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The Rise of Chappell Roan, The Midwest Princess

     What do lipstick-stained teeth, sparkles, and pink cowgirl hats have in common? Chappell Roan, that’s who.

     The increasingly popular singer-songwriter, who’s the vivid alter-ego of Willard, Missouri’s Kaleigh Rose Amstutz, has recently garnered mass amounts of attention in the media due to her catchy songs and striking performances.

     Chappell Roan, whose name is derived from her late grandfather, Dennis Chapell, and his favorite song “The Strawberry Roan,” writes songs inspired by her upbringing in a highly religious, conservative Midwest town where being gay was seen as a sin — and her subsequent move to LA, where she felt comfortable to live openly as a queer woman.

     Long before the release of her hit 2023 album, The Rise and Fall of a Midwest Princess, a teenage Roan got her start by uploading cover songs to YouTube. A few original songs and performances later, her talent was recognized by Atlantic Records, the label she began to sing for. In 2017, she released her first single “Good Hurt,” which would eventually become a part of her first EP, School Nights.

     Then in 2020, after moving to LA, she released the hit single: “Pink Pony Club,” inspired by an actual gay bar called The Abbey. As Universal Music wrote, the song “set the tone for Chappell’s evolution into her own version of pop stardom: a small town rhinestone cowgirl delivering euphoric, heartfelt bangers, and a queer icon for a generation.”

     Yet, despite the success of the single, there was a lack of profits that caused Atlantic Records to drop her from the label. She moved back to Missouri for a while, working as a production assistant, barista, and nanny to support herself. “I felt like a failure, but I knew deep down I wasn’t,” she reveals.

     Roan moved back to LA, claiming that “if nothing happens by the end of next year, it’s a sign I need to move back home.” She resumed her work with producer Dan Nigro (Grammy-winning producer of Olivia Rodrigo’s Sour) to create her widely popular album The Rise and Fall of a Midwest Princess.

     The album, named after her Midwest origins and a tattoo of hers that reads “princess,” is an incredibly fun, synth-heavy assembly of what I can only describe as exhilaratingly campy, peppy queer girl anthems and heart-wrenching ballads. Reminiscent of pop from both the 80s and the early 2000s, the (mostly) upbeat tunes are highly danceable and delightfully effervescent.

     But perhaps it’s Chappell’s tender, relatable, angry, and at times, very comedic lyrics that make her particularly stand out from the crowd. The mix of emotional hard-hitters like “But I’d rather feel something than nothing at all,” and “Could go to hell but we’ll probably be fine” juxtaposed with the silliness that is “Get it hot like Papa John” and “No need to be hateful in your fake Gucci sweater” leads to a jumble of thoughtful, relatable, and belt-worthy lines. There’s a bucketful of other lyrics I’d love to include, but due to her unabashedly raunchy lyrics, I think I’ll omit those for now.

     She has explained of the album, “I think that a lot of the songs are from daydreams, and a lot of that daydreaming happened from Missouri, from this repressed state of not having a queer community growing up and feeling really weird.” And in Roan’s album trailer, she teased, “I mean, this album is about the birth of my queerness. Accepting it, at least. Where I grew up here, is in me no matter what… I will forever be from Willard, Missouri.”

     While this album is such a deeply personal telling of Chappell’s experiences, its relatability means heaps to her fanbase. It’s incredibly refreshing to hear such a confident queer woman sing unapologetically about other women — a perspective that can sometimes be buried in the flurry of pop music releases today. Although there are several notable exceptions to this, Roan’s “championing (of) open and honest expression of identity and unapologetic sexuality” is a very distinguishing mark.

     On top of just her music, Chappell Roan’s impact on the queer community extends far off-stage as well. For example, during her “Naked in North America” Tour for The Rise and Fall of a Midwest Princess, she hired three local drag queens from each location to be her opening act. Her idea is that “it’s just your duty as an artist to…do your part. Especially if you’re profiting off queer people, you best be giving back, they are loyal.”

     In addition to highlighting local drag performers, she has donated profits from her tour to For the Gworls, a charity supporting Black transgender people. Not to mention, she provided a scholarship program for tickets at the start of her tour. “I didn’t want queer kids in the Midwest who can’t afford to join the safe space for them [to miss out], just because they don’t make enough,” she explains.

     In addition to her own tour, Chappell has been signed on to be the opening act for Olivia Rodrigo’s “Guts World Tour” in the US and Canada. She has also performed on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert in February and NPR’s “Tiny Desk Concert” in March.

     More recently, however, she performed at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, increasing her popularity substantially as she went viral on social media for her captivating performances. “To be playing Coachella as my first festival is surreal. I can’t believe it. I’ve always heard of it growing up, but I genuinely have no idea what to expect…except to have fun,” she says.

     Sometime between all of these performances, Roan released her latest single “Good Luck, Babe!” — described as the song for kicking off her “next chapter” of music. The song, which is about someone still coming to terms with their sexuality, has not yet been confirmed to be a part of an album. However, she explains, “I’m sure I’ll come to an album but, for now, I’m just writing songs that I love and putting them out.”

     “Good Luck, Babe!” which is now a viral hit, has made Chappell Roan a Billboard Hot 100 charting artist. Billboard contributes that the song has “6.6 million official streams, 67,000 in radio airplay audience and 1,000 downloads sold in the U.S. through April 11,” indicating her rapidly growing popularity.

     As I’m writing this on April 26th, “Good Luck, Babe!” is Spotify’s 27th most-listened-to song in the USA, as well as the 2nd song on the Viral 50 Global and USA playlists. Not to mention, The Rise and Fall of a Midwest Princess is number 17 on the Top Albums USA playlist.

     So, it seems as though Chappell Roan has finally received the attention, the spotlight, and the recognition she has worked so hard for. The recognition she deserves.

     As Jem Aswad writes for Variety, “A superstar is born?… Chappell Roan already was one — it’s just taken the world a minute to catch up.”

    And thus is the rise of the girl from Willard, Missouri, the rise of a confident queer artist, and the rise of Chappell Roan — the Midwest Princess.

A Review of the 2024 Prom (From Someone Who Didn’t Go)

     Sparkly dresses, loud music, and… Richard Nixon? 

     Whether or not you went to this year’s prom, chances are you’ve already heard tons about it. Like, where prom was held: the Richard Nixon Presidential Library in Yorba Linda.

     The location, which is home to Nixon’s grave and house, a rose garden, a large fountain, a gazebo, and lots of outdoor seating, definitely received some varied feedback.

     In an interview with them, one of my prom-going friends whom we’ll call E said the location choice was “interesting” and “kind of weird,” elaborating that they “don’t want to dance with a giant portrait of George Washington,” (which was apparently hung in the dance area). Ultimately, however, they said the space was “not bad” (a ringing endorsement).

     Talking to another friend of mine called “Z” about the prom location, said “It was fire,” shortly followed by “It was good.”

     Another friend, who also wished to remain anonymous (Amiya Harris), said the Richard Nixon Presidential Library was “the freakiest spot to get down to,” adding, “I thought the location was pretty. It was cool, they had a tour of Nixon’s house.”

     Based on these answers, I’ve come to the conclusion that the location, whilst it may seem a bit strange, was an overall good location — with the exception of one thing I can’t get out of my head.

     In case you didn’t already know, the theme for this dance was “A Night in Paris.” Right off the bat, the Richard Nixon Presidential Library seems like an oddly American setting for Paris-themed dance.

     And as far as I know, there wasn’t a whole lot of “Paris-like” decor either, barring a single picture of the Eiffel Tower. E suggests to “keep the location more consistent with the theme” for future dances, a statement I would have to agree with.

     Also, from the information I’ve gathered, none of the food or drinks offered were distinctly Parisian either, with selections like chicken skewers, mozzarella sticks, a chocolate fountain with bananas, marshmallows, strawberries, pretzels and rice crispies, cream puffs, cookies, mini donuts, cupcakes, and assorted pastries. It does sound delicious, though, so maybe it’s not that big of a deal.

     Along with the eating, prom offered a plethora of activities like caricatures, a photo corner, poker, and blackjack, about which my friend Z says, “Gambling is fun.”

     On top of all this stuff, there was one central focus — the music. It is a dance, after all. From talking to my friends, I’ve gotten a lot of mixed reviews about this.

     E expressed that they thought the DJ was good and played a good and large mix of songs. And then there’s Amiya Harris, who wished to remain anonymous, who said that the DJ was not good and didn’t play music that was really popular or good to dance to and that the songs were too long.

      Yet, the DJ wasn’t the only source of music, as there was also a live band. Amiya says that she “had a lovely time dancing to the live music” and E accredited the live band to being one of their favorite parts of the night.

     So, okay, maybe the location was a little funky, and maybe the presence of a theme was negligible, but this year’s prom overall sounded like a “good experience and a nice way to close out the year,” as put by my friend, E.

     All in all, even though I didn’t go, it seemed like a really nice event. I’m glad my friends had a good time and I’d be curious to know what’s in store for next year’s prom.

Lights, camera… landscaping?

     I’m sure a lot of you have noticed the recently improved landscape area by the front office, but how much do you know about the story behind these changes?

      The mastermind behind this project is none other than Eren Sarikcioglu, a Mission Viejo High School senior whose Eagle Scouts project was to spruce up the area and repair the National Honor Society Bench near the parking lot.

     The goal of this project, which consisted of clearing out all of the old bushes, plowing and tilling the ground, laying down the gravel, and planting the new succulents, was to “make a ripple that could become a wave — it could trigger changes,” Eren explains.

     Originally, he had a few different ideas for his Eagle Scout project: planting trees in San Bernardino for post-fire relief and even rehabilitating seals in Laguna Beach. Unfortunately, these ambitious ideas were not permitted by time, so he had to look elsewhere for inspiration.

     “We were very crunched on time. We were pushing the envelope. I was terrified. I thought, ‘We’re not gonna make it. We’re gonna lose this one,” he says. Finally, and with the help of Principal Osborne, Eren found his project: repairing the National Honor Society bench near the front of the school.

     Yet, a determined Eren didn’t just want to repair the bench: he decided to reimagine the whole area. Deciding to keep the tree, he changed the surrounding ground to native landscaping. This was on top of preserving the bench, which involved power washing, sealing, painting, and getting a new plaque.

     Along with Principal Osborne, he worked with numerous people on this project. The drama team, especially, who provided the project’s funds from concessions and helped to spread awareness. “I could not believe just the compassion, the joy and just the generosity of everyone, and the help,” Eren says of his team.

     Even though it wasn’t the project he initially had in mind, Eren explains that “it was still something that made a difference and something I’m proud of.”

     Eren has also left his mark on the school in several other ways, including participating in the Umbrella Club for neurodivergent students, the Unified Sports program, MUN, and, of course, drama.

     In my interview with him, Eren talks about how drama is a “party” and how much he respects his fellow peers, saying “I’m grateful to each and every one of them. They’re such a talented, intelligent, intellectual bunch and I’m amazed they want to put up with me every day.”

     During his time here at MVHS, Eren has participated in several plays, his first being Bully Plays. He explains that even though the play seems to be disliked by drama, he has “a sentimental spot because it was my debut.”

     He also participated in the Shakespeare play, as well as Bad Auditions by Bad Actors, in which he played a puppeteer with a puppet named Zippo. “They kept auditioning me for character after character, and they kept saying ‘We don’t have a character that has this type of energy.’ And finally, they found this puppeteer guy… it was such a good and fun character. Such a bold character. I had such raw energy that you just fed off of it and you got such a kick from it. You just got a charge… It was such a fun show.”

     Another play he was involved in was Cinderella, in which he played the minister. He auditioned for the role by singing “White Christmas” by Bing Crosby, saying “I love the crooners. Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Ella Fitzgerald, Etta James. I’m such an old soul.”

     The performances he did weren’t always on stage, however: he mentioned a story about playing this character to help his nervous friend feel confident to perform at the school play. He says, “I love doing characters. I love anything with physical comedy, anything, which just bold character, I love it.” Not only has he been a performer, but he has also enjoyed working on sets and props for some of the shows.

     Overall, Eren seems to have a lot of great memories tied to MVHS drama. “I take a lot of rehearsal, but once I’m on show night, it’s lightning in a bottle. We’re off. We’re cruising. We’re surpassing altitude. We’re sky-high past the Rockies,” he says. 

     Eren has also had other accomplishments, like getting Spirit of the Diablo a few times. He tells the story of the award’s significance to him: “I was very close with Ms. Mello at the time, and she had recommended me into Spirit of Diablo. It was still the pandemic…I needed that. I was kind of in a bit of a depression over COVID. I had lost everything overnight in middle school and then high school… It was a rough patch coming in here at the height of the pandemic. But we landed on our feet. I always say ‘You hit rock bottom and there’s only one place left to go and that’s orbit. You’re gonna head right up and you’re gonna surpass the moon.”

     Overall, Eren’s biggest takeaway from high school has been, “Know when to react. Know how to react. Know it’s not what you meant to do, or what you meant to say. It’s what you did do, or did say. That has probably been the greatest lesson.”

     Outside of school, Eren does a lot of scouting, which includes campouts, hikes, excursions, barbecues, banquets service projects, and helping to plan for events. He’s been involved in Scouts “since almost forever,” starting in late kindergarten and all through now.

     “It really became a family, especially with the past two troops out here. It’s been a real family. And a lot of them actually came out from my last troop, from 603, for the project and helped me out. We talked, schmoozed. Just had a lot of fun.”

     His first participation with Scouts began in Illinois, where he was born. He lived there up until about nine years ago, when he moved to California. He says he misses it “incredibly” and that his family is still there. Eren goes back there to visit once a year in the summer.

     This summer, his “big trip home to Illinois” is already on the books. He’s going to go for about a month, when his family will have big barbecues, have parties, go boating, go swimming, and small trips, such as to Holiday World in Santa Claus, Indiana, and the Wisconsin Dells.

     A bit further into the future, Eren plans to go into politics. He is trying to become a Senate page and is applying to programs in Springfield, Illinois, and Sacramento, along with the civilian Climate Corps.

     What inspires Eren day-to-day is a quote, made by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, that says: “The only limit to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today. Let us move forward with strong and active faith.” Eren explains, “It lives with me today. I very much live by that quote.”

     To describe himself in a few words, Eren says he is kind, caring, considerate, determined, diligent, optimistic, and…“humble.”

     At the end of the day, Eren’s captivating storytelling and unique personality are evidence that he is truly a great person. No matter what he does in the future, I wish him the best. Needless to say, no matter how much time goes by, Eren has certainly left his mark on Mission Viejo High School, and we are all greatly thankful for his contributions.

A Q&A With Some of Mission Viejo High School’s Retiring Teachers

Mrs. Aldemir:

Q: What are some of the most memorable moments of your teaching career?

A: Field trips to Olvera Street & Old Town San Diego, lunches with friends, teaching things that the kids wouldn’t learn anywhere else. I love the Chicano Movement.

Q: What has been the best part of being a teacher?

A: The kids, for sure.

Q: What advice would you give to new teachers?

A: Find a mentor – you need help at the beginning. Wait until you have tenure, then speak up for things that matter on campus.

Q: What is one thing your students probably don’t know about you?

A: I was born at Camp Pendleton.

Q: What are your plans after leaving Mission?

A: Travel, learn more Turkish, cook more, go to the gym more, Ancestry, and a bunch of other stuff. I’m ready!


Mr. Salgado:

Q: What are some of the most memorable moments of your teaching career?

A: Some of the most memorable moments were watching my students do a scavenger hunt at school using the concepts and principles they learned in class. Also seeing how they did a restaurant presentation in class as they wrote their own menus and scripts for the role-play of a scene at the restaurant in Spanish. Learning and fun can go together! It has also been memorable connecting with students who have immigrated to the US from another country just as I did in my own life; through my life experiences I have been able to motivate and encourage them in their own journeys in a new environment and country and they know I understand the unique challenges they face.

Q: What has been the best part of being a teacher?

A: The best part of being a teacher is watching my students grow and learn Spanish. In addition, they also have a better understanding of the cultural differences between the Hispanic and American culture.

Q: What advice would you give to new teachers?

A: My advice to a new teacher is to find a mentor that is going to guide and support him/her when they feel that things are a bit challenging. It is also very important that they take care of their physical and mental well-being.

Q: What would you consider to be your greatest achievement?

A: One of many greatest achievements is the influence that I had on two of my students that became Spanish teachers too. Along with that is the numerous students who still come back to Mission to check in and update me on their life and their accomplishments and to check how I am doing.

Q: What is one thing your students probably don’t know about you?

A: My students don’t know that for over ten years or so, every two weeks I go to the Red Cross and donate platelets and plasma to help cancer patients. [Another] thing that my students don’t know is that I studied martial arts for 27 years and that I hold a fourth-degree black belt in Kempo karate.

Q: What are your plans after leaving Mission?

A: The plan is to slow down, relax and appreciate the little and big moments in life. I am looking forward to more time with family and friends, riding my motorcycle for long rides, and traveling with my wife!


Ms. Gawel

Q: What are some of the most memorable moments of your teaching career?

A: The fun activities and games, hearing my students using the language, cultural lessons, making crepes, hosting exchange students, taking students to plays, Cirque du Soleil, and French restaurants.

Q: What has been the best part of being a teacher?

A: Influencing and supporting students, making learning fun and interesting.

Q: What advice would you give to new teachers?

A: Find something you like about every student.

Q: What would you consider to be your greatest achievement?

A: Bringing a bit of the Francophone world to every student in my classroom and always being a patient and understanding person to all my students.

Q: What is one thing your students probably don’t know about you?

A: I met many heads of state in my previous career prior to teaching.

Q: What are your plans after leaving Mission?

A: Not setting an alarm! Traveling to Quebec. Skiing – I just bought an unrestricted Ikon Pass.


Ms. Bierbaum

Q: What are some of the most memorable moments of your teaching career?

A: I remember a long time ago when I was sharing with my students my “Rock Rock” philosophy (tackle life’s challenges one step at a time), they informed me that they had started a Facebook page where they listed  many of  my sayings, calling it “Bierbaum’s Rock Rock Philosophies…” Those are the little things that make teaching fun and worthwhile.

Q: What has been the best part of being a teacher?

A: The best part about being a teacher is when I feel that I have made an impact on the lives of my students in a positive way. I have tried to fortify my students in preparation for life so that when they have a dream, they have the confidence to go for it, and the potential to be successful. I try to impart life lessons ( just ask them about all of my stories, lol) and it makes me happy to know that perhaps one day some of my philosophies or wisdoms will help them in some way.

Q: What is one thing your students probably don’t know about you?

A: Something many of my students might not know is that teaching here is my second career, and that before I married and started a family I was a very successful ballerina. I was born in Montreal, trained there, danced with a large ballet company, one of only 3 in all of Canada, and have traveled and danced in many places around the world. I had a roller skating accident and was told it would take me two years to heal. When I was on vacation In California, I met someone, fell in love, and decided to marry and stay in San Clemente, California. There were no large ballet companies here in Orange County, so when my leg healed I met a dance instructor in San Juan Capistrano and he taught me how to teach ballet. I really enjoyed teaching, so I then went on to UCI, and then to Chapman to earn my teacher credential. I earned 3 degrees, so I was able to teach French, English, and also start an ROP Dance program here at Mission in 2003. I also taught ballet, my first passion, in Laguna Beach for 18 years after school.

Q: What are your plans after leaving Mission?

A: After leaving Mission I will be on a plane in 6 days to Canada to see all of my family and attend my niece’s wedding in Toronto. I intend to continue to travel often after that! I love to play golf and never have time to play as much as I like, so after I retire [I] will golf golf golf and go to the beach, read books, hike a lot… I’d like to learn to speak Spanish, so I will start a course soon. I will miss many many of my students here. You are the BEST part of teaching.

The Movie of the Millenium: “Foodfight!”

     “You cold-farted itch,” says Foodfight! protagonist Dex Dogtective, who is a dog and a detective, and also the owner of the Copabanana nightclub (voiced by Charlie Sheen) to Foodfight! antagonist and humanoid prune mascot, Lady X (voiced by Eva Longoria).

      Having been in the works since 2001, the critically acclaimed film Foodfight! was ultimately released in May of 2012. The film was created with a $65 million budget, yet only grossed $73,706 in its box office release. This triumphant, beautifully intrinsic film deserves recognition, even if it was released 12 years ago.

     This highly sophisticated children’s film, written by the tremendously brilliant power group including Joshua Wexler, Lawrence Kasanoff, Rebecca Swanson, Sean Catherine Derek, and Brent v. Friedman provides thoughtful entertainment for the whole family to enjoy. Its thought-provoking takes on society tied fused with the elevated, quippy humor result in this exultantly great Lawrence Kasanoff-directed film.

     Following Sheen’s Dex Dogdective through a supermarket-turned-bustling-city, we get to see the intimate workings of the day-to-day life of our favorite grocery mascots, including the revered Mr. Clean, Charlie Tuna, and Mrs. Butterworth.

     However, the real star of the show is obviously the dapper Dogdective, whose love for the catgirl raisin mascot Sunshine Goodness (voiced by Hilary Duff) cascades into heartbreak with the emergence of the generic (and terrifying) store brand, Brand X.

    Dex Dogdective begins his search for the now-missing, sunny and good Sunshine Goodness, while the town tries to recruit his help to protect them from the ever-looming Brand X.

     Accompanied by his best friend, a chocolate mascot who is also a squirrel who is also a pilot who is also voiced by Wayne Brady, we follow these lovable, realistic characters on an adventure to remember. The audience meets several lovable characters along the way, like chocolate-cereal mascot vampire bat Vlad Chocool (voiced by Larry Miller), shopper Hedda Shopper (voiced by Christine Baranski), and literally just some girl, Sweetcakes (voiced by Haylie Duff).

     Some of this film’s villains, including Mr. Clipboard (a Brand X representative voiced by Christopher Lloyd) and General X (voiced by Jerry Stiller) send shivers down your spine with their terrifyingly realistic outlooks on name brands in grocery stores.

     And how can one be expected to review this masterpiece, without even bringing up the stellar animation? Striking landscapes and backgrounds, excellently realistic motion capture, and of course, the most realistic-looking human(oid) features that I’ve ever seen.

     These characters possess such a deep-felt realness in their eyes… as if they’re staring straight into the very fiber of your being. The completely realistic depictions of the female body, especially in that of Lady X, are worthy of applause. And the intermingling of human, animal, and item characters fit together perfectly in this expertly-solved animation puzzle.

     Like the rest of the film, the soundtrack was unsurprisingly spectacular, as well. The intertwining of thoughtful lyrics and moving instrumentals simply fit perfectly into each and every scene, perfectly conveying both the feelings of the audience and the characters. Some of my favorite songs include “It’s Our World” by Neil Jason and John McCurry, “USDA” by Lawrence Kasanoff, “Tonight’s the Nite” by Neil Jason and J. Davis, and “Wow!” by Good Grief ft. Shanna Crooks.

     Although the film only garnered a 1.3/10 score on IMDb, I was able to comb through the hatred to find other believers of the truth — those who can truly appreciate this film’s genius and rate it an appropriate 10/10 stars.

     Such include CinderFall6’s review describes, “I was born in a wasteland of a society. Nothing made sense, everything was cold. Then, light was brought upon my worthless existence. This light held the name Foodfight!. Finally, my life had meaning.”

     Another being Doubleg-2912331’s review, “Foodfight! giveth, and Foodfight! taketh away.” This review, trimmed to fit the article, perfectly captures the experience of watching Foodfight!: “This film will draw you in, and it will touch you… It made me rethink everything I thought I knew about society, heroism, and morality. This movie is truly a miracle. It cured my cancer, fed my starving children, and brought my grandmother back to life. Larry Kasanoff (the wonderful director of this film) is more than a filmmaker. He is a PROPHET. Mere words cannot express how thankful I am for the existence of his masterpiece.”

     As mysteriouseverlost14 puts it (albeit roughly), “The dynamic between the dog and the squirrel blew my mind… Daredevil Dan went through everything he could to gain cglove from Dex,But Dex couldn’t see tyroi7ugh his façade, His ego too big. And brain too smol The raisins had such a critical and spiritual place in the film,./… Lets not even begin to discuss Mr Clean’s role in this versatile film of drama heartbreak AND ANGYUISH. He act4d like a dirty heathen. what is the point in being called mr clean if yer just gonna love em and leave em. I wont even xplain myself. happy holidays Christmas is my fabourite time oof year(.)”

     And then there’s Luke Abbott for Google Reviews, writing “HOLY WOWWWWWW!!! HOLY MOLYYYY!!! ABSOLUTE MASTAPIS!!! … If I could rate it more stars I could even though I hate the color yellow this movie deserves as many stars as possible… This film has made me rethink the purpose of life. Do I foodfight? Do you foodfight? Do we foodfight?…”

     And, Emmett Taylor’s Google Review: “It got me out of depression. Karen and the kids came back. My dad came back with the milk. Batman’s parents came back to life just to watch this movie.  Joe Biden cried when he saw this movie. This movie has ended all wars of all time.”

     Foodfight! is all these things and more. I kid you not when I tell you that this amazing, awesome, fascinating, flawless, immaculate, impeccable, incredible, jaw-dropping, marvelous, prodigious, shocking, stunning, surprising, unbelievable, wonderful movie brought me to tears.

     So, there you have it folks. From the hilarious sexual innuendos that fly over the heads of children faster than Daredevil Dan can fly in his plane, to the tender romance and sexual tension that tugs on your heartstrings, this overall beautifully woven visual transcendence of a film — nay, an experience — will capture the hearts of all who gift themselves the time to view it.

      Please, I implore you — watch this movie. Drop everything you’re doing and watch Foodfight! as soon as humanly possible. It will change your life, as it has changed the lives of mine and many others.

     From the bottom of my heart, thank you, Foodfight! for the impact you’ve had on the world.


     It was around this time last year that The Diablo Dispatch announced its closing. After 589 years, our well-respected publication feared our final defeat.

     The concern was raised from a slew of problems, starting with the shortage of the Pacific Yew tree (which is used for newspaper paper). However, after two months of hard work put in by our team, the Dispatch team successfully replanted an entire Pacific Yew forest on Catalina Island, resupplying our printing materials for the foreseeable future.

     Unfortunately, we still had concerns about the location of our bustling HQ, after we had to relocate to Trabuco Hills High School due to the location of fossils on our campus. We were eventually able to return to MVHS after we contacted the Smithsonian Museum to collect the fossils.

     However, the biggest issue was with the Dispatch’s lawsuit with a local restaurant we will refer to as “UL Sandwiches.” UL Sandwiches refused to give us the money we were owed from a fundraiser, an amount that totaled exactly $543.23.

     Near April of last year, we hired revered lawyer, Mr. Zides to go up against UL Sandwiches. Zides, wearing his Eminem clothes and carrying a beatbox, started freestyling to save our paper. Unfortunately, the cost of this endeavor was too much to bear, and we had to call it a day on The Diablo Dispatch.

     Or, so we thought.

     After we threatened to expose UL Sandwiches for their act of betrayal, they agreed to pay us the money we were owed in agreement to not publicize the situation (this article probably doesn’t count, though).

     To recover from the remainder of the legal fees, we hired an elite team of SJAs (Specialized Journalism Agents) to obtain more money for our program from the MVHS ASB.

     This increase in funding for journalism allowed us to create the most spectacular issues, garnering attention from major news corporations all over the world for our supreme journalistic work. This resulted in several new partnerships with famous newspapers, boosting our funds to the point of profit for all involved.

     Then, at the beginning of the 2023-2024 school year, the panic of shutting down returned to haunt us once more.

     The first issue was an elusive self-declared “enemy” of The Diablo Dispatch. At this point, the only information we had gathered on this person was on their Twitter profile: “diablodispatch_hater129753996909474208748389.” They claimed to be the owner of a major computer company entitled Softmicro.

     “diablodispatch_hater” had not only called us poopy-heads on all social media platforms, but hacked our journalism computers! We no longer had any access to our editing software, which was a major concern for the December issue that we were working on.

     But alas, we were determined to defeat “diablodispatch_hater” once and for all… for the sake of our publication, for the sake of principle, and most importantly, for the sake of humanity.

     Using the combined force of the extreme intellect in Mr. McCormack’s period 1, we conducted extensive research into our sworn adversary. As it turns out, the true name of “diablodispatch_hater” is actually Timathie Q. Shallamay, whose company, Softmicro, used to have headquarters on Catalina Island.

     As you might recall, this was the same location in which we single-handedly restored the Pacific Yew tree population. The cluster of Pacific Yew trees allegedly brought about an increase in the giant water bug toe-biter bug, which is a large water-dwelling bug that bites toes.

     This caused a great deal of unease for Shallamay’s employees at Softmicro, but due to his lack of evidence for any apparent bug infestation, he took matters into his own hands, leading to all the Twitter comments.

     We (kindly) interrogated Shallamay about his seemingly relentless hate and technological attacks on the Dispatch, and we ultimately came to an agreement.

     Our discussion with Shallamay was diligently recorded with our top-of-the-line technology, and, using this information, we drafted a brutal exposé about the unfair situation that our paper was forced into. The exposé, which has never made it to actual publication, “scared the bejeebus” out of Shallamay, who swore to never harass our paper again if we agreed not to tarnish his self-given reputation. He also agreed to return our access to our classroom computers, which is how we were able to produce this issue for you all.

     The conclusion to all this drama arrived in late February. We thought the coast was clear for the long future of The Diablo Dispatch.

     That is, until our latest problem arrived. Just recently, our anonymous insider informant revealed the school’s plans to electrify the now-completed fence. With adding these new safety precautions, including watch towers, and possibly a moat, the school needed to turn to other sources for money.

     One source? Regrettably, The Diablo Dispatch. The MVHS journalism program actually rakes in a lot of donations because we are just so darn likable. Being such a reliable source of money for Mission Viejo High School, the decision was made to cut our program.

     We are upset about the ending of our program, but are honored to have been selected as one of the programs whose funds will go to keep the students from ditching their classes.

     I speak for the many generations of editors-in-chief before me when I say, thank you… thank you, Mission Viejo High School for 589 fun-filled years of sharing the truth (especially in April). We really appreciate all the support we have received and will have fun working for yearbook instead, perchance.

What would happen if we see a rematch in the 2024 election?

     Millions of people across America are feeling a very specific way; a feeling that can only be expressed as ‘needing a bigger boat.’ Relief from the end of the 2020 election and its effects was brief, and arguably nonexistent. The urge for fair and, much more importantly, new candidates was met with no solution, as Joe Biden and Donald Trump could be–for the second time–the Democratic and Republican candidates of the 2024 election. 

     Democrats and Republicans seem to have never been more different, so much so that finding a common ground in this situation feels easier than gaining balance in a capsizing boat. A very, very capsized boat. 

    But with the insurmountable amount of disagreements between Republicans and Democrats, there is one common goal they must come together to prevent to ensure the overall good of the country. 

    Neither Joe Biden nor Donald Trump should be the final candidate for their party. 

    America is divided, and both politicians are at fault for causing this. Biden and Trump have the lowest approval ratings of any president in the past century, and one of them will be elected again. But there is one thing we can do to prevent this: vote and show your support for other candidates. 

     What America needs is unification and justice, not a fraudulent presidency or unnecessary involvement in a foreign affairs. American values would be made a joke, reduced to nothing more than a mild warning that politicians continuously ignore. A new presidency is an opportunity for change, not a chance to prove which president’s terrible reputation serves less terrible. 

     On one hand, Donald Trump’s reputation speaks for itself. Trump’s outright refusal to accept the facts as they are has led to an unprecedented amount of destruction at the hands of a president. Accusations of election fraud, encouraging terrorist attacks, and four entirely different indictments should speak for themselves as some of the promising dangers of re-electing Donald Trump. 

     On the opposite side of the spectrum of menacing presidents, Joe Biden has not served four years yet, but America has retained several detrimental damages that result in its apparent state of turmoil. Homelessness, poverty, and drug epidemics are reaching unrivaled rates, but (against the wishes of the overall public) Joe Biden sends money to countries involved in wars on the opposite side of the globe. Many Americans–both Republicans and Democrats–are questioning Biden’s integrity, as the overall Democratic consensus is against his re-election, yet he maintains that his victory is necessary for the American people.

     Biden and Trump are becoming caricatures for their political parties, neither of which seems to make a decision that satisfies the majority of their supporters. However, the American election system was not built around flexibility for sudden changes, so a change in both of the number one candidates less than a year before voting starts is unlikely, but knocking out two prior presidents from the election is a feat considered impossible. 

    For as bad as their terms were, for as much damage as they caused, one would think that Biden and Trump would be unquestionably wrong choices for another election, but the election is alarmingly close, and each candidate’s following seems only to grow.

Color Guard Isn’t Just a Sport — It’s a Family.

Color guard is so much more than throwing rifles and flags around. They have practices more than some sports around campus, and they never fail to look incredible on the field or in the gym. Mckenna Smith, a junior, was asked about the practice schedule and she said, “During field season we have practice Tuesday-Friday and during winter season we have practice Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday.” Which might not seem like a lot, but most of those practices are four hours long. It’s a lot to ask considering a lot of them are in difficult classes and have lives outside of this sport. 

     This team is so much more athletic than people think, as Smith stated, “We are actually super athletic and we don’t just ‘flip the guns.’” Marie Tiangco, a sophmore, also described it perfectly when she said, “I think a lot of people think color guard is only just flipping the flag, rifles, and sabers around. And that it’s all light work but really, it takes so much patience, energy, and understanding of handling equipment. Plus, color guard is a combination of many dance genres such as ballet, jazz, gymnastics, and many more, and sometimes applying dances while handling equipment can be challenging.”

     They aren’t just a team; they consider each other to be family, and you can see that through practices and before they go out to compete. Before they compete, they huddle together in a group and hype each other up, and it is the sweetest thing to watch. You can tell they truly are a family and love each other dearly. Smith had described the team dynamic when she said, “I love our team dynamic. Color guard is such a fun group of the funniest people you can find.” And as someone who is friends with most of the color guard, they truly are the funniest and kindest people you’ll ever meet. 

     Color guard truly is so mesmerizing to watch, in practice or on the field. They are some of the most talented people I know. They work so incredibly hard to look good out on the field or in the gym, and it can be exhausting. With learning two shows each year, adding up to eight shows in four years, that they can do during their time at Mission.

     There is bound to be a favorite. Tiango said, ”Star-Crossed Lovers, our recent field show, is my favorite show that I’ve done so far because the choreography was more challenging for me and I loved it. I really love the music in the show too and how we execute the musicality into our choreography from the soft romantic parts to chaos and tragedy throughout the show. I liked the show theme as well as watching the band waltz on the field during the show.” Smith also said her favorite show was Star-Crossed Lovers. 

     Star-Crossed Lovers was the 2023 marching band and color guard show based on the tragic Shakespeare play “Romeo and Juliet.” It shows how the two fall in love, and how they are then are faced with tragedy and heartbreak at the end of the show. The music along with the choreography from color guard matched it perfectly and it was beautiful to watch and be a part of. 

     Overall color guard is so beautiful to watch on the field, as well as how they are as a team when no one else is around. They act like family and have the kindest hearts. They are truly talented people and they love performing and working together as a team. Even if it sometimes gets tough, they are always there for one another. They are much more than just a team that throws flags and rifles around, they are each other’s second family. 

Valentine’s Day: What is so good about it anyway!?


Valentine’s Day is celebrated by 57% of people of all ages across the nation. The day is about lovey-dovey couples, sweet things for your loved ones, confessions, etc. Valentine’s Day is celebrated on the 14th of February. While this day has many different origins, not all are so sweet.

     Valentine’s Day was first celebrated around the 14th century. Though there are many different stories in the history of Valentine’s Day, one includes the imprisonment of Saint Valentine. Saint Valentine was known for performing weddings for Christian soldiers forbidden to marry by the Roman Emperor Claudius II. In the legend, there are some depictions where Saint Valentine healed the jailer’s blind daughter. Though it is not clearly said people believe he and the jailer’s daughter were in love. Before he was executed he wrote the jailer’s daughter a letter signed with “Your Valentine ” as a goodbye.

     Of course, the way St. Valentine’s life ended could be seen as romantic—a final goodbye to the one he loved in a heartfelt letter. It could also seem a bit morbid to have a lovey-dovey-based holiday with an origin of St. Valentine’s tragic tale.

     While on the topic of St. Valentine’s sad origin, Valentine’s Day has emphasized the loneliness some people feel, resulting in depression rates increasing. Valentine’s Day is a tough holiday for people who have experienced heartbreak. It is a day about love and happiness, but also a day that may highlight people’s lonesomeness.

     Also, Valentine’s Day is often displayed as a holiday where you spend large amounts of money on your loved one. Whether for an expensive gift or a fancy night out, Valentine’s Day can pressure people into spending immense amounts of money.

     Speaking of a fancy night out, what do people expect during Valentine’s Day? Many couples have high expectations for the day celebrating lovebirds. Some significant others can not always reach these excessive expectations. This can lead to disappointment and a faulty relationship. 

     People do not always need to focus on Valentine’s Day, especially single people. They can mope and cry, but there are definitely better things to that! Instead of being sad and lonely, focus on the people around, friends, and family. A Galentine’s Day is a perfect substitute for Valentine’s Day! Or a Malentine’s Day, according to Google. A Galentine’s Day is a day you can spend with your friends instead of a lover, basically a date with your friends. 

     There are many ways to spend Galentine’s Day, and here are some examples. Brunch and dinner dates are your go-tos for a tasty meal with your friends. Spa days, karaoke, and photo shoots are the perfect way to let loose and have fun with your girlfriends!

     Don’t think Malentine’s Day was forgotten! Some activities for guys to try out include game night, hiking, and cooking. Game nights with friends can improve communication skills and help with team building. Hiking is a great way to connect with nature and get fresh air. Some people say cooking is an art form. Cooking is a life skill and a great way to practice money management.

     All in all, Valentine’s Day has its cons. Everyone is open to celebrating the holiday however they please, whether it is spending time with a lover or friend!

Black History Month; Our American Story

The story of Black History Month begins in the early 1900s, about forty years after the US abolition of slavery in 1865.

President Gerald Ford officially established Black History Month in February of 1976. He noted how we, as a nation, must “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history,” which he established in response to historian Carter G. Woodson’s attempt to eliminate the silence regarding Black achievement (NAACP editors article “Carter G. Woodson”).

To counter common racist misconceptions and stereotypes, Woodsen made it a necessary goal to take action and find a way to emphasize the accomplishments and obstacles overcome by the Black community over many centuries (Amaris Encinas article “Black History Month is not a token” USA Today). Especially at a time of continuous segregation, tension, and racism, education about Black American history was scarce in the nineteenth century and the early 1900s.

Woodson envisioned a weeklong celebration to introduce the teaching of Black history in public schools. He dedicated the second week of February as Black History Week and brought awareness to other historians. This week of celebrating the US Black community is what eventually evolved into the month-long celebration in February we know today.

Not only that, but Black History Month consists of a new theme every year announced by each president. This year’s 2024 theme is “African Americans and the Arts,” which features the artistic influences of Black heritage and their cultural expression.

Here in Orange County, there are many events to attend in celebration of Black History Month. The Orange Country Heritage Council (OCHC) is an organization led mostly by community volunteers that are dedicated to implementing fun events and activities for families with focus on the Black community. One of the biggest events they are known for hosting is their annual parade named “Orange County Black History Parade and Unity Festival.”

This year, the parade was held on February 3rd in Anaheim, CA where dances, performances, music, and food were offered to value Black culture. Other events that take place include another festival in Los Angeles on February 18th, and a meet-up event at Disneyland on February 17th.

Art museums including the Black History Month Community Gallery, Heroes Hall Museum, Santa Ana Heritage Museum, and more will be highlighting significant artwork and films created by Black artists. Local libraries also offer Black history talks, storytimes, and crafting activities for younger kids as well. These events inspire others to come together and bring communities closer.

To get a better perspective on the topic, I decided to ask two of my close friends who also live in Orange County what Black History Month means to them.

First, I asked my best friend Nicole, who is a freshman and a member of the Black community herself. She explained to me that, “Black History Month is a time dedicated to remind others that the Black race is just as equal and important to society as any other.” I felt that her response was refreshing to hear, since that is what this month is all about: justice and equal opportunities.

Next, I asked my other close friend Veronica, a sophomore, her thoughts on my question. She asserted that “Black History Month is a month dedicated to all Americans to appreciate what Black people overcame in order to gain a respectable and equal place in society,” which gave another great point of view on the topic.

Then, I chose to ask them if they know why February was chosen for Black History Month. Neither knew the answer, but both were interested in knowing that Carter G. Woodson dedicated the month to two great Americans that played crucial roles in Black history – Abraham Lincoln and Fredrick Douglas – who both had their birthdays in February.

To participate, I plan on attending the Black History Month meet-up at Disneyland with both Veronica and Nicole on February 17th, which takes place during the same time of the “Celebrate Soulfully” event that is also held there. Attendees enjoy both the thrills of the park, a theater show spotlighting African-American traditional music, and wear purple in support of the Black community.

Black History Month ultimately honors all those of African American ancestry and speaks to the US and the world that unity is more powerful than discrimination and racism, and that rememberance of Black history is crucial in understanding how our society is shaped today.