Helix First SDSU/UCSD Field Trip

On Thursday Apr. 24th, the Helix back parking lot was filled with over 200 excited freshman waiting to visit campuses they may be attending in their future.

The Helix First field trip is held each year for freshmen who are enrolled in the course. In this trip students visit two local campuses, San Diego State University and University of California, San Diego. As Mr. Ried put it, “the trip is pretty much a C4ME [college for me] trip, condensed into one day and two schools”.

Most of the freshmen who attend Helix have never been on a college campus before. Carlos Garcia, a freshman, has only been on the SDSU campus for a birthday party prior to this visitation. But Garcia has other colleges in mind like UCLA.

As the students step on the SDSU campus they are in awe of all the buildings. A Helix alumni and current SDSU student, Sarah, is one of the tour guides and quickly tells students what each building is. Helix freshman, Telemar Marlatt, explained the campus as “really pretty, with great scenery and weather”. One aspect of SDSU that struck Marlatt a lot was the “building structures and welcoming environment”.

When the tour guide, Sarah, would ask the students what they wanted to see the most, the freshmen would jokingly respond with “the food court”.

At the end of the tour the freshmen were very inspired by the SDSU campus, students like Charlemagne Nocete and Dejahs Hutsona, could see themselves attending this college after high school.

As the tours ended at SDSU, the freshmen were off to see UCSD.

The tour guides at UCSD took their groups through different parts of the campus, showing off the scenery of UCSD.

Walking through the campus, the freshmen were able to see a view of the ocean which was one of freshman, Sarai Garcia’s favorite parts.

As the students travelled further into the UCSD campus, the one guide Pria, gave all the freshmen a chance to walk under the Sun God structure. The Sun God was made by artist, Niki de Saint Phalle, and is said to give straight A’s to all those who walk backwards underneath. Every student did it on the trip in hopes of earning straight A’s.

Marisa Ortiz, a freshman, really loved the library and “singing tree” because it played great songs. “The structure of the library really caught my eyes” she said.

The UCSD tour came to an end and a Helix Alumni, Sabrina Evans greeted the freshmen. She told many of them that she loves UCSD and is very glad that she attends this school. She also gave some tips: “work hard in classes now and get involved with sports, clubs, and ASB to build up your college applications. And most of all enjoy your time in high school”.

The Helix First Field Trip is a great experience for freshmen that excites them for what is in store for them after high school, and encourages the to attend college, and do well at Helix now.


2014 Prom Court

It is that time of the year again for Seniors… Prom! Prom this year is going to be held on Sat May 17 at the U.S. Grant located in Downtown San Diego.

Prom is known to be the biggest dance of a student’s high school experience. Prom is usually the dance that seniors have been fantasizing about since their freshman year.

While Homecoming is run by ASB, Prom is run by their class officers (this year is the Class of 2014) just like Winter Formal is run by the Junior class.

Nominations for prom are similar to the way someone would get nominated to be on homecoming court. The only difference is that only seniors can nominate other seniors to be a part of the prom court, while for homecoming anyone can nominate anyone from any class.

Prom nominations were held during advisories and students were given a piece of paper to write down 5 names for who they would want to be nominated as prom king and queen.

To narrow down who would be on court, the Class of 2014 gives those with the most votes a nomination packet. In the packet the nominees need to fill out what honors or AP classes they have taken, if they have been a part of a sport or club, if they have participated in an extra-curriculars like Yearbook or ASB, and lastly they need to provide what their GPA.

The boys nominated for Prom King are Gunnar Dahlstrom, Sean White, Christian Bell, Alexander Parks, and Jacob Garden.

One of the nominees on prom court, Alexander Parks or “AJ”, said “I am living the Teenage Dream by Katy Perry” after finding out he had been nominated for Prom King.

The girls nominated for Prom Queen are Santina Asimos, Cassandra Lenart, Alexa Pizza, Marisa Ung, and Gunnar Dahlstrom

One of the nominees for prom queen, Cassandra Lenart, was ecstatic to find out she had been nominated since her sister Jasmine Lenart, Helix alumni, had been on her prom court in 2012.

Although Lenart was excited about being on prom court, she thought it was “totally unexpected” and she was flattered since she felt that “it shows that people know who I am.”

When asked who she would want as prom king, she of course would want her boyfriend to win. But since he is not nominated Lenart said “I think either Gunnar and Justine or Christian and Alexa should win.” She added that she wanted them to win since they both have been a couple for a while.

The results for prom king and queen won’t be revealed until the day of prom which is Sat May 17.

Until then congratulations and good luck to those on prom court!

Scottie Tots

It’s a bit odd to be seeing toddlers walking around on a high school campus in the middle of the school day. However it’s not so strange at Helix thanks to our child development class.

Every year, during the last half of the semester, the child development class runs a child daycare, known as Scottie Tots, on our school campus.

In the child development class, students learn the basics of children and how they develop both physically as well as emotionally. The students then take the information they learned and put their skills to the test by handling 20+ children everyday for three weeks during the second half of the semester. Mrs. Leighton, the teacher in charge of Scottie Tots, thinks the daycare project is a great experience for both her students and the toddlers.

“We’ve been doing Scottie Tots since the sixties, but I’ve been doing it since 1989. It’s just a great way for our Helix students to get hands on experience and for the little ones to learn to socialize since usually they spend their time at home and with other children,” said Leighton.

The process begins by first transforming the classroom into a kid-friendly environment. The students move tables around and create designated areas for the children, such as the blocks area, reading area, and diaper changing area. Students also pick a theme for their daycare and create colorful posters and decorations in accordance to their theme, which this year includes outer space, the jungle, and under the sea.

Fabian Zarco, a senior taking the class, recalled the work they did to prepare and reflected on how everything turned out.

“We did a lot of arts and crafts to prepare for the kids and I think that it all turned out great and the kids are really enjoying themselves and I am too,” said Zarco.

The class is then divided into groups. Each group is responsible for creating 25 lesson plans for the children to participate in. The groups are then assigned a different duty each day. Some are given the task of doing activities with the children, others are in charge of giving out snacks, and other groups are responsible for supervising the patio and doors of the classroom.

This year the daycare handled over 20 children a day ranging from 1-4 years of age. Several of the toddlers are children of teachers on campus as well as relatives of the students taking the class.

Kathy Mejia, a Junior, described her typical day at Scottie Tots and keep that the days for students participating in the daycare mostly consist of “playing with the children and keeping them entertained.”

Even though some of the children do suffer from separation anxiety at first, the toddlers seem to really enjoy themselves at the daycare and have fun interacting with the high school students.

When  asking 3-year-old Jude Sabin, Mr. Sabin’s son, if he enjoyed Scottie Tots he turned and with a big smile said, “Yes!”

Although the experience is fun, it does impose a challenge for the students.

Alie’s Dumas a senior in the child development class explained one of the many difficult scenarios that arise in the class.

“When there’s a lot of kids and you’re the only one there and they start getting into fights. Sometimes it’s too much,” she said.

However she assured that it’s all worth it.

“Getting to play with the kids is the best part of my day. It’s honestly the only thing I look forward to when coming to school,” said Dumas.

3D Printing Hits Helix

Several months ago, the teachers and students at Helix Charter High School were given a unique learning opportunity: the chance to experiment with the device known as the 3D printer.

Thanks to the efforts of Helix’s teachers and the website known as DonorsChoose, there are now three 3D printers on the Helix campus: one in Room 210, one in Room 1880, and one in the library.

The DonorsChoose website allows people to directly donate to schools and classroom projects. It was here that Helix got its printers, as GIS and AutoCAD Computer teacher Jennifer Bullock, better known as Mrs. J, said.

“I was informed by Ms. S that DonorsChoose was giving them away. And I thought, why not, it would be cool to let the students see new technology,” Bullock said.

This particular kind of technology definitely isn’t the kind one generally sees on the average high school campus.

“I think a couple high schools have them around the county, but mostly college level institutions have them.  I think we are probably one of the only campuses that have three on campus,” Bullock claims.

But where one printer would have been a great enough gift for Helix, three is real special treat.

“I took all of fifteen minutes to write up a lesson plan on DonorsChoose, and then I got it. I sent out an All Staff email and told other teachers to do the same,” Bullock said.

The 3D printers were quite a bargain at the price of free. Although 3D printers have become more mainstream in the past few years, they’re not exactly cheap.

“3D printers are pretty expensive right now. Mine is pretty basic and would have cost us $2700 if I didn’t win it, so the price point is still pretty high,” Bullock explained.

And that’s how Helix came to possess three of these marvels of machining. And the best part is that, as librarian Christina Potter explained, pretty much anyone can use them.

“Students who are passing all their classes may print an object on the library’s 3D printer. About forty students so far have used our printer, and we have a long waiting list!”

As Bullock says, being able to use these 3D printers is definitely a privilege and an interesting kind of reward.

“Right now I use it as an incentive to get work done quickly. I am letting students who do excellent work print. I think it’s better than bribery with candy,” Bullock said.

So what exactly can a 3D printer do? As Potter and Bullock explain it, the possibilities appear to only be limited by one’s imagination.

“I just had a student design and print an adaptation to the shifter in his car. Other items that have been printed out in the real world are musical instruments, cameras, childrens’ toys, phone cases, lights clocks…really the utilization is endless,” Bullock said.

“Students have printed out everything from jewelry to models of their favorite characters…but the most popular items have been customized phone cases,” Potter added.

“Students can either design their objects using third party 3D design programs like TinkerCAD or they can browse the online social community of Thingverse and find some pre-made items to print,” Bullock explains.

Another product of the 3D printers’ manufacturer, MakerBot, even allows people to 3D print any object they can find with a scanning device called a Digitizer.

Although it may sound relatively complex to physically print an object, the process is quite a bit different than printing paper.

“Instead of ink, the printer uses a filament which is a type of plastic. It heats it up and the plastic comes out of a nozzle and builds the objects in layers,” Bullock explains.

“This is called additive manufacturing, and means that one can create an object layer by layer. This is also known as stereolithography, 3D-layering or, obviously, 3D printing.”

Since their introduction to Helix, the printers have been hard at work printing out various things for students free of charge, but this won’t always be the case.

“Our library printer has been in use almost every day since we’ve gotten it,” Potter said.

“Right now, because the printer and filament were donated and didn’t cost us anything, we’re offering the prints for free. Eventually, to cover the cost of more filament, we’ll have to start charging a small fee. But I also hope to do some workshops and offer 3D printing as an incentive for students next year,” Potter said.

Regardless, the role these 3D printers will play at Helix has only just begun. With such unique devices, the possibilities of school utilization are almost endless.

“I plan on integrating it more in to my CAD (computer-aided design) class, and maybe next year for ACE (architectural construction and engineering) we can print a 3D model of our building design,” Bullock speculated.

“We haven’t collaborated as teachers yet to decide on a big project together.  However, I hope to help math build any extras they need,” said Bullock.

“My main goal right now is to figure out how we can get students in the library to start making their own designs to print. I’d really like to offer some workshops next year that give students the chance to create their own projects and print them out,” Potter said.

As Potter said, “students are really excited about this technology. There are always crowds around the printer when it’s in the middle of making something–I’m glad they’re getting an opportunity to see how it works!”

This awesome opportunity is exclusive to Helix; it’s time to make the most of it, and get printing!

Teacher Appreciation Day

May 7, 2014, Helix students arrived to school, sporting the familiar apparel of Helix Members. This spirit day, in celebration of Teacher Appreciation day (the official national date is May 6) involved students dressing up as their favorite Helix staff. This is only a small example of a teacher’s impact on student’s lives.

Peggy Crabtree, Helix’s Library Computer Lab Facilitator, has been given letters, gifts of origami, pictures, mugs, candy, and flowers as signs of appreciation.

When asked what Teacher Appreciation Day means to her, she responded with a quote she found on Google, smiling fondly, “teachers all over the world are appreciated.”

She says, “I think every single one of us are teachers in some fashion, to someone, and that’s kind of a gift, it’s our gift to each other as humans,” she said with a smile that makes it seem as if all the challenges teachers have to endure are worth it.

While Michael Ried, an English teacher, reflects on the way that students will send him letters or emails “thanking you for something that is so small, that even you don’t remember it.” This sign of appreciation, showing up two or three years later after high school, shows, to Ried, how much impact the teacher had on them in some way.

Commenting on Helix’s Spirit day, Ried feels, “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” He joked about how if someone is willing to dress like him, “I shouldn’t be offended by that, I should be flattered by it.”

Teacher Appreciation day is a time to reflect on what sort of impact teachers hold on student’s lives. Ried said, “it’s nice to be recognized, but I feel that just the day to day appreciation and relationship with the student is more valuable.”

Todd Weber, a social science teacher, said, “I wouldn’t mind if somebody dressed up like me. Yeah, it’d be awesome. Everybody would look good.”

He comments that he can’t really put a meaning to Teacher Appreciation day, but he knows that it’s nice to be appreciated for the work attributed to this job.

Theresa Toilolo, who works in the attendance office, has received letters, flowers, posters, emails, and Starbucks.

She indicates that she would like to see the spirit day advertised a bit more, so that more students can get involved, “but the outfits I did see were very cute.”

“Staff appreciation day means a day where the students show thanks for what teachers and staff provide for them,” said Toilolo, “But I don’t think it should just be focused on that one day, but I think the students here do a great job of doing that all year-round.”

Taking it from her point of view, as part of the staff, she says, “it’s a day when they can take a step back and realize how appreciated they really are.”

When asked what sort of experiences make him appreciate being a teacher, Weber said, “When they do their work, they read everything, and do well on the test. And they become history majors, of course.”

Ried shares that recently a college student sent an essay to him, detailing the influence he had on her life, causing her to pursue a career in teaching.

While Crabtree laughs about how one of her kindergarten students, innocently mixed up the letter’s “P” and “B”, writing on a Valentines Day Card envelope, “To Mrs. Craptree.” Even to this day she has that letter.

Toilolo says, “I feel blessed to be here everyday.” Out of all the experiences, “The ones that don’t realize that you do the things you do, because you care about them, and then they come back and show their appreciation.”

These teachers, all at different points in their lives and careers, still share that one common thing that brings most people together. They have been taught by outstanding teachers themselves, and they all agree that if they could talk to their high school teachers today, they would thank them for all they did. And in the end, they came back to school, where it all started, with a teacher.

AP Season

Over the course of last two weeks, many students at Helix have suffered through the pressure, tedium, and bureaucracy of Advanced Placement (AP) tests, demonstrating their mastery of subjects ranging from Computer Science to Music Theory in four-hour long segments.

“AP Season,” as it has been satirically dubbed by many Advanced Placement regulars, began on Monday May 5, with the Environmental Science and Psychology Tests.

“I thought it [the Psychology test] was bearable,” Rachel Orey, sophomore, shrugged. “I mean it was representative of what you study and your work effort.”

The next several exams appealed mostly to the mathematically and logically inclined.

Matt Guarnotta’s Computer Science class, in it’s Helix infancy, was quite literally put to the test on Tuesday. For a course that has only existed for a year on this campus, both continued student interest and AP results may be crucially important.

Andrew Johnson, senior, applauded Guarnotta’s efforts: “It was his first AP class so I have to give him some credit.”

In regards to the next day’s Calculus exam, Junior Jennifer Sung recounted, “The multiple choice [section] was similar to the practice mc we’ve been doing in class,” she sighed, “There were some tricky problems on the FRQs [Free Response Questions] though.”

Conversely, May 8 and 9 were predominantly characterized with frantic essay writing and fervent style analysis.

Thursday played host to the English Literature exam. The English Literature course and test were characterized as “far too much work,” by a myriad of senior who had opted for other alternatives.

Senior Noah Potts explains: “at UCSD if you take both AP tests and pass both [Literature and Language], only one counts toward credits, and its like that most everywhere.”

On Friday, because of the popularity of the English Language test, juniors were relegated to the gymnasium, seated at folding tables on stackable chairs.

The standard phone-in-envelope procedure–where, as per its name, students leave their phones in manilla envelopes at the front and back of the room–was expedited to accommodate the hundred-plus students, and the proctor used a microphone to be clearly understood over the nearby construction.

Even so, the test, starting at 7:30, did not end until well after noon.

Because of this, some had the misfortune of rushing to their Statistics test, which was scheduled to start at 11:30, immediately after. Junior Mikayla Gomez, when asked about having the two tests conflict, responded curtly, saying that it was “gross.”

That weekend, Thomas Meyer, sophomore, voiced his concern for the upcoming Music Theory test: “The test is extremely hard, considering how we didn’t go over half of the stuff until the week before the test.”

On Wednesday, a mass of huddled juniors congregated for the United States history test. To which, junior Reem Sheikh noted, “If you vaguely remember something, it feels like you just climbed the worlds highest mountain. Let that carry you on throughout the test, because you will need for the FRQs.”

Entering as they exited was the European History crowd, sharing similar sentiments.

Unfortunately for seniors, both Economics exams were cancelled (to be administered on May 21, confirmed AP Coordinator Richard Sutton) due to the raging brush fire plaguing the San Marco/Carlsbad area.

All of this said, all of the success and struggle and stress, there are many who question the validity and meaningfulness of such exams.

“In all honesty,” Orey reflected, “AP testing is simply another thing added on to the plethora of things we need to do to look good on college apps, which is basically all that most of our lives have been working towards thus far.”

2014 Yearbook

As the school year once again comes to an end, students everywhere are rejoicing as they look forward to upcoming summer plans. Students can reflect back on the past school year by ordering a yearbook which contains the whole year in a review.

Editor In Chief, Leah Murphy, could not give too much detail away over the 2013-2014 yearbook, but promises, “it will be really cool. It’s a yearbook.”

The 2013-2014 yearbook staff, which includes over 30 students, worked hard on the book from August 2013 until roughly April 2014.

This year’s book will contain all fall/winter/spring sports, senior standouts, fashion, siblings, weekends, cars, and all of the numerous exciting events that occur at Helix daily.

12th grader, Roan Bontempo, member of the staff, gave her own personal thoughts on the book and how she thinks the student body will perceive it, “People will dislike it of course and be picky as per usual, but the layout is great and the color scheme is something new and very modern.”

Senior, Mason Ledgering, another staff member, agreed with Bontempo stating that, “the staff worked really hard and they realized that every little thing does matter.”

Students at Helix are eager to see how the book will turn out this year and even gave some of their own predictions and hopes.

Sam Newman, a senior at Helix, stated that she is anxious to see the theme “is the theme memes? I heard a rumor that Leah chose that for the theme, I’m excited.”

Jade Flores, sophomore, “hope it’s the best one yet!”

Last year the yearbook was received well by the public and gained positive feedback. The yearbook staff hopes and prays that they can match up to the highly earned success as last year’s book.

The 2013-2014 yearbook has a tentative release date on Tuesday 20th and students should contact jcook@helixcharter.net with any further questions regarding ordering, pricing, etc.

In Memoriam of Brian Camacho

Helix High School suffered a great loss. On Apr. 5 of this year, Helix senior Bryan Camacho died of what his family believes to have been a heart complication that occurred while he was playing soccer.

According to Camacho’s brother, Irvin, a sophomore at Helix, on Apr. 5 Camacho was playing soccer along with his family and friends at a local park. Camacho then began to feel very tired and went to lie down on the sideline. After laying there for a while, Camacho’s brother kicked a ball to him. Camacho didn’t react and that’s when Camacho’s brother went over to check on him.

“ I just saw that his eyes were white and he was breathing really fast and then I called my mom over and as my mom was running over to where we were, I heard him take his last breath,” said Irvin Camacho.

Irvin remembers that sad day, but also remembers all the great things about his brother.
“he was outgoing and he was himself, he never let others bring him down. He was a great brother and was always there for me and had my back no matter what,” he said.

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Apart from his brother, many others who knew Camacho were greatly affected by this tragedy. Among these people is Helix senior Jimmy Zarate.

“I felt denial and just heartbroken. I would tell him everything and he would tell me everything. We were just really close friends,” said Zarate.

“Bryan was a great person. He did a lot of stuff for other people and didn’t really think much about himself. He wanted to serve his country. He was going to go to the military infantry right after high school and he was going to do a lot of stuff with his life,” he added.

This was one of Camacho’s greatest aspirations: to serve his country as a marine.

Camacho was very involved with Helix’s Military Basics program. He was very close to members of the group, who were greatly affected by the loss.

Helix MIlitary Basics supervisor Marissa Haskins knew Camacho well due to his involvement in the group and recalled the type of person Camacho was.

“Bryan was a really outgoing person. He always made people laugh and smile. He was the type of kid that if you were having a bad day he would always cheer you up and try to make you laugh. He was hard working and always there for his friends, “ said Haskins.

Haskins explained that Camacho was going to return to Helix as a fifth year student for the first quarter and then go on to join the military. He was already enlisting in the Marine Corp and he had his paperwork submitted and his goal was to enlist and hopefully go to boot camp by the end of this summer and be infantry.

“He was a great kid and he had a lot going for him. He had a lot to give to the world and he was going to be a great future marine,”said Haskins.

The issue of death is always something that is difficult. As Ms. Ann Paula Trevino said, “there’s no easy way to deal with loss. Some of us deal with things right now, some of us it might not hit us till a month or 2 later. You just never know when that loss is going to hit you. Although it is a part of life, it just never gets easier.”

However, for any students who are having difficulty coping with this unfortunate loss, Helix has various resources and people they can talk to.

“Our 12th grade guidance staff; Mrs. Street, Mrs. Singer, as well as Mrs. Yee, our social worker in room 1390, have been doing a great job. They’ve been going around to students in classes who may have been affected by his death,” said Trevino.

Camacho was known around campus by his friendly outgoing personality. He was a fun loving person and enjoyed making people laugh. He will be greatly missed by his peers and as his good friend Zarate states, “although he is gone his memory will live on forever.”

Senior Defense Reflections

The past couple of weeks have been filled with chaos from senior projects to senior defenses. The most stressful month for Helix seniors is finally over but have left a toll on each senior in a different way.

Senior, Virginia Michel, was very worried. Seniors were required to be at the gym fifteen minutes before their scheduled time and Michel had a little trouble with that. Michel said “I literally drove to Helix in four minutes when it usually takes me twenty minutes, I have no idea how I did it”. Michel earned all exceptionals on her defense.

Although Michel waited until the last minute for her defense interview, another senior Sariah Emmanuel, did not.

“I made sure to leave my house thirty minutes before my defense”. Emmanuel stated that she got all exceptionals on her defense.

Being early to your scheduled defense is always good idea since most seniors were called in right as they got there.

As senior were being called into their meetings, anticipation was growing for the others waiting. Senior, Jacob Garden was “really nervous due to the fact that I had no idea what they were going to ask me”. After his defense Garden believed that it was “really cool and modern”. Garden earned a satisfactory plus on his defense.

Questions asked in the interviews differed with each student and table.

A senior, Natalia Xibile was seated at 33 in the sports category. Her judges included Coach Holland, Coach Silva, Ms. Gunion , and two other community members. Some questions asked were: “How did you feel about the end product of your project?” and “What were some difficulties with your project?”. Her answers were concise and to the point in her interview. Xibile earned a satisfactory on her defense.

Senior, Jasmine Garcia, said that her defense went very well. When asked how she felt after her defense Garcia said “I was very complete and relieved, with one step closer to graduation”. Garcia earned exceptionals “all the way through”.

With senior defense finally ending, seniors can have a sigh of relief. Now everyone can enjoy their last few months in high school, prom and graduation.