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!

The Pleasanton Mighty Eagle Band getting prepared to perform.

The Donkey Lady

By: Kristina Mertz
Many tell of the old folk tale known as The Donkey Lady, in this tale she haunts Donkey Lady Bridge on Applewhite road in San Antonio. To you, the name of the bridge might seem laughable, however, the name has a sinister backstory that has a spine-chilling fateful end.

The tale is so ancient, that nobody knows the true story, however it has been around long enough to have many versions. Supposedly, the story starts with a family of farmers who lived just outside of San Antonio. The father of the family, murdered all of his children and set his house on fire. Instead of killing his wife he left her horribly disfigured. Because of the fire, her hands were melted down to stumps, which resembled donkey-like hooves. The skin on her face was so charred it looked almost elongated adding to the donkey like appearance. As the Donkey Lady grieves the loss of her children and seethes with the sting of betrayal from her husband, she haunts Elm Creek and those who try to cross.

The Donkey Lady Bridge on Applewhite Road. Credit: Bonnie Arbittier from the San Antonio Report

The Donkey Lady is a very popular tale all across the San Antonio area. Numerous people try to explore the area to see if they can catch even a glimpse of her infamous spirit. There are real life stories of experiences where people have had the feeling of being watched, but others say they saw something out there. Some hear the clapping of hooves when they visit, while other people claim to have seen a woman with a donkey-like face peering back through the car window. The best way to get her attention is by honking your car horn.

If you ever get the lucky or unlucky chance of visiting The Donkey Lady Bridge over Elm Creek in San Antonio, make sure to keep an eye out for her, she’s always watching.

Student Spotlight

By: Kristina Mertz

A person who is outgoing, full of confidence, and who does not allow mistakes to keep him from going forward,” is, according to Mr. Roberson, how some would describe Justin Veale. We students at PHS often gossip and talk about the negative things going on in our campus, instead of focusing on the positive things, or in this case people. 

If you have ever had the pleasure of going to a PHS football game this year, you would most certainly see an exuberant boy yelling on the sideline, telling everybody to keep up the good work. Walking in the hallways, you might often see Justin with a big smile on his face as he fist-bumps all of his friends. To others this might seem strange, however it just goes to show how much of a difference one individual can make. Mr. Roberson says, “Justin is the type of person that holds people accountable to expectations and at the same time does it with a positive and energetic personality….I have known Justin for a little over a year… even though I did not have any personal interactions with him until the beginning of this school year. He was a student that I first noticed on the football field last year… and even though he was injured, he was limping up and down the field, hyping people up, encouraging people to get better, and just being a great team member. So before we had any interaction, he had made a positive impression on me, because of how he handled himself around his peers.” He explains,“Justin exhibits the characteristics that I would hope to see in any young man. He might make some “not so smart” decisions at times, but for the most part, he is respectful and pushes people to be better.”

Justin Veale being a proud student at PHS with a thumbs up.

Justin Veale was born in Seguin, Texas and he moved to Pleasanton when he was in first grade. His favorite part about being a student at PHS is, “…everyone being together and talking and knowing everyone around town.” He is an active member in Student Council, the Pleasanton Track Team, and the Pleasanton Varsity Football Team. Justin says he likes to make people laugh, “cause it’s funny… I like seeing other people smile and I like being the center of attention and knowing that I can impact someone’s day.” Justin’s favorite teacher is Mr. Roberson, “he’s like really involved with the class and everything.” He says his hobbies include, “playing football and I’m not gonna lie, I still like playing with LEGOS.” When asked what he plans to do after graduating, he said, “honestly, I’ve got no clue. If I go to college then I’ll go to college, but if not then I’ll get a job.” If anyone at PHS needs advice, he recommends, “Keep your head up cause it can always get better.”

Kelly Mertz, a junior this year says, “I’ve grown up with Justin, and he is very good with welcoming new people. He’s very good at creating a comfortable environment and he’s a very kind guy.” She added, “I’ve known Justin since third grade, I can still recall walking into a scary daycare and not being able to know where to go… Justin was the first guy to come up to me… he was my first friend here in Pleasanton.” Kelly said the best thing about Justin is, “he just… he makes people feel special and he can always make somebody’s day better than it was.”

Justin is an influential and very significant person here at PHS, who will always be remembered for bringing the most positivity we could ever ask for.

Class of 2020’s Highest-Ranking Male

By: Kristina Mertz

Robert Rutherford is a popular name around the halls of PHS; he is known for his good character and his dedication. Robert is the highest-ranking male for the class of 2020. He got to be where he is today with a lot of motivation, commitment, and hard work.

Robert is going to college at Texas A&M University, where he will be studying Biochemistry. “I chose this path, because I feel like there is a lot of good to be done there. I want to work in research immunology or autoimmune diseases, and hopefully help develop cures or solutions for pressing health problems. Following this path will let me help others at large.”

Being such a devoted student, Robert has had a lot of motivation along with many influences. “My biggest motivation was probably my parents. They were constantly on me about my grades, so I adopted that mindset as well.” He says he has had many influences. “It’s really difficult to pick one teacher at PHS that has influenced me the most. I’d probably have to say Mrs. Bast, because of her expertise and her personality. Her class was one of my favorites, and she shares a lot of valuable life lessons with her students.”

Balancing AP classes and extracurricular activities may seem difficult, but for Robert it’s essential. “For the most part, I use my extracurricular activities as an extension of my education. I tend to use them to help further my schoolwork and they act as a stress reliever. Having extracurricular activities makes it easy to empty your head, which is very important to staying on the top of your game.”

Robert Rutherford is an extraordinary classmate, student, and friend that will be greatly missed in the halls of PHS. Congratulations on being the highest-ranking male!

Ten Books to Read When You’re Bored

By: Kristina Mertz

Are you bored and stuck at home? Of course you are! I have put a list of books together that could lessen the enormous amount of boredom you are facing at this very moment. Don’t worry, they’re not all the same genre, so go pick up a book and have some fun!

  1. The Perks of Being a Wallflower - Wikipedia*The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Steven Chbosky: This is an impactful novel that really grips its readers with its realistic and coming of age story. It centers around a teenager named Charlie during the early 1990s, he’s fifteen and in his freshman year of high school. Charlie is very introverted and prefers to watch from the sidelines, that is until he meets two of the craziest friends named Sam and Patrick. They teach him many lessons and help him gain a new sense of confidence that he will never forget.
  2. *The Infinite Moment of Us by Lauren Myracle: This romance novel is about a girl named Wren, who has always set out to please her parents, but she doesn’t want the same thing. Charlie is a boy who has loved Wren since the first day he saw her, but he knows Wren doesn’t feel the same way and never would. When their lives suddenly collide and their feelings get in the way, complications start to arise.
  3. The Cruel Prince (Folk of the Air Series #1) by Holly Black ...*The Cruel Prince by Holly Black: This is a great fantasy story that follows Jude, her twin sister Taryn, along with her older sister Vivienne. When Jude was just seven their parents were murdered right before her eyes, and the murderer stole the girls away to live in the magical land of Faerie. As a mortal in Faerie, Jude faces many struggles against her peers, but as betrayal and deception take place, Jude learns more about herself and her intentions than ever before.
  4. Taken by Erin Bowman: The Heist is what the townspeople call it in Grays town, every male on his eighteenth birthday mysteriously disappears, and never returns. Nobody knows where they go, and if they’re dead or not. Gray’s time is almost up, and he’s ready for his eighteenth birthday until he receives a strange note that makes him question everything about The Heist.
  5. Educated: A Memoir: Westover, Tara: 9780399590504: Amazon.com: BooksEducated by Tara Westover: This is a memoir, Tara Westover was 17 years old when she first stepped into a classroom. She was born in the mountains of Idaho, where her parents did not like modern medicine. If she were to get a gash, concussion, or burn, they were treated with herbs. One of her older brothers became abusive, and no one was there to stop it. Another brother left and went to college where he described a whole other world, which inspired Tara to teach herself for a better life. She went to several universities including Harvard and Cambridge, this incredible memoir demonstrates what an education really is. 
  6. 1922 by Stephen King: This novella is from Stephen King’s collection Full Dark, No Stars. This novella is a confession from Wilfred James for murdering his wife Arlette in Nebraska, in 1922. This was also adapted into a Netflix Original film.
  7. Amazon.com: The Cellar (8601406716179): Preston, Natasha: BooksThe Cellar by Natasha Preston: Summer is walking to a party by herself when suddenly she is thrown into a van and kidnapped. There she meets three other girls who were also kidnapped. The thrilling story is told through Summer’s perspective and also shows her family’s and boyfriend’s perspective at times, to show how they are trying to solve the mystery.
  8. All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr: This is a Historical Fiction book that includes Marie-Laure Leblanc, a blind French girl, along with Werner Pfennig, who is a German orphan. They come across each other in France as they try to survive the devastation of World War II.
  9. Amazon.com: Dear Evan Hansen: The Novel (9780316420235): Emmich ...Dear Evan Hansen The Novel by Val Emmich, Steven Levenson, Benj Pasek, and Justin Paul: Based on the Broadway play, this novel is centered around the idea of belonging and how to be found. Evan Hansen is a boy who struggles with depression and just wants to belong. Connor Murphy is a boy who has family issues, bipolar struggles and is severely depressed. When Connor commits suicide and Evan writes a letter about a boy he never knew, acting as his best friend, Connor’s family takes Evan in as their own. Evan finally isn’t invisible anymore and becomes a new kind of Evan with confidence, but when everything starts to unravel and secrets are shown, Evan has to face his enemy, himself.
  10. Amazon.com: The Problem with Forever (Harlequin Teen ...The Problem With Forever by Jennifer L. Armentrout: Mallory Dodge has had a troublesome past from being with an abusive foster family, but now she is happily adopted with a wonderful family. Being homeschooled for most of her life, Mallory finally decides to try public school and runs into her foster brother in the abusive house. As they reconnect and realize the scars they share together, Mallory has to decide if she needs to speak out.


*  Indicates that the book is in the PHS Library

Student Spotlight: Ashley Mahavior

By: Kristina Mertz

This month, the PHS Journalism class has chosen the confident, enthusiastic, motivated, kind, and determined Ashley Mahavior. She is an active member in JROTC, NHS, and Trinity Baptist Church. For many of the JROTC students, Ashley Mahavior, a junior, is a major role model and idol for the younger cadets. 

She has lived in Pleasanton since,“first grade but originally I was a Lady Bear of LaVernia.” She says, “I’m in JROTC. I am in a staff position, which means I control most of the battalion. I’m also on the color guard and armed drill team” Her hobbies include: “Volleyball, tennis, JROTC, hiking, running, writing, training dogs.” Ashley says when she gets out of college, “I want to enlist in either Marines or Air Force and go to college to get a 4-year degree for animal sciences at Tarleton State University then go active in the military. When I’m done with the military, I plan on becoming a veterinarian.” She says that she has many role models. One of them is, “My sister. [She] was in JROTC before I was in high school. She actually brought the color guard to Pleasanton. That is something huge. She ended high school as a captain, and I’m so determined to beat that rank, so I joined, but as I got more into it, I saw that it wasn’t just something you do for fun. It was a family away from your family. It was a sense of comfort to have so many people in the same room as me with the same interest, was comforting.” 

Ashley Mahavior is an amazing individual here at Pleasanton who is always kind and caring to the students around here. She will always be remembered in the JROTC community as an incredible student, friend, and leader.


True Crime Vol. XIII: Guilia Tofana

By: Kristina Mertz and Victoria Chavez

During the mid-1600s, women were suffering through the problem of abusive husbands. Bright young women trapped in a loveless marriage were left with only one way out, that being death. However, a woman named Tofana changed the lives of many women and cut short the lives of over 800 men. 

During the 17th century, Tofana owned a “cosmetics line” called Aqua Tofana that was laced with a self-made concoction of arsenic, lead, and belladonna (Deadly Nightshade). She helped hide the poison inconspicuously in the forms of powdered makeup or small bottles embellished with pictures of Saint Nicholas and Bari. This resulted in the idea that something so saintly could never have poison in it to kill people. The women who bought these products were mainly in bad marriages with abusive husbands or an abundance of forced marriages. Many women would spread the doses out to their husbands to avoid the suspicion of being poisoned. It was very easy to distribute the liquid poison into foods and drinks. 

Tofana had many apothecaries, entrepreneurs, and innovation skills. Due to her dappling in the apothecary, she was able to create a poison that couldn’t be found in the bloodstream. This helped the distribution of the mixture because the women who committed the crimes could remain guilt-free. When a medical professional would perform an autopsy on the dead husbands, there would be no remains of the poison. All the wives would have to do was act the part of a grieving widow, then she could live with the satisfaction of freedom. 

The first two doses of the poison left symptoms of nothing more than a basic cold or cough. However, by the third dose, the husband would experience vomiting, a burning stomach, and many other digestion problems, but by the fourth dose, the deadly deed was completed. She ended up selling this product for over 50 years, which contributed to her gain of income.

However, by the 1650s, one of Tofana’s customers had a change of heart and decided to cancel her plans to end her husband’s life, even though she already put the poison in a bowl of his soup. The husband then became increasingly suspicious over time and finally questioned her behavior. The wife confessed to everything she did, which resulted in the husband turning her in. The wife was interrogated and most likely tortured, to which she revealed who she bought the deadly poison. 

There are many different versions of the story as to what happened to Tofana: Some say she was retired to the country when she was warned, so she fled. Others believe she ran, but her employees including her daughter were killed. The most widely believed story details her running to a nearby church, where she was found and faced execution along with her daughter, and three employees. Numerous buyers were also punished. The lucky customers did a good job of convincing, swearing that they only bought the products for cosmetic purposes. The others that weren’t so lucky were either thrown into prison or executed. Some of her accomplices were entombed in the Palazzo Pucci Dungeons, while the unfortunate ones were sealed within the walls of the dungeon with no exits. These women later died from dehydration and starvation. A lot of the richer women were “quietly” executed by beheading, burning, crushing, boiling, and hanging. 

Guilia Tofana became known as one of the most successful serial offenders, not only in France but in global history. What she did may be perceived as unjust, but many individuals beg to differ and ask the same question: Did she really commit a crime?