Valentine’s Day Around Helix

Valentine’s Day, a day filled with candy, “I love you’s,” and a bounty of hearts. While some are willing to just settle in for a nice movie and relaxing night, others take the opportunity to take their loved one out for a romantic event.

Chase Bates, senior, is planning to take his girlfriend of six months, Brianna Ortiz, over to Sunset Cliffs and spend the day with her there, and end the night with dinner at Corvette Diner.

Tiana Canja, senior, said she’s not sure what her boyfriend Andrew Aguilar, also a senior, has planned for them. “It’s a surprise apparently,” said Canja.

Aguilar said, “Well, we didn’t get to go to Winter Formal, so I’m going to ask her to a Winter Formal of our own.” He said that he plans for them to dress up and go out to dinner, and to “dance the night away.”

Isaac Ojeda, junior, visited the store a few times, in preparation for February 14th. “I picked my girlfriend up some See’s Candies, and iTunes gift card, a sweater, and a card.”

Ojeda mentions that his girlfriend doesn’t like over-the-top celebrations, but he loves showing his love for her, so he will be taking her to the beach, “and every couple hours I’ll give her a gift, with a page explaining why I love her.”
However, Valentine’s Day isn’t only about the couples, Jack Layman, junior, said his plans consist of him and his best friend chilling at their house, eating pizza, and playing video games.

Coretta Pinson, senior, said that she won’t be spending the day with her boyfriend, “he has to work, so I’m going to go shopping with friends.”

Mr. Matt Smith, a Helix on-site substitute, plans to go spend the day with his family and girlfriend. “We’ll be having a nice day and dinner, plus I got her some chocolate”.

With Valentine’s day coming up, special sales pop up around everywhere, but nothing is as special as spending time with loved ones.

KPBS suggested some Valentine’s Day activities for people needing ideas. From “Couple’s Cooking Class,” to “San Diego Chorus presents Singing Valentines,” to “Be My Valentine Adoption Weekend at PetSmart,” anything creative, romantic, or perfect for a couple is located on this page.


Helix Aquatics Crab Feed

At 7:00 pm on Sat., Jan. 7, the La Mesa Recreation Center was busy with over 200 Helix Aquatics athletes, families, staff, and friends, all excited to begin the festivities at the 2nd Annual Helix Aquatics Crab Feed. The event featured each a silent and live auction and a raffle- the walls were lined with tables covered in baskets full of various gift certificates, sports equipment, restaurant vouchers, art, an oddly large amount of Hello Kitty paraphernalia, and countless other prizes, for the silent auction.

“The event was a success and I’m really proud of the outcome,” said senior and water polo player, Mimi Tadele. “We are so very excited to use this money for all the things we need for water polo, swim and dive!”

Junior Charlie Harris said “I’m really grateful of all the adults that volunteer their time to come donate money to our program. It really means a lot to all of us.”

Over 50 Helix Aquatics students came to serve guests and clean up. Over 150 staff and families donated to the Aquatics program, raising over $28,000 for facility updates including a sound system for the pool deck, new water polo goals, and shade for the bleachers.

Gillian Morgan, junior and varsity water polo goalie, gave a speech about how water polo has helped her. She talked about how she started out uneasy in her athletic abilities, but with the help of the other players and coaches, she has grown not only as an athlete, but as a person.

Aaron Knuteson, senior and member of the swim team, also gave a speech with a more emotional tone, as he told of his journey from a freshman who didn’t fit in, but finally found his place in swim.

Lenelle Wylie, science teacher and girls’ aquatics coach, was a major contributor in organizing the event.

“This event is an opportunity for the community to come out and show their support for Helix Aquatics,” said Wylie. “We had an outpouring of support from the community and our program will directly benefit from all of the proceeds of the crab feed.”

Pilot PSAT Prepares Students for SAT

On Jan. 6, approximately 80 Helix students showed up to Helix to take the SAT/PSAT Pilot Test to practice for the upcoming redesigned SAT, and to cash in on their $25 reward.

As College Board prepares to finalize their redesign of its standardized test, the SAT, the organization has chosen to include Helix in a research study for their redesigned SAT and PSAT/NMSQT, or Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test, assessments.

Although the trial administration was used as a study for College Board, Helix students still received the opportunity to practice for the upcoming test.

“[Students] were just excited to have a test situation that did mimic what the real test would be like,” said Mrs. Arica Villegas, Helix Counselor for the sophomore class and Director of C4ME.

Marcus Tucker, a sophomore, looking to take both the SAT and ACT more than once, believes that the pilot was a great way to prepare for the upcoming SAT test.

“It’s always important to study and be prepared for the test,” said Tucker, looking to continue his studies and preparations for one of academics most critical tests.

“This test was a fantastic opportunity for students to practice and get rewarded too,” said Mrs. Rosie Cech, Career Center Clerk for Helix. “Its great for our students and great for the school.”

Although students who participated received $25, the school as a whole will be receiving added benefits from College Board for their participation in hosting the trial administration. To demonstrate their appreciation, College Board will provide free access to the current SAT Online Course for all students in the school. This type of free resource will allow for students to come into the test well prepared and well practiced for the redesigned SAT.

Mrs. Villegas recommends that students, especially sophomores and juniors, practice and study for the ACT and SAT as the tests are one of the biggest factors, along with GPA, that colleges base their admissions on.

“We work with outside organizations to offer prep classes at a pretty minimal charge,” said Mrs. Villegas. “We have students go and get books from the library or places like Barnes and Noble and they work for [students] who work more individually motivated,” she said.

However, Mrs. Villegas added that the classes offered in preparation for the standardized tests greatly benefit students who are more focused in a classroom setting and have trouble studying on their own.

With the message that practice makes perfect, Mrs. Villegas wants everyone to be prepared and ready for these big tests that can make or break their college admissions.

New Year’s Resolutions Survey

On Jan. 13, the Highland Fling conducted a survey to learn about Helix staff and students’ new year’s resolutions for 2015. The poll, conducted through Survey Monkey, collected information from the first 100 respondents- here are the results:

69% of respondents said yes, they did make a resolution.

The majority of people had resolutions relating to weight loss/health, stress management, or they  opted to give personalized answers. Those answers included: “play better golf and be more patient with students,” “stay on top of my grades and live happier,” “better myself spiritually,” and “not eat meat.”

One respondent said “I do not like the idea of a resolution, but prefer a new idea. Rather than feel bad about the things I may not have completed or done as well as I might, I am going to add pieces of paper to a jar, each one listing an accomplishment I achieve during the year. Then, we celebrate the end 2015, I can pull all those bits of paper, out of the jar and reflect on the many things I am happy to have done!”

When asked how likely they are to stick to their resolutions, 79% of those surveyed said “likely” or “very likely to definitely.” The other 21% said it was either not likely, or they had already broken their resolutions.

48.67% of people are still working on their resolutions, while the remainder have already broken theirs.

Although this is just a snapshot of Helix students and staff, it is apparent that here at Helix, many of us are good at sticking to our goals, while a few still have some work to do.

What a Wonderful Winter Formal

On the night of Jan. 24 from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m., Helix held it’s annual Winter Formal dance at the Hall of Champions in Balboa Park.

 Lloyd Sabin and the Junior class sure made it a memorable night with rose centerpieces, a professional DJ, and the big red carpet event.

With dolled up faces, party songs, and a wide variety of things to do such as dance, hang out with friends, and free snacks, Winter Formal was a night that was not soon to be forgotten. Over 400 students and guests attended, and the Hall was filled with laughter, fun, and a raving crowd who refused to get off the dance floor at any cost.

Helix staff played the role of “paparazzi” and took many photos throughout the dance, and then created a quick slideshow to help commemorate while the dance was going on. The DJ took requests and attempted to reach out to all varieties of the music to please the diverse Helix audience.

Juniors Jade Flores and Benjamin Gonzalez were crowned “best actress and actor” upon votes by the junior class in theme of the Hollywood style dance .

However, despite the success that the dance produced, some kids were disappointed in some of the song selections, and the fact that the only slow dance was at the very end of the dance when most people had already left.

“The DJ did a good job on pleases all of the audiences in the crowd,” Flores said, “You can’t please everybody, and he did a good mix of all styles of songs.”

Other students who attended, such as sophomores Jennifer Barrios and Chance Larue, also agreed with Flores. Larue also mentioned how the songs he didn’t like gave him time to hang out with his date or rest so he could spend the rest of the night dancing.

The dance recieved many mixed reviews on whether or not this year’s formal was better than last years, but many attendees spoke on how the larger venue and snacks offered was a plus, and they would definitely attend next year if it was similar.

For some seniors attending, such as Sandra Huynh, it was an excellent final Winter Formal.

“Just the whole atmosphere was fun and lively. It was a good time, and I even got roses from some of the tables to take home,” Huynh said. “It was a Hollywood-night to remember.”

Mrs. Gibson: The Teacher Who Inspires During and After School

Mrs. Alicia Gibson, taking on the many responsibilities of being a English Teacher in addition to instructing the Aspire organization, has endlessly and lovingly helped students achieve their goals at Helix for eight years.

“We prepare kids for college and kids get the resources they need which makes Helix a good place to work” said Gibson.

The Aspire program began when Helix received a grant in order to help students after school, and Mrs. Gibson was chosen to instruct the organization.

Aspire is an after hours program available to all students to assist in remediation giving them core content material, and providing enrichment opportunities, according to the  Helix website.

Mrs. Gibson takes on the role of structuring any possible after school enrichment program by appointing supervisors for each meeting,  and making sure that the program meets the demand of each students.

 Mrs. Paula Ann Trevino,  Grade level Principal, said “Mrs. Gibson decides on the programs, makes sure that everyone is hired right, and makes sure that we have lots of different programs for all the students”


There are currently over 30 Aspire programs running under the direction of Mrs. Gibson. After school programs contain help in general education, sports, poetry, and arts and entertainment. Some of the programs include, Film Club, Helix Fitness and Military Basics.

While officiating after school programs, Mrs. Gibson also teaches both English and English as a second language. She  never ceases to help any student in need all while exuding a vibrant, fun and loving personality.

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 Kiana Jones, senior, said  “she’s really outgoing, friendly, always smiling, she brightens your day. She also helped me with my senior project proposal because she gave me ideas for what I need to fix.”

Jones also said attending the Aspire program, the writing lab helps because if you miss anything you can get what you need in the lab.
“All the kids like her. I love her, I think she works really hard and she has high standards,” said Trevino.

FAFSA, What Seniors Need to Know Now

The new year 2015 has arrived, and many Helix seniors gathered information for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) application which opened Jan, 1, 2015, helping seniors to receive money for college.

FAFSA is “the form used by the U.S. Department of Education to determine your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) by conducting a “need analysis” based on financial information, such as income, assets and other household information, which you and your parents will be asked to provide” according to Student Financial Aid website:

Students are eligible to apply for financial aid only if they complete FAFSA  for educational purposes, are a U.S. citizen, have a valid social security number, will receive a high school diploma or General Education Diploma (GED), do not owe any funds or student loans, have not committed any crimes, and if males between the ages of 18-25  have registered for the U.S. male selective service.

All qualified students can then complete the FAFSA application based on their personal experience concerning high school and college on http.fafsa.edgov. Parents and guardians are also asked questions according to their income, family household size and financial stability. Parents will need to have income and tax files when completing the form in order to accurately finish the application.

Savannah Mondragon, a senior, said “if I had all the information at first, it wouldn’t be as complicated. The hardest part of the whole FAFSA was understanding the questions with my home situation.”

Every student is urged to complete this form in the first few weeks of January, because colleges use FAFSA to award students with grants, and the students who submit sooner will most likely receive greater financial aid. The deadline for all California grants is Mar. 2, 2015.

Mrs, Gunion, academic counselor for the class of 2015 said that is important to apply because colleges use this federal form to determine how much financial aid a student can receive.

Finishing the application can take anywhere from 25 minutes to 2 hrs depending on when taxes have been filed and if families have information all of their information complete.

A workshop was also hosted Thurs. Jan. 22 by Grossmont College in accordance with FAFSA for seniors that have not started the application or struggling to finish.

Amaris Munoz, a senior, was almost done with the application in 30 minutes. However  she had to pause for a day to ask Mrs. Gunion a clarifying question and come back.

“By filling this out it increases my chances of being able to go to college. It makes college more affordable” said Munoz.

For Helix seniors, completing the FAFSA is a difficult and tedious process, but crucial for everyone planning to further their education.


Winter Sports Assembly 2015

On Fri., Jan. 23, Helix got the chance to tune into ASB’s new “channel”, the National Helix League (NHL) for the 2014-15 winter sports season. Hosted in the gym by juniors and ASB members, Jaycie Matthews and Jade Flores, the winter sports teams were recognized and physically challenged in a series of games and fun activities.

The winter sports participating in the assembly were boys’ and girls’ basketball, girls’ water polo, wrestling, and girls’ and boys’ soccer, respectively.

To begin the assembly, ASB coordinated a relay race involving various aspects of all the winter sports. Participating in the race were winter sport athletes and captains combined into two teams.

The race involved dribbling a soccer ball, shooting a 3-pointer basket, completing a successful wheelbarrow race and lots of enthusiasm as the sports representatives hustled to defeat the other team.

Next, Helix’s dance team came out to perform, however, some technical difficulties with the music and the speakers occurred that caused the performance to be put on hold.

As ASB attempted to figure out the problem, another activity was set up and student volunteers on the bleachers were picked to participate in the game.

Students donned in trash bags were challenged to find a piece of bubblegum in a pie tin full of applesauce. Once the bubblegum was found, the first student to chew it, blow a bubble and pop it won.

After a couple minutes of applesauce digging and gum chewing, junior, Forrest Hanlon, was the one who came out victorious.

While ASB members were busy cleaning up, Flores and Matthews took the floor to announce the theme of this year’s Airbands. Planned for March 13th, the two girls proclaimed the theme this year to be “Neon Lights” as the students in the bleachers cheered with excitement.

To finish off the assembly, the dance team reappeared to perform their routine. With lots of upbeat music and great choreography, the assembly ended with an energetic finale.

ASB assembly commissioner and sophomore, Holly Ceseña, said, “Everybody loved dance. The dance team did an amazing job. I think that’s what most people enjoyed.”

Junior and ASB member, Cristina Mariel Guillen, agreed, saying, “ASB did a great job with the performances. The games were fun, dance was a huge hit, and people love the cheerleaders and band.”

“Even though the music had problems, the dance girls knew what they were doing and they’re good at what they do,” Guillen commented. “If anything, what we have to work on is having more school spirit and getting more people to watch the assemblies and get excited about them.”

“Overall, ASB did a great job with the assembly and we had a good turnout,” Ceseña said as she smiled widely.


Battle of the Sexes: Water Polo Edition

Dory’s mantra “just keep swimming, just keep swimming,” from Disney’s Finding Nemo applies perfectly to the water polo game that happened on Wed. Nov. 19 at 5:30 P.M. at Helix Charter High’s pool, set up by Mignote (Mimi) Tadele, a senior, for her senior project.


Tadele’s senior project consists of two teams, the girls varsity water polo team and the boys JV and varsity wrestling team, resulting with the girls winning with 9 points against the boy’s 5 points. During the game free pizza and water was handed out to the audience, as well as t-shirts distributed to the participators.


Tadele states that she was very nervous about how the game would turn out due to the date of the game being changed at the very last minute.


“A lot of people came out and a lot of people supported me and everything turned out pretty well” said Tadele.


Gregory Michael, a senior and a participating member, said, “Everyone seemed happy that the girls won, especially because a bunch of little girls beat a bunch of big guys in a pool at a sport.”


“Honestly I was not prepared at all, I would go in for two minutes and a girl would kick me in the throat and drown me, I’d get tired and then have to sub out.” Michael said, rubbing his throat.


While the boys had many participants who continually had to be switched out with others, the girls team never had a sub out.


Michael said that participating in the game gave him a new respect for the girls water polo team, “props to them for being in that good of shape and being able to drown a bunch of big boys.”


Michael said that it would be interesting, if this project were repeated again, for a girls versus boys baseball game.


Gabriel Perroud, another senior participant said, “I was in for a minute, but then I got too tired, so I kinda just stopped playing.”


“We all thought it would be much easier, like we’d jump into the pool and just whoop them,” Perroud said laughing.


Perroud thinks that the girls would feel extremely out of their element if the sport had been switched to football.


Both competitors agree that despite the lack of practice, they enjoyed themselves.


Tadele said, “It was a lot of work, but taking the steps I did to get prepared really helped all of it come together.”


For anyone next year willing to participate in a game such as this, both Michael and Perroud agree, “you must wear a speedo!”


Science in the Sky

The typical person would agree that balloons are meant for parties, clowns, and entertaining children. However, freshman earth science teacher, Debra Byrd, does not limit a balloon’s use to simply just a party.

On Tues. Nov. 11, Byrd’s freshman class took a two-hour drive to Brawley to re-create a science project that didn’t go quite as planned the first time around.

Noah Richardson, a Helix graduate of the 2014 class, developed a senior project to create a device attached to a balloon and send it flying into the sky, and eventually, space. However, his project did not turn out with the results he expected when technical difficulties and pure bad luck that occurred caused his balloon to not complete its mission. Despite the failure of his project, due to the time and commitment spent preparing and organizing the entire design, Richardson was passed on his senior project and graduated with no further complications.

This year, Richardson returned to the Helix campus upon his senior project grader, Paula Ann Trevino’s, request. Trevino was extremely impressed with his project and wanted to see it successfully completed.

With her support and a one thousand dollar fund from Aspire, Richardson, along with Byrd and  24 Helix freshman and sophomores, set out to accomplish the project that was not fulfilled a year before.

Unfortunately, the process of science calls for more than one failure before success is fully achieved.

Out in the open Brawley fields, the balloon was successfully launched into the air with a tracker attached so that the team could follow its path into each atmosphere. However, a couple miscalculations and technical difficulties ensued and led to the balloon’s slow descent back to Earth.

“We’re still hoping to get it back,” Byrd said with a sigh. “It landed in the mountains to the east so we knew about where it was going to land because we had a computer program that you plug everything into and it could calculate it’s approximate landing location. It was about 55 miles away but they still couldn’t find it,” she said.

Although the project took an unexpected turn for the second time, Byrd was pleased with the experience.

“In the midst of that, it was a great learning opportunity. The kids had a great day and that’s just how science works. Sometimes it doesn’t always go the way you want it to and you just have to try again,” the teacher explained.

Freshman, D’Jatanya Powell, considered the trip a “really cool experience.”

“I got to do something different and see new things so I had a lot of fun,” she said.

Jessica Palmer, another freshman who attended the trip, was happy that she was able to meet and spend more time with the other students in her class throughout the day.

Ultimately, balloon in space or not, the trip was a positive experience for all of the students. They received a day of learning outside the classroom that correlated with their lesson and furthered their understanding of the atmosphere and how it works. And that is all a teacher could ask for in an educational field trip.

Byrd concluded the trip, “They came back with excitement, an understanding with the process of science and how failure is part of science, a connection with another as a group, and a better understanding of how the atmosphere works.”