Senator Square: Unplugged and loving it at Carson High

CHS teacher Billy McHenry and his students Bryce Peterson and Kathryn Jeffries.

CHS teacher Billy McHenry and his students Bryce Peterson and Kathryn Jeffries.

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CHS celebrated its second annual Carson Unplugged event this past week where staff and students were encouraged to unplug from technology and be present in the moment, enjoying more face-to-face interactions and less screen time. Sponsored by the Social and Emotional Learning committee, students and teachers engaged in conversations about how much screen time they experience on a daily or weekly basis and the benefits of reducing screen time. “It’s OK to Put Your Phone Down: People would rather be on their phones than engage with other people,” says author Steven Hopper. Go to to read the entire article. Throughout the week, students touched on the five standards of SEL, and many unplugged by turning off cell phones Tuesday, turning off video games Wednesday, disconnecting from social media Thursday and then reflecting and “rebooting” Friday. Each day featured interactive lunchtime events, including FCA’s root beer giveaway, table tennis, street artists, ASL sign-a-song, and a variety of musical performances throughout the week.

“Some students suffer from ‘Fear of Missing Out’ (FOMO) because of what they see on social media,” said CHS Principal Tasha Fuson, and “Some find themselves checking their phones at inopportune times, such as during face-to-face conversations, walking down the halls or during a class; technology is a useful tool, and at the same time, when we rely too heavily on it, we lose connection with the world around us.”

Tuesday’s unplugged theme was “Be Brave: Unplug from Your Cell Phone”, and students got to know people while listening to the musical performances of the CHS Concert and Chamber Choirs during lunch in Senator Square. The reason for unplugging comes from blogger Joshua Becker: “Life, at its best, is happening right in front of you [and] these experiences will never repeat themselves ... If we are too busy staring down at our screen, we are going to miss all of it.”

The Carson Unplugged theme Wednesday was “Be Brave: Unplug from Your Video Games.” Students took a break from the video games at lunch and enjoyed the ASL sign-a-song in Senator Square; they also played some table tennis in the North Foyer, and board games in the Tech Center. “Be Brave: Unplug from Social Media” was Thursday’s theme, and students logged off of Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram. Time Magazine reports that heavy social media users often feel frustration and sadness caused by “comparing themselves socially to their peers” and not getting enough “likes.” At lunch, students enjoyed the Midnight Blues Jazz Band in Senator Square and the street artists in the North Foyer drawing caricatures. Friday’s Carson Unplugged theme was “Be Brave: Reboot and Reflect,” and students reflected on how much technology they used in the past week, how many hours they spent posting on Snapchat, how many minutes they spent using their phones and how much time they engaged with their friends in face-to-face conversation.

Writer Erica Murphy summarized the need to unplug from technology: “I realized that when I put down my phone and picked up my head, the people I saw were entertaining, [and I] mostly miss out on all of it.” For more information about CHS and SEL, visit


For the seventh year running, the CHS business program hosted its annual Shark Tank competition. Over the course of a few months, students in the business program developed an original business plan and then presented it to CHS business teacher, William McHenry. After presenting their plans, McHenry decided who would go on to the Shark Tank competition. Winners from McHenry’s A1 class are Bryce Peterson and Katie Jeffries with Holiday-in-a-box, a holiday decoration service. From his A3 class, Kennedy Redican and Natalyn Wakeling won with 21 Cupcakes, a cupcake shop with 21 different flavors. From his A5 class, Cameron Rice won with RTR Bikes, bike repairs and tours. From his AB55 class, Kevin Lopez De Dios and Julio Caballero won with Digital Copy. From his B4 class, Jonah Dodd, Miguel Duarte and Nataly Mendoza took home the gold with Rapid Charge phone charger. Finally, from his B6 class, Bradley Wiggins and Jens Robinson took home the gold for the second year in a row Advantage car restoration. The CHS business program is grateful to their sponsors: Greater Nevada Credit Union, the Hop & Mae Adams Foundation, Youth Positive, and Chipotle for sponsoring and judging the competition.


CHS junior Gloria Valdenegro was recently selected as Miss Battle Born’s Outstanding Teen at this year’s Silver State Sweeper Pageant through the Miss Nevada Scholarship Organization. As a titleholder, she will now serve as an ambassador for her own personal platform, Giving the Gift of Reading: Promoting Literacy in America’s Youth, as well as an advocate for the Children’s Miracle Network. With this information, she would like to invite everyone to participate in the #ChildrensHospitalsWeek from March 18-24 by making a generous donation through her All proceeds through her account stay locally at Renown Regional Medical Center in Reno, Nevada, and she thanks people in advance for their contributions. Also, companies looking to promote their business in the 2019 Miss Nevada Program book, through Miss Battle Born’s Outstanding Teen, please contact Tiffany Kenison at 443-7743 or for more information.


Superior ratings were awarded to CHS Concert Choir and Chamber Choir at the Washoe County School District high school Choral Festival where they listened to other ensembles all day and then performed, earning all superior ratings from the three adjudicators. Concert Choir and Chamber Choir members performed throughout the week as a part of CHS Unplugged during lunchtime for all students to dialogue with one another as they enjoyed their lunches and all the amazing performances.


Gov. Sisolak proclaimed March as Developmental Disability Awareness Month, and CHS students working at the Senator Snack Shack demonstrated their ability to make and sell delicious drinks and snacks to the Nevada Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities team members. Additionally, March 21 marks World Down Syndrome Day; these celebrations help support CHS’ hardworking and highly motivated students as they learn to become the next employees with disabilities. CHS teacher Kyle Jordan started the coffee shop as part of a Career and Life Skills program. The seed money was $400, and donations from parents and community members allowed for a soft opening in the fall. Fast forward to March, and the snack shack is thriving and self-sufficient. Interested in supporting the Senator Snack Shack, or learning about inclusive hiring practices for all students with disabilities within the Carson City School District, contact Yette De Luca, district work-based learning coordinator, at or 775-286-1632.


Results are in from the HOSA competition in Las Vegas. Congratulations to students and advisers for their huge success. The International HOSA Competition is this summer at Disneyworld, Fla. Chapter Awards received are: Chapter of the Year; HOSA 100 Gold, over 100 percent membership; Largest Chapter with 348 members; Outstanding HOSA Chapter; 3rd - Sister School Challenge; 2nd - National Service Project. Individual and team awards: 4th in Medical Math - Hannah Hope Hodorowicz; 3rd in Transcultural Health Care - Gary Cortes Solis; 5th in Nutrition - Anthony Kunter; 3rd in Nutrition - Stacy Kennison; 5th in Dental Terminology - Lilly Roman; 5th in Medical Assisting - Bianca Sanchez Hernandez; 3rd in Medical Assisting - Isela Rodriguez; 5th in Physical Therapy & National qualifying Scrapbook - Rachel Rundell; 2nd in Pharmacy Science - Jashmeen Thind; 5th in Veterinary Science - Madison Matthews; 3rd in Veterinary Science - Lauren Roby; 1st in Veterinary Science - Mackenzie Meza-Moreno; 3rd in Extemporaneous Writing - Rachel Weese; 2nd in Job Seeking Skills - Abby Golik; 2nd in Medical Reserve Corps - Crystal Vargas, Lizbeth Orozco, Kristina Sullivan, Ashley Fitzpatrick; 4th in Public Health - Savanna Sharp, Maria Juarez-Razo, Selena Hernandez, Rachelle Dominguez Hernandez, Alize Gonzalez; 1st in Public Health - Jennifer Artz, Jakob Carlson, Garrett Clampitt, Sydney Lloyd, Lucas VanBrow; National Qualifiers in Health Care Issues Exam - Lizbeth Orozco, Hannah Hope Hodorowicz, Thaniqua Williard Barbara James; Service Bronze Award - Crystal Vargas.


Maker Monday at the CHSenators Library, an opportunity for students to ease their brains back into school after a weekend of sleeping in, currently has students … knitting … and those participating have a work in progress. Students and teachers are invited to come by the library at lunch, and get creative. CHS Librarian Ananda Campbell is seeking local volunteers to lead lunchtime workshops in the future. Please call her at 283-1641 or e-mail her at


Interested in Cheering for CHS during the 2019-20 school year? Come to a Cheer and Parent Meeting at 5:30 p.m. April 1 in the upstairs cafeteria at CHS. Coach Sheila Story will go over all requirements for Cheer and the football, basketball and competition seasons. Please contact Coach Story at 283-1675 for more information.


Attention CHS Seniors, want a chance to win $230 of prom awesomeness? The Greater Nevada Credit Union branch at CHS is giving away a prom package to one lucky senior who will receive two prom tickets, a prom floral package, and a $100 Adele’s gift card. Entry forms and complete contest rules are available at the CHS GNCU branch. All entries are due by 1 p.m. April 5. Do not miss this opportunity to win this amazing GNCU Prom Prize Package.


The CHS Athletic Department’s Athletes of the Week are Kahle Good for boys Varsity Baseball and Kailee Luschar for girls Varsity Softball. These athletes and all students who participate in school functions through leadership, clubs and sports deserve a high level of recognition and congratulations.


Maria Cortes is the CHS Student of the Week. Spanish teacher Marisa Morrow nominated Maria and said about her, “She is always positive, tries her best, and pays attention in class.” Morrow added, “Maria is well-mannered, treats others with respect, studies hard, and is a positive example for other students; it is a pleasure to have her in my class as she is one of my best students in AP Spanish.” Congratulations to Maria Cortes. Students like Maria make it a pleasure to be a teacher.


This week’s Senior in the Spotlight is Kate Torres, who maintains an impressive GPA of 4.7 while taking a full course load of Honors, AP and WNC classes. Not only does Kate stay busy academically, she is also very active in sports and extracurricular activities. She has swam for the CHS Swim Team all four years of high school, has participated in Cheer, marching band, jazz band, National Honor Society and Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and she is also an active volunteer at St. Teresa’s Church and school. Kate has been a member of CHS Speech and Debate club for two years, and she and her partner recently placed ninth at the state competition. An accomplished public speaker, she also won second place in a speech competition for the Rotary Club of Carson City. Not only is she an accomplished oratory speaker, Kate has also had her poetry published and enjoys expressing herself creatively through her poetry. Lastly, she also works a part-time job as a lifeguard at the Carson Aquatic Facility. Kate has been accepted to Case Western Reserve University, Pepperdine University, Susquehanna University and the University of Nevada Reno. She plans to study International Affairs and Political Science with the ultimate goal of someday serving her country as a senator or representative. Wherever Kate goes, CHS is confident that she will make her own original contributions and enhance her community.

Phil Brady is an English teacher at CHS.


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