Teacher Spotlight: Ms. Gomez

By: Kristina Mertz, Farah Standley, and Aaliyah Herrera

Ms. Gomez, greeting students as they walk by.

Ms. Gomez is a vital part of Pleasanton High School, as she can always be seen smiling and representing a positive role model for her students. PHS the Quill has decided to make her our first Teacher Spotlight of the 2021-2022 school year.

When asked about her education, Ms. Gomez replied, “… I did graduate from Pleasanton High School… I graduated [in] 2009, right after I graduated I went to UTSA, University of Texas in San Antonio… got my four year undergraduate degree from [UTSA] in Art and Art History… as of right now i’m currently working on my Masters Degree also at UTSA… its been the same, its an education curriculum.” She later added, “This is my start of my 9th year of teaching… so it [has] been a long time, it doesn’t feel that way actually though, because I look back at it and I’m like, ‘oh my god it’s gone by so fast!’… Initially, I started teaching right after… [I] graduated in May. I started teaching in August and it was just something that I wanted to do. I wanted to share my passion for art with my students..” Although she currently teaches at Pleasanton, she hasn’t always taught here. “The school I taught at… previously was … Lytle High School, that was the first school that I taught at.”

As an alumni from PHS, Ms. Gomez says, “… I was in volleyball, I was in track, I was actually obviously in art… I was in theater club… and that’s pretty much it, but I had a lot of fun. All of the clubs I was in were very entertaining and I had a lot of friends that were also involved…”

Ms. Gomez was also happy to share about how she feels about being an art teacher,

“…I love teaching and being passionate about what I love and, so I think sharing that passion with students is super important… It’s always nice to have that connection with students that know how I feel about art, and so it’s… between that and getting students to appreciate it.” She then contributed, “I also love building relationships, getting students to see what they can do after high school.” But it seems all teachers need a vacation, Ms. Gomez shared with us that, “…I don’t travel as much as I used to… When I have time off, I’ll try to go either to the beach, or I’ll go out hiking somewhere, but normally, I stay somewhere in Texas… Favorite place I’ll probably have to say is, Hawaii… That was a pretty fun place to go… I’d go back in a heartbeat..”

      Fun fact: Ms. Gomez’s favorite color in primary terms is blue, she said “I like different shades of blue. So I like turquoise, I like minty blues, I like aqua blues, and so I say blue but then in general that’s what I mean when I say blue…”

Thank you Ms. Gomez, for your wonderful communication skills  and your willingness to touch students’ hearts! 

True Crime XXII: The Plainfield Ghoul

By: Courtney Henson and Autumn Webster

Ed Gein was born on August 27, 1906 in La Crosse County, Wisconsin. His mother, Augusta Wilhelmine Gein and his father George Philip Gein soon picked up Ed and his older brother Henry George Gein, and moved to an isolated 155 acre farm in Plainfield, Wisconsin. During their time at the farm, Ed and Henry rarely left the house. Augusta was very religious and preached the impurity of the outside world. This led to the boys only leaving to go to school, still at school their mother made sure they never made friends. 

After roughly 30 years at the farm, Ed Gein’s father George died of heart failure caused by his alcoholism, at age 66 on April 1, 1940. After this, Ed and Henry began to take on odd jobs to take care of living expenses on the farm. After their fathers death, Henry worried about his brother’s attachment to their mother and often spoke ill of her around Ed, who responded with shock and hurt. On May 16, 1944, Henry and Ed were burning a pile of brush when the fire got out of hand. When things cleared up, Ed reported his brother missing. After a while, Henry was found lying face down, dead. The official cause of death was asphyxiation, no burns, but many bruises were found on Henry’s head. The police did not look into this. 

This death left Ed and his mother alone, shortly after Henry’s death his mother had a paralyzing stroke. Ed devoted all of this time to taking care of his mother. About a year later, after an incident with a woman neighbor, Augusta had another stroke. She died on December 29, 1945, at the age of 67. This devastated Ed. Over time, Ed’s obsession with his mother grew. He boarded up the rooms in the house she used and left all of her stuff untouched. 

Ed committed his first murder on the December 8th of 1954. After robbing Pine Grove Tavern, Ed shot and killed the owner, Mary Hogan. He brought her body home to the shed on his land.

On the Morning of November 16, 1957, a Plainfield store owner Bernice Worden went missing. After a substantial amount of evidence was uncovered against Ed, he was arrested by the Waushara County Sheriff’s Department. The department searched Ed’s house, where they discovered human bones, fingernails, human skin, along with many more gruesome human remains made into “souvenirs.” In a shed on Ed’s property, Bernice Worden’s decapitated body was found. He had shot and killed her. 

When interrogated Gein told investigators that between 1947 and 1952, he made as many as 40 visits to local graveyards to dig up recently buried bodies while he was in, what he referred to as, a “daze-like” state before returning home and dismembering the bodies. Ed also said that one roughly 30 of these visits he broke out of this daze like state and returned home empty handed. The bodies Ed made it home with, often were middle-aged women who resembled his mother. While being interrogated, Gein admitted to killing Mary Hogan, but later denied knowing the details. 

During questioning, Waushara County Sheriff, Art Schley, reportedly assaulted Gein by banging his head and face into a brick wall. As a result, Gein’s initial confession was ruled inadmissible. Schley died before Gein’s trial.

On November 21st, 1957, Ed was brought to court on one court of first degree murder in Waushara County. Ed pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. Ed was soon diagnosed with schizophrenia and found mentally imcompetent making him unfit for trial. He was then sent to The Central State Hospital For The Criminally Insane, and later transferred to The Mendota State Hospital in Madison, Wisconsin. He stayed here for about 10 years. 

In 1968, doctors decided that Ed was “mentally able to confer with counsel and participate in his defense.” This led to another trial which began on November 7, 1968, and lasted a mere one week. 

By request of Ed and defense the trial was held without a jury present. Judge Robert H. Gollmar found Ed guilty of killing Bernice Worden. He also admitted to killing Mary Hogan. A second trial for determining Ed’s sanity found him “not guilty by reason of insanity” and ordered Ed to Central State Hospital for the Criminally Insane. Ed spent the rest of his life in a mental hospital.

Ed died in the Mendota Mental Hospital due to respiratory failure and lung cancer on  July 26, 1984, at the age of 77. Ed is buried beside his parents and his brother Henry. 

Poll: Paper VS Online

By: Kristina Mertz

Before COVID, PHS the Quill had physical paper newspapers and we had more readers. Our numbers have significantly decreased since we were forced to switch to an online blog. The journalists at PHS the Quill wanted to know what YOU prefer, paper newspapers or the online blog. This is what you had to say. 

New Teacher of The Year: Ms. Schulz

By: Kristina Mertz

Ms. Schulz may not be a familiar face around PHS, but she sure will be soon, because she has been chosen as the 2020-2021 New Teacher of the Year. She provides assistance for students who need additional support in their core classes.

Ms. Schulz says, “I am thrilled to be new teacher of the year, it’s rewarding to know that my co-workers see that I’m working really hard for my students and [it’s] really exciting because I feel like I have accomplished a lot.”

She attended college at St. Phillips, where she obtained her associates degree and later transferred to Texas A&M San Antonio where she earned a Bachelor’s degree in Interdisciplinary Studies.

“I was born in San Antonio and then I lived in Adkins, which is near LaVernia, and I have two kids, they’re both boys, six and two and a half.” She later added, “I think PHS found me. I also used to work in Jourdanton in the oil field (dispatching while I was in college), so [I] was used to the drive. It’s like it was meant to be.”

 Her favorite part about teaching children is, “Building relationships, I enjoy spending time with my students, because they make me happy.” Ms. Schulz said,  “I am looking forward to seeing my students grow as individuals and being able to see familiar faces.”

Her favorite part about PHS is “The family type atmosphere.” Congratulations Ms. Schulz on getting New Teacher of the Year!

Ms. Schulz as PHS’s 2020-2021 New Teacher of The Year.

Change in Mask Protocol

By: Kristina Mertz

As of June 1st, Pleasanton ISD lifted the mask mandate across the campuses. Students who elect to wear a mask must also follow COVID protocols, as well as students who do not opt to wear a mask. All students must follow the dress code accordingly, which includes no facial hair and no facial piercings. Students who choose to wear the mask must wear all masks correctly, covering their nose, mouth, chin, and neck. PHS is currently still practicing contact tracing procedures such as, electronic hall passes, sanitizing desks and chairs, enforcing assigned seating, and keeping students in quarantine for those who have come in close contact with the virus. It is extremely important to remember to respect students’ choices whether or not they choose to wear a mask. If you have any questions or concerns feel free to contact Mrs.Guajardo or another administrator.

Your Life, Your Responsibility

By: Kristina Mertz

Students who attend high school are under the direction and guidance of teachers along with parents. This means students haven’t really had time to grow, especially when teachers choose to provide every last chance in order for a student to complete their work. Everybody has heard the saying, “You Only Live Once,” but nobody has added the saying “Your life is your responsibility.” Yes you may only live once, but only you are responsible for your life. Students can’t rely on teachers and parents to guide them through everything in life, when the mistakes they make are going to give them experience and the courage to try new things. This also means teachers need to let students fail when they choose to not participate and do the work. When teachers allow students the room to fail, it gives students the feeling of what it really means to fail, that way they can take responsibility and say, “I failed and it’s on me.” It’s sometimes harder for students to accept failure later in life, because they never had the experience of actually failing. This allows students to enable themselves to try better and put in more effort for the next assignment and their future. Only you know what you want in life, and it’s only you that can get you to where you need to be in life. However, asking for help is never a weakness, accepting the help you need is one of the bravest things a person can do. This just means you can’t rely on people for the rest of your life to do the things you’re responsible for. Take this as an opportunity to take initiative and responsibility for your life. 

You Just Got Served!

By: Kristina Mertz

The Pleasanton Eagle Tennis team had several tournaments this month located at Somerset and East Central. On March 2nd and 3rd the team traveled to Somerset to compete in a tournament.

Devon Clark, a sophomore, says the season “… hasn’t been going as good [as] it was last year because we went to Area, but the really good people we have are seniors and we only have three seniors left.” He later added, “I’m proud that I have gotten better with my left hand… I switched hands this year… Because I tore my rotator cuff.”

The tennis team later traveled to compete in the East Central Grand Slam Tournament on the 17th and 19th returned with a 1st place win from the JV Boys Doubles main draw composed of Dillion Benavidez and Shayne Cazier. Luke Harlos and Blake Moos won 1st place boys doubles back draw for the varsity team.

Coach Schwab states, “We’re exactly where we want to be going into district we’re on a high.” He said he is most proud of, “My team.” He later added, “The team probably just needs to improve on stepping out with a tough mental attitude, stepping out with the idea that they’re gonna win, when they step out onto the court that they are the winners and that they’re gonna be the victors and we’re gonna be in great shape.”

Pride! Pride!

Student Spotlight: The Twins Edition

By: Kristina Mertz

Did you know that for every 1,000 births, only 32 are twins? Well, here at PHS we have a whopping six sets of twins. Summer and Autumn Webster (freshman), Ayden and Andrew Parker (sophomores), Jaclyn and Jonathan Gonzales (sophomores), Logan and Mitchell Alexander (sophomores), Kelly and Kristina Mertz (juniors), and Reagan and Ryan Moore (juniors).  

Sophomores, Jaclyn and Jonathan Gonzales.

There are many highs and lows to being a twin, and all twins have different opinions on what it really means to be a twin. Sophomore Jonathan Gonzales states, “The perks of having a twin, is that you’re never alone and you always have someone to talk to.” Jaclyn Gonzales added, “He always makes me laugh when I am not in a good mood.” They both fight around two or three times a week and have twins on both sides of the family. When asked if they wished they weren’t twins, both replied “No” and “No never.” Jaclyn said, “I can tell by his facial expressions when something is wrong… You’re never alone and they are there for you when you need them the most.” Jonathan concluded with, “The best thing about my sister is that she is my best friend and that she can turn anything from a positive into a negative.”

Summer and Autumn Webster are surprisingly fraternal twins. Summer, a freshman said, “For us two, 90% of the time we have the same interests, so we can talk about lots of things… since you’re  often close to each other, you also have someone who can accompany you when you’re lonely.” Autumn added, “The best part about Summer, is that she’s very interesting. She likes what I like, she listens to me with patience and understanding and… she’s generally a very likeable and cool person.” When asked if their parents could tell them apart, Summer responded with, “ Mostly, our mom can tell us apart via our voices, but she does get us mixed up sometimes.” Autumn later contributed, “We don’t argue that much I’d say maybe a few times a week but most of the time they’re small and petty quarrels and usually get resolved fast.” Both of them said that they would never want to change being a twin.

Logan and Mitchell Alexander are currently sophomores this year and are fraternal twins, with Logan being the oldest. Mitchell said he is, “Not sure” about what the perks are of being a twin, while Logan said, “You have someone to go talk to if you need something and someone to look up to.” When asked what the best part about each other was, Logan said, “He’s kind, when he wants to be at least, and he’s understanding.” and Mitchell added, “He doesn’t annoy me.” Both brothers said they don’t argue very much, and they have a set of twin girl cousins. Logan said he would, “never change [being a twin] for anything.”

Ayden and Andrew Parker are also sophomores this year, and are fraternal twins. Ayden said the perks of being a twin are, “Fighting, having the same birthday, being minutes older than each other, being competitive with each other, and arguing all the time.” He said if he had the choice he would change being a twin and the best part about Andrew is that “He’s annoying, he’s funny sometimes, and he’s a couple centimeters taller than me, he’s smaller than me.” Ayden added that he and his brother argue “like three times a week.” He later said, “Sometimes we will say the same thing at the same time.”

Juniors, Reagan and Ryan Moore.

Most students are familiar with juniors, Ryan and Reagan Moore. Reagan says the perks of being a twin are, “Having a built-in best friend.” While Ryan stated, “Some perks are just having a friend that’s always there for you and someone to compete against to make yourself better in sports.” Ryan said the best part about his brother is, “I’d say how smart he is and he applies himself before anything else” while Reagan added, “Probably his height.” Both twins said they argue almost every day and Reagan said he wouldn’t change being a twin, while Ryan said “I think I would, of course there’s moments where I wish we weren’t [twins] but he’s always been there for me.”

Juniors, Kelly and Kristina Mertz.

Lastly, Kelly and Kristina Mertz are fraternal twins and juniors this year as well. Kristina said, “There really is no other words to describe the kind of connection we have as twins, she just always gets me. I think the perks are always being able to have someone to believe in you and what you can do, never in my life has Kelly doubted me and she always encourages me to be my best.” Kelly said the perks of being a twin is “For a lot of memberships that require your picture Kristina and I could share a membership like for Six Flags, Sam’s Club, Costco, you know the drill.”  Kristina later said, “The best thing about Kelly, is she is very forward and knows what she wants from life. I think, no, I know, she is going to go very far in life. She also gives some pretty good hugs when I need it the most.” Kelly wanted to add, “[We’re] always being compared like, which ones the fatter twin, the prettier twin, the smarter twin, the funnier twin, or the nicer twin… being a twin you have to kind of gauge your level of tolerance for it. Most of the time Kristina and I are like, ‘okay this guys a tool’ but sometimes you just can’t handle it and it’s very sad, like sometimes it can really get to you so, a word of advice to anyone please do not compare twins.” Kristina said they fight, “Every day, we could go up to five times a day if we have to, for anybody that knows us, we are either laughing or yelling at each other.”

Thank you to all the wonderful twins we are fortunate to have at PHS!

Teacher Spotlight: Mrs. Williams

By: Kristina Mertz

Mrs. Williams is a prominent educator, leader, and role model here at PHS who changes lives daily. Simon Karsky, a junior, states “As a teacher, she continues to remind me of the work that needs to be done and the fact that I need to study more. She continues to post notes in Classroom that I can use as resources later.” She has been teaching here for 21 years, and has always been a Social Studies teacher. Her first year here she taught Geography and then World History along with Honors courses. She then eventually moved into teaching US History, and this is currently her fourth year here teaching AP. 

She attended and graduated from UTSA and did her basics at Palo Alto, where she received her masters degree in history. “I started college right after I graduated but, then life got in the way… We moved out of state and then stuff happened, so I didn’t really go back to college until after I was married and had two children… That was a big challenge, you know having to juggle family and work and going back to school, so I started teaching a little later than most people.”

Mrs. Williams has always known from a young age that she wanted to be a teacher, “When I was in the 8th grade I had an American History teacher who was fabulous. That was also the year we did a trip to Washington DC for the first time… I fell in love with it, it is actually one of my most favorite places to visit… I don’t even know how many times I’ve been, but I love it… that experience just kind of cemented it.. That’s all I’ve ever wanted to do was teach history.”

“I love PHS, in fact I’m a graduate from PHS… I left a 6A school in San Antonio my senior year to come to school here.. it was even smaller here, there wasn’t AC, you had to have the window units and it was like old school Pleasanton… the cafeteria was the auditorium and the art rooms, that was the cafeteria. You know so crazy it was so different… no science wing the science wing was in the 400 hallway…I met Mr. Brown, he was the principle at the time… he personally took myself and my younger brother around and showed us the school, we got to sit in classes and I loved it, I loved the atmosphere, I loved the personal feeling you got with the teachers and administration.”

While teaching here she has been involved in many activities “I am the UIL coordinator which means I oversee all of the UIL academic events. I schedule us going to different events, meets and competitions. I help Ms. Rodriguez with getting One Act Play organized. In light of COVID, we don’t have much going on right now. For about 8 years I was the pacesetter director… before me, it was Ms. Olivarri and she was stepping down, so the assistant principal talked to me and then I accepted and took over. I had them for about 8 years so my daughter grew up with the pacesetters as well.”

One of her biggest pieces of advice is “When you’re in high school and there’s so much else going on, what your doing here maybe doesn’t seem that important, but truly the lessons and the skills that you learn here in high school: the time management, your relationship building skills, all of those things are so, so important whenever you move out of the high school arena… For those people who are going off to college, being able to be independent, being able to manage your time, being able to know that you have something to study and how to study for it, are skills that are gonna be so important. Even those people that aren’t gonna go to college or do other things, go straight into the business world, go to a tech school, having those skills that you learn here in high school, they’re gonna serve you well outside of high school.” 

Mrs. Williams will always be remembered for the endless amount of dedication and effort she has put into students and PHS as a whole. Thank you Mrs. Williams for all that you do!

Hoop! Hoop!

By: Kristina Mertz

The Boys Pleasanton Basketball Team is pictured.

On Friday, November 20th, the Boys Basketball team had their third game against SA Lanier on the home court. The Eagles won the game with a score of 63 to 51. On November 21st, the team traveled to Wimberley, where they played strong but unfortunately fell. They lost with a score of 65-62. November 24th brought yet another loss against YMLA with a score of 76-65. November 28th supplied some good news with a win from Eagle Pass Winn, with the score ending 76-34. Another victory came from Bandera on December 1st, 84-49 a great way to start the month. December 4th came with yet another win from Hondo the score was 76-40. The boys traveled to Del Rio on December 4th and won with an impressive score of 89-67. December 11th at Lulling High School revealed another victory with the Eagles winning at 87-41.

Coach Marquez says, “Overall the boys are playing well for the beginning of the season. We are working hard everyday to improve on the little things. The team is eager to learn and improve daily. We need to improve communication on and off the court and we are always looking to improve our defense, since defense is what we hang our hats on.” He says his goal is, “To get better every day, to do our best during district, and to strive to go far in the playoffs.” He later added, “This team is a hard working team that pushes themselves daily.”

Estevan Jackson, a junior, says, “I think this season is going very well we’re keeping it steady… we are getting comfortable with each other and we’re learning our chemistry with each other, so confidence is one thing we all have.” He then explained, “I hope to improve on being more accurate on shooting and to be able to handle the rock, which means the basketball” and that, “My goal is the same as all of us, to be able to go to play offs and make it to state.” He added, “Oh, Coach Marquez is my favorite coach.”

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?


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