Author Archives: elizainsley

Seniors use final Expeditions to explore future careers

By Jon Garvin and Eliza Insley


Expeditions gives students a chance to explore areas of interest to help students find their true passions. During Summit Prep seniors’ final year, they are taking this opportunity to begin pursuing possible future careers through internship and independent study. 

According to Melissa Thiriez, the supervisor of internships and independent studies, 96 students from Summit Prep are enrolled in an independent study or internship. 

An internship or independent study is a path offered within Summit Expeditions. It allows students to choose a possible passion and explore it further. 

An independent study course is an opportunity where a student, or group of students, chooses something they are interested in. They then make a contract with a plan and complete projects to learn more about their subject. They also have a supervisor to oversee that they are on-task. 

Summit Prep senior Will Hill knows exactly what he wants to do: work on cars. As an intern at European Motors, he says he works on anything “from a basic oil change to rebuilding your entire engine if you need.”


Summit Prep senior Will Hill

When asked why he chose to intern there, Hill responded, “It’s my passion. It’s probably what I’m going to do for the rest of my life, just working on cars and making them go faster, making people happy.”

Another Summit Prep senior took a similar interest in working with cars: Jorge Zamora took an internship at a hot rod fabrication shop. 


Summit Prep senior Jorge Zamora

Zamora said, “I chose this internship because I am interested in fabrication and anything mechanical to do with cars … I work there, so I decided to, might as well, make my own little projects as I work there.”

Zamora explained his internship ranges from cleaning up around the shop to changing oil to pulling motors out of cars. When asked why he chose this, he explained, “I chose internships over Expedition classes just because internships let me get out into the world and actually let me see how jobs are and what I want to do later on.”

Summit Prep senior Lily Yuriar decided to partake in designing and producing this year’s yearbook as her independent study. She collaborates with four other seniors to reach their goal of publishing and selling the yearbook.


Summit Prep senior Lily Yuriar

Yuriar said, “We’ve seen kind of similarities between the different themes in past years and want to make it different and bring more of the feedback from students who have been here for more than a year and get what they want to see more in the yearbook.” 

Yuriar explained that she is interested in multimedia and thought it would be a fun project to work on. She can see herself using skills she’s been learning in her future education and career paths.

Some seniors chose internships not specifically because those jobs are their desired career, but because they are interested in developing the skills associated with the job. 


Summit Prep senior Marvin Vasquez

Marvin Vasquez, a Summit Prep senior, interns at the gym Obstacouse Fitness. He described his role as organizing and supervising classes, creating workout plans and helping people with their form. 

Vasquez chose to intern there because he felt it would be a good opportunity to grow his people skills. Vasquez wants to pursue a career in medicine and thinks building his people skills will help him with patients in the future. 

Another Summit Prep senior working on real-world skills is Alana King. She is interning for Expeditions Director Lucretia Witte.


Summit Prep senior Alana King

King has her own interns as well, supervising another senior and a junior, helping Ms. Witte out with organizing paperwork and making her role as Expeditions Director easier by doing some of the more tedious work. 

King said, “When I actually do get a real job, it’ll be good to have these leadership skills under my belt.”

The demographics of thrift shoppers have shifted in the past decade

By Jon Garvin and Eliza Insley

Prep Editors-in-Chief

Throughout the past decade, thrifting has transitioned from being a way to buy affordable clothes into a trend for young people to buy vintage and hip clothing. This new trend brings about lots of environmental benefits since it involves recycling clothes.

Thrifting has become a very prominent trend in pop culture. It can be seen all over YouTube as creators such as Emma Chamberlain highlight clothes she bought on her latest “thrift haul.” Channels such as PAQ and NAYVA often have “thrifting challenges.” The trend is also seen throughout Twitter, Instagram and other forms of social media.

Young people often see their social media icons thrift and feel the urge to participate in this new, hip trend. Thrift shops carry a variety of donated clothes that people can find trendy.

Jaeda Chin is a senior at Summit Prep and an avid thrifter. Chin goes thrifting often: “That’s basically my only form of shopping.” Chin begin thrifting her sophomore year.

Summit Prep junior Lily Yuriar is also a thrifter. Yuriar explained that she has never really thought about thrifting as trendy or eco-friendly; it’s just something she has been doing her whole life because it is simply cheaper and more convenient. Yuriar elaborated by saying, “I look for plain T-shirts that would be $30 elsewhere and $2 at the thrift store.”

The thrift scene in San Francisco is booming with different niche shops throughout the city such as Held Over, Buffalo Exchange and Wasteland.

Held Over is a decent-sized shop located on Haight Street. Caitlin, a retail assistant who asked not to share her last name, spoke about the change of demographic: “It’s been pretty consistent; I just think the demographic has become young.” She also added, “It is the oldest vintage store in San Francisco.”

Thrifting is also positive for the environment. This can be seen in an article published by Unwrinkling, which states: “Producing synthetic fibers like polyester requires lots of energy, as well as crude oil like petroleum; byproducts include toxic gases and chemicals. Sadly, pesticides used on most plants mean that even cotton and linen garments have a negative impact. Transportation-related pollution also decreases when clothing is re-used, as new clothes are much more likely to travel long distances before being sold than are their second-hand counterparts.”

This means that thrift stores are better than direct fashion retailers because they do not support the harmful processes other stores use to make clothes. Thrifting comes with many positive impacts such as decreasing pollution, decreasing energy use and decreasing toxic gas and chemical production.

Thrifting can also be a more socially conscious way to shop for clothes. Instead of spending money on clothes from fast fashion brands that might be unethically making their clothes or spending money supporting harmful practices, thrift store customers know directly where their money is going.

See the video below to learn more about thrifting and its history in the Bay Area:

Electrical box murals add character to Redwood City

By Jon Garvin, Eliza Insley and Kai Lock

Summit Prep Editors-in-Chief

Downtown Redwood City is an ever-growing hotspot for people of all ages to gather to go see movies, get food or attend city-wide events. The downtown area has become iconic for the bustling nightlife at places such as the Fox Theatre or the busy day crowd in the square near the history museum.

To add to the aesthetic of the area, many new tall buildings have been placed to add to the urbanized feel.


Marlon Yanes’ work can be found on this Whole Foods Market.

As in all cities, stop lights are accompanied by power boxes. The city took advantage of the power boxes to add an artistic feel to the city.

Walking through downtown Redwood City, there are electrical boxes scattered throughout the area. They are painted different colors and designs, done by different local artists. The murals vary from Redwood City landmarks to the artist’s specific painting style and trademarks.

In 2014, the town launched this project to increase the beauty of the city and to discourage graffiti on the electrical boxes. The project started with the 10 most graffitied boxes and has continued to the majority of the boxes in the city.


Marlon Yanes poses with one of his electrical box murals.

Marlon Yanes was one of the many artists who participated in this project. Yanes said, “I participated in the Chalk Festival, and I met Sheila from the Arts and Parks Department here in Redwood City. And then I was on the email, so I got an email for an open call for artists. So then I went ahead and applied.”

Yanes grew up in Redwood City and has done many projects within the Redwood City community and the surrounding area. He painted a mural on a Whole Foods Market in Redwood City, along with many paintings within business buildings.

For the powerbox project, Yanes painted two power boxes. He explained, “One of them is over by Wells Fargo on Broadway, right by the Redwood City sign. That one is my friend’s dog. That’s her companion and getting older. I talked to her and then decided to do something to immortalize her companion. Then she helped me paint it. That one was more for my friend.”


Marlon Yanes holds the dog who inspired his second electrical box mural.

He also talked about his other powerbox: “The other one is the courthouse dome.” Yanes painted the power boxes in the Summer of 2016: “It only took maybe two or three nights. I had to do it at night because I was working at day during the time so I had to do it at night.”

Yanes, along with many other artists, contributed to a beautiful art project by using their skills to re-design the power boxes. This project brought a little more color to the streets of Redwood city and overall contributed to the feeling the area has.

To see more info about the colorful power boxes around Redwood City, see the video below:


Adulting 101 explores wellness and adult responsibilities

By Jessica Esparza, Lucy Exley and Eliza Insley

Staff Writers 

Adulting 101 is a new Expeditions course this year that is taught by Zoe Marinkovich. The class’s purpose is to teach students skills that are needed in adult life: getting a job, starting a bank account, filing taxes, etc.

For their final project, they made Public Service Announcement videos to educate their fellow students about topics that ranged from how to avoid student loan debt to getting enough sleep. They also created posters to raise awareness of different wellness and safety factors.

Expeditions teacher Zoe Marinkovich explained this about the creation of the Adulting 101 course: “We asked…what is missing in Expeditions, and we got a lot of responses that said, ‘You know, I’m really worried about getting a job. I’m really worried about how to pay bills and how to pay taxes. I want to get my drivers license. We looked at all those responses, and I said: Alright, I will do my best to design a course that meets all those needs.”

See below for a video about the course:

Summit Prep teachers talk community

By Jessica Esparza, Jonathan Garvin, Eliza Insley and Kai Lock

Staff Writers

Summit Preparatory Charter High School is known for having a great sense of community, so we decided to find out how teachers keep the feeling of unity throughout their community.

One example of the way our school shows our community’s power and devotion to our school is School Beautification Day. Summit Prep students, parents and faculty come together to clean and decorate the school to better our learning environment. It helps build the community and creates bonds between students and teachers.

The teachers shared their varying experiences with Summit Prep’s system and how they try and positively affect their community beyond just special events.

Teachers at Summit Prep always try and stay a part of the school’s community and try to impact it in the most positive ways. Cady Ching, Summit Prep assistant director, talked to us about how she positively impacted Summit’s community. “ I just try to be ever-present, everywhere all the time so that people can find me if they need to talk to


Cady Ching, Summit Prep Assistant Director

me, and I like to lead by example – instead of always telling people to pick up trash, I just clean, so that when they see me cleaning they think, oh I should clean too.” She explains how leading by example can lead to a chain reaction of favorable actions. Ms. Ching said that by cleaning our school we can instill pride about our school and by encouraging others to participate in cleaning our school we can keep feeling proud about our school.

Ms. Ching, also talked about what she thought the hardest part about being a teacher was. “The most challenging part, you know, this is a charter school that works very, very hard to make sure you guys have access to all the opportunities you want to have in your life, so we wear a lot of different hats, meaning we do a lot of different things every single day to make sure that you have those opportunities.” She faces a new challenge every day, making her job not as easy as it looks. Ms. Ching stated, “I am a college counselor; I do discipline and I do all recruitment with all the shadow ambassadors and open houses.”

Though her job comes with a lot of difficulties, the joys of being a teacher make up for her hard days at school.  “I feel like the reason I’m in education is to work with youth, and I feel like there is a lot of power to that as well because we are all helping you access your power in this world and feel empowered to create change and make a difference, so that’s my favorite part.”    

David Tellez, a tenth grade history teacher, loves having a close relationship with his students. “The best part about being a teacher, I think, is the relationship building with students, because I interact with close to a 100 different personalities a day,


David Tellez, Summit Prep Modern World II Teacher

and I get to know the ins and outs of all of you, and that’s pretty cool.”

Mr. Tellez also reflected on the best part of teaching: “I also like seeing the light bulbs that seem to go off when you’re looking at an assessment and you realize, ‘Oh, that’s what it means.’ That’s pretty cool to see.”

In addition, Mr. Tellez described how he came to Summit Prep and joined the community. Mr. Tellez stated, “A best friend applied to Summit first, and she told me about it; we were working at the same school, she said, ‘Hey, you should try this out because our current school sucks,’ and I said, ‘Yeah, let’s try it out,’ and then I applied, and then got an interview and got hired that day.”

Summit Prep Dean of Students, Michael Green, always tries to stay involved in Summit Prep’s community. In his new position as dean, he has already taken great measures to better our community. Mr. Green said,  “Every Tuesday and Thursday I start my days off with check-ins with male students – those male students, some of which have been in trouble and some of which just have leadership problems. Really the first time I did it, I went into the classroom and they


Michael Green, Summit Prep Dean of Students

were like, ‘Am I in trouble?’ and I was, ‘No, you’re not in trouble.’ It was cool to have them in and talk to them about just life and just have them do it every Tuesday. The other thing that I’m starting is good culture phone calls every Friday. So to parents who are used to hearing that their students are doing bad things like they’re weeks at a time for doing really well like calling their parents just to say, ‘Hey, guess what your student’s been doing?’ This would be so much better, and I think that when you start to put those things at the forefront you can get parents that are more supportive; you get students who have been in trouble but that one phone call may feel so good that it makes them the other way.”

Mr. Green also talked about his journey to Summit Prep. “So now my journey and the role that I have students and school culture allows me to be all of that and like it’s cool to find a place that has all those things in one. So my journey you know has been very fulfilling more so than anything I’ve done in education so far. It’s been really exciting.” Ever since Green came to this community he has been so happy and really loves being here and doing everything that he really does enjoy.

Mr. Green has a lot of responsibility and he said, “There is a number of things, if you look at the title of the responsibility that my job, of course every week all school meetings, come into those like ‘ugh… here we go.’ Each week we really have to focus in on how we make that better and how do we not stop trying even though it’s tough. I think that the restorative conversations that we have between friends who you know normally you go to high school and you get into a beef with your friend and no one talks to you about it, but being able to just sit down and talk to students about resolving conflict and having conversations, I think that’s impactful.”


Gretchen Oorthuys, Summit Prep Resource Specialist

Gretchen Oorthuys, a Summit Prep tenth grade mentor and resource specialist, elaborated on what the Summit Prep community means to her. Ms. Oorthuys said,  “I think the Summit community is about identifying challenges and then finding strategies to overcome them. And I think the Summit community is about mutual support. I think that is true between the teachers, and I know that it is true between the students because I see you guys supporting each other all the time.”

Ms. Oorthuys feels that she plays a big role in helping the community become closer through helping people interact with others outside of their comfort zone. She thinks that lots of times students only interact with their friends and people that they are close with, and she wants to push people to interact with and get to know peers who they aren’t as close with to further strengthen the community.

She also feels that although Summit Prep’s community is bigger than she is, she also believes that it is part of her job and responsibility to maintain a strong, healthy culture at Summit Prep, and she is very proud of how far the community has come. Ms. Oorthuys said, “I know that everyone is trying their best and is really engaging with things. I think it would be a lie to say that you guys don’t care, and that’s the most important part; that’s 95 percent of the battle. I’m always proud of you guys, and I’m always proud of the people that I work with; I know they all care.”

Here is a slideshow of the Summit Prep faculty in action:

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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. 

Women still remain underrepresented in STEM

By Eliza Insley

Staff Writer

Although in the past decade there has been a rapid increase in women enrolling in STEM programs, there is still the looming shadow of sexism.

In 2009, only 24 percent of STEM positions were held by women, according to a study done by the U.S. Department of Commerce. The study suggests this is because of a lack of female role models, as well as gender stereotyping and workplace biases that create an unwelcome environment.Screenshot 2017-03-02 at 11.32.19 AM

Gender stereotypes, such as the idea that women are the weaker gender, are accepted as young as six years old. According to an article from Associated Press: “As a result, believing they are not as gifted as boys, girls tend to shy away from demanding majors and fields, leading to big differences in aspirations and career choices between men and women. These stereotypes discourage women’s pursuit of many prestigious careers; that is, women are underrepresented in fields whose members cherish brilliance.”

Elementary school has a significant role in shaping how girls perform in math and science in high school. The slightest difference in the way teachers behave toward their students can affect how they view math and science.

Research from the National Bureau of Economic Research shows that some teachers assume boys just naturally excel at math and, therefore, grade their tests slightly more generously than they grade girls’ tests. Some teachers also take some boys’ rowdy and assertive nature as a sign that they are more enthusiastic for learning math, and the teachers then call on the boys more frequently. This could discourage girls from participating more actively.  

The American Association of University Women, AAUW, is a nonprofit organization that does a lot of work and research around gender stereotypes and especially around stereotypes and inequality in STEM.

This blog post on AAUW talks about how stereotypes affect girls’ performances in math: “Stereotype threat arises in situations where a negative stereotype is relevant to evaluating performance. A female student taking a math test experiences an extra cognitive and emotional burden of worry related to the stereotype that women are not good at math. A reference to this stereotype, even one as subtle as taking the test in a room of mostly men, can adversely affect her test performance. When the burden is removed, however, her performance will improve. Stereotype threat is one compelling explanation for why women remain underrepresented in STEM fields.”

STEM is becoming more and more valuable and relevant and, in many STEM fields, there has been an increase in women. According to this graphic from AAUW, there are substantially more women in Biological Sciences and Chemistry and Material Sciences.

Screenshot 2017-03-06 at 11.07.35 AM

Since 1990, the percentage of women in STEM fields such as Computer Science and Engineering has remained low. GRAPHIC CREDIT: AAUW 

However, Computer Science and Mathematics, as well as Engineering, are suffering greatly from a lack of women.

There has been a 9 percent decrease in women in Computer Science and Mathematics. Women only make up less than one-third of people in STEM jobs. The 9 percent decrease is a consequential blow to Computer Sciences, but many universities, such as the University of California at Berkeley have changed the way they teach and market the class. The redesign and re-marketing of the class wasn’t specifically targeted to gain more female representation, but the changes surprisingly attracted a large amount of female students to the usually male-dominated class.

Another reason there is an absence of women in the STEM fields is because of a lack of strong female role models in these fields.

Kene Nwosu is a substitute science teacher for ninth and tenth grade at Summit Preparatory Charter High School, covering for a teacher on maternity leave.


Kene Nwosu, Summit Prep substitute science teacher

When asked about how lack of female STEM role models is affecting today’s youth, Mr. Nwosu said, “When you don’t see representation of your kind, whether it be gender, race, manner of thinking, or religion, that could give you a sense that you don’t belong.”

Astrophysicist Dr. Elisa Quintana works at the Goddard Space Flight Center where she studies exoplanets and is working on TESS, Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, a program set to launch in 2018 to survey exoplanets.

Dr. Quintana grew up not even considering astrophysics until she was much older, unlike many of her peers who had known they wanted to pursue science from a young age, often because their parents were scientists.


Astrophysicist Dr. Elisa Quintana Photo Credit: Dr. Quintana’s blog, “Astrobio

“When I was in college at UC, San Diego, my physics adviser was former astronaut Sally Ride. She was very passionate about STEM outreach, especially for young girls. I also loved how she just exuded strength, I know she had to be strong to be among the first females selected for the astronaut program. She definitely had a large influence on my decisions to pursue a career in astrophysics,” Dr. Quintana stated in email. 

Women are extremely outnumbered in STEM fields, but there are many people working to change that, such as the AAUW. Making young girls feel that they would be accepted and welcomed into a field they are passionate about is a really important factor in getting more female representation in those fields. But what about actually getting hired for STEM jobs?

In the AAUW’s latest data report on STEM, they stated, “One study asked science faculty to evaluate résumés that were identical except for the candidates’ names. The researchers found that scientists were more likely to choose a male candidate over an identical female candidate for a hypothetical job opening at a lab. Both female and male scientists also offered a higher salary to the male candidate and were more willing to offer him

Screenshot 2017-03-06 at 11.17.46 AM

Research shows that women in STEM are often viewed as less desirable hires. GRAPHIC CREDIT: AAUW 

mentoring opportunities. In another study, potential employers systematically underestimated the mathematical performance of women compared with men, resulting in the hiring of lower-performing men over higher-performing women for mathematical work.”

This creates an unwelcoming environment for these women working in STEM, making them underestimate their own abilities, which could cause an overall decline in productivity and quality of work because they believe they are not as skilled or as smart as their male counterparts.

The stakes are high for women, who risk being left out of an important sector of the U.S. economy. James Brown, the executive director of the STEM Education Coalition in Washington, D.C., cited the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 2014 Spring Jobs Report to explain: “The future of the economy is in STEM, that’s where the jobs of tomorrow will be.”

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