Panther Press

Panther Press

The Panther Press is our very own award winning student run newspaper. Published monthly, it offers a platform for young writers and artists to express themselves. The Panther Press is a bilingual paper requiring some of its articles to be written in French. 


Cover Photo







Recap on Commencement

July 17, 2019

On Wednesday, June 26, 2019, hundreds of students, parents, siblings and teachers flooded into Parkview Manor. The house was packed to the brim, with those who came in last minute standing in the back. None dared to miss the momentous occasion when the wheel turned again for the graduates, whose lives would be turned upside down.

The event was lively but calm. Musicians Amy Huang, Clark Li, and Carol Zhou played that famous march Pomp and Circumstance while the graduates proudly entered the room. They had every right to be as proud as they were, for they not only survived, but thrived during their time at VPCI. They were athletes, artists, programmers, presidents, but most importantly they were students. For four years these students experienced frustration, failures, perseverance, and then triumph. These four years will never be forgotten.

Next, the barbershop quartet gave an outstanding performance of our national anthem, inaugurating these graduates as proud citizens of a free and prosperous country. But some of the graduating students couldn’t resist adding another song to the mix, who performed “A Million Dreams” from The Greatest Showman, as an introduction to the musical of life.

When the festivities finally died down, it was time for the big moment. The moment that they had been waiting four years for. The graduates in their graduation gowns lined up alphabetically to receive their diplomas and a hearty handshake from Mr. Scott. Everybody received an Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD), but some also earned Ontario Scholars, those who have attained honours, that is 80% or higher, in six of their best Grade 12 courses. Many also received the IB Diploma, although the actual diploma was to come some time later from the IBO itself.

For many of these graduates, this would be the last time that they would see each other all in the same room. Commencement, which you might recognize as meaning beginning, is exactly that. Though is the end of their high school careers, their journey in life has only just begun. 

Interview with the Directors of the Camp Tamarack team

July 11, 2019







Natalie Lu and Daniel Zeng, Directors of the Camp Tamarack team, are here to say some words about Camp.

Leon Zhu: What is Camp Tamarack? 

Natalie Lu: It is a camp, obviously, but it is also so much more. It is a place to meet new people and make new friends who will stick with you for life. It is a place to have fun, taking part in lots of outdoor activities while taking your mind away from the stress of school. It is where I had some of the most memorable moments of high school both as a camper and an executive. It really is a place to understand the true meaning of high school: to learn and build new skills while developing unbreakable bonds with those around you. 

LZ: What will campers do at Camp? What can they expect to experience? 

Daniel Zeng: Like always, campers will be able to connect with the school community as well as their fellow campers through a variety of exciting team-building activities in an outdoor environment. We have prepared activities such as archery, rock climbing, and campfire “get-togethers”, just to name a few. In addition, our executive team has planned a thrilling theme that is sure to add a zing into the camp experience!

LZ: What are some improvements or changes the team had made to Camp this year? 

NL: One change was the location: a few years ago it was held somewhere farther but since last year, we have changed the location to a camp much closer. The decrease in travel time has allowed for more time at the actual camp! Instead of spending 4 hours on the road, it is now only an hour long. We have also decided to change up some of the activities to ensure we get the most out of the time we have at camp. 

LZ: As the Camp leaders undergo training, what are the most important traits and skills you want them to develop? 

DZ: We believe that our camp leaders should first and foremost develop leadership skills and problem-solving skills, as they will become necessary during camp. 

NL: But here is the thing, our leaders already have the most important traits needed for camp: they are outgoing, responsible, caring, kind, and a whole lot of fun to be around! 

LZ: If a Grade 9 student were hesitant about going to Camp, what would you say to convince them otherwise?

NL: I was hesitant as a grade 9 student too but trust me, it is an experience you will not want to miss. This is where I made so many friends and memories that lasted me throughout high school and it was the best way to start the school year, especially when transitioning to a new school with a new environment. This camp is how I got out of my shell and allowed me to grow more comfortable with not only those in my grade but those in the grades above. I met a lot of incredible mentors that guided me throughout these past few years, both in and out of school. Plus, you get to do a LOT of exciting activities that you would not normally get the chance to partake in, such as rock climbing! For sure, I understand if you are scared, but we have an amazing team of leaders and executives that will make you feel like you belong. 

LZ: Is there anything else you would like to say?

DZ: The camp trip is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that all grade 9s should experience! Personally, it introduced me to not only other grade 9 friends but also many talented and involved leaders who were able to help me integrate into the VPCI community through clubs and teams. They offered helpful advice, and developed my skills and my character. In particular, my camp counsellor introduced me to the Debate club. At the time, I was an extremely shy person. But throughout the span of two years, she was able to develop my speaking skills and overcome my fear of communicating with others. Although I am no longer a part of the club, the impact that she has made on my life was priceless and is something that I strongly believe every new high school student should have the opportunity to create.



Interview with Ms. Read

July 23, 2019

Suzanne Read, commonly known as Ms. Read, has retired from being Vice-Principal of Victoria Park CI. I sat down with her in June to ask a few questions about her experience at VP and here is what she had to say.

Aroni Ahmed: What lead you to becoming a teacher?

Suzanne Read: I have always liked teaching. In fact, when I was young, during the summer I had my own ‘mini-school’ that I made. When I graduated from university, I found an old report card I made myself from my ‘mini-school’.

AA: What’s the strongest impression a student has left on you and why? 

SR: I think having people say thank you is always great. Also, the students' perseverance and their effort in not giving up has left a very strong impression on me.

AA: Advice for your younger self or just younger people in general?

SR: The most important advice I can give is to never give up! If you want to try something new, then do it. Make sure you have no regrets. Do things that you enjoy because your personal satisfaction is one of the most important things in your life. Take all of the opportunities you get. Make sure you have a plan B (back up plan) in case things don’t work out.

AA: What you’ll miss most about teaching?

SR: I will definitely miss the puzzles that I have to solve, like scheduling which is a logic puzzle. I’ll miss general interactions with students and staff. The special events like Camp Tamarack and the Black History performance are some things that I will miss for sure. The thing I will miss the most is robotics, which has played a huge role in my time at VP. I’ll miss the enthusiastic kids too.

AA: What has being a teacher taught you?

SR: It’s taught the importance of patience and never giving up.

AA: What’s your favourite book and why?
SR: I have a few. One of them is the Lymond Chronicles by Dorothy Dunnett because it is a series of trials and there is lots of traveling. Another one is the Harry Dresden series by Jim Butcher which is about wizardly powers and how he uses them. Both of the main characters are powerful figures and show perseverance. The stories are hopeful and have happy endings.

AA: What do you think defines a successful career?

SR: To me a successful career is one that is personally and emotionally satisfying to you. It should make you happy.

AA: What impression has Victoria Park left on you?

SR: It’s been a pleasure working here. I want to thank the staff and students for their support. It’s been fun! I will miss events like Arts Week, everyone trying to educate each other, and the kids trying to make the world better.


Interview with Ms.Bacque

June 13, 2019

Tina Feng: What led you to becoming a teacher?

Ms. Bacque: Teaching wasn’t my career plan. When I returned to Toronto after university at Trent, I was working at jobs that weren’t future careers. I managed bookstores, worked at the bank, and did acting and music on the side. Then I decided to teach drama because I always loved drama. I  couldn’t teach music because I didn’t have the degree so I taught English instead because I’ve always loved English. 

TF: What’s the strongest impression a student has left on you and why? 

Ms. Bacque: When I think of the students who stand out in my memory, they vary. I can think of students such as Ron Littlejohn who loved to skip class and smoke at exit 11. I was one of the teachers who’d chase him down to come to class. He eventually played the voice of the plant in Little Shop of Horrors, our school musical. He’s very successful now. He was in a funk/jazz band called Planet Earth for 10 years. Now, he hosts a radio show on Jazz FM. Then, there are the students who were excelling academically from the start. Hilary (Hanbing) Wang who was a very well rounded IB student. She’s now a doctor at Stanford, doing research in neuroscience. 

TF: Any advice for your younger self or just younger people in general?

Ms. Bacque: If you believe it, they’ll believe it. If you show confidence as a teacher or just in life, others will believe you.

TF: What will you miss most about teaching?

Ms. Bacque: The students and my colleagues. The people.

TF: What has being a teacher taught you?

Ms. Bacque: Everyone’s contribution, opinion, and thinking must be valued no matter how small or far from your own beliefs. 

TF: What’s your favourite book and why?

Ms. Bacque: I don’t have a favourite book. My favourite book is always what I’m reading currently. Right now, it’s Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink. I wouldn’t recommend any one book to anyone because there are so many different good books out there. I would recommend books that aren’t what you typically read. Push yourself a little. 

TF: What do you think defines a successful career?

Ms. Bacque: How many lives you’ve been able to influence in a positive manner.


I, on behalf of every IB and non-IB student would like to thank Ms. Bacque for her contributions to both Victoria Park Collegiate Institute and our individuals lives. My first memory of her was my IB entrance interview where we talked about Marvel superheroes and John Green. It didn’t feel like she was judging me. It just felt like she wanted to know me better because she already knew that I could do this. She truly believes in everyone’s potential and that shows in all the positive influence she has brought. Plus, she’s a really talented musician. Thank you Ms. Bacque and congratulations on a very successful career. 




Les nouveaux règles du code vestimentaire

August 21, 2019

Le TDSB a mis leur code vestimentaire à jour en mai en ajoutant quelques définitions et spécifications. Par rapport aux règles de notre école (qui peuvent être trouvés dans l’agenda), le code est essentiellement le même dans les parties qui affectent les étudiants — il faut qu’on porte des vêtements qui peuvent couvrir son épaule, il est nécessaire qu’on suive les normes pour les classes de science ou éducation physique pour éviter des situations dangereuses et être en sécurité. Cependant, il y a quelques sous-sections dans le code de TDSB qui ont des messages vagues. Normalement, il n’y aurait pas de problème mais, ces sous-sections sont au sujet d’idées comme “haine” et “discrimination”. C’est évident que si quelqu’un ne les clarifiait pas, elles auraient des effets perverses.

Pendant que beaucoup de parties dans le code sont faciles à comprendre en utilisant le bon sens, il y a un message dans partie 6,2b qui déclare qu’il faut que les vêtements n’aient pas des images ou de texte qui ont une signification repoussant et obscène, y compris des sacres et haine… Ce message est direct, sauf le mot “haine”. Il n’y a rien à indiquer s’il y a une norme applicable, ou comment on peut déterminer si quelque chose peut-être considéré comme haine à une personne ou un groupe. C’est possible alors que quelqu’un puisse l’utiliser à censurer les autres sans une méthode objective à juger si la décision était juste.

Une autre message, aussi dans partie 6,2b, dit que les vêtements doivent ne pas encourager de contenu qui sont discriminatoires (par exemple, raciste, antisémite etc.). Une fois encore, il n’y a pas les détailles à utiliser cette règle dans un manière efficace. On peut affirmer que certains contenu, comme les statistiques ou les événements historiques ne sont pas discriminatoires en soi. 

De toute façon, les changements récents dans le code vestimentaire ne nous affecteront pas beaucoup en restant surtout le même. Toutefois, tout le monde devrait être attentif aux règles - particulièrement s’ils supposent les thèmes graves. C’est facile à abuser de ces règles, parce qu’ils peuvent facilement recevoir beaucoup d’attention, et ils peuvent supposer les idées avec des partis pris. 


What is respect?

August 21, 2019

What is respect?

While it may be simple to recognize the absence of respect, it's much harder to define and reflect on what is respect in our daily interactions with other people. Paraphrasing Cambridge's definition, respect means to demonstrate "high regard" for or special attention to something or someone. However, that definition alone is too vague in explaining what that something is or how respect is demonstrated. The requirements for respect should be considered from both a social and an individual perspective. 

Firstly, most people learn the basic social guidelines for respect at a young age. Our parents teach us to follow standard etiquette like greetings and saying please and thank you. They teach us to play nice with others, wait in a line peacefully, and to not interrupt others when they're speaking, laying the foundation for respectful interactions with others in the future. These acquired basics which follow our community consensus about respectful behavior define the standards to guide our interactions with others.

Secondly, thanks to the uniqueness of each individual, our personal definitions of respect are influenced by our own personality, emotions, preferences, and cultural context. Each of these elements may be difficult to define in an objective fashion. We often pick up on these elements over time through relationships with peers. 

Respect requires struggling to understand each person's individual expectations for respect as we get to know them and build shared experiences over time.

Undoubtedly, dialogue is our most effective tool when we look to gain insight from our peers' definition for respect. This active exchange of ideas and opinions aids in the comprehension of the most important variables that define individual expectations for respect. In order to make this understanding successful, we need to stop judging other people and their actions by our own personal standards of conduct and open ourselves up to perceiving the world from another's perspective.

Just remember the following principles: What we do, say, and provide to others demonstrates our regard for them. Respectful interactions will never draw negative attention to a person's differences.

Federal election: who’s who?

August 3, 2019

It’s been five years already since the last election. On October 21st, although the date is currently uncertain, Canadians will once again be going to the polls. This year, there will be six parties in the running: the Liberal Party, the Conservative Party, the New Democratic Party, the Green Party, Bloc Quebecois, and the newly founded People’s Party of Canada.

The Liberals, led by Justin Trudeau, had some early successes in their agenda, such as the legalization of recreational marijuana and the introduction of a carbon tax, the latter of which was the subject of an attack ad campaign funded by the Conservatives. However, the PM suffered greatly during the SNC-Lavalin affair. The Prime Minister’s Office was accused of preventing the criminal prosecution of Montreal engineering firm SNC-Lavalin. As a result, Gerald Butts, the PM’s principal secretary, resigned along with many other top officials. Polls showed that the Liberal Party suffered a precipitous drop during the scandal, dropping from 40% to 30%. It became apparent that without his advisors whispering in his ear, Trudeau’s political ability is increasingly called into question. He experienced a run of gaffes, such as the time that he confused Japan with China during a meeting with the Japanese PM. 

The Conservatives are making a come back this election, gaining part of what the liberals lost. They have been using aggressive marketing tactics. You may have received them yourself, headed with “Hi, it’s Sarah from the Conservative Party.” These are part of a larger broader effort to engage voters through texting, which has lead to all the major parties also adopting this approach.

The New Democratic Party has embraced a new leader in its ranks. Jagmeet Singh, a former criminal defense lawyer turned local MP has taken the leadership through bold statements such as that his candidacy has created 47,000 party signups for the NDP, and a bit of luck after a video of him confronting a heckler went viral. He won the party polls with 53.8% of the vote on October 1st, 2017. Wisely, he appointed the runner up as Parliamentary Leader. With Singh at the helm, the NDPs may become important as they could hold the balance of power in what could be a tie, and Singh has said that he does not rule out working with the Conservatives in order to topple a Liberal Federal government.

The Green Party is seeing impressive gains in its polling numbers. It’s almost doubled its polling average, from 5% in 2015 to 10%. It’s possible that the party may even win more than one seat in the federal government as the party benefits from a shift in public perception. As in the case in BC, the greens could prove influential even if they hold on only to a small number of seats, which could allow them to wield great influence in a minority parliament.

The Bloc Quebecois is also gaining at the expense of the Liberals, who unexpectedly won a large number of seats there last election. Rising Quebec separatism has been revived after backers who were swayed to the Liberals are now returning to the party. Quebec politics has become more chaotic in recent years, and the parties seem to be at each other’s throats after former backers have had enough of the NDPs and Liberals.

New to the running is the People’s Party of Canada. Headed and founded by Maxime Bernier on September 14, 2018, after his resignation from the Conservative party, its vague platform seems to be leaning more right-wing. Allegations that the party is harbouring racists, anti-Semites, and conspiracy theorists has led five of its more moderate Winnipeg members to resign, and it takes a strong view that immigration should be capped to around 100,000 to 150,000 a year.

These past few years have seen many changes in the political landscape bubbling under the surface. Although our politics may not be as spectacular as to our neighbours down south, there’s still a lot going on, and it seems certain that it’ll be a chaotic but fateful election season that could change the political landscape for years to come.


Meet VAC’s New President: Hilary Shi

July 12, 2019

VAC is Victoria Park’s very own Visual Arts Council, which includes many talented and artistic leaders at our school. This summer, I got the chance to sit down with Hilary Shi, who has been part of the council since Grade 10. She is a hardworking student who has mastered the ability to manage both her academic studies and extracurricular activities effectively. She takes visual arts very seriously and finds that VAC is the perfect club that fulfills both her artistic and leadership abilities.

Arisa Shaikh: Let’s get to know a little bit about you and your participation in VAC, shall we? Tell me what being a leader in VAC means to you!

Hilary Shi: I will be in Grade 12 this coming school year, and I’m stoked to be your 2019-2020 President of the Visual Arts Council! Having served as the VAC Vice-President last year, I’m very excited to apply the experience I gained to bring the council’s presence and involvement in our school community to another level. But for me, being a leader in VAC means so much more than just titles. It’s the nitty-gritty behind-the-scenes work that really makes the successful execution of an event so much more gratifying. It is the camaraderie that forms from spending hours after school together putting the finishing touches on a banner. It is working together to make sure we adapt together as a unit, even when things don’t go as planned. That’s why what has really made my experience in VAC so meaningful is the talented members who are exceptionally devoted to the council—and special shoutout to our staff advisors Ms. Martyr-Andre and Mr. Haynes! I’m confident we can make this year’s VAC experience the best it has ever been—not only for the 2019-2020 general members but also for the student body as a whole.

AS: Why did you join VAC in Grade 10 and how does it feel to continue with it until Grade 12?

HS: I joined VAC because I wanted to continue fueling my passion for the visual arts throughout my high school career, knowing I wouldn’t be able to take visual arts courses in my last two years in the IB program. The solution to my dilemma came to me in the form of a community of talented visual artists called Visual Arts Council. After contributing to the council as a general member, I knew I wanted to play a bigger role in the visual arts community at VP. Looking back from where I am now, with the council having been part of the majority of my high school career, it’s very fulfilling to witness how VAC has evolved throughout these past few years.

AS: How can you encourage the Grade 9s this year to join VAC?

HS: We are always looking for fresh faces in our council, so for those of you who are just starting your high school journey, we welcome your application! VAC is your gateway to greater involvement with the student body because Visual Arts Council is more than just a leadership opportunity—it’s a community where we share a bond stemming from our common enthusiasm for the visual arts. So if you’re looking to continue to keep your passion alive throughout your high school career like I was when I first started out at VP, or if you simply want to get the most out of your high school experience here, make sure you join VAC!

General member applications for the 2019-2020 council are out Wednesday, September 4th, 2019. You can also send us an online application with the form found in the SLC Updates Facebook group due Saturday, September 14 at 11:59 pm or drop off a hard copy in the office by Friday, September 13th, 2019 at 11:15 pm.

And by the way... the personal work submission is simply meant as a chance for you to showcase yourself and your own style and preferences. So I urge you to apply, even if you’re on the fence about it because it truly is an amazing opportunity that you won’t want to miss out on! We look forward to meeting VP’s rising visual artists in our 2019 - 2020 council.

AS: Lastly, are there any special events that have been planned by VAC for the 2019/2020 school year?

HS: You can definitely expect the return of Arts Festival—always our biggest event—as well as the Lucky Lunar New Year Event, featuring our annual bubble tea fundraiser. However, in this coming year, we hope to put much greater emphasis on a project that can really flesh out the artistic talents of our student body—we’ll have more information to come once we iron out the details, so stay tuned by following us on our Instagram @vac_vicpark!

Art Club

July 12, 2019

VP’s Art Club is home to many aspiring painters and artists alike. Whether you would like to unleash your artistic abilities and make your contribution on a school project, or just want a fun place to hang out after school, Art Club is the place for you. Let’s see what the Art Club presidents, Erica Fan and Catherine Xie have to say about the club.

Melissa Ma: What makes art club different from the other arts councils at VP?

Erica Fan: Art Club, although independent, is interdependent on other clubs and councils. In exchange for artwork, the Art Club receives opportunities from these clubs to work on fun projects. For example, we’ve been responsible for making banners and decorations for events like semi-formal, talent show, athletic banquet, and more!

Catherine Xie: While these projects do tend to be a lot of work, we manage to maintain a no commitment zone in our club. We understand that high school can be very stressful, especially during certain times of year, so we encourage our members to come to meetings on a basis that works for them.


MM: Why did you guys decide to join art club in the first place?

EF: We both joined Art Club when we were in grade 9 because we enjoyed drawing and painting, and we were excited at the opportunity to do some hands-on work for the school. We ended up staying because it was such a welcoming environment in which to practice our artistic skills while also being able to become friends with other members and the club leaders at the time.

MM: What activities can members expect to find at the club?

EF: As mentioned earlier, Art Club is heavily involved with other clubs and councils. We make many banners and decorations for them. While we are occupying ourselves with more short-term projects, we are planning more permanent ones to leave our mark on the school.

CX: Whatever the activity may be, members are guaranteed a lot of hands-on experience working with different types of media. 

MM: Do you guys have anything special planned for the upcoming year?

CX: Last year, we were asked to paint an installation representing VP drama to be hung in the JetFac. We started drafting an idea of a portrayal of the evolution of the dramatic arts over the years, but we have yet to finish the final product. So, we plan on completing the installation this year. In addition to the painting, we were asked to make motivational posters for a teacher’s classroom to encourage healthy mindsets when studying which we wish to finish.

MM: Would you like to say anything else about Art Club?

EF: We want to stress the fact that little to no experience is required in order to participate in art club. What’s more, coming to our meetings can be a great way to get volunteer hours as well! If you’re too shy to volunteer around the neighbourhood, or if the convenience of being able to get hours right at school entices you, Art Cub is the opportunity for you! Finally, if you’d like to keep up with what we’re doing this year, feel free to follow us on Instagram @artclup.vpci.


Canada Wins Third Consecutive Bronze at the International Young Physicists’ Tournament, setting New National Records

July 29, 2019




Figure 1: Team Canada posing for a photo soon after receiving their bronze medal

The International Young Physicists’ Tournament (IYPT), or commonly referred to as “Physics World Cup” is one of the world’s most prestigious physics competitions based on 17 unexplored, open-ended research problems. Participants conduct research on these problems, and discuss them in PhD-style debates undertaking roles of reporting (presenting), opposing, and reviewing. In 2019, there were 34 participating countries, of which number is expected to only increase in future years as the competition gains popularity. Debate rounds, called “Physics Fights”, are judged by professors with at least a doctorate in the field of physics. The competition requires participants to showcase a deep understanding of the theories attached to each problem, and debate the setup and conclusions of many experiments conducted.

After a long year of hard work, Team Canada’s efforts paid dividends when they won bronze in the 32nd International Young Physicists’ Tournament in the week of July 7th. Every record set in each role was either met, or thoroughly broken, setting Canada at an all-time total high score of 191.8, on the brink of a silver medal (Figure 2).




The IYPT Canadian Team consists of carefully selected, exceptional students from across Canada. Under the mentorship of the team leaders Ryan Lin and Jim Chen and experienced two-time bronze medalist, team captain, Dave Singh from VPCI, the team was stronger than ever before. Ten of the most outstanding students are selectively invited from the Canadian Young Physicists' Tournament to attend the national camp, in which they undergo a more rigorous selection process to select the best five. The final team also consisted of another VPCI student, Clark Li, along with three students from UTS including Raymond Lin, Andrew Marin, and Jason Xiong. Throughout the months, the students have been passionately working on the 17 problems, expanding the physics frontier and enhancing their experimental skills. Two of such problems are shown below (Figure 3).




Figure 3: Two of the seventeen 2019 IYPT problems (Left: Gyroscope Teslameter, Right: Hurricane Balls)

The resilient Canadian Team has overcome countless failures and frustrating moments through collaborative teamwork and relentless effort to improve the experiments. For each problem, the team developed and conducted experiments hundreds of times to collect manual data. As well, students coded computer models to simulate the real world. The large data pool was then analyzed to reach a conclusion regarding the theory. Although many of these problems may seem mundane to the average reader, the process by which students undergo during their research enables them to develop skills critical to modern day research, including persistence, creativity, and critical thinking. Through these 17 problems, each member of Team Canada has deeply engaged in an aspect of physics including, but not limited to, optics, audio, electricity, force, and fluid dynamics. With limited finance and resources, the team created a miracle by attaining such prestigious achievements. Unlike many countries that have government grants and large company support, Team Canada had no such advantages. However, with the support of participants’ parents, Olympiads School, STEM fellowship, and the observing team, they were able to stand strong on the international stage.

For students interested in participating in CaYPT 2020, and potentially IYPT 2020, the VPCI team will be led by Dave Singh, for which the selection process will begin around mid-September. Students are recommended to start reviewing the new problems, which can be found on the official IYPT website ( and their basic physics knowledge. For more information, please contact:



Exploring clubs at VP: Robotics!

July 31, 2019

   One of the biggest clubs at VP is the robotics club, a large group whose main goal is to build large robots. These robots are built to accomplish a specific task, and are then taken to competitions where awards are given to teams that not only have the best robot but the best community involvement in STEM, the best spirit, and of course the best safety. Although the main season does not begin until January, the team diligently works throughout the whole year (including in the summer) to promote STEM. There is no doubt that our robotics club, dubbed 4914, contributes a great amount to the school culture at VP.

Our team has been very successful in past robotics seasons. Each year, we compete in two regional robotics competitions to gain awards and points in order to qualify for the provincial championship. We’ve been able to compete at provincials for a couple years in a row and we have even been able to attend the World Championships in the US. The experience you gain from going to one of our competitions cannot be replicated elsewhere. At competitions, it is not about just doing well with our robot. At first, it can be overwhelming. There is just so much going on. We have students from over 30 different teams (including our own) working on their robots while we have even more students watching from the stands, scouting out the other teams, and discussing some strategies. Some students talk to other teams, trying to get some more information or just to make connections with all kinds of people. We also have a handful taking pictures and videos, documenting our experience, while some others talk to potential sponsors about supporting our team. It is important to keep in mind that our team not only values the engineers but also the strategists, the business planners, the outreachers, and the leaders. We value every skill our members offer and we work on developing those skills even further while introducing some new ones.

        Although it is not happening this year, Fall Fiesta was a major offseason event that attracted more than 30 other FRC teams every year. Our school has been hosting it for five years and it has been a success ever since it started in 2014. It is always amazing to see how the school transforms as the event takes over our school’s gyms for almost an entire week. Midway through October, many volunteers, some students and some not, move in to transform our gym into a robot playing field. I as a volunteer, have endured late nights and early mornings setting up and supervising the event. However, it never ceases to amaze me how hundreds of people stand up and cheer or run around the area preparing their robots. To be honest, it is a lot less hectic than at an onseason competition, but the fact that this huge event happens at our school, while classes are still running, is amazing.

        For me personally, the robotics team at our school really changed my life. I’ve been a part of team 4914 since my very first year at VP. Since then, I have really learned a bit of everything. I have learned to use power tools, and I have developed my planning, strategy, and communication skills. I am now one of the leaders of team 4914 because the team has helped me gain so much experience. There is so much to do on the team; it is not all about building a robot. We do other things like learning how to CAD, how to program, how to organize events, and how to communicate well with others. We even mentor some other FRC teams and even a hand full of FLL teams. To be honest, it can be daunting to join such a huge club with potentially so many responsibilities and expectations stacked against you, but I do not regret having joined. Everyone needs to start somewhere and as long as you are committed, our VP robotics team can give you the opportunity to learn and develop various skills that are not confined to engineering. Overall, team 4914 is a place to grow and learn while doing something that interests you or is fulfilling to you.

Exploring clubs at VP: Astronomy

August 29, 2019

Gillian Tsoi, Amir Roshankar, and Bashaar Hassan are now graduates who were the leaders of astronomy club. I interviewed Bashaar about this spectacular club at VP. 

Tina Feng: What’s astronomy club about? 

Bashaar Hassan: Astronomy club focuses on learning about astronomy as a group in a manner that encompasses what we learn in class so that the subject isn't brand new. This way, it’s more easily understood and less polarizing. We want everyone to feel welcome and comfortable.

TF: Who’s it for? 

BH: It's for anyone who has an interest in exploring a field that is barely covered or explored in high school. 

TF: What do you love about astronomy?

BH: It’s so easy to understand all the cool stuff in the sky.  It doesn’t require an intensive background in the sciences. 

TF: What do you do when you meet as a club?

BH: We have discussions and lectures pertaining to various aspects of astronomy. We also run activities to help better understand astronomy and have the club be a more immersive experience. 

TF: What’s something about astronomy you wish people knew? 

BH: I wish people paid more attention to astronomy club. Then they’d see just how easy and fun the subject really is. 

TF: What has astronomy taught you? 

BH: The subject itself taught me how to apply the science we learn in class. Running the club taught me how to manage activities and how to trust your gut instinct. 

Pay attention to the announcements if you would like to know how to join the astronomy club. 



Lorem Ipsum

Don’t hold me back
Don’t hold me tight
Let me be free
I am meant to be free
I have not done anything wrong
I am stuck
Stuck in a huge womb
I can’t get out
No matter how hard I try

I can’t escape
I wander as lonely as a cloud
I am like a bird with no wings
My hands are tied
My heart is racing so fast
I might even have a heart attack
I can’t do anything
I am in a room which has nothing in it
I can’t run
I can’t hide
These rusty bars can’t hold me back
One day or another I will get out
I will limp or stumble, but I will come out

Whenever I try to sleep, I just can’t
I hear noises from other cells of prisoners screaming
I have nightmares that wake me up in the middle of the night
They never let me sleep peacefully
I didn’t do anything
I am not guilty
I always feel that someone is keeping an eye on me
And if I try even once to run I will get hit with chains and tortured

The walls are screaming at me
Whenever I look at the walls all I see are blood marks
Writings and drawings of people that were here before
The long rusty metal bars that prevent me from running just keep appearing everywhere
I wish they would just vanish
And I would be out of here

I don’t deserve this I really don’t
I haven’t done anything wrong
Why am I being held captive
Please someone just listen to me
Hear me out at least once

Oh, I just wish I was out of this horrible place and have my hands free
I just wish I could go home

The Abstraction Expert

I was 12 when I first discovered that I could take the memories of others; I could always look through the memories of everyone. I thought it was an ability everyone had. I used to be confused when someone was able to get away with lying. Couldn’t dad see that mom was out with Rich last night? Couldn’t my gym teacher see that Stella had sabotaged the gym divider which crushed and killed Mickey? I didn’t know why everyone was pretending that they didn’t know. I thought it was an act, where everyone pretends to only be aware of what they are able to see with their eyes. It was a fun act, except for when someone got hurt and no one blamed the person who did it.

One day in sixth grade, everything changed. I was looking through my crush Vanessa’s memories. Maybe you think it’s weird, but it had become a habit for me to look though the mind of anyone I talked to. She was talking about the new brand of shampoo that she was using. I wasn’t too interested in the topic, though. I remember looking at her memories of the new shampoo, and making a dismissive motion with a virtual hand. Vanessa instantly stopped talking. It was as if I had pressed pause on her. After a few seconds, she looked around and seemed confused. I accessed her memories again, but the memory I had viewed was gone. Instead, I found myself experiencing its feelings and scents of the memory as if it were my own. 

I experimented. I told her that I use Dove shampoo the day after, to which she responded, “why are we talking about shampoo?” I then immediately repeated the dismissive action. I asked Vanessa what brand of shampoo I used, a question which was both absurd and unanswerable to her.

In grade 8, a kid—Edgar, the school bully— was hitting my friend Russel. From past experience, I knew that we couldn’t fight him even two-on-one. I had an idea though. I accessed Edgar’s memories and wiped every memory of fighting—every punch, every kick that he ever did or saw. He froze mid-kick. Edgar just stood there for a solid 30 seconds, not moving at all. When he finally started moving, he began to cry and complain that “something felt missing”.

I didn’t know I could give memories back—I didn’t figure that out until I was 19. I thought Edgar would figure out that it was me. So, I panicked. I took everything. I erased him. Instantly he stopped breathing. He forgot how to breathe. The ambulance was called, but it was too late. He was dead in four minutes. At autopsy, doctors discovered nothing wrong with the body, except that the brain was visibly smaller than it was supposed to be. Some unique genetic defect? No one was able to find a cause.

After a few months, the incident was forgotten. I was very careful this time. I had to take a lot from Edgar’s friends, and even more from his family. But I did it. Not a single person remembered Edgar except for me.

As it turns out, I am not alone. This morning, I awoke to find a man standing over my bed. He showed me pictures of me with my family, which I did not recognize. He told me that he had taken many of my memories in my sleep. When I tried to take his memories in response, I felt blocked, as if I was hitting a wall. My intruder only laughed. I write this confession by his command, knowing that these words will be my last. For 23 years I terrorized my enemies. My reign ends today, to be replaced with one far worse. Know fear. 

Remember my name, for soon I will not.

Anomaly: A Deviation From Normal

In the frigid wastelands of somewhere in northern Russia is an underground bunker that  serves as a makeshift laboratory to a team of researchers. They tinker endlessly into the night, racing against the one variable they can’t seem to eliminate: time. 

“These results,” the young man stutters, “they simply don’t make any sense. Sir, I have looked over them and checked countless times but they remain yet the same.” He hands me a print out that seems to have been crumpled up and reopened several times. On the back were a few lines of handwritten equations that were hastily scribbled out in pen. He looks at me anxiously, tapping his feet. 

I frown at the numbers shown on the paper. “Are you absolutely sure?” He nods. “But this can’t be right. . . such an anomaly isn’t physically possible. The human condition does not allow for it.”

Confused, I grab the nearest phone and dial a number. “Professor,” I yell once the line picks up, “You have to come to the basement floor right away.”

There is the sound of something shuffling before he speaks. “What is it?”

I hold the printout tightly in my hand and recite the numbers that were typed onto it. “Sir, if these numbers are correct, it means that the subjects are showing a sudden fluctuation in their behavior and an almost supernatural speed. It’s as if their minds have suddenly. . . I don’t even know the word to describe it.” I pause momentarily. “We might be onto something huge here.”

I can hear the professor thinking behind the phone. “No, there’s a variable we forgot to consider.”

My throat felt suddenly dry. “What could we have possibly forgotten? The results have been looked over several times, I myself—”

“The subjects were induced to something foreign. Something incredibly powerful.”

“What could possibly wreck the human mind in such a devastating manner?” I say incredulously. The professor takes a deep breath before continuing. 





Dear Tori,

I’m starting at a new school this coming September. I’m really scared as I don’t know what to expect and I’m super shy. Will I make any friends? What if my teachers hate me? I have so many questions and I don’t know how I’ll survive! Can you tell me how to overcome my shyness and make a few friends?

- An anxious student


Dear Anxious Student,


Attending a new school can be scary and it is completely normal to have all sorts of doubts. However, remember that changes are inevitable and are something we all have to take on in our lives. I don’t think there's a person alive who has never felt anxious. We all can understand your misery. Here are some suggestions to, hopefully, make you feel a bit better and less anxious!


#1: Participate. Get yourself out there! I know this may sound a little demanding for introverts like you and I, but it’s one of the best things you can do to meet new people and adapt to your new school a lot faster. Join any clubs or teams you are interested in and pretty soon you will find yourself surrounded by individuals that have similar passions and interests as you! By just putting yourself out there, you’re also opening yourself up to many opportunities and bonds with others that you wouldn’t get otherwise. At the same time, you can also feel like you are making a contribution to the school. There’s nothing to lose!


#2. Be friendly. This is one of the most important things on this list. By being friendly, I mean 3 things: smile, be confident, and be present. First, smile. Don’t overdo it and look like a crazed loon, of course. But present a friendly face so that it tells people that you’re interested in being friends and that you’re approachable. Second, confidence. Here’s a pro tip: assume that people want to be friends with you until they make it clear that they don’t (in that case, they’re not really worth your time). Have that confidence to approach people and introduce yourself first. Most of the time, people might be hesitant to approach you even if they really want to, because they are afraid of rejection too.


#3. If all else fails, ask for help. Just like how you sent me this question, reach out for help if things just aren’t working out for you. There are more people around you to help you than you’d think. For example, your parents or loved ones. They are the ones that care about you the most (even if sometimes it may not seem like it). I assure you that they are more than willing to listen to your problems and solve them with you. If that doesn’t work, go to your guidance counselor or your teacher. It’s their job to help students. That way, they can get familiarized with your face too. 


Keep in mind that adapting to a new environment is an ongoing process, and it will definitely take some time. So don’t panic if things don’t work out in the first couple weeks. Instead of letting your mind run wild and worrying about all sorts of things, why not take some time to remind yourself of all your great qualities, and why people will like them? I wish you all the best - you can do it!


Wishing you the best school year,





To what extent can one be polite without being a push-over? What effect does this have on honesty?

July 21, 2019

Can I borrow your pencil? Do you have any spare change I can borrow? How did I do on my piano recital? As long as you don’t live under a rock, your friend, teammate or family may ask you these kinds of questions. Though we want to be kind and polite to others, there comes a point where everything we do is for other people. Even though we have our own wants, all we do is serve the wants of others. Where is the line between being polite and being a pushover, and what effect does this have on honesty?

Before we answer the question, we must distinguish politeness from honesty. Politeness is about acting nicely to others. It’s about acting so others are happy and pleased. Honesty is about truth. It's about saying what you think or what is true. While these concepts are different, they can overlap. 

A person becomes a pushover when they are repeatedly dishonest to themselves. All humans have their own needs and wants. Naturally, we want what is good for ourselves: we seek to satisfy ourselves before others. By being a pushover, we’re not honest with others about what we really want. We may try to deny that these desires even exist, try to rationalize them or simply ignore them. In all these ways, a pushover creates a false image of himself as someone who is selfless, but does so reluctantly.

To illustrate this, let’s say someone asks us if they can borrow $10. We can say “sure, not a problem” and give them the money. We don’t want to lose face in front of onlookers, who might see us as selfish. By giving, we appear generous, righteous, or selfless. We might say to ourselves we don’t truly want it or that it’s just $10 and it doesn’t matter.  However, deep inside we wanted that $10. That money belonged to us. It was ours to choose where we want to use it. We could have spent it at a shopping mall or donated it to a charity of our choice. However, by ignoring our desires and simply following the desires of others, it’s as if we let others choose for us. In this way, we become pushovers.

In everyday situations, the most effective solution to prevent yourself from becoming a pushover is to say “No”. Obviously, this is easier said than done. The courage to say “No” only comes from turning down people’s requests. Yes, it is good to be selfless and generous. If we truly desire to donate our money or volunteer our time, this is a noble effort. However, there are times when others will ask for what we don’t want to do. By saying “No”, we clearly communicate that we have our own desires and we are not simply someone else’s servant. 

Are you polite?

September 2, 2019

Us humans are the first in the history of mankind to live in such an interconnected society. Unlike our ancestors who lived and died in small towns and villages, we live in cities with people from different races, cultures, gender, class, and more. With nearly boundless modes of communication from the phone to the Internet, we are bound to meet someone who is so much different than us. Maybe they’re from a different culture or grew up in a different place. How can we know if we’re polite to them?

The first test of politeness involves culture. We live in a Western society in the 21st century rife with its social rules. They tell us everything from how we should dress to what you can say and how you should act. These include giving handshakes, opening the door for someone, not saying racial slurs and not picking your nose in public. Following these rules is how one shows respect to others. Not following them shows rudeness.

Every culture, however, has different rules. Depending on time and location, cultures vary. Our current culture is different than Western culture 200 years ago, where it was considered rude to say “Good gracious” or “the Dickens”. Since then, such phrases have fallen out of use or have become socially acceptable. Modern Western culture is different from certain Asian cultures, where one must take off their shoes before entering a home. Knowing the differences from one culture reminds us to be adaptable and open-minded. What may be polite in one culture may be weird, rude or downright profane in another.

While people may belong to a culture, each person has their own opinions, emotions and feelings. Even though we are different, as social creatures, we crave the feeling of belonging to a group. An essential part of politeness is making people feel welcome. For example, if you’re at a family gathering, it’s best not to gossip or bring up divisive topics such as politics. While rumours and controversy aren’t always bad, they can easily make others feel defensive or excluded. A helpful maxim in being polite is “treat others as you would like to be treated”.

Knowing if we’re polite or impolite shows us where we stand and where we need to improve. Knowing how to be polite will help you everywhere. From making friends to negotiating business deals years in the future, politeness is part of the social fabric that bonds people together.  It is the essential language of respect for anyone who wants to be part of something greater. 


CANOES Melissa Ma

Canoes on the river


Central Island

SUNRISE Felicity Carlstein


Sunrise Felcity Carlstein






cute puppy




SODUKU Yucen Xie





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