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.

Boy’s Tennis has served well

By: Rose Lu

The Boy’s Tennis team winded up with a record of 11-1 in their league and a record of 11-3 overall. Their most recent games was a win against Independence 4-3.

“The season went amazing as we went 11-1 in season and our only loss was a close match resulting from many players being absent that day,” shared Varsity Doubles 1 player Brian Chiang.

The team also had many goals and skills that they have been trying to hone especially during practice which occurred after school up until 6:30p.m. throughout the week. Occasionally, they also practice on weekends. During practice, the team focused on improving their serves, footwork, backhands and forehands.

“The team’s performance was very well this year,” commented Varsity Captain Manav Dixit. “A few things that we’re working on are to (stay) consistent in all our strokes and improve (our) overall gameplay.

The team also had many goals that they have been trying to achieve like making it back to A-league and to win more matches.

“I think the team’s biggest challenge is keeping everyone healthy,” shared Varsity Captain Alan Nguyen, “Overall, the team is improving a lot. Skill wise and strategically everyone is learning very fast.

Another big issue is staying committed to the team.

“Many people on the boys’ team have extracurricular so it’s natural that they can’t show up to everything. I think we only ever had a full roster for one game,” commented Chiang.

Joining the tennis team was a big commitment for the boys, especially because of their other afterschool activities and school.

“The most difficult part of being in tennis for me is the time commitment, because I also have a ton of other extracurriculars and clubs to do,” stated Varsity Doubles 1 player Gavin Yu.

The boys team enjoyed the season overall because of their good performance, the connections they’ve made and the skills that they developed.

“Being on the tennis team improved my skills a lot. Not only do we practice a lot, we also play real games, which tests both mindset and skill,” continued Yu.

Both new and experienced players are all welcomed to join the team next year to learn skills, make new friends and to stay healthy and fit.

Letter to past/future self

By Rex Ly

Dear Past self


Years ago, my life was drastically different from what it was today. I definitely have a lot of regrets, but that’s just one of the things that made me into who I am right now.

There were many people I wanted to meet but never had the time or just never had the chance. When the time comes when you have to say goodbye to your friends or family—which will happen fairly often—know that some goodbyes are harder than others, but not all goodbyes are forever; eternal friendships are real. When you are forced to say goodbye to someone that means a lot to you, you will get these weird feelings that your mind can’t explain, and through that emotional stress you will understand how much or how little that person means to you.

You never truly appreciate people you meet until they are gone.

In the upcoming years, you’re going to meet some of the best people in your entire life to make the most memorable moments with, whether they be sad or happy. Just because you lost that one best friend doesn’t mean you won’t meet new people.

I can’t emphasize enough how many terrible people you will meet in your upcoming years that you won’t believe can live with themselves for what they do. Don’t even try to run away from it—you will end up meeting those type of people.

When it seems like the rest of the world hates you, just remember that you only need one best friend that understands you and will always give you a shoulder to cry on.

There will always be people in your life you can’t stand who try to drag you down with them. That’s when many of your regrets will come in, but that’s fine because you will make it out alive somehow one way or another. They will leave scars on you when you have to interact with them sooner or later but well, you know what they say “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”.

On multiple occasions, you will feel as if your life is crashing down upon you, and you’ll want to just run away from what feels like a nightmare. Sometimes it’s about that one bully and others times it’s because of that one event you were unable to go to. It’s not the end of the world, if you’re in a state of depression right now, I know that’s the last thing you want to hear, but trust me, it’s true. Heartbreak makes you smarter with who you associate yourself with, and your fears will someday make you braver.

Just be yourself and bear with whatever pain you are given. The world is not perfect but it’s what we do that makes it beautiful. Don’t try to be perfect because if you’re perfect there’s no point in trying to become a better person.



By Katie Tran


On May 7, Concert Band and Wind Ensemble attended CMEA (California Music Education Association) at Graham Middle School from 8 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. Wind Ensemble earned a Unanimous Superior rating while Concert Band earned an overall rating of Superior.

CMEA is a festival where music groups from a variety of schools attend to perform for and receive feedback from professional adjudicators. They are graded on aspects of performing and the event is a measure to see the proficiency of a band.

Wind Ensemble played three movements, which they have been practicing very hard on since as far back as November. They also practiced for the sight reading section. Wind Ensemble had not received Unanimous Superior since 2015 so this was a great accomplishment.

“These past two years have been kinda rough on band, so I’m hopeful that we will make a comeback with that unanimous superior this year,” expressed piccolo player Maggie Nguyen.

This was Concert Band’s first time attending CMEA because they are all freshmen. As this was their first year, they put a lot of work into preparing for this performance.

Despite a few small errors throughout their performance and a big obstacle, Wind Ensemble still received the highest rating possible at CMEA.

“One glaring hardship that the group encountered was that one of our percussionists had gotten food poisoning the day of the performance, so we were missing a vital musician,” said Maggie.

There are different ratings for each tier for a score out of 100: 90-100 is superior, 80-90 is excellent and so on. Last year they got a mix of excellent and superior.

“Our goal for next year is to get unanimous superiors again,” said trumpet player Aaron Lee.

Other schools that performed include Evergreen High School and Independence High School. There were four professional adjudicators for the festival overall, three for the performance with prepared songs and one for the sight-reading portion. They usually change every year. CMEA is also for choral groups and orchestral groups but each group attends on different dates.

Band’s hard work paid off in the end as they achieved their goal and surpassed their previous scores by receiving unanimous superior for the first time in four years.


Guidance Office doors vandalized during Spring Break

By Victor Xie

Administration believes that three individuals committed serious acts of vandalism on early on April 27, which was the Saturday at the end of Spring Break.

These individuals cemented the set of doors leading into the Guidance Office shut and plastered them with offensive words. With the quick work of the custodian and district office maintenance team, the doors were cleared in several hours.

“I feel that the individuals are probably angry, and I felt that they disrespected our school. I don’t know what message they were trying to get across, but I don’t think that it’s the Pirate Way of trying to get any message across,” commented Assoc. Principal Honey Gubuan.

The administration offered a monetary reward of up to $1000 for anyone who could provide valuable information on the individuals who caused the vandalism.

“I think there’s a general culture among young people that encourages such displays of disrespect to authority, but this is vandalism without a clear message and vandalism for the sake of vandalism,” said senior Emily Liu.

According to the California Penal Code Section 594, if the damage costs are over $400, the individual could serve up to a year in a county jail or be given a fine of up to $10,000. If the damage costs are under $400, the individual could serve up to a year in a county jail or be given a fine of up to $1,000.

The fines for the repair of the door were confidential, but are estimated to be quite high.

“I hope these students realize that the money put into fixing the vandalism is taken out of money that could be used for other materials,” said English teacher Peggy Lee.

At the time of this issue’s distribution, no individual has been publicly caught or announced to be the culprit in this ongoing investigation.

Art season is back

By Janelle Perez


The annual Downtown Doors competition brought artwork from San Jose high schools to the streets of downtown and presented the students’ awards on May 9th at the San Jose Museum of Art.

The annual Piedmont Hills Art Faire was also held this week outside of the art buildings and showcased art made by students throughout the 2018-2019 school year.

Downtown Doors is way for students from San Jose high schools to publicly display their artwork. This year’s 16th annual competition included over 200 submissions from over 20 schools. Selections vary from ten to thirteen pieces, which are then transferred onto a big poster to be displayed on a door downtown.

The art faire included pieces from students in digital photography, sculpture and drawing and painting.

“I think the art show is great because it shows how hard we (students) have worked throughout the year to create these pieces,” said senior Nicole Ortiz.

This year two Piedmont Hills seniors, Diego Papa and Abigail Tecson won a spot on a door downtown. Downtown Doors winners were presented the awards to commemorate their talent.

The annual art faire included detailed sculptures and paintings as well as variety of printed photos, while Downtown Doors only showcased the works of few students.

“I really wanted to do a piece with bold colors and I took ideas from both desert martian landscapes. I’m proud that people thought it was worthy of a spot downtown,” said Diego.

Abigail submitted a double exposure piece from her digital photography class, which includes architecture from Paris.

“At first the idea of blending the architecture came from when I was going through Pinterest,” said Abigail.

The Piedmont Hills Art Faire submissions were chosen by the students themselves, which consisted of their best piece from the school year.

“I submitted my favorite photo that I took from this year and I’m really glad people are going to be able to see it and have a positive reaction to it,” said senior Kaitlyn Seawright.

Both Downtown Doors and the Piedmont Hills Art Faire will be held again next year and students will be able to admire the work of their peers and art students will be able to submit their work to be shown.


PHHS Class of 1988 returns in 30-ish year Reunion

By Sarah Shafaeen

The PHHS Class of 1988 are having their 30-ish year reunion this Saturday at the Casino M8trix at 6 pm.

The three co-organizers worked tirelessly to bring the reunion together and make sure that as many people as possible will attend and have a good time.

“There is a group of three of us who organized the reunion: myself, Dayna (Stein) Pawlowski and Diane (Bettencourt) Smith. We knew each other in H.S., but didn’t hang out. Diane was on the organizing committee for our ten-year reunion and Dayna, the 20th, so I thought they would be game for helping with another one,” says head organizer Anna Heckman.

The 30-ish year reunion is actually the 31st year reunion because the organizers were unable to properly organize the 30th year reunion in time.

“We tried (late) last year to get it off the ground, but it didn’t pan out, so this is our 30-ish year reunion. I was on the committee for the 30th year as well,” says co-organizer Dayna Stein Pawlowski.

The Class of ‘88 hoped to meet up with old classmates and reminisce about their time together at PHHS.

“I’m looking forward to looking back, seeing everyone, dancing to ‘80’s music and having fun catching up!” exclaims Anna.

When reflecting back on the environment at PHHS, Class of ‘88 recalled a very positive experience.

“PHHS was a great time for me. I loved high school! Hung out in the auto shop for a time, was tight with the drama crew. Really, I tried to get to know people in all the little groups,” mentions Dayna.

Many remember the overall inclusiveness of the student body at the time along with the general kindness everyone treated each other with.

“I loved Piedmont and had a great experience. Everyone was very friendly and respectful. I suppose there were cliques, but it didn’t really feel like it because everyone seemed to be friendly with one another, regardless of what particular group you might identify with. I thought it was just a really special place. I was pretty shy when I started there and really came to be much more social through the years. I really felt accepted there,” states Anna.

The class remembered their favorite memories from high school.

“FANTASTICS and Spirit week are really good memories. And Drama Class was pretty special to me,” concludes Anna.



ARK, CSF and LEO Movie Night

By Vincent Hoang


Like the various Spidersonas teaming up for one ultimate battle against Kingpin, ARK (Acts of Random Kindness), CSF (California Scholarship Federation) and LEO (Leadership Experience Opportunity) banded together to present the movie “Spiderman into The Spiderverse” in the library on April 12.

The movie surrounds a young teenager, Miles Morales, who after being bitten by a radioactive spider, like his predecessor, Peter Parker, is swept into the role of Spiderman and must defeat the villain, Kingpin, along with the help of others like him.

Presenting the film for a one dollar admission fee along with food made watching the movie more enjoyable.

“The movie was pretty good! I wasn’t able to watch all of it because I had other stuff to do, but I can tell the members enjoyed it! This was the first time I watched the movie,” says CSF Co-President Alexa Follante.

Setting up the event was a fun experience for all three clubs.

“The event and movie was fun, seeing my friends from ARK and CSF to set up an event where we can watch a movie we can all enjoy together made it a worthwhile experience,” says LEO Senior Advisor Kevin Su.

Not only was this event to bring people together, but also to help raise funds for all three clubs.

“It was fun seeing many members from each club bond, the it was also to help our clubs have a successful fundraiser, so seeing many people come to see the movie really helped support us,” says CSF Co-President Jane Tran.

“Watching the movie for the second time was truly amazing. The art style, the animation, the plot, along with Spiderman being my favorite superhero from Marvel, made it such a great experience rewatching the movie again, especially for a much cheaper price compared to paying for a ticket at the theaters,” says senior Stanley Wu.

With such an amazing call back, this event turned out to be a success.