Master schedule poses problems for students, teachers

The master schedule impacts everyone in the school. The symptoms of an ineffective master schedule range from students retaking electives and  teachers with over-enrolled classes to many of seniors with empty periods. Additionally, several teacher have multiple Teacher Assistants (TAs), even in the same period.


“I currently have nine TAs. At the beginning of the year I had sixteen TAs,” said humanities teacher Marcie Wombold. “This year has been the worst: I have more students without a place to go than in previous years.”


Within the class that produces this newspaper itself, sixth-period Journalism, is not only fully enrolled with thirty-two students, but the class also has three teacher’s assistants. One of whom only agreed to be in such a position to continue to be a member of the paper-producing staff.


As underclassmen, students are often placed into electives that are normally reserved for upperclassmen due to overfilled sections of freshman electives. Once those students become juniors and seniors, there is no reason for them to take the class again. This creates a vacuum of class enrollment which is one of the key problems with the schedule.


According to Marcie Wombold, this means “we create a larger and larger problem the longer we don’t fix the schedule, which is why I think it has gotten so bad this year.”


The layout of the master schedule has seen little change since the founding of the school. In general, classes have always been laid out so that the electives are in the afternoon, and core classes occupy first through fourth periods. According to Marcie Wombold, for the past five years the master schedule has been the main topic of scrutiny in addressing these problems.


“Putting electives over the course of the day so that we have core classes in the afternoon as well,” said Wombold, “is the easiest and most prevalent request for the change of the master schedule, so that we do not limit electives to the afternoon.”


Unfortunately, the problem cannot be solved as simply as making some classes take place earlier in the day. One of the problems that the designers of the master schedule run into is the uncertainty of how class requests equates to class registration. School counselor Katie Carper is one of the people who contributes to making the schedule.


“Our students aren’t robots,” said Carper. “You want one thing in February and another thing in September–and that’s okay, we want you to be able to take the classes you want.”


Carper tries to assign students to the classes they want, but this is not as easy as it may seem. Carper said her role in the making of the master schedule wasn’t to put together the schedule itself, but rather to poke holes in the one the administrators have come up with.


“Putting kids into the schedule has to be the most challenging part of the job,” said Carper. “If no one ever changed classes, you’re looking at between two and three thousand data points. That leaves a lot of room to make a mistake.”


Trying to get students into the classes they ranked the highest is one of the biggest challenges that Carper faces. Working students into “singleton classes,” that is, classes that are only taught for one period a day, is one of the most difficult parts of the job.


“Sometimes it would be nice to make AP Chem and AP Calc BC at different times of the day, but it just doesn’t work for some teachers,” Carper went on. “Take Mr. Shiroma for example, he teaches Art and regular chemistry in addition to AP Chem, and those classes have certain places were they have to be.”


Katie Carper wanted to make it clear that her first priority, contrary to many students’ misconceptions, is not placing students in the classes they desire.


“My first priority is maintaining the mental health of the student body,” said Carper. “My next is making sure everyone has the credits to graduate, and class schedules is only a small part of that.”


Students should understand that the issue of getting into the classes they want is not the school’s first priority. The school’s priority is getting kids the credit to graduate and following the mission statement of the school, which is “to prepare all students for college, career and citizenship through a personalized, rigorous and relevant learning experience that is facilitated in the context of aviation and aerospace,” which does not mean enrolling each student in every class he or she wants.


Given the small size of the school, there is no single blanket method in repairing the master schedule. In an effort to lessen the problem, the PTSA fought to find scholarships for students to take health online. Already, enough students are taking health online that the school has dropped one class of health in exchange for offering one more section of AP Physics.


Teachers with dual endorsements offer flexibility to the schedule. For example, teachers dual endorsed in Social Studies and English provide the schedule with the opportunity to change the classes they teach in order to benefit the schedule and place more students in the classes they desire.

Secret language discovered for mating couples

Raisbeck Geographic has taken an in-depth look into the mating rituals of the tribesmen and what traditions they have in regards to courtship and reproduction.

Despite the surplus of males, due to the ancient battle among the females of the tribe, as investigated by Biologist Vincent Pierce, many females in the tribe refuse to mate. In fact, many females seem to be romantically committed to each other instead of with men. The same trend has been observed in the males of the tribe, who display seemingly sensual gestures towards each other, followed by the ritual saying of the phrase “noh-oh-moh.” I began my studies by embracing one of the male members of the tribe in one of these social gestures, and the tribesmen welcomed me into their society with their tribal-brethren term “bruh.”

Additionally, the ritual painting of female faces seems to have little to no correlation with the willingness to copulate, despite previous suspicions. It does seem that the younger members of the tribe are not as well versed in the technical skill of this painting. When I attempted to point this out to one of the individuals, she seemed to become upset with me, and her paintings began to run and smear.

One of the questions raised in our encounters has been the significance of the term “bay.” It is possible that the use of the term signifies the sexual orientation of the user of the word. It has been noted that females of the tribe refer to each other by this term in a very wide and varied way. In addition, females appear to be closely romantically involved. These interpersonal relationships do not seem to be monogamous, as females will usually act romantically towards a group of about five to ten girls, which they refer to as their “skwad.”

We postulate that these “skwads” of females are mating groups, whose goal is to prey upon the weak and separated males that cower from the more dominant females.

Based on my observations, I believe in this culture that kissing is some form of non-verbal communication with no patterns to whom they engage in the face-eating with. I observed a pair engaging in what seemed to be a philosophical inquiry one morning.

To further investigate into this hidden language, I approached a female to engage in this type of dialogue. She accepted, and while our exchange was brief, I do believe I was able to discern a glimpse of grammar.

Building on my discoveries, I attempted to join one of the vehement philosophical debates I witnessed between one of the older tribesmen and a younger female, as seems to be the usual case. In this effort, I was met with severe hostility, and I now believe that this form of communication to be a very private one, which cannot be interrupted.

By disguising myself as a native, I was able to further study this language by courting one of the red caste females, who seemed eager to commence in an allegorical debate. Through our unspoken discussions, I believe that I have begun to put together a vocabulary and a rough set of conjugation forms.

It appears that after the males and females of the Noitaiva commence their courtships, they progress to a point of mating, which seems to take place in the outside area inside the quadracycles. These sexual relations seem to be more as a recreational sort of activity than for reproductive purposes.

I was able to get very near one of these partitions in my studies, and I was able to very carefully document the course of the encounter. In my future expeditions, I hope to be able to participate first-hand in a recreational match such as this. Hopefully, I will be able to compare our two societies’ procedures and traditions regarding mating.

Editor’s Note: Mr. Hendrickson’s actions and interactions with the Noitaiva females are blatant violations of the anthropological code of conduct. We do not condone these actions and have reprimanded Mr. Hendrickson by removing him from the Raisbeck Geographic staff. The incidents among Q13 Fox remind us that direct contact with these native peoples can be dangerous to their society and our researches, potentially compromising the entire investigation. Despite these controversies, we have elected to publish Mr. Hendrickson’s findings, as they still promote intellectual discourse in regards to the Noitaiva.


Dropping gas prices promote student driving

As gas prices begin to rise again, many students have some advice on how to stretch their dollars as far as possible.

Students like Carlos Navarro, a senior who lives south of Tacoma, who consistently drive long distances to and from school have had a positive effect from falling gas prices. Even though he has benefitted from this, Navarro tries to save as much money on gasoline as he can.

“I’ve found that the farther you get from the city [Seattle,] the cheaper gas is,” said Navarro. “The most expensive I’ve ever seen gas would be in Downtown Seattle or in Bellevue.”

Gas stations often have to compete with each other, especially when two or more gas stations are within a couple of blocks from each other. That being said, not all gas stations see each other as competition. For example, Shell does not compete with Costco, Fred Meyers, and Big K.

Senior Sean Wong, who drives a car that takes 92 grade gasoline, has found that certain gas stations will charge significantly less on a regular basis.

“The cheapest I’ve ever been able to find gas,” said Wong, “is from an Arco on South Grady Way in Renton. That one always seems to have the cheapest gas around.”

Certain stores like Fred Meyer’s, Arco, and Costco have been seen to deal gasoline for much cheaper than their competitors. As a general trend, Shell and Chevron stations charge around twenty to fifty cents more per gallon for gas. This is because they claim to increase ones miles per gallon which, according to their website, is because of the additives of their brand of gasoline.

“I’ve noticed I don’t get as far on one fill-up from Arco as other stations,” said Wong. “But even so, it’s not that much of a difference to the point where I would go somewhere else.”

Fred Meyer’s offers membership rewards based on money spent towards groceries at the store.

“With membership rewards, I’ve been able to get gas down to $1.79 per gallon,” said Navarro. “If you fill up gas after shopping for groceries, that’s the best way to save your money.”

According to Navarro, the Chevron on East Marginal is usually some of the most expensive gas around, despite savings from Safeway rewards. Navarro continued that gas is usually cheaper a couple of miles away from major highways and roads.

Open post

Students enter through the back door without permission

The magazine placed in the door jam keeps the door from closing all the way. Students place the magazine door every day. Photo by: Chris Hendrickson

Since moving to the new campus, RAHS students have been confused on the rules regarding entering the school through the South doors and have raised questions on why use of the door is not allowed.

“Official school policy is that students must enter through the front door of the building,” said Dean of Students Nuka Nurzhanov.

Students have questioned the purpose of this policy, as the door is more convenient upon entering through the parking lot.

“I don’t see why we can’t use the back door,” said senior Carlos Navarro. “I mean, the door’s there. If we aren’t allowed to use it, why did they put it there?”

According to Theta Hiranaka, the school’s Office Assistant, coming in through the back door is unsafe, and administration would prefer students to enter through the front.

“From where I sit at my desk, I can’t see anyone who enters through that door,” said Hiranaka, “and I would feel more safe with the back entrance locked.”

The sentiment is felt not only by Hiranaka, but by the others on the office staff as well.

“With the active shooting threat that happened in Marysville, and the gun threats at Auburn Riverside and Tyee,” said Nurzhanov, “the staff would feel safer with the back door out of use.”

“We’ve gotten some strange people walk through these doors,” said Hiranaka. “I’ve had people walk in off the streets asking if they could take a look around the building.”

The South end door leads to the gravel excess parking lot, which is technically Museum of Flight Property.

“Before too long,” said Hiranaka, “we won’t have access to that door at all. That door is going to lead to the airpark.”

In 2017, the covered airpark will extend all the way to the school. At this time, the door will connect with the park, and students will have no choice but to walk around to the front of the building.

“The reason the door isn’t allowed to be used is because of safety,” said Hiranaka. “It’s an added benefit that it will prepare students for when we can no longer use it.”

Even when the doors are locked, students still find a way through the doors. Students who eat lunch underneath the main staircase have a habit of opening the door to their classmates returning from eating out.

“I know we aren’t allowed to let people in,” said freshman Josh Sherbrook, “but I still do it, because it’s the nice thing to do.”

Some students have taken to sticking a Museum of Flight Magazine in the door so that students can get in more easily.

“I’ve put the magazine in the door before,” said Helena Cassam, a freshman. “I sit downstairs in the morning and it makes it so I don’t have to get up to let people in.”

Students breaking this rule will not face consequences for letting students in through the back entrance, despite the strict policy.

“We aren’t going to get anyone in trouble for using the door,” said Hiranaka. “There will be no punishment for breaking the rule.”

“It’s nice that the administration isn’t being strict about the rule,” said junior Kara de Leon, “but at the same time, if it’s a safety issue, we shouldn’t take too much advantage of the door to the point that it becomes a problem.”

According to Hiranaka, placing rocks and magazines in the door start to push the boundaries of the leniency, and students’ respect for the policy would be appreciated even if it isn’t harshly enforced.

George Orwell’s predictions are false

It is undeniable that today’s society has become a reality like that in George Orwell’s 1984. However, what the novice author got wrong was accurately portraying the world’s current state.

Today, our world is defined by the omnipresence of war. The United States battles against faceless enemies like ISIS and al Qaeda, just as in the novel, Oceania waged an endless war against Eastasia and Eurasia. Our world is the same as in the novel, and yet, our lives are great. Coffee’s still warm and gas prices are low. Nothing like the dystopia Orwell thought it would be. Our enemy has changed its name at least three times in the last couple decades: USSR, the Taliban, al Qaeda, ISIS–they’re all the same! We are in constant warfare with these entities and, unlike in the novel, our lives are great.

The National Security Agency has hacked into nearly every single American’s phone, credit card, and email records. This didn’t lead to people being thrown in jail and lynched off of the streets. Well, not the good people. Instead, the number of terrorist attacks is the lowest it has been in the past thirteen years. In fact, the number of terrorist attacks post-2001 are the same amount of terrorist attacks the United States experienced before then. Our hardworking government puts an end to 99.99999% of the attacks. When an attempt rarely proves to be successful, it is only because the universe has aligned in such a way that even the US government can’t handle.

Despite the alleged breaches to the public’s privacy such as the PRISM, no one has made a considerable complaint in regards to this. No one seems to think all of these breaches in their privacy is a bad thing. Wouldn’t it surprise the average Joe that our nation spying on us puts the enemies of the state at a disadvantage? Even though the United States suffers the occasional terrorist attack, we cannot even fathom how many more there would be without a passionate, dutiful, and caring government monitoring the population’s every move. Orwell tried to scare readers into believing that such actions would be a negative thing, but in fact, the stability of American society lies solely on the shoulders of the three letter agency that keeps an ever watchful eye over everything we do.


Open post

Students spin into record and book stores

Senior Sean Wong browses through the alternative rock bins at Georgetown Records in search of interesting finds. The store carries a wide variety of bins that range from classical music to punk rock. Photo by Chris Hendrickson

Comics and music are two things that students don’t get a lot of in class. Fortunately, on South Vale Street in Georgetown, Fantagraphics and Georgetown Records are stores that provide students a pleasant release from stress with a one-of-a-kind comic and record-finding experience.

According to their website, “Georgetown Records was founded as an independent neighborhood record store in 2004. Besides selling records, we host live music, book signings, and art events in conjunction with our neighbors and comrades at Fantagraphics Books.”

Many students have had the opportunity to visit the record store since the school’s move to its Tukwila campus. Cynthia Tran, a senior at RAHS, explored the store over the summer.

“It’s really cool because it’s also connected to a bookshop,” said Tran. “It gives it a kind of vintage feel.”

Many students find interest in vinyl records and in collecting and searching for new albums. This subculture at RAHS is conveniently catered to by the proximity of Georgetown Records. Another senior, Sean Wong, recently visited the record store in search of new albums.

“I’ve always been interested in collecting records,” said senior Sean Wong. “I hadn’t heard of Georgetown Records until just recently, and I’ve found that it has a pretty good selection. It’s nice that it’s only 10 minutes from the school.”

In comparison with some other record shops that Anselmo had visited, he found that Georgetown did not have as much as some other stores he had been to before, but had some unique finds he hadn’t seen before.

“Georgetown Records doesn’t have as wide a selection as Easy Street in West Seattle,” said Anselmo. “I did find an interesting Frank Sinatra album.”

The store is owned by 12 separate owners, including Martin Imbach, who is one of the major buyers of records.

“Georgetown has a wide variety of record selections,” said Imbach, “ranging from punk and garage rock to Middle Eastern music and everything in between. Country, Jazz, Progressive, Classic rock, are all well represented in our bins.”

The store also buys records on Saturdays from customers wishing to get rid of their collections.

“We buy LP’s, 12 inch singles and 45’s. We do not buy 78’s, CD’s or DVD’s,” said Imbach. “The only CD’s we carry are by local musicians and bands. We are always happy to look at your records and we buy depending on the condition and the pressing of the vinyl.”

Next door to Georgetown Records is Fantagraphics Books, a locally-owned comic book publisher and distributor. Social studies teacher Jacob Savishinsky is an avid fan of the store.

“I was living in Georgetown when Fantagraphics first opened, and it kind of rekindled my love of those oddball stories and art styles,” said Savishinsky. “I was a pretty serious comic collector as a kid. I always had a taste for the more offbeat, weird indy comics rather than typical superhero stuff.”

Fantagraphics doesn’t sell major brands such as Marvel, DC Comics, or manga. Instead, the store specializes in local writers of graphic novels, and more serial comics. Additionally, Fantagraphics carries some collections of more wider known newspaper comic artists like Charles M. Schulz.

“My most amazing Fantagraphics experience is getting to meet Joe Sacco, he’s an award-winning journalist and comic artist who publishes serious investigative war journalism in comic form,” said Savishinsky. “He tells incredibly deep and personal stories from his experiences in war-torn countries, and illustrates them in a graphic novel style. I’ve loved his work for years, and I got to meet and talk with him at an in-store event.”

Fantagraphics hosts in-store signings, like the one Savishinsky attended roughly once a month, or whenever an artist wants to hold a signing or book release.

“If it weren’t for places like Fantagraphics,” said Savishinsky, “comics would be limited to dudes in capes and tights, when in truth the art form has the potential to be so much more than that.”

Students interested in visiting these stores can take the 124 bus north towards Georgetown, and then the stores are just a block from the bus stop at South Nebraska St.

Open post

Yehya Elmasry catches up with Phoenix Flyer

Yehya Elmasry was a member of robotics, along with Noah Voges, the host Elmasry stayed with while in the United States. Elmasry and Voges still keep in touch.

Yehya Elmasry is an Egyptian-born foreign exchange student who attended Raisbeck Aviation High School during the 2013-2014 school year. Elmasry made many friends during his term at RAHS, and recently, the Phoenix Flyer had the chance to catch up with this student to hear how he is adjusting to moving back to Egypt.

How are you adjusting to moving back to Egypt?

It wasn’t until I contemplated studying abroad for a year that I realized that versatility is such an important quality. When I first arrived in the U.S., it didn’t take me much time to adapt because I knew I was going to experience a different culture. On the other hand, going back to Egypt seemed so peculiar at the beginning; I felt very ambivalent about the culture. Everything is just so different from the U.S. Nevertheless, when I thought about it, I became conscious of the fact that everything was the same as I had left it and that nothing in Egypt has changed in that year, nothing but me! I view things from a totally different perspective now, a practice that I’m quite enamored of. Having been here for more than four months, I dare say that I’m almost completely adjusted to everything again.

What is the biggest difference between going to school in Egypt and in the U.S.?

In the U.S.–or maybe just at RAHS–there are many tools that facilitate learning. The labs are very well organized. Also, the laptops which are provided to the students make things much easier. But perhaps the biggest difference is the testing system; at most schools in Egypt the tests are more standardized. For example, teachers don’t hand out tests whenever they want, but instead, the whole grade is examined on the same day at the same time regardless of who each student’s teacher is.

How have you been affected by the political events taking place in Egypt?

mI have been advised not to care a lot about things happening in Egypt so that they wouldn’t affect my program adversely. However, sometimes I just couldn’t help spending hours going through the news on the internet. I remember there were some skirmishes that lasted for a couple of nights near where my family lives and I was so worried about them. I kept calling to check on them. Apart from that, I don’t think it had much of an effect on me.

Why did you first want to be an exchange student?

I was quite fond of the idea of experiencing a new and a totally distinct culture, and I wanted to see the world from other people’s point of view. In addition, I have always wondered whether or not the people are so different as the media makes them seem. Also, I knew that going to the U.S. would help me improve my English a lot.

How have the relationships you made at RAHS affected you?

I guess I’m not a very emotional person. Thus, I never thought that leaving my Aviation friends would afflict me so much. However, I was definitely mistaken; I still remember them all the time. Sometimes, I find myself going through the pictures or gazing at my yearbook remembering all those funny incidents and memories, many of which are embarrassing.

How would you describe your experience at RAHS?

To be honest, it had its ups and downs; at the beginning of the year, I had some troubles assimilating into the school community. Also, English being not my first language, I felt somewhat impeded by it. After a short time though, I started to fit in and I overcame these hurdles. I would say that overall my experience was AWESOME!!! If it were possible, I wouldn’t hesitate to repeat my experience again!

What was your favorite class at RAHS?

I have enjoyed most of my classes at RAHS, but my favorite class was Mr. Kumakura’s. Yes, it was a bit scary at the beginning, but I later realized that what he was teaching me was beyond Spanish; he taught me how to have a good attitude towards anything in life.

What did you most enjoy about the school?

The Spirit! Aviation is like a big family. I liked how everyone was kind, welcoming, passionate and motivating.

Senior Projects: District Must Vote Pro Choice

On October 22, the Highline School District made the decision not to remove the culminating project as a graduation requirement for the 2014-2015 year, and has postponed making a decision that will affect upcoming years. The District decided this based on the data they collected from principals, and they removed the option to listen to a proposal of other options. The process to decide to keep the culminating project was terribly mismanaged, it did not consider the point of view of those affected, and

As of April, 2014, Washington Administrative Code 180-51-066 states that “[e]ach student… graduating before 2015 shall complete a culminating project for graduation.” This means that the District took six months to decide whether or not the class of 2015 would continue to be required to complete the project.

Transparency in the process of the decision to keep the Senior Project was non-existent; the hundreds of students, teachers, advisors, families, mentors, principals, and counselors were left in the dark throughout this process with no idea whether or not the project would be cancelled.

The District made the decision to keep the culminating project based on data they gathered from principals within HSD. This does not make sense, as advisors and students are the kind of people that know the most about how the projects work, and would be affected the greatest by the decision.

At the district level the senior project is inconsistently and unfairly implemented and they reinforce socioeconomic iniquity by favoring students with the material resources to produce the best projects. Highline School District should no longer mandate senior projects as a graduation requirement.

Because the senior project is no longer a state graduation requirement, it should not be a district graduation requirement. The reason the state decided to remove the project from the list of requirements was because of the lack of adequate funding and support for the project throughout the state. Some schools provided class time and scholarships for completion of the project, while others did not. This led to an inequality in motivation and support for students statewide, which gave the State Court grounds to rule the project unconstitutional.

The same difference in standards between districts is seen between schools within the HSD. Highline High School demands students to complete 20 hours of work outside of class for their project, while Mount Rainier High School only asks students to do 10 hours. At the upper extreme end, Raisbeck Aviation High School requires students to complete 40 hours of out-of-class work.

The way that senior projects are run is not only iniquitous in work required but also socioeconomically unjust. In general, schools do not provide financial support for the project, and students must construct the project from their own means. For students who can afford to construct an outstanding project, it is no trouble to blow the judges out of the water. On the other hand, students with less exhaustible financial resources must work much harder to be able to achieve the same success as their peers.

At Raisbeck Aviation High School in particular, students who create successful projects have opportunities to earn scholarships. These are awarded to students who have exceptional projects and who enter the Senior Project Showcase. Other schools that do not offer Senior Projects give students little to no actual incentive to complete the project.

The system of the senior project is broken. That is why the state removed it as a graduation requirement, and that is why Highline School District should follow suit. The project adds an undue burden to graduating seniors by requiring them to complete a project that for many students has little to no benefit. For students swamped with college applications and the other stresses of senior year, the culminating project becomes yet another hoop to jump through so they can walk at the end of the year.

This is not to detract from the students who do find meaning in their culminating projects. It is true that a good number of students are able to explore the type of work they someday hope to do for a living, but to assume that every single student finds such significance and enjoyment in their project is a downright fallacy.

There is only one solution to the dilemma of the senior project. District Administrators must remove the culminating project as a graduation requirement, which would allow schools to make the project optional for each student. This is the only way to level the playing field and end the inequality students face when attempting to reach the standards arbitrarily set by lawmakers.

Open post

South African educators visit RAHS

Photo by: Chris Hendrickson

On September 16, educators from South Africa toured Raisbeck Aviation High School to learn about the school’s project-based learning system and application of STEM.

The educators viewed presentations by students and faculty on some of the key projects at RAHS. Among the presentations were Scott McComb and Quinn Edgington with the thermal energy device, Steve Davolt and Olivia Shiffer with the internship program, Dana Dyer and Sophia Cassam with the environmental challenge project, Nikhil Joshi and Patrick Gault with the wing design project from Flight by Design, and Holly Branch and Joseph Merlino with Private Pilot Ground School.

“[I’m] looking for looking for a tour of [RAHS’] facilities,” said Kevin Foreman, the host from Boeing who requested the visit, “a presentation of your overall curriculum and how MST (Math, Science, and Technology) is crucial to future success.”

The tour included sit-ins on sixth period classes, a chance to see the new labs and science rooms at RAHS, and a visit to the Museum of Flight.

Dr. Mampone Seopa, a Math, Science, and Technology coordinator for the Limpopo Department of Education, was one of the visitors who viewed the classrooms.

“It was great to see how partnering with industry like Boeing could help inspire students to pursue a career in MST,” said Seopa. “It will be interesting to see how South Africa will try to work with our airports like you did with Seatac Airport.”

In respect to what kind of partnership he was hoping to build with the South African educational system, Instructional Leadership Executive Director at Highline Public Schools, Trevor Greene, said he was unsure of what kind of relationship the two districts would be building in the next few years.

“It’s hard to tell at this early stage,” said Greene, “but we hope that our partnership will help to continue to produce bright young minds who are ready to join the workforce as leaders and innovators.”

Other stops along the visitors’ trip included Chicago and Washington D.C.

Open post

One small step for girls, no giant leaps yet

Nikhil Joshi’s Flight by Design class has a very low girl to boy ratio, with two girls and twenty-four boys.

By Chris Hendrickson

NOTE: This is the first part of a two part series

On a national and societal trend, females are generally less inspired to pursue STEM related careers. Raisbeck Aviation High School is trying to contribute to a solution of this problem by expanding its internship program for the young women of the school.

Few schools are as focused on science, technology, engineering, and math as Raisbeck Aviation High School is. That being said, there is a shortage of females attending the school.

“This year between 35% and 37% of students accepted into the school are girls,” said Reba Gilman, Principal of RAHS. “As compared with 25% females in the inaugural class of 2004.”

Since the inception of the school, the ratio of boys to girls has risen, but it has not yet come close to reaching Gilman’s target goal of 50-50. There is a similar problem in high level STEM classes at RAHS.

According to Garrett Shiroma, the Chemistry teacher, the ratio of girls to boys in AP Chemistry nearly matches that of the school’s ratio, about 30%.

“I have 22 females out of 79 total students in AP Calc.” said Nikhil Joshi, the professor of AP Calculus AB, Flight by Design, and Astronomy. “There are 24 males and 2 females in Flight By Design, and 20 males and 12 females in Astronomy.”

This means that AP Calculus is made up of approximately 27% girls; Flight By Design, 7%; and Astronomy, 37%. According to Joshi, the number of females in Flight by Design class is lower this year, but the other classes represent the usual trend of students.

The divergent ratios of girls in more math-based classes versus engineering-based classes can also be seen in Science Olympiad.

“In the life sciences group,” said Scott McComb, coach of Science Olympiad, “we have twelve girls, one boy; in Earth and Space sciences, there are six girls, five boys; in the Chemistry group there are six girls, eight boys; in the Earth science there are three girls, six boys.”

The first four event groups in Science Olympiad require competitors to study their subject to be tested at competitions with written and lab-based tests. These are categorized as study events.

“In the engineering events,” said McComb, “there are six girls, nine boys in group E; in group F there is one girl, eleven boys; in group G there is one girl, twelve boys.”

The engineering and building events require competitors to construct and improve devices to be tested against other schools. According to McComb, girls are disproportionately represented in the club, with about fifty percent of the competitors being girls. These girls tend to compete more in study-related events.

In the careers field there is a much more noticeable gender gap. Girls are not applying to internships at the same rate boys are.

“When Boeing first started offering internships last year,” said Julie Burr, the former careers counselor at RAHS. “No girls applied for it at all. I had to pressure a few girls to get them to apply to it. Now we have two girls and two boys interning at Boeing.”

According to Burr, girls are just as qualified to work at the more advanced engineering jobs as boys are. The problem lies in the fact that girls seem to shy away from the bigger engineering internships.

“Generally, I see girls applying to the teaching-related internships like the Fauntleroy Children’s Center,” said Burr, “rather than to work at the more science-ey or engineering jobs.”

Although Burr was a strong supporter of female representation in internships, after her departure from RAHS, it remains unclear as to how the school will work to encourage girls to seek these internships.

“I think that the number of females enrolled in Aviation is just a product of the environment that we’re in,” said Steven Davolt, the new career counselor at RAHS.

As of now, Davolt does not have any intentions to make exceptions or specifically promote female application to internships. Nonetheless, some have seen RAHS’ response to the lack of female participation in internships as unfair; they say that more internships are being offered to girls than to boys in order to encourage girls to be accepted to positions at companies.

“That’s not really true, there is only one internship earmarked only for girls,” said Burr, “and that is Girls Rock Math, which is only for girls so that the kids at the camp can have female role models in STEM.”

Girls Rock Math was created by Jessica Johnson in order to build confidence in girls’ abilities in math and science. High school girls lead the campers in games that try to build confidence and interest in mathematics by playing fun games. The other female-only event is “Women Fly!”

According the Museum of Flight’s website, “Women Fly! is The Museum of Flight’s annual special event for young women in middle and high school who are interested in aviation and aerospace careers. Girls are invited to participate in a day of motivational and career-oriented activities while meeting and learning from exceptional women working in these fields.”

Women Fly! consists of a series of workshops and speakers whose goal is to encourage and inspire girls to join the aerospace industry, an industry dominated by men. As of November 2010, only 10% of positions in the aerospace industry were occupied by females.

Open post

Girls make strides to break the gender barrier

Designing models for potential use in low earth orbit, senior Skye Mceowen devotes her time to working for Planetary Resources.

NOTE: This is the second part of a two part series. The first part can be found at:

As covered in the last issue of the Phoenix Flyer, there is a significant gender gap at Raisbeck Aviation High School.

In 2013, the incoming class of freshmen was composed of roughly 36% females. As compared with 25% girls of the 2004 inaugural class, this is definitely a significant improvement. But as for the girls that have applied and been accepted to RAHS, the figures of success are not quite as disappointing.

In the realm of internships, girls are working to break the gender barrier down through the effect of their work ethics. This school year, there were “48 girls and 46 boys,” said Steve Davolt, the RAHS Career Counselor, “working in 105 different internships.”

As a slight numerical majority this season, girls have been capable of leaving long-lasting impressions upon their employers. In a video on the Raisbeck Aviation Careers website (, employers talk about their experiences with interns.

“Andrea [Wooley], who was our Aviation High School intern this summer,” said Erik Christofferson, the Vice President of Engineering at Raisbeck Engineering, “designed parts this summer [and] got down into a CAD system designing parts that are going to go on aircraft.

Christofferson, who helped to integrate Andrea into working at Raisbeck Engineering, has since expanded the number of interns to work at Raisbeck this summer based off of his experience working with Andrea. Andrea was the only intern at Raisbeck Engineering, and so the impression of our school that Christofferson received was fully dependent on her work.

The Museum of Flight has been closely linked to RAHS since the school’s beginning, and so it is no wonder that many Aviation students intern at the Museum. These students perform tasks from giving tours to helping to host public programs and events.

“This internship has opened so many doors for me,” said Olivia Shiffer, a Museum ambassador for the Space Shuttle trainer. “I really love being here at the museum, so I keep coming back to help out with other projects.”

One of the other events that the Museum hosts is the Pathfinder Award ceremony. The Pathfinder Awards seek to recognize the achievements of individuals in the aviation community, and several girls have been involved in its planning and preparation.

“I was in charge of creating the script for the interview,” said Lori Baca, a pathfinder intern, “as well as the on stage interview, gathering the pictures needed for the slideshow, and organizing the logistics for the event.”

One of the internships offered by RAHS is the Girls Rock Math Camp position. As stated in the last issue, the camp is envisioned to give young girls a view into the opportunities presented in STEM careers.

“It was my role as a counselor,” said Sahara Slate, a counselor who worked at the camp last summer, “to support and encourage the girls at the camp when they were doing their math, and to be a role model for them.”

This summer, 14 more RAHS students will work at Girls Rock Math Camp to help make math more exciting for the campers.

In the previous issue, Nikhil Joshi said that there were only two girls in his Flight By Design class. While this figure may seem disappointing, the reality of the situation is quite different.

“While yes, this year the number of girls is low in Flight by Design,” said Joshi, “the two girls that are in the class are team leads. They fill two of the four team lead positions.”

Scroll to top