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Valencia High School’s Academic Decathlon team at the competition award ceremony on Friday, February 9 at Santa Ana High School. Photo courtesy of PYLUSD Good News
By Brendan Munoz
Face to face with the notoriously ambitious climate of Academic Decathlon, Valencia High School (VHS) held its ground at this year’s State competition in Sacramento. Winning seven medals in total, Tigers undoubtedly left their mark at the state capital. However, their road to success was riddled with trials and tribulations along the way.
“Hannah Hui…and the entire Woodbridge team” said Captain Curtis Liu (12) as he recalled one of the team’s toughest adversaries. Upon VHS’ defeat at their hands, rather than crumble under the weight of expectations, Liu lead his team to exceed them. While Woodbridge managed to impress, VHS representative Morgan Gee (11) declared the loss inspired a more constructive and competitive mindset among Tigers as it “encouraged us to work harder to close the gap between us and Woodbridge.” And with the record to back it up, their notable improvement from last season’s performance reflect a growing drive for success.
However, while students may have struggled and encountered numerous adversities throughout competition, right behind them were their six coaches. As the foundation of the club, each coach specializes in certain aspects of competition. Simply put, “…without them, none of this would have been possible” credits Liu. Serving his last year both with Academic Decathlon and VHS, Coach and Social Science teacher Dr. Samuel Myovich has left a profound impact on the club and it’s members. Having been a coach for over 12 years, his experience has cemented him as one of the most admired pillars of the club. Echoing the sentiments of many, Gee claims, “Mr. Myovich is one of the most knowledgeable individuals I know, yet he’s always supporting of everyone on the team regardless of their performance.” Not made in vain, his efforts and legacy will continue to resonate throughout VHS as the school remembers his ever encouraging mentorship.
Walking away proud, students who competed in Sacramento not only grew as academic competitors, but also as Tigers. The team-based event known as the Super Quiz, drew students closer together and emphasized just how important a healthy team dynamic is in all facets of both academia, and life. The entire team’s performance affected placement and scoring, meaning Tigers needed to come together in order to place highly. This unique aspect of Academic Decathlon quickly became one of VHS’ largest assets during competition as Liu summarized “Our team personality is very comfortable and fun, but we were all committed and put our best foot forward to earn medals.” Thanks to this year’s experience and success under their belt, VHS’ Academic Decathlon already has its eyes on reaching Nationals.
By: Jared McNair & Nicole Trinidad
Every year, students from halfway across the globe come to Valencia to participate in the Foreign Exchange Program. For approximately two weeks these, students are given the opportunity to get a taste of the Southern California lifestyle. The program offers an exciting experience for Tigers as well, providing a unique window into culture, language, and ideas of students from different countries. This year there were 26 students who arrived from Lyon, France.
The Foreign Exchange Program has been active for four years at VHS. While it is not school or district sponsored, the program was intended to be “a tremendous opportunity for our students to meet kids from another culture and to make friends with them, all the while showing them what life is like for teenagers in California” said organizer and Spanish teacher, Mr. Steven Picht. Students across all the foreign language classes were given the chance to host one or more of the exchange students and were introduced to them on February 13.
While on their visit, Tigers introduced the French students to a number of local hot spots in addition to experiencing the more casual life of everyday Southern California. Many of the students enjoyed going to Venice Beach and getting to bike under the sun. As well, they noticed the cultural differences, as Josephine noted, “In America, people are very kind, and you can talk to an unknown person. However, in France, you don’t necessarily see the same thing.” Tristan mentioned that “People in France are not afraid to give opinion and be blunt”. In terms of location, they noticed how the cars and roads were all different and in France, people enjoy going outside much more.
What they learned the most, besides improving their language, was how different California is from what they were used to and they were able to appreciate mixing cultures. Exposure to a whole different way of living was something so new and beautiful to be apart of. Noemie observed that, “In America, people are cozy, and accept the difference between people. In France, on the other hand, it is very difficult to accept other cultures or other religions.” From previous expectations, many of them realized the mental picture they made about America was actually confirmed when coming here and even better than what they expected.
While the French students gathered their own brand new experiences, our host students also learned more from housing them. Much of what they had to accomodate to was the language barrier. “When the students did not understand, I would think of ways to rephrase, which often solved the problem.” Anjali relayed. On another note, Ivanna explained “It was different because there’s a stranger in my house, I tried to make him feel comfortable”. However, they were able to see how much the exchange students were willing to try new things, making the stay much more enjoyable. got to take them places, and show them the lifestyle of an American high school student. Anjali described how “It was a lot of fun introducing them to new types of food, and their reaction of whether they liked it or not.” Furthermore, Ivanna enjoyed “becoming friends with him, [and] having my own cultural experience on when he liked.”
Overall, both the host and exchange students were able to enjoy the time spent with each other and teaching each other through new encounters and even getting to make a stranger into their friend. Hopefully with the exchange program integrated into Valencia’s foreign language department, more students will continue to have the pleasure of exploring beyond their own country.
Article By: Nicole Trinidad
As children, many of us grew up on classics like “Cinderella”, “Little Red Riding Hood”, “Jack and the Beanstalk”, “Rapunzel”, and a myriad of others. This year’s spring musical imbues aspects from each fairy tale within the timeless performance, “Into the Woods”. Based on the original book by James Lapine, with music and lyrics from Stephen Sondheim, the drama department favored “Into the Woods” for this year’s spring production thanks to its multifaceted story and equally adaptable set of characters.
“Into the Woods” is a tasteful combination of the classic fairy tales mentioned: Jack and the Beanstalk, Cinderella, etc. Each subplot crosses paths with the main storyline which follows a Baker and his wife on their quest to have a child. However, due to a spell put on their house by an evil witch, they must go “Into the Woods” in order lift the spell and get their wish.
The main cast was comprised of Matthew Quintero as the Baker, Sheyenne Perez as Jack, Calista Gil as Jack’s Mother, Caitlyn Hinson as Cinderella, Veronika Orvolska as Little Red Riding Hood, Jessica Spruiell as the Witch, Emily Berg as the Narrator, and Ana Nguyen as the Baker’s Wife. Behind the scenes, the show was orchestrated by Stagecraft, directed by Grace Stanton, and musically directed by Megan Arthurton.
Although seamlessly performed, the organization process was one of Drama’s most daunting undertakings to date. “Just getting the rights alone to the musical was $3000, the mechanical cow we got is specifically designed for this show, and that was $250 as well” said Ana Nguyen (12). The production budget came from fundraisers like the Annual Dodgeball Tournament and Tigers Got Talent, as well as patrons generous enough to donate. Tickets also helped cover costs, this year $12 for students and $15 for adults.
Over the course of three months, countless hours of rehearsal and labor went into the production. Auditions were held back in December 2018, open to all VHS students. This year especially, Drama employed an extremely diverse cast ranging from Choir students to athletes.
Caitlyn Hinson (11) who is involved in the choir department explained, “It has been such a joy being in “Into the Woods”! It was really cool acting with such amazing and incredible actors. I really felt I could let loose and be myself around them and I was also able to learn so much.”
With all these improvements, the Spring production “exceeded everyone’s expectations” as “the best in years” remarked Quintero and Nguyen respectively. The common theme conveys the message of “be careful what you wish for” as the main characters make their journeys into the woods and explains every wish made comes with a price and that responsibility ultimately falls on you. The Spring Musical 2019 depicted this beautifully in a short amount of time and will go down in VHS history.
Today right after school, the quad was blanketed in white snow. A machine atop the office building dispenses snow all across the campus for students to play in and enjoy. The snow is very clean because as it hits the floor it evaporates onto the floor. For the students that have never seen snow before you can say that it a pretty great experience. Some students also expressed that, “It really made the day more special right before winter break”.
Valencia High School is known for its festive traditions, and for spreading joy this holiday season. What students enjoy the most about our Valencia traditions is our snow that the ASB elves provide to bring holiday cheer before getting sent off to enjoy their Winter Break. Fellow tigers mentioned that it was “the closest thing to actual snow” and “It really showed off the Christmas Cheer that Valencia is known for.” No matter if it was fake or real snow, it brings the same amount of enjoyment as the rest of our VHS traditions.