What’s Girl Unity at Highland?

Recap of last school years Girl Unity

Back for another year at Highland Park is the official group, Girl Unity started by Natalie Mendoza and Selah Jacoway. Last year was the first year of Girl Unity and coming in as a brand new club the support was heart warming and inspirational. Girl Unity created a positive image for themselves which is what we strived for. We were very happy with the sucesss of creating a new club. The impact on the community was not as significant as we hoped for it to be, but we have to realize success comes in time and patience.

How was Girl Unity started?

Girl Unity was started by Natalie Mendoza and Selah Jacoway towards the middle of our 10th and 11th grade year. We were both facing many girl to girl issues in our after school sports and daily school activities; from drama, fights, cyber bullying, bad communication, and no sense of respect for one another as females. This was a negative affect on our mood, achievement of games, practices, and school work; something had to be done immediately. After expressing our thoughts and concerns we set out to start a club that would combat many of these issues.

Highland is not a bad school, and neither are the students but whenever too many girls share a small space conflicts are at times destined to arise. We made a proposal that was presented to Mr. Sager, our vice principal, he was impressed with our ideas. We where sent to Mrs. Hanson, a secretary for the principal, we agreed on a time and place to host Girl Unity, all we needed was to advertise; the movement was in motion.

We had almost 6 sessions of Girl Unity, in our first year, and in those meetings we had good discussions. We addressed the topic of the exploitation of women, color and skin division, women’s roles in society, and how to handle situations and conflicts in a healthy way. Overall, the club was a positive experience and I am excited to do it again.

Girl Unity today

Girl Unity’s first session was on Thursday, September 20, at 2:15-3:15. Natalie could not take on the club with me so I have the opportunity to lead the club this year independently. We had a turn out of 10 girls, of all grades, from 9th-12th grade. The Girls are focused and interested in the club. I am excited for the success and the impact it brings to Highland this year and in the future.

Agriculture day

Agriculture day, or Ag day, is a celebration showing animals we eat, and plants we grow. Everything farmers do, and their hard work and labor, is also shown and celebrated.

This was the 8th annual Ag day celebration at HPSH. There were chickens, pigs, ponies, and a bunny that was really big.

The lady that had the really big bunny said that she also competes in contests where there are prizes for the biggest animal and biggest crops they grow. During those gatherings they learn different tips and tricks on how to grow their crops so they can be more healthy.

While we were at Ag day we saw tractors, hay bales, and many stations that taught you how to do things related to agriculture. All the animals were with their caretakers, who would tell you about the animal while you were petting it.

Ag day is important because it educates kids on a topic that most won’t go out and look for information on their own. They do it in a way that is fun and interests us so it doesn’t feel like we’re being taught.

Some agriculture facts according to agday.org:

  • Minnesota has 74,542 farms, on 26 million acres of land
  • The agriculture business makes $75 billion dollars a year for Minnesota, with soybeans, corn, and wheat being the most commonly exported crops out of Minnesota
  • We have 188 farmers markets
  • The agriculture business looks like it will keep going strong in Minnesota.
  • Ag day’s purpose is to educate people on how food and fibers are made, “Appreciate the role agriculture plays in providing safe, abundant and affordable products” and “Acknowledge and consider career opportunities in the agriculture, food and fiber industry”

Some priorities of Ag day are: to “Involve the agricultural public relations community in support of National Agriculture Day, inform trade and general media about National Agriculture Day, provide information to increase awareness, and support and encourage programs and activities in observance of National Agriculture Day by organizations, companies and individuals”.

For more information, please visit: https://www.agday.org/about

Valleyfair day

As the school year comes to an end, Highland has been celebrating by hosting many events to close the year for its students, and especially for its senior class. This includes events like Prom, Boat Dance, AG Day, and finally, Valleyfair!

Valleyfair Day is a trip to the amusement park in Shakopee, Minnesota for Highland’s graduating class. This field trip isn’t for every grade, only seniors are invited and encouraged to attend to put a cap on all the memories they’ve made the past four years at Highland Park. This is one last field trip for the class to share together, to celebrate all the hard work they’ve put in together as a class, and to enjoy one last trip with each other.

Valleyfair offers activities for everyone who attends! They offer rides for those who do enjoy the thrills of giant, fast roller coasters, and offer different activities ranging for those who are on the more calm and collected side of things.

Valleyfair has arcade games, water rides, wave pools, roller coasters, food, and many more fun activities around the park. There are several dozen different events for every student in the graduating class of 2018. The bus for the field trip left at 9 am on Friday, May 25th!

Dare 2 Be Real

Dare 2 Be Real (D2BR) is a student-led anti-racist leadership organization. Dare 2 Be Real focuses on preventing racism in Saint Paul Public Schools. According to the SPPS website, the purpose of D2BR is to:

  • Identify and affirm students who are especially effective at navigating culturally or racially diverse settings and foster the growth of interracial allies
  • Develop and support a team of intercultural/interracial student leaders who will seek to eliminate systemic, cultural, and individual racism in their school and community
  • Empower young people as racial equity leaders with opportunities to facilitate discussion and engage in collaborative inquiry and cross-cultural learning experiences
  • Help students develop and understand their individual and collective racial identity

The program includes a wide variety of students who have the same motives. These leaders work on the relationships between staff and the students.

Participants have the choice to figure out how they want to help. The group is open to any and all ideas to solve in-school problems. Dare 2 Be Real is led by Ms. McGraw. D2BR at Highland is planned to start next school year. They want to make sure everyone of any race is able to take part in this program. Highland wants to build a strong team of leaders who want to help better the school environment. Join Dare 2 Be Real to help develop Highland into a safe, positive environment.

ThreeSixty Journalism

image taken from: ttp://threesixtyjournalism.org/summercamps

ThreeSixty Journalism has a summer camp for grades 9-11, but there are some exceptions for seniors. ThreeSixty summer camp has a 2 week session and a 3 week session, depending on which session you would prefer to take. The summer camp is based on writing; the first week is focused on learning how to write college essays, and then they help you with writing in general, mostly focusing on non-fiction stories.

They have a website where, if you’re interested, you can apply online; it’s an easy and fast application process. You just need some information about how you’re doing in school at the moment. There will be helpful directions and guides that will help you with signing up. For students who get free or reduced lunch, you may qualify for a scholarship to help pay for the camp, but others will have to pay tuition. The application deadline is May 21st, and each session starts on a different date.

There are four different sessions you can take.

  • Option 1 is 1 week long, and it starts on July 9th through July 13th.
  • Option 2 is 2 weeks long, and it starts on June 18th through June 29th. The first week, they teach you to write college essays and second week, you go into journalism.
  • Option 3 is 3 weeks long, and it starts on June 18th through June 29th, but then adds an additional week: July 9th to July 13th.
  • Option 4 is 2 weeks long, and it starts on June 25th through June 29th, and continues on July 9th through the 13th.

You get to write every day of the camp, which will improve your writing, and they also give out scholarships if you’re looking for any. So, if you’re interested in writing, give it a shot!

Do you want to join College Possible?

Overview Of College Possible
College Possible is a non profit organization that helps to make college success possible for students with low income backgrounds. With the support of College Possible, 98% of College Possible students earned college admission, and the students also graduate from college over four times more, in general. The application process starts your sophomore year, but College Possible officially begins the fall of your junior year. College Possible stays with you until you get your college degree.

What does it provide?
College Possible helps students explore the world of college options that are available to them through college visits to campuses, and a college fair. College Possible provides 4 ACT and SAT test preps, throughout your junior year, and scores have historically increased by over 20%.

College Possible guides students through the college admission process, and they provide help through the application process.

College Possible also helps to make college more affordable, by guiding students through the financial process, by helping students with finding scholarship opportunities, and by supporting them with their financial aid in college.

They offer guidance about the transition from high school to college, which includes a summer bridge workshop. It also provides support into college until you get your degree.

How does College Possible start officially ?
Each student is paired with a College Possible coach, who is caring, supportive, and knowledgeable, each year until graduation.

College Possible officially begins in the fall of your junior year. Students are required to attend after school sessions two times per week. In these sessions, students learn about, and complete the steps and paths to college, with the support of your coach and other College Possible participants. The after school sessions last until the end of your senior year.

High school seniors attend a Summer Bridge workshop, where they receive support to make sure that they are prepared to go to college.

During college, the participants are paired with a coach who will connect with them throughout the years to provide information, resources, and support so they can remain on the path to college graduation.

Who can participate College Possible?
In order to join College Possible, you need to commit to full participation, meaning that you have to come to all of the meetings after school and have regular contact with your coach. Also, you need to be available for some weekend events.

You need to qualify as low income, meaning your parent or guardian has to be qualified as low income.

You need to have a GPA of 2.0 or higher because grades are important.

You need to show an interest in attending a 4-year college or university.

Also, there is no citizen requirement whatsoever.

Meeting these criteria is necessary for you to join College Possible.

How do you apply for College Possible?
First, you fill out your basic Student Information sheet which is the white sheet, and can be found in the CCRC.

After that part is filled out, then you get a colorful packet which includes:

  • 2 Teacher Recommendations
  • Parent or Guardian Information
  • Permission for Information
  • Media Consent

Lastly, you will have to have a 10 minute interview.

If you have questions or concerns, feel free to visit the CCRC and talk to Marta or Tiffany.

Learn about your local Girl Scouts

Girl Scouts, of River Valley’s, mission statement is “Girl Scouting builds girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place.” The Girl Scout dream began in Savannah, Georgia in 1912. Juliette Gordon “Daisy” Low organized the first Girl Scout Troop. From then, she began to break the typical boundaries set on girls at the time. Low, even before desegregation, provided a gateway for young girls to participate in this activity. Low’s dream has been continued for over 100 years building courage, confidence and character.

When talking about Girl Scouts, there are six different levels; Daisy, Brownie, Junior, Cadet, Senior and Ambassador, in that order. Each level is determined by the girl’s grade. No matter what the grade, all Girl Scouts have the opportunity to earn badges, travel, sell cookies, go camping and many more activities. Each are an opportunity to prepare the girls, to better themselves for their future, and keep them on track. Each troop varies in size, but it allows each girl to develop into leaders. To this day, Girl Scouts is a 2.6 million strong organization.

In our troop, 52589, we are known as Ambassadors. During the year of 2016-2017, we have been trying different activities to earn money for our troop trip to Europe. During this trip, we will be gone for 15 days and we are going to be visiting: France, Switzerland, London, and Spain. The cost is around $4,600 and ways we earn that money is through: selling cookies, volunteering, and setting up events for the younger girl scouts. Cookie sales are around February, but the activities have no certain dates. It’s a great way to get involved and to show our leadership skills through helping the younger girl scouts form into the leaders that they will soon become.

History Day

image taken from: https://nhd.org/

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!

Dia de los Muertos

El Día de los Muertos es una  que se celebra el 1 de noviembre, y aunque muchas personas piensan que es el “Halloween mexicano”, no lo es. De acuerdo con Nationalgeographic.org, la celebración del Día de los Muertos es una combinación entre rituales indígenas aztecas y el Catolicismo. La tradición se originó en México, pero todavía se celebra en toda América Latina y en otros lugares del mundo.

Entonces, ¿cómo y por qué exactamente la gente celebra el Día de los Muertos? Al pensar que a los muertos se ofendería el duelo o la tristeza, las personas celebran y honran sus vidas con fiestas, comida, bebidas y otras cosas que disfrutaban antes de que fallecieron. Una de las formas más comunes de honrar a los muertos es creando ofrendas. Las ofrendas típicamente tienen comida, bebidas, flores de colores brillantes y otros artículos personales para la persona/gente que está siendo recordado. Algunos de los símbolos más familiares del Día de los Muertos son las calaveras, se usan para decoraciones, muñecas y son la inspiración para el maquillaje de la Catrina. La Catrina simboliza no solo el Día de los Muertos, sino también la voluntad para reírse de la muerte misma, según sfgate.com artículo “La Catrina: la gran dama de la muerte de México”

En Highland, ULA (club de Unión Latina) celebra el Día de los Muertos de manera diferente cada año. En años anteriores, hicieron ofrendas para honrar a personas importantes en la comunidad latina. El año pasado, presentaron un altar más grande durante el día escolar con una asamblea en el auditorio. Este año, ULA y algunas de las clases de Sra.Romero y Sra.Nelson hicieron ofrendas y los presentaron en la biblioteca. Honraron a personas famosas como Selena Quintanilla, Cantinflas, Prince y víctimas de desastres naturales y tiroteos masivos.

La ofrenda de ULA era brillante y colorido, algunos estudiantes honraron a sus seres queridos y tuvieron a dos estudiantes como Catrina y Catrin.

Una clase español 12 honró a Prince, quien recientemente falleció el 21 de abril de 2016.

Otra clase de español 12 dedico su ofrenda a las víctimas del tiroteo en el club en florida Pulse que tuvo lugar en el verano de 2016.

Una clase de español 11 hizo su ofrenda honrando a Selena Quintanilla, una de las artistas mas reconozida en la musica latina.

Otra clase de español 11 hizo su altar en honor a Cantinflas, uno de los actores / comediantes mexicanos más icónicos y exitosos que falleció en abril de 1993.

Las ofrendas que ULA y las clases de español hicieron y presentaron estaban muy bien pensados ​​y eran hermosos de ver. El Día de los Muertos es algo que todos pueden celebrar, es una buena forma de honrar y recordar a un ser querido fallecido.

And for those that don’t speak Spanish:

The Day of the Dead is a holiday that is celebrated on November 1st, and although many people think it’s the “Mexican Halloween” it’s not. According to, Nationalgeographic.org, the Day of the Dead celebration is a combination between indigenous Aztec rituals and Catholacism. The tradition originated in Mexico, but is still celebrated all through Latin America and other places around the world.

So how/why exactly do people celebrate the Day of the Dead? Thinking that the dead would be offended by mourning or sadness, people celebrate and honor their lives with parties, food, drinks and other things they enjoyed before they passed. One of the most common ways to honor the dead is by creating altars. Altars typically have food, drinks, bright colored flowers and other personal items for the person(s) being honored. Some of the most familiar symbols of the Day of the Dead are the skulls, they are used for decorations, dolls and are the “base” for Catrina makeup. La Catrina symbolizes not only the Day of the Dead but also the willingness to laugh at death itself, according to the sfgate.com article “La Catrina: Mexico’s grand dame of death.”

At Highland, ULA (Union Latina club) celebrates the Day of the Dead differently each year. In previous years, they have made altars to honor important people in the Latino community. Last year, they presented a bigger altar during the school day with an assembly in the auditorium. This year, ULA and some of Ms. Romero’s and Mrs. Nelson’s classes made altars and presented them in the library. They honored famous people like Selena Quintanilla, Cantinflas, Prince, and victims of natural disasters and mass shootings.

ULAs altar was bright and colorful, some students honored their loved ones and had two students be the Catrina and the Catrin.

One of the Spanish 12 classes honored Prince, who recently passed on April 21, 2016.

Another Spanish 12 class honored the victims of the Orlando Pulse nightclub shooting that took place in the summer of 2016.

One of the Spanish 11 classes made their altar honoring Selena Quintanilla, one of the most famous and successful Mexican-American singers.

Another Spanish 11 class made their altar honoring Cantinflas, one of the most iconic and successful Mexican actor/comedians who passed in April of 1993.

The altars that ULA and the Spanish classes made and presented were really well thought out and were beautiful to look at. The Day of the Dead is something everyone can celebrate, it is a good way to honor and look back at the memories of a passed loved one.

Volunteer opportunities for high schoolers in the Twin Cities

Volunteering is a great way to help out in your community, earn volunteer hours, boost your resume, and gain new experiences. There are many different opportunities right here in the Twin Cities that can suit your different interests, and here are some of our favorites.

Animal Humane Society
Calling all animal lovers! The Animal Humane Society (115 Beulah Ln, St. Paul, MN) is a great way to spend your time by helping out at the shelter by doing various tasks. You may be bathing a dog one day, and helping a customer adopt a rabbit the next. If you’re into animals and want to help them stay happy and healthy, then this may be the place for you. If you are 16 or older and physically capable of handling animals, check it out at https://www.animalhumanesociety.org/volunteer.

Science Museum
Volunteering at the Science Museum of Minnesota (120 W Kellogg Blvd, St Paul, MN) is a great opportunity for all people who love to learn all about STEM and help others! Volunteers do all types of things including preparing a fossil, helping direct families, and answering questions about an exhibit you can learn all about. You also get many benefits such as free omnitheater films, free museum admission, free parking during volunteer shifts, a discount on the museum store, and more! If you’re 16 or older and willing to dedicate 4 hours a week or 4 hours every other weekend, apply at https://www.smm.org/volunteer

Literacy Program
The Literacy Program offers a great, easy way to volunteer. Volunteer opportunities are available Monday – Thursday from 4pm-6pm. This program offers the opportunity to work with children from grades k-3 with lessons on reading, writing and fun activities to help them in their everyday lives. Volunteers would be assisting staff members with teaching the lessons, on using vowels, blending spelling, language structure, reading fluency, vocabulary and comprehension. Head on over to 690 Jackson Street St. Paul, MN 55130 for a great fun way to help out the community! For more information about this program visit https://www.volunteermatch.org/search/opp2789513.jsp

Feed My Starving Children
If you haven’t heard of Feed My Starving Children (FMSC) come out from under  the rock you’re living under. FMSC is a great, fun, easy way to make a big impact of the lives of many children. Volunteering is super simple and fun. You can bring your friends, family coworkers, anyone! Volunteers pack a specially made meal pack that suits the needs of the world’s neediest children. FMSC is also a great way for groups of people to bond and do some good for the world. For more information go to https://www.fmsc.org

Friends of the Mississippi
Friends of the Mississippi (FMR) is an organization based in St. Paul that works to protect and restore the Mississippi River in the Twin Cities region. They work in and around the river to combat things trying to disrupt the life and natural beauty surrounding our river. The Mississippi is something so close to home, that many of use take granted of in our everyday lives. Volunteering here is an amazing way to show your appreciation for the natural resource that we are very lucky to have right here in St. Paul. There are a lot of hands on opportunities to work with FMR, and can work for everyone. An easy way to volunteer is with their over 60 organized clean-ups throughout April and November. If you participate in 4 or more events you get SuperVolunteer status with a free T-Shirt and access to many events! You can also organize a group of 20 or more and complete your own event. They have a special program for students so we can complete our volunteer hours. For more information on how do get involved, click here: https://fmr.org/serve-river-participate-fmr-events

Children’s Hospital
Volunteering at the Children’s Hospital is an amaizng way to help people that need it the most. When you volunteer, you won’t be doing the tasks you might think of at a hospital; you’ll be helping to make the kid’s lives a little bit better. Volunteers help young children do what they’d be doing in school, like math or reading, and planning activities for them to enjoy. You’ll also do things like read to and play with the siblings of patients, to make their time their more enjoyable. For more information go here https://www.childrensmn.org/support-childrens/volunteer/

There are so many ways to help out all around the Twin Cities, and we hope you found something that inspires you to go out and try!