RHS showcases active learning at district board meeting

March 23, 2018

On Wednesday, March 14, 2018, Renton High School had the honor of hosting a meeting for the district’s school board. Fourteen tables were laid out in the commons, showcasing a wide range of projects, posters, demonstrations, and brochures that all offered information about the many different types of classes and active learning going on at Renton High. Student presentations were brought to life by the 1950’s Cinema Noir theme, as well by a spotlight that illuminated four classes as they presented their work to the board.

Principal Ms. San Martin started the night out by giving a short introduction to the school board, thanking them for coming and giving a synopsis that embodied what Renton High School is all about.

Then, music came to life as one of Renton’s counselors, Mr. White, walked up to the podium. He instructed the district board members to close their eyes and listen to his voice as he “hypnotized” them, transporting them back into the 1950’s. Mr. White, along with the student body, counted down from three, and when the school board members opened their eyes, French berets, sunglasses, and fancy ties decorated the members.

Two girls from Ms. Hasson’s culinary class stood on each side of the table in pink 50’s skirts and chorused “cheese balls” in unison. They went on to offer each member samples of the delicacies, pink skirts twirling as they walked.

Faith Richardson was the student emcee for the school’s presentation and acted as a famous starlet named Betsy. The spotlight illuminated her presence as she introduced the different groups in character.

The first spotlight group was journalism. Students introduced themselves and talked about the new things their class had been up to, as well as their exciting new online platform.

Then the spotlight went to chemistry who talked about mini bottle rockets and the 2:4 ratio of hydrogen to oxygen that powered them. They did a live demonstration and spoken explanation so the audience could understand the scientific reasoning behind it.

The spotlight then shifted over to the math table where students showed off an advanced Pythagorean Theorem demonstration. It exhibited an online representation created in Excel and a live mapping of the process by use of digital tools.

The spotlight moved and shone on theory of knowledge (TOK) presenter Tai Anthony McMillan. He started his presentation by instructing the audience to run around the school and high-five every pedestrian that they saw. When asked “why” by Ms. Willecke, Tai began explaining how questioning our knowledge is essential to TOK.

The spotlight groups spoke with knowledge and authority, captivating both the audience and the school board.

The other groups also in attendance with booths were physics, aerospace, leadership, psychology, film production, Spanish, culinary, art, keyboarding, and drama. Each class had one to four students that helped showcase their creative learning.

Spanish had a song and skit planned that consisted of an operetta which the students had studied in class. Sophie Tanchoco sang the song while Rafaela Souza and Emily Siangkam answered to the lyrics in Spanish. It was about a girl who wanted to borrow a dress and how the other two girls thought it was a bad idea. They did a wonderful job and spoke with both fluidity and passion.

Over at psychology, they did an experiment on altered perceptions and the influence of drugs. Kayla Guild-Taylor, the president of psychology club, explained about the blocking of neurotransmitters and what effect it has on people. She used drunk goggles for patrons to try on as a live example.

“We just wanted to present something pretty simple and interesting so we’re looking at altered perceptions. It’s interesting to explain about the inhibitors and the synapses, and how everything works and how the receptor sites get blocked so that’s why we can’t understand. It’s really interesting to present to people, psychology is a passion of mine, so I really really like it,” explained Guild-Taylor.

Physics had prepared an egg drop experiment over at their booth in order to display the relationships of force and momentum. They planned to drop an egg from the second floor in a protective casing that increased resistance. They had also planned to compare this experiment to similar, real world examples, such as brake systems on cars.

Over at the drama department’s table, puppets and student-made masks adorned the table. Students had prepared a skit where they would perform, manipulate, and even build different types of puppets. The students had even planned to answer questions and talk to board or community members as these puppet characters, demonstrating the abilities they had learned in class.

At the art table, students Makena Yee and Sasha Vignevic spent the night showcasing their paintings, drawings, and various other artistic creations. Aside from showcasing their portfolios, they also displayed active learning by painting throughout the night with multiple mediums.

Keyboarding students were able to play some of their music during the rehearsals and throughout the first section of the board meeting, adding to the atmosphere of creativity.

Culinary set up little cups of angel food cake with chocolate strawberries in them for the attendees to indulge in. They also cooked hot dogs, crackers, cheese balls, and had refreshing ice water.  

Leadership students handed out compliment clothespins, which is a tradition that leadership does during Agape Week at the high school. Agape week is one week dedicated to being kind towards others. Students, Jo Nguyen and Bernice Munoz-Covian, had a laptop that displayed pictures from assemblies, spirit days, and other leadership events. Throughout the evening, they were hot-gluing compliments to clothespins and handing them out to anyone who came by the booth. Both girls’ smiles shone brightly, and they exhibited the heart of leadership.

The aerospace and robotics teams were also able to showcase their talents and their subject matters through the night. The aerospace class partners with Boeing to allow students to have jobs right out of high school. They will be using their skills that they learned in class to build 737 and 747 airplanes and make a starting salary of $50,000. Any student who takes robotics or manufacturing have chances to enter into the aerospace classes the following year. 

Video production was filming sophomore Abby Elliott explaining how to edit a video, with a green screen up behind her. The editor, Manny Alfalava, demonstrated with the computer a step by step process to edit with Final Cut Pro. They also had a computer that was showing the Renton Report videos that students watch during advisory to get fun school updates.

When interviewing Ms. San Martin, she commented, “I was here four years ago, and the presentation didn’t even come close to what we have right now – the sense of community, energy, dynamic emphasis and the amount of students who, so graciously, just came in and were willing to say ‘okay, I’m gonna do it.’ To bring this kind of suspense concept that incorporates music, sounds, emotions, lighting, singing, clothing, it’s just developing and awakening all of the senses. Whatever happens tonight is just the evidence, but the heart is right here, right now, so I’m thrilled.”

Sophomore Hannah Ballesteros, who was a part of the spotlight math team, articulated her feelings about the night.

“It’s turning out beautiful, and it’s running really smoothly and it’s fun to see all of these creative sides to every subject that you don’t necessarily see all the time,” said Ballesteros. 

LeDashia Ordorff , also part of the math team, expands by saying “I think that showcasing this aspect of our school, you know, showcasing each subject area, I think it’s gonna blow their mind, they’re gonna be really interested, and they’re gonna want to see more about Renton.”

Through the amount of time and hard work put in by the Renton students and staff, they created an unforgettable night. Those on the Renton School District Board took in all the presentations with great pleasure. Post the spotlight display, the board members presented a set of awards for notable teachers in the district that deserved recognition. Families, students, and friends gathered to see their loved ones honored with such admiration.

Overall, the event showcased what the students and staff of Renton already know and best put by LeDashia Ordorff, “Renton has heart. And nobody can change that. Ever.”

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