Beyond Prospect Sierra
Rachel Richardson, Poet and Prospect Sierra Alum, talks about lessons learned at Prospect Sierra.
Saba is a senior at Lick-Wilmerding High School in San Francisco this fall. His favorite subjects are math and physics.
Saba says the coursework at Lick-Wilmerding is hard, but he loves the challenge. When asked whether the transition to high school was difficult, Saba replied, “Not at all. It has been a breeze. I was academically very well prepared for high school, especially in writing.” He has also become more comfortable with the workload over time. Saba’s advice to those entering high school is, “Stay true to yourself, keep the future in mind at all times, and balance is the key to success.”
During his sophomore year, Saba participated in a service trip to Senegal led by his wood shop teacher, a Senegalese national. The team built benches and desks for the village as their service project. “I spoke no Wolof (the local dialect) when I arrived and lived with a family of nine for three weeks——it was great!”
A nationally ranked windsurfer, Saba placed 4th in the country in his age group last year, and last summer, he focused his energy on creating and teaching a course on Design Thinking through the Design School at Stanford University. Saba and four other high school and college representatives created a three day long workshop attended by educators from around the world: An Educator’s Guide to Design Thinking. “I like building things that are useful,” he explains. This workshop was attended by teachers and administrators from Prospect Sierra. We can attest to the level of planning, creativity, and the excitement of this program!
Knowing of Saba’s interest in building things, David Clifford, the metal shop teacher at Lick, introduced Saba to David Kelly, CEO of IDEO Corporation. “David is an engineer who hates engineering,” says Saba. Kelly taught him that “design thinkers can be creative but sit down and do the work, too.”
With such a creative mind, what is Saba interested in studying in college? “Mechanical engineering, most likely,” he smiles. “Engineering is the tool that will make the ideas I come up with real.”
Shawn is quick to smile. A social and gregarious 17 year old, he started his senior year at The Bentley School in 2011.
Shawn entered Prospect Sierra as a 6th grader and credits the school bus for helping
his transition. “Lots of kids take the bus, and I made friends across many grades.”
Shawn confesses that he is naturally outgoing and actually loves to talk. This
propelled him to participate on the Student Council in middle school and to
work with the Admissions Office—providing student perspective and helping to
organize special events.
He has carried on his willingness to participate at Bentley, both on the Parliamentary
Debate team and with the Peer Counseling program. In the latter, he welcomes and
supports new students as they integrate into academics and school life.
Shawn says his adjustment to high school was easy, and he felt fully prepared. He ran
cross-country throughout his three years in middle school; as a result, he started on
the Varsity cross-country team at Bentley as a freshman.
Academically, he was able to skip Geometry, Pre-Calculus, and Physics 1 -placing directly into Honors Algebra II, Honors Freshman Science, and Spanish 3. He loved AP Chemistry his junior year, and looks forward to AP Physics in 2011.
Shawn shares his skills and passions by volunteering at Oakland’s Chabot Space & Science Center and at the Oakland Public Library. In addition, he runs a Math & Science tutoring business with a philanthropic bent; while 20% of his earnings compensate him for his time, the other 80% goes to buy calculators, pencils, paper, and other school supplies for his tutoring clients.
Shawn’s advice to those starting high school? “Be kind to those who are younger than you are. You can make friends everywhere.”
Raina Welch, Class of 2008, is a poised and focused 17 year old entering her senior year at Saint Mary’s College High School this fall. Raina joined Prospect Sierra in the 5th grade. “High school prep started immediately! Because of that, the work requirements at St. Mary’s have been easy to meet.”
She credits both her humanities classes and the writing program at Prospect Sierra, where she learned to master structure and presentation, for making the transition into high school easier to her than it was for others.
Growing up in a multi-cultural neighborhood, Raina became interested in studying other languages as a child. “It was like those kids had a secret code, and I wanted to know what it was.” Support from the World Language program at Prospect Sierra propelled her early interest in language study. Interested in the two most widely-spoken languages in the world, she studied Spanish in middle school and took Mandarin as an elective in high school. Raina will complete AP Spanish this year and aspires to become a Simultaneous Translator at the United Nations.
Raina has also participated in the choir throughout her high school career. In addition to singing in jazz choirs outside of school, she will perform this year with St. Mary’s invitation-only Chamber Choir, which she has been asked to co-direct with a friend.
“My social life is beautiful!” she exclaims. “There are so many different people and everyone is so welcoming.” Her advice to students entering high school is: “Be yourself, be proud of who you are, what you like, and how you connect the two.” She emphatically adds, “Get organized … and start with your locker!”
Interested in seeing more Prospect Sierra Alums? Check out some photos from the Class of 2011 Pizza Party.