The Student News Site of Monta Vista High School

El Estoque

The Student News Site of Monta Vista High School

El Estoque

The Student News Site of Monta Vista High School

El Estoque

A place of ink-spiration

Examining how the print center has become a community at MVHS
Giljoon Lee
Print technician Paula Gaspar works on a puzzle with students at the print center.

When print center technician Paula Gaspar first started working at MVHS in 2018, she had three Funko Pops. Now, she has over 100, courtesy of students and staff who visit the print center in room A101. Her collection is displayed throughout the room and has expanded to a range of TV shows, movies and more, marking the print center’s evolution throughout the years.

In her role, Gaspar oversees copy requests from staff on campus, a responsibility that includes copying worksheets or tests, laminating and cutting paper, signing forms and printing programs for events. Every day, staff members, teacher assistants and other students visit the center to copy or print their own papers. 

Despite the important role the print center plays in the functionality of the school, Gaspar had observed that many students didn’t know where it was located in prior years. She asked Art teacher Brian Chow to recruit students to decorate A101’s glass windows with brightly colored doodles so passersby can easily identify the center. 

“With students knowing that this is the print center, I’ve been getting a lot of students coming in here to print stuff or they’ll go to the library,” Gaspar said. “But they’re so thankful for coming in here a lot, that they bring me items to decorate the room.” 

Senior Alexia Ortiz doodles on a surface at the print center (Giljoon Lee)

Gaspar encourages visitors to help renovate the center, be it with paint markers or their own ideas. This tradition has manifested in ever-evolving art on her refrigerator, a swarm of paper butterflies on the walls and the Funko Pops lining the counters, a trend started by Student Conduct Specialist Thomas Michaelis. As it stands, the center is the product of both student and staff involvement throughout the years.

“Mr. Michaelis brought me the mini Funko Pops, and then it just started growing,” Gaspar said. “It was like a thank-you gift, or a ‘I want to add this to your collection’ thing. Some people know Snow White is my favorite princess, so they’ve brought Snow White and Disney stuff. I love Mario Bros., and you can see that over here. Students and staff members will also bring lost items here, because they know a lot of students come in here. I just display it and the owners will come and get it.”

The decor was one of the features that initially drew senior Alexia Ortiz to the print center. Now, Ortiz regards Gaspar as a trusted adult in her life. She frequently visits the print center during breaks and open periods, joking that she is “always trying to get on [Gaspar’s] nerves a little bit, but it doesn’t work.” 

“I feel like it makes the print center more open,” Ortiz said. “You see everything and you’re like, ‘Wow, that’s so cool. I want to ask about it.’ And that’s how you form that connection once you talk to her. She’s like, ‘Oh, this is because of this.’ It’s really comforting being in here.”

Aside from decorations, the print center offers candy, basketball and ring toss games, drawing and coloring opportunities and even a toy-sized claw machine, which Gaspar keeps at her desk. Puzzles are also a fixture in the room — currently, visitors are working on a jigsaw puzzle of phenomenal women, donated by assistant principal Sydney Fernandez. Gaspar wants visitors to enjoy these activities, whether they’re waiting for copies or simply there to hang out. 

Junior Aruna Venkateswaran appreciates the activities available in the print center, having frequently been sent to the center to pick up copies as a Japanese TA her sophomore year. Initially, Venkateswarnan thought waiting for the copies would be boring and awkward, but soon she started to spend more time in the center making conversation with Gaspar and solving puzzles to relax. Over time, visiting Gaspar became a routine part of her school day she looked forward to. 

Graphic by Giljoon Lee

“Ms. Gaspar is a really, really nice person,” Venkateswaran said. “She’s always there for you. It’s a safe space, not only for print copies to be made, but just for anything. And if I ever need to come to her for anything, I won’t feel intimidated or scared because she’s a really nice person.”

Earlier this year, after not being to the print center for a while, Venkateswaran found herself coming back after an especially stressful day to relax for a couple minutes. It was exactly as welcoming of an environment as she remembered, and she headed straight for the puzzles to decompress.

The safe space Gaspar aims to nurture in the print center comes from her own experiences in high school. When Gaspar was 16, the loss of her father led her to find support in a teacher who went through a similar experience. Gaspar often felt like she had no one to talk to, but being heard and seen by this teacher impacted her tremendously to where she hopes to do the same for others. 

“We all go through our tough times and I want to be able to have anybody come in here, staff, students,” Gaspar said. “Anybody can come in here and just be themselves. There’s no judgment here.

About the Contributors
Dahlia Schilling
Dahlia Schilling, Features Editor
Dahlia is currently a junior and a Features editor for El Estoque. In her free time she enjoys traveling, hanging out with her little sisters, and drinking lemonade which her family no longer lets her buy due to the excessive sugar rush it gives her.
Lillian Wang
Lillian Wang, Co-Editor-in-Chief
Lillian is a senior and a co-editor-in-chief for El Estoque.
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