The Riches of Saunière by Acacia Rains

Acacia Rains


Honors English 2

5 September 2017

The Riches of Saunière

She was sitting in a cafe.

She sat next to a dirty window with a black coffee, laptop, notebook, and the picked over remains of a mediocre pastry. She pressed a few keys on her laptop, scrolled down a page, scribbled in her notebook – researching, maybe? You shifted in the ancient burgundy booth to better see what she was doing. She switched through several sites and forums, and you could see the name Bérenger Saunière repeated consistently across multiple pages. You leaned a bit further, and noticed that name again, written in big block letters in her notebook. It was underlined and circled, above a couple dates and numbers – 1892, 660,000 F, 1910-1911, 105 F. You looked down, thinking. Was she researching for a book? Was she an author or something? Or did she know? Maybe she was just a harmless cryptid hunter… Rennes-le-Chateaú did seem to be attracting a fair amount of those these days… You scratched the back of your neck under your hoodie, and your musing was abruptly interrupted by the sound of the girl jumping up and throwing her chair back in the process.

Your head snapped up – this couldn’t be a coincidence. She slammed her laptop closed, and clumsily shoved both it and her notebook into the messenger bag leaning up against her chair. She fumbled her bag onto her shoulder, and threw a twenty franc bill onto the small, unstable table. On it sat the long-cold coffee, whose cup was in turn balanced on the crumb-ridden pastry plate. You slid out of the booth, quickly, but being careful not to get up so fast that it would call attention to yourself. You fished a bill out of the pocket of your dark jeans, tossed it onto your empty table, and strode out the worn, once artificial-cherry-colored door.

You emerged from the café, and squinted in the piercing midday sunlight. You turned your head left and right, blinking and trying to pick out which way she went. You caught a flash of a dark blue flannel disappearing into a dingy alley, and ducked after her, flipping up the hood of your sweatshirt.

She wandered through the cramped alleyways, prowling past neon signs and boarded up stores, which slowly but surely turned to cobble-paved lanes and century old roof tiles. You followed her past the old stone brick walls, down the street, and into the Rennes-le-Château.

Once inside the dimly lit castle, she ducked around worn stone columns of dubious structural integrity and passed under equally trustworthy arches. She snuck through the hallways, pausing to inspect every crack and oddly shaped scratch on the wall. Yeah, you thought. She definitely knows. There is no way this is a coincidence. You reached into your back pocket and retrieved an ornate dagger, with a gilded handle and an edge so sharp it could cut a single blade of grass laid on it. You slid it into your sleeve – you might need this very, very soon.

You suddenly noticed that the doorless, windowless passageway you were following was getting brighter. Please let her be leaving, you thought, but you knew this castle too well to believe otherwise. Sure enough, she turned a corner, and there it was. The door. You sighed quietly. Now you had no choice.

From inside the door, there emitted a golden glow, throwing exaggerated shadows onto the walls behind her. She gasped, and slowly approached the door, with one hand resting on her messenger bag and the other outstretched. As her fingers grazed the doorknob, a hand whipped out of the shadows to grab her wrist. Your hand. You pulled her sharply away from the door, and she stumbled backwards. “I’m sorry, but I can’t let you in there,” you murmured sympathetically.

She spun around, and for the first time you saw her face. She was pretty, with messy, soft looking hair and striking emerald eyes. It really was a shame that she had gotten involved. But who were you to decide who to spare? She drew in a sharp breath and her eyes darted frantically around the room, from your hand on her wrist, to the glowing door, to the exit. She tried to tug her arm away, but your grip was too tight. You flexed your wrist, allowing the knife to fall from your sleeve down into your hand. She struggled even harder, straining and pulling more and more in a frenzied panic. “Nothing personal, it’s just that you know too much,” you said apologetically. “If it helps, I’m sure you’re a lovely person…” She fruitlessly attempted to yank herself away one last time, and her phone fell clattering out of her pocket and onto the cold stone floor. “Goodbye,” you said simply. You raised the knife, and she screamed.


You knocked on the door, and a frail but authoritative voice from inside said, “You may enter, and approach the throne.” You pushed open the door, and fell to one knee. “It is finished,” you stated. The voice laughed softy. “Well done, my child. You may rise.” You raised your head to see your leader, clothed in elaborately embroidered robes and a mask of gold. The man sat in a throne hewn from a solid block of marble, inset with precious gems and metals. Around him were piled riches expressed in in every way one could imagine – jewelry, candelabras, crystal goblets, oriental rugs. You met the dark eyes behind the mask, and the man said once more, “My child, well done.”


Her phone vibrated, jumping up and down on the cold stone floor. It buzzed and buzzed and buzzed, eventually buzzing to a stop. After a few seconds, it switched to the caller, who began to leave a message. Through the muffled speaker of the iPhone, the most recent of seven calls and four messages from her roommate could be heard. “Uh, hey Maia, where are you? It´s like two AM and you’re still not home and I’m like getting really worried. If you’re staying somewhere else for the night I get it but like… you haven’t answered any of my calls from the past three hours. …Uh, I brought home takeout and I was gonna save some for you but uhhh, I got hungry again so I ate it. …Sorry. Um, if you get this- er, when- whenever you get this, gimme a call back or shoot me a text or something, but uh, stay safe, and I love you I guess. Seeya.” The phone screen went black, and never lit up again.


Auroville, India by Katie Sharp

Katie Sharp

Mr. Bearson

Honors English 2

5 September 2017

Auroville, India

A cool breeze blew through her window, shimmying the pale pink curtains above her.  She felt the wind slither up her arms in the form of a shudder.  She was awakened by the bright moonlight that stretched across her bed, and into her eyes.  She swung her legs over the side of her twin bed and stood in the small room.  Glancing over at the calendar that fluttered quietly on the wall, she saw that it was July 5th. She had missed her little sister’s 19th birthday.

It was 5:17 AM, so she got dressed, descended the stairs, and silently slipped out the back door.  She closed her wooden front door and as she turned around, nearly ran into a tall girl standing in the threshold. The girl was wearing a t-shirt, jeans, and red converse shoes, and for a moment didn’t look at all familiar.  After taking a closer look, she saw that this girl with sandy blonde hair was Adrienne, her little sister.  

For the past seven months, Lauren lived and worked in the quaint township of Auroville, India.  She wrote apologetically to her family, explaining why she loved living in the culture that lived so fluidly and purely, without conflict, but understanding, and how sorry she was for not coming home when she said she would.

Her plan had originally been to float around India and Sri Lanka for a year, photographing everything she experienced.  She passed through Rajkot, to Madhya Pradesh, and West Bengal.  From there, she had travelled south to Sri Lanka, and stopped for a short while in Puducherry, but once she caught wind of the City of Dawn, she couldn’t resist seeing the town for herself.

Now, with Adrienne in front of her, she was speechless.

“Well hello,” said Adrienne with surprise, “I didn’t know if this little clay shack thing is where you’re staying, but I guess it is.”

“Wha-what are you doing here?” Lauren asked, still bewildered at her little sister’s presence.

“What?  No birthday wishes?  Nevermind, this can be your gift to me.  I’m here to take you back to Sacramento with me,” smiled Adrienne.

“What?  No way.  I came here to create a photo journal of “The City of Dawn” and I’m not leaving until I’m finished,” she stated adamantly.

Adrienne began to frown and said, “But, Lauren, this place isn’t what you need.  You hardly know anyone here, and you never visit home.  You need your family.”

“Sorry Adge, but I won’t be done for at least two more weeks, and I’ve been considering moving here permanently even after I’m finished.  I love it here.  The people are all so genuine and loving.  It’s perfect, and totally unlike Sacramento.”

“Oh.  I thought you would… Well, I’m in town all week, if you change your mind.” Adrienne said as she turned away.

On the last day of Adrienne’s visit, Lauren explored the town with her baby blue polaroid camera in tow, and captured the grimy side of Auroville found in the sector Tamil Nadu.  She walked up to an old building that looked abandoned and disheveled and pushed the metal door open with difficulty. As she entered, the graffiti covered walls appeared around her.

After climbing three flights of worn down, dusty stairs she found herself at another door, or rather, drapery.  Someone was whispering in the room behind the thin curtain, so she gently pulled it open.  A quick glance revealed a middle-aged man in slacks and a grey shirt clutching a knife that was thrust to the hilt in the chest of a young woman.  Her bright yellow t-shirt was drenched in blood.

With great effort, Lauren stifled a terrified gasp that tried to escape her lungs. She had never seen a dead body before.  She reached very slowly into her saggy knapsack for her camera and peered through the viewfinder.  Everything was distorted for a moment, but then came into focus as she took a deep breath and pressed down on the shutter release.  What seemed like a very loud click came  from the camera, breaking the silence, and the man snapped his head around in Lauren’s direction.  She turned on her heels, clambered down the stairs, through the hall, and past the heavy door.  After running for two blocks, she ducked behind a cluster of Neem trees.  She carefully peered around the branches of sticky, green leaves to see if she had been followed.

She located the man, who was nearly 300 yards away.  He didn’t see her until she moved from the protection of the greenery and raised her camera again to snap a photograph of his face.  Their eyes met momentarily, but then she broke into a sprint with the man pursuing closely after her.  As she glided back into the center of town, she was lost from his view.

She ran to the small town hall and delivered the photographs to the secretary sitting calmly at the front desk. The secretary hurried to the back room where she made copies of the photos, handed them back to Lauren, and told her that they would look for who was responsible, but not much could be done.

Back at home, she slammed the door behind her and sank to the ground.  Tears began to run down  her cheeks.  She began to realize that this place, her home for the past seven months, was not what it seemed.  She thought that this was a beautiful place of peaceful existence and freedom from religious prejudice, but this murderous, terrifying pit of despair she found herself in now was not what she had signed up for. After seeing the lifeless form of the young woman, she felt that there was no way to forgive this place for its violence.  She knew now that Adrienne and her parents were right about her need for support from her family from the beginning.

She stuffed her duffel bags full of the few things she had acquired over the past seven months and headed out the front door, still clutching the photos she had just taken.  With the hope that she wouldn’t be too late, she inspected the boarding pass that had been left on her doorstep three days ago.

At the airport, she rushed to her gate and saw that the door hadn’t been closed, but would be soon.  She hurried to the attendant and handed over her boarding pass.  She climbed on the plane and found her seat, but Adrienne wasn’t in hers.  Lauren sat down, and thought that she was just running late, like her.  She buckled her seatbelt and tried to relax, but was nervous that Adrienne wouldn’t make the flight.

Now that there was a moment to breathe, she glanced down at the photos in her hands, but this time, after looking a bit closer, she saw something she hadn’t seen before.  The girl in the photo was wearing red converse shoes and had sandy blonde hair just like Adrienne…

Lauren bolted up from her seat, but lost her balance as the plane began to move and a calm tone came over the speakers saying,“Ladies and gentlemen, we’ll be taking off now, so please remain seated, and we’ll be in the States soon…”

The Fearful Guardian by Sophia Karperos

Sophia Taylor Karperos

Mr. Bearson

Honors English 10/Period 6

5 September 2017

The Fearful Guardian

Jordyn steps out of the faded yellow building, roughly identical to the other squat structures on the street.  She strolls down the abandoned block to a dirt walkway, her black skinny jeans turning more brown with each dusty step.  Soda and beer cans litter the ground; candy wrappers and plastic bags flutter in the air.  Jordyn pads across the gravel as she begins her first-ever guard-patrol of the newly expanding Sinaloa drug base.  With every step, every rustle of rocks, dirt swirls upwards, shading the walls a dusty brown.  She drags her hand over the concrete symbol, over the graffiti marking the alley as Juarez Cartel territory.  Jordyn moves her fingers away, stained dark from the grime.  Hands clench, sharp fingernails dig into soft palms.  Tighter, tighter until wine-red blood breaks through peach-colored skin.  

Her feet, enveloped in once white Adidas, continue along the pathway.  The flat soles meet the ground with a crunch.  But suddenly, it’s not only her shoes disturbing the quiet alleyway.  The sound of nearing footsteps echo off the walls.  

She swivels her head around, searching.  Her eyes rest on a crack snaking down the concrete.  The footsteps come closer.  She reaches toward the crack, squeezing her body to fit in the tiny space.  Her shoulders rise as she struggles to breathe.  Jordyn tucks her bold blue hair behind her ears and stills her body to listen.  Whispers fill the alleyway.  Whispers about the Sinaloa Cartel, about its threat to the local Juarez Cartel.  She glances down at her forearm, inked with a cursive red S, a reminder of her loyalty.    

Her fingers fall to the gun on her hip, stroking the trigger to calm her shaky hand.  She steadies her breathing: deep breath in, deep breath out.

Placing a hand on either side of the crack, she pulls herself out of her hiding spot.  Jordyn sees the skulls on two of the men’s arms that mark them as members of the Juarez Cartel.  She grabs her gun, daring the surprised gang to run away.  Pausing, her finger dangles above the trigger, indecisive.  But then, Jordyn snaps her finger down and a bullet races towards the chest of one of the enemy.  The man presses a hand to the wound, but the blood rushes past his fingers and drips down his shirt as he falls to the ground, still.

One down, two to go.

A moment, a split second, and the others in the group charge at Jordyn.  The first of them swings his arm back to punch, but she smacks his chest.  The man falls onto the gravel, a loud crack echoing down the alley.  Jordyn’s eyes widen when she notices the blood trailing from underneath his head.  

Two down, one to go.  

A woman fighting unarmed approaches Jordyn.  She boxes Jordyn in, forcing her backwards into the corner.  Jordyn raises her hands and drops her gun as the enemy laughs.  The woman swaggers towards Jordyn, but, as she reaches to grab her by the neck, Jordyn swings her elbow at the woman’s face.  The woman ducks and wraps her arm around Jordyn’s waist, swinging her into the wall with a thud.  Jordyn whacks her head backwards into the woman’s jaw and follows through with a hard step on the woman’s foot.  The bones in the foot crack as the woman falls to the ground, fainting in pain.  Jordyn stares down at the woman, then picks up her gun and fires at the woman’s heart.  A final gunshot to end the battle.  

Jordyn walks slowly across the alleyway, surveying the members of the Juarez Cartel that she killed.  She brings a finger to her lips and licks it, using it to wipe the blood off her gun.  Then, reaching into her pocket, she pulls out a small can of red spray paint and draws a large S over the old graffiti, identical to the one on her forearm.  The red sprays on thick and drips down, spreading like the blood of her enemies.  

She gazes at her work a moment and starts walking at a brisk pace down the alley.  Chin up, shoulders straight, the corners of her mouth betraying the faintest of smiles.  This is Sinaloa territory now.  

ESCAPE FROM PENZA-19 by Jared Hamersly

Jared Hamersley

Mr. Bearson

Period 4



ESCAPE FROM PENZA-19: A descriptive essay of classmate Lindsay Whitworth in Zarechny Russia (formerly known Penza-19 before the fall of the Soviet Union)

Dreaming Big

Lindsay Whitworth aspires to win a gold medal in gymnastics at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan.  Her mother, Victoria, the silver-maned matriarch of the Whitworth family is Lindsay’s biggest fan and would love nothing more. When she’s not in training, Lindsay relaxes in her bedroom after school listening to music—High School Musical is her favorite.  She also enjoys playing Hayday on her Ipad, and watching Sidemen on  On the weekend, she chills with her friends at the local burger joint, Willie’s.  She’s looking forward to wearing her favorite midnight black romper and beat up Converse All-Star high-tops this weekend.

Lindsay cherishes her family and simple life in Carmichael, California, but she dreams of bigger things.  She imagines herself driving her dream car, an iridium silver Range Rover with chrome 22s, and living a glamorous and exciting life far away from the humdrum of Sacramento. She has no idea just how to get started in living up to her grand aspirations.


World Traveler

“Beep . . . beep . . beep . . . OH, JUST GO AWAY! . . . I hate that stupid alarm clock!”  Lindsay yelps in her grumpy voice.  Okay, so she’s not exactly what you might call a morning person, but today is the big day.  It’s Friday, the twenty-second of September.  Lindsay and Marcie Joe Thomas, another aspiring Sacramento area gymnast, will be jet setting halfway around the world to a gymnastics event in Moscow, Russia.  Lindsay secretly views this as her first step to stardom.


Passport, tickets, itinerary…check, check, check. are all accounted for.  Lindsay’s  all packed, but she’s far from ready to go.  She still has a few mental loose ends to tie up.  Lindsay’s never flown on an airplane before.  The thought of flying 30,000 feet above the ground absolutely terrifies her.  She dreads the thought of being so far away from home in a strange land, but she also knows that she will have to overcome such phobias to realize her dreams.

“Three, two, one, blast off,” Marcie Joe whispers in her ear.  Lindsay is not amused.   “Ready or not here we come, Moscow.”  Marcie Joe proclaimed.  Lindsay slid her hand up from her mouth to cover her eyes, leaned forward slightly, and reached for the folded white bag inside the seat back in front of her.  A few hours later, when the nausea subsided, Lindsay nodded off.  


Prisoners in a Foreign Land

A tall, dark-haired man with ghost-like grey eyes is standing in the aisle of the plane shouting incessantly in a raspy voice.  It sounds like gibberish: “Ne delay nichego glupogo, i nikto ne postrada . . . . Ne delay nichego glupogo, i nikto ne postrada”   “Huh? What?” Lindsay was suddenly startled awake.  “What on earth is going on, Marcie Joe?”   “OMG!  He has a gun!!!!”  

Bronia Bierwicz, the Polish gymnastics coach traveling with Lindsay whispers in Lindsay’s ear “Please, try to calm down, I think we are being hijacked.” Coach Bierwicz explains that the man is speaking Russian and saying, “Don’t do anything stupid and no one gets hurt.”  


“Attention, this is your captain speaking.  The plane has been um, uh, diverted and will soon be landing in Zarechny, Penza Oblast.”  Lindsay thinks to herself, “Where on earth is Zarechny, Penza Oblast?  I’ve never heard of it.” She was not alone.  Zarechny, formerly known as Penza-19, is a remote closed administrative-territorial formation, commonly referred to as a “closed city,” in the former Soviet Union. No foreign visitors are allowed into Zarechny without the permission of the Russian government—and that never happens.  Zarechny’s main employer, Rosatom, manufactures nuclear weapon components for the Russian government.  


About thirty minutes later, the plane began its final descent into Zarechny.  The captain came on the speaker again, “Brace yourselves, we’re in for a bumpy landing.”  Apparently, the runway at the Zarechy airport had not been maintained for more than a decade.  The jumbo jet slammed to the ground and bounced like a yo-yo.  The reverse thrusters began to roar before the jumbo airliner finally bounced to a stop.  Before anyone could celebrate this miracle,  a group of ten or twelve men carrying what looked like AK-47 rifles boarded the plane and began placing canvas potato sacks over the heads of all the passengers.  Lindsay was terrified! All 96 of the passengers were all led off the plane and boarded onto a large tractor trailer truck.  After they were crammed in like sardines, the door was slammed shut.  The stench of livestock permeated Lindsay’s nasal cavity going directly to her brain.  The truck drove for nearly three hours before coming to a stop.   

Things Go From Bad to Worse

The close quarters made it very difficult to breath.  Lindsay struggled to expand her chest cavity and draw in enough oxygen into her lungs.  It grew colder and colder as the hostages remained in total darkness in that truck for more than a day.  The following evening, one of the armed men opened the door about twelve inches and slid in a tray of three loaves of bread and plastic liter jug full of water.   How would this possibly feed 98 people?  It couldn’t.  Lindsay privately thought to herself “I would die for a cheeseburger and fries” while the rest of the passengers were, no doubt, merely hoping not to die and would have gladly settled for one more morsel of bread just to stay alive.  


The crack of daylight soon shined through a crevice in one of the ceiling rivets.  Morning had arrived.   Lindsay had not slept a wink that night.  It was impossible to get comfortable on the cold and hard wooden floor and Lindsay worried she might never awake again if she closed her eyes.  Gore, a toe-headed eight-year-old lad and the only child among the passengers had no such problem.  This all must have seemed like a game to a child.


The lack of adequate nutrition was beginning to wear on us.  Most of the passengers could barely move a muscle that day as they sat motionless on the truck floor.  Lindsay could tell it was night again because the crack of daylight shining through the ceiling rivet faded and then disappeared.   A few hours later, Lindsay heard the sound of the men approaching the truck.  She crawled towards the truck door and leaned against it to listen in on what the men were saying.  Just then, the door sprang open and Lindsay plummeted to the ground nearly six feet below. “Umph!” You could hear the air rush out of her lungs.  A scrawny young guy with murder in his eyes quickly approached Lindsay.  He then pulled her up by the hair and pointed his rifle right in her face.  


“Cron!” shouted a big burly man with a black woolen beard. The other men froze in their tracks. It was clear that the burly man was in charge, as he waved his hand downward directing Lindsay to get down.  “Syad’te! Syad’te!”  he barked.  Frightened for her life, Lindsay dropped to the ground.  The big man then received a message on the radio attached to his belt. A raspy voice rang out.  It sounded like the tall, dark-haired man with ghost-like grey eyes who had hijacked the plane.  “Problemy bistro,” he shouted through the radio in a troubled tone.  The big man then pointed to the door and headed out. The others quickly fell in line.  The scrawny guy looked back at Lindsay on the way out and muttered “Durak,” which roughly translates to “fool” in English.  


Lindsay’s close call earlier that evening and the dwindling rations of food left the passengers with an increasing sense of urgency.  They knew that they would have to figure something out soon.  Staring up at the ceiling of the truck each night in her sleepless daze, Lindsay had somehow noticed a ventilation hatch.  


The diameter of the ceiling vent was barely larger than Lindsay’s shoulders and the ceiling was more than 12 feet high.  Lindsay asked two of the taller male passengers, John Peterson and Henri Lamond, if they could hoist her up to the vent so that she could use her gymnastics skills to open the vent and swing through the opening to escape.  A few hours later that evening, the plan was put into action. To her surprise, the vent came off rather easily and Lindsay was able to pull herself up and out of the truck.  


Lindsay laid frozen for nearly 20 minutes up on the roof of the truck as she tried to figure out the timing of the lighthouse-like spot light shining from a distant structure.  The search light shined upon a fence in the distance and large factory of some sort just beyond.  It was then that Lindsay saw a white metallic sign with large red letters that read “Опасность! Радиоактивная область за пределами. Нарушители будут расстреляны без предупреждения! “   She recognized the Cyrillic alphabet and knew that it was used by the Slavic people of the former Soviet Union, but she had no idea what the sign said.  Lindsay would later learn the translation to English “Danger!  Radioactive area beyond.  Trespassers will be shot without warning!”

Lindsay somehow managed to go undetected up on the roof of the truck.  When she was sure that no one is watching and the search line was shining the opposite direction, Lindsay leaped from the roof and stuck the landing as she had done dozens of times in her balance beam dismount.  

Lindsay’s hands were now trembling in the bitter cold, but her palms were getting sweatier by the minute.  Here mind wandered, “Where on Earth am I?  How on earth did I get to this wretched place?” She had to get a grip.  Run . . .  run” she thought, but her legs would not respond.  “Kerpow,” she heard gunshots ring out.  It jolted her into action.  She raced for the forest tree line like her life depended on it—because it did.  The forest was nearly two miles away, but the rush of adrenaline made it feel like a 100-yard dash.  


Grandpa Joe’s Training Comes in Handy


Lindsay heard the roar of a large vehicle approaching her.  The light shined just above her as she dove into the pile of leaves in the forest floor.  The smell of mildew was overwhelming.  Cold and afraid, she lied motionless as the light of the full moon glistened on nearby stream.  


When Lindsay was a little girl, her Grandpa Joe, a World War II veteran, taught Lindsay Morse code.  She recalled how she had once read an article in Popular Science which explained how to “hotwire” a mobile phone to send Morse code from any location in the world and turn it into a homing beacon for use in case of emergency.  Lindsay retrieved her rose gold Iphone 7 from her tattered pocket.  She pried off the with her fingernail, rerouted the microprocessor interface cable, and shorted the SIM card in sequence to squelch out an SOS signal in Morse code before converting the device to a homing beacon and hiding it under a pile of slate stones.  


Exhausted and starving, she started to nod off in her foliage cocoon.   “Rat, tat, tat.”  The sound of automatic machine gun fire rang out for nearly an hour off in the distance near the truck.  Lindsay is too tired and afraid to emerge from cover.   She fell asleep.  When day broke, Lindsay could see a red, white, and blue flag waving from an armored personnel carrier and a dozen or so Navy Seals surrounding the truck where the hostages were being held.  It was then that she realized that her plan had worked and the nightmare was finally over.  


Home Sweet Home


Two days later, Lindsay, Marcie Joe, and the rest of the hostages arrived home in Sacramento.  As the fierce Delta breeze whipped her long silvery locks across her face, Lindsay’s mom waited anxiously with the rest of the huge crowd at the SMF tarmac, She was so proud of her little girl.  Most of all, she was so relieved to have her back home safely.    


Lindsay got her wish that day. She is now quite famous, but not in a way she ever imagined.  The mayor of Sacramento presented Lindsay with a key to the city and American Airlines gave her a check for $100,000 to reward her for her act of heroism.   The next day Lindsay wore her midnight black romper and Converse All-stars on the Today Show. She had arrived.


A few weeks later, things began to return to normal.  Lindsay arrived home after school and was greeted by the aroma of fresh baked Nestle Toll House cookies. She grabbed a couple and headed back to her room to play some Hayday.  That next morning, she listened to High School Musical before heading out with her mom to the Roseville auto mall to get that iridium silver Range Rover.  


As she drove off the car dealer’s lot, she could hardly believe that she was really driving her dream car.  She pinched herself to make sure it was real, and then shouted out the window “Hey mom, come hang out with us at Willie’s for a cheeseburger and fries.”  Lindsay could not help but think to herself “Boring never felt so good.”


25 Short Digital Stories Produced on Smartphones For Your Viewing Pleasure 9.21.17

Annalee Gorman shows us daily life at the Mirada:

Hannah Thompson shows us around shop class:

Making us aware of Attendance Awareness Month by Amelia York:

Breck Paschal promote Attendance Awareness Month with Miranda’s Day Off:

In this video editing how-to tutorial, Liam Harris shows us how to use a green screen in Premiere to create a spinning banana:

(Audio)Mr. White’s tells the story of his Best Day Teaching on his hike at Mount Lassen by Zainab Abbas:

(Audio) Katina Chapralis’s tells the story of her Worst (and Best) Day teaching school to Mahlet Ababa:

(Audio) Mr. Spencer’s Worst Day Teaching as told to Macolin Irvine:

(Audio) Mr. Freund’s Worst Day Teaching by Amelia York:

Amelia York satirizes students too cool for Homecoming:

Mahlet Ababa and Zainab Abbas show us how to prepare a French Braid for Homecoming:

Connor Kinder-Ebersberger and Joel Spaid show us how to ask someone to Homecoming:

Connor Kinder-Ebersberger and Joel Spaid show us how to dance appropriately:

Hannah Thompson offers a tongue and cheek alternative to Homecoming.

Will and Jacob Engleburt show how to slow dance at Homecoming.

Roman Perez teaches us how to ask a beautiful girl to Homecoming:

Liam Harris is clearly frustrated with the wifi at Rio:

Photography Passion by Bailey Munion:

Amelia York gives us Rio Americano’s MTV Cribs Edition:

Vincent Stirling’s short crime comedy: The Appearing Chair:

Connor Jang is  interviewed by Josh Zezzo:

Interview with Chloe by Josh:



















Introduction Survey for Mr. B

I love to hike and mountain bike in the Sierra Nevadas. In 2014, my son and I walked 220 miles from Yosemite Valley to the top of Mount Whitney in 25 days. We plowed with our heads bent through  17 days of storms. When it was sunny, we jumped in lakes.  We made lots of friends, including animal friends. Here’s a pic of my son Nate as we climbed toward Forester Pass (13200′):

2014-08-05 19.17.10 (1)

In 2016 I did it again going the other direction. It was harder because I was alone for most of the hike. I much prefer hiking with friends and family. My family met me at Devil’s Postpile and together we walked the rest of the way back to Yosemite (60 miles or so).

I’m also a fanatical mountain biker. I have a dual suspension GT Sensor and Trek Stache hardtail that I take up to Tahoe every weekend when weather permits. I’m not that good or fast, and I don’t do crazy stunts, but do absolutely love the way mountain biking keeps me focused in the moment.  Also, it helps keep me fit. These are pictures of my mountain bike buddies Roy and Al. We are all old goofballs.

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The other thing I love to do is make stuff with kids. I like telling digital stories with my students, and have a side gig as a producer. I’m good at the writing part and can edit well enough, but I’m no tech wizard. My students teach me a lot about the tech. I teach the Video Production class here at school where we focus on how to tell good stories with little equipment and no money. Here’s a movie I made a few years back at Bella Vista when we had some good cameras. The kids were great actors!

Of course I also love reading books and teaching kids, but that’s kind of obvious since I’m an English teacher (and have been for 20 years).  Before I was a teacher I did a lot of crazy stuff. I worked in radio, did a stint as a private investigator in San Francisco, and even owned and aircraft parts business for 7 years. People like to ask me “What is your favorite book?” and I often have no good response. I tend to love the book that I am reading at the moment because if I’m not loving it then I put it away forever. I mean, there are too many great books in this world to waste time reading mediocre ones! My daughter Lily thinks this cat looks like me.

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I do have a special talent. If you play baseball I can look at you and guess what position you play with 90% accuracy! I don’t know why I can do that, but it seems to work. I guess it’s not really a talent. In fact, it may very well be a delusion I have. Still, try me. I bet I can guess your position.

My life is pretty good. I love my family and my job, but I would be lying if I didn’t cop to a few unfulfilled dreams. I want to mountain bike across Africa, complete the Iditarod with a bunch of friends (not win it, just do it), and spend the rest of my life (after I retire)  traveling with my wife, and writing about it. Wouldn’t that be nice?


Translations 2017

This year Video Production produced original video translations of Rio artists, poets, composers and photographers. All work shot, edited and rendered on their personal smartphones. The process was:

  1. Choose a composition, poem or piece of art from the Translations event hosted April 4th in the library.
  2. Translate it into a piece of video art. The goal was NOT to illustrate the other work, but to give it a fresh interpretation based on your own reading. Here are some highlights:

Parker Bosley:

Edward Verdugo:

Emily Hegland:

Adelyn Fowler:

Matthew Sutherland:

Megan Ferris:

Liam Harris

Alex Nash:

Amy Deshong:

Gabi Noack:

Blake Bepler:

Victoria Salazar:

Kaitlyn Ketsdever:

Ryan Maves:

Vlad Stanyak:


Extra Credit

Many teens nowadays are known to get very little sleep. This in turn leads to poor school performance academically, and mentally. Research has shown us that California schools alone, have a vast amount of kids that begin school at a time that does not go along with their schedules. More research also shows that a lack of sleep can lead to serious health consequences. These consequences include a high risk of type 2 diabetes and other cognitive deficits. A bill as of now is in the process of being passed which will eventually expect middle school and high school students to attend school no later than 8:30am.This bill is expected to become law by 2020, but depending on each school, it could take 2 extra years to adjust.


Student Experiments in Multimedia Storytelling CONTACT: