Choir receives perfect score at CMEA


n March 10 HHS Choir performed at the California State Music Association (CMEA) festival hosted at Saratoga High School. The group achieved the highest possible scoring of unanimous superior.

The judges unanimously decided that Homestead choir is superior.

A unanimous superior is when all three of the judges give the performance a perfect score, Senior Ivy Janes said. Getting the highest scoring possible was a step up from previous performances, she said.

Last year, the chamber choir scored a superior, Janes said. For a superior, only two of the three judges grade the performance as superior.

“I wasn’t really that nervous… it was a nice space to perform and I think we did really well,” Freshman Verrue Vummidi said. However, confidence was not what led them to the perfect score.

“We practiced for weeks before the CMEA happened, it was just constant practice of the songs,” said Vummidi.  

“[Getting he unanimous superior] felt really good, it restored my faith in the choir,” said Vummidi.

Choir is going to another CMEA event in May this year, Janes said.

How John Burn ignited his career

As both a graduate of and teacher at HHS, John Burn has always been involved in music, Burn said.

“I graduated from Homestead and then I went to De Anza [College] for two years,” Burn said. “I just tried to play my trumpet as much as I could.”

By taking advantage of every opportunity, Burn cemented his career and college experience. He filled his free time practicing and finding new techniques to improve his skills as a musician, Burn said.

Teacher John Burn’s life circled back to music from graduation to teaching.

“When I went to college, I studied music education,” Burn said. “I wanted to teach music sometime in the future.”

Following his passion, Burn put in the work to excel at his career. Originally, he went into band because he wanted to present amazing music and bring out the best out of student musicians, he said.

“Music education is a really time-consuming major,” Burn said. “I had more classes than most of my friends who weren’t music majors.”

After graduating from UCLA, Burn said he went to work as a band director at Santa Cruz High School with relative ease.

“If you become [a teacher], you are going to have a 90 percent chance of getting a job,” Burn said. “We are in a teacher shortage and it will remain that way for a long time.”

Burn said the transition from teaching at Santa Cruz High School to HHS was not as easy as he anticipated.

“There were still a lot of teachers that were my teachers,” Burn said.

Burn said coming back to the high school he graduated from took time to adjust to, but eventually managed to calibrate into the system.

“I just felt strange being Mr. Burn instead of just John,” he said. “Of course that [has] changed over time.”

Over the years as an educator, Burn said he learned new teaching philosophies.

“I’m a teacher first and a musician second,” Burn said. “I use music to teach kids, to help kids have amazing experiences that are going to give them skills and memories that will help them succeed in life.”

Kim’s night to remember

The girl’s varsity basketball team hosted “Kim Night” in memory of the honorable Kimberly Nuestro on Friday, Jan. 12, 2018.

A small table was set up in the student center with Kim’s basketball jersey, flowers and pictures of her. Blue and gold paper streamers decorated the entranceway of the gym.

The bleachers were full of students and staff members sporting Warriors apparel in support of Nuestro’s favorite basketball team. Her entire family also attended the event, seated in the front of the bleachers.

The event started with a brief introduction followed by a moment of silence led by an English teacher Steve Lavelle.

Nuestro’s teammates stood in a straight line, hand in hand and in silence, in honor of her time at HHS.

Nuestro’s basketball coach, Becky Chiu organized the event, alongside with several administration members and the girl’s varsity basketball team. Together they created t-shirts that followed the Warriors color scheme and said Play for Kimberly. In addition, the girl’s varsity basketball team commissioned patches on their jerseys with Nuestro’s initials monogrammed on the front.

Junior Yun Chuah, another close friend of Nuestro’s shared her feelings after the moment of silence held for Nuestro.

“The moment of silence brought back a lot of emotions that I had when she first left us.  Sometimes I find it hard to really accept that she’s gone and moments like these make it real. In that moment it made me miss her so much but in some weird way the night made me feel closer to her as well,” Chuah said.

Chiu said she was initially worried about the turnout, but she was overall happy with the event.

“That moment of silence was just so beautiful and heartwarming. I’m really glad that the staff was on board for this,” Chiu said.

Chiu said she is not certain whether this event will continue in future years.

“[Kim Night] was already a given,” Chiu said. “From the moment that she passed, we knew that we had to do something to honor her. I’m not so sure if this is something that will continue on, but it’s definitely a possibility. At the end of the day, it’s up to her family and whatever they feel comfortable with.”

One of Nuestro’s friends, junior Trinity Gao, explained the meaning behind the Warriors apparel.

“Basketball has always been such a huge part of Kim’s life and she was simply a huge fan of the Warriors team,” Gao said. “After everyone wore the Warriors gear the week that she passed and Steph Curry signed her shoes, it became symbolic.”

Dr. Morton’s key to harmony

Photo by Riley Anderson
Dr. Morton continues to balance his career and home life after 20 years of teaching.


Not all students can sing, but the melodious voice of Dr. Jeff Morton can. Although choir is his passion, he still lives a creative life outside of school.

Morton has been teaching for 20 years, it has not always been that way. Morton’s musical education path did not start out after he received his doctorate from the University of Houston. Morton actually felt he lacked the experience to engage and educate a class.“I always felt like I needed to be older, even to teach middle and high school,” said Morton.

Throughout the years of teaching choir, Morton said he found the amount of preparation it takes to organize concerts and festivals to be the greatest challenge.

“Finding music that students like that is appropriate and fits a chorale setting, and then just juggling it all [is challenging],” Morton said.

As the teacher for choir and AP music theory, Morton believes choir is much more difficult to instruct.

“Theory [is] just a routine that I know exactly what to do next and have everything laid out. It takes very little prep. But choir takes a ton of prep,” Morton said.

Last year the choir, band and drama departments came together to create a musical to broadcast all of the students’ performing talent. With this first experience, Morton said he overestimated the amount of time the musical would take and believes that helped him manage the workload.

Morton spends most of the year focusing on how he can improve choir for years to come. He attempts to find and build new software to help enhance his student’s education.

“In summer, I change gears and do coding on the software that I built, Sonic Fit, which I use in class.” Morton said.

When he is not teaching his students, Morton finds himself spending time with his family or in his garden.

“I enjoy working in the garden … any time I can carve out and I’m, like, engaging with my kids,” Morton said.