National Merit Scholarship Semifinalists

By Melody Li

In September, seniors Zoe Adams, Perry Tran and Sean Tseng were selected as the semifinalists for the National Merit Scholarship (NMSC) Program and are advancing to the finals in February.

Every year, about one-third of the 50,000 highest scoring students on the PSAT/NMSQT are selected as semifinalists based on a state representational basis.  All 7,500 winners of the three Merit Scholarship awards are chosen based on academic record, test scores, recommendations and essay.

The NMSC Program is an academic competition that recognizes high school students through multiple scholarships that are sponsored by different corporations or colleges.  Any high school student who takes the PSAT/NMSQT no later than junior year can qualify for the NMSC Program.


UNICEF brings trick-or-treat boxes

By Hannahjane Arellano

SMILE! Junior Jiyuan Zhu places money into a trick-or-treat box.


Candy isn’t the only thing that will circle around the campus this month. Every year, UNICEF has Trick-or-Treat boxes throughout October.  These boxes are like colorful piggy banks that collect donations for the organization itself.

The fundraiser started the second week of October and will end the beginning of November.  The money is used to help with certain projects in disastrous areas.  This fundraiser brings a lot of awareness for those in need and for the organization.

Not everyone is required to participate in the fundraiser, but the club officers highly encourage their club members to do so. “Usually everyone participates because most of the members love doing it,” says UNICEF Co-Secretary Brandon Dimapasoc.

“Last year, we raised about $2,000,” mentions President senior Lydia Hong.  This year, their goal is to raise at least $2,500. UNICEF plans to do more fundraisers like this because not only does it involve the club members, it also involves people who want to help fund UNICEF.  The club hopes that people give what they can offer to show support to those in need.

Pirate of the Issue: Sommer Fowler


ONCE A SOMMER! Sommer Fowler happily smiles alongside her English students in Cambodia. (Picture Courtesy of Sommer Fowler)


By Michelle Lin

For four weeks throughout June, senior Sommer Fowler had the unique opportunity of volunteering to teach English to underprivileged students in Cambodia.

“(The trip) was an independent thing.  I didn’t go with an organization; it was just me and my mom,” explains Sommer.  “We randomly selected a school in a smaller town of Cambodia.  I went over there to ask for an opportunity to volunteer, and they so graciously gave me three different classes of 40 students.”

Self-funding the entire trip, Sommer taught eighth graders between the ages of ten and sixteen the material from the US’s version of fourth grade level books.

“I was given a lot of free range to do whatever sort of lesson I wanted,” recounts Sommer.  “Talking to (the students) a few hours on the first day, I noticed what they needed help on and picked out something that I thought I could help them on.”

The school system in Cambodia is vastly different from that of America.  With a society that holds education at a much lower standard than America’s ideals, students in Cambodia often lack respect towards learning.

“It blew me away that they could be so careless about what we’ve got as entire institutions here,” expresses Sommer.  “I think (the experience) increased my value for education.”

Throughout the school year, Sommer also participates on the PHHS Cross Country team.  Outside of school, she trains for marathons and ultramarathons, which are 26.2 miles long races typically held on trails.

“There’s a big leap between a marathon and an ultramarathon.  The time that it takes to train for one of them is incredibly crazy,” states Sommer.  “I have to set off seven hours of running on the weekend to prepare for an ultramarathon.”

Sommer is currently scheduled to run her first twelve hour race this December and her first 50 miler in April.

Insane Ink creates team for Alzheimer’s Walk

OVER HERE! PHHS team member holds a sign showing the location of the team. c

Picture Courtesy of Hallie Huynh

By Mae Castellano

Wanting to raise money and awareness for Alzheimer’s, Insane Ink has created a team for the Alzheimer’s Walk on Oct. 8 at Arena Green.  Alzheimer’s disease is a brain disorder that leads to memory loss and changes in thinking.  According to Alzheimer’s Association, one in three seniors die with Alzheimer’s or another kind of dementia.

“It’s a good thing to do for my community,” states Insane Ink’s CEO Hallie Huynh.  Every year, Insane Ink enjoys doing non-profit events, with last year’s event being Step Out For Diabetes.  Because it’s a non-profit occasion, Insane Ink will give 50% of its money back to the community, following their 50/50 concept.  Business Dept. Co-Chairman Diane Pereira is happy that they surpassed their goal of $2,000.

“It is very significant.  Even if it’s not affecting you today, it could possibly in the future,” declares Mrs. Pereira.  The Alzheimer’s Walk will mean a lot to those with experiences involving the disease.  Business Dept. Co-Chairman Mitch Method’s mother-in-law had recently passed with Alzheimer’s, and with Mr. Method’s wife’s involvement with the walk, it was good timing.  Insane Ink likes doing two non-profit events a year, one near the beginning and end of the year.

“I want (students, teachers or anyone in the community) to want to come and support the disease,” provides Hallie.  Insane Ink didn’t want to force anyone to go, but it would be great if people showed up and lended a hand in raising money and awareness for this disease, especially if they didn’t know much about it.

“Overall, it’s a sad disease,” mentions history teacher Maria De La Rosa.  Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States, and someone is diagnosed with this chronic disease every 66 seconds.  As of right now, there is no chance of preventing, slowing or curing Alzheimer’s.  This disease also kills more lives than breast and prostate cancer combined.

New clubs emerge on campus


By Angel Palomino

She’s the First

She’s the First is a club that gives scholarships to young girls in low-income countries such as China and India.  They help these girls be the first in their families to go to college, and they are part of the larger organization called She’s the First.  They also participate in fundraising events to raise money for the scholarships.


Green Fingers

This new club looks to beautify Piedmont Hills by plantings plants and flowers inside and around campus and teach about various plant-related topics.  During the meetings, the club also tells several gardening jokes and gives an overview of what to expect later on.  The club’s final goal is to have a functional school garden on the campus.


Tea Club
A club that’s all about the tea.  During meetings, Tea Club gives facts of the week about tea. Then, the members drink, and sip some tea.  You can bring a tea bag to use and sip along other tea-drinkers. In addition, there are more activities involved in the club, besides only sipping some tea.


Mock Trial

A new prestigious club that specializes in practicing debates and court cases. The club members participate in a nationwide competition in which the shall defend, prosecute, and argue a fictional story.  Also in this organization, there are witnesses, prosecutors, defense, judge, jury, clerk and everyone else who is needed in a court.  This club competes with other schools, and every member in the club plays a role in the cases.


Bring Change to Mind

A new club that wants to end stigma around mental illness.  The members work to raise awareness about mental illness, and participate in public events, and to learn about various differences of mental illnesses.


Spirit Club

Spirit Club is a club that acts in as the new cheer squad during home games for sports such as Football and Basketball at Piedmont Hills High.  It is a mix of students at Piedmont ranging from seniors to freshmen.  This club’s goal is to boost spirit and cheer at the sport games, so they don’t drag on or become quiet.

Graphics by Anthony Ta