Eliza Grigsby , Editor-In-Chief
Eliza Grigsby is a junior at Millbrook High School. This is her second time working with the BlueXpress and is excited to be doing so. Eliza is on the varsity Millbrook swim and softball teams and has been for the past two years. Outside of school, she volunteers in various ways around the community and helps teach a dance class at the Shenandoah Conservatory Arts Academy, as well as help organize their dance ensemble. Eliza has been dancing since she was four years old, and has taken numerous types of dance classes over the years. She is attending Mountain Vista Governor’s School in the morning this year, pushes herself to be the best she can be, and is always willing to help. Eliza loves writing and photography, but plans to go to college after high school to pursue something in the medical field.
Gwen Zirkle is a junior who enjoys writing and reading more than anything else. She has four dogs she likes more than people and enjoys spending time with them. She’s a major nerd who loves a wide variety of TV, from shows like Doctor Who and Sherlock to anime like Soul Eater. Gwen even occasionally enjoys shows meant for kids including Miraculous: Tale as of Ladybug and Cat Noir and Avatar: The Last Airbender. Her favorite movie is Whisper of the Heart, an animated Studio Ghibli film. In her future she sees herself as an author. She has interests in writing all kinds of books and wants to major in English or Linguistics when she gets to college. Gwen knows that there is not much to fall back on but she can’t see herself as anything else. She still need to improve but if she writes daily and studies hard she will eventually achieve her goals.
Anica Moran is a sixteen year old junior this year and is excited to be starting her final years at Millbrook. She loves to bake anything, especially chocolate chip cookies. Journalism is her favorite class of all time because it gives her the opportunity to talk to people she would regularly not talk to. Anica will read anything, from short stories to magazine articles. If it catches her interest, she’s going to read it. She wants to travel the world someday and go everywhere that she can possibly go. Anica loves to listen to music and have big dance parties with her friends. Friends and family are very important to her and she also loves animals, although she only has one pet, a bunny named Chilly. She is hopeful that the school year will pass just as fast as her summer did.
Kiara Torrey is a senior in Millbrook High School, who is now spending her final year in high school with the BlueXpress. Though Kiara is very introverted, she has many passions in life, one being art. She works hard as an artist to make a name for herself in the art world. In the Shenandoah Arts community, Kiara has sold and also has had her artwork sponsored by the Alamo Drafthouse. Another passion of Kiara’s is to travel. She travels around the world every year, but most of her travels focus in on South America (Panama), were over 80+ of her family members live. With this love of travel, Kiara hopes to join the Peace Corps and make a difference in many countries with her art skills.
Bryndan Swaner is a senior at Millbrook. He came into journalism with the new group of over 20 journalists! Even when he’s not in school you can always find him with his face buried in a computer somewhere, as he’s always somewhere doing something tech savvy. He can get a bit crazy at times but he is usually able to keep his sanity in tact.
Tia Asti is a Senior at Millbrook High School. She lives the ordinary life of any other busy teenager: school, work, friends, everyday life, and the occasional mental breakdown. She is 18 years old and recently moved out onto her own, with her beloved best friend. When defining who she is, she chooses the words bubbly, outgoing, humble, creative, determined, unique, reasonable, understanding, and loveable to describe herself. Tia’s hobbies include band, writing, painting, drawing, and making music, canoeing, swimming, traveling, just walking and hanging with friends.
Alan Cortez is an awkward senior at Millbrook High School, and it’s also his first year with the BlueXpress. He is an extroverted introvert, originally from Villa Flores, Mexico. Having been raised in the U.S. since the age of two, he considers himself Mexican-American. Believe it or not, he’s not Asian. He enjoys playing guitar, although he can’t. He also likes studying photography and computer coding. In addition, he spends a lot of time drawing graffiti art and watching history documentaries. His first language is rock n’ roll, and one day he hopes to start his own non-profit organization.
Emily Keller is a junior at Millbrook High School. She is creative when it comes to designing. Math is not her strongest subject, but when it comes to history, she excels. Emily wants to go to California University in Pennsylvania to study to become a teacher. In her free time she likes to listen to music, write, hang out with friends and care for her Golden Retriever dog, Macy. Born and raised in Virginia, she is the only one of her family who did not grow up in Washington, Pennsylvania. Keller is also very excited to be in her second year in journalism and is excited to make new memories and friends.
Sabrina Castillo is a junior at Millbrook. This is her second year of journalism and she can’t wait to develop new skills and improve her current ones. She is independent and shy, so don’t be bothered if she seems distant. Blackbear is Sabrina’s favorite music artist and he is practically the only thing she listens to. After being born and raised in Winchester, she plans to move to California after she graduates high school. Sabrina enjoys browsing the internet endlessly and talking to her online friends. Sabrina is soon to be a trilingualist as she speaks English, Spanish, and is now learning French. She really loves makeup, even though she doesn’t put on a gazillion pounds of it.
Kacie Clearwater is a 15 year old sophomore at Millbrook High School. She lives with 3 of her siblings, her parents, and 6 cats. She considers many of her friends to be close to her instead of having a best friend. She describes herself as, in her words, a “butthead” for lack of a better word, and exactly the opposite at the same time. Although she says she describes herself that way, she says that what makes her different than anyone else is how mature she is for her age, and the fact that there is only one Kacie, which there certainly is. Her older sister, Amber Kohlenberg has a major influence on who she is, and is who she strives to be. Kacie enjoys things like space and literacy, so while she does not yet know her dream job, she imagines that it will involve those two things. Her outlook on life is that you never know what will happen, so enjoy your days for the good parts, and strive to make future events be events that you want to happen in your life. She describes life’s moments based off of a famous candy commercial saying, “First they’re sour, then they’re sweet.”
Ryan is 16 years old and he was born and raised in Winchester, Virginia. He’s lived in Winchester for all his life. His parents moved here when they had his sister which was four years before he was born. Ryan currently goes to Millbrook and he is in the eleventh grade. His whole family consist of nurses and he one day hopes to become a EMT or a paramedic. Ryan is going to go to Lord Fairfax Community College for 2 years to get all his prerequisites done, for getting into the nursing program at JMU. Ryan was going to join the nursing assistant class this year, but after Mr. Campbell suggested journalism he thought “why not?” and signed up. As a hobby He takes apart computers and phones. Ryan also goes to the hospital to shadow his mother.
Blake Curry is 16 years old and a junior at Millbrook. This is his first year in Journalism and he is excited to work with friends and make new ones. In his free time, he likes to play video games, listen to music, ride his bike, and watch Youtube. He loves to listen to music when he is working on something because it gives him ideas and motivation. He has two years of Graphics under his belt at Millbrook so he knows his way around Photoshop and Illustrator.
Payton is an artist in both a musical and visual sense. Her inspiration comes from a large variety of places such as classic literature, nature, and music. Her favorite types of fiction consist of scifi and fantasy, which can easily be seen in the creatures she doodles in class. Her favorite things to draw are aliens and elves. Payton also really enjoys cartoons due to the light-heartedness of the material. Her favorite animated movie is Howl’s Moving Castle and her favorite animated TV show is Steven Universe. Payton also absolutely loves comic books, and her favorite superhero is a tie between Wonder Woman and Deadpool, especially Deadpool because of his frequent satire and fourth-wall breaking. She generally listens to show tunes, but also enjoys classic rock, and videogame soundtracks. Asking her about her favorite musical or video game is probably the worst idea because she really can’t decide. Payton also can’t decide what her favorite book is either. She’s very indecisive.
Laurel is a junior in high school, a lead singer and a writer. But, as she says, these facts simply graze the surface, people are complex. She fronts for the band X-Ray Cat with Collin, Dylan, and Luke. Laurel considers music her strongest point and passion. Ever since she was an infant, she’s been exposed to music in several different ways, from having to take piano lessons at 6, to joining musical theater at 9. All these pursuits led her to realize that she most enjoys playing in a musical group and songwriting. Laurel takes writing almost as seriously as music and she feels that the two go hand in hand. She has written plenty of short stories and poetry in the past, and is currently about to finish writing a book she has been working on for the past several months.
Abby Valladares is a senior at Millbrook High. Abby is 18 years old, and she plans to join the Army after she graduates high school. She has a passion for soccer, and along with her passion, she also loves to go to the gym. Abby also loves shoes and to shop. She loves working with kids and she hopes to travel the world and help the less fortunate people. Along with working with kids, Abby also enjoys working and reading, which help fuel her passion to learn.
Ariel Payne is a sophomore this year. She likes to do photography, sing, sleep, watch Netflix, and she also loves to eat. Ariel likes to take photos as much as she likes being around family. Although she was born in Winchester, she moved to Bunker Hill West Virginia and lived there for 12 years before moving back to Winchester. After high school, she plans to go to college and study photography and psychology. She enjoys trying different things like food and art.
Anna Fox is a junior at Millbrook High School. She wants to go to a college in New York to become a drama therapist. Anna loves to act and has been in many musicals and plays. Broadway music is also her favorite music to listen to, such as Hamilton, Finding Neverland, Newsies, Kinky Boots and Little Shop of Horrors. She also likes to travel and has been to Paris, Alaska, California, Canada, and every state on the East Coast. She would love to travel to all fifty states, Italy, Spain, Africa, Australia and England. Anna is in band at Millbrook and plays trumpet. She has a pug, which is her favorite breed of dog, named Walle. Anna is excited for her first year of journalism and she is getting to know her current friends better, while getting to know some new ones.
Cara George is a junior at Millbrook. If there is a short person with a Marvel shirt on, it’s probably her. This is her first year in journalism and she is interested in photography. She is actively involved in FFA and placed first in a Veterinary Science competition. She dreams of being a veterinarian and wishes to get her degree from North Carolina State. In her free time, she loves to throw a softball with her brother, Braden, while her two German Shepherds, Baron and Raven, try to get the ball away from them. Cara tends to be independent and may escape from crowds in order to read. She is a huge West Virginia fan because most of her family lives there. She is overly obsessed with Captain America and loves all Marvel movies.
Nicole Hauck is a junior at Millbrook High School and has lived in Winchester for the past 2 years since moving from a small town in Iowa. Enrolled in a multitude of honors and AP courses as well as a participant in dual enrollment and various clubs, including TSA, the Science Club, and Japanese Culture Club, she devotes much of her time to academics and the like. Even so, you can often find Nicole with her nose buried deep in a book or sketchbook; she loves to read, draw, and write in her downtime, with dreams of becoming a cartoonist. After high school, she plans on attending college to further her education and broaden the range of possibilities and opportunity for her future. Enthusiastic and ready, Nicole is keen to take on the responsibilities of wearing the Journalism badge, helping the staff to improve the BlueXpress experience for everyone.
New to the BlueXpress team is Maddie Lazenby, which is pronounced lay-zen-bee. She and her family moved around the U.S. quite a bit when she was young but they are happy to live in Winchester, Virginia now. She has an older brother named Camden, who used to work at the BlueXpress too, and a puppy named Molly, who acts more like a cat than a dog. She was likely inspired by Cam and her love of writing and watching the news to join the BlueXpress. She loves to “stay in the know” and keep informed, even when recent events give her head and heart aches. When she is not writing, she is likely reading, sewing, doing archery, daydreaming about Canada, or participating in Drama and Forensics. She plans to continue her love of writing into college and study creative writing and communications, as well as foreign languages. She thinks that the reason she loves writing so much is because she wants to give the same comfort that books have given her to other people.
Francisco Ramirez-Ramos is a Junior at Millbrook High School. In his free time he enjoys playing video games, reading comics and listening to music. His favorite bands are Green Day, Blink-182 and Twenty One Pilots. His favorite subjects in school are history and math. He is the second youngest of 6.
Abby Varricchio, a sophomore, is a first year member of the Blue Xpress team. She can’t wait to undertake new projects and meet new people. Her love of writing and new experiences inspired her to join the team. Originally from Hartford, Connecticut, Abby moved to Winchester when she was two years old. Although she loves to visit her family in Connecticut, Abby holds Washington D.C as one of her favorite places to visit. When Abby was younger, she remembers visiting Washington D.C and being awestruck by the history made and being made there. This inspired Abby’s interests in how the United States Government works and what it means to America. After high school, Abby plans to go to college and become a lawyer. Eventually she hopes to reside on Capitol Hill, or maybe even in the White House.
Will Zirkle is a senior here at Millbrook high, he plans to pursue a career in the field of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) or drones, these aircraft are capable of taking amazing photos and beautiful videos that you would only see in movies otherwise. This student plans to attend the University of North Dakota because they offer a bachelor’s degree in UAV. He would like to be the school’s aerial videographer, as well as a photographer. In his free time he fools with robotics and most likely has a robot on him at all times.
Nelson Garay is currently a junior at Millbrook. He is 16 years old and was born in Alexandria, VA. Nelson joined Journalism mostly because nothing else appealed to him and hopes he enjoys it. He has been through a lot in his life so far, although he can’t really explain without first explaining the Multiverse Theory and drawing up at least a simple diagram of how timelines work (not your average timeline they teach you in school). Nelson isn’t sure what his strengths and weaknesses are, and he isn’t one to say things about himself. He isn’t really afraid of anything, but that doesn’t mean a jump-scare can’t surprise him. In his spare time, he enjoys playing video games (PC and console), sometimes draw, and practice his skills in real world combat (he’s more dangerous than he looks, and it goes with the whole ‘Been through a lot in life but too long to explain here’ thing).
Connor Gordon thinks of himself as a fairly unique person. He enjoys writing and really likes computers. Connor has even assembled his own from parts that he ordered online. He hopes to work in an IT-related field one day. whether it be networking or even computer repair. Some of his favorite TV Shows are Breaking Bad, Archer, Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Silicon Valley and House of Cards. He am a very liberal person but he still likes to be open-minded and listen to others’ opinions. Connor chose Journalism to meet more like-minded individuals and because it simply sounded fun.
Luke Rangel has lived in Winchester his entire life. His mom’s side of the family is from around here but his dad’s side of the family is from Costa Rica. Luke is sixteen and currently an eleventh grader at Millbrook High School. In his free time he likes to draw and play a variety of instruments such as guitar, bass and occasionally the ukulele. He is very interested in music and movies. Some of his favorite bands are Blink-182, Nirvana, The Beatles and Bob Dylan. After high school, Luke hopes to get into a nice college.
Joel Sherman is 16 years old and was born on May 11, 2000 in Reston, Virginia. He enjoys playing soccer, basketball, and fishing in his free time. Joel works as a U.S. Soccer Federation referee. During summer vacation, he traveled to Outer Banks, North Carolina and spent lots of time on the beach. This year in school, he hopes to accomplish all A’s in the three AP classes he is taking, including AP Calculus AB, AP English 11, and AP US History. Joel prefers to work with his buddy Ben on all assignments possible (especially graphic design work). his family originated from different countries across Europe, some of which are: Germany, Ireland, and Finland. His father is the head project manager of a school board based in New York, and his mother is a teacher at a local middle school. When Joel gets out of school, he wants to continue in film making or graphic design.
Ben Schwab is 16 years old and was born on January 7th, 2000 in Columbus, Ohio. He enjoys graphic design and playing hockey and soccer in his free time outside of school. Ben have a job as a USARS hockey referee. During summer, he traveled to Los Angeles, San Diego and the Outer Banks. This year in school he hopes to accomplish all A’s in 4 basic classes. Ben prefers to work with his buddy, Joel, on all assignments possible (especially graphic design work). His family originated from different countries across Europe, some of which are: Germany, Ireland, Wales and Sweden. Ben’s father is an airline pilot for United Airlines, and his mother is an office manager for Cornerstone Asset Management. When he finishes school, he wants to become an airline pilot or graphic designer.
Rachel Hayes is a sixteen year old junior at Millbrook High School. When she was fourteen, she moved to Winchester from a small town in New Jersey. Rachel took journalism this year because she thought it would be a good creative outlet, since she is such an opinionated person. In her free time, she enjoys doing any activity that involves exercise, because she loves sports. In the past, she did gymnastics for ten years, as well as a handful of other sports. Rachel hopes to make the track team this year, as well as maintain her good grades. Even though she is a junior, Rachel still has no idea what career she would like to pursue or what college she wants to attend. Her interests at the moment include math and exercise, so she’ll see where those two take her in the following year, and hopes that she finds something interesting to study.
Daeshanelle Thomas is 16 years old and lives in Winchester, however she was born in Manchester, Jamaica. She play softball, basketball, volleyball and tennis. At the moment, Daeshanelle is working at Sonic, and she loves her job. In her free time she loves to read and write, and her favorite author is John Green. Along with writing, photography has been an interest of her’s for a long time, however, she wants to become a pediatrician. She also loves to have company and enjoys being around people. Daeshanelle loves to spend time with her family and friends. The best part of her day is when she gets to go home and spend time with her little sister. Even though she is only 7 years old, Daeshanelle looks at her as a best friend, and no matter what, she will never leave her side.
Collin Boyer is one of the coolest sophomores to ever exist. His main hobbies persist of playing guitar and sleeping. He is also interested in 3D model designing as well as reading books. Collin joined journalism in hopes of learning more information about photography, and even some graphic design
Dylan Boyer is 16 years old and in 11th grade. He was born in Virginia in 2000 and in 2005 he moved to Florida for about four years. One of Dylan’s favorite things in life is music, punk rock specifically. His Dad is a big punk rock fan, and had him listening to it since he was a baby. Some of Dylan’s favorite bands include Bad Religion, NOFX, and Lagwagon. He is currently in a band with a few classmates; Collin, Luke, and Laurel. Aside from music, he skateboards and has been skating for eight years. Some of his favorite movies of all time are Back to the Future, Superbad, and The Breakfast Club. After high school, Dylan plans to either go to college or join the military.
Tiffany Marie Becker Eastridge is an 18 year old senior at Millbrook High School. Her parents are divorced for personal reasons and she has one sibling, her brother who is twelve years older than her. She has one best friend, Haley, and they have been best friends since fourth grade. Tiffany loves to read teen fiction books and watch anime, movies and tv shows. Right now she is reading Red Queen and watching Assassination Classroom. She has a hard time coming out for her shell if she doesn’t know the people surrounding her well or if she in a new environment. Tiffany isn’t the best with spelling or grammar, but she tries her best to be as correct as she can. Lastly, there is more to get to know about Tiffany that a lot of people don’t know.
Gavin Boyce is a junior at Millbrook. Most of his time consists of writing and watching multiple classic films, such as “Apocalypse Now”, “Pulp Fiction”, and “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly”. He always watches shows or films because of the story and cinematography. It is because of this that he wishes to go to film school. Other than watching films, Gavin is a fan of music. When he is not writing or composing shots, he is listening to music. His favorite band is Bring Me The Horizon, and his favorite song is Throne. Their music is a blend of storytelling and rock, which is something Gavin can’t get enough of. His life consists of cinema, music, and peace. He is an experienced freestyle writer whose favorite genres are horror, action, and thriller. Overall, Gavin is his own person, divergent from others, and he looks forward to working in Journalism.
Chris Argueta is a Senior at Millbrook High School and is interested on what Journalism has to offer for him. He is Hispanic-american (even if he doesn’t look like it) and lives with his parents and older brother. An avid keyboard player, Chris has been working on making music for personal projects or to get a mindset on how the projects he works on should go. He is usually seen watching animated shows like Gravity Falls or Steven Universe because of the interesting character, stories, and more importantly the animation. Chris is very interested in Multiverse theories, Quantum Physics and studying higher spacial and temporal dimensions beyond our 3rd one. I guess that’s why Flatland by Edwin Abbott Abbott is considered one of his favorite books. He hopefully wants a career in animation, and create his own shows for all to watch from his creatively calm yet also insane mind. If you ever meet this kid then get ready to lose your sanity and sense of reality…