- Sun Star's Athlete of the Week: Natalie Collins
- Smiley Riley
- 2018 ECHS Homecoming
- El Capitan Gaucho vs. Atwater High School Homecoming Football Game
- 2018 Food Fair by Naomi Parra
- Gifts and Gratitude Galore: El Capitan’s Winter Wish Rally 2018
- Standards Set High: Gauchos Wrestling 2018-2019
Overjoyed from being selected on being a nominee for the Sun Star’s athlete of the week, is Natalie Collins. She believes all of her teammates are worthy for athlete of the week, and her nomination was the representation of the El Capitan’s outstanding girls volleyball team.
Natalie Collins is one of the many Gauchos we are proud of. She is very involved in both the community and El Capitán with school site council, youth group, Link Crew, as and coaching little league volleyball. As a Gaucho, she shows exemplary leadership skills by being an integral part of the Leadership class, School Site Council, and Student Body.
Natalie is very passionate about volleyball and has been playing since 5th grade. Natalie loves being part of a team that includes everyone. It helps her build team bonding skills. When Natalie was asked what is the most challenging part of volleyball, she responded with, “The mental aspect of the game, because you can make personal mistakes that affect the team as a whole. On the volleyball team we are all one family, and your family accepts and loves you regardless of your mistakes”. She believes that because of playing volleyball, she has made lifelong friendships and it has formed the outstanding Gaucho that upholds the gaucho values of “lead, love, and leave a legacy”.
Natalie was recognized 1st team all league at the end of the season. Congratulations!
The morning of September 24th, many lives, especially the students and staff at El Capitan, were changed forever. Eyes veiled in despair could be seen all across campus as El Capitan and the city of Merced learned the devastating news that spread through every classroom; Riley Hanson, a beautiful joyous senior, one of El Cap’s very own, had passed away in a car accident only the day before. Grief for Riley immediately altered the entire school and community, but in the midst of mourning what was so greatly lost, many came together to celebrate the life tragically taken away too soon, and build a deeper connection with those closest to them.
As the disastrous news on Monday spread, many students immediately began to take action, posting photos of Riley on social media platforms, and spreading awareness to wear yellow, Riley’s favorite color, on Tuesday to convey support. To grieve, some wrote poems, drew pictures, or visited grief counselors to talk about their favorite memories of the girl who touched so many hearts in her lifetime. Pete Garcia, a junior at El Cap and friend of Riley’s from Drama Club, explained, “Everyone had the same honor and respect for Riley. She was always a happy person, no matter how you were feeling, she would always just smile and it would make your day a whole lot better.” Many students and family members of Riley spread the image of her glowing smile, which came to bunk its own hashtag, “SmileyRiley.” Pete continued with her positive attitude, “I don't think I’ve ever seen her upset or mad about anything and even if she was, she would brush it off immediately. She just wanted to be happy [so] that’s how she was.”
The following day, support could be seen from all over the campus of El Capitan and even into the campus of Merced High. Yellow flowed out of every classroom and students were heard saying “I’m going to wear yellow every day.” The amount of support was massive and everyone seemed to start to come together towards the same cause. When the morning intercom rang out, Mr. Shaw announced, “[Riley] was an amazing person and loved everything about El Capitan.” He then requested a moment of silence in her honor. The sound of a pin drop could be heard for the moment given Tuesday morning. Even after the announcements turned off, classes that would normally be loud and chatty, grew ever so quiet for the loss of a loved one. By lunchtime, a long sign, made by the band and color guard became a centerpoint of the school standing in front of the theater with the words “We love you Riley” spread across it. In between this message, students covered the yellow poster paper with messages to Riley and words or drawings of love in remembrance of her.
But, Tuesday was only the beginning of the support El Capitan showed in the midst of mourning. Wednesday morning, El Cap held their annual group prayer at the flagpole in the front of the building, where a huge gathering of students showed up at 7:30 to express their condolences towards Riley’s death. Mr. Petty, an AVID teacher and wrestling coach spoke about her incessant joyfulness, as well as Evan Myrtue, a senior and varsity football player. A few others spoke as students and staff bowed their heads or closed their eyes in prayer for Riley and her family all the way up until the bell rang.
As Wednesday came to a close and Thursday came around, many started to look to the brighter side of Riley’s memory, celebrating her life as well as grieving her death. The candlelight vigil created an intimate setting on Wednesday evening, as a huge crowd of students, parents, staff, and family gathered in front of Riley’s families home with their candles. Once everyone had joined, many began to light their candles. If one did not have a match with them, strangers came together to share their matches or candles in order to light up the street. Some of Riley’s sisters introduced themselves and then proceeded to sing songs and encouraged everyone to join in. The harmonies of the crowd started out shaky, but proceeded to grow stronger as many grabbed one another and sang for the girl they so desperately missed. Color Guard performed an elegant dance to the song “Yellow” by Coldplay in Riley’s honor, as they had known her so well from performances and hard work. Isabella Segara, a junior at El Cap, color guard team member, and longtime friend of Riley’s described her during intensive color guard practices, “She would always smile, wipe the sweat off her forehead and keep going.” Unfortunately the group at the vigil could not finish their dance due to their strong emotions, but after a moment of sadness, triumph burst through as the team gathered in a circle, clung to each other, and chanted out Riley’s name in unison. Next, one by one, close friends of Riley’s came to the front to greet the parents and hand them flowers and other gifts. As the crowd began to decrease in size, choir proceeded with a few more songs such as “Hallelujah” and everyone shared tears, hugs, and stories in remembrance of Riley. Emerald Coronado, a junior, told about one of the first times she became acquainted with Riley. Emerald described crying in the hallways, the reason she could not remember, but she did vividly recall Riley plopping down right next to her, and simply asking with her kindhearted voice, “What are we crying about today?” From that day on, Emerald explained her and Riley only grew closer for Riley had the strong ability to bring love through humor, laughter, and her smile. Crying at the vigil was frequent, but so was an immediate hug in response, for the love that they held for Riley was contagious.
The Friday night football game was the final and biggest gesture of the week to honor all memories each person held dear to their heart. After the warmups from the varsity football players, members of band, colorguard, and family began to walk onto the field decorated in yellow and create a large curve, with the choir standing in the middle. Almost everyone held a yellow balloon and waited patiently as the announcer gave information about Riley’s presence and life. When everyone was settled, the crowd turned dead silent as Katy Escobar, one of Riley’s sisters, introduced herself and the song the choir would be singing in her honor. Emotions flew high as Katy and the rest of the choir sang in angelic tones. After the song, Katy proceeded to sing the national anthem beautifully, which was followed by a completely silent release of the yellow balloons into the night. The stands, drenched in yellow, showed their support, by hugging, crying, or silently watching the cloud of yellow being whisked away into the sky.
Riley Hanson is a girl who will never be forgotten. As Mr. Petty said in his morning prayer, “Riley inhabited a lot of love.” She spread joy to those around her and could never be seen with a glum face or idle expression. Riley was always known for her graceful color guard performances, cheesy puns, and continuous dance moves. But most of all, Riley had a gorgeous smile and golden heart that matched her love for the world and the people in it. El Capitan and the community of Merced reflected on Riley’s energy, which created a continuance of the joy spread. Riley’s death was a tremendous loss, but through this mourning, it taught an important lesson for every person within her wake to cherish: no matter one’s age, grade, race, religion, social status, or culture, love can and always will conquer sadness in times of trouble. Love always wins.
Friday September 14th was our Homecoming game! A time where students celebrate school spirit and come together to elect their classmates for homecoming court. This years homecoming nominees are very involved and were eager to share about why school spirit is important and how to get involved.
Mario Lopez, a nominee for our Homecoming Court, when asked why he ran for homecoming court replied, “I ran for Homecoming Count to show that popularity doesn’t matter. You don’t have to have all these fancy posters. My campaign started with a dumb idea, some crayola markers and a piece of poster board paper from the Library.”
Margaret Ruiz, another homecoming court nominee, stated she ran for Homecoming Duchess because “It’s good to try and get out of your comfort zone and show your potential to others.” Instead of being shy and quiet, why not show who you really are?
Jaden Micheal, a nominee for Homecoming King, who is very outspoken. He believes that the school needs more spirit. He said, “We have been accustomed to losing in football. If we had more school spirit and a better attitude, we would perform better. You always hear people saying ‘Our football team sucks’ or ‘We’re gonna lose today’ but if we had more school spirit and cheered them on, the name El Capitan would have power behind it.”
Most of the nominees think that students should join more clubs. One nominee for Homecoming Queen, Pamela Rios says to “Get every student involved in a club or sport. It makes fun high school memories.”
Now is the time to announce our Homecoming 2018 winners! Our Freshman Count and Countess are Derrick Harris and Alicea Villa! The Sophomore Duke and Duchess are Joshua Falkenstein and Lilian Eagle! Our Junior Prince and Princess are Christopher Cuttone and Angelina Giron! Now for the long awaited Homecoming King and Queen. As the nominees walked down the field, the stands were filled with anticipation. Finally, the names were called. “Our Homecoming King and Queen of the 2018 are… Ronald Harris and Shaylah Neely!”
Congratulations to all the homecoming winners! Go Gauchos!
September 14th marked El Capitan's Homecoming football game against Atwater High; The weather was on the colder side and made for the perfect atmosphere. While the Gauchos prepared in the tunnel, the crowd waited in anticipation with bated breath. The national anthem played over the speakers, and the players remembered to do their best no matter what the outcome of the game ended up being. When the song finished cheers erupted from the crowd as they anticipate for the kickoff to happen.
The clock started ticking when the ball was kicked into the air, and the game officially began. With the weight of winning this game hanging on their shoulders, the players we’re justifiably nervous, but they knew that they needed to work hard if they wanted any chance of doing their best.
In the first play of the game, the Gauchos pushed down the field with some run plays known as Arizona & Cardinal. Three plays down and the Gauchos reached the Falcon’s 37 yard line. With 8 minutes on the clock left, the crowd was roaring. The ball was hiked and the chosen play a pass play called Ducks 2, is put into action. Everyone watched the ball fly through the air while the receiver and safety fought for possession of the ball. “GAUCHO TOUCHDOWN!!!” announced Mr. Bogard enthusiastically. The home crowd went crazy building up ecstatic energy that changed the feeling of every person in the stadium. Gaucho players were relieved and proud having the first touchdown, as it kept the Falcons from gaining too much confidence.
Second Quarter arrived quickly, and the whole 12 minutes was a build up of points whilst Atwater crept closer to the Gauchos lead.
Third Quarter showed the team was getting tired, most of the opposing players recognized that El Cap had fewer players and started using that to their advantage. The score at the end of 3rd quarter was 28 to 32 in Atwater’s favor.
4th quarter began and these last 12 minutes were ever so crucial to the Gauchos. They needed to make 2 more touchdowns and hold Atwater down to prevent them from scoring anymore. The Gauchos played close and made sure every man could be seen but tiredness spread upon the Gauchos while Atwater played safe with fresh players. Atwater held the ball. They attempt pass it for another huge yard gain, but an interception happened. The crowd roared once more and Ethan Mesa ran for a long one until he makes it in the end zone for a Gaucho touchdown.The score becomes tied, 32 to 32, with less than 10 minutes on the clock. At this point, 7 to 8 minutes were on the clock, but the ball was in Atwater’s possession. Slowly, Atwater reached the end zone on a reverse.
Atwater fans yelled with excitement while Gaucho fans remained silent, with 3 minutes left on the clock. The gauchos gave it their all but there was little time & energy left in the game. Everyone knew the game was at an end.
When the game was over all the players gave each other a hand shake and were reassured by their families, friends, or significant others. It is these moments what the sport is really about: love, passion, dedication and hard work. The sport alone can bring people together. It shows us that we are all Americans and we should cherish these beautiful moments we have together. At the end of the game, even with the knowledge of Gauchos coming up short, fans knew they put up a marvelous show which everyone appreciated.
Bites, stress, and socializing, oh my!
The Food Fair this quarter (September 28th, 2018) was pretty alarming. . .-ly successful! Just like our student population, people were able to get a large diversity in food this day. Not only was everyone able to purchase food and enjoy it; they were also allowed to interact with peers and connect through the beauty of music.
Scoping around the El Capitan campus, I was able to come along some people who were eager to share their experience. Here's what they had to say!
Gaucho Gazette: “How stressful was it to set up food fair (did you experience any setbacks)?”
Mr. Derek Price, Activities Director: “The first time I did a food fair it was extremely stressful. I hardly slept the night before! But it isn't so bad now. We have developed a good system and the Leadership students have really done a great job fine-tuning the process. This first food fair went really smoothly and I am very proud of our Leadership team.”
GG: “How did you participate in food fair (e.g. running a booth, buying items)?”
Ivanna Guzman (Class of 2019): “I participated by running my GSA club booth, and buying food from other clubs.”
GG: “Overall, how was your food fair experience? :)”
Tessa Gonsalves (Class of 2020): “I liked the food fair, there was a lot to choose from and the prices weren't too bad. It was a nice change compared to everyday cafeteria food.”
GG: “What was your favorite meal from a club (whether you bought it or wanted it)?”
Valeria Valdez (Class of 2021): “There were many many many good options for food which I love because there are many different kinds of food choices, my personal favorite food was probably panda express.”
GG: “Overall, how was your first food fair? :)”
Isabelle Au (Class of 2022): “My first food fair was fun and chill.”
GG: “How did you participate in food fair (e.g. running a booth, buying items)?”
Ms. Megan Besecker, Math Department and Softball Coach: “I participated in this food fair by buying delicious food. I usually run a booth for both Class of 2019 and Softball, but this time I enjoyed the environment of the food fair and it was worth it!”
GG: “Is there anything that you would want to change about the Food Fair?”
Mr. Robert Waterman, Chemistry Department: “I wish the schedule was regular schedule, and the Food Fair was an hour long.”
The Winter Wish Rally at El Capitan on Friday, December 14th, was definitely not one to forget! With surprises around every corner and faces full of gratefulness, the rally put everyone in the holiday mood. Gifts ranging from dinners and massages to cameras and puppies, El Capitan didn’t waste any time letting many know that they are appreciated by their loved ones, friends, and staff.
To start off the rally, Santa bounded out, along with a mischievous looking Grinch. Gifts were shot into the crowd with little cannons as everyone cheered and clapped for their chance at receiving a little box from El Cap’s Santa. Aliyah Moreno, a junior, anticipated this, as she explained she expected shirts to be thrown out, but not presents, which added a nice touch for the rally. Once the crowd was hyped, the video of gift-giving shown from earlier in the week was displayed. Small groups cheered as they watched their friends receive their winter wish on the big screen and smiles spread from the video to the audience in the spirit of giving.
After the video was shown, it was time for the real gift-giving to begin. Numerous presents were handed out with the explanation for the wish read aloud. A brother gave his sister a yearbook so she could “cherish her high school memories” and Mr. Abarca, the senior counselor, gave one of his students a 23 and Me gene kit so he could learn more about his ancestry. Manicures, spa trips, and dinner gift certificates were given to teachers, mothers, and grandmothers who are known to work endlessly to provide for their students, children, and grandchildren. Harrison Steely, a junior, was given a gift from his teacher for maintaining a 4.0 GPA while handling family hardships.
For a quick break, cheer gave a very festive performance with high-flying stunts and Christmas-themed pajamas. Once all eyes were focused back onto the gifts, the intensity of gratitude heightened. Faces were filled with joy and tears as recipient after recipient went up to stand with their loved ones and received the surprise of a lifetime. Jazkarn King, a senior known for his passionate Michael Jackson dance moves, handed his friend his dazzling infamous jacket as he awarded the student and the student’s girlfriend a night out to winter formal for being such supportive friends. One student wished for her best friend to grow taller and, while Mr. Price made it very clear they couldn’t make that happen, they did the best they could with a pair of heels, which the student received with laughter and smiles.
Another transition called for the drumlines performance, which impressed the whole way through. Not only were all beats synchronized, but the flipping of instruments was impeccable and impressive to watch. After the clapping filled the gym for the performance, the final section of gifts began. The heartwarming spree started with Ms. Petty, who decided to wish for one of her very own female wrestlers to receive a new pair of glasses as she had broken them in a match. The loving moment was followed by another gift of pizza and junior, Ajah Hassaan’s gift to her twin sister, Nylah Hassaan. Ajah had been in on the planning for weeks, explaining, “ I’m really excited to see her reaction. I think [the surprise] is going to be really cute. She’s been wanting [a camera] for a really long time.” The reason for the gift was read aloud as the crowd listened to Nylah’s love for making “people feel beautiful” and the wish her sister wanted to make a reality. Nylah was indeed excited, as she has since posted numerous photos on her social media taken with the new camera, along with a caption that stated how much she loves it.
The gift-giving did not stop there. Anthony Giron, senior, and Angelina Giron, junior, both wished for their little sister, as she has had many surgeries on her legs recently. Another student wished for his friend to see Lebron James in person, which allowed him to receive NBA tickets for the Lakers. Hannah and Katie Escobar, seniors, wished for apple trees to be planted in areas around the school, particularly near the drama building, as Riley Hanson, our beloved senior who tragically passed earlier this year, hung out around there during her time at El Capitan. A few more gifts were given; then the grinch burst through the door once again, running all over the place, but this time, everyone on the stage tried desperately to hold him back. A box appeared in the center of the gym, which seemed to be the main thing the Grinch had been trying to steal. Once opened, a puppy burst out of the box! The message read aloud stated Lily Lee, a junior, wanted her friend to receive a new dog, as she had been missing hers after it passed away.
The Winter Wish Rally was definitely not short of gift-giving or gratitude. Once again, El Capitan showed how to help people come together in the spirit of the holidays to show thanks for the ones who make them feel appreciated and loved.
Training and conditioning were already in motion while the spring sports were in the midst of their seasons, but the expectations head wrestling coach, John Petty, had weren’t fully expected until early September, two to three months away from there first “duos”(known as matches) at home. All new wrestlers had to keep up to speed and show what they could take to sustain a wrestling practice. Coach Petty spent little time practicing the basic techniques to wrestle so the newcomers had to pay close attention as well as learn quickly and efficiently to be at the top of their weight class for the next match. Week by week, condition and wrestling time grew longer until practice ended at 6:30, when it started during 8th period(2:28 pm). Week by week, each routine became more intense, inserting new techniques to perform on the mat in order to assure the wrestlers and their teammates that they wouldn’t let anyone down.
Time passes; all wrestlers develop and regular season comes by quick on October 22nd. Schedules are in place that wrestlers are now second nature to. Coach Petty sets nothing but high standards for his wrestlers. For the returners from previous years, they know the expectations, they know the workout ethics, and they know what it takes to win matches and contest hard enough to reach the state tournament. Returners lead the workouts, showing how these standards should be met and how being more than standard comes with hard work, discipline, and dedication. For a two-year El Cap wrestler, Christopher Johnston tells his take on standards and what Gaucho wrestling’s workout routines consist of, “Coach Petty is a fantastic coach, even though he gets really intense. [That’s] what the team needs most of the time.” He continues, “The standards are definitely set high for multiple reasons: Coach Petty himself wants the best for us wrestlers individually, as a group, and as students, so keeping high grades and also being dedicated and having [a] hard work [ethic] toward wrestling is a high priority and a well-set standard. [In] the past, we had few wrestlers wrestling for State [championships] and a few of them won state for their weight class and division. They revealed that it’s possible to reach such places, having other Gaucho wrestlers hungry for such success. That’s why I wrestle at a higher weight class: to improve my skills, endurance, and strength so I [can] make it to state.”
November 28th was the Gaucho wrestler’s first home duos against Turlock, 25th place in the state and the only team they lost to last year. These matches meant alot to Coach Petty so the serious, fighter mindset was set before the day of the match and throughout the match. This means a lot for the Gauchos because this milestone will show the league they have beat Turlock, and it will also show Turlock that they have to work harder than the Gauchos to think of an easy victory. Every match was a close match. The Gauchos won eight out of twelve matches. Higher classmen’s pins were made by Josiah Araujo weighing in 145 lbs, Shane Carl in 160 lbs, Kevin Fernandez in 195 lbs, and Kyle Lee in 220 lbs. Crucial wins were held by Devin Holman in 138 lbs, Evan Myrtue in 182 lbs, and Jesus Garcia in 106 lbs. The scoreboard was neck to neck after every few or so matches. Turlock is no easy team to beat so only the best was expected from Coach Petty and the Gaucho wrestlers themselves. Matches were won and matches were lost, so the final matches were for the taking to be victorious. After all the matches were over and both teams were tired on their sides from their grand performance, the final points were added up to the scoreboard. Gauchos are revealed as 37 to Turlock’s 33!