Central Italian Towns Demolished by Earthquake

According to Italy’s Civil Protection Department, more than 247 people were killed and at least 1,000 displaced in Italy due to a 6.2 earthquake striking in the middle of the night on Aug. 24. The small centralized towns of Italy have been affected the most. The earthquake was so strong that it awakened residents of Rome. It was followed by at least 200 aftershocks.

“Half the town no longer exists,” said the Mayor of Amatrice, Sergio Pirozzi referring to Amatrice.

According to CNN, a firefighter dug through rubble clutching for a little girl buried beneath after the quake. Upon rescuing the 8-year-old girl, the surrounding crowd applauded the firefighter.

Immediately following the quake multiple ambulances racing on a main road where a courtyard had been turned into a makeshift morgue, as reported by The New York Times.

Rescuers struggled to reach people in the remote towns as claimed by CNN.

The Director of the Civil Protection Department, Fabrizio Curcio, said that the earthquakes were strong and national emergency procedures had been put to use.

Working through this horrific natural disaster, the Prime Minister, Matteo Renzi, raised the spirits of the distraught citizens. He compared the community to “a family that has been hit but won’t stop.” He vows to rebuild what has been destroyed. “Reconstruction is what will allow this community to live and to restart” he stated.

Whilst President Sergio Mattarella was saying “the entire country should rally with solidarity around the affected populations,” Pope Francis called for prayers for those who were impacted and their families.

Leaders of the U.S.,  Russia, Germany, and France expressed their concerns for the affected cities and towns. Italian Voluntary Blood Association has requested blood donations to help those in need, according to CNN.

Renzi reassured members of the community with his words of encouragement. “No family, no city, no hamlet will be left alone, he said.”

This event will be forever instilled in Italian history but they will stay strong and push forward together.

New to Helix But Not to Teaching

 photo pasted image 0_zps0alrpvi5.jpg


This year, New Jersey born mathematics teacher, Ms. Kristen Huy, is going onto her second year of teaching here at Helix.

Huy herself enjoyed high school better than many other people, being that she “attended a performing arts school and spent half of the school day dancing,” remarked the math teacher.

She reassured that she, “had a really good high school experience. [She knows] some people don’t really care for high school.” Enjoying the experience as much as she did, she returned to spread the her for learning.

A student of Huy agrees that she is supportive, nice, and has a good sense of humor.

Complementary–but not 90 degrees–to her dancing career, she said “I was super active in high school, I did tons of clubs, and community service things, and I was on the dance team.”

“After college, I came out to California, and I started teaching at a school in Encinitas called San Dieguito Academy,” she remembered when speaking of the start of her career.

After working there for four years, she said “I decided I wanted something a little bit different, so I applied to Helix Charter and I got the job. So this is my second year here.”

Fellow math teacher Mrs. Rachel Bunch emphasized that she’s, “so happy, [Helix staff] is so lucky to have her. She’s awesome…she brings that fresh perspective and she works really hard.” Alongside that, Bunch describes her as an awesome team player and a member of staff who works really well with other colleagues.

Huy explained that her mother is a math teacher as well, in New Jersey, and she lead down the same path of teaching young individuals, like mother like daughter.

As for her teaching, Bunch also added that she, “knows that kids respond really well to her.”

“As a little kid I would always say ‘I’m going to become a teacher’ just so I’m like my mom,” she joked.

Despite the desire to become a math teacher, she did once want to dance as a Rockette in New York City, recounts the dancer.  She smiled like the dream was gone but not forgotten.

When asked about her favorite experience of being a teacher, Huy heartfeltly described that her “favorite part is getting to know some of the kids outside of class, actually talking to them, and learning about different things that are more personal.”

Working seven hours a day, five days a week for ten months isn’t enough, however–as this is her seventh year teaching in England, she claimed.

She started teaching dance in England during the summer, but said “I started teaching math classes during the summer on my off time” because she felt more cut out for it. Although she had a desire for dancing, her natural affinity for mathematics made her decide to take the route she did.

The move to California, the Golden State, is a dream for most, but Huy said “I thought it was a good idea, so I packed up after graduation and moved out here just for a change, really, and now I’ve been out here for six years.”

Aside from the regular school year, teaching during the summer, and the occasional pivot, the teacher said she does “yoga, or goes for hikes, [and she] really like[s] to read a lot.” Sometimes this busy math teacher goes, “through 2, 3, sometimes 4 books for the month.” In addition to  that, she mentioned that she does go to the beach often.

Although at first “kind of intimidating” says a student of hers, in the end she’s, “very nice and she has a sense of humor.”
Bunch described her feelings for Huy well when she said she, “knows it’s only her second year here, but it’s like she’s been here forever.”


Helix Freshmen Run the Extra Mile

 photo IMG_7382_zpsukgnuple.jpg

They are only a month and a half into their high school careers, and five young Scotties are already making strides on the track.

Jacqueline Hammack and Gabriel Goossens are just two of the freshmen currently running varsity on Helix’s cross country teams. The other ninth graders that make up those varsity spots are Ariana Adamson, Amya Jones, and Reina Oliver.

Helix’s Athletic Director, Damon Chase, commented that the determination of athlete eligibility relies almost solely on the skill basis of the freshmen, and in some cases, their age. So, these freshmen put in the extra work to be recognized as exceptional by head cross country coach Babey Wagnew.

Chase also believes that as more freshmen enter Helix already excelling in their sport, “our programs become stronger. If you have a nucleus of students that start at the varsity level, it certainly lends itself to a better team as they progress throughout their high school years…When you have a young team and that team stays together and goes all the way through, those are the teams that win championships at the CIF level,” he said.

Luckily, neither Hammack nor Goossens were new to running coming into the Helix program. Hammack previously ran track and field, while Goossens got into running during his years in middle school.

Both Hammack and Goossens also had the motivation to keep their skill sets within the family, as older brothers Joey Hammack (℅ 2017) and Joshua Goossens (℅ 2018) also run in the varsity meets.

Hammack stated, “I really wanted to make varsity, because it’s my brother’s last year [at Helix], and I want to follow in his footsteps.”

The two athletes also had college on the mind, despite only being freshmen.

Goossens hopes to “get a scholarship with cross country.”

Hammack mentioned that running may help her get into colleges, as well as “look good on [her] transcripts.”

But these two students were also able to see beyond the running aspect of cross country, with Hammack even calling her team a family. She added, “They teach me tips and tricks for running to help me get faster, as well as giving me advice about my classes.”

Goossens said that he has learned the importance of “sportsmanship and support towards each other” from his upperclassmen teammates.

Despite their young age, both freshmen also have the ability to teach some of their older peers valuable lessons. Goossens hopes to be able to teach the others on his team the importance of hard work and perseverance, and that putting in the extra effort can be beneficial to them in the long run.

Although it is still early in the cross country season, Jacqueline Hammack and Gabriel Goossens are already doing exceedingly well in their meets.

At the Wolfpack Invitational on Sep. 7, Hammack placed 14th out of 90 runners, setting a high school personal record of 10:40 for 1.5 miles. Goossens did similarly well  setting a high school personal record for himself with a time of 19:17 in the 5,000 meter race.

Chase added a few words of wisdom to all of Helix’s freshmen, whether they are student-athletes or not: “Get involved. Get involved and participate. It doesn’t matter if it’s a sport. It could be the chess club, it could be the Harry Potter club. Just get involved in something, and it will make your high school experience much more worthwhile,” he said.


All Heroes Don’t Wear Capes

Ryan Wilcox was a 18 year old local San Diegan and Grossmont High School student, who was battling a rare blood disorder called Secondary Myelodysplastic Syndrome(MDS).

Wilcox had a brain tumor when he was three years old and had it removed when he was seven years old. In Apr. 2015, he had a bone marrow transplant then relapsed from the transplant.

Ryan was a die hard Captain America and Avengers fan.

While Ryan was in treatment, Gwyneth Paltrow(American actress, singer, and food writer), put out an announcement about Ryan’s wish  and sickness; inviting Chris Evans and Robert Downey Jr. for a road trip down to San Diego.

On Paltrow’s instagram (@gwyenthpaltrow), she posted a photo of Ryan and Chris Evans, and Robert Downey Jr. altogether and captioned the picture, “Today @ryanwilcox0303 got a little surprise. Thank you to the incredible #chrisevans and my better work half @robertdowneyjr for being the men you both are. And thank you to the Wilcox family for your hospitality! #ryanstrong”.

News channels became interested in his story and interviewed him to see how he was doing and to see what his lifestyle was like. Students held a social media rally in his honor and held a banner named “#ryanstrong” and it helped people spread awareness.

On the morning of Sept. 3 2016, Ryan passed away; in his home with his family right beside him. Grossmont held a vigil on Sept. 5 2016,  for the “super hero teen” and carried tons of support to the family from the school district and friends. Grossmont asked the whole district to help spread awareness by wearing the famous Captain America colors; Red, White and Blue.

“We as Helix, apart of the Grossmont High School District, really see ourselves as a united school in general. We may have our rivalries, but that’s on the field and off the field, we’re all San Diegans we’re all part of the Grossmont Union District and we’re all connected with one another. When a tragedy hits, we all wanna react and give our best support because even though he was a Grossmont student, at heart he was a San Diegan, and Helix we welcome everybody and everything so we just wanna show our support for the Grossmont foothillers who are totally mourning their students” Jennifer Barillas, Helix ASB president said with a sincere smile on her face.

Ryan Wilcox will always be remembered for the true and brave hero he was. He was strong and inspirational, teaching people to fight for what you believe in.

Ryan showed people that he was a fighter. He was a strong loving young man who left his friends and family too soon.

In Loving Memory of Ryan Wilcox

Julie Foleno and Her Happy Feet

Before becoming a tap instructor, coach and interpreter at Helix Charter High School, Ms. Julie Foleno came down all the way from Chicago, Illinois to be where she is today.

Foleno moved around various schools because of her job of an interpreter and has settled at Helix since coming to California in 2008

Starting Aspire Tap was something unexpected. It began developing when Helix teacher, Mrs. Leighton, mentioned that she wanted to learn how to tap dance. Foleno replied to her that she tap danced professionally in Chicago and would be more than happy to teach her.

Foleno commented that she “started a staff class, then started an Aspire program and [she] didn’t even know what Aspire was.” It was for the passion and love of tap and the fact that it catches the attention of many people.

She mentioned that she was a self-taught tap dancer and loves that she was able to open up Aspire Tap to anyone at Helix. Now many students can start off from no knowledge to some knowledge about tap and still walk out of Foleno’s class gaining more knowledge than what they had before, or can still grow from where they were before, because there is always more room for growth and tap can provide that.
Aspire Tap has gone from performing Helix Homecoming halftime shows to at least more than 20 performances in and out of school.
Foleno has been an instructor for Aspire Tap for three and going onto four years. She loves working with over hundreds of students as well as creating a bond with many.

Helix Charter senior and student of Foleno’s for two years, Samantha Gossens, would describe her as an “encouraging, dedicated and positive person all around.”

When asked about Foleno, Gossens was quick to say that she admires the qualities Foleno has in the way that “she cares about other people” and how she will “always be honest and will want people to always do their best.”

Another Helix student sophomore, Alisa Preciado, also commented that she “likes how she is very encouraging… and will always push her students to their best and full potential”.

When Foleno was asked on how tap has impacted her personally she had so many positive things to say all at once that she lost her words.

Foleno without hesitation said, “tap dance of all things has definitely become popular here at Helix and I’m glad that so many people are willing to join.”

Let’s Talk About Communications

Communicating doesn’t seem intimidating until you’re standing in front a large class or in front of those dreaded judges we will all face one day as seniors completing Senior Project Defense.

This year, Helix is offering a brand new communications class that offers students the opportunity to develop interpersonal and presentation skills. The class meets only on B-days and will be held for one term, and even manages to meet the elective (G) credit for the A-G requirements.
Perhaps you may feel like Mahamed  Abdulahi, a freshman at Helix who had no idea the communications class even existed. But it does. It’s real, and it’s here.

The Communications class is a new course that was recently presented by Mrs. Dolphin, Mr. Reams, and Mr. Greg Osborn, as he is the lead speech teacher.

This class focuses on improving verbal and non-verbal skills, whether it be a regular conversation with a peer, or an important job interview.

Mrs. Dolphin hopes for this class “to begin as an elective and then become a graduation requirement.”

The class began when teachers noticed that students needed to improve their presentation skills, as well as ordinary communication such as face-to-face speaking and e-mailing.

Dolphin claims that the class goal is to “get what you want out of a conversation” while of course, “not in a sinister way.”

Mysti Poumele, a junior in the new communications class, admits that she thought the class was only to “help us talk better,” yet never expected there to be so many speeches to analyze and present.

According to the class syllabus, there are a total of three formal presentations in the term–thus being two speeches and one interview.

The class has less homework than other academic classes, however, it expects active listening and participation every time the class meets.

This year, the class is being taught by Mr. Reams during fourth period and Mrs. Dolphin during second period on B days.

As Mrs. Dolphin said, “the students that are the most scared are probably those who need it the most.”

Hailey Parkman’s Baby Senior Project

Hailey Parkman, a senior at Helix, decided to look at the Senior Project from another perspective.

While others are busy creating cookbooks, or making large, shiny surfboards, Parkman decided to be more realistic with her project and chose to be a teen mom.

Or at least, pretend to be one.

The project focuses on the effects that teen pregnancy has on teen moms who decide to stay in high school, Parkman said.

Parkman was originally inspired by the women in her family who had happened to have babies as teens. “My step-mom had her first baby at fifteen, and then my oldest sister had her first baby at seventeen, and my real mom had me at seventeen, so everyone in my family were teen moms,” she said.

Helix’s school social worker, Mrs. Danielle Yee, noted that she has noticed a decrease of teenage moms on campus in the last ten years, and from her own knowledge, teen pregnancy rate is low.

Surprisingly, the hardest part of Hailey Parkman’s project was to face judgment.

“One kid told me that I should go to Grossmont,” Parkman commented. Grossmont High
School is known for having a daycare service on their campus.

Parkman’s Senior Project consultant, Mrs. Beth Leighton, said that the most challenging part she noticed in Hailey Parkman’s project was “the responsibility of carrying that baby all the time with her and at a new school year and new classes where people would look at her and ask, ‘what are you doing’?” she chuckled.

With the experience she had, Parkman has decided not to have children right away, but wait at least ten years, or become more financially stable before having babies.

“I think she was prepared for what she was going to do,” Leighton said.

When asked what her life would be like if she were to have a baby now, Parkman responded with saying “my whole life would change. I wouldn’t be able to do sports, I would probably have to quit my job, I wouldn’t be able to go to football games, or the dances, or even go out with my friends, because I would have another person depending on me.”

The purpose of her project, was not only to prove the reality of being a teen mom, unlike the shows we see on TV, but also, according to Leighton, to “start conversation.”

“I had so many dirty looks on my first day of school,” she chuckled incredulously, “and even from my teachers.”

Despite her best efforts, Parkman is very well aware that the experience she went through wasn’t exact to the one other teen moms have to face, but believes that the judgmental looks she received were similar.

Parkman finalized when she said, “people judge people everyday. It doesn’t matter if you’re pregnant or wearing something that someone doesn’t like, you get judged. And I thought I would do something that would impact me, in a way that I would see what my step-mom, mom, and sister went through.”

College Fair

 photo 31a4f512-8e0a-410e-a848-98ac101beaed_zpsjvnhlnr1.jpg


With college application deadlines fast approaching, senior Jonathan Bojorquez hosted Helix’s first College Fair for his senior project on Saturday, Aug 10. He invited different Helix alumni from a variety of colleges to come back and talk with the students about their schools, experiences, and some of the positive aspects that they like about their perspective schools.

That afternoon, from 3:30-6:30, the ExL room,room 1600, buzzed with students of all grade levels excited to learn about different colleges and life after high school.

With help from Cathy Singer, college counselor, as well as his project advisor, Bojorquez contacted the alumni through a mass email asking them to be a part of this event.

Bojoquez managed to get alumni from colleges such as University of California Los Angeles, San Diego State University, University of California San Diego, University of California Merced, University of California Santa Cruz, and Princeton.  

“When I moved to America from three years ago, I didn’t know anything about college, and I really wish there was a fair that would have informed me about this,” Bojoquez  said. “My biggest hope is that I really help students. That’s the point of this project: to get every grade to get something from this project, not just myself.”

“I’m hoping this is something that will grow,” Singer said, “As a senior project, we were hopeful to have 10 colleges, and we have more than that, so it’s a success already. My goal would be that in future years that it becomes a really big deal.”

“I had a dream that nobody came[…] but it was amazing. We had up to 220 students come and learn something about college,” Bojoquez said.

Seniors Hannah Houston and Danielle DaSilveria were eager to find out about their top choice, University of California Santa Cruz.

“It was helpful actually talking to a student that went there opposed to just a counselor,” DaSilveria said. “You get real experiences opposed to just something they’re paid to say.”

“He wanted to bring [the C4Me] experience to more students where they could talk to alumni about their colleges,” said Singer, “so he put together an opportunity for current Helix students to talk to current college students who graduated from Helix.”

Bojoquez wanted to bring an event such as this to the school due to the lack of opportunities he had to,  “learn about colleges well before applying.”

“I wish I had something like this,” Bojoquez said, “because these are alumni who have gone through the same shoes that I’m going through right now.”

Alexis McCarroll, a Helix graduate of 2014 who is currently enrolled in Northern Arizona University, was quick to take up this offer of sharing her school. ”No one had something like this, so I didn’t get to ask people how they felt when they got up there, we just had ambassadors saying to go to a certain school.”

“It felt like the event was scripted,” McCarroll said, “I know that I wanted kids to feel like I went there, getting an actual perspective of I actually lived there instead of the whole spiel trying to get you to go.”

“It was a really good idea, I’ve had the opportunity to do a lot in college to talk to high schoolers and even middle schoolers and so It’s something that I like,” Daniella Gorreno, a Helix graduate of  2013 who  now attends Santa Cruz had said, “Helix instilled that in me to want to go to college, if college is the right path for someone then they should do everything to ask about it and helix helped people go and this community thrive.”

“It gives current students, especially freshmen and sophomores,  an opportunity to think more about going to college than they did before,”said Singer, “For seniors it gives them a really good opportunity to learn about specific campuses from a student perspective, and whether they’ll fit in or not,” she said.

Singer mentioned how, “Some students are too focused on ‘Do they have my major?’ or ‘Is it a good school?’’ While speaking, she air quoted the words because, to her, “what [makes] a good school?” is what students focus on.

Singer would prefer the students to know what the college students do for fun, what living on campus is like, and, most importantly, are people nice?

To her, ‘that’s only things you can learn from students not reading online or school to an admissions officer,” and it’s important to know what the students think.
Bojoquez  thanked everyone who came, and “hopes that they learned something useful.” As far as how the senior project aspect went and said he “gives this project a really high grade.”

Colin Kaepernick And His Right to Peacefully Protest

Colin Kaepernick is a quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, drafted back in 2011, sat during the national anthem for the first two pre-season games.

He received national attention when he sat down while in uniform; he didn’t receive as much attention when he sat before, the only difference being he was in uniform.

The 49ers quarterback  said “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” in an NFL Media reporter.

“To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.” Kaepernick was addressing the multiple deaths that resulted from police brutality.

Forbes mentions how the jersey sales went up after Kaepernick’s protest, as well as how he is receiving many supporters because of his peaceful protest.

The LA Times quotes Obama saying he supports Kaepernick “exercising his constitutional right to make a statement.” Obama then acknowledges how hard it could be to see someone kneel before the flag instead of standing, he also mentions how Kaepernick is getting people to talk about issues like “race, equality, and discrimination”.

A Helix History teacher Mr. Richard Sutton commented “I agree with his right to do what he did” acknowledging that Kaepernick has a constitutional “right not to stand.” Sutton then also said that even the “military is divided” by the topic of Kaepernick, some understanding that he has a right to sit, while others believe he is against  America.

The hashtag#veteransforkaepernick circled the internet with veterans defending his right to protest and his freedom of speech.

One veteran tweeted “my oath is to the Constitution and not Francis Scott Key’s racist song supporting slavery.”

A game that took place in San Diego on Thursday September 1, 49ers against the Chargers, resulted with boos from the crowd; they were relentless.

Kaepernick applauded the veterans who came in during the game. “You know, the media painted this as ‘I’m anti-American,’ ‘anti-men and women of the military, and that’s not the case at all” he said. He responded that he would donate 1 million dollars of his salary to communities and organization that are trying to help people and their communities.

A Helix junior Kathryne Wilson, said “I think it’s stupid that non veterans are trying to be the voice for veterans, it speaks a lot to entitlement”. She continued, saying that there are other factors why someone won’t stand for the flag, she also mentioned how race plays a huge part in the controversy, “But he’s a black man so it’s obviously gonna be taken into account.”

Update: 16 August

NFL commissioner Roger Goodwell commented on the Kaepernick controversy by stating    “ I think it’s important to have respect for our country, for our flag, for the people who make our country better; for law enforcement; and for our military who are out fighting for our freedoms and our ideals.” Disregarding the fact that Kaepernick wanted to protest against police violence. Kaepernick resolute on his right to kneel during the National Anthem, he plans to not stand for the remaining seasons.


Image result for kaepernick kneeling

New Bell Schedule

With the start of a new school year comes new teachers, new seats and, for the second year in a row, a new bell schedule. Helix now has a minimum days twice a week. Starting at 8:55 a.m. and ending at 2:28 p.m. on Tuesdays and at 2:55 p.m. on Wednesdays, these schedules are very different to last year’s schedule where the week would start at 10:25 a.m. on Monday mornings.

Michael Reid, Junior AP English teacher and member of the Charter Board, said that the change was made to accommodate tutorials, “in order to give equal tutorial opportunities for A/B classes.”

“This schedule will provide more work time for teachers and equal tutorial time for all classes.” According to Reid, this new schedule, overall, is seen as most beneficial for students who actually attend tutorial, yet there are still complaints about it.

“The ones that complain are the loudest, not the majority,” said Reid. This schedule has only been around for a short time so until then, the overall reaction must be waited on.

Karina Guizar, a senior, believes the new schedule is great because there is “more tutorial opportunities, instead of one day, students get two.”

However,”Some students may struggle with getting to tutorial both days.” Guziar said, she believes that students simply need to get used to the new schedule, but does prefer  the previous schedule because she could sleep in and study for tests on Mondays.

Linda Sullivan, Sophomore Grade Level Team secretary, has not seen any reactions from students and said, “The entire staff thought it was a good idea.” She also believes that as soon as students adapt all will be well again. “Everything takes time to adjust to, Sullivan said “ it’s not a bad thing that changes are made,” and they are always made with the students best interests in mind.

Regardless of complaints, this change was made by the Charter Board in order to benefit the students therefore, students will merely have to complain about more tutorial time.


 photo IMG_0584_zpshqeabqbi.jpg