MHS graduates look back on four years of change

 

Malibu High School graduates throw their caps in the air during the graduation ceremony on Friday, June 6, 2014 at Malibu High School in Malibu, Calif.

Malibu High School graduates throw their caps in the air during the graduation ceremony on Friday, June 6, 2014 at Malibu High School in Malibu, Calif.

Everyone knows the adage that “the only sure things in life are death and taxes,” but the  maxim neglects to mention another equally inevitable occurrence: change.

The graduates of Malibu High School celebrated finishing four years of school on Friday, June 6, in a ceremony where “change” played central role in the celebration.

“We change as people, you’ll likely change your major,” Nicholas Ficeto said during his address to his fellow students and other attendees. “If you haven’t changed your dream since childhood, well then in the words of Stephen Colbert, ‘The world would be overrun with cowboys and princesses.’”

Along with Ficeto, Robben Bixler and Amber Collins spoke of change and the next phase of their lives. Collins urged her classmates to be realistic with their plans moving forward.

“Stuff happens,” said Collins, who will be moving to Chicago to study philosophy. “Economies change, the planet changes, you change. The plan that’s in front of you, is that what you think is actually going to happen?”

Bixler said he expected to follow a strict plan once he entered high school, but ended up deviating from it.

“It’s not at all what I expected, but I think it’s better, or at least as good,” Bixler said. “I feel like I kind of realized earlier than a lot of kids that you don’t necessarily have to do it one way.”

Harrison Smart is congratulated by a fellow classmate after walking the stage during the graduation ceremony at Malibu High School on Friday, June 6, 2014 at Malibu High School in Malibu, Calif.

Harrison Smart high-fives a fellow classmate after walking the stage during the graduation ceremony at Malibu High School on Friday, June 6, 2014 at Malibu High School in Malibu, Calif.

Sofi Peterson’s change during her years at Malibu came in the form of a career choice.

“We are here in the same place for a really long time, but I feel like as the years change, you grow as a person and you change what you want to do,” Peterson said. “I had no idea what I wanted to be, and now I’m positive I want to go into engineering.”

Before attending Malibu High School, Trevor Schwerdtmann was an “angry” boy who spent much of his time alone. But once he stepped foot onto the high school, his transformation began as well. He said his ability to find friends made him into the fun-loving person he is today.

Schwerdtmann views his graduation as a stepping stone, and is looking forward to the next phase of his life.

“It’s more, to me, like a rite of passage, going from one step to the other, and I’m kind of hopeful that things will move on and be better,” Schwerdtmann said.

The graduation ceremony consisted of speeches from students and faculty, along with musical performances by the Senior Singers and the school orchestra.

Jerry Block, principal of the high school, was enthusiastic about the future of the Malibu class of 2014.

“It’s such an accomplished class, and I couldn’t be prouder of them,” Block said. “They’re going to go on and do great things in the world.”

Block, who will be leaving Malibu High School at the end of this month, said he was also proud to be involved with the kids during their time at Malibu.

“They have so much potential ahead of them,” Block said. “To know that I’ve been a small part of their lives is important to me.”

Justin Holmes (left) is congratuated by Jerry Block, principal of Malibu High School, during the graduatoin ceremony on Friday, June 6, 2014 at Malibu High School in Malibu, Calif.

Justin Holmes (left) is congratuated by Jerry Block, principal of Malibu High School, during the graduatoin ceremony on Friday, June 6, 2014 at Malibu High School in Malibu, Calif.

Malbu’s class of 2014 is the 19th graduating class in the high school’s history. Since 2010, completion rates at the high school have increased from 91.6 percent to 97.2 percent in 2013, according to data released this year by the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District.

The high school itself has gone through changes since introducing its first ninth grade class in 1992. The school has become one of the most reputable public schools in the district after contending with limited arts and sports programs and a small curriculum in its earlier years, according to the school’s website.

Hanna Carter had to change her ambitions when a fractured back prematurely ended her potential career as a gymnast. Now, she wants to help build schools and promote education in developing countries.

Carter said the people she met at Malibu, including faculty, helped shape who she has become.

“I’ve met a lot of people who have shown me different things and have helped me grow as a person,” Carter said.

Ficeto said in his speech that he and his fellow classmates were being given the gift of change, and issued a rallying cry to all the graduates in attendance.

“In spite of the murky waters and fierce currents ahead of us folks, let us not forget one thing,” Ficeto said. “We are Sharks. We are the MHS class of 2014, and through our excellence, we will change the current, but only if we commit. Let us start today.”

Nicholas Ficeto gives his student address in front of the graduates of Malibu High School during the graduation ceremony on Friday, June 6, 2014 at Malibu High School in Malibu, Calif.

Nicholas Ficeto gives his student address in front of the graduates of Malibu High School during the graduation ceremony on Friday, June 6, 2014 at Malibu High School in Malibu, Calif.

Permalink: http://www.malibusurfsidenews.com/school/mhs-graduates-look-back-four-years-change

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MHS students showcase writing talents at poetry reading

Malibu high school senior Ede Bellcrowder recites her poem during the Kids on Coffee event on Thursday, May 29, 2014 inside the Bank of Books bookstore in Malibu, Calif.

Malibu high school senior Ede Bellcrowder recites her poem during the Kids on Coffee event on Thursday, May 29, 2014 inside the Bank of Books bookstore in Malibu, Calif.

Members of a Malibu High School creative writing class recited their original poetry in front of friends, family and members of the community on Wednesday, May 28, and Thursday, May 29, for the Kids on Coffee event inside the Bank of Books bookstore in Malibu.

Pamela Eilerson, manager of the bookstore, said it is important for teenagers to have an outlet for their feelings during their adolescence.

“The teenage years are so difficult,” Eilerson said. “I think that the more they can put their thoughts into words and the words to paper and express those thoughts orally, I think it’s a really great thing. I think it’s great for their mental health, if nothing else.”

The two-night event included mostly seniors from the high school, who will graduate on Friday, June 6. Their poems centered on their perspectives on living in Los Angeles.

Naomi Joshi, 17, said her poem about L.A. compared an outsider’s and insider’s view of the city. It was her first time reciting her original writing in front of an audience.

“It was actually pretty scary,” said Joshi, a senior in high school. “I haven’t done something like this before, so it was definitely something new, but I felt really good after. I felt like a weight was lifted off my shoulders. I felt kind of enlightened, too. It was really nice, I enjoyed it.”

Ede Bellcrowder, who is also a senior, said her experience in theater helped with her nerves while reciting her poem, and said it was also her first time reading her work in front of others.

“It was a great experience,” Bellcrowder said. “It was kind of cool to get direct feedback from people as I was reading and after.”

Eric Carrier, who teaches the creative writing class at Malibu High, recited a poem called “Schoolsville” by Billy Collins at the beginning of the event to set the mood for the night. He said he tries to teach his kids to be themselves through their writing.

“I tell them at the beginning of the year that they’re all strange people, they have strange ideas and strange thoughts, and to embrace that and celebrate that and to understand that that’s who they are and not hide it, but become a part of who they want to be instead of who we’re telling them they should be,” Carrier said.

Emma Dangaard recites her poem during the Kids on Coffee event on Thursday, May 29, 2014 inside the Bank of Books bookstore in Malibu, Calif.

Emma Dangaard recites her poem during the Kids on Coffee event on Thursday, May 29, 2014 inside the Bank of Books bookstore in Malibu, Calif.

Mainly an English teacher, Carrier likes being able to tell his budding writers to let go of restrictions in their work.

“It’s nice to be able to say to them in a creative writing class, ‘forget about it, forget about the rules. Let’s express in the way that you feel most natural and the way that you want to express yourself,’” Carrier said. “It’s nice to give them the freedom to choose how they want to be themselves instead of making them be a certain way.”

Bellcrowder said Carrier has had a great impact on her development as a writer.

“I think I am the writer I am because of his teaching,” Bellcrowder said. “We’ve gotten really close and he just influences a lot of how I write.”

Joshi said she likes how Carrier can be constructive about her writing, but also be truthful.

“He’s very honest, but he’s not judgmental in any way,” Joshi said. “He can explain his opinion to me and I won’t take it offensively in any way because I know that he’s trying to help me out, and he does help me in many ways.”

Carrier will no longer be teaching the creative writing class at Malibu High, which left his students reflecting on what he meant to them as a teacher.

“I feel like he cares a lot, not just about your grades or anything, but just as you as a person,” Bellcrowder said. “Especially with writing, I think it’s kind of important to have somewhat of a personal connection with your teacher because then it’s more of a mentor and it’s not so much someone telling you what to do and then grading it. So it’s more of like a friendship-type thing and that makes it easier to express yourself fully.”

Reagan Brewster recites her poem during the Kids on Coffee event on Thursday, May 29, 2014 inside the Bank of Books bookstore in Malibu, Calif.

Reagan Brewster recites her poem during the Kids on Coffee event on Thursday, May 29, 2014 inside the Bank of Books bookstore in Malibu, Calif.

Eilerson said Carrier taught her children when they were in high school, and is proud to hold an event at Bank of Books because of those ties.

“It’s terrific to hear the students reading their wonderful poetry and it’s terrific to host an event for the school because I still have very strong, positive feelings toward the school,” Eilerson said.

Bellcrowder felt that having the event in a bookstore was fitting.

“Obviously books are great literature, so it was a just kind of like influence and inspiration around us while we’re reading what we’ve written and it’s like the younger generation surrounded by the older generations that have already done this for years,” Bellcrowder said.

Joshi believes the poetry-reading event gives the community a chance to get to know the writers in a different way.

“I think it brings everyone together, which is really nice,” Joshi said. “It shows the community a lot about people that they didn’t even know.”

Malibu high school senior Naomi Joshi recites her poem during the Kids on Coffee event on Thursday, May 29, 2014 inside the Bank of Books bookstore in Malibu, Calif.

Malibu high school senior Naomi Joshi recites her poem during the Kids on Coffee event on Thursday, May 29, 2014 inside the Bank of Books bookstore in Malibu, Calif.

Permalink: http://www.malibusurfsidenews.com/mhs-students-showcase-writing-talents-poetry-reading

Samohi softball takes it all

IRVINE — Last year, the Santa Monica softball team ended their playoff run in disappointment. But they were determined to force a different outcome in 2014.

“We were here last year [and] got our butts kicked,” head coach Debbie Skaggs said. “The girls knew that we had to come out here and not just be happy to be here, but get here and finish business.”

The Vikings easily defeated the Ventura Cougars, 3-1, in the Division IV CIF-SS championship on Saturday, May 31, giving Samohi its second title in five years.

Junior pitcher Whitney Jones struck out three Ventura batters, while senior first baseman Francesca Golick had two RBIs. Senior infielder Marina Coffin had one RBI for the Cougars.

Samohi’s last division championship was in 2010 when they defeated the North Torrance Saxons, 11-3.

The Viking offense started strong in the bottom of the first inning with senior Sara Garcia smacking a triple into right field, allowing freshman second baseman Jasmine Gomez to score Samohi’s first run.

With Garcia on third, Golick connected on a Ventura pitch, driving in Garcia for an early 2-0 lead.

Jones said her pitching loosened up after her team was able to build an early advantage.

“It feels much better when you have a little cushion,” Jones said.

The Cougars got on the board in the top of the third inning off an RBI by Coffin. However, Golick responded at the bottom of the inning with her second RBI of the game with the bases loaded. Samohi never looked back.

The Vikings were able to use strong defense to take away any chance of a Ventura comeback. With two outs in the top of the fourth inning, junior infielder Amanda Gilchrist launched a double into deep right center field. But Samohi took a ground ball by Ventura’s next batter and was able to retire the side.

“There are plays that, if they don’t make, it could get us into a lot of trouble, into a mess,” Jones said about her team’s defense. “It definitely takes down the other team and pumps up our mentality, which is just great. I can’t ask for a better defense. They really helped me this year.”

Skaggs said the team’s defense is key to their success because of the type of pitcher Jones is.

“We’re known to be a pretty solid defensive club, and that’s what we lean on because our pitcher doesn’t strike out a lot of batters,” Skaggs said.

Despite a slow start, Jones was able to find her pitching groove as the game went on. She said her positioning of the ball is what worked well for her on Saturday.

“I kept the ball low and I kept moving the pitch around, which I think was really effective,” Jones said. “[I] stayed in on some of their hands and took the ball outside when I needed to.”

This year’s championship came with a lot of growth among the team, Jones said.

“We had a really tough season this year before we got to CIF, and then once CIF came, we really gelled together as a team, just like we did last year,” Jones said. “But this year, we had a lot more talent and we were just a stronger team together and we just really had teamwork, which is what got us here.”

Permalink: http://smdp.com/samohi-softball-takes-it-all/134952