In Honduras

Alumni Strike: Katherine Fernandez


Alumna Katherine Fernandez, who graduated from the Bay in 2014, went to Honduras this past summer to aid people through a foundation called Humanity and Hope. While there, she said she built homes, taught children at schools, worked on farms and took part in different activities, depending on the village.

“I’m originally from Honduras and I go back to Honduras at least once a year to help out with the communities through other foundations,” Katherine Fernandez said. “When I was helping out in Humanity and Hope, I really enjoyed going back to my home country and helping my people. I know if I were in their position, I would appreciate someone helping me when my situation is as bad as theirs.”

After hearing about Humanity and Hope from her friend, Katherine Fernandez said she was eager to assist. Humanity and Hope assists by funding schools for children and adults to teach them how to work. Recently, the foundation partnered with a coffee factory and came to the aid of the adults in the villages get better jobs to support their families.

“When I first helped the foundation, I was surprised by how many people in Honduras needed our help; but at the same time, I was glad to be a part of something like this that would help change the world,” Katherine Fernandez said. “After this experience, I want to do something bigger than helping one country. I think from now on I want to continue in this foundation and help multiple villages across the world.”

Katherine Fernandez said this experience was amazing, as it opened her eyes to a whole new world.

“This was such a rewarding and an eye-opening experience,” Katherine Fernandez said. “I’ve always been trying to help the community but being in these villages for a week and first- hand experiencing how millions of people live really makes me want to keep doing it as much as I can.”

Through her participation in color guard at the Bay, Katherine Fernandez said she developed many traits that benefited her during her time in Honduras.

“Being in color guard really helped me learn more about my community which helped me during this experience since I had to get out there and help strangers,” Katherine Fernandez said. “We always helped each other and people in other schools out and were there for each other in the good times and the bad.”

Katherine Fernandez said being in color guard forced her to come out of her shell and become more comfortable with talking to others. She said this supported her form better bonds with the villagers while in Honduras.

“At first, I really didn’t want to be in color guard because I felt like I didn’t belong since I wasn’t talking to anyone,” Katherine Fernandez said. “[However], once I got to know my peers, the club really helped me become more comfortable talking to people.”

Katherine Fernandez wasn’t the only one who thought going to Honduras was a good idea. Fernandez’s parents, Hector and Kathe Fernandez, said what their daughter was doing was amazing.

“I think that Katherine doing something like this is amazing. My husband and I stayed in Honduras as well, we helped with other foundations while Katherine worked with Humanity and Hope,” Kathe Fernandez said.

In addition to Color Guard, Katherine Fernandez took Spanish classes and participated in National Honors Society (NHS) while at the Bay. She said out of all her classes, those were the ones that really assisted during her time spent in Honduras.

“For NHS, we did a ton of community service and I loved it which also lead me to want to keep pursuing community service after high school,” Katherine Fernandez said. “As for the Spanish classes, it helped to develop my skills in my native language and it’s always fun to help improve it especially since it’s a language I want to use in the future.”

While working with Humanity and Hope, Katherine Fernandez said she heard stories of how she changed the villagers’ lives. She said she is impressed by the progress Humanity and Hope has made and she hopes to continue positively impacting lives.

“I definitely feel a sense of fulfillment after realizing how much of an impact even small actions can have on these families,” Fernandez said. “Hearing the story of how one family can now go into town with no worries really made my heart smile because I know that I helped them achieve that.”


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Teachers find ways to make class more interesting


Sophomore Jack Ross said he spends most periods glancing at the clock eagerly awaiting the bell to ring, signifying the end of the period. He said he attempts to pay attention to his teachers’ lessons, but if he finds the teacher boring, this is very difficult.

“I’ll have the urge to use my phone or daydream instead of actually learn the lesson,” Ross said.

In earlier years of teaching, Chemistry teacher Elefteria Halivelakis said she could utilize different styles and lesson plans in order to engage students and allow them to be creative. However, now she said many teachers, including herself, have to teach to ensure that their students pass the mandatory exams. She said this can lead to students losing interest.

“When I see my students lose interest, it is my cue to switch things up,” Ms. Halivelakis said. “I like to incorporate other types of learning other than just note taking. This is a great way to redirect their attention.”

According to Ms. Halivelakis, teachers play an essential role in the education of children and the future of the world.  She said she believes that if the students are bored, it results in a poor education. Ms. Halivelakis said it is a good day for a teacher when they see that their students are engrossed in the lesson.

“I typically ask questions in order to maintain satisfactory levels of classroom engagement,” Ms. Halivelakis said.  “Interactive teaching methods are a successful way to connect with students who are accustomed to continual stimulation. If I am having a good time, I know my students are too.”

Like Ms. Halivelakis, Earth Science teacher Katherine McDonald said she tries to incorporate new and fun ways of teaching into her lesson plans.

“Brain research suggests that fun is not just beneficial to learning but, by many reports, required for authentic learning and long-term memory,” Ms. McDonald said.

While Ross said some teaching methods bore him, he said when teachers use a variety of styles, he enjoys class more.

“When teachers switch up their teaching methods, it keeps me much more engaged,” Ross said. “Teachers are preparing us for the future and the less boring the lesson, the more I want to learn.”

Sophomore Esteban Lamar said many of his teachers tend to be boring, similar to the disinteresting way teachers are portrayed in movies and books.

“There are teachers that deliver lessons in a monotone voice and read loudly from the textbook. This truly makes school painful and not as enjoyable,” Lamar said.

Studies from Washington University have shown that most students learn better when the lesson is a discussion or a group activity rather than a power point or speech by the teacher. Sophomore Spencer Levine said he believes this type of active work is beneficial.

“Having a discussion creates involvement by many students, which in theory, means that the students are focused on the current topic or unit,” Levine said.

According to Levine, working in groups is an effective way of keeping students stimulated. Ross said he agrees that he remains more in-tune when engaged in a group project.

“Doing group work helps me stay focused and I feel that I retain the information better,” Ross said.

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Wisdom teeth removal hinders winter break plans


Winter break is a time away from school where many students go on vacations or hangout with friends. However, others, such as freshman Marley Solomon, plan to have surgeries, like removing their wisdom teeth.

Solomon said she and her family have planned to get her wisdom teeth out during this winter break for a long time.

“Ever since I was a little girl, I have been planning on getting my wisdom teeth taken out over winter break,” Solomon said. “Since it’s a painful and long process it is just easier to get it done over a time when there is no school.”

Solomon said taking out her wisdom teeth was not only painful, but it was also embarrassing.

“I was so happy I didn’t have to see anybody that I wasn’t close with days after I got them removed,” Solomon said. “I was so self conscious about my face. I looked like a chipmunk.”

Like Solomon, sophomore Gillian Glater had her wisdom teeth removed over winter break. However, she said she liked being able to see people and having support from all her friends and family.

“Whenever someone in my family goes through something serious like a surgery, we all go through it together,” Glater said. “Recently, I have been thinking about how thankful I am to have that, and how often I take it for granted.”

Glater also said she loved the fact that people were able to spend time with her because school was not a priority.

“Because it was break, no one was worried about school. Therefore, I had all the attention to myself; it made me feel really special and happy,” Glater said. “I also received so many gifts, and a lot of ice cream; I was overwhelmed with the amount of love my friends showed me.”

Dentist Dr. Craig Friedman said the schedule at his office becomes a lot busier when it comes winter break time.

“A lot of kids would rather have this procedure done when school is not something they need to worry about,” Dr. Friedman said.

Because the office would not be able to run smoothly if Dr. Friedman went on vacation, he said he spends every winter break at home.

“I am constantly wanting to take a break on those two weeks, but it is just impossible,” Dr. Friedman said. “It is actually the most popular time of the year for teens to make their appointments.”

Although there are a variety of times students can get their wisdom teeth taken out, Solomon said winter break is definitely the best time, so you don’t have to miss out on anything.

“A lot of things annoy me, but not feeling comfortable with the way I look is probably the worst,” Solomon said. “Getting them taken out on winter break allowed me to feel comfortable and enjoy my days instead of missing out on school and feeling paranoid.”

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Different weather patterns impact mood


Being born and raised in South Florida, senior Emilie Vargas said the weather has a tremendous effect on her mood. She said her mood changes completely on a dark and cloudy day from how she would be on a bright and sunny day.

“On days when it is nice out and I can enjoy the sun and the breeze I tend to be in a better mood and overall just happier. It makes me more productive and more inclined to be outside and do things,” Vargas said. “On days when it is cloudy and humid, I tend to feel more tired and unmotivated. I usually do not even feel like leaving my house.”

Like Vargas, senior Alexis Maldonado said her mood changes are affected by the activities the weather either enables or prohibits her from being able to do.  She said being able to go outside or having to stay indoors can make all the difference in her mood.

“I have always loved outdoor activities and it was always disappointing when I was younger and the weather would prohibit me from playing outside or doing sports because doing those things has always made me happy,” Maldonado said. “I hated being locked inside my house because I would get so bored.”

Even now, Maldonado said, as a teenager, she hates being in her home. She said that weather restrictions disappoint her even more now that she’s older.

“ Now that I can drive, I love to go out on a sunny day and hang out with my friends and go to the beach or just go to the park and sit because it makes me happy” Maldonado said. “On the other hand, when the day is gloomy and dark it just makes me want to sit at home on the couch and watch movies.”

According to AP psychology teacher David Geller, these effects can all be psychologically explained.

“Studies have shown if a person is sad or depressed and the weather is bad, it will add to the negative emotion,” Mr. Geller said. “Also, dark increases the hormone melatonin levels, which makes you tired and decreases the hormone serotonin level, which is linked to depression.”

Mr. Geller said nice weather will tend to have positive effects on mood while bad weather will have negative effects on mood. Despite this, there are certain situations where the effects of positive and negative weather are flipped.

“Bad weather can lead to depression, moodiness and tiredness, while sunny and nice weather can lead to happiness and motivation,” Geller said. “ That being said, sunny weather can lead to insomnia, which can have negative effects on individuals.”

Mr. Geller said he is not immune to the effects of the weather, as he too feels the effects of gloomy weather in contrast to a bright day.

“I get tired when the weather is dreary. However, when it is sunny and warm, I get excited to exercise and head to the beach,” Mr. Geller said.

Vargas has learned to deal with the varying weather circumstances and tries her best to always be in a good mood, in spite of gloomy or dreary weather.

“I am a generally happy person, but I would be lying if I said that my mood doesn’t damper sometimes,” Vargas said. “I try not to let the weather affect me as much and I think that for the most part I do a good job of it.”








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Transfer students overcome obstacles


When sophomore Clementine Spaethe arrived at the Bay, she said she was confronted by a world of change and excitement. She transferred as an exchange student from France last year and had the chance to live with a host family in Weston.

“When I first came to the Bay, I was anxious to find out what this school had in store for me and how fast I would be able to adapt to it,” Spaethe said.

Spaethe said her first impression of the Bay was mostly influenced by its vast campus and massive student population.

“My first day of school was a little nerve-wracking because the amount of students in the hallways was overwhelming compared to my school back in France,” Spaethe said.

Ever since Spaethe transferred to the Bay, she said her education has blossomed because of the variety of clubs and classes offered. She is involved in the Interact Club and enjoys language classes, such as Spanish and French.

“I enjoy attending the Bay because I am able to learn and prepare for my future in a way that I could not before,” Spaethe said.

According to Spaethe, the education offered in France has many differences compared to the education at the Bay.

“Before transferring, I received a new class schedule every week and I had to stay in the same classroom all year round,” Spaethe said. “Now, school is easier for me due to the better learning environment.”

However, Spaethe said not all changes have helped her adapt to her new school environment. She said learning how to speak English made moving to a new school a slow transition for her.

“Making friends and speaking up was difficult for me at the beginning because I did not speak English well, but eventually everything fell into place and language no longer created a barrier between my classmates and I,” Spaethe said.

For sophomore Bill Jiang, transferring from Somerset Academy introduced new obstacles into both his educational and social life.

“Like most transfers, my social life obviously slowed down, but it is nice to meet new people through this process,” Jiang said.

Although Jiang’s social life was impacted, he said he pays more attention to his academic life and how his transfer has affected it.

“The Bay is definitely more academically competitive compared to my old school, but this keeps me motivated to work hard in my classes,” Jiang said.

Jiang said he misses certain features about his old school, but he is overall happy he went through this change.

“I love the atmosphere at Cypress Bay, but I miss having a smaller class where everyone knew each other,” Jiang said.

Like Jiang, junior Rafael Wever said he faced many obstacles when he first transferred from his school in Venezuela to the Bay. However, he said his optimism and determination allowed him to succeed as a new student.

“At first, I was terrified of going to school with more than 4,000 kids because my school in Venezuela was tiny compared to the Bay, but I knew I had to push through and focus on doing my best,” Wever said.

Like Spaethe, Wever said he was in disbelief when he found out about the variety of classes he could choose from.

“I knew I had to take advantage of the education that was being offered to me and make smart decisions that would benefit me in the future,” Wever said.

After finally settling into his new school, Wever said he was able to discover who he truly was.

“Coming to this school really forced me to come out of my shell,” Wever said. “I did not fit in at first, but when I began making friends, I realized how happy I would be here.”

English for Speakers of Other Languages teacher Sonia Ramirez said she plays a pivotal role in the lives of transfer students who come to the Bay from foreign countries.

“I have a big responsibility in helping new students become comfortable in speaking the English language so they can be successful in all of their classes,” Mrs. Ramirez said.

Mrs. Ramirez said she becomes more than just a teacher to many transfer students because she pushes them to be their best in not only her class, but in all areas of their school life.

“I try to fill in the gap so they can feel that they can progress in their second language and be more active as students,” Mrs. Ramirez said. “I begin to know them individually and after they are used to speaking English, I make sure they like the school and that they are comfortable in their environment.”

Although Spaethe initially faced obstacles, she was able to persevere and adapt to her new school environment.

“The Bay is an awesome school. I really think it is making me into the best student I can be,” Spaethe said. “ I love the atmosphere here and I am happy I had the opportunity to transfer to this school.”


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Students, teachers find passion in books


When sophomore Italia Averett is not binge-watching Netflix, she said she enjoys sitting at home reading a charming book. Averett said she defines herself as a bookworm because she loves to read.

“I read books all the time; every time I finish a book, I start a new one,” Averett said. “I enjoy books because I can enter a world where anything can happen, and it feels like I’m there with the characters.”

When Averett reads, she said she feels she has found herself and has gained a better understanding of some important themes such as staying true to herself. When she was younger, she said she would read during recess instead of playing with the other kids.

“I love getting lost in books, feeling the characters’ emotions with them and finding truly amazing books to read again and again,” Averett said.

Like Averett, sophomore Daniel Posada said he enjoys picking up a book and diving into another realm. Although Posada doesn’t read as often as Averett, he said he still appreciates the way an author writes their stories.

“When I was in fifth grade, I was very into Goosebumps and I wasn’t very social those days,” Posada said. “I would read so much that my mom would ban me from reading books over the summer and tell me to socialize.”

Although Posada does not read as much as he did when he was in fifth grade, he said he is still fond of books.

“I stopped reading recently because I tried to get into more classical books like the Great Gatsby, but those books are very hard to read,” Posada said. “When I tried to read them, I just got bored and stopped reading altogether.”

Like Posada, Language Arts and Creative Writing teacher Mrs. Herring said she has had a true passion for books ever since she was young. Even as technology advances, she said she thinks students will continue to read paperback books instead of electronic books.
“Students will most likely read paper books more because, first, they prefer hardcover books and second, I don’t see schools banning traditional books soon,” Mrs. Herring said.

When Mrs. Herring isn’t teaching, she said she is always reading a great book. She said she loves reading because it allows her to fall in love with the characters and world the author creates.

“I love not only reading the book but just to be able to hold it in my hands makes me feel so happy,” Mrs. Herring said. “I enjoy how books make me feel; it’s like I’m a little girl in a chocolate factory.”

Although Mrs. Herring has always had a passion for reading, she said she often lost interest in books when she was forced to read them in school.

“My love for books would come in waves. I loved books when I was much younger and then when I had to read for school, I got bored. I mean my teachers taught it to me differently, so I lost interest,” Mrs. Herring said. “Now I love books and that’s why I try to make my course interesting so when my students read, they’re not like how I was when I was their age.”

Besides feeling a part of the world the authors create, Mrs. Herring said she enjoys the writing styles of the authors, the words and the characters the authors creates.

“I fall in love with an author’s style, but more importantly I fall in love with vulnerability which is honesty,” Mrs. Herring said. “To me, that is the most important thing.”

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The Outlet: Ralph Cannizzaro

In this issue’s recurring segment that gives students an opportunity to learn more about the teachers they see every day, staffer Rachel Alexander interviews Philosophy teacher Ralph Cannizzaro.

1. Why did you decide to major in philosophy and then teach at the Bay?

I loved Philosophy with a passion. However, I did not teach it until many years later when Principal Neely, a long-time friend and my old roommate, asked me to teach at the Bay in 2005. In between, I was a circus performer, lived in different countries and was in business for myself for many years.

2. What is something that you wish you knew while you were in high school?

[I wish I knew] how important self-discipline and focus are.  You cannot have too much of it. You will need it to be successful in all areas of life.  The more of it you have, the greater your likelihood of success in everything you do.

3. What is a memorable moment you have had while teaching?

Every time the light of understanding shines in a student’s eyes; the moment they “get” or fully comprehend an idea of Plato or Aristotle, a logical fallacy or any challenging concept. Every time I receive a letter or email from a current or past student expressing gratitude for how much they learned in class or for the difference my class made in their life is amazing. For example, I received an email from a past student now in college who had taken two of my courses thanking me because had it not been for what he learned in my logic section, he would not have made it through a “weed out” Discrete Mathematics course for an Electrical Engineering major.

4. What is your favorite idea to teach in philosophy and why?

It is a three way tie: Plato’s Theory of Forms, the most important concept in the history of Western philosophy that addresses the still unsolved problem of the origin of universals; Immanuel Kant’s epistemological theory of how the mind acquires knowledge from sensory experience; and Thomas Kuhn’s concept of paradigms, our web of interpenetrating beliefs through which all our experiences are filtered such that the world we experience “out there” is really a subjective construct of our mind.

5. What is one piece of advice you would give to kids in high school?

[One piece of advice I would give to kids in high school is to] acquire as much self-discipline as you can. It takes very little discipline to do what you want to do, but great discipline to make yourself do what you don’t want to do, but which is necessary to succeed. Successful people can do that.

6.If you could have one superpower what would it be and why?

The power to get people to stop and think things through instead of reacting emotionally, to come from reason rather than emotion. Few people do. Everyone would be better off.

7. What is something your students have taught you?

[My students have taught me] to communicate more effectively to a wider array of mindsets.

8. Why is it important to have a strong moral conscience?

It is simple; you want to be treated fairly, honestly, morally and ethically. Doesn’t the other person deserve the same good deal, the same good treatment you want? Treat others how you want to be treated.

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Students “walk out” for a change


On Feb. 21 at ten a.m., over 4700 of the Bay’s students and faculty members stood hand and hand as they marched to Vista View Park to support Marjory Stoneman Douglas (MSD) and advocate for gun control. Students and celebrities took to Twitter to express their feelings about this empowering protest.

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Cramming methods help students study


When senior David Castro leaves his studying for the last minute, he said he has to make a schedule to map out the time he needs to set aside for his studying, while simultaneously keeping up with his work schedule and social life.

“Making a study schedule is the first thing I always do the night before big tests; it allows me to see exactly what I need to study,” Castro said. “With a study schedule, I know exactly what I need to do and in what order to get everything done.”

For junior Coral Chico, making flashcards is her go-to cramming studying method. She said she organizes her flashcards so that they have all the key concepts and vocabulary.

“I would not be able to do as well in school without flashcards,” Chico said. “They have basically saved my life.”

On the other hand, sophomore Talia Cohen said she creates a study area when she needs to fit all her studying into one night. She said she makes sure she has everything she needs to succeed, so she does not need to get up while she is in the zone.

“By having a study area, it helps me immensely with concentrating, and when I am cramming, I need that the most,” Cohen said. “I would definitely recommend having your own study area if you are planning to spend your night studying for hours.”

Cohen said she also gets rid of the many distractions around her while studying at the last minute for a test. She said she mutes her chats, logs off social media and puts her phone into airplane mode.

“Constant texts and calls are always coming up while I am trying to study,” Cohen said. “With my phone on, it makes it very hard to give my full attention to studying; therefore, I turn it all off.”

Although there are many different cramming methods, including flashcards and study environments, Castro said he finds teaching the material to his peers the most helpful.

“Helping your peers out with your own notes, thoughts and perspective is all very productive,” Castro said. “Just try to choose the right people and not necessarily your friends.”

While Chico said it is useful to know effective ways to prepare for tests and quizzes at the last minute, she said they are poor substitutes for proper time management.

“Effective time management makes me better prepared for upcoming tests and quizzes by allowing me to learn and absorb the information,” Chico said. “Over time, I can significantly reduce or eliminate the need to cram.”

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Large families shape personalities


With over six cousins and one sibling, sophomore Maria Seda said her life is very frantic. However, although she said her lifestyle is hectic, she said she loves having a large family.

“I have tons of cousins who treat me like their sister,” Seda said. “We are really close to each other. My family has taught me everyday things like what is right and wrong to important life lessons such as responsibility.”

While growing up surrounded by many males in her family, Seda said her childhood consisted of playing soccer and wrestling instead of playing with dolls.

“My childhood was definitely not like any other girl,” Seda said. “I really enjoyed playing soccer with the guys because it made me develop my passion for that sport and I got the chance to bond with my family more.”

Seda said she feels lucky to have all of the love in her family. She said having many caring family members near her has helped her become the person she is today.

“Without a large family, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have developed the same social skills I have today,” Seda said. “They also have taught me to never take things for granted because it can also be taken away from you.”

Like Seda, sophomore Alec Nieth said he has an oversized family. Besides his parents, his family consists of over ten cousins, aunts and uncles. Nieth said he has learned that even though he calls some of them aunt and uncle, family doesn’t always have to be blood-related.

“My family is Hispanic so we have many cousins and such. There are some people that I’ve known my whole life and I call them aunt or uncle, but in reality we aren’t related,” Nieth said. “In my family, blood doesn’t matter. So long as we love each other and are there for one another, that’s all that matters.”

Although Neith said he enjoys having a large family, he said it can be overwhelming at times.

“Having a big family has impacted me a lot in a way because they taught me to be myself, even if the world isn’t ready to accept you as you are,” Nieth said. “But sometimes having a big family is a little too much to handle because everyone expects great things from you. It’s a lot of pressure sometimes.”

By having multiple people from her family around her, sophomore Daniela Palacios said it has shown her that there are many ways to be successful in life.

“Every individual is different so it should only be expected that the way one can achieve success can vary,” Palacios said.

Like Neith, Palacios also said having a large family has its positives and negatives. Although most of the time Palacios said she enjoys its benefits, she said she also has to deal with the downsides.

“The advantages of having a large family is having big parties where you can be surrounded by your loved ones. You’ll always feel like you can identify at least a little with someone from your family,” Palacios said. “The disadvantage is having to plan reunions and buy lots of gifts.”

Although Palacios said having a large family can be rough at times, she said she wouldn’t be where she is today without her large family.

“When you feel like falling down and staying down, family gives you a reason to rise,” Palacios said. “Whenever I’m down, I think about how my large family helps me get through it.”


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