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New math teacher solves schedule problems

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Sophomores scramble to meet tight ECP deadlines

Sophomores (from left to right) Max Mellroth, Nick Ankuta, and Malia Houghton rehearse before their ECP presentation
Photo by Ava Yniguez

The annual Environmental Challenge Project (ECP) kicked off 17 April. However, this year’s timeline is different as there is one less week for students to prepare before presenting to the Port of Seattle airport director and their committee.

Sophomore Nick Ankuta feels that having more time to complete the project would have been helpful.

“[The timeline] didn’t affect us much the first week. We didn’t completely know what we were getting into,” said Ankuta. “But two weeks in, we can feel the presentation approaching and we’re both rushed and stressed.”

Groups have had to cope with not having access to the information they need in order to get started on their projects.

It’s been difficult getting all of the information we feel we need. On top of that, figuring out what exactly we need and what is actually important,” said Ankuta. “We’ve had a lot of little ideas that, after a second thought, were actually completely irrelevant.”

Students aren’t the only ones affected by the ECP. The strict timeline has taken a toll on students and teachers alike. Sophomore literature teacher Wayne Storer struggles with balancing his scheduling and the ECP schedule.

“It’s been difficult for me; I’m a planner and I’m really organized; Everything about this feels last minute and massive amounts of changes have had to happen on the fly,” said Storer. “Add that to the fact that I’m teaching a brand new curriculum… because when I finally think I’ve got something down and we have a nice plan, then something in this project changes. I don’t know if anyone could have anticipated [these changes].”

The time constraint have been both restrictive in some ways and helpful in others. Ankuta and his group have explored both aspects of this project.

“The students of our class like doing a good job (my group at least). We hate not being able to explore everything we know we could if we had a little bit more time,” said Ankuta. “The time constraint keeps us from doing the work we want to do. Although on the bright side, that means we’re forced to identify the things most important to us.”

On the other hand, Lena Seidel, a junior at RAHS has a different perspective on the ECP.

“The prompt this year is quite different from last year’s. We had to create a plan to develop three different plots of lands, rather than a renovation,” said Seidel. “While the three week time period is quite a lot shorter, I think that it’s reasonable for this prompt, at least from what I know.”

The timeframe has been shortened on behalf of the Port of Seattle for unclear reasons.

“[The ECP] is much shorter. I think it is, in fact, a week shorter than previous,” said Storer. “The other thing that I’ve heard is that the question this year is the most realistic and the feedback seems to be the most positive compared to previous years.”

Although the timeframe has been altered, there are techniques that Storer says can help students cope better with the time demands.

“I have seen my students work more diligently on this project than anything else. My advice is to ask for help,” said Storer. “Most of these skills other than presentation skills are not things that are in my [expertise].”

In comparison to last year’s problem to solve, Seidel uses her past experiences to understand how this year’s students and time compare.

“I don’t remember exactly how much time we had, but I believe it was between a month and a month and a half from start to finish,” said Seidel. “I felt that my group had enough time to prepare for the final presentation. As long as you were careful to turn in everything on time and stay on top of all the different aspects of the project, there was ample time to finish.”

Even with the shortened time period, students will be able to push through to complete the task at hand.

“This is going to get quite stressful for the sophomores, but it’s doable and it’ll end up being a great experience, said Seidel. “It’s a real-world application of what they’ve been learning, and will certainly be a memorable project.”

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Ross and Bergin commence a new way for students to learn instruments

Wren Bergin (left) and Davie Anne Ross (right) perform a musical piece to RAHS students.
Photo by: Ava Yniguez

RAHS sophomores Wren Bergin and Davie Anne Ross are in the process of setting up a music lessons program at Highline High School. The two offer instrument lessons ranging from novice to advanced in expertise based on the student’s instrument of choice. Anyone with a passion for learning or improving their skills with an instrument of choice is encouraged to participate.

Bergin and Ross pride themselves on their approach to teaching styles geared towards the individual and their unique pricing structure, separating them from other music lesson rates in the area.

“Davie Anne and I are offering $15 or less per lesson which is more accessible to all families. said Bergin. Another difference is that Davie and I are 10th graders, our students are 3-5 years younger than us. We are old enough that they will listen to us but we are young enough to know the musical pathway they have been put through in elementary/middle school.”

Although the logistics of the program are to be discussed further, there are many benefits to the music lessons that Bergin and Ross are offering.

“The Highline School District has many benefits, musical education [is] not one of them. Music is one of the most abstract forms of art and has been proven to have a direct correlation with advantageous brain stimulation.” Bergin said.  “I am hoping we can provide these students with motivation and education to help them in their student careers.”

Jason Dominguez, a current student learning the piano under Bergin, is excited to learn music without breaking the bank.

“I chose to take lessons this way because it was a much cheaper way to get a good musical education.” said Dominguez.

As Bergin and Ross have expertise in multiple instruments, students can take up any from a wide variety of options.

“I play piano, clarinet, saxophone, and have intermediate experience on flute. I am offering lessons in any of these families (i.e. alto sax, tenor sax, baritone sax, bass clarinet),” said Bergin.

“I play violin primarily and have for almost decade; therefore, I will be offering violin lessons and possibly viola as well.” said Ross.

No prior knowledge or skill is required to take lessons. Wren Bergin and Davie Anne Ross have already been contacted by prospective students and may be contacted directly if one is interested in joining and participating.

“We have emailed and gotten responses from various elementary and middle schools around the district, most of which [we have] personal connections with.” said Bergin. “We plan to give presentations each year to inspire new recruits.”

Ross hopes to partner with local music stores and to expand to other schools.

“‘In the near future, we look forward to partnering with local music stores in order to provide instruments [for students’ use] that are clearly so vital to learning about the mechanics and technique of music,” said Ross. “‘Lastly, we both live within a five-mile radius of Highline High School, Gregory Heights, Sylvester, CHOICE, and many other Highline District locations.’”

Bergin and Ross are both well versed in playing instruments within ensembles and in music theory.

The instruments I play fall into the band category (excluding piano) and Davie Anne has a lot of experience with instruments in the orchestra.” said Bergin. “We are both well versed in music theory and instrument fundamentals and we both have experience with interacting with this age group.”

Their program differs from that of regular music lessons, as Ross and Bergin have implemented a different approach to learning an instrument.

“We anticipate that the message of our program will resonate more deeply with students because we will be leading with the impact of music on our lives and character and not the technicality of learning an instrument,” said Ross.

The benefits offered by providing an array of options, are geared toward students’ needs, relating it to personal learning experiences.

“This angle is, in our opinion, significantly more beneficial and sustainable because in order for an individual to learn an instrument to the best of their capabilities, they need to first understand how much they can truly gain from their commitment.” said Ross. “I can say that if I had realized this earlier on, then I would be years ahead of where I am now skillswise.”

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