Entertainment: Best of 2016



Star Wars Day: May the fourth be with you

May the force be with you. First released in 1977, the movie series “Star Wars” has since become a huge hit worldwide, having generated a total of around $6.5 billion in box office revenue. It has enraptured many with its intriguing characters, neatly designed graphics and refreshingly unpredictable storyline.

Star Wars even has a holiday — May 4th. Surprisingly, this holiday was actually started by the election of British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. When Thatcher was elected in 1979, two years after the first Star Wars movie had come out, Thatcher’s political party, the Conservatives, placed a message in the London Evening News to congratulate her, “May the fourth be with you, Maggie. Congratulations.”

Since then, May 4 has been celebrated as “Star Wars Day”, and Star Wars has continued to make an enormous impact around the world. This impact can even been seen at MVHS. Three Star Wars fans describe why they like Star Wars.

star wars

Star Wars Day: May the fourth be with you

Ready, Set, Vote!

Screen Shot 2016-03-22 at 5.36.29 PMFeb. 3, 1870. It was on this day that the 15th Amendment was ratified, allowing every man no matter what “race, color or previous condition of servitude” to vote. Although it took much longer for women’s suffrage, eventually they too were able to vote and have a say in the government.

A variety of factors affect the voting process, and influence the voter into selecting a certain candidate, especially when it comes to younger voters. Cornell University’s ROPER Center for Public Opinion Research reported that in the 2012 presidential election between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, the 18-29 age group consisted of 19 percent of all voters, the second lowest number of voters.

Senior Nirupama Chandrasekhar, who cannot vote in this election due to the lack of an American citizenship, strongly encourages other students to do so as they have the opportunity.

“Whether they don’t have faith in the political system, whether they’re just lazy or not interested, I think that’s a real crime, honestly,” Chandrasekhar said, “We are living in this country and I don’t think you have any right to complain about what the government is doing if you haven’t gone out and voted.”

Senior Shruti Shankar, a future voter in the final presidential election, claims sometimes people just aren’t interested in reading up on the candidates’ stances. She believes that it is important for students to be aware of political stances and actions, not simply to sound intelligent but also to maintain strong background information that can be used to make an informed vote.

“People don’t really know who they’re voting for. It’s more the mob mentality thing, which is pretty scary if you think about it,” Shankar said. “Because if enough people say they’re going to vote for a certain candidate, chances are twenty other are going to follow.”

And the media is an extremely influential factor in the voting process because of its ability to affect the public’s perception of the different candidates and their stances. However, there are some discrepancies in various news organizations’ reporting of winners of debates and state polls.

Fortune magazine described how “CNN, which hosted the debate, wrote that Clinton ‘proved without a doubt’ why she’s currently the Democratic frontrunner; Forbes bestowed letter grades, placing the former Secretary of State at the top of her class with an ‘A-’; The National Journal claims that the she won simply because she is a strong debater and Bernie Sanders is not.”

Government teacher Ben Recktenwald believes students may be extremely influenced by social media, especially younger voters.

“Trump, for example, a lot of the stuff that comes out of him is just tweets. Like, really? How can you express some sophisticated idea on policy in a tweet? And that’s becoming the trend.” Recktenwald said. “A lot of people are getting their information on elections based on really tightly compartmentalized pieces of information.”

Chandrasekhar believes that another important factor in the voting process is the role teachers and parents play in influencing their students to look for certain values or advantages in candidates. Because parents may hold their own strong political viewpoints, they can instill some of those values in their children, ultimately influencing their child’s vote.

Another information source is school, where some history and government classes directly involve teaching students about the struggles for rights in the past centuries, highlighting how hundreds of historical figures have affected the voting and governmental process today.

“I think in US history, our whole job is to expose that process,” History teacher Robbie Hoffman said. “And the rights people didn’t have and their goal and triumph to obtain those rights.”

Furthermore, some teachers try to give students more insight on the presidential candidates. They will inform students about the different plans that the presidential candidates are looking to implement. In his AP Government classes, Recktenwald provides students with quizzes that determine how close their values match with those of all the candidates.

“One of the nice things about government, is that what you’re talking about in the class is what’s really happening,” Recktenwald said. “In theory, every student when they leave this classroom should be highly qualified to vote, because that’s the whole point of Government — getting you prepared for voting.”

For Leadership…

Students not only have the chance to vote on a national level, but also on a local level. Every year, students have the chance to elect class officers who will make decisions and organize events such as dances and rallies for the entire class.

In the past, complaints about class office and Leadership have arisen with students questioning the amount of effort the Leadership committees put into organizing entertaining events, raising money or motivating students during rally week. However, the final results are not the only thing students criticize.

In a survey of 274 students, 82 percent of students believe that popularity is a factor in elections. Senior class vice president Ahmad Ali-Ahmad also firmly believes that popularity is extremely vital in class elections.

“I would say popularity is 100 percent the main contributing factor to someone winning,” Ali-Ahmad said, “you vote for your friend, or you vote for the person you know the best. Maybe it’s because I’ll do a good job, but most likely it’s because of name recognition or for knowing or being friends with people.”

In the way that many potential voters do not know everything about a presidential candidate, many students are not aware of the what exactly the separate leadership classes do.

According to senior Emma Pickett, a member the Student Life committee, all the events planned are to ensure that students have something to look forward to or can pursue the actions they want, such as raising money for clubs or similar.

“All the events we plan, and all the time we spend — I’ve had to miss practices, games, and different things or family time,” Pickett said. “I’ve sacrificed a lot for leadership, and it’s not for leadership, it’s for the school.”

Ready, Set, Vote!

Sophomore creates math tournaments for low-income family students

Screen Shot 2016-03-02 at 2.08.05 PMThe moment sophomore Emily Su walked into the engineering summer program which her two engineer parents had signed her up for, she noticed one thing. Boys. Everyone was a boy.

“I walked in and every single student, and every single TA, and every single teacher was a boy,” Su said. “So when I went home, I asked my parents if they signed me up for an all boys summer camp.”

This memory from the summer before third grade has been ingrained in Su’s mind ever since. When brainstorming for her Girl Scout Gold Award, an award Girl Scouts receive by creating a sustainable project which can benefit the entire community, this same memory popped up in her head again. With the lingering memory of that engineering camp, Su decided that she wanted her project to be STEM related, as she wants to get more people involved in these fields.

Su’s recently created non-profit and Gold Award, Silicon Valley Math Circle, is targeted toward providing underprivileged students from low-income families with a chance to foster interest in STEM related fields in a non-classroom and applicable setting. This organization looks to host math tournaments, and Su plans for the first tournament to be for girls only, a decision spurred by that same summer memory.

“I feel like when you can just teach something straight out of a textbook, it’s not as interesting as if you can compete in it, or have fun while you’re doing it,” Su said. “And I feel like if kids have that opportunity, they might see that in a different light.”

Sophomore Emily Su
Sophomore Emily Su

Along the way, Su received quite a bit of help from others, especially her Girl Scout directors, who really challenged her and questioned the sustainability of the project. These directors helped Su to develop her idea and refine all aspects to it. One of these directors from the Girl Scout Office who helped Su was Sue Chen.

Su states that Chen is very good at planning and organizing events, so she knows what works and what doesn’t work. Chen helped review Su’s project, and also gave her advice on many things such as the best way to conduct the tournaments and what venues would be available on short notice, but for the most part, she says that Su had developed the majority of the project by herself.

The one worry Chen does have about SV Math Circle is who they’re targeting. She states that it might be hard to get the underprivileged students to participate in these tournaments.

“For the underprivileged kids, I think it will be hard to get them interested in this because the family culture may not be very familiar with what can be done with math,” Chen said. “We need to provide them better understanding as to why they should get into STEM, because it can apply to a lot of things in life, and give them more choices in the future.”

SV Math Circle has challenged Emily in many different ways, and forced her to think out of the box, and grow as both a person and a leader. In the future, she hopes to make SV Math Circle a club on campus and expand it to other schools as well, so more people can work together toward helping the underprivileged students.

“I really want to empower underprivileged students,” Su said, “And encourage them to pursue what they enjoy through a different venue.”

Sophomore creates math tournaments for low-income family students

Pouring through El Niño

Giant puddles in the middle of the Academic Quad, the sound of droplets pounding against the roof, wet and muddy socks tossed into the laundry — these are all signs of El Niño, a series of climatic changes that are hitting the Equatorial Pacific because of fluctuating ocean temperatures, a phenomenon that takes place every seven or so years. These changes can be seen on a large scale, but they are also evident on the MVHS campus.

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                                                                    The basics       

Screen Shot 2016-03-22 at 4.56.49 PMNormally, in the Pacific Ocean, the wind pushing the water brings up cold water from the depths of the ocean, and pushes warmer water toward the west. During El Niño, because the winds get weaker, the cold water is left at the bottom of the ocean, and results in an overall increase in temperature for the ocean. AP Environmental Science teacher Andrew Goldenkranz states that the increase in ocean temperature then brings about warmer and wetter weather.

Although it seems like Cupertino should welcome the extra rain, especially after the long drought, the sudden influx of rain may actually bring undesirable consequences instead. The biggest detriment would be to the dried-out soil.   

 “We want [soil]to act like a sponge: to hold water well. Just think of a sponge at home, and if you threw a whole bunch of water on a super dried-out sponge, it’s not going to soak in very well,” Goldenkranz said. “It would immediately start to run off, and the ground is going to react in exactly the same way.”




Clubbing through the rain

Rain causes disturbances to different clubs who hold activities outdoors. Some continue to do what they normally would, while others are forced to cancel activities until the rain subsides.

For example, Biken Club usually has rides every Sunday morning on either the Steven Creek trail or up to the mountains. However, when it’s raining, it’s too risky to bike in the rain.Screen Shot 2016-03-22 at 5.24.53 PM

“It’s not safe for people to bike, especially if you’re going downhill, it’s easy to slip,” co-president junior Rishit Gundu said. “Visibility safety is a big issue, because there’s wind and rain in your eyes and face.”

Ultimate frisbee, on the other hand, continues practices and after school games on Friday even if itís raining. However, they need to make certain adjustments.

“Attire is important. When it rains, it’s ideal to have cleats, and if you don’t have cleats, you’re going to be slipping a lot, because it’s going to be wet,” director of public relations sophomore Ryan Loke said. “Rain also makes the disk kind of wet, which makes it harder to throw and catch because it’s slippery.”

Pouring through El Niño

Campus Question: Are the clocks really three minutes early?


The bell rings in the MVHS library, a signal for studying and chattering students to finally go home. The clock reads 3:00, right on the dot. But a quick glance at a phone or laptop clock tells a different story — in reality, it’s 2:57.

Before entering MVHS, many students are informed that the clocks run three minutes faster than standard time. That’s partly true. And partly not.

According to Facilities Manager Chris Kenney, all the clocks at MVHS are controlled by a single system separate from the standard time. The clocks have to be reset every three weeks because they run faster than normal time, and if they aren’t reset, the inaccuracy will continue to grow. That’s why the clocks may sometimes read two or three minutes ahead, and in rare cases, be right on track with our phone and laptop clocks.

The nonuniform nature of MVHS clocks is something students adapt to, and although two minutes doesn’t seem like much, it may be the difference between being forced to go the office for a tardy and making it to your seat right when the bell rings.

“Sometimes, I don’t know when I’m late or not, and I have to constantly try to listen to hear if the first bell has rung or not,” senior Sunaya Krishnapura said. “It’s really difficult to tell when the clocks are slow or fast, because they constantly change.”

Even though the volatile nature of MVHS clocks can be inconvenient at times, replacing it would actually be a very complicated — and expensive — process.

“It’s not like changing out a single clock, because it’s a system that has to do with the announcement system, and the speaker system,” Kenney said, “You can’t just replace the clocks. You’d have to replace everything.”

MVHS clocks may always be a little bit ahead, or a little bit behind, or neither, because it’s the way the system is structured. At least now, the myth of clocks being ahead has been broken.

Campus Question: Are the clocks really three minutes early?

The road less travelled: life as a boarding school student

Additional reporting by Caitlyn Tjong

Illustration by Elizabeth Han.
Illustration by Elizabeth Han.

It was several hours in the bus to the water park, but junior Oeishi Banerjee did not mind. Each time the bus lurched to a stop, she’d run outside with her friends to gaze wide-eyed, breathless, at the hills and the towns and India. This was the first day she’d ventured from the gated yellow enclosures, the prayers and meditative hours by candlelit bowls, in their small school with its green gabled roofs, nestled between the foothills of the Himalayan mountains and 16 km from the town of Dharamshala in Northern India.

“Whenever the bus would stop, we would run outside and explore, and it was like seeing the real world,” Banerjee said. “It was such a change from being at school everyday and doing the schedule. Just going on that field trip made us independent…it was just being free.”

For Banerjee and others, boarding school was a very unique experience. It’s very different from the normal public school routine and students are able to gain many eye opening experiences, some good, and some not as good. Surprisingly, students are actually willing to attend the boarding school far away from their family and friends. Even though they realize that they’ll be leaving behind the many precious memories they’ve made, they’re willing to take the chance to become more independent and gain valuable knowledge.

Students at MVHS generally follow the same daily routine: Wake up 7:30, go to school for around eight hours, and then go home at 3. To them, school and home are completely separate entities. However, for some students, school is their home. They wake up, go to school, and go back home, all in the same place.

Making the move

It was in the fourth grade that Banerjee was sent to a boarding school in the Himalayas. Her mother had been a part of the religion Sahaja Yoga and introduced the religious boarding school to her young daughter, hoping that Banerjee would grow up “pure and innocent.”

The boarding school was extremely prohibitive and regulated almost every aspect of the students’ lives. However, Banerjee said that the strict control the boarding school exerted over the students only encouraged their rebellious and risk taking side. It was considered “cool” to not pay attention during rituals and meditation sessions, “cool” to do the drugs and alcohol that the school so strongly urged against and “cool” to not believe in Sahaja Yoga.

“I think that being that sheltered makes the students rebel a lot more,” Banerjee said. “Apparently alcohol was a big thing at the school. Drugs were big too. We’d get ten to twenty rupees for allowance, but there were girls sleeping with guys for money. It just wasn’t a good atmosphere.”

“I think that being that sheltered makes the students rebel a lot more. Apparently alcohol was a big thing at the school. Drugs were big too. We’d get ten to twenty rupees for allowance, but there were girls sleeping with guys for money. It just wasn’t a good atmosphere.”

On the other hand, for senior Pranav Kawatra, the decision to attend the Delphian School, a small boarding school in Sheridan, Oregon, was a decision made completely by himself. He appreciated the philosophy of the school, and decided to ultimately attend because he felt like he wasn’t getting what he wanted out of MVHS. Too great of an emphasis was placed on grades, and he never felt like he wasn’t gaining knowledge.

“School wise, I feel more opened up,” Kawatra said. “I can choose what I want to study, and it’s a lot more immersive.”

Sophomore Seena Ashtiani will also be leaving at the beginning of second semester this year to attend the Army and Naval Academy, a private military boarding school, in San Diego, so that he can improve upon his education, as well as work habits.

“I tend to slack off if there’s no one there to push me, so that’s the main thing,” Ashtiani said, “[My parents] want me to learn discipline, so I have self discipline.”


Two different worlds

Even though the boarding school was extremely restrictive, at the time, Banerjee enjoyed it very much. The students at the boarding school were her friends, and her family. However, in seventh grade, Banerjee’s parents got divorced, and Banerjee returned to the public school life, a life that was foreign to her after three years of a very secluded and protected life. She was extremely shocked by how different the environment was, and the way people dressed, talked and interacted with each other.

“Coming into seventh grade, everything was really different. In the locker room the first day, people were changing, and I was just…” Banerjee said, making a disgusted noise, “And then Human Growth and Development in seventh grade. That was just oh my god. Everything was very conservative before, and then I just came into public school and everything was different.”

The transition for Banerjee was a pretty rough one, as the environments were polar opposites. Kawatra, though, was glad to leave public school, and enter the Delphian School, where he was able to find what he couldn’t at MVHS.

“The focus [at Delphian School] is not on getting the best grades, but rather it’s on learning what you’re studying.” Kawatra said. “I actually have no idea what I studied in biology, but I got As in both semesters.”

Although Kawatra believes boarding school was the right decision, he misses certain aspects of public school that boarding school is unable to give him. For one thing, his social life at the boarding school is very limited. He says that even though he’s constantly surrounded by his friends, he can’t go out and do as much as he could at public school. Basically, he just talks with his friends, watches a movie, or studies, but that’s it.

The right choice

Even though Kawatra misses the social aspect of MVHS, he’s still happy with his choice to go to boarding school. It’s given him what he wants. He admits that boarding school is not for everyone, and that whether it’s right or not for someone depends completely on the person. For example, Kawatra believes that his younger brother would not be able to attend a boarding school because his younger brother relies too much on their parents.

“There’s ups and downs to both [boarding school and public school], and I’m happy with my choice,” Kawatra said, “It’s the right choice for me for sure. I’m glad I came here.”

“There’s ups and downs to both [boarding school and public school], and I’m happy with my choice. It’s the right choice for me for sure. I’m glad I came here.”

Ashtiani, even though forced to leave behind his close friends and family, also remains optimistic about going to the military academy. He says that in his free time, and over breaks, he will definitely come back and visit the family that he has made at MVHS. He knows that the boarding school is going to benefit him, and teach him to be more independent, as he has always had a strong dependency on his family, being the “lazy one who sits back and relaxes.”

On the other hand, Banerjee is happy right here. She has so much more freedom, and is allowed to make her own choices, rather than having choices be made for her.

“There’s so many options here. I can do whatever I want. It’s great, and I love that feeling,” Banerjee said, “In the Himalayas, you have no options. You’re stuck there, you can’t go anywhere because you have no money, and every place is like hours away.”

Boarding school was definitely a very significant part of Banerjee’s life, and even though at the time, it was very enjoyable, a harsher light was shed after she left the boarding school and came to see how things at the boarding school really were. She realized how much opportunity and freedom she had missed out on in those years locked away in the Himalayas. She regrets that she was unable to always have the freedom she has now. Public school was definitely the better choice for her.

“I don’t think about [boarding school] that much. It might’ve changed me as a person, but I remember so little of everything before seventh grade,” Banerjee said.,” It was just a fresh start, and everything started over, and I was just this whole new person.”

Boarding school is like an entirely separate life to Banerjee, a life that she has happily forgotten. What matters is that she’s here now, and this is her life now.

The road less travelled: life as a boarding school student