New Skunkworks leadership steers team forward

Therese Tipton, Nikhil Joshi, Karen Wilson, Ben Muer, and Mr. Hadley meet with Highline School District officials to discuss the Skunkworks robotics team.

After a turbulent start to the RAHS Skunkworks Robotics Team, students, teachers, mentors, and RAHS administration have come together to create a Steering Committee that will help advise and lead the team.

RAHS Principal Therese Tipton was excited about helping to bring the Committee together.

“Because there were differing opinions, or ideas of how the team should be run, it was suggested that we have some type of exec board, governing body, [or] steering committee,” said Tipton, “which is, I think, a fantastic idea because that is how pretty much all of the rest of the teams and clubs are run.”

The Committee will come together to help the Robotics team make important decisions, especially about how the team will spend money.

“As issues come up, or questions, [such as about] planning travels or [the] budget, the Steering Committee will get together and help the team make those decisions,” said Tipton.

According to Tipton, the members of this Committee will be Erin Demaree, Evan Frishholz, and Ben Meuer (representing the students), calculus teacher Nikhil Joshi (representing the teachers), Robert Hadley (representing the parents), and Thomas DeSilva and Trevor Gardner (representing the mentors). The coach of the team will also be a part of the Committee with RAHS algebra teacher Karen Wilson and parent Jim Smith filling in as temporary coaches for the team. Either Tipton or RAHS Vice Principal Tremain Holloway will serve as the representative for the RAHS administration.

“Everyone except the coaches and the administrators are elected by their representative group,” said Demaree, the senior representative. “So the sophomores elected a sophomore, the juniors elected a junior, the seniors elected me, the mentors elected their mentor, and the parents elected a parent representative.”

The team used a special voting system to ensure that the representatives adequately represented the team.

“We did what’s called approval voting, so you can vote as many times as you want for the available candidates, so if there are five candidates, and you like four of them, you can vote for all four of those people,” said Demaree, “that way the person who is elected, or who has the most votes, is the one who is the most widely approved out of everyone.”

Joshi was asked by Tipton to be the teacher representative on the Committee because many of his classes include robotics students.

“When they were looking to put together the Steering Committee, it made sense to have a teacher from the school as a representative on there,” said Joshi, “and since I was already coming to the meetings and showed some interests in the outcomes, they asked if I was willing to serve on that, so I did.”

As a teacher, Joshi’s priority is to take care of the students and to nurture their growth as robotics members.

“Certainly I want to make sure the kids are having a good time, having a productive time. They put a lot of time towards the robotics program,” said Joshi. “They make a lot of sacrifices in a lot of different areas of their lives to be able to dedicate that time and energy, so that time needs to be fun, that time needs to be productive, they need to be learning something, and they need to come out of every year feeling that that was time well spend, that they are a better person for having spent that time that year, regardless of wins or losses or whatever.”

In addition, Joshi hopes to use his position on the Steering Committee to open up the RAHS shop to uses beyond just the Skunkworks Robotics team.

“The vision that Mr. McComb and myself and Mr. Gudor [have is that the RAHS shop is] not the robotics shop as much as a technical maker space for the school,” said Joshi. “The robotics uses it in the evenings after school, and we want people to have Science Olympiad down [in the shop] in the mornings, and Flight by Design down there as necessary to build the various components, and making that [the shop] much more of an open and shared space for the school as a whole.”

For junior representative Evan Frishholz, keeping the robotics team together is a must.

“My major goals are keeping the team, for one, together, both as the team aspect as well as keeping the kids, the students on the team as close together as possible,” said Frishholz. “[I’m] trying to create an environment that we’re all able to learn and grow, like robotics is intended to do.”

That being said, Frishholz stresses the importance of mentors for the robotics team.

“I want to keep FIRST’s mission in mind, [which] is it’s a mentor driven program, so we want to keep all our mentors happy,” said Frishholz, “and we want to have good communication with our administration, parent and mentor groups, so I’m just trying to do my best to create harmony within the team and all the stakeholder groups.”

Demaree hopes to be a moderate voice on the committee, ensuring that the committee is one that listens to all point-of-views.

“My experiences on the team this year with all of these different issues has been that everyone is really polarized and not doing a very good job of listening to each other,” said Demaree, “so I think everyone on the Steering Committee, but especially me, my goal is to listen, so that way we can come up with the best option and really understand that and not have it be based off of feelings or prejudice.”

On the committee, a key priority is finding ways to insure the team.

“There’s a few major problems that we determined were some of the main reasons for the rift,” said Frishholz, “such as insurance coverage when events are being held in our building, insurance coverage when we’re not in the building, [and] mentors and coaches having access to the school.”

Going 4H, which means joining a network of other 4H teams that would be independent of the Highline School District, is one solution.

“We’re looking at a 4H within this school, which is an option that keeps us a part of the school, but it’s essentially insurance coverage,” said Frishholz.

For both Tipton and Joshi, finding a new coach for the robotics team is the number one priority.

“We’ve had some interest from some people that have FIRST Robotics background, which is really good,” said Tipton.

For Joshi at least, having a coach that is dedicated first and foremost to the students is vital.

“To me a good coach is someone who has a long term vision for the program, is a good people manager, is a good delegator, figuring out who is the best people for various roles, both from a mentor perspective and a student perspective,” said Joshi. “They’re focused on having a successful team that wins, but I think they should also be focused on having a productive, enjoyable environment that’s inclusive and makes everybody want to be there, and somebody who is as always an advocate for the students.”

Frishholz agrees with Joshi in how the coach must be able to nurture the robotics students’ learning.

“I really think that the coach needs to be supportive of the students’ opinions and decisions because after all this is the program in which students are supposed to be growing and learning,” said Frishholz.

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Skunkworks turmoil sparks debates over future of team

On 17 Oct. 2017, students, mentors, and parents of the Skunkworks Robotics Team met with RAHS administration to discuss what the future robotics team would look like.

With the departure of Coach Robert Steele from the RAHS Skunkworks Robotics Team, questions and uncertainties remained about the team’s future. This has prompted discussions and debates amongst the robotics members, coaches, and administration over what that future would look like.

For RAHS Principal Therese Tipton, having a robotics team led by students and student input is critical.

“Some of the things, and this thinking comes straight from the students and some of their questions, is to make sure that they [the robotics students] have a voice in looking at their budget, and travel options, and things like that,” said Tipton.

In addition, this means making sure that students have a role in fundraising for the team and choosing their leaders.

“[I want the students to try to have] things like having a real role in their fundraising and maybe even developing some sources for donations,” said Tipton. “In creating their team leadership structure, as opposed to someone being just appointed, they could gather together and could have an election process like other teams do. Just things like that where they really feel like they [the robotics students] have ownership, that they have a voice.”

RAHS senior and robotics member Ailis Waddill believes that having a robotics team that is front and center within the school is important both for the future of the team and for the the school.

“Coming into this school as a freshman, if I hadn’t had robotics, my whole outlook could have been changed,” said Waddill. “For our future generations, I want to leave behind a legacy at our school for everyone else to be a part of.”

Waddill wants the team this year to improve its image amongst other robotics teams.

“I’m hoping that will give us the chance to be a little more humble and respect the other team in the community and make friends,” said Waddill, “because Skunkworks didn’t have a lot of friends in other teams, and my goal is to change that this year.”

On the other hand, RAHS senior and robotics member Izzie Torres hopes that whatever robotics team develops this year is one that is centered on mentorship.

“One of the biggest values that I have and that FIRST [the governing robotics organization] has is that through FRC [the league Skunkworks is in] you are supposed to learn from your mentors,” said Torres, “and this whole season I was really looking forward with our mechanical engineering mentor to learn about stress and strain and basically how to design something and not just CAD at random.”

Another robotics member, senior Erin Demaree, concurs with Torres, though she also stresses student unity on the team.

“I really do value having mentors interact with students because I know I’ve learned a lot from them,” said Demaree. “I know I really value a real team-work ideal, where everyone is working together. I don’t care if we win or not — that’s always cool — but I really like the idea of all the students working together because that makes competitions so much fun.”

Despite these differences, Tipton hopes that the team can move forward.

“First order of business is ensuring that we have students, parents, and mentors helping select a new coach as soon as possible,” said Tipton.

In line with her view that students should have a key role in the future of the robotics team, Tipton had RAHS robotics students create the criteria for selecting the new coach.

“I actually had the students create a job description, and of course they would love someone who has knowledge of FIRST, and competitions,” said Tipton, “but barring that, someone who is really willing to learn, someone who is a real positive leader and who will encompass the student voice, who will really listen, and just take the team and really help lead to really work with the mentors.”

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Shiroma bids goodbye to RAHS, hello to Hawaii

Shiroma assists Ginny Sunde and Francesca Gaerlan with their copper reaction lab.
Shiroma assists Ginny Sunde and Francesca Gaerlan with their copper reaction lab.

RAHS chemistry and art teacher, Speech and Debate coach, and Prom advisor Garrett Shiroma is leaving RAHS to move back to Oahu, Hawaii where he was raised.

 

Although the 2016-2017 school year is his last, Shiroma’s plan to move back has been in the works for some time.

 

“I’ve been planning to move for a while, so it just is kind of like an appropriate time,” said Shiroma. “I’ve actually been teaching here for ten years, so it seemed like a nice right round number to end that, but I’ve been talking about it with my wife for about five years now, so we just finally decided to do it.”

 

One of the many things Shiroma plans to do is to open a food truck.

 

“It would mainly just be about local food I’ll try to make, so just kind of a mix of that same kind of stuff,” said Shiroma. “Mainly just rice dishes like rice with the meat and other things similar to that.”

 

RAHS junior Debora Ferede got to know Shiroma’s easygoing personality through Speech and Debate.

 

“When I first joined Speech and Debate, I was a freshman, and he was the one that made the environment more comfortable for me,” said Ferede, “because I was a freshman, and I was really small and really scared of everyone else who was upperclassmen, and he was really casual. He’s a great impact in Speech and Debate.”

 

Ferede appreciates Shiroma’s ability to keep the team focused and teach them self-discipline.

 

“He makes sure that we’re on top of our stuff, but then there are times where he’s like ‘Oh, well, if you don’t do well, that’s on you,’ and, ‘You have to take responsibility for that,’” said Ferede, “and I commend him for that.”

 

Senior Jacob Simmons is the president of the Speech and Debate team and has seen first hand the work that Shiroma has done for the team.

 

“Shiroma’s time dedicated to teaching debate skills, filing paperwork for competitions/fundraisers, and overall commitment to the team throughout the years has made literally every aspect of our club possible,” said Simmons.

 

Additionally, Ferede notes Shiroma’s ability to build friendships with his students.

 

“Sitting down and gossipping is really funny, or him just making jokes about people in Speech and Debate, it’s really funny, especially at tournaments and after school,” said Ferede. “If you get to know him outside of school, he’s really cool, he’s really sassy, which I like, because no one else at this school is sassy like he is. He’s just a friend.”

 

Shiroma admitted that one of the things he will miss the most is the the ease of traveling around the country while living in Washington.

 

“I think one of the bigger things that I’d probably miss is the ability to go a lot of different places, or be able to go to a bunch of different places by just hopping into the car,” said Shiroma, “and [if I’m in Hawaii and] if I wanted to go to a new place other than just Hawaii, it’ll be a lot more difficult.”

 

Shiroma is proud of leaving behind the legacy of leaving behind the Speech and Debate team and being the prom advisor, as well as bemused by the meme students have made out of him.

 

“Obviously one legacy I can’t get rid of is all those memes, they’re stuck forever, probably at least for the next couple years,” said Shiroma.

 

For Ferede however, Shiroma’s legacy also includes his ability to connect to his students.

 

“For my social life he’s just always there, and if you complain to him, he’ll be like ‘uh huh’ and it seems like he’s not listening, but he’s actually listening,” said Ferede.

 

Simmons knows that many students who have gotten to know Shiroma through his classes and through Speech and Debate will miss Shiroma.

 

“He’s a tough coach and his support means a lot,” said Simmons. “Even though I’m graduating too, he’ll be missed a lot by students both past and present.”

 

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RAHS students sharpen their math skills

Rachel Phuong was one of the top-scorers on the AMC exam among RAHS students.
Rachel Phuong was one of the top-scorers on the AMC exam among RAHS students.

The American Mathematics Competitions (AMC) is a math exam designed to help students improve their mathematical ability and evaluate their skills. On 15 Feb. 2017, twenty RAHS students took the exam.

 

Junior Izzie Torres participated in the competition and had the highest score of all RAHS participants.

 

“[It is] basically a large competition to see how well you do on these really difficult precalculus, algebra 2, [and] geometry problems,” said Torres. “It’s also very prestigious; many colleges will ask for your score on the AMC because they want to know how good you are at math, and it’s really representative of your math abilities.”

 

Torres was the student who first advocated for facilitating the test at RAHS.

 

“I had a bit of free time on my hand, and so I want to find something else to do, so I went online and started searching math competitions, and I found the AMC,” said Torres, “so I asked Dr. Edge if we could hold it at our school.”

 

Junior Rachel Phuong, also a top-scorer at RAHS, wanted to participate in the competition to test her math skills.

 

“I decided to compete because I wanted to see my level, also I wanted to try it out,” said Phuong. “I hadn’t heard of this competition before, so I was really interested in what it offered and kind of what type of questions were on it just because I wanted to test myself and see how well I could do on this new competition.”

 

RAHS Calculus teacher Dr. Richard Edgerton facilitated bringing the AMC to RAHS by hosting the test in his room.

 

“We had a couple of meetings where we met to discuss when the test would be held and so forth,” said Edgerton. “[Then] I hosted the meeting after school where the students took the test.”

 

The exam consists of 25 multiple-choice questions, and students have only 75 minutes to complete them. Most students do not answer every question.

 

“You get 6 points for every correct answer, 1.5 for every question you leave blank, and 0 for wrong answer,” said Torres, “so it’s better to leave answers blank than to get them wrong.”

 

To prepare for the competition, Torres tried to get her hands on every piece of practice material she could find.

 

“They have the test from every year online, and every year there are two different tests, so there are like twenty different tests online. I didn’t get the time to take that many; I only took like five. But basically I took multiple practice tests,” said Torres. “I also looked at some practice problems on Khan Academy; they have [some problems] under ‘Math for Fun and Glory.’”

 

Despite being the top scorer of all the RAHS students, Torres was not able to qualify for the next round of math tests, which is the American Invitational Mathematical Examination (AIME).

 

“No one in the school qualified. There’s the AIME, and that would be what you would go on to if you did qualify. You have [to] earn a score of pretty much at least 92 out of 150 to move on, and the highest score from our school was in the 80s ,” said Torres. “So no one qualified, but next year I’m hoping on taking it again and maybe practice over the summer so that I can qualify.”

 

Edgerton believes that success on the AMC requires early and consistent practice.
“If people want to participate next year, now’s the time to start preparing because, again, the questions are very different [from normal math class questions], and so preparing early on is a very good idea,” said Edgerton. “Looking at really novel [sorts] of problems that are actually more like puzzles than problems, they provide a very different way for approaching something.”

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Skunkworks preps for upcoming competition season

Skunkworks Robotics members Nick Tran and Lane Burke help to build the chassis of the team's robot.
Skunkworks Robotics members Nick Tran and Lane Burke help to build the chassis of the team’s robot.

With the first competition coming up at Auburn Mountainview High School on 4 Mar., the RAHS FIRST Robotics team, Skunkworks, is busy designing and programming their robot.

 

The game for the 2017 Competition, called First Steamworks, involves preparing an “airship” to launch, including providing “steam” to a “boiler.”

 

Senior Kaeden Wile is the team lead for the Skunkworks team and is in charge of overseeing the group as they try to build a robot to accomplish two major tasks.

 

“First of all, there [are] going to be wiffle balls, they call it ‘steam wiffle balls,’ all over the field,” said Wile, “and they’ll have hoops that are kind of high in the sky, ‘boilers,’ and we have to shoot those balls into the boilers.”

 

The team can gain additional points by adding gears to their “airship.” This aspect of the game involves a unique human element.

 

“We also can get gears,” said Wile. “This is the first year where there [are] actually people on the field, so they’re standing in the center, and we’ll take the gear from one end of the field down to the person in the middle, load it, and they put it on their ‘airship.’”

 

The robot can complete an additional task at the end of the game.

 

“At the end of the game, you can put a little rope down and [have the robot] climb that to get some extra points,” said Wile.

 

Before building their robot, the team learns about the game from the online First Steamworks Game Manual in order to understand the rules completely.

 

“In our process we start out and we look at the rules — we want to make sure we understand exactly what the game is, that we are not running under an errant assumption about what’s going on,” said Wile.

 

Next comes the brainstorming and designing phase where the team decides what they want their robot to do in order to maximize their score.

 

“Then we go into game strategy,” said Wile. “We want to know what the best robot’s going to do because we can’t do everything. Then we go into prototyping and try to figure out what kind of mechanism is best in order to complete the tasks.”

 

The team advisor and RAHS physics teacher Robert Steele emphasizes the need to multitask because the team only has six weeks to prepare for the competition season.

 

“We don’t wait until one thing is done to get something else done,” said Steele. “So the programmers who are all working on the things they know they need to control, and then the design group is working on design, and the electrical group is getting ready their electrical components, so we can get that all wired, so everybody works kind of parallel, and then we try to integrate things.”

 

One of their current projects is led by RAHS senior Benton Smith, who is the team lead of the design subgroup.

 

“My subteam is in charge of designing the robot in CAD and then building it in real life,” said Smith. “We have so far designed the majority of the robot and are working on cutting the parts out on our waterjet, then assembling them.”

 

With all of the subteams working together, Steele is confident in the team’s ability to build a successful robot.

 

“They’re right now in kind of a critical time to make things come together and I think we’re in pretty good shape, though we would always like to be further along than we are,” said Steele.

 

The team has also consistently achieved a Chairman Award every year for the past five years and Wile is hopeful that the team will maintain its high reputation and win yet another award this year.

 

“The one I’ve been working on is called the Chairman’s Award and that is given to the team that has the greatest measurable impact on the students [and] on the surrounding community,” said Wile, “and so Skunkworks in the Pacific Northwest is pretty well-known for that award.”

 

Skunkworks outreaches with their Business Outreach Program, hosts community events with lego kits, advocates legislators on FIRST Day, and hosts a Boys and Girls Club robotics competitions known as Smelly to grow their impact on their community.

 

Wile is proud to be a part of the Skunkworks team and to learn from its challenges and the mentors who come in to assist the team.
“It is really an awesome opportunity to learn not only from teachers but to learn from people who do this every day in their lives,” said Wile. “It’s a whole lot of fun and in the Pacific Northwest, of the whole region, there’s hundreds of teams, and Skunkworks is easily in the top three, if not number one.”

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New Girl Scout S’mores cookies to be sold at school

RAHS senior Lauren K. Smith preps her Girl Scout cookie order sheet, updated to include the S'more cookie.
RAHS senior Lauren K. Smith preps her Girl Scout cookie order sheet, updated to include the S’more cookie.

From 20 Feb. to 17 Mar., RAHS Girl Scouts will be selling Girl Scout cookies at schoo, with pre-orders that started on 20 Jan.

 

Girl Scout and junior Brynne Hunt often sells cookies at school and depends on the sales to fund the troop that she is in, Troop 42209.

 

“Selling cookies to the school is important to me because it’s a huge market,” said Hunt. “I sell a lot of cookies and cookies sale gives money to my troop so my troop can do things like service events and donate money to other organizations and work on our service projects.”

Another RAHS Girl Scout, sophomore Heidi Yagen of Troop 40707, also believes that cookie sales are important for her troop.

 

“My troop uses the money from cookies for our annual big summer trip,” said Yagen. “I’ve been a girl scout for nine wonderful years, and in the past four years, we go somewhere. But it’s not like we go camping on a trip planned by the Girl Scout organization. This summer, we went to San Francisco, via train.”

 

Hunt and her troop-members rely on social media and word of mouth to advertise the cookie sales.

 

“We’ve been talking to all our friends, making sure to get the word out there,” said Hunt. “Pretty soon I’m going to start posting on my Instragram probably.”

 

Then, once she pre-orders the cookies, she sells them at RAHS.

 

“I do pre-orders, but the best strategy at RAHS is just to order a lot of extra and to carry them with you and sell those,” said Hunt.

 

Although Hunt has been selling since she was a freshman, she does realize the changes that have occurred this year. For example, there is a price bump from $4 a box to $5 a box in order to help the Girl Scouts make more money.

 

“Before, the money the troops got from the cookies wasn’t really that much,” said Hunt. “So now, the five dollars a box, we’re going to get around 80 cents a box.”

 

Despite this bump in price, RAHS history teacher and thin-mint aficionado Troy Hoehne is still planning on buying the cookies.

 

“I suppose it’s not to be unexpected,” said Hoehne. “I’m sure production costs and that sort of thing has risen. I support the Girl Scouts. In the past I would pay five dollars anyway and just give the extra dollar to the cause. So that doesn’t bother me.”

 

Another big change is the introduction of the S’more cookie in addition to the classics, such as the Thin Mint, Samoa, and Tagalong cookies.

 

“This year, we’re introducing the S’more cookie,” said Hunt. “It’s a graham cracker shortbread cookie with a marshmallow and chocolate filling. Kind of like a sandwich cookie like an oreo.”

 

In addition, Yagen is appreciative of what Girl Scouts has given her, including practical self defense and firearm skills.

 

“Girl Scouts has definitely gave me a better outlook of the world,” said Yagen. “My troop leader is dedicated to preparing us for the future. We have attended two self defense classes before and are rifle marks[men]. I am a third level-rank marksman.

 

Like Yagen, Hunt is appreciative of the skills she has developed as a Girl Scout.

 

“In Girl Scouts, especially for your award projects you have to defend you projects and you have to talk to people in the community about them and here you learn to speak to everyone,” said Hunt.

 

Overall, however, Hunt and Yagen believe that Girl Scouts has had a positive impact on their lives.

 

“Because of Girl Scouts I’m more confident, I’m happier, I know what I want to do, I’ve made friendships forever, and I sell cookies,” said Hunt.

 

Hunt especially appreciates all the memory and time she has spent as a Girl Scout.

 

“Every memory from Girl Scout camp is probably my favorite,” said Hunt. “I love going to Girl Scout camp and being a program lead.”

 

One of the last, remaining goals for Hunt as a Girl Scout is getting the Gold Award.

 

“Right now I’m starting to work on my Gold Award Project which is the highest award you win in Girl Scouts,” said Hunt. “Right now I’m a Silver Award achiever, but now I want to be a Gold Award [achiever] and so I’m going to have that finished up by this summer hopefully.”

 

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Joshi shows the dazzling side of math

Joshi ponders his next step in his Razzle Dazzle lecture on vectors.
Joshi ponders his next step in his Razzle Dazzle lecture on vectors.

Almost every Friday, RAHS math and astronomy teacher Nikhil Joshi hosts Razzle Dazzle: a math lecture open to all students that illustrates the interesting connections between different mathematical concepts.

 

“Really, I think people who are in pre-calculus or definitely in calculus could most benefit out of it,” said Joshi, “but it’s just kind of showing you some cool things that happen in math and how different topics in mathematics are connected like vectors and matrices, [and] polynomials.”

 

Joshi divides the lecture into two parts: first the “Razzle” part that discusses the basic mathematics which in turn supports the big idea in the “Dazzle” part.

 

“The idea is that the ‘Razzle’ is maybe I’ll [go] through some certain math proofs, etc,” said Joshi, “and then I think the “Dazzle” part is we kind of get to a big unveil and you see something that you might have already known, but you didn’t realize was coming, or you’ve seen the connection between two different thing[s].”

 

Joshi’s lectures discusses topics such as vectors, matrices, and even multivariable calculus, before relating the ideas to each other.

 

“I’ve gone over things like vectors and matrices, and then I kind of show how they’re many times describing the same mathematical object,” said Joshi. “We’ve explored some aspects of calculus for example multivariable calculus to kind of see how it’s an extension of single-variable calculus. And then the one of the ways that you do multivariable calculus is by expanding vectors into calculus, so that’s how kind how we can connect vectors into calculus.”

 

Joshi hopes that through Razzle Dazzle, students can be exposed to higher level math concepts before they go into college.

 

“The idea is, in Razzle Dazzle they’ll see some of these things,” said Joshi. “They just have to see it — they don’t have to do homework, they don’t have to do problems or anything, it’s just an exposure to build excitement, to build curiosity, so that when they see it again for real in a proper math class in a formal setting it won’t be the first time.”

 

Current RAHS junior Henry Meyerson appreciates what Joshi undertakes during Razzle Dazzle.

 

“I really appreciate how in Razzle Dazzle, how Joshi takes an interdisciplinary approach to teaching us things,” said Meyerson, “and [he] teaches us concepts that are useful to many of our classes, not just math.”

 

Razzle Dazzle can also give RAHS students useful skills they can take to college. RAHS alum Paula Cieszkiewicz, a senior in the electrical engineering program at the University of Washington, acknowledges the importance of attending Razzle Dazzle as a high school student for her college classes.

 

“The material that I learned in Razzle Dazzle was crucial. In college, I have covered the same material,” said Cieszkiewicz. “I really enjoyed learning stuff that was outside of AP Calculus that still required knowledge of calculus, and it has been highly beneficial to learn that material before entering college, filling in holes where I’m just having a little bit of exposure without getting into too deep.”

 

In fact, Cieszkiewicz found that material that she learned in Razzle Dazzle has helped her in her undergraduate classes.

 

“I think that almost every class that I took for the first two years of my undergrad,” said Cieszkiewicz, “there [was] something that [Joshi] talked about.”

 

Cieszkiewicz believes that the best part of Razzle Dazzle is how it introduces applications of different mathematical concepts.

 

“He [Joshi] would always kind of give his ‘two cents’ on why this was important, what we were going to be using it for a later,” said Cieszkiewicz. “Even just talking about techniques of integration and stuff in his calculus class, he was always very clear about the fact that there were applications on the horizon for us.”

 

For Meyerson, on the other hand, he notes how Razzle Dazzle has made him more interested in mathematics.

 

“Razzle Dazzle has shown me that mathematics is incredibly cool and there’s so much to it that we have yet to learn,” said Meyerson.

 

Cieszkiewicz also enjoyed the relaxed nature of Razzle Dazzle, believing that it was what made it special.

 

“By discussing [the material] outside of the classroom, there [are] no requirements. There’s very low judgment and very low expectations of student performance, [and the students] don’t have the grades that prevent them possibly from learning more,” said Cieszkiewicz. “They don’t have to worry about grades. They can just come in and listen, and because there are no grades, people tend to learn a lot better in an environment like that.”

 

Because of that, whenever Cieszkiewicz returns to RAHS, she always asks Joshi if Razzle Dazzle is still going on.
“When I come and visit, I ask if he still doing it,” said Cieszkiewicz, “because I think that’s honestly one of the more important things that Joshi does outside of his typical class curriculum.”

Tremain Holloway accepts position as RAHS assistant principal

Tremain Holloway, the new assistant principal, hopes to integrate the freshmen class into the school and grow as a leader during his time at RAHS.

 

Because Holloway grew up on the East Coast, he did not learn about RAHS until a friend of his told him about the school.

 

“I heard about the school from a colleague and honestly I didn’t know about Raisbeck until talking with him,” said Holloway. “He kind of got me interested in figuring out what the school is about and of course this school is attractive because [of] the aviation theme, the high expectations, and the high intellectual practices.”

 

Once his interest had been sparked, Holloway applied to become the assistant principal at RAHS, reaching out to Highline School District superintendent Dr. Enfield, and Dr. Grubb from the Human Relations department of the school district.

 

Holloway remembers receiving a phone call from Grubb who encouraged Holloway to apply for the position of assistant principal. Holloway applied and about a week and a half later, he got a phone interview.

 

“Two days later after the phone interview,” said Holloway, “I was offered a job and ever since then things have so smooth and people have been so welcoming, arms open wide for me.”

 

Coming to RAHS was Holloway’s first experience as a school leader, and as such, Holloway felt it was his duty as assistant principal to serve the student body as best he can.

 

“I want to soak in as much information as possible about Raisbeck, about the students, the faculty, and the staff,” said Holloway. “I’m all about servant leadership, and how I can best serve the students, the families, the faculty, and the staff that are here.”

 

Holloway is in charge of keeping the student body at RAHS safe in all emergency situations.

 

“One of the things I’m in charge of is supervision, [such as] making sure that we have the right amount of supervision [in] terms of the emergency procedures we have such as fire drills, earthquake drills, shelters in place, things like that,” said Holloway. “I have to make sure those things are actually in order. And I’m the one that has to organizes those and have the logistics and the materials we need for when we actually have to do those drills in the future.”

 

Another goal Holloway is currently working towards is ensuring that students, especially the freshmen, are getting the help they need to be successful at RAHS.

 

“Another big task that I’m focusing on now is the Freshmen Transition and Success Plan,” said Holloway. “[For] our freshmen here, we want to make sure we’re catering to them and setting them up for success, and so some of the things we are doing is really honing in on highlighting their strengths as well as highlighting what they’re asking for.”

 

Holloway believes that acknowledging a student’s needs is the best way to support the student.

 

Our school district of course is aligned with the motto ‘knowing every student by strength, name, and need.’ So the plan literally helps us identify our students strengths and their needs and how can we best assist and best serve them.”

 

Though Holloway is a school administrator, he feels as though he is still merely a freshman getting to know the school. Furthermore, Holloway hopes remain at the school long enough to see this year’s Freshman Class graduate completely.

 

“That’s [The Freshmen graduating completely is] one of my big, ultimate goals because I feel like I’m a freshman,” said Holloway. “This is my first year, so seeing them get through, seeing them grow through this process will also help me grow through this process as well.”

 

So far, Holloway’s goals and and accomplishments have become noticed by others in the RAHS administration. Teacher on Special Assignment Nuka Nurzhanov, for example, believes he will be extremely beneficial to the school.

 

“Mr. Holloway is a great addition to our school community: highly intelligent, well-educated, genuinely authentic with a sense of trust manifested through his actions, not just words,” said Nurzhanov. “His presence generates a powerful positive emotional confidence that secures a fundamental ground for the energy of nonnegative thinking.”

 

RAHS principal Therese Tipton, who is beginning to get to know Holloway, appreciates Mr. Holloway’s beliefs and goals for the school. She also believes that she and Holloway will both bring the necessary experiences to continue the school’s success.

 

“Because [he’s] younger and I’m older, [it’s] neat working with him because we both bring unique perspectives,” said Tipton, “but we always come together on our thoughts.”

Controversial admissions season wraps up

The use of the lottery system for this year’s new admissions process sparked the expression of worries from students and parents that the lottery will undermine the culture and the quality of the student body at RAHS.

Despite concerns that have been expressed, RAHS Dean of Students Mrs. Nuka Nurzhanov, who helped run this year’s application process, ultimately felt that this season was a success.

“In my opinion, the new admissions process went well,” said Nurzhanov. “I was glad that we were able to meet with each incoming freshman for further information/questions about our academic programs, extracurricular activities, and general school climate.”

Furthermore, Nurzhanov was happy that the school was able to work with the incoming freshmen’s families and to help them learn more about attending RAHS.

“We were able to arrange shadow days for interested students,” said Nurzhanov. “We had offered informational sessions for families. Some parents were able to meet with teachers for additional questions.”

The incoming freshmen were also able to meet with current students at their confirmation interviews. Khoa Tran, a sophomore at RAHS, was one of the students and was able to talk with the incoming freshmen first hand.

“Before and after the interview [the] students were asking me questions about the school and their freshmen year,” said Tran.

Tran observed that despite the fact that the incoming freshmen were already accepted to RAHS, they still wanted to make a good impression during the interviews.

“I was impressed with the incoming freshmen,” said Tran. “They didn’t come in thinking the interviews were pointless. They were nervous to be interviewed like previous year’s freshmen class.”

Though Tran could not interview the incoming freshmen directly, he felt through the moments he meet with the students that they were prepared to succeed at our school.

“Since it is a confirmation interview, students [don’t] get to interview the incoming freshmen, so I didn’t get a full view of them;” said Tran, “however, talking to them showed me that they were prepared and ready for our school’s harsh conditions.”

Nevertheless, Tran understands that stigma that the new freshmen could face as they enter the school through the new lottery system might be problematic. He believes that it is up as the current students to ensure that the students feel accepted and can succeed at RAHS.

“These students might not do as well as others but it is our job to show them how our school works and run,” said Tran. “It isn’t our job to make fun of them for being accepted by a lottery, it is our job to help them out.”

Nurzhanov agreed with Tran that the incoming freshmen will not alter the quality of education at RAHS, despite the belief among some students and parents that this admissions change could affect the school negatively.

“The change in admission process will not affect the quality of our instructional programs and school culture,” said Nurzhanov. “Changes are always hard; however, I believe with our strong confidence in our school model, quality practices, and a huge support from community and the district, the vision, the mission, and the quality of our school will remain the same.”

Nurzhanov also dispelled fear that this class will be somehow different from previous classes, noting that every class is diverse in their own, unique way.

“I would like to remind [people that] when Aviation HS began its journey in 2003, it had all kinds of students: overachievers, geeks, [struggling] kids,” said Nurzhanov. “This diverse student  population helped Aviation HS transform into a very unique STEM school.  Aviation teachers [became] innovative and non-traditional instructors, and school environment [converted] into culture of true learning.”

Nurzhanov believes that these students will be just as successful as any student from previous classes, and that the key to success is not in their previous backgrounds, but in their drive toward the future.

“Every kid has a chance for success and has a right to be successful regardless of his or her educational, cultural, linguistic, or socio-economic backgrounds,” said Nurzhanov. “We do not select students by their academic achievements, but we value student passion for our school vision: aviation and aerospace and we are here to support our students’ dreams in pursuing careers in aviation/aerospace industry.”

Rose Ceremony grants the seniors a chance to say thank you one last time

On 9 June 2016, the senior’s very last day of school, the senior class had the opportunity during the Rose Ceremony to give roses and a small letter to any teacher or student in the school as a parting gift of appreciation, friendship, and gratitude.

RAHS English and history teacher Marcie Wombold started the tradition that is the Rose Ceremony.

“Culture Club originally started the Rose Ceremony because we believed saying, ‘Thank you!’ is a valuable thing, especially at the end of a seniors high school career,” said Wombold. “It is a way to mark the transition out of school, and to express gratitude to the individuals who made a significant difference along the way.”

Wombold no longer runs the Rose Ceremony, but the ceremony has continued on, with RAHS’s American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) club running the Rose Ceremony this year for the seniors.

Lisa Weeks is the advisor for AIAA and helped to plan and prepare for the Rose Ceremony

“When Culture Club disbanded at the end of 2014, Mr. Joshi’s advisory continued the tradition last year,” said Weeks. “The ASB made it available to the clubs this year and the AIAA club asked to do it.”

With thousands of roses given out, it was a long process from ordering the roses to giving them out during the Rose Ceremony.

“Seniors have to buy their roses by mid-May so that we know how many roses we need to order.  The roses are ordered online, and arrive in boxes a day or two before the Rose Ceremony,” said Weeks. “They are dethorned and their stems clipped before they are stored in buckets in a cool place until the assembly. The critical element was to have enough of the AIAA club members available to help with that process.”

At the end this long process, the final event is marked by gratitude and appreciation, as seniors give out their roses and kind words to whoever had touched their life during high school. Though Wombold no longer runs the Rose Ceremony, still received roses from the graduating seniors in gratitude for her work as a teacher.

“I feel incredibly honored and grateful to receive roses from seniors in the Rose Ceremony, both from those who I have been close to over their time here, and from those who I am surprised by,” said Wombold. “We don’t always know the impact we have on students, and it is humbling to learn we made a difference.”

Wombold will use the roses and the notes that come along with them as a reminder of the senior class.
“I will keep the flowers in my classroom until the end of the year for everyone to enjoy, after all it is not just me, but the dynamics of a whole class that can make a difference for a student,” said Wombold. “ And I keep the notes they write with my yearbook. Sometimes I go back and look at these when I need to write letters for students during their time in college. But more often, I simply enjoy them and appreciate the sentiment.”

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Trips of a lifetime await RAHS students this summer

From England to Peru, RAHS students will be traveling to the far corners of the world this summer.

With summer fast approaching, some RAHS students are preparing to spend their summers in far-off locales. These students will soon be heading off to countries such as England, Peru and Thailand in order to study, serve, and discover.

RAHS junior Tanner Korin plans to spend his summer at The University of Oxford, in England.

“I’m traveling to England because I applied for a program called The Oxford Summer Academy,” said Korin. “Essentially it’s a college preparatory summer camp that Oxford holds every year.”

At Oxford, Korin plans on taking courses that will help him prepare for standardized tests and his career beyond college.

“First off, I like England in general, so it’s a nice trip for summer,” said Korin. “Second of all, it’s college-prepatory so everything that you do in the course either prepares you for college [such as] what to expect [during college and] they even have SAT courses there. But it also gives a real nice insight into industry and to how you would expect to learn about different majors in college.”

Though the Korin will have to attend three to four hours of classes, the Academy will also allow Korin to explore England.

“Some days they’ll take us on a coach and take us into London, other days we’re going to Bath, which is another city,” said Korin. “Sometimes it’s as simple as going around Oxford and seeing the different sights, so they like to integrate both the education side and the aspect of going around.”

For Korin, the prospect of studying in England and immersing himself in the atmosphere of Oxford is extremely exciting.

“England is a really cool place in my opinion and especially Oxford has this super long history,” said Korin. “The dorms that I’ll be staying in is actually one of the older buildings that have been in Oxford. So just being able to go around to see all the things to see [is pretty exciting].”

Sophomore Erin Demaree, on the other hand, will be enjoying her summer in South America.

“I’m going to Peru this summer for a service trip,” said Demaree. “I’m going with my National Leadership Council class. We’re going to be doing construction work and English teaching in the Cusco area, and then we’re going to be traveling down to the Sacred Valley and we’re going to tour Machu Picchu.”

Demaree hopes that by going on this service trip, she will be able to interact with and get to know the people of Peru.

“To be honest, I am most excited about teaching English to the little kids in the village and getting to know them,” said Demaree.

Most importantly, Demaree wants the service trip to have a lasting effect on her life.

“I think I’m going to gain a lot of humility and appreciation for what I have in my life,” said Demaree. “I’m also interested in doing humanitarian work like this elsewhere throughout my life, so hopefully, I’ll be gaining a network and positive experiences for this for going forward.”

Senior Geneva Rossman, on the other hand, is planning to visit Southeast Asia over the summer.

“I am excited about so many things!” said Rossman. “I am excited about visiting an elephant sanctuary, living in a village in the trees, and going to midnight markets.”


Like Demaree, Rossman is excited to learn more about the culture of Southeast Asia so that she can gain a deeper respect for the culture.
“If I am going to fully understand the world around me then I need to begin to understand different ways of life,” said Rossman. “I need to learn what it means to be a part of different cultures and how to respect them. I think this trip will give me a better understanding of what it means to fully immerse myself in another culture.”

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