So Long, Seniors!

As the school year comes to an end, the A-blast family must say goodbye to the amazing seniors. Thank you all for your endless hard work and dedication. You guys made A-Blast fun and successful. Good luck in the future, may your lives be filled with happiness and prosperity :)

Katie Pope, Weekend Editor

BINQI CHEN: Co-Editor in Chief Years on staff: 4 (staff writer, in-depth, editorials editor) College: Georgetown University Major: Human sciences on pre-med track Favorite Memory: Having to tell Mr. Kelly that I would have to miss yet another TOK class because we have to finish the paper. It killed me inside in the worst way every time. Joining: I just needed an elective and we used to read The A-Blast in middle school. Advice: Don’t cry over The A-Blast, this issue will pass. You will get your quotes, pictures, and stories. You won’t get along with everybody, but at least be a decent person. Don’t waste Weintraut’s time. He will catch your mistakes. Personal Story: I wrote stories as editorials editor about how problematic Trump was and an underground conservative blog came for me every single time. I was the star feature of his website for a few months. Awards: 1st place VHSL for Feature/In Depth spread.
GRACE HOGYE: Managing Editor Years on staff: 4 (staff writer x2, sports xtra editor) College: Virginia Commonwealth University Major: Environmental sciences Favorite Memory: Fares and I accidentally sprayed pepper spray in the Pub Lab while we were working on the first issue. We took Binqi’s travel sized pepper spray and we sprayed it out the window, but the wind blew it back; it was a very painful experience. It was funny afterwards though. Joining: I thought it would be cool to be part of something that was well-known and would give me a voice in the community. Advice: Spread out your work load so you aren’t super stressed on deadline week. Have fun and talk to the other editors, because you’ll meet really cool and funny people you wouldn’t normally meet. Personal Story: Because of The A-Blast, I was able to travel to Indianapolis and San Francisco for journalism conventions, which was really fun. We won awards at both conventions.
ASEAL SAED: Co-Editor in Chief Years on staff: 4 (staff writer, in-depth editor, editorials editor College: University of Pennsylvania Major: Undecided Favorite Memory: When Weintraut left the room at around 7 p.m. on a Monday once, people started panicking because no one could find him. Five people started crying. People were having mental breakdowns, it was a mess. Weintraut came back casually an hour later. Joining: I signed up for journalism because I had two sisters who did The A-Blast. Advice: Work on your page at home, life will get tough if you don’t and deadline week will be very stressful. Have fun with your stories and double check them before giving them to an editor. Personal Story: One time, Yvonne made posters that said, “Aseal sucks” all over the Pub Lab. I hated it, because the entire class and anyone else who uses the Pub Lab saw them and it was embarrassing.
LINA ALTAII: Entertainment Editor Years on staff: 3 (staff writer, international editor) College: Virginia Tech Major: Sustainable biomaterials Fav Memory: The Indianapolis trip junior year, because I got to explore a new city.Joining: I wanted to get a good co-curricular activity on my college applications Advice: Count on yourself to do your page and do it ahead of time. Personal Story: My first year I tried to transfer out of the class for a month and my counselors said, “no.” Now I am glad they did, because The A-Blast was a big and important part of high school for me and I got to meet so many people!
JACQUELINE CLAROS LOPEZ: Staff Writer Years on staff: 1 College: NOVA Major: Languages Fav Memory: My favorite memory is from when Aseal lost her phone and everyone accused Grace of stealing it. Then, they were going to make wanted posters for her. Joining: I didn’t know what else to choose when selecting classes, and Journalism seemed like a good pick. Advice: Find topics that you like to talk about to maximize your enjoyment in the class. Personal Story: One time we were playing fun Friday and after we won, we got a whole bunch of junk food from a box. The boys were vultures and left me a single Kit Kat.
DIEGO FELICIANO: News Editor Years on staff: 2 (news editor x2) College: George Mason Major: Languages Fav Memory: When we went over the feedback papers from other classes and they complimented my page. Joining: It was a last minute decision, because I like to write though so it fit well. Advice: Do your work quickly and get it up online as soon as possible. Personal Story: I translated a lot of the news pages into Spanish and it was a lot of fun for me. People liked the uniqueness and diversity of it and I’m glad more people could read the paper.
PABLO GAMARRA: Staff Writer Years on staff: 1 College: Longwood University Major: History Fav Memory: Going on the field trip to the Newseum in D.C. back in December 2017. As we walked into the Newseum, we got to watch a short movie and walk around looking at stories. Joining: I read the info on The A-Blast website and it intrigued me, so I switched my elective to Journalism. Advice: For staff writers, make sure to put long quotes in your stories that are unique. Personal Story: When we did Secret Santa gifts around the holidays, I got a $15 gift card for Buffalo Wild Wings.

SERENE GHUL: Photo Editor Years on staff: 3 (staff writer, arts editor) College: UVA Major: Biology on pre-med track Fav Memory: I thought Weintraut said I could PDF and he was like “Where do you think you’re going?” I turned back around in shame as everyone laughed. Joining: A lot of my friends were in it and I have always enjoyed writing. Advice: Make sure to get your work done ahead of time cause staying after school can be really time consuming. Personal Story: One time I went up against a senior as a sophomore for Fun Friday and we were losing up until the picture round, where we claimed the victory Awards: Best story, first to pdf, and best photo

TJ GONZALEZ: Staff Writer Years on staff: 1 College: NOVA Major: Broadcasting Fav Memory: At the start of the year, I wrote a piece about Kendrick Lamar and how he deserves a Pulitzer Prize for his album “DAMN.” He ended up winning the prize for Music in April. Joining: I wanted some experience from the school newspaper. Advice: Jude is a prude so be careful with him. Writer’s block is inevitable, so take a break from what you’re writing to see if you can re-word anything, it might spark something. Personal Story: On the San Francisco trip, I decided to go out past curfew to watch A Quiet Place. I got away with it until Jude accidentally ratted me out to Ms. Hanneman on the last day, so I couldn’t see Isle of the Dogs later. Awards: Staff writer mvp
RUTH MEKONNEN: Editorials Editor Years on staff: 4 (staff writer x2, in-depth editor) College: George Mason Major: Law Fav Memory: Weintraut left the room; the editors were there late, so everyone freaked out because we had to publish that day and we weren’t finished yet. Joining: I’ve always had a passion for writing and knew it would be the perfect place to become a better writer. Advice: Try not to cry whenever Weintraut yells at you. BE CONFIDENT. Personal Story: Whenever I think of high school, the only thing that comes to mind is The A-Blast because it really is my home. The friends I’ve made and the memories we’ve shared will stay with me forever. Awards: Best layout
GENISIS LARA PALACIOS: International Editor Years on staff: 1 College: NOVA Major: Biology Fav Memory: Tiana crying on deadline: The first deadline we ever had was so funny because Tiana was so stresssed out that she started crying. Joining: I did yearbook at my last school, so I wanted to try out something new. Advice: The A-Blast is a platform, make the content you write your own. It’s a great opportunity to share your voice. Personal Story: Interviewing for the The A-Blast helped me a lot, especially talking to teachers and students. Starting conversations and knowing what to say has become easier for me.
TIANA REAMS: International Editor Years on staff: 1 College: Frostburg University Major: Nursing Fav Memory: Crying during my first issue while everyone laughed at me. It was my first time as an editor and it was a lot of work, but it became easier throughout the year. Joining: My friend made me join. Advice: Do your work on time, or else you will have to spend even more of your free time in the pub lab after school and at night. Personal Story: Working on the newspaper with my partner, Genesis, has given us time to learn a lot about each other, including the fact that she likes tacos just as much as I do. This makes her my favorite friend.
KAVI SHAMDIN: Academics Editor Years on staff: 3 (staff writer, arts editor) College: Virginia Commonwealth University Major: Pre-med biology Fav Memory: Weintraut’s dry jokes in class, for example, his “your mom” jokes aimed at Fares’ mom. Joining: I heard it was an easy A if you stay on top of your work and it looks good on college applications. Advice: Make sure you work on your page during class because deadline creeps up on you REAL quick. Personal Story: Aseal bothers everyone in class except for me, because she says I’m scary. It’s funny because no one’s ever called me scary or intimidating looking.
RACHEL SHOGREN: Health Editor Years on staff: 4 (staff writer, academics editor) College: University of Delaware Major: Exercise Science Fav Memory: As much as I hated it, fighting with Weintraut was a lot of fun, because I always won. Joining: I knew a lot of older kids that did it and they said it would look good for college. Advice: Stand up to Weintraut because he is challenging. Also, learn to crank out stories quickly so you can PDF first. Personal Story: The A-blast gave me an opportunity to write about things going on in school and in our community, which is something I am really grateful for. Awards: First to PDF (multiple times.)
HALLEY THADEUS: Weekend Editor Years on staff: 4 (staff writer x2, academics editor) College: Virginia Tech Major: Political science Fav Memory: Getting into yelling fights with Cam about who does more on the page, when realistically we do about the same amount. Joining: Some of my sister’s friends told me the class would look good for college. Advice: If a man on the street denies you, there’s always hope, so keep trying to convince them. Personal Story: One time I was hiding under a table in the Pub Lab with Nicolle during a fire drill because we were too lazy to leave.
NICOLLE URIA: Entertainment Editor Years on staff: 1 College: George Mason Major: Communications Fav Memory: In San Francisco, I was giving money to a blind homeless man who wasn’t really blind. He called me “ma’am” before I said a word. Yvonne grabbed me and didn’t let me get scammed. Joining: Aseal had mentioned how fun The A-Blast was and how they do all sorts of cool things and so I thought, “Hey may I should join for my senior year!” Advice: Have someone copy edit your page as soon a you’re done, so you can PDF first. Also, have Jude on your team for Fun Fridays for a guaranteed win. Personal Story: After missing school because of SOTU, I came back to all my classmates cheering and clapping for me. It was a very loving and supporting moment.
YVONNE WHITE: Copy Editor Years on staff: 3 (ad manager, circulation editor) College: NOVA Major: Undecided Fav Memory: Going to San Francisco and bonding. Also, hearing from Stoneman Douglas’ publications during the parkland shooting and their reaction. Joining: I heard everyone can easily get an A as long as they prioritize their work. Also, I joined for the great community. Advice: Get your work done a good week before the publication date, so you have time so get your page thoroughly edited and any big mistakes fixed. Personal Story: There was one day in the lab where I was just restless, so I decided to tape papers that read “Aseal sucks” all over the pub lab. She loved it. Awards: Staff MVP