In this week's Around Town column, read about Paly student journalists reporting in the middle of a campus lockdown, a Stanford University student who competed on Jeopardy! and residents opposing Verizon Wireless's plan to install equipment on utility poles.
LOCKED DOWN, BUT STILL REPORTING ... On March 29, as Palo Alto High School student journalists worked to put out the latest issue of Verde Magazine, which was devoted to gun-control issues, they were suddenly thrust into the very issue they had been reporting on. The school was placed on lockdown for more than an hour after police received a shooting threat, which was later determined to be a hoax. As students sheltered in a dark classroom, sitting among barricaded chairs, they did what any good journalists would: reported on the news as it broke around them. They recorded their verbatim reactions to the lockdown and took photos for a new story called "Locked down." "I spent two weeks talking to people who were fervently opposed to guns. And who march. And who screamed for change. And yet we are sitting here on lockdown," said Digital Editor Asia Gardias. The entire magazine is pierced by a physical hole, depicting a bullet hole "to convey gun violence affects every part of life, and its consequences are inescapable," an editor's note states. Also in the issue are interviews with Paly students from gun-owning families and coverage of a student gun-violence protest.
GAME OVER ... Josie Bianchi, a Stanford University sophomore, competed in the Jeopardy! College Championship that kicked off on Monday, April 9. She beamed with enthusiasm and determination throughout the quarterfinal round against other two sophomores from the University of Central Florida and Rochester Institute of Technology. Stanford is the only university to twice win the College Championship, but living up to that feat didn't intimidate Bianchi. "There's a little bit of pressure but no, it's great," she told host Alex Trebek. The San Jose resident started out with negative $500, but jumped back into positive numbers by shooting out correct answers to three consecutive questions in the categories of saves (filled with baseball-related questions) and landmarks. She had $3,200 by the end of the first round, but slipped down to $2,300 after Double Jeopardy!, where the UCF student dominated the competition. She redeemed herself by correctly answering the Final Jeopardy! clue: "He took the oath of office twice 14 months apart." (Answer: Lyndon B. Johnson) Her final winnings of $4,550 wasn't enough to move on in the tournament, but she took the loss with stride. What is like being in front of the cameras for America's Favorite Quiz Show? "It's very short, very fast, very quick. No long pauses, no long breaks. You're on the stage and off," she told the Stanford Daily last week.
CAN YOU HEAR US NOW? ... Verizon Wireless eked out a victory in late March, when city officials approved the company's plans to install wireless equipment on 11 utility poles despite an outpouring of opposition from the neighborhoods where these poles are located. Now, residents are challenging the approval and urging the city to force Verizon to install its equipment in underground vaults. Jeanne Fleming, who opposes the Verizon plan, said at least six residents have filed appeals, protesting Planning Director Hillary Gitelman's March 26 decision to approve Verizon's application. In a statement, residents rejected Verizon's assertion that building underground vaults for its equipment is not feasible. "We welcome the ramp up to 5G in Palo Alto. ... But it is our view that Palo Alto should be a leader in ensuring that the equipment required to support this service is thoughtfully integrated into residential neighborhoods," Fleming wrote in the appeal on behalf of United Neighbors, a group formed in opposition to Verizon's plans. Palo Alto, she wrote, "should insist that this massive buildout be done right, and not on the cheap." Barron Park resident Jerry Fan wrote, "The truth is, Verizon simply doesn't want to spend the money to do its installations right," Fan said in the statement." Verizon officials have maintained that going underground would be extremely difficult because some of the locations are in flood zones, while others have sloped sidewalks or street streets with large underground root systems.