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Stepping Through the Year

By Prithi Srinivasan


As the end of their first year of high school approaches, the largest freshman class in Pinewood history, 58 students strong, looks back at their experiences. This past year, they have been trying to make their presence known among the rest of the school, be it through generating homecoming asks or simply cheering the loudest at spirit assemblies.

“The higher grades probably don’t like us very much, but that’s to be expected since we’re freshmen, we’re the youngest. We might as well embrace it and be as obnoxious as we can,” freshman Kathi Wendker joked.

Many freshmen were new to the Pinewood family, so many of their favorite experiences center around getting to know each other. The freshman retreat was one of their first introductions to Pinewood culture and their classmates, and since it involved time outside of school, it was a favorite for many. “It was nice to be able to camp out and interact with the rest of the grade outside of class,” Wendker said.

There were also many academic experiences that brought students together.

“The Social Awareness Project in writing class was one of my favorite assignments this year because it was interesting to see others’ topics and what they were passionate about,” freshman Ayush Jassal said.

Every school year has its ups and downs and for many, especially those coming from schools without finals, it was the end-of-year testing that was disliked the most.

“Finals are one of the most stressful times during the school year with so much studying crammed into one week. I barely had time to spend with my friends before the break, and the only time we saw each other was during the tests,” Wendker said. To Jassal on the other hand, his year was awesome all around.

By Janet Liu


As May 29 slowly creeps into view, sophomores look back on the thrill ride that is the school year. During this time, they are still figuring out their place in the pond, but once they advance to sophomores, they have become fully-fledged frogs. A sprawling campus full of tall shadows and mysterious people has turned into a bright paradise of color.

Sophomores have developed close relationships within their community and forged their way in the academic scene. This is a riveting time when lifelong friendships begin to truly foster. In addition, the teachers and academic workload no longer seem overwhelming as they have adapted to high school’s rigor.

While sophomores are used to some aspects, there are a myriad of monumental changes that take place. As 15 and 16-year-olds, many students obtain their driver’s license and are faced with the added responsibility that comes with transporting themselves around. In addition, the door is left open as to which classes sophomores will take. During their time as tadpoles in freshman year, many classes are required with little freedom to pursue their interests. However, as they come into their own, they have a number of AP, Honors classes, and electives to choose from.

In sophomore year, it is essential to have a supportive and motivating group of friends to turn stressful choices into inviting opportunities.

“I have really close friends this year. I have gotten to know a lot more people from my grade,” sophomore Vivian Reed said.

In addition to academics, there are several extracurricular opportunities specific to sophomore year. They regrouped after a long summer with their trip to a San Francisco escape room. This field trip helped the students communicate with each other and tighten the family. Sophomore Parisa Homayoun enjoyed the challenge of finding the clues to break out of this tricky enigma.

Surviving their first year as fully-fledged frogs is an impressive feat, but all the students at Pinewood were up to the task and excelled throughout the process.  As they reflect on a successful sophomore year, these second-year students will have an entire summer to look forward to attacking their junior year enthusiasm.

By Evelyn Chenye


Junior year is a great time for forging an individual path through this sometimes messy, sometimes embarrassing, sometimes draining, but always irreplaceable and invaluable time known as high school. Surprises are what make the experience fun for many. Some new experiences before the year even begin include the college counseling process.

“I get to see how it works and actually go through it now,” junior Gavin Phillips said.

One experience that is exclusive to junior year at Pinewood, apart from field trips like the Steinbeck trip, is the biology field trip to the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Making new friends and getting to know people better has been another fixture of the year for many, like junior Nate George, who remarked that a highlight of the year for him has been becoming better friends with Peter Schusser.

However, there is a lot of stress associated with the year, some of the common sources being academics and college preparation.

“I  took on a course load that’s probably a little too much for me,” George said. However, this is nothing to seriously fear.

“[Junior year] has been nothing unmanageable,” George said.

For incoming juniors, it is fun to look forward to some experiences like these, but too many expectations will cloud the actual experience, so it is advised to keep things simple in terms of what to expect.

“Work hard but still have a good time [afterwards],” George advised. For this year’s juniors, you’ve already made so much progress in terms of overcoming challenges and navigating high school. For most of us, it is exciting to wait and see what they will do with the rest of their time here and what the future holds.

By Tasha Epstein


Spring has sprung, and the seniors are almost off to college! Everyone seems to get “senioritis,” the feeling of being almost done and almost free, for good reason. You are almost done with high school, and will soon set off on a journey through college. But what makes senior year at Pinewood so special?

“The best part is definitely how few classes I have, and being able to leave at lunch. Some days I don’t have to wake up until 10, which is awesome, and I can go get bagels whenever I want,” senior Cecile Smith said. Smith also had some advice for next year’s seniors:

“Don’t tell yourself, ‘I’ll have plenty of time second semester, so I’ll sign up for these things!’

Especially if you’re taking APs. You won’t have as much free time as you think.” Juniors, take notes! A lot of Pinewood seniors struggle to balance  all of their clubs, sports, college applications, and academics.

“I am going to Scotland for college, so I’m really excited to see new things and experience life in a new country,” Smith said. For those of us who don’t get to enjoy Scotland so soon, we can still enjoy our time here at Pinewood.

“The best part of the year for me was the amazing time I have spent and memories I have made in tech theatre,” senior Elizabeth Peters said. Good luck to our seniors!