(Illustrations by Jacob Sands)

Editors say goodbye to Camp Country Day

Kamira PatelScreen shot 2014-05-27 at 10.19.29 AM

It’s 10 p.m. and the campus is silent, except for the quiet rustling of leaves and the low whir of the janitor’s vacuum—and Lana Del Rey’s voice singing “Cola” that seems to always be playing at paste-up. (Thanks, Connor.)

As my last paste-up comes to a close, I think about how my life will be different.

Well it’s certainly going to be easier. Somehow paste-up always landed around an AP Biology test. Always!

As the page editors twirl in their seats, trying to study for their tests while designing pages, the mosquitoes buzz around our heads, and Max reflects on how he should have been an actor­—not really the ideal study area.

However, our adviser Patricia Fels would say paste-up is not a time to study at all. She is probably right.

Garrett sits in the corner, displaying his dominance over the beanbag as he works on the first draft (D1) of his story due three weeks earlier.

Having said that, my D1s were never in on time, so I didn’t really have a reason to complain. That didn’t stop me though.

Connor sits in his chair in the corner of the Cave staring at the computer screen, periodically checking his phone for any text messages he might have missed in the last 30 seconds.

He can’t decide whether the text box on his page should be moved two picas (the newspaper’s version of millimeters) or one pica over.

And then there’s me.

My job at paste-up is to design pages and make graphics.

Here’s what really happens.

There’s, of course, the page designing (that is quite important). But there is also getting sidetracked trying to convince Emma that songs by One Direction are not the only music in the world, telling people to stay focused as I struggle to focus myself, or arguing with Fels about why we shouldn’t cancel the issue. That particular debate occurred every single paste-up week.

That must be a record.

But, alas, I feel sentimental.

I’m going to miss the quirkiness of the staff.

There’s Max who will suddenly burst out in a German accent, holding the baseball bat in the Cave as if it were his riding crop.

There’s Zoe who is always polite, despite our attempts to convert her to our “Octagon ways.”

There’s Grant with his hilarious but random jokes, or Emma and her unwillingness to not do work. That’s just to name a few.

As our deadline to send the issue to the printer approaches, Fels begins talking about how Octagon is ruining her marriage.

Last-minute changes to the pages are always made on Friday. Fels stresses out about missing happy hour as we frantically look at the PDFs of the pages, searching for any mistakes.

But in the end, we somehow pull it all off after pushing people to get their stories done in time.

The irony is that the editors-in-chief never write their articles until the last minute. I guess “senioritis” is taking over.

Garrett’s story, although written in about two days, is, of course, perfect.

I remember thinking that I should probably give Fels an article that wasn’t late for the final issue of the year.

But do you think this column was written on time?

Of course not.


Screen shot 2014-05-27 at 10.20.20 AMConnor Martin

Octagon staffers are the laziest, most hard-working people I have ever met.

I really can’t decide if we’re lazy or not. If we volunteer for extra work, but procrastinate, does that really make us lazy?

I mean, we’re doing extra work.

But then again, I’ve realized something that would suggest that I am, in fact, quite lazy.

I have turned in only two Octagon stores on time throughout my four years on staff.

One of them was my first story, back when I was deathly afraid of my editors and Fels.

The second was this year when I was really trying to turn over a new leaf.

That didn’t work.

I blame former-editor-in-chief Parul Guliani for my many tardy stories.

I asked her once if people ever turn in late stories. She laughed and said that most stories are late.

So she basically granted me permission to turn in every subsequent story in late.

Crap, I guess that mindset makes me pretty lazy.

Then again, during paste-up week, we spend about 22 extra hours on campus designing pages.

Seriously, we stay until 11 p.m. on Wednesday nights. And only after I get home at 11:45 am I allowed to begin my homework.

I take four AP’s, so I definitely can’t be lazy.

Lazy people don’t pull all-nighters and then show up for school the next day (only to have yet another night of paste-up).

On the other hand, I spend most of paste-up staring blankly at my computer, trying to figure out what shade of blue I should make the accent text.

Cerulean or periwinkle?

While I’m deciding, it’s a good idea to change the song on Spotify, because I can’t handle any more of Eric’s Chance the Rapper or Emma’s Justin Bieber.

And then maybe I should make myself a cup of microwave tea.

And then I can go grab another cookie left over from staff dinner.

For good measure, I’ll get on Max’s case about how he needs to stop talking to Grant and focus on his page.

Because if I can motivate other people to work during my break time, then no productivity is lost, right?

And sometimes I just can’t figure out whether to left-align or justify the text boxes.

I need another cup of tea. The caffeine will help me decide.

And then there are those random black pixels that appear when scanning in graphics.

I should probably spend the next half hour on Photoshop, zoomed in 2,000 percent to make sure I erase all of them.

Because they will actually show up on the page, I swear.

Screw it—I’m lazy.

And I think my work ethic is similar to that of the other staffers (except for Zoe, Emma and Ryan, who are bona fide workaholics). Why do now what you can put off for a few more hours?

But maybe it’s really that we have a very hard-working side to us, which just takes some form of motivation to kick in.

Because once it sets in how imminent the deadline is, we all work like crazy.

Well, I guess it’s time to end this column.

I need to make it clever, so I’ll need some time to think.

Let me make some tea…


Screen shot 2014-05-27 at 10.21.03 AMGarrett Kaighn

Senior year is supposed to be a time of hard work and fun, when you gain the last pieces of maturity you need in order to move on to the independent life of a college student.

I don’t think I’ve truly experienced any of those aspects during my time as a senior—but I have learned quite a few things, so let’s talk about those.

In my core classes, there are few surprises: in physics, I learned physics; in biology, I learned biology; in history, I learned history; and in English, I learned English (along with history, architecture and some specific bird calls).

In my free periods, I learned that there is most definitely such a thing as too much free time. It turns out the total amount of work accomplished at school is inversely proportional to the amount of time given to do it. While having two free periods and a free elective sounds fantastic, being trapped at school with nothing to do between 10:55 and 2:40 every B day was simply painful.

In Octagon, I learned that the most effective and efficient form of government is a totalitarian dictatorship. Since I can count on a single hand the number of times we three editors-in-chief have managed to independently meet this year to discuss the paper, I can’t imagine how so many members of Congress could possibly find a time to come together and make decisions. It’s no wonder they’ve had so many problems lately.

I’ve also learned from Octagon that my willpower is pitifully inept at making me meet deadlines that aren’t strictly enforced. That is definitely a severe character flaw of mine, but it’s also another reason to implement that totalitarianism.

From golf, I learned that the perfect way to ruin a hobby is to add in a competition. (See my column on page 4 for more on why I think competitive golf is a form of masochism.)

From the college selection process, I’ve learned that schools try way too hard to advertise themselves.

I’ve barely read any of the emails or letters they’ve sent me, though I have specially filed—for the sole purpose of writing this statistic—all 3014 college emails I’ve received since I took the PSAT as a sophomore.

I have learned, though, that some of my preconceptions about certain schools were false. From one email that I actually read, I learned that while smart people go to MIT or Caltech, really smart people go to New Mexico Tech.

I also concluded that Harvard is the second-worst school in the nation, for they mailed me two identical letters on the same day, a mistake no self-respecting school would make. The worst school, of course, is Stevens Institute of Technology, which sent me the same email 23 days in a row.

From my classmates, I learned that even the tiniest groups (24 students) can have their share of social tensions and divisions.

We even had to cancel the traditional grad night trip to Disneyland because so few people wanted to go, so I guess we’ll say our goodbyes at graduation before promptly sprinting our separate ways.

But as everyone else sprints away, I will leisurely stroll, reflecting on those precious few moments we had together and all the lasting memories we’ve created.

Eh, who am I kidding? College is going to be better. I bid you all a most enthusiastic adieu!


Screen shot 2014-05-27 at 10.21.35 AMRyan Ho

As I was watching the May 8 episode of “Grey’s Anatomy,” I couldn’t help but dread the season finale, when beloved, 10-season veteran Sandra Oh is scheduled to depart. While lamenting, I realized that in a week or two, I would be doing the same.

Leaving high school should be exciting and fulfilling, and it’s something most of my classmates can’t wait to do. It’s not uncommon to hear the occasional “Ugh—I’m so done with high school. Let’s get it over with already.”

But I find leaving extremely hard, even though I’ve been leaving places all my life.

I changed schools every two years until high school—not to mention that after fourth grade, I left my country and family and traveled 6,460 miles across the Pacific Ocean.

Everywhere I went, I left behind people that I cared about, and the old, sentimental me used to think I would stay in touch with all of them.

When I left for the U.S., I went with the good old tradition of buying an address book and taking down my classmates’ phone numbers and email addresses. The book became a sort of yearbook in which people stuffed pictures and left comments wishing me well in the U.S.

At that time, I really believed that all of my friendships would last forever. Okay—the phone numbers were pretty useless (I didn’t realize how expensive long-distance calls were), but I thought staying in touch through emails would be easy.

And there were a lot at first—a scroll through my mail history reveals long back-and-forth emails—but after a while, they stopped filling my inbox. The number of unread emails stalled at zero for the longest time.

The truth is, you can’t stay in touch with everyone; a few really good friends, perhaps, but they’re about it. As Nick Carraway said, “You can’t repeat the past.” Life really goes on with or without you, and I reluctantly accept that fact.

But, boy, does Country Day make it hard for me to move on.

I’ll skip the warm and fuzzy reasons about how it changed my life and just cut to the chase. It is at Country Day that I found my individualism, something that’s so elusive in an Asian academic environment.

Country Day, along with my living with my brother with little supervision, gave me the first taste of freedom and the ability to choose what I want to do. Yes, everyone thinks all I do is study (false, by the way), but even if true, studying is as much my own choice as it was my decision to join The Octagon in freshman year.

The emphasis here is on my new-found ability to choose what I’m interested to do, even if the reason behind it is a bit silly. For example, I initially joined The Octagon only for the prestige.

In my defense, the paper is not an academic class (cue Asian joke), and the workload is at times larger than that of a regular class. Plus, the stress I got from it is probably the primary contributor to my increasing number of gray hairs.

Thanks a lot, Fels.

All kidding aside, even though I don’t see myself pursuing journalism in the future, the paper still somehow turned out, like Country Day, to be a place where I felt an increasing sense of belonging. Maybe it’s the stress, maybe it’s the work, or maybe it’s the feeling of accomplishment. Regardless, the staff feels like family, the work feels like a job that I love and hate at the same time, and the Cave feels like home.

This, along with the amazing teachers and friends, is why I’m finding leaving Country Day so difficult. My greatest fear is that this pivotal high-school experience that I treasure will, too, escape me like all other friends from the past. I’m scared that who and what I consider important now will be lost and forgotten in a few years.

And yet, like Sandra, I must move on. I have made a valiant effort to contribute to the school and to make lasting memories and friends, and I guess that’s all that I can ask for.

It isn’t that I’m not looking forward to college (Hello? New York?). It’s just that I feel as if I’m not ready to leave a community that came to be a home away from home.






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