1st Place Stories & Art


1st Place News

News, editorial and editorial cartoonists listen to the press conference at the OCJEA write-off at Fullerton College on Feb. 26. Photo by Kenny Cung, Fountain Valley

By Ashley Hyun Song, Troy High School

Eight students from Tangerine High School are being criminally investigated in suspicion of electronically altering 54 students’ grades.

Though no formal charges have been filed against these students, the Citrus County state’s attorney launched a full criminal investigation on Feb. 26.

“In the state of California, the unauthorized use of computers can be prosecuted as a crime,” Citrus County state’s attorney Peter Florrick released in a statement. “I intend to investigate and try the perpetrators as criminals.”

All 54 students whose grades were altered were suspended for three days on Feb. 14 and are subject to expulsion pending the investigation, Principal Samuel Clementine said.

“As one of the top schools in the county, we found this action [of suspension] necessary as the security breach was serious,” Clementine said.

The eight suspected students are believed to have stolen teachers’ computer passwords using USB key loggers then accessed the grade books to change their grades.  The first evidence of grade tampering was noticed on Jan. 31, Chief Technology Officer of the Citrus Unified School District Steve Gates said.

“A teacher reported a glitch where a student’s grade changed from a C to an A,” Gates said. “He sent for an IT specialist who confirmed [the change] appeared as a legitimate correction by the teacher.”

Upon further investigation, it was revealed that the grades were being altered by students at the school.  The eight in suspect, whose names cannot be revealed due to federal privacy laws, are believed to have altered the other 46 grades to avoid being identified by officials.

Many found it upsetting that all 54 students were suspended for the actions of a few select students, Joshua Jones, a parent of a student at Tangerine High School said.

“How can the school punish all the students without proof?” Jones said.  “The academic image [of the school] will be compromised by a handful of students.”

Clementine has promised to expunge the record of the innocent students as soon as the investigation is concluded.  He also stated that the incident is not a reflection on the quality of the school.

“Tangerine High School enjoys its well-deserved reputation,” Clementine said. “It came as a complete shock to us that students gained access and modified grades.  We will use this incident to determine other preventive measures to stop this from happening again.”

1st Place Editorial Cartoon

By Kristine Nichols, Fountain Valley

1st Place Editorial

By Veeraj Chugh, Sunny Hills High School

The Next Big Bubble

All hail thy holy Tangerine High School!

In today’s world, high school has no longer become a place for teenagers to discover themselves. The happy, jovial environment is nowhere to be found in America’s high schools anymore, and is instead replaced by an abyss of college-hungry robots that would gladly give up a kidney for admission into an Ivy League college.

The pressure has been growing for years, with more kids applying to colleges for the same number of spots available, if not less. High school has become the gauge to find out if we will be successful adults, if we are blessed by admission to our dream college or if we are complete failures who will work for minimum-wage the rest of our lives.

Tangerine High School students are a perfect example of college pressured kids with no way out. A recent incident of 54 students being suspended for allegedly changing grades shows how high school kids crack under the enormous pressure of college acceptance. While the school administration cringes at the thought of losing our great reputation, they fail to realize that this may just be a warning of a greater issue.

Although evidence is held against only 8 kids, it represents a larger picture of the state of high school students. The pressure has mounted too high, and the only way out for these students was to cheat so that they could avoid failure. Nowadays, admission to anything less than a top 100 college is looked upon poorly by society. It is wrong, it needs to stop immediately or the future of this country will suffer.

Events like this will continue to happen, if the pressure is not lifted off students. Colleges do not understand that a population increase should be proportionate to the amount of students being accepted. Are there really only less than 900 high school seniors worthy of attending Harvard out of the almost 20,000 that apply.

This country has faced many bubbles that have burst in our faces, and when we look back, we see our foolishness. The technology bubble of the early 2000s showed us our innocence in believing that a silicon chip was worth its weight in gold. The recent housing bubble that exposed our stupidity in letting Wall Street executives dictate the conditions on Main Street. The college bubble is next.

The pressure will explode right in the face of our parents, high schools, colleges and anybody else who feels that the situation right now is fine. There will be more cheating, copying and plagiarism by burdened students in a wrong system, and if you think USB key logging teacher’s passwords was clever, you are in for a surprise. If not academic dishonesty, take an action more serious such as suicide. The suicide rate of high school teenagers has increased tremendously over the last 10-15 years, and it is no coincidence that every year thousands of more students are applying to college over the same time period.

Legally, it was very wrong and against school and state laws. But it poses the question whether these students would have even considered something so drastic had there not been so much pressure from the school and colleges. After all, 54 of the 54 suspended students were juniors, the year that it is imperative you succeed to get into a good college. Obama is constantly saying that America is behind in mathematics and science, and that we as students are the future. How can we as the “future” excel with a load full of GPA, SAT, ACT, college applications, AP classes, community service hours and the eternal list of things required to get into a good college? How can you expect seniors to succeed when it is known that we are prone to mistakes? We are supposed to make mistakes and to learn and grow from them is the definition of being a teenager. Yet we have a no room for error in such a competitive world.

IF we do not fix this problem, only a select few will succeed. Colleges need to allow more kids to attend, to give them a chance to succeed. High school should not be a place where we are forced into insanity to get into a college. Teenagers have no voice in the decisions of colleges, so we must simply comply with their demands, and as in the case of the accused students, it can be bad. If we change the system for the better, problems like this will not occur, and Obama can be content about the future of this country.

Peter Schelden speaks to the OCJEA feature writers about being the editor at Patch Mission Viejo. Photo by Kenny Cung, Fountain Valley


1st Place Feature

By Annabel Liou, Sunny Hills

With a pin-striped shirt, faded jeans, and narrow glasses, Peter Schelden seems like a regular middle-aged guy.  He speaks in a gentle but gruff tone and is always polite.  He is an ordinary guy that happens to be bringing his community’s local news and interactions online for instant access and discussion.  And essentially, he believes that his ordinary guy demeanor is what makes him so good at his job.

“No one knows the community quite like the people like me who work there,” he said.  “I work on the behalf of my community to give them information and help them care about what is going on.”

Schelden is the editor of the Mission Viejo Patch, a community-specific news and information source that brings community-based information online for quick access.  It reports on local news and events, provides photos and videos from around town, and lets readers participate in discussion online.  He left the Orange County Register in 2008 in order to take part in the online news world, he said.

Personally, I saw newspapers were suffering quite a bit and I wasn’t sure if there would be a place for me there in the future,” he said.  “Online is where newsreaders want to go nowadays.”

With over 800 Patch websites in 22 states across the nation, Schelden said he was interested in the idea of Patch websites because they reach out to the people in their own community.

“Internet news covers international content easily, but there is a hole in local issues,” he said.  “Patch fills that hole and is the most serious effort of bringing local news online.”

A large aspect of Patch is its focus on interacting with its readers, Schelden said.  Readers are able to submit their own announcements, photos, and reviews.

“I am talking to these people in my stories so I want to read their comments and know what they think about it,” he said.  “It’s about getting a conversation going among people who are most affected by the local news we are reporting.”

Though news reporting has changed since Schelden’s high school years, he said he is embracing the online aspect of it.

“Online lets you share news right away like newspapers and television,” he said.  “But most importantly, you find ways to get information to a lot of people.”

He said online reporting is the best way to let people know what is happening, which is the goal of news.

Democracy and journalism go hand in hand,” he said.  “People need to have good and accessible information to make good decisions, and that is the purpose of online journalism.”

He plans for the Mission Viejo patch to gain more trust and legitimacy in its readers, so they will have a good source to turn to for their information.

“We are trying to reach out to our audience and use personal skills, convince, engage, and talk to people,” he said.  “We want to gain legitimacy and more respect so that people can trust our reporting.”

Schelden said he encourages Mission Viejo residents to visit the Patch’s website, missionviejo.patch.com, and to share their stories.

“I find listening to local peoples’ stories just as rewarding as those big stories,” he said.  “International and national news may be important, but local news is what matters to the ordinary people.”

Four-time Olympic medalist Kaitlin Sandeno talks to Marisa McNally after the OCJEA sports press conference on Feb. 26. Photo by Taylor Sato, Mission Viejo


1st Place Sports

By Nicole Kim, Irvine High School

Twelve hundredths of a second was all it took for Yana Klochkova of Ukraine to beat 21 year-old Kaitlin Sandeno in the women’s 400 meter individual medley (IM) at the 2004 Olympic Games at Athens. But though she did not get the gold, Sandeno was just as much of a winner as Klochkova.

Kaitlin Sandeno returned to her high school after attending the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia with a bronze medal in the 800 meter free style and a tattoo of the Olympic rings on her back. Classmates and reporters swarmed the star swimmer on her first day of senior year at El Toro High School in Lake Forest, Calif. She had achieved what only three women before her in history could claim to—qualifying for three Olympic events at the age of 17. Buy swimming was not her only achievement; Sandeno was also Vice President and homecoming queen.

“Unlike many Olympic athletes, I grew up very well rounded instead of letting swimming consume my entire life,” Sandeno said. “I had very laid back parents that didn’t care if I lost, which gave me the advantage of never being afraid to fail because I knew they would love me regardless.”

At her first Olympics in 2000, Sandeno was initially crushed when she placed fourth in the 400 meter IM. Considered one of the most grueling races, the young star cried for the first time in her swimming career because of the disappointment, but as a result of the loss, she gained a new philosophy.

“I didn’t have the medal people expected and bet on me to receive, but my perspective changed when a friend reminded me ‘you’re 17 and only three people in the world can beat you,’” Sandeno said. “From that point on I decided to always do my personal best. My motto became ‘you can’t control the uncontrollable.’”

After graduating high school, Sandeno chose to swim for the University of Southern California (USC) on a full athletic scholarship. While training at USC, she suffered a shoulder and back injury that put a damper on her high hopes for her swimming career.

“I began to question whether I wanted to [swim] anymore,” Sandeno said. “There I was as the top recruit and I felt like all I did was complain. It was difficult to sit and cheer because I am such a competitive person, but once my rehabilitation started it became my goal and desire to get better and make the 2004 Olympic trials.”

Upon her return to the Olympic spotlight in 2004, Sandeno’s fame had faded and she felt less pressure to perform. She qualified for the 400 meter free style, 200 meter butterfly, 800 meter freestyle relay and 400 meter IM. Despite setting a world record in the 800 meter free style relay and placing first, the silver medal Sandeno won in the 400 meter IM remains her favorite. For four and a half years, Sandeno was stuck at four minutes and forty seconds for the 400 meter IM, but that day she broke her personal record and the American record with a time of four minutes and thirty-four seconds.

“For me personally, as cheesy as it sounds, my silver medal means the world to me,” Sandeno said. “It represents four years of ups and downs—especially downs—in my swimming career.”

Sandeno graduated from USC as a junior with a social science and history degree and then moved on to train in Ann Arbor, Michigan in the post-graduate team Club Wolverine amongst seven other aspiring 2008 Olympians, including Michael Phelps. However, due to a severe upper respiratory infection brought on by the cold weather and her asthma, Sandeno did not make it past the finals in the 2008 Olympic trials.

“Never in my life had I trained so hard, it was almost overwhelming because all I did was swim,” Sandeno said. “When I didn’t make it to the Olympics, I knew my swimming career was done. Looking at my parents in the stands, cheering for me despite the loss, it was like a weight was lifted from my shoulders.”

Currently settled in Irvine, Calif., Sandeno coaches a non-competitive swim team called Sandeno Swim Club alongside her older sister Camilyn. She is also a performance consultant at THINK physical therapy in Tustin and a sports writer for Yahoo! Online.

“It’s really special to coach with my sister,” Sandeno said. “We promote a more active lifestyle and healthy living in kids. I love to coach, even if the kids aren’t competitive swimmers.”

1st Place Critical Review

By Brie Roche-Lilliot, Fountain Valley High School

Ten9Eight: Shoot for the Moon- Inspirational Film or Plea for Pity?

The concept is good; seven cities, thirty-five lucky students and a $10,000 cash prize awarded to the best new idea. An inventory of innovative ideas, including custom guitars, imported cell phone charge stations, and Eco-dog treats, were designed and displayed by teenagers from fourteen to nineteen years old, all coming from diverse racial and social backgrounds. However, its execution was much less successful in portraying the struggles of entrepreneurs, and focused more on stereotypes and discrimination.

Ten9Eight began well; the futuristic numbers scrolling across the screen revealed shocking statistics about teenage education in urban cities, while laying the foundation for a reoccurring numerical theme. Bold statements exposing that “50% of inner city minority students fail to graduate” and “one kid every nine seconds drop out” gave the documentary a powerful beginning and potential to create a poignant, motivational story. Yet after the introductory five minutes, the numeral motif was forgotten and ignored until the film’s conclusion, loosely tying the beginning and end together in a confusing, unnecessary way. In fact, the film would have held a stronger theme without the strong emphasis of numbers at all.

It was hardly secrete that the director, Mary Mazzio, intended to inspire and motivate her audience with the touching tales of Shan Shan Huang’s father’s death, or Jamal’s struggles in school. But rather than focusing on the successes of the unfortunate, disadvantaged teenagers, the interviews, scenes and profiles emphasized the failures, regrets and sufferings of each student. Racial discrimination, absent families, drug abuse and immigration struggles; these person tragedies and others were accentuated, while their achievements were barely noted before the film rushed to the next contestant. If Mazzio hope to encourage her viewers, perhaps she could have taken a moment to consider the disheartening and dejected feelings that would arise after nearly ninety minutes of sob stories and sympathy.

Perhaps Mazzio suffered from a lack of direction or foundation in her planning, or maybe she had too much information she wished to relate; either way, the filming technique of scenes of Ten9Eight was unorganized, random and in many cases, unnecessary. The majority of the documentary was consumed with the summaries of some of the individual contestants, including their background histories, ideas or products, and several interviews. But what was not acknowledged during the storyboarding of the film, was how rushed the film’s climax and conclusion turned out; the countdown from six months to one day prior to the competition comprised about seven minutes of the entirety.

In other instances, the scene would cut to a present interview with a past entrepreneur, and show where they are now. Not only were these flashbacks unsystematically places, they were far from inspirational (one example interviewing Howard Stubbs, an entrepreneur changed drug dealer, changed federal prisoner, changed hot dog vendor and caterer). A few times throughout the film, unknown teenagers in urban street clothing would rap and dance in front of a graffiti wall, spitting out rhymes of equality and prejudice, completely unrelated to the plotline that had occured moments before. It seemed that Mazzio’s concept was too broad, too extensive, and far too cliche to work well as a single, cohesive film.

Far too often are the accomplishments of poor, unfortunate or less educated students ignored and forgotten, so Mary Mazzio’s purpose in acknowledging and rewarding the efforts of these brilliant teenagers is highly commendable. Yet it was her execution of the idea that made her film less effective than it had potential for. A majority of the audience is aware of what kinds of struggles students of inner cities and urban environments go through. But perhaps if she had refrained from the conventional please for sympathy from her viewers, and had spent more effort on relating to her audience or inspiring them, Mazzio could have produces a rewarding, unorthodox, emotional documentary.

1st Place Yearbook Copy

By Katie Mendoza and Constance Brannick, El Toro

On a gray Saturday Morning, Newport Harbor High School was a sight to see as hundreds of runners dressed in their wackiest outfits prepared to run the 24th annual Harbor Heritage 5k run.

“The Heritage Run is such a tradition. I ran it when I went to Harbor, now my kids are running it,” PTA President and Chair of Events, Mrs. Pat Miller said.

The race is held to help fund several things for Newport Harbor including College Knowledge night, ASB, the visual and performing arts departments and some college scholarships.

“This run helps fund much needed programs at Newport Harbor,” Principal Michael Vossen said who was presented with a framed “brochure” of this years race to be hung in the heritage hall at Newport by PTA.

This year several student teams joined including the “Digital Dashers” in support of the Art Department the team consisted of the digital photography class.

“The class put together a team to support the Art Department,” senior Kevin Archer said.

Swim team showed off their stuff dawning on nothing but Speedos and a pair of tennis shoes despite the chill in the air. They were the first group to win the race but it was Joshua Yesely of Corona Del Mar who won the race with a time of 15:49 with an average of five minutes per mile he ran. The race ended with oranges and chocolate milk passed out restore lost calcium and energy to the tired runners and walkers.

“We had so much fun planning our costumes for the run than actually running the race,” junior Ashleigh Carlson said sporting a red cape in support of her team.

The day ended with smiles and laughter as students, teachers, coaches and families rallied  together to show Sailor Pride and share stories of what happened on the 24th annual Harbor Run.


Joanne McDermott, Jason Kehe and John Schaefer speak at the "Meep" press conference. Approximately 73 students competed in news and novice news. Photo by Eugene Shin/IRVINE

1st Place News

By Hye Sun Kim, Sunny Hills

After Tangerine High School principal Alice Carleton gave a three-day suspension Thursday to a student who used a disruptive word, the student filed a complaint against the school, officials said.

“There was no malicious intent,” senior Connor Henson, who was suspended, said. “It’s a clear violation to my first rights for freedom of speech.”

Though Henson said he and his friends created the word for fun and does not know about its real meaning, the principal believes it was targeted toward a specific teacher, as the students would stand outside of a certain room every day.

“I think that the behavior consisted more than just the word,” Carleton said. “Any professional trying to do a job would be disturbed.”

Henson received punishment not only because he said such a word, but also because he used it after the school applied a new disciplinary policy of warnings and automatic phone calls to prevent student disruption, Carleton said.

“I stand by the policies [and] students were adequately warned,” she said. “I think [Henson] was fully aware of the consequences and tested the disciplinary policy.”

Although these policies were adapted after receiving information from the vice president about planned student protest on the internet, students continued to use such a word, the principal said.

“Despite the warning, the students’ behavior did not stop,” she said. “They would stop for a time being but they would resume in time.”

However, American Civil Liberties Union [ACLU] attorney John Marshall said such student disruption did not happen and because there was no violence or harm, suspension of Henson was inappropriate.

“It’s unconstitutional to punish a student for saying a word that’s not disruptive,” Marshall said. “No disruption in fact occurred.”

On the other hand, Carleton said campus security officers were needed to suppress the students’ assumedly targeted activity, and the word, whether it was harmless, was used in a disruptive manner.

“I rely on the input I get from my staff,” she said. “As the administrator of the school, I am obviously concerned of every single one of my students.”

The two parties will exchange information on court and have a judge to evaluate whether the school district violated Henson’s freedom of speech, the ACLU attorney said.

1st Place Editorial Cartoon

By Martha Han, Bolsa Grande

1st Place Editorial

By Sarah Chang, Irvine

Some people believe the famous saying: “sticks and stones may break y bones, but words can never hurt me.” But not Connor Henson, a senior at Tangerine High School, whose innocent utterance of the word “meep” resulted in a three-day suspension and legal battle. Although Henson had been told not to say the word, his one-time disobedience in no way deserved the insane administrative crackdown that followed.

The incident began a week ago, when a science teacher complained to Principal Alice Carleton of a group of students congregating outside the classroom and repeatedly using the nonsense word “meep.” Concerned that the students were harassing the teacher, Carleton sent security guards to stop the behavior. When students persisted in saying “meep,” and formed a social networking group online to protest the ban on the word, Carleton notified students that anyone using “meep” would be suspended. Two days later, a teacher informed Carleton that Henson had used the word before class. The hapless teen was subsequently suspended for this offense.

To an outsider, this entire scenario appears ludicrous. Carleton’s act of suspending Henson for using a meaningless word demonstrates an unreasonable need for control  bordering on obsession. Of course, it is acceptable and expected of principals to foster a learning environment free of disruption. And the fact that students only seemed to gather around one particular classroom when using the word “meep” hints at a deeper issue that Carleton was right to be concerned about. However, her harsh choice of punishment and inability to get to the root of the problem are inexcusable.

As John Marshall, an ACLU attorney, pointed out, it is never constitutionally permissible to punish students unless a disruption has occurred. Henson, who spoke the word before class while he was, in his words, “goofing around,” did not disrupt class in any way, shape, or form. Of course, Carleton and her supporters may argue that students were forewarned of the consequences, and Henson got what he deserved. But the fact remains that the rule was grossly unreasonable from the start, and Henson should not have been singled out for disciplinary action on his first offense.

Carleton’s method of obtaining information regarding the issue also displays a lack of judgment and professionalism. Based on the complaints of one teacher over the use of “meep” and the hearsay of one administrator about the social networking group—a rumor that Carleton did not personally follow up on—the principal devised this harsh and ridiculous method of resolving the problem. From beginning to end, the issue has been mismanaged. Principal Carleton’s main issue against the usage of “meep” for example, concerns whether or not the word has some nefarious meaning the adults are unaware of. Yet there was no attempt to make clear what this nebulous “meaning” could possibly be.

As Henson repeatedly emphasized, the word “meep” is a made-up word, as inoffensive as the word “potato.” He chose to utter the word carelessly, not thinking of the repercussions, because he, like any normal teenager, could not believe administrators would actually carry out their excessive threats.

In the end, Henson’s biggest fault appears to be not taking his superiors seriously—a lapse in judgment that warrants a stern warning or a detention at most. More concerning is the administration’s over-the-top knee-jerk reaction to what could have been a miniscule blip of an issue. If administrators cannot even distinguish between behavior that is seriously disruptive versus behavior that is playful and mischievous, there is no telling what will become of students’ first amendment rights to free speech.

Drew Boudreau, general manager of the Maverick Theatre in Fullerton, talks about his job and upcoming show "Rent-The Musical," which opened Friday, Feb. 26, 2010. Photo by Andy Nguyen, BOLSA GRANDE.

1ST Place Feature

By Miranda Gonzalez, La Habra

For the Maverick Theatre in Fullerton, putting on a musical such as Rent may seem like an ambitious move. Drew Boudreau, the theatre’s general manager, wholeheartedly believes in the little theatre’s ability to pull it off—and to be the best. Being the very first small theatre to tackle the musical might lead one to think of the theatre as the underdogs. Boudreau, however, believes in his cast and crew.

Boudreau grew up in Southern California before attending Stony Brook University in New York, where he majored in theatre. Since graduating, he has stage managed professionally. Two of those years have been with the Maverick. While in college, he interned and worked in the U.S. House of Representatives. In the summer of 2006, he interned for Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez, the only Democrat from Orange County in Congress.

He had a passion for theatre, however, and couldn’t give it up, though he doesn’t know exactly why. “I love politics,” he says, “but I can’t not do theatre. It’s like breathing for me.”

He loves improvisation, too, and is a part of the Imagination Machine, a group that receives ideas from children and turns those ideas into “ten minute epics.” Boudreau’s ultimate goal through all of this? To do only improvisation—and to be highly paid for them.

For now, he loves working at the Maverick, and is truly excited about Rent. Director Curtis Jerome is spectacular, he says. A perfectionist and a hard worker, Jerome has the respect of everyone at the Maverick. Because of Curtis, Boudreau says, they could open tonight and still get great reviews. But Jerome wants it even better.

As for the audience, Boudreau believes anyone can relate to the story, in part because of the cast. “It’s and older cast,” he says, “but some have familiarity with HIV and AIDS, which makes for a more truthful message.” And it should, seeing as the musical deals with a group of artists and musicians who are struggling to make it through the Lower East Side of New York. Already leading impoverished lives, they have to find a way to make it through AIDS as well.

Boudreau believes anyone can relate to the story. “It deals with dignity,” he says. Those in the story don’t want to lose it to the disease; it’s the one thing everyone can hold on to. “Plus,” he laughs, “the songs are great.”

Rent—The Musical opens February 26 at the Maverick Theatre in Fullerton. Boudreau recommends that everyone see it; everyone can enjoy it. “We’re going to be the best!”

David Junker, executive director of FilmEd Entertainment, explains to the sports feature writers how photographing sports is just like playing a sport. Michelle Bakker also spoke at the sports feature conference. Photo by Salene Jang/OSCHA.

1st Place Sports Feature

by Camille Linares-Reed

Fountain Valley High School – Baron Banner

Teeming with nervous coaches, enthusiastic athletes, and obnoxious water boys, the sidelines of a local high school’s weekly football game isn’t the most comforting place to be late Friday night. Among the chaos stands a young camera man running around the field, dodging flying balls, angry athletes and squirming through large huddles of athletes. His job that night was to capture a picture, but instead of just getting the job done, he had captured much more than a photo. He had captured his passion for photography.

David Junker is much more than the Executive Director of The Film Ed Academy of The Arts, but also a passionate photographer who expresses his love for sports through his pictures.

Junker started college at the University of Southern California in a Pre-medical program. It wasn’t until his junior year in his entrepreneur class that he realized that he had always been in love with sports. He knew he wanted to connect with the game through something he enjoyed: photography.

Junker’s college professor had told him, “Don’t get involved with something you’re not passionate about.” So Junker followed his eye for photography and passion for sports and founded the Film Ed Academy of the Arts in 1999, right after his graduation from USC, in 1998.

After mimicking professional photographers and following their every move, Junker caught onto the basics and quickly, his business rose.

Junker now shoots pictures or films videos for 13 different Orange County high schools ranging all the way from El Toro to Westminster. Between him and the four other workers in his company, they shoot about 70 games every year between 13 high schools.

On top of all the pictures and videos he takes, he also connects with the high schools’ yearbook teams to help them put together digital yearbook DVDs.

Junker’s success is not only a monetary success, but a spiritual and moral success as well.

“I live vicariously through shooting sports,” comments Junker, “I’m a story teller through my shots.”

Many of Junker’s friends have tried to encourage him to market his business, but he refuses. He stated that if his business became any bigger, he would “lose the relationship” he established with the teams he works with.

Through his work and his teachings, Junker managed to inspire many young photographers, such as Michelle Bakker. Junker recognized Bakker’s talent, and he invited her to work with him. From then on, he cherry picked three other talentes to come work for him.

Although his company is small, they still managed to keep calm, cool, and collected through the twelve different events they shoot every week.

Being an athlete shaped Junker’s determination for photography, and being a photographer sculpted him a new found appreciation for sports.

Junker and his colleagues are significantly proud of their accomplishments, “We’re proud of the footage we’re getting. It fires us up, the ownership of our work.”

Without Junker’s passion for sports, drive for success and dedication to his dreams, he would not be in the place he is today. Presently, he inspires young photographers and film enthusiasts to follow their dreams and pursue their passions.

Critical review writer views the exhibit at the Fullerton College Art Museum. Photo by Constance Brannick/EL TORO.

1st Place Critical Review

By Jonathan Zhao, Irvine

Ceramic car rims. Ceramic graffiti. Ink graffiti. Old-fashioned ice cream carts. The work of a Filipino artist Elyse Pignolet.

Showcasing her “Urban Abstractions” gallery in the Fullerton College Art Museum in Fullerton, Calif., Pignolet carefully mixes the ingenuity of the abstract era with the diversity of the urban streets to create a variety of works as neat as they are sloppy, as hideous as they are beautiful. By using both subtle and dynamic art form, she skillfully demonstrates her talent as an artist, thinker and social commentator.

A multilingual herself, Pignolet sifts many different cultures into her artwork. In her 2010 installation piece “Paleta Cart,” for instance, she focuses on a three-dimensional rolling ice cream cart—vibrantly decorated with cartoons and Spanish—against a colorless, two-dimensional backdrop of weird fences and automobile repair shops. Here, she implies one of many Hispanic roles in America and juxtaposes awkwardly, yet realistically, the puerile idleness of ice cream and the colorless anonymity of urban life. The installation piece shows Pignolet’s awareness of her multicultural surroundings as well as an understanding of both visual and conceptual perspective.

Her artistic perspective, in addition rely possibly on her perspective on life. Art need not be perfect or even neat, screams “Untitled #1,” an ink-on-mylar clutter of graffiti, smears and colored ink. Also, while one may discover the Middle Eastern language elusively written within the illustration, observers should note the inclusion of color on this piece, which often evade Pignolet’s mylar artworks. Perhaps this seemingly reckless display of hues on a page underscores the significance of their subjects.

Consistent in her art, though, is the intriguing motif of the arrow. Whether it be in her “Urban Abstraction #2” sculpture or her “Cityscape #1” in sketch, Pignolet’s arrows represent life—not limited to the dwellers of city streets, but inclusive of everyone. The arrows may point to nowhere or everywhere, but the chaos or order the potentially lead to offers a perplexing, unique outlook on life.

Furthermore, although she sometimes uses color to stress some significant object, Pignolet uses the lack of it to her advantage as well. Consider the colorless “Urban Abstractions #2.” A three-dimensional, ceramic imitation of graffiti, it presents countless angles jutting out in countless places, and thick arrows pointing toward and away from the sculpture.

At first glance, it’s a heaping mess without even a paint to drop to beautify it.

However, this lack of color forces viewers to look at the graffiti itself—a confusing jumble, yet an intricate piece; a complex model, yet composed of basic shapes. The artistic density and wild entropy thus coalesce to generate a type of pulchritude often overlooked in graffiti art.

Some may scoff at Pignolet’s work, deeming them flamboyant piles of lines with no meaning or direction. Yes, this weakness may be, in fact, a strength, whether Pignolet knows it or not. Leaving her artwork to her audience’s interpretation, Pignolet advocates the practice of everyone’s imagination: her nebulous and strange efforts evoke different opinions, different visions in everyone.

Cleary demonstration both adaptability to many mediums and a mind endowed with creativity, diversity and thought, Pignolet is a once-in-a-generation talent. Hopefully, she will continue providing piece after exceptional piece to a world in need of more perspective and culture.