The Alamo Heights School Foundation held its annual Greater Heights Night event in October. The work of the outstanding volunteers, sponsors and attendees made this year’s event a tremendous success, raising over $445,000 in gross revenue that will be utilized to support educational initiatives in Alamo Heights ISD.
AHHS Volleyball Goes Deep into Playoffs
The Alamo Heights High School varsity volleyball team had an amazing season of play, beating defending champion Dripping Springs in a playoff sweep that propelled them to the next round. The team finished their season as regional semi-finalists with a record of 23-20.
AHHS’s McGinnis Records Fastest Time Ever in AH
Tyler McGinnis competed in the state cross country meet on Saturday, November 12. Tyler was the first boy from Alamo Heights to make it to the state meet since 1993, and his 16:26 time was the fastest time ever by an AH runner at the state meet. Tyler came in 53rd at the meet.
Alamo Heights ISD is committed to enhancing character education district wide and has partnered with Character.org, a non-profit organization that works with school districts across the country to develop a positive culture among young people, both academically and ethically.
Character.org implements 11 principles of effective character education, which facilitator Tamra Nast states “help students be people of good character.” Each principle details different efforts the schools should apply to change its culture. Although Nast admits it takes time to implement, she added, “The outcome is well worth it.”
Alamo Heights High School senior Ivalis Guajardo is excited about Character.org and the positive changes it will bring to her campus and school district. “I think it’s going to have a dramatic effect in the next couple of years as they implement it.” She recently participated in a two-day Character.org workshop at AHHS, along with some district administrators, teachers, parents and other students.
Guitar Class Provides New Music Skills to Students
By ALEX WAGNER
Special Contributors: KRISTIN CADE, AND THE AHHS JOURNALISM DEPARTMENT
Music is one of the greatest things about the holidays. People hear songs that they haven’t heard since the previous year and become all the jollier. Everybody has a Christmas carol that they’d like to hear strummed on a beautiful instrument. The high school’s guitar class is doing exactly that. During the month of December, guitar teacher Tomas Vela spent time preparing students by fine-tuning their skills on the instrument and working toward the perfection of their Christmas songs.
“We are learning different Christmas carols,” senior Elijah St. Pierre said. “One that we are working on is Joy to The World.”
But the class has been working diligently with the guitar long before the holiday season began. In a typical day during class, students are practicing as a group. They work together through an individual song as a class before moving onto the next one. This is not a quick process because the teacher stops to help anyone who is having trouble until everyone is on track. This is both a challenge and a reward for the students; it takes a lot of discipline, but it allows both the individual and the group to improve.
“I get to sit next to classmates in all my classes,” freshman Edgar Rea said. “But it’s different in guitar when we spend a lot of time working as a team.”
Every person comes from a different skill level at the beginning of the course, which makes it more difficult to progress smoothly, but the teacher is able to accommodate all skill levels and help students whenever they fall behind.
“I strummed a guitar all of once before joining the class,” junior Alex Romo said. “But I practice about five times a week so that I get my songs down.”
Other times, class time is spent working on learning new techniques. For example, students practice “sight reading,” where they begin to play a song that they’ve never heard before. This forces them to read notes and play the corresponding sounds as the song progresses.
Another challenging technique that the guitar students are exposed to is finger picking, or strumming the strings one at a time. This method provides a different kind of melody.
“Sight reading has been the biggest challenge for me so far,” junior Duc Le said. “It requires a lot of focus and precision.”
Obviously, a lack of practice is a disadvantage for the team. Those who don’t dedicate time to the song the class is learning sometimes fall behind in group exercises. Almost all of the students feel that lots of practice is a necessary component of the class.
“We play the guitar every day during class,” junior Mikaela Stintsman said. “I also practice over the weekend about two hours a day.”
Many students agree that the best part about the class is its accessibility. They appreciate that the high school provides a daily class, a guitar to use and a teacher who will invest in their progress with the instrument. Having this advantage for free is something that encourages them to join the class.
“Students at other schools might not get the chance to learn an instrument at school,” senior Valerie Longoria said. “I’m happy that I get the opportunity to do it here.”
Another benefit of taking guitar during school is that it forces repetition. Instruments take time to learn and can’t be mastered by practicing once a week. Taking the school’s guitar program guarantees an hour of thorough practice each day and, thus, improvement.
“I practice and study my songs with every chance I get,” senior Patrick Peres said. “This is what lets me improve.”
The guitar is a beautiful instrument, and playing it is a great way to spend some time. But to master the instrument, daily practice is necessary. The students who take this class are committed to the work and proud of the benefits they receive as a result. And practice is only one of the necessary components for being an excellent guitar player.
“It does take a lot of work,” junior Eric Darr said. “Practice strengthens your fingers.”
By Estee Steves
Special Contributors: KRISTIN CADE, AND THE AHHS JOURNALISM DEPARTMENT
The robotics class is an elective that students of all grades can choose to take. Taught by Robotic Teacher John Munoz, the students learn how to build and design robots during and after school for competitions and school projects.
“Each robot has a similar base component of a frame and wheels along with a variety of attachments that perform different functions,” junior Jack Ran said. “I tend to build robot attachments like arms and claws.”
The robotics class takes part in outside competitions, late December through early April. The competition process includes creating and designing a robot, then putting them in a fighting ring and trying to win as many points as possible on different criteria. Each team member has a different job, ranging from building the robot, researching different aspects of the parts, making blueprints, program filing the robot and testing drones.
“In the first nine weeks we designed and built the LEGO mind forms, had a mini competition and now we are building the Tetrix and preparing for the FTC Competition,” junior Abdul Lateef said. “First we come up with the robots, then design, build, test and make adjustments.”
Since there are all different types of robots built for different purposes, an infinite amount could be similar but different in so many ways. The robotics class also helps with outreach programs, including Destination Imagination and teaching small children how to create their own robot during the weekends. Most time commitment is in class but on weekends the completion team works to meet competition deadlines.
“During the school year, we meet one period a day and maybe an hour meeting once a week after school or on weekends,” senior Rocky Hodge said. “My goal in the competition was to design the most well rounded robot to score the most points and get first place.”
Tennis Team Advances to State Meet
By Luke Coerver And Parker Taylor
The tennis team started their journey to the state championship in the early mornings of August. The team was led by Captains senior Britney Wilbur, senior Jane Wright, senior Isabel Candelario, senior Jared Williams, senior Drew Benedikt and senior James Taylor, all of whom were returning varsity players. Other returning members consisted of senior Ramsey Robinson, junior Emma Reeves, junior Kaylin Thompson, junior Emily Gottsman, junior Will Walsh, junior Spencer Raines and sophomore Rafael Shultz.
“Being named team captain was a great honor,” Benedikt said. “It was a nice reward for my previous three years of hard work.”
The team practiced every day during seventh period and after school at Robbins. Each day was dedicated to a specific type of hit in order to improve the overall game. On Fridays, the group had practice matches which gave the players time to put together everything they had been learning. Coach Larry Oxford had a specific routine with certain drills that were used week after week.
“It was a lot of fun going to Robbins to practice,” Wilbur said. “We really practiced hard.”
The fall season was for team play, rather than individual play, each win goes toward the team’s overall score. All of the players work together and encourage each other to play to their highest level. Team play consists of eight games between boys and girls: singles matches, double matches and mixed doubles matches.
“I really enjoy playing as a team,” Raines said. “I love when all parts of the team go together.”
On the road to state, the varsity team won district, area and regionals to get them to the state tournament. The tournament was played at Texas A&M and the Mules faced Highland Park in the championship. The Mules placed second at the state meet.
“It was really cool making it to the state tournament,” Taylor said. “I am glad that we made it that far.”
Alamo Heights High School Grad Inducted into the Tennis Hall of Fame
Margaret Johnson (Canby) was a 1950 graduate of Alamo Heights High School. Her life long love and participation in tennis has now placed her in the four 2016 inductee group for the Texas Tennis Hall of Fame (Waco, Texas) on October 29. She and her husband, Col. John Canby (Ret), live just down the road at The Towers Park Lane.
Canby first discovered a love of tennis as a 9-year-old in San Antonio. Since then, her career has spanned a remarkable 72 years. While tennis took a backseat to swimming and diving competitions during her high school and college years, the passion for tennis was always present. Over her lifetime, Margaret has won 40 tennis championships on clay, grass, hard court and indoor. In 2013, she showed she still had it, winning the Women’s 80 singles Clay Court, Hard Court and Grass Court National Championships and placing first in the World Individual 80 Women’s Double Championship. She is ranked second in doubles and 12th in singles by the International Tennis Federation Super Senior World Ranking for her age group.
Canby’s tennis career has taken her around the world, and she has captained the women’s 80 and over team in the Doris Hart Cup. In 2012-2015 Margaret captained the Texas 80 Women’s Intersectional Teams, which won the national championship. She currently plays on teams in the USTA Leagues in San Antonio. Congratulations to a more than deserving member of 2016 Texas Tennis Hall of Fame class.
Basketball Boys Back ‘In Action
By Brandon Johnson
With the end of football comes the cold weather and basketball season. That means many Tuesday and Friday nights the place to be is the Mule Dome to support the Mules basketball team.
“Basketball season is the best time of the year,” senior Shooting Guard Will Schmacker said. “We can finally get back on the hardwood and compete.”
The basketball team has been working hard since the beginning of the school year. Coach Andrew Brewer and Assistant Coach Garrick Gonzales have been preparing the team for the long and difficult season with workouts during 4th period. Workouts include shooting and ball handling drills as well as strength training in the weight room and on the court.
“The hardest part about my week is Coach Gonzales’ Wednesday workouts,” junior Shooting Guard Tyler Glover said. “Even though they are hard, I know that it will help me in the future during a close game in the 4th quarter.” On Oct. 26, the team was finally able to start official practice. This allows Brewer and Gonzales to really work with the players on offensive and defensive plays and ways to make the team work better together as a unit.
“It was really good to get back to practicing with all the guys,” senior Shooting Guard Luke Wright said. “It’s going to be fun to see what great things our team can accomplish over the next several months.”
Last year, the Mules advanced all the way to the regional semifinals and ended their season with a 23-10 record. This year the Mules are favorites to defend their district championship and are ranked 8th in the state for 5A schools.
“Being ranked 8th in the state is pretty awesome and that just means we need to work and play even harder than our opponents night in and night out,” junior Power Forward Evan Carcanagues said. “I think this year’s team has the potential to be really good and we just need to work together as a team.”
Mules Finish Off 2016 Regular Season 9-1
Football Team Advances to Playoffs for First Time Since 2014
By Daniel Macias And Hunter Farrimond
The Mules Football Team went into enemy territory for their hardest game yet against Dripping Springs. Wanting to continue their winning streak, the Mules knew it would take determination to get past the Tigers.
“I felt confident going into the game,” junior Linebacker Cody Nelson said. “However the end result didn’t show it.”
The first quarter had the Mules with a firm lead and hold on the game. Sophomore Receiver Nik Proctor saved the Mules first drive after a 60-yard catch and run to put the offense in the red zone. The offense scored three touchdowns in 12 minutes and was rolling. Defensively, the Mules allowed the Tigers two touchdowns. Led by senior Defensive Tackle Tyjah Shaver, the defense was able to slow down the highest scoring offense in District 26.
“We played tough in the first quarter,” Shaver said. “We just made some bad plays that allowed the Tigers to stay in the game.”
The second quarter provided hope for both teams as the Mules offense continued to pour on points, scoring another touchdown and putting the Mules up 28-14. The Tigers never gave up and scored 14 unanswered points to end the first half in a deadlock, 28-28.
“We knew we had to keep the offense rolling to beat these guys,” senior Quarterback Will Chaney said. “So we just told each other to keep the freight train going.”
The Tigers came out hot in the second half, scoring on their first play, putting them up 35-28. The Mules offense kept it rolling with a field goal to keep them in the game. The high-powered Tiger offense proved its dominance as they scored once more in the third quarter. However, the Mules didn’t lose hope and ended the quarter on a 16-0 run giving them the lead 47- 42.
“I felt horrible after the first play,” senior Safety Holden Daum said. “But we kept our heads in the game and gave ourselves a chance to win.”
The Mules tried to keep the lead in the fourth quarter but the Tigers and their crowd were just too hard to contain. The Tiger offense scored 22 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to make the game unreachable for the Mules. After the buzzer rang, the Mules came up short 64-54.
“I knew they had strengths where we had weaknesses,” senior Cornerback Koen Flores said. “But the loss made us stronger.”
Week 10 on the Mules’ schedule didn’t get any easier as they traveled to Boerne to take on the Champion Chargers. The Chargers boasted a perfect district record, even beating Dripping Springs two weeks earlier.
“I was excited and anticipating a win,” senior Cornerback Josh Littlebird said. “Especially after our loss to Dripping Springs.”
The first half began fast for the Chargers and slow for the Mules. The Mules offense turned the ball over on their first possession while the Chargers scored on their opening drive. However, this was all the Mules would give them. The Mules fired back and led the Chargers 7-6 at the end of the first. The second quarter proved to be a defensive battle as neither team would allow any points. However, the Mules offense was able to punch in a touchdown with six seconds left in the first half to hold a 14-6 lead at the break.
“I thought we did amazing in the first half,” senior Defensive Lineman Angelo Scott said. “We set ourselves up for a win.”
Coming out of the half with the lead the Mules had fear in the back of their minds because of Champions’ past; from Tivy to Brandeis, the Chargers are known as a second half team. Although
the Mules knew this; they never gave into the fear. After an interception from Senior Nickleback Joe McGrath, the Mules punched in a field goal.
“I felt excited to play in such a combative game,” McGrath said. “And we were motivated to do our best.”
At the start of the fourth quarter the score was 24-19 Mules, but the Chargers answered with two touchdowns and one two-point conversion. Knowing the district championship was on the line, the Chargers took a 34-31 lead. With 1:45 left on the clock on fourth and 12 the Mules answered with a 60-yard pass and catch touchdown from Chaney to Proctor. The Mules defeated their rivals 38-34 and gave themselves a chance to win the district the next game against Medina Valley.
“When we beat Champion, I knew we could do something in the playoffs,” Proctor said. “They are one of the best teams in the state.”
The Mules defeated Medina Valley 55-12. After putting up 14 points in the first 30 seconds of the game, the offense showed their dominance early and often. Scoring at will, the offense was able to fix any problems prior to the playoffs the following week. Defensively, the Mules were sound and only allowed two touchdowns against a hard to stop Wing-T styled offense. At the end of the game, the Mules had won (in a three-way tie) the district championship for district 26-5A and began the first round of playoffs at Harry B. Orem Stadium against the team that knocked them out of the playoffs two years ago, Austin LBJ.
“It felt great to know all the hard work we put in means something,” sophomore Defensive Lineman Boomer Alvarez said. “Especially when you’re rewarded with a district championship.”
Two Saint Mary’s Hall Seniors Commit to Collegiate Athletics
On November 9, National Letter of Intent Signing Day, two Saint Mary’s Hall student-athletes made official collegiate commitments before their families, coaches and the Upper School student body.
Madeleine Espy signed a letter of intent to play soccer at Centre College, while AJ Walker committed to play basketball at the U.S. Air Force Academy.
Madeleine is a three-year starter for the Baron varsity women’s soccer team as well as a two-time team MVP and team captain. AJ is a shooting guard for the varsity men’s basketball team and a three-year starter.