Ryan Little’s Ridiculous Bracket


March Madness is over, the chaos of the tournament has passed and the North Carolina Tar Heels are champions for the sixth time in history. Other teams proved to be the Cinderellas of the tournament, devastating some, surprising everyone, and stealing the hearts of most. Most everyone has moved on with their lives, mourning their tragically blighted brackets. However, some bracket participants were unbridled with joy from their successes.

A few weeks earlier, the annual bracket returned. The college basketball tournament of 64 teams comes with an abundance of excitement. During the waning weeks of March, everyone becomes a college basketball aficionado. The tournament is single elimination or one and done. In order to advance to the finals, a team would have to go through six rounds. With so many teams and so much variation, it makes the tournament captivating and addictive.  Nationwide everyone fills out brackets either with their “expertise” or completely without knowledge of the teams participating. At Miramonte, a plethora of students completed their own brackets. Senior bracketologist Sam Foster proclaims the key to success is to “trust your gut, have some background knowledge of the teams involved, and be absurdly lucky.” Students without knowledge of college basketball normally elect teams of a high seed, which correlate with their higher caliber and skill level. However, many know that there are countless upsets during the tournament. An upset is when a lower seed defeats and knocks out a higher seed. Predicting the whole tournament is virtually impossible, which makes filling the bracket so fun.

Each year senior Jimmy Ricksen hosts a pool since eighth grade, where students can pay a ten dollar fee to enter. The one with the most accurate bracket gets the money. This year a total of almost 60 students entered Ricksen’s pool and one came out victorious. Although Senior Ryan Little stands at a mere 5 feet 6 inches, his bracket stood tall. He has the foresight of a psychic. Little attributes his success to “using March Madness strategy over basketball strategy. “He went on to say “I had no idea the caliber of the teams, but I knew their history and the usual tendency of March Madness.” Little’s midwest section was completely perfect, meaning he predicted every single game in the section. The upsets hurt Little’s bracket, but fortunately ruined majority of the contestants brackets too. Little prevailed even with people rooting against him. Senior Alex Meyers posted a picture of the final four on his snapchat: “For those watching with no one to root for, Ryan Little misses out on $400 if the Ducks can pull off the W.” Little explains in order to win, “don’t listen to the haters.” He plans to spend the money on spoiling his girlfriend. Little has a lucky girl, but an even luckier bracket. 

The AMIGOS Experience

Tears rolled down the cheeks of every person in the crowd. Waving goodbye for the last time, they watched as the bus rolled away. Heading home, junior William Shain was leaving the very people he had come to know as family.

Six weeks of cultural integration with Amigos de las Américas, an organization dedicated to the cultural and linguistic immersion of high school and college students  had completely transformed Shain.

“One word that describes your experience?” I asked.

“Life-changing,” he responded, spinning a blue string bracelet from his host community of Madriz around his wrist.

For six weeks, Shain and 54 other students from all over the United States worked in communities throughout Northern Nicaragua, separating into teams dedicated to differing service projects. From construction projects to educational seminars, there wasn’t a moment to waste. Using knowledge gained in an eight month training program, Shain educated youth about important issues such as hygiene, education and contraception.

Though Amigos’ primary objective is to create catalysts for change among both Latin American and American youth, Shain’s experience wasn’t all about service. It was also about getting to know the locals, and the other students in the program.

“The community members were some of the happiest people I have ever met; they don’t need commercial value to be happy,”  said Shain. “[I really learned] to appreciate everything [I] have.” Showering in a bucket, lacking basic supplies, students learn to adapt to a whole new way of life.

Shain, however, had a particular barrier to overcome upon his arrival in Nicaragua. A few weeks into the trip, Shane contracted the Zika Virus. Zika, known to cause birth defects such as Microcephaly, and runs rampant throughout South America. In yet another stroke of bad luck, Shain was recently diagnosed with a dormant form of Dengue Fever. Thankfully, Shain returned to the U.S. safely and is not a threat to those around him. Today, he is void of any and all symptoms, and will be void of the blood-spread illness in a few months.

Junior Helen Radoff was also able to share in the Amigos experience, though in a different community. “It’s so important to view cultures and ideas that are different from our own,” said Radoff. “This past summer was a catalyst for change in my life.”

The inspiration behind Shain and Radoff’s summer experience, Senior Griffin Ansel participated in Amigos in the summer of 2015. Ansel spent his six weeks in the same community as Shain—Madriz. After two years of involvement, Ansel has successfully passed on the legacy of the Amigos’ long standing activity at Miramonte. Now acting as a member of the Amigos’ training staff, Ansel has the opportunity to help younger students get involved.

“I was able to watch the new participants as they found out why Amigos is so unique and valuable, and work to do the best job that they could,” Ansel said. “I hope more students from Miramonte participate in Amigos, and get the life-changing experiences that it has to offer.”

However, Amigos’ history at Miramonte didn’t begin with Ansel. Miramonte students can trace Amigos back past Kristen Plant, Miramonte’s own public speaking teacher. Plant traveled to Michoacan, Mexico, after her sophomore year, and to Honduras after her junior year. “What people don’t know is that you get out of it just as much as you give. People are so welcoming, opening their homes to you. It’s really powerful,” she said. “If I had to describe it in one word, it would be empowering.”

Dino Eating Dash

July 4th is known to most as the national holiday celebrating the United States’s independence.  On this date, the biggest competitive eating contest and the most patriotic holiday surprisingly coincide. The Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating contest is the most highly anticipated competitive eating showdown.  Matt Stonie, an American competitive eater ranked second in the nation, devotes countless hours preparing for this event. Stonie does cardio and weights, improves nutrition, and he fasts for this competition.  During the contest, competitive eaters gorge on hot dogs for ten minutes straight. This is the single most important showdown of the competitive eating calendar.

August 25th, Miramonte held its very first Dino Nugget eating contest on the quad. Students and staff devoured nuggets at a rapid pace while bystanders circled around the lunch table like ants to a leftover candy bar. Some students were disqualified in a matter of seconds as they used their hands to eat the nuggets. Other more determined competitors duked it out for the top three spots hoping to receive one of the coveted gift cards. Driven by their prize, the amatuer eaters continued to stretch their stomach’s limits.

Miramonte discovered its own Matt Stonie in freshman JP Nelson. He rose to stardom in the opening moments of the face-off. JP was determined to be the Cinderella story of this year’s event and broke out of the gates as fast as Lightning McQueen vying for the Piston Cup. However, JP began to feel like he was “giving birth through his throat” and dropped the bowl of nuggets and dashed to the nearest trash bin. He stood, hunched over the garbage can,vomiting, as his friend patted his back. Nelson now regrets his lack of preparations for the event and recommends to anyone who wishes to be a competitive eater that they prepare for their competitions. Also, JP  advocates that “only people that are good at speed eating” should take part in the dangerous sport of competitive eating. Although he planned to make his name at Miramonte, this was not at all what he anticipated. Much like Jefferson and his fellow patriots on the 4th of July, the Dinos declared their independence from JP in emphatic fashion.

Gifts For Grads

As the school year comes to an end, seniors are getting ready to graduate. Parents, grandparents, friends and even siblings might be wondering what to get for their graduate. If in need of some ideas for a great gift, take a look at this list:

  1. Laptop: If your graduate doesn’t have one already, a laptop is the perfect gift before heading off to college. Although a laptop is expensive, it is an essential tool for their education away from home. Dell, HP, and Mac’s are some of the few popular computers that are reliable for your graduate. “I use my Mac a lot already in high school, so I can see it being very useful in college. Having the access to type during lectures will save time instead of hand writing notes,” senior Caitlyn Wong said.
  2. Cash: Cash is always a good go-to gift. The graduate can spend it on what they want, when they want. “Cash is a great gift for students who are about to graduate because most of us are broke and need money. We can either spend it on stupid stuff or be smart and save that money to spend in college,” senior Julia Alfonso said.
  3. Metro or Gas Card: This is a new idea for a gift. Since most freshman in college will be living on campus, they need a way of transportation. A Metro card is convenient and will save some money for your new graduate.
  4. Gift card: A gift card is always good to cover the cost for food or movies. It is a good idea to get something that they will use away from home.
  5. Concert tickets: You can’t go wrong with getting your graduate concert tickets during the summer months. This allows them the opportunity to make some more memories with their friends before heading off to college.  “I’ve been to many concerts, and I think concert tickets would be a good gift for graduates because you can see your favorite artists live and have fun with friends. Concerts give you a new experience you wouldn’t have just listening on your phone, ” senior Paige Deloso said.
  6. Furniture: A simple painting, poster or hamper for their dorm room is something that your graduate will greatly appreciate. “Pictures are a perfect present, they provide a nice memory and are a really sweet sentimental gift to remind someone they are important to you,” senior Gwen Sullivan said.
  7. College Gear: Get your graduate a college shirt, hat or sweatshirt so they can be spirited while at college. “College gear is a cool gift for someone about to graduate because it essentially excites them more about their future,” senior Aoife Tejada said.
  8. Shoes: There is nothing wrong with having too many shoes. Get your graduate a pair that is comfortable and something that they will wear often. “Having an extra pair of shoes is always helpful, and if you don’t like them you can return them and get money back. It’s one less thing to worry about,” senior Stefan Maksimovic said.

Spring Play Has Unconventional Theme

The set included Mars-like rocks, images from NASA to give the stage an otherworldly feel, “alien” makeup, and flowing blue, green and purple costumes.

Every year the Miramonte theater department performs a spring play, but this year’s spring play was the first time in recent years that the cast has put such an unconventional twist on a classic. The Miramonte Players performed Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” at Miramonte from May 19-21. Instead of the classic island setting of “The Tempest,” the play was set in outer space, which, according to senior Eleanor Roeder, fits the original script in an almost uncanny way.

The script surprisingly adapted very well to the space theme. The ‘ship’ ended up becoming a spaceship, so the only serious inconsistency that Ms. Cousins had to be sure of cutting were the references to water and the ocean,” Roeder, who played Ariel in the production, said. “Our costumes, makeup and set crew have found very unique, abstract pieces for the show, and their interpretation is really creating a beautiful show.

The original Shakespearean script was cut down to make the performance a more reasonable length. However, no word changes to the actual script were made, staying true to the words of Shakespeare. The changes made to the props, stage setting and costumes this year was heftier.

“It’s all still Shakespeare’s words. We’ve cut a little bit of the text out, but we haven’t changed any of the words. Because of the set and the costumes, the props and the sound effects it’s pretty clear what’s going on,” director of the play and Drama teacher Heather Cousins said.

Many different directors of plays and movies have performed and adapted Shakespeare’s works in less conventional ways. A better-known adaptation is Baz Luhrmann’s “Romeo + Juliet” (1996), which tells the classic tale of Romeo and Juliet set in Verona Beach with guns and the mafia instead of fair Verona with swords and rival houses. In Andy Fickman’s film “She’s the Man” (2006) Shakespeare’s case of mistaken identities in “Twelfth Night” is set at a present-day boarding school. These are just two of many adaptations of Shakespeare’s works.

“What I love about Shakespeare the most is that it’s so bendable. And even though obviously Shakespeare wasn’t thinking about “The Tempest” in space, once you have this idea the text just fits,” Cousins said.

Originally, senior Max Hunt approached Cousins about performing “The Tempest” as a David Bowie tribute. However, after examining Bowie’s albums such as “Space Oddity,” a new idea evolved. Instead of using David Bowie music, the play would be performed in space, with aliens and scientists.

“The set was prominently constructed and designed by Kyle McKeen. At first, the class as a whole wasn’t completely onboard with the idea of putting a traditional piece, that being any Shakespeare play, into an unconventional setting,” senior Jesse Epstein, who played Alonsa, said. “However, as the rehearsal process went on and the the visual aspects of the production came to life, more began to latch on to the idea.”

The play commenced with a video of a spaceship taking off, and cast members yelling and creating engine-like sound effects to emulate a spaceship crash. The native creatures of the island were replaced by aliens, and the magical acts done by Prospero in the play were a result of his scientific genius instead of some unknown sorcery.

I think that initially, it was very exciting but intimidating to a lot of the class to go in such a different direction with The Tempest,” Roeder said. “Getting this completely new interpretation of the setting was shocking to a lot of us. Now, however, we have all become very comfortable with and excited about this adaptation.” 

Mats Study Abroad

After years of study, and weeks of preparation then-junior Chiara Marley was finally ready to leave. Her destination? Suzhou, China. For two months, Marley would speak nothing but Mandarin, attend classes alongside host sister Wang XueMeng, and accomplish more than she could ever hope. “Studying abroad is the ultimate chance to experience a whole new way of life. I found myself constantly adapting to the environment around me.”

Living with a host family, Marley was treated to weekend trips around the city, traditional Chinese food, and a local perspective. She soon became enthralled with the simple adventure of walking the streets of Suzhou. “My friends and I had the options to go to the mall, karaoke, visit gardens, amusement parks, hike, drink copious amounts of boba tea, bike, bargain, go to JinJi Lake, visit museums and eat,” she said. Attending Suzhou No. 1 High School, Marley took four classes a day, all in Mandarin. “From the casual encounters with shopkeepers to getting lost using public transportation, I felt I was in a 24-hour living language lab.”

However,  Marley wasn’t the only Mat to break the boundaries of the typical high school experience. From Russia to Ireland, a select few Miramonte Students took the opportunity to study abroad.

Awarded a full scholarship from the US State Department Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs, Lillian Hunter-Reay spent six weeks in Yaroslavl, Russia. Stepping over the boundary between familiar and unfamiliar, she experienced an entirely different way of life.   “I lived with a host family that consisted of a host mom and two host brothers aged 11 and 15,”

Meanwhile, on the other side of the world , senior Aoife Tejada spent one semester of her sophomore year studying abroad in Ireland. “I feel a lot more connected to my Irish family as well as the country in general,” Tejada said. Returning to her Irish roots, she divided her time among distant family members, spending time in both the country and the city. “I became closer with my family than I ever dreamed of being,” Tejada said, who, consequently, attended her mother’s all-girls highschool of three hundred students. Picking up on the dialect, attending classes, and working tours in a museum, this was an experience unlike any other.  “I love and appreciate the Irish culture so much more now,” Tejada said.

However, students’ respective experiences didn’t end upon their return. Effects of their trips continue to influence aspects of their lives today. After months of self-sufficiency, all three students reported increased confidence and a love of language.

Enhancing language skills, life experience, and personal development, studying abroad has many proven positive effects. Enticing on college applications, students who study abroad are two times more likely to secure employment within six months following college, with almost 100 percent reporting better grades following their return.  

While any and all students are recommended to participate in a study abroad program, those interested in language are the most common candidates. Language immersion courses are proven to deliver results in weeks or less, with full literacy in two years. “I would recommend this program (studying abroad) to anyone who wants to challenge themselves,” Marley said. “If we take time to understand other cultures, we learn so much more about ourselves.”


Student Athletes Are Recruited

The decision has been made, the next four years are determined. Committing is what all college athletes must go through, however, it happens at different times for different people.  “Most of the girls I know committed this summer or earlier. I know indoor volleyball commits a little later but all Pac-12 schools and most D1 schools have all of their commits by now,” junior Caroline Schafer, future UC Berkeley Beach volleyball player said. “I committed around Christmas because I decided to wait it out a little and really think about my decision.”

At this stage in the game, being “committed” means that the athlete has made a verbal commitment to the school that he or she plans on attending. Verbal commitment is a type of limbo for athletes and coaches. In this time period, athletes and coaches are only bounded by word.

“Before I committed to Cal, I was talking to the University of Washington, LMU, Stanford, Princeton, Yale, and Harvard” Schafer said.

Colleges scrambling for players happens at different times for different sports. In Men’s Basketball, NCAA rules allow for a coach to contact an athlete directly any time after June 15 of his sophomore year. However, in Football, a coach is not allowed to make weekly calls to the player until Sept. 1 of his senior year.

Uncertainty of the verbal commitment is eventually put to an end when signing day comes around. All decisions are finalized by May 18 of the player’s senior year.

On signing day, a student will sign both a National Letter of Intent (NLI) and a financial aid agreement. This means that athletes not receiving money from the school does not have to sign an NLI. The National Letter of Intent is a binding agreement between you and the college you decide on. If a player breaks the agreement and does not attend the school then the NCAA does not allow for the athlete to play on another school’s team for a year.

“I will be receiving a partial scholarship because Beach Volleyball is an equivalency scholarship. This means that the sport has six full rides that can be split up however,” Schafer said.

Even younger Miramonte athletes have committed to college. On October 2, 2015, sophomore Megan Bower made a verbal commitment to Santa Clara for Softball. Along with being one of Miramonte’s best hitters, Bower shifted her position to catcher.

“Most players commit that the end of their sophomore/ beginning of their junior. So it wasn’t unusual for me to commit my sophomore year.” Bower said.
“I will be receiving full tuition from Santa Clara so everything will be covered except room and board, food, and books,” Bower said.

French Teacher’s Dog Named Grand Champion

A Miramonte teacher who spends many weekends at dog shows has campaigned her dog to earned the title of Grand Champion. The Belgian Malinois owned by French teacher Patricia Richards earned the distinction at the Sacramento Kennel Club on April 16. Richards, who trained her dog without a professional handler, estimates that her dog beat out more than 200 other Belgian Malinois to earn the Grand Champion title. Since March 2014, “I’ve been to about 40 dog shows. It’s been all-consuming,” Richards said.

“The point of showing a dog is to analyze how it compares to the AKC standard,” she explained. “You don’t want to breed dogs that are incorrect and don’t fit the standard.” Richards’ dog, now nearly two years old and named “Grand Champion Emerald’s Thibault le Beau,” weighs 58 pounds and stands 25 inches at the withers. The near equal lengths of his back and legs “makes him very square and makes him move very elegantly and beautifully,” Richards said. “He just glides.” Compared to most Grand Champions who take three to four years to earn the title, Richards’ dog became a Champion in just 13 weeks and a Grand Champion in less than a year.

Considered nearly anatomically correct for a Malinois, her dog will command an estimated $1,300 stud fee following tests for any genetic defects, Richards adds. Earning the Grand Champion title means that “your dog is fit to breed,” she explains. “That is the whole point.” Dogs with genetic defects too often end up in animal shelters, where many end up euthanized. “People are too unthinking,” Richards said of many “backyard” breeders. “They’re creating beings, these lives,” Richards says. “People breed dogs too casually.”

Richards’ is the breed of choice by the Navy Seals and  the Secret Service.  “The Belgian Malinois is a really, loyal, intense dog that is a fantastic working dog. They’re tough dogs,” Richards said. “They’re used as a tool, as a gun. They’re incredibly agile and they’re tough as nails, and they’re completely fearless.” Richards cautions, however, that owning such a breed entails a considerable commitment of time, since such dogs prefer constant activity. “They never relax.”

Zika Virus Poses Threat

An increasingly loud buzzing ricochets off the walls of an ear cavity. Hands swat at the sound, and rightfully so. Soon itchy bites are scratched at. Then joints ache, fevers climb and rashes spread.

Most of the time, mosquito bites are no big deal. But for those living and traveling to the Pacific Islands, South America and Central America, bites are more worrying than a pesky itch. Currently, the Zika virus is increasingly becoming a pandemic in specific parts of the world.

With spring break on the horizon, many people have vacations booked to various tropical places. Many spring-breaker hotspots such as Mexico and Costa Rica have reported transmissions.

Zika is a relative of Dengue fever and Japanese fever. It’s name is derived from the Ugandan forest where it was first reported. The first recent report of Zika occurred in November of 2015 in Mexico.

So who is at risk? While anyone can contract the virus through mosquito bites, those most at risk are those who don’t even experience the bites themselves; pregnant women who contract Zika can pass it on to their fetus, potentially leading to microepalphy.

Mircroepalphy is when a baby’s head is smaller than anticipated, meaning the brain’s growth has slowed. Individuals with microepalphy risk seizures, problems with balances, intellectual challenges, hearing loss and vision problems.

With the 2016 Summer Olympics being held in Rio de Janeiro Brazil, many people run the risk of contracting the virus. The Paralympics will follow that September offering more potential victims.

Mirador Identifies Ideal Prom Date

By the time the calendar turn to March, the venue is selected, food taste-tested and tuxes and dresses are in the selection process. For some students junior prom isn’t that big of a deal-it is just another night. For others it’s highly anticipated as an apex of the social calendar in the midst of a stressful junior year.

But one common stressor is who to take as a date. What makes an ideal corsage or boutonniere buddy? For a lot of juniors it is important to have a date their proud to be seen with; for others, the criteria is based primarily on personality. “My ideal prom date would be someone who is fun to be around, likes to have a good time, is a nice person and someone you have chemistry with,” junior Layne Estes said. As one could predict, going to prom with someone fun, who likes to have a good time is not unheard of; in fact it seems to be a general consensus amongst juniors.

Often considered a major event, this rite of passage has been the topic of news articles, classic highschool memories and movies. Often theatricalized by media, proms can be stressful and expensive. It takes funding, planning and preparing. But under all the hype, what is the most important aspect?

For many people it’s who they go with. In a recent survey conducted by YouGov 51% of prom veterans went with a romantic date, 43% with a friend and 6% went alone. “They have to be nice and fun to be around, if they are awkward or you don’t know them very well it would be a deal breaker,” said junior Brooke Strumlauf.

No matter what magnitude of importance, it’s safe to say the vast majority of attendees want to roll through prom unhitched, with someone they can have a great night with. Even if the night isn’t a particularly memorable one, it’s bound to be an experience shared by every prom date.