Senior Issue 2023

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Illustration by Judy Luo

B2| Senior Issue Friday, May 26, 2023

What do colleges look for?




from essays to


Lexi Broughton

Staff Writer

When starting college applications

during senior, it’s

difficult to know exactly what

to focus on, and what kinds of

achievements students should

brag about to schools.

Even before senior year,

what kinds of extracurriculars

should students sign up for? Is

volunteer work really worth it?

What about grades?

“Sometimes from the perspective

of a high school

student you’re thinking about

where you want to get in and

what you want to major in,”

Suzy Thomas, a professor in

the counseling department at

St. Mary’s College, said. “But

from an admissions perspective,

they’re thinking about each

student individually and what

they might bring to campus,”

To the freshmen and sophomores

rushing to get as many

volunteer hours as they can and

study for hours on end, keep in

mind that Thomas said the most

important aspects of school to

focus on are your passions and

doing what you love.

“I think what’s important [for

college applications] is showing

how activities connect to what

you want to do in college, or

something that you can demonstrate

that you care deeply about

that you’ve done for a while,”

Thomas said. “Something that’s

part of who you are.”

Two college counselors said

something important regarding

students’ college admissions is

that they focus on connecting

extracurriculars that can show a

possible career to pursue.

“It’s helpful if you have extracurriculars

with a purpose,”

Cal High’s college and career

adviser Kathryn Nichols said.

“So you’re doing things that

you enjoy that might lead you

towards a possible career or

field of study.”

Some good extracurricular

activities could involve volunteer

hours, part time job, clubs,

internships, and sports.

“[I’ve been involved in]

things like clubs here, BSU,

black student union, and leadership,

there’s a lot of involvement

helping out with the school”

senior Dinari Baez said. “I think

I do those things because I have

passion for that, for being a leader

and even to mentor others.”

Grades are also fairly important

when it comes to admissions.

Nichols said having

decent grades is helpful for

college admissions, but other

activities outside of school are

also incredibly beneficial.

“At [Saint Mary’s College]

for example, at the undergraduate

and graduate level, we’re

interested in who the person

is and how they’ve grown and

what their story is,” Thomas

said. “You might have a student

who was really strong freshman

year and maybe something happened

in their personal life and

their sophomore grades dipped

a little bit and they got back into

the swing of things junior year.”

This is a good opportunity for

students to take advantage of the

essay portion of the application.

Out of the prompts offered, it

could be beneficial for students

to choose the ones that mean the

most to them, and use it to their

advantage to explain any challenges

they have experienced

in high school.

It is important for students to

demonstrate their personality

in their essays because this is

one of the only opportunities

to do so.

“That personal statement is a

big piece of how you share your

voice, your story and what’s

mattered to you and what your

goals are and any challenges

you’ve had,” Thomas said.

Since the pandemic, many

schools have decided to no

longer require students to take

the SAT or ACT.

According to Best Colleges,

roughly 2.2 million 2019 graduate

students took the SAT,

compared to 1.7 million 2022

students who took it. That’s

roughly a 22 percent decrease

Illustration by Arfa Saad

since the test was no longer

required for UCs in 2021.

“I took the SAT twice and I

got a private tutor, but I didn’t

end up taking it again because

it doesn’t really matter,” senior

Ananya Premanand said.

Since decisions were released

throughout the month of March,

many seniors were surprised to

realize they were not accepted

into as many schools as they had

hoped. While acceptance rates

for 2023 have yet to be released,

some speculations have risen

about why this is, and if rates

really are lower.

“Sometimes it may be because

campuses have decided

on how many students total

they can admit, and if they don’t

feel they can’t admit as many as

they did the year before, then it

appears to be rigorous because

there are fewer spots available,”

Thomas said. “Also I’ve heard

since the pandemic some students

delayed college, and so

it’s possible that some of those

students who maybe graduated

last year or the year before are

now applying.”

Something on the lighter side

is the amount of students getting

off waitlists. Just because students

are wai- listed for a school

doesn’t mean they should lose

hope. A large number of seniors

are taken off the waitlist around

early to mid May.

“More than usual are getting

off the waitlist for Berkley right

now and some more getting off

from UCLA,” Nichols said.

There’s some weirdly specific scholarships available

Who qualifies for these things?

Kian Kasad

and Rohan Iyer

Staff Writers

In the tumultuous sea of

student debt and university

tuitions, there’s one lifeline

that every college-goer tries

desperately to grab hold of:


Almost everyone knows the

general idea, but some of the

specifics of some pretty sizable

scholarships can get a bit weird.

For a pretty mild example,

let’s take a look at the American

Fire Sprinkler Association’s

scholarship. Most scholarships

select their winners based on

certain criteria: academic excellence,

family background,

physical traits, etc. It’s just some

sort of baseline to consider who

should be awarded the scholarship

and who shouldn’t.

But the AFSA has decided

that that’s too selective, and

instead awards money to people

through blind luck. Any interested

students that are able to fill

out the application are put into

consideration for $1,000, and

the winner is chosen completely

at random.

And I know what you’re

thinking. That’s not too strange

is it? It’s just like a lottery but

for students.

Well, why don’t we move on

and take a look at the Flying

Musician Association’s Solo

Program Scholarship. We’d

love to elaborate on this one,

but we think you can get the

gist of it from the name alone.

It’s a scholarship for musicians

who are interested in the

pursuit of aviation. Getting selected

for this scholarship means

a shortcut to getting your pilot’s

license, which is pretty cool,

We’re down for that. We’re

just stuck on where the musician

part comes into this. Maybe

we’re just being picky, but

this entire thing feels a bit too


We’re sure there’s a ton of

musicians out there who would

love to be pilots, and to all of you

out there, we have only respect

in our hearts. But with all due

respect, we’re just gonna play

my instrument on the ground.

In all honesty this next one’s

not even that strange. We just

think the name is pretty funny.

It’s known as the American

Association of Candy Technologists’

(AACT’s) John Kitt Memorial

Scholarship. The actual

scholarship is pretty normal. It

just awards money to college

students who are in a food

science adjacent field and who

have demonstrated an interest

in confectionery technology.

We just think that the American

Association of Candy Technologists

sounds like something

straight out of Willy Wonka

and thought that it was worth

the mention.

Maybe you don’t have unique

interests that qualify you for the

aforementioned scholarships.

Maybe you find yourself towering

over everyone else. In

that case, consider applying

for the Tall Clubs International

Foundation’s scholarship.

Male applicants must be

6-foot-2 or taller, and women

must be 5-foot-10 or taller.

There are some other requirements

too, including recommendations

from teachers,

essays, and good grades.

Are you a Jewish orphan

studying aeronautical engineering

at UCLA? Probably

not, since nobody has ever

qualified for the Malcolm R.

Stacey scholarship that awards

those who meet that description.

At least, not under the original

terms. The school changed the

criteria in 1987 to make it easier

to obtain. Now, any Jewish students

at UCLA demonstrating

financial need can qualify for

the scholarship.

Now for another scholarship

based on something you

can’t control: the John Gatling

Grant at North Carolina State

University. Applicants for this

grant must have the last name

“Gatling” or “Gatlin.” And before

you run to court to change

your name, know that even that

won’t qualify you for this grant.

You have to submit an official

copy of your birth certificate to

prove your Gatling-ness.

Do none of these scholarships

apply to you yet? Well here’s one

for you, as long as you’re part

of the 10 percent of people who

prefer their left hand, or you’re

willing to spend the summer

learning to write left-handedly.

The Frederick and Mary F.

Beckley Scholarship at Juniata

College is awarded to qualifying

left-handed sophomores,

juniors and seniors.

Sadly, this award is not

actually available anymore.

It disappeared from Juniata

College’s website, making it

impossible to apply.

While this next one won’t

apply to any Cal High students,

it’s still worth mentioning. The

Gertrude J. Deppen Scholarship

at Bucknell University

is awarded to “graduates of

Mount Carmel Public High

School, who are not habitual

users of tobacco, intoxicating

liquor and narcotics, and who

do not participate in strenuous

athletic contests,” according to

the university’s website.

Scholarships for sports might

be the most common type of

scholarship out there.

But this is the only anti-sports

scholarship that we’ve heard

of, so it just had to make our

weird list.

Friday, May 26, 2023

Senior Issue| B3

A lot has happened the last four years

Kylie Thomsen

and Sophia DiGiovanni

Californian Editors

Our freshman year began at

the tail end of a summer full of

“Stranger Things”, VSCO girls,

and TikTok trends.

Arriving at California High

School, we became the butt of

every joke, constantly being

made fun of for our freshman


“Class of 2023” jokes were

trending online, and yet we

didn’t know just how good we

had it at the beginning of our

long, four year stay at Cal.

After only a few months of

adjusting to new schedules,

going to football games and

attending dances, we were sent

home in early March.

The year 2020 had already

presented a number of notable

events to that point, with the

passing of Kobe Bryant, talks of

a potential World War III, and

wildfires burning across Australia

and the Amazon rainforest.

But once we were sent home,

any hope and anticipation that

we had left for our freshman

year quickly disappeared.

We were quickly overwhelmed

with news about

COVID-19 and the upcoming

election, all while having to adjust

to learning online, isolated

from friends and family.

Most of us truly believed

that we’d be back to school

in no time, and this was just a

little hiccup in our high school


BLM protests began that

summer, after the murders of

George Floyd and Breonna


These protests happened all

over the country, including in

San Ramon and surrounding

cities throughout the Bay Area.

The protests in San Ramon itself

were mainly led by youth, with

some Cal students speaking

and addressing the hundreds of

people present.

Our sophomore year came

after this summer, and turned

into a quick blur of Zoom calls

and Google Classroom.

“I think Class of 2023 became

less united,” senior Jhanna

Gutierrez said. “We missed the

sophomore year era where we

could find new people separate

from our middle school friends.

We had a taste of high school,

then it was taken away.”

The rest of 2020 held even

more historic events, with

former Justice Ruth Bader

Ginsburg passing away, Joe

Biden winning the election, and

a vaccine for COVID-19 finally

being approved.

During January 2021 of our

sophomore year, the insurrection

at the capitol occurred,

shortly before President Biden

and Vice President Kamala

Harris were inaugurated.

We have made a reputation

this year for being quite unspirited.

Many students believe

that they didn’t have much

spirit in the first place due to the

COVID-19 pandemic breaking

into their freshman year.

“I think the period of years

our class missed in high school

were when spirit and camaraderie

were created and our class

just missed a big chunk of it

due to the pandemic,” senior

ASB vice president Kylie Matek

said. “Our freshman year, we

didn’t really have time to meet

everyone so when we came

back it was like we had to meet

everyone again.”

Junior year was the first year

back from online learning.

Students flooded back into

classes, apprehensive about

the constant mask requirement

on campus while talking about

popular singer Billie Eilish’s

new blonde hair.

Although there was excite-

“Our class has

gone through a lot

of changes both

personally and

globally.” - senior

Kylie Matek

ment with returning to school,

there was still a sense of uncertainty

among students.

“COVID caused certain

events to be less guaranteed

our junior year,” Gutierrez said.

“The idea of having a homecoming

and first prom wasn’t


Most students had not returned

to in-person classes

since their freshman year, and

now they were expected to have

developed into a junior during

the pandemic making it hard to

stay up to date on classwork.

Many teachers at the beginning

of that year were more lenient

with submitting missing work,

causing more students to have

a more delayed response to

missing assignments.

“The pandemic affected us

all differently, some for the

worse, some for the better,”

senior Dylan Bretschneider

said. “I think some teachers had

a tough time balancing in-person

teaching and the hurdles they

had come across during COVID.

Generally, teachers became a lot

more sympathetic.”

With the election of Harris as

vice president the year before,

many believed this was a step

in the right direction for women

equality in the United States. But

this was quickly overshadowed

by the decision of Roe v. Wade

being overturned, causing many

to fear for their health and safety

as a woman.

“It made me rethink applying

to colleges in states where my

rights were gone,” Matek said.

“I am fortunate enough to have

my rights here in California,

but it makes me think of all

the women who aren’t able to

leave their state if [an unwanted]

pregnancy were to happen.”

The last four years spent at

Cal were full of many hardships

yet the Class of 2023 was able

to persevere and find ways to

keep working around it.

Although this class is quiet,

don’t rule out this group for

not being able to work hard

and have fun while doing it.

The future is bright for us and

the world can’t wait to see how

these events will affect this class

for the time to come.

“I think our class has gone

through a lot of changes both

personally and globally, so I

think it was hard for us to just

focus on school when so much

was happening during those

times,” Matek said. “A lot of

us are eager to become adults

so we can make the changes

we have wanted to see in the

last four years.”

“The Class of 2023 are the

realest people on campus. I think

a lot of us have gone down our

own paths to finding individuality,

and it’s resulted in some

crazy emotional maturity.”

Bretschneider said. “We don’t

wreak havoc on the campus, we

don’t care that much for school

spirit, and everyone gets along

for the most part. We’re very

clearly the chillest class at Cal


Graduation at a Glance


Where: Football field

When: Thursday, June 1 from

12:50-2:30 p.m.


Where: Football field

When: Friday, June 2 at 6 p.m.

(Gates open at 4:30 p.m.)

Grad Night

Where: Cal campus

When: Friday, June 2

from 10 p.m.-2 a.m.

What are you

going to miss

most about Cal?

“The basketball games

because they were fun.”

Amari Gray


“Starbucks runs with all

my friends.”

Emma Spiller


“The events because we

had so many and they were


Pari Saluja


“Playing at basketball

games and going to football

games and hanging out.”

Kellen Torrey


“I’m going to miss football

games in front of the

student section.”

Luke Wallace


“The friends I’ve made

here because I won’t see

them again.”

Kanav Bansal


B4 | Senior Issue Friday, May 26, 2023

Welcome to The Californian, you’re l

Let’s talk about the past four

years at Cal High in classic

YouTube rewind format

Wyatt Golla

News Lite Editor

As a senior at our esteemed

California High School, I can

say three things with absolute

certainty. For one, there is no

other high school that is quite

like ours. Two, the previous

four years have been one wild

ride. The third thing is that I am

very tired.

Back when I was barely

even a freshman I had so many

different ideas of what high

school would be like. Getting

shoved into a locker, studying

furiously for tests and seeing

other students spontaneously

breakout into song, the usual.

My expectations may have

been just slightly influenced by

“High School Musical”, but you

get the point.

What I had no idea of, however,

was just how hectic the next

four years would be. Though to

be fair, there is very little anyone

could have predicted about the

coming years.

My experiences, and the

experiences of all the other Ca

seniors, have been truly unique

in a way that is difficult to put

into words. I mean, how does

one summarize four whole

school years while desperately

trying to stay brief?

Well, seeing how I’m trying

to give an overview of the things

we all experienced at Cal, why

not structure it like a YouTube

Rewind, the synopsis of the content

seen on the platform during

the year? Those have always

been received well, right?

It all started in freshman year,

as such notable things so often

do. Our first introduction to the

eventful Cal campus was interesting,

to say the least. Packed

hallways, towering flights of

stairs, the things we’ve familiarized

ourselves with now. But

one thing that remained constant

is the occurrence of graffiti in

our bathrooms at the time.

Barely a semester into the

year and the school already had

a scandal. Graffiti was scrawled

on tiled walls and stalls of

varying messages and slurs.

Administrators quickly dealt

with the issue, but graffiti would

still be written in the bathrooms

through most of the year.

One of the most influential

topics of the year, however, was

an up and coming app called

TikTok. All the way back in

ye olde freshman year, TikTok

hadn’t gained the popularity in

the school as it would have in

later years. Most students didn’t

really know or care about the

app, as it was still generally

niche. Better times.

But good times don’t always

last. Especially after all of us

were hit with what may be the

most influential occurrence of

our high school tenure.

Let’s address the elephant

in the room, COVID-19. I’m

sure that we all remember that

week in early March, when

we were still wondering if Cal

was actually going to suspend

in-person learning. I remember

the last day of school on campus

that year vividly.

I was practically rejoicing at

the fact that I wouldn’t have to

finish a soliloquy poster after

reading “Romeo and Juliet” in

English. I couldn’t, for the life

of me, remember a single line

from that book.

Still can’t, sorry Mr. Barr.

But the coming quarantine

showed us that maybe celebrating

our perceived freedom

would show our hubris, as we

were all going to stay inside

for a while.

This makes for a good segue

into the next year, sophomore

year. The year without a campus,

the great indoors, quarantine

boogaloo or whatever moniker

the year has earned.

I’ll cut to the chase and say

what we’re all thinking. Quarantine

wasn’t fun. I never thought

that I could get claustrophobic

in my own room or manage to

slowly wear down the skin on

my fingers from scrolling so

much, but quarantine will do

that to you.

I’m pretty sure I contorted my

body to look like a hunchbacked

seahorse slouching as I was in

my chair at home. As if my

spine wasn’t already italicized,

quarantine only exacerbated the

issue of my abysmal posture.

Above everything else, staying

at home while going to

class online was so mundane,

repetitive and mind numbingly

boring. Of course I understood

and respected why we were in

quarantine. That didn’t make it

any easier. The teachers made

an incredible effort to keep

things diverse and interesting

while online, for which I am

immensely grateful.

But with all due respect, one

can only do so many assignments

online without getting

repetitive. I didn’t realize that

I could get bored of watching

YouTube and memes or of playing

the hit new game, “Among

Us”, but it turns out I could.

To be fair, there is only so

much one can do to keep a

classroom engaged on Zoom,

so teachers did everything that

they really could. But there

were some invigorating things

to do during the year, like online

AP tests.

Y’know what scratch, that,

the tests were about as interesting

as watching the seconds

slowly go by during the nearly

hour long student support we

had. For those who had the

mercy of not doing an AP test

online, I really envy you.

Saying that an online AP Euro

test is tedious and made me want

to slam my head into my Macbook

like a panini press would

be a bit of an understatement.

But there was one terrifically

wondrous thing about

sophomore year that made the

tedium worth it. It ended. Not

with some grand gesture or feelgood

reunion. It just ended and

many of us students were left

scratching our heads wondering

what would come next.

Well, the obvious answer to

that was the next year, but you

get the idea.

Junior year was a breath of

fresh air for most, and an inhale

of freshly eaten breakfast- scented

mask breath for others.

Returning to the Cal campus

was amazing, don’t get me

wrong here. I never thought

that I would miss exhaustedly

climbing up three flights of

stairs every day, but junior year

Friday, May 26, 2023

Senior Issue| B5

Illustration courtesy of Mira Prabhakar

ooking at the top four years at Cal

proved me wrong. It’s just that

our third year in high school

had no shortage of interesting


Should I be concerned about

the fact that I could only remember

something majorly positive

happening at high school during

the penultimate year on campus?

Nah, I’m sure that’s fine.

For starters, the campus got

a glow up while we were away.

The formerly monochrome

quad was now alive with color,

and a beautiful mural was drawn

on the stairwell of the World

Language building.

Our high school looked so

lively when we first got back

from the confines of our rooms.

Anyways, my compliments

about Cal’s new look aside, I’m

sure many students remember

the walkout that occurred early

in the year. In a surprising

show of unity, a large group

of students walked out of their

classes to protest the changing

of the rules regarding students

not being able to sit in their cars

during lunch.

Wait. That was this year. My

bad. Nevermind.

Other shows of support and

unity were soon to come, as

several students later took to the

quad to protest the rising conflict

in Ukraine. Being quite the

change of pace from previous

years, things were starting to

look up around campus.

Then a trash can was ignited

in a restroom and things kind of

spiraled again.

After most AP tests were over

and done with, the main building

was evacuated at the notice of

a fire alarm. Most students had

blissfully forgotten the sudden,

grating sound of the fire alarm

because of quarantine, so being

jumpscared by it during late

May was a shock.

I feel especially bad for the

seniors that year, as they left

campus after a literal garbage

fire made the news.

What wasn’t nearly as shocking

was how the year’s SATs

went. Previously, the PSAT

didn’t exactly set a glowing

precedent, what with the few

mistakes and general uncertainty

surrounding the test when it

was conducted. Not only were

some aspects of the SAT rough,

but it was announced that some

colleges wouldn’t even consider

the scores.

Imagine working through all

the effort of the PSAT and trying

to get a superscore on the actual

test only to find out that your

dream college doesn’t look at

your score with priority.

Well, I’m sure that several

seniors don’t exactly need to

imagine and those students have

my sympathy.

Not that I went through

anything like that. Early on in

quarantine I made a guess that

colleges wouldn’t look at SAT

scores in the same way after

COVID-19, so I opted to take

a risk and avoid the standardized

test. Either way, it’ll be

interesting to see what happens

with the SAT in later years once

we’re gone.

Speaking of, one thing that

piqued the interest of several

students during junior year was

the transition from Schooloop

to Schoology.

But the interest among students

wasn’t derived from

hopeful curiosity. It was actually

closer to mass confusion.

Juniors and seniors alike

harkened back to the days of

using the generally convenient

Schooloop and stared blankly

at Schoology’s login page,

wondering why the previous

website had been abandoned.

But there is a bright side to

the change of learning management

systems over the years.

At least we’re not going back

to Google Classroom anytime

soon. Hopefully.

All of that brings us to the

present day of our senior year,

which is not lacking in notable


Cal got a new principal in

Demetrius Ball, who has been

a welcome change of pace all

things considered. It’s refreshing

to see a principal as active

on campus and in the quad as

Mr. Ball. We also have several

new members of administration,

but that’s not entirely surprising

considering Cal has had a veritable

revolving door of administrators

since freshman year.

With the new principal and

administration, students at Cal

have more input on how the

school functions and reacts to

problems on campus. The level

of student autonomy is certainly

different from previous years,

and it’s interesting to see how

much school has changed since

freshman year.

What hasn’t been as welcome

is the process of college

applications. Since a majority

of seniors have gone through

applications, I’m sure that we’re

all happy that we only have to

do that once, right? The process

was rough, but it wasn’t awful.

It’s just that if I had to give

any more thought into what I

wanted to do with my life I may

have spontaneously combusted.

On a more positive note, the

senior ball was a blast. Music,

good food, gambling tables, and

an albino alligator is not what I

had in mind initially, but it was

still fun. I may have lost everything

I own in an all-or-nothing

gambling match, but that’s part

of the fun.

As we near the end of our

high school education, it’s important

to mention those who

have helped us through these

four years. I doubt that many of

us students would have been as

successful if it weren’t for the

constant support from our many

teachers, as they have helped us

every step of the way.

Similarly, leadership has

been resolute in making sure

the Cal campus remains fun and

engaging for all the students.

So, to all the people who have

helped us seniors through it all,

thank you.

Looking back on our time

together at Cal starting all the

way back to freshman year,

it’s easy to think that our time

at high school has been hectic,

to put it lightly. We’ve gone

through a global pandemic, AP

tests, social isolation, college

applications, and much more.

Our time at Cal has certainly

been irregular, but all the more

memorable. When some of us

are parents it’ll be us who will

get to pull the “you kids have

it so easy, back in my day…”

card. Through everything, we

seniors have stuck through it all.

Soon we’ll stride into the world

of adulthood as the responsible

people we have grown to be.

Well, most of us will move

on from Cal. But I’ve grown

attached to our campus and I

don’t exactly want to go. Maybe

I can flunk all my classes and

redo my senior year, for a fresh

start. Plus, I’d be able to continue

writing for The Californian!

B6 | Senior Issue Friday, May 26, 2023

Ranking the Class of 2023’s high school years

Tanvi Pandya

Staff Writer

Our past four years of high

school have been eventful to say

the least. Between Covid-19,

countless changes in administration

and the occasional

campus threat, we’ve made a

lot of memories.

Each year has been unique,

coming with its own ups and

downs, but some have definitely

been better than others. Let’s

look at a ranking of the past four

years because there is definitely

a lot to discuss.

No. 1 - Senior Year

Unsurprisingly, coming in at

the top of the list is senior year.

Being our final year, a lot

of new changes appeared. We

were met with a completely

new administration team when

we returned to school, accompanied

with a lot of new and

unwelcomed rules (remember

those?) We also finally earned

the privilege to sign out, thank

god. Well, most of us at least.

Sorry 17-year-olds.

Maybe the biggest change

from last year to this one is the

decrease in COVID-19 cases.

We were finally able to walk

around and eat together without

fear of contracting the virus.

Especially compared to junior

year when we saw everyone

in masks for the better part of

the year.

It feels like things finally

returned to normal.

Naturally, there were some

negatives to the year, too. I

still haven’t recovered from the

stress of college applications.

Honestly, it’s been hard having

to say goodbye to high school.

But we have a lot of great

Californian file illustration

Sophomore year ranked surprisingly high because students didn’t even need to get out of bed to attend virtual school.

memories to treasure. We had

a fantastic final homecoming,

outdoors for the second year

in a row. We’ll always have

our Friday Night Lights to look

back on, accompanied with tons

of fun spirit themes like neon

and pink out.

And there’ll always be Colorfest

too, but that one might

be more of a funny story than

a sentimental memory.

More than anything, senior

year has been about making the

most of it. And I think we’ve

done that.

No. 2 - Freshman Year

Next up, maybe a surprise to

some, is freshman year.

I’ll preface this by saying I

don’t think freshman year would

be this high if COVID-19 didn’t


And in a way, freshman year

is the only year that doesn’t feel

tainted because it was our first

and only taste of normal high


It was also just…fun.

We were wide-eyed and

young, excited to see what this

new world of high school had

waiting for us. We got to meet

and develop relationships with

tons of new people, including

our fellow freshmen from other

schools and upperclassmen.

We had a fabulous indoor

homecoming, our only one of

high school, and plenty of high

energy rallies run by our muchmissed


COVID-19 definitely

stopped us in our tracks though.

But even after the stay at home

order began, the schoolwork

was essentially nonexistent and

it was an adventure of its own.

Freshman year was the year

of new beginnings.

No. 3 - Sophomore Year

Placing sophomore year at

third might be a little…controversial.

But let me explain.

Sophomore year for the

class of 2023 is a touchy subject.

There isn’t much middle

ground. You either hated it or

loved it.

On one hand, it was pretty

easy. We didn’t even have to get

out of our beds to go to class, and

we basically had an hour and a

half of naptime everyday with

the online student support and

lunch periods. Zoom troubles

aside, we had a pretty easy

academic sophomore year.

On the other hand, it was kind

of an extrovert’s nightmare.

We missed a whole year of

school dances, football games

and just hanging out with our

friends. A whole year of memories,

lost to the pandemic. We

didn’t even see each other’s

faces most days, just a black

screen with our peers’ names

written in block letters.

It was depressing, to say

the least.

So, if half of us loved online

learning and half of us hated it,

it’s only fair it goes somewhere

in the middle.

No. 4 - Junior Year

And that brings us to last

place: junior year.

Junior year was, in a way, a

transition year.

It was our big, triumphant

return to in-person school. We

were finally back, this time as

upperclassmen, masked up and

ready to go. Things were finally

back to normal.

Except, they weren’t really.

We all had to be completely

masked up. There was no eating

indoors. Everything was

being adapted to fit COVID

restrictions. While all of these

adjustments were for the greater

good, it all felt a little dystopian.

Add to that the anxiety of

junior year studying for the

SATs, AP classes and the generally

overwhelming idea that

we had to decide the rest of our

lives pretty soon, the year was

stressful to say the least.

That doesn’t mean it was all

bad. We were all thankful to be

able to see our friends again.

And as much as we complained

about school, we were all happy

that we could have some faceto-face

interaction again. Junior

year might not have been the

best, but it was necessary to

get back into the flow of things.

And that wraps up the last four

years. Even with world-shaking,

global catastrophes, we made it,

Class of ‘23. It’s been an interesting

journey, but the memories

we have made will always be

cherished as we go off to pursue

our passions and dreams.

Some seniors take non-college paths

Rebecca Haghnegahdar

Staff Writer

Despite constant pressure

from parents, peers and even

teachers to attend a four-year

university directly after high

school, many students choose to

go down non-traditional paths

that will work best for them and

their skills.

The days are gone when a

four-year university degree was

viewed as the sole gateway to

a successful career. Today, Cal

High students are opting for alternative

routes that better align

with their passions, interests and

desired outcomes.

From enlisting in the military

to going straight into the workforce,

there are endless routes

that students can explore.

Cal’s college and career

adviser Kathryn Nichols helps

students explore their options

and find what path is best for

them. By embracing non-traditional

avenues, students are

finding unique opportunities for

growth and securing their places

in an ever-evolving job market.

“I think one really important

thing is to get experience in a

field to make sure it’s right for

you,” Nichols said. “So I think

if you can volunteer and get

ahead in your field, it will really

help you.”

There’s multiple factors that

students have to consider when

deciding what to do after they

graduate. Students need to take

factors such as cost, personal

preference and environment,

among other things, into consideration.

“I knew I didn’t want to work

a desk job in the future,” said senior

Julian Ackerman, who will

be attending Butte College as a

part of the school’s fire academy,

said. “So the firefighter program

really appealed to me.”

There are a multitude of vital

jobs within society that do not

require the completion of a four

year degree, with firefighters

and EMTs being just a few of

them. Instead of going through

four years of schooling, students

can partake in programs at

community colleges that will

give them hands-on experiences

and get them into the workforce

faster, saving them not only time

but also money.

With a rise in tuition costs as

well as cost of living in many

cities throughout America,

attending a four year university

is no longer a financially

reasonable option for some

students. As students start to

realize the reality of the financial

burden a four year education

can have on them and their

families, many are beginning

to seek alternative routes that

will provide them with a stable

career without putting them in

significant debt.

“I knew a four year university

didn’t make sense for me

financially,” senior Melina

Kamranifard said. “I realized

real estate was a good way to

earn a lot of passive income.”

Programs through local community

colleges can provide

people access to an affordable

education, flexible schedules,

and programs tailored to meet

the needs of local industries.

The programs can allow students

a gateway into a four

year university to pursue their

education or put them directly

into the workforce.

While there are many alternative

routes students can take

after high school, there are

also unconventional options

within the realm of four year

universities. United States

training academies provide

students with a free education

in exchange for nine years of

military service. Though it is

a big sacrifice, it is one many

students are willing to make.

“Over the summer while my

peers get to go on vacation, I’ll

have to do military training,”

said senior Patrick Lee, who

will be attending the United

States Military Academy at

West Point in the fall. “You’re

definitely sacrificing a bit of

your freedom.”

As the world of education

continues to evolve, many high

school students will continue to

choose alternate paths that will

provide them with the proper

tools for success.

Friday, May 26, 2023

Senior Issue| B7

Artistic minds major in the arts

Students hope to succeed in the

arts at their respective schools

Pranav Khosla

and Tejas Mahesh

Staff Writers

When people think of popular

college majors, engineering,

medicine, or law might be

among the first to come to mind.

But some Cal High seniors

are attending college for the

arts. Senior Dylan Bretschneider,

who is attending Loyola

University New Orleans for

popular and commercial music,

is one of them.

“I’ve loved music since I was

three or four,” Bretschneider

said. “[Loyola New Orleans]

has been my dream school since

I was 11.”

Bretschneider has been playing

drums, piano and guitar

since he was five years old, and

he had a band his freshman year

called Swing Gives You Wings,

which raised $1,500 at their

performances for the American

Cancer Society.

In addition to his band, Bretschneider

recorded songs with

a friend and posted on various

platforms, such as Soundcloud,

and has two singles set to release

in June and July.

Another student with interest

in music is Gautam Vedula, who

is attending New York University

for film scoring and data

science. Vedula was inspired

to compose music by famous

film composers such as Hans

Zimmer and John Williams.

“I started composing music

on my own,” Vedula said. “I

started watching movies and

trying to imitate those scores.”

Vedula has also worked

with senior Aleeza Zakai on

several projects, including a

documentary focused on quantum

physics for a UC Berkeley

physics lab.

“[Zakai] had this idea of

making a documentary to bring

quantum physics to attention,”

Vedula said.

Vedula composed the background

music for the trailer, but

the movie itself has not been

completed yet.

Photo by Cameron Ho

Senior Gautam Vedula, seen here playing the piano, will be attending New York University

in the fall. He plans to study film scoring and data science.

Some other Cal seniors, such

as Leia Fisher, have passion

for design and art. Fisher is

deciding between UC Berkeley

and the University of Southern

California. She plans on majoring

in design, with a minor in

computer science.

Fisher has had a passion

for drawing since elementary

school when she watched You-

Tube drawing tutorials.

“I kept it as a hobby throughout

middle school and high

school,” Fisher said. “But then

I got more into graphic design

and creating websites.”

Fisher works with digital

work as well as surrealist-style

portraits, which is one of her

favorite genres of art.

“I took AP Art my sophomore

year, and I’m taking it again this

year.” Fisher said. “I want to do

UI, or user experience design or

graphic design [as a career].”

Senior Beau Strickland is

attending UC Santa Barbara

for Book Arts, which is an art

program focused on illustrations

for children’s’ books.

“You’re definitely going to

need a good sense of color theory,

how to draw basically, and

a good sense of graphic design,”

Strickland said.

Color theory is how artists

mix different colors to express

different emotions or ideas.

“Art is everywhere. It can

go all the way to science,”

Strickland said. “I’m actually

getting a certificate right now

to become a scientific illustrator

for science textbooks.”

Strickland obtained this certificate

through online lessons

taught by Gretchen Halpert,

who was the president of the

Scientific Illustrators Guild

and taught at Yale. After that,

Strickland got an internship at

the San Francisco Zoo.

“They didn’t have an internship

in place, so I created one,”

Strickland said.

Each of the talented students

hopes their artistic skills will

guide them along a unique

path that fewer students seem

to be taking.

Several students plan to serve at service school

Military school is the primary

choice for some Cal seniors

Nimisa Panda

Features Editor

Many of us have seen the

smash hit movie “Top Gun:

Maverick”, which was released

last summer.

It includes stunning graphics,

a vivid plot, and most importantly

to me, brief mentions of

“the academy.” The academy

in question, for those who do

not know, is the United States

Naval Academy. It’s where

young people from all across the

nation go to become officers in

the US Navy or Marine Corps

upon graduation.

I will be one of these young

people attending the US Naval

Academy starting June 29. I will

literally be living out the plot of

“Top Gun: Maverick”.

Located in Annapolis, Maryland,

the US Naval Academy

(USNA) is the undergraduate

college of America´s naval

service. The goal of the school

is to foster an environment that

pushes young Americans to

become leaders in all capacities

of their lives.

So far, it has been pretty good

at doing that as the USNA has

produced 54 astronauts, 29

members of Congress, and a

president, among many other

scholars and political leaders.

You may be asking me what

exactly was running through

my head when I applied. Why

would someone like me even

be interested in an opportunity

like this?

Truth be told, I didn’t really

think. I just did.

From day one, I have always

wanted a ¨cool career¨. My dad’s

best friend, who I call my uncle,

did the same in India when

he went to the Armed Forces

Medical College of Delhi. He

went to war, saw some really

scary stuff, left the Indian Army,

and now is a successful surgeon

in New Zealand. Just this past

summer, he was awarded by

India’s Prime Minister for being

one of the only members of his

platoon alive after narrowly

escaping an enemy bunker after

being shot in the knee during the

Kargil War of 1999 in Kashmir.

Pretty cool career, right?

Obviously, my third-grade

self did not hear all the graphic

details, but I did hear about the

opportunity. He managed to

make it out of the slums and

work his way up to having a

water slide in his backyard.

More importantly, he managed

to make an impact on the country

that did so much for him.

I even have it written in my

third grade diary, “Maybe I

wanna do something like that

so I can have a water slide in

my backyard.” Truer words

have never been written. Eightyear-old

me knew what was up.

This little goal of mine took

a backseat as I entered middle

school and high school. Top

20 schools such as Stanford

and Harvard became the goal

because of their great resources

and name recognition. I worked

hard and did everything I could

to make this goal a reality.

But how did I learn about

USNA? It was the end of junior

year and I was done with the

hardest part of high school. The

only hurdle between me and my

goal of a cool career was college


I was fielding questions about

college and careers at a friend’s

graduation party when they

brought up UNSA. I had seen

emails from them and watched

the Insider video about it on

YouTube, but that conversation

changed the entire trajectory of

my life.

I could now achieve the goals

similar to those of my uncle in

India through UNSA. Suddenly,

I had the means to make a direct

impact on the society that has

shaped me to be the person I

am today.

Any fatigue from the school

year prior was now gone and

quickly replaced with the energy

I needed to get started on making

this goal a reality.

That same day, I went home

and started the application

process, which requires multiple

essays, an interview by a

representative of USNA, a nomination

from either a senator,

congressman,or vice president,

a stringent medical exam, and a

physical capability exam.

Due to the low 7 percent

acceptance rate, combined with

the fact that the applicant pool

is incredibly competitive, I did

not think I would make it. There

are kids out there that dedicate

years of their lives to attending

a service academy like USNA,

but I was going into this blind.

I learned I was accepted on

Jan. 6, when I got a physical

letter back from Congressman

Eric Swalwell´s office. It informed

me I was their principal

nominee, which meant I had a

seat saved for me at USNA.

The amount of relief I felt

at that moment is probably

unmatched. Then came the

fear. It sounds scary to say that

I am joining the Department of

Defense in six months’ time.

But it is an exciting challenge.

On induction day, more commonly

known as I-day, I will be

transformed from a civilian to

something bigger than myself. I

will leave my life as I know it on

June 29 to become a plebe, and

I have never been more excited.

I know a couple of my friends

feel the same way because they

are also in the same boat.

Photo by Anvi Kataria

Senior Oliver Smallridge has enlisted in the Navy and reports to basic training next month.

Jacqueline Guerrero

Staff Writer

Nimisa Panda is not the only

senior joining the military after

graduation next week.

At least six other Cal High

seniors will be joining her,

including Chaeie Kim, Liam

Moore, Patrick Lee, Oliver

Smallridge, Sophia Pedersoli,

and Emmanuel Vasquez will

also be attending service academies

or joining the military.

“It’s definitely different compared

to being enlisted,” said

Lee, who will be attending the

US Military Academy at West

Point in the fall. “If you’re

enlisted you’re only doing

army [stuff] but at the service

academy you’re also getting an


Lee described the military

academy as four years of

university where students also

participate in military drills and


“After you graduate you have

to do five years active service

and three years reserve and

you can extend your contract,”

Lee said.

Two aspects helped Lee

decide to apply to a service


“Throughout high school,

one thing I’ve learned is that I

like serving others,” Lee said.

“[The] second reason is just

another simple idea for me.

When I see others being happy

that brings me joy,”

Kim hopes to join the Air

Force in the future.

“Next year I’ll be attending

Northwestern Military Prep

in SoCal doing one year there

and transferring to four years

in the Air Force Academy in

Colorado,” Kim said. “All the

students once they graduate are

second lieutenant in whichever

branch [they chose].”

Kim will be majoring in

behavioral science as a student


“It’s a lot harder than you

anticipate because there’s a lot

of steps to even be qualified as

a student candidate,” Kim said.

“I didn’t get a direct path [but]

there are always methods to

getting to the service academy.”

Kim learned about service

academies from her uncle, a

retired Army colonel, and liked

the fact that she could get her

education at her own pace.

Also attending the US Air

Force Academy in Colorado

Springs as a Division-1 swimmer

is Pedersoli.

“Being an athlete there is

gonna be a different experience

and very rigorous,” Pedersoli

said.”It’s different than being

a student athlete at any other

college but I’m looking forward

to it.”

Pedersoli learned about service

academies from her family

friends, but she has always had

a desire to serve her country.

“It’s really important to me,”

Pedersoli said. “I also wanted to

challenge myself academically

and athletically.”

According to the senior

check-out list conducted by

counseling, Moore will be attending

Purdue University and

joining the Marine reserves,

while Smallridge is joining the

Navy and Vasquez the Marines.

All of these seniors have

chosen a unique post-graduation

path that not many people


“It’s kinda cool to see how

[we] are all going at the same

time,” Lee said.

B8 | Senior Issue FRIDAY, MAY 26, 2023


Jacqueline Guerrero


Haleigh Gardner


Isaac Vass

Michael Vass



Sasha Muppagowni


Kathryn L. Taylor


Pranay Alleni

Brody Bartusch

Alexis Bebenita

Laura Byrne

Ha-Ly Carlson

Isabella Chimenti

Kushal Dave

Bianca Del Arroz

Mahealani Demello

Arjunan Easwarachandran

Enya Fung

Maya Harris

Zack Innamorati

Rishabh Jhamnani

Jack Keller

Abigail King

Jasmine Lanza

Anna Melvin

Jalen Ryan Mendoza

Grishmita Puttha

Madeline Rendez

Daphne So

Leah Sulzberg

Eshaan Suresh

Sophie Talwar

Brandon Walenter

Mia Ziblatt


Jadyn Ho

Raj Kumar

John Monotya

Carter Quan

Elshan Rouhani


Sarah Houston


Kevin Cooper

Noah Dutcher

Brooklyn Gantt

Cade Hannula

Megan Lee

Gabe Metz

Nadira Ramlogan


Kenneth Masana

Ariany Molina Munoz

Kayla Romans

Kimberly Young


Ethan Browne

Trevor Dunbar

Nicholas Plicner

Margaux Santos


Daniel Finnegan

Malia Gavino

Kaley McDonald

Jackson McNaughton

Anastazya Pinkela


Marcus Cerezo

Sochimaobi Nwankwo


Jack Pollock


Javier Mena

Caitlyn Schofield


Sonia Ballesteros

In State- 4 year

Gunnar Black

Trinity Chua

Manasvi Dotiyal

Aalok Gokarn

Elise Hongkham

Brianna Marbella

Devyani Pathak

Charlotte Sevin

Jake Waters


Moamel Albender

Hannah Purnell

Kathryn Sakkis


Aakash Chandran

Chassi Dynarski

Ashley Pham

Duong Nguyen


Nicholas Arnett

Shreya Chandrashekar

Jessica Garcia

Shreyes Guntapalli

Nimran Kazi

Daniel Kidane

Ayush Koneru

Spandan Kottakota

Andre Miller

Aditi Nanda

Hazel Navarro

Hunter O’Connell

Arianna Oliquiano

Ananya Premanand

Kylie Thomsen

Richa Vakharia

Viraj Yadav

Darren Yee



Elias Alemayehu

Taliya Peiris

Jacob Rhodes


Wyatt Golla

Alyssa Houlihan

Makenna Melvin


Sathvika Sitaraman


Tyler Cheung

Harris Durrani

Elise Kim


Mihir Gill

Andrew James

Casey Kim


William Sydorak


Kenneth Tayaba

Alyssa Dumas


Vedant Birla

Ashley Chang

Ten Chanyontpatanakul

Martina Chavez

Devyn Jones

Zhaoyi Luo

Alexander Moyer

Ronit Prakash

Parinita Saluja

Ethan Shin

Aarja Singh

Nandhini Sundar

Sami Tripasuri

Abigail Uy


Sol Abrian

Emaan Ali

Inder Brar

Andrew Chen

Jhanna Gutierrez

Sebastian Hadaegh

Zachary Horvath

Stephanie Hunt





Vivek Narayana

Ava Pelkey

Eren Pinar

Manushri Rane

Inika Singh

Kanishka Yadav


Ziyad Abbas

Ian Bryant

Angelina Castro

Calia Christudass

Vidit Jain

Alina Jones

Isabella Paz

Achyuta Raghunathan

Mason Ramey

Ghirish Thaenraj

Andrew Xiong

Angela Zhang


Pranav Akella

Zayaan Khan

Shua Lee

Mudit Mahajan

Sriram Rajagopal

Shawn Reznikov

Olivia Suhy


Daniel Becker

Christopher Chiang

Jacqueline Galvan

Bailey Katayama

Narayan Muppagowni

Advika Rajaraman

Bransen Tong


Amaya Aldon

Raymond Chen

Sreeya Gambhirrao

Ryan Ge

Aadithya Girish

Venya Jain

Vidur Pudupak

Tarini Raj

Evan Silzle

Jake Somsel

Tia Tang

Alexander Yamashita


Jayminn Anand

Ketan Mittal

Harshitha Palacharla

Abhyudaya Srivastava


Aidan Camberg

Katelyn DeSoto

Ansh Gangapurkar

Spriha Pandey

Regan Stiner

Beau Strickland

Xi Wei

Jolie Yick


Sharon Akkara

Kalpita Balu

Kanav Bansal

Alexia Broughton

Alexis Cunningham

Peter Dobbins

Kalista Doherty

Tyler Duong

Anushka Jog

Srinidhi Kanchi Krishnamachari

Alexandra Karelina

Lili Loney

Shubham Marathe

Jay Patel

Mira Prabhakar

Ashwin Prabou

Jayaram Reddy

Youning Shen

Taran Vatturi



Dylan Burlingame

Genevieve Kuhn

Shawn Singh





Sione Hingano

Justin Snow


Mykhailo Kosenk


Emmanuel Vazquez


Kiana Golchin


Oliver Smallridge


Kylie Chung


Nathaniel Forsyth

Peyton Harris

Riley Preston

Jacob Trombley

Out of State- 4 year


Rojan Haghnegahdar

Tanvi Pandya


Fechi Evoh

Marisa Keels

Mia Maldonado


McKenna Mahoney


Hiba Farzard


Alyssa Villarde


Kiera Callaway


Mihir Aggarwal

Sriya Burra


Kayla Henderson


Amanda Braaten


Alexandra Herrick

Carlise Mendoza

Brock Scanlan


Riley Brown


Aidan AuYeung


Benjamin Lewis

Marvin Yi


Erica Dembrowicz


Sophia DiGiovanni


Karina Linarez

Andrew Sorroche

Caleb Van Randwyk



Tannistha Singh


Emily Villalpando



Sam Millen


Tor Alvey


Baiyu Zhu


Hunter Scruggs


Gautam Vedula

Aleeza Zakai


Sofia Fernando


Julian Ackerman


Raymond Liang Chen

Kevin Goodman

Julia Rocha

Natallie Raye Salacup


Catherine Johnson


Bonisha Maitra

Jesse Mount


Minseo Kim

Alice Oh


Ishan Swamy


Mia Rabuco

Amelia Saravia

Luke Wallace


California Bailey


Tyler Cheung

Harris Durrani

Elise Kim


Kian Kasad

Liam Moore

Baari Syed


Arfa Saad


Ridhi Goyal

Arpita Gupta


Kyah Earls


Kavya Tharshanan


Tanya Belani

Anais Bratt

Emily Xu


Derek Horn


Darren Murphy

Pranav Sannaasi


Samantha Lentzen


Chaeie Kim

Sophia Pedersoli



Patrick Lee


Nimisa Panda


Mia Divito


Jehan Vanniasinkam

Pranav Khosla


Bryce Wijesekara



Sophia Barberi

Annabelle Hentz

Isabel Talwar



Ryan Chu



Anirud Lappathi



Khushboo Pandya



Tiare Vasconcellos

Mihir Arya



Xinyi Wang



AJ Delvizis

Brooke Duke

Adam El-Taki

Athena Berris

Isaac Curiel

Alexander Delvizis

Sydney Forest

Lindsey Gomm

Brady Penot

Lily Zalmai

Alexis Duke


Gaia Landsman


Kylie Matek


Wesley Miller


Katie Tsang



Anya Mahajan


Maddie Garcia

Kai Kawanabe

Makena Kwon



Saachi Sharma

Kenzie Atallah

Gianina Roepken



Naren Raghuraman


Tejas Mahesh



Neel Kulkarni



Sienna Lewis


Romeo Tigner

Community College


Ben Frederick



Jaidan Apalon


Madeline Angeles

Jawad Asaad

Ananya Baskaran

Aidan Bilyk

Marquez Bishop

Aidan Buck

Joey Camat

Zach Cotta

Sydney Dang

Cole Dluzak

Kean Flanagan

Jack Fletcher

Matthew Geach

Collin Gillespie

Jisel Gray

Michael Guo

Ella Heinz

Kaylee Hernandez

Muizz Ibrar

Ella Jaime

Ashlie Jones

Melina Kamranifard

Kent Kawashima

Patrick Kiley

Brandon Kong

Varsha Kuchibotla

Austin LaMarche

Benjamin Lustig

Marisa Martins

Andre Moeinimanesh

Safoora Nabi

Sean Nishimoto

Ella O’Connell

Michelle Osnovikov

Nazareth Pineda

Lily Pourhashemi

Kathir Rajesh Kannan

Justin Reyes

Drew Rogers

Summer Russell

Raiden Schild

Eric Slack

Ali Taheri

May Tijero

Elena Town

Alexandra Vanier

Rohan Walton

Alec Washler

Micah Weete

Nicholas Wong

Edison Zhu

Emma Zweidinger


Hunter Burns

Diego Cervantes

Charlie Darlington

William Ellis

Kian Esfandiari

Catherine Le

Gregory Mau

Jordyn Porter



Adel Rose

Josef Sackl

Isaiah Valle



Diego Zuno



Cameron Darnell

Dylan Farrell

Jack McNally


Joseph Ferreira






Illustrations by Judy Luo

Page design by Sophia DiGiovanni

and Trisha Sarkar

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