Category Archives: Rainier

The lack of women in administration at Rainier affects the community

By Deandra Han, Jennifer Rico, Charlie Stattion, Karla Tran and Jasmine Villegas 

Staff Editors 

Changes have occurred in Rainier’s culture and community compared to the previous school year. More specifically, due to the changes in staff, the school has now has a predominantly male administration; as a result, issues have arisen regarding the current amount of female representation. 

In the 2018-19 school year, Rainier’s administration hired Aileen George to work as the Dean of Instruction and Culture. Ms. George contributed to the amount of female representation in the Rainier community and administration. She worked closely with various students, many of which were female.

Having Ms. George along with Lupe Trujillo, Dean of Operations, as administrators gave many female students the opportunity to come to someone who they can relate to for support when needed. Ms. George announced her departure from Rainier’s administration that the end of the 2018-19 school year. Many students, especially female students, were saddened by the news. With Ms. George’s absence came an absence in the amount of representation women of Rainier’s community would receive. 

In a tribute video made at the end of the 2018-19 school year after Ms. George announced her departure, Rainier junior Lam To said, “One of my favorite memories was probably the time that we went to our first debate tournament, because even though I was really on the fence about that and I was really insecure about my own abilities, Ms. George really believed in me and she was always there to support me. That made me feel a lot more empowered and a lot more secure in a place I don’t normally feel safe.”

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Rainier Dean of Operations Lupe Trujillo PHOTO CREDIT: Keith Dinh

Mrs. Trujillo, the only current female administrator at Rainier, feels the need for more female representation in administration and community here at Rainier. When asked about whether there should be more female representation she said, “Yes: there’s definitely a need, I think again there’s just sensitive situations that come up and administrators have to deal with. There are subjects that get brought up that I think would be very hard for a lady to share certain details with a male.” 

Mrs. Trujillo continued to share the impact of a female opinion in meetings and administration decisions by saying, “There are certain things that I bring up as topics of discussion that, had I not been present, they wouldn’t even been brought up. That is absolutely not to say anything negative about our male administrators, it’s just that they have never experienced some of these things. So it would be very difficult for them to bring up things that they don’t know.” 

See below for a video with more perspective on this issue:

Mrs. Trujillo also mentioned how hard she has worked to try to include more female administrators and representation overall. She said, “I will do everything that I can to continue to do whatever I can to ensure that those conversations number one are happening and also we are going to reach out and tapping all of our networks for female leadership. Because I just know being in this role, working at this school for the last five years, there is a great need, and I know that the conversations, like I said, are definitely different when there is a female in that conversation, so yes, I am confident that we will continue to do so.”

Additionally, Rainier Executive Director Edwin Avarca is also working toward an overall more equal and diverse administration. More specifically, he wants to have a variety of races and genders. He said, “So, definitely female leadership is something I have been thinking about and in thinking about that I am thinking about current members of our faculty, for example. I’m thinking to myself, like, this person could do very well in a leadership position, this person is female, for example, who could do good in the leadership position.”  

The lack of women in administration does not only affect the administrators, it affects the students here at Rainier as well. Female students, when needed, go to female administrators for support. Having a female administrator there for students is different from having support from a male administrator. This is because, for female students, it can be more comfortable for them to go to someone who has gone through similar situations.

Rainier junior Trinity Fa’afiti shared some reasons why increasing the number of female administrators would positively affect Rainier’s community. She said, “I think that they should because I feel like women bring just like a motherly feeling that all girls and guys, that need it at school, with all the pressure; you know, the studies, the exams and everything that we have, I feel like having more females around can bring that motherly [feeling] and like, ‘I can lend you a hand,’ type of feeling that I feel like every student should have.”

One option that is aimed to support and give more representation to girls at Rainier is an organization named “Girls Group.” Mrs. Trujillo reached out to the organization and female Rainier students in hopes of bringing it to Rainier’s community. She gave details regarding the organization by saying, “Some of our ladies are missing these strong female mentors in their life, and going through being a teenager and raising a teenager, I know that there is a time and space where you just don’t, like, get along with your mom, and that’s kind of the norm, and I think for those reasons, during that time, that it is so important for young women to have other strong females in their life who they can go to for advice.”

Administrators have heard the student voices and are working toward solutions to increase the amount of diversity in gender and race in Rainier’s administration. One solution, for example, that administrators have been discussing is assessing which faculty would be great in leadership positions, more specifically, female faculty members. They believe this could increase the diversity of administration, which could help all Rainier students feel supported. 

Another possible solution Rainier administrators have worked on is the organization “Girls Group,” mentioned earlier, that aims to provide support and representation for female students, whether that be emotionally or academically. 

Rainier community responds to termination of annual school camping trips

By Keith Dinh

Rainier Editor-in-Chief 

Prior to the 2019-20 school year, every Summit Public School brought as many students as possible to a camping trip early in the first semester. For Rainier, students were taken to the mountains into the woods to stay for two days and camp overnight, and, over the years, this has become a defining part of Rainier’s culture that many students would look forward to every year.

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The Rainier community gathers to hear the announcement of the winners of the annual 2018-19 Mentor Olympics. PHOTO CREDIT: Keith Dinh

Students would be able to spend the first day setting up their tents that they shared with their friends and participating in a variety of activities that their mentors would lead. Many of these activities included hiking, board games, poetry writing, origami, talent show practice, and even learning how to dance. 

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Members of the Rainier community seat themselves for an evening meal at the 2018-19 annual school camping trip. PHOTO CREDIT: Keith Dinh

The students would be able to eat together and watch a talent show which spotlighted their peers, teachers, and even parents who had come to volunteer. The next morning, students would be able to take part in the annual Mentor Group Olympics, which was a series of games that each mentor group would take part in to be able to best the others in a competitive environment. After the winner of the Mentor Group Olympics was announced, everyone cleaned up their areas and headed back home.

On June 3, at the end of the 2018-19 school year, Rainier administrators sent an email to students announcing the termination of Summit’s annual school camping trips. This announcement brought mixed reactions from the students and faculty members of Rainier. 

Rainier sophomore Aidan Franco-Lee expressed that the termination of the camping trip is something that negatively impacted the community. Being able to participate in the event during the previous school year, Franco-Lee recalled his memories as being very positive, transformative experiences that allowed him to be a more integrated member of the Rainier community.

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Rainier students wait in line to get their meals at the 2018-19 annual school camping trip. PHOTO CREDIT: Keith Dinh

In regards to the recent termination of the camping trip, Franco-Lee said, “I was really upset about it. Personally, coming to school here, where I didn’t really know anyone, the camping trip was really definitely something that got me to know my mentor group — It got me a lot more comfortable, and it really helps me and everyone, so it was fun, too.

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Rainier science teacher Edward Lin stands with his mentor group to give their mentor chant at the 2019-20 Community Day. PHOTO CREDIT: Keith Dinh

In an effort to fill the absence of the camping trip with another event, Rainier’s faculty members planned a Community Day where students would walk to Lake Cunningham State Park and partake in the Mentor Olympics for the day. This year, students played games and had a barbecue in the afternoon after two of the games were completed. The final game was cancelled due to the extreme heat that day. Students were then directed to walk back to campus to be picked up after dismissal.

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Rainier sophomore Aidan Franco-Lee PHOTO CREDIT: Keith Dinh

Franco-Lee expressed his opinion of the Community Day as an unfulfilling event in comparison to the camping trip, saying, “This year, I didn’t really enjoy Community Day because I felt that it was too short. Especially coming in and seeing all the incoming freshmen — knowing that they didn’t get that experience of the nice, long, overnight stay and really bonding with everyone — It was kind of like, ‘Oh, no, I’m sorry for you guys. You didn’t get the really fun experience,’ and obviously, I wanted it, too: I only came for one year, which was also like, ‘oof’.” 

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Rainier science teacher Shaila Ramachandran PHOTO CREDIT: Keith Dinh

Rainier science teacher Shaila Ramachandran explained that she feels the pressure from the termination of the camping trip as a teacher. Ms. Ramachandran feels that her mentees, with the lack of the camping trip this year, have been looking for chances to find camaraderie and strengthen their bond as a mentor group, which puts pressure on her to find things to do with her mentees. In addition, Ms. Ramachandran believes that the camping trip is a major attraction for students thinking about coming to Summit Public Schools. 

Ms. Ramachandran said, “I don’t think it was the best decision for students. I think it was an activity that really sets our school — our schools —  apart from others, and it is a big selling point for students coming to us. And so I feel, for that reason, that they should have gotten more voices involved in the input stage at that.”

Believing that teachers and students should have been able to have a chance to give their insights and opinions toward the topic, Ms. Ramachandran explained that she believes the decision made in regards to the camping trip is a decision that should have had more input before the final decision was made. 

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The Rainier community cheers each other on during the announcements of the winners of the 2018-19 Annual Mentor Olympics. PHOTO CREDIT: Keith Dinh

“I was just reflecting on how I have a couple of new mentees this school year, and we didn’t have the benefit of them having a camping trip where they could really bond and immerse themselves in the mentorship group, and, so, instead, we kind of just had to hit the ground running with them, getting them accustomed to the work, and not really feeling, as a result, supported by that … Now, I feel like more of the pressure is on me to form more of those activities during the school year, like through mentor outings and things which we would do before. I feel like my students are really craving that and requesting that more throughout the school year,” Ms. Ramachandran said.

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Rainier students converse during the 2019-20 Community Day. PHOTO CREDIT: Keith Dinh

There are some students and faculty at Rainier who believe that the decision to remove the camping trip had more negative effects on the community than positive ones. Although, there are some in the community who have found neutrality in their position in regards to the camping trip decision. 

Rainier Dean of Operations Lupe Trujillo has found some positive outcomes from the decision to terminate the camping trips. Mrs. Trujillo expressed that there is a lot to do logistically to allow the camping trip to occur, ranging from student paperwork to volunteer driver forms.

Apart from the logistical difficulties that she has encountered in trying to execute camping trips in the past, Mrs. Trujillo did say she feels some sadness from the decision to terminate the trips. She explained that she will no longer be able to see the talents that the students were allowed to showcase to a school-wide audience and see the bonds that are built between students during this time. 

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Rainier Dean of Operations Lupe Trujillo PHOTO CREDIT: Keith Dinh

In response to these new changes in culture, Mrs. Trujillo hopes to be able to keep the tradition of the Mentor Olympics every year in the form of Community Day. She hopes to be able to improve the planning and agenda every year to be able to fill the void that students feel from the termination of the camping trip. 

Mrs. Trujillo said, “We are going to try to do what we can to ensure that we keep these things intact. I think it has more to do with whatever we put in place. I think what I am more interested in is continuing the memories and the feelings that the camping trip provided, the teamwork aspect, all of that; but, I think if we can do that well in our Community Day, I think it can take the place of, and I think we can continue to build that community. This was the first year — we kind of went at it blindly — so I feel like it was not thoughtfully well-done. I think we could do a much better job, and I do think that there is a possibility for us to do just that to create those memories and all of that the camping trip inspired.”

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Rainier students converse during the 2019-20 Community Day. PHOTO CREDIT: Keith Dinh

Students and faculty at Rainier have varying opinions on the termination of the school camping trips, ranging from sadness to happiness and from frustration to neutrality. 

A survey was conducted, asking Rainier’s community members what their opinions and feelings are about the termination of the annual school camping trips, and 86.4% of community members who submitted responses believe that the termination of the event was an unfavorable decision: 94% of the total responses attributed the termination to having a negative impact on the community, while 5% found the decision beneficial.

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PHOTO CREDIT: Keith Dinh

Here is a selection of the responses received:

Rainier sophomore Amanda Brand: It really isn’t good that the camping trips were terminated, and as a sophomore who only experienced the camping trips as a freshman, I wasn’t able to enjoy it as much as other people, and that’s why I feel so bad for the new freshman class of 2023, because instead of an unforgettable bonding experience, they got a poor substitute. The camping trips get better with age, and it’s really unfortunate a lot of people don’t get to experience the prime experience of the camping trips, or at all.

Rainier junior Joana Padilla: The camping trip was a time for my mentor group and I to regroup after the summer. It was a time to get to know others and just have fun. I was disappointed and mad because the students had no say in the decision of the termination of the annual school camping trips. We could have been warned. Summit is known for its camping trip, and the fact that they terminated kind of made others really disappointed.

Rainier senior Rigoberto Estrada: Well, to begin with, I’m a senior now, and this was my last year at Summit Rainier and at first when I found out about the camping trip being terminated on my last year, it kind of got me by surprise, this camp trip meant a lot to Summit. It was a time where us peers all came together and kicked off the beginning of the school year with great energy/memories and a chance for all of us to get along and actually come together as one school. What I´m really going to miss about the camping trips were the talent shows. The talent shows were a way for us students to show and express our talents to one another and believe me the past camping trips were amazing. It made me realize how many super talented kids we have at our school. But even though I’m not gonna experience the camping trip with Summit anymore, since I’m a senior and I’m leaving next year, I hope you all reconsider bringing it back for future students and for my brother, also, who will be a junior next year.

A Rainier teacher (who asked to remain anonymous): I believe it was done as a response to teachers unionizing and have heard it was actually not the wish of Summit Leaders but rather legal advice from their lawyer, with teacher sustainability/work hour expectations in mind. What would have been better about the process in my opinion is actually polling teachers, students, and parents about the effectiveness of the camping trip and whether they believe it’s something that should be kept and/or made “optional”/allow each school site to decide whether to keep camping trip themselves. There are some Summit teachers (at other sites) who strongly believe camping trip was unsustainable/too much to ask of teachers and was not a positive start to their school year due to student discipline issues that always came up. I feel that teachers staying overnight at a camping trip could be made optional/up to sites to decide how to handle if they want.

To see more pictures from both Community Day and the Camping Trip of the 2018-19 school year, see the slideshow below:

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San Jose city councilmember visits Rainier student journalists

EDITOR’S NOTE: On Sept. 25, San Jose City Councilmember Johnny Khamis came to Summit Public School: Rainier for a press conference to share his story of becoming a councilmember and talk about his goals for the city of San Jose. 

 

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San Jose City Councilman Johnny Khamis uses his passion to help the environment

By McKayla Castigador, Vu Nguyen and Van Tran 

Staff Writers

Johnny Khamis is a San Jose councilman for District 10 who uses his financial and business background to assist the city of San Jose. He was an immigrant from Lebanon who arrived here in 1976, needing to learn English, and he struggled to make a living. However, his hard work allowed him to use his skills in finance and business to help San Jose.

He advocates for people to be educated on conserving gas and electricity. Because of this, he is driven to implement strategies to combat climate change. 

“It’s important for us to make sure we get people educated about conserving,” Councilmember Khamis said on Sept. 25, at a student-led press conference at Summit Rainier.

San Jose leaders have been doing what they can to improve the city’s environmental condition by buying clean energy for the city, increasing regulations for construction and recycling. However, Councilmember Khamis still believes that more things could be done. Therefore, he has come up with other ideas to combat climate change.

Councilman Khamis would like to try and find a way to reuse methane gasses. He references the idea of putting a tarp on cow manure to extract the methane gas for electricity.

One of the biggest projects that the committees worked on was building the Zero Waste Energy Development partnership, where they take garbage and efficiently remove methane from it. They then recycle the methane to make gasoline to fuel the garbage trucks.

Councilmember Khamis’ personal feelings toward the city show his care for the environment. “I planted more trees in the city than any other council members,” Councilman Khamis explained, acknowledging that he has planted 50-60 trees with his family. He also spoke about investing money into planting trees in the community. 

In San Jose, the cost of living is very high. Councilman Khamis explained that the reason why it is so expensive is that San Jose takes the environment into account. San Jose reserves land for environmental purposes and has regulations for the energy used in construction.

Councilman Khamis is very passionate about what he does. He acknowledged that his job isn’t the easiest and that politicians need to have the heart to help people.

Councilman Khamis explained, “Don’t do it for the money — You got to have the heart to be a councilmember.” 

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Councilmember Johnny Khamis seeks to help the community

By Marion Delos, Jess Lara Jose Rodriguez and Andres Ruelas 

Staff Writers

San Jose City Councilmember Johnny Khamis focuses on helping the San Jose community, helping out with the homeless, after school programs and community colleges. 

“I’ve been really proud to represent our city,“ Councilmember Khamis said, before speaking on how he is one of the only councilmembers who has actively made moves to better his community by planting more trees than anyone else on the council, as well as planting some personally with his family. He is proud of having an increasing amount of trees in the city of San Jose. 

Additionally, with taxes, the city council has been spending millions of dollars on protecting our city. Councilmember Khamis said, “The city has been spending millions of dollars every year on different things like addressing homelessness.” Since he came into office, the city has spent up to $2 million dedicated to the homeless. 

San Jose is currently spending nearly $30 million from their general fund for the homeless and to finance after-school programs, according to Councilmember Khamis. The city is also putting out further spendings of $1.5 million per year to support the school systems, and more than $500,000, annually, is spent on support for children and  families who are on the food stamp program. 

Addressing climate change, San Jose is now buying clean energy such as GHG free energy and energy from solar-energy companies, according to Councilmember Khamis. They are also no longer spending much money on natural gas and coal-fired power, which now allows a cleaner mix of energy, compared to PG&E, and selling it to residents for 1% less. 

Councilmember Khamis is one of the people who brought out the “straw ban” where residents are no longer allowed to get straws at restaurants unless asked for, and has also increased requirements for all new construction so they now have to use electronic instead of using natural gas. With all the recycled items, the councilmember is thinking of ways to turn those recycled items into energy, like they do in countries such as Sweden and Denmark. 

Councilmember Khamis also makes sure he is involved with his community even if it means missing out on family events. On weekends, he attends community events; goes to marathons and community gatherings; and even has office hours where people can come in and ask questions, give complaints, or just converse with him in general. 

“Not every councilmember does as much as I do, to reach out to the public, but I like it; I like talking to people; I like solving problems, ’cause that’s what a council member is supposed to do,” Councilmember Khamis said. 

When Councilmember Khamis was running for office, the runner-ups were well-known competitors. To win, Councilmember Khamis out-worked everyone and spent his time walking to nearly 16,000 doors to talk to people to get where he is today. 

Councilmember Khamis explained, “That was a big obstacle — not having help — and so, what I would say is that I don’t take no for an answer, and I will fight. I am a fighter.”

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District city councilmember Johnny Khamis discusses parks and recreations

By Sean Moser, Adrian Pescatore, Sol Perez and Carlos Villarreal 

Staff Writers

San Jose City Councilmember of District 10 Johnny Khamis is concerned over recreation in San Jose. Councilmember Khamis, being someone who is very active environmentally, stresses the importance of a healthy environment. 

Councilmember Khamis explained that one of his parks used to only open three days a week, so he used his city fund to have it open for four days a week. “I used my own city funds to open it a day more,” he said.

On Sept. 25, Councilmember Khamis came to Summit Public School: Rainier for a press conference with student journalists. During the press conference, he addressed issues and answered the questions that the students brought up.

Councilmember Khamis stressed that parks in San Jose are dilapidated and not very well taken care of. He then gave an example of his success in adding two acres of land to Almaden Lake Park, showing his dedication in bettering his district’s parks.  

Councilmember Khamis is a big supporter of parks and recreation: he shows this by participating in park cleanups, advocating for longer open park hours and taking care of the park overall. He said that he wants to “make sure the grass is taken care of and make sure it’s not overrun by squirrels.”

Councilmember Khamis shows his passion for keeping the community healthy by planting trees personally and with others in order to connect with his community. “I have planted over one hundred trees into my community,” he said. 

Councilmember Khamis planted the most trees out of every councilmember in San Jose and also pushed his peers to be environmentally active with him. The councilman also sees this as an opportunity to connect with his community more. 

By adding more trails in his parks, he would like to encourage people to exercise and really embrace the parks that he and his team work very hard to maintain.

Councilmember Khamis said that he is committed to making the community better as a whole in order to make it a place that people can be proud of for generations upon generations.

He plans to create a space where everyone can be comfortable and feel safe in a clean, healthy environment. With that, he says he will make the community better, planting one tree at a time.

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San Jose city councilmember emphasizes building tiny homes for the homeless

By Jasmine Chinn and Ismael Navarrete 

Staff Writers

On a quiet morning on Sept. 25, Councilmember Johnny Khamis visited Summit Public School: Rainier in San Jose to talk to student journalists. Councilmember Khamis is currently running for State Senator for 2020. Councilmember Khamis is focused on bettering his community by helping the homeless who are living in poverty. 

Immigrating to the United States as a child in 1976 from a war-torn Lebanon, Councilmember Khamis struggled with school and learning English. His determination toward pushing past the barriers that he experienced in his life has led him to where he is today, as a councilmember.

Councilmember Khamis puts his heart into helping his community as a representative for District 10 of San Jose and prides himself in using his financial skills to help the city of San Jose, making sure it is spending money wisely. 

When asked what is a memorable story or experience that defined his career, Councilmember Khamis talked about his idea to build tiny homes on two sites sometime back. He said, “Each one of these units were going cost $87,000 to build, and Oakland, at the same time, was building Tuff sheds for $3000. So I said no to this program, not because I’m against tiny homes, but I thought we could help a lot more people with the same amount of money.” 

Councilmember Khamis wants to change and improve the homeless situation by helping the city spend their money wisely to help people who are living in poverty. 

On his website, Councilmember Khamis talks about homelessness issues in California, where many people who are homeless are also suffering through mental illness and poor living situations. He wants to have a low-income housing project to build tiny houses for the homeless.

One of the motivations that Councilmember Khamis has, regarding the housing crisis, is also providing housing for people who are both homeless and mentally ill. He pointed out certain propositions, such as Proposition 63, that have not followed through with their promises.

Councilmember Khamis elaborated on the proposition, “Back in 2004, we started collecting millions of dollars from the rich. And we were supposed to use that to create mental health services. And I have not seen a single mental health service facility.” 

These ideas are further expressed in a Mercury News article highlighting his argument that the Bay Area must do its part in helping mentally ill homeless people get their own housing.

It is clear that Councilmember Khamis is trying to help the community by helping the city to find a cheaper way to build these tiny houses. To Councilmember Khamis, it is clearly important for his community to come first: “Not every councilmember does as much as I do,” he said. 

 

 

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

By Evelyn Archibald and Judy Ly  

Editors-in-Chief

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.

Related:

Schedule change at Summit Shasta affects students

Newly implemented schedule troubles Rainier teachers

BREAKING NEWS: Rainier students protest in response to new restricted blacktop usage during lunch break

Newly implemented schedule troubles Rainier teachers

By Analisa Sofia Perez and Christina Velez

Staff Editors

The new bell schedule that has been implemented across all Summit campuses for the 2019-20 school year ー which includes removing the brunch break in favor of offering breakfast before school starts, as well as starting school five minutes later and ending five minutes earlier ー has raised cause for concern in the Rainier community. 

Rainier students have visibly expressed their opposition toward the new schedule, even going as far as organizing a protest against the restricted blacktop usage, which was another result of the new change.

However, students are not the only people pushing back against this new schedule and other changes made this year. Rainier teachers shared their own opinions about having inadequate preparation for the sudden changes, less prep time and a lack of control over projects.

When asked how much input Rainier teachers were able to give regarding the new changes, several teachers said they were not able to provide much feedback. 

Rainier chemistry teacher Edward Lin expresses his thoughts on the new schedule. PHOTO CREDIT: Analisa Sofia Perez

Rainier chemistry teacher Edward Lin explained, “I was not given much by way of opportunities for input.” He said the schedules were “kind of ruled out” before the teachers showed up for the start of the current school year and then it felt like “‘Hey, here’s the new schedule’ …  we didn’t have a chance to say what we felt.” 

However, other teachers, such as Rainier English teacher Sunli Kim said, “We were allowed to give feedback on a huge document that all teachers had access to, and we could also scroll through and look at all the feedback and suggestions the teachers at other schools were making.” 

Rainier English teacher Sunli Kim shares her experience with the new Summit-wide schedule. PHOTO CREDIT: Summit News

Even so, all Rainier teachers who were interviewed agreed the decisions felt out of their control and the suggestions they could give were limited. 

Regarding changing the time food is served to the students, Mr. Lin said, “We just didn’t have that much context as to why these decisions were made and whether there was really any evidence as to this being better for students”

Lack of prep time

Prep time is the dedicated time that teachers are given to prepare any work or resources for their classes. When teachers are given less of this time, that could possibly affect students. 

When asked how the new schedule changes have affected the amount of prep time for teachers, Rainier history teacher Stuart Morris said, “Pretty significantly. It cut down on our prep time by … I think it was around a third less prep time compared to last year.” He explained how he, along with many other teachers, has been taking time out of his personal day to make up for the rest of the prep time teachers are no longer given during the school day. 

Rainier history teacher Stuart Morris communicates his thoughts on there being less prep time for teachers as a result of the new schedule change. PHOTO CREDIT: Analisa Sofia Perez

Mr. Morris added that even with less prep time, Rainier teachers are having to take on more duties: “We have more responsibilities — with other classes and Reads and Solves and all that kind of stuff — we didn’t have last year.”

Loss of teacher control

The new schedule not only affects the structure of student and teachers’ days, but also the content that is being taught to students. For example, teachers and students have begun to notice an adjustment in the amount of SDL (Self-Directed Learning) time (previously called PLT or Personalized Learning Time) they are receiving. 

SDL, which is currently a class that is the same length as a core class block, is time for students to independently complete academic work. It has been reported that students are now receiving about 2-3 hours less a week of SDL time than under last year’s schedule.  

For teachers like Mr. Lin, this year’s changes also mean having to adjust to an entirely new school year’s worth of curriculum. In the six years that Mr. Lin has been at Rainier, the chemistry curriculum has mostly stayed the same, while still allowing teachers to refine and perfect it. However, this year, the chemistry curriculum was completely redone.

Mr. Lin said, “They just kind of decided to scrap the entire old curriculum and basically create a new one from scratch. And they did this without really any teacher input or teacher feedback, and, so, I found out about the change a week before school started … so that’s been frustrating to navigate and to deal with.”

Additionally, Mr. Lin was unhappy to see that the new curriculum was not fully fleshed out by the start of the school year. This, paired with the fact that several content assessments had no resources or tests designed, in his eyes, is a result of “high unprofessionalism” on Summit Leadership’s behalf.

“It’s really hard as a teacher — you want to have, like, a big-picture view of, like, what do I really want kids to walk away understanding at the end of the school year,” Mr. Lin said. “And it’s hard to do that if the plans aren’t really in place on the first day of school.” 

Supporting students through change

Due to the pushback coming from students about the new changes, Ms. Kim explained how she tries to make the day easier on her students: “Overall, I’m just a lot more intentional about how I’m inserting structured and unstructured breaks … I’m more mindful about, like, what the work time looks like so that students don’t feel burnt out by the end of the day.” 

With the new schedule, students are expected to sit through three back-to-back hour-and-a-half-long classes until their first and only break at lunch. Classes are also divided by a five-minute transition time; however, it is clear that teachers and students feel that does not compensate for the four and a half hours spent sitting through their classes.

There are various evident changes in Summit students’ schedules from last school year to this school year. GRAPHIC CREDIT: Christina Velez

Though Rainier teachers and students have been trying to adjust, there are still several negative outcomes stemming from the bell schedule change that they are not happy about: limited ways for teachers to give feedback on schedule changes; less prep time; and tired students.

Members of the Rainier community have been advocating for changes to help address some of these concerns. Their petition can be viewed here.

Related:

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

Schedule change at Summit Shasta affects students

BREAKING NEWS: Rainier students protest in response to new restricted blacktop usage during lunch break

Student panelists share college experience with Rainier

By Karla Tran

Staff Editor

The college students who came to Rainier asked and answered questions about what college life is like after high school. Questions such as “What’s college life like?” and “Is college fun?” gave Rainier students enrolled in the Expeditions course College Readiness a sense of what college looks like.

On Sept. 19, a group of college students had a panel about College Readiness which took place in Expeditions teacher Melissa Thiriez’s room.

Four current college students, three of whom graduated from Rainier, came back to share their own personal experience applying to colleges and their day-to-day life on a college campus. They also shared things such as what they would do differently in high school and gave the Rainier students advice about college. 

Kenson Nguyen explained, “I was choosing between two or three schools. I guess as soon as I visited UCLA, I knew that UCLA was for me. It was one of the best schools I got in to.”

Jesus Lopez added, “I was expecting to be a little bit out of me comfort zone because I know that college is going to be challenging for myself. But it’s honestly, no matter what, you’ll never be alone. If you think that you’re suffering in college, everyone going through college is too.”

Lopez continued, “I guess that I would just say that time really does fly by. Once you’re a junior, the next thing you know you’ll be graduating high school. So I would say that it’s important to be in the moment and use your time wisely because if you choose to work hard, you can do anything you please.”

At the student panel, Rainier students got a little bit more insight of what they can expect in college. Some students learned that college can be difficult; but if they choose to work hard, they can accomplish anything. The college students that came to the panel taught the students to not be scared to take risks both in school and in life overall.

Featured image (at the top of this post): Student panelists come in to Rainier’s College Readiness course to share and answer questions about their own college experiences with the students. PHOTO CREDIT: Karla Tran

BREAKING NEWS: Rainier students protest in response to new restricted blacktop usage during lunch break

By Keith Dinh and Judy Ly

Rainier Editor-in-Chiefs

Rainier students gather to listen to new announcements for the school year in the Mount Pleasant multipurpose room. PHOTO CREDIT: Keith Dinh

During the lunch break today, Rainier students protested peacefully off-campus on the courts of their co-located school, Mt. Pleasant High School, in hopes of bringing change to restrictions that have been placed on blacktop access.

During lunch breaks, students are now restricted from being on Mt. Pleasant’s blacktops and are limited to Rainier’s outdoor hallways and quad. 

Summit Rainier is a charter school that is part of the Summit Public Schools network; it is currently co-located with Mt. Pleasant on that school’s campus in Eastside San Jose.

Rainier senior Joe Pinkney explained that not having the blacktop as an outlet to release energy for himself and his peers causes personal effects.

Rainier senior Joe Pinkney participates in the protest during lunch. PHOTO CREDIT: Keith Dinh

“It’s causing me to not be able to focus in class as much. And it’s just all around making me not as excited to come to school here,” he said.  

Rainier Dean of Operations Lupe Trujillo confirmed that police officers were called to the scene by Mt. Pleasant High School because of the presence of Rainier students on their campus courts. It is confirmed Mt. Pleasant had prior knowledge of the protest and called police officers to the scene before the scheduled event. 

In addition, Mt. Pleasant faculty was also present on the blacktop during the protest.  In an interview with Mt. Pleasant’s principal Martha Guerrero, she said the protest disrupted Mt. Pleasant students’ lunch. 

Mount Pleasant High School principal Martha Guerrero talks to Rainier students. PHOTO CREDIT: Keith Dinh

“We have a contract in place with — between Summit and the Eastside Union High School District — and this is my students’ lunchtime and they are not having access to the blacktop.”   

Principal Guerrero explained, “Because Summit Rainier and Mt. Pleasant are two different schools, students need to be separated.” 

Anwar Darkazanli, the physics teacher at Rainier, was surprised at students coming together to hold a protest.  

Physics teacher Anwar Darkazanli shares his thoughts about today’s protest. PHOTO CREDIT: Keith Dinh

Mr. Darkazanli said, “ I understand where they’re coming from — a lot of frustration around schedule changes — I do hope that it leads to some change, but I don’t think that it will at this point. I think it’s a little too late.” 

Since the announcement of blacktop restrictions, Rainier faculty has attempted to provide outlets for students to release their energy during break.  

Pinkney expressed safety concerns with a basketball hoop Rainier faculty put up in front of a wall.  

“I already saw kids banging themselves into the wall — and not on purpose — on accident, trying to go for a layup,” he said.  

He added, “The students need to be able to run around, and just as I’m seeing right now, just they’re running around; just laughing; having a good time, and I thought that got stripped away from them without really any thought at all.”

See below for photos of the Rainier protest in favor of blacktop access:

Featured image above: Rainier students gather outside of Rainier’s campus to protest new restrictions during their lunch break. PHOTO CREDIT: Keith Dinh

Related:

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

Newly implemented schedule troubles Rainier teachers

Schedule change at Summit Shasta affects students

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