Cherish Every Moment Under the Glowing Lights

Da Vinci Senior Valerie Alden took pride competing at the Summit Championships. Over 500 teams got the National Honor  to compete at the Summit Nationals in Orlando Florida The Summit is an invitational competition only given to the best teams all over the United States. To receive this invitation, hard working cheer teams have to practice diligently for years. The coaches are dedicated to helping the athletes get to where they want to go which is The Summit. University Cheer Force had 7 cheer teams along with 1x world champ team at the Worlds.  

“I was really excited about the 7 teams that went to Summit and the 1 worlds team” said Coach Dwayne

Valerie had some magical moments made with her teammates from University Cheer Force as they hit zero. Her team had no technical errors or deductions. She was amazed when she was on the sideline cheering on other athletes seeing other top cheer teams in the US in one place. As her cheer team was preparing for the performance , there were varsity staff workers talking about her team about to take on the stage

“Going backstage it got darker  hearing the big loud arena I had to prepare mentally and physically, my heart was beating like drums and tears were coming down my cheeks, I went to the side to do my confident power stance two friends taught me and hearing the varsity staff in the background saying  ‘Twisters are about to take the floor.’ I knew I had to go out and do my best”.

Valerie and her cheer team took the summit stage as the spotlights are shining bright on their faces, the crowds cheering and when the routine ended the arena got loud and crazy

Valerie Alden states “It’s the loudest cheering I’ve heard from the audience ever, it was neat that other teams and parents were watching us, the sportsmanship is amazing. All athletes were respectful of each other because all of are the best in the US, I’m so proud of myself”

A History of Hail to the Chief

Who here knows how Hail to the Chief started? As a new student to Da Vinci, I had a lot of questions. To answer these questions, I decided to talk to a few people that seemed knowledgeable. I sat down with teachers Mr. Scott Bell, Ms. Emma Gist and Ms. Nicola Williams so I could understand what this project was all about.

”We started HTTC during the second year at DV,” said Mr. Bell. “It was tiny. The third year we increased its size and scope. We wanted the seniors to have a fun and interesting way to engage in economics and the political process.” The goal of the project was to give students insight as to how elections and politics work. While that goal remains the same, the project has changed a lot since it started. It is no longer the “tiny” project Mr. Bell and his co-teacher, Mr. Holst, originally designed. Mr. Bell said, “I am proud it’s such a long-lasting project that DV.”

Ms. Gist teaches the English side of Political studies and has run the project for four years. “The purpose [is] to give the seniors experience in the political system,” Ms. Gist said. “[It] allows them to play with different political ideas that they may not necessarily agree with. Ultimately, it gives them a better sense of what political ideologies or systems of thought that they DO agree with because they have seen both sides of the argument.” She also gave great advice for sophomores and juniors. She advised, “I think that the sooner that the sophomores and Juniors start paying attention to what’s happening in the campaign, the more fun they will have. I encourage all of the students to be informed voters before a ballot is given to cast a vote in April. When sophomore and juniors do this project as seniors, if they have been involved in the previous years, they will have a better idea of what works and what doesn’t work.”

Nicola Williams is a new staff member to Da Vinci, but not entirely new to the campus. She also completed the project while a senior at Da Vinci. “I was my group’s president. We were called the Reign Party, bringing a monarchy to the United States. ‘We make it reign’ was the slogan. As far as propositions go, we didn’t have a proposition to focus on like they do now. [My party] focused on marriage equality, anti-death penalty, heavy into guns and Ford motor company, and we gave pancakes to all students,” Ms. Williams said.

Like today, getting funding from different PACS was an important part of the project, even in the early years. “Ford was part of an agreement to a PAC,” Ms. Williams recalls. “We always had to incorporate Ford into our videos and advertising.” Her fondest memory, however, was during the delivery of her presidential speech when she rapped part of a Lil’ Wayne song, “ Make it Rain”.

Calling All Underclassmen: Get Involved with HTTC!

For many, Hail to the Chief seems to be a project that’s dominated and ran almost entirely by the seniors. Sophomores and juniors have to vote for their favorite party at the end of the project, but aside from that not many underclassmen really know what they can do to help seniors succeed in the Da Vinci presidential race. However, there are ways some underclassmen are contributing.
Da Vinci’s Intro to Coding class, led by Zach Harju, Terry Toy and Briana DeRobbio, is currently doing a project that could directly impact the various parties participating in Hail to the Chief. As described by Harju, “Students are making blogs or their own websites where they’re acting as journalists following the Hail to the Chief process.” The blogs will contain a variety of different kinds of content about each party. What will make the websites more interesting, according to Harju, is that “blog-posters will have a political slant of their own, so they are not required to stay neutral”. These news sites are being made with, and are aiming to get “underclassmen and non-seniors more involved,” according to Harju, and to impact the relationship between seniors and non-seniors.
Students in Da Vinci’s art classes are also participating in Hail to the Chief in their own way. During the town hall meetings, where the parties meet up and discuss their policies and goals, the art studios draw their interpretations of the different parties and super PACs. These drawings are supposed to symbolize the parties and eventually will be given to each of the parties upon completion of the party.
Some underclassmen have ideas of their own. Luke Demeter-Willison, a junior, suggests, “students could probably help by spreading propaganda in support of parties.” For sophomores and juniors confused about the whole thing, Luke also says, “students could help inform others of policies so they can make better judgements about their votes”. Later senior events such as the town hall meetings will also inform students about each of the parties’ policies more, allowing people to make more conscious decisions with their votes.
Whether they’re in the Intro to Coding class or not, underclassmen will have a variety of ways to support their fellow seniors during their biggest project. If you’re curious to find out more about how to support Hail to the Chief parties, consult senior humanities teachers Gretchen Connors, Brittany Rosenberg or Emma Gist.

HTTC 2018: The Militia

President Isabella Giannetti
Vice President Merlin Yu
Economic Advisor Kaelen Arreola-Bittner
Press Secretary Sarah Ferrell
Campaign Manager Alice Newman

Party Summary

The Militia is a political party full of strong women focused on self-defense and ending injustices throughout the United States. “Self-defense is at the forefront of our party and to convey the message that we’re done tolerating our enemies disregard for their people. We hope to bring our citizens the change that they deserve, free healthcare, public education, and the platform to have a voice and the strength to stand up to toxic masculinity,” said President Isabella Giannetti.


The Militia seeks to keep the currently implemented public school system, however, they plan to redevelop the curriculum to meet the individual needs of students.“Every student in America will have access to quality education that focuses on individual needs, with more than adequate funding to create a safe environment for all students,” said Vice President Merlin Yu. The Militia will also integrate self-defense training into the public school system to reduce the amount sexual assault cases.


The Militia wishes to provide American citizens with free governmental regulated healthcare. They plan to fund this project by increasing income taxes on the one percent as well as large corporations. The Militia also wishes to ban all privatized healthcare, because of the high costs it forces many Americans to pay.


The Militia plans to cut all taxes associated with solar energy while increasing taxes on all non-renewable energy sources such as coal and oil.


Proposition 295K from the Militia will implement a plan to federally fund parents during postpartum care.

HTTC 2018: The After Party

President Hugh Darwent
Vice President Matt Smith
Economic Advisor Connor Melendrez
Press Secretary Aaron Curtin
Campaign Manager Alex Roy

Party Summary

The After Party is an environmentally focused political party with the aim to reduce carbon emissions and reduce trash build up. “ No one likes a messy party, so it’s time that the American streets are cleaned and polished,” said Campaign Manager Alex Roy.

Three core values/issues


The After Party, as individualists, believes that America should focus on its own environment. The After Party will limit military spending to allocate more money to the EPA to better support environmental legislation such as the cap and trade of fossil and natural gas emissions, harsher penalties for littering, and the development of a cleaner waste management system. “ The military wastes resources and is bad for the environment, however with our party’s relocation of funds soon American can be a cleaner place,” said Economic Advisor Connor Melendrez.

Gun Control

The After Party is in support of having any gun available for sale in the United States. “All Americans have the right to own any gun they choose,” said President Hugh Darwent. The After Party also supports stronger background checks.

Civil Liberties

The After Party will not support the current injustices that are taking place in the United States today. “ In our American party everyone is invited,” said Campaign Manager Alex Roy. In particular, the After Party is concerned with women’s and LGBTQIA+ rights


Proposition 1384 from the After Party will reduce the charges for a DUI by replacing the sentencing time with environment cleanup oriented community services. This proposition will remove the jail time associated with a DUI charge, and commission the offender to 50 hours minimum of community service. Proposition 1384 will help clean the American streets as well as save offenders of a DUI thousands of dollars.

HTTC 2018: Pushing Daisies

President: Camilo Rodriguez
Vice President: Ella Gerner
Economic Advisor: Zach Aldas
Press Secretary: Carson Janke
Campaign Manager: Jocelyn Busch

Party’s three core values/issues:
climate change, health care and infrastructure

Party proposition:
“Our party’s proposition is to make a brand new amendment to the constitution that basically makes it a human right to have a clean and safe environment for everybody with every means necessary,” said President Camilo Rodriguez.

“We, the pushing daisies, believe in clean and good environment for everyone so that everyone can live happy and peaceful together. We do not believe in war and we love mother nature. Peace baby stay groovy, we love the environment, we love women respect them” said Rodriguez.

PAC’s funding the party: The Safety Pac and The New Bull Moose Pac.

HTTC 2018: D.C. Daughters

President: Audrey Borba
Vice President: Mia Skaggs
Economic Advisor: Aly Lodigiani
Press Secretary: Sophie Marie
Campaign Manager: Siena Dwyer

Party’s three core values/issues:
Promoting greener energy to save the environment, privatized education and abstinence as the only form of birth control.

Party proposition:
“Proposition 616 will ban all teachings of anything outside of abstinence outside of school for sexual education,” said Economic Advisor Aly Lodigiani.

“So we are very conservative and based heavily in the Christian faith. A lot of what we do is privatizing everything to make the government spend less and make the people pay for what they use rather than having everybody pay for everything even if they don’t use it. We are in it for the money, we are rich kids,” said Aly Lodigiani.

PAC’s funding the party: NRA, American Bankers Association, the Christian Coalition, Federal Chamber of Commerce and Law Keyed Martin. The D.C. Daughters are endorsed by the As Seen On TV Pac and the Macero Pac.

HTTC 2018: The Royal Court

President Ellory Erecius (Crown Prince)
Vice President Lev Turner (Chancellor)
Economic Advisor Daniela Setka (Court Jester)
Press Secretary Irene Abshire (Herald)
Campaign Manager Phoenix Rooks (Captain of the Royal Guard)

Party Summary

The Royal Court is a political party based upon the aesthetic of historical monarchies that existed during the middle ages. The Royal Court plans to provide today’s Americans with the first successful monarchy, free of the errors that led others to crumble. The Royal Court has selected certain attributes of the middle ages that solve certain problems in the United States today, such as the sword and the guillotine. In the eyes of the Royal Court, the past can fix the future.

Three core values/issues

Gun Control
The Royal Court believes in the notion of the second amendment, however they “see no need for civilians to possess large-capacity, high fire-rate weapons, given that they are commonly used in mass shooting scenarios,” said The Royal Court. The Royal Court aims to promote the use of hand to hand combat weapons, such as spears, swords, javelins, etc. The Royal Court also wishes to expand open carry laws for such hand to hand combat weapons.

Foreign Policy

The Royal Court believes that the United States should claim any and all territories that it has saved from destruction or civil war. According to the Royal Court with the new territory, the United States will be able to expand its economy. The Royal Court will take no military action in any state that it isn’t already associated with.

Crime/Criminal Justice

The Royal Court believes that the use of capital punishment should be improved and used throughout the United States. The Royal Court wishes to replace lethal injection with the guillotine. “It (The guillotine) is a cheaper, more effective, and painless way of execution compared to the techniques we use now such as lethal injection,” said Herald Irene Abshire.


Proposition 1347 from the Royal Court will mandate the creation of a governmental agency for the purpose of administering free mandatory vaccines. This proposition will primarily be effective during the flu season. “ The flu is constantly evolving and becoming more and more dangerous, there is room for research for creating vaccines for multiple strains to protect our loyal citizens,” said Herald Irene Abshire.

HTTC 2018: How Teams are Picked

Hail to the Chief is an anomaly when it comes to choosing your group. Normally by Da Vinci standards if you are lucky, you get to write down a few names of people you would want on a piece of paper and you are extremely blessed if you get one or two person on that list. In HTTC on the other hand, seniors get nearly complete control over who is in your group. The only stipulation is you need to have some overlap in Gov/Econ, and/or English.
“I sort of had a set team, I knew who I wanted to be with,” said senior Abby Reina-Guerra. Often times seniors have a general idea of who is going to be in their group and what stances they are leaning towards. Some, however, do not. “We all kind of contributed to the idea. Abby proposed the original camp counselor idea and we all added our own little mix to it,” said senior Sarah Seyk and Vice President of Camp Marcs.
One of the most popular SuperPACs the MaceroPAC came to fruition in a similar way. “Ellie (Dawson), Keevan (McGarvy-Tanenbaum) and I (Nash Labbe-Renaunlt) knew we wanted to be in a SuperPAC […] Then we needed a fourth person, thats when Willow (Jackson) came into the picture as the Treasurer” said senior Nash Labbe-Renault, platform developer of the MaceroPAC.
Another SuperPAC making a splash in the political pool of the Da Vinci electorate is the SafteyPAC, this PAC is comprised on Kyle Gray, Winnie Liao, and Holden Kass. This beginnings of this liberal PAC are shrouded in mystery and drama. “Ah honestly I was going to work with Aly (Lodigiani), and she was going to work with Winnie. When I asked Winnie originally she said no. Then Aly left to go be in DC Daughters so Winnie asked me to with her and Holden quickly joined” said senior Kyle Gray Campaign Specialist and Platform Developer.
With the power to choose your group comes responsibility. Often seniors choose their groups based on friendship, not on who they work well with. In years past, we have seen groups of friends perform well, as well as teams of people who might not seem to fit well together win. The looseness of the team selection process is unique to Hail to the Chief and breeds a sense of comradery not seen in other projects at DV.

HTTC 2018: Camp Marcs

President: Jimmy McGlynn
Vice President: Sarah Seyk
Economic Advisor: Diego Tamayo
Press Secretary: Jenna Meyer
Campaign Manager: Abby Reina-Guerra

Party’s three core values/issues:
Worker’s rights, education and environment.

Party proposition:
“Proposition 84 focuses on workers rights specifically with Unions with the purpose to stop worker exploitation,” said press secretary Jenna Meyer. Proposition 84 makes being in a union membership mandatory in order to give the workers a voice to fight for better working conditions.

Camp Marcs believes in equality and equal outcome for all campers.

PAC’s funding the party: The Carpenters and Joiners Union, National Air Traffic Controllers Association, National Education Association and the Sierra Club.