Alumna pursues dream of becoming a doctor


Cypress Bay Alumna Brittany Siegal, class of 2009, is combining her love of medical skills and passion for children to become a pediatric doctor who helps disabled children.

“I am a hard worker who wants to make difference in the world,” Siegal said.

Siegal is currently attending Nova Southeastern University at the College of Osteopathic medicine for medical school. Osteopathic medicine provides all of the benefits of modern medicine including prescription drugs, surgery and the use of technology to diagnose disease and evaluate injury.

“No particular teacher inspired me to study medicine, but Mr. Peterson, my English teacher at Cypress Bay, encouraged me to learn from always asking questions. Also, my Spanish teacher Senora Calderon taught me to appreciate my mistakes and use them as fuel to become better,” Siegal said.

Siegal said she’s always willing to take one for the team, and she values teamwork, which is why she chose to study Osteopathic medicine. Osteopathic physicians work in partnership with patients to help them achieve a high level of wellness by focusing on health education, injury prevention and disease prevention.

“I have learned how to interact with a wide range of individuals,” Siegal said. “The diversity at Cypress is a true representation of the diversity in the professional setting. I feel confident in my ability to take initiative in multiple tasks because of the encouragement the faculty at Cypress gave me to face challenges and succeed.”

Siegal’s mom Linda is very proud of all that Brittany has accomplished so far.

“Brittany is a loving girl who is always giving back the community,” Ms. Siegal said. “Ever since she was a little girl she wanted to help out kids with disabilities.”

Siegal first decided she was going to be a doctor at the age of 13.

“School is what I do best,” Siegal said. “I love studying and learning something new everyday. Sometimes it gets tough, but I know if I want to make it as a doctor, I have to push through it.”

The main reason she wants to be a doctor is because she loves kids. She said she knew she wanted to work with kids ever since she started babysitting in high school.

Ms. Siegal said she has always especially enjoyed working with disabled children.

“She is always putting other people before herself, especially kids,” Ms. Siegal said.

Siegal has worked with charities such as the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Canines For Disabled Kids, Locks of Love and March of Dimes. She has put together fundraisers for kids with disabilities, donated money to charities and volunteered in her community with kids.

Siegal said she will stop at nothing to conquer her dreams of helping children as a doctor.

“I miss Cypress Bay, but I’m excited for the future,” Siegal said. “I want to be a doctor forever.”

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Political awareness aids in election decisions



Senior Isabella DeSheplo has been waiting patiently for the day when she can vote in the presidential election.seniors in election ABBY gs

Like Desheplo, many seniors are educating themselves on the politics and politicians for this upcoming presidential election. While some seniors have been keeping up with American politics ever since they could speak, others take a more laid back approach and have just started to learn about it and educate themselves for this election.

“I get so involved in politics because a lot of the issues being discussed right now are going to directly affect the youth,” DeSheplo said. “If we aren’t paying attention to the policies being created, they could potentially make really bad policies that would negatively affect the future when we are adults.”

Senior Ricardo Chavez has always tried to get involved with politics and realized halfway through his junior year the importance of keeping up with the elections. He said he was always consciously making sure he would be voting based on who the candidates stand for, not what other people say about them.

“I feel that it’s incredibly important for our generation to be involved in politics,” Chavez said. “If we are unaware of what’s going on, or who it is that’s running for office, it would be extremely difficult to vote, and if we don’t vote, our policy makers will not be able to reflect our generations needs and wants.”

DeSheplo said getting involved in politics is the only way to stay up to date and not feel blindsided by new policies created.

“I always get involved in learning about the candidates running,” she said. “If you don’t get into it and understand what each candidate stands for, then I think you are being politically ignorant.”

DeSheplo originally became involved in politics because her dad was so involved, so it created an area of mutual interest.

“My dad originally had a much different view than I have, but over the years, we have come to more of a central agreement,” she said. “I definitely formed my own views; my dad started out more of a conservative, but I think he and many other people have come to the realization that the Republican party is not the same as it was 20 years ago.”

She said she started following politics at a young age and has even kept up with individual politicians.

“I have been actively keeping up with senator Bernie Sanders since I was about 10 years old,” she said. “I have been following him for a while, but the other candidates, since I’ve been involved in other political ventures, I’ve learned about them through the times they served in the Senate, Congress and them being governors.”

Government teacher Patrick McNamara said he doesn’t push all students to get involved in the presidential election because not all people are educated enough to vote.

“To try to get students involved in the election, I use current events and make it a big deal. I try to portray what the election should mean to them,” Mr. McNamara said. “I try to show students all the flaws in the election; I show them that you can’t believe everything a politician says.”

DeSheplo said she loves getting involved in the elections and getting hands on experience allowing her to see the politicians on a more personal level.

“I’ve been involved with the Democratic party of Florida, which means canvassing, going door to door and asking people to vote for certain candidates,” she said. “I have gone to multiple political programs over the summer which involves me interviewing senators. I like to get direct hands on involvement.”

Chavez also said he has some pet peeves when it comes to politics and the election.

“It really bothers me when people have really strong and passionate opinions which aren’t backed at all by facts, just pure speculation,” he said. “I just don’t understand how people can base their opinions fully off of what they hear from other people.”

Although Chavez got himself involved in politics, he said most of his friends are not as involved, and this makes him want to convince them to start learning about the policies that run our country.

“I just hope to help people to realize that politics aren’t boring but rather the base to our future in this country,” he said. “I want people to fully consider the importance of voting for candidates who will do what we think is best for our country in order to avoid dominance by the majority party.”

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Soccer players commit to future schools


Junior Samantha Bornstein has been dreaming of playing soccer for a Division 1 college ever since she first stepped on a soccer field.

Students athletes at the Bay have been playing sports for years in school and out of school to commit to a college and continue their passion for the game they play.

FullSizeRender(1)Senior Maria Munoz committed to Florida Tech during her junior year of high school. She said she wanted to play soccer in college, but her deciding factors for committing was distance, location, money and playing time.

“I traveled and sacrificed a lot to play soccer and I cannot imagine life without it,” Munoz said. “Some schools that gave me offers told me that I would not be starting and that is not ideal for me.”

During the recruiting process coaches come to showcases and games. If they are interested in a player they will reach out to them.

“For me, I went to visit schools when they were interested in me so I could practice with the team to get a feel of how they work there,” Munoz said. “It took three months to decide. I was waiting on offers form University of South Florida, Florida Atlantic University and University of Alabama.”

Athletes start committing during sophomore year. The earlier that a player commits, the more money he or she will be able to receive for scholarships because there’s a limited amount of money for each school. They must give a 24-hour notice to the school if they want to commit there or not.

“When I chose Florida Tech I knew that I would make a big impact on the team,” Munoz said. “It was a plus that I received a full scholarship.”

Soccer Coach Dwyer says she gets very excited when one of her girl’s commit to a college.

“The amount of hard work and travel these girls put in year round is very tough on them, so it’s rewarding when they do commit and are able to relax and enjoy their high school carreer,” Coach Dwyder said.

Coach Dwyer coached Divison 1 and is able to help them during their process of committing.

“I am able to help the girls with what they need to do early on in their high school career such as emailing college coaches starting their freshman year,” Coach Dwyer said.

Bornstein said she is currently dealing with the pressure of committing and finding the right school for her. The size of the school, coaches, the area, and mostly what she wants to study is the factors she is looking at.

“The hardest part about committing is seeing yourself at the school and making sure you made the right choice for yourself,” Bornstein said.

Bornstein said she has a passion for soccer and could not see herself dropping the sport after high school. Which is why she decided that she wanted to play for college.

“My goal schools are High Point University and North Carolina because they have D1 soccer teams and the schools themselves are beautiful,” Bornstein said.

Bornstein said that the process is really rough for committing, and that most of the time she has to be the one to contact the coaches.

“I’m constantly calling them on a regular basis so they remember me,” Bornstein said.

Bornstein continues to strive to be a better player even when she is at her best because committing is a very competitive thing.

“Committing is a long and rough process between contacting coaches and putting your heart into the game, but it’s all worth it at the end,” Bornstein said.

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Letters of recommendation stay important to application process

BY KASSIDY NEYSMITHLetter of Recommendation

All college-bound students at the Bay fill out a college application to the school(s) of their choice. One major component of a college application is the letter of recommendation. Between all of the teachers and guidance counselors, there are different processes to requesting a letter of recommendation.

Guidance counselor Rosa Mazzocca received 63 requests for a printed letter of recommendation last year alone.

“We don’t usually turn away students who request letters of recommendation,” Mrs. Mazzocca said.

The guidance department is no longer as occupied with writing letters of recommendation because, in recent years a lot of the state schools, such as the University of Florida, are no longer requiring recommendation letters.

“Now the recommendation letters go mainly through Common Application,” said Guidance Director Marlene Sanders.

All students requesting a letter of recommendation from guidance are required to fill out a request form. When filling out the request form, guidance counselors want students to be personal and to write about the kind of person they are along with their accomplishments.

“The most common mistakes students make is requesting a letter of recommendation one day and saying it’s due tomorrow,” Mrs. Mazzocca said.

Mrs. Mazzocca said students should be aware of the two week window that guidance counselors typically take to write a letter. She said many students make the mistake of not keeping track of the due dates and request a letter of recommendation too close to their due date.

“Be aware of due dates, make checklists and write down what each school requires,” Mrs. Sanders said.

In order to get a personalized recommendation letter, the guidance counselor needs to get to know the student. Mrs. Sanders and Mrs. Mazzocca said students should see them before senior year, become familiar with them and get advice. The more familiar a student is with their guidance counselor, the better.

“If I can walk around school, see you and put a name to the face, then you’re good, you’re great,” Mrs. Mazzocca said.

Mrs. Mazzocca said guidance counselors are just one aspect of the recommendation letter process.

“It is really better to get a letter from your teacher because they are seeing you throughout the school year,” Mrs. Mazzocca said.

Some teachers have specific requirements that a student needs to fill before they will write a letter of recommendation for them.

“I choose not to jeopardize my reputation or that of Cypress Bay by recommending a student who has not earned such a privilege.” said social studies teacher Wendy Wuenker.

Science teacher Eva Rothal said she gets requests for letters of recommendation from students all the time.  Mrs. Rothal will only write a letter of recommendation for a student if he or she stood out in class and interacted with her, or if they were a good student and needed the letter to apply for a scholarship.

“I turn away more students than I write letters of recommendation for,” Mrs. Rothal said.

Mrs. Rothal said in order for her to be able to write a student a great letter of recommendation she needs to have history with a student. She said a student who talked and joked in class would get a letter of recommendation over a quiet student who only got good grades.

“My advice is to build a rapport with the teacher. Be somebody who is willing to take the class lecture to the next level,” Mrs. Rothal said.Letter of Recommendation

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Alumna pursues career in Thailand


Captivated by an idea offered by a sorority sister in Zeta Tau Alpha (ZTA), Cypress Bay Alumna Lauren Ballard, who graduated from Cypress in 2006, decided to leave her life in America to pursue a career in Thailand.

“I was looking for something new and exciting very different from the ordinary,” Ballard said. “In joining the sorority, ZTA, I learned that one of my sisters taught abroad in Thailand, and when I heard about her exciting journey I decided this was the unique opportunity that I was looking for in the future.”

In 2012, Ballard graduated from the University of North Florida in Jacksonville, where she majored in Psychology and minored in Sociology and American Sign Language. Subsequently, she decided to work with her interest of teaching in Thailand where she taught all different ages of students. She taught conversational English to both elementary and high school students.

“I was placed in a school in Bangkok to learn how to be successful in teaching the Thai Students,” Ballard said. “It was a fascinating experience; I got to learn the Thai culture and was taught how to teach English to all different levels from elementary to high school.”

Ballard said teaching the Thai students was not as easy as she thought. It involved learning a new language and the ways they should be taught.

“When I entered my first class I definitely felt anxious when realizing that the language I speak was not spoken by the Thai students,” Ballard said. “This meant I had to be familiar with their language, but I was excited to meet my students and learn many new things.”

Ballard’s mother said how thrilled Ballard was to experience this fascinating journey.

“ Lauren was eager to do something different that none of her friends would have done,” Ballard said.

Ballard said receiving a high school diploma was one qualification needed to teach the Thai Students.

“Cypress has also taught me to become an independent person and have relationships with students from other countries. One must have these qualities in order to be able to well adapt, which was extremely important for my trip to Thailand,” Ballard said.

6A355B5F-064B-4C3D-9EC9-EE29BA00BB4ABy teaching for three years, three to six hours a day, Ballard’s experience taught her a lot about Thailand during her stay. She learned the Thai culture, the Thai lifestyle, and much about her students during this teaching experience.

“Besides being a teacher, in Thailand I owned a motorbike, hiked huge mountains, swam in the most beautiful waters, ate extremely questionable foods and explored new cities. We experienced the beaches of Phuket and the mountains of Chiang Mai,” Ballard said.  “I have met the kindest and most generous people. Everywhere we went they offered us food, a ride and even tried to use as much English as they could to make us feel welcomed.”

Ballard said that during her stay in Thailand and teaching the Thai students she learned some important values such as tolerance and respect.

“Working in the office full of Thai people, where the culture was completely different in every way, taught me a lot about respect and tolerance,” Ballard said. “My students taught me a lot about how to control and command attention, and also how to just let it go when things got crazy. It was heartbreaking when it was time to say goodbye to my students, as I grew so close to them during my teaching. My students have meant so much to me.”

Throughout Ballard’s time in Thailand, she said she made many treasurable memories that will always stay with her. While teaching there for three years she has thoroughly enjoyed this experience.

“One of most memorable moments I had was seeing the progress of my students in their learning,” Ballard said.  “Also having my high school students take me around the town to try new food and teach me what it was like in the lives of the Thai people. Learning about how life is in different countries is something I will always treasure.”

Lauren’s mother, Debbie Ballard, said that her daughter gained a lot of independence and maturity during her experience.

“There is not another experience that could have taught Lauren much about life as teaching in Thailand,” Ms. Ballard said. “ Lauren learned much about herself because she had to be on her own and adapt to a new culture.”

Ballard said her career in teaching overseas has strongly impacted her as a person. This eye-opening experience has changed her perspective on life.

“I received a true understanding of the world. Having to navigate and survive in a country where you do not know the language and especially teaching the Thai students was very overwhelming at times,” Ballard said.  “I have learned to be much more independent and I have found that I know myself better now. This trip was an awesome experience for my teaching skills and it has made me a better person today.”

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1 in 4700: Rachel Wilk

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With the ultimate purpose of engaging, involving and connecting the Bay’s diverse community, The Circuit has launched an ongoing multimedia project that highlights the individual stories of students, teachers and staff through still photography and personal narration.

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1 in 4700: Annika Ramnath

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With the ultimate purpose of engaging, involving and connecting the Bay’s diverse community, The Circuit has launched an ongoing multimedia project that highlights the individual stories of students, teachers and staff through still photography and personal narration.

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Seen on Campus: T-shirt Dresses

Olivia Landsman takes a closer look at a trend seen on campus through still photography.

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The Outlet: Lauren Bender

bender headshotIn this issue’s recurring segment that gives students an opportunity to learn more about the teachers they see every day, staff writer Angela Lalovic interviews math teacher Lauren Bender

What’s your favorite part about being a teacher?

Helping my students understand concepts that they didn’t understand before and watching their faces light up when they understand something.

What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?

I went on an upside down roller coaster with my eyes closed the whole time. Next time I go on a roller coaster I’ll open my eyes, because it made me nauseous.

How is teaching different from how you expected it to be?

I didn’t expect to have to do as much work that didn’t involve the students. This includes having to make tests and creating new lesson plans.

What’s your pet peeve?

My pet peeve is when students don’t do their homework, because then they aren’t prepared for their tests and quizzes and don’t do well.

If you weren’t a teacher, what would you want your profession to be?

At one point I wanted to be a pharmacist. I majored in biology and minored in math in college. I realized that I was enjoying my math classes more than my science classes. I also loved being around children, so I combined the two and became a math teacher.

What’s something you can’t live without?

Pizza and my cat. Pizza is my favorite food and is delicious, and my cat is a very important part of my life and my family’s life.

What was your favorite subject in high school?

Math obviously. I would say Algebra was my favorite type of math, but I also loved Geometry and Trigonometry. I liked Calculus, but Calculus II was a little tricky.

What’s your least favorite part about being a teacher?

My least favorite part is having to grade papers and all the paperwork that doesn’t involve the students.

What do you hope to achieve by being a teacher?

I hope to inspire my students and I want them to love and understand math. I want them to understand how it applies to real life and how it deals with problem solving. I want them to enjoy their time in math class and have time with their peers to talk about math and understand it.

What job did you want to have when you were younger?

When I was younger I wanted to be a tennis pro. I played a lot of tennis in high school and outside of school. That didn’t pan out, as I love teaching and math more.

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Six class schedule offered to eligible seniors


Assistant Principal Marianela Estripeaut came up with the idea to implement senior privilege after looking over the crowded class rosters and receiving multiple complaints from rising seniors that didn’t need more than six classes to meet their graduation requirement. A group of approximately 600 seniors qualified for senior privilege because they met the requirement of a weighted GPA of 3.5 and completed their required courses by the deadline.

“Senior privilege is an incentive foIMG_8500r juniors to work harder and keep their GPA up,” Mrs. Estripeaut said. “The seniors that have privilege this year get to enjoy the perk they earned.”

Mrs. Estipeaut said getting senior privilege approved by the county was a smooth process.

“The county thought that allowing qualifying seniors a six-course schedule option instead of the standard seven was a great idea, and they had no problem approving it,” Mrs. Estripeaut said.

Senior Nick Bravo met the GPA requirement and has eighth period senior privilege.

“Senior privilege gives me one less class to worry about,” Bravo said. “This year is a lot less stressful than all of my other years of high school.”

Bravo said having an extra hour of school gives him more free time to do homework and catch up on sleep.

“The extra time for homework allows me to manage my time better and get more prepared for tests,” Bravo said.

Bravo said the only downside of not having a class eighth hour is finding a ride home.

“I don’t have a car, so I mostly rely on my friends to give me a ride home,” he said. “Sometimes I’m stuck waiting for an hour if nobody can give me a ride.”

Senior Holly Dennis also has eighth hour senior privilege and said first hour senior privilege wasn’t an option for her because of a class requirement, so she had no choice but to miss out on the class and have senior privilege eighth hour.

“I was upset that I couldn’t take the art class eighth hour, but I earned senior privilege, and there was no way I wasn’t going to use it,” she said.

Dennis said the extra hour is especially useful for her to make time for college applications.

“Without senior privilege, between clubs and sports, I don’t know when else I would’ve found the time to do my college applications,” she said.

Mrs. Estripeaut said she has yet to hear a negative remark about senior privilege and plans on continuing it next year.

“As of right now, it looks like we will be continuing senior privilege next year unless students are opposed to it,” Mrs. Estripeaut said.


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