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LAMAR LIFE

Saluting women

MARCH/APRIL 2019

Volume 19- Issue No. 5


TABLE OF CONTENTS

LAMAR EDITORIAL LIFE BOARD

4 International Women’s Lauren Koong Day

-What it means to be a woman today?

Editor in Chief Class of 2022

Anthony Luna Assistant Editor Class of 2019

10 FFA Rodeo and

Livestock Show -Showcasing students’ work

12 Teacher Of The Year

-Celebrating their hard work

17 Bonding With

Chloe Adeniyi Class of 2021 Aylin Alhazimi Class of 2021 Hudson Bookout Class of 2019 Marbella Cano Class of 2020 Sophia Diaz Class of 2021 Heinrick Gonzalez Class of 2021

Barbados -Water polo team hosts athletes

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Student Media Adviser Cynthia P. Smith csmith41@houstonisd.org

Alex Koong Class of 2019 Madeleine House Class of 2019 Maya Long Class of 2019 Gerardo Ravanales Class of 2019 Mykel Wheaton Class of 2019

Lamar Life Magazine and Lamar Life Online are student publications of Lamar High School, an IB World School. The purpose of both publications is to inform and stimulate constructive thinking among students, faculty and the community. From fine arts to sports, Lamar Life staff members hope to responsibly ascertain and report facts and conduct ourselves as professional journalists. Opinions expressed in Lamar Life Magazine and Lamar Life Online are not necessarily those of the staff, advisor, Lamar High School administrators or advertisers. Opinions, tips and letters to the editor are welcome and can be submitted by emailing LamarLifeOnline@gmail.com.The staff reserves the right to edit letters for clarity or liability. Names may be withheld upon request and at the editor’s discretion.


Students are urged to say something if they see something Story by Lauren Koong

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rincipal Rita Graves has taken the steps to make the school a safer place for students to learn. Recently, she introduced the Sandy Hook Promise, an organization that fights guns violence and promotes school safety. A recorded live presentation was shown during advocacy which explained the Sandy Hook Promise. “It’s an organization I’ve been following for a couple of years online as they’ve been growing their outreach,” said Graves. “A couple years ago I did a lot of research online about how to develop safety plans that make good sense and how to build relationships between school administration and the student body so that students feel safe coming and reporting.” Now students have access to an anonymous reporting app where they can intervene for people they feel are at risk and help them before it’s too late. “I want kids to know about that anonymous app, so that if they don’t feel safe going directly to someone that they know...they have an out for doing that. I think most kids at Lamar can identify when something doesn’t seem right but I think there is a wide range of comfort level of telling someone. So we need to provide an opportunity for kids to report in an anonymous way,” Graves said. However, Graves recognizes that there may be some issues that will arise with the app. “There may be some kids that misuse that anonymous reporting app and we may be chasing things that aren’t real but I would rather chase things that aren’t real than miss something that is,” she said. Despite some comments that the video shown was not personal enough, Graves understood that this was the best way to get this information to the entire student body.

“We talked about holding an assembly but because our performance hall will only hold a few hundred students, it was going to disrupt two full days of instruction and I was worried that might stress our kids out, with IB exams and personal projects coming up and so we did the recorded live presentation,” Graves said. In introducing this new “see something, say something” policy with the anonymous reporting app, Graves hopes to make this school safer. “What I want the student body to take away from this is that we are very serious about getting help to kids that need help. We are very serious about keeping this school safe - safe from physical harm, safe from emotional harm, safe to take risks in your academics, take risks with athletics or fine arts,” said Graves. “I don’t want the students of Lamar to come here and feel fearful about getting involved, fearful about whether or not they are safe here. I want this to feel as safe to you as home does. I think you can thrive as a learner when you feel safe.” One of the most important parts about keeping a safe school is building a relationship between the administrators and the student body so that the students feel safe coming forward and reporting. “It’s always going to be hard when you have a school this size,” said Graves. “What I think about is, if I can build relationships with this group of kids who are involved with this club or sport, then their word of mouth builds that safety and trust, because they go out and say ‘you should talk to Ms. Graves about that.’ That’s what we want, to develop relationships with kids that are involved in different kinds of things so that when their friends are struggling with something, their advice is to go talk to Ms. Graves.”mnl,nnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnCheck out the online website of the anonymous reporting app: https://www.saysomething.net

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By Mykel Wheaton

Women unite to celebrate International Women’s Day Christy Cobb

Being a woman in 2019 means bearing the collective history of my ancestors on my shoulders. It means ensuring that the rights that some were denied and that others fought hard to win are extended to all in future generations. Being a woman in 2019 means using our collective and individual power, for the greater good of all people. It means pushing hard against hatred and bigotry, in all its forms, and helping to sow the seeds of unity, respect, kindness, responsibility, justice, equity and open-mindedness within our communities. Being a woman in 2019 means stepping up and out into leadership roles in our social, educational, worship and political communities, when the moment arises. It means not giving in to fear and going boldly in the direction of right. Being a woman in 2019 means having the freedom to be your most authentic self and celebrating her daily in everything you do. International Women’s Day is moment that gave us time to interact and reflect globally on the contributions of the woman around the globe, historically and currently. Women’s “herstory” and contributions have often been diminished, ignored or denied. This is particularly true for those in marginalized communities. It is important that we have this day to educate and remind the world, as the poet, Ntozake Shange, wrote, “Where there is woman there is magic.”

Rita Graves

Women are caretakers. We think of others - or the job - before we stop to recount our successes or care for ourselves - because there is always more to be done. For this reason, it is important for us as women to set aside a time to reflect on what we’ve accomplished and acknowledge countless colleagues - without whom - our vision would be only that. Success is a team sport. As I reflect, I am mindful that women enjoy the opportunities we do today because we stand on the shoulders of giants. Large numbers of women have not always worked outside the home. That changed during WWI. Women were recruited to fill the labor gap, making airplanes, bombs and other products in support of the war effort. Since that time – and before it - countless women have devoted their time and talent to win for women opportunities in college, the workplace and in leadership. In March, we paused to remember their efforts and say, “Thank you, Sisters!” I work to honor the efforts of those women that have walked before me by giving my best every day; aware that the job I do – in some small way - reflects on us all.

Elisa Infante

Being a woman means being self-empowered. To me, being a woman means working harder to prove that your goals are attainable. Celebrating women is important because it gives young women an inspiration. Being a woman means being self-empowered. To me, being a woman means working harder to prove that your goals are attainable. Being a woman in Agriculture has become a new norm. Before the 1970’s, girls weren’t allowed to join the FFA because it was deemed a vocational course for “young men.” If females hadn’t advocated for their right to join, I wouldn’t be in the position that I am in now. Up until the early 2000’s, there weren’t very many female Agriculture teachers. I was inspired to become an Ag teacher my senior year of high school when a new female teacher was hired. Before that, I had a male Ag teacher. She inspired me to be just like her because she proved that she could do all the things that the male Ag teacher could do. What used to be things that only men could do, she was doing, such as pulling a trailer, driving a truck and handling the animals. I try to make it my mission to inspire my students with the passion that I have for this field but also show the young women in my class that women can pursue their passions, whatever field it may be.

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Nosavanh spends a lifetime trying to fit in By LaGina Nosavanh

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e’ve all heard the saying, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” However, we have been a victim of being judged and/or have judged other people before we had the opportunity to get to know them. I would think that being a woman in 2019 would open doors to endless opportunities to professionally grow in my career field. Sadly, it does not matter what year it is, because there is always a common factor about a person that will allow him or her to prosper in life - appearance. Appearance is more than the clothes you wear to feel like yourself. Believe it or not, your appearance is based on the stereotypes that pre-labels you regardless of them being fact or fiction. Stereotypes for some races give them an advantage, while stereotypes for other races makes it very difficult to apply for a job. Nonetheless, these stereotypes are not a onesize-fit all. Our gene pool is getting more and more diverse due to the interracial relationships. Today, we have more multiracial people than we did when I was going to school. It’s beautiful to see the different genetic combinations being expressed in our society. Due to my personal and multiracial experience, my appearance made it “confusing” for others to know me or accept me into their circle. Less than 10 years ago, I had

to “prove” that I’m more than what my appearance tells you. Most of you know that I’m Asian-Black American. Even my name fits the Asian-Black vibe. I had a hard time embracing what I am due to people not accepting me. I wasn’t Black enough or Asian enough to be a part of those circles. My label in middle-high school was that I was just different. I thought going to college would allow me to erase my junior high experience of not being enough. Nope. My new label was being a foreigner from an island. Why can’t people accept me for what and who I am! In order to start my career, I needed to adapt to my “foreign” appearance. Adaptation allows you to survive in your environment. Since people judge you before looking at your application and/or use stereotypes to accept you, I had to look like a “foreigner” by straightening my hair and putting in eye contacts to make me look like the person that’s on the curriculum vitae (CV). During one of my interviews in Houston, my hair started to curl up and frizz due to the humidity. The professor could not believe that I was the person he was reading about when I entered. I had to prove to him that I did all that work by recalling my experiences from off my CV. Fast-forwarding, he offered me a rotation in his lab. When I worked

at Baylor College of Medicine, my supervisor made a comment about all her lab members being Asian. I reminded her that I’m Black American as well. She told me that I was very determined and hard-working and that was why I’m just Asian to her. No matter what, I had to adapt to my surrounding to survive in these modern times. I’m sorry this story does not reflect entirely on being a Modern Woman in 2019. Women are more involved in the workforce, which allows gender stereotypes to interfere with presenting equal opportunities for women. Though, being a woman of one race is much easier than being a multiracial woman. We have our advantages of looking more of one race than the other to get the job or promotion. Yet, are we being truly honest with ourselves when we must adapt to live in our society?

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Be a WOMAN Story by Maya Long

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he idea of a woman and what it means to be female has changed throughout history, starting with the word WOMAN. In medieval times, “lady” was the more appropriate term for someone that was more tasteful. Hats of ribbons and a cinched bodice were markers that signified an esteemed and polite lady. She knew when to speak and not to slurp her foods. She was much of an entertainer to her husband as a king’s jester was to the court. A lady was distinguished and had to be smart enough to be interesting but not enough to question her birthplace. Moving on through the centuries, Jane Austen’s famous novels like Pride and Prejudice has often been noted as a feminist work. It showed a different side of where women’s goals were not focused on marriage. It follows Elizabeth, the second eldest and wild card of the five sisters, for while they want to marry for love, Lizzy wants nothing to do with it. However, despite Austen’s description of Elizabeth’s rebellion against marriage, she, along with the majority of her sisters (spoiler) get married and live happily ever after. The feminist idea was still interwoven with the story but although the mere thought that a woman not wanting to marry appalled many, it is flawed in stating this is a true feminist work as the happy ending shows Elizabeth getting married despite her initial protests. She doesn’t stick with her original ideas and eventually settles down, changing her original characterization the story worked so hard to create. Its attempts to challenging the original ideals of a woman were admirable, but it was only a start. Compare this ending to a more recent box office hit, Crazy Rich Asians. The movie’s adaptation has a minor character, Astrid, who exudes independence where, according to the movie, graduated top of her class at Oxford, started multiple charities and is a fashion icon. Her husband after years is still self-conscience of his “peasant” origins compared to Astrid’s affluent family. She does everything that will make him more comfortable but it seems not enough for he goes on to have an affair just to get attention. At the end of the movie, they don’t work it out as one might expect in cheesy movies. Instead, Astrid decides to do what she should have done all along: stop trying to change herself just to appease her husband. As she states before walking out, “It’s not my job to make you feel like a man. I can’t make you something

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you’re not.” This change in attitude reveals the progression of women and the ideals of what a female is to be. The audience clapped and hollered when Astrid uttered those words; the support of independent women could not be considered in earlier times. Even when Elizabeth tried to be nuanced in her rebellious ideas of no marriage, she still caved at the end. She wasn’t as independent as she would have liked to believe she was and abandons her original intentions of never marrying. We have gone quite a ways in what we believe a woman to be and we continue to grow and challenge our own beliefs. Words that we use to reference the most desirable of the female sex has changed throughout history. Gone is the idea of a proper lady and in comes the idea of a strong, independent woman. Instead of a woman only in the kitchen preparing dinner, she can be found in her office preparing a deposition for lawsuits. You walk into the courtroom and see a woman perched on the ledge with Judge bolded next to her name. No longer are women forced to be into these roles that are predetermined. Yes, she can be family-centered if she desires, but it is only now where she has a choice for herself whether she wants to be. We grow up as children believing we can be anyone we want to be - superheros, the president, an astronaut or world-renowned author on the best sellers list. All of these things where we’re told we can be anything range from the mystical and magical; dreams that we put on the highest of pedestals we aspire to. All these dreams we tell our kids to never give up and the dreams we never forget all have one thing in common: they’re the epitome of what we admire. I await the day to come, when we tell our children they can be anything they want to be, including a WOMAN.


Story by Madeleine House

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isual art is one of different ways many are able to express themselves as well as share messages or feelings. Senior Daisy Van Steveninck seized the opportunity to organize an all-female art show. “I’ve always wanted to curate a show and I’ve always been someone that’s more artistic,” Van Steveninck stated. “It came to a point where I was an active part of the artist community but I felt that it’s a boys’ club. It’s always been kind of a boys’ club. So, I got the idea! It’s been something I’ve always wanted to do and I finally had a space where I could do it. I had met so many cool girls who made art. So, in my mind, I thought, ‘OK, I can do this now.’ That’s how I got the idea, it was just meeting everybody and having a set place where I could do something and have the freedom to do as I choose. “I love using texture and shapes in my art as well as comedy,” added the smiling senior. “For me, inspiration comes from looking at something and understanding the texture. I create when I’m frustrated or when I’m really upset or angry. It also gives me a peace of mind when things feel bizarre and out of it. My inspiration doesn’t come from anything specific but it comes from everything at the same time.” “It makes me really overjoyed. My entire life, being a woman, as privileged as I am and as many opportunities as I’ve had, I cry when I talk about this. There is discrimination that I face. It’s bizarre that a white woman, a very privileged white woman, is still facing discrimination. I look at people, I feel discriminated, so

I can’t even imagine what people who are less lucky than I am feel. Having a group of girls, it’s a subcommunity inside a larger community. Everyone is really supportive and everyone is happy to be in this. We started with 10 people and then had eight more girls want to join. People obviously have things they want to say and want to showcase,” an emotional Van Steveninck said. Seniors Josh Garcia and Lily Abbott gave additional insight on their experience at the show. “I really enjoyed the art show because it gave these hard-working girls a chance to be able to showcase their art that they have been doing for the past few years,” Garcia said. “It was amazing to see how hard they have worked to put this great event on. It makes me very excited for the future to see their art and how passionate they are about their work.” Abbott said she was happy to share the platform with other females. “I thought it was really cool for the females in the community to have a platform for once because they’re not really included in a lot of the shows that happen around Houston. It was just cool to see an all-female show because it’s not really common. The art was really powerful. I saw that a lot of the girls really put their personal experiences into the art they were making,” Abbott said with a smile. Van Steveninck said she is looking forward to the next event. “It’s one of the hardest things I have ever done but the support I received online and from friends is overwhelming,” she said.

Young women prove they are not inadequate at all-female art show 7


By Gerardo Ravanales

Lucky me! I have anxiety

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ental health has become one of the most polarizing topics to discuss in our contemporary society. A relatively new topic in the 21st Century, many forms of mental illness like anxiety and depression have affected teenagers, with sometimes tragic results. Most who have never experienced anything like anxiety or depression will question its validity. But mental stigma is alive and will continue to thrive as long as we do. Despite their being no end to the suffering - I gladly accept all of it. Because mental illness seeks to keep us stagnant and silenced; in turn, it has inspired me to become even more candid about its awareness and dangers. Between sleepless nights, panic attacks and manic episodes, mental illness can truly be a living hell. To further sadden the reality, there is no cure for such condition. It’s something you must carry and live with. The real question is, will you let it consume your life? Will you live in fear and doubt as you question your value to the world? I know it feels daunting when it seems like everyone else around you has it figured out. Yet, your still trying to piece together the puzzles of life. What do you do in a world where anything is possible? You DO NOT RUN!! To really understand anxiety and its condemning ef-

fects, I’ll give you the perspective of an average teenager struggling in modern era America. Beginning with either a rough or decent childhood, it eventually takes a dark turn once we grow up and reality sets in. Most of us begin to wonder our purpose, creating an agonizing pit of worry. Your thoughts will cloud with pessimism, making you detached and alone. I’ve took to calling these animate obscurities, ‘ghosts.’ Because we fear what we can’t see and anxiety isn’t visible; it’s all in your head. It strikes without warning, paralyzing you with feelings of uncertainty and vulnerability. It grows the more you fear its presence. It’ll continue to nag at your every thought until it’s voided you of ever feeling happy again. Anxiety doesn’t quit, until you do. So then, are we doomed to live in despair, contemplating our self-worth; or can we end our self-inflicted oppression? While there may not be a cure, there are ways to cope. Meditate, listen to music, paint, eat... spend your time doing what you love and not worrying. Find like-minded people or even go off by yourself. Don’t confuse loneliness with being at peace. Remember it IS OK to focus on yourself. It’s not selfish and it is not condescending. I guess what I’m trying to say is that at the end of the day, we are all just trying to find our own way to keep moving forward - because it’s the best thing to do.

Scam shines spotlight on college cheating

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ver the past few weeks, new details have emerged about the college admissions cheating scandal which has rocked the nation. Wealthy parents are alleged to have paid thousands of dollars to ensure their children had spots at top universities such as USC, University of Texas and Yale. Several high-profile individuals have been charged, including actresses Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman. As a senior in high school, this scandal has been interesting to watch unfold. Seeing the process by which these parents have bribed their way into top-tier universities and then seeing my friends be rejected from those same schools has been hard to swallow at times. I can understand that parents would want to see their children succeed but what I don’t understand is why they would go to such great lengths to manufacture test results and bribe school coaches just so their children can go to one specific school.

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Story by Morgan Rosenbaum From my point of view, if your child is unable to get into a specific school based on academic achievement or merit, then even if they manage to get in by cheating, it is highly unlikely they will thrive there. Paying someone to submit their child as an athletic recruit to a school and take SAT/ ACT tests on their behalf not only shows that these parents have little faith in their child but also shows how dishonest or unscrupulous behavior is still able to permeate society. To me, it is hard to see how people can be allowed to cheat their way to the top when people like myself and others have worked hard for years to get to where they are. At the end of the day, people will always try to cheat the system but hopefully this high-profile case makes it a little bit harder for them.


Story by Anthony Luna

FFA show off all-girl calf scramble team T

“If they catch the calf, they are given a certificate/ scholarship that pays for the calf that they’re going to get for next year,” said Ag teacher Elissa Infante. “We had six girls compete. Of the six, only one caught it. Unfortunately, but that just means the one that caught is going to have to raise the steer. She gets the certificate and she also has to go back and compete at the Houston rodeo next year with that same exact calf. “So, for the calf scramble, the girls submit their applications to compete,” Infante added. “If they catch a calf, they have to make a business plan which she submits to the Houston rodeo, she has to do a monthly report on her calf, complete her stall design and also show her cattle so a lot of responsibility comes with raising cattle” Annalise Vanderwater was the lucky junior to win the scholarship this year leaving her with a lot ment but nothing was more important than the of work for next year. new calf-scramble team. This year was the first year “I was in shock. I was in awe and I was so surthat Future Farmers of America (FFA) had all girls prised,” Vandercompete for a shot at winning an agricultural scholwater said. “I was arship from the rodeo. so thankful for all The calf scramble consists of students chasing, of the hard work I wrestling and pulling calves into the middle of the did leading up to arena. Those who are able to do so win a scholarit. “They will give ship to raise a steer for next year. me money and at the end of May, I will get my calf and I will work with it every day just as I did with my lamb this year. I will work really Prom Queen hard and do the best I can.” Christine Wiggins his year, the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo was significant for more than a few reasons. With astounding new musical performances, rides and art displays, the rodeo was full of excite-

and Prom King Adrian Washington share a dance at the 2019 Prom. Be sure to read the story in the next issue.

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Actors shine on the stage in Lightning Bug

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oading Dock Productions recently put on the prouction Lightning Bug, a story about a young man trapped in a small southern town with an abusive stepfather. The young man has developed a remarkable facility at creating make-up effects for horror films and he hopes these skills will get him out of the town where his work is unappreciated by the religious zealots in the town. From the audience’s point of view, the play was spectacular, the acting was astonishing and the production was extraordinary. “It was very entertaining,” Chloe Mathes said. Theatre directors wrestled over which play to present. “Ms. Small and I were looking at different types of plays that we could use for the spring and I was leaning toward The Dining Room, but it was going to be a challenge for people to understand,” theatre teacher Annais Alvarez said. The play could be described as a way to show how characters can put aside their differences and dislikes to become friends. “Lightning Bug shows many connections between different characters and how there are some who dislike each other but they still in the end find a solution to either be together or to not be together but still have a friendship,” Alvarez said. Alvarez also said that “highlights of the play included the rehearsal of the play and these students are in the same JV class and weren’t converse with each other and them being able to do a show together like you can see the growth and respect they had for each other.” Actress Ariana Diaz said she was ecstatic that she got a part in the play. “I was kind of nervous because she was just an outgoing character and I wasn’t sure if I was going to play the part well,” Diaz said. Actor Nadir Muhammad said he was shocked when he

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Story by Aylin Alhazimi received the role. “I was excited to get the character that is so much like me in real life,” said Muhammad. “I’m going to play this character to the best of my ability.” Preparing the actor for their role helps to better understand what incentivizes them, motivates them and overall analyze their character. “I remember going home and having my mom read my cue lines and we tried to get it right. That’s how I would practice my lines,” Diaz said. While some people use other people to help practice their lines, other actors prefer to simply dive into their character by themselves. “To prepare to play Roy, I was in the mirror every night practicing the lines and adding emotions to figure out who Roy was,” Muhammad said. After spending hours memorizing lines, each actor and actress found their favorite line. Diaz quoted her favorite line as, “As long as there’s danger in the world. I will be here for I am The Lightning Bug.” Muhammad stated that his favorite line was “Leave everything to me, Big Cheese.” One of the biggest challenges of putting on a play like this was finding the time for rehearsals. “The main challenge was the UIL and having to cancel some of the rehearsals,” said Alvarez. “Also it was hard to tell the actors we can’t have rehearsals because we’re going to district.” On top of that, each actor had individual challenges of portraying their character in just the right way. “I wasn’t exactly sure at first how loud and expressive Roy was and sometimes it was hard to correlate someone else’s stage direction,” said Muhammad.


Many Texans flock to Houston Livestock and Rodeo Show Story by Hudson Bookout

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t really was her first rodeo. Freshman Lauren Koong, who just moved to Houston from California, had never experienced a rodeo like the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. “It was surprising because I didn’t really want to go and then when I got into the stadium, I was shocked to see that people were actually riding bulls,” said Koong. She didn’t think too much of the rodeo before she went. “I was skeptical and I only thought that the rodeo stuff was in the movies,” Koong said with a laugh. “When I first walked in, I was freaking out because I didn’t think that it was real. I couldn’t believe it.” After she went and saw what it was and that it wasn’t just in the movies, her opinion changed. Koong says, “I actually thought it was pretty cool and I actually had a really good time.” Just like everyone, Koong had her favorite parts of the rodeo. “I liked going to the actual rodeo because it is like an actual sport,” Koong said. “People cheer for their

Koong has an unforgettable first-Rodeo experience favorite athletes and get super into it. It’s cool to see how the rodeo brings people together.” There was also a least-favorite part too. “My least favorite part was when I would have to wait in these big long lines to get food,” Koong said. Now that Koong has experienced the rodeo and what it really is, she would most definitely go again. “I would recommend going to the rodeo for everyone, even if you don’t really want to, just go and you will have a good time,” she said. Koong enjoyed the rodeo so much that she shared her story with some of her friends in California. “I was texting them while I was at the rodeo and everyone was freaking out just like me. No one realized that a rodeo was a real thing!” Koong said with a laugh. “I had an amazing time and I think that anyone who goes to the rodeo will experience the same thing.”

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Teacher of the year Brahm provides healthy classroom environment

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Story by Chloe Adeniyi

veryday when I wake up and come to work, hopefully I get to influence my students and be impacted by them,” said TOK teacher Alexander Brahm. Brahm has been teaching Theory of Knowledge and World Religions since 2011. He was recently named Teacher of the Year. Brahm was drawn to teaching by his love for trying to support young people in education. “It’s an honor,” he said. “I think I work with so many great teachers and I don’t see myself as being a better teacher than anyone else. I’m just happy to be a part of a community of educators who takes the job seriously and truly has a heart for education.” Brahm focuses on connecting with students and cultivating relationships while covering the curriculum and helping his students grow. “My students keep me on track. They challenge me every day with the questions they have but they also challenge me with their work ethic which pushes me to be the best that I can be as well,” he said. By the time students leave Brahm’s classroom at the end of the semester, they are left with the ability to be open-minded and think critically about the world they live in. He encourages his students to share their thinking in both small group and whole class settings. Allowing them to engage in authentic discussions with other students. “I get to interact with 200 of my students and other people I see in the hallway and being able to see the future of this country and the world itself is pretty amazing,” Brahm said. Brahm’s students have nothing but praise for him. “As our mentor and our teacher, Mr. Brahm really takes the time to get to know us and he goes beyond his job description to give us the best guidance and leadership that he can,” said junior Delilah Nguyen, one of Brahm’s students. Junior Mykayla Nealey also had many great words to say about Brahm. “Mr. Brahm is very excellent at his job. He provides a healthy classroom environment for his students. He also gives beneficial advice and forces us to stay open-minded about the world around us. Everyone needs a teacher like Mr. Alexander Brahm aka My Teacher of the Year,” Nealey said.

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Story by Marbella Cano

New teacher of the year Moreno brings excitement to the class

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ew teacher of the year honors went to Social Studies teacher Edis Moreno. The first-year teacher said he chose to work here because of the school’s IB status. “It really stuck out to me because for one, it’s an all IB school and I have experience. I’m an IB graduate myself, so that drove me to want to work here at Lamar,” he says. “I really like the diversity and the international mindedness that Lamar kind of prides itself on and it’s just something I really liked and attracted me to teach here.” Moreno prides himself on getting to know each of his students. “I really enjoy getting to know my students. I enjoy the diversity and getting to know their interests and their background and I also really love being able to help my juniors as they transition into their senior year,” he said. “Having experience with college and scholarships and really having a love for history, I love to be able to tie those things together and help them out as best as I can.” When he found out he was new teacher of the year, Moreno said he felt honored. “When I found out that I was picked for teacher of the year, I was really excited. It’s really an honor to have teachers, administrators and students recognize the work that I put in everyday and it gives me a lot of pride to teach here plus it makes me really happy to come to work every day,” he said. Before teaching, Moreno worked in the film/media industry. “Before I became a teacher, I was involved in a lot of film and media related jobs,” he says. “I had a little bit of a career after college. I worked for the governor’s office for the Film Commission. I worked for the Austin Film Festival and I also worked for a commercial company as well and edited commercials.” Moreno believes in order to be an effective teacher one must be open minded.

“(One should) respect people of all backgrounds and understand that not everyone comes from the same place,” he said. “Besides being open minded is a great characteristic for you being a leader. I also think that type of emotion that you show off can affect your students and the type of work that they’ll produce and just the general attitude of the classroom. “The more excited you are to be in the classroom, the better relationship that you all will have with your students,” he added. Is there room for improvement? Of course, Moreno said. “I would like to be able to provide a better connection between my students and their families, being able to help students out in ways that aren’t just for academics,” Moreno explained. His students said Moreno is much deserving of this award. “He deserves the award because he’s very hardworking and cares about his students. He doesn’t give up on us easily,” junior Patrick Hudnell said. “When teaching us, he goes more in-depth and connects the dots. He goes more In depth about topics and is very connective. He doesn’t just go by the book.” Junior Erin Mee said she appreciates the fact Moreno meets his students where they are. “He deserved this because he teaches his class really well he really cares about his students and he wants them to learn. He also understands that you can’t always do your work as well as you want to but he encourages you to do your best,” Mee said. “He uses a lot of personal interviews from people who lived throughout the things that we are talking about. He helps us relate it to what’s going on right now, so it makes it a lot easier to remember. “He is just one of my favorite teachers. It is really great to have him and sometimes, I don’t even realize that I’m learning something but I am and I still do well in his class,” she said with a smile.

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Sophomores take on personal projects

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undreds of sophomores flooded the gym with their personal projects, each and every one of them unique and different. These projects are a fun way to educate peers about an interest or hobby. For sophomore Brooke Ngo-Phan, she found her interest in the disconnect between people in this generation. “For my product, I took a series of candid photos that showed people simply enjoying each other’s company. They didn’t know they were being photographed and they were just doing simple things like talking or eating a meal together. You could see how happy they were,” she said. But for Ngo-Phan, her project wasn’t just about the final product, it was about the process. “The point of the personal project is for students to find something they’re passionate about or something they want to educate people about,” Ngo-Phan said. “It’s not just about the result.” As for advice for freshmen who are going to complete the project next year, Ngo-Phan had a lot to say. “Solidify your idea. It doesn’t need to be super extravagant or crazy. As long as you make sure you know what you’re doing and how you’re planning on doing it, you’ll be fine.” While Ngo-Phan did extensive research about cellphone addiction, sophomore Melvin Zarghooni dedicated his project to helping people live a healthier lifestyle, something that he felt influenced his life “I really tried to focus on how we can incorporate a healthier lifestyle into our daily lives,” said Zarghooni. “I used to live in many different European countries and people there had a much more active lifestyle. I wanted to see if we could adapt to a healthier lifestyle and become more active.” Zarghooni also had some sage words for current freshmen who will be undertaking this project next year. “It’s important to base your project off something that

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Story by Alex Koong interests you. Don’t do your project about something because your friend is doing it or something you think will be easy. It’s crucial to find something you’re passionate about,” he said. While Zarghooni gave lots of advice, his project overall concluded that, “living a healthier lifestyle is not very difficult. It only requires small changes that add up over time.” Sophomore Kaleigh Bickley based her project on animal prosthetics and orthotics. “I was inspired by my dog who was born without his front right paw. He needs a prosthetic to walk and run. I wanted to bring awareness to this innovation as current veterinary practices for amputation renders the limb unusable.” Bickley’s main focus was to spread awareness for animal prosthetics and orthotics as many veterinarians do not consider using prosthetics. “Even though the field (animal prosthetics) is growing, most veterinarians haven’t even heard or thought of prosthetics and orthotics for animals. It’s important to raise awareness for this new technology,” she said. Sophomore Adrian Williams shows off his project to assistant principal Dennis Gillespie. “In seven years of overseeing the personal projects, this year’s projects were - if not the best - one of the best. They were well presented and well represented,” Gillespie said


Rodriguez writes his dreams into reality

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hile many aspire to become writers, actors, artists, etc. in the distant future, senior Rolando Rodriguez is making his dream a reality now. At the age of 17, Rodriguez has published two novels with plans for a third. His memoir entitled Captured is a collection of short stories and essays that explore the significant events that have shaped him into the person that he is today. “I’ve had the idea for my book since about 2015 but I did not start writing and developing it till winter of 2016,” said Rodriguez. “The book took over a year and a half to develop. It was new and I had no idea what I was doing so I had to learn all these publishing things and laws that go into making a book.” Rodriguez refers to writing Captured as a learning experience and while he says he isn’t satisfied with the end product, he is able to use learn and grow from the experience. “Some struggles that I encountered were if I wanted the book in black & white, how many times the cover and

Story by Anthony Luna synopsis would change, the pricing of the book and where the book would be available for preorder/purchase - also getting legal rights to use names in the book,” the author said. “There were so many difficulties that I encountered but I was able to take what I experienced and learn and grow from it so I could do better this time on my new book.” Writing and designing the book by a certain deadline was one issue, finding a publisher was another much larger optical. “I got rejected from Gallery Books. The only big publishing company that was interested was Simon & Schuster’s Keywords Press Publishing Division,” he said. “However, even though it would have been great to have it published through a big publisher like that, I would be limited to how I wanted the book to turn out. So I ended up going with a self publishing website to have total creative control and design control.” Rodriguez published a second version of his first book titled Captured Black & White Edition. Both consisted of some of the same story but with a different design overlay.

His third book is expected to be just as personal. “The book I am currently writing is a diary of events from last year which spanned February throughout May. This was one of the hardest times of my life that I have experienced and so I would write about how I felt,” he explained. “I talk about family issues, relationships, mental health, a drastic loss and gain of weight. It’s a lot. But the only way for me to talk about things that affect me is to write it down. The book which is titled Reflections is expected for release late summer.” Writing a book, especially a piece that is as personal as a memoir requires the author open themselves up in way they may have never done before. “I am a very shy and not outgoing person; however, when I published my book, I knew that this was going to change because I was putting myself on blast,” Rodriguez said with a smile. “Writing the book in a way gave me a little confidence boost and also taught me to appreciate the little things most people take for granted.”

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Diamond Divas

Girls’ softball team make a run in the playoffs

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he girls’ softball team has had an astonishing season and working as a team really paid off. The team advanced to the second round of playoffs before losing to Cypress Creek High School by 2-12. “This season was one of our best. We were able to

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finally play as a team and create a deeper bond team bond,” Asst. Coach Tiffany Noble said. “They grew in all aspects of the game and I can’t wait to see what we have in store for next season. The seniors have been positive role models and the girls seem to always encourage and pick each other up.” The girls’ success did not come without challenges. Being a spring sport is always a challenge because the girls have to wait a long time from the end of a season to the beginning of another and the weather is always interfering with games. The team also struggled with allowing teams to get in their heads before a game. “Bellaire was definitely our toughest competition and it gets in our head each time we face them,” says junior and team captain Emili Burns. “It’s all about confidence when it comes to tough opponents and that had to come from me, a leader, for I have to lead by example.” Proving the naysayers wrong made the team “go harder each day.” “I’m extremely proud of what we overcame this season. We’ve been through a lot these last couple of years,

Story by Sophia Diaz so for it to all come together felt really good,” Burns said. “I’m beyond bless to have been a captain this year and I’m excited for next season because I know we’re coming harder than ever. We also have a couple of ex-teammates who are waiting for us to fail, but that just makes it go harder everyday.” Although faced with many struggles, this team finished the season 9 and 4. Having good team chemistry played a big role in all of these victories. The team captains, Burns and senior Marissa Gonzalez did a good job at setting goals for each game but they had to rely on their teammates to help with different goals. They valued one another and listened to what each one had to say. “Being in a position of leadership has taught me a lot of things but one of the main things is that team chemistry is everything” Gonzalez said. “We’re bound to have ups and downs but at the end of the day, the team came first. This year alone we have gone through a lot of things as a team that in the end have just brought us closer together.” Head coach Debbie Crockett said she was proud of your team. “Honestly, I cannot pick just a few players as key players. I have several girls that play multiple spots for the better of the team to be successful,” Coach Crockett said. “They were great at doing what was needed for the team to win - whether that be pitching, outfield, catching, or playing an infield position.” The team’s number one priority this season was to make it out of the first round of playoffs and they did.

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Story by Heinrick Gonzalez

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fter a successful swim season, there was a rush of excitement in the pool because of water polo. It is a fun team sport played around the world including the vibrant island of Barbados. Students from the Lamar swim team welcomed 16 eager water polo players from Barbados to compete, create new friendships and most importantly have fun. Two years ago, Lamar water polo players visited Barbados during Spring Break to compete and create team building skills unlike no other. “It was very hot when we went to Barbados but they took really good care of us,” water polo player Elizabeth Fisher said with a smile. “Everyone was so nice and I’m glad we could return the favor.” To decrease trip expenses, students from Lamar offered to share their homes with Barbados players, chaperones and coaches. “I went to Barbados my sophomore year and I was very grateful for their hospitality. I wanted to both return the favor and meet new people from their team, so my family hosted five of their players,” water polo captain Nick Cerasulo said. The team from Barbados spent three days in Houston and quickly had to adapt to the change in temperature. “The main difference from Texas to Barbados is the weather for sure, it is much colder here,” Thea Beck-

les said. “From this experience, I learned to always be prepared and adjust to the weather here!” In their visit, they were able to shadow a student from Lamar and receive a first-hand experience of an average school day from an American perspective. “It was such a big school and I learned how American classes work,” Barbados player Kayla Smith said. “It was amazing. I met a lot of great people here and it was fun playing water polo.” The players could not wait to jump in the pool and start playing water polo. They were eager to compete and show what they came here to do. “Good would be an understatement,” sophomore Jonathan Rojas said. “Each game was very close. Every time we scored a goal, they would fire back and tie up the score. I’m just glad that we learned some techniques from them and that we could come together under one sport.” For Barbados and Lamar, this experience was more than they imagined. Both teams were thankful for the new friendships and memories. “I learned how friendly they all are,” Barbados coach Akeem Nurse said. “We’ve created a relationship where you are good to us and we in turn are good to you, which resulted in friendliness amongst the coaches and players. “That’s what it’s all about,” he added.

Students bond with Barbados swimmers

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Boys’ soccer season ends with area finals Story by Daisy van Steveninck

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his year, the varsity boys soccer team made it all the way to the playoffs after winning the title of district champions. This is the first district title for the team since 2002 and it is something that the players and coaches are exceptionally proud of. “Our team has never done this before. Coach Jeremy Davison has never done this before and the school hasn’t won a title in 17 years, so it feels great - it is a huge accomplishment,” senior Joao Mitchell said. The team had a current record of 12-7-4 and after a turbulent mid-season, they finished off the season on a strong streak with two 5-1 wins. “We got to a point where we already had gone through the whole season and we’ve all improved and started winning games again,” said senior and captain Samuel Miller. “That’s brought us all much closer.” At the start of the season, the team set a number of goals for themselves and they achieved a number of them. Overall, their main goal was to win a district title and advance as far as they could. They won the bi-district title and played hard to the end. “This has made me want to win districts

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every single year,” said freshman Jackson Meisenbach. “We wanted to win every game we could and go as far as possible this year and we did.” Coach Davison said he was excited for his team. Their hard work paid off. “I am really proud of how the guys rallied together and became a stronger family during the last half of the district season. They really picked up the pace and focused. We set our goals at the start of the year to score five goals in a game or more, win district, make it past round 1 and compete in round 2. We did it all plus more!” Davison said. “This team has scored the most goals in the #davisonera, most assists and had less practice time, field space and less coach and players time spent together. “Against all odds we prevailed. We didn’t find excuses. We found ways! We have a new website to share our experiences going forward and look to improve on our winning ways and success. Each year we are building up our program’s expectations and goals,” he added. “Champions who play with integrity, honor, and sportsmanship never fail!”


Us is complicated but relevant

By Madeleine House If you are interested in sinister, hair-raising films with a monumental plot twist, then Us is the movie for you. Us displays an uncanny and somewhat repetitive storyline that encourages viewers to use their imaginations to presume what may happen next. I felt that the director, Jordan Peele, created an intense and suspenseful plot that built up to an explosive end of the movie. Through flashbacks and subtle hints, Peele was able to, though it may take some thought from the viewer, thoroughly construct a new type of horror movie which invokes prominent rumination. Though difficult to comprehend at first, Us quickly became one of my new favorite thought-provoking horror films. I highly recommend experiencing the eeriness for yourself.

Promposals take on new meaning on LBlock

“Honestly I wasn’t expecting it at all. It was just my birthday and I wanted to have a great day but when I walked in it was amazing and crazy. Like there it was, a bug chick and some Chick-Fil-a and it was for me.” - Bethany Giron

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