Letters From the Editors

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Sarah Lloyd (left) and Alexis Cormier (right) with their beloved newspaper hats

Sarah Lloyd, Editor-in-Chief:

I will never forget the day that I made a decision that would completely change the course of my high school career. It was summer registration before sophomore year, and I was making my schedule for the upcoming school year with Mr. Theroux. I had selected my mandatory classes, and I had room for an elective. As he read off the lists of the classes I could choose from that would fit in my schedule, he mentioned that a teacher was going to bring back the school newspaper and I was intrigued by the idea of working on it, so I had him add it to my schedule.

I have no greater gratitude in my heart than I have for The Highland Fling, because becoming a staff writer, then Copy Editor and Social Media Director, and then finally Editor-in-Chief has really taught me so much about myself and it also has brought me out of my shell. I will never regret making that decision, and I’m so proud of my shy, anxious sophomore year self for doing so because it completely changed me for the better. Entering high school, I had a set idea in my mind that I would graduate and go into psychology, but that changed after joining journalism. Now, as a graduating senior, I plan to study mass media with a minor in communications at California State University San Marcos, where I also hope to work on their newspaper.

I’m excited for the future to come, but I am saddened to leave behind something that has changed me so much for the better. The Highland Fling has been my safe haven, my pride and joy, and it hurts to say goodbye but I know I’m leaving it in capable hands and am excited for its future. I hope for a larger readership, a larger staff, and for future Highlanders to fall in love with journalism as much as I did.

With this, I say goodbye to the newspaper that has been one of the most influential pieces of my life- so far.


Alexis Cormier, Editor-in-Chief:

Just a disclaimer: our staff and our publication was nothing like Gilmore Girls. Except the newspaper hats. Nonetheless, I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. These past three years on the Highland Fling staff has taught me more than a journalistic writing style and how to write a story in half an hour to make deadline (Sorry Mrs. Block!).

Starting out as a nervous sophomore perfectionist to a slightly less nervous but more confident senior perfectionist, The Highland Fling shaped my high school years for the better. I came to class actually excited to write and talk to people in order to learn their stories and in turn, write for others to learn about them too. It’s this class that showed me that journalism is in fact, not dying. If anything, it’s reviving and I am so stoked to be the generation that is leading it. Of course, without a few key people this wouldn’t be possible.

I would like to thank Mrs. Block for having the passion to start up this class and allow young people like myself to develop a love for journalism and write as a real, professional journalist. I will brag about you to my college professors. Second, I would like to thank my co-editor-in-chief and best journalism pal, Sarah. You were my first friend in this class and my last friend coming out of it. I appreciate that you never got annoyed by my late night texts complaining about deadlines and never hesitated to buy me a cup of coffee when it was most needed. For that, I am forever grateful. Next, to the teachers and students who allowed me to awkwardly interview you, thanks. You saved my grade. Lastly, I would like to thank everyone who has ever been on the Highland Fling staff and everyone will be on it in the future. We are the history of Helix and the future of it as well and I’ve never been more proud to leave behind something for my high school. I’m proud to have written Helix’s history.

Peace out, Highland Fling. It’s been real.


The Smarter Balance Test: Is it Smarter than the CST?

Since 2015, California has put in place a new standardized testing called “The Smarter Balance,” test replacing the old California Standardized Testing (CST) that most high school students have grown up with during their adolescent and pre-teen schooling.

This new test had to go through many states and lots of discussion about how the test was actually going to be given, as it had to match the Common Core standards in order to be functional.

Although Smarter Balance and the Common Core are very similar, there is a slight difference between the two: the Common Core refers to the standards that the grade levels have to present in order to be keeping up with their classmates and the information given, while the Smarter Balance test is the name of the actual test administered to the students.

Since 2010, California has worked with many other states nationwide to provide for a similar education for everyone, so that students are prepared and ready for the school year, even if they switch states, said the California Department of Education (CDE). This test, designed by teachers, parents, and education experts, is designed to prepare students for “success in college and the workplace.” The Common Core was approved by all 22 states involved in 2012.

The Smarter Balance assessments are a new “computer based tests that measure student knowledge,” said the CDE. It is given as a more rigorous academic question that involve critical thinking, analytical writing, and problem-solving skills. This assessment is designed to set a higher bar for California students to ensure success in the future.

But did they make it too rigorous? Several juniors who have just finished the math portion of the test from May 2-6 remarked on how hard and unfair the test was.

Ashley Allen said, “Those tests were hell. They had questions on there that were hard for students even if they’re in math. A lot of students aren’t taking a math class right now, so they were just confused.”

Another junior, Noah Garcia, mentioned how the only thing he liked about the test was the fact that he was able to get out of class for the two periods it took him.  “I wish I stalled longer, because some people didn’t even go to third, but I couldn’t handle the test anymore. I was too annoyed and frustrated by the end of it.”

However, California worked with 21 other states to develop the assessment with educators from K-12. This tests are expected to provide feedback for the teachers as well, to let them know what they need to focus and improve on in their teaching practices.

The tests used a range of questions and tests (bother computer based, and computer-adaptive) to give the students a more accurate identification of their individual knowledge and skills.

Announcements, Interrupted

Everyday early into third period, the announcements are broadcasted throughout the school and they hardly ever go uninterrupted.  More often than not, they will cut off halfway through the broadcast and be heard through the phones in many classrooms which deprives students of the important information and causes them to miss lunch meetings or special changes.

Coach Adam Krzywicki, “Coach K”, the Helix ASB advisor, believed the problem lies in the PA system and its programming. The problem has been tended to but “every time it is fixed the system will reset” he said.

“At first I thought it was only in the ASB room, because it is an old classroom, but my students informed me it happened in all of their classes” said coach K.

Mark Demers, Executive Assistant to the Executive Director, who is in charge of the announcements, said that the problem occurs because the speakers on the outside of the buildings are old.

“Because the announcements have gotten longer, the possibility of the speakers cutting out increases” said Demers.

Demers said, “If the announcements cut off, they won’t hear anything if there isn’t a phone in the classroom to barely hear from.

Aleen Jendian, an AP English and Helix first teacher, also struggled with the announcements cutting off.

She said, “The announcements cutting off, causes me to worry that my junior students won’t receive all the information they need.”

Jendian also suggested that teachers be texted the information in case it cuts out so students can receive the information they want or that the announcements be recorded and emailed so the staff can play it in class.

“The announcements are somehow always interrupted and they never seem to be completed,” said sophomore Andre Carrasco. “It makes it impossible for us to hear them. Even over a whisper.”

No Sadie Hawkins Dance Leaves Students Dissapointed

As spring come to an end, Helix students have questioned whether or not will we have our annual Sadie Hawkins dance this year. The answer is no.

ASB adviser,  Coach Krzywicki explained that there won’t be anymore dances this year other than prom. He said that the reason is because “there isn’t enough time”. Due to the AP and Common Core testing, ASB has run out of options for putting on another dance.

Some students weren’t all too concerned with if we had it or not.

Junior Adam Herrera stated, “I personally am not too concerned about whether or not there is a Sadie’s dance, as I am a male and am not likely going to get asked anyway.”

Some students agree with Herrera, because they feel that most girls wouldn’t ask them anyway. Another Junior, Isaiah Daniels, said his girlfriend goes to another school so it wouldn’t have made a difference.

Some girls even agreed with them

Senior Kayla Womack, stated, “I forgot all about Sadies, it doesn’t effect me if we have it or not”.

On the other hand, some Helix girl’s were looking forward to having a Sadie’s this year.

Junior Germain “GiGi” Cross stated  ”I feel a little disappointed that there is no Sadies dance this year because I wasn’t able to go last year and I was looking forward to going this year. So I’m very sad and disappointed about it”.

In all reality Helix students seem divided over the response.Regardless of their reactions,  there will be no Sadie Hawkins dance this year.

Grossmont/Cuyamaca Registration: Avoiding the Summer Melt

After being a Grade Level counselor for a while, Cathy Singer has taken a new position at Helix as the College Access counselor, her dream job. Stationed in the computer lab room, 180, Singer helps students reach the colleges they want. She does this by helping students understand the college applications, apply, fill out financial aid forms, approve the classes they request, and register and enroll.

As a College Access Counselor, one of Singer’s most important responsibilities is providing a solution to the “Summer Melt.”

The Summer Melt, according to Singer, refers to the high school graduates intending to go to a certain college, who fail to make it, and because these students applied for a specific college neglected the priority registration for their local community colleges, the graduates fail once more and thus express a mental meltdown.

Singer said, “The class of 2015 had over 90 percent of students planning to go to college, but the actual enrollment in the fall was 65 percent.”

In order to avoid situations like this, Singer has coordinated with Grossmont and Cuyamaca colleges and the Helix senior English, Political Science, and Economic teachers to complete a process which entails completing the application, presenting the orientation, and completing the Grossmont and Cuyamaca assessment test.

Samuel Tucker, a senior, said, “Even though I don’t plan on going to Grossmont, the teachers helped us understand the application and made the whole process easy.”

Senior Makaya Rose said, “ Because I want to go to Grossmont, I decided to meet with Mrs. Singer to get help while at school.”

Although meeting with Mrs. Singer is not required, she strongly suggests working with her to fill out an application to Cuyamaca or Grossmont Colleges.

Singer said,“If community college is their plan, then I can help them get there, here at school. If some plan to go to a UC, then we want to provide a safety net for those seniors.”

Helping seniors with backup plans will always be a priority at Helix.

For Juniors: How to Prepare for your Senior Year

So you’re 3/4 of the way done with high school and that means only one thing if you’re a junior: (cue the lightning and scary music) senior year is finally here. With one of the hardest years of high school over with, senior year presents a whole new challenge for students (college decisions being one of the largest obstacles).

However, at Helix, in order to graduate there are a few other boxes you have to check off before you walk out with a diploma in hand, such as the senior project, senior defense and senior boards. With all of this on your plate, senior year may seem nearly impossible. However, with proper preparation and prioritization, senior year can be a breeze.

1. Figure out what senior year means to you

Depending on your class load and your plans post-graduation, senior year can have many different outcomes. For many Helix students, it’s a continuation of their hard work ethic and their effort is mostly focused on academics and extracurriculars with not much time for anything else. For others, their approach could be a more relaxed academic life, but intend to get a job and take on responsibilities outside of campus halls. And of course, there are plenty of mediums in-between. Figure out a happy balance for yourself to minimize the stress of committing to things you can’t handle.

2. Do your senior project (or at least start it) over summer

Since we were freshmen, everyone at Helix has heard of the senior project. However as ninth graders, it seemed so far to even think about. Then once you started doing your proposal as a junior, it may have hit you that this project is something that you actually have to complete. Although not at the top of your summer to-do list, starting your senior project over summer is probably one the best things that a junior can do that will immensely ease the pressures of senior year. The school year gets so drowned in college apps, homework and extracurriculars that the project always get pushed to the side and next thing you know, it’s due and you’re panicking. Don’t be that person. Start early.

3. Take community college classes

If you’re the type of person who loves to get ahead, taking advantage of the community colleges located in San Diego would be a great start. Cuyamaca and Grossmont College are always open to high school students who are willing to gain credits for their high school requirements and even future college as well. Taking a community college class is not only cheaper than university prices, but will also give you the experience of a true college course so that you’re prepared later when you’re a college freshman. If you have any questions about taking community college courses, talk to your counselor for more information.

4. Let others know that you’ll be busy throughout the year

There will be times throughout your senior year where you will need to devote all of your time to your responsibilities and your studies. Your friends, significant other and family can all be immediate distractions during this time and it’s crucial to let them know that your academics always come first. If your friends are aware of your hectic schedule, they will probably be more sympathetic towards you when you turn down weekend plans every once in awhile.

5. Prepare to be stressed

It’s pretty much inevitable. If you haven’t felt the stress yet, senior year will not disappoint. Before the year begins, try to find some ways to mellow out and de-stress so that when you start feeling tense, you have techniques to remedy it quickly. Anything from creating a relaxing playlist to buying a journal for your thoughts can be the extra help you need when the responsibilities pile up a bit too high.

6. Be clear with your college plans

To lessen the stress of attempting to figure out your college plans right at the beginning of the school year, sort it out during summer. For those who went on the College For Me trip, visit the colleges that weren’t on the schedule and explore as many campuses that you’re interested in as you can. Research your potential majors and college choices and then narrow them down so that when application time comes around, you’re all ready with zero confusion or doubts. (Extra points if you save up money for your college apps!)

7. Write your personal statement

Your personal statement (or any college app essays) are probably going to be the toughest and most time-consuming step in the college application process. Not only is it required for majority of colleges, but it also holds a lot of weight to your application, so you want it nothing less than perfect. If you do finish it over summer, feel free to email admission counselors from the colleges you’re interested in and see if they’ll edit it for you. There’s also plenty of college essay workshops available over summer that you can just drop in and receive edits from teachers and college staff. That way, the hardest part of your application is edited, over with and ready for submission.

8. Apply for scholarships

Nothing is better than free money. With college in the near future and the potential of tons of debt a little further down the road, you need to take advantage of the thousands upon thousands of scholarships available to students. Websites such as Chegg, Niche and Cappex are all great resources to narrow down scholarships for all of your interests. Set a schedule to complete a certain number of scholarships per week so that you stay on track and are guaranteed at least some money so show for it by the end of the year.

9. Don’t be afraid to ask for help

Yes, you’re going to be a senior and yes, you’ll almost be an adult, but that doesn’t mean that you don’t need help every once-in-awhile. Senior year is tough and you don’t have to constant go through it alone. Whether it’s with your academics, extracurriculars, future plans or just need someone to talk to, remember that there is always someone on your side who is more than happy to lend you a hand when you need it. All you have to do is ask.

10. Savor high school

A fair warning: senior year is going to be over in a blink of an eye. Before you know it, you’re picking a college, going to prom, graduation is right around the corner and for many of you, life is going to majorly change. The same people and environment that have became such a reliable constant in your life won’t be that constant anymore. You’re on your way to becoming a real adult with real responsibilities and there won’t always be your parents or teachers to hold your hand. It’s time to admit it, senior year is your last year of high school and it’s huge. No matter how stressful and unmotivated you begin to feel in your senior year, just remember that this is your year. It’s your year to have fun, make memories, dream big and finish strong. Senior year is only as good as you make it.

Sophomore Interviews: Class of 2018 is Halfway There

On Monday, Apr. 25, all sophomores were required to complete an interview with a Helix Staff member, regarding their personal background and experiences at Helix.

According to Mrs. Crabtree, the main reason Helix requires sophomores do interviews is to simulate the preparation and feeling of a typical job interview because students generally start looking for work around this time in their high school years.

Sophomores prepared for their interviews by completing many assignment in advisory, which acted as a resume, over a 5 month period. The students were required to complete and submit a personal profile, work sample reflections, career cluster survey, statement of educational purpose, student service learning profile, student request profile, period attendance profile, Helix graduation status evaluation, an official transcript, and “yes test.” But some students did more to ensure a passing grade.

For example, Ethan Garcia, a sophomore, said, “I asked for tips on how to do a good interview and I practiced my responses to some of the more thought-provoking questions.”

Most students said that the interview was no challenge at all. The work done over the time period daunted some of the students, but they realized quickly that it wasn’t as difficult as it seemed.

Kevin Rodriguez, a sophomore, said, “Being interviewed was really easy. The teachers I had were very nice and we just talked comfortably. It wasn’t intimidating. They just asked questions about me, so how could that be hard?”

The passing rates seem to correlate with the feelings of easiness the sophomores expressed after the interview.

Mrs. Street, the 10th-grade counselor, said that 73 percent of the students passed without missing any assignments; however, including those who were missing a few assignments the passing rate is about 95 percent overall.

This means only about 20 sophomores need to re-interview because they either didn’t express themselves clearly, were missing important assignments, or didn’t attend the interview.

After reflecting upon the interview, some sophomores learned more than how to dress at an interview or how to articulate themselves.

Garcia said, “I learned that doing small assignments can add up over time and actually benefit you, and not only does this apply to your schoolwork, it applies to our daily life.”

Students vs. Staff Basketball Game

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Once you entered the gym you could feel the excitement and joy in the room, it felt very inviting. A  lot of students, teachers and family members came out to support.

When the game started the teachers were ready, in the first quarter the teacher were up,,,. As the teachers were holding their lead the crowd of students were up on their feet cheering on the other students.

Eventually the students and the teachers switched out their players because each teacher and student had an amount of time to play. Once they switched the students came out full force shooting threes and lay ups, but that did not stop the teachers. They came even harder making threes of their own.

During the game some teachers were having a lot of fun and were out there fouling and the students and teachers would laugh it off. Some students that were playing were way more serious than others.

During half time some students that were elected to play a game called the three point shootout. The game is where you go all around the three point line and try and make as many as you can and who ever had the most at the end won.

There were a lot of students and teachers wanted to participate but the event was on a tight schedule so some didn’t get to play. For the ones who did not get to play it was okay because they had a half court shot contest.

The line for the contest was from the middle to the court all the way to the other end of the court. Students and teachers participated in this game but no one could make it in, but some did come close.

When that was over they cleared the court and some of the teachers kids came out on the court with pompoms and did a little cheer.

When the game started up again the students seemed to have new kind of spirit to them, but that didn’t really effect the teachers. The students and teachers were going back and forth  not making shots for a while, then the teachers hit with a three.

At the end of the game the teachers were up it was 37 to 25, but then the students tried to come up, they were going back and forth score was 33 to 39 teachers winning.

Then the students fouled tone of the teachers giving the teachers a better lead it was 40 to 36. Then with final seconds on the clock senior Dezmond Shelby made an awesome shot, putting the game at a tie 40 to 40.

For some reason they left the game at a tie, most students were upset and others were happy to be there.

Junior Nykia Kelly explained that it shouldn’t have been left a a tie and that the students should have one.

She was not the only one to feel that way the senior Dezmond Shelby who made the final shot expressed that he felt that they should have went into overtime to win.

One of the teachers who played Mr. McKinney explained  “it was fun and very intense, the referees were bias the teachers should have won.”

2016 Spring Sports Assembly

On  Fri. Apr. 15 Helix ASB had the Spring Sports Assembly in the gym  during lunch to help kick off the new sports season. There were different seating sections for each grade level.

The gym walls had posters for each of the spring sports, Swim, Track and Field, Baseball, Boys Volleyball, Dive, Softball, Boys Golf, and Boys and Girls Lacrosse.

As soon as the bell rang for lunch to begin, students came rushing in ready to have some fun and to cheer on the athletes. When everyone was seated, ASB began with chanting “Who’s in the house” with the crowd to get everyone riled up.

After that, the gym floor was transformed into a maze with rows of chairs set up like a pacman game. Students from each grade level and two teachers were to chase each in the maze until the students caught the teachers.

Katrina Newman, a junior  said, “ASB did a nice job with organizing the games, but the last dance performance really pulled it together.”

After all that running, the students, and everyone in the gym, relaxed and watched a dance performance from Helix dance.

The dance was beautiful and the crowd enjoyed the girls dance.

ASB had really outdone themselves setting up twister mats  all around the gym with ASB captains and students from the crowd playing. What a laugh to see students twist and turn their bodies in uncomfortable and funny positions.

The winner from each group of twister, advanced to a pie eating contest. The students stood around the table , dunked their heads low to the pies, put their hands behind their backs, and got eating.

When the time was called, they raised their heads and every one of them had pie all over their faces. Everyone in the crowd laughed  hard at the scene.

Shortly after the comical pie eating contest, ASB had one more dance group to perform, had choreographed the dance and put the music playlist for by themselves. The crowd was very riled up by the amazing performance the dancers put on.

As lunch was coming to an end, the gym cheered for each of the spring sports and everyone left the gym talking about the performances and fun they had.

Ashley Hernandez, a junior said, “ the assembly was dull, like ASB was very hyped but the crowd seemed a little quiet.”

Nicole Jacobs, a junior also said “the assembly was almost boring, the dances were fun, but there wasn’t enough spirit.”

Overall, the assembly was fun for some but lacked a little spirit for others, but everyone can agree to root on the athletes

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Helix Students Host Psych Fair

Helix’s annual Psych Fair was held on Thurs Apr. 14. It highlighted key aspects of psychology for students in ExL classes during period two and three. The fair is consisted of approximately 20 tables of college prep psychology students presenting their area of the class to the freshmen.

“This fair is always super fun and tiring every year, “said Julie Damschen, the college prep and AP psychology teacher and coordinator of the event. “It’s good to give the freshmen an insight into what psychology is, and maybe it’ll get them interested in possibly taking it next year.”

Some of the booths consisted of Pavlov’s “classical conditioning,” memory tricks, what causes people to get hungry, why so many fast food places are red and yellow, and many other different aspects that psychology covers.

Most of the booths used candy or goldfish as part of their booth to help explain what they’re trying to portray without it “sounding like a lecture,” as senior Himston Florez stated.

Although it wasn’t as big as an event as it has been in previous years, Florez said how he was happy about it overall and wish he could do it again next year.

Damschen mentioned how every year she would talk to the staff involved in watching the events and ask about their thoughts and opinions. “I ask them about their favorite booths, and it’s all pretty diverse,” she said. “It’s good to hear that there’s not just one standout in the group, that all of my students are equally recognized.”

Lily Nelson, a sophomore who had a booth in the fair, mentioned how fun the experience was. “I was nervous,” she said. “Mainly because it’s always nerve-racking presenting in front of strangers, but I loved the experience.”

Junior Ashley Allen was there to watch and wished that she had the opportunity to put on the psych fair. “It looks so fun, but since I’m in AP Psychology, I didn’t have the opportunity. Mainly I just really liked the candy, though. They gave out a lot.”

At the end of the day, Damschen was proud of her students and the success of the Psych Fair this year. “I’m very proud of all of my students. They worked really hard on this project and it really showed when they were presenting.”