Pilar had to make a decision; have a traditional quinceañera or come to the United States as a host student.
Most girls from Spanish speaking countries are ecstatic to have a quinceañera, a celebration of turning 15 and essentially transitioning from girl to woman. Pilar was given a choice for her birthday; she could choose to have a quinceañera or come to North Cross in the Argentina Exchange Program.
“It was the right decision,” she said. “This trip will help me in my future much more than a party.”
Pilar Aguero is 15 years old and from Mendoza, a major city of 1.5 million in Argentina. She goes to Escuola Italiana, a trilingual private school in the center of Mendoza.
“School is very different here. In general, the ones who move from classroom to classroom are the teachers, not the students, but I like it because it gets boring sitting in the same classroom all day.”
One of Pilar’s favorite things to do is dance.
At the studio in Argentina where she dances Reggaeton (a popular genre of music, similar to rap), and free dance.
There have been many activities set up by Associate Head of School for Academics Victor. Lamas, such as going on hikes, cookouts at host students houses, exploring downtown, and sometimes just everyone eating dinner together..
One of Pilar’s favorite experiences at North Cross so far was the Lip Sync Competition.
“It was so fun to watch, I’ve never seen anything like it.”
When asked about what she would give advice to the future student coming on the exchange, she paused before answering: “Enjoy every little moment and don’t take anything for granted because it goes by so fast.”
Many people do not understand the skill and talent it takes to be part of the tech and crew for a musical. For Beck Hansen ‘21 and Suvi Hansen ‘26, it has become somewhat of a family tradition.
Throughout their middle and high school careers, Beck and Suvi have participated in countless plays and musicals, the most recent one being Little Shop of Horrors, in which Suvi was helping as a Soundboard Operator and Beck was the Stage Manager.
Beck started participating in these theater productions when he was only in fifth grade. He acted in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, Oklahoma, Aïda and a brief role in Seussical the Musical.
Last year, due to COVID, the spring musical, Into the Woods, was performed outdoors. Although he had done some work in tech and crew in past years, this unique instance provided Beck with the opportunity to learn how to operate the soundboard. Beck utilized the guidance and assistance of his older brother, Davin Hansen ‘[graduation year] to learn some of the basic controls. Davin was the first in his family to learn how to run a stage crew.
“It was very difficult at first, though after a little bit, it became easier,” Beck said. “The hardest part is monitoring all of the microphones and the music at the same time. It took me about 4 run-throughs of Into the Woods to get used to the soundboard.”
Asherah Capellaro, the Director of Concert Choir and Chorale, expressed that stage managers have to know the show better than anyone else, other than the Director. They have a very crucial role backstage as they must know all of the scenes and their length, and they have to keep the next scene in the back of their mind.
“Without a crew, the show would literally not go on. There would be no set, no props, no sound, no costumes, and no lighting. Even in a blackbox theatre with no set and minimal props, a show still needs at least a skeleton crew for costume and hair, lights, mics, etc.” Capellaro said, “It would be a little bit like playing a soccer game but with no cleats, no shin guards, a patchy grass field with mole hills, no goal markers, and no refs. Could you still play? Kind of. The bigger a show, and the bigger the theatre, the more crew needed to keep everything running.”
Little Shop of Horrors was a particularly important production for Beck, as it was his last musical as a high school student. As a surprise, Amy Jackson, the Fine Arts Department Chair, presented the seniors involved in the musical with a gift at the end of closing night. Beck received a poster signed by the cast and crew as well as a little plant, as a reference to the plot of the play.
Although he does not think tech will become a career for him in the future, Beck expressed he would be interested in continuing it as a hobby. The high standard of the musical demanded very intense preparation and support from the tech and crew behind the scenes.
“Tech and sound do everything you don’t notice but see,” said Beck. “We help build the set, work the lights, organize props, help actors with costume changes, move set pieces and of course, run the sound. Without these things, a play or musical would be severely disorganized and wouldn’t yield the same results.”
By Gracean Ratliff '23
On Christmas of 2020, Evie Eagan ‘25 was ecstatic
to find under her Christmas tree a beautiful
“When I saw it, I was so happy because I had seen it in the shops and I loved the color,” Eagan
said. “I really wanted it and it made me so happy.”
Her current guitar, an indigo Squire electric guitar, was not her first rodeo with the strings.
She has been playing on an acoustic guitar since
she was 6.
“I got my first acoustic guitar in 2013 and it was given to me because I wanted to learn how to play.”
By the looks of her, one wouldn’t immediately think she would be so talented at the guitar. One would especially not guess that her favorite music to play and listen to is ‘80s rock and roll. She enjoys listening to Bon Jovi, Metallica, Guns N Roses and Aero Smith.
“I have always loved listening to the [‘80s rock] solos and the songs, and I love the way they sound,” Eagan said. “When people find out the kind of music I like to play, they look at me and don’t think that would be the music I’m into,” Eagan said.
When she was younger and was eager to learn how to play, she started taking lessons with a very talented guitarist, Kris Hale, and attends his music school. Her dad knows how to play the guitar as well.
At her previous school, her music class got together a band, and she was able to play in many of the festivals they held, including one time at the Strawberry Festival, where they performed the song, Rio.
She spends most of her nights performing in her basement for her dogs.
“When I feed my dogs at night, they take a long time to eat,” she said, “so my guitar is in the room that they eat in and so I just play on my guitar for a while and I turn up the volume on my amp a lot.”
She has now joined Dr. Naginey and Dr. Koss in the new Guitar Club, and gets to blow people
away when she takes her first strums at the guitar.
Now that something is included into activity block that she is passionate about and knows a lot
about, she gets to bring that passion to school and share it with her classmates.
“Evie was really the one who got the Guitar Club started this year. She was the one who came to me and asked me to do it,” Dr. Naginey said, “She’s been really helpful with picking songs and teaching other people in the club how to play the basics. Plus she’s really really good at guitar so it’s been fun to play with her.”
Eagan’s future goals include a career developing her guitar talents. She plans on starting a band and to share her talents with a whole crowd watching.
“I want to have a band in the future” Eagan said, “One where we’re not super big, but people know us by name.”
Eagan lives for the reaction of people after hearing her play and keeps that as a fuel for pursuing guitar in the future.
“When you finish a song, the way the people look and how happy the people are, that is my
By Jimmy Dickerson '25
Everybody knows that Danny Phung is a fun student from Vietnam who loves football and basketball, but few know how much he loves being a member of the yearbook staff.
Phung is not just any regular dorm student, he is involved in lots of athletic activities. He played in the Homecoming game against Fishburne. Danny also is very passionate about basketball. He also really enjoys the yearbook class. It is his favorite class.
The running back was a star player during the Fishburne game. He scored a touchdown and everyone in the stands went wild. That was definitely a highlight of the game. Phung did not play a huge amount of time in the game, but when he did he played his hardest.
When Phung scored the whole student section went wild and his teammates immediately ran onto the field to pick him up and cheer for him.
“The touchdown was an amazing feeling,” Phung said. “When you are running from opponents into the endzone you feel this rush and a call of instinct that makes me feel alive.”
That sounds like an amazing feeling. Phung says that he really enjoys football, but that isn’t his only sport.
Phung is currently playing basketball and he sounds extremely passionate about it.
“It is the first sport I ever played and it has a special place in my heart,” he said. “If I was taller, I would definitely go all out in basketball.”
Phung loves basketball and football. He is a true athlete, he enjoys his sport and he puts the work in.
Phung radiates positivity and is overall just a great person and a wonderful addition at North Cross School.
Phung’s hobby is playing video games, but he quit playing video games because he wants to focus on football and basketball.
Some of Phung’s key inspirations are his mother because of her work ethic, and fellow teammates, Moritz Schmoranzer, Kam Johnson, Ian Cann. He is also motivated by Kobe Bryant’s legendary work ethic. Phung in going places with his driving persistence, great enthusiasm, and his athleticism.
By Gracean Ratliff '23
When the basketball student section was lacking school spirit, a mascot was the best solution. The mascot had to be someone with passion, enthusiasm, and zest to fire up the crowd, Moritz Schmoranzer ‘24 was the best option.
“It takes someone who is very special and who has a lot of spirit,” SCA Advisor Susan Wenk said.
When the rivalry game against Roanoke Catholic came around, Schmorantzer went to Upper School Director Stephen Belderes, and told him he wanted to wear the Raider costume.
While the game went on, he stayed in the costume the whole time, bringing spirit and energy to the student section. During half time, the Celtics mascot came out challenging Schmoranzer to a brawl. After a hard fought battle, Schmorantzer was declared the winner. Despite the outcome of the game, he kept the student section pumped up the whole time.
“He gave us so much extra spirit for a very tough game,” Wenk said. “He kept us happy in his costume.”
Moritz “Schmo” Schmoranzer is much more than the man behind the mask. All the way from Bavaria, Germany, Schmo came to the United States to pursue his future in football. Through Gridiron Imports, an organization that helps European athletes come to America to play football; Schmo is able to grow further in his football career.
After a thorough search for the right program, North Cross was the perfect fit. “It sounded like a good school and Coach A is a legend at recruiting,” Schmo said. “[My parents] supported me in every given and thinkable aspect there is, school, football and normal life.”
After a hard goodbye, he and some of his new teammates were ready for their new American life. “Hannes, Luca and I coordinated it so we would be on the same flight together,” Schmo said.
Despite the looks of him, being 6’4 and 220 pounds, Schmo only has less than four years of football experience.
“I started playing flag football first,” Schmo said. “My team had tackle too, but the games were only played with nine people, so you can’t really consider it tackle football.”
Being a natural born athlete, only playing for less than four years isn’t even a factor for talent anymore.
“He’s a really good football player,” Kam Johnson ‘24 said. “He’s really athletic, tall, lengthy and he moves well for his size.”
Competitive high school football is an extreme change from flag football. “It’s like everything times 10,” Schmo said.
After a month of training in the U.S. to prepare for the season, Schmo was eager to get out on the field for the first time.
“I actually came here to play offense as a receiver,” Schmo said, “but ended up playing linebacker on defense.”
Even with a change in position, Schmo still had the talent to be a starter in his first year of high school football.
With a change from flag football to real high school football, the high school life and academics were also a big change. Coming from a country where high school football doesn’t exist, it was a pleasant surprise to him to have practices right after school and on campus. Another big change is the academics.
“The school system is different. In Germany it’s harder,” Schmo said. “Here on tests and quizzes, you have a lot of multiple-choice questions, but in Germany, we only have short answer questions. So you have to know something, you can’t just guess. You have to learn in detail.”
In Germany, it is very common for students to learn English at a very young age. For Schmo, he has been picking it up since the third grade.
“I mostly taught it myself, like through Vines or Youtube videos,” Schmo said. However, English is a lot harder when surrounded by people who speak it everyday. “It was easier to speak in Germany,” Schmo said. “When I first got here it was hard to speak, but now it’s normal for me.”
Schmo, along with many other international athletes here, decided to reclass. “You can reclass in Germany, but it’s more of an American thing for sports,” Schmo said. “In Germany, when you reclass it’s usually for poor academics, but here it’s so normal and everyone knows it’s for athletics.”
To have an extra year of improvements, college recruitments, and possible state championships, he is excited to be a part of the sophomore class. “[I’m excited] for one more year of high school,” Schmo said, “but mostly to have another year to play football.””
Other than the fact that he is towering over almost everyone in the school, Schmo has the biggest smile ever to make him stand out from the rest.
“I’m just always smiling,” Schmo said. “I like it. I got my smile from my dad.”
People compliment his smile.
“He’s a nice guy, he’s always smiling,’’ Wenk said. “I’ve never seen him not smile.”
Johnson ‘24 said, “Everytime you see him he has a smile on his face.”
Even varsity football coach, football coach Stephen Alexander said, “I respect that even when he’s frustrated or things are going his way, you can always get a big smile at him and his attitude remains positive.”
His positivity from his infectious smile affects everyone on the field.
“Schmo has a great personality on and off the field,”Alexander said. “He is a gregarious guy and fits in with most social groups which makes him a great teammate off the field.”
His energy radiates to his teammates as well.
“He’s always in a good mood,” said Johnson. He’s just a fun person to be around” .
“Schmo is just the dude that brings great energy every time we step on the field. It doesn’t matter if it’s just practice if it’s raining or if it’s a game,” Iver Haughbotn ‘23 said. “He’s always serious about his work, but he’s also a great teammate to be around, cause he brings a lot of energy to the field.”
One of his closest teammates from Austria, Moritz “Lil Mo” Mittendorfer ‘24, said “[Playing with him is] really fun because sometimes he makes some weird mistakes and our coach yells at him and he goes “SCHMOOOO” which is really funny.”
Adapting to American culture wasn’t the whole thing he had to adapt to, being called “Schmo” was a big change too. Started by Coach Alexander to not mix up him and Lil’ Mo,the name “Schmo” was born. “[Lil’ Mo] was the first one here in America, so he got the name Moritz,” Schmo said. Back home he was just referred to as Moritz, but from his and Lil Mo’s size difference he said
“In the beginning, I was Big Mo or Big Schmo, but in the end, it was just Schmo, because of my last name.”
His life in the dorms is home away from home.
“I have met a lot of new friends with different backgrounds and ethnicities,” Schmo said. He is roommates with a fellow German, Hannes Hammer ‘23. “Life with Hannes is pretty quiet, we respect each other. During study hall we talk about football sometimes and he gives me recruiting tips,” Schmo said.
However, his first friend here was Lil’ Mo.
“We’ve gotten pretty close since then since we are the only sophomores that speak German,” Lil Mo said. His room is right down the hall from Iver and Lil’ Mo and spends a lot of time there.
“I really like life at the dorms because you have your closest friends right down the hall,” Schmo said.
So far, Schmo’s experience here has been very good. With a lot of adjustments to life, school, and sports; he is making it by very well. He plans to spend the rest of his high school years here to pursue his football career. Even without his real family in the same house as him, his dorm friends and other friends here have become that for him.
by Henry Schumm ' 25 and Ryan Thomas '25
Israeli football recruits Omri Niv and Boaz Atia come to the USA to play football in high school.
Boaz and Omri knew each other in Israel, but they were not very close friends. They became better friends when they found out that they were coming to North Cross together. In Israel, they went to separate schools and lived about 30 minutes away.
“There are no school sports teams; if you want to play a sport, you have to join a private club,” Boaz said.
Omri and Boaz were on the same club team. In Israel, football is not a very popular sport, and there isn’t much competition. In all of Israel, there may be fewer than 18 football teams. They decided to play football in the USA because they wanted to get better and potentially take their football careers much further.
In Israel, their coach helped them come to the USA by the organization Podyum Preps, which take European student-athletes and helps them apply them to different boarding schools all over the USA.
Both of the boys have a goal to make D1 for college football. If not, they will return to Israel and join the military.
The boys have been playing football for most of their life. Before a couple of years ago, they had no option to play on a team. They have been working very hard on the field and in the gym to prepare for the football season. The Raiders made it to the finals and had a very successful season. As winter approaches they continue to train indoors, to stay fit for the next season.
Omri and Boaz were the only two freshman on the football team this year.
“They were very independent and alone is the sense of them being the only ones [as freshmen]” said Coach Alexander. “Boaz has a big, unmistakable smile and Omri is a very curious kid who asks too many questions.”
By Haley Vu '23
Flavia Daniels made her mark in the Raiders’ first season of indoor track by winning the VISAA high jump, placing second in the 55 hurdles and leaping to third in the high jump despite having no place to practice her jumps.
“It was a great experience, because the level of competition was exceptionally strong and the whole team did really good,” Daniels said in an email interview.
When Daniels arrived, she hoped to make the most of her talent on the track, but she was quickly recruited to run cross country in the fall, compete in the indoor track season, while also playing for the girls basketball team.
Soon she will get to realize her initial goal of running track during the spring season.
“I started when I was 11, and I have never stopped,” she said. She realized after joining many sports teams that track and field was her passion. “Most of the time, I feel fast and that no one can stop me.”
Her favorite sport is track and field. She can run 400 meters with a fastest time of 63 seconds from last year. One of her favorite field events is high jump, which was 4’5” when she won a championship in Germany twice for her age group, which brings her a lot of happiness and pride.
Daniels chose this sport because it is her passion and enjoys and uses her 6-foot height and a lot of practice to show people her talent.
Daniels was born and raised in Gengenbach, Germany, then moved to Roanoke to attend NCS and she has not decided if she will continue and go to college here.
“I decided to choose North Cross because an organization informed me about North Cross,” Daniels said, “and when I had an interview which gave me a great feeling, I felt really like a part of the North Cross family from the get go.”
Her grandpa was an Olympics trainer for the javelin throw (he trained Christina Obergföll and Johannes Vetter, who were world champions). He inspired her by showing that she will one day achieve something big in her life through pure hard work, grit and determination; she uses this to fuel her passion to create a name for herself.
Daniels also said that she is “a very determined person,” so she “started running for track and field” and then told herself “that I want to achieve something in the future.”
She uses this as motivation and inspiration so that it can push her to achieve better.
Daniels appreciates being part of a team, Daniels believes “that they all do a great job and they are all very good at running, being helpful and great teammates.”
She explained what motivates her.
“I always think about the reason I am here,” Daniels said. “And also I have a very awesome coach Mr. Dickenson who is serious, kind, motivational, hardworking, and a mindful person. He pushes us to be our best and leads us to be the best team we can be.”
This just shows how passionate and determined Daniels is to succeed and make her family proud.
Beyond track and field, Daniels is ambitious. “In the future I want to be famous,” Daniels said with humor, “a rich and a cool person.”
For now, she realized fame on a smaller scale -- as a member of the Homecoming Court.
Daniels has made a big impact on her teammates, especially since she and Kerrigan Chaney ‘24 are the only girls on the Indoor Track team.
”Without Flavia, I would be the only girl on the varsity indoor track team,” Chaney said. “It’s nice to have another girl on the team to talk and relate to. She makes me feel more included and comfortable because she’s such a nice person. She always comes up to me and talks to me.”
Going into the spring track season, Daniels can be confident based on her success that she will be able to compete against competition from larger private and public schools.
“The standards to qualify for the meet were high, and it was an amazing showcase of talent,” Daniels said. “Although, it was very . . . stressful because all my events were right after each other, so I had no break for hours, but my coach was always there to help and give advice which released the stress.”
By Hania Raza '24
Not many people can say they have traveled around the world by the age of 15.
Though they spent half of their childhood living in the United States, Konur Onufer ‘24 and Isabella Onufer ‘24 moved around the world throughout their early years to countries including China, Nigeria, Cuba and Barbados.
Their mother, who is a former diplomat, traveled for her job, so the twins were able to experience living in many different countries. These Global Studies scholars recently signed up for National High School Model United Nations (MUN), a tradition since 2013 for the school. North Cross has attended eight HarvardMUNs, six IvyLeagueMUNCs (Penn), and one PrincetonMUNC.
Last year, the school did not attend a conference because of COVID-19, but it is starting back up again to open new opportunities for the high school students. This year, North Cross will attend Model UN in New York City, which will take place in New York Hilton Midtown.
This program allows students to travel across the country and meet other students from all over the nation to discuss major global issues. Each accepted school is assigned a country, and students involved must research about and be prepared to discuss topics from their country’s point of view. Students role play as delegates on specific committees in the United Nations (UN) from their assigned country.
After submitting their final committee decisions this week to the Model UN faculty advisors, Hannah Ewing and Ryan DeMarco, all of the students are waiting eagerly for their committee assignments. When asked about what committees he hopes to be on, Konur said “The Trade and Development committee. That one really interested me, I liked that one a lot. I was also interested in the Group of 20 committee as well as the Food and Agriculture.”
Ewing explained some of the benefits for the students attending Model UN. “I think one of the first benefits is just getting to meet other students who are interested in the same thing as them. It’s always a good thing to have access to people from different walks of life,” Ewing said. “It’s so important for students to be aware of global issues, because we’re all people in the world, we need to know about things that affect us.”
Along with being involved in Model UN, both Konur and Isabella are in the Global Studies program and take some classes focusing on World History, and their teachers recognize them as students who stand out in class.
Dr. Daniel Hood, who teaches AP World History, expressed that Isabella “has a depth of experience and foreknowledge that helps her to explain things to her classmates in simpler terms.”
Konur also takes the Science, Arts, Religion and Technology elective taught by Ewing. “He’s amazing. He has such an inquisitive mind that keeps everyone on their toes, which is really good,” Ewing said. “He makes me question how much I know about the things I’m teaching him. Whenever I’m prepping a class, I always stop and think ‘What questions might Konur ask?’”
This year is the first year North Cross has received such an influential country assignment, China. Though this opportunity allows more students to get involved with a total of 17 committees to fill, it also puts a lot of weight on the delegates. “Well I think that being assigned to a big country certainly puts a certain amount of pressure,” Konur said, “and I’m very surprised that a small school like North Cross managed to get China. I think that’s really cool, and I think that we can probably rise to the challenge pretty well.”
Ewing expressed that some topics are difficult to talk about from the perspective of China, but overall, it is a very good opportunity. “It also gives us the chance to take more students, which wouldn’t be the case if we had such a small country, like that we’ve had previously,” said Ewing. “It does put pressure, and obviously, there are some topics that are specifically difficult for China to talk about, as our country, so that’ll be a challenge, but I think, with the right support, we’ll manage.”
Attilio Ciccozzi ‘24, an advanced Graphic Design student, shows his skill in the art through many projects.
“It [Graphic Design] combines my love of art and computers. What’s there not to like?” Ciccozzi said.
Ciccozzi is currently in his second year of Graphic Design. Throughout his two years of the class, he’s done many projects on the program Adobe Illustrator. In the Graphic Design I class, Ciccozzi learned the basic principles of graphic design and did several different projects, including travel posters and lego portraits. This year, he’s been heavily focused on creating a poster for North Cross’s production of the musical Frozen Jr.
“My favorite project throughout all of graphic design so far would probably be creating advertisements, product packaging, etc. for fictional candy businesses that we came up with,” said Ciccozzi.
While the projects may be entertaining to take part in, there are some difficulties when it comes to mastering the art of graphic design.
“In my opinion,” Ciccozzi said, “the most difficult part of the class is using the software, specifically Adobe Illustrator. It’s very different to drawing with traditional writing utensils and can sometimes be frustrating to use. If you do manage to figure out its nuances, designing in Adobe Illustrator can be very rewarding.”
The idea of creating art via computers has caused an enormous shift in the world. Instead of having to use paint or pencils, restarting your work if you ever mess up, artists today are able to make a portrait and fix it until they see it to be perfect. This new technology has created a whole new variety of careers for those interested in expressing themselves through art.
“Graphic design makes modifying and experimenting with whatever you're working on a lot easier,” said Ciccozzi. “Unlike paintings, sketches, etc., you can change things in your project and change them back if you do not like them with the click of a button.”
Sarah Sledd, the Graphic Design teacher at North Cross, spoke about her experiences with the young artist.
“Attilio has been in my class for two years,” said Sledd. “He took Graphic Design I last year, and this year he is in Graphic Design II. He also did a summer Graphic Design camp with me a few years ago.”
Ciccozzi is well-acquainted with Sledd’s teachings of Graphic Design, and Sledd thinks very highly of him and his efforts.
“Attilio always works hard and gives his best efforts, and he consistently produces high quality design pieces,” said Sledd. “He is reliable and consistent and ready to take on any design challenge. He is also not afraid to try out different design techniques or to scrap things that aren’t working and start fresh. He has a great eye for design and is able to use the tools and techniques to produce the vision in his head for what he wants his piece to look like.”
When commenting on one of her favorite projects from Ciccozzi—a travel poster he created last year of the Bahai Lotus Temple in New Delhi, India—Sledd states: “Everything about it is impressive - the balance of the composition, the color scheme, the craftsmanship; it’s a model piece and one I now use as an example.”
Another work of Ciccozzi that Sledd says is one of her favorites is when he created and promoted a candy called “Atomic Bomb” candies. “Again,” Sledd said, “his ability to conceptualize and visualize an abstract idea shined here, and he created an excellent branding package complete with a logo, letterhead, business card, packaging and store mock-ups.”
Ciccozzi recognizes the difficulty that comes with trying to figure out how to work the programs used in Graphic Design, but encourages students not to give up.
“Be patient,” Ciccozzi said. “Like with most skills, the more you practice, the better you’ll get. Embrace constructive criticism to improve your graphic design ability.”