By Sigfrido Ibarra
Cougar News Blog

      Cactus Canyon’s Yearbook – the Cougar Chronicles – was awarded second place in the 2016 Lifetouch National Yearbook Showcase.
      Yearbook adviser Jason Davis was surprised to hear in January that his class had improved from their honorable mention in the 2015 competition.
      “I was surprised. Literally, surprised,” Mr. Davis said. “My Lifetouch representative, Julie Bales, came to school and told us we’d earned second place. Other than that, I was thrilled for my students.”
      Eighth-grade editor Brooke Wine, who worked on the winning book, said she felt awesome and accomplished just by helping her class win that award.
      “I felt excited because we were working on it for a long time and it took a lot of work,” Wine said.
      Students learned from the experience of creating an award-winning book. For example, Madonna Parker said she learned that hard work pays off.
      “I learned how to communicate with my friends with technology and make a book that everybody can look back on 20 years later,” Parker said.
      As the staff continues toward completion of this year’s book, Mr. Davis hopes that this award inspires the yearbook to make the 2016-17 book even better.
      “I hope this year’s group sees this second-place award and strives to do better,” he said. “It always has; every book we’ve made has been our best one yet.”
     This year’s edition of the Cougar Chronicles is available for pre-order at ybpay.lifetouch.com. Use school code 9910317.

By Kristine Funk
Cougar News Blog

     Some Cactus Canyon math students went on a safari to learn about numbers, decimals, and percents.
     Rachel Mangum and Tina Jada’s math classes recently had a video conference with the Saint Louis Zoo to learn about math and animals. The instructor gave many different examples relating to math, but also related to animals, and gave them problems to solve.
     “I think that because it was something they could relate to they tried really hard to figure out the math,” said Mangum.
     The learning objective was about decimals and percents, and the video instructor gave examples such as how many times a falcon would be successful capturing prey under a variety of circumstances.
     The Mathimals program is something the St. Louis Zoo offers to schools across America and it includes live animals, hands-on activities, and videos to show how math is important to the zoo and the world.
     The class plans on doing it again in January, but instead of a zoo, they will learn along with a musician. Mangum hopes that students will be able to see that math is used everywhere, and not just in school.
     “I had my students reflect on the experience and they said that they really enjoyed it,” Mangum said.
     Students say that the conference has helped them understand the subject more, and they also learned a thing or two about animals.
     “It was amazing,” said Kristen Baker. “I learned more about the animals there.”

By Alissa Baker
Cougar News Blog

     Cactus Canyon’s choir spends most of their time behind closed doors, practicing for concerts, carnivals, and other special occasions.
     Many people outside of choir might see the group as just a school elective, but it is much more than that. All the students and instructors are connected through their love of music and shared frustration of hard work. The members of the club really do feel the connection they have with each other, and they are willing to support one another all the way.
     “Choir is like a family to me, so that means we work together through the hard times and protect each other afterwards – and we don’t leave each other out,” said Katriel Hamilton.
     Mrs. Chung had been preparing her students for their Dec. 20 and has been giving them various practice methods. Many of these practices include warm ups at the beginning of class. These seem to be helping the students with their singing and even with their natural speech. Some of the singers who want to continue singing in the future even find it helpful.
     “I’m planning on singing again in the future, so I think the warm ups Mrs. Chung has been giving us are helpful,” Alondra Urias said.
     A lot of the participants were very excited during the concert in December. There are also many people who were nervous, and didn’t know how to cope with it.
     “I’m a little bit nervous because of the solos that we are doing, since we do them by our selves, but I am also excited because we get to dance and stuff.”

Eight grader Kaylee Smith dribbles during a basketball camp in September. The girls basketball team hopes to defend its league title  when the new season begins in January.

Eight grader Kaylee Smith dribbles during a basketball camp in September. The girls basketball team hopes to defend its league title when the new season begins in January.

By Kylee Demauro
Cougar News Blog

     Cactus Canyons girls basketball team is the defending league champion and, as a new season begins, another title is the ultimate goal and expectation.
     Communication is a big part of the team. It helps athletes know their teammates have their backs and they don’t have to worry. It informs others on what to do and how to do certain things.
     “The communication helps by getting the team on the same page and informing others about the play and how things are supposed to go,” said seventh grader Kashmir Baillie. “If we didn’t have communication it would be a mess because no one would know what they are doing.”
     A portion of the girls are feeling pressure on how they do in tryouts, which will be Dec. 19-21. The seventh grade students are more frightened since it is their first time trying out.
     “There is always pressure in tryouts because you can get cut even if you made it the year before,” said eighth grader, Kaylee Smith. “I always worry that I won’t be what they want us to be but we/I try our best.”
     Coach Kimberly Grant has been preparing for the season by having open gym at least once a month. Open gym is when students go to the gym and play different basketball games and have competitions. Coach Grant has also been going to a coach’s clinic.
     “As far as preparing as a coach, I attended the Nike Coach’s Clinic this year and plan to implement some of the ideas I learned at the clinic,” explained Coach Grant.
     The team will have to work on multiple things, such as defense and making sure the opposing team works for every point. On offense, Grant will have players focus on taking care of the ball, and communication. Working together as a team is also very critical.
     “I think that our strengths are communicating with each other and letting our players know we have their backs,” said eighth grader Madonna Parker. “That way it’s more of a team effort and not just a one person effort.”
     The strengths of the team will be working together and getting to know each other, which will help others be more confident. Being stronger as a team will help the girls play better and build friendships.
     “The strengths of our team this year are hopefully going to be encouraging each other no matter what, to push our team forward, and to talk about the plays we run,“ said Smith. “When part of the team is on the bench, we should be cheering people on. Not saying ‘go here,’ ‘do this,’ ‘do that.’”

By Chloe Mayes
Cougar News Blog

     The book club, Raging Readers, is doing fun and new things. Raging Readers is a club where students read and talk about books with other students. The book club meets every other Tuesday and started on the 13th of September.
     One goal of the club is to have an impact on student reading. Adviser John Leal wants his students to take away a love for reading and sharing what they have read.
     “I expect my students to take away a passion for reading or sharing their experiences from reading,” said Leal.
     This is Leal’s second year of sponsoring the club, which he wanted to do because of his love for reading and sharing. He wants students to be able to read and enjoy reading as much as he does.
     Leal said, “I love to read and to share titles in hopes that maybe that person would experience what I did while reading.”
     The book club plans to to have different choices of books than what they did last year. They are also going places like the Renaissance Festival and will help put on the literacy fair in early 2017.
     In a normal book club meeting, students have a discussion about a book they are reading.
     “We talk about characters, plot, and themes about the novel and share how we felt when something happened, or while it was happening,” Leal said.

By Alissa Baker
Cougar News Blog

     You may have heard about this subject from your friends, the internet, or maybe you even have it yourself. Although there are many articles discussing teen depression, I feel like they are missing a few key features. I want to give people an insight into what depression feels like, what it is, and what it can do to an emotional teen.
     You know that feeling you get when you’re sad? Well, that’s what depression is, except you have it for a longer period of time. Many would describe it as a gloomy, mean, or frightening monster hanging on your back, or like a grey cloud always hanging over your head. The most disturbing and realistic description of it is it’s like you fall down this deep, dark hole, and a huge rock is crushing your leg. You try to yell out for help, only realising that nobody can hear you and you are probably going to die there alone without anyone ever noticing.
     When someone has depression, it is usually caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain, which may have been caused by genetics, early childhood trauma, or the brain’s biology. It is also documented that depression could be passed down by genetics. This mental disorder is not easily fixed; it has to slowly progress over time, and some people never escape it.
     Some states of depression only last a couple weeks, then it is all clear. Every now and then it can come back even harder than the first time. States of major depression, also known as manic depression, can be linked to anxiety, where you have stress and panic attacks. It is also linked to bipolar disorder, where the person can spend a period of time energetic and happy, but ending up burning themselves out and feeling majorly depressed afterwards with no signs of the sudden change. This can lead to abuse, self-harming, and suicide.
     Many people with depression try to make themselves feel better by going into the grey zone, which is a mental state where you can’t feel any emotions, including sadness, and happiness. It’s like if you walked up into your head and came back down but you forgot all you emotions.
     Depression mixed with an emotional teen can get very dire. Many adults may brush it off and say it’s just their hormones and that they should get over it because some people have it worse than them. But depression is a serious thing and negative comments they get from people on the subject can create a storm inside their heart. If they try to bottle the pain and rage up, they will soon explode.
     People may get depression mixed up with being “emo.” Although some may have depression, but others may just be trying to act “depressed” to get attention or show that they are different.
     If you have depression or someone you know of has depression, I recommend you or your friend talk to a therapist or doctor to help you find the best treatment. Having depression is nothing to be ashamed of and making the decision to get help can be the most difficult step in getting help.

Editor’s Note: This article is the opinion of the Cougar News Blog writer Alissa Baker. It is the fourth in a series of stories about serious issues such as depression, eating disorders, and women’s rights.

By Chloe Mayes
Cougar News Blog

     There has been a murder at Rundown Abbey. Follow along with the characters to find out who the killer is at the Cactus Canyon drama production.
     Students can come see Murder at Rundown Abbey at 7 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 8, Apache Junction High School Performing Arts Center. Tickets are only $1 and will be available at the door.
     The play, set in the 1920s, follow detective Sam Splayed as he goes undercover as a butler to solve a murder at the English estate owned by the Crumbledowns.
     Adviser Lisa Schroeder wants her student to enjoy the experience and develop a love for drama.
     “I want them to enjoy this process and it is my hope that they truly fall in love with the theater and want to explore more or similar opportunities in the future,” said Schroeder.
     The drama students have been working for about two and a half months to prepare.The student have many techniques that they use to practice. Some students like when they can practice with their fellow peers that are also in the play.
     “When I practice, I find I improve when I talk to someone with my lines,” said seventh grader Nevaeh Erlandson.
     Since CCJH has not had a play in about five years, the class had to come up with all the costumes and props. Although, thanks to some generous people, they were able to get donations for most of the things they needed. All the money that the play raises is going toward their next play that will be in the spring.
      “We had to obtain all aspects, such as costumes, props, set pieces, etc.,” said Schroeder. “We obtained these items from various resources such as teacher, parent, and community donations. We made many of our items from recycled materials such as old boxes, and fabrics.”
     Drama students said they are really grateful to get the opportunity to put on the show and said the experience has made the group like a family.
     “Drama has taught me that no matter who I am I can always act and be myself because family isn’t always blood,” said eighth grader Kaitlin Greathouse. “It’s the people in life who want you in theirs. The ones who accept you for who you are. The ones who would do anything to see you smile and who love you no matter what.”

Sigfrido Ibarra
Cougar New Blog

     USS Enterprise down.
     Fans of the TV series and Movie franchise of Star Trek will be thrilled to see the next installment in the Star Trek franchise. It has been three years since the last movie and now they have come up with their best film yet. It’s captivating and thrilling to watch Star Trek Beyond.
     The fantasy/science fiction film brings back all seven main characters from the TV show and from the movie instalments, including Chris Pine as James T. Kirk, captain of the USS Enterprise, Zachary Quinto as Spock, the ambassador and Capt. Kirk’s friend, and Karl Urban as Leonard McCoy, the doctor of the spaceship.
     Set three years into its five-year mission, the USS Enterprise arrives at a starbase called Yorktown to resupply, but soon after they’re sent on a rescue mission after an escape pod makes communication and claims that her ship has been attacked within a uncharted nebula. The rescue mission turns into an ambush and the Enterprise is torn apart by a giant swarm of small ships. Krall, the captain, quickly boards the Enterprise and orders his men to capture the crew.
     Captain Kirk orders everyone to aboned ship as the Enterprise enters the planet’s atmosphere but now he’s strand with only a few of his crew, but one thing is certain he will fight for his crew’s freedom.
     This movie is definitely worth watching because everything about it was great. The actors, the story, the action scenes, and especially the special effects were outstanding. While the film attempts some humor, some of the joke work and some don’t.
     The actors did a great job playing their character and showing their emotions and it was amazing how they struggle and keep on fighting. The special effect were the best part of the movie, seeing the explosion and the swarm of ships is what made the movie pass my expectations.
     Even though this movie is PG-13 it’s okay for most types of audience, but maybe not couples and little kids. It has some inappropriate words, but that’s about it. I give this movie 4.5 out of 5 stars and I really recommend it.
      Star Trek Beyond was released Nov. 1 and is available now.

By Angelica Jimenez
Cougar News Blog

      I have lost three of my friends this year to suicide.
      My friends were always happy from my point of view they were always smiling they were outgoing they were alway smiling and laughing and making everyone happy but I had not idea what was going on with them. It breaks my heart because I didn’t notice they were upset about anything. I just wish they hadn’t have taken their lives like they did, but know I know they are in a better place.
     Suicide is the third-leading cause of death among young people, resulting in about 4,400 deaths per year, according to the CDC. For every suicide among young people, there are at least 100 suicide attempts. Over 14 percent of high school students have considered suicide, and almost 7 percent have attempted it.
      The reasons teens commit suicide is because they are bullied or they are struggling with school or changes in their lives. People should know that words do hurt and can have serious unintended consequences.
     Kids shouldn’t bully in general; it’s rude, it’s not nice, it is life threatening to many people that actually get hurt from it. Teens commit suicide because they feel like they aren’t loved by anyone and they think they have no one to talk to about their problems. It’s not funny to bully and pick on other student – it is a serious matter.
     I wish nobody had to go through this pain, but if you have thoughts of suicide, please reach out to a school counselor, teacher, parent, or a friend. You can also call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 for help.

Editor’s Note: This article is the opinion of the Cougar News Blog writer Angelica Jimenez. It is the fourth in a series of stories about serious issues such as depression, eating disorders, and women’s rights.