Senior Accepted to Ivy League School

Kevin Vega

Sports Editor

Cornell University has accepted Catalina Ferreira-Dias, senior, to attend after her high school graduation in June.

Catalina is among a group of students at Mater Lakes who received acceptance to ivy league schools this year.

“My four years of high school have been building up to this point. It’s always been a dream of mine to get accepted to Cornell and now it has happened. It’s my prime, this is it” Catalina told The Paw Print.

Cornell was the senior’s number one choice school, but she did not expect to be accepted.

“The day before I was like, I’m not gonna get accepted but that’s okay because life is about more than that” she recalled.

However, when she got her acceptance letter is was a happy surprise. Catalina became teary eyed while recounting the story, but noted that it was not all happy thoughts.

“There was a long application process and I had to write two separate essays, but it was all worth it” she said.

Catalina is a hard working and dedicated student, with excellent grades and a long list of extra curricular achievements. The skills and knowledge attained during her time at Mater Lakes has certainly helped her secure a promising future.

“I’ve wanted to be a vet all my life, and Cornell has the number one vet program in the nation” she remarked.

In light of this outstanding achievement, The Paw Print would like to congratulate Catalina Ferreira-Dias and wish her the best of luck. YOU DID IT!




Dearest Seniors,

By Abby Florez

Staff Writer

Graduation is right around the corner, and as you might know, life as you know it is about to change forever. But don’t be too scared, it can also become more exciting and fun! The Paw Print asked some teachers to share their experiences, memories, and some advice. This is what they had to say.


“I would advise the seniors to not have too much expectations of what life is going to be like. Kind of like play it by the year and be happy with what you can accomplish, you know? Always try for more but don’t set markers that you have to reach. Don’t put that kind of pressure on yourself. Sometimes you take a year off school and it was the best choice. You finish school early and it was the best choice, and sometimes you don’t go to school at all and it might have been the best choice too. So you never know what life is going to give you.” – English teacher America Manzano.


“If I could go back to my senior year I would probably get more involved in different activities, like in the school, as opposed to just doing homework and focusing on my work and stuff like that. That’s probably one of the things I would change,” said U.S. History teacher, Ayleen Charles.


U.S. History teacher, Ismael Gonzalez said what he would change if he could go back to his senior year, “I would have taken harder classes in my senior year, instead of doing senioritis things. I would’ve taken more A.P. classes, harder classes. If I could go back I’d probably do dual enrollment. I should’ve done that too.”


“When I got accepted to UF my mom did not want to let me go, but my counselor believed in me and she told me, ‘why not? If you have that opportunity then take advantage of it.’ She played a really big role kind of mediating between my mother and myself to kind of come to a happy compromise of me being able to go, and as you can see, I was able to go to UF,” said counselor Andre Gutierrez, who shared who impacted him the most when he was a senior.

From MLA to NYC

NYC trip.JPG

By Samantha Hernandez
Staff Writer

More than 60 music, art, drama and journalism students made their way to the Big Apple for Spring Break 2017.

The group departed April 6th and returned April 10th and was chaperoned by music teachers Sterling Jones and Hector Barrera, drama teachers Krista Flores and Christina Smith, art teachers Xierra Itayem and Mack Jackson, and journalism teacher Jackie Taylor, in addition to several parents.

The itinerary included attendance to two Broadway shows, Aladdin and Wicked, the Statue of Liberty, Times Square, Rockefeller Center, Grand Central Station, One World Observatory and cultural activities such as visiting the Metropolitan Museum of Art and walking tours of the financial district and China Town.

Daniella Llanes, an 11th grader, shares one of her favorite trip memories, dinner at a restaurant in Little Italy called Puglia.

“It was the most fun I have yet to have on a trip. There was a lady singing songs and everyone got up to dance. There was even a part that she told us to stand on our seats and shake our napkins in the air! The room was lit up with happiness and laughter,” said Llanes.

Students like sophomore Oscar Ospina really enjoyed visiting the Metropolitan Museum of Art as “visiting the Met was a time when we got to calm down from all the activities and enjoy looking at art.”

The trip was enjoyable for all and many students became closer with their classmates and teachers as was the case with senior Taylor Garcia. He described the trip as a “one of a lifetime experience!” His favorite part of the trip was “meeting new people and spending time with them. Everything was beautiful over there but it was definitely the people and the teachers that made the trip worth it!”

These students managed to experience the city that never sleeps in just a few days and come back home with fun filled unforgettable memories and friendships.


The Senior Behind the Guitar

Taylor Garcia

By Victoria Gayarre

Some may recognize senior Taylor Garcia as the student playing the bass guitar at every pep rally or the dark-haired boy sitting behind the speakers at each drama club performance, helping to bring each show together wonderfully through the power of music.

Garcia has been attending Mater Lakes since the seventh grade. He speaks about the beginning of his middle school life with a slight frown explaining that in the beginning it was difficult to make close connections with friends, but things have changed as time moves on.

“I typically spend my weekends listening to music and just hanging with friends practicing instruments,” he said.

Garcia has been extremely involved in the Mater Lakes band for many years, and over time has grown extremely close with teacher Sterling Jones. He smiles and laughs saying, “I would like to thank Mr. Jones because he has done so much for me and I have spent so much time with him over the years. He has almost become like a father figure to me.”

Senior and friend Diego Pierri said, “He puts others in front of himself, and takes their feelings into account. He is very passionate about what he does, and really takes the time to listen to others and their stories.”

Taylor recently joined Jones and 63 other students on a spring break trip to New York City. He explains how great it was to spend time with such “amazing” people and grow closer to everyone.

Within his high school life, Garcia brought every high school film to life as he began a band with fellow students and some of his closest friends. The band performed live at school events and once played at a Miami Lakes concert at Optimist Park.  As time moved on, eventually, the band fell apart, and are no longer together. Just because the band ended, does not mean his love for music indeed died, he said.

Past bandmate and senior Liam Idrovo shared, “He is just naturally a very nice guy. He is very sympathetic.”

Garcia continues to enjoy music as he hopes to eventually to go on to study jazz elsewhere and inspire others with his passion. He describes the feelings of playing instruments with a smile, “It’s incredible, to feel the vibrations of the bass.”

He explained that wherever he sees an opportunity to share his love, he will go there to play music. He stated that his biggest inspiration is Flea from his favorite band Red Hot Chili Peppers.

“Man that guy is just so talented. I mean everyone is sort of talented in their own way, but like I am really inspired by him,” Garcia laughs.

His ultimate dream in life to open a jazz club where people can come and value great music. “I just want to go somewhere where people will actually appreciate jazz, like maybe New Orleans or something.”


Although Garcia does not exactly know where his future will take him, he knows that it will be filled with music, the thing he loves most.


Jones Brought the Beat to MLA


By Alexandra Menendez
Staff Writer

Sterling Jones, music teacher, motivates students to do their best and succeed in their musical talents whether they are in chorus or in band.

Jones, who works alongside Hector Barrera, holds a bachelor’s in music education. As he works to help students excel at their musical talents, Jones believes that, “you have to have a fine line in being nice and strict.”

This music teacher also encourages discipline amongst the students as he believes that if one does not have discipline, then it is his job to teach them so. Throughout his chorus and band classes, Jones constantly states how vital discipline and concentration is so that someone may be able to correct their mistakes and continue further on.

Sophomore Sergui Velez said, “Mr. Jones is a very hardworking teacher. He is always pushing everyone to do their very best in the class. I enjoy the class because Jones makes it fun and he chooses songs the students recognize and know that they will have fun learning to play.”

Jones has strong feelings toward dedication stating that he will always be, “determined to get the job done, and do what I have to do to get it done.”

Jones’s devotion to the art of music inspires the students who enter his classroom. Many students  find themselves enjoying his admiration towards the art and his sense of humor.

“I think Mr. Jones is an exceptional teacher,” said colleague Jackie Taylor, journalism teacher. “You can tell how passionate he is about what he does and how committed he is to his students. He teaches them the skills to be better musicians but he also seeks enrichment activities such as field trips to inspire and motivate students.

Sarah J. Estime, freshman and chorus student said, “Mr. Jones does an excellent job, alongside Mr. Barrera, in teaching us to sing and helping improve on our skills, such as pitch and articulation when singing, and I am highly grateful to have them both as my teachers.”

Whether it is helping his students surpass their own expectations, or teaching them the meaning and importance of core values like discipline, Jones delights in his days working alongside students while doing what he loves.


The sixth grader who stole the show


By Tiffany Carrazana
Staff Writer

If you attended any of the pep rallies this year, you might remember seeing a middle school student by the name of Abel Alvarez, the outgoing sixth grader who loved participating in the events by dancing to the rhythm of some of the most popular songs with his not-so-modern dance moves.

In response to why he loves to dance so much, Alvarez stated, “I don’t know. The rhythm of the song just takes control.”

He explained that his friends are happy that he is out of his shell, but slightly embarrassed because his dance moves are not the best. “He is cheerful and a bit crazy, but he is an awesome friend,” stated, sixth grader Daniel Fonseca.

In class, he is usually wearing his thick rimmed glasses and calculating numbers in his favorite class and when switching classes, he is casually speaking to Mrs. Zenab Taliaferro, his favorite teacher.

In his free time, Alvarez enjoys playing Call of Duty: Black Ops or Grand Theft Auto 5 on his Playstation 4, or running around and playing with his four siblings. He also likes to spend time with his parents.

High school students know Alvarez as “the kid who is always dancing at the pep rallies.” He is always making the crowd go wild and making the pep rallies a lot more fun for everyone else.

Senior Joelyn Perez, who danced with Alvarez at one of the events, stated, “Although they are high school pep rallies, I feel that as long as everyone’s enjoying themselves it doesn’t matter who participates. The point is to get together, have fun and not be salty because a middle schooler is hyping everyone up.”


Get to know Ms. Itayem

By Gillian pereza

By Leslie Betancourt
Staff Writer

Xierra Itayem, drama and art teacher at Mater Lakes, encourages students to be passionate in the subjects while promoting improvement in works.

Itayem began teaching during the 2015-2016 school year. “I do enjoy teaching here. The kids are great, and it gives me an amazing opportunity to practice my craft and share what I love to do,” she said after being asked if she enjoys teaching at the school.

The 25-year old has always had a love for the arts, “I started painting when I was twelve and I started getting involved with theater in high school. They’re my passions,” she said.

This love later encouraged her to become a teacher. Itayem’s inspiration for the arts was encouraged at a young age. “When I was twelve, I spent my summers at my dad’s restaurant and it was incredibly boring. One of his cooks introduced me to painting to make the time go by faster, and the next day my dad got me my first set of paints. That’s how I got into art,” she stated when asked what her favorite childhood memory was.

Itayem is motivated by many factors, such as her students, “My favorite part about teaching is getting my students to create amazing work!” Itayem spends her days encouraging students to do their best and improve in their works while getting to do the things she loves .