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RAHS gets a makeover

Junior Gracie Murray shows off her fashionable, in-dress code outfit for a warm weather day.
Photo By: Semay Alazar

Every year, minor edits are made to the RAHS dress code. But on 16 May 2018, the RAHS administration implemented big changes to the student handbook, including an AP Testing section and a Spirit Day section. In addition to all of these changes, the 2018-19 dress code will be entirely gender neutral.
Junior Nico Wilson became a member of the committee that helped form the new dress code because he felt it was important to share his insights, rather than being silently frustrated.
“I want to have a say in what kids get to wear,” said Wilson, “because no one else was going to take initiative. [I] was thinking ‘why not just take this easy opportunity to have a say in next years’ dress code?’ because I think we all care about it.”
While some may find the changes unnecessary, they were made for the sake of clarity and consistency.
“A lot of the changes this year in terms of wording were to make it simple, and to make it easy to follow so that there wasn’t so much verbiage and grey areas,” said Wilson. “We wanted to make it more clear so that people weren’t wasting time arguing with teachers about what they can and cannot wear.”
One of those grey areas that the dress code hasn’t really specified before is AP testing days. Without strict guidelines for these days, many students have taken the liberty to dress in casual or comfy clothing. The updated dress code provides directions for testing days in order for students to clearly know what is allowed.
“Students must comply with casual Friday dress standards: No leggings, No sweats, No pajama bottoms, No shorts,” according to the latest edition of the Student Handbook.
Even though he has yet to take an AP test, Freshman Noah Dooley will have to abide by these new standards when he does take them.
“I firmly believe that the dress code should be way looser for all major testing days,” said Dooley. “If the students are going to be going through miserable testing then they should at least be able to be comfortable when doing it. The students are going to be sitting still in an uncomfortable chair for a long period of time.”
While certain dress standards have been enforced by teachers during spirit weeks in prior years, this is the first version of the student handbook to include a specific spirit day section. It prohibits leggings, shorts, pajamas, and any other clothing that disrupts the learning environment.
Even though the intent was to make the expectations for attire more clear, Dooley feels as though the Spirit Day section subtracts from the purpose of the spirited event, and may have added a new grey area to the code.
“I think that the restrictions put in place are taking away from the fun of spirit week,” said Dooley. “I feel like the part that says ‘no clothing that otherwise disrupts the students learning environment,’ is going to be enforced however administration wants. It isn’t really defined so they can pick and choose what isn’t good for a students learning environment.”
In hopes to make the new dress code less biased against any gender, the new dress code is not gendered at all, and students are happy about it. Although, Dooley feels as though there are still some inconsistencies.
“In concept, I think that the idea is awesome. It will make the dress code be more fairly enforced for everybody,” said Dooley. “However, no guy is gonna wear a skirt to school. If skirts are allowed then shorts should also be allowed with the exact same restrictions.”
Despite any issues he still has with the dress code, Dooley feels that overall it is an improvement from prior years.
“I think that the dress code is going to be abided by a bit more. The part where it says that you can wear any solid color non-graphic t-shirt underneath an open button-up seems like its gonna be the new go-to thing to wear,” said Dooley. “Little things like this that are more relaxed make it easier for students, making it more likely that they will abide by the dress code.”

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New bill implements more graduation requirements onto RAHS students

On 21 Mar. 2018, a new bill supporting civic education was signed into law in Washington State. The bill will require this year’s freshmen to take a standalone civics class as a requirement for graduation in hopes to increase young people’s knowledge of government.

Because RAHS is a smaller school than some others in the district, it can be difficult to add new classes. Counselor Katie Carper will play a large part in incorporating the new mandatory Civics class into the master schedule. Even if some classes have to be sacrificed to meet the requirement, RAHS will be able to continue to provide most of the specialized classes that make the school unique.

“We don’t know yet [how it will affect the schedule] except that any time we have to add a new class, we have to look really hard at the other social studies classes we teach and see which ones are required and which are not,” said Carper. “The social studies requirements in Washington State have always been pretty confusing, so we’ll need to take a look at that. I don’t know specifically how, but it will definitely affect the master schedule.”

Washington State Board of Education representative Linda Drake expressed that although the new requirements may be difficult for some schools, civics often gets lost or minimized in a US history class and it is essential for youth to learn about these topics.

“I understand that the state often asks schools to do very difficult things,” said Drake, “but I doubt if anyone would really argue whether civics is an important content area for students to learn.”

Even though updates were made in the 2018 version of the bill, a prior version from 2009 demonstrates the state’s perspective on the issue.

“Preparation for citizenship is as important as preparation for college and a career, and should take its place as a requirement for receiving a high school diploma,” according to HB 2132, Chapter 223, State of Washington Laws of 2009.

Drake ensures that specialized schools like RAHS will be able to continue supporting their missions not only in spite of, but because of new requirements like these.

“I know that there are some schools like [RAHS] that are doing some really exciting and innovative things and the intent of these things is not to interfere with that,” said Drake. “I know that it is a challenge but I would encourage schools to look at flexibilities within the system to be able to work with the curriculum that [they] stand behind.”

Looking at flexibility is exactly what RAHS has to do when it comes the other unfunded mandates such as the new increased art requirement; the class of 2021 will need a second art credit in order to graduate.

“We are adding at least 60 more seats of art [for students] per year so between that and the fact that our students can do some outside school options, I am hopeful that that will be sufficient,” said Carper. “Students are going to need to choose art classes over other classes if they need two credits of art.”

Even though students might have to make difficult choices, the school is lucky to have the resources that they do to provide opportunities that they do.

“We always have students who can’t get a class they want or need. We can’t just say ‘hey there’s this need, lets hire a teacher.’ We have to think about our budget and ask for money,” said Carper. “But I count my blessings that we’re here and that so many of us have been here a long enough time that we’re able to be creative.”

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Wind Team hopes to blow away the competition

The RAHS Wind Team’s turbine awaits its upcoming trials at the Collegiate Wind Competition in Chicago.
Photo by: Zak Sleeth

Wind team is upping the ante by taking their turbine to Chicago to prepare for collegiate-level competitions. While they won’t technically be competing, the team will travel to the Collegiate Wind Competition on 7 May through the 10th in order to test their turbine for a consistent power output under the same conditions as the college teams, and to present their progress to the Department of Energy.

Although the higher level competition will be much more challenging, Junior Tom Connolly feels the team will benefit from the surplus of high-quality materials to test their turbines.

“I am really interested to see how the turbine will perform in a real wind tunnel because we haven’t really had the opportunity to test it,” said Connolly. “It would be nice to compare ourselves to the college teams to see how much we have achieved.”

Junior Cooper LeComp, a founding member of the team, is enthusiastic to see how their turbine will compare to the college level teams. They have been working diligently to prepare for the competition.

“We are constantly working on making upgrades to the turbine to improve power output and optimize controlling systems,” said LeComp. “The tolerances are very high for the turbine, so getting everything to function properly is hard work.”

To help handle all that hard work, their team is divided into collaborative groups, each to handle different components of the project. Even though they are separated, they are all working hard together to learn about the different technical skills required to work on the turbine.

“Typically these collegiate teams are done by groups of students at colleges in degree fields applicable to the turbine (Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, etc.),” said LeComp.  “Since we are not in those programs yet, we have had to build up understanding on the properties applicable to the turbine including electrical circuits, mechanical design, manufacturing techniques, etc.”

Connolly feels he has benefited greatly from the work the team has done. Their bold attempt to catch up to the college teams’ knowledge on the task pushes them to work more efficiently.

“I‘ve learned a lot about how to use different pieces of software,” said Connolly. “I‘ve learned how to design complex mechanical systems and I‘ve also been able to interact with mentors a lot more than I would otherwise.”

Because they have these supportive mentors, students are able to tackle topics they have little to no prior experience with; sophomore Jon Wick was up for the challenge.

“I have learned so much about electronics,” added Wick, “I had never done anything like that before, but they needed someone to do it so I said I‘d do it.”

The team was formed after student success in the Kid Wind Competition. Connolly agreed that this was the natural next move.

“I really enjoyed the Kid Wind competition, and a lot of our teams were successful at the competition,” said Connolly. “We decided that we wanted to move beyond Kid Wind and this seemed like the next step.”

Exposure to new fields of study is very valuable to a student’s academic career. Sophomore Jeremy Boyle thinks that this team has shown him a new angle to approach a field he was already interested in.

“I‘m interested in aerospace engineering and a lot of the stuff that I’m doing with the blades; involving the fluid technetics and the forces are similar,” said Boyle, “which makes it a good fit.”

Due to the timing of the trip and its close proximity to AP testing, on the 7th, the team will not be gone for long. However, their time there should be very revealing about the status of the team, and the payoff of all their hard work.

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