Benstock 2018

Benstock: an event where students of Highland Park join together under one roof to be able to watch their peers show off their incredible talents. The range of skills included singing, dancing, spoken word, and rapping; the students put on quite a show. Even teachers were a part of the show! Mr. Dirks, Mr. Berndt, and Mr. Rumsey performed together in their rock band, and it brought the crowd to its feet.

Before the big night, performers would do mic and lighting checks, as well as doing a run-through of the show. Performers go over their dances, songs, and even skits, through the 3 days of rehearsal, and make sure that each move and note is perfect. When rehearsing on the stage, the director and stage hands guide the performers through stage directions, and make sure that every performer exits and enters correctly, so that the show goes smoothly on performance day. Rehearsal took place after school, and performers were free to go to different spots to practice their performances. When walking around the auditorium, you would see all different types of people and performances, going underway, and the students working hard to make sure their big day went well.

March 9th was the big performance day! For many of the performers they felt very, very nervous. We asked a number of the performers about how they felt before the big show:

“ I was super nervous about the whole show but I was also super excited too! We had a lot of talented people performing and I just knew that it was going to be a good one.” – Calista Vang (Senior).

“My group has been practicing really hard and were really excited to be able to perform for our friends and family.” – Fiona (Junior)

The show was about three hours long with a short intermission in between for the performers and audience to be able to stretch out and get some food. The show started out beautifully with performer Danasja Hall, who showcased her singing skills to the crowd. Through the show we had a great magic act and also a beautiful spoken word piece. All of the acts were absolutely stunning and we could just tell that everybody in the crowd just loved it!

Winter Pep Fest 2018 in Hmong

Lub ob hli ntuj nees nkaum peb, Highland Park Senior High tsev kawm ntawv tuav lawv qhov Winter Pep Fest. Winter Pep Fest pib thaum hoob xya, tag nrho cov xib fwb thiab cov menyuam kawm ntawv mus rau lub gym. Txhua txhua xyoo, lawv tuav Winter Pep Fest hauv lub gym. Thaum pib, lawv qhia peb cov leaders nyob hauv peb cov clubs tiab cov sports. Cov clubs tiab cov sports yog: basketball, newspaper, Black Student Union (BSU), gymnastics, thiab ntau heev.

Thaum lawv hu tag nrho cov clubs tiab sports, lawv qhia txog khoom lawv ua tiab haiv txog lawv ua dab tsi hauv cov clubs thiab sports. Thaum lawv hais tag, cov gymnastics pab los seev cev rau peb saib. Lawv seev cev tau zoo saib heev. Thum lawv seev cev tag lawm, cov ntxhais, thiab cov tub hauv qhov basketball team los ntaus pob rau peb saib. Lawv ntaus pob saib seb pab twg yuav yeej. Ob pag pawg taub ob lub pob, lawv yuav tsum pov lub pob nkag hauv lub basketball hoop. Thaum pib, cov ntxhais lawv pov tau zoo tshaj, tab thaum tag, cov tub yeej lawm.

Lawv pov tab cev cov dance team los seev cev rau peb saiv. Thaum lawv seev cev tag, cov menyuam kawm ntawv tawm lub gym mus tsev. Winter Pep Fest mus tau zoo heev.

For those of you unable to read Hmong, here is the English translation:

On February 23, Highland Park Senior High had its Winter Pep Fest during seventh period, all students and staff reported to the school’s gym where the pep fest is held every year. At the beginning of the pep fest, they started it off by introducing the leaders of different school groups and sports. These included: Basketball, Newspaper, Black Students Union, gymnastics, and many more.

After all of the school groups and sports leaders had their chance to speak out about their group, and tell the students what they do, the gymnastics team took the stage and showed us just how talented they were. It was hard to look away, with all of their flipping and bending. It’s no wonder why they had such a great season.

After their performance, the boys and girls of the basketball teams came out, front and center, to show us their skills. It was a great game; the students in the crowd were shouting and screaming their hoorays! The game was a race for which team could make more shots. They were given two basketballs each. In the beginning, the girls were pounding the boys, making shot after shot. Though people thought that the girls had a good shot of winning, the boys quickly caught up in the end and won. The game was a very, very close one.

After the game, the dance team came up to perform. At the end of the performance, everyone left and headed home. The Winter Pep Fest went well.

Surviving the Personal Project presentation

Hey sophomores! You survived the Personal Project paper! Good for you! But now we have to tackle the Personal Project presentation. This article is all about my list of tips and tricks to survive the second part of the Middle Year’s Program (MYP) Personal Project.

The Personal Project, that all sophomores are highly encouraged to complete, is all about MYP’s key goals and focal points as a program. These are: identities and relationships, orientation in space and time, personal and cultural expression, scientific and technical innovation, globalization and sustainability, and fairness and development. The Personal Project could include any number of combinations of these ideas. The biggest goal of MYP is to make students, who are in the program, better and more rounded learners. When students know how to learn, they can better achieve their educational goals.

The definition of the Personal Project, according to the official IB website, is:

“The MYP personal project is a student-centred and age-appropriate practical exploration in which students consolidate their learning throughout the programme. This long-term project is designed as an independent learning experience of approximately 25 hours. The personal project formally assesses students’ ATL skills for self-management, research, communication, critical and creative thinking, and collaboration.”

Step Number One: Understanding your project
This one should be fairly straightforward, considering you already turned in your project paper. In my opinion, the paper takes the most time; it involves explaining everything you did and why you did it. The presentation is just that; the presenting of the accumulation of your work.

Step Number Two: Make a plan for your project
In order to make this presentation, you have to figure out how you’re going to present what you learned. For some, this is extremely easy. Some people made a movie and all they need to do is show people that. Other people had more conceptual projects, where they did something instead of making something. Presenting this could be through a Power Point that includes pictures from your experiences, or a poster with other types of visuals. The flexibility given when deciding topics is also given when creating presentations.

Step Number Three: Make your project
Make a list of materials you might need in order to make this presentation. The more materials you have, the easier it will be to assemble. Giving yourself as much times as you might need will also help. Taking advice and feedback from your peers is another way to ensure you are doing your best work. And of course, there are always your teachers and MYP coordinators that are endlessly helpful resources.

Step Number Four: Present your project
You will be presenting your project to your peers this spring. It will take place in the Field House, with every sophomore who completed a personal project paper. Students from the middle school, and from the 9th grade classes, will all come see your presentation and give you feedback.

If you have further questions, feel free to contact Mrs. Bonk, the MYP coordinator, Ms. Sabo, the Personal Project co-ordinator, or any other staff member.


Whats the deal with these iPads?

IPads were introduced to Saint Paul Public Schools (SPPS) in 2015. It was a new way for students to be interactive with their work. The iPads bring education to life with hands-on work. Students have specific access to apps such as Dictionary, Calculator, Schoology, and Campus Portal. While some apps are allowed in SPPS, others aren’t. Although we were given an iPad, some restrictions applied. The App Store, Messages, FaceTime, and more, are not allowed. With this information, it had us thinking: Why aren’t students rewarded with the App Store if they are maintaining their grades?

With this question, we took the time to talk to Mr. Peterson. He is the iPad coordinator here at Highland. He takes care of all the Troubleshooting problems and has helpful hints with not only iPads but anything technology. We talked to Mr. Peterson to get as much information as we could on the iPad. Here are a few of the highlights:

Why don’t we have the App Store?

  • It is because not all apps are school appropriate. The district has a filter where they manage which apps we have access to.

Why do other schools have their App Store?

  • Private schools might be breaking the law about the iPads. They have different rules. It could also be they are managed differently. The way that we manage the apps means that we have to consider all ages in our choices about which apps in are in our self-service.
  • There are some apps they could have for specific ages, but also have to be aware of middle schoolers.
  • Self-service is the only service that does the job of maintaining, but it doesn’t do everything, it’s not able to give “age appropriate apps” (feature request).
  • Some apps are connected to some federal laws, and we get a federally mandated price for our Internet, so part of the fear is that we could lose our education radar for our Internet if we got caught giving apps that kids aren’t supposed to have. Strict guidelines.

With group projects, and people living far, why don’t you think they should have Skype and FaceTime, in your opinion?

  • I think the district should do whatever it can to get video conferencing enabled for students to use or Skype.
  • They have been reviewing Skype to make sure that it wouldn’t be too much on the system, so they have been running tests on them, and they haven’t been going well on there. They keep saying that they will (Enable Skype) but end up failing. It’s an ongoing project that they need to rush and enable the app.

While talking to Mr. Peterson, he mentioned CIPA, COPPA, and FERPA. The Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) governs the filtering of Internet access, acceptable use, and digital citizenship education. The Children’s Online Privacy & Protection Act (COPPA) governs the collection, use, and disclosure of personal information collected from children under age 13. While the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) protects the privacy of student education records.

These three laws work hand and hand to ensure Internet safety across our district. The App Store was removed when the district learned they were violating CIPA, COPPA and FERPA laws. The solution is to shut down the App Store.

For more information about these laws, please visit:

Overall, while many students don’t enjoy their iPads, it’s a helpful resource. These iPads, as Mr. Peterson puts it, are to help personalize learning and transform learning for each student.

There are complications when it comes to having a reward.

There are district laws that prevent us from having our the App Store on our iPads. While our App Store dreams are crushed, there is still the possibility of having Messages, FaceTime or Skype, all helpful tools for group projects.

As we continue to use the iPads, the District will continue to find the best way to operate and execute it properly.

MeMe DaY!

MeMe DaY!!
By Alivia Arredondo and Piper Gallivan

Last week was Spirit Week at Highland Park!

A meme is a humorous image, or video, that is copied and widely spread on the Internet. Often times, these memes have pieces of text on them that can be altered depending on the interpretation of the meme.

This year, students voted on having a Meme Day at school so Highland Park had its first Meme Day! The point of Meme Day was to dress up as/or imitate your favorite meme, or any meme found online, and come to school as that meme.

Here are some of our favorites that we saw throughout the day.

Ms. Becker took her own approach on a classic meme, taking a jab on a common issue teachers have with students.

Sophomores Abby Johnson, and friend, have simple outfits with their clout glasses, a recent trend.

Exchange students really loved getting into the Highland Park spirit with some of the most dedicated outfits we’ve seen all day. There was  Ugandan Knuckles: He knows da wae. And fidget spinners were brought into a new light with a whole outfit dedicated to them.

Juniors Nectaree Thao and friend take on their versions of some classics. Ruquiya is from an iconic scene in Mean Girls that has lived on for many years. Necteree was very creative with her glasses in recreating a meme from a few years ago.

A Sophomore took on the original meme of Kermit the frog sipping his tea. She was very creative in making her own Kermit the frog costume and really took it the next level by bringing her own tea (which she later spilled) and making her own sign to go with her meme costume.

Some students just chose just to dress in fun ways without recreating a specific meme like Sebastian Isett with a very unique jacket.

Meme Day hit or miss?

Overall, for Highland’s first ever Meme Day, we’d say it was a hit. It is true that not as many students participated in this, but those who did really made people smile and laugh. There were many students around the school who came dressed as their memes, such as those in the pictures we’ve shown you.

In the following years, if Meme Day is voted on for Spirit Week, it would probably generate more participants by the students and would probably be more successful!



2018 Winter One Acts

Romance, danger and…Dungeons and Dragons? These were some of the topics covered in Highland Park Thespian Society’s 2018 Winter One Acts.

image courtesy of Gabby Tselos

One Acts are typically written and directed by students, and last 20 to 30 minutes. They only have one act; hence the name One Acts. This year 5 shows were put on. They were as follows;
Check Please! – written and directed by Clare Brownlee (11)
The Understudy– written and directed by Soren Eversoll (11)
Roll for Initiative – written and directed by Helen Feng (12)
Tracks – written by Peter Tarsi and directed by Eddie Lopez (10) and Leah Callanan (11)
This is a Test – written by Stephen Gregg directed by Ben Smith (11)

Tickets were six dollars for students and eight dollars for adults. Refreshments and concessions were sold directly outside of the auditorium doors.

The show opened with The Understudy, which was Eversol’s debut with acting and writing. It centers around a cast and play, which seems almost like an Inception type of thing. The one act was a comedy with a dramatic setting. The play involves jealousy, guns, and a dead guy lying on the floor. I enjoyed it thoroughly and would’ve liked to see it again.

Second to show was Tracks. The dynamic duo that is Lopez and Callanan took this comedy and played it as a drama. This worked out surprisingly well. The main storyline is about how people wind up on the same train platform, coming to the conclusion that they’re all dead. Now they have to figure out if the train they are to get on is going up or down.

Third in show was This is a Test, a true testament to a high schooler’s nightmare. In this play, a group of students are taking a test, with one student in particular stressing majorly. Once they sit down to do the task, they find it to be the most difficult exam of their life. One section is in Chinese! It was comical and relatable all the way through. Smith definitely directed well.

Roll for Initiative came fourth. It had a mix of geekiness and romance that was charming. While those who live for D and D will love the set up and chit chat among characters, others can enjoy the relationships between the characters. Feng did a wonderful job at meshing the two worlds together and almost made me want to find a D and D group to join!

Check Please! is a comical story about a girl (Zoe Challanger, grade 12) trying to find love through bad Tinder dates. It is set in a local coffee shop, and the dates seem to keep getting worse as the weeks go on. Her waitress (Amelia Stensrud, grade 10), becomes a close ally, and it ends with a surprising and heartwarming twist. Director Clare Brownlee (grade 11) does a fantastic job in her debut as a director and playwright.

What was to come last was a show by Mason Blumer-Lamotte about a suicide prevention hotline and its callers. Unfortunately, due to conflicting opinions, it had to be cut.

All in all, the 2018 One Acts were a success! Highland Park Senior High thanks all those wonderful thespians who brought these fantastic one acts to life!


Snow day 2018

On the 23 of January, 2018, Saint Paul Public School (SPPS) had their first snow day in almost seven years. On Sunday morning, January 21, people got news that we would be getting nine inches of snow in St. Paul. Once schools got this news, many of them shut down for the following day, giving their students a snow day to keep them safe and warm from all of the snow.

Though there were schools that did give their students and teachers a snow day, there were also many schools that didn’t. Saint Paul Schools were one of the schools that didn’t close down to try and prepare for the snow storm heading our way. Instead, SPPS sent their students home early, trying to beat the snow storm.

While some students made their way home safe and sound, there were others that were stuck at school. During the night of Monday the 22, many parents received a call, telling them that there were many late buses and that some students, mostly elementary students, had not been picked up. This was meant to let all parents know that if their child was not home, that they were safe and being fed at school. During this night, many teachers had stayed back to ensure that the kids were going to do alright and that they were properly fed.

Many kids did not get picked up until almost midnight, the last child being dropped off at 12:05 AM. Many parents were not happy about what had happened, and were also very disappointed in the school board for not canceling school that day. On the same day, SPPS sent out an apology, saying that they would make sure that they would never ever let something like this occur again.

So, a big thank you to all of those who stayed back to help the students who had no way to get home on that snowy night. Make sure to stay bundled up and warm for the upcoming cold days!


IB Dance review

Highland Park Senior High has an IB dance program that goes in depth into different types of dances. DP dance is a way for students to come together and learn different types of movements, genres of dance, and the background behind them. This year, DP dance consisted of 35 dancers performing duets, trios, small groups ( 4-5 people), and large groups (35 dancers). Instead of nine dances, there were eight due to a missing member. Each dance was different from each other.

Charlotte Landreau is the DP Diploma coordinator and teaches TOK (Theory of Knowledge) and Dance. She introduced the show by encouraging students to participate in the arts at Highland, and to try new things this semester. She was supportive of the dancers and what they were able to produce.

On January 18, the DP Dance kids put on a spectacular show. While all the performances were strong, we have some opinions on the show. We saw that the dancers didn’t have much support from the crowd. Every dancer was strong and did their best, but the audience was lacking in positive reactions. The dancers were brave enough to put themselves out there, but the crowd didn’t reciprocate the energy. While everyone did great, we saw that Fiona (11) stole the show. She is a strong and memorable dancer who will continue to show her talent.

We would like to give props to all the performers because it is hard to dance in front of your peers. We know the feeling of working hard to produce something that means a lot to you, and presenting it. If you would like the chance to branch out and try something new, an art class next semester may be right for you.

Meeting with the superintendent

On Monday, January 8th, 2018, superintendent Dr. Joe Gothard came to Highland for a listening group to get students opinions and experiences at Highland, and in the SPPS district in general. I was lucky enough to be a part of this listening group.

The meeting started with Dr. Joe Gothard giving us a little background on his life, and how he got the job as our superintendent. There was also a cameraman recording, and a woman typing notes throughout the whole meeting. He was also taking notes and responding to what some of the students had to say.

A common topic from the students was that Schoology isn’t their favorite app to use because it’s hard to navigate, we can’t always see how much our assignments are worth (points), and teachers still have to take attendance on Campus Portal.

Something else that came up was the 6 period school day and how it would negatively impact students. Students said there would be less time in the day to take the electives that they’re passionate about, and students who are doing the full IB Diploma said it would make it harder for them to take classes/electives that are required for the full diploma like Theory of Knowledge.

Another hot topic was the lack of representation of teachers of color at Highland. Some students of color mentioned that for them, it’s harder for them to make connections with their teachers because they do not look like them.

Something that really stuck out with me, was the transition from middle school Spanish Immersion to high school Spanish Immersion. Highland middle school is the only middle school in the district that offers a Spanish Immersion program. There, you get instruction in math, social studies, and science in Spanish. When you come into Highland, freshman year, and continue the Spanish immersion program, you take social studies, and the immersion class in 9th and 10th grade. Junior and senior year, you only take the immersion class in Spanish. It makes it harder to understand your core classes when you were taught everything in Spanish.

Other things that were mentioned were adding gender neutral bathrooms, more funding for clubs, and having a wider range of electives. Hopefully, with this listening group, there will be positive changes at Highland and in SPPS for the years to come.


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.