BSU Steps up to perform for Black History Month

By: Rose Lu

The beginning of February marks the beginning of Black History Month, a month dedicated to recognizing the role of African Americans and their contributions to America. BSU (Black Student Union) commemorated Black History Month by performing last Friday at the L-Building during third and fourth period during their 3rd Annual Black History Month. The show featured guests such as writer Prentice Powell and the San Jose State Dance Team. Students were encouraged to come if teachers allowed them to.

Black History officially began in 1976, where every February was acknowledged by the US Presidents to be designated as so. However, the idea emerged in 1926, and was created by Historian Carter G. Woodson and the ASNL (Association for the Study of Negro Life and History). The second week of February was coined as ‘Negro History Week.’

“Black History Month is to honor the contributions of African Americans to American Societies. It is also to honor the inventions and talents they contributed,” shares BSU Advisor Cerissa Phillips.

In honor of Black History Month, BSU has decided to perform an African American dance, Stepping. The dance combines movement and sounds to turn their bodies into instruments. Stepping is used to represent unity and pride for one’s group.

“Stepping is a part of our culture and it shows what our ancestors used to do,” shares freshman Tionee Funk.

Stepping has had a long history. It was influenced by another form of dancing called the Gumboot dance, which was often performed using Wellington boots and used to communicate between another person a short distance away.

This year, BSU is continuing its legacy to show their pride and history during Black History Month. They have practiced every day at lunch from Jan. 27 to Feb. 6.

“I felt nervous because I never performed for people like that, but I felt really good during our practices so far,” says freshman Landon Brown.

They wore all black outfits with white shoes to show their unity as a group.

“We wore a black hoodie, black jeans and white shoes so that we can match and be one,” continues Tionee.

Alongside their performance, BSU will be highlighting the contributions of African Americans by sharing facts about their achievements during the announcements for February. By doing so, they bring awareness and highlight their impact on society.

 

NHS Induction Ceremony

By Diana Kokoski

NHS (National Honor Society) held its induction ceremony last Sunday to recognize their members for their scholarship, service, leadership and character.

The ceremony commenced with food and entertainment by VSA (Vietnamese Student Association), SXC  (Seoul Extreme Choreography), Indian Club and solo performances by NHS members. The hosts of the ceremony were seniors Guneet Sachdeva, Melina Tran, Manav Dixit and Maggie Nguyen. The theme for this year’s induction ceremony was Beauty and the Beast.

“We chose the theme based on how good our decorative abilities could be and how intriguing and formal it seems,” remarked NHS Secretary Jonathan Phan.

First, NHS advisor Jason Dries gave a speech about the inductees. After, NHS advisor Terrie Higgins presented the members the cords that they will wear during graduation. The last part of the event included the inductees taking a candle and lighting it to represent their commitment to the NHS.

“It was a really special moment for me (when I lit up the candle) because I was so proud of everyone and how we organized this event in such a short amount of time,” stated NHS President Megan Dang.

State Assemblyman Kasen Chu was invited by Mr. Dries and NHS member Brandon Huynh, who interns for Mr. Chu, to attend the ceremony. Mr. Dries was the one who suggested that Mr. Chu should be a part of the ceremony. During the ceremony Mr. Chu greeted and posed with NHS members when they were called to receive their cords.

In order to be in the club, those that are interested must complete an application towards the end of their junior year. According to Ms. Higgins, the members are chosen by a committee of teachers.

“What we look for in applicants are good academic records, no excessive absences and tardies. The GPA requirement is at least 3.2. The next thing we look for is community involvement that can be verified. Last, students should have demonstrated a high level of leadership with clubs or outside organizations,” explained Ms. Higgins.

Once members are accepted into NHS, they must complete two community service projects; one being individual and one being a community service project involving all the members of the NHS. A future group project in discussion includes going to Alum Rock Park to pick up trash, which they plan to do every month.

“Melina, Tony and I go to Alum Rock library Tuesdays from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. and we volunteer to help underprivileged children complete their homework,” commented Megan.

This club also teaches valuable life lessons for the students. Members are able to make an impact, not just for themselves, but for their community and for the world.

“NHS taught me that you have to uphold your nobility because you earn your position by excelling in these four categories. So throughout your life, you have to stay true to these traits and showcase them for others,” said NHS member Brandon Huynh.

“NHS taught me to carry the mentality that you can always find a solution for any problem that comes in your way,” added Megan.

A few notes to keep in mind before applying for NHS is to uphold the four values of scholarship, community engagement, leadership and character.

“The biggest piece of advice would be getting a letter of recommendation from the adult you worked under that verifies your leadership and the responsibilities,” advised Ms. Higgins.

 

PHHS History team making history

Last Sunday, the PHHS History Team faced off in the National History Bowl at Saratoga High School against other high schools.

The National History Bowl is a high school tournament that closely resembles a game of jeopardy in which two teams face one another by answering a wide variety of historic topics ranging from Greek history to contemporary famous athletes and actors.

To prepare for this competition, the history team took strides to cultivate their knowledge and review historical facts during their weekly meetings.

“We prepared for the competition through weekly meetings in which we look at past questions. Often, if one member answers a question incorrectly, we would have a small discussion about the question, thus improving the knowledge of the team. We also prepared by using Kahoot on various periods and topics in history,” remarked History Team President Vincent Han.

Outside of school, members also committed to practicing in their own ways.

“I prepared for the History Bowl by reading past questions every day to reinforce my memory before competition,” stated History Team member Ryan Nguyen. “If time allowed, I spent 30 minutes to an hour reading History Bowl related materials each day.”

As president, Vincent was also very ambitious in his preparation, taking time out of day to study various subjects relating to history as well as setting optimistic goals for the team.

“I read articles on Wikipedia and watched documentaries on YouTube and take notes to memorize more trivia. Through weekly meetings, I learned what are my strengths and weaknesses were and I improved myself by attacking these weaknesses through studying them thoroughly,” explained Vincent. “I do hope to improve significantly over our past tournaments. For example, we usually defeat one or two teams in the past, and this time we are trying to defeat three.

Participating in the History Bowl was also a Saratoga, Foothill, Palo Alto, Valley Christian and a home school team. During the battle, the PHHS History Team was able to exploit some of their strengths to gain an advantage.

“Some of the strengths we had included our ability to cooperate. For example, during each match we had to decide who to substitute out of the game and who to participate,” recalled Vincent.

Unfortunately, the team was only able to win one out of five rounds. Recognizing their mistakes, they strive to improve for next year. As of now, the overall rankings have not been release to the public.

“At the competition, my strategy was to play very aggressively which had its own strengths and weaknesses. I was able to answer some questions before other teams, but I also wasted opportunities by answering incorrectly early in the question,” recapped History Team member Ryan Nguyen. “The only way to improve from this is to keep studying what I missed.”

In the end though, while the History Team worked diligently to earn their rank, what they took away from the competition was a shared compassion of history with other students from different schools.

“Playing against our rival Foothill was the highlight of the competition. Though we couldn’t manage a win against them, I’m glad we were able to give them a good fight,” admitted Ryan.

Despite the fierce battle, each team showed chivalry and respect towards one another.

“I think my favorite part is always shaking hands with our opponents after our match and saying that it is a good game. This mannerism reminds me that, although it is a very fierce competition, friendship is still more important,” said Vincent. “Above all, however, I just wish that members can enjoy the tournament and put in all they have.”

“Stars for a Night” dazzles Piedmont Hills

By Katelynn Garcia

Stars for a Night is an annual tradition for Piedmont Hills took place last Friday in the L-Building. The show displayed many talents from all across the special education dept. In the two hour show, there were 18 performances, split by a 15-minute intermission.

The L-Building was filled with friends, family and staff taking pictures and taking videos of the performances. Those who came to the event were delighted by the performances, especially the second-act glow dance, which was presented by Ashleigh Moorman, Kaitlyn Lee, Javier Diaz, Aiden Marquez, Neveah Ortiz, and Satya Mulagada.

There was an introduction presented by principal Ginny Davis, followed by The Star Spangled Banner, which was sung by senior Brian Bui. The students had been practicing for the show since the beginning of the year.

“Stars for a night is a part of the abilities awareness component of PHHS’s specialized program. Our students perform to show that just like their regular peers, they too have talents to be proud of. Our students sing, dance, act and play an instrument,” explained special education teacher, Maria Casiano. “In the two hour show, there were 18 performances, split by a 15-minute intermission.”

”My heart gets really shaky when I performed,” exclaimed senior Ashleigh Moorman.

The show included ten vocal performances, six dance numbers, a piano piece, and even a play presented by special education teacher Nonglak Prasopsook’s class. They had been rehearsing it since November, and the play came out up to 20 minutes.

“I play the MC and Batman in the play,” shared senior Eltohn Sileestie.

Ashleigh and Eltohn performed in the play, which was a take on DC comics.

“They were excited and ready to go on stage,” said Ms. Prasopsook, “For them to practice things like speech is great, and it also teaches them responsibility.”

The stars for a night is also one of the major fundraisers to support the special education Dept.

“Some of our students were nervous, especially the freshmen, but I think most of them were really excited to show off their talents to their families, teachers, and friends,” added Ms. Casiano.

“Oh, I loved it, I was so glad to go,” exclaimed social science teacher Lynne Murray. The talent show has been a major success for 15 previous years, and is set to be a PHHS tradition for years to come.

Senate votes on fate of the presidency, acquits President Trump

By Andy Doan

The US Senate started a formal impeachment trial in which they voted to either convict or acquit President Donald Trump on Jan. 16, and the vote took place Wed., Feb. 5. The vote resulted in his acquittal on both articles of impeachment, with it being mostly split along party lines (only one senator crossed party lines by voting to convict President Trump, Republican Senator Mitt Romney.)

In the process of doing so, Senator Romney became the first and only senator in history to vote to convict the president of his own party.

“As a senator-juror, I swore an oath, before God, to exercise ‘impartial justice,’” said Senator Romney.

Impeachment is similar to an indictment in a criminal case; it is a charge, but not the punishment itself.

Although President Trump had already been impeached by the House of Representatives, the House was required to send the articles of impeachment to the Senate, where they decided the punishment, if any.

At the beginning of the trials, Americans were sharply divided on whether Trump should be removed from office—with Democrats largely supporting removal, Republicans largely opposing, and independents divided. According to CNN, 51% of people—89% of Democrats and 8% of Republicans—supported Trump’s removal from office, compared to 45% who opposed the idea. The missing 4% remained indifferent.

This trial was a result of the impeachment that started when a whistleblower’s complaint was released, claiming that President Trump threatened to withdraw United States’ aid money to Ukraine, if an investigation on his political opponents, including former Vice President Joe Biden, was not conducted.

The impeachment trial can be understood as a court case where the Senators are the jurors.

As reported by The New York Times, the prosecution’s opening arguments were held between Jan. 22–24, and those of the defense began on Jan. 25-28.

Following this, there were 16 hours of questions and answers, four hours of debate and a vote on whether to consider subpoenas for documents or witnesses not covered by the House investigation. Controversy sprang when the Senate voted 51-49 to hold the trial without any witnesses.

Finally, the closing statements were given on Mon., Feb. 3, and two days later the vote was taken.

There were several possible outcomes to this trial: President Trump could have been removed from office and/or disqualified from holding office in the future. This means that President Trump could have been removed from office and still be able to continue running for re-election in the 2020 Presidential Election, or that he could remain in office, but be barred from holding office in the future.

With the president’s acquittal, he will remain in office, and is still eligible to run for re-election in the upcoming election. The future remains unclear, but President Trump could be the first president to be impeached and re-elected.

Votechella casts its presence at PHHS

By Nolan Pham

Last Wednesday, students gathered eagerly on to Sophomore Hill in front of the Big Gym during lunch to attend Votechella intent on earning their lawful privilege to vote. Organized by American Government teacher Lynne Murray and many student volunteers, this event was attended by 250 students who are interested in participating and registered to have their say in the government.

Votechella is a registration drive where students sign up to vote or pre-register to vote online or on paper. It is hosted by Ms. Murray, who for the past years has been working with the registrar of voters in Santa Clara County knowing the importance of voting.

“I’m African American and a woman and with those two life experiences, voting has always been an amazing opportunity that we didn’t always have,” remarks Ms. Murray. “I don’t want students to know that, but hold it close to their hearts because voting is how you share your voice, your opinion, your ideas about how and what the country should be doing for us as citizens.”

At Votechella, motivated student volunteers helped attendees sign up as well as facilitated the event.

“I volunteered at Votechella because I feel like as teenagers we don’t get the word around on stuff that is important. It’s important for teens to know that they need to vote in order for this country to be better,” explained volunteer Navleen Kaur.

Some volunteers also expressed their incentives to encourage others to vote.

“I wanted to take part in giving students my age the opportunity to take the first steps in voting,” explained volunteer Danny Hinh. “Voting is undeniably important because that’s how things in this country are done and I think our generation should be more invested in it.”

Students who were still confused about which party they preferred could still register as well.

“When a 16, 17, or even an 18 year old signs up, they can select what’s called NPP (No Party Preference) so they don’t need to know their political party now,” explains Ms. Murray. “Hopefully by the time of the next election, they will understand what parties they are involved in and can complete it then.”

In the future, Ms. Murray is confident that Votechella will continue to be a popular event attended by many students.

“I think this generation is much more aware of the activities of our government and what they can do as residents of the U.S,” remarks Ms. Murray.

Overall, teachers and volunteers are proud of how the event turned out and hope to have the same success next year.

“It seemed to go pretty. A lot of people came to register and I hope they end up voting,” commented volunteer Justin Wang.

Students who missed the event with ambitions to vote are still able to contact Ms. Murray to register to vote.

“I welcome anyone to come in and grab a form and often times I’m here after school to hook students up to the online application so they can vote,” added Ms. Murray.

New Courts to Swing into Season

By Christine Do and Austin Lin

Around the middle of November, the construction of the new tennis courts started. The Tennis teams look forward to the newly improved quality and additions. These new courts are scheduled to be completed around the end of this year or before the Boys’ Tennis season starts, but the recent rainy season and chilly weather will most likely postpone the completion of the courts.

The reasons for the tennis courts being rebuilt were due to the amount of injuries associated with the uneven pavement.

“Because of earthquakes, there were many cracks and because of this, players tend to get injured. The lines on the court were also barely visible, so it was very difficult to play matches and make good calls,” said Boys’ Tennis Captain Manav Dixit. “During matches, the balls wore out very quickly and this decreased the quality of play.”

New outlets are being installed to power the ball machines, which the team is excited for because they have not been able to use the machines in previous years. The lines on the courts are being reapplied and the nets will also be replaced. Unlike the original courts, the new courts will not have fence dividers.

“This construction was part of the plan for construction of the concession stands. The next planned part of the plan is the softball field,” stated School Site Council Member Maggie Nguyen.

As the district plans for these reconstructions, the team had asked for more additions, but some of these wishes were not fulfilled.

“We originally wanted an additional court to be added so that our games would end faster as well as add court lights so we could practice later in the evening but unfortunately, the courts will only be resurfaced,” said Girls’ Tennis Captain Kirsten Takeshima.

Despite this, the Boys’ and Girls’ Tennis teams are thrilled to be able to play on fresh new courts in the following season. They hope that the tennis courts are done in time for the Boys’ Tennis season.

“I’m most looking forward to the courts being blue and green, which I prefer a lot more than red and green. Our balls will not wear out as fast, and we will be able to use them for much longer and save a lot of money,” said Manav.

The tennis teams hope to reduce the amount of injuries while playing games and utilize these improved courts for the upcoming years.

GSA District Policy

By Joanne Vu

PHHS’s district, ESUHSD, recently passed official policies concerning laws on the LGBTQ+ community on Nov. 4.

As the chairperson, GSA (Gay-Straight Alliance) President Sofi Jaquez sat in on the meeting and voted on the trustees’ latest issue. This month, there were two major developments regarding the entirety of the LGBTQ+ students: As an entire district, they support and acknowledge LGBTQ+ youth, prior to the absence of an official acceptance or acknowledgement in the past. The other being students of the LGBTQ+ community are protected from backlash or bullying on the basis of identity, including discrimination from faculty members (teachers and admin.).

As the student governing board is funded through the district, there is a representative for each grade at each school, and out of those four, there is one main representative for the school as a whole. At our school, Sofi takes on that role.

The following process consists of the student government board electing the chair members where they sit in as an official trustee during the monthly meetings. The passing of these policies give hope to PHHS’s GSA club in terms of the liberation and acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community.

“For me, specifically, this makes me really happy because I’ve seen countless incidents of bullying and discrimination and for there to be new regulations officially frowning on this behavior, rather than looking the other way, gives me hope and brings me a lot of joy,” stated Sofi.

It will provide official support and acknowledgement of the LGBTQ+ community, and is meant to protect students from bullying each other based on their identities and sexualities.

“As for GSA, I don’t think much will change considering we’ve always been a well-known safe place. If anything, this policy may encourage more students to feel comfortable enough to possibly join GSA,” expressed GSA Board Member Sierra O’Leary. “It’s one thing to be acknowledged, but it’s another equally important thing to be celebrated, and positively empowered by fellow peers.”

In the future, the club hopes to touch upon other issues concerning the LGBTQ+ youth.

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.