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School Buzz

Meet our 2015-16 team

Jordan Magaziner Steinfeld
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School Buzz

Some School Buzz correspondents gather to brainstorm for the new year. Bottom row, from left: Katy Boyd, Alexander-Smith Academy; Matthew Gregg, The Briarwood School. First bleacher, from left: Taylor Brittain, Stratford High School; Skarleth Velasquez, Bellaire High School; Liana Wang, Bellaire High School; Natalie Lee, Memorial High School. Second bleacher, from left: Sena Sarikaya, Bellaire High School; Addie Symonds, Westbury Christian School; Madison Belcher, Westbury Christian School. Third bleacher, from left: Deborah Brown, Robert M. Beren Academy; Grace Armstrong, The Post Oak High School; Alexandra Parris, Incarnate Word Academy; Rachel Amran, Memorial High School; Seokhyun Baek, The High School for the Performing and Visual Arts. Fourth bleacher: Dylan Jackson, Lamar High School. Top bleacher, from left: Sidney Phillips, St. Agnes Academy; James Cravens, Alexander-Smith Academy; Anna Costantini, St. Agnes Academy; Ellie Delgado, Lamar High School; Jordan Oakum, The Briarwood School.

One year ago, we launched The Buzz Magazines’ School Buzz project. We interviewed local high school students, chose correspondents and dedicated a space on our website for them to share what was going on at their campuses through stories, photos and videos.

Since then, our School Buzz editors, reporters and photographers have created more than 150 blog posts offering insight into their world – from the first-year jitters of freshmen to tips from seniors on how to survive and thrive.

Now our returning and new correspondents are getting ready for a fresh year of high school – and of School Buzz, with more than 40 students ready to represent 17 local schools.

Heard about this too late? Interested? No worries. Click on School Buzz to apply to a school team or to start a new one. Or email associate editor Jordan Magaziner Steinfeld at jordan@thebuzzmagazines.com.

See below to learn a little about some of our 2015-16 correspondents.

Alexander-Smith Academy

Alec Born, senior, editor: “I have had the opportunity to visit all seven continents. I even had the opportunity to visit Cuba as a participant in a People To People program that emphasized its history, art and architecture. This was before the United States loosened the restrictions of the Cuban embargo, so every moment had to be accounted for and recorded. I have found that the best part of travelling is meeting the people who live there.”

Katy Boyd, senior, photo editor: “When I was in middle school, my friend told me about her photography class. I never joined the class, but I ended up buying my own camera and joining a photography camp at A&M Galveston. After my first year of camp, I fell in love. I couldn’t stop taking pictures and editing them online. I learned tricks and angles to take the ‘perfect’ picture. I’m excited about blogging because every picture has a story to tell.”

Denielle Braxton, senior, reporter: “Along with writing poetry and prose, performing was a close second when I used to participate in debate and speech tournaments. My urge to interpret and move an audience is not the only way the arts impact my life. Since age 5, I have competed nationally and internationally figure skating as a soloist and with my Theatre On Ice team. Something that would surprise most people about my school is that with a ratio of 5-7 students per teacher, in less than one week, you can probably talk to the entire student body.”

James Cravens, senior, reporter: “I first discovered my passion for writing in middle school during a number of creative-writing assignments. I enjoy drawing and art in general, specifically sequential art, and I even have my own comic. One thing that I love about living in Houston is the food, especially Tex-Mex and sushi.”

Cameron Kimmel, junior, reporter: “I’m not sure when I got into writing or photography; I just know that one day I realized that I enjoyed capturing images and expressing myself through words. I guess it’s a matter of self-expression. I’m still figuring that out myself, but I like to live by the phrase ‘nosce te ipsum,’ which is Latin for ‘know thyself.’ On a similar topic, I’m trying to learn coding, photo editing and sound/video editing. I plan to act on these ambitions next year.”

Bellaire High School

Liana Wang, editor, senior: “I’ve always been amazed by the power of the word – whether written or spoken. The shelves crammed full of novels in my room attest to that – my favorites include The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, The Color Purple by Alice Walker and Atonement by Ian McEwan. This year, I will continue on the debate team. I especially look forward to competing in the International Public Policy Forum, which combines my love of the written and spoken word. I look forward to another year of School Buzz, showcasing Bellaire High School happenings.”

Erin Rice, senior, photo editor: “I fell in love with photography when I was 12. I have thought about a career in photojournalism, so when I found School Buzz, I had to seize the opportunity to sample my dream job. I also will be playing varsity soccer for my fourth year at Bellaire as well as holding the position of president of the non-profit Leading Ladies. Many people associate Bellaire High School with the wealthy community that surrounds the school. However, Bellaire encompasses students from every cultural, monetary and ethnic background.”

Isabella Garcia, senior, reporter: “When I was younger I loved reading. One of my favorite series was Harry Potter and this opened me up to a world in which I still live in today. Over the years, reading evolved into writing. Something that would surprise most people about my school is all the clubs, including the normal clubs for languages and volunteering, but also less unusual clubs such as culinary and anime. There is a lot of student involvement in activities and officer positions.”

Angela Liu, junior, sports reporter: “Next year will be Bellaire High School’s 60th anniversary; Bellaire is one of Houston’s oldest high schools. It will be undergoing renovations the year after next. I’m both thrilled and nervous for the unknown. At school, I’m a member of the Carillon yearbook, on the varsity dance team and president of Bellaire’s Red Cross Chapter and Step Up club. I’m excited to join School Buzz and hope it exposes me to photojournalism, which is something I consider as a future career.”

Maya Kanani, sophomore, reporter: “Bellaire has over 3,000 students, but the student body is broken into smaller ‘families,’ making it seem like a more close-knit school. This year, I am excited to continue sharing the stories of our school, not only in School Buzz, but also in our school newspaper. In addition to writing, this summer I volunteered at the Houston Zoo for the third time. I love being able to share stories about my school with the community and am looking forward to another year with the School Buzz team.”

Sena Sarikaya, senior, reporter: “In elementary school, I wrote and illustrated a children’s book, and ever since, writing has fascinated me. I’m excited to be a reporter for School Buzz again. I’ll be able to explore and unveil different microcosms of my school. Did you know that Bellaire High School offers 128 clubs so everyone can find something that interests them? I love getting to meet people as I interview them because I get to hear a brand-new story about someone who lives in the same vibrant city, with a different perspective.”

Skarleth Velasquez, senior, reporter: “People would be surprised at how much diversity there is at Bellaire. Not only because we’re a language magnet school, but the students and staff come from all over the world. I’m so glad to go to a school where you meet people with different backgrounds and cultures. I hope to someday travel the world as well as meet new people and get their stories out there, through writing and photography.” 

The Briarwood School

Matthew Gregg, junior, editor: “This will be my second year writing for School Buzz. At Briarwood, I participate in football, basketball, track and field. Something that would surprise most people about my school is that Briarwood is a pretty normal school. Although we’re small and specialize in teaching kids with learning differences, kids still get the traditional high school experience with events like sports, drama and homecoming.”

Jordan Oakum, senior, reporter: “I learned to love writing in seventh grade, when I would write for the yearbook. I am excited to write for School Buzz because I will get the opportunity to blossom as a writer. I plan on running for executive council, playing golf for my third year and working on the yearbook staff. Most people don’t know that I love drawing.”

Carnegie Vanguard High School

Rukmini Kalamangalam, sophomore, editor: “I’ve always loved to write, as it gives me an outlet to express myself that little else can. Besides writing, I love to belt Broadway songs at the top of my lungs and write slam poetry with my teammates at Meta-Four Houston. Carnegie was my dream school when I was at Lanier Middle School. I can’t wait to show others what I love about Carnegie. Something that would surprise people about my school is although it’s academically focused, Carnegie has competitive sports teams.”

Duchesne Academy of the Sacred Heart

Andie Chilson, senior, editor: “Being a native Houstonian, I have grown up infused with the energy and creativity that the city is known for. Houston’s limitless mindset has cultivated my passion for writing, specifically journalism. Embarking on my second year with School Buzz, I am more excited than ever to represent Duchesne and all that it has to offer. Something that would surprise most people about my school is the substantial impact we have in our community despite our small size.”

The Emery/Weiner School

Amanda Barsky, senior, editor: “I’ve always loved to read and I’ve come to realize how much I enjoy writing as well. Something most people probably don’t know about me is that I love cleaning and organizing almost as much as I like tea. Something that would surprise most people about Emery is that most of our activities and traditions are created by students. The faculty listens to students’ ideas and implements them. For example, this past school year, a couple of students came up with the idea of having hot drinks before school. Within a month, Emery had arranged for a coffee food truck to come periodically.”

The High School for the Performing and Visual Arts

Seokhyun Baek, junior, editor: “My first interaction with writing was a fifth-grade assignment where we had to imitate one of the passengers of the Titanic in diary form, and ever since, I’ve been improving my skills. I’m in creative writing at HSPVA, and I joined School Buzz to try to bring more life into journalism by using emotions and taking a closer look at things rather than taking a bird’s eye perspective full of facts and figures. Houston is a prime place for this attempt because there’s a multitude of things to complain about and praise. Something that would surprise most people about my school is the collaboration between students who major in different art areas.”

Cyrus Pacht, senior, editor: “Born in the murky depths of the Mississippi River Delta, I was raised by an alligator and a she-wolf. The stability rendered by my parenting yielded an intense desire for adventure, and I quickly took to the streets. There, I made a decent living in the businesses of bookbinding and selling amphetamines. In a serendipitous twist of fate, I stumbled upon an anthology containing The Holy Bible, the Bhagavad Gita and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, which altered my path and led me down the safer route of literature. Today I pursue creative writing at HSPVA and practice writing through School Buzz – and would be happy to blur the line between the two. Among the uncommon and unsung aspects of HSPVA, the school’s balance between academics and the arts is worth mentioning, with about three hours per day dedicated to each.”

Incarnate Word Academy

Alexandra Parris, senior, editor: “Most people don’t quite know that the gray building next to Minute Maid Park, awnings a bright scarlet, is a high school rich with 145 years of history. Incarnate Word is part of what makes Houston such an incredible city, helping young women from all over the Greater Houston area learn and become superior leaders. I am a stage manager with our Falcon Theatre, an active participant in the IWA Vocal Choir and a tutor for students in English and French. Writing has been my rock, and I cannot wait to share my experiences with School Buzz.”

Lamar High School

Cameron Valenzuela, senior, editor: “I discovered my passion for writing in eighth grade while attending Pershing Middle School. I was enrolled in a journalism class where I soon became fond of literature and the ability to express myself through the power of words. I enjoy discussing and exploring controversial topics in my community. This year I will be one of the drum majors for marching band. In the future, I see myself becoming a pediatric dentist. The thing that I love most about living in Houston is the Tex-Mex that you cannot seem to find anywhere else.”

Ellie Delgado, freshman, photo editor: “I am the second oldest of a blended family with seven kids. I went to Roberts Elementary and Pin Oak Middle School, where I was on the yearbook staff. This year, I’m going to be a freshman at Lamar, where I will be a cheerleader. I have a passion for photography and have been lucky to travel to Paris, Nice, Yellowstone, Colorado and New York to capture some great shots. I am looking forward to sharing all the great things about Lamar – Go, Texans.”  

Dylan Jackson, senior, reporter: “I love to read, play sports and do community work at my church. Something that would surprise most people about my school is that Lamar is one of the only public schools with a uniform. Our uniform consists of a white or navy Lamar polo and a plaid or khaki skirt for girls or khaki pants or shorts for boys. My friends from other schools ask what it’s like to have a uniform and, as much as I would love to dress however I like, I feel that the dress code is enforced due to safety reasons. In the future, I plan to study criminal justice and law and become an attorney.”

Memorial High School

Rachel Amran, junior, editor: “I became interested in writing as a sort of balanced default with all the scientific and mathematic brainiacs in my house – my dad is a doctor and my mother an accountant. I am enthusiastic about journalism and, next year, will be a news editor for the Memorial High School Anvil. A fun fact about me is that I have a twin brother, and my older brother and sister are also twins. I’m excited to share my experience at Memorial through School Buzz.”

Natalie Lee, sophomore, photo editor: “Even though Memorial High School is academically focused, it is impossible to form a society with only future doctors and lawyers. There are many clubs that support a variety of interests. Next year, I will participate in journalism and the theater program as well as School Buzz. My interest in writing sprouted from my love of reading, including novels by Rainbow Rowell, Neal Shusterman and, of course, J.K. Rowling. A fun fact about me is that I was born five days before the school cutoff, so I’m going to start my sophomore year as a 14 year old.”

The Post Oak High School

Grace Armstrong, senior, editor: “As a senior, I will be returning to my position as student representative on the Community Council, the student government of my school, and will be busy completing college applications. I joined School Buzz because I love sharing stories about the amazing things my classmates and I get to do, and I get to read the stories of students from schools I have never heard of before.”

Robert M. Beren Academy

Adam Hoffman, sophomore, editor: “I have loved writing since I can remember. I plan to report on many activities, including basketball and tennis. I also look forward to joining Beren’s student organization, MAD Houston, and serving on the Model UN team. With 70 kids in the high school, students are close. Seniors can be seen hanging out with freshmen. The tight-knit atmosphere also allows for close relationships between teachers and students. I will concede that Beren may not include as many extracurricular opportunities as a larger school, but I would confidently choose the intimacy of my school over the former.”

Deborah Brown, junior, reporter: “I’ve known since I was little that I love reading and writing. In fourth grade, my classmates wrote four- or five-page ‘short stories,’ and my story was more than 20 pages long! Many of the activities that I take part in at school reflect my creativity and love of words, including the Beren drama society, the Model United Nations team, National Honor Society and No Place For Hate. I think people would be surprised at the range of clubs and activities that there are at Beren, a small, private Jewish school.”

Leora Geralnik, sophomore, reporter: “I discovered my love of writing through reading. Since a young age, I would read whatever was put in front of me and would write stories based on what I read. I’m excited to participate in School Buzz and further my writing skills. I will be on my school basketball team, and I also volunteer at Texas Children’s Hospital.” 

St. Agnes Academy

Frances Wheeler, senior, editor: “I discovered my passion for writing at a young age when I constantly wanted to write stories and poems for my friends and family. This year, I will be president of the business club and will participate in my school’s yoga class. Something that would surprise most people about my school is the academic rigor. This year, I will also be going through the college-application process. My favorite part of living in Houston is rodeo season!”

Natalie Farrell, junior, sports reporter: “I run cross country and track at St. Agnes. Most people think that since we are a small, all-girl Catholic school that we would be bad at sports, but we actually have many teams that have won state championships. I am also part of the yearbook staff, and that’s where I discovered how much I love writing and taking pictures. One fun fact about me is that my favorite animals are squirrels, and I collect squirrel objects. I am excited to be part of School Buzz and share my writing and pictures.”

Ellery Wheeler, sophomore, sports reporter: “My love for writing mainly began in eighth grade when I joined the school newspaper. This year, I am excited to be part of School Buzz because I can share news about my school and meet new people. I also plan to play basketball and participate in clubs. Something that would surprise most people about my school is that we all mostly get along, and there is rarely any drama between the girls.”

Anna Costantini, junior, reporter: “Since the days of Junie B. Jones and Magic Tree House, I have been a bookworm. My childhood summers weren’t spent practicing with my local swim team or vacationing at Disney World, but reading through piles of books stacked around my bed. When I ran out of books to check out at the library, I resorted to composing my own. In addition, I spend my free time baking, doing yoga and maintaining a slightly obsessive relationship with my phone. Something that would surprise most people about St. Agnes is most of the students actually love going to school without boys.”

Simal Mian, junior, reporter: “Something that would surprise most people about my school is that, although it’s relatively small, the passion of our students is anything but. The number of clubs and activities we offer would seem almost excessive if it weren’t for the people who actively participate in them. I am a member of a few community service clubs, including UNICEF, Lunches of Love and Key Club. This year, I will also be a part of Student Council on the Energy and Environment Committee. I’ve enjoyed writing from a young age, and hope to continue pursuing this interest through School Buzz.”

Sidney Phillips, junior, reporter: “Writing has been an important part of my life. I am excited to be part of School Buzz because it will give me another outlet to explore my interest in journalism. At school, I participate in speech and debate, library advisory committee, and theater at our brother school, St. Thomas. The thing that would surprise most people about our school is how cool our teachers are. For example, last year, our teachers and faculty got to be students for a day, following our schedule and wearing uniforms (yes, even some of the male teachers).”

Channing Smith, sophomore, reporter: “School Buzz piqued my interest because I want to open people’s eyes to the hectic world that is St. Agnes Academy. Last year I served as a sound engineer and part time producer for Veritas Television, the school morning show. When I’m not writing, I find joy in cooking and appreciating all forms of art. I love reading literary works that are thoughtful and introspective, across different genres. I look forward to developing my interest in all outlets of journalism and media production.”

St. John’s School

Christian Maines, junior, editor: “I have been an avid reader and writer from a young age, but I began to pursue journalism my freshman year and have been hooked ever since. Aside from writing for my school newspaper, I have completed fiction and nonfiction works on my own time and I compete on my school’s golf team. Something that would surprise most people about my school is that, despite its reputation as being perhaps the least athletic school in all of Texas, St. John’s regularly fields one of the best field hockey teams in the region.”

St. Thomas High School

Travis Carroll, senior, editor: “I’m the stereotypical, artsy, angsty, painfully self-aware music/theater kid, the kind of teenager for whom The Smiths made music. Or maybe not. I might not be apathetic enough to fit that stereotype. I have dedicated the majority of my high school career toward performing in the St. Thomas band, choir and theater department, as well as with HITS Theatre. My favorite role was Mal Bieneke in ‘The Addams Family’ at Miller Outdoor Theater with HITS Theatre. My ultimate goal is to become a professional classical singer, so I will study vocal performance in college.”

Peter Huggins, senior, editor: “I believe everybody has a voice that deserves to be heard, and writing is one way to put my opinions and thoughts into the world. I play football, basketball and lacrosse, participate in the Spanish club, and am a member of the Model UN team at school. I want to provide an unbiased view of what is going on at my school. I have always prided myself on finding and telling the truth. I look forward to providing a look inside the life of a St. Thomas student athlete.”

Strake Jesuit College Preparatory

Sam Clark, senior, editor: “Something that would surprise people about Strake Jesuit is that it doubles as an art museum. Strake’s campus is home to over 300 pieces of art, even work by Pablo Picasso. I play lacrosse and appreciate writing and photography. I love Houston’s rich, unique culture. What’s not to love about a big city built on a bayou? I especially like Houston’s music scene.”

Sam Kretzschmar, senior, editor: “I’m excited to participate in School Buzz again because it gives me the opportunity to show people what makes my school so great. Something that would surprise most people about Strake is its sense of community. I will be playing lacrosse this year and participating in the entrepreneurship club. A fun fact about myself is that I run my own power-washing business in my spare time. I love Houston for its vast variety of food.”

Stratford High School

Scott Kennedy, senior, editor: “I realized that I loved writing in seventh grade and haven’t stopped writing since. I joined our school newspaper, The Oracle, my sophomore year as a sports editor, and became an editor-in-chief my junior year. At Stratford, I’ve played football all four years, and I’m involved in Young Life, Fellowship of Christian Athletes and Student Council, which I will be the president of this year. Stratford feels more like a small town than a school. We call it ‘Stratford America’ because it has a unique culture that you have to be part of to fully understand.”

Taylor Brittain, senior, photo editor: “Stratford teachers and students work together, and our school spirit shines. I am a member of National Honor Society and photo editor for the school newspaper, The Oracle. I realized my love for photography when I was a freshman taking journalism and photojournalism classes. Last year, I took pictures on the sideline at football games, and I loved it.”

Westbury Christian School

Addie Symonds, senior, editor: “When I was a kid I really liked to read, and I still do, but I found myself getting frustrated with the stories and would write my own endings. For a long time I wanted to be an actor, but I realized I was more interested in the story than the acting. This year I am the vice president of the senior class, and I am active in the film club and the school plays. Even though my school is relatively small there are still many opportunities to get involved.” 

Madison Belcher, senior, reporter: “I discovered my passion for writing in my eighth-grade English class, where we were encouraged to write creative stories. I’m excited to share the student life of Westbury Christian School through School Buzz. I am senior class president and president of the film club, and I have participated in theater for the past five years. I enjoy filmmaking and writing scripts. I love Houston’s diversity and close-knit communities, and I hope to learn more about them.”

Editor’s note: Thank you to Bellaire High School for the use of its campus for our School Buzz photo shoot.

  • Ellie Delgado

    Ellie Delgado, a freshman, will be photo editor at Lamar High School. (Photo: hartphoto.com)

  • Matthew Gregg

    Matthew Gregg, a junior at The Briarwood School, returns for his second year as a School Buzz correspondent. (Photo: hartphoto.com)

  • Deborah Brown

    Deborah Brown, a junior at Robert M. Beren Academy, loves to read, write and report. (Photo: hartphoto.com)

  • Dylan Jackson

    Dylan Jackson, a senior at Lamar High School, is an aspiring attorney. (Photo: hartphoto.com)

  • James Cravens

    James Cravens, a senior at Alexander-Smith Academy, is passionate about the arts, including writing and drawing. (Photo: lawellphoto.com)

  • Rachel Amran

    Rachel Amran, a junior at Memorial High School, is news editor for the Memorial High School Anvil. (Photo: lawellphoto.com)

  • Jordan Oakum

    Jordan Oakum, a senior at The Briarwood School, realized she loved to write when she got involved in yearbook. (Photo: lawellphoto.com)

  • Grace Armstrong

    Grace Armstrong, a senior at The Post Oak High School, enjoys sharing classmates’ stories, especially as a member of the first class of her school. (Photo: lawellphoto.com)

  • Seokhyun Baek

    Seokhyun Baek is a creative-writing junior at The High School for the Performing and Visual Arts. (Photo: lawellphoto.com)

  • Ellie Delgado
  • Matthew Gregg
  • Deborah Brown
  • Dylan Jackson
  • James Cravens
  • Rachel Amran
  • Jordan Oakum
  • Grace Armstrong
  • Seokhyun Baek

More photos

Ellie Delgado

Ellie Delgado, a freshman, will be photo editor at Lamar High School. (Photo: hartphoto.com)

Matthew Gregg

Matthew Gregg, a junior at The Briarwood School, returns for his second year as a School Buzz correspondent. (Photo: hartphoto.com)

Deborah Brown

Deborah Brown, a junior at Robert M. Beren Academy, loves to read, write and report. (Photo: hartphoto.com)

Dylan Jackson

Dylan Jackson, a senior at Lamar High School, is an aspiring attorney. (Photo: hartphoto.com)

James Cravens

James Cravens, a senior at Alexander-Smith Academy, is passionate about the arts, including writing and drawing. (Photo: lawellphoto.com)

Rachel Amran

Rachel Amran, a junior at Memorial High School, is news editor for the Memorial High School Anvil. (Photo: lawellphoto.com)

Jordan Oakum

Jordan Oakum, a senior at The Briarwood School, realized she loved to write when she got involved in yearbook. (Photo: lawellphoto.com)

Grace Armstrong

Grace Armstrong, a senior at The Post Oak High School, enjoys sharing classmates’ stories, especially as a member of the first class of her school. (Photo: lawellphoto.com)

Seokhyun Baek

Seokhyun Baek is a creative-writing junior at The High School for the Performing and Visual Arts. (Photo: lawellphoto.com)

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