Eileen Viveros-Vargas: A loved one lost too soon

photo courtesy Karla Alarcon

On March 9th, police arrived at a home in Hayden Heights to discover the body of 18-year-old Eileen Viveros-Vargas. Officers had found Viveros-Vargas shot in the head and her unborn child had died with her as well. Viveros-Vargas was apparently five months pregnant at the time of her death.

Eileen’s boyfriend, Luis Isaac Chacon-Villeda, was arrested on suspicion of murder, as well as a charge of fifth-degree drug possession. Police had found several bags of marijuana, a handgun, as well as 2,000 dollars in cash in the bedroom that Eileen Vargas was found.

The family confirmed that the couple had been together for two years.

Luis Isaac Chacon-Villeda, with no previous criminal record, made his first court appearance on the drug charges. Chacon-Villeda had confessed to owning the marijuana, and .22 caliber handgun, that was found at the scene. He also admitted to dealing marijuana in his neighborhood.

Chacon-Villeda is being held at Ramsey County jail as police are further investigating the death of Viveros-Vargas, with another court hearing scheduled on March 27th.

Eileen Viveros-Vargas was a student at Highland Middle school, and was a former associate of many of our students.

“I met Eileen when we were in middle school; it was 7th or 8th grade. I remember her as an outgoing and caring person; she was nice to everyone,” said Aricela Rueda, a current senior. Although she did not keep in contact with Eileen after their transition to high school, she explained how shocked she was to hear about the tragedy of Eileen’s death, saying, “I couldn’t believe it, she was gone. What shocked me the most was finding out that her boyfriend could be responsible for it.”

The emotional and difficult response received from Aricela was not the only one. Many students took to social media to express their shock, over the death of Eileen Viveros-Vargas, over the last couple of days.

In an interview, Karla Alarcon, a current junior, and cousin to Eileen, in response to the news of Eileen’s death said, “I was very shocked, and I felt like it was a dream I would wake up from and it would be over, but soon realized it was not and it was like I had been stabbed in the heart.”


Minnesota firefighters die from an unexpected heart attack

In a small town in Minnesota, a firefighter died on a Tuesday morning from a unexpected heart attack after his training session. Captain Jeff Vollmer died hours after the Mayor Fire Department was practicing a scenario. He was only 40 years old, and he leaves behind his wife and two children. According to Maetzold, a Channel 9 reporter, Jeff seemed fine and he was fit, from what they could see, meaning he wasn’t sick.

Apparently, Vollmer isn’t the only firefighter who has died from an undiagnosed condition. The last four firefighters, in Minnesota, all died from heart attacks in their late 30s to early 40s. Half of the time, firefighters die from falling off ladders, smoke inhalation or burns, but heart attacks happen most of the time after their shift.

Shane Clifton, a firefighter in Minnesota, died of cardiac arrest at a station house when he was 38 years old. Also, 42-year old Matt Frantz, who was Fire Chief in Rice Lake, died a few hours after a late night fire call.


Vollmer died 6 hours after his training, and it is still considered a in the line of duty death under the Survivor Benefit Act of 2003. The act recognized heart attacks as being a in the line of duty event if they are within 24-hours of the shift.


Teachers vote to possibly go on strike

The teachers of St. Paul have spoken. The St. Paul school district will be attempting to prevent, or potentially endure a teacher strike. The teachers are asking for a 2.5 percent pay raise, along with more non-teacher staff, and smaller class sizes. SPPS (St. Paul Public School District) has had a hard time coming to meet the needs of our teachers.

On Wednesday, Jan 31st, our teachers voted to authorize a strike. This means that we have ten days before the strike possibly begins. This “cooling off” period ends Monday the 12th, and the potential strike will begin on Tuesday the 13th. If the strike has not ended after four school days, then we will have to add more days to the end of the school year.

Some teachers and non-teacher staff in the district do not believe that this argument will result in a strike; however, their opinion is becoming less and less likely every second that ticks by. The clock has started, and it seems to most that this clock will run out well before the teachers and school district come to an agreement. The thought of adding more days to the end of the year could be difficult for students and families, as some may have vacation plans, or plans for their children to work over the summer. It could be time consuming and potentially expensive for some families to shift their plans back farther into the summer.

One thing is for sure, the teachers, staff, and (most) students do not want to take a couple weeks off, and push their plans back into summer. This strike could shorten our summer break, were most of us relax, enjoy some free time, and work to make some money. With any luck, our teachers and school board can come to an agreement that would make a strike unnecessary. We all know how bad a strike could be for our students and staff.

*UPDATE: It was announced Monday morning, Feb 12th, that the union and district had come to a tentative agreement, thus preventing a strike.

Flu spreads across MN

The flu is spreading all over Minnesota according to WCCO news. According to Doctor Bjorn Peterson, people are coming to the hospital with body aches, headaches, high fevers, and sore throats. Emergency rooms are dealing with many people with these symptoms.

The doctors from Regions hospital, in St. Paul, are saying that they see 30 people a day who have the flu. The high numbers are why the Minnesota Department of Health is declaring influenza and respiratory illness, which means hospitals are putting restrictions on visitors to protect other patients and staff.

Dr. Frank Rhame, a disease doctor, from Allina Health, suggests that you should stay at home if you can. Rhame also suggests to keep kids under the age of five altogether. He also said they may look healthy but they could actually be infected. To prevent the spread of the flu, Dr. Rhame suggests to wash your hands thoroughly and cover your coughs.

These past weeks, Allina Health has admitted 120 people and 870 people have tested positive for influenza. Laboratory tests show that this year, the flu has hit the elderly and younger people hard.

According to the Star Tribune, the best way to prevent the flu is to be vaccinated, but it can’t provide protection against all possible disease. If you experience any flu symptoms like high fevers, chills, muscle aches, continuous coughs, sore throat, headaches, or fatigue, make sure to go see a doctor. The flu is very contagious and can infect you without you even knowing, so make sure to keep clean and make sure to not make physical contact with someone who is already infected.

The renovation of Rosedale Mall

Rosedale Mall is in a 2 year process of being renovated and will be officially completed sometime next year. According to the Twin Cities Pioneer Press, the Rosedale project will bring a new anchor tenant and 10 to 12 smaller retailers to the fleet of roughly 140 stores that lease space at Rosedale. High end fashion will be added to already existing stores such as JC Penney, Macy’s, and Herberger’s. The department stores will fill up the 150,000-square-foot, two story addition being built onto the shopping center.

The renovation will also update the mall’s interior by adding more comfortable spaces for shoppers to relax. New charging stations will be included for checking emails and charging cellphones and other devices.

The mall will be open during the construction, and much of the work will take place at night. Construction of the addition will start next year, in 2018, and the parking deck will hopefully be completed by November. The interior of the mall will bring 11 new stores, filling 21,000 square feet by Thanksgiving of 2018.


Back in the early 1900s to 1950s there wasn’t uber or Lyft, instead there was this popular transportation called: streetcars. Yes, that lovely mode of transportation cost only a nickel to ride and it, and it would take you all around St. Paul and Minneapolis. The streetcars date back to 1867, when rails were built in downtown Minneapolis. During the beginning, horses used to drive the streetcars, but that cost the Twin City Rapid Transit (TCRT) a lot of money (because they had to feed the horses). Later they decided to run the streetcars with electricity, which cost less, and was eco friendly, but people had concerns and questioned the streetcars. People feared that the electro cables would attract lightning if there was a thunderstorm.

City buses and automobiles are what took the streetcars out of business. Buses took the place of the streetcars, because streetcars charged more money for each fare, so more money would be made. And automobiles became popular, so people started buying them, and stopped riding the streetcars.

For a lot of years though, the streetcars were great for people who didn’t own any cars; they could get to work, school, library, movies, or anywhere the streetcar went. The company of the streetcars made 2.5 billion dollars in just 5 years, but there were some cons with the streetcars. They didn’t run really fast, and got caught up in traffic.

In St. Paul, they were thinking about bring streetcars back, and putting them right by the airport, by 7th street. This would be really convenient for people who don’t want to rely on somebody else taking them to the airport.

Overall, the streetcars were a success for the many long years they were running. If they ever brought back the streetcars (hopefully), we want every one of you reading this article to ride one.

Melvin Carter

Melvin Carter profile by Riley Lumpkin and Gabe Mattick.

Thirty-eight year old Melvin Carter, was elected mayor of St. Paul on November 7, 2017. Carter is the first African-American mayor of St. Paul, Minnesota. He will be succeeding Chris Coleman, who has been mayor since 2006. Melvin Carter has been endorsed by various notable Minnesota politicians like Governor Mark Dayton and Minnesota Senator Al Franken. Mark Dayton, endorsed Carter, according to Twin Cities Pioneer Press by saying, “As the Director of my Children’s Cabinet, Melvin Carter has been a thoughtful, passionate, and effective leader, who has worked hard to give kids strong starts and better chances of success in school and life,” Dayton is quoted as saying. “As a resident of St. Paul, I know Melvin Carter will bring that same leadership to his work to make St. Paul a city that works for everyone,” the DFL governor said. “I look forward to calling him St. Paul’s next mayor.”

He was a member of the Saint Paul City Council from 2008 to 2013. Before he was elected mayor he accomplished many things as a city councilmember. He cofounded the Saint Paul Promise Neighborhood, he also helped pass the Ban the Box legislation; to eliminate employment discrimination according to Melvin Carter.org.

He currently serves as an Executive Director of the Minnesota Children’s Cabinet, where he advocates for all children to have an education regardless of their background, race, gender, or income. According to Jessie Van Berkel, Melvin Carter said, “his goal is to address not just pain, but lingering injustice.”

As the new mayor, he would like to raise wages to ensure the economy is improving for everyone. He also would like to make sure community services are doing more to help families, and he wants to work on community-first policing.

For more information, please go to: http://www.startribune.com/st-paul-mayoral-candidate-melvin-carter-focuses-on-the-city-s-future/449084463/http://www.melvincarter.org/bio/

Should school start later? High school students weigh in

The St. Paul Public School district is planning a controversial vote on November 15 to change school start times for most high school students from 7:30 AM to 8:30 AM, for the 2018-2019 school year, according to the Pioneer Press. Changing school start times for the district has been discussed for years and the vote has been pushed back several times.

The SPPS district supporters of later start times for high school students cite studies that claim later sleep patterns, prevalent among high school students, have a biological basis. This results in 69% of high school students not getting 8 hours of sleep a night, when they should be getting at least 9. They contend also that later school start times do not affect when high school students fall asleep (according to the SPPS website page on the topic). Also on their website, they claim that an 8:30 AM start time is better academically, causing more students to score “proficient” on MCA math tests.

Those against later start times explain that implementing them will be costly and ineffective. According to the Pioneer Press, adding the necessary additional bus routes will cost the district at least 2 million dollars per year, and Metro Transit cannot afford to help without money from the state. They also protest that high school students will get home too late, especially if they are enrolled in extracurricular activities. The district admits that if school start times are changed, high school students who take care of siblings in elementary school may be unable to, as most elementary school start times would move from 8:30 AM to 7:30 AM, causing their school days to end earlier than high school students’.

But, how do high school students feel about later start times? Their opinions are often overlooked in this discussion. Below are interviews of four 9th grade students who gave their opinions on the topic.

Miranda Bade

I want the start times to stay the same. I’m involved in sports after school and it is nice to get home early. If the start times change to 8:30 AM I would get home later. This makes it hard to do go to practice and get all of my homework done. Getting off of school earlier makes it so I have more time after school to do things and to get stuff done.

Peter McHie

Personally, I think it would be a great decision to change the start times to 8:30 AM. I, for one have a difficult time waking up so early, and because of this I feel like it might be impacting my performance at school, even if it’s only a little. Also, my general demeanor/attitude towards school in general is infuenced by the early start time as I often feel very sad/angry in the mornings. I’m sure that having extra time to sleep would change that. Other students probably feel the same as I do.

Celia Morris

I don’t want start times to change because of after school activities. I play volleyball in the fall and track in the spring. If start time was to go later I would come home from my sports at 5:30 PM and on game nights I might get home as late as 10:30-11:00 PM, with lots of homework left to do. This might leave me to going to bed around 1 AM or 2 AM.

Ryder Hefferan

I would vote against changing the time, because I personally feel comfortable with waking up that early to go to school and I love having as much free time as I do after school. But, I do understand that some people would sacrifice free time for more hours of sleep.

Minnesota ACT scores

By: Pachia Lee, Eddie Lopez, Melissa Tapia

Minnesota ACT scores are considered one of the nation’s best and had beat the national average many times. Last year though, there was a dropped in the ACT Scores, but Minnesota’s average was still higher than the national average. This year, the ACT scores have increased again after last year’s decline.

According to CBS Minnesota, Minnesota’s class of 2017 ACT scores rebounded from their dip in 2016, and remain among America’s best. Minnesota students had an average score of 21.5 on the exam while the national average was 21. Minnesota was also one of the 17 states to have all 100% of the graduating class take the ACT. Supporters of this requirement said this would bring more opportunities for all students because all students had a chance to take the ACT.

More than 17,000 Minnesota students took the ACT, especially an increased number of minority students. The Hispanic subgroup had the greatest increase with 1,709 students taking the ACT and there was also an overall increase of minority group ACT Scores by 0.5 points.

According to MN Office of Higher Education, Minnesota’s average score was still higher than the national average even with the drop. Also, 31% of 2017 graduates met all four ACT college-ready areas compared to in 2016 where only 29% were proficient in all four areas.

Graduates who had taken three or more years of math had an average score of 22.2 compared to others who took math for less than two years. Those students had an average score of 17.1. About 45% of graduates indicated that they were interested in STEM majors or careers. In 2017, 79 Minnesota students achieved a perfect ACT score meaning they scored 36 overall in four subject areas.

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.