A February for the Record Books


by Claire Johnson, senior writing coach

This past Wednesday (the day we had school called off yet again), we also broke a record. This record was for snow. Yes, snow. Whether you love it or you hate it – we were part of a record breaking February in terms of snowfall. Previously, in 1956, a record was set for the most inches of snow in Minnesota in the month of February at 25.6 inches. However, on Wednesday, February 12th,  when Minneapolis declared a snow emergency, we reached 31.5 inches by 6 p.m., officially setting a new record for the snowiest February in the Twin Cities. It also makes this among the top 10 snowiest months in Twin Cities history. And since then it still keeps snowing!! This past weekend we accumulated another 2 inches and looking ahead, have potential for more snow in the forecast before the month is over.

Although all of this snow has made the roads a nightmare to drive in (and I may have shed a few tears driving home on icy roads), I am personally not complaining. School getting called off has given me, and all the other students, extra time to relax and finish assignments. Speaking of school closings, Minnetonka have also hit a record of school cancellations and unplanned late starts this year. Most years we have 0-2, but this year already we have had over 5. Obviously Minnetonka has a reputation for not cancelling school often, but even Dr. Peterson has to admit that’s a good record.

Sometimes you can get bored and trapped at home from the cold weather or with the snow blocking you in your driveway. However, I recommend not letting this weather deter from having fun outdoors. Instead of staying inside glued to a screen or spending all your time doing homework – take a break and go enjoy the snow outside. Build a snowman or other creation, throw some snowballs at your sibling, grab some sleds and hit the hills, or go to the bigger slopes to try skiing or snowboarding. Dust off the old sleds in the garage, gather a group of friends, and hit the hills. In my opinion, there is nothing is better than procrastinating your english essay for a couple more hours in order to feel like a five year old again.


(I mean really, look at how much fun he is having)

So now I say congratulations to Minnesota for breaking another record and to all of you who were around to live through it. And remember to be careful if we keep getting extreme winter weather, but more importantly enjoy it while it lasts!


The Mug Brownie You Need in Your Life

By Hailey Ens, sophomore writing coach


We are all at that time in the school year, (and have probably been there for a while) where we need a bit of a pick me up.  Course work is picking up, it’s cold and dreary outside, and you might be in need of a warm, relieving treat. Maybe you’re craving brownies but you know that by the time you make them, bake them, clean up, struggle through your homework, you’re going to be eating those brownies at 1am.


Look no further!  This simple and delicious recipe for a brownie in a mug takes up to 10 minutes from start to finish and will satisfy all of your cravings.  Trust me, I’ve probably tried at least 25 different mug cakes/brownies, but once I found this one, I’ve never gone back!



  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • 2 tablespoons of sugar
  • 1 firmly packed tablespoon of light brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch of kosher salt
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 4 tablespoons of flour
  • 1 tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons of chocolate chunks/chips (or more if you please…)



  1. Melt butter in a microwave safe mug, do not let the butter boil
  2. Add white/brown sugars, vanilla, and salt to melted butter and stir
  3. Stir in the egg yolk (no egg white)
  4. Add flour and cocoa powder and stir until combined, don’t overmix or else it will be more like cake than a brownie
  5. Mix in chocolate chunks/chips
  6. Cook in the microwave for around 45 seconds, times may vary depending on your microwave so make sure it doesn’t overcook
  7. Enjoy as is or with whipped cream and/or ice cream


There you have it, a super easy and yummy brownie in a mug that you’ll never have to worry about sharing!  So next time you’re taking a 10 minute study break, whip up this amazing treat to keep you warm and motivated!


This recipe was created by Melissa from the No.2 Pencil food blog so make sure to check out her site for more incredibly delicious ideas!


February Guest Post: A Distant Love II

By Priscilla Trinh, MHS ‘18 alumna and former writing coach, featuring Maurice “Mo” Gemme and Justine Briseno


Hello again, Writing It Out patrons! I am glad to be featured in this month’s guest post, and send thanks on behalf of my foster-grandfather. This marks the one year anniversary of a previous post titled A Distant Love. Please reference it here, in order to better understand this one. Last February, I inquired into my Pepère’s reason for starting a memoir. The blog post on his story led to unexpected surprises, which are detailed below in a subsequent letter from my foster grandfather responding to A Distant Love:

Dear Priscilla,

Hi. I wanted to thank you for introducing me to a blog and asking me to be part of your high school’s.

It’s great that you are beginning a new chapter in your life as a college undergrad.

My story you helped with gave me a wonderful surprise gift in that I was able to reunite with my howitzer battery from Vietnam, and an old friend who served with me in radio communications. After your blog was sent, a woman named Justine made contact with me. She said that her father served with me at our K-4-12 howitzer battery in central Vietnam. WOW! I’ve tried to find our outfit for years with no success. Not knowing much about how to search didn’t help.

She said there was a reunion of our old outfit coming up in Indianapolis in July 2018. WOW!! again. I made contact with the “KILO-4th battalion 12th Marine regiment association” and finallyー with some trepidation, excitement, apprehension, nervousness, and anxiety ー was going to see some guys from our old outfit.

Justine got me in contact with her father, Jesus, who lives in North Carolina. We were on our way. On our way to the reunion, we visited the WWI memorial ー “the war to end all wars,” and the International Speedway. It was another great trip to remember.

I had photos of some of the guys I knew “in country” (as we called it then), but couldn’t
remember anyone’s name. There was one photo I thought could be Jesus, so I brought it along. It was him! He was so happy to get it.

My memory fades after all these years. Jesus reminded me that we had 109 MM howitzers in our battery, not 108 MM’s (I was in 108 in my stateside battery), but then I reminded him that it was actor Robert Mitchum who visited our outfit, not Charlton Heston. The photo of R.M. and I helped. It was wonderful to share our memories.

To our surprise, our keynote speaker was 97 year old Ken Nickerson. Being Marines, of course, our emblem is the raising of the American flag on Iwo Jima. Ken is one of only two men still living who were there to see our guys raise the flag on Mt. Suribachi, Iwo Jima.

On the evening of the third day of our reunion, we all gathered at an Italian restaurant with our guest of honor and his family. After the meal, one of our group asked the band playing if we could use the mic and sing the Marine Corps Hymn. There were about 35 to 40 of us, which made up about one third of the restaurant’s patrons. It was awesome to see how many in the restaurant knew the words to sing along with gusto.
The next morning Jesus and I said our so longs, and planned to meet at our reunion next year in Albuquerque.

Love always,



It never ceases to amaze me that an obscure high school blog post, not even a Facebook post, led to all this. I’m very happy to have helped my grandfather reunite with his war buddies, but most goes to Justine, whose persistence made all of this possible.

Justine says, “my search was inspired by a couple of events, but I guess to put it in one word: Grief.” Through familial loss, she was propelled to help her father cope by reapproaching a time rarely mentioned ー his time in Vietnam. Like my grandfather, Jesus’s memory had faded but he recalled two names, one of them being “Frenchy.” This turned out to be my grandfather. From there, Justine made it her “personal mission to find Frenchy first and then see if he would remember more.” After scouring pages associated Kilo 4th Battalion 12th Platoon, she embarked on numerous emails dialogues, “joined several Facebook groups for Vietnam veterans and nervously posted on each page asking if there were any guys in kilo 4/12 willing to talk.”

From there, she found new leads on a person named “Mo,” had more email exchanges to arrive at “Maurice” with a different last name, and was about ready to give up before stumbling across Writing It Out and last February’s post. Through some more coordination with the reunion association and persuasion, Justine finally accomplished her mission by convincing her father to attend the reunion as a solo mission and the rest is history.

I was shouting and exclaiming at my computer as this whole story unfolded in my inbox. This entire journey, whether or not it directly included me, has only further entrenched my belief in the power of narrative, whatever the medium— memoir, letter, phone call, Facebook post, and even obscure little blog posts.


Pepère and a tired Priscilla at her graduation party|| Pepère (R) shaking hands with Robert Mitchum (L) (1950s noir film actor, director, author, poet, composer, and singer) in Vietnam,  photo credit to Jesus.

Valentine’s Day: The Day We Love to Hate


By Emil Liden, sophomore writing coach

It was just another trip to Target, and I had to grab the paper towels that my mom asked me for. As I made my way to the back of the store, I had that familiar feeling: the urge to check out the seasonal items that intrigued every customer during every holiday. But this time was different, and it made my heart break. There they were, all wrapped up in ribbons with hearts on the packaging. The tint of red that makes you fall in love with just the look and yet cry because you know that there’s nobody that you can buy it for. Yep, it’s Valentine’s Day… again.

It’s no surprise that according multiple online polls, February is voted the worst month of the year. February has that one day of the year that we dread because we have no one to share it with. And this is exactly the problem with this dreadful and overpriced holiday that, like many, has been used as a power tool by millions of companies to increase revenue by making you buy unnecessary things that will end up in the trash a week later. There is an expectation that you MUST be in a relationship with someone. If you’re not, you will constantly be reminded by the thousands of chocolates that flood the store shelves.

Yes, the “Singles” population of America has it rough on this day. The constant reminder of this everlasting loneliness drains the mind and the heart. But if you thought that only single people had it bad, people in a relationship are in for a real treat. According to an article from bustle.com, one of the top five days of the year for relationships to end is, you guessed it: Valentine’s Day.

*Insert crying GIF here*

Oh grow up, you don’t need a crying GIF.

Many couples end their relationship on this day because of the insane amount of pressure that is exerted upon them to buy the perfect gifts and to be the perfect boyfriend or girlfriend. Not only is there an expectation for singles to meet someone, but also for couples to be the most romantic, to buy the biggest teddy bear in the store, and the box with the most chocolates. And this is exactly how Valentine’s Day has built up its infamous reputation.

So, what is the takeaway? DON’T TAKE VALENTINE’S DAY SO SERIOUSLY.

Sure it’s fun to buy chocolates for a friend or maybe even your crush, but do not make this the most important day of the year. It is not the end of the world if you are single on Valentine’s Day. On the contrary, enjoy it! Valentine’s Day should be a day of fun, not stressing over finding your one true love. So buy yourself a box of chocolates and eat it on the couch while you watch reruns of The Office.

And remember to love yourself too. It’s good for ya. ❤

“Thanks for Everything Bagel Boy!”


by Erin Brose, sophomore writing coach

It’s astonishing how quickly free food can turn a high school student’s day around. In the halls of Minnetonka High School, passing a joyful student with a bagel in hand is no rare occasion. For this, we thank Minnetonka’s very own junior, Alec Gougebas, more formally known as Bagel Boy. Amidst the usual passing time rush, while you may be headed to your next class, Bagel Boy is most likely swarmed by hungry students, juggling overflowing bags of bagels as echoes of “Cinnamon sugar please!” radiate through the halls.

Alec hands out dozens of these rings of chewy, tantalizing goodness from asiago parmesan, to blueberry, cinnamon sugar and so many more. And he does so free of charge in the halls, every day. Alec has given out anywhere from two dozen to two hundred bagels in a single day!

Anyone who brings as much joy as Bagel Boy does to Minnetonka students deserves to be commended, and I thought I could use the blog as a platform to do so. I’d like to put a spotlight on the greatness Bagel Boy has brought for not only our taste buds, but for our environment at school. Bagel Boy is a welcoming friend to those he encounters, and brings light to this school with his generous acts of kindness. So, curious about what it takes to give out such an extreme amount of bagels every day, I asked him a few questions.

How and when did it all start, how did you come to your name “Bagel Boy”?

That’s a great question!  ‘Bagel boy’ started early September, after my good friend Jean-Luc persuaded me to get a job at Bruegger’s Bagels! Put simply, I couldn’t have done any of this without him! (He calls me Bagel Boy, and I call him The Bagel Kingpin!)

And so, after a week of struggling to apply cream cheese and bringing bagels in for my friends, one of them suggested I post about it on Instagram. And so on September 17th, one “TOTALLY FREE, JUST ASK” later, ‘’Bagel Boy” began! As for the name, I can’t remember exactly who coined the term, but it spread quickly! Now people who I’ve never met call me that! …Including my Spanish teacher, I swear I could put ‘Bagel Boy’ as my name and still get a grade back!

What’s your favorite thing about being Bagel Boy/Why do you do what you do?

My favorite thing is the smile that a simple bagel can give someone. It’s a little cheesy but honestly that’s it! I’ve given bagels to teachers, principles, (and most certainly students!) and without fail, everytime, it makes them smile. I do it to spread positivity and make people’s day! I’ve gotten so many thankful messages from people and countless thank-you’s that make doing it worth it, every time! I’ve also met so many incredible people that I can’t list them all!

How do you get such a superfluous amount of bagels?

Oh man, I get asked this by almost everyone I’ve given a bagel to! Let’s see:

Every night at Brueggers, we bag up all the bagels that we don’t sell throughout the day. The ‘Last Nights Bagels’ sit out during the next day and people can buy them for about half price! (Only $3.79!) Depending on the day, not all of our ‘Last Nights’ sell, so at night when we go to do the next day’s ‘Last Nights’ they get thrown out! (The exception to this is Cinnamon Sugar bagels, they get thrown out every night as they stick to the bags!) That’s where I come in! I snag them and distribute them to the stressed and hungry kids at MHS who forgot to eat breakfast!

What is your favorite type of bagel? Cream cheese or no cream cheese?

Wellllll, that’s gotta be Cinnamon Sugar with butter- not a cream cheese but still totally delicious! If I had to actually choose [a type of cream cheese], I’d go with Honey Walnut or strawberry!

What’s the most popular type of bagel you hand out?

Cinnamon Sugar by FAR! I post on my Instagram story when I’ll have Bagels the next day – and people genuinely DM me to reserve them!

What do you like to do in your free time when you are not graciously donating bagels to ravenous high school students?

I’m an amateur Photographer and Videographer! When I’m not doing that, I go biking, hiking, skiing and camping. I also play a ton of video games and watch Netflix when I’m “studying”.

What footprint do you hope to leave on the Minnetonka High School?

I hope I’ll be able to to leave a lasting impact on people, showing what you can do with a little bit of kindness. But who knows, I’m probably overestimating the power of the Bagel!

What’s the best way to reach out to you for a bagel?

I post on my Instagram story (@Alec.Gougebas) the night before I bring in bagels, so shoot me a follow and respond to my story if you’re interested!

Also, if you’re interested in handing out bagels to your classes, hit me up and become a *Certified Dealer!* hold on, that sounds a little.. weird-

Do you have any particularly memorable moments to share from your bagel expeditions?

Lots of cool stories! When I first started, I was worried that the Administration would shut me down, so I tried to get on their good side. I saw Mr. Erickson and asked if he’d be interested in some bagels, and surprisingly he accepted! And brought a few dozen to the teachers lounge!

A trick I pulled with my friends was I’d give them a Pumpernickel bagel and tell them it was a chocolate bagel, (Pumpernickel bagels are dark brown and have a REALLY strong and bitter flavor) they’d take a huge bite, and then look very disgusted, and betrayed!


Thanks Alec! The power of a bagel and a little kindness shall indeed not be underestimated!

So, my friends, I encourage you to ponder what you could do to bring more joy into the halls of the school, or anywhere!