October 9, 2015


Liz Yount ’17 speaks during a World Schools debate at the Greenhill Fall Classic as teammates Aidan Luscinski ’17 and Alec Winshel ’16 listen. The team took second place at the tournament.

Debate season starts with success


Cameron Cohen ’16 won first place overall at the Greenhill Fall Classic in Dallas Sept. 19-21 a week after he and Nick Steele ’16 closed out the Loyola Invitational as co-champions.

This was the first time a Harvard-Westlake debater won the Greenill event, a tournament attended by most top debaters in the country. Evan Engel ’17 won eleventh place speaker, Steele won fourth place speaker and Cohen took second place.

opinion | October Issue

Re-evaluating Homecoming Formal


It’s that time of year again. Students have adjusted to classes, reconnected with friends and mastered their schedules. Late September through early October comes around, and students gather on the quad to watch grandiose Homecoming Formal proposals of students being serenaded as spectators hold out their phones, ready to broadcast the already public “asks” on various forms of social media.
But this year more than ever, it seems as though we’ve lost sight of the meaning of Homecoming and instead place more emphasis on who gets the biggest asks or who even gets asked to the dance at all. Public asks seem to emphasize the expectation that a girl or boy has to say yes and only add to “Homecoming stress” for both sides.
We need to remember to respect the fact that everyone has the right to say no, and public asks should not be used to pressure them into accepting a proposal. A “no” isn’t the end of the world and could be for a variety of reasons. At the same time, we need to recognize the courage it takes for someone to buy flowers and put themselves in the vulnerable position of asking a date to the dance.
Yes, a proposal is a fun and creative way to find a possible date to the formal. Through these opportunities we are pushed to think outside the box when we come up with ideas like conducting an orchestra or riding on a scooter in a suit to let that one special person know we would like to take them out to the dance. It’s genuine asks like these, along with the simple and private proposals, that keep us grounded to the simplicity of a school dance. At the same time, proposals aren’t the most important part of Homecoming, but we see that students often get caught up in the unnecessary stress of taking everything so seriously.
So what if an ask is small and personal or public and executed in front of the entire campus? Furthermore, so what if we don’t get asked by that dream date or if we don’t get asked at all? It’s not about the superficial details of formal, but rather the memorable experience we make at Homecoming that makes the event special.
Beneath all the drama of proposals, dates and possible rejections still lies the true purpose of Homecoming Formal: to unite the community in a lighthearted and school-spirited event, away from the often stressful environment of academia at Harvard-Westlake. Homecoming Formal provides a time for the students to come together in a unique way and socialize with people who aren’t in their classes or whom they perhaps typically wouldn’t see during the school day. An ask to Homecoming should not be taken as a declaration of love or a marriage proposal but simply as an invitation to spend time as active members of the school community.
While we stress out about what to wear and who we’re going with, if we’re going with a date at all, we forget the meaning of having and starting school traditions and the impact events like these can have on the school dynamic.
So instead of fretting about little things, let’s just remember to have a great and safe experience at an event we are privileged to have in the first place.

features | October Issue

Their American Horror Story


Mary* ’17 had just come home from a sleepover. It was daytime, and she wanted to take a shower. While in the shower, she heard the words “Welcome home Mary” and felt as if someone was in front of her, waving his or her hands in her face.

Multimedia[ video ] + [ photo ]





October issue

A Wider Scope of the World

Two summers ago, I went to my mother’s home country, Cambodia. To be honest, I didn’t really have any expectations going into the country. Everything I knew about Cambodia was either history relayed from my mother talking about her experiences or a brief mention in a history book about the Vietnam War.


October issue

Consumed by Competition

When I heard my name being called for the “Van Patten” courtesy award at kindergarten graduation, I started beaming. My face was red, and I was on top of the world, not because of the award itself, but because I knew I could hold it over my twin brother Jack later that night.

Benjamin Most

Pocket Man


For the past few years, I have worn cargo shorts to school almost every day. Sometimes, during the winter months, I wear cargo pa­nts.

Rian Ratnavale

Swimming Without Floaties


I vividly remember my dad trying to teach me to swim when I was 5 years old without much success. Although I could hold my breath for a long time, I wouldn’t get anywhere when I tried to swim without floaties.

Josie Abugov

The N-word


I was eating lunch this summer in Ozh Purga, a village of fewer people than there are students at Harvard-Westlake, in Udmurtia, Russia, an unknown province to most Russians. Katarina*, a twenty-something-year-old student, turned to me and asked in broken English, “Is there something bad about the [N-Word]?”



Arn Chorn-Pond shows students around Battambang, his home town. Pond is a survivor of the Cambodian genocide and a human rights activist committed to the preservation of Cambodian music. Prior to the trip, Chorn-Pond visited the Upper School on April 13 to be interviewed by students.

Teresa Suh ’17 reflects on her experiences from her 11-day trip to Cambodia. The stories of genocide survivors have taught her the healing power of music.

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