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Students suffer tedium from too many tests

(From left to right) Rodrigo Servin, Samuel Lee, Marco Jawili, Dillon Charles work diligently on their Little Big History project about Carbon. Through their research, the group has learned that the airframe of the Boeing 787 is composed of 50% carbon fiber reinforced plastic.
Photo By: Sam Hart

As the final school day on 20 Jun. 2018 creeps closer, teachers must test students on the class material they’ve been working on throughout the year. While some teachers may choose to do a traditional final exam, some teachers at RAHS have chosen to test their students with unique projects.

One of these teachers is Brandyn Mannion, whose chemistry class gave a presentation on air quality to end their gases unit.
“I basically gave them the direction that they needed to design an experiment, any experiment, around air quality,” said Mannion, “and the onus was on [students] to literally design any experiment that interested them on whatever topic they found most interesting, and prove to me that they know how to design an experiment.”

Mannion wanted a breather from all the tests he’s given.

“We’ve done tests before so why not do something different?” said Mannion.

Sophomore Mollie Brombaugh enjoyed the professional aspect of the projects

“I thought it was interesting to have to consider and plan a project from the [point of view] of an industry professional/researcher,” said Brombaugh, “and I liked the opportunity to choose and research something that interested you.”

Although a creative project allows for students to shape their learning, that opportunity can also be a challenge.

“For some students it’s really difficult because it is so open-ended,” said Mannion. “I’ve had some students spin their wheels in the mud, so to speak, because they’re like ‘where do I start? What is it I wanna do?’”

Brombaugh agrees with Mannion regarding the difficulties.

“What I found most challenging was actually to choose a topic to research,” said Brombaugh. “Determining a topic to focus on and an appropriate guiding question proved to be rather difficult with such a broad scope and little direction.”

Another class which uses an imaginative final is Big History, taught by Jacob Savishinsky and Michelle Juarez. Through the Little Big History project, freshmen explain the story of a topic they choose from the beginning of the universe to the modern day.

“The Little Big History project attempts to encapsulate all of what [students] have learned so it should be a test of how well they’ve understood the course and to see how they can build on that knowledge,” said Juarez.

Although the project thoroughly encapsulates the Big History skills of reading, writing, and researching, it comes with some challenges: namely, Wikipedia.

“For me, a major hurdle is when we talk about scholarly resources,” said Juarez. “I can direct [students] to the King County Library System but everybody wants to use Wikipedia; it’s fast and easy.”

The project is more than a traditional research paper; it compels students to see how their topic has affected humanity as a whole.

“It’s a real thesis project,” said Juarez. “It’s not just researching the B-52 bomber, it’s trying to understand how the B-52 has changed as technology has improved over time. That’s what I’m hoping they get out it, that they kind of see the bigger picture; how humans have changed the nature of the world.”

Big History student and freshman Marco Jawili is doing his Little Big History project on the carbon molecule. Jawili chose to research carbon because of its application in technology.

“I enjoy basically researching stuff that I didn’t know in the past,” said Jawili. “I knew carbon had a lot of potential with technology but I didn’t know there was a thing called carbon nanotubing which is basically a super strong material and that was really cool to learn about.”

Jawili believes projects that utilize student creativity capture students attention more than simply studying for a test.

“I feel like with a project you become more engaged with the topic because you get to choose in the end what you wanna research and Mr. Sav always makes a point; ‘surround your research with things that interest you. Research what you wanna learn about,’ and I really like that concept,” said Jawili. “It helps you learn more and it helps you have the knowledge stick with you so I feel like that’s way better than just doing a test.”

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Reading with a different pair of eyes


Storer introducing the sophomore 1984 project to his 4th period class, including Braeden Gibson (left) and Diana Vu (right). Fitzpatrick’s and Storer’s classes will both work on the project about the George Orwell novel.
Photo by Semay Alazar

Beginning with the 2017-2018 school year, Wayne Storer joined Sarah Fitzpatrick Erdmann as the co-sophomore English teacher. The two teachers have had to work together to teach sophomore students the reading and writing skills necessary to be successful in their junior year.

Though they are using the same curriculum, the two teachers implement their own style of teaching into their classes, offering different perspectives on the same material. Storer reads entire novels to his class over the course of the semester.

“I’m a big novel guy,” said Storer. “I love having a novel that we all share together that is our common text. When you have a novel that you all work on together, you all do close reading practice on it, you all discuss it together, [and] it also gives us a target for an AP Lit style question three.”

However, Fitzpatrick reads a diverse range of texts in conjunction with scaffolding; breaking up a task into the smaller skills necessary to complete it.

“I am a big believer in providing scaffolding and approaching texts from a variety of entry points, focusing on close reading strategies and complex texts,” said Fitzpatrick. “I think my students are doing well and are enjoying class; we have a lot of fun and I have seen some major growth in their writing specifically.”

Preparing students for AP English classes, specifically AP Lit, is a big focus for Storer who teaches the class; reading novels on the AP list furthers that focus. Sophomore English student Miles Gendreau believes reading an entire novel in Storer’s class is helpful.

“I think it’s good that we’re progressively going through a book over the course of the semester,”  said Gendreau. “I think it helps, especially when it’s connected to the other things we’re learning; you can kind of put your learning in context.”

Sophomore Brigitta Nguyen is in Fitzpatrick’ class and believes that working with smaller texts lets students try new things without diving in head first.

“I personally really liked working with smaller texts throughout the year,” said Nguyen. “I believe that working with smaller texts is a great teaching style, because it allows students to ‘test the waters’ when learning new writing elements, or styles of writing.”

Because she had Storer freshman year and Fitzpatrick her sophomore year, Nguyen can compare and contrast the different styles of each teacher.

“Mr. Storer, of course, teaches that ‘meaning is all that matters,’ and I think that Mr. Storer’s teaching style really helped me develop great themes and analyses on an emotional-level [ethos],” said Nguyen. “However, Ms. Fitzpatrick teaches in-depth about many elements of style that go into analyses, and her teaching style helped me improve my writing on a technical level.”

One strategy Storer has borrowed from Fitzpatrick is the use of scaffolding. Although Storer has seen how beneficial scaffolding can be to different learning styles, he had some hesitations at first.

“Ms. [Fitzpatrick] is far more skilled at scaffolding than I am,” said Storer. “Some of [scaffolding] to me seems too low level, but I’ve learned this year that it’s not, and then I watched [students] work through some of these activities; some of the chunking, some of the charts, and I saw how valuable it was.”

Fitzpatrick has also incorporated elements from Storer into her own class.

“He has shared some interesting ideas that I have used and altered a bit in AP Lang specifically, such as group timed writes,” said Fitzpatrick. “I have also used some of his close reading strategies and the Book Talk project, of course.”

Though the two teachers may have a different focus, both have assisted Nguyen in developing her writing skills.

“Overall, I think that both teachers are excellent in what they do,” said Nguyen, “and having experienced both teaching styles from both teachers helped me become a better writer.”

 

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Speech and Debate spooks students

Host of the dinner show, Steph Harvey (played by Kyla Marks), prepares to ask the Robinson family a question for their game of Family Fued. The father of the family, Buster Robinson (played by Mr. Gwinn), is a part-time sheriff and full-time rancher who’s favorite color is denim.
Photo Courtesy of: Davie Anne Ross

From 6-8 PM on 20 April 2018, RAHS Speech and Debate held their annual Mystery Dinner with tickets priced at $15 to raise funds for the team. The dinner was an interactive show with the theme of Family Feud between two families; the Grundelpliths and the Robinsons. Filip Grundelplith, the father of the family, was murdered during the show and the audience had to discover who was the perpetrator with the evidence presented to them.

“Every year, we do a different theme for the show and characters,” said Hong Ta, junior and executive Speech and Debate member who played the role of Kim Grundelplith during the dinner. “This year it [was] Family Feud, so characters included the two families, and our own host! After the dinner, we [had] a dessert auction where we auctioned off donated desserts from local bakeries. This year, we also auctioned off themed baskets.”

Sophomore audience member Everett Crockett enjoyed the show.

“It was very entertaining and well done all together,” said Crockett.

Crockett’s favorite part was the interrogation after the dessert auction where the murderer(s) are revealed.

“All of the actors kept to their character and it was really fun to watch,” said Crockett.

As an executive member and treasurer, Ta worked with other executive members throughout different committees to begin planning the dinner in January. Committees work to call bakeries, write the script for the show, and obtain costumes.

“My responsibility for making sure everything runs smoothly is working with other members of the exec team- [seniors] Debora Ferede, Monica Lopez, Janelle Vu, and [junior] Steph Glascock- to organize all of the possible details that come with the dinner,” said Ta. “As treasurer, I make sure tickets are sold, funds are turned in, and [oversee] the overall budget of the dinner.”

Although the team communicates well, harmonizing the various aspects of the dinner can be difficult.

“A challenge that comes with planning the dinner is coordinating all of the many different aspects together,” said Ta. “We have to advertise the dinner, have every team member sell their assigned tickets, collect desserts donations, create decorations, etc. – the logistics all have to come together.”

Sophomore Speech and Debate member Amrit Singh played the role of Rajiv Grundelplith during the dinner, the conspicuous adopted child of Filip Grundelplith. But behind the scenes, Singh assisted in writing the script.

“My role in planning the dinner was primarily as a part of the script team,” said Singh. “I helped to write the script for the event and create the character evidence [that everyone] saw.”

Though the amount of people who came to the dinner was surprising for Singh, he feels it was perceived positively.

“I feel the event went well,” said Singh. “I think people enjoyed it, from the feedback I have received so far. Everything may not have gone as smooth as it could have, but with any large event such as this, there’s always going to be small mistakes and what not.”

Even with these minute complications, the dinner raised over $4,000 for Speech and Debate.

“But that doesn’t detract from the fact that the dinner was indeed successful because of all the hard work of our team members and the generous donations and contributions from the lovely attendees,” said Singh.

Biology teacher and Speech and Debate advisor Nathan Gwinn also played a significant role in organizing the dinner.

“[Students] take care of the writing aspect of the actual script and that kind of stuff,” said Gwinn. “I’m mostly just doing what I typically do, which is making sure things get done in a timely fashion and making sure it’s organized well.”

Being this is his first year as the Speech and Debate advisor, Gwinn experienced some surprises during his first few weeks on the team.

“I had no clue what I had signed up for, and that was positive and negative,” said Gwinn. “I didn’t know the time commitment I was signing up for. That was something that I had to wrap my mind around.”

However, seeing his students working so hard for the team has made the experience worth it.

“Just seeing how hard [students’ have to work and seeing the things they have to go through has been moderately inspiring,” said Gwinn. “The kids have just been awesome; they’ve made it every part of it worthwhile.”

If everyone hadn’t come together to work on the event, Singh believes dinner would not have been served

“My biggest takeaway from this dinner is the importance of organization, leadership, and teamwork,” said Singh. “Without these three traits present in our executives or team members, this dinner would never have been possible.”

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Athletes look for ways to juggle sports, school

Jones punts the soccer ball back into play at a quarterfinal game in Davis, California for Pacific Northwest Soccer Club
Photo Courtesy of Bernie Jones

In addition to the normal responsibilities of an RAHS student, student athletes who are serious about their sport must find stability between their school work, schedule, and their commitment to their sport.

Sophomore Andy Pham is a swimmer for Tyee High School and the Central Area Aquatics Team (CAAT). Pham has swam most of the breaststroke events throughout his swimming career and has broken many records on his previous team, WhiteWater Aquatics.

“I started swimming on a club team at the age of 12; I loved swimming from the start,” said Pham. “After competing at many state and regional championships, I’ve gained lots of confidence in who I am. I will continue to swim in order to compete at ahigher level and gain more confidence in myself.”

Throughout the high school swimming season, Pham swims 4-5 hours during weekdays.

“Typically, my daily schedule looks like me going to school for periods 1-5. Then, I head over to my high school practice where I swim approximately 2 hours,” said Pham. “Once high school practice is finished, I drive to my club practice to swim another 2-3 hours. Every other weekend, I compete at swim meets for my club team.”

As a committed athlete, Pham plans to continue swimming into college, preferably in Division 1.

“Once I’m finished with my college career, I would like to go into a sports related job,” said Pham.

Sophomore Bernie Jones is a goalkeeper for the Pacific Northwest Soccer Club and Highline High School’s varsity soccer team.

“My whole family is connected to [soccer], like we all play it; it’s just something I was phased into,” said Jones. “My dad would coach and he would carry me around while he coached so since I could walk I’ve played soccer.”

Jones hopes to continue playing soccer in college and possibly beyond.

“Hopefully [I] would be going pro at one point, but I could at least use it to get into a good college,” said Jones.

As a result of Pham’s schedule, he drops his sixth period class just to be able to do high school swimming.

“Students that aren’t athletes often go home and have lots of time to work on homework or even hang out with friends,” said Pham. “That’s not the case with student athletes, because I swim for roughly 4 hours a day, I don’t have those opportunities to start homework early or hang out with my friends on weekdays.”

Pham has to decide carefully which courses he will be taking because he is limited to five per semester.

“In order to graduate with the minimum required credits, I must not fail any classes at all from now till the end of senior year,” said Pham. “I sometimes also have to go over my schedule with Ms. Carper in order to plan out which courses I need to take in order to get the credit I need. Also, losing 6th period as a student athlete means losing opportunities to take new courses that I’m interested in.”

Yet, Pham doesn’t regret his decision to come to RAHS as he acknowledged the repercussions of being a student athlete at RAHS.

“I wanted to pursue better education and more challenging courses,” said Pham. “I understood the consequences of doing high school sports with all of the classes and school work. With that being said, I have to now prioritize my schedule in order to balance my time at RAHS and in the pool.”

Jones, however, only finds difficulty with his schedule during the high school season.

“I don’t think I really have any [time challenges] other than when the high school season comes and I have to leave school early to go play my sport,” said Jones. “It’s kind of stressful then because you don’t have transportation so you have to figure it out on your own.”

Scheduling issues aside, Jones believes that soccer has driven him to work harder in school.

“I’d say [soccer] actually drives you to want to do even better academically because the thing they stress in athletics, especially if you want to get into college and play at a high level, is you need academics first for coaches to look at you,” said Jones.

While sports have their plethora of benefits, academics ultimately come first. In the title ‘student athlete’, student comes before athlete.

“I’d say just understand that sometimes you’re going to have a busy schedule but look towards the greater goal,” said Jones. “I’d say understanding that academics do come first; make sure that’s finished and if there is a day where you’re going to miss practice it’s not going to kill you, you just need to work even harder the next day.”

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Beware junior year!

Junior Felix Bosques studies for a Calculus test in the morning before class starts. Though Calculus isn’t an AP course, it is still one of the harder classes of junior year.
Photo Credit: Ryan Lipour

At RAHS, it isn’t uncommon to see a junior student with their hair on fire because of some deadline in their classes. The transition to being an upperclassman brings many stressors such as harder Advanced Placement (AP) classes and preparation for the SAT as well as the ACT. This is all while students must keep up with their extracurriculars and while college applications loom in the distance. But do all of these stressors really make junior year the hardest year at RAHS?

RAHS junior Felix Bosques feels that junior year is certainly not a walk in the park.

Junior year is definitely an intense year,” said Bosques. “There’s definitely a lot more responsibility and more stress as a result of that.”

Aside from his required courses as a junior, Bosques partakes in other opportunities at RAHS as most students do.

“I’m an ASB officer and a member of RAHS’ Ultimate Frisbee team,” said Bosques, “so juggling around the different responsibilities I have with those [duties] is sometimes challenging to deal with.”

In addition to his extracurriculars, Bosques also has to balance the homework load from his AP classes and a job.

“I’m in AP Lang and APUSH, and the homework in those classes is pretty consistent, along with the workloads from other classes,” said Bosques. “To add onto that, I have a part time job some days after

school that ends pretty late, which leaves little to no time to study or do homework.”

All of these factors add up to a strenuous but manageable experience for Bosques.

“It is hard, but it’s hard enough for me to get used to being able to deal with it,” said Bosques. “Junior year is like one of the eternal pits of Hades, in which you burn in it every day, but it’s just another day.”

RAHS APUSH and Big History teacher Michelle Juarez believes junior year can be the hardest year because of the abrupt change between underclassman years to upperclassman years. As students go into sophomore year, Juarez feels as if most students are accustomed to the RAHS environment.

“My understanding from what students say is [sophomore year] is a breeze,” said Juarez. “Spanish or whatever language they’re taking tends to be difficult because it’s just a lot of content, but they have English and social studies down, in math they know what to expect, so they know what to expect of their teachers. Some students don’t do [their work], but it’s not hard in that way.”

However once sophomores become juniors, the difficulty of school completely changes.

“At the junior level, most students take at least one AP class and it’s just a lot more work and the expectations are that you come prepared and ready to do that work in class, every day,” said Juarez.

Without the cushion of teacher support systems, juniors without their own organizational systems can suffer as a result.

“There’s not a lot of the support systems,” said Juarez. “If they don’t have the organizational tools ready, I’m not spending time telling them to take out their planner, or write down their homework. It’s college level work and they might have two or three or four AP classes, and even if it’s not an AP class, chemistry is really hard, calculus is really hard.”

In addition to the rigorous classwork of junior year, the looming future of college and career adds to Bosques’ stressors.

I really want to be a famous musician, but my path to college and the future beyond is still blurry to me,” said Bosques. “I’m at the point where I’m at the fork in the road trying decide which side I should take.

Although junior year can take its toll, Bosques manages the year’s troubles through sacrifice.

“I’ve pretty much discarded my social life at this point in order to focus more on the things that make me happy,” said Bosques. “It’s important to keep a good mental state when facing a lot of stress, and if it means putting aside some personal time, then it’s definitely worth it.”

RAHS Counselor Katie Carper believes that junior year can certainly be the hardest.

“It depends on what classes you choose to take and you’re approach and threshold for work and all that stuff,” said Carper. “I think it can be [the hardest year], definitely.”

Carper advises students who aren’t ready for extreme schedules to avoid taking the most strenuous classes available.

There is a reality of college admissions; you want to take a challenging schedule,” said Carper. “I think 90% of the staff is on the same page of ‘don’t over do it just to look good on paper’. That’s not worth it. You’re going to pay a high, high price if you take 5 AP classes and you’re not ready for that.”

For Carper, learning how to ask for help is a useful skill for juniors, especially those struggling in a class.

“I tell students that I go with them if I need to to approach their teacher and they always end up feeling better after they do that, even if it’s hard, even if you’re ashamed at your grade because you’ve never gotten anything besides a B,” said Carper. “Once you’ve had that conversation you feel a million times better because all your teachers here have struggled. We’ve all had struggles in our lives that we’ve had to ask for help with and if you haven’t learned how to do that junior year is a great time because you’ll eventually ask for help.”

RAHS junior Kayla Hoang believes that junior year is harder than underclassman years.

“Junior year is definitely more challenging, especially with the pressure to take more AP classes and to score a good score on the SAT,” said Hoang, “like my good friend Oliver Low (another RAHS junior), who scored a 1580, and made a YouTube video called “Deciphering the SAT.”

Hoang agrees with Juarez on the lack of teacher assistance making junior year harder.

“Teachers also seem to expect more from you as well, you don’t really have the micromanaging or Lanschool threats anymore,” said Hoang. “Instead, if you waste your time, it reflects in your grade or amount of sleep you get. However, there do seem to be less formal presentations, which always stressed me out in my underclassmen years.”

Hoang is enrolled in several AP classes and is also a member of Satellite Team and the International Space Settlement Design Competition (ISSDC) team.

“I am currently taking 3 AP classes: APUSH, AP Calculus AB, and AP Language. I am part of Space Launch Team, which was formerly known as Satellite Team, and informally known as Joshi’s Propulsion Lab (JPL), where I am currently trying to learn new skills needed to help build a payload for a launch,” said Hoang. “I am also a member of the ISSDC team, and my grade for Flight by Design is dependant on the work that I do in this club-class team.”

Although her class choices and extracurriculars add some stress to her life, Hoang enjoys the work she gets to do.

“These things definitely take up a significant portion of my time, but I truly enjoy doing all of these things,” said Hoang. “Sometimes it makes life a bit more stressful, but keeping an eye on the future and remembering what this is all for makes it more bearable in the worst moments. I also have a lot of friends that participate in the same things, and there’s just a bond you have with someone after you struggle with so much stress.”

Though AP classes are demanding, capable students shouldn’t be too worried.

“I would tell myself that I should not stress too much at the beginning of the year with AP classes, because grades tend to fluctuate frequently, and I gave myself a lot of grief being very worried about those classes, and now I’m pretty content with my grades. I would also start SAT prep around Thanksgiving instead.”  

Whether junior year crushes a student or a student crushes it, junior year is ultimately a learning experience.

“Well, going through a challenging Junior year probably makes it easier for you to go through Senior year, and colleges tend to focus on what we do this year,” said Hoang. “There’s also a rush of adrenaline or stress that seems to be oddly satisfying to me, especially when I finish a test feeling that I good about it. Taking challenging AP classes also sets you up better for college, and helps you learn how to cope with high levels of stress.”

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University of Washington gives students flexibility for enrichment

Students in the Summer Stretch Robotics class work on their projects.
Photo Courtesy of RC

The Halbert and Nancy Robinson Center for Young Scholars (RC) at the University of Washington (UW) offers students courses for both school credit and enrichment. The RC also provides Programs for highly capable high school students to kick start college career through and the Transition School/Early Entrance Program and the UW Academy.

The Summer Stretch Program runs from 8:30AM to 2:20PM, 3 days a week for 5 weeks between June and July. Courses offered are for students currently enrolled in grades 7 through 9, with some courses being offered to students who have completed 10th grade. These post-freshman year courses include American Literature, Chemistry, Number Theory, and Precalculus. In addition, some courses offer high school credit if approved by a school counselor or principal.

RAHS sophomore Ayan Hersi decided to take a literature course in the Summer Stretch Program to push herself in reading.

“I took a literature class which was called Postulates: The Unreal Reveals the Real,” said Hersi. “I just wanted to read more during the summer. It wouldn’t be as challenging if I stayed home; I would’ve been in my comfort zone and I wanted to get out of my comfort zone.”

At first Hersi felt anxious about taking an unfamiliar course.

“I didn’t know anything about it,” said Hersi, “and I didn’t know anyone who was doing it so it was kind of nerve wracking.”

That anxiousness was soon alleviated by Hersi’s instructor.

“I had one teacher named Ms. Wendy Mullen,” said Hersi.  “She was really nice; I wasn’t expecting her to be as nice as she was because it was supposed to be a hard class for advanced students. She was a really good teacher. Whenever we did any writing she gave feedback on our work and she was easy to talk to.”

Being that the Summer Stretch Program is completely voluntary, unlike required classes for high school graduation, Hersi’s classmates were engaged in the class material.

“Everybody [in class] was eager to learn and [genuinely] interested in the topic,” said Hersi. “Most of our material we learned at home, but whenever we had activities to do together [my classmates] were really helpful and easy to talk to.”

Hersi also found the prompts from Ms. Mullen engaging.

“I really liked the [assignments] a lot,” said Hersi. “Whenever we had to do essays the teacher gave us really good prompts.”

Hersi found the Summer Stretch experience to be more personal than the classes at RAHS.

“You had more time to get to know other people in your class, and it wasn’t as stressful and I feel like there was more feedback given,” said Hersi. “It was more 1 on 1 so you would know what you need to work on.”

After finishing the course, Hersi found her reading to be more engrossing.

“I feel like I’m more thoughtful when I read now,” said Hersi. “Before I would read stuff just to read, but now I actually think about what the author is trying to say.”

The RC also offers enrichment Programs for younger students such as Summer Challenge; a hands-on educational experience in material not covered in the traditional school curriculum for 5th and 6th graders. The RC also offers a Saturday Program, another enrichment Program for students in Kindergarten to 8th grade.

Alexandra Goodell, the Director of Outreach Programs at the RC manages the Summer and Saturday Programs.

“Primarily, I oversee the staffing, curriculum, and logistics of the summer and Saturday Programs,” said Goodell. “I also am responsible for the development and implementation of our outreach strategic planning.”

Goodell says that students looking to do Summer Stretch should expect an academically focused experience.

“The classes in Summer Stretch are very rigorous and homework is expected,” said Goodell. “It is a pretty intense learning experience.”

Though Summer Stretch classes are relatively challenging, students will find the experience rewarding.

“There is a lot of collaboration in these Programs, which has manifold benefits,” said Goodell. “Also, these Programs offer exposure to topics that students may not get in a regular school contexts – classes such as Number Theory or Philosophy of Science. This kind of intellectual exposure is very stimulating for students.”

Students with passions not covered by the RAHS curriculum may find their hunger for knowledge quenched by the Summer Stretch Program.

“It is an opportunity for students to dive into an area that they may be passionate about that they don’t have the opportunity to pursue in school,” said Goodell.  

For more information about courses and how to apply, visit: https://robinsoncenter.uw.edu/Programs/

The University Of Washington also offers college courses during the summer as part of their Summer Quarter Program. Non UW students including high school students can attend a quarter of a wide range of classes during the summer. Some of the courses offered are high intensity language course that pack in a full term of material into a few weeks

Science Olympiad students support middle schoolers

Mentor Alexa Villatoro (left) demonstrates an experiment to mentees for the Crimebusters event.
Photo By: Ryan Lipour

For many years, students from the RAHS Science Olympiad team have been dedicating their time to mentoring Chinook Middle School (CMS) Science Olympiad students.

Scott McComb, the Science Olympiad coach at RAHS, hopes the program will get middle schoolers excited about the competition.

“The goal of the Science Olympiad mentor program is to encourage and inspire other schools to get enthusiastic and be successful at Science Olympiad,” said McComb.

The program is not only benevolent, but also useful for the RAHS Science Olympiad team.

“Part of [the reason we have the program] is because we love Science Olympiad, part of it is not entirely altruistic,” said McComb. “We have a number of people who come from those programs, the middle school program, into our high school program.”

Shawn Connolly, the Science Olympiad coach at CMS believes that student mentors use their past experience with Science Olympiad in helping their mentees.

“The [mentors] do a couple of things,” said Connolly.  “Partly, on these days they help to check in with individual students especially with events that they some experience with. So some of the RAHS students have a lot more experience with crimebusters and they’ve been doing it for 3 years, so they’re getting set up to show some students how to do some of the techniques.”

Student mentors also assist Connolly in the organization of events for the mentees.

“We had a self-invitational competition this past saturday [4 November 2017],” said Connolly, “and a couple of the mentors helped to pull together and organize that and run some of the events as well as find the tests and pull together materials. All that kind of stuff.”

CMS Olympian Raymond Nguyen is an 8th grade mentee who decided to join Science Olympiad and fell in love with the competition.

“I decided to join because it seemed fun and I wanted something to do after school. I also wanted to compete for my school,” said Nguyen. “It’s really fun to work with other people to make stuff and compete around the country.”

Nguyen believes the mentors are beneficial to his success in Science Olympiad.

“I think they’re pretty helpful,” said Nguyen. “One of the mentors that worked on towers awhile ago helped me with the tower build because I had certain parameters that changed up this year, so they gave me some ideas to help make my tower better. They told me how to support the tower and how to use the materials efficiently.”

Mentors’ past notes also helped Nguyen with a study event.

“Another person who did a study event gave me their notes,” said Nguyen, “so I could actually study and see what their studying techniques were.”

RAHS sophomore Olympian Andreah Elvirah, a former Chinook student in the CMS Science Olympiad program, is a mentor.

“I decided to do [the mentor program] because my brother is on the team,” said Elvirah. “I know a lot of the students on the team, so it let me spend more time with them. I also really like Science Olympiad at CMS; it’s a place to make really good friends.”

While the mentor program is only comprised of 3 RAHS Students, CMS alumni also participate.

“Officially, there are only 3 [mentors] from Raisbeck,” said Elvirah. “But some people who used to be on Chinook’s Science Olympiad team still mentor even though they’re not on Aviation’s team.”

RAHS mentors propel their students towards success by creating a useful studying and preparation structure for Chinook students.

“We meet with [Mr. Connolly] and we set up google drives; one between the mentors and one for the students with class material,” said Elvirah. “We also help them organize their notes, and we tutor them in concepts they aren’t grasping yet.”

Axel Elvirah, Andreah Elvirah’s younger brother, is a student at CMS and a mentee.

“I decided to join because my sister encouraged me to,” said Axel, “and because I’m interested in science.”

While Axel doesn’t ask the mentors for help very often, he can see why they are helpful.

“I’m not the type of person who likes getting help from people,” said Axel. “I like solving problems by myself. For other people I can see how a mentor’s help could be useful. But I’ve gotten help from my sister with organizing my notes.”

Axel is also excited about possibly coming to Aviation next school year

“I’m excited about applying to Aviation,” said Axel. “I wanna do Science Olympiad there if I get accepted.”

Senior Erik Harang spearheads the mentor program, initially joining out of interest.

“I think I was just kind of interested,” said Harang. “I mean obviously you have to get the volunteer hours but I was generally just interested in seeing what people were doing at the middle school level for Science Olympiad.”

Harang never experienced Science Olympiad in middle school, but he found it to be intriguing

“I went to Pacific Middle School so we didn’t have a Science Olympiad team,” said Harang. “So I just did robotics in middle school and I really wanted to see what middle school Science Olympiad was about. Once I started I was like ‘oh this is really cool and interesting, I wanna be involved in helping out.’”

Now involved with Science Olympiad at both the high school and middle school level, Harang doesn’t see himself leaving the competition anytime soon.

“To be honest, I really really love Sci Oly,” said Harang. “I’m planning on staying involved even at the college level. I’m not totally sure where I’m going to school but a lot of the schools I’m looking at are still involved in SciOly. I personally just help out of a passion for SciOly and I really like to see young people do well in it as well.”

Being that the program has been active for several years, some mentored students are currently in Science Olympiad at RAHS, bringing their experience from middle school with them.

“In some of the builds events you tangibly get way better but I think beyond that, and more importantly, is that [the mentees] can develop more long term skills they can use,” said Harang.  “We’re now starting to have people who have been in Science Olympiad at CMS and who are now doing Science Olympiad at RAHS and they’ve had all this time to build their skills so they come into Aviation Science Olympiad with a lot of experience.”

One of these mentored students is freshman olympian Noah Dooley.

“I worked with Noah and I think that having the CMS mentors helped him understand his topic which was anatomy,” said Andreah. “It definitely helped him organize all of his notes because anatomy has a lot of information.”

Dooley agrees that the mentors at Chinook assisted in his learning.

“Back in 7th grade, the mentors helped us out with [anatomy] because there were some parts we didn’t understand because they were way over my head,” said Dooley. “The mentors explained the different concepts to us concisely. It was like having an actual teacher in front of you instead of reading off the internet.”

Dooley also believes the program braced him for the workload of RAHS

“I feel really good about my workload now,” said Dooley. “It’s nothing we weren’t told about.”

McComb believes that the program also allows growth for both the mentors and the mentees.

“Well I think anytime you have a chance to ask someone who is just a little bit better than you how to do something there is tremendous growth,” said McComb, “both for the person who is learning as well as the person who is teaching.”

The mentors recent experiences allow for understanding that may not come from a teacher.

“The high school students are close enough in age that they remember what it’s like to be a novice in a way that a teacher may not,” said McComb. “They’ve been doing it for so long it’s like ‘of course you do it this way’, whereas someone who’s just recently learned is like ‘oh actually I remember real clearly when I was in your shoes, these are the things I struggled with.”

Because of this, the mentor program helps both students and mentors.

“And then of course there’s this whole notion that when you teach something it’s actually the best way to learn something. So I think there’s a benefit to both the high school students and middle school students.”

The mentor program also allows mentors to practice their leadership skills.

“[Erik] has always been an amazing student and really diligent,” said McComb. “And I think it really helped him hone his leadership skills, or certainly in the realm of science olympiad. It’s fun to see Andreah and Alexa step up this year. It’s a chance to practice guiding others. It’s a chance to practice being a leader.”

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Science Olympiad students support middle schoolers

Mentor Alexa Villatoro (left) demonstrates an experiment to mentees for the Crimebusters event.
Photo By: Ryan Lipour

For many years, students from the RAHS Science Olympiad team have been dedicating their time to mentoring Chinook Middle School (CMS) Science Olympiad students.

Scott McComb, the Science Olympiad coach at RAHS, hopes the program will get middle schoolers excited about the competition.

“The goal of the Science Olympiad mentor program is to encourage and inspire other schools to get enthusiastic and be successful at Science Olympiad,” said McComb.

The program is not only benevolent, but also useful for the RAHS Science Olympiad team.

“Part of [the reason we have the program] is because we love Science Olympiad, part of it is not entirely altruistic,” said McComb. “We have a number of people who come from those programs, the middle school program, into our high school program.”

Shawn Connolly, the Science Olympiad coach at CMS believes that student mentors use their past experience with Science Olympiad in helping their mentees.

“The [mentors] do a couple of things,” said Connolly.  “Partly, on these days they help to check in with individual students especially with events that they some experience with. So some of the RAHS students have a lot more experience with crimebusters and they’ve been doing it for 3 years, so they’re getting set up to show some students how to do some of the techniques.”

Student mentors also assist Connolly in the organization of events for the mentees.

“We had a self-invitational competition this past saturday [4 November 2017],” said Connolly, “and a couple of the mentors helped to pull together and organize that and run some of the events as well as find the tests and pull together materials. All that kind of stuff.”

CMS Olympian Raymond Nguyen is an 8th grade mentee who decided to join Science Olympiad and fell in love with the competition.

“I decided to join because it seemed fun and I wanted something to do after school. I also wanted to compete for my school,” said Nguyen. “It’s really fun to work with other people to make stuff and compete around the country.”

Nguyen believes the mentors are beneficial to his success in Science Olympiad.

“I think they’re pretty helpful,” said Nguyen. “One of the mentors that worked on towers awhile ago helped me with the tower build because I had certain parameters that changed up this year, so they gave me some ideas to help make my tower better. They told me how to support the tower and how to use the materials efficiently.”

Mentors’ past notes also helped Nguyen with a study event.

“Another person who did a study event gave me their notes,” said Nguyen, “so I could actually study and see what their studying techniques were.”

RAHS sophomore Olympian Andreah Elvirah, a former Chinook student in the CMS Science Olympiad program, is a mentor.

“I decided to do [the mentor program] because my brother is on the team,” said Elvirah. “I know a lot of the students on the team, so it let me spend more time with them. I also really like Science Olympiad at CMS; it’s a place to make really good friends.”

While the mentor program is only comprised of 3 RAHS Students, CMS alumni also participate.

“Officially, there are only 3 [mentors] from Raisbeck,” said Elvirah. “But some people who used to be on Chinook’s Science Olympiad team still mentor even though they’re not on Aviation’s team.”

RAHS mentors propel their students towards success by creating a useful studying and preparation structure for Chinook students.

“We meet with [Mr. Connolly] and we set up google drives; one between the mentors and one for the students with class material,” said Elvirah. “We also help them organize their notes, and we tutor them in concepts they aren’t grasping yet.”

Axel Elvirah, Andreah Elvirah’s younger brother, is a student at CMS and a mentee.

“I decided to join because my sister encouraged me to,” said Axel, “and because I’m interested in science.”

While Axel doesn’t ask the mentors for help very often, he can see why they are helpful.

“I’m not the type of person who likes getting help from people,” said Axel. “I like solving problems by myself. For other people I can see how a mentor’s help could be useful. But I’ve gotten help from my sister with organizing my notes.”

Axel is also excited about possibly coming to Aviation next school year

“I’m excited about applying to Aviation,” said Axel. “I wanna do Science Olympiad there if I get accepted.”

Senior Erik Harang spearheads the mentor program, initially joining out of interest.

“I think I was just kind of interested,” said Harang. “I mean obviously you have to get the volunteer hours but I was generally just interested in seeing what people were doing at the middle school level for Science Olympiad.”

Harang never experienced Science Olympiad in middle school, but he found it to be intriguing

“I went to Pacific Middle School so we didn’t have a Science Olympiad team,” said Harang. “So I just did robotics in middle school and I really wanted to see what middle school Science Olympiad was about. Once I started I was like ‘oh this is really cool and interesting, I wanna be involved in helping out.’”

Now involved with Science Olympiad at both the high school and middle school level, Harang doesn’t see himself leaving the competition anytime soon.

“To be honest, I really really love Sci Oly,” said Harang. “I’m planning on staying involved even at the college level. I’m not totally sure where I’m going to school but a lot of the schools I’m looking at are still involved in SciOly. I personally just help out of a passion for SciOly and I really like to see young people do well in it as well.”

Being that the program has been active for several years, some mentored students are currently in Science Olympiad at RAHS, bringing their experience from middle school with them.

“In some of the builds events you tangibly get way better but I think beyond that, and more importantly, is that [the mentees] can develop more long term skills they can use,” said Harang.  “We’re now starting to have people who have been in Science Olympiad at CMS and who are now doing Science Olympiad at RAHS and they’ve had all this time to build their skills so they come into Aviation Science Olympiad with a lot of experience.”

One of these mentored students is freshman olympian Noah Dooley.

“I worked with Noah and I think that having the CMS mentors helped him understand his topic which was anatomy,” said Andreah. “It definitely helped him organize all of his notes because anatomy has a lot of information.”

Dooley agrees that the mentors at Chinook assisted in his learning.

“Back in 7th grade, the mentors helped us out with [anatomy] because there were some parts we didn’t understand because they were way over my head,” said Dooley. “The mentors explained the different concepts to us concisely. It was like having an actual teacher in front of you instead of reading off the internet.”

Dooley also believes the program braced him for the workload of RAHS

“I feel really good about my workload now,” said Dooley. “It’s nothing we weren’t told about.”

McComb believes that the program also allows growth for both the mentors and the mentees.

“Well I think anytime you have a chance to ask someone who is just a little bit better than you how to do something there is tremendous growth,” said McComb, “both for the person who is learning as well as the person who is teaching.”

The mentors recent experiences allow for understanding that may not come from a teacher.

“The high school students are close enough in age that they remember what it’s like to be a novice in a way that a teacher may not,” said McComb. “They’ve been doing it for so long it’s like ‘of course you do it this way’, whereas someone who’s just recently learned is like ‘oh actually I remember real clearly when I was in your shoes, these are the things I struggled with.”

Because of this, the mentor program helps both students and mentors.

“And then of course there’s this whole notion that when you teach something it’s actually the best way to learn something. So I think there’s a benefit to both the high school students and middle school students.”

The mentor program also allows mentors to practice their leadership skills.

“[Erik] has always been an amazing student and really diligent,” said McComb. “And I think it really helped him hone his leadership skills, or certainly in the realm of science olympiad. It’s fun to see Andreah and Alexa step up this year. It’s a chance to practice guiding others. It’s a chance to practice being a leader.”

Open post

Student stars shine on stage

from left to right; RAHS sophomore Wren Bergin listens attentively to the instruction of senior Lukas Civan who plays Grimsby in the Hiliners production of the Little Mermaid

From 9 Sept. to 24 Sept., RAHS students performed in the Hi-Liners Musical Theatre adaptation of The Little Mermaid at the Performing Arts Center in Burien.

Laboring extensively over the summer, students such as RAHS sophomore Wren Bergin finally got to showcase their hard work on performance night.

“We rehearsed about 140 hours for the entire play,” said Bergin. “Usually it’s an hour for every page, and our script was 120 pages long, so we put in an extra 20 hours on it.”

AP Literature teacher Sarah Fitzpatrick can vouch that the students’ hard work paid off when she saw the play.

“I thought it was wonderful,” said Fitzpatrick. “I know Amber Thatcher [who played Ariel] because she was a student in my class so we were excited to see her on stage, and she has such a beautiful voice.”

Although experiencing the play as performer, Bergin agrees with the sentiment.

“When you’re in a play you can’t really say that it was good or not because you’ll never get the experience watching it first hand,” said Bergin,  “but I can pretty confidently say that our performances went well.”

Bergin herself is a well seasoned theatre kid.

“With the Hi-Liners, I’ve been in about 27 plays,” said Bergin. “I’ve been with them since I was 7.”

Senior Lucas Civan is a new arrival to the Hi-Liners, but still has some productions under his belt.

The Little Mermaid was my third show with the Hi-Liners, following The Sound of Music and UrineTown,” said Civan. “I’ve been a Hi-Liner for roughly a year.”

Despite this experience with theatre, The Little Mermaid production still came with its share of surprises.

“Whenever props or the sets would break, especially during performances, it would cause this awkward half-second pause,” said Civan, “with everyone looking at each other in a blur of confusion and laughter, thinking; ‘Shoot, what do we do now?’”

Though frightening at the time, the breaking of props during performances can leave a fond memory.

“For example, in the second act when Ariel, Eric, and Grimsby [Civan’s character] are about to eat dinner, the bell that I usually rang unexpectedly broke in half,” said Civan. “I looked over at Amber Thatcher, who played Ariel, who was trying extremely hard not to burst out laughing. Little moments like those happen all the time during live performances, which are scary during the time, but hilarious to look back on.”
Additionally, things weren’t always smooth sailing before the curtains opened.

“One challenge was seeing how it is going to be put together, how it’s going to work,” said Bergin. There’s always a point in the process when you’re a few weeks in and it feels like nothing is working.”

Still, the fruits of the work that go into a main stage production are just as gratifying for the two.

“When you begin production, as we did back in June, you read the script and begin to envision the character that you are portraying. During script read throughs, blocking, and rehearsals, you slowly begin to pick up on character motivations, traits, quirks, jokes, and more,” said Civan. “Discovering the character and becoming them, one-hundred percent of them, is an amazing feeling; like literally walking a mile in their shoes, until you become them.”

For Civan, theatre is a comprehensive form of artistic expression.

“Theatre provides a rare opportunity to abandon reality and become someone else, to step into their shoes and explore their world,” said Civan. “It’s a creative outlet that incorporates acting, singing, dancing, improv, costuming, set design, and about every other art form you could think of.”

Yet, finding the time to be able to express that creativity is a challenge in its own right.
“The first week of school we had ‘tech days’ which would be from 4:30 – 9:30 pm. So I’d get home at around 10 and then I would have homework to do,” said Bergin. “I would be able to do some homework during ‘tech days’ because we aren’t always used everyday but it was pretty stressful the first week.”

Theatre also provides an opportunity for self-growth and reflection.

“You have to take responsibility for yourself because no one else will,” said Civan. “If I messed up a line or forgot a section of blocking, prior to The Little Mermaid, I’d often blame it on something or someone else. However, since I was entering my first MainStage Production, I had to acknowledge, fix, and learn from my mistakes.”

As an art form, theatre allows any willing student to leave themselves at the door, and become someone else on stage.

“Anyone can be a performer,” said Civan. “Whether it’s singing, acting, or dancing, theatre will take you in and transform your creativity and passion into spectacle.”

from left to right; RAHS sophomore Wren Bergin listens attentively to the instruction of senior Lukas Civan who plays Grimsby in the Hiliners production of the Little Mermaid
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