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Shiroma relaxes for the first time

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Flight by Design discovers new insights

From left to right, seniors Caden Gobat, Josh Sherbrooke, Brynne Hunt, and Sara Reyes examine a Cessna Caravan, which the ecoDemonstrator program uses to test technologies involving autonomous flight.
Photo Courtesy of: Nicole Danson

During second period on Thursday, 29 Mar. 2018, Flight by Design teacher Nikhil Joshi took his class to a Boeing facility to experience an Eco-Demonstration; a presentation by Boeing engineers about the new technologies they are trying to implement onto a FedEx owned 777.

In this Eco-Demonstration, the Flight by Design class got to visit twelve stations, which explained the ingenuitive modifications made to the Boeing plane.

“We visited about twelve stations over two hours to learn about different aspects,” said Joshi, “from collision avoidance while taxiing on the ground, to the next-generation collision avoidance system for flying in the air, to fire suppression technologies inside of the airplanes, to more efficient thrust reversers, to the use of 3D printing in order to make spare parts.”

Both Flight by Design and a part of the freshman class got to attend this eco-demonstration with the hope of learning something new.

“It was an enrichment opportunity to see a real plane, see new technologies, and find out how Boeing is looking forward to making enhancements to not just this particular plane, but using it as a test bit for fleet-wide enhancements and improvements to their product line,” said Joshi.

Senior Sara Reyes got to learn about innovative developments, including fuel that is biologically engineered, (bio)fueling her own curiosity.

“I really enjoyed how they presented technologies and instruments that they were planning on integrating on current models of planes,” said Reyes. “I also really enjoyed the presentations on the biofuel as well [because] I learned that the biofuel that Boeing has developed is more efficient for the engines and the only disadvantage to using it is that it’s a little bit more costly.”

Although the demonstration didn’t help Flight by Design students with their culminating projects (to learn more see page __), it did help Reyes imagine her future in the field.

“Honestly it didn’t relate to my project whatsoever,” said Reyes, “but you can say it did by giving me insight about the current state of the aerospace field and what it’ll be like when I enter it.”

Both students and chaperones alike, such as Vice Principal Tremain Holloway, learned not only about a field that they are interested in and passionate about, but also unique tidbits.

“The name of the airplane was Holly, and I thought it was fascinating how they named it,” said Holloway. “Because it was a Fed-Ex sponsored plane, there’s basically a drawing with all of [Fed-Ex’s] employees and [they] put their child’s name in that drawing. So they pick from that and that’s how they figure out what name the plane is going to have.”

In addition to learning new things, Holloway thought this trip would be a good opportunity to get outside the school and find potential mentors or speakers for the school.

“I know our students here are aspiring to be something like what they’re doing over there, such as eco-programs,” said Holloway, “so I thought it would be a good idea to make connections.”

Holloway, in fact, made some old connections with another group of UW students who were also attending the eco-demonstration.

“We were not the only group that was going,” said Holloway. “There were four or five different groups, and one of them was college students. We saw [alumni] Uyen Tran and a couple of other former students. It was good to see them and see what they were doing.”

However, there were drawbacks to the demonstrations, seeing as the twelve stations of modifications were squeezed into just about two hours.

“There wasn’t enough time,” said Joshi. “We were really being moved quickly from one display to another so we barely had time to ask questions.”

This whole field trip was made possible with almost no cost to the school due to the help of Boeing and freshman literature teacher Nuka Nurzhanov.

“It was really nice of Boeing to provide a bus because otherwise we probably wouldn’t have been able to do it because we were out of busses that day,” said Joshi. “Not all the kids were able to make it because they had to show up before school started to get on the bus on time, so Ms. Nurzhanov was kind enough to cover the students who couldn’t make the trip.”

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There’s sNOw way your winter break was COOLer than this

During a timeout, Braeden Swanson (4th left, top row) meets with the rest of the West Seattle High School basketball team.
Photo Courtesy of Braeden Swanson

Over the 2017 winter break, RAHS students had two weeks to relax, catch up on sleep, and spend time with family. Instead of sleeping their two weeks away, senior Dakota Gorder and junior Braeden Swanson enjoyed thrilling winter breaks.

Gorder travelled to the UK for just under two weeks to visit King’s College London, which he has already been accepted into, and interview at the University of Cambridge.

“I can’t discuss the details of the interview process but overall, I think it went very well,” said Gorder. “I was able to discuss my very unorthodox education and why the subject of history fascinates me so much. I also had plenty of time to dive into my knowledge and analysis of events, movements, and key continuities of history, both modern and ancient and how to apply that learning into contemporary settings.”

Gorder admitted to being slightly worried for his interview, but his confidence in his goals quickly helped to relieve his nerves.

“Having gotten accepted into other fabulous schools helped to take the pressure off,” said Gorder. “Also, I figured I’d be able to talk about history, my greatest passion (sorry airplanes), to experts in the field which seems like a dream come true. Anyone who knows me knows I can talk history all day (and often do), and this was a great opportunity to express my opinions and reflections on the subject to professors who really care.”

Because the interview was short notice, Gorder did not have a full itinerary for his trip, leaving him able to take some unplanned day trips, including seeing the the White Cliffs of Dover, the Royal Navy Museum, and a WWII airfield.

“My favorite part of the trip was visiting the Royal Navy Museum in Portsmouth,” said Gorder. “It was not originally planned in the itinerary but I successfully lobbied my parents to visit it for a day trip. It exceeded my wildest expectations.”

Senior Dakota Gorder poses in front of HMS Victory during his day trip to the Royal Navy Museum in Portsmouth.
Photo courtesy of Dakota Gorder

Despite the exciting day trips and marvelous opportunities, Gorder’s trip did have some drawbacks.

“The lack of iced coffee was really disgusting,” said Gorder. “I clearly need to begin a coffee company that serves iced coffee so these people know what they are missing out on. #MakeCoffeeIcedAgain.”

Swanson, on a different note, travelled to Arizona to partake in a basketball tournament, The Nike Tournament of Champions, with her resident high school, West Seattle High School.

“I was excited to go with my team because it is always such a fun way to bond and travel with friends,” said Swanson. “However, any sports related trip is considered a ‘business trip’ so you have to be in the right competitive mindset rather than just viewing the trip as a vacation.”

Playing some of the best teams from around the nation, Swanson’s team had some troubles and lost their first few games, which ended up revealing where their weak points were.

“As a team we were pretty disappointed in the way the tournament went, although we did end on a blowout win, but we’re really excited to see what the future has in store for us,” said Swanson. “We feel like we know where we need to improve and we all have big aspirations to make it far this year, maybe even to the top.”

One of the most challenging parts for the team is facing the coaches after coming off the court of a losing game.

“After each game, we get asked the question: Did you put 100% effort during the game? Did you give everything you had, whether that was on the court or on the bench?” said Swanson. “To take accountability and humble yourself in the fact that you may not have done the best you could and contributed the way you should have is really challenging and hard to face, especially because that gives the loss a lot more weight in your mind.”

Because they lost their first two games, Swanson’s coaches made the team run three miles before their third game, each mile in under nine minutes and thirty seconds.

“Our run was not without some close calls, and some extra effort from those of us who finished early — cheering on, and even running an extra lap with some people — is probably what stopped us from running extra,” said Swanson. “Those 3 miles were a challenge, and I definitely felt it during the game later, but it did get us fired up, and taught us the importance of taking responsibility and [that] being mentally tough is essential to success.”

Swanson, in addition, had her reservations about not just the games, but also about her teammates.

“I also don’t get to see all my teammates very much throughout the year because I don’t go to school with them,” said Swanson, “so sometimes I get a little nervous when I’m surrounded by people from such a different social scene who are always talking about different people, teachers, and school events. But over the past three years I’ve gotten used to that, so I wasn’t quite so apprehensive about this trip.”

Swanson, however, did end up having a fun time bonding with her teammates off the court, which may contribute to their success in later games.

“My favorite part was spending time with my teammates in the hotel and playing with my coach’s kids around Phoenix (they are the cutest children ever!),” said Swanson. “We played some fun bonding games in our rooms, and did our annual Secret Santa gift exchange which brought us all closer and built trust within one another.”

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Science department gains a significant figure

Brandyn Mannion and his wife Erin Coté celebrated their engagement with their black lab german shepard mix Vader.

With Garett Shiroma’s departure as the chemistry teacher, the 2017-18 school year brings with it a new arrival, Brandyn Mannion, who brings professionalism, humor, and enthusiasm to the chemistry classroom.

Mannion’s first two years of teaching were in Baltimore, Maryland at the Academy for College and Career Exploration, and last year he taught at Global Connections High School in SeaTac. Currently in his fourth year of teaching, Mannion admits RAHS’ culture is different from his past experiences.

“This is the first school I’ve been at where the students are extraordinarily focused on academics,” said Mannion, “so that’s a nice change for me.”

Being in this different environment, Mannion expects to grow as a teacher.

“I kind of look at it as honing the other side of my craft,” said Mannion. “I have dealt with the low end of the spectrum, so to speak, such as high-needs kids. Not that there aren’t high need kids at RAHS, but it’s the other side of the spectrum where everybody is super motivated and I don’t have to play the game of ‘c’mon, let’s get to our work.’ It’s just kind of strengthening a different facet of my teaching.”

Now that Mannion is teaching at RAHS, his first few months have allowed him to develop close bonds with the students and teachers, such as science teacher Scott McComb, with whom he works closely co-advising Science Olympiad.

“Mr. Mannion is a consummate professional and really easy to work with,” said McComb. “He’s engaged, enthusiastic, funny, and he brings really nice energy to the work.”

Students like Riley Stonesifer are excited at the prospect of working with Mannion and actually understanding the concepts that he is teaching.

“I want to learn chemistry because I have no prior experience,” said Stonesifer. “Honestly, I’m excited to understand what the topic is about.”

Students, such as senior Carolyn Ta, in addition, appreciate the sarcastic energy that Mannion brings to the classroom in the form of riddles.

“I’ve gotten to the point where I know when to laugh because you can never tell,” said Ta. “Those riddles make me happy. As a senior, thank you!”

As a student at the University of Washington, Mannion participated in the Dream Project, helping low-income first-generation students apply for college, which encouraged him to enter into the field of teaching science.

“A lot of kids were turned off by negative experiences in a science class towards science fields,” said Mannion. “That was essentially the catalyst that made me want to change that at least for a certain subset of students.”

Mannion’s years of teaching have not been all fun and games, for he has had his share of negative teaching experiences. After a student pushed an old man down at a bus station, two adult male white teachers began beating the student up behind the school while Mannion called 911.

“It was one of those situations where there’s really no way to prepare yourself,” said Mannion. “I knew what was going on was incredibly wrong and I thought, this was my naivety, ‘the police will be here really quickly to break it up’ but they weren’t.”

Mannion’s personal life, with his wife Erin and black lab german shepard mix, Vader, makes an interesting contrast to his persona at school.

“I like to spend time with my wife and my dog,” said Mannion. “My wife and I recently bought a house last year so we are doing a lot of fixing up, such as pulling ivy out of the ground and between rocks. If there’s ever a need for community service and a bunch of kids want to pull ivy out of my yard, that’s a-okay with me.”

When he’s not at school, Mannion keeps himself busy with a wide array of activities.

“I enjoy biking during the summer when it’s not raining, reading a good book, and drinking a lot of cups of coffee,” said Mannion.

There have been plenty of teaching moments, in addition, that have brought a smile to Mannion’s face.

“[A bird] got stuck in my room, pooped all over the place, and then died, so I had to pick it up with a dog poop bag and throw it in the trash,” said Mannion. “[My students] wondered what was on the desks, I told them not to touch it.”

In his second year of teaching, moreover, one of Mannion’s students found a snake in the hallway. After the snake escaped into one of the lockers, it disappeared for the night, only to be rediscovered the next day.

“My assistant principal, this short, squat, balding white dude, captured the snake underneath one of those home depot buckets and just sat on it yelling ‘there’s nothing to see, go back to class,’” said Mannion. “That kept me going for months.”

For the full story, please ask Mannion himself.

RAHS English courses start a new chapter

The 2017-2018 RAHS school year will bring drastic changes in the English Department. As Mary Ciccone-Cook leaves, current Sophomore English teacher Sarah Fitzpatrick will take on AP Language and Composition, and current Freshman English teacher Wayne Storer will take on AP Literature and Composition. The two will split Sophomore English.


All these changes have left Freshman Aviation English without a teacher, and Nuka Nurzhanov, who is completely qualified for the position, is excited to be stepping in.


“I am thrilled about teaching Aviation English,” said Nurzhanov, “as it will give me a unique opportunity in developing an exciting curriculum that will utilize remarkable aviation and aerospace resources from the Museum of Flight as well as from the notable aviation and aerospace periodicals.”


Her previous position will be eliminated throughout the district in the 2017-2018 school year. Nurzhanov looks forward to overcoming the challenges that the change of pace will bring.


“Challenges would be discovering and incorporating great ideas and effective strategies or instructional practices that work in engaging and exciting students about their learning in class,” said Nurzhanov, “as my professional credo is that all students are capable of learning when they have academic and personal tools to be successful.”


Even though there are always obstacles that come with change, there is a plan in place to make sure RAHS freshmen are as ready for their next few years in high school and the Smarter Balanced Assessment (SBA) as they have been in the past.


“A proposed Aviation English curriculum will be fully aligned with the state Common Core standards,” said Nurzhanov, “to ensure that our students are well-prepared for the state mandatory graduation test, actually exceed the state learning standards, and learn eagerly in the context of aviation and aerospace.”


For all the STEM enthusiasts who desire a stronger aviation connection in core classes, Nurzhanov is looking to get students excited about the field.


“I am excited to incorporate a lot of short reads,” said Nurzhanov, “about new innovations in technology, aviation and aerospace.”


With Nurzhanov holding down the fort in Aviation English, Storer and Fitz are working closely to balance Sophomore English and the extra workload of grading AP timed writes.


“The idea of partnering with a colleague that I like, admire, and respect was kind of the bonus in the whole thing,” said Storer. “I’ll be teaching two brand-new classes that I’ve never taught before, but I’ll be working with Ms. Fitz and I’ll be teaching AP Lit, which is my dream job.”


Fitz, who currently teaches sophomores, is thrilled about the idea of moving up with them and staying as their teacher.


“I am excited to work with upperclassmen and Flight 2 teachers, as well as reading and discussing a variety of nonfiction texts,” said Fitz. “I am also looking forward to teaching new curriculum and working with our incoming juniors, who I absolutely love—they are a special group of kids.”


The teachers will be planning meetings in the coming month with the previous instructors to prepare for their new positions.


“[Cook] has so many great resources and so many tools and has had success; it would be foolish to reinvent the wheel,” said Storer. “I’ll have a different approach because we’re not the same teacher, but I certainly will be borrowing liberally from Ms. Cook.”


Fitz, similar to Storer, is intent on learning as much as she can from Cook and AP U.S. History teacher Michelle Juarez about how the class should be run and what strategies were successful.


“I plan to ask her as many questions as I can think of and take copious notes in order to provide our students with the best experience possible,” said Fitz. “I have also met with Ms. Juarez, who has been helpful and very supportive. She has shared valuable advice and materials with me. I am beyond grateful for their willingness to share their experiences and wisdom, because without them, I would be lost.”


Even with the help of those experienced in teaching the courses, Storer is nervous for the pressure and challenges that come with developing plans for courses that are new to him while also maintaining his commitment to avoiding busy work.


“Part of it is making sure that what I give to the students in that class is worthy of the work that they put in,” said Storer. “I know that, in the end, it will be because I care so much, but I put a lot of pressure on myself.”


With quite a lot on her plate already with work and family, Fitz recognizes the time commitment that teaching an AP course will bring.


“I know that I will need to spend most of my summer planning and preparing to teach AP Language,” said Fitz. “I also recognize that there will be more grading and that I will need to devote even more time to providing feedback for students in a timely manner.”


Despite the nerve-wracking challenges that teaching new classes will bring to all the English teachers, their excitement is inspiring.


“If I only get to teach [AP Literature and Composition and sophomore English] for one year,” said Storer, “[they] will probably be my favorite two classes so far in my ten years of teaching.”



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Orienteering maps its way into RAHS

After only two seasons of competing, RAHS’ orienteering team recently took home trophies. The girls’ team placed first in both regular season and the championship, the boys placed third in regular season.


Regular season has eight events every other Saturday, while Championships is one meet at the end of the season. Orienteering is a unique sport that combines both physical and mental abilities, which is perfect for members like junior Dakota Gorder, who co-coaches with Lynnea Colledge.


“The physical challenges are simple: run as fast as possible for as long as possible to the get the shortest time, not unlike cross-country,” said Dakota. “However, the mental element separates it from other sports. The competitor must navigate using only a compass and map and plot their own course of where to go. Most of the waypoints, named controls, have multiple ways to be reached and the runner must calculate how to most efficiently get to it.”


While the team was proud of their victories, support was the most important thing to the members as well as their advisor, Dakota’s father Joe Gorder.


“The team waited at the finish line while it was snowing or in freezing rain, so that when their last teammate finished, they were there to support them,” said Joe. “One meet a teammate lost his electronic time punch on the course, and the whole team went out to help search for it. Another meet, someone was out on the course for over two hours, and the team went out to find him. That’s what being a teammate is all about.”


Because of the team’s success in only its second season, Dakota is proud of the effort the members put in.


“Something that particularly impresses me is how determined the team is to do their best,” said Dakota. “Even though the weather is often miserable, each member of the team ventures out into the unknown and does their best to help lead the team to victory. Their dedication is very inspiring and brings me great pride knowing that all the effort paid off with trophies we could bring home.”


Colledge is also pleased with the victories of the team and gives props to the effort that went in behind the scenes.


“I’m proud that we were able to accomplish this only in our second year, and I’m proud of our team, and especially our new members, for their participation and determination,” said Colledge. “We also would have not been able to accomplish this without our coach Joe Gorder, who was the organizational force behind keeping our team together, and encouraged and guided our team to achieve success.”


In addition to the team victories, junior Carson Lobdell placed second as an individual in both the regular season and the Washington Interscholastic Orienteering League (WIOL) Championships.


“What you might not know is that he likely gave away a 1st place finish in the Championships because he stopped to check on a teammate who got injured during the race,” said Joe. “It is actions like this that exemplify what it means to be a teammate and that makes me the most proud as a coach.”


In addition to the awards and titles, orienteering adds a personal reward by fostering an environment for the growth of team members.


“I love how it builds independence and self-confidence. It takes a degree of confidence to go out into the woods in unfamiliar territory with only a compass and a map to guide you. It gets kids out into parks and open-spaces in our community doing physical activity,” said Joe. “It also teaches problem-solving and develops grit and perseverance.”


The scoring system depends on the top three scorers of the team, so it favors teams with a larger number of participants.


“The dedication and determination of the girls meant that we usually had at least a few runners getting points for the team each week,” said Dakota. “The same was true for the boys; however, most of the schools had well over 6 runners whereas we had only 4, making placing more difficult.”


Orienteering is an appealing sport to the students of RAHS because of the necessary intellectual abilities.


“For someone who is not necessarily gifted with speed, such as myself,” said Dakota, “orienteering provides me with a more even playing field because intuition is just as valuable as speed in orienteering.”


Preparation for events comes in many forms, from reviewing general maps of the park to practicing with others to even pre-event rituals.


“The course is secret so there is no way of preparing for the specific course prior to the event,” said Dakota. “During the off-season, The Cascade Orienteering Club organizes many events that our team participates in just to keep our navigational ability fresh. A personal tradition before the meet is eat Easy-Mac and [drink] a coffee before I run.”


After participating in an orienteering team in each of their middle schools, Colledge and Dakota cooperated to bring orienteering to RAHS.


“They were the ones who wrote an article for the NOTAM to create interest,” said Joe, “held information meetings, and led summer training opportunities that got the team going in the first place.”


Other benefits that the students gain from orienteering include improving their health and simultaneously forming stronger bonds with their teammates.


“We know that daily health and fitness is critical, so orienteering is a fun way to gain fitness and PE credit as well as get to know people from other grades,” said Colledge. “There are also quite a few off-season races coming up, so these are great opportunities to try out orienteering with our team.”


Even with all the victories, members like sophomore Troy Leighton have big goals for the future of the team.


“I want to do even better than what we did this year,” said Leighton. “I want to be able to see our team expand and be able to beat some of the other teams, and then fundraise enough to go to a national competition.”


Because the team is so new, they are trying to bulk up their numbers and add new members to the orienteering family.
“We take pride at Raisbeck for our mental toughness and ability, and in no sport is mental ability as crucial as it is in orienteering,” said Dakota. “We hope that we can further establish a team that represents the school but also provides a source of interaction and fun for those [that are] a part of it. If anyone is interested in joining of have any questions, feel free to email me at or contact Lynnea Colledge at”

Weather balloon project takes off


On Memorial Day weekend in 2017, RAHS Satellite Club plans to launch a weather balloon in Ritzville, Washington to test their software for future use.


A special sub team was created to design and launch the weather balloon, comprised of juniors Miles Durnwirth, Brynne Hunt, Andrew Struthers, Josh Sherbrooke, and Cole Evans. Their main goal is to synthesize all the work they have done by launching a smaller project before their eventual satellite.


“A lot of people wanted to focus just on building a satellite,” said Evans, “but we’ve progressed a lot as a team and we want to get experience building something tangible that we’re going to launch.”


Durnwirth, who launched a weather balloon in his middle school days, feels that a weather balloon is logical step before launching an actual satellite.


“We wanted to test the systems,” said Durnwirth, “and if that goes fine, then, as a secondary goal, we’re kind of hoping it will break the speed of sound, which is very possible with the design that we’re using.”


Andrew Struthers and Josh Sherbrooke were tasked with the programming of the weather balloon software.


“Along with Josh, I’m the only other person [in Satellite Club] who knows how to program well enough to do anything on the balloon,” said Struthers, “and we need to have programmers, so I was put on the team.”


Hunt, on the other hand, is in charge of the business side of the weather balloon team, which includes reaching out to the community.


“We’re teaming up with the Highline School District,” said Hunt, “and we’re going to launch at least five middle school payloads, [such as] projects that they want to send on the balloon, under a 10 x 10 x 10 cm size constraint.”


Planetary Resources Director of Marketing and Communications Caitlin O’Keefe Dietrich is proud to say that the company has been mentoring and providing guidance to the club.


“We really hope to see the Raisbeck Aviation High School Satellite Club not only succeed in their goals of building and launching,” said Dietrich, “but also having opportunities to take away key learning points to help [their] future projects.


In fact, Planetary Resources, in their effort to support Satellite Club, donated balloons and parachutes to the weather balloon team.


“The main reason why we wanted to make sure we were involved in [the Satellite Club] is because we’re very dedicated to helping [them] promote [their] study of anything STEM related, certainly aerospace related,” said Dietrich. “We also have an investment in making sure that all the students there [at RAHS] have many learning opportunities to help prepare them for college.”


Planetary Resources is preparing not only for the future of the students, but also the future of the aerospace field.


“We feel that you are the future of our industry, and we want to do what we can to help you grow and succeed in the future, so supporting the Satellite Club is priority for us,” said Dietrich. “Also, offering things like internships is a priority for our team here at Planetary because we want to be involved in your path through high school and beyond.”


With every project comes unique challenges, and Satellite Club recognizes those challenges and is currently formulating plans to overcome them.


“Tracking is the main issue we’re having now, said Evans. “It goes up 120,000 feet and gets blown hundreds of miles by the wind, so we need to be able to actually find it after it lands because we have thousands of dollars worth of equipment.”


For Satellite Club, the whole experience of building and launching their rocket is what matters, far from the end product.


“I hope it works,” said Hunt. “If we can get everything together and get it to launch, even if it comes crashing down, I’ll still be happy. I’m just happy that it’s happening.”

New Aeronautical Science Pathway appears on student’s radars

Victoria McSmith and her peers listen to their instructor, Ms. Robin Lee, as she explains the guidelines of their most recent project.
Victoria McSmith and her peers listen to their instructor, Ms. Robin Lee, as she explains the guidelines of their most recent project.

Following the start of the 2016-2017 school year, the Aeronautical Science Pathway program entices not only RAHS students, but students from other districts as well, to the Museum of Flight after school from 3:45 to 6 pm.


This after school course is for seniors and juniors, like senior Victoria McSmith, who want to go into the aviation industry, particularly those who want to become a pilot, drone pilot, air traffic controller, airline dispatcher, or airport manager.


“It’s a good way to decide whether you want to go into aviation,” said McSmith. “We’ve already done a careers project, so it’s kind of interesting to see the different careers that you can go into from this program or a college that has a four year program for aerospace or aviation.”


Reba Gilman, former principal of RAHS and founder of ASP, supports getting students in the aviation field from a young age to begin to combat the growing market.


“It came to be from knowing that there is a huge demand that is not being met for pilots and airlines operations personnel,” said Gilman. “I serve on a national advisory committee for high school aviation and we’re made very aware of this critical need in the workforce.”


Junior Sameer Romani, who is determined to become a pilot for Emirates, joined this program to get a leg up in his future.


“I want to go to an aviation college,” said Romani, “so with aviation college credits, that gets me into the industry a lot faster.”


Other than following the path to their prospective careers, the college credits turned out to be a major factor in what attracted students to this program.


“I think that by the time I am out of this thing, it should be sixty college credits, since it’s a two year course,” said Romani. “Hopefully then I can start college as a junior and halfway through my Bachelor’s degree.”


Since this is the first year of the program, seniors that joined are only able to participate for one year of the course and gain thirty credits. Even so, these credits play a huge difference in their futures.


“It’s a great help, especially if you’re a junior and you don’t want to send your high school transcript,” said McSmith. “A lot of colleges, after you get thirty college credits, will take college transcripts over high school transcripts.”


For students with big goals, like McSmith, perhaps the most exciting part of gaining college credits is the fact that they are free.


“I want to go to Embry Riddle or Westminster,” said McSmith, “and those are both private colleges, and private colleges are a lot more expensive, especially if you’re trying to do aviation. I’m hoping by having some college credit already that I can transfer those in and I won’t have to spend as much time at college paying tuition.”


With the cost of training and college being so high, students can often become discouraged from joining the aviation industry.


“There’s a lot of young people who would like to go into this field,” said Gilman, “if we can just make it affordable for them.”


While the college credits are tempting, students like Romani are underwhelmed by the overall structure of the new program.


“The only thing I’m a bit disappointed in with the course right now,” said Romani, “is that it’s just sort of lacking structure, so I’m not really learning anything new.”


ASP was approved late, putting Robin Lee, the instructor of the program, and Gilman behind schedule in the creation and organization of the program.


“I know that eventually, we’ll get everything smoothed out,” said Lee, “but right now it is [having] growing pains.”


For potential candidates who want to apply for ASP, Romani recommends standing by until a structure forms in the program.


“I would wait for things to start molding before you enroll,” said Romani. “While it is an honor to be a part of the inaugural class, the price you pay is that you have to wait for people to figure stuff out, and that’s at the expense of your own time.”


Currently, the ASP program is partnered with Green River College to support those who want to enter into the aviation industry. Their hope for the future, however, is to expand this program to different parts of the country and be the leader in this growing program.


“We would be there to mentor those organizations and help them with their programs,” said Lee. “All the pain that we’re currently going through, they will hopefully not have to go through because we’ve already learned all the hard lessons.”

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Mentor inspires and changes lives

From left to right, Sameer Romani, Kris Taylor, and Captain Steve Taylor enjoy a dazzling night getting to know one another at the Pathfinder Gala.

Through his efforts in making professional connections, sophomore Sameer Romani has found desirable qualities and wisdom in his mentor, Captain Steve Taylor, who has plenty to teach him.

“When I first met Captain Taylor, I knew I wanted to be a pilot,” said Romani. “After meeting him, I knew the kind of person I wanted to be. With every interaction that followed, I learned not only how to prepare myself for the aviation industry, but how to be a decent human being.”

Taylor has a great amount of respect for Romani because of his personality, maturity, and his hunger for the the future.

“I would describe Sameer as a very fine young man; creative, polite, focused, and highly motivated,” said Taylor. “He is very polished, well beyond what would [be] reasonable to expect for a young man his age.”

Romani looks up to and admires Taylor and, because of his knowledge and experience, always takes his advice to heart.

“I’d describe my mentor as a selfless, humble individual who is exquisitely wise,” said Romani. “His knowledge of the aviation industry and experience in leadership has been an invaluable combination which has made for priceless advice. In short – if someone were to represent humility in the form of a human being, it’d be a mirror image of my mentor.”

Taylor makes a great role model for Romani, helping to guide him to his future career and the person Romani aspires to be.

“Captain Taylor is one of the most effective leaders I’ve had the pleasure of meeting within this industry and merely being in his presence is an honor,” said Romani. “He offers me something which not many can–the ability to see myself as the person I’d like to be.”

This mentor/mentee relationship is not one-sided, seeing as Romani has plenty to offer Taylor in return for his wisdom and experience.

“I can help Sameer with the wisdom that only comes from experience,” said Taylor. “Sameer constantly reminds me of the joy of youth since his enthusiasm is unbridled by the baggage that comes along with experience.”

Instead of being matched through RAHS’ mentor network, Romani went out of his way to make connections, resulting in meeting his mentor.

“Captain Taylor and I met on LinkedIn, a social media site, after I sent him a connection request,” said Romani. “I intended to expand my network in the aviation industry and was unsure of how this method would work out. Within hours, he had accepted my request.”

While Romani was surprised, Taylor knew of RAHS and the high level of professionalism that the students present.

“I have always been impressed with Raisbeck [Aviation] High [School] students, so it was natural for me to accept the connection,” said Taylor. “All the credit goes to Sameer.”

Taylor agreed to be Romani’s mentor after only one meeting because of the similarities that he recognized between them.

“Sameer’s confidence in his plans for the future reminded me of my similar confidence at that age,” said Taylor. “My career didn’t turn out to look like what I expected it to and I think I can use that experience to help Sameer find the path that’s right for him.”

Though their relationship is mostly a professional partnership, Romani and Taylor have a more personal connection than most mentor/mentee pairs. The personal aspect of their mentorship has grown through special events, allowing them to be there for each other when times get rough.

“On the day of Halloween, my mentor invited me to attend his father’s memorial service,” said Romani. “Knowing it was a sensitive moment, what could I say? Before I knew it, I found myself in a church, being the only Indian guy wearing an all black suit. And no, it was not my costume. It was an honor to attend the event, despite the somber occasion. I knew my mentor would do the same for me had I been in this predicament.”

Romani went out of his way to make connections and he is very grateful that he did, seeing as it resulted in meeting Taylor outside the RAHS mentor program.
“My experience with the mentor program has been a mostly positive experience,” said Romani. “While I feel the breakfasts have too many presentations, it’s been a valuable way to converse with my mentor and meet others.”

Don’t judge a book by its cover

Small boxes, labelled “mini libraries,” were recently placed across the RAHS campus with the hopes that the “take one, leave one” rule will help spread books around the school.

Freshman Heidi Yagen, creator of the mini libraries, not only wanted to add some literature to the RAHS campus, but also wanted to bring a sense of community and joy.

“It only takes one person to take action and make a difference,” said Yagen, “and no one is stopping you from doing something great. Besides, surprises give people smiles and the community runs on smiles.”

With all the other activities that are offered at RAHS, there’s little time for students to get to a public library in order to support their reading habits.

“That’s the one thing that I wish Raisbeck [had] a library,” said Yagen. “Perfect for studying and just reading.”

When Yagen first discovered box libraries in her neighborhood, she found them to be an excellent way to spread books and cheer.

“The idea started a year ago when I was walking down Three Tree Point along the Puget Sound and I stumbled across two ‘little libraries,’” said Yagen. “They were so cute and adorable!”

In order to get her library project going, Yagen simply decorated a box, added books, and later hung up posters to advertise her creation.

“I actually didn’t ask any ‘officials’ like Mr. Kelly, I think that it was better to surprise everyone, than to give people a heads up,” said Yagen. “Besides, it wasn’t anything bad, so I figured it be nice to just ‘sneak attack’ the school with happiness.”

According to Yagen’s research, the little libraries are a great way to encourage the community to come together and share favorite books with each other.

“The average library receives 1,800 visits a year, but most cities have more than 1,800 families,” said Yagen, “however these little box libraries receive 3 million visits annually.”

While exploring, an organization that helps people get involved in community service, Yagen found the “box o’ books” campaign and immediately signed up for it.

“[The ‘box o’ books’ campaign is] an anonymous and free ‘take one, leave one’ book drop,” said, “to donate reading materials to those who may need it most.” recognizes the fact that many families do not have access to libraries or books in general, which hurts their children’s education. With little libraries showing up all over the place, students are able to discover more books, which could lead to more success in schools.

“Access to books and other reading materials,” said, “greatly increases a student’s chance of success in school.”

Through, Yagen has participated in many other activities that benefit the community.

“Before the box of books, I’ve participated in the ‘everyday superheroes’ campaign, from March 1 to March 20,” said Yagen. “I’ve made 901 cards and I’ve earned $25 for having the most ‘Wondrous Women.’”

Despite her enrollment at RAHS, Yagen even ventured to Highline High School to spread some cheer to the students there.

“I stuck sticky notes with positive compliments,” said Yagen, “like ‘You’re amazing’ on a majority of the lockers at that school.”

Yagen’s main goal with her community activities, especially the box library at RAHS, is to make people smile and feel joyful.

“So for those of you negative, book-haters,” said Yagen, “[sic] HA- IN YOUR FACES, I BE KILLING IT IN THE GAME! NOW GO READ SOME BOOKS ‘CAUSE I’VE GOT YOU BEAT!”

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