Archive | November, 2010

Achoo! … Flu season is here

By Kelly Rubalcaba/J-Line Writer ~

This is the season for the outbreak of swine flu.

Health officials state that approximately two billion could get the swine flu from 2009 to 2010. The swine flu is a disease caused by Type A influenza viruses.

The swine flu has been widespread in the United States since since 2009 and is expected to continue.  In August 2009, according to the Center Disease Control, more than two million people had contracted the swine flu.

But the swine flu has not been much of a problem at Atascocita High School. At least, not so far.

“Last year, we were seeing signs of flu in early September,” Denise Cleary said. “Most cases of the flu were not confirmed as swine flu.”

 Swine flu is spread by coughing or sneezing of people who are sick with the virus. It is also spread by touching infected things and putting your hands near your mouth.

“I do not know if they would close school for the flu since there are many variables,” said Cleary.

The H1N1 virus is known for its name because of its similarities to viruses in North American pigs. Children, the elderly, and pregnant woman are more likely to get the seasonal flu. Between 250,000 and 500,000 people, die each year from it. So, health officials warn parents, teachers, and students to stay alert for warning signs.

“It is not too early to see signs of the flu,” said Cleary.

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Studying the scene of the crime

By Edgar Galvan/J-Line Writer ~

Walk up the stairs into White House, past red painted walls, and to room 2317. There, the door reads “MRS. WELCH FORENSIC SCIENCE.” Inside the room, tables are lined up behind each other and the scene resembles a science lab.

This is where Cindy Welch teaches forensic science at Atascocita High School. The unique class introduces students to the techniques and science behind crime scene investigation.

So far this year, the class has welcomed three guest speakers: a sketch artist, a Houston Police Department crime scene officer, and a photographer. They have also done some minor projects, including looking at maggots and taking fingerprints from the teachers.

Welch, who is from Ohio, worked as a Houston police officer after moving to Texas. After the birth of her first son, she went back to work, but her schedule started to get out of control so she decided to become a teacher.

To Welch, class shouldn’t be a breeze for the students.

“I like to put a challenge on the kids I teach,” said Welch, “so if I had to teach something other than forensic science, I would teach chemistry.”

She has taught chemistry in the past for two years.

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The wheels on the bus don’t go round

By Lexie Cooper/J-Line Writer ~

Dozens of students sit yelling, talking, texting, singing, sleeping. At each jerking halt, a group of bodies clambers out the narrow doorway. To many high school students, this is a very familiar scenario. It is the every day routine of taking the bus to or from school.

However, due to budget cuts, Atascocita High School only offers busses to students who live outside a two-mile radius of the school.

“I think two miles is reasonable,” said AHS Vice Principal Ted Landry.

Humble Independent School District, not the individual school, sets the bus routes. Landry supported the decision, saying “83 to 88 percent” of a school’s budget is staffing.

Although the vice principal seems to agree with the two-mile radius policy, not everyone is happy about it.

“I don’t like the school for doing this,” said junior Joe Rees.

The National Academies of Science produced a study last year that said about 800 students die each year going to and from school. Only 20 of these deaths are bus-related.

Jerrisue Peters, a mother of AHS students, expressed concerns about her daughter’s safety when walking.

“I don’t know the reasons,” she said. “But they had better be pretty darn good for them to put the safety of students at risk.”

Landry, however, mentioned the Mark Twain quote, “There are lies, damned lies, and statistics,” in response to the National Academies of Science study.

“You can manipulate numbers,” he said.

Landry explained that he feels it is easy to make statistics say exactly what someone wants them to. Regardless of the statistic, parents’ views of the school are influenced when their child doesn’t have a bus available to them.

Many parents, such as Peters and Rob Brady, feel that two miles is too far to ask a student to walk.

“It’s wrong to have a child walk almost two miles to and from school because their house is just under two miles from the school,” said Brady. “In fact one mile is too far for a child to walk, especially considering how early school starts a child would have to leave by 6 or 5:45 depending on how far they are and they most likely would be late.”

The cutback has had an impact on some of the students’ and parents’ opinions of the school, even if the faculty agrees with the reasoning behind it. Some guardians feel there are other places, like clubs and sports teams, the school should try to save money before deciding to expose students to the dangers of walking in the street.

“I pay tax dollars to the school,” Peters said. “And I should be assured of her safety instead of having to worry about whether some driver is going to be careless or some other problem arise.”

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Hip-hop hooray


Meriah Christine performs at the AHS Hip-Hop talent show.

 By Bri’Anna Dilbeck/J-Line Writer ~

The sound of squeaking sneakers resounded throughout the PAC as different hip-hop dancers stomped and slid their way across the stage. The bass pounded through the floor. And the performers belted out routines with energy and enthusiasm.

Welcome to the Atascocita High School Hip-Hop Talent Show, 2010-style.

The November 19 show, which had numerous acts, suffered some wrinkles due to a number of last-minute cancellations by performers.  But, as the old show business saying goes, the show went on — even with the new and unexpected performers.

“The Hip-Hop Talent Show was started in 2006 by Sigma Beta and it was a way to get kids out to portray their rap skills,” said Laquietta Harden.

Many students have previously attended the show and supported it, according to Harden. They enjoyed watching their friends unveil their hidden talents.

 Hostesses kept the audience entertained between performances with jokes, music, and by playing music and allowing audience members to dance.

“I enjoyed the show very much,” said performer Jamal Rosemont.

Though the seats in the PAC were not completely filled, the reaction of audience to the show made it feel as though they were. Screams, whistling, and shouting could be heard as numerous students, parents, and siblings showed their support for the performers.

“The show was very fun,” said performer Leigh White.

The joy of just being on stage could be seen on the performers’ faces. It was evident in the sparkle in their eyes and the smiles they flashed.

The show ended with the judges’ deliberation and an award presentation. Winning first place for group performances were Chris Carter and Jawan Givens A.K.A. Fatal Attraction. In second place was Jamal Rosemont and Meriah Christine. Coming in third was ADAJ.

For solo performances, first place went to Jamal Rosemont; second place was Leigh White; and third was Meriah Christine.

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Bringing cheer to AHS

By Kelly Carcamo/J-Line Writer ~

If you walk through the cafeteria after school, you’ve probably seen Dance teacher Cindy Marches leading the Varsity Cheer Team through practice drills.

Marches, the AHS Varsity cheer coach, has been a teacher in Humble ISD for 10 years.  She graduated from the University of Houston with a degree in Information System Technology, has a Dance Certification, and also teaches Dance I.

Marches has been married for 23 years to husband Richard and has three children: Rachel, 22; Brittany, 19; and Richard, 14. 

Q: Why did you want to become a dance teacher? 

A: The main reason I became a teacher is to become a drill team director.  I enjoy teaching dance and drill team (called dance team now) was a major part of my life in high school.

Q: Who came up with the idea of starting a group of girls called the Diamond Dolls?

A: Diamond Dolls have been a baseball support group for many years.  I believe it began on college campuses and trickled down to the high school level. The AHS Diamond Dolls have been around since the school opened.  I did not start the organization.

 Q:  Do you think girls would be interested in participating in this and why?

A: Many girls enjoy baseball but many of the Diamond Dolls are baseball players’ girlfriends.  Some girls participate because they want to be involved in a school organization and they like baseball!

 Q: How do you think the players would feel when the girls start cheering for them?

A: The boys enjoy having the girls cheer for them.  Unlike football, baseball does not have cheerleaders or the fan base so the diamond dolls support and encourage them.

 Q: How many girls can there be in this group?

A: The number of girls varies but is based upon the number of Varsity baseball players

 Q: Is this for all grades?

A: Seniors and Juniors are considered first.  After that sophomores.  No freshman.

 Q: What has been the funniest thing that you’ve seen at AHS?

A: I don’t get out of the dance room much so I can’t think of anything! Sorry!

 Q: What made you want to teach here at AHS?

A: I transferred here from Humble High School.  I wanted to stay in the district but wanted a shorter drive since I live in Huffman.

 Q: What were you teaching? 

A: I taught BCIS, Career Connections, Intro to Business, & Dance 

Q: Are the Diamond Dolls going to cheer for boys or girls?

A: Only boys.

Q: Would they have to go to every game day to cheer?

A: They are encouraged to attend all home district games.   

Q. Are you going to have a helper? If so, who?

A: I am no longer sponsoring the Diamond Dolls.  They currently need a sponsor.

Q: Did you plan to be a dance teacher when you were little?

A: A teacher, yes. A dance teacher, no.

Q: What encourages you teach to young girls to dance?

A: Dance & Drill Team.  I loved my first drill team director and wanted to do the same job as her.  I love dance and want to share that with others like it was shared with me.  

Q: 15. Did you always like to dance?

A: Yes, of course!

Posted in J1-on-one0 Comments

A glimpse of history

World Humanities students saw history up close when Holocaust Survivor Al Marks shared his story with the class on November 4. Many of the students were in tears as they listened to Marks describe his wrenching separation from his parents at age 13, when Nazis sent him to a labor camp and the adults to their deaths. Marks never saw his parents again.

Here is a look at Marks’ visit to Atascocita High School:


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Posted in Multimedia, Slideshows0 Comments

Pink cause nets green

A month-long campaign to raise breast cancer awareness, spearheaded by Atascocita High School teacher Monique Zibi and the French Club, raised $3,294 — about $700 more than last year’s fundraising drive.

The money was raised through the sale of tee-shirts, baskets, and participation in the “Race for the Cure,” according to  Zibi.

The campaign culminated with a “Wear Pink” Day on October 28, when hundreds of staff members and students donned pink attire to support the cause.

“It is so exciting to see the way that the staff, students and parents have responded to the campaign,” Zibi said in an email thanking school employees for their participation.

Zibi also appplauded Blue House 1 secretary Patti Stevenson for overseeing tee-shirt orders and delivery.

Posted in J-Line Buzz, News0 Comments

Who the flyest guy in school?

Most beauty contests feature lovely ladies in swimsuits and evening gowns, but at Atascocita High School, things are done a little differently.

Here, the school’s junior and senior boys vy for the title of “Fly Guy” in a contest that showcases their dancing and modeling talents. The event, meant as a light-hearted parody of beauty pageants, helps raise money for Student Council and scholarships.

This year’s competition has a “holiday hotties” theme and will feature 20 contestants sporting holiday costumes and dancing to Christmas songs. The show will take place Monday night in the PAC from 7 to 9 p.m.

Tickets are $5 in advance and $10 at the door.

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Never forget: AHS students inspired by a survivor’s story

Holocaust survivor Al Marks shares his story with AHS World Humanities students

Al Marks was only 13 when he and his parents were captured by the Nazis and sent to the infamous Auschwitz death camp.

The boy was sent to a series of labor camps and eventually liberated. His parents, however, were chosen for “special treatment” by Dr. Josef Mengele, who became known as the “Angel of Death.”

Marks never saw them again. They were among the estimated 11 million people — including six million Jews — who were exterminated by the Nazis.

Marks shared the story of his ordeal Thursday to a rapt AHS World Humanities class, where he described the pain of seeing his parents for the last time, the suffering he witnessed in the camps, and the chilling experience of coming face-to-face with Mengele, who performed gruesome human experiments on inmates.

Marks’ story left many in the class in tears – and forever changed.

“It was a really powerful emotional experience,” said sophomore Chelsea White. “We all felt the power of his words move through us. We all had deep feelings about our families and ourselves.”

Now a balding, bespectacled and gray-haired man in his late 70s,  Marks survived four camps (Auschwitz, Melk, Mauthhausen, and Ebensee) before being freed by General George S. Patton’s 3rd Cavalry Army.

After his liberation, Marks’ life brought him to Houston in 1948 on a scholarship. He went on to marry his high school sweetheart, serve in the U.S. Army, and conduct a Big Band orchestra. Since his retirement, he has been speaking to groups about his experiences during the Holocaust.

For the students in Wyatt Bingham and Gabriela Diaz’s course, hearing directly from a Holocaust survivor deepened their understanding and emotional connection to the lessons taught in the classroom. After Marks’ speech, the students were assigned to write letters to themselves and their parents reflecting on what they had learned.

“A lot of us are changing who we are because of him,” said White, who rushed home to tell her parents how much they are appreciated. “His speech did change how we feel about our parents and ourselves.”

Look in the Slideshow archive at the top to see a slide show of images from Marks’ visit.

Posted in J-Line Buzz, News1 Comment

AHS Band wins first place

By Jayson Pullen/J-Line Writer ~

Atascocita High School’s Military Marching Band scored a first-place finish at the National Association of Military Marching Bands marching contest this past Saturday.

This marks the third year in a row that the AHS band has claimed the top prize in Class 5A.

The band had been determined to snag first place honors.

“Since it’s the last performance, they only get one shot,” AHS band directorLarry Ward said last week, as the band prepared to head to the contest. “They’ll need to perform at their best, they’ve only got one shot, and this is it.”

The band went up against rivals Kingwood and Lufkin in the competition at Stephen F. Austin University in Nacogdoches.

One of the biggest challenges facing this year’s band was overcoming the loss of experienced seniors from last year. Although they were replaced by a large group of new freshmen players, the training has been hard on the younger members.

“Basically, 35 percent of our band is ‘fish,’ and this competition is the marching band’s most important of the year,” said senior Alex Nation, AHS Marching Band drum major. “We have worked very hard to help train our freshmen for this level of competition.”

Nation and fellow drum major Lindsey Hornback believe that the younger players will continue to improve their performance.

“It was as if we threw the freshmen into a deep pool and told them to swim; they had no idea what they were doing at all,” Hornback said. “Make no mistake, I’m proud of them, they’ve definitely come a long way.”

Although Saturday’s contest marks the close of marching band season, the AHS band still faces a full schedule of concerts, solo and ensemble performances and rehearsals.

 “People believe that when the football season’s over, it’s all done,” said Russell Caston, assistant band director. “The truth is the band’s never done. Ever.”

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Lady Eagles head to playoffs

By Jayson C. Pullen/J-Line Writer ~

The Atascocita High School Lady Eagles volleyball team will have everything on the line tonight when they face off against Klein Oak in the bi-district playoffs.

“We have eight seniors on the team, who have put in over four years of training for this game. I just want them to have some recognition,” said Coach Jessica Callahan. “Their blood, sweat, and tears have been put into training for not only this game, but for this school.”

Although the AHS Volleyball Team has never made it past the playoffs, team members believe that the Lady Eagles should do well against the competition.

“I think we can win, said Katie Bertling, one of the team captains. “Our team needs to just come together and give it our best effort.”

The girls stressed that if they lose even one game, the season is over.

 “It’s basically one, and you’re done. There’s no room for a loss,” said Kelsey Paulhus, another of the team’s captains.

Team members believe that they have a good chance winning all their playoff games, and they are hoping fans will show up to offer support. The game starts 6 p.m. tonight at Dekaney High School.

“All we want in return is people in the stands,” said Callahan. “Even if the team loses in the playoffs, they’d want to be surrounded by the people they love and care about.”

Posted in Sports3 Comments

A lesson in sports

Houston Chronicle sports columnist Jerome Solomon in the press box at the 2004 Super Bowl in Houston

By Jack Lee/J-Line Writer ~

Jerome Solomon is fortunate enough to get paid for two of his favorite things: writing and sports.

Solomon, a sports columnist for the Houston Chronicle, came into a Journalism I classroom at Atascocita High School on Oct. 19 and spoke about his life, his career, and his encounters with many people and places as a journalist.

“I am a sports nut,” said Solomon to the enthusiastic journalism students. His columns are mainly about different sports teams, players, coaches, and famous athletes.

Solomon, dressed professionally in a button-down shirt and khakis, was very friendly and humorous toward the students as they asked him questions in a simulated “press conference.”

Solomon told stories about everything from recent experiences to his early childhood. He said that his original favorite sport was basketball, noting that he was rather skilled at the sport despite his slightly below average size.

Growing up in what he called “the hood”, Solomon said that his goal in life was not to get out, but to make a successful living there.

The accomplished journalist readjusted the visitor’s name tag sticker on his pants and swayed back and fourth when asked the question, “I think everyone here wants to know. What is your salary?”

“I make enough,” responded Solomon, carefully choosing his words..

 Solomon, who was rather modest about his 17-year career, spoke from many years of experiences about the good and bad of journalism.

There were things he said he will never forget about his life and career.

 He talked about being in a room with a woman who had to speak for a son who had been paralyzed from a recent hit in football. The mother managed to choke out words through her tears and moans of emotional agony throughout the interview.

He talked about covering the New England Patriots for the Boston Globe, writing about the Big 12 Conference and getting to go to many places around the world, including five Super Bowls and four Olympic Games.

One of the stories he told was about going to Beijing, China for the Olympics two weeks early to explore as kind of a vacation. Solomon also recalled a time in Greece, when he stumbled upon a store that makes poetry and sandals. He ended up writing a story about the sandal-maker poet.

“Even though I mostly write about sports, I have the creative freedom to write about whatever I want to,” said Solomon.

Solomon, a former flight attendant who has no formal journalism training, mentioned how lucky the journalism students are to have a class in the craft, when he had to do all his learning in the field.

“The best moments of journalism are when you get to talk to someone right after the best moment of their life just happened,” said Solomon. “There is no better feeling in journalism.”

Posted in News, Sports8 Comments

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