Hmong New Year

Hmong New Year is a celebration celebrated by Hmong people every year. It is celebrated from November 24th to the 26th, it lasts three days. In St. Paul, the New Year takes place at RiverCentre, near the Xcel Energy Center. Many people wear traditional Hmong clothes to the celebration. The celebration usually starts early and ends very late with an after party.

At Hmong New year, there are food stands that sell common Hmong food and drinks. There are also booths where people can sell stuff such as: movies, clothes, toys, medicine, jewelry, and more. Other than that, there are performances. The performances are usually dance groups, and singers, and there is also a Miss Hmong Minnesota Pageant every year.

Aside from performances, there is also ball toss area where most people hang out. Ball tossing is a game where the two (or more) players toss a ball back and forth. Usually a guy, who sees a girl he is interested in, will ask the girl to a ball toss game. During the game they guy will try to get to know the girl more, and hopes that she will be interested back.

picture courtesy of Timothy Lor

This year, I was able to go with some of my school friends. We stayed for a few hours: watching performances, eating food, and just hanging out around the ball toss area. It was a great time, and many funny things happened. I asked two of my friends (via text) about Hmong New Year. I asked: “How they felt about Hmong New Year?”, “What’s the experience like?”, and “What’s their most memorable memory?”

Timothy: “Hmong New Year has a feeling of excitement ready to be explored. There are many different variety of things, it is very impressive and fascinating. My experience at Hmong New Year felt very short as I had to leave early. Since I went with my friends from school and saw old friends from elementary, it was like walking into smiling faces with loud music. The most memorable moment from Hmong New Year was when a Hmong Chinese lady was singing. It was very graceful and pleasant hearing people cheer for other people, singing from all sorts of different ages, and seeing people that are not Hmong being there.”

Elizabeth: “Hmong New Year was alright for me, I liked it because I went with my friends, it’s better going with friends than going alone or with family because you’re more free. The experience was fun but tiring because we had walked around a lot. The most memorable memory for me was the food, they had really good food there.”




Every year, Freshmen are asked to be Shadow Hosts for upcoming Freshmen. Shadow visits are for 8th graders to see, and visit, a high school they are interested in, so it’s almost like a college visit. Shadows can shadow a Shadow Host for the entire day, joining in their classes.

Shadow Hosts are Freshmen who sign up to be a host. Their job is to show their Shadow the school, like where the gym and cafeteria is located. The Shadow Host allows the Shadow to follow their class schedule. Shadow Hosts also have to try their best to answer any questions the Shadow has, and make them feel comfortable.

If a student wants to be a Shadow, they have to call the school and make an appointment to shadow. Shadowing for Highland Park Senior High is open from November 28th to February 23rd of next year. To sign up to be a Shadow Host, students will have to talk to their counselor for an application.


History Day

image taken from:

History Day work has just started this month. With each new year, there is a new theme. This year’s theme is “Conflict and Compromise in History.” Last year’s theme was “Taking A Stand.”

The competition day will be on February 1st, and the rules will be the same as last year. History Day is usually for Freshmen, in Accelerated History class, but students in 11th grade, U.S. History, also have to participate.

The competition is usually held in the cafeteria where students’ projects will be judged at least twice by two different judges. After that, teachers will decide which students make it to the regionals competition, which is held at a different location.

At regionals, students will have the choice to redo their project, or to add improvements to it. They will also be judged twice by different judges. The judges then will decide who makes it to the State competition.

Let’s hope this year goes well for all students who choose to participate in National History Day!

New staff

This year Highland has a number f new staff members. I was able to contact two of the new staff members and asked them questions to get to know them better.

image taken from the official Highland Park Senior High website

The first staff member I was able to talk to is Xue Xiong. Ms. Xue has been teaching for five years; this year is her first year at Highland. She is an ELL teacher, and she co-teaches in an English 10 class, teaches a push-in Algebra 2 class, and also is designated as a 1.5 Social Studies teacher. Before teaching at Highland, Ms. Xiong taught at Hiawatha Leadership Academy, a charter school in South Minneapolis.

When it comes to teaching, what Ms. Xiong enjoys most is connecting with the students, and creating lesson plans for her students to understand and access content. This year is her first year of teaching in high school. Something she doesn’t enjoy so much is grading, but she says she understands the importance of tracking where each of her students is at. Ms. Xiong’s hobbies outside of school include: reading, spending time with her family, and taking naps.

image taken from the official Highland Park Senior High website

The second new staff member I contacted is Joel Gullickson. Mr. Gullickson has been teaching for 20 years now. He teaches Woodwork and Product Design. Before teaching at Highland, Mr. Gullickson taught at Frunze School in Kazakhstan for 2 years, Harding High school for 20 years, International School Moshi in Tanzania for 2 years, and Lakeview South High School for 1 year.

When it comes to teaching for Mr. Gullickson, what he enjoys most is working with the students and writing curriculum. Something he doesn’t enjoy so much is grading. Mr. Gullickson’s hobbies outside of school include: music and film. He also is a beekeeper.


Pep Fest

Pep Fest was held on October 6th, and took place in the gym.  Classes were called down by floors starting with the third and moving down. Students were to go to the side of the gym where their grade was and sit there for the entire time during the Pep Fest.

photo courtesy of Asiah Atiq

At the beginning of the Pep Fest, there were people from student council making accouncements. From the announcements, they moved onto the homecoming royalties. They started with the Freshmen pairs and then continued with the Sophomores, Juniors, and then Seniors.

The pair in each year, who got the most votes, won. Emmy Tawah and Mario Delgado Shellenberger won for the Freshman, Fernando Rivera and Cesar Ramirez-Ponce won for the Sophomores, Alex Moreno and Michelle Bourassa won for the Juniors, and The Plaid Line’s own,  Dejra Bishop and Asiah Atiq won for the Seniors. They were given sashes to wear, and some of the student council kids took their pictures. After the homecoming royalites, each fall sport was announced, captains talked about how the season went, and announced if they had any upcoming matches.

After other announcements were made, three seniors performed a dance. After they performed, the dance team came up and also performed a dance. After the dance team performed, the cheer leaders had their dance, closing the pep fest.


New Chinese teacher in 2017-18

This year, Highland Park Senior High has a new Chinese teacher, Ju-Chang Wang. Mrs. Wang teaches Chinese levels 2, 3, and Chinese Immersion 9. She is also a teacher for Study Hall. Mrs. Wang has been teaching for 19 years – she taught for 9 years in Taiwan as an elementary school teacher, and she has been teaching for the past 10 years in the Twin Cities area.

Before coming to Highland, Mrs. Wang taught at Central High School, and Forest Lake Area High School. Mrs. Wang enjoys teaching Chinese very much because teaching Chinese allows her to be creative and innovative to make learning Chinese fun.

Mrs. Wang also said that she loves working with students. She believes that everyone needs someone to believe in them so they can also believe in themselves. She says it feels great when she can be that person for young people.

Mrs. Wang is excited about this year, and she has no doubt that this year is going to be great. “I have awesome students and the best team working towards our common goals – to serve our students and strengthen the Chinese language program at Highland Park Senior High School.”

New iPads

For the next school year, teachers and students will be given new iPads to use for school. The new iPads will have a different case, along with a keyboard. The case and keyboard are navy blue. The keyboard can be attached and detached easily. The keyboard does not have touch pads, but has everything else on it.

The reasons why the school decided to get these new iPads is because they have a three year lease on them, and have been planning to get new iPads for a while now. Also, the new iPads have 128 gigabytes whereas the old ones had just 16. With more gigabytes, it will be easier for students to use the iPads, and make movies for school projects. Another reason for the change, is because the old iPads would eventually break down, so keeping the old iPads wouldn’t be worth it. Plus, the new iPads are more durable to use.

The school hopes to pass out the iPads sooner next year. The paper for getting an iPad will still be online, so students and parents can access it. The plan for passing out the new iPads is to maybe pass them out even before school starts, so students could possibly come pick up their iPad in late August or early September.

Boat Dance

Highland held their annual Boat Dance on May 19th, on a boat at Harriet Island. As there were many students attending the dance, it was suggested that students show up earlier to wait in line to get on the boat. To be able to get on the boat, students needed their student ID and ticket.

photo courtesy of Jennie Vang

From the outside, the boat was very long and big, having two sides connected together. One side of the boat was bigger and was known as the dance room. The other side was for karaoke. The boat had two levels; both levels had tables and chairs for people to sit on and hang out. On both sides of the boat, there was food, drinks, and candy, which you had to pay for, but water was offered for free.

The boat left around 7:40pm when everyone had boarded the boat. The boat then headed up the Mississippi River for about an hour and a half, and then headed back to the dock.

There were many students in the dance room. People in the dance room were all huddled and dancing near where the DJ was at. Everyone was dancing was jumping, yelling and screaming, to the songs, which made the room very humid.

There weren’t as many people in the karaoke room compared to the dance room. Everyone was allowed to sing whichever song they wanted to sing, as long as it was appropriate.

Also, for the students that didn’t sing or dance, most of them messed around and ran around the boat. Others just sat down with their friends and talked, some were on their phones checking social media, and others were on their phones playing a game.

As the dance came to an end, everyone went outside and waited until the boat stopped at the dock. We got back around 10:05pm. Everyone looked tired and cold due to the chilly wind. Some parents were already there waiting for their kids, while some students had to wait for their ride.

Badminton season

This year’s Highland badminton team had a great season. It was a very fun and wonderful season. My friend and I were able to join the badminton team this year. The coaches for this year’s season were: Mrs. Kramer and Mr. Chapman. We decided to interview one of our coaches, Mrs. Kramer, about how she thought season went.

Mrs. Kramer thought this year’s badminton season was a great season. We had a great and awesome team that showed a lot of commitment and potential. The varsity team were very competitive this year, having 3 seniors with a lot of varsity experience, and who also brought a lot of leadership. The varsity doubles team was very young, and worked very hard to get better and where they wanted to be at.

photo courtesy of Quincy Yangh

Coach Karmer continued to talk about the junior varsity team, which had their struggles with the conference tournament at Como High School, but played very well. We had a good team with the junior varsity; it was very fun to coach them. Even though they had struggled in the conference, they continued to come to practice and practiced very well. We had lost to many schools, but also won against many schools with close scores.

We then asked Mrs. Kramer what she thinks we did well and was proud of this year, and also what she hopes to see for next year. Mrs. Kramer said the best part of this year was that we all got along very well. The girls showed a lot of commitment even with busy schedules, and they made badminton their first priority.

Mrs. Kramer said she was most proud of how well the team got along with each other and had fun while learning a lot and teaching each other different skills and strategies. This was very special to them as coaches, and they were proud of what the girls brought to the team this year.

Something Mrs. Kramer hopes for the next year is that the girls will continue to play badminton even when the season is over. She would like to see them get better and improve more. Mrs. Kramer said she sees a bright future for the girls and what they’ll bring to the team the next year.

Ordway Honors Concert

The Ordway Honors Concert is a district wide opportunity for students, from various SPPS schools, to perform at the Ordway Center and show off their talents. The performances include: choir, band, and orchestra. For students to be able to participate, they had to audition at their school and be accepted.

photo courtesy of Mira Altobell Resendez

I interviewed a friend who participated in the concert. She said there were 3 rehearsals – 2 of which were at Central, and 1 at the Ordway. Each rehearsal was about 4 hours long, but the piece she played was about 20-25 minutes long. She said that the students worked with professional conductors, which was really exciting for her.

Her favorite part about participating was getting to play challenging pieces. It gave her a reason to practice more and get better. What she didn’t enjoy most was that she missed a lot of school days, which made her fall behind in class a bit.

Overall, she said performing at the Ordway was great and exciting; she got to meet and work with new people. It is a great experience to work with people across SPPS. She said she would recommend auditioning to people who are dedicated to music, and are willing to put the time into practicing. She said she would do it again if she was given the chance.