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Students learn value of community service

Steph Glasscock poses with a dog while volunteering at her local animal shelter.
Photo courtesy of Steph Glasscock

Summer is an opportune time to volunteer for great causes throughout the local community. There are many options to choose from, ranging from volunteering at local animal shelters, to running community camps.

Volunteering builds character, and allows students to experience working for a charity or other well-intentioned organization; Katie Carper, the counselor at RAHS, emphasizes the importance of volunteering.

“Volunteer work is important for communities and for students because it provides them with real world experiences and helps to build a sense of community,” said Carper. “It can also help with college applications, particularly if students make a particular impact in their field of volunteering.”

Students often take Carper’s advice, applying themselves to charitable work that makes meaningful changes to their community, and bolsters their college applications. Felix Bosques, an RAHS junior, has volunteered for various causes throughout his community since freshman year.

“I volunteered at Cascades Camp as a camp worker and counselor in training, and it taught me a lot about how to work with children,” said Bosques. “It also taught me responsibility through camp maintenance and activities.”

Felix was able to learn skills that are important for young adults, and gain valuable experiences with responsibility. These skills were not the only benefits he felt from his volunteering efforts.

“It is important to volunteer because you’re helping out the community in a way that helps everyone out,” said Bosques, “and through volunteering you learn more about yourself as well.”

Other students volunteer by cleaning parks, and doing other public service to benefit their community. This both helps local communities, and satisfies graduation requirements. Some students, like junior Braeden Swanson, even volunteer abroad, contributing to the global community.

“I’ve volunteered domestically, in the Dominican Republic, and for multiple causes,” said Swanson. “It is easy to help out when you know of good opportunities, starting at school and in the RAHS community.”

Braeden has volunteered for numerous charities, and has gained valuable experiences from her work. Through her experiences, she has learned the importance of public service.

“Volunteering is important because reaching out to people who need your help not only helps those people but gives you a better understanding of how to hold yourself, and how you interact with people,” said Swanson.

There are several ways to volunteer this summer, many of which are in the local community. Alyssa Ryser, a senior at RAHS, has volunteered at the Zoo for 4 years, contributing to her community by assisting with various duties involving the zoo’s wide variety of animals. Steph Glasscock, a junior at RAHS, recommends volunteering at a local animal shelter, a job that she has been doing for three years.

“We always need more help with the animals, and it is very important that we are able to keep them nourished, walked, and taken care of,” said Glasscock.

Although volunteering at these institutions may be too large of a commitment for most students, there are other, more accessible ways to volunteer.

“Many students volunteer over the summer, through church groups, community service organizations, and many environmental works,” said Carper. “The important thing is that students find volunteer work that they enjoy, as it will make the experience much more rewarding and doable. Find something you’re passionate about, and volunteer.”

Students can look online, talk to friends, or speak with a counselor about what opportunities are right for them. 40 hours of community service are required to graduate, and summer offers the best opportunity to rack up the hours.

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Shiroma relaxes for the first time

Before he left for Hawai’i, students like Francesca Gaerlan and Ginny Sunde sought Shiroma’s chemistry knowledge for help with labs, such as the copper reaction lab.
Photo courtesy of Arianna McDowell

Since leaving RAHS last year, former chemistry teacher Garrett Shiroma moved to Ewa Beach on the island O’ahu in Hawai’i.

Shiroma has been entirely focused on his business plan, which has moved away from his original food truck plan and towards the idea of opening a restaurant.

“So the food truck has not been created yet,” said Shiroma. “I just came back from a trip to Japan and Okinawa to do some eating research for my food. The idea of the food truck has also kinda evolved into a restaurant in the downtown area that serves breakfast and lunch. The main cuisine is Okinawan food with a twist.”

Shiroma decided on Okinawan food after his trip to Japan and Okinawa because the culinary disappointment made him want to improve the flavors.

“My trip was good,” said Shiroma, “I ate a lot of food, but found out that either I was going to the wrong eateries, or Okinawa just doesn’t have that great of food.”

Outside of his business plan, Shiroma and his family are doing well while living in Hawai’i, besides a few unexpected issues involving a change of housing.

“We are not exactly living where we had planned due to family emergencies,” said Shiroma, “so we have kind of a house swap going on right now.”

Shiroma finds that living in Hawai’i was a good transition from living in Washington–despite the difficulties of his housing situation–as he has a lot more time to focus on his life.

“My favorite part of living in Hawai’i is the pace,” said Shiroma. “It’s a lot slower and relaxed. The least favorite is that it’s an island and there are only so many things you can do on an island.”

Shiroma easily runs out of hobbies to fill his time and has found himself controlled by more addicting hobbies.

“The internet is a dark, dark hole that can take up more hours than you realize,” said Shiroma.

In his free time–when it’s not stolen by the internet–Shiroma often finds himself relaxing in the tranquil Hawai’i environment. He usually partakes in calming activities such as taking a stroll around Ewa Beach or sitting on the beach itself.

“I’ve been travelling around a bit between the islands and have been doing some hiking,” said Shiroma. “Other than the restaurant, I don’t really have any other projects going on.”

Even though Hawai’i is a relaxing place where he can pursue his hobbies, Shiroma is still fairly nostalgic about his days leading RAHS Speech and Debate (S&D) to victory as their advisor.

“I do not miss the grading,” said Shiroma, “what I miss most is working with the students in extracurricular roles for prom and S&D.”

Shiroma not only misses the friends and acquaintances he left behind at RAHS, but also those in Washington. Shiroma finds it harder to maintain friendships while living across the ocean from his old acquaintances.

“I miss the connections I made in Washington the most,” said Shiroma, “and the cold rain and ice is what I miss the least.”

Shiroma has not been completely disconnected from RAHS since leaving, as he texts Joshi on a regular basis and stays in contact with others from the school.

“I spoke with Mrs. Hiranaka a couple of times and the S&D exec team has contacted me a couple of times for things,” said Shiroma. “I get my gossip in spurts, but don’t worry, they haven’t shared anything terrible.”

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Leaving seniors leave advice

Even though the class of 2018 is leaving, they’re imparting their wisdom and lessons from RAHS in hopes of helping underclassmen
Photo by Will Garren

The class of 2018 is graduating 14 June 2018. After four year at RAHS, they have useful information on how to traverse high school for underclassmen.

Senior and athlete Hannah Kaiser knows that studies are important in life especially in high school. However, enjoying yourself in high school is equally as important.  

“I wish I would have known to have more fun outside of school rather than studying,” said Kaiser. “I wish I spent more time to myself especially sophomore and junior year doing more of what I love.”

Kaiser has found the key to her success—which is to live a happy and fun life—and hopes students know as they move through their high school experience.

“Don’t get too caught up in what’s going on. Let loose and have some fun, don’t worry about getting perfect grades,” said Kaiser. “Try your best and live a happy life. Enjoy high school because a lot is going to change when you get out!”

Senior Stella Sission has been through the ups and down of high school and now has the proper knowledge to tackle an overbearing schedule.

“I wish that before I had started my Senior year, people had told me that it was hard. Balancing school, AP classes, and all of the intricacies that come with college was much more difficult than I anticipated,” said Sisson. “It can be stressful to balance the two, and it might sound crazy to add a third thing, but something that really helped me was getting consistent exercise. It always made me feel more relaxed.”

Senior and ASB member Keir Hichens has a rule every student at RAHS should follow.

“I would say that I try and follow one rule in particular,” said Hichens, “which is I if get some assignment, or just a task, if it takes me under 3-minutes to complete I will get it done right away. That way my to-do list doesn’t accumulate.”  

Hichens has learned skills like managing difficult classes and this has taught him qualities that will be helpful as he enters adulthood.  

“I wish I would’ve made some study groups and people I could rely to study with for AP classes and just lay out my year from the beginning of the year,” said Hichens. “Also to make sure that I was planning ahead anything and everything so that I could be on top of everything.”

Senior Sameer Romani, and Director of RAHS Student Ambassador Program/Career Center Associate shares the importance of enjoying your high school experience.

“The best thing to do before leaving high school is to pursue what fulfills you best,” said Romani. “Go to a school dance, go out to lunch with your friends, and don’t center the entirety of your life on just purely your academics. While they should be a priority, so should your own well being.”

Romani, like many people, has learned a lot in in high school from teachers, friendships. Overall school and this will help him achieve his future goals.  

“Looking back though, these four years have been nothing short of extraordinary, “ said Romani. “I was able to make some of the best friendships I could ever ask for, I was taught by teachers who care about education and their students, I am still mentored by industry leaders who have had illustrious careers and are helping me pave the way for my own, and I’m walking away from here and going exactly where I want to be.”

Romani has learned possibly the most important lesson of all at RAHS and encourages everyone to abide by this lesson.  

“The most important lesson I’ve learned is to simply be yourself. It may not get you a lot of friends and make you the most popular in the school, but it’ll get you the right people,” said Romani. “ I’m not showing up here on campus pretending to be someone else. Sure, there are days where I put a smile on my face when I’d rather not (like when I had AP exams), but as a person, what you see is what you get. Be genuine.”

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New math teacher solves schedule problems

New math teacher to RAHS, Edward Tompson teaches students at Highline High School
Photo by Ava Yniguez

A new math teaching position has been filled by Edward Tompson for the 2018-19 school year. He will be taking over both Algebra I and II classes.

Tompson currently works at Highline High School. Being a proud part of the Highline School District for many years, he is excited to start working at RAHS come this fall.

“I am currently teaching geometry at Highline High School,” said Tompson. “I am a product of the Highline School District, being a member of the Highline Community for 20 years.”

He is currently scheduled to teach five periods in the RAHS math department after hearing about the opportunity.

“I heard about RAHS from my supervisor from Seattle University during student teaching. What interests me about Aviation [RAHS], or teaching in general, are students,” said Tompson. “I find our diversity fascinating, and the opportunity to teach at a high performing school is something that I have not experienced, and I look forward to learning from my students and continuing to grow within my profession.”

Tompson also enjoys extracurriculars such as coaching sports, and creating bonds with his students by creating a fun learning environment incorporated into his teaching.

I am a big basketball fan; [I have coached] basketball for ten years,” said Tompson. “I have never lost to a student in a timed multiplication test, recording a record of 220-0. Still searching for a student who can beat me.”

As far as school and class dynamics, Tompson’s presence changes the schedule of other current RAHS teachers; Karen Wilson, for example, who currently teaches Algebra 2 and Pre-Calculus, is affected by this as well.

“I will be teaching 3 different subjects that I have never taught before,” said Wilson.

Teaching standard Calculus, Intro to Robotics, and a new class, Bridge to College Math, will be a change for Wilson, but she sees this as a positive thing overall.

“I see this as more positive since we will be able to spread the math classes around to more teachers, thus freeing up open periods for new electives – drones, digital electronics, CAD production classes, etc,” said Wilson.

As far as the hiring process is concerned, it is quite a simple transfer of staff within the District for RAHS Principal Therese Tipton.  

“In our case, because we had the math spot when all of the district [Highline] shuffled out, there were several teachers [where] jobs were reduced in their current school,” said Tipton. “He was already a teacher at Highline High School, and it was just a lateral move over to our school.”

In order to expand the classes offered at RAHS, the math department teachers were dispersed based on personal interest of classes and availability.

“Our math teachers all have other passions that met our school mission and vision and the work that we do here,” said Tipton. “So we were able to take all of the classes that we have from Algebra up to AP Calculus, add in those classes that the teachers are really passionate about, and that freed us up to add an additional teaching position.”

Incorporating new elements into already offered classes is another way the school was able to hire Tompson.

“One thing that we did do was that every school has additional funds that they can use for a variety of purposes that support student learning,” said Tipton. “We were able to use part of that to open college math classes that we don’t already offer. We also got extra funding this year since we no longer offer Ground School, and now offer a drone class starting next year which have elements of Ground School.”

Tompson looks forward to a new experience surrounded by planes and everything aviation.

“What interests me is learning. Aviation [RAHS] does things differently than anything that I have experienced in education,” said Tompson. “I am excited to learn as much as possible and be a positive member of RAHS staff and community.”


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Farewell to Journalism

Dear the readers of The Phoenix Flyer:

With sadness in our hearts, we have the unfortunate duty of telling you that this issue will be the final issue of The Phoenix Flyer.

With our longtime advisor Jacob Savishinsky moving on to the new position as the Dean of Students at RAHS and with the increased need for art credit electives as opposed to CTE electives such as Journalism, we have come to the conclusion that there is no possible way of continuing this newspaper to the same high standard. Therefore, we have decided to end the newspaper while it is still at its best.

For the past nine years, The Phoenix Flyer has been honored to represent our school, our students, and our culture. We have strived to serve our school and community, and to do so with integrity. Journalism and journalists have an important responsibility in an open, democratic society, and it has always been the mission of The Phoenix Flyer to uphold the highest professional principles and ethics in our reporting. The work has been challenging and rewarding, and we are grateful for the support of the RAHS community over the years.

Although we are sad to see the newspaper go, we want to thank you, the RAHS community, for being the best readers we could ask for. Seeing students laugh because of a midspread or learn something new because of one of the articles we’ve written make all of the long nights spent editing articles, taking photos, and laying out pages worth it. We are proud to have been an integral part of the RAHS community and we hope you’ve enjoyed reading our newspaper.


The staff of The RAHS Phoenix Flyer

The 2017-2018 journalism class, posing together on the day of printing the last ever issue of the Phoenix Flyer.



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Powerhouse biology teacher leaves RAHS cell

Biology teacher Mr. Gwinn talks with students in biology group discussion
Photo by Sam Hart

On Wednesday, 23 May 2018, biology and health teacher Nathan Gwinn announced to his class that this will be his last year. He will be teaching at Vashon High School next year, a shorter commute from his home in Port Orchard, Washington.

“The commute is ridiculous, it’s untenable, I can’t do it long term. It’s at minimum an hour and a half each direction,” said Gwinn. “So after some time, and me talking with my wife a lot about it, it’s just what we needed for our family.”

Even in his short time here, Gwinn’s teaching experience at RAHS has been unexpectedly interesting and educational on both ends, even though he didn’t think he would enjoy teaching at the school.

“My past teaching experience has been with kids with much more personal damage or personal trauma in their lives, and so when I first got here, I wasn’t sure if I would like it that much,” said Gwinn, “and I told my students this, I wasn’t sure if I would even like teaching them that much.”

Gwinn was proven wrong. He found he enjoyed teaching here even more than he had at previous schools.

“Teaching these kids basically taught me that I’m a pretty good teacher for the most part, in that it’s actually something I want to do long term. I’ve always been thinking, ‘I want to go into administration, that’s what I want to do, I wanna get out of teaching’ for whatever reason,” said Gwinn. “But these kids have taught me I want to teach for a while, this is what I want to do. It’s been huge for me; it’s really encouraging and inspiring to be able to teach kids and then see them do some of the things that you teach them.”

Being able to see students directly apply what he’s taught them has been a unique experience for Gwinn, in comparison to when he taught in Tennessee, where he focused more on students’ personal growth than the curriculum itself.

“In my past, I would teach them and try to keep my kids from making horrible decisions or just help them be healthy, help them grow and be healthier people,” said Gwinn. “Here, it’s like, I get to do that and then so much more. It’s been really awesome.”

Sophomore Joe Pacini agrees that Gwinn has learned a lot from his time at RAHS.
“I’m really bummed that he is [leaving], but I think it’s good for him,” said Pacini. “It’s a new opportunity for him, and I think he’s learned a lot from the class of 2020 and I really like that.”

Pacini has been good friends with Gwinn, having bonded with him during one of the info nights.

“Mr. Gwinn and I really bonded on one of the info nights because I hung out in his room, so we really started talking,” said Pacini. ”I’ve always been one to share out and ask questions, and his 5th period is really a lot of fun, so that’s basically how we bonded and strengthened our relationship over the school year.”

Pacini thinks Gwinn is a very unique teacher, and that in his absence, next year’s biology class won’t be the same.

“Mr. Gwinn’s a very unique teacher that has a very unique style of teaching. So I think it will be a lot different for freshmen that will take biology next year,” said Pacini. “But I also think that him leaving makes sense just because he’s commuting so far, and the things he wanted to do in Highline didn’t work out. So I find it reasonable that he’s doing it.”

Mr. Gwinn’s students appreciate what he’s done as a teacher and will miss him.

“I’ll remember that we’ll always banter each other and just talk crap about each other a lot. That was a lot of fun,” said Pacini. “If Mr. Gwinn reads this, tell him that I love him and thank you for being a good biology teacher.”

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Students get their foot in the door before college

Brightwater Treatment Plant

Employers are much more likely to hire a RAHS student with internships and work experience rather than someone with a generic resume who lacks experience. Junior Ruby Whorton will be part of the Brightwater Water Treatment Center internship this summer. The plant is part of King County’s regional wastewater treatment system.

“Graduating students with paid or unpaid internships such as the one I’m taking on their resume have a much better chance at landing a full-time position upon graduation,” said Whorton. “Students are doing internships as undergraduates, and it is now not unusual for recent grads to take an unpaid internship with hopes of turning it into a permanent position or at least making some contacts and building their résumé.”

Employers do not create internships just to be nice to students and others interested in a certain career. While an interview or a company test can add to what an employer knows about a person, an internship helps an employer evaluate how an individual would fare in the workplace.

“Internships have always been important,” said Whorton. “I think that what young people are trying to do is build work experience, build portfolios, build skills and internships are a really critical way to do that.”

Many internship opportunities help set the foundation for your career. It is important that you choose you internships based on your interests and career prospects.

“I really love nature so I chose an internship that will help me work closely with that such as Brightwater,” said Whorton.

Many times students identify early what careers they don’t want to do and that information can be just as valuable when learning about career options. Junior Mitchell Turner also sees the importance of internships.

“High school internships are a win-win for both employers and students,” said Turner.

Many students begin college with no idea of what career they may want to pursue, but by completing an internship, they begin to get acquainted early with some of the career opportunities that are available.

“For students, work experience is the key to ensure they make a good career decision and build their professional network,” said Turner. “By employing students, companies get exposure to talent early in their career journey and help support the well being of the local community.”

Internships during high school are not as prevalent as those that are completed during college. This is why doing a high school internship is so important because it sets students apart from peers.

“Internships set you up to stand out when applying to colleges, and along with that it gives you a chance to see if you would enjoy a certain job through this ‘test run,” said Whorton.

The majority of internships during high school can be found by networking with family, friends, teachers, previous employers, etc., or by prospecting by contacting organizations of interest to see if they are interested in hiring a high school intern.

“In this economic downturn, employers are relying increasingly on interns to take up areas where full-time hiring has been cut,” said Turner.

In this intern-boom, it’s vital to comprehend all aspects of the job before commiting.

“It’s greatly important to understand what you are applying for since you will be stuck partaking in that field for the length of the internship,” said Turner.


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Marshalla reflects on a golden year

Marshalla poses in front of South America in her fabulously decorated room
Photo by Will Garren

Over the past decade, the RAHS community has seen dozens of amazing instructors who have left a profound mark on the school’s culture. This year, there was a sterling new addition to the world language department; Ms. Ramana Marshalla. As the end of the 2017-2018 school year nears, Marshalla reviews her first year as a Profe.

“It feels amazing to be working, finally, in my chosen profession,” said Marshalla. “I’ve wanted to be [a] teacher since I was very young, and specifically a Spanish teacher for about a decade. It’s hard to believe that we’re reaching the end of this school year. It has been a challenging year in many respects.”

Throughout the school year, Marshalla went the extra mile in her efforts as a teacher, putting her students and work first in many regards.

“Learning to divide my time and attention between three different levels of Spanish, my professional responsibilities outside of direct instruction in the classroom, teaching advisory, and being [an] advisor to three clubs has at times felt like trying to summit an icy hill with oil-covered feet,” said Marshalla. “Grading, planning, doing research, designing curriculum, writing tests, etcetera, regularly overtook my attempts to maintain some semblance of a personal life.”

With her determination to succeed as a teacher, Marshalla’s first year at RAHS has not gone without recognition. Earlier in the year, she was nominated by the Highline School District Foundation for her excellent performance as a brand new teacher.

“I genuinely love what I do and I certainly want to be the best I can be, but I did not expect any sort of recognition for my work this year. Thus, to have been nominated was a dream come true. I cried when I first saw the nomination because it felt like recognition for all my hard work,” said Marshalla. “My dedication, and the hours I’ve put in to be the best Profe [teacher] I can be.”

Students such as junior Katie Taylor have grown accustomed to her bubbly teaching style.

“I really enjoyed having her this year. She’s a very nurturing teacher,” said Taylor, “and you can tell that she really loves teaching Spanish. She’s so energetic.”

Junior Logan Lemieux was initially uneasy about switching Spanish teachers during his junior year. However, he was pleasantly surprised.

“I was kinda scared–it was like, this teacher is not Sr. P. I don’t know how this is gonna go down, right?” said Lemieux. “So I suppose I had pretty low expectations going in, but even if they were higher, I would not have been let down.”

Although being nominated, Marshalla has also been working closely alongside William Peterson, the lead teacher of RAHS’ Spanish program, to become better acquainted with the program. Because the program is one of a kind, and a rarity in traditional high schools, it took extra time.

“It feels great to be able to mentor another Spanish teacher, especially Marshalla, because she is so passionate and wants to do well,” said Peterson. “She wants to advance the program, and I feel like that I have a lot of effective ideas for how to learn Spanish that I can share with her.”

Marshalla was thankful for how welcoming and helpful Peterson was. Giving most of her appreciation to how his positivity and encouragement helped her.

“Working with Sr. P as a mentor has been tremendous,” said Marshalla. “He is such a pro, such a master of his craft that I felt intimidated coming in as a total novice. I had such fear that I wouldn’t measure up to his standards, but this year, Sr. P has proven time and time again that he has my back.”

Peterson was thrilled to help Marshalla throughout the year because he also was a first year teacher at RAHS six years ago.

“She is so passionate and wants to do well. She wants to advance the program,” said Peterson, “and I feel like that I have a lot of effective ideas for how to learn Spanish that I can share with her. Such as BBC Mundo, Notes in Spanish, [and] the communicative approach.”

Like a well oiled machine, Marshalla swiftly navigated through her first year at RAHS and remembered some of her favorite memories from this year.

“There are so many awesome memories I cherish from this year!” said Marshalla. “From my room being filled with tissue paper confetti after making Día de los Muertos flowers that I found it [on] the carpet for a month, to being laughed at for slithering across the floor to try to teach students a verb without using English, to the many ‘ah-ha’ moments when things clicked for students… I mostly remember the feeling I got so many times in the classroom when my kiddos and I laughed together.”


Unit project brings class curriculum to life

What is the What character, Moses, posing with his family for a recent Christmas photo while living in America.
Photo Courtesy of Arianna McDowell

When RAHS junior, Arianna McDowell, embarked on her newest project in Junior Literature, she was definitely not expecting the interview of a lifetime. The classJunior Literature is currently doing a project that is related to the latest book that they read, What is the What by Dave Eggers. This project involves the real stories of immigrants in American society, and the journeys and stories they have had. McDowell received the tremendous opportunity, in that she got to of interviewing an important actual character from this non-fiction story.

When RAHS junior Arianna McDowell embarked on her newest project in Junior Literature, she was definitely not expecting the interview of a lifetime.

“The project we’re doing in savsSavishinsky’s right now is interviewing immigrants or refugees that have found their way here,” said McDowell. “I brought this up with my mother and she told me that the Smith tower had a lot of refugees who worked for them in maintenance.”

What is the What is the story of Valentino Deng, who, at 8 years old, fled Sudan with over 20,000 other children (The Lost Boys of Sudan), while under constant hardship.

“I brought up the book we are reading, “What is the What”, and she said there was a Lost Boy who worked at the Smith tower.,” said McDowell. “So she gave me a contact of a close family friend, who gave me a contact of one of the refugees, who was Moses from the book (Valentino’s best friend).”

This unlikely connection helped her learn the story of someone she had known forever, but never knew the backstory of.

“It was a connection of people that iI found him through,” said McDowell. “I even used to know him when iI was really really young — he used to greet us whenever my mom would go to work with me.”

This contact almost sounded too good to be true at first, but McDowell was able to confirm Moses was the real deal.

“At first i was a bit suspicious — I was suspicious because the book told a different story than what Moses did,” said McDowell. “That is when Sav told me Valentino (the main character of the book) was only 7 when everything  happened, so of course he’s not gonna remember everything.”

The verification did take a little bit of inquiry and digging, but it all paid off.

“I did a lot of research before asking moses if he was moses from the book, and when he said yes, I thought it was insane. ,” said McDowell.

McDowell was able to interview someone who is exactly the same in real life as he was in the book.

“He [Moses] is such a sweet person, the personality of Moses conveyed in the book is exactly like who he is,” said McDowell. “He is so eager to tell his story, after one question he just took off and told his whole story without having to ask any questions.”

Moses was able to give amazing detail of his harrowing journey.

“It’s almost like he read my question sheet and knew what to say beforehand,” said McDowell. “But he has just told his story so much. He even told me about the differences in climate between Seattle and Sudan.”

The story starts with the civil war in Sudan.

“It all started because of the war in sudan between the north and the south,” said McDowell. “His village was raided and he was separated from his family. So he started to run away, and he walked for months, going through deserts, going through crocodile infested rivers. He even found safe havens, but sometimes they were not safe for long enough.”

The story was massive, and it displayed endurance.

“He kept going on and on, and it was just super thrilling because these bad things were happening, but he’d find a way to lighten the mood, said McDowell.

One interesting story is how his name is not actually what it is currently.

“One of the best part of his story is about when they were in a city between Sudan and Ethiopia,” said McDowell, “where the UN was helping them and doing immigrancy checks to pick and choose who they wanted to have immigrate. He actually failed the test, but because his friend (who went back to South Sudan) was not there, he took his name and was able to come to the US.”


Moses’ story was not only funny at times, it was also filled with intense, violent, and unforgettable moments.

“He also told me a prominent story in the book where he was carrying his teacher’s goat across a river after they were raided,” said McDowell. “He heard gunshots and then saw blood all over him. He checked all over for a wound even though he felt no pain, He thought he was simply in shock, and realized it was the goat in his arms that was shot. It is definitely an intense story.”

The class overall seems to be very excited for this unlikely connection, and interest throughout the school is rising.

“It has become increasingly popular,” said McDowell. “Ive had alot of people ask me about it, people asking how the interview went and stuff like that. A Lot of people are excited because it’s the best friend of the main character in the book, and a prominent character in the novel. Its has just surprised everyone that this connection has been made.”

McDowell is still stunned that this was the direction her project went.

“I am overwhelmed myself because i know i have to make this good,” said McDowell.


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Retired RAHS teacher returns to the classroom

Kumakura enjoying a meal in Japan.
Photo courtesy of Kumakura

Toshiki Kumakura, retired RAHS AP Japanese and Spanish teacher, left RAHS last year and has been making his mark in the Federal Way school system.

Before he began substituting, Kumakura took some time off to help his son with his newborn baby.

“I was in Spokane for more than four months [helping my son], and I came back and started subbing for high schools in Federal Way,” said Kumakura.

Not only does Kumakura sub for the Federal Way school system he also works at a school similar to RAHS.

“I actually started teaching Spanish at Technology Access Foundation School. It is like Aviation, it is a STEM school in Federal Way.”

Even though Kumakura has been spending more time with his family lately, he is still passionate about teaching and isn’t quite ready to retire.

“I didn’t feel like it was time for me to completely retire, so I might continue with part-time but I don’t want to do full-time anymore,” said Kumakura. “[Teaching] during the afternoon or part-time would be ideal, unfortunately there isn’t a lot of Japanese teaching opportunities.”

After working at other schools, Kumakura hopes that the current student body at RAHS take advantage of the opportunities they have and keep in mind how lucky they are to go to RAHS.

“I hope the kids realize it that other schools aren’t as good [as RAHS],” said Kumakura. “In the classes that I substituted for close to one third of the class was absent and it was the norm.”

Junior Eric Lottsfeldt, a former student of Kumakura’s Japanese class, misses his class in many ways. Lottsfeldt regrets not being able to interact with Kumakura himself anymore and is saddened by not being able to learn from his unique teaching techniques.

“The main thing I miss is his teaching style, I feel that he had a very good linguistic teaching style in that he kept a very Japanese [speaking] based class and that he didn’t use that much English,” said Lottsfeldt.

Lottsfeldt also appreciated how the different instructing style created an environment that pushed his learning and provoked his love for Japanese.

“The way that he just kept talking in Japanese even if you might not understand it made you feel like you were learning at a much higher level,” said Lottsfeldt. “Because in the environment you pick up all these words since you’re listening to the Japanese and in your brain it makes it a lot easier to study.”

Lottsfeldt not only misses Kumakura’s teaching style, he also liked his personality and had fun hanging around in his class.

“I miss Kumakura himself, if you weren’t in his class then you probably don’t know his personality but he may look very stern on the outside but he was very nice and open on the inside,” said Lottsfeldt. “He took time to tutor individual students to where they can learn both writing and reading Japanese and that is basically what I miss the most.”

Although Kumakura has moved on from RAHS, the profound impact he has had upon his students education and lives is still present today.

Open post

A short discussion on the new dress code

Matthew Morin enjoying the new freedom of wearing shorts in school
Photo by Ava Yniguez

As summer rapidly approaches, and the days become hotter, RAHS students are finally allowed to wear shorts to school beginning 1 May 2018.

Junior Matthew Morin is also excited to be able to change things up with summer around the corner, and arrived to school on the first day of May wearing shorts.

“It’s just way more comfortable,” say Morin, “We’ve already had a bunch of hot days throughout April and it’s way better than wearing Khakis out in the sun.”

Senior Kier Hichens also took the first opportunity to wear shorts and arrived to school wearing a pair of blue bermuda shorts, despite a chilly 55 degree morning.

“I know I will be significantly happier until the end of school,” said Hichens, “especially during June once it gets up to 80 [degrees] and higher.”

On top of being much more relaxed than chinos or slacks, shorts have provided a more diverse set of clothing options for males.

“I have literally five pairs of school pants I cycle through wearing,” said Morin. “It basically allows me to double the amount of things I can wear to school.

While both Hichens and Morin are grateful for the changes, they do think the rules could be expanded a little further for wearing shorts in the earlier days of the school year.

“It might be nice to have like the first few weeks of September or the month as a whole,” said Morin. “It makes a good transition from being able to wear shorts and T-Shirts every day to khakis, but if they didn’t want to it would make sense.”

Morin also agrees that during hotter days in September, shorts would be useful and both believe some of the regulations surrounding the types of shorts allowed could be loosened.

“Being allowed to wear cargo shorts even just on Fridays like jeans would work,” said Morin, “but I do understand wanting golf or bermuda shorts just to keep them from getting too short.”

What almost everyone can agree on is that shorts should be allowed for both males and females instead of being male only.

“I think that females should be allowed to wear shorts as well,” said Hichens, “but it is nice to see some equity between females having skirts and now males having shorts.”

Morin believes the dress code should be expanded even further than just females being allowed to wear shorts along with males.

“Especially at our school we have a lot of people that don’t necessarily identify as strictly male or female,” said Morin. “Everyone should be allowed to wear what they feel allows them to express themselves within the dress code, and I think a unisex dress code may be something the school is working on.”

Senior Stella Sisson also believes the regulations on shorts could be refined for the next dress code.
“It seems pointless that we can wear fingertip length skirts but not shorts,” said Sisson, “they’re essentially the same and shorts aren’t any more revealing.”
Sisson also is in agreement with the common idea that both males and females should have the ability to wear shorts, and that a potentially uni-sex dress code for 2019 may be the right solution.
“It makes sense to balance the female skirts with male shorts,” said Sisson, “but at the same time it just doesn’t make sense to restrict it [shorts] to male only.”
Regardless of if changes such as these will be implemented in the future, students seem to be happy wearing shorts for the rest of this year.

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