Snowy Outdoor Activity

The special edition for the HHS Pioneer offers the staff a new way of expressing a fun loving and personal approach to the paper. Michael Hatanaka writes about how he prefers to spend his snow days. He addressees how the students rarely get snow days, and states that they should take advantage of he snowy weather and go out. Snow days offer the perfect opportunity to go out and get exercise, breaking the normal schedule of spending the majority of every day inside.

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Alpine Club climbs to new heights

Heritage’s Alpine Club has kept busy since the start of the school year, taking their first hike up Goliath Peak on August 25. The kick off hike of the year offered new members a taste of what the club has to offer. Mr. Warren, Heritage Math Teacher, has been sponsoring the club for 18 years.

“My favorite things about the club is the ability that it gives me to see the beauty of Colorado and all of its natural wonder, and the other is Mr. Warren himself. His constant energy and excitement to get us all up to the top really makes the hikes an incredible experience,” says Alpine Club member Scott Spangler ’20.

The club devoted their weekends to early mornings of hiking places like the Abyss Lake Trail and Mount Bierstadt.

New to the club, Liberty Tyus ’20, comments on the experience of her first hike.

“The first hike I went on was Mt. Bierstadt. This was also my first 14er. It was really difficult at some points of the hike but making it to the top made it all worth it!” says Tyus.

Alpine Club members are offered opportunities unique to the club and Colorado. On October 13, students hiked the snow covered Peaks Y and Z. Club member Mark Spangler ’20 reflects on the trip.

“There was something special about the sheer remoteness of the Y and Z peaks. I hiked the castle last year and it’s still just as much fun to drink tea atop a glorious granite summit. I really felt my bonds with the other hikers grow that day,” M. Spangler says.

Both new and returning members were eager to begin a year full of new challenges, knowing that the extraordinary experiences and friendly atmosphere of the club are well worth the physical exertion required.

“I joined Alpine Club because I love to hike and I’d heard great things about it!” Tyus says.

M. Spangler comments on one of the experiences Alpine Club had to offer.

“Seeing a herd of bighorn sheep crunch through a frozen hillside was something else, and knowing that no other human was around for miles upon miles made the beauty of the Rocky Mountains that much more special,” says M. Spangler

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Heritage musicians spread holiday joy

On Saturday, December 9, select members of the Heritage Brass Choir had the opportunity to give back and spend time with Make A Wish kids at United Airlines’ annual Fantasy Flight.

At the Fantasy Flight, young children with special needs or terminal illnesses are given the chance to fly to the “North Pole,” which is really an airplane hangar just a few miles from the Denver International Airport. Alongside Santa, the children met therapy dogs and Disney characters from Moana to Darth Vader, all while enjoying the music.

“At the beginning of the day when we had just started playing, Erin [Mortensen ’18], our conductor that day, allowed this little boy to come up and conduct with her. He looked so happy while doing it, and when the song was over he ran around and gave each of us a high five. I don’t know, there was just something about how happy that kid seemed to be,” says trombonist Nick Kelley ’19.

The ensemble also took the time to show students their instruments up close, as shown below. This is the second year brass musicians from Heritage have participated. They played a variety of Christmas songs as background music for the festivities.

“If there is one thing I took away from this experience, it’s just how kind people can actually be. Nobody is forcing all of these volunteers to come down and do this,but they come all the same out of the kindness of their hearts,” adds Kelley.

Alex Trautmann ’19 is the reason the Heritage Brass Choir was given the chance to volunteer at the event.

“My family has volunteered at the event for several years. My father works for the airline and two years ago I approached him with the idea of having a small group come and play. The airline loved having us the first year and asked for us back for this year,” says Trautmann.

The musicians loved having the opportunity to make such a special impact on children’s lives. They helped spread some Christmas joy to families and children who really needed it.

“One of the biggest highlights for me is getting to see the kids’ faces and how excited they get throughout the whole experience. It’s one of my favorite things to do every year,” concludes Trautmann.


Students demonstrate trumpet to a Make A Wish kid.

A brass choir member demonstrates her trumpet to a Make A Wish kid.

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Choir Sings a Festive Tune

As the holiday spirit begins to kick in, the Heritage Choir Concert helped spark some holiday cheer. Overall, the concert on December 7, ran very smoothly, and was a great success. A total of six choirs performed at the concert and many friends, families, and students showed up to support the music program at Heritage High School.

From the first day of school until the day of the concert, students spent their choir class time learning and perfecting several songs. Not only do they learn several parts but they spend the first part of class doing music theory. Music theory is a mixture of lessons that include exercises and many different elements of music. This was considered one of the major keys in preparing for the concert.  

“The major keys I think were focus and hard work, as well as music theory. It allowed us to get our skill levels up in order to sing successfully,” says Mr. Fischer, the choir teacher.

As a result, many believed that this was the best concert yet. A couple changes were made to the organization of the concert. For starters, there were no filler acts. Filler acts are a way to fill space in between changing choirs. Any student from school can audition and potentially do an act during the concert. Instead Mr. Fischer used one of the upper level choirs, Check, to sing in between different groups. He believed that it made the concert run smoother, as well as a bit faster.

The concert also was a great success this year because of the way each choir stepped up. Students dedication and work ethic really grew tremendously the first semester. It allowed for the choirs to learn and work on harder music as well as to grow as singers.

“This year it felt like everyone was more dedicated to the choir program, we ask lots of questions to make sure we do our best and improve,” says Sahvanna Rowe ’19.

As for the future, the different choirs have already started working on new songs and preparing for the next concert. The audience can expect to see several medleys as well as some group numbers where multiple choirs get together to sing a few songs.  
CHOIR PICTURE - online 2

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Progressive Club implemented at Heritage


The recently established Progressive Club at Heritage High School allows students to debate their beliefs.

The Progressive Club primarily seeks to educate students on the significance of politics in American lives and participate in community events to engage the general public. In the coming year, the club will work on campaigns and assist citizens register to vote, as well as host lively discussions regarding current political events. The club was founded on the concept that a more politically knowledgeable student body at Heritage will inevitably lead to an enhanced school, local and national community.

Founder and President Miles Hersch ’19 says, “We want to try to make a positive change in our community. Kids are often apathetic and do not participate in politics. I want tell them why they should care, what their politicians are saying, and why it is important to them.”

Club sponsor and Guidance Counselor Mrs. Stewart seeks to support student driven organizations.

“In light of the current political climate, young people are becoming more interested in government and politics and current issues. I appreciate [Hersch’s] desire to start a club to bring students together who want to become informed on different platforms,” says Stewart.

Some have speculated that the Progressive Club is intended to be a response to Turning Point USA, but Hersch disagrees.

“Turning Point USA takes a different point of view on a lot of issues and focuses on government limitations and economic freedoms. They focus on conservative topics that can be resolved by conservative remedies. Although the club is a member of High School Democrats of America, Progressive Club educates more generally on all issues and evaluates all potential solutions,” says Hersch.

The Progressive Club meets each Tuesday after school until 3:30 P.M. in the Second Floor Lecture Hall.

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The Syrian Refugee Crisis through the eyes of Heritage Students


This is a picture was captured by Alyssa Maier, who saw multiple protests in Germany illustrating political tensions.

Eleven million Syrian Refugees have sought asylum from their war-torn country that has been marred by a six-year civil war that broke out in March 2011 according to The sheer number of Syrian refugees flooding into Europe has been the biggest human migration of modern times.

  Julia Niedzwiecka was born in Poland, a country that has recently decided to close their borders and no longer accept the European Union’s set quota for Poland’s immigration, which was 6,500 refugees. Alyssa Maier’s family is from Germany and she spends her summers there studying. Germany in contrast has received the highest number of refugees with more than 476,000 in 2015 according to

  While Poland’s decision to close the borders is seen as nativist to other countries in the European Union who are trying to share the burden of this humanitarian crisis, Niedzwiecka offers a unique perspective on Poland’s political motives.  

  “To understand (Poland’s) motive, it’s important to take a look at other countries’ experiences with Syria’s mass immigration and the social problems it has caused. What most countries don’t realize is the massive undertaking of taking such an influx of foreign population that require tremendous social restructuring. The problem with accepting refugees isn’t due to religious differences, or even for economic reasons, it’s assimilation,” explains Niedzwiecka.

  Maier expresses the same concerns about the obstacles of social assimilation, as she saw first hand how Germany is dealing with their open immigration policies.

  “It seemed like the refugees were kept out of normal society for the most part, they are converting a lot of buildings to house them but it’s really hard for them to work within the first year so they mostly keep within their own little communities,” recalls Maier.

  This issue of assimilation begs the question as to whether the European Union’s attempt to open the borders is responsible, and if these policies really take into account the common good and safety of the citizens.

  “My mother, a massage therapist working 12 hours a day for 6 days a week and makes less weekly than a Syrian refugee gets weekly as an unemployed patron.The welfare program is extremely unbalanced, and the working class suffers,” says Niedzwiecka.

  According to the $15 billion has been spent on the Syrian Refugee Crisis and about 10 percent of that has been contributed by the UK. One of the major issues that influenced Britain’s vote to leave the EU were concerns about immigration and about how that might impact their nation. Niedzwiecka holds a similar line of thinking.

  “The EU is trying their best to assimilate the influx of Syrian refugees, but as more and more countries accept to the point of instability, people are looking to countries with low refugee counts to take in the influx of people. Infrastructure can’t keep up to suit both the citizens of the country and the refugees,” says Niedzwiecka.

To make the nature of this political climate more tangible Niedzwiecka draws a parallel to American society.

“This issue is highly controversial in a similar way it is in America. Liberals are seeking to intake Syrian refugees to save them from their worn torn country in hopes of them to establish a better life, and Conservative measures seek to preserve the safety and security of their nation,” she concludes.

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Smith ignites others to act

Heritage students listened, and in some cases, met motivational speaker Mike Smith on August 22.

Smith is a self-proclaimed ‘professional teenager’ and creator of the Harbor, an educational video series that helps kids and teens alike develop character. An avid skater, Smith also founded two skate related non-profits, the BAY, a youth outreach program and skate park, and Skate For Change which encourages kids to help the homeless by incorporating skateboarding.


Smith takes a selfie with Heritage seniors and juniors. Smith told Heritage students that he holds the world record for selfies with the most people.

Smith discussed the hardships of growing up in Nebraska. The discovery of striving for self-improvement came after realizing that his parents and other loved ones were not impressed by his behavior. Later his father developed cancer, something that strongly affected Smith

“My mother told me ‘I thought we had raised you better,” says Smith as he addresses Heritage students, “I don’t care how tough of a kid you think you are. When you hear that from your mom, that really hurts,” he says.

After Smith’s presentation students and staff members of Heritage crowded around Smith, where he met them with hugs and handed out stickers to students.

“After hearing his presentation, I felt the overwhelming need to talk to him, because he was finally someone I knew I could talk to and he would understand.” says Eryca Hamblen ’17.

Her father was lost to cancer, something that has affected her strongly over the years. Many students addressed Smith personally with their own struggles, thanked him for coming and discussed their own future plans with him.

“Speak for the silent, stand for the broken is my motto,” says Smith.

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AP Computer Science Beckons the Future

Computer Science is one of the fastest growing fields as well as one of the highest paying jobs you can get with a college degree. A class that supplements an interest in this field is AP Computer Science, taught by Mr. Rudolph, Science teacher and Department Co- Chair.

“The goal is to teach the fundamentals of programming of Computer Science. The language we teach is Java, so students by the end of this class should have a basic understanding of Java,” Rudolph states.

Java is an extremely useful programming tool. It can be used for websites such as Amazon, Facebook, Twitter and Ebay. Java is also run on the majority of the Fortune 250’s websites due to its security, proven infrastructure and its flexibility. This means it can run on any machine regardless of its architecture.

Rudolph states that Computer Science also helps facilitate a methodical approach to the solving of problems, not only in just programming but in life as well. When something happens it is best to evaluate the situation and act accordingly.

According to the Bureau of Labor statistics, from 2014 to 2024 there is to be an expected 14% growth in the number of jobs in the field. This would be an increase of around 488,500 new jobs. In total the overall sector would go from around 3.9 million to 4.4 million within that time frame. Although it may seem small, that growth is pretty big in terms of a growing jobs sector. According to Pay Scale, Computer Science is the fourth highest master’s degree major by salary potential, the average early career pay is around 89,000 dollars, and mid-career pays an average of 127,000 dollars.

“I would pursue a career in Computer Science…I really enjoy coding.” says Kate Harrison ’18, who is currently in the class.

Jobs available in the Computer Science field would include software applications developers, computer systems analysts or even web page designers.

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Chemistry students get groovy with tie dye



A chemistry student soaks her t-shirt in chemical fixer so that the die sets in.


Tie Dying is a practice that has been embraced ever since the hippy era in the 1960’s, but for Heritage High school chemists it is also a very hands-on way to learn a few concepts.

“We’ve been doing the tie dye lab in the Science department for several years. It is the most expensive lab the department conducts but it’s a great way to end the year with a little creativity, and it also reminds students that chemistry is at work all the time,” says chemistry teacher Corey Brueckner.

Students pre-soak clothing in Soda Ash fixer solution which allows the fiber reactive dyes to work at room temperature. These fiber reactive dyes attach to the cellulose fibers in white cotton using a covalent (electron sharing) bond. The molecules in the die carry “chromophore” which allows for the fabric to absorb and reflect varying spectra of light.

“I thought tie dying was the best practical lab we’ve done all year because it reminded me that even simple activities like dying clothes take complex chemical reactions,” says Lexi Fischel ’17.

Students are allowed a lot of creative freedom, as they can dye any fabric that will take the colors and can choose from any color combination

“I’ve seen people die all sorts of things, from socks to white comforters. It’s always fun to see how creative people can get with it,” says Brueckner.


Another student ties rubber bands around her t-shirt to create a pattern.

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Andrews Soars at State

Andrews Soars at State

Andrews has been swimming since she was ten years old. When she’s not swimming for Heritage, she swims for her club team, Foothills Swim Team.

By Annie DeGrood and Katie Marshall

 Kylie Andrews ‘18 dreams of entering a competition where world records are broken and dreams become reality.

   “It would be fun to go to the Olympics,” says Andrews, who placed first in the 100 yard freestyle at the CHSAA 5A Women’s State Swim Meet on Saturday, February 13. Her winning time of 50.91 seconds is just a mere two seconds off of Missy Franklin’s record.

   Andrews did not make the Automatic All-American time for the 100 freestyle (which is a 50.59) but she did achieve an All-American consideration.

   “I feel pretty good, there’s a lot of competition in the pool. It was a positive environment in the team for the season,” says Andrews.

   Andrews is currently only three seconds away from the Olympic trial cut in the 200 free. As a result, she has quickly become a valuable weapon to the Heritage girl’s swim team, with this only being her second year on the team.

   “Kylie’s determination and tenacity have set her apart from other swimmers on the team. She knows what she wants to get out of swimming,” says science teacher and coach Mrs. Jill Schrader.

   During the season, Andrews practices ten times a week and lifts for four days a week on top of swimming.

   “My closest time is a half second to a second for 50 Free for the Olympics,” says Andrews.

   Though Andrews herself certainly stands out on the team, she values the athletes she swims with at Heritage.

   “Our team did really well! We all trained really hard…There was a lot more bonding this year. We all understood each other and respected each other,” she says.

   After high school season ended with State, Andrews is on the grind again. She is training with her club team, Foothills Swim Team, for sectionals which will take place in Washington. She will have a two week break afterwards.

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