Math team places at State Contest

By Jeanine Kim ’20

Several members of the Math Club participated at the MathCounts State Competition on March 12. The team, comprised of Tyler Weigand ’21, Ryan Tsai ’21, Jacky Zhang ’21 and William Tao ‘21, and one individual, Lyon Chung ’21, represented the school at the Southern California state competition. The team placed seventh out of 32 teams. These members qualified for state by performing well at the Chapter Competition on Feb. 25. The team took first, Chung scored high enough to advance to the next round and Weigand was the top scorer of the entire tournament. The club is led by math teacher Karen Salerno and Esmeralda Muñoz.

“[I’m proud] that they broke into the top 10 teams, which hasn’t been done at our school,” Salerno said.

MathCounts is a national competition for middle school students who are interested in competitive math. There are two rounds for all competitors, team members and individuals alike, which are the sprint and targets rounds. The team round is an additional part for the team that consists of ten problems for the four students work on together. The countdown round is an extra round for the top 12 competitors, where students quickly solve math problems under a time limit against their opponent.

“MathCounts was fun because I got to solve math problems with my team,” Chung said.



Debaters succeed at national tournament

By Celine Park ’20
Debaters pose with the plaques they won and a flight attendant before their flight returning home. Credit: Uploaded with permission of Shania Hunt 

The school’s team of Lincoln Douglas debaters won the Novice National Debate Tournament that took place in Atlanta from March 16 to 19. The team competed against first-year debaters from schools all over the country. Students assessed whether public colleges and universities in the United States ought not restrict any constitutionally protected speech. Eight out of the 14 total cleared debaters who advanced to partial octa-finals were from Harvard-Westlake.

The students’ schedules for the three days in Atlanta consisted of practice debates and two official rounds on March 17.

The debaters participated in the four remaining rounds the next day, and students who advanced to the top 14 proceeded to compete on Sunday. On the same evening, the team flew back to Los Angeles.

“It was a really great experience. During the trip we all got to eat hamburgers and milkshakes, and that was super fun.  This was also a nice time to bond with the ninth graders on the team, who make debate more enjoyable. And they’re really good mentors,” semifinal qualifier Allie Landecker ’21 said.

Jonathan Cosgrove ‘21, who won first place at the tournament, explained how he prepared for his rounds.

“One of the positive things that arose during my rounds

was being well prepared.  It was like studying really hard for a test and then knowing everything on it. I would like to thank all of my teammates and coaches who made it possible for me to do debate this past year,” Cosgrove said.

French students participate in contest

By Luke Schneider ’20
Students competed in the Grand Concours National French Contest. Credit: Jessa Glassman ’20/SPECTRUM

Students had the opportunity to participate in the National French Contest, for the first time ever at the Middle School. It was open to all French students, and teachers encouraged all eligible French students to participate in the test. In past years, contests have been held for other world language classes, such as Spanish and Latin. However, this was the first time that it was available to French students.

“[The contest] encourages people to better their French, and encourages people to take French as a class, and that is really important,” French student and contestant George Grube ‘20 said.

Students who performed well on the test will have the opportunity to receive an award from the American Association of Teachers of French, consisting of certificates awarded to those who score in the top 50 percent and top 20 percent, along with prizes awarded for those who gained chapter and national recognition.

Test takers were given 60 minutes to answer between 60 and 70 multiple choice questions, depending on their level. The results of the test do not have an effect on students’ grades, and because of this, all students were encouraged to take the test regardless of their ability. Students who received recognition are able to put their awards on their resumes when applying to colleges.

The test was administered digitally, with sections on both listening to French audio and reading comprehension. Also, many resources were provided for the students who took the test in order to study and practice their French skills beforehand.

Babies on Campus

By Jessa Glassman ’20

Middle School Bookstore Assistant Yesenia Baez, PS Support Specialist Justin Benson and Director of Human Resources Caitlin Adams have all recently welcomed children into their homes. Baez’s son, James, was born on March 19. Benson’s daughter, Margot Lee, was born on March 16. Adams’s daughter, Indigo, was born on Feb. 19.

New softball coaches join community

By Keila McCabe ’20

Brittany Moeai joined the softball program as head coach this past January. The team also got a new assistant coach, Marissa Schwartz. Both coaches stepped in when Katie Griffith, the previous coach, left the Upper School. Both coaches have stated their excitement for the upcoming season.

Both Moeai and Schwartz grew up in California and attended UCLA to play softball. They also played from a young age and were catchers. Neither have previously coached nor imagined themselves coaching, but they have both said they have enjoyed the team so far.

Although neither have coached before, Moeai spoke about her development so far in her coaching style.

“Everyone’s different, so I am adaptable. I love and embrace change. I want to get better personally, and I want my kids to get better. I will adapt and do whatever in order for my girls to get better. That’s the main goal, for my kids to enjoy their experience,” Moeai said.

Griffith left the school to play in an affiliate baseball league in St. Louis. Although Griffith hadn’t played baseball much before, she played in a summer program and quickly got recruited.

Moeai heard about the coaching job from Griffith. Griffith and Moeai taught lessons to players in the past years, and Griffith thought of Moeai as an assistant coach while she was head coach. Once Moeai got the head coach job, she asked Schwartz to be her assistant coach.

Moeai and Schwartz have said they are excited to be coaching and even more so excited to be coaching together. Schwartz spoke about her expectations for the team.

“One thing that I’ve learned from UCLA softball is that you can’t control the uncontrollable. You can’t control the weather or the umpire or the other team, but the two things that you can control is your effort and your attitude. So I expect the girls to just remember why they love the game and give 100% of what they have with a positive attitude”, Schwartz said.

Second baseman Kat Swander ‘19 spoke about the new coach’s plans and team goals.

“They have laid out a plan to join the team together not only through camaraderie, but the desire and urge to win and succeed. They are directing our frustrations and defeats in a way to generate motivation and team bonding.  A goal of the season is for all of us to become successful in our individual skills, so that by the end, we are working as a cohesive, attuned and confident team,” Swander said.

Mock, Casey serve as strength and weight coaches

By Caroline Sturgeon ’20

Sarah Mock joined the Athletics Program as a new strength and weight training coach, replacing Michael Tromello in December.

“I had actually already committed to going to coach at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, but when I found out about this job I changed my mind,” Mock said.

Mock played college water polo at California Lutheran University and was a strength and conditioning coach at a division III School. She also coached in Australia and at CSUN and is getting her masters there.

Mock said that she enjoys getting to spend time with the athletes, as well as learning how to help them train for their sports both individually and as a team.

“My favorite part about working here is being able to work with young athletes. I love getting to know all of their individual personalities, and I love to help them discover their strengths,” Mock said.

Mock works with both the middle school and the upper school weight rooms and works mainly with the girls’ water polo and soccer teams.

“I think the biggest challenge is time. I wish I had more time with athletes to coach them and watch them play their sports,” Mock said.

Mock’s trainees spoke of what it is like to work with her.

“She is a truly nice person and he cares about the wellbeing of the team. There is always a reason behind her workouts, so I always know why they are important,” water polo player Nico Tierney ’20 said.

Mock works alongside Coach Kyle Casey, who trains the boy’s football, basketball and Lacrosse teams, as well as other programs.

Ordonez fills in for Director of HR

By Frank Jiang ’21
Face Shot Ordonez
Ordonez sits at her desk in the advancement office. Credit: Frank Jiang ’21/SPECTRUM

Marisol Ordoñez has stepped in for the Director of Human Resources, Caitlin Adams, while she is on maternity leave.

Ordoñez has been substituting since Mid-February. She recently left an entertainment company she had worked with for 15 years. Human Resources is the department of a business administration and the training of personnel. Ordoñez attended Northeastern University in Boston, originally wanting to specialize in public relations as a communications major.

Ordoñez said she became interested in Human Resources when she took a course called Organizational Communication. Before she took that course, she said that she did not even know what Human Resources was.

“I had this one course, and it was with the chair of the department who was subbing for somebody.  It was called organizational communication, and back then I didn’t even know what Human Resources was,” Ordoñez said. “That was the class that taught me how communication plays a part in a business environment, how employees sort of interact with a business and how they view the business can have an effect on how successful a business is.  That was also the class that really got me interested in pursuing more into Human Resources instead of Public Relations.”

Ordoñez heard of the job when she was called by a recruiter and came to meet the school’s Human Resources Team. She said the offer of working Human Resources in a different organization intrigued her.

Outside of her job, Ordoñez is a mother of three and enjoys traveling as well. Another one of her hobbies is baking.


Jones appointed Interim Director of DEI

By Joanna Im ’20
Jones was named the school’s first Intermin Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion this year. Credit: Nathanson’s/SPECTRUM

Associate Director of Admission Janine Jones was named the school’s first Interim Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion by School President Rick Commons. The school’s Organization for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion was created on March 21, to create more equitable school policies and revise old ones.

Jones will continue to serve as the Interim Director until July 2018, when someone will officially step into the permanent role.

Jones spoke of what she sees ahead for the position and the school.

“I think the possibilities are endless – we are going to be able to affect so many different areas of the school. Not just numbers and more diverse bodies, but also ways to make people feel included and welcomed in the classroom: How are subjects being taught and which textbooks are used? How are students treated in class? […] This would be the first position of this type here at school. And so I will be looking at the ways HW can be a more diverse, more inclusive place for every single student, parent, faculty and staff,” Jones said.

Although there are no specific policies that the new group has created, Jones said that she thinks the organization has potential to not only change who gets accepted into the school, but can also focus on increasing inclusive educational programs and methods. Additionally, Jones said she is determined to not only promote equity in the student community, but also the parent and faculty aspects of the school.

“We will be able to educate the parent body, and look at programming on campus to bring different ideas and topics to campus and look at the character piece of education, and not just academics,” Jones said.


Gregory marries former Mayor

By Celine Park ’20
Gregory and Riordan pose for a picture on their wedding day. Credit: Uploaded with permission of Elizabeth Gregory

Director of Admission Elizabeth Gregory married former Mayor Richard Riordan. The wedding took place on Feb.19 at St. James Episcopal Church in Hancock Park.

Gregory intended for the wedding ceremony to be small and personal, with only a few friends attending it. She said she liked the intimacy of a small wedding and that the day was a very precious moment between just the two of them.The newlyweds have said that their favorite part of the wedding was when they recited their vows.

“When we said our vows, I looked at her, and she looked at me. At that moment, I just melted inside,” Riordan said.

Riordan served in office from 1993 to 2001. He said that he met Gregory for the first time six years ago at a friend’s house. Riordan, an active philanthropist who strives to help underprivileged kids, said that one of the many activities he does with Gregory is visiting the homeless in Skid Row.

The couple has not had their honeymoon yet, due to Gregory’s work schedule. Riordan said that one of the things he loves most about Gregory is that she works extremely hard, and understands that because she is so busy they could not celebrate right away. Since they were unable to have their honeymoon right away, the couple planned a dinner at a Mexican restaurant.

“The entire experience made me really happy, and I just know for sure that this is going to be a lasting marriage,” Gregory said.


BLACC meets with admin

By Jay Lassiter ’20

Members of the Middle School Black Leadership and Cultural Committee met with School President Rick Commons and Head of Middle School Jon Wimbish to discuss diversity and incidents on campus relating to it.  The meeting took place on March 10 in the Beyer Board Room.  Student and adult members of BLACC spoke about diversity on campus and how it will affect the school’s future, especially regarding admissions.

“I think the outcome [of the meeting] was a better understanding of how the community feels, and some of our concerns, worries and questions were answered,” BLACC member Naomi Ogden ’20 said.

Toward the end of the meeting, students were able to ask Wimbish and Commons questions about the aforementioned topics using cards written during the last BLACC meeting.  Both Commons and Wimbish offered insight into the changes coming to the school regarding diversity.