The Culmination of High School: Journalism Capstone

At Miami Lakes Educational Center there are academies and strands inside those academies. As part of the journalism strand in the Cambridge academy, senior students must create a capstone, a project that represents and reflects all they’ve learned throughout their three years in the strand.

My partner, Juanita Cardona, and I created a Miami lifestyle magazine aimed at Miami-Dade and Broward County residents. This project encompasses our greatest efforts throughout two months.

The magazine is divided among sections: culture, food, art & music.

Below are raw and unedited photos taken exclusively for the magazine:

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Cuban roosters in front of El Pub in Calle Ocho, Little Havana by Daniela Morales.

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This wall is painted inside Maximo Gomez domino park in Little Havana, by Daniela Morales.
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The Biltmore Hotel by Daniela Morales.

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Gabriella Ibanez at the Wynwood Walls.
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Kalen Siddiqui photographed at the Wynwood Walls for a Reebok ad by Daniela Morales.
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Gabriella Ibanez, a sun goddess, by Daniela Morales.

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Viva magazine models Kalen Siddiqui and Gabriella Ibanez in Wynwood, an artistic area in South Florida.

This is a pdf of the print version presented to the judges, Paradise Afshar, Chabeli Herrera, and two Herff Jones representatives, Jose and Jordan.

Viva Magazine

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Presidential Candidates Aren’t the Only ones on the Ballot

Collaboration of Nathalie Del Valle, Ericka Miller, Daniela Morales,.

The United States Senate makes up half of the legislative branch and plays a vital role in our country’s system of checks and balances. Congress, comprised of the House of Representatives – which has 435 elected officials – and Senate – which has 100 elected officials -,  can veto the president and reject appointments to the Supreme Court as well as propose amendments to overrule court decisions. The legislative branch, along with the judicial and executive, is made to cater to our country’s needs but first, officials who will represent those needs must be elected.

The Senate is the upper house in Congress. Senators serve a six year term, as opposed to presidents who serve four year terms and representatives who serve two year terms, which allows them more time to push their agenda and make lasting/impacting decisions for the country. In Florida, the candidates are Marco Rubio and Patrick Murphy. The Republican candidate, Marco Rubio, is seeking reelection. Meanwhile, Democratic candidate, Patrick Murphy, is campaigning for Senator after two terms as a representative.

During an election year such as 2016, when presidential candidates are on the ballot, other candidates for public office tend to be overshadowed. Voters are usually unaware that state representatives have a bigger impact on the policies implemented in that specific state than the President of the United States. More so during this polarizing election, it is pertinent that voters focus on the Senate election too. The Senate will also approve the next Supreme Court justice, the ninth justice, breaking the tie between Republicans and Democrats in the court.

Even though the United State’s next president will drive the country either left or right, Senators and Representatives are the ones who stand for each state’s specific needs. As a voter, it is one’s duty to elect those officials so that each of our needs may make it to the forefront of this country’s important issues.

MLEC SHAPE Grant Reception Dinner

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This past Wednesday was the SHAPE club Grant Dinner where they award grants to clubs and organizations in the school and to one outside organization. This year it was the Pelican Harbor Seabird Station that was awarded $500 of the $2,400 the club fundraised along the whole school year. Grants were given to in-house clubs like TSA, Key Club and the school newspaper “The Harbinger” and the Pharmacy strand in the Health Academy.

A Very Special Little Friend’s Birthday

She was planning a dinner at Sawgrass Mills mall’s Rainforest Cafe at her favorite table under the gorillas but we planned a surprise party instead.

Some online surfing while we wait for the birthday girl to arrive home from school.
Some online surfing while we wait for the birthday girl to arrive home from school.
Her mother lied to her and said she had to work 'till late but in reality stayed home and organized this for her.
Her mother lied to her and said she had to work ’till late but in reality stayed home and organized this for her.
Ready to go with party poppers in our hands for as soon as the birthday girl comes through the door.
Ready to go with party poppers in our hands for as soon as the birthday girl comes through the door.
We failed at one thing - making sure the poppers worked before she came in. This is the birthday girl playing around with the poppers that failed to pop.
We failed at one thing – making sure the poppers worked before she came in. This is the birthday girl playing around with the poppers that failed to pop.
She was smothered with hugs by everyone present (her closest homies)
She was smothered with hugs by everyone present (her closest homies)

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JSA struttin' .These are the sweatshirts we got at this year's Winter Congress in Washington D.C.
JSA struttin’ .These are the sweatshirts we got at this year’s Winter Congress in Washington D.C.

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Birthday girl and little sister.
Birthday girl and little sister.
They all come from the same family, including the monkey.
They all come from the same family, including the monkey.
Wild party animals.
Wild party animals.
Everyone needs a little rest after all that crazy time.
Everyone needs a little rest after all that crazy time.
Ying and Yang.
Ying and Yang.
Birthday girl and momma who organized everything.
Birthday girl and momma who organized everything.

IMG_0802At the end, who knows if she would’ve preferred a birthday at the Rainforest Cafe but i’d say we made it pretty memorable.

P.S i called her my little friend because most of the time i have to act like her mother and make sure she’s not getting lost or losing her things.

Queen B’s Birthday

No, no, this post isn’t about Beyonce – even though she is also a queen. This is about the wonderful and brilliant Mrs. Borges: advisor, teacher, friend, and confidant. Today we celebrated her birthday por todo lo alto just like she deserves.

The seniors whose task it is every year to make it the most memorable yet decorated the Pink Room with bee themed ornaments. Get it? Because she’s the Queen B. Bee. And her name is Mrs. Borges. 🙂

Flower shaped balloons adorned the ceiling and confetti covered the tables dressed in pink and yellow table cloths. The excitement was almost tangible in the room. Every student – from the seniors (who are her precious babies) to the sophomores (who are the new kids on the block) – was ecstatic to dedicate a whole day to celebrate the person that cares and guides us in the right direction.

As soon as she came into the room everyone yelled “Surpise!!” and started singing “Las Mañanitas”, a mexican song that is usually sung on birthdays in the Hispanic culture. Then we sang Happy Birthday and she soon blew out the candle placed on an array of cupcakes reading “Happy Birthday”.

We moved on to the gift opening section of the day. Mrs. Borges opened a big bag labeled “Happy Birthday” only to find a little box with a polaroid camera inside (we consulted her husband and she had wanted this gift for a while). Needless to say, she was euphoric and then more when she found out she had also gotten a matching case to put it in. After each group of kids got their turn to take a polaroid picture with the birthday queen we moved on to the more sentimental portion.

An assigned video editor managed to compile short clips of our Journalism class alumni saying some kind words to Mrs. Borges on her birthday. As soon as the babies she had practically raised to be successful and take on the world came on the SmartBoard she got a bit emotional herself. By the end of the video Mrs. Borges was rummaging for tissues to dry up her eyes.

“I don’t usually get this emotional on my birthday. It’s at the end of the year when the seniors leave that i cry.”

We ended the day on a lighter note when the helium balloons stopped being used for decoration and were instead used for sucking the gas and making funny remarks in a very high pitched voice. Needless to say, this year’s birthday was a very special one and i for one, am glad i got to witness the woman i owe so much to be so happy and carefree for at least one day.

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QUEEN BORGES

Travel Tips!

Storytime with John

Okay, finally got down to this one! I’m certainly no expert, and don’t really claim to be – but I feel like I can at least impart some advice I’ve picked up along the way! I will say this; they are (mostly) all just common sense – but that doesn’t mean they aren’t worth saying! 

Hope they help!

www.facebook.com/storytimewithjohn

Please buy my collection of stories! Get it in paperback here – or on Kindle here! ALL proceeds go towards Macmillan Cancer Support!

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15 Minutes of Fame (before)

This Friday, February 6 at 7:00 pm the stage is open to the talented and the floor to those with a good ear. Music Club is hosting one of its most exclusive shows of the year, “15 Minutes of Fame.” More than twenty acts each varying from duos, bands, to solo singers will light up the stage with their incredible talent.

Anyone with a different musical taste, whether it’s rock, latino, R&B or Rap, is sure to find a tune they identify themselves with. Drums, guitars, piano, and vocals of all types and tones will dominate the showcase as students from our very own high school demonstrate their musical expertise in front of their peers.

The performers — coming from either a musical background, bands, or simply doing what they enjoy — will sing and play their hearts out after hours and hours of rehearsal to hit precisely the right note.

“My dad plays guitar and sings and before him my grandfather used to play the cello in a Jazz band. It’s part of my history and I’ve always liked it because it calms me down” said Daniela Rodriguez, a performer at this year’s showcase.

For some it’ll be their first time in front of a live audience. Stage fright will spread like wind backstage and performers will begin to have second thoughts. Once on stage the world around them will disappear, and the moment will become personal; all that will remain is the connection between their instrument and themselves.

“There are a lot of hidden talents in the school that not everybody knows about so 15 Minutes of Fame is a good place for these people to showcase their talent and if they have any stage fright, overcome it.” said Pablo Conde who will be performing various genres with his band at this year’s event.

There will be those who will be waiting by the curtains for their turn, hands shaking in anticipation, and those who lean forward in their seats awaiting the next act, hungry for more. There will be murmurs of excitement and approval; friends will cheer for their own and wish them ‘good luck’, and applauses will reverberate throughout the auditorium.

Those artists that enjoy performing just for the experience will feel a sense of accomplishment, like that of Conde, who admits to feeling such success after being onstage. Putting music out there for the world to hear – especially your own original masterpiece – is a part of what makes performing such a unique experience.

“For me, it’s a personal thing. I put out music for myself because I get to speak my mind in my own way and hey, if you take the time to decode what my lyrics mean then thank you.” said Abraham Aburman, Music Club president and performer at “15 Minutes of Fame.”

For just $5 you can come spend a pleasant evening with friends while enjoying some of the best music this school has to offer. Come out Friday night and prepare to be blown away by the eccentrics.