Hoco or noco: Students opt out of going to homecoming dance



While all of his friends will be attending homecoming on Oct. 18, junior Ben Kaner will be attending a debate tournament in the Bronx in New York.

“I kind of have to go, but I mostly chose to,” he said. “This is a very big tournament for debate and I can always go to homecoming and other events next year.”

Due to conflicts and the other personal choices, not everyone goes to the homecoming dance.

With tickets being $80, transportation ranging from $25 to $65 and the price of a dress being between $40 and $200, senior Sarah Dickerman doesn’t think that homecoming is an event that is worth it for the price of it all.

“It’s too expensive and it’s overcrowded,” Dickerman said. “I figured I could go to prom instead of homecoming.”

Freshman Amanda Chin does not feel like going to homecoming this year.

“I would rather go junior or senior year,” she said. “If I went this year, I probably wouldn’t go the other years.”

[caption id="attachment_5685" align="alignright" width="518" class=" "]SGA members sell tickets to students for homecoming during the designated ticket sale days on Oct. 1-3. SGA members sell tickets to students for homecoming during the designated ticket sale days on Oct. 1-3.[/caption]

Chin said that her friends are not going this year, so she decided not to either.

“I don’t know anyone going this year,” she said. “Not a lot of freshman end up going to homecoming. It would be worth going when I’m an upperclassmen, but not as a freshman.”

Sophomore Sterling Wertanzl is also attending the debate tournament in the Bronx. As a member of the varsity team, she chose to go to the tournament over homecoming.

“We travel a lot to compete nationally,” she said. “And it’s out of state, so it’ll be fun.”

SGA adviser Danielle Nascimento said that the dance is really the finale of the spirit week as a whole.

“What’s great is we do offer a lot of homecoming activities that don’t require anyone to buy anything, and we have a whole week of activities that are priceless,” she said. “The dance is just that finale at the end of the week, so it just allows people to experience the full entirety of homecoming.”

Wertanzl likes the idea that everyone can go to homecoming, including freshmen.

“I know that prom is only for seniors or whoever gets asked by a senior,” she said. “I like the concept of it. I like how it’s early in the year and it’s a fun thing that everyone can do.

Junior Ashley Callahan is going to homecoming for the second year in a row. She won sophomore homecoming princess last year and is running for junior homecoming princess this year.

“It was great seeing everyone dressed up, and just having such a good time,” she said. “The music was great, the decorations were awesome, it was just really fun.”

Callahan is looking forward to seeing how the decorations and new venue will turn out. She said that homecoming is an event that everyone should go to.

“It’s such a great way to have fun with your friends outside of school,” she said. “It’s a dance. Everyone loves music and having a good time. It’s cool going to a hotel and going to homecoming and it’s really fun.

Mrs. Nascimento said that homecoming is a high school event that students should experience.

“Homecoming is one of those experiences that people will remember when they leave here,” she said. “People should take advantage of as many of those experiences as they can, and homecoming is definitely one of them. If students haven’t been to our homecoming, they should go. They should experience it at least once in their high school career because it’s definitely a great time and definitely doesn’t compare to schools around the county.”

The homecoming dance will take place at the Westin Diplomat Resort and Spa in Hollywood on Oct. 18. The dance starts at 7:30 and entrance will not be granted after 8:30.

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Challenge Accepted: Students take on the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

Challenge Accepted: Students take on the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge




Dumping a bucket of ice water on oneself will not cure the fatal disease known as Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. However, videos of this trend have taken over social media, raised global awareness and over $115 million for the ALS Association.

Along with donating money, students at the Bay have taken on the ALS Challenge with a personal approach.

As an intern at Cleveland Clinic Hospital this past summer, junior Kendra Blandon worked directly with patients suffering from ALS while the challenge was exploding on social media networks.

“I got to meet a few patients when the challenge was just starting, so it was interesting to see the progression and how big the challenge got,” Blandon said. “At the beginning of my internship, I didn’t know what ALS was, but after I started talking to the patients, a woman I met was crying because she was so happy to see a video of her cousin doing the challenge.”

This experience encouraged Blandon to participate in the challenge herself. She said the challenges’ prevalence on social media helped raise awareness for the disease.

“Even if only half the people take the time to look it up, it is still raising awareness in someway,” she said. “Honestly, I would not have donated to ALS if it weren’t for the challenge because there were other charities that affected me more personally like the cancer research center at Cleveland Clinic. But when I did my challenge, I donated and asked all of my friends to donate as well.”

After losing her grandpa to ALS a few years ago, junior Lacey Larson was aware of the foundation before the challenge went viral online. Larson and all of her family members participated in the challenge and donated money.

“My family donates to ALS research with ALS Association, and we make sure we give back every bit that we can as a family to make sure people don’t have to go through what my grandpa went through,” she said.

Larson said none of her friends was aware of the disease before the challenge took effect on social media outlets. Her friend from New York nominated her for the challenge and she said it was amazing to see people from all over contributing to the foundation.

“It was nice to see that a disease that marginally affects people and completely consumes their lives, that people are taking recognition of it and realizing how much it harms someone and their family,” she said.

ALS is a horrible disease and the challenge is without a doubt raising awareness and money, but it is not a cure, sophomore Alex Schein said.

Schein, who has not been affected personally by the disease, contributed to the association by participating in the challenge and donating money.

“As the charitable person that I am, I understand the hardships that people have, so by doing the challenge I am spreading awareness and encouraging others to donate and spread awareness,” he said. “Millions of people are doing it. I think it is helpful to a certain extent. But now we really need to put this money to use and find a cure for these people who are suffering.”

From Twitter to Facebook, junior Sabrina Kim’s newsfeeds were flooded with videos of friends, teachers and even celebrities dumping ice on their heads.

I probably would not have known about ALS if it weren’t for the challenge,” Kim said. “The challenge has gotten so viral that it has become something that everyone knows about, which is awesome.”

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In a rush: high schoolers look forward to college sororities

[caption id="attachment_5539" align="alignright" width="610"]Florida State University's Alpha Delta Phi pledges pose on bid day. Florida State University’s Alpha Delta Phi pledges pose on bid day.[/caption]


Rush Week, also known as recruitment week for sororities, has recently concluded at college campuses across the nation. Schools such as University of Florida and Florida State University have Cypress Bay alum that have recently pledged to their dream sororities.

Girls and boys alike here at the Bay have been talking about the Rush Week hype. Students with future aspirations to join a sorority or fraternity have been living vicariously through those who have just finished pledging.

“Seeing Rush Week pictures and tweets makes me so excited for my future in college,” junior Georgi Cowan said.

Rush Week is a seven-day process in which “PNMs” (potential new members) go from house to house, being interviewed and analyzed by existing members of each sorority/fraternity.

The Greek community takes great pride in this week, as it determines who will be placed in each house. For some, observing this event was completely fascinating.

“It was really weird to watch. I heard it was really stressful,” UF freshman Andrea Quintero said. “It was really hot out, yet the girls still had to look nice while walking around campus. Some girls didn’t follow through with the entire rush week because they couldn’t handle the pressure. There are just so many rounds, and from my understanding you have to like the sorority and the sorority has to like you. There has to be a mutual connection between the house and the pledge.”

For Rachel Iserson, CBHS Class of 2014, pledging Gamma Phi Beta at FSU was well worth it.

“Overall, rush at FSU is a week’s worth of girl-flirting and uncomfortable shoes,” Iserson said. “Obviously it’s super nerve racking because every house is looking for something different and you don’t know what to expect.”

Picking a sorority is based on how well candidates associate with the girls in each house.

“I picked my sorority because each day that I went back the conversations were genuine and personal,” Iserson said. ”Rather than small talk and nonsense discussion, I felt like I got to know the girls as if they were actually my friends.”

UF graduate Debby Costello, a former sorority girl, said sororities and fraternities have different ways of rushing pledges, but all have one common goal:  to inform students about the potential benefits of Greek Life.

“My sorority, Delta Gamma, was based on doing community service for people that have visual impairments. It was very rewarding and definitely helped to mold my character,” Costello said.

Philanthropy is one of the activities in which Greek students invest heavily. Jordan Mckinnon, CBHS Class of 2014 and now at University of South Florida, said she looked out for a house that participated in a lot of community service.

“I’m looking for the house that’s best for me with the philanthropy I’m passionate about,” Mckinnon said.

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Gym goers ‘work it out’


Whether it’s early in the morning or late at night, students at the Bay are working out in the gym.

Senior Fernando Clemente wakes up early almost every day to get to the YMCA gym before school, because he doesn’t have any other time available in his day.

“It’s refreshing to know that while most people are sleeping, I’m improving myself,” Clemente said.

Clemente works and exercises five to six days a week, two hours a day, but still manages to fulfill all of his responsibilities. These include school, working at the pet supermarket, family time and maintaining a social life.

“I like to go. If I don’t go one day I feel different,” Clemente said. “To me it’s kind of amusing the way you can shape your body the way you want just by pulling weights and pushing stuff.”

[caption id="attachment_5518" align="alignleft" width="284" class=" "]Senior Fernando Clemente does pull ups at the YMCA of Broward County in Weston. Senior Fernando Clemente does pull ups at the YMCA of Broward County in Weston.[/caption]

Christian Craig, a personal trainer at the Weston YMCA, said most gyms have an air of determination and passion to get people to push themselves. The gym seems to be full of positive energy with people who want to improve physically and also mentally.

“The gym is not a hobby, it’s a lifestyle,” Mr. Craig said.

Mr. Craig has been a member of the YMCA for seven years.  He said his developed passion for exercising changed his life.

“The gym helped me out in a very difficult time,” he said. “Believe or not, I went through a really chubby phase. I was very fat. I met one of the trainers here and he helped me get back in shape.”

Mr. Craig said he needed to give back to the gym by doing something that would change people’s lives, like a trainer changed his life for the better. Since he was so into working out and was friends with the trainers at the gym, he applied for a job as a personal trainer and met all of the requirements.

The prevalence of the gym and being healthy on social media outlets like Twitter and Instagram has contributed to its importance in the minds of students.

“I get motivated by Michelle Lewin and Sascha fitness,” said senior Maria Marin, referring to two social media fitness personalities. “I copy what they do, therefore I have better workouts.”

Lewin and Sascha fitness spread their knowledge on fitness via instagram. The women share food recipes, workout routines, and more tips on how to be healthy.

Marin is a member of Midtown Athletic Club. She works out every day except for Sundays, making the gym her priority. She prefers to workout at the gym rather than anywhere else.

“When I work out outside I feel as I don’t get as much done,” Marin said. “But when I go to the gym, it might be psychological, but I feel like I worked out much more.”

As much as students like the gym and spend free time in it, they have opinions about improvements.

“Midtown was recently renovated, they incorporated more cardio facilities,” Marin said. “The only thing it’s missing now is more light-weight equipment.”

Mr. Clemente encourages people to keep working out.

“Exercising is a simple concept, but at the same time you are making a huge change,“ he said. “Besides, you are also relieving stress.”

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Alumnus spends summer at the White House


Cypress Bay alumnus Zach Gorwitz, now a sophomore at Duke University, got the opportunity to see a different side of Washington, DC when he worked as an associate in the White House this past summer.

[caption id="attachment_5498" align="alignright" width="300" class=" "]Gorwitz stands next to President Obama's podium at the White House. Cypress Bay alumnus Zach Gorwitz poses next to President Obama’s podium at the White House.[/caption]

“I was very excited to work at the White House,” Gorwitz said. “It was an amazing opportunity to grow personally, as well as serve the American people.”

Gorwitz said he had some pre-existing thoughts of the White House, but after looking around those thoughts changed.

“I had the chance to tour the White House, both the East and West Wing, and saw so many cool rooms,” Gorwitz said. “The West Wing is smaller than I thought it would be. My favorite room to visit was the Press Briefing room.”

Gorwitz said he was ecstatic when he found out he would be spending his summer at the White House, and so were his parents, Valerie and Jeff.

“We were very proud and happy for him,” Mrs. Gorwitz said.

Gorwitz said he had an extraordinary experience during his 10 weeks there. He stayed in a neighborhood near the White House, and much of his work was done in a specific office that is in relation to the associate position.

He stayed in the neighborhood called Foggy Bottom and worked specifically in the Office of Presidential Correspondence.

Gorwitz said he believes he learned how to serve the American people, and would love to make a difference in society.

“I want make a change for my community, especially after seeing how hard the White House and the President work to improve people’s lives in a very sincere way,” Gorwitz said.

Not only did he think his time on the job was beneficial, but his parents said they were proud and inspired by his efforts and determination.

“The position changed him because he got used to working in a professional environment and learned much more about politics,” Mrs. Gorwitz said. “He also learned a lot. He worked many hours a day, five days a week. He was learning new things every day.”

Both Zach and his parents said they are extremely grateful for the opportunity he received. Mr. and Mrs. Gorwitz agreed that they would love to work in the White House if provided with the chance. Zach agreed that it was a terrific experience.

“My overall experience was very positive and so valuable. I will remember this summer for the rest of my life,” he said.

Gorwitz said he will begin his sophomore year of college at Duke University with a new perspective toward a political career.

“My time this summer has only strengthened my desire to run for public office,” he said.

His parents said they believe that he will work in politics one day because of his successful work this summer

“We see him pursuing a career at the White House. He has always wanted to run for public office and would love to be president,” Mr. Gorwitz said.

Gorwitz said that he was not able to meet President Obama, but he got the opportunity to meet the First Family’s two dogs.

“I even got to meet Bo and Sunny, the President’s dogs. I still think my dog, Lambeau, is the greatest dog in the country, though,” Gorwitz said.

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Saying goodbye as siblings leave for college


Junior Drew Marsh walks through his house and looks into his brother’s vacant room. His brother Jake recently left for Syracuse University leaving Drew as the oldest of the three remaining siblings in the house.

“It’s weird because I’m so used to him being the one going to school with me every day, and now the tables have turned where I’m the older brother taking my younger brother to school every day,” Marsh said.

[caption id="attachment_5493" align="alignleft" width="200" class=" "]Freshman Gaby Gorwitz poses with her older brother, Matt, who left for the University of Florida this fall. Freshman Gaby Gorwitz poses with her older brother, Matt, who left for the University of Florida this fall.[/caption]

As older siblings go off to college, students learn to cope with the changes in their families.

“Since I only had one brother at home this year, because the other one was already at college, I’m going to miss having my only other sibling around,” freshman Gabi Gorwitz said.

Gorwitz’s brother Matthew left for the University of Florida while the other one is already a sophomore at Duke University.

“I never really noticed how fast time goes by and how to appreciate all the little things. I’m going to miss spending so much time with my brother,” Gorwitz said.

Other students went out of state for college instead of staying in Florida.

“It kind of sucks because over the years we got closer as we both grew up, and now that were at that age where we’re finally closer he left for college,” Marsh said. “At the same time I’m really proud of him that he got into the Newhouse school of Public Communications at Syracuse and he’s doing what he wanted to do.”

Guidance counselor Sheryll Wilson said the effect of a sibling’s departure is affected by many factors including if they go in state or out of state.

“I’m sure it’s hard on younger siblings because they’re used to their older siblings being in their lives and then they’re gone.” Mrs. Wilson said.

Freshman Taylor Lessem said that her parents had mixed emotions towards their son Justin’s departure to the University of Florida.

“They were really upset because he was their first child, but at the same time they’re really happy for him because they know that he’s really happy, and he loves UF,” Lessem said.

Marsh said although it was tough to say goodbye to his brother, he knows that college will help his older brother in the future.

“We’re super proud of him and all he’s accomplished over the past few years and we’re just happy that he’s at college doing something he wants to do,” Marsh said.

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AP Psychology department welcomes three new teachers



The AP Psychology department introduced Lynda Lorie, Dr. Sheryl Sugerman, and Cecilia Fonseca to its team this year, in addition to David Geller, who has already been teaching the course.

Not only is it Ms. Lorie’s first year teaching psychology, but also teaching in general.

“Last year I was here, but I was a sub in the Dell lab, and I just started reading about it and I felt like I would be good in that area,” Ms. Lorie said. “It’s really interesting, and all my students seem to be really interested in it, so it makes the whole overall experience more interesting for everybody.”

[caption id="attachment_5478" align="alignleft" width="300" class=" "]AP Psychology teacher Lynda Lorie AP Psychology teacher Lynda Lorie[/caption]

Before working at the Bay, Ms. Lorie used to produce concerts with Gulfstream Park. She said the artists she worked with mostly came from the classic rock genre and included the Goo Goo Dolls, Pat Benatar, the Who, and America.

Dr. Sugerman worked in the Exceptional Student Education department at the Bay, and decided to teach AP Psychology last year in order to help high school students understand themselves more.

“There’s a lot of interacting and being with students who are able to think at a critical level and have discussions about topics, which is different than what I had previously because I would talk to my kids, but at a different level,” Dr. Sugerman said.

Dr. Sugerman has a degree in Psychology, (in addition to Child Development, Special Education, and Elementary Education) and has also taught psychology to college students at Nova Southeastern University.

“I like the understanding of how and why we do what we do, and I really thought teaching psychology to high school students would allow them to understand themselves better and understand how they learn, how they think, and why they do what they do,” Dr. Sugerman said.

[caption id="attachment_5386" align="alignright" width="300" class=" "]AP Psychology teacher Cecilia Fonseca AP Psychology teacher Cecilia Fonseca[/caption]

Ms. Fonseca is also new to the psychology department, yet she has taught and still teaches English 2 Honors in addition to being the sponsor of English Honor Society at the Bay.

“After we changed schedules, teaching six sections of English 2 Honors became not only difficult to manage, but repetitive,” Ms. Fonseca said in an email interview. “Having the psychology classes allows me to shift my work mode. It’s like doing housework and then suddenly going outside and walking the dog. Both are chores, but the break, the difference, allows for enjoyment. Psychology is fascinating, and it offers me the ability to grow as a professional.”

Mr. Geller has been teaching AP Psychology at the Bay for 11 years. He said he enjoys his new colleagues and is most looking forward to seeing the exam scores this year, as they dipped lower than normal last year.

[caption id="attachment_5484" align="alignleft" width="300" class=" "]AP Psychology teacher Dr. Sheryl Sugerman AP Psychology teacher Dr. Sheryl Sugerman[/caption]

“I really like the new psych teachers that Mr. Neely has hired to teach the subject,” Mr. Geller said. “They’re all very motivated, very capable.”

Social Studies department head Scott Selvidge said he is also enthusiastic about the new psychology team.

“I think the new members of the Social Studies department are going to be fantastic. I think they are going to be enthusiastically embraced,” Mr. Selvidge said. “I think their students are going to appreciate what they bring to the table, and I suspect they will have a great, successful pass rate come test time.”

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Teen volunteers at wildlife center


[caption id="attachment_5467" align="alignright" width="168" class=" "]Exotic animals like the Sugar Glider (above) find refuge in the South Florida Wildlife Center. Exotic animals like the Sugar Glider (above) find refuge in the South Florida Wildlife Center.[/caption]

After years of loving exotic animals, junior Harumy Sanchez decided to dedicate her extra time to the non-profit organization South Florida Wildlife center.

Needing volunteer hours, Sanchez looked into many animal rescue programs, but she decided on the wildlife center located in Fort Lauderdale because of her hope to one day be a marine biologist.

“I feel this chance will help me experience day to day activities a marine biologist or wildlife veterinarian would go through,” Sanchez said. “I already signed a paper dedicating 40 hours to this center and I’m really excited to learn as much as I can.”

Amber McPherson, who is in charge of the volunteers at the center said that this program offers many possibilities.

“There are three different internship opportunities available to be involved with including Rotational, Wildlife Nursery and Animal Care,” Mrs. McPherson said. “We also have three full time veterinarians on staff and have ambulance drivers that rescue injured wildlife in the tri-county area.”

Sanchez said that because the center is a rehabilitation program, there are nearly 13,000 animals a year and 255 different species at the facility. Being that there are so many animals, Sanchez said she always gets the opportunity to work with different species daily.

“New animals are constantly coming in and going out, so I always get to see and learn about unique animals,” Sanchez said. “Currently, I have looked after squirrels, parrots, pigeons, raccoons and ducks.”

Sanchez has a normal routine at which she follows to make sure she gets all her responsibilities done.

“I make sure to keep track of everything I do and balance my time,” Sanchez said. “I first give the parrots food, then I fill up all the water cups and after everyone is fed I clean all the dishes.”

Sanchez said she enjoys working in the nursery section of the program, where she feeds and maintains the growth of all the baby animals.

“A really cool job I was assigned to do was syringe feed 27 baby squirrels,” Sanchez said. “I also had to look after baby raccoons, which I never had seen until this day.”

Working at the center for three months, Sanchez said that

she loves how she is able to watch the animals in the nursery grow up.

[caption id="attachment_5470" align="alignleft" width="225" class=" "]Junior Harumy Sanchez Junior Harumy Sanchez[/caption]

“I start with animals when they’re so young, that they can’t even eat by themselves,” Sanchez said. “I then watch them go through different stages of life, the last being when they are released.”

The hardest part about working at the center Sanchez said is not being allowed to talk or play with the animals.

“When I started the program I was really excited to be able to interact with the unique animals present,” Sanchez said. “I was quickly told by staff on sight I was not to excessively touch or talk to any of the animals because I could imprint on them.”

While working with animals Sanchez soon learned she had to be very emotionally stable, because of the occasional deaths that occurred throughout the animal’s process of rehabilitation.

“Any animal can die at any given moment, and usually it will be very unexpected,” Sanchez said. “Animals usually pass away not because of an injury, but an internal illness we aren’t able to catch right away.”

After completing 50 service hours, Sanchez will have the opportunity to intern with a veterinarian on site.

“If I do continue volunteering here, I will have the opportunity to follow around a veterinarian throughout their day. This includes surgeries, checkups and any releases of animals he or she has planned.” Sanchez said.

Mrs. McPherson said this program is taken very serious and is only targeted for people who are ready to work, such as Sanchez.

“We only allow volunteers with drive and dedication to come in weekly and assist staff in the daily care of these patients,” McPherson said. “Volunteers must work, both independently and as a team, to help provide the best care we can for the patients.”

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Current students welcome freshmen siblings


As freshmen move into a new chapter in their lives, some have older siblings already at the Bay to help their transition into high school. Freshman Gabby Tirado said she is very glad that she has her sister Natalya Tirado to help her around the school.

“Having an older sibling really made things a lot easier because she showed me all around the school,” Gabby said. “It’s a lot easier to get around because I have her and her friends to sit with at lunch in case I get lonely or bored of my friends.”

[caption id="attachment_5451" align="alignright" width="331"]Senior Natalya Tirado welcomes her sister Gaby to her first year at the Bay. Senior Natalya Tirado welcomes her sister Gaby to her first year at the Bay.[/caption]

Gabby said she is thankful for many things, one of them being that she doesn’t have to take the bus because she gets rides to and from school. She also talked about having the same teacher as her sister.

“I have ceramics with my sister’s old teacher, Mr. McKnight, so that was pretty cool that he had her and now me,” she said.

Senior Natalya Tirado said that she enjoys having her sister go to the same school.

“It’s nice being able to walk in with her, meet in between classes and talk about the same things that happen around school,” Natalya said. “I like being able to help her pick her classes and guide her in a good direction for the remainder of her years.”

Senior Juandi Yanez also has his brother Nico at the same school for the first time.

“It’s sometimes annoying having him here because he texts me all the time asking where the bus is and where his next classes are,” Juandi said.

Freshman Nico said it’s comforting to have someone here to help him out.

“My brother is president of the fashion club so I know that you can get service hours really easily,” Nico said. “A lot of my friends talk about my brother and know him, so being here with him is pretty awesome.”

Freshman Hannah Vargas’ older sister Emma is a senior.

“The school is so big that I really never get to see her,” Hannah said, “but it’s cool having a senior as a sister because she knows so much about the school and so many people in it. I get to see her friends and it’s comforting to see familiar faces in such a big school.”

Emma said she doesn’t see her sister that much throughout the day but loves having her on campus.

“Although I don’t really get to see her that much during the day because our classes are so different, it’s nice knowing she’s here with me and can enjoy high school with me for one last year,” she said.

Junior Dani Urrea helps her younger brother Alejandro throughout the day.

“It’s kind of sad to watch my brother grow up so fast, but at least I’m here and know that I can be there for him if he needs help with anything,” Urrea said. “People swear we’re twins so it’s also fun to see people’s reactions around the school.”

Alejandro agrees it’s a benefit.

“I know some of her friends so they helped me around and explained all the things I needed to know,” Urrea said. “I’m happy she can help me with my first two years at this school.”


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Personal connections to foreign lands keep students globally aware



[caption id="attachment_5434" align="alignright" width="251"]Seniors Yuval Shmul and Lauren White meet up in Israel this past July. Seniors Yuval Shmul and Lauren White meet up in Israel this past July.[/caption]

Sirens blared through the streets of Eilat, Israel as senior Yuval Shmul darted to the nearest bomb shelter. A rocket shard hit her building, shattering the window of a room of girls from her program.

Shmul, a native Israeli, did not have the summer she expected. The bombing in this Middle East warzone affected her and her family.

“You are not scared for yourself,” Shmul said. “You are scared for your friends, your family and for the country. I never felt personally scared. I never felt like I was in danger or would be killed by a rocket, but the whole conflict is nerve-wracking.”

Over 4,500 students on one high school campus equates to a diverse student body. From Venezuela to Russia, students at Cypress Bay are affected by global conflict.

Six weeks in Israel, two with family and four training with the Israel Defense Forces, led Shmul to form a stronger relationship with her hometown.

“The experience we have unites us,” she said. “I feel more connected to the people there and more connected to the land itself. It is not a religious connection, but more to the culture of Judaism and to the culture of being Israeli.”

As the conflict in the Gaza Strip escalated, Shmul and the people at her program shied away from problematic areas such as Tel Aviv.

“It was chaotic,” she said. “My best friend Lauren White was also there at the same time. One night the escalations got really bad and she called me very upset on the phone, which made me upset. You don’t know what to do in the moment or what is going to happen tomorrow.”

Since it was her first time in Israel, senior Lauren White called Shmul for comfort when she sprinted to the bomb shelter.

“The first thing that came to my mind was Yuval,” said White who attended the Alexander Muss High School in Israel program. While all of my friends were crying and calling their parents, I called her and it was reassuring to know I wasn’t alone.”

Instead of hiding from bombs in Israel during the summer, senior Maria Marin was on the opposite end of the world seeing first-hand the struggles and disparity in Venezuela when she visited her family and friends. She said people were desperate for basics like rice and milk.

“It was very sad to see such a beautiful country get to where it has at such a fast pace,” Marin said. “All we can do is help my family who is still there and supply them with goods that can’t be found anymore.”

For years, Marin feared going to Venezuela.

[caption id="attachment_5429" align="alignleft" width="449" class=" "]In Venezuela, senior Maria Marin poses with her country's flag. In Venezuela, senior Maria Marin wears a gas mask to protect herself from gas bombs in the area.[/caption]

Her father was kidnapped for 16 hours at Maiquetia International Airport when she was 6-years-old. The kidnappers also threatened to harm Marin and her brother.

Despite the political unrest and security concerns in Venezuela today, Marin travels every other month to visit family and friends. She said she can travel with comfort since she has learned to live on alert.

“When you’re there you always have to think of every possible thing that can happen and just be as low key as possible,” she said. “We always have someone watching over us and we have bulletproof cars just in case.”

Sophomore Alexa Schummer ventured to Caracas, Venezuela this summer to see her family who is living in fear.venezuela3

“My family no longer feels safe in such a dangerous city,” she said. “They want to leave the country and I feel angered more than anything that the beauty that Venezuela once had has basically been demolished and by the lack of human rights given to the citizens.”

With her mom from Belarus and her dad from Uzbekistan, senior Samantha Gedihovich has a strong Russian background, causing her to keep close watch on that part of the world. Although she wasn’t born in Russia, Gedihovich stays up-to-date with the disputes in Russia through her television screen.

“I can connect to the issue in Russia on a deeper level because I know that in a different reality, I could easily have been born there and be suffering right now,” Gedihovich said. “I am so thankful I was born in such an amazing country, but I can still empathize with the people that reside there.”

#SOSVenezuela and other trends on Twitter relating to international conflicts have helped to spread awareness of these global happenings, Marin said.

“People can see how Venezuelans are desperate for help,” she said. “Hopefully, the Chavistas, the people who work for the government, realize that it’s not all about money and power, but it’s about their kids’ futures and security. If we stay the way we are now, things will get worse and there will be much more chaos.”

Instead of tweeting, Shmul created a blog called Every Voice, Every Conflict to spread awareness.

“My friends and I started a blog for people dealing with conflicts in Israel and Syria if they want to share their perspectives as teenagers,” she said. “It is not what you hear on the news or from adults.”

Although social media outlets can help spread global awareness, Shmul said she avoids it because it is controversial.

“I shy away from using social media for political purposes,” she said. “I see people post articles about Israel. I enjoy reading the articles, and it is interesting to see other perspectives, some of which I obviously do not agree with.”

Seeing news updates and posts on her Twitter feed about the changing conflict in Israel, Shmul worries about her family.

“My aunt in Israel has four kids, the youngest being a year old,” she said. “It is scary because she usually doesn’t have them for the majority of the day, so she doesn’t know what will happen if a siren goes off. My grandma lives there too and is over it. She knows how to deal with it. It is scary but they know they are protected and nothing will happen to them.”

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