Monthly Archives: September 2017

Young student athlete talks about his journey with basketball

By Jasmeet Kaur

Staff Writer

Jordan Fierro is a junior at Summit Public School: Tahoma. He loves to play basketball in his free time, and he shared his passion for the sport in an interview.

1. What sport do you play? 


Tahoma junior Jordan Fierro

“I love to play basketball.”

2. How long have you been playing basketball? Who got you into it? Who encouraged you along the way?

I’ve been playing since I was able to walk,” Fierro said. “My parents got me into it because they would always watch basketball with me on the TV. I started playing with my dad, and he always kept me going.”

3. How did you get into basketball?

“I got into basketball because I just liked watching NBA players play and playing with my friends. I grew up watching Allen Iverson, and I always loved how good he was at dribbling. I would practice dribbling with my dad, and I would play with my friends on our block.”

4. How has that sport helped you grow as a person?

“As a person, it helped me grow a lot because, like you know, I worked with the coaches, and they’re teaching me things, things I didn’t learn myself or didn’t know myself already. It made me learn how to work with a team, instead of doing things individually.”

5. Have you had any setbacks as a player?

“I think football was a setback for me,” Fierro said, “because I liked playing football more than basketball, and then over the years I started to like basketball more, so I feel like I lost a few years of practice I could’ve had, but it wasn’t really a setback. Basketball just made me stop or not like football anymore, or as much.”

6. How has that sport influenced how you interact with people?

“It makes it easier to interact with new people, you know? Because, like, you’re interacting with new players all the time. You see new players every game, so yea it’s your competition sometimes, so it’s like, ‘Yo, I don’t like you, you’re the competition,’ but at the same time it’s really not like that. It’s a friendly competition, so it helps with the outside world because you can go talk to somebody and not be shy.”

7. Do you think that playing on the court teaches you some morals that you cannot teach in a classroom? Why?

“I think yes, because teamwork makes the dream work, so, without the team, the dream won’t work. Teamwork plays a big factor in basketball. Your teachers can’t teach you how to work with people. In basketball, you kinda get brought together, winning games and losing games.”

8. How can you apply those morals in your life?

“I think teamwork helps me in life because it helps me talk to people I don’t know more easily,” Fierro said. “I can also adapt to working with people I don’t know in a classroom when the teacher puts us in groups to work. I think when I’m older and have a job this is going to help me because I need to able to work with people for almost any job.”

9. How do you adapt to new players on your team?

“I get along with almost everybody. I’m not a hard person to get along with because I know that in basketball to win, you have to work together. You don’t have to be friends with everyone. You just have to be able to work with them.”

10. Do you recommend this sport to others? Why?

“I recommend basketball to any player or anybody because basketball brings players together. Well, any sport brings players together because of teamwork. All sports, just play sports. It’s a good thing.”

Junior mentor describes her life at Tahoma

By Leah Harrington

Staff Writer

Audrey Hart is a junior mentor this year at Summit Public School: Tahoma. Each year she helps her students get their work done as soon as possible during PLT. That work includes projects and playlists, especially the ones that are overdue.

  1. What college did you go to?

I went to Syracuse University.”

Audrey Hart headshot

Tahoma junior mentor Audrey Hart

  1. What made you want to come to Tahoma?

I heard a lot of great things about Tahoma,” Ms. Hart said. “Especially the kids who go there.”

  1. Where did you live before you moved here to San Jose?

“I lived in New York,” Ms. Hart said. “For most of my life, until I came here to San Jose.”

  1. What jobs did you have before you came here into Tahoma as a teacher and mentor?

“I worked at a lumber mill, Starbucks and a harbor store.”

  1. Do you have any siblings or pets?

“Yes, I have four siblings,” Ms. Hart said. “They are three brothers and one sister. Two of them are younger, while one is older and my sister is younger.”

  1. If so, then how old are your siblings, and what kind of pets do you have?

My brother Brendan is 28; my brother Chaney is 21; my brother Peter is 17; and my sister Emma just turned 10,” Ms. Hart said. “I also have a chameleon named Chamillionaire and a family dog named Riley.”

  1. What job do you have here at Tahoma?

“I am a special ed teacher and an eleventh grade mentor,” Ms. Hart said, “but I used to be a tenth and ninth grade mentor last year and the year before.”

  1. What do you like to do for fun?

“I like to watch football and go camping.”

  1. What do you usually do in the weekends and other breaks from school?

“I usually go to Oregon with my family and watch football.”

Student offers thoughts on Advanced Acting course

By Jacob Kahn-Samuelson

Staff Writer

Han Dinh is a sophomore at Summit Tahoma who is currently in Modern Acting. Last year, she did Intro to Drama. She is looking forward to this year’s Expeditions course.

  1. What caused you to choose drama as your Expeditions course?

“I was in Intro to Drama last year, and I really enjoyed it,” Dinh said. “And ever since I was younger I really enjoyed acting; and I am a really expressive person; and I thought this was very nice; and they chose me to do it.

2. What do you do during the class itself?

Dinh said, “We have been doing monologues. And we had to audition to get into the class. We also have been doing warmups and been doing things like tongue twisters to get clear pronunciation.”

3. What were your expectations of what you would do? Have your expectations been met so far?

“To be honest, I didn’t expect it to go as fast a pace,” Dinh said. “There is a lot of doing instead writing.”

4. What have you learned so far in the drama Expeditions course?

“I have learned to clearly enunciate words and have seen lots of other people’s techniques for acting,” Dinh said.

5. What do you think could be improved in the drama Expeditions course

Dinh said, “I don’t know. Nothing comes to mind.”

6. What do you think is going well in the course?

“A lot of things – it’s very nice performing and seeing other people perform,” Dinh said.

7. Once you complete the class, do you plan on taking the more advanced class for Expeditions next year?

“I don’t think so. I would like to do other things besides drama,” Dinh said.

8. Are there any plays in particular you want to do? If yes, why do you want to do them?

Dinh said. “I don’t know; I don’t know many plays. But it would be nice to do a Disney play because I really like Disney.”

9. Do you have a favorite character you want to play? Why or why not?

“I want to play a character who I think is similar to me,” Dinh said.

10. Do you want to become an actress or do anything in show business when you are older? Why or why not?

“I don’t know it’s an option,” Dinh said. “It would be interesting, but it is a very difficult business – but it is definitely an option.”


Drama classes promote individuality and self-expression

Expeditions classes work together to make a community

Theater brings the world together

AP Language teacher examines how people read and write

By Vaibhav Gopal

Staff Writer 

Andrea Rivard teaches AP English Language at Summit Tahoma in San Jose.

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Tahoma English teacher Andrea Rivard

Every year, she rechecks her curriculum to make sure students achieve the grades they need to pass. This year, her class began by teaching students how to write an essay using rhetorical devices and by preparing the class for timed writes. Rivard is a mentor to students in the 11th grade, and she works to make her mentees happy. During Friday PLTs, she likes to interact with students and make funny jokes with them. During check-ins, she wants to make sure that students are having a good day at school.

  1. What are your mentor goals for this year?

“I hope to build a community for our group and acceptance for the group,” she said. “I want to make sure that my students stay on-track with everything. Also, I want students to have somebody to talk to.”

 2. How do the students in your mentor group react as a whole?

“I wish that my mentees would get along with each other all the time. I think that they tolerate each other most of the time. In my dream world, they would all be friends. That’s the goal I will work towards for during the end of senior year. I want everybody to be kind and take care of each other.”

3. Why is the mentor group laughing all the time?

“I mean, I tell jokes! Also our mentor group is split into a couple of different chunks of friends, so different groups of friends are laughing. Regardless, they are very chatty during 10-minute time.” 

 4. What strategies are you teaching as a teacher this year?

“I’m working to make sure that students are doing a lot of interaction with each other so we are going to try small-group discussions and small-group work,” Rivard said. “We will also be working on reading comprehension skills and strategies, especially reading the Gatsby book during our next project in AP English Language. In addition, I’m going to work with students on better selection of evidence.”

 5. What goals do you have as a teacher?

“As a teacher, I hope to create passionate, problem-solving, critical thinkers for the world. I want to make sure that every student has found a passion somewhere, which is something they love, and they know to work with people in that field and they know how to speak through the problems they solve. So that is why I became a teacher.”  

6. How are you liking your job as a teacher?

“I love my job!” she exclaimed. “I look forward to coming to school every single day! I love my mentor group and being able to see us and making sure that every student has a good day. I love coming to school and encouraging my students!”  

 7. What is the best part of being a teacher?

“Mentoring is the best part of teaching,” Rivard shared. “The reason why I like mentoring is because it is so challenging in the most exciting way to work with students individually and to be able to coach the students through really hard times. I like to celebrate with them when things are going well and be there when they have a hard time to cheer them up.”

 8. Why did you get interested in teaching?

Rivard explained, “I decided once I was in college that teaching is the right path for me because I would get to work with students in a way that I wouldn’t get in other jobs. In Summit, I get to work with the best people every day, and I get to make sure that students get something every day. I want to make sure that students are very successful and get into to a best-fit college.”


Sociology of Law teacher speaks on how diversity impacts the community

By Pauline Velazquez

Staff Writer 

Lissa Thiele is the Sociology of Law Expeditions teacher. She works at Summit Public Schools and is very close to her students. She bases her curriculum off current political events.

1. Would you consider the history curriculum at Summit to be diverse?

“From the Holocaust perspective, there have been some things that are great and some things that can be improved.”

2. How do you think a lack of diversity impacts students at Summit? How do you think the lack of diversity impacts students of color differently at Summit?

“What I think is that history has been written like his story, so whoever is in the culture of power at the time when the history books are written is who will be the most represented inside of the subject matter. The reason that for a long time we learned about how amazing Columbus was or how he should be celebrated … I think it does terrible damage to students to not understand what the missing voices are and history books do not explain it through that lens. When you’re a little kid starting to learn how to read … you’re reading about people who are not like you and so the damage that this does is you start adopting somebody else’s story, and if you’re adopting a white story and you are not white you are not going to know how to get through this life here. You will know somebody else’s story and you will think it’s your own until that community tells  you are not part of that community … so little kids are reading these (white written stories) and thinking that that is normal and it isn’t about them, so how do we expect them to get through life if they’re reading about somebody who they won’t ever be allowed into the community?”

3. On social media, when the issue has been brought up, there’s always a group of people who say, “This isn’t about America so it doesn’t matter.” Do you think students would benefit learning about different cultures apart from their own?

“We have to … this is not optional, I don’t believe it’s an option of either/or. They have to, we have to. We better start teaching like that too, if we are going to meet the students where the students are at the year 2042, white will be the minority.”

4. How do you think, in the long run, teaching children early on in their history courses about the different cultures in the world around them impact their outlook on themselves as they grow up?

“Basically, in order to prepare the youth for the tumultuous time … If we are preparing our students for life then we have to be making sure they are learning multiple perspectives because in the end … in order to help, instead of being part of the problem we need to be part of the solution. And the solution is to teach other people’s story and to look at it as if yes, it’s other but humanity is at the core of it. … You’re a unique contributor, every single person is, so if they are influenced by their peers … and if their peers reflect a diverse community, then they need to be able to reflect that as well.”

5. Why do you think, despite diversity in ethnicity rising, that multiculturalism in curriculum has not been implemented still to this day?

“Cause if you’re not living it then you’re not putting it up as a high priority, so if the teachers don’t reflect … the compositions of the students – some of it is not their fault it’s a career thing. Usually, people who have been teachers are usually white, middle-class women historically, and so it’s not Summit’s fault that that’s been the historic norm.”

6. What social impact do you think implementing diversity in education would cause?

“Well, I think there’s going to be a group that’s going to be resistant to it because it’s going to be the group that’s in the culture of power … there’s going to be a group who gets scared, and fear often times then makes people do bad things … they fight even harder for something before they’re able to let it go, but also I think that the benefits outweigh the cost of it.”

7. Many people might see changing the curriculum as “pushing” something onto them – how do you think this subject should be approached? Do you think this should be something optional or something that should be applied to all students?

“Nope, it must apply to all students, every student has the right to have an equal opportunity to education, and if a teacher is not at that place then they need to get to that place. It is not optional it is a requirement … part of the problem (is that) we were making it optional, and the people who opt in are those who are in the culture of power because they have nothing to lose … So no, it cannot be optional; it is mandatory and, not only that, but we need to demand it as a student body and as an educational institution.”

8. How do you think the idea of a culturally diverse curriculum being optional would impact the objective of education being more diverse and impact schools and students?

“I think even though I feel like it should be non-optional I think the first implementation level is through Expeditions … that is one excellent place to start.”

9. With the current events in mind, such as the removal of DACA and the proposed Muslim ban, do you think if there was an addition of cultural diversity in the history curriculum that there would be an increase in empathy and understanding in those who support the issues?

“Absolutely, I fully believe that … once you guys have heard other people say this affects me and this is how this affects me … then you will change your behavior to stop … at least we’re trying to get to this commonplace. I think personal stories have the ability to completely change our world. Listen to other stories and respect and appreciate that.”

History teacher defines his community

By Caitlin Quach

Staff Writer

Stuart Morris is the AP U.S. History teacher at Summit Public School: Rainier. He has been part of the Summit community for the last year and a half.


Stuart Morris, AP U.S. History Teacher at Summit Rainier

1. What is the first word that comes to mind when you hear the word “community”?
Mr. Morris feels that a group of people who have the same goal are the reason a community is a community. He thinks that for someone to reach their goal, they should have a support system behind them to accomplish that goal. “A group of people who seem to have a similar purpose for being together and people who try to help each other out in order for people to reach their goal [is a community],” Mr. Morris said. 

2. What do you think makes a community a community?
Mr. Morris argued that people who are in the same area and are able to provide support for one another can help each other reach their goal. “When people are benefiting from being in a similar space together and can be growing as a person instead of being on their own and working together to reach a higher level [that is a community],” Mr. Morris said.

3. How is the community here different from the one that you were raised in?
There are many differences between the community that he was raised in and the community that he lives in now. Mr. Morris feels that there is much more diversity here than where he used to live. There is much more open-mindedness here in comparison to the closed-minded community that he was raised in. For this reason, he prefers to be in the community that he’s in now than the one he was raised in because this community is able to help him grow as a person. “This community is able to push me out of my comfort zone and allows me to grow as a person along with my thoughts,” he said.

4. What is one major change that you see in this community compared to where you were raised?
Mr. Morris thinks that the diversity and open-mindedness here are the major differences that he sees. He is able to grasp onto a community that can help him grow as a person and expand his thoughts instead of constantly having a set way to think and do things. “People are much more willing to help each other out here than in the community that I was raised in,” he said.

5. How has your view changed on the community since moving to the Bay Area?
One thing that has changed was he was never presented with a more diverse group of people to be around until he came here. In the community that Mr. Morris was raised in, he constantly saw the same people and they always looked alike. He was always stuck with the same group of people who looked alike and who had the same thoughts as everyone else. “The first night here, I went to a party in San Francisco, and I was the only straight person there. It was so awesome and eye-opening to be around such a diverse group of people in my life,” Mr. Morris said.

6. What do you like most about the Rainier community?
He loves the closeness that the Rainier community brings. This community is about becoming better people and students getting into college. The community is so small that everyone is able to be close together and tight-knit and not spread out. “I love the goal that Summit has, which is that everyone will get into at least one college. That goal isn’t easy to accomplish, but we’ve proven that it’s possible,” he said.

7. Would you recommend someone to come here to teach / be a student? Why?
He agreed that he would recommend a person to come here, whether it’s as a teacher or a student. This school system allows students to have a harder time to fall through the cracks because of the one-on-one attention that students receive. The work here that teachers have to do in order to teach their lessons is cutting-edge. “Teachers put so much work into their lessons and are constantly being pushed in every other direction, but we’re able to get the work done. That just shows the determinations that teachers have, and I love it,” he said.

8. To an outsider’s point of view, Summit is very close. How do you think recent events such as (DACA) affect our community?
He said that the recent events such as DACA have highlighted who the issue has impacted the most. It helps the community realize that they are attached to a bigger community outside of the Rainier one. For instance, when the Trump election happened, it impacted our “little bubble” in such a major way. That ended up making students realize that they are affected by bigger issues. “That election allowed us to see that we are connected to a bigger community other than the Summit one. It shows the students that there are other people out there who are feeling the same way about things that they are,” he said.

9. How would you describe the relationship between Summit Rainier and Mt. Pleasant?
Mr. Morris feels that there is some tension between the relationship between Summit Rainier and Mt. Pleasant. It seems that Mt. Pleasant isn’t very inviting in comparison to the vibes and community at Summit Rainier. It seems like it’s very difficult for us to use their facilities such as the auditorium, he said, adding that they make our simple requests seem like major ones, and that’s what steers us away from interacting with them. “Such as the incident with the parking thing, they made it such a big deal. I think that’s why there’s tension because it seems like they’re not open to having us on their campus as much as we are open to having them on ours,” he said.

10. What makes the Summit community different from any other school community?
He said that a lot of school communities are based on a bigger number of student bodies when it comes to their campus. Other school wants a bigger campus to fit more students within their school community. Once the number of people increases, there seems to be a loss of a community. Another thing that’s different about our community from other schools is the fact that we have the mentoring system. This allows for students to receive that one-on-one attention that some students may end up needing. “The single best thing about Rainier is that they have the mentoring system,” Mr. Morris said.

Catering company helps the community

By Marvin Varela

Staff Writer

head shot of jose

Jose Pereznegron, president of the Peninsula catering company

Jose Pereznegron has been in the catering industry for 15 years. His company, Peninsula, delivers food to big events and parties to help people. He finds his passion by helping the members of his community through the means of catering. Mr. Pereznegron sees the lack of catering companies within the area as a problem for those who host large parties, and he saw an opportunity to fulfill a need for his community.

1. What is your role at the place you work at?

“My role is to be the president of the company,” he said. “I also make sure everyone is doing their job and not fooling around.”

2. What do you enjoy doing at your job?

“I enjoy what I do in my job,” he said, adding: “I really like sending food to people for events and parties because a lot of people don’t have money or time to buy food for the event.”

3. How do you contribute to your team?

“As the president of the company, I try to make sure that everyone is doing their job and completing work on-time.”

4. How do you get involved in the community with your job?

“I try to be a nice person and be helpful with my teammates,” he explained. “I give out food to events and parties because most people won’t have time or money to get a lot of food for a big event or party.”

5. What do you think about the changes to Redwood City?

“I think it’s going very good, but the rent is really expensive,” he said, adding: “With all this new technology, life is so much easier.”

6. What are your opinions with the rise of rent?

“I think we pay too much money to live here, and I hope later on it will go down.”

7. Would you rather live here or somewhere else?

“I prefer to live here because I really enjoy living here despite the rent cost.”

8. How do you think your business helps the community?

“I think I am helpful to this community because I send food to people for big events and parties,” he explained. “It can be challenging to get food for events and parties.”

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