International Faire celebrates cultural diversity

By Phuong Nguyen

The annual International Faire was held last Friday, with a school rally during the day and a night fair from 7 pm to 9 pm. While the school rally had only cultural club performances, the night fair had both performances and food vendors.

During the school rally, only a small segment of performances were showcased. In addition to the time regulations due to classes, it was a way of advertising what the events had to offer.

Another incentive International Faire had for students to attend was the variety in food. With fairely low prices and several choices, students had a wide range to eat from.

“I was most excited for the spicy rice cakes,” exclaimed ASB Cultural Commissioner Naomi Nguyen. “They were a hit last year, and I’m really glad they were back with it.”

Though Internatial Faire is an ongoing school tradition, not everyone has experienced it.
For Korean Fan Club President Lauren Young, this year was her first time attending International Faire.

“I was happy with how the performances turned out. SXC (Seoul Extreme Choreography) was really cool with their synchronized dancing, and (the) waltz was really cute,” said Lauren.

To make such an entertaining night possible, several people in ASB had to spend much of their time preparing for the big cultural event.

“My parents were the ones that really got to see how many sleepless nights I went through to make this event happen,” Naomi recalled. “Knowing that they were in the crowd made me really happy.”

In addition to ASB members, club members practiced frequently to ensure their performances were a success.

“Besides International Faire, we have another show on April 15, so we have an extra week of practices. Then, we have Tuesdays and Fridays at school to practice,” Hungama Secretary Mansi Patel revealed.

According to Naomi, the idea of this faire was to celebrate cultural and racial similarities and differences. After all, the colorful dances reflect the collaborative efforts of the students.

“I think that International Faire is an amazing opportunity for not just the Korean (Fan) Club, but for other culture clubs as well, to know the beauty of the culture whether it’s through the performances shown or the foods sold,” Lauren elaborated.

For ARK (Acts of Random Kindness) Historian An Nguyen, she has never missed an International Faire since her freshman year because it is one of her favorite events of the year.

“I love seeing the diversity that genuinely brings out our school’s true colors,” she continued. “As an immigrant myself, I feel proud to see other students embracing their heritage and their culture.”

Although ARK is not considered a cultural club, the club still believed that people of different cultures should be treated with respect and kindness nonetheless.

“As an ARK officer, I feel that cultural diversity is an especially pertinent element to understanding other people and ultimately treating everyone the way they deserve to be treated,” An elaborated.

“International Faire exemplifies the idea that no matter how different, we are all one big family and we should all appreciate each other despite different race, nationality, color of skin, culture or beliefs,” Naomi agreed.


Stars align at Junior Prom

By Michelle Lin & Alyssa Gutierrez

On April 8, the Class of 2018 hosted its Junior Prom “Celestial Nights” in the Piedmont Hills L-Building from 7pm to 10pm.

“Overall, prom was a really fun experiences,” gushed junior Eileen Vu. “No matter what the DJ played, the room was energetic, and I think as a whole, everyone enjoyed dancing and spending time together.”

Juniors John Sanders and Alliyah Latiph were crowned prom king and prom queen, respectively. Other contestants included couple Andrew Tran and Vy Truong, as well as couple William Bui and Carissa Cui.

“It was amazing, exciting, and just mixed emotions,” commented John, when asked about winning prom king. “I was proud that I could make my girl happy about her high school life.”

Since the beginning of the school year, officers have been working hard to prepare for the big night. Between thinking of a theme, setting prices for tickets and putting together decorations in the L-Building, students have been tirelessly planning for this event.

“The officers and I first decided on the elegant theme: space. Then, we brainstormed about words relevant to space, thus ‘Celestial Nights.’ It sounded elegant and it was straight-forward,” explained Class President Natalie Yeh.

As for decorations, officers had put them together themselves, making a large poster to hang on the wall for students to take pictures by.

“We’re practically making all the decorations and organizing and reserving things that have to be done,” said Publicist Emily Wong. “We’re trying to go for an elegant space theme instead of just planets. We’d like more moons and stars and backgrounds for people to take pictures with.”

Last year’s Junior Prom was hosted in the Small Gym due to certain complications. This year, however, it was held in the L-Building.

“In April, the weather is unpredictable. Last year, it was raining on the day of prom. It wasn’t ideal that the prom goers had to walk from the student parking lot all the way to the Small Gym,” explained Natalie. “The L-Building is closer, so no one would have to worry about getting their dress or tux wet.”

This year, the juniors did something different from past proms, creating a buzz of excitement.

“I (was) most excited for the Shirley Temple bar!” exclaimed Natalie. “We sold Shirley Temples for $1 dollar each. Each dollar we make from Junior Prom contributes to Senior Ball.”

A total of 137 junior prom tickets were sold. All the money made from selling these tickets also contibuted to the expenses of paying for senior ball next year.

“I loved that I was able to enjoy this experience with my friends and favorite classmates,” admitted Eileen. “I truly applaud the class officers and thank them for their hard work because they made it a night to remember.”

Music department excels at CMEA

By Arthur Hoang

The PHHS Music Department performed at the CMEA (California Music Educators Association) Festival. The choral groups went on Sat., April 1 at Saratoga High School. The instrumental groups performed last Friday at Independence High School.

Each of the groups played three pieces of varying styles and difficulty to a panel of acclaimed judges and is given scores based on the performances. Overall, the String and Symphony Orchestra received a score of ‘Excellent.’

“The judges were definitely more picky than last year; they made more comments about the ensembles balance than usual,” said Cellist Aaron Tran.

The Concert Band, Wind Ensemble, and Varsity Choir all received an overall score of ‘Excellent’ as well. The Concert Choir received an overall score of ‘Unanimous Superior’, the highest score a group can get.

When the Music Department got back from its Anaheim trip, it had very little time to practice for CMEA.

“We had four weeks from Anaheim and the Symphony Orchestra was given one new piece to get ready before CMEA,” said Orchestra teacher Emily Ray.

The Orchestra groups also had one new piece that that they had to prepare for CMEA. In addition, both instrumental and choral groups were also working on the pieces they had performed in Anaheim.

“The atmosphere for CMEA was definitely a lot worse than Anaheim but we (the concert choir) did a better job at CMEA,” explained vocalist William Chung.

The music groups were given constructive criticisms about their respective performances from judges during their time at Anaheim, and the groups and the teachers took those criticisms to heart to try to improve their music.

For the first time in three years, PHHS Instrumental group went to Independence High School instead of Evergreen Valley High School. Other years, both the instrumental and choir groups went to Evergreen for CMEA.

“Both Evergreen and Independence are running CMEA on the same days, but we chose to go to Independence because it was closer,” confessed Ms. Ray.

In addition to the change in venue, there was a date switch for the Instrumental groups. Initially, the performers were going to perform on Sat., April 8; however, that conflicted with Junior Prom for many of the students.

Drama Department works 9 to 5

By Ashliana Rodriguez

On March 29 through April 1 PHHS’s Drama Department presented the musical ¨9 to 5,¨ based on the movie released in 1980. The story revolves around three women: Judy, Violet and Doralee who work for their “sexist, lying, egotistical, bigoted boss,” Mr. Franklin Hart, at Consolidated Companies.

Fed up with Mr. Hart, these women want to do more than take his notes and get his usual coffee. These women want to show that they can be ¨One of the Boys.¨

“I wanted to showcase the talent we had this year,” explained Director Anna Woods.

The cast is made up of a lot more female leads and newcomers to theater. Between learning lines and dance moves, these newcomers get to learn what it is like to be in high school theater.

“It’s big change,” expressed freshman Amanda Gill.

There were many rehearsals and dance workshops to pull off the show, but that gave the chance for cast and crew more time to prepare.

“It’s definitely an experience of a lifetime,” said senior Cleo Lagunilla.

For some of the cast and crew this is their last show, and they spend every moment cherishing it.

With the beautiful songs and smooth choreography there is also the technical crew known as Tech Crew. Their job is to build and paint the set to help the cast make the show really come to life. During the actual show their main focus is to move the set pieces during a “blackout” in under 30 seconds.

“We are all running around backstage,” explains Tech Crew member Delaina Pedroza. “(We are) making sure that everything get’s put on in time.”

With how well the first two shows were going 9 to 5 sold out their two last shows on Fri., Mar. 31 and Sat., April 1. It gave the cast and crew the boost to do their best job to give a full house a show of a lifetime.

“I thought the musical was amazing,” raved senior Janice Saturnino. “Definitely my favorite musical I have seen so far!”

On the last show, Ms. Woods gave a senior tribute to all those who have worked hard to present the musical. She brought them all out on stage and thanked them to the audience, making a point to explain the dedication that they all put in for the past three months. It was a thoughtful way to end the musical and all the productions that were presented this year.

Sommer’s Salt: April

By Sommer Fowler (Special Columnist)

The average rally follows a single schedule.  First, officers spend half of their allotted time scrunching students into bleachers.  Students scramble to find a seat with their friends before officers yell orders to squeeze in closer like a pack of sardines.  Next, kids run aimlessly across the stage with a loud yet incoherent voiceover.  It is not until it is quiet again does the audience realize they just watched the class skits.
Then comes the most entertaining part.  Clubs perform the dances they rehearsed for months—too bad someone forgot to start the music.  After this, the alma mater starts.  No one knows the words, including the seniors who do not bother trying anymore.  Finally the class call begins.  Half of students yell at the top of their lungs.  The other half are heading for the door while officers plead them to stay in their seats.
It is no secret rallies are not the most popular event of PHHS.  It is evident the order of the class blow-your-ears-out and alma mater were switched just to stop everyone from leaving early.  It seems the only people who truly care about and look forward to rallies are those who are participating in them.  The rest of us are trapped watching their attempts to entertain us.
While some parts of rallies are worth an applause the majority of them are rushed, unprepared, and useless.  To rally is to come together for a common cause.  After witnessing almost four years of rallies, I am not completely sure what that cause is for PHHS.
Understandably dance clubs want to show off their hard efforts and undeniable talent, but this can be reserved for shows out of school hours.  Instead of hasting through three minute routines, clubs could build more content.  They get the opportunity to showcase their talents to a single audience who is totally captivated, rather than an entire school who is hardly watching.  This would also give them a chance to raise funds for their group for costumes and supplies.
None of this means rallies should be set aflame and thrown out the window; they still have a purpose.  There is importance in banding as a school to honor the hard work and achievements of sports teams and their captains, staff members who will retire, and other accomplishments and prides we share as a school.  This means we will have significantly less rallies, but they will be of much better quality.  And maybe we can leave out the singing. ♦

CSF showers teachers with appreciation

By Angel Palomino

Last Wednesday, CSF (California Scholarship Federation) held its annual Take your Teacher to Lunch event in the library.

After the 6th bell rang, CSF members and officers alike made a beeline to the library to set up the groups’ respective tables. Then, teachers excitedly trickled into the dining area to participate once again in the beloved event.

“I always love (the lunch), and I loved the idea that I could talk to CSF students where I couldn’t normally be able to.  It’s all in a relaxed setting,” recalled former business teacher Kennett Jackson.  “I’d love to always talk to them about college and their futures.”

At the lunch, small groups of teachers, CSF members and volunteers sat at several themed tables that served anything from spam musubi, ice cream sandwiches, guava juice, funnel cakes, cupcakes, cranberry pie strawberry shortcake, apple juice, lemonade, fruits and much more.

This year’s successful event is just the latest of a longstanding tradition within the club to express gratitude for the hard work and constant support that teachers show students.

“About 35 years ago, (Counselor) Brunolli started this.  I believed his purpose was to take the academic students, put them in an adult setting, and help them be able to learn etiquette,” explains English teacher and CSF advisor Nancy Kennett.  “It was small talk, to have them ‘chat somebody up’ (and) make children more well-rounded.”

Even though the event is called Take Your Teacher to Lunch, the event consists of every faculty member of the campus, including counselors and administrative staff.

“I think it’s great, and the teachers are really grateful.  Teachers should be appreciated, and this really shows it,” says Ms. Kennett.

The event allows students and teachers to interact outside of just a classroom environment.

“I enjoyed telling my stories, it was to let students know me, and I am just able to be myself, not be only teacher Loggins” describes history teacher Jeff Loggins.

Every group chose their own theme and planned their tables accordingly. With an array of colorful tablecloths and carefully crafted centerpieces, the tables were transformed into festive dining areas.

“We had good conversations, with their plans for college,” remembers Spanish teacher Claire Gonzalez. “It’s nice to spend time with them to plan for their future and where they want to go.”

This was the second year that CSF added a salad bar before the main meal.

“I just love it.  It’s really fun and the teachers love it, because they get a chance to talk to the students,” expresses English teacher and CSF advisor Peggy Lee. “It lets the students know their teachers personally.”

ARK serves special ed lunch

By Melody Li

Last Thursday, ARK (Acts of Random Kindness) hosted a luncheon for the special education students and staff during lunch in the Jackson Gym.

“The purpose of our club is to spread kindness around the school, so we should reach every nook and cranny.  We do things for students and faculty, so we wanted to do something for special-ed (students) because they’re also part of PHHS,” expresses President Lily Li.

Before the event took place, ARK members sent out invitations that included a questionnaire for the special-ed students to help ARK customize the theme, food and decorations.  This year’s theme was “Picnic in the P-ARK” with a picnic themed menu and decorations.

“Officers coordinate with the special-ed teachers a month before the event and we send out invites that included questions about their allergies, their favorite sports, activities and more,” says Publicist Nancy Li.

Besides serving food to the special education students, the members also sat down to eat with them, got to know them and took pictures together.

“We want to build bridges between students and the special-ed (department) because we usually don’t have time to befriend them since they have different schedules from others students,” comments Board Member Andy Do.

This is the second time ARK hosted their special-ed luncheon and officers hope for it to be a continuing tradition at Piedmont Hills as both ARK and the special-ed community enjoy the event.

“We first got the idea last year when we realized how all our activities had been reaching out to all communities in our school except the special-ed community. We had huge success and heard that both the students and their teachers enjoyed the activity,” explains Nancy.

Despite the strenous work, ARK members love the event, especially when they receive thank you cards from the special-ed students.

“It made my day. I remember telling everyone about how happy I was because all the special-ed students were really sweet,” remembers Lily.

Key Club convenes at DCON

By Daniel Kokoski

Last Friday, Piedmont Hills’ Key Club attended the 71st annual DCON (District Convention) at the Anaheim Convention Center over a course of three days.

Tears of joy and sadness trickled down members’ faces as they bid farewell to the preceding term and celebrate the beginning of the new 2017-2018 term.

“DCON is essentially like a farewell party and a welcome party at the same time,” summarizes President Nicky Nguyen.

As the new term is welcomed, the preceding cabinet of officers retires and the new cabinet is installed.  The Governor’s Ball is a significant component of this process, as the next CNH (California-Nevada-Hawaii) District Governor is elected.  When the nominee is chosen, the newly-elected District Governor gives a speech, and members begin to become acquainted with the governor.

Along with the Governor’s Ball, Key Club members are recognized for their efforts and contributions to the club with awards such as Distinguished President and Members of the Year.  Remarkably, DCON has recognized Piedmont Hills’ Key Club as a Distinguished Club for the fifth year in a row and commemorated Secretary Jason Vu as a Distinguished Secretary for his indomitable commitment to service.

The convention also holds workshops that develop leadership skills, such as a College 101 workshop and a workshop on teamwork.  Members also participate in bonding activities and icebreakers with others from all over the CNH district, making new friends and memories.

Overall, these activities allow members to acquire helpful social and problem-solving skills that can become very useful in the future.

“DCON is a really good opportunity to get to know a lot of different people from all over California, Nevada and Hawaii,” says Activities Coordinator Megan Luong.  “I am very excited to go since this is my first time.”

This gathering has always remained a traditional event for Key Club every year. Members acquire useful techniques and meaningful memories from the experience, and many cite DCON as a highlight in their Key Club careers. The convention for many members is an emotional roller-coaster of joyous, yet sometimes melancholic, moments.

“My experience from last year taught me about what it means to be a good leader and how to reach out to members,” Jason fondly reminisces. “It was a really emotional and memorable experience for me because I got to celebrate the end of the term with some of my best friends, and that is why I am going again this year.”

DCON is one of many events that keeps Key Club members across the district closely knit together. It contributes to the familial atmosphere, strengthening their bonds and upholding values of passion and service.

“Being able to see members slowly growing to love community service and Key Club is really something that is super rewarding, especially when they have fun at events that we participate in,” remarks Megan.

Jazzin’ at Santa Cruz Festival

By Anthony Ta

Piedmont Hill’s Vocal Jazz Choir competed against some of California’s best choirs at the Santa Cruz Jazz Festival on March 17. The group left for Santa Cruz after first period with parent chaperones and came back to school near the end of sixth period.

In order to prepare for the festival, Vocal Jazz upped their ante and increased practices from once a week on Friday’s to a whole week.

The event lasted for the whole weekend and all groups performed throughout the festival. Having arrived at 9 am, Vocal Jazz began with an hour of lunch and had a chance to watch other jazz bands prepare for their set. They would then perform in front of the adjudicators for a rating. They performed solos for “Moondance” and ended the set with “Virtual Insanity.” After the performance, the group was met with a famous figure in the jazz world and was shown how to analyze and connect with the world of jazz in a much deeper sense than simply practicing and performing. The famous figure would essentially provide them a quickly mentorship program.

The group ended their day with a score of one 1 and two 2’s. These scores went into the national ranking for each individual in Vocal Jazz.

“I do hope that we learn from our mistakes from this year and improve and strive for a better score next year and also for the Reno Jazz Festival in April,” says Senior Mirelle Cabang.

Performances are nothing new to the Vocal Jazz Choir. Despite the fact that the group underperformed compared to previous years, they still remained confident in each other and continued to perform for not just the students at Piedmont Hills, but also for those across the West Coast.

Former PHHS Student sets record

By Emilie Chau

PHHS Class of ‘10 alumnus and current pharmacy student Joanna Reyes not only finished in fourth place for females in the Los Angeles Marathon on March 19 but also was the first American woman to finish with a time of 2:37:56. The Los Angeles Marathon starts at Dodger Stadium and ends at the Santa Monica Pier, totalling a 26.2 mile course. More than 24,000 athletes representing over 60 different countries participated in the marathon.

Although it was only her third marathon race, Reyes additionally managed to improve from her personal record by 13 minutes and was awarded $4500 for her outstanding performance.

“Running the Los Angeles Marathon has definitely unlocked my true potential and has shown me that I am capable of more than what I ever thought possible!” comments Reyes.

In order to prepare for this event, Reyes ran 80 miles a week during her winter quarter at her school, Loma Linda University of Pharmacy. Her dedication and perseverance shined when she continued to train with persistent knee pain and after dealing with a food poisoning incident in late January.

Her time of 2:37:56 would qualify Reyes for the 2020 Olympic Marathon Trials but since the qualifying window opens September of this year, Reyes has to run another marathon under 2:45 after September in order to qualify.

“I never imagined to run a marathon at 6:02 per mile pace,” admits Reyes. “In fact I remember 10 years ago as a sophomore at PHHS when I thought running one mile at 6:02 was difficult!”

As previously mentioned, Reyes is also a pharmacy student.  Running 8 to 10 miles every morning makes it difficult for her to stay awake and attentive in class but she always motivates herself with her goal to do well at the Olympic Marathon Trials.

For those who aspire to be a world-class athlete like Reyes, she has a few words of advice.

“Always, always believe in yourself and with hard work and persistence, keep reaching for your goals!” encourages Reyes.

Reyes plans on participating in the Los Angeles Marathon next year as well.