The Coast News Group
Five Carlsbad High School seniors are soon to graduate after leaving an influential legacy. Pictured from left to right: Aron Zwonziter, Peyton Headlee, Alex Brown, Wyatt Andrews, and Logan Welsh. Photo by Shana Thompson
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CHS standouts leave their mark


CARLSBAD — They represent all different aspects at Carlsbad High School.

From the face and spirit, to journalists to conquering debate, five Lancers will cross the stage on June 14 and take their next steps in life.

The year has been one to remember for the likes of student body president Wyatt Andrews, advocate Alex Brown, speech and debate champ Arin Zwonitzer and CHSTV veterans Peyton Headlee and Logan Welsh.

“We have many great representatives of our school in a variety of areas,” said Principal Bryan Brockett. “These five were standouts in unique ways and to me represent the kind of well-rounded, passionate and community-oriented student leaders that we hope to develop at Carlsbad High School. I am proud that these students are leaving us with the attitude, perspective and skills to make a positive impact on those around them.”

Andrews, 18, led Carlsbad High into the national limelight earlier this year as it was tapped as the “Most Spirited High School” and received $25,000 from Varsity Brands. A picture of Andrews leading the raucous “Loud Crowd,” the Lancers’ formidable cheering section, went national. Andrews is also the deejay, charged with firing up the crowd.

He also was a part of the school’s state championship surf team in addition to his presidential duties, which he said taught him many lessons as he prepares to depart for Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo in the fall. One of those lessons, the hardest he added, was financial management after a deal fell through when a bus company pulled out late to take Lancer seniors to Magic Mountain.

Andrews said he is most proud of the dramatic rise in school spirit, where all groups and types have students have bonded to become the nation’s best.

“When I woke up and we won, I felt like it was a dream,” he added. “Our spirit has grown substantially over the past three years.”

Brown dove deep into the real world of politics and social norms by challenging the school’s dress code. As editor-in-chief of the school’s online newspaper, the Lancer Link, she questioned why the school needed a dress code.

In addressing the Carlsbad Unified School District board of trustees in September 2017, Brown said the code targets girls more than boys and did nothing to address the real issue of sexual harassment. Brown suggested a dress “culture,” which allows students to dress in school-appropriate attire without being targeted for a visible bra strap or the length of a short dress or skirt.

She started a petition, which currently has more than 1,000 signatures in support, which also has led to the implementation of sexual harassment education for all students. The school also held its first Sexual Harassment Week earlier this year.

Brown, who joined the Lancer Link on a whim, will continue her journalistic path at Emerson College in Boston.

“I think that’s the big problem with it, is because it is so normalized and people don’t talk about it,” Brown said of sexual harassment in high school. “The way they teach the dress code is this is how you are going to dress in the future. We should have the same mindset when it comes to sexual harassment. We should teach them not to say certain things or do certain things because that’s how they are going to act in the future.”

Zwonitzer, meanwhile, is an articulate, driven student who, along with teammate Julia Read, bested some of the state’s top debaters to win the Public Forum state championship.

The Northwestern-bound 18-year-old, who celebrated her birthday on June 6, began high school with an eye on drama and acting. However, it was “almost fated” for her to find and embrace speech and debate and she was named co-president of the team her senior year.

Thanks, in part, to her leadership and skills, Carlsbad High School is the only public school speech and debate team ranked in the state’s top 10.

Zwonitzer and Read’s state-winning debate centered on the H1B visa program for skilled foreign workers. It’s a been a hot topic in political circles, but the duo won its speech after countless hours of research and reading between 100 and 200 articles, academic journals and documents and compiling 30 pages of rebuttals.

“The mental preparation will be helpful for college,” Zwonitzer said. “We are a self-run team and I have a lot of pride in that.”

Headlee’s high school career didn’t start exactly how she planned, but it ended as her being named of three national high school broadcasters of the year from the Student TV Network. Upon enrolling at Carlsbad High as a freshman, she was wait listed for the renowned CHSTV program, but since has climbed the ranks and was the first student to become an executive producer as a junior.

Additionally, she joined ASB becoming the social media commissioner. The 17-year-old’s next stop is the University of Missouri and its nationally recognized journalism program. She is excited because the school owns the local NBC affiliate in Columbia, Missouri, where she plans to sharpen her skills.

However, one of her most prized clubs is Best Buddies, where students are paired with special education students who meet on a weekly basis. Headlee said the typical students are required to hang out with their buddy outside of school as well, going to the movies or Legoland plus throwing Halloween parties and a prom.

She said her sister encouraged her to join Best Buddies. Headlee said the program is designed to ensure the special students are incorporated and feel accepted into campus life.

“The buddies get so excited to see their friends and it creates a long friendship,” Headlee said. “We have a lot activities … and it integrates them a lot.”

Finally, Welsh is a self-described “techie” with a passion for the technological aspects of journalism and film. Like Headlee, he is part of CHSTV, but he also completed the school’s Film Academy, where students learn the basics of film production, reading, writing and special effects.

The 18-year-old, who is headed to Chapman University, is also a thinker, using his curiosity and forward-thinking ability to maximize Carlsbad High’s tech. One issue was in CHSTV where files where not shared through computers, but rather by saving to a thumb drive and uploaded again to another machine.

Welsh said he came up with getting the standalone computers to “talk to each other” over the network, thus saving time and creating better efficiency for the program. He also worked on technical aspects of the Lancers’ live stream, through the CHSTV website, for big sporting events.

As for film, he was part of a crew who produced a “Star Wars”-themed film. He said the daunting part was going through the footage frame-by-frame to add the special effects needed to complete the project.

“This year my focus has been to use the technology we got to the fullest extent we can,” Welsh said.