Discussing Democracy: Why Politics Should be Part of Education

politics rescanned croppedBy Olivia Gubel ’21

Every school across America has unique rules regarding current politics. Some ban the subject entirely, while others gently discourage the banter. Some even encourage debates among students. But should students have to be a certain age to partake in these discussions? Most students understand how heated arguments regarding politics can be, especially presidential elections. Many educators and parents believe that students should not be discussing political beliefs inside the classroom or outside on the playground because it is not uncommon for pupils to cross the line or hurt another, but making politics a required course in schools may be exactly what our country needs.

More significantly, however, the purpose of education is for children to become adults who are well-prepared for what they will encounter in the real world. This includes information and knowledge in subjects such as history and algebra, but more importantly, includes how to be successful. The goal of schools are to cultivate resilient, civil and hardworking citizens who understand on a thorough level how to act in society. But to be a contributing citizen, voting comes into play.

At the age of 18, while some students are still in high school, students begin to vote, impacting the world around them. They have reached the adult age and have earned the right to vote, but many young adults are mis- or under-informed regarding current issues. In 2005, 71% teens age 13 to 17 reported that their political views are about the same as their parents’. Is this because they are inclined to do what is easiest? Public schools are ran by the government, yet they are not required to teach about politics. One can conclude that the government expects young adults to take their own initiative to educate themselves. However, in many cases, this does not happen.

If students are not given an objective, in-depth education on politics, they are likely influenced by those around them, most significantly, their parents, family and friends. If a hypothetical student’s parent is in favor of a certain candidate, it is likely that they will naturally focus on the good of that particular candidate. Even if that young adult is developing an opinion based on facts, it is probable that they have been given a manipulated set of facts. It is important that all adults have developed their own opinions without any influence. In 2014, The American Election Study found that over 40% of people try to persuade others to a specific candidate. With so many subjective opinions, and so few facts, how can we expect young voters to vote responsibly?

In 2015, researchers at Hawaii University found that most adults age 18-20 do not research political information; instead, they come across it by accident, which influences their vote. Much of the information they come across is from social media. Social media is a line for false news and only exposes people to personalized media. If the majority of the people someone is following represents a certain political group, that person will most likely be influenced and manipulated because of the skewed views and supporting facts towards a specific political view or candidate.

Although ideally teenagers and young adults would only vote if they have sufficiently educated themselves on the topics, that is not happening. If politics were a required class in schools, students would be given the complete opportunity to not only develop their own unbiased opinions regarding specific affairs, but their complete political identity.


Less Stress: AP Limits, GPA Changes Will Help Students

APimage1By Mia Feizbakhsh ’22

The school is known for its notorious amount of pressure when it comes to one’s academic future, but this is about to change. The school has made a new rule that will be in effect, starting with the class of 2022. From that grade on, a student’s GPA will no longer be affected by AP or honors courses. This change was made so that students who sign up for advanced-level classes do not do it for the GPA boost they would receive.

Throughout the years, many students have often taken AP and honors classes solely for the one point boost in their GPA, without actually having a passion about that specific subject.  This has caused many students to feel that taking an AP or honors course is necessary in order for their GPA to increase.  This new rule is a step towards relieving students of stress when it comes to their classes.

Many people believe that the new change is unfair because students will no longer be properly compensated for their work; however, the correct reason as to why one should take an AP or honors course is the pursuit of education, not a higher grade point average.  Students should choose to take an advanced course because they have grown to like a specific subject more than others and are willing to accept a challenge in their preferred classes. They should not be signing up for harder courses if all they care about is their grade point average.

Maintaining a high GPA has become a priority at our school, but why? The idea that one’s GPA is a deciding factor in college applications is firmly believed by many students, which is why they prioritize their grade over the value of what they learn.  Taking an AP course, or any course, should not just be about getting a good grade.  If the absence of a GPA boost changes one’s decision when it comes to taking the advanced route, then they don’t really want to take that class because they enjoy it.  When people sign up for an accelerated program, they have a genuine interest in the subject, and they accept the challenge. These students are willing to put in the time and effort to learn, not just to get a good grade.

When going through the application process for college, of course, a student’s GPA appears on the application.  Some people think that they now have a disadvantage, but colleges also receive a copy of transcripts and would be able to tell that a student took an advanced course.

The school has made this new rule to relieve a burden that can cause students to obsess over their future, to the detriment of the present.  School is not always about what grade a student got on his or her tests; it is about the experiences had, such as making new friends on retreat or going on that school trip one was curious about.  The school is trying to give kids more of a “regular” high school experience, instead of the high-pressure-GPA-obsessed school it is sometimes thought to be from people both inside and outside.  Therefore, the new GPA policy is a step towards a less stressful school environment.


Hungry Hungry Students: How Assigned Lunch Periods Still Need Improvement

img002By Sophia Musante ’22

Student hunger has been an issue in the school community for years. The Administration has made several changes over the years to address this problem, the most recent being assigning mandatory lunch periods. While designating lunch periods has certainly helped, has it done enough to end student hunger?

According to Eighth Grade Dean Karen Fukushima, the school assigns lunch periods to ensure everyone eats lunch at a reasonable time. For seventh graders, lunch is either fifth or sixth period. For eighth graders, lunch is fourth, seventh or eighth period, and for ninth graders, assigned lunch is anytime between fourth and eighth period.

It seemed as if having an assigned lunch would be of great help to many students. However, these lunch times are not as reasonable as they seem. Eating at 11 a.m. or 2 p.m., far earlier and later than most students are used to, is not uncommon. As a result, many students are desperate to eat hours before or after their assigned lunch.

“I’m starving throughout the day,” Paris Little ‘22, who has lunch seventh period, said. “My stomach is growling during each class, especially sixth period.”

Assigning lunch periods is a step in the right direction, but more needs to be done to stop student hunger. Students struggle to find other times to eat during school hours. School policy mandates that food is not allowed in the buildings, prohibiting students from eating in class. These rules have only gotten harsher with the start of the new school year. When hunger strikes, students must wait until break or frees.

Break is of little help to most students who get hungry later in the day, occurring less than an hour before some students’ lunches. Students are also often busy with work, meeting with teachers or going to club meetings during break. Frees are not a sufficient substitute for lunch because they are not always consistent and do not always appear during typical lunch periods. Students are also busy with homework during their frees, and the majority of the places students do homework – the library, the lounges or the flex space – do not allow food.

“During frees, I have homework to do, so it’s not like I can really eat lunch,” Justin Lee ‘22 said.

Because of this, students have to deal with their hunger during the school day, which can be detrimental to their performance in class. Both students and faculty agree that students being hungry during class can cause them to lose focus, distracting them from learning.

“I’m focusing on food more than actual work,” Matthew Servin ‘21 said.

Students said they find that their hunger prevents them from learning. Because of this, some teachers allow their students to eat in class in spite of the rule, something students find very helpful.

“Even though students have lunch blocks, sometimes they’re very late in the day…. I would rather [my students] eat and participate fully than sit there and be distracted,” a teacher who wishes to remain anonymous said.

While one teacher’s solution works for their classes, this is not what the school needs. We need a solution that works for the entire student body.

One such solution is altering the food policy so students can eat small, no-mess snacks in class, such as granola bars or apple slices. Students would be able to satisfy their hunger without disrupting class or creating any sort of mess.

Another possible solution is splitting break into two smaller breaks, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. This way, every student would have three opportunities to eat every day. Students with early lunches could get a snack later in the day, and those with later lunches could eat something to tide them over.

Whether these or other solutions are chosen, the school is in need of a change in policy.




First Impressions: A New Student’s Perspective

img001By Mohona Ganguly ’21

First Impressions

As a new Ninth Grader, I want to share my experiences. This issue, I am describing a few of my first impressions and some things that stood out to me during my first month at school.


The First Bus Ride

On the first day of school, I woke up early to take the bus to school for the first time. Nervous and skittish, I extended my shaking hand to show the bus driver my I.D. After the bus took off, many of the other passengers started discussing their summers. Pretty soon, the whole bus was filled with the excited voices of students talking and laughing with their friends. Although I did not join in on their conversations, I still felt cheerful listening to them talk. There was so much camaraderie on that school bus and it felt like I was part of a big team.


The Wonderful Unknown

Any new experience takes some time to become used to. When my first day came along, I was expecting to end up lost and to be wandering around aimlessly while my other classmates would be talking about people that I barely knew. Instead, I was greeted with friendly faces and my classmates invited me wholeheartedly into their conversations. People were there to take me to classrooms if I looked lost (which was a fairly common occurrence in my first few days). Everyone was so warm and welcoming, and it felt like I had been studying here for my whole life after just one week.



My first period everyday is Symphony. It always feels so wonderful to get lost in the sound of instruments in the morning before my academic classes. My other classes are also equally extraordinary. All of my teachers are so invested in what they teach that it is hard not to get excited when they teach a new concept. All of the material is very interesting, and I am particularly fond of doing group work and exercises during class so that I can meet new and interesting people. Overall, there are so many unique opportunities at our school. It is no wonder that part of our mission statement is “to promote the joyful pursuit of excellence.”


Absence Nightmares

In the second week of school, I fell sick with a virus. I was horrified. I had heard the rumors that missing a day of school is like missing a whole year. I insisted on going to school and not missing any of my classes, but my mother refused and forced me to stay home. The next day I arrived at school, absence note in hand, trying to frantically catch up on what I had missed. Instead, I found that the teachers were patient and understanding and they all helped me catch up on what I had missed. By the end of the day it felt like I had missed nothing at all.


Future Hopes

After my first few weeks, I feel well integrated into the community. The teachers and students are friendly, warm and approachable. I am very optimistic and I cannot wait for what is in store for me next during my first year.


Staff Editorial

img020The Middle School can live up to its reputation as a stressful environment, but a lot of that is due to students not taking advantage of breaks from academics during the school year.  The beginning of the first semester is filled with no homework holidays and exciting school events, such as retreat and spirit week. However, many students get swept up in the anxiety of the year and choose to opt out, focus on stressing over their school work instead of enjoying events or time off. Extracurriculars and new friendships can be exciting for students and help create a focus and joy for the new year. Students are on the middle school campus for three years, and although it can be nice to prepare for the future, it is also important to find a good balance between school-work and fun.

Since schedules are fixed, students interact with the same people daily. This is why retreat is a crucial time to bond with classmates and meet new people. This is especially true for seventh graders who are now all going on the same retreat. Retreat also allows students to engage with each other in a work-free and unplugged environment, allowing them to focus more on enjoying each other’s company. This stress-free time should be taken advantage of because students rarely interact in groups with peers they do not know well out of school.

Rest and Recharge weekends, or R&R weekends, are also important for students to find balance because they allow students to focus on their extracurriculars and friendships. School can be overwhelming because there are so many tasks to balance and different pressures, and R&R weekends take one of those larger pressures away. Although it is always good to be ahead of the work schedule, students oftentimes worry more about the work they have, instead of actually getting their work done. Students can take time to study individually but should also make sure to take breaks to do other activities as they are also vital to learning and staying focused. These times can also be a great time to catch up on extracurricular and do other enjoyable activities. People also tend to worry too much about work over the weekends, which can be detrimental to the fun parts of life. The weekends are great for fixing the exhaustion of a week’s worth of hard work, and they are also a good time to sleep in and catch up on television. Students should not feel ashamed of being unproductive because relaxation helps productivity later on and R&R weekends are planned for relaxation.

Homecoming and Spirit Week are other important events to bond with peers. Homecoming is one of the few events all year with students from both campuses. This allows students to get used to the high school campus, see older friends and acts as another important reminder that we are part of a larger community, not just an isolated campus.  Rides and sports games can be an enjoyable break from school. Seeing the whole community support a sports team or cheer at our Friday prep rally shows school unity and the support for one another. Even other days of Spirit Week show excitement and energy, and planning your outfits and seeing other dress up can be fun.The fall student council event happens at the end of the month and is a great chance to balance student schedules.

All of these breaks and events are all created to help balance out the stress of the school year with some fun activities, and students should take advantage of them before they fade away.


Worth the Hype: Jake Paul, Youtuber

Jake Paul Banner Color CMYKBy Lucas Lee ’21 and Matthew Lee ‘21

Jake Paul is a 20-year-old YouTube personality who rose to fame with his brother on a (now defunct) social media app, Vine.  His first YouTube video was a compilation of his old vines created in March of 2014, but his rise to fame on YouTube really took off this year.  Paul had a little over a million subscribers to start 2017, but that number has risen to over 11 million.  He has assembled a group of close friends in his community creating Team 10.  They have been involved in a lot of YouTube drama and are known for making music videos making fun of other YouTubers.  His most viewed video, a song he made with his group Team 10 “It’s Everyday Bro,” has amassed over 127 million views.  Paul has made many controversial videos, such as burning his own furniture and performing dangerous pranks on strangers.  He has lost his Disney contract on the show “Bizaardvark” due to his rowdy behavior.

In an online survey sent to middle school students, 86 percent of the 323 respondents said that Jake Paul is not “Worth the Hype.”

Many of the students expressed their dislike of Paul.

“Jake Paul’s videos were interesting at first, but then he starting fighting with his brother and other YouTubers, and the fact that he was narcissistic was starting to show,” Charlie Seymour ‘23 said in the survey.

Paul and his team were in the middle of an abuse allegation.  One survey respondent weighed in on the topic.

“He literally lied about an abuse case, made it look like his secretary was the victim, but did this to gain popularity and views of YouTube,” an anonymous survey respondent said.

While Paul’s videos may provide entertainment to viewers, the heights he is willing to go in order to get more views, money and self-gratification has proven troublesome, making him not “Worth the Hype”.


B Sweet brings Filipino flavors

IMG_0883By Emma Limor ’21

B Sweet Dessert Bar, located in the heart of the chic Sawtelle neighborhood, is the perfect place to find authentic Filipino and American desserts with the unique ambiance of a bar. While the prices are relatively high, ranging from $5-8 per dessert, the portions are proportionally large. Every delicious order can be shared among multiple people, which helps create their unique social vibe.

Though they are known for their variety of bread puddings, B Sweet has a lot more to offer. Bringing traditional Filipino flavors like ube (purple yam) and calamansi (citrus fruit) into their desserts has attracted customers from all over the city to experience flavors from halfway around the world.

Accompanying these Filipino flavors are classic American ones, such as the “circus cookies” cake, oversized brownies and cinnamon rolls. The shop’s menu changes every Wednesday, so each experience there is different.

The most popular dessert at B Sweet is the halo-halo. Meaning “mixed together” in Tagalog, this dish is an icon of Filipino culture, with 13 layers of traditional Filipino ingredients, providing an explosion of flavor. Featuring exotic red bean paste and sweet condensed milk, the halo-halo provides an Asian flair. While each flavor is delicious on its own, Filipinos don’t eat them separately. By doing what the name of the dessert implies, they mix it together. Mixing the oversized and overstuffed cup can be challenging, which makes the experience at B Sweet Dessert Bar even more interesting.


Halo, a dish that shares its same with the halo-halo, provides a unique culinary sensation. Featuring ube ice cream, the halo is created with a custom sandwich press. It is prepared by dividing a glazed doughnut into two parts, scooping ice cream onto one piece, and then reuniting the doughnut with heat fusion. The halo is served fresh from the press sizzling with caramelized glaze from the doughnut. The first bite harmonizes the frosty ice cream center and the hot doughnut shell. With contrast in temperature in just one bite, the halo is incredible. In comparison to the halo halo, it lacks depth of flavor but makes up for that with its temperature fusion.


Plan Check meets expectations

FullSizeRenderBy Hannah Han ’21


Clusters of small, brightly-lit Asian restaurants and dessert shops line the populated streets of Sawtelle Boulevard in West Los Angeles. Sawtelle is busy and popular, a cacophony of honking cars and chattering pedestrians strolling down the congested sidewalks.  It is a unique intersection of different cultures and foods, making it a desirable destination.


A few blocks north of the bustling main hub of Sawtelle is an inconspicuous restaurant named Plan Check. Plan Check serves American food and is most famous for its Plan Check Burger (PCB) and Cruller doughnuts, as well as its Da Buck Fity Wings.


Plan Check has restaurants located in Santa Monica, Downtown Los Angeles, Fairfax and Sawtelle, and the food is reasonably priced, with dishes ranging from $6 to $23.


The decor is clean, modern and industrial, with polished wooden tables and metal bar stools.

Customers usually sit on the patio, so the inside of the restaurant is quiet and dim, lit only by fluorescent fixtures hanging from the ceiling.


The Smokey Fried Chicken is one of Plan Check’s most popular dinner items and, like most of the dishes on the restaurant’s menu, it is served in a small cast iron platter. Chunks of tender, moist chicken coated in crispy batter lie in a pool of smoked milk gravy. Two spicy, pickled okras are arranged artfully on the platter, and a small pile of sweet yam preserves sits underneath a chicken leg. While the chicken is cooked perfectly, the batter is bland, and the puddle of gravy is mediocre at best, more similar in taste to lukewarm fatty mayonnaise than traditional Thanksgiving gravy. The dollop of sweet yam preserves is the highlight of the dish; reminiscent of autumn, the yams add some needed color to the meal.


The Plan Check Burger (PCB), the restaurant’s specialty, is served in a black cast iron dish as well. Panko bread crumbs are sprinkled liberally across the top bun of the burger, adding a crunchy, textured layer to the warm dome of bread. Sandwiched in between the two buns of the burger are layers of caramelized schmaltz onions, cold mixed pickles and warm, half-melted Americanized dashi cheese. A thin sheet of Ketchup Leather, a dehydrated square of house-made ketchup invented by the Plan Check franchise, melts into the patty, adding to the complexity of the dish. Every bite reveals layers of hard work and time, from the briny, perfectly-grilled beef to the ingeniously-crafted square of Ketchup Leather.

Both the chicken and PCB can be accompanied by a side of fries, either sweet potato or regular. The potatoes, which are fried in tallow fat, are crunchy and browned, and the insides are deliciously warm and starchy. The French fries are served with a side of house-made, unrefined ketchup, similar in taste to salsa.


Overall, the PCB was much more satisfying than the Smokey Fried Chicken. Although the food was a bit lacking in some respects, for the most part, it was well-prepared and artfully crafted.

Fatamorgana brings bold flavors

IMG_0860.jpgby Sandra Koretz ’22

A gelato staple in Rome, Fatamorgana has opened up its first location in North America. Located in Studio City and minutes away from the Upper School, Fatamorgana has over 300 recipes, 60 of which are on display every single day. Some flavors are dairy-, gluten- or egg-free. Their delicious gelatos are not only healthy, but they taste amazing. The flavors vary from prickly pear and passion fruit to over 10 different varieties of chocolate. Fruit flavors such as raspberry and mamey, a tropical fruit, are sweet and light yet tangy and creamy.

Must try flavors also include the basil, passion fruit and Madagascar chocolate gelatos. Customers are able to watch all of the gelatos and meringues being made through the glass window of the shop. The shop also offers sushi and cake made out of gelato. The indoor ambience inside is sophisticated, and the shelves inside are stocked with Italian goods such as soda and hazelnuts. Two scoops of gelato cost $5.50, while nine scoops cost $9.70. The people of Los Angeles are now able to experience the famous gelato of Rome.

Izakaya sushi satisfies customers

IMG_1627.JPGMia Feizbakhsh ‘22

Japanese sushi restaurants have opened up in various places around the Los Angeles area, and this one-of-a-kind deluxe sushi is worth customers’ time.  Izaka-ya, by the owners of Katsu-ya, is a smaller, more casual version of Katsu-ya, the original ultimate sushi chain managed by SBE, a company that sought to be known for its food, design and atmosphere.  The Izaka-ya located on 3rd Street in West Hollywood has tons of different sushi.

From the moment one walks through the door, craving some spicy tuna, to when one walks out full of albacore, Izaka-ya is an experience like no other.  Wooden boards with Japanese writing on them adorn the walls, and sections of brick peek out, giving the restaurant a modern yet rustic feel. Behind the sushi bar, there are unique drawings of different fish used in the restaurant.

When it comes to the menu, Izaka-ya has a lot of variety, from sashimi, nigiri and hand rolls to a tender teriyaki chicken.  One of the restaurant’s best sellers is popcorn shrimp, shrimp tempura with an irresistibly delicious creamy sauce. The price ranges from the $2 miso soup to the $29 foie gras on Kobe beef.   On average, cut rolls and hand rolls are from $5 to $15, excluding the Katusya special hand rolls. There are so many delectable options including the restaurant’s favorites and Kobe-burgers for meat lovers.  Overall, Izaka-ya never disappoints.