B E C K M A N
VOLUME I | ISSUE II
Victoria Choi Gena Huynh Shannon Zhao Ruby Choi Karolyne Diep Hanna Kima
Cynthia Le Daeun Lee Michael Lee Soowon Lee Ethan Prosser Stephanie Xu
1st Wave Coffee Instant coffee
2nd Wave Coffee Convenience coffee
3rd Wave Coffee Higher quality and better sourced coffee worth paying a little extra for, along with great customer service
All drinks were created by Mr. Tran
Pour hot water in a circular motion over the grounds, using a coffee pot underneath to catch the drip until you run out of water.
From Our Cup to Yours, Coffee
Bardot Bars & Coffee // 662 El Camino Real, Tustin, CA 92780 Trendy and modern, Bardot Bars & Coffee allows customers to choose coffee roast from all over the world. Bardot Bars & Coffee boasts not just their coffee roast, but their selection of desserts and breakfast items. From avocado toast and sourdough grilled cheeses to soft serve ice cream and Belgian waffles, Bardot Bars & Coffee brings the perfect meal for a Sunday brunch or afterschool hangout. Bardot also offers a grand selection of meals ranging from eggs with bacon and toast, specialty Hong Kong bubble waffles, known as Puffle Waffles, and French toast with fruit.
Coffee Tomo // 15333 Culver Drive #450, Irvine, CA 92604 Named after the Japanese word, “tomo,” for friend, Coffee Tomo’s values are rooted in sharing a cup of coffee with others. Coffee Tomo provides gourmet, hand-drip coffee, handmade pretzels and premium espresso. Additionally, Coffee Tomo sells its unique blend of beans for customers to brew at home. While acclaimed for their coffee brew, Coffee Tomo also offers tea and assorted drinks. Pretzels are sold in delicious and unique flavors such as caramel butter, cinnamon, and garlic.
& Tea Shop Recommendations
Tea Station // 15333 Culver Drive #430, Irvine, CA 92604 Tea Station is a quaint and charming cafe that offers a multitude of tea selections ranging from Passion Fruit Black Tea to Rose Milk Tea. In addition to drinks, Tea Station offers a variety of desserts and tea-flavored dishes such as Red Bean Soup and Tea Flavored Beef Stew. Perfect for a study session or a relaxed, casual meal, Tea Station offers drinks for a tea connoisseur and comfort food.
Leaf n Cream // 14089 Newport Ave., Tustin, CA 92780 Leaf n Cream sells a variety of completely customizable milk and fruity teas. Of course, they offer a detailed menu for customers to choose from but they also give the option to choose size, tea base, milk option, flavor, sweetener level, and add-ons. Alongside delicious drinks, Leaf n Cream sells ice cream with optional topppings and Belgian Waffle Ice Cream sandwiches. Leaf n Cream provides also Jenga for customers to play. Come for the drinks and ice cream, stay for the games!
Beckman walks out L au re n Brow n
On Feb. 14 in Parkland, Florida, student Nikolas Cruz brought an AR-15 onto Stoneman Douglas High School’s campus and murdered 17 students and faculty. Survivors took action, bringing attention to additional gun control regulations that could be used to prevent school shootings, including but not limited to: enacting stricter background checks, banning semi-automatic weapons, raising the legal age to purchase guns to 21, and eliminating the gun-show loophole. This surge in student activism gripped a nation of frustrated students, prompting the coordination of a national school walkout. The national school walkout was coordinated by Women’s March Youth Empower to be on March 14, 2018. The walkout was planned to be 17 minutes in length: one minute for each person who died in the Parkland shooting. Students were encouraged to walk out of class at 10 a.m., where they could exercise their First Amendment right by engaging in peaceful political activism. Beckman was one of the thousands of schools that participated in the nationwide protest. At 10 a.m., over 600 students assembled at the clock tower before making their way to the football field. Students were heard chanting, “Enough is enough,” as the crowd moved across the blacktop. Students gathered in the middle of the field and shared the demonstration on various social media platforms with other protesters around the country. “I haven’t really been in a situation where all students come and fight together,” said senior Jared Bague. “Adults haven’t really been doing anything, so students have really been stepping up. I feel proud to be a student who can have a voice in this.” Bague held up his sign that read, “Protect Children Not Guns” while sitting on the shoulders of senior Andrew Yoo. Junior Sam Wasserman, senior Trina Vo, senior Lizzie Chu and sophomore Lana Saad stood on the bleachers and addressed the crowd through a megaphone. With them were 17 orange balloons, each with the name of a victim from the Parkland shooting. The crowd fell quiet as, one by one, each name was read aloud. The four leaders then announced that students could register to vote at the bleachers. History teacher Ken Cooper felt proud of the student body for taking a stand for change. He admired the students for their demonstrated level of organization. “They worked with the administration to make it as peaceful and as beneficial to the group as possible and I really like the fact that they have people signing and registering to vote,” said Cooper. Some students, however, felt conflicted about the timing of the event. On the morning of the walkout, students were met with a new schedule for the day. Instead of the walkout occurring during the third period, administrators created a modified schedule, causing the planned 10 a.m. walkout to fall within a 25-minute break. Many students felt that the schedule change was uncalled for, stating that the school was too involved in this student-led protest. “It doesn’t take away the power of the movement, but it
definitely lessens the power we could’ve had with it,” said senior Julia Arguelles. Due to this schedule change, word quickly spread around the school to hold an additional walkout where the students would leave their second-period classrooms at 11 a.m. Approximately 50 students participated in this second protest, and after 17 minutes, some headed back to class, while the rest left campus to protest at the flagpole. Others, however, felt the schedule change was a sign of administrative support. With the change, the designated time for the demonstration to occur was 25 minutes in length, an additional eight minutes from what was planned for the protest. Beckman’s administration also never discouraged students from participating. Other high schools around the country prevented student assembly through conducting fire and earthquake drills during the scheduled 10 a.m. protest, along with threats of punishment. However, Beckman’s administration gave the students a platform for their opinions on the relevant issue. Principal Donnie Rafter’s primary concern was keeping the students safe. Three separate groups of students approached Rafter to discuss their desire to participate in the walkout. “There were a couple groups of kids...who had come to me and said they wanted to do it,” said Rafter. At that point, it was like, okay, how can we do this as safely and as orderly as we possibly can? I worked with the three groups to basically ask them, hey, what are you hoping to accomplish? What are you wanting to do?” Some students believed that the modified schedule was a way for the school to prevent a drop in Average Daily Attendance (ADA), which directly impacts school funding. According to Rafter, this was not the intention. “I think the perception was that we [changed the schedule] for ADA recovery. It had nothing to do with ADA recovery. That wasn’t even a thought. It was more about just making sure that [the students were] safe.” This schedule change was rather made to prevent unexcused absences and reduce the number of make-up tests that may have occurred if an exam was held during the walkout. “I thought the kids who arranged it did a really good job. It was a united effort. There was an attempt to have kids to register to vote. That group was very well-organized and appeared to be productive and respected the meaning of the march,” said Rafter. Junior Shira Silver participated in the 11 a.m. walkout, but still, appreciated the school’s support of the students’ efforts. “I was a little conflicted because I wanted to be protesting and making sure our voices were heard,” Silver said. “But I’m glad the school’s at least not silencing us and preventing us from doing anything.” Students were not punished for this additional protest; however, many were marked absent, as 11 a.m. was the transition between second and third period. The national school walkout was a way to spark discussion and awareness among Beckman’s students about gun violence. Seeing how this relevant issue has a direct effect on high schools around the country, peaceful protesting was one way to begin to bring light to the issues students face. Students also planned to contact local representatives and explain the change they wish to see, as well as vote in the upcoming midterm elections taking place on Nov. 6, 2018.
In November 2017, the Alianza Nacional de Campesinas, a national group aimed toward preventing exploitation and sexual harassment against farmworker women, published an open letter in the New York Times. This letter addressed sexual harassment in Hollywood, bringing women together and forming the Timeâ€™s Up movement. Timeâ€™s Up is not just a trend. It is a movement focused on solving gender disparity and sexual harasment and assault. It supports women, men, people of color, and the LGBTQ+ community who lack financial resources for legal representation to hold wrongdoers accountable. Timeâ€™s Up is about empowerment for those marginalized. Above are some students and faculty from the Beckman community who are in support of the #TimesUp movement. Acting as advocates for the underprivileged, Beckman students and staff fight silencing, inequality, and passive ambivalence. We can no longer ignore the issue of sexual harassment. Find more information at www.timesupnow.com
The target demographic of fast fashion clothing labels are Americans in their late teens and early twenties. Ironically, these Americans also are the main supporters of increasing the minimum wages and expanding welfare programs. Choosing to shop from ethical, fair-trade clothing labels, raising awareness about the truth of fast fashion and expressing discontent with these working conditions to large companies like Forever 21 and Urban Outfitters can bring about greater change with labor practices. It is no surprise that production of staple cabinet items are rooted in human rights abuses. Most people are aware of these injustices but will not take action until it personally affects them. Consumers are quick to place the blame upon corporations and their unethical business practices. The reality is, however, that consumers continue to purchase the very products and support the companies that they condemn. Some economists claim that this actually boosts the economic welfare of both underdeveloped countries and developing countries, and the process of outsourcing creates more jobs. But the issue is not solely a matter of underpayment. Itâ€™s a matter of ethics and our willingness to support poor working conditions just to buy an inexpensive and disposable pair of jeans.
A Taste of Beckman
Not pictured: Jonathan Huang
Wired Together Matt he w B as i l i o, Han na Kim, S o owon L e e, Rumsha Muss ani, Aast ha S ehga l, Apr i l Wang
Four competitors stand in the center of the arena. A giant stopwatch looms over them—15 seconds on the clock. Multi-colored cones are scattered across the field. The competitors eye each other warily, each one anxious to begin their tasks. They stroll around the arena, testing their strength and maneuverability as the surrounding audience sits intently in their seats, waiting for the beginning of the match. Clad in metal, screws and wires, the robots are ready to compete. Three students—junior Michelle Manku, senior Jonathan Huang and sophomore Vianna Seifi—stand beside the arena, controllers in their hands. Their robot, Alexandria, sits in the corner in a maze of cones. It is the day of the Orchard Hills Middle School Tustin Unified School District Robotics Tournament and Beckman’s 2496X team, one of the five Beckman Robotics teams, waits for its round to begin. Everyone in the audience is watching the clock; the team members grip their controllers tightly; the MC counts down: three…two...one.... *** The evening sun shines into the empty classroom, gears, wires and cones strewn across the desks. A robotics championship poster covers a large portion of the classroom wall. In the front of the room, on the top of the cupboard, is a seemingly endless line of trophies from robotics competitions. A lifeless classroom at first, the room is still but soon students fill in the seats and the classroom comes to life. The stomping of feet sweeps through the room and is soon joined by the sound of wheels squeaking as they roll across the floor. Backpacks, empty food wrappers, open laptops and stationery join the clutter. 10 minutes pass and multiple teams are gathered around their respective robots. This is the home of Beckman Robotics. Beckman Robotics is a VEX program run entirely by the students, with Mr. Siu-Kong Sit, the engineering teacher, as the advisor. Out of the 80 applicants who apply for this rigorous program, only 40 get accepted, most coming from middle school robotics programs. The accepted applicants then take on at least one of many different roles, all essential in creating a robot: programmers, note-takers, builders and drivers. Members of each respective role are placed into five separate teams: Team R, Team N, Team V, Team Y and Team X. “We’re all expected to rely on each other in order to succeed as a team,” explains Jonathan Huang. As the only boy and senior on Team X, Jonathan felt slightly out of place at first, even though it was his second year on the team. In a field dominated by males, his situation is unique but a welcomed sign of the changing demographics of robotics. He has developed a close bond with the other members of Team X, especially with Vianna, whom he works with as a driver.
Along with Jonathan and Vianna, Michelle Manku occasionally serves as a driver, though her main role as a programmer delegates her to the coding of the robot. The other members of the team—Gnamitha Naganathanahalli, Hailey Park, Surabhi Tadvalker and Anna Spence—are all builders who construct the physical parts that make up the robot. Misha Seifi, Vianna’s sister, is in charge of the engineering notebook where she records ideas, observations and every small detail about the machine’s progress. In the back of the room, cones are scattered across a mock arena. One by one, the robots are placed onto the stage. Several students begin to surround the arena, attentively testing the robot with their eyes dialed in as other students sit at a desk, crunching codes onto their computers. Manipulating the robot is no simple task. It requires the utmost concentration and a great deal of finesse. Every variable holds the same weight as the other—not one measurement can be ignored in order to produce championship-calibre results. Regardless of these major pressures, the environment buzzes with excitement. Team members cheer on their robots, relishing the competitive atmosphere. Despite their arduous tasks, Team X constantly laughs and jokes with each other while their hands work with the complicated robot below them. Their deadline is in five months, but with the experience of a veteran team like X, they only need three. They are to construct a machine that is capable of stacking cones on top of each other and transporting them back to their respective sides. However, a task such as stacking cones is more difficult than it seems. “I have tipped the stack over several times, and it’s one of the most disappointing things that can happen to you,” says Vianna. The sophomore, who has been on the team for two years, is the primary driver on the team and plays a significant role in making sure the robot does not malfunction during the rounds. Despite the setbacks Team X faced, they continue to make the minuscule changes required to make their robot flawless. The whole team is very fond of their robot: they had even given it a very human-like name. “Alexandria is like robot 2.0,” Vianna says. “The first version was named Alex. It’s kind of like tradition—every time we rebuild and improve upon the robot, we slightly change the name so that it’s still the same robot but better.” Even though the robots are tested multiple times, overlooking the smallest part can result in a major setback. “You want to take the time to build it right, because taking things apart is a lot more trouble than just doing it slowly and correctly the first time,” says Vianna. Her instincts tell her to rush through the building process, but she knows that going slowly will be beneficial in the long run, especially in the coding process. Coding is an essential part of the art of robotics as it is the backbone of the robot’s mobility and efficiency. The robot’s code has to be perfect, down to the last character—any error would be detrimental to their robot’s performance. Occasionally, older members are more reluctant to accept new ideas about the design of the robot. “Sometimes we get
trapped in a mindset,” says Jonathan. “Experienced members have seen so many of the same kind of robots, and they are not open to new ideas.” That is when new members can help out: “The new members bring fresh ideas, where the experienced members help improve on [them].” With every day checked off on the calendar, the margin of error continues to grow smaller. The robot stops turning the extra five degrees and nails each and every motion without fail. The intricate contraption begins to do its work, adhering to its instructions with laser-like precision, unfaltering no matter the amount of turns. “When the robot does well, it’s just a testament to all our hard work and effort we put into it,” says Anna Spence, another member of the X team who is in charge of building, notebooking and scouting. After weeks of tedious corrections and trials, the team is finally ready to compete. *** In the multipurpose room, the sound of shoes squeaking echoes as students shuffle from table to table, fingers working dexterously on wires and controllers as robots maneuver around the mock arena with methodical pace and precision. It is competition day, and all the teams anxiously await their turn to put their robots to the test. The sounds of motors whirring and friendly chatter fill the air as Team X, dressed in formal attire displaying their Beckman pride with blue hats, test their robots in the center of the gym. In this room, the students prepare their robots before they venture over to the gym to compete. Each team has their own table with wires, gears and an assortment of snacks spilled across it. Propped up on the table is a poster board for each robot, outlining the design and building process with bright pictures and elegant text pasted neatly on the boards. Team X’s board is proudly presented on the table. The name, Alexandria, is pasted across the top of the display, and pictures of all the team members of X in different Snapchat filters line the bottom. Team X nervously waits for their turn, adjusting the robot in the arena while glancing at the clock. They are going to compete against Foothill High School and Orchard Hills Middle School, teams well-known in the field. “We have a rivalry with Foothill—they’re really good,” explains Anna. Soon, it is time for Alexandria’s first match. Team X marches towards the gym, hearing the noise of the multipurpose room fade away as they felt the exhilaration of the upcoming round. The battleground is revealed as the doors open. Three arenas are set up on the gym floor, each one filled with multiple cones. Michelle, Vianna and Jonathan place their robot on their respective side of the arena and begin talking quietly amongst one another, all focused on the match. As the teams from Foothill and Orchard Hills put their robots in the arena, the rest of Team X sits on the bleachers on the edge of their seats, closely watching their other teammates prepare for the first match. As the MC begins to announce the match, Jonathan and Vianna grip their controllers tighter, the other teams tense up and the crowd falls silent. Game time. Cone after cone, the robots effortlessly scoop up the bright yellow cylinders from the ground and drop them on the platform on the robot. Alexandria speedily moves around the arena, completing tasks just like it has been programmed to do. Sud-
denly, the smooth whirring of Team X’s robot stops, and the noise is replaced by a grinding screech. With a violent twist, the once stable axle had snapped along with their confidence. Their robot can no longer perform its intended task. Back in the multipurpose room, Team X rushes to repair their robot. “The worst thing that could have happened to us, happened,” Anna says. The axle malfunctioning hurt Alexandria’s performance, and Team X has to find a way to fix it. Anna, Vianna, Michelle and Jonathan kneel together, their hands skillfully replacing the axle. Once again, they place the robot in the practice arena to test out the new part. Hands clenched, they stare at the robot, praying for it to work—it would take a miracle to pull through. Still for what seems like hours, the robot finally comes to life, running smoothly. Smiles spread across the teammates’ faces as they throw their hands up in success at solving this problem. Team X is back inside the gym for their second match, tension wrapped around the members after their recent malfunction. Cheers erupt from Anna and the other members of the team as Michelle, Vianna and Jonathan return to the battlefield. The second match begins, and the robots snap into motion. The match starts off the same, each robot moving with accuracy and speed. Team X watches with anxiety, hoping their axle will not fail them again. As the match goes on, Alexandria continues to perform well, completing its tasks perfectly. The match finally ends with a flawless performance from Team X. Michelle, Vianna and Jonathan smile at each other while the other members of Team X rest contently, satisfied with their performance. The match concludes with Team X claiming the most amount of points, making up for the setback in the first match, and they walk away victorious. Regardless of earlier mishaps, Team X returns home with greater aspirations for the rest of the season. *** The afternoon sun begins to penetrate the darkness of the empty classroom—gears, wires and cones scattered around the room. The home of Beckman Robotics, filled with trophies and posters from past victories, is now silent. As the students file in and occupy the once-vacant seats, the room erupts in sounds of laughter and greetings, and among the students, Team X laughs with them. For Team X, they cannot help but think back to the competition, a slight bitterness surrounding the performance of their robots. But when the members remind themselves of the progress they made in building the robot, the failures that enabled small successes and the excitement of yet another weekend filled with robots, Team X brims with pride and eagerness for the many more competitions to come.
Max-imizing Potential Aarushi Bhaskaran, Lauren Brown, Thomas Jang, Nelson Lou, Allison Perez, Ivanna Tjitra
Senior Max Jensen pushes through the gym’s heavy doors. It’s 9:39 a.m. and the bell rings, signaling the start of third period at Beckman High School. The gym fills up with students chatting with one another as they slowly make their way to their assigned Physical Education (PE) classes. Mrs. Stacy Colón, one of the PE teachers, coaches a Life Fitness class that includes both students with special needs and students in general education programs. Today, she is still in the locker room as her class sits in groups of four to five, awaiting their instructions for their daily warm-up. Each day, the class begins with conversation openers, such as “how was your day?” followed by a flowing discussion of the day’s events. Routines are important for this class, as familiarity with the days’ agenda reduces anxiety for certain students. The freshmen, sophomores and juniors wear their PE uniforms—light gray t-shirts and navy blue shorts or sweatpants—yet one of their members stands out in the crowd. Max moves around the gym, donning a cream-white sweater and jeans. He is the only student not wearing a PE uniform and the only student not seated. As he strides through the gym, he pauses every so often to talk to friends in the groups. Max isn’t very hard to miss. At 5’11, he towers above most of the students in the gym. His muted red hair only caps off his height, making him even more prominent. As the only senior, he’s used to standing out. Even more so, he’s wholly integrated with the crowd. As he should be—Max has been an indispensable part of Mrs. Colón’s integrated PE class since its inception during his sophomore year. At Beckman High School, students are required to take PE for two years. Most wouldn’t consider taking the class for all four years. Not many students are fans of changing in locker rooms and wearing a PE uniform more than they are required to. But Max loves it—not necessarily the outfit, but the people wearing them. “I realized there was a lot of heart and purpose in this class,” Max says. “I felt I could make more of an impact here.” As Mrs. Colón’s trusted Teacher Assistant (TA), Max definitely makes an impact on the class. All throughout third period, Max not only enjoys spending time with his peers, but he helps students with special needs enjoy the various activities too. Some days, his presence alone offers the comfort the students need to engage in the activities. He takes notes, attendance, mile times, and completes other various tasks. Although he’s not as involved during times like this, his warm company is always a constant. Other days, he’s running amongst them in soccer games or obstacle courses. The exhilaration that Max adds to the class nestles in the hearts of his peers. In turn, the students reflect the effort Max and the aides put forth. Pauline, with her slew of jokes and playful banter, brings cheerfulness and humor to the class. Ava likes to tease and fool around with her classmates. Manny is the most motivated, as seen through his attempt to keep track of everyone’s names and birthdays. Gilly comforts friends with her affection and warm hugs.Emma loves holding hands and admiring the jewelry her classmates wear. Eric, who recently underwent knee surgery, effortlessly participates in arm exercises as he wears a brace. Garrett uses a walker to move around the gym. He tries his hardest even when he doesn’t use it
during step-up practice. Although he doesn’t talk much, everyone knows his iconic smile when he’s proud of what he accomplishes. The kids’ energy and willingness to participate always creates a positive atmosphere. Mrs. Colón presides over the class, blowing into the plastic whistle hanging around her neck to get the group’s attention. She is tall, with straight dark-brown hair that she usually wears in a medium-high ponytail. Her rectangular-rimmed glasses balance on her nose as she moves about the gym checking in with groups and shouting out the next set of instructions. She came up with the idea of an integrated PE class while working with the district’s adapted PE teacher. “He and I always tossed around the ideas about how we can better include our students with special needs and he said to me one day, ‘Why don’t you create a separate game from what you’re doing and ask some of the general education students to come over and play a modified game with these students?’ And then the idea sort of blew up from there,” says Mrs. Colón. So the class began in 2015—a group of kids in the general education program was randomly placed in the integrated class, and, as luck would have it, sophomore Max Jensen found himself at the start of his journey. Not much has changed in the activities and games the students participated in the last few years. There is one noticeable difference: Mrs. Colón and Max have both found more confidence in the class. With time and and little bit of experimentation, Mrs. Colón has learned that she can place more responsibility upon the kids in the general education program. Max, for his part, grew from a shy and reserved kid to someone far more outgoing, with direction and passion in life. As Max continued in the class, however, he blossomed from someone who did not enjoy exercise and was too shy to participate into a more confident, helpful and involved student. “I think he improved in every aspect of his Life Fitness class. From the beginning until now, he’s definitely more outgoing and it’s nice to see that he’s more confident than he was,” says Mrs. Colón. Max would be the first to tell you that the PE inclusion class has impacted his life more than the impact he has made upon some of the students. “It’s a nice break from the day and it’s such a positive environment. It can be a little nerve-wracking at first with all the leadership and responsibility that comes with it, but it’s genuinely a positive experience,” he explains. “He’s just a good-hearted kid,” Mrs. Colón says, her smile widening as she talks about him. “It’s not very often that people give up their electives to come back to PE, or to take an extra class
when they don’t need it. He could probably go home early, but he stays to have this class in his schedule. It’s really meaningful to me.” Class begins with the warm-up; the gym echoes with the rumble of exercising students as the rubber soles of 46 pairs of shoes thud and screech against the hardwood floor. Running in place, jumping jacks, high-knees. Mrs. Colón blows her whistle and the students chaotically switch from one exercise to the next, and then the next, each switch followed by a brief surge in the noise as the class struggles to find a rhythm. The students perform their warm-ups in groups of four or five, adult aides assisting kids with walkers while student aides in the general education program motivate those on a modified exercise program. As some kids with special needs begin to get distracted or struggle with the movement, words of encouragement from their counterparts join the din. “You’ve got this!” “That’s right! Keep going!” “Yes! That’s how you do it!” Class begins in this fashion most days: a jumble of kindness and chaos as worlds collide when two groups of kids leading different lives share smiles and tales of how their day is going. Such an environment in this class is conducive to the learning needs of kids with disabilities, allowing them a much-needed sense of normalcy. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) contains a provision stating that students receiving special education should be in the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE). Theses students should spend as much time as possible with peers who are considered typical learners. This is accomplished either through mainstreaming classrooms, where students with special needs are placed into general education programs or by inclusion classrooms. This PE class serves as a partial inclusion class where these kids get a chance to leave the environment of their classroom in Room 316 and befriend other people their age. Programs and classes like this are not common, yet have such a profound impact on all those involved. It is an irreplaceable opportunity for both groups of kids to bridge the gap between people with special needs and those without in a world of needless division. The shrill screech of a whistle cuts the air and the warmup comes to an end. The students are now seated, still in their circles. Max crouches down beside one of the groups, talking animatedly with its members. Mrs. Colón dismisses each group to the field so they can
go play soccer. She then instructs the class to form two lines in their teams and begin kicking the ball to one another. Alex, one of the students, doesn’t want to participate. “It’s hot,” he says plaintively to Max, who proceeds to help him up and tries to encourage him to join the game. With a little encouragement they both go back to playing the game with the others. Max, with great enthusiasm, helps his team and gives them moral support, a talent he’s always possessed. However, supporting students with special needs was not always something on Max’s radar. As a child, he wanted to pursue a career in the arts with drawing and painting. That idea quickly faded when he realized
that art was too challenging for him to follow. Then in the summer of seventh grade, Max volunteered in his local church by looking after preschoolers. This began his fascination in working with kids. The summer before sophomore year, Max found a class he’d never heard of before on his course selection sheet: Life Fitness Reverse Inclusion Class. He was one of the students that was enrolled in Mrs. Colón’s inclusion class without any warning. Little did he know, this class would change the course of his life and his future forever. Pursuing his interests, Max continued to take care of preschoolers in his church every other Sunday. The summer programs were simply not enough. As he entered his junior year, his passion became clearer. He wanted to minor in psychology, learn about autism and undertake child development and early education. The opportunities seemed limitless. At the end of his junior year, as he was drafting his college essays, his future occupation became clearer. He knew he wanted to help kids grow, either as an elementary or a special education teacher. Through Max’s ambitions and his self-growth, he has touched the lives of so many students in the PE class. He has gained the trust and admiration of his peers through his hardwork and perseverance. “My first impression of Max was: really friendly,” says sophomore Jessica Ark, one of Max’s classmates and a student aide in the inclusion class. “Max is not the type of person where it takes a while to know him. He’ll talk to anyone about anything and he’s really sweet. With one word to describe him, I would say friendly and outgoing—he’s just a really well-rounded and kind person overall.”
As the five-minute bell marks the end of class, the kids prepare to exit the soccer field. Cheers and shouts of “great job” are shared with teammates and opposing players.. Before they file off of the field and head to the locker rooms, the kids give high-fives to their classmates. The student aides and the teachers stay behind to clean up. Every class ends with a reflection about the day’s events. The student aides consider activities that could be conducted in the future and how to make the class more exciting and inviting for the kids. These conversations fill the student aides with ideas on how to connect more with the kids. Occasionally, these conversations lead to thoughts about college and future careers in supporting students with special needs. Although he adores what he does for his school community, Max must also focus on the path he will take after high school. Back at his house, Max sifts through the college acceptance letters on the carpet floor. He brings a cold hand to his warm face, lost in deep thought. Biola University: Offers Child Development Permits. Close to home but a small campus. Seattle Pacific: Offers Human Development & Family Studies as a Major. Familiar with the area, beautiful city and close to his dad’s family. However, it’s cold and small. Samford: A beautiful, large campus but far away and in an unfamiliar place. Offers strong programs for developmental studies. Majors include: Early Childhood, Special Education, Elementary and Elementary Collaborative Education. He eventually selects Samford as it seems to be the best option to help him reach his goal of working with kids. In his mind, there is no greater career he could wish to strive for. A career that nurtures those who need it and one that allows him to connect with more students with special needs. Or maybe he will become an elementary teacher, helping young children develop the love and acceptance he feels toward everyone. Or maybe both. “I would like to try both in my life. I also think it’d be cool to minor in psychology or learn about autism in general, whether it’s helping [students with special needs] or just younger kids.” With his confirmation to enroll and the excitement of this new chapter revealing itself to him, he knows that he will be ready for whatever life may throw at him.
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