Storify: Oscars generate buzz from students

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ESE celebrates Black History Month




During the month of February 2015, the ESE department celebrated Black History Month at Cypress Bay.

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Storify: Seniors react to University of Florida decision day

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Storify: Spreading love (or not) on Valentine’s Day

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Storify: Superbowl Sunday scores big on social media

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Prestigious schools test students’ dedication



Senior Yumi Rivas wants to follow her dreams all the way to the end of the rainbow, which happens to end at the fourth ranked engineering college in the country, Georgia Institute of Technology, where she was accepted earlier this year.prestigious schools ABBY

As many seniors are applying to colleges and receiving acceptance letters back from schools, they start to take separate paths spanning from local colleges to the most prestigious schools in America. Few are accepted into these prestigious schools, and those acceptances come at a price.

“Throughout all of high school, when you take six AP classes and you give a lot of time to school, time starts to get tough. Many students like myself have to sacrifice going out with friends and instead you have to study,” Rivas said. “Something that I personally have had to sacrifice was ballet. I do ballet and I have for 14 years. Then this year because of college applications and the time my classes require, I have had to take a break from ballet for a whole semester.”

Rivas said she is very hopeful to start ballet back up for the second semester, but she understands there is a limited amount of time in the day, which she decided to dedicate to schools and clubs. She said the sacrifice is worth it since she now sees the result of all the hard work.

“I’ve always tried to make my curriculum heavy in challenging classes so it looks good for those schools, but still doing what I am passionate about and what I want to do. I try to balance out taking a rigorous schedule and having a lot of extra curriculars,” she said. “My goal ever since I entered high school was to apply to some of the most prestigious schools in America and get in and have the option of going.”

Dana Kingman, admissions assistant at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), said they look for students who are always up for a challenge and push themselves to test their limits. This does not only apply to school but also outside of school in the things that that students have a passion for.

“When we admit a class to MIT, we are choosing a 1,000-person team to climb a mountain, and we want it to be people with different skills that they bring,” Ms. Kingman said. “There is no perfect applicant since we are looking for a diverse class with a lot of different gifts, talents, interests and achievements.”

Ms. Kingman said MIT is interested in the person as a whole, what interests him or her and sets a person apart from the crowd. The admissions team looks to see not only academic capabilities but what excites the applicant.

“We want applicants to choose activities that delight, intrigue and challenge them, that they aren’t just participating in these activities because that’s what they think that we want to see,” she said. “We have a holistic method here, which means we read each application submitted here in its entirety, so no application is passed over which creates for a variety of people and skills that we choose.”

Senior Rodmy Paredes said being a dedicated student came naturally to him. Although he had to make sacrifices that included the end of his swimming career, his studies led him to the doorstep of MIT, where he was accepted and plans to attend in the fall.

“I used to be on the Bay’s swimming team and I swam for eight years in all, but I had to quit because it was a huge time commitment consisting of two hours before school and two hours after school of practice and it was seven days a week,” Paredes said. “Since I knew sophomore year that I was going to start taking AP classes, I needed to prepare myself to see whether I would adapt well to the curriculum, so I dropped swimming for the school.”

Paredes said he was upset about the sacrifice he had to make for school, but it paid off since he joined academic clubs where he met many of his friends and treated the club as partly social.

“I also joined Spanish National Honor Society and Mu Alpha Theta, and I didn’t expect them to be so social, but I’ve met a lot of my friends through clubs and they have made up a huge part of my social life,” he said.

Paredes said although he was very into challenging and rigorous classes, he never took a class that didn’t interest him. He said he challenged himself in science since that is his favorite subject to learn.

“My goals were not always set to attend a prestigious college,” Paredes said. “Last year I became aware of the Ivy League colleges and other prestigious schools. I researched them and visited MIT for the MITES summer program and it was beautiful. I loved Boston, and from that moment, I believed that MIT was the place for me.”

Senior Martina Sly was recruited to Stanford for sailing. She has been sailing for a few years and continued sailing throughout high school.

“I’m a really good sailor and I’m on a sailing team, so on the weekends, I don’t have a really big social life like other people do, so I’ve had to give up things like that,” Sly said. “My life right now is mostly comprised of studying and working hard for good grades and sailing on the weekends.”

Sly practices sailing every weekend, and every practice is a whole day affair starting at 9 in the morning and ending at 6 in the evening. She said the long practices are worth it.

“I got recruited to Stanford for sailing, so I’ll be on the sailing team and hopefully I can help them win a couple competitions,” she said. “This past summer I travelled around the country for sailing. We travelled to Cape Cod, New Jersey, Detroit, Michigan, California, and we had competition after competition which was tiring but fun.”

Rivas has always striven for excellence in everything that she does including schools and clubs. She said she is ready to enter Georgia Tech with an open mind but feels she will be struggling to keep up with the other students there.

“I feel like making a difference in a school like Georgia Tech. I am definitely intimidated because I’ll be surrounded by geniuses from all around the country and I definitely know that I’m not smartest,” Rivas said. “I want to study biomechatronics. It’s so specific and has to do with prosthetics, and I feel like it’s something I’m so passionate about and I know the passion will drive me to succeed in those types of things.”

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Storify: 57th Annual Grammy Awards spark social reaction

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Storify: Students react to morning showers

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Helpers travel the world with the hope of making a difference

Helpers travel the world with the hope of making a difference



This spring break, senior Isabel Hofmann will be soaking up the sun, just like the majority of her peers. Yet instead of spending her time at the beach, Hofmann will be visiting either Nicaragua or Cuba to build transitional houses for those in need.

Hofmann has organized a group of teens and adults in Weston and introduced them to TECHO, a nonprofit organization that mobilizes youth volunteers to fight extreme poverty in Latin America by constructing housing and implementing social inclusion programs.

Mission Haiti Pic 2TECHO, which means roof in Spanish, is also known as “Un Techo Para Mi Pais,” which means “a roof for my country.” She started the local fund for her trip with TECHO herself and has been raising money since last summer.

Hofmann is one among other young adults who has personally made a change in the condition of poverty in a Third World country, whether constructing houses, painting schools, or visiting orphanages.

Junior Howard Ki and senior Gabbi Solovay are two other Cypress Bay students who have also traveled to other countries to do what they can to help.

Ki helped improve the lives of others by working with disadvantaged children. Ki visited a local orphanage in Mirabelle, Haiti in the summer of 2013 and Acapulco, Mexico in the summer of 2014, both times with a group of high school students from Christ Covenant Church. His sister, senior Rebecca Ki, accompanied him on the trip.

Solovay has visited Antigua, Guatemala in the summer of 2013 to do charitable work. She went with her mother, her sister, senior Rebecca Solovay, and a group of friends. She raised funds for her trip by selling bags and bracelets provided by her contact in Guatemala. She used the money to buy sewing machines and goats, which were donated to people in the local town. She also painted two run-down schools.

Ki said working with the orphanage has broadened his global perspective. He is going back to Mexico this summer.

unnamed-2“My church had a history of founding an orphanage in Haiti, and we had a history of sending groups of kids there to play and have fun with the orphans there, so we just went along with the church,” he said. “I thought it would be a good experience to talk to underprivileged kids about their experiences, and seeing them happy really opened my eyes towards poverty in the Third World.”

Solovay also had a memorable experience with children while she was in Guatemala.

“When we were painting the school, I thought it was really cool how even though all the kids didn’t speak English, you could see their gratitude, even though we couldn’t communicate,” she said.

She said the reason she took her trip originated from a camp-free summer and a passion for service.

“Not everyone is as fortunate as people in Weston,” Solovay said. “There’s so much we can do for people who aren’t born with the same chances as I was, so I think it’s really important to share. I’ve always been really into community service, and I previously had gone to sleepaway camp. But I was too old, so I didn’t know what to do with my summer.”

Ki said the magnitude of poverty in Haiti was most surprising to him on his trip.

“We landed in Port-au-Prince airport and the strongest experience was the two-hour drive from Port-au-Prince to Mirabelle,” Ki said. “We had to drive through mountains and we saw a lot of the effects of the earthquake from 2010 and a lot of the poverty. Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere and there is a lot of poverty, but at the same time it was really fun because we got to see a lot of happiness and the good sides of an orphanage, like happy kids.”

Laura Martinez, director of volunteer engagement at TECHO USA, said volunteer work, no matter what kind, is fundamental to helping those who are not born in fortunate situations.

“I think it’s necessary to give back because we have had so many opportunities and so many chances to have a good life just by luck,” Ms. Martinez said. “We were born in better conditions. We were born with better income from our families. We had the opportunity to go to good schools, good universities, just by chance. I think that the fact that we were given that opportunity, or that luck, makes us responsible to give back to the society.”

Mission Mexico 4Hofmann said a large part of getting ready for her trip is fundraising for expenses. She sold bracelets locally and participated in the TECHO event called “La Collecta,” where TECHO volunteers roamed around the Miami streets to collect change.

“What these funds go towards is building homes for those who do not have any,” Hofmann said. “Some of the funds also go to education and establishing a financial basis for the families who are receiving the homes. They are basically set up for a good start in their new home, financially.”

Ms. Martinez has been involved with TECHO for about six years. TECHO is currently working with six high schools, with a total of about 60 high school students.

TECHO has its roots in South America, but involvement in the United States has increased. It reaches out to high schools and universities through word of mouth, Ms. Martinez said.

“Going abroad is a great experience to open your mind. It will show you that there are a lot of other cultures, other things happening out there,” she said. “Also, doing humanitarian work is important because you can see other problems and other issues that are affecting our society around the world.”

Ki said his trips to Haiti and Mexico had an impact on how he sees his life in Weston.

“It’s really changed the way I view our priorities and our privileges living in such a great city,” he said. “Seeing all this poverty, all these poor people, and how all these kids are able to make so much happiness and fun out of nothing has really changed the way I see all the privileges I’ve been given, and it really shapes the way I try to live my life. I recommend anyone who has the opportunity to go to a Third World country to go.”

To get involved with TECHO, students can send an email to or speak to a current volunteer with the organization.

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Honorary editor brightens yearbook

Honorary editor brightens yearbook



Despite senior Parker Lerdal’s autism, his work ethic, positive attitude and influence in yearbook has earned him the title of yearbook manager.

“I feel great when I’m in yearbook,” Lerdal said. “It makes me happy because it’s awesome. I really work hard.”

Lerdal self appointed himself the position of yearbook manager, yet the staff said it was well deserved. As yearbook manager Lerdal writes stories and motivates his fellow staffers, his accomplishments have led him to be named “Staffer of the Week” nearly every week.

“Parker is a great part of our staff. He’s definitely great when it comes to morale,” said senior Courtney Rozen, yearbook editor-in-chief. “He has the ability to get people working and motivated when a lot of people on our staff don’t have that ability. That’s why he’s the yearbook manager. He has a really good memory, and he’s very detail oriented and diligent. He writes his stories on time, and turns it into the editors.”DSC03220

Lerdal began coming to yearbook at the beginning of the year. Since then, he has come every day during his lunch, so the yearbook staff decided to make him an honorary member of the staff.

“Parker brings enthusiasm. He’s always willing to do anything we ask him to do,” yearbook adviser Andre Shannon said. “We’re happy to have him as yearbook manager. He makes us more compassionate.”

Senior Lauren Park said Lerdal has become the staff’s motivation to work harder.

“It’s a great experience to be able to have Parker on the team,” she said. “He’s definitely a big help and he just makes it a happy environment. I love having him here.”

Park, the profile editor, wrote a story on Lerdal for the yearbook, which gave her a chance to get to know him better.

“It was a privilege to get to know him and more about his talent with Disney and what he does for fun,” she said. “He memorizes facts from Disney and he can just blurt them out on command. He can name the date of any ride or when Magic Kingdom opened.”

DSC03224Lerdal has been fully immersed into the staff by wearing his yearbook shirt almost every day, being a part of the yearbook club picture and participating in yearbook’s Secret Santa.

Junior Sarah Suhood, public relations manager, was Lerdal’s Secret Santa. Lerdal requested 10 Crayola fine line markers classic, 36 colored pencils classic from Crayola, two cookies and cream Hershey bars, sprite, large McDonald’s fries and sugar cookies. Suhood purchased all he requested along with a Nemo doll and a coloring book with pictures of fish, his favorite animal.

“He has just uplifted the spirits and made yearbook so much more fun and enjoyable,” Suhood said. “We always look forward to him coming in because he always walks in and says hi to everyone. He knows everybody’s name. He likes to ask everyone how their day is and give them a hug.”

Many of the staffers have known Lerdal since middle school. Junior Emily Levine, co-layout editor, knows Lerdal from the Best Buddies club in which she holds the position of special events coordinator. For Levine, it’s meaningful for him to be a part of their staff since she is an officer in Best Buddies.

“At the Best Buddies potluck dinner I met his mom,” Levine said. “She was saying how she didn’t really know how Parker came into yearbook, but she’s just really happy and it changed his life. She’s just really happy that everyone’s accepting of him and that we love him. She said yearbook saved him from not really having somewhere to belong.”

Lerdal’s skills are also appreciated in the classroom. His teacher Stacy Skolnick said he is a very dedicated student.

“He’s a hard worker and a leader in the classroom,” she said. “He’s a super senior. Parker is very motivated and friendly. He enjoys being involved in yearbook and Best Buddies.”

Lerdal is in charge of covering the special education classrooms, and he writes stories about the kids in the Exceptional Student Education [ESE] Department.

“His leadership skills have really improved since he joined yearbook,” Ms. Skolnick said. “He’s much happier, and it’s nice to see him get so involved in school. It’s given him a real purpose and drive. That’s why he writes about the kids in our department.”

Lerdal will be graduating this year and will be serving as a teacher’s helper at Falcon Cove Middle School next year. Levine said the yearbook staff will miss him.

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