November 2023 Issue

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100 Lakeview Canyon Rd. Westlake Village, CA 91362

Volume XLVII | Issue 2 | November 7, 2023

Mike Johnson

selected as

House speaker

“The Adventures of

Fawn and Frog,”

a comic strip

WHS regiment

marches to

successful season

page 4 page 10 page 14









Table of Contents

Middle East

engulfed in conflict

Teacher fun facts

crossword puzzle

Thanksgiving faces

ongoing controversy

The Hunger Games

prequel sets to release

Civic education

needs more funding

Boys water polo, girls tennis

finish season strong

Fall staff picks






100 N. Lakeview Canyon Road

Westlake Village, CA 91362

(805) 497–6711 ext. 4225

The Arrow is written, designed and run

by the students of the Advanced Journalism

and Journalism 1CP classes at Westlake

High School. The opinions expressed in this

publication are those of the writers and do not

necessarily represent those of the Conejo Valley

Unified School District, Westlake High School

administration, faculty or student body. We

welcome feedback. Letters must be signed by

the writer.



Gratitude strengthens

mental health

by shane douglas, grace hefner &

allison tieu


Being a teenager is a trying time. From the hormonal changes

to the stresses of high school and the obsession to constantly

improve, it can be difficult for some to find the time, effort

or mindset to express emotions such as gratitude.

As difficult as it may be, expressing gratitude might

be the remedy that’s needed. Science suggests that an

obsession over constant improvement is unhealthy.

Rather than obsessing over more, people should

be expressing gratitude for what they have as

little or as large of significance it may hold

as gratitude is often directly correlated with

happiness and fulfillment.

Expressing gratitude has scientifically

been found to increase dopamine and

serotonin levels. These chemicals are

released by the brain, increasing

one’s level of happiness. As gratitude

is expressed on a daily basis, the

neural pathways that transfer

these important neural signals

strengthen. Hence, regular

expression of gratitude can

correspond to more regular

feelings of happiness, and people

can “develop a more positive and happier outlook

overall,” according to byrdie.com column “The Neuroscience

of Gratitude” by Kayla Barnes.

Although people can express gratitude every so often,

whether that be during holidays, family gatherings, or in happy

moments in one’s life, in order to truly integrate happiness into

one’s life, gratitude must be expressed amidst uneventful, even

sorrowful times.

By expressing gratitude in these tough moments — moments

when one least feels the urge to do so — one can condition the

brain to subconsciously express gratitude and an appreciation for

the positive aspects of one’s life. For example, if a student receives

a bad grade on a test, while they may be disappointed, they are

able to acknowledge the hard work they put into studying and be

back page editor



shane douglas, grace hefner & allison tieu

co–web editors–in–chief

sania gali & summer nichols

business manager

alexa koniares

news section editor

sania gali

news editor

anna bronk & lanza peretti

feature section editor

laura teegarden

feature editors

kalia bell, anna bronk, delaney bronk, scarlett

brisbin, alexa koniares & anya monga

arts & entertainment section editor

summer nichols

arts & entertainment editors

savannah gifford, ayushi khattar, kay martin &

devon valance

Arrow Staff

chenya kwon

able to move on, preparing themselves for the next test.

A more constant expression of gratitude is also proven

to optimize the functionality of the hypothalamus within the

brain. An optimally–functioning and regulated hypothalamus

often leads to deeper sleep, according to Barnes. Expressing

gratitude allows people to have more resilience when faced

with difficult or stressful challenges as well, as it can

reduce one’s level of cortisol, a stress hormone,

according to healthcare.utah.edu.

As busy high school students and developing

young adults, getting adequate sleep while all

the while limiting stress can go a long way in

improving both one’s day–to–day physical and

mental health. If people want to feel their best

selves on a daily basis, developing gratitude

as a permanent trait is crucial.

What’s scientifically more important

than expressing gratitude, however, is

receiving it from others, according to

neuroscientist Andrew Huberman on

hubermanlab.com. Since it’s impractical

to wait to receive gratitude from others,

Huberman suggests starting a gratitude

journal. This way you can still receive

gratitude, but the difference is that you are

receiving this appreciation from yourself.


A gratitude journal mirrors this process

of receiving gratitude from others that is

crucial in developing gratitude.

With Thanksgiving break around the corner,

a little extra time can be dedicated to demonstrating thanks

towards those around you — be it parents or guardians, siblings,

friends or even strangers on the streets. Something as simple as a

saying “thank you” to express gratitude can be just what is needed

to add more positivity into one’s life.

Shane Douglas, Grace Hefner & Allison Tieu

The 2023–‘24 Editor Team

opinion section editor

opinion editors

sports section editor

james miller

lucas van parys

kalia bell

sports editors

gianna byrd, tomas galioto, marta king &

breanna zide

copy editor

james miller

photo editor

lucas van parys

graphics editors

savannah gifford & anya monga

social media managers

ayushi khattar & kay martin

web design editor

lucas van parys


karie lynch

by sania gali

news section editor

On Oct. 7, 2023, Hamas, the Iran–backed

political and military governance of the

Gaza strip, a Palestinian territory, infiltrated

the Israel–Gaza border, killing 1,300 Israeli

civilians and soldiers and at least 31 American

citizens. Hamas, a US–designated terrorist

group, has fired thousands of rockets into Israel

since and has forced over 180 hostages into the

Gaza strip.

“Oct. 7, which was a sacred Jewish holiday,

became the deadliest day for the Jewish people

since the Holocaust,” said President Joe Biden

in a televised press briefing. “It has brought to

the surface painful memories and scars left by

a millennia of antisemitism and the genocide of

the Jewish people.”

The militant group’s acts of terror have

resulted in the largest Jewish death casualty

since the Holocaust and has left the Israeli

towns of Sderot, Kfar Aza, Nahal Oz, Be’eri and

Ashkelon reeling from the violence. Hamas has

taken children believed to be as young as infants

as hostages.

“It’s horrifying,” said Jewish Student Union

co–president Hayley Shukiar ‘24. “Ever since

[that] Saturday, it’s been really challenging

knowing that’s what’s been going on, and we are

all the way over here. We’re kind of displaced

from where it’s happening, [yet] it still feels

personal. It’s terrifying to know that the reason

why these people are being killed is because

they are Jewish.”

In response to the militant group, Israel

officially declared war on Hamas on Oct. 16 and

has fired over 6,000 missiles into the Gaza strip

with aims of disbanding Hamas’s control. The

bombing has left over 1.1 million Palestinians

displaced and over 9,000 people killed as of Nov.

6, according to un.org.

“I believe [the bombing in Gaza] is

inhumane,” said Anthony Quevedo–Gomes

‘24. “I think that what Israel is doing is

incorrect, but I do believe that both sides have

gone through a lot. The killing of children on

both sides is horrific.”

The Israeli government is facing broad

criticisms from Arab nations in the UN for the

bombings in Gaza. Though Israel disputes the

accusations, many nations claim Israel has not

given Gazans adequate time to evacuate. However,

the only point of exit from the 25 mile long Gaza

strip to Egypt is border crossing Rafah which

has suffered under heavy missile fire from Israeli

Defense Forces. As of

Oct. 22, the border

continues to only be

open to humanitarian

aid leaving millions of

Palestinians and 600

Americans trapped

in the crossfire,

according to state.gov.

“I don’t believe

in carpet bombing

especially [since] they’re saying they want to [get

rid of] the biggest leaders of Hamas, but does it

really outweigh the lives of innocent people?” said

Quevedo–Gomes. “Are we really going to have to

carpet bomb all these places [where] families live

just to [get rid of] the big, main guys?”

The United States has been a constant ally

of the state of Israel. A few hours after the attack,

President Joe Biden gave a televised press briefing

to the world reaffirming American support to

Israel, and he announced more aid to Israel and

UN humanitarian efforts in the coming weeks.

Source: britannica.org

“Today, I’m also announcing $100 million

in new US funding for humanitarian assistance

in both Gaza and the West Bank,” said Biden.

“This money will support more than 1 million

displaced and conflict–affected Palestinians,

including emergency needs in Gaza. We

have stood by [Israel’s] side ever since [their

founding], and we’re going to stand by [their]

side now.”

Israel and Palestinian have had over 16

military clashes since their founding in 1948

which has led to harsh sentiments on both

sides. The region is known for its constant

conflicts over land between

the two ethnic sides, Israelis

and Palestinians, and their

respective religions, Judaism

and Islam. As a result, a

common flash point has been

the city of Jerusalem which is

home to the Temple Mount

— the most sacred Jewish

site and third most sacred

Islamic site.

“Israel has always been a place where there

[has been] lots of violence, but at the same

time there has been peace between different

beliefs and groups of people,” said Shukiar. “In

Jerusalem there is the Muslim quarter, the Jewish

quarter and the Christian quarter. Walking

through [the quarters], ... it was peaceful and it

seemed that people could coexist, but whenever

[incidents] like this happen, it makes it a lot

harder to believe that [peace] is possible.”

Historically, the tensions have been over

ownership of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.


Middle East engulfed in conflict


do hope there is

peace ... Israel and

Palestine can live in

peace if they can come up

with an [equal land] solution.”

– Fatima Mapara


Currently, the majority of the Temple Mount

is inhabited by the Al–Aqsa Mosque which

is under the control of the Palestinian

government with support from other Arab

nations. The Golden Dome, the main part of

the mosque, can only be accessed by Muslims,

with Christians and Jews being prohibited

from entering.

The Wailing Wall, a portion of the

boundary of the mosque’s compound, is the

only place of worship for the Jewish people;

however, more recently, flashpoints have

started when Jewish residents and pilgrims

have forcefully entered the main mosque

compound. Hamas alleges that their attack

on Israeli villages is over the Mosque’s

subsequent intrusion.

“I do hope there is peace,” said Muslim

student Fatima Mapara ‘24. “I don’t want the

land to only belong categorically to one group of

people. Jerusalem is home to all three religions,

and it’s not fair to say, ‘I only hope this land

belongs to Muslims’, or ‘I only hope this place

belongs to Jews … or Christians.’ Israel and

Palestine can live in peace if they can come up

with an [equal land] solution.”

With tensions growing every day, a

renewed call for humanity has been echoing

around the world with politicians and regular

individuals speaking out against the violence

and calling for people’s safety in the Israel–

Gaza conflict.

“[The victims] are not the product of

their government,” said Jewish Student Union

co–president Jackson Scarbrough ‘24. “They

[were] just trying to live their lives in peace.”


WHS Auction

WHS’s senior class will hold an

online auction from Nov. 1–15, offering

various prizes to help fund senior class

graduation and alleviate costs of other

senior activities. Some items being

auctioned include front row Dodgers

tickets, spa treatments and more. Items

vary in price with starting bids ranging

from $50–500. The online auction link is


T.O Library

undergoes changes

The Grant R. Brimhall Library in

Thousand Oaks is aiming to renovate and

freshen up its space succeeding its 40th

anniversary. Meetings are currently being

held to determine what renovations, if any,

will best align with the community.

Community members are encouraged

to attend meetings at the library to give

input on construction as they work directly

alongside the architects. Some proposed ideas

include more advanced technology and more

accessible programs such as local events for

everyone. If one is unable to attend in–person

meetings, there is a link at tolibrary.org to

fill out a form submission detailing changes

community members would like to see.

New California


On Oct. 3, 2023, Laphonza Butler was

sworn in as the new senator of California

after being appointed by Governor Gavin

Newsom following former California senator

Dianne Feinstein’s death. She is making

strides as the first openly LGBTQ+ US

Senator. Butler is the president of EMILYs

List, an organization that aids women in

gaining positions in office.

The position will only be temporary

for Butler as she has decided not to pursue

it in the upcoming 2024 California Senate

election. Butler’s decision was made after a

long reflection starting at the beginning of

her interim term on how she would align

with her role and its values. This comes as

California gears up for a competitive 2024

senate race.

Revised AP history


College Board’s Board of Trustees

has made many changes to the AP History

classes to increase equity for all students.

In AP European History and US History,

the writing section has been changed so a

minimum of four sources must be used as

evidence in order to gain two points on the

response. This is in contrast to the previous

rubric requiring a minimum of six sources

necessary to receive the two points.

The new rubric modifies the analysis

part of scoring which takes less time for all

students to sift through evidence and decide

what is important. This decision came as a

shock to many teachers and students alike

as it had not been officially announced prior

to the new rubric’s release. AP exams will

continue to take place in online or written

format throughout the 2023–‘24 school year.

Compiled by Kay Martin


High school students

can preregister at

16–years–old and

vote at 18–years–old.

Go on the internet and search


Click “Preregister to Vote” for

CA residents ages 16-17 and fill

out the application.

The day that you become 18,

you are automatically eligible to

vote if you are a US citizen.

Visit your local voting station

and cast your ballot on

Election Day.

Source: registertovote.ca.gov





TO observes five year anniversary of Borderline

by marta king

sports editor

Nov. 7, 2023 marks the five–year

anniversary of the shooting at Borderline

Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks. Twelve

people, including a Ventura County Sheriff ’s

sergeant, lost their lives.

“The community is what helped all

of us together to this four–year mark,” said

Molly Maurer, a survivor of the shooting,

according to nbclosangeles.com, as Thousand

Oaks commemorated the fourth anniversary

of Borderline in 2022. “It’s important to keep

that going and know that we’re all still here

for each other.”

One of the ways in which the community

came together to show support amidst the time

of grieving was by unveiling a Healing Garden

at Conejo Creek North Park, with 12 granite

benches and 12 pond jets to symbolize the lives

lost. A large oak tree was planted in soil made of

composted flowers that had been placed outside

Borderline in the weeks following the tragedy.

“On my wall, it says: ‘The strongest oaks have

the deepest roots,’” said Principal Jason Branham.

“That was actually from the Borderline Memorial,

and that little piece of stone was cut away when

they made the memorial.”

The shooting rattled the Ventura County

community. Now, five years later, many people

recall where they were when they learned of

the tragedy.

“I’ll never forget,” said Branham. “I was

driving to work that morning when my dad, who

by ayushi khattar

Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R–CA) was

ousted as speaker of the House of Representatives

after a 216–210 vote on Oct. 3, 2023.

Representative Matt Gaetz (R–FL) initiated the

motion to vacate McCarthy due to disagreement

with McCarthy’s stopgap funding measure.

The position was filled by Representative Mike

Johnson (R–LA) on Oct. 25, 2023.

“I don’t think it’s surprising,” said Doug

Freed, AP Microeconomics and AP US

Government teacher.

“When [McCarthy] first


was elected speaker,


one of the conditions

that he reached with his

conference … was that at

any point any one of them

could initiate this motion

to vacate the chair. He

took the job, essentially,

with the sword of

Damocles hanging over

his head, and it’s not

surprising that at some

point someone was willing to trigger [it] when

they had a disagreement with him.”

Over three weeks, representatives Steve

Scalise (R–LA), Jim Jordan (R–OH) and Tom

Emmer (R–MN) won nominations for speaker,

but they all abandoned the race. Scalise pulled

his ballot after realizing he would not earn

enough votes and Jordan forsook his bid after

losing three House votes to become speaker.

Emmer grasped the lack of Republican support

he received and withdrew his campaign.

Johnson’s election as speaker marks the

end of a period of uncertainty for the House.

REMEMBERED IN SERENITY: The TO Strong memorial at the Conejo Creek North Park pays

homage to everyone lost in the tragic events of Borderline. It sits in front of flowing water in the park,

providing a calm environment for remembrance and reflection.

lives in Texas, called me asking if we were okay.

I said, ‘What are you talking about?’ because I

hadn’t looked at the news yet.”

To commemorate the five–year

anniversary of the Borderline tragedy, WHS’s

ASG is holding a spirit wear day on Nov. 7.

The previous year, to honor those who

died at Borderline, students wore WHS colors,

Borderline Strong or TO Strong shirts.

“On days where we are remembering

a somber event, we do not tie in a reward for

showing spirit,” said ASG member Kayla

However, his selection does not necessarily

mean instant change.

“Not much will change with anyone being

speaker of the House [versus] another person,”

said Tyler Limcaco ‘26. “The House itself is

much larger than just one person. Although that

one person does lead those discussions [and] the

voting, … it’s still going to remain relatively the

same, and they’re not going to get anything done.

They haven’t for the past three years under Biden,

they hadn’t for the past four years under Trump,

… so it’s just going to continue that way.”

Before vacating, McCarthy made a temporary

deal with Democrats to avoid the government

shutdown in September

after Congress failed to

compromise and authorize

spending for the new fiscal

year. That deal provides

interim funding to the

government until Nov. 17;

if funding is not authorized

by then, the government

will shut down.

Although a speaker

is now in place, the prior

absence led to a lack of

organization. Johnson

must now work to try and reach the Nov. 17

deadline amidst the absence’s after effects.

“Looming shutdowns and fights in

Congress over the budget are nothing new, and

when Speaker McCarthy took the job with this

precondition that it would be so easy to get rid

of him, he must’ve known that that was going to

come up here,” said Freed. I think [the absence]

makes it a little bit harder to get everything done.”

In a government shutdown, all nonessential

federal services halt; federal employees for

agencies deemed nonessential do not work or get

paid during this period, according to brookings.

Setareh ‘24. “We hand out [small items] like

wristbands so that everyone can participate. It is

more a show of support and unification.”

Thousand Oaks suffered a horrific accident,

but as a community, it came together in support,

love and compassion.

“When we talk about Borderline, it is

something that vastly impacted our community

and will impact it for our entire lives,” said

Branham. “It is important to bring people

together at a time where people sometimes try

to break a community apart.”

Mike Johnson selected as House speaker

a&e editor

much will

change with

anyone being

speaker of the House [versus]

another person. The House

itself is much larger than just

one person.”

–Tyler Limcaco

edu. Some affected services include national

park maintenance, food inspections, nutrition

programs and social services, according to

npr.org. The prior vacancy could lead to the

shutdown lasting longer if it occurs due to the

House’s disorganization during the absence.

“The National Federation for Federal

Employees, one of the unions that represents

federal workers, estimates that 2.1 million

civilian federal workers could see delayed

paychecks and roughly 4 million federal contract

workers could receive no paycheck,” according

to npr.org. “A representative for the Capital

Area Food Bank in Washington told NPR the

organization is making preparations for as many

as 100,000 federal workers who could need food

assistance if the government shuts down.”

The effect of having no speaker is also

visible in international issues. With the Israel–

Palestine conflict, the United States’ ability to

interfere was compromised for several weeks

due to the difficulty of financing support

without a permanent speaker.

“I think without having a united front we

can’t help at all,” said Katie Beaven ‘25. “If we don’t

have a speaker and we’re not organized ourselves,

then we don’t have a way we can provide support

or help to the people that need it.”

The inability to select a speaker reflects

most on the Republican party. The split between

moderate and conservative Republicans

creates an inability to compromise, making the

Republicans appear weaker in comparison to

Democrats, according to Kiersten Roth ‘24.

“Because Republicans are trying to claim

power, it makes this [hard] because it’s the

extreme [Democrats] against the extreme

[Republicans],” said Roth. “We can’t even make

a decision because those two will never back

down; they’re so engraved in their beliefs [that]

they cannot back down.”



Flea markets attract all types of shoppers

Melrose Trading Post

People can shop, browse or just truly enjoy the experience.

The Melrose Trading Post takes place every Sunday from 9

a.m.–5 p.m. at Fairfax High School in Los Angeles. Anyone who

wants to shop or browse can attend for $6 per person.

This flea market presents a display of vintage fashion and

unique finds. It includes various food stands as well as live music

to enjoy, according to melrosetradingpost.org.

“I really love it there,” said Leah Kainen ‘25. “There’s pottery,

clothing racks, homemade stuff, antiques, art, bags and all sorts of

random things. It’s also super fun talking to the sellers there.”

Shopping or selling supports youth education at Fairfax

High School as well. Whitney Weston and Pierson Blaetz

co–founded the Melrose Trading Post in 1997. Through their

nonprofit, Greenway Arts Alliance, they have raised more than

$10 million in funding.

Rose Bowl Flea Market

Smelling food and hearing live music are only the beginning

of the fun while shopping for new items.

The Rose Bowl Flea Market has been thriving since 1968 as

one of the most highly attended and profitable flea markets in the

United States. Visitors can attend on the second Sunday of every

month at the Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena for $20 from 5–9

a.m. or $12 from 9 a.m.–3 p.m.

“I love thrifting at places like the Rose Bowl,” said Andrés

Houser ‘24. “Just walking around, you can find so many cool things

and different clothes you like.”

The market features unique products, quality venders and a

wide range of items, both secondhand and new. There are over 2,500

vendors and 20,000 buyers each month, according to rgcshows.com.

This flea market has thrifted clothes, little boutiques, food stands,

antique items and other various pieces to buy.


Topanga Vintage Market

Hidden treasures can be found among a variety of pieces.

It’s the shopper’s job to find them.

The Topanga Vintage Market features about 200 vendors

and about three dozen local creatives. Admission is $5, and

it takes place at Pierce College in Los Angeles on the fourth

Sunday of every month from 7 a.m.–2 p.m.

“It’s pretty expensive, but there are so many good clothes

options at Topanga,” said Sayuri Muto ‘26. “I only got things like

records and items when I went, but it’s definitely a great idea to go.”

This market specializes in quality pieces from the past

and one of a kind products. In addition to the food trucks

and live entertainment, shoppers can enjoy browsing through

furniture, fashion, toys, antique items, handmade pieces and

more, according to topangavintagemarket.com.

Compiled by Alexa Koniares

The Arrow crossword puzzle: teacher fun facts





1. Which teacher’s favorite sport is pickleball?

4. Which teacher loves the Green Bay Packers?

6. Which teacher loves Taco Tuesday?

7. Which teacher practices Fortnite Friday?

8. Which teacher’s jam is combustion?

Answer key available at westlakearrow.net feature section


2. Which teacher goes on a hike on Fridays?

3. Which teacher was honored by President Obama?

5. Which teacher has a skeleton in their closet?

Compiled by Devon Valance & Lucas Van Parys




Thanksgiving faces ongoing controversy

by anna bronk & breanna zide

feature & news editors

Thanksgiving was declared an annual

holiday by Abraham Lincoln in November

of 1863. The intention was to represent the

culmination of the pilgrims and the indigenous

tribe they met when the Mayflower traveled to

North America.

The Mayflower traveled with Pilgrims

and arrived at Plymouth Rock in 1620, and

the first Thanksgiving was said to have been

held in October of 1621 in which there was a

three–day feast attended by members of the

Wampanoag tribe and people who arrived

on the Mayflower, according to britannica.

com. Thanksgiving is frequently associated

with an event that soothed the tense relations

between the indigenous people and the

settlers. However, this is far from the truth

as disagreements continued to occur, causing

further fighting.

“I think there is this conception that

Thanksgiving happened, [everyone] laid

down the weapons, and then it was all

peaceful after that which is just not the case,

unfortunately,” said James Wyllie, Honors

US History and World History CP teacher.

“Especially in the New England area, there

were a series of wars fought against the

settlers and these native groups.”

One misconception may stem from the

curriculum in primary schools such as the way the

Wampanoag tribe, who encountered the Pilgrims,

is portrayed through stereotypical clothing.

“One of the many issues with the holiday is

its depiction in school … Many children decorate

Native American headdresses, which frequently

bear no resemblance to the headdresses, clothes

and feathers worn by the Wampanoag tribe,”

according to independent.co.uk.

Generally, from a young age, students all

over America have celebrated Thanksgiving

through traditions in school that misrepresent

indigenous people’s culture as there is little

education on the true history of the holiday.

“I feel like history in general just never

covers non–European history when it comes to

how America was formed,” said Oglala Sioux

tribe member Sophia DeVitis ‘26.

Today, Thanksgiving is perceived

differently for various individuals. For some, the

holiday represents a time of mourning lost tribe

members and indigenous people, while others

may honor their life and legacy.

“Thanksgiving Day is a time of grief for

Native Americans,” according to potawatomi.

org. “Many [Native Americans] continue to

gather at Cole’s Hill near Plymouth Rock and

remember the losses experienced for the

past 400–plus through the National Day

of Mourning.”

To help correct

historical inaccuracies

concerning the events of

Thanksgiving, people

can seek education on

indigenous cultures and

work to protect those cultures

through efforts such as the preservation of

indigenous reservations and languages.

“Looking into ways that we can support

indigenous communities today that still very much

exist and are largely overlooked by federal policy

and government policy [is beneficial],” said Wyllie.

Indigenous people celebrate the holiday

differently, varying from person to person.

“I think the origins are misrepresented,”

said DeVitis. “My family doesn’t usually

celebrate it as Thanksgiving. We just … have a

big meal [together].”

In order to reveal the truths

behind Thanksgiving, Dr. Kelli

Mosteller, Citizen Potawatomi

Nation’s Cultural Heritage

Center director,

recommends people

seek to understand


indigenous views

on the holiday.


“For those in education, Dr. Kelli Mosteller,

[Citizen Potawatomi Nation’s Cultural Heritage

Center director], encourages seeking alternative

curriculum and guest speakers from Native

communities that can shine an appropriate

light on the holiday’s history,” according to



Stop Drowning Now

Safer 3 (Stop Drowning Now) is the WHS

branch of a drowning prevention movement

in the Conejo Valley community that spans

multiple campuses. Meetings are held once a

month on Wednesdays in 43W.

“Our goal is to educate people about the

[potential] dangers of swimming,” said Safer 3

Co–president Mitra Sathish ‘25. “Drowning is a

very dangerous thing, and it happens very quickly

… and can happen to anyone. So, [our goal] is to

educate the community about those dangers.”

Safer 3 focuses on reaching out to the

community through the Westlake Village City

Council and other outreach events, including

community fairs and handing out informational

fliers. Additionally, they have done multiple

events and partnership with the Westlake

Village City Council.

“We do a lot of [activities] for the community

and a lot of community outreach,” said Safer 3 co–

president Leonardo Ragogna ‘25. “The effects our

club has on the community are very apparent.”

Club Corner

PHOTO COURTESY OF stopdrowningnow.org

Allergy Awareness

Allergy Awareness Club is a new club

to WHS that emphasizes the importance of

accommodations for students with food allergies.

The club meets every other Thursday in 43D.

“The goal of our club is to spread more

awareness about allergies in our school and

community,” said club president Suzy Youn

‘25. “Some of the things we’re working to do

[include starting] discussions about different

types of allergies and other conditions related

to allergies during our meetings.”

The club’s objective is to increase

understanding and support for students with

dietary restrictions at WHS. She aims to start small

and grow to reach partnerships beyond campus.

“We are planning to make an allergy–

friendly cookbook during the second semester

this year,” said Youn. “We’re also hoping to work

with the district and the school [on a leadership

level] to create allergy–friendly solutions on

Westlake’s campus.”

Compiled by Savannah Gifford


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CREATIVE CUSTOMIZATIONS: Artist and fashion designer

Sebastian Costache ‘27 customizes denim, inspired by his family’s

history with the arts. “[My great–grandfather] did painting,

boxing, gardening and everything under the sun, so I take

inspiration from that and try to balance out my life like him,”

said Costache. “My grandmother was a music teacher,

but she painted in watercolor, which is my favorite

medium. She also learned to

sew … Seeing that all really

inspired me to continue

my family’s legacy even

in this modern day

and age.”

ATTAINING ACCOLADES: Actress Olivia Marcum ‘26 has been a

performer since her first performance in Matilda when she was

10. In a competitive industry, she has found success in being

a part of multiple productions including The Exorcist:

Believer. “I think that performing has given me an outlet

and a way to feel less alone through relating to other

people and their emotions,” said Marcum. “When

times get hard, I always know that I have this way to

keep connected to people and

a way to express myself.”


Sebastian Costache ‘27


Olivia Marcum ‘26



‘25 uses unconventional mediums such as whiteboard markers to

create his cartoons. He is inspired by everything from childhood

cartoons such as Tom and Jerry and Looney Tunes to his own

imagination. “[My cartoons are] eye–opening, mainly for the

pure amount of creativity that can be opened with just a

pencil and a paper,” said Esqueda. “That’s all that comes

down to it. Anything you can imagine,

you can just plop it down.”

Alex Esqueda ‘25


Creativity’s benefits for students include stress management,

T h e

e a r l i e s t

recordings of art, dated over

40,000 years old, were paintings on cave

walls and were viewed as the pinnacles of

artistic creation. However, in today’s age, there

are limitless varieties of ways people express

themselves with their imagination and creativity.

Creativity is the possession of curiosity and one’s

ability to be innovative and observative, according to

psychologytoday.com. Aside from the textbook definition, many

also have more personal conceptions of creativity.

“Creativity is creating anything,” said first chair trombonist

Luciano Soriano ‘24. “People will say that you have to abide by

certain rules, … [but] creativity is just whatever you want to do.”

At WHS, students unleash their creativity in a multitude of ways,

ranging from art to music to acting and everything in between.

“Some people use art and drawings to express themselves, some

people use dance and some people use singing, and I guess performing

is a little bit of everything,” said theatrical performer Maddie Ragsdale

‘24. “People get to see you showcase your creativity.”

For some students, a motivation to create might stem from a

more general appreciation for the arts.

“I think my favorite part about [acting] is storytelling,” said

actress Olivia Marcum ‘26. “I’ve always been big into storytelling and

conveying emotion through people, and acting plays a big part in that.

For others, their creative endeavor may aim towards more specific

goals such as bringing attention to certain issues or experiences.

“I think [the idea for our podcast]

popped up because we always wanted to



bring awareness to athletes in our region

and wanted to give a platform to those

who might not have a voice,” said sports

podcaster and athlete Jace Adeva ‘24.

More broadly, creativity can also

widen horizons and increase exposure

to education and different cultures.

“[Creativity] really helps

education because we go to school,

and we just learn facts,” said school

muralist Ariana Liu ‘24, “but

creativity can also help us learn

interesting cultures outside

of your norm and exchange

thoughts and ideas.”

Creating can have a number of benefits

even aside from the aforementioned. For

many, it can be a way to help relieve stress,

a prevalent aspect of many students’ lives

especially as a side effect of demanding

classes. In fact, such creativity “engages

and focuses our minds on the task

at hand — and distracts us from

feelings of stress and anxiety,” said

Deepak Chopra and Kabir Sehgal in


“I’ve been doing [art] since I was

a little kid, so it not only helps me with

college applications, but it also helps

me manage stress,” said artist and home

muralist Talya Di Carlo ‘27. “It gives me

something to do when I’m bored, and it gives

me a creative outlet to kind of do whatever I

want and experiment.”

Artistic activities can help students

address stress through providing students with

the tools to adjust to unexpected or difficult

events in their lives.

“I [create music] more for myself because, for me,

it’s like a form of therapy,” said musician Emmy Julian

‘24. “If

I’m writing songs

about my life, it’s easier for me to

process what’s happening in my life … It’s

just a way of getting out my feelings and thoughts

in an organized way.”

Another way these pastimes help manage stress

is by providing a sense of escapism and a source of

satisfaction and joy.

“Even if you don’t pursue [your creative passion]

professionally, having an outlet like that is a really great way to

escape the problems we face in our modern age,” said artist and

fashion designer Sebastian Costache ‘27. “At the end of the day,

you have something beautiful that’s in front of you. It’s like, ‘Wow,

I created this.’”

Furthermore, inventiveness can improve students’ emotional and

mental state because it has been “positively associated with subjective

well–being,” according to nbci.nlh.gov.

“The lights are hitting you, and you’re in your costume, and you

know the choreo, and there’s people you see in the audience,” said

Ragsdale. “It’s definitely a moment that not many people get to

experience — to have everyone watching you. It’s a certain amount

of pressure, but it’s good pressure, and it feels so exciting.”

Beyond the individual, creative activities can also build

interpersonal relationships by incorporating other people into the

final product.

“[The mural I am painting in my living room] is three different

paintings,” said Di Carlo. “It’s an eye and has my last name in graffiti. It has

“love” on the top of it in graffiti. On the other side of the

career preparedness and building interpersonal relationships.

as much as

people pursue art

as a business, it

should always be seen as a

passion. I think of it as I’m

trying to make the world a

more beautiful place, and I

think that’s more important

than anything.”

–Sebastian Costache

paintings is my mom and dad, and on the opposite side of that

is [my brother and I]. It kind of brings us together.”

Integrating cherished friends and family members into one’s

art can also appear in the form of gifting one’s creative works in

order to express heartfelt emotions to them.

“I can give stuff I make,” said Jessica Lopez ‘25,

amigurumi crocheter, an art otherwise known as

‘the Japanese craft of crocheting small stuffed toys,’

according to the website www.thesprucecrafts.com. “I

take time out of my day, with love … and give it to

people I find precious. It’s sweet to be able to make things

yourself for someone you love.”

Relationships and experiences with others can also

provide inspiration for arts, compounding the other

benefits these activities have.

“A lot of the music I’ve written and composed is

derived from my own personal [emotions] and just my experiences with

other people,” said Soriano.

Moreover, the benefits of creativity are not limited to the present — they

can also have a profound impact on one’s future.

“[Music] has honestly changed my life,” said Soriano. “Once I moved

here to Thousand Oaks [from the valley] and joined the band, I’d say that I’ve

finally found a purpose with what I want to do with my life.”

Creativity also has the ability to positively impact lives on a smaller

scale even if the hobby is generally unpopular and unexpected.

“I was trying to encourage my sister [to crochet],”

said Lopez. “I was like, ‘Let me show you how

to do it.’ Then it got really interesting … It

was something I really enjoyed. It changed

my life a little.”

Creativity, whether inspired by

powerful emotions or by the people one

is surrounded by, impacts and inspires

students of all walks of life across the

WHS campus.

“Art, as much as people pursue art

as a business, should always be seen as a

passion,” said Costache. “I think of it as ‘I’m

trying to make the world a more beautiful

place,’ and I think that’s more important

than anything.”

MAKING MELODIES: Composer Emmy Julian ‘24 loves music and

its many creative benefits. She is passionate about music because

it gives her a place to process her feelings and experiences. “[I

have been] playing the piano since I was five, and then I started

playing guitar when I was 10 or 11,” said Julian. “My favorite

part about it is that I think it connects people. I think that if

you have a favorite song, especially [if] that’s somebody

else’s favorite song, you can relate

to that song on different levels.”

Emmy Julian ‘24


PASSIONATE PODCASTERS: Brothers Jace Adeva ‘24 and Jax

Adeva ‘25 host the podcast Bros Before Foes to higlight WHS

student athletes. “[You see change in the athlete] because

you see them as a person you know now and not just

as an athlete,” said Adeva. “It’s not every day you see

kids our age starting a podcast. I think it’s more

something thought for older adults, but you never

really see two high schoolers, especially at our

age, [bringing] awareness to

the community.”

Jace Adeva ‘24 & Jax Adeva ‘25


DAZZLING DANCER: Dancer of 12 years Stephanie Wise

‘26 has been in many of Pacific Festival Ballet’s productions

like Camelot, Secret Garden and The Nutcracker. “My

mom put me into classes when I was a kid, and I fell

into love with performing,” said Wise. “I love getting

ready for performances and being able to be with

my friends and being on stage. [Dancing is] a way

to put emotion into something other than words

and to just show your emotion

through your movements.”

Stephanie Wise ‘26





Compiled by Kalia Bell, Delaney Bronk & Chenya Kwon



WHS wanders into Wonderland

by laura teegarden

feature section editor

The WHS Theater Company

will perform the play Alice in

Wonderland with a cast of 20

actors from Nov. 15–17. After

roles were announced on

Sept. 15, the director and

cast have spent the last two

months preparing every

Monday–Thursday and

will continue to until the

production is perfected

for show day.

In order to put on

the best play possible,

the cast practices

different aspects of

their characters to

get into their roles.

Memorizing their

lines is only

the first step.

“ T h e


of Alice is

like the Disney sort of character,” said Callista

Benavente ‘25 who plays Alice. “We’re trying to

market to kids and elementary school students

so they want to come see the show because Alice

is like a kid of her own.”

Alice is known in the story of Alice in

Wonderland for being childlike and curious, so

Benevente tries to find these aspects in herself

and bring them to life in her character. She aims

to connect Alice’s personality with her own

personality to create a characterization that is

both authentic and realistic.

“I think it’s like trying to adapt to whatever

the director’s vision is as much as myself,”

said Benavente. “I want to be able to provide

authenticity to my character and balance both

adhering to the director and also following what

I believe would be the character.”

Theater and arts teacher Tracy Bennett

is a new addition to the WHS staff. Under her

guidance the cast is given unique direction

for their parts and see a different aspect to

their acting as they prepare for the stage. They

practice everyday after school, going over their

lines, blocking and rehearsing the show.

“This is my first year here and everyone

has been super welcoming and nice,” said

Bennett. “I’m hoping that for my first show it’s

going to be great, and everybody will come

out to see it.”

With the popularity and

familiarity of the story of Alice in

Wonderland, everyone involved in the

production is looking forward to a big

turnout from students, parents and people of

all ages in the community. The cast practices

with more intensity as opening day grows

nearer. The Theater Tech class is currently

creating stage props and scenic

designs for the production.

OFF WITH HER HEAD: Savannah Whitten–Rowand ‘24 delivers a riveting performance as

the Queen of Hearts during WHS Theater’s rehersal of the trial scene in their production Alice in

“Everything has been going really good

and smoothly, but it’s now getting down to

the nitty gritty,” said Bennett. “This is the time

where we have to start putting the whole show

together and getting it on stage.”

With the nearing production date,

practices grow longer and more crucial to

finalize each scene with perfect details. Through

daily practices, the cast has created connections

with each other and formed a close bond.

“It’s a very small cast so we get to know

each other really well, and everyone is just so

sweet and really passionate about putting on

the play,” said Savannah Whitten–Rowand ‘24,

actress for the Queen of Hearts. “I also love

the director. She’s really sweet, and

it’s been a great process so far.”

The relationships

within the cast as well as with the director are

an important part of creating a successful and

impactful show. An impressive production

requires cooperation and coordination with

the members which form strong bonds

between the cast members that are crucial for a

top–quality performance.

“We actually have a really great energy going

on,” said Benavente. “We’re communicating well

and getting our ideas across clearly, and it’s

becoming a really great environment that I love

being a part of.”



The Adventures of Fawn and Frog



Anticipation builds for The Hunger Games prequel

by summer nichols

a&e section editor

The Hunger Games franchise has captured

many audiences’ attention and is returning to

theaters this fall with a highly anticipated prequel.

Adapted from Suzanne Collins’s 2020 novel,

The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and

Snakes premieres on Nov. 17. The story begins

64 years before the original Hunger Games series

and follows a young Coriolanus Snow, played by

Tom Blyth, prior to his rise to presidency in the

dystopian land of Panem.

“Coriolanus is such a complex character,”

said Blyth in an interview with Entertainment

Weekly. “He becomes the dictator that we know

him to be in the original movies, and seeing that

kind of origin story take place is something that

I just couldn’t not do.”

The film also introduces Lucy Gray Baird,

a new character to the

franchise played by Rachel

Zegler. The story presents

Baird as a District 12 tribute,

much like the protagonist

Katniss Everdeen from

The Hunger Games trilogy,

as she prepares to battle in

the 10th annual Hunger

Games. However, the

dynamic shifts when Snow

is assigned to mentor Baird,

and the film develops their

intricate relationship while

exploring the history

behind Panem and the Hunger Games themselves.

“It’s completely different [than The Hunger

Games trilogy] stylistically, in terms of design,

characters and point of view,” said producer


hope [the prequel]

is going to be as

good as the original,

but it’s kind of hard to say

because it was the [original]

characters for me that

brought the story together.”

–Annie Stoops

Nina Jacobson, according to vanityfair.com.

The shift in storyline is promising for

many fans of the franchise, especially those

who desire a closer connection between the

books and the movies.

“Personally, [I think] the original movies

were not as good as the books for me in the way

they [made me] feel about the story,” said Jack

Conrath ‘24. “Hopefully [The Hunger Games:

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes] has a closer

feeling to the books.”

Many avid Hunger Games readers

and viewers are excited by a new change in

perspective, hoping the movie will add context

and depth to characters from the original stories.

“I’ve read the books and seen the movies,

and it’s a story that I resonate with, and I love

and have loved for so many years,” said Halle

Kessler ‘24. “I’m definitely excited to see how

they interpret it with how dense the novel is

and how they are going to make parallels back

to the original.”

With this film set

more than six decades

prior to the original

Hunger Games, viewers

are looking forward to

seeing how the games

have changed.

“[Lucy Gray Baird]

was in the 10th Hunger

Games, [and this was]

before [the games] were

glamorized so [they are]

very depressing and bleak,”

said Kessler. “[The prequel]

doesn’t glamorize it like how you see in the [later]

Hunger Games.”

Collins’s Hunger Games is a widely

appreciated franchise, so many fans are

The Hunger Games prequel hits theaters Nov. 17

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes follows Lucy Gray

Baird (Rachel Zegler) and her mentor Coriolanus Snow (Tom

Blyth) as they navigate through the Hunger Games, discovering

the snakes and songbirds in their midst.

wondering whether the prequel will live up to

the original trilogy.

“I hope [the prequel] is going to be as

good as the original,” said Annie Stoops ‘27.

“But it’s kind of hard to say because it was the

[original] characters for me that brought the

story together.”

Although fans are excited by the famous

cast list for the prequel featuring prominent

names including Viola Davis, Peter Dinklage,

Hunter Schafer and more, many heads turned at

the casting of Rachel Zegler as Lucy Gray Baird.

Zegler was recently cast as Snow White in the

upcoming Snow White live–action movie, but

many were thrown off by her comments when

discussing the change in the princess’s narrative.

The repercussions from her statements

have mainly been filtered through negative

comments and threats to boycott the movie on

social media, but many worry that the general

dislike for Zegler’s personality will affect her

performance on the prequel.

“We’ll have to wait until March to see how

that ‘boycott’ plays out (if supposed first reactions

are anything to go by, Zegler is outstanding

in the role),” said Chloe James, according to

insidethemagic.net. “Before that, however,

we have The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes —

although it doesn’t sound like things are going

too hot for The Hunger Games prequel, either.”

Tickets to showings can be purchased

through fandango.com, movietickets.com,

atomtickets.com or at any local theater closer to

its release date.

“I loved the books when I first read them,

and the movies were actually really good,” said

Stoops. “Sometimes the movies aren’t as good

as the books [in other franchises], but I feel like

[The Hunger Games] movies were just as good as

the books … I’m excited to see how it turns out.”

Strengthen seasonal spirits by watching these teen throwbacks


Friday Night Lights

Friday Night Lights focuses on Texas high

school football and the intense competition

surrounding a small–town team. This five–

season show is a classic drama that centers

around the life of football players, coaches and

a fanatical football–loving town.

The series has moments of drama on the

field but usually focuses on the highs and lows

of high school in general. In the beginning, it

follows one specific team, but over time, the cast

adjusts as new characters arrive. It is is an early

2000s show too, so if one likes 2000s fashion or

music, then this is a great option.

Like many series, there is a lot of drama

involving fights and even a murder. This show

is perfect for binge–watching and is available on

Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime Video.


This show follows the main character,

Felicity Porter as she moves to New York for

college. Although she relocates to pursue her

high school crush, she finds new opportunities

and friends, entering a new era in her life.

Felicity enters the city as a sheltered,

naive girl who must adapt to a new lifestyle

and establish her independence. The show

also features some late ‘90s fashion including

plenty of bootcut jeans and varieties of

neutrals tones.

This series normalizes what young

adulthood is like and how upbringing does

not always influence one’s life choices. Felicity

is constantly tested to see if she can survive

New York’s challenges and find herself along

the way.

Dawson’s Creek

Dawson’s Creek is a typical yet classic ‘90s

show. It is dramatized — like many ‘90s shows —

yet, it depicts the social aspects and dynamics of

high school students.

The show focuses on the problems of

being a teenager such as balancing friendships

and relationships. Dawson Leery, the main

character, goes through the struggles of

growing up in the midst of changes. Joey

Potter, his childhood friend, gets involved

in Dawson’s drama which presents many

challenges. The two must adjust to their own

changing friendship during the show.

Dawson’s Creek includes the struggles

of high school and everyday life as a student.

Dawson learns to navigate his upcoming

aspirations while being true to his upbringing.

Gilmore Girls

Knit sweaters, fall leaves, turtlenecks and

hot coffee are what make fall, fall, and these

things are also often associated with Gilmore

Girls, first aired in 2000.

Gilmore Girls follows the lives of a single

mother and daughter, Lorelai Gilmore and

Rory Gilmore. The series depicts a close

relationship between Lorelai and Rory, and

how Rory’s growing dependence changes their

dynamic. Rory and Lorelai face boys, family

and their caffeine addiction, while including

moments of light comedy and constant pop

culture mentions.

Gilmore Girls is the perfect series to watch

to while wrapped up in a cozy sweater and

drinking a favorite fall beverage.

Compiled by Scarlett Brisbin



Civics needs funding over STEM

by james miller

opinion section editor

There’s scholarships for it every

week. There’s record federal spending

for it. There’s vast amounts of students

dedicated to it. Science, Technology,

Engineering, Mathematics: STEM. It’s

the best of the four best subjects — at

least, that is what most think.

It’s imperative that, as a modern

civilization in the 21st century,

society’s goal is to progress, surely.

Perhaps, in sight of a brighter

future, people have forgotten the here

and the now.

In the United States alone, 38

million people fall under the poverty

line. Globally, more than one billion

individuals live on less than one

dollar a day, according to census.gov

and un.org.

An extreme number of people

live in complete destitution, but

instead of investing in public policy

or social sciences — areas that

would help combat these issues

— modern society finds itself

encapsulated by STEM.

More alarmingly, global

democracy has seen itself on the

decline for more than 20 years,

according to freedomhouse.

com. The United States has seen

firsthand during the Jan. 6 riots

the increasing presence of right

wing populism, a phenomena

spreading throughout the world.

These populist platforms rely on

anti–immigrant sentiment and

reactionary ideology. From Poland

to the Philippines, governments are

becoming increasingly corrupt and

less accountable to their people.

The United States spends about

$50 per student on STEM education

each year. Civic education receives

the leftovers — 5 cents every year,

according to npr.org.

This is a problem because many

people find themselves overwhelmed

by their political system — from

local elections for county supervisors

to elections for House and Senate

representatives, there are so many

complex layers of government.

Without civic education, individuals

do not know how to use their voices

in a democracy.

The recent 2020 election shows

how little participation voters have.

Despite being a historic high, only

about 66.8% of eligible voters actually

cast their votes at the ballot box,

according to census.gov. At its low,

only about 40% of the US population

is voting, and that becomes even less

in local elections.

There’s a culture of indifference

in voters, but democracy is

not a spectator sport. Without

participation, many threats arise to

democratic institutions. Without

civic education or involvement,

society lacks the ability to filter

tyrants out of democracy.

One system that many countries

have opted into are compulsory

voting systems. Australia, Belgium

and Luxembourg have all seen success

with such a system, all touting above

90% voter turnout rates, according

to quillette.com. In these countries,

there is a culture around civic

participation, bringing along with

it wide accessibility and even post–

voting parties.

Other countries like Israel and

South Korea have created voting day

holidays so that working does not

hinder the process of voting.

All of these solutions require

lots of money, however, and

society’s growing obsession with

STEM will continue to put civics on

the backburner.

STEM undoubtedly brings

many benefits to society and will

continue to do so — there’s no

question about it. Whether we live

in a dystopian world or a democratic

one, that is the question we should

ask ourselves before we begin to

forget about civic education.

Civic education’s decline effect

STEM students are receiving the

bulk of the funding causing lower

numbers in voter participation.

In the last 20 years, global

democracy has been on a steep


Sources: census.gov, freedomhouse.org & npr.org

STEM students get roughly $50

a year whereas civic students get

only 5 cents.

STEM students get roughly $50

a year whereas civic students

get only 5 cents.

In the 2020 presidential election,

only around 66.8% of people

voted, the highest it has been in

the last century.



by marta king


sports editor

To test, or not to test, that is the question.

The SAT and ACT are optional standardized

exams created and administered by College

Board. They are each three–hour–long multiple

choice tests. The SAT covers reading, writing

and math, and the ACT additionally tests an

individual’s scientific reasoning.

Many students question if taking the SAT

or ACT is worthwhile because many colleges

no longer require them. After the COVID–19

pandemic, many schools became test–blind

meaning they no longer look at a student’s

SAT or ACT scores. In fact, even if the student

sends in their scores with their application, the

colleges will not review them.

However, many top schools such as MIT

and Georgetown University still require scores

from applicants. Other colleges require the test

scores for acceptance into specific programs.

Some colleges have transitioned to a test–

optional policy in which they accept a student’s

SAT or ACT scores but do not require them.

Though some colleges, like Cornell University,

continue to extend their test–optional policy

through 2024, but it is not guaranteed that

these universities will remain test–optional in

the future.

“Although some four–year colleges don’t

require an admission test score as part of your

application, the test strengthens your college

application nearly everywhere,” according to


Grades throughout high school sometimes

reflect the effort put into schoolwork, not

a person’s aptitude. By eliminating the test

completely, test–blind schools harm the

freshman who struggled to maintain high

grades or the student who did not take school

seriously despite their ability to do well.

“If your high school GPA is on the lower

side and you elect not to submit test scores,

you may lower your chances of an acceptance

letter from the admissions office,” said associate

registrar David Clingenpeel, according to forbes.

com. “By not submitting test scores, your GPA is

the primary academic indicator.”

Additionally, many juniors are unsure

which college they want to attend. It is a good

idea to take the test so students can have options

in the future. They can later decide whether

they want to submit their scores with their

application and not be limited because they

have not taken the SAT or ACT.

Moreover, many colleges publicize the

average SAT score of their admitted students,

allowing people who take the SAT to see how

their scores compare to the average students’

score of those accepted to the college.


Many people believe that the College

Board is trying to “steal their money” by

encouraging students to spend $60 on the ACT

or SAT; however, the College Board is a non–

profit organization. The revenues College Board

collects from selling the tests are used to fund its

mission, not simply to make profit.

“College Board is a mission–driven non–

profit organization that connects students to

college success and opportunity,” according to

collegeboard.org. “Founded in 1900, College Board

was created to expand access to higher education.”

If the tests are too expensive, students

can apply for a fee waiver to take

them for free. Fee waivers

are available to low

income 11th and 12th

graders. Students

can apply for a

fee waiver which

covers two test


test feedback,


score reports

to send to


w a i v e d

application fees

at participating

colleges, late


and more.

While some people feel it is not worth it to

take these tests because of the need to purchase

test prep books or classes in order to succeed,

there are many ways for students to prepare

ahead of time. Schools offer the annual PSAT,

a practice SAT available from eighth grade

through 11th grade. Khan Academy, a free,

non–profit website, provides official SAT and

ACT practice tests to prepare students for the

real exams taken in 11th and 12th grades.

Overall, taking the SAT or ACT can only be

beneficial whether a person chooses to include it in

their application or not.

Why not take it

and see?




Do students care too much about standardized testing?

Every year, thousands of students flock to testing centers all across the country

to take what some believe to be the most important tests in a high school student’s

academic career: SATs and ACTs. Are these tests worth students’ effort?


by devon valance

a&e editor

There’s few instances that can compete with

the amount of stress and anxiety one experiences

in the second before hitting ‘begin” on exams.

Students are constantly being reminded of the

immense weight one’s performance on this

singular test holds with the money and time

that goes into all the preparations.

However, there’s an insidious thing the

college board has tried to bury deep into the

ground — the SAT was not meant to praise

a student’s academic abilities or indicate

college readiness the way it may

claim on its website. Instead,

the entire intention of

the SAT was to keep

students out of school.

With its creation,

the SAT, or Scholastic

Aptitude Test, was

allegedly meant

to measure one’s

readiness or

ability to

perform well

in college.


the efforts

of the College Board to prove otherwise

when the test’s ability to detect aptitude was

debunked, the name SAT still stuck, according

to washingtonpost.com.

Although one could argue that these

tests are used to rid the college admission

system of inequalities, upon more thorough

digging, it becomes obvious that it clearly

does the opposite.

As time goes on, standardized tests

are only becoming obsolete. Over 80% of

colleges in the United States do

not require applicants to take

standardized tests such as the

SAT and ACT. Furthermore,

about 85 institutions do not

even consider an applicant’s

score on these tests when

admitting students, and

the entire University of

California system is

included in this very

list, according to commonwealthmagazine.com.

Additionally, standardized tests were

not created for the honest purpose of proving

intelligence. It was in the 1920s that standardized

tests were first introduced into public schools.

They were pushed onto the education system

by eugenists, people who attempt to rearrange

reproduction to create more humans with

eurocentric features, or “desirable” as they

like to call it. Their pseudoscience was

supposed to “prove” the “natural

superiority” of white,

American–born males.



demonstrate a significant

gap in scores between

Latino and Black students

versus white and

Asian students, which

means these eugenicists

accomplished their goal.

Due to the ignorance of

what they actually do,

the continued use of these

tests only maintains inequality in

contrast to what they should be doing,

which is leveling the playing field.

Of two English questions covering

similar content that were being considered for

placement on the 1998 SAT, the question which

8% more Black students got correct than white

students was discarded. The one in which 24%

more white students answered correctly than

Black students was selected for the test. This

same selective phenomenon occurred with

a math question where the one which 11%

more white students answered correctly was

chosen and the question where 7% more Black

students answered correctly was discarded,

according to machronicle.com.

The questions placed on the test are clearly

chosen to keep many minorities out of college,

and some of these questions may have survived.

Given how 1998 was not as long ago as teens

like to think, there is no sure way to know

students still are not being judged by these

same questions.

The 2023 ACT costs

$68 or $93 if students opt

to take the essay, and

the SAT costs $60 per

exam, according to

discover.com. When

put into perspective,

this extreme cost

combined with the tests’

diminshing usefulness,

and the inherent


standardized tests are not

worth the effort anymore.

Between the work put into not only taking

standardized tests but also studying to get a

score that looks good on a college application,

the stress adds up to a net negative. There are

a lot of problems with the American education

system–standardized testing being a notable

one–but in no way can blame be placed on

students. The way the system works is designed

to work against students, and that is where the

root of the issue lies. As it currently stands, these

tests are only a waste of time.




Rae Rae Castanga ‘26

Girls Cross Country

“[My] most memorable

success would be [at]

Woodbridge. I got a pretty

good [personal record] there.”

Ashley Yu ‘25

Girls Tennis

“Tennis is super mental, so don’t

get stressed out if you are losing

because there is always a way to

come back.”

Dominic Hunt ‘24

Boys Football

“It was my senior year, so I

wanted to make a statement

this year and made sure people

knew my name. “

Compiled by Breanna Zide


WHS regiment marches to success

by gianna byrd

Flag football makes mark in SoCal

by anya monga

sports editor

After their most recent competition held

Nov. 4, WHS regiment placed 2nd in thier

division and will continue on to their final

competition before championships on Nov. 11

at Moorpark High School.

WHS regiment began their first competition

of the season in early October and earned third

place. WHS color guard gained three new coaches

this August and are determined to accomplish a

better season with them.

“It’s a better environment than what we

had last year,” said color guard co–captain

Maya Admon ‘26. “Getting new staff has been a

positive [since there were no coaches at the start

of the season].”

The responsibility of guiding new members

and executing their practice is held by the

captains, both sophomores. They take inspiration

from the work their senior captains did last year.

“It’s fun, but you have to know your stuff,”

said color guard co–captain Carlota Cao Torres

‘26. “It’s a challenge for [Admon and I] since no

one was there to guide us, but we’re doing our best.”

Performing in color guard can be tough,

as they use different props and retain their

assigned choreography which flows with WHS

band. Visuals are key in their competitions as

they earn points for a higher placement.

“For our choreography, we’ve been using

flags and rifles, [and] there are themes for

our shows, such as the Wizard of Oz theme,”

said Admon. “We haven’t got as much non–

equipment choreography so far.”

WHS band contributes to color guard

as they play their music to combine with the

choreography. Together, this unveils color

guard’s talent.

“I love [competing with color guard] so

sports editor

In their first year, the girls flag football

team has a near–perfect season, setting a high

precedent for future seasons.

As of Nov. 3, they are No. 24 in state

and No. 50 in the nation for high school flag

football, according to maxpreps.com.

“It’s so nice to be part of something for the

first year,” said girls flag football player Giavana

Hinman ‘27. “We’re

making history.”

Their success has

been credited to their

camaraderie on and off

the field, according to

the team. They found the

perfect balance between

work and enjoyment.

“We learned to have

fun but also commit to

our work and work hard,”

said varsity safety Tess Doucette ‘24.

The flag football team achieved a record

of 16–3, keeping them in the spotlight as a

female team.

“The fact that girls flag football is becoming

a sport, and that it’s rising and gaining this press

is exciting, but our record speaks for itself,” said

varsity corner Tahirih Vahdat ‘25. “People are

interested … If we were losing, people wouldn’t


think it’s nice that

we’re able to start a

legacy as the first flag

football high school league.

Starting [the league] opens up

a lot of doors.”

–Kacie Feiereisen

NOT IN KANSAS ANYMORE: WHS regiment performs their Wizard of Oz themed half–time show for

the final home football game on senior night.

much,” said drum major Sydney Rominger

‘25. “They’re doing amazing, [and] they’re what

make our shows appealing.”

In their first competition, regiment

experienced some struggles but were proud of

their performance.

“Our first competition started up a little

bit rough,” said drum major Mitchell Ito ‘24. “It

was really hot that day and there were technical

problems. It’s unfortunate because we prepared

so much, but overall, [the show] went very well.

I’m still happy about how we started.”

WHS regiment finds room for positive

growth in future performances as they continue

their season. With the small troubles dealt with

in their October competition, they work towards

improvement for their future competitions.

“[Regiment] can definitely improve,”

care. I think winning just sheds more of a light [in

a male–dominated world].”

While football is a sport strongly associated

with masculinity and patriotism, the girls flag

football team receives an abundance of support,

especially from the tackle football team.

“[We] go out there and play, and you [can]

see the football team out there, supporting you

and cheering on,” said varsity co–captain and

center Savannah Branham ‘24. “When we’re at

practice, they’ll come up and help you and give

you tips … They’re not against it; they want to

support you which is

super cool, but I think

it’s also showing that as

a girl, you can even the

playing field.”

The girls flag

football team proclaimed

females can play football,

a chance that not a lot of

girls have had in the past

because of the limited

opportunities available.

“We went to an LA Rams tournament,”

said varsity corner Kacie Feiereisen ‘26.

“There were a few women speakers, and they

talked about when they were younger they

wished this was something for them.”

In 2025, East Atlantic Colleges will open

D3 scholarships for flag football, opening

doorways for the student–athletes.

“[For] the freshman on the team [and]

said Rominger. “This year’s been difficult with

[color guard] getting new coaches, but they’ve

been doing amazing, and [the marching band

is] very proud of them. We believe we can

make it very far [in the competition].”

Conducting is key for the drum majors, but it

is also enjoyable for them as they lead WHS band.

“Being up on the podium is a euphoric

feeling,” said drum major Chris Kolde ‘25. “It’s

great to see all of the elements coming together.”

Throughout the rest of their season, WHS

regiment strives for success while enjoying the

performance. Being together in fall before the

spring seasons creates a positive outlook.

“Even if [color guard and band] are

somewhat separate,” said Kolde, “we all come

together in the fall season, which is fun and

builds a great community.”

the sophomores, if they don’t have a sport that

they do here, they know that they can do flag

[football], and they can get that scholarship,”

said Branham. “They can go off to college

[with flag football] if they can’t with their

other sport.”

Along with college scholarships, the

2028 Olympics in Los Angeles are adding flag

football, softball, cricket, lacrosse and squash,

according to espn.com. This provides flag

football athletes a way to continue the sport

after high school.

“I never imagined me playing it in high

school, and now I could think about ‘Wow, I

could go to the Olympics with this stuff,’” said

varsity quarterback Grace Roskowick ‘24.

Flag football now has a pathway from

high school to college to the Olympics,

acknowledging it internationally as a sport.

“I’m just happy it’s a sport, and that

they want to take it farther instead of just

leaving it at high school because if someone

wants to take it seriously, [in the past] they

[would] just have to end at high school,” said

Roskowick. “At least you can go somewhere

with it [now].”

Ultimately, it all starts with high school

sports, and WHS is on track shown by their

successful first season.

“I think it’s nice that we’re able to start

a legacy as the first flag football high school

league,” said Feiereisen. “Starting [the league]

opens up a lot of doors.”



Boys water polo, girls tennis finish season strong

by tomas galioto

sports editor

WHS student–athletes have left a

profound impact on this season in competitive

sportsmanship. With a string of victories and

statistical achievements, WHS teams have

demonstrated the power of skill combined

with teamwork.

Among the top teams that propelled WHS

to the most victories were the boys varsity water

polo team (22W–6L) and the girls varsity tennis

team (23W–2L).

“We’re doing pretty good so far,” said

Brandon Dority ‘24, WHS boys varsity water

polo player. “I think we’re playing as a team

really well, [and] we’re off to one of our best

starts in recent years.”

Everyone on the varsity water polo team

displays proficiency and plays a key role, one

example being boys varsity water polo player

Zac Miller ‘25.

“One of the smartest players to ever

come through the program, Miller established

himself as a key member of the team early

in his sophomore year, and now as a junior,

Miller leads the team in earned exclusions, is

third overall in goals scored and third overall

in steals,” said Carnell Henderson, Assistant

Principal and Athletics Director of WHS.

The boys varsity water polo team finished

the season with 22W–6L. This high win–to–loss

ratio is expected to persist with the new players

that will join the team next season.

Teachers mentor students beyond classroom walls

by gianna byrd & breanna zide

sports editors

“Next year, I think we’re [going to] have

another really good team,” said Dority. “We have

a lot of good underclassmen that are really eager

to play. They have a lot of love for the sport and

a lot of motivation.”

On the other hand, the girls varsity tennis

team triumphantly earned 23 victories for WHS,

with only two losses. They also won the 2023

Golden State Classic Tournament earlier this

fall, which is a 16–team tournament between

the top girls tennis teams of the nation.

“We are currently undefeated Marmonte

League Champions and ranked second in CIF

Open Division polls,” said girls varsity tennis

coach Scott Yasgoor.

Employing both elements of positive

sportsmanship and team spirit, the tennis



A TRIUMPHANT SEASON: (above) The boys varsity

water polo team battles towards a 10–4 victory vs.

Agoura on Sept. 28.

THE LEGACY CONTINUES: (right) Girls varsity tennis

athlete Megan Sun ‘24 competes in a singles match,

helping to lead the team to another victory.

team led itself to many victories through both

physical and mental feats.

“This year’s team did pretty well,” said girls

varsity tennis athlete Megan Sun ‘24. “[The

games were] really fun, and everyone did their

part during matches and cheered each other on

during others.”

Throughout the season, sportsmanship

has proven to be a vital aspect of the athletic

teams. The ability to uphold principles of

respect and support is seen as a significant

factor for success.

“[Sportsmanship] from us or others

definitely keeps the spirits of the players high,”

said Dority. “I’d say, on top of our hard –working

team, it’s probably one of the most important

parts of our success.”


Fall Sports

Stats Box

(as of Nov. 6)


Record: 2W–8L

Next game: Season over



Record: 1W–8L

Next meet: Season Over



Cross Country

Cross Country

Record: 6W–4L

Next meet: Nov. 11

@ CIFSS Division 2 Prelims

Location: Mount SAC

Water Polo

Record: 22W–6L

Next game: Season over

As the weather begins to dry and

temperatures drop into the low 60s, WHS

winter sports teams prepare for the upcoming

season. However, student–athletes of WHS are

not the only ones ancticipating and preparing

for the beginning of their sports.

Many WHS teachers also coach a WHS

affiliated team.

“I’m very optimistic [about this season],”

said Josh Budde, girls varsity basketball head

coach and Algebra 1 and 2 CP teacher. “I

think we will have a good year as long as we

stay healthy.”

After winning Marmonte League and CIF

in 2021, the girls basketball team’s goal is to win

the title again. Coaching for more than 20 years,

Budde’s experience with girls varsity basketball

has been enjoyable.

“[Winning state championship] was

a once in a lifetime opportunity, [and] it

was amazing,” said Budde. “It changed

girls basketball at WHS big time, and that

experience was special.”

An important element of a successful

season is showing a positive attitude and

remaining healthy.

“[Boys varsity basketball has] a lot of

key returning players, so as long as we stay

healthy and everyone’s doing their roles,

then we definitely have some promise,” said

Jonathan Gillette, boys varsity basketball

assistant coach and Algebra 2 Honors, AP

Precalculus and Computer Programming

1 teacher. “We’re fighting to win a league

championship as we do most years, but we

have a good chance this year.”

Memorable moments are cherished

TEACHING ON THE COURT: During halftime, Coach Josh Budde encourages the WHS girls varsity

basketball team to secure the win against Sagus High School on Nov. 15, 2022. WHS won the game 54–41.

throughout the playing season as winter

sports teams bond. A group full of supportive

teammates can bring the entire team together.

“We have a great group of guys,” said

Gillette. “All returning players have been very

accepting of the new players, whether they’re

transfers or from JV. They seem to be bonding

super well, and they joke and help each other.”

Emily Dale, AP European History and AP

Human Geography teacher, began coaching at

WHS last year as the frosh–soph coach. She is

now the JV coach for the upcoming season.

“Coaching soccer in college was the thing

that made me realize I wanted to teach, so [I’m]

stoked about [the experience],” said Dale.

Student–athletes in winter sports often

have teachers as their coaches, influencing

student perspectives.

“Being on [frosh–soph girls soccer last

season] got me closer with [my coach and

teacher],” said Brooklyn Johnson ‘26. “She’s

similar in teaching and coaching which makes

the season enjoyable.”

Team bonding is important to achieve a

successful season. Bringing returning players

together with new players can develop a

stronger team.

“A lot of kids came from frosh [girls soccer],

so we all know each other,” said Johnson. “I

think our team [for this upcoming season] will

get along, and we’ll do better because we’ll have

a lot of experience.”

Team situations can be difficult when

meeting together for such a short season and

playing together for only a few months. Linking

a team as one during their practices can further

increase chances of friendly encounters and

good sportsmanship in games.

“One of the things that I think of really

hard about high school sports is you come

together, the season is super brief and it’s

with people you haven’t necessarily played

with before,” said Dale. “My expectations

are going to be centered around [the idea

of] getting to know each other and be[ing] a

good teammate.”




Record: 23W–2L

Next game: Season over



Record: 9W–7L

Next game: Season over


Record: 3W–4L

Next game: Season over



Flag Football

Record: 16W–3L

Next game: Season over

Compiled by Marta King




by anya monga

There are a lot of things to appreciate about Rapunzel,

but my childhood favorite was the lantern festival her parents hosted in their

kingdom on her birthday every year after Rapunzel was kidnapped at a young age.

Rapunzel views the lanterns from the tower where she is imprisoned, disobeying

Mother Gothel just to see them in person. It became one of my dreams to find a

similar festival where I could indulge in my childhood fantasy.

A comparable festival with lanterns on water will be in South El Monte Nov. 17–

19 from 3–7 p.m. Tickets cost $46 and include a lantern, drawstring bag and marker to

customize the lantern.

The organization putting together the festival also provides music and hosts

food trucks that can be enjoyed while making the lanterns. The festival leaves minimal

environmental impact because a clean up crew picks the lanterns out of the water at

the end of the festival.

More information and ticket sales are available at






by lanza peretti

Indie folk band Bon Iver’s album For Emma, Forever Ago, originally

released in 2007 and is the perfect autumnal vibe for November. One of

the many features that makes this album unique is its use of guitar as the

featured instrument.

For Emma, Forever Ago was written and recorded by Justin Vernon, the singer–songwriter

for Bon Iver. The songs and music were created in a remote cabin in Wisconsin following the band

breakup of DeYarmond Edison.

Some of my top songs in the album include “Flume,” “Lump Sum” and “For Emma,” whose

tone and lyrics express references of abandonment, nostalgia and isolation.

The melancholy and whimsical sounds of For Emma, Forever Ago make for the perfect fall vibe

soundtrack. The lyrics sound personal and show relatable themes throughout the album such as

loneliness, which makes the music easy to relate to and gives a deeper meaning to the songs.




by devon valance

Harbor House is a social service organization with a mission to help

those in need. Staying local to Conejo Valley, Harbor House is dedicated

to assisting those who struggle with housing, food, unemployment, abuse,

addiction and mental illness.

Volunteers can sign up to help out with the meal program. Held

from 4–4:30 p.m. seven days a week, it is easy to find time that fits in

a busy schedule. It is located at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, 1 W.

Avenida de los Arboles, Thousand Oaks.

Volunteers can sign up to bring hot meals, bagged lunches or help in

other ways during the meal program if over the age of 16.

Bagged lunches can include non–perishable items such as granola

bars, chips and sandwiches. For hot meals, pre–packaged and home cooked

meals are all welcome donations. Preparing and bringing things such as

salads, pastas, casseroles, dinner rolls and mashed potatoes are also great

options. Students over 16 can assist with setting up and taking down tables,

transporting meals, carrying water cases and packing meals.

There is more information on what to bring and what volunteering

entails on the Sign Up Genius found on the Harbor House website. Find

options to donate at harborhouseto.org/donate, and sign up to volunteer

at harborhouseto.org/volunteer.




by scarlett brisbin

When thinking of fall items, pumpkins and hot drinks

always come to mind. With the chilly winter around the

corner, one must enjoy the last moments of fall. I love to bake,

and my pumpkin chai cookies are my personal favorite for a late fall baked good.

I was inspired by Starbuck’s new chai pumpkin latte, which has been all over social

media this autumn. This specific combination contains the ultimate fall flavors.

Even though Halloween is over, that does not mean pumpkin desserts have to end.

These treats are perfect for a rainy day at home or even a Thanksgiving dessert.

This recipe can also be whipped up rather quickly — it only takes about an hour

to prepare and bake. The required ingredients can be found in most households,

especially during Thanksgiving time. If one does not have the ingredients, they can

easily be found at a local grocery store.

Baking these cookies is an enjoyable activity which results in a tasty

treat, with the cookies being very dense and rich. Clearly, these

transformed fall classics are perfect for any autumn day.

To see Scarlett’s original recipe, visit



Compiled by Anya Monga


by lucas van parys

Catan is a quaintly themed and easy to play board

game. Players harvest resources and develop a civilization

while racking up points.

Similar to the Jeffersonian American Dream consisting of a pastoral life,

players live off the land, harvesting all that it has to offer. It is a simple game

pertaining to only five base resources — brick, hay, livestock, stone and wood —

making it easily accessible to people of all levels of board game expertise.

It is also a game not likely to cause fighting among family or friends as

there is hardly any concept of war or conflict involved apart from resource

theft. It works on a hexagonal grid between which roads and settlements

may be built.

There are also several board game expansions that can add

another level of complexity and strategy.

In disregarding the possible complexity present with

expansion packs, Catan simulates early rural American

development. Participating in Catan is a great way

to spend quality time with family and appreciate

their company.



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