Monthly Archives: November 2020
Together We Rise
By: Courtney Henson
On October 30, the Pleasanton Varsity football team traveled to Somerset to face the Bulldogs. The Eagles battled hard, but came just short of a win. Somerset came with power and were leading 20-0 after the first quarter. At halftime, the score sat at 20-14 with Somerset still in the lead. After an intense fight during the 3rd and 4th quarter, the game ended with a final score of 29-27, Pleasanton falling to Somerset. Leading offensively were JJ Morales and Diego Luna, with a touchdown a piece, as well as Sean Ramos with 2 rushing touchdowns and 2 passing touchdowns.
On November 6, the Pleasanton Varsity football team partook in their last district game of the season against the La Vernia Bears. After a long and hard fight through all 4 quarters, the Eagles fell to La Vernia with a finishing score of 42-0. Some outstanding players from this game include Carlos Garcia with 17 tackles, Tommy Lee Ramirez, Cole Wiechring, and Toby Garner.
Despite the outcome of the La Vernia game, the varsity Eagles football team will be advancing into the playoffs for the first time since 2017!
On Friday, November 13, the Pleasanton Eagles faced the Austin LBJ Jaguars in the bi-district playoff game of the 2020 playoffs. After a tough fight through all 4 quarters, the Eagles fell 61-0. Sadly, this concluded the Eagles tough season and ended the seniors high school football career.
While this has been a crazy season with both its ups and its downs, the head coach, Coach Liska, is very proud of his boys performance this year. “I am most proud of the boys who played football this year and stayed with us the entire season. Also, for making the playoffs after a 0-4 start to the season.”
While this season hasn’t 100% gone as hoped, Liska believes the team has improved a significant amount this year and will only continue improving in the future. “Sticking together,” Coach says, “At times during the year we had a choice to fold up the tent or to try and make the playoffs. WE trusted each other and stuck together to gain a playoff spot.” With all of this in mind, when asked about his thoughts and outlooks on this season, Liska stated, “In the months of April through July the uncertainty of us even having a football season due to Covid-19 pandemic was mentally, emotionally, and physically draining. The message was to stay positive and be flexible! The Covid-19 protocols were changing daily and we had to be able to adjust and adapt. We were blessed to be able to start practice in August and play all 10 games.”
As the football season comes to an end, Coach Liska leaves the team with these words, “In life you will face adversity and things don’t always go as planned… but you have to pull up your britches, wipe your nose and do the best you can. Congratulations you survived a pandemic. MASK UP!” We will continue to be proud of the boys performance and their strength concluding this year. Amazing job this season and we can’t wait to see you return next year. Pride! Pride!
By: Heaven Marquez
The Pleasanton Eagles’ volleyball team fell to the Wimberley Texans on Thursday, October 28 for a chance to win Bi-District champs. The Texans, who were first in their district, came down to the Eagle complex, taking a victory over the Eagles in 3 sets.
“We’re still young,” said head volleyball coach, Gabriel Aguirre. “The young kids are still learning… how to win.”
The Eagles began rough, with a 25-14 loss in the first set, but began to get into their groove in the second, ending with a loss of 25-20. The Eagles fought hard to win their third set, however, they fell short due to the strong kills and tricky blocks from the Texans, losing 25-22.
“… we fought back and then they just kinda took it for granted,” stated Coach Aguirre. The Eagles played their hearts out on the court, but it just wasn’t enough to overpower the Wimberley Texans.
Sadly, the volleyball season has come to an end. However, we are all very proud of the girls who worked so hard to finish their season strong. Way to go Lady Eagles!
One Last Match
By: Hayden Schmidt
The Eagles’ varsity tennis team has officially ended their fall seasons after competing in the bi-district tournament at Boerne on October 27.
This season, the Eagles had to push hard to get their wins. “Since we’ve been out in a new district, we played some tougher competition. But overall, I’m proud of how well our team did this season,” said senior Blake Moos.
Despite their struggles, the team kept pushing through the season and participated in the Bi-District tournament at Boerne on October 27. The Eagles had to play their hardest to attempt to beat their opponents. Sadly, they fell short of moving on to the area tournament.
When asked about his opinion on the results, Coach Schwab was very proud. “I think we were up against an incredible first place team in Boerne, and the results were as expected. We knew going in what the results were probably going to be, and we just got a chance to play some more tennis and learn and gain some more experience against a quality team, and that’s what we got.”
Now that the fall season is over, players and coaches have had a chance to look back on their performance and look forward to the future. Looking back on the season and the performance of the players, Coach Schwab said, “I think based on the district we were in and the age of our team, I think we did an excellent job. We finished fourth in district, and we got the chance to play post-district play. The players played a great season and I am pleased with how they finished.” Interview answers from players.” Despite the rough season, Coach Schwab is ready to get back in the game with the Spring season. “Right now we’re doing relaxed practices just to keep in tune, and then when we come back in the Spring we’ll do our 8 Spring tournaments in preparation for the District tournament, and we’ll see where the chips lie.”
Congratulations to the players and coaches on a hard fought season these past few months. Here’s to next season!
By: Ariana Johnson
On Monday, October 26, Varsity boys and girls, along with JV girls went to Segiun for the Cross Country District Meet, where Varsity Girls placed 1st for the second year in a row. Caitlyn Nieschwitz placed 2nd, Kassidy Vickers placed 3rd, Kara Hinojosa placed 7th, Kennedy Guajardo placed 11th, Mary Martinez placed 14th, Fe Vielma placed 15th, and Lindsey Klein placed 19th. JV Girls placed 1st with Jillian Barcomb placed 2nd, Raylin Castillo placed 3rd, Sofia Aguilar placed 5th, Itzel Perez placed 7th, Savannah Clark placed 9th, and Adriana Clark placed 11th. Varsity Boys were short-handed this District Meet with Wanish Tortes-McGinnis placing 10th, Xavier Rodriguez placing 15th, Jayden Ogg placing 24th, and Zander Zamora placing 25th. Varsity Girls and Wanish Tortes-McGinnis qualified for the Regional Cross Country Meet in Corpus Christi on November 10th.
On Tuesday, November 10, Varsity Girls and Wanish Tortes-McGinnis went to Corpus Christi for the Cross Country Regional Meet, where Varsity Girls placed 5th with Kassidy Vickers placing 7th, Caitlyn Nieschwitz placing 13th, Mary Martinez placing 40th, Lindsey Klein placing 42nd, Fe Vielma placing 47th, Kara Hinojosa placing 51st, and Kennedy Guajardo placing 64th. Wanish Tortes-McGinnis placed 59th out of 130 people. Kassidy Vickers will compete at the State Cross Country Meet in Round Rock on November 24th. Great job Cross Country Girls and Boys. Pride! Pride!
By: Jaelyn Morales
The Pleasanton girls’ and boys’ basketball teams started their season off with scrimmages to get ready for their upcoming games. The Lady Eagles had their first scrimmage of the season on Saturday, October 31, against Alamo Heights. The following Tuesday, November 3, they played the Dilley Wolves. Their first game was supposed to be on Tuesday, November 10, against Crystal City, but was sadly cancelled. Their official first game was on Friday, November 13, against Bandera. They lost with a score of 39-37, but it was a very close game. When asked what her biggest goal for this season is, sophomore Sadie Mcada responded, “My biggest goal is getting our team to have a positive outlook on this season even through the obstacles, work harder than ever.” The Lady Eagles are starting the season off strong and positive and, most of all, they are aiming high this year.
The Eagles had their first scrimmage on Saturday, November 7, against Southwest/Highlands. Then they played the following Tuesday, November 10, against the Lytle Pirates. Their first game of the season was Tuesday, November 17, against Brooks Academy. The Eagles are off to a good start, but will need to keep working hard to have another incredible season like last year. To put into perspective the Eagles had booked their first trip to the regional tournament since 1991. They did this by beating Port Isabel in the regional quarterfinals and faced Stafford in the class 4A Regional Semifinals, but sadly lost. Even though this year has been a challenge, that won’t stop either team from giving it all they got on and off the court.
By: Adriana Clark
Caitlyn Nieschiwtz is a senior here at PHS. She is a genuinely nice person who can make anyone smile just by talking to them; she’s just someone you can never get tired of being around. Caitlyn Nieschiwtz is 17 years old and when asked where she plans to go for college and what she plans to major in she said “I plan to go to Texas A&M and major in Ag Business.” Caitlyn has been a runner on our cross country and track team since her freshman year and has even been on the varsity team all four years. This is where she has not only gone to Regionals, but State, too. For this year’s cross country season Caitlyn had another opportunity to go to Regionals where she placed 12th. When Caitlyn was asked what she hopes for this year’s track season, she said “My goal for this year’s track season is that I will be able to break the school record in the 800 and mile, and make it to State.” Caitlyn also hopes to run track while attending Texas A&M.
Teacher Spotlight: Ms. Arnold
By: Gabby Palacios
Mrs. Arnold is an alumna teaching Art I and Graphic Design here at her alma mater, PHS. Though things have changed tremendously since she graduated with the class of 1995, she still admires PHS, its traditions, and what we stand for as a community.
The Art and Graphic Design teacher attended the University of Texas at Austin, fulfilling her desire to attend the same college as her aunt, who she deeply admired. She explained, “One of the main people that influenced me growing up was my aunt… so I just knew that’s where I wanted to go.”
It was at UT that she studied to become an Art teacher. “All throughout school I really liked art and creating, that’s just what I enjoyed, [and] what I was successful at …” she explained. Mrs. Arnold wishes to have as lasting of an impression on her students as her teachers once did on her. She continued, “ I just knew that I wanted to [make it fun and interesting] for other students who maybe didn’t really know what they were into but could come to art and create things and enjoy it… Even if they’re not going to be an artist, it still helps them in other areas of their life and gives them an outlet.”
Mrs. Arnold began teaching at Stinson Middle School in San Antonio in 2000 and would go on to spend the next 8 years teaching there, until she decided to move to Poteet Middle School in 2008, spending 4 years in the neighboring town. After a job opening became available at PHS, Mrs. Arnold moved back to the old classrooms she once sat in as a student and found her place as the outgoing Art and Graphic Design (Yearbook) teacher we all know and love her to be.
Though she wasn’t able to get her career started here at our campus, she had always known she eventually wanted to be a PHS Art teacher. She explains, “[I didn’t start working here initially] because there were no job openings… It was my ultimate goal but there were no art positions available…” Still, Mrs. Arnold appreciated her time at Stinson because it gave her a sense of home and reminded her of PHS, which she deeply enjoyed. “I always felt like Stinson reminded me of here which is why I was glad that was my first job… It just felt the same like where you have teachers that work really well together, everybody liked going to work, and we all liked working together…” she added.
Her experiences at PISD have shaped her into the proud eagle alumna she is today. Reminiscing on Mrs. Kotzur, a former art teacher of PJH and PHS who retired last school year, Mrs. Arnold expressed her gratitude for the encouragement and good memories her teachers gave her, explaining, “I always enjoyed art but… I think it also had a lot to do with the teachers… they just always made it fun and interesting. I wanted to do the same.”
Though many may not have gotten the opportunity to know her as a person, Ms. Arnold has proven to be one of the most genuine, light-hearted, and spirited people to ever walk the halls of PHS. On behalf of the rest of PHS, thank you, Mrs. Arnold, for being a constant supporter of our school and always being positive. In the words of Mrs. Arnold herself, “Eagles all the way. Go big green!”
PRIDE PRIDE! EAGLE PRIDE!
By: Eileen Jaksik
Mrs. Shearrer, a name you may or may not know, is the CTE/CCMR coordinator here at PHS. She has worked a total of 14 years for PISD, and she plans to work even more. Mrs. Shearrer has not only been a CTE/CCMR coordinator at PHS, but also, as she states, “I taught Agricultural Science from 2002-2005 and Principles of Information Technology for the 18-19 school year.” She has worked all around campus, “I taught Agricultural Science for 15 years at 3 different high schools including Pleasanton High School. I taught 8th Grade Science at Pleasanton Junior High as well as serving as an Assistant Principal for Pleasanton Junior High. I also served 2 years as PISD District Testing Coordinator and then took some time off from working for the School District before coming back 2 years ago to teach Principles of Information Technology at PHS.”
When asked about her education, Mrs. Shearrer shared, “Typically a CTE/CCMR Coordinator will be a CTE teacher who has managerial abilities in addition to the years of CTE classroom experience. The minimum would be 4-5 years for a Bachelor’s Degree. Most will need 2 more years for a Master’s degree and 5-10 years of CTE classroom teacher experience.” She also said that she attended Texas A&M College Station and Texas A&M Kingsville to get her Bachelor’s degree, Master’s degree, and a Teacher Certification for any class in the CTE field.
Mrs. Shearrer’s job is a very big responsibility. She explains, “As a CTE/CCMR Coordinator I provide support to all of our CTE teachers and students. That support includes researching and providing curriculum, managing the budgets for the CTE programs, and completing all of the required paperwork from Federal and State Agencies. I serve as a resource for whatever the CTE programs need to help students be successful. As CCMR Coordinator, I manage all of the components, provide resources, and track progress of students becoming either college ready, earning and industry based certification, or deciding to enlist in the military.”
Thank you Mrs. Shearrer for everything you do for our amazing campus!
Time To Face The Music
By: Kristina Mertz
Last Saturday, the Pleasanton Mighty Eagle Band traveled to Judson ISD, located in San Antonio, where they competed in their UIL contest. There, they played and performed their 2020 show “Music of The Beatles”. After a tough performance, they received a Division 1 rating, which is the highest rating to receive, from all the judges, meaning they will be advancing to Area, which they haven’t achieved since 2016. Drum Major Shyanne Tijerina says, “I think they worked really hard this whole season and I think they did good, but I think they could’ve done way better with what they learned and had.” Her favorite part of going to UIL was, “Probably just hanging out with my friends, making them laugh and them making me laugh.” She said that [the band] need to improve on, “Marching… horn angles, and making sure everyone is in step and things like that. Shyanne added, “I love the band and I’m happy to be their drum major.”
This year’s Area competition will be held at Calallen, Corpus Christi on December 5th. The band will be working extremely hard to do their very best. Wish them luck!
Grand Prairie Shootout
By: River Reyes
On Saturday, October 31st and Saturday, November 7th, the Pleasanton High school JROTC Eagle Battalion participated in the “Grand Prairie Shootout” virtual drill meet. Participating were the Pink Eagles female color guard, Co Ed male and female color guard, and the Armed drill team.
Both the female and male color guards showed up to the PAC parking lot on October 31st to perform for the color guard phase of the drill meet. Both color guards had a strong performance, representing the Eagle Battalion well.
On Saturday, November 7th, the armed drill team gathered at the PAC parking lot to perform for the drill phase of the virtual drill meet. The armed drill team had a strong performance, maintaining excellent discipline and formation, with few hiccups to count. When asked about their performance, the armed drill team commander Cadet Captain Jared Griego stated, “I feel confident in our performance, all of our cadets performed to the best of their abilities.” As for some of the newer cadets, Cadet Cearley stated, “I feel like we had a good performance, it was exciting competing for drill for the first time.”
With astounding performances, our color guards and drill team kicked off the year strong with a whole season to look forward to, honing their skills for the climax of the season with 5th brigade.
Education Foundation Follow-Up
By: Adelena Vera
The Pleasanton Education Foundation hosted a fundraiser last month. The Education Foundation supports students through scholarship opportunities, encourages and supports the future of education, providing funds to improve innovative practices around the school district.
During this fundraiser, about 150 students participated and helped raise about $600. On the Saturday of the fundraiser, the community also helped out and donated $1510, making a total of $2120, just sort of meeting the goal of $3,000.
Thank you to everyone who donated to the fundraiser and helped raise the money! And a very special thank you to the Education Foundation for all you do to support our staff and students.
By: Dillon Myers
Held from November 2nd to 6th, the College Fair was a virtual opportunity where students could visit around 300 colleges and universities.
Through the College Fair, colleges were able to submit videos, slideshows, and more explaining about various topics ranging from admissions, campus life to sports and more.
English and Journalism teacher Ms. Schmidt, said, “It is a good idea to attend a college fair in order to collect information such as areas of study, tuition and cost of living, and campus life about potential colleges one might attend in order to narrow down choices when deciding between where to attend.”
The online College Fair was free and attendees needed only to register and sign up. It was easy to access, easy to sign up, and most of all, it was easy to navigate. Once registered, students will have access to information about each and every college on the College Fair. This lasts all the way through December.
November Students of the Month
9th grade – Kassidy Vickers
10th grade – Toby Bird
11th grade – Simon Karsky
12th grade – Lyssa Lee Ramirez
By: Wanish Tortes-Mcginnis
People still to this day are confused about the difference between Memorial Day and Veterans Day. Memorial Day is a day of remembrance of people who fought and have fallen in wars; we honor and mourn for their courageous acts and bravery for this country. Wars that can be tied to Memorial Day are World War 1, World War 2, Vietnam, Korea, and the Afghanistan and Iraqi Wars.
Veterans Day was not always called Veterans Day. On November 11, 1919, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the day as Armistice Day, in honor of the anniversary of the surrender of Germany the year before. On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, the Germans came to an armistice with the Allied Powers, thus effectively ending the war. In 1954 the holiday changed from Armistice Day to Veterans Day because America had already been in two wars, World War 2 and Korea. Instead of just honoring veterans of World War 1, the U.S Congress decided to honor veterans of all wars.
Here at Pleasanton High School, there are at least three veterans who have served and are now teaching in the classroom. First, Chief Danny Pitts, who teaches law, served in the United States Army for 21 years and retired as a Sergeant First Class. Mr. Steve Wusterbarth served in the United States Army Reserves as a PFC Specialist for two years. COL(Ret) Chris Wynder Chris Wynder served 27 years in the United States Army and retired as a Colonel. Finally, COL(Ret) Elvin J. Nuells served in the Army for 30 years as a Command Sergeant Major. Thank you to you all and any others that were missed for your service and the things you sacrificed so that we could be free.
In closing, it is hoped that by knowing a little more about Veteran’s Day, perhaps we can all act a little kinder, and smile and thank a Veteran when you see them in a store, at a game, or just enjoying the sunshine.
By: Libby Sanchez
Thanksgiving is a time when families travel long distances to be with their loved ones and celebrate together. It’s a day full of good times and usually ends with a turkey dinner and whatever sporting event is being broadcasted. Unfortunately, under the strict circumstances of Covid-19, this year traveling increases the risk of getting infected and spreading the virus to your loved ones. Although it may be hard to just stay home this year with immediate family, it may be the best idea.
Staying home shouldn’t prevent you from having a great time with your family and doing yearly traditions. Try preparing annual recipes for family and neighbors, especially those at higher risk of catching Covid-19, and delivering them in a way that doesn’t involve direct contact with others. Maybe consider having a virtual dinner and sharing your recipes and visiting with the rest of your family that way.
Although, it’s understandable to still attend a large family dinner and celebrate like you do every year. If this is the route you plan on taking, make sure you and your family take the proper precautions. Bring along hand sanitizer and apply before and after touching someone, that way you and the person you’ve touched are less likely to be spreading germs. It’s also highly suggested to still be wearing a mask when not 6-feet apart, especially if you have family who travels from far places. This helps prevent your germs from spreading onto loved ones. Another great idea is to wipe down places you’ve sat at, that way germs are less likely to be passed onto clothes.
Even though holidays aren’t the same this year because of the virus, it’s still important that everyone has a great time. That being said, we also need to make sure that we’re doing that in the safest way possible. Have a safe break!
Love and Monsters: A Post-Apocalyptic (Almost) Romance
By: Kori Miller
With a year as chaotic as this one has been, it’s not exactly easy to find a feel-good film that’ll take you somewhere new. Between the seasonal horrors, aimless cartoons, and senseless action films, where’s the originality? Fortunately, director Michael Matthews decided to break the trends and give us a well-deserved post-apocalyptic quest film. With Dylan O’Brien and Michael Rooker, Love and Monsters might be what you’re looking for.
Love and Monsters follows a burned-out colony dweller, Joel, seven years after the monsterpocalypse took over the world and forced humanity underground. His life has been less than exciting since he gave up everything he once loved for safety. That is until he contacts his highschool sweetheart’s colony over the radio and falls for her all over again. Desperate to rekindle the flame he lost in his teen years, Joel ventures on to the surface with a sole mission: find Aimee.
Films like these have a very important responsibility; they have to build a convincing universe for our characters to explore. The monsters in this movie are spectacular, each extremely unique and with their own strengths and weaknesses. They blend seamlessly into the world around them. The characters, albeit a bit campy, all have unique motivations and personalities. O’Brien doesn’t hit every time, but his emotional scenes have you hurting for the character in ways you wouldn’t expect.
Other than being good fun for two hours, there’s not a whole lot of comprehensive substance to Love and Monsters. We’re led to believe it’s a romantic quest, but it ends up being less than that. It’s bittersweet with minimal payoff. The universe and its diverse creatures end up being more interesting than the plot itself, reminiscent of similar films like Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them from 2016. It’s a perfect example of filmmakers who put their hearts in the wrong places, making the movie in itself an identity crisis on the big screen.
If you want a quick getaway from the painstakingly boring reality we live in, Love and Monsters is the perfect way to elicit a smile. It’s cute, heartfelt, and genuine when it needs to be. However, if you want something challenging, I’d politely redirect you to another film.
Love and Monsters currently holds a rating of 90% on Rotten Tomatoes and a 7/10 on IMDB.
History and Origins of Thanksgiving
By: Kiarra Sanchez
Many people know the origins of Thanksgiving. However, it has been slightly forgotten due to the media industry putting their own twist on it. Here is the true history of this well known holiday:
The American concept of Thanksgiving was developed in the colonies of New England. Its roots can be traced back to the other side of the Atlantic as well. Both the pilgrims who came over on the Mayflower and the Puritans who arrived soon after brought with them a tradition of providential holidays—days of fasting during difficult or pivotal moments and days of feasting and celebration to thank God in times of plenty.
In September 1620, a small ship called the Mayflower left Plymouth, England, carrying 102 passengers—a group of religious separatists seeking a new home where they could practice their faith and others drawn in by the promise of prosperity and land in the New World. After an awful and uncomfortable crossing that lasted 66 days, they dropped anchor near the tip of Cape Cod, far north of their intended destination at the mouth of the Hudson River. One month later, the Mayflower crossed Massachusetts Bay, where the Pilgrims began their work of establishing a village at Plymouth. Through the first brutal winter, most pilgrims stayed on the ship, where they suffered from exposure from the elements and contagious diseases.
In March, the remaining settlers moved to land, where they met an Abenaki Native American who greeted them in English. He came with another native american, Squanto, who was sold into slavery. He taught the pilgrims how to catch fish, cultivate corn, extract tree sap, and eventually helped forge an alliance with the local tribe Wampanoag.
In November of 1621, the Pilgrims’ first corn harvest proved successful. Governor William Bradford called for a celebratory feast and invited a group of the fledgling colony’s Native American allies, including the Wampanoag chief Massasoit. Now remembered as America’s “first Thanksgiving”.
2020 Presidential Election
By: Kori Miller
If 2020 wasn’t hectic enough, it’s election year in the United States. Donald Trump, the 45th President of the United States, ran for his second term this year as the Republican candidate. He ran against former Vice President and Senator Joe Biden, who ran as the Democratic candidate. Biden’s name is not one that is unfamiliar in politics; he has served a total of 44 years in our government. Trump, on the other hand, served his first four years in politics as the leader of our country after a career in business and as a television personality. The two have faced off against one another in debates and interviews, but what it really comes down to is the votes.
As of November 17th, Joe Biden has taken the popular vote with 79,046,356 votes, Donald Trump following with 73,320,694. The electoral college currently sits at 290 votes for Biden as opposed to 232 for President Trump. As of today, Georgia has yet to submit its official ballot counts.
Suspicion of voter fraud due to the increased use of mail-in ballots has called for multiple recounts and lawsuits. While Georgia has currently issued a recount to ensure accuracy, Trump’s team has filed lawsuits against Michigan and Pennsylvania to stop certifying their election results until later this month to give more time for the campaign to handle its legal challenges prior to the federal deadline of December 8th. Because of this, we may not have confirmed or accurate results until much later into the month.
As it currently stands, Joe Biden is projected to be the US president-elect, and he and Kamala Harris are set to take office on January 20, 2021. Biden has expressed big plans for his term, including a stimulus proposal, a reversal of Trump’s immigration policies, lowering the Medicare eligibility age, a full-fledged COVID-19 team & plan, rejoining the Paris agreement, and many more.
True Crime Vol. XVI: The Byron David Smith Killings
By: Victoria Chavez
On October 3, 1789, George Washington issued his Thanksgiving proclamation, designating for “the People of the United States a day of public thanks-giving” to be held on “Thursday the 26th day of November,” Since then, Americans have celebrated every Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday in November. Most citizens spend the day eating and enjoying the company of their loved ones, but for the families of two Little Fall teens, their day was spent in disbelief and sadness.
The Byron David Smith killings occurred on Thanksgiving Day of 2012, when Haile Kifer, 18, and Nick Brady, 17, broke into the home of Bryon Smith, 64, in Little Falls, Minnesota. Smith was retired from the U.S. State Department, was never married, and had always lived alone. Prior to the murders of the teens, Smith’s home had been burglarized at least half a dozen times over the last few months. He had only reported one previous burglary to the police, and investigators only found evidence of two previous burglaries. These burglaries sparked anxiety in Smith and led him to begin wearing a holster with a loaded gun in his home, as well as stashing water bottles and granola bars in the basement.
On November 22, 2012, Smith drove his vehicle down the road, parking it in front of a neighbor’s home. Later that day, Kifer and Brady broke into Smith’s home. Video surveillance captured the teens looking around the property prior to the break-in. From Smith’s own account he told police when he saw Kifer, who he suspected was responsible for the burglaries, driving towards his home, Smith turned on a recording device he owned. When he returned to his home, Smith removed the lightbulbs from the ceiling lights and positioned himself in a chair that was obscured from view. He then waited 12 minutes until he heard Nick Brady break into his basement. Smith shot Brady twice on the stairs, and once in the head after he fell to the bottom of the stairs. Smith then made taunting remarks to Brady’s body, wrapped it in a tarp and dragged him into another room.
Smith then went upstairs, and 10–15 minutes later, he ran back down into the basement, reloaded his weapon and took up his previous position in the obscured chair. Minutes later, Kifer entered the home and could be heard calling her cousin’s name. As she made her way down the stairs, Smith shot her. She fell down the stairs and Smith can be heard on the recording saying “Oh, sorry about that” after his gun jams, followed by Kifer saying “Oh, my God” very quickly; Smith shoots her again, multiple times in the torso, in the midst of which she screams “Oh, my god!” He repeatedly called her derogatory names and then dragged her into the other room, tossing her body on top of her cousin’s, and shot her one final time under the chin, killing her. Audio and video of the events were recorded by Smith’s security system. The deaths were not immediately reported to police. Smith waited until the next day to notify police of the shootings, claiming he “didn’t want to bother the police on Thanksgiving.”
This case sparked the debate about the Castle Doctrine. Legal analysts have stated that the initial shootings most likely would have been justified under Minnesota’s laws, but that the extra shots were not justified once any threat had been removed. A number of aspects of the case were noted by police as being inconsistent with self-defense. Smith had moved his truck earlier in the day, claiming he had done so in order to clean his garage. Prosecutors argued at his trial that it was an attempt to make the house look abandoned in order to lure the burglars into his home. In addition to his home surveillance system, Smith also recorded at least 6 hours of audio on a digital recorder in the basement of the residence. Prior to the break-in, he is heard saying “In your left eye.” and “I realize I don’t have an appointment but I would like to see one of the lawyers here.” These comments raised suspicion due to the fact that Kifer was shot in the left eye and he later did request a lawyer. On April 29, 2014, Smith was found guilty on two counts of first-degree murder with premeditation and on two counts of second-degree murder after three hours of jury deliberations.
Many still defend Byron Smith and believe it was his right to shoot the trespassers. Others think justice was served to a cold hearted man that did not see past his evil. One thing is for sure though, two young souls were lost that day, and with them went the love and joy of those who got the chance to know them.
Poll of the Month – November
Is The Nightmare Before Christmas a Christmas or Halloween movie?
By: Dillon Myers
Ever since its release in 1993, people have been debating whether Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas is a jolly Halloween movie or a spooky Christmas movie. Here at PHS, we got curious as to what you feel on the matter and decided to ask. At first, Halloween weighed heavier than Christmas, but as time went by it began to even out. The results are shown below:
We would also love to thank all the Veterans for their great service to our country!
By: Eileen Jaksik
It’s that time of the year again, time to get out your recipes and bake some goodies. There are lots of sweet treats you can make for your Thanksgiving dinner. I decided to share these yummy Oreo cookies that look like turkeys with you. Here are the ingredients so you can go ahead and get started…
- Package of original Oreo cookies
- Package of Whoppers chocolate malt balls
- Package of Mini Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups
- Package of Candy Corn.
- Mini eye candies
- Royal Icing in colors, tan, white, yellow, orange, and red
Use picture for reference
- For the tail of the turkey, separate the Oreo in two pieces in order to make the tail feathers (candy corn) stay up in the cookie filling.
- Use the white Royal Icing as “glue” and put a thick line on the bottom of the separated Oreo cookie.
- Begin to put the Candy Corn in the top of the separated oreo with the white piece of the Candy Corn in the oreo filling.
- Lay the top half of the Oreo cookie with the Candy Corn on top of the second Oreo.
- cookie, use more white icing as “glue” if needed. Let dry.
- Take out the Mini Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, cut about ¼ of the peanut butter cup to make it lay flat on the oreo.
- Use the tan icing as “glue” to stick the Reese Peanut Butter Cup to the oreo Let dry.
- Check the Oreo cookie with the Candy Corn and make sure it is dry, if dry then use the tan icing as “glue to stick the whopper to the back oreo.
- Add the mini candy eyes to the head (the whooper) of the turkey, then using the orange icing add a small nose. let the nose dry for about 30 seconds. When the nose is dry add the red waddle with the red icing. Allow time for this to dry also about 30 seconds.
- Add two Candy Corn facing down as arms, use icing as “glue”. Let dry.
- Use yellow icing to draw out the feet on the turkey on the base oreo.
- Let it dry for 1 hour.
Poem of the Month
“When Autumn leaves
And Thanksgiving time
It warms the heart
To think all of those
Who mean so much
Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Hope y’all are going to have fun and relax with the Thanksgiving Break coming up. I hope y’all are being safe when y’all see your grandparents or any other family members for Thanksgiving. I chose this poem because I want you guys to remember that Thanksgiving is about being with the ones you love.
The Passionate Poet
By: Ricky Fabrow
Aries: You shall either travel excessively or have some business with people who are farther away from your home. You might soon enter a period of financial and professional growth. It would also be a very good time to reassess your investments. Any Home Renovation or construction related projects will be high on your agenda.
Taurus: This December promises a lot of success and joy. Whatever job you do your income and efficiency will show great improvement and with romance in the air your beloved will seek commitment. Avoid agreeing so you can be a standing guaranteed for others, it would lead to embarrassment and legal problems. Matters relating to property will take shape during the month´s end and would prove to be positive.
Gemini: A mysterious force of energy will help you in your need for many important projects without the assistance of anyone. You shall make more money than usual but also expected. There will be very distant travel overseas which will bring joy and happiness with a chance to reunite with an old relative or friend. Be careful with your partners or best friends.
Cancer: This December there will be very little time for socializing however you will enjoy the time you do spend with your family. You will have attracted many people with your creative ideas and will be known this month.
Leo: It is very likely that your income shall increase greatly this month from many things. The people you meet will inspire you to work harder and better. The health of near relatives and friends might cause some worry but will ultimately be nothing.
Virgo: You will take more actions for yourself rather than others and work far harder than before. You might have to travel a distance to find the true cause of your actions and purpose. Students this year will be very successful in their work.
Libra: You’ll be needing lots of comfort this month as you’ll go through an unfortunate series of events that will leave you feeling tired and sad, but a good friend by your side will always help the situation.
Scorpio: If you work somewhere, that place shall change during your time there not knowing if it will be good or bad until it is done, but in the end it will be much better for you. It would be very wise to save up for the month because something unexpected will happen that’ll cost you greatly.
Sagittarius: This December there shall be new opportunities from very unexpected moments. You will find success in many things as well as fairness in most things you will do. It is best to not look at any side of a situation but consider others viewpoints before deciding.
Capricorn: People will look at you for inspiration and make certain decisions. Your partners and colleagues will respect you greatly for carrying certain problems on your back for the team. There will be a jealous friend around so watch out.
Aquarius: There might be some accidental communication problems with friends. Be sure to always double check your work as you will have more wrong than you think. You will get great support from friends and family for any situation.
Pisces: You will enjoy meeting new people and visiting many places. You will be looked up upon the young so be careful with what you do and always try to be inspirational. You will get lots and lots of love.