Midpeninsula Post

Behind the grind: Allison Huang is a taco aficionado and spreadsheet enthusiast

Huang eats a taco while on a Midpeninsula Post expedition in April 2022. It’s not a Tuesday, but she’ll live. (Gil Rubinstein)

Note: This article belongs to a collection of features of the Post’s staff members in the graduating Class of 2022.

It’s a Tuesday afternoon and Allison Huang’s just come home from a long day at school. Her next stop? Tacos.

The recent Mountain View High graduate has developed what some might call an obsession with the dish; Huang makes regular “Taco Tuesday” runs with her friends, leading recent Mountain View High School graduate Archer Date to describe her as a “hardworking, taco aficionado with five tablespoons of spunk on the side.”

But her extensive taco knowledge isn’t the only thing impressive about Huang. She’s actually got quite the long list: art, photography, debate and playing instruments, to name a few.

“She has so many different passions and is never afraid to explore them with such depth and such rigor and such personality to them,” Mountain View High School graduate John Chow said.

Huang sits on the floor, laying out pages at a Midpeninsula Post meeting in May 2022. (Tomoki Chien)

It’s perhaps due to the sheer number of Huang’s interests that she’s kept another niche interest: making spreadsheets.

“Really she’s the most organized, most put-together person I know,” Los Altos High School rising senior Rosie Shortland said. “And that’s what makes her, her; she wouldn’t be the same without spreadsheets.”

Mountain View High graduate Eva Spaid said she first got to know Huang when they were AP Literature “fluency fact partners.”

“Everyone else would just make a Google Doc and have a table where they fill [the fluency facts] out, but Allison used Notion and made a full-on Notion page with every one — and there were like, over 1000 [facts],” Spaid said.

Huang and Spaid's Notion fluency fact compilation. (courtesy Eva Spaid)

It doesn’t just end there, though: Spaid said that during quarantine, Huang also blocked out every minute of her day on Google Calendar.  

But if you look past the spreadsheets, Huang’s personality shines.

“She’s so excited to learn, to spend time with her friends, go out and get tacos on Taco Tuesday,” Date said. “She always walks into class with a smile. She’s always so supportive of those around her. … She’s a blessing to those around her.”

Huang does yoga in between debate rounds at MLK debate tournament in January 2020. (courtesy Cedric Chan)

Date remembered how for his birthday, Huang contacted his older brother via Facebook Messenger to ask for things Date might like.

“I thought that that was very sweet,” Date said. “I don’t think I’ve had anybody ever do that for me before.”

Best friend and recent Mountain View High School graduate Marika Ragnartz said Huang is someone who is “always listening and understanding and wanting to help.” And Huang is not only a good listener, but someone who listens without judgment.

“She’s one of those people that I really wish I had met sooner,” Ragnartz said. “Because I feel like I’m just so myself around her. And she just makes me so happy whenever we hang out.”

Huang has developed quite an affinity for laying on the floor. (Naina Srivastava) (courtesy Eva Spaid)

Spaid described Huang as a “connector” of sorts, bringing people who you wouldn’t expect together.

Ragnartz said that’s how she became so close with Huang in the first place: Huang invited her to play cards with a group of friends “by chance,” and from there on, the two were inseparable. 

“I love that she’s friends with so many people and always wants to bring them together and have people get to know people outside of their friend groups,” Ragnartz said.

And Huang’s ability to connect with others is part of what makes her so easy to get along with, and able to make so many friends.

“There’re some people where you have to put in a lot of work or [it] doesn’t fit as well, but with Allison, it’s just really easy and you can kind of just sit there with her and talk as much or as little as you want and it feels really comfortable,” Los Altos High School graduate Cedric Chan said.

Spaid recalled having a “little jam sesh” with Huang earlier this year; now, the two are in a one-time-show band with recent Los Altos High School graduate Tomoki Chien, Mountain View High School rising senior Sam Hjelmeset and younger brother Adam Huang. 

Huang and Spaid perform “Cornelia Street” at Red Rock Cafe in June 2022. (Naina Srivastava)

“I’ve [played with Allison] it once before and I got, like, forced to both times,” said Huang’s brother, who described the two as “pretty close, I guess.”

The band has yet to decide a show date, though the Huang-Spaid duo performed at Red Rock Cafe earlier this month.

This isn’t Huang’s first time in a band either. During her freshman year, she was a part of “salty and the pretzels,” with Chien, Shortland, Cade Maw and Emma Burtin, and she’s even played the snare drum for a season of marching band.

“[Being in ‘salty and the pretzels’] was so fun because I believe for most of us, it was our first time performing and going through all that kind of stuff as a band,” Shortland said.

Shortland said music is a big part of her friendship with Huang; even when the two aren’t playing together, they’re always giving each other music recommendations. 

Huang (left) plays the guitar while performing at Red Rock Cafe with salty and the pretzels. (courtesy Rosie Shortland)

When Huang isn’t playing music, or listening to it, you’ll find her running around the school between drama performances and sports games — all with a camera in hand, of course.

Huang only began photography in her junior year, but it’s something that she quickly picked up. Chow said he often lends Huang camera lenses, and though she’ll frequently go weeks or even months before returning the equipment, he just can’t be mad when he sees the final products. 

“[They’re] just like really inspiring, astonishing shots [and] I’m like, ‘Wow, I saw you go from not really knowing how to operate the camera to change the settings and always shooting in auto to, really making the form your own,’” Chow said.

Huang takes photos of an abortion rights rally in June 2022. (Naina Srivastava)

Huang’s distinct style doesn’t just stop at photography; though she very well goes to a public high school, she’s got somewhat of a uniform of her own.

“[Her style has] been ridiculously consistent this entire year,” Date said. “I have no idea how it’s just the same. I can always count on Allison wearing the black shirt or that gray ‘The Killers’ hoodie with black shorts or blue shorts. It’s a constant. It doesn’t change. It’s incredible. Amazing. I don’t know how she does it.”

Huang’s brother said Huang used to be a “huge tomboy,” and only began wearing a ponytail in sixth grade.

The back of middle-school Huang’s head; this photo was Huang’s Google profile picture for the longest time. (Allison Huang)

Huang recently got a haircut though, which, unfortunately, means the temporary death of her iconic ponytail. And she seems to be branching out a little lately, because she’s been making some more additions. 

“She got her nails painted and that was different,” Huang’s brother said. “Yeah, it’s like, black. It looks bad.”

Huang admitted she was pretty unsure about the nail polish, but atop her fresh ‘do lies a new staple in her closet: her completely monochrome charcoal gray USC cap, a signifier of Huang’s future college. When asked how he felt about Huang moving, Huang’s brother was pretty blunt.

“I think it’s fine because she’s kind of close,” he said. “She’s not going to Pittsburgh, so she’s not as far. And then also it doesn’t really change anything because she’s never at home anyway.”

Huang’s brother will presumably miss the tacos Huang always brings back for him, though — even if he said he thinks the tacos are a phase. 

Her brother also noted that he thinks Huang will “buy a lot of food” and “try being more social” in college. But really, it seems like Huang will have no trouble making friends wherever she goes. 

“She’s just such a genuine person and it’s so great to be around her,” Ragnartz said. “I think she makes everybody feel like their best selves.”

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