TEDx host first official conference

T

EDx Club hosted their first conference in two years, last Friday, April 6. The on-campus club shows TED talks, discusses current events and encourages many students to share their perspectives on certain events or ideas.  

Friday’s event welcomed six student and three adult speakers, all presenting on personal experiences that audience members could relate to or learn from.

“We are holding this event to echo TED’s message: ideas worth spreading,” said Junior Arleen Lui, an organizer of the event.

Organizers explained how they chose people who discussed different topics so there would be a variety throughout the presentations.

“Part of the thing with TED Talks is that they are personal, so in order to engage the audience you have to be personal,” said Junior Ashna Reddy. “We look for a message but also how the speaker got there, so it’s kind of like a personal talk but also with a message that can relate to the audience.”

There was one TEDx conference last year, however this was TEDx club’s first official conference, which they had to get licensed by the official TED talk company,  said senior Sahaj Putcha who is also a TEDx officer.

Senior Brandon Young gave a speech entitled “One Voice, One Action. It makes all the difference.” In his speech, he reflected volunteering he had done to train a little boy with autism in soccer. He also spoke openly about his own life struggles such as living with ADHD and the lessons he has learned from his experiences.

Young advocated for making a change in the community by reaching out to those in need and making a positive impact on their lives.

Junior Kathy Rodriguez who attended though that it was an eye-opening experience.

“I thought it was inspiring to hear stories of people who have experienced life changing moments. The speeches made me look at many things from a new perspective too,” said Rodriguez.

“Our school is so diverse and there are all these different thoughts and ideas that everyone has, so we just try to bring that together in this club,”said Putcha.

According to the officers, the desired  outcome for the first official TEDx conference was to inspire audience members to share their stories and advocate for diversity in thought. Rodriguez confirmed that the conference did exactly that.

“I hope the audience will kind of have a deeper understanding of the world and themselves when they leave,” said Reddy.

TEDx club held first official conference in cafeteria last Friday.

Former WEA officer speaks about abusive relationships

Women’s Empowerment Ambassadors (WEA) hosted a meeting at lunch on Thursday, March 15 with a former club officer, Tingyee Chang.

Chang is a junior at the University of Southern California and is currently studying public policy. She chose to discuss this topic, she said, because of a roommate who had recently gotten out of an emotionally abusive relationship. Her shock and anger in response to what happened caused her to share her roommate’s story with everyone she knew, Chang said.

Women’s Empowerment Ambassadors members listened to a former officer explain the differences between healthy, unhealthy, and abusive behaviors in a relationship.

“When I shared this story with people, I noticed that a lot of people had expressed that they shared similar experiences. Either they had realized the relationship was abusive and left or they had realized after they left the relationship,” Chang said. “The proportion of people who shared similar experiences was overwhelming and I knew I had to do something.”

WEA´s method of bringing awareness to certain topics inspired her to share the story of her roommate there, she said.

“This was the place that I had gotten my start as a young feminist and just simply as a young person and I thought that many students could benefit from this topic,” Chang said.

Her presentation included the story of her roommate and what the differences between a healthy, unhealthy and abusive relationship are. Chang continuously stressed the importance of communication, consent and power within any relationship, be it platonic or romantic.

Her presentation also included a short activity at the end where two pairs were given a slip of paper with a certain relationship behavior and had to identify whether it was healthy, unhealthy or abusive behavior.

In terms of why this topic is so important, especially amongst young people, Chang discussed the lack of education and conversation surrounding this topic.

“One thing that I always notice is that many people are not aware of what sexual assault or rape looks like and so they come out of these sexual experiences feeling bad about themselves, only to learn later on that that was rape or that was sexual assault,” Chang said. “If we can spread awareness about what the rules and parameters are, then we can prevent this behavior early on.”

WEA has constantly strived to educate and encourage discussion with their members when choosing their topics, Elena Kamas said. Officers Dan Cohen and Elena Kamas explained how they chose their discussion topics and what the club’s goal is.

“There are things that we know that we need to talk about as a feminist organization,” Cohen said. “Things that are happening in the media, big debates right now, things happening in legislation. But we also place an emphasis on things that have a viable application right now. We try to focus on things that are happening daily, and what we can do about it.”

Cohen participated in the activity and shared his thoughts about the presentation as a whole and what he got from it.

“I don’t think that half the world’s population is a monster and yet I do think that the entire world’s population is capable of doing really bad things and we have to be aware of that,” Cohen said. “Today we like to say that there are the good guys and the bad guys. In relationships, however, there is that funky gray area. Anyone is capable of being a perpetrator and we need to bring awareness to that.”

Kamas shared her feelings about why WEA is a special platform for topics of discussion.

“One thing that I always admired about WEA even before I was an officer is that they were never afraid to talk about anything,” Kamas said. “If a topic was deemed important, that we will bring awareness to it … With WEA, people are really supporting each other, they are caring for each other, and they’re listening to each other. Education and understanding is our main priority and the fact that we made that our foundation makes us different from other clubs.”

Movie night makes debut

The class of 2021 and 2020 class officers hosted the school’s first ever Movie Night on March 9.

“We wanted to boost school spirit before Battle of the Classes (BOTC) and create a fun event that wasn’t a dance because we already have so many dances,” sophomore secretary Sophia Chen said.

The event welcomed students from all grade levels and entry was free.

“The turnout for Sadies has slowly been declining,” Chen said. “Last year, when we were freshman and tried to throw Sadies, we only profited like $100 to $150 per class. The profit was really low and we put a lot of time into planning, like booking the DJ, contacting businesses for food and fencing.” 

To host Movie Night, the freshman and sophomore class officers coordinated with Assistant Principal Brian Dong, Athletic Trainer Daniel Yusim and other administrators, freshman social manager Rohan Zamvar said.

As part of the planning process, class officers contacted local businesses such as Whole Foods, Sprouts, Starbucks, Pasta Market, The Counter and Tpumps for food donations, Chen said.

In addition to using social media platforms, such as Facebook and Instagram, freshman and sophomore class officers wrote in chalk all over campus to advertise Movie Night, Zamvar said.

“I think it was really fun, honestly,” freshman Jaime Milne said. “It’s really great having people together watching silly movies. I really liked [movie night] because a lot more people are going to be into it other than just standing around without dancing.”

Students march to protest gun violence at nationwide walkout

The walk out continued on after the 17 minutes, as students walked to FHS and to city hall.

“Something needs to be done,” sophomore Ellora Lasker said. Lasker was one of many students who participated in the National School Walkout in the wake of the recurring mass shootings.

The nationwide protest, with goals to invoke change in the current gun laws, was slated to last 17 minutes long, each minute accounting for every victim of the Parkland school shooting. The HHS walkout started as a Facebook event created by sophomores Shama Tawakol and Romy Bornstein.

“My family’s from Egypt and I go there every summer … [people ask] is it safe going there, but if you look at the statistics there is a higher chance of being killed here at school than walking the streets of Egypt,” Tawakol said. “If my walking out of class for 17 minutes can do anything to change it, then [that is what I will do].”

At 10 a.m., students gathered in the Horseshoe, some wearing orange and holding signs to show solidarity with the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting victims. As the walkout extended past the duration of brunch, and for some the duration of their fourth periods, students were marked tardy or absent to class.

Some students returned to their fourth period classes following the end of the 17 minutes, while others continued to march. Despite harsh weather conditions, senior Lavender Payne and her friends led the extended walkout to Sunnyvale city hall. Payne said they had not originally planned to extend the march, but felt as though 17 minutes “was not enough,” and wanted to create a larger impact.

Juniors Charles Crane and Namiko Turner said the two got in contact with Mayor Glenn Hendricks as they thought going to city hall was a good idea.

“Once Cianna Burse got the group moving, we ran from the back to the front, and I thought that we should make this something by going to city hall, so I called the mayor,” Crane said.

Turner said she considered the overall walkout to be a success, since many students continued on with the march, and were able to listen to each other’s voices. The chance for people to get together allowed for not only the students to see that their voices could be heard, but also adults and city officials as well.

“And when we finally got there, everyone stood there and listened to what was being said, with high energy,” Turner said.

At city hall, students from HHS, FHS and De Anza gathered together to hear what the mayor had to say. He spoke about what the city of Sunnyvale is already doing, in terms of laws for gun control. Then he let students who led the group to city hall give short statements on why they took part in the walkout and what they want to see changed, not just in Sunnyvale, or California, but in the rest of the country.

“On the media, the government and adults seem to think the youth does not know what they are talking about,” Payne said. “… In reality, we are the ones living through it. Education is important … if we come to school to learn, we should be able to learn in a safe environment,” Payne said.

According to Principal Greg Giglio, students are allowed to exercise their First Amendment rights during school hours without fear of punishment, as per the 1969 Supreme Court ruling. This statement was reiterated by a districtwide email sent out by Superintendent Polly Bove. Giglio said punishment would only incur should a student be disruptive.

Giglio said he commends event creators Bornstein and Tawakol for keeping a peaceful protest. On the Facebook event, Bornstein and Tawakol gave guidelines outlining appropriate behavior students should follow during the march, such as carrying signs free from hateful comments.

Teachers supervised the walkout along with students to ensure safety. Giglio said teachers were allowed to wear clothing to show their support for said cause, but could not explicitly participate in the march alongside students.

“I think it’s great students are walking out and standing up for what they believe in and pressuring legislators to make changes,” history teacher Andrea Yee said.

Choir receives perfect score at CMEA

O

n March 10 HHS Choir performed at the California State Music Association (CMEA) festival hosted at Saratoga High School. The group achieved the highest possible scoring of unanimous superior.

The judges unanimously decided that Homestead choir is superior.

A unanimous superior is when all three of the judges give the performance a perfect score, Senior Ivy Janes said. Getting the highest scoring possible was a step up from previous performances, she said.

Last year, the chamber choir scored a superior, Janes said. For a superior, only two of the three judges grade the performance as superior.

“I wasn’t really that nervous… it was a nice space to perform and I think we did really well,” Freshman Verrue Vummidi said. However, confidence was not what led them to the perfect score.

“We practiced for weeks before the CMEA happened, it was just constant practice of the songs,” said Vummidi.  

“[Getting he unanimous superior] felt really good, it restored my faith in the choir,” said Vummidi.

Choir is going to another CMEA event in May this year, Janes said.

New off-campus club addresses diversity in books

J unior Jane Andrews has recently started a new club off-campus called DiversiTea. The club was created to address how books today should be more diverse.

DiversiTea is a book club that meets in the Cupertino public library and is open for all to join. It is not affiliated with the school, Andrews said.

DiversiTea aims to foster discussion about diverse books.

At the first meeting, they had tea and snacks while reading and discussing what they read. So far, they have read “Boy Meets Boy” by David Levithan. They plan on reading “Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda” by Becky Albertalli and watching the corresponding “Love Simon” movie, junior Isabel Serrato, a member of the club, said.

The club mainly focuses on reading diverse books, discussing exactly what makes that book diverse and how they feel about it, Andrews said.

“[A diverse book] is a book that is written about characters that stray away from the norm in some way. The norm that we established for ourselves being a neurotypical, heterosexual, cis white male,” Andrews said.

Librarian Amity Bateman said she is excited about the creation of DiversiTea and further discussion of the topic.

“There are a lot of great young adult books coming out written by … people coming from a lot of different backgrounds,” Bateman said. “And that hasn’t been the case in the past. Even when there were diverse characters, they were often written by straight white people who were kind of imagining an experience and not pulling off of authentic experiences.”

The club sees diversity in books as significant because society is diverse and everyone should be represented, Andrews said.

“I think that if we only read books about people like us, we think that is everyone’s experience. If we never ever see people like us represented in literature, and this is important in entertainment too … then we think that our experience is obscure and that it’s so not mainstream that it’s not even worthy of being represented,” Bateman said.

However, DiversiTea also sees diverse books as a way to expand one’s perspective on things.

“If you’re in a friend group of all similar people, you only know what you know. But then you read a book that expands your worldview. It’s important to know what’s out there. Whether it’s a diverse book in a racial diversity way or LGBTQ+ stuff, it just allows you to understand more people,” Serrato said.

Additionally, Bateman said she feels that books should share how a community actually is in real life. Stories should unfold where these differences are just differences between personal backgrounds and not the problem, Bateman said

In the end, DiversiTea believes that characters should be portrayed as they are in real life. If they are based off of stereotypes, then they are not diverse, Andrews said.

“We talk about, ‘hey this book had a black character. Was the black character portrayed well, was this offensive, was this stereotypical?’ And that’s something that needs to be evaluated,” Andrews said.

Khanna hosts youth focused town hall on gun control

Parkland student, Golden State Warriors coach spoke alongside Khanna

Newark Memorial High School hosted Rep. Ro Khanna’s (D-CA) town hall meeting on March 12 to give teenagers a platform to speak about gun control.  Khanna was accompanied by Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr and Matt Deisch, a student activist from Parkland.

The event began at 3:45 p.m., with a line around the building beginning an hour before. High school students were allowed immediate entry inside the school gym, while adults waited outside. Inside, the gym was set up with chairs and cameras from various news outlets.

Mission San Jose High School student Sonia Tasser said she attended the meeting because gun control is something she’s very passionate about.

“To have the feeling that you’re not safe at school is something that should never happen,” Tasser said.

The meeting began with opening remarks from Khanna, followed by speeches from Kerr and Deisch. Then the floor was opened for students to ask questions to Khanna, Kerr or Desich, with press questions after. Congressman Mike Thompson, who chairs the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, closed the meeting with final remarks.

The entire meeting emphasized the importance of youth involvement.

“Your title doesn’t matter,” Khanna said. “What matters is your authenticity and passion.”

Kerr compared today’s movement for gun control to the civil rights movement and Vietnam war protests, both of which were led by students.

“For the first time it feels like something is happening,” Kerr said.

Other subjects addressed included bipartisanship, arming teachers and the Second Amendment.

When Deisch spoke, he focused on means of action for students to take. After sharing his experience with the Parkland shooting, he asserted the need for youth to demand actions from leaders.

“Register to vote, take this to the ballots, so we can have leaders that care about us and not their wallets,” Deisch said.

Deisch also mentioned the march against gun violence on March 24. There are 3.5 million people registered to march so far, he said.

When Congressman Thompson concluded the meeting, he cited multiple organizations, such as Brady Campaign, Giffords Campaign, Everytown USA and speakforsafety.org, to get educated from and involved with.

Deisch said using resources to receive more information is important, and to keep learning more about the cause.

“They don’t want us to talk about it, they want us to forget … I promise you we won’t,” Deisch said.

Student government, administration honor victims and take steps to improve school safety

Friday, March 9 was dedicated to commemorate the 17 fallen victims of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, according to an email sent through School Loop.

“The subject of the National School Walkout day came up. We wanted to do something that would commemorate the victims and show our support for the families without showing any preference toward the political issue of the gun control,” Vice President of the HHS Class of 2019 Trinity Gao said. “We felt that if we had it on [National School Walkout day], it would send a message of some sort and we didn’t want to be biased towards any side.”

A memorial gallery honoring the victims who lost their lives on February 14 was displayed in the Quad during brunch and lunch. 

“We just hoped that people would be able to see the memorial and be able to understand who these people were, keep their memory going, and not let them be forgotten souls,” Koo said.

A poster board featuring their picture, a short paragraph describing them and an area where people could attach ribbons was dedicated to each victim. Four different colors of ribbons were offered, each color representing a different message, Gao said.

“These are people that need to be remembered, especially in such a tragic event that happened in a school, which is an environment in which students feel safe. These are people just like us. If we can learn their story, then we can better our own school safety,” junior HOP Commissioner Brenden Koo said.

Students were encouraged to retrieve a school safety flyer from their literature classes on Thursday and Friday, according to an email sent through School Loop.

The handout discusses safety procedures students should adhere to in the event of a shooting. It also provides a list of resources to reach out to, including politicians such as Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Sen. Kamala Harris, Rep. Ro Khanna and Rep. Anna Eshoo, and their contact information.

Additionally, the Homestead Student Government and Administration urges students to fill out the school safety survey in order to provide feedback on HHS’ emergency procedures and overall school safety, according to the email sent through School Loop.

Specifically, it asks students to if they feel prepared for an active shooter on campus or community, fire on campus, earthquake and an active bomb or terrorist on campus, according to the school safety survey. There is also a section where students can voice their own suggestions with respect to improvement, efficiency, and awareness about school safety protocol.

“Homestead is a community. Even when such a bad thing happens, we still come together,” Gao said.

Model UN competes in large conference at Berkeley

20  members of the HHS Model United Nations club attended a competitive conference March 2-4 at UC Berkeley. Berkeley MUN is one of the largest conferences the club attends annually.

There are over 2,500 people that attend the conference, which includes high school students, international students and middle schoolers, club officer and junior Michael Wallerius said. 

MUN club spent the weekend competing at large Berkeley conference.

“What Model UN does is it mimics the UN, so the way procedure works in the UN is the same way procedure worked [at BMUN],” officer and junior Dan Cohen said.

For BMUN, the participants had to write a 10-page research paper on their country, Wallerius said. The paper had to include background information, current policies, what the  members plan on doing, or arguing, during the conference and why they plan on doing it.

Cohen and partner Wallerius did very well at BMUN representing Iraq, club Vice President Kary Wang said. They “gaveled,” which is the MUN equivalent of getting first place.

“I think it is important to get feedback from the people running [MUN conferences],” Wallerius said. “One of the reasons we were able to win best delegate was because we took feedback from the chairs after each session.”

The main difficulty with conferences like BMUN is the size, which can lead to less participation by members of MUN, junior and club member Mira Khosla said.

“There were a little less than 200 students in the lecture hall with me. This meant that everything was a little more chaotic and that the students in charge had to put in a lot more effort to keep things running smoothly,” Khosla said.

Contrasting Khosla’s view of the conference, some members believe the size is more exciting because of all of the different opinions and the large debates, Cohen said.

Overall, Wang said, HHS MUN members performed very well.

“I am very proud of the amount of preparation, intellectual discussion, public speaking skills, and more that each of our delegates displayed,” Wang said.

Class teams assemble for anticipated annual school rivalry

Battle of the Classes is approaching quickly and the teams are in the midst of preparing for the events that this spirit week includes.  The events are powderpuff football games, cheer-offs, dance-offs, and rally events. Each event is a competition between the four classes at HHS.

As for preparations, the rally athlete teams have not begun practice. Rally athlete practice only happens at scheduled times when all teams practice together, junior rally athlete Julien Kehon said. Any outside practice for these teams can result in a disqualification.

Powderpuff football, dance and cheer have been practicing on the baseball fields during lunch and as BOTC week is coming closer, final preparations are intensifying for the highly anticipated event, senior and member of the class of 2018’s cheer team Amarali Marashifar said.

“Time is going by really fast so we are kind of starting to run out of time but we can still get everything done,” sophomore dancer Sasha Oberman said regarding the class of 2020’s dance team’s preparations.

The 2018 cheer team has learned a majority of their routine and feels prepared for the spirit week, Marashifar said. They are all energetic and excited to perform for the school.

Marashifar is a member of the Powderpuff cheer team, and described the Class of 2018’s loss last year as “a nightmare.”

“Quoting a mediocre artist, Big Sean: ‘Last night took an L, but tonight I bounce back’ is what the Class of 2018 is trying to make a reality,” Marashifar said.

On the other hand, junior rally athlete Sunny Arattukulam is looking to claim the trophy for the Class of 2019 after last year’s misread of the winner.

“Since last year we were robbed for the win, we all are trying to get revenge. So we are pretty hyped for this year,” Arattukulam said.

Speech and Debate attends Stanford Competition

Members of the HHS Speech and Debate Club attended a competition at Stanford University Feb. 9-11. 17 students participated in the competition and many of them placed extremely well, club member and junior Govind Menon said.

The Stanford Invitational is the largest and one of the most competitive tournaments that the club will attend this year, club president and junior Noah Thurm said.

Stanford is our biggest tournament of the year, with 283 schools from 28 states and 6 countries competing,” Thurm said.

Thurm and his partner, junior Eric Cheng, participated in the Parliamentary event.  They went through three elimination rounds, and made it to Octafinals, the round before quarter finals.

There were two different types of debate: Parliamentary, which is a partner event with a tight 20 minute preparation period and Lincoln-Douglas debate, which is a solo event that involves a 10-15 page case, Menon said.

“The best way to practice debate, in my opinion, is to actually debate with others and gain knowledge from opponents,” Menon said.

Menon and his partner junior Valerie Hu placed in quarterfinals for the Parliamentary event, placing in top eight out of 131 teams.

I became a better speaker that weekend, and developed stronger opinions about certain issues such as the government shutdowns and debt ceiling, standardized testing, and public versus private prisons,” Hu said.