Christmas Day in Ukraine

By Valeriy Khimyuk

Many Ukrainians have a day off on Christmas Day, which celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ. It is an annual public holiday across Ukraine and falls on January 7.


Christmas Day celebrates the day Jesus Christ, pictured above, was born.

Christmas for many Ukrainians is an important family holiday. When Ukraine was part of the former Soviet Union, Christmas Day was not a public holiday, but Christmas traditions were not forgotten. After Ukraine gained its independence in 1991, Christmas Day was made a public holiday. Many Ukrainian Christmas traditions are based on pre-Christian Pagan customs. The Ukrainian Christmas festive days according to the Julian calendar, start on 6 January, Christmas Eve, and end on 19 January, “Jordan” or Epiphany.

Svyatyi Mykolai (Saint Nicholas) – Ukrainian Santa Claus?

The image of Svyatyi Mykolai as a person who brings the Christmas gifts for children, the feast of which is marked on 19 December. It is supposed, that children should find their Christmas gifts under their pillow on that morning.

Holy Evening – time for family celebrating.

Sviata Vecherya or “Holy Supper” is the central tradition of the Christmas Eve celebrations in Ukrainian homes. The dinner table sometimes has a few wisps of hay on the embroidered table cloth as a reminder of the manger in Bethlehem.

Kutia (sweet grain pudding) is traditionally served at the Ukrainian Christmas dinner table. It is often the first dish in the traditional twelve-dish Christmas Eve supper and is rarely served at other times of the year.


Koliadky (Caroling)

At the end of the Sviata Vechera the family often sings Ukrainian Christmas carols. In many communities the ancient Ukrainian tradition of caroling is carried on by groups of young people and members of organizations and churches calling at homes and collecting donations. The Ukrainian song “Shchedryk” became the basis for the world famous Christmas Carol, “Carol of the Bells”.  Another well-known carol is Boh predvičnyj narodivsja.

Didukh (Grandfather)

When the children see the first star in the eastern evening sky, the Sviata Vecherya may begin. In farming communities, the head of the household now brings in a sheaf of wheat called the didukh which represents the importance of the ancient and rich wheat crops of Ukraine, the staff of life through the centuries. Didukh means literally “grandfather spirit” so it symbolizes the family’s ancestors. In city homes a few stalks of golden wheat in a vase are often used to decorate the table.

Christmas Day is a public holiday across Ukraine, so many businesses, schools, universities and public offices are closed.

Many Orthodox Christian churches in Ukraine observe the Christmas Day date from the Julian calendar, which is different from the more commonly used Georgian calendar. So, while Christmas is still on December 25 in the Julian calendar, it appears on January 7 in the Gregorian calendar, up until 2100. After that, the Gregorian date for Orthodox Christmas will be January 8 in 2101.

My family also has it’s own traditions for Christmas, and this time of the year is my favourite time, because all our family gather together. I like the atmosphere of Christmas, and I will miss my family at this year’s’ Christmas.   

Being the Best Isn’t Easy

By: Dulce Hernandez & Julian Duran

If you think being the best is easy, ask Junior, Katie Pfaff and Sophomore, Sean Kerwin, they both auditioned for the Tulare-Kings Counties Honor Band, Katie received 6th out of 21 chairs, and Sean is the only Bari saxophone. Rehearsal begins in January, and the event is January 14th at 4:00 pm at Porterville High School. Honor Band can be a great experience for students looking for a challenge that pushes them out of there comfort zone.img_0350

Katie Pfaff

Were you nervous to audition?

“I was very nervous to audition, but I think that helped me in the end.”

How did you feel after walking off stage?

“After I auditioned, I felt like I had done alright, but it wasn’t the absolute best I could have performed, I did not think I would make 6th chair, it’s truly an honor.”  

Were you happy with your results?

“I’m overjoyed with the results! My personal goal was to make it in the top ten, and I achieved that! I’m very excited to perform the songs we have this year.”


Sean Kerwin

Were you nervous to audition?

“I was extremely nervous because I hardly practiced the audition material”

How did you feel after walking off stage?

“I felt very good after because I surprisingly did not do that bad”

Were you happy with your results

“Yes, I was very happy with my results”


Best Christmas Memory


By Jordan Price & Mariza Murrietta

Christmas is a holiday of joy and happiness which creates many great memories!We asked six people what their best Christmas memory was! We hope to get some interesting stories!

Dylan Mills

Q: What was your best Christmas memory?

A: “ My most memorable Christmas was when my brother got a hover board and all the family thought it would be fun to ride, later my Dad found out it wasn’t so fun… He hopped on it and ran right into the the Christmas tree, knocked it over, and broke many ornaments!”


Lauren Little

Q: What was your best Christmas memory?

A: “The greatest Christmas was when Trinity, Julian, my brother, my parents and I went to the Christmas tree farm and my brother sang Glamorous and danced with the trees.”


Julian Duran

Q: What was your best Christmas memory?

A: “One year I went up to the snow with my dad, and we filled the bed of his truck with snow. We came back to town and made a big snowman in our front yard. Ten of our neighbors came to take a picture with it.”


Genesis Gonzalez

Q: What was your best Christmas memory?

A: “When I went to decorate my house; I went on top of the roof to fix the Christmas lights and my dad scared me in a Santa Claus suit! It had frightened me so much that I fell off the roof!”


Zadie Barns

Q: What was your best Christmas memory?

A: “I was forced to go Christmas caroling with my family, and ending up being the only person getting chased by three dogs.”


Jessica Sandoval

Q: What was your best Christmas memory?

A: “ I thought I was getting a puppy for Christmas, but when I opened it, there was a rat instead. I was very scared and did not know what to do!”


It’s now the season of Christmas, and I am sure that many people will make many memories with family and friends!

Christmas Spirit on the Rise

By: Misty and Robby Stevenson

For the third year in a row, Woodlake has held their Christmas Parade and Santa Workshop. Due to inclimate weather, the Santa Workshop was moved to before the parade and was held from 4-6:30 pm on Saturday at the new Plaza. The Santa Workshop gave children the opportunity to meet Santa and receive gifts. After Santa’s Workshop, the Christmas Parade was held from 6:30- 7:30 pm. The parade was held down Main Street and drew a huge crowd from Woodlake and other surrounding cities. Every year the parade has grown and the crowd has gotten bigger, which is great for the community of Woodlake. This year’s parade was bigger and better than ever!  The floats were decorated with Christmas lights, and were full of spirit. Entries for the parade were from all over the Central Valley. Overall, the turnout for the parade and workshop was a great success, and we cannot wait to see how the parade grows in the future.

Toys for Joy

By: Juan Sandoval & Isaiah Maldonado

toy-drive-page-bannerEvery year, there are children all around the country that do not get to experience the feeling of opening a new Christmas present. Here in Woodlake, this problem is not rare and many kids do not receive a gift for Christmas. There are many families that cannot afford giving the memory of opening a new present under the tree on Christmas morning. No child should have a recollection of not opening a gift on Christmas for it is a memory that everyone should experience at least once.

This is where the Annual Toy Drive comes in to help these kids receive a toy that will make their Christmas one to remember. Every year, around Christmas time, the community comes together to donate toys and money for the toy drive. Mr. Gonzalez takes part in this process by helping organizing ¨Toys For Joy¨:  ¨We raise money by personal donations from people and service clubs, and also run fundraisers like dinners to raise money for the Toy

Drive. Checks can be made out to “Kiwanis Club of Woodlake-Toys for Joy”. If you want to help your community, the toy drive will be the way to go. Gifts are needed for kids ranging from infants to 18 year olds (as long as they are in school).

Toys For Joy helps around 150 families and 500 children in Woodlake. Listen to the morning announcements for opportunities of donating gifts for the Toy


Study Hard to Party Hard

By: Jocelyn Sanchez, Jasmine Armenta

The most dreadful time of the year is probably finals week! Sorry tigers, but they’re approaching very quickly! During the end of the semester, students are usually stressed to the max and start seeing gray hairs. Since this dreadful time of the year is right around the corner, here is some advice to ensure you are prepared for your exams with these study tips, which can help you conquer your finals.

  • Create your own study guide

Making your own study guide will help you out because you made it yourself and they are just suggestions of the main concepts to learn. Use fill in the blanks with related information.


  • Ask questions


Ask your teachers for help, that is what they are here for! Ask them specific questions about what’s going to be on the final exam.


  • Attend tutorials for extra help


If you are struggling with what’s going to be on the final, attend after school tutorials. You will get a one on one understanding on the concept.


  • Don’t procrastinate


Procrastinating will do you no good what’s so ever! Start on your assignments early so you can have extra time to study and ace your final!


  • Study things not on the study guide


Study guides aren’t always comprehensive – they’re just suggestions of the main concepts to learn. It may be useful to study other concepts that are not on your study guide.   

Here are some students, and teachers personal tips on how to get prepared for finals:

screenshot_2016-08-11-09-19-53 Leonel Mercado

Q: “How do you get ready  for finals week?”

A: “I listen to hard music, pray before every test and definitely wear my favorite lucky underwear.”

Q: “What are your top recommendations for students that are preparing for finals?”

A: “Study for a bit, but don’t over do it, too much of something is bad.”

Q: What questions have you asked your teachers about finals?

A: “ 1. Do you see me in summer school?..2. Can you just pass me if I pay you?”

selfMr. Summers

Q:“What would you recommend for students to do during finals”

A: “I know Finals are stressful and most everyone is studying up until the last moment, so the best thing to do is prepare ahead of time so that doesn’t happen. But if you have to stay up late, remember, all the studying in the world won’t matter if you fall asleep during the test, so get enough sleep and eat well. Your brain works best on a belly full of good healthy food and good sleep.”

Q:“What did you do when you were in high school to prepare for finals”

A: “Like a lot of your teachers here at WHS, my teachers gave us study guides, so I would complete the study guides and then make flash cards. If my teacher did not give me a study guide I would look back at the key terms and topics and get together with a group from class and we would make flash cards together and quiz each other. Study Groups were a HUGE help! But the best thing I did was pay attention in my classes from the beginning and did my work. That was the BEST preparation.”

Q:“What should students ask teachers about finals”

A: “You should know if the final is comprehensive or not, meaning does it cover everything from the beginning of the semester to now, or if it is a unit exam. Then you can know to ask what kinds of material it is going to cover.”

Christmas Around the World

Christmas, a time in the year where children await the famous Saint Noel (Santa), elders decorate their houses, and people purchase Evergreen trees in their homes to have a place to set gifts.

Surprisingly, Christmas trees were not always here. In 1848, the first American newspaper had a picture of a Christmas tree, the custom spread to every home within a couple of years. Many other countries celebrate their own type of Christmas. Sweden’s form of Christmas is called God Jul. They honor St. Lucia (the saint of the blind) every year on December 13. Each year, one girl is chosen to be ‘’ National Lucia “ and she is honored in a parade where she is surrounded by torchbearers.

Christmas in the valley usually means cold weather, unlike Australia’s. Their Christmas is very different than the rest. It is very hot, especially since it can be up to 100 degrees. Going to the beach and having BBQs are very common.

A very common American Christmas includes eggnog. Eggnog came from the U.S in Jamestown. It consists of different spices and of course rum. The word egg nog comes from the word grog, which means any drink made with rum. Another American tradition would be mistletoe. Mistletoe dates all the way back to thousands of years ago. The Greeks used it as a cure for cramps and spleen disorder.The plant’s romantic overtone started with the Celtic Druids of the 1st century A.D. because mistletoe would blossom during the frozen winter. The Druids came to view it as a sacred symbol of vivacity and they administered it to humans.

All around the world people celebrate Christmas traditions very differently than what the United States are used to. Christmas is not about opening presents, but so much more. Now let’s bust out those evergreen trees and decorate!downloaddownload4619169693

High Hopes For HOBY

By: Claudia Zacarias and Sandra Murrietta

Winners: Marcela A., Raul Reynoso, and Christina Sherwood

Congratulations to Raul Reynoso, Marcela A. and Christina Sherwood for being selected to attend this year’s 2016 HOBY Seminar at the beautiful campus of Cal Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks, California! The Leadership Seminar will be held June 15th through June 18th,  and the students will experience college life as they live in dorms with roommates. They will learn how to become stronger and better leaders by going through personal and collaborative challenges. Not many student are aware, but attending HOBY is an honor that few get to experience. The sophomores were not only hand-picked by teachers and counselors on campus, but also had to create a resume, write an essay, and be interviewed by caring citizens in our community in order to have to chance to be selected.

What is Hoby you may ask? Hoby is a nonprofit organization founded by Hugh O’Brian, a well-known television star in 1958. Throughout his career, O’ Brian came into good fortune and decided he wanted to help teens develop their potential leadership skills to help better the future.

The 3-4 day seminars are held all over the states in different cities, where traveling is convenient for the students coming from 3 blocks away or 3 hours away.  The conference helps sophomores all over the world discover what their true leadership potentials are by helping them break out of their shells.

We wanted to interview the winners and ask them some questions about their hopes for HOBY…

file_000Christina Sherwood, Sophomore

Q:  Based off your sister’s Hannah experience, who was one of last year’s HOBY attendees, do you have any expectations for Hoby?

Christina: “Overall I’m just really excited, I think it’s going to be a really great experience, especially  based off what Hannah’s told me.”

Q:  Were you nervous about having to complete the Hoby process?

Christina: “I was really nervous actually, especially the interview at first, but once I got in there and turned in all the requirements, I definitely felt more relaxed and I was more confident about it.”

Q:  If you were trying to describe Hoby, how would you ?”

Christina: “Hoby is a leadership seminar where around three sophomores from different schools, both locally and far, are selected by their teachers as nominees, and they go through the whole application process,  get interviewed, and are selected attend by several members in our community. Hoby is a once in a life-time opportunity to personally expand your leadership skills.”  

file_000-4Raul Reynoso, Sophomore

Q:  Would you consider the HOBY application process as difficult or easy?

Raul: “If anything I would say it was fun because while I was finding out about the process and completing each assignment, I discovered more about myself, my situation, and who I am as a person. Overall so it was fun discovering new parts of me.”

Q:  So what are your hopes for attending Hoby? What do you want to gain from the experience?”

Raul: “What I hope to gain from this conference is to become a stronger leader, where I can hopefully come back to Woodlake High School and bring back what I learned and influence my peers positively.”

Q:  Are you nervous or excited about attending Hoby?

Raul: “I’m just excited to attend, I’m excited to meet the other candidates who got accepted, and I can’t wait to learn about what I hear is a valuable experience.”

file_000-5Marcela Arambula, Sophomore

Q:  So what was your first reaction after you found out that you were selected to go to HOBY?

Marcela: “I was so happy and excited that I wanted to burst out in tears of joy”

Q:  What are you hoping to bring back from your experience at Hoby?

Marcela:“I am hoping to bring back positivity and leadership skills. and learn how to communicate better with others”

Q:  Do you think you’ll be nervous to be away from home for three to four days in a different atmosphere with strangers?”

Marcela: “No, I actually think that it’ll be refreshing to get away from my family, friends, and have the opportunity to meet new people.”

Roll that Clip!

By: Julian Duran & Dulce Hernandez

Woodlake High School recently held their first annual film festival the morning of December 3. Video editing teacher, Omar Garza, had the idea to hold this event. Students of all grades were allowed to film a short movie and present it to the crowd, and awards were given to the top movies. Ten movies were presented at the festival ranging from horror and suspense to action. Foreign exchange student, Valeriy Khimyuk (Val), won two of three awards for Best Video Editing and Best Cinematography for his movie, “Should We”. Although the movie “Anonymous”, eluded Val’s for the top spot of Best Overall Movie. This movie was made by a group of 3 seniors: Manuel Gonzalez, Christian Vera, and Juan Melendez. The event brought in over 50 guests who quickly filled up the PAB seats. Mr. Garza enjoyed this year’s festival, and has even higher hopes for next year’s. He hopes to continue this tradition for years to come.


Here’s a clip of the film festival!


Turkey Shoot Recap!

By: Charlotte Lira & Christopher Coelho

Woodlake FFA hosted its annual Turkey Shoot on Saturday, December 3. Twenty-four turkeys and hams were given out this year as prizes for the winners of each round. At this year’s Turkey Shoot there were approximately 50 people that showed up to shoot and support Woodlake’s FFA. This year was the first that the Woodlake FFA Turkey Shoot had an all women’s round, along with having the regular men’s round, and an Annie Oakley round. Annie Oakley is when the men, and occasionally some women, line up in a line of 10 and shoot in order; however, let’s say the person in square one missed, and the person in square two hits the clay pigeon, then the guy in square one is out. It goes on until there are two men or women left, and then whoever hits the pigeon first wins the turkey or ham. Over all Woodlake FFA had a great turnout and we hope to see some of you come out next year!20161203_124710screenshot_2016-12-07-09-40-16-1