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"Story is the wisdom that can guide you to your true destiny--both temporal and spiritual. All of the great myths, legends, and fairy tales have that power. If you understand their secrets, they can guide you to a full realization of your self. Great stories are designed to guide us to our full potential and are as necessary to our well-being as fresh air."
-James Bonnet, author Stealing Fire From the Gods.

Here are some stories and we hope you find some fresh air.

Abdullah Alexander

Skateboards For Syrians: Students Help Classmate Make Good On Decade-Old Promise

posted at Students at High Tech High in Point Loma are wrapping up their school year — and a special gift for Syrian refugees. They will send 15 skateboards to a Jordanian afterschool program for Syrian children. But there is more to the story than a nice gesture. "I call you all 'The Dream Keepers' because Abdullah had a dream, a wish that he made when he was seven," said high school humanities teacher Lisa Griffin. She was talking to fourth-graders from High Tech Elementary next door about Abdullah Alexander. The High Tech High junior lived in Syria while his father was attending a university program there. When he left, he promised he would return with skateboards for all of his friends. Five years later, a civil war broke out. read more >>  
Rafael Rosas, HTHCV graduate

The Disadvantage of Being an HTHCV Graduate in College

posted at High Tech High Chula Vista is unique in every sense of the word. Between project based learning, PoL’s, and the daily challenge to the established public education system, HTHCV immediately stands out from any pool of high schools. As a student ambassador at HTHCV, I had the opportunity to give tours to all sorts of visitors from around the world: educators, politicians, parents and prospective students, and in one instance, a television production crew from Brazil. Walking down our one hallway school, it is very easy to sound impressive and be impressed, as you share about the projects and HTHCV as a whole to your visitors. read more >>  

How My Project-Based School Prepared Me for ColumbiaLuna Rey

posted at Portfolio School

As admissions coordinator at Portfolio School, I am privileged to work with parents as they make an important choice about their child’s future. The understandable questions are asked and reflected upon: which type of environment is right for my child, which type of school will prepare them best for the future, which type of environment will lead them to getting into a top college. As someone who went to Columbia by way of a non-traditional project-based school, I am able to share with parents my own experience coming to a top college, and my feelings on how well prepared I was for success thanks to my academic background.

I was 11 years old when I started my career at High Tech Middle Media Arts. I was drawn to High Tech High(HTH), a network of charter schools in San Diego, California dedicated to project-based learning, because of their high college acceptance rates and smaller class sizes. Although they were less than 10 years old when I started, they had already made a name for themselves based on their unique project-based learning curriculum and their over 90% college acceptance rate. read more >>  

High school isn't what it used to be

posted in The San Diego Union Tribune In the old days — before globalization 3.0 and the age of the internet — all you had to do was be on time, have a good memory and stay out of trouble. Now, we see jobs disappearing, everybody seems to have a 3.5 GPA and a decent SAT. To be competitive, you have to have a new skill set for a very new economy. You are competing for a job with every kid in the world for a new (and shrinking) workplace that values creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship — things that are not routinely nurtured in most schools. Not only are we facing offshoring and outsourcing, according to a recent study by Oxford Research, “nearly half of all jobs are vulnerable to machines — to applications using information technology.” It was predicted that more than 47 percent of the jobs that exist today would be gone — forever — over the next 20 years. Yes, the world has changed, and what we called high school must change too. And it is changing — perhaps too slowly. In 1996, San Diego’s Business Roundtable and the Economic Development Corp. wanted a school that turned out the kind of young people in demand by San Diego’s high-tech businesses. This helped birth a school called High Tech High. It’s really not about high tech, though. It is about design thinking, art integration and project-based learning. It’s about learning how to learn and thinking differently about what you learn. read more >>  

Launching a Weather Balloon, Learning Together

posted at Education Week This post is by Nadia Gloag, 9th Grade Student at the Gary and Jerri-Ann Jacobs High Tech High in San Diego, CA. Launching weather balloons the first semester of high school is not exactly common, but that was the challenge presented by our teachers when we started the school year in September. Our teachers had launched weather balloons before, so we had complete faith that, as adults, they knew what they were doing and would lead us through the process and to success. However, as our project got underway, we realized that our teachers had a different understanding of how the process would unfold. We were going to learn how to successfully launch these weather balloons together. Our first step was to determine our balloon's payload, which is everything you want to send up to the stratosphere and the chassis that carries it. It's like the basket on a hot-air balloon, but instead of putting people in it, we were going to use it to carry cameras, GPS trackers, and some experiments. We asked our teachers what they had used as the payload on past weather balloons. We trusted that they had a good idea of what worked well. Imagine our surprise when they presented us with a small black lunchbox. How could we make sure our two GPSs were far enough apart so they wouldn't interfere with each other? Could we even find a camera that would be able to shoot good footage on such a small chassis? Turns out our teachers didn't really know what was best, they just provided a starting point. Our group of weather ballooners decided we needed a better chassis, so we designed a new one. We designed it on Adobe Illustrator and laser cut it out of a bit of whiteboard (see image below for our design). We were ready to start assembling the weather balloon.   read more >>