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January 2020 Volume 3


Art students prepare for the Scholastic competition Pg. 11



Students who have gone viral through the social media app that’s taking over Pg. 14

Basketball prepares for upcoming season Pg. 31



Astrofest: The Good, The Bad, The Glory



Band takes home firstplace trophy at Nationals


Order On The Court: Inside the life of a varsity tennis star

Lauren Koong Editor in Chief Lily Barrow John Cypher Sade Dozier Jillian Gonzalez Mason Hartley Ethan Martinez Julia McCabe


Volleyball finishes their season strong


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

Blythe Chandler Assistant Editor Georgia Polydoros Sean Pracht Diana Ramirez Sophia Rassin Mikayla Scholz Kathryn Stone Manon del Vecchio Lamar Life are student publications of Lamar High School, an IB World School. The purpose 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 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.

Sophia Rassin, Lamar Life

FFA members share the buzz on beekeeping


hen you think of Future Farmers of America (FFA), you might think of cows and chickens. But unbeknownst to many here, there is one very important animal the group raises that has not gotten the recognition it deserves. The school’s beekeeping branch of FFA has been in existence for five years now. “It started when one girl specifically wanted to do it and I told her I don’t see why not and it has grown so much ever since then,” animal science teacher Elisa Infante said. Around 15 of the students participating in FFA go out to a farm twice a month to help take care of the bees. “They go out, check on the hives, make sure they are healthy and everything inside the hives is functioning and that there is no bacteria, fungus or ants that have invaded the hive and would disturb the bees,” Infante said. Senior Annalise Vanderwater has been a part of the program for two years now. “I think that beekeeping is a really

important thing that needs to grow in the world,” Vanderwater said. Vanderwater is one of the few students who has her own hive at home. “It is really fun to be able to say that you have bees at your house, especially in this area and being able to go through the process and see the results of the fresh honey,” she said. Junior Lisa Rollinson is starting her third year of the program here. “I have been very passionate about entomology and so I really like insects and stuff like that and I think it’s so cool that they have such complex social systems and they switch out jobs. It is really fun to learn about,” Rollinson said. You do come out with a fresh batch of honey but bee keeping is not always so rewarding. “You have to go at the right time. I once went when it was windy and raining and the bees just get so upset, so I got 11 stings,” Rollinson said.

The beekeeping program has grown from just two hives to 14 hives this year and has a large future in front of them. “I am excited to see how much honey we can get out of them because last year we were able to pull 60 pounds out of five hives so we should be able to pull 2.5 times as much honey from the hives this year,” Infante said. Make sure to support the beekeeping program’s hard work in the spring and buy a jar of fresh honey!


Ethan Martinez, Lamar Life

Graves aim to put students’ minds at ease following school threat


s students and staff enjoyed a two-week winter break, they were faced with a vicious threat from an anonymous account going by “will_issorryyall” only three days before returning. Although Rita Graves’ initial reaction was worry, the experienced principal remained composed and figured out what was the best way to prepare for the potential shooting. “I was worried but then you have to balance that with the action that needs to happen. My immediate reaction was I worried about the fear people were going to have but I also knew we had a very strong police department that would figure it out and keep us safe,” Graves explained. With the layout of the new building, she felt prepared for the threat and ensuring the safety of students and faculty. “I knew it was going to be easier for us to monitor every exit and entrance than it would’ve been while the school was under construction. When the school’s under construction and people are going all kind of places, you know that it’s a little more difficult to manage,” she said. Unfortunately, Graves couldn’t give much more information on the threat that


happened but did confirm that three separate agencies were involved, including the FBI. Despite serious consequences the student who made the threat could face, this is not the first time this has

posting online that you just don’t have. Anytime you post something, you need to know it will be around forever and someone will know it’s you,” Graves said sternly. Anxiousness ran through the school on January 6 and it was Graves’ job to ensure the safety of the students and staff, which she did, with the help of the Houston Police Department. “Every time I turned the corner that morning, I saw a police officer. I’m confident we had enough. I think we are in a time in our country where those are very frightening things to manage and I will say our teachers did an amazing job,” she said. “I’m really grateful for our teachers because they came in and demonstrated incredible grace and strength.” With a rising popularity of school shootings across the nation, Graves knew how to act and deal with the . threat with ease. Many here have also noticed that happened here or other American the size of the school, combined with schools and Graves had a message to many empty buildings, have caused those who want to follow that path. less supervision, leading to students “I think we need to stop and think “participating in risky behavior,” inbefore we post things on social media. cluding the entire east building reeking I think kids feel a bit of safety when of marijuana at one point. Graves is

“Unfortunately, when

kids make the wrong choice, that becomes the headline. It’s how the narrative is framed. You tell your story or someone else will ”

“I’m really grateful for

our teachers

because they came in and demonstrated incredible grace and strength.” aware of this and has a message to students who decide to take this route. “I can’t control the decisions that other people make but I can influence them. Starting in January, they’re going to start taking down the temporary buildings and start taking down the east building which will put us all in the same building which will help us with monitoring,” Graves explained. It has been a struggle monitoring every room - new and old - on campus. “There are areas that are simply hard to supervise. We know students needed to go to the temporary buildings but we can’t walk you there and we have to trust you’ll make the right decisions,” the second-year Lamar principal said. With a massive school comes various amounts of exits but Graves has cut a lifeline that many students who commit truancy depend on to pass through high school. “A lot of kids use credit appeal as a safety net so they feel more comfortable doing things like skipping class and not doing homework but we are shutting that down. Any semester prior to this, the last opportunity to clear something through credit appeal was Dec. 14, 2019,” she said. Graves believes that once everyone is contained in the same building, discipline issues will be a thing of the past and she even has stats to prove this. Last year, Lamar gave out 38 suspensions compared to this year only eight as of December 6. “I think the neighborhoods are a significant part of that. They’re more adults who have better relationships with kids. I think a general improvement of school culture has helped discipline issues decrease a lot because kids are finding themselves engaged in things and when you’re busy with stuff you love, it’s a lot easier to make good choices,” Graves pointed out. When asked if there was enough staff here, Graves took a different approach to the answer.

“We have to balance supervision and safety with also a sense of growing independence. You guys are in a critical place developmentally where you need to have opportunities to make decisions,” Graves said. “If we are locking you down like you’re in a prison, you don’t have those opportunities to grow and develop.” Graves knows that having someone monitor 180 cameras is almost impossible, so she utilizes the cameras in a distinct way. “The question is, how often do you want someone looking at cameras? The cameras serve as a deterrent so when you’re getting ready to make a choice, you’ll probably be on camera when you do it,” she said. Graves broke down the harsh reality. “Unfortunately, when kids make the wrong choice, that becomes the headline. It’s how the narrative is

framed. You tell your story or someone else will. There are times when kids make mistakes that somebody else tells their story and it’s not the story you and I can be proud of,” Graves explained. So, where does this leave us? “Once we hit January and we get rid of the exterior buildings, it’s no longer a money issue. Right now, it’s a time issue and after January it will be a people issue. To emphasize, I mean that people have to make the decision that we’re going to hold each other accountable to a higher standard,” Graves said. But Graves could not emphasize more the final message she wants her students to remember forever. “I told you guys last year, and I meant it. Your safety is in danger when you’re not where you’re supposed to be. In every one of those incidents last year, there was an issue of kids being where they were supposed to be. It just broke my heart. It broke my heart to see,” she said.

WHAT DO YOU THINK? Do you feel safe now since everyone is together in the new school? “Normally I feel safe because I trust my friends and I also feel like my teachers are doing a good job protecting us in the neighborhoods.” Do you think Ms. Graves is doing a good job of making students safe? “Yes, I think so. I personally don’t know her that well but I do trust her and so I know that she is probably doing everything she can to help the school and make sure nothing happens. And even if something does happen, I believe she will make it safe for us.”

Mallika Khurana

Do you feel safe now since everyone is together in the new school? “Maybe yes, because it’s better to be a newer building where everyone is in one place but also there’s open areas, so there could be dangerous areas too.” Do you think Ms. Graves is doing a good job of making students safe? “Yeah, I think she is doing a pretty good job. She could do better by having more police on campus to make students feel safe.” Alex Koong


Kathryn Stone, Lamar Life

Brothers band together to entertain


hen it comes to making music, these brothers know how to do it. Sophomore Gavin Gonzalez and senior Cristian Gonzalez are in Ørion, a band they started with their two friends Jason Torres and Victor Perez three years ago. “Technically we started three years ago,” said Gavin. “But we didn’t really pick it up until last year.” Gavin plays the drums while Cristian plays the guitar and sings, though Cristian started out playing bass. “My main instrument is actually the bass,” said Cristian. “My main instrument is the bass guitar but in the band I play rhythm guitar and sing because I feel like it’s easier for me to lead the band that way.” Ørion has played in various festivals and has played White Oak Music Hall twice. “The first time we played on the main stage. That was bigger because there was a bunch of people there,” said Cristian. Ørion plays shows at least once a month and they have shows lined up for the rest of this year, such as White Oak for the third time in January. Playing on stage and with friends is part of what makes Ørion so fun for the Gonzalez brothers. “We’re best friends and we’ve been playing together for a


long time so we get really into it and we can communicate without even talking,” said Gavin. “It’s crazy.” The chemistry between the bandmates makes every performance special. “I feel like we have really good chemistry,” Cristian said. “I feel like every time we play our chemistry gets stronger.” Performing allows the brothers and their fellow bandmates to do what they love to do. “I love performing. Playing songs that I wrote and actually being able to make something and then play it for people and for them to enjoy - it is really nice,” Cristian said. Their band is not the only group the brothers “We’re best friends and play music for. “I play the we’ve been playing drums at my together for a long time church and at so we really get into it Young Life,” Gavin said. and we can communicate Cristian without even talking.” plays bass at their church, the Gavin Gonzalez Bridge Fellowship. “Yeah I played bass for my church,” said Cristian. “In other things I do with friends, I usually play bass.” Ørion has a single out now on all streaming platforms entitled Voices and their debut album is currently in the works. “(The album release date) is kind of under wraps right now but yeah hopefully soon - I’ll just say that,” said Cristian. Follow the band’s Instagram account @_Orionofficial to stay updated on show dates, new songs and their upcoming album.

Olah lights up the dance floor for the crowd


aking it big in the music industry, Andras Olah dives right into pursuing his DJ career. “Being a DJ is just about sharing the music with others and hoping that they vibe with it,” Olah said. Olah wasn’t always into music up until his cousin showed him a track about five years ago and ever since, it has been something he loves. “Andras is originally from Hungary and there are a lot of DJs over there. He already was practicing DJing over there and then he came over here,” said Jackson Scott, one of Olah’s good friends. Ever since Olah found his passion for music, he has expanded his brand, even starting his own clothing line. “It’s a monochromatic logo, very simple but very good looking. The brand is called Godmode,” Olah said. But since Olah hasn’t found a factory to produce these items, instead he chooses makes them by hand. “I’ve made them by myself by using the printer. I first take the blank hoodie and get a specific vinel printer and I heat press it on,” Olah explained. But since he makes his own merch, only a few people own his clothing. “He sells the clothes he makes but he sells it over his social media,” Scott said. Being a DJ is not all Olah does. He’s a designer and he’s also a photographer. “I also do some video work. I try to do as much creative work as I can, always learning about something new and expanding my knowledge. If I don’t have the connections, I

Jillian Gonzalez, Lamar Life do it myself. Each category inspires the other too. The brand is for the culture therefore it’s not limited to all that, events clothes videos and photography. It culturally bringing people together for a good time.” Since Olah does so much, it can interfere with his school work from time to time. “I just get distracted often by focusing more on music. It’s like do I do my school work or music?” Olah said. Since the start of his new career, he noticed a shift in his life not only with his academics but especially a change in his social life as well. “I definitely have met new people. Networking and connecting between artists is really important - also being social helps with that and basically just putting yourself out there,” Olah said. Olaf had been looking forward to his new show at the White Oak Music Hall and looking to expand his career. “In the future, I am going to do DJ-ing for sure and expand my clothing line,” Olah said. Sophomore Ashley Avile said being at an Olah show is like being at a concert. “It’s like being at an actual concert even if there is just 10 people in a room and he is djing,” Avile said with a smile. “His music is amazing. He has great taste but if you want your own music, you can request it and he can mix it up with another type you like. “The crowd is always amazing. Everyone is vibing and you never know if you’ll find a new friend,” she added.


Astrofest Review


and Trae tha Truth. Newcomers like Maxo Kream and Megan Thee Stale came. We saw. We lion also took the stage. moshed! “I’m at home now,” Megan Thee With moments that felt like they Stallion said to the roaring crowd would last forever, my Astroworld during her set. crew, became a part of history. Hours Travis Scott is a legend in the before the festival, a stampede of making. “Raggers” (aka Travis Scott fans) bombarded the gates of NRG park - looting the outside with missing shoes, backpacks and party gear. Round two of Travis Scott’s Astroworld Fest was bound to be promising. Around 50,000 fans gathered at Houston’s NRG Park. Featuring many abstract art installations, carnival rides and a designated area for gamers equipped with vintage arcade games, there were activities for every member of the family. Scott has made many efforts to Truly bringing the city of Housgive back to his city, whether it be ton together once more, the line up referencing in a song, supporting is what really stood out this year. It local nonprofit organizations or putfeatured performances by Marilyn ting on Astro-Fest. He continuously Manson, Pharrell Williams and Play shows love to his hometown. Boi Carti alongside local legends As the chilly evening approached, like Slim Thug, Paul Wall, Lil Keke fans were greeted with a surprise


Sade Dozier, Lamar Life guest appearance by Dave Chappel. After a long day of celebrating the culture, the moment we all had been waiting for finally came. A movie on the front screen begins to play indicating a knee injury that Scott underwent a few weeks prior. Then suddenly, from the center of the stage, Scott arises strapped to an ambulance gurney - artistically referencing the power we possess to overcome our setbacks. Shortly after, Kanye West runs out onto the stage. He and Scott shared a long embrace. The crowd is overjoyed, closing the concert out by bouncing our heads to our favorite classic Kanye songs. The rest of the night was spent walking to our cars in muddy tennis shoes and smiling faces. With this year’s festival getting national attention, growing in size and the unwavering support of the city’s hiphop legends, Astroworld seems like it might be prepared for an annual event next year.

Astrofest leaves some upset

Mikayla Scholz, Lamar Life


ravis Scott’s Astroworld festival proved not to be all fun and games for everyone. A good number of students attended the festival; however, some were the unlucky ones who suffered from injuries. Sophomore Emma Childs planned on having a great time while going to the concert with her twin sister and friends. However she ended up passing out while Scott was performing. “I knew there were going to be crowds and I expected to be pushed but I didn’t expect to be knocked out,” Childs said. When a popular performer was on stage, the crowd got more physical and aggressive. “I was pushed against this guy and the kid that was shorter than me kept hitting my neck. I got dazed and confused and couldn’t see and then I just collapsed on the floor,” Childs recalled. A positive and safe effect on the amount of people at Astrofest was the amount of witnesses if someone fell; there was always someone in the crowd to tell everyone to back up and get help. “I felt safe because there was people watching it and a bunch of people around me were helping me,” said Childs with confidence. The news reported that the festival was extremely understaffed. As people collapsed and needed medical attention or needed help out of the crowds, there was hardly any assistance. It ended up being the crowd that would help the people instead of security. “Once I fell, this guy carried me out and then threw me on the floor and after I sat in

the front area and I called my mom using the police officer’s phone,” Childs said. Sophomore Davy Olivas had a similar experience. “My friends and I were towards the back and we could not really see so we decided to squeeze our way towards the front,” Olivas said. The front row was mainly V.I.P only but some managed to sneak through. “Once we were somewhat in the front row, we realized we made a mistake. It was so crowded I could not even pick my arms up. They were glued to our sides,” said Olivas with frustration. Unfortunately there were people who would refuse to assist those in need because they were too invested in the performer. “I was begging a man to pick

me up and lift me over the gate but he was hesitant so we continued to ask and eventually these men in the crowd lifted me up and had to crowd surf me out of the venue. Once I was near the railing to exit they dumped me over the gate so I could leave,” Olivas said. Olivas did not let the negative outweigh the fun she had at Astrofest. “I am absolutely coming back next year. I have learned my lesson so next year I know better to keep a fair amount of distance from the rowdy crowd,” Olivas said with a smile. When festivals like Astrofest come around, those who are attending need to anticipate the positive and negative outcomes of the event.


was happy with my work but it was not my best work.” Rodriguez’s passion for art began at a very young age. “When I was really little, about nine years old, I really liked to express myself and I was not the kind of person that talked a lot so I would express myself by drawing and coloring,” Rodriguez recalled. Her talent for art began to grow when she moved from Venezuela. “I started to paint more serious stuff when I got to the United States. I found out that the school had some art classes and I am taking them right now,” she said. Even though Rodriguez is a skilled artist, she is open to ideas from her classmates and teachers. “She is very receptive to suggestions and she has a lot of talent but she also listens to suggestions so she Mikayla Scholz, Lamar Life is making a lot of progress,” Stiles said. Rodriguez plans to extend her art rt teacher Robert Stiles career in the future when she goes to “The impression I got was that it had great confidence when Marineeded to celebrate hope, love and college. angela Rodriguez entered HISD’s “I want to study fashion design the season.” holiday art contest. Rodriguez was astonished when because it kind of works with a little It was a chance for her art to be she found out she was awarded first bit of art and sketch. If I can do seen by many. some courses about art I will do it,” place. “I thought she had a really good she said. “I felt really happy. I didn’t chance, even district wide with Rodriguez was awarded with her expect to win the holiday card. It 200,000 students,” said Stiles. holiday card was new to But Rodriguez wasn’t as sure displayed me. I also of her entry. The holiday card had was surprised around camspecific requirements in order to pus and in because there win first place. the Houston was a lot of “It could not be a religious card. really good Independent It needed to be a holiday card that artwork,” the School Discelebrated the season,” Stiles said. junior said. “I trict’s office.

Rodriguez wins the holiday greeting card contest


“I felt really happy. I didn’t expect to win the holiday card.”


Blythe Chandler, Lamar Life

Students prepare for Scholastic Art Show


ultiple higher-level art students are submitting their work to the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards. Art teacher Robert Stiles said the competition has been around for some time. “The Scholastic Art and Writing Award is one of the oldest creative awards specifically for high school students in the United States,” he said. “It’s been around for close to 100 years. It’s a national competition but there are district and regional levels going all the way up to the national competition.” Stiles is requiring his advanced classes, Art 2 and Art 3, to participate in the competition. “I think because there’s no theme and its open ended, students have a lot of freedom to do what’s important to them as far as expressing themselves,” said Stiles. “I think it’s a great vehicle for them to be able to convey themselves in their own unique way without the confines of a theme or a specific subject.” Junior Emilia Sterkel was excited to

participate in the competition. “I feel like when you’re in an art class, you don’t get a ton of opportunities to do stuff this open-ended,” said Sterkel. “I was really looking forward to being able to actually do something that I can completely come up with from scratch on my own.” The junior is doing a one-page digital comic to submit to the competition. “I did have brainstorm about the story a little at first because I already had this idea for a while, but I had to figure out what I wanted to do from the story specifically,” said Sterkel. “It’s set in a dystopian future and the comic portrays the characters finding something that represents finding freedom within their society, which isn’t very free.” Sophomore Rivaldo Ambriz’s skills were noticed by Stiles and was included in the competition. “I am using paper, pencils and

Sharpies to create something that I saw in my head,” said Ambriz. “I get to practice on hands and body anatomy and stuff like that.” The students are using different time management skills to complete their projects before the deadline. “Every day I try to set a specific goal for the part of the page I want to complete,” Sterkel said. “For example, one day I’ll color in a certain panel and then the next day I’ll do the detailing on it and stuff like that.” Stiles finds himself impressed with his student’s creations. “I have definitely been surprised by some of these kids for sure, absolutely,” he said. “With individual students, there’s always surprises. There’s a pretty good diversity of projects. I like to see that, despite our limited supplies.”


Survivor Rodriguez’ tiny car collection was key to his recovery Sean Pracht, Lamar Life


he giant collection all started with a toy NASCAR race car that was gifted to him when he was little. Since then, his collection has grown to more than 1,030. Angel Rodriguez’s collection is filled with various types of hot wheels. “I think my love for cars began when my mom’s friend gave me a little NASCAR when I was three years old,” Rodriguez recalled. “One day I decided to buy a DeLorean and I thought maybe I’ll conserve it and maybe it’ll be worth some money one day.” His collection is filled with various types and colors – red to purple, old and new, sports cars and trucks, he’s got them all. “Half of them were given to me during my stay in the hospital. The other half was back in Puerto Rico and the rest I bought them,” the sophomore explained. Rodriguez was hospitalized after being diagnosed with leukemia in 2015 back in Puerto Rico. He and his family moved to Texas to seek treatment. “I received a transplant in November 2017. Much of my time was spent in the hospital,” he said. “Family and friends and the Big Love Foundation bought me so many cars. It made me happy and it lifted my spirits.” Rodriguez used his collection to occupy his time during the lengthy hospital stay. “During this time, I met so many people – even Carlos Correa and Carlos Beltran when I was in Puerto Rico,” Rodriguez said as he swiped through his photo collection. “All of this helped take my mind off everything.” Even with more than a thousand different cars in his collection, he doesn’t plan to stop collecting anytime soon. “I think I will stop collecting when I spend all of my money or my mom gets fed up with me - but as of now - no I don’t plan on stopping,” he said.


Angel Rodriguez and his mother are excited after finding out the teen was in remission. Courtesy photo

Angel Rodriguez poses with then Astros player Carlos Correa during a hospital stay. Courtesy Photo

He plans to keep them until they are worth some value, then he’ll sell them. “I organize the cars on a spreadsheet from a computer at home by brand, such as Hot Wheels and Matchbox, then I sort them by make, model and year. As for storage, I usually store them in a box, but recently, I have been keeping them on a rack for storing items, to preserve them.” Out of the giant pile of cars however, he still has a favorite. “My favorite car would have to be my Toyota AE86 corolla. It’s black and white and has Japanese characters on the sides.” he said His collection sparks a lot of questions from people who are interested. “When people ask about my collection, they are usually surprised because I started only six years ago. When they find out about it, they want to ask more about it. Sometimes collectors ask if I have one of their cars and I check and see and it makes it a whole lot of fun.” he said. He loves cars, so his collection is perfect for his passion. “If I wasn’t collecting cars, I would maybe collect car magazines. I like music so maybe music or Legos,” he said. Even though he had a hard time battling leukemia, he won and found a new passion. He found joy in collecting cars and maybe one day it will pay off.

Personal project leads to the start of an organization see where it goes. Junior Jacob Lavorini, club treasurer, said he has met all types of students being a part of the club. “I want to better understand things immigrants have to face that I may not understand,” Lavorini said. “I enjoy this club because I get to meet people from different backgrounds and since many people come from different places, I get to hear their immigration problems and compare them to my own.” The club meets every other Monday in Neighborhood 11B. “In every club meeting, we start with a discussion question that usually relates to immigration, immigration reform or anything related to policies being passed that are affecting immigrants,” Gonzales explained. “As we discuss these topics, we educate everyone while getting to know everyone’s background because people share their stories and their personal experiences

important topic to learn and discuss.” Lavorini finds it interesting how people are more open in the club meetings. “Not a lot of people talk about how they got to America, so this club really helps connecting people by them talking about it. This club is also a safe place to share your experiences which is pretty cool” Some parents think that this club is a good way for their children to express what they feel.

Diana Ramirez, Lamar Life


amar has a wide range of clubs and extracurricular activities for all students but one club that stands out is Friendship Without Borders. Friendship Without Borders is a club that was started by its president Heinrick Gonzales. “When I came to America, I was nine years old. I had an internal struggle because I felt disconnected to American culture,” Gonzales said. “It was a culture shock and I remember the isolation I felt from everybody because I was different. The inspiration of this club is that we accept the difference and we tolerate everybody.” Gonzales started this club as his personal project in his sophomore year. “I started this as my personal IB project. It’s always been a goal of mine to spread awareness about important topics that relate to me because I’m an immigrant as well.” Shelby Hicks is the sponsor for Friendship Without Borders. “I was very happy when Heinrick asked me to be the sponsor. I think it’s a very unique club and I’m excited to

regarding immigration.” Sophomore Andrea Hernandez said she joined because she wanted to gain more knowledge. “I like it because they talk about important stuff like the wall and our president. They also talk about any immigration policies that are happening which I think is pretty cool,” Hernandez said. “I decided to join because I’m an immigrant too and I think its an

“My mom thinks it’s a good idea because she knows that I have a lot of opinions about immigration and stuff in general about my situation,” Hernandez said. “She thinks it’s a good idea for me to join to express my opinions and ideas with people who have been through the same situation as me or whose family members have been in the same situation.”


TikTok takes over socially

Kathryn Stone, Lamar Life

to 33,000 likes and almost 200,000 views. “I held up a bag of Whataburger,” Aymound said with a laugh. “That’s all I did. The ‘we eating good’ sound was in the background.” Sophomore Victoria Carr has he app TikTok has taken the also made a viral video that garnered world and the school by storm. 66,000 likes and almost 550,000 With more than 3,000 students views. here, it is not hard to believe that many “It was a video of me dressing up have the app on their phones and use it as a guy who is famous on TikTok,” regularly. Some of these users even go Carr explained. “His name is Chase viral. Keith and he actually saw it and comSophomore Betty Amundsen has mented on it!” gone viral multiple times. Going viral on TikTok is relatively “I have a few viral videos,” Amund- easy to achieve. Every video made sen said. “My first viral one was when shows up on at least one person’s I did a trend and it got 32.9k (likes) ‘for you’ page, where videos can get and almost 200k views. My next viral views, likes, comments and shares. one got 38.2k (likes) and almost 400k Because of this, people can end up views. The next one got 19.4k (likes) being recognized by others for being and almost 400k views and my most on the page. recent viral video got 261.2k (likes) “When (the video) first went viral, and over a million views.” people around school people started Amundsen is not the only one who recognizing me,” said sophomore Jachas gone viral on TikTok queline O’Hara, who’s videos on the Junior Cole Aymound’s second crowded stairs here went viral with video on the app went viral with close more than 100,000 views each.



Views and likes are proof that a video has gone viral. “I would say 100,000 views constitutes TikTok clout,” Carr said. “I think viral is about 10k likes,” said O’Hara. Some users participate in the trends that take over the “for you” page for a little over two weeks at a time. These include dances, skits, text comedy and the usage of certain audios or songs. “The trends are outlines for me,” said Carr. “I use the sounds and I do the trends but I make each one my own.” Trends are what get most people to the top but users have to remember they drop back down. “My friends tease me about it,” Aymound said with a smile. Amundsen said she has had some people leave hateful comments. “Especially on my Catholic video! People were making rude comments about religion,” she said. In the end, going viral on TikTok has its highs and lows and users all over the globe and this school have been able to get a taste of the fame that so many seek.

Cheesy bites have struck love in lunch-goers’ hearts Manon del Vecchio, Lamar Life


tudents have fallen in love with cheesy bites. Roughly once a week, the notorious cheesy bites make their way into the school lunches. Students go so wild for the cheesefilled doughy pizza pocket whenever they are served that they typically run out. The simple meal has left students wishing they could eat them whenever. “I would eat them every day if I could. The simplicity of just bread and cheese and marinara sauce but it reminds me of the Tostito pizza rolls… and I love Tostito pizza rolls. They’re really good. I didn’t think they were going to be good but they’re really good,” said sophomore Kathryn Stone. One student has found herself doing everything she can to get them for lunch. “(My friends and I) were going to our neighborhood cafeteria line to get the cheesy bites but they were out so we went to the neighborhood 10D lines but they were also out. We were like ‘oh my gosh, how are we going to get our cheesy bites?’ I told one of the admin-

“I would eat them everyday if I could.” Kathryn Stone istrators I had to talk to one of the freshman teachers and they let me in and I promptly went into one of the neighborhoods and got the last of the ninth graders cheesy bites,” Stone said with a laugh. The dish resembles pizza bites and the fact the school lunch is so close to something most people enjoy is a big reason why they’re loved. “The cheese, the cheese is really good. It tastes like marinara and cheese sticks, like you would normally eat,” said sophomore Viviana Zapata with a chuckle.

Although they are popular to many, the beloved dish may just be a sophomore fad, according to cheerleader Zapata. “It may just be sophomores. I don’t know a bunch of juniors and seniors or freshman that talk about it but then again I haven’t asked a lot of people about it,” Zapata said. But freshman Jehu Muller does feel they are the best option the school serves. “To be honest I feel like it’s the best food option there is right now,”he said. Being a vegetarian, Zapata finds herself only able to eat the cheesy bites due to a lack of options. “Cheesy bites are really the one thing I get from the cafeteria because they don’t have many vegetarian-friendly options, so when I do get hungry and I have to buy something from the school lunch, cheesy bites are the only thing I can buy,” she said. According to many students, the bites reign superior compared to any other lunch. “Cheesy bites are on their own level.It’s like cheesy bites then maybe the chicken nugget things. But cheesy bites are up high,” Stone said.



Sophomores have a ball at Cotillion

ophomore, junior and senior young ladies prepared for their special night at The Houston Girls’ Cotillion. It was a time to enjoy a formal dinner and dancing. The event came with rules and requirements: girls attending the ball had to wear formal evening gowns and the guys had to wear a full tuxedo. “I (was) not bothered by the dress code. I looked forward to wearing a long fancy dress,” sophomore Annabel Lane said. The girls had to ask a gentlemen of their choosing to escort them to the dance. “I asked one of my friends from a private school to go to the dance with me,” Lane said. The stress of searching for hours and hours to find the perfect dress with just the right shoes and accessories was one of the aspects that came with signing up for cotillion. “I would say it took a couple of days for me to find the right dress,” Lane said. “I was in Chicago when I found it. The dress holds meaning (for) me because my grandmother would


Mikayla Scholz, Lamar Life have loved to see me in it on my special night.” Cotillion is not exactly the cheapest event to attend to. To register for the dance, the cost was listed at $350. “You have to think about all the little things that add up,” Lane said. “First you have the registration fee, then (the) dress, then finding the shoes to match the dress. I had to get mine hemmed in order for it to fit me perfectly.” All in total, Lane said she paid about $800, which included accessories and transportation. The theme for this year’s dance was a masquerade ball. “Personally I looked forward to dancing on the dance floor and showing off my dance moves because I had been practicing,” sophomore Kara Lorenz said. Cotillion is an event you can continue to keep up with as you get older. “Although it comes with a lot of

work, I will definitely be attending future cotillion balls. The process is a very fun event I think everyone should experience,” Lorenz said.

Quinceañeras mark milestone for many turning 15 Jillian Gonzalez, Lamar Life


dress, the court of honor,” Dominguez explained. Freshman Adriana Leal has been uinceañera is a Hispanic tradiplanning her quince since last year tion when a girl turns 15. It is a large and looked forward to spending time celebration when a teenage girl turns with others. into a young woman. “I’m most excited for time to “A quinceañera is pretty much a spend with my family and friends,” celebration of a young girl becoming Leal said. a woman. They honor this by having Dominguez’s overall favorite part a small ceremony, along with a party was the choreographing of her surwith friends and family,” sophomore prise dance with her court of honor. Leslie Dominguez shared. “The surprise dance because I’m This tradition is intended to be part a dancer and so having that attention of the Catholic religion but some do not necessarily have a church ceremo- drawn towards you is a good thing,” Dominguez said. ny with their party. Along with having a quince, there “It’s usually Catholics that do it but are some details that are not so fun. it’s mostly common to have a church Dominguez shared that the most ceremony; however, recently a lot of people haven’t had it. It’s just the party stressful part of her quince was right itself,” Dominguez said. With or without the church ceremony, there are still plenty of things needed in order to have a quince but the most important is having a venue for the event. This entire planning process of a quince uses a lot of work, commitment and time. “People usually take up to a year or two but I planned it in six or seven months. That’s because of money and also trying to find the venue, the

before the big day. “It was the day before because you have a very limited amount of time to finish up the things that you need to do,” she said. If Dominguez could go back to last year and change her quince, all that she would change is how she felt. “I would have tried to enjoyed it a little more because I was mostly stressed out,” she said. It is a tradition to have a court of honor at a quinceañera. The court could be either all girls or all boys or even both. But they all are there to represent close friends of the birthday girl. “In my court, it was some of my friends (from Lamar) and some from another school but it was both guys and girls,” Leal said. In Dominguez’s court, she also had both guys and girls. “The girls in my court were my friends and the guys - two were my friends and the rest were my cousins,” she said. Leslie Dominguez and her court perform the surprise dance at her quinceañera. Alexis Suarez poses with his girlfriend as a part of her court. Evelyn Baldanado shows off her 15 at her quinceañera last year.


Jillian Gonzalez, Lamar Life


he band won it all at Nationals. They left nothing on the field and walked away with first place. “USBands is the national championship which is held in Cowboy’s stadium and we were invited last year,” band director Aaron Stickley said. We competed in class II open and won top music visual general affect. We also won best color guard and percussion as well.” Last year was their first year getting invited to Nationals but this year they won it all. “Last year was the first year we got invited to it but we didn’t make finals and this year is the first year we won a championship and made finals,” Andrew Rubio, head drum major said. Competing in the huge stadium in Arlington did intimidate some but no one let that interfere with their performance. “I was definitely nervous but once I got onto the field, I got comfortable with it. Once I got into the mode, I was ready,” freshman Alexis Cortinas said. The band as a whole felt that they were prepared when going into Nationals to compete. “I think they were as prepared as they could have been for it which I think is well prepared. This year they were used


Band takes home first place at Nationals to it and they stepped up to the challenge a little bit more compared to the year before,” Stickley noted. Rubio’s first reaction to winning Nationals was something that fulfilled his senior year. “I don’t even know how to describe it. I wanted it to happen obviously and my thought process was if we think it’s going to happen, then it is going to happen. Just knowing how well prepared we were, I had a good feeling and that is an amazing thing to have,” Rubio said. “Not many bands are able to go in saying they know they are going to take it. It was an amazing feeling.” As for Rubio taking role as head drum major, he definitely feels the pressure of being a leader for band. “Junior year was my first year as drum major,” Rubio said. “It was something I wanted to do but it is not something you can prepare for. Once you have to be a leader and lead people, you do not know what you are getting into. I didn’t know what I was getting into. So for first year drum majors, it is a wakeup call because it’s stressful but it is the passion that makes you do it.”

As for juniors and seniors getting prepared to leave, others aren’t. Cortinas, as a freshman, loves being in band and awaits the rest of her years here. “I love it! I definitely have grown as a person. I have learned so much from each person that I have met and interacted with. It’s definitely great and a good experience,” Cortinas said. From multiple students it shows that band has a connection with each other that other teams cannot necessarily relate to. “It’s the dynamics of being in a band. You have about 100 people working together to make one product so naturally those bonds will form,” Rubio said. “That is just how it happens - we come close by working together because you have to and then we become family.” Now that Nationals and football season are over, the band looks towards the transition into their concert season. “We are focusing on concert band. We are starting to transition,” StickFrom January until April, we will be preparing for UIL as well and then we have a spring concert,” Stickley said.

Manon del Vecchio, Lamar Life

Band Bonding: Movie Night


“It’s a way for us to come togethypically, after early dismissals, er. We’re already pretty close because band has practice and then holds a it’s such a small band so it’s easy for movie night where they can hang out, us to get along, unlike bigger bands relax and bond. than ours,” Horton said. As a whole, band came up with No matter the grade, band students and supported the idea of movie use this time to have fun together and night. The directors gave the team spend time with their ‘second family.’ options for fun things to do together “I don’t really pay attention to the and they decided movie night was the movie. I like watching the movie but way to go. I like the idea of hanging out with my “There had been events in the past friends a lot. It’s also like band is a where band students just wanted to second family for me so it’s just realhave some fun and then someone just ly nice to hang out with them and not suggested, ‘Hey we should watch a have to worry about my foot timing movie as a band program.’ We had or how fast I have to go to march a projector and we were like ‘Hey something,” Horton said with a let’s do it,’ director Aaron Stickley laugh. “It’s just a time to relax and said. “Although it’s not mandatory, hang out with my friends.” a relatively large number of students After two-hour daily practices, do show up.” band members call movie night a Band members see it as a time to much-needed treat. bond and get away from the perforStickley seems to think moments mance environment. they have during movie night is bene“Movie night is not mandatory and ficial for the band as a whole and will roughly a little more than half the help them bond. band comes,” Ariel Horton said. “Because we have this camaraIt’s a time where they can relate derie, it just helps the band bond and relax. more. Obviously when you’re more

comfortable with the group and the people you’re with and you see every day, it becomes a family and you want to work hard for your family and you want to take care of your family,” Stickley explained. “So when it comes to rehearsing as well, that mindset kind of crosses over.” Because movie night has been such a hit, Stickley is trying to make it a monthly occasion. “We’re trying to do this once a month. Usually we’re a little more active in marching band season just because we see each other all the time for rehearsals. But it’s something we’re looking to continue for at least once a month or maybe every other month,” he said. Some favorite moments usually consist of times they get to hang out and talk. “My favorite part of movie night as a whole is usually before the movie starts when we watch the shows from other bands,” senior Christian Flores said. “Everyone watches to see how we can improve and do better.” senior Christian Flores said.


John Cypher, Lamar Life

Landscape students spread joy, one pot at a time


oing a good deed and helping the environment go hand in hand in the landscaping class. The landscaping students had an idea to get some pots, design them and fill them with plants and other objects such as small hay bales and give the pots to their favorite teachers. Teacher Emily Hernandez thought that it was a great idea and they executed the project. “My landscaping class thought of the idea of building mini landscapes inside a pot and each student could give their pot to their favorite staff or teacher,” Hernandez explained. The pots were not just given to teachers plain and simple. The class designed the pots to make them unique for their teacher of choice. “We bought the pots, pebbles, dirt and plants but with the pots, the students were able to paint and customize it with whatever they liked,” Hernandez said. The students who made the pots were just as excited as Hernandez. “I liked the idea of making pots. It was fun and I also liked the experience of planting and making something,” senior Casey Funk said. Funk also liked the process and expe-


er. Funk gave his pot to his baseball coach, Coach Rodney Garza. “I gave my pot to my baseball coach, Coach Garza. I think he really liked it and I really liked making it,” Funk said. Garza was grateful and appreciative of his gift from Funk. “I loved my pot and I was very appreciative of Casey Funk choosing me to receive his gift,” Garza said. Biology Teacher Sergio Arjon said that he was equally impressed with his pot. “I loved my pot. I still have the plants in there,” Arjon said with a smile. “I water them often, sometimes I even play music for it in the mornings. Most of the time I put the pot on my desk but I move it from time to time to water it and keep it safe.” Almost everyone enjoyed this projCasey Funk ect - the students, the teacher and the recipients of the pots. “The students got really creative plants in it as well. She also had little when making the pots and they learned figurines we could use to give the pot a lot. They liked using their hands and applying what they learned and then an aesthetic look,” Funk said. Although making the pot and plant- turning it into something they gift to ing the plant was great, it did not beat someone,” Hernandez said. giving the pot to your favorite teachrience of making a pot. It was a good learning experience and something that will surely be done in the future. “First Ms. Hernandez told us to make a drawing and then we got the pot, put soil in it and we put two

“I gave my pot to my

baseball coach, Coach Garza, and I think he really liked it and I really liked making it.”

Fifty is the magic number for Dr. X


he has been in the classroom for 46 years and does not see an end in sight. Her students love her teaching style. She helps them understand the concept much better. Meet Dr. Roxane Exezidis or Dr. X, as she is known by everyone. Dr. X began her teaching career at Hamilton Middle School, then U of H, then she taught at Jane Long for one year and then came to Lamar. She has been teaching at Lamar for 43 years. “I guess I pursued teaching because I always wanted to be a teacher from very young, particularly a math teacher,” Dr. X said. A Lamar graduate, Dr. X teaches HL, SL and Math studies. Dr. X was awarded the most distinguished researcher award of all North America from the University of Houston. She has also received pins for her 35, 40 and 45 years of teaching. “I may retire soon - after I get the 50-year pin, because I really want that 50-year pin,” Dr. X said with a smile. After teaching for so many years, Dr. X has never lost her motivation. “I have a doctorate in math education. I could’ve done other things with it but I like being with the kids,” Dr. X said. “Some of them are very good and very bright and very cooperative and there’s always a few rotten apples in the group that makes you want to pull your hair out but overall the kids - the majority - are worth it and make it worth your while.” Many of her students have said that Dr. X provides an independent culture in her classroom. “She has a different type of teaching style that I haven’t had before because usually my math teachers will go up to the board

Georgia Polydoros, Lamar Life and then write out the problem on the board and go over it with the whole class,” senior Maali LaFrance said. “But Dr. X, she’s more independent. If you wanna know the answer, you have to go seek it out yourself.” Senior Benjamin Smidt agreed. “Her teaching style is very independent and she gives us a lot of room to learn on our own. It’s self-lead teaching if that is a way to explain it,” Smidt said. Dr. X has had many ups and downs throughout her teaching career, including her students. “My beginning years were my favorite years because they were more cooperative and had less distractions going on, so it made teaching easier,” she said.

Some of her downs have taken a big toll on her as a teacher. “Having lost students due to accidents or illness, it has taken a toll on me because I always want to know that my students are safe and when something bad happens to them, I always take it to heart because they are my kids,” Dr. X said. Her wisdom throughout the years is a way that new teachers can get a heads up on what is about to happen. “For new teachers, developing a thick outer skin is important so that you can roll with the punches that will be thrown at you,” the veteran teacher said. “As every year gets more and more difficult, you are going to need to trust that doing your job and doing it well will pave a way to help your students and you as a teacher.”


Consequences of the vaping epidemic


aping has become an epidemic among teens and young adults. With the raise of the minimum age to purchase vaping products, the conversation on the effects of electronic cigarettes and other vaping devices is a popular one. Some argue that the devices are simply a safer way to smoke and a way to help people work on their addictions while others argue that vaping is becoming a worldwide epidemic among teens and young adults. After seeing an increase in deaths due to vaping, I can’t help but agree with the latter. I personally have seen friends become addicted to nicotine products - primarily juuls and puff bars - and it is shocking how many do not care about the health warnings, with most people arguing that even though some people end up hospitalized or even dead, it won’t happen to them. The problem with that is that you never know if you could end up


suffering the same fate as the people we see on the news stuck in the hospital with a collapsed lung. One big problem about vaping is that the products come in a variety of different flavors such as mango, banana ice and mint. Recently, companies such as Juul, have stopped the production and selling of the popular pod flavors to help combat the use by teens. While this is a step in the right direction, many users were not deterred and have simply turned to purchasing whatever is available. As of November, more than 47 people have died from vaping and more than 2,000 illnesses have been reported. Young adults are posting videos and pictures of them in the hospital because of injuries from vaping and their parents are advocating for people to stop using the devices. Some dealers of the products are adding things like vitamin E acetate to the oil to make them last longer - which is a cause for the illnesses and deaths. Users not knowing what

they are putting into their lungs is very dangerous and is simply increasing their chance of hospitalization. I know students all across the world, including students here, that vape almost every day and it saddens me to know that my peers are putting their health at risk just to get a “buzz.” I can’t control the actions of others but I can encourage everyone to really look into the research that has been done on vaping devices so you can understand the health risks and the long-term consequences. Remember that even though the chances may be small, something could still happen.

Kathryn Stone, Lamar Life

“You can do it. If you have a goal, don’t quit. You don’t have to do it alone - you do have to ask for help. When you achieve your goal, it’ll be worth it!” Jeff Spain

Mission accomplished for Spain who earns the honor of Eagle Scout Lauren Koong, Lamar Life When Willaim “Jeff” Spain’s parents signed him up for Scouting nine years ago, they had no idea what it might lead to. In fact, they were really just trying to get him involved in an organization. Today, he is an Eagle Scout, something Jeff is proud of. “It feels great to be done! I’ve learned a lot since I started as a Cub Scout in 2010. My Scout troop went to Alaska in 2016 and while there I hiked on a glacier and climbed a peak overlooking the Gulf of Alaska,” the junior explained. “That was when I thought I could earn the Eagle Scout Award.” Jeff’s father said they were looking for an outlet for their son who has autism. “As (parents) of a young boy on the autism spectrum, we needed all the help we could get. And as an Eagle Scout, I knew Scouting is a safe place to fail and hopefully to succeed. So when HISD’s Woodrow Wilson Montessori had its School Night for Scouting in September 2010, we took a chance on there being a place for our family in Scouting,” Jeff’s father, Charles Spain said. “Nine years later, I can say it’s been a road worth taking.” The Spains said they never imagined how far their son’s journey would be. They reflected on the beginning as they

smiled about their son’s accomplishment. “Eight-year olds are crazy and that’s part of why Cub Scouting is fun for adults with a tolerance for chaos. And then there was Jeff, who could out run them all and turn off every light switch and every other switch,” Charles said with a laugh. “To the great credit of his den leader, Jeff earned his Bobcat, Wolf and Bear badges. And somewhere along the way, it became clear that Scouting was a place where it was safe for Jeff to fail and to succeed. Every Scout in his Webelos Den earned all the achievement awards and days before crossing over into Troop 511, Jeff was the grand champion of Pack 511’s Pinewood Derby. I don’t think anyone saw that coming.” In the Scout troop, it became clear that Jeff likes camping. He has 150 outdoor nights, including six summer camps, nearly 40 weekend campouts, winter backpacking in the Great Smoky Mountains, Philmont Scout Ranch, Florida Sea Base and a national and a world jamboree. In August, Jeff’s Eagle Scout court of honor took place. “Former Mayor Annise Parker was the guest speaker. He got to Eagle with 46 merit badges — 25 more than required, as well as a service project marking the boundaries and clearing around the

gravestones of a historic Grimes County Cemetery,” Charles said. “Jeff led 26 workers for a total of 270 service hours and his sophomore Lamar IB project documented the history of the people buried in the cemetery.” Again, this was not something the family expected. “As an Eagle Scout myself, I certainly hoped Jeff would do well but I didn’t expect this,” the proud father said. “As parents, we have to step back and allow our children to fail in hopefully a safe place. That’s how they learn. We also have to be prepared for them to succeed. With the help of others, to be sure, but we have to let them do it on their own. “Our family is fortunate to have the help of others — the staff and teachers at Woodrow Wilson Montessori, River Oaks, Lanier and Lamar, as well as the volunteers at Palmer Church’s Pack and Troop 511 and the Boy Scouts of America. Our thanks to all,” he added. It took a time, patience and hard work, Jeff admits. “The paperwork for my Eagle Scout service project was really long and hard and I had to work with a lot of people to get it approved. I learned that you have to work hard to get what you want,” the teen said. “I feel happy to have earned it but I feel a responsibility to live up to the expectations of an Eagle Scout.”


Mason Hartley, Lamar Life more,” Anduiza said. “Last year he was a freshman so people might not have been so welcoming but this year he has really stepped into that leadership role very well.” Koong hasn’t had smooth sailing the whole time, he has had his fair share of challenges. “It’s definitely hard being on the court and just fighting all by yourself because it’s really lonely. Another thing with tennis is having to deal with a lot of injuries,” Koong said. “My dad has helped me along the most; he has always been there and when I need something we can go out and play.” One of the major changes in Koong’s life was moving from California to Houston. “It was challenging at first. It was hard to get the lay of the land and find a new coach and come in and learn the new tournament formats but it’s been good,” Koong said. “I was comfortable, it was nice in California. I knew everyone, had a lot the sophomore said. “I won the northern of friends, knew a lot of tennis California state championship for singles people. I was pretty normal, just and doubles. That was pretty cool.” an average kid. Coming here Koong’s tennis coach Remus Anduihasn’t been any different other za had nothing but good words about than just adapting and doing the Koong’s dedication and work ethic. same thing.” “He looks out for other players which Because of tennis, Koong is great. It shows it’s not just about him. has had many opportunities that He cares about the other players and how would have been hard to achieve they are doing. When he is done with otherwise, including possible his match, he goes over and encourages scholarship offers and sponsorthem and tries to provide feedback and ship deals. he is really a team player,” Anduiza said. “I am currently sponsored “He shows dedication, hard work and he by Wilson and Luxilon. I don’t definitely puts in time to make sure he is have any official offers yet but doing well and goes out of his way and Cornell and University of Indihits with a lot of better players which is ana at Bloomington have sent great.” me emails,” the sophomore said. Anduiza was also impressed with the “Hopefully I’ll play two or three improvements Koong had made from last years at a division one varsity season. school and we’ll have to see “He overall just became a better team what happens from there.” player and a lot of people look up to him

Koong keeps order on the court!


ophomore Alex Koong, the line one tennis player for men’s varsity tennis since his freshman year, has had a lot of opportunities and he has helped Lamar’s tennis program along the past two seasons. He is thankful for everything that he has been able to do. “My dad got me into tennis. When I was eight or so I used to ice skate and I hated it. There was a tennis court across the street from the ice rink and my dad would take me there and we would just goof around,” Koong said. “The first year or two, I was playing more as a mommy-and-me type thing but when I turned 10, that’s when it got serious.” Like any serious athlete, Koong competed in tennis tournaments from the age of 10 onward and some of his early achievements were very prestigious. “We didn’t have a middle school team so I played mostly USTA,” the sophomore said. “When I was playing 14 and under,”



Rassin takes the tennis court by storm


or sophomore Sophia Rassin, tennis is an important part of everyday life. Starting varsity as a freshman, Rassin takes tennis very seriously. She has spent countless hours over her life practicing the sport. “I’ve been playing tennis for about five years and this year will be my second year of varsity,” Rassin said. For my daily schedule, after school I typically go to my separate group practice from 4 to 7: 30 Mondays through Thursdays. After that practice, I go home and do my schoolwork. On the weekends I do a separate practice in the morning.” According to head tennis coach Remus Anduiza, Rassin’s work ethic plays a key role in her journey to success. “Sophia definitely puts in a lot of work outside of the class and that’s critical to being a good tennis player. It’s not just practicing only at Lamar, it’s practicing outside of Lamar and Sophia definitely puts in that work and it shows when she plays tournaments,” Anduiza explained. Not only is Rassin masterful on the court but she is also a compassionate teammate and opponent.  “She is very calm; you never see her have a dispute with any of her teammates,” Anduiza said. “Luckily, I have a great team where all the girls get along and Sophia, I’ve never had a problem with. As for her interac-

Lily Barrow, Lamar Life tion, a lot of the girls definitely look up to her for being one of our top players.” In addition, athletes at Lamar are expected to prioritize both sports and school. Rassin is no exception. She not only works hard in tennis but she also focuses on her academics. “Sometimes it is hard to balance school and tennis because it takes a lot of time and especially because we’ve had a lot of school work lately and I’ve been trying to put the same amount of work in tennis that I do over the summer,” the sophomore said. One of the hardest parts of tennis is staying motivated and focused on the court. In some cases, with no partner to turn to, being able to pump yourself up is crucial. “She is calm,” Anduiza said. “She doesn’t get frustrated and she fights. She doesn’t give up. She’s been down. She’s lost the first set but she doesn’t give up. Anyone that’s an opponent of hers quickly realizes that it’s going to be a long match if they’re going to try to beat her. It’s going to take alot of work and effort.” What sets Rassin apart from her opponents is her love for the sport. Sophia is a part of a family who all plays tennis, so the sport is not only a passion but also a family affair.  “I just love the game,”

Rassin said with a smile. “The feeling you get once you get into a match and you’re playing - like you got into a rhythm it just feels good. And the fact that my whole family plays, so it’s really fun for me to go out - me and my brother against my mom and dad.” All of this hard work, grueling practices and effort put in by Rassin fall into one main goal - to play tennis in college. “My goal is to eventually play in college,” Rassin said with a smile.


Tyler wins scholarship to dream school Sophia Rassin, Lamar Life


e was clueless about the moment that would change his life. The admissions team from the University of Texas at Austin was on campus to give senior, Blake Tyler, a scholarship and his offer of admissions to his major. “He has been working on that scholarship and this goal of UT, especially computer science since freshman year,” college counselor Maggie Trendell said. Tyler won the Impact Award which is awarded to students who have made an impact at their school and in their communities. “Blake was awarded his scholarship for making an impact at Lamar and in his community. It is competitive - his GPA, coming a $48,000 scholarship that covers four from a single family household, the year tuition,” Trendell said. fact that he has worked so hard, his It is a very selective group of stuleadership skills, that he is really indents that are given this scholarship. terested in computer science, that he “Roughly 30 kids, has taken those I believe, will be courses, his SAT receiving this scholscores and his arship across the community sercountry,” Trendell vice...” Trendell said. explained. Competing with Tyler parhundreds of other ticipates in a students nationwide, large variety of there were many leadership roles characteristics that and activities Blake Tyler set Tyler apart from throughout his other applicants community that and allowed him to be chosen for this have helped him become so well scholarship. rounded and an amazing candidate “I’d like to say that everyone has a for the Impact Award. profile, who you are, where your family “I am in National Honor Sociis from, all of that and Blake’s is really ety. I started the computer science

“I had no idea this was going to happen.”


club last year. Outside of school, I am a volleyball coach. I tutor kids at the community center in my neighborhood, volunteer at the foodbank and at a wide range of other places,” Tyler said. When the day finally came and Tyler was presented with the scholarship, he had no clue that all of his hard work had paid off. “I had no idea this was going to happen. UT Austin and the computer science program have been my number one dream school since like the sixth grade and it felt great for my dream to come true,” Tyler said with a smile. Make sure to stop by and visit the college corner and you could be the next for your dream to come true. “Here in the college corner, we really try to polish things up for him to give him the best essays, the best options and the best applications available for him,” Trendell said.

Stanton wins scholar award J

Mason Hartley, Lamar Life

out about a month ago that he was a finalist for the award.” osh Stanton was given a big Stanton who has played as the startchance to continue his football caing defensive tackle for the last two reer after being awarded the Houston seasons talked about what this meant Touchdown Club Scholar Award. to him and all the work he has put in to Stanton, who has played on the foot- get this far. ball team since his freshman year, was “I have been playing since fifth awarded a scholarship for outstanding grade. All my family has played performance on and off the field. football so I wanted to play football Head football coach Michael Lind- growing up,” Stanton said. sey explained what qualified Stanton Lindsey praised Stanton’s continfor the award and what made him the uous dedication and willingness to best fit. improve and make plays for the “The scholar athlete award is team. awarded to a starter - someone who has “Josh Stanton has helped the team a great academic achievement. Josh has by playing excellent technique as a dea great GPA, an excellent SAT score fensive lineman,” Coach Lindsey said. and he volunteers in the community,” “Teams don’t run on the inside because Lindsey said. “I nominated Josh at the of his play. He constantly plays hard beginning of the season and there is and is physical. Even though he is not a committee that votes on the award. the biggest guy, he is extremely tough They consider things such as volunteer to move out of the middle. He had a hours, GPA and test scores. We found big fumble recovery against the Wood-

lands last year. He was a big force in helping us beat Bellaire two years in a row. “For the last two years when he started, Josh has made it really hard for teams to run on the inside because of him and also with his pass-rush against some of our key rivals like Bellaire and Heights,” Lindsey added. Stanton has been improving since fifth grade on his skills and what position suited him. “I played offensive line in middle school but I play defensive line now, more specifically defensive tackle,” Stanton said. He has been supported by many people and he was sure to thank them. “The teammates and coaches that have helped me the most are Coach Lindsey, Coach Sholtz, Coach Sal, Coach Mal and my D-Line teammates,” Stanton said. “Other than that my parents and God helped me as well.” Stanton explained what this scholarship meant to him. “I feel like this season has been great and this scholarship means that all my hard work has paid off,” Stanton said with a smile. “The colleges that I have been hoping to attend are Sam Houston or UTSA and football has given me a way to go to college for a cheaper price.”



Barrow sisters share their journey of gymnastics glory

unior Lauren Barrow and her younger sister, sophomore Lily Barrow, share the same intense love for gymnastics. It all started when their parents decided to put Lauren in gymnastics as a young child. “I started it just because my parents decided to put me in gymnastics when I was a little kid just so I can try it out but I really fell in love with the sport so I stuck with it for this long,” the junior said. “I really excelled in gymnastics. I loved everything about it and it was the most fun thing I’d ever done before.” Following in her footsteps, Lily and even their younger brother Connor began taking gymnastics classes. “I always thought gymnastics was fun because I watched my sister do it and I went to classes to try and really enjoyed it and stuck with it,” said Lily. Their love for the sport shows in their dedication as they train a consecutive 73 hours a week between the three of them. “It takes up a lot of my time so I don’t have a typical teenage life compared to other people my age but


Blythe Chandler, Lamar Life it honestly has created a kind of second family with the girls I train with because you’re with each other at least 24 hours a week, so you create a special bond,” Lily said. “I don’t have a lot of free time or a typical lifestyle but it’s worth it.” Participating in the same sport brings the Barrow’s some rivalry. “The worst part is the competition,” Lily said with a laugh. “Competition is good in some ways because you help each other but you really compare yourself to the others. We put a lot of pressure on each other.” Despite the competition, the siblings really enjoy the common ground the sport brings them. “The best part is that we can all understand each other and speak the same gymnastics language,” said Lauren. “We all come home with bruises at the end of the night and we’re all sore so we can relate to that.” The payoff is worth more than the

long hours and injuries for this family. “Gymnastics is a very difficult sport and it’s really taxing on your body but it also makes you very strong, physically and mentally,” said Lily. “While you do get injured a lot, you also gain a lot.” Gymnastics has granted them more than just athletic ability. “I can use a lot of my experiences from gymnastics and apply it to whatever career I plan to do in the future,” Lauren said.

Chloe Herrera:

She is on her way to the top


enior Chloe Herrera is officially going D1 for lacrosse. Herrera recently committed to Akron University in Ohio for lacrosse, a sport she has been playing for most of her life. “I’ve played lacrosse since the sixth grade,” said Herrera. “It feels a lot longer since I’ve been playing club too since sixth grade - so it’s all year long.” Teammate Asia Delasbour has been playing with Herrera since middle school and has been able to watch her grow and develop as a player. “I remember playing at Pershing and being really scared of her,” Delasbour said with a laugh. “She really has become one of the best defenders for our team and I look at her as a role model for playing defense myself.” Herrera plays multiple positions, not just defense. “I started out as a midfielder,” Herrera said. “Along the way, I’ve become a defender but now that I am going to college, my coach has really enjoyed me being in the midfield.” Herrera’s coach, Kristin Marchese, has been her coach for four years and has seen her become a leader for her team. “Chloe is a strong leader not only vocally but leads by example as well,” Marchese said. “There is not a day that Chloe is not going 100 percent at practice or in a game and she sets the tone for our defense everyday.” Committing to a D1 college for any sport takes a lot of hard work and talent and Herrera’s teammates are not surprised she made it to the top. “She’s an amazing player,” Delasbour said. “I don’t know why she wouldn’t get signed to a great college.”

Kathryn Stone, Lamar Life Herrera is going to be playing for Akron’s new lacrosse program next school year. “It’s a new program,” explained Herrera. “The first year of the team is this year so my recruited class will be the second year of the Akron team.” Marchese had no doubt that Herrera would not sign to a great school. “I did expect Chloe to go play at the D1 level,” Marchese said. “Her work ethic and drive is unmatched by most and she has put in so much work to get to where she is and I knew it would pay off.” Though she is very happy with her commitment to Akron, going there was not her first choice. “My dream school was UC Boulder,” Herrera said with a smile. “But I knew that my path had been a little rocky because I had gone a couple months without wanting to play lacrosse due to my depression. I was very excited to get

signed to Akron and I actually like the school and the people and coaches.” Signing to Akron has provided a lot of relief for Herrera. “Signing made me feel a lot of relief and really excited,” she said. “I get another four years of playing a sport I really love and I get to develop my skills and work on my time management.” Herrera’s family is very excited for Chloe to be going D1. “We’re very excited,” said Chloe’s brother Ethan Herrera, who is a sophomore and also plays lacrosse. Herrera’s hard work has paid off and she is looking forward to next year. “I’m looking forward to getting a D1 experience for my sport and other sports and getting to know the other athletes because I’ll be living with them in the dorms. It’s going to be a great experience,” she said.


Volleyball teams finishes their season strong Jillian Gonzalez, Lamar Life


have seen a lot of improvements in the team as a whole and individual his year’s volleyball season has players. “We had a lot of players grow come to an end and has garnered many over the season and saw a treaccomplishments along the way. “Our volleyball season went really mendous amount of improvement throughout my team,” Harper said. well. Our freshman won second in There were many highs and lows district. Overall our program is really throughout the season but for the growing and I am looking forward to freshman team, the biggest obstacle what we can do in the future,” freshwas coming together as a team. man volleyball coach Kadee Harper “By the end of the season evsaid. There were also many wins such as eryone knew each other and we all worked well on the court but at the freshman winning second in district. JV also won first place in many tourna- beginning of the year, trying to know ments and varsity went to the playoffs. everybody was the biggest thing we had to do,” freshman captain Maren “Our biggest accomplishment was Brown said. winning a tournament and we took As for sophomore varsity player home second in districts,” Harper Ava Wilson, her biggest obstacle this noted. season was being injured twice. Along with new accomplishments this season, varsity had their own accomplishment within their team. “The team as a whole finding their voice on the court and being able to communicate with one another and to their coaches,” varsity coach Tawonna Cage said. Throughout the entire season, the coaches


“I pulled my back so I was taken out because I kept reinjuring it and then after I got better with my back, I tore a ligament in my ankle that I am still recovering from,” Wilson shared. Although the volleyball season went great for each team, Wilson said she would have changed how some games were played out. “More playing time for all of the players. I know they try to put everyone in and try everybody out but there were still some players that just rode the bench,” Wison said. Along with making changes, Cage wished she could’ve changed the management on the varsity team. “I would in fact have more team managers to keep the team in line and keep me on my toes,” Cage said. But Harper disagrees and believes that things happen for a reason. “Everything happens for a reason and without struggle, there wouldn’t be success and without adversity we wouldn’t be able to see how strong we really are,” Harper said. “So I wouldn’t change anything because it made our team better to have to overcome the challenges.”

Mason Hartley, Lamar Life open players on the court. “Our biggest weakness is probably communication. We are starting to figure it out. We’ve had some games where we don’t work as a unit but we are really skilled as a team. We are going to be alright,” Burton said. “We need to work as a team and have everyone know their role and play it as best as they can.” The new gym has helped the team practice and given all the various sports and teams more room to share the gym and not get in each other’s way. This has let them practice more often as well. “The new gym is a lot bigger during the athletic period. We can use multiple baskets which makes things easier and makes it so you can do a lot more. In the afternoon we share it with the girls and we have one practice court. It’s pretty good.” VanDusen stated. “We work out during the athletic period for an hour and at the end, we still made it to the second he start of December meant it 15 minutes and after school for an round. We came up short in the second was time to gear up for basketball searound. We have an open book. We still have hour and 30 minutes.” son. With all this practice, the team some stuff to finish and I feel like we can Currently 4-0 in district play, the is hoping to make it to the playget there again,” Herron said. varsity boys squad say they are looking offs in what VanDusen said was a The team hopes to take some of the lesforward to improving on last year’s sec- sons learned from last season and work on very tough bracket. ond round playoff run. “We play a really tough them as they gear up for district matches. Coach Jerry VanDusen talked through “Last year we learned to be unselfish and schedule,” Coach VanDusen said. what the team was working as they preto move the ball. Nobody is a superstar and “We play Clear Lake to start here. pared for the season. everybody is equal on the floor. Everybody We play North Shore this year “We are getting better. Our goal is who was a state finalist last year. has their role - just to play that role as best to finish strong. Last year we were 0-8 In district, we have Bellaire and as they can,” Herron said. to start the season. Without a doubt, we The team played scrimmages before the Sam Houston who is always good don’t want to go 0-8. We definitely want season began to learn what they need to Heights High School had a good to improve. We want to make a work and improve upon. VanDusen felt that team last year. Our basketball playoff run this year,” the coach exdistrict is really good.” the team played well but also believed that plained. “The team has been working With all of this in mind, the they could improve on certain skills. on every aspect of the game from man team and VanDusen are looking “We had two scrimmages and we did offense to zone offense, defense. We put not play well against Clements and Santa forward for the season to come. an emphasis on three things playing “Continue to improve and Fe. We played Conroe and we won by 24 good defense rebounding and no turncontinue to improve our shootpoints,” VanDusen said. “The next game overs.” ing more than anything else. we needed to improve on shooting. In the Many of the players are also hoping scrimmage we struggled with shooting, the We are going to get open looks to improve on last season. Junior SirIsaac next game it was better. We need to rebound and we just have to knock them Herron was looking forward to finishing the basketball, no turnovers and play really down and continue to play hard,” what the team started last year in the VanDusen said. “The team is solid defense and communicate.” playoffs. pumped. They are real excited. Junior Lucas Burton also felt the team “Last season was a rough start but We’re all ready to roll.” could work on communication and finding

Basketball team works to improve this season T



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