Day of Silence

April 24th, 2015, Helix Charter’s classrooms are more quiet than usual, students sporting the yellow flyer that says, “Day of Silence.”


People of the LGBT community have found a way to stand up to the bullying, harassment, and name-calling, that keeps them from revealing their true selves, or even sending them into emotional spirals, sometimes effectively silencing their voices when they commit suicide.


The Day of Silence or DoS is a day in which people can show their support for the different people, emphasizing in LGBT people who are silenced because they are different. People who participate stay quiet for the whole day, representing the people who have no voices, until a “breaking the silence ceremony” happens.


Everett Patterson, a sophomore who participated in the DoS, said, “These people feel like they have to keep quiet because they don’t feel safe saying anything, like there isn’t anyone they can talk to.”


Some rooms have signs up in the windows saying, “Safe Space” notifying the students that if they ever feel like they aren’t safe, are being harassed or bullied for being different, then they can go inside of that room and talk to the teacher or admin and trust them.


Patterson said that this DoS is important to him in order to show LGBT individuals, “hey, you don’t have to do this alone.”


Patterson didn’t do the DoS just to not talk for a whole school day, but rather he promotes the lesson behind the movement, “I know what it’s like to feel that you have to stay quiet to protect yourself.”


He wants any student that has been silenced for being themselves to know that, “I can promise that you won’t always have to be silent, and if you need someone to talk to, then talk to me.”


The voices that were not heard that day built awareness for the other students who noticed their friends staying quiet and not acting like their usual selves.


Mikayla Gomez, a senior who participated, said, “it made me realize how many people we overlook, thinking they are just shy and quiet, when in reality we don’t know their real story of why they are silent.


Gomez said that although she had trouble keeping quiet because her friends would talk to her and she’d immediately want to respond, “I kept reminding myself that I stayed quiet to support my friends and family.”


Rilyn Gardener, a sophomore, said that she has been bullied and “it leaves lasting scars,” so participating in this day was a way for her to stand up.


Gardener gives some advice for someone who faces their problems silently, “You are not alone! There are so many people to turn to, so never give up. Suicide is not the answer.”


Participants learned the value of speaking up by not speaking out.


ACLU “Mobile Justice” App Now Available in San Diego

A new app called Mobile Justice, released on Friday, May 1 by the American Civil Liberties Union, or ACLU, is an excellent tool for recording and instantly uploading videos to the ACLU’s server in case your smartphone is taken by police.

You can watch a video displaying the features of the app here.

The app was originally created for documenting unjust stop-and-frisk cases after the topic sparked controversy. The current version of the Mobile Justice app is intended for recording incidences of police brutality and uploading it.

Recording police officers on duty is legal in all 50 states by the First Amendment of the US Constitution.

One useful feature of the app is the “witness” button so the user can alert other app users nearby of an incident.

Although some law enforcement officers wear body cameras, most people argue this isn’t enough to prevent unfair police brutality.

According to Peter Bibring, senior staff attorney at ACLU of Southern California,”Some of the policies we’ve seen departments roll out with body cameras are very troubling and don’t necessarily serve the goals of transparency.”

Cases in which citizens document incidences with their phone cameras have been more effective in determining whether police are acting unfairly or not.

The recent cases of police brutality, specifically against black citizens, have caused protests across the country.

Freddie Gray, a Baltimore citizen, was injured and died in police custody on Apr. 19, 2015. His dead has been the reason for protests and riots across Baltimore.

Demonstrators gather in Baltimore. (Baltimore Sun.)

High-profile deaths of black men by police officers are just a part of the need for this app.

With the Mobile Justice App, a user can find a section with their rights as an American citizen, which can be beneficial in staying safe during an encounter with an officer.

The California app is available for download for iOS or Android devices.


PTSA Scholarships Available for Helix Students

As college applications and acceptance letters draw near for many Helix students, they’re always on the hunt for ways to receive scholarships and financial aid.

“Previous years we only had one or two students apply. Last year was the first year we had eight,” said PTSA Scholarship Chairperson, Lauren Gillihan.

There are five different scholarships one can apply for; The Golden Apple Excellence Award (for academic achievement, character, and Scottie Pride), The Helix PTSA Community Service Scholarship (for volunteer service), The Leadership Award (for students who have shown excellent leadership throughout high school), The Benton Hart Awards (for students who have been involved in school and community service), and the PTSA awards (to students who have actively participated in PTSA events).

The Golden Apple Award winner receives $500, the Helix PTSA Community Service Scholarship, Leadership Award, and Benton Hart Awards winners each receive $200, while PTSA Scholarships receive $100.

“I’m so thankful for them believing in me and my dream,” said Helix graduate, Jake De La Hoya, 2014 recipient of PTSA scholarships.

Last year, about eight Helix seniors applied for scholarships through the Helix PTSA.

“I didn’t even know they gave out scholarships,” said junior Jackie Elizarrarez. “I’m definitely going to apply for one!”

The application process if fairly simple; to apply, students must submit a 1-2 page typed essay specific to the scholarship they are applying for.

Applications are due in the PTSA mailbox in the front office by noon on May 15, 2015, ATTN: PTSA Scholarship Committee.

A.P. Test Preparation

May is coming soon, and with it comes Advanced Placement (A.P.) testing. Many students are unsure of the best preparation strategy for  the test so here are some helpful hints:

  1. Study:

Studying is the most obvious, but also the most crucial step in preparing for the test. There are many different ways to study efficiently. If you have trouble motivating yourself, try a study group. Having classmates quiz you and quizzing them in return is a great way to study because you are doing double the work while barely even noticing it!

If you are the opposite and you are unable to  focus when your friends are around, try studying by yourself. Use breaks in between studying in order to keep you from studying and stressing too hard.

Color code different sections or words so that your brain has an easier time remembering what you’re trying to jam in there. If you are preparing for a history, government, or science test, this will really help you differentiate different cycles and countries.

The most important part of studying, however, is to do it more than just once a week, or a cram session right before the test. Try structuring out five to six nights a week where you focus on a specific section so you can easily cover everything within a reasonable amount of time. Remember, cramming will only increase your stress levels and won’t actually help you on the day of your test so start studying now!

  1. Work on Vocabulary:

Although this may seem only helpful for the English tests, it is actually very helpful for every type of A.P. testing. Just like with the ACT, SAT, or any Common Core testing, there are always words that we just don’t understand. By increasing your your vocabulary, you have a better chance of understanding more of the questions and words being used. There are many word challenges online that can help you learn more words and reading is also a very useful tool to help increase your vocabulary.

For tests with vocabulary terms that are used and taught in class, there is also an excellent online source that is available for student use. The website Quizlet provides students with a free source that allows you to create your personal set of note-cards with which you can create flashcards, tests, matching games, and speed games that help to increase your memorization and understanding of the terms.

 And of course, there’s always the old-fashioned way of creating flashcards by hand using note-cards. Writing terms by hand help to increase memorization and the use of color is greatly recommended. Pretty soon, once the A.P. tests come around, if you work on your vocab enough, you’ll sound and be smart!

 3. Be Kind to Your Body and Mind:

Make sure that you are eating and sleeping properly in the weeks before the test. If you rest your mind and take care of your body, then you have a better chance of being alert and rested during the test. Resting your mind also allows what you have learned time to settle and stay so you’re not just studying away what you previously studied. If you rest and eat and sleep well, you also have a better chance of not getting sick before the test, which is everybody’s worst nightmare.

Most importantly, don’t stress more than necessary. The test may offer college credit, but don’t push yourself past your limits in order to pass. These tests are challenging and if you go into the test stressing and thinking that you’re going to fail, chances are you won’t be able to function at your best capacity and that will harm your chances of getting a good score. So just relax and go into the test with confidence!

Good luck to everybody taking the A.P. tests in May!

Sadie’s Proposals

What do girls do when it’s up to them to ask their date to the Sadie Hawkin’s dance? They get creative!


The Sadie Hawkins dance is named after the Li’l Abner comic strip character Sadie Hawkins, created by cartoonist Alfred Caplin. The unmarried women of Dogpatch got to chase the bachelors and “marry up” with the ones they caught.


In the modern version of Sadie Hawkins (Sadie’s), girls must ask the guys and pay for their ticket. They can choose if they want to take the guy to dinner or not.


In the weeks leading up to Helix’s Sadie’s on April 24, many girls busted out their “thinking hats” to create a unique way to get their guy’s to say yes.


Gillian Morgan, junior, pulled out all the stops by employing the use of her step-father, Damon Chase, the Athletics Director. A security guard brought Filemoni Filemoni, junior, up to the front office where Mr. Chase questioned him about cheating. Morgan came out with a sign that read, “You’re only in trouble if you say no. Sadie’s?”


Morgan laughs, “I thought it would be funny!” and it was, turns out that the guard actually gave Filemoni a detention because he was not wearing his ID on the way up to the office.


Karina Viveros, senior, made two posters and decorated her boyfriend’s, Hector Nunez, senior, room with a Disney theme. The first poster reads, “Mickey needs Minnie, and Tigger needs Pooh, and I need you.” The second poster said, “Sadie’s” in large Disney font.

 photo Sadies Hector.png_zpshvx7rbgz.jpeg

Viveros said that she thought of a few other ideas, such as using Cuties (the mandarin oranges), “I was going to say ‘knock knock!’ and he’d respond ‘who’s there?’ and I would say ‘Orange you glad this cutie is asking you to Sadie’s?”


She went with the Disney theme because, “I’m a big fan of Disney,” even though it ended up taking her five hours to get ready.


Benji Gonzalez, junior, was asked to Sadie’s by his girlfriend Alexia Mkay, junior, who used her Airband team’s performance theme (Theta) of video game zombies.


With six different bloodied posters, Mkay presented Gonzalez with flowers and asked him to Sadies. Gonzalez decided to say yes, “of course!”

 photo Sadies Benji.png_zpsjczoszql.jpeg

Stephanie Moreno, junior, asked D’rell Gist (Drizzle-D), junior, to Sadie’s in front of all his friends. She unrolled a poster that said, “Drizzle-D Sadie’s with me?” Then she rapped out her question, “Hey yo Drizzle, you’re hot you sizzle, when you pass the girls all the girls start to giggle, so Drizzle-D will you go to Sadie Hawkins with me?”

Moreno said, “I wanted to do something that was different, that people would remember.”


While some guys might just ask a girl simply over text to a dance, the girls set the standard of what they’re expecting from guy’s dance proposals.


Senior Defense

The three day period of April 15-17 marked a day of early release for freshmen, sophomores, and juniors, and a time of stress for seniors. This three day period, starting on Wednesday and ending on Friday, was Senior Defense for all the senior projects completed.

After completing their prospective senior projects and the time consuming portfolios, seniors were faced with the formal defense of their project.

The gym was filled with tables, each representing a certain section of the senior projects such as “Education,” “Construction,” and “Event-Planning.” These tables sat four to  five judges, each judge was either a teacher or employee at Helix or a community member who is familiar with the section they are representing.

The judges were given the portfolios ahead of time and were given time to browse them before meeting the student who completed the project. Once they were ready, one of the judges was sent out to call the student and bring them to the table.

Then, defense starts. Most seniors have mixed emotions about defense but the majority say that the stress beforehand is worse than the Defense itself.

The judges start by asking for an explanation of the project, then, depending on the panel, they ask questions about what was learned, certain techniques used, and the most rewarding and challenging parts of the project.

“This is a time for seniors to brag about what they’ve done and all the work they’ve completed,” said Rebecca Skullerud, teacher at Helix and judge for the Event-Planning section of defense.

Sabrina Diaz, senior, agreed and was excited at the prospect of her defense.

“I get to show and defend something that means a lot to me and that I put a lot of work into,” said Diaz.

Many others, however, were anxious and nervous before their defense. They were worried that all their work and effort wasn’t enough to impress the judges.

“What if they decide within minutes that my months of work wasn’t enough?” said Isai Luna, senior.  “I mean, I did my project, I know I did, but I’m still worried.”

However, as multiple teachers and advisors said in response, “As long as you did the project, you’re fine.”

Senior Defense ends with questions about the future and how the project is related to the senior and their life. Then the senior is led to the bleachers where they wait while the panel discusses their project and determines whether or not the student will pass.

Once the panel had decided, the student was called back and told their results and why they received their score. They then had to report their scores to Amanda Dolphin or Trina Meredith, coordinators of the Senior Project and Defense.

The students were told to keep their portfolios and the scoresheet given to them for use in their Senior Boards.

After about fifteen minutes to a half hour, the senior project for which students worked hard and long on, was completed.

Seniors Turn in their Project Portfolios: The Home Stretch of the Year

Helix seniors are now in the home stretch of their final year of High School, as they turned in their Senior Project Portfolios Wednesday morning, Apr. 8th in the junior building.

The Senior Project Portfolio is the written documentation that proves that Seniors completed their Senior Project. The senior Project is a graduation requirement where seniors can create or host an independent project.

Seniors have to then explain and document their project into a Portfolio to prove their assignment was completed. Forms consist of Table of Contents, Letter to the Judges, Senior Project Overview, Original Project Proposal, Consultant Evaluation, Client Evaluation, Self Evaluation, 3 Progress Reports, Photo Documentation, Additional Documentation, Audience Evaluations, Research Paper and the Resume.

Prior to the deadline of Senior Project Portfolios, all students were advised to attend a Workshop in which they could be informed on what to put in their Portfolio, learn what Senior Defense is like, and have their questions answered. Students also always have access to the Portfolio checklist on the Helix charter website:

All students turned in their completed Portfolio, by entering the back door of the junior building by 9:30 in the morning. Seniors told Helix staff their name as they turned in the binder and received a sticker on the cover, along with a Golden ticket that told them the date and time of their defense and what to wear and bring.

The process of completing the portfolio can be seen as being time consuming and maybe a little tedious, but not impossible to accomplish. Some seniors worked on their Portfolio for a month, while others finished in one week.

Cristian Calderon, senior, said that you really just need to have the right mindset in order to finish.

Now that Portfolios are turned in, seniors have to pass Senior Defense as a part of their graduation requirement. During Defense, 4-8 staff and community members look over the students’ portfolio to view what they have completed for their Senior Project. Then the senior will be called in for their appointment and asked questions pertaining to their Senior Project. All seniors were given a date on either, Wednesday, Apr. 15, Thursday, Apr. 16, or Friday Apr. 17, with the range of time between 12:00-3:00pm.

Mrs. Amanda Dolphin, Senior Project Coordinator and French language teacher, said that students should expect to come ready to go for Senior Defense because they will be asked questions about what they did for their Project, what they learned and the obstacles they have had. Dolphin added that more than anything Seniors need to be honest during their meeting, because it very hard to move forward if a student is untruthful while explaining their Senior Project Process.

Savannah Mondragon, senior shared her expectations for Defense and said “ I actually expect it to be less hype than what people say, it’s gonna be way easier and relaxed.”

Seniors must come to Defense at least 15 minutes earlier than their scheduled time, dressed in professional attire, and a final product of what they did for their project.

“[Seniors] should feel proud. Pride comes from doing work it doesn’t come from getting out of things or getting credit for something they didn’t do, so although this is challenging, this is what means to be a scottie, it means you do more, you work more, but ultimately you can take pride in the fact that you achieve more,” said Dolphin.

Finals Prep

As the clock ticks and the end of the semester approaches, students are struggling with ways to keep sane and help cope with the stress that finals bring them. If you are among those who are currently losing their sanity, here are a few tips to help you get through these next couple of days:

  1. Avoid persons/objects that will distract you

If you know there is a person or group of people in particular that can drive you crazy and distract you from doing what you are supposed to be doing, take a break. Also, if you know that while you are studying your phone will be calling your name and trying to get your attention, ask a guardian, sibling or friend to hold it for you until you show them that you’ve completed your assignments/studying.

      2. Take control of your environment

You are the only person who can control what is around you. Do not surround yourself with negative thoughts that will cause you to begin to pick at you and stress you out even more. If you know that being in your room alone with some relaxing music on helps you to focus on your studies, then do so. You should be comfortable with where you are while trying to prepare for the big tests!

        3. Set a schedule

If you are more of a visual person and struggle with being organized and time management, set a schedule that includes a breakdown for the studying and completion of homework that you know you need. Also, remember to schedule break times. Do not spend a full 5 hours of pure studying, make sure your brain and body get some break time. For example take your pet on a walk or do some meditation.

        4. Talk to your teachers

Although most high school students think that their teachers are out there to get them, they’re not! Teachers are the best people that students can go to for questions and advice. If you are struggling with a certain chapter in your math class, or having writer’s block on your English essay, talk to or email your teacher with questions and concerns. Take advantage of the support system that you have!

        5. SLEEP!!

We’ve heard it all throughout elementary school, middle school and it still applies for us high schoolers; GET SOME SLEEP! Every night each student should be getting 8-10 hours of sleep. Following an amazing night of rest, eating a healthy breakfast also contributes to the well being of a student throughout the day. And no, a healthy breakfast is not some potato chips and a gatorade, try eating a nice combination of fruits and maybe some yogurt.

Now that you have some tips that will hopefully stick with you for this next week, good luck Scotties!

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.”