Category Archives: Denali

Denali increases support in the arts

By Mark Haiko

Denali Multimedia Editor

Art is the use of skills in pursuit of creative productions, with examples being drawing, written literature and video creation. This definition is quite broad, and, in concept, most things people use their imagination on can be considered art. Even with such a loose definition, Summit Public Schools: Denali has had problems with promoting art.

As highlighted by the article “Denali needs more art opportunities,” Denali had a large gap in arts representation. In the 2018-19 school year, there were only four art-based Expeditions (electives), while most core classes did not feature artistic projects. Whenever students walked through the hallways, there wasn’t anything promoting art clubs and there weren’t any pieces of art on the walls.

When asked if he believes art belongs in the school environment, Expeditions teacher Vincent Nelson answered, “I for sure do. I think that a lot of our passions revolve around art.” Mr. Nelson, who teaches Video Production and Screenwriting, also talked about how, through our passion, we can learn more things about ourselves and how art is a great pathway for this.

Art is a way for students to express their passions and creativity. At most schools, students who are passionate about art are given the chance to showcase their passion through electives and clubs. Denali does not always have the same types of programs.  Even so, through the years they have been expanding their arts programs, and many people believe that Denali is on the right track.

Through the 2019-20 school year, Denali has increased its promotion of art in many different ways. The main ways were including more visual and performing arts Expeditions courses, giving more freedom with independent study and allowing more art-based clubs to pop up.

Students are given directions in Intro to Video Production. PHOTO CREDIT: Mark Haiko

Expeditions increases art choices

Last year, Expeditions courses at Denali were far more limited, and getting a Visual and Performing Art credit was more difficult. Some arts classes, like Stage Combat (now known as Experimental Theater), were pending in their VPA certification. (Courses must be approved by the UC system to receive this designation; all California high school students need at least one VPA credit to graduate).

The 2018-19 Expeditions course catalog at Denali was quite limited in its offerings of VPAs, and, due to that, students had to participate in a VPA Expeditions course in a later year.

Last year there were only three teachers who taught arts classes, and, due to this, the types of art offered were really limited. The only multimedia-based art was Multimedia Political Journalism, while Creative Writing and Visual Arts focused on writing-based and drawn art, respectively. Stage Combat was the only performing art, which was retro-actively given a VPA credit at the start of this year.

This year Denali added a senior class, and, due to this increase in the total number of students at the high school, more Expeditions classes were added to the roster. Six new Expeditions courses have been added, with four of them being arts-based courses. This almost doubled the amount of arts Expeditions the school has.

Denali senior James Begole, was “very disappointed in the lack of choice in arts” last year, and was “pleased by the amount of Expeditions we have this year.” He said that “Denali didn’t have enough art opportunities, though this year you have more choices in terms of art Expeditions.” He believes that art at Denali is heading in a good direction, and he hopes that it keeps expanding. 

“I think that Summit is doing well in offering art, since they have drama, physical, and written art in Expeditions,” Denali sophomore Steven Johnson said. He is referencing the nine art Expeditions courses Denali now has, with four of them being visual art; four being written art; and one being performing art.

With the landscape of courses that Expeditions provides, Denali has improved in its art capabilities. Expeditions is a good way for students to express themselves and showcase their own ideas through art, instead of outright saying it.

Students learn stage fighting in Experimental Theater. PHOTO CREDIT: Mark Haiko

Independent Study gives students more choices

Independent Study was originally planned as a make-your-own Expeditions option designed for personal research projects. It was sometimes also used for working on AP course preparation, so that students would be ready for the AP tests that come near the end of the school year.

Many students have found new possibilities for their Independent Studies.  For example, Denali seniors James Begole, Leopold Chen and John Duroyan joined together to work on their art project “Dance of the Three Kingdoms.”

“Dance of the Three Kingdoms is a collaborative writing project based around three settings and different writing styles coming together to form an engaging narrative,” Duroyan said. Their project heavily revolves around being given the chance to use Independent Study time to work on their passion and flesh out their world.

Through Independent Study their group can work on their project the way they want to. “We outline our general settings, work out our characters and their backstories, at our own pace,” Duroyan said. What he is referring to is how, in Independent Study, students set their own pace and work as much as they need, without being on teacher-set deadlines.

Denali seniors John Duroyan, Leopold Chen and James Begole work on their Independent Studies PHOTO CREDIT: Mark Haiko

This is a project that they were working on in their free time, and it involves aspects of both creative writing and painting. With Independent Study, they were given an avenue to work on their art projects as their own Expeditions course.

“I especially like Independent Study and the structure of Expeditions, where you get to work on a lot of art-based projects where you can collect your arts and focus down on what you want to work on,” Chen said.

Independent Study helps students like Duroyan and Begole to work on their own art projects that they are passionate about without the restriction of a teacher setting the curriculum and agenda. Instead of forming their imagination into a mold that is given to them by the teacher, students get to make your their own passion-based project in the Independent Study.

Art-based clubs have increased in number

Clubs is an area where Denali has struggled the most to provide arts-based opportunities. In the 2018-19 school year, the arts made up only three of around 28 clubs. This was an extremely small amount, especially with the school providing very little art in core classes. The school was divided into volunteering clubs and technology clubs, with almost no representation for the arts of the school. 

This year, 11 of the 28 clubs are art-based, a large jump from the previous year’s three art clubs. These arts classes range from movie clubs to journalism and writing clubs. This year has seen a large increase in arts-based clubs.

Many different arts are represented in various clubs, such as Writer’s Club, which “strives to provide a relaxed and helpful environment for people who want to express their creativity through writing,” according to club co-founder Chen. Writer’s Club is an example of one of the clubs that popped up this year. It is also one of the clubs that adds diversity to the arts-based clubs.

Denali makes progress in art offerings for students

This year, Denali has improved its arts landscape and increased the amount of art that is being supported. Due to these changes, Denali has added more choices to the students’ pursuits in expanding their creativity.

FEATURED IMAGE (at top of post): This wall showcases a “temporary graffiti” art project in the Denali hallway. PHOTO CREDIT: Mark Haiko

Body Positivity Club gives Denali students a place to accept and appreciate themselves

By Ellen Hu

Denali Editor-in-Chief

A group of students gather in a classroom with friendly smiles on their faces and their lunches in hand. They aren’t talking about television shows or video games. They’re talking about underwear sizes.

The Body Positivity Club is a student-run club at Summit Denali High School where students are able to discuss topics related to self acceptance, body images in the media and much more. “I really just want a safe place for people to build up their body confidence and find their inner value and their inner worth,” Summit Denali junior and club leader Renata Duarte said.

The club meets on Mondays in Room 3.  Students can join the club by filling out the club form at

Duarte founded the club at the beginning of the 2019-20 school year, although she had discussed the idea with Denali staff beforehand. “When she first brought it up with me she was so excited,” Denali Modern World History II teacher and club supervisor Karla Guerrero said.

Ms. Guerrero is joined by Denali Math II teacher Dharini Ramaswamy to supervise the club. Currently the club has 17 members, although Ms. Guerrero wishes there were more. “But I do understand that it’s a club, and it’s up to students who are interested,” she said.

When Duarte was thirteen years old, she was diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Duarte considers it an “umbrella term” with symptoms that can include irregular menstrual cycles and elevated signs of male hormones. One of Duarte’s symptoms is weight gain that is caused by a chemical imbalance of testosterone and estrogen.  

“For a while I was playing sports, I was very active,” Duarte said. Even so, she found herself gaining weight without an explanation. 

“A lot of the doctors, they were writing it off as me being lazy and not being an active enough person, even though I was doing all of these things,” Duarte said. “When I finally got a good doctor, I was diagnosed with that and I found a community of people with PCOS.”

This community introduced Duarte to the body positivity community. While initial conversations covered self-advocacy in doctor’s offices, she found that there were a lot of other topics that could be covered. 

Through her online PCOS health chat room, Duarte learned about Tess Holliday, a plus size model. “She started talking about body positivity, and that really resonated with me,” Duarte said.

Holliday began to share stories of people who were following healthy habits and still gaining weight as well as people who were not able to get the help that they needed because of their sizes. For one of the first times, Duarte saw stories that sounded like hers.

The club gives her and other students a place to share their stories and make other students aware of the pressures that society places on outer images. “When I told them I got kicked out of an Abercrombie and Fitch because I was just in there, they were like ‘why is this happening?’ and they got angry,” Duarte said. “They wanted to do something about it.”

Denali AP English Language teacher Nicole Soriano appreciates how vulnerable club members are able to be in the space, although she did have concerns at the beginning. “These are really challenging topics and it [school] is a really hard place to do it too,” she said.

“One of my concerns was how the meetings were going to be structured,” she said. At first she was worried that the club would focus on harmful experiences without helping students heal from them. These worries were soon addressed as no problems occurred.

“It’s very open and judgement free,” Ms. Guerrero said. “It’s a very powerful safe space.” She believes that the club will help students relate and stand up for each other in the future.

Ms. Soriano appreciates the level of care and thoughtfulness that Duarte has put into the club. She believes that self-acceptance is “the most overlooked area of self-care” and is glad that Denali students now have a place to address that.

Denali junior Meghan Butler joined the Body Positivity Club to better understand body positivity in the media and to support her friends.  The club has also introduced her to new information.

“I like the facts that Renata gives,” Butler said.  “They’re well-sourced and interesting.”  

In the future, Duarte hopes to set up a mirror that community members can look into, reflect on what they love about themselves, then write it down on the mirror. She plans to place it in a secluded area of the school so that people can do this in private.

“I know it’s really hard,” Duarte said. “It’s one of those topics that not a lot of us like to talk about; but I want people to feel safe, and I want people to feel welcomed.”

“If I can just have this club and continue this conversation that has been going on through social media and a bunch of other places, than hopefully this platform can continue to make this conversation an actual thing,” Duarte said. 

FEATURED IMAGE (at top of post): Denali junior Renata Duarte speaks to Body Positivity Club members during a meeting. PHOTO CREDIT: Ellen Hu

Sunnyvale City Councilmembers visit Denali student journalists

EDITOR’S NOTE: On Oct. 22, Sunnyvale City Councilmembers Nancy Smith and Michael S. Goldman, along with Mayor Larry Klein, came to Summit Public School: Denali for a press conference with Summit News staff writers.

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Sunnyvale seeks to improve transportation

By Ruby Balbuena, Nathan Pruitt and Natasha Reinitz

Staff Writers

The Sunnyvale City Council is proposing multiple reforms to ease the load on public transportation. They hope these changes will make the public transit system easier to use and reduce the city’s carbon footprint.

Currently many Sunnyvale citizens use personal cars. The city councilmembers are encouraging people to bike, walk and take other forms of public transportation.

On Oct. 22, Sunnyvale Mayor Larry Klein, Councilmember Nancy Smith and Councilmember Michael S. Goldman attended a press conference at Summit Denali High School hosted by Summit News. 

Mayor Larry Klein said, “The city is doing a lot to try to actively give alternates. The active city transportation plan that the city is using to make it more [pedestrian] friendly, to make it more bike friendly, to get people out of their cars, to look at other solutions. But at the end of the day, transportation is a regional issue.”

The Sunnyvale School District has partnered with the City of Sunnyvale to create the Safe Routes to School Program. The program promotes walking, biking and other alternative forms of transportation to get to school. The school district hopes to improve physical fitness, reduce air pollution and decrease traffic.

“We can’t mandate that everyone walk to work or that all cars are electric,” Councilmember Goldman said. “What we can do is try and make it so that it is easier and there are inducements to get electric cars.” 

Councilmember Smith said that the city of Sunnyvale will be “working on transportation and how we can reduce greenhouse gasses emission from transportation.” 

Councilmember Smith explained that the Caltrain system, which currently runs on diesel fuel, is being switched to run on a renewable electric grid. She said that this reform will make the train system faster and more environmentally-friendly. “One idea is to get people out of cars a bit more than they are. Another thing is that we are electrifying Caltrain … it will soon be running on electricity, which has a lot of benefits.”

The city also intends to implement a shuttle system to solve the pollution problem. “We can ultimately provide conceivably a citywide shuttle, which you’ll start hearing more and more about next year,” Mayor Klein said.

Sunnyvale plans to implement a pilot program of the shuttles in 2020.  The shuttle will focus on transporting people from the Caltrain stations to the Peery Park neighborhood.


Sunnyvale seeks to improve housing availability

By Andrew Larkins, Louis Park, Alaya Scarlett and Ines Villarreal

Staff Writers

The City of Sunnyvale is working to improve the availability of housing, which is an extremely prevalent issue and has been for decades. As Councilmember Michael S Goldman said, “You can’t open a newspaper without hearing about it.” 

Sunnyvale Mayor Larry Klein addressed the issue and introduced a possible solution. “As far as housing prices, of course you know the state is doing certain things as far as rent stabilization. Basically, reducing the amount that your rent can be raised on a yearly basis,” he said. “From a city standpoint, we try to help fund affordable housing non profits.” 

Mayor Klein, Councilmember Goldman and Councilmember Nancy Smith attended a press conference at Summit Public School: Denali on Oct. 22. The conference was hosted by student journalists in order to discuss the current events of the City of Sunnyvale, including the issues and solutions related to housing prices. 

The City of Sunnyvale has previously begun implementing solutions to this problem. For example, they’ve started offering a large number of units for people in need.   

Mayor Klein said “just south of Denny’s, [the City of Sunnyvale] owns all those homes, and we’re actually converting that into 90 units for seniors and previously homeless and people with disabilities.”

Housing has become more available for those in need – specifically those struggling with homelessness and those with disabilities. Because housing has been such a prevalent issue within Sunnyvale, the city council is currently working to improve the support of people who are in need. 

Last month the City of Sunnyvale passed inclusionary housing. This will allow housing to be more attainable and affordable for those with lower incomes.

Mayor Klein said that this new ordinance will ensure that “all new apartment buildings built within the city, 15% have to be below market, 5% very low, 10% low-income based upon the median Bay Area income range.”

In doing so, Sunnyvale citizens of varying incomes will have more opportunity to live affordably within the city. This will be beneficial in developing more opportunities for people who have difficulty obtaining a place to live.

Elected officials for the City of Sunnyvale have been and continue to seek solutions to improve the availability of housing. Within this press conference, several opportunities and solutions were acknowledged, including offering housing for seniors, previously homeless, people with disabilities and those in low-income brackets.


Sunnyvale works hard to develop climate policy 

By Justin Lin, Hari Prakash, Riley Quigley and Tristan Wagner

Staff Writers

The Sunnyvale City Council is working diligently on climate change and pollution. Climate change has been central to a nationwide focus on environmental policy, with potential Democratic nominees attending multiple forums around the issue, and Sunnyvale has a long-standing environmentally sound record on policy

On Oct. 22, Sunnyvale Mayor Larry Klein attended a press conference at Summit Denali High School hosted by Summit News. He was joined by Councilmembers Nancy Smith and Michael S. Goldman. 

When asked if he considered pollution and climate change growing problems, Councilmember Goldman answered that pollution and climate change were “problems everywhere.” He said that there was an operation in place spending billions of dollars to upgrade clean water facilities. 

Councilmember Goldman also said, “I think that making it easier to get electric cars would be a good idea.” When asked a follow-up question about cleaner highways, Councilmember Smith responded that Sunnyvale officials “count on the state” to keep it clean. 

Summit Denali students seemed to care a lot about the environment, as the next question also related to climate activism. The next student asked the group of officials what their “plan for helping the environment” was. Councilmember Smith seemed to think that the climate solution was dependent on the youth. She said that “engaging with youth” is important to her and her peers. 

When asked about his current top priority, Mayor Klein answered that “waste water treatment” plants were close to the top of his list. 

In response to a question about youth climate activism, Mayor Klein said that removing food from garbage cans was important to his administration. He said that “40,000 tons were removed from the landfill” after separating food from other trash. 

Councilmember Goldman agreed. He said that his children were teaching him and that climate activism is as much a personal effort for him as a government one. 

Councilmember Goldman also noted, “If all cars were non, you know, non-carbon-generating; all electric cars, all fossil-free-powered, that’s 56% of the U.S. greenhouse emissions. That’s a lot. But there’s 44% left. That’s still a lot. Where is that? That’s in agriculture, making cement. That’s in making steel.” He also said that beef generates a lot of greenhouse gases and that local Sunnyvale citizens can help a nationwide movement by cutting down on beef. 

Councilmember Smith said that the government needs to “figure out how to sequester your carbon.” She also wants to find a way to take the carbon out of the air and possibly change the way farmers rotate crops. 


Sunnyvale city council urges citizens to help the environment

By Elizabeth Hall, Kaashika Raut, Alina Raykovich and Taylor Vu

Staff Writers

Local government officials believe that Sunnyvale residents can help combat climate change. They believe the amount of natural gas use needs to be reduced in homes and more renewable energy sources should be used overall. Residents can bike or walk to work and start eating less meat. 

Larry Klein, the mayor of Sunnyvale, and two Sunnyvale City Councilmembers, Nancy Smith and Michael S. Goldman, came to a press conference at Summit Public School: Denali on Oct. 22. They were greeted with cameras and reporters ready to ask questions.

Councilmember Goldman brought up a specific way that families could fight climate change: eating less meat. “So, as an individual, you could eat a little less meat. I’m not saying you have to go vegan, I’m not, I’m not about to, but beef is you know, I’m not gonna say anything against it, but it generates a lot of greenhouse gases,” he said. “Chicken not so much, fish almost nothing. The greenhouse gas impact from fish and fish free protein, that’s almost the same as being vegetarian. So just cutting back on some of the red meats like beef and lamb and stuff, that would be one thing.”

In Sunnyvale, the FoodCycle program has been implemented. The program gives Sunnyvale residents a food waste bin as well as garbage, recycling and yard waste bin. 

But people have been complaining. Mayor Klein spoke on this, saying, “So it’s having people change how they basically operate and removing their food from their garbage and as much as many people complain, and I still get the random complaints about people saying you reduce the garbage I can throw away if we split their bin into garbage and food. Ultimately that saved more than 40,000 tons out of the landfill.”

Councilmember Goldman later brought up a point that touched on the effects of car pollution nationally. “If all cars were non carbon-generating; all electric cars, all fossil free powered, that’s 56% of the U.S. greenhouse emissions. That’s a lot. But there’s 44% left. That’s still a lot. Where is that? That’s in agriculture, making cement. That’s in making steel.”

Councilmember Smith spoke about how students could get to school or other places in ways other than driving. For example, they could try to bike, walk or use public transportation in order to reach their destination.

There are things that citizens can do in their homes to help. Councilmember Goldman spoke about how putting solar panels in your home and getting an electric car. He said, “You can’t make everyone drive electric cars.” They discussed the fact that right now a lot of electric cars are really expensive, but eventually will become affordable and people will buy them.

Councilmember Smith suggested that the younger generation, people in middle school and high school, have options on what to study and what to do in their lives. She said that kids could grow up and go into studies about climate change. 

There are many ways that the people of Sunnyvale help to combat climate change. People can attempt to bike or walk to school or work, using renewable energy, and just trying to do something to help. 

“Everybody can make minor changes, whether or not that’s separating their food, whether or not that’s not using straws, whether or not that’s you know, all these little things that make a difference,” Mayor Klein said.


Sunnyvale councilmembers address the housing crisis and traffic issues

By Daisy Ding, Soojeong Kim, Izabella Trejo and Eva Weisenfeld

Staff Writers

Members of Sunnyvale City Council are concerned with the rise of housing prices. To further complicate matters, they believe that the increase in prices is progressively causing traffic to worsen.

Michael S. Goldman, a member of the Sunnyvale City Council said, “Legislative analyst organization … [a] government agency in Sacramento came out with a report that basically said that since around 1970-1980 housing prices in California have been about double the housing prices in the rest of the country. So we’ve had this for basically 50 years … So what has changed? What has changed is it’s reached a point that in certain areas like LA and the bay area, two major metro areas, you’ve reached a point where any further expansion [is] just too difficult.”

On Oct. 22, Sunnyvale Mayor Larry Klein, Councilmember Nancy Smith and Councilmember Goldman visited Summit Public School: Denali to attend a press conference held by student journalists from Summit News. There, they commented on the current housing crisis throughout the Bay Area. 

“One thing that is a big problem is that the last big housing boom was in the ’70s and we all know what happens to populations … they grow,” Councilmember Smith said. “So, people move in and have children; you’re going to need more and more housing. We have not built enough to keep up with that … by a lot. This is not just a Silicon Valley [problem,] it is a statewide problem, it’s a national problem actually.”

Sunnyvale city councilmembers also believe Sunnyvale has reached a point where further growth is not possible due to difficulties in transportation. “It’s not a matter of how high you can build,” Councilmember Goldman said. “It is a matter of how you can get people in and out and goods in and out [of the city].” 

The reality is that Sunnyvale’s roads are always congested, creating a somewhat constant pattern of traffic. Mayor Klein said, “30% of the traffic you see on our roads doesn’t start here, doesn’t end here and is just passing through.”

However, Councilmember Goldman said he believes that the traffic issue in Sunnyvale will always be an issue.  He brought up the Marchetti’s constant, explaining that the balance between the desire for a dream house and hope for shorter commutes keeps traffic at a constant.

“That’s why Rome stopped growing, that’s why LA stopped growing, and that may be why we stop growing,” Councilmember Goldman said. “There is a limit to what you can do. If everyone wants a single-family house … there is not enough space unless we redo the laws of physics.”


Uniform schedule impacts students lives across Bay Area campuses this school year

By Evelyn Archibald and Judy Ly  


Denali senior William Torborg said it is hard for most students to stay focused for long durations. He pointed out that as a student with ADHD, it is harder for him to maintain concentration in class. 

“It’s not like, the most fun to sit through four and a half hours of class and then get a break,” Torborg said. 

In a majority of interviews, students echoed similar concerns in response to no longer having brunch as a form of a break in their daily bell schedule. 

For the 2019-20 school year, a new uniform bell schedule was introduced to students across all Summit schools in California.

Here is a Story Map of all the school sites mentioned in this article. 

One of the changes to the schedule included a new breakfast block before classes started. 

Replacing brunch with breakfast

Brunch, which previously acted as a 15-minute break, in the first portion of classes, was removed. Instead, breakfast was implemented before students start their first block of the day: Mentor Self-Directed Learning (SDL). This class aims to essentially be a study hall for students with their mentor groups. 

Summit Public Schools Superintendent Anson Jackson said the purpose of having classes back-to-back until lunch time, was to make sure teachers had a consistent schedule and workload. Students would in return have a more consistent flow from project to project and class to class, without disruption from a break in between.

“The idea [for students] is to minimize the changes throughout the day and minimize the breaks of cognitive load,” Superintendent Jackson said. 

Rainier Senior President Madelin Morales said she noticed less productivity happening in the classrooms without having a break in between classes. 

Rainier students walk back from the restroom as another student approaches it. PHOTO CREDIT: Judy Ly

“Kids have to use the restroom a lot more during — like during our regular classes, solely because, like, during our break, or what we used to have as brunch, a lot of people use that time to use the restroom,” Morales said. “I definitely noticed a lot more students having to go, like one after another. And it doesn’t seem like they’re doing it just for fun, but they genuinely — because they have to.”  

Hailey Kaufman, a senior from Summit Prep, said her peers have been “losing focus” in class. 

“We’ve lost that break to kind of reset before our next class,” Kaufman said.  

According to Superintendent Jackson, another reason for having brunch removed was so students can start off their day with breakfast. 

A Prep student gets breakfast in the cafeteria before school starts. PHOTO CREDIT: Jonathan Garvin

“Adding breakfast as opposed to taking away brunch is kind of the idea; not to take away anything but to add something,” Superintendent Jackson said. 

However, Tahoma Executive Director Jonathan Stewart said the implementation of breakfast has not been effective on Tahoma’s campus. 

“We have fewer people taking breakfast in the morning than we did people taking brunch last year,” Mr. Stewart said. 

Calvin Andrews, who acted as the student body president for Summit K2’s 2018-19 school year, said brunch was more suitable for students. He explained that brunch allowed students to buy food items between classes, making it more accessible to students who showed up close or late to start time. 

K2 has also implemented a new lining up policy in which students need to line up at a certain area on campus before going to class. Andrews claimed this policy makes it harder for students to buy breakfast before school starts. 

K2 students start their school day by lining up. PHOTO CREDIT: Hannah Kim

K2’s new Executive Director Cythnia Jerez said one of the goals of the lining up policy is to inspire students to get breakfast. 

She said, “Our campus is next to the field where students are, like, lining up. So that encourages, actually, them to actually go to the cafeteria and grab breakfast.”

Superintendent Jackson addressed this concern of students not arriving early enough to access meals and being hungry between classes and lunch. He said teachers are able to provide snacks to students near the end of the morning Mentor SDL block. However, teachers providing snacks is not a normalized standard across all campuses. 

“It’s not an expectation,” Superintendent Jackson explained, “but that is the flexibility of the time.”

By gathering input from local administration at school sites, Superintendent Jackson said drafts of the schedule were created. Later on, three proposed schedule structures were sent to teachers and faculty to gather feedback. 

In the initial drafts made by Summit Leadership (executive administration) and school-site-based administration (principals and deans), the focus was on the scheduling of Mentor SDL time and the structure of core class time. The switch from brunch to breakfast wasn’t included or discussed. 

However, he added that the idea of replacing brunch with breakfast was a joint decision between “school leaders” based off feedback and experiences on campus during brunch. 

“Adding breakfast to the schedule was not a part of that proposal at the time,” Superintendent Jackson said. 

There is a petition circulating to reinstate brunch, as a way to reinstate a morning break, at Rainier’s campus.  

Changes to lunch time

Lunch was altered as well, having the standard lunch time moved to be from 12:30 p.m. until 1:00 p.m. For campuses like Everest and K2, their lunch was shortened. 

Everest students pass through their hallways. PHOTO CREDIT: Molly Pigot

Everest senior Molly Pigot said the response to the reduction has been mostly negative. “Our lunch break was reduced from 45 minutes to 30 minutes, which I think a lot of students are really upset with.” 

For Summit Prep students, Kaufman said lunch is now later in the day than previously. 

Pigot mentioned the students at Summit Everest attempted to stage a walkout against the changes; however, they were met with faculty pushback and students were not allowed to participate.

The lunch break is now earlier for students at Tahoma, Denali, and Shasta compared to last year. 

Shared space concerns

Most Summit schools have their own facilities and campuses for students to attend; however, some school sites are co-located with another school. 

Ernesto Umaña, a middle school math teacher for Summit Tam, said the bell schedule did not heavily impact their shared spaces. Tam’s middle school and high school share a campus, blacktop and gym with Aspire Richmond California College Preparatory Academy. 

He also noted that Tam Middle School now has minimum days on Wednesdays, which has been received positively by students. 

However, in the South Bay, students at Tahoma and Rainier no longer have access to the blacktop area and basketball courts, previously shared with their home school, due to having coinciding lunch times. 

Tahoma students settle into their lunch break. PHOTO CREDIT: Nethan Sivarapu

Mr. Stewart said Tahoma was already considering revoking the access to blacktop usage due to past student behavior issues. The new bell schedule caused Oak Grove High School’s blacktop to be an off-limit space as default. 

At Rainier’s campus students protested against the restricted blacktop usage and bell schedule changes. 

Edwin Avarca, former assistant director and current executive director at Rainier’s campus, said the reasons why Rainier students have to be separated from Mt. Pleasant’s campus are due to safety concerns in regards to student interaction in a shared space. 

Blacktop space and basketball courts are now off limits for Rainier students during their lunch break. PHOTO CREDIT: Judy Ly

“That’s like a large concern that we have as a whole,” Mr. Avarca said, referencing each school’s administration. “How could they support if there’s a potential conflict? I think that that is the biggest concern is ensuring student safety if we’re sharing the blacktop at the same time.”  

Mr. Stewart also said Tahoma’s lunch on Wednesdays is scheduled from 1:10 p.m. to 1:40 p.m. because KIPP, the second school Tahoma is co-located with, has their lunch from 12:30 p.m. to 1 p.m. on Wednesdays.  

Denali students slowly trickle in for the school day. PHOTO CREDIT: Ellen Hu

By default, classes start at 8:20 a.m. and end at 3:20 p.m. across all Summit campuses this school year. At Denali’s current high school campus, the school had to adjust their start time. Denali students start their classes at 8:35 a.m. due to an agreement with the City of Sunnyvale. 

Denali Executive Director Kevin Bock explained that the permit Denali has with the city allows for their campus to start no earlier than 8:35 a.m. There is an elementary school across from Denali, meaning the two schools need to stagger start times due to concerns regarding morning traffic. 

Denali students also have lunch at 12:45 p.m., 15 minutes past the default time. 

Continued debate about bell schedule changes

Superintendent Jackson said the Summit Public Schools leadership team prioritized the betterment of students and teachers on the job when creating the uniform bell schedule. 

Andrews disputes this claim, saying that in reality, the opposite effect is happening based on his experiences at K2. He explained that students’ lives can be very different when campuses range from Richmond to San Jose to Daly City. He continued to explain that life for students in Richmond differs greatly from their Summit peers in other cities. 

“We’re two different schools, from different backgrounds, from different economic backgrounds, different racial backgrounds, living in different areas where our lives are different,” Andrews said. “We all have different needs; we all have different wants; we all have things that are affecting us in different ways. And by Summit sort of putting us under an umbrella of, ‘Oh, this works at one school, it will work at another.’ It’s just not working.”  

Featured image at top: K2 students walk to their first class after lining up in the morning. PHOTO CREDIT: Hannah Kim 

Denali Editor-in-Chief Ellen Hu contributed reporting to this article.


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Summit Denali hosts its first annual Community Day

By Ellen Hu

Denali Editor-in-Chief

This year, Summit Denali students participated in a new tradition to create community bonds.  The introduction of the one-day Community Day event marked the end of the school’s annual camping trip. 

“The purpose of Community Day is to have fun; build a community with our classmates; and enjoy the outdoors,” Denali senior Will Torborg announced to the school during the opening ceremonies.

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The day started with the annual Denali Mentor Olympics that have been held for the past three years during the camping trip. The competition was sorted into four events. Each community group earned points based on their placement in each event, and these points were added to create final scores. 

This year three new events were introduced to the Mentor Olympics: Crazy Waiter, Fill the Bucket, and Tug-of-War. In Crazy Waiter, students held a plate with ping pong balls above their eye level and wove their way through a line of their community group peers. Fill the Bucket tested students’ speed and efficiency by having community group members fill a bucket with water using only a sponge while traveling between a pool filled with water and their bucket.

“Community Day is a day where we really stop and be present together,” Denali Dean of Instruction and Culture Allison Roberson said. She said she believes that creating an environment separate from the classroom helps build bonds between teachers and students.

Many students saw this bonding occur throughout the day. “I enjoyed seeing teachers try to connect with students,” Denali freshman Stella Vissers said. She found herself creating strong bonds with AP U.S. Government teacher Sarah Rivas and Expeditions Dean Kalyn Olson.

Other students saw Community Day as a chance to bond with their peers. “I like that you got free time to catch up with old friends or make new friends,” Denali junior Daisy Diaz said about the camping trip. “I still feel like that applies to Community Day.”

For the past six years, Denali students from both the middle and high schools participated in an overnight camping trip at the beginning of the school year.  This year, all Summit Public School campuses transitioned to a one-day Community Day event.

Turning the camping trip into Community Day was due to several reasons, according to Ms. Roberson. The most important reason was that camping trips were hard for some students, which limited their ability to take full advantage of that time. The school wanted to make something that was more accessible to all members of the community, Ms. Roberson said.

“I liked how everybody bonded and got to meet new people and create friendships,” Denali senior Nicole Sanchez Steffanoni said. Denali senior Marina Seawick agreed, adding that it also created stronger bonds among community groups.

Some students were skeptical about the effectiveness of the camping trip replacement. “I think the thing about the camping trip was that we were in an unknown place together,” Denali sophomore Ella Chen said. She said she believes that facing the unknown helped build a sense of connection.

“I just feel like it’s less exciting because you don’t get to be in a tent with new people and spend more time outdoors,” Sanchez Steffanoni said.

Other students believed that the camping trip might not have been the best option for community building. “I didn’t really enjoy the camping trip,” Denali senior Josephine Martensson said. “I liked Community Day much more, especially the second half of the day.”

Denali senior Niels Van Roode agreed with Martensson. He said that if the school had held a camping trip he would not have attended based on previous experiences.

“There is a different feeling when we’re on home ground,” Ms. Roberson said.  She said Community Day feels less foreign to her. 

The second half of the day was composed of a structure similar to Fun in the Sun, an event that Denali held the previous school year. Staff supervised several activities and students were able to choose what they did in the afternoon.

In the closing ceremonies, it was announced that Devany Smith, who mentors seniors, won the Mentor Olympics for having the most points collected from all four events. Nicole Soriano, who mentors juniors, won the spirit award for keeping a positive attitude and cheering on other teams.

Featured image (at the top of this post): Denali sophomore Cleo Chen participates in a game of volleyball during Community Day.  PHOTO CREDIT: Ellen Hu

Denali students showcase Expeditions work at annual Celebration of Learning

By Charlie Cassel, Angela Hwang, Jacob Jasper and Evangeline Si

Staff Writers

Students and families gathered on June 5 at Denali High School to commemorate the learning the students have done during the last weeks in Expeditions. People streamed from classroom to classroom, viewing the various projects.

Celebration of Learning is an annual Summit event that occurs at the end of the school year. Each class holds an exhibit to showcase the students’ best work, and students show off their knowledge to parents and friends.

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“I liked how they did the big group meeting at the beginning….[and] how each student has presentations. They seem to be knowledgeable about what they’re talking about,” Denali parent Heather Chen said.  “I’ve been to these for about six years now, and this one is really nice because there are so many people. It feels very celebratory.”

The Multimedia Political Journalism class was tasked with covering the Celebration of Learning. Students floated around the event, covering the event and interviewing attendees while parents read and viewed their previous work.

Students in the Intro to Programming course showed off their eight week long projects and programming skills to parents and students. Video Game Programming created games and held an arcade for the celebration.

Creative Writing held a poetry slam for the Celebration of Learning. Students read their poems in front of a classroom full of students and parents. There was a three way tie for second place. The first place winner, Evangeline Si, spoke about the experiences of being Asian-American.

Stage Combat presented several mime fight scenes in the opening ceremony. Due to the shortage of time, most of the stage combat material was cut.

Visual Arts put up tri-folds filled with their art. Students brought their parents in, providing background information as needed. “She likes this class because she has been doing art since she was a little kid, and she is a good artist.…She really enjoys painting and that’s why she’s doing this,” said Sandeep Khanna, a Denali parent. Mr. Khanna’s thoughts were common among the various Denali parents at the event.  

The Psychology course set up tri-folds that explored the reasoning behind various topics, including falling in love and procrastinating. “It’s so awesome! The students are putting together such fabulous presentations, so I’m learning a lot of things that I didn’t know before. Like, I just got explained why people become serial killers,” Denali core teacher Evelyn DeFelice said.

The Adulting course, which was covered by the news channel ABC7 in mid-January, presented trifold presentations on self-care.

College Readiness had computer powerpoint presentations on their college plans. Students explained their work and their future plan choices to parents and friends while also answering questions.

Human Sexuality’s instructor was not present, but the students presented a powerpoint on the effects of porn and sexting.

Students in the Entrepreneurship course practiced their crafts by creating trinkets and snacks. The students traveled around campus and sold their items to others. One student, Renata Duarte, sold bottle caps with pictures of Pokemon on them while another student, Caroline Notaro, sold snacks called “Magic Bars.”

The Wilderness Expeditions course made a campfire and spoke about what they learned. Later, they made s’mores, offering them to various passerbys.

Students who participated in Independent Studies or Internships made posters and presentations about their accomplishments and what they learned.

“I’m really really impressed! I like knowing a lot of really weird stuff, and there’s a lot of really weird stuff in there [Psychology]….But sometimes when you’re as old as I am, you think you don’t have much left to learn,” Denali parent Thomas Berry said. “I’ve only stopped at two places so far and I’ve learned a bunch of different things. I think it’s great.”

Click this link to see Denali’s newsletter for more information about the Celebration of Learning showcase. 

See below for a video of the event:

All-day Wilderness teaches students to find enjoyment in nature

By Hazel Rothrock and Justin Casillas

Staff Writers

Not many students get to explore Death Valley, but the All-day Wilderness class does. Wilderness teacher Melissa Bernstein and Expeditions Executive Director Lucretia Witte decided to take the All-day Wilderness class on a four-day trip to Death Valley to close the school year.

The All-day Wilderness course features a variety of outdoor activities in many different unique locations, along with a chance to experience overnight camping trips. “We designed a whole trip, created an itinerary and then executed the trip,” Denali freshman Andrew Larkins said. 

“Being able to go on trips and getting to know others better is pretty cool,” Denali freshman Daniel Gandi said.

See below for a video about the All-day Wilderness course:

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