrez

The students and student athletes of Piedmont Hills joined the movement and the protest and decided to take a knee during the Homecoming Football Game on Sept. 23 against Mt. Pleasant during the singing of the National Anthem. Students also raised their fists and sat down during the Homecoming Rally on that same day. People all across the country started protesting the National Anthem to protest against police violence and to raise awareness for the Black Lives Matter movement in the United States.

“For the people who don’t actually know the actual lyrics, Google the original ones, it directly has quotes linked to slavery and punishing black people so that is why we decided to take a knee” informs Senior Offensive Lineman Donovan Taylor. Not everybody agreed with the student’s right to protest. The PHHS football coaches told their players if they do it again, they’ll bench them for the game says Senior Michael Bird. You can’t just decide on student athlete views to comment on this matter. Most of the students and staff at PHHS didn’t even realize this was happening. “I don’t think it will achieve anything because we’re only high school students and that won’t make a difference in the world” says Junior Casey Lambert.

This all started when the San Francisco 49ers Quarterback Collin Kaepernick took a knee during the singing of the National Anthem to raise awareness for the Black Lives Matter movement and to raise awareness of police violence. People all over the country disagreed with his choice because it is “disrespectful to our troops and to our country,” but he received more love than hate. It also confused a lot of people because why didn’t he protest this when he was a starting quarterback? It would have gotten a lot more attention, but it got just the right amount for people all around to speak out. Students as well as other athletes are all following him now and joining his movement.

How will this movement make a difference in the world and bring forward the Black Lives Matter movement? There are a lot of different opinions whether this movement will make a difference in the world. Casey thinks that “It will definitely get more attention drawn to that subject but I don’t think anything will happen because police are going to continue being police.”

Donovan thinks otherwise that change will happen, but it will happen over time. “At least in American, sports play a big part of our daily lives so it will definitely sky rocket forward” and he also added “In time you will find a better way to deal with it.” The big question now is, will you protest against the National Anthem and join the movement?


Science department purchase 3D printer


By Andrew Huynh

Classes might just get more interesting now that the Science Department has purchased a new 3D printer.  According to Physiology teacher David Vasques, Science teacher Archie Kregear spearheaded the plan to purchase the printer.

“He had the idea for a couple years, but it took a while to get the grant,” answered Mr. Vasques when asked when the idea was conceived.

The printer costed around $2,500, much less compared to the old cost of $10,000.

Gathering all of the funds needed for the order took about ten months.  The purchase was made possible due to contributions “from a grant, some boosters, and a bunch of money from several different sources.” The ESUHSD contributed $1,000 in the form of a grant.

“We put the money in an account and then purchased it,” stated Mr. Vasques.

With this new technology, many teachers are thinking of ways to incorporate it into their lesson plans.

“I’m still exploring my options, which is researching what I can do.  I want to incorporate this into an inquiry based design but I’m just struggling with how to implement it,” said Biology teacher Jason Dries.

“I gave them all my Biotech students an open project, design something Biotech related and print it,” stated Mr. Kregear.

When asked why he wanted to buy a printer for the Science Department, Mr. Kregear answered, “For students to have exposure to 3D printing will help them prepare for college and get a concept of how to manufacture materials.” However, science classes aren’t the only ones who are planning to use a printer. CAD (Computer Aided Design) classes have always been making designs, but were not able to do anything else with them until now.

“I think the CAD class is getting one too, or already got one.  Hopefully there will be some coordination between us and the CAD classes,” commented Mr. Vasques.

With permission, students not in classes that use 3D printers will also be able to print their own designs.

“You would probably go through with Kregear.  It’s not completely open. Obviously we want to be able to monitor what’s going on.  If it’s not being used for a certain project already,” said Mr. Vasques.

Although he has no plans to use the printer in his lesson plans yet, Mr. Dries has been able to print some things.

“I have made a very important Iron Throne from Game of Thrones and a self-watering planter this morning, which took a shocking amount of time to do,” he commented.