Author Archives: jongarvin

Rock Band offers students an opportunity to learn music

By Jon Garvin

Prep Editor-in-Chief

Rock Band is an Expeditions course offered at Summit Prep in cooperation with the Riekes Center for Human Enhancement, a nonprofit organization that offers many programs for the community to take part in.  

Students enrolled in this course meet at the Riekes Center, which is located in North Fair Oaks, in close proximity to Summit Prep. Students are encouraged to learn about music theory, learn new instruments and have fun.

Walking through the class feels like something out of a movie. Students split into groups to use the many instruments the Riekes Center offers in order to learn and play songs together in a mini band. The instruments include piano, bass, guitar, drums, vocals and percussion.

Students pick a song from an array of options, some being “Halo” by Beyoncé, “Marry You” by Bruno Mars, “Wish I Knew You” by The Revivalists and many more. They then decide how the instruments get divided up and start teaching themselves and each other the songs.

The Riekes Center coordinators enter their sessions to help students where needed throughout the two-week Expeditions periods. At the end of the week, students perform for each other.

The Rock Band class helps students connect on a deeper level to something they already deem important: music. It gives the students tools and resources to either learn how to play an instrument or refine their skills on a new instrument.

While sitting in a group’s sessions, one would notice the initial meeting of the classmates, who vary from all different grades. The students would then start playing their instruments in order to get a feel of their new group. Then students would begin collaborating to figure out the best way to perform their song.

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Summit Prep junior Luke Desmarais

Students learn more than just how to play an instrument for a specific song. Summit Prep junior Luke Desmarais said, “I’ve learned how to read music and how to break it apart and break it down.”

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Summit Prep junior Matthew Tognotti

Students’ perception of music also changes due to the collaboration opportunities this course offers. Matthew Tognotti, a Summit Prep junior, said, “I see it as more of like a group effort. Like working together with other people to make music.”

Bennett Roth-Newell, the Music and Creative Arts Director at the Riekes Center, is one of the supervisors of this course. He said, “The structure of the class is mostly based on playing music with a group, getting familiar with playing an instrument and then how that instrument’s role functions in the entirety of an ensemble.”

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Riekes Center Music and Creative Arts Director Bennett Roth-Newell

Mr. Roth-Newell also said that a student’s main takeaway is getting a shot at experiencing playing music. He explained, “To me, it seems like a lot of students are getting their first or first few experiences of playing music and getting a chance to give this a shot or even getting exposed to it. [Had] they not had this in their Expeditions, maybe it wouldn’t’ve been part of their life at all.” He also said that his students are becoming more well-rounded individuals.

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Summit Prep sophomore Megan Mayo

Megan Mayo, a Summit Prep sophomore, has learned how to play bass during this course. Mayo said that a key takeaway she’s taken from this course is to “never give up. Even when you don’t know anything or like it’s really hard.”

The resilience Mayo spoke about is one quality that Mr. Roth-Newell said students interested in taking the course should have. He said, “Just be prepared to give the best effort that you can. Really that’s all that we could ask of a student to do. To try their hardest and while doing so continue to keep up the core cultural values of the Riekes Center where honest communication, self-supervision and sensitivity to others thrives throughout all the programs – not just music – but throughout all the programs we do here.”

See below for a video about the Rock Band course:

Food builds community

By Jon Garvin, Kai Lock, Ethan Sheppy, Skylar Peters and Malia Vaea

Staff Writers

Walking through Redwood City, you notice a bunch of smiling faces, people quickly getting from place to place, and, most importantly, many restaurants that have become a staple in the local community. These local restaurants have become a major factor in allowing Redwood City to come together as a community.

We decided to spotlight local restaurants in the city’s bustling downtown. We interviewed workers at restaurants such as Teaquation, Quinto Sol, Cafe la Tartine, Cyclismo Cafe and Green Leaf Bistro to answer the question: How have local Redwood City restaurants established themselves and built a community around their food?

Workers offered various perspectives on how difficult it was to build a community and different strategies for reaching out to the customers. For example, the manager of Quinto Sol, Jose Martinez, said he didn’t face many problems in building a community and that “the whole city welcomed us really well.”

Though building a sense of community around a local business can seem like a fun job, there are many struggles that come with the task. Restaurants can face many different types of obstacles related to community needs.

The co-owner of Cyclismo Cafe, Jihan Bayyari, had a lot to say about the difficulties she’s faced while working at her restaurant. Restaurants can face these difficulties because they try very hard to respond to customer feedback and constantly try to improve their sense of community.  

The manager of Green Leaf Bistro, Betty Gayez, has faced some problems involving the food. She stated, “For sure, I’d say not a crazy amount of struggle, but you have people coming in that are allergic to this and that and this and you have to make sure that we take care of these little things. We work on the products more and more so that next time we do work on a new menu, or update it, we make sure that these items are taken care of.”

Different restaurants also help host or contribute to various types of events. Mr. Martinez said that Quinto Sol impacts the community by “helping with every single thing that there is, like things at the plaza, with the community like Dia de Los Muertos and other festivities.”

Ms. Bayyari stated, “We host lots of different events. So everything from a community hike, we do a bike ride; we do bike swap meets; we do a paint night once a month. So hosting different community events is what makes people come and start to meet each other.”

Mercedes Mapua, the owner of Teaquation, has done different things with the community as well, such as working with non-profits. Ms. Mapua also added, “We’ve worked with a school as well. We have yet to [do] one this year yet, but hopefully soon. Definitely want to connect with the Redwood locals.”

After interviewing five local restaurants, we noticed how much pride and love they have for their community. They contribute in all the ways they can and help build the sense of community in Redwood City immensely. They positively affect our community by helping bring more and more people together. Together they build unity and pride within our city.

To experience the five different restaurants mentioned, check out our video here:

Click here to see a story map with all the featured restaurants.


Summit Prep offers a look into the human experience with Expeditions

By Jon Garvin

Staff Writer

Celebration of Learning is an annual showcase put together by the Expeditions team where students and parents come together to learn about the different courses. Students in the Anthropology, Ethnic Studies, Girl Rising and Human Sexuality classes explored different aspects of culture and the human experience. Here are some things they displayed at the Celebration of Learning:


Anthropology is a class taught by Noelle Easterday. “Anthropology is the study of human beings in the past and the present, hopefully looking towards the future,” she explained. For the annual Celebration of Learning, students created an Anthropology museum. “They’re curating their own museum of artifacts that they have chosen from their own life that they feel represent their culture,” Teacher Easterday said.

Here’s a look at some of the student exhibits:


Summit Prep freshman Kayla Mora explained the objects she chose: “It represents a lot of my culture. We like dogs, we love to have fun with board games and we use objects to represent our religion.”


Summit Prep freshman Gerardo Rodriguez also explained his choice in the objects he brought: “Instead of bringing something really big, they were simple.”

Here is a look at what other Anthropology students did:

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Ethnic Studies

Ethnic Studies is a class taught by upperclassmen at Summit Preparatory Charter High School. The purpose of the class is for students to learn more about themselves and about other people. This class covers history that isn’t taught in regular classes. Students talk about the media and current issues, discussing how the media portrays different people. 

The students’ last project consisted of a social experiment related to an issue that they saw in the world. Based on the results of that experiment, they proposed a way to fix that issue. For example, one student proposed that talking to people more about gay rights would improve how people in the LGBTQ community are treated. 

For their Celebration of Learning project, students picked an issue to research and explained why they chose that issue. Here’s a look at what they presented:


Summit Prep freshman Daniel Garcia said, “We’re working on LGBT rights because they aren’t receiving enough rights because of their sexual orientation.”



Summit Prep sophomores Vanessa Contreras and Alexa Vargas chose to research mass incarceration. Contreras said, “We picked the topic of mass incarceration because one in three black males get incarcerated.”

Here is a look at what other Ethnic Studies students researched:

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Girl Rising

Girl Rising is an Expeditions class in which female students learned about “feminist issues and the female body,” according to Cynthia Dubridge, a Summit Prep freshman. The students in the class presented videos on feminist issues, from female genital mutilation to sex trafficking. Anyone who identifies as female and is concerned about issues relating to their gender can join the class to learn more. 


The lineup of performances presented by students in the Girl Rising course shows the numerous issues that women face.


Summit Prep junior Denisse Fierro presented a short film titled “My Body No Shame.”

Human Sexuality

Human Sexuality is an Expeditions class taught by Lia Pinelli. In this class, students learn about sexuality, anatomy, sexual orientation, sexual identity, birth control and relationships. For their last project, students picked a topic they’ve learned about in class and created an educational video to teach other people about the topic. For the Celebration of Learning showcase, students created a presentation to talk to parents about sex and why they should talk to their kids about sex.


Summit Prep sophomore Tatiana Love and freshman Irene Valencia talk to parents about how parents should talk to their kids about sex.


Summit Prep freshman Victor Aguilar-Mendoza talks about sexual orientation.

Staff Writers Andrea Pena, Raul Martinez and Nicholas Reed contributed to this article.

President Trump’s travel ban affects Bay Area high school students

By Jon Garvin

Staff Writer

Xenophobia and anti-immigrant rhetoric were themes in Donald Trump’s campaign, and they continue to be topics of discussion as his administration progresses. Early in his term, President Trump and his administration put in place a temporary travel ban. According to the White House, President Trump released a ban on Jan. 27 to block citizens from Syria, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen in order to combat terrorism. On March 6, according to the New York Times, Trump exempted Iraq from the ban in part due to large protests at airports.

Many high school students in the Bay Area community were affected by the ban, and they have very strong opinions and emotions regarding the ban. The debate continues, as courts have blocked the bans, and they continue to inspire legal debate.

Here’s what members of the Bay Area community said when asked how the ban has affected them:


Anna Becker, a junior at Summit Preparatory Charter High School, shares her personal experience with refugees.


Left: Dina Bakour, a freshman at Carlmont High School, said, “Trump’s travel ban has affected me because people can’t enter the USA because of where they are from and their skin color. This makes me sad that not everyone in the world is equal.”

Right: Nicolette Bolich, a freshman at Notre Dame High School, said, “The travel ban has affected me because it makes me feel bad for the families who want to come to the U.S. to live a better life.”


Left: Bridget Britton, a freshman at Notre Dame, said, “The travel ban has affected me because it is racist and mean that he isn’t helping refugees, and he is being harsher on citizens from countries like Iran and Syria.”

Right: Dangelo Diaz, a freshman at Sequoia High School, said, “It hasn’t really affected me besides knowing that there will be less chance of terrorism in the U.S.”


Left: Angela Padilla, a senior at Summit Preparatory Charter High School, said, “It promotes a culture of intolerance against Islamic communities. As a person of color, that’s not something I support or want to see in our society.”

Right: Max Kolotinsky, a freshman at Kehillah Jewish High School, said, “It’s affected me by making me sad about how bad we can’t trust each other because of race and religion.”


Left: Jayden Hanan, a sophomore at Carlmont, said, “The travel ban has affected me because I think more people use this as an opportunity to be racist towards each other, which is wrong.”

Middle: Danielle Ellman, a freshman at St. Ignatius College Prep, said,  “The travel ban has affected me because I don’t agree with it, and it has opened my eyes to things I’m not aware of, like the inequality and unfair treatment of other countries.”

Right: Dara Cardona, a freshman at Summit Prep, said, “The travel ban has affected me because I know people who have come to the U.S. to live a better life, and I don’t think it’s fair for these countries to be restricted and not get a better life.”