Archive for the ‘ Features ’ Category

Navajo Nation Teenagers not so Different from Tri-City Prep Students

By Anna Flurry

A fifteen-minute drive on the Navajo Reservation will give you a fairly accurate idea of what it’s like to visit a developing nation. Run-down shacks, stray dogs, and the occasional Hogan lined the highway. I couldn’t help but wonder if Many Farms High School and its students would seem as destitute.

As the car pulled up and we rushed to unpack my parents’ music equipment for their residency, I was pleasantly surprised to find a cheery red building trimmed with large, green and white triangles. “Many Farms High School,” it announced, “Home of the Lobos.” Still, I wasn’t sure whether to expect traditional Navajo-style dress or Abercrombie & Fitch.

First period began with a teacher introducing me to her Navajo language class. Seventeen faces glanced at me with mild interest, muttered hello. Typical new-girl stuff – except that I was the sole white kid in a school of 500 Navajos.

With that, the lesson continued, and I attempted to pronounce the 53 Diné – Navajo – consonants and vowels, which was not an easy task. However, I was surprised that the class was only at this stage of learning their own language. I would find out later that this is essentially the first generation to be allowed to speak Navajo in school since the Long Walk.

Throughout the rest of the day, I attended art, geometry, and computers. Without fail, every time a native Navajo speaker was the teacher, about a quarter to a half of the class was taught in the Diné language.

It seems that language is not the only cultural aspect that Navajo high school kids have lost. Clothes and styles are much more modern, as are household appliances, like cell phones and computers.

“I’m on YouTube half the time,” said Camille Crosby, a junior at Many Farms. Her friend, Cyriah Yazzie, a senior, added that Facebook was also a popular pastime.

For the most part, the lives of kids on “the Rez,” as it’s sometimes called, don’t seem too different on the surface. When asked about what a typical day would be like, Crosby summed it up in one word: “Normal.”

Only a few characteristics came out in the interviews that differed from those of non-Navajo kids. One example was the ceremonies performed.

“Our culture has all sorts of ceremonies for all different things,” said Crosby.

The “Enemy Way” ceremony was the favorite of another upperclassman, Leon Woody. This is essentially a healing ceremony for soldiers who return from war. It is used to keep them from being haunted by their memories.

“If you go to war, and you kill a lot of men, then you have to pay the medicine man to do the ceremony for the patient and give him money and livestock,” said Woody, explaining how the ceremony works. The “Enemy Way” lasts three days, and at the end, the soldier should be free of his or her “ghosts.”

Other than the ceremonies, there are other ways that Navajo teenagers spend their weekends. Crosby and Yazzie described one of their favorite activities: having a cookout.

“I have a cookout with my family every weekend,” said Yazzie. “We get together and play games, talk, and dance.”

Kids hang out around school during breaks. (Photo by: Anna Flurry)

When asked if they invited their friends to these events, Crosby and Yazzie said they didn’t.

“I just invite my nieces and nephews,” Crosby said.

The Navajo Reservation seemed remote, with nothing to do besides work and go to school. However, the students interviewed didn’t seem to think so.

“It’s actually pretty good,” said Yazzie. “In my spare time, I have more things to do. The city’s just too crowded.” She also noted, “It’s nice and calm [here], and you get to see stars.”

That doesn’t mean that high school kids aren’t willing to branch out. Crosby says she hopes to go to Japan some day, and Yazzie also hopes to travel, but they both agree that they will eventually return to the Navajo Nation.

I learned much from this trip. Despite its surface image as a poverty-stricken area, the kids who live on the Rez live similar lives to those of us on the outside. At the same time, though, they are very involved in their culture and families, and they are proud of their heritage.

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I first arrived, but now I know that the Diné high school students I met are a unique blend of cultures. As a mainstream American, I found myself envying their heritage. They are fully immersed in the trends of the world while maintaining strong connections to their culture and family.


Book Review – “The Son of Neptune”

By Taylor Whittemore

On October 4, 2011, a new novel by Rick Riordan debuted. The Son of Neptune is the second installation of The Heroes of Olympus series. This is a fictional novel that is written for entertainment. The Heroes of Olympus is a follow up to The Percy Jackson and the Olympians series.

The Son of Neptune is about three demigods from a Roman camp named Camp Jupiter. The demigods are Hazel, Frank, and Percy, and they all have mysterious pasts. Their quest is to release Thantos or Death. On their mission, they encounter monsters, gods and goddesses, allies, and an army.

This novel introduces both old and new characters, and many different concepts from the rest of Riordan’s novels. This makes the storyline hard to follow in parts of the novel. The novel is set in modern time. It takes place all across the west of the United States and Canada in famous cities.

The Son of Neptune is 373 pages on an eBook and 544 in hardcover. The novels in The Heroes of Olympus are much longer than The Percy Jackson series. The Son of Neptune is shorter than the first novel in The Heroes of Olympus, The Lost Hero.

Riordan tries to intrigue his audiences of all ages, so his word choice is limited. He writes simply, with an occasional “advanced” word embedded.

Throughout the book, Riordan gives the readers a view of the plot. He often describes the setting, but fails to use description. Therefore, the audience cannot picture the action clearly.

The Son of Neptune also has a complicated plot. These are many confusing plot twists, and events are spontaneous. However, the ending is very open, and leads into the next novel.

Despite these issues, Riordan keeps his audience intrigued. He uses comedy as he gives one of his characters a sarcastic attitude, causing laughs even in the intense scenes.

The Son of Neptune is a #1 New York Times bestseller, a USA TODAY bestseller, and a #1 Wall Street Journal bestseller.

Despite being a lower level novel, The Son of Neptune has an advanced plot. This made it enjoyable to read. Riordan also makes surprising connections with the characters, which the audience can relate to. Overall, The Son of Neptune is intriguing to read while curled up on the couch on a rainy day.

TCP Junior Wins Robotics Competition

By: Jacob Holevar

                       Robots; portrayed in hundreds of movies, from the small square robot that makes toast, to the humanoid shaped robot that is better than humans themselves. For many people robots are a mystery, what are the built out of? How do they move? How do they know where to move to? How do they know what to say? The list goes on, questions about how robots interact with their surroundings. Well, for a small group of middle and high school students, the robotic world became a lot clearer over the summer.

            This summer, Yavapai College hosted a free robotics camp in which students learned about robots and then built their own later in the course. Miles Mabey, a sophomore at TCP participated in the camp over the summer, and he and his partner won the competition at the end.

            Mabey wants to work in robotic engineering when he graduates from college and he said that the camp was a great program because there was no prior knowledge needed to enter the camp. He also said that he enjoyed the camp and that he would recommend it to others, his only complaint was that he wishes it could have been longer, because he didn’t want it to end.

            “It was an awesome opportunity and I’m glad I got to experience it,” said Mabey.

            The first portion of the camp was devoted to teaching the students how to build and program the robots, and all of the students had to learn how to program the robots using only line by line code.

            “It was cool because the leaders of the program taught the participants how to program their robots so that anyone could participate in the program,” explained Mabey.

Mabey and his partner used this to their advantage and programmed their robot to reverse direction if it was approaching an area where the ground was white. This was a tremendous asset during the competition, in which the robots try and push each other out of a white rimmed circle on a black mat.

The robot parts which came in the kit weighed three hundred and fifty grams, about 0.77 pounds, but the robots were allowed to weigh up to five hundred grams, 1.1 pounds, in the competition. This allowed teams to customize their robots to an even greater extent, did they want it to be fast and mobile, or did they want it to be heavier so it could push the other robot more efficiently?

            The robot kits came with no instructions, only raw materials, and it was left completely up to the students to build, customize, and program their robot.

            Although Mabey won the competition, when asked, he said that his favorite part of the camp wasn’t building the robots or watching them compete, but rather, learning about robots that are used in the industrial world.

            This camp is a great opportunity for anyone interested in robotics, and since no prior knowledge is needed, anyone can join. Yavapai College is hoping to continue the program next year and offer the camp again, but with two workshops for middle and high school aged participants.

            If you’re interested in robotics, Rick Peters, the Pre-Engineering Program Director can be reached at

Unhealthy Choices at the Student Store

Members of Student Council work the lunch rush in the Student Store (Patrick O'Conner)

by: Patrick O’Connor

It’s a normal Monday afternoon at Tri-City Prep. Students eagerly watch the clock during fourth hour, waiting anxiously for class to end. The bell finally rings and lunch begins. Many students flock to the student store, some to get their lunch, others to supplement their preexisting lunch. But how healthy is the food at the Student Store?

On the average day, there are twenty-five to thirty-five transactions made at the student store. Of these an average of four hundred to five hundred calories are purchased per transaction. Most experts agree that to keep a healthy diet you need to intake somewhere in the area of two thousand calories a day. The calories purchased at the Student Store alone are not enough to send students over this limit; however most students don’t eat what they buy from the store alone but rather use it to supplement other foods. While not all items sold at the student store are unhealthy, enough are that the average transaction contains twenty-five percent of your daily value of fat.

In one day, Poptarts were ordered the most out of any food products. Depending on the type of Poptart, they contain three hundred and ninety to four hundred and twenty calories. They contain seventy-five grams of carbohydrates which equals about twenty-five percent of the recommended daily value. They have thirty-three grams of sugar and ten grams of fat. Poptarts contain very little nutritional value because they have minuscule amounts of vitamins and minerals and are extremely high in carbohydrates, fat, and sugar. Due to this, these items are quite unhealthy on their own, especially if you eat more than just Poptarts for lunch.

Cup of Noodles were ordered the second most frequently. They contain two hundred and ninety-six calories. They also contain fourteen grams of fat and six grams of saturated fat which is twenty-two percent and thirty-one percent of the recommended daily values respectively. In addition the contain one hundred and forty-three milligrams of sodium which is sixty percent of the recommended daily value. This is especially important because having too much sodium in your diet can lead to dehydration, elevated blood pressure, and even kidney disease. Cup of Noodles contain little to no nutritional value but, unlike Poptarts, are not commonly used as supplements to a greater lunch.

Candy and ice cream were also commonly bought. Both of these items are high in calories, sugar, and fat but low in nutritional value. Many students bought multiple candy bars or ice creams to have with their already packed lunch, making their meal especially unhealthy. While not all the items sold at the student store are unhealthy, the most commonly sold items are. Though the choice to live healthy is ultimately up to the students the student store does not seem to be encouraging a healthy diet by selling such items.

One of the easiest ways to make sure you are eating a healthy lunch is to pack it yourself. Monitoring the nutritional value is easy when you pack it the night before. For eating healthier at the student store try to avoid the candy, microwaveable items, ice cream, and Poptarts. These items tend to be the highest in calories, fat, and sugar and the lowest in nutritional value.

When asked about making healthy changes to the Student Store, Rachel Winters, the Student Council store manager, was very interested. “I want to make the school healthier, and I think it’s very important for everyone to eat healthy,” she said.

One anonymous student said, “Students have to realize that all through life there are unhealthy choices for food. You have to condition yourself, and that is what the student store is teaching us, that the quick and easy food isn’t always the best choice. It comes down to common sense and for the student to decide what is best for them.”

If you want to eat healthier at the student store stick with the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and the Baked Lays. For even healthier food on campus you can buy Naked Juice from the Green Team, which has a serving of fruit in each bottle and is high in nutritional value. Hopefully the students at Tri-City will help to promote a healthier diet.