HSPE and Health CBA schedule for next week


18th 20th

8:45 – 11:30 HSPE Testing

11:30 – 12:00 Lunch
12:00 – 12:55 8:30 Class
1:00 – 1:55 10:00 Class
2:00 – 2:55 12:15 Class
3:00 – 3:55 2:30 Class


8:45 – 11:30 HSPE Testing

11:30 – 12:00 Lunch
12:00 – 3:55 Regular Schedule



Were you part of Spoons? If you weren’t, you sure missed out. There was mystery, intrigue, backstabbing, and cold blooded murder from those who you thought were friends. Spoons was a game I started to inspire community in the school, with raising money for the Food Cupboard as an added bonus.

The Food Cupboard is a resource for the people at school who have difficulty with obtaining food, such as homeless students. With a $1 donation from every participant, I hope to raise enough money to make a difference. As it is so far, getting the donations is difficult. During sign ups there was no time, and as a student the issues with me collecting the money while passing out the spoons is complicated. But it will work out, and donations will be collected at a time TBD.

But the game will go on, even without donations! I spent 30 minutes getting all the spoons ready on Monday. Each and every participant has a copy of the rules taped to their spoon, along with their current target.

Targets were randomly distributed. I put them in bags and didn’t look at the names while I handed them out, resulting in a slightly disappointing exit in the game for myself. But then again, many exits were slightly disappointing.

The rules for this round were you have a spoon, which has the rules and your target. You’re supposed to take your target, tap them with your spoon, and they’ll give you their target. Then their target is your target, and we start over. The technical rules were that you have to wait an hour in between targets, you can’t disturb class time, and absolutely no harming anyone.

Luckily, the overall vibe I’ve noticed is that the game has been fun for some, and a good idea but hard to execute. That is certainly true! I’ve been thinking about how to fix the game for next time, and I’ve heard some good ideas.

One person suggested that instead of random distribution, I would make a circle of people so that people don’t get their spoon until the end of the game. It’s more work, but that’s the goal for next time.

Many others have suggested that there be a rule that you have to sneak up on your target, and not be seen. This would cut down on chasing, which I think was fun, but it would also cut down on immediate “Hey buddy!” tap

So Spoons does have room to improve, but it is fun. I do hope to organize this game again!

The Curious Case of Nova’s Tiny Coffers

The following is 100% derived from the budget meeting.

This year Nova operated on $1,481,333 and it’s being cut down to $1,338,000 for the 2014-2015 school year. There’re two reasons for these cuts: a state-mandated 17 million dollar cut to the school district in general (though the entire 17 million won’t land on the schools themselves) and the school district’s decision that Nova’s attendance record merits a loss of funding equal to having 35 less students. For the record, Mark has contested that it’s as much as 35 students and said at the meeting the number is exaggerated.

That 1.48 mil allowed for 15.7 teachers, Karen P., Susan W., and Mark with about 90k left over for everything else (that’s school supplies, subs, the copier, postage, etc.). A cut of 150k may not sound so steep, but Nova and all its staff are struggling enough as it is, and the cut would remove one teacher and most of the job of another.

A few things changed at Nova this year that won’t make the downsizing quite as painful. A teacher left last semester, bringing us down to 14.7 teachers. Ben has a .5 CTE position and he’s planning to move to New York, so if we didn’t fill those vacancies we’d have 14.2 teachers, which would cost $1,299,399 to maintain. That’s within our upcoming budget of 1.38 million, but it only leaves about 40k for everything else, less than half of what we had this year. With the current plan that means no school supply money, no overtime money, and no special consideration money for teachers who do extra work (guess what? They all do).

Mark, Susan W., and the staff are doing what they can to pull funds from every corner to cobble together enough money to fill that 50k gap. For starters there’s 16k left over from this year. This isn’t a complete disaster, but from what I heard it’s the final cut before the complete disaster. We’re almost out of wiggle room. Here’s the big question folks: we’re trending towards major cutbacks, so what can be done to help increase sign-ins and stabilize Nova’s position?

Update March 13th

The 2nd budget meeting happened today, and it turns out things aren’t nearly as dire as they were last week. The district realized that they had a number crunching mishap thanks to questioning from Mark and Susan W., and now Nova is slated to receive another $138, 762 for 2014-2015. That’s a total of $1,476,762, close to last year’s budget. There’s ongoing discussion about how the funds will be used, and the results will be on NovaKnows once there’s news.

NOVA Dodgeball



    What’s the sports craze at nova? It’s been Ultimate Frisbee, It’s been Three-Way Soccer, but the sport with perhaps the most dedicated players, is still DODGEBALL. I’m hyping this up way too much, but I am serious. Dodgeball is one of the best committees at Nova because you get to throw balls at your classmates, and not feel bad about it! Okay if you hurt someone, you should feel bad. Most people do play dodgeball casually, because it is better when it’s not such a big deal bro.

    My favorite time to play dodgeball is when a whole bunch of people I’ve never seen play dodgeball before decide to show up and try it out. Dodgeball at Nova is meant for everyone, as long as you are willing to dodge balls, throw balls, and have a good time. There are some hard-core dodgeball players, who have been playing it at Nova for years. Terrance McKittrick, aka Ball Hand, is a perfect example of one of these peeps who shows up to take it easy!

    Pent up anger? Throwing balls is a great way to release. However, Dodgeball is not about giving people concussions, so remember not to be too aggressive. Excess rage will not make people think you are cool, teamwork and sportspersonship will. That is the most important thing to remember if you want to play dodgeball at nova.

    In reality, the most important thing to remember is actually that dodgeball happens every friday during committee time, in the little gym. The little gym is located past the cafeteria, down the hall, to the right. You have to go down that little blue ramp before you turn right. Dodgeball cannot start until someone has retrieved the balls from Terrance’s room. Once the balls are in the gym, student’s will usually line up the balls in the middle of the gym. They then form teams, count down, then start playing.

    The rules are easily learned by asking someone playing dodgeball, they sometimes change too, if enough students can agree. Like i said earlier, the biggest rule you should follow is to have fun without putting people down. You can get people out of the game by hitting them with balls. A few more rules you should know about are ; If someone on the team opposite you catches a ball you or your teammate throw, the person who threw it is out. If someone on your team catches a ball, one person from your team who is out can step back in. Another rule that is usually enforced is that you should not step over the middle line of the gym, unless there is only one person left on the team against you.

    If any of what I just said sounds interesting, you should come check out Dodgeball in the little gym, happening every friday. You can gain P.E. credit by signing in to play, which is another reason this committee should be on your radar. Playing dodgeball can indeed be a work-out! Nevertheless, it is up to every individual player to decide to play intensely, or casually. You could play both ways, and can even bring friends/staff to the game. Check it out!

Music at Nova 2014


If you go to Nova and like music, you might be interested or enrolled in some of the various musical classes or committees being offered this semester. Among the things you could involve yourself with are: Band class, Jam class, Music Theory and Composition. You could also join or support the Band Committee, Beats Committee, or even look into starting your own independent music activity.

Now some of these classes and committees might sound the same. Here are some things you should know if you are intrigued. Band class has been offered during the second semester for a long time now. It involves working together with other students in a band, playing instruments and learning/composing songs. Eventually there is a show at the end of the semester. This is a great opportunity for students to learn how to collaborate and get some stage time.

Jam class is a new offering this year. It will follow a more intensive format with students being placed in a band to learn about the simple act of “jamming”, or, walking into a group of individuals with different levels of skill, and playing music together on the same frequency as each other. Arguably this is important to know whether you want to form a band or just play by yourself.

If you are full up on classes, you could instead join a committee. The Band Committee has come back this semester with a vengeance. After ceasing to exist when students last year felt unsupported and unable to keep the committee alive, the band room itself was shut down to students who were not there for math class, and making music at school was shunned. Now we are back with a renewed purpose: To provide norms and procedures to ensure that the band room is used respectfully and properly. Also to provide community space for students to be involved in managing school space and facilitating musical activity among students.

The Band Committee can also mesh well with your schedule if you have signed up for a music class already. There is also The Beats Committee, run by our teacher Ben, and motivated students, this committee provides an invaluable way to learn about making beats, building studio spaces, you can even learn about music promotion, and how to raise funds for your school. Both of these committees provide a space for like-minded individuals interested in either their school, or musical endeavours to come together and produce something good.

Another class on the catalog this semester is Music Theory and Composition. This is perhaps the first time that music theory has been taught at Nova. So if you want to know about how music itself works and what the different elements of it are, try to get yourself in this class before you are 20 deep in the CD with snipers on the roof. Whoops sorry I went off on a tangent there! This is Nate ending my summary of the musical opportunities at Nova that are happening right now!

How Bees Came to Live on Nova’s Roof

Bee Pic Rooftop
The bee committee on Nova’s rooftop.

Did you know Nova has two beehives? There was a committee formed the second semester of the 2012-2013 school year with the goal of acquiring beehives for Nova, and we succeeded! Over five months, and with the vital help of a beekeeper friend of Terrance’s, we applied for and got money from budget committee, ordered disassembled hive parts, constructed the hives, ordered bees, and cleared the legal stuff with the school district.

I’ll give a crash course on honey bees and how the hive we built for them works, and then write about what the bee committee was up to after we got the bees.

Honey bees are an extreme example of a hierarchy. There exists a single queen bee in each hive that rules the droves of other bees with powerful pheromones, in this case a chemical language that communicates what needs to happen in the hive. The queen is also the sole source of new bees; she singlehandedly populates the hive by laying thousands of eggs. Without a queen a hive cannot effectively function, but if the queen dies the hive will respond by raising a new queen from an egg the old queen laid (bees can choose if an egg in its early stages matures into a queen, a worker, or a drone, but that’s another article entirely).

The queen bosses around the worker bees and the drone bees. Workers (always female) and drones (always male) are physically very different and have predetermined roles. The drones exist only to mate with queens from other hives. They do no work, have to be fed by the workers, and cannot sting. The workers are muscle, caretakers, and gatherers for the hive. They fight off threats with their stingers (but they can only sting once because their abdomen is torn off when they try to fly away), take care of queen’s eggs, and collect nectar from flowers (which they eventually turn into honey). As they fly from flower to flower looking for nectar, they collect pollen on their legs (which is also used in the hive as food and glue), and inadvertently transfer it to each flower they visit. And that’s how they pollinate! Without bees a long list of foods would become unavailable.

What we’ve built is an ideal place for this amazing (and in a way, disturbing) insect society to live. There are two main pieces to the popular hive model we’re using, boxes and frames, and it’s all about the frames.

natural bee hiveartificial-honey-comb

Bees in nature that build a hive from scratch create the pictured hexagonal “cells” as multipurpose storage units (Left). With the humanmade frames (Right) we’ve saved them a step and also given ourselves an easy way to observe them. The bees don’t mind if we remove a frame for a short time to examine it. Another purpose of the frames is to preserve “bee space”.

bee box
Some frames from above.


The frames need to be exactly 3/8th’s of an inch apart or the bees will fill in the space between them.

The boxes hold the frames and insulate them when it gets cold. The boxes are stacked vertically (like in the picture at the top of the article) rather than horizontally because queens naturally want to move upwards.

The bees arrived at a farm outside of Seattle in April 2013 in two small boxes with mesh sides. We picked them up over the weekend and took them to school Monday and (in what perhaps wasn’t the best example of safe beekeeping) showed them around. About 1000 worker bees and one queen crawled around in each box. Later that day we introduced them to the boxes we built, which is as simple as taking the lid off the box and shaking bees into it for thirty seconds. Bees swarmed all over the roof and us (in our bee suits). The queen is placed last. Since the bees didn’t yet have a hive to defend, they were passive, despite appearances. Nobody was stung (that day).

After that, we put the lids back on the hives and called it a day. The bees had a conference and, as they do 99% of the time, decided to stay in the hives we built for them.

The rest of the year we periodically went up to check on their progress. We took out frames to examine how many eggs the queen laid, how much honey the workers were producing, and to look for diseases. Sometimes, if our beekeeper instructor deemed it necessary, we reorganized a few frames, since the bees can get confused and work against themselves.

The most exciting thing we did after the introduction was the bee beard. It’s exactly what it sounds like, and you achieve it by putting the queen in a miniature cage, attaching the cage to your chin, and releasing a few hundred worker bees nearby. Having nothing better to do, the workers gather around the queen, which means crawling all over the face of whoever the queen is attached. It had been a running joke since the beginning of the semester, but a brave soul among us (not me, not ever) wanted to do it.

A few days before Summer break we took a frame covered with nurse bees (worker bees who have taken the role of caring for eggs, and are more docile and friendly with the queen) and brushed the bees off into a box. We took the queen from that same hive and put her in our miniature cage, then walked to the brave, soon-to-be-bearded person’s house, which was nearby. We put Vaseline under her nose and eyes to prevent the bees from being pests, she plugged her ears with cotton, and we began. The nurse bees circled our heads, then after about ten minutes started clustering on her chin. Twenty minutes later and she had a fully-fledged bee beard of, as best as I can remember, about 150 bees. Eventually the time came to collect the bees. We had a modified vacuum for that we read about on the Internet, and despite the skepticism of pretty much everyone involved, it didn’t kill a single bee. And once again, nobody got stung.

If you want to visit the bees (in the comforting embrace of a bee suit) email me at


bee sewt

Restaurant Review: The Patio

The Patio

Rating: 4 stars

Location: 524 15th Ave E, Seattle Washington 98112

The Patio, a delicious Thai restaurant  very close to Nova, is a personal favorite of mine. The Patio is a quaint, clean place that serves DELICIOUS Thai food, that gets its name from the unmissable patio in front of the building. As someone who never enjoyed Thai food in the past, this restaurant converted me into someone who constantly craves it.

Not only is the food great, but the staff is very nice. They always remember a familiar face and are always welcoming, and very quick to deliver your order. If you come often enough, they will remember your “usual” order, but of course it is great to try new dishes, and i have not disliked a single dish.

Sometimes it is hard to find a good Thai place that feels healthy, and is affordable (especially on a high school budget). Are you vegan? Try their Spring Rolls. A meat lover? Try their Swimming Rama. Thirsty? They have excellent Thai iced tea. I have witnessed people fighting over the last piece of zucchini in their green curry. My personal favorite dish of theirs is the Chicken Pad Thai with a spice level of three stars. Keep in mind that sometimes their spice levels fluctuate and aren’t always consistent, but it’s hardly ever too much spice to handle. Keep this in mind if you hate spicy foods.

The Patio is plentiful in seating, and the staff will always move tables to accommodate your group size. The restaurant is plenty spacious, although their bathroom is very cramped, and very cold, but this is a small price to pay for the yummy food.

If you ever have a break in between or after classes and get a sudden craving for Thai food, the patio is the place to go. They appreciate us high schoolers supporting their business very much, and will always make changes to better suite your enjoyment and overall experience.

A Lot Like Birds, Stolas, Sianvar, The Venetia Fair

I got to the venue (Vera Project) 4 hours early, chilled with my homies and drank a lot of coffee to get pumped for the show. And then I saw this girl I hate and she was scared to make eye contact with me and we all thought it was super funny.

So I sat behind the concessions stand so when she walked in she knew I was a boss ass bitch and she got the point.

I didn’t pay attention to the first set (The Venetia Fair) because I was outside talking to this guy and then I realized he was trying to get up on me and I was like oops nevermind.

Sianvar was pretty good. They sounded a little bit like Stolas, but not as good. I just sat back and watched because I wasn’t very into it.

After that set Stolas came on–and I heard Stolas is really good live–so I made my way to the front with my friend and we stood up there like oh damn this band is good. I later found out that they aren’t a good band to listen to at home or on media. But they’re amazing live, which makes me kind of sad.

But then A Lot Like Birds came on stage and I was front and center the whole set. I got a lot of bruises on my knees since the stage is low and I was being pushed up against it. But it didn’t bother me. Kurt Travis (lead singer) does this little dance on stage and it’s just the cutest darn thing. His microphone cord kept hitting me in the face too, but that didn’t bother me either. I touched his knee because it looked nice. It was very nice.

They played all of my favorite songs: Think Dirty Out Loud and No Nature, which made me super happy.

After the show I walked up to Kurt and was like “yo get a picture with me and my homie.” And I never knew he was so short until that day.

So besides the chick that I have beef with coming to the show, it was an amazing concert.

Book Review of Altered Carbon

Altered Carbon by Richard K Morgan

The Concept

A far-future mystery centered around a clever sci-fi idea that’s present on almost every page. The intrigue is engrossing, and it’s also a good excuse to send the protagonist to the lawless depths of a world stuffed with ideas.There’s a strong noir vibe, some nicely humanized antagonists, and not a trace of moral certainty.

When it comes to ideas, for me this book is up there with the best.

The Delivery

The writing is straightforward. Fortunately, not much else is.There are some badass similes but an equal number of efforts at snappy dialogue that fall short. There are touching character moments and others that are less convincing. Exposition is everywhere, but it’s almost always captivating.There’s action, and it’s tense, gory, and oftentimes cathartic due to the non-stop sucker punch barrage the protagonist endures. Occasionally a graphic sex scene (in futuristic context) pops up.

It’s important to point out that horrible, violent things happen in this book, in the spirit of Game of Thrones, just without the open season on main characters. It gets nasty for the protagonist, Takeshi, and he’s a scary guy who isn’t satisfied with a one-sided brawl.

The Cast

Takeshi is dangerously close to being the ultimate stoic badass (but with a good-sized heart and brain, which makes him almost believable).That may not sound like someone you want to read about. I go back and forth myself. But there’s something to be said for the good side of that archetype. Takeshi drives the story with his actions instead of being swept along by a narrative larger than him. He doesn’t do anything jaw-droppingly stupid. He’s inhumanly resilient, but I found it fresh this time around, and there is in fact a solid reason for it that’s well explained by the story and is a part of him. It’s not as if life is easy for him, it’s that I never got the sense he couldn’t take it. The other characters have the feel of a mystery story cast: not all that sympathetic, and solely present for the plot. The book is the about the world, the mystery, and the ferocious things humans do to each other.

In the next paragraph I spoil the plot stuff from the first 30 pages…

Everybody has a device attached to their brain stem that records everything that goes through their head. If someone dies and the device is unharmed, they can be downloaded into another body. Takeshi is hired by an extremely wealthy businessman named Bancroft. Bancroft believes he has been murdered, but by all appearances he killed himself.

Bancroft has backup bodies in suspended animation which are updated with his thoughts every 48 hours. The moment Bancroft died, one of his copies woke up, but the last thought-update was nearly two days before, so the copy has no idea what happened. The police are certain Bancroft killed himself, say suicide is not a rational act, and maintain that Bancroft did it despite knowing he would immediately be brought back to life. Bancroft believes he would never have a reason to kill himself and would not act irrationally in that way. After all, he’s centuries old and has intentions to stick around. What a hook! Takeshi is hired to investigate a murder, by the murder victim.

Eckstein Comedy Acts

On Tuesday, a crowd of people laughed at my jokes for the first time. Where? Eckstein Middle School, for the first annual High School Information Night. As a representative of Nova’s Recruitment Committee, I was supposed to talk about senior projects and service learning. I didn’t know what to tell the 8th graders, as I haven’t started a senior project. It’s hard enough to present something you know!

As people shuffled into the auditorium, I was stress eating the coffee cake. A pro-technology powerpoint about jobs was looping on the projector in the auditorium. The other presenters chatted with their groups, and ran last minute practices while I thought about what I was supposed to say.

The University of Washington presenters started, giving me a sinking feeling. Elaborate powerpoints, seven people on stage, and a twenty minute presentation are hard to replicate with an hour of time sitting in a seat. The UW students spoke about clubs, sports, and homework. Encouraging students to be well rounded was their top priority. But the main theme they set for the evening was that Freshman year counts.

That theme was continued with every presentation. Nathan Hale High School had a similar line up, with the 9th grade counselor talking about the same things with a focus on services you can find, such as Teen Health Centers and libraries. Periodically a Hale student would be put on the mic to talk about their experiences. Roosevelt didn’t feature students, and instead featured a school counselor talking about the daunting requirements to graduate high school.

The presentations done by the others were all very lengthy, making me realize I shouldn’t have come into this without planning. I ignored my nerves and went up to the stage, hoping I wouldn’t reflect badly on Nova.

“Hi everyone, I’m here to talk about senior projects. Unfortunately, I’m not a senior and I don’t know what senior projects are.” With the chuckles that came out of the audience, I gained a bit of courage to tell some bad jokes. “I came in completely unprepared for this. So in high school, you should be prepared.” I think the parents thought this was funnier than the students.

Fortunately I did have a topic I knew about, which was service learning. It was overall short and awkward. Fun examples such as The Vera Project and Center for Wooden Boats were mentioned. Nova even made an appearance in the speech, as I mentioned we have Nova service hours in addition to service learning.

The last presentation was another college pushing adult telling kids that high school matters to a degree that would scare even the most studious 8th grader. College is a common goal, but to the degree it was pushed to students was unnecessary. Most of the students attending an event for high school don’t need to be encouraged to go.

But when everything was finally over, I had a small mob asking questions about Nova. Even though I spoke very little about what I was assigned, at least I got information about our great school and the alternative style to the 8th graders, which is truly the purpose of Recruitment Committee.