Volume 10 No. 1
Houston ISD teens covering Houston
Nov. 3, 2015
Student happy to be alive after carjacking By Cristian Oviedo DAVIS HIGH SCHOOL
Mayde Bonilla is a senior at Jefferson Davis High School. He has a stable job at a fast food restaurant and he owns a red convertible Ford Mustang 2000 - well he did. Bonilla drove home after a late night dinner with his manager a few weeks ago, but when he arrived home he ran into some trouble. He was carjacked and robbed at gunpoint right in front of his house. “I arrived at my house. I parked my car as usual. There were two guys that happened to be walking around my house,” Bonilla recalled. The two men attempted to get his attention. Bonilla lowered the driver’s window a bit to hear what they were saying. “They were trying to get to Fifth ward. I was trying to direct them where to go, but he kept repeating the question. I simply kept giving him the same directions.” Things took a turn for the worst when one of the two men looked around to see if the coast was clear, the other put a gun through Bonilla’s window and told him to get out. “His friend opened the passenger door as (the other man) was leaning against the door. He unlocked the door for his friend to go around. I tried turning on my car so I could get away but he caught my hand.” After that, one of the men came through Bonilla’s side, put a gun to his head and told him that he better not move. Things only got worse from there. “The guy who got in through the passenger side started going through my car. He was checking my pockets to see if I had any money. The guy who had the gun got me out my car, threw me on the ground, told me to stay on the ground, and told me if you do anything ‘I’m gonna shoot you.’” Bonilla said. Luckily, Bonilla did not have any
money but he did have his phone. The two thieves took it while he was on the line with his girlfriend. Then the two men got aggressive. Bonilla did not want to risk his life over material possessions so he let them take what they wanted. They then got in the car and drove off. “When I saw the coast was clear, I ran to the back of my house and got in through my mom’s door. I told my mother, Please call the cops I was just robbed.” The police took around 15 minutes to show up. They asked Bonilla their routine questions and filed a report. “A few days later, we got a letter through the mail saying that they found my vehicle, but it was from a wreckage company. It turns out that my vehicle was involved in an accident. I went to go see it and the whole right side of my vehicle was just side swiped, just completely totaled.” There were some good and bad that came from his car being found. The good news was that Bonilla’s valuables were still in the wrecked car, including his phone. The bad was that Bonilla no longer has a car, making it difficult for him to commute. “I explained to my manager that I need my hours cut earlier so I can leave earlier.” This situation has changed Bonilla’s way of thinking. “Reality hit me. Now I’m very aware of my surroundings. I do not drive at night, but when I do I make sure I’m on the phone with someone. Bonilla hopes to get his concealed handgun license when he turns 21. “I feel like if I had a weapon for my personal defense, things would’ve turned out different. They might have been scared off or ran. I still would’ve had my vehicle.”
Photo by Cristian Oviedo
Mayde Bonilla had just returned home from work when he was carjacked in his driveway. Robbers took his car but did not harm the Davis High School senior.
Drivers take extra measures to ensure student’s safety By Alexis Medrano DAVIS HIGH SCHOOL
Photo by Alexis Medrano
Many HISD buses are still not equipped with seatbelts
Furr High School principal celebrates 54 years in education. Page 7
Every year school buses carry some 24 million students and collectively travel more than 4 billion miles. Considering how many kids the buses carry and the distance they cover, deaths on the road are extremely rare. School buses have a rate of 0.2 deaths per 100 million miles traveled. The rate of deaths in automobiles is eight times higher. On September 16, HISD students Janecia Chatman and Mariya Johnson tragically lost their lives
when their school bus crashed off the 610 South Loop while heading to Furr High School. The driver of the bus Louisa Pacheco along with students Brandon and Lakeshia Williams were taken to the hospital due to injuries. On October 29, a bus carrying students from Crespo Elementary was heading back from a field trip and was involved in a crash when another vehicle struck the bus from behind. No students were hurt in that incident.
Fall Fashion Forecast Page 8
Yet another accident occurred on November 2 when an HISD bus transporting elementary students to a field trip. Two students were taken to the hospital as precautionary measures, but no major injuries. Many questioned whether or not HISD was doing enough to ensure students’ safety. One major issue with school buses is their lack of seatbelts. HISD transports more than 34,000 students on a daily basis; however, Safety continues on pg. 5
Milby awaits new building in hopes of returning to the sports dynasty it once was Page 10
Dress codes limits self expression Almost no public school issue brings more tension between staff and students than the topic of dress code. Recently, dress-code regulations on what students can wear have come under fire due to claims that they sexualize and target the Ella Robertson female stuCLEAR dent popHORIZONS ulation, as well as limit the self-expression of pupils. In school districts throughout Texas, the issue continues to be controversial in nature. Personally, I hold conflicting feelings regarding dress code. On one hand, I recognize that students and staff would be offended if they saw revealing body parts while they were expecting their peers to show up with a professional appearance. Despite this, my overarching belief regarding student dress code present in high schools is that they are regulated in an overly strict manner and consequently sexualize female students. Take the recent case of the girl in Kentucky that was sent home for showing her collarbones nothing was visible. However, the staff felt that her clothes were so inappropriate for a school environment that they sent her home for the remainder of the day. In essence, the school felt her collarbones were scandalous to the extent that they denied her the ability to attend classes and receive an education - ridiculous! I have never been punished for breaking dress code. Some of my outfits have definitely tested the limits, but for the most part, I wear jeans and long sleeved shirts. As a consequence, I sweat like a pig from the Texas heat when walking between classes. Although I have never been punished, I have noticed that everyone at my school who has been reprimanded for what they wear have been female. For the most part, those who break the dress code do not have the intentions of being “sexy” and do not wish to distract anyone from their education; they are simply trying to don comfortable clothing or dress according to the weather. In the college classes I attend, I have seen girls wearing shorts, tank tops and have bright-colored hair or piercings. Despite what school districts may think, it has been possible for me to look past those things and receive an education. I recognize schools will keep implementing dress code in some form, but I review the regulations in order for the female student population to be treated more equal.
In the end, love wins Destini Pettus WESTSIDE HIGH SCHOOL
The resounding cry of victory that echoed world-wide following the historic events on June 26th, 2015. The LGBT community finally gained the basic human rights of same-sex marriage in all 50 states following the Supreme Court ruling over the Obergefell v. Hodges case. But what many do not realize is that the fight is far from over. Wars are never resolved after the victory of the first battle. It takes months or even years of victory in order to emerge fully victorious and the LGBT community has already regrouped and donned their rainbow armor. However, the focus of the community has now shifted to the youth. Discrimination against LGBT teens in classroom settings, by peers and faculty alike, has failed to decrease over the year despite gained rights and world-wide awareness campaigns. In a school-based survey given in Massachusetts, LGBT Teens scored significantly higher on the scale of depressive symptomology and were far more likely to turn to suicidal thoughts and self-harm. The problems these teens face are frighteningly real and the non-LGBT members of America prefer to remain in denial that the treatment received by teens is inhumane. A staggering 40 percent of all homeless youth identify as LGBT and if this path continues, the numbers will only increase. The biggest denial by Americans is that this is not
occurring in our own backyards. It can be comforting to pretend that the issues presented online and in papers are isolated events but they are very much real. Every day, a Houston teen is bullied and denied basic human rights because of who they are or what they identify themselves as. At Lamer High School, a teacher refused to address a student by their preferred pronoun. At Westside High School, due to thinly veiled discrimination, a student was denied the right to run for homecoming king, despite having the most nominations. In fact, according to bullystatistics.com,, 9 out of 10 LGBT teens have reported being bullied at school within the past year due to sexual orientation. These problems exist not only world-wide, but in our communities and neighborhoods. If the LGBT Youth continues to be persecuted for who they are, then as a society we have not grown from the segregation of the 1950s. If we do not open our eyes and join the battle for the LGBT youth, then we might as well hang “Gay Only” signs on our water fountains because we are back where we first began.
Editors in Chief Alexis Medrano Destini Pettus Web Editors Lorenzo Moore Juan Palomo Graphics Daniel Vango Staff Simone Collins Ashlynn Dupree Cassandra Gonzalez Yaneth Gutierrez Des’jea Henderson Cristian Oviedo Lorena Reyes Ella Robertson Kayla Sturdevant Liana Wang Bryce Vann Callie Wariner Adviser Cynthia P. Smith Website www.chronicleclassroom.com
An invitation that changed my life Daniel Vango
LEE HIGH SCHOOL I’ve always found myself I wrote about it and expressed staring into space — crafting myself through dark rhymes a master plan on how I could and ominous wordplay. I did impact the world. Then one day the same when I was feeling I found it, but in came in a form joy or excitement. I was able to of an unexpected invitation. write things to a level that when The journey began when I I expressed it in front of people, received an invitation to join I noticed an instant connection. a creative From then “Joining the writing club on, I was writing club that opened many doors for me determined focuses to become a and allowed me to grow better lyricist on writing raps. as a writer. My vocabulary and in order At first I do that, it manifested to a degree that to was very meant I had reluctant wouldn’t have been achieved to read more to join if I had denied that invita- and write the club more. That tion.” because resulted in I wasn’t me focusing confident intensely in Daniel Vango in my all my English writing classes. My skills and English. Additionally, determination and consistency being an immigrant from South paid off for the past six years Sudan without the same expoas an artist because I currently sure to the English language as have the pleasure of hosting many of my peers, meant more workshops that teach children stress if I was to join - simply and teenagers the art and hisbecause I was afraid my writing tory of Hip Hop. The workwould not be adequate. shops also focus on teaching Although I wanted to refuse them how to write raps that are the invite, something told me to not just based on materialistic go for it and see it as an opporthings, but about what they go tunity to grow, so I did and through on a daily basis or what haven’t regretted that decision. they see in their community. Joining the writing club During the workshops, everyopened many doors for me and one is given a chance to rap allowed me to grow as a writwhat they wrote and then er - my vocabulary manifested receive feedback. The fact that to a degree that wouldn’t have I am playing a role in helping been achieved if I had denied them break out of their shells is that invitation. I was also able rewarding. to learn how to become a deep Aside from the workshops, thinker and use profound dicI do live performances around tion properly which played a the city. My goal is to reach major role in how I expressed the audience through my words myself and spoke on a daily and show them that rap music basis. can actually benefit people and I was so passionate about it doesn’t have to be all about writing raps that I would start money, drugs and violence. finding myself writing songs I plan on seeing where it whenever I got the chance to leads me as a writer because write — whether I was on the now I have the opportunity to soccer field, in class as soon as reach more people as a student I finish my work and before I journalist and invite them into went to bed. a world many perceive as negEvery time I held a writing ative. utensil and started writing, my The next invite you receive, emotions were directed at my think twice before saying no… pad, and my diction reflected just saying. how I was feeling at the moment. To check out my music and Thus, instead of resorting to videos go to www.youtube. violence when I was enraged, com/DoubleDve
Houstonians react to Paris terror attack ByLorenzo Moore WESTBURY HIGH SCHOOL
“I felt bad, because these people thought that it would be a normal day, and it just all went bad. It makes me see how exposed and vulnerable we are - you know they talk about security a lot but terrorist always find a way. There’s not a lot any government can do to prevent this. It has to do more with humankind changing their morals.” -Sophia Reyes
“When I received the information about what had happened in Paris, I was shocked to see what someone would do not to just one person but to a whole group of people, which they methodically thought and planned out what they wanted to do. As human beings, for an individual to think that way, they really don’t have empathy or sympathy to care about a person living.” -Rodney Castille
“I wasn’t surprised, these type of things will happen every now and again, in regards to terrorism, you can’t completely stop it. Obviously it was just horrific what happened. They want to spread fear and they want us to change our way of life. The first reaction of course is horror and the second reaction of course is what can we do to try to prevent these things from happening. Now in the U.S. there’s different circumstances. I don’t agree with what Greg Abbott has put into place in Texas, I don’t think that we should close our borders because that goes against everything this country stands for. We shouldn’t shut out people that are in need.”-Ed Robertson
Preparing your family during cancer battle can be tough By Alexis Medrano DAVIS HIGH SCHOOL
Like most women, Bobbie Rodriguez begins each day routinely. Her life revolves around her family and providing for them. However five years ago that wasn’t always the case. Rodriguez was diagnosed with breast cancer. As she recalls the events, she remembers the pain, heartache and frustration that came out of the long difficult journey. “I was asleep and felt a sting in my armpit. It was hurting me really bad and then I noticed there was a lump.” That was the first warning sign which led to something far more than she expected. “It was shocking because I didn’t think it could it happen to me. “My husband,at the time, was the first person I called.” Rodriguez, mother of three, had a difficult time explaining it to her children who were 22, 15 and 9. Confused and filled with heartache, she reluctantly told her children of the times that were ahead for the family. “My oldest started crying, my younger two children didn’t understand. I told them that ‘mom was going to be sick.’ My son was nine at the time and I didn’t want him to grow up without a mother. My daughter recently had a baby, and I was afraid I wasn’t going to be there for her.” That made her mission even more difficult. She underwent five years of chemotherapy. In the beginning, doubt crept in, she said.
“I experienced hair loss, fingernail loss, bruising, vomiting, numbness, I couldn’t taste my food and felt pins and needles throughout my body,” the 46 year old said. To make matters worse, hercancer began to grow, which put her under even more stress. “I thought I was going to die,” she said, “No one could console me, I became very depressed. It felt like I was drowning and I couldn’t do anything.” Despite her struggle to even get up in the morning, Rodriguez still went to work and still took on her household responsibilities. “I work at a law firm in downtown. Some co-workers were compassionate, others weren’t. A lot of them were helpful and gave me gifts. They would give my kids gift cards, so if I couldn’t feed them or take care of them, they could get something for themselves. Times were tough.” Finally after 12 rounds of her first chemotheraphy treatment and four rounds of her second treatment, Rodriguez underwent a lumpectomy to remove her cancer. A week later on December 9, 2010 Rodriguez received the news that she was cancer free. “I started to cry and prayed and prayed. I was extremely ecstatic.” As she looks back on the past, she cautions anyone preparing to take this journey to keep in mind the obstacles ahead. “I would advise anyone going through this, to go with eyes opened because this is a horrific journey,” Rodriguez said. “It’s 10 times worse than the flu. Prepare your family for this ride.”
HISD students work on a project while waiting outside for the bus. Photo by Juan Palomo
Last group of HISD on deck to receive laptops By Lorena Reyes FURR HIGH SCHOOL
The world is changing and adapting to the evolving ways of technology. In 2013, HISD began a program called “Power Up,” designed to provide students with laptops. By the beginning of 2016, all students will be powered up. “Power Up” is a district wide movement aiming to revamp the ways of learning and teaching. ”Power Up for the kids brings them into the 21st century,” International IT representative of Furr High School Tracey Clark said. In response to concerns from teachers within the district, HISD has set in place extensive precautionary measures to avoid many possible issues with students. Furr High School, along with seven other HISD schools, are in the final group to receive laptops. Furr, at least, plans to provide each classroom with Internet access points that allows up to 50 computers and two access points in the larger classrooms and public areas.
School officials have also invested in power strips for each classroom so that the battery power will not be an issue. For students who are not able to access Internet outside of school, HISD is partnering up with businesses and local organizations so they will have a way to gain Internet connection. For student Alexis Medrano, it has been increasingly difficult not having wi-fi use at home. “It’s great they give us laptops but with me not having wifi at home, it doesn’t benefit me,” she said. “It’s extremely difficult. It is frustrating to have to either stay behind at school or the library late or go to school early. I have to find ways to access the Internet which is a constant struggle. I have to explain to my teachers that I don’t have Internet at home and most of the time they are understanding. However there are teachers who tell me to figure it out and that just makes the workload harder.” Another student, Leo Doss, said Power Up has served as a benefit to him. “It has given me access to tools and technology that were
previously unaccessible to me and/or hard to come by with my socio-economic status and without a proximity to a public library,’’ the HAIS senior said. Clark said she is looking forward to the school’s launching of “Power Up.” “You’ll be able to ask questions instantaneously,” she said. “If there is research to be done, it is in your hand right now. No more waiting.”
Theatre Professor South Campus 281-998-6150 x 4695
Kevin.Holden@sjcd.edu Support San Jac Theatre 2015-2016
Senior fears go away By Kayla Sturdevant and Ella Robertson, CLEAR HORIZON
Every kid dreams of the day they finally reach their final year of high school; that is, until they actually become seniors and are forced to face mountains of pressure and responsibility. “My fear for senior year is the overwhelming sense of graduating,” senior Angela Cortez explains. “What if I’m not ready for college compared to my peers in higher performing schools?”
The future can frighten some, but other students look forward to the possibilities that lie ahead. “I actually like really, really, really want to get like a real job because I’ll be the first one in my family in forever. But I don’t know how to pay taxes,” Timothy Escalante, student at Clear Horizons Early College High School said. In addition to taking on adult responsibilities, the stress of
college lurks in the minds of many seniors. “Senior year is the year to prepare for the real world,” Emely Jacabo said. “But honestly I’m scared of going putting myself in the challenge of being alone in the real world. Where am I going to get all that money for college? What am I going to do after high school?” College doesn’t need to carry the negative connotation that it does with most high school students. In fact, attending a university might bring just what some students need. “I love this state but I need to explore other places,” Leah Hirtriter says. “I really hope to get into my dream college so that it will be possible.” Hirtriter said her dream school, located in North Carolina, will definitely help her in that area. However, other students aren’t as moti-
vated by goals and find themselves dragging as the year goes on. “My fear for senior year is slacking off way too much because I know that it’s my last year and I am ready to be over with,” Regina Hernandez said. Students’ comments display common themes of stress, uncertainty and fears that seniors face; however, one high school counselor urge students to think positive. A counselor from Clear Horizons, Rhonwyn Pattison, weighs in on how she helps students with stress. “Stop the negative self-talk! Anxiety about the future can be paralyzing,” Rhonwyn Pattison said. “Replace those thoughts with positive comebacks. For example replace the statement, ‘I am not going to get into a college! I’m in the fourth quarter of the class,’ with, ‘I have worked
very hard in high school and there is a college for me!’” High school, many say, should be a closing of childhood and the opening of a new chapter in life. “Make it memorable,” Pattison said.
Overalls bring school spirit to Bellaire
Artist Jon Garner prepares reindeer for Rice Village Shopping Center.
Local artist brings holiday cheer to Rice Village
By Liana Wang BELLAIRE HIGH SCHOOL
No one is entirely sure when the tradition started, but the decoration and wearing of ‘senior overalls’ has carried on at Bellaire High School over the years. On game days, during Spirit week, and sometimes just for fun, senior girls and occasionally guys will proudly sport their denim. Denim…and felt, fabrics, glitter – just anything that pops in red and white. The decoration of senior overalls itself are a quintessential part of the process. There is no competition about who sports the coolest one – making overalls together is a way for senior friends to bond and share a sense of pride in their class. With that in mind, a few of my friends and I gathered at one girl’s house on a free afternoon. We’d each brought a few supplies – puff paint, random glittery dots and scraps of different red-and-white fabrics. Ribbons, lace and even a feather boa were added to our pile. Everyone present immediately admired a notable piece of cat-patterned cloth. We’d brought our overalls, the cheapest we could find and not surprising, many of us had purchased ours at the same place. Over the next few hours, we snipped fabrics and traced out patterns for letters and numbers, drew cardinals and struggled with fabric glue that dripped on the floor and even somehow got into our hair.
The sharing is open, with each person dabbing in each other’s supplies. The project had everyone talking: “Art is collaborative and when you are working with other people, the project becomes a collaborative thing,” senior Mitra Mirpour noted. The funny thing, even though we borrowed from each, we all managed to make unique overalls. Being able to relax among friends and create something – even if we were only going to wear that creation a limited number of times – felt soothing and relaxing before we dove back into the frenzy of school and work. When we arrived at school on the first overall day with our creations, it felt fun and gave us all a sense of pride in getting to our last year of high school. Around school, it was interesting to see the varying designs different groups of seniors had come up with – from wacky to creative, bold to subtle. Senior overalls, while a seemingly trivial tradition, cement friendships and bonds and provide a smile and a spark of energy for an otherwise often busy year where seniors deal with college applications. I hope the tradition continues...
By Cassandra Gonzalez Lara MADISON HIGH SCHOOL
Jon Garner, one of many local artists who enhance Houston with their artwork, is now working on a holiday project for Houston’s Rice Village shopping center. He will build five 7x5 ft. fiber glass deers throughout the market. Known by both Houstonians and celebrities such as Erykah Badu, Chad Michael Murray and Alfonso Ribeiro, Garner, 39, strikes art lovers’ attention with his “out-of-the-box” artwork. Not only are his canvases made out of old Texas wood, his artwork features a creative way of illustrating pop culture icons - no artist has ever done that, he said. This is exactly what makes his work so intriguing to the public. But why use wood? “I always knew there was a good value in wood. When doing art projects, I came across it. I’m in to recycling,” Garner explained. Even though most of his notable artwork is painted over floor wood, Garner’s canvas varies as he is open to new ideas when deciding what materials to use. “I like to think outside the box, not just doing typical street art or just using the same old
spray paint and ink on wood or concrete…I want to give my collectors something that is sustainable over time,” he said. When coming up with designs for the paintings, Garner prefers to use examples of icons like: Star Wars, The Beatles, Daft Punk, Marble characters, cartoon characters and many others. “Doing pop culture is something fun, like TV, movies, things from the 80’s and 90’s; something that looks nostalgic with the wood.” Born in a family of artists, Garner’s talent as an artist was discovered at a young age. Despite being diagnosed with dyslexia, his artistic talent was recognized by those around him. As his talent continued to develop, a National Art Foundation granted him with an art scholarship to attend college - 2,500 students competed.
During his time in college,Garner met the practice of street art on his travels to both New York City and Los Angeles. “It’s a fun process to do street art. It’s interesting to see how I started as a young (boy) - going to put things around town and trying to be cool just like the other kids,” Garner said. During his travels, Garner worked projects for brands like NASA, Fashion Week NYC, Dow Chemical, Spec’s Liquor and Free Press Houston Summer Fest. Garner’s artwork has been recognized by well-known artists and passing-by travelers. “It blows my mind whenever celebrities and people that I know...for them to notice my work and say ‘I want to have this in my house,’ it inspires me,” Garner said.
5 More students taking AP Exams By Cristian Oviedo DAVIS HIGH SCHOOL
The number of students taking advanced placement classes has more than doubled in the last decade. Numbers in Houston ISD reflect the same story. The Advanced Placement Program also known as AP, has been run by the College Board association since 1955 and is a program that allows students to earn college credit for a variety of subjects while in high school by passing an AP exam at the end of the school year. Students prepare for the exam by enrolling in that subject’s AP class, whose sole purpose is to get the student ready to pass the exam. According to Davis High School college advisor Alex Adams, many students are opting to take advanced placement classes because of the challenge it presents. “I would say that they prepare students for college moreso than a regular class. The goal of an AP class is to reflect a college-like rigor in high school. I can always tell that there’s a little more challenge in the curriculum. In the AP classes typically there’s a fewer number of students,” Adams said. As it stands now, many students feel as though the regular curriculum offered by the Houston Independent School District does not present the challenge or mental stimulation that they are looking for which could explain the rise in AP enrollment. “I felt as though they were too easy, nobody would try. They would tell us to write definitions of words. I didn’t think that was work. I was only in regular classes for my first (sophomore) week then I got transferred. I saw a difference. It seemed like they (students) cared more about school and stuff. They were more serious and they respected the teacher,” Davis senior Carolina Espinoza said. Disciplinary issues are also said to appear more frequent in regular classes as opposed to advanced classes because of some stu-
dents feeling as though they are simply too mature for school. “What 18 or 19 year old adult wants another adult to tell them what to do, if they are not earning a paycheck? They even have to ask to use the restroom. How elementary school is that,” Westside High School teacher Debra Savage said. Students in regular classes may also turn to advanced classes because of their peers’ actions. Their peers may be what push them to want to achieve higher goals. “In regular classes, the students have not yet been convinced that education is valuable. So there are many students who act out because they almost feel as though they’re doing the school a favor by coming and sitting in class,” Davis teacher Maat Andrews said. AP classes offer two main benefits, an extra 10 points on the grading scale which translates into one extra GPA point and the opportunity to earn college credit. However,
students often have trouble balancing the workload because of how fast the curriculum moves. “More homework on top of more homework... If you fell behind a chapter it was like you were a week behind and you didn’t know what was going on in class. It was like you were teaching yourself a little more. You got to put time into it. I definitely think it’s worth it,” senior Gilbert Garza said. “That 10 point difference is always great, especially with your GPA. I mean in the end, colleges are going to look at that. Two letters make a big difference.” Nevertheless, even though most students want the benefits of AP classes, not all students are prepared for the advanced placement curriculum. That’s why Davis Assistant Principal Cassandra Saddler believes students who want to be successful in the AP program must exhibit certain qualities such as the desire to learn.
“Not only do you graduate with a high school diploma but you also can walk into a junior college with college credits. That should be afforded to anybody that wants to take up that opportunity. The student has to be a more independent student that wants to study, because you have to be able to go and have some intrinsic skills on your own. You have to want to go in and do the work and go and study. For the most part you have to bring some skills to the table. You can’t go into an AP class and not study and not expect to have homework - not expect to do some extra,” she said. Advanced classes are said to be just that, advanced. But it doesn’t mean that a solid education can’t be found in a regular class. “There are a lot of students in non-AP courses that are very hard working. There’s a lot of times where there are kids that are in like 90 percent AP classes and they just have that one regular class to balance out their course work load,” Adams said.
FROM THE COVER
Yates principal says challenges Students say drivers being more cautious should be the focus are part of the job Safety from page 1
By Bryce Vann JACK YATES HIGH SCHOOL
Settling into his new role as Yates High School principal, Kenneth Davis is faced with a plethora of challenges. Perhaps his biggest challenge is playing referee between the students and staff. Davis says he takes it all in stride, “I volunteered to be the principal, probably in early June when I found out that some students didn’t have consistency in terms of leadership on the campus, administration, etc. I wanted to try and help if I could,” Davis said. “I’ve worked with children my whole life. From middle school to high school is a big transition; however, kids are kids and are expected to stay in that place.” Senior Rebecca Williams said she understands the way students felt but admits it
Yates principal Kenneth Davis talks to student Amber Wright. Photo by Bryce Vann
could have been easily avoided with proper communication. “The students were territorial but the teachers were real strict and over the top. I feel that they could do better. There are always solutions,” Williams said. “Not to point fingers, but students also need to learn discipline. The ideal student and teacher bond is to motivate each other.” Yates A/V teacher Tyrone Dargins said many of the problems stem from students transition to high school from middle school. “They weren’t taught high school life,” Dargins said. “The job of the student is to gather the most information as possible in order to move forward in life. “I have been proactive and have been a positive role model for the young men and women,” he added. Principal Davis said he plans on being pro student. “I think as adults we never really admit to a child that we are wrong,” he said. “We build up this wall against the students and shut them down and that’s what creates this sort of boundary level in between the two. “I do believe that we have disciplinary problems but in order for that to stop, the issue has to stop with the adults,” Davis added. “We all make up Yates and a team cannot function without all of the players not doing their part.
only less than half of the school buses have seat belts. Some bus drivers argue that seatbelts are not going to make buses less dangerous. Missy Lindsay who has been driving with HISD for two years argue that seatbelts won’t change a thing. “The Department of Transpiration doesn’t enforce wearing seatbelts so how can the bus drivers possibly force students to wear seatbelts,” Lindsay said.”It would be a headache and add more responsibilities on the bus drivers.” However, HISD reported this week that any new school bus it buys will have three-point seat belts, complying with a new federal recommendation that comes two months after the fatal crash.
“School buses are already one of the safest modes of transportation available to students,” Superintendent Terry Grier said in a press release. “If the NHTSA believes three-point seatbelts will make our students even safer, we will absolutely act on it.” Barbara Lotts, a bus driver with 18 years experience, also agrees that adding seatbelts won’t increase the bus’ safety. “Sometimes kids use the seat buckles to fight with other kids and bully them. If the bus were to get into an accident, students could become stuck if they had their seatbelts on,” she said. HISD senior Ana Hernandez, who rides the school bus daily, agrees she’s not worried about seatbelts or getting into accidents while on the bus. “In a way it’s kind of scary to know that all these accidents are going on and that the bus I ride could get into an accident. But I do feel comfortable riding the school bus because if it happens there is nothing I can do about it. I guess you could say it was meant to happen,” said Hernandez. “My driver drives her best.” However there are people who disagree and think buses should have seatbelts for the safety of the students on board. HISD did not say how many new buses it planned to buy or a timeline for purchases. Drivers say the recent accidents have made them become more cautious when transporting students. “I am more aware. I know who’s on the side Two students died and two others were hurt along with their bus driver Sept. 15 when a col- of me. I’m constantly checking my mirrors to lision caused a school bus to plunge from Loop see what’s going on at all times,” Lindsay said. 610 in southeast Houston. Steve Gonzalez/Chronicle
After 54 years, Simmons still has work to be done By Yaneth Gutierrez FURR HIGH SCHOOL
She can be described as the energizer bunny. She keeps going and going and going - 54 years and counting to be exact. Dr. Bertie Simmons has been the face of Furr High School since about 2000. Many say she has the same spirit now as she had back then. The question most want to know - how does she do it? “Seeing students make progress, learning and becoming better human beings - that makes me want to get up and come to work every morning,” Simmons said. “The thing that keeps me in the game is that there are students here who need somebody to care about their education and to help them reach their potential. The reason I keep coming back to this school is because I want to make a difference in the lives of the students here. I want this place and I want the students to be better off because I was here.” Being at the helm came with multiple challenges, but none as great as the recent HISD bus crash that killed two of Simmons’ students and critically injured two other students. It tested her leadership once again. “She (held) a ceremony for the two girls and told how special they were. She acted like a mother, a mother that cares for her children no matter how good or bad, she loved them,” Furr Junior Milburgo Mora said. “She acted like a leader and accepted it. She didn’t let it hold her down nor the school. She actually cared.” When the news filtered across the nation, Simmons was the calming agent of her students and staff. “I always deal with a crisis with the welfare of the students in mind - like what can I do? I have to remain calm because if I panic, everybody else panics,” Simmons explained. “So I try to remain very calm and make decisions that are always in the best interest of the other people on the campus.” Aside from tragedies, Simmons is spearheading the construction of Furr’s new campus. “The building will be ready for occupancy in August 2017. Students can look forward to an absolutely gorgeous school that’s open and provide learning opportunities with different kinds of furniture,” Simmons said. “This new school is going to be just wonderful and the most beautiful school of any school being built in the school district. The archi-
“We have very little turnover at Furr as far as teachers are concerned. I just want to say I came here out of retirement and the kids keep begging me to come back. I’m 81 years old.”
tects listened when our people spoke about what we wanted. The school is not only going to be very functional but (it will) provide different kinds of learning activities for our school.” Sharon Brown, Title 1 coordinator, said Furr has improved tremendously under Simmons leadership. “In the late 90’s, many of our students were classified as ninth graders. Now grades 9-11 are more uniform and our graduation rate has increased tremendously under her leadership. Our
food services for students have improved greatly, students have more choices now than before,” Brown said. “We also experienced improvements in our existing building. We are in the process of building a new school. Our relationship with the community has also improved and we have several programs in place so that many of our community organizations contribute not only to out student learning but also to our parents-guardian learning opportunities.”
One of Simmons’ major accomplishment, Brown said, is making Furr a safe place to learn. “We had gangs on our campus; however, it’s hard to tell now. She has created a safe place for students to learn and for teachers. I would like to thank Dr. Simmons for her leadership in offering our students a worldclass education.” Simmons has no plans of stopping now. “Every year I say I’m going to retire but the students keep asking me to come back another year
and I keep coming back because of the joy I get from working with the students within this building who are so well behaved and are just very kind and gentle people. One student came by and said ‘Dr. Simmons thank you for helping me or thank you for being here.’ That’s all it takes and I grab the towel up again and wipe the sweat off my face and start over. “I want people in this school to remember me as an ethical, concerned, sincere, tireless human being, who helped make the world a better place for all people,” Simmons added. One thing Simmons want to do before retiring is decrease the number of tests students have to take. “I’m opposed to that. We spend far too much time testing students and not enough time giving them a voice to express themselves.”
“Before I retire, I would like to do something about the excessive number of tests that students are required to take because I’m opposed to that. We spend far too much time testing students and not enough time giving them a voice to express themselves. We need to find their passion to be developed.”
7 New Westbury school will put students under one roof By Lorenzo Moore WESTBURY HIGH SCHOOL
One-fourth of Westbury High School’s student population can be seen crossing the street daily to attend classes in temporary buildings. Bringing all students together under one roof is what’s fueling Westbury’s Project Advisory Team (PAT) committee to reach completion of the school’s bond project. “I look forward to all of us being in one building,” principal Susan Monaghan said. “I want the construction to be done and I hope that HISD is able to stick to the timeline of one year to complete the project.” The bond, a part of HISD’s 2012 rebuilding initiative, would provide all 2,400 students an opportunity learn in one space. On November 6, 2012, Houston voters approved a 1.89 billion dollar bond to rebuild 40 HISD schools, 29 of which were high schools. Westbury was included in the initiative and already has begun construction.
“The PAT is meeting their deadlines and everything is falling in place for the project,” PAT member Carolyn Clemmons said. “I’m very excited to see it all happen before my eyes and I’m even more excited to see what we have in store for students.” Westbury is one of the first schools pushing through to get their new addition built and eliminate the old building between campus. That seems to be causing problems with students, teachers and administration – predominantly in learning and communication. “There is no synchronization in learning between the learning process that we implement in the main building and those on the temporary campus,” teacher Cedric Williams said. “There are additional problems that make learning inefficient that is caused by a split communication process between the facilities. This results in a delay of information between campuses.” Moreso, freshman students are divided from their fellow classmates, some feeling overlooked.
“I don’t feel as if I’m part of the school’s population,” freshman Marco Mejia said. “Seven out of eight of my classes are here in the temporary buildings. I spend most of the day here and I have gym in the main building. If my classes were in the main building, I would not have to cross the streets in the elements to get to class.” The teachers have had problems with the poor conditions of the classrooms, leading to a difficult and even unsafe learning environment. “Teaching in the Ninth Grade Academy can be difficult mainly due to the air-conditioning being very loud,” freshman teacher Wade Griener said. “In Houston the air conditioning runs all the time so it can be difficult to be heard when teaching students. There were also issues with flooring over there. There have been a few times where teachers have fallen into holes in the temporary
building. This has, at times, made it dangerous for teachers and students.” Many teachers are hoping that the new schools also come with other educational improvements. “I’m hoping that the facilities will be more modern than what we have now, with more technology and classrooms that will be conducive to the technology,” Griener said. A new replacement building will fix these issues and hopefully call for a culture change all over campus between freshman and upperclassmen and teachers as well, many say.
“I don’t feel as if I’m part of the school’s population.”
Davis High School sees no money from 2012 bond
By Alexis Medrano DAVIS HIGH SCHOOL
Three years ago Davis High School was promised a new campus worth $45 million dollars. Jump to the year 2015, the 89-year-old building is still standing and is filled with broken hopes and dreams students and staff. As part of the 2012 HISD Bond Project, Davis was one of the 29 high schools that was promised a new campus. Davis’ students and staff put on a parade in order to get the community to vote for the bond project and were successful in the process. However three years later no construction has started. HISD bought property for the new campus that now sits empty and the building is falling apart. HISD has begun making some changes that many say is due to Facebook posts by a Davis teacher. AP English Language and Literature teacher Diane Morrow took to Facebook and expressed her frustration with HISD putting Davis on the back burner. “The problem is HISD is not going to rebuild the school and it was a complete shock. The bond
was passed and we were promised a new school,” said Morrow who wants HISD and all of Houston to understand the hurt Davis feels. Morrow explains what led to the post and her concerns for the school. “It was the restroom that bothered me a lot. The students deserve more. The school was moved to Cower stadium - before we had Delmar and the fields are in better in shape and were taken care of. Cower stadium is in horrible condition. The fields aren’t even marked and the refer-
ees can’t tell if the balls are in or out,” she said. Another teacher feels the frustration of the broken promises of the bond. Anna Bass is an art instructor and the swim coach at Davis. “Utter disappointment” is how she described her feelings. “It was sad to hear the news because when the bond was presented, it showed how the school would be built and they asked for the teachers input,” she said. “It feels like a slap in the face. I don’t undertand why we don’t get
a new school. Why was all the effort?” Bass explained how difficult it is for her swim team to practice when the pool keeps breaking down. “The district does minor repairs but it needs to be redone. The pool was built around the 1940’s and both the pool and the school are old,” she said. Even principal Dr. Julissa Alcanatar is disappointed and is extremely hurt she can’t provide for the students and school as promised.
“We started the parades and went door to door to get people to vote. When the bond was passed we were very excited. But now they are telling us the school is getting renovated and repainted.” Alcanatar said she knows and believes the community deserves a better school for the future students of Jefferson Davis. “The school has a lot of needs but we had a budget and we stuck to it. We had our PAT meetings for over two years. Davis has kids who are involved in Magnet programs, digital media, band, mariachi, orchestra and dance. We were hoping the bond would help us extend our fine arts. We wanted to find something better for the kids,” Alcanatar said. However Alcanatar, herself is at a loss for words and doesn’t know how to explain this to the school. “How do I explain this? The economy changed, other schools are getting more money? At the end of the day, I pray a lot and hope something will change,” she said. For now Morrow hopes HISD will make a decision that will benefit the school and its future. “This is a savage inequality. Where’s the money? HISD promised us a new school and the keyword is promised,” Morrow said. “We will begin to lose the trust of the community. The people with power need to take responsibility and own up to what they did. I said what needed to be said, but I’m angry and heartbroken.”
Joy Sewing, Houston Chronicle
Yay or Nay? Plaid? -Yes, but don’t overdo it. For example, if you have a plaid bottom, have a solid color top Leggings? -I like leggings on the right people. Over-the-knee Boots? -I think they’re good but not in the office. If worn in the office make sure you wear a long skirt so no one knows that they are over the knee Cardigans? -I like them but I don’t wear them ,but I do like them. Booties? -Booties are in. That’s the great way for us to wear fall shoes because they’re not high. Uggs? -I love Uggs at home. I don’t think Uggs should be worn publicly. Blue eye shadow? -It depends on how blue it is and what you’re wearing with it Red lipstick? -I think red lipstick is nice. I think you should get the right shade. I also think matte is better. It’s better to go matte and not shiny. Skullies? -They’re great on the weekends when you’re with your friends but not in the office Scarves? -I like scarves. I have a bunch of them that I do not wear but I like scarves Corduroy? -I don’t like corduroys but that’s just me. I think it’s a very nice fabric but I just have this thing about corduroy Wide leg pants? -Wide leg pants are in this fall but I think they’re better on tall people Ripped pants? -Ripped pants should never be worn in the office unless you’re working outside herding cattles.
By Des’Jea Henderson WORTHING HIGH SCHOOL
This year’s fall fashion forecast calls for leggings, scarves and a 100 percent chance of snazzy over-theknee boots. Reaching for some of last year’s wardrobe may not be such a bad idea either, especially since last year’s trends are making its way back this season. As the temperature lowers and the leaves begin to fall, many will be swapping out the edgy tank tops and t-shirts for cozy sweaters and cardigans. This season’s fall fashion hasn’t changed that much, according to Houston Chronicle’s fashion and beauty writer Joy Sewing. “Women are wearing pantsuits, tie blouses, oxfords and nice slacks. It’s a very sleek look and every so often it comes back around and now it’s come back around but with a sleek look,” Sewing explained. This fall season, women aren’t the only ones getting a taste of fashion. Sewing said, you mostly find men dressing up this season.
“I think slim-fit suits are still in. You mostly find the younger generation dressing in them. If you look at the men blogs, there are a lot more men fashion blogs than women.” Fall clothing is a hard fashion to rock when you’re still in school with uniformed restrictions; however, Sewing said students can accessorize with jewelry and footwear. And price shouldn’t be a factor. Thrift shops are good inexpensive places to go for great quality and low prices, Sewing advised. “I’m a TJ Maxx and Marshalls’ person, but recently I’ve been going with some colleagues to thrift stores and I found some great deals. I found a Coach bag for $30,” she said with a smile. But what about Houston’s unpredictable weather? It’s hard to follow trends because it stays so hot, said Sewing “The thing about it is that you come into a building and it’s freezing. There are opportunities to dress for fall and just keep it light weight,” she said. “Less is better!”
F O R E C A S T
Local bands take Houston by storm
Some American students take education for granted
By Juan Palomo LAMAR HIGH SCHOOL
Local bands are perceived by some as untalented, overambitious narcissists who seem to fantasize about the luxuries they would own if only more people heard of them. Though this is true in some cases, it isn’t when it comes to Katy based band New Color. Founded by singer/ guitarist David Fernandez and guitarist Renzo Vizcarra, New Color’s roots trace back to a time before its formation. A time period in which Fernandez’s love for music grew into an ambition. “The band first formed when I met Renzo at a party,” Fernandez said in an interview moments before performing at a local gig in Super Happy Fun Land. “New Color has always been a thing, I first wanted to be a DJ so I always had an idea for a band or some sort of music career. I then found Renzo at a party and we started jamming out and the second we heard that click, I contacted our now bassist Daniel (Calles.) We then met up and now the band is organically moving forward.” The recent dispatch of keyboardist Cade Richardson and the band’s conflicting schedules to practice added on with drummer Paolo Alfaro’s distance from the practice area makes it hard for the band to stick together. However, New Color’s existence is strong evidence of the high level of confidence and commitment all four members have. “We originally had Cade Richardson as a keyboardist to our band,” Fernandez said. “He moved out to Austin and the sound wasn’t really going where
we needed it to be so we went into a different direction. It’s also hard to get everybody together. We all make some sacrifices to meet up but we all make them
experience and winning it made it all the bit better.” Though no music is out yet, the band has promised to release some content as soon as they perfect it all. This however doesn’t stop New Color from performing on stage. “We were pumped when we scheduled our performance in Super Happy Fun Land,” Fernandez said. “We were ready to go when we arrived. We’ve been wanting to perform in a venue like it for a while.” The quartet played songs Women and Stranger of the Night
because we love what we do.” The band’s only live performance before Super Happy Fun Land was a school’s talent show last year, where they claimed victory and took home a giant trophy to showcase. “Playing at the talent show was an incredible time for us,” Fernandez said. “We wanted to give it our best shot and do everything that we could and right from the start we said ‘let’s take it.’ We went for it and played a good show. The crowd was amazing- our energy was amazing. It was definitely a good
as well as their ‘award winning’ song Lately.. Women showcased the band’s onstage energy and charisma with its funky and catchy sound. The quartet is without a doubt ambitious and have dreams bigger than skyscrapers and mountains.
The American education system is failing. According to dosomething.org., in the past 30 years the United States has fallen from the leader in quality and quantity of high school diplomas to a comparably low rank of No. 36 in the world. Meanwhile, over 3 million students drop out of high school annually, 64 percent of which are American born. But what could have caused this sharp decrease in education? Truthfully, it is really simple. The answer to this question can be summed up into one popular yet potent phrase. “You can lead a horse to water but you cannot make it drink.” When analyzed side-by-side, America’s education system doesn’t really differ from Singapore’s which is ranked number one in the world for education. American students are provided all of the tools and opportunities necessary to learn and succeed. However, what American students lack is the motivation and appreciation for the education we are provided with. In recent history, minorities were forced to fight for their right for education. They risked their lives in doing so but now, after the fight has been won, American students have lost the love and appreciation for learning that our ancestors desperately fought for. Countless immigrants risked it all to come to America in order to give their children a fighting chance. Innumerable African Americans lost their lives just for attempting to learn to read. The reason that America was number one in quantity and quality of education is not because our education system is superior to all other countries but because as a country, our youth felt the drive and desire to learn. Today’s American teens take their education for granted. Not only did our ancestors give up everything to learn, but teens around the world risk their lives for school every day. One such example is Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani teen famous for her previously anonymous diary which chronicles her desire to remain in education and for girls to have the rights to learn. In October 2012, exactly three years ago, Yousafzai was shot in
the head by a Taliban gunman who boarded her school bus. The tragic encounter catapulted her to fame and following her release from the hospital in January
2013, Yousafzai became an advocate for education and women’s rights. She was only 11 years old when her diary enraptured audiences everywhere, and despite the danger, fought for her education. Yousafzai’s story was brought to the big screen in director Davis Guggenheim’s He Named Me Malala. American students are provided with a free education, a commodity less fortunate teens like Malala only dream of and frivolously dismiss it as boring or idiotic. Our forefathers gave their lives to get everyone a free and equal education and students around the country do so every day. “Our beautiful dream became nightmares,” Yousafzai said in her nobel lecture in 2014. “Education went from being a right to being a crime. I had two options. One was to remain silent and wait to be killed. And the second was to speak up and then be killed. I chose the second one. I decided to speak up.” This should be a wake-up call to the American teens who thoughtlessly throw away the privilege of America’s free education system. We are provided with basic rights that teens in the other countries are willing to sacrifice their lives for. There is no excuse to waste them.
“ ... over 3 million students drop out of high school annually ... ”
WESTBURY HIGH SCHOOL
Student Success Center 11911 Chimney Rock Rd. Office #405D Houston, TX 77035 Mr. Craig Zeno
“Every Child Needs Guidance”
We help students find different programs and resources to promote success around all over low income communities. We promote good character and leadership to allow the development of good citizens that will become an asset to commnites around the nation.
10 Sports Glory days at Milby gone...for now By Destini Pettus WESTSIDE HIGH SCHOOL Throughout the past decade, Milby High School has been renowned for its exceedingly successful athletic program. They held an immovable position at the top of rankings for its many thriving sports teams. However, among the many great teams residing at Milby, there was one that stood predominant with the fans - the basketball team. “(Basketball was) very huge,” former Milby basketball player and NBA player Jawaan McClellan said, “especially to play in a community.” With the leadership of head coach Jim Duffer, McClellan’s team won the state championship as well as ranked number two in the state. Following their undefeated reign in 2004, the Milby boys’ basketball team became known as one of the best in the district as well as the state. But according to Duffer, the Milby powerhouse has dated back even farther Jim Duffer than that. “Milby basketball tradition dates back to the 1940s,” Duffer said. “With the history of the school, Milby made 11 trips to the school final four.” But after the 2014-2015 school year, the final state rank of the Buffaloes fell close to 400 points, going from 406 to a drastic 975. This huge shift, Duffer say, was caused by the relocation of the students attending Milby High School to Jones High School. Milby, built in 1926, was the fourth oldest high school in Houston and long overdue for renovations. From an outside perspective, the reconstruction of this school seems as if would be a helpful and healthy change for the students and the community. But the reality is that students are not only left without
a school but without a community. “It’s affected it in an extremely negative way. Our enrollment is down to 1406 kids in the entire school and when there’s a drop in enrollment, there’s a drop in participants in extracurricular activities,” Duffer explained. “Moving to a new building has affected the number of kids that want to participate in these extracurricular activities.” Academically, Duffer explains that the students are not motivated to do well. The administration is doing all they can in order for student to achieve success. “Motivation for our students has been very difficult on all levels,” he said. “A lot of our students are very upset about the way that our district has forced us aside and put us in a bad situation. There was a big majority of teachers that would not do this move. You’re putting inexperienced teachers in a very tough situation with kids that are not really motivated.” The drop in enrollment also helps to explain the vast decrease in state rank of the former champs. “(UIL) didn’t do us any favors by putting us in the 6A district last year reclassification,” Duffer said. “The district knew that our numbers were going to go down once we got relocated.” The team requested to be placed in the 5A district, where the smaller size of their school would have been more evenly matched but we were ultimately denied, Duffer said. This left the Buffaloes competing against schools with over 3800 students. In fact, the school closest in number to Milby was Reagan and even then there was an 800 student gap between the two. The basketball team decreased in numbers significantly following this move. Duffer reports that prior to the move, he received more than 100 students who wanted to try out for the program but following the move and loss of students, he was lucky to receive a higher number than 25 for prospective players on
the team. The freshmen were not even able to have a team last year, he said.Relocated to Attucks Middle School, the freshmen are perhaps the most withdrawn from the former Milby community as they had never had a chance to be a part of it. This year Coach Duffer hopes to have enough freshman students to form their own basketball team. “Coaches come over in a bus and pick (the freshman) up every day and bring them over to the athletic area to practice. There’s really not much of a connection,” Duffer said. Transportation is another factor that has become difficult for the Milby students. “A majority of our kids take the bus to school every day. So we have to limit our practice time because we can’t be on this campus till after 6 p.m. Let’s just say it makes things very difficult,” he said. “There is not a large percentage of our kids that drive and there are not a large percentage of our kids that get parents to drop them off.” Another negative aspect of the relocation is the difficulty it brings for recruitment. “Recruiters don’t realize where we’re at,” Duffer said. “If you look in any of the publications that the district puts out, Milby’s still listed at 1601 Broadway. If you drive over, it is a shell of a building that was built in 1926 so then they don’t know where to go.” However, former player McClellan offers alternatives to the Milby students. “If you’re good enough, you’re going to get recruited,” McClellan said. “In all honesty, you don’t even have to play high school ball anymore to get recruited. There’s kids that just play summer ball now.” McClellan also offers the players advice on how to overcome and succeed the problems they face. “The only advice that I can give to players that want to make it pro is not worry about making it pro,” McLellan said. “My num-
Photo courtesy of Jim Duffer
Milby High School’s basketball team has been using Jones High School’s gym for practice until the new school is completed. ber one rule is to focus on school first and family second. Basketball is probably number four on the list. Milby’s magnet is math and science which is a big reason why I went. Another reason why I went to Milby is because they had a lot of tradition there.” While McLellan has full confidence that the students of Milby have the strength to overcome the predicament, he also acknowledges the hard times ahead. “Obviously going to (an entirely) different school can affect you - you’re not practicing on the same court that even has the same colors that you represent,” McClellan said. “You don’t feel like you have a home. I don’t know if there’s (any) advice to be given other than
to support the program and the team itself.” But throughout the struggles, the students and players are taking whatever they can from the dismal situation. “It’s actually brought the kids closer together,” Duffer said. “It’s kind of us against the world because we’re in such a bad situation. We’ve got great kids here - great family, great traditions and they’re doing everything they can to make it as positive as they can when it comes to that. A lot of it comes from self-determination and motivation. The staff is doing everything we can just to keep to kids interested and motivated.”
Robertson is just your average guy but no average quarterback
Milby High School’s basketball team has been using Jones High School’s gym for practice until the new school is completed. Alfred Robertson, star quarterback for Worthing High School, has had much success in his years. He has been the quarterback at Worthing since his freshman year and has been ranked number one in the nation. High school coach Brandon Ellis spotted Robertson when he was in
eighth grade at his middle school football game. “I saw that he had a lot of talent and he’s a good athlete. His whole eighth grade year after the season was over he came out and practiced with us at Worthing so it showed me something different. A lot of people don’t see that about him.
They see him laughing and playing but when it comes to football he becomes very serious,” said Ellis. Robertson is one of the area’s top running quarterbacks, according to VYPE Houston. He has been compared to former players of Worthing’s football team but has been ranked as one of the top three players by his coach. “Alfred is definitely in my top three. He’s been a versatile athlete and he’s been on varsity since his freshman year. He started as a freshman quarterback and he showed that he could lead as a freshman,” his coach said. Robertson is mostly recognized for his play as quarterback but he plays many positions on the field. “He goes from quarterback to safety, field goals and he also kicks off - any position we put him in, he’s good,” Ellis said. The senior quarterback is very modest when discussing his athletic ability and recent success. “It’s a good feeling knowing that I’m
at the top and I’m just going to keep on improving,” he said. “My desired goal is to keep winning games and keep being successful.” Robertson led his team to the playoffs. “Alfred has almost single handedly scored on his own,” teammate senior Joshua Alexander said. Robertson is well known around his community and is a role model to the many residents in Sunnyside. “He is a leader to many of the younger kids,” Alexander said. “They want to be just like him.” Being a star athlete, scholarships are rolling in. Robertson has been the focal point for some colleges in Texas. “I have a couple of schools looking at me, but once I take the SAT then I will officially know,” he said. According to Ellis, Army College has their eyes on the Worthing player. “Army is very interested in him playing quarterback,” Coach Ellis said. “They came and talked to
him last semester. There are some schools in Texas that are interested in him.” Robertson is hoping football carries him a long way; however, if his plan does not work out, he has another option. “I plan on going to the NFL,” he said with a smile. “But if it doesn’t work out, then I will go to school
to become a police officer.”
For Cousins, Katrina a distant memory By Simone Collins
JACK YATES HIGH SCHOOL
He was only seven or eight years old at the time but Sonny Cousins remembers the day Hurricane Katrina made history as one of the worst storms in U.S. history. Looking back, Cousins and his family did not see a way out... “It was crazy like because I was so young and I never thought I would see anything like that – just looking out and seeing nothing but water and living in it for three days – having to survive with my grandparents,” Cousins recalled.
But 10 years later, Cousins has moved on to bigger and better things. As a shooting guard for North Forest High School’s basketball team, Cousins and his team are gearing up for the start of the season. “I will be more of a leader and help lead my team to the playoffs,” said Cousins who averages 25 points per game and 8 assists. “I have to work on my shots and be a student of the game.” Cousin’s coach, Terry Washington, said he admires the young man who’s been on his varsity team since he was a sophomore. “They came from Katrina when he was little and what is crazy about it is when he came down here, his mom got a house close to North Forest High School. What really hit was last spring we had the rain that hit Houston and his house got flooded again. The damage looked worse than it did from Katrina – almost,” Washington said.
But this did not stop Cousins from being the best he could be. “We lost five players last year. Sonny is the face of the program,” Washington said. Cousins is also an academic scholar, maintaining a 3.2 GPA and is a member of the National Honor Society. When asked about his future plans for college and basketball, he said he is open to almost anything. “My dream college or favorite college has always been Baylor but right about now it really doesn’t matter what college I go to. I would prefer a (Division I) college but whatever college gives me the best offer, the most money, where I can go and get a free education at the same time or whichever is the best college that sees me play and likes how I play, I will go,” the senior said. “So I don’t really have any particular individual college I would want to go to. Yes, I plan on going further with basketball – thats my dream – free education... I just want to get better.” Coach Washington refers to Cousins as a “natural” leader.
“He is smart, very smart, hardworking and dedicated. He is a player you would want in your program. When he talks, everyone shuts up and listens.” The senior said his struggles has led him to be the person he’s grown up to be. “It was hard. There would be days or weeks it would go smooth and we wouldn’t struggle but then (something would come up) and we were struggling again,” the team captain said. “I’ve been struggling all my life – watching the hustle, watching my people come up in hustle and that’s all I know is struggle. Growing up was hard. It was a struggle. Cousins said he found refuge in basketball. “No telling where I would be without it. The way that I grew up, I wouldn’t know. I always thought I was gonna be on the streets,” he said. “I never thought I would be getting into basketball. I never thought I would be getting interviewed – but you never know,” he said with a smile. “I’ve been playing basketball since I was five so all I know
is basketball. Basketball keeps me in school. Basketball keeps me in my home. The stuff that I go through I can go outside pick up a ball and go back inside happy and forget about everything that just happened.” Washington believes that Cousins’ love for basketball and his love for his family will help propel him to the next level. “I think he stays focused because he is a kid that needs to take care of his family and he’s almost like an adult – he carries himself like an adult to where basketball can lead him to other avenues of education and he can have an opportunity to take care of his family after he graduates from college,” Coach Washington said. “He’s a kid that will do anything for his family. He’s a very special kid – from fighting through Katrina to being 17 going through another storm here and helping raise his other siblings. He has always been put in this position of being a man so he’s a great kid. He is a kid you’d like to take home to meet your parents. He’s that type of kid.”
HISD Chronicle Insight