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.


Will China cost you this Christmas?

By Jose Flores-Jimenez

Bells will be ringing for deals on Christmas presents, but the tariffs set by President Donald Trump on Chinese imports this season could make this Christmas a little frosty for consumers. The ongoing tariffs enacted by President Trump more than 16 months ago makes this the first time that major American companies are deeply affected by our Trade War with the Chinese economy during the Christmas Season.

Since July 2018, the US has been defending its position as the largest economy in the world by discouraging American consumers from buying Chinese imports with higher tariffs. The tariffs, implemented by President Trump, function as a tax that retail companies and small businesses have to pay in order to get their usual shipments of products from China.

China responded to the tariffs by enacting tariffs of their own on US imports in China, locking the two economic powers in a competition of who can set the higher tariff on who. So far, the biggest loser has been American companies, such as Ford, Stanley Black and Decker and Tyson Foods, that pay the tariffs. Now that the holidays are among us, more tariffs mean more cuts into company profits, which results in higher prices for the consumer.

“This (season) is probably where retailers expect a big part of their yearly profits to come,” says Economics teacher Alexander Sarria.“So they’re very sensitive to what’s been going on in trade.”

Last Friday, President Trump announced that an agreement between China and the United States had been reached, settling on an end to China’s tariffs on US imports, and a decrease in tariffs on Chinese imports.

While this continues to affect some clothing products, such as shoes and coats, which continues to have a seven and a half percent tax, the overall prices of consumer goods this season will not affect toys and tech products.

“The Trade War supports (Trump’s) base. He politically gained an advantage for doing these things. His supporters will support him for it,” says Mr. Sarria.

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.

The good, the bad and ugly of the decade.

By Harleen Kaur

This decade has been pretty eventful so, let’s recap some of the best and worst moments of the decade.



Remember when we all thought the world was going to end? Yeah… that never happened. On Dec. 21, 2012, cataclysmic events were supposed to occur that would end the world. The belief that after the Mayan Calendar finished on that date, the world would end which prompted the doomsday speculation. Today, we now know that a doomsday is not the biggest threat: climate change is. Even though the doomsday never happened, have the rest of you felt alive since? Because I haven’t.

Operation Varsity Blues

The biggest college scandal of the century. It’s funny how in AP Lang, we had to do a satire project and our project was about how people who make big donations to schools get in, even if they had terrible grades. One classmate comment how it was unrealistic that someone with poor grades could get into a college by just making a donation. A few months later, this scandal unfolded and we got to learn about how Olivia Jade, daughter of actress Lori Loughlin, attended USC even though her former classmates revealed she rarely came to school. I mean everyone knew that the college admissions process was shady, but once I read that parents photoshopped their children into photos of sports team, I had to laugh.


Kony 2012

One of the first experiences of virality was with this video. The video was a 30 minute documentary exposing Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony who human trafficked little kids. The video reached 100 million views within six days of its release. This documentary was one of the times we have seen the power of social media. People began to donate, sign petitions, and share the video,  spreading awareness about Kony’s crimes. Although, the video depicted sensitive and upsetting content, the first appearance of virality places this event into my good list.


Supreme Court legalized Gay Marriage 

On June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court legalized gay marriage in all states. This decision was long overdue and needed. It’s a shame that it took this long for gay marriage to be legalized in all 50 states. Many members of the LGBTQ+ community were able to come out because of this decision. People need to accept each other no matter what. #LoveIsLove.

Zayn left One Direction/Revival of the Boy Bands

Boy Bands made their comeback this decade. One Direction brought back the boyband after solo artists dominated the 2000s. One Direction was the boyband that dominated the beginning of this decade. The day teenage hearts broke all over the world was when Zayn Malik left One Direction. 8th grade Harleen was devastated when Zayn left because he was her favorite member. Now, I am glad that Zayn was able to leave a band that never wanted to be together in the first place. The four remaining members announced their hiatus in 2016. Now, Zayn and the other members create their own music instead of what their old label wanted.

Boybands were kind of extinct in the 2000s, until One Direction brought back the trend. Boybands were trying to get rid of that label but for the past three years groups have been embracing that title. Now, more people are attracted to aesthetic music video concepts, phenomenal choreography and trendy styling with groups like PRETTY MUCH, CNCO and the various K-Pop groups.

Boys’ Basketball Bounces Back

By Ryan Norton & James

Boys’ JV and Varsity Basketball started a new season on Sat., Dec. 7, winning a score of 46-44, against the San Francisco Washington Eagles, hitting the courts once again with a new head coach along with new team members.

“I feel like my game has improved a lot since the summer,” said Varsity Small Forward Jordon Scott. “As a team, we have put in the hours and put in the work, day in and day out, so I think this year will be one for the books.”

In preparation for the new season, the Boys’ Basketball team have been holding practices with their head coach, Anthony Cuellar since November. Cuellar has made a strong impact on his players, providing advice both on and off the court, to improve their game.

“During the game, I want to win but also to have fun when I compete. I focus myself during our pregame by listening to music to zone out the distractions,” added Varsity Center Cisco Garcia. “When the time (comes) to play the music goes off and all I think about is the game and how I can benefit the team.”

Both Boys’ JV and Varsity teams have been playing scrimmage games against other high school teams, in order to mentally and physically prepare themselves for the new season.

“I think my biggest physical challenge was getting a concussion in my junior year and I couldn’t play in a tournament and all I wanted to do was get right back on the court.” stated Scott.

“Due to me being injured with a concussion, I haven’t bren able to work on my game as much as I wished. If I (could), I would have worked on my endurance and ability to shoot the ball,” stated Garcia

The new season started off with a few setbacks from previous injuries among various players. Physical injuries are detrimental during a season, but can still affect the player in the future. With practice and preparation, both Boys’ JV and Varsity hope that the season will be a safe one.

“My goal this season is to work hard at any practice and game. (fighting) to the end no matter the outcome,” stated JV Shooting Guard and Power Forward Kameron Golbaz.

The Varsity team is looking forward to the ongoing season with new goals set in hopes of winning the championship game this year. The next JV and Varsity games will be on Jan. 1, 2020.

CSF gives lively Christmas to San Antonio Elementary

By Victor Xie

On Dec. 4, CSF (California Scholarship Federation) organized their annual Christmas Carnival at San Antonio Elementary. Members and officers came together to bring the Christmas season to the most underprivileged elementary school in San Jose.

“We bring the holiday joy and make sure that every child there feels the Christmas spirit through a carnival. They rotate through rooms, enjoying crafts, games, snacks and Santa!” explains CSF President Jerry Xu.

This is CSF’s 22nd year hosting their Christmas Carnival at San Antonio Elementary. Annually, it is their main event that they work all year to fund, as costs are directly from CSF’s funds.

“Christmas Carnival is something CSF started from the group up! We are 100% in the process and we all get to make a difference,” says CSF Treasurer Grace Shan.

Although this year’s Christmas Carnival was no different from past years, members enjoyed the event just as much.

“Seeing all the happy kids was really cool and exciting. I was extremely touched when the little kids came to hug us and say thanks without the teachers telling them to,” says junior Jasmine Nguyen.

Before the Christmas Carnival, CSF was hard at work obtaining funds through their main fundraiser, PPP (Pirate Pancake Parade).

“All the funds we make from PPP are used to buy the supplies needed to make a successful Christmas Carnival,” states Jerry.

To many CSF members, including advisors, this event shows the importance of helping others.

“I hope everyone knows that this event is one of the best Christmas gifts that you can get yourself,” says Jerry. “It always feels better to give to those in need than get the same presents for yourself. I think that Christmas Carnival really changed my perspective on how fortunate I am and the privileges I was born with but don’t pay attention to. I strongly recommend this event to anyone who wants to attend, because it has been one of my favorites.”

CSF hopes to continue helping their community with the various service events and fundraisers they have planned for the rest of the school year.

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.