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The Student News Site of Buena High School

Buena Speaks

The Student News Site of Buena High School

Buena Speaks

Teachers who make memories, not just lessons

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Within every classroom exists  an individual with four years of college experience, a graduate degree, a lifetime full of wisdom, and a passion for teaching high schoolers. All teachers have something that makes their class unique. Here are three teachers who think outside the box and give students a class time experience. 

Michael Gianelli

As a Buena alumni and teacher for 27 years, World History and AP European History teacher Michael Gianelli is a household name with l students. His quirky and fun personality makes him easy to get along with and even easier to trust his teaching. A day in his class goes along normally, with note taking, Crash Course videos, lectures, and a classic Gianelli song to recap everything that we just learned.

“Songs are just poetry,” Gianelli said. He explained that writing each song is just as important as creating lesson plans. “[Students] start to understand [the history] differently by hearing through a song.” 

Even though he had been immersed in music his whole life, it was after playing the video game “Rock Band” with his wife and kids, that Gianelli was inspired to teach himself guitar as a simple hobby, and started his parody-song series over the COVID-19 break.

“Writing music and playing [guitar] was an outlet,” Gianelli said.

 The first time that he performed one of his ballads was a Rap parody called “Regime Collapse”. His funny but informative lyrics definitely caught the attention of his students and drew their eyes away from their phones and up to the lesson. 

I want to do whatever I can, even if it means embarrassing myself.”

— Michael Gianelli

With his new renditions of Taylor swift’s “We are Never Ever Getting Back Together” to “We are Never Ever Getting Back to Power”, sung from the perspective of Louis XVI during the french Revolution, and “What I Got” by Sublime turned into a post-World War two recap, none of his students can say that Gianelli’s class is boring or quiet. 

Molly Ensminger

When the time comes to read “Brave New World”, a dystopian society novel where individuality and emotions are suppressed from the lab-grown citizens, students await their final task in twelfth grade English.

Before they are even born, citizens of the book are imposed to 4 different rankings, with Alpha being the highest and Epsilon being the lowest. Most who read this book would never want to experience this for themselves, but for the seniors in Buena English teacher Molly Ensmingers’ class, it is a different story. 

From the second they walk into the door, their fate for the quarter is sealed when they pull their rank out of the bag. 

Giannelli plays guitar for his AP European History class. (Alyssa Angeles)

“There [are] only a few Alphas, and it gives them a sense of how unfair and corrupt it is.” Ensminger said.

 In addition to their titles, students must behave and follow the rules of the “cast” they pulled, in and out of school.

“Alphas have to use very proper and sophisticated grammar, [while] epsilon speaks in monosyllabic terms,” Ensminger said. Students in the lower ranks could even lose the privilege to a desk and chair.

With a long list of rules comes frequent punishments that are tracked through other students. Yes, you heard that right, students’ classmates are their own enemies.

 “For every infraction they receive, they have to write a longer reflection.” Ensminger said. The reflection portion of this lesson is an end of the year essay that wraps up the unit, but gets longer and longer with each student’s betrayal.

Although this may seem like a stressful and pointless joke to the seniors, Ensminger reports, “[The activity] gets them interacting with each other, especially with people they don’t really know.” 

Through struggle, the students become a close community as they all bond over their equal suffering. 

They’re all in this together.”

— Molly Ensminger

Claire Hansen

Our final teacher can be found in the best smelling room on campus, teaching one of the tastiest elective Buena offers. Buena Culinary teacher Claire Hansen has a passion for bringing students to a different level of experiential learning. 

In her Culinary class, students learn to make a meal for twenty, but also how to work under pressure. 

“If you’re involved emotionally [and] physically [in a subject], I think you are going to retain information better.” Hansen said. 

With this in mind, instead of a book or a test as a semester final, students are expected to act as if they were in popular cooking competitions and create a meal, game-show style. The beginner culinary students participated in shows like Chopped and Cupcake Wars, while the Honors class built their own catering business. 

“I have to remember that sometimes [the expectations] are not going to get met. But, I do [these projects] for when those expectations are exceeded.” Hansen said. 

Getting 36 amateur chefs to perform at a culinary master level has its challenges, but Hansen explained that taking chances and going all in even when all seems ready to fail is a part of the culinary world. Students who moved on to the next step of Culinary school at Oxnard College gained a new sense of time management, teamwork, and professionalism in messy situations. 

In the end, these teachers leave students with lasting memories, new ways of thinking, and positive school experiences. The extra work these teachers put into their classes shows the dedication teachers put into their jobs for the love of students and learning.

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About the Contributors
Addison Bruno
Addison Bruno, Viewpoint Section Editor
Addy Bruno is a sophmore at BHS and is in her first year of Buena Speaks. She is an avid Chipotle lover and can be found laying on her floor thinking about the secrets of the universe. She is often described as an active human dolphin since shes played water polo for 6 years. She hopes to one day be running a yoga studio in the jungle with her 4 cats.
Alyssa Angeles
Alyssa Angeles, Staff Writer
Alyssa Angeles is a sophomore at BHS and in her first year of journalism for Buena Speaks.

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    Naima DickersonMay 13, 2024 at 2:20 pm

    addy addy addy this is amazing