Chorus receives high ratings at MPA

BY ZOE BIRGER Screen shot 2015-03-17 at 2.18.06 PM

Chorus attended Music Performance Assessments (MPA) at Monarch High School and Cypress’ four choirs received superior ratings. They will be attending Florida Choral States competition in April at American Heritage High School.

Junior Katherine Miller said she loved watching all the schools perform and had a good time.

“Cypress Bay sang first before everyone else which was really cool,” Miller said. “We got to watch all the other performances and it was really fun.”

The Bay performed the songs “Poor Man Lazarus” by Jester Hairson and “Dance on my Heart” by Allen Koepke.

“I think there are so many talented people in Cypress’ choir and we all sounded really amazing together,” Miller said. “We deserved the scores we got.”

At competitions, students must go through three different activities. First they warm up, then perform on stage, and then they must sight read, which is where the students read music they’ve never seen before and they have to use skills from class in order to perform the music.

“It’s not just performing songs, it is showing people that you’ve learned how to read music, so it’s a neat experience,” chorus adviser Brad Franks said.

At the States competition in April at American Heritage, around 60 choirs from around South Florida will be attending.

“There can be multiple choirs from just one school,” Mr. Franks said. “There are four choirs just from Cypress that will be attending. I’m extremely excited to go to our states competition.”


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DECA chapter breaks records at state competition


Ninety-seven students from the Bay competed at DECA States in Orlando on March 6-7. This year’s participants had the most wins in Cypress Bay’s history, with 28 groups and individuals placing in the top five.

The first day was for presenting business plans, and the second day was for the multiple choice testing based on their respective events.

“[After states] around 40 kids will be able to compete at an international level, so it’s super awesome,” adviser Danielle Nascimento said.

Nine students received first place in their events: sophomore Deven Reyes and junior Leah Percal in Buying and Merchandising Operations Research; junior Austin Hanan in Hospitality and Tourism Professional Selling; senior Taly Mayer and junior Sabine Streit in Entrepreneurship Written; juniors Jenna Udell and Nicole Rothman in International Business Plan; junior Jacob Cohen in Sports and Entertainment Promotion Plan; and senior Ramal Pitts in Financial Consulting.

“The competition was amazing even though my judges were the hardest judges I’ve ever had,” Pitts said.  “They were really intimidating, and there were a lot of people in my category from other schools that are really hard to beat. I was prepared and had done my best, and it paid off.”

Financial Consulting is a new event consisting of a 20-minute presentation in front of a judge and 100-question test. This is Pitts second year wining and competing. Last year, he competed in Restaurant Food Service Management and this year, he competed in Financial Consulting. Cohen was another competitor who worked hard to accomplish his goals.

“I think I did well because I practiced,” Cohen said. “For nationals, I intend to practice harder by doing practice tests and looking over my paper.”

Cohen said he is excited for nationals, and it is his third consecutive year getting first place at states. He said if he had the chance, he would go back and compete again. Some students competed as a team, such as Reyes and Percal.

“The competition was one of the best experiences I’ve had during high school,” Reyes said. “Meeting people from all over Florida and connecting with kids from my school were great. When I placed, it was the most exciting moment. I did not expect to be called [during awards], so this really surprised me, and I was thrilled.”

Reyes and Percal placed in Buying and Merchandising Operations Research. In order to qualify for states, they had to write a 30-page research paper on the category. Their presentation was about marketing to an underserved generation of Asics, which is a shoe company.

“I feel I did very well because my partner, Leah, and I put as much practice and effort into the presentation and paper as we could,” Reyes said. “We will be preparing even more for nationals to produce the best possible paper and presentation.”

Mayer and Streit had to create their own business and write a business plan for it. Mayer said the business they made up was called Vets4pets, which is a mobile vet business that provides the comfort of taking care of pets’ medical needs in the owners’ driveway. This way, pet owners don’t have to stress about taking their pets to the vet, and the company takes care of it.

“Competitions are some of the most rewarding things ever, but at the same time, also stressful,” Mayer said. “While you are presenting in front of the judges, your heart falls, and you feel that you’re going to pass out, but getting your name called is the best feeling.”

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Rising seniors get new scheduling option


Junior Jenna Wong has been juggling sports, academics, and other activities for the past three years just. Wong, along with other busy rising seniors, will have a new schedule option beginning next year that may help meet those needs: the senior privilege option.

This schedule will give the students who have a 3.5 GPA or higher and are on the right track to complete their graduation credits a free first or eighth hour.

Wong plans on leaving school early, to get ahead during her senior year.

“Instead of eighth hour, I’ll be either dual enrolling to get my classes done at BC, or spending extra time at home doing my homework along with college apps,” Wong said.

Administrators including assistant principal Debra Santoro put a lot of thought into how to relieve students’ stress during senior year.

“The administrators and I were looking at different options, trying to figure out a way to accommodate our seniors by freeing them up, which would relieve stress and provide service to students because they earned it,” Mrs. Santoro said.

Mrs. Santoro said she is a big supporter of this new privilege for the students who have worked hard and deserve a break.

“I think it’s a great opportunity to allow students to have more choices and give them more time and flexibility in a day, to get everything done on time,” she said.

Wong is happy for the opportunity.

“This schedule will help with my time management more because it will give me more time and opportunities to do school work and get ahead in each class,” she said.

Junior Robert Pitter said he considers himself a well-rounded student and that with this new schedule, he will use his time to practice more football and focus on his rigorous schedule, such as AP Physics, Calculus Honors, AICE Thinking Skills, AP Human Geography, and Government and Economics Honors.

“I feel the new senior schedule option will help me finish all of my work on time, since I’m often overloaded with school work and football. It will also give me a chance to better condition for football and do college apps,” he said, adding, “I’ve put my all into my high school career, and I feel because of that I deserve a little break along with other kids who have worked just as hard as me.”

Junior Brett Steinman said this program permits more freedom for students.

“This privilege will definitely help with the stress I’ve been feeling all these years, because I will have more time for rest and school work,” he said.

This privilege will allow Steinman to get a job and put more hours into it, since he will have more time on his hands.

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FSA glitches cause test to be postponed


Freshmen and sophomores started the week off on March 2 expecting to take the Florida Standard Assessment (FSA); little did they know it was going to be postponed.

The FSA was scheduled for March 2 and 3, but it had to be postponed to March 6 for sophomores and March 9 for freshmen due to glitches and malfunctions in the computer system. One issue was that the program suddenly shut down or exited out on its own. Half of the freshmen took the test with glitches, and everyone else couldn’t take the test at the originally designated time.

“The state had some issues with the program itself and recommended that schools not open another session because students were having a hard time accessing it,” said reading coach Adrienne Maisel, who also oversees testing.FSA ABBY

The FSA is taking the place of the FCAT. In the previously used Florida Writes, students only had to respond to a random prompt, while the FSA requires students to read two stories and then respond to a prompt about those stories.

“The FSA is more like something you would write when you’re in college,” Mrs. Maisel said.

The malfunction occurred in Broward County and Miami-Dade County. The computer system was working for other schools throughout the state.

“Cypress Bay actually got lucky because although we had some errors with some students, they were minor,” Mrs. Maisel said. “Other schools in Broward and Miami-Dade County had major problems with it.”

While the state was trying to fix glitches and bugs, sophomore Kelly Hewitt said she was relieved and ecstatic when she walked into school and found out the test had been cancelled the first time.

“My English teacher has been preparing us for this test, and it really got me nervous because I’m not good at writing,” she said after the test was postponed. “Even though I know we’re eventually going to have to take it, I’m just relieved that it’s not this week.”

English teacher Ashley Hendricks said it is really stressful for students not to know when the test is going to take place because they need to be mentally and physically prepared.

“I think it’s really frustrating for both students and teachers, and I believe they should get all the kinks out before we try it again,” she said.

Freshman Daniella Martinez was one of the students who were not able to take the test on the original date.

“I just think it’s really annoying that we had to wait to take the test because I was already prepared, and having it rescheduled added on to the stress of taking it,” Martinez said.

Freshman Madeleine Zarfati took the FSA on the originally scheduled day of March 2.

“I liked the topic because it was an easy prompt to write about, but I was very anxious and scared I wouldn’t finish on time,” she said. “All in all, I’m glad I was one of the ones that could submit the test without a problem on the day it was scheduled.”

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Purim event held for Holocaust survivors


Senior Sophia Torres along with nine other Cypress Bay students from Leslie Rheingold’s Holocaust History class with the help of JFS (Jewish Family Service) put together a Purim event for Holocaust survivors. They held a brunch with live music on March 3 at Century Village in Pembroke Pines and hosted 150 survivors.

Torres was the leader of the event and contacted JFS, saying that she wanted to have a strictly student-run event for Holocaust survivors.   unnamed-1

“JFS came to our Holocaust History class and talked to us about survivors and volunteer opportunities,” Torres said. “After listening to all the options the one that triggered the most attention was coordinating a brunch for all survivors.”

An account was made on a website called where people from all over the world could donate to help raise money to buy materials to put together the event like food and decorations.

“The website was a huge help because we got donations from different states and from people we didn’t even know,” Torres said. “We ended up raising $1,200 in donations.”

Torres said most survivors at the event already knew each other, but there was one woman named Geanette Pelcam who saw for the first time someone she lived with in a concentration camp with until being liberated in 1945.

“At the event, Geanette approached me ecstatic to share that she just ran into a friend she made during the Holocaust,” Torres said. “After moving to Florida 23 years ago, Geanette reconnected with many survivors who live in Century Village as she does.”

Holocaust survivor Michael Sadek was one who shared his story.  unnamed-6

“I started off in a ghetto in Poland then ran away underground to a Polish lady who took my family and me in until she got scared of the Germans,“ Mr. Sadek said. “I had to live in the fields after and survived there until the war was over. It was a miracle.”

Junior Jordan Keller sang the national anthem of the U.S.; the national anthem of Israel, “Hatikvah”; “The Sound of Music”; and “Somewhere over the Rainbow.”

“I felt like I was able to give them a bit of positive memories from the past, despite all of the terrible things they went through,” Keller said. “Music has always been a huge support, and it touches so many people’s lives.”

In Mrs. Rheingold’s class, students have been learning about the ghettos that Jews were forced to live in. They learned that in the ghettos music had a big impact on their lives because it was what kept them going every day. For this reason, Torres thought it would be important to bring music and songs they would enjoy.

“They were all mesmerized by Keller’s singing. They felt young again and you could tell by the look in their eyes. It was beautiful and having her sing really helped bring the event together,” Torres said.

The survivors enjoyed a bagel brunch. They also each got goody bags that had Purim items like groggers and Hamentashen cookies that junior Alex Zeidel provided.

“The survivors were all so happy to have received the goody bags,” Zeidel said. “I’m so happy we gave them that because many of them would ask for one or two more so they could take them back to their grandchildren.”

unnamed-5Torres said since she will be leaving for college soon, she hopes that the rest of the group will continue with JFS and plan more events. Junior Beau Ritkes, who helped raise money and was part of the group, said the event was an overall success and would like to plan more.

“This event was a really nice way for me to express the respect I have for these people,” Ritkes said. “I have distant relatives that were affected by the Holocaust so I know they would be proud of me. I would definitely do it again and I’d love to develop lasting relationships with the survivors.”

Torres went to JFS in Plantation afterwards and talked to the advisers and only got positive feedback. Many survivors contacted JFS and told them that they had fun especially being around teens.

“It really means a lot to me and everyone else who helped that everyone enjoyed the event, because we put so much effort into this without any outside or school help,” Torres said.

Mrs. Rheingold was very proud of her students because they pulled together an amazing event.

“I introduced the program to them and they took it onto their own hands without me having to babysit them or anything,” Mrs. Rheingold said. “It meant a lot to me that they did an amazing thing out of the goodness of their hearts not for a grade or any other purpose.”

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Art Honor Society hosts annual Style Your Sole event



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Eating Disorder Awareness Day spreads positivity


The halls were filled with students dressed from head to toe in purple apparel for Eating Disorder Day on Feb. 25. Student Government Association (SGA) set up a booth in the courtyard during all lunch periods with a mirror and Post-It notes of quotes reminding every student of his or her beauty. unnamed-2

Psychologist Reeva Ramcharan came to the event as a guest speaker and spoke in the auditorium in eighth period about disorders and the negative effects on the body and on self-esteem.

SGA adviser Danielle Nascimento said approximately 500 students attended the informational assembly, where Dr. Ramcharan spoke, which was more than they expected.

unnamed-5Freshman Emilie Vargas, who planned the event, said she was very happy she helped put it together because she knew the disorders could potentially harm any student at the school.

“The message that I was trying to get across to students was that we all have our close friends and family, and this is the moment in which we can all do our part in letting anyone with this disorder know that they are not alone,” Vargas said.

Dr. Ramcharan said it is very important to educate people about eating disorders and what causes them.

“Eating disorders seem to be a way that people choose to cope with their struggles and that can be due to stress and anxiety,” Dr. Ramcharan said. “One of the best ways to manage stress and anxiety is to be able to make sure to have enough time every day and every week to include relaxation, exercise, and appropriate nutrition. By being able to give yourself enough time to care for your mind and body, overall you’re able to reduce stress.”

Freshman Aaron Lerner said listening to the guest speaker improved his knowledge on the detrimental consequences.carly s

“I learned what to do and how to deal with a loved one if they ever get an eating disorder,” Lerner said. “The speaker, Dr. Ramcharan, taught me a great amount of new facts that I would have never known before.”

Sophomore Reilly Markowitz said he was glad to learn about eating disorders and was surprised to find out that one in four people suffers from them.

Freshman Sara Schlussel worked at the awareness booth during lunch, painting purple hearts on people’s hands and writing notes of love and support.

“Everyone who walked by and saw the booth really enjoyed leaving Post-It notes about being beautiful. It really encouraged people to love themselves just the way they are,” she said.

Vargas said that the idea she wanted to get across to the students was that if they or a loved one is struggling from an eating disorder, they are not alone.

“Anyone struggling with an eating disorder should know that there are many people here to comfort them.  I wanted these students to know that they had the entire student body supporting them and this day could help them gain the courage to get treatment and bring more awareness for years to come,” Vargas said.


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Book Drive donates novels to children’s hospital


The Harry Potter Club, along with the help of Book Club, hosted a Book Drive from Feb. 9-20. All of the approximately 600 books collected were donated to Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital.

DSC04835“I’m very excited that we partnered up with Book Club to do this because we got a lot more books than we expected,” Harry Potter Club president Sami Orlando said.

Students dropped off books in first period classes, and the winner, which was Ben Miller’s first hour class, was rewarded with a doughnut party after the Book Drive was over.

This year was the first year both clubs had ever held a Book Drive, so it came as a surprise to them when they received such a large number. Book Club president Rachel Gordon said she felt great about donating to a good cause.

“No matter how many books we collected, it is always amazing to help others in our community, which is what we strived to do and achieved,” Gordon said.

The majority of the children’s books are going to the children directly, and the adult books will be given to the bookstore where the proceeds will benefit the hospital.DSC04836

Orlando also added that the rest of the books collected would go to the Harry Potter Alliance, which is a fundraiser under the company Accio Books. This fundraiser, with the help of Harry Potter fans worldwide, donates books to underprivileged children globally.

“Donating books to the Harry Potter Alliance is very important because for some kids, little things like books are a luxury,” Orlando said. “Some can’t even learn to read because they can’t afford to buy books, or there are no books in their area, and that’s sad.”

Orlando said she feels that granting children the opportunity to read will teach them how to have passion and excitement for reading, and she is glad that she was able to make a difference in children’s lives.

“Overall, the Book Drive was great, and I hope we get to do this next year,” Gordon said.

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Robotics Team excels at state competition


The Grease Lightning Robotics Team won first place trophies in Promotion and Motivation, and it won an honorable mention for the Connect Award for community service at the state competion on Feb. 14 at St. Leo High School in Tampa.

It was really fun to work with my teammates at states and celebrate our accomplishment of being able to qualify for the national competition,” said sophomore Jessica Rozen.

Physics teacher Angela Ashley, Robotics Team coordinator, said that she is very proud of the students for advancing to nationals for the second year in a row. There are around 40 students on the team, but 15 students are active and participate in competitions.League Championship

“They were the more prepared going into the states competition than they have been for the past five years,” Ms. Ashley said. “I was very pleased with their accomplishments and teamwork. They worked very hard as a team, which is what I think allowed them to participate in the state competition. ”

Junior Savannah Lipke said the team is preparing for nationals by adjusting its robot. Nationals is from March 11-14 in San Antonio, Texas.

“We have a detailed schedule that we are following to make sure we are ready for nationals, so I feel that we will be ready to compete” Lipke said. “We almost have our robot done and completed because we are following our schedule.”

Rozen said the team participated in a program called For Inspiration and Recognition for Science and Technology (FIRST). The team had to build its own robot for the current FIRST Tecnology Challenge (FTC) game. The robot is made out of Textrix, a type of metal. She said it has a great drive train, which is the part that causes the robot to move.

“We are given a new game each year, and we construct a program and entire robot for the competition. This year’s robot is named Sandy, based on our theme of Grease Lighting,” Rozen said.

Previously, the team participated in the league championship, a qualifier for states, on Jan. 23 at Western High School. The team took home first place trophies in the areas of Robot Performance and Judging. The team qualified for the state competition for the fifth year in a row. It ranked first out of the top 24 teams, beating the current world champions, Eagles Robotics Xperience from Atlantic Community High School in Delray Beach.

Ms. Ashley said the team was judged on the pre-built robot’s performance and the rest on the team’s costume and spirit. The team used the senior class’s “Grease” car from its homecoming float to correlate with the team’s name, Grease Lightning.

“There definitely is a lot of pride associated with the team’s success,” Ms. Ashley said. “On the technical side, it had the best engineering notebook and the best interviewing skills. This means the team was the best overall team for its performance and judging.”

Ms. Ashley said the students rebuilt the robot over winter break, so they knew how to build the robot at the competition.

“They were able to score higher than they ever had scored at the league championship,” Ms. Ashley said. “I loved how well the Grease Lightning car worked for the competition because it worked with the theme and brought a lot of spirit to the competition.”

Junior Max Miller was one of the drivers. He carried the robot around the field and drove the robot for the judges.

“Winning this competition was a great improvement from one of our past meets,” Miller said. “At another meet, we won 10th place, so it was great to win first place and the most prestigious award at this competition.”

Senior Ashley Gilbert said she cheered not only for the Bay’s team but also for the other teams competing to help bring spirit.

“We are adding more to the spirit by painting everything, like the robot and the car. We are also doing a new spirit dance to ‘Jail House’,” Gilbert said.

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French Honor Society collects plastic caps for charity


The French Honor Society (FHS) is currently holding a fundraiser, Caps of Love, in which students donate plastic caps from water bottles in order to donate an electric wheelchair to someone in need. Senior Laura Munevar, FHS president, began the fundraiser on Feb. 5.

“In previous years, officers had talked about doing more charity work, and this year as president, I took the responsibility to provide new events to service people in need,” Munevar said. “I did some research and came to know that the organization, Caps Of Love, had actually begun in France and had then spread to the United States.”use

The caps that are donated are then sold to Blue Grass Recycling. With the money produced there, an electric wheelchair is purchased and then given to someone in need of one. Munevar said the goal is to collect up to 1,000 caps.

“The organization is in charge of giving the wheelchair to the disabled recipient, but we just take the initial step of collecting the caps and sending them to the recycling company,” Munevar said.

Although members of French Honor Society would be the only recipients of service hours in return for donations, everyone is encouraged to donate caps.

“I believe members do feel as if they are making a difference,” said senior Camille Chabeneix, FHS vice president. “Once you see the pictures on the website showing kids in the wheelchairs, it is impacting,”

So far, members have donated gallon-sized bags, and officers are hopeful that more donations are to come, Munevar said.

“Although the counting process is time consuming and difficult, we have received a vast amount of caps, and we are sure there will be more donations,” Chabeneix said.

Cap donations are not only useful for the primary cause of giving a wheelchair, but also help keep a green environment.

“Not only are we helping the environment by recycling caps, but we are also contributing to those in need by providing a wheelchair,” Munevar said. “With everyone’s collaboration, we can make a difference.”

Caps may be donated to sponsor Ms. Valdes in room 456. The deadline for the fundraiser has not yet been decided.

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