Valentine’s Dark Origins

By William Chen

Valentine’s Day is a time where people give gifts and cards to show their affection to someone they care about. This annual event originated back in Ancient Rome around the year of 270 A.D.

Valentine’s Day back then did not start off very brightly, such as people showing their love to their special someone or giving gifts such as flowers, decorated cards or sweet treats. Instead, this holiday has evolved throughout centuries full of martyrdom, religious politics, beheadings and consumerism to become the holiday which is presently known to celebrate love and affection.

Back then, a holiday for the ritual known as the Lupercalia held on Feb. 13 was celebrated. The Roman priests would offer animals up for tribute and use the hides from the animals they had slain to whip women with them.

According to University of Colorado at Boulder historian Noel Lenski, he said, “The Roman romantics were drunk. They were naked. Young women would actually line up for the men to hit them. They believed this would make them fertile.”

This old event also held a matchmaking lottery that matched men by drawing out their names of women. The matched couples were paired up for the duration of the festival.

Despite this merciless tradition, Emperor Claudius II was having trouble recruiting more soldiers to expand his army. The emperor realized that men refused to join the army so they could stay at home and take care of their wife and children. He thought that love and marriage made people weak, so he announced to all of Ancient Rome that love and marriage was forbidden.

Meanwhile, a Roman priest and physician known as Saint Valentine went against the emperor’s law by secretly wedding couples. Eventually, he was caught and arrested. The emperor then passed his verdict upon St. Valentine to be executed. Before his execution, St. Valentine wrote a letter to the prison guard’s daughter after her father asked St. Valentine to cure her daughter from blindness. The letter said, “From your Valentine.” On Feb. 14, St. Valentine was beheaded.

Afterwards, William Shakesphere and Geoffrey Chaucer helped romanticize this event known as Valentine’s Day on Feb. 14 named after St. Valentine and the same day he was executed.


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.

Lesser Known Countries

By Drew Olaviano


It’s almost summer, and as always, people are bustling about and searching for an exciting and fascinating country to tour. However, these countries that people tend to visit are those which are most common: Mexico, the United States, Canada, and France. These countries are beautiful to the naked eye and filled with plenty of attractive tourist spots, however, there are plenty of other, lesser known countries which are just as exciting and fascinating themselves. Let’s take a look at some of these lesser known countries.


Brunei, Asia.

According to, Brunei is among one of the least visited countries in the world. However, there are few reasons to not visit Brunei. Firstly, Brunei is considered to be one of the cleanest countries in Asia and it is considered safer than Yemen. A cause of this may be related to Brunei’s ban on alcohol, which is easily in exchange for the country’s bountiful array of Singaporean, Indonesian and Malaysian cuisine. Another reason why people should visit Brunei would be for its Ulu Temburong National Park which covers about ten percent of the country’s surface area. According to, tourists will have to tour by a water taxi which is surprisingly cheap in US dollars at $0.66.


Vanuatu, Island in South Pacific Ocean.

Vanuatu is an island which attracts tourists who desire to dive, snorkel and travel to a calmer setting. There are plenty of attractions unseen in commonly visited countries such as Champagne Beach which is known as most popular to Vanuatu tourists for its white-sand and clean surroundings. Another popular spot in Vanuatu would be the national museum Port Vila, also known as a diving base as well. Tanna is another popular spot for tourists, being a land of traditional villages and a port resolution that leads to Mount Yasur, an active volcano.


Liechtenstein, Europe.

While being a country in Europe, Liechtenstein is one of the lesser known countries in Europe, especially in contrast to their neighbor Switzerland. In fact, Switzerland and Liechtenstein borders each other and hold a close alliance. Liechtenstein is similar to Switzerland in plenty of ways, especially concerning the blend of medieval, gothic and modern architecture. According to, a well-known tourist spot would be the Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein, or the Liechtenstein State Art Gallery. This museum highlights the blend of architecture and art styles throughout the country, especially because the building of the museum itself is modern in contrast to the medieval and gothic surroundings.


Of course, there are more countries out there that are lesser known and worth visiting. These are some of the few countries tourists should visit, and hopefully you will as well in the summer!

Local Summer Shenanigans

By Devonna Dang


If you’re looking for a summer adventure but don’t have much money, you’re in luck! Here in the Bay Area, there is so much to explore.

First, let’s discuss how to get from location to location. Our very first option is public transportation if you currently do not have your own car. Luckily, again, the Bay Area has an amazing public transportation system. If you’re looking to go anywhere from Fremont, Downtown San Jose, Palo Alto or San Francisco, you’re covered. Some local transportation systems are the VTA buses, the VTA light rail, BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) and Caltrain.

Public transportation is very affordable. For the youth, a VTA bus fare is a discounted $1.25 and Caltrain and BART also offer a discounted fare.

Currently, the closest working BART is in South Fremont. However, a Milpitas BART is having an opening in November 2019.

A place that is calling for adventure and is only a $10.50 Caltrain fare ride away is San Francisco. Golden Gate Park is a great place to visit in San Francisco.

Golden Gate Park is a large urban park consisting of 1,017 acres of public grounds. Some establishments that should be visited is the Japanese Tea Garden, the DeYoung museum, Conservatory of Flowers and Cal Academy of Sciences. There is much to explore and to appreciate when you are there.

The Bay Area is also a great place to go hiking. Some hiking places include Mission Peak (10.4 miles from school), Sunol Regional Wilderness (24.1 miles from school) and Alamere Falls (88.7 miles from school). Mission Peak is a six mile hike that has a poll at the top to signify your hike’s success. Sunol Regional Wilderness is a great place to hike if you are on the pursuit of finding a waterfall. Despite the distance, Alamere Falls’ scenery and experience you get is quite worth it.

Another great way to spend summer is exploring museums. Some museums to visit include the Bay Area Discovery Museum, Exploratorium, San Francisco Museum of Art, Asian Art Museum, The Walt Disney Family Museum, Cable Car Museum and the UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive.

There’s no better time to do something you never do than in the summer. Go zip lining in the redwoods, complete a 5k or do some rock climbing. All in all, the Bay Area has adventure everywhere. If you’re free in the summer, get on a transit and explore what is out there for you.

Political Solutions Climate Change

By Lawrence Pei


In this modern political climate, much of the future is placed in the hands of our elected officials. Among the recent hot issues in politics right now includes climate change and what steps, if any, we need to take to in order to save our planet and ensure our survival.

Many believe that political action is needed so that citizens can take drastic measures to conserve the environment. Among these are supporters of the Green New Deal proposed by New York’s 14th district representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

The Green New Deal seeks to eliminate carbon by-products by way of investments in clean energy and infrastructure due to new statistics from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change which states that humans have around ten years in order to save our planet. With such new statistics, political action will lead to a shift on our future both in good and in bad. As we begin to adapt to the destruction of our world, actions taken now would force a change in lifestyle, one in which we give up our goals and ambition of modernization.

On the flip side of the coin, many such as our current president Donald Trump, believe that climate change is not real and that we do not need to take as much of an action.

This difference in opinion has led to climate change becoming an increasingly partisan issue.

As of the time, of the article being written, the Green New Deal has been shut down by a vote of 57-0 with all Senate Republicans and four Democrats voting down the issue on Sun. 3/26

As a result, many Democrats such as Ocasio-Cortez have set sights on creating smaller bills that cover what was proposed in The Green New Deal with the hopes of having the created more green jobs and to have the U.S. having 100 percent renewable energy by 2030.


Deforestation and the Amazon

By Harleen Kaur


Forests covers about 31 percent of our land on Earth, but with humans destroying animal habitats, that number will only decrease. Before human impact, the Earth had 6 billion hectares of forest, but as of now only 1.8 billion hectares remain according to rainforestinfo.

Many might wonder why deforestation is happening so rapidly, however the main cause of deforestation is humans. As stated by livescience, forests are being torn down to make space for housing, urban development and land for cattle ranching.

Also, the human need for natural resources contributes to the rapid deforestation that is taking place today. Trees are also being cut down to make timber, wood, paper and oil from palm trees.

The Amazon region is the world’s largest rainforest and home to 10 percent of the known species on Earth, as stated by wwf.panda. The rainforest has already seen 20 percent of its habitat near roads or upcoming developments depleted.

If this deforestation continues at this rapid rate, then between 2010 and 2030, 48 million additional hectares could be destroyed.

Natural resources might run out but before we deal with that problem. The world will have to deal with the displacement of many animals or even extinction of certain species. According to aquaexpeditions, the Pygmy Sloth and the Red-Faced Uakari are already endangered species, and many more animals such as South American Tapir and the Giant Otter will join the list soon.

In order to save the planet and these animals, humans have to start making small changes to their lives to decrease the rate of deforestation. One thing that we can do to decrease rapid deforestation is by making more sustainable choices, like using less paper products by switching them out for reusable products.

Also, another way is to speak out to government officials and voice concern about deforestation. When enough people speak out, the government will have to listen. Speaking out to government officials lets our representatives know that we have a problem and we want to fix it. One federal agency that you can contact is the regional EPA (United States Environmental Protection Agency) workers who specialize in environmental issues in the area you live in.

Lastly, cutting down on red meat consumption will be able to help decrease the rapid rate of deforestation since land for cattle ranching also contributes to deforestation.

If deforestation continues at this rate, humans will not only have to deal with climate change but also figure out how to get more resources once the forests are depleted.

A drive to reduce Carbon Footprint

By Rose Lu

Sustainability is the avoidance of depletion of natural resources inorder to maintain an ecological balance by following an eco-friendly path.

“Though sustainability does involve ‘going-green’ or recycling there is so much more to why humans have developed the idea of sustainability,” shares Sustainability club member Arianna Beliso.

Often, many people have the misconception that sustainability is only related to the welfare of the environment, however, it can also include health and the mental states of the people in our community.

“I would say that anything that is able to maintain the resources that it uses is sustainable,” comments Sustainability club member Emily Chien, “And, to me, sustainability can mean that you live your life in a way where you’re not permanently hurting the environment.”

In fact, there are many potential habits that people can adopt in order to become more sustainable.

“This doesn’t mean that everybody has to change their entire lifestyle immediately, we can all start by just putting our trash in the right bin,” shares Emily.

One major way to be more sustainable is to reevaluate energy usage and to switch over to a more conservative energy plan, such as using solar and nuclear energy as an alternative to fossil fuels and coal. Another way is to reduce the amount of plastic used every day or to reduce the amount of energy we use every day.

“For me, I have started out by removing plastic straws and bags out of my life and learning how to compost,” shares Sustainability club member Alex Kwan.

While adopting a sustainable lifestyle may be beneficial to the environment, it can also be a positive change for our society too. By caring for the environment and tackling the common issues of pollution, climate change, and other environmental issues, humans can develop better health, both mentally and physically, according to

“Sustainability is a good cause for helping out the environment, which is what people should care about if they want to have a good future for both the environment and themselves,” said Alex.

Plastic Water Bottles

By Mansi Patel

Downfall of the Future: Plastic Water Bottles (if you have a better title please us that)

On a regular summer day, people go out to swim expecting a bright sunny day and nice clean beaches. However, due to our recent misuse of plastic, especially plastic water bottles, beaches are ruined and the waterways polluted. Plastic water bottles can be found everywhere, from schools to the beautiful California coast. They are not just harmful to the environment, but are very expensive and add to the buildup of trash.

Plastic water bottles have affected the environment and community. It keeps adding up, but the problem still stays invisible to those who don’t want to know the truth of these harmful products. These plastic water bottles harm our environment and the animals that live around us, which we then eat and make us sick. Visualize bottles lined up end to end in a straight line. It would wrap around the earth 190 times. Plastic water bottles placed in the landfill today will take up to 1000 years to biodegrade, according to iSustainableEarth.

“Imagine if every (plastic water bottle) you ever opened you had to keep in your bedroom forever. At some point there has to be this tipping point where we say this is unmanageable. The waste is unmanageable,” says English teacher Nancy Kennett.

With this harmful effect on the environment, it is almost impossible to get rid of the plastic. Everywhere, one can find remnants of plastic water bottles. Even in the most isolated places, plastic water bottles can make their way there because plastic is almost indestructible, which is why plastic is so popular. The patch, a gyre of trash between California and Hawaii, comprises an estimated 1.8 trillion pieces of scattered detritus, including at least 87,000 tons of plastic, according to The New York Times.

Americans use on average 50 billion water bottles each year and climbing, though only recycle 23 percent of the plastic bottles when finished.  This means that nearly 38 billion of those water bottles were trashed, leading to increased pollution and landfill waste Economic impact by producing more than $1 billion in wasted plastic each year, equivalent to 912 million gallons of oil, according to iSustainableEarth.

“Plastic water bottles negatively affect our world as it does not decompose quickly so trash can build up quickly as the majority of people do not recycle. Plastic also consists of toxic material causing it to harm living things. And because we are a part of our own environment, using these plastic water bottles directly affects us and our community as a whole,” says sophomore Esha Jain.

Not only are plastic water bottles harmful to our environment, but they are very pricey. At first, one may think that it is very cheap to buy a bulk plastic water bottle case from Costco, but that price really adds up. For example, you could spend 2,900 times as much, roughly $1,400 yearly, by drinking bottled water. If you use a New York City tap, those eight glasses of water you are supposed to drink would only cost you about $0.00135, or 49 cents a year, according to The New York Times.

“I try not to use water bottles because I’m trying to live. If humans continue to make and use plastic at this rate, we will inevitably face the consequences since plastic takes hundreds of years to break down. I reduce my plastic water bottle use by bringing a refillable water bottle to school and other events. There’s always a bunch of water fountains we have access to. Also, it’s just a lot cheaper to not buy cases of plastic water bottles all the time,” says senior Stacey Thai.

Instead of using plastic water bottles and adding to all the problems the plastic has brought, we should use reusable water bottles which is healthier and better for our community so we don’t have to suffer in the long term.



Do Flat Earthers fear sphere itself?

By Terry Tang

In ancient Greece, India, China and many other early civilizations believed that Earth was flat due to the wide belief that the world seemed endless, but flat. Reputable poets like Homer accepted this theory. They all believed at the end there was a cliff that would just lead to an endless eternity.

It wasn’t until the 6th century when the belief that the Earth was flat was gradually debunked, but somehow the theory the Earth was flat came back in 1970s and 80s due the an influx of Flat Earth Society groups.

Flat Earth Society President Samuel Shenton was a flat Earth believer and had a group of followers which eventually was called the Flat Earth Society in the 1950s.

The Flat Earth Society is a group which are dedicated to believing that the earth is flat and there are several groups that date back to the 20th century. Their beliefs are often fueled by the bible, the idea of space travel is a conspiracy theory, and that we actually never reached the moon at all.

Charles Kenneth Johnson took over as president of the Flat Earth Society when Samuel died and managed to bring the Flat Earth Society up to 3,000 members. His wife Majory was also a Flat Earth believer.

“Johnson’s wife Marjory believed that the Earth must be flat, because otherwise she would have spent her childhood in her native Australia hanging upside-down by her toes,” according to

Piedmont Hills students have different beliefs compared to the Flat Earth Society.

“(Space Travel) seems plausible. I think anything is possible in the future, even time traveling. I just do not believe the same as they do. Until proven wrong by science, I will stay in the old theory that the Earth is round,” said senior Thienkim Luu.

What do you think? Is the Earth flat or round?


Nature and Chill

By Sophia Xiao


Here in San Jose, it’s easy to get lost in the humdrum of urban life and forget to go out once in a while to explore the wondrous, restorative power of nature. While not everyone has the time to go camping or hiking all the time, it’s easy to squeeze in a documentary while you’re cooking, knitting, drawing, cleaning or just relaxing.

Nature documentaries help remind us of how much bigger the world is than just humans and civilization, and how important it is that we preserve it. In fact, a new study from BBC Earth and the UC Berkeley called The Real Happiness Project shows that watching nature documentaries can actually make you happier, similar to how being in nature can rejuvenate you.

So, after a long day, put on one of the following BBC nature documentaries narrated by David Attenborough’s epic, soothing voice on Netflix to relax and unwind as you explore the vast and wonderful Earth without ever leaving the city:

  1. Planet Earth I & II

A breathtaking series that takes you around the world, through different habitats each episode. While the original is a must-see, the 2016 sequel makes use of newer technology to get even more majestic, beautiful cinematography.

  1. Blue Planet I & II

Blue Planet is an exploration into the mysterious world of the Earth’s marine environment. Prepare to be amazed by the strange creatures and awed by the unparalleled beauty of the underwater.

  1. Life

This collaboration between BBC and Discovery Channel reveals the bizarre behaviors living organisms have devised to keep their species alive, from a pod of dolphins that uses their tails to drive fish out of the water to a fried egg jellyfish that spears its prey with its harpoon-like tentacles.

  1. Frozen Planet

Witness the unprecedented footage created by the exhaustive efforts of filmmakers who spent more than 2,300 days in the field and 18 months at sea recording ecosystems and animals of the Arctic and Antarctic.

  1. Africa

The Discovery Channel and BBC once again reunite to chronicle the vast and diverse continent of Africa, full of animals and habitats most people have never even heard of.

  1. Nature’s Great Events

Each episode of this documentary covers a different, awe-inspiring wildlife spectacle and the challenges and opportunities they present to animals.

These are just some of the many programs on Netflix to get you started. Hopefully, they motivate you to explore and protect our Planet Earth.