Holidays End and Grief Follows

Sadness increases as the holiday ends.  After waiting for a year, people just want the holidays to last.

The holiday season is something to look forward to every fall and winter.  Presents, food and breaks, ideally the holidays are meant allow students to sit back relax and enjoy their temporary freedom from the stresses of school.  This is not always the case when recitals and homework fill out students schedules even during the holidays.  However, despite all of this students still find time to be with family and mess with all of the fun things they get over the season.

What places do you go (during the holidays) and what is good/ bad about them?

“During the Holiday break my family and I always go to Leavenworth the day after Christmas. We spend two over-nights there which is always really fun,” AHS freshman, Melissa Will said, “I like being able to spend time with my cousins and Aunts and Uncle since I don’t see them very often. I definitely enjoy being around my cousin’s two little kids who are 3 and 2 years old.”

What are your four top favorite music/songs that plays during the holidays?

“My top favorite songs played during the holiday season are ‘Frosty the snowman,’ ‘Where are you Christmas’ by Faith Hill, ‘Believe; by Josh Groban, and Rudolf the Red nose Reindeer,” said Will.  “These are my favorites because I have been listening to them since I was little and they bring back such wonderful memories. Also, I have danced to everyone of these songs which makes them twice as good!”

What are some of the best presents you have ever received?

“New Race Suit, phone, a trip to China, and really anything!” freshman Ronald said.

How do you hang out during the holidays?

“Do Homework, do more homework, do even more homework, open some pretty awesomely wrapped presents, eat food, eat even more food, go to Leavenworth,come back and do more homework. Oh wait I forgot some stuff. Go to Christmas parties, and hang out with friends! Plus eat food” said Will.

Are the holidays a lax period, or are you always rushing?

“The holidays are always busy!” Will explained.  “There is so much to do. Most of my time is spent preparing for my Christmas dance performance.”

Do you spend time with your family and what do you love about doing such?

“I love being with my family on the holidays,” said Kira Walters, an AHS freshman.“Especially when I see people I don’t usually get to see.”

How do you feel coming back from family events?

“I hate it!” said Will.  “It always a little saddening to know that you have to wait a while for another one to come!! I just can’t wait that long!”

How do you feel about Christmas music being played everywhere?

“You’ve never been fully alive until you start singing Christmas songs in the middle of the mall…You get some funny looks for sure, but it’s well worth it,” said Graves.

Do you have a story involving family during the holidays?

“Well since my family and I always go to Leavenworth each year, we always eat at this one restaurant that has an accordion player. The accordion player came over and played some song that was pretty awesome. My cousin’s daughter was 2 at the time loved it and started dancing in her high chair,” said Will.  “She started waving her hands except her middle finger was up while she was doing it. Then one guy came up to my cousin and said ‘excuse me but your daughter is flipping me off.’  Funniest thing ever.”

Is there someone who consistently gives you unusual presents?

“My grandparents always give me the strangest presents,” said Walters. “Golf balls to soap and gag gifts!”

Why do you like spending money on gifts for other people?

“It’s intriguing to see how far I can push the cash in my wallet,” Graves said.  “Then it’s also fun to collaborate with others to get those big gifts as well as finding those knick-knacks that cost nothing.”

What are some things you love about shopping during the holiday season?

“The clothes are cuter!” Ronald explained.  “The mall is decked out, Christmas music playing, and everyone is nice.”

How does spending money on presents/decorations/parties during the holidays affect your life?

“It means we get to bust out the family heirloom: Rock and Roll Snowman! Then we blast out the house speakers listening to Christmas music,” Graves said.  “At about that point, it really feels like Christmas.”

It's all over but the cleaning up, and the refunds, and the exchanges...

Do you have a great or terrible shopping story?

“Do you mean like that time I was caught singing in the restroom and security ended up throwing me in the brig? Nope, nothing like that,” said Graves.

 

Our Very First Play

Surbhi Ghadia recruited cast and crew for her big show

Sophomore Surbhi Ghadia recently brought her leadership project to the stage as a non-profit production of Cat in the Hat during sixth period in the gym on January 13.

“It is basically a parody,” said Ghadia of the Cat in the Hat production, “I kept some original lines in it but mostly, I added in little jokes.”

Although the original story is intended for a younger audience, Surbhi has confidence that it will shine at AHS.

“I think that anyone can watch this play,” said Ghadia, “This is high school and I picked a kid’s type of play and I thought that it may be a little out of the age group but then, of course, no one’s too old for Cat in the Hat.”

The casual performance was offered to anyone who could or wanted to attend during sixth period.

“Basically, whichever teachers want to bring their classes can bring them” said Ghadia on who was invited to the performance.

As AHS doesn’t see very many plays on its stage, the Cat in the Hat was a rare occurrence for AHS students.

“I feel that since we’re a STEM school, there’s not much expression of other talents that people have. Of course everyone here has STEM talents but I know there are also some who like to act,” said Ghadia, “I personally love acting so I thought it would be a really cool way to get people involved who are interested in acting and it hasn’t been done before.”

Volunteers dedicated their time by coming together as a team to work towards a goal they’re passionate about.

“My favorite thing about being in The Cat in the Hat is that I get to be part of an experience that is not always offered to students at AHS,” said sophomore Moshe Henderson who will play the lead role as The Cat in the play, “It gives me a chance to share my talents and passion for the arts.”

“I thought it was a neat idea,” said teacher Troy Hoehne who was the staff advisor for the production, “I like that the students are being creative.”

The cast and and stage crew of volunteers make up the production team and met every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for rehearsals which were led by Surbhi.

“Its fun because my job is really observational,” said Hoehne, “I have watched it from the very beginning. I watched Surbhi from the initial, ‘This is the idea that I have’ and now I can start to see the idea form. Its fun to watch them.”

Although Surbhi has worked hard as the Director, she also has acting talents of her own.

“I do like acting, myself, so what I did was put my own name in the script and I created a character named Surbhi The Director” said Ghadia.

Actors are required to prepare themselves for their role in many ways and the AHS actors are working hard to fulfill their responsibilities.

“To personally prepare for the role of the Cat, I, of course, have to memorize my lines,” said Henderson, “however, I like to take it a step further. As I hope to someday be a professional actor I have to study the character and how he holds himself. I have to pay attention to the ways he might say things, his objectives, his thoughts, and body language. After that, you just have to act, which really isn’t that hard once you’ve done all your homework for that character.”

Just like with any project that requires an audience, it was important to have support from the school.

“I have all of the approvals I need,” said Surbhi, “and I’ve had a lot of teachers ask me about the play who aren’t even involved with it. Its pretty cool how its wrapping around the school because almost all of the teachers know about it.”

After all of the hard work by the volunteers Surbhi, the she is seeing it all come together.

“I’m most excited about, not the actual performance, but the rehearsals,” said Ghadia, “I find that the best thing is building up to the product and I find that the process is the most fun part. So, I expect to have a bunch of good times and laughs with my helpers and actors.”

Along with Surbhi, the volunteers will walk away from this experience with a feeling of accomplishment.

“I became involved in Surbhi’s production because I love to act and want to broaden my experience in the theatre,” said Henderson, “I also know that Surbhi is a great leader and can live up to great expectations, so I trust her to produce something good. Being in a school play also looks good on a resume.”

A Night To Shine

All it takes is talent... And an audience

Perfect your dance moves and polish your instruments, because the Aviation High School Talent show will soon hold auditions for those who want to compete and demonstrate their brimming talent. However, this year’s talent show will be a little different and might surprise a few.

“Were doing something different for the talent show. This year, Culture Club’s focus is specifically on building the AHS community,” said Marcie Wombold, advisor for AHS’s Culture Club, “so we will be inviting each of the clubs that choose to participate to put on a lip sync. They will choose a song and create the choreography. So not only will  there be individual and group performances, but there will be a lip sync contest where we get to see and interact with the clubs. It’ll be hilarious and revealing, and will hopefully bring us together.”

Knowing that this talent show will be a special one gives students a great reason to audition.

“Students should audition if they have something that they’re excited and passionate about and something they will genuinely enjoy presenting,” said Wombold. “They should audition if this is a way that they could challenge themselves, set a goal, and stretch themselves because they haven’t done it before.  Students should try showing something that isn’t normally seen in a talent show, like videos that they made, or gymnastics (I haven’t seen that in awhile). Show us something new.”

Aviation’s Talent Shows hold a record of showing the most support to those who get nervous on stage, so if a student has stage fright it doesn’t matter cause they will always be cheered on.

“The only advice I could offer is to accept you’re scared: ‘I’m nervous it’s scary and I’m going to be okay, I’m going to do the performance and I might make a mistake because I’m nervous, and I’m just going to smile and get through it,’” said Wombold. “This is a very supportive community, we love to see people be willing to put themselves out there and share their talent, and the moment when you’re the most embarrassed, everyone in the audience is totally rooting for you.”

Talent show veteran Surbhi Ghadia encourages others to participate.

“My favorite thing about talent shows is not only getting to show others my special ability and the fun I have while expressing it, but also getting to see all of the other performances. I feel it takes courage to come in front of people and show off what you can do,” said AHS student Surbhi Ghadia, “so I have a great respect for all of the other acts.”

Ghadia loves performing and the joy it brings her is almost indescribable, so if students have a hidden talent they should show everyone and they will hopefully fall in love with performing too.

“Dancing is my biggest passion! I feel that I can express any emotion through dance, and that feeling makes me powerful in my own eyes. Dancing in front of an audience is even better because I have the ability to express to others what I think about my culture,” said Ghadia, “and it gives people a chance to see something new.”

Participating in the Talent Show can also be a great advantage, because a student can walk away with great confidence.

“There’s a sense of confidence that you can gain from having a successful performance. There’s learning about each other as a sense of the community that were apart of,” said Wombold, “and learning your place in that community.”

Leading the World Today

While Martin Luther King Jr. is unarguably remembered as one of the most influential leaders in American history, he’s not the only person to make waves, and today there are plenty of activists like him who deserve the same recognition. This month, the Phoenix Flyer challenges you to educate yourself about the influential forerunners of today’s social and political movements. Here are five people to start with, spend five minutes learning about each, and then go find five more leaders to inspire you.

Get Informed

1. Wael Ghonim

You may see social media like Facebook and Twitter as something that helps you put off homework and talk to friends, or even just a waste of time, but 30 year old Egyptian Wael Ghonim realized it’s potential for social change. He used Facebook to start a revolution in Egypt last January, and was held in detention for twelve days by Egyptian authorities because of it. The demonstrations and riots that followed resulted in then Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak resigning.  Ghonim’s call for peaceful revolution is worth learning about, and learning from.

You can follow Ghonim at http://twitter.com/ghonim, but he only posts in Arabic.

2. Aung San Suu Kyi

This Burmese democracy activist is courageous enough to continue leading after an attack on the motorcade she was traveling with, persistent enough to keep fighting for her cause after spending the better part of a decade under house arrest, and patient enough to remain dedicated to nonviolent resistance.

Read more of her story on the New York Times collection from their archive. http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/a/daw_aung_san_suu_kyi/index.html

3. Geoffrey Canada

You hear about the troubled state of the United State’s public education system, particularly schools in inner city neighborhoods with high crime and high poverty rates.  Instead of accepting the status quo, Geoffrey Canada set out to fix these neighborhoods by fixing the schools within them, one block at a time.  The program he founded to do this, the Harlem Children’s Zone Project, now serves over 8,000 kids, from prekindergarten to high school, and even includes a college success office. His commitment to  education, equality and local communities makes him a leader worth learning more about.

Learn more at hcz.org.

Get Involved

4. Ginger Luke

As hard as animal shelters try to find homes for all the animals, and to care for the ones that need special veterinary attention, oftentimes they can’t. No-kill shelters will keep these pets anyways, but other shelters often put down “unadoptable” animals. Enter Ginger Luke. Luke started her Seattle based death-row dogs rescue program in 2006, and has since found homes for well over 4500 dogs deemed unadoptable by other shelters.

You can help Luke’s efforts to save these dogs by donating time, money, or supplies. Visit http://www.gingerspetrescue.org/index_102waystohelp.asp for a long list of ways to help.

5. Daniel T. Satterberg

While lawyers are often stereotyped as only being concerned with money, King County’s prosecuting attorney is only worried about reducing the number of students he’ll have to cross-examine now, and in the future. Instead of going along with the usual system of pushing truant, potential high school dropouts through the juvenile court system on truancy charges, he developed a network of truancy prevention programs to get truant students back in schools, and out of the court systems. During the 2010-11 school year, 82% of truancy petitions filed with the state were dismissed because the student chose to return to school after going through the program.

If you know someone who could benefit from the program, direct them to http://www.kingcounty.gov/Prosecutor/news/2009/november/truancy.aspx

It’s easy to celebrate someone like Martin Luther King Jr. who have already succeeded, and it’s important to do so. But there are leaders acting right now who are just as important. King wasn’t alone in his fight; when he gave speeches, he was giving them to thousands of supporters. Leaders need followers, so go find a cause you believe in, and then act like you believe in it.

Launching Curiosity

Curiosity's large wheels will help with a soft landing

The newest Mars rover, dubbed “Curiosity,” was launched on November 25th atop a massive Atlas V rocket.

The Mars Science Laboratory mission aims to land this vehicle on the surface of Mars—over 62 million miles away.  The trip is expected to take about 686 Earth days, almost two years.

After landing, the expected lifespan of the rover is another two years.  The heat created from the radioactive decay of plutonium-238 is used to keep it running in the harsh Martian climate.

Getting Curiosity to land safely on Mars is one of the biggest challenges in the program, as it is the largest rover NASA has worked with.  In order to get it to land without breaking, NASA has developed a special system of retro-rockets.

The complicated landing system involves a platform with four hydrazine rockets with the rover hanging underneath.  This will function as more of a “sky crane” than a parachute.

Radar altimeters will indicate to the crane when it is about 65 feet above the ground, and the rover will slowly descend on a system of ropes until it hits the surface.  There, the sky crane will fly away to a safe crash landing site, reports CNET news.

Previous designs have used parachutes and large airbags, which allow the rover to bounce to a safe landing.  However, with this new rocket system, the rover can be dropped more accurately and safely—assuming nothing goes wrong.

Though this system is more complicated, it is simply a necessity for this mission.

“That precision,” reports NASA’s website, “about a five-fold improvement on earlier Mars landings, makes feasible sites that would otherwise be excluded for encompassing nearby unsuitable terrain.”

The only flaw with the Mars Science Laboratory mission is the fact that it will not be able to return soil samples to Earth for analysis.

“At this time,” said AHS mathematics teacher and space enthusiast Dr. Richard Edgerton, “we don’t have any samples from Mars, and we can only make some guesses based on the science we can bundle into a rover.”

A recent Russian mission was launched only about a month before Curiosity. Named Phobos Grunt (translation: Phobos Dirt), the lander was scheduled to go to one of Mars’ moons, Phobos, and return a sample.  However, the launch vehicle suffered a failure and trapped the lander in low earth orbit.

However useful bringing a sample back to Earth would be, the amount that could be learned would be vastly increased if an actual human were to visit Mars.

“It’s a robot,” Edgerton said. “It’s only going to execute its programming.  A true investigation requires people, that’s why we sent a geologist to the moon.”

The future of Mars exploration is likely headed towards human research.  This would provide more opportunities for scientific advances.

“The reason you send a geologist to a place is that person has a perspective on what they’ll find,” Edgerton said. “To really investigate well requires people.  If we truly want to investigate much more deeply, we’ll have to send people to Mars.”

According to NASA’s website the rover can “roll over obstacles up to 65 centimeters (25 inches) high and to travel up to about 200 meters (660 feet) per day on Martian terrain.”

Anyone can track this progress on NASA’s website, where they continually provide updates about the probe’s position.

The launch of this craft shows that the United States is still very much involved with space.  NASA will continue to need engineers and astronauts; jobs that Aviation High School students could one day occupy.

On board the rover there are four mass spectrometers, three cameras, two radiation sensors, and an environmental monitoring system.  These instruments are deployed on the surface of Mars after the rover lands safely, but are packed tightly inside for travel.

This rover is the largest object NASA has sent to Mars, weighing in at almost 2000 pounds and measuring over ten feet long—the same as a small car.  The six wheels are very large and have very high clearance, allowing the rover to overcome obstacles that previous models could not.

Securing Schools One Link at a Time

The season of giving is upon us, and what better way to do it than by participating in the National Honor Society (NHS) fundraiser that will send money to Aviation’s sister school in Uganda? The money that will be raised will be used to help build a security wall around the school, to help prevent children from being abducted and killed for their body parts.

Using the security links students purchase, AHS willl build a symbolic “security wall” around our school along with supporting the construction of the real wall in Uganda. The links will be set around our school representing the solidarity and the strength the AHS community has towards this charitable task.

Helping people is like a chain, its more effective when its the right size.

“The more money we raise as a school, the better chance we’ll have in helping our sister school build a security wall,” said Spanish teacher and NHS advisor Andrew Ward.

The fundraiser has been going on for the past ten days. Over 600 links have been sold, however NHS still needs to sell more links in order to reach their goal of two thousand dollars.

The last time this type of fundraiser was conducted was in 2007, when AHS raised money for students in the Mukono boarding school. In that fundraiser students actually visited the school and met the students who sponsored them.  

The President of NHS Serena Simkus explains, “Well, we did this fundraiser four years ago, but nobody at the school has ever participated in it since. It’s different from many of our other fundraisers in that it is raising money for a charity outside the U.S., whereas Pennies for Patients and other fundraisers we do are more local.”

The fundraiser is a spirit competition. Many people that missed the chance of contributing to the Thanksgiving food drive have been given another opportunity. The number of links that have been bought will be tracked with the advisory of the donator. The yellow links represent the freshmen, black links students see down the hall represent the sophomores, the red links represent the juniors, and the white links represent the seniors.

 “The NHS is going to ‘HANDSOMELY REWARD’ the individual advisory that buys the most links in support of this project,”said Ward, “also, the class that buys the most links will receive spirit points.”  

In order to make this competition a success there needs to be better school involvement.Currently Mr. Hoehne’s advisory is in first with 324 links, Mr. McComb in second with 264, and Mr. Savishinsky in third with 205. Mr. Kumakura’s advisory on the other hand sits in last with just one link and Mr. Joshi with five links. Advisories still have up to one week to donate and compete with the other advisories.

“I want to help my community and my school, which is why I bought the links,” said Freshmen Khoa Ngyuen.  

 “We need help in creating a dynamic, interactive, competitive environment,”  Ward said, “When there is competition, fundraising becomes fun and goals are more easily met.”

Simkus shares much of the same hope for the AHS community.“We plan on making this fundraiser a huge success by getting students involved in helping this cause,” Said Simkus, “we’re hoping the spirit competition and the award for the winning advisory will help spur participation as well.”

The fundraiser is not just limited to students that attend AHS. Families are also encouraged to donate.

Enter the Lego-Bots

The FLL teams robot on the practice field with Kirk Cieszkiewicz and Mr. DeSilva, photo by Max Wienke

The First Lego League (FLL) team, assisted by Skunkworks Robotics students, is working through their build season leading up to their competitions.[a]

The unique robotic challenge for the team this year relates to foods seen in everyday life because this year’s theme is the Food Factor.  So each team will have a project focused on solving a problem the food industry faces, as well as making a robot that can traverse an obstacle course representing different steps types of food go through before reaching the dinner table.

“The food project was excellent this year,” an AHS student mentoring the students, Grace Cieszkiewicz said, “especially given the fact that it helped the kids in FLL to think about solving real world problems at length just as an engineer would.”

Team members are invited to look around to see the sources of everyday foods.  Each member made a journal recording the types of food they consume.  This concerned the Ground, Harvest, Processing, Distribution, Preparation, and the Table for each meal.  They are asked questions like: What type of food is it? How does it get to my table? What are the environments it has been exposed to?  These questions lead the students to work on a study making them more aware of their environment, the processes foods go through, and the effect the food eventually has on their health.

Once they become aware of the food they eat, they are asked to pick an issue currently plaguing the food industries.  In this case the group picked a dangerous strand of E. coli.

“They are looking at the precess that beef undergoes from the farm to the grocery store,” said an Aviation High School (AHS) student Paula Cieszkiewicz, “basically just to understand the possible ways for E. coli to spread.”

Following research into the issue the students work together to form a solution to the problem.  

The project concludes with the team forming a presentation that will be given to a panel of judges at a tournament.  They will be asked to include the food they chose and how it would get to a dinner table, information on the work of a professional in their area of choice, and the research they did and information sources.  The team is also required to make their presentation in 5 or less minutes.

The primary competition is the teams’ construction and programming of their robot.  The team chose to use two drive wheels with a tricycle propulsion system as it proved more effective for making accurate turns.  Several manipulating arms were constructed that can be switched out between the competition stages.  Several levers had to be manipulated to drop contents into a carrying container on the robot, as well as a claw that could pick up and move several items.  After the robot’s construction several of the team members work with their programing system to construct all of the robots actions on the playing field.

Paula Cieszkiewicz explained that the team has been working very hard because they have their competition coming up very soon.  To finish in time the team has split their work into working on two separate robots, this allows their programing team to work twice as fast.  Being broken into two groups they are able to program two of the robots tasks at the same time.

The team was provided with a diagram and list describing everything necessary to create a field of play for their robot to work on.  It includes several items the robot is to pick up, move, and navigate around.

The robot game reflects the Food Factor theme of the year.  There are 15 missions with varying values of points their robot will need to fulfill.  Each mission reenacts a step that a variety of foods go through before they reach the dinner table.

Spamming for Charity

Project for Awesome Logo. Photo by Madeline Warnes

The 2011 Project for Awesome is running on December 17 and 18. Project for Awesome is an event that helps raise money for several charities by earning money from ads on videos from YouTube. This year, it will all start on the 17th of December at 12 p.m. and will continue till the next day.

Millions will spam a few selected videos online, and for every view, and every comment, a few cents are donated to several charities, and with the millions of viewers that are going to participate this year, the amount of money that will be raised will add up to a significant amount. The video makers agree to donate a portion of their ad revenue to selected charities.

The charities that Project for Awesome will be supporting this year are the Make a Wish Foundation, Toys for Tots, Beat Bullying, Save the Children, Water.org, Partners in Health, The Open University, and DonorsChoose.org.

The Make a Wish Foundation grants wishes to children with life threatening medical conditions. Toys for Tots is a program that collects donated new, unused toys and gives them to the needy children during Christmas time. Save the Children is a charity that provides supplies to disaster sites. Water.org is a organization that strives to give everyone a clean cup of drinking water. Finally, Beat Bullying is a UK organization that strives to beat bullying in schools.

To get more people to lend a hand in this year’s event, the creators, Hank Green and Alan Lastufka,  are adding a few more things to make the event more fun. This year, they will be hosting a 4 hour live stream on the 18th which will include special guests that will come and entertain the viewers. They will come and explain to the viewers why they should continue watching. Some of the special guests that will be attending are famous YouTubers.

The videos that are picked to be watched for Project for Awesome are meant to be entertaining to viewers. Their purpose is to keep viewers watching so that more money can be earned for the charities because the longer the viewers watch, more money is earned.

In addition, there will be a raffle that will be hosted by The Harry Potter Alliance, they will be selling raffle tickets and will be raffling lots of prizes to many people. The prizes are donated from various sources connected to The Harry Potter Alliance. Already, they have raised $108,100.83 from selling raffle tickets.

Many students at Aviation High School don’t know what this event is, but the ones who do love participating in it.

It’s not only fun but easy as well,” said AHS senior Andrew Johnson, “you can participate right from your own home and at all hours throughout the duration of the event.”

If students knew more about Project for Awesome, they could realize it would be an easy way of giving to others because this is the time of the year that is about giving back.

I would participate in project for awesome,” said AHS freshman Nicole Do, “ because it sounds like a fun way to help charity and it also doesn’t sound very difficult.”

Johnson encourages every student to partake in the event because it is for a really good cause, it helps people in need, and it can help make someones day.

“What I enjoy about the Project for Awesome,” said Johnson, “is that I can help charities raise money by participating in an event that involves a hobby I love, that being YouTube.”

It really is easy to engage in and that’s why more students should make an effort to participate. Everyone has Internet access whether it’s from their home or at a public library. Also, it only takes a few moments to watch or just comment on a video, so there should be no excuse for not participating on this event.

I think that this is a great way to raise money,” said Do, “because a lot of people would want to participate to make more money for charity.”

Students do not even have to watch the videos many times, even watching it once would help. If students don’t like watching videos, they could comment on the video and that would earn money for the charities also.

I generally watch once or twice,” said Johnson, “but the amount of times I refresh that video and comment on it makes the actual contributions I generate much greater.”

Falling Up

A man skydives insie Courtesy of iFly

Want the thrill of skydiving without the jump? Here’s the chance!

You may have noticed in the past few months driving on I-405 the large red and black building protruding from the Tukwila landscape.  In highly visible, white, inviting letters across the side is “IFLY, Indoor Skydiving,” tempting all to give it a try.

Entering the building, there are large televisions arranged around the lobby, showing the current customer of IFLY in the wind tunnel and a large set of metal stairs leading to a curious second level.

After checking in with the clerks in front, and purchasing any pre-flight paraphernalia such as a DVD or a flash drive with your flight pictures on it, the journey starts.

 When you head up the stairs you cannot help but turn to see what all of the laughing and screaming is about. If you’re lucky, it will be one of the instructors zooming up out of sight, then dropping back down to the metal mesh keeping him from the fan below, invoking screams from the crowd.

After a little bit you are called into a briefing room and taught the hand signals: bend legs, straighten legs, chin up, and, most importantly, relax. You suit up, and take your position on the bench inside of a large airlock used to keep the noise down.

When everyone is inside, they turn the fan up to about 100 mph and all of the noises around you disappear; the only thing left is the person next to you shouting and the droning of the fan. One at a time, you cross your arms and jump into the small circular room the fan feeds into.

At first, you get a feeling of dread. You think, “What have I just done?” as you fall face first, towards the sharp metal wire that doesn’t look nearly strong enough to hold you. Then you stop—in the middle of the air. 

The next few seconds that go by defy your natural need to stay in control of yourself. The wind exploding through your hair seems inaudible behind the feeling of pure glee creeping up your chest, and time seems to slow down.

You try to move, but you don’t know how. The only thing keeping you aloft is the instructor next to you, flashing encouraging hand signals that require all too much of your attention to follow through with.

When you are deemed worthy by the wind  that is allowing you to defy gravity, you start to spin, slowly at first, then faster and faster, until the world around you is a blur and the only thing that you can concentrate on is your upside down and backwards idea of reality.

Suddenly your instructor grabs you by the large straps on the back of your suit, signals for you to relax, and pulls you down to meet the camera that has been watching you all the time.

The man behind the camera, who controls the fan, starts flashing “hold still” on a small monitor below the camera. The last thing on your mind at this point is holding still, but your lack of understanding rips that choice far away from you.

As fast as you were brought here, you are set free again. The power to the fan increases, and you are rapidly lifted high above the head of your instructor. He stands there patiently waiting for you to either fall out of the sky or float gracefully back down, depending on your aptitude.

Before you know it, your first minute is done, and you are starting to regain your senses. The air going by you tingles your fingertips and gravity asks you faintly to come back down, but perhaps too faintly, for the sound of your body screams for you to keep going—faster, further, to push your limits, making gravity seem like a non-existent force.

All too soon, your time is up, and as the red and blue lights flash to show that the end is near. Your instructor thrusts you towards the door, reality pulling you back to your feet, and you stumble back to your seat, impatient for your next chance to fall up.

The IFly is located at 349 Tukwila Parkway, Tukwila, 98188, and costs $60 for beginner flights.

Head Into the Cloud

Illustration by Madeline Warnes

On July 6, 2011, Amazon released its Cloud Player, one of many new “cloud computing” products, in which data and products are accessed from a distant physical location over the Internet, changing the way students find their entertainment and get their work done.

Perhaps the most familiar form of cloud computing is an online email interface.  Take Gmail, for instance.  A user does not physically have an email-specific program on their computer, but rather, one accesses the interface on Google’s servers off in California.  The email content appears on the computer, but that’s not where it came from.

Cloud computing is commonly associated with utilitarian applications.  Businesses use cloud products to synchronize their calendars; students use them for creating and sharing documents.  However, there is a whole other side to cloud computing that is geared towards entertainment.

Amazon’s Cloud Player is just one example.  It works on a union of the two cloud varieties used by iDisk and Gmail.  It stores the user’s music files online in a remote data facility, but it also has an online application interface that makes it easy to get quick access to those files without having to download and import them.  Songs stream, which means they are downloaded while they play, and are not saved or stored on the local computer. Furthermore, no new software has to be installed on the host device.  The interface is all web-based.

AHS sophomore humanities teacher Jacob Savishinsky uses a similar product, Google Music, to access his music collection wherever he goes.

“It’s a cloud-based music storage and streaming service,” said Savishinsky, “but it’s free. I’m kind of an insane music collector, so I can’t keep all of my music there… but I really like how easy it is to use. You can add new music from anywhere, access your music from anywhere, and share it with friends easily.”

Online social networks, like Facebook, are merely about providing an interface, not storing media.  Nor is Facebook a direct intercomputer link.  It is, however, a great way for students to connect, both for fun and for work.  Andrew Hoppe, a junior, created a way for AHS students to help one another over the Internet.

“The Junior Study Group is an idea I came up with while I was in New York,” said Hoppe.  “The way that it works is that it’s kind of a collective academic forum…. You go on, and, say, you’re in U.S. History, and you need to know about Manifest Destiny.  Maybe you were sick that day.  You type in a question and… somebody will be able to answer your question and respond.  It’s kind of a student support group.”

“I’ve never been one to use Facebook for recreational purposes,” continues Hoppe, “but that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy using it for those means.  I still have a lot of friends in New York, so I am frequently on [Facebook], chatting with them.

Google Plus, a new cloud service released early in 2010, is another interface-based cloud service, used by Ryan, an AHS computer expert. Google Plus has some elements of social networking, but also caters to a more tech-savvy crowd.

“Google Plus is a way any user can express, share, and design Internet aspects that they normally couldn’t before,” said Ryan, “by adding a new medium of creativity that incorporates the power of HTML5 and PHP in one simple site.”

There are thousands more cloud services, covering a broad range of entertainment applications, including video, social apps, photography, music, creativity, and even streaming games.  Most are free; one of clouds’ major benefits is the inherent inexpensiveness.  Only servers and storage are needed, and instead of payments, most businesses get their funds from the advertisements they sell.  

However, students should be cautioned about the general use of cloud products at school.  For one thing, many services are blocked by the school’s automatic content moderator.  YouTube, Facebook, Pandora Internet radio, the list goes on—all blocked.  However, smart-phones do not go through the school’s Internet connection, so it is possible to accessed blocked sites at school over a cell connection.  Most cloud sites automatically redirect to special versions when accessed on mobile devices, including all those listed above.

The other potential danger of using cloud products may be privacy.  All data accessed by students has the potential to be monitored by AHS.  Every learner here agreed by signature in the AHS Technology Contract that they voluntarily abandon their privacy on school computers.

“The District reserves the right to monitor any users use of the system,” states the Contract, “at any time and for any purpose. Users have no reasonable expectation of privacy in their use of the system.”

Students should exercise caution about what is displayed on their computers.  According to AHS policy, students are responsible for any illegal materials they access.  Most of AHS’s stated illegal materials can be found on cloud sites.

“If warranted, some behavior WILL be referred to law enforcement agencies for investigation,” says the Contract.  “Such actions include use of the computers for harassment or intimidation, plagiarism, violation of privacy rights, [and] violation of copyright laws.”

Rocking Seattle this December

A few of the events happening in Seattle this winter

Concerts and art shows are popular events to attend in the Seattle area around the holidays. Places such as the Paramount Theater, and Key Arena are holding concerts, and putting on plays. There are various types of events for all ages that you can fill up your winter break schedule with, such as concerts, ballet performances, and tree cutting.

The Key arena will be a popular place for concerts this holiday season. Guns N’ Roses will be performing on Friday, December 16th. The Deck the Hall Ball, hosted by the radio station 107.7 THE END, will be happening on December 7th. Big name bands like Mumford And Sons, Death Cab for Cutie, and Foster the People will be making appearances at this event. So far, this has been a Seattle specific event, mostly due to the fact that 107.7 is a Seattle based radio station, that and the station do not have the funds to go international. 

“I want to go because it’s going to be amazing,” said AHS senior Gavin Doiron, who is interested in attending Deck the Hall ball, “All of my favorite bands will playing there. It’s hopefully going to be great because there will be so much to do there.”

The Paramount Theater is also going to be hosting some concerts this December. Tori Amos, a pianist and songwriter, will be coming to the theater on Wednesday, December 14th. Joe Bonamassa, a blues singer, will be coming to the theater on Thursday, December 15th. Tony Bennett is another singer who will be coming to the theater on the 17th. Finally, on the 26th, Woody Allen, an actor and director who also happens to have a band called Woody Allen and his New Orleans Jazz Band, will be performing at the Paramount this December. Tickets for these events are selling fast.

The WaMu (Washington Mutual) will be featuring Selena Gomez on December 18th.

Don’t worry, there are some easy listening concerts that are happening in Seattle. Duke Ellington will be stopping in Seattle on his Sacred Music Tour, a tour based around both swing and big band jazz, at Town Hall Seattle on the 26th.

If music isn’t your cup of cocoa, there are some more seasonal happenings you can see with friends and family this holiday season.

A popular Seattle event that is going on this holiday season is the ballet The Nutcracker. It will be performed by the Pacific Northwest ballet troupe, in McCaw Hall in downtown Seattle. The ballet will be performed from November 26th to December 26th. Tickets are ranging from 20 dollars to over 120. Dress formally for this event, its a holiday tradition.

“I heard its really interesting and very decorative,” Says Rashil Kohli, an AHS senior that wants to attend the ballet this year, “I just want to see for my eyes what it is about, because I have never been before, and it seems really interesting.”

Winterfest, a popular event that features a multitude of holiday traditions will be occurring at the Seattle Center this Holiday season until January first. There will be tons of things to do. Activities such as a winter train ride for kids and parents, an indoor Ice skating for those who are interested, an ice sculpting competition, and a multitude of local Seattle bands that will be performing live. This should be on every ones list of things to do with the family this winter break.

The Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium will be featuring an animal themed light show called Zoo-lights this year. This event is a walk around the zoo as lights depict comedic and holiday themed scenes around the zoo. It takes place at five to nine at night and has already started letting people walk the zoo, and will continue though the new year. Tickets are currently 15 dollars, so take your family on a tour of the light show.

For those that want to get their Christmas trees the old fashioned way, the state of Washington is issuing permits to cut down trees from the national forest of Mount Baker or Snoqualmie. At this point, with a regular permit, you can only cut down a tree that is 12 feet or less. For trees that are taller than 12 feet, a special permit will be needed. These special permits cost more money. For those worried that this will get out of hand, this is a Seattle tradition that is well regulated. Tree cutting will not end up leaving the national forest bare. Right now it is 10 dollars for a mt. Baker tree.

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