Farewell letter to the Granite Bay Gazette

Published: Granite Bay Gazette Vol. 18, Issue 8. Friday, May 20, 2016. 


  For the last half of my time as a high school student, I felt I have truly found my niche on campus.

  After reading the Gazette for three years, since before I even entered high school, I only realized that I too could write for the paper after I read Caroline Palmer’s Voices piece on rape culture my sophomore year. It was a stunning piece, and I realized then that if someone in my grade could voice their opinion so openly, I too could voice my passionate opinions about social justice via the Gazette.

  One day I broached the idea of me joining the Gazette staff to my mom and now, two years later, all I can say is that my time on the Gazette has been an honor and pleasure.

  Advanced Journalism is my favorite class of the day. I have found a few of my best friends through the class and, as cliched of an idea as it is, the journalism class is like a dysfunctional but somehow functional family. There is no feeling greater, to me, than to see your hard work published in a nationally-renowned paper such as the Gazette. Doing so with my Gazette family by my side has been the best experience of my life.

  I have loved being a co-editor-in-chief this year for the Gazette alongside both Troy Pawlak and Savitri Asokan, two brilliant human beings who patiently put up with my perfectionism.

  For two years now, the non-plagiarizers group message, made up of Amanda Nist, Olivia Heppell, Caroline Palmer, Epsa Sharma and Blake Panter has been there to dissect every school event, national and local controversy and the ever-interesting 2016 Presidential race. You are all such wonderful people and I have loved our dining adventures.

  And to Mr. Grubaugh, your wisdom and entertaining anecdotes have inspired me to be both a better journalist and person. Your experience and guidance have helped me to become a deeper and more analytical thinker.

  For me, high school was an incredibly enjoyable experience, and I owe much of that to the wonderful teachers I have had. Mr. McLearan fueled my love for literature. Ms. Elkin showed me so much warmth and care that I only strive to do the same for others. Mr. Dell’Orto taught me to be more empathetic, especially by considering more than just my own perspective.

  Mr. Cordell taught me to see beauty in everything, and seek betterment through questioning and learning. Mrs. Padgett resparked my passion for social justice and love of writing. Mr. Westberg taught me to examine my own ideology and then take action. Mr. McGregor showed me humility and kindness, although he wasn’t afraid to point out how he knew I had started to tune him out after asking a question. And Mr. Grubaugh, of course, introduced me to my passion for journalism, which I will be forever thankful for.

  If this serves as my senior advice to my class or future seniors, what I have to say is there is so much more learning to be done! There is a world of knowledge waiting to be uncovered and absorbed – explore a museum, read a book (I recommend Murakami), watch a movie (too many to recommend), constantly seek to improve, reevaluate and better yourself. Be a contributing member of society – be a voice for justice. But above all, continue to be kind.



Team feature: Pie bake-off

Published: Granite Bay Gazette Vol. 19, Issue 2. Friday, Oct. 23, 2015.

Category: Leadership and Team Building

Reason for publication: I brainstormed with my friend and fellow Gazette writer Blake Panter a pie bake-off in the spirit of the holidays. Blake and I both baked pies at our separate households using the same recipe and ingredients supplied by myself and allowed our friends to judge the pies. Both of us wrote about the experience post-bake-off. 


Hannah Holzer: 

   Our first issue of The Gazette comes out, and Blake and I begin to brainstorm new story ideas when we find ourselves laughing, and then seriously considering the idea of a bake-off. This bake-off manifested into a real story, and this is the story of how this bake-off almost ruined our friendship.

  Pie is definitely my least favorite dessert. However, I do bake around three to four pies a year – two or three for Thanksgiving, and one on my own time when I think I may actually like pie, but am assured I do not.

  I learned to bake pie in culinary class freshman year. Since then, I have picked up tips from many cooking shows, mostly from the British Baking Show (my favorite of all baking shows), but also from the pros (aka bakers from my Temple).

  Through these efforts, I have decided that the key aspect to baking a good pie is baking a good crust. And not one of those Pinterest-y two-ingredient ones (and don’t even mention frozen or prebaked crust), but a real, butter, water, flour and salt crust.

  To make a good crust, the word that will determine if you fail or succeed is: cold. If your water isn’t ice cold and if your butter hasn’t just been taken out of the fridge you will fail. Heck, throw your dry ingredients in the fridge if you want.

    After you sculpt your crust, throw it back in the fridge and bake with pie weights (or dry beans or rice). Once it’s done baking, don’t let it sit too long, like my friend Blake, the runner-up.

  Blake’s pie looked beautiful, his professionally intertwined lattice topping looked even better than mine, but his ultimate failure became evident after we retraced his baking steps.

  I knew his future was doomed when his knife hesitated to cut into his rock-like crust, and this is how he failed: after Blake (a non-experienced pie baker) created a beautiful crust, he removed it in the oven and let it sit while he made his filling, then he poured his filling back into the crust and re-baked it, creating a sort of biscotti-like crunch.

  I achieved success because I knew very well that to succeed in the kitchen, one must be a multitasker. Blake, the inexperienced baker he is, sealed his defeat before he even thought about what he was doing.

  From the beginning I knew I had to win this competition, but strictly on the basis of the sole finished product. For one horrifying moment during the bake, I burned my cherry filling while focusing on the crust, but I managed to redeem the taste by adding extra almond extract and lemon juice to cancel out any hints of burnt flavor.

  I’ll admit, when Blake revealed his pie I felt tinges of anger and jealousy – Blake may be an academic wizard, but I’m the wizard in the kitchen. I felt relief when we couldn’t cut through his pie, but I feel I won because I proved my abilities.

 The moral of the story is: your crust should be cold pre-rolled and warm in the pan. If your crust feels cold in the tin/pan before you’ve placed your filling in, you may as well start over. If you can’t seem to make your pie crust-oven relationship work, you may try no-bake pies – but that’s a whole different ex-pie-rience.   

cherry pie Here is a photo of my finished pie.


Blake Panter:

  At last, the pie baking competition of the century approaches. In one corner, weighing in with 0 pies experience, is me. In the other corner, weighing in with countless years of expertise and a couple of handy tricks up her sleeve, is Hannah. The mission was simple: bake a pie using the same recipe to win over the judges’ hearts. The actual execution, however, was far from easy as pie.

  If I were forced to describe this competition in one word, it would have to be “sabotage.” Hannah, sweet and unsuspecting as she may seem, makes a fierce and unforgiving pie baking competitor. She caught me right in my naïveté, and exploited me where I was weakest.

  Here’s the evidence to my cons-pie-racy:

Proof #1: Incomplete recipe

Hannah approaches me, wide eyed and happy as ever with a bag of ingredients and a so-called complete recipe on how to bake the pie. I feel thankful, content and rather ready to bake. I get home, lay out the ingredients and begin to bake. About halfway through making the filling, I notice something strange. The recipe cut off mid sentence: “bring the mixture to a boil for…” Then nothing. Flabbergasted, I immediately text Hannah in urgency asking what the recipe said to do next. At this point, I still think it was just an accident. “Hey Hannah, what do I do now cuz I think the recipe cuts off.” Silence. Not even a murmur. With my adversary for time encroaching like death, I am forced to improvise. Of course, Hannah replies about 15 minutes later with a well thought out excuse, and by that time, my filling was just about an enormous disaster. Coincidence? I think not.

Proof #2: Lemon Juice

So we are taste-testing our pies, and Hannah, wincing as she tries my filling, asks me if I added lemon juice to the filling. Rather confused, I ask what she’s talking about. She just assumed that I would know that lemon juice would magically make the filling not taste like complete crap. Again, she pleads innocence, but I think otherwise.

  Now, as flawless as my baking may have seemed, I did make few mistakes. Apparently, I forgot to use an egg (I still don’t know where that thing was supposed to end up). I also baked the pie for way too long, and, all in all, the judges’ plates revealed a unanimous decision. My pie was hardly touched, while Hannah’s was gobbled up with ferocity. None except Caro said she liked mine, mostly because she just likes any pie she can get her hands on.

  Hannah may have been number one in the pie baking competition, but I was number one in everyone’s hearts. The underdog always wins. Hannah and I plan on doing this same thing again with a different dessert, so until next time, when I will win.



Group writing: 10 underrated movies of 2015

Published: Granite Bay Gazette Vol. 19, Issue 5. Friday, Feb. 5, 2016.

Category: Leadership and Team Building

Reason for publication: My friends Amanda and Connor are fellow writers and movie buffs. We all decided to write a top 10 list for underrated movies of 2015, and while we each wrote our own list, we planned the story through a shared Google Document and group text message.


Hannah Holzer:

  1. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl: So often, young adult coming-of-age films blend together in a hodgepodge of unremarkableness – teemed with the same recurring sappy romance and eye-rollable drama-filled plotlines. I am happy to report, however, that Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is uniquely its own. Its storyline and characters are unlike many other films of a similar nature – Thomas Mann, a high school senior, grows closer to a classmate diagnosed with cancer. Also including a large amount of nerdiness, references to notable filmography, drug mishaps, teacher friendships and, of course, self-realization.
  2.  When Marnie Was There: Two words: Studio Ghibli. But for those unfamiliar with the Japanese animation studio’s incredibly beautiful and moving cinematography, When Marnie Was There is as good a movie as any they’ve produced. Both mysterious and heartwarming, the movie is a haunting tale of a young introvert’s familial discovery.
  3. The Last Five Years: My mother and I were listening to NPR one day when we heard a review of a new movie musical starring Anna Kendrick. Movie Musical? Anna Kendrick? How could we not have heard of it? By the end of that night, we had watched it. The Last Five Years is an unraveled telling of a relationship turned sour, enhanced by the melodic voice of Anna Kendrick.
  4. The Hunting Ground: The Hunting Ground isn’t a feel-good movie, but it is extremely important. Detailing sexual assaults on college campuses and the cover-ups that ensue, this documentary unsettles viewers, and encourages them to act upon injustice.


Amanda Nist

  1. It Follows: Due to the lack of memorable and exciting horror films of the 21st century, I had low expectations for It Follows. As seen in The Cabin In the Woods, all modern-day scary movies seemingly have the same plot, relying on jump scares and evil children to frighten viewers. “It” is a sexually-transmitted creature which is passed from person to person in the hopes of killing the person it follows. If “It” succeeds in the killing, it defaults back to the previous person. It Follows relies on vulnerability and uncertainty for its horror. It plays on sex, a taboo topic for teenagers, and creates a constant unsettling atmosphere. It’s a refreshing addition to the horror genre.  
  2. Goodnight Mommy: Not unlike It Follows, Goodnight Mommy gives hope that not all present day horror movies have the same plot, with the same typical scare tactics. Goodnight Mommy is an Austrian horror film directed by Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala. The film’s two main characters, twin brothers Lukas and Elias, believe that after returning home from a facial reconstruction surgery, their mother is not actually their mother, and as an audience, it’s hard to tell whether or not Lukas and Elias are crazy, deranged kids, or if their mother truly has been replaced by something evil. This movie gets pretty graphic and intense, so if you don’t have a strong stomach or beetles and magnifying glasses give you the creeps, I suggest closing your eyes in certain parts. And, for those who aren’t extreme movie watchers or just don’t analyze frames and scenes hard enough, there is a surprise plot twist at the end which will leave your mind spinning.
  3. American Ultra: As an avid fan of both Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart, when I found out they were doing another movie together, I was ecstatic. Ever since I saw Adventureland, I fell in love with the on-screen chemistry between the two. American Ultra follows Eisenberg as he unknowingly becomes the target of a CIA mission. While at work, he is attacked by two people and he defends himself and kills them maliciously, but on accident. As an anxiety-ridden stoner, he is completely terrified and confused, and he and Stewart, his girlfriend, have to continue to fight off agents, although they are unaware of who the people are and why they have been targeted.. Eisenberg and Stewart aren’t the typical badass crime-fighters, but they do defend themselves in interesting ways, such as with a pan and a spoon. With a touch of romance, it’s not a typical action nor romantic movie, but has both elements and was extremely fun to watch.


Connor Hinson

  1. Ex Machina: If a machine exhibits qualities which make it indistinguishable from a human, it  is considered to be true artificial intelligence. This idea is at the core of Ex Machina: a smart, seductive sci-fi thriller which will leave you questioning your own origin. It stars only three actors – Domhnall Gleeson, Oscar Isaac and Alicia Vikander  – and takes place nearly entirely in one house, leading to a claustrophobic tone held for it’s entire 110 minute runtime. Ex Machina delivers on both a cinematic and intellectual level, posing mentally stimulating questions through the filmmaking itself. It is plodding without being boring, clever without being condescending and the best robot romance film you’ve never seen.
  2. Advantageous: If heady, provocative, near-future science fiction is your thing (don’t kid yourself, it’s everyone’s thing), then chances are Advantageous is a film you will enjoy. Directed by Jennifer Phang, Advantageous tells a surprisingly modern story of ever-widening wage gaps and how they affect family life. Simultaneously, it brings up issues of family values and self- identity which are undeniably relatable. This film is also one of the few cases in which a child actor has given a believable and emotional performance.
  3. Sicario: I had no doubt that Sicario would be excellent. It’s directed by Denis Villeneuve, one of the most talented directors working today, and stars Emily Blunt, Josh Brolin and Benicio Del Toro, all of whom I would consider to be among my favorite actors. On the outside, Sicario appears to be an a-typical thriller, following an FBI agent and her struggle in the drug war against Mexico. However, it cleverly subverts the genre leading to some of the most thrilling (and often revolting) sequences in recent memory. Sicario is not underrated because no one saw it or because it got poor reviews, Sicario is underrated because it is leagues more important than many reviews have given it credit for.

Group reporting: Examining Granite Bay stereotypes and the extent of their truth

Published: Granite Bay Today, Jan. 27, 2015. (Online here)

Category: Leadership and Team Building

Reason for publication: Last year in Advanced Journalism we were assigned a group reporting project. While I, alongside my friends Olivia and Amanda, contributed to the interview and news gathering process, I wrote the majority of the story.


   With gossip and drama circulating around the typical high school atmosphere, the potential of another problematic cloud would do more harm than good stereotypes can produce the biggest storm.

  All stereotypes originate from a truth but often end up overblown. Therefore the truth of the stereotype itself usually does not represent the school as a whole, and may be even generally untrue. For Granite Bay high school students, the popular opinion known by most as the ‘typical GBHS student’ is to be wealthy, snobby, stuck up and privileged in general.

  “The Granite Bay [stereotype is that] kids are rich, spoiled and stuck up,” Rocklin high school junior Hayden Gibson said. And, while this stereotype embodies the most basic understanding of the population of GBHS, it proves to be mostly untrue for the majority.

  “When I was a freshman transferring from Folsom to Granite Bay everyone…[reacted] like ‘oh, you’re going to Granite Bay? That’s full of white rich kids’, so that was my first impression,” senior Angelica Ramos said. “But honestly, when I actually ended up coming here it wasn’t that … high (of an) amount of white rich people.”

  Granite Bay’s median household income in 2012 was over half the median California income, according to City Data. Homes located in Granite Bay are known to be mansion-esque, much like the houses located in the private neighborhoods of Los Lagos or Wexford.

  GBHS also deals with a lack of racial diversity.

  Taking a walk around the GBHS quad, plaid shirts, fancy cars and Sperry’s will be in abundance, but the attitude may come as an effect of living in a so-called “rich town.”

  “They act like they’re above everybody else because that’s the way they were raised,” said junior Dylan Nicklin. “They act like they have more than other people therefore they’re better than other people.”

  Wealth is often attributed to feelings of privilege and higher social standing, however Nicklin’s attitude is not commonly held amongst the GBHS population.

  “My parents are fairly well off  but it doesn’t really apply to me because I have to pay for everything that I get like gas and clothes,” senior Kelli McTague said. “Anything I have I’m not going to be flaunting it and I definitely am not stuck up and I don’t think of myself as better than other people. Everyone is very nice [at GBHS]. Even the kids who are very popular, they’re nice.”

  In any high school, students will feel pressured to fit in and belong. Wealth is in common circulation around the Granite Bay community thus those who feel like they don’t belong in the average financial group may feel like they need to put on a facade to fit in.

  “Kids always want to fit it in,” Nicklin said. “So there’s…two options: either you act like you have nothing or you act like you have everything, and more kids act like they have everything.”

  Other students at GBHS hold the same opinion in that many of their fellow peers feel obligated and almost pressured to have money in order to be accepted.

  “I think that people like to feel like they fit into that stereotype because if they don’t feel like they fit in…then they’re ‘poor’ or something like that,”Ramos said. “But even if you were just like middle class and poor in comparison, you’re still really well off so I don’t think that that is necessarily something people have to fall into.”

  Wealth in the Granite Bay community may contribute to GBHS’ higher than average test scores. Whether as a result of monetary reward for high grades, paying for tutors or even paying to take the AP exam, money can be advantageous for students.

   “People can pay for SAT prep courses and…private tutors,” senior Tyler Soares said. “So that’s definitely helpful.”

  Others believe money in the Granite Bay community may influence education in this community in a different way. McTague said she thinks one of the reasons people are more wealthy is because of a higher education so therefore that family will influence their kids to be successful.

  Another factor of the GBHS stereotype is a lack of racial and cultural diversity. The majority of the GBHS population consists of caucasians. But is lack of diversity necessarily a bad thing?

  “It’s not like we’re all white,” McTague said. “We have a good amount of Filipinos and other [races.] We aren’t very diverse but I don’t think that affects our personality as a school.”

  Nicklin agreed that the absence of diversity in the GBHS student body doesn’t have to be a bad thing because it doesn’t lead to ignorance or other harmful behaviors among the students. He also said for those students who do have different ethnicities, the student body accepts them as they are and does not treat them differently than anyone else.

  Other students feel the lack of racial diversity isn’t a bad thing at all, and do not care whether or not racial diversity isn’t present or not.

     “I don’t mind the lack of racial diversity,” senior Cole Moore said. “I understand what’s out there and a lot of people think that [Granite Bay students] don’t get it, but I do get it. Granite Bay is just a safer place than somewhere in Sacramento. It’s safer here because we have less gangs.”

 While elements of the stereotype are true, and often overblown to varying degree, other students do not feel like they fit or prove the GBHS stereotype at all.

  “My family, we don’t really have much,” Nicklin said. “We live from check to check. You always see people roll up in Corvettes and brand new cars that are expensive, and my family could never afford that, and most of my friends and their families couldn’t afford that.”

  Amanda Ramos, aforementioned, is another GBHS student who feels like she does not fit the Granite Bay stereotype because of cultural and personal reasons.

  “[The stereotype] doesn’t apply to me at all,” Ramos said. “Firstly, I’m Filipino and secondly, I live in sort of upper-middle class since I come from Folsom. In a way, I fit partially into the spectrum… but not as much as some people here in Granite Bay. I always notice how [people in Granite Bay] go around with their nice cars and some people are just like ‘oh yeah, I messed up my shoes, I’m going to go buy a new pair’ I’m like ‘okay I’ll just wait until my shoes die.’”

  Additionally, the snobby, stuck-up attitude commonly included in the assumption of a typical GBHS student is lacking in validity when the attitude held by the majority of the GBHS population is assessed.

  “I think the kids [at GBHS] are rich, but I don’t think they’re as snobby as people make them out to be,” Woodcreek high school junior Haley Dust said. “I just think people assume that if someone’s rich then they’re snobby.”

   Fellow Woodcreek junior Mikayla Houlihan agreed that the people she has met who attend GBHS are still very nice, even when they fit the “rich” stereotype.

  “I’ve met plenty of people who don’t work with the stereotype that you wouldn’t know went to Granite Bay if they didn’t tell you that they did,” said Houlihan.

  It is vital to remember that even if a stereotype is true to some degree, it is wrong to classify a group of people into one image or treat someone differently because of a stereotype.

  “Because this is the wealthiest … area and everyone … makes assumptions and some people (do prove the stereotype)  they just assume everyone does, but it’s definitely not the majority,” Soares said. “ Most people are reasonable and down to earth.”

  While stereotypes are not always true, Nicklin said he believes they have to have come from a sort of twisted truth.

  All stereotypes have a root.”