Note: The following work outlines my work and analysis made when interacting with diverse sources, the organization of information, the emitting of first person, and the construction of a strong and factual argument.
"Nominations made, votes tallied and Teacher of the Year awarded -- a feature article" (Published in the January 9, 2017 issue of El Vaquero)
About: Every year, our school faculty casts votes upon who they deem most worthy of the 'Teacher of the Year' title. As a feature story highlighting the achievements of a well-known teacher at Irvine High School, I remained cautious of editorializing and strayed away from the implementation of my personal opinions.
Nominations were submitted, votes tallied and two educators selected as 2016 Irvine High Site Teachers of the Year. This year, it was English teacher Morgan Rosser’s turn.
“It is an honor to be recognized amongst so many qualified teachers,” Rosser said. “I was both surprised and humbled by the award–I never expected it!”
To qualify, Irvine High teachers must be employed full-time, exemplify National Teaching Standards and not have received the award in the last 10 years. Colleagues interested in nominating a co-worker must submit a recommendation, limited to 250 words. Nominations are then submitted to Irvine Teacher Association site representatives who oversee the selection process. Teachers then voted for two of this year’s 11 nominees. Recipients were announced at the faculty luncheon Dec. 15.
“Teaching was appealing to me because I liked the idea of being in an environment with young people since they are still growing and I want to help shape their lives,” Rosser said. “I love that no two days are the same in the teaching world.” Inspired by her husband and brother, both of whom are also educators, she pursued a teaching career after receiving her bachelor's degree in English Composition and getting her teaching credential. Rosser has taught a variety of classes in her 11 years at Irvine High–everything from ninth grade English Composition and Literature to sophomore World Literature to freshman Honors American Literature and to junior American Literature. She also serves as co-department chair and a PLC facilitator coach.
“[Rosser] is more than just a teacher–students can always count on her for help both in and out of the classroom,” sophomore World Literature student Cindy Truong said. “She takes the time to ensure her students understand the material and creates a positive and engaging classroom environment.”
All Irvine Unified School District educators who received the award for the 2016-2017 school year will be recognized at the Excellence in Teaching Awards Dinner on April 21st at the Irvine Marriott.
“This is an honor long overdue to someone who has given so much,” colleague and nominator Flip Larnard said. “[Rosser] is exceedingly gifted and highly deserving of the [Teacher of the Year] award.”
"The history of homecoming -- a news article"
(Published in the October 19, 2016 issue of El Vaquero)
About: There are few stories in the school newspaper that are published annually. Events such as graduation, formal and homecoming are often high-interest stories. However, by publishing such articles every year, it becomes repetitive and not as informative. That is why when I was assigned to write this story, I decided to go above and beyond the expected coverage by conducting multiple interviews to write about the unknown. Rather than informing our students on what is to come, I covered the history and past of homecoming.
Students wearing Hawaiian shirts and grass skirts filled AV Irvine last Saturday for the Homecoming dance.
For the second time in school history, Homecoming took place in the two-story, 25,000 square foot venue just blocks from Irvine Spectrum Center and Irvine Meadows Amphitheater. Dance attendance has increased since the 2015 location change from the Student Center. Although no longer free, many students supported the dance venue change.
“Despite Homecoming being a little pricier compared to other schools this year, I am adamant the cost of the tickets are worth the amazing venue,” freshman class president Haley Tran said. “Even though I just became a part of [the Associated Student Body (ASB)] a couple of weeks ago, I can already see all the hard work that went into organizing Homecoming.” Since the early 1900s, Homecoming games and dances gained popularity amongst colleges and high schools as an opportunity for alumni to reunite with friends and return to their alma maters.
“As IHS alumni reminisce, a sense of community is established,” activities director Flip Larnard said. “Homecoming serves not only just as a dance, but as a reunion and celebration of school spirit.”
Students interested in being on the Homecoming court submitted a packet which helped to monitor their involvement in school activities. The student body then voted on these nominations and the top five girls and five boys with the most votes were then given a spot on the Homecoming court. Of the 10 students on the Homecoming court, the one girl and boy with the most votes were crowned king and queen.
“The Homecoming court consists of students who show a certain level of participation in academics, athletics, extracurricular activities and more,” Larnard said. “The Homecoming king and queen are widely admired and respected by their peers.”
Preparation for the event began as early as last June when a poll of the student body was conducted and the Hawaiian theme selected. Since then, ASB prepped and planned for the dance before the school year even began.
“There is no way that one single person could pull off Homecoming. All of ASB works together to ensure everything goes smoothly,” senior and ASB president Reanna Abriam said. “We wouldn’t have been able to [plan Homecoming] without each other.”
"A modern twist on a Cinderella classic -- a front page news article" (Published in the March 26, 2017 issue of El Vaquero)
About: This was my first article that I was assigned to write for the front page of our newspaper. Given this honor, I was stoked to present my best efforts and work as it would be showcased front and center. Three days prior to our publication date however, I was struck with food poisoning and was left at home unable to attend school. That did not stop me from publishing this article and communicating with page editors and my adviser. Not even food poisoning can stop me from doing what I love.
A twist on a children’s classic, drama department’s rendition of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Cinderella” will run March 2-4 in the Theater.
“As a little girl, I loved to dress up as Cinderella and play pretend,” sophomore Grace Simmons, cast as Cinderella, said. “Acting is my escape and I love that this musical has a happy ending and portrays the importance of being kind to people.”
Unique for its collaboration among drama, choir, orchestra and dance departments, the musical involves over 80 students.
“I think we have very talented students in all the departments and strong performers in all the roles,” Chittenden said. “[The musical] proves to be very modern and will offer a fresh take on an old classic.”
Preparation on the script and costumes began last summer. Ensemble auditions, open to all students, were held in October with regular rehearsals beginning in November.
“'Cinderella' is a happy fairy tale and it’s fun to be a part of such a positive environment,” Simmons said. “I love being able to combine skills from my classical ballet, acting, singing and dancing trainings to play Cinderella.”
Others involved with the production include instrumental music director Bob Avzaradel, drama teacher and director Kyle Chittenden, student teacher Adrian Rangel and dance director Sheryl Sloate.
“I think what sets this musical apart from the other ones is the story of love and the message that anything is possible if you just believe,” senior Ryan Lee, who plays Prince Topher, said. “I’m excited about this musical because it is a fun and classic tale that everyone can enjoy.”
Different from Disney’s interpretation, viewers can expect alterations to a childhood classic. Tickets can be purchased at ihspa.booktix.com and range from $15-$18.
"Mission Munsell -- a feature article" (Published in the September 23, 2016 issue of El Vaquero)
About: I enjoyed writing this story the most because it was a feel-good humanitarian story. Similarly to reason for pursuing journalism, my main source in the story hoped to prove the good in the world.
Seventy days, 34 states and 11,500 miles – all by motorcycle.
Last summer, English teacher Steve Munsell set off on a mission – Mission Munsell to be exact – inspired by a classroom conversation. When asked whether they believed the world was predominantly good or bad, his students overwhelmingly chose the latter.
“[My students’] responses bothered me because the youths of this generation are supposed to be the ones with energy and the ones who want to change the world,” Munsell said. “I wanted to give them hope and show them kindness is out there.”
His journey began June 9, riding out of town with minimal provisions and a small amount of money. Students assisted with planning the trip. They helped create a website – ridingkind.org – where Munsell could update friends, family and students about his experiences on the road. He documented photos and blog posts throughout his trip on the website.
“As one student who initially viewed the world pessimistically, I was a little skeptical as to how Munsell could prove otherwise,” advisee and junior Keyla Suarez said. “When I heard about his experiences though, it gave me hope. I realized there must [still] be good in the world.”
A typical day for Munsell consisted mostly riding the highway, turning into a new town at dusk to have a bite to eat and then chat with the locals. A few days ahead of arrival, he would call an acquaintance or mutual friend who would then help him find a place to stay the night. At the crack of dawn, he would be on his way.
“I wasn’t sure what would come of this,” Munsell said. “I would roll into a city unaware of where I would sleep. People opened up their homes to me, a complete stranger, and made me feel right at home.”
One evening, while riding an empty road in New Hampshire, a lightning storm hit. Just as a lighting bolt cracked across the sky, he turned into a parking garage where he met a resident who befriended him until the storm cleared.
“The purpose of this trip was to give [my students] hope and to show them the world is much different than what they may see on the news,” Munsell said. “Kindness is found when you least expect it and I wanted to show people the endless kindness and beauty that exists in the world.”
As the adviser of the Pay It Forward Club, Munsell and members participate in community service projects to help spread the concept of kindness.
“[Pay It Forward] wants to show it doesn’t take much effort to help improve our community,” club president and senior Tammy Che said. “[Members] strive to be the kind of people that Mr. Munsell traveled around the United States to look for.”
"Aspiring professional athlete -- a sports article" (Not published but reviewed by Orange County Register journalist, Rich Hammond)
About: This sports story was done as an activity to duplicate how a press conference with other aggressive journalists would be. I found it difficult to find time to ask all the questions that I wished to ask the main source, however I enjoyed the competitive aspect when trying to be the first journalist to publish a breaking news story.
Both on and off the basketball court, Luke Meikle, age 22, applies his skills of communication, cooperation and leadership in the academic and athletic aspects of his life.
Raised in Tacoma, Washington, Meikle’s interest in basketball was initiated by his older brother, Zach Meikle. His brother’s interest in skateboarding, music and basketball, influenced the interests of Meikle as well.
“I have always played sports from a young age; I played for fun as a kid,” said Meikle. “As a kid you look up to your older siblings and try to mimic them without really knowing what you like at all.”
Meikle’s experience in sports ranged from playing soccer, baseball, football and tennis as a kid but it wasn’t until his attendance at Bellarmine Preparatory School when his passion for basketball really sparked.
“I really am passionate about basketball,” said Meikle. “It has held me through a lot of situations and exposed me to a lot of situations in my life.”
Subsequent to scholarship offers from Gonzaga University, about five hours from his hometown, Meikle spent only a year there before making the decision to transfer to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.
“As a school, Gonzaga didn’t seem like the right fit for me,” said Meikle. “It was a big choice for sure but [Cal Poly San Luis Obispo] seemed like a good area to come to.”
Now in his senior year at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Meikle’s training and work doesn’t stop even when school does. His team has classes at the university during summer for five weeks. Following a biology class and morning study hall sessions, Meikle works out and does training and conditioning. This 6-foot-9-inch power forward player hopes to get his degree in sports management, become a professional basketball player and have a family and kids while being financially stable he said.
“My dream has been to be a professional basketball player and I have been trying to pursue that,” said Meikle. “Money can’t buy you happiness but it can buy you a house for a family.”
Basketball has taught Meikle the value of teamwork, leadership and hard work he said. From watching National Collegiate Athletic Association tournaments as a kid, to playing on a high school and college basketball team and to competing in March Madness, Meikle’s passion for basketball is clear.
“You have to learn how to focus and speak for what you know is right and what you’ve been trained to do,” said Meikle. “If you want a goal and you set your mind to it, you can achieve it.”
"Chasing dreams -- a review and critique article" (Not published)
About: As a workshop assignment at the California Scholastic Press Association, students were asked to watch 'Chariots of Fire' and then compile their notes, opinions and outlook on the film into one cohesive story.
Inspired by a true story, “Chariots of Fire,” directed by Hugh Hudson and released in 1981, illustrates the internal conflicts that drive the external actions of two runners. This touching and inspiring film delineates the journey of two young men set out to compete in the 1924 Summer Olympics.
The internationally acclaimed oscar-winning drama set in the early 1900s, in the years following World War I, shows the character depth of Harold Abrahams (Ben Cross) and Eric Liddell (Ian Charleson) through clips of training, religious practices and even their love lives.
Actors Cross and Charleson developed the complexity of their characters, leaving viewers with the understanding that victory means nothing without sacrifice, God and integrity. Revolved around the idea of religious importance and faith, Liddell sets out to honor God and his Christian belief – even if that means missing his event at the Olympics to go to a Sunday service. Abrahams however, the son of a Jewish immigrant, views running as a weapon against anti semitism and ran to break stereotypes. The constant pressure for the men to improve their athletic abilities also lead to Liddell’s expectancy to be religious and Abrahams standard to be an elite. Although this film is over three decades old, the morals and trials are still relevant to today’s world.
The casting of Charleson and Cross are spot on. Their characters were emphasized through the actors’ abilities to show raw emotion as their roles were realistic and relatable to a wide variety of viewers regardless of one’s age, gender or interests. Although not everyone is a runner, other themes in the movie are understandable such as ambitions, purpose and spirit.
The running and training segments leading up to the film’s final scenes reflect similarly to the ones in the 1976 “Rocky” and 2010 “The Karate Kid.” The dramatic music overlapping the sweat-dripping, heart beating and jaw-dropping slow motion clips intensified the difficulties of the characters’ accomplishments. Throughout the film, I often had the urge to jump up and cheer or yell through the screen as though Liddell and Abrahams could hear me longing for them to succeed in their races.
Those interested in witnessing the maturing and drive of two young runners fighting not for personal or national glory, but for deeper acceptance and acknowledgment from God and society should watch this film. The film crew’s ability to intensify emotions, thus creating a large sense of anticipation for viewers, transformed a boring movie about running into an exhilarating film about reaching one’s ambitions for a higher calling.
"Armed professor killed -- a breaking news article" (Not published)
About: This was the hardest article I have ever written. As an assignment through the California Scholastic Press Association, students attended a mock press conference where actors played the role of judges, victims and suspects. All students were told to team up to write the story together, however I volunteered to work on my own. I did this because I wanted a challenge.
Chemistry professor and researcher Glenn Evan O’Conner, age 67, was shot and killed by San Luis Obispo police to defend themselves after his refusal to drop his gun at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo today said Police Chief Meghan Bobrowsky. Ambulances surrounded the campus, students embraced and worried faces scattered the school.
“I’d just walked into the science building when I saw people running and screaming. I figured I’d better get the heck out of there,” said sophomore and witness Kellen Browning. “Somebody told me Professor O'Conner was threatening people.” The armed suspect was first observed inside a campus building at 1:10 p.m., leading to a lockdown of the mathematics and science buildings. Subsequent to the escape of the witness, and a standoff between the suspect and a SWAT team, killing O’Conner, an injured woman was transported to the Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center at 1:45 p.m. said hospital assistant Lora Nelson.
“It was crazy! This guy was totally freaking out! He started waving a gun in the air,” said witness and junior Gwen Wu. “I saw blood pouring out of one girl’s head.”
O’Conner’s actions may be tied to previous outrages involved with his profession and co-workers. A personal injury lawsuit was filed in 2012 for the loss of his leg during a lab experiment that went wrong due to violated safety regulations. Additionally, a restraining order was filed on Aug. 8, 2014 by the chair of Cal Poly’s chemistry department, Bill Loving. “Dr. O'Conner repeatedly calls me and threatens physical harm if new equipment is not purchased for the lab,” said Loving. “Once, he said he'd blow up my home and kill my children.”
Due to these violated safety precautions, “the university was forced to take corrective action both times” said associate of CalOSHA.
Ongoing investigations will ensue said Bobrowsky.
"An unspoken smile -- a column piece" (Not published)
About: After returning from a trip to Cairo, Egypt, I was inspired and moved by one moment in particular. Such an event altered my perception and I wanted to share the story with others.
I did not speak her language, nor did I know her, but a 12-year-old girl’s words brought tears to my eyes. From that moment on, every action and decision I made was motivated by compassion. In a world full of competition, disagreements, and opposition, we often lose sight of the good that represses the bad, the hope that overpowers the fear, and the truth that counteracts the lies. If compassion was the compelling factor that catalyzed the world’s decisions and actions, greed would be replaced with kindness and hate with love.
Instead of touring the Nile river with my family on our visit to Egypt, I decided to spend my time volunteering at a children’s cancer hospital. As I sat on a chair far too small for my age, at a table too low to fit my knees under, I looked up to see a little girl with the biggest smile on her face as she showed me a painting she finished. As I admired her work, I told her it was beautiful and that her painting was worth a thousand words. She responded with a confused look on her face and spoke in a language foreign, yet familiar, to my ears – Arabic. I quickly caught on and drew pictures to communicate what I meant to say. By the end of my visit, after my broken Arabic and short sentences, the girl gave me the painting with a note attached. It read: “you showed me that love is a universal language. Your kindness was worth a thousand words.” This comment was a stepping stone for me in the spreading of kindness to those near and far from me in any language I could.
I shared this story with my family, and together we broadened my mission. As a result, I founded the club Paper Hearts and now over 150 students are collectively spreading love and warmth in the form of hand-written cards. I hoped for the same joy and appreciation emitted from the girl in Egypt to be radiated through the opening of a heartfelt letter all over the world. My goal was to acknowledge and appreciate hard-working citizens in my city, sick patients in hospitals, and underprivileged children in low-income areas. Depending on the recipients and the season, cards range from wishing the elderly “happy holidays,” to welcoming immigrants to their new home, and to thanking veterans for their services. We have written over 2,000 letters to individuals in three different countries within the past three years and will continue to do so. I entered the children’s cancer hospital that day with the intention of leaving a positive impact on the patients within. I exited with a bigger impact on myself and thus hope to be a similar entity of motivation to those around me to initiate an endless realm of kindness since it is the gift that keeps on giving.
Although kindness does not precipitate a fortune, nor will it change the world overnight, I am continually and intrinsically motivated to do so today, in order to create a better tomorrow. So while this issue of exchanging self-interested motivators with generosity cannot be solved with a formula or through science, it can be solved through the kindness of one’s heart.
Love and compassion is reciprocated. I look at the girl’s painting as a reminder of the humanity that drives forth society. My attention to her was worth 20 minutes, but her words to me were worth an eternity.