The Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders

Features/Showcase/Staff

New Teacher, New Beginnings: An Interview with the New 9th and 10th Grade Teacher

Every single year there are new teachers joining the Ann Richards family. They are welcomed with new names to learn and new learning styles. Normally teachers are introduced to students in the beginning of the year; however, this year, a new teacher was introduced to the ninth grade physics class and tenth grade biology class in the middle of October. This new teacher was Ms. Kimberly Desautels, coming to replace Ms. Sierra Dixon who left after the first semester.

Before coming to Ann Richards and becoming the physics and biology teacher, Desautels was teaching at Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls where she taught Biology, Anatomy and Physiology. Desautels is from a small farming community in the panhandle called Seymour, Texas where she taught at Seymour High School, Western Texas College, and Vernon College.

“I’m not from Austin, I’m from North Texas from a really really small town. I miss my co-workers from up there, my family is up there but the people in Austin are also really friendly, so I like the people that I’m getting to know here too. It was kind of scary from living in a small town to living in Austin. The people here are really awesome and it actually does feel like home,” Ms. Desetal said.

Whenever someone comes to Ann Richards, they can tell there is something special about the community and the environment of the overall school. Some of these special things about the school are the unique methods of teaching, the challenging course load and the standards of the school. This was something that Desautels had to get adjusted to.

“The routines here are really different than at other schools, there’s not that many textbooks here [and] that’s really different for me. Some of them are little things like that,” Deautels said. “A lot of the things are just things that you don’t know about, and they are not written down anywhere so it’s hard to learn what’s going on.”

Every teacher wants to help their students as much as they can, if this is by adding a new way of learning into the classroom so the students understand lessons better or simply answering as many questions to the best of their abilities. Teachers are always looking to contribute something to their students learning. Because Ms. Desautels taught at a college before coming to Ann Richards, she has a unique experience that is useful to her students.  

“Since I’ve taught at a college for a few years I feel like one of my huge contributions is knowing what students need in a college science course so that kind of helps me plan objectives for our course here,” Ms. Desautels said.  

Students had to get accustomed to a new teacher after just having a different one before and an already known teaching style. Desautels adds just how challenging it was for students and herself to get accustomed to the new environment.

“At first it was hard but a bunch of the students were still really friendly with me but they had to get used to me and I had to get used to them, so at first it was really really really hard,” Ms. Desautels said. “After Christmas break, I made some changes in my classroom, and I think my students were ready to adjust to a new teacher finally then too, so then we all just adjusted to each other and so far this semester is going by so much better.”

Ms. Desetal says that her most challenging transition period was around Christmas Break. Not knowing if students were going to get adjusted was one of her main challenges.

“At Christmas there were moments where I thought I couldn’t make a difference here and just wasn’t going to be accepted,” Desetal said. “But during Christmas, several students wrote notes in Christmas cards to me saying how much they appreciated me and what I was doing, and that was just a turning point in where I realized that I was doing better than I thought I was, that the students were open to changes after all.”

Getting adjusted to a new school is difficult, and is even more difficult at Ann Richards where the community is so tight knit. Desautels gives some advice for new teachers in the future that she has learned through having had a difficult first semester.

“Take a deep breath and just hold on. That as rough as it is to get started and get adjusted to all these routines and new ways of doing things that it does truly get better.”

Entertainment/Showcase

Culture Cuisine: Our communities’ holiday recipes

As you wake up, the smell of the delicious food trails you down the stairs to a loud living room full of your loved ones. The one thing we all do is head straight to the kitchen, incessantly asking, “When is the food going to be ready?” Whether you’re waiting for that hot pozole just hugs you or you wake up to the smell of french toast being made, you know that the holidays are coming. Whichever holiday you celebrate, we all know that one dish that we look forward to during the holiday season. Many cultures celebrate the holidays a bit differently; three people were interviewed about dishes they love to enjoy during the holiday season.

French Toast: Andi Cannon (7)

“The reason we like making it a lot is because it’s just a simple feel good feeling memory and we all share it and it’s a really big family tradition that matters to us whenever the holidays come. This tradition came from my dads side and it was just passed down through the generations. I started learning about this tradition when I was ten, everyone while making this has a certain role but it changes every year.”

Recipe:

Ingredients:

1 teaspoon brown cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon of ground nutmeg

2 tablespoons sugar

4 tablespoons of butter

4 eggs

1/4 cup milk

1/2 cup maple syrup

– Directions
Fry slices of toast until golden brown, and you got a homemade recipe!

 

Spritz (Spritzgebäck) Cookies: Georgia Ringstaff (9)

“I make these cookies with my mom every year during the holiday season. They’ part of my Grandma’s recipe book… they originate from Germany. The cookies are light, crispy, delicate, and delicious! They’re my favorite treat to have on Christmas Day.”

 

Recipe:

Ingredients:

1 cup butter

1 cup powdered sugar

2 1/2 cups flour

2 egg yolks

1/2 teaspoon of salt

2 teaspoons of almond extract

– Directions

Cream the butter and sugar together

Then add the flour, beaten egg yolks, salt, and almond extract to the mix

When the dough is mixed, put some of it in the cookie press*

*If the cookie-dough is overly chilled, it can get too tough to press

The press should have a star shaped tip

Make ‘S’ and ‘O’ shapes out of the cookie dough

The ‘O’ shaped cookies should have a ‘Christmas wreath” appearance

Once all the cookie dough has been shaped, place it on a sheet lined with parchment paper

Bake at 400 degrees for 10-12 minutes

The cookies tend to bakequickly, so watch carefully

They should not brown!

 

Pozole Recipe : Kaylee Cervantez (8)

“I like making pozole because it brings back memories to when my grandma used to make it for me and it has always been a tradition within our family to make pozole for the holidays. For some people eating or making pozole gets boring but for us, it’s something we will always enjoy. Also, my mom says she enjoys eating it because it feels like as if she was in Mexico again and brings back old memories.”

 

Recipe:

Ingredients:

2 pounds of pork cut into medium sized cubes

6 guajillo chiles cleaned and strained like in the Barbacoa tacos recipe.

6 cloves of garlic

1 tomato

Salt and Pepper to taste

1/2 onion

1 teaspoon of oregano

1 teaspoon of cumin

2 bay leaves

– Directions

Cook the pork meat in sufficient water (ensuring that the pork is completely covered with an inch or two to spare) with 1 clove of garlic, 1/4 piece of an onion (not diced), the bay leaves, salt and pepper.

Once the meat is cooked through, remove the bay leave, onion, and garlic clove, and add the hominy and bring to a boil for 15 minutes.

Blend the remaining 5 cloves of garlic, the guajillo chilies, the tomato, another 1/4 piece of the onion, the cumin, the salt, the pepper and 1/2 cup of hominy (to thicken the sauce) in a blender until completely blended.

Once the above mixture is blended, strain the mixture and add the strained liquid to the boiling pot with the pork and water. Season with oregano and add salt to taste.

Let boil 15 minutes longer.

Serve hot, topped with chopped lettuce, onions, radishes, and a few drops of lime and finally the homemade tortilla chips.

Our Voices/Showcase

The doctor’s out: Administration bans classic shoe

Lily Yepez (12) in Doc Martens. Photo by Gus Flores-Rascon.

In a romanticized version of our school, grey socks and chipped nail polish are a heroic act of disobedience against a uniform made by a tyrannical administration. In reality, we couldn’t find any clean socks in uniform, and we’ve picked off our nail polish while nervously taking a test. I’ve never been great at following the uniform, mostly because I don’t like to do laundry, but I’ve accepted demerits without argument when it comes to dress code offenses. The uniform is pretty comfortable – if you keep your skirt unbuttoned- and easy to follow. Most of the time, it’s not worth arguing with admin over whether or not your earrings are too distracting.

Therefore, it’s understandable to get a demerit for wearing cowboy boots or thigh high leather stilettos. Those types of shoes are loud, distracting, high maintenance. But what about practical, undeniably comfortable and waterproof Doc Martens? They are a classic, much like Converse, that are so popular among ARS high school students in solid black. I’ve worn black Doc Martens since the beginning of this school year, but I was forced to return to my flimsy, worn out Chuck Taylors when I was informed a full semester into the year that my reliable Docs were not in uniform. My Converse, which I bought three years ago, are so faded they’re basically dark green, but apparently that’s better than my Docs.

The specific uniform violation I committed was wearing “boots.” Every winter, admin crackdown on boots as students try and wear winter boots to school. Prior to the wave of winter boots, nobody had a problem with my Docs. There are a handful of students who have also sported Docs, some longer than I have, without anyone bringing up a uniform violation.

First of all, I don’t think Docs even qualify as the boots the ARS dress code mentions. Maybe Docs cover the ankle, like many boots, but so do high top sneakers. Docs have laces just like tennis shoes, and they have a heel like any supportive footwear. Docs may resemble typical work boots, but they’re hardly ever worn by blue collar workers. Similarly, you can call Converse tennis shoes, but I don’t know anyone whose athletic shoes of choice are Converse. Doc’s have been claimed as an everyday shoe that is versatile and appropriate for the office, traveling, going out, or school.

Second of all, this whole new attack on Doc’s may not be just about the dress code. It may be political. Since their popularization in the sixties by British Skinheads – a subculture of working class Brits who loved reggae and ska music – Doc Martens have been a symbol of rebellion against the man. They’re ugly, industrial and the opposite of sophistication and the upper class. Instead of kneeling to the bourgeoisie by imitating their style, Skinheads wore work boots as a badge of pride in their working-class roots. Through the decades, Doc’s have been adopted as signs of rebellion. To admin, Doc’s not only “violate” the uniform, but also have connotations of societal defiance and nonconformity.

Now days, a new pair of Docs can cost over a $100, but they are still a common shoe of younger generations, perhaps because of retro style and thrift store trends that make them more accessible. For example, I’ve had three pairs of Docs, all of which I bought used for under $45. It may appear as if Docs have become a luxury item, but with clothing recycling they aren’t hard to come by at a good price for broke teenagers.

There is solid reasoning in banning a clothing item that is recognizable as a sign of rebellion: it clashes with the idea of sisterhood and students working with teachers for the same goal. However, if admin embraced Docs, and they became as widely worn through out the ARS halls as Converse, then students would gain a cohesive image of empowerment. In a way this currently banned shoe could be a physical representation of the school’s commitment to fighting for change.

Entertainment/Showcase

‘Ye or nay: Why Kanye’s wrong about thinking for himself

One thing that surprises people who know me well is that I love Kanye West. My Spotify account is eclectic at best, ranging from 50’s Motown to 60’s rock to 80’s pop, all the way to more recent music that fits under the general guise of “indie.” Kanye West holds his own special place in my album collection – I have always loved how Kanye mixes his songs with intention, his deliberation bleeds from the frequency waves. In “Drunk and Hot Girls,” he samples “Sing Swan Song” from 70’s band CAN for the titular line, a song that’s mumbling, ambiguous lyrics only feeds to the hazy frenzy West describes. On the album Yeezus, Kanye utilizes samples to juxtapose past injustices with modern day black experiences. What he chooses to say in his songs is only enhanced by what he adds to it – he cherry-picks lines, beats, and samples to create songs that transcend into works of art and become powerful.

From an artist who I’ve always respected for his deliberation, his awareness, and seemingly close analyzation of lyrics and mixes, Kanye’s recent media stunts have seemed haphazard at best. The lyrics from the 2016 song “I love Kanye” have never stuck out more.

Starting on April 21, he began tweeting and retweeting messages from the far right, leading followers to question his political leanings. On April 25, his behavior escalated –  Kanye went on a twitter rampage, announcing his love for Trump, and posting pictures of himself in a “Make America Great Again” hat. In a May 1st appearance on TMZ, Kanye stated mid-interview that slavery “sounds like a choice.” Amid the controversy, West just added fuel to the fire, dropping two songs: “Ye versus the People,” a collaboration with rapper TI in which the two debate Kanye’s political views, and “Life Yourself,” a song which samples the Amnesty track Liberty over the lyrics “Poopy-di scoop/Scoop-diddy-whoop/Whoop-di-scoop-di-poop/ Poop-di-scoopty.”

Kanye’s interviews, lyrics, and tweets are full of contradictions. In one tweet, Kanye offhandedly mentions “I’m not political.” However, he raps, “ever since Trump won, it proved I could be president,” and tweeted simply “2024,” building on his VMA speech where he first announced his intention to run for President. He acts like his suddenly expressed admiration for Trump occurred organically, and says in the TMZ interview, “I felt a freedom in, first of all, just doing something that everyone tells you not to do.” In his song “Ye Vs The People,” which was released the day he publicly endorsed Trump, he says, “Make America Great Again had a negative perception/I took it, wore it, rocked it, gave it a new direction.” Kanye’s version of the narrative seems to be widely off from reality, considering the backlash he received. Did he assume by endorsing Trump he would lead his fans towards doing the same? And, of course, the main contradiction Kanye keeps sticking to is a message of “Love Everyone.” But by coupling a message of acceptance of individuals with the act of embracing one of the most divisive administrations in recent history, Kanye sets up yet another contradiction in his behavior.

I’m a huge advocate for respecting the political beliefs of others – I understand that everyone is different and, as long as their beliefs don’t inhibit the basic human rights of others, should be able to vote and act as they see fit. But I also see no problem with discussing said beliefs. Even if two people leave a conversation unshaken in their stances, friendly political discussion can help us see the ‘other side’ as more human. Understanding “why” can lead to understanding of the individual. And this is a key issue with Kanye’s tirade – contradictions in his own messages imply he isn’t listening to what others have to say, including TMZ’s Van Lathan, John Legend, and others have attempted to explain to him. At this point, his behavior isn’t “free thinking” – it’s deranged and misinformed. And, as an influential figure, we must hold him accountable for it.

Part of holding Kanye accountable means twisting the narrative away from excusing Kanye’s behavior as side effect of mental illness. First, while Kanye opened up about his history with mental illness in an interview with Charlamagne tha God, he explained that he’s “stronger than ever.” But, even if Kanye was in a worse-off place, the reality is that supporting Trump is not a byproduct of an underlying condition – the implication is harmful to individuals with mental illness, as it undermines their political participation, and democracy itself. After all, saying that aligning with any individual because of mental illness simplifies the election process and discredits any valid reasons why someone might support a controversial figure. This prevents any value we may gain from analyzing why Trump was elected and what we can do to prevent it in the future. In Kanye’s case, attempting to project the blame onto his history doesn’t hold him accountable for the choices he is making as a powerful member of society. As Trevor Noah pointed out, those on the far right and white supremacists will use Kanye’s endorsement of Trump as a way to excuse their behavior.

In the TMZ interview, Kanye tells reporters, “We’re taught how to think, we’re taught how to feel, we don’t know how to think for ourselves.” As Lathan pointed out, West isn’t breaking any sort of government-taught brainwashing. By refusing to engage in a dialogue about his most recent forthcomings, Kanye isn’t thinking for himself. I’m not sure what worse – if he’s not thinking about the repercussions his actions have, or if he has, and doesn’t care. But as a public figure, we must hold West accountable for the messages he is broadcasting. Given the release of his new album, I’m both apprehensive and excited to see what he says next.

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