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Museum focuses on the Vietnam War

The fuselage of a B-52 arrives in the RAHS parking lot and assembly of the plane begins.
Photo Courtesy of: Issa Meboe

In affiliation with RAHS, the Museum of Flight (MoF) is constructing another aviation exhibit near the school. By 11 Nov. 2018, Project Welcome Home (PWH), a memorial to recognize Vietnam War veterans and display a newly-renovated Boeing B-52G Bomber, will be completed and parked on the grassy lot by the parking lot. This will pair with the recently added Vietnam Divided: War Above Southeast Asia exhibit in the Museum’s Great Gallery.

Trip Switzer, the MoF’s Vice President of Development, has been overseeing the fundraising side of the project.

“This was originally an effort to restore the B-52 the Museum has had on loan from the US Air Force since 1991,” said Swtizer. “As the project evolved, and the plane needed a new home, we developed plans to place the restored B-52 in a new ‘Vietnam Veterans Memorial Park.’ This will be a site dedicated to all Vietnam veterans.”

Mark Manzo has been a Major Gifts Officer in the Development Department at the MoF for three years and is a fundraiser for PWH. His and the project committee’s work will compile numerous artifacts from the Vietnam War.

“At the center of the park will be a retired Boeing B-52G ‘Stratofortress’ that served in Operation Linebacker II in December 1972 and contributed to the release of 591 U.S. POWs,” said Manzo. “The B-52 will be joined by a bronze statue of a returning aviator, which represents our Vietnam veterans.”

Along with the plane and the statue of the aviator, specific flags of the US military will be represented, as well one for prisoners of war (POW) and those missing in action (MIA).

“Seven flags will be flown as well – US, Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, and the POW/MIA flag,” said Switzer. “No list of veterans – deceased or living – will be installed, though donors to the project at a specific level have the opportunity to honor a Vietnam veteran on a tribute wall that will be part of the park.”

Freshman Max Welliver, a student liaison for the project, has contributed directly to the memorial’s efforts. Before the end of the school year, he and the Museum will be showcasing their hard work with the implementation of the renovated war plane on the memorial site.

“It’s exciting to finally have all the logistics come together and have the B-52 arrive,” said Welliver. “The B-52 arrives on Sunday, June 3rd at 7:30am and Raisbeck Aviation High School students are invited to attend!”

The B-52 arrived successfully on 3 Jun. 2018, with a large audience spectating. Switzer is looking forward to seeing how the memorial will give them an opportunity to learn about the Vietnam War as well as pay their respects. He believes PWH will serve as a belated “thank you” to the Vietnam soldiers.

“We believe this will be a truly unique place,” said Switzer. “There is no memorial we know of that focuses specifically on the air combat operations in Vietnam and the staggering losses suffered. Though aircraft and those who flew them will be highlighted, we intend it to be a site to thank and honor all Vietnam veterans, particularly so many who came home to a less-than-warm welcome.”

Students specifically can gain from the memorial by recognizing the similarities between the soldiers and themselves and reflecting on their experiences.

“A lot of these people weren’t much older than RAHS students when they found themselves in unimaginable situations in Vietnam,” said Manzo. “Then, when they returned home, many never received any kind of decent recognition and haven’t in all the years since. The memorial will acknowledge their service.”

Welliver has been an asset to PWH, not only getting a unique opportunity to learn about Vietnam veterans but also to work closely with the Museum as a student representative.

“I’ve learned a lot about the B-52 and its long history of service in the US Air Force,” said Welliver. “B-52’s have been serving for over 50 years and are expected to serve for another 30 with a re-engine. That will make it one of the longest serving airplanes in the United States Air Force.”

One of the Museum’s goals for the project was to have a model of the B-52 plane on display in the museum’s new exhibit, Vietnam Divided: War Above Southeast Asia. Their request for a builder was answered by Welliver, who already makes model airplanes in his spare time.

“Since I’m a member of the local scale modeling group and apart of the Project Welcome Home Committee, I thought it would be nice to build it,” said Welliver. “The kit I was given was challenging because it was older molding, but with a lot of putty, it finally came together.”

Inspiration for PWH comes from old colleagues of Linebacker II, a division of the US Air Force and Navy that flew B-52’s in 1972.

“Project Welcome Home was born out of a 2012 reunion of the crew that flew on the B-52 that will go in the park,” said Manzo. “When they visited the plane they saw that was in desperate need of restoration. From that gathering, a committee of Vietnam veterans realized a greater purpose beyond simply restoring the aircraft.”

As the name states, the new exhibit in the Great Gallery focuses on the war above Southeast Asia that lasted from 1955-1975. While PWH’s focal points are the renovated B-52 and honoring of soldiers from the war, the new Vietnam Divided exhibit will specifically feature the aircraft used in action and delve deeper into the technology and tactics of that war.

The Museum opened the exhibit for a preview event on Thursday 24 May, 2018, two days before it opened to all members. In attendance was the MoF President and CEO Matt Hayes, who thanks the members who not only receive but contribute in some way to new features of the Museum.

“We could say that we’re doing this for them and we build things to entertain and educate,” said Hayes, “but the reality [is] they’re giving as much or more back to us by who they were, their experiences, [and] how much they care.”

More than 30 people went to the preview of the Vietnam Divided exhibit on Thursday. One attendee, Morgan Girling, an employee at Blue Origin and another model plane enthusiast, enjoyed perusing the old paraphernalia of the war.

“It is an interesting time in history that the country has spent a lot of effort trying to forget,” said Girling. “I think it’s very worthwhile that it’s remembered. People are [being] honored. [I’m] delighted to see the oral history kiosks.”

Bill Wilson, a Vietnam War veteran from the Linebacker II Air Force and Navy aerial bombing campaign, was also at the preview event, answering questions and reminiscing his service.

“The big famous part of that [Linebacker II] was the B-52’s,” said Wilson. “[We] went into North Vietnam and then bombed the crap out of it.”

Manzo has learned a significant amount about the war just from working on Project Welcome Home, and appreciates the museum and school’s help in progressing with the exhibit’s commencement.

“I’d like to say thank you to the students of RAHS who are interested in getting involved with the project and learning more about the service of our Vietnam Veterans,” said Manzo. “I’m 42 and it was my parents’ generation that fought in Vietnam. I didn’t know much about their sacrifices but, by working on this project, I’ve been learning. We welcome the students of RAHS to learn with us and to say thank you to our veterans.”

Women Fly into the Museum of Flight for STEM event

On 22 and 23 Nov. 2018, the annual Women Fly event hosted by the Museum of Flight is looking to inspire youth once again by presenting various STEM-focused activities and hosting Colonel Rebecca J. Sonkiss, the keynote speaker.

The Museum’s Director of Digital Learning, Melissa Edwards, has overseen the event for the past few years and believes it gives young women in the Tukwila and surrounding community an opportunity to expand their horizons in the aerospace industry.

“This event allows young women to understand that there are a wide variety of careers in STEM fields, to meet women who are working in these fields, and to be comfortable asking questions that are gender-specific,” said Edwards.

Generally, the schedule of the event is 1. Keynote speaker, 2. Workshop A, 3. Lunch or College Fair, 4. Lunch or College Fair, and 5. Workshop B. Previously, they have hosted a large 360° dome that shows the night sky inside, a problem-solving game in which the girls must act like flight attendants and fill the food carts to account for weight, and an intensive College Fair with representatives from Washington State University, the University of Washington, and the Air Force Academy.

“The topics this year include computer coding at Alaska [Airlines], career planning and fighting imposter syndrome, and Solar System explorations!” said Edwards. “We also have a great selection of companies/colleges participating in our resource fair (including Boeing and Alaska Airlines) and I think that this will be a great opportunity for the girls to ask questions about what it is like to work for these organizations!”

Last year, RAHS sophomore Mollie Brombaugh took the opportunity to go to Women Fly, and appreciated learning from a variety of different industry personnel.

“I really liked having the opportunity to choose what you want to learn about,” said Brombaugh. “Each class, led by a professional, is very interesting yet succinct. The diversity of classes is also great, you can look into anything that interests you.”

Similar to projects at RAHS, the activities presented at the event are engaging and unique, featuring Boeing employees and focused on STEM careers.

“I really find that the hands-on workshops, which give you an opportunity to do something, are the best,” said Brombaugh. “Hands-on activities relevant to space are what I try to aim for every year.”

This year’s orator is Colonel Rebecca J. Sonkiss, a commander who graduated from the Air Force. As such, she will undoubtedly provide much inspiration for participating girls interested in aerospace.

“I think that she will bring a very unique perspective as female military commander and be able to speak not only about her career pathway, but what inspired her as a young woman to pursue it,” said Edwards. “As with all of our Women Fly speakers and workshop leaders, I know that she is excited to have the opportunity to share her knowledge and insights with the next generation.”

Because the event is focused on women, it makes sense to have a female speaker to represent the girls attending.

“We usually brainstorm a list of possible candidates with backgrounds that we feel will be inspirational and then reach out to see if they are available,” said Edwards. “Colonel Sonkiss was actually proposed by a woman who has been a previous adult participant in Women Fly and she made it possible for us to put the request in to Col. Sonkiss.”

While the numerous activities and features might sway some into the STEM fields, Brombaugh was already resolute in what she wants for her future.

“Personally, nothing at Women Fly influenced my career decisions, as I already plan on working in the space field when I enter the workforce,” said Brombaugh. “However, Women Fly does give ideas as to specific areas of aviation fields that may be interesting.”

Looking forward to attending this year’s event and seeing who is this year’s speaker, Brombaugh appreciates the level to which companies and the Museum will rise to inspire the attendees into the aviation and aerospace fields.

“Women Fly is really fun,” said Brombaugh, “and I’m glad that there are fun resources like this to promote women in STEM and aviation.”

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Prospect of ECP looms over the sophomores

President of Interact Club sophomore Anusha Gani leads a meeting in which Bionic Arm and several other projects are discussed.
Photo By: Semay Alazar

As the second semester at RAHS began, sophomores prepared themselves for the beginning of the notorious Environmental Challenge Project (ECP). From upperclassmen and the few teachers involved, 10th graders have deduced that the project entails solving a broad environmental problem at an airport.

For the past three years, CGI and History of Aircraft Design teacher Troy Hoehne has prepared the students on the business side of the projects.

“The actual ECP has not gotten either harder or easier, with each year taking on a different issue at the airport,” said Hoehne. “Running the ECP has had increasing issues with logistics, which has required more planning.”

Despite the massive preparation behind the ECP, the outcome of what the students learn about the real world makes it all the more beneficial.

“It [the ECP] requires patience from everyone concerned, but also lends to the realism of the project,” said Hoehne. “In the ‘real’ world, everything else keeps happening while a new issue is dealt with. Boeing does not stop making the aircraft currently in production to explore new designs.”

The project itself takes massive preparation compared to other projects assigned throughout the year. In addition to Hoehne, teachers Nathan Gwin (Biology and Health), Sarah Fitzpatrick (Language Arts), and Wayne Storer (AP and Sophomore Literature) have been working on this year’s ECP since last year.

“Much of the planning for the project is invisible to the students,” said Hoehne. “Beginning in January, the teachers involved meet with officials from the Port of Seattle to discuss that year’s topic. They go over schedules, arrange for seminars, and schedule a major field trip. Class space needs to be reserved, busses reserved, and considerable communication is made with teachers not involved with the project so they can help kids with any assignments they might miss. Once the project is running, it is much like any other project, but on a larger scale.”

Nathan Gwinn, is taking on the science teacher role in the ECP project. He previously worked with teachers on singular projects at his old school, and is looking forward to applying his skills at Raisbeck.

“It’s exciting to collaborate with a few teachers and get to have one project with them where we have one goal [and] we’re working on the same thing,” said Gwinn. “I like that; that’s what I’ve been doing for a few years so it’s exciting to go back to that.”

In addition to working with teachers, the prospect of leading the sophomores is also intriguing to Gwinn, as he is an avid supporter of good and unique education.

“I’m excited because I think there [are] some possibilities to do some things that should be really fun and really interesting for [sophomores],” said Gwinn. “[They]’’ll get to actually spend some time at the airport instead of just working in wetlands or something like that.”

Gwinn’s sophomore biology students are accustomed to his swift and efficient teaching style, so the ECP should be somewhat familiar in that respect.

“I’ve always pushed through my content pretty quickly so that we have time to apply it as a class,” said Gwinn.

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Interact offers a helping hand

President of Interact Club sophomore Anusha Gani leads a meeting in which Bionic Arm and several other projects are discussed.                 Photo Credit: Semay Alazar

The Southcenter Rotary Club is a gathering of business owners around the Tukwila community who have taken it upon themselves to recruit RAHS’ Interact Club in one of their projects. The purpose of the Bionic Arm project is to create 3D prosthetics for amputees.

Sophomore Alex Lam has been co-leading Interact Club’s role in the Bionic Arm project, alongside sophomore Joe Pacini. They are both excited for the opportunity to help the community, and thankful that RAHS has the tools enabling them to support the program.

“It was basically introduced to us by this [local] Rotary Club,” said Lam, “and because we have 3D printer technology at our school we could print out a bionic arm for people in need.”

Renee Olsen, RAHS’ Career Choices teacher, has taken a lead with Interact Club in their passion to make a positive impact in the community.

“We are at the beginning stages now,” said Olsen. “Last week we got the details and the club is trying to see if this is something our students would like to participate in.”

Pacini is looking forward to the project and how the bionic arms Interact will build will directly help a person in need.

“They’ll fund us the parts that we need as long as we have the 3D printer,” said Pacini, “so it’s basically print and assemble, and then send it back to the Rotary Club so they can provide it to someone in need in our community.”

Overall, Lam is confident about the prospects of Bionic Arm.

“I feel like it’s a good opportunity to just help out the community,” said Lam. “It’s a project that’s going to take a lot of work but I feel like it will pay off I think Rotary will be that middle person to providing it to the person [in need].”

Pacini agrees, and despite the long slog that is in store for the students, thinks success is at the other end of the long tunnel.

“It seems like it’s going to be a lot of work and it’s going to take a lot of time,” said Pacini, “but I think given the students that we have in our long-term project committee, I think it’s definitely doable and we can definitely get it done.”

In addition to helping with Bionic Arm, Interact is simultaneously assisting in their other annual projects.

“Our group is divided into four sections; long-term projects, WE day, and so on,” said Lam. “We’re the long-term projects [section] so we deal with stuff that can take a longer amount of time to complete, so like the Bionic Arm. It’s a process.”

While they are happy to create the arms for people in need, Interact Club nevertheless needs money to power their contribution to the community.

“Just a heads up that we might be coming out with a fundraiser to help support the funding of filament because it’s quite expensive, so we can actually use the 3D printer,” said Pacini, “but it’s for a good cause and to help someone in need so i think it’s definitely worth it.”

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McComb prepares entire class to send project into space

Sophomores Amrit Singh (left) and Trent Bloor (right) carefully measure (insert substance I’m sorry but I’ll fix this later at layout night) to contribute towards their hot-air balloon project.
Photo by Ryan Lipour

After teaching the class originally, Scott McComb returned this year to teach RAHS’ Aerospace Engineering Class after being taught for a time by Geometry and CAD teacher Michael Gudor.

“About May or June of last year it was pretty clear that we needed to do some shuffling with the master schedule,” said McComb. “It was pretty clear that Gudor was going to end up teaching Algebra 1, which meant that there was some question about the elective that I would teach.”

Previously, McComb taught AP Physics 2, but switched back to Aerospace Engineering once Dona Bien-Aime came to the school and took over the physics courses.

“When we hired Bien-Aime it was pretty clear it made more sense for him to teach both sections of Physics 2 and me teach Aerospace Engineering,” said McComb.

Needing to prepare for a slightly different class, over the summer McComb worked at Blue Origin.

“One of the things we were working on was a curriculum to help teachers launch student designed experiments into space,” said McComb.

Their current project is ambitious, but they are prepared for the work it takes to send a capsule into space by way of a high-altitude balloon.

“We’re launching ours [the experiment] not aboard the Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket, which is part of the work that a small group of students are doing in Flight By Design,” said McComb, “but rather we’re launching it aboard a high-altitude balloon.”

Aiming for a career in the aerospace field, sophomore Alex Keller is taking the class to improve his knowledge in those specific science and math fields and to become more qualified.

“Since I knew it was going to be very teamwork and project-based,” said Keller, “I wanted to obviously expand my capabilities of that and my leadership and teamwork and aspects of the way I work.”

Keller feels the class has been rewarding in many ways.

“I think what’s been most beneficial from it [the class] is being able to take parameters that you need to compensate for and then building something to work around that,” said Keller, “so it’s really taking an issue and solving it.”

His colleague, sophomore and Electrical Team Lead Max Arevalos, also appreciates the specific type of work, believing McComb is well fit for the job.

“He’s very open to feedback and he’s very organized, so it’s easy to be one of his students,” said Arevalos.

Compiled of five sub-teams, the Aerospace Engineering class has come together to work on their balloon project, including leadership from all of the grades.

“I really appreciate the help of the leads,” said McComb. “The mechanical lead is [senior] Hunter Whitlock, the electrical lead is Max Arevalos, [sophomores] Amrit Singh and Rafael Urrea are science leads, Sam Corvell, ninth grader, has taken [the] lead on the launch team, and the PR [public relations] team works really well together. It’s fun to see those pieces come together.”

McComb believes Gudor’s class was beneficial, and looks forward to bringing back his own view of it.

“I know that they spent a lot of time [in Gudor’s class] focusing on building different iterations of aircraft and understanding the courses of flight in a really deep, experiential way,” said McComb.

Raisbeckians suit up to become Mohanians

After previous years’ successes of recruiting student ski instructors from RAHS, the Mohan Ski and Board School is looking forward to the 2017-18 season, in which they will bring back the program.

Mohan’s COO, Jennifer “Nif” Stimmel, is adamant that their school — located on Snoqualmie Pass — is an excellent environment in which students can learn and work together.

“Students from Raisbeck Aviation have many opportunities,” said Stimmel, “from being given the chance to experience a new outdoor sport to developing leadership and communication skills as a part of our staff.”

In addition to teaching, instructing at Mohan gives students the opportunity to experience, learn, and add more to their repertoire of skills.

“As a staff member you will learn leadership, communication skills, problem solving, and you’ll find confidence you didn’t know you had,” said Stimmel. “All these benefits help your future.”

The teaching system that Mohan instills is a structured and focused approach with an emphasis on games and camaraderie.

“Instructors are expected to create a fun experience for everyone,” said Stimmel. “Be early to classes, cause as much laughter as possible, and end the lesson on a high note. It is the instructor’s job to recognize struggle before it overwhelms the student and adapt their style to better suit the student.”

Chairman of the Mohan Board and mother of an RAHS sophomore, Dianne Meboe, believes aspiring instructors need to achieve a “do hard things mindset” and have an organized, prepared attitude.

“[Instructors] have gone up and had eight weeks of training so they can work, so people [students] can have this experience learning in this challenging environment,” said Meboe. “You’ve managed to get your whole act together to combine all of your gear, your attitude, [and] your work ethic to help somebody else find the enjoyment you have in skiing.”

Meboe’s goal for the 2017-18 ski season was to set up a ski bus program at RAHS, but she was lacking the required amount of people to be Mohan students or instructors.

“In the past, Mohan has served Raisbeck Aviation High School with a ski school program,” said Meboe. “These serious kids [would] pack up all their gear into the bus after a whole day of school and head up to the mountain and they get ready to teach.”

Sophomore Nicholas Eschweiler is planning on joining Mohan, because it is a way for him to get his “volunteer hours doing something I love.”

“Mohan stands out to me because I have always wanted to either instruct or participate in ski patrol, and Mohan gives me the ability to do that,” said Eschweiler.

Eschweiler plans on working with Mohan whether or not the ski bus happens; he is focusing on making a difference on the slopes.

“I love the idea that I can get my volunteer hours because it allows me to fulfill a graduation requirement while teaching another generation of skiers,” said Eschweiler.

The ski school is focused on creating a close community within the business as well as on the slopes.

“We are one of the only non-profit ski schools and we offer more training to our staff than any other ski school in the area,” said Stimmel.

Pat Smith, a Mohanian since 1990, a ski instructor for eight years longer, and a long-time skier, believes learning and teaching the sport is a fantastic way for students and people in general to grow.

“This is a life sport,” said Smith. “It’s not like football; it’s not something we’re going to stop playing when we’re at a certain age. This is a sport we can do all of our lives, and learn those skills and enjoy it.”

Skiing takes hard work and dedication, and teaching at Mohan requires even more.

“It [skiing] gets people out of doors and exercising, moving somewhat,” said Smith, “enjoying a physical experience that has some risk, some excitement to it, some speed, but requires people to have coordination and understanding.

RAHS mentor and sporadic substitute teacher Dave Jones has been an instructor at Mohan since 2011. He believes that the opportunities at Mohan make the experience worthwhile, whether or not a student is experienced or a novel skier.

“You don’t have to be an expert skier,” said Jones. “The clinics that you attend are fun and they really do help you get better.”

Throughout Stimmel’s experience of Mohan, she has seen staff come and go, but the relationships remain strong. She has grown a personal connection with previous staff, and is determined to do so with future staff as well.

“At Mohan we have staff that started as students taking lessons, got recruited once they were ready and have now been with the ski school for a decade or more,” said Stimmel. “We have staff that work with us through High School, leave for College, and then come back to us.”

Being a part of the Mohan family has benefits that transcend the normal expectations of a ski school.

“If you stay up at the lodge that’s a really fun way to become more ensconced in the Mohan family because you’re getting to know people at a deeper level,” said Meboe. “We have Taco Night on Saturdays, we have a Christmas party, we have a Super Bowl party, we have Awards nights, [and] we have extra clinics that you can take with master instructors.”

“The fun benefits are; $80 season’s pass, access to stay in our lodge every weekend, a paycheck for time taught and awesome new friends that like to do something you obviously like to do, Snowsports.”

As the new year dawns, Stimmel is preparing for her second year in command of the school.

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RAHS team returns from Florida victorious

The RAHS ISSDC team gathers at the John F. Kennedy Space Center before they present their final project.

The International Space Settlement Design Challenge (ISSDC) drew teams from all over the world to gather in Titusville, Florida. An RAHS team collaborated with foreign representatives, leading to their first place win in late July, 2017.

The RAHS team consisted of nine students, including senior Grace Zoppi.

“Last year we were really lucky to be invited to the competition,” said Zoppi. “About two weeks before school ended, the school was contacted by the founder of the competition, Anita Gale, a former NASA engineer. She invited our school to the international finals at Kennedy Space Center, in hopes to spread interest in the competition.”

Zoppi had an excellent learning experience, believing the ISSDC provided her and her teammates with knowledge for working with space and engineering fields in the future.

“We were tasked with designing a settlement on Venus to house 10,000 permanent residents and 1,000 visitors,” said Zoppi. “This gave us a taste of working on a large scale engineering project with a large team, conditions that are common among engineering in the industry.”

Sophomore Jon Wick enjoyed the reality of the challenge and how it was not a common space competition; it actually required engineering.

“We had to do all the math behind it: the stress calculations for the structure, we had to figure out what it was going to cost, how were we going to get the resources there,” said Wick, “so it was actually super realistic and it’s not just some fantasy space station we’re building. We had to figure out all the logistics behind it.”

The competition brought about the collaboration of groups from all over the world. The four main groups were formed by combining separate foreign teams.

“Each team had around sixty students from different schools and countries,” said Zoppi. “We were placed on the Grumbo (Grumman + Boeing) Aerospace Team with other high-schoolers from India, China, Romania, and the United States (Colorado and Texas).”

Junior Evan Grilley thought the competition was a win-win situation, due to making foreign connections with fellow STEM enthusiasts.

“Not only am I interested in space, science, and engineering,” said Grilley, “but there was also the prospect of competing with large teams of people from around the world.”

RAHS representatives brought along Big History and AP U.S. History teacher, Michelle Juarez. She brought the main concept of the competition back to Raisbeck, relating it to their classes which also focused on STEM.

“They [had] to give a presentation to a group of professionals and there is a winner chosen,” said Juarez. “In some ways it really matched well to what we do here at school.”

Junior Cooper LeComp enjoyed the competition because of the collaboration of students from around the world.

“Working with other teams around the world was really great,” said LeComp. “Everyone interacted really well, and everyone, no matter where they lived was able to work together for a common goal.”

Because the RAHS team was working with teams from different countries, communication was crucial.

“We had to work with everyone from around the world in order to create the models for them,” said Wick. “It was kind of hard interacting with each other with the language barrier.”

Despite the challenging language barrier, the students still found working with people of different cultures to be a great experience.

“I really learned that everyone is able to work together, and to not judge people by their country’s politics,” said LeComp.

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ASP awards free college credits

Students, like Alexandria Johnson pictured above, practice flying drones at the Museum of Flight, providing them skills to use later in life and extending their knowledge of drones.
Students, like Alexandria Johnson pictured above, practice flying drones at the Museum of Flight, providing them skills to use later in life and extending their knowledge of drones.

In the summer of 2016, Puget Sound Skills Center (PSSC), Green River Community College, and the Museum of Flight collaborated to launch a 2-year long drone program called the Aeronautical Science Pathway (ASP) for students interested in those fields.

 

Robin Lee, the ASP Program Lead Instructor, believes ASP is a great opportunity for the students attending it because because they can learn and get college credit for free, which gives them a running start on their STEM careers.

 

“The ASP program at the Museum is a joint venture with PSSC and Green River,” said Lee. “Each year students get six classes and therefore 30 college credits if they pass all with a B or better.”

 

Senior Tanjai Ploykao is currently taking the UAV class, and thinks the program is an excellent outlet for students who are intrigued by a drone focused career.

 

“I think the program is great for students who are definitely passionate about being a pilot, UAS/drone pilot, air traffic controller, or an airline dispatcher,” said Ploykao. “[The] program not only has ground school, but other aviation courses such as Aircraft Systems, Aviation Weather, Unmanned Vehicle Basics, and other[s].

 

ASP provides many advantages for the participants including free school credits, detailed instruction on how to fly drones, and mentorship from experienced instructors.

 

“I participate in the program because of many benefits that the program offers. I am able to earn both college and high school credits for free,” said Ploykao. “The program helps me make progress on becoming an airline dispatcher, and air traffic controller. Importantly, I got a chance to meet many professionals.”

 

The program has a variety of classes available, which are made to inspire students to try new things and find what really intrigues them in the STEM fields.  

 

“We completed Aviation 109, Introduction to Unmanned Aerial Vehicles before winter break and in the spring will be doing another drone class, Aviation 129 Unmanned Aerial Basics,” said Lee.
“Right now they’re doing Aviation 111, private pilot ground school and will also have classes on Aviation Weather and Aircraft Systems.”

 

Homeschooled Alexandria Johnson, 15, participates in the program through PSSC. Her goal of having a UAV focused career is strengthened and encouraged by ASP and her instructors.

 

“For part of the program, we had a course on Unmanned Aerial Systems. One of my future goals, along with becoming [an] engineer, is to become a drone pilot,” said Johnson. “This course helped me discover my passion for UAVs and what being a drone pilot entails. I learned a lot about drones that I hadn’t known before I started the program.”

 

The Museum of Flight has many programs and activities that focus on introducing kids to STEM. Through those programs and ASP, Johnson has developed a zeal for an aviation-related career.

 

“My passion for aviation started when we became members at the Museum of Flight when I was 2,” said Johnson. “I have participated in many different programs at the Museum of Flight throughout the years.”

 

The ASP program provides knowledge about how drones will be an advantage in the future, in addition to teaching the students how to fly the drones.

 

“When I heard about this program, I was immediately  interested in the Unmanned Aerial Systems part of the program,” said Johnson. “I am very intrigued by drones and how they are being used now and how they will be used in the future. Not only am I interested in flying drones, I am am also interested in the aspect of designing and building drones as well.”
Students’ schedules are tightly booked with practices and meetings four days a week, Monday-Thursday, from 3:45 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., because passion for the outcome requires diligence in the process.

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Students describe transition from homeschool to RAHS

Sisters Rachel and Erin Demaree started at RAHS after being homeschooled up through eighth grade.
Sisters Rachel and Erin Demaree started at RAHS after being homeschooled up through eighth grade.

The majority of students at RAHS have come from other public schools; however, sprinkled through every grade are a few students from homeschool backgrounds.

 

Freshman Lauren Vitellaro was surprised when she first encountered elements of public school to which her classmates were already accustomed.

 

“I’ve been homeschooled for my entire life, so this is the first time I’ve ever gone to public school,” said freshman Lauren Vitellaro. “The biggest changes I think are first and foremost just the amount of people you’re always with; it’s definitely something you have to get used to.”

 

Vitellaro has family in the aviation and engineering fields, so she grew up with a zeal to pursue the same career. In contrast to most public schools, RAHS provides massive encouragement for students with those specific passions.

 

“The environment here is really based on learning,” said Vitellaro. “[During homeschooling] I was working with other people, so it’s a similar atmosphere [despite] the massive amount of interaction and education.”

 

Vitellaro believes at a younger age homeschool is preferable, but when the learning material becomes more deep and complex, students perform better with a larger environment.

 

“Whoever’s teaching you [at home] can really personalize your education to the best fit: your learning style, your pace, and what you’re interested in,” said Vitellaro. “I think after that, what you get into gets more and more complex, and having teachers that really specialize in the individual areas can help [you] get back into education standards.”

 

In contrast to Vitellaro, freshman Adam Czuk was homeschooled for middle school only, while going to private school for elementary. He believes having attending a public or private school early on provides the social skills needed later in life.

 

“When you’re home schooled, you get [teaching] one-on-one; you’re able to go your own pace [instead] of the pace of your classmates,” said Czuk. “When you go to public schools, you get the social experience: to work with other students and learn how to communicate and work with other people.”

 

While Vitellaro thinks public schooling should be held off until high school age, Czuk argues that attending public school at a younger age is more efficient.

 

“I think it [public schooling] is good at a young age so you learn how to act around other people, so when it’s more important when you’re older,” said Czuk, “you aren’t learning how to [be social]; you already know how to, so you can accomplish your tasks easier [instead of focusing on the social aspect of school].”

 

In addition to the possible benefits of homeschooling, there is a feeling of freedom that often comes with homeschooling. Senior Rachel Demaree, who was homeschooled until high school, remembers several things that are unavailable in public schooling.

 

“As a homeschooler, I had a lot of freedom to go out and do stuff during the day,” said Demaree. “It’s a lot more hands-on, relaxed, and I had more opportunities to go do and try things that interest me.”

 

Rachel Demaree’s sister, junior Erin Demaree agrees. She got her education on a more flexible schedule while she was homeschooled.

 

“I miss being able to sleep in, and staying in my pajamas all day,” said Erin. “I also [miss] getting to go to museums when no one else was there, and being able to travel anytime you wanted. We wouldn’t have been able to do that if we went to ‘normal’ school.”

 

In addition to its bygone advantages, homeschooling also comes with long-lasting benefits.

 

“[Homeschooling] gave me a bunch of practice talking to adults, which made me more comfortable interacting with them in a composed fashion,” said Erin.

 

Despite the common stereotype, most homeschoolers don’t just sit around in their pajamas. Something found in most homeschooling atmospheres is the focus directly on the student.
“In terms about something I really like about public schooling, the culture and the atmosphere [at RAHS] is surrounded to best fit us,” said Vitellaro. “[The RAHS culture] is something new, and I think it pushes everybody out of their comfort zone.”

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Oh Gift Tree, oh Gift Tree, how lovely are thy donations

Students, such as senior Guy Alberts, take ornaments off the gift trees to donate to a designated family.
Students, such as senior Guy Alberts, take ornaments off the gift trees to donate to a designated family.

This holiday season, the RAHS ASB sponsored a family in need. Paper trees were posted on the second and third floor balconies with paper ornaments, each with a gift assigned to them, so students could get into the gift-giving spirit.

 

Freshman Senator Jeremy Boyle feels that activities such as these encourage the student body to get involved and promote holiday spirit.

 

“The Adopt-A-Family fundraiser process is a program through the YWCA. It has been done in the past by ASB,” said Boyle. “The fundraiser was coordinated by the sophomore senators Heidi [Yagen] and Kenny [Pham]. ASB tries to give back during the holidays and this is one way we do that.”

 

ASB Treasurer Catie Stukel believes that the Gift Tree has been a great activity by helping a family receive functional gifts, such as clothes and shoes, during the holidays.

 

“I think it’s really awesome that some kids who don’t usually get a Christmas, get Christmas,” said Stukel. “It’s been an opportunity for them to get something they may not usually get; [they get] a lot of really functional things.”

 

As a change from past years, both students and advisories were encouraged to donate presents.  

 

“We’re getting quite a few donations.We have done this in past years based on advisory and so now we’ve opened it up to the whole school,” said Stukel. “Hopefully in the future people will be more willing to donate and we’ll be able to hopefully fund more families.”

 

ASB President senior Ashley Balbuena found that some students, while not donating the specified items, still found a way to show holiday spirit more than they have in the past.

 

“More teachers are actually helping out more with the Adopt-A-Family donation,” said Balbuena. “Plus, more students are also donating money, even if it’s just a few dollars. It’s easier to give a few dollars that are in your wallet rather than searching for things in your house to donate.”

 

Freshman senator Nick Ankuta believes that when it comes to the roots of personal growth and community services, the holiday spirit is very important.

 

“Part of the beauty of the Adopt-a-Family program is that you are impacting individuals in our community,” said Ankuta. “You do not know these individuals personally, but as long as you know yourself, you can simply have that sense of understanding that these kids are just like you, but without access to the same resources.”

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