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Published May 10, 2024


In the wake of natural disasters, including wildfires and landslides, it is evident that there are two sides to the Big Sur community’s response. While the countless struggles never get easier and tourist-dependent businesses suffer, residents say the community comes together in ways reminiscent of Big Sur’s early days.

The most recent example of this duality arose on March 30 when a large section of Highway 1 near Big Sur’s Rocky Creek Bridge crumbled down the cliff and into the ocean. This disaster isolated the community from the Monterey Peninsula, which is vital for basic living essentials.

Highway 1’s precarious location on the cliffs of Big Sur makes for a more complex repair for CALTRANS, who announced that the road south of the collapse will be inaccessible to the public until May 27 at the earliest. (courtesy of CALTRANS)

“No matter what anybody does for a living or what their family situation is, everybody’s impacted in some way,” says Big Sur Fire assistant administrator Angela Padilla, who lives with family in Palo Colorado Canyon, just north of where the highway slid into the ocean. “Everybody relies on being able to get to Carmel, or the Monterey Peninsula in general, for basic necessities like fuel, food, pet food, medication and doctor’s appointments.”

Big Sur Fire is a volunteer fire department founded in 1974 that serves and protects Big Sur residents, businesses and the millions of tourists who drive Highway 1 each year. While they respond to local natural disasters, other community organizations such as Peace of Mind Preparedness specialize in creating a disaster-resilient community. Wanda Vollmer, the founder of Peace of Mind, was inspired by her childhood on a ranch in San Luis Obispo where wildfires were commonplace.

“One particular summer I was awoken by a loud banging at the front door and told to get out as a wildfire was approaching,” says Vollmer, who is now employed by the California Fire Safe Council to develop programs on disaster preparedness for a range of demographics within the community. “We had to get up and evacuate, and it was absolutely terrifying from start to finish.”

According to Vollmer, Big Sur’s long history of natural disasters, including 2020’s trifecta of fires, combined with the recent road closure demonstrates what Highway 1 must sustain in the event of a disaster. This includes traffic in both directions: community members evacuating homes and emergency personnel accessing endangered communities.

A major first responder charged with fighting Big Sur’s disasters and maintaining public safety is the United States Forest Service of Los Padres National Forest, which is 15,328 acres of challenging terrain stretching down California’s coast.

According to Ivan Lamboo, Big Sur Engine 18’s Assistant Fire Engine Operator for the USFS, the striking number of disasters Big Sur has sustained throughout its history is a direct result of the region’s topography, fire history and rainfall levels. Starting with wildfires in the fall, Big Sur’s unique topography creates a vicious year-round cycle of natural disasters.

The slip-out of Highway 1 just north of Big Sur’s Rocky Creek Bridge has completely isolated the community from resources and tourist-dependent income. (courtesy of CALTRANS)

“The aftermath [of a wildfire] often includes a winter of flooding and more often than not a landslide affecting the same community which battled the wildfire months earlier,” says Lamboo, a Big Sur resident since 2020.

Another complicating factor is Highway 1’s perilous location, settled between the cliff and the mountains and creating challenging conditions for site-specific repairs. 

“In the 1930s, they constructed Highway 1 on the edge of the continent,” says Kevin Drabinski, the public information officer for District 5 of the California Department of Transportation. “There’s always been this conversation between the Pacific Ocean and the Santa Lucia Mountains. There’s always been give and take.”

Since the March 30 highway collapse, CALTRANS has begun executing site-specific repairs that involve drilling nearly 100 metal rods into the existing southbound lane to create a grid stabilizing the edge of the roadway and providing protection against future rain and erosion on the cliff’s edge.

For now, the community is isolated from every direction. Three major slides–Paul’s Slide, Dolan Point Slide and Regent’s Slide–prevent the southern entrance from Paso Robles. Nacimiento Fergusson Road, which served as a passage from the east, has been closed since early 2021 due to debris flow and road failures at over a dozen sites.

In this precarious situation, the livelihood of Big Sur hangs in the balance for the substantial population who work in hospitality–restaurants, inns and general stores–and depend on the vibrant tourism industry. With the road closure in the north, many of these locations have temporarily closed, leaving employees without an income for an indefinite period and amplifying the urgency for solutions to restore connectivity and revitalize the region’s economic heartbeat.

The Dolan Fire burned over 128,00 acres across Big Sur and the Santa Lucia mountain range, one of three devastating fires the area experienced in 2020. (courtesy of BIG SUR FIRE)

Nepenthe, a restaurant located on the Big Sur Coast directly off Highway 1, has been a landmark for tourists and residents alike since opening in the late 1940s. The restaurant was one of the first to decide to close its doors.

“Really large stakeholders, businesses in the community, are shutting their doors because they cannot afford to stay open,” says Padilla, who notes that the majority of Big Sur Fire’s volunteer base works in hospitality. “There’s not enough business coming in for them to pay their electricity, propane and gas bills and for all of their employees’ wages and benefits.”

Ruby DeFloria worked as a hostess at Nepenthe until the closure. She is now among the many residents left without a job and an income. Nepenthe, along with many other businesses, expects to close until May 27 at the earliest, when CALTRANS plans to restore public access to Highway 1 south of Rocky Creek Bridge.

Growing up in Big Sur, DeFloria, like Vollmer, experienced multiple wildfires and evacuations of her childhood home. While these times involved chaotic hotel stays and prayers sent down the highway, DeFloria says the community thrives and connects best during these times.

“The Big Sur communities are a funky thing because, although tourism is what they need to live, they really enjoy this sacred time when nobody’s around,” says DeFloria, who graduated from Carmel High School in 2021. “It reminds people of the old Big Sur when there were no tourists. A lot of the time people feel very overwhelmed, like their town isn’t really in their control anymore.”

While the Rocky Creek road closure has prevented the transportation of resources to stock general stores and pantries, the Big Sur community has lengthy experience in adapting to these kinds of challenges. Most prominently, a nonprofit organization called The Big Share provides a venue for over 200 residents and workers to exchange extra groceries, garden products, hunted meat and other goods to establish a sustainable local food system.

“The community is constantly adapting to what mother nature puts in their path,” says Lamboo. “Big Sur is more than a tourist stop along a road trip–it is comprised of some of the most resilient folks you will ever meet.”

Published May 10, 2024 BY ZANA BALABAN In the wake of natural disasters, including wildfires and landslides, it is evident that there are two sides to the Big Sur community’s response. While the countless struggles never get easier and tourist-dependent businesses suffer, residents say the community comes

Published May 10, 2024


“I tried to kill myself because I did not like my life,” shares one CHS freshman who prefers to stay anonymous. “I have been bullied my entire life, never really fit in, and my parents never really understood and expected more than I could give.”

Similar to other struggling teens, after immediate hospitalization following her suicide attempt, this teen girl felt the treatment provided when she returned home was insufficient. 

“I just came back and was sent back to school with terrible grades because I hadn’t been doing things because I was gone,” she explains. Although the student has been able to reach out for help and receive support, reintegrating into high school has been challenging. 

Mental health experts agree that growing up and entering adulthood can be a difficult experience for many young people. School, extracurriculars, friends and family can all add sadness and stress to the already challenging life of being a teen.

Veronica Searles Quick spends a lot of her time helping patients at CHOMP, in emergency psychiatry and at Ohana, supporting teens through their mental health struggles. (photo by TULLAH McCOLL)

“There’s a lot of stress in the world,” says Veronica Searles Quick, the director of crisis psychiatry for the Ohana Center for Child and Adolescent Behavioral Health. “It’s hard going through adolescence to begin with, and then on top of that feel like you are inheriting the weight of the world.”

At the start of the pandemic, the crisis regarding suicide became more evident. From 2019 to 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention did a study that discovered there was an overall 30.7% increase in visits to the emergency room for mental health-related reasons among people ages 12 to 17. For many teenagers, quarantine had an immense negative impact on their mental wellbeing. Professionals found that isolation and the state of the world were causing an increase in suicidal ideation for teens across the board.

“How do we continue to educate and support families and young people regarding the topic of suicide where people don’t freeze or run away from it or push it away?” asks Victor Martinez, a licensed clinical social worker in Monterey County.

Although the topic has become less stigmatized, the rise in suicidal ideation during the pandemic has not been proven to have gone down. From 2020 to 2021, the CDC found that 22% of high school students in the United States reported having seriously considered suicide and 10% of high school students attempted suicide. The Carmel community has tried to combat this crisis by mandating suicide prevention training for all staff at Carmel High School. This training includes what to look for such as the warning signs and school protocols to get students connected with support. 

As Carmel works to help teens, the Monterey Peninsula continues to grow support systems and create more resources for people struggling with their mental health. In July 2023, a pediatric Crisis Stabilization Unit was added to CHOMP–there were previously no pediatric inpatient units in Monterey County and children had to be sent hours away for physiatric help. Searles Quick, who works closely with CSU patients, feels the new unit is a useful resource for teens who need more support and are assured safety to intervene in a potential crisis overnight. Although the emergency room is a good way for pediatric patients to have their needs addressed and met in a crisis, the CSU has provided an extra sense of safety for many people. 

“When we think about addressing a crisis, people often think about what we are doing in the emergency department or a crisis unit, when really it starts so far before that,” Searles Quick adds. 

Support systems have been added to the community through school districts and mental health organizations, in hopes of being able to acknowledge someone struggling before their problems turn into harmful thoughts or acts. 

Although the state of California does not require schools to provide mental health resources on campus, CHS has created a space for students to receive help. The CHS wellness center is a voluntary resource that gives students a way to talk about their issues confidentially. Here, therapists are limited in the ways they can address patients’ needs–however, they are able to connect students to outside providers. In a case where confidentiality has to be broken due to safety concerns, the wellness staff and caretaker of the student can choose where to go from there depending on the urgency of the situation. 

Lorena Cruz-Rodriguez, one of two therapists on the CHS campus, is able to aid teens struggling before it becomes a larger problem. 

“[The wellness center] provides an opportunity for students to talk about their needs, big or small, and hopefully address an issue that we hope does not become a bigger issue,” Cruz-Rodriguez says. 

Acknowledging the factors that actively affect teens is crucial in being able to help the problem, and social media is one of the many components negatively impacting youth.

CHS Wellness Center therapists Lorena Cruz-Rodriguez (left) and Tara Peterson hope to be able to help students struggling and intervene a potential crisis. (photo by TULLAH McCOLL)

“Social media is an attraction for younger people,” says Martinez, Montage Health Ohana’s Safe Harbor lead clinician. “With what’s being viewed, discussed and shared, there’s a lot of impulsivity and gratification that comes with that which tends to have a lot of [unintended] exposure.”

Although social platforms can have many benefits, the impact these kinds of apps can have on growing minds can be dangerous. 

“Today there is more of an acceptance and maybe normalization of young people using [substances] for a lot of different reasons,” Martinez adds. 

In addition, mental health experts say that bullying is still a common issue people tend to overlook, and as it becomes easier to victimize people anonymously over social media, it is important for people struggling to have supportive peers and adults in their lives. 

“A branch from suicide is the victimization and bullying that happens [over social media] that can have a huge negative impact on a young person,” Martinez mentions, “sometimes [causing them to] feel very isolated and alone, which can lead to people feeling the only option is suicide.”

Therapist Tara Peterson, who provides support for CHS students at the wellness center, agrees that the extensive feelings of loneliness that many teens experience can cause them to have suicidal thoughts. 

“Something that does bring people in [to the wellness center] is lack of belonging,” Peterson adds. 

CHS has created a lot of opportunities for students to feel connected. Through sports, clubs and other extracurriculars, the hope is to have all students feel accepted and welcome doing something they enjoy. 

Because Peterson is someone who sees a large population of CHS students who struggle with their mental health, she feels that although having support accessible during the school day is helpful, the struggles of being an adolescent will not just go away. 

“A lot of people, especially adolescents, just need someone to problem solve with and to hear the other perspective,” says Peterson. 

Mental health providers on the peninsula stress the importance of having local people who are willing to listen to every issue, no matter how small, because sometimes those issues can lead to a bigger problem or can even already be affecting someone who is struggling.

Professionals agree that talking about the issue of suicide has not been proven to trigger someone into having suicidal thoughts. Asking and talking about the struggle can even be a good intervention for someone struggling. In addition, they say normalizing the topic of suicide is an important factor in supporting the community. Although in many cases teens are reluctant to reach out for help for themselves or a friend due to fear, it is important for safety to be priority number one when discussing the topic of suicidal ideation. 

“Mental health is something that we expect everyone to talk about, so that if someone is struggling they are not feeling isolated and do reach out for help,” Searles Quick says. “That’s really essential and that’s the job of everybody.”

Those seeking immediate support in a mental health emergency or dealing with suicidal ideation can call the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988.

Published May 10, 2024 BY TULLAH MCCOLL “I tried to kill myself because I did not like my life,” shares one CHS freshman who prefers to stay anonymous. “I have been bullied my entire life, never really fit in, and my parents never really understood and expected

Published May 10, 2024


After conquering the California High School Mock Trial State Championships, courtroom journalist Avery Palshaw and courtroom artist Ky Dahle moved on to the National High School Mock Trial Championship May 3 and 4 in Wilmington, Delaware, and represented California alongside the state’s championship team.

Mock trial is an academic competition in which teams prepare criminal and civil cases to present against other schools, often before real judges. The additional courtroom artist and journalist competitions challenge artists and journalists to artistically depict, or to report on, these mock trials in real time, similar to those who report on court proceedings in real life.

Senior courtroom artist Ky Dahle, left, and junior courtroom journalist Avery Palshaw excelled in their respective fields to advance to the National High School Mock Trial Championship. (courtesy of ERIN IKEMIYA)

CHS students Palshaw, a junior, and Dahle, a senior, won the Monterey County mock trial competition alongside the CHS mock trial team, and accompanied them to the state championships in March where they each took first place in their respective competitions. Now, they are accompanying southern California’s Trinity Pacific Christian School, the state champions, to the final stage.

Dahle, who created her winning piece out of oil pastels in the third round of the state competition, was challenged to depict a real scene from the trial during the three hours in which it took place. Despite her nervousness about competing with her art in a new setting, Dahle explains that her comfortability in the arts gave her more confidence. 

“All I’m doing is what I’ve been doing,” explains Dahle. “I’m practicing what’s important, like depicting emotions on a figure in a short amount of time.”

On the other hand, Palshaw was handed the same case packet given to mock trial competitors prior to the competition to study the case and become familiar with its ins and outs. In preparation for nationals, the young journalist studied the new nationals packet, but says that it all depended on her writing abilities in the competition. She credits her success in the state competition to her experience in journalism outside of the courtroom. 

“The main factor that aided my success in the county and state competitions has been my prior knowledge of journalism’s basics through newspaper class,” explains the two-year staff writer for The Carmel Sandpiper. 

With experience in courtroom journalism, Palshaw previously won the Monterey County courtroom journalist contest and participated in the state level competition in 2023. She adds that this year she was motivated to compete because of the relationships she had built with the CHS mock trial team. 

“Ironically enough, I was mostly driven to compete again this year because I had so much fun going to Los Angeles with CHS’ mock trial team last year,” Palshaw says. “When I won state, it was a surprise, to say the least.” 

Palshaw shared Dahle’s excitement when it came to meeting competitors at the national level while getting to explore a state she’d never visited before. Dahle says that she was also excited to try East Coast food and become familiar with potential friends in art, a field she plans to pursue in college.

Published May 10, 2024 BY GRAYDEN MILLER After conquering the California High School Mock Trial State Championships, courtroom journalist Avery Palshaw and courtroom artist Ky Dahle moved on to the National High School Mock Trial Championship May 3 and 4 in Wilmington, Delaware, and represented California alongside

Published May 10, 2024


After contributing 13 years of teaching at CHS and 35 years in education, admired Carmel High School science teacher Tom Dooner is set to retire with many future ambitions to come.

A true “jack of all trades,” Dooner has taught a plethora of courses throughout his extended career, including AP Biology, Earth Science, General Science, Physical Science, Life Science, Conceptual Physics, Economics, Civics, Senior English, Algebra 1, AP European History, American History, World History, Ancient History, Geography and even Independent Studies. As for the 2023-24 school year, Dooner has been teaching solely science classes, and the dedicated teacher says that while he is looking forward to beginning a new chapter in his life, he will immensely miss the community at CHS.

Upon retiring, CHS science teacher Tom Dooner looks forward to spending more time with his family, but will miss the high school’s academic atmosphere. (photo by KEIRA CRANSTON)

“What I’m going to miss most is a very collegial staff with a lot of camaraderie and a student body that is unlike any I’ve ever encountered in terms of their willingness to learn, their focus on being academically successful and their politeness,” Dooner says. 

CHS staff note Dooner’s reliability and display of leadership at CHS, whether that has been seen in a class laboratory experiment, in his interactions with his colleagues or in his seven years coaching girls’ basketball at CHS, a program he says he hopes will flourish in the future.

“Mr. Dooner has always been a veteran who’s willing to step forward and take on responsibilities, but also take on issues that come up in the day-to-day workings of the school,” says CHS math teacher Kurt Grahl. 

Aside from his remarkable dependability, Dooner’s distinct personality remains one of his most noteworthy qualities among CHS staff and students. 

“The biggest thing I’m going to miss is his great, dry sense of humor,” says senior Grant Xu, a former student of Dooner’s and member of the CHS Biology Club, which Dooner supervises.

The teacher says he has many enjoyable plans to fulfill following his retirement, including finding more time to read good books, taking his two dogs on walks on the beach, spending time with his wife, Alena, and three daughters–Ariel, Mackenzie and Ailis–as well as advancing his skills in speaking Irish, in which he currently takes two online courses. Dooner’s ultimate goal, however, is to devote more time to being outdoors. 

“When my children were younger, I spent a lot of time outdoors, either in state parks, national parks, hiking, camping, backpacking or at the beach,” Dooner says. “From when they were adolescents on to now, I feel like that’s been relatively absent from my life, so the main thing I want to do is get back outside and get back to doing physical [activities] in nature.”

Dooner’s first adventure after retiring will be a trip with his wife and daughter Mackenzie to London, Edinburgh and Dublin.

After the longtime teacher sets off to retire, Dooner expresses his hope for the CHS science department to continue to thrive.

Published May 10, 2024 BY AVERY PALSHAW After contributing 13 years of teaching at CHS and 35 years in education, admired Carmel High School science teacher Tom Dooner is set to retire with many future ambitions to come. A true “jack of all trades,” Dooner has taught a

Published May 10, 2024


Many students at Carmel High School come and go. Some who are particularly inspired–or particularly troublesome–leave behind a legacy that lasts beyond their four years here. A select few return as teachers or staff. But it takes a unique level of devotion and generosity to create an impact that lasts more than 60 years past one’s graduation.

It’s a feat that might only be attributed to former CHS student, teacher and coach Jeff Wright.

In addition to teaching, Wright (center) served as a coach for the CHS football team for many years. (courtesy of KIM WRIGHT)

Known to most as Coach Wright, the 1964 graduate returned to his alma mater in 1987 to begin a teaching career that lasted more than three decades and created change in the lives of students and colleagues alike. So much so that Wright even officiated the weddings of several current CHS teachers.

“Jeff Wright was very friendly and genuinely interested in students,” recalls CHS dance teacher Kristine Tarozzi. “He always made time to talk to students and staff alike. He was truly a fan of CHS.”

Wright, who taught health and history in addition to coaching football and girls’ soccer, as well as mentoring teachers who came to CHS after him, passed away Dec. 24. In honor of his life, the Carmel High School Red Cross club hosted a blood drive earlier this semester in his name. Now, the Carmel High School Foundation plans to develop a scholarship fund specifically for students who first attend Monterey Peninsula College and transfer to a four-year college, as both Wright and his wife did.

According to CHS English teacher Dale DePalaitis, the teachers on the CHSF board thought it would be a fitting way to honor someone who had such a marvelous impact on this community.

“He was one of the teachers that wanted to connect students with the content,” says CHS teacher Bridget Randazzo, who had Wright as a teacher, colleague and wedding officiant. “But he really wanted to get to know every student as well. In that sense, he really was a role model for me, for moving into being a teacher of building relationships.”

Jeff and Kim Wright chaperoned many CHS proms together and dressed for the occasion. (courtesy of KIM WRIGHT)

That sentiment is shared by CHS English teacher Lillian Owens, who also had Wright as a health teacher. The instructor fondly recalls the lengths to which Wright would go to drive home a lesson, such as taping a Twinkie to his whiteboard for years to illustrate the dangers of processed foods. Wright’s special ability, according to Owens, was the way he connected with his students.

“I watched him remember others in a way that was so very genuine,” Owens says. “People need people like that in their lives, especially in high school, when it’s so easy to feel unseen at times. It takes an artist to see and know and truly remember 100 or more students per year. Coach Wright had that magic.”

Several times, Wright got to see the students he mentored in high school return as colleagues and friends.

“I first had Coach Wright as a health teacher,” Randazzo explained, “and so having that relationship transfer over to my work life was really special.”

Whether they counted him a close friend or a distant acquaintance, those who knew him all agree on one thing: No one loved Carmel High School more than Jeff Wright.

Published May 10, 2024 BY SHAYLA DUTTA Many students at Carmel High School come and go. Some who are particularly inspired–or particularly troublesome–leave behind a legacy that lasts beyond their four years here. A select few return as teachers or staff. But it takes a unique level

Published May 10, 2024


With students exploring new areas of interest, furthering their experience in a certain subject or looking to advance to a higher level class at CHS, many have turned to Monterey Peninsula College in order to achieve their goals over the summer.

Because of CHS and MPC’s agreement, students can dual-enroll and take college classes anytime throughout the year, including summer. In addition, some college math classes can directly transfer over to the high school, allowing students to further their education in a shorter amount of time.

With many students wanting to expand their educational opportunities, they turn to Monterey Peninsula College to meet their goals. (photo by NICOLE MIRSKI)

“There are a lot of benefits to taking a summer class,” says Jeff Rogers, a CHS counselor. “Some of the benefits are [students are] increasing their dual-enrollment classes, they’re increasing their A-G requirements, they’re taking more rigor, it allows students to branch out and take classes we don’t have … so they’d have more classes taken within their area of interest.”

Both senior Harper Hohman and junior Kylie Wright took Math 263, the equivalent to Integrated III, the summer after their freshman year in order to get ahead and into a more rigorous course.

“I wanted to take that class because I wasn’t feeling challenged with the math track I was previously on,” says Wright. “I decided to take Math 263 over the summer in order to go into Pre-Calculus my sophomore year.

Whether the reasoning is to get further along the math track or explore the numerous different possibilities, many have noticed and remarked on the merit of taking a college class over the summer. Junior Maddox Zarazua has taken six classes at MPC over the past few years, three of which were over the summer, including Intro to Business after his freshman year and Business Law and Programming Fundamentals last summer. 

“I can say that it is a great way to get some classes based on your career interest out of the way so you don’t have to pay for them in college,” says Zarazua. “Most of these classes do not take a lot of your time, maybe four hours weekly, and they’re asynchronous meaning the professor will assign an assignment, lecture and deadline and it is up to you when to complete it at home. It’s easy if you set up certain days to study for certain subjects.”

According to Rogers, MPC business classes are most popular for CHS students with many taking them in order to test if they would enjoy majoring in business and to get a step up.

“Given that there were not any business options offered at Carmel High at the time, I took advantage of this opportunity to add experience to my resume and get ahead of other business majors that may not have had this opportunity,” says junior Nicole Tapson, who took Intro to Business. 

While taking a college-level summer class can be beneficial for multiple reasons, there could be possible detrimental effects, including taking up time during summer and the chance of not doing well. Even though high school grades are only used to get to the next level, college transcripts are used past schooling, even when applying for a job.

“I would rather kids take classes at MPC when they’re older,” says Rogers. “I want students to know that when you take a college course, those grades stay with you for life. I don’t want students to go over there and take a class if they’re not ready. There needs to be maturity and a readiness to go take a class like that.”

Overall, multiple students have found the benefits of taking a summer class at MPC to be prevalent if the right time and dedication is put into each class.

“The course was worth it,” says Tapson. “The workload was very manageable and did not take away from my summer experience.”

For more information about college classes at Monterey Peninsula College, visit

Published May 10, 2024 BY NICOLE MIRSKI With students exploring new areas of interest, furthering their experience in a certain subject or looking to advance to a higher level class at CHS, many have turned to Monterey Peninsula College in order to achieve their goals over the

Published May 10, 2024


From Oklahoma to Cambridge to right next door, most college-aspiring Carmel High School seniors have finally committed to their future place of study in hopes of pursuing their passions in different fields.

Chiara Kvitek plans to major in Civil Engineering in order to become an urban planner after being accepted to Cornell early decision. (courtesy of CHIARA KVITEK)

Darren Johnston, who has worked as a college counselor at CHS since 2008 and works closely with many seniors throughout the application process, notes a positive overall trend found this year among many students applying to college.

“This year’s class, the Class of 2024, had a very successful year of college acceptances, particularly amongst highly selective colleges or universities,” says Johnston. “They yielded the kind of success we haven’t seen in years. It’s been quite a while since we had a class like this.”

As the Class of 2024 obtained an array of acceptances to top colleges such as Columbia, Georgetown, Harvard, Pomona, Princeton and Rice, one thing remained the same: CHS students attending college next year selected colleges and majors that aligned with their passions and future career goals. In order to stand out in a stack of thousands of qualified applications, Carmel students found that demonstrating interest and action was what allowed them to succeed.

Continuing her goal of becoming an urban planner post-college graduation, Chiara Kvitek, a future freshman at Cornell University, will be majoring in Civil Engineering, focusing on the creation of smart cities. After graduating from Cornell, Kvitek plans to work to mitigate climate change in urban settings.

“The project teams Cornell offers definitely stood out to me because they allow students from different majors and disciplines to work together on a STEM project or competition,” says Kvitek. “These unique and hands-on groups were a major pull factor for me because research and design experience as an undergraduate is a priority of mine.”

Tim Marnell, a future student at University of California, Berkeley, is also interested in sciences involving environmental matters. 

Tim Marnell will be attending University of California at Berkeley as an Environmental Economics and Policy major. (courtesy of TIM MARNELL)

“Currently, I am in the environmental economics and policy major, which is in the college of natural resources at Cal…which is where my major is considered to be one of the best colleges in its field in the world,” says Marnell. “This will prepare me for going into environmental economics in the future.”

Also interested in the science, technology, engineering and math field, Abigail Kim, a CHS senior now committed to the University of California, Santa Barbara, for chemistry and biochemistry at the College of Creative Studies, decided on attending UCSB due to the array of opportunities offered there.

“I got super lucky and got into the College of Creative Studies, which is described as a ‘graduate school for undergrads,’” explains Kim. “They offer really cool opportunities like offering internships as early as the winter quarter of your freshman year and also priority registration on classes and so many other cool opportunities that no other schools I got into offered.”

Kim is not only eager to take advantage of offered educational internships within the area, but also to continue her passion for music through clubs, pep bands and orchestras offered on UCSB’s campus.

Gia Panetta, who will attend Harvard University while concentrating on Molecular and Cellular Biology, also chose a university based on the available research and internship opportunities, which may assist her in gaining experience as she hopes to pursue a PhD in the field.

“Harvard has a ton of research opportunities,” explains Panetta. “Some are even paid. As an undergraduate, it is a privilege to work in a STEM lab, so I hope to take advantage of the opportunity that Harvard offers.”

Mark Albiol, who was recently admitted to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, notes that the effort put into college applications can dramatically impact the results.

“What helped me throughout the process was seeking out help when I could and tens, maybe hundreds, of hours of work on the applications,” says Albiol.

What helped these students succeed throughout the college application process,

Carmel High senior Brooklyn Chavez plans to continue her education at San Diego State University as a Comparative International Relations major. (courtesy of BROOKLYN CHAVEZ)

Panetta and Kvitek say, was starting their essays in advance to give themselves optimal time to work on building their narrative. Students may be required to write up to five supplemental essays, perhaps the most time-consuming section, for a single college application.

“I started brainstorming my essay topics over the summer, which made the process of writing during the fall that much easier,” says Kvitek. “Keeping track of deadlines and staying organized with a spreadsheet of dates made the process much less daunting.”

While many students at CHS have interests in the STEM field, a significant number of students have passions concerning social sciences and humanities. Brooklyn Chavez, who plans to major in Comparative International Relations at San Diego State University in the fall before attending graduate school in the same field, first realized her passion early in high school.

“I originally became interested in international relations when I joined Model United Nations, but I realized I wanted to take a more personal approach to the issues so I chose Comparative International Studies as it tends to focus on issues with the help of non-governmental organization,” says Chavez. “I likely will go to graduate school as I’ll need a graduate degree to continue in the field, but getting an undergraduate degree at San Diego State University helps to create the foundations for future education.”

Giddalty Obeso plans to major in both business and kinesiology, a mix of social science and health science, at Monterey Peninsula College before finishing his bachelor’s degree at California State University Monterey Bay. Obeso hopes to become a personal trainer and open his own gym in the Monterey area after drawing inspiration from the nearby Gold’s Gym and 24 Hour Fitness.

Abigail Kim plans to major in Chemistry and Biochemistry at the College of Creative Studies at University of California, Santa Barbara, next fall. (courtesy of ABIGAIL KIM)

“Being a personal trainer, owning my own gym and working in business are my personal goals, and MPC will help me reach that,” says Obeso. “I have heard a lot of good things about the kinesiology program at MPC and also at CSUMB–they have a great program there too.” 

Similarly, Lily Marciano, an incoming freshman at Oklahoma State University, demonstrated her passion for working with children throughout her high school career, as she will be pursuing education as her major. Through spending time working with children at the Carmel Youth Center and as cheer captain for CHS, she was able to develop her budding interests.

“From there I learned I enjoy leadership, helping others, and working with children–all of which are characteristics of a teacher,” says Marciano. “I then talked to more and more teachers and gained an understanding of what the job would consist of and realized it was something I would enjoy. Since then I have been interning at Carmel River School in a 2nd grade classroom and will be a student working at Carmelo, both of which confirmed my passion.”

With just four weeks of high school left for Carmel seniors, the class of 2024 is ready to embark on their next adventure whether it be college, university, work or a gap year.


Published May 10, 2024 BY DANIELA FOLEY From Oklahoma to Cambridge to right next door, most college-aspiring Carmel High School seniors have finally committed to their future place of study in hopes of pursuing their passions in different fields. [caption id="attachment_11344" align="alignright" width="260"] Chiara Kvitek plans to major

Published May 9, 2024


The state of the boys’ bathrooms at Carmel High School has become a joke among students. 

According to CHS assistant principal Ernesto Pacleb, the number of students vaping on the CHS campus is a major reason behind regular student bathroom closures.

“It’s a serious crisis,” Pacleb says. “Not just here, but all around the country, we have a serious issue. To me, the most important thing is that students further their education and these addictive chemicals like nicotine or THC are the last thing they need.” 

When a student is discovered vaping in a bathroom, it results in the closure of the bathroom which disrupts students who need to use the restroom between classes or at a break, Pacleb explains. Bathrooms are also closed due to lack of staff available to monitor student safety. 

Students are not the only groups affected by this, though. Often teachers or staff are inconvenienced by the vaping and bathroom closures as well.

Student life is disrupted by frequent bathroom closures caused by vaping in the stalls. (courtesy of NEBRASKA MEDICINE)

“Several times I’ve walked into the bathroom in between classes, and instead of using the restroom I end up having to take a kid down to the office,” CHS social studies teacher Bill Schrier says. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a national 2023 survey estimated 10 percent of all students have used an electronic cigarette in the past 30 days. 

“Everyone knows at least one person who vapes,” junior Weston Wilson says. “Every other day, one of the bathrooms is closed.”

With five-minute passing periods between classes, students may be unable to go to the restroom if the one on their route to class is locked. Student bathrooms now have posted guidelines in response to these concerns, listing expectations for students using the restroom: “No vaping,” or “1 person per stall at all times,” but according to one CHS junior, these rules are frequently broken.

“A lot of us just go to the bathroom in class and hang out, vape or whatever,” says the junior male, who prefers to remain anonymous. “We are not trying to be in anyone’s way. We’re just chilling.” 

The junior goes on to explain that even though he understands that vaping and smoking is bad for his health, he won’t quit. He adds that he would be disappointed and upset if family members started the habit. 

“These substances are so dangerous because of how quickly you get hooked,” Pacleb says.

Punishments for students caught vaping have undergone a drastic change from the guidelines in the CHS student handbook. The current CHS student handbook outlines the drugs and alcohol policy with a first offense resulting in a five-day suspension and the school contacting the Monterey County Sheriff. The second offense results in a recommendation for a year expulsion and the contact with the Monterey County Sheriff. 

This year, though, CHS administrators have begun to take a notably different approach.

“We don’t want to come in with an iron fist,” Pacleb explains. “We want to help these students, have meaningful conversations and encourage them to spend their time on healthy things like running or yoga.” 

The bathroom closures can be a result of vape or drug usage even if nobody is caught. According to the U.S. Surgeon General’s Report, vapes function by using batteries to heat up a liquid that usually contains a form of nicotine, flavoring and other liquids that people then inhale into their lungs–they can also be used to deliver THC or other cannabinoids–and these batteries have been found clogging CHS toilets. 

“Just the other day there was a toilet clogged, and we looked and there were three vape batteries and a charger in the toilet,” Pacleb says.

It isn’t uncommon to see whatever cafeteria food that was offered during break in the boys’ urinals alongside vape pens clogging the toilets.

“This is a school, not a daycare,” senior Quinn Weisenfeld says. “People should be focused on learning, not acting like [idiots] in the bathroom.”  

People struggling from a vaping addiction can call 1-800-784-8669.

Published May 9, 2024 BY ALEXANDER FREDERICK The state of the boys’ bathrooms at Carmel High School has become a joke among students.  According to CHS assistant principal Ernesto Pacleb, the number of students vaping on the CHS campus is a major reason behind regular student bathroom closures. “It’s

Published May 9, 2024


A notable and storied theater located in Carmel-By-The-Sea, the Golden Bough Playhouse is set to reopen its doors with the musical “9 to 5” in late June or early July after being under renovation since 2021. 

Owned by Pacific Repertory Theater, a nonprofit organization that has brought professional theatrical productions to the Monterey Peninsula for decades, the Golden Bough on Monte Verde Street has undergone a major, multi-stage renovation.

The first part of the improvement project was completed in 2011 and saw the installation of a double turntable on the stage, allowing sections of the stage to rotate. Performances continued at the venue after the conclusion of the first phase of renovation until the COVID-19 pandemic saw a halt to many indoor theater productions. The second and current stage of renovation for the Golden Bough commenced in 2021.

The original Theater of the Golden Bough, located on Ocean Avenue and Monte Verde Street, was constructed in 1923. (courtesy of HENRY WILLIAMS LOCAL HISTORY DEPARTMENT, HARRISON MEMORIAL LIBRARY)

“This phase now, which is bigger by far, is a complete renovation of the seating area and the creation of a second lobby,” explains John Newkirk, PacRep’s development and marketing executive. According to him, the most recent improvements focus on the audience’s experience, including adjusting the rake, or slope, of the house. 

This renovation is not the first transformation made to the Golden Bough Playhouse and the space it occupies on Monte Verde Street, as the theater and its location have a long history dating back to the dawn of the 20th century. A theater with “Golden Bough” in its name first appeared in Carmel in the 1920s, when Los Angeles attorney Edward Kuster relocated to Carmel and constructed the Theater of the Golden Bough on the southeast intersection of Ocean Avenue and Monte Verde Street, about a block away from where the current Golden Bough Playhouse stands. 

In the recorded talk “Edward G. Kuster Reminisces” that took place at the Carmel Woman’s Club on May 31, 1960, a year before his death at 83, Kuster discusses the theaters he constructed in Carmel and the community that grew from it. He explains that the reason he chose to construct a theater in Carmel-by-the-Sea, a village that he describes as being “rough and ready and unkempt” in 1920, was because the small city had a “theater consciousness.” 

“I had determined to build in Carmel a theater so beautiful that the town could not help trying to measure up to it with their plays,” says Kuster, who set out on a mission to improve and pioneer theater in Carmel. “I named it the Theater of the Golden Bough after that aged old classical symbol of imagination and recurring light.” 

The Golden Bough was completed and first opened its doors in June 1924. In the same year, the Carmel Club of Arts and Crafts constructed a second theater on Monte Verde Street, where the Golden Bough Playhouse can currently be found, and the two theaters developed a rivalry. 

Though the schedule remains flexible to accommodate for the unpredictability of construction, the Golden Bough Playhouse is anticipated to reopen towards the end of June or early July. (photo by ANNA PRESCOTT)

“Those of you who never saw the Golden Bough must realize that in it, Carmel had something to be proud of,” adds Kuster solemnly, as the original theater on the corner of Ocean Avenue and Monte Verde Street burned down in 1935. 

During the Great Depression, Kuster purchased what previously were the properties of the Carmel Club of Arts and Crafts. He used the two new auditoriums to stage live performances, naming it the Studio Theater of the Golden Bough, meanwhile renting out the Theater of the Golden Bough on Ocean Avenue to a movie chain. 

After an alteration to the lease with the movie chain, the Theater of the Golden Bough was able to stage one live play per month starting in 1935. The first play to debut in the theater under this new lease was “By Candlelight,” which opened May 17, 1935. 

“It was the first staged play for years in that lovely theater,” reminisces Kuster. Two days after the first performance of “By Candlelight,” a fire broke out, destroying the entire theater except the lobby. The small insurance money Kuster received after the tragedy was used for improvements to his second theater on Monte Verde Street, which he then renamed the Filmarte as both plays and movies were presented at the location. 

After a period of time spent directing plays in Hollywood, Kuster returned to Carmel and gave the theater on Monte Verde Street its current name of the Golden Bough Playhouse, and produced plays as well as showing films. Coincidentally, during a 1949 revival of the play “By Candlelight,” the Golden Bough Playhouse again went up in flames like its predecessor the Theater of the Golden Bough. After a monumental fundraising effort, the Golden Bough Playhouse reopened in 1952. But as production costs increased, Kuster was forced to lease the larger auditorium to United Artists Cinema, which used the space to show movies.

According to PacRep, after Kuster’s death, the Golden Bough was sold to the movie chain. Still, a group called the Golden Bough Players’ Circle continued to produce plays in the Circle Theater, leasing it from the cinema until 1972, when the group became unable to stage productions. From 1972 to 1992, the Circle Theater was left empty while the main auditorium of the Golden Bough Playhouse continued as a movie theater run by the United Artists Cinema. When the company intended to sell the property to allow for the creation of residential lots in its place in 1993, Pacific Repertory Theater, which was then called GroveMont Theater, launched a campaign that received large community support to save the Golden Bough Playhouse and the Circle Theater. 

The playhouse reopened Sept. 22, 1994, and the following year saw performances in both the larger Golden Bough Playhouse and the Circle Theater, where plays were produced until the pandemic and the subsequent renovation.

Because renovations commenced in 2021, the Golden Bough Playhouse has been closed to the public and has not showcased any plays or musicals since before the COVID-19 Pandemic. Nevertheless, PacRep has continued staging theatrical productions at the Outdoor Forest Theater.

Even with the imminent return of the Golden Bough Playhouse, Newkirk explains that many large productions will still additionally take place at the Outdoor Forest Theater. 

As a nonprofit organization, PacRep finds much of its funding from show revenue, as well as from generous donations and grants. Additional information about performances and events can be found at\

Published May 9, 2024 BY ANNA PRESCOTT A notable and storied theater located in Carmel-By-The-Sea, the Golden Bough Playhouse is set to reopen its doors with the musical “9 to 5” in late June or early July after being under renovation since 2021.  Owned by Pacific Repertory Theater,

Published May 9, 2024


Boys’ volleyball CCS bound and killing it 

Coached by James Airola, boys’ volleyball finished second in Gabilan division (8-2 in league, 18-11 overall) and was set to compete in CCS starting May 6. This season, senior captain Sebastian Daste had 155 kills and 173 assists, junior Nico Vitiello had 121 digs, and sophomore Zachary Speakman had 112 kills and 145 assists.

“We are currently working on playing better together as a team and tuning up the small technical details of the game,” says Daste. “If we are able to do this, I have no doubt that we have a possibility of going far into CCS.”

With a young starting lineup including sophomores Jacob Tonini, Tristan Henderson, Nathan Campbell and Speakman, their future is looking exceptionally bright.

“We have a sophomore class unlike any other in Carmel boys’ volleyball history,” Airola explains. “Five of our seven

Face-off during a game at Pacific Grove, where the Padres won 23-5. (photo by BROOKLYN CHAVEZ)

starters are sophomores, and they are all very good, so while we are very good this year, we are equally optimistic about the future.”

Boys’ lacrosse goes undefeated in league, going to CCS

Led by head coach Troy Loper, boys’ lacrosse finished first in the PCAL Mission Division (9-0, 12-3), and after winning their CCS play-in game 14-8 to Los Gatos, they are headed to CCS.

“Our season is coming to an end with our team being the number one seed in our division, which is a huge accomplishment compared to previous years,” says junior Noah Scattini.

Top scorers this season were junior Jacoby Scattini with 53 goals, senior Engeda Galakatos with 39 goals and junior Noah Scattini with 36 goals and 79 assists. Freshman Kanan Seeklander, the team’s goalie, is also a key player. 

Loper says, “To prepare for our final games we are continuing to stay in shape, keeping our stick skills sharp, working on becoming more accurate and smarter shooters and keeping the team morale high.”

Junior captain Kate Graham is a leader on the field and asset to the lacrosse team, leading in ground balls. (photo by BROOKLYN CHAVEZ)

Girls’ lacrosse excelled on field with superb team chemistry

Coached by Sophia White, the girls finished fourth in the PCAL Gabilan Division (5-5, 6-6-1).“The team’s strength is definitely everyone’s positive mindset,” senior captain Anya Melton explains. “I love going to lacrosse practice knowing it is an outlet to have fun and bond with my teammates.”

The top scorer was freshman Anna Rasmussen with 28 goals, followed by freshman Lola Voss and senior Sophia Alexakos. Melton put in the most assists, and most ground balls went to junior Kate Graham and sophomore Claire Bonynge. 

White says, “Things are coming to a close, but I’m very happy about what we’ve done this season, and I’m looking forward to next season.”

Boys’ golf home to many talented athletes

Junior Cullen Pritchard is an asset to the golf team and has shot even par three times this season. (photo by MEGAN IKEMIYA)

Boys’ golf, coached by Ross Kroeker, finished third in the PCAL Gabilan division with contributions from many talented golfers and will be moving on to CCS starting May 7.

“Jonathan Chen is our number one player,” says Kroeker. “He has had a really solid season and has shot three strokes under par.”

Standout players include junior Jonathan Chen with a league average of 36, sophomore Julien Cho with an average of 38 and junior Cullen Pritchard with an average of 39.

“Everyone has been improving, which has been nice to see,” Chen says. “We do have the skills this year to make it to NorCals again as a team if we play well.”

Dive competitive with four divers qualifying for CCS

Sophomore Myles Will is a skillful diver who placed sixth in the PCAL Championships. (photo by MIKAYLA DAVIDSON)

Coached by Bryan Dunmire, dive did well with many first year divers learning difficult dives.

“To be successful in your dive, you have to make the dive as graceful as possible and complete the skill,” says freshman Eliana Sogge.

For the girls, junior Victoria Valdez and Sogge are highly skilled, both qualifying for CCS, with Valdez taking first place in the PCAL Championships, breaking the PCAL diving record with a score of 390.3, and Sogge placing sixth. Valdez stood out as one of the only non-full year club divers to still make top 20 in CCS.

For the boys, sophomore Myles Will and junior Dean Bullas are skillful, both trading first and second places during regular meets, and both qualified for CCS, with Bullas second and Will fourth in the PCAL Championships.

Dunmire says, “All my divers’ ceilings are incredibly high, and with just a little more time and practice, we can compete with anyone.”

Boys’ tennis reigned over competition in both singles, doubles

Led by head coach Brian Cory, tennis finished second in the PCAL Gabilan division (9-3, 9-6).

Carmel’s No. 1 singles player, sophomore Riley Kirsch, placed third in the PCAL tournament, breaking the record for the best singles finish for Carmel since 2018. Other successful singles players were seniors Jack Weston and Hudson Silva, sophomore Josh Granat and freshman James Brunicardi.

As for doubles, juniors Grayson Walton and Daniel Hohnloser finished third in the PCAL tournament. 

“As a team, we had great depth this year,” Cory remarks. “By having so many good players that could play a varsity match on any given day, made for quality practices, which translated into a winning season and season sweeps over league rivals Monterey, Salinas and Pacific Grove for the first time since 2018.”

Boys’ swim went undefeated in dual meets and finished the PCAL Championships second in the Gabilan division. (photo by MARC KALMAN-ZULIK)

Girls’ swim places fifth in PCAL Championships

Coached by Chelsea Peterson, girls’ swim went 6-2 during dual meets and had many athletes place in the Gabilan Division of the PCAL Championships, the team placing fifth overall.

“We had a lot of girls graduate last season,” Peterson says, “so this season has seen many younger athletes step up in big ways.”

A standout player for the Padres was junior Macie Hill in the 100-yard breast. Coming out as last season’s league champion, she went unbeaten in this event this season and placed first in the event at PCALs with 1 minute, 13.63 seconds. Sophomores Eva Melentieva and Avery Marzoni and freshman Riley Nothhelfer have also been assets to the team.

In the PCAL Championships, junior Layla Viel placed third in the 200-yard individual medley with 2 minutes, 33.45

Junior Ava Ghio is first in the PCAL Gabilan division in both the 3200 and the 1600, and behind her is Lila Glazier who is second in the 3200. (photo by RIKK KVITEK)

seconds, and Hill placed third in the 500-yard free with 5 minute, 57.11 seconds.

Senior captain Eva Montgomery says, “Many people had a ton of time drops, and it was a lot of fun!” 

Boys’ swim places second in PCAL Championships, two relay teams qualify for CCS

Coached by Kamaron Rianda, boys’ swim went undefeated in dual meets (5-0) and finished the PCAL Championships second in the Gabilan Division where many athletes placed highly, and two relay teams qualified for CCS.

In the PCAL championships senior Chase Lander and sophomores Marc Kalman-Zulik, Landon Onitsuka and Ryan Lin placed first in the 400-yard free relay with 3 minutes, 27.01 seconds. Lin, Onitsuka, senior David Cortez and sophomore Jackson Balas also advanced to CCS after taking third in the 200-yard medley relay with 1 minute, 46.19 seconds.

For individuals at PCALs, Onitsuka placed second in the 200-yard free with 1 minute, 52.97 seconds. Lin placed second in both the 200-yard individual medley with 2 minutes, 8.11 seconds and the 100-yard back with 58.04 seconds. Sophomore Dylan Chhor placed second in the 500-yard free with 5

Junior Mack Aldi is first in the PCAL Gabilan division for both the 800 and the 1600, and behind him is sophomore Bodhi Melton who is second in the same events. (photo by RIKK KVITEK)

minutes, 31.45 seconds, and Cortez placed second in the 100-yard breast with 1 minute, 4.09 seconds.

Track and field has many athletes top placing in Gabilan Division

Track and field is full of talented athletes, many who secured spots in the top two in the Gabilan Division.

For the boys, junior Mack Aldi and sophomore Bodhi Melton took first and second in the 800-meter, Aldi with 1 minute, 54.16 seconds and Melton with 2 minute, 2.36 seconds. The two athletes hold the same places in the 1600-meter, Aldi with 4 minutes, 26.88 seconds and Melton with 4 minutes, 28.01 seconds. Freshman Jasper Bolante has first in the 3200-meter with 10 minutes, 18.50 seconds. 

In high jump, junior Simeon Brown tied for first with a 5-10, and junior Ashton Rees held second in triple jump with a 43 1/2 and second in long jump with a 21-7.

Junior Simeon Brown tied for first in the PCAL Gabilan divsion for high jump with a 5-10. (photo by RIKK KVITEK)

For the girls, junior Ava Ghio claimed first in the 3200 with 11 minutes, 34.41 seconds and first in the 1600 with 5 minutes, 25.91 seconds. Sophomore Lila Glazier is second in the 3200 with an 11 minutes, 51.61 seconds. 

“In terms of percentage of overall team points, the distance runners are doing extraordinarily well,” says  distance coach Matthew King.

In girls’ high jump, junior Jadyn Lome tied for first with 4-8. In pole vault, junior Bella Ortega held first with 11-0.

Published May 9, 2024 BY CASSIDY SCHEID Boys’ volleyball CCS bound and killing it  Coached by James Airola, boys’ volleyball finished second in Gabilan division (8-2 in league, 18-11 overall) and was set to compete in CCS starting May 6. This season, senior captain Sebastian Daste had 155