Profile Stories

Local Student Fencing to Win Championships

   By Jamieson D.

En garde. ready, fence! They rush at each other to attack, surprising his opponent, leaving him off-guard and getting a nick on the neck. The fifteen points are won!

This scenario is just another typical fencing match for William Siegel, a seventh-grader at Blach.

William appears to be just a regular student at Blach, but William plays a fascinating sport. His sport isーfencing.

“It’s a unique sport, unlike a lot of other sports, because, instead of using balls, you use a foil, which is a long bendable blade usually with one blunt point,” William says.

William’s family consists of his mother, father, and little sister. William’s mother is what you might call a helicopter parent.  She wanted her son to play something other than soccer. “My mom pushes me to be the very best at what I do,” he said. The reason she does this is because she firmly believes that her son can be the best at however he wants to spend his time.

William’s father is also very supportive of what William does and is always there with him for moral support and to help reduce the stress of all his extracurricular activities. Also, his little sister  loves to cheer on her big brother in all of his matches.

Ever since the first day of his fencing practice, William has had a burning passion for it.

To collect  more information about William, I asked a close friend of his, named Kyle. Kyle told me that William was a very kind human being who always tries to get others to laugh while staying cheerful no matter what the situation; “He likes to make people laugh and smile, so he often tells jokes,”  Kyle told me.

Then, I interviewed William’s father, Mr. Siegel. Mr. Siegel gave me similar answers. He added that William has a sarcastic sense of humor and has a lot of empathy. So, with these positive responses, we can quickly assume that William is a good-natured and funny human being.

In the beginning, William was not very good at fencing, but through his mother’s tough love and his own self-determination; he pushed himself forward until he began to win games.

William explained to me that once he got better at fencing, he would move up an imaginary staircase. Each step brought him one step closer to being the top student, which put in line to move onto the next level.

Once William got good enough to move up to the next level, he quickly became the worst student at the higher level. That is, until he got better, and moved up the stairs again. This created an ongoing path to success. He told me that, as of now, he is somewhere in the lower half of the final step.

William has competed in a few fencing tournaments. In Las Vegas, he almost went all the way to the championship round. He also competed in Washington state. I asked him what his thought processes were when he went to a tournament.

He responded this way, “There are hundreds of fencers, and most of them are better than me. But, I’m going to do my best and try to get as high on the leaderboard as I can. It’s kind of intimidating because a lot of them are a year or two older than me and they are at different skill levels. So, I don’t want to lose to a person of lower skill. That would be humiliating. Also, when you play against someone with better skills, it can be very intimidating.”

William trains very hard. He hopes to compete in many more fencing tournaments, maybe even take first place, on occasion. When he becomes good enough, he’ll want to go all the way to a championship match somewhere outside the United States. William left me with these final words, You get to play around with a sword! I mean what’s not fun about that?

The Custodian, a Hero in Disguise:

Miguel Alfaro is a custodian at Blach Intermediate School who is a friend to all of the students.

By Heidi P.

Dry leaves crinkle and the wind whispers as the breeze lifts stray pieces of trash off the ground, momentarily flying before being brought back down to the surface. For once, it seems like peace has found its place on Earth.

Señor Alfaro poses at lunch while walking around the campus to help clean up.

A man, hands calloused from years of hard work, wheels his supply cart down the grey sidewalks of the school. Glancing up at the sky, the clouds and sun show signs of clear weather. He closes his eyes and takes a slow breath. The quiet lasts a heartbeat, but enough to make him feel as if the world paused just for him.

A sharp, shrill sound emits from all over the campus, signaling the start of lunch. His rest would have to wait.

Miguel Angel Alfaro, born on the seventeenth of March, is at the age of 67, old enough to have surpassed the age of being a senior citizen but still expresses his gratitude and happiness as well as any junior high student.

Alfaro was raised in tropical Macuelizo, a municipality in the Honduran department of Santa Barbara. As a child in such a big family, he lived with his mother, father, two sisters, and four brothers, sharing two rooms with his siblings, one for each gender.

Miguel continued to reside in the small town in the Honduras until 1996, where he moved with his sister to live in the US.

“I came to live here with one of my sisters. But it was hard for me because my wife and my children were in Honduras. I missed my family, I missed the food, I missed everything,” Alfaro stated.

For a short while, Alfaro explained that he went through depression. It felt as if his senses were being played with ― the feeling of humid air against his skin, replaced by the cool, dry air of California.

Alfaro gradually became more accustomed to life in America. He started out as a custodian substitute and maintenance worker for Los Altos School District in the April of 2006. He has been working at Blach as a custodian since the August of 2011, and has a side job at a gas station.

“I applied for a job here because I know that Blach is a nice place to work. I can support my family and pay the rent,” Miguel said. Every day at work for Miguel is like a workout. He wakes up early to get to his job, and starts the day with cleaning the unhygienic bathrooms of Blach.

“My first impression, and my continued impression is that Mr. Miguel is super hardworking, and he thinks of staff needs and student needs first. He’s always making sure our campus is ready for students and staff and he’s really flexible too,” Mrs. Narula, principal of Blach Intermediate School expressed.

“I think he’s very hardworking, I think he’s very kind to us. He’ll say “hi” and he always smiles. He [also] always tries to get us to clean up our trash― in a friendly way,” Souf R., a seventh grader at the Blach school, says.

Miguel voiced his advice about studying hard and making sure that there is something that you as a student enjoyed and wanted to do as a adult because in the future, it will pay off.

If Alfaro could become anything, he would want to become a singer. He enjoys listening to songs such as “Jambalaya,” a song written about food by The Carpenters. Miguel likes to chow down on seafood including shrimp, crab, and fish.

Before he passes away, Alfaro said that he’d like to see every student recycling. He’d like to retire from his job, relax, and sing, whilst knowing that he left the world in the hands of people that cared for the Earth.

Señor Miguel might be older than most people think, but that certainly doesn’t stop him from interacting with the students in Blach. It’ll certainly be a while until Alfaro decides to stop working at our community but for now, he’s enjoying this experience.