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What’s in Store for Your Summer Break?

The Sandia Prep Times asked two students in each grade about their summer plans.

Compiled by Hayden Bollinger



“I’m going to a summer camp in California and then going to Costa Rica with my step-brother.”

--Emma Cordero, sixth-grader

“I’m going out in our motorhome and going up to lakes in Colorado and Idaho. We usually drive up and down in this area.”

--Garrett Sandoval, sixth-grader

“Apparently I’m doing math homework and going to Maryland for family and then do Summer Prep.”

--Cedar McCall, seventh-grader

“Going to Africa to see family for most all of summer and then hang out with friends after that.”

--Nathaniel Fitsum, seventh-grader

“I’ll be going to France for the Women’s World Cup and then I will go to England just for fun.”

--Maddie Hashagen, eighth-grader

“I’m going up to Boulder, Colorado, to see my dad and then Illinois for soccer.”

--Miles Merritt, eighth-grader

“I’m going to see my friend in Indiana and going to Texas to see family.”

--Kaitlyn Gabaldon, freshman

“I’m staying home, sleeping and chilling.”

--Jo-Jo Herrera, freshman

“Just hanging with friends and going to New York City, Lake Powell and Arizona.”

--Elise Gardiner, sophomore

“I’m working up in Durango and chilling with friends.”

--Evan Clark, sophomore

“I’m going to Universal in Orlando and then Denver, afterward just hanging out with friends and chilling for the rest of it.”

--Alannah Davidson, junior

“I’m going to get some community service hours in and go to Idaho to see family.”

--Joseph Salcido, junior

‘Androids’ Gets Most Votes

in Rousing Book Competition

By Santiago Cooper

Staff Writer

And the winner is … Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

The novel by Philip K. Dick earned the most votes in a spirited competition that determined what book this year’s sophomores will read over the summer. The contest idea came from English teacher Bill Slakey, who said he “wanted students to be more engaged in summer reading.”

Students from Slakey’s two junior English classes chose a book they were interested in reading and, in promoting their choices, created posters and presentations explaining why their book should win the contest. Each group then tried to “sell” its book to the sophomores.

Junior Justin Abel was part of the winning team that presented the book Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Abel’s group wanted to make a presentation that appealed to a younger audience.

“We used lasers and a fog machine to do it, and I think it worked pretty well,” Abel said.

Abel, who thinks the project was worth all the effort, said he learned a lot about working in a group and about what it takes to make a good presentation.

“We had a couple people working on the PowerPoint, a couple working on the lights and fog machine, and the rest helped to promote the book before the presentation,” he said.“This exercise was definitely worth it, mainly because it allowed us to present literature and reading in an appealing way. Creating a presentation to promote literature is hard in this day and age.”

Students began the project before winter break and continued working on it until the end of April. Luckily for Abel, he and his group got a lot of the work done during class. However, he added that if Slakey had given them more time to complete the project, he thinks it would have been even better.

Abel said his favorite part was the ability to be creative.

“Mr. Slakey deliberately gave us very few guidelines, which I think helped us win,” said Abel, adding that he thinks the book competition should continue to be used as an assignment for the junior class.

Slakey said the competition helped students learn more about American Literature, the topic of their English class.

Although junior Emma Stone’s group didn’t win the competition, she feels that overall the experience was good. Stone’s group chose the book Beloved by Toni Morrison.

“I chose the book because it seemed like an interesting story, and I’m a sucker for ghost stories,” Stone said. Stone said her role in the competition “wasn’t defined,” although she helped with documenting and planning. She said she was “not too happy with the role because I had hoped to help with the art pieces and the presentation as a whole.”

Stone does give credit to those who worked hard on the project. Even though Stone’s group went through some struggles, she said she gained a greater knowledge of the different styles of literature, as well as of the history of slavery in America.

Students Elect Executive SGA Representatives for 2019-2020


By Kiera Ortiz

Staff Writer


The incoming president of the Executive Student Government Association said he hopes the new representatives can work closely together to help the school year run smoothly.

Last month, students chose junior Preston Kite as the SGA president. Elected as representatives were juniors Skyler Gee, Ally Baldwin and Cordy Biazar; sophomore Grace Walker; and eighth-grader Samia Dominguez. The positions of vice president and treasurer, for now, have not been assigned.

“If we do introduce these roles, the responsibilities will be pretty flexible, and we will mostly just be working as a single unit,” Kite said.

The new SGA has already started planning for next school year. At assembly, the plan is to keep announcements short and sweet. As students may have noticed during assembly, the new representatives have been announcing a positive quotation to start the day.

“I believe the best Executive SGA will be the one that does stuff in moderation,” Kite said. “You don’t want to take up tons of time in assembly, but you also don’t want to be totally boring.”

The group has started planning the annual Tri-School Dance, which will be held at Prep next year. The SGA has set a tentative date and is planning to hold another wheelchair basketball tournament fundraiser for the dance, similar to the one held this past year. Kite hopes to provide more food and drinks at dances as well.

Steve Ausherman, who has been a sponsor of the Executive SGA for three years, said he enjoys watching the representatives “rise to the occasion” when setting up and organizing school events.

“I like getting to know the kids and seeing them under tremendous pressure, even though kids seem to think that they just run morning assemblies,” Ausherman said .

He said that because he and co-sponsor George McJimsey each have been at Prep for around 20 years, they can advise the representatives on ideas that didn’t work historically.

“We’re able to say ‘Hey, before you go down this road, this is the problem we had in the past,’” he said.  “But mostly the SGA officers are working. I just show up and I kind of sit in the corner and watch them do their thing.”

SGA is seeking input from students and faculty to make next year as great as it can be.

“Besides Tri-School, we will keep the student body up to date on what's going on because we definitely want to be open to suggestions,” Kite said. “I would like to continue the meetings with Dr. McMillan (the head of Upper School) and other faculty members to get their input on issues and events that are taking place.”

Representatives Skyler Gee and Samia Dominguez are both excited to plan for Spirit Week.

I think it’ll be a lot of work but end up being really fun just to plan everything for my friends and be a part of it,” Gee said.

Dominguez is the first eighth-grader to run and be elected to SGA.

“I decided to run because I feel like it’s kind of like another adventure I can start, and since I haven't always been the biggest fan of school, I really want to try to make it as fun as possible,” she said. “I think it was a really cool opportunity to embark on.”

Dominguez said she plans to continue running for SGA representative throughout high school.

“I think I do still need to bring different things to the table for me to get elected, so that'll be a challenge,” she said.

Kite, a returning SGA member, has different reasons for running.

I always love seeing new faces and having new people to work with,” Kite said. “I really enjoy having new ideas and just a different structure overall.”

Kite said he’s excited to create new memories and wants to get the most he can out of being the president. He said the president typically does a lot of work that the student body is unaware of, such as planning and setting up many events.

“As the president, you're the face of Executive SGA, grade-level leadership groups, and the entire student body, which requires just being a good example for who we are,” Kite said. “I think also just being lighthearted is very important with behind the scenes work because, at the end of the day, it's all fun and I want to get the most out of being president.”


See the related story on the disqualified SGA candidate.

Disqualified Executive SGA Candidate Defends His Decision

By Kiera Ortiz

Staff Writer

This year’s Executive Student Government Association election took a controversial turn when one candidate was disqualified after he did not follow a request to change his speech.

“There was one individual who was asked to change the speech, and they kept coming back with inappropriate stuff,” Executive SGA sponsor Steve Ausherman said. “We got down to four drafts, and at the end this person was asked to take several small things out and they refused to do so, and those things were disparaging members of our community.”

The student, sophomore Hadrian Keith, said he understood the initial concern. Keith said he made some changes but, in later drafts, left in two words that he thought were comical but not hurtful.

“I can understand my old speeches that I wrote because those actually did have some stuff against ‘Say Something’ and the school in general,” Keith said. “I played by their rules up until the point they wanted me to take out a basic joke, because as someone who respects freedom of speech, I can tell you that what I said came nowhere close to hurting anyone.”

Keith said he was asked to remove the words “nerd” and “dangerous” from his speech, which he declined to do.

“They said that referring to someone as ‘nerd’ was hurtful, which I didn't believe was true in my context, as I was using it in a joking manner,” he said. “The same applied for ‘dangerous,’ as I was using it to describe myself as unpredictable. I was told that it wasn't appropriate for the current school atmosphere, which I can somewhat understand, but it still felt like it was unnecessary censorship to my otherwise clean speech.”

Keith said he decided to go with what he already had written because it was “clean and was in no way directed at anyone and got a great reaction from all the grade levels.”

Keith’s name was taken off the ballot, and he met afterward with Scott Jeffries, the Dean of Students, to discuss the incident.

“They were really nice to let me meet with them afterwards to discuss what happened,” Keith said. “I certainly feel like I shouldn't have had to make the meeting in the first place, seeing as how much I put into running, but at least I got to formally meet with Jeffries.”

Ausherman said all candidates have to submit their speeches either to him or co-sponsor George McJimsey. They ask candidates to amend their speeches if they contain complaints about the school or school policies, Ausherman said.

“That's not a format, when you're running for the election, to complain about the school,” he said. “It’s to talk about how you're going to change the school and be positive.”

Prep Gymnasts Devoted

to Their Sport

By Tyya Caldwell

Staff Writer

A few Prep students spend several hours a week practicing their handsprings and other gymnastics moves as they prepare for competitions at the state and sometimes the national level.

Sophomore standout Carissa Martinez and fellow tenth-grader Sarah Stuecker; freshman Reija Lynch; eighth-grader Claire Gunderson; seventh-graders Sage Bell and Cooper Meckler; and sixth-grader Hailey Gunderson competed in the state gymnastics meet held at Prep last month.

Martinez, one of the oldest gymnasts at the school, is admired by her fellow gymnasts at G-Force, a gymnastics facility in Albuquerque.

“I ended up hitting my beam routine, and right after a couple of younger girls came up to me and told me they wanted to be just like me when they were older, and that was amazing to hear,” said Martinez, who took first place at the state level.

Many gymnasts start the sport at a very young age--Martinez, for example, was just 18 months old--and they’ve been going strong ever since.  

“I really would like to do college gymnastics at a D1/D2 school,” Martinez said.

Lynch, who has been competing since she was 2 years old, also hopes to further her career.

“It is really hard on your body, but it just depends if I can get a scholarship for college,” Lynch said about participating in gymnastics in college. “If I can’t, then I won’t.”

Meckler, who won all-around in state, tried football, baseball and other sports before landing on gymnastics.

“I would like to continue gymnastics through high school, but I don’t know if I would make it a necessity to do it in college,” he said, adding that “if a team wants me, I would do it.”

Many of the gymnasts are moving up a level, but some, such as Lynch, are staying where they are to improve their skills.

“I am going to stay in level 9 and repeat it and hopefully do better,” she said. “I want to try to improve because I spent half my season competing as a level 8 because I was injured.”

Meckler is trying to move up one or possibly two levels next season.

“I actually want to place and not have it be a practice year,” he said.  

Martinez, Lynch and Meckler all have sustained injuries over the years. Martinez broke her ankle in about four places, and Lynch has a condition that affects her growth plate. As for Meckler, he’s had tendonitis in his Achilles and separated his growth plate from his wrist.

According to the American Orthopedic  Society for Sports Medicine, health care providers treat more than 86,000 gymnastics-related injuries each year.


Indigenous People’s Day Replaces

Columbus Day in New Mexico

By Destiny Archibald

Staff Writer

Christopher Columbus may have sailed the Ocean Blue in 1492, but here in New Mexico the holiday that honored the Italian explorer has been replaced with one that recognizes the state’s indigenous people.

State Rep. Derrick Lente proposed replacing Columbus Day with Indigenous People’s Day, which will be celebrated on the second Monday of October. Lente, the father of Prep senior Jade Lente, said he was inspired by his lack of indigenous education in the public school system.

“Being a Pueblo Native American and doing my own research, I found many of the things I learned in text books were either false, misleading and often one-sided,” said Lente, a member of Sandia Pueblo. “My inspiration to renaming Columbus Day to Indigenous People’s Day is to shed light on the resiliency of the indigenous people in America and celebrate their place in history, their place today and their place in the future.”

Lente’s bill passed both houses of the state Legislature, and Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed it into law on April 2.

Columbus Day honored the explorer’s arrival in the New World, where he then claimed the land. In recent years, the holiday became controversial because it ignored the fact that Native people already lived on the land Columbus claimed.

Danielle Gunderson, director of the Native American Sandia Prep Alliance, said she’s proud to see that New Mexico as well as other states are abolishing Columbus Day and replacing it with Indigenous People’s Day. Like New Mexico, several states have switched to celebrating Indigenous People, including Minnesota, Alaska, Vermont and Oregon.

Scott Crago, who teaches seventh-grade New Mexico history, has noticed that the topic of indigenous history, culture and identity is generally not discussed as much as it should be.

“The history of New Mexico’s indigenous communities is far more complex and noteworthy than this,” he said. “As a state, we have a tendency to ignore our indigenous communities. I think this change will force New Mexicans to go deeper into our state and region’s indigenous history, therefore allowing us to get a better understanding.”

As for Native Americans in the country, Gunderson said this is a step forward.

There is recognition for what our ancestors went through,” said Gunderson, a member of the Chickasaw Nation, and the Jemez and Laguna Pueblos. “Also, it is a honor that this bill was introduced and passed by a Native American legislative representative.”

With the 23 indigenous tribes and nations in New Mexico being home to over 300,000 people, Lente hopes the switch to Indigenous People’s Day will mark a real change for New Mexico.

“It is my hope that our schools will begin to tell the real history and how it relates to indigenous people and places,” he said.

After a Building Season, Young Softball Team Shows Promise

By Grant Fritschy

Staff Writer

In spite of struggling during the season, a young Sandia Prep softball team is looking toward the future.

“You make new friends and get active,” said eighth-grader Cora Montoya, who played third base. “Plenty of girls are attracted to the game of softball because of the fun that they have playing the game.”

Finishing with a 1-21 record, the girls beat the East Mountain Timberwolves on April 30 to claim their first win of the season.

Senior and team captain Teddy Torivio recalled memories of playing softball with her teammates.

“We didn’t perform as well as we wanted to, but we all had a great season together,” said Torivio, who pitched and played shortstop.

Coach Karah Williams reflected on the season, saying, “the girls really grew and developed together as a team.”

She added: “This season was especially tough for the girls because we had a very young, inexperienced team. For many of them, this was their very first year playing.”

Even though the team did not find their footing, it was a key year for team building and bonding.

“With a young team, we have plenty of years left to grow and bond together, and once we mature, we will be a really solid team,” Montoya said.

Many players recalled shenanigans on the bus and playing pranks on each other.

“One time we just sprayed each other with water the entire ride up to where we were playing that day,” Torivio said.

The win against East Mountain shows promise.

“We were playing very solid that game and enjoyed our first win in our second-to-last game,” Montoya said. “Our record doesn’t necessarily reflect our performance during the season. We usually played very well during the first couple of innings but would end up falling off as the game went on.”

No matter how the team performed, Prep softball looks to mature and grow together in the coming years.  

How Do We Define

Cultural Appropriation?

By Grace Walker

Staff Writer

In a social media post last year, influencer Jeffree Star promoted his cosmetics collection while wearing platinum blonde, feed-in braids with dyed green tips. Not long after the post, Star’s Twitter feed lit up with hundreds of tweets that accused him of cultural appropriation because of his hairstyle choice.

People accused Star, who is white, of not understanding why his choice was offensive.

“It is appropriation,” one tweet said, according to Teen Vogue magazine. “It's my culture. If I have to kill my hair with heat and chemicals to be accepted, but watch people wearing braided hairstyles that originated from my ancestors make money off of it and I get rejected for it ... something isn't right.”

That incident is one of many that have been publicized now that cultural appropriation has become a national topic. The issue has climbed into mainstream conversation, with numerous references in social media and news outlets.

The heart of cultural appropriation is not what someone can or cannot wear, but how some actions and decisions can lead to marginalizing certain groups.

World history teacher Amanda Parker, who is finishing a doctorate degree that focuses on race, emphasised that cultural appropriation occurs “when the dominant group in our society takes the cultural practices, sacred rituals, things that people wear, and hairstyles associated with marginalized groups.”

According to the website Reach Out, cultural appropriation adds to stereotypes and gives the dominant group credit for aspects of a culture they’ve taken, an action that reinforces the power imbalance between the two groups. Reach Out used the example of Kylie Jenner being credited with starting an “edgy” hair trend, while Disney actor and singer Zendaya, who is biracial, faced criticism for wearing her hair the same way.

“What’s interesting about this is that Zendaya’s natural hair was seen as a negative,” Reach Out said. “But Kylie Jenner, a person with no ties to black culture, was given credit for taking something that wasn’t hers.”

Parker said people respond to cultural appropriation in various ways, from apathy to strong opposition. She said those viewpoints raise the question of how schools should handle talking about the issue with young people.

“The problem is that it needs to be defined in terms that students and faculty can understand and support these definitions, and we need to hold each other accountable,” Parker said.

She said there are strong emotional connotations to appropriating a culture that often get pushed to the sidelines.  

“If it is cultural appropriation, it’s not that it’s overtly racist—it’s part of our systematic racism that is the issue,” Parker said. “It certainly can be overtly racist, but it’s the subtle form of benefiting from a racist structure with an attitude of taking from groups without helping with the marginalized groups’ progression.”