August dispatches from Marfa High School journalism class

A harrowing image of the “big bubble” in the MISD girls’ restroom. Photo courtesy of Adele Powers.

Support the Junior Class and 2023 Prom at Marfa Lights!

By Zaley and Samantha

On Friday and Saturday, September 2 and 3, come to the Marfa Lights Festival to support the Junior Class! Proceeds will go toward this year’s prom fund! Come by and spend money to support our class and ensure we throw the seniors a nice prom to remember! Friendly juniors will be selling cotton candy and aguas frescas. For those of you who love sports and will be attending the volleyball game on September 2, do not worry, we are still having a concession stand, and you can see our booth September 3! The hours will be on Friday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. 

Opinion: The MHS girls’ restroom is in bad shape!

By Samantha

As many of you know, there is currently a bond under consideration to tear down part of MHS and build a new school. In the meantime, Marfa high schoolers have to live with some pretty rough circumstances. Today, I will examine one of them: the high school girls’ restrooms, because this one’s for all my girlies out there! If you’ve been in the girls’ restroom this year then you know what I’m talking about. And for all the boys reading this, y’all are lucky your restroom doesn’t have the same problem!

As you can see in figure A, the recent rain has made gigantic pockets of water that leak and then burst, destroying the paint and possibly dripping on girls in vulnerable situations.  

In an interview with a junior at MHS, Kily Ortiz, I began by asking, “What are your experiences in the girls’ restroom?” 

She replied, “One word, disgusting! The roofs are leaking and it makes me very uncomfortable when I pee.” 

She sounded very grossed out.

“How do you feel about the big bubble in the big stall?” I continued.

“I feel like it’s all going to fall on my head,” she shot back.

I then asked my final question. “Do you have any hope that they will fix it?”

With a slight laugh she said, “No, it has been soggy –– for years.”

The second person I interviewed was Liani Salcido, another junior at MHS. 

“Have you been in the girls’ restroom this year? Do you feel safe being in the big stall?” I began. 

She interrupted me, “I have been, and ummm no. I do not feel safe. I feel like something is going to crawl up my leg. I’m scared every time I sit down the big bubble is going to pop over my head.” 

“Any last details you’d like to add since we are already on the restroom topic?” 

“The sinks do not work at all, like the hot and cold water don’t work anymore. And there’s always toilet paper all over the floor.” 

Moral of the story: the HS girls’ restroom needs lots of attention, besides just empty trash cans collecting rain in the stalls! 

2022-2023 School Year policy change

By Chris and Isaiah 

This school year, many of you have noticed teachers and administrators are cracking down on rules and the school policies. You may remember that last year, if you had your phone out, it would not automatically be taken up. Or perhaps you’ve noticed the school dress code is a little stricter this year. No matter who you are, students can definitely tell that the rules are a little tougher this year.

So, these reporters went around the school asking staff, teachers and students what their expectations and thoughts were this year regarding such rules and policies. 

First, we spoke to sophomore Xavier Davila. He said, “Well I don’t know man, I mean if we’re talking about the phone rules, I definitely agree with the you-have-to-pay-the-$15-whenever-you-get-it-taken-up, but they should let you use them more in the hallways and such.” During the course of our interviews, these reporters were shocked by a lot of people actually agreeing to the new paying-for-your-phone rule. 

In a separate interview, Vinnie Quintana said, “Oh yeah! Well I mean it sucks and all, but as long as that money goes to helping us here at school or supporting the students, I don’t really care. Also I think that they should change the closed campus rules. I mean, for junior and seniors, really. If you’re old enough, there should be a level of responsibility expected from our students here.”

When my partner Chris and I were interviewing, more than half of the people we spoke to kept mentioning the fact that the fee you have to pay if you get your phone taken away should go into a fund for the students, like for events and such. 

Vinnie said, “You know one thing that is really dumb, is how if they even get the smallest suspiscion, your phone immediately gets taken away. It’s very OUTLANDISH!” Vinnie said with characteristic emotion and hand gestures.

While interviewing the staff, Mrs. Gomez had to say that, “Nothing’s really wrong about the rules! One thing that should change is that y’all should be wearing uniforms.”

After that, we went to the coaches down by the field house to see what they had to say. Coach Alferez said, “You know when it comes down to the new rules and such, I think that it’s a bit more strange this year. Such as the new school emergency training and the new cell phone rules. Specifically the cell phones, I mean it’s good and bad in both ways. Good because you can use it as a resource and a good way to stay in touch with parents. Then you have the fact that they can be a distraction and get a student off track.” Coach Alferez was supportive of the new rules but thought the smallest changes could be made.

My partner, Chris, then went on to ask what he thought about the new rules regarding attendance and tardies. Coach said, “With all that, I think there should be a reward, man, like a pizza party or ice cream for those that do follow the rules and are responsible.” Also Coach said, for the record, “TACO TUESDAY EVERYDAY!”

To conclude, with what the school students and staff had to say, it seems that most people are okay with the new rules, and also there were some ideas for tweaks that could be made.

Marfa Cheer Squad

By Zaley

As cheerleading is one of my favorite things to be involved in at this school, I decided to dedicate my first newsletter article to the subject! I asked questions of the other cheerleaders to understand their perspectives and learn about their favorite part of cheer.

I started with Taryn, a MHS freshman who was on the JH team for two years. I asked her how it feels to be on the varsity cheer squad. She daintily answered, “It’s good, I like it, it’s probably better than junior high, honestly.”

“Do you plan to stay in cheer for the rest of your high school career?” I asked.

“Yes.”

To draw out Taryn, who is definitely a little shy, I prodded a little. 

“Why?” I asked.

To which she replied, “I like cheer. I like being in cheer.”

I told Taryn that she’s gotta give longer answers, and it seems that she was having trouble coming up with anything more to say. I asked her what her favorite part about cheer is, and she answered, “Dances.” 

With hope that our cheer captain might be a little more chatty, I moved on to the star of the cheer team: senior Lesly Torres, who is in her second year as captain and sixth year in cheerleading. I started by asking, “Do you enjoy being captain?” 

Lesly warmly replied, “Yes! I do, because I like to lead my team and try to keep everyone in control and still have fun and bond.”

Next, I asked, “Do you have a goal as cheer captain?” 

She paused to think for a second and answered with an optimistic “Yes! To make the most out of my senior year.”

When I asked her about her favorite part of cheer, she quickly and surely answered: “The bond with my team.”

With the interview nearing an end, I asked if there was anything she wanted to add, and she hesitated and thought carefully for a moment. “Cheerleading has taught me many lessons but has also helped bring joy into my life,” she concluded.

Lesly also mentioned that she recently made the All-American Cheerleading team. This means she can try out to be a professional Universal Cheerleading Association cheerleader after she graduates from high school –– which she does plan to do. Upon graduation, Lesly can teach cheer camp anywhere in the U.S. and judge competitions for UCA.

I next interviewed Juan, whose perspective I was interested in because he is the only guy on the squad. I jumped right in with a question that may have been a little bold, “Is it awkward being the only male cheerleader?” I asked.

He answered, “A little bit. It gets um… it kind of gets quiet. Everytime we go to camp, it gets quiet, but it doesn’t bother me that much.”

For my next question, I brought up my personal favorite part of cheer, our new dance and stunt routine, and asked Juan what he thought about it.

His answer was unexpected: “It’s okay… I feel that we can get the hang of it if we keep practicing and being responsible.” 

Perhaps he’s talking about our ripples (a very specific and time sensitive dance move) at the end of the dance, which are still slightly off. 

I asked Juan about his favorite part of cheer, and he answered that his favorite parts are the cheers, dances and spending time with the squad to get to know them.

I concluded the interview by asking if there was anything he wanted to add about his experience.

“I joined cheer because I wanted to know, like, how does it feel? Like, everything that they do, and I kinda feel it helped me to find myself.”

Juan is right, that cheer at MHS is an identity that can and does define one in high school.

New MHS freshmen take on high school 

By Taryn and Messiah 

The transition from middle school to high school is always a scary time! It’s universal. This reporter and my partner, Messiah, began freshman year 10 days ago. We are nervous about embarking on this adventure, and decided to report on how our classmates and former freshmen feel about the transition to high school. We decided to use journalism as a way to cope with the new reality of ninth grade! 

Ayven Pipen is another new freshman in Marfa. He always has a lot to say, and when we asked him whether he preferred high school or junior high, it took a while to get him to quit chatting and focus. After asking him multiple times and finally getting his attention, Ayven said, “High school [is better] because classes are better and you learn more and really, really have the freedom and opportunity I will have this year.” We moved on to the next question, because he went on to talk about other things that we didn’t think were necessary to include in this article.

“How are you feeling this far into the year?” we asked. 

He replied, “Feeling good, and I feel like I am understanding this material a lot better.” 

“What are you most excited about this year?”

Avyen replied to us with a characteristically funny voice, “Biology, because really science is my thang!” At this point, we couldn’t tell if he meant what he was saying or if he was trying to be a clown.

We grilled him with one more question. “How did you feel on the very last day of eighth grade before promotion to ninth grade?” Personally, these reporters thought that day last year was honestly depressing, due to the fact that we were leaving amazing teachers behind and the memories of junior high. But, in a way, it was exciting since new teachers and experiences were on the way. In Avyen’s opinion it was the opposite. Avyen said he was happy at the end of last school year to learn he’d passed his classes and wouldn’t have to repeat them again!

The person we interviewed next was Darren Campos, a freshman football player, #35, here at Marfa. He’s a guy that always talks about monkeys (his favorite animal), how much he loves sports (most of all football), and acts silly most of the time (but other times acts like an angsty teenager).

Like we asked Ayven, we started by asking Darren what he prefers so far, middle or high school. After what felt like hours of him thinking, Darren finally answered, “Junior high was easier, but high school is more of a challenge for football and classes, so I say both.”

“How are you feeling this far in the year?” We drilled into him to get him back on track after he went on a tangent about monkeys. Darren replied with an angry tone “I feel like this school year was more strict since we have so many rules now!”

We asked Darren what he’s looking forward to the most this school year, and the football addict said, “This football season and getting to hit players from the other teams!” For us, this wasn’t a surprising answer at all.

“How did you feel on the very last day of eighth grade?” we asked. 

He answered, “Promotion was surprising because I passed! And the day was alright, I guess.”

To get a different perspective on freshman year, we decided to interview a few upperclassmen who have already been through it!

First, we talked to sophomore Annaka Salcido. She’s got dark hair and shows beautiful, amazing lambs at 4H competitions. When we asked her about her first year of high school, she replied, “It was okay. I didn’t pay attention to all of it and was excited for school to end. But then I liked it in between.” She laughed at herself, remembering last year.

Next, we spoke with MHS junior Tony Saenz. Tony wears a hoodie no matter what the weather, and he can be evasive when being interviewed. Nonetheless, he told us his freshman year “was hard for me because I was lazy. I was excited about going back to school, since I didn’t like being online. I’m enjoying junior year way more.” (Tony’s freshman year coincided with the COVID-19 pandemic.)

We next approached senior Juan Bautista. Juan is funny and a great cheerleader. He said during his freshman year, “There was a lot of drama! It was the worst year; it was hard transitioning to high school. As a freshman, it felt like I was in the dark.” Juan went on to say that he is enjoying senior year the most, since he has found his identity. We ended by talking about the drawing he’s currently working on, and found out he is an amazing artist.

Finally, we interviewed the amazing English teacher Ms. Foster. Ms. Foster graduated from MHS in 2002, was Miss MHS, and was Bull-it. She had so much to say about what she remembers from her freshman year at MHS, “It was different because of the building. It was just looking up to high school. And to actually be as cool as them was the most exciting thing.” When she got into high school she was trying out to be the MHS mascot. If she had a time machine, she would transport us back to her freshman year because of how fun things were without technology.

After speaking to our classmates, upperclassmen and teacher, we learned that freshman year is different for all people. This reporter and my partner personally think that freshman year will go by quickly, and will be unforgettable!

Senior year!

By Tori and Alex

It’s about time someone shines the light on us seniors! For our first article, we decided to get nice and personal.

We began by asking a few questions to the very teacher who raised us, who has been teaching us since the third grade, the one and only Ms. Foster! We pulled her out of class to ask, “What were the best moments with us?”

“I know everyone is going to say the trip to Houston,” she said, shaking her head before continuing. “The first time we watched Gremlins,” she said with a grin. “It was enjoyable to watch everyone pick out their character. Dimetrey being serious and quiet, whereas Tony was the one swinging on the fan.” We all shared a laugh, remembering. 

Where do you see us in the future?

She thought to herself for a moment. 

“I would hope you take the time to think about what you want to do, explore your options and try new things before you dedicate yourself to something.” she replied. 

“Any advice?” we asked.

“Be humble.” she said, pointing to us. “It’s easy to want to leave town, but you should never forget your roots. If you decide to come back, we’ll be waiting with open arms!”

We were touched, she was pulling at our heartstrings. We asked her a final question.

“How have you seen us grow over the years?”

Trying not to tear up, she responded “I loved how each of you developed and found yourselves.” she nodded. “Your class has a personality that’s so intense it shines,” she went on proudly. “It’s hard to let go, but I know you’ll do great things,” she said with a smile. These reporters tried not to cry as we concluded our interview.

Feeling emotional, we went on to ask our classmates about the beginning of the end (we maybe wanted to make them cry!) Our first senior was Aubrie, and we asked her about the best or worst memory she has with our class.

She paused for a moment before smiling, clearly about to unravel a good story. “Our trip to NASA was the best memory, of course,” she began. “We were swimming at the hotel. I remember we all ran down to the pool and jumped in without permission.” She was giggling by now. “At one point, we all wanted to try the jacuzzi, so we ran over and tipped our toes in, then took off back into the pool. We kept doing that until we got yelled at. Also, Alex held his breath underwater in the jacuzzi, and we were all freaking out!” She finished, having a huge grin on her face.

Another classmate we interviewed was Janelly, recently returned to MHS after two years of homeschooling. Our question to her was, “Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?” She predicted that she was probably going to have a steady career and a house near her parents. Her best memory with us is when Alex wrote “scalp banana” on a banana. While trying to get her to explain, she was hunched over, laughing really hard about an inside joke. 

Our final classmate was Nathan. We asked, “If we were to talk to a coach, what would he say your greatest strength(s) are?”

Nathan gave us a blank look before nodding to himself and beginning, “Dedication towards our future games.”

Getting more personal, I asked him what was one thing he wanted to do before he died. He replied, “Go on a cruise ship!” 

I urged him to explain. “Just to explore,” he shrugged. 

Senior year is the most emotional part of one’s school career. I didn’t think it would approach so soon, and it’s another huge step forward. There’s no stopping now!

Six-man shootout

By Darren

On Friday evening, August 26, six six-man football teams squared off in Alpine at Sul Ross Stadium. The Marfa Shorthorns, led by the only senior on the team and team captain Nathan Pena, played Grandfalls.

When I interviewed Coach Alferez, I asked how he thought the football team would do in Friday’s game. He said, “I think they will do good, I hope they are hyped and I believe we can win easily if we keep on practicing hard.” 

Senior Nathan Pena was also optimistic, stating, “I’m hoping it goes well and we win!”

I also interviewed my brother and running back Derick Campos. I asked him why he likes football, and his answer was, “I don’t know, it’s just a fun sport and just an all around good sport to play.” 

I then asked him what he’s looking forward to this season. He shouted back at me, “Getting those DUBS!”

When I interviewed team captain Nathan Pena, I again asked him the reason that he likes football. He answered seriously, “I guess just the connection we have on the field.”

Then I asked him what it’s like to be the only senior on the team. He replied, “It’s hard to lead the team and be the role model for them too.” 

Alpine and Marfa high schools: A comparison

By Piper

I recently transferred from Alpine to Marfa this year as a freshman, you can easily spot me by my unsightly bright pink hair in the hallways (it was supposed to be red, but I had an incident with the hot tub!).

So far I like Marfa very much, but the question remains: What’s the difference between Alpine and Marfa high schools? From my own experience, Alpine is a much larger school district; whereas my old class had roughly 70 students, here in Marfa there are 16 students in my class. But class size is not the only difference here! So, I asked a favor from some of my old friends and some of my new friends and set up some interviews.

I asked five questions to four friends, two from Alpine, two from Marfa. 

I began with my friend Sye, a fellow ninth grader who is beginning her high school career at AHS.

“Since the new Alpine HS was recently built, what do you miss from before it was under construction?”

“I miss the sense of tradition that’s been in the school,” she texted me, “We walk in now and think of a fresh slate with no thought of the old school.”

I then reached out to Raul, another AHS ninth grader. He was more terse about what he missed from the old AHS. He wrote, “Simplicity.” 

I then asked two fellow ninth graders from Marfa, Taryn and Messiah, and both Alpine students: What are their favorite extracurriculars or sports that (Alpine/Marfa) offers?

Taryn said, “Basketball and cheer.” 

Messiah had the same response, “Basketball and cheer.”

Raul told me AV technology and band are his favorite classes, and Sye responded that she likes graphic design and art.

I then asked “What do you wish your school would offer?”

Taryn said she wants more music programs whereas Messiah just wants more clubs. Raul wants more languages other than Spanish to learn, since he already speaks Spanish. Sye gave me a more detailed and thoughtful response saying, “I wish they could offer a trial and error option for possible career pathways; for example if I wanted to try being a chef I would be able to observe chefs in the area or take local classes. If I didn’t like what I tried or observed I would be able to try something different before I graduate and finalize my plan for a career I’d enjoy.” 

I then asked my friends a fourth question, wanting to know what their favorite classes are in their respective schools. MHS student Taryn said she prefers science class and journalism, and Messiah, my other interviewee from Marfa, said she also likes our journalism class and biology.

I then asked my Alpine interviewees, and Raul responded, once more, that he loves AV technologies (which isn’t that surprising considering his capabilities in that field); Sye responded that English class and art class were her favorites this year. 

So finally I popped the fifth and final question: who has better cafeteria food? I personally wanted to know who has the superior food between the districts! Taryn and Messiah both responded that the french toast and snack bar are the best parts of the MHS cafeteria, whereas Raul said the  calzone/enchilada mystery dish from the Alpine cafeteria is delicious. Sye said she enjoys the spicy chicken nuggets, which I personally agree were the best.

This concluded my research and interviews. Marfa and Alpine high schools are very different and offer very different learning and social experiences.