Juniors instill new ‘lifestyle’

It all started as an eighth grade joke. Casper Stockwell ’10 and his friends returned from skate camp over summer break and started a club called Hella Epic. Originally, their only idea was to watch skate videos, but this year the group began making clothing and bumper stickers “spreading the Hella Epic lifestyle,” Stockwell said. This year, the founders Stockwell, Adam Rubin ’10 and Alex Herrarte ’10 want people to know that they are more than just a group of entrepreneurs.

Hella Epic’s impact can be seen on campus and on the roads to campus. The Hella Epic logo defaces Mulholland and Coldwater through bumper stickers and graffiti bearing the grup’s name.

Though the founders deny any connection to the graffiti, students driving to school see “Hella Epic” scrawled in paint on the back of a street sign.

“You can’t be this whole charity-driven group but also defile property, it’s completely contradictory,” Megan Hilliard ’10 said. “If that’s the image they want, then why bother with the charity aspect?”

Hella Epic has also been “spreading their lifestyle” on campus through bumper stickers placed on the sides of class buildings, the cafeteria, tables and other school property.

“I guess [the bumper stickers] got taken down,” Stockwell said. Since the boys posted the bumper stickers without permission, they were not surprised that they were gone.

Hella Epic’s website seems to have been the most controversial part of the group. Currently, the Hella Epic blogs focus on their charity work and on events like Halloween and Homecoming.

The blogs are accompanied by a message explaining that if anything is offensive it will be taken down immediately, an addition that is fairly new. This is partly due to previous blog entries, photos and comments that have since disappeared.

“The deans, Mr. Salamandra and I all thought the appearance of the [Harvard–Westlake–related] photos implied that Hella Epic was a Harvard–Westlake sponsored and supported organization, which it is not,” Head of School Jeanne Huybrchts said. “When I asked the boys responsible to remove the photographs and Harvard Westlake references, they did.”

Though Hella Epic removed Harvard–Westlake references, other blogs and pictures were taken down as well because of their risqué nature and the risk of the organization being misrepresented. More specifically, a blog that described one of the boy’s “hookups” was removed from the website, the creators explained.

Huybrechts and the Hella Epic founders also discussed Hella Epic’s overall goals and mission.

“It sounded like a lot of other student-initiated and student-supported ‘recycling’ activities. Harvard–Westlake students recycle all kinds of things,” Huybrechts said.

Shirts, sweatshirts, hats and bumper stickers with the group’s logo have been seen around campus. The boys order the shirts and sweatshirts online, decorate and sell them to students on and off campus. Stockwell explained that proceeds from the sales go to skateboards for underprivileged kids “as a positive recreational outlet to stay out of gangs and drugs.”

Hella Epic has distributed skateboards in India, Mexico and in downtown Los Angeles.

The boys explained that some of them had already been planning vacations with their families and they decided to go together. They donated all of their personal skateboards, a total of six, to kids they met along the way.

Though Rubin, Stockwell and Herrarte claim that “Hella Epic is not a clique, it’s a charity,” their peers seem to think otherwise.

“I think they’re the new Dreamboys,” Ernest Wolfe ’10 said, citing a group of junior boys who made shirts exclusively for their group of friends last year.

When asked whether Hella Epic is a company or a charity, the founders themselves stopped to think.

Ultimately, they came to an agreement. “Hella Epic is a charity, but it’s also a lifestyle,” Rubin, Stockwell and Herrarte said.