Tag Archives: Expeditions

Seniors use final Expeditions to explore future careers

By Jon Garvin and Eliza Insley

Editors-in-Chief

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

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

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

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

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

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Summit Prep senior Will Hill

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

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

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Summit Prep senior Jorge Zamora

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

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

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

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Summit Prep senior Lily Yuriar

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

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

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

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Summit Prep senior Marvin Vasquez

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

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

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

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Summit Prep senior Alana King

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

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

Multimedia Political Journalism encourages young journalists

By Amanda Ahn and Justice White

Staff Writers

Multimedia Political Journalism is a course where students can learn and experience what it is like to be part of a working newsroom. Students learn teamwork, gain interviewing skills, and learn how to meet deadlines. Over the Expeditions courses, students in this class are given time to pick a topic, interview, make a video and write an article to inform the Summit community about different events, classes, or outside topics by publishing on our website, Summit News.

“I think a skill I will take out of this class is better video shooting and taking photos,” Tahoma freshman Caden Vu said.

The journalism Expeditions class is a course full of using one’s independence. Students are strongly encouraged to get out of their comfort zone when it comes to writing.

This course provides an introduction to communications media. Students are taught to look and take notice of all sides of any situation. As a result, the course helps students better understand different views and helps them write unbiased news articles. Students also practice writing opinion pieces that try to persuade or shift another’s views.

“When I first started the class, I didn’t know anything about articles or politics, but I learned a lot since then,” Tahoma freshman Polina Runova said.

The class is definitely different from other writing classes as it allows students to write about situations and topics they are genuinely interested in. The course helps students take advantage of their right to free speech by sharing their views with the Summit community, motivating the journalists to want to go deeper into their writing and research.

See below for a video about the Multimedia Political Journalism course:

Featured Image (at the top of this post): Tahoma student journalists visited the Spartan Daily newsroom at San Jose State University. PHOTO CREDIT: Liz DeOrnellas

Rock Band offers students an opportunity to learn music

By Jon Garvin

Prep Editor-in-Chief

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Summit Prep junior Luke Desmarais

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

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Summit Prep junior Matthew Tognotti

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

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

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Riekes Center Music and Creative Arts Director Bennett Roth-Newell

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

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Summit Prep sophomore Megan Mayo

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

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

See below for a video about the Rock Band course:

Performing Arts teach us humanity

By Evelyn Archibald

Staff Writer

“The most important thing any kind of arts can teach,” Stage Combat and College Readiness instructor Keith Brown says, “is what teaches us humanity.”

Stage Combat, an acting class focusing on combat and physical communication on stage, is the only performing arts class currently offered at Summit Shasta, but maybe that should change.

While, as Robin Pogrebin of the New York Times writes about, teaching the arts does not by association improve scores or grades in other subjects, that’s not all that’s important. “Science without humanity is just experimentation, in my opinion. Math without humanity is just numbers with nothing behind it,” Mr. Brown says.

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Stage Combat students stage a fight scene. PHOTO CREDIT: Evelyn Archibald

“We’re learning about humankind. […] you’re seeing emotions, you’re seeing situations.”

Summit schools like Shasta try to build community advocates and leaders with skills like compassion, self and social awareness, resilience and identity. Performing fosters these skills intensely: learning to know and be comfortable in your own body, looking inside yourself and your emotions, working with others as one unit, taking constructive feedback, advocating for yourself and being confident in your talents.

“I think more than anything else, seeing the willingness to put themselves in uncomfortable conversations, […] talking about ways that you can feel like something is holding you back or putting you down, it can be really hard to have that kind of conversation and be honest,” Mr. Brown said on the growth he’s witnessed in his students. “It can be really hard to be in front of a crowd and speak with any kind of confidence or authority. One of the biggest changes I’ve seen is seeing that confidence come out of people, and the joy that can come from finding your voice.”

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Stage Combat teacher Keith Brown PHOTO CREDIT: Evelyn Archibald

Benefits of the arts in education have been studied and witnessed many times, even finding motivation to stay in school might be linked to art and music classes. But how easy is it to just add curriculum?

Lucretia Witte, dean of Expeditions for Summit Schools, explains how the Expeditions process works: “To sum it up, there are about six departments: STEM, Arts and Design, Business and Media, Health and Fitness, Future Planning and Leadership and Society. We try to have at least two options for each of those departments, and we survey students to find out what they would be interested in.” She went on to explain the staffing process: “To find staff, we don’t hire for a specific course title, just someone who is passionate about working with us, and who would be doing what they love. We also try to keep staff in a local job; so, for example, if someone lives in San Francisco and wants to teach in Health and Fitness, we would try to put them in one of our Northern schools.”

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Dean of Expeditions Lucretia Witte PHOTO CREDIT: Evelyn Archibald

“It can be harder to find folks who are very talented and also passionate about the job,” Ms. Witte said about performing arts teachers, and that makes sense. With arts classes commonly being the first to get cut when budgets are tight, and as only 10 percent of art graduates become working artists, and only 16.8 percent of working artists are educators, it’s not a surprise that passionate drama or music teachers can be hard to find. Especially when you want local teachers in the community, like Summit schools strive to hire. However, Ms. Witte said the Expeditions team is trying to hire teachers for classes like Dance or Music in the Northern schools like Shasta, which could open up many opportunities for Shasta students to pursue the performing arts.

Another matter to consider is after-school programs, such as a play or musical, a dance company, chorus or marching band, choir, and others. Lots of schools offer these types of programs, but at Shasta, the way these get started is a little different.

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Dean of Culture and Instruction at Summit Shasta Adelaide Giornelli PHOTO CREDIT: Evelyn Archibald

“It’s a question of budget, and it’s also a question of who would run it,” Adelaide Giornelli, Shasta dean of culture and instruction, said. “Right now, all of our clubs are student-organized, student-advocated-for, and student-led. So if a student wanted to start a musical theater company or a choir, or an a capella group – which we actually have had in the past – the student would then have to fill out a proposal for a club, get approval, and then we would be able to provide supports as we could.”

See below for a video about the Stage Combat class:

Summit Rainier now offers Ethnic Studies as a course

By Judy Ly

Staff Writer 

Summit Public Schools has been open for 15 years, and this is the first time the course Ethnic Studies has ever been offered at the Summit Public School: Rainier campus in Eastside San Jose.  Ethnic Studies is an interdisciplinary curriculum that teaches about other ethnicities’ significant social impact on U.S. history.  Here at Summit Rainier, we welcome the curriculum with open arms; however, in places like Arizona, politicians did not only dislike the idea of this class, they fought to ban it and succeeded in doing so.  

In class, Rainier students watched the Independent Lens documentary Precious Knowledge.  The film takes place in Arizona and shows how a group of students, most of whom are of Latinx descent, become empowered through the curriculum once they start learning about the history of themselves.  Even with the positive effects the program had on the students, conflict soon arose between politicians and the students.

In an excerpt of the documentary, Tom Horne, former politician and Arizona State Superintendent of Public Instruction at the time, critiques the Ethnic Studies curriculum by saying, “There are better ways to get students to perform academically and want to go into college then to try to infuse them with racial ideas.” When asked if he thought Ethnic Studies was doing anything right, he added, “I really don’t, no. I think they should be abolished.”

House Bill 2281, the ban on Ethnic Studies in Arizona that got passed in 2010, claims the course teaches pupils to “resent or hate other other races of people.” In the ban, it also says it prohibits any class or program that seeks to “promote the overthrow of the United States government.”

Despite what the ban claims, students within the documentary say the class had only helped them understand themselves better and unify.  Students at Summit Rainier joined the class with the same objective.

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Rainier junior Alan Do

When asked why he joined Ethnic Studies, Rainier junior Alan Do said, “I wanted to learn more about the history of marginalized people, and I also want to explore my own identity.”  He continued, “I think going to a class that teaches everyone about each other’s history and each other’s people really allows me to understand people’s backgrounds a lot more.”

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Rainier senior Michelle Thai

Rainier senior Michelle Thai said, “It’s important because you’re learning about your own identity, and that’s really empowering because I feel like people these days, especially minorities, don’t feel as empowered in America.”

The Ethnic Studies instructor at Summit Rainier, Angel Barragan, is hoping for students to not only feel empowered but also to have the academic benefits that come alongside with being enrolled in an Ethnic Studies course. In a study of 1,405 ninth graders, conducted by Stanford and San Francisco Unified School District, students who had eighth grade GPAs below 2.0 were automatically enrolled in Ethnic Studies, while the students who had eighth grade GPAs above 2.0 were able to choose whether or not to enroll in that specific class.  Stanford News states, “The researchers found that attendance for those encouraged to enroll in the class increased by 21 percentage points, GPA by 1.4 grade points and credits earned by 23.”

When the students in Arizona heard that local politicians, including Mr. Horne, were advocating to ban the course by law, they began protesting. They even caught wind of the local politicians having a meeting to discuss the ban and went into the building to protest for their right to the education that made a difference in their lives.

Rainier senior Edwin Escobar said, “I’m not a big protester, however, I think that what really inspired me the most was the people who were low-income, who are minorities.” He added that many minorities are going through a financial struggle, are immigrants, or come from a single-parent household, “so these students are already struggling to just

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Rainier senior Edwin Escobar

work well towards the system, to have a working system for them … when they find the Ethnic Studies class, these kids got engaged, and they sort of left behind all the problems they had, and they focused on what matters to them. They developed a recognition to the importance of studying about their history, and they fought for it and that’s what really inspired me.”

Unfortunately, despite their best efforts, Arizona governor Jan Brewer signed HB-2881, banning classes for a specific ethnic group, which basically shut down Ethnic Studies. This resulted in the Tucson Unified School District shutting down their Mexican American Studies program. In addition, politicians also ruled to ban certain books.  In 2017, there was an article published by NBC News saying Judge Wallace A. Tashima claimed that these bans on books and Ethnic Studies courses were “unconstitutional.”  

When asked why he thought the Ethnic Studies curriculum is so controversial and why politicians might feel the need to ban it, Mr. Barragan answered, “[The politicians] say that the classes are the ones in fact racist, that they were teaching students to overthrow the government, about being with your own race and not mixing with others, but all those things are false.  All these classes are about becoming good 

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Ethnic Studies teacher Angel Barragan

Americans and what it means to be united through our different struggles. I think that’s why; I think they’re afraid of students being able to find their strength and power.”

When asked why Ethnic Studies was important, Escobar said, “What builds America is diversity; and, if you have diversity, there’s history behind diversity.” Escobar explained how if the United States was just a white country, then its history would mainly be about white history. In most schools, the curriculum is still mainly about the dominant culture’s history. For the people of color who crucially influenced American history, their stories weren’t told because they aren’t as powerful as the dominant culture. Ethnic people were totally disregarded from U.S. history, and Ethnic Studies curriculum seeks to address that imbalance. 

Escobar concluded, “If history is such an important concept in America, then why is it that we only have to learn one type of history and it’s the only type of  history permitted in America?”

The Summit News team will be following this class throughout the year.  

Featured image (at the top of this post):  The Ethnic Studies teacher, Angel Barragan, hosted an event called Why Ethnic Studies Matter when he was president of the Ethnic Studies Student Organization at San Francisco State University.  PHOTO CREDIT: Angel Barragan.

Prep students showcase the real-world skills they’ve learned during Expeditions

By Micah Tam

Staff Writer 

On May 25, Summit Preparatory Charter High School had a Celebration of Learning in which students got the chance to exhibit the life skills they acquired during Expeditions. Among the selection of Expedition courses that offer different learning opportunities from content knowledge to the arts, there are also courses that teach life skills that benefit students outside of school.

Fitness

For the last two rounds of Expeditions, students had the chance to go to the Riekes Center in Redwood City where they were able to workout, play basketball, learn yoga, play instruments and explore unknown talents. While learning these different skills and hobbies, they were taught by specialized coaches who work at the Riekes Center to help and support the students. Two lead Riekes Center coaches attended the Celebration of Learning hosted at Summit Prep.

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Lead coaches Gabriel Risk Martin and Alex Booher show a video explaining what they did at the Riekes Center. 

Wilderness

Melissa Bernstein, who teaches the Wilderness Expeditions course, said she wants students to learn “how to take care of yourself and how to be healthy, so if any of the kids have an interest in going backpacking, they’ll know how to take care of issues by themselves.” She said the course was a “good intro for them, but we could really use more time for them to really get comfortable with the system,” explaining “the only problem is that we were rushing. The class that I was teaching them is actually 80 hours of course material, and we didn’t have 80 hours, so in order to get a really complete practice it would take longer than the time that we have in Expeditions.”

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Summit Prep freshman Tara DuBridge

For the Celebration of Learning, each group had to make a video on a certain wilderness injury. “Our group is doing wounds and cuts, like operations and stuff like that, so we have to make a video on how to treat it,” Summit Prep freshman Tara DuBridge said. “It’s important to know how to treat these kinds of injuries ‘cause it could happen anytime, and so it’s important to be prepared.” She added that the project was challenging. “It was pretty hard to remember the steps that you had to do because it’s a pretty long process, and so it was hard to memorize it and do the video.”

 

Summit Prep freshman Tara DuBridge worked with her group to make this video about treating wounds and cuts in the wilderness.

 

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Summit Prep freshman Ethan Sheppy

 

Summit Prep freshman Ethan Sheppy and his group did their project on shoulder and finger dislocations. “This is a very helpful skill ‘cause if you’re out hiking and your friend injures himself really bad, you have to know how to help them,” he said, adding, “I liked this Expedition, it was very enjoyable.” To view his group’s video, click this link.

 

 

 

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The audience watches wilderness first-aid videos during Celebration of Learning.

Food For Thought

Food for Thought is a new Expeditions class this school year, and it has gotten great responses from students enrolled. Shaan Johal, a freshman at Summit Prep, recommends that everyone take this class because it provides good information to benefit your health.

Summit Prep freshman Casper Lyback explained that their Celebration of Learning project was to film a video about a certain dish and how to make it. “This project is also about showing creativity,” he said, adding that the class allowed the students to express themselves through food. The final project was “quite interesting and the end product was quite delicious.”

Brooke Hein, who teaches Food for Thought, explained that food affects everyone. “Young people need to analyze what they put in their body, and we need to encourage them to think critically about what they eat.”

Each class voted for a winning video. Here is the link for the winner in the morning class. Here is the link for the winner in the afternoon class.

Food for Thought teacher Brooke Hein announces the winners of her class video contest. 

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Students walk in to greet Ms. Hein as well as enjoy the videos made by Food for Thought students.

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The audience enjoys the cooking videos made by Food for Thought students.

Staff Writers Kai Lock, Yesenia Lopez and Tyler McGuire contributed to this report.

Summit Prep students show their families what they have learned in Expeditions

By Kristian Bekele 

Staff Writer  

On May 25, Summit Prep students demonstrated all that they have learned to peers and parents in what is known as the Celebration of Learning showcase. From 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., students from the Expeditions classes Education Pathways, College Readiness and Sociology of Law showed off what they learned in the eight weeks of Expeditions.

Education Pathways 

In Education Pathways, students learn about the educational system and its flaws from an educator’s perspective. Students went to schools and shadowed teachers as they learned about the achievements and problems of educational systems.

For their final product, students got to choose between modeling their career pathways and how they would achieve their goals or highlighting a specific flaw in the educational system.

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Summit Prep freshman Armando Sanchez and sophomore Brandon Kerney look over Kerney’s final product.

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Summit Prep junior Angela Chung shows her plans to attend Cornell University and Harvard in order to achieve a career as an architect. She said that the reason why she wants to be an architect is because she likes how architecture combines various elements such as math, drawing and design to make structures.

 

College Readiness 

College Readiness is a mandatory course where juniors learn about college and the application process. Summit Prep juniors showcased their college applications to fellow classmates, teachers and parents. As part of their final product, students made a slideshow demonstrating what colleges they wanted to go to, the necessary qualifications and their reasoning for choosing those schools.

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Summit Prep junior Paola Godoy presents her college plan to her mentor Bree Hawkins.

 

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Summit Prep Dean Mary Beth Thompson talks to her mentees, Juan Reyes and Jesus Pichardo, about their college choices.

 

Sociology of Law 

“There is no such thing as a good person or a bad person, only good and bad choices.” S. Dawson’s quote is something the Sociology of Law class learns from the moment they step inside the classroom commanded by Expeditions teacher Lissa Thiele, who also serves as a Juvenile Justice Commissioner.

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Sociology of Law teacher and Juvenile Justice Commissioner Lissa Thiele

During Celebration of Learning, the class had a Socratic Seminar involving parents and students debating whether armed guards were allowed in schools. The topic was thus because the class had been studying the Second Amendment and mass shootings. They had watched a documentary on Columbine earlier in the round, and the documentary was still fresh in their minds.

During the Socratic, the group discussed mental health because a majority of school shooters have been shown to have mental issues. The topic of damaged masculinity was also brought up early in the conversation.

Damaged masculinity is when a man’s masculine qualities are destroyed by someone finding and exposing their weakness and ridiculing them for it. Because most mass shooters are men, this damaged masculinity plays a huge role in the number of youth dying per year from mass shootings.

At the start of the Socratic, parents and students who participated seemed to agree on one thing: In different situations, people feel safer with armed guards, but they don’t feel safe with an armed guard in the school.

Staff Writers Micah Tam, Tyler McGuire and Darya Worsell contributed to this report. 

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