Losing Education Funding

State budget cuts are hurting school funds, by Sophektra Danh

State budget cuts caused by the United States’ failing economy are now in turn affecting Washington state, and even AHS could feel the impact when education cuts are on the table. When the next Legislature convenes, education budget cuts will be made and every public school will be affected in some way or another.

“No public school will be exempt from cuts, Aviation High School included,” said Aviation High School’s Principle and CEO Ms. Reba Gilman. “Every school and school district in the State will take a proportionate reduction in funding. We could lose grant funds for operation of our robotics program, and I expect to see fewer grant opportunities overall because there won’t be a revenue source for them.”

This loss of money in scholarships and grants would cause schools, especially Aviation High School, to lose the funds that they so desperately need in this bad economy.

“When scholarships are not available then I am afraid that we will only be educating the people who are wealthy and can afford it and not people with less,” said English, History and Economics  teacher Dr. Mike Katims.

With less money for Aviation and other schools, that means less money to do everything that has to do with education including technology and bus service, two important parts of a modern school.

“Technology is important,” said Katims, “if you don’t replace computers every three or four years they get to be really old, slow and outdated and then you aren’t really teaching the modern curriculum.”

This can lead to students getting a bad education which can affect the state, nation and maybe even the world. But at this point in time it makes teacher’s jobs harder than they should be. They worry about how the budget cuts will affect their teaching.

“Is that going to hurt me doing my job with kids?” wonders Katims.

It also affects students and their future and the future of the kids coming after them. Students believe that instead of cutting the education budget they should cut other things.

“I think that education always gets wrongly placed at the bottom of the priority list,” said Kyra Sutherland, a Junior at Aviation High School. “Children are the future of the world, and America won’t continue to succeed in the world if they don’t pay more attention to improving the education system. Personally, I think that America puts way too high of an emphasis on national defense, and some of that money should go to improving education instead.”

But Washington State Governor disagrees with the thought of cutting other things besides education, she believes that everything should be cut in someway.

“You can’t get to $2 billion in cuts out of $8.7 billion without putting education on the table,” Gregoire told a gathering of about a thousand school board members and superintendents and the Seattle Times.

Another budget cut that the Washington government is doing already, and wants to continue to do, is to get rid of bus transportation services to schools. This would mean that parents would have to drive their kids to school, make carpools, and in some circumstances use public transportation, like Metro. The state eventually plans to cut out all bus routes, but the government  would continue to provide transportation to children with disabilities. This would save the government $220 million dollars, but at the cost of many kids not being able to get to school on a regular basis.

“I do worry a lot about cutting transportation,” said Katims, “because I think that will mean that many, many kids will get less schooling than they would have otherwise get.”

Parents would have to pay for daycare for younger kids, and older kids would have to take the public bus which can be very dangerous for kids to use  in some circumstances. Fewer kids would come to school because their parents would not be able to drive them, and there would be fewer kids getting education. Essentially the school would not be doing their job, causing a low school performance overall.

K-4 class sizes could increase to 26 or 27 students. Currently, class size in the earliest grades is about 23 students, depending on the school and the district.” State Superintendent Randy Dorn told the Seattle TImes.  “Larger classes would save the state $216 million, but would have a profound effect on student achievement.”

Low school performance can also come from another budget cut, teachers.  The government is considering trimming the staff of schools and expanding class size.

“As a classroom teacher, the worst budget cuts for me are the ones that end up putting more kids in my room,” said Katims. “I’ve got more in fifth period in American Character then I have ever had in American Character and because it is a personalized course, I just don’t think that I am doing as much for each student as I would like to.”

All of these things are being cut to make up the debt that the Washington State government has. No matter what happens there will be cuts in education, but right now the cuts are just ideas.

“At this point, all of the ‘proposed’ cuts for education are just that—proposed,” said Gilman.  “Until the legislature convenes after Thanksgiving to consider the Governor’s proposed reductions and begin negotiating the State budget, we don’t know how deep the cuts will be.”

But until then Aviation High School, and the rest of the school districts in Washington State, will just have to wait.

“It is just too early to predict right now as things tend to change rapidly once the legislature gets to work,” said Gilman.

Craft your Christmas

Even the most awkward hands can make the most thoughtful holiday gifts, Photo by Max Wienke

Wipe away your shopping fear and make your gifts by hand this year – without the dreaded worry of shopping day fury.

A gift by hand, what is it all about? A gift by hand is fantastic, no doubt.

“I think it’s better to make gifts because it’s more meaingful,” said AHS Freshmen Sahara Slate, “when I used to do it for my mom, she liked it better than buying gifts because I took time and did it for her.”

Deciding whether to buy a gift or make it yourself, is a decision that can be made using the stuff on your shelf.

“When I was growing up, I took a bunch of art classes and I really liked watercolor painting and sketching,” said AHS Senior Peter Keckemet, “so I’d always make cards for my parents that I drew and a lot of times, I’d buy them a gift, but I think my favorite handmade gift is a card because often times, a card says a lot more than a present.”

Making quality gifts by hand does not have to be tricky, all you need is a little imagination and something kind of sticky.

“I’ve made fleece blankets by cutting the ends and tying them together,” said AHS freshmen Gabby Rivera, “And I make earrings by getting charms and using tweezers to connect it to the earring hook.”

Resources could be very easy to find, just look around your house and open your mind.

“That’s the other good part about making a card,” said Keckemet, “Various cards for people are five bucks from Bartell’s, but if you have sketching stuff or drawing utensils then it makes card making a lot less expensive.”

Gift ideas can be out of the box, but be sure to make a gift that rocks.

“When I was younger, I use to make gifts for my mom for mother’s day,” said Slate, “I would always make cards with pop-outs and stuff that I’d learned from art class. I would take bath salts from our bathroom and  put them in a jar with a little note.”

At the same time, if you want the homemade care of a hand crafted present, you can cheat the system and skip the time unpleasant.

“If you’re going to buy someone a gift, you can go to a farmer’s market or craft fair and buy someone else’s hand made products,” said Keckemet, “For my mom’s birthday, I just got her one of the bracelets that my friend’s mom makes. With her, part of the money goes toward her school so that’s also a good way to keep the money in your community.”

Homemade gifts can bring a community together, with the holiday spirit no matter the weather.

“Sometimes my family bakes cookies together,” said Keckemet, “That’s my mom, sister, little brother, and sometimes me and we give those out to our neighbors or family friends.”

Often, the feeling in return for giving by hand, cannot be replaced by any certain brand.

“I feel happy when they like it because I know that they appreciated my work,” said Slate, “and I feel happy because I’m giving stuff to people.”

Meanwhile, it’s no secret that the money you save, will lure you out of your shopping cave.

“Well, it’s kind of terrible to say, but I feel like I save a lot of money,” said Keckemet on making a gift by hand, “I think as long as it’s a real gift, something you actually put time into, you feel a lot better about it because you really did something for them instead of just buying them something.”

To some, the difference is clear, but to others they’re on a new frontier. It’s important to know when to buy and important to know when to supply.  

“If someone specifically asks for something,” said Keckemet, “it’s better to buy them a gift instead of trying to make a replacement.”

The beauty of a relationship so close can lead to a gift with the most.

“For my best friend’s gifts, I do a small joke gift,” said Keckemet, “For my mom and sister, I like to get them jewelry, clothes, or stuff they would enjoy.”

To make a gift for a fancy someone, be sure its appropriate and not overdone.

“When I was in middle school, I made a whole bunch of homemade pasta as a thank you gift for my teachers. That’s another good gift, food,” said Keckemet, “The kind of food you make depends on the situation. If you make a cake for a favorite teacher that would be a cool gift.”

The More CAP the Merrier

Max Wienke during a Color Guard ceremony in Kirkland. Photo courtesy Max Wienke

The Civil Air Patrol Cadet Program, which helps introduce teens to military discipline as well as develop them into strong leaders and moral citizens, is gaining popularity with teens nationwide, especially students at Aviation High School.

Two years ago, in September of 2009, AHS junior (then a freshman) Max Wienke, decided to look into joining Civil Air Patrol. His squadron of choice, Overlake Composite Squadron, is based at the Lake Washington School District Resource Center in Redmond, Washington.  After looking into the matter and attending a few meetings as an observer, he decided to join. In 2009 there were around twenty-five cadets in the squadron.

Since then, Wienke has been promoted seven times. There are now fifty-eight cadets that are members of the Overlake Composite Squadron.  That number is more than double the number of cadets that were members when he joined.

Even now, two years later, he is still enthusiastic about participating in CAP.

“I really like the military structure of it,” Wienke said. “I really like having the opportunity to train new cadets and try to bring them up to my level. 

He is currently the commander of Tango Flight, the group of new cadets who have not yet been promoted. Three cadets have promoted since Wienke took over a month and a half ago.

Although he is a high grade, Wienke enjoys many things about the Civil Air Patrol program that even the lowest rank cadet could.

One activity that is open to a cadet of any rank, and one that Wienke participates in, is Color Guard. This consists of four people in a ceremony of placing the state and national flag. Wienke participated in both the Veteran’s day and opening of school assembly ceremonies.

“There is really nothing about the program that I don’t like,” commented Wienke. “It is a really great program.”

CAP also has excellent benefits for the average teenager.

“It is really a great opportunity; it opens a lot of doors,” said Wienke. “Colleges really love it; it has great leadership potential and you can learn a ton of stuff. Great First Aid classes. You can get into more jobs with it. Also, it is a great way to give back to your community and a good way to fill your community service hours for high school.”

CAP also helps fund teens to get flight time on route to a pilot’s licence.

“The greatest experience I’ve had in CAP was my first solo flight,” explained Wienke. “Just last summer at the end of July, I went to Desert Eagle VIII, which is CAP’s Flight Academy. I had about seven hours of flying time with my instructor before I went solo. It wasn’t all exciting when I was taxing out to the runway, it hadn’t quite set in yet. Right after I took off is when it sank in. I was a great feeling to have finally accomplished that. I hope that was not my last solo flight. I’m looking into pursuing more flight training really soon and eventually getting my Private Pilot’s License.”

Daisuke Fukagawa, an AHS freshman, is also involved in CAP. He is currently an Airman Basic and enrolled in the Seattle Composite squadron. The squadron is based out of  the King County International Airport terminal at Boeing Field in Seattle.

I like that it gives you the opportunity to experience new things and explore new roads,” Fukagawa said.

Even though Fukagawa is only an entry-level cadet, he still had many of the same things to say about the benefits of CAP as Wiekne did, even though the difference in rank is so great.

CAP is, without a doubt, a large commitment. Even though most squadrons only meet once or twice a week, there are many other activities that cadets have to do to achieve higher and higher rank.

“It takes a long time to memorize things like the cadet oath,” said Fukagawa. “The encampments and stuff also take up lots of time.”

Some of the other “things” Fukagawa mentioned are activities such as community events in which cadets help out with crowd control and cleaning up, and encampments in which cadets go away from home overnight to a selected location and spend a week training with CAP.

Reflecting Your Skills

2010 Reflections contest winner. Photo by Robert L.

Over the years AHS students have participated in Reflections, a contest where students use their artistic abilities to create a display matching the year’s given theme. Though the entry deadline is already over this year, the thoughts for next years competition, including the release of the theme, are already underway. This event is sponsored by the National PTA, and is a student only competition.

The Reflections competition is something any student can participate in. Students don’t have to be a great writers or an amazing painters to submit an entry. This contest is a chance for students to show off the skills they have in a variety of forms. Students can submit videos, write music, draw or paint, write poems or stories, take photos, or even perform a dance.

This year the students participating in the Reflections contest were faced with the challenge of creating a project that fit the theme of “Diversity means…” In the past students have had to fit many themes, including “Beauty is…” in 2010 and “Together We Can…” in 2011.

The students currently participating are Nina Dubinsky with a painting called Boots, and Gabrielle Rivera with a sketch called Face of the Earth. Each participant submitted a statement alongside their art.

“When I think of diversity I think of being part of a changing place,” said Rivera in her statement “Our world is quickly changing and growing at an unimaginable rate.”

Students that participate in Reflections will have to go through several judging levels, the first of which is the district level. Once students pass that, they move on to state, then national judging levels. It’s a fun competition where a students art may be shown off to a large array of people, and there is a potential to win a list of prizes if an entry reaches the national level.

This year’s Highline Council Reflections Awards night, where the district will announce the students moving on to state, starts at 6:30pm on January 23rd, 2012.

In the past few years AHS has had several students move on to state. Last year Danica Balsiger, Nicole Mays, and Nina Dubinsky not only entered the reflections contest, but they managed to move past district and on to state.

“I’ve been in Reflections ever since I was in elementary school,” said AHS senior Danica Balsiger, “I heard the themes, and I liked them, and I really wanted to write about them.”

Balsiger wrote a story about two young boys, struggling as they’re forced to be alone, until finally they have family and friends come to their aid. This is a heart wrenching story for the theme of “Together we can” based on the lives of friends of Balsiger.

Balsiger was participating in Reflections because the themes were interesting, and this contest allowed her to do something she loved. She didn’t expect her entry to reach state though.

“I was really proud when I found out,” said Balsiger. “That made me really excited.”

Balsiger also said that she thinks other students should participate in the reflections program.

“It’s a really great thing,” said Balsiger, “A lot of people don’t know about it and they really should promote it more at this school. A lot of kids are artistic here and they want to express themselves, and it’s a great way to do that.”

The top winners from each artistic category will get to go to a PTA convention, be given a cash prize, and will receive a gold plated medal. As well, they will receive signed congratulatory letters and recognition online in the PTA reflections gallery. As well, their local PTA will receive a cash prize.

After the top winners you will have awards of excellence, merit, and honorable mentions. These will receive less prizes, such as the award of excellence, which won’t get to go to the convention. Still, students will know that they did well, and that someone enjoyed their work, even if they did choose another over them.

Along with the benefits of participating in the reflections contest students can, for a small bonus, go to ptareflections.org and submit, for a cash prize, themes ideas for the 2013-2014 school year. On here they will have instructions and a list of themes from past years, so there are no repeats.

Next year the theme will be “The Magic of a Moment,” so start planning what to do for next year. You never know when your entry will be picked as number one, and all those prizes, and the honor of being on top, will be yours.

Grant Promotes Aerospace Job Training

Senator Maria Cantwell and Air Washington members unveil new job training grant, courtesy of South Seattle Community College

Air Washington is a group of community and technical colleges whose aim is to help in aerospace job training programs. The consortium itself consists of fourteen colleges, two aerospace companies, and an apprenticeship firm. One of the consortium’s primary goals is to find and provide aerospace job training to underrepresented groups, particularly women, veterans, the disabled, and ethnic minorities.

News of the grant is seen positively throughout Washington State.

I think it is good news,” said aerospace worker-in-training at Renton Technical College, Anton Wise, “especially since I heard Senator Murray’s speech about aerospace jobs.”

Air Washington’s goal is to train new workers for the aerospace industry to replace the current group of workers that are expected to retire in the next couple of years. In the next couple of decades, aerospace industry is going to grow even more. In 2015 the value of aerospace and defence industry will be [a]worth $399 billion, according to a report by Global Industry Analysis.[a] With this expected level of growth the Air Washington consortium is planning to provide training to meet the demands of the aerospace business in Washington, over six hundred companies in all.

“I’ve seen the number of people at that age[late fifties to early sixties] who would retire at that age,” said Wise, “I’ve talked to them as well. People like me have to replace the whole baby boomer population thing.”

According to Aerospace Industry Association statistics, as of this year there are around 620,000 aerospace jobs[a] in the US, many of which will soon need to be filled. With US and Washington’s unemployment rate at 9.1%[a], Senator Murray hopes that the Air Washington grant helps keep the local aerospace industry strong for years to come, while also creating more jobs.

“The economy is the killer, you need a job but you need an education,” said Wise, “you need an education so you need money, and you need a job to get money, it’s a vicious cycle.”

However, this grant is also seen with some negativity stemming from the usage of the money.

“It’s alright I guess,” said unemployed construction worker, Stephen Rothchild, “but I wish they could give some of that money to everyone else.”

Some feel like the non-aerospace fields are being overlooked.

“Not everyone here is going to work in aerospace,” said Rothchild, “it’s something I hope that the government realises, that labor jobs aren’t just only about making planes around here.”

The leader of the grant, Spokane Community College, will receive $5.8 million, and the rest of the money will be spread out among the other colleges.

Local beneficiaries of the grant include Renton Technical College and South Seattle Community College. South Seattle will receive $1.4 million doled out over three years, and Renton Technical will receive around $2.1 million, also paid out over three years.

As part of the consortium, South Seattle wants to increase the capacity and success rate of it’s students in their Aviation Maintenance Technology Program. Additionally the Aerospace Joint Apprenticeship Committee (AJAC) is partnering with the college in order to develop english language learner (ELL) vocabulary for an air maintenance technician curriculum in use by all five schools providing it in this state.

Renton Technical will use its grant money to to hire staff, buy equipment and develop job-training curriculum. Renton Technical currently provides training in precision machinery and aircraft assembly.

“The Department of Labor grant provides a tremendous boost to the expansion of aerospace training at Renton Technical College,” said Renton Technical College President Steve Hanson to the Renton Reporter, “As a result of this funding, RTC is now positioned to meet the rapidly growing need for skilled workers in the aerospace industry.”

The Air Washington grant is actually part of a four year federal investment by the Department of Labor to generate jobs. Called the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training Grant Program (TAACCCT), the program was created after the amendment of the 1974 Trade Act by the 2009 Recovery Act. The TAACCCT provides grants that range from $2.5 to $20 million to selected community colleges to help in their jobs training programs. In the first round of grants, more than 200 community colleges applied, but only thirty two were chosen. Nearly half of the colleges that were chosen are in Washington.

Another grant called the Governor’s Investment in Aerospace grant (GIA), which is similar to the Air Washington grant, was announced by Governor Christine Gregoire in May to help train aerospace workers. The GIA grant provided $3 million in state funding.

[a]

Saving Your Semester

AHS junior Danika Drugge gets her work done early, staying organized to maintain good grades. Photo by Austin McHenry

While some students can pat themselves on the back for a job well done after quarter grades were sent home, others still have a great deal of work to do before semester grades are finalized in January. Whether students are hoping to earn a coveted A in their AP class or are just hoping to pass, they need to change how they study in order to improve their grade.

 The first step is figuring out what went wrong. To improve grades, students need to avoid making the same mistakes that hurt their grades in the first place.

 “It shouldn’t be a matter of raising the grade. It’s a question of why did the grade fall in the first place. Most of the effort should be done on the prevention side, because trying to raise your scores after the fact is very difficult,” said AHS teacher Nik Joshi.

 For many students, the problem is getting distracted while they’re studying. According to Director of Burien Sylvan Learning Center, Jenny Haaland, M.Ed., distractions can be far more problematic than students might believe.

 “You can make a half-hour long homework assignment turn in to three or four hours if you’re checking Facebook, if you have the TV on in the background, talking to friends, or texting in between,” said Haaland. “You think, ‘oh, it’ll just take me a second,’ but you’re actually distracting your mind from what you’re doing.”

 Some students fall behind because they procrastinate on school work. For chronic procrastinators, waiting until the last minute on assignments can be a habit that leads to both stress and lower quality work.

 “The quality of work is a lot better when you don’t have to rush. When you get things done early you have more time to do things that you want to do, like hang out with friends or listen to music,” said AHS junior Danika Drugge.

 Turning in a significantly higher quality of work is necessary to improve grades. This means spending more time and effort on assignments.

 “If you’re getting C’s on your papers, and you want to get a higher score, then the process of drafting and getting feedback and editing that paper before it’s due becomes really important. You can’t just get another C paper, that’s not going to raise your grade, you have to get an A paper to raise your grade. You have to do what A students do, and they edit their papers, they come up with new ideas. They’re thinking about it more, in a more complex way,” said AHS humanities teacher Marcie Wombold.

 However, procrastinating can be a difficult habit to beat. Breaking the habit is a matter of individual discipline and setting limits.

According to Haaland, the key to avoiding procrastination is to form a habit of getting work done early.

“It takes thirty consecutive days–thirty days without stopping once–to create a habit,” said Haaland, “You have to train it out of yourself.”

For students that don’t know what led to their poor grades, their teachers are an excellent resource.

“Many teachers are available for extra help or for feedback or to check, ‘Am I on the right track?’ and very few students actually take us up on that,” said Wombold, “It’s my A students who ask me ‘Are my notes complete?’ or, ‘Am I getting this idea correctly?’ and it shows in their performance, because if they’re not, I can redirect them.”

When students ask for help, they should bring in graded tests and assignments. This helps teachers understand what they need help with and provide more useful feedback as a result.

Students also need to communicate with teachers sooner rather than later. Whether they’re asking for an extension, or just asking for help, the sooner students tell teachers about problem, the more likely it is that it’s not too late.

“Be proactive, if you have a question, go ask for help,” said Joshi, “Asking a question in a panic the morning before a test is not the right time to be asking the question.”

Studying with peers can also help students understand what they’re missing.

“We are verbal creatures, we talk about movies we like and the music that we like, and the events we’re experiencing, so talk about what you’re learning in class,” said Wombold, “It will help solidify it for you.”

Getting organized is the most important step to getting on track. Not only does it help students stay on top of assignments, it saves them time overall.

“Students should be more organized because it just makes life easier,” said Drugge. “Instead of spending an hour looking for things, they could be using their time to do more important things.”

If better grades aren’t motivation enough, students can think of it in terms of spending less time doing homework.

“You work hard all the time, and if you work smarter with the time that you use, then you’ll be able to have more fun in it, and find that balance between working hard and playing hard,” said Wombold. “It’s important to have downtime too… you’re not having fun when you’re procrastinating. So plan fun, and plan work.”

For most students, getting organized means using a planner. Some may find that a virtual one such as Google Calendar is more useful to them. Not only is Google Calendar accessible anywhere, it can sync with smart phones, to help keep users on track.

“What’s great about the virtual calendar—I live off my virtual calendar—is you can create repeating events, and even set alarms,” said Haaland, “So then your phone will go off and remind you that you should be studying right now.”

Raising grades is an individual process and requires students to be honest with themselves about the effort they’re putting into their classes.

“I think every student knows in their heart when they’re studying effectively, and when they’re not,” said Joshi. “It’s a matter of having the maturity to admit it to themselves and to act on it.”

Deck the Halls With New Technology

Dear Santa, heres my list... Illustration by Andrew Johnson

Dear Santa Claus,

While I know it is a bit early to be sending you letters for Christmas presents, I wanted to save you the most cash possible. As you are a knowledgeable man, no doubt you know about Cyber Monday, the Internet’s version of Black Friday. I just wanted to inform you on some of the various presents I want, that are not only fun but useful for school as well.

In late October, the iPhone 4S was released. The new version of the iPhone now includes a dual core processor, making it almost twice as fast a previous versions. The iPhone is also finally available for customers on Sprint plans and still offers all the familiar features the iPhone is known for,such as its vast application library and sleek design. Perhaps the iPhone 4S’s most unique feature is Siri, a personal assistant application, that will basically work as a verbal calender with many other built-in features as well. As you can see Santa, this phone is everything I need and more. Not only will I be able to to use this phone to help me in school, for example organizing when my homework is due, but will be able to use it for practically every task in my life, like socializing with my friends. You do want me to do well in school, don’t you Santa? So please, get me an iPhone 4S.

While getting the grades and having fun with my friends is important, it is also a good idea to capture these memories in pictures and video. To capture these moments, I want the Nikon J1, released in early October, this ICL (Inter-changeable lens) camera provides many of the features prominent in full size digital cameras, and offers a sleek and compact design. The Nikon J1 comes with multiple lenses, can shoot HD video, and captures images in 10.1 megapixels, this makes it perfect for every day use. Combined with its compact design its just perfect for the student on the go.You do want me to remember my high school days when I am older, don’t you Santa? So please, get me a Nikon J1.

As I am sure you are aware Santa, in mid November the Amazon Kindle Fire will be released and as you can probably speculate, I and many other students will be dying to get their hands on it. The Fire will not only enable us to store numerous amounts of books in the palm of our hand, but also enable us to browse the Internet while reading. In addition, it is almost impossible to run out of room on the Fire with the online cloud storage Amazon will be providing along with it. The best part about the Fire is that it comes at an affordable price of $199 which I am sure will be very convenient for your wallet. You do want to promote reading, don’t you Santa? So please, get me a Kindle Fire.

When in the library attempting to study for AP Calculus, there is always one obnoxious person talking very loudly in the isle adjacent to me. No matter what I do to drown them out, their voice just seems to pierce through all the headphones I currently have. Because of this, I think it might be time to ask for some quality headphones to drown out this nuisance once and for all. This year many rappers have released headphones to their name, Dr. Dre and Ludacris to name a few, but this holiday season a new rapper will be releasing his brand of headphones, and I was hoping that you would look into them. 50 Cent will be releasing his brand of headphones sometime this holiday season and not only do they look aesthetically pleasing, they are sure to drown out pretty much everything. You do want me to be able to study well for AP Calculus, don’t you Santa? So please, get me headphones by 50 Cent.

I know this may sound like a lot, but I’m getting my driver’s license next year and I’ll want to talk cars with you, so enjoy the easy times while you can. I hope you have a safe flight this Christmas and that preparing for it is trouble-free.

Best Wishes,

Tech Savvy Students Everywhere.

Furry Friends a Holiday Handful

Stella (13 week old Pit Bull Terrier) from Homeward Pet

Source: Homeward Pet

This cold Seattle season, local animal shelters and facilities have quite the workload waiting for them, due to both a large number of animals in need and a lack of staff to take care of them.

Kitty Harbor, a local shelter in West Seattle, focuses their resources on cats. They mostly deal with cats from rescue situations, but the animals come from a variety of backgrounds.

“The cats we get at Kitty Harbor come from situations where owners abandon their cats. Lately, with the economy, lots of people are downsizing into smaller homes and choose not to take their pets with them,” said Anna Sweet, a volunteer at Kitty Harbor. “We also take in cats from situations where the owners are too sick to care for their pets anymore (or have died).”

Pasado’s Safe Haven, in Sultan, is a more universal shelter accepting a variety of animals from dogs and cats to farm animals, and they mostly come from rescue situations.

“Rescues can happen at any time and we may take in one animal or one hundred animals. We keep our dog and cat population full at all times,” said Stacie Martin, Director of Operations at Pasado’s, “when one is adopted, we rescue another from euthanasia at a shelter. Our farm animals usually come from rescue cases. Some months we have many adoptions, then others not so many. It all varies.”

Homeward Pet Adoption, in Bellevue has both dogs and cats. They are presented with animals from many different situations as well, some of which are difficult to adopt out.

“Some families discover their new babies are allergic to their pet and are forced to find new homes for them,” said Terri Inglis, Executive Director of Homeward Pet, “Then there are other families that decide they want to add a new puppy to their family and discover their older dog doesn’t get along with it… and give up the older dog instead of the more adoptable puppy.”

The winter season is one of the hardest times at some places, Pasado’s Safe Haven has a big workload they need to get done, this is difficult to coordinate because of the large variety of animals they house.

“The work can be more difficult in the winter just because of the weather conditions,” said Martin, “We have very rugged terrain, and in the ice and snow it’s more difficult to get around. Water troughs freeze, animals such as the pigs require more hay for warmth, we need to check heat lamps regularly, etc.”

Cold weather and the busy holiday season can drastically lower the number of people willing to help the shelter out during the winter.

“We do see a reduction in volunteers in the winter, especially with walking the shelter dogs,” said Inglis, “Many volunteers are not too excited about walking dogs in the rain and bad weather.”

No matter how bad the weather, Pasado’s Safe Haven has staff and volunteers working year round, even on the holidays.

“Pasado’s staff members are responsible for the care of all the animals year round,” said Martin, “with the help of our volunteers, we have staff on site 24/7.”

Staff and volunteers are less likely to be available to spend their time at the shelter during the busy holiday season.  With more animals arriving every day, every shelter has a strategy for coping with those hectic holiday shifts.

“For holidays during the time when we are open (like Thanksgiving) we have volunteers who take care of the cats and kittens,” said Sweet, “Each of our volunteers signs up for one night a week to come in and clean, feed and pet the cats.”

Homeward Pet always tries their hardest to tend to all the animals equally during winter, even though the staff is working less hours.

“Our fabulous staff and volunteers continue to care for the animals even over the holidays,” said Inglis, “While we do work shorter hours, we make sure each dog and cat have clean kennels, water, and two meals each day.  The dogs still get walks and the cats get lots of cuddles…they too, deserve to celebrate the holidays!”

Though the shelter works as hard as it can to accommodate as many animals as possible, it is often tough for them to keep up.  However, these two facilities have opted to be completely “no kill” shelters, meaning that animal euthanasia is out of the question under any circumstances.

“Kitty Harbor is a completely no kill shelter. We keep our cats until they find a home. The only time we have to put animals to sleep is when they are seriously ill with an incurable illness,” said Sweet, “This only happens about one or two times a year. We are lucky to work with local vets to get many life saving surgeries for low cost and save cats that would be put to sleep at other shelters.”

Along with Kitty Harbor, Homeward Pet and Pasado’s are also both no-kill facilities, except in extreme circumstances like an incurable disease that causes pain to the animal.

AHS students can help out at shelters by simply signing up to be a volunteer to take care of the animals, giving donations, adopting pets, or even offering to foster animals.

More information is available at:

www.kittyharborseattle.org

http://homewardpet.org/getInvolved.html

http://www.pasadosafehaven.org/ways-to-help/

[a]

Red Cups Raise Red Flags

Juniors Chris Morrell and Merrick Opdyke pretend to experience the hazards of drinking and driving, Photo by Gabby Rivera

DUIs, vehicular homicide, minors in possession, police interventions–because the access to alcohol is easy, teen drinking is an expected problem over the holidays.

As the holidays approach, the likelihood of underage drinking increases. Although it is illegal for minors to be in possession of alcohol, it doesn’t stop them from getting hold of the intoxicants. Some teens get it from older siblings or friends while others can easily break into their parents’ liquor cabinets. There are also the teenagers that try to buy it themselves, and the store either fails to check their age or just lets the minor walk away with the alcohol.

“I don’t think it’s appropriate,” says Aviation freshman Bridget Heiland, “it’s underage and there can be a lot of deaths caused in that instance.”

In 2006, an estimated 17, 602 people died in alcohol-related traffic crashes–that’s an average of one every thirty minutes. A national survey conducted by National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports 23% of teenage drivers involved in fatal car crashes possessed a blood-alcohol concentration level above the adult legal limit of .08 on the breathalyzer test.

When students drink, sometimes they don’t realize the trouble they could get into. At Aviation High School, the students have the opportunity to learn about the effects of underage drinking.

“We do talk about teen drinking,” says Aviation High School health teacher Garrett Shiroma, “so they’re more aware of the effects and the lasting effects or the repercussions of what they possibly do when they are under the influence of alcohol.”

State law requires  high schools’ health curriculum to teach the consequences of teen drinking, such as damage to the liver and the brain. People who drink at a younger age are three times as likely to become alcoholics. Other than the effects drinking has on the body, teens could run into major trouble when caught by the police.

When a minor is caught drinking and driving, their licenses can get revoked, there can be an increase in their auto insurance rates or even denial of insurance coverages. If caught again, their car can be taken away by authorities, as well as  the loss or suspension of their license. In some cases they can earn jail time, hefty fines, community service hours and a criminal record, which limits the student’s future job opportunities. Depending on the situation, a combination of these punishments would be given to the teen.

“Law enforcement as a whole takes holiday drinking very seriously,” says Seattle Police Department officer Joel Nark. “Starting about right now [they]put a DUI task force together that will work every night between now and January 2nd.”

Police realize that teens drink alcohol when they should not be. During the holiday season, they set up more patrols, party interventions, and officers to ensure the safety of the roads.

“These officers are highly trained in DUI enforcement,” said Nark.  “Most departments in the Puget Sound region do this. Many of the smaller jurisdictions will combine resources. You will also notice a state wide ad program on radio and T.V. concerning the consequences of driving drunk (i.e. “Drive hammered…Get nailed!” slogan).”

They also advise teens that end up drinking to not get in the car if the driver shows any sign of being “buzzed.”  It would be best for everyone to call a safe ride.

Underage drinking is a serious issue. Many adult figures realize this, but fail to notice that they, themselves can be the influence that leads to drinking. When adults drink alcohol in front of student it doesn’t show the consequences that drinking has.

“My parents invite friends over and they all have wine,” said Aviation freshman Moritz Wienke, “I’m around it and everything, but I just don’t pay attention to it.”

However, some teens do not understand the maturity level some adults have reached that allows them to drink. Other teenagers would think that parents drinking in front of them is like a free pass allowing them to do so. However, some adults have not reached this maturity level either. Plenty of adults get caught for DUIs and become alcoholics,  and oftentimes teens don’t see the negative effects that alcohol can have on adults and teens alike.

“While I don’t even pretend to believe that I can control what my children or others teens chose to do, I can lead by example,” said parent of an Aviation freshman, Tami Warnes, “I feel it is my obligation as a parent to set the example that I wish my children to follow – not drinking myself if I hope to have my children avoid alcohol use as well.  Beyond that, it is ultimately up to each person to chose the life he/she wishes to live.”

There are many decisions to consider and elements to think about when teens are given the opportunity to drink at holiday parties. For teens, it is illegal to be drinking in the first place, so they should not be doing it. If, however, they take a few sips, police recommend to get a ride instead of driving themselves. This is not just for their safety, but also to keep other drivers safe.

Weathering Bad Weather

Tools for survival, Photo by Austin McHenry

Every winter, many people fall victim to a plethora of problems caused by the cold, snow and winds. This risk can be minimized by creating a kit that can help in the event of an emergency.

Though specifics vary, the general concept is to create a kit that will allow you to stay safe in the event of an emergency. This kit includes items such as non-perishable food, a first-aid kit, a battery operated radio, water, and a ways to stay warm (such as blankets and/or extra clothes).

Keeping kits in multiple locations, such as your car, a shed or at work, is a reasonable precaution, as a kit stored in a house won’t do much good if the house is inaccessible. In addition, kits should be portable in case an evacuation is required.

Since bad weather can hit at any time, it is important to be prepared at home, at work and on the road. These kits can be useful year round, not just during the winter.

I have kits with emergency supplies at home, in my car, and at my workplace. Every member of my family has a kit in their car,” said City of Renton Emergency Management Coordinator Mindi Mattson[a]. “The nice thing about preparing for emergencies and disasters is that supplies you store for one type of disaster are typically useful for all types of disasters, so I wouldn’t call my kits ‘winter’ kits. They are ‘all-hazards’ kits.”

A program called Take Winter By Storm is working to increase awareness of the hazards posed by rain, wind, snow, and all other symptoms of a bad winter. Their suggestions go beyond just making a kit. They also recommend staying up to date with the weather forecast, and making and practicing a safety plan with your family or others that are close to you. More information can be found at takewinterbystorm.org.

Being prepared for bad weather isn’t just a matter of looking out for yourself, it’s also a matter of responsibility to the community.

“If you are not prepared to be self-reliant and take care of your own needs, you will need someone else to take care of you,said Mattson[a]. ”You become part of the problem instead of being part of the solution. It takes so little time and effort to put together a basic disaster supplies kit and the benefit can be so great in a time of need.”

Though many of the components of an emergency kit are common sense, several are less intuitive. Take Winter By Storm recommends having some cash available, as well as copies of important documents. Preparing for an emergenciesthat cause complete lack of access to one’s house is the best way to maximize preparedness. In addition to a standard first aid-kit, it is recommended that kits contain at least a seven day supply of any prescription medications used by any family members.

In terms of amounts for making a kit, supplies should be enough to last for about three days. Take Winter By Storm advises one gallon of clean water per person per day, and food that is ready to eat without preparation.

Taking the time to set up a kit is worth the small effort in the long run. Personal safety and the safety of one’s family is important, and should be treated as such.

Many AHS students can feel the effects of bad weather more than others due to their unusually long commutes.

“I live on a hill, so when it rains or snows it really sucks,” said AHS student Paula Cieszkiewicz. ”I can’t get anywhere and since I take the Metro, when Metro is screwed up my whole commute is screwed up and it’s not much easier to take a car and go to Highline [High School] or Aviation. It screws everything up.”

Even though they aren’t the heads of their households, AHS students should still encourage their

“It sounds like something that wouldn’t be too difficult,” said Cieszkiewicz. “Taking simple action to do something that could be potentially critical in a pinch would be nice.”

It’s easy to put something off until it is too late for it to be useful. Making a kit is relatively easy and can put your mind at ease.

“I wish I did have the perfect words to convince people of the importance of being prepared,” said Mattson. “No one likes to think about bad things happening, but I can tell you that I sleep better at night knowing that my family has emergency kits and a plan to get through it.”

Stand Up

AHS needs more student voice and advocacy – the ASB can and should take on some of this important work, but the rest is up to you.

Currently, AHS’s student government focuses primarily on social events. The ASB only serves in a social role, such as organizing dances, assemblies, and pep rallies. However, this group – and the student body as a whole – could be doing so much more. At the John F. Kennedy Catholic High School in Burien, the student government includes a student council. This council sets a goal each year of something it wants to change or improve at the school. Last year, they wanted to change their dress code, and after talking to other schools, they decided what  they wanted to change and why. The council presented to the faculty, and succeeded in getting their school’s administration to change the policy.

While students at AHS have to accept that the dress code isn’t going to be changing anytime soon, that doesn’t mean that they can’t change or improve other things around the school. Don’t forget that students have voices, too, and if they want changes to be made, they have to speak up.

At some schools, the ASB sends student representatives to listen in on school board meetings. Even if they’re not actually part of the decision-making process, students still may be able to raise concerns or at least know what’s going to happen ahead of time. As student presence at such meetings grows and becomes the norm, the administration would become more open to suggestions from the student representatives. The National Council of the Social Studies even outlines this student council function in their official guidelines for student governance, stating that student council members should ‘serve as substantive decision-making bodies at the school… where students’ interests are at stake.” 

Students sometimes feel left out of the loop when it comes to school policies and decisions. However, the administration might not intentionally be excluding students from participating in or at least observing the everyday running of the school. The adults can’t be expected to insist on student representatives sitting in on major decisions; the students have to ask to attend themselves.

A student presence at decision-making meetings is particularly important now, as AHS begins planning to make the move to the Museum of Flight campus. How are discipline problems going to be solved on Museum grounds–by AHS policies or by Museum security and local law enforcement? Are students going to be allowed access to the Museum archives? How is AHS going to deal with visitors from the Museum who want to see what’s going on in the classes? Those problems are going to get tackled eventually, and when they do, the student body should make sure someone is speaking up for them.

Having a voice doesn’t just mean speaking up to the administration, though. It also means advocating for oneself within one’s peer group.

Closer to home, one way of having a voice now is to start an ombudsman board––a neutral party that gives students a voice and can act as a mediator between members of a group. The communication can be between two ordinary members of the group, or between an ordinary member and an authority figure. Ombudsman boards are already used in colleges, labor unions, and hospitals, just to name a few.

AHS’s small school environment means that the student body doesn’t have access to the normal groups that advocate for students, such as a gay-straight alliance or student groups based on ethnicity. The ombudsman board would be able to serve as all those groups rolled into one. For example: girls at AHS have complained of feeling objectified by the male majority; an ombudsman board could call attention to the problem. Regardless of whether the objectification is deliberate, someone needs to speak up in order for the problem to go away.

An ombudsman board would also serve as a way to open up the lines of communication between teacher and student. As many teachers have remarked, students seem to have trouble asking for help. They may be intimidated by the teacher, or their pride might be getting in the way. Getting a mediator to ask a question anonymously would help relieve the anxiety a student might feel about approaching a teacher. As a result, students would be able to get help on assignments much easier. It might even save some grades.

Also, if a student struggles with the way a class is being taught, they can request the ombudsman board to ask the teacher to help them work out some individual accommodations as a last resort. The ombudsmen could help the teacher and the student work out a way that will make learning easier while still imparting the necessary information.

However, the ombudsmen aren’t going to act as the sounding board for whiny students. Just because someone dislikes a teacher doesn’t mean they can use the ombudsman board to harass the teacher. Part of the board’s duties would include sorting through appeals to make sure that no bogus argument gets through. Standards or criteria would have to be made in order to establish what is a legitimate concern or just whiny students.

Don’t look to the administration to provide ombudsmen; that isn’t their job. They already have their plates full with running the school and securing funding. Instead, look to yourselves. Out of four hundred students, there has to be someone brave enough to stand up and make a change. After all, if we won’t speak up for ourselves, no one will.

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