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the Pony PONY Express EXPRESS

VOL. 29



Cross country runner sets the pace for peers


Junior Rachel Cazares qualified for regionals for girls cross country team and boasts one of the highest mile times in district, page 15.

features Students venture into fashion designing industry Seniors Lourdes Jenkins and Amy Lin each start clothing lines, page 5.


Interested in news and features pertaining to Gaither? Check out The Pony Express website at


Photo courtesy of Jeff Adams

news - School board changes EOC policy

End of course exams now count for 30 percent of students’ final grades in the social studies department, page 2.

Wrestling Photo courtesy of Devon Direnzo Rachelle Mourra/Pony Express


Female wrestler becomes four-time state qualifier despite the odds Senior Daisy Santos pushes through obstacles in her path to achieve great success as team captain and competitor

Anthony Prieto

Sports Editor

Reigning as the captain of the school wrestling team and a four-time qualifier for states, senior Daisy Santos has made a name for herself in the wrestling world. Daisy comes from a family of wrestlers, with a younger sister involved in the sport as well as a father who coaches the school wrestling team. “She is the oldest of five; she has been wrestling for about six years. She is a National All-American wrestler and a three time regional qualifier. Colleges are looking at her,” said her father and wrestling coach Michael Santos. Her sister will be a freshman at school next year and plans on joining the wrestling team to follow in Daisy’s footsteps. “She has a little sister coming onto the scene, Brenda, who has already made a name for herself. Brenda placed second in nationals,” said Coach Santos. Her coach feels strongly about her positive spirit towards the sport. “Daisy is a powerfully-minded individual. She has a lot of mental toughness,” said Coach Santos.

She sets her mind to the sport and enjoys breaking barriers for female wrestlers. “I love the challenge of proving others wrong that I can win and I wouldn’t be who I am without wrestling. It makes everything else easier. For me, wrestling is as natural as walking,” said Santos. In addition to the strong dedication to the sport, Santos participates in many extra-curricular activities and is an AP student. “She is still a girl, she’s in showcase. For two to three hours a day, she is a wrestler, that’s it,” said Coach Santos. However, she is committed to the team and her sport. She travels to many states to compete in numerous competitions. Daisy travelled all the way to Tennessee to wrestle with her team this summer. “Wrestling is for anybody who wants to focus, it’s about hard work and we are building the program,” said Coach Santos. As the team’s captain, Daisy shows her dedication to the sport and tries to motivate the team to victory. “She is hardworking and a good motivator. I think she is one of the most

committed team members,” said junior Riley Winter. Santos works out for hours after school and practices wrestling a lot. “When I train, I do lots of drills, but more than anything, I just wrestle,” said Santos. There were many adjustments her coach had to make in his training plans to accommodate women. “As a coach, I had to learn to coach women. They are more flexible and you really have to talk to them she cares about others and she is good with others,” said Coach Santos. Her fellow teammates don’t see many differences in wrestling either gender. “I don’t see a difference between wrestling a boy and a girl. I treat wrestling girls just the same as if I’m wrestling a guy,” said Winter. They appreciate the addition of Santos on the team and realize the magnitude of her contributions as captain and teammate. “I don’t wrestle her because of the weight difference, but I know that she is very dedicated to the sport. She makes the team better because she’s really cheerful in everything,” said junior Dakota Johnson. It doesn’t all come easy. Challenges

Photo courtesy of Daisy Santos

Daisy Santos is the captain of the girls wrestling team. She received first place in her division at the recent Tiger Invitational. still occur for Santos during competitions and in practice. “Girls naturally are smaller than guys, so in order to be successful in wrestling, girls have to train much harder,” said Santos. Countless aspects of the sport do not give her great advantages, and the work she puts into wrestling must be much greater than if she was male. “Challenges arise when the guys are stronger and most cut a lot of weight, so I’m always the smaller wrestler,” said Santos. Wrestling is a way of life for Santos. She proves her worth in her sport due to her incredible record and fights to advance the sport’s status for aspiring female wrestlers.

Student overcomes familial struggle to progress into independence Lillia Zinsner

Opinions Editor Independence comes earlier to some than others. For senior Brittany Cristiano, who has gone through court procedings that legally separate her ties to her parents for the betterment of her upbringing, this is the case. This process is called emancipation, and by law it allows a child to sever legal guidance of any parents or guardians over 21. “I have the same rights as [someone who is] eighteen years old,” said Cristiano. According to, in 2010 there were 2,399 children 16 or older that were recorded as being emancipated in Florida. “Someone would become emancipated because the living situation at home

would be abusive, really bad or both parents aren’t in their lives. It’s not necessarily something you would want to do, you are almost forced into it,” said Cristiano. Her journey through the process of becoming emancipated was complex. “You have to go through a lot of paper work. I talked to my social worker, so I didn’t have to do all of it,” said Cristiano. The paperwork consists of a petition for emancipation, a statement of responsibility and other various forms. From there, if all paperwork is complete and approved, the minor is then instructed to schedule a hearing. Once the motion for emancipation is approved the minor and social worker decide living conditions and such. In her living situation she lives in an apartment with a roommate, who also attends school with her.

She is only obligated to pay a certain amount of the rent since she is part of an emancipation program that helps her manage expenses. Once Cristiano decided to move out of her home, the one family member’s support that surprised her the most was her mom. She was the one who had given Cristiano a reason to move out. All of her family agreed as well; they thought it was the best course of action. Her friends are able to give her moral support when needed, seeing as many of them are still in school. During the holidays, Cristiano will be spending the most of her time by working at her job. Celebrating the holidays as an emancipated student will be much harder for her than regular students. But she does plan on doing normal teenage activities throughout the holi-

days like going to some of her friends’ houses for bonfires and other holiday treasurers. The program that she is involved in through her emancipation arrangement has strict rules that she and others must follow. One of which entails that none of her friends are allowed inside her apartment. Regardless of this social inhibitor, she still maintains good relationships with her family and friends. “I still visit my family. It’s better because if something does happen I can just leave. It’s like being an adult or college student and visiting once in a while,” said Cristiano. Her situation has been improved upon since she became emancipated. Though she will have to face many more challenges with the early onset of adulthood, she is prepared to face them with the help of her family and friends, and the support of her program.

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