For the first time in Costa Mesa Middle School’s “recent history,” an Academic Pentathlon team is beginning to form. This program, led by middle school principal Aaron Peralta along with teachers Juan Olier and Jake Lee, is a junior high version of the high school’s Academic Decathlon.
The pentathlon has only five events compared to the decathlon’s ten, but is still quite the challenge for any middle school student. It consists of five portions: a literature portion where the students read a novel and analyze it, a social science portion made up of U.S. History criteria, a math portion, a science portion, and finally a essay portion. Students are graded on their ability to effectively and correctly perform each of the portions and “The top scoring teams and individual students are awarded medals and plaques for highest scores.”
This program, rigorous and demanding was created at Mesa for its benefits for not only a few straight-A students, but any student meeting the criteria set up by the Orange County Department of Education. The criterion for being a participant in the Pentathlon is that 1/3 of the team must be comprised by students with an academic GPA between 2.0-2.99, 1/3 of the team must be comprised by students with an academic GPA between 3.0-3.74, and 1/3 of the team must be comprised by students with an academic GPA between 3.75-4.0.
As Dr. Peralta says “The program encourages and rewards academic excellence among students of all ability levels.”
Not only does it reward academic excellence, but it also benefits the participants later in their high school careers and even college. Mr. Olier, a teacher instrumental in the building of the program states “Although colleges do mostly look at the high school program [Academic Decathlon] it is definitely a benefit to say that the student has been doing it since 8th grade and because they start in eighth grade, by the time they get to high school they’ll be much more experienced and better at it, making them place higher.”
Placing high in an Academic Decathlon is a great accolade for a student to have on their college applications, and the skills and experience gained from it could prove to be beneficial to those who participate. All these great benefits can and will begin with this new Academic Pentathlon, started by Mesa teachers, for Mesa students.
Story by James Rydjeski
Photos by Alyah Kanemoto
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“Hey Mesa! Next week is our first annual dress up week!” read tiny slips of blue paper, eagerly handed out by ASB representatives on the Friday before the Veteran’s Day weekend.
ASB president, Sophie Harriman, came up with the original idea of creating Twinning Tuesday (match with a friend), Wacky Wednesday (mismatch), Throwback Thursday (clothes that used to be in style), and Fall Friday (Sweaters, Pumpkin Spice Latte).
Several people wondered what the real reason for spirit week was. Mrs. Delzer clarifies that “there is so much momentum that starts off the beginning of the year, and then we have two months where there isn’t a ton going on on campus, so our ASB wants to throw in things every once in a while to get students more involved.”
Compared to last year’s Spirit Week, there seemed to be a great increase in the amount of students that participated in dressing up. The days chosen were very easy for people to dress up for, yet creative at the same time. What really worked was ASB’s Instagram competition. If students dressed up they could post a picture and tag #cmhsspirit for a chance to win a gift card. The Instagram idea was a perfect way to get more students to partake in this event and there were over 75 posts by the end of the week. As a result, senior Mahina Won-Milho won the contest, and received a 25 dollar gift card to Target.
Senior Sagang Wee thought “It was a lot of fun; I dressed up for every day except for Throwback Thursday.”
Sophomore Dilara Ozonur commented that “it was pretty cool, I enjoyed watching the people that dressed up, but I personally thought that it was really random.”
Story by Christine Tfaye
Photos by Sophie Harriman
Chatter quickly buzzed around Mesa’s campus on the day of the long anticipated Haunted Homecoming rally on October 31st.
As with tradition, seniors Amanda Moore and Christian Perez were chosen as the rally hosts, pumping up the crowd and hosting games created by ASB for the Homecoming Court nominees.
Quinton Bell, Senior King nominee, was most excited for the games he was to play at the rally. The games being a surprise to him, he “expected nasty games because of the Halloween theme.”
Nasty games were what the nominees received as they stuck their hands in foul smelling soup to search for a key. The key, going along with the Halloween theme, was to unlock the exit of the haunted mansion in which the Court was trapped. Another balloon game was expected to be played, but with time running short, the rally bypassed the activity.
Other fun included a surprise ASB dance with glowing lights, and a group of zombie teachers dancing to “Thriller.” Both dances were well rehearsed and kept as secret as possible from outside students. The Madrigal Choir performed a song in the dark using flashlights as props. Spooky transitions, such as when students initially walked in, the lights were turned off for a haunted mansion feel and Halloween favorite songs (such as “This Is Halloween”) played in the background.
Sophie Nguyen, Junior Homecoming Princess, was most excited for these dances and stated they “exceeded her expectations.”
Although multiple seniors exclaimed this was the best rally they had seen at Mesa in all four years, senior Eric Vu mentioned “The seniors were quiet. They weren't really getting into it, but overall, it was a really good rally.”
Janelle Alonzo, junior ASB publicity officer, excitedly exclaimed right before students entered, “This is going to be the best rally. I think the performances are well planned out and I love the theme as a whole. Although other rallies have a lot of work, this rally has lots more work inputted.”
Written by Kimberly Hedges
Photos by Serena Ozonur
A huge sign loomed over the senior quad; in spooky bold print, it flashed: “A Haunted Homecoming.” On the night of Saturday, November 2nd, Mesa students gathered in the large gym for the traditional Homecoming Dance and partied the night away.
However, this dance was different compared to the homecoming dances of years past. Instead of walking right to the front of the gym, there was a ghostly graveyard that led up to the dance. This pathway that captured everyone’s attention; it was accompanied by several flashing lights and sounds to really capture this haunted effect.
“The Halloween idea really worked. I really liked the outside stuff; it was new and it was nice for the people who don’t like to dance,” said senior Angel Fisk.
The setup for the inside of the dance was also completely different. Instead of having the DJ face the doors, he was actually set up vertical. The dancing area was set up in a circle with two platforms to stand up and dance on.
Senior Kage Kistler thought “it was cool, but I didn’t like how it was so small.”
Others, like senior Geoff Fulkerson, said it was good. “It felt more close together and made things less awkward,” Geoff commented.
Dancing isn’t for everyone, so if you wanted some fresh air and headed through the walkway towards the aquatics center, “Boogeyman” was playing and a ping pong table was set up.
“Outside was pretty legit, like the movie screening and ping pong. It was nice to have something else to do,” commented senior Mahina Won-Milho.
Students bought their tickets through ASB, and a total of 270 were sold. Unfortunately, less tickets sold this year than last year’s Homecoming, which ASB advisor Mrs. Delzer thinks was impacted by this year’s senior class.
Dance contacts strictly say that dirty dancing is forbidden, but do the students really follow this rule? During the dance, there were many students that were dancing inappropriately that Mr. Howell witnessed.
“The dirty dancing was not as bad compared to last year. There were two or three girls whose parents have got to be embarrassed, but mostly it was pretty good. Kids are just having fun,” Howell commented.
When asked about how this can be prevented as a school, he replied “I don’t think we can do anything about it. If some kids think grinding is attractive, then that’s their problem. Many kids had fun and did not have to do that; a very few number looked out of hand.”
The most highly anticipated moment came when it was announced who Homecoming Queen, Rachel Russell, would have her slow dance with. Halfway through the dance, Carlos Vallejo was declared King.
Girls exited barefoot with their painful heels in their hands, but still every single student left the dance with big smiles on their faces and positive comments filled the air.
Written by Jazzy Jaime and Christine Tfaye
Photos by Christine Tfaye
A new football stadium- in 2 years?
Late September, students’ ears pricked up as Dr. D’Agostino announced that the district had allocated $7.5 million to build a brand new stadium on the Mesa campus. Unlike anything we have ever had before, the new stadium will reduce the need to use Estancia’s Jim Scott Stadium and transportation costs for football, track, band, cheer, soccer, and many other athletic programs. The new stadium will be built over the current track and field, and will be completed in two to four years.
“Whatever [7.5 million dollars] can buy is what we’ll get,” said varsity football coach Wally Grant.
As of now, this facility will contain a full turf field, all-weather track, lights, and bleachers. According to D’Agostino, the stadium is not expected to have a field house or concession booth, but will contain the necessary plumbing and grading to add one if we wish.
“The district has always been committed to [improving] facilities,” D’Agostino said.
The money came from California Redevelopment agencies, which collected developer’s fees from real estate projects before the recession hit. After the housing market plummeted, Sacramento decided to dissolve the CRAs and borrow their funds to keep the state running. Since the economy is now taking a turn for the better, the state government has been returning this funding to help public schools. A package of approximately $25.5 million reached NMUSD; $10 million went to improve Newport Harbor’s stadium, $7.5 million to Corona del Mar’s stadium, $1 million to Estancia’s pool, and the remaining $7.5 million to Mesa.
According to D’Agostino, $15,000 was spent on transportation costs alone in the past year, calling the stadium a “significant investment.” The cost of maintaining the natural grass on the track currently is also quite high, with watering, mowing, and yard line marking needing to be done constantly. With a new stadium on Mesa’s campus with artificial turf, these costs will be cut down significantly.
“It’s not just a “football” stadium,” said Coach Grant. “This stadium benefits all.” Grant remarks that this stadium will be especially beneficial to the elementary and middle school students who play club football on the weekends. “They’re going to see that these are great facilities, and we’re not going to lose kids. Mesa will have the whole package: academics, athletics, and facilities.”
The construction is projected to begin after an architect has been hired and plans drawn up, and a successful review from the Department of State Architecture. This will, however, displace the practice area for the football team, track team, PE classes, and marching band, and the game space for freshmen and JV football. For the years of construction, alternatives will need to be found, but according to Coach Grant, “The positives outweigh the negatives tremendously.”
The current freshmen class will be among the first to enjoy the new stadium. According to freshman football player and marching band member Isaiah Muniz, “I would rather have the stadium here. Estancia looks down on us as a stepbrother. And more people will come to our games and competitions!”
Others are more skeptical. According to freshman Marissa Castro, “The new stadium is too small. It’s not going to able to satisfy the band.”
Even D’Agostino remarked that the stadium might not be big enough to satisfy some of our own football games, but it’s the sense of school spirit it will bring that’s ultimately important.
“When I was drum major of my high school marching band, the cadence of our battery as we marched to our home stadium would boom through the campus and bring a sense of spirit and camaraderie to the night, “ D’Agostino reminisces. “I’m excited to experience this on our own campus, instead of shipping people out. One day, Mesa will feel this.”
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The annual Senior Awards Night was held on Tuesday, June 18th at the Crossing Church. Students, family, Mesa staff, and outside scholarship presenters entered the church while being serenaded by the Jazz Band, conducted by Mrs. Gilboe. The evening began with opening remarks by Mr. Gall, who introduced Mrs. Kahawai.
Mrs. Kahawai acted as the Master of Ceremonies , introducing who was going to speak, give out the award, receive the award, or perform, adding plenty of comic relief to the night with her sparkling personality. The main categories for awards given were the Scholarship and Award Recognition, Academic Honor Recognition, and Valedictorian Scholars. See the complete list of awards winners at the end of the article!
Students received numerous scholarships from outside organizations; many of these didn’t come as a surprise, having been presented at earlier banquets. Notable scholarship winners include Yesenia Martinez, who received $69,000 from the Army, and Quan Nguyen and Maria Diaz, who received $20,000 each from the Balboa Bay Club.
Not only students received awards; Vanessa Hatch was recognized as a distinguished parent due to her involvement in the school.
The night was punctuated with a performance by the CMHS Madrigal Choir, who performed “Just the Way You Are/Just A Dream” and “When I’m Sixty Four/Because.”
This Senior Awards Night was put together mainly by Mr. Gall, who spent a month and a half planning: obtaining the venue, collecting the teachers’ nomination forms, and setting up the awards.
Quan Nguyen clearly received the most awards; when asked what it was like to be so amazing, he declined to reply.
Edwin Quevedo, winner of multiple art awards, said, “I will have to prioritize what awards I really want, but I will definitely put some in my resume.”
The Class of 2013 Senior Awards Winners
Academic Honor Medallion Winners:
Art: Tiffany Nguyen
ASB: Courtney Hatch
Athletics: Molly Settles and Franco Ramirez
Video Production: Jesus Estrada and Tiffany Nguyen
Music technology: Sako G and Rodrigo Ramirez
Instrumental Music: Eduardo Villegas and Alexis Amaya
Vocal Music: Adriana Rodriguez
Drama: Hayley Smith and Adriana Rodriguez
Ceramics: Chris Torres
VAPA: Eduardo Villegas
Photography: Khatia Garcia
Digital Art: Edwin Quevedo
Business: Michelle Luna
Special Programs: Alvaro Melendez, Sean Lovell, Janeth Pena
Spanish: Nik Kieler and Adrian Rodriguez
Yearbook: Molly Settles, Megan Settles, and Ashley Tfaye
Journalism: Maria Diaz and Nakita Rico
English: Maria Diaz
Physical Science: Quan Nguyen
Biological Science: Quan Nguyen, Norma Machuca, Ashley Tfaye
AMA: Ally Martin
Math: Quan Nguyen
Social Science: Alyssa Dasca
Academic Honor Certificate Winners:
ASB: Alyssa Dasca and Yasmine El-Assadi
Athletics: Kellie Thorsness, Aubry Hill, Victor Estrada, Quan Nguyen
Instrumental Music: Edwin Quevedo
Vocal Music: Selena Arreola and Marcie Mathieu
Drama: Trista Bell and Selena Arreola
Art: Hanna Keane and Michelle Sorensen
Ceramics: Judith Ramirez and Selena Arreola
Photography: Martin Vargas and Nik Kieler
Digital Art: Michelle Sorensen and Nicholas Kim
ACE Academy: Edwin Quevedo and Selena
Business Academy: Rachel Witter and Kelsey Armstrong
Spanish for Spanish Speakers: Bernice Ramirez
Yearbook: Megan Settles and Molly Settles
Journalism: Quan Nguyen
English: Jenny Daley, Trista Bell, and Nik Kieler
EMA: Victir Estrada, Khatia Garcia, and Arturo Manzo
Math: Nik Kieler and Tin Truong
Social Science: Maria Diaz and Quan Nguyen
Daughters of the American Revolution Good Citizen: Daniel Venegas
Exchange Club ACE Award: Edwin Quevedo
Exchange Club of Newport Harbor Youth of the Year: Quan Nguyen and Rachel Witter
Assistance League of Newport Mesa: Veronica and Antonio
National Charity League: Trista Bell and Rachel Witter
Roger Yamanaka Scholarship: Angel Jesudasen
Kiwanis Scholarship: Quan Nguyen
Balboa Bay Club College Grants: Quan Nguyen, Maria Diaz, and Eduardo Hernandez
Marines Distinguished Athlete: Kyle Barnett and Rachel Witter
Marines Scholastic Excellence: Quan Nguyen and Maria Diaz
Semper Fidelis Music Award: Monique Nguyen and Placido Martinez
Army Scholarship Award: Jahir Lopez, Yesenia Martinez, Jennifer Daley, and Franco Ramirez
John Philip Sousa National Band Award: Edwin Quevedo
Louis Armstrong Jazz Award: Alexis Amaya
National Choral Award: Drake Martinez
Norm N. Kono Visual Performing Arts Scholarship: Eduardo Villegas
ROP Business Pathway Award: Michelle Luna
ROP Nursing Pathway Award: Zyerie Ramirez
PTSA Scholarship Awards: Alyssa Dasca, Jennifer Daley, Yasmine El-Assadi, Jory Hartshorne, Courtney Hatch, Angel Jesudasen, Nik Kieler, Ashley Tfaye, Markiece Traylor, Eduardo Villegas
Schools First FCU Student Award: Zyerie Ramirez
NMUSD Above and Beyond Award: Jose Martinez
Musical Theater West “Footlighter” Scholarship: Hayley Smith
SOY Save Our Youth: Martin Vargas
NMUSD Memorial Scholarship: Michael Panh
NMUSD State Seal of Biliteracy: Geraldine Aguilar, Mayra Alvarez, Genesis Collin, Veronica, Itzel Gonalez, Eric Paniguia, and Franco Ramirez
Chamber of Commerce Award: Alexa Negrillo, Ashley Tfaye, Christian Gonzalez, Joey Nguyen, Katie Doan, Kristi Adams, Long Nguyen, Nik Kieler, Rachel Witter, Trista Bell, Kaew Bunyalug, Yasmine El-Assadi
Les Miller Recognition Award: Maria Diaz, Quan Nguyen, Alyssa Dasca, Jenny Daley.
Community Service Award: Anais Alvarez, Rodrigo Cervantes, Veronica, Alan Aguirre, Abraham Fuentes, Haica Gonzalez, Courtney Hatch, Yesenia Martinez, Norma Machuca, Bernice Ramirez, Nakita Rico, Stephanie Rodriguez, Nayeli Salazar, Jennifer Santiago, Eduardo Villegas
Toshiba Senior Classic Scholarship: Quan Nguyen
California Scholarship Federation Awards: Kristi Adams, Trista Bell, Kaew Bunyalug, Jennifer Daley, Alyssa Dasca, Yasmine El-Assadi, Christian Gonzalez, Cruz Martinez, Michael Nguyen, Zyerie Ramirez, Ashley Tfaye, Angel Jesudasen
National Honor Society Member Awards: Kristi Adams, Victor Andres, Jenny Bernal, Kaew Bunyalug, Jenny Daley, Alyssa Dasca, Yasmine El-Assadi, Angel Jesudasen, Sean Lovell, Michelle Luna, Norma Machuca, Alexa Negrillo, Michael Nguyen, Monique Nguyen, Tiffany Nguyen, Franco Ramirez, Rachel Witter, Trista Bell, Jake Lux, Eduardo Hernandez, Adriana Rodriguez, Hayley Smith, Ashley Tfaye, Daniel Venegas, Eduardo Villegas
CIF Academic Student Athlete of the Year Award: Ashley Tfaye and Quan Nguyen
National Merit Scholarship Finalist: Quan Nguyen
Valedictorian Scholars: Trista Bell, Jennifer Daley, Alyssa Dasca, Maria Diaz, Yasmine El-Assadi, Quan Nguyen.
Written by Alan Aguirre and Loralee Sepsey
Photos and Videos by Royce Friedmann and Raymond Andrade
Storify by Jimmy Palacios
The academically advanced and the artistically eloquent were recognized with awards honoring their intelligence and diligence in dedicated subjects. Many parents watched proudly as their sons and daughters received medals and certificates of recognition at the Mustang Awards Night.
This year's Mustang Awards Night was held at the Crossing Church, where the continuous murmurs of students, parents, and teachers filled the room. The chatter halted when Mr. Gall, one of Mesa's high school counselors, confirmed that he was ready to speak. Mr. Gall was the speaker of the ceremony. He read the compliments and heart-felt comments of teachers that provided an explanation of why they chose certain students to be awarded.
"Hard working", "diligent", "excellent", all of these words were used to describe the characters of many of the students awarded. All of the students were in grades 9 through 11, and each were recognized for their distinct work ethic and quality of mind. Different teachers looked for different aspects in their students. The department chair for Social Science Dr. Howell revealed that he looks for a student who "is not afraid to stand out and participate in class."
Students at the awards night felt honored to be recognized. Many won multiple awards, and some were surprised to have won anything at all. Trent Teague felt "pretty ecstatic" when he won the Mustang Award for Business, an award that he wasn't expecting to win. He revealed that this award was affirmation for his possible future career in business.
Not only did the students feel honored, but the parents did as well. Parents at the Mustang Awards Night couldn't hold their excitement as their child was honored for excellence. Especially for the father of a freshman student who won an award; he was relieved to say that "It feels good. She's a freshman. I hope she can continue."
Story by Joey Nguyen
Photos by Jocelyn Gutierrez
Storify produced by Nisha Degante