Vocalists sing in Chapel


by Emma Shapiro ’20

Singers in Madrigals performed at Saint Saivour’s Chapel on Dec. 13 at the annual Christmas Convocation. The performance was called “A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols” to welcome the holidays. The convocation first began in the 1800s, but the Madrigals have participated in the event for 25 years. During the performance, the group performed “Of the Father’s Love Begotten” by only a quartet of students, “Gaudeamus Hodie,” “All my Heart this Night Rejoices” and “Angels of Seven.” Choral Director, Nina Burtchaell, said she sincerely enjoyed giving her students the ability to continue the school’s tradition. Burtchaell said she was proud of their performance due to the plenty of rehearsals.

“It’s always a beautiful service. It would be nice if more people who loved to sing traditional Christmas carols would come and sing along because it’s a really fun time of year to do that,” Burtchaell said.

Their songs were accompanied by excerpts from the Bible to honor the upcoming Christian holiday. The lessons started with the creation of Adam and Eve and led to Christmas. Upper School Chaplain, Father Jay Young led the service providing the historical part to the ceremony. “I thought it was a nice convocation. It was a really fun experience, and I want to thank Ms. Burtchaell and the pastor and all the people for being there,” singer Jake Schroeder ‘20 said.

Blue Ribbon Sushi Bar is soy amazing

by Claudia Moysset ’19

The Blue Ribbon Sushi Bar & Grill has a lot of variety, offering rare and exotic sushi including eel, caviar and jellyfish, among others. The restaurant dares diners to try unusual delicacies.

The restaurant is very narrow with a low arching door and blue, black and grey tiles. Along the front wall, the words “The Blue Ribbon Sushi Bar & Grill” are written in Japanese.

The décor is modern with many angular patterns. Towards the center of the restaurant is a bar  with fresh ingredients and a clear glass window showing sushi chefs preparing meals. Each table has a jar of flavourful soy sauce. The meals are all artfully presented.

The O-toro is made out of the fatty part of a tuna fish. The rice is very plain and basic, but it accentuates the tuna. The tuna has a thick tasting texture, making it very good.

The eel roll, another appetizer, almost has a chicken-like taste. The soft eel meat also has an appealing tangy flavor.

The jellyfish, wrapped in seaweed, is shaded an unappetizing yellow. The texture of the jellyfish is slightly slimy and surprisingly thick and hard to bite into.

As for the Wagyu beef tongue, it tastes similar to a filet mignon with a little extra flavor added to it. The tongue is really soft and has a very chewy taste that breaks apart with one bite.

The crispy rice is in fact crispy (what?) with a bit of a burnt taste. The tuna roll is very spicy and makes the dinner feel as if  there mouth has been lit on fire. The avocado blends with the tuna in a nice way. The black caviar does what all caviar does best, add a salty improvement to the meal.

As for the spicy lobster sushi, the taste burns the tongue. The spicy crab roll is compact and  comes with lettuce. When take one bite, their mouths feel the spiciness.

The seven rainbow is a combination sushi plate. This dish is one of the best representations of the restaurant. It is a plate with an assortment of types of fish, colorfully displayed on a wooden board. One of the fish is a very bright neon magenta. Another is very scaly with a metallic sheen.

Each roll is around $8-$30 dollars, with other items around $30-$40. The restaurant is slightly pricey, but because of the the rarity of the ingredients, the meal is worth it.

Overall, the restaurant has fast service, out of the ordinary menu items and a very remarkable atmosphere, including great meals.

Grade: A

Baking Column: Winter Wonderland Cupcakes

by Kaitlin Musante ’19 and Kaelyn Bowers ’19

To celebrate the winter season and the holidays, this issue we bring you three cupcake toppers that will add a delicious and festive update to plain, vanilla cupcakes.


Christmas Tree Topper


1 14-oz. bag of shredded coconut

1 4-oz. bag of pretzel sticks

1 12-oz. bag of green candy melts

Rainbow sprinkles



  • Melt a bag of green candy melts according to the instructions until smooth and combined. Place the melted candy into an icing bag. (Melted white chocolate with green food coloring can be used instead of candy melts, but it may take longer to dry.)
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place the pretzel sticks about ½ inch away from each other in rows.
  • Take the icing bag and, beginning at the top of each pretzel stick, squeeze the icing in a zigzag formation to resemble a christmas tree. Then, go back over the part of the formation that is covering the pretzel with the icing to form a solid base. Shower with the rainbow sprinkles. Let cool for a few minutes, then slowly peel the topper from the parchment paper.
  • To resemble snow, lightly sprinkle frosted cupcakes with a thin coat of coconut. Finally, stick the pretzel end of the cooled trees into the cupcake and enjoy!


Snowman Toppers



1 14-oz. bag of shredded coconut

1 12-oz. bag of white candy melts

1 4-oz. bag of pretzel sticks

Rainbow sprinkles



  • Melt a bag of white candy melts according to the instructions until smooth and combined. Place the melted candy into an icing bag. (Again, white chocolate chips can also be substituted.)
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place the pretzel sticks about ½ inch away from each other in rows.
  • Take the icing bag and draw 3 circles varying in size, with the largest at the bottom and smallest at the top, to resemble a snowman. Then, go back over the part of the formation that is covering the pretzel with the icing to form a solid base. Once finished, place two sprinkles of your choice across from each other for eyes in the top circle and three sprinkles vertically down the middle of the larger two for buttons. Let cool for a few minutes, then slowly peel the topper from the parchment paper.
  • To resemble snow, lightly sprinkle frosted cupcakes with a thin coat of coconut. Finally, stick the pretzel end of the cooled snowman into the cupcake and enjoy!


Melting Snowman Topper


1 14-oz. bag of shredded coconut

1 10-oz. bag of large marshmallows

1 12-oz. bag of mini chocolate chips

Vanilla icing

Orange dye



  • Separate the vanilla icing into two bowls. In one bowl, place a few drops of orange dye and mix until the desired color is reached. If orange dye is not available, combine red and yellow dye to achieve the same result.
  • Lightly sprinkle a coat of coconut over frosted vanilla cupcakes. Then, place a large marshmallow slightly off-center.
  • Take two mini chocolate chips and spread a small amount of the plain vanilla frosting along the back of each. Then, stick them to the marshmallow to resemble the eyes of the snowman. Finally, smear a small amount of the orange frosting in a triangle shape below the eyes to resemble a carrot nose and enjoy!

Over Seasoned: 52

by Alisha Sahi ’19

Seasons 52, a new American restaurant and bar, holds a prime real-estate location on Ocean Avenue, facing the Santa Monica pier and beach. Tourists and locals come to visit the restaurant for lunch and dinner. Having a view of the ocean and seeing all the locals of Santa Monica (street performers, pedestrians, cyclists, etc.) on a sunny Saturday afternoon improves the experience greatly. Although the location and view set the restaurant up to be a great dining experience, Seasons 52’s food is not up to par.

The grilled rack of lamb is far too over-seasoned, along with being dry and low-quality meat, which does not make for a very appetizing dinner. Along with the lamb, the crab, shrimp and spinach stuffed mushrooms are bland and don’t provide much flavor or color to the table. Seasons 52 claims that their flatbreads are their most popular and well known dish/appetizer. However, the flatbreads are implausibly thin and cracker like, therefore not adding much flavor. The quinoa salad is marginally better than the other food items ordered, but still mediocre. Seasons 52 serves incredibly large portions which make it quite difficult to finish or even properly enjoy your dish, especially because the food itself is sub-par.

Similar to the food, the service is not great. The restaurant was overbooked, and as a result, the Seasons 52 staff was very unorganized and failed to seat and accommodate those who made a reservation; our wait time was approximately 30 to 40 minutes. After finally being seated, the waitress seemed to be having an off day and got very frustrated when we asked her to take back the waters she gave us and bring back new glasses of water without the ice. We had to switch waiters.

Aside from the food and service, which admittedly is a big part of the experience, the atmosphere is quite enjoyable. Our new waiter was very polite and very quick with orders. On the contrary, there was an instance where the food was stated to be inedible, but the waiter refused to take it back.

Unfortunately, despite having a beautiful and pleasant atmosphere, Seasons 52 is not a restaurant worth visiting.

Grade: C+

Students participate in Hack Day

by Spencer Klink ’20

Hack HW is a two day, overnight programming workshop taking place in the Seaver Library at the Upper School. The event spans Saturday and Sunday, and students interested in coding and developing have the opportunity to take part in competitions and attend seminars led by professional programmers. The hackathon is open to students from ninth through 12th grade, and no experience is necessary in order to participate.

Hack HW begins at 8:30 a.m on Saturday, and students will first attend an hour-long introduction to the hackathon. Students will be split into 15-20 groups in which they will create a project and attempt to win a prize. A brainstorming session will then occur in order to allow students to prepare for the competition. Ten mentors will be available to work with the students and teach them what they have learned.

Throughout the two days of programming, high schoolers will learn to code on a variety of different platforms, such as iOS devices or the Arduino, a microcontroller that enables users to create technology that interacts with the world.

Meals, including Chinese food, pancakes, sandwiches and burgers, will be provided throughout the day. S’mores and sundaes will be available at 2-3 a.m. on Sunday morning. Attending students can also 3D print a customized phone case and learn to fuse two wires together or solder.

On Sunday at 4:30 p.m, students will have the opportunity to showcase the final result in a seven- to eight-minute-long presentation.

“I’m looking forward to being able to spend the weekend with people with similar interests, getting to meet lots of people from the industry and learning about their experiences,” Samuel Buckley-Bonanno ’19 said.


Toy Drive takes place over holidays

Students and faculty donated to this year’s toy drive which ran from Nov. 30 until Dec. 17. The toy drive aimed to collect new and unwrapped toys such as board games, stuffed animals and dolls. All toys were dropped off around the small house at the front of the Munger Library. The donated items will be given to the Montecito Baptist Church in Ontario, Calif.

This year, choral teacher Nina Burtchaell added a competition element to the toy drive which involved her seventh grade choirs. She organized a friendly competition to see which of the two choirs could reach 100% contribution first.

“It gives extra incentive [to donate] because it is competitive and it drives us to help the community,” Matthew Lee ‘21 said.

Students also expressed their interest in the toy drive this year.

“Everyone in the school is so fortunate to be able to get things every year at Christmas and to bring that to children who might not have that opportunity is really important,” Jess Grody ‘19 said.

Teachers also recognized the importance of donating.

“I think it is good to help others, and people tend to feel generous towards the end of the year, and we all feel appreciative of what we have and want to share with others. It is my tradition to give toys to kids in December, and it makes my heart sad when I see other kids that don’t have that. If I can afford to give a toy, then I want to do it,” math teacher Regan Galvan said.

Faculty attends Star Wars screening

by Megan Chang ’19

Eighty-five members of the faculty and staff were invited to attend a free screening of the new movie “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” on Dec. 19, the day after its release. The showing was held at the IMAX headquarters in Playa Vista. Disney Studios Chairman Alan Horn (P ’06, ’08) and IMAX President Greg Foster (P ’08, ’11, ’13), as well as alumnus Steve Bing ’82, arranged the showing as a holiday gift to thank the faculty and staff for all that they do throughout the year.

Chief Advancement Officer Ed Hu asked faculty and staff who were interested in attending the screening to enter a lottery with the possibility of winning up to two tickets.

“There was a great outpouring of interest. Faculty were really appreciative of the opportunity, even those who didn’t ‘win’ the lottery,” Hu said in an email.

Faculty who attended expressed their gratitude for being offered this special opportunity.

“I thoroughly enjoyed it from the moment the words started scrolling. It brought back so many memories from 1977 when I was wowed by the first movie. I was 12 all over again,” middle school dean Betsy Ilg said.


Cafeteria extends hours for trial period

by William Newhart ’19

The cafeteria extended its hours on Jan. 4, now staying open until 5:30 p.m. and it will continue to stay open late through Friday as a trial run to see how much business the cafeteria will get in the extra hour.

Eighth grade student council members Grace Burton ’20 and Jaya Nayar ’20 approached Cafeteria Director Nipa Sritanoothamakul about doing a trial run to see how students reacted.

“We talked with Nipa and got a two-week trial. If it is successful enough, it will stay open, but if not it will close,” Nayar said.

The cafeteria staying open later allows for students taking the late bus to eat after a sports practice or extracurricular activity.

Sritanoothamakul said that due to the rain, there was less business than they expected the first week. According to an informal tally taken by the cafeteria, an average of 50 students have visited the cafeteria in the extra hour per day.

The snack bar, fridges and drink machines are available for use until 5:30 p.m., but the hot food and salad bar are closed.

“As an active member of the Harvard-Westlake community, who stays late two days a week, I really like having [the cafeteria] open later,” Natalie Winters ’19 said.

First art show of the year

by Samantha Ko’19

Student art from the first semester will be displayed on Thursday from 5-7 p.m. in the Wang Hall gallery.  The showcase will feature artwork created by students in all grades from all art classes, some of which include pottery, clay and glass, technique and expression painting, animation and photography.

“I am excited about the art show because it will be really fun to see everyone’s work that they’ve worked hard on all semester.  I’m interested to see the artwork of the people who aren’t in my class as well as see what they’ve been doing,” Anja Clark ’19 said.

Show attendees can enjoy refreshments including pizza, cookies, pastries and beverages during the course of the show.  There will also be a photo booth area where guests can take pictures during the display.

“I think what’s cool with any art show is watching the students see their work in another context other than in the classroom, but not only that, they are able to share that work with their family or other friends willing to see it,” photography teacher Joe Medina said.

This year’s art show will feature a collaboration between the Drawing and Painting: Expressions and English teacher Ryan Wilson’s Creative Writing class. The event was also timed to be right before the Contemporary Dance Workshop I and II showcase to help allow students and their families to celebrate both visual and performing arts.

“I feel like it’s a great way for students to appreciate the art program and other students’ art,” Faramarz Nia ’21 said.

First Winter Week held

by Lindsay Wu ‘20

Student Council hosted the first ever Winter Week from Dec. 15-18.  Winter Week, similar to Spirit Week for Homecoming, was meant to excite the Middle School about the holidays and to get students and faculty into festive spirits.

“[Student Council] is really excited about this year’s Winter Week.  We wanted to be a little bit more active in celebrating the holidays on campus than we were in previous years, and we hope to make Winter Week an annual thing from now on.  Plus, it’s just really fun,” eighth grade senator Jaya Nayar ’20 said.

Winter Week started with members of Student Council decorating the Horn Commons on Monday morning, followed by sales of warm apple cider and hot chocolate with marshmallows at break on Tuesday and Thursday.  Wednesday, Ugly Sweater Day, provided the opportunity for students and faculty to dress up in holiday clothing.  On Friday, students were able to decorate holiday cookies at break for a small charge.  The Madrigal Choir also caroled outside the ninth grade lounge during break.

Profits from Winter Week will go toward other events run by Student Council.

“Winter Week also allowed Student Council to make a little extra money to benefit the students.  This way, we can bring more events, like Milk and Cookies days, to the Middle School and make the students happier,” Nayar said.

Students had similar opinions to Student Council members regarding Winter Week.

“I thought [Winter Week] was really fun.  I felt like it was a great way to get into a festive spirit for the upcoming holidays before winter break.  Winter Week also enhanced the experience at school, and it made me appreciate both school and the festivities,” Echo Seireeni ’20 said.