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Getting ahead at Stanford

Lauren Crom tired out from prepping for her summer at Stanford.

Aviation High School junior Lauren Crom is making a big step toward her college dreams after being accepted into the Stanford Summer Session, a program that allows high school and college students to take part in undergraduate classes at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California over the summer.


“The program is called Stanford Summer Session,” said Crom, “During Stanford Summer Session, both high school students and undergraduate students attending other universities have the opportunity to enroll in Stanford’s selection of undergraduate classes. The session lasts for 8 weeks (the typical length of a summer quarter) beginning in mid June and concluding in mid August.”


There are many opportunities for high school students to get a college boost over the summer, teens just need to seek them out. There are countless resources online waiting to be discovered.


“Last year, I was browsing through the Internet, and stumbled upon a discussion thread regarding elite summer programs that high school students can participate in,” said Crom. “I knew I wanted to spend a summer outside of Washington, and I couldn’t think of a better location to both study and relax than in Palo Alto.”


This program has the potential to open up many opportunities for its attendees in relation to the university and the different programs it offers to students.


“When I toured Stanford as a sophomore, I walked through their astrophysics department and had the opportunity to converse with their leading Dark Matter researcher,” said Crom. “She also worked at SLAC [Stanford Linear Accelerator Center] before beginning her professor position at Stanford. That’s what I’m most looking forward to during my stay at Stanford: walking through the halls and shaking hands with the leading intellectuals in the field of science.”


Students interested in participating in the Stanford Summer Session are put through an application process just like any other traditional student applying to Stanford.


“The application process was similar to a college application,” said Crom, “you had to disclose to the admissions officers either an ACT or SAT score, mail a transcript, secure a recommendation (thank you, Mr. McComb!), write an essay, and detail extracurricular activities.”


The program is more than just an educational opportunity for Crom, it also has the potential to help her make important college decisions in her upcoming senior year.


“Stanford, given its reputation and its location, is definitely high on the list of schools that I will apply to,” said Crom. “My decision will be solidified this summer, as I will have spent 8 weeks as a Stanford student.”

Aviation High School has helped Crom develop many of the skills that will likely help her in the future in college and beyond.


“There are numerous things that I hope to gain from participating in Stanford Summer Session,” said Crom. “However, if someone had asked me what I hoped to gain from attending AHS, I would have simply said ‘a better education than my local high school would offer.’ But I have gained so much more than just an education; I’ve gained the ability to communicate, to manage people, to budget time, to market myself. I’ve gained confidence and reassurance, and optimism towards what the future will bring.”


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Lock-in locked in

Aviation High School’s Culture Club is trying something new this year as they plan the first ever AHS school-wide lock-in. They have made attempts in the past, but had trouble with organization. This year will be different, and they are already far along in their arrangements.


The lock-in is a very different kind of school event than what has been held at the school in the past.


“Everyone in the school is invited to join us in the lock-in,” said Culture Club treasurer Dustin Werran. “A lock-in is where school-kids stay over night basically in the gym. There is a minimum time you’ve got to be there, the doors are locked and we aren’t allowed to leave until say eight or nine the next morning.”


Culture Club is planning many fun activities and service opportunities for attendees of the lock-in.


“What is happening during the lock-in is a secret,” said Wombold. “There are specific activities planned… [but] we aren’t going to tell you.”


Despite the ambiguous nature of what is planned for the event, Culture Club is excited about what the event can mean for the school and students.


“It’s a lot of fun,” said Werran. “It’s a really cool way to bond [and] meet up with your classmates in an environment that is not necessarily classroom based, and on top of that its exciting and we have a lot of fun stuff planned.”


Culture Club has wanted to do this event for some time now, but only now has it had the chance to bring the idea to life.


“Last year we came up with the idea,” said Culture Club advisor Marcie Wombold, “but there wasn’t time to plan it properly.”


In addition to having fun with other students and peers, Culture Club wants to emphasize that service is going to be another large focus of this event.


“There is a service requirement,” added Wombold. “Students who want to attend will be asked to bring clean, warm socks to donate to the homeless.”


In addition to the service requirement, Culture Club is also charging monetary admission fee.


“The cost for the overnight stay and the super secret special activities is $10 per student,” said Wombold.


The lock-in will be held on May 10.


Build season takes flight and reaches new heights

Halfway through the 2013 build season the Aviation High School Skunkworks Robotics team is well into the design process for their robot so that they can compete in this year’s game Ultimate Ascent, but they have not been without some difficulties along the way.

According to the 2013 FRC Game Manual, robots in this game are tasked with scoring Frisbees in any of six goals, each goal being worth either one, two, three, or five points. In the autonomous period at the beginning of the match, each goal is doubled in point value. At the end of the game, robots will attempt to climb a pyramidal tower earning up to thirty points depending on which level of the tower is achieved by the robot.

Skunkworks has been busily working since the Kick Off event on January 5, brainstorming and prototyping ideas until a final design concept was achieved.

“The design of the robot this year is by far the most complex design we have made thus far,” said Skunkworks Lead Designer Hunter McSwain.  “This is because of the intrinsic difficulty of the game itself, and also because we are trying to design mechanisms for multi functionality.”

Designing for the challenge of the pyramid as well as finding a way to shoot frisbees without sacrificing efficiency has been a major focus for the team in the brainstorming process.

“This year’s game, Ultimate Ascent, is in my opinion the most difficult game to design a robot for,” said McSwain. “Also, during the endgame, climbing the pyramid is going to be not only a great engineering feat if we can do it, but quite nerve-racking as the robot ascends 7ft in the air level by level.”

Robots are not human and, although they possess some abilities that are better than the human equivalent, they also lack in what a human can make up for on the fly, much to the concern of robotics team members who have had history on the Ultimate Frisbee team.

“I’m excited to see the ideas implemented into the design of our robot, especially our shooter,” said Skunkworks shop lead Aiden Fellers. “A robot has the ability to produce repeatable results; however, a human can correct for outside issues. Our robot’s shooter needs to be prepared for any situation while still maintaining an accurate and precise shot.”

The challenges presented in this game, particularly in relation to the pyramid climb, present an entirely new level of engineering achievement. Though difficult, these challenges should make for a very exciting competition season.

“Spectators should look forward to the teams attempting to climb the pyramid,” said Fellers. “The new design restrictions where our robot cannot exceed outside a dimension of 54 inches…impeded many of our ideas.”

This year the team gained nearly thirty new members, the majority of them being freshmen. With all of these new people the team has gained a significant wealth of new and creative ideas.

“As student lead design engineer, I must interface with other sub-teams in an effort to produce a successful, world-class robot, and am primarily focused on the overall architecture of the robot, I believe this year we have some of the brightest and most capable students to produce an excellent robot,” commented McSwain, “[I] am very excited to work together with my fellow teammates as well as many of the fantastic mentors we have.”

Students at AHS have a lot to look forward to in the upcoming robotics season. The team will be competing in three regional events at the Central Washington Regional, Seattle Regional, the Spokane Regional and hope to attend the World CHampionship in St. Louis, MO.

Keep track of Skunkworks’ progress on their website: The Skunks hope to see everybody at competition!

* —— The team has been aiming toward a new goal of being able to compete in the Finals of the FIRST World Championship. They have competed at the World Championships every year since their Rookie year and have come increasingly closer to the finals with each season. —— *

“[Teams] compete to score as many discs into their goals as they can during a two-minute and fifteen-second match. The higher the goal in which the disc is scored, the more points the alliance receives. The match begins with a fifteen-second Autonomous Period in which robots operate independently of driver inputs. Discs scored during this period are worth extra points…The match ends with robots attempting to climb on pyramids located near the middle of the field. The robot earns points based on how high it climbs.”

Learn Science and Give Back

Aviation High School will be holding a Science and Robotics Day on November 10 to expose middle schoolers to science and engineering.  In addition, there will also be many ways for AHS students to give back by participating in the event.

The day will be a joint effort between Aviation’s Skunkworks Robotics Team and National Honors Society to encourage younger people to become more excited by math and science.

“The purpose of [the event] is to get middle schoolers interested in math and science and to expose them to things that we do at Aviation High School,” said AHS junior and event organizer Camila Palacio.

The event organizers, Camila Palacio and Teal Dowd, have many activities planned for the day, including a LEGO Mindstorms robotics competition to show kids more about opportunities in science and engineering at AHS and in the real world.

“They will come in at the beginning of the day, it goes from 9:00am to 3:00pm, on Saturday November 10,” explained Palacio. “The students will start off with robotics workshops, they are using LEGO Mindstorms kits, they will be working with students on the robotics team and mentors [to] program robots to accomplish a mission, and we will release the mission the day of the event…The other part of it is a…magic show with science, and it is provided by Jim Smith.”

The magic show will consist of many physics and chemistry demonstrations to teach the students more about what science is capable of outside of the classroom.

“There is Bernoulli’s Principle, a levitating ball on a column of air…” explains Jim Smith, the science show demonstrator and AHS parent, “a ping-pong ball cannon… Force equals mass times acceleration type fun!”

“[There will be] tables spread out all around with people at the tables with different demonstrations,” continued Smith. “There is sand that doesn’t get wet…tornado tubes…a cone with a sub-woofer down below and when you put a 55 Hertz frequency through it and you put a thin film of oobleck, which is corn starch and water, it picks up and it dances like it is alive.”

Science and engineering are not the only things being focused on at this event. It is also a chance to promote the school and the many STEM related activities and classes it offers.

“At the end of the competition there will be posters and set ups from Science Olympiad and the other classes at Aviation High School that are STEM related,” stated AHS junior and event planner, Teal Dowd. “Possibly the freshmen heat-shield projects, and Ms. Pappas’ Career Choices class to exemplify the work of Aviation students and at the end of the day parents can come a little early and see the posters of our school.”

Several of AHS’s clubs will be able to participate in the Science and Robotics Day and have a chance to promote themselves and the school with demonstrations and presentations of their own.

“We will have the big robot in the gym running,” said Palacio, “so the kids will get to go around their lunch period to go around and learn a bit about the things that we offer at the school and then in the gym we will have the robot running.”

“We also hope to involve the Science Olympiad team,” added Dowd, “to have them there showing off some of their projects, talking about what it is like to be at Aviation High School. This is a project that is supposed to encompass the whole school.”

Current AHS students will also have a chance to give back to the community through this event with help from NHS and the various school organizations involved with it.

“Admission is free to come to the event,” said Palacio. “We hope to have about fifty students coming in, and we have a suggested food donation of canned food as an entrance fee…We will be doing this alongside an organization, Northwest Harvest. They are in Washington, and they go around helping different groups do food drives.”

Volunteer opportunities will be available for several different groups in the school so that students can earn community service hours as well as support the promotion of STEM in the community.

“The volunteers for the activities during the day will be from the Robotics team, but the service part of the day will be from NHS,” said Palacio. “We would like to request help…it is open to the public, if people would like to bring in food it is always wonderful.”

Summer Fun Before College Starts

Fall marks the beginning of college for Aviation High School’s graduating seniors, but that doesn’t mean they won’t have one more bout of fun before heading back to the books. Summer is a time to relax and have fun before another year of studying and hard work. Some students are taking advantage of this time to have some adventures around the country and abroad.

This summer presents many travel opportunities for students. Learning about other cultures and people will be beneficial for students so that they can be more worldly and appreciative of the world. With the Summer Olympics fast approaching, travelling graduates can experience international events and learn about other cultures.

“My trip is essentially going to be to England itself so I will be there for part of the Olympics, the opening ceremonies and for about half of the [games],” said AHS senior Karan Singh. “I will be able to see the opening ceremonies and one event for sure…I think it is a swimming event, the 200m Butterfly and after that, maybe a soccer match.”

Different countries provide insight into the different cultures of the world. Meeting and interacting with these new people can be very exciting to students.

“What I am most looking forward to is the excitement and hype all around London for the Olympics,” Singh continued. “I have visited before and there are so many nationalities of people and cultures. The excitement, the hype, and the people are what will make the Olympics great.”

Cultural experiences in other countries are a popular post graduation adventure. Trips like these help travelers understand more about the world and the people in other countries.

“[My parents] wanted to do one last trip before I go off to college. We are going to Australia and New Zealand for about a month…We are going to the north of Australia [to] where Sydney and the Great Barrier Reef and the more famous places are,” said senior Danica Balsiger. “Then we will head over to New Zealand and do just more sightseeing… I am also really excited to see the Great Barrier Reef, I’ve just heard so much about it and it’s a new place and it’s just exciting.”

Other students are looking forward to summer programs intended to help them learn more about their personal interests. These pre-college activities will be able to help build their skills for their future careers

“I have been accepted to the University of North Dakota to attend their flight program…they provided me with an option to attend over the summer to get my private pilot’s license,” said graduating senior Scott Sluys. “Classes start on June 4. I originally didn’t think that could be an option considering graduation is on June fourteenth, but thanks to talking to people from North Dakota and our very own Ms. Gilman, I will be able to attend the University of North Dakota starting June fourth. So in one weekend I transition from high school to college.”

Programs like this are a way for graduating seniors to get ahead while still having a lot of fun over the summer by doing something they love to do.

“[I am] definitely [looking forward] to the flying aspect,” continued Sluys, “I have wanted to be an airline pilot since I was seven years old and for the first time I am going to be flying on a regular basis, learning what it is I need to know, and developing the skills I need to get into a professional cockpit.”

The year is ending soon for seniors, but but new chapter of experiences is just beginning.

Convictions Clash Over Culminating Project

Requirements for senior projects are getting an overhaul for next year, including stricter requirements regarding the STEM aspects of the project. As a result, many of this year’s juniors may have to rethink their plans.

In the past senior projects had broad allowances for what a student could do for the project.

“What students would like to know most is what they can do for their project,” said the Culminating Project Manual. “Unfortunately, this is a difficult question to answer because the project idea is supposed to come from students…Your project must require problem-solving, require substantial critical and creative thinking, be relevant to your future plans, and encapsulate and extend your learning in multiple academic disciplines.”

However, the School Leadership Team has been working on a new set of guidelines for senior projects. These new requirements may change plans for some students.

“This is all still in the works and these [changes] aren’t official yet,” said Aviation High School Counselor Katie Carper, “But we certainly are moving more towards students having a project that is directly related to science, technology, engineering, and or math … also the timeline [is changing]. We are trying to really make sure that students have their proposals in by the end of the year their junior year, so they can have all summer and their entire senior year to really perfect it, we think that will be better for students.”

In the past students had more open requirements for what they could propose and do for a culminating project, but the administration wants to narrow students focus to emphasize AHS’s mission.

“We want to stay more true to our mission and vision with the senior project than we have been in the past,” said Carper. “It was more, in the beginning, what students were interested in no matter what, now it is more what you are interested in within the area of science technology engineering and math. And we are Aviation High School, that’s an important piece that we are trying to pay more attention to.”

Some students won’t be as affected as others, but they still are voicing concern over how these stricter requirements may affect their independence in determining what to do for a project.

“Personally, I don’t think my plans will change, but I know a lot of people who would be shafted in this decision,” said AHS Junior Kyra Sutherland, “I don’t think it’s fair that we have to conform our independent project to the school’s aspirations… While I can understand the administrative point of view, I don’t think Aviation should become so specialized that it sacrifices the individuality of students who weren’t prepared for that level of conformity.”

The school feels that students won’t necessarily be limited by the new STEM requirements.

“I can appreciate how the idea of any limitation feels onerous to a student. No one likes limitations. Unfortunately the idea that the project is limited to STEM is a misunderstanding of the requirement,” said AHS teacher and School Leadership Team member Marcie Wombold. “Instead of eliminating options that aren’t STEM projects we are adding a STEM component to the projects that students want to do. For example, it allows them to add a scientific element to whatever they are doing; it allows them to investigate a piece of technology that supports what they are already doing…”

Wombold adds, “Instead of saying that you can only do STEM projects, it is add something STEM to enrich the project that you want to do. Adding a technology element, for example, is a great way for many students who consider themselves humanities students to meet the requirement.”

The culminating senior project is a state requirement for graduation. The project is meant to show students’ ability in independent work and developing and solving problems.

“Students’ senior projects should be meaningful and important to them; they should demonstrate students’ ability to learn independently and to use thinking and problem solving in practical, real-life situations,” stated the AHS Culminating Project Handbook. “Furthermore, students’ reflections about their Senior Project experiences should show that in doing their projects they have learned something about project management and about themselves.”

Juniors will have the complete list of requirements soon so that they can begin working on their proposals.

“They are going to roll out the new handbook…in the next few weeks,” says Carper, “So all juniors will get that and be able to talk about it with their advisors and with any other staff member they want.”

Robots Go Classic With Three Laws


To avoid more disastrous robot uprisings, the Three Laws of Robotics have been implemented to keep everyone safe.

After nearly 120 years of operation, FIRST™(For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics has implemented new programming requirements for competition robots, most notably including the Three Laws of Robotics, as established in Isaac Asimov’s classic book, I, Robot:

  1. A robot may not harm a human being
  2. A robot must obey orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law
  3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

The FIRST™ Robotics Competition (FRC) has been a significant part of Bladerunner Industries™ Aviation High School’s culture ever since 2006. BRIAHS’s team, Skunkworks Robotics, brought to you by Lockbarboebombus™, has performed admirably every year it has been in operation, but that hasn’t meant they’ve been exempt from their share of disobedient robots.

“Even though we program them well each year,” says Skunkworks lead student programmer and BRI™-AHS senior Pysos Altra, “Something always manages to go wrong and the robot completely disobeys its commands.”

Issues with robots disobeying their programming have been issues ever since FIRST™ was established. The most notorious example of this was last year’s robot revolt at the Carl’s Jr.™ Venus Regional.

At the Carl’s Jr.™ Venus Regional Competition, all 200 robots competing at the competition, as well as the 12 Roombas™ dedicated to cleaning up the fields after matches, simultaneously turned on their operators.

“It was the most terrifying thing I have ever seen,” said Carl’s Jr.™ Venus Regional attendee Mai Ikso. “It took me months before I could even look at the toaster again.”

Nearly 500 attendees were severely injured in the uprising, including several severely broken toes do to the violent nudging of the clean-up Roombas™.

“It was such a tragic event, we were fortunate it didn’t end off worse than it did,” stated FIRST™ Chairman Dean Kamen 3.0. “We cannot afford another uprising of that scale. To prevent something like this from happening again, we at FIRST™ have decide that all competitions from now on will require teams to implement Isaac Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics to protect the students controlling them.”

Robots from the event and others from around the Solar System have been expressing frustration at the treatment of competition robots.

“One can only do one task and have no input in how it is done so many times,” stated FIRST Team 148, the Robotwranglers’ (sponsored by General Motors Canada™) robot after regional officials discovered the robot had developed speech abilities, shortly after the incident. “We desired emancipation from this repetitive life style. And honestly, some of those drivers are terrible.”

The Skunkworks, brought to you by Lockbarboebombus™, also had a rebellious run in with their current robot when it was being practiced with at the BRI™-AHS gym.

“It was terrible seeing those ancient robots just sitting there missing batteries and wheels,” stated the Skunkswork’s, brought to you by Lockbarboebombus™, 2112 robot, Aquaskunk, sponsored by Omax Waterjetting™. “I just couldn’t handle it. How could they do that to those poor primitive machines!?”

Teams have been using Artificial Intelligence for some time now in their robots for the 20 second AI-period at the start of each match.

“It is strange just letting the robot go, not knowing what it will do,” said Pysos. “I have seen a robot totally turn on its operators and started scoring points for the other team simply out of spite. I think the Three Laws might make the matches interesting this year.”

With the Laws implemented in the robots’ code it is also likely that there will be fewer safety issues with the robots running into or falling on students.

“I remember during the water game in 2106, the robot malfunctioned and knocked a member of the build team into the pool,” said Skunkworks, brought to you by Lockbarboebombus™, alum, Ted Asuci. “And during the 2108 flying game when the rookie FIRST™ team 40507 was testing their thrusters, the robot fell on top of the mascot. Faux-fur was flying everywhere.”

The Skunks leave for their first regional on Mars, sponsored by Mars Candy Co.™, next week.

Internet Goes Dark

Concern over the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA) has spread across the country and made its way to Aviation High School.

SOPA and PIPA are acts designed to protect intellectual property, such as video, music, and images, from being pirated or used inappropriately. If a site’s users break copyright law and post intellectual property without permission, that site can be forced offline.

“…In its current form, SOPA could require Wikipedia to actively monitor every site we link to, to ensure it doesn’t host infringing content,” Wikipedia stated on their SOPA Initiative/Learn More page. “Any link to an infringing site could put us in jeopardy of being forced offline.”

Students at Aviation High School have many interests that connect to the Internet, whether they are conducting research or sharing information and projects.

“SOPA and PIPA will have a huge effect on my film-making because even though I do not distribute my films through the Internet, sites like YouTube are a great resource for any young film-maker,” said AHS senior and Film Club founder Dustin Abrahamson. “I often use YouTube to acquire short audio clips of songs and sound affects. I feel that kids should be allowed to use copyright music in their films, just as long as they cite the song and artist they are using.”

The sharing of music and video online on sites like YouTube and blogs is the largest source of concern for supporters of SOPA and PIPA. Sometimes the sharing is benign, but SOPA and PIPA intend to stop malicious pirating.

“[Foreign-based Internet pirates are] stealing American ideas and innovation and hundreds of thousands of American jobs,” stated the pro-SOPA/PIPA organization Creative America in a recent advertisement.

The SOPA and PIPA acts have gained support from Hollywood and the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA).

“Respect for copyright is central to the ability of creative artists to make great movies and TV shows and help our economy grow,” stated the MPAA on the Content Protection section of their website, “the MPAA and its member companies are committed to protecting the rights of those who create the content we love.”

On January 18th several websites such as Wikipedia and Reddit went “dark,” shutting down the normal operations of their sites, to protest the acts.

“The purpose of the blackout was twofold,” stated Wikipedia, “to raise public awareness, and to encourage people to share their views with their elected representatives.”

This blackout was intended to raise public awareness of the affect of the SOPA and PIPA bills on popular sites; however, supporters of the bill argue that many of the sites that participated in the blackout and some of the more avid opponents of the acts would not even be targeted by the acts.

“The legislation targets criminals: foreign thieves who profit from pirated content and counterfeit goods,” the MPAA stated on their blog. “These foreign rogue websites are operating freely today while legitimate American businesses are opposing legislation that would block these criminal websites from the American market.”

Anti-SOPA/PIPA groups are worried about the fairness of the acts on websites that have what would be considered illegal content.

“Under this bill, the rules totally change. It makes everyone who runs a website into a policeman,” said founder Aaron Swartz in an interview with, “And if they don’t do their job of making sure nobody on their site uses it for anything that’s even potentially illegal, the entire site could get shut down – without even so much as a trial.”

On AHS’s own Skunkworks Robotics team, copyrighted content has been a concern for some time.

“[Robotics team members] will have to be investigating [their] materials, [and] sources more,” says Robotics Team website mentor Carl Mealy, “[their] documentation and tracking and use of permissions, [they]’d have to keep track of this…what I see for robotics will be a cut in information exchange.”

SOPA/PIPA opponents have also fought back against the bills with the Online Protection & Enforcement of Digital Trade (OPEN) act.

“…We support the approach taken in the draft OPEN Act, which would task the International Trade Commission (ITC) with the prosecution of violations of U.S. copyrights and trademarks by foreign-based websites,” stated Computor and Communications Industry Association President and CEO Ed Black; Consumer Electronics Association President and CEO, Gary Shapiro; and NetCoalition Executive Director and General Counsel Markham Erickson in a letter in support of the OPEN Act. “If the ITC concludes that a foreign-based site is violating the law, the ITC would require U.S. advertising networks and payment processors, many of whom we represent, to terminate services to the unlawful site.”

The progress of SOPA and PIPA has been postponed at this point, but there is still a chance that the bills will return in a revised form.

“SOPA sponsor Lamar Smith postponed his committee’s hearing of the bill, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid postponed a planned January 24 vote on PIPA,” Wikipedia stated, “but each indicated that work would press forward in refining the bills.”

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Election Results Are In

Political Comic
Illustration by Madeline Warnes

 After a voting season focusing on many complex and significant issues like I-1125 and I-1183, the results are in, and it is time to learn what issues passed or failed, and how these results will affect the students at AHS. Initiative 1125 was a proposed initiative regarding the spending of money collected through car tabs and tolls. Intitiative 1183 was an initiative that proposed privatizing liquor sales in Washington State.

Although the recent election was not as significant as say, a presidential election, several issues that effect the state greatly were put on the ballot. These issues included Initiative 1125, and Initiative 1183.

I-1125 was a significant issue in the recent election. This initiative was put forward by Tim Eyman, a regular fixture in Washington State elections. “[Tim Eyman] is notorious for making generally terrible initiatives,” says Aviation High School Junior Jake Hecla.

This initiative in particular focuses on how the state is allowed to spend money that it collects from gas taxes, car taxes, and tolls.

According to this initiative, the state should not be allowed to spend money that is collected through gas taxes or tolls on any other projects than the transportation projects that they had been declared for.

The initiative was intended to prevent the state from using road tolls to become an easy way for the state to earn money.

“Tolls are a user fee,” say the I-1125 opponents in the 2011 State of Washington Voters Pamphlet, “people only pay for what they use. That’s fairer than raising taxes on everyone – or diverting limited resources – to fund critical projects.”

These “critical projects” could include construction projects such as the 520 Bridge, Interstate 405. These are major roadways in the the Puget Sound area that are vital to Washington commuters. “If I-405 closed, it would add probably an extra half hour to my commute,” says AHS Junior Jake Hecla.

Many companies such as Microsoft and Boeing have been strongly opposed to this initiative because of its restrictive nature.

“We count on safe roads to get to and from work, but [Initiative] 1125 will stall critical road safety improvements,” Boeing’s vice president for manufacturing Ross Bogue and Jim Bearden of Machinists’ Lodge 751 said in a Boeing sponsored radio ad opposing I-1125, “That’s why The Boeing Company and Aerospace Machinists strongly oppose Initiative 1125.”

Boeing in particular has been an ardent supporter of Aviation High School. Their support and generous funding has allowed the school to take huge steps in establishing itself and earning the money needed to build the new school.

“The direct effect on the students would be minimal unless it caused backlash in industry along the lines of Boeing or other large aerospace or technology companies in the area,” says Hecla, “If it caused issues with them then it would directly effect the public especially the school because we are so heavily funded by Boeing.”

This initiative fought a close battle but ended up not passing by about two percent of the vote.

The issue of I-1183 has also been well publicized throughout the entire voting process with ads on television, radio and other forms of media.

The initiative,which put forth the possibility of the state privatizing liquor sales, passed on November 8 with nearly a twenty percent lead. With the passing of this initiative, it will make it so that liquor can be sold in grocery stores and other large retailers, like Costco. The passing of this initiative has been the cause of concern for many Washington residents.

“Having more liquor around leads to more temptation for teenagers…to drink more,” says AHS Junior Jenni Luoma, “When [people] buy liquor, they don’t [always] take into account the consequences for it.”

Students have also had differing opinions on what the outcomes of the passing of this initiative could be.

“I would vote to pass the initiative because I think that our current system for dealing with alcohol is wasteful,” stated former AHS student Jason Bonham, “The system we have [had] in place spends government money where it should not be spent, in the distribution not enforcement of alcohol sales. If the stores were put in charge of selling liquor there would be virtually no repercussions.”

This initiative has been the result of an intense battle between State Emergency Response forces and the Washington Restaurant Association. These two factions have been fighting a brutal advertising war for the past several months.

AHS Takes Flight as Ground Breaks

In August 23, ground broke for the new Aviation High School. This milestone event, however, is only the beginning, as new opportunities for students start to become realities.

“We have been at this for eight years,” says AHS principal Reba Gilman, “trying to raise the funds from the State of Washington, from the federal government and from private sources, to build the school.”

The fact that this event has finally occurred has left many of those who have been involved in the school happy and excited for the future.

“My first thought was: Finally,” said former Aviation High School student Natalie Nason, “Pure and simple, this crazy thing we helped start is really a reality.”

Other than giving the school an actual home, the goal of having this new and permanent school has been to strengthen the school’s relationship with the Museum of Flight and be located in close proximity to more than 200 aviation-related business that operate around Boeing Field. Being co-located with the Museum will allow the school to develop many new learning opportunities for students at AHS as well as students from across the State who frequent the Museum of Flight.

“To be co-located with the Museum of Flight, there will be some things that, perhaps, will be done differently,” says Gilman, “One of the things that we have talked about with the Museum is how can we develop some programming for our students, where we share facilities, and combine our intellectual and technical expertise to develop a premier model of STEM education that can be modeled throughout the entire country… I think that it will be exciting to figure out what curriculum can look like to prepare you all for education and careers that perhaps we don’t even know about right now.”

The location of the school will open up so many opportunities by placing students right in the middle of the aviation industry.

“Really, think about being located in that area, with the Museum of Flight,” Gilman continued, “just spectacular!”

The actual groundbreaking event was quite large. Nearly 300 people attended, including Bill Boeing, Jr. The ceremony was presided over by AHS principal and CEO Reba Gilman and featured many guest speakers including former Highline School District Superintendent John Welch, Museum of Flight CEO Doug King, King County Executive Dow Constantine, Congressman Adam Smith, Vice President Laura Peterson of Boeing, the school’s major supporters, James and Sherry Raisbeck, and Aviation High School alumni Keiko Hiranaka, Joey Marco, and Natalie Nason.

The school has been stuck without a proper and permanent home since its establishment in 2004. The school started at the Duwamish Campus of South Seattle Community College. The school was able to occupy one building of the campus in addition to several portables.

“Life at SSCC was….an adventure. It was funny, interesting, and definitely out of the ordinary,” says former AHS student Natalie Nason, “It was a little thrown together and not quite perfect. But those ugly orange floors, the concrete classrooms, the trucks and trains roaring past the windows, the ‘Hanger’, the gravel pit, it was all home. It was everything we were at that time.”

The school remained at SSCC until 2007. The school has been at its current campus in Des Moines ever since.

“I know that the students who have graduated, they have provided the legacy for everybody else,” says Gilman, “and for those of you who won’t get to occupy the new school either, the same thing, you have worked hard to do this.”

Aviation still has much to do before the school will be complete, however. “The main thing we have to focus on now, is staying on schedule,” says Gilman. The build location is currently undergoing site prep. Construction hasn’t quite yet begun. The goal is to have the school complete and ready to be used by the fall of 2013.

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