Girls’ Golf drives through undefeated season, places 7th at CCS

By Harleen Kaur

PHHS Girls’ Golf Team ended their undefeated season after competing at CCS. The team won BVALs and continued to compete after they qualified to compete at CCS (Central Coast Section).

After ending their undefeated season of 10-0, the team was able to qualify for BVALS (Blossom Valley Athletic League). BVALs took place in Santa Teresa on Oct. 29.

“BVALs is a competition where the top three teams and individuals of the league compete to go to CCS,” said Girls’ Golf Team Captain Rachel Truong.

The team played against schools such as Leland, Live Oak and Silver Creek. 

The team also won many matches and took first place in BVALs.

After BVALs, the team qualified to play in the CCS league because of their undefeated record. The girls traveled to Monterey to compete in CCS to play against other schools in the CCS competition.

 Some scores from CCS: Shannon Abitago, 78; Vani Karamanal, 74; Rachel Truong, 79. In golf, the lower score is the higher you place.

The team placed seventh overall with a score of 444. They lost to teams such as Palo Alto, Valley Christian and Harker. The team was not able to qualify as NorCal Regional Qualifiers and ended their season after the CCS matches. 

“I thought I did good, and I am proud of our team for being the first (golf) team from Piedmont Hills to qualify and make it this far,” expressed sophomore Simriti Mahajan.

This year, the school had an actual Girls’ Golf Team. For the past years, there was not a team for the girls since there were not enough girls interested in joining or playing on a Girls’ Golf Team. Since there was no team for the girls last year, the few girls who were interested in golf played and practiced with the PHHS Boys’ Golf Team during the boys’ season. 

 Last year, the girls wanted to compete in BVALs, so they played as individuals representing PHHS at BVALs.

“We are no longer practicing or playing with the Boys’ Golf Team because this year we have an actual team for the girls,” said Truong.

The team practiced for matches by hitting and running short games at San Jose Muni Golf and Spring Valley. Practicing for short game consists of chipping and putting. The girls also practiced using different clubs such as drivers and irons to help develop skills to use during games.

“We are motivated to win and make it further into CSS next year,” stated Truong. 


New Concessions Stands Hit the Football Field

By Ryan Norton

PHHS was granted a new and improved concession stand for the upcoming season. During the first semester, the new concession stand has been under construction. The concession stand was located next to the sports storage area during construction and was relocated on Nov. 4 to its current location at the entrance.

“The district office sent out construction crews during the summer for blueprints, which is the same blueprint as Santa Teresa’s building so they have familiarity of what the design is going to be,” shared Principal Ginny Davis.

The main purpose of the reconstruction is to implement public restrooms into the building, rather than having portable restrooms during sport games. It also served to expand and better the conditions of the previous stand.

“The district has taken its time to assure that mistakes such as not putting in electrical breakers would be avoided in this new construction,” said Mrs. Davis.

However, the construction created two major setbacks. One of these included the concession sales decreasing by almost 25% this year compared to the last few years. It was mainly because of the location and visibility of the concession stand. Another setback was that this year’s temporary concession location was in very close proximity to the portable bathrooms, which may have discouraged people from being in that area.

Nonetheless, the new concession stand proves to be different and better than previous years.

“The new concession building will be up to proper food and health codes. It will have running water, an ice maker and proper electricity capacity. These were lacking in the old concession stand. We hope the new concession building, in its original location, will increase sales beyond previous years,” says Parent Boosters President Anh Lee.

Once construction is complete, the new concession building will be used for other sports. Parent Boosters will be using this stand to sell concessions and Pirate merchandise during sport seasons other than football.


California Loses Land to Fires

By Jose Flores-Jimenez

Kincade, Getty, Ranch and Maria were the names of the out of control wildfires in California that have led to the evacuation of over 200,000 people in a state of emergency. In light of PG&E’s (Pacific Gas and Electric Company) poor infrastructure, residents of California suspect that the 198,815 acres burned by the fires were an accident waiting to happen.

The Getty and Kincade fires were among the largest in the scene, together having burned a total of 78,503 acres of land in Los Angeles and Sonoma County respectively. Both lasted for weeks and were fueled by the powerful winds that hit California at the end of October.

Meanwhile in Ventura County, 9,999 acres were burned in a wildfire incident that was quickly brought under control by firefighters. Tehama County saw a loss of 2,534 acres in the span of 11 days with the Ranch Fire incident.

The cause of these fires have led back to a single cause—electricity.

The three biggest electric corporations in California are PG&E, SDG&E (San Diego Gas and Electric Co.) and Southern California Edison. It has been a long known fact that the power lines of companies such as these can lead to fires when strong winds cause trees to fall into them.

For all three companies, including PG&E in the Bay Area, this has meant a precautionary cut of power in order to prevent more wildfires.

According to PG&E, power cuts were expected in 29 counties in California. About 940,000 homes and businesses had their power shut off across Northern California, equating to about 2.5 million people.

However, this doesn’t change the fact the ASCE (American Society of Civil Engineers) gave PG&E an infrastructure score of D+. Therefore, California depends on electricity that fails to meet the standards of environmental precaution, and is at strong risk of failure, according to the ASCE.

In spite of all of this destruction, the biggest blow comes in the fact that this has been California’s more improved years in terms of Wildfire Destruction.

According to the Insurance Information Institute, 2018 saw a loss of 8.8 million acres to California Wildfires, while 2017 saw a loss of 10 million acres.

Wildfires are becoming a part of California’s regular environmental hazards, and while residents and power companies alike are getting closer to finding precautionary solutions, there is no way to entirely stop them.

For people living in or near the areas of these fires, evacuation has been the best move.

“No one should be dying if we can help it,” said English teacher Rosemary Kuhn, who housed some of her own family who have had to flee from the raging wildfires.

Notable Alumni

By Rose Lu

Jerry Yang Class of 1986

Jerry Yang was a very prominent figure even back in 1986. He was the ASB President, a CSF Officer, and a part of the Academic Decathlon.

After graduating, he went onto Stanford University where he co-founded Yahoo! and became CEO for several years. He moved to Los Altos Hills and he donated $50 million to his Alma Mater and $25 million to the Asian Art Museum.

Rex Walters Class of 1988

Rex Walters played basketball for the Pirates all four years of his high school career. After graduating, he played in the NBA for several seasons from 1993 to 2003. He was a Shooting Guard for the New Jersey Nets and is now the Head Coach of the Detroit Pistons.

Melissa Nichols Dyrdahl Class of 1975

Melissa Nichols Dyrdahl grew up to be the CEO of Ella Health, which provides 3D Mammograms. She is a recipient of the YWCA (Young Woman’s Christian Association) Tribute to Women in Industry award, and she was named one of the 2010 Women of Influence in the Silicon Valley.

Stephen Anderson Class of 2011

Stephen Anderson played JV and Varsity football for the Pirates. After graduating, he played for the Calstate Bears. Now he plays as a Tight End for the Los Angeles Chargers.

Conroe Brooks

Conroe Brooks was a drama student during all four years at Piedmont Hills High School. After graduating, he went on to play the role of Correction Officer Parce on Sons of Anarchy. Today, he plays George Washington, King George and Madison in the touring cast of the play Hamilton.

Tyler McGee

Tyler McGee was a drama student at Piedmont Hills High School. He has went on to perform in two broadway shows, and has written and published the film: A True Story on Netflix. He has also toured with Idina Menzel, Tony-winning actress who sang most of the Frozen Soundtrack.

Joseph Zinsman

Joseph Zinsman was a drama student at Piedmont Hills High School. After graduation, he went on to star in Pretty Little Liars as Robert Vargas, and has done ads with AT&T and Target.

VSA places first and third for MAYS

By Winnie Tran and John Nguyen

This year, Piedmont continues their four year winning streak, placing first for Olympia, which is a series of mini games similar to FANTASTICS. Piedmont Hills came in first, followed by Milpitas in second and Mt. Pleasant in third.

The VSA Mays (Mid-Autumn Youth Summit) festival occurred on Sat., Nov. 9 from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Mount Pleasant High School. Entries were free and welcomed all parents and fellow students.

VSA Mays is coordinated by an organization called VietAYA (Vietnamese American Youth Association).

“Creating a dance is actually so much more stressful than it really seems but I’m really glad to have Christine Do as my partner. Honestly, everything we make comes through as pure creativity, there’s really nothing that inspires to incorporate a specific move,” states Cultural Chair Christina Wong.

The members have been working hard lately and have four routines planned: two fan dances, an umbrella dance and a ribbon dance. The festival is a competition style showcase where other VSA, VSU (Vietnamese Student Union) and CVC (Chinese Vietnamese Club) clubs from different schools perform to compete in many activities including singing, debates, skits, dances, games and speeches for first, second and third place.

“I think it’s important that if you are given the chance to represent who you are, you take pride in it. I decided to take part in MAYS because I can contribute to these amazing performances. I believe that we are all talented and MAYS gave us an opportunity to show it off,” says junior Kristine Nguyen.

The other schools that are competing with Piedmont are Silver Creek, Mount Pleasant, Milpitas, Andrew Hills, Santa Teresa, Overfelt, and Oak Grove. Last year, Santa Teresa High School, Silver Creek High School, and Milpitas High School scored the highest for dances. This year, Santa Teresa placed first for skit and second for dance and singing, and third in debate. Silver Creek placed first for debate, speeches, second for the scholarship award, and third for skit. Milpitas placed first for dance, second in Olympia, and third for the scholarship award and singing.

“It’s both bonding with your club and the anticipation of finding out the results after all the hard work you put in,” states Secretary Quynh Le.

During the event, Piedmont’s dance performance got moved from 4:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m., giving them less time to prepare and practice, despite this setback, Piedmont Hills still placed third for dance group.

In Defense of the Arts

By Andy Doan

Last January, I sat alongside fellow students, parents and staff at a meeting with Superintendent Chris D. Funk and Senior Bond Program Manager Julio Lucas. Although cramped and irritated in G-3, we remained seated because we all held a common ideology: the Performing Arts Dept. at PHHS deserves better. In the end, we did not get approved for a new building, or any notable renovations—at least until 2021. But we will continue to fight because it is paramount that the arts receive more funding, since the arts are, indeed, valuable.

It doesn’t seem that way to many, however.

Now more than ever, students feel obligated to go into a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics)-related field, such as Computer Science, Medicine or Engineering, because that is where all the safe money is nowadays, supposedly, as if upon immediately receiving your brand spankin’ new diploma, you’re also granted an immediate six-figure salary as well—I know have been told to go into STEM for those reasons.

This ideology stems from the preconceived notion that STEM is more practical, more useful, whereas the arts are a luxury, frivolous in nature and fanciful in pursuit of. I do admit STEM is great, and is a necessity in society; however, the promotion of STEM should not be at the expense of the arts. The fact of the matter is, the arts are just as necessary. Here’s why.

  1. The arts help students succeed.

According to AFTA (American For The Arts), students involved in the arts are four times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement, three times more likely to be elected to class office and three times more likely to win an award for school attendance.

By all means, success is not simply measured by someone’s academic achievement, but the arts also provide unique opportunities and intangible lessons.

  1. The arts create a family for those studying it.

Art is inherently collaborative; artists often spend hundreds of hours grueling over the same material: the same music, the same script, the same dance moves. In that space, we cry, triumph and bond with one another; they become a surrogate family. For some, this is a calm respite from a chaotic home life; a sanctuary where they can, for once, freely express themselves—free of judgement, free of doubt, free of fear.

  1. The arts teach us how to be human.

As much as Art is a tool for human expression, it is also a vehicle for empathy that challenges our perceptions of society by exposing stories of those different from us, broadening our horizons, so we can connect with them, empathize with them, feel for them—I have connected with a young Black man grappling with his sexuality and identity in Moonlight; I have empathized with a gay man suffering AIDS in “Angels in America”; I have felt for a band of misfits trying to survive in Shoplifters. The arts taught me how to be human, and in a world that often seems deprived of its humanity, with actions fueled by hate and people divided by race, gender, sexuality and religion, it seems that we need the arts more than ever.