Monthly Archives: May 2017

Rainier students visit the Mercury News

By Antonio Constantino

Staff Writer

The journalism program at Summit Public School: Rainier visited the San Jose Mercury News headquarters for a day. Students in this program learned new things because they got to experience a realistic view of being a journalist as they got to see the working environment and listen to journalists talk about their experiences at work and what they do outside of the headquarters.

During the visit that student journalists from Rainier paid to the Mercury News, journalists opened up to questions like “What’s it like to work in the Mercury News?” and “How did you begin to work at the Mercury News?”

They even opened up to some more in-depth questions like “What do you like about working here?” and “What are the challenges to working here?”

Here’s what three of the Mercury News journalists had to say about their jobs:

Mercury News reporter Robert Salonga uses his Twitter feed to spotlight crime news. VIDEO CREDIT: Tam Ha

Mercury News reporter Marisa Kendall uses her Twitter feed to highlight tech news. VIDEO CREDIT: Tam Ha

Mercury News reporter Ethan Baron uses his Twitter feed to publicize tech news. VIDEO CREDIT: Tam Ha

Rainier journalism students had a chance to tour the newsroom and sit in on a budget meeting:

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Rainier journalists then learned that to be a journalist at the Mercury News or any other kind of news company they’d have to travel a lot and be ready for things that they might not expect. The reason for this is because journalists do not know what could happen at the sites that they are at.

This made the student journalists learn more about what they are studying and made them think more in-depth about what the real world is like.

The arts sparked my political interest

By Darya Worsell

Staff Writer

“And when I meet Thomas Jefferson, Imma compel him to include women in the sequel!” Thomas Jefferson has come back to life in the form of a jazzy, crazy man on Broadway, singing and dancing his way through 18th century America.

The musical Hamilton, which features Angelica Schuyler directing that line at Jefferson while talking about her ideas, is an example of art directing the political conversation.

When referring to the arts, I mean music, dance, theater, spoken word, poetry and many more forms of expression. Theater, in particular, has emerged out of the darkness of obscurity into the light of popularity – and a heavy influence on politics. On Nov. 18, 2016, actors in Hamilton spoke to Mike Pence, our new Vice President. It blew up all over social media. You can find the video here.

Now, more than ever, people have gained a strong interest in going to the theater just because they wish to see what the hubbub is about. Because theater is such a revered ancient art, it is a great outlet for artists who wish to pursue another career on stage when there are too many pop songs and not enough dance shows. Theater ties all art together.

Talking to Summit Prep Dean of Students Aukeem Ballard about theater and its influence on politics really opened my eyes. I should mention that I interviewed Mr. Ballard because he has had a career in spoken word, or slam poetry. You can find some of his videos at this link. I asked Mr. Ballard how the current political issues have affected him. “It’s affected my job. It’s helping students navigate personal problems, but it’s moved into helping them navigate the violent political climate,” he said. “It’s personally hard to see people getting angry to those they don’t know just because of that person’s beliefs.”

Mr Ballard said that social media plays a “huge role” in the arts. “One era wanted to see powerful art, and they had to go to a website or a museum. Now they can see the art everywhere with social media. It allows ideas to spread faster. You can post easier and people can see that automatically.”

When should the world become more involved in the issues described by arts like poetry and music? According to Mr. Ballard, the time is ripe. “Now. Yesterday. A hundred years ago! Our world is suffering from a plague of our own ignorance and people are dying because of it.”

We are dying from our own ignorance and selfishness because we aren’t caring about others anymore. We don’t want to lose anything, but we are losing so much because we are so self-absorbed.

The basis for writing this piece on the influence of politics on arts stems from an essay that I wrote recently to snag tickets to Broadway’s hottest show, Hamilton. I found a certain fascination with the subject, and thus I am writing more on it.

“People were stopped! From coming to a place that welcomes all with open arms! To quote the poet Emma Lazarus, ‘Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…’ If we still can’t say that with pride, then are we really upholding Lady Liberty’s cry? This country is founded by immigrants. If we take the immigrants out of America, is America still there? One of those who were stopped at our borders could be a relative, a mother, or a brother to maybe one of our upcoming presidents.”

The quote above, from my essay entitled “Past Patiently Waiting,” was the tree that grew from the seed. The little seed was the idea that immigrants founded our country, and everyone is somehow an immigrant. If we take the immigrants, all of them, out of our country, then who will be left?

“The arts — music, theater, dance, poetry and spoken word — have contributed to the ongoing national and international conversation by pulling people who would normally not be involved into the mix. For instance, because of Hamilton, the author has discovered a hidden passionate anger at all that has been going on in Washington, D.C. Because of that, the author went marching in the Women’s March, chanting along with all the passionate souls in the downpour in San Francisco. Because of that march, has been followed on Instagram and Twitter, something the author wouldn’t have thought about before.”

The above information is true. This wasn’t just the conclusion of my essay, it was the idea that I wanted to carry forward. I am now making good on my progress.  I discovered a passion to stand with my fellow women and march because I didn’t agree with the current political climate. On International Women’s Day, many of us wore red. Think about it. If Hamilton had not become as big as it is, where would the rest of the world be at this point?


Summit Prep sophomore Darya Worsell stands in front of a Hamilton poster.

I then watched Hamilton myself and was blown away. The dancing, acting and singing pulled you into the 18th century and the feeling of “you can do it” washes over. For a show currently performing in three places at the same time, still having a huge boom in ticket sales is impressive.

What’s even more impressive is that it is inspiring so many people to stand up and to “not throw away their shot.” I highly encourage you to go see Hamilton, not only because it it perfect for our times in politics, but because it is a quintessential musical about going for what you want and not giving in.

Hispanic culture is valuable

By Serina Sperduto

Staff Writer

When I was younger, I had my First Communion. My mom and I bought a white little dress and a veil to match. Walking up to the altar in church, it was the time to get blessed.

I took hold of the bread, the Body of Christ, and ate it. I took a small sip of wine, the Blood of Christ. The Holy Communion ceremony was complete.


Everest freshman Serina Sperduto poses for a photo before her First Communion.

Then it was time for celebration! There was a party ready to start at my godmother’s house. I was enthusiastic to see my Hispanic side of the family who were excited to celebrate my Holy Communion.

We had so much food! We had beans, rice, morisqueta and so much more Mexican food. I was just happy to see I could be a part of the Hispanic culture.

Being part of the Hispanic culture is important to me because it’s a different type of culture to experience that not everyone can. I have different cultures I can celebrate. My dad’s side of the family is Caucasian and sticks to their American roots; however, my mom is from Michoacán, and she follows her Mexican culture.

Being part of another culture, specifically the Hispanic culture, is amazing, and I am glad that I can be part of it through my mother’s side.

Everest Public High School has many different cultures since it’s such a big community. One of the biggest cultures at Everest is the Hispanic culture.

Everest freshman Cris Bac said, “The Hispanic culture is important because they bring a different culture to the Bay Area, and we need to be different; we are not all the same.”

Everest freshman Cris Bac

Everest freshman Cris Bac PHOTO CREDIT: Brian Prado


Everest freshman Alfredo Lanuza PHOTO CREDIT: Jissis Hernandez

Another Everest freshman, Alfredo Lanuza, agreed with Bac and said, “We make the Bay Area fun and ‘lit’ – without Hispanics and African Americans, we would just have techies.”

Experiencing different cultures helps people become more comfortable with their own identity and learn more about the identities of others.

Hispanic culture is a big part of my school and my community, and it means a lot to me. Hispanic culture should be recognized so that everyone can understand that it’s a big part of the community and that a lot of people believe in it strongly.

Prep students showcase the real-world skills they’ve learned during Expeditions

By Micah Tam

Staff Writer 

On May 25, Summit Preparatory Charter High School had a Celebration of Learning in which students got the chance to exhibit the life skills they acquired during Expeditions. Among the selection of Expedition courses that offer different learning opportunities from content knowledge to the arts, there are also courses that teach life skills that benefit students outside of school.


For the last two rounds of Expeditions, students had the chance to go to the Riekes Center in Redwood City where they were able to workout, play basketball, learn yoga, play instruments and explore unknown talents. While learning these different skills and hobbies, they were taught by specialized coaches who work at the Riekes Center to help and support the students. Two lead Riekes Center coaches attended the Celebration of Learning hosted at Summit Prep.


Lead coaches Gabriel Risk Martin and Alex Booher show a video explaining what they did at the Riekes Center. 


Melissa Bernstein, who teaches the Wilderness Expeditions course, said she wants students to learn “how to take care of yourself and how to be healthy, so if any of the kids have an interest in going backpacking, they’ll know how to take care of issues by themselves.” She said the course was a “good intro for them, but we could really use more time for them to really get comfortable with the system,” explaining “the only problem is that we were rushing. The class that I was teaching them is actually 80 hours of course material, and we didn’t have 80 hours, so in order to get a really complete practice it would take longer than the time that we have in Expeditions.”


Summit Prep freshman Tara DuBridge

For the Celebration of Learning, each group had to make a video on a certain wilderness injury. “Our group is doing wounds and cuts, like operations and stuff like that, so we have to make a video on how to treat it,” Summit Prep freshman Tara DuBridge said. “It’s important to know how to treat these kinds of injuries ‘cause it could happen anytime, and so it’s important to be prepared.” She added that the project was challenging. “It was pretty hard to remember the steps that you had to do because it’s a pretty long process, and so it was hard to memorize it and do the video.”


Summit Prep freshman Tara DuBridge worked with her group to make this video about treating wounds and cuts in the wilderness.



Summit Prep freshman Ethan Sheppy


Summit Prep freshman Ethan Sheppy and his group did their project on shoulder and finger dislocations. “This is a very helpful skill ‘cause if you’re out hiking and your friend injures himself really bad, you have to know how to help them,” he said, adding, “I liked this Expedition, it was very enjoyable.” To view his group’s video, click this link.





The audience watches wilderness first-aid videos during Celebration of Learning.

Food For Thought

Food for Thought is a new Expeditions class this school year, and it has gotten great responses from students enrolled. Shaan Johal, a freshman at Summit Prep, recommends that everyone take this class because it provides good information to benefit your health.

Summit Prep freshman Casper Lyback explained that their Celebration of Learning project was to film a video about a certain dish and how to make it. “This project is also about showing creativity,” he said, adding that the class allowed the students to express themselves through food. The final project was “quite interesting and the end product was quite delicious.”

Brooke Hein, who teaches Food for Thought, explained that food affects everyone. “Young people need to analyze what they put in their body, and we need to encourage them to think critically about what they eat.”

Each class voted for a winning video. Here is the link for the winner in the morning class. Here is the link for the winner in the afternoon class.

Food for Thought teacher Brooke Hein announces the winners of her class video contest. 


Students walk in to greet Ms. Hein as well as enjoy the videos made by Food for Thought students.


The audience enjoys the cooking videos made by Food for Thought students.

Staff Writers Kai Lock, Yesenia Lopez and Tyler McGuire contributed to this report.

Summit Prep students show their families what they have learned in Expeditions

By Kristian Bekele 

Staff Writer  

On May 25, Summit Prep students demonstrated all that they have learned to peers and parents in what is known as the Celebration of Learning showcase. From 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., students from the Expeditions classes Education Pathways, College Readiness and Sociology of Law showed off what they learned in the eight weeks of Expeditions.

Education Pathways 

In Education Pathways, students learn about the educational system and its flaws from an educator’s perspective. Students went to schools and shadowed teachers as they learned about the achievements and problems of educational systems.

For their final product, students got to choose between modeling their career pathways and how they would achieve their goals or highlighting a specific flaw in the educational system.


Summit Prep freshman Armando Sanchez and sophomore Brandon Kerney look over Kerney’s final product.


Summit Prep junior Angela Chung shows her plans to attend Cornell University and Harvard in order to achieve a career as an architect. She said that the reason why she wants to be an architect is because she likes how architecture combines various elements such as math, drawing and design to make structures.


College Readiness 

College Readiness is a mandatory course where juniors learn about college and the application process. Summit Prep juniors showcased their college applications to fellow classmates, teachers and parents. As part of their final product, students made a slideshow demonstrating what colleges they wanted to go to, the necessary qualifications and their reasoning for choosing those schools.


Summit Prep junior Paola Godoy presents her college plan to her mentor Bree Hawkins.



Summit Prep Dean Mary Beth Thompson talks to her mentees, Juan Reyes and Jesus Pichardo, about their college choices.


Sociology of Law 

“There is no such thing as a good person or a bad person, only good and bad choices.” S. Dawson’s quote is something the Sociology of Law class learns from the moment they step inside the classroom commanded by Expeditions teacher Lissa Thiele, who also serves as a Juvenile Justice Commissioner.


Sociology of Law teacher and Juvenile Justice Commissioner Lissa Thiele

During Celebration of Learning, the class had a Socratic Seminar involving parents and students debating whether armed guards were allowed in schools. The topic was thus because the class had been studying the Second Amendment and mass shootings. They had watched a documentary on Columbine earlier in the round, and the documentary was still fresh in their minds.

During the Socratic, the group discussed mental health because a majority of school shooters have been shown to have mental issues. The topic of damaged masculinity was also brought up early in the conversation.

Damaged masculinity is when a man’s masculine qualities are destroyed by someone finding and exposing their weakness and ridiculing them for it. Because most mass shooters are men, this damaged masculinity plays a huge role in the number of youth dying per year from mass shootings.

At the start of the Socratic, parents and students who participated seemed to agree on one thing: In different situations, people feel safer with armed guards, but they don’t feel safe with an armed guard in the school.

Staff Writers Micah Tam, Tyler McGuire and Darya Worsell contributed to this report. 

Business Expeditions wrap up the year with Celebration of Learning presentations

By Eliza Insley

Staff Writer

Celebration of Learning is an annual showcase of all the work done in the Expeditions courses. These three Expeditions, Internship, Entrepreneurship, and Computer Science, all explore different aspects of business.


During the Internship Expedition, sophomore and senior students have the opportunity to do an off-campus internship for local organizations and then give a presentation discussing their experience and skills learned. These internships let students explore their interests in a variety of work environments, get ideas about what they want to pursue in college or as a career and gain work experience.


Summit Prep seniors Jacyn Schmidt and James Bamford explain how they got to experience both being out in nature and being in an office environment during their internship at the United States Geology Survey.


Jesse Uiterwijk, a Summit Prep sophomore, talks about his internship at San Jose Jazz and what the organization does.


Summit Prep senior Tom Chu talks about his daily schedule and commute to his internship at the Midpen Media Center.


Entrepreneurship is another one of the Expeditions courses offered at Summit Prep. Here, students learn real-life business skills such as creating a presentation, making a product or crafting a business plan. Entrepreneurship teacher Aaron Calvert accomplishes this by placing students in real-world situations, such as pitching an idea to potential investors (a similar experience to that of  the TV show Shark Tank).

Students in this course can apply the skills they learn to other careers or jobs, which helps them branch out to other possibilities.

Joel Kestelyn, a sophomore at Summit Prep, explains his business called 4D Calligraphy to parents visiting Summit’s Celebration of Learning.


Summit Prep freshman Victor Aguilar-Mendoza explains the shoe business he calls Fuji Chancla to Summit Prep teacher Michael Green. Aquilar-Mendoza said, “My business is making chanclas that are good for the environment and comfortable but also fashionable.”


Dariana Pacheco and Mimi Moore are freshmen who paired up to create a business called EGs, which is short for Electronic Gadgets. Moore said, “Everything we do here is to create opportunities for ourselves that will get us through real-life situations.” Pacheco said, “The skills here can be applied to a lot of jobs or careers. Especially with so many options to choose from in the world, this kind of helps with narrowing it down.”


Luke Desmarais and Max Moeller, Summit Prep freshmen, introduce the product they named MirrorCam. Desmarais said, “We made this product to make sure the driver can have a 360-view when they’re driving. This makes driving safer because we are in cars almost every day of our lives and this eliminates blind spots, which are dangerous.”


Esteban Ramirez, a sophomore at Summit Prep, presents his product called Hoods. Ramirez said, “My product is that hoods on your jacket or sweater or whatever – you have a camera lens that can take photos or videos.”


Juan Hernandez, a Summit Prep senior, gives an introduction to a clothing brand he named Distinctive World.

Computer Science

During Computer Science, students learn how to use Cloud9, a JavaScript program, and Scratch to develop different programs. This course gives an beginning look at programming, allowing students to expand their skills and pursue a possible career path.

Matt Hesby, the Computer Science Expeditions teacher, said his original plan was for the course to be open only to sophomores and above; however, “we needed a class that was a little bit more accessible, a little bit more something that students can come in, start getting their hands on programming a little bit and find a way to connect with it.”

Mr. Hesby said this year’s class has a lot of freshmen, and he designed the class for that audience. “Literally it was just to tap into that interest in video games, but give them that as the avenue for beginning to learn the program. So that those students who reach into it and really find that part of it is really enjoyable and really fun, kinda run with the programming and keep going with it.”

Summit Prep Computer Science students showcase their finished programs to an audience of friends and family. 

Here’s a look at the Computer Science displays during Celebration of Learning: 

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 Staff Writers Daneyah Penisini and Alexis Sanchez contributed to this article. 

Students show their creativity through the arts

By CC Logan

Staff Writer

Students in the Video Production, Visual Arts, Creative Writing and Holocaust Expeditions classes showed their creativity through arts projects for the after school Celebration of Learning event.

Video Production

In the Video Production Expeditions course, students got to learn different filming and editing techniques which help achieve a higher quality video, such as filming at different angles, making certain frames slow motion and adding music and filters. For their final product, students had to produce a video in two weeks that incorporated the skills they learned during their Expeditions course, centered around the theme of poor-quality technology and tied into the class’s GoFundMe page.

Summit Prep junior Brendan Green explained that his video is “about how slow all the computers in Video Production class are” and that he compared the slow technology to Russia in the 1930s. Green said he wanted to “add humor by taking something that is unlike our subject and comparing it to something completely different.”

Another Summit Prep junior, Erick Espinoza, went a different route with his final product and made his “about the ‘E-Waste God’ and how he needs more computers.”

During the Celebration of Learning presentation, students showcased their videos in front of their peers and parents. After the screening, Marlene Zobayan, mother of Summit Prep freshman Joey Darwood, said that her experience was “really good and very interesting” and that she liked how the films “had a purpose to raise money for film equipment.” She added that video production is definitely “a 21st century skill” that would be helpful in the future.


Marlene Zobayan, mother of Summit Prep freshman Joey Darwood, said the Video Production film screening was “very interesting.”


A crowd of students and parents watch student films during the Celebration of Learning presentation.

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Summit Prep junior Erick Espinoza watches his final product, E Waste God.

Visual Art:

Summit Prep art students wrote gallery-style explanations to accompany their art. Here are three examples:

Below are some more pictures that were drawn by Summit Prep Visual Arts students:

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Creative Writing:

Empowerment Through Creative Writing is a class in which students get to explore the world of writing to benefit themselves. Students learn how to write and step out of their shell through different styles of poetry. During Celebration of Learning, those students applied themselves with a Poetry Slam, a Spoken Word competition that lasted three rounds, including both individual and group poems.

Summit Prep freshmen Damien Jackson, Eliza Insley, Grace Bartz and Hattie Hughes present their poem about how our society is so connected to technology that people do not realize there is more to life.

Summit Prep freshmen Darren D’avila and Angel Miranda present their poem about love and hatred.

Summit Prep freshman Jessica Esparza presents her poem about love and happiness.

Summit Prep freshmen Angel Miranda and Jocelyn Gallardo present their poem, which argues that our world is a beautiful disaster.

Summit Prep freshman Devon Anthony and junior Ivonne Acosta present their poem on saying what they want to say.

Left:  Summit Prep freshman Joey Darwood presents his poem about making mac and cheese.

Right: Summit Prep freshmen Angel Miranda and Darren D’avila prepare to present.


“There is good, there is bad, and then there is you.” That is a lesson that Lissa Thiele, whose family was persecuted during the Holocaust, hopes to impart to the students in her Holocaust Expeditions course. During the Celebration of Learning, the scholars in the class walked around the school to get people to sign a Pledge of Respect.

Evelyn Aguilar, a sophomore at Summit Prep, said that taking the class made students “think twice and become socially aware,” explaining that she “realized how many people the Holocaust actually affects.” Another sophomore, Rob Wilds, said the class “improved empathy” and taught him to “stand up for what I think is right.”After taking the class, he realized “how big of an impact one person’s ideas can make.”

 Aguilar learned from the class that “hate or war is never the answer.” Wilds learned that “humans are very susceptible to influence and we always have to be cognizant of it.”

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 Staff Writers Darren D’avila, Micah Tam, Nicholas Reed, Darya Worsell and David Martinez contributed to this report. 
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