Saving Your Semester

AHS junior Danika Drugge gets her work done early, staying organized to maintain good grades. Photo by Austin McHenry

While some students can pat themselves on the back for a job well done after quarter grades were sent home, others still have a great deal of work to do before semester grades are finalized in January. Whether students are hoping to earn a coveted A in their AP class or are just hoping to pass, they need to change how they study in order to improve their grade.

 The first step is figuring out what went wrong. To improve grades, students need to avoid making the same mistakes that hurt their grades in the first place.

 “It shouldn’t be a matter of raising the grade. It’s a question of why did the grade fall in the first place. Most of the effort should be done on the prevention side, because trying to raise your scores after the fact is very difficult,” said AHS teacher Nik Joshi.

 For many students, the problem is getting distracted while they’re studying. According to Director of Burien Sylvan Learning Center, Jenny Haaland, M.Ed., distractions can be far more problematic than students might believe.

 “You can make a half-hour long homework assignment turn in to three or four hours if you’re checking Facebook, if you have the TV on in the background, talking to friends, or texting in between,” said Haaland. “You think, ‘oh, it’ll just take me a second,’ but you’re actually distracting your mind from what you’re doing.”

 Some students fall behind because they procrastinate on school work. For chronic procrastinators, waiting until the last minute on assignments can be a habit that leads to both stress and lower quality work.

 “The quality of work is a lot better when you don’t have to rush. When you get things done early you have more time to do things that you want to do, like hang out with friends or listen to music,” said AHS junior Danika Drugge.

 Turning in a significantly higher quality of work is necessary to improve grades. This means spending more time and effort on assignments.

 “If you’re getting C’s on your papers, and you want to get a higher score, then the process of drafting and getting feedback and editing that paper before it’s due becomes really important. You can’t just get another C paper, that’s not going to raise your grade, you have to get an A paper to raise your grade. You have to do what A students do, and they edit their papers, they come up with new ideas. They’re thinking about it more, in a more complex way,” said AHS humanities teacher Marcie Wombold.

 However, procrastinating can be a difficult habit to beat. Breaking the habit is a matter of individual discipline and setting limits.

According to Haaland, the key to avoiding procrastination is to form a habit of getting work done early.

“It takes thirty consecutive days–thirty days without stopping once–to create a habit,” said Haaland, “You have to train it out of yourself.”

For students that don’t know what led to their poor grades, their teachers are an excellent resource.

“Many teachers are available for extra help or for feedback or to check, ‘Am I on the right track?’ and very few students actually take us up on that,” said Wombold, “It’s my A students who ask me ‘Are my notes complete?’ or, ‘Am I getting this idea correctly?’ and it shows in their performance, because if they’re not, I can redirect them.”

When students ask for help, they should bring in graded tests and assignments. This helps teachers understand what they need help with and provide more useful feedback as a result.

Students also need to communicate with teachers sooner rather than later. Whether they’re asking for an extension, or just asking for help, the sooner students tell teachers about problem, the more likely it is that it’s not too late.

“Be proactive, if you have a question, go ask for help,” said Joshi, “Asking a question in a panic the morning before a test is not the right time to be asking the question.”

Studying with peers can also help students understand what they’re missing.

“We are verbal creatures, we talk about movies we like and the music that we like, and the events we’re experiencing, so talk about what you’re learning in class,” said Wombold, “It will help solidify it for you.”

Getting organized is the most important step to getting on track. Not only does it help students stay on top of assignments, it saves them time overall.

“Students should be more organized because it just makes life easier,” said Drugge. “Instead of spending an hour looking for things, they could be using their time to do more important things.”

If better grades aren’t motivation enough, students can think of it in terms of spending less time doing homework.

“You work hard all the time, and if you work smarter with the time that you use, then you’ll be able to have more fun in it, and find that balance between working hard and playing hard,” said Wombold. “It’s important to have downtime too… you’re not having fun when you’re procrastinating. So plan fun, and plan work.”

For most students, getting organized means using a planner. Some may find that a virtual one such as Google Calendar is more useful to them. Not only is Google Calendar accessible anywhere, it can sync with smart phones, to help keep users on track.

“What’s great about the virtual calendar—I live off my virtual calendar—is you can create repeating events, and even set alarms,” said Haaland, “So then your phone will go off and remind you that you should be studying right now.”

Raising grades is an individual process and requires students to be honest with themselves about the effort they’re putting into their classes.

“I think every student knows in their heart when they’re studying effectively, and when they’re not,” said Joshi. “It’s a matter of having the maturity to admit it to themselves and to act on it.”

Deck the Halls With New Technology

Dear Santa, heres my list... Illustration by Andrew Johnson

Dear Santa Claus,

While I know it is a bit early to be sending you letters for Christmas presents, I wanted to save you the most cash possible. As you are a knowledgeable man, no doubt you know about Cyber Monday, the Internet’s version of Black Friday. I just wanted to inform you on some of the various presents I want, that are not only fun but useful for school as well.

In late October, the iPhone 4S was released. The new version of the iPhone now includes a dual core processor, making it almost twice as fast a previous versions. The iPhone is also finally available for customers on Sprint plans and still offers all the familiar features the iPhone is known for,such as its vast application library and sleek design. Perhaps the iPhone 4S’s most unique feature is Siri, a personal assistant application, that will basically work as a verbal calender with many other built-in features as well. As you can see Santa, this phone is everything I need and more. Not only will I be able to to use this phone to help me in school, for example organizing when my homework is due, but will be able to use it for practically every task in my life, like socializing with my friends. You do want me to do well in school, don’t you Santa? So please, get me an iPhone 4S.

While getting the grades and having fun with my friends is important, it is also a good idea to capture these memories in pictures and video. To capture these moments, I want the Nikon J1, released in early October, this ICL (Inter-changeable lens) camera provides many of the features prominent in full size digital cameras, and offers a sleek and compact design. The Nikon J1 comes with multiple lenses, can shoot HD video, and captures images in 10.1 megapixels, this makes it perfect for every day use. Combined with its compact design its just perfect for the student on the go.You do want me to remember my high school days when I am older, don’t you Santa? So please, get me a Nikon J1.

As I am sure you are aware Santa, in mid November the Amazon Kindle Fire will be released and as you can probably speculate, I and many other students will be dying to get their hands on it. The Fire will not only enable us to store numerous amounts of books in the palm of our hand, but also enable us to browse the Internet while reading. In addition, it is almost impossible to run out of room on the Fire with the online cloud storage Amazon will be providing along with it. The best part about the Fire is that it comes at an affordable price of $199 which I am sure will be very convenient for your wallet. You do want to promote reading, don’t you Santa? So please, get me a Kindle Fire.

When in the library attempting to study for AP Calculus, there is always one obnoxious person talking very loudly in the isle adjacent to me. No matter what I do to drown them out, their voice just seems to pierce through all the headphones I currently have. Because of this, I think it might be time to ask for some quality headphones to drown out this nuisance once and for all. This year many rappers have released headphones to their name, Dr. Dre and Ludacris to name a few, but this holiday season a new rapper will be releasing his brand of headphones, and I was hoping that you would look into them. 50 Cent will be releasing his brand of headphones sometime this holiday season and not only do they look aesthetically pleasing, they are sure to drown out pretty much everything. You do want me to be able to study well for AP Calculus, don’t you Santa? So please, get me headphones by 50 Cent.

I know this may sound like a lot, but I’m getting my driver’s license next year and I’ll want to talk cars with you, so enjoy the easy times while you can. I hope you have a safe flight this Christmas and that preparing for it is trouble-free.

Best Wishes,

Tech Savvy Students Everywhere.

Furry Friends a Holiday Handful

Stella (13 week old Pit Bull Terrier) from Homeward Pet

Source: Homeward Pet

This cold Seattle season, local animal shelters and facilities have quite the workload waiting for them, due to both a large number of animals in need and a lack of staff to take care of them.

Kitty Harbor, a local shelter in West Seattle, focuses their resources on cats. They mostly deal with cats from rescue situations, but the animals come from a variety of backgrounds.

“The cats we get at Kitty Harbor come from situations where owners abandon their cats. Lately, with the economy, lots of people are downsizing into smaller homes and choose not to take their pets with them,” said Anna Sweet, a volunteer at Kitty Harbor. “We also take in cats from situations where the owners are too sick to care for their pets anymore (or have died).”

Pasado’s Safe Haven, in Sultan, is a more universal shelter accepting a variety of animals from dogs and cats to farm animals, and they mostly come from rescue situations.

“Rescues can happen at any time and we may take in one animal or one hundred animals. We keep our dog and cat population full at all times,” said Stacie Martin, Director of Operations at Pasado’s, “when one is adopted, we rescue another from euthanasia at a shelter. Our farm animals usually come from rescue cases. Some months we have many adoptions, then others not so many. It all varies.”

Homeward Pet Adoption, in Bellevue has both dogs and cats. They are presented with animals from many different situations as well, some of which are difficult to adopt out.

“Some families discover their new babies are allergic to their pet and are forced to find new homes for them,” said Terri Inglis, Executive Director of Homeward Pet, “Then there are other families that decide they want to add a new puppy to their family and discover their older dog doesn’t get along with it… and give up the older dog instead of the more adoptable puppy.”

The winter season is one of the hardest times at some places, Pasado’s Safe Haven has a big workload they need to get done, this is difficult to coordinate because of the large variety of animals they house.

“The work can be more difficult in the winter just because of the weather conditions,” said Martin, “We have very rugged terrain, and in the ice and snow it’s more difficult to get around. Water troughs freeze, animals such as the pigs require more hay for warmth, we need to check heat lamps regularly, etc.”

Cold weather and the busy holiday season can drastically lower the number of people willing to help the shelter out during the winter.

“We do see a reduction in volunteers in the winter, especially with walking the shelter dogs,” said Inglis, “Many volunteers are not too excited about walking dogs in the rain and bad weather.”

No matter how bad the weather, Pasado’s Safe Haven has staff and volunteers working year round, even on the holidays.

“Pasado’s staff members are responsible for the care of all the animals year round,” said Martin, “with the help of our volunteers, we have staff on site 24/7.”

Staff and volunteers are less likely to be available to spend their time at the shelter during the busy holiday season.  With more animals arriving every day, every shelter has a strategy for coping with those hectic holiday shifts.

“For holidays during the time when we are open (like Thanksgiving) we have volunteers who take care of the cats and kittens,” said Sweet, “Each of our volunteers signs up for one night a week to come in and clean, feed and pet the cats.”

Homeward Pet always tries their hardest to tend to all the animals equally during winter, even though the staff is working less hours.

“Our fabulous staff and volunteers continue to care for the animals even over the holidays,” said Inglis, “While we do work shorter hours, we make sure each dog and cat have clean kennels, water, and two meals each day.  The dogs still get walks and the cats get lots of cuddles…they too, deserve to celebrate the holidays!”

Though the shelter works as hard as it can to accommodate as many animals as possible, it is often tough for them to keep up.  However, these two facilities have opted to be completely “no kill” shelters, meaning that animal euthanasia is out of the question under any circumstances.

“Kitty Harbor is a completely no kill shelter. We keep our cats until they find a home. The only time we have to put animals to sleep is when they are seriously ill with an incurable illness,” said Sweet, “This only happens about one or two times a year. We are lucky to work with local vets to get many life saving surgeries for low cost and save cats that would be put to sleep at other shelters.”

Along with Kitty Harbor, Homeward Pet and Pasado’s are also both no-kill facilities, except in extreme circumstances like an incurable disease that causes pain to the animal.

AHS students can help out at shelters by simply signing up to be a volunteer to take care of the animals, giving donations, adopting pets, or even offering to foster animals.

More information is available at:


Red Cups Raise Red Flags

Juniors Chris Morrell and Merrick Opdyke pretend to experience the hazards of drinking and driving, Photo by Gabby Rivera

DUIs, vehicular homicide, minors in possession, police interventions–because the access to alcohol is easy, teen drinking is an expected problem over the holidays.

As the holidays approach, the likelihood of underage drinking increases. Although it is illegal for minors to be in possession of alcohol, it doesn’t stop them from getting hold of the intoxicants. Some teens get it from older siblings or friends while others can easily break into their parents’ liquor cabinets. There are also the teenagers that try to buy it themselves, and the store either fails to check their age or just lets the minor walk away with the alcohol.

“I don’t think it’s appropriate,” says Aviation freshman Bridget Heiland, “it’s underage and there can be a lot of deaths caused in that instance.”

In 2006, an estimated 17, 602 people died in alcohol-related traffic crashes–that’s an average of one every thirty minutes. A national survey conducted by National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports 23% of teenage drivers involved in fatal car crashes possessed a blood-alcohol concentration level above the adult legal limit of .08 on the breathalyzer test.

When students drink, sometimes they don’t realize the trouble they could get into. At Aviation High School, the students have the opportunity to learn about the effects of underage drinking.

“We do talk about teen drinking,” says Aviation High School health teacher Garrett Shiroma, “so they’re more aware of the effects and the lasting effects or the repercussions of what they possibly do when they are under the influence of alcohol.”

State law requires  high schools’ health curriculum to teach the consequences of teen drinking, such as damage to the liver and the brain. People who drink at a younger age are three times as likely to become alcoholics. Other than the effects drinking has on the body, teens could run into major trouble when caught by the police.

When a minor is caught drinking and driving, their licenses can get revoked, there can be an increase in their auto insurance rates or even denial of insurance coverages. If caught again, their car can be taken away by authorities, as well as  the loss or suspension of their license. In some cases they can earn jail time, hefty fines, community service hours and a criminal record, which limits the student’s future job opportunities. Depending on the situation, a combination of these punishments would be given to the teen.

“Law enforcement as a whole takes holiday drinking very seriously,” says Seattle Police Department officer Joel Nark. “Starting about right now [they]put a DUI task force together that will work every night between now and January 2nd.”

Police realize that teens drink alcohol when they should not be. During the holiday season, they set up more patrols, party interventions, and officers to ensure the safety of the roads.

“These officers are highly trained in DUI enforcement,” said Nark.  “Most departments in the Puget Sound region do this. Many of the smaller jurisdictions will combine resources. You will also notice a state wide ad program on radio and T.V. concerning the consequences of driving drunk (i.e. “Drive hammered…Get nailed!” slogan).”

They also advise teens that end up drinking to not get in the car if the driver shows any sign of being “buzzed.”  It would be best for everyone to call a safe ride.

Underage drinking is a serious issue. Many adult figures realize this, but fail to notice that they, themselves can be the influence that leads to drinking. When adults drink alcohol in front of student it doesn’t show the consequences that drinking has.

“My parents invite friends over and they all have wine,” said Aviation freshman Moritz Wienke, “I’m around it and everything, but I just don’t pay attention to it.”

However, some teens do not understand the maturity level some adults have reached that allows them to drink. Other teenagers would think that parents drinking in front of them is like a free pass allowing them to do so. However, some adults have not reached this maturity level either. Plenty of adults get caught for DUIs and become alcoholics,  and oftentimes teens don’t see the negative effects that alcohol can have on adults and teens alike.

“While I don’t even pretend to believe that I can control what my children or others teens chose to do, I can lead by example,” said parent of an Aviation freshman, Tami Warnes, “I feel it is my obligation as a parent to set the example that I wish my children to follow – not drinking myself if I hope to have my children avoid alcohol use as well.  Beyond that, it is ultimately up to each person to chose the life he/she wishes to live.”

There are many decisions to consider and elements to think about when teens are given the opportunity to drink at holiday parties. For teens, it is illegal to be drinking in the first place, so they should not be doing it. If, however, they take a few sips, police recommend to get a ride instead of driving themselves. This is not just for their safety, but also to keep other drivers safe.

Weathering Bad Weather

Tools for survival, Photo by Austin McHenry

Every winter, many people fall victim to a plethora of problems caused by the cold, snow and winds. This risk can be minimized by creating a kit that can help in the event of an emergency.

Though specifics vary, the general concept is to create a kit that will allow you to stay safe in the event of an emergency. This kit includes items such as non-perishable food, a first-aid kit, a battery operated radio, water, and a ways to stay warm (such as blankets and/or extra clothes).

Keeping kits in multiple locations, such as your car, a shed or at work, is a reasonable precaution, as a kit stored in a house won’t do much good if the house is inaccessible. In addition, kits should be portable in case an evacuation is required.

Since bad weather can hit at any time, it is important to be prepared at home, at work and on the road. These kits can be useful year round, not just during the winter.

I have kits with emergency supplies at home, in my car, and at my workplace. Every member of my family has a kit in their car,” said City of Renton Emergency Management Coordinator Mindi Mattson[a]. “The nice thing about preparing for emergencies and disasters is that supplies you store for one type of disaster are typically useful for all types of disasters, so I wouldn’t call my kits ‘winter’ kits. They are ‘all-hazards’ kits.”

A program called Take Winter By Storm is working to increase awareness of the hazards posed by rain, wind, snow, and all other symptoms of a bad winter. Their suggestions go beyond just making a kit. They also recommend staying up to date with the weather forecast, and making and practicing a safety plan with your family or others that are close to you. More information can be found at

Being prepared for bad weather isn’t just a matter of looking out for yourself, it’s also a matter of responsibility to the community.

“If you are not prepared to be self-reliant and take care of your own needs, you will need someone else to take care of you,said Mattson[a]. ”You become part of the problem instead of being part of the solution. It takes so little time and effort to put together a basic disaster supplies kit and the benefit can be so great in a time of need.”

Though many of the components of an emergency kit are common sense, several are less intuitive. Take Winter By Storm recommends having some cash available, as well as copies of important documents. Preparing for an emergenciesthat cause complete lack of access to one’s house is the best way to maximize preparedness. In addition to a standard first aid-kit, it is recommended that kits contain at least a seven day supply of any prescription medications used by any family members.

In terms of amounts for making a kit, supplies should be enough to last for about three days. Take Winter By Storm advises one gallon of clean water per person per day, and food that is ready to eat without preparation.

Taking the time to set up a kit is worth the small effort in the long run. Personal safety and the safety of one’s family is important, and should be treated as such.

Many AHS students can feel the effects of bad weather more than others due to their unusually long commutes.

“I live on a hill, so when it rains or snows it really sucks,” said AHS student Paula Cieszkiewicz. ”I can’t get anywhere and since I take the Metro, when Metro is screwed up my whole commute is screwed up and it’s not much easier to take a car and go to Highline [High School] or Aviation. It screws everything up.”

Even though they aren’t the heads of their households, AHS students should still encourage their

“It sounds like something that wouldn’t be too difficult,” said Cieszkiewicz. “Taking simple action to do something that could be potentially critical in a pinch would be nice.”

It’s easy to put something off until it is too late for it to be useful. Making a kit is relatively easy and can put your mind at ease.

“I wish I did have the perfect words to convince people of the importance of being prepared,” said Mattson. “No one likes to think about bad things happening, but I can tell you that I sleep better at night knowing that my family has emergency kits and a plan to get through it.”

Stand Up

AHS needs more student voice and advocacy – the ASB can and should take on some of this important work, but the rest is up to you.

Currently, AHS’s student government focuses primarily on social events. The ASB only serves in a social role, such as organizing dances, assemblies, and pep rallies. However, this group – and the student body as a whole – could be doing so much more. At the John F. Kennedy Catholic High School in Burien, the student government includes a student council. This council sets a goal each year of something it wants to change or improve at the school. Last year, they wanted to change their dress code, and after talking to other schools, they decided what  they wanted to change and why. The council presented to the faculty, and succeeded in getting their school’s administration to change the policy.

While students at AHS have to accept that the dress code isn’t going to be changing anytime soon, that doesn’t mean that they can’t change or improve other things around the school. Don’t forget that students have voices, too, and if they want changes to be made, they have to speak up.

At some schools, the ASB sends student representatives to listen in on school board meetings. Even if they’re not actually part of the decision-making process, students still may be able to raise concerns or at least know what’s going to happen ahead of time. As student presence at such meetings grows and becomes the norm, the administration would become more open to suggestions from the student representatives. The National Council of the Social Studies even outlines this student council function in their official guidelines for student governance, stating that student council members should ‘serve as substantive decision-making bodies at the school… where students’ interests are at stake.” 

Students sometimes feel left out of the loop when it comes to school policies and decisions. However, the administration might not intentionally be excluding students from participating in or at least observing the everyday running of the school. The adults can’t be expected to insist on student representatives sitting in on major decisions; the students have to ask to attend themselves.

A student presence at decision-making meetings is particularly important now, as AHS begins planning to make the move to the Museum of Flight campus. How are discipline problems going to be solved on Museum grounds–by AHS policies or by Museum security and local law enforcement? Are students going to be allowed access to the Museum archives? How is AHS going to deal with visitors from the Museum who want to see what’s going on in the classes? Those problems are going to get tackled eventually, and when they do, the student body should make sure someone is speaking up for them.

Having a voice doesn’t just mean speaking up to the administration, though. It also means advocating for oneself within one’s peer group.

Closer to home, one way of having a voice now is to start an ombudsman board––a neutral party that gives students a voice and can act as a mediator between members of a group. The communication can be between two ordinary members of the group, or between an ordinary member and an authority figure. Ombudsman boards are already used in colleges, labor unions, and hospitals, just to name a few.

AHS’s small school environment means that the student body doesn’t have access to the normal groups that advocate for students, such as a gay-straight alliance or student groups based on ethnicity. The ombudsman board would be able to serve as all those groups rolled into one. For example: girls at AHS have complained of feeling objectified by the male majority; an ombudsman board could call attention to the problem. Regardless of whether the objectification is deliberate, someone needs to speak up in order for the problem to go away.

An ombudsman board would also serve as a way to open up the lines of communication between teacher and student. As many teachers have remarked, students seem to have trouble asking for help. They may be intimidated by the teacher, or their pride might be getting in the way. Getting a mediator to ask a question anonymously would help relieve the anxiety a student might feel about approaching a teacher. As a result, students would be able to get help on assignments much easier. It might even save some grades.

Also, if a student struggles with the way a class is being taught, they can request the ombudsman board to ask the teacher to help them work out some individual accommodations as a last resort. The ombudsmen could help the teacher and the student work out a way that will make learning easier while still imparting the necessary information.

However, the ombudsmen aren’t going to act as the sounding board for whiny students. Just because someone dislikes a teacher doesn’t mean they can use the ombudsman board to harass the teacher. Part of the board’s duties would include sorting through appeals to make sure that no bogus argument gets through. Standards or criteria would have to be made in order to establish what is a legitimate concern or just whiny students.

Don’t look to the administration to provide ombudsmen; that isn’t their job. They already have their plates full with running the school and securing funding. Instead, look to yourselves. Out of four hundred students, there has to be someone brave enough to stand up and make a change. After all, if we won’t speak up for ourselves, no one will.

Running your Phoenix Five (K)

This issue, the Phoenix Five challenges you to complete the Seattle 12K’s of Christmas (and 5K Run/Walk) Holiday Run. The run starts at Kirkland’s Marina Park, on Sunday, December 18, 2011. This run benefits foster children,  most of whom don’t have the money for the things we take for granted, such as school supplies and toys. Money raised by the run will be donated for music lessons, help in school, sports involvement, and other extracurricular activities.

By completing the 12K’s of Christmas run/walk, you can contribute to a good cause, get a workout and shed those pounds left over from Thanksgiving dinner, and can register the time spent running the 5k as PE hours.

For those of you who don’t want to make the 12k run, here’s some things you can do at the event instead:

1. Try the 5k run/walk instead. You don’t have to be going at a run the whole time–in fact, you could even walk the whole way– and the distance is shorter. You still contribute money and energy to a good cause, but you don’t have to exhaust yourself.

2.  Volunteer to hand out water and snacks to the runners, and cheer them on. Running–even walking– a 5k is hard work! Show your support by making the going easier for the brave souls who make the attempt.

3. Donate at least $5 to the charity. Even if you don’t run, you can still make a contribution to a good cause.

4. If you don’t want to run, bring your younger siblings to run in the Kid’s Dash. The race is only 1 kilometer long, and it’s free. Buy your little sibling a shirt ($10) to support the foster kids.

5. Spread the word! If nothing else, get others to contribute. Post on Facebook, tell your more athletically-minded friends, put up posters–make sure everyone knows that they can help out, too.

Remember, the 12K’s of Christmas is only one of the many charity runs that are held throughout the year. If you can’t do this particular run, participate in another – check the Phoenix Five for ideas! Information on the 12K’s of Christmas can be found at this address:

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An Alaska Airlines 737 at Boeing Field

Taking it to the MAX

An Alaska Airlines 737 at Boeing Field
An Alaska Airlines 737 at Boeing Field; Boeing has selected Renton as the location for the new 737 MAX factory, Photo by Jacob Hoag

The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers is scheduled to vote December 7th that will create a four year contract for Boeing workers.  The new contract will include an “annual pay raise of 2 percent and cost-of-living adjustments, an incentive program tied to bonuses of between 2 and 4 percent,” reports AIN Online.  

When Boeing announced the new 737 MAX this August, the search for the perfect location to manufacture their new airliner was narrowed down to three cities, including Renton.

The Boeing 737 was first introduced in 1967, and has dominated the commercial airplane market.  There have been eight versions since the original 737-100.

The short-range small-capacity Boeing jets have sold remarkably well since the beginning of the Jet Age.  The 737 is the best selling jet airliner in aviation history, closely followed by the Airbus A320 family. The next generation, dubbed the 737 MAX, promises to further surpass Airbus in the short-range market.

To the untrained eye, the 737 and the A320 might seem indistinguishable.  However, there are many design differences.  The new LEAP 1B engines promise to help Boeing catch up to the Airbus A320neo that outsold the 737 at this year’s Paris Airshow.

Initially, there was a big controversy surrounding this new aircraft–specifically the location where it would be manufactured.  Currently, 737s are built in Renton, and then flown out to Paine Field in Everett for final mechanical modifications.  In their August press conference, Boeing announced that they were thinking about moving the MAX factory from the Seattle area to a new location.

After Boeing unexpectedly moved the 787 line to South Carolina in 2009, the mere suggestion of another manufacturing plant location change is being taken very seriously in Northwest Washington.  Boeing is one of the largest economic powerhouses in the Seattle area.  After losing the second 787 line, losing the 737 MAX production would have severely harmed Washington State’s economy.

“Each dollar is really three or four dollars, because it gets spent three or four times,” said Aviation High School economics teacher, Dr. Michael Katims.  “Now that [the Boeing employees] just got paid they feel like they can take in a movie; they stop at Starbucks for some coffee, and then that person at Starbucks stops in somewhere and spends money, so the money just keeps moving.”

This movement of money is what doubles and triples its value.  If Boeing took away this source of money, then the flow would stop, starving other businesses that rely on Boeing employees as customers.

“It has a huge ripple effect,” said Katims.  “If you move a few thousand jobs out of state, then you’re going to move a few doctors out of state; you’re going to move a few service employees out of state; you’re going to need fewer gas stations and fewer grocery stores and dry cleaners.”

Currently, Boeing employs about 79,000 people in the state of Washington.  If these jobs moved to another state, employees would be forced to either relocate to another state or lose their jobs, forcing Washington’s unemployment rates to skyrocket.

In order to prevent such a disaster, Governor Christine Gregoire assembled a special team of city council members and attorneys to help keep Boeing a Washington company.

Taylor Washburn, a prominent attorney at Foster Pepper law firm, was selected to be the chairman of the group, dubbed “Project Pegasus.”

Washburn said that if Washington did not get the factory, the economic effects would have been “very significant if it displaced Renton–up to 20,000 jobs.”

Initially, people were worried that Renton would not have the space to accomodate the new line, but Washburn said that they “understand Renton can accommodate a larger number of 737s.”  Had there not been enough space, other options in Washington would have had to be considered.

Grant County has been campaigning to bring the factory to Moses Lake.  If it was not possible to build it in Renton, that would be another option to keep Boeing in Washington.  Washburn said that it would be possible to build it there, or at alternate sites in Washington State, “but this would be a major capital investment.”

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Optimus Prime making a NASA spin-off video of his own.

NASA’s Transformative Video Contest

Optimus Prime making a NASA spin-off video of his own.
Optimus Prime making a NASA spin-off video of his own, Illustration by Sopheaktra Dahn

Students must pick which technology they wish to make a video about through NASA’s annual Spinoff publication which focuses on the successes of the previous year. Students have the opportunity this year to make videos about everything from energy-efficient systems which eliminate icing dangers for UAVs, to bacteria that provide cleanup for oil spills.

An Optimus Prime Spinoff trophy will be awarded for winning individual submissions and group submissions will get plaques with the individuals names. Also, Peter Cullen, the voice of Optimus Prime, will be there along with NASA VIPs and other celebrities who have yet to be named.

In addition, some new prizes this year will be free trips to Space Camp as well as free passes to the Kenn


edy Visitor Center Complex and possible scholarships for exemplary work. Last year the contest was held in Colorado, but the location has changed to Kennedy Space Center this year because it gives NASA more flexibility to expand the content of the awards ceremony NASA has also built a new website dedicated to this contest that is easy to navigate.

“NASA is busy compiling a repository of NASA pictures and videos that the students can access without having to worry about infringing someone’s copyright,” said Mitchell. “We are actually partnering with the US Patent & Trademark Office to provide content on patents, copyright and trademark issues.”

The bar is being raised for high school students this year, so it is necessary to demonstrate an adequate understanding of how the technology is being used by NASA and the spinoff partner alike. 

“I would advise anyone thinking of entering to focus on understanding the spinoff technology and coming up with a creative way to present the story,” said Mitchell.

Also, do not get too hung-up on creative special effects, as many submissions last year tried with different degrees of success.

Hasbro, the company that own the rights to TRANSFORMERS, is supporting this program because they and NASA share similar ideals.

“There are a lot of common values that connect the character Optimus Prime with NASA,” said the director of the contest Darryl Mitchell. “Both are focused on honor, integrity, knowledge, the pursuit of excellence and looking toward a brighter future.” 

Hasbro is also supporting this contest because it not only educates students, but encourages creativity as well. The goal of this program is to help students understand the benefits of the different NASA technologies that benefit them in their daily lives.

“One of the primary goals of the contest is to raise awareness,” said Mitchell, “of how NASA spin-off technologies impact our daily lives.”

Last year, students in grades three through eight were allowed to compete, and this year the contest administrators are adding high school students into the running.

Approximately 190 students in thirty-one different states submitted seventy-six different videos last year. The videos themselves were three to five minutes in length.

This year, the deadline for registration is January 3, 2012 with January 17, 2012 being the last day for video submissions. Voting for the winner of this contest falls to the public, and then NASA evaluators will select and announce the winners in the first week of March.

Judging will be similar to other years in that it will be a two step process. First, the public will have the opportunity to vote for their favorite submission online. Then, the top five videos in each category will advance through the final round where a NASA panel will rank them and pick the winners.

Judging for the winners is based upon three categories: understanding, persuasiveness, and originality. Once the winners are announced, they will receive unique prizes. In each grade category, the winning submissions group leader and parent will be sponsored by NASA to attend the Optimus Prime Spinoff Award ceremony at the Kennedy Space Center.

The winning videos for grades three through five were created by Juliana Sanchez, Samantha Herrod, Isaliz Gonzalez, and Grace Romano, who are four students at the Union Park Elementary school in Orlando, Florida. The video was based on a story from NASA’s Spinoff 2009 publication called “Fabrics Protect Sensitive Skin from UV Rays.” It is about how NASA technology used in clothing helps to protect the wearer’s skin against exposure to harmful ultraviolet rays.

The winner for grades six through eight sixth was based on the 2009 Spinoff story originating from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.  which was  how “Star-Mapping Tools Enable Tracking of Endangered Animals.” It is about how a star-mapping algorithm used on the Hubble Space Telescope is helping scientists track endangered animals.

For more information go to 


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Get Ready for the Snowpocalypse

Illustration by Madeline Warnes

Last year King and surrounding counties had many transportation issues caused by too much snow and too little preparation. This year county officials aim to prepare better.

According to the Seattle Government website, the area around Seattle normally does not get that much snow.  However, last year there was an abundance of snow, which threw off the plan of the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT).

In the ‘Thanksgiving storm’ last year, the snow and ice hit earlier than predicted and was about 10 degrees colder than predicted,” WSDOT communications employee, Alice Fiman, stated.  “We hope with the new coastal radar there is more information on incoming storms. But, when snow and ice hit during heavy commute hours in urban areas, it’s always a challenge.”

The transportation system all over the Seattle area were delayed and cancelled for days after the initial snow.

“I have to take five buses to get from my home to the U-district,” said University of Washington student, Ira Chizhova.

Chizhova had trouble getting to and from school on the days that the snow was worst.

“The first day it snowed I could not get home by bus, so instead I had to take Light Rail,” said Chizhova.  “As the consequence of that I was stuck in huge traffic jam after leaving the station. It took about hour and a half to get home.”

Chizhova had signed up for the Metro Public Transport emergency alert system that was supposed to keep members aware of any bus cancellations.  The morning that she had to go to school, Chizhova checked her email for any alerts.  Finding none, she proceed to leaving her house and continuing on with her day as normal.  Unfortunately, there were still problems to come with the transportation that morning. 

I spent an hour waiting for my bus to show up, which was supposed to be, according to the schedule, at 7:50,” said Chizhova.  “I got on another bus and eventually after three hours of being freezing cold made it to Seattle.” 

Metro had many problems over the course of the snow.  Videos from last year show a Metro bus sliding down a hill because of the ice on the road. Also, as the snow started in the afternoon, Metro drivers were trapped on their routes, having to wait for hours until help could come.  Cars and buses were backed up, stuck and abandoned all over roads as the snow persisted.  The next day, there were delays in routes as the buses had to drive slower than usual.

“I was only affected slightly because I work in the mornings, so I wasn’t out when the snow hit,” explained Metro bus driver Ryan Warnes.  “But the day that the snow hit, the afternoon drivers were unprepared and got stuck and no one could come and help them because there were just too many people out.  So the drivers and passengers were stuck for hours in the buses.”

After the initial shock of the snow the mechanics at Metro had the buses chained up by the next route.  This did cause delays.  While driving with chains, buses can only travel at a maximum speed of 30 mph.  This is a problem as many freeways and other roads that buses drive on go much faster than that.  Also, after the snow was found to be a problem, Metro resorted routes made special in the case of a issue such as this.  These so-called snow routes take care to avoid large hills and other areas of potential incidents.

The snow affected people at AHS as well.  As the snow hit after students and staff were already at school, both had trouble getting home that afternoon.  It took some time for the district to decide when and how the students would get home.  Those with cars were allowed to leave early, but everyone else had to wait at school for the district to decide what to do.  Students were told that they would be let out at noon; however, AHS students were later told that they were going to have to wait until two.

“The snow day was horrible…it seemed to me was that the district was more concerned in how much time students spend at school rather than how safe they are in getting home,” said AHS senior, Jared Sharp.  “But in hindsight, the district had to stagger the schools because we just don’t have any extra buses to handle every student at once. 

As the staff have cars of their own, they too were allowed to leave early.  Unfortunately, roads around the school were blocked by stuck cars, as well as being covered in snow and ice.

Karen Wilson, an Algebra teacher at AHS, left later than than other staff.  She started heading home on 200th Street but was soon met with a problem on one of the hills.

It got really bad and a bunch of cars were starting to stop on the hill leading up the prison,” Wilson said.  “I knew if I stopped, I was doomed.”

After that Wilson turned around and drove toward the airport, hoping to make it over the hill by the golf course.  She made it and continued on in her journey.

“The snow was actually sparser as you went further south, so the driving got easier and I was able to get on I-5 and drive home safely,” Wilson said, “about 15 minutes after I got home, the big snow hit us.  So, I feel like I made it just in time!

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Election Results Are In

Political Comic
Illustration by Madeline Warnes

 After a voting season focusing on many complex and significant issues like I-1125 and I-1183, the results are in, and it is time to learn what issues passed or failed, and how these results will affect the students at AHS. Initiative 1125 was a proposed initiative regarding the spending of money collected through car tabs and tolls. Intitiative 1183 was an initiative that proposed privatizing liquor sales in Washington State.

Although the recent election was not as significant as say, a presidential election, several issues that effect the state greatly were put on the ballot. These issues included Initiative 1125, and Initiative 1183.

I-1125 was a significant issue in the recent election. This initiative was put forward by Tim Eyman, a regular fixture in Washington State elections. “[Tim Eyman] is notorious for making generally terrible initiatives,” says Aviation High School Junior Jake Hecla.

This initiative in particular focuses on how the state is allowed to spend money that it collects from gas taxes, car taxes, and tolls.

According to this initiative, the state should not be allowed to spend money that is collected through gas taxes or tolls on any other projects than the transportation projects that they had been declared for.

The initiative was intended to prevent the state from using road tolls to become an easy way for the state to earn money.

“Tolls are a user fee,” say the I-1125 opponents in the 2011 State of Washington Voters Pamphlet, “people only pay for what they use. That’s fairer than raising taxes on everyone – or diverting limited resources – to fund critical projects.”

These “critical projects” could include construction projects such as the 520 Bridge, Interstate 405. These are major roadways in the the Puget Sound area that are vital to Washington commuters. “If I-405 closed, it would add probably an extra half hour to my commute,” says AHS Junior Jake Hecla.

Many companies such as Microsoft and Boeing have been strongly opposed to this initiative because of its restrictive nature.

“We count on safe roads to get to and from work, but [Initiative] 1125 will stall critical road safety improvements,” Boeing’s vice president for manufacturing Ross Bogue and Jim Bearden of Machinists’ Lodge 751 said in a Boeing sponsored radio ad opposing I-1125, “That’s why The Boeing Company and Aerospace Machinists strongly oppose Initiative 1125.”

Boeing in particular has been an ardent supporter of Aviation High School. Their support and generous funding has allowed the school to take huge steps in establishing itself and earning the money needed to build the new school.

“The direct effect on the students would be minimal unless it caused backlash in industry along the lines of Boeing or other large aerospace or technology companies in the area,” says Hecla, “If it caused issues with them then it would directly effect the public especially the school because we are so heavily funded by Boeing.”

This initiative fought a close battle but ended up not passing by about two percent of the vote.

The issue of I-1183 has also been well publicized throughout the entire voting process with ads on television, radio and other forms of media.

The initiative,which put forth the possibility of the state privatizing liquor sales, passed on November 8 with nearly a twenty percent lead. With the passing of this initiative, it will make it so that liquor can be sold in grocery stores and other large retailers, like Costco. The passing of this initiative has been the cause of concern for many Washington residents.

“Having more liquor around leads to more temptation for teenagers…to drink more,” says AHS Junior Jenni Luoma, “When [people] buy liquor, they don’t [always] take into account the consequences for it.”

Students have also had differing opinions on what the outcomes of the passing of this initiative could be.

“I would vote to pass the initiative because I think that our current system for dealing with alcohol is wasteful,” stated former AHS student Jason Bonham, “The system we have [had] in place spends government money where it should not be spent, in the distribution not enforcement of alcohol sales. If the stores were put in charge of selling liquor there would be virtually no repercussions.”

This initiative has been the result of an intense battle between State Emergency Response forces and the Washington Restaurant Association. These two factions have been fighting a brutal advertising war for the past several months.

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