Why you should join Journalism

By Kylie Cheng

Around this time last year, The Legend seemed close to death; scheduling for the year 2015-2016 showed that too few students had signed up for Journalism.  Eventually, enough willing people signed up and saved the class, and the school newspaper lives for its 50th year.

Perhaps the majority of students still think of Journalism as undesirable.  The class includes challenges not everyone may wish to face—but it also provides an environment to cultivate skills that few other classes exercise.

One of the most common objections to taking Journalism is the writing it requires.  The benefits from news writing, however, are different from those gained from an A-G English class.

“A lot of people don’t want to take Journalism because they don’t like writing, or they think they can’t write,” muses Copy Editor Michelle Fong.  “They think they can’t write good essays, which has nothing to do with Journalism.  It’s more like taking facts, putting them on a sheet of paper and then formatting it.”

News writing differs from the academic writing most high school students are used to, as well as from creative writing.  The majority of news stories fit an “Inverted Pyramid” that organizes facts from most to least important, while alternating between quotes from the people involved and paraphrases or additional information.  This structure relieves the journalist from having to come up with original content.  Furthermore, it focuses on accuracy and clarity, not on writing flowery sentences to impress the English teacher.

“It’s easier to get away with style anomalies because there’s a clear format, like the news story format, the multifeature format, even the opinion format,” says News Editor Tiffany Lee.

The editors appreciate a writer with above-average flair, but as long as students write with care and make the suggested edits, basic English skills work just fine in Journalism.  And with enough practice and effort, one’s writing skills can improve.

“It’s helped my factual writing for sure,” asserts senior Seline Ting, former artist for The Legend.  “It’s helped me analyze what is fact.  It’s helped me on school reports as well: how to deduce, how to find right sources, how to report accurately.”

Granted, everyone does need to write.  The class is so small that everyone is a reporter on top of performing another job.  Anyone unwilling to write, even for the noble purpose of reporting, should not join Journalism; the consequences would go beyond a hurt grade.

Think of the newspaper as an entire-class group project.  If everyone does what they’re supposed to do, the process goes smoothly; but if enough people miss their deadlines or don’t do their work, the rest of the staff suffers.  As stories, photos and graphics come together, students get to experience teamwork in a context not unlike an actual job.

“You really understand how to work with other people,” states Layout Team member Michelle Lin.

“I really like how social it is,” mentions Artist Emilie Chau, “because in other classes, like English or math class, you don’t get to know everyone in your class.  But in Journalism, you really get to know every single person, because you’ve worked with them at least once.”

Aside from the collaboration within the classroom, Journalism also builds communication skills through interviews.  Often a reporter has to talk to strangers and learn to overcome the initial awkwardness.

“Sometimes when you’re reporting on a team or something like that, you don’t really know the players, so you have to really search for who you’re trying to interview or who you should be interviewing,” comments Sports Editor Sommer Fowler.

Senior Grace Cheung, a former Business Team member for The Legend, had the additional step of interacting with companies off-campus to secure advertisements in the paper.

“In Journalism, I definitely learned how to communicate with businesses a lot more efficiently,” she reflects.  “Just the way you write emails and things like that, and how you organize your information is important.”

The overall workload varies with the job.  Some people, such as the senior editorial staff, are frequently busy.  Most others find time to help out further after finishing their stories, or to simply relax.

“This class is better than most of my other classes because it’s fun,” remarks Layout Team member Angel Palomino.  “It’s not as exhausting as my other classes, it’s not as repetitive; there’s always something new every single month that we try to do.”

At the start of production for each issue, the class brainstorms for what to put in the newspaper.  An opinionated or creative mind will find an outlet for expression, be it writing the editorial, designing the centerspread or drawing a graphic to fill up that dreaded white space.  All sorts of talents mesh into something people all over the school want to read, and it’s hard not to feel a certain pride in seeing our ideas come to life in print.  AP classes can’t give that satisfaction.

“I’m pretty sure everyone’s tired of taking all these serious, hard classes, and I’m like, just take a class to have some fun,” says Design Editor Patrick Trieu.  “Take the class; have fun.  You learn a lot from it.”

And what have I personally learned from Journalism? I’ve learned to gather up the courage to talk to people, to take action shots with a fancy camera, to co-write an assigned-late article in one afternoon, to help and be available for helping others and to distinguish a single space from a double space in nine-point Times New Roman font.  Most of all, I’ve learned that, despite every challenge it presents, Journalism is worth saving.


Walking in a Winter Concert Land

By Angelina Nguyen and Yen Linh Duong

The doors of the L-Building opened up, welcoming folks of all ages to enjoy two wonderful concerts brought by the PHHS Music Department students.  Part one of the Winter Concert began with A ‘Suite’ Sleigh Ride, the instrumental concert, on Dec. 4 and ended with Home for the Holidays, the choir concert, which took place last Wednesday.

During the piece ‘Today is the Gift’, the drama and Concert Choir students made a special appearance.  The choir members, together with the chosen vocalists and egg shakers from the Wind Ensemble, sang a simple hymn after the riveting Martin Luther King Jr. ‘I Have a Dream’ speech spoken by drama students.

Concert choir introduced a new technique using mason jars and their cellphones during ‘Sympathy.’  The audience members were asked to type in links from the back of the pamphlet on their smartphones.  Each attendee opened a different link according to the section they were sitting in.  Right before Concert Choir sang, the sounds of birds chirping erupted throughout the L-Building.

“It’s based on a poem called ‘I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings’ and we have recordings of these little birds tweeting and we put the recordings inside the mason jars,” mentions Concert Choir member Athena Nguyen.  “The song is about how a bird is trapped in its cage so we’re trying to give an image of an actual bird trapped inside the jar to make the (performance) come to life.  Also, there is a soloist and she has a recording of her singing at the end of the song and the very last words that she sings (are) ‘I know why the caged bird sings.’  She put this really big jar on top of the recording when it says (that) and it represents a bird singing inside of the jar.”

After the intermission, the Percussion Ensemble enchanted the audience with their unique pieces ‘Cloud Forest’ and the ‘Nutcracker to Go!’  The Percussion Ensemble is not a music class at PHHS, but is a group of percussionists from Wind Ensemble and Symphony Orchestra gathered together.  They practice once a week during seventh period or after school.

“We are just doing it [Percussion Ensemble] for fun. We have really good percussionists at this school,” comments orchestra teacher Emily Ray.  “Last year I started the Percussion Ensemble and I found this piece that was really hard, and had a couple of them practiced over the summer.  So when they came back in August they were pretty good at it, and we just kept practicing.  That was a college level piece [‘Cloud Forest’] that they played.”

According to Ms. Ray, the Percussion Ensemble have only practiced ‘Nutcracker to Go!’ for less than two weeks since she didn’t give them the music until just before Thanksgiving break.

The choir students have started working on the new pieces for the Winter Concert since the end of the Fall Concert which amounts to about seven weeks.  The pieces were chosen based on the strengths and weakness of the choral students.

“After the first concert of this year, we completely moved on.  We immediately started to practice (and) we (have) constantly been practicing,” says concert choir sophomore member Steven Lu.

A $5 admission fee was required to enter the show.  Delectable treats such as cookies, custard-filled donut holes and hot chocolate were sold at a concession stand, providing warmth and comfort for all who watched the show.  All of the money earned through the concerts will fund the music programs, allowing them to buy new equipment and go on more trips, such as this coming trip to Italy.

Baseball Team wins CCS first time in history

S.08 CCS Baseball.Hannah Tong

BADABING BADABOOM! The Piedmont Hills Baseball team run to join together in a doggy pile celebration of their win against Pioneer.

Photo courtesy of Val Bobias

By Hannah Tong

Immediately after the swinging strikeout, catcher Danny Garcia threw the ball to first basemen John Kelly, costing the Pioneer’s their last and final strike.  The boys ran and piled on each other, extremely overwhelmed in joy and completely in disbelief that they had finally won the whole thing.

On the morning of May 30, the Piedmont Hills Baseball team stopped for breakfast at Denny’s for one last team bonding before they went on face Pioneer High at the CCS Baseball Finals.

After a tough but victorious match against Milpitas just two days earlier, Piedmont Hills was ready for their next opponent.

They showed up to Pioneer’s field at about 5:30pm and immediately did their warm ups and stretches.  Their coach gave them a quick pep talk, firing and hyping them up for the game.

Right when the game began, Piedmont Hills hit four doubles just in the first inning, giving them an early lead of 5-0.  Starting pitcher Christian Castaneda pitched all five innings and gave Pioneer no mercy and no chance to score.

“Cameron Castaneda pitched a gem, and they weren’t able to hit it past our defense,” informed left field Matthew Leffler.

Five out of the six batters were able to get on base in the first inning and continued to pound all of the pitches Pioneer threw at them.

By the fourth inning, Piedmont Hills’ Pirates led 10-0.  Finally, with two outs and two strikes, Castaneda struck out the batter to win the game.

“It was the best feeling ever,” expressed designated hitter Danny Bobias.  “We were all huddled on the mound [which] turned into a dog pile.”

Their four hour practices full of game situated scenarios involving defense and offense had paid off.

The Pirates really showed up with their A-game on, being the first Piedmont Hills Baseball team and the only 16th seed team to ever win CCS.

“After we won, I felt like I was on cloud nine.  It was the best thing I have ever felt,” commented Bobias.

Family Fun Day makes its way to PHHS

N.01 Family Fun Day_2

Blast to the past! Old panoramic photos and newspapers were spread throughout the small gym for many to enjoy.

PHOTO: Justine Afalla

By Justine Afalla and Rosa Lin

Piedmont Hills celebrates its 50th year anniversary with its very own Family Fun Day, to recollect memories made from the swinging 60s to the present.  The event held on Oct. 3 presented multiple fun-filled activities and attractions for all those who attended.

Family Fun Day’s most significant activity “Walk Down Memory Lane” was located inside the Kenneth B. Jackson Gym across the football field.  Various panoramic photos were spread across the perimeter of the gym with graduates ranging from the black and white 60s to the colorful 2000s.  Multiple trends and fashions were also showcased during the event.  “Fashion in the 70s was pretty grungy,” laughed Diane Masuda, a PHHS graduate of 1972.  The event also displayed a multitude of past issues of The Legend and a video regarding the various significant events at Piedmont Hills, evoking a sense of genuine nostalgia towards the audience.

Other activities included intense games of ping pong and basketball between various alumni, as well as a bounce house for the many children who also attended the event.  Alumni through the years also participated in taking class photos varying by graduation year.  Food such as hot dogs and nachos were also served to the hungry attendees while they admired the aspiring history of Piedmont Hills High School.

“I miss the friendships made at Piedmont Hills and the stunning faculty in this beautifully well-kept school,” exclaimed PHHS English teacher of 1965 Joann Reed.  Mrs. Reed and multiple alumni acknowledged the various embellishments added to the school, such as the small gym, football field and multiple computer labs.  “I remember I had to use a typewriter during my typing course here at Piedmont Hills,” recalled a PHHS alumni.  Past graduates were happy to support the beneficial advancements Piedmont Hills has experienced in order to meet with current trends, leaving the older generation with a sense of gratitude.

Other activities present during the event included photo-taking with alumni, various family-bonding sport activities such as table-tennis and basketball, bounce houses to keep the children entertained and food served by Piedmont Hills’ very own students.   Attendees were given the opportunity to bond by catching up on memorable events made at Piedmont.  Overall, the event impressed a diverse set of smiles and bliss amongst the attendees.

“Dream Big, be successful and stay in school to keep involved,” mentioned Piedmont Hills graduate of 1975 Randy Nelson.

“Have fun and don’t rush,” concluded multiple past graduates of Piedmont Hills.

PHHS alumni gather to celebrate 50 years with ‘A Chorus Line’


Dance dance reunion! The cast comes together to perform the final number “One.”

PHOTO: Elaine Zhang

By Patrick Trieu

PHHS alumni gathered to put on the musical A Chorus Line to celebrate 50 years of Piedmont Hills on Aug. 21 & 22 at the theatre.

The musical A Chorus Line tells the story of an audition for a Broadway musical, where ambitious professional performers hope to land a role while the demanding director Zach tries to only choose the best eight of the group.  In order to narrow down the selection, Zach decides asks the performers to share events that shaped their lives and their decision to become dancers.

Executive producer Anna Woods decided to choose the musical to represent Piedmont Hills’s 50th anniversary for its fame and suitable connection to our school’s celebration.

A Chorus Line has been known as the Golden Broadway Musical, and the 50th anniversary is the golden anniversary,” she noted.

The preparation for the musical was different from normal productions at the school, relying on satellite audition and casting, video instruction and the ability of each performer to master his or her part.  Furthermore, the cast only had 2½ days to rehearse for the show.

“Scheduling was difficult, but you just do what you gotta do and pull it off in the end like for every other show,” pointed out sound operator Winston Liew.

When the idea was sent out by the Drama Dept. through social media in January, many of the alumni shared the word with as many people as possible, ensuring the large assembly of alumni.

“We have a private page for the cast and crew involved in A Chorus Line.  So we’ve been posting info on there, giving people advice on what to post on their pages and asking people to post on Facebook, to use their Twitter, to use their Instagram,” described Class of ‘93 alumnus Liza Giron-Espinoza, who works as the Director of Alumni Relations for the production.

In preparation for their roles, the cast spent a great time in improving their singing skills and studying their character roles.  Due to the nature of the production’s scheduling, the entire cast had to practice their parts on their own before coming together for the 2½ days of rehearsal.

“It’s really hard to perform a piece that includes people using their bodies and having a live audience, and trying to get all the piece together while you’re apart when you are all supposed to be together on a stage,” detailed Class of ‘08 alumnus Rachel De Vera, who plays dancer Bebe Benzeheimer in the musical.

Everyone who took part in A Chorus Line express excitement, joy and nostalgia upon seeing the gathering of alumni in the cast and audience.

“It was a great opportunity to bring people back to their campus, to their Alma Mater, and our Piedmont Hills. And we did that,” stated Ms. Woods.