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The CMHS library will never be as silent as it was the week of December 17th. The atmosphere was intense. The sound of scratching pencils filled the air and thumping heartbeats filled the ears of the students in Mr. Abuel's second period AP Rhetoric class. A student stands up, hands shaking and palms sweating, and walks briskly to the old wooden lectern. With a gulp and a glance to his crumpled index cards, he opens his mouth and begins to tear down an overworked argument with a simple 3 minute speech.
These skirmish debates are in preparation for the "Great Debates" the class famously participates in at the end of January. Each team was given a preliminary topic at the end of November, and has been feverishly preparing ever since. From after-school sessions with Abuel to coffee fueled, paper-strewn mornings at Barnes and Noble, teams took even these preliminary debates seriously. In a way they are, since the winners of the preliminary debate gets to decide if they go first or last during the Great Debates, a necessary advantage.
"The debates were super intense. The experience is kind of weird because I saw the debates as a freshman, and to now be debating feels surreal. And preparing for it was a lot of hard work. I have 10 zeroes in math, but my hard work did pay off!" said Jazzy Jaime.
Headed by a team captain and a sub-captain, these teams consist of five people, except for one that has four. Each team has a constructive introduction, one or two cross examiners, a rebuttal, and a conclusion.
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Starting off the debate, Sagang Wee's team faced off against Kyle Hefner's, debating "We should never be selfish." Sagang's team, consisting of sub-captain Zuleima Diaz and team members Lourdes Mendez, Laura Vaugeois, and Eric Vu, won. These teams will be debating "The individual should serve the state" vs. "The state should serve the individual" on January 22nd.
The next day, Angel Fisk's team faced off against Royce Friedmann's team, arguing "We should strive to treat everyone equally." Angel's team, consisting of sub-captain Preston Trieu and members McKenzie Soldin and Logan Whalen, won. They will be debating the famous "Man is inherently evil" vs "Man is inherently good" on January 23rd.
Next, Audrey Nguyen's team went against Abby To's team, with the topic "We should make all our choices based on facts." Audrey's team, with sub-captain Ciara Rudas and members Juan Partida, McKenna Patton, and Alex Piatti, won. This group will be debating "Virtue is more important than knowledge" vs "Knowledge is more important than virtue" on January 24th.
Closing up the debates, Amanda Moore's team headed off against Loralee Sepsey's, debating "We should never lie." Loralee's team, made up of sub-captain Jazzy Jaime and members Jocelyn Gutierrez, Hoan Nguyen, and Daniel Lawrence, won. These teams will be debating "There is no Moral Truth" vs "There is Moral Truth" on January 25th.
"The debate was pretty intense, but also very interesting. Even though it was the first serious team debate in our class, everyone debated so well. I love all of them. For my own experience, I was kinda stressed out and nervous, but after the debate, I know what I can do and how to do better," said Hoan Nguyen.
The highly anticipated Gold Card was released to the CMHS student body the week of December 3rd, rewarding those who had scored Advanced in all areas of the CST taken last May. This exclusive card has given many benefits to the holder since its implementation last year, including free admission to dances and games, front of the line cafeteria passes, and bragging rights. However, the benefits of this card have become increasingly vague and caused mixed reactions among many of its holders. The question that pesters this year's gold card holder:
"What exactly can I do with this?"
The benefits of the Gold Card have noticeably changed since the first Gold Card rally in May 2011, which attempted to get the student body excited for the upcoming CSTs. Things such as an off-campus pass for sophomores, a pool party, and preferred rally seating never occurred, but other extremely exclusive benefits prevailed. Free admission to home games and dances, including Homecoming and Prom, and a front-of-the-line cafeteria pass were among the benefits enjoyed during the 2011-2012 school year, but the financial toll became too hard for the school to bear.
"It became increasingly expensive to offer the same level of services for the gold card, to be part of the gold card club, than we had anticipated," said Dr. D'Agostino in regards to the financial issue. "There aren't a lot of schools that do this, and there still is a cost to us for doing us. So we just think that we have to keep the program going while being financially responsible as well."
As a result, some of the benefits changed over the course of the past year. Dances and some sports events no longer became free, with the exception of Prom. This year, the benefits have been changed and whittled down.
"There were some changes made to the program this year. We still believe that some of the perks are extremely exclusive, and show that we really appreciate and care that kids take the CSTs and the testing window very seriously," Dr. D'Agostino said.
"The school could not continue to afford free admission to all dances and athletic events," said activities director Ms. Scott.
According to Ms. Scott, not all of the benefits have been set in stone. As of now, gold card benefits include free admission to the Back to School and Blacklight dances, reduced ticket prices for Homecoming and Prom, and a front-of-the-line cafeteria pass.
This year, the gold cards were even more anticipated than they were last year, due to the fact that they came out in December rather than September, as they were last year.
"It's just because we're running a little behind schedule, it's been a very busy year this year. There have been more issues than we have had in the past, unfortunately. We're always working to try to improve; we'll try to get test scores a little bit sooner and try to evaluate them a little bit sooner, and get that information out to people sooner as well," Dr. D'Agostino commented.
Students have met the card with mixed reactions.
"I really don't see any advantages to it, I never see anyone use it," said junior Carlos Valdez
"I don't think it's worth it anymore," said junior Austin Beall.
"In my opinion, I believe the gold cards are a great way to motivate students to succeed in their CSTs," said senior Jesus Estrada.
Despite the opinions of the student body, the school administration remains firm in its belief that this card will encourage students to work hard and succeed on the CSTs in May.
"I think the purpose of the gold card is to show that we appreciate the hard work that students do, and we want to acknowledge them by being part of the exclusive club," Dr. D'Agostino said. "We just want kids to challenge themselves at the highest levels of their ability."
Written by Loralee Sepsey
The CMHS Business Academy and Ms. Wooten’s students went on a college- touring fieldtrip to SDSU and UCSD.
CMHS sophomores and juniors were encouraged to attend a four-year college by being shown the different clubs and activities the two campuses had to offer. From restaurants to rock climbing walls, and even 3-dollar movie theaters; each college campus had different things to offer.
The first tour was SDSU (San Diego State University). The campus was filled with mission-styled buildings. Their school colors were red and black, with their mascot being the Aztec. They offer various majors, and the class ratio is 1:30. However, they appeared to have fewer Men’s Sports compared to other schools. They don’t offer crew, cross country, and track, along with other sports, but they do have them for women. Exclusive college concerts are held every year, bringing in artists like LMFAO and Bruno Mars.
The next stop was UCSD, where a vast number of trees lead to the main campus. UC San Diego was divided into different colleges, “kind of like Hogwarts,” according to the tour guide. Throughout the campus, you can find various art murals and sculptures. The Sun God is the most famous; festivals are created every year to honor the bird-like sculpture. Also, right before finals students walk backwards under the sculpture because it is said to give good luck.
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Student Matt Gray enjoyed UCSD more than SDSU because of its more modern looking campus. An anonymous student said this field trip wasn’t helpful for them.
The field trip was intended to show students an overview of different college campuses. Mr. Hancock said, “It allowed students to see another campus, rather than OCC.”
The field trip added entertainment to insight as the students experienced an environment different from high school.
Check out the students' thoughts!
Mesa’s Virtual Enterprise classes had left Tuesday night to compete in the California Trade Show in Bakersfield. The event, which spans two days, consists of various business-related competitions, such as Sales, Marketing, and Business Plan, as well as a trade fair for all of the companies on Thursday. In particular, Business Plan is a national competition; the top five finalists from California go on to compete in New York in April. It consists of a twelve-minute presentation before a panel of judges, followed by a question-and-answer period. Both companies have spent the months prior to the Trade Show crafting their businesses and preparing for competition. Hours were spent on non-school days to do so.
Mesa’s two Business Plan teams entered Bakersfield with high expectations; the school’s Business Plan teams had placed first and second in last year’s competition. Both teams made a strong effort Wednesday; they were able to advance to a third round. However, Odyssey’s run was doomed to end by that night. After Mrs. Sheldon’s announcement, both teams were noticeably shocked. Following a long period of tears and consolation, Mrs. Sheldon refocused on preparing the Glean team for their final round of presentation.
CMHS Virtual Enterprise left Bakersfield with light spirits despite some disappointment. Odyssey CEO Michelle Luna reflected, “We should feel very happy or thankful that we even have this program at school… Win or lose in competition, you’re promoting yourself as a person and that’s very special… We were all molded and united by this experience.”
Written by Quan Nguyen
Photos by Quan Nguyen