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EPISD Student Spotlight: Annabella Alexa Mireles, Burges High

Annabella Mireles

(BURGES HIGH SCHOOL -- Oct. 26, 2020) — Burges High senior Annabella Alexa Mireles took on the challenge of being editor and head photographer of the national award-winning Hoofbeats yearbook when campus life went virtual. For her, building a solid book steeped in a winning tradition is in her blood – roles taken on by her father during his years at Burges. EPISD Community Engagement captured her thoughts about her senior year and creating a yearbook amid a pandemic in this segment of Student Spotlight. 

COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT: What are you doing to keep up school spirit with your classmates during the pandemic?  

ANNABELLA ALEXA MIRELES: School spirit is at its all-time-low. So, to keep my fellow students cheerful about going to school, I try to remind them that they are doing a great job and that this will all be over soon. 

CE: Tells us about the challenges of being the yearbook editor during the pandemic. What are you doing to make sure you have another winning yearbook?

AAM: Being one of the editors of an award-winning book during a pandemic is not easy whatsoever. Especially teaching all of our new staffers the ways of yearbook. The editors and I are trying our best to keep up with trends and adjusting our book accordingly. Since we aren’t sure sports or clubs will have full seasons, we are still trying to figure out how to properly cover them since doing full spreads on them will be more challenging than past years. We are also doing a seasonal book rather than a traditional book to help us cover the year in a more appropriate way. 


CE: As head photographer, how are you capturing this school year in photos?

AAM: As head photographer, capturing the school year through photos is definitely a challenge since media isn’t allowed to cover certain events. However, we have been utilizing the “Yearbook Snap” app so students can send in their own photos and get photo credit in the book. We’ve also been using social media to reach out to our student body and see what activities they’ve been doing over quarantine so we can send photographers to shoot those moments.


CE: What drew you to journalism?

AAM: My father is a Burges alum and he was the Editor-In-Chief and Head Photographer of the Hoofbeats Yearbook. He had always told me how yearbook broke him out of his shell and I wanted to experience what he had. Photography has always been a passion of mine and being a high school photographer was something I really wanted to do and be known for. 


CE: How are you managing virtual learning and what advice would you give other students to ensure success during the pandemic?

AAM: Advice I’d give to other students to ensure success during the pandemic would be to stay organized. It’s easier said than done, but keeping an agenda of goals and assignments with really help keep your thoughts together. I’d also advise students to join clubs and stay active at school. Even though we are in the midst of the pandemic, there are still many opportunities to get involved through student council and the national honors society. 


CE: What are you doing to make the most of your senior year despite the pandemic?

AAM: I am trying my best to keep in touch with my friends and be active in my extracurriculars. I use my free-time to keep up with yearbook and work on different NHS projects. I’ve also been spending a lot of time with my family and really connecting with my sister. I try to remind myself that this is only temporary and even if senior year isn’t what I want it to be, what’s important is staying healthy and reaching out to loved ones.


CE: Where do you plan to go to college and what do you plan to study?  

AAM: I plan on attending UTEP and studying English and minoring in either Education or Psychology. I wanted to stay to home so I can enjoy seeing my family and being with my younger sister and grandfather. After all, El Paso is truly a beautiful place.


CE: What are your honors and achievements in high school?

AAM: I participated in both All-Region and UIL for orchestra my freshman year and qualified to go to state for my ensemble in which we ranked 2. I also participated in UIL for journalism my sophomore year and qualified to go to state. I entered the Walsworth photo contest sophomore and junior year in which I received to honorable mentions my sophomore year and I won best student life photo in the nation my junior year. I qualified my junior year to participate in the College Mindset Academy and received a scholarship to go on the Ivy League tour. 


CE: What extracurricular activities are you involved in? 

AAM: I have been in orchestra all four years and yearbook from sophomore to senior year. I was a photographer sophomore year, Editor-In-Chief my junior year, and Co-Editor-In-Chief / Head Photographer my Senior year. I have been in the National Honors Society since my junior year and I am President this year. I was also part of the Principal’s Advisory Committee my junior and senior year. 


CE: What advice would you give incoming freshman? 

AAM: I would tell incoming freshman to be as involved in school as possible. I would not have had the opportunities and experiences I’ve had if it weren’t for the clubs and organization I’ve joined. It’s so important to be an active member/leader of school. I’d also say to focus on your own goals and stay organized. If you have a plan for your high school years such as what classes to take or what clubs to join, you’ll have a better experience at school.


CE: What have you been doing outside of academics to get through the pandemic? 

AAM: I have been spending time with my family and organizing small get-togethers with friends. I’ll make small group chats among certain friends and we will go to the park and have a socially distanced picnic. We also meet at restaurants and have lunch together to catch up. 


CE: What is the first thing you plan to do when the pandemic is over? 

AAM: I’m not so sure when the pandemic will be over, but I know I will still be taking precautions even after they’ve declared it to be safe. I will probably have a gathering with my friends and have a small ‘victory party’ to celebrate making it through the pandemic. 


CE: Anything you’d like to add? 

AAM: Even though the pandemic has been a challenge to get through, it has also brought me closer to my family members. Before the pandemic, I was staying at school till about 9 or 10 every day and spent my weekends at school in the journalism room or covering sport/club events. Now, I’ve been able to have movie nights with my family and balance work and personal life. 


Interview by Reneé de Santos