All posts by Kalista Willason

Extra Days Leads to Extra Questions

by: Kalista Willason and Jacob Herald

Who would have known the future of Chaparral High School (CHS) included lengthening the schedule? The upcoming school year (2019-2020) is going to be extended by 10 days. This is a first for CHS because since the school was built it has always run on the same (or a similar) schedule.

Most of the students at Chaparral High School that were interviewed already knew about the increase in days. Their sources were teachers such as Ms. Phillips and Mr. Bailey. Most of the students assumed the change of days had to do with test scores. One source, (Senior) Sebastian Almonte said, “I imagine we’re not performing to the academic standard that has been set for us, so they’re trying to stretch out the school year.” Another student, (Sophomore) Ray Amador said, “because students are stupid and they’re failing.”

Many students had concerns about whether or not there would be compensation for the extra long school year. Will they be able to graduate early? Would they be allowed more sick days? These are all questions they asked. The answer is, no. Students will run on the same exceptions as before and will not be allowed to miss more school even though there are more school days.

The students weren’t very opposed to the idea of a longer school year, but it didn’t seem as they were for it either. (Junior) Sara Raines said, “The biggest problem is attendance so maybe they should give us more days off so more students are able to come. The more hours we’re in school the more hours we have to owe from missing. I just don’t see the point I guess.”  (Senior) Aaliyah Navarette said, “yeah…” that she’s all for the longer year as long as they, “…space out testing.” When asked about graduation, the students didn’t see how this could possible help with graduation, “If anything, it’ll have an opposite effect.” Making it so more potential graduates don’t actually graduate.

Considering this the education department just recently received a statewide raise in pay for all the teachers, who aren’t exactly happy about the longer year. An anonymous source said, “No, I don’t support the longer school year because there’s technically no pay because of how the raise worked.” Some teachers are open to the idea of change, like Ms. Campbell who said that, “It all depends on the calendar.”  Many teachers are more focused on attendance than the testing. Ms. Garcia said, “Attendance will be affected by the extra days because it’s hard enough to get students to come to school.” Mr. Bennett said, “The students that don’t want to be here, just won’t be here. So it won’t help with attendance.” Other teachers believed the same; attendance would either stay the same or get worse.

When it comes to the extra days, many don’t realize that Texas schools have the exact same time frame.  The New Mexico schools were more relaxed than Texas schools but New Mexico seems to have taken a turn for a better education for students.

Working and McWorking

Working until you fall. That’s what it seems like.

Many students at various high schools know the struggle of trying to keep a minimum wage job as well as trying to keep up their GPA.

As a working student there are many challenges you have to face: getting enough sleep, keeping up a social life, and the obvious, going to work and maintaining your GPA. It never seems like you have enough time to do everything you need to do. I wake up early in the morning, around 6:00am to attend school and then it seems that almost immediately afterward at 4:00pm I have to rush to be to work by 5:00pm. A normal work schedule for me is from 5:00pm-11:00pm but sometimes the schedule runs overtime and I don’t get out of work until 1:00am. And the cycle repeats.

Sleeping is something that you never seem to get enough of. Getting home late at night and having to get some sleep before school can be nerve-racking to anyone. Falling asleep in class after only getting five hours of sleep becomes a norm until you realize your GPA is falling, then you end up doing homework after work and getting less and less sleep. It seems like you never win.

Not only is this lifestyle hard on the employee but it can be hard on their friends and family as well. “I wish they would give you a set schedule, it’s hard to plan for anything with you,” my mother stated one day after picking me up three hours after my originally scheduled time off. “It’s good for the money but it’s just a lot of heartache and hassle trying to work around your schedule,” said Jacob Herald.

The connections you make can either make you or break you. You have to learn who you can trust with things and who you need to stay away from. As a result of learning who to trust and who not to trust you make friends and you also make enemies.

You run into those extremely rude customers or those regulars that you end up memorizing their orders. You have to learn to deal with rude outbreaks and people being excessively frustrated over minuscule things such as only receiving one extra ranch instead of two. The regulars keeps things a little easier. They come in and you already know what they want and how they want it made. Most times, the regulars are actually a lot more understanding than a random customer.

Your co-workers are what keep you going. Their strength and support help you keep a positive attitude. When you feel over-worked and your co-worker helps you out it’s as if a weight is being lifted off of your shoulders. Then again you get those co-workers who seem to think they’re the boss of you and they boss you around. As I stated previously you learn who to stay away from.

Once you get your check it’s as if none of the hassles mattered. You go to the bank and you see the money sitting there and you think, ‘Wow. I really did it. This is my reward.’ And then it all repeats. The struggles, the stress, and the headaches all come back. Would I recommend working while attending high school? No, but who am I to tell you what to do. I’m not the boss.


Stepping Down or Stepping Up?

After 2 years, Chaparral High School (CHS) has hired a new curriculum advisor, Willie Joe Torres.

Born and raised in El Paso, Texas, Mr. Torres stuck to his roots. He taught for four years at Parkland Middle School and from there, transferred to other schools for better opportunities.  Soon enough he found an opportunity he had not experienced as of yet and decided to apply to CHS.

Torres has two decades of experience in teaching and administration. As the instructional coach at CHS, he plans to do whatever he can possibly do to help teachers improve. Torres believes our school is in need of improving educationally and experientially. He wants to make classes, “more student centered and with more collaboration.”

Comparing CHS to other schools, Torres says, “There’s no difference so far.” He described the students of Chaparral High as, “a lot older and more mature” than his previous students which is expected considering they were elementary and middle school students.

His experience at the school so far has been “great, everyone is so nice”. Torres previously had a job as an Assistant Principal which is what brought him to Chaparral High School. There are a couple reasons why Torres “stepped down” from being a vice principal; it was to “step up” as Principal for Chaparral High School. Unfortunately, for Torres, Victoria Lopez got the position. He decided to try something different and still applied to CHS. Torres was hired as the curriculum advisor, which is, “a lot more focused and possibly harder,” as Torres stated, “but I still have a lot of learning to do.”

Torres enjoys spending his time with his two sons and his wife. Torres has dreams of someday teaching in either California or Colorado, and someday becoming a principal of his own school. After two or three years as CHS’s curriculum advisor, he hopes to achieve this goal.