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The Viking Voices

A Celebration of Student Writing

Students interested in submitting their writing for publication should email their submissions to We accept many types of submissions, including creative writing pieces, news reports about important happenings at MHS,  advice columns, opinion pieces, feature stories, movie and book reviews, etc.

Change In Waters - A Personal Narrative

by Haley Presar

    The light dances across my tan skin and the cotton ball clouds makes the cooling breeze more noticeable.The metal machines cover the choppy waves of the dark turquoise, the Sacramento River. The ground digs into my small six-year old feet painfully as I search for my father. My pace increases the more I think about the old worn out maroon boat that brings me joyful memories of the water. I locate my father with his hands on his hips in a serious, but joking manner. He advances me with dark-narrowed eyes while running his hand through his black greasy hair. Before he can talk I quickly ask him to lead me to my grandfather's boat with the biggest smile I could possibly create. He responds with a sigh and a small smile and nods his head towards a metal death machine, I’ve never been on. My father notices my confusion and justifies that “if you want a ride on the boat, we have to drive the jet ski to get there.” I investigate the jet ski with disinterest. The soft pastel teal and vibrant pink colors were peeling off, but I’m too ecstatic for the boat ride to care. I hesitate before climbing onto the death machine and wrap my arms around my father squeezing my eyes shut. The smell of salt got stronger and I start to rock side to side as we drift further away from land.

    My hazel eyes widen at the sound of curse words coming from my father's mouth. I start to take in my surroundings and realize that we were towing an apple red, a circular tube with a dirty blonde, blue eyed boy waiting patiently inside. My eyes naturally come back to the bright, neon orange rope that connects the tube to the jet ski. All of the sudden the engine makes a loud roar and I find myself screaming. Not because of the shocking sound of the jet ski, but because of the blinding pain I felt somewhere on my right foot. The breeze increases as I look down at the ripe red colored water swirling around my foot. The world around me slows down and the sound becomes muffled when I stare down at my foot trying to comprehend what exactly happened. I no longer feel pain and I’m stuck in silent shock trying to force words out of my mouth. Next thing I know I’m on the maroon worn out boat with peeling leather seats that I so desperately wanted to be on before. My father appears in front of me moving his mouth, but I’m only able to pick up the words keep pressure. The last thing I remember was the flashing red and blue lights that will soon take me away.

    I wake up in a fright with nobody around, in a place that was foreign to me. I hear a gentle voice from the right that draws my attention away from my foot. A nurse in lilac scrubs with chocolate hair and soft blue eyes looks at me with concern. This nurse asks me a series of questions, “are you in pain? What can I do to make you feel comfortable? What's your favorite color?” I completely forget about my foot and I start making a new friend. When my parents are not around this nurse makes sure I’m okay and keeps me company for the next three months. The dull brown colored room I stay in became boring the more time I spent in it. The only source of entertainment came from the small black television in the corner of the room. I only have a limited amount of movies to watch and by the end of the stay I was able to recite most of the movies. When the nurse visits me it is the most entertaining time I have in my dull room. She offers to play board games, usually monopoly because the game takes up more time. There were times were tears would start to flow down my face and the nurse will give me extra food or tell me bedtime stories to make me feel better. She always makes my time at the hospital less boring and painful.

    This nurse inspires me to help more kids who are confused and in pain. She made me see that a small conversation or a tiny smile can brighten any child’s day like she did mine. I want to be able to make a child’s day better by spending time with them to make them less lonely in a time of desperate need. To do this, I want to become a pediatric nurse and put a smile on a child’s face.

Reflective Response

by Jessie Sternfeld

     For a fair portion of my life I’ve been dancing around comics and superheroes. I remember being younger and secreting myself away in my parent’s bedroom to watch an Iron Man cartoon on my parent’s little television set, finding myself almost embarrassed over my interest with “boys’ shows”. I cared more about gender roles then, though I was still the ‘tomboy” of the family, at least when compared to my pink loving ballerina sister. Despite, being my little “guilty pleasure”, I knew there was something truly enchanting about it. Or when I was even younger, and bought my first comic, from a cute boy during a second grade activity meant to teach kids about money (consumerism). For years, that Spiderman comic I had purchased was one of my favorite possessions. (I wouldn’t buy my next one until about a decade later.) Then years later, in middle school, hearing my friends’ fascination with the Marvel Cinematic Universe caused me to dip my foot in as well. Since at that point none of the movies were on Netflix, I was relegated to the accompanying TV show and whatever tidbits I could scour from the internet. A few more years, and several more superhero movies under my belt, I considered fairly knowledgeable, proper millennial nerd. But, over the past year, a few experiences were able to widen my perspective even more.

     The first was being lucky enough to get to attend Comic-Con. I was there because of my eldest cousin, who managed to get me and my youngest cousin in. You never understand how many “nerds” there are in the world until you’re standing in a room with literal thousands of them. They came in all shapes and sizes, from the large ball gown of the man cosplaying a genderbent Ursula, to the sad but recognizable cosplay I attempted on my final day. There were kids, and adults, and Bob Rosses, just absolutely anything you can imagine. One of the best examples of enormity of Comic-Con is Hall H. It’s used for the biggest panels and fits over 6,000 people, but despite that fact, it’s extremely difficult to get into. I was-somehow- lucky enough to (barely) get into the end of the Doctor Who panel. We were in the back, not the very back, but near enough. The stage was a spotlight in a sea of darkness, the actors and writers no bigger than if I had been watching on my phone instead. The screens hung intermittently from the ceiling, where how you truly witnessed the celebrities. A testament to needs of the nerd population.

     The biggest lesson I learned from Comic-Con is just that there really are jobs that can be made in all things nerd: acting, writing, selling, fashion, artists. There were so many tables in the main hall with vendors selling portraits, magnets, postcards, and anything else with their interpretation of famous superheroes, or even their own heroes. It was a pleasant shock to realize that if I wanted it I could make a living from this.

     The other event is a little more intimate. Last year’s drama spring production was of a show called She Kills Monsters, that I was lucky enough to be a part of. The show centers around an older sister’s journey to find the truth about her sister through her Dungeons and Dragons module. It’s set in the nineties and is a celebration of the nerdiness of that time.

     To keep up our engagement with the show as the run went on, Mr. Schloemp told us about any special reviews or comments he got from the audience. The one that stuck out to him the most, I have never forgotten. He had approached a classmate’s father, after the show- a rather large man- who promptly burst into tears. The parent explained that he wished his high school experience had been accepting of nerdiness. Schloemp then told us how lucky we are to live in a world where nerdiness is mainstream, where superhero movies are million dollar blockbusters, and watching them is expected, not ostracized.  

     And who is the one of the biggest factors of this change? Stan Lee. A man whose passion and stories have affected hundreds of millions of people. His stories, his Tony Stark, his Peter Parker are the harbingers of this geek generation. And that’s going to be felt for dozens more. All those jobs, communities, lives have been changed.

     Comics have always been shaken up the public (in the first comic of Captain America, Cap punches Hitler is the face) but I would argue that this is the widest extent that’s ever reached. We owe as a generation, as nerds, as consumers of Marvel, owe Stan Lee a lot. Even a casual fan like me has such a deep foundation centered around this man’s work. But what a hero he was.

The Saddest Happy Moment of My Life

A Personal Narrative

by Rylie Lopez

“Merry Christmas baby girl!” a younger version of my Nana’s voice says from the TV. The DVD player light flashing, telling us that we are only 36 minutes into a three-hour disk, with many more disks to go. Each DVD was filled with bunches of family videos that my dad had converted into DVDs for my Nana’s Christmas gift. Only, it was not Christmas, instead it was the cold and foggy night of December 15th. My family decided to host a night of watching all our old home videos while my Nana could still understand what was going on. Why would she not be able to understand what was going on only ten more days later? Well, cancer can be demonically vicious when it comes to time.

I was fifteen years old, just trying to get through December finals, while also needing to spend every waking moment with my tiny, curly-headed Nana. I spent most of my nights driving to the tiny town of Forestville and having family dinners to be with my Nana, but this night was different. The already small living room and kitchen area radiated sweet smelling body warmth. All of my favorite people were in the room, family, family friends, and even my best friend I have had since before I was born. We were all scattered around the conjoining rooms. I sat on the floor next to my Nana’s bed that we moved to the living room, so she could be around everyone, though her skeleton-like body couldn’t move. Next to me was my best friend holding my hand for support, which she had done for the past fifteen years. Others filled the two other couches and the kitchen table as well. I began to shed a tear as I looked all around the room and saw the faces of everyone I loved with all of my heart.

My dad and aunt collaborated on making a steaming pot of Pozole for everyone which added to the warm steam radiating love. Along with a traditional Mexican cinnamon cider which made the whole night smell and feel like as if I was grasping the holidays between my fingers. The combination of all the smells made the smile on my face just a little bit brighter. I sat on the floor, taking deep breaths to inhale all the aromas fluttering around.

My family and I just sat in my Nana’s living room for hours upon hours throughout the night reliving our old memories. I learned a lot about my family that night, the things that I was always too young to understand finally made sense. It was honestly like something out of a movie. I kept thinking “If only it would start snowing and if only my Nana became cured, then this really would be a movie straight off the Hallmark channel,” but the snow never came, and neither did the cure.

By the end of the night, the crowd had diminished as the hour grew later and later. The soup had evaporated, and the cider made everyone’s bellies stick out a little more than when they came in. The Christmas lights were reflecting off the foggy window panes. My Nana’s eyes started to drift into sleep, but for some reason before she could shut her mind off completely, her face lit up for one last time as she asked me if I could read her a story she used to read to me, Guess How Much I Love You. When she whispered this wish into my ear, I lost it. I immediately leaped off her bed and ran to the backyard in the freezing cold and started bawling my eyes out. My aunt came outside after me. She relaxed her arm around me and held me while she said, “She needs you Princess.” I looked her in the eye and said, “I’m just not strong enough to do this, but I know I’m going to hate myself if I don’t give her what she wants.” As I walked back inside, my cousin saw how much pain I was in, so he pulled up a YouTube video of someone reading the story along with pictures of each page. I cuddled myself next to my Nana’s weak body who had turned smaller than me, as we listened to the story for one last time together one healthy new hand in one sick dying hand. Meanwhile, my brain ran a thousand miles a minute, thinking of how I will not be able to move on when she leaves me. As the story finished, she squeezed my hand with her thin fingers covered in dark blue and purple veins and said, “Come here, I have a secret for you.…” I leaned in close putting my ear to her cold shriveled up mouth as she said “you’ll be okay baby girl. I know you’ll get through this, but you all need to stick together… for me.” I sat up with endless emotions filling my eyes and began crying even more, then walked in my other cousin Andrew; as he saw me just sitting there crying, I stopped his scared soul and forced him to hug me.

This night was a roller coaster to say the least. But though this was an incredibly sad moment of my life. Looking back two years later, I am so grateful for that night. I look at it now as the saddest happy moment of my life because I learned a lot about myself that night. I learned that I am stronger than I believed, and that closure is everything. This night shaped me into who I am today and forced me to learn about the heartaches of the real world. I have always been a family person, but that night showed me that my family is my absolute rock. But even without them, I know I will be okay, so I thank my Nana for teaching me one of the most important lessons of life: that I will be okay, no matter what life throws my way.

Should Women Be Required to Register for the Draft?

By Faith Middleton

      There is no such thing as selective equality. This means, as women, we can’t pick and choose the burdens and responsibilities we choose to share with men. Why should men be the only ones fighting for the rights that women have helped establish? It seems like it would be difficult to argue about gender equality when there’s gender based dispensation within our national force. I think women should be able to stand up and fight for the rights we share.

      A gender neutral draft will help expand the perception of what women can actually do. Through the years, the battle against the sexes has died down quite a bit and women were finally given the rights they deserved.  But there’s still more things to be accomplished. Women registering for the draft will put gender equality on the books in various ways that this country hasn’t seen before. By doing so, we’ll change the argument on the ability of women and their roles in an immensely powerful away. I believe it’ll make women more confident, and can finally prove that they are much more than what they are set out to be. We are telling our daughters at a young age that they can be anything they put their minds to, just as powerful and as strong as a man can be. Yet, we’re putting these limitations in their way. I believe allowing them to register for the draft will erase much of that.

     There are many positions in the military that women can thrive in aside from combat. You can be drafted to do small things like air control, or a bigger role such a nurse or a computer technician. When people think of the military, their first thought is to link it to fighting, and cold blood war, but there are so many other positions and opportunities to be obtained, by both men and women. The military needs doctors, lawyers, nurses, dentists, police officers, and psychologists. There is so much more to the military than grenades and M-4s.  No, not everybody is fit for a military career, not everybody has the passions for it. But if young men can adjust to a temporary situation, then women can, too.

     Why is this important? Women can be proven to be more than what perceive them to be. They’re smart, talented, brave, and beautiful individuals who are just as talented and capable as men.

March for Gun Safety

By Cora Logan


On Wednesday March 14th some of Montgomery’s high school students along with many from around the nation participated in the walkout in support of the most recent school shooting. However the walkout wasn’t just for Parkland High; it was for everyone who has suffered from school shootings, students who are scared to go to school because they no longer feel safe, and students who want to stand up against the gun violence that has plagued our school system. On Wednesday at 10:00 AM students met near the quad and began to march and chant around the school. Many students participated, and teachers joined with posters and videotaped our march. As we marched and chanted around the front of the school there was man with a flag across the street crying and supporting us, there was a woman with a #enough sign who honked and shouted in support, along with other drivers who honked as we stood up for what we believe. It is not just high school students, but adults, parents, teachers, board members who see a problem in today’s society. This is not the first march and definitely not the last! In no way is the walkout we participated in a movement for the abolition of guns; it is for the advocacy for the safety of the student body in this nation.


An Introduction to the Summer Search Program

by Amelya Madrigal


Nominations for Summer Search have come in and I want to help students learn about this amazing opportunity. I joined Summer Search as a sophomore like every other Summer Searcher out there wondering whether this would help in college, but it did much more than that. Summer Search is a national leadership development program that helps deserving students to see the world for themselves, builds students’ confidence, and helps kids prepare for college.


As a sophomore I always wondered if there was a program out there that would give me opportunities to get me in into college. Summer Search opened the doors I was looking for.


The great thing about this program is they let me have the opportunity to go on fully paid trips. In my sophomore year I went on a wilderness trip with other summer searchers around the country and the experience was like nothing I expected, in a good way. I loved my Colorado expedition trip because of the diversity of the people who eventually became my family in those short three weeks. Going out there to see the wilderness for myself was a lifetime opportunity. It changed my view of the world and made me see there is so much I can do. I never thought it would do that for me. I know this sounds too good to be true, but it is. The application process may sound like a lot, but if I had not put in that effort, I don’t know what kind of person I would have been.  I changed my attitude towards myself and to others, I am more optimistic and see everything from a different angle. I am a Summer Searcher because I did follow through and took this opportunity, and I'm glad to be a part of Summer Search.


If you are a sophomore who was nominated for program, I urge you to apply. If you are a freshman who might like to get involved with it next year, talk to your counselor or see Ms. Holmes in room 54 for more information.


50 to 3650

50 to 3650

By: Taylor Wang

*The Asian Pacific Fund hosts a scholarship essay and art contest every year, and this is Taylor’s essay submission which won Best in Class in this year’s contest. The theme of this year's contest was: Giving the Gold Medal to Someone in honor of the 2016 Rio Olympics. Montgomery had two winners this year!

            When my dad was diagnosed with Stage IV Pancreatic cancer on my mom’s birthday, he was given three months to live. At the time, we owned a small Chinese restaurant where I spent my childhood, running around and talking to customers, soaking in the hectic vibrancy of those years. To my parents, having immigrated to the United States with absolutely nothing, this was their American Dream. 

            This story, however, is about a person during this entire time that has shown me the most important things in life. Because of this person, I believe in willpower and the importance of self-reliance in making all things possible, someone truly deserving of a gold medal: my mother.

            After my father’s diagnosis, his parents suggested he stay with them so they could take care of him. But as the months dwindled down, he only became weaker and more bed-ridden. One day, they brusquely kicked him out of their home; they were afraid he would die in their house and curse their entire family. I later learned that ancient Chinese traditions warn that the bad omen of death lingers even after the person is gone.

            Four months after he was diagnosed, my dad died one Tuesday morning. His parents and siblings did not show up to the funeral or the memorial service – and they never called.


            It rained for fifty days after he died.

            During those fifty days, I looked towards my mom, who in spite of all that was happening, continued to look ahead, with grace, determination, and strength. She saw their absence not as an obstacle, but as another reason to continue fighting even harder, with even more resolve. Even during those dark fifty days, she would say to me, “The sky will never fall; the sun will shine again tomorrow”. And as the sunshine slowly crept in after those fifty days of pouring rain, I realized, she was right.

            Day 3650—It’s been ten years this February 24th since my dad passed away, and my mom is still my greatest supporter, my greatest role model, and my best friend. Anyone that knows of her knows her as the “supermom”, the woman that in spite of it all faces each and every day with even more vitality and enthusiasm than the day before, and always in style. Undoubtedly, the sacrifices she has made for both my sister and me are countless, but it’s what I’ve learned from her that will continue to guide me in the years to come.


            Her fearlessness in times of the unknown, both in her own life and in mine, has helped me understand that some things cannot be solved in a matter of fifty days - or even three thousand, and that’s okay. If I’ve learned anything from my mom, it’s the meaning of courage and integrity in light of all challenges.


            My mom has given me all the gold in the world, and now, it’s my turn to give the gold medal to her.

Are Gender Stereotypes Harmful?

By Heran Arefaine

            A gender serotype can be harmful if it limits men’s and women’s ability and personal choices in life. Gender serotypes are prevalent in today’s society—they’re in TV shows, books and even in determining jobs.

            Gender stereotypes lead to double standards that cause women’s violence against men to be neglected. Recently an incident was caught on video of Beyoncé Knowles sister, attacking her brother-in-law, Jay Z. This video sparked controversy not because Jay Z was being assaulted, but instead because he got “beat up by a girl”. Just because a man is considered physically dominant, being attacked by a girl is considered humorous and embarrassing for the guy.  Women’s violence against men isn’t taken seriously, even though it is undisputable that most acts of violence are committed against women. The U.S. Department of Justice sponsored a National Crime Victimization Study in 2007, and found that “75.6 percent of all offenders were male and only 20.1 percent were female.”  What about women’s domestic violence? According to Time magazine “women are at least likely as men to kill their children—more so if one counts killing of newborns—and account for more than half of child maltreatment perpetrators.” The fact that women are capable of committing  violence is rarely discussed due to gender stereotypes. Still, violence committed by women is still considered a crime and by no means less harmless than men. Traditional stereotypes such as females being harmless and innocent have led to double standards that cause violence instigated by women to be ignored. People who brand themselves as feminists, those who want to be equal to men, should recognize that women’s violence against men, children and other women must be taken into consideration.

            As a result of gender stereotypes existing in today’s society, women and men are restricted into behaving according to their gender. In the 1960s and 1970s in children’s books, women were portrayed as passive, dependent and incapable of doing things; however, males were portrayed as active, independent, and extremely competent. According to the Psychology Today magazine nursery rhymes such as, “What Are Little Girls Made of?” and “What Are Little Boys Made of?” develop the ideas of girls being sweet as “sugar and spice” and boys being up to no good with “snakes and snails and puppy dog tails.” As result of these books, kids from a young age take in stereotypical behaviors. Just as harmful, and much more widespread examples of stereotypes are found in Disney movies; movies like “Cinderella”, “Sleeping Beauty” and “the Beauty and the Beast” portray the hero saving the troubled heroine. When young developing kids watch these movies, they take into action of how they are expected to behave by society.

            Gender stereotypes are one of the many reasons that cause everyday violence. Society sees men as being tough, strong and aggressive, which makes many men feel pressured into behaving how society wants them to. Male violence increases every day, according to American Society of Criminology, “men account for nearly 80% of all violence.” Men feel as though it is acceptable and even expected for them to commit violence because of gender stereotypes portraying them as being powerful and dominant. According to the Journal of Family Violence, women tend to take out their “violence on children, elders, female relatives, and non-violent men.” Society sees women as lesser than men which in turn makes them want to take their anger out on people who are weaker than them.

            Our society has always been and will continue to be defined by gender stereotypes. Typical gender stereotypes have broken and ruined the society we live in. These social chains are limiting men and women’s potential and ability of becoming their fullest selves. Stereotypes have shaped people from a young age into becoming the socially acceptable version of themselves. We need to limit and combat these stereotypes if we want to truly create a society where freedom and equality are genuine constructs that are available to everyone, rather than being insubstantial labels that continue on as facades.

Montgomery's Girls Varsity Soccer Comes to an End

By Jaxen Brazell

Our girls’ varsity soccer team lost a hard fought battle against Maria Carrillo Saturday night during the NCS championships. It was 0-0 for a while during the first half until Carrillo’s Ali King knocked it in off a corner kick.  Although the Vikings were down, they were not out of it.  They continued to add pressure to the defense and goalie of Maria Carrillo, Claire Howard.  Senior, Taylor Ziemer got off a couple of strong shots but got blocked by miraculous senior Claire Howard.  Going into the half the score was 1-0.  In the second half, junior Eden Brooker, was a standout player, adding pressure and playing strong against Carrillo. During mid second half, Carrillo senior Brook Dunbar, rocketed a shot into the goal to seal the game.  Although the Vikings did not defeat Maria Carrillo in the NCS championship, they had an excellent season with many achievements.  In their second league game, they defeated their rivals Maria Carrillo, 1-0.  This was the first time Carrillo had lost an NBL game since 2009.  The Vikings also tied with Carrillo for NBL title which has been the first time in years in which Carrillo hasn’t won it.  Montgomery finished the season 20-3 which is an incredible record.  Standout player Taylor Ziemer will be attending the University of Virginia where she will join the women’s soccer team.  Also Congratulations to the fellow seniors, Heidi Heller, Taylor Fager, and Alex Cawood for an outstanding final season.  

What to Expect When You’re TESTING: A Guide to the Old and New SATs

By Ashni Verma


This school year is unlike any other. The SAT that we all know and love is to be replaced with a new standardized test. It is of utmost importance that students going into the testing phases of their high school careers know exactly the type of information that will appear on whatever exam they wish to take, so this article will attempt to clarify some of the key differences in the old and new standardized tests. The introduction of the revised SAT does not in any way affect current seniors, but will be a matter of serious importance for the class of 2017 and all those that follow. Current Monty juniors are in a unique position, in that they have the opportunity to take both tests, but, honestly, who wants to have to study for two tests when they could study for one instead? Hopefully this guide will help juniors understand which test best fits their own individual skill sets, and help sophomores and freshman understand the test they will have to take in the upcoming years.

Here are some key differences between the two SATs:


Link here for full article


Advisor: Donna Holmes, English teacher


Hayley Simonson
Anna Eisert
Jessie Sternfeld
Elena Porton

Student Articles

Articles in The Viking View​ reflect the thoughts and opinions of individual student writers, not the opinions of Montgomery High School or Santa Rosa City Schools. 

Contact Information


Contact us at the following addresses:

Donna Holmes, Advisor –

Montgomery High School Journalism
1250 Hahman Drive
Santa Rosa, CA 95405

(707) 890-3830