Bullets. Money. Weed. The real cost of marijuana isnâ€™t measured in grams or ounces. Story, Page 9
Neubauer retires as superintendent, pg. 7
Girlsâ€™ basketball goes to playoffs, pg. 14
Who did you help today? pg. 12
ts e r ec s ost p r u o y 01 2 t 1 m mi o b o u r s to
crisis hotline: 713HOTLINE 713259TEEN 7132281505 Crisis hotline is a 24-hour anonymous hotline for those looking to overcome obsticles like fear, isolation, abuse, physical disability, health, language, age, income, location, problem type or timing of the crisis.
anonomous post secret essay
When thinking about somebody who has had a positive impact on my life, my ﬁrst thoughts go to someone who has been there by my side through everything, my dad. However, if it is simply a question of impact alone, then that person surely must be my mom. When imagining what it means to be a mother, I would guess that most envision a caring ﬁgure who unconditionally loves and supports her children. Someone they can come home to and share their secrets without fear of judgment. Someone who provides comfort in times of hurt and encouragement when things are hard. Someone who would be willing to
drop everything for them. This, unfortunately, does not describe the relationship between my mother and I. For me, a mother means dealing with the remnant of a broken family. It means hearing screaming voices alternate with dead silence, and being taught lessons over frivolous things at the drunken hands of a woman in a pitiful rage. It means coming home to someone who can’t offer comfort because she is already too far gone to remember who I am. This is my understanding of a mother. The saddest part of it all is that she knows exactly how I feel, as she is doing the same thing to me that
her mother did to her. She doesn’t appear to realize that all the pain her mother caused her is now being inﬂicted on me. This is why my mother, the most important person in my life, is the person who has impacted me the most. Because of her neglect and personal failings, I have been inspired to be the ﬁrst woman in my family to go to college. It is my hope that through education I can break the cycle of pain that began with my grandmother and transcend a future that, until recently, I seemed destined to repeat. Thanks to the impact my mom has had on me, I want to be different.
letters to the editors Adviser: Jerry Fordyce Co-editors-in cheif: Rain Shanks, Leanne Haas Photo Editor: Evan Bradley Sports Editor: PJ Meyer Ads Editor: Eric Elliot
For a complete list of the Cougar Claw staff, check out our online edition at THSCougarClaw.com Letters to the Editor Policy: The Cougar Claw publishes letters to the editor in both print and online editions. These can come from students, parents,faculty/staff and others with an intrest in school. Letters will be edited for grammar and length, but the author’s intent and point of view will never be compromised. All letters must be signed. Questions, comments or concerns, contact adviser Jerry Fordyce at: jerryfordyce@ tomballisd.net phone: (281) 357-3220 fax: (281) 357-3248 Tomball High School 30330 Quinn Rd. Tomball, TX 77375
Dear Editor, I want the school to encourage students to participate in any activities or fine arts that they want. Throughout my high school life I have participated in band, volleyball, track, and art. These experiences have allowed me to have friends and memories from a variety of sources. However, I was constantly told by counselors and coaches that I couldn’t participate in all these things. They threatened me with the idea of not graduating. However, I proved them wrong. I have just enough credits to graduate and I get to do all the things I love. I owe these experiences to people like Mr. Downey and Coach McQuary who were flexible enough to share the time I had with other communities. My brother didn’t get the same experience. He always dreamed of being in cross country but because he was in marching band, the coach wouldn’t even give him the chance. I want coaches, teachers, and all staff to encourage those who want to participate in numerous fine arts and sports. Jenny Martin Dear Jenny, I think that’s awesome. You only go to high school once, and while you’re there you should experience everything it has to offer. Not only that, but it allows you to completely figure out what you love and want to pursue after high school, which, after all, is the point of extracurricular activities. It’s especially important to give credit to your teaches and coaches who are willing to work with
you. A teacher should be someone who’s main goal is to help you through high school and encourage you to be all that you can. The only downsides be finding time to balance all of these things with academics, family, work and friends. That can be difficult, but with a good support system those things are more than possible. I suggest your brother be persistent, and maybe show him this letter. I wish you and your brother the best! Rain Shanks Co-editor and cheif
Dear Editor, I like C lunch. I like the bell schedule. I also like chicken noodle soup, but I’m sure you already knew that. Although I like all these things, there is one thing I have a problem with, and that, my friend, is the elevator. I hate elevators... Please help me. Sincerely, Mykheal Taylor Dear Mykheal, I’m sorry to hear about your phobia of elevators. However, they are an essential part of every two-story building. What would happen if you ever broke your leg? Hopefully this will never happen, but if it does, you must either overcome your fear, or crawl up the main stairs every day just to get to English class. I think students would be horrified to see a boy wiggling up the stairs for ten minutes, trying to reach the top. On a happier note, I am glad that you like C lunch and the bell
schedule. But I am even gladder, exuberant even, that you also like chicken noodle soup. I was actually not aware of this, but I will be sure to take note of it, because having a refined taste for Campbell soups is a star quality that not many people possess. Sincerely, Leanne Haas, Co-editor-in-chief
Dear Editor, I just wanted to let you know that the morning video announcements are way more interesting than over the speaker. I wish you did that every morning. It would make our day way better. Sincerely, Victoria Clayton
Dear Victoria, I agree, the video announcements always give students something to look forward to on Tuesday and Friday mornings, and I think that students tend to pay attention to them more when in video form. I think it would be great if all of our announcements were done this way, but the problem with this is that the video journalism staff is just not large and experienced enough to be able to produce videos every day. The upside to having only two videos per week, though, is that it gives the students more time to come up with entertaining ideas, and to put together the Dance Party Friday videos that everybody loves. Sincerely, Leanne Haas, Co-editor-in-chief
T R U C K S Alexis Agular staff writer
As she sits down, strands of her hair fall across the stripes of her starry bandana, her own American bandana. “I’m America today,” she FOREIGN EXCHANGE STUDENT says as she raises her head MARIA KRASNOVA DISCUSSES a little higher and smiles HER FAVORITE THINGS ABOUT proudly. TOMBALL, HOST FAMILIES AND It wasn’t always like GERMANY. this for Maria Krasnova, one of Tomball’s foreign exchange students. America seemed exciting, but too distant for reality. “We were all really awake, I probably only slept about ten minutes, I was so excited,” she said, recalling her trip to the U.S. last summer. “At one point you just want to get out, you want to see it. And then we started talking and asking ourselves do we really want this, do we really want to be an exchange student, one year not at home!” She remembers looking at Alina and Nina, now fellow exchange students at Tomball, as she danced in her seat and waved to the other excited travellers. “I remember we landed on the ground and we couldn’t come out for an hour, and so we sat there and we started saying things like ‘We’re in Houston! I want home! I don’t want to be here!’ ” she said. “You start to think, ‘Why did I do this?! I want the next airplane back home. I don’t want America’ … but it’s America!” Red. White. Blue. Maria adjusts her bandana that ﬂaunts the colors, in appreciation for her new home away from home and prepares herself to explain the anticipation of meeting her new host family. This is the climax of the event, it makes the annoying time spent on the plane worth it, makes the uncomfortable seat bearable, it even lightened any doubts she had. “They hug you and you’re like ‘That is my family for the next year,’” she said. “You just have a ﬂash, and after this ﬁrst ﬂash or shock, you just start talking, a real conversation. They are interested in you and you’re interested in them, but you’re really tired! It’s a lot of emotions all at the same time.” Her face brightens up when asked about her ‘new family.’ Her eyes scan the table as she reminisces of the profound memories she has made so far and tries to put it into words. “Most of my friends have siblings, so I know how it works, between siblings - how they ﬁght and how they love each other one moment,”
Photo by Jennifer Montalbano Alina Nuessing, Nina Heitmann and Maria Krasnova showe pride for their home country by showing the German flag. The group are all foreign exchange students at THS.
she said. “It’s funny how the mood changes fast.” Maria and her host family get along well, but for her it’s very different because she’s an only child. In Germany, she lived with her mother and occasionally other women in her family, so siblings have been a very new factor in her life. “It’s a big experience! They are funny though,” she said of her new sisters. “One will say ‘You took my Skinny jeans!’” she says with her hands in the air, “and I think to myself ‘Guys, there are plenty of skinny jeans!’” Maria has been on the go since she’s arrived. She’s in band and a
‘I don’t care what parties you have,
I went to the prom in America!’ number of AP classes. Her wrist ﬂies into action as the bell rings. She checks the time on her watch as time, again, winds her up like a spring - and she’s off to take on the next task of the day, which is usually school work. In Germany, she is a sophomore, but here in the US, she is a junior because of the differing school systems. She enjoys experiencing school in America, it’s different and exciting. “If I was rich and old, I would start my own exchange organization!” she said. “I would suggest it to all young people, if you can and you have the opportunity to go somewhere, to just take a look into other worlds, not just the one you’ve grow up in” Of course, the education systems differ, but the culture and the deﬁnition of a “normal” high school experience is also very contrasting. For instance, Germany doesn’t have Prom. “Of course, I miss my friends ” she said, “But then I think ‘I’m not going home, I’m going to the prom here!’ I don’t care what parties you have, I went to the prom in America!” When asked about the difference of the kid’s attitudes and traits in
America compared to Germany, Maria said, “German kids are much more independent.” In Germany, there are many options to get away from parents like taking the train and going downtown. Other than difﬁculty of keeping in touch with friends and family, Maria also expresses some of the things she misses about Germany and what she’s going to miss about America. Maria admits that she misses the ﬂat land of her hometown. “I could just grab my bike and I could just be like ‘Okay, I’m coming over,’ and here you need a car to go anywhere - it’s awful, especially since we can’t get our license when we are seventeen”. Maria ﬂips her hair up mimicking the breezy feeling of her bike ride to her friends house, but gets distracted by the thought of ice cream, and quickly puts her hands over her face ashamed. “But the ice cream here is much better, like I love Blue Bell and the cookies.” she said. “If you want my love, get me cookies and brownies and I will love you forever! I will also really miss the trucks- I love trucks.”
happenings the pickle man who
can’t be moved
Leanne Haas co-editor in chief
t’s ofﬁcial - the famous statue Tomballians have passed every time they drive on Main Street for over a decade has an identity: it’s a pickle. Originally green, the “Pickle Man,” as many have come to know the cylindrical smiling statue, has had a long run in Tomball. Before Pickle Man had been placed in its well-known spot, the lot in which it now stands was originally a furniture and hardware store. In the spring of 1992, however, the store burned down - and up from the ashes arose the Pickle Man. The Pickle Man was chosen as the mascot of the Italian restaurant that took over the lot in 1994. Famous for its fried pickles, “Italian Food Fast” served
just what its name suggested. The restaurant eventually closed down, and the lot was then sold to a small used car dealership. Pickle Man was painted in what is his current attire: Red, white, and blue. Though he has lost his green physique, he will always be a pickle. Just kidding. He’s in the process of being turned into a red pepper wearing a sombrero for a Mexican restaurant that will use the lot for extra parking. One thing is certain, though: the Pickle Man has become a staple for Main Street culture, and could very well stay in this town for another decade, standing in his rightful place as keeper of Tomball weirdness.
no ma’am, we’re musicians.
are you the police?
Rain Shanks co-editor in chief
ven if you don’t know the name of the restaurant, you’ve probably seen the two iconic suited characters from The Blues Brothers sitting on top of it while driving through downtown Tomball: Main Street Crossing. What started as a non-proﬁt establishment for worship and recovering drug and alcohol addicts, is now a staple in Tomball for varying genres of music, aspiring musicians and hamburgers. Senior Tori McClure played in front of an audiance for the ﬁrst time on Main Street Crossing’s stage. Matt Davis, MSC’s owner, invited McClure on stage when she and her family were celebrating her 14th birthday and came to the venue to hear him play. “[I] realized how much fun it was, and decided that I wanted to do it for the rest of my life,” McClure recounted. Since then, Davis has become her
mentor, helping her write lyrics and music. She still plays at Young Artist night, where musicians ages 13-20 can come and perform every third Friday of the month. But Main Street’s stage has also seen the likes of Tomball graduate Mike Eli, from the Eli Young Band, and rising stars like Lincoln Durham, Shake Russel and Randy Rogers. “You almost always have a chance to meet them, buy a CD, or get something signed,” McClure noted. Along with bringing some culture to downtown Tomball Main Street Crossing is ultimately working for a good cause. With Matt Davis playing worship music, it holds services every Sunday morning and evening, as well as Wednesday nights.
Superintendent John Neubauer retires retires after 4 decades with district Leanne Haas co-editor in cheif
ohn Neubauer has been with TISD for 46 years, starting his career in education in 1967 when the Cherry Street campus was an intermediate school as he taught sixth, seventh, and eighth graders. On Monday, Jan. 14, he turned in his letter of resignation from his position as superintendent. “The people of this great community have allowed me to serve all of these years,” Neubauer said. “I am a lucky man”. Neubauer has been superintendent for 16 years. Before that, he was a teacher, a coach, assistant principal and principal at Tomball High School. When asked if he viewed himself as an educator or administrator, the answer was simple: Educator. “I know that if I go to ask him a question about something, or ask for his help on something, I know there may have been a time where he’s been faced with the same decision,” Principal Greg Quinn said. Last year, a new district headquarters - one that included some of the building in which he first taught on Cherry Street - opened bearing the name of the tenured administrator - the John P. Neubauer Administration Building. “To still be working there, and work in a building that’s named for you, that’s different, that’s very unique,” Quinn said. “But Neubauer is very unique”. In his nearly five decades with Tomball, Neubauer admits that he is most proud of the accomplishments of the students. “Watching them achieve their goals makes my heart swell with pride” he said. English teacher David Youngblood believes Neubauer really cares about the students. “He has always been pro-student and pro-kid,” he said. “I truly believe that when he makes decisions he looks at what the impact on kids would be”. This will be Neubauer’s last year, and with this knowledge comes uncertainty.
Superintendent John Neubauer tosses the coin at the ﬁrst varsity football game between Tomball High School and Tomball Memorial in November. Neubauer is retiring after this school year.
“I really like what the school stands for now, and I’m scared that someone with different values would take his place,” English teacher Maggie Harden admitted. “He did a great job.” Student Council sponsor Billie Ann Dio is grateful for Neubauer’s presence in the district. “He is such a great pillar and leader of the Tomball community,” she said. “We were very fortunate to have him here to lead the school district”. He is looking forward to spending time with his family on his East Texas farm where he will finally have time to do “gardening, cooking, woodworking, and raising cattle and honey bees.” “He used to joke about always having retirement plans but never having plans to retire” Quinn said, who believes Neubauer truly “loved what he did.” The Board of Trustees will select a new superintendent at an unknown date. Candidates are sure to include some on the current administrative team. In the meantime, Neubauer will carry out his position until the end of June. “I have been blessed to know many wonderful people in this district,” he said, “but it is time to take a different path in my life.”
As principal at THS, 1992
As assistant principal at THS, 1976
Your Future, Your ChoiCe! At Lone Star College-Tomball, you matter. We want to help you advance toward that meaningful career best suited to your talents and abilities. We believe in doing all we can to make your college experience productive, enjoyable and profitable. What can LSC-tomball do for you? We can help you: • Earn an associate degree, workforce degree, or certificate • Earn transferrable credits toward a bachelor’s degree • Find the financial resources to attend college
it’s up to
Contact the Recruitment, Outreach and Diversity Initiatives (ROaDI) department today to get more information, schedule a campus tour and start down the road to the future you deserve.
delusions Rain Shanks co-editor-in-chief
t’s an herb, it’s medicine; it’ll get you addicted, lazy, and fat. According to WebMD, the shortterm side effects include distorted sense of time, paranoia, “Magical” or random thinking and short-term memory loss. People misunderstand the freedoms in America. Yes, smoking pot is illegal (at least in Texas) but Americans have a right to a free basic education, live with inalienable rights enforced by the government, and equal protection under law. We trade freedom for security. But as a nation, we have traded our security for a recreational drug. Regardless of your view of the drug, there’s little debate over the impact of drug trafficking. While marijuana alone doesn’t fund the cartels that now run our neighboring country, it is a major part of the illegal drug trade. And the wars that are fought there are not just encroaching on us, they’re already here. Marijuana dealing has created a hierarchy, and at the bottom of the totem pole are the growers. These people feel pressure from both sides. “The typical life of a Mexican marijuana grower involves hard work and pressure from cartels for increased marijuana production,” said a border patrol officer, who spoke to the Cougar Claw but asked to remain anonymous due to undercover work. “They also face
pressure from the threat of government eradication initiatives, which threatens their livelihood. “These farmers are typically armed for protection and are mostly poor and undereducated as well.” Unlike American farmers, these growers get no money from the government for their crops of corn, beans or cotton. In harsh times of drought or poor market, Mexican farmers don’t receive the subsidies that could cushion their income. Desperation and hunger turn farmers into marijuana growers. Then, there are the runners. Cartels will focus on uneducated, impoverished teenagers who come from broken homes. Their age is key for the cartels, as they are easily manipulated, allowing them to feast on them like prey. What often happens is that the victim, usually from border towns like Brownsville, Laredo, and McAllen, will be promised around $1,000 to cross the border carrying drugs. The payoff, however, is $10, if anything - but there is no justice system when it comes to illegal dealing. Rat the cartel out, and they lose their family. The cartels are not shy about using violence. In 2006, a Houston man was gunned down in front of his family at a restaurant along I-45 by a cartel hitman in a case of mistaken identity. “Organizations” such as the cartels have turned marijuana into a tool for financial gain and social dominance. And as it follows down this chain, it impacts regular citizens on its way to parties, parks
and Justin Bieber’s hands, here in the States. Like the rest of us, dealers in the U.S. have other opportunities. They just aren’t very appealing. The minimum wage does not make it possible to afford an apartment, a car and an education. With all of those expenses skyrocketing, it’s no surprise people have turned to dealing. Life is expensive, but drugs are always in demand. With border patrol and police departments cracking down on these people, the number of youths in prisons for minor possession have escalated quickly, with over 750,000 last year. States like Washington and Colorado, have used legislation to combat these numbers. Lindsay Gallot is a Marijuana Culturalist in Seattle, Washington, meaning she connects the growers to the vendors and the vendors to the markets. Gallot strongly believes in medical and recreational marijuana use, with personal testimonies of foot deformities causing her to depend on painkillers until she discovered the medical properties of marijuana. “Instead of people getting off on methadones, they can find relief in marijuana,” Gallot said. A drug that could be used to treat nausea, glaucoma, appetite stimulation, mucous membrane inflammation, leprosy, fever, dandruff, hemorrhoids, asthma, urinary tract infections, cough, anorexia associated with weight
loss in AIDS patients, pain, and multiple sclerosis, could give some traditional medicines a run for their money. “I mean, what are the side effects? Happy, hungry, sleepy,” said a National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws member who chose to go by the alias Heisenberg. Legalization has not yet put a dent in illegal dealing though, “for at least another year. Next year will be much different,” Gallot predicted. But still, Seattle is different from Texas. With many Tomball High School students second- and first-generation Mexican immigrants, it’s harder to forget the wars waged just south of the border. There are “225 documented gangs” in Houston alone, according to the Houston Chronicle, and the number of marijuana operations are on the rise. Some define marijuana as a drug, synonymous to alcohol with the power to destroy lives, families, and careers. Other claim it’s medical uses, with the power to revolutionize the lumber and textile industries, only made illegal with the justification of skewed studies influenced by propaganda. Physically, the effects of marijuana are comparable to alcohol. But it’s not the physical impact on the body, but the impact on the country, that needs to be addressed. For those in the Houston area, border violence hits too close to home.
One Small Step Leanne Haas co-editor in chief
e sits in his usual spot - a red and blue plaid rocking chair placed in the corner of the room, next to the kitchen in the home that he built himself. The television is muted; he is watching the news, his usual station. Occasionally, he leans in and cups his hand around his left ear. “I’m sorry, say that again?” he says every-nowand-then. “I’m about to get a hearing aid.” When asked his age, he sits up proudly in his chair, “I’m 77 years old!” Wood paneling and floral wallpaper embellish the walls of his house. Toys and playthings left out by grandchildren are sprawled about in the main living area. Knick knacks and porcelain dolls cover shelves throughout the house, including Mrs. Francis’ glass case, one she proudly keeps. Sometimes, she decorates the inside with small, dazzling white lights. They hold her favorite items which are exchanged frequently to a new theme every-so-often. During bright days, sunlight shines into large windows surrounding the stone fireplace on the slanted ceiling. On some summer days, the light is so bright that it becomes easy to forget the use of light bulbs. Despite all this, most gatherings are contained in the kitchen, the heart of the household, as well as John’s favorite plaid chair which resides next to the dinner table and across from the TV. If you could judge a person’s life by a single look into a window, this window would surely tell a story. Or, if that didn’t work, just glance around the back of the house. The first to be noticed are old cars; the kind that are seen on TV shows and perhaps internet auctions, the only diﬀerence being that most of them would need to be restored to qualify for such things. A 1935 green Chevrolet cross standard with black fenders, a 1941 gray Chevrolet, a metallic green 1941 Cadillac convertible, a 1946 maroon Chrysler Highlander (which happens to be his favorite as it is “well built”). These cars, among others, are some of the oldest. The list goes on. There has to be at least ten automobiles at first glance, old and new, and if one were to ask John himself, he would have to take a moment to count in his head, then give up and go outside to his
Man reflects on a life that left a mark on history garage and count each car, then the ones in plain sight, then the ones in the driveway and then to his second garage. Mixed in along with old cars, rust, all sorts of tools and random appliances are his wife’s items. An odd and beautiful backyard, a first-time visitor might describe it as a unique experience. In his backyard, John works on his cars. It’s a hobby of his, as it has always been - not that he has particularly been fixing things his whole life, but he sure does know how a machine works. When asked about his childhood interest in mechanics, his white, straggly eyebrows push together as he says in his matter-of-fact voice: “I’ve always had an interest in mechanical objects.” His thirst for knowledge was evident in his young years. He couldn’t count how many times he dismantled his father’s car engine, his young eyes taken aback by the complex structure of the motor. He can recall, however, being 14 years old and infatuated with his father’s brand new 1949 Ford and its shiny midnight blue exterior. He just had to prop open the hood of that car. “I didn’t really know what I was doing at the time” he admitted with a chuckle, as he recalled, “turning gears out of line.” His father wasn’t too happy when he found a mechanic’s fee of $10 on the monthly credit card bill. “It doesn’t sound like a lot, but that’s what, a hundred dollars now-a-days?” he said. His eyebrows raised and pushed together as he racked his brain for old memories beginning to resurface from decades of storage. And as it turns out, Mr. John Francis didn’t just rip his father’s car engine apart. Heck, he tried taking apart a train when he was 12 years old. A small section, that is, but a train nonetheless. It happened to be a certain antique steam engine on display in Silverton, Colorado that caught his attention. He was staying at a lodge with his family when he became obsessively curious about the inner workings of the brilliant machine. And from his own father’s toolbox, he tinkered away at the steam engine’s valves with the “borrowed” wrenches and screwdrivers, desperate to figure out where and how the steam was escaping. Oh, sure, he angered a few people in this de-
vious act. But like an angel, he courteously put each part back together and in its proper place as the fuming adults gathering around him began to smile. The seven-year-old John Francis was just as mischievous. He had just received a brand new Western Flyer bike for his seventh birthday. It was a beautiful shade of red, painted with white stripes; but what really fascinated him was the machinery itself. He reminisced over his fond memories with a sparkle in his eye as he described the marvelous chain and how it kept the wheels turning, but not the pedals, and how the brake system, with its cleverly designed rear sprocket, allowed him to come to a peaceful stop just by slightly pedaling backwards. He had to dismantle the whole thing, find out how it worked - how could he resist? Every piece was unraveled, and it became a puzzle for him
to figure out how to rebuild his bike. It took him weeks. And some feat it was for him, as he proudly recalled this as being the first time he really understood how a machine worked. By the time he had finished putting his bike back together, he knew all of its ins-and-outs. Turn the clock further back. Whatever demon possessed him to pick apart his parents’ brand new alarm clock, he’ll never know. He couldn’t have been more than five or six years old. Its shiny exterior excited him; the enticing ticking of the minute hand perhaps ignited
some sort of brilliant flame in his mind. But even after many decades, he can still recall the most exciting feeling; perhaps his first mechanical discovery being a spring in the back of a clock placed atop his parent’s table, as he examined the fine engineered specimen with all of its intricate gears turning so delicately. He had taken and stretched out one of its springs so far that “It wrapped around the whole room!” he exclaimed, the young-at-heart man’s lively hands reenacting the scene from his mind, his pointer finger whirling around in the air wildly. But as his parents walked into the room to find their brand new clock being dismembered, his sixyear-old hands managed to painstakingly ravel the spring back tightly into its original shape, or as close as he could get it, while his parents stood by. But it was too late; he was already hooked on mechanics. The clock, however, never worked quite right after that. John graduated from college when he was twenty-three. Shortly after, with his degree in mechanical engineering and BS in mathematics in hand, he was hired to work for Rocketdyne, a rocket engineering company (the F1 engine in the Saturn V he designed with his team that blasted Neil Armstrong into the atmosphere can be seen on Google images at the front of the company’s building). John was twenty-seven when he first heard of the news that the US was to enter the race to the moon. He didn’t believe it would happen. It was after a day at work that he came home to watch the president on national TV give a speech about the impossible. A hot day in Houston in 1962 on the campus of Rice University had the audience standing on the bleachers of a football stadium behind the president’s podium waving their hands over their faces, their eyes squinting into the sun, wiping their sweat with handkerchiefs. John Kennedy leans in to the microphone, “President Pitzer, Mr. Vice President, Governor...” he begins, his voice sturdy and strong, though squinting into the sun with the rest of the audience. He gives a brief history of humanity. He emphasizes the importance of technological advancement. Surely he is to announce something big. Jokes are made about the scalding heat, jokes are made about sports. But then there is a change in atmosphere. Kennedy raises his voice, “We choose to go to the moon” he says. Nobody laughs. Though this statement may have been used in jokes countless times before, the goal of going to the moon suddenly became a real and serious topic.
“Many years ago” he waves his open palm across the air, “the great British explorer George Mallory, who was to die on Mount Everest, was asked why he wanted to climb it. He said, ‘Because it is there.’” he clenches his fist in the air firmly. “Well, space is there, and we’re going to climb it, and the moon and the planets are there, and new hopes for knowledge and peace are there.” John Francis became part of this great plan unknowingly, at first. As he was part of the team designing an F1 engine as part of a five-engine rocket (thought to be a missile at the time), he assumed that it would be used for military purposes - perhaps, in the case of war. Though with rumors of how the moon landing would be carried out around town and especially in the office, he had no idea what exactly this engine would be used for until later in the planning. “Sixty-six thirty-three Canoga Park, California” John recited, more than once. His memory was sharp, he had a mind for numbers and detail. This is the address of Rocketdyne. “You can see that place on Google earth!” he would say, leaning in from out of his chair, his eyes wide, as if a picture had appeared in his mind in that moment. John loved his job. He swears that every morning, he would wake up excited for another day at work, and while driving his car there, he would ask himself: “Well, what do I need to learn today?” He felt like he was on the “most exciting adventure in the world”. John had left Rocketdyne and moved onto another rocket company, Lockheed, when the moon landing occurred. “I didn’t really think we could do it” he said with his eyebrows raised. There were so many things that could have gone wrong that he feared the worst; he thought the rocket would crash on impact. There was only one word to describe John’s reaction to the landing as he watched the TV for hours to see the whole broadcast: Surprise. After the astronauts had “splashed down” safely to earth into the ocean, there were what the engineers called “splashdown parties” happening everywhere. The engineers celebrated hard work, they celebrated possibly the greatest success of the century, they celebrated because they knew they were part of the great American system. They symbolized American ingenuity. That day was forty-three years ago. John still believes that the moon landing he helped bring about “changed the country.”
Keith Hawkins captivates students GUEST
Leanne Haas co-editor in chief
ebruary 15th was a cold Tuesday morning, as students noisily piled into the gym and waited to hear guest speaker Keith Hawkins. Keith started off his speech with jokes, reeling in even the hard-toplease kids with his relatable humor that somehow left everyone with a lesson learned. “Man, this guy’s good” became a commonly used phrase throughout the assembly through whispers. But then, he talked about real issues, things people don’t always like to talk about: the ugly truth. It occurred to many that day that, despite the fact that there lay in front of them a community of over a thousand teenagers, many felt completely alone. “It opened up my eyes to realize that even people I ‘hate’ go through the same hardships I do,” said sophomore Krista Kibodeaux. Keith brought the school together. That morning, it did not matter who you were or what you looked like. If you were human, you mattered. And the speech was for the teachers as much as it was for the students. Keith pulled out one certain student in the ﬁrst assembly. He picked junior David Arlen out of the crowd to come to the mi-
crophone, asking for the kid with “sick hair.” He asked him three questions. The last one, however, seemed to surprise David - he asked him if there was one person in the assembly that day who had made an impact on his life. David hesitated, trying to think of a student. He didn’t know many kids in the school well enough to pick out a certain person. But then, he raised the microphone to speak, “Mrs. Harden.” David picked her because last year was his ﬁrst year at Tomball. “She was just always interested in how I was doing and really made me feel important when no one else was,” he said, “She was just there no matter what.” Keith even made himself vulnerable, sharing with students his hardships throughout his childhood and teen years, having to live in the back of a U-haul truck at one point while in high school. He wanted the students to know that they were not alone - that there was hope for them. This was not Keith’s ﬁrst encounter with Tomball students. Over the summer, seniors Anna Liu and Kelsey Zalesak attended the National Association of Student Council conference in Yukon, Oklahoma. Keith was a keynote speaker at the convention. One thing stood out to them most of all: He told the assembly that every day when his children get home from school, he doesn’t ask them how their day went. He asks them, “Who did you help today?” And that was the start of it, right there. Inspired by Keith’s speech to make a difference in their school and become more aware of others, student council started the school year with a goal: “Who have you helped today?” The slogan’s mes-
‘WHO DID YOU HELP TODAY’ EFFORT
sage gained the most momentum, however, after Keith visited Tomball. “I walk down the hall and see the downcast eyes and hear negative talk, and I know that every student in Tomball High School has a story that the rest of us haven’t taken the time to hear,” said English teacher Maggie Harden. “When we left the assembly, I saw and heard a difference in the halls.” Keith said, however, that his goal was not to come to Tomball to Anna Liu with ‘who did you change anyone, but to “get people to think about what they do and help today’ bracelet why they do it.” After hearing Keith speak on Tuesday, junior Helene Weedn posted on Facebook, “As I sit in this class and look at my peers, I think to myself, ‘I know all of them. But why don’t I talk to them, why don’t I try to help them?’” Student council had red bracelets made with the “whodslogan printed in big white letters. Students shook hands with each other as a deal to keep their pledge and were given stickers to sign after receiving their bracelets. “The challenge is that we keep doing these things,” said Quinn, who sees this new positive inﬂuence in the school as an opportunity to create a tradition. “In my old school, we would have a speaker come and give a great speech. The next day, it would be as if nothing happened. Here at Tomball, I can truly see a change,” said sophomore Gabriel Gach. The glass atrium windows by the cafeteria are covered in hundreds of names- they are a daily reminder of the promising future of Tomball. They symbolize dedication to each other, as students, to never forget that at the end of the day, everybody is human, everybody hurts, and a helping hand is always Mr. Metz helping student council needed.
concerts & events
diane fuggiti amanda jentzsch
artistic tendencies going to:
01/31/13 02/04/13 02/13/13 02/21/13 02/21/13 02/28/13 03/05/13
Toyota Center Fitzgerald’s Bayou Music Center Toyota Center Toyota Center House of Blues Reliant Stadium
Born This Way Ball -Lady Gaga TWLOHA presents Jarrod Gorbel Fun. P!nk: Truth About Love Tour City And Colour Dropkick Murphys Lady Antebellum
: majoring in business
“my goal is to... become a marketer or advivertiser, which incorprates artistic vision and show my work in galleries.”
biology “I have chosen to not make art a career [because] I want it to be something I enjoy, not a job I have to do.”
undecided “I don’t want to make art my my major because I plan to make it more of a hobby than a profession.”
With markets changing, and professions evolving, seniors Diane Fuggiti, Emily Nero and Amanda Jentzsch explain why they love art but they’re not going to college for It.
“My favorite things to draw are portraits and people in their natural pose because there is so much that can be learned about someone just by looking and observing them.” “My whole family is artistic so it just come naturally but I do have to work on it.”
“I love animals and they’re a fun topic to bring to life in my artwork”
WISH I WAS A BALLER Leandra Carty staff writer
he varsity guys’ basketball team plan on making it to the playoffs by working hard as a team, showing maximum effort and continuing to excel each day. “We are off to a great start in the season, learning how to play as a team and continuing to get better each day,” Coach Schone said. “We are happy to see some fresh faces that haven’t played on the varsity team before.” With this week’s win against Memorial, the boys need to win
at least one more game and get a little help to secure a playoff berth. Having great leaders is also a very important part of the game and team. Junior Marqueese Grayson and Nathan Fannen are not only great leaders and a terrific part of the team, but they are two of Schone’s best returning players. “They were ready to help lead the team,” Schone said. With great coaches, a great team and lots of hard work hopefully they will be making it to the playoffs and doing their best to win.
A whole new
After powering through the season, the lady coogs are heating up. that’s right, play offs y’all. Leandra Carty staff writer
oach Karen Lemker is very proud of the girls and expects a lot from them; she wants them to make it into the playoffs. “The season is going extremely well so far,” she said. The girls knocked Tomball Memorial out of playoff contention this week. Lemker has eight returning players: five are seniors making their last appearance on the varsity team, two juniors, and one sophomore. “They are all great players,” Lemker said. “I’m happy to see the girls returning to the
team and making such great improvements.” Their work shows in the way that they play, all of which has gotten them to where they are now, starting 10-0 and ranked in the Top 25 in the state. “I am very anxious and excited to see where all of their hard work will take them,” Lemker said. “With Lexe Marks and Layna Waters leading their team to more victories, we wish our Lady Cougars the best of luck,” said team manager Destiny Lee.
Leandra Carty staff writer
ith thirteen seniors and a number of starters that have been together for four years, it should make it easier to play the new district. Tomball Coach Scott Slater seemed excited and confident to be taking on the competition in the new district teams. While the new teams pose a threat, Scott shrugged it off. “I expect to win”, he said. The team’s con fidence and hard work showed when varsity played Dekaney, winning 2-1 on Jan. 15.They faced old rivals in the pre-season. He is looking forward to the new experiences that come with the new district and is anxious to see how the team will do. “It’s hard to single anyone out as the
best player because we play as a team and as a group,” Slater said. Mack Light, Quentin Payton, Ryan Lapsly, Bryce Heudy, Kenny Torres Hernandez are some of his best returning players and Scott’s ready to get them and the rest of the team out on the field and winning their way to the playoffs. Their biggest challenges as a team will be not only playing a new district but also learning how the new teams play and adjusting to the replacements of last year’s seniors. “It’s difficult each year to lose good players that graduated, but new guys always step up to the plate and fill the shoes,” Scott said.
field Leandra Carty staff writer
girl’s soccer getting a head start in the new semster
omball high schools girls’ soccer is expecting to go deep into the playoffs this year, say the players. With tryouts finished and some fresh faces, Coach Martha Fancher was happy to see a few of her girls returning. Cara and Katie Haymaker, both seniors and two of the best offensive and defensive players will be returning. Also returning to her varsity team is one of her best goalies and wellliked player Rene Kelly. She has put together a very talented team with many players who
keep their heads in the game and work their best to get where they need. There will only be five teams in the new district this year, making it difficult to make up for any losses they might have. “I am looking forward to the new experiences that will come along with playing all 4A teams, they will be putting forth their best efforts to make it to the playoffs and come out on top,” Coach Fancher said. Players say that the team is like one big family ready to face any and all challenges that they might come up against with the new district.
it’s not easy
even though the golf team is downsizing to a new district, they’re still stepping up their game.
Micaela LaPeer staff writer
he golf team slaves away at practice three hours a day in order to perform at districts in the spring. They increase their potential at every practice by focusing on the mechanics, and “getting the perfect swing,” as junior Colton Stanaland would say. Tomball may have sized down to a 4A district, but the competition is still intense. They don’t know what Tomball is going to bring to the course. “The varsity girls have such a huge shot at going to regional’s as a team. It’s really exciting!” previous district title holder Maryssa Ferries said. Ferries is certainly holding up her end. She captured first place this week at the Klein Invitational after shooting a 33 on the back nine. “Maryssa’s first-place finish clearly shows she is one of the best in the Houston area,” her coach wrote. The players genuinely enjoy what they do. Some even participate in events outside of school to better their game. “We make sure to have fun while improving,” said senior Austin Owens. Owens recent-
ly won a charity tournament and continues to excel in school tournaments. Although their devotion to the sport is a big part of their success, the Cougars owe much of it to the man that works with them every day, the coach. “Coach Taylor not only betters our golf game, but our mental game, too,” Ferries said. “He really cares about each player,” Owens said. And Taylor knows just how to strike up a competitive spirit; him and Ferries are “battling it out on the course,” she said. “Whoever scores the most wins, but we haven’t decided what yet.” As of right now, Ferries is winning. The outcome of a team’s prosperity lies in the perseverance and discipline the team members have. It is clear that the Tomball Golf team has put an exceptional amount of effort in the success of their team. The corresponding passion all of the members of the team share make it possible for everyone to work hard and have fun participating in a sport they love.