Pep Reaches Finals

On Feb. 25 pep squad will be at San Marcos for their final competition.


“It’s nerve racking because finals is close by,” freshman Jasmine Garcia said. “It’s really important to all of us.” 

For some of pep dancers this will be their first time going to competition.

“I have never gone to competition before but I think it will be fun to see and meet other pep dancers,” freshman Ana Ferrante said.

The dancers express their love for dancing and build new friendships and grow as a successful team.

“The best feeling is being with all the girls and just doing what we all love,” Garcia said. 

Some pep squad members have been doing this for a while that they have a special connection with one another.

“The best feeling of being in pep is knowing that you will have a family that you will continue to grow with,” Co-captain London Bridge said.

The love for dance to join in.

I joined dance because my mom was a dancer and I want to follow in her footsteps,” Ferrante said.

To be in finals pep has to give their best performance to the judges to show what they can do also show they all worked hard for what they love to do.

“Our goal for competition is to get the dance perfect and to win 1st place,” Garcia said.

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JROTC Up For The Challenge


JROTC participating in one of their events. Photo by Trevor Rogers

JROTC members take on the Urban Raider challenge Dec. 2-3, the event will be held at Camp Bullis, consisting of five major events: 5k run, an obstacle course, rope bridge, cross country rescue and an event called the gauntlet.

“This is definitely one of our biggest competitions, it’s very intense and physically demanding,” Raider commander and company commander  Trevor Rodgers said. “I feel very comfortable with my team we all work together perfectly and there aren’t very many flaws.”

The team’s expectation is to perform the best of their ability, they know what they’re going in for and have a clear mindset on achieving the challenge.

“Raider is gaining more popularity through JROTC and it’s a fun way to collaborate with many other schools including various Army groups,” Rodgers said.

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Jump For Pop Show

Acutely group singing by Hope Herrera

Acapella group singing by Hope Herrera

Performing popular songs, “Pop Show” was presented by the PFC on Nov.17.

“My favorite performance was Be Still by PFC because it shows so much emotion about when someone has passed and that they are still comforting you,” senior James Syler said.

Having people singing in different pitches and adding new rhythm to a song is how they wanted to show their love for singing.

“We also filmed our performance from Pop Show for a competition that we are in,” Syler said.

Being able to be in competition and share their talent with other people is something that they take very seriously and enjoy every second of it.

“I think Pop Show went very well, we executed everything we were wanting to do and we enjoyed singing for everyone,” Syler said.

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Band Strives for the Top

The marching band placed 1st in their division and 8th overall at finals on Saturday, Oct. 15.

“It’s the first time that MacArthur has been included in the “finals” event,” band director Mr. Evan Berry said. “I certainly think it validates a lot of the stuff that we’ve been doing this season.”

The band at after school rehearsal. Photo By: Trinity Arias

The band at after school rehearsal. Photo By: Trinity Arias

Everyone felt a sense of accomplishment and excitement the day of competition. The show was the best performance yet.

“I am super super proud of this band,” drum major Bethany Lockett said. “I’ve seen a lot of people work really hard and I think that people’s dedication showed this weekend.”

Although the band presented the audience with a great show there is still room for improvements and practice.

“Even after the best show of the year,” drum major Michaela Pugh said. “There is always something we can fix and do better for next time.”

According to band members, the most important thing to remember is that when everyone puts in the effort and has initiative then everything will be a lot more proficient.

“I think the lesson is that and when everyone puts all the work together good things are gonna happen,” Mr. Berry said. “Whether that means you make first place or making it off of the field, you’re just feeling very accomplished.”

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Orchestra UIL

Violin section of the Orchestra perform in a December concert.  Photo by: Amparo Gil

Violin section of the Orchestra perform in a December concert.
Photo by: Amparo Gil

The school’s orchestra will showcase their dexterity in front of three judges, seeing how it compares to other schools in the district by participating in a UIL competition on Tuesday, March 3 at Madison High School.

“It’s not just about feeling prepared and its a little easier when you’re playing as an orchestra because you have many people there to back you up.” junior Chelsea Theriot Said. “But it still gets on your nerves because you know that people will be watching for your mistakes.”

The event is held after school, but before the students pack their things and head to Madison High School, they will practice with their instruments through out the day and skip the last three periods to prepare themselves for UIL.

“I think that UIL has played a part in my life in that it pushes me further to try harder in my ability to play violin,” senior Jordan Foster said. “As well as play as a fun part in my life.”

By the time they are seniors, most members have had orchestra in their lives for at least 6 years.

“This year [is] my last year ever competing in UIL.” senior Marissa Vargas said. “I’m hoping we can make sweepstakes this year like we do every year because it’ll be a good way to end the year on a high note.”

The concert will begin at 4:40 p.m. and the sight reading portion will begin at 5:05 p.m.

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Colorguard gets first

By: India

Rifle team member performing at half time show during football season.                                                                   Photo by: India Nikotich

The sound of flags twisting in the air could be heard Sat. Jan. 31, and the color guard competed against other schools from the area in one of their first competitions of the season. The guard placed first with a score of 62.230, over 7 points higher than the second place team.

“The girls did phenomenal this weekend,” senior Stephanie Langford said. ” They all got into performance mode and rocked their show.”

The routine the girls did this year is more of a personal routine than others they have done in the past. They perform to Eminem’s song Lose Yourself.

“[It’s] about losing yourself in the moment,” sophomore Rachel Junau-Zimmerman said. “We are putting ourselves out there and doing what you can.”

While the results show the team as being the best at the competition, those who performed believe there is room for improvement in preparation for their next events.

“Overall as a performance, it was ok,” senior Adriana Gonzalez said. “It wasn’t as good as it should have been, but it was [decent].”

Tougher competitions are ahead for the group, competing against schools from all over the area. The dynamic of the group is what is key in how the upcoming events will turn out.

“The team is very strong,” Langford said. “[They keep] pushing each other to do their best.’


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Band All-State Competition

Band members, including Dominic Dipa Photo by: Robert Arbuckle

Band members, including Dominic Dipasquale, perform at a football game.
Photo by: Robert Arbuckle

Heart rates accelerate as the time to audition draws closer, the tension rises and hands slightly shake, sweat beading at the forehead. To be nervous is common, the idea that every note counts and every moment that passes will bring someone closer to the win, or to face defeat. It is a terror to know that someone will judge your movements as you remember how to breath, but that doesn’t stop Dominic Dipasquale or Harper Paparelli.

“All-State Competition is everybody in their assigned areas are competing against each other,” Dipasquale said. “There will be a total of ten alto saxophones competing and they only accept two.”

With seven years of experience playing the alto saxophone, Dipasquale tries his best in hopes of winning the competition this year.

“[I’ve practiced] hours and hours and hours. I honestly don’t know how many, I’ve lost count,” Dipasquale said.

The dedication to the music starts in June, when competitors are given the scores as summer begins.

“It means a lot,” Dipasquale said. “I mean I’ve been practicing so much and I’ve been wanting to get into state since my freshman year. I’m going to try and do my best, and hopefully I’ll make it in.”

The competition is Sat. Jan. 10 at the University of Texas at Austin.

“In the state of Texas [the competition is] actually harder than any other state,” Paparelli said. “The area we live in [is] more [competitive] between schools like Johnson, Reagan, and Churchill.”

Paparelli is auditioning with her clarinet, and is on the third and final round.

“The whole point of [the competition] is to kind of see how each person can be really good at three pieces of music, [pieces that are] lyrical to more technical [pieces],” Paparelli said. “It’s been really hard, but it’s to see who’s the best of the best.”

After months of preparing for the competition, both Paparelli and Dipasquale will finally audition for their place in the state.

“I’ve kinda already accomplished what I wanted to because I really got serious about this last year and I kinda fell back a little bit,” Paparelli said. “I missed the cut by one or two chairs to get to the final round and I’ve realized that I’m a better player than [that] so I’ve already accomplished [what I wanted] and gotten farther.”

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Singing for it all

Photo by: Cassandra Chapa

Chris Hale singing at the Christmas concert with his fellow choir members.        Photo by: Cassandra Chapa


Everyone wants to leave high school with a bang, something so memorable that they can look back for years to come and recall what it felt like. For some, this bang is something as simple as just graduating with their friends, while others strive for more.

Senior Chris Hale has been working hard for four years in hopes of making it to the All-State choir, and his efforts are paying off. He has made it to the third and final round of competition, before those lucky few are chosen to be a part of this prestigious group.

“This is actually my first time making it this far,” Hale said. ” I’ve never made it out of the first round [before].”

Being that this is his last year to get this opportunity, Hale is feeling overwhelming amounts of pressure.

“Its really nerve wracking knowing that this is my last shot,” Hale said. “But my goal is just [to] go in there and make good music for the judges.”

This positive outlook is not the only thing that is motivating Hale to keep his head up and not focus on nerves.

“My family, friends, and basically all [of] Mac Choir are excited for me,” Hale said. “I’ve received so many ‘good lucks’ and [we’re] so proud of you’s.”

This achievement did not come as a stroke of luck, however. It has taken time on Hale’s part to focus on practicing when there is so many other things going on in his life.

“I practice whenever I have a chance,” Hale said. “Being a member of four choirs and having AP classes, [on top of] having a job makes [practicing] hard. I do what I can and try to schedule voice lessons where I can.”

All this preparation will come into play at Hale’s final competition performance this Sat. Jan. 10, where he will hope to land one of the four available spots in either the mixed choir, or the all male choir.

“When I perform, I try to let go of worrying about messing up and focus more on making the audience enjoy what I offer,” Hale said. “I have to trust in the work I’ve put into the music and myself as a musician to deliver a good performance.”

No matter the outcome of this competition, music is in the future Hale has planned for himself.

“In the future I want to attend Wartburg College where I want to pursue a double major in Music Therapy and Music Education,” Hale said. “I’d like to teach and [would] also like to help special [needs] children [through] music.”

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Defending the nation with a mouse

The click-clacking of keys echo around the room as each student sits at their individual table. Various piles of junk food lay scattered around the room, stealing their attention for a second as they shove spoonfuls of chicken dip in their mouth then return to diagnosing their electronic patient. Meanwhile, their peers sit in class, twiddling their thumbs or doodling on the side of their notes, studying the formulas before them. They complete their analysis essays as their ROTC counterparts defend their assigned servers from vindictive hackers. Code scrolls up the computer, alerts pop up around the screen as their fingers flash from key to key, hoping to outperform their rivals from other NEISD schools and show off the self-taught skills they’ve perfected.

Throughout the months of Nov. and Dec., the Cyber Patriots, a team dedicated to refining their protection skills against hackers and debuting those skills in contest, have competed in the ROTC building while their classmates went to their regularly scheduled classes.

Senior Nathaniel Johnston finishes the competition  and starts to shut down his computer. Photo by Kayla Gunn.

Senior Nathaniel Johnston finishes the competition and starts to shut down his computer. Photo by Kayla Gunn.

“[Cyber security] is definitely the thing to be learning right now,” Cadet Command Sergeant Major of the ROTC Battalion senior Nathaniel Johnston said. “Not saying ‘I’m on the cutting edge of the newest technology craze’, but I think it is something important that if people have an interest in [technology, they] should definitely pursue [it].”

Johnston joined the group when he was a freshman, making this his fourth year on the team.

“My freshman year was the first year this JROTC did Cyber Patriots, so I was one of the [only] freshmen on the team,” Johnston said. 

For Johnston, this experience has influenced his career choices and future major.

“When I do attend A&M I’m going to be majoring in computer science, and then hopefully I’m going to contract with the Air Force to be a network analyst,” Johnston said. “At the beginning of my high school career, when I was a freshman, I wanted to be a JSF pilot in the Marine Core. Slowly, this really became more enticing to me, and it changed my career decision.”

Battalion and Drill Commander senior Nick Phillips, second out of the three members of the Cyber Patriots Nationals team, joined his sophomore year.

“I went to lunch for a while, but it was boring and I didn’t have too much to do then,” Phillips said. ” I started messing with computers and playing games on them.”

Johnston then informed Phillips about the team, leading him to begin his journey in cyber security.

Senior Nathaniel Johnston scrolling through code. Photo by Kayla Gunn.

Senior Nathaniel Johnston scrolling through code. Photo by Kayla Gunn.

“I joined at the very end of the year,” Phillips said. “The season was pretty much over. So they taught me how to count in base two, how to change base, stuff like that.”

Phillips started competing his junior year, eventually becoming as enticed as Johnston by the field. He plans to attend A&M after graduating highschool.

“The major I signed up for is the computer engineering major, and while it’s relevant to [Cyber Patriots] it’s more designing computers,” Phillips said. “So, I’ll probably end up changing it. I’m hoping to go into the cyber warfare division of the Air Force once I’m out of college. That’d be neat.”

The experience and knowledge gained from Cyber Patriots not only sends the two seniors on the Nationals team to pursue cyber security, it also captured senior Taylor Beesinger’s career interest.

“I used to think I wanted to major in theatre,” member of the JV Cyber Patriot team Beesinger said. “I’ve always been interested in computers, and I was going to go for [cyber protection] as my minor, but then I decided I didn’t want to do theatre.”

Beesinger, instead, has been accepted to Embry-Riddle in AZ, and will major in cyber security and intelligence through a degree plan built by the FBI. After college, he wants to work for either the CIA or the FBI.

“I’d love to protect my country,” Beesinger said. “I love America, and I’d greatly die for it. [So] I feel like I’m accomplishing something by protecting the people.”

The patriotism of these seniors, along with their team mates, is what will be carrying them to the Platinum Tier Semifinals Round to be held Jan. 16 through the 18. Following the Semifinals round, the top teams in the Open and All Service Divisions’ Platinum Tier will advance to the CyberPatriot VII Finals Competition, held in Washington, D.C.

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Marching to competition

Photo by: Ginny Houston

Photo by: Ginny Houston

Football games are not the only time marching band puts on their uniforms, uniforms also come off the hangers for competitions. Competition season starts with the Vista Ridge Marching Contest coming up this Sat., Oct. 4, with band walking on the field at 4 p.m. Band members are looking forward to performing their new show among schools like Johnson and Clark in New Braunfels.

“[I am] really excited,” freshman Sofia Ostrowski said. “[We are] small, but we sound good.”

The band has not competed in this show since 2012, but they will be entering this year with a new show and high hopes.

“[The new show] is called Cosmic Proportions, so it’s about space,” senior Nicole Vaynberg said. “[Our strong points this year] are color guard, trumpet solos, and the percussion section.”

The buses will transport students to the competition at 2:30 p.m., where they will strive to win first out of the schools attending. Results will be received Mon., Oct. 6.


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