Students appreciate America’s challenges, opportunities

Kara Gardiner – Mustangs Ahead

(LAKEWOOD RANCH, FL) – LRHS holds over 2,000 students, and Mustangs have moved here from all over the world. Sophomore Amalia Pureco moved to Florida from Michoacan, Mexico, and junior Stanley Jaccilien moved here from Haiti.

“I moved away from Mexico to Florida in 2004 with my parents and my eight siblings. I have five sisters and three brothers,” said Puerco.

“Moving here was a big transition for my family and me. At first it was very hard and difficult. We had to adjust to an entire new language. I began learning English which was a challenge for me.”

Pureco moved here when she was three-years-old, so for most of her life she has lived in Florida.

“The culture here in Florida is very unlike Mexico,” she said. “There are far more restaurants and shops here. The houses here are built differently in structure than those in Mexico. They have more schools here and far more kids.”

Despite the challenges and differences, Pureco thinks she is better off in Florida.

“There are far more opportunities here in Florida. I have the chance to get a better education and a better life. Despite all the change we went through, I am happy to be here,” stated Pureco.

LRHS junior Stanley Jaccilien moved to Florida three years ago from Haiti.

“I moved here with my six siblings and parents,” he said.

“Moving to Florida was a big transition for me. I had to adjust to the new language and the new culture. Learning English which is what most people speak in Florida was not entirely easy but it was something I needed to do.”

“The buildings here are bigger than those in Mexico. It was a big change to me. Houses here look entirely different and that was something I was not expecting,” stated Jaccilien.

Jaccilien believes that Florida will provide him with a better future.

“Florida has many opportunities for me and I am very thankful for it.”

Ranch Reflection – Injury presents new challenge to successful athlete

Ranch Reflections are articles written by students who want to share their experiences, thoughts, and concerns. This is a great opportunity for students to branch out beyond traditional news stories.

Sam Hester – Mustangs Ahead

(LAKEWOOD RANCH, FL) – One thing that can crush an athlete like no other is bad injury at an even worst time. I was affected by such an injury this year at the state semi-finals for basketball.

sam hester on scooter
The author deals with his injury

Three minutes into the game, I completely tore one ligament in my ankle, partially tore another, and strained my achilles tendon. This was my first real injury and I wasn’t really sure how to deal with it. You may think the only thing that can come out of an injury like this is bad, but there are actually many good lessons that can be taken out of an injury.

The first thing I had to learn was staying positive for my teammates. This was pretty difficult considering a goal I had been working on since the fifth grade, helping my team win a state championship, had been crushed and there was nothing I could do about it.

I normally have a very active lifestyle so it wasn’t easy to not be able to go outside and move around a lot. I couldn’t mess around and shoot a basketball or play catch with some friends; this led to some very boring afternoons on my couch watching Netflix and eating chips.

I couldn’t walk on my ankle for over a month-and-a-half so my doctor recommended that I get a knee scooter to get around school more easily. Let me just say, riding one of those scooters is much more difficult than you may think, especially when your school has a large crack in the ground every three feet. At first the scooter was no easy task but with time I learned to ride it without falling and making myself look like a fool.

The last thing I had to learn, and am currently still learning, is being patient and not pushing my ankle too far; recovery takes time. There have been many instance where I have wanted to do something, and felt I can, but had to pass knowing it could end up having a negative impact on my ankle.

This injury has been a learning experience, and perhaps others can learn from my experience as well.


College costs not always obvious

Sebastian Scalera – Mustangs Ahead

(LAKEWOOD RANCH, FL) – Whether it be an overdraft charge on a debit card or a luxury fee for a second can of soda on a commercial airline, fees can show up when least expected. They might not be a big deal when consumers are aware of them, but what if they aren’t? What if even a huge investment like going to college could involve hidden fees that hike up the price significantly?

It can and does. There are many hidden costs that going to college can entail.

Many schools like to advertise affordability to draw kids in. While many schools are very affordable, students must realize that it costs more than tuition to attend.

If you plan to live on or around campus instead of commuting: Remember that students aren’t paying just for tuition. For example, the University of Florida charged $6,381 in tuition per year in 2015 ($28,658 for out-of-state students). That is good value for the price, but don’t forget to add on $9,910 for room and board, $1,210 for books and supplies, and another $3.750 for “other expenses.” Add it all up and students are facing a grand total of $21,251 ($43,528 out-of-state). All of these numbers are public information, so what about the hidden costs mentioned earlier?

Interest Fees: According to the Instituter for College Access and Success, “Seven in 10 seniors (68%) who graduated from public and nonprofit colleges in 2015 had student loan debt, with an average of $30,100 per borrower.” Student loans are a viable option, but many forget about the interest rates on these loans. As of right now, the average national interest rates on undergraduate student loans hover around 4.66 % depending on the circumstance.

Greek Life/Clubs: According to expert approximations, 9 million students across the country join a fraternity or sorority. To get an idea of what this can cost, take the Greek system at Dartmouth College, where 51% of students are in a fraternity or sorority, which require new member dues upon joining. Depending on that chapter, some sororities are asking for anywhere from $335-$647. This number can also depend on the school, but it is still an expense to keep in mind. Other popular clubs and organizations such as honor societies, religious clubs, and club athletics can come at a price too.

Leaving College: Whether it be spring break, studying abroad, or coming home for the summer, the cost of leaving campus is often out of sight and out of mind. This cost should be accounted for well beforehand if as student plans on doing any of these things.

Various College Fees: The Edvisors website has compiled a handy list of hidden costs of college including potentially unexpected fees like orientation, athletic center, and matriculation fees sometimes not included in tuition. It also includes tons of other expenses not covered here.

Don’t just take it from these sources. Actual college students have experienced these unexpected costs.

“People forget that they aren’t just paying for school when they go to school. The expensive of life continue as well. Gas, food, and spending money are all real,” said Ringling College of Art and Design graduate Andres Paz. Paz recommends finding a part time job or paid internship if possible.

University of Florida freshmen and former Mustang Michael Petruzzi said, “If you go to a big school, team spirit is real. Students might get discounts on tickets but football, basketball, and other sports still cost money to watch. You don’t want to be the guy who shows up to the tailgate empty handed, either.”

Mustang wind ensemble heats up at states

Markella Paradissis-Wagner – Mustangs Ahead

(LAKEWOOD RANCH, FL)- On April 24, the LRHS Wind Ensemble competed in the Florida Bandmaster Association’s Music Performance Assessment (MPA) State Concert Competition at Bailey Concert Hall, Broward College.

The band took a bus to Miami on what would typically be a three-hour drive, however, about 30 minutes from the performance site the bus broke down on Alligator Alley. The musicians endured 84-degree weather for about an hour and half, missing their initial performance time. Nevertheless, the students kept their spirits high by singing, cheering, and listening to music.  After a mechanic fixed the bus, the band completed the last leg of its trip.

State MPAs consist of performing on stage and sight-reading for judges. The bands receive scores of Poor, Fair, Good, Excellent, or Superior in each portion of the evaluation. A Superior is equivalent to an ‘A’ grade, an Excellent a ‘B,” and so forth.

The LRHS Wind Ensemble performed at about 6 p.m., compared to its original scheduled time of 3: 15 p.m., and received a Good rating after tough judging.

“I think our performance was the best performance we had all year,” said oboe player Katie Hoskinson, junior.

The wind ensemble overcame every obstacle in their way, whether it be a broken bus, the Florida heat, or gladly accepting the challenge of harsher judging as an opportunity to refine their musical skills.

The group earned Superior ratings at last month’s district competition, qualifying them for the next level, which is the state competition they played in at Broward College.

FFA wins state recognition (again)

Roberto Rodriguez – Mustangs Ahead

(LAKEWOOD RANCH, FL) – Florida’s FFA program recently announced that LRHS’s FFA Chapter is one of Florida’s finest.

“This means our chapter is ranked in the top 10% of all FFA programs in the state,” said LRHS FFA co-adviser Janyel Taylor. “The main goal of the award is to ensure chapters are focusing on growing leaders, building communities and strengthening agriculture and have worked hard to fulfill the mission and vision of the FFA. Our award application will now go to the national level to be ranked by National FFA. This is the third consecutive year that we have received this honor and we are so excited to share it with you!”

Meanwhile the LRHS FFA chapter had its annual chapter banquet Wednesday. The night started with members and their families enjoying a BBQ dinner provided by the chapter. Then everyone moved to the auditorium for the opening and awards ceremony. Senior and Junior officers were then introduced and executed the opening and closing ceremony. Senior President Haley Barnes then proceeded with the awards by calling each member that won either a Career Development Event or Supervised Agricultural Experience to the stage to receive their annual pins.

The ceremony then concluded with the senior closing ceremony. Seniors then hung up their jackets and received their graduation cords. Following with a video put together with senior interviews and moments.

2016-2017 LRHS FFA president Haley Barns stated, “I cannot tell you how much this organization means to me and the fact that I was able to serve as the President for my senior year is just a dream. I hope I moved many members to drive for success and help the Chapter grow and reach its full potential. I wish everyone the best of lucky next year and beyond and I would like to thank the chapter advisers Mrs. (Susan) Grainger and Mrs. Taylor for believing in me by electing me President, they taught leadership skills that I will carry thought my college career.”

This banquet closed the 2016-2017 FFA year. Izzy Chamness was introduced as next year’s FFA president.