Former Grade Level Principal Returns to Helix

Ms. Mimi Test, former Grade Level Vice Principal at Helix, returned to the campus on Monday, Feb. 23 – Friday, Feb. 27 to help oversee the class of 2017.

Ms. Test worked as the Vice Principal on the Helix campus for twelve years before retiring in 2006. During that time Ms. Test was apart of the athletics program, and took care of the issues that students had stress or needed discipline, and when she returned she kept in touch with the students.

“I love the kids, and working with the kids is probably the most rewarding, but also the staff and teachers’ total commitment to the success of the students. It’s more than just a job, it’s really a lifestyle, and that’s what I love about Helix.” said Test.

Staff members at Helix were overjoyed to have her back to help for the week.

Ms. Sullivan, Grade Level Secretary said “I really enjoyed having her here. She is mostly a lot of fun, but when she needs to be serious, she can be serious in a very supportive way.”

Since retiring from Helix, Ms. Test is still involved with Charter schools, working as the administrative consultant, along with enjoying time with her grand-kids and traveling around the world. “

She’s great, she gets along with everyone, and always has a smile on her face. We were happy to have her.” said Damon Chase, Grade Level Principal.

Instagram Controversy at Helix

We are warned about the dangers of the internet from a very young age, but most teenagers ignore these writings as nothing and another babble of nonsense their parent or guardian is talking about because “they don’t understand the internet.”

 However, this dangerous and sad truth about the harmful nature of the Internet and predators behind the screens is very real: students at Helix just recently came across this knowledge first-hand when over a dozen girls’ explicit pictures were leaked onto an Instagram page titled “helixhoes” without their consent, and even some girls who did not reveal anything, but were accused of allegedly performing sexual acts in the bathroom.

In this incident, even some observers were thrown into the mix by the creators of this page when they incorrectly tagged some of the minors in pictures that did not belong to them.

One of these victims of the incorrect tagging, sophomore Bianca Bajonero, spoke out, and said how she “felt uncomfortable and mad knowing that the people who [didn’t know her] would right away assume it was [her] and go around talking” about her.

Bajonero continued to mention that the only reason they finally untagged her and realized that the picture was not her, is when others started to chime in and tell the account about the incorrect tagging. “I told them it was not me,” Bajornero said, “But they didn’t believe me. They continued calling me names and they felt confident it was me.”

The harassment of the teen, as well as many other of the sophomore and junior girls, was reported straight to administration.

“Two of our male students came straight to admin after they saw what was going on and reported the incident,” Chase said, recalling how he came into contact with the page. “After seeing the content of the page, I immediately turned it over to law enforcement because of the nature of minors and the content.”

“They shouldn’t have posted that stuff,” Carissa Ramirez, sophomore and friend of Bajonero, noted, “It was really messed up to be posting personal stuff like that. It wasn’t funny.”

Concerning those who made the page and posted the explicit pictures, Bajonero just had one question. “Why?” she asked, “It wasn’t funny, this wasn’t a game, so why?”

According to Chase, the ongoing investigation will result in harsh consequences such as suspension or expulsion.

Chase then proceeded to speak about the seriousness of cases such as these. “I hate to say this, but we do get tips that involve things such as this fairly every day.”

Although teenagers lives are primarily centered around their phones, there is a filter put in place by Helix to help keep Internet usage safe and secure for everyone.

“For the most part, students are very responsible with their Internet usage,” Michael Ewing, Helix’s system analyst, said when referring to different incidents that happen around campus. “Occasionally we do have situations in which students could be making better decisions with the access that we provide,” he said.

“I wish students knew that once it’s on the internet, it’s there forever,” Chase said, contemplating on some of the dangers implicated in putting images on the internet, “Even if you delete the picture, it is still there. Somebody, maybe one, ten, one hundred kids might have screenshotted it.”

Chase mentioned how it could even affect your futures, because colleges look at students Facebook and other social medias, and these kinds of explicit images could reach out and affect your job acceptances as well as colleges. Students should think twice and really know how it affects your life.”

“Once something disrupts the environment at Helix and brings [the drama] to campus, that’s when we start to get involved.” Chase said, “It’s our duty to keep everyone safe.”

ASL Rocks: A Girl Who Wants to Be Heard

Hala Somo in front of the Performing Arts building

American figure skater, Scott Hamilton once said, “The only disability in life is a bad attitude.” One Helix senior is taking that quote and turning it into a vivid reality.

Hala Somo is deaf. She grew up in Iraq where, as a child, she had no schooling or language and the only communication to her family and others was represented in a variety of gestures. Due to her father’s concerns with the dangers and risks of the war in their area, her family suddenly decided to reside in Syria for a year. Shortly after that, her family made the huge leap to relocate to the United States.

Translated through an interpreter, Somo said, “I was so excited that I got to go to school. I went to CPMA (Creative, Performing and Media Arts School) for two years and I finally learned sign language. I finally found out that I had my own language. That I am a deaf person and I could be proud of that.”

“That was really all I was looking forward to: an education,” she stated.

Recently at Helix, Somo took up the project to host the 8th annual American Sign Language (ASL) Rocks event, a celebration of the deaf culture and language with a huge gathering and performances from students and deaf guest speakers. The proceeds earned from the event went toward the costs of Deaf Prom, making the success of the project an absolute must. The program is usually only assigned to deaf students, and given the opportunity, Somo decided that the task would be perfect for her senior project.

“I wanted to encourage hearing people to get to know deaf culture and get involved with others,” Somo said of her motivation. “But, the time management was the hardest thing. I was always 40 minutes behind my schedule and it was hard to deal with,” she continued.

It seemed like that extra time Somo put into her project was worth it. Along with nearly 40 volunteers, the event was held on Sat., Feb. 21 in the Performing Arts building and it filled quickly. With over 400 tickets sold and even more people in attendance, ASL Rocks was a huge success.

Somo recalled, “It was so full. People just kept on buying tickets. We were trying to look for more available spots but we ran out of seats. The event was perfect.”

Paulina Huezo, a senior and third year ASL student who attended the show, enthusiastically agreed. “I thought it was amazing. How she incorporated everything, the culture, and the language was just really awesome,” she said, “The facial expressions and everything that goes along with sign language was there and it was super cool.”

Another third year student, junior Sara Alshaheri, said, “Everyone was just there to experience the culture and people of sign language. I enjoyed being a part of it and seeing if I can understand and keep up with their signs.”

“Hala did such an amazing job. She was absolutely the best host ever. She was enthusiastic and involved and she was just great at everything. She is an angel from above,” Alshaheri commented with a laugh.

Somo’s grand success, however, drove a lot deeper than just increasing her prom’s budget. As a deaf individual, it is common for others to underestimate her ability to accomplish large tasks. Somo is the type of person to set those people straight.

“I proved to [people] that I can do it. I can do anything. I took up the job, I did everything I could for the hearing and the deaf people, so I proved them wrong,” Somo said.

Huezo believes along the same lines. “Deaf people can do anything else that others can do. All they can’t do is hear and that is nothing.They are just like anyone else,” she said. “Really it isn’t the disability that makes people disabled. People make people disabled. They are all such amazing people and should be treated as such.”

It seems as if for Hala Somo, her determination to educate and involve people in ASL culture will not stop here.

After high school, Somo will be attending CSU Northridge and, as of right now, isn’t exactly sure of what the future holds for her.

“I plan on either becoming a lawyer or a defendant for the deaf community…or I can maybe become an actor. I’m not sure yet,” Somo said with a smile. “I’m going to continue reading, writing, and learning all the different languages.”

One does not just simply meet people like Hala Somo everyday. It is clear that her attitude and personality speak volumes.

“I will help people,” she stated with her hands and one shouldn’t expect anything less.

Scholarships for Scotties

 photo Scholarship_zps9aaymrpc.jpg

(From left to right) Luke Holloway, Marcus Norris, and Jaylon Kuykendall at the scholarship signing at San Diego Hall of Champions.

On the morning of Feb. 4, three Helix senior athletes, Jaylon Kuykendall, Marcus Norris, and Luke Holloway, signed near full ride scholarships offers to schools they are all ecstatic to attend in the fall.

 

Over the years, Helix has been renowned for its exceptional sports programs, especially when it comes to sports such as football and boys’ soccer. As further proof of this reputation, the three scholarship signers did, in fact, sign for those two sports.

 

Kuykendall and Holloway signed to Northern Arizona State and Idaho State University with  full ride football scholarships.

 

“I’ve seen one of their games, and I was pretty impressed with the skills,” Holloway said about Idaho State. “I’m definitely excited to play with them.”

 

Holloway mentioned how his hard work and dedication paid off. “I’ve been playing almost all of my life, working at this sport to make myself and my team better. This is a great achievement, and just encouragement of my work.”

 

Kuykendall signed with only excitement and readiness to play for his new school. “The plays they run [are] a little different than here,” he said, “but it shouldn’t be that difficult to learn.”

 

He mentioned how he had received two scholarship offers, but after contemplating about the skills and which place he would best thrive, he chose to head to Arizona. He thinks his speed and aggression will prove to be useful at his new college as his position as a linemen.

 

Norris talked about his readiness to move on and play for Santa Clara.

 

“My first year is not a full ride scholarship, because there’s already a senior in the goalie position. Since next year is his last year, after that I will get a full ride for the rest of the years. However, my first year is about an 80 percent scholarship.” Norris said, “I don’t mind, it’s still a really good sized scholarship.”

 

His main focus is really to have fun and make friends with his teammates. “I’m going to be with them for all four years, and it’s important to make these bonds and just have fun out there playing. Nobody likes disputes  or useless arguments in the middle of a season.”

All in all, the three boys are happy to be accepted to such profound schools. It’s a “great experience, and [we’re] happy to be accepted and apart of it,” said Norris.

Spencer McCall Achieves a Perfect ACT Score

Spencer McCall, senior at Helix Charter High School, received a perfect score of 36 on his ACT college readiness assessment exam last fall.

“I had never heard of anyone who had actually gotten one of those,” McCall said in an interview with the La Mesa Courier, a local newspaper. “It seems like one of those things that doesn’t actually happen.”

Despite his surprise, Spencer did receive a perfect score of 36 on the ACT, a feat that fewer than one tenth of students who take the test accomplish.

Of the 1.85 million students country-wide who took the test this year, only 1,407 students earned a composite score of 36, making McCall very special.

The ACT is scored based on an average of the student’s score in the four sections offered: English, mathematics, reading, and science. According to the ACT website, the test uses the same score scale as the ACT Explore/ ACT Plan so that it is an effective tool in measuring academic growth and readiness for college.

Each section focuses on a specific aspect of the subject. The English section measures standard written and rhetorical skills, mathematics measures mathematical skills ranging up to the beginning of twelfth grade, reading measures reading comprehension and competency, and science measures the interpretation, analysis and problem-solving skills  required in the natural sciences.

The test is not crucial to college applications, but according to the ACT CEO Jon Whitman wrote, in a letter to McCall, it is one of many things that “colleges consider when making admission admissions,” as reported by the La Mesa Courier.

The ACT is a timed test with an overall time of three hours to complete all four sections. These sections have an allotted amount of those three hours and to complete the entire section in the given amount of time is often the most challenging aspect.

“The ACT is all about time management,” McCall said. “None of the questions are horribly difficult, it’s just — can you process all the questions in the time provided?”

McCall’s advice? Time management. It is also recommended to take at least one ACT practice test or to go to the ACT website and work on the practice questions offered.

Despite the difficulty of the test, and the seemingly impossibility of earning a perfect score, against the odds, Spencer McCall was able to take home  the reward of a perfect 36 for his hard work and efforts.

Girl’s Win Valentine’s Week “Battle of the Sexes”

In the honor of Valentines Day, ASB put together a “Battle of the Sexes” week to help with the hype for the upcoming Heart’s Day. The week consisted of four spirit days to show, as the name suggests, the battle between the participation and school spirit involving the sexes.

 

On Mon., Feb 10, it was the “Bows vs. Ties” battle. Girls were encouraged to wear their bows, while boys dressed up a little more formally with nice shirts and ties, and even some took it to the next level and wore bow ties.

 photo A2807F08-4F29-4E1E-A5C9-842E1FE22BE0_zpsyfonwxuq.jpg

Despite the spirit day on a Monday, there was an overwhelming success in the attire that students decided to dress up for.

 

The hallways were buzzing with girls in bows and men in ties. Some guys made it into a little competition about who wore the tie better between them. Overall, this day belonged to the girls, as a majority of them dressed up for the attire of the day, outnumbering the boys.

 

 photo 2769EE3B-3208-4798-9BA6-0F06331A79D9_zpspycgvpfp.jpgOn Tuesday, it was the battle between floral and camouflage. Many girls came to school dressed in floral dresses, skirts, and shirts, while boys in camouflage were ‘nowhere to be seen.’ It’s safe to say that this day had no clear winner, as the amount of camouflage and floral was about equal.

When Wed. came along, the students decided to switch it up a little. For the “Pink vs Blue” battle, some of the boys decided to dress and help out the female side of the battle, and vice versa with girls helping out with the guys. However there was no clear winner, but the spirit was definitely there.

When Thursday’s “Minnie vs, Mickey” came around, the school was filled with Minnie’s, but there seemed to be no representation of the boys. While Minnie ears, red skirts, and red and white bows were placed on nearly every girl’s body, there was barely any Mickey’s out there to help the boys win this battle. It was clear who was the winner.

 

Over the course of the week, both genders represented very well in trying to support their gender in the “Battle of the Sexes.” A sophomore, Jennifer Barillas, said how the spirit days were “cute and easy.”

 photo 17004963-8BA5-4845-8351-5D6C7CE79326_zpskt6oetpn.jpg

Mickey oh Mickey, where art thou Mickey?

 

An ASB representative, Teagan Deleon, a sophomore, was not pleased with the number of people who actually dressed up for the spirit week, but she was happy that ASB promoted so well for this week.

 

“ASB is trying to promote the spirit weeks as much as they can,” Deleon said, “This spirit week was better with it, and hopefully when the next one comes along there will be even more participation.”

However, junior Jack Laymen said how he enjoyed the simplicity of the days. “I didn’t have to put much thought into the days. I could wake up and look in my closet and get dressed. It was easy and fun.”

 

Although some of the battles the girls might have lost, they sure did win the war in promoting their gender and their school spirit.

 

Helix Class of 1964 50 Year Reunion

In Aug. of 2014, Helix’s graduated class of 1964 reunited to celebrate their 50th class reunion. Being the big 5-0, it was quite an event, spanning three days and including 170 Helix alumni in attendance. Unfortunately, 60 of the class of 1964 had passed on.

On the Friday of the reunion, all of the graduates that were able to attend met at the Barefoot Bar down in Mission Bay, where they got some time to relax and catch up with old friends and foes.

“Everybody was really on their own”, recalled Margaret Hindu, event coordinator and Helix alumni, it was really just a time to “sit around and talk”, she said.

On the second day of the reunion, the alumni met at the Handlery Hotel where a dinner was prepared. There was a DJ playing music and the attendees spent the night talking, dancing and reminiscing about their high school lives, as some people who had not been able to attend the previous night’s festivities  joined in  a day later.

“We had a photographer taking pictures, and sat around went, ‘goodness, you look the same as you did before’. Some of the guys you wouldn’t recognize if they tripped over you, but others you would know in a [heartbeat],” reminisced Hindu.

On Sunday, the Alumni gathered at their alma mater for a tour around campus  to see what had changed since they walked the halls in the 60’s. An interesting fact- something the graduates noted was that the current scottie dog depicted around campus as Helix’s mascot is more aggressive than the one they had when they went to school.

As the coordinator of the entire reunion, Hindu suggests to all graduating classes to keep in touch with one another, and to utilize social media so that when it comes time for a big reunion, that everybody knows what’s happening because “people move around a lot and it gets hard to keep up with everybody.”

For the graduated class of 1964, getting that three day weekend to catch up, reminisce, and see what their old stomping grounds have turned into was a great experience.

 

Parent Shadow Day

On Jan. 21, 2015 at Helix Charter High, parents lined the halls and followed their children to each and every class.

 

Parent Shadow Day, a day where a working parent can take off from work and observe a day in the life of their child.

 

Helix had a short day, classes started at 7:50, and ended at 1:15.

 

Nicole Robles, a parent of a freshman, said she was, “excited to see what his day was like.” She was glad that her son had invited her to Parent Shadow Day.

 

Robles mentioned that compared to Back to School Night, where teachers show what students have already done, Parent Shadow Day allows parents to see the actual process. “But, it’s good to offer both, if parents can’t make one or the other, but I’m glad I can participate today” she said.

 

Celeste Montgomery, parent of a senior, has attended all four years of her daughter’s Parent Shadow Day’s throughout her high school career.Montgomery said she likes to see who the teachers are and what they are teaching. She said, “we get a better idea of what students are learning and how they’re learning it.”

 

“I would definitely recommend attending Parent Shadow Day because it helps you understand what your kid goes through each day” said Montgomery.

 

Although many parents view this as a great opportunity, not all parents are able to attend.

 

“My mom has never attended one,” said Isaac Ojeda, junior, “she’s always been working.”

 

Ojeda said, “Personally, it makes me think that my parents don’t have trust in me that I actually behave or do my classwork, but it’s whatever. It could be fun, I just don’t find the even necessary.”

 

While some students may share the same feelings, parents who are still involved in their children’s education are grateful for the opportunity.

Montgomery said that her daughter had a timed writing and she couldn’t pull out her phone and interrupt the class, “If you’re going to attend, bring something to do, but definitely come.”

Helix Renovations Put On Hold Due To Alpine Lawsuit Against GUHSD

In recent years, there has been plans to build and renovate much of the Helix campus­ but these plans have been put on hold, and some possibly cancelled due to a change in funding.

Helix’s main project was to be a student center in place of the current 1300 buildings. The student center was supposed to be a resource for students to use computers, go to for tutorials and more.

Citizens of Alpine and the Alpine Union School District filed a lawsuit on 17 Oct. 2014, because of California Proposition U, which states that schools in East County will be renovated and modernized, and that there will be a high school built in the Alpine/Blossom Valley area, according to smartvoter.org.

For this agreement to be carried through, there must be 23,245 enrolled students in the Grossmont district, but Alpine is about 2,000 students short of this requirement. As an effect, the approximately $23.5 million that the Grossmont Union High School District, or GUHSD has used for land development and preparation for the new high school, is all that will be done until the student population increases enough to meet requirements.

“There was a trigger, they call it, where the population of students throughout the district including Helix and Steele Canyon had to be at a certain level and that level was met very briefly but not when they had the land and they had the school ready.”

The new Alpine school would be part of the GUHSD, which would allow them access to funding from the district. Alpine citizens have been petitioning for a high school there for about 20 years, according to Ashley Dulaney for The Saga, a local publication.

“In 1997, GUHSD issued Certificates of Participation to fund, among other things, a new high school in Alpine,” said the Grand Jury Report. “GUHSD used the Certificates of Participation funds to instead construct Steele Canyon High School in Jamul.” The report also says that there were numerous other agreements broken by the Grossmont Union High School Board, which was a disappointment for Alpine citizens.

When the lawsuit was filed, the superintendent of the GUHSD and chief executive of Grossmont was Ralf Swenson.

As there is no public high school in Alpine, most high­schoolers must travel an average of 30 miles to school every day.

In 2014, Prop H was passed, entailing that there would be renovations made to GUHSD schools and that a new high school in Alpine would be built. In the last 10 years, there have been numerous attempts and propositions for the Alpine high school, all pushed aside by the district.

In the lawsuit, there are 54 complaints about the negligence of the GUHSD.

The following are the entailments of Prop H that affect Helix:

Helix Charter High School

  • Modernize career job training classrooms for printing and graphics programs
  • Improve technology and classrooms, computer labs, and classrooms for college preparation
  • Upgrade/replace heating, ventilation and air conditioning units with more energy efficient systems
  • Upgrade aging safety systems including fencing, security cameras or lighting for improved safety/security
  • Replace deteriorated buildings with new joint-use multipurpose facility for large group instruction
  • Create college/career education and counseling center
  • Renovate school spaces to improve one-stop access for student support services
  • Repair and renovate school cafeteria
  • Modernize boys and girls physical education and instructional support spaces

The biggest project on this list is the “college/career education and counseling center.”

The center would go where the current 1300 buildings are situated, but Dr. Lewis, Helix’s executive director, who was an official on the GUHSD for 17 years, said the project, along with all the other repairs and maintenance, will be put on hold until 2016.

After School Craft Aspire

Crafting is always a creative and fun activity, and that’s exactly what you can expect to experience at Helix’s Aspire craft program. In room 520 after school on Tuesdays and Thursdays, starting at 3:00, students can come to let their ideas flow and creativity peak.

On Thursday, Feb. 10, the crafts available for student to make were bookmarks, bracelets, necklaces, or pretty much anything their mind was set on. This Aspire program helps bring out the inspirational and unique side of anyone, and offers fun activities every meeting.

“I really liked doing crafts. I’ve had a business for over 30 years of doing crafts, and when Mrs. Trevino asked me if I thought the students would be interested, I said I’d love to share this with them.” stated Judy Kirk, director of the program.

Kirk decided that reaching out to students and opening up the school’s very own craft club would help with students who have an interest in crafting, whether or not they have the resources to make them at home.

“It was really fun, and something new to see here at school. I would love to come back to this and see what else I can make,” Danielle Dasilveira, a sophomore who attended one of the Aspire meetings, said.

bracelet made at the craft Aspire by Danielle DaSilveira

The program is very welcoming and friendly, and everyone involved is ready to help or ask any questions students may have about the options available for what to make.

“Everyone there was supportive, and really kind. Asking for help or advice and receiving positive feedback was really helpful when it came to trying to make the crafts.” recalled Dasilveira.

The program is held twice a week, and offers a place for students to be themselves and have fun. The craft materials are already provided, and Mrs. Kirk is willing to help, so there is no need to worry or be held back by any concerns there may be regarding putting together something like a necklace or earrings.

“I think everything that opens creativity in your mind is good, so focusing on something else that is a positive outlet is a great influence on students here.” stated Gabby Carbajal, who is in charge of 11th and 12th grade attendance and brought her young daughter to one of the meetings.