Best Buy had lines of people again Thanksgiving Week for Black Friday. The first person in line was Ivan Gutierez and his family.
Best Buy is best known for its sales on electronics. Ivan and his family camped out in front of Best Buy for these deals since the Saturday of the week before Thanksgiving, taking “shifts for bathroom breaks.”
They were camping for deals on TVs, Laptops, and other electronics. Ivan said, “We are buying these things for both ourselves and for investment.” An anonymous person in line said, “I come to buy TVs and sell them for a profit.”
Since it was Thanksgiving that day, Ivan and his family had their Thanksgiving dinner in the Best Buy line. Gutierez said, “We had our own Thanksgiving but it was the same as others. We had our dinner, family, and thanks.”
How was Best Buy and the line after it opened?
The line had around 1,000 people from start to finish as soon as it opened. One hour later, people kept coming. The line still had 1,000 people even when they had that many customers inside the store. The checkout line stretched almost to the back of the store.
There were no fights over items, like occurrences at many other stores across the nation, and overall Black Friday at Best Buy was calm.
The UCI blood drive made a return to Costa Mesa High yesterday, and CMHS students and staff volunteered to donate their blood for a better cause.
The UCI blood drive is an annual event that is hosted once in November and once in March. Certain requirements need to be met from each donor in order to legally donate blood. These requirements included a minimum weight of 110 pounds, a minimum age of 17 years, and a minimum amount of hemoglobin (iron level). Each year students have difficulty meeting the hemoglobin requirement, such as seniors Khatia Garcia, Diana Olmedo, and many more.
Khatia Garcia commented, “I’ve tried to donate two times last year and also this year, and both times I was unable to donate because I had low iron. I was really upset because I thought this year would be different. However, the UCI staff gave me certain papers that helped me to learn the different types of food that can help me with this.” Although certain volunteers did not have the opportunity to donate, others were able to complete the process without any complications.
First time donors, Nikki Delgado and Janeth Pena, felt it was great that they had the opportunity to help. Nikki Delgado commented, “I felt very proud of myself because I was extremely scared, and I was brave enough to donate. The staff was very helpful and took away some of the fears I had. I will definitely do it again in the future and try to convince my friends that it’s not as bad as it seems.”
A recent MESA (Math Engineering Science Achievement) club competition held at Chapman University sparked questions about the foundation of the club, as well as the fairness of the requirements for a school to have the club.
Mr. Poveda, a MESA advisor for over 14 years, shared information about the origin of the club and its purpose, “The MESA club was founded in the late 60’s to help underrepresented students go to college and be successful.”
In fact, in order to have a MESA program, you must have a certain percentage of students that are in the category of African American, Latino, or Native American. What this means is that schools like Newport Harbor, whose general population is Caucasian with a higher source of income per family, may not be able to have this program.
Is it fair to the student bodies of these schools to be restricted from having a MESA program even if they show interest in having one? Mr. Poveda shared his thoughts, “Life isn’t fair: I wouldn’t [think so] until money for schools is spread to all.”
A MESA student stated, “Students who have interest in these fields of study should be able to participate in a program like this.”
Are the underrepresented students at CMHS taking advantage of this opportunity? When asked about how many minority students are currently in MESA, Geoffrey Fulkerson, MESA club president replied, “About three or four.” Mr. Poveda gave his thoughts on as to why that is so, he stated, “Because they don’t have an interest in math, engineering, and science, you have to have an interest in these subjects to want to join.”
If the targeted students aren’t taking advantage of the MESA club, then what will become of the MESA club’s future in terms of purpose and regulations? What does it mean for schools that don’t have a larger student body of underrepresented individuals? Only time will tell.
Photo taken by Catherine Debbas
Virtual Enterprise students escaped the workroom and attended a ropes course that exercised the aspects of teamwork.
For the past few weeks the Virtual Enterprise students have been working to meet deadlines before their competition in late November. These students are filling in the shoes of previous-year students who won 1st and 2nd place in the nation.
Photo taken by Catherine Debbas
Last Wednesday, in order to bring their team together, the Virtual Enterprise students traveled to Big Bear, where the team-bonding ropes course took place. There were several portions of the course that had students jumping from trees and walking in high places. Each station that was completed was meant to teach students lessons on teamwork.
Different rope climbing stations were distributed around. There were stations like The Centurion, which was a 100 foot climb up a tree and then a leap to a hanger, and the flying squirrel, which required 8 people to lift one person harnessed by a rope 45ft into the air.
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Photo taken by Catherine Debbas
Student Rosibel Cruz, and VP of Marketing for Virtual Enterprise, commented, “The very first station I went on was the flying squirrel, which then gave me the courage to go on the rest of the stations and face my fears. Although I am extremely afraid of heights, the encouragement from others helped me enormously.”
Mr. Milchiker, the new business teacher, summed up his experience on the trip, “This was a very good experience for both the classes and me… I truly believe that this trip will assist us in getting things done in class and helping one another. Also I know that, for me and the other students, this moment will forever be remembered.”
In 2011, Dana Kahawai, English Teacher, was awarded Newport-Mesa’s Teacher of the Year Award. A month later, Mrs. Kahawai was informed that she would no longer have a guaranteed teaching position in the 2011-12 school year. Mrs. Kahawai was fired after being identified as an excellent educator.
How does this happen? How does a young and effective educator get released over any other teacher?
The answer is Tenure: A status of employment that grants job security, based on performance and seniority. It generally takes several years for a teacher to achieve tenure, but it varies from place to place. "It is based on performance and time served," Dr. D'Agostino said.
English teacher Mrs. Kahawai has experienced this process first hand over many years, and she finally received probationary status this year. "This is my sixth school year at Mesa. For the first five school years, I received a pink slip on March 15th, which is the deadline for the district to let people know that they aren't coming back, and then they let you know at different times when they do want you back. It depends on when funding becomes available, and when they have a guaranteed spot for you." She then describes how the process is similar to completely losing your job, including the shutdown of your email. "...you'll get a call from your principal saying, we found the funding, we figured it out, we're going to be able to hire you back. Some years I've heard really early... other years it's been as late as a few days before school started that I found out I got my job back."
Basically, teachers that have been employed the longest would be last to get laid off, and those that have not achieved it are the first to be terminated, regardless of performance or popularity.
Tenure is a "due process of rights," said Newport-Mesa Federation of Teachers President, Kim Claytor. "Tenure gives [stability], instead of being released from employment for any reason. It's just a matter of different rights based on your status."
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In order for a teacher to gain tenure they must pass through three levels: Temporary, Probationary, and Permanent. After being closely supervised by administration, a teacher can achieve Permanent Status, otherwise known as Tenure. So why did Kahawai not achieve tenure if she had performed well in her duties and served for a number of years?
Dr. D'Agostino states "...by law we are required to not run out of money; we have to take precautions to make sure the funding is there for the next school year. And sometimes in order to do that, we have to take teachers off the financial books, and hire them back only when we know we have funding again." Probationary teachers are notified on March 15th that their contracts will be released, and during the summer they are called back and must interview for their old jobs, competing with other teachers that can apply for the position. Sometimes they get hired back, sometimes they don’t.
Ms. Cross, a common favorite math teacher among students, is another teacher who has been through the fire/rehire process "I think there are benefits to the tenure system. Currently, it is very frustrating, but I can see how in the long run it does protect teachers," she said. "I would hate to be working for 20 years and sharing all my knowledge and lessons with a new teacher to find out I have been replaced because it is more cost efficient. I think it also protects teachers who don't always agree with the majority. Teachers should have a right to express how they feel, especially when it comes to student learning, without fear that their opinion is going to cost them their jobs." Cross does not have tenure.
The difficulty in firing a teacher with tenure has raised controversy. Some people say that teachers with tenure may take advantage of their job security. "Say somebody's teaching and they get overlooked, and then they perpetuate [some habit that is not benefiting the students]... this gets overlooked by admin [who has the authority to make change]... Somebody would have to point [the habit] out to you and help you make change. Say nobody held you accountable or helped you. Same thing as if we had a teacher who is not fulfilling their duties. That is a problem," Ms. Claytor said.
CMHS students do notice when a teacher is not putting forth the effort. "I notice how much effort a teacher puts in," said sophomore Trent Teague. "It's pretty evident if they're trying or not." added Sophie Nguyen. "The effort a teacher puts in makes me put in more as a student," commented junior Anna Do.
"If the teacher was deficient with something, their supervisor would have to identify that, address that in a way that makes the employee aware and give them an opportunity to improve. [After a period of time] their supervisor monitors them, if they did not change their way, they get termination. They get certain notifications... make sure the process is fair,” said Kim Claytor.
After this process of monitoring, if the teacher has not improved they have a right to a hearing. At the hearing the principal and the teacher have opportunities to appeal to the 3 person panel, who later decide whether or not to let the teacher go. Teachers without tenure do not have this right. They are the first to go when educational funding is low.
So why have the tenure system when good teachers can get fired and teachers that are less effective are difficult to remove?
Job security and stability with teachers is an important issue. "Unfortunately, the profession of teaching has a pretty high turnover rate. A lot of people want to be teachers, and after some time they check out of the profession," Ms. Claytor said. "I think having stability in the workforce is very beneficial in our education system."
"It doesn't make any financial sense to make greater efficiency to dismiss people; it's much more financially sound and economically smart to work with people who aren't doing a good job, and get them to see where they can improve and support them," said Dr. D'Agostino. "In the long run, it's cheaper, more effective, and better for relationships and better for people."
"What I'd really like to see happen is that all our good teachers, which I think we have here at Mesa, get the security that they need so that they can do their jobs well," said Principal D'Agostino.
NMUSD Human Resources Department could not be reached for comment.
Photo taken by Stephanie Willet
Costa Mesa High School’s ASB organized Halloween events that included Twin Monday, Tacky Tuesday and a costume contest for students throughout the Halloween week.
On Matching Monday, students coordinated with each other to create matching pairs. Throughout the classrooms and hallways there were students dressed to match with their “twin”. Some attire included baseball hats, jeans, t-shirts, bows and shoes.
For Tacky Tuesday, students had to wear the “tackiest” outfit that they could. Some students wore two pairs of socks, Hawaiian shirts, neon colored shirts or skirts with red, pink, turquoise and many other different colors shirts, shoes and tights in order to create that mismatched and tacky look.
Photo taken by Stephanie Willet
The events continued onto Wednesday, where a number of students dressed up in a variety of costumes. ASB encouraged students to wear their Halloween costume to school to celebrate Halloween, show off their creativity, and also to be judged in the gym at the costume contest. Costumes ranged from a space alien, a princess, PSY, the singer of “Gangnam Style”; a zombie, and even frozen yogurt.
The categories for the contest were judged on creativity, originality and funniness. The group that won most creative was the Disney princesses, including seniors Jennifer Daley as Cinderella, Kristi Adams as Mulan, Trista Bell as Belle, Angel Jesudasen as Jasmine, Ashley Tfaye as Snow White, Rachel Witter as Rapunzel, Kellie Thorsness as Sleeping Beauty, Maria Diaz as Pocahontas. Sophie Harriman, "the frozen yogurt girl" won most original. The cop and criminal couple, Carly Dixon, as the cop and Geoff Fulkerson the criminal, won in the funniness category. Their rewards were gift cards to In N Out.