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Special Report

A Look Into The Lives Of The Homeless- Wally

Caroline Gee and Saagar Sanghavi

My life was good, you know, no divorces, nothing like that, and there was a kind of spat between my brothers and sisters, but nothing major. I lived in a good community, no drugs, at least nothing like what it is here. [There were] Catholics everywhere, Kansas is full of Catholics. And if you’re not a Catholic, you’re almost [discriminated] against.

One day, a Jewish kid named Tom came to our community, and he felt very [discriminated against] and out of place in our community, much like me and my brother. My brother was like an alpha male — a big guy. My brother started fighting a bunch of guys for [Tom]. [Tom] always roamed around with a Bible, well at least I thought it was a Bible, but it was a Torah. And one day, a bunch of guys started beating [Tom] up. My brother fought against them; it was a bad fight, a very bad fight. I asked my brother why he was beating them, and he said that they were beating Tom.  Again, I asked, “Why were they beating him?” And to this he said, “That it was because few were Jewish, and both my brother and I were treated just the same as a Jew.” I thought to myself that Tom looked white and he carries around a Bible. Now that was sort of an eye opener to me, that wow, the hate has indeed grown so much.

Well that was the only instance of prejudice that I witnessed in Kansas. I grew up, went into air conditioning and heating; I had a baby girl. My wife, she had this postpartum…so she left us. I met this other girl; she had a boy from Georgia, named Brandon, [and I thought] we could be a family, you know. And then she said that she was moving back to Georgia, and I was like, “Do you want me to go with you or what?” But she had a boyfriend, you know. But the only thing I was concerned about was Brandon. He was my son now. Because that would ruin his life; she was taking him with her and she was a pretty bad drug addict and alcoholic. I made him stay back here for high school as his mom, soon after going [to Georgia], was retained because of a crime she committed in the Georgia department. I became a foster parent, you know; I’d work outside.

We had this big house, 9000 square feet; it became junk, but it was beautiful in 15 acres. But, when I went to the Philippines, I realized we have so much, and they have so little. In Africa too, they don’t have watches or anything. And a person from Africa, when asked about how they kept track of time said, “When we’re hungry, we eat; [we get tired], we sleep.” So it gets down to those basic needs. That’s how it is here, too.  

Kids are my life; I feel blessed to live in this country. I don’t take this for granted, and I love being a foster parent. I love going places; I’m not just about white people. People may be greedy, but I come out here on the streets and say, “I’m not homeless, I live on this mother earth!” When you detach yourself from all materialistic stuff, it gets down to just this Earth. I’m attached to this tree, this ground. It just comes down to this. I feel blessed [that] I live on this mother earth.

I’m blessed to live here, America is a great country just with people like you, people from everywhere in the world. You [guys] make this place different.


Can You Pass the U.S. Citizen Test?

Elena Chang and Justine Qui

Did you know for immigrants to become a US Citizen you must pass a naturalization test? The naturalization test consists of 10 questions from a list of 100 questions. To pass it, you must answer 6 out of 10 right. See how a couple of Tino students answered when asked some of the questions.

*Speaker of the House is next in line after the Vice President. 

AP Gov Teachers React to the Election - Mrs. Morgan

Peter Martin


Mrs. Morgan

What is your role as a government teacher leading up to and after an election?

I think that the biggest role of a government teacher is to help students understand the process of elections and how the system works. Over the summer the other AP government teachers and I got together and talked about how we are going to incorporate this election into our classroom while we are still also bound by state standards and the college board standards. So what can we do to incorporate real life examples into the classroom. So essentially using it as a case study for things that we talk about like the electoral college or the primaries, that sort of stuff.

What are some specific examples of when you incorporated the election into your teaching?

Something that is new to AP gov this year that we decided to experiment with was incorporating current events presentations by students. You guys had a chance to sign up for a current event in groups of three or four every Friday and spent some time researching anything related to the actual election. A lot of students ended up focusing on Hillary Clinton’s emails, or the rhetoric Donald Trump was using during the election. It was sort of an experiment for us see what students were interested in based on what they brought into class and then it also allowed students to engage with the topics a little more directly. Some presentations include references to legislation we looked at in class as well and so that helped the students connect the information that we studied to what was actually going on in the world at the time.

With such a polarizing election, did you find it difficult to keep your own political views out of the classroom?

Yeah, I think that’s always a challenge, especially for teachers that teach government, is how to allow students to, one: express their own beliefs and opinions, especially as students are learning what their own beliefs and opinions are. So, one: to allow them to express their own beliefs and opinions, two: challenge their own beliefs and opinions, and also challenge them to look at different perspectives and be able to interact with students and people that have different perspectives than them in a respectful manner. So as a teacher a lot of the time I find myself playing devil’s advocate. I do not tell my students my political beliefs. They might guess one way or the other, right or wrong. It’s kind of funny to hear what students think I am or not, and I just smile and chuckle at them. I think it’s more of the role of the teacher to help students challenge their own thinking and assumptions, and at the end of the day if they change their views, that’s fine. If they stick to their views, that’s fine too.

Now that the election has already happened, what you feel your role as a teacher is?

Yesterday we had our departmentment meeting, all the social studies teachers were meeting together and we talked about just that: What is the role of a social studies teacher? Do we continue business as usual, or do we take time to stop, pause, and talk about what’s going on in the country and the world? All of our teachers were in agreement that we should be looking at what is happening and I think that in AP Gov for example we did take time to do that. Looking at the case study of a president who has not won the popular vote but who has the electoral college, so looking at that, that’s another one of the examples that we study in class. And so saying “Okay, that’s only happened a few times in history, like in 2000 for example, and now 16 years later happened again, so what does that mean? When we’ve talked about arguments for and against the electoral college, having student now say “Okay, so what are people going to be talking about today, or next week?”

One thing being talked about a lot at school is the test being delayed. It sounded like you had some reservations about that. Could you talk about that?

When I checked my email at two in the morning and saw that students wanted the test postponed, my initial thought is “No, we’re not postponing the test, you had two days to study in class, why would I postpone this test?” And then the more I thought and reflected about it, I still have mixed feelings. I very much believe you had this time to study and prepare. You’ve known about if for a month, take the test and then we’ll spend a few minutes afterwards to digest and process. But after talking to more adults on campus and processing the feelings of students on campus, thinking about if the teachers are going to take time to postpone what we’d already planned to talk about issues and results, should that also translate into my classroom? The more I reflected on it, I was thinking “Okay, this is exactly what we studied this unit. Should I have planned a test on the day after election day anyways?” And so giving students a chance to process the variety of election results, not just the presidency but what was happening in California, what was happening throughout the country. I think giving student the chance to look at things like the electoral college, that’s the example that’s sticking out in my mind. When was the last time we talked about this happening? When has it happened in history? So using that as a real life case study, you can’t have any better curriculum than what’s happening in the world right now, especially because our political behavior unit was all about… political behavior.

Do you feel that your teaching is affected by the relatively politically homogenous nature of our school?

This is the only place I’ve ever taught, so I think that if I were to teach in a different area in California or even outside of California, you always should be listening to what your students want and what your students need. I think that also makes me especially conscious of providing multiple viewpoints and incorporating multiple viewpoints to challenge students to hear things that they might not always hear or might not always be familiar with.

AP Gov Teachers React to the Election- Mr. Coleman

Anshul Rajwanshi

Mr. Coleman

How should students be looking at the election and responding?

I think that students first of all need to follow the news cycle in the same way they are following it today. I think that becoming informed is the number one solution to the issues we face or that we might face in the future. I can't speak for every student because to me it is important that students make their own opinions and interpret things in the way they see fit and to make decisions for themselves, rather than listening to their peers or to their teachers or to their families or to anyone else. I think they should react in a way they are comfortable with.

How will the election affect the curriculum and history?

The results of the election itself are pretty momentous. I think they have some deep implications for the future of the parties in our country, the futures of the different political coalitions. We saw that Trump support came from the South, pretty usual, but significant support from what we call the Rust Belt in the North. From towns and states that rely on manufacturing jobs, factory jobs, that are listening to the message that Trump has about bringing jobs back to our country, especially for poor white workers. Whereas the Democrats have a little bit of a different picture and they have to formulate some new strategies. They have heavy support amongst minorities. They have good support along the West Coast and along the East Coast, but they also do need to find some additional votes somewhere. I don't think the Republicans are in great to shape to be perfectly honest either. There is a significant part of the Republican Party that does not follow Trump's plan or the coalition of Trump supporters; that leans more towards the free market beliefs and the libertarian wing of the Republicans and I don't think that they are necessarily willing to go along with the vision that Trump supporters have. I think that we could see, which is exciting from a detached perspective, is that the Republican Party could change massively and even split off, and I think the Democrats could be in the same situation.

Any plans on the curriculum?

We are still very early, considering the circumstances it is really difficult to make changes at this time when we have so many emotions of all involved and when we have had this scramble to make changes in just these last few hours. I do expect that because of how intensely involved people have been in the results of this election, that we could use this election as a learning experience and connect the concepts that we learned in AP Gov to what is happening in real life. But at the same time, College Board does have control over our curriculum to a certain extent and there are certain, specific concepts that we have to teach for the AP Test. So where we are able to fit in these real life applications is unclear.

Any final message for the students?

No matter the results of an election teachers, peers, and staff members will always support you unconditionally. You will always find someone to support your opinion even if others don't.

AP Gov Teachers React to the Election - Mr. Yeh

Melissa Silva

Mr. Yeh:

As a government teacher, what responsibilities have you had in relation to your students?

I think there are a lot of different rules from a content government standpoint -- there’s the making sense, logistically, of what actually happens [in the election], why that happens, what’s the historical context, what are the implications, and what we can expect, or what we’re uncertain about. So there’s a very academic portion, which I think is important, no doubt, but I think that especially in a big election, or development, or current event like this, there’s the other part of it where, as a teacher, your role is [to be] an influential adult in students’ lives. Sometimes you’re [having those conversations] with students more than maybe they are with their parents, and I think it’s about being a guide and example of how to digest good or bad news, and thinking about how we behave and think and talk -- how is that going to shape what kind of adults we develop? And to be honest, I’m relatively young -- I haven’t been an adult for super long, you know? So there are a lot of things that I’m constantly learning about. And you can talk to any 40 or 50 year old, and they don’t have all the answers either. If it was simple and there was a manual, the world would be a lot easier and better. So teachers are learning, teachers are struggling, teachers are emotional, and we’re just trying our best to be our best selves and really try to be there for students who don’t feel safe, students who are coming from a wide range of experiences and backgrounds. I see my role as trying my best, being honest, being vulnerable, letting people know I don’t have all the answers, and trying to be a good example, but knowing that all I can do is try my best, and there will be parts where I fail, and I can’t change or fix anything. I can’t fix a lot of things. So I think it’s just being there, giving space for people to process [what happens], rather than saying “You still have to do XYZ”. We accomplish so much stuff already at Cupertino that I think the focus should be on making sure kids are ok and that they’re able to express that in an environment where [we have] discussion rather than debate or arguments.

What have your students taught you?

I think that students today have so much more access to information than when I was in high school, so students have a lot more information, and it’s about trying to make sure that the information that they have is reliable, but I’m impressed by the resilience, the perspective, and the maturity that kids demonstrate. Obviously, that’s not 24/7, and I think there’s ways we can be thoughtful about social media, about how kids interact outside of the classroom, but I think that teachers need students just as much as students need teachers, and it helps give us hope and spirit to see compassionate, thoughtful, critical arguments and thoughts. I’ve always learned how to be a better person by interacting with students.

What was the reasoning behind the postponement of the AP Government exam?

My reasoning was: I think this was a big event that’s really pertinent to the course in general, so on a planning level, I think we probably should have anticipated or could have anticipated, regardless of the result, kids were going to be up late watching. I think to the planning credit, there was a fair amount of review time structured in, so people studying last minute or cramming should have still had time in class. I don’t think there was a clear right or wrong answer, I think it was important, from my perspective, to discuss it, and I wanted to honor the fact that students were organizing to advocate. Because that’s what we need. I think that AP Gov, beyond doing well on the test, is about how you become an active and critical citizen. And to do that, you have to organize with people, and when you organize and advocate, even if you don’t get what you want, say we didn’t postpone the test, there’s still value in that process. So I wanted to honor that regardless by making sure we had a thoughtful discussion about it, and I think it was also positive for the teachers to engage in that because teachers have very different perspectives and views, too, adn we can’t teach discussion and things if we don’t process it ourselves. So I think, yeah, we had passionate discussions, and it was really important to have those honest feelings put out there, and with any sort of decision, some people are going to be happy and some people aren’t going to be. But going through the process is good.

What kind of takeaway do you want all students to have, regardless of affiliations, in relation to the election?

I think that with gov, and with information being so accessible on news, it’s easy to get caught up with “politics is everything” and “everything is political”. And to some extent, that may be some useful ideology, of every choice you make having implications, and it’s good to recognize that. But at the same time, so much of our lives is also, or should be, not always focused on politics. At the end of the day, we’re people with a lot of hopes and fears and interests and passions and people that we love and care about. So my takeaway hopefully is that whatever happens, we still keep working to be better people, to create a better society, regardless if you agree with who’s leading, like who is elected. Because it would be flawed if Hillary won and people were like “oh I can relax now” but no, everyone has to continue to work on being better and fighting for what you think is right and having real discussion about what policies and decisions are going to result in those actual things you care about. The more we can continue to do that -- just be honest and look at issues -- rather than labeling people, the better, hopefully, our society will be. But it’s hard work, and it’ll take a long time. I think the thing I really like from our last reading [Howard Zinn’s “The Optimism of Uncertainty”] is that pessimism is a self---- prophecy. If you don’t believe something can happen, then you won’t take the first steps to make that happen, you won’t take those actions. So even if it feels impractical, even if it feels like you won’t see results, you always have to hold onto some sort of hope that people can change, that things can get better, and recognize that change takes a long time. We develop. Things that I’m able to do now, today, might be because, five or ten years ago I had certain exposures and conversations with people. Certain things I have as privileges that I might not think about today might be because people sacrificed their lives or their livelihoods so that I, as an immigrant, as children of immigrants, all these things can [influence] what I experience. And even from a spiritual perspective, when you pray for hope for something, that coming to fruition might not happen in your lifetime, but your hope for that and desire for that and willingness to take action for that might result in that for someone a hundred years from now. And I think there’s something really beautiful about that. It might seem foolish on a pragmatic level, like “well, you’re going to be dead”, but that’s what keeps me going. You’re not always going to see the fruits of your work. So I’m just doing my best to hold onto hope and trust.

CHS Poetry Slam

Nico Chilla and Leo Rassieur

How long did you prepare for your piece, and what was the preparation like?

Amruta Talwalkar:

We had about 2 weeks to draft and complete our poems in our VMC classes. The two weeks were well over enough time for me to write at least three or four drafts of my poem. Before we began writing our final poems we had a couple weeks leading up to the drafting process to get familiar with a couple slam poetry techniques that we could possibly use in our poems. After the poems were drafted we had a few days to perform and review our poems with our peers.


Impana Murthy:

I had to practice for class, so I had it memorized. But in terms of hand gestures and motions, it kind of has to come naturally. I can't really choreograph movements, so I just did whatever I felt was necessary to bring out the message of the poem.

What topic was your piece about? Why did you choose that topic?

Amruta Talwalkar:

My piece was about me pursuing a career in acting and how difficult it is for an Indian-American female to make it big in Hollywood cinema. This is a huge part of my life right now and something I'm really passionate about.


Impana Murthy:

My piece was about assimilating into a new country/culture and the reactions of people from the two cultures I am a part of — American and Indian. It also was about cultural identity in a globalised world.

Millen Fan:

My topic was bullying and how it personally affected me. I chose this topic because I've never openly talked about my past. I normally just bury the past because now I have this happy-go-lucky attitude and so no one really expects anything like that from me.


William Suh:

My piece was about that when you're down you can come back with hard effort. I chose this topic because it just fit my magic.


Tasha Wang:

My piece was about brokenness. How we're all broken, but sometimes we think that we're the only people going through a certain thing, when in reality most of the people in our lives are fighting battles we know nothing about. It’s about how we try to hide our broken pieces because we feel like we need to, but we really don't, and also about how the world is broken, and that love is the only thing that can fix it. A line in my poem is "you can't save people, you can only love them," and I think it's very true. We just need more love in this world for people. I chose this topic, because it's something I want people to know — that we're all broken and we’re not alone. It's something I experienced first hand in my life, after all my poem was about my best friend and my ex-girlfriend. She was in so much pain, but I was the first person who loved and cared enough to ask. And that's scary. The fact that some people spend everyday in pain and no one notices or cares. People need to realize loving on people can completely and utterly change their life.

What makes poetry slam a unique experience compared to other mediums of speaking/writing?


Impana Murthy:

Slam poetry is more of a performance art form than essays or written prose, so it's a lot easier to show emotion, which allows you to make the poem funny, sad, sarcastic, etc. — stuff that might be lost in translation when it's written down. Also, you get to have a "conversation" with the audience because it's an audience based performance. They react to you and you react to them.


Tasha Wang:

I think a poetry slam can make more of an impact than other forms of speech/writing because it's a performance unlike a regular speech and often times the poems are about topics the speaker is passionate about. It's like watching passion come to life. I personally love watching slam poetry for this reason. I love poetry in general, because it's the same alphabet we're all using, but poetry uses certain words to make you feel something. And slam poetry is even better sometimes because hearing a poem read powerfully out loud can leave a bigger impact on the audience.




Unity Vigil

Melinda Sun, Catherine Seok, Jenn Zaratain, Aishwarya Laddha

       During Wednesday tutorial, students with a wide range of political views gathered in the quad for a “Unity Vigil.” Due to the whirlwind of emotions over the presidential election, sophomore Luna Conrad, senior Rebecca Nissen, senior Yatziri Arias and sophomore Tamara Zafer — representatives from the Gender-Sexuality Alliance, Latino Student Union, and Muslim Student Association — decided to organize an open discussion.

       According to the coordinators, however, the event was intended to be nonpartisan. Arranged as an “open mic” forum, the vigil allowed anyone to come onto the stage and share their thoughts with the crowd. The audience was a mix of those who supported the vigil and others who opposed it, as well as students who sided with Trump or Hillary. Students spoke passionately about their opinions, discussing topics such as national disunity, racial violence and discrimination, and inclusion. Participants voiced their fear for what is to come in Donald Trump’s term.

       While the idea for the vigil seemed to center around feelings of discontent from the election, several students offered opposing views and expressed frustration with the Trump protests around the nation and marginalization of Trump supporters. They argued that ideological intolerance on campus was equally problematic, and asked for people to keep an open mind to differing ideas. Members from both political sides criticized the protests as counterproductive.



Tino Reacts to Trump's Victory

CHS Prospector

After one of the biggest upsets in political history Donald Trump has become the president-elect of the United States. Some celebrated, some grieved and many were surprised by the outcome.

The Unreliability of Election Polls

Utkarsh Tandon

     For the past several days we have been nervously checking election predictions to prepare ourselves for the announcement of America’s new president. Now we finally have the results — but were they at all what we expected?  

     Prediction websites made broad claims such as, “Clinton has a 72.54% chance of winning,” but they also backed these numbers with detailed analysis of swing states and which ones would make the definitive difference. Now that the election has completely unfolded, it is possible to analyze the accuracy of these predictions — not necessarily whether the winner was correctly predicted, but whether the number crunching behind these swing state projections was accurate.

     To begin, the diagram below depicts what analysts at FiveThirtyEight (statistics website) predicted a couple hours before polling closed

Courtesy of FiveThirtyEight

Courtesy of FiveThirtyEight


     The above infographic clearly shows that Clinton had all the swing states under her belt: Michigan, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and even Florida. But when polls closed and results poured out, she lost each and every one of those states. Although Clinton won a few predicted tight swing states such as Nevada, she lost in states such as Wisconsin and Michigan — states that FiveThirtyEight gave low weightage in deciding the election. However, in reality these states were the ones that made all the difference in the end. Predictions were thoroughly different from the actual outcome; the two below graphs illustrate the extent to which these differences materialized. Graph 1 delineates the discrepancies in predicted swing state importance to the election, and Graph 2 depicts the overall error in ballot count predictions over the 50 states.


By Utkarsh Tandon

By Utkarsh Tandon

Predicted Importance is taken from FiveThirtyEight’s “chance of tipping election.” Final Importance is a calculated number using weights of electoral votes, previous victories by party and closeness of final results. Both follow similar numerical methods to display correlation, but Final Importance considers final results and surprise factors behind outcomes.

Graph 2:

By Utkarsh Tandon

By Utkarsh Tandon

Predicted Vote Win Percent is taken from FiveThirtyEight and Final Vote Win Percent is taken from Associated Press.

Wisconsin, as well as Michigan, turned out to be highly important in tipping the election, which few predicted since Obama easily won the states in the ‘08 and ‘12 elections. FiveThirtyEight gave Wisconsin a small 4.8% chance in tipping the election as it originally gave Clinton a 85.3% advantage in winning the state. In reality however, Trump won Wisconsin with a slim one point lead, which defied all predictions. Additionally, Pennsylvania’s outcome was a major surprise, and had a similarly significant influence in tipping to the election in Trump’s favor. One interesting trend seen in Graph 2 is that FiveThirtyEight accurately predicted vote distributions to the exact percent for many states that Clinton was assured to win. But for even slightly contested states and states that Trump was assured to win, they were significantly incorrect in their predictions. This shows a potential reason for error that analysts weighted predictions from previous year Democrat successes more heavily than current policies and regional demographics. Although error to some extent is expected, analysts displayed an inability to classify relative swing state importance and had a sizable 7.23 percent error in predictions across the 50 states. This effectively shows that current systems are inadequate in providing accurate predictions, especially in unique and ground-breaking elections such as this one.


     The primary reason the election went in Trump’s favor was because many previous Obama voters shifted their opinion from a structured policy to a more revolutionary way of running the country due to higher levels of unemployment among voters. Many felt that radical change would be the only method of bringing their jobs back —  something that Trump strongly pushed for in his campaign.

     Only two out of dozens of well regarded newspapers predicted a Trump victory. Most sources had given Clinton over a 70% chance of winning the election, and the highly regarded Nate Silver, who had accurately predicted all 50 states in the previous presidential election, was considerably wrong on four major swing states. This election clearly goes down as one of the most unexpected Presidential victories in U.S. history. What Trump will do in the future is unclear, but the 2016 election sheds important light on the volatile nature of our country’s opinions — to the extent that even the most reputable statisticians cannot accurately predict its end result.

CalGames 2016

Justine Qiu

The Cupertino High robotics team went to CalGames this weekend at Fremont High. They placed fifth at quarterfinals, great job guys!

Amal Mehta: Ultra-marathoner

Erin Song and Saagar Sanghavi

SAN FRANCISCO - On July 31, senior Amal Mehta completed an ultramarathon, covering over 52 miles in a single run. While an incredible feat on its own, Amal not only ran for the physical test but also to raise money for his own non-profit, Grameen Pragati (ગ્રામીણ પ્રગતિ, literally, Rural Progress), an initiative that Mehta himself started during his sophomore year to provide hope and light for villages in India. Through participating in the run, Mehta raised $2400 fundraising through his friends and family.

Mehta has run lengthy races before; in past years, he participated with a team in The Relay, a 200-mile race. An individual ultramarathon, however, posed a new challenge for Mehta.  

“This race requires a tremendous amount of stamina compared to the 200 mile relay because [it] is not broken into separate chunks of distance,” Mehta said in an interview conducted before his race. “I haven't run such a long distance continuously before, and I’m hoping that I'll be able to do it within nine to 11 hours,” said Mehta.

To prepare for the race, Mehta not only ran extensively but also trained through swimming and traveling distances approximately close to that of his ultra-marathon.

Metha ran regularly in middle school and saw his passion as a way to fundraise.

“I really like running because it’s fun pushing my limits and staying fit,” Mehta said. “I wanted to raise funds through running races since it was enjoyable way to help my cause.”

Mehta was inspired to start Grameen Pragati after visiting his village in India five years ago.

“I realized that a lot of school children didn’t have access to light during the night, which took away many hours of their day that they could spend working on their education or doing chores,” Mehta said. “Some families use kerosene lanterns, which is a detrimental risk to the family's health and the environment.”

After the race, Mehta recounted his experience.

“It isn't just twice as hard as a marathon, it’s possibly three to four times as hard because you get more sore and tired the more you run,” Mehta said. “The race was difficult because I didn’t train as much as I would have liked, and I hurt my knee two weeks before. After the race, I was very sore and hurt a part of my posterior knee.”

Mehta seeks to utilize his passion as an avid cyclist and backpacker to raise funds towards his cause as well.

Said Mehta, “I am really interested in backpacking and cycling as well, so long distance funding trips like that may happen some time in the future.”

As crowds cheer on Mehta’s endless, passion-driven run to alleviate conditions for people in India, Mehta continues to take countless steps to better himself, his community, and the world.

For more information about the ultra-marathon in which Mehta ran, go to


2016 Graduation

Jennifer Zaratan

       The Cupertino High School class of 2016 said their final goodbyes this week at the baccalaureate and graduation ceremony. Cupertino Orchestra and Cappella choir gave their very last performances, followed by student speeches from Allan Wu, Pia Mandrekar and class president, Nikita Devdhar. Congratulations to the class of 2016 pioneers, and good luck in all your future endeavors!

All photos by Jenn Zaratan

Student Anxiety - A Persisting Force

Erin Song and Jay Shroff

Stress. It is a common word in the vocabulary of the average student and one that is repeated almost like a mantra within the CHS school population. Whether it stems from grades, personal drama, overexertion, or a combination of all three, stress has become an inevitable part of student life. However, whether this stress is all but a normal part of the high school experience or an unhealthy side effect of living in a competitive environment is up to the interpretation of the student. A recent survey of 146 students conducted by The Prospector has revealed that a majority of students feel overly stressed by the competitive nature of their schools.

Stress Frequency Among Students Per Week

Data collected by The Prospector. Sample size of 146 students.


It is clear from the responses above that students are frequently stressed out.  Other data from the survey also indicates that academics are not the only trigger for anxiety.  Extracurricular activities, such as clubs and sports, cause students to feel even more pressure.  

Responses to the survey also reveal that the issue of stress is not exclusive to any particular school. In fact, several students have brought up similar problems within the FUHSD school district.

With a majority of students dedicating their four years of high school to working towards an admission to a “good” university, it can be difficult to pursue hobbies that are not typically featured on college applications. Junior Olivia Shearin from Cupertino High School notes that the competitively academic nature of CHS makes it difficult to spend time on cosplay, a main hobby of hers. This year’s finals week coincides with Fanime, a major anime expos event in which participants cosplay as different characters. 

“Fanime is my major event of the year because it’s one of the few times when I get to meet my friends from other states or parts of California, and I feel like the changed finals schedule is interfering with that, as I was really hopeful that a few of the finals would be moved ahead of the schedule,” Shearin said. “It’s stressful to have a non-academic hobby in Cupertino schools.”

Despite the pressure on students to pursue “academic” hobbies, Shearin has resolved to continue enjoying cosplay, as it has provided several opportunities to relax and meet new people. Said Shearin, “People kind of look down on me for wasting my time, but it’s one of my personal goals to continue pursuing personal interests even though it’s junior year.”

The school has certainly taken commendable efforts to reduce the issue of stress within the student body. A junior at Cupertino noted that “the school did try to reduce stress by inviting Judie-Lycott Haimes for her speech, but I didn’t think it was as effective as [the school] may have hoped.” Other attempts by CHS to reduce stress at school include the survey taken by Stanford University and the subsequent meeting with staff and parents that followed to discuss the data, as well as 

Several schools within the area have also noticed the high levels of stress among students. Monta Vista High School, for example, has taken strides to reduce student stress on campus by holding Ole Day, which worked to help Monta Vista students relax in a variety of ways such as offering free ice cream to students and bringing therapy dogs on campus. Said Monta Vista senior Flora Xia, “A few years back, some students got a team of statisticians to give a survey to the entire school regarding stress. It revealed that Monta Vista kids were very stressed and felt that they couldn’t talk about it to anyone on the campus.” Ever since the faculty has discovered the issue, it has taken steps to alleviate the students of the pressure placed on students to constantly strive for perfection. At the same time, the ASB of Fremont High School organized a “stress-less” week before finals last year, where they scheduled events such as a movie night, yoga classes, and even a karaoke session the week before finals were set to begin.

Said Xia, “The purpose of Ole Day was to give students a chance to have a ‘fun’ day to relax. Teachers were encouraged to make their lesson plans as fun as possible, the school played music over the speakers instead of using bells, and they brought in therapy dogs and cats for the students to pet.”

Despite some arguments from students that one day cannot eliminate the stress placed on high school students, Xia expresses appreciation towards the Monta Vista faculty for attempting to help its students. “Of course, it didn’t magically get rid of all my stress, but it made my day a little nicer, and that’s what matters.”

The competitive academic nature of the area has proven a difficult obstacle to tackle in the effort to reduce the pressure placed on Bay Area students. However, with recent efforts to alleviate that tension, there is some hope on students realizing the importance of enjoying the high school experience.


Cherry Blossom Festival Photo Gallery

Catherine Seok

The annual Cherry Blossom Festival, organized by the city of Cupertino, took place from April 23 to 24 at Memorial Park. During the festival, the community gathered to celebrate Japanese culture with performances, food, and arts and crafts. The event funded Cupertino Sister City Committee, a non-profit organization that facilitates the foreign exchange program between Cupertino and Toyokawa.

All images courtesy of Catherine Seok

Skateboarders at Tino

Allison Lo

Hidden in the nooks and crannies of the school, the skateboarding community is an often overlooked aspect of Cupertino culture. Students can sometimes be spotted around school, on the street and in open lots with their boards, spending time with others have the same interest. Some might see skateboarding as just a way of getting around, but for others, it is a sport that has no rules — a medium of expression. For skateboarders like freshmen Hector Morestin and Omar Sibih, skateboarding is a way to hang out with friends while having fun with a favorite hobby.  

Q: How did you get into skateboarding?
Morestin: After I moved from France to the U.S., I met a friend who started skateboarding. I went to the skate park with him once, and he was skateboarding, and I thought that was really cool. My parents found a summer camp, which is how I started learning.

Q: What do you like about it?
Morestin: I like it because I can meet a ton of people at the skate park who share the same passion as me. So I try to practice a little bit every day, and I’m trying to get good enough to get sponsored [by skateboarding companies].

Q: What does skateboarding mean to you?
Morestin: I just see it as something I do in my free time. I make videos with my friends, which is really fun. We film vlog-type videos, where we’ll meet up in the morning and film ourselves skating and talking about stuff.

Courtesy of Brianna Lingofelter

Courtesy of Brianna Lingofelter

Q: What’s your favorite trick?
Sibih: The tre flip, which is when the board turns 360 degrees and flips. It can be challenging to get the full rotation though.
Morestin: I like [tre] flips because they were the hardest for me to learn. Now that I’ve learned it, I can do it almost every try, and it’s super fun.

Q: How do you learn skateboarding tricks?
Morestin: I usually just watch a bunch of YouTube tutorials. The tutorials teach you how to do the tricks and talk about [other skateboarders’] preferences. So I take all the different ideas I learn about and combine them to learn tricks. 

Q: Who have you learned from the most?
Sibih: I’ve learned a lot from a YouTuber named Aaron Kyro, who’s a sponsored skater from the Bay Area. It’s motivating to see how far he’s come, since he was once young like me and really progressed a lot.

Q: How would you describe the skating community at Tino?
Sibih: Pretty much anyone who has a skateboard — they can come with us. We all just skate together. No matter how bad you are or how good you are, we’ll teach you.

Courtesy of Cory Eklund

Courtesy of Cory Eklund

Q: Are there any stereotypes associated with skateboarding?
Sibih: Yeah. People think that all skateboarders smoke, do bad things and get bad grades, which isn’t true. I usually just try to ignore the negative feedback.

Q: What are the best and worst parts about skateboarding?
Morestin: The best part is that once you land [a trick], you get this awesome feeling of accomplishment. Learning tricks is also challenging. A lot of the times, I’ll get frustrated. Doing tricks just doesn’t work out sometimes, but I’ll always keep trying until I get it.

Despite the negative stereotypes that skateboarders often face, the skateboarding culture at Tino has developed into a welcoming community where skaters of different levels can bond over their shared hobby. Skateboarding may not always be recognized as a conventional hobby, but it is definitely one that has brought all kinds of students together. 


Thumbnail Image Courtesy of Ncapamaggio

The Legacy of Alan Rickman

Caroline Gee

On Jan. 14th, Alan Rickman passed away among friends and family after a short battle with cancer. An English actor and director, Rickman is primarily known for his roles as Hans Gruber in Die Hard and Severus Snape in the Harry Potter film series. Rickman first received praise for his role as Vicomte de Valmont in the stage production of Les Liaisons Dangereuses in 1985, for which he received a Tony Award nomination. Since then, Rickman has gone on to play a wide variety of characters in films: the Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, Harry in Love Actually, Colonel Brandon in Sense and Sensibility, and Alexander Dane in Galaxy Quest. Although celebrated for his superb acting skills, Rickman has also been admired off-screen as a deeply caring and empathetic person. His distinguished film roles and his compassionate personality have inspired numerous CHS students as they grew up watching him perform. 
Watch The Prospector’s video featuring CHS students’ reactions to Alan Rickman’s career and recent death. 


David Bowie - Remembering the Music

Alex Shieh

On Jan. 10th, David Bowie died at age 69 after an 18-month battle with cancer. Due to his infinitely musical transformations, Bowie was often known as one of the most influential singer-songwriter and producer of his time, teaching generations of musicians about the power of drama, images, and persona. While Bowie’s personality and character changed dramatically from time to time, his songs were almost always about being an outsider. In 1969, Bowie published his first hit song, “Space Oddity”. In the following years, Bowie published many more singles, two of which made it to No. 1 on Billboard Hot 100, “Fame” in 1975 and “Let’s Dance” in 1983. In 1998, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. On Jan. 8th, two days before he died and also his birthday, Bowie published his final album, Blackstar, which is currently No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart. 

While Bowie undoubtedly influenced many musicians, he also served as an important model for his fans. In fact, several of these fans are teachers at CHS. Watch The Prospector's video highlighting various teacher's reactions to Bowie's legacy and recent death.