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.”



The origin and brief history of Halloween

It’s that time of year again! That’s right, it’s almost Halloween, my personal favorite. Halloween is a holiday that, in modern times, celebrates ghosts, ghouls, zombies and anything spooky really. And of course, free candy! Who doesn’t love the free candy? However, Halloween is a very old holiday with a rich history that not many know about, including myself. So I researched the origin and history of my favorite holiday and here’s what I found.

Halloween originated in Celtic tradition with a festival called Samhain (pronounced sow-in), which was celebrated on the same day as modern Halloween. During Samhain people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off ghosts. During this day, Pagans believed that the worlds between the afterlife and the living aligned, allowing ghosts to walk freely around the living world. They believed the ghosts would wreak havoc on their crops and spread illness.

In the 7th century, Pope Gregory III dedicated May 13th as a time to honor the saints, which included some aspects of Samhain, and during this time they would commemorate the dead.

In the 9th century it was changed to November 1st. Many historians believe it was changed to overshadow the Pagan festival. It was called All Saints Day, and the night before that was called All Hallows’ Eve which was later called Halloween.

By 1550s, Allhallowtide – a three day event, was recognized and almost obligatory in most of Europe. During these three days people would mourn the dead, dressed in black, and treat on soul cakes which were given out to remember the dead.

The 1700s is when some of the modern practices of Halloween come into play. People celebrating Samhain, would go door-to-door exchanging sung songs for food, and doing so while in costume, of course. Some would play pranks on people and hold lanterns made of gourds to imitate the malicious spirits that come out during Samhain. Even bobbing for apples was recorded in Scotland, but it was called “dooking.”

During the 1800s an influx of Scottish and Irish immigrants came to the U.S. bringing along their Halloween traditions.

Which brings us back to the present. Now, Halloween’s humble beginnings are but a tale lost, mostly, to time. And possibly bad record keeping.

For more information about the origins of Halloween, please check out the following websites:

Highland Park Senior High School Homecoming Dance

The Highland Park Homecoming Dance is a tradition at our school, and it happens every year. Some people go to the Homecoming Dance to be have fun and enjoy the music, and others think it is a good place to meet new people and hangout with friends.

I also took time to specifically ask some of the freshman what they think about the dance, and how they feel about it. Some of them told me that they were hoping to meet some cute guys and talk to people they don’t talk to doing school hours, and also to get to know more people.

Picture of the author at the dance

I also interviewed some of the seniors, and I asked them how they felt about this being their last Homecoming Dance at Highland, and what will they miss about it. Some of them told me that they will miss their friends, and the fun. They also told me that they are so ready to leave the school because they were tired of seeing the same faces every year, spending money for the same things, and that they were glad that this was their last year so they will meet new people and see new things.

I also got to ask some juniors, who were going to the Homecoming Dance for the first time, about why they never go, and they told me that they went this year because they wanted to know how it looked.


Grand Old Days

If you didn’t go to Grand Old Days this year in St. Paul, you missed out. The festival this year was held on Saturday, June 4th, and it lasted all day long. Grand Old Days is a fun filled exciting day that runs up and down Grand Ave all day. The day is full of fun activities like bouncy houses, slides, and fun little mini games like bags or home run derby.

There is also a lot of different kinds of foods available. The food is served via food stands and is cooked right in front of you, so it is always new and fresh. The foods they serve include all your typical festival foods like corn dogs, hamburgers, and hot dogs, but there are also some different foods that in my opinion taste better. The options don’t stop at food though, and there are many drinks like Jamba Juice, lemonade, soda, and this year I even saw drinks served in whole coconuts.

Grand Old Days is a place to go if you want to go and have a good time with your friends and family or by yourself.

Once you have eaten and walked around, and enjoyed what there is to see, you can have a little rest and wait for the parade. The parade is a fantastic parade that includes small and big businesses and organizations, shops on Grand, and of course candy. The parade is never disappointing and always very interesting to see what floats they make to use in the parade. This year there was a wide variety of floats in the parade ranging from small flashy and colorful floats to huge floats packed to the brim with people throwing out candy.

Grand Old Days, as an overall activity, is a great family friendly fun event where you enjoy every second that you are there. I know that I had fun at Grand Old Days and I’m confident that if I asked people that went they would say the same.

Another thing that is very cool at Grand Old Days is the amount of local businesses that have been given space and booths at the event. Many events now are just overrun by big companies and businesses, but at Grand Old Days, and in most of St. Paul, they encourage and support small businesses and local stores or companies.

On the Grand Old Days webpage, they have a whole section devoted to local businesses, and at the event they have two whole blocks set aside for local businesses. I think that this is a very cool thing that they are doing because, like I said before, most events are overrun by big companies and businesses, but I feel that new ideas do need to be expressed and I’ve found that most small and local businesses have very unique and new ideas. Now this isn’t to say that every small business does, but it is more common. This is why I enjoy Grand Old Days as much as I do, because they give everyone a chance to express themselves and share what they have to offer.

Cinco de Mayo performance 2017

On Thursday, May 4th, Highland had its annual Cinco de Mayo performance.

photo courtesy of Señora Romero

The day performance took place during 7th hour and most classes got to go down to the auditorium to watch it. Outside the auditorium there were paintings reflecting the Latino culture. The stage was decorated with red, green and white balloons and a 3D flower backdrop. Pinatas hung from the balcony and banners the 1862, Battle of Puebla painted on them were displayed across the walls. On the stage a Mariachi played while students, parents and teachers found their seats. The performance started shortly after everyone was seated.

This year was a little different than last year. This year’s dances included Bachata, Traditional Aztec dancing and El Baile de Los Viejitos. There was also a special performances by Sra. Nelsons first and fifth hour Spanish Immersion classes. Her first hour danced Cumbia and her fifth hour danced Merengue. The Folklorico dancers had the Mariachi play live during their performance and it was a surprise to everyone.

All performances and dancers looked amazing and well rehearsed, and even though the bell rang during the last performance, it was a very well put together performance.

photo courtesy of Señora Romero

Before the night performance, families were invited into the field house for dinner. Everyone who showed up seemed to enjoy the meal.

The night performance went in the same order as the day version. The night show did not have a live Mariachi performance, but it did included more Aztec dancers and drummers than the day show. Overall, the performance was the same except the Folklorico dancers actually got to finish without the interruption of the 2 o’clock bell.

In my opinion, with more dances and the stage being decorated very nicely, this years Cinco de Mayo performance was my favorite so far.

photo courtesy of Señora Romero

Fyre Festival scam

Many millennials were excited a couple of weekends ago about the new music festival deemed the next Coachella or Lollapalooza. The first ever Fyre Festival had its kick off and went to absolute shambles.

The Fyre Festival was advertised as a “luxurious music event with many A-list artists” but none of those artists showed up. The festival organizers, Ja Rule and Billy McFarland, were trying their best to make this an amazing event, but things didn’t go to plan. Even the employees don’t know if they are going to get paid. Billy McFarland said, “Just keep working ’til Friday, and we’ll let you know Friday.”

This isn’t the first time one of Billy Mcfarland’s entrepreneurial ideas has gone bad. In August, of 2013, McFarland launched his new black card, Magnises. The black card was geared, and advertised, towards Millennials. It stated it could “unlock your city,” as it included many luxury benefits such as member only concerts from various artists and top seats for certain sport events. The black card was launched originally only in New York City, but then expanded to San Francisco and Washington D.C. Many customers started complaining about the card though. One customer, according to, stated that they would send the same exact email for every problem, but it was more like a fill in the blanks.

In the end, the Fyre Festival was supposed to be a luxury music event with the average ticket being $12,500. Ja Rule and Billy McFarland, the Fyre Festival founders, stated they will try again next year, offering free tickets for those who paid this year. For now though, they are facing up to 100 million dollars in lawsuits for false advertisement and not paying employees.

The History of Cinco de mayo

Cinco de mayo, or the fifth of May, is coming up and many people don’t know the history of this day; many actually confuse this date for Mexico’s independence day which is actually on September 16, many months away from when Cinco is celebrated.

Everything started during the French-Mexican War (1861-1867) when Benito Juárez was elected as Mexico’s new president. Throughout this war, Mexico was in deep debt and the new president had to stop all payments to the European governments, which created problems with France, Britain, and Spain. After Benito Juárez stopped sending them money, the European governments sent naval forces to Mexico. They demanded a repayment from the president. Britain and Spain made an agreement with Juárez, soon after their naval deployment, and they both withdrew their forces. France however, took the chance to try and overrun the Mexican territory. Not long after, 6,000 French troops were sent to Puebla de Los Angeles.

After hearing about the plan that the French government had, Juárez gathered 2,000 men to go fight in Puebla. They went and prepared for the French to come and start an assault.

On May 5th, 1862, The French attacked. The battled didn’t last long; over 500 French soldiers were killed and only fewer than 100 Mexican soldiers. The French retreated, and after that day, May 5th represented a huge victory for the Mexican government.

Cinco de Mayo is mostly only celebrated in Puebla, where the battle took place, but some other countries also take part in the celebration. For many Mexicans though, the fifth of May is like any other day. In the United States, Cinco de Mayo is seen as a celebration of Mexican culture and its heritage. It’s celebrated with parades, parties, traditional Mexican foods, and huge festivals.

So, go out and see all of the cool and colorful festivals and parades with some loved ones and never forget the history of Cinco de Mayo.

Prom 2017

This year for prom, like previous years, the prom committee will be selling tickets for those who want to go. All tickets will be handled, and sold, in Ms. Becker’s room – 2214.

Each week, the price of the tickets will go up by $10, so we encourage you to buy your tickets as soon as possible to spend less. The first batch of tickets will have the starting price of $35, and can be purchased at the following times:

  • Wednesday, April 19, at 2:05 PM
  • Thursday, April 20, at 2:05 PM
  • Friday, April 21, at 7:00-7:15 AM, during 2nd lunch, and at 2:05 PM

Monday, April 24 – Friday, April 28, the price of tickets will be increased to $45. The tickets will be sold at:

  • Monday, April 24 – Thursday, April 27, at 2:05 PM
  • Friday, April 28, at at 7:00-7:15 AM, during 2nd lunch, and at 2:05 PM

The week that will be different is the week of prom. The tickets will be avalible for $55 on:

  • Monday, May 1, at 2:05 PM
  • Tuesday, May 2, at 7:00 – 7:15 AM, during 2nd lunch, and at 2:05 PM

Make sure to remember to buy your tickets as soon as possible! Not only will this help you, but it will help us, the prom committee, as well.

– Anyone age 21 and above may not attend prom.
– If you are bringing anyone that does not attend our school, then you will have to go to Ms. Becker to get a permission form. This form will have to be submitted by May 2.
– Unapproved guests will be turned away, even if they have a paid ticket.

*All attendees must have a photo ID to enter prom.

American Red Cross blood drive

The American Red Cross (ARC) is an organization which focuses on providing emergency and disaster relief to families. The ARC has services in 4 different areas: comfort and communication for military service and their families, collecting blood donations, educational programs, and international relief programs.

One of the most well known, and highly needed services, the Red Cross offers, is the process of collecting blood. According to the ARC, about every two seconds someone in the US needs blood, and the most needed type of blood is O negative. O negative is important because if there is no time to test for a person’s blood type, O negative will work with any blood. Many cancer patients will need a blood transfusion frequently – sometimes every day. The average blood transfusion is 3 pints, and every donor will give about 1 pint of blood, but the average car accident victim can use up to 100 pints of blood.  

The process of donating blood is a very safe process. The nurse drawing blood uses a sterile needle, which is only used once, then discarded. Blood donation has four steps to it.

  • The first step is registration
  • The second step includes having the doctors/nurses get a medical history and do a mini physical
  • Third, you donate
  • Fourth, afterwards you receive refreshments

The actual time it takes someone to donate their blood is 10-12 minutes, but the whole process can take up to an 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Highland Park Senior High hosted the Red Cross on March 17th. Highland had 50 people show up – giving a total of 41 pints. Many of the students at Highland were very anxious and scared. One student, Michaela Malone (11) said, “I’m very nervous to give blood because I’m afraid of needles.” Later she said, “I’m scared that I will faint, but I’m excited that I will be helping a person in need.”

As I talked to other students the word was the same, Lane Fry (11) mentioned, “I feel like I’m gonna die. I wanted to donate my blood because it’s St. Patrick’s Day, and I thought many people might need blood tonight. I also just wanted to do something good for myself.”

Many of Highland’s students also volunteered to help run the event. Highland students did most of the stuff that kept things running smoothly so the nurses could focus on collecting blood. I asked Jilly Wortman (11) what she did to help out. Jilly replied with, “I signed people in, gave information to donors, supplied water for people, and I also comforted people while they were donating blood.”

Will Pribula (12) was donating not only for the good of other people but for himself. As I asked him how he was feeling before the donation he said, “I’m really bored and kind of wanna get this over with. It’s not what I thought. I imagined that I would come donate blood and leave but instead I’ve been sitting for an hour, getting bored and the music selection is poor, but at least I’m getting out of class.” His reactions after we’re surprisingly different as he said, “It was very relaxing and I feel great about donating today.”

Neesha Moore (11) felt the same after the donation process as she told me “It was a blast! I encourage everyone to do it. It was a weird feeling of happiness, dizziness, and relaxation. I feel like I should be giggling, but that’s probably due to the amount of blood loss.”

Día sin inmigrantes

b806420“Día sin inmigrantes” fue el jueves 16 de febrero de 2016. Los Estados Unidos se unieron para protestar. Aquí en Minnesota, tuvimos una marcha que comenzó en el Consulado Mexicano (797 7th St E 55106) pasado centro de la ciudad, todo el camino a la capital. Durante la marcha hacia la capital hubo muchas paradas para ver a los bailarines aztecas. Cerca de 300 personas marchaban, y había más gente allí.

Muchos grandes restaurantes y tiendas estaban cerrados, tales como:

  • El Burrito Mercado
  • Boca Chica Restaurant & Taco House
  • El Nuevo Rodeo
  • La Loma Tamales
  • Las Mojarras
  • Panaderia San Miguel
  • Los Ocampo
  • Taqueria Los Paisanos
  • Los Gallos (las 15 localidades)
  • Salón de Belleza Avandaros

Estos eran sólo algunos de los lugares populares que estaban cerrados, pero había muchas más empresas que estaban cerradas. Mi papá cerró su negocio, J.P Auto Body pero no asistió a la protesta conmigo. En la capital, los bailarines aztecas continuaron actuando y gritando “Un pueblo unido, jamás será vencido”, “Si se puede” y muchas cosas más, Dirigido principalmente a Donald Trump.

Como alguien que tiene inmigrantes en su familia y en su grupo de amigos, esta protesta fue muy importante para mí. Ver el apoyo de no sólo mi carrera, pero muchos más fue increíble. Esperemos que esta protesta trajo a todos más cerca y que trajo más conciencia de cómo los inmigrantes afectan no sólo la economía, sino todo lo demás.


For those unable to read Spanish:

“Day Without Immigrants” was on Thursday, February 16th, 2017. The United States joined together to protest against President Trump and his immigration statements. Here in Minnesota, we had a march that started at the Mexican Consulate ( 797 7th St E 55106 ), went past downtown, all the way to The Capital. During the march towards the capital, there were many stops to watch the Aztec dancers. About 300 people were marching, and there were more people there.

Many big restaurants and stores were closed, such as:

  • El Burrito Mercado
  • Boca Chica Restaurant and Taco House
  • El Nuevo Rodeo
  • La Loma Tamales
  • Las Mojarras
  • Panaderia San Miguel
  • Los Ocampo
  • Taqueria Los Paisanos
  • Los Gallos (all 15 locations)  
  • Avandaros Beauty Salon

These were just some of the popular places that were closed, but there were many more businesses that were closed. My dad closed his business, J.P Auto Body, but did not attend the protest with me. While in the capital, the Aztec dancers continued to perform and to yell “Un pueblo unido, jamás será vencido” ( a nation united, will never be defeated), “Si se puede” (yes we can) and many more things, mainly directed at Donald Trump.

As someone that has immigrants in their family and in their friend group, this protest was very important to me. Seeing the support from not only my race, but many more was amazing. Hopefully, this protest brought everyone closer, and it brought more awareness to how immigrants affect not only the economy but everything else.