Valedictorian: Matthew Garcia

By: River Reyes

Class of 2021 Valedictorian Matt Garcia

From freshman year to senior year students compete relentlessly for the top rankings of their class, be it for the pursuit of their dreams or a strong competitive nature. The Valedictorian is the one who stands above all else, successfully maintaining the highest standard of grade and seeking out the greatest challenge with every given opportunity. The Pleasanton High School Class of 2020-2021 Valedictorian is Matthew Garcia, a well distinguished student who has worked tirelessly to stay at the top of his class for his future endeavors.

Matt will be attending Texas Tech University enrolled in the honors program looking to major in finances. When asked about his class ranking and how it affected his opportunities, he said, “It made the admissions process much less stressful and gave me more of an advantage over others…I was awarded many scholarships based off of test scores and rank…” The payoff for all of  Matt’s hard work is clear and staying on top of the workload taken was an integral part to maintaining such a high rank. Matt says that to maintain his school/life balance, he would spend “…time before and after school catching up on or getting better clarification on any task 3I may have had trouble on.” Taking advantage of the help that teachers provide is extremely important for those looking to excel in their academic pursuits as you are allowed that 1:1 experience which guarantees the clarification necessary to be successful. 

The teacher with the strongest impact on Matt’s high school career is Mrs. Bast. Mrs. Bast is the current College Algebra, Pre-Calculus, and Calculus teacher. Mrs. Bast takes great pride in having taught Matt and watching him develop as a student who prioritizes challenging himself. “Matt is one of those well rounded people who will succeed at whatever they set their mind to in life and in addition to being a gifted brilliant student he’s a nice guy as well he’s a really good guy and a great role model for other students. I’m proud to call him my student.” It truly goes to show that Matt has left a strong impression on his teachers and sets a strong example for his peers.

At home Matt is just as diligent with his responsibilities as he is at school. When asked how she feels about his Valedictorian status, Matt’s mother says, “Matthew is very deserving of his Valedictorian status, because we have seen first hand how much diligent devotion, time, and bottomless energy that he has applied to his studies. We are happy for him, and have high expectations for him in the future.” As his parent, Matt’s mother is very engaged with his endeavors, both failures and successes, encouraging him to meet his highest potential. As a graduating senior, Matt will be entering the open world head first and his mother has full intention of supporting Matt now so that he can pioneer his own future with his independent efforts. 

The Valedictorian is the one who stands above all else, successfully maintaining the highest standard of grade and seeking out the greatest challenge with every given opportunity. Matt has been successful in many of his pursuits and worked tirelessly, diligently, and honorably, deserving all the recognition he has received. We congratulate Matt and hope he will continue to be his best both now and in the future.

Salutatorian: Blake Moos

By: Heaven Marquez

Salutatorian Blake Moos posing for a prom picture.

Pleasanton High School’s 2021 Salutatorian is none other than amazing student Blake Moos. As someone involved in many different organizations, Blake has succeeded in academics, while also doing well in athletics and maintaining a balance of work and play.

“I just enjoy holding those leadership positions…,” said Blake. “Even though it [the organizations] added to my workload, it didn’t bother my drive to keep my grades up.”

Blake plans to attend Texas Tech University in the fall and wants to major in Computer Science, to then receive his Master’s degree in Software Development. After school, he would like to work with a large video game company in the entertainment industry or cyber security. 

With his experience in leading many different organizations, such as Class President, National Honor Society Vice President, Homecoming King, Mr. PHS, and now Salutatorian, Blake aims to put it all to good use in his career field. 

“Even though I enjoy being a leader, I [also] really enjoy working together as a group. And so in the job of cyber security, I’d love to be the “head honcho” of the group, but I really just enjoy working with other people and being able to produce a result from that,” Blake stated.

Even with all of his participation and accomplishments, Blake does not consider any of them to be his greatest achievements while at Pleasanton High School.

“Even though I have accomplished a lot, I think my greatest success is just meeting all the people that I have, and I love all my friends so much. It’s going to be really sad that I’m not going to be with them forever, but I’m just so glad that I’ve been able to meet so many great people,” explained Blake.

Blake has done exceptionally well in his four years of high school, making his family very proud.

“He [Blake] works hard. He makes me proud and I hope that he continues that when he moves on and just always remembers that being kind is more important than anything else,” said Blake’s mother, Mrs. Beth Moos.

Blake’s journey has been successful so far, and we cannot wait to see what the future holds for him. Congratulations Blake, and your PHS family wishes you only the best!

Highest Ranking Girl: April Findley

By: Courtney Henson

April Findley is one of the most kind, generous, and humble faces at PHS. Over the past 4 years April has worked incredibly hard in all of her classes. This work has paid off and April will graduate as the highest ranking girl of the class of 2021! April will be attending Texas A&M where she is studying Mathematics to, someday in the future, become an actuary. April is the student council president, an active member of NHS, a member of the Trio Upward Bound program, and a member of the 2021 class officer cabinet. 

Along with working very hard and balancing your time well, another thing that can help you stay ahead and create motivation are the people all around supporting you. The teachers at PHS can play a huge role in influencing the students. For April, three teachers had the biggest influence on not only her success in high school, but on the person she is today. April credits her motivation to actually do well in school to Mr. Roberson. Freshman year, April categorized herself as a pessimistic person but through the year she grew.  She says Mr. Roberson “opened my eyes to the world of optimism.” and that “he gave me a lot of encouragement and motivation.” Although Mr. Roberson is one of the main reasons April is going to study mathematics, Mrs. Bast also played one of the biggest roles in April’s decision. April says that Mrs. Bast “really pushes you to do your best and she like believes in you 100%,” She also credits most of her motivation and success to the lengths Mrs. Bast would go for her students. Lastly, having one of the most influential positions in April’s life is Mrs. Moos. April says “Mrs. Moos is always there for me just helping me” She has given April countless opportunities and good memories. “She is one of the best workers at PHS. She believes in her students, she’s just so sweet, she’s just overall the most caring person I know, I love Mrs. Moos, she is the best.” These three teachers’ life lessons, amazing memories and motivation will be ones April remembers for the rest of her life and lives her life following.

Although high school is only four short years of one’s life, they are memorable and important to growth. Being involved in many things resulted in April having a very memorable high school experience. April at one time was an avid runner and it paid off. As a freshman, April advanced to regionals in both Track and Cross Country which soon became one of the best memories April has of high school. “It was a crazy moment for me,” she states, “I was like “what the heck” it was crazy for me.” Alongside being involved in Track and Cross Country, April was an active and successful member of the schools debate team. Advancing all the way to state as just a freshman. Even though she was really successful in these events, April feels her greatest high school success was being the highest ranking girl, and student council president. “It was awesome.” Both of these require a lot of work and dedication and April did amazing. 

For all 4 years of high school April has been a member of the TRIO Upward Bound program. She credits this program for the preparation and knowledge she has of college and the application process. “That was probably the most I have ever been prepared for something.” She states. The TRIO program helped her with college visits, essays, scholarships, preparing them for picking degrees and majors and much more. She says they “They told me everything I needed to know.” Alongside this, the school counselors have also helped a significant amount in April’s high school to college transition. She went to Mrs. Evans with many questions and Mrs. Evans always proved to help. April says, “the counselors are really helpful, they really help a lot.” April has had somewhat of a smooth transition and she says all you “just have to ask.”

Both after and during college April intends to participate in internships. She would also like to get a masters degree to narrow down her degree from general mathematics to eventually become an actuary. An actuary is someone who does statistical analysis, “basically they just like do risk analysis for bigger companies.” This is a career April has a lot of interest in and has always thought about. “I think it’s something really interesting,” she says, “I don’t think I would get bored.” She finds the risk factory of the job the most interesting and exciting part of being an actuary. 

Through high school, everyone faces many difficulties that might hold them back or discourage them. April’s most important piece of advice is to not worry yourself crazy over GPA. She says “always try your best and try to get the higher grade but don’t kill yourself for it.” She feels it cuts down on your social life, your friends’ community and family time. She stressed that in high school you should always, “take harder classes to challenge yourself and prepare yourself, but don’t let it kill you, don’t let it push you so hard that you have nothing left.” Always enjoy your time no matter what. You only have so much time. April leaves the classes to follow with the strong statement of, “It’s ok to not be able to do it all.

Congratulations April on everything you have accomplished at Pleasanton High School. We on campus could not be more proud of the things you have done. We wish you the best of luck and know you will do great things. Pride! Pride! 

Teacher of the Year: Mrs. Bast

By: Victoria Chavez

Mrs. Callie Bast, who is known as one of PHS best mathematics teachers , was selected as the 2020-2021 Teacher of the Year. With her bright attitude and her passion for teaching it is no surprise that she was given this award. “My favorite part about teaching is when  you see a student, who probably hated math, not hate math anymore and they realize they can do the work…” 

When asked how she felt receiving this award Mrs. Bast commented, “ I was thrilled and honored… made me feel appreciated for what I do and for all the extra hours that I spend after school working with kids” It is no question that her dedication to her students shines through the dark times of the school year. Even with the obstacles that the pandemic has given us, she continues to educate students and help them reach their goals. “It’s the worst when you see a student sitting between friends and they’re not able to do the work but by the end they can…”  

Her reasoning to return to teach at PHS was because, “I graduated in 1982… it feels like coming home from a long trip… it’s like if you cut me, I bleed green” 

Mrs. Bast’s love for teaching has grown over the years and with this growth came advice for the new teachers of the world, “You chose this profession because you love teaching. It’s not the money or the fame, you do it because you feel called to do it. Even when you have those rough days or years, weather the storms and remember why you came in the first place. You’re going to be glad you followed the passion instead of the dollar bill… might drive an old Chevy like I do but that’s okay” 

Congratulations Mrs. Bast and thank you for all of your hard work!

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.

Paraprofessional of the Year: Mrs. Salinas

By: Kristina Mertz

If you’ve ever had a fever, stomachache, or were in desperate need of some allergy medicine, Mrs. Annette Salinas, also known as the school nurse, has definitely made your day better. She is known throughout the school as a kind caregiver, who will never hesitate to help a student.

When interviewed by senior, Dillon Meyers, she said, ““To begin with, I’m a school Nurse Aide. My training has been through ESC-Region 20. Training such as emergency first aid, CPR, seizure, diabetes, etc. Through the years, PISD District Nurses have delegated and trained me for other skills as well. — As I like to say, ‘I’m the mom that does first aid at school!’ — I started as the back up to the Nurse Aide when we had the Intermediate Campus (I was a library aide at the time) many years ago, when she left I stepped into the position for a few years and then transferred to PHS about 9 years ago.” 

As PHS’s school nurse she has many duties and responsibilities. “I also keep track of student immunizations, vision and hearing screenings, administer medications at school too.” When asked if she always wanted to be a nurse aid, she responded with, “Administering first aid has always come natural to me. I grew up on a dairy farm and learned at an early age to care for animal wounds. I’m not squeamish to wounds and blood and can stay calm in stressful situations. When I was married and had kids – two boys, one girl – I had plenty of first aid practice on them!” — “Also when I was [a] kid, my sister, brother and I helped care for our grandparents when they became bedridden at home.”

She later added, “I’ve been at PISD 20 years as a paraprofessional of some sort, over half that time in the Nurse’s Office. If I didn’t love my job, I wouldn’t be here.” Her favorite part about the job is, “Knowing I helped a student’s day go a little bit better!” And her least favorite part is, “Not being [able] to be in two places at once.”

“When someone takes care of others it’s rewarding, no matter if it’s a little bit or a lot” she stated. Mrs. Salinas is a prominent educator, who will always be valued highly in the halls of PHS for years to come. Thank you Mrs. Salinas!

Getting on with Graduation

By: Gabby Palacios and Heaven Marquez

As the end of the school year comes around the corner, PHS staff, faculty, and 2021 seniors prepare for this year’s graduation ceremony. Due to the circumstances of this year and the recent changes to the mask requirements, PHS has made adjustments to the guidance for graduates and their families.

The gates will open at 6:00 pm for guests attending the ceremony, and all will enter at the main entrance gate. Guests are highly encouraged to bring a water bottle. Balloons and other distracting items, including but not limited to air horns, silly string, beach balls, etc., are not allowed. Flower deliveries for graduates will be accepted from 6:00-7:00 pm at the visitor’s gate closest to the field house. PHS administration asks that all guests be seated immediately upon entering the stadium to secure their seats. Those attending will not be allowed to stand along the railing in the stands to take photos or to watch graduates enter since this blocks the view of other guests. In the event of inclement weather, each graduate will be allowed a maximum of 6 guests, and the ceremony will be moved into the New Sports Complex Gym.

The 2021 graduates are expected to be in dress code and in their assigned rooms before 7:00 pm on the day of the ceremony, Friday, June 14. Doors will open at 6:15 pm and each graduate will have a specific entrance depending on their assigned rooms. Graduates must not bring any personal items into the school building before the ceremony as they will not return afterward. Masks are optional in the school building and on the field. For students who choose to wear a mask, one will be provided. You are not allowed to wear your own.

Although the ceremony will be open to all, with no limit on guests per graduate, PISD encourages any individuals in high-risk groups for Covid-19 to not attend the ceremony. The ceremony will be live streamed and links to watch will be posted on the PISD and PHS websites and Facebook pages.

This year flew by in the blink of an eye, and graduation will be here before we know it. Congratulations to all 2021 PHS seniors. Good luck to all as you enter the next chapter of your life. PRIDE PRIDE!

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.

JROTC

By: Libby Sanchez

Pleasanton JROTC participating at the Pleasanton City Wide Memorial Day Ceremony.

As the school year comes to an end, so do the clubs and organizations within our district. After Covid-19 took their chance of an End of Year Award Ceremony and Change of Command Ceremony last year, Pleasanton JROTC was excited to be able to participate in this event on May 20th . The Change of Command Ceremony is significant because it’s a change of authority of Cadet Senior Leadership. Announced at this event was next year’s new Battalion Commander, Simon Karsky (Junior), and Battalion Command Sergeant Major, Hayli Woodson (Sophomore). On May 22nd, JROTC participated in the Alpha Warrior Challenge at Retama Park in San Antonio. After practicing and training for this event the previous weekend, our Eagles were ready to dominate the hour and 45 minute course. They were split up into an 8 person male team and an 8 person female team. The Eagles won 4th place out of the 12 teams in the male category, and the Pink Eagles won 2nd place. Pleasanton High School JROTC was very honored to participate in the Pleasanton City Wide Memorial Day Ceremony to pay their respects to our fallen heroes this past weekend. They participated in a wreath laying ceremony at the Veteran Memorial early Sunday morning. Over the summer, 10 cadets were chosen to participate in the JROTC Cadet Leadership Challenge. The 5 male cadets chosen are: Lorenzo Samaniego, Aries Uhl, Logan Alexander,  Valdamore Herrera, and Kenneth Alegria. The 5 female cadets chosen are: Natalia Jones, Alaina Nethken, Courtney Cearley, Annie Araiza, and Hayli Woodson. It’s a 4 day overnight event that focuses on team building and cadet leadership. Colonel Wynder has done a great job with this year’s JROTC program and is beyond proud of the graduating seniors. “I want them to take the lessons they’ve learned during this experience and apply them for the rest of their lives, motivate young people, set up for success, live by the cadet creed, and always be successful.” Good luck to those graduating, and we’re looking forward to what JROTC has in store for next year! 

Prom

By: Adelena Vera

Prom King and Queen!

Fun Times!

Everyone Dancing!

More Fun with Friends

Heaven and Friends!

Evan and Caitlin Enjoying Prom!

 

Pleasanton High Schools annual Junior and Senior prom was held on Saturday, May 1st, 2021 at The Espee. There were about 350 people who attended this year’s Great Gastby themed prom. The prom royalty are as listed below, followed by the class favorites: 

King and Queen are Mariano Gutierrez & Genevieve Rodriguez

Prince & Princess: Trent Crady & Valentina Gasca

Dutch & Duchess: Roman Cuevas & Korin Ramos

Most Artistic: Cesario Aguero & Mya Cashiola

Most Transformed: Thomas Lopez & Alizae Navejar

Best Hair: Ashon Thompson & Jewels Kinsel

Class Clown: Andrew Orta & Viviana Huron

Biggest Flirt: Joshua Schmahl & Kiyara Peralez

Most Likely to Succeed: Blake Moos & April Findley

Prettiest Eyes: Ashon Thompson & Zariah Garcia

Cutest Couple: Marissa Hernandez & Romulus Romero

Most Spirited: Andrew Orta & Heaven Marquez

Most Musical: Daniel Martinez & Neviz Martinez

Best Physique: Brenden Esquivel & Caitlyn Neischwitz

Best Smile: Mariano Gutierrez & Heaven Marquez

Sweetest & Kindest: Blake Moos & Caitlyn Neischwitz

Most Likely to be in the Principal’s Office: Andrew Orta & Natalie Contreras

Most Handsome & Most Beautiful: Thomas Lopez & Valentina Gasca Tellez

Bromance: Auston Gillespie & Ty Hehman

BFFs: Renata Osorio & Sofia Rivera

Most Athletic: Ashon Thompson & Caitlin Nieschwitz

Most Talkative: TommyLee Ramirez & Brianna Ortiz

Best Laugh: Andrew Orta & Neviz Martinez

Best Personality: Romulus Romero & Neviz Martinez

Life of the Party: Andrew Orta & Kim Arguijo

Most Likely to be President: Blake Moos & April Findley

Cutest Couple That Never Was: Valentina Gasca Tellez & Mariano Gutierrez

Mr. & Miss PHS: Blake Moos & Heaven Marquez

Caitlin Hernadez states, “I had fun at prom and I will attend next year, of course.” Her favorite thing about prom was getting the chance to dress up and wear a beautiful dress. Before prom, she took pictures and ate with three other guests. At the venue, she got to dance with her boyfriend and spend some time with her friends, and of course the after party.

Student Spotlight: Timothy Klein

By: Jaelyn Morales

Timothy Klein hustling for the ball

Timothy Klein is a sophomore here at PHS, who before coming to Pleasanton, went to school at Wellsprings in RAK, United Arab Emirates. Timothy is a kind and responsible student who tries to help out his fellow classmates whenever he can. Timothy enjoys all of his classes, but his favorite subject is Math. When asked what his favorite part about school is, Timothy responded, “I enjoy being around other students and getting to know them.”

He is not only a smart and overachieving student, but he also plays for the Pleasanton Men’s Varsity Soccer team and runs cross country. When he’s not in the classroom, he is playing his heart out on the field. This year, the men’s soccer team came out on top as undefeated district champs and made it to playoffs where they became bi-district champs and area qualifiers.

Timothy was also chosen by Mrs. Minniear as the next recipient of the PHS Positivity Challenge. “Timothy has such a genuine smile and fantastic attitude!” she expressed, “He is polite and kind and has a positive influence on those around him.” Timothy is one of the most kind and caring students you will meet at PHS, and that is why he is this month’s student spotlight! 

Teacher Spotlight: Mrs. Jones

By: Gabby Palacios

Mrs. Jones flashes her bright smile for the camera.

Many seniors may recognize Mrs. Jones as the bright-eyed, high-spirited teacher located at the end of the senior hallway. Though her well-composed image is unmistakable, most students do not get the privilege of working with Mrs. Jones. Still, she has a huge impact on those who do get the privilege of working with her, and her work around our campus does not go unnoticed.

Mrs. Jones is part of the English department here at PHS. Her job is targeted towards helping students who need practice with specific skills and strategies to be successful on their English I or II tests, seniors who struggle to master a second STAAR test, and those who have large gaps in reading. As an interventionist, Mrs. Jones has had the ability to see the growth of her students and has a great impact on their experiences here at PHS.

Before she became a teacher here at PHS or even attended college, Mrs. Jones spent time in the Navy and although her enlistment was not planned, she enjoyed the experience which she believes saved her life. On a walk to her job at HEB, she explained that she was “feeling sorry for [herself].” “I was thinking ‘Oh my God, what am I going to do with the rest of my life’… you have this thought of ‘… am I going to be stuck here forever,’” Mrs. Jones explained.

She questioned how she would make it out and buy a house or start a family. But this fateful day, her friends drove by, explained that they were on their way to join the military, and asked if she wanted to join. “They took me right back to my home, I called in sick, left with them and we went to San Antonio.”

After a while, Mrs. Jones was processed and sworn into the Navy. “When I came out, it was already dark, already late and they were like ‘what took you so long?’ and I said ‘what do you mean? I just got sworn in.’ and their mouths dropped wide open… None of them joined that day.”

Mrs. Jones left for the Navy the week following her enlistment, and explains it was the “beginning of [her] today.” Mrs. Jones strongly believes that that day was meant for her. She was at a point in life where she felt stuck, with no idea of where she was going, but the opportunity provided a “vehicle” for her passage to the life she lives today. She explains, “It was one of the best choices I made in my life.”

After her time in the Navy, she became an Atascosa Jailer, then went on to become President of the police academy that she attended. Mrs. Jones decided to leave the position after the ambush on Atascosa county and returned to school, beginning in Palo Alto, then transferring to Texas A&M.

Mrs. Jones, through her service for the country and the students of PHS, has proven to be a caring, strong, and passionate woman that deserves to be recognized. Thank you, Mrs. Jones, for your dedication, hard work, and all that you do for our campus. Pride Pride!

Staff Spotlight: Mr. Macias

By: Dillon Myers

Mr. Macias has been a proud PISD staff member for a good while now. During his time here, he has shown his ability to remain level-headed and make the right choice in tough decisions. It is easy to see how much he enjoys teaching others and helping guide them as best he can. 

On the sixteenth, Mr. Macias was asked “How did you get to be where you are now?” To this, he stated, “Different milestones. I think I’ve always been a teacher, even when I was a student myself in high school because kids saw me as smart… So I’ve been doing some teaching from a very young age. There’s a drive for me to really know what motivates others…” He went on to say, “The passion for being an educator has been something that has been with me, that I grew up with.”

When asked what his favorite thing about his job is, Mr. Macias replied, “Being able to get to know the students. Being able to create the relationships with them that impact their lives and decisions they’re making.” He was also asked what made him want to be an administrator, to which he said: “An administration is different, I was a teacher first. Moving into a leadership position is something… It was a sense of drive towards can I do teaching as an administrator?” He also said that in order to ensure that he does well, Mr. Macias likes to take the slow road, as opposed to “moving through the hierarchy quickly” as some do. “I’m at the end of my career now. But, I’ve enjoyed it, it’s been a good journey.” 

Mr. Macias is always doing so much for the school and has a huge impact on the lives of PHS staff and students. Thank you, Mr. Macias, for all of your hard work.

JROTC: More Than Yelling

By: Heaven Marquez

The JROTC program at Pleasanton High School is often misunderstood as a place for students to get yelled at or to join the military right after high school, but it’s actually so much more than that. 

“The mission of JROTC is to motivate young people to be better citizens,” states Colonel Wynder, head of the JROTC organization. “Life skills [such as] leadership, citizenship, self-awareness, all those areas are things that cadets can learn and grow from. Not only during their high school experience, but when they go on to do something else with their lives as well.” 

Along with these important abilities, JROTC also assists students in preparing for the future. Colonel Wynder said, “We have everybody prepare resumes, talking about being able to interview and speak highly of themselves-describe who they are and what their goals are. So everything we’re doing is setting them up for what happens after high school.” 

The JROTC program also assisted in the Poteet Strawberry Festival 5K Run. For the 19 & Under category, senior Guadalupe Quintana came in third place, and Xavier Rodriguez finished fourth in his age category. The program’s color guard presented the flags as well for the national anthem. 

“That was a big significant activity,” recalled Colonel Wynder. “… because we got to interact with the mayor of Poteet. He and his wife put the event on… It was a good event, [a] bunch of people out there.”

The Poteet Strawberry Festival on Saturday, April 10th was also a remarkable day for the program. “… It’s the big meet, Central Catholic. 35 cadets will be involved, and we have some cadets that are going to do the parade from Poteet.” 

The JROTC had quite a successful meet, with the Varsity Male PT Team finishing 1st, the Woman PT team coming in 3rd. The JLab academic team ended in 2nd place, and the co-ed color guard also came in 2nd overall. Cadets also did extremely well in individual events, with several placing incredibly high. 

May 20th is the award ceremony JROTC in the Eagle football stadium, where each company is able to march and the drill team performs. They recognize the top companies and have a “change in command” ceremony. “… it’s where Edward Uhl will pass on his responsibilities to the next cadet who will be in charge of the cadet battalion next year. So it’s a busy time,” said Colonel Wynder. JROTC is improving the lives of many students and is creating a better future for them. Great job JROTC and keep up the great work! Pride Pride!

The JROTC group picture!

Student Spotlight: April Findley

By: Adelena Vera

April Findley

April Findley is a senior here at PHS. She lived in Houston and went to some elementary schools there, then she moved to Pleasanton and has been going to school here since the 3rd grade. April works two jobs, The Plestex Theater and Sonic Drive-Thru, all while balancing her school work along with extracurricular activities. She is involved in NHS, she is the President of Student Council, and is the class officer for the class of 2021. She has been in the NHS for 2 years along with Student council and Class Officer for 4 years. When asked about what they are, she said, “really all three of them are about helping the student body. Student council is the one I’m most active in and for me it’s all about letting people have their voices be heard and making changes in the school for the better.” April stated, “My favorite class is probably calculus, even though it’s really challenging.” She is going to Texas A&M-College Station to study Mathematics. April was asked if there was anything she would change about her high school experience and she said,  “I think I would change the way I approached high school, and I would try and enjoy my time a little more rather than only focusing on grades and obsessing over getting that extra point.” 

April is a very hard working student here at PHS and has a big future ahead of her. Good luck and have fun in college! 

Teacher Spotlight: Mrs. DeWaal

By: Eileen Jaksik

Mrs. DeWaal in her classroom.

Mrs. DeWaal is a teacher here at Pleasanton High School. Before she decided to become a teacher she was a pharmacist, but she says that she got very bored and wanted to change directions in her career. She says, “It was an accident, I didn’t like the pharmacy job I had and I wanted to change directions and I wanted to go into the medical field and they required me to take an elective. I thought the easiest elective was student teaching and after taking it I saw that I enjoyed it a lot and I decided to try it for a year to see if I would like it and I did.” 

Ever since she started teaching she fell in love with it and has now been teaching for 5 years. She fell in love with being with her students and helping out around the school. Mrs. DeWaal contributes to the school by running the Pleasanton Pacesetters, running the science club, and helping out with dual credit classes all while juggling her regular and AP classes. Mrs. DeWaal has a lot on her plate and has a lot of things going on and she still keeps her head up high and has a smile on her face, She says “It’s been tough, several mental breakdowns… but overall it is so worth it” 

Juggling all of her classes and extra contributions is not the only stressful thing she is going through. We are all trying to adjust to the new COVID-19 restrictions, but the teachers have the worst of it out of everyone. Mrs. DeWaal says that it has changed her way of teaching and the way she sees her students. “It has caused me to be more reflective on my teaching, on my learning, and has made me pay more attention to what the student needs as an individual and as a whole class. I’m really stepping back and realizing that not a lot of students have a lot of support because they’re at home and they’re having to go through school and stuff on their own. So I’ve had to modify a lot of my lectures, videotape my lectures, videotape notes, have examples, and zoom.” she says. 

Even though this year has been really hard for Mrs. DeWaal, she still loves to teach and she says that she loves seeing her students succeed and just building that bond with her students is what she looks forward to when waking up in the morning. 

Mrs. DeWaal has contributed so much to this school, and our whole school is thankful for her and her hard work. Thank you, Mrs. DeWaal!

Staff Spotlight: Ms. Garza

By: Libby Sanchez

Ms. Garza is our school’s CCMR (College, Career, and Military Readiness) Clerk. She manages our Dual Credit program, updates the counseling web page, organizes appointments for TSI, SAT, PSAT, and ASVAB testing, gives updates on scholarships, and schedules meetings with recruiters for students. Her job is to make sure students are prepared to take the correct route in their future, whether it be college or military. 

Pleasanton High School is the first school district Ms. Garza has worked for. She worked at her previous job for 16 years and became the IT director. She received many certifications in Networking, Electronic Medical Records, Practice manager System, Medical Coding, and Billing. These certifications made her the perfect fit for this position at our school. 

Although this job was not her career goal, “this was a contender because I love helping people and knowing I can help a student with their own goals is a great feeling,” Ms. Garza said. 

Covid- 19 has put a strain on how Ms. Garza does her job. This year, scholarship applications have to be submitted electronically instead of paper, college fairs must be virtual, and scheduling testing is an issue. Despite these complications, Ms. Garza has done an excellent job of keeping everything organized and running smoothly! You can catch her standing outside her door next to the counselor’s office with a smile through her mask, thank you for all you do Ms. Garza!

VASE Goes Virtual

By: Gabby Palacios

Due to Covid-19, this year’s Visual Art Scholastic Event (VASE) will be held virtually, with participants submitting all of their interview answers and photo documents electronically. Previously, PHS Art teachers and students would travel to the region event hosts, East Central High School, where they would go through a physical interview process.

According to the Texas Art Education Association (TAEA) website, the mission of VASE is to “recognize exemplary student achievement in the Visual Arts by providing art students and programs a standard of excellence in which to achieve.” For this year’s event, participants completed an online Student Intent form that explained the composition and creative process of their work and digitally submitted reference photos and final photos of their completed work.

After submitting the form, each entry is evaluated by jurors and given scores based on research and application to the work, technique, use of elements and the principles of art, aesthetics and critical judgment, and personal expression. The artwork is evaluated on the purpose, technique, personal expression, organization, and integration of the piece. A score of four achieves a regional award and qualifies the piece for judging for the state event. Ten percent of the qualifying pieces advance.

Last school year, Michael Castillo (current sophomore), Grace Bogenschneider (graduated), and Katelyn Rivera, and Alaina Caballero (current seniors) advanced to state with their pieces. This year, a total of 37 PHS participants received regional medals and sophomore Trey Martinez, juniors Kennedy Guajardo and Juan Lopez, and seniors Korin Ramos and Gabby Palacios advanced and will compete at the state virtual event, taking place on April 23-24, where they have the opportunity to participate in workshops and adjudication awards. 

Although the circumstances of the event are different this year, our PHS students did an amazing job and enjoyed the event. Sophomore Juan Lopez, explains, “This was my first year in art so I was surprised, but I am very excited for state.” 

On the other hand, an anonymous senior explains that they “wish it was different.” They explained, “I’m thankful we got to do it, but it’s unfortunate that I couldn’t physically be there my senior year.” 

Though the circumstances weren’t the best, PHS did an amazing job at VASE. Good job to all of the regional medalists and good luck to the state qualifiers! Pride Pride!

 

 

JROTC

By:Wanish Tortes-McGinnis                                                    

PT before Spring Break

Starting off this month we have the February Cadet of the Month and the NCO, the NCO of the month is SSG Lorenzo Samaniego and the Cadet of the month is PV2 Adam Morales. 

 Cadets are selected at the beginning of the month and they have until the last wednesday of the month to study and during the month they have to complete a PT (Physical Training) test that is considered during the grading section. During the board cadets are interviewed by1SGs on all of the things they have been learning. The cadet is graded on cadet knowledge, basically what have they been taught. The cadets PT scores are compared to other cadet PT scores. 

Next up for this month is JLab. JLab is a leadership and academic test, this month the leadership team went to round two ( round two is the qualifying round for nationals). Leadership test is designed to test knowledge on military leadership and the ROTC curriculum. Competition is very competitive which means all teams shoot for the highest score. Although JROTC did not make it this year, they are preparing for next year’s JLab.  

Bring It On: Tryout Edition

By: Gabby Palacios

Rising senior Linda Sanchez performing her jump of choice (a left hurdler) during mock tryouts.


After a long week of tough practices, PHS cheer sponsors, Mrs. Rutherford and Mrs. Lopez held tryouts for the 2021-2022 team, with 14 girls making Varsity, and 11 girls making Junior Varisty. 

Throughout the week, the candidates were taught and prepared a cheer and dance routine that they performed with their tryout groups. As they entered their tryouts, each girl performed an entrance routine displaying their spirit and tumbling skills and then demonstrated their techniques for a toe touch jump and a jump of their choice. To finish off their tryouts, each group performed the PHS Fight Song, Jalisco, pom routine.

There were a total of 25 girls to try out for the team and 2 members that sought positions as mascots, and every candidate received a position. With that being said, the 2021-2022 PHS cheer team is larger than it has been in years. Although a 14-member varsity squad is average, the junior varsity team will be made up of 11 girls, almost double the number of the current members.

Rising senior Linda Sanchez explains, “This was a good tryout to end off on. The amount of growth everyone showed from the beginning of the week to the last day of tryouts was amazing. I’m proud of the group I get to end my last season on. It’s a big team so hopefully, we can use that to our advantage. ” Though she is sad to be coming up on her last season, Linda is excited for the new team to get together.

PHS is very excited to see what the new team has planned for next year. Good job and congratulations to all new members. Pride Pride!

Junior Varsity: Abigail Hotchkin, Abigail Sosa, Alejandra Martinez, Aubrey Cantu, Emily Morales, Joyce Reyna, Madalyn Allen, Malerie Martinez, Mercedes Phillips, Pearl Sosa, Valeria Morales

Varsity: Brooke Rankin, Desiree Duran, Eileen Jaksik, Emree Adamitz, Linda Sanchez, Makayla Lico, McAda Rutherford, Megan Mayse, Melanie Douglas, Noelani Guerrero, Paige David, Raylin Castillo, Riley Porter, Sirrah Maxwell

 

So You Think You Can Dance: Tryout Edition

By: Gabby Palacios

PHS Pacesetter sponsors, Mrs. De Waal and Ms. Mendoza Del Bosque, held tryouts for the pacesetter team on the week of Monday, February 22- Saturday, February 27. A total of 33 members make up the 2021-2022 team.

During the week of tryouts, the girls prepared a routine that involved specific kicks and dance techniques, and a combination to advance across the floor. Before tryouts, they were expected to have their right split, right stationary leap, and a right pirouette. For tryouts, the girls performed their right and left techniques and the combination they were taught. 

The techniques expected of the girls have made a strong team of award-winning talent, clearly shown by their performances in school events and competitions. On Saturday, March 27, the team took part in the CrowdPleasers Competition in Retire Hays in Buda, Texas, where they received superior ratings in all of their ensemble, duets, and trio performances. Selena and Mily received a superior rating for their duet Gravity, Selena and Autumn for their duet Lovely, Kaitlyn and Larissa for their duet Beautiful Thing, medium jazz ensemble and Ritmo Trio. They received first place overall and scored best in class awards for the team Pom and Officer Modern dance.

Although she is excited about new beginnings, Mrs. DeWaal is also sad to see her seniors go. 

To the 2020-2021 Pacesetter Seniors:

“Each year it gets harder and harder to see seniors leave.  We build relationships that grow each year in a different way depending on their maturity, events in their lives, or leadership roles.  

Sophie is a first-year pacesetter that brings light to the team with her spunk and humble attitude.  She is a quick learner and blends well with the team.  I wish she would have tried out sooner, but so happy she did it for at least one year.  

Alexandra is my Lieutenant Colonel on the team and a 3rd-year dancer. Each year her confidence grows more and more, and I have definitely seen her bloom into a beautiful dancer.  The amazing quality that I will miss about her, is her way to turn hurdles into opportunities.  Opportunities to grow, learn and teach.  Alex is a great motivator for the team and for me.  I will miss her daily De Waal interruptions, just so she could say, ” I love you”.

Milagros is Major for the Pacesetter team and a 3rd-year dancer.  I have known Mily since she was a freshman and enjoyed her bright personality in the classroom as well as with the team.  She is the most talented dancer with the humblest demeanor. She has more love and gratitude in her little finger than most people display in their lifetime. I will miss her radiant smile and goofy ways. 

Jewels will probably be the hardest hit to my heart from this year’s senior group.  Jewels and I started at the same time and she is one of my original dancers once I became director of the pacesetters. We have grown together each year learning new ways to improve this team.  She is truly a talented dancer that will sacrifice herself for other’s success. Jewels has taught me patience, professionalism, and reflection through conversations and events.  Like I said, each year in a different way my relationship grows with the pacesetters, Jewels has seen and been involved in every way.”

– Mrs. DeWaal

Congratulations to the 2021-2022 Pacesetter team, and good luck to all of the seniors in the years to come! Pride Pride!

The 2021-2022 Team: Rosemary Garcia, Kaitlyn Allen, Alexandra Garcia, Madison Peters, Xitlalli Hernandez, Sydney Sorola, Cristina Ramos, Sergio Gonzalez, Kasey Patel, Alexis Robles, Illeana Ochoa, Natalia Cano, Anisa Murillo, Jamine Carlos, Marisol Villarreal, Brianna Arevalo, Larissa Villarreal, Miranda Caballero, Beatriz Castor, Jecenia Guzman, Krista Gutierrez, Kendra Valle, Eboni Rivera, Yasmeen Diop, Autumn Tortes-McGinnis, Selena Cerda, Dolores Guel, Heather Akers, Saidee Almendarez, Aryanna Partida, Lorenza Gonzales, Bianca Perez, Belle Martel

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!