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Second Annual Chili Cook-off Huge Success for Justin’s House
Story by Melissa McKenzie

The smell of slow-simmered meats, spices, vegetables and beans wafted through the air as 13 teams vied for the chili king title at the Second Annual Justin’s House Chili Cook-off on April 23.

Held at Santa Clara’s Elk’s Lodge, the event brought together fans of cooking and chili fanatics for a good cause: to support Justin’s House, a local non-profit that empowers kids to choose a life unencumbered by addiction.

Founder Kelly Villarreal, whose late husband Justin Bell began his battle with alcoholism long before he was old enough to drink, started the organization in his memory. Bell had always told Villarreal that if he had a place to go that could teach him skills or somewhere to help him through tough times, he may have remained sober. It is a statement that stuck with Villarreal and a driving force behind her dedication to the cause.

Since Justin’s House began, one thing has remained clear; Bell and Villarreal have touched more lives than either ever knew, with Villarreal’s former Wilcox High School students consistently supporting Justin’s House and Bell’s former co-workers and friends–including his sponsor Gary Ceglar–being part of his legacy.

One of Bell’s former co-workers, Brad Letak, along with his cooking partner, Sean Harvey, both of Livermore, missed the 2016 event but entered this year’s cook off as H & L Chili Co. The pair’s offering, full of layered flavors, took the top prize–$500–from the judges: Chef-Owner of Palo Alto’s Thyme restaurant Winston Haddaway, Executive Chef of Sysco Foods Jay Marshall, Executive Chef at Guckenheimer Dylan France and Santa Clara Unified School District Board Member Andy Ratermann...

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Black & Blue Olympics Makes a Comeback
Story by Andrew Bensch
Photos by Wilcox High School Junior Christopher Tran

Black & Blue Olympics Makes a Comeback

After a one-year hiatus, the Black & Blue Olympics between Wilcox and Santa Clara High schools returned to the Youth Activity Center. Fortunately, the event was a friendly enough rivalry that nobody ended up black and blue other than the artificial black and blue face paint on the respective sides of the gym.

The night started off with a jaw-dropping...

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Early Bird Gets the Worm at City-Wide Garage Sale
By Andrew Bensch

Early Bird Gets the Worm at City-Wide Garage Sale

If you were cruising around the Santa Clara neighborhoods on Saturday you may have noticed a number of garage sales. That is because this year the City is organizing two city-wide garage sales. The second one in August is during the time of year neighbors are more familiar with, as this past Saturday’s April date snuck up on some folks...

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Missing Man Reunited With Family
By Alissa Reyes

Missing Man Reunited With Family

Bobby O’Leary, a 21-year-old Santa Clara man, was found safe. He went missing on April 11 and prompted mass searches by local law enforcement, family and community members...

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Anti-Racism Activist Tim Wise Brings Lessons of White Privilege to Mission College
Story and photos by Diane Andrews

Anti-Racism Activist Tim Wise Brings Lessons of White Privilege to Mission College

A prolific writer and forceful speaker of renown, Tim Wise, a native son of Tennessee, brought his talk about historically-rooted, white privilege to Mission College, 3000 Mission College Blvd., Santa Clara, on April 19. The Anti-racism activist, whose appearance was sponsored by the Office of Student Equity and Success, spoke to a receptive and diverse audience of students, faculty and administrators...

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Bruins’ Kennedy Mows Down Pioneers
By: Andrew Bensch

Bruins’ Kennedy Mows Down Pioneers

Oftentimes in sports we hear about teams winning ugly. Tuesday night at Washington Park was not one of those times. The Santa Clara Bruins (6-4) beat the Cupertino Pioneers (6-4) 3-0 on the strength of a complete-game, 1-hitter performance by starting pitcher Tyler Kennedy. It doesn’t get much prettier than that. Not only did Kennedy pitch a beautiful game, but he was backed by tremendous defense and perfectly executed small ball to go along with some timely hits.

“Huge win, team win, no errors,” commented Bruins Head Coach Sean Grizzle. “We threw strikes, we executed a squeeze. We did all the little things to make it happen. Huge team win.”

Kennedy threw lots of strikes for the Bruins. He issued just one walk while striking out eight Pioneers in seven innings...

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JV Bruins Baseball Learn Valuable Lessons in Victory
By Andrew Bensch

JV Bruins Baseball Learn Valuable Lessons in Victory

On a beautiful Thursday afternoon, the Santa Clara Bruins’ frosh-soph (junior varsity) baseball squad (8-1) didn’t exactly paint a Picasso. But despite only one hard hit ball through the first five innings (a rocket double by sophomore Noah Dembowski) and some free passes given up by starting pitcher Elias Verdusco, the Bruins still managed to beat Cupertino (4-4) by a 4-1 final.

Verdusco didn’t have his best stuff by any stretch, but he showed a calm composure on the mound worthy of a professional, much less a high school sophomore. After the first batter of the game reached on an eight-pitch walk, Verdusco caught him stealing with a pickoff throw to first base. It was a big out as Verdusco walked another batter later in the inning before retiring the side without allowing a run.

A similar situation occurred in the top of the fifth. When a runner at first base took off far too early, Bruins infielders yelled “Step off! Step off!” Verdusco astutely stepped...

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Meet Raina Telgemeier and Faith Erin Hicks: Trailblazers in the Comics Industry
By Cynthia Cheng

Meet Raina Telgemeier and Faith Erin Hicks: Trailblazers in the Comics Industry

On April 5, about 175 people gathered inside Central Park Library’s Redwood Room to meet award winning graphic novel creators Raina Telgemeier and Faith Erin Hicks. The two cartoonists chatted about their careers creating novel-length comic books for young audiences.

After remembering how they met at a convention in Toronto 10 years ago, Telgemeier and Hicks also reflected on the landscape of the comics industry in years past and what was behind their motivation to become professional cartoonists.

“As a teenager, I felt there weren’t any comics being made for me as a teen girl reader; I started writing and drawing comics because I wanted to make the kind of comics that I wanted to read,” said Hicks, who later won an Eisner Award (the comics industry’s equivalent of an Oscar) for her book “The Adventures of Superhero Girl...”

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Peterson Middle School Student Shines Bright at State Competition for National Geographic Bee
By Cynthia Cheng

Peterson Middle School Student Shines Bright at State Competition for National Geographic Bee

After reading about the great monuments in Egypt, Shreyan Mitra, 11, decided he would like to visit there someday. Another place worth visiting for Mitra is Iceland, where this sixth grader learned of the country’s geothermal activity and hidden volcanic vents in the ice cap glaciers. It makes sense that a boy who holds such a keen interest in places around the world would score the high rank of fifth place in California’s National Geographic State Bee, an annual competition that allows qualifying youth from grades four to eight to show their geography smarts.

“I feel happy but I would try to go farther in the future,” said Mitra of his accomplishment. “Geography is like a hobby but it is very engaging. It is different from other hobbies because it is something you can always learn more about with the people and places around you...”

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