Mats Cheer Wins National Championship


The Miramonte Competitive Cheerleading Team placed first at the USA Spirit Nationals at the Small Varsity Show Cheer Novice division. The event took place at the Anaheim Convention Center from March 24th to the 26th.

The MHS Comp Team pulled ahead from the eight other squads to secure first place over the two day competition. After their first performance on Friday, Miramonte secured first place and lead the pack by a comfortable 1.6 points. On day two, El Modena and Lake Oswego High School made an impressive come back and pulled ahead, taking first and second place for the day two performances. But overall Miramonte pulled ahead by .18 points to secure the National title.

“We thought Covina High School was going to be our biggest competition but they ended up getting fourth,” junior Olivia Kaufmann said, “but we were happy we pulled ahead because .18 is extremely close.”

In order for a high school cheer squad to be eligible for nationals they have to receive a certain qualifying score at their competitions throughout their cheer season. Miramonte qualified for nationals at their first competition of the year in Santa Cruz. The team, however, decided to continue competing to get more practice.
This win marked an emotional ending for the seniors on the team as it was their last high school cheering competition. Last year the Miramonte Competitive Cheerleading Team also took first place at the USA Spirit Nationals.  

Storm Headed to Northern California

Kayaks, canoes, snorkeling gear, boats, and other flotation devices will be necessary this weekend as Northern California is expecting large amounts of rain and horrible flooding. In fact, the LA Times called it a “once in ten year storm.”

At least three storms are forecasted, dropping three to four inches of rain across the bay by Monday, according to Mercury News. “It’s not a lot of little storms, these are significant rain producers,” Jan Null, a meteorologist with Golden Gate Weather Services in Saratoga, said.

This amount of rain poses a possible threat. SF Gate advises people to not attempt to drive on or walk across roads that appear to have more than six inches of water. Six inches of water can potentially move a car or knock a person over.

Long gone are the days of hitting the slopes, and then a few rocks. The Sierra Nevadas are expected to receive 10 feet of new snow from the upcoming storms. The Tahoe Tribune stated that Lake Tahoe Basin’s snowpack has already increased from 62% to 129%. Students planning to make the treck to Tahoe this weekend can expect heavy traffic due to road closures.

However, dead lawns and restricted water usage are not things of the past yet. According to National Broadcasting Company, 81% of California remains in a drought today. Southern California remains under the most severe drought conditions in California. Most of Northern California is supposed to be out of the drought by the end of this winter.

Breakout Session Inspired by Need for Community Discussion

“What words hurt you?” Teachers around the school sat with their students last Thursday to engage in a discussion about acceptance and diversity. Students saw various pictures of graffiti and notes that contained hate speech, some of which were found at Miramonte. The discussion was opened by a video from Ms.Parks, and closed by clips of Miramonte students choosing adjectives that described them best.

The decision to hold this session started from observing the national and local disunion, and feeling that there needed to be a sense of community and coming together, Assistant Principals Jan Carlson and Zac Pinkerton said. Concerned about unrest, administration wanted to have a conversation that was personal and more conducive to understanding than a regular assembly. With the help of the “Equiteam,” composed of the presidents of clubs dealing with social issues such as the BSU and LSU, administration crafted questions for the breakout session.

The hope was to create a place in every fourth period where students felt comfortable enough to have a conversation because they already knew the people they would be talking to. Additionally, a large assembly would have been impersonal, and the point was to speak directly to each other. “It’s one thing to have an adult tell you not to do something ‘because I said so,’ but it’s another to hear a peer say ‘this hurts,’” Carlson and Pinkerton said.

In the future, administration hopes to see the effects of this new method of preventing an issue before it becomes a problem

City Supports Downtown Orinda Renewal

Orinda is in close proximity to many vibrant communities, but many Orinda residents feel that their city’s vivacity is lagging behind.

Orinda City Councilwoman Darlene Gee champions this sentiment. “There are quite a large number of residents that would like to see more options,” Gee said. “They routinely utilize lots of services, restaurants and shopping in neighboring communities and a large number of them would [prefer] a more vibrant downtown Orinda.”

There has been debate as to whether the city government should invite and pay for panels of professional architects and developers in order to have expert input in the process of revivng the downtown. That debate ended at a recent city council meeting, when four of the five council members voted to engage both the Urban Land Institute (ULI) and Mainstreet America (MSA), which will cost the city a total of $36,000. Orinda Vice Mayor and City Councilwoman Eve Phillips voted against the measure, as she seemed concerned about potential conflicts of interest and the motivation of the panel members. “I think bringing in consultants like ULI, especially one driven by the building trades including engineering, architecture, and development firms, will only create more division in our community,” Phillips said in an email. Councilwoman Gee, however, believes that the city council needs to strike a balance. “We want professional expertise—that is very important,” Gee said. “On the other hand, we clearly want our own community to define its future. We want to do what the community wants to do.”

What’s Up Downtown Orinda (WUDO), a group of interested Orinda residents, is working to drive change and further discussion on the renovation of downtown Orinda. Its members have attended city council meetings and pushed for change over the past year. Hillary Murphy, a member of the WUDO steering committee, made it clear that WUDO is not waiting around. “When we find ways we feel we can move things forward, we act,” Murphy said. “For example, we were active supporters of two pro-downtown renewal candidates for Orinda City Council: Darlene Gee and Inga Miller, and we lent our support to help get them elected. We are also doing our part to support the businesses that are already here.”

Gee has no issue with the group, even praising their ability to start a conversation. “I think that it has been a very good voice for raising the issue and asking the council and community to consider changes,” Gee said. “They are a reflection of changing demographics in the community, and they’ve raised good questions and started a good conversation.”

Phillips isn’t convinced that the solution lies in the General Plan, however. “It’s not at all clear to me that our plan is the problem, so I don’t know that we would need to change our plan to drive downtown change,” Phillips said. “ I think a concerted effort to work with property owners and potential businesses could help drive the changes that our residents want to see.”

Prior to last month’s City Council election, there was a discrepancy between the four candidates on the amendment to Orinda’s General Plan. After being elected to a four-year term, Gee believes that the council should keep an open mind. “I’m open to looking at some flexibility,” Gee said.” I think a small portion of this community has been so vocal about not [amending the General Plan] that they’ve kept the process at bay for a long time, and I think it’s time to take a look at it.”

Freshmen Eat Up At Linksgiving

Music and warm food welcomed freshman to the courtyard on November 18th as Link Crew celebrated the first ever “LINKsgiving.” The event was a potluck with food donated by Link Crew members designed to celebrate the end of first quarter. Blankets were laid out for students to enjoy their free lunch while they listened to music and socialized on the last Friday before Thanksgiving break. Many kids stayed for the duration of lunch, and Leadership provided cornhole games as a fun activity for students.

2016 was Miramonte’s first Linksgiving, and Link Crew plan to make it a tradition. While at a Link Crew Convention, the Link Crew Commision came up with the idea for an event that would give the freshmen an opportunity to come together, eat food, and reflect on their first quarter. Over the past few years, Miramonte Link Crew has worked to improve their team and create more events to bring together the freshman throughout the year and create a positive community for them. “We wanted to make the freshman feel super proud of all the work they had done so far and send them into break on a positive note,” junior Link Commissioner Caroline Ricksen said. With a turnout of nearly 200 kids, the meal was a success, thanks largely to advertising by Leadership. Counselor Ellen Conners and finance technician Trish Stuber hosted the event with the help of the Link Crew members, whose enthusiasm contributed to the great outcome.

Next year, Link Crew plans to begin promoting the event earlier in hopes of getting more people involved. They hope that adding more games to the event and having more leaders will help to create a fun and supportive environment that encourages participation from freshman.

Freshmen wait in line in anticipation of a fun lunch provided by Link Crew.

MHS Link Crew
Freshmen wait in line in anticipation of a fun lunch provided by Link Crew.

Winter Ball Kicks Off Holiday Season

Miramonte will be hosting the first annual Winter Ball this Friday December 2 from 7-10 p.m.. The attire is semi-formal and students from all grades are welcome. Despite initial rumors, the dance is date-optional.

“I’ve decided to roll solo to this Winter Bash. I want to focus on having fun with my friends and enjoying my senior year without the stress or pressure dates can create,” senior Kate Nerone said.

Leadership released a lighthearted “What to Wear (and what not to wear) to Winter Ball Winter Ball” informational video featuring juniors Sterling Kasella, Claire Tarkoff, Brianna Fick and Katrina Drake, to name a few. The video was played during fourth period on the Wednesday preceding Thanksgiving Break.

“I think the video had the right intentions but the execution was not great. I have still heard questions about what to wear: short or long dresses, tux, etcetera,” said junior Caroline Ricksen. Nonetheless, Leadership advises that girls wear dresses and casual shoes, and boys wear a dress shirt and nice pants such as khakis.

So, what sets this dance apart from Homecoming or Junior Prom? “Students should expect more than a typical dance,” Senior ASB Treasurer Lucy Stenovec said. “It’s more extravagant and prom-like than homecoming. We hired an event planner, so the decorations are very nice and well done.” Additionally, the dance will feature several activities including a photo booth, karaoke, an airbrush tattoo artist and a caricaturist. On top of the wide array of activities, students should expect to satisfy their sweet tooth with a candy bar and baked goods.  

“I’m excited for Winter Ball because we’ve never had one and I’m curious to see how it turns out,” junior Perrie Lundstrom said. “It gives me something to look forward to at the end of the week.”

Unlike the Welcome Back and Homecoming dances, Winter Ball will include an added fee on top of the pre-paid ASB student card. The price is $10 with an ASB card and $30 without one. Students who do not attend Miramonte should plan to bring $40.

“It costs extra because we put a lot more into the dance this time so there’s a lot more expenses to cover,” Head of Rally and Events Commission Lula Gutman said.

The Winter Ball serves as an opportunity for students to bring out their best dance moves and indulge in a night full of sweets, activities, and fun among friends and peers.  

“We focused on having more than just dancing to entertain students. Finding new things that would boost the attendance and make Winter Ball more desirable to attend,” Vice President Mia Grillo Senior said.

The Walkout

As the clock strikes 10:30, there is a flurry of movement. No bell has rung, no alarm has sounded, yet the halls flood with crowds of students, all on their way towards the quad, the epicenter of Miramonte. Ignoring threats of punishment from administration, hundreds of students of all ages have gathered to protest the previous night’s presidential election, held on November 8th. “F*ck Trump”, yells an excited student through a megaphone, standing on table. “Not my president,” shouts another. Soon, the crowd begins to move in a mass exodus. Stopping traffic, the crowd spills through the streets, leaving Miramonte behind.

On November the 8th, 2016, Republican candidate Donald Trump was officially elected president. Following this historical event, in which the Republican party seized control of the House, the Senate, and the Presidency, protests erupted all over the United States. On November 9th, 2016, opposition leaked into the halls of Miramonte. Students decided to take a stand.

Led by junior Jayne Latimer, hundreds of students abandoned their third period classes to participate in a walkout. “I wanted to fight for what I believe in, and I wanted others to join me in that fight. I am so happy that this many people have joined me,” Latimer said. “Mr. Trump’s views are pointed towards hate, and they should pointed towards love. We need to make change.”

Latimer led the students across Moraga Way, stopping lines of cars, and onto Ivy Drive, where bystanders came out of their houses to watch the procession. Waving from their doorsteps, throwing their arms in the air, many voiced their support for the students’ efforts. “I didn’t know anything about the walk-out until I saw you walking down my street. I’m proud that the students are taking political action. I am very distraught with the results of the election, so to see you taking a stand is amazing,” Paul Barrie-Kivel said, encouraging the crowds of young protestors passing by his mailbox.

The students stopped short of Orinda Intermediate School due to threat of legal action.  Stepping foot on the grounds of the school would be a clear trespassing violation, punishable by police action and possible arrest.The students had no choice but to turn left onto Coral Drive. Heading back toward Miramontebackpacks in towthe protesters made a statement, causing yet another traffic jam on Moraga Way. Walking down the street, towards oncoming cars, the throng of students quickly caused a build up. Drivers honked horns and even gave high-fives, adding to the uproar of the event. Principal Julie Parks and Janitor Edmond Wu hastily ushered the stagnant crowd off the street, and out of harm’s way.

Circling around the backside of Miramonte, students then followed the dirt path around the baseball fields, therefore completing the walk-out.

The administration, meanwhile, had only one goal in the demonstration. “We want to make sure everyone is safe while we do the walkout,” Parks said, who consequently accompanied the students’ movement.

Prior to the event, emails sent from Parks herself were delivered to all Miramonte staff members, warning of the repercussions that would inevitably follow the campaign. In full understanding of punishment to follow, those involved in the protest chose to value their voices over consequences.  “We are living history,” senior Lauren Bond said. “This is so much more important than a cut, or a homework assignment. I just want to do something, to raise my voice, and say I care.”

Many protestersjust like Bond saw the walkout as a chance to have their voices heard. Disappointment and anger over the new face of the government inspired many students to blatantly ignore these threats. “I don’t believe Donald Trump is fit to be president. I am against everything he is, and everything he stands for. Today, I am hoping to draw attention to the cause,” junior Gabriel Bostick said. “Political turmoil had seeped into the water of Miramonte. ”

Upon returning to the school, many students returned to class. However, groups of students sitting in the quad continued the movement. Sitting on the grass, they continued to chant, “Love Trump’s hate.” They were met by the Orinda Police Department, whose sirens blared throughout campus. The OPD took the names of several students.

Following the event, administration followed through on their warnings of punishment. “A part of civil disobedience always includes consequences, and while freedom of speech is an important right that we have as citizens of this country, part of what makes those things meaningful is the consequence you suffer for engaging in them,” Parks said, ushering crowds of students across the street who had left campus. “I support your right to make that choice.”

Emails were sent out to all students involved, whoas promisedattended a mandatory detention in the cafeteria.

However, not all students supported the protest’s cause. Many Trumpand yes, even Clintonsupporters spurned the students’ efforts. “I don’t support the protest due to its lack of purpose. If you truly believe your way of life is going to be intrigued, or that you will be endangered in one way or another, you need to take a step back, and do something that will help your cause,” said an anonymous Trump supporter. img_7877-1 img_7888 img_7916 img_7907-1

New Lawns Grace the Miramonte Campus

As school began, an odor of uncultivated mulch and fertilizer hung throughout the halls. However, as the school weeks progressed, an evolution began to emerge as mulch-brown patches transformed into rows of sprouting plants and forest-green grass. The senior lawn, once a patchy field of dead grass and trodden paths, likewise transformed into a well-manicured plot of land. Why were these renovations conducted? And what has really changed?

Miramonte irrigation system, which has not received any major renovations since its founding in 1955, was in obvious need of improvement after maintenance inspections revealed leakages and inefficient water usage. The Cleary Bros, the company behind this transformation on campus, was contracted by Acalanes Union High School district in the preceding weeks to refinish and install new grass plots on schools around the district. The senior lawn, an object of much respect and praise within the Miramonte population, was riddled with patches of dead grass and ugly weeds.

After the new installations were complete, each breezeway welcomed new plots of grass and the senior lawn finally enjoyed an adequate irrigation system. Slowly, the orange fences have been removed as senior students trickle back into their own domain across from the quad, where they have taken refuge during the renovations.As normal life resumes at Miramonte, the pale salmon walls are now highlighted by the brilliantly green lawns that will hopefully last for years to come.

However, brown patches of mulch still remain in between the hallways, and complaints have risen as to why these plots were left barren. The strips of dead grass that existed before the renovations were removed, but they were merely replaced by tracts of dirt. “We didn’t install grass in these plots because of necessity,” says associate principal Jan Carlson, “The only purpose renovating these areas would serve would be for appearance, so we left them uncultivated to save money and time.”

Despite these setbacks, the majority of the Miramonte population has received these changes with applause as many students stand impressed with the new quality of the campus.

Acalanes High School Experiences Lockdown

Acalanes High School was more than the talk of the town on October 13thit was the focus of many Bay Area news organizations after a car thief made his way onto the campus of the Lafayette high school, resulting in a lockdown.

While being chased by police in connection to multiple auto thefts in the Danville area, two men from Martinez, both in their mid-thirties, drove a stolen Volkswagen Jetta from Pleasant Hill to Lafayette. They abandoned the car near the campus of Acalanes High School, and one of the two suspects made his way to the campus and into the boys’ locker room, where he was eventually apprehended. The other suspect was apprehended in a backyard of a nearby Lafayette neighborhood.

The school was in lockdown for more than an hour, and students had varying emotions throughout the process. “I was really scared about the intruders that came because I did not know what to expect,” Acalanes sophomore Spencer Tompkins said.

Acalanes junior Sierra Fang-Horvath noted that students were not left completely in the dark. “I was personally very scared, but we had a constant flow of updates from social media and online news, so many students’ fears were quelled.”

Fang-Horvath also pointed out that a scheduling inconvenience impacted preparedness for the lockdown. “Many of our teachers were away on some sort of development summit, so many substitute teachers were deemed incompetent at the lockdown procedure by some students.”

Associate Principal Jan Carlson assured that teachers at Miramonte have been trained to keep students’ emotions in check if such an event were to happen at Miramonte.

“The teachers are aware of what they need to do in the event of a lockdown. One of the primary directives in a lockdown situation is to keep everyone calm.”

Link Crew Expands Horizons

As sophomore Paul Legallet entered the gym at Moreau Catholic High School, he heard the rhythm of the “Cupid Shuffle.” He rushed to the floor and along with about 100 Link Crew members from multiple Bay Area schools, he jammed out to the 2000’s line dance.

On Friday, October 21st, Miramonte Link Crew’s commissioners ventured out to Hayward for a Link Crew convention hosted by Moreau Catholic. The group spent the day engaging in activities, seminars, and discussions for how to embody the Link spirit and improve the future of Miramonte’s program and its relationship with new students. The event was led by Stu Cabe, a speaker for the Boomerang Project.

Link Crew is not a program unique to Miramonte. In fact, it is a part of the larger Boomerang Project, a company dedicated to growth for students and mentors. The program has been influencing transitions into high school for over 22 years and is a well-established vehicle for positive change across the country.

At Miramonte, the Link Commissioners look forward to growing after a new training session. “I think that they all walked out of there very energized and excited about doing new things,” counselor and Link Crew advisor Ellen Conners said. “Hopefully it will inspire people to keep wanting more for Link and for Miramonte.”

Perhaps the most influential aspect of the trip was interacting with Link programs in other schools. “It was really cool collaboration. We got pumped and saw a lot of potential in what we could do by hearing what other schools are doing,” College and Career Center and Link advisor Samantha Stuber said. The next generation of commissioners will be implementing a variety of new events throughout the year to take a more active role in impacting the school climate.

Future commissioner Paul Legallet was inspired by the experience. “After that day I felt that leadership does make a difference and can be important for the people that need it.” Indeed, the field trip left a lasting impression on the students. “I’m excited to improve, add activities, and make everyone feel even more at home,” Legallet said.