Robertson welcomes second baby

by Lindsay Wu ’20

Science teacher Geoff Robertson and his wife NAME welcomed their second son, Asher Ku Robertson, on Oct. 22.  Asher was born in West Hills Hospital in the San Fernando Valley.  Asher’s middle name, Ku, is in honor of his mother’s maiden name.

Though his son is only a month old, Robertson said that his newborn is very different from his older son.

“Asher is much easier than my first son.  My first son refused to eat, and he still doesn’t, but Asher is definitely hungry and willing,” Robertson said.

Robertson said that the arrival of his newest son has also brought the busiest time of his life.  He returned to school and to teaching all of his classes on Nov. 2.
“He’s still so young.  We haven’t even gone outside yet, but I plan for him to be healthy and happy in the future,” Robertson said.

California Drought: flooded with problems

by Jenny Li ’19

When Keon Mazdisnian ’19 first ran along the LA River for cross country practice, he was amazed at what he saw.

“When I ran, I expected to see the water to where I could touch it. But, it’s not like that.  It doesn’t look like water—it looks like sewage.  There’s nothing really to look at.  I think it’s a shame that there’s a chance for a great river, but we don’t care or put effort into it,” Mazdisnian said.

Prior to that run, Mazdisnian had never realized the full extent of the drought, which he had previously called an “overrated issue.”

Why is the drought considered overrated if it’s worse than people think?  Anja Clark ’19, who moved from England less than two years ago, believes that she is more worried about the drought than most people here.

“When I moved. . .I realized how bad the drought was because the contrast in the amount it rains is so massive. . .People who have grown up here are used to the lack of rain, and they might not realize just how bad the drought is because they don’t think it’s supposed to rain,” Clark said.

Most of our state is in an “extreme to exceptional drought, and the crisis has now entered its fourth year,” according to  The plummet down to Drought Level Four (exceptional drought ranking), the most intense drought on the scale, was incredibly quick. In 2011, only patches of Northern and Southern California were abnormally dry, the Drought Level One.  The maps at the bottom show the quick drop of California’s drought level through the years.

It isn’t just about the lack of rain, however.  The Colorado River, where the ninth grade students rowed just a few months ago, has been a problem for the past century, according to Propublica.  Since 1905, the water divided for the states is less than the amount that actually has flown through the river.  Because of this, not only California, but almost every state to the west of the Rockies, has experienced a drought for the past century.

This feels overrated because people don’t seem to feel the impacts.  A school survey shows that though __% of students believe the drought is a major issue, only __% think that the drought majorly impacts them.

“I really feel like the drought impacts us. . .I don’t think it’s such a big deal.  I don’t think it’s everywhere.  We don’t use that much water,” Christopher Ladreyt ’21 said.

The most we may see is a dried-up lawn, or the inconvenience of having to ask for water before having it served to us immediately.  However, the California drought impacts every single one of us individually; we just don’t realize it. According to the Department of Food and Agriculture, “the state produces nearly half of US-grown fruits, nuts and vegetables.  Across the nation, US consumers regularly purchase several crops produced solely in California.”  Almonds, the second wealthiest commodity in California, earns $5.9 billion dollars and uses 1.1 gallons of water per single almond produced.  With the decrease of water, crops become more valuable, and with the population growing every second, not only California’s grocery markets, but those all over the nation will be too expensive for those who cannot afford it.


Here are Five Tips to Make a Small Impact with Water Usage:

  1. Don’t waste food!

Farmers use up to 80% of the state’s water supply, according to the Washington Post.  To decrease the amount of water needed for lots of crops, decrease the amount of food produced by wasting less food.  Eat all leftovers and try to limit overbuying produce.

  1. Wait to do laundry

Washing machines use the same amount of water when washing one piece of clothing and a full load.  To save water, try to do laundry only when the washing machine is full.

  1. Save shower water

Save the water that is used while waiting for the water warming up in the shower with a bucket, and use it to water the grass outside or flowers around the house.

  1. Take shorter showers

According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, an average American shower uses 2.5 gallons of water per minute.   Taking a five minute shower would use 12.5 gallons and would be better for the environment and the water bill than to take 20 minute showers and use 50 gallons of water.

  1. Turn off the sink

Limit your water usage by turning off the sink while washing hands and brushing teeth.

MS celebrates Spirit Week

By Kaitlyn Musante

Members of the middle school community dressed up in costume for the fourth annual Spirit Week on Oct 20-23. According to Student Council, who ran the event, Spirit Week is meant to excite the community for Homecoming through dress up days, games, a pep rally, and food.

“We changed up the theme days this year, and the overall participation was a lot greater than years before. I think it was amazing to see Friday’s Spirit Day and the number of over-the-top costumes there were, as it was a great example of school spirit and how much everyone loves Harvard-Westlake,” senator Caroline Cook ‘19 said.

This year, students dressed up with their peers for Twin Tuesday, East Coast Prep Wednesday, Throwback Thursday and Spirit Day on Friday. This was the first time both East Coast Prep day and Throwback Thursday have been included in the themed days of Spirit Week. Spirit Day was a common favorite among the three grades.

“My favorite day was Spirit Day because we got to dress up in our Harvard-Westlake colors and show our spirit. There were a lot of rides…and [it] was all really fun,” Jagger Lambert ‘21 said.

The pep rally also featured the annual costume contest. Students and teachers who donned spirited clothing were picked by members of the student council to go up on stage and be a contestant. Rimas Barzdukas ‘20 was named the winner, which was chosen by applause.

In addition, the pep rally featured a lip sync battle, with a faculty team, the Broken Hipsters, and two student teams, the Cheetah Girls and The Malcolm Xers. The Cheetah Girls performed “Cheetah Sisters,” The Malcolm Xers performed “Boys in da Valley” and The Broken Hipsters performed a mix of five songs, including “Shake It Off” and “Can’t Feel My Face.” The Broken Hipsters were declared the winners by audience applause.

Following the pep rally, students were free to participate in the activities that took place on the field, including an obstacle course and dunk tank. Students enjoyed shaved ice and participated in a water balloon toss.

Overall, students enjoyed the event and loved participating in the themed days.

“Spirit Week is a great way to bring the community together and show school pride … I loved dressing up with my classmates, and the pep rally was so much fun,” Julia Smith ‘19 said.

Trends on campus

by Jessa Glassman ’20 and Emma Shapiro ’20

This issue, Trends on Campus is highlighting a hip new skirt, a classic pair of sneakers, a sleek water bottle, and a chic bracelet.

Denim Skirts:

Denim skirts have become popular throughout the school this season. The skirt is versatile and can be worn in both hot and cool weather. The buttons add a new take on a classic skirt, giving the vintage look a modern twist. Not only do most styles of this skirt come with buttons, but they also come in different colors such as plain blue denim, black, white and many more.

“I like denim skirts. I think they are really cute and can be worn a bunch of different ways,” Emily Kornguth ‘20 said.


Hermès Bracelet:

The Hermès bracelet provides students with an elegant yet very colorful and classic piece of jewelry. This bracelet comes in a variety of colors and combinations including the very popular black/gold and black/silver. A negative aspect of the bracelet is its price (around $600) Students have been raving over them for a few years because of their high quality and stylishness. The bangle has an H as a clasp, which symbolizes the brand name. Overall, the Hermès bracelet has populated the wrists of many students.

“I like the Hermès bracelet because it goes with a lot of outfits, and it is durable. It comes in a really nice variety of colors,” Mia Nelson ‘19 said.



Another popular pair of shoes are Vans. They come in many different styles and colors. Vans make the ideal pair of school shoes because of their comfortable fit and basic look. The shoes appeals to both girls and boys. These shoes can easily be paired with any outfit. Vans are a timeless shoe option that will never go out of style.

“I like Vans because they are cheap and they look good,” Ben Shelby ‘20 said.

“I like that they go with everything and that they came out with high tops. They are really comfortable,” Austin Saigal ‘21 said.



S’well bottles

Swell water bottles come in multiple colors and patterns ranging from wood to shiny metallic. This makes them a must have accessory, especially in Los Angeles. S’well bottles also come in three different sizes, which makes them very convenient for everyday and other activities such as sports. S’well bottles are made to stay cold for up to 24 hours, which makes the brand ideal.

“I have 20 S’well bottles, and I love each one more than the next. They keep water cold and look very fashionable,” Carly Wallace ‘20 said.

Top Tracks of 2015

  1. “Hotline Bling” – Drake

Over the last few years, Drake has slowly perfected his sound and flow as a rapper and singer. “Hotline Bling” is a track largely inspired by the Beyonce-approved song “Cha Cha” by Virginian rapper D.R.A.M. Its main melodic element, which samples Timmy Thomas’s “Why We Can’t Live Together,” rightfully sounds like a cellphone ringtone from the early 2000s. Paired with Drake’s emotional delivery, this song is the most memorable and catchy song of the year.

  1. Sweetie Little Jean – Cage the Elephant

The Nashville-based alternative rock band has created some of the most enduring tracks on alternative radio of the past eight years. While producer Dan Auerbach of “The Black Keys” seemed to have had a little too much to do with the writing process of lead single “Mess Around” of Cage’s new album “Tell Me I’m Pretty,” “Sweetie Little Jean” proves more rewarding. The chords used in the chorus are reminiscent of those in their hit “Come a Little Closer,” while the verses contain the bittersweet feel of Beatles’ gem “Penny Lane.” These melodic elements, paired with lyrics by lead singer Matt Shultz about a true story of the murder of a little girl, make this song a highlight of “Tell Me I’m Pretty” and of 2015 as a whole.

  1. “stranger than earth” – Purity Ring

Canadian duo “Purity Ring” released their first album “Shrines” in 2012, featuring producer Corin Roddick’s signature melodic and ethereal hip hop beats. In “stranger than earth,” a trap-inspired cut from Purity Ring’s new album “another eternity,” lead singer Megan James’ beautiful melodies and poetic lyrics, matched with Roddick’s slow-burning instrumental create a both haunting and gorgeous little world similar to their wonderful and eerie first album.

  1. “I Love You Honeybear” (Artist Father John Misty, Album: “I Love You Honeybear”)

Father John Misty’s first song off his breakout album “I Love You Honeybear” is an incredible start to an incredible album. It starts off with a light piano riff, which builds to a whole band backing Misty’s booming voice. Misty writes all of his songs incredibly intelligently, using clever lyrics and a simple chord progression. For these reasons “I Love You Honeybear” is the best song of 2015.


  1. “King Kunta” (Artist: Kendrick Lamar, Album: “To Pimp A Butterfly”)

In March, Kendrick Lamar released “To Pimp A Butterfly,” a critically acclaimed album. The one track that really stands out on this album is“King Kunta.” This is the type of  track that once you hear it, it will be challenging to stop playing it. The song features a precise baseline, and Lamar’s clever lyrics diss his competitors. “King Kunta” is a track that can not be missed.


  1. “I Lost My Mind (+@)” (Artist: Titus Andronicus, Album: “The Most Lamentable Tragedy”)

“I Lost My Mind” begins with lead man Patrick Stickles’ voice over simple piano chords. As the fifth track in the 29-song Punk Rock Opera, it tells the story of an unnamed character losing his mind. The track features a heavy bassline and big guitar chords that bind together to make great backing instrumentals. “I Lost My Mind” is one of the highpoints of this amazing album.



MS celebrates National Cat Day

By Jonathan Chong ’19

Middle school students were able to share their love for cats in the Munger library for National Cat Day on Oct. 29. National Cat Day is a holiday that encourages the public to recognize the number of cats that need to be rescued each year and to celebrate people’s’ overall love and companionship with cats.

The holiday can be celebrated all across the country in many different ways. Some may celebrate by donating, while some may celebrate by adopting a cat.

Middle school students celebrated the holiday in the Munger Library during break. Students and teachers gathered together in the Reference Room where the celebration took place.

The festival was Harvard Westlake’s first ever Annual Cat Day celebration and was run by librarian Elaine Levia.

“This is the first time we’ve celebrated National Cat Day in the library, but we have done other great events! We do plan to have more obscure national holiday celebrations in the library, and certainly another Cat Day,” Levia said.

During the gathering, students had the chance to talk to other cat lovers. Students and teachers were also able to share their videos of cats and display them on the room projector. Snacks were provided to the students and the teachers.

“Cat Day was great. It was cool to hang out with kids I don’t really know and bond over something we like,” Asa Saperstein ’19 said.




Reel Deal

A Brief History of Star Wars by Jack Safir

On May 25, 1977, a film titled “Star Wars” was released at the TCL Chinese Theater in Hollywood. Early reviews indicated that the film would be a financial flop, due to its ridiculous plot and outlandish characters. Those reviews could not have been more wrong, as “Star Wars” would go on to be both a critical and financial success, starting what many believe to be the greatest film franchise of all time. Following the success of “Star Wars,” two more films were released: “Star Wars Episode II: The Empire Strikes Back” (1980) and “Star Wars Episode III: Return of the Jedi” (1983). The two films were just as successful as the first, which later became retitled as “Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope.” Creator George Lucas decided to stop making “Star Wars” films after the first three.

13 years after Return of the Jedi, Lucas released a new trilogy of “Star Wars” films. Rather than continuing the storyline set in the first three films, the new trilogy was a prequel, debuting in 1999 with its first film, “Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace” (the original trilogy became episodes IV,V and VI). “The Phantom Menace” received extremely negative reviews, despite being a box-office success. Critics criticized the film and its sequels (“Episode II: Attack of the Clones” and “Episode III: Revenge of the Sith”) for bad acting from Hayden Christensen, uninteresting plots and annoying characters like Jar Jar Binks. Lucas received much hate for the prequels, and ultimately decided to finally stop making more “Star Wars” films.

Seven years later, on Oct. 30, 2012, Disney purchased Lucasfilms for around $4 Billion and announced that they would make an entirely new “Stars Wars” trilogy. The first film of this trilogy was called “Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens” and was released on Dec. 17, 2015. The film was just as well received as the films in the original trilogy, and as of press time, is the highest grossing film of all time domestically.


“The Force Awakens” Review:

Nostalgia instantly returned as soon as the words “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away….” appeared on screen followed by the infamous theme song and crawl text. We felt like little kids again, and could tell that everyone else in the theatre felt the same way. The film is a nonstop, action-packed, blockbuster adventure. Fans of the franchise will be delighted to see members of the original cast return, like Harrison Ford as Han Solo, Carrie Fisher as Leia Organa and Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker. Although the original cast is back, the main stars of the film are entirely new to the “Star Wars” universe. The new additions to the cast include Daisy Ridley as Rey, John Boyega as Finn and Oscar Isaac as Poe Dameron.

“The Force Awakens” takes place around 30 years after the events of “Return of the Jedi.” The Empire, lead by Emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader, has been destroyed. However, from the ashes of the Empire, a new power has risen. The new threat is called the First Order, led by the sinister Kylo Ren (Adam Driver). Finn, a former Storm Trooper, joins the forces with Rey, a scavenger. The two meet up with Han Solo, Chewbacca and a new droid named BB-8. Together, the group tries to help the Resistance and take down the First Order.

One of the reasons that the prequels were negatively received, was because of the use of CGI. In moderation, CGI can help a film, but it was used too heavily in the prequels. Recognizing this issue, the film’s director, JJ Abrams, decided to use practical effects for “The Force Awakens” resulting in a more natural and realistic look for the film. There is one moment in the movie with many different colorful space characters, while it was strange seeing so much CGI, it didn’t ruin the scene. The smart dialogue and compelling characters saved the moment.

The performances in the movie are amazing. After Ford’s negatively received performance in “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull,” many viewers were worried about seeing him portray Han Solo on the big screen for the first time in over 30 years. Thankfully, Ford gives an incredible performance. However, Han Solo isn’t the star performance in the film. Newcomer, Ridley steals the show. Her portrayal of Rey is one of the best in “Star Wars” history. She is a relatable character, whom the audience wants to see succeed.

After the disaster of the prequels, there was a lot of pressure on the Abrams to make “The Force Awakens” great. Abrams deserves a round of applause for not only making a film that is as good as the original “Star Wars” films, but for making a film that improves on them. “The Force Awakens” blends themes from the original movie with new additions to the universe, and the results are spectacular.

Netflix Guide

Alex’s Pick: “Modern Family” “Undeck the Halls”, Season 1, Episode 10

In this Christmas themed episode, Phil Dunphy (Ty Burrell) and his wife Claire (Julie Bowen), discover a burn mark on their couch and suspect that one of their three children smoked a cigarette. As a punishment, they threaten to take away Christmas if one of the kids does not confess. Meanwhile, Cameron Tucker (Eric Stonestreet) and his partner Mitchell Pritchett (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) take their daughter to the mall to get a picture on Santa’s lap. In their opinion, Santa is not “jolly enough,” which leads to funny consequences, as they invite him home for dinner. Lastly, Jay Pritchett (Ed O’Neill) tries to show his wife Gloria (Sofia Vergara) and son Manny (Rico Rodriguez) some typical American family Christmas traditions as opposed to their Colombian ones. Each intertwined story is hilarious, and this episode in particular really depicts a “modern family” by showing struggles everyday people can relate to throughout the holidays.

Grade: A for a hilarious, honest look at a “modern family”


Lucas: “Family Guy” “Road to the North Pole Part 1” and “Road to the North Pole Part 2”, Season 9, Episode 8 and Season 9, Episode 9

After standing in line at the mall to see Santa and being turned away after a long wait, Stewie sets out, along with a forced Brian, to the North Pole to take his revenge against Santa. After a series of typical disjointed and incohesive Family Guy humor, Brian and Stewie arrive in the North Pole to find a depressed and overworked Santa Claus whose workshop has been reduced to a polluting, inbreeding and grim factory to keep Christmas gifts coming for the growing population. With a nearly dead Santa unable to make the Christmas deliveries, Stewie and Brian attempt the deliveries, breaking into homes and murdering people, doing whatever it takes to deliver all of the presents but still failing. The story culminates with Brian and Stewie showing people the nearly-dead Santa and people realizing that they need to change their ways to preserve Christmas. While the plot can be thin at times and some of the story is graphic and sad, the moral comes out with a message against the abuse and materialism of Christmas.

Grade: B for a strong central plot stained by incohesive jokes and parts of the storyline


Jake: “How I Met Your Mother,” “Little Minnesota,” Season 4 Episode 11

It’s Christmas time and Robin Scherbatsky (Cobie Smulders) is missing her homeland, Canada, more than ever.  As her friends try to cheer her up, Marshall Eriksen (Jason Segel) takes her to his favorite bar in order to celebrate the season with his friends from Minnesota.  Robin quickly makes the bar feel like her own.  Marshall becomes angry at this and outs her as Canadian while the owners kick her out of the bar, as it is for “Minnesotans Only.”  Meanwhile, Ted Mosby’s (Josh Radnor) sister is coming to town, and he is worried about her recklessness and her always asking him for money.  In addition, Ted is also worried about Barney Stinson (Neil Patrick Harris), his “player” best friend, making a move on his sister.  This worry is well-founded, however, as the show depicts a montage of parodied Christmas and Hanukkah songs about Barney being with Ted’s Sister.  This special theme, combined with Ted and Barney’s usual antics, makes for a must watch this holiday season.

Grade: A for a whimsical spin on an entertaining program

JEA/NSPA journalism convention in Orlando

By Jonathan Chong ’19 and Jack Safir ’19

A group of 13 members of the Spectrum staff, 32 members of the Chronicle staff and one member of the VOX staff attended the JEA/NSPA journalism convention in Orlando, Fla. The trip was the school’s first ever joint middle and upper school journalism trip. 46 students in total, all from grades eight to 12, came together to participate in the trip. The trip was run by Spectrum Adviser Steve Chae and Chronicle Adviser Melissa Wantz, along with Introduction to Publications teacher Michael Chavez and the Head of External Relations Ed Hu. The students arrived at Orlando early on the morning of Nov. 12 and returned to Los Angeles four days later on Nov. 15. During the trip, the students took many journalism classes, listened to a keynote speaker and visited amusement parks.

The classes at the convention took place earlier in the day, usually starting at 9 a.m. and ending at around 2 p.m. The courses offered at the convention ranged from interviewing to website creation to podcasting, and were taught by speakers who came from all over the country.

“The classes that I took taught me a lot about how I can become a better journalist. The speakers were incredible, and I really feel like the Spectrum staff was able to bond as a group. I’m really looking forward to applying what we learnt in Orlando to our upcoming issues,” Spectrum Managing Editor Kendall Dees ’19 said.

On the first day of the trip, students attended a seminar where they had the opportunity to listen to Andy Staples, an award winning sports journalist from Sports Illustrated. Staples gave the students an inside look into the world of journalism. He told the story of how he became a sports writer for Sports Illustrated and gave tips for the young journalists to use to improve their writing.

With the time that the students had in between their classes, they were able to visit the Walt Disney World and Universal Studios amusement parks.

“I really liked how we got the opportunity to go to Universal Studios and Disney World after finishing classes at the convention. I thought it was really fun how after we worked hard throughout the day and went to so many amazing classes, we could kick back, relax and enjoy ourselves at Disneyland and Universal. I had a great time learning, and then had a great time on the rides,” Spectrum Managing Editor Claudia Moysset ’19 said.

In the end, the students came back from the convention with improved skills, a drive to serve their school publication in the best way that they could and even win a few awards. Many students used the trip as an opportunity to become familiar with staff members on the Chronicle.

“I thought the trip allowed me to get to know a lot of the upperclassmen who are on the Chronicle, which will allow of many of us to have a smoother transition into their staff next year. I also had lots of fun hanging out at the amusement parks because they were a nice break from the informational seminars.” Spectrum Photo Editor Kaelyn Bowers ’19 said.








Take a date to Urban Plate

by Zane Grenoble ’19

Customers walk through the sleek glass doors and they are welcomed by an inviting ambience and the aroma of various dishes. Chatter fills the air.  Customers dine at rustic wooden tables.  Cooking utensils line the walls and the exposed ceiling adds to the homey feel.  Diners can sit at the communal table surrounding the fire pit on winter nights. Urban Plate (UP) currently has five restaurants and plans to open four more this year.  The chain differentiates themselves from competitors Lemonade and Greens Up by offering more meal oriented plates.

As patrons enter the line, a friendly hostess explains how the upscale cafeteria-style restaurant functions. Customers line up at the different stations to order meats and sides, salads, soups and pizzas.

UP offers massive salads.  The grilled steak salad consists of a pineapple-mango salsa, jicama, mint and coconut roasted cashews.  The mild jalapeño mint dressing tops off the flavorful dish.  The cashews create a crunchy contrast and mango cuts the spice of the jalapeño.

Entrees come with two sides.  The steak is very tender and cooked to medium rare.  Any of the salad dressings can be drizzled on top of the different meats.  The buttery albacore served rare pairs perfectly with the jalapeño mint dressing. The roasted fingerling potatoes are well seasoned with rosemary, salt and pepper.  The harissa (a Mediterranean spice) zucchini and cauliflower has a spicy kick.

As patrons near the register, they can choose from delicious drinks and desserts.  The cactus pear, mint and jalapeño lemonade is one of the most popular drinks.  The concoction mixes spicy, sweet and tangy flavors all in one.  Customers can also choose from the 24 desserts. The chocolate macaroons are delightfully chewy with a nice contrast between the coconut and rich dark chocolate.

UP is a great restaurant to visit with friends and family because it offers a wide variety of healthy, fast and well-priced meals.  Dishes range from $15 to $20 per person.  Urban Plate lives up to their mission statement: “We are passionate about changing the way the world eats, by making fresh, wholesome and delicious food that is affordable and accessible to everyone.”

Grade: A