Starting the school year right


Staff Writer


Starting the Year Right by Maddy Heeszel

This photo was taken by Maddy.

Now that summer vacation has ended, it’s time to get back on track to a new school year. Yes, school may be a bit stressful at times, but it’s important that you do the best you possibly can. Here’s some quick tips on how to make this school year your best!


  1. Come prepared to school with all of your supplies.

Always, always, always bring paper and writing utensils to class! Even though this should be common sense, there are still some people who refuse to bring the required materials to school because they think their peers will provide the supplies for them everyday.


  1. Stay organized.

Instead of shoving everything in your backpack, use a binder or a folder to keep your papers organized. You’ll know where everything’s at when you need it, plus, your homework won’t be all crumpled up! Pencil pouches are also great for storing your pencils, pens, and markers. It seems pretty simple, but being organized is really important.


  1. Keep track of your assignments.

Write down your assignments on a calendar or an agenda to help you to remember to do your homework on time. Also write down any important dates, like when you have football practice, meetings, projects due, benchmarks, or other school-related things.


  1. Keep all of your notes.

It’s important to make sure you keep everything you’ve done in class, even if you think you won’t need it anymore, because it will help you to study for future tests and for finals. If you ever need to clean your backpack, take all of your notes and old homework assignments, and put them into a folder or a binder to store them for when you may need them.


  1. Don’t procrastinate!

Because of the block schedule, you usually have a couple of days to get your work done, therefore, you should have plenty of time to get it completed. If you’re overloaded with homework, get the homework finished that’s due first. The earlier you get it done, the less time you have to stress about it.


  1. Study before tests.

Taking breaks in between while studying can make things a lot easier and less stressful. It’s proven that multiple ten minute study sessions are much more efficient than a single two hour study session. Don’t cram too much in one sitting; it will overwhelm you.

  1. Set goals.

If you had bad grades last year, try aiming for better ones this year. You don’t have to have perfect grades, but you should at least do the best you can. Also, please try to pass all your classes. Summer school isn’t any fun!


  1. Get plenty of sleep.

If you ever went to school surviving off of three hours of sleep, then you know it can be hard to stay focused. Make sure you try to get at least eight hours of sleep each night to boost your concentration. Believe me, sleep plays a huge role when it comes to education!


  1. Eat healthy.

I know, you’re a teenager, so eating healthy may be hard, but eating the right food is important. Even at school, try to eat a nutritious meal, and stay away from candy, chips, and other junk food. It’s okay to eat an unhealthy meal or snack every once in awhile, but not everyday. Eating healthy can provide you the vitamins and nutrients that will improve your memory and allow you to be more alert in class.


  1. Reward yourself.

After a long, stressful day at school, you’re probably pretty drained. School should be one of your main priorities, but it’s also important to relax and take some time for yourself.


  1. Get involved in school.

Instead of sighing and rolling your eyes at the thought of school, try thinking more positively about it by getting involved in school activities. Participate in rallies, go to football games, attend dances, or join a club. When you find something you like to do at school, you won’t dislike it as much. Plus, it gives you something to look forward to.


  1. Start thinking about the future.

Even if you aren’t sure what college you’d like to attend or what career you’re aiming for, try to get an idea. It’s important that you think about the future, so you’ll have a plan on what you’ll be doing when you graduate. When you have an idea of what you think your future will be like, it will motivate you to do better in high school and prepare for the future.


Do everything you can to do well this school year. If you retake benchmarks, take advantage of extra credit, take notes, and do all of your homework, you’ll get good grades. Remember, trying is better than not trying at all. Good luck, Miners!


Things to do for Halloween


Staff Writer


Things to do For Halloween by Maddy Heeszel

This photo was taken by Maddy.

Halloween is a time where kids dress up and go trick-or-treating, but teenagers eventually outgrow that stage and feel too old to participate. Halloween doesn’t have to be limited to just that; there are many other things you can do to celebrate this upcoming holiday!


  1. Vossler Farms’ Cornmaze

At Vossler Farms, located at South Mooney Boulevard in Visalia, they’re having a cornmaze from September 27th to October 31st. The times are listed on their website. Bring your own flashlight, $9 for the entry fee for adults twelve and up, and extra money for refreshments. There will be drinks, candy, popcorn, nachos, hotdogs, and more for sell. Check the Vossler Farms website for more details (


  1. Visalia Zombie Ball & Crawl

Central Valley Horror Club is hosting their fifth annual Zombie Ball & Crawl on Saturday, October 19th. The event this year will be taking place Downtown Visalia at 6 p.m. There will be a Zombie Crawl, live music and dancing, prizes, contests, and more. It’s only $5 for admission if you come dressed as a zombie and $7 without a costume. If interested, ‘like’ “Visalia Zombie Ball & Crawl” on Facebook for more updates about this event.


  1. PetSmart Costume Party

If you have a pet, bring them to PetSmart on October 19th from 9am to 11 a.m. for a costume party. They will have giveaways and a Halloween backdrop for pictures. Be sure to dress your pet in a cute costume and bring them to this event!


  1. Exeter Halloween Parade

Exeter is holding it’s annual Halloween Parade on Swasey Parkway. The parade will begin at 4:30 a.m. on Friday, October 25th and be led by the Exeter High School Blue Hawks Marching Band. At the end of the parade, there will be refreshments, awards, and an egg haunt for preschoolers-second graders.


  1. Insidious: Chapter 2

If you like horror movies, then you’ll love the newly released movie, Insidious: Chapter 2. This rated PG-13 movie was in theaters since Friday, September 13th. Stop by the Galaxy Theater or Visalia Stadium 10 to see this popular film.


  1. Halloween Time at Disneyland

If you have the chance to visit Disneyland anywhere from now to October 31th, then you’re in for a special treat. For Halloween, Disneyland decorated the park with decorations and is hosting special Halloween events. There will also be exclusive holiday themed souvenirs for sell and other surprises.


  1. Clay Cafe

If you feel like doing something crafty, then Clay Cafe is offering Halloween themed items for you to paint. They have mugs, pots, trays, and other clay pieces available. Stop by Clay Cafe downtown on Main Street at anytime while the Halloween items last.


Halloween only comes once a year, so why not celebrate it? It’s not just a holiday for kids, in fact, many adults still participate. Even if you choose not to go trick-or-treating, there’s still a variety of other things out there for you to do to celebrate. Remember, you’re never too old for Halloween!



Healthy snacking


Staff Writer


Food Column

This photo was taken by Zoey Bland.

It can become very difficult to stay healthy with a busy schedule. Being a high school student can become crazy and rushed. Sometimes we can forget to eat or we just don’t have much time to. A lot of the time, our choices in snacks are not very wise. Finding healthy and energy packed snacks is not easy in the supermarkets of today. Making your own snacks is a much healthier and wallet friendly venture.


Finding a good recipe can be hard, especially when trying to find healthy ones. A website that is very healthy snacking friendly is This website has several recipes for the perfect snack. One recipe that is very delicious and one hundred percent all natural and nutritious is the easy granola recipe.


Easy Granola Bars Recipe


3 cups quick-cooking oats

½ teaspoon cinnamon

1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk

2 tablespoons butter, melted

1 cup flaked coconut

1 cup sliced almonds

1 cup miniature chocolate chips

½ cup sweetened dried cranberries


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease a 9×13 inch pan

In a large bowl, mix oats, sweetened condensed milk, butter, coconut, cinnamon, almonds, chocolate chips and cranberries with your hands. Spread and press into greased pan.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, cook to your liking. Cool for 5 minutes and cut into squares.


This recipe is perfect because not only is it fast, but it also simple.You don’t have to be a five star cook in order to make these savory, nutritious granola bars. Eating healthy is not the easiest thing to do, but having scrumptious recipes to make makes it fun! Living a healthy lifestyle involves staying active, eating right, and staying happy, and making your own granola bars is merely another way to achieve those goals.


Fall time fashion


Staff Writer


Fashion Column

This photo was taken courtesy of Zoey Bland.

Autumn brings new fashion trends to our closets. Because the season is changing, it is time to look into what the “in” fashion is. Fall of 2013 brings infinity scarfs, over-sized sweaters, military boots, cardigans, and many others.


Infinity scarves are great to wear with any fall outfit. When your neck is in need of warmth, an infinity scarf will fix that problem for you, plus it is very fashionable. The nice thing about infinity scarves is that you can either dress it up or dress it down.


Over-sized sweaters are comfy, cozy, and warm. The idea of an over-sized sweater is that you are suppose to buy the sweater a few sizes too big. Some end up purchasing a men’s sweater because it is the perfect size for the comfy, yet cute look.


Military boots are so stylish and also a great way to add some edge to your outfits. Some skinny jeans look great with a pair of military boots. There are several different colors and styles of military boots. Depending on what kind of look you are going for will determine which style would go best.


Cardigans are definitely a fall time “hot commodity”. The nice thing about cardigans is that they are not only stylish but they also add an extra layer for those cool breezes that fall time brings us. Cardigans are so simple, cute, and trendy!


These fall fashion trends will be super stylish for the entire season. The nice thing about having all of these cute items in your closet is that you can also wear them in the winter time!


Formerly conjoined twins walk alone for the first time


Assistant Editor


As of Wednesday, the 4th of September, formerly conjoined twins Hussaina and Hassana were successfully separated in India. These girls are a one-year-olds and they were given a treatment that would change the future course of their lives. They were connected at their backs, which was a very rare case to the doctors in India. These girls hail from Nigeria, but their parents brought them to India for the procedure. The girls were operated on by a team of 40 specialists.

Because this case was so rare, pediatric surgeon Dr. Prashant Jain explained that “it posed a huge challenge to [their] team of doctors.” Obviously, it was a challenge they were able to conquer.

The twins’ mother, Malama Badariyya Badary, was extremely happy at the success of the operation because it meant that she could now hold her daughters ‘individually’.

The surgery was carried out in three stages: preparation, separation, and finally, reconstruction. Reconstruction involved fixing the organs that they originally shared, which were the lower spine, lower intestinal and urinary tracts, and genitals.

This is a very long and complicated process, but Dr. Jain and the other involved doctors were very thorough and tried to be as safe with the operation as they possibly could. “We carried out rehearsals using dummies. All tubes, wires, injections and drugs were color-coded in pink or blue(for each girl) to avoid any mistake.” According to him, only 15% of all conjoined twins are born with pygopagus, which is the medical term for the girls’ condition. “Medical literature lists just 32 such cases”.

Why not operate in Nigeria? The doctors there believed that one of the girls may not survive if they operated in that country. Dr. Jain explained to the family that an unnamed philanthropist suggested they go to India for treatment, where good facilities at relatively low medical costs are offered.

The Nigerian family will be able to return back to Nigeria after a series of month-long check ups.

The girls are now on the road to being very healthy and happy after receiving the greatest gift they ever could have asked for. They were given the priceless gift of individuality and can now grow up to be their own persons and each can now search for her own success.

Rim Fire Engulfs Yosemite


Sports Editor

On August 17th California’s third largest wildfire (as of September 6, 2013) unleashed itself on Stanislaus National Forest. The fire earned the name the Rim Fire; it has almost burned all of the Stanislaus forest and moved into Yosemite national forest. Once the fire moved into Yosemite, it threatened San Francisco’s water and electricity supply. If the winds hadn’t changed and firefighters had not enacted a series of control burns, we would’ve had little power here in the valley. They would have diverted our power to keep San Francisco functioning. Lucky for us the elements went into our favor and moved the fire south east  so that is no longer a threat.

As of Thursday the fire burnt 371 square miles of California, pretty much its burnt all of Washington DC almost 6 times. There have been many theories on how the Rim Fire started. One theory was it was a lightning strike because at the time we were experiencing severe lightning storms, it was later ruled out . Next the theory that was presented was the illegal Marijuana growers in the mountains, the theory was proved false.  Investigators later concurred that it was a hunter that started an illegal fire in Stanislaus national forest for cooking and warming purposes. There have been no arrests made and the name has been withheld until further investigation.

This fire destroyed virtually everything in it’s path. As of Thursday four thousand structures were destroyed along with 11 homes. The blaze has been contained to 80% and will not be fully contained until September 20th, as predicted by the forest service. The fire has caused the utilization of 4,600 firefighters, 300 fire engines and 14 helicopters. It is going to cost California taxpayers around 81 million dollars to get everything back in order.

Despite the fire’s massive size, it has only burned 8 acres out of Yosemite’s 761,000 acres. Due to the dry conditions of this weekend (September 6th through the 9th) the fire is expected to pick up again, but seeing how the remaining 20 % is mostly in Yosemite, which has significantly less foliage to burn, the fire hopefully won’t get too much more out of control.

Word has now gotten out that the Burned Area Emergency Response team has set up a team to set up a ecological damage report of the areas affected by the fire. The team consists of geologists, hydrologists, archeologists, botanists, and biologists, in total there will be about 50 scientists working on the team. The purpose of the team is to look for potential problem areas in the affected region.

The Yosemite fire has caused massive destruction in Northern California destroying well over 350 miles of California forests, making it California’s third largest fire in modern history. It has destroyed communities in the forested areas, creating a lot of concern for the surrounding terrain. It is also a concern of how long it will take for the actual forest to rebound after the devastating Rim fire. Eventually the area will go back to its former beauty and perhaps become even more beautiful.

An opportunity for dinner for charity


Assistant Editor

Chilis- RachaelChili’s Bar and Grill is giving it’s attendees the perfect opportunity to support a fantastic cause. During the Childhood Cancer Awareness Month every September, Chili’s participates in an annual fundraising campaign known as Chili’s More Hope Campaign for St. Jude. The fundraiser consists of guests donating a single dollar to decorate a special coloring sheet provided by the restaurant. Additionally, food servers, bartenders, and hosts sell various things, such as customizable t-shirts and slap bands. The money collected in this campaign, which lasts from the last week in August to the 25th of September, is given to St. Jude’s Research Hospital to support their cause.

The More Hope Campaign derived from a local effort that started in 2002 when seven different Chili’s restaurants in the Memphis area raised approximately $14,000 with no additional materials than crayons and coloring sheets. Following this event, the campaign progressively grew every year following. In 2003, it expanded to five Southeastern states, and altogether they raised $50,000. In 2004, Chili’s expanded into a national partnership. This is also when Chili’s decided to donate a whopping 100% of net profits on the last Monday of September. The first time this was carried out, the goal was to raise $2 million, but the restaurant raised more than $2.5 million! Two years later, in 2006, Chili’s announced plans to raise $50 million over the next ten-year period, an action which would make them the largest single partner donation in the history of the hospital. To honor this amazing feat, St. Jude’s named their bone marrow transplant center the Chili’s Care Center. Recently, in 2011, $5.3 million were raised for St. Jude’s due to Chili’s hard efforts. At this moment, Chili’s has donated more than $46 million to St. Jude’s, a figure very close to their $50 million commitment.

As each September approaches, more and more people become dedicated to contributing to this campaign. After all, this annual tradition allows friends and family to enjoy great food at Chili’s restaurant, whilst at the same time helping those involved with St. Jude’s Hospital. Be sure to make a visit to this restaurant before the month is up!

Ball of energy


Photography Editor

Creative, funny, weird. Nate Brandenburg, a freshman here at El Diamante. Nathaniel Michael Brandenburg is already starting off his journey as a Miner successfully. He has a full schedule, including pre-first weight training.  Nate is involved in Mock Trial, choir, the musical, Key Club, CSF, and Ag Mechanics. Outside of school, he is involved in tennis and with his church. He likes to go shooting with his dad, and he has seven sibling The most important things to him are his family and his faith.

His favorite type of food is Italian, and he likes tacos. Nate’s favorite color is orange, favorite tv show is Top Gear, and favorite song is “If You’re Going Through Hell” by Rodney Atkins. His favorite band is Imagine Dragons. Nate dislikes boring and stupid people. He hates deli meat and mayonnaise and mustard.

Nate is a very interesting young fellow. In three words, his friends would describe him as “funny, independent, and creative,” and “a great friend” also. Nate is honest, caring, and always there for the people he cares about; he is the person that is able to lift someone’s spirits when they are down, and always has a smile on face.  Nate is extremely energetic; he has ADD, or attention- deficit disorder, so he is extremely talkative.

Nathaniel Brandenburg is someone that everyone at El Diamante should get to know. He will liven up your day, and you can’t help but smile when you talk to him. Nate really is a ball of energy.

Ariel Castro’s Sudden Suicide


Staff Writer


Ariel Castro, a convicted kidnapper and rapist, was found dead in his individual cell on the night of September 3, 2013. CNN reports that Caleb Ackley and Ryan Murphy, two correctional officers, found Castro hung with a bedsheet. He was reportedly found at 9:20 pm (EST) and pronounced dead by coroner Dr. Jan Gorniak at 10:52 pm (EST). Ariel Castro’s last known location according to CNN reporters was the Correctional Reception Center in Orient, Ohio.

Castro had pleaded guilty to all 937 counts he was charged with, including the kidnapping of Michelle Knight, Georgina DeJesus, and Amanda Berry. His sentencing was reported to be life in prison for imprisoning the three women for over a decade, plus 1000 years. Fox News reports that he had been kept in protective custody due to his high profile; Castro was also subjected to checks every 30 minutes. His death is being investigated by Ohio State Police and The Department of Corrections. Fox News also writes that Caleb Ackley and Ryan Murphy have been placed on leave as investigators continue to look into Castro’s suicide.

Castro’s suicidal thoughts were never expressed, Fox News quotes guards who said, “He was easy to transfer and he listened.” His suicide came as a shock to the media and his three innocent victims. Throughout the trial only Knight had been able to look her abductor in the eye and express her cruel ordeal. She was quoted saying, “I spent 11 years in hell. Now yours is just beginning” at his sentencing trial August 1, 2013.

Castro was convicted of the kidnapping of Michelle Knight (20), Georgina DeJesus (14), and Amanda Berry(16). Fox News reports that those kidnappings had occurred between 2002-2004. They survived over a decade of beatings, multiple rapes, and miscarriages. They managed to escape May 6, 2013. Castro was arrested that evening and convicted soon after. Amanda Berry and Georgina DeJesus have kept their reactions away from the press and the courtroom. Their families have told multiple reporters that they are trying to move on and commenting will only hold them back. Michelle Knight is the only victim who was able to face her attacker in the courtroom and express her opinion to the press. Ariel Castro’s decade long grip on these three women, however, has now finally been released.


The hottest DIY face masks


Staff Writer



This photo was put together by Janet Bonilla.

Many teenagers are always on the lookout for easy alternatives instead of spending too much money on something they can easily make on their own. One of the major reasons for why this happens is because many teens still rely on their parents’ income. Many, if not all teens, would much rather save their parents some money. Making things for yourself can become one of the easiest alternatives out there. Almost always, you can find the basic items you need right in the comfort of your own home. You can make literally anything you could possibly imagine on your own. You can make several different things, ranging from house decorations all the way until beauty products. The most common Do It Yourselfers out there are beauty DIY’s.


After surveying many El Diamante students, various students on campus were tremendously interested in one thing — “How to get rid of imperfections on the face naturally.” Surprisingly, there are  numerous ways to get rid of dark spots, acne, dryness, and everything that has to do with the complexion of the skin. Fabiola Delgadillo, a senior, said, “Home remedies are something I do. It’s better to making it on your own. At least, thats the way I see it.” Home remedies are becoming increasingly popular among teenagers all over the world.


Frequently asked questions you might ask about DIY’s are:

  • How long will they take me?

  • Where can I get the supplies?

  • Is it a good idea?

  • Will they be hard to make?

  • Are they completely natural?

  • Will it save me money?


The answer to multiple of these questions are yes, yes, and yes! DIY’s don’t take very long and aren’t hard to make at all. You can find almost all of the supplies you need right in your kitchen, saving you a whole lot of cash. Many, if not all, of the products you will be using will be one hundred percent natural. It is actually better to make scrubs or anything of that sort on your own because then you will know exactly what you’re putting on your skin.  It’s better to make it on your own instead of just buying a market based product that you have almost little to no idea about what it actually contains. For example, some skin care products contain chemicals like acrylamide, and such a chemical can cause breast tumors. Harsh chemicals to watch out for in skin care products are alcohols, dioxane, mineral oil, Padimate-O, Parabens, Phenol Carbolic acid, Toluene, and Triclosan. All of these chemicals have been known to cause different types of cancer. If you have any face products with these chemicals, make sure to throw them out! All in all, making your own face products can be a viable option.


Here are some DIY’s you might want to try out:

1. Baking soda facial scrub: Baking soda has a mildly coarse and gritty texture, yet it is extremely gentle on the skin. These two qualities make it ideal as a facial exfoliating scrub. Pour 1 tsp. of baking soda into your hand and massage the baking soda all over your face. Because baking soda can be extremely drying, you want to make sure to leave it on for a short amount of time and rinse it off completely. After, you should apply lotion all over your face so it can retain its moisture.


2. Honey facial mask: Honey contains antibacterial properties, which helps in fighting acne and pimples. Honey reduces infection and is very effective home remedy to treat acne. Even if you don’t have acne, you can use this facial mask to prevent acne and even get positively radiant glowing skin!

3. Milk Facial Treatment: Drinking milk provides numerous benefits for your skin  just like applying milk to your face softens your face to feel just like a baby’s bottom. (No kidding!)

There are countless DIY’s out there. Face masks are just one of them. For any problem, long term or short term,  you have or any quick or long fix. If you haven’t looked into them, you definitely should! You won’t regret it!