Minnetonka High School's Student News

Minnetonka Breezes

Minnetonka High School's Student News

Minnetonka Breezes

Minnetonka High School's Student News

Minnetonka Breezes

A Basement of Stories
February 23, 2024

School Events, Milestones, and General Milestones

School+Events%2C+Milestones%2C+and+General+Milestones
Intro

As the school and the world as a whole quickly approach the new year, many people will experience a time of reflection, both about their personal lives and about the happenings of the larger community. A lot can change and a lot can happen in 12 months, and it can be quite a bit of fun to look back on the most exciting occurrences during that time. So, as we prepare to move from 2023 into 2024, let’s all take a second and remember some of the most fascinating, exciting, and in some cases, downright odd events of the past year, both inside our school as well as outside of it.

Wacky Article

Mainstream news often feeds off of stories that are bizarre or controversial. Whether they cover unethical artificial intelligence applications, the new Kardashian stories, or a recently discovered species of bird, there is always something out-of-the-ordinary for viewers to consume. This trend of news is a point of engagement but also a point of criticism of many journalism outlets, but either way, this type of media is always fun to be captivated by. Looking back at 2023, here are some of the most fascinating and attention-capturing stories of the year.

The Titan Submarine

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The first submarine ever constructed was built in 1620 by Cornelius Drebbel in old England, and it was only able to go just below the surface of the water. Just over 400 years later, on June 18th, 2023, a submarine named the Titan Sub was placed into the ocean off the coast of St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada. 4 days later, it was confirmed that the vessel had imploded and the crew inside had tragically lost their lives. The worst part was that this entire accident could have been avoided if OceanGate (an effort spearheaded by CEO Stockton Rush), the company that designed the Titan sub, had listened to qualified engineers about the state of their submersible. There existed a variety of concerns and explicit comments about the defective state of a plethora of portions of the vessel.

Obtaining safety regulations that could be applied to the Titan submersible was more difficult than initially expected, because the Titan sub was operating in international waters and did not depart from a registered port. These types of vessels are not subject to standard regulations and policies, but they often have some type of certification from 3rd-party organizations stating that the machine is safe for operation. Not only did Rush’s submarine not receive a single certification of safety from a 3rd-party organization, they received many concerns from these entities about the security of the vehicle. To compound these issues, in a 2021 interview with CBS News, Rush said some things that, in hindsight, eerily foreshadowed the events that unfolded:

“I’ve broken some rules to make [Titan]. I think I’ve broken them with logic and good engineering behind me. The carbon fiber and titanium, there’s a rule you don’t do that. Well, I did.”

The carbon fiber and titanium was what inevitably led to the implosion of Titan Sub on June 18th, 2023. The passengers Stockton Rush, Paul-Henri Nargeolet, Hamish Harding, Shahzada Dawood, and the 19-year-old Sulaiman Dawood, all died.

Progress in Generative Artificial Intelligence (GAI)

A common misconception of generative AI (GAI) is that it creates new content. However, what it really does is predict the best output for a given input. In technical terms, artificial “intelligence” does not really exist — what really exists is a trained neural network. What the neural network is trained on is based on the application of the GAI. ChatGPT, a well-known neural network, is trained on the entire internet. Although there have been advancements in the quality and efficiency of these models, the discussion surrounding the ethical dilemmas of these models is what has developed significantly in the past year.

The term “aesthetics of ethics” when talking about GAI has been used far more often in 2023 than it has in the past, and for a variety of good reasons. Finding beauty in doing the right thing has driven foundational values since contemporary history, such as the American democratic system. The discussion of what is considered doing the “right thing” versus the “wrong thing” with GAI. For example, GAI may distribute unethical or inaccurate content to those who do not know any better, may disclose personal information about individuals whose details were included in the databases the neural networks were trained on. Other ethical dilemmas include the humanesque features of chatbots, the underlying biases a neural network may learn from the data it’s trained on, and more. The year 2023 has revealed and pushed the issue on many of these conversations, some of which the general public is having much sooner than they initially expected.

Government UFO Leaks

A huge number of conspiracy theories swirl around the Internet, and many of them pertain to the U.S. government’s involvement in the covering up of UFOs. The U.S government has often ignored these claims and ideas, which counterintuitively has only lit a hotter fire under those creating these theories. Some of the first of these theories started all the way back when the space race between the U.S and the Soviet Union was underway. Many “unnamed” pilots who worked for the Air Force thought  that explanations for “unidentified objects” seemed like coverups. Until 2023, the U.S government has not publicly addressed these anomalies in great detail or magnitude. The website was launched by the U.S Pentagon, and is currently called the All-domain Anomaly Resolution Office, otherwise known as the AARO.

The website, which was released on August 31, 2023,  is far more interesting than the name lets it on to be (although the name is pretty interesting).  It comes straight from the U.S government, and it is intended to be a “one-stop shop” for public information relating to UFOs. It includes all kinds of eerie photos, videos, and interviews from all periods of time and all places across the United States. If you are into creepy things from the past, this website is for you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Milestones Article

 

Milestones signify the start (or end) of big things. There can be personal milestones, like making the varsity basketball team, or global milestones, like the Israel-Palestine conflict. There have been many of these moments and events throughout 2023, and they have probably reached into your life in some way.

 

The Israel-Palestine Conflict

 

The Israel-Palestine conflict is a complex and nuanced issue. Often, when overseas events take place, students don’t pay attention — this time they have. Although we have the privilege of not being in the Middle East right now, students are not immune to an amount of pain and suffering. Students with family members, friends, and relatives in the war live in a completely different environment than they once did.

 

Unusually, America has seen a global issue take hold in the hearts of many youth, even in those who are traditionally politically active. Additionally, the United States government has been and will be forced to take a stance in these intense and sensitive global affairs, which could have ripple effects on future elections. The Israel-Palestine conflict has become a global-wide issue, but it has also seeped into every community across the United States. From social media discussion, to communicating with a government representative at Political Advocacy Club, the Gaza conflict has been a turning point in student voice about things they care about.

 

Twitter becomes X

 

Twitter has been a recognizable name brand almost since its release in 2006, but just this year in April, it became an oddly forgettable app: X. The change has resulted in billions of dollars in lost profits, sharp declines in the stock value of the company, and even huge numbers of fired employees. The person accountable for the massive shift in branding and purpose is none other than Elon Musk.

 

Elon Musk did not appear out of nowhere, he in fact had many start-up companies he owned and managed — one of which was a company called X.com. It is now better known as PayPal, however Elon was extremely bitter about the name change. He has always had an affinity for the letter X, from his company “SpaceX,”  to printing the letter on his credit cards. He had his eye on Twitter for quite some time, wanting to make it an “everything app.” His vision was for the app to combine social media, online shopping, video games, user-to-user communication, and more, into a single place on a platform called “X.” None of those changes has been seen to date.

Credit to Mr. Mundahl for this suggestion!

 

India Lands on the Moon

 

Landing on the moon is one of the greatest human feats to date, involving manpower, mathematical computation, time, effort, resources, and perseverance. The list of countries that have managed this great accomplishment has always been very small, including only the U.S., the now extinct USSR, and China. However, on August 23, India joined the list, making even further history by being the first country to touch down on the South Pole region of the moon.

 

FTX Collapse

 

The reason the U.S dollar used to function correctly was because the dollar was “backed” by gold: for every dollar printed, there was an amount of gold — this was where the dollar derived its value. In 1976, the U.S government decided this “gold standard” was not useful anymore, and it removed the relationship between gold and the dollar. The value of the dollar now comes from the fact that the U.S government prints it — a concept known as centralization. However, in the past few years, an idea known as cryptocurrency has entered the marketplace of ideas.

 

Cryptocurrency (also known as crypto), is a decentralized form of currency. Simply put, instead of money being verified by the government, it is verified by another organization. There can be as many cryptocurrencies as we want: BitCoin, DogeCoin, Etherium, XRP, the list goes on. People like crypto because there are less transaction fees, transactions take less time, they are not affected by inflation, the transactions are more protected, etc. These currencies need a platform to be traded on — one of these platforms was called FTX.

 

FTX was created and founded by Sam Bankman-Fried in 2019, and it quickly became worth over $30 billion. Top venture capitalists were investing, seed funding was going better than ever, and then it came crashing down. It was discovered that money donated to FTX was not actually going to FTX, but it was going to another trading platform in China. This company was owned by none other than Sam Bankman-Fried, and the money investors put into FTX thinking they would see a return on was actually going into another, completely unassociated company. Bankman-Fried was arrested in the Bahamas after trying to flee, and FTX no longer exists.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

School Events Article

 

Whilst many incredible things have happened outside the school around the globe, and say goodbye to another remarkable year, let’s look back on what happened this year in our very own school.

 

Sweethearts Dance – February 13-19, 2023

 

“Sweethearts is very important to us,” says Claudia Garcia-Arce ‘26. “because it’s a part of Heart Week.” Heart Week is a week of school before the dance where all the money made is given to the organization, Family Friends. Family Friends is a non-profit organization that gives money to Minnetonka students in need.

 

“In that aspect, Sweethearts is great because it’s not giving funds to us but to our people,” Garcia-Arce continues. In 2023, Minnetonka was able to raise more than $60,000 for Family Friends, a new record. Sweethearts, aside from that, is a dance on the Saturday night after Heart Week concludes. The dance, as described by multiple, is a more lowkey homecoming. “Sweethearts is better [than homecoming] as a dance,” Parker Lacey ‘25 says. Typically a ‘girls ask the guys’ dance, Sweethearts is really fun and enjoyable for many, with money that goes to a great cause for people in our community.

 

Prom – May 20, 2023

 

“It was a really exciting night,” Ella Erickson ‘24 said, when asked about prom. “It was really fun to talk to people around the area.” Prom, a junior/senior event, is one of the most looked forward to moments of most high school students. It’s most definitely an important event for students of all grades.

 

The Minnetonka High School Prom was at The Machine Shop. “It’s really fun to have a party at a different venue,” Erickson says. “It feels more mature.” And, when there, whether you’re socializing, dancing, or just standing there, the music is playing and the event will always be iconic.

 

Graduation of the Class of 2023 – June 8, 2023

 

The Class of 2023 graduated on June 8th of this year. Just under 900 graduates entered the stadium and got their high school diploma. It was the 70th graduating class of Minnetonka High School. It was at the US Bank Stadium and many musical groups, the symphony orchestra, wind ensemble and concert choir, performed there.

 

Gwynneth Wacker, a science teacher at the high school and the mother of a 2023 graduate says, “It was the third one I attended and it was my last child. … The venue was nice and you can see everybody. On the other hand it is really big … and not as personal.” All in all, Minnetonka will miss their old seniors. But that’s just the end of one school year. “It was really cool to see all the seniors graduate,” Carter Storts ‘26 explained. “I really enjoyed all the music, like the orchestra and the choir. And the graduation and teacher speeches were really nice and well-written. Overall, it created a fun environment.”

 

First Day of School – Sep 5, 2023

 

School began for the students at the high school on September 5th, 2023. 3,500 students walked through the doors to start their 2023-2024 school year. Minnetonka said goodbye to their old seniors and hello to the new freshmen class of 2027 coming in.

 

When asked about the start of the school year, Nikhita Natraj ‘26 says, “It was fun. I got to figure out which classes I have friends in. And make new friends in classes that I didn’t really know anybody. And it was nice getting to know the teachers.” The energy of the start of the school year is always hectic and electric. But to look on the bright side is always important.

 

Homecoming – September 22-23, 2023

 

Homecoming is the start of the school year. The first big event to happen and the first dance of the year. Homecoming has four major events inside it. Homecoming week, the parade, the football game, and the dance. Homecoming week is full of fun dress up days and events, like the Powder Puff game, all to raise money for our school. Pepfest was on Friday where the Homecoming King, Milos Spasojevic, and the Homecoming Queen, Izzy Dobbins, were crowned. “It had a lot of energy and it was really fun,” Trask Wolfe ‘26 says.

 

The parade was later in the day at 4pm in downtown Excelsior. “Walking the parade and seeing my family was fun,” Zachary Steingas ‘24 said, “It was my last year of doing it, so it was pretty special.” “The parade was pretty great. The community at the parade was actually great,” Jacob Gendreau ‘26 states. “There’s nothing like it, walking down that street knowing you’re about to go play a football game. It’s pretty cool.” More than twenty-five floats were present in the parade and many students, parents, and community members showed up to watch or be in the parade.

 

The football game was later that night at 7pm with the theme, ‘Blue Out.’ Thousands of people filled the Einar-Anderson Stadium wearing various shades of blue to cheer on the Minnetonka football team playing against Prior Lake. “The game was really fun,” Steingas says, “With more people coming to those games, it’s a big event and everything is packed. It just has more energy.” The football team ended up winning with a final score of 17-16.

 

The Homecoming dance was the following Saturday at 8:30 pm. And it was raining. “The rain at homecoming was crazy,” Tavyn Thompson ‘26 states. “The rain was the size of golf balls.” And whilst the rain was a dampener on the evening, “it was fun,” Samuel Walker ‘26 said. “It has good music.” There were two music options at homecoming, the live band and the DJ, which was accompanied by a mosh pit. “Every year it’s always fun to go with friends,” Lacey states. “Every year I’ve gone with different groups. And I love getting food beforehand.” All in all, homecoming, from the pepfest to the dance, was really eventful.

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