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OCTOBER 2018 Volume 18- Issue No. 1


4 New leadership


Editor-In-Chief Class of 2019

-Introducing Rita Graves

6 We remember -9/11 Memorial

8 Cancer Survivor

-One woman’s journey

12 At Ease

-Lamar’s new therapy dog

Lauren Koong Co-Editor Class of 2022 Amin Abou-Gallala Class of 2019 Chloe Adeniyi Class of 2021 Aylin Alhazimi Class of 2021 Ashleigh Arrington Class of 2020 Rebecca Asare Class of 2021 David Castaneda Class of 2019 Sophia Diaz Class of 2021

16 Changing Guard

-Nolen hands the baton to Lindsey Student Media Adviser Cynthia P. Smith


Cover photo by Wester Couch


Kayleigh Holcombe Class of 2021 Madeleine House Class of 2019 Brianna Johnson Class of 2019 Alexander Landowski Class of 2019 Anthony Luna Class of 2019 Morgan Rosenbaum Class of 2019 Mykel Wheatley Class of 2019 Margo Whitley 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.

I am a survivor and I hope that if I were to ever speak up, I too, would be believed.

By Daisy van Steveninck


recently sat in the journalism classroom and was close to tears. It was during the televised testimony of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford as she testified before the senate judiciary committee. Watching Ford, you could see her pain and fear. However, you could also see the bravery of her actions and the way that she remained true and as light hearted as possible as she testified against a man who she alleges assaulted her when she was a 15 year old in high school. It takes bravery and courage to speak up. Every woman or man who has ever come


forward deserves credit and acknowledgement. Speaking up about rape, assault or harassment is not an easy thing to do, and this trial as well as many others demonstrates that. The #MeToo movement has enabled many women who have felt defeated and powerless to speak up and to feel supported in doing so. We so often don’t believe these men and women nor do we give them enough credit for using their voice in such a powerful and courageous way. The fact of the matter is that we have to believe these people who come forward. We must give them the benefit of the doubt. These survivors come forward and are

Welcome Back Texans


elcome back Texans and for freshmen - welcome. A lot is happening this year as school is back in session. As many of you know, this year Lamar said goodbye to Dr. James McSwain, school principal of 21 years. McSwain accepted the position as the Area Superintendent of the West Region, a position those of us who have worked with him know he will excel at. At the same time, the staff of Lamar Life would like to offer our sincerest welcome to new principal Rita Graves. With all the changes being made on campus, it is even

more important that you, as the reader, can trust us to present you with the most timely and accurate information possible. Ultimately, what we as journalists want is to provide a unique look at the world from a student’s perspective. Our goal is, and always has been, to give you a voice. We want to piece your story together! It is because of this goal that we continue to encourage you to participate in the magazine, whether that means you submitting photos and stories or just letting us know about an event that you care about. We will have you covered!

badgered relentlessly by reporters, news sources and even political leaders. Their lives are forever changed and they are often shot into the public eye with no regard for their safety or sanity. There is emotional trauma that comes with speaking up. Time doesn’t always heal wounds. A wound may scar or scab over but it is still there and can be opened up once again if picked on and rubbed enough. Not only are these women thrown into the media and forced to be photographed and interviewed, they must once again come to terms with traumatic memories and events that have so visibly impacted their lives. I am a 17-year-old girl and most of the women I know in my life have a story like Dr. Christine Blasey Ford. I have a story like Dr. Ford’s but unlike her, I am not brave enough to speak up. I see the way these women are portrayed in the media. The misogynistic things that are said about these women are unforgivable. This makes it hard to want to talk about assault, rape and harassment. We knock women down for speaking up. We shame women for trying to bring down a strong, good man. His actions are so easily forgiven and these women are deemed liars and attention seekers. I am a survivor and I hope that if I were to ever speak up, I too, would be believed but at this point, I don’t know if I would. Boys won’t be boys. They MUST be held accountable!


THE END OF AN ERA AND Story by Sofia Diaz


t was a very difficult decision for Dr. James McSwain to pack up his things and leave behind a huge legacy. McSwain was Lamar’s leader for 21 years and was in charge of the state-of-the-art school that is slated to open in 2019. Becoming Area Superintendent in the HISD West Area was a very unexpected opportunity, McSwain explained. He only had a weekend to make up his mind, but he knew that whatever his decision would be, it was going to be “the right thing to do.” Although he was not looking to leave Lamar, the specific reason for McSwain’s move was simply because he knew that this opportunity was one that would not come around again. McSwain said he was pleased leaving, knowing students and staff would be in the “capable” hands of new principal Rita Graves. “I’ve known Ms. Graves for almost 20 years,” he says. “I’ve watched her grow and I know her training, her background, her experience and the way she looks at education…” When asked if he was enjoying his new job, McSwain responded with a confident “yes.” Being one of six area superintendents and being a principal have quite a few similarities. There are more than 58,000 kids to oversee and 77 campuses he must work with. He said he feels like this new job is definitely faster than being principal because there are more people he has to work



with; however, he enjoys sharing ideas with younger principals because (for one), he’s had many years of experience and (second) because they can make a more positive impact on the kids. Looking back, one of the biggest struggles for McSwain last year was Hurricane Harvey. He said it was an emotional toll for everyone and being the leader that he is, he said he felt he needed to take on responsibility for what happened to everyone. He recalls working with his administration to make sure every student and staff was taken care of. McSwain will never forget what it was like to work here. “I have always been proud of what the students stand for, how much incredible diversity the school has and how (Texans) always remain positive towards everything,” McSwain said. “I am looking forward to our generation running the world and making it a better place. I admire that we embrace one another more openly and have the ability to talk to each other without presuppositions.” He waits with expectancy for the opening of the new school and to see what Ms. Graves has in store for students and staff. To all the kids at Lamar, he says remember who you are; remember what you’ve been taught; remember the school that you come from and demonstrate that in life.


Graves D

r. James McSwain has been a staple of Lamar High School for 21 years. He has overseen the high school education of generations of Houstonians. However, every era must come to an end. McSwain’s time at Lamar will be marked by many fond memories. But, so will Rita Graves’. While students were off on their summer vacations, Rita Graves underwent the rigorous process of applying and multiple interviews for the principal’s position. Prior to being named principal, Graves was an elementary and later middle school principal at Roberts Elementary and Pin Oak Middle School. Though she concedes that there will be changes that come with working with high school students, she believes that there are certain fundamentals that remain the same. It is just how they are approached that needs to be discussed. “I think at the core, all kids, no matter what age, find value in the school system,” Graves said. “Either because they find value in social aspects or they find value in the other opportunities that come along with school and then there are those that just love learning the whole time. And I think that if you recognize that there are reasons why kids love being at school you can hook them on the other things.” One of the things Graves wants to address as prin-

Story by Geneve Goltz cipal is students losing interest as they move through educational system. “We know when we first get you, everything is exciting,” she said. “But by the time you get to high school there’s a lot of stress and there’s a lot of pressure and the work doesn’t always feel purposeful. So, I’m really committed to (Dr. McSwain’s) initial vision and goal of how do we make this work purposeful for kids so that they have the same enthusiasm 12th grade that they had when they were in 1st grade.” Graves has also embraced a very present and involved approach to her role on campus. “I have really loved being out and meeting kids. So many kids have come and said, ‘Hey, are you the new principal?’ and introduced themselves,” she said. “And that’s a kind of interaction that I think is really valuable for school communities but it’s also really good for me because it gives me an opportunity to listen and learn.” Principal Graves brings a lot to the table when it comes to Lamar. She is excited and involved and it is clear that she truly, genuinely cares about the students. Despite the challenges in the coming months, her predecessor believes we are in capable hands with Graves at the helm. “She was the best choice. She will lead as (students and staff) move to the new building,” McSwain said.


REMEMBERING SEPTEMBER 11, 2001 Story by Lauren Koong


he remembers total chaos breaking out and people pushing and shoving and screaming. It was still moving slowly but with a different kind of pressing urgency to it. It was a time when most students were not born yet. It was September 11, 2001. That was Monica Nguyen’s story. Nguyen spoke to hundreds, including teachers, students and parents, at the first 9/11 commemoration ceremony. “Not only does it help me to talk about it but it also helps the people listening to truly understand what happened,” Nguyen said. Senior Nicolas Kramer organized the event. “I think it’s given a lot of students an opportunity to learn about a major event in American history that’s inadvertently going to shape a lot of their lives - what what they do, how the world’s gonna be forever,” Kramer said. “It’s giving them the opportunity to understand better what happened because they actually get to hear it firsthand from someone who was there.” According to Kramer, it took about four to six weeks to bring together an event


like this, as getting approval for everything took a lot of time and energy. “I hope to continue this event in the future and through JROTC, we are working to leave the plans of what we did this year to the people who come next, so they can continue to run it and we can leave it as our legacy,” he said. “Hopefully they will continue this next year and the year after that and the year after that so it will become an annual thing.” Major Kenneth Zapanta, JROTC Senior Army instructor, also hopes this will become an annual event, with featured speakers like Nguyen every year. There is already talk about next year’s speaker and who that will be. “We don’t want to do the same thing every year but we would like to get a different perspective like the Mayor’s. It would be great to hear what he was doing and his reaction,” Zapanta said. The JROTC program put on a touching ceremony to honor and reflect upon the tribulation of 9/11. As most students were not alive when it happened, it was both a learning opportunity as well as a beautiful tribute. In the words of Mjr. Zapanta, “Just never forget.”

Students and staff pay tribute to those who lost their lives Sept. 11, 2001. Phot0 by Daisy van Steveninck

Story by Brianna Johnson


elcome to L Block! More than 1,000 new freshmen now roam the halls. Many are lost, yet eager to learn. About 800 of them got a jumpstart this summer at Freshman Academy. The summer academy was a two-week learning experience which helped to break open shells and begin the blooming process. Students were able to enjoy themselves with people who they would bond with over the next four years. Asst. principal and Summer Academy overseer Dennis Gillespie believes that Freshman Academy helped the freshman find their roles on campus. “We got them acclimated to the campus at the summer academy so by the time they got here – during their first day of school in the ninth grade – they would feel pretty comfortable since they took tours of the building,” he said. According to Gillespie, the purpose of Freshman

Academy is to give guidance and build confidence, preparing students for what to expect when they begin their personal projects. “We use the summer academy as a bridge to close the gap between what they don’t know and what they are going to be expected to know at an IB school. I believe the summer academy provides a great oppor-

tunity for students to reduce anxiety that they would otherwise have. They (left) a lot better off than they did when they arrived,” Gillespie said. “So I take joy from seeing some of the anxiety reduced and replaced with confidence.” Freshman Mikayla Scholz was one of those students who took advantage of Freshman Academy. “The hardest things for me the first two weeks were getting used to my teachers and the grading system,” she explained. “I enjoyed getting to know my classmates which allowed me to have friends coming into the school year and getting to know the school and the little tours all helped.” Along with the learning experience, freshmen were able to get an introduction to the IB program. “The people who went to the summer academy knew a lot more about the IB profiles and what to expect coming into Lamar, rather than just showing up and not knowing,” freshman Sebastian Gomez said.” Freshman Lesly Feudjio said she is happy she had a head start with Freshman Academy. “They gave us advice on how to behave in high school – just to prepare you,” Feudjio said. “We did projects which involved different ethnicities so that helped me to be able to work with other people.”



In remission and loving life Tello’s faith carried her through her cancer journey

Story by Ashleigh Arrington


ida Tello is a survivor! The 63-year-old assistant principal is celebrating a little over three years in remission from breast cancer. “Faith will carry you a long way,” Tello said as she reflects on her journey. Three years ago on May 5th, Tello was diagnosed with stage 3 lobular carcinoma or breast cancer. “I was overwhelmed and extremely upset when finding out I had breast cancer,” said Tello, who is over student counseling. Tello explains it was difficult telling her family about her diagnoses because many of her family members have passed away due to cancer. “I knew it was going to impact them. They would take it really hard because I’m the person that my family turns to for everything,” she recalled. What impacted her most were the chemo and radiation treatments she had to endure – the physical and emotional toll and the hair loss. “It was important to have faith,” she said with tears in her eyes. “Trying not to think the worst of the worst, I read a lot of spiritual guidance and self-improvement books.” She also took nature walks. “I didn’t let cancer define me.” “That’s -Aida Tello


what really helped me stay strong,” she said. “I also joined groups with women that were going through the same thing, if not similar. It really helps a lot to sit and talk about it with someone that’s going through or went through what you’re going through.” Sharing her story has helped others deal with their cancer journey. “Sharing my story had an impact on people that I haven’t spoken to for years but they reached out when they were diagnosed - asking for assistance on how I dealt with it and the details about the treatments. It helps to know that I can help others in

their journeys,” she said. Tello is in the maintenance phase of her post-cancer journey. She has about a year and a half to complete maintenance and medication. “I will keep my fingers crossed,” she said with a smile. Tello said she would not have made it this far without the help of supporters – especially her close friends asst. principal Monica Pizana, CIS Proj. Mgr. Sheleigh Beggs and best friend Corine Ortiz. “They were there with me, telling her not to stress about it. They told me everything happens for a reason and that I would be just fine,” Tello recalls. Accepting the fact that having cancer is going to be a tough journey is the best medicine, Tello said. “You have to have the faith that you’re going to overcome it. You also need a good support system. If you don’t have a support system, you need to find one because no matter what the illness may be, there are others that are going through similar situations,” she advised. “Never give up! There is nothing in this world that you cannot overcome.”

Brazil gives teen a jump start on medical career S

Story by Rebecca Asare

ince she was in the 7th grade, her dream has been to become a doctor for “Doctors Without Borders.” Senior Ivette Torres got one step closer when she was one of eight students in the United States to be selected for a full scholarship to study abroad. The only student from Texas, Torres was ecstatic. Doctors Without Borders are doctors who go to less-developed countries to do mission trips to treat those with medical needs and those lacking nutrition. “My experience in Brazil was life changing,” she said. “The eight months of interviews, letters of recommendation and essays were definitely worth it.” Torres expressed how the journey before the journey was challenging. “I basically had to do it all on my own,” she said, adding that the educational

program was not connected to the school. The scholarship offered $25,000 for her to study abroad for one year. “I had to get comfortable with being away from home,” she said. Once she found out about the program, Torres selected Brazil. “I wanted a challenge!” She recalls having to learn Portuguese before she traveled to Brazil. “I thought I had picked up some phrases but when I first got there, all I knew was how to say thank you,” she said with a laugh. “It was hard trying to be patient because I wanted to know what people were saying and respond in the same way. I had to learn to stop comparing Portuguese to Spanish because it would only make me more confused. I was also open to corrections and criticism from friends and family.” Torres said she was grateful for her host family for helping her grasp the language with more ease.

“They allowed me to be who I am but also taught me who they were and the language,” she said. “The first night I was there, they had a dinner ready for me

and my room was decorated with a ‘Welcome Ivette’ banner. Torres did not have any trouble making friends and picking up the language in school. “Being the foreign student, the first week everyone wants to talk to you and get to know who you are, where you come from, help you out, etc.,” Torres recalled. Though the education was more complex and harder to keep up with at first, the students had a close relationship with their teachers at the school. “All of the subjects were taught in one classroom, there was no transitioning. It was frustrating to balance homework, friends and getting adjusted to my new environment at first but everything worked out because of all the support I received,” she said. And how could she forget her favorite Brazil experience volunteering at the orphanage and playing with children with special needs after school. “We would just hang out, play games, do art and watch them go to therapy every day. They were so sweet,” she said with a smile. For the kids who needed extra supplies, she was able to organize and collect donations. “It was very successful. I was able to bring 15 students to the orphanage to surprise them with their gifts,” she said. Now back at school, Torres spends her time filling out college applications. Her host family surprised her with plans to visit in November. After graduation, her goal is to attend Brown University, major in Pre-Med and then go to medical school to become a general surgeon for “Doctors Without Borders.”


NEW YORK FASHION WEEK Story by Margo Whitley


he Whitley twins took New York Fashion Week by storm. I traveled to New York with my twin sister Maddie Whitley and got the amazing opportunity to walk in a show. I never thought I could ever achieve something so big, especially after only modeling for such a short amount of time. My sister has been modeling for almost two years but I only recently signed to an agency. The day I signed with the Page Parkes Center of Modeling Acting, Page told me that I would be joining my sister in walking at New York Fashion Week. Immediately, nerves flooded my system as I had only been modeling for four days. My first-ever show would be what most models only dream of. I was so happy and blessed to be receiving opportunities like this and I’m only 17. My sister and I packed our bags and flew up to New York. Together, my sister The Whitley twins, along with junior Colby Anderson, had the opportunity to model during New York’s Fashion Week.


and I worked with Cesar Galindo and Toni Whitaker in The Collaborative, an event with both designer’s creations featured for the spring and summer of 2019. The looks were so colorful and lively, and together my sister and I wore electric blue dresses. Teams of hair and makeup artists, stylists, shoe designers, jewelry designers, and of course, Cesar and Toni themselves, flooded into the fitting room and all helped create amazing shows. My family and I stayed a few extra days in New York after the show - not only to celebrate but to explore. This trip was the best experience and I would not trade it for the world. I’m looking forward to many more.

Houts explores possible career in law enforcement Story by Morgan Rosenbaum


mir Houts is more than just your average student. A senior, Houts also participates in the Police Explorers program through the Houston Police Department. Police Explorers is a program for teenagers and young adults from ages 14 to 21, that provides basic training and life skills to those interested in pursuing careers in law enforcement. Houts’ motivation for joining the program was two-fold. He wanted to finish what his father started and he received an invitation from his girlfriend who has been in the program for four years. “My dad did not get a chance to finish the academy so I wanted to accomplish a goal my dad did not have the opportunity to do,” the senior said. Houts has been in the pro-

gram for around five months and plans to stay on until the program ends at age 21. As a part of the Explorers program, he has the opportunity to participate in ride-alongs, national events and community service projects, allowing participants to give back to their communities through their involvement. “I’ve benefited because it helps with my schedule a lot and it gives me a lot of discipline when it comes to doing things and being on time,” Houts said. According to Houts, a major part of the program lies in competition. Each station sends explorers to state, citywide and national competitions two or three times per year, to compete in challenges involving quick thinking and response to scenarios. Houts explains these scenarios can include mock traffic stops, suspected DUI stops and mock domestic disturbance cases.

Judging of these competitions is based on the explorer’s response to the situations and their ability to find evidence, correctly charge and correctly arrest those involved. “The program helps with personal life, being on task and scheduling,” Houts said, adding his newfound respect for police officers and knowledge about police work and careers in law enforcement. Houts said, “I think it’s a great thing. Some people may not be built for it but I would advise people to just try it and see if they like it.” The senior said he plans to become a firefighter while in college, with aim to become a police officer once he graduates. This way, Houts says he will be able to get CPR and medical certification before joining the force. With

this early introduction into the world of law enforcement, he hopes he is on his way to a long career as an officer.




arlane is the newest member of the Lamar family.


She is a friend to many and a help to many

Marlane is the 12-year-old greyhound brought on campus to help students with anxiety issues. Dr. Christina Navarro said she adopted Marlane for the purpose of working with students. “I needed a therapy dog that could work with teenagers. We did some work to find the right dog and she was the one,” said Dr. Christina, as she is known to many.

“I deal with students who tend to be very behind academically; often times that comes with outside problems. Simply seeing Marlane brought an entire change of mood,” Lozano said. “Curiosity from seeing her calm demeanor gave them a sense of comfort. Marlane was definitely a much-needed break and cause for curiosity!” Having Marlane on campus brings some normalcy to students while they are at school, Dr. Christina said. “Many students have dogs at home and so it helps students connect back with regular life outside of first period through eight periods,” Dr. Christina said. Marlane’s calming and warm presence puts many students at ease.

Dr. Christina has been working in Communities in Schools for three years now as a therapist for students and parents. Marlane was adopted four years ago and last year Dr. Christina said she asked former principal Dr. James McSwain if she could bring Marlane on campus to work with students. “She’s very calm and she helps students who are particularly stressed out, anxious or having a bad day,” Dr. Christina explained. “She helps students regulate themselves and stay calm.” Milton Lozano’s class was just one of many classes that Marlane has visited.


“I think that in the right context, this can be very positive. Students deal with a wide range of issues - Marlane simply being there and calm can help with that,” Lozano said.


Marlane is not just for comforting students with anxiety or other social issues but she also helps students get over their fear of

“Marlane is a good teacher herself. She’s able to help students who might have some fears get over those fears about dogs,” Dr. Christina said. No matter where Marlane goes - whether she’s walking down the halls or comforting students in CIS, she always manages to make people smile.

Texans roll up their sleeves to give the gift of life Story by Alexander Landwoski


taff and students became faces for life at the recent school blood drive. Many did not think twice before rolling up their sleeves to donate. For more than two weeks, student council members scoured the lunch room to sign-up fellow students, who were at least 17 years old, to give blood. They also created posters and signs for the blood drive, and issued related announcements. It’s really nice because we get to save people’s lives,” said Ashley Nyugen, Student Council president. “One pint of blood saves three people’s lives.” With the significance of the Houston Medical Center and its proximate location to this school, it makes for a good partnership, according to Student Council advisor Ryan Beaudoin. “I think the blood drive is a really great way to coordinate community service with an outside group and bring them into the school,” Beaudoin said. Having M.D. Anderson as a partner has special personal importance for Beaudoin, as his father-inlaw has been receiving treatment there for kidney cancer. The drive was a success, although this was the first of three blood drives held this school year. Students appeared eager to give. “We love being able to give back to the community and help others,” said Vice President Olivia Lavorini. “It’s just really meaningful to give back to someone!” Seniors Elizabeth Norman and Jereth Lepeur agreed. “I wanted to donate blood because I’ve always wanted to help save (people). It was rewarding because I know that I was able to save three lives,“ Norman said. Lepeur said, “It felt comforting knowing that my blood would be utilized to help save lives and aid in the fight against cancer.”



Story by Madeleine House

ttention seniors – This is your senior year and you have work to do!

In an effort to alleviate stress and senioritis, college corner coordinator Carol Sue Granger-Ling offered advice to the class of 2019. “Students should make sure that all necessary credits are received and/or made up through online courses,” Ling advised. In regards to earning scholarships, director of college corner Mahmood Mansoor said, “Applying for scholarships is a long-term process. Luckily we have access to hundreds of scholarships.” In May, no senior should be surprised they do not have all of the required credits to graduate. Ling and Mansoor responed to frequently asked questions: Q- If I plan to go to community college first, is the process similar or different to applying to a four-year university? A- “It is the same. On applytexas.org, you would use the same application, however you would select “two-year school” instead of a “four-year university.” There will be a drop-down box to select which community college.” Q- How do I know if I qualify for financial aid? A- “Financial Aid applications will open October 1st. It is the Free Application for Student Aid (FAFSA). You can complete an application after October 1st at fafsa.ed.gov. You will complete the student part, your parents will complete the parent part, and that information will be sent to the schools you have applied to. They will then send you a financial aid package, determining whether you qualify for grants.” Q- What are some of the ways I can receive scholarships?


CORNER A- “Students get the most resource from the A- “I would do a career search. Decide what schools that accept them. The bigger the school, career you’re interested in and then look for the older the school, the more schools that offer that career.” scholarships they have to Q- What should I expect in a offer. Then, sometimes you “One of the greatest myths college interview? can apply for scholarships that our students have, not with your college application just seniors but all students, is A- “What you can bring is to that university. The other knowledge about that school. a prejudice against two-year way would be through inDo your research, do your schools. Students don’t realize homework. Look up the dependent scholarships, for that, for their money, the best school. If you can, talk to instance, Coca-Cola, Dell, “bang for their buck” is a two- someone that attends the then they would send it to year school. Take the basics school now. Have good questhe school, to the office of admissions, the scholarship and save the money to save tions from being well-versed money.” for a four-year school of your or informed. Q- How do I find a college or university that is best for me?


-Carol Sue Granger-Ling


“I stayed so long because I enjoyed it here. I really enjoyed the diversity and it helped me grow as a person.” Story by Amin Abou-Gallala


ore than three decades of excellence… Tom Nolen’s span at the clipboard lasted the average age of two high school students. Many will say he is the golden standard of consistency and excellence, leading Lamar to 31 playoff appearances in 33 years, 20 UIL district titles and 307 UIL wins. Nolen’s retirement came unexpected but it also came at an appropriate time. The roster was young and had plenty of room to grow, which indicated to Nolen that a head coach adjustment right now was much easier to implement. “I miss the kids at school, especially the football players… I also miss the guys that I worked with,” Coach Nolen said. “But it takes a lot to do what I did, physically and emotionally. I just felt like I wasn’t on my A-game anymore, so it was time for me to go.” Adjustment to retirement has been a challenge for Coach Nolen, as he continues to find new projects and

a new purpose to his life. He has been heavily involved in the financing and landscaping of the new athletic facilities. “My days are busier than I thought they would be,” Nolen said of his retirement. “I’ll do my workout, talk to the trainer, stop for an iced tea and kolache and then head home to work on a crosswordpuzzle. I looked up and saw it was 9:30 and then wondered what I would do next. I may say I’m sorry I got out.” He also had high praise for the new principal. “She showed a lot of class when she congratulated the new coach on his first win against a big team like the Woodlands,” Coach said. “Our school is in good hands with her.” With or without retirement, Coach Nolen continues to heighten the culture of Lamar through his creative approach on the future. As he showed gratitude for the resources that Dr. McSwain supplied his coaching staff, he mentioned his strive to build better facilities and better careers for athletes. Tom Nolen’s three golden decades with Lamar will be recognized and remembered for ages. His impact on Lamar football is immeasurable and remarkable. Even after his departure, he continues to contribute to the community of Lamar and strengthen his legacy as one of the greatest coaches this city, if not this state, has ever seen. His presence in the history of Lamar is permanent and incredibly well-deserving. As for his successor, Coach Mike Lindsey, again he had nothing but praise. “I felt inside that Mike could do the job. In fact when he returned to Lamar from Alabama, I told Dr. McSwain, you just hired your next football coach,” Nolen said. “I’m really happy for the kids. He is most deserving.”

A legend bids farewell to the game he loves so much


Lindsey takes the snap and runs with it


t’s easy to think of football coaching legends. Vince Lombardi, Tom Landry and Bear Bryant are all names well-known to the average football fan. The individuals who replaced them generally are not; however, former coachTom Nolen said he saw potential in his replacement, Coach Mike Lindsey, when he was first hired here. Realizing the high expectations here, Lindsey embraces the opportunity and has been excited for the challenge despite the large shoes to fill. “High expectations are good because we want people to expect great things,” said Lindsey. And thus far, Lindsey is not disappointing as the Texans sporting a 3-0 district record. Born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia, Coach Lindsey played football at Lakeside High School, a school which he compares favorably with Lamar. Under the tutelage of his father as his coach, he followed a successful high school career playing at Auburn University, where he graduated in 2002. Lindsey is following a similar path as his own father who had also taken over for a legendary coach in Georgia. “I’ve drawn upon my dad’s knowledge and experience, asking him questions for help,” Lindsey said. Besides that, he had the luxury of having Coach Nolen mentor him throughout this transitional process. Determined to follow the Coach Nolen model, Lindsey is off and running with the focus of putting his players first. “The decisions we make, their well-being, their futures...the players need to be thought of - first and foremost,” he said. He is also adopting the policy of viewing the entirety of the high school football program being supported from grades 9-12. “We put a lot of effort into our freshman program,

developing kids from that early age. We want to be a program that welcomes middle school kids in as ninth graders and develop them as players and as students,” Lindsey explained. According to Coach Lindsey the greatest strength of the 2018 edition of the Texans is the defensive line. “We’ve got six or seven really good players that we can rotate in to play,” he said. He’s also very pleased with the leadership of this team, particularly that coming from the senior class. The young skill position players provide a reason for great optimism for this year and going forward. In his opinion, inexperience at some key positions and lack of depth are the two main causes for concern for the team. “We don’t have tons of players at each position,” he said. “So, if a guy goes down and gets injured, we don’t have a lot of depth to back up those players.” Watching the players succeed and accomplish things that they never thought they could do, are the single elements that bring Lindsey the greatest joy as a coach. Taking over for a legend is a small price to pay for that joy.

Story by Alexander Landowski

“I’ve drawn upon my dad’s knowledge and experience, asking him questions for help.”


In Sports...





he varsity tennis team won the district tournament, defending their title for the sixth year. They beat Bellaire High School 10-1 and Westside High School 10-3. “It was amazing to see everyone come together and cheer for each other. We were so excited and just putting our best foot forward was really fun,” senior and captain of the girls’ team Natalie Butler said. Coach Jeremy Davison had nothing but praise for his team. “As the tennis head coach, I am very proud of this year’s team. They have been a very resilient bunch. They come together and are playing very well. They have a good chemistry with each other. They’re a fairly young this year. We have a team we’re going to bring back next year. We’re very excited for everything they’re doing this year. They’re playing really hard, training hard and they’re putting in a lot of effort,” Coach Davison said. “I would definitely like to say congratulations to the team and I’m very proud of the success that they were able to accomplish - knowing where we started and where we are now and how they have come together as a team. “Given the fact that tennis is an individual sport - but to be able to play together and understand the team dynamic is something that is very difficult and the team has done a very good job at coming together and understanding that,” he added.

On court for historic Bellaire battle Story by Jemma Leech


s the end of the fall sports season approaches, Fall 2018 is already one for the record books. The varsity volleyball team beat their arch-rivals, Bellaire, for the first time ever or at least in recent memory. Lamar turned around the score of the teams’ last district meeting by winning in five sets—22-25, 25-19, 9-25, 27-25, 15-13. “We have been close to accomplishing this goal, having lost in five sets two other times recently. I felt if we went to five sets, we would get the outcome we


have hoped and trained for,” head coach Doug Jackson said. Varsity captain and setter Kirsty Leech said this match felt different. “It definitely felt different this time, especially at the beginning of the fifth set, when there was a real shift of energy. That was when we attacked Bellaire and they just had no response,” Leech explained. “We could see their heart wasn’t in it and they’d lost their confidence - although they all did a

great job in making sure that nothing was certain until the very last points.” Outside hitter Brianna Johnson said the win was so special because it meant so much to all the players. “We knew what the win meant for us and that if we gave it all we had, we had a chance to win. This win signifies that our program has risen up from how we were perceived a couple of

years ago and even before then - into a program that deserves respect,”

Johnson said. Leech agreed. “A lot of us have been on varsity for most of our time at Lamar, so it was important for the seniors to get their turn at a win,” she said. “For us seniors who had been on JV as freshmen, it came full circle, because that’s the only other time a Lamar team has beaten Bellaire.”


TAKEOVER Story by Ashleigh Arrington


uarterback Troy Tisdale describes his football season in two words – “THE TAKEOVER.” The junior who became this year’s face of the team says, “It’s a lot of pressure. I feel as if it’s me for everything. I’m in charge – it’s my field and it’s easy to adapt to once you love a sport as much as I love football.” When the team took the field against Westfield High School, Tisdale said he was nervous. “It was simple. I couldn’t go out there and quit at halftime,” he recalled. “I had to focus on the second half.” Standing in the shadows of former quarterback Ty Holden, Tisdale said he learned a lot. “I looked up to Holden as a sophomore, having to fight and prove that he should be positioned as varsity team quarterback, so I did the same,” Tisdale said. “It’s been hard but I had to keep it up for my team.” Tisdale explained how he prepared for this season. “I worked out tremendously, going to the neighborhood park with friends and playing football using my arm strengths,” the junior said. “I embraced my new head coach and was I ready for action.” Tisdale said he likes to “go hard” for his team nevermind what the scoreboard looks like. “Win or lose, they are my guys. You win some; you lose some,” he said. “I have to work on not taking my anger out on myself after a loss. I have to take that anger out in the game and bring home a win.” What keeps the quarterback motivated? “The motivation came from my older brother that passed away,” Tisdale said. “He loved playing football so I also wanted to play in remembrance of my brother. My brother and I didn’t see eye to eye all the time but I always had his back as he had mine. I wish I could show him how much I have accom-

plished with football and more. “Everything I do is for my brother. I know he’s smiling at me now in the clouds,” he said with a smile. Head coach Mike Lindsey describes his quarterback as a “dual threat.” “Troy is a dynamic player. He has done a great job of learning the offense and and has progressed into making the plays we need him to make. He makes good, short throws, has a great release and is a great runner with the ball and uses his feet well,” Lindsey said. “Troy’s weakness is that he is inexperienced and has not had a lot of varsity game experience; but that will come with time.”


Story by David Castaneda

China trip transforms perceptions



unior Joel Tang and sophomore Maxwell Lewis had nothing but good vibes following their trip to China this summer. Along with soccer coach Jeremy Davison and his family, the duo embarked on what they called a “life-changing” trip – integrating with the Chinese community and visiting many different attractions like the Forbidden City or the Terracotta Warriors. “I applied for the scholarship that Lamar offers us and I got it which was why I had the opportunity to go to China” Tang said. “I was able to visit different cultural sites and cities around the entire northern part and central part of China. I first started off in Beijing where we visited the Summer Palace, the Temple of Heaven and the Forbidden City . We also visited some shopping centers.” Coach Davison said the trip just sort of fell on his lap. “The original sponsor had some personal issues. Given that I had some experience with this trip 17 years ago (when) I was on one of the original student exchange trips. It brought some nostalgia and I wanted to be a part of this trip,” Davison explained. “We saw a lot of sights and sounds and met a lot of people. We really had a great time learning history and seeing artifacts.” What attracted Davison and the students was China’s great culture. “One of the things that’s really amazing is that it’s so old. The one thing that always really amazes me is the Great Wall of China. I’ve seen it now three times and it never gets old,” he said with a laugh. “We learned that discipline is something that is big in the culture in China – throughout the society. Hospitality is probably top

notch. People there are so nice and so accommodating to outside travelers. “Even my daughter was very popular over there, she was like a little celebrity; and Max, with his red hair, gained a lot of attention and that’s a difference – and we find that our differences make you stand out and make you unique,” Davison said. “And as for me, with my skin color, I stand out in their homogeneous society. That was cool to see how your differences are viewed.” Learning to communicate was a valuable lesson Lewis recalled. “A whole different way of life” is how Maxwell described his stay in the Chinese Community. “ I learned how to write calligraphy, some Chinese words, how to meditate and a lot of negotiating skills with markets,” he said. “I learned to open my mind and realize that we are not the center of the world and there’s so much stuff beyond that we don’t get to see and is important. Maxwell said that meditating helped him feel more relaxed. Maxwell also said he learned how to say “Hi” and “You’re pretty” (when talking to girls) in Chinese. Davison said he would really like to grow this program in the future. I would love to grow this program and get it back to where it was when I first started when we had around 33 people going. Hopefully we can get it back to those numbers again. I think the one biggest factor is the cost, getting the cost down for everyone to travel, getting passports and Visas, being prepared,” he said. “I think the biggest aspect of what you’re doing is to show that it’s not a different world. It’s not much different to us here. The culture is just different. This is an annual event as far as the program we have established here at Lamar.”

Story by Mykel Wheaton


breathing pattern while running,” junior Bryce Cox said. “With all the of the competition that goes on within my team, I just try to keep up with Camilo and Willmore.” Senior Camilo Meisel agreed. “I continue to run more and more and try to maintain a healthy and consistent meal and workout plan,” Meisel said. “I’ve been beating Will Moore-Jones by a pretty good amount throughout the season, now he’s kind of giving me a challenge.” Coach Jerry Martinez said his team runs about 12 miles a week – in an effort to be prepared for the meets. It has paid off. “At the Seven Lakes Meet, Camilo placed 7th, Bryce placed 13th and Will Moore-Jones was one of top finishers for the team,” Martinez said. “I hope Camilo makes it to state meet. As for the team, (I


ross country runners’ hard work paid off this season. At the district meet, the varisty, JV and freshman boys team all placed first, while both the varsity and JV girls placed fourth. The varsity boys will advance to regionals. “I’ve been training a lot harder this year with the top varsity guys, trying to get more miles in and also improving my

hope) they finish in the top 6 at region which would require everyone to run their best.” Coach Jenalle Kamla said she too is very pleased with the girls’ showing this season. “My sophomores and freshmen girls have come in and have done a great job of replacing the seniors that left and overall the upperclassmen are doing a good job by dropping their running times,” Coach Kamla said. Determined and anxious are the two words junior Megan Duffy used to describe herself on race day. “First is anxious, second is I get nervous if people pass me but then I get this adrenaline rush and start to feel determined and then I just give the rest of the race my all,” Duffy said.


ome members of Lamar’s water polo team got to train with some of the best at a recent camp in North Texas. Water polo players Annika Long, Lilly Knipe, Maddie Baird and Abbey Thorne participated in the North Texas Dream Gold Water Polo Camp in Keller, TX. The camp featured coaching from USA women’s water polo olympians Courtney Mathewson (2-time Gold Medalist 2012, 2016); Kelly Rulon (2-time Olympian 2004; 2012) and Kami Craig (3-time Olympian 2008, 2012, 2016). “They trained us how they would train themselves for a week,” Knipe said. “I also learned how to do more skill sets in the water and I learned how to manage sports with school and friends.” Knipe said she was happy she and some of her teammates got to attend the camp. “I thought It was pretty helpful because they didn’t just teach us about water polo, they encouraged us to always reach out for help even if it isn’t about water polo,” Knipe said.


B READY FOR A NEW N SEASON D T his year’s marching band is made up of more than 115 students with one common goal: *making it to the state-wide competition. Band directors Donnie Christian and Aaron Stickley plan to go further than they have ever gone before by pushing the boundaries of what a marching band can be with a production like no other. “A lot of the activity has gone more towards theater instead of this militaristic style of marching,” Stickley said. “While you’ll see a lot of traditional marching stuff in it, you’ll also see a lot of theatrical things as well and I think that’s really going to push the envelope for what we can bring to the table.” The new show entitled “The Other Side” is one of the most extravagant shows the band had ever pulled off with the new choreography and massive props. But with stepping out of their comfort zone comes having to work even harder to perfect their new routine. “We’ve been having a lot more practice and we’ve been practicing a lot harder than we usually would,” drum major Beverly Hughes said. “We practice Monday, Tuesday and Thursday until seven. Not to mention that we’ve been practicing from eight to four since summer.” Their efforts to improve themselves have already seen great impact, especially with the new approach the band is taking with their show.


Story by Anothony Luna

“We’ve been working a lot. We got out on the field really early so we have a lot of our show down already,” drum major Anthony Granados said. “We already have the first two movements. We are way ahead of where we were last year so I think we’ll do way better in competitions than we did last year. Plus, we’ve already seen a great improvement. I think this year we are just trying to place higher in area.” For the band, competitions validate the hard work they have put in all year; however winning is not meant to be the most valued part of their experiences. “At the competitions, we get a score and we want to get a one, but it’s really not what we are doing it for,” drum major Andrew Rubio said. “We do band because it’s something we enjoy. We enjoy each other. It’s a family to us so even if we don’t get as high of a score like we wanted to, it doesn’t matter because that’s not the reason we are here.” Band is more about the connects you make with the people around you but that doesn’t stop the group from achieving their best. “They don’t settle for anything less than their best,” Stickley said. “I truly believe that this band does not want to just stay at good. They want to be great at it. That has kind of been our mantra for this year so far and I think they’re really buying into that.”

Houston Scene


Story by Aylin Alhazimi

f you’re looking for a good movie suggestion, try heading over to Singapore. Crazy Rich Asians is the most anticipated romantic-comedy worldwide. The movie itself depicts the hardships one faces when choosing between love and family. Author Kevin Kwan was the first to introduce us to the story, and with an all Asian cast, the movie is making waves in the film community. The plot begins with Rachel Chu, played by Constance Wu, an economics professor at NYU, and her boyfriend, Nick Young, played by Henry Golding. Nick, the son of a well-known Singaporean developer, invites Rachel to his cousin’s wedding to meet his family. Rachel is the first girl Nick has brought home, creating animosity between her and Eleanor, Nick’s mother. The cast members are each unique in their own ways and fit the atmosphere of the film. Peik Lin, played by Awkwafina, was the funniest character. The actors and actresses compliment the roles they played to make the film interesting and unique. Overall, this movie will exceed your expectations, as there is so much going on, it’s hard to keep up. Crazy Rich Asians is one of those movies that you’d want to watch repeatedly. It’s just that good!


Story by Kayleigh Holcombe


ore than 70,000 excited members and affiliates of the “Beyhive” packed the NRG arena to witness the Queen (Beyoncé Giselle Knowles Carter) and Jay-Z (Shawn Corey Carter) grace the city of Houston for On the Run II. The married stars are circling the globe for their second tour together and recently landed in Houston for the duo’s 40th and 41st performances. Before the dynamic couple made their entrance, famed R&B duo and sisters Chloe x Halle performed several of their most popular R&B songs (Grown, The Kids Are Alright, Happy without Me, and others). After an amazing performance, popular producer and recording artist DJ Khaled took the stage and entertained the crowd by performing several of his most famous songs, including I’m on One, All I Do is Win, I’m the One and several others. Khaled introduced several native-Houstonian rappers during his set, including Paul Wall, Scarface, Z-RO, Bun B and several others. Witnessing the local artists perform was a refreshing reminder of the amazing Houston talent. Beyoncé and Jay-Z really outdid themselves and left the crowd eager for an On the Run III. The diversity of the audience, energy in the room and sold-out shows are proof that this duo is one of the best to ever do it.



Profile for LamarLife

Lamar Life - October 2018  

Lamar High School -Houston, TX

Lamar Life - October 2018  

Lamar High School -Houston, TX


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