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Welcome Mustangs! The Mustang Express is an online newspaper for Sunrise Mountain High School in Peoria, AZ with articles written and published by SMHS students.
**Visit us for current news and features throughout the school year.


I heART New York: the 2019 Visual Arts Trip

by Belle Lewis

The Met. The Whitney. Fifth Market. Chelsea Market. Rockefeller. Broadway. New York, New York.

Art students at Sunrise Mountain traveled to New York City to expand their views of art and culture through visiting some of the most popular tourist attractions. Students experience artistic inspiration through a full schedule of museums, shops, and parks.

“We have such a packed itinerary,” Photo Teacher Mateusz Wisniewski said. “We start out day one at the Rockefeller Center and go to the top of the rock. We see the displays around Fifth Avenue and Macy’s. Day two we try to try to hit central park and one big museum.”

Every year the schedule changes, but the Sunrise Mountain trip regularly visits certain

“We always try to go to the Met. [The Metropolitan Museum of Art] We have been going to the Whitney a lot. We shop at Fifth Avenue and Chelsea Market. We go to the highline, which is an over-ground transportation network,” Wisniewski said.

According to the Sunrise Mountain Arts Department, travel allows students to expand their artistic ideas through new surroundings.

“It really broadens your horizons. [New York City] is just a different place. Everything is one story here, but in New York you tend to look up more. Everything is vertical. There are different people and the weather is different,” Wisniewski said.

The aim of the trip is to encourage students to explore and connect on a global scale according to Wisniewski.

“Culturally it is a great experience to see different places and just experience the world,”
Wisniewski said.

For interested students to attend next year, they must meet certain standards.

“We give preference to students who are upperclassmen and students that take advanced art/ceramics. You have to be in good academic standing and have no behavior issues,” Wisniewski said.

Blankets for the Homeless

By Audrey Sing

As winter break approaches, SMHS Dream Club and Fashion Club have partnered up to create and distribute blankets to homeless people at the Dream Center downtown.
The partnership formed as an opportunity to use both club’s talents for a greater good.

“Fashion club was planning to make blankets for the homeless, so we decided to partner up to deliver them,” Dream Club President Caleb Chang said. “We wanted to do this because it’s winter season and there will be a lot of people without blankets, so we wanted to help out.”

Dream Club members volunteer at the Dream Center frequently, and this partnership allows Fashion Club members to build relationships there as well.

“This is a really fun and involved way to get into the community with another club who already has that access there,” Fashion Club President Briana Indovino said.

Although the event is being led by these two clubs, the donation is not limited to just their members.
“Students can get involved by showing up to room H103 on Dec. 12 and help make blankets with us,” Indovino said. “You don’t have to be a member of fashion or dream club, you can just show up. Some teachers even come and help make them.”

If students are unable to join on Dec. 12 to make them, they can also help out in other ways.

“The amount of blankets we make depends on how much fleece we get,” Indovino said. “We need a bunch of donated fabric.”

December is known for being a busy month for students, but holding the donation this time of year helps to make it even more special.

“It’s cold, it’s the holiday season, and we wanted to give back especially because of it being around the holidays,” Indovino said. “It’s so cold out so we decided to give people something to warm them.”

Penny Wars 2019

By Audrey Sing

Another year at Sunrise Mountain means another homecoming, another Liberty game, and of course, another Penny Wars.

Penny Wars is a campus-wide fundraiser held in the weeks leading up to winter break in which students can donate loose change to the Adopt-a-Family organization in order to provide struggling families with holiday presents.

“It’s always important to give back to our community and make sure that everybody who is less fortunate than us is able to still have a good time during the holidays,” Student Body President Kaelyn Harris said.

Penny Wars takes place from Dec. 2 through the 13, and classrooms compete to see who can bring in the most money.

“Students participate in Penny Wars by grabbing any change they see off their counter or in the depths of their couch cushions and put it in the bin in their second hour,” Senior Class Senator Ava Ordog said.

The classrooms that bring in the most money win not only bragging rights, but food prizes as well.

“First place gets a pizza party, second place gets donuts, and third place gets ice cream sandwiches,” Harris said.

The money raised in those two weeks is donated to less fortunate children in the community.

“All the proceeds from Penny Wars goes to the Adopt-a-Family fundraiser and we use that to buy presents for the families,” Harris said.

Although Penny Wars is a friendly campus competition, it also teaches students about important topics.

“It’s just one of those things like ‘why not?’ It’s for a community event and we’re in high school to learn not just about academia but valuable life skills,” Ordog said. “It’s kind of the idea of empathy and this instills that in us.”

Cardboard Boat Project

By Audrey Sing

Last Thursday, the regular and Pre-AP chemistry classes held their 13th annual cardboard boat race at the Sunrise Mountain Pool.

Science teacher Cheryl Fiedler introduced the project to Sunrise as a way to teach students important chemistry concepts in a creative way.


The students can decorate their boats and dress up with themes of their choice. However, many students recommend focusing more on the build than the design.

“I think it shows them that chemistry isn’t just in the classroom,” Fiedler said. “What you’re learning here can be applied outside and to real world situations.”

The students worked in teams for several months to build the boats and prepare them for the water test.

“It was a lot of work and it took a lot of time,” fourth hour race winner Daniel Walton said. “We’ve had since pretty much the beginning of the semester.”

The goal is for the boats to last 3 minutes in the pool and go as many laps as possible. The teams compete to see who can get the most laps individually, and then a speed race to cross the pool the quickest for extra credit.


“We thought it was going to sink really fast,” Walton said. “We were just trying to get as far as we could as fast as we could before it sunk, but it didn’t even leak so it went pretty well.”

“Just make a rectangular boat and don’t make it special at all,” fourth hour winner Grant
Valentine said. “Just a 6×3 foot rectangle, that’s it.”

The cardboard boat project is a highly anticipated tradition at Sunrise, and is one the science department eagerly awaits every year.

“It’s one of my favorite projects we do, and the students seem to really enjoy it and the boats are very successful,” Fiedler said. “It’s a pretty fun project and one I always look forward to.”

Ready, Set, Sister Act!

By Belle Lewis

Before the curtain lifts on the 2020 Sunrise Mountain musical Sister Act, students and teachers work tirelessly to prepare for the five-month process of auditioning, casting, acting, designing, and performing a play.

The process begins with the auditions. Interested students must perform a verse in the chorus of a song while Orchestra Conductor Ms. Boehme accompanies them. All casting choices are a joint decision by Ms. Boehme and Director Mr. Taylor. In order to find the best candidate for a part, Taylor and Boehme look for a variety of qualities.

“We can go off vocal range and personality traits. I know characteristics that people already have so finding ways to highlight these traits in positive and encouraging ways allows them to relate to the characters,” Taylor said.

As well as physical and personality similarities, basic skills are essential to landing a role.

“We need to see if they can be correctable and flexible on stage. They have to be confident to create someone else. They need to be comfortable in their own skin,” Mrs. Boehme said.

With these guidelines in mind, Anna Koth and many similar- minded students prepare for the audition through practice and repetition of material.

“I end up staying in [the choir room] during lunch and I go in the sound room and will run through my songs,” Koth said.

After the first round of auditions, this year on Nov. 13, Mr. Taylor and Ms. Boehme discuss follow-up auditions and final casting decisions.

“Any callbacks take place the following day. Then the goal is by Friday [ Nov. 15] to have the cast we are going to rock-and-roll with,” Taylor explained.

After auditions are wrapped up, cast lists are posted and the next stage begins.

Student Actor Kathryn Kraus detailed the next steps the production will take.

“We have our first rehearsal tomorrow. We’ll all meet together, get an information packet with the schedule and cost, and [make sure] we are all on the same page,” Kraus said.

As the production of Sister Act moves to table reads and choreography practice, students and teachers are excited to be a part of the arts department and Sunrise Mountain.

“Performing arts is not only an amazing group to be a part of, I feel like I have a family here,” Koth said.

The teachers involved in the arts agree that having programs like the annual musical benefits the students in unique ways.

“There are a lot of people in our program where that is why they come to school. It allows them to express their creativity and be cooperative. It’s the whole person,” Boehme said.

As students pursue theatre arts, art in general, or whatever they enjoy, teachers like Mr. Taylor wish to remind students to set goals to stretch themselves.

“If you are passionate about something, let it drive you to what you want to achieve. Just do it,” Taylor said.

Meet Mr. Doyle

By Taryn Burruel

Mr. Doyle, the Algebra I and II teacher at Sunrise Mountain High School has worked at SMHS for two years and has made a lasting impression on his students.

Mr. Doyle’s relaxed teaching style provides his students with a calm and stress free environment, which help his students feel less pressured in class.

“Particularly [in] math, kids have a lot of anxiety, so I always try to alleviate any anxiety when I teach,” Mr. Doyle said.

Students feel that Mr. Doyle has been able to create a classroom that helps students feel safe when they make a mistake or do not do perfect on an exam.

“I feel he has made a pretty judgmental free environment because I got a pretty low grade on a test and he encouraged me through it and helped me with the concepts I struggled on,” Corrine Seaver, a freshman in Mr. Doyle’s Algebra I said.

Mr. Doyle tries to change his teaching style according to what a student needs in order to perform their best.

“Every single student is different. What works for some doesn’t work for all, so I try to figure out how people learn and kind of adapt depending on the class and student,” Doyle said.

This adaptive style of teaching has been able to help students, like Corinne transition into his math class.

“I do think his teaching style is very effective. Last year I had a very similar math teacher with almost the same teaching style, so I found it easier to transition into this year,” Seaver said.

When Doyle teaches, he strives to encourage his students gain confidence in themselves as students and feel safe in his class.

“When a teacher is in front of a class, they should always be willing to help students during instruction, encourage students to ask questions. It’s okay to make mistakes, have fun and encourage students to advocate for themselves, stop me whenever they need anything, and not to get mad at kids when they ask questions,” Doyle said.

The Diversity Club

By Belle Lewis

According to Maya Angelou, “In diversity there is beauty and there is strength.” Drawing inspiration from her words, Diversity Club seeks to inspire students to embrace their uniqueness and eliminate prejudice in schools through cultural education.

As part of the club’s mission, Diversity Club participates in local events, invites cultural speakers to share their heritage, and holds discussions on ethnically significant issues weekly.

“We focus on education. We are based in committees to set up a Diversity Day at Sunrise, so students can bond and connect. We are also planning several field trips to religious temples, cultural centers and museums. We also have several different charities we are working with,” Vice President Makayla Warnberg said.

And concerning joining, their message to any interested student is simple.

“Give it a try!” Co-Historian Colton Hannappel said.

The Diversity Club meets every Thursday at 2:30 in Mrs. Cockrell’s classroom. There, new members will be welcomed by students from different cultures and ethnicities who work together to inspire and uplift each other.

On October 31, a guest speaker shared his experience moving from China to the United States. Any student interested should meet in Mrs. Cockrell’s room at 2:30 after school on Thursdays.

“It’s a really good community that we have here. We have a lot of passion for our school and our community,” President Sherman Scott said.

Every person that joins can meet with students who strive to create a positive environment for all.

“It’s good to meet with people who are trying to make change in the community,” Co-Historian Jordan Walters said.

The Lady Mustangs Volleyball Celebrate Their Seniors at the Last Home Game of the Season 

By Jenna Brown

The Lady Mustangs competed in Tuesday’s match against Centennial High School celebrating senior night by honoring Reannan Bihlmeier, Shauna Rath, Hannah Richman, and Kimber Roberts before the game.

Right to left: Hannah Richman, Shauna Rath, Reannan Bihlmeier, and Kimber Roberts

Bihlmeier, Rath, and Richman have all been in Sunrise’s volleyball program for four years with Roberts competing in the program for three.

As the seniors walked with their families down a row of purple balloons, their teammates read aloud letters about how the seniors have made a family on the team.

“Next year is going to be tough without you by my side. I am going to miss laughing and smiling with you every day,” said Allison Harris, a junior on the Varsity Team writing for Rath. 

Rath with her family after receiving gifts from friends and family.

The seniors of 2020 were given a crown, flowers, and a sash reading “senior” as they walked down a balloon runway.

“On the court you have pushed me to be a better player, and I would not be where I am without you,” said Haven Wray, a junior on the Varsity Team writing for Bihlmeier. “I will never forget the impact you’ve had on me, and I’m sure everyone else who knows you could say the same.”

After all four girls were announced, the game began with the Centennial Coyotes serving against the Mustangs.

The Mustangs fell to the Coyotes with Sunrise taking one set and Centennial winning three, making the Mustang’s overall record 24 wins-10 losses.  IMG_8236.JPG

“Losing a game can usually be pretty tough on the team afterwards, but it motivates us even more to try more and work harder to come back in the next game,” senior volleyball player, Hannah Richman said.

The varsity girls of Sunrise Mountain are ranked #3 in the 5A state division, #13 in the state of Arizona, and #541 nationally.

“We’re preparing for State by practicing extra hard and focusing on these tougher games coming up,” Richman said.

If the Mustangs maintain their #3 seed in the state bracket, they will play their first State Championship game on November 5 at 6:30pm at home.

Meet the New Assistant Vice Principal – Charise Moore

By Jenna BrownIMG_0818

Sunrise Mountain High School gains a new assistant vice principle and athletic director all in one as the 2019-2020 school years starts up.

Charise Moore has taken the role of two important jobs on campus: vice principal and athletic director. As she works both these jobs, she is learning how to keep everything organized.

“I guess I’m just wearing a bunch of different hats. One minute I’m talking to a coach and figuring out how to help them operate their team. The next, I’m filling out paperwork and answering the thirty e-mails I have in the morning.”

Although the stresses of working both jobs at once can be high at times, Moore loves to keep herself occupied. As the school day goes on, she has meetings upon meetings with little time in-between to take a break.

“I thrive on busy. I love going in a million different directions. It’s kind of what keeps me going. That’s what I enjoy about teaching and administrating; there’s always something going on.”

Moore worked as a teacher at Liberty as a teacher and coach from 2008-2015, then moved to Colorado with her family and taught there. She and her family moved back to Arizona and this is her first year back. Although she has worked in the school setting for so long, she is adjusting to the administrating role by learning how to rely on others.

“I definitely thought I would be overwhelmed by the big learning curve of the job. But I had no idea how much I would be relying on other people to help me do this job well.  I thought I would be coming into administrative role and I would be very self-sufficient.”

Nevertheless, Moore has been able to make herself at home here at Sunrise Mountain as she continues to grow closer to both the staff and students. Working with the teachers to create PLC’s (professional learning community) and walking around the cafeteria at lunch time meeting students.

“The coolest thing for me to see is the comradery of the staff and how fun they are. I love seeing the relationships that people have with each other and the longevity of the staff here.”

Mustang Hour Thursday

By Emma Bailey

Do you have missing assignments you can’t fit into your schedule? Mustang Hour is the perfect time for missing assignments, homework that you have been procrastinating on, or just social interaction with friends.

Mustang Hour is from 8:35 to 9:28 right after first hour for one Thursday each month during the school year.

“It’s a good time to utilize to talk to my friends that I don’t see a lot,” freshman Mercedes Penaloza said.

Most students use this extra time to do some homework for their classes that follow after Mustang Hour, but some aspects of the schedule are not the best for some students, for example, the time period.

“I would want it to not be at 8:35- 9:28. I would want it to be some time in 5th hour instead of first hour because, I believe, it would be easier doing homework after all your classes,” Penaloza said.

Many Mustang Hours include assemblies, meetings, and other events, which could get in the way of students unfinished and missing work, but these meetings have a positive effect on the students.

During April 25, Mustang Hour, there was a freshman meeting with guest speaker, Ron Sanders, who discussed the issues of focusing on someone else rather than yourself and gave an opportunity for students think about changing themselves for their future.

“My takeaway was that you shouldn’t always think about you but about everyone and you,” freshman Elizabeth Swisher said.  “The meeting made me want to help the school and other students.”

But for the most part, during Mustang Hour students use the time mostly talking to friends and eating food from the Mustang market also known as the Student Store.

“Normally during Mustang Hour, I hang out outside with friends or go to tutoring,” Swisher says.

For students at Sunrise Mountain, Mustang Hour is a convenient and fun way to socialize with friends, do homework, and get help with classes in which they are struggling.