Monthly Archives: June 2017

Students explore career options through Expeditions courses

By Jennifer Valencia 

Staff Writer 

At Everest Public High School, Celebration of Learning is a time to showcase all of the work and effort that has been put forward in the Expeditions courses. Students get to show their parents how they have worked hard toward their personal passions and interests.


Entrepreneurship is a course that teaches students how a business is started and how it can operate, especially here in the Silicon Valley. This course is taught by Vivy Chao. Throughout the course of the year, students learn how to create, start and manage their own business. For Celebration of Learning, the Entrepreneurship students showcased what they did in their class by selling what they had created as a business throughout the year. There was food for sale, as well as coffee, handmade cards and even woodcut dragons.


Daine Becerra Garcia, an Everest sophomore, decided to sell fruit cups with her friend, and fellow sophomore, Martha Torres. Becerra, when asked what she liked about the class, said, “It gives us an idea of what building a company or business can be like, which is fun.”  

Below is a slideshow displaying what other students decided to sell for Celebration of Learning:

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Independent Study 

Independent Study is a course where students can choose a passion of theirs and pursue it. These students check in throughout Expeditions with their supervisor to discuss the progression of their project. During Independent Study, students pick something that they are passionate about. Then they create checkpoints, resources and a final product all on their own.

Here is a look at a few of the Everest Independent Study projects:

Everest junior Shivani Patel (above left) and senior Katie Takemoto (above right) created art as part of the Independent Study program at Everest. They put photo portraits all over the staff lounge walls. Takemoto said, “We recreated makeup and fashion trends from the decades and photographed them.”

Below is a slideshow of Patel and Takemoto’s fashion photography:

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David Nathan Twersky, a sophomore at Everest, studied for the AP Calculus BC test by looking over the material and then taking the exam. He said, “We went through course material, read the summary, worked with seniors on the topic, took the test and are waiting for the results.”


Nico Levy, a freshmen at Everest, wrote the school mission statement in calligraphy as his final product for his Independent Study. “I wrote the school mission in calligraphy and put a frame around it,” he explained. 

 Staff Writers Alfredo Lanuza and Mako Oshiro contributed to this article. 

Expeditions experiences help students explore their futures

By Teresa Faasolo

Staff Writer

Students from Everest Public High School spent the last few weeks of school in their Expeditions classes, where they explored their interests on a personal and professional level. At the end of the year, students showcased their learning to parents and school staff at an event called Celebration of Learning. Here’s some insight from students who chose to work to further their education and their future.

Education Pathways

Education Pathways educates students about some particular flaws within the educational system, as seen through the eyes of an educator. Students visited schools, watched educational videos and sat through lectures about multiple subjects that could pop up as flaws within the educational system. They also learned teaching techniques.

For Celebration of Learning, students in the Education Pathways course presented about their experiences in the time they spent within the course.


Through a TED Talk, Everest freshman Lindsey Pulido learned about how “Self Love” can boost people’s self-esteem.


Everest freshman Vanessa Castro learned about the ZPD (also known as Zone of Proximal Development). She stated that it was about “the difference between what a learner can do without help and what they can do with help.”


Everest freshman Ximena Bustamante presents her poster summarizing her experience at Garfield, where she went to help out elementary teachers. She was able to learn the basics of teaching and was able to spend time with the kids.


College Readiness

In College Readiness Expeditions course, juniors study and research several colleges that fit into the following four categories: financial safety, likely, target and reach. These four categories help determine their chances for admission and their goals to improve either their grades or their half-built resumes for future college applications. Students are also educated about different financial strategies to pay for college. They learn about loans, grants, scholarships and work study.

Each student is encouraged to pursue higher education in order to better their chances of receiving higher pay and finding a fulfilling personal career. Therefore, they make their decisions about how many colleges they want to apply to and they adjust their choices to their preferences in areas such as student population, location and student services. Mainly, this Expeditions course provides a head start on college applications and essays that students must complete in their senior year.

During Celebration of Learning, students presented their selected colleges and all the information that they gathered over the course. Parents were able to see the colleges that their children are interested in, and students demonstrated that they will be able to create future plans to set them on a good path.


College Readiness students created portfolios describing which schools they want to apply to and why those schools are a good fit. PHOTO CREDIT: Shawn Wilson

Sociology of Law

Students in the Sociology of Law Expeditions course are educated about current events that are associated with politics and social science. They dive deep into the subject of law and discuss how to handle certain situations with law enforcement, as well as educating themselves about their basic human rights. Furthermore, students learn more about other social issues.

For Celebration of Learning, students had a Socratic seminar where they discussed their experiences and debated social issues. Parents were able to join the discussion, as they could learn from the experience in a similar way to how students were educated about the subject over the school year.

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Parents and students participate in a Socratic seminar for the Sociology of Law course. PHOTO CREDITS: Jesus Yepez



Everest sophomore Bella Gutierrez PHOTO CREDIT: Jesus Yepez

“You would think that law class is really boring, but Ms. Thiele makes it interactive. She makes us watch documentaries about a current topic that we are talking about and makes us discuss it as a group. She also makes sure that it is a full class participation and that no one is left out,” Everest sophomore Bella Gutierrez, who serves as a TA for the course, explained. 

“Ms. Thiele teaches us how to protect ourselves in case of any interactions with law enforcement and also as young adults knowing the law and different social issues we need to know about. She also teaches us around basic human rights so we never have them taken away.”



Staff Writers Shawn Wilson and Jesus Yepez contributed to this report. 





Technology shines at the Celebration of Learning

By Madison Chamness

Staff Writer

Technology is everywhere, entwined in almost every aspect of our daily lives. At Summit Public Schools, students realize the immediate future of using technology in most professions. Students use Chromebooks as valuable learning tools to build professional skills. The Expeditions classes featuring technology also show the creative side of this ever-growing industry.

Digital Storytelling

In Digital Storytelling, students learned how to create a website. Expeditions teacher Mark Wieser explained, “The websites are supposed to represent what their passions are and show different kinds of technological skills they have studied. Many of them were able to do this in a creative way that I think will reach many people who see the presentation.” Students showcased their websites during the Celebration of Learning, and the sites were a big hit with the families and friends who attended the event.

Students reported that they enjoyed the class. Everest freshman Jonny Suchite said, “My favorite part is when I walk in, I have this sensation as I wanna learn about this topic.” His website is featured in the slideshow below, along with the site created by Everest freshman Amelia Friedman.


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Being able to show their passions in creative ways is not an opportunity many get during their school experience; however, Lesley Sabas, an Everest freshman who also takes Digital Storytelling, said, “We get to pick our pictures and edit them however we like, which is fun.” The video she made for the class was on teen drug abuse; you can watch the video here.

3-D Printing and Audio Production

Two additional Expeditions courses, 3-D Printing and Audio Production, provided students with opportunities to practice using technology in creative ways.

In the 3-D Printing Expeditions class, students learned how to use 3-D printers and laser cutters properly. “We got to use a laser cutter, which was super cool, and we were able to make it into anything we wanted,” Everest freshman Marleth Jacobo said.

For their Celebration of Learning project, students made a zoetrope, which is an animation tool that creates an illusion of motion.


Students in the 3-D Printing course made zoetropes. PHOTO CREDIT: Shawn Wilson

The process of 3-D printing involves turning the whole object into thousands of tiny little slices, then making it from the bottom-up, slice by slice. These small layers stick together to form a solid object.

Sometimes, technology is considered to quell creativity, but these Expeditions courses proved to all who visited the Celebration of Learning event at Everest that technology can be a powerful tool for enhancing creativity.

While visitors were walking through the Celebration of Learning hallway displays, they not only got to enjoy students’ excellent work but also got to hear music that was created by students in the Audio Production course. Students’ music was pumped through the school’s loudspeakers. In the video below, the Audio Production teacher demonstrates how to use some of the technology that students used to create their beats.


The Audio Production instructor provides a demo. VIDEO CREDIT: Shawn Wilson

Students show creativity in Expeditions

By Shawn Wilson

Staff Writer

Art is all about expression and personality, something the students taking arts Expeditions courses at Everest Public High School showed during Everest’s Celebration of Learning.

Visual Arts

Students in the Visual Arts course were tasked with creating art pieces that represented themselves and their own interpretation of an image.

The students all created a picture of a unique eye, with various other elements such as the eye’s reflection showing an image or creative choices with its overall shape. Everest sophomore Samantha Suchite said her art teacher “told us to make it


Everest sophomore Samantha Suchite PHOTO CREDIT: Cameron Eberle

what we perceive, what our interests are. For instance, mine is focused on nature – that’s what I like.” Her picture takes pieces of nature and incorporates them into an eye, such as the lacrimal caruncle (the small pink flesh close to the nose) being hooked to look like a bird’s beak and the eyebrow growing into trees.




An eye, inspired by nature, drawn by Samantha Suchite PHOTO CREDIT: Shawn Wilson


Students from the Arts Expeditions course showcased some of their drawings on the main Everest staircase. PHOTO CREDIT: Cameron Eberle

Rock Band

Rock Band is an Expeditions course at the Riekes Center. It educates students wanting to learn or improve their music skills through the help of musically skilled teachers. For Celebration of Learning, Rock Band instructors allowed students to practice their new found skills by performing in front of different-sized audiences. The students built their piece off a cover of a song and showcased their ability to have fun while performing.

Everest freshman Mako Oshiro said that students in the class “learn to play music and get to choose songs.” Students develop and practice their musical skills in this class and even reignite old passions. Everest sophomore Rojo Mendoza said, “I love Rock Band. I used to play drums, and then I stopped playing. Then, Rock Band helped me pick it up again, and that was such an awesome thing to do for me.”

Students who took the Rock Band Expeditions course performed in the main lobby at the start of the Celebration of Learning and then moved out back as the crowd got ready for Everest’s award ceremony. See below for clips of their performances. VIDEO CREDITS: Teresa Faasolo



Creative Writing

Creative Writing is offered at Everest Public High School as an Expeditions class in which students can express themselves through multiple ways, including poems. Students make poems using figurative language and then present those poems to an audience. It is a place where students can show off their writing capabilities.

For the Celebration of Learning, the class put on a Poetry Slam, which is a spoken word competition. Everest freshmen Kaitlyn Hutcheson (below left) and Carmela Bello (below right) won first place.

Hutcheson said that her poem is “based off of music and how it is connected to me – and how, even in hard times in my life, I can always go to music because I feel like it understands me.” Bello said her poem is about “forgiving people” and learning to “not let others bring you down.”

Everest senior Madilyn Middlebrooks performs during the Celebration of Learning Poetry Slam. VIDEO CREDIT: Jose Luiz Sarabia

Madilyn Middlebrooks, a graduating Everest senior, performed a piece about what it means to be beautiful in society today and what we can do to break the stereotype. She feels that “in American society there is only one beauty standard. I wanted to tell people there is so much more to being beautiful than our outward appearance.”


Everest senior Sierra Sholes performs during the Celebration of Learning Poetry Slam. VIDEO CREDIT: Jose Luiz Sarabia

Everest graduating senior Sierra Sholes wrote her poem about a giant, explaining that’s “what was in my head” at the time.

Staff Writers Cameron Eberle, Teresa Faasolo and Jose Luiz Sarabia contributed to this report.

Summit Prep means community to me

By Daneyah Penisini

Staff Writer

My community is Summit Preparatory Charter High school, and it’s something I could not live without as it made me who I am. Summit Prep is very vibrant even though it’s small; however, as they say, great things come in small packages.

Diversity among ethnic students and Expeditions courses. A great feeling of connection to those around you through a bond. A sense of unity as they have worked together to finish anything and most importantly, being able to be a part of a family. That is what community means to me.

My mentor group is a part of my community, and it’s what brought me here to Summit Prep. When first arriving, I had initially thought a mentor group was sort of like a counseling group, but instead I was introduced to what felt like a small family.

“I think the mentor group idea is really cool,” Michelle Moore, a freshman at Summit Prep, said. “We get to have our own little family because we’re with them for four years of our life, which gives us a lot of time to get to know each other. That’s like, wow.”

Moore describes her mentor group as a “second family” from how some of the students have similar tastes to how they choose certain topics to discuss. She stated she felt as though she had “magically found” people like her. Lucky right?

Well, not exactly.

It wasn’t magic or luck that helped her find “her people” as some students here believe when they find someone in their mentor group similar like them. Apparently, Summit Prep looks through a student’s past record and places them in groups that best fit them. They analyze each student and mentor and group them based on how the mentor can help the students progress and improve in day-to-day life until graduation.

That might seem like a long time, but time flies by fast when you’re with people similar to you.

“It’s something that is very different from other high schools,’’ notes Michael Green, a mentor and educator at Summit Prep.

“They care more so about how the student is doing as a person outside the academics and I think that’s seeing through our mentor groups roles. Just making sure that each student feels like they are actually secure here and safe here and that they can learn.”

Green continued, sharing that his own high school had required the students to seek out the help. He stated it was “nerve-racking” when talking about personal things whereas Summit Prep “invites” you to talk with your mentor group, which makes it easier and more efficient.

I couldn’t help but feel grateful for the opportunity to be a part of this wonderful community. The first time the entire group was brought together, there wasn’t much to say to anyone. We were all new and shy, but it quickly changed after our mentor group had worked together to take home the victory of the Summit Prep Mentor Olympics during Summit Prep’s annual camping trip.

Each mentor group participates in the Olympics where spirit and determination all help a group win the prize, which is known as the “Trophy Torch.” In spite of the rumors of seniors winning each year, that didn’t stop our group from taking home the victory.

Another surprising turn of events is that I had the pleasure of experiencing the relationship athletes had with one another. When joining the basketball team, I felt distant from everyone else until we began to have conversations and created a chemistry that not only allowed us to bond on the court, but off of the court as well.

For me, I was nervous because I didn’t know many of the girls at the time and I expected this to be a very strict team. However, I was once again proven wrong when I realized the coach, Ian Jordan, was a very humorous leader who had no problem with laughing and correcting the girls in practice or in the games.


Summit Preparatory’s Varsity basketball girls pose before the Summit School’s Tournament.

Kayla Sierra, a Summit Prep junior, said, “I got to connect more with my teammates since we had some things in common. I think it’s because they’re people like me ’cause they’re athletic and they like to talk about things I like to talk about, so it kinda gave me a leg up to make friends.”

I agree with her on how sports helped me make friends with my fellow teammates. I made friends with upperclassmen and with my fellow freshmen on the team, which gave me an opportunity to get to know them in school or at practice. Sure, the difficulty of the sport had a toll on us at practice, in games or at school, but we would manage through together.

Sports helped me not only make a connection with people at my school, but also with my education. Since I loved being there with my teammates as well as practicing with them, it gave me another reason to try hard in school. I remember once when many of our teammates faced prohibition from playing in a game against our rival from another school due to having incomplete assignments. But, they muscled through it and managed to complete it just in time for game day, even though I myself could not play due to a knee injury. What terrible timing. But our Summit Prep girls won with flying colors that game.

All in all, Summit Prep is my definition of a community. Everything within arm’s reach for me and fellow students who either I can help or who can help me. Diversity among its students, unity throughout the entire school and bonds with everyone. I wouldn’t trade this for the world.

High school dropout rates are falling, but the price is high

By CC Logan and Indigo Rossi

Staff Writers

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the high school dropout rate has been steadily decreasing since the 1990’s, and, as of 2014, was at the quite low 6.5 percent. However, this isn’t always a good thing if education quality is sacrificed.

In a report by, an organization dedicated to creating educational opportunities, a study in 2007 found that high school dropouts make $9,200 less per year and $375,000 less over the course of their lives than high school graduates. It is clear getting a high school diploma significantly betters the lives of the people who obtain them.

Many schools prevent students from dropping out in the right way. According to an article by, a site created by the George Lucas Educational Foundation, getting parents involved in their students’ education and connecting classes to the real world are just a few of the effective strategies that keep kids in schools.


Mary Beth Thompson served as the dean of students for tenth and eleventh grade students during the 2016-17 school year. 

Summit Preparatory Charter High School is a school with less than 1 percent of students dropping out, Summit Prep Executive Director Penelope Pak McMillan as stated in an email. According to Mary Beth Thompson, dean of students for the tenth and eleventh grade, one of their main strategies at Summit Prep is to have interventions. Dean Thompson said interventions are done with parents, peers, teachers, mentors and other people who have gone through similar situations.  This shows that personal bonds and special personalized attention keep kids in school.

All these examples and more show that educators in recent years have made a positive push to keep kids in school, and, with the continuation of these strategies, more kids will continue to graduate.

However, for some schools and states, their lower dropout rate comes with a lower quality of education. In a Los Angeles Times article, it was stated, “The California Department of Education reported a rise in the statewide graduation rate, to 82 percent. But one reason for that was the cancellation of the high school exit exam, which used to be required for graduation and which students could pass only if they had attained a modicum of understanding of Algebra and English skills.”

The article also stated Texas schools will allow students to participate in homeschooling or alternative methods of education without checking if they are actually getting this education. Part of the reason for these tactics is the creation of an act called Every Student Succeeds, which replaced the No Child Left Behind Act and aimed to create equal opportunity for all students. This makes it so schools are accountable for new graduation rates that incentivizes schools to use cheap tactics to improve graduation rates.

In the NAEP, an assessment of seniors nationwide, it was found that fewer than 40 percent were actually ready for college-level work in 2013. A huge purpose of high school it to prepare students to be successful later on in life; college is a huge part of that, and schools are failing more than 60 percent of students.

An example of this is the Berea High School in Greenville, S.C. The New York Times found that in four years their graduation rate has jumped from 65 percent to 80 percent. However, according to the ACT college entrance exam, only one-tenth of the eleventh graders were ready for college level work and only one-fourteenth were ready for entry-level math.

This is a clear case of quantity over quality. It is not better to have fewer students graduate, but those that do should be prepared for college and the real world. While having higher graduation rates is undoubtedly good, we need to take a long hard look at how we achieve them.

Members give a look into an unknown but tight-knit community

By Shawn Wilson

Staff Writer

The crowd leans forward in their seats. Waiting in anticipation, with bated breath, as the game’s conclusion creeps closer. A final play is met with a chorus of cheers as the champion leaps into the air, the rush of exhilaration and adrenaline released as pure emotion.

Your thoughts might spring to basketball or football, perhaps even tennis or volleyball, although very few people (prior to reading this article’s title) would have thought the words above describe e-sports, specifically the Super Smash Brothers community. “Well,” your next thought may be, “What is the Smash community?”


Smash club sweatshirt, referencing Smash 64’s release date. PHOTO CREDIT: Shawn Wilson

The very first Super Smash Bros game was released in 1999 for the Nintendo 64 console, and since then its community has drastically grown; large tournaments today boast upwards of 3,000 attendees. While only three subsequent games have been released since then, the Smash community’s longevity indicates a strong bond among fans of the game.

One chief cause of the Smash community’s lifespan is the people in the community itself, their determination has lifted up the community since its birth. Even in the face of animosity from the company that created the Smash Brothers series, the community has grown and thrived for over a decade.

Many other popular fighting games have support from the companies that made them; for example, the famous series Street Fighter has a professional tour put on by developer Capcom. However, Nintendo, publisher of the Super Smash Bros series, rarely if ever hosts or sponsors tournaments.

When it was created, Smash Brothers was intended to be a party game. Nintendo, in an attempt to preserve that intent, distances itself from the competitive aspect of the game even to the point where it is speculated that the popular fan mod Project M was shut down by Nintendo because it is geared toward competition.

Despite a lack of big support, the once grassroots Smash community has evolved into the e-sports powerhouse it is today. It is currently the only series to have two of its titles played at the esteemed tournament Evolution Championship Series (EVO)not only in 2015, but also in 2016 and 2017.

Even in an e-sports community where winning can seem the ultimate goal, it is important to understand how the relationships between players and the welcoming atmosphere helps the community thrive.

Kevin Kim

Kevin Kim, local Smash community member and club leader. PHOTO CREDIT: Kevin Kim

When asked about the first Smash Brothers tournament he attended, Kevin Kim, a player in my local Smash community, replied that it was “a little intimidating at first, because there were so many people and it was very crowded. But once I ended up sitting down and playing, I was able to relax,” adding that he able to make a lot of friends. He also described how the Smash Club at his school provides a “chill environment” and “a place
of relaxation, a place to get away from stress.”


Joshua Ching, local Smash community member. PHOTO CREDIT: Joshua Ching

Joshua Ching, another player from my local community, expressed that his first tournament experience was a positive one, saying, “It was great!” prior to recalling the “nice people” who attended and the enjoyable experience overall.

An environment where people feel accepted quickly and are even able to relax on the first day of joining is a hallmark of the Smash community. At the first tournament I attended, which had upwards of 150 entrants, I was encouraged that people I had never met before were friendly and even humble.

Although I was the youngest person in the whole venue (being only 14 at the time), I was praised by someone roughly 1.5 times my age for a combo I had discovered in the game, and even after suffering losses, my competitors commended my strengths while helpfully pointing out areas of growth. Smash tournaments commonly have an encouraging mood, and they are one of the few times I feel as if I have equal status with adults, as opposed to being viewed as subordinate.

Not only is the Smash community friendly and accepting, but the players who constitute it create strong bonds with each other, which largely contribute to its appeal. Members of my local community have created new friendships through tournaments and the game in general, and they enjoy the sense of community that Smash brings.


Owen Kerr, local Smash community member, plays Super Smash Bros Melee. PHOTO CREDIT: Mason Chappelle

Owen Kerr, a member of my local community, said, “A lot of my friends and I have bonded and became closer through Smash; it’s a fun thing that we can all do together.” He added, “It’s really its own community that just love to have a great time together.”

Ching expressed that participating in tournaments “helps not only my gaming skill but also my people skills,” and Kim said that the Smash community has “without a doubt, helped me create new relationships and strengthen older ones.” He added that he’s met many friends in the Smash community. “They are undoubtedly some of the best people I know.”

Although video games are often seen as antisocial, the Smash community is the opposite of that; tournaments help develop social skills, as well as creating a very amiable and connected environment for people to enjoy with friends.

One of my favorite things about the community is how it manages to be competitive and low stress at the same time. I have enjoyed playing baseball since I was only four years old, although the older I get the more competitive it becomes, which has led me to enjoy it less and less over the years. However, after a Smash tournament, regardless of the result, I always feel as if I have enjoyed myself; I don’t feel a pressure to constantly improve in order to have a good time.

When asked to describe the Smash community in three words, interviewees responded by calling it “competitive,” but also “fun, easy going,” “collaborative” and welcoming.” It hits a magical sweet spot where it is fun for both casual and serious players, while also managing to be both competitive and low stress.

Additionally, the Smash community has given and continues to give back by supporting organizations such as the Breast Cancer Research Foundation and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

In 2013, the previously mentioned prestigious tournament EVO hosted a contest in which fans of several games, including Super Smash Brothers Melee, were challenged to raise money to support the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, with the group that raised the most money having their game featured at the tournament.

After fundraising ceased, Smash Brothers fans had raised the most of the $225,744 total, with $94,683 in donations, all of which went to support the fight against breast cancer. While this money was raised in order to achieve a goal as opposed to pure generosity, the Smash community still steps up and gives aid to important causes even without having an incentive.

St. Jude

One of many St. Jude buildings, the organization supported by Smash The Record. PHOTO CREDIT: Flickr

For the past three years, a tournament called Smash The Record has been run with giving back as its only goal. The tournament is very casual and fun, without any prize money for placing well. A donation drive is run for 72 straight hours during the tournament, and all money raised goes to support St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. In the three years it has been run, the event has raised over $115,000 for St. Jude.

So what is the Smash community? It is a community that brings people together, develops bonds between friends while also creating new ones, fosters friendly competition and helps support important issues.

Kerr summed up the community artfully: “We are all there to bond over this game we love. We are all there to meet new people. We are all there to have fun and be a part of the community. Your Smash community knows who you are – you can make a name for yourself, you can make friends and build your connections. It isn’t about winning, or being the best, but to have fun. That’s why we spend weeks planning local tournaments and why we attend these events thrown together by fellow Smashers; it’s because we’re just friends.”

Featured image (at top of post): Everest Public High School hosted a Smash tournament, planned and run by the community. PHOTO CREDIT: Spencer Maples

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