New Sheriff in Town

The doors of the hallway opened, letting the cold air into the already cold hallway of a run down school building and in walked a man with a badge. It was the new school assistant administrator and leader of STEM Leadership, Bruce Kelly.

Attracted to Aviation because of its status as a lighthouse school and a project based school, Kelly is very excited to be the new administrator at Aviation High School.

“I knew I was really deeply connected to the theory of action around student learning here,” explained Kelly, “I am a math and science person, I taught math and science for 21 years. I was a project based teacher. I was actually missing students.”

Mr. Bruce Kelly has had an interest in the aviation industry since he was a young boy. His father had his private pilot’s license and took Kelly along with him when he flew.

“My dad let me take the controls of his personal plane every time we flew together,” Kelly commented, “The views and destinations were interesting.”


As he grew up, Kelly’s father wanted him to be a commercial pilot, because then he could enjoy the perks that his son would receive by being a pilot, like discounts on flights. Though Kelly enjoyed the times flying in the airplane with his father, his interests took him in a different direction than being a pilot.

“…I did not enjoy sitting so much, and thought about other options,” Kelly said.

While in high school, Kelly learned about discipline from participating in his high school’s Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (AFJROTC) program.  He gained respect for the tradition and sacrifice of the Air Force there, which has stayed with him to this day.

“By nature, I have always remembered being a disciplined person,” said Kelly, “AFJROTC provided a structure to reinforce a disciplined life and also assume a leadership responsibilities… AFJROTC showed me the importance of others to recognize your strengths and the power of mentoring.”

This sense of responsibility and a love of academics would eventually lead him away from the world of aviation to pursue a career in teaching high school students.

“As far back as I can remember, I liked science and mathematics. In 6th grade, I received a telescope and became very animated with the chance to observe and explore our solar system,” Kelly explained, “The inquiry side of science and the precision of mathematics has always been personally appealing.”

He spent twenty-one years teaching high school students a variety of STEM classes, science and math specifically, in three different Washington state school districts.

“Teaching science and mathematics for 21 years to help students understand and be successful was very much a rewarding time,” Kelly explained.

From teaching, Kelly became a district level administrator for the Kent School District overseeing programs such as the K-12 science program and the Health/Fitness program. Prior to serving in Kent he was involved in the Educational Service District in Olympia, where he first heard about Aviation High School.

“Reba, about four or five years ago, brought down a handful of Aviation students to make a presentation…it was like a STEM summit,” Kelly said, “The students were just presenting culminating projects and I just thought ‘Now that…that is pretty amazing.’”

Four to five years later, Kelly found a job opening at Aviation High School – the position that Scott McComb vacated just last year to return to teaching at Aviation High School as the freshman Physical Science teacher and the main coach for Science Olympiad.

“I thought I would like to explore that, I really would,” Kelly said, “And so I emailed Ms. Gilman… ‘I saw the posting, I would love to come over, interview some students, talk to some staff members.  Could you arrange a tour for me?’ And she did.”

Kelly hopes to end his career at Aviation High School, he plans on staying for a long time compared to other administrators AHS have had in the past. Aviation High School has had six school administrators since the start of the school in 2004.  All of the old administrators only stayed a year or two before continuing their careers.

“This year marks my 27th year in education and I started thinking about where I would like to end my professional career.” Kelly explained. “It was a risk to leave the successful initiatives with my former school district and join Aviation High School.  However, I believe I made the right move and AHS is where I want to finish my professional career.”

Gaming on the Go

Mobile gaming is on the rise, there is no doubt about that. Companies like Halfbrick, Pop Cap, and Infinity Ward have been so successful on mobile devices, like iPhone and Android, that they have decided to take their games and recreate them for consoles, like Xbox and PS3.

One of the newer game companies to expand is Halfbrick, has have taken their iPhone success Fruit Ninja and recreated it for the Xbox Kinect. There have been subtle improvements to the graphics and the way it’s played, but the overall game-play has been unaffected. Players still slice fruit to get points, and attempt to beat your friends’ scores, only now you use our entire body instead of just your fingers.

“I prefer the Kinect version because it is has more to do,” says Aviation High School gamer Max Rose, who has played both versions of the game, “In Fruit Ninja for the phone your hand blocked the screen when you’re trying to play, so that is a downside to it. On Kinect, you get a lot more freedom of movement and they [the Xbox] have a shadow in the background so it is easier to see where you are cutting. Overall I like it a lot better than the mobile version.”

One game that made it big on the iPhone and is now on the Android OS (operating system) is Plants vs Zombies. After its PC and Mac release it was made for mobile devices and then later released onto consoles due to its success. Game play has stayed similar throughout the game, without any significant changes. Players still fight off waves of zombies using plants of various types that have different abilities. The only big difference between renditions is the controls. With iPhone and Android players use their fingers, on the console they use the controller to select what they want to do, and on computer they use a point-and-click method.

The Nintendo DS is considered a mobile gaming platform, but many gamers don’t enjoy carrying it around because of its weight. This is one of the many reasons that console games haven’t made a DS rendition. Also, many of the games on the DS require use of the touch screen, and unlike the iPhone, the DS touch screen is separated from the other controls. The touch screen isn’t easy to access on the device, unlike mainly touch screen based devices.

The PSP (PlayStation portable) is another mobile gaming platform that is liked among gamers, but like the DS, it is slightly clunky and hard to take with you. It’s wider than the DS, and the analogue stick sticks out and makes it a tough fit within your pocket.

Big console games have done the opposite, making a mobile counterpart. One game that hit it big on consoles was Dead Space, a survival horror game whose game play closely mimicked that of the fourth Resident Evil game. The publisher, EA, decided that it would be an interesting venture to create a version of the game play for iPhone. The plot of the game is a spin off of the console game’s plot however, so the game provides something new for fans of the series.

“I feel that if done properly, an iOS game can be even more immersive than something you play on console or PC,” said the game’s producer Nikhil Dighe to, “This comes from the advantages of a touchscreen held only inches from your face, but since you’re playing on a touchscreen, you are almost directly interacting with the game environment. So if a Necromorph [enemies in the game] grabs you, you have to swipe and tap on it in order to save yourself. This can be a lot more intense than watching events unfold on a big screen while pressing buttons on the controller in your hand.”

Exploring The Catacombs of SeaTac

Deep within a major international airport lies a world unseen.

Within in the food court of SeaTac International Airport is a pair of double doors with a simple sign on it; “Authorized Personnel Only.”  Curiously, there is no lock on these doors, and no security officers present.  Just a single bubble cam in the corner.  Through these doors is a massive freight elevator.  Underneath the ticketing level lay two more full levels unseen to most.  One for storage for the companies as well as a loading dock.

Boasting a 45,000 lb weight capacity, the massive elevator will take you down to these levels.  On the very bottom level is the where the supplies for the franchises are kept.  The sign on this door is a little more daunting; “WARNING Restricted Area Authorized Personnel Only…Subject to Arrest and Prosecution”.

There is also a mezzanine level just above the ticketing level.  An unlocked door leading to a pair of stairs.  Up on this level are the offices for many of the franchises operating at the airport.  There is also a huge Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Credentials Office, where all crew and employees get certified.  But here comes the weird part.  Not far from the Credentials Office is a full auditorium with theater seating.  There is also a large glass-walled chapel up on this level.  The door to the mezzanine level is before any security checkpoints.  That means that people can literally walk in from the streets and have access to any of these places.

Behind the scenes of the airport are major operations invisible to the public.  The airport itself is a hugely complex economic entity.  Thousands of employees of dozens professions work at the airport every single day.  With millions of patrons every single day, the airport requires these thousands of employees to keep things running smoothly.

As with any entity this large, comes this brings some serious economic complexity.  And as a system funded by public money, it raises the question of necessity.  Certain aspects of the airport are obvious, the qualities that define it as a transportation hub.  But others are not so clear, like a full auditorium and chapel.  It would not be surprising to hear of patrons having problems with this situation.  In a hurting economy, everyone’s wallets are tight.  One begins to wonder to what other areas that money could have been delegated.

These concerns begin to arise in people once they realize just how complex the airport really is.  “I think that it’s a complete waste of tax money,” said Max Wienke, a Junior at Aviation High School, “it’s not necessary.”

The complexity continues with the business side of the airport.  Along with being a transportation hub, it is also a hub center for business.  Very rarely do you have so many different people moving through a single location.  Max Heigh is the owner of Deli, a local clothing store in downtown Seattle.  He and his family also own three different restaurant locations at SeaTac.  There is one Great American Bagel and Bakery location in the A-Concourse, another in the D-Concourse, and Bigfoot Wine and Spirits in North Satellite.

There is a hierarchy amongst employees at the airport, different positions carry different levels of security clearance.  “As an employer, the TSA provided very specific guidelines for us to follow,” said Heigh.  As a subsidiary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), they carry serious powers of prosecution.

As an employee, they had a relatively rigorous registration process.  I had to provide proof of birth and identity as well as get fingerprinted.  It was a requirement that I sign a form releasing my information from the Social Security Admistration (SSA) to the DHS.

SeaTac’s groundbreaking was on 2 January, 1943.  All this information begs the question, did they have the vision for this complexity almost seven decades in the past?  It’s hard to believe that the initial million dollars dedicated to the project has grown and evolved into the multimillion dollar entity that we see today.

AHS Takes Flight as Ground Breaks

In August 23, ground broke for the new Aviation High School. This milestone event, however, is only the beginning, as new opportunities for students start to become realities.

“We have been at this for eight years,” says AHS principal Reba Gilman, “trying to raise the funds from the State of Washington, from the federal government and from private sources, to build the school.”

The fact that this event has finally occurred has left many of those who have been involved in the school happy and excited for the future.

“My first thought was: Finally,” said former Aviation High School student Natalie Nason, “Pure and simple, this crazy thing we helped start is really a reality.”

Other than giving the school an actual home, the goal of having this new and permanent school has been to strengthen the school’s relationship with the Museum of Flight and be located in close proximity to more than 200 aviation-related business that operate around Boeing Field. Being co-located with the Museum will allow the school to develop many new learning opportunities for students at AHS as well as students from across the State who frequent the Museum of Flight.

“To be co-located with the Museum of Flight, there will be some things that, perhaps, will be done differently,” says Gilman, “One of the things that we have talked about with the Museum is how can we develop some programming for our students, where we share facilities, and combine our intellectual and technical expertise to develop a premier model of STEM education that can be modeled throughout the entire country… I think that it will be exciting to figure out what curriculum can look like to prepare you all for education and careers that perhaps we don’t even know about right now.”

The location of the school will open up so many opportunities by placing students right in the middle of the aviation industry.

“Really, think about being located in that area, with the Museum of Flight,” Gilman continued, “just spectacular!”

The actual groundbreaking event was quite large. Nearly 300 people attended, including Bill Boeing, Jr. The ceremony was presided over by AHS principal and CEO Reba Gilman and featured many guest speakers including former Highline School District Superintendent John Welch, Museum of Flight CEO Doug King, King County Executive Dow Constantine, Congressman Adam Smith, Vice President Laura Peterson of Boeing, the school’s major supporters, James and Sherry Raisbeck, and Aviation High School alumni Keiko Hiranaka, Joey Marco, and Natalie Nason.

The school has been stuck without a proper and permanent home since its establishment in 2004. The school started at the Duwamish Campus of South Seattle Community College. The school was able to occupy one building of the campus in addition to several portables.

“Life at SSCC was….an adventure. It was funny, interesting, and definitely out of the ordinary,” says former AHS student Natalie Nason, “It was a little thrown together and not quite perfect. But those ugly orange floors, the concrete classrooms, the trucks and trains roaring past the windows, the ‘Hanger’, the gravel pit, it was all home. It was everything we were at that time.”

The school remained at SSCC until 2007. The school has been at its current campus in Des Moines ever since.

“I know that the students who have graduated, they have provided the legacy for everybody else,” says Gilman, “and for those of you who won’t get to occupy the new school either, the same thing, you have worked hard to do this.”

Aviation still has much to do before the school will be complete, however. “The main thing we have to focus on now, is staying on schedule,” says Gilman. The build location is currently undergoing site prep. Construction hasn’t quite yet begun. The goal is to have the school complete and ready to be used by the fall of 2013.

Security Efforts & Concerns Grow

At Aviation High School, students worry about the safety of their data while teachers bemoan the lack of a high level computer skills program.

Schools are at a higher level of digital security risk because they have less control over their servers. “The main difference for an IT Administrator of an academic institution versus a corporate network is the fact that most school IT admins do not have control over the PCs that are connecting to their network,” says Hiep Dang, director of operations for web and email security at digital security company McAfee, “They have to allow students to connect to the school’s network, keep it safe, while not impacting their students’ ability to learn. In the corporate world, all PCs are owned by the company and it can set policies to allow or not allow certain software to be installed.”

The threat of hacking is high even for students on campus. Students have to know how to protect their Internet-accessible technology, especially when they might be using unsecured Wi-Fi or unsecured internet access lines.

“Students are now using multiple Internet connected devices more than ever. If these devices, such as smart phones, laptops and Macs, are not protected then they are more vulnerable to identity theft, malware, hacking, viruses and other potential hazards,” says Dang, “These assets include things like homework files, resumes, music downloads, entertainment files, and digital photos.”


To properly protect their computers, all users need to have at least a small degree of computer literacy.


“Here’s the thing: a lot of people my age say that oh, the kids know computers better than they do,” said AHS Programming teacher Nik Joshi, “It’s been my experience that kids don’t really know how to use computers. They know how to download music, they know how to use the Web, they may be comfortable with it, but they don’t know how the computer works. Most kids don’t know how to set up a network, or if they do set up a network, they don’t know how to fix a problem on the network. And I think these are useful skills.”


If AHS were to be hacked, students’ personal information would be at risk. Even if one only considers the assignments saved on the server, this becomes a problem. A malicious student could delete other students’ hard work. If such a thing happened right before a major deadline, grades could plummet as a result. Teams such as Skunkworks Robotics and Science Olympiad who save their documentation for awards on the school server could find themselves out of the running in competitions.

The situation would become even more harrowing if the hacker was an adult. The district’s Student Information System (eSIS), located at the district offices (ERAC), holds medical records, parent contact information, student contact information–even social security numbers.


Some security can be purchased. Cyber security giant McAfee offers packages that range from covering a single computer to protecting a whole school.        

However, Aviation High school doesn’t use McAfee security; instead, it uses Highline School District-provided Microsoft Forefront Client Security, and its computers are protected on the Internet by iPrism. iPrism is used to block mature or potentially malware-infested sites. In addition, it blocks pop-ups that could potentially lure students into downloading malicious programs.

“Don’t think of iPrism limiting students’ access but rather protecting the students, staff and school district from malware, spyware, and inappropriate content,” says Ty Ivy, Aviation’s resident computer support technician. He says, “It also helps enforce acceptable use and security policies. iPrism Web Filter enables the district to mitigate the risks of legal liability, prevent security breaches and stop the erosion of network resources.”

Most students resent the iPrism security simply because it hampers their ability to surf the web.

iPrism just straight out annoys me, and that’s mainly because of the purpose that I like to explore the web all over the place, and it’s very limiting,” says Paula Cieszkiewicz, a junior at Aviation High School, “Yet at the same time I can understand it’s purpose, that it’s intended to limit our exposure to certain things on the Internet that may not be school appropriate. I believe it’s too limiting though. … The system is intended to be useful, yet at times it’s so over the top that I see it as being a burden rather than a a tool.”

Elsewhere, there has been some fear that teaching students to become computer-literate will invite hacking. At AHS, a known STEM school, the attitude is different. “Whether a student poses a threat or not is a measurement of a student’s character,” says Joshi, “Whether that student chooses to do positive things with the computer or negative things with the computer speaks to that student’s personal character and ethics; it says nothing to the relation to whether they know how to use a computer or not.”

Those in the corporate world agree. “Hacking is a skill, but it’s the intentions of the hacker that makes it bad,” says Dang, “Similar to Star Wars, where both Jedi Knights and the Sith have the powers to use the Force. The Jedi have dedicated their lives to using their powers for good, where the Sith use the Force for evil. Hopefully, teachers and parents will teach their students/children to use their education and skills for the purposes of good rather than evil.”

However, even student hackers aren’t necessarily malicious. “For students, it’s usually due to curiosity and sometimes bragging rights to their friends that they were able to do something,” says Dang.

Joshi agrees.

“Often, the kids who try to hack into systems, they’re very bright, they’re very enthusiastic, they’re passionate about this,” says Joshi, “and they’re exactly the kind of kids we want to teach. They have the characteristics we want every student to have, to be passionate about something and want to work on it in their spare time. It’s just that we don’t recognize these kids and, to use a comic book term, we don’t let them use that power for good. So they naturally look at other challenges.”

Aerospace Education Ideas Launched at Cantwell

On October 24, 2011, a hearing was held at theMuseum of Flight by Senator Maria Cantwell, who is a member of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation committee, and the newly appointed chair of the Aviation Operations, Safety and Security Subcommittee. The hearing was held to address a range of current concerns in the aviation industry. Leading industry CEO’s and education representatives reported on progress that their companies and schools were making, in order to inform Senator Cantwell on the subject and hopefully spark major reform in the industry.

Senator Cantwell plans to bring information from the hearing to the Senate, and try to convince the federal government to take a larger initiative towards reforming the industry. The Senator and many others agree that the industry is at a major turning point, and initiatives need to be taken quickly.

“We are at a crossroads,” said Cantwell, “there is an increase in a demand for aerospace products with the potential workforce who’s majority of the workers can retire in the next ten years.” Aviation and aerospace companies around the state are facing these same issues.

Michael Greenwood, Senior Manager for Boeing’s Aerospace Academic Alignment Team, said that Boeing faces a unique challenge with its workforce. In addition to the challenges of the 787 Dreamliner and acquisition of the U.S. tanker contract, Boeing faces a staffing problem, as 40% of the engineering workforce at Boeing will be eligible to retire within the next few years.

Many industry representatives at the hearing emphasized the lack of fundamental skills in the new workforce, and cited the need for a serious raise in education funding to solve these problems.

“It is once again time for the American labor movement to pressure the public and private sectors to adequately fund the education of the American worker,” said Thomas M. McCarty, president of the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace, “it is not acceptable that qualified students are denied entry into our state universities for lack of funding.”

The focus of almost all the requests to the Senator were centered around the need for more government funding in education in programs that would either make investments to create more classes, or investments to improve apprenticeship, high school, and post high school education.

All of the representatives there addressed the need for inspiring students to enjoy math and science. Many feel that the lack of hands on experience for students is causing them to run away from math and science. Two of the major proposals to solving this problem were offering more shop classes in order to give students technical manufacturing capabilities, and showing the real world application of STEM education. Both business and education leaders agreed upon this point and seemed ready to offer each other support.

Even AHS Principal Reba Gilman testified. “Aviation High is a college prep high school for students who have a passion for Aviation and Aerospace. It was conceived in response to the critical need to improve student achievement in math and science.”

At the hearing, Gilman addressed the need for more cooperation between professionals in the industry and education.

“The formalization of a relationship with the FAA by having the agency proved a full-time staff person at the school, offer paid internships to students and help expose and familiarize our students and staff with cutting edge technologies such as UAVS, Next Gen standards, and more,” suggested Gilman.

She also encouraged “the committee to consider working with industry, federal agencies and Aviation High to help replicate schools like ours in other parts of Washington state and the country.”

Graduates Share Their Experiences

Aviation high school 2011 graduates share their unique and personal experiences about their final years of high school and beginning of college.

Even though Aviation High School is a STEM school, it doesn’t mean that a student’s desired career path has to be STEM or aviation related.  Some graduates decided to follow a career path that’s completely unrelated to aviation, such as the music industry.

There were many student bands, singers, and independent instrument players at AHS. Now that they have graduated, some have continued to pursue a musical career.

Lianda Abraham is a perfect example of someone who loves to do something unrelated to aviation. She’s known for her beautiful singing voice and her outstanding performances in the music group EriAm Sisters.

“My sisters and I started performing four to five years ago. It started at a talent show that nobody but us signed up for. It was one of the worst and greatest moments of my life,” said Abraham, “the beginning half was the terrifying part because it was my dad who forced me from my hiding spot onto the stage with my sisters. The last half was the great part because I felt comfortable and confident, doing something I enjoyed (in front of people) for the first time.”

As her singing career started up, all of AHS became amazed as she and her sisters performed at the school’s talent shows and sung the national anthem at important events like the graduation ceremonies and assemblies.

“My favorite thing about singing is the final product a.k.a.-the performance. The second our last song ends, I’ll mentally run through every bit of the set,” said Abraham, “thinking of any mistakes we could’ve possibly made in the harmonies or choreo [graphy] or whatever! The best part of singing for me is the feeling I get walking off stage and knowing that I tried my best and kicked butt!”

But all of her performances didn’t take place in just school; she has performed at many different incredible places and kept these experiences with her to remember forever.

“The most unique place we’ve performed at would have to be…. at the 2010 gay pride festival in Seattle. I enjoyed it a lot because we got to share the stage with the most gorgeous/entertaining drag queens I’ve ever seen!” said Abraham, “We’ve traveled to East Africa, Eritrea, and performed in front of 40,000 people and the president of the country for the country’s Independence Day. We performed in Africa last summer and again this past May. This summer we had shows in Sweden, Germany and Amsterdam. We got back from Atlanta about two weeks ago and finished recording our first music video. About two years ago we auditioned for America’s Got Talent and made it to the semi-finals.”

Although she has a music career she would love to follow, that’s not the only thing she wants to pursue. Abraham also currently attends college in order to earn a degree that isn’t art or music related.

“I’m attending Bellevue College and going for an associates in Science degree,” said Abraham, “I’m loving the whole college experience and I’m really enjoying the classes, especially psychology.”

Through her musical career she has always had her parents to fall back on and support her and her sisters. This moral support has also led her to achieving great performances and being able to travel to many places.

“My parents have definitely been a huge inspiration. They’ve been putting in just as much work as both my sisters and I have been putting in to this whole performing thing,” said Abraham, “they both left their families and country (Eritrea) in order to lead a successful life here in America and now are putting their heart and souls into making their daughters’ dreams come true.”

On the visually creative side there is Elizabeth Ong, who has inspired people with her incredible art ability and fashion sense.

“I have a passion in art and I believe my skills will take me far. I plan to become a video game artist or animator and hopefully work for Nintendo,” said AHS graduate Elizabeth Ong, “then, in the future, I would also like to have a side job in the fashion industry. I am really excited!”

In addition, attending Aviation High School can benefit a student or graduate because of the unique events AHS allows you to attend. Also, Ong’s experiences reflect a lot on the opportunities she received from attending Aviation high school.

“There are plenty of important and memorable events that I’ve attended. And it’s just one of the things I am really proud of as an AHS Alumni; being able to be apart and experiencing something that other high schoolers may not be able to. The Pathfinder’s Gala, Meeting and talking to VIPs or notable people from the aviation industry,” said Ong, “starting/continuing AHS traditions, AHS social events, SciOly Competitions etc, and overall, just being able to go to school with my peers and teachers that I really love. AHS has grown and accomplished a lot. I am really glad that I was able to apart of that.”

Consequently, after graduates received some unique benefits and opportunities from attending Aviation high school, they move on to college and apply the skills they learned in high school to their college life.

“As of now, I am attending Highline Community College and is working towards my degree in the Arts. I am taking courses that would allow me to easily transfer into the University of Washington DXART program,” said Ong, “I am now in my second week of college and so far, it has been going quite well. I’ve thought of not being to involved with school and just focusing on my school work but in my heart, I dont think I can do that. Haha. I just love being involved (thanks to AHS). I am looking forward to joining the numerous clubs that have here at HCC.”

However, as students go to college and pursue their desired career paths, they never forget their true dreams. Ong shows that she will never forget her passion for fashion.

“I really love fashion. Not just the shopping but more like being able to design and having people wear them and like them. I think clothes can really define a person’s personality,” said Ong, “and I would just love to see people wear my designs and feel confident in them. Unfortunately, I don’t plan on pursuing this career now. Honestly, I don’t think I can really support myself in the future because its a cutting edge industry. But this doesn’t mean I am going to give up on it. I’ll just pursue it later in life.”

As you’re pursuing a career in art, fashion, or anything else, something that is important is your supporters. It’s good to have someone who can stand by you and your passions.

“I guess the person that I really looked up to would be my dad. He was born in Vietnam and moved over here when he was about 18 years old. He has been through a lot of hardships. He started out slow but made his way up to becoming successful. He graduated from the University of Washington with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering and a year later, he became an employee at Nintendo,” said Ong, “My dad would constantly nag me to study and give 110% in all of my school work. It drives me nuts sometimes! But, I understand why. He had it tough, way tougher than me. Therefore I am motivated to try my very best to become a successful person like him.”

On the other hand, there are some students who do want to follow an aviation related career, one of them being Casey Chandler.

“I am currently attending the University of Washington, and my intended major is Mechanical Engineering,” said AHS grad Casey Chandler, “Mr. Joshi was a big part of the reason I chose to pursue engineering. Joshi’s challenging, but [his] informative calculus course helped me realize how much I loved math!”

As grads slowly turn into adults, they learn to prioritize and put what is more important first. Chandler and many other graduates even had to give up on some past dreams in order to succeed in the present.

“I was interested in photography, but chose not to pursue it for several reasons,” said Chandler, “But never found the time to really get into it.”

Additionally, there are two other graduates that have the chance to experience what it’s like to live in a new city while they go to college.

“Being in a new city is basically what you would expect, just very different,” said NYU freshmen Miranda Sita, “it’s hard to explain really. But for as much as I loved Seattle, I love New York just as much now.”

“Staying in a new city… think of it as an adventure, because it is!” said USC freshmen Jim Stone, “but keep in touch with your friends from back home.”

Everyone becomes explorers on their first day in a new city, because there is so much to learn and see. But sometimes being in a new city will make you miss your hometown, like these two Seattle grads.


“What I honestly miss most about Seattle is probably my dogs,” said Sita,  “But I also really miss the trees, NYU doesn’t have trees! Or at least real trees, just the wimpy ones they planted on the streets to create atmosphere.”

“What I miss about Seattle is honestly the rain,” said Stone, “it’s too damn sunny here (Los Angeles) and of course the people – I miss y’all!”

Overall, even though these graduates have been at college for only a small amount of time, they have learned what can make college great from experiences.

“College can be a good time by having awesome friends!” said Stone, “meet the other people in your dorm and classes and don’t be afraid to introduce yourself to random people the first few weeks.”

“I’m not sure I’m qualified to say what really makes a great college experience considering I’m only in my second month of freshman year,” said Sita, “But what I am really finding important right now is making friends. These friends I make are going to become my family over the next four years, and I want to make sure I will find the people that will not only help me succeed, but really enjoy everything that college has to offer.”

AHS Goes Greener

Presentations, guest speakers, conserving energy, and more recycling: efforts are underway, but Aviation High School still has a long road to travel before reaching level 2 of the King County Green School Program.

Waste reduction, recycling, managing hazardous materials and conserving energy are all things that AHS students and teachers are striving towards doing in this 2011-2012 school year. Doing so would earn AHS recognition throughout King County of being a level 2 green school. This program that is sponsored by King County encourages schools of all ages to become greener.

AHS began participating in the green school program in June of 2009; in May of 2011, near the end of the school year, AHS was awarded a banner that reads “We are a King County Green School.” It was also mentioned in a press release issued by King County. AHS’s ecology club has been helping the school ever since it has started four years ago.

To achieve level 2 of the Green School Program, AHS must maintain the level 1 duties, and start to conserve energy, so that they can complete the energy conservation criteria. Doing so would decrease the school’s electricity bill and earn AHS the title of a level 2 green school.

“Clubs this year have just started so we are still in the process of figuring out where we want to go from here. We’ve started brainstorming some fun activities throughout the year.” Explained ecology club’s president Tessa Tweet, “Reaching level one recognition took two years so I know level two will take at least that long.”

Level 1 duties included waste reduction, recycling, and hazardous waste management. Ecology club did this by promoting the idea of recycling by giving class presentations and having school-wide assemblies.

More information about the green schools program is available on the King County website, at

AHS has increased its recycling program rate from 28% to 35% since it started participating in the program. As a result, recycling bins have been added to classrooms, offices, hallways, and the lunchroom.


“We are always teaching students the basics about recycling,” said Tweet, “especially the tricky stuff.”


Every year on earth day, ecology club plans and hosts an assembly to inform students on recycling and helping the earth.


This year, they plan on having a guest speaker from King County to come and talk to the students about how going green is important. They also plan on having recycle-bot, ecology club’s mascot, come and talk to the students and have them do activities about conserving energy and recycling even more things.

“Our main goal in ecology club is to find ways to reach out into the student body.” said Tweet, “Expect a lot from us this year!”

There are many ways the school has changed since the start of ecology club four years ago, especially when it comes to AHS’s recycling program.

Many students don’t know what they can and cannot recycle. So, ecology club decided that they would go around and put lists on the recycling bins with a list of what they could and could not recycle.

“Did you know you can recycle milk cartons?” said Tweet, “Because I am always pulling them out of the garbage. Things like this are important to know and the posters, presentations, and programs we create really help our students get a better understanding.”

In most classrooms, there are bins that have recycled paper in them so that  paper could be used more than once.

“Before the club there were no big recycling bins around the school,” said ecology club vice president Allison Do, “but now, bit by bit, we’re improving and expanding the recycling program.”

Ecology club also went around and collected bottle caps and sent them to Aveda, Aveda would then recycle the caps and turn them into parts of bottles. Not only did doing this help the earth, but it also helped marine animals from eating them. Aveda is a company that makes eco-friendly cosmetics and hair products.

Not only does ecology club help our school, they help others outside of school as well.

“For the past three years,” explained Do, “we’ve done the Duwamish River clean up.”

Escaping the Frontcountry

Two hikers work their way up a steep icy slope, one carrying an ice axe and the other with traction devices called crampons on his shoes, but the other usual ice gear is nowhere to be found. To be honest, one of them is enjoying himself a bit more than the other.

The more optimistic of the two is Peter Keckemet, AHS senior and lover of the backcountry. He and his friend Drew Hidalgo are on what they thought would be a quick hike.

“This summer I took another senior, Drew, one of my best friends, up to the Cascades and we did this hike up to Foggy Basin,” recalled Keckemet. “It’s on an old miner’s trail and we had a heavy winter so there was no trail and we were route finding.”

Just the thought of getting so far away from Facebook and their phones might scare some people off, but for Keckemet there’s nothing else like it.

“The first couple hours of any hike or climb or anything, you’re just gonna be asking yourself ‘why did I get off the couch to get outside? I could be at home watching TV right now not having to walk,’” said Keckemet, “but once you really get out there, it’s my favorite place in the entire world, just being outside.”

“I’ve been mountaineering for about a year. I’ve been climbing for about three years in the gym and a bit outside as well,” said Keckemet, “but I’ve been backpacking since I could walk with my parents and I’ve been skiing just as long.”

Hidalgo is also an outdoorsy person, but may have been a bit less prepared for the “quick hike” up Foggy Basin.

“Peter told me that we were going for a three and a half mile hike, two and a half of which was an older miner trail that was fairly steep,” said Hidalgo. “We knew that in the last mile we’d encounter some snow. The snow turned out to be a glacier.”

“He didn’t realize when I said ‘hike’ I meant more of scrambling on your hands and knees up scary snow slopes and he got a bit freaked out,” said Keckemet. “He may or may not have threatened me which was also a little bit scary.”

Mountaineers never stop learning and Keckemet is no exception. He’s looking to get more medical certification so he’ll be ready for anything.

“I have a wilderness first aid certification, but I want to get a bigger one, maybe wilderness first responder or wilderness EMT,” explained Keckemet. “I really want to do an EMT class that could let me get a ski patrol job during college, or potentially I could get work at a guiding company at Mt. Rainier or in the Cascades or something.”

Fortunately for both Hidalgo and himself, Keckemet’s first aid skills were not called for during the pair’s hike together, but they easily could have been.

“It was all good because we spent the night up there and then the next day we came back down and it was a beautiful view,” said Keckemet. “You could see the entire Milky Way, probably one of my favorite parts of spending the night out in the middle of nowhere. And then Drew apologized for threatening me.”

Keckemet wasn’t exactly born with a pack on his back, but like many people who get into the outdoors at a young age, he came close.

“I really got started outdoors from my parents, they started me sailing,” said Keckemet, “we were always hiking and snowshoeing when I was little either on their back or I’d have little kid snowshoes and it just developed from there.”

Sonics Wound Healing

In 2008 when the Sonics were threatening to leave Seattle, the people of the emerald city were going insane over the loss, but three years later, they have moved on.

In 2007, Oklahoma City native Clay Bennett bought the Seattle Sonics for an estimated $350 million dollars from Starbucks CEO and Sonics owner Howard Schultz.  The Sonics head owner was convinced that Bennett was going to keep the team in Seattle.

“I think it’s presumptuous to assume that Clay Bennett and his ownership group won’t own that Seattle team for a long, long time in Seattle or somewhere else,” said Schultz, “it’s presumptuous to assume they’re going to move that franchise to Oklahoma City.”

As time passed Bennett was upset that the local government would not provide an estimated $500 million for an overhaul of Key Arena (the Sonics home court), so the team took flight.

Since the move, the team has flourished. They have posted a win-loss percentage of over .620, gone to the conference finals and posted average attendance numbers of around 18,000 fans per game, selling out nearly every game.  Chesapeake Energy Arena, the new home of the team, boasts upscale restaurants, Kids zone, updated scoring and video from Daktronics, upgraded flooring and new view suites. The whole renovation from the original state of the arena cost $156 million, $350 million less than the proposed cost of Key Arena.

Since that time, the Seattle based company Casual Industries has started manufacturing a line of shirts that features the 1995 Sonics logo featuring the word “Robbed” instead of the usual team name and city. Although it is evident that feeling of deceit and some sorrow is felt when the subject is brought up, the matter has mostly faded to the background for northwest basketball fans.

The Seattle Storm have also been a powerhouse in women’s professional basketball, winning two WNBA finals in the past seven years, accumulating around 8,500 fans per game, only 2,500 fans less than the meager 11,000 fans posted by the Sonics in 2007.

Other sports have also appeared in the spotlight. Last year, the Seahawks went to the second round of the NFL playoffs, and the Mariners have acquired their own TV channel, ROOT sports.

Although Key Arena is an arena worthy of R&B singer Usher, the Seattle Thunderbirds and countless other acts and events, the arena is in fact aging. Although it was renovated in 1995, the original structure was built in 1962, two years before ex-Mets ballpark Shea Stadium was built, and it has since been torn down and the New York team has gotten a new field. Why shouldn’t the Sonics get one?

First Commercial Spaceport Nears Completion


In the middle of the New Mexico desert lies a flat piece of land, the ground paved, the infrastructure assembled, and a runway and terminal prepared for spacecraft.

Roughly 45 miles north of Las Cruces, the 18,000 acre site has a two mile long, 200 foot-wide runway.  Spaceport America (originally known as Southwest Regional Spaceport) will be the world’s first commercial spaceport. The are used by the space administration for utility and scientific work in space.

“[New Mexico is] perfect because that means you need less fuel and you get more pay load when you launch,” Chris Anderson , Executive Director of New Mexico Space Authority, told, “plus the predictable weather will assure on-time takeoffs.”

The government of New Mexico has promised that the new spaceport will be a boon to the local economy with  the prospect of tourism on the horizon. Currently there are hard hat tours around the construction site with plans to build a commercial center.

Additional income beside tourism and Virgin Galactic flights will  include launching experiments and satellites into space. The Spaceport has already had twelve launches for commercial clients.

However, some locals are skeptical on whether the spaceport will generate more business or not.

Robert Hanseck, owner of a Truth or Consequences gem store, had a critical opinion of the spaceport’s economic impact.

“It’s for rich people, I guess,” Hanseck said to KVUE news, “the people here aren’t rich and they’re not going to be made rich by this either, I don’t think.”

Happy Belly Deli restaurant, situated in Truth or Consequences, caters to Spaceport America workers.  One of the Deli’s cashiers, Destiny Miller, has expressed has expressed tentative confidence on the spaceport.

“We are a little bit skeptical about it,” said Miller to KVUE news, “but I’ve actually seen firsthand some of the business that it’s generating.”

Like Hanseck there is currently some skepticism as to whether the spaceport is essential or even profitable, taking into consideration the large cost in construction and maintenance as well as civilian and business interest.

Anderson dismissed criticism that the spaceport is too high maintenance.

“I wonder if they said that about the first airport?” Anderson said to, “I just betcha.”

Currently Spaceport America is nearing completion of phase I construction despite being nine months behind schedule. Phase II is already in the planning stages and the phase will include the completion of a vertical launch facility, visitor welcome centers in neighboring towns Hatch and Truth or Consequences, and a visitor area at the spaceport. Phase II is expected to be complete in 2013 around the same time that the spaceport will become fully operational.

Virgin Galactic will make Spaceport America its world headquarters from which they will start flying the spacecraft for space tourists and other travelers. As of now, Virgin Galactic has begun taking its first reservations costing $200,000 per seat. And there are prospects of hotels to accommodate passengers and tourists.

The new facility is billed to be the next step in the commercialization of space. Previously space commercialization was left to larger aerospace companies.

Private Space Companies including SpaceX, Sierra Nevada, Bigelow Aerospace, XCOR and others will join NASA and FAA Representatives in a conference discussing space industry for October 19-20 and will finish with a tour of the Spaceport. on October 17 Richard Branson along with Buzz Aldrin and 150 of the 420 first Virgin Galactic passengers officially opened the Spaceport. Though unfinished, Branson in his speech expressed over his own  company and other companies resolve in space industry.

“Today is another history-making day for Virgin Galactic.” Branson said to Aviation Week.

“We are here with a group of incredible people who are helping us lead the way in creating one of the most important new industrial sectors of the 21st century.

“We’ve never wavered in our commitment to the monumental task of pioneering safe, affordable and clean access to space, or to demonstrate that we mean business at each step along the way.”

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