Palo Alto High School's Arts and Culture Magazine

C Magazine

Palo Alto High School's Arts and Culture Magazine

C Magazine

Palo Alto High School's Arts and Culture Magazine

C Magazine

Passion Passed On

At Paly, many students put a strong emphasis on a high standard for core academics, oftentimes overlooking classes in the Visual and Performing Arts (VAPA) department

Willner Leads the Band 

For Paly art teachers, teaching is a way for them to share their passion with other students. Paly band teacher Jeff Willner enjoys seeing his students progress throughout the year. Community participation is his favorite  part of the classes he teaches. 

“It’s gotten to the point where that’s [the community is] more important to me than the absolute perfect performance,” Willner said. “As long as everyone in the room’s engaged and we’re communicating, [occasional mistakes] don’t bother me.”  

Originally, Willner began teaching because he saw it as a logical step in his career. Now, becoming a band director has exposed him to many genres of music, allowing him to help his students adapt to different musical styles like jazz, classical music and orchestral pieces.  

“It’s enabled me to use so much of what I’ve listened to over the years,” Willner said. 


Williamson Dances Away

Paly dance coach and English teacher Alanna Williamson views dance as a stress reliever, for her students and herself.

“It helps to have the dance team because I get to pursue dancing as a separate thing [passion],” Williamson said. “It’s a stress reliever for sure, when real work is stressful I feel that dance is a great outlet.”

Williamson, a trained dancer, became interested in becoming the coach for Paly dance after watching the dance team perform on the quad. Combining her passion for dance and teaching gave her incentive to take on the position. 

“Getting to coach [Paly dance] and helping pass on my knowledge [of dance] allowed me to go back to it as an adult,” Williamson said. “I got to start training again, and now I get to do it on my own as a professional dancer, so that’s great, too.” 

Since current child development teacher Hilary McDaniel started the dance team in 2010, it has served as a pivotal part of Paly’s football and basketball games as well as performing at school events, adding to the school spirit. Williamson has enjoyed watching the team evolve throughout the years and how the dancers connect. 

“I don’t do this [coaching] for anything else other than that I truly love coaching and I really believe in the girls,” said Williamson. “It doesn’t feel like work, it feels like something fun.” 

Gallagher Captures Hearts

Photography teacher Kenna Gallagher continually fuels their passion for photography directly from the classroom. 

“I have so much more time to deep-dive into the nuances [of photography] because I need to have that knowledge base in order to teach it to students, so it actually lets me create more than I normally would have time for if I wasn’t teaching [photography],” Gallagher said. “It’s all I’m surrounded by when I’m at work for 10 hours a day.”

Not only does Gallagher believe that photography is a valuable and useful skill, they also believe that it helps in areas such as advertising, as photography is a more popular art medium, which makes it highly marketable.  

“People want their lives documented,” Gallagher said. “People want their weddings documented, people want their moments and are willing to pay for it by somebody who knows the craft.”


Muñoz Colors Students’ Lives

Art spectrum teacher Tree Muñoz also believes that art is like a puzzle, with many components creating a bigger picture. 

“It is amazing to see the truth that people reveal through their artwork that they don’t talk about,” Muñoz said. 

As an art teacher, Muñoz has a lot of dedication, particularly when it comes to preparing her classroom for each of her five classes. Sometimes, they find themselves performing trivial tasks, including restocking art supplies, making it hard for them to take breaks. 

“If [I’m] not [setting up class], then I’ll take clay things out of the kiln or put them in,” Muñoz said. “I don’t usually have time to get everything done.”  

Muñoz finds it enjoyable to teach their students how to gain perspective and express themselves through their artwork. Muñoz finds that such strategies compel students to  gain perspective and interact with each other.

“They’ll be able to tap into something that they didn’t know,” Muñoz said. “I try to give them materials and tools in the inspiration or the prompts to get those emotions moving on to some kind of creative art clay or even scribbling.”

She finds that students putting their thoughts on paper often allows them to release their emotions. 

“You just get a plain piece of paper and a box of crayons [with a goal to] make this [the paper] as covered with crayons as you possibly can,” Muñoz said. “When they’re done, they just don’t feel the same… Putting it [your emotions] outside of yourself [in art] creates space.”


Bond Taps into Rhythm

As a lifelong dancer, Alyssa Bond always saw teaching dance as a natural career path. 

“I always say I didn’t have the guts to go to New York and try to make it as a dancer or go to LA., that just that wasn’t me, I just knew that about my personality,” Bond said. “I feel very lucky that I knew that early on.”

Bond observes that many students take dance as an alternative to regular P.E. to fill their P.E. credits. However, by the end of the year, she finds that many of her students are using dance as an outlet. 

“I always love the feedback that I get at the end of the year from parents writing to me, explaining how surprising it was that their kid had a newfound passion for dance,” said Bond. It’s also cool to hear students just telling me how they appreciate that they can come to dance and they get to totally turn off their brains.” 

Bond enjoys hearing the impact that dance has made on the students across all of her classes. Whether they’re experienced or not, utilizing dance as a mid-day break can alleviate the stress of everyday school life. 

“With dance, there’s a lot that you’re doing with your body that’s different from normal, but at least they’re not sitting at a desk,” said Bond. “They’re not worried about their tests that are coming up in the next class, instead they just focus on the music and the movement. This is what will have a lasting impression on them even if they don’t dance afterward.”

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About the Contributors
Sophia Dong
Sophia Dong, Staff Writer
2023-2024 Staff Writer   I joined CMag because I thought writing about culture and arts was extremely unique. Additionally, the feature-centered writing was really appealing as I started appreciating the intersection of visual art and writing. My favorite part of CMag is the community. I enjoy interacting with other individuals sharing who also appreciate arts and culture. I love journalism because I enjoy writing! I feel like it gives me an opportunity to develop my writing skills and express my thoughts in a unique way. While I haven't been as interested in design, I enjoy formatting and coming up with concept ideas for a given spread. Aside from journalism, I'm interested in engineering, especially circuits and audio analyzing. I also enjoy applied math and physics. Additionally, I play the flute and am currently in a youth orchestra. In college, I hope to major in applied math or electrical engineering/computer science (EECS). I also look forward to continuing my flute endeavors and joining a college publication!
Kayley Ko
Kayley Ko, Staff Writer
2023-2024 Staff Writer I joined C Mag because I really like how design based the magazine is, plus there are so many interesting aspects of student life like music, arts, and culture to write about. One of the things I love most about C Mag is the family-like community that the staff embodies. My favorite thing about journalism is how it's a combination of story telling, reporting, and design. In my free-time I like to dance, hang out with my friends, watch sunsets, and listen to music!
Fallon Porter
Fallon Porter, Staff Writer