Student Journalist of the Year Cora Astin

SELF ANALYTICAL ESSAY -- Photography more than passion

If you ask how I got to be a journalist, my answer would be photography. Photography has been my passion for as long as I could remember. When I was little I used to jump at a chance to play with my mom’s camera. No matter how bad the pictures were she keep encourage me to keep to taking them. Little did she know she inspired me to never stop shooting things and look for the unique angles to cover.

Photography, is the reason why a quiet, new girl on crutches joined journalism. After my freshman year I moved across country to a new state -- only it wasn’t -- and a new school. When I arrived to this new school I tried to take photography classes, but the teacher didn't want me in his class. That didn’t stop me. I found a class where I could take photos. That class was journalism. I didn’t know what exactly I got myself into when I stepped foot in room C107 that first day I joined journalism. But from the start, I liked it.

Photography lead me to C107 and from there C107 lead me to grow as a journalist. In that class I learned how to really write. I knew how to write before, but C107 helped me grow and stretch myself to get better.

C107 taught me how to question what people say, and look for the things that people don’t necessarily think of. C107 taught me how to use InDesign to lay out pages. C107 taught me how to take photos of the events or moments that people want to see years from now.

If you asked why I chose to be a journalist, my answer would be along the lines of ‘to show the truth and passion of others wherever I go.’

Being a journalist and a photographer has allowed me to converse with so many different types of people in ways that I could never expect. Being a journalist has allowed me to vocalize my opinions with my opinions.

If you were to ask me if I regret the long hours spent crouched in an awkward position or the stressful deadline days, my answer would be no. I will never regret walking into C107, because of that I have seen joy, passion, heartache and troubles through my camera lens.

Photography has lead me non stop to where I am today. It has saved me in from feeling solely alone and lost without people to cling to. It has taken me out of the shell of the quite, new girl on crutches.

Crouched. Behind the stage senior Cora Astin squats down to take pictures of the Mr. MHS Rehearsal that is happening on stage before her. (photo by Erick Echegrary.

NEWS WRITING -- Teachers break the norm by giving projects

Finals are around the corner, which means cramming a whole semester’s worth of knowledge into about a week for most classes.

However, there are some teachers who opt not to give a regular ‘pen and paper’ final. Some teachers decide to assign projects instead.

The reasons teachers opt not to give a test vary, from matching the class contents to not needing that teaching style.

“I personally did not like having to memorize a lot towards the end. If there was clear purpose for it, it made sense,” English teacher Ben Sutherland said. “But in my classes it did not seem like there was much purpose in doing that I would prefer something as low-key as possible and they could enjoy it.”

Taking regular finals aren’t always the best options for project-based classes, where it is harder for students to pinpoint a certain step or procedure of action. Teachers have realized this, and decided to give their students a project instead of a test final.

“With the computer-based classes I feel it really gives them a chance to show me what they can do,” CTE teacher Tiffany Anderson said, “because in the computer class they’re on the computers all the time and if I just had questions on the final I think it’s a lot harder for them to -- like it’s easier for them to do it on the computer than to think about the question. It's more applicable for them.”

One of the perks that teachers have noticed is that students can learn from each other on projects or presentations.

“[English 10 class is] writing expository papers, then they’re going to give presentation,” Sutherland said. “Hopefully, it will a good experience for them. As a teacher too I’m always learning about what is the best experience and what makes for the best opportunities for kids.”

Students enjoy the freedom that projects offer over the few possibilities that a test limits them to.

“I think tests are really strict on what [the teachers] think you know and projects you can kind of show what you know,” junior Sierra Sparbanie said. “I think with projects you have more freedom and time and space to show what you know.”

As with a theory-based class, there is more to do with a project versus a ‘pen and paper’ final.

“For, like, physics, the project that I am doing is designing a robot,” sophomore Jacob Clanton said. “So instead of taking a test that shows how well I know my physics, I am teaching myself how to program a robot and just applying that learning more. Whereas a test it’s just knowing the answers.”

SPORTS WRITING -- XC Heads for State, After Winning Regionals

The Manhattan High cross country team dominated regionals on Saturday. Both teams brought home first place, and prepare to head for State. The race was held at Milford State Park in Junction City, the second time the teams had raced there this season. Overall the course was mainly liked by the runners.

“Beautiful course, pretty hilly; but it is a good challenge and it was,” junior Jackson Schroeder said. “But we run hills at practice all the time, so it fits our team well.”

The girls side was the top qualifier, with 27, front Lawrence Free State with 48, and Junction City with 89. Two runners placed in the top five, senior Anna Keeley came in second with 19:16, and junior Cara Melgares was not too far behind in third with 19:23.

“Going in we were mainly going for team goals: to win and to just run well all around,” Melgares said. “And that was what we did, we all performed really well. I think our top five was in the top 10 and our top seven was in the top 13.”

This is Keeley’s first and only year as a runner for Manhattan on the team, and so far Keeley has been one of the top runners at every meet.

“But it's just really great [the season so far] and I love my team,” Keeley said. “It's been really fun.”

The boys team took the title of first with the score of 35, leading Lawrence Free State with 45 and Washburn Rural with 74. Schroeder took first with 15:42 and sophomore Cooper Schroeder came in fifth with 16:39.

Both teams will be competing at State next weekend, which will be held at Rim Rock, one of the hardest courses they run.

“It will be hard I think. But I just going to try to stay relaxed, with the team,” Keeley said.

The teams are preparing both mentally and physically going into the race.

“Looking forward to being our best and doing our best,” Schroeder said.

Both teams are going in with the mindset of winning.

“We’re going to win,” Melgares said. “That is pretty much my only thought.”

ENTERTAINMENT -- 'America's Got Special Talent' lets people be themselves

Lights dim. Nerves rattling. Audience silent. Special talent.

Each year, the Interpersonal Skills class puts on America’s Got Special Talent with members of the community from Big Lakes Developmental Center. The IPS class puts on the show, initializing the different skills and talents. Students grouped together to create the acts, based on what the special-needs students wanted to do.

“In class they told us what we were doing, and then we made acts ourselves for whatever we wanted,” mentor Gabriella Radina, senior, said. “There was a contact person for each act and that person was in charge of putting the act together.”

Even getting a little help from the Thespians, the IPS class was able to run sound and lights. Mentor Sam Hall,senior, is in both IPS and Thespians, she was a stage manager for the performance.

“I basically was in charge of stage left,” Hall said. “I worked with the lights and mics. The mics were definitely a big thing and making sure people got on and off stage quickly and effectively.”

Knowing that there would be flaws, the audience created a welcoming atmosphere.

“It was really relaxed, unlike any other show,” mentor Emmy Korenek, senior, said. “Not really tense like regular stuff, and it wasn’t scripted, which was actually the most fun part about it.”

Learning how to help the other students out and make their dreams come to life is one thing that AGST teaches the mentors.

“‘Sweet Nightingale’ was really fun because Hiba [Rasheed, mentee] was so excited to do it and it was great to help make her dream come true,” Hall said. “One thing that I won’t forget definitely how happy Hiba was after we left the stage. She was so excited to see how the audience responded to it.”

Allowing each other to be their own person is something unique that Manhattan High School is able to accomplish through this show.

“It’s so incredible that Manhattan has the opportunity for people, who have these life struggles, to show what they can do,” Radina said. “So, honestly I will take away from it, that we’re all the same and you have to give people a chance.”

FEATURES -- Collins betters Automotive Program

The transition into teaching may be hard, but new teacher Chris Collins seems to have it down right. After the previous automotives technologies teacher, Elizabeth Crooks, left a vacancy in the department, Collins started teaching at Manhattan High School at the turn of a new semester. He has a background as an automotive technician, working in various shops in the area.

“I am a GM [General Motors] certified technician,” Collins said. “I just recently left the Jon Murdock Chevrolet -- right here on McCall Road -- I was one of their heavy technicians there, meaning I did complete engine tear downs and transmissions, and an all around technician. [I was there] just over a year. Prior to that, I was at Briggs GMC for four years, and prior to that I owned my own business. I owned a tow truck and did mobile auto repair in Hawaii.”

The students are benefiting from having an instructor with an automotive background.

“[Collins is] pretty knowledgeable,” senior Bradley Malmquist said. “That's pretty helpful. He also has connections with where he has worked in the past. That comes in handy as well.”

Having a background in automotives has allowed him to teach at Manhattan High while working on his Transition to Teaching certification.

“He is certified because business and industry can teach in our trade, and he has the ASE [Automotive Service Excellence] certification. And he is on the provisional teaching certification,” Deb Kidd, Career and Technical Education Coordinator, said.

Once Collins was hired, he spent numerous hours over break redesigning and reorganizing the automotive shop.

“In the new shop all of the tools are much more organized, in specific cabinets, for each different section, as in the things you might be working on -- as in the suspensions or the brakes that's all out together,” Malmquist said.

With Collins coming in as a new teacher, the CTE department and the administrative body decided it was time for the automotive program to change. They have decided to align the program along side Manhattan Area Technical College to teach classes concurrently with their program.

“We are changing the format, what we are doing is aligning the courses to be taught concurrently with MATC,” Collins said. “We are actually using the same textbooks that MATC, so that when students -- if they want to go on to MATC -- it will be a much smoother transition for them. And again, they’re getting college credit through the high school. It’s totally a redesigned curriculum.”

With the redesign of the program, Manhattan High will no longer offer year-long classes. Instead there will be semester classes.

In addition to the redesign of the program, Collins also is working to get the shop certified.

“We are going to do the National Association for Technician Education Foundation certification, not we are going to try and get it,” Collins said. “We are going to get it.”

OPINIONS -- Cease over-thinking late at night

When the day is done and the lights are out, you’re still up. Everyone has long been asleep, the house is quiet, you’re wide awake thinking.

The thoughts that haunt you late at night are tasks that aren’t complete from the previous day: the incomplete homework that is screaming your name, ]the trash that your mom asked you to take out earlier, or the laundry that you should’ve put away three days ago. All of the voices of the incomplete tasks keep calling your name. While the thoughts are swirling around in your head, you realize the inordinate pressure that everyone puts on you.

As a high schooler, you experience pressure in different ways. Pressure to do the best that you can without over-extending yourself. Pressure to make everyone feel included. Pressure to create a legacy for yourself in the school or community. After it becomes too much, you cave into it and guilt consumes you.

Lying awake thinking about what you could’ve done differently darkness, the guilt engulfs you. It makes you question what you should’ve done differently. What if that weird conversation that you had with someone didn’t go as good as you thought? What if you had taken a different route to school; maybe you might not have been late to your first class? What if you didn’t have the friends that you have, would you a different person?

Consequently, each night animosity surrounds you as the uncertainty sets in: the uncertainty of what college you’re going to, any noise that seems out of the ordinary and random lights of cars going down the street at 1 a.m.

Lately, I haven’t been able to sleep because it feels like when the world is quiet, my mind isn’t. As soon as I lay down to go to bed, something pops in my head and keeps me awake. Whether that is the confusion on what college to attend next, what state I’m going to live in, or the homework that isn’t done.

Each day, the problems seem to grow a little at a time until they seem too big to handle. No matter how much I try to ignore them, they keep showing up. Until the problems take over the night and I can’t sleep. It just seems like senior year I have been losing more sleep over the little problems; almost like the pressure is too much.

Eventually, while everything is still waves of uncertainty and the pressure crashes in.

As students, especially seniors, there is a lot of uncertainty and doubt everyday. But remember that you can’t act on every uncertainty you have that keeps you up. If you could fix the ambiguity it wouldn’t help because you aren’t a superhero and you can’t fix the problems that you have in one night.

Maybe then, when the day is done and the lights are out, you can sleep. When the house is quiet and everyone is asleep, you are too.




Leadership and Team Building --

While I was the photo editor I was in charge of six photographers, spanning across two classes. I taught them how to use a camera and take photos for journalism. Sometimes I have even taught people how to use a camera. I also, covered for the photographers when they didn't do the correct things. I was able to cover the tracks of the photographers so well that the editors in chief didn't know that anything was wrong.

In Quill and Scroll, I lead countless meetings as the Vice President while the president was out sick for a long period of time. I have also solely planned the induction ceremonies for the past two years and I have solely created the year of the year club report.

CAPTIONS FOR PICTURES -- The captions relate to the photos on the back of slides. I took the pictures used unless specified in the captions.

News: Banded together. Supporting the Manhattan High School Varsity Volleyball team at the state match, the students missed school on October 28, 2016. Creating a spirit section, the students traveled from Manhattan, Kan to Topeka, Kan. The student section helped cheer on the Varsity Volleyball team to fourth place in the tournament.

Sports: Setting. With all eyes on her, junior Kenzie Smith, sets the ball at state volleyball tournament in Topeka, Kan on October 26, 2016. Manhattan High went on to take fourth place in the overall tournament.

Entertainment: In the spotlight. Strumming his heart out during his talent portion of the Mr. MHS rehearsal, junior Wyatt Balman sign the song has prepared for the talent show.

Features: Standing strong. The only freshman on the Mentor staff Mira Bhandari takes a minute outside to sit for her column mug. Bhandari is the only freshman who has been on staff all school year, she is also the only freshman who is a editor. Bhandari works as a copy editor.

Opinion: Carefully. Walking down the side of a hill senior Cora Astin firmly hold a tripod in one hand while watching her steps. (photo by Caleb Astin)

Leadership and Team Building: Pumped up. The Manhattan High School student section goes wild as Pierson McAtee, former MHS student makes a slam dunk.

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