Student Spotlight


Senior pursues passion of playing harp



Senior Olivia Aleguas discovered one passion through the inability to perform another.

Although ballet is an important part of Aleguas’ life, constant injuries three years ago forced her to stop and take a longer break period than usual. She took advantage of this time out and began a new journey into the world of playing the harp.

“There are just so many things about playing the harp that make it the best thing. Just getting to have the opportunity to perform for others, for example,” Aleguas said.

The larger-than-usual instrument comes in a variety of sizes and costs. Harps will often range from a price of $3,000 to $189,000 depending on the model. Aleguas’ harp weighs about 45 pounds and stands three inches taller than she. Her instrument is considered small enough to carry; however, other harps often call for specialized carts for specific models.

Even though the harp is a cumbersome instrument to carry around, Aleguas chose the harp due to a unique song done by a singer under the stage name of Gregory and the Hawk.

“Meredith Godreau’s song ‘Landscape’ was actually the song that inspired me to play,” Aleguas said. “I ended up playing for the talent show this year. It was a really big accomplishment for me to be able to play the song that inspired me.”

Playing at the talent show for the Bay Factor also turned out to be one of the most important moments for Aleguas since she originally was not going to perform due to a car accident earlier that week. Knowing that the performance was for a good cause, Aleguas decided to continue with the show despite being shaken by the recent car accident.

“The energy from the crowd was amazing. Their reaction to my performance was just the motivation I needed after the accident,” Aleguas said. “It was a great night filled with friends and encouragement. Definitely a night that I will never forget.”

Playing for the talent show at the Bay has not been her only performance. Aleguas has also done volunteer performances at community centers.

“I always try to do volunteer performances when I can because I think it’s important to spread music,” she said. “I just want to continue playing for as long as I can and hopefully teach others.”

By playing at places in the community such as retirement homes, nature centers, and libraries, Aleguas said new people become exposed to her music and instrument.

“I think it’s really important to get it out there and try to inspire others,” she said.

Aleguas is not alone in these beliefs. Her harp teacher Charlene Conner performs with Aleguas at the American Harp Society’s community concerts. Ms. Conner, also president of the South Florida Chapter in the American Harp Society, exudes pride in Aleguas’ skills.

“Olivia is a very dedicated and fine harpist and a well rounded person with many strengths,” Ms. Conner said.

Aleguas has also spread inspiration and emotion into her family with her playing. Aleguas’ sister, sophomore Marisa Aleguas, said Olivia exudes raw beauty in her playing.

“Olivia’s playing inspires me to work hard and rise up to my full potential as she demonstrates she has done with each and every song,” Marisa said.

Marisa said her sister is able to portray intelligence and a bubbly, genuine personality behind every note. As she listens at home, Marisa is able to feel Olivia’s attitude, cheerfulness, and concentration behind every note during any practice.

Aleguas is able to deliver lyrical performances, which involve singing as well. In the end, she said her disadvantage in ballet created a new advantage in the unusual instrument of the harp by expressing herself in a way other than words.

“There are just so many things about playing the harp that make it the best thing. Just getting to have the opportunity to perform for others,” she said, “that’s probably the biggest thing that I like about playing the harp.”

Print Friendly

Read the full story


Junior plays piano, composes music



Although for most just listening to music is sufficient, junior Sam Friefeld takes his passion for music a step further by producing his own.

Ever since he was 8 years old, Friefeld has been playing the piano, taking after his father and older brother, who play as well.

“I started playing mostly because my dad wanted me to, but I’ve grown to love it over the years,” Friefeld said.

Even though Friefeld said he loves playing the piano, and often participating in recitals, practicing once a week with his teacher didn’t satisfy his need to be more involved with music. About two years ago, after experimenting with the piano, trumpet, saxophone and drums, Friefeld realized he wanted to produce his own music.

“I really got into electronic music because there’s a whole plethora of things that you can do and different noises and songs you can make,” Friefeld said. “I really like it because it allows you to express your inner feelings and beliefs and how you are at the moment, and even your spirit, in the form of music.”

Friefeld’s family has gotten used to him playing the piano, and has recently gotten used to him blasting his mixes.

“Sam’s always been playing the piano, and when he started using computer programs to edit his music, I thought it was really unique,” said Emily Friefeld, Sam’s twin sister, who also plays the piano.

Friefeld said he was inspired after going to Ultra Music Festival in March 2013 because he had the chance to see what it’s really like to produce and mix music.

“After seeing Madeon’s set, I realized how cool it would be to produce my own music, especially after seeing someone my age that does it,” said Friefeld, referring to a producer from France. “I then realized I could be doing the same thing and really enjoying it. He’s such an inspiration because he uses things like mini-pads to make his music.”

Friefeld’s mom, Ayala Friefeld, said Sam’s music interests have shifted since he started playing at age 8.

“Sam went from listening to classical music every night to enjoying electronic and rap music even more,” Mrs. Friefeld said. “But he’s always enjoyed composing his own music and playing the piano.”

Friefeld taught himself how to produce and mix his songs. Using programs like Fruity Loops, Logic Pro 10, Native Instruments and Abelton, Friefeld said he learned how to incorporate his musical skills to a techno-sounding music genre. He uses sites such as SoundCloud and iTunes to publish his creations.

“In my songs, I incorporate piano by first playing it and recording it, and then transferring it to the song,” he said.

Even if it’s just producing a few songs, Friefeld said producing music will always stay with him.

“I can’t see myself doing something that doesn’t involve music,” Friefeld said.

Print Friendly

Read the full story


Sophomore gains new experiences through global travel


Sophomore Mitchell Woolley has traveled “around the world in 15 years.” England, India, Aruba, Ridgewood, N.J., and Weston are all the places Woolley has lived, due to his father’s job with the Marriott hotel chain.


After moving to Weston this past summer, Woolley said he likes the fact that he has had so many international experiences.

“It was interesting and very different. Being exposed to so many different cultures made me more open-minded, and it made me think about life as a whole more, rather than the people around me,” Woolley said.

Woolley describes his travels as eye-opening, since he gained new experiences that most people would not have, with moving to India and Aruba and traveling to other continents such as Asia and Africa.

“Driving to school in India (which took about 45 minutes), you’d see something new every single day,” Woolley said. “You could see elephants in the road. You’d have lots of beggars, you’d have children and infants knock on your window and try and get money and food from you. There were people who would injure themselves so you’d have pity on them, and then you’d pay them money. It was disturbing.”

Before coming to Weston, Woolley lived in Mumbai, India for three years. Woolley said his favorite thing about living in India was the education system at the American School of Bombay, which was through the International Baccalaureate (IB) program, which has four different programs for students 3-19 to “help develop the intellectual, personal, emotional and social skills to live, learn and work in a rapidly globalizing world,” according to the IB website.

“The school was really, really good. They had a different style of teaching there which I liked as well,” Woolley said. “It was more open-minded thinking, and more critical thinking in general, so there wasn’t always just one answer to every question. I really liked that.”

Woolley also said through his school, he had many opportunities to go on trips, and on one of them, he met the possible heir to the Dalai Lama.

His father, John Woolley, is Marriott’s area director of sales and marketing for the Caribbean and has worked for the hotel for 13 years.

“I love my job, because it’s enabled me to travel around to some very interesting places. It’s very much a people’s business. Interpersonal skills are very important,” Mr. Woolley said.

Mitchell said he tries his best to keep in contact with his friends from Bombay, but it can be hard because of the distance and time difference.

“With my friends in India, it’s a 9½ hour time difference, so I need to stay up pretty late if I wanted to talk to them, or wake up pretty early. So it’s difficult,” he said. “But, for instance, I’ll play video games with them when I can.”

His father has learned how to deal with communication issues with his family, since he is traveling for his job about three weeks out of every month.

“Generally, it is a positive thing, because we’ve had a chance to meet some very interesting people and go to some very fascinating places. I would say the one negative is that you tend to not be with your friends and with your family. You don’t see them too much,” Mr. Woolley said.

Mr. Woolley also described an experience in India which he would never see anywhere else.

“When we were opening a hotel in a town called Chandigarh (in India) and we had to work with the owner to open the hotel correctly and in a timely manner. At one point, all of us got into rather a heated discussion and an argument, and after five minutes the tension really broke. This fellow, he all of a sudden started singing in Punjabi,” Mr. Woolley said. “It completely broke the ice and everybody got back to work and went on with their business. It’s something entirely unexpected that wouldn’t happen in western culture, but was completely normal for Indian culture.”

Both Mitchell and Mr. Woolley said their favorite part of India was the optimistic quality of the Indian people, no matter what the conditions.

“Despite the majority of people living in bad conditions, people were so friendly and open to things,” Mitchell said. “They were curious and generally interested in talking to you and learning about our culture.”

His father agreed.

“One aspect of India that was just remarkable was that it doesn’t matter

if you’re incredibly wealthy or really, really poor. Indians just have this constant optimism about them,” Mr. Woolley said.

Besides the people, Mr. Woolley also enjoyed the lively quality of Mumbai.

“The chaos that you see in Mumbai – all the traffic, police officers, the people out in the street. It’s the polar opposite to being in Weston. India seems so much more alive, even though you have all this chaos, you feel like you’re alive there,” Mr. Woolley said.

Mitchell also described the community service, which he started in sixth grade, through his school in Mumbai.

“I’ve taken part in way more community service at an earlier age. People really need it there,” he said. “There’s terrible poverty there and the police are corrupt. You could really commit most crimes and pay 100 rupees ($2) and get away with it. The police really only have their jobs so they can get bribes. They need help.”

Mitchell and his school also worked with a foundation called Akanksha, where participants traveled to a slum in Mumbai.

“There were kids there who were especially smart, yet they weren’t in the right circumstance to be able to excel, since they had nothing. They were lucky to be going to school at all. We brought them and introduced them to technology, we taught them basics, but it could help them. They were just so curious and eager to learn,” he said.

Besides the immense impact India had on both Mitchell and his father, he said New Jersey was his other favorite place to live. He was there longest, for eight years.

I liked living in New Jersey because it was really simple and I didn’t know what it was like to live anywhere else. I liked having the four seasons and snow. It was great,” he said.

As for Mr. Woolley, his favorite place he has lived so far has been New York City, and the place he would like to visit most in the future is South America.

“It just has an exciting buzz about it. There’s always something to do and really a different experience around the corner every minute of the day,” Mr. Woolley said. “Traveling more in South America would be very interesting.”

Mitchell said he also lived on the island of Aruba for two years, where he enjoyed the education system as well at the International School of Aruba.

“I think Aruba was also very interesting, since it’s very close to America, but it’s also very different in the sense that the schools are very small,” he said. “There were only 150 people in the whole school. It was the first time I had ever moved internationally, so it was kind of eye-opening to see what it was like.”

Woolley said he is still trying to adjust to the Bay’s size and atmosphere, since it is a lot bigger than the schools he has went to in the past.

“I like it here so far. My old school had about 750 people, and that was quite a lot for me already, compared to the one before that. But 4,400 is crazy. I’m still kind of adjusting to it, but it’s good,” he said.

Although Woolley enjoys the experiences he has had through traveling because of his father’s job, he does not want to pursue the same career.

“It’s eye-opening and you get to see new things, but I think I’ve seen quite a lot,” he said.  “I’m not sure if I want to commute as much later on in life.”

Print Friendly

Read the full story


Senior raises environmental awareness through photography


Student Spotlight is a recurring segment that showcases a student every month who is selected randomly, in order to illustrate that every student has a story. JuanitaCastro, staff writer for The Circuit, counted the third person who walked out of the Ecology Club Meeting. Castro interviewed senior Kimberly Morales for this month’s profile.


Senior Kimberly Morales proudly identifies herself as “tree-hugger.” Morales, the secretary of the Ecology Club, a member of Art Honor Society, and the co-president of the Photography Club has dedicated much of her high school experience to her love of the environment and raising awareness with her art and photography not only at school, but on an larger scale.

“I found my love for photography and art through my devotion for the environment,” Morales said. “I’m so happy that I have a healthy outlet to express my interests.”

Morales said what she has learned through her club activities has impacted how she sees life and her future.

“Photography has allowed me to get a more in-depth view of my natural surroundings,” she said. “After seeing the amazing shots that I can take, I chose to focus all of my photography on nature. Art Honor Society and its members showed me that art can used to tell a story, and with that story, change can be potentially implemented. Ecology Club has allowed me to actually conduct activities and events that will further help me to fulfill my desire in protecting the environment.”

An active volunteer at Flamingo Gardens and Long Key Nature Center, Morales dedicates her time to these causes.

“I help keep the botanical gardens maintained by weeding, picking up trash, and planting native flora,” Morales said.

She does not just limit her activism to South Florida.

“This past summer I went to Costa Rica on a community service and environmental program,” Morales said. “The trip consisted of helping out in local, impoverished communities, clearing trails and planting over 500 trees to bring an ecosystem back to health.”

When she returned from Costa Rica, she applied what she learned to South Florida’s landscape, particularly the Everglades. Morales returned to Cypress Bay to promote the idea of a more ecologically-sound campus.

“Once school started, I saw the flyers for Ecology Club and attended my first meeting,” she said. “I was fortunate enough to be nominated as secretary and I enjoy working alongside the other officers to plan environmentally-oriented activities and events, such as beach clean ups or picking up trash. We work to make sure the world we live in is clean and we give back what we take from the Earth.”

Now the club’s co-president, Morales dedicates much of her photography to observing nature and natural aesthetics.

“Coming into the club as a freshman, I knew little to nothing about photography and what it requires,” Morales said. “I started getting better by attending the meetings and learning new skills and lessons. I have been a member ever since and have grown so much from the experience.”

Elizabeth Jenkins, the Photography Club sponsor, said that she wishes other students had the same morale as Morales.

“She’s got great ideas to get people involved and she works hard to get her artwork and photography out in the community and raise awareness not just for the club, but for the issues we address,” Mrs. Jenkins said.

Morales said that her clubs have impacted her life in a way that makes her more conscious of her choices, as well as helping her find balance.

“I love being involved in so many clubs because it’s a great way to pursue what I love and find a constructive way to spend my time. I divide my time up between extracurriculars and outdoor activities like surfing or hiking,” she said.

Bia Gasparetto, in the Photo Club with Morales, said that she has nothing but good things to say about her club’s president.

“Kimi’s photographs are absolutely amazing,” Gasparetto said. “I love that she takes pictures of nature because to her, it’s something that’s more than just a pretty flower or a tree. To her, it’s personal.”

Gasparetto said Morales inspires her to pursue her own passions and to help take care of the world.

”Kimi has taught me that it’s as simple as turning off the lights after you leave the room, or turning off the tap, or making sure your candy wrapper hits the trash can and not the ground,” Gasparetto said. “It’s the little things, and those little things are what can change the way we look at the Earth.”

Mrs. Jenkins said that in order to help make the world a better place, everyone has to start individually, the same way that Morales does.

“Cypress Bay could stand to be a bit more environmentally conscientious,” Mrs. Jenkins said. “We could start with picking some of the garbage we see lying all over the ground. It’s ironic, really, because the Bay has such great kids that sometimes take so little pride in their school and how it looks. It’s saddening that there are as few students as Kimi that are involved with protecting the world around them. We need to love our Earth.”

Morales said she wishes to pursue a career in environmental studies and cultural ecology, and to continue with photography. She plans to dedicate the rest of her high school career trying to get other students to notice the world around them.

“The program in Costa Rica allowed me to work through the eyes of an environmental scientist,” she said. “After conducting projects oriented around reforestation, human impact on the environment, and restoring ecosystems back to health, a passion was instilled in me to prevent extensive damage to our world’s natural landscape. Growing up in a surf culture has also allowed me to have a profound respect and admiration for the environment. It’s a topic that most people overlook which is horrifying. The more we deplete and harm the environment, the more we lose the only home we have. There is a balance to everything, and we must find that balance.”

Print Friendly

Read the full story


Senior makes the most of school transfers


Student Spotlight is a recurring segment that showcases a student every month who is selected randomly, in order to illustrate that every student has a story. Paula Martins, staff writer for The Circuit, was waiting inside of the cafeteria to question the third person that walked in. Martins interviewed his for this month’s profile.

photoWhen senior Luis Fernandez was 6 years old, he experienced the first of six school transfers that would continue while he was growing up due to family circumstances. Instead of viewing this negatively, Fernandez said he never let it interfere with his positive outlook on life.

“My last switch to Cypress junior year was definitely the best,” he said.

Fernandez has attended two elementary schools, one middle school and three high schools, all in Florida.

“After spending my freshman year at Western High School, switching to virtual school as a sophomore was by far the worst because I felt so cut off from my friends and the world,” he said.

Fernandez said he had a tough time adjusting to the pros and cons of virtual school.

“The only good thing about Virtual School was the flexible hours,” Fernandez said. “I might get annoyed by having to wake up early every day for public school, but I’d pick having the company of some good, funny teachers and friends instead of taking my classes in isolation every day.”

Although he was not able to see his friends often, he said it was not difficult for him to keep in touch with them through the use of social networking sites and sporadic social gatherings.

“Even though I didn’t stay close with all of my friends from the past, I managed to maintain some great friendships,” Fernandez said.

Fernandez said his personality played a big role in the way he coped with each new school.

“Starting over at each school wasn’t too difficult,” Fernandez said. “Considering that I can get along with pretty much anyone, it was easy making new friends and keeping ones from my previous years in other schools.”

As Fernandez approaches graduation and adulthood, he is thankful for his experience throughout the years.

“I learned about the importance of social interaction and getting my priorities straight, two essential elements I will use in my life,” he said.

Print Friendly

Read the full story


Karate serves as ongoing passion for student

Student Spotlight is a recurring segment that showcases a student every month who is selected randomly, in order to illustrate that every student has a story. Anna Schifter, staff writer for The Circuit, was walking out of Student Affairs as junior Erika Parjus walked in. Schifter interviewed her for this month’s profile. 


Even with karate classes five times a week, junior Erika Parjus never gets tired of the sport.  Starting at the age of 7, Parjus said she immediately fell in love with it.

“When my family first moved from Venezuela to Miami, my mom had signed my brother and I up for karate classes in our neighborhood,” Parjus said. “About three years after we moved to Weston, my dad found my current karate school, Asaka Karate School.”

Parjus began karate competitively at the age of 7. Since then, she has competed in over 50 competitions and acquired a medal count of 40. Competing has allowed her to meet people from all over the world.

“Ironically, competing is how you make friends in karate,” Parjus said. “I’ve met athletes from Japan all the way to Australia to Venezuela and then some. Personally, competing with friends is a win-win because it makes me want to try much harder to beat them. But if they win, we’re all happy our team managed to snag another medal.”

use1Parjus, who is a black belt in karate, said she still has more to learn, and there is always room for improvement. She said she believes karate never ends.

“Karate, in every sense of the word, is a challenge,” Parjus said.  “Many people assume that once you have a black belt in karate, you’ve mastered everything you could possibly know about the sport. Once you get your black belt, that’s when you really start to learn the essentials of karate. Not to mention, the sense of accomplishment I get from changing belts is completely indescribable.”

Parjus said that karate is a great way to relieve stress in a controlled environment.

“I plan on opening my own karate school during college because karate is something that I’ve used as an escape from a stressful day at school and I feel like others should have that opportunity as well,” Parjus said.

Senior Jessica Bukstel, who also attends the Asaka Karate School, said the dojo they both attend can be considered a family because they are all so close.

“I’ve known Erika for about five years now and I know she really enjoys karate,” Bukstel said. “It’s a sport that she loves probably because she loves the people who do it as well. That has a big impact.”

Bukstel, who started karate at the age of 8, said the love of the sport and all of the people that help support her is also what drives Parjus to do better.

“It’s also a really fun environment that just makes us happy,” Bukstel said. “You can walk in angry and leave with a smile. To become great, to push so hard and finally be rewarded, is something that no amount of money could buy.”

Parjus and Bukstel both agree that their teammates are extremely supportive of one another.

“When I lose, I get really disappointed with myself for about a good five minutes, but then my teammates are always there to cheer me up and offer me suggestions for the next time I face the same opponent,” Parjus said.

Parjus said for people looking to learn karate, not to be afraid of the intimidation of the sport.

“Karate is one of the best possible sports out there as it combines the relaxation of yoga with the adrenaline pumping moves of kick-boxing,” Parjus said. “It’s a great way to make connections internationally and make some of the best friendships in the world.”

Print Friendly

Read the full story


Should students have access to view their class ranking?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

The Circuit Twitter Feed