Is Technology at RPA Really an Added Help, Or Just a Major Inconvenience?

Image by the author.

Image by the author.

Redmond Proficiency Academy, along with many other schools as of late, has moved on to a more technologically based way of learning. Utilizing programs like Google Drive and Alma, schools are finding new ways for teachers and students to interact and get work done in the classroom, with students using Google Docs to write their essays and teachers using Google Classroom to keep students up to date with the current projects. But the question arises: do these new additions actually help students get their work done, or just get in the way of productivity?  

Let’s start with how the students view and use the technological privileges offered at RPA. Based off interviews with students, most students find Google Classroom’s accessibility very useful. They enjoy the extra organization it gives them in their already cluttered lives. Students also really appreciate the ability to type up an essay online through Google Docs for the convenience and help of features such as Spell-Check. As for Alma, the feedback from students has not been as positive. Though useful in certain ways, it leaves much to be desired. “Get rid of Alma,” says Azriel Fall, RPA junior. “It’s just too confusing, so I end up just not using it that often.” says Sage Walden, RPA sophomore. The ability to acquire your grades or your transcript at a moment's notice would be nice, if you could easily navigate through the confusing tab system or the almost non-existent mobile compatibility. The lacking mobile user interface is what really hinders it. Seeing as almost every student likes to use their smartphone for anything and everything, it just removes another level of convenience.

Even though some of these programs have their issues (*cough* *cough* Alma), the places where these programs seem to shine is the availability, accessibility, and the organization these programs bring to students’ already loaded school day. Students enjoy the ease of typing an essay and turning it in online, basically excluding the need for paper at all. In total these programs really help students get work done with efficiency and ease, and are a welcomed addition to the average student’s school days.  

A Review: A Midsummer Night's Dream

Art by Trinity Wang

Art by Trinity Wang

The McClay Performing Arts Center, the brand new building at Redmond Proficiency Academy, had its inauguration on October 28th with the opening of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The line outside the door captured the anticipation of community and family members alike to be the first to see the product of months of work and tireless preparation on the behalf of RPA theatre students and director Kate Torcom. With this being the first Shakespearean play at RPA, this group of talented students had some big shoes to fill. With this performance, however, they could have filled an entire closet.

A full house on opening night is a testament to the quality of the performance given in the McClay. Even though it was created in the same month the show opened, the new space created an intimate place where everyone felt free to say hello to each other. Thus the audience felt open to laughing and reacting - which they most definitely did. This comedic show about romance gone awry exceeded expectations.

The cast went above and beyond in this production. Present-day Central Oregon served as the setting for the play, and the background was kept simple: a flat painted like a mountain as the backdrop allowed the audience to focus on the Shakespearean language. George Hegarty, a humanities teacher at RPA, served as the Dramaturg for the production, and his, as well as the actors’, skill showed. The language was skillfully articulated and the emotion was clearly felt as seen by the visceral reactions throughout the audience. The wardrobe crew did an excellent job with symbolic costuming: as Demetrius is running from Helena and chasing after Hermia, he is in running clothes. Equally as symbolic, Lysander’s red jacket changing between each woman shows his affections shifting. The use of lighting to complement emotional scenes was excellent as well, and the choreography and stage directions of the play were both something that truly brings the audience into the story.

As the show progressed actors were coming from all sides and areas of the theatre: downstage, upstage, the back of the house, through the audience, and basically anywhere else you can think of. The choreography of the wedding and at the beginning of the show was well thought out. While Puck and the fairies were dancing, their quick, flitting, playful movements nicely reflected their character. The use of levels in scenes and while dancing offered much variety and kept the movement interesting. There was only one complaint among several audience members: due to the setup of the stage and chairs, as well as the levels of scenes, whenever any actors were on the ground those with seats in the back of the house could not see. However, this very seldom happened and, as the actors’ voices were filled with emotion, the feeling was still evident.

In her end notes, Torcom says “this production has just scratched the surface of the beauty of collaborative theatre when it truly incorporates our students’ many talents.” As an audience member, this was clearly seen as the production encompassed everything that one could wish for in a performance: talented actors, an excellent set, and artists of all disciplines. The endless praise of audience members did not cease until everyone had left the site, and even then I am sure the chatter of the truly impressive take on A Midsummer Night’s Dream will continue until the community gets the opportunity to see again the might of the cast and crew this spring.

Why Darkroom Is Still Important

photo by the author.

photo by the author.

Throughout the years the world has had many inventions, many advances in technology, this includes cameras. All cameras used film, a strip of sections in which mixed with chemicals images would appear. Now we are almost completely digital, pictures are now stored in a drive/chip, and is not physically there.This goes to show how the world is changing constantly, and advances is beginning to take over. Our textbooks are becoming iPads, or laptops. Our whiteboards are linked to our computers, and cars can drive themselves. There are even phones as watches, we can text and call on our wrists. Of all these changes into the digital world, it still goes to show how much film means.

Film photography is still one of the most commonly used forms of photography by professionals, and in my opinion film is still better. Don’t get me wrong  I’m a fan of digital as well, it is easier to email and send to clients/friends/family. There are many things that you can do in digital photography, that you cannot do with film. Like photoshop, which yes, takes some time and effort, but personally I enjoy physically printing the picture. The messiness of the chemicals, the do overs, and the process that you must follow. When taking as much time as film needs it is worth more to me personally. Here are just a few reasons Ii believe film is worth more…

  1. Film photography is calming; The time that film takes to process and print, it takes my mind off the world, off my worries. It gives me enough time to just breathe and focus on something that calms me, and to me the world just kind of stops moving in a way. It gives me ‘quite time’, and is very peaceful.

  2. More authentic; With DSLR you are able to take any great picture and crop it, enhance it, and throw a filter on it. You could just throw on a black and white filter and call it good. But when shooting with at 35mm film camera, you have no choice to enhance it, to filter it. You get a black and white picture if you use black and white film. And you may be able to slightly crop it, and change contrast. But you’re choices of change are limited.

  3. I enjoy a nice surprise, while working with film sometimes that surprise can be a bad thing. Your film can be ruined, it can be blank, it can be scratched, and exposed to the light. One time I even took 32-35 shots, and SURPRISE!  There was no film in my camera, I was actually so angry. But it was my own fault, and mistakes happen, so you learn. And sometimes there are good surprises, like your picture turns out so beautiful, better than expected. Or you make a mistake and it comes out better than your original idea.  


An Article About Articles

                                                                                                             Laser 3.14 via

                                                                                                             Laser 3.14 via

I sat down in my Podcast and Publication class with little concept of what the class would offer. I knew I liked podcasts and publications so there I was. McLaughlin tells us what the class is all about; we run the school magazine and create 3 or more stories per year. Simple enough right?

We began to brainstorm ideas and I found one that landed, music. I considered writing an article about the parts of music that help students and how the institution of the internet influenced the music listening experience. I quickly ran into an issue though, how do I write an article that is actually interesting?

I realized that the students of RPA are not buzzing about the latest Speck article. Why is that? How do I change that? In a frenetic word dump, I came up with 4 distinct styles of news.


BREAKING NEWS! A leak from NSA database reveals controversial news articles provide a 60% increase in number of readers! Late on Friday the 23rd, an unknown source released 5,000 files from the NSA’s top secret server, all revealing the role that controversy plays in news stories. Key components of the data reveal the attractiveness of these stories. They attract various walks of life and provide the working class citizens of America with excitement. Primarily, these stories create a feeling of connection to a greater narrative.


These 15 Facts About News Articles Will Blow Your MIND! Our relatable and easy to understand format, will show you the wild facts that the news industry is HIDING from you.


A peer reviewed essay from Princeton reveals no one finds comedy journalism entertaining. News outlets like the Onion are shown to be supported only by internet-using-cats whose dry tasteless humor can only be sated by poorly written faux news articles.


The last category entails articles that are genuinely interesting to the reader base, which I hope I have attained through this article. Considering what makes news appealing to an audience gives valuable insight into how to write articles and will help consumers understand why they like certain news styles. Whether it be clickbait, controversy, or comedy, it is important to distinguish between different styles of news media. Each of these distinct styles appeal to our deepest emotions; happiness, fear, or satisfaction. Controversy gives us a sense of adventure and excitement in our sometimes dull lives. Clickbait provides endless and easy to consume entertainment. Comedy makes us laugh and can make light of issues that are taken too seriously. Finally, genuinely interesting articles can provide readers countless different things. Every one of these articles holds a special piece that benefits the reader. As I continue to write this year, I want to find that special piece that resonates with the school.






Destinations for Talented Sheep

During my childhood, I unknowingly held two beliefs about the world. First, I thought individual choices were largely independent of cultural influence. Secondly, I viewed cultures around the world to be externally different and nuanced, but internally driven by the same universal goals. Over the past 14 months, I've lived in three different countries: Samoa; the United States; the Czech Republic. From this experience, I have discovered that culture and one’s sense of self are intricately connected.

As an exchange student in the Czech Republic, I've viewed the world through a pair of Czech glasses for the past five months and it’s revealed much about my home country. In the United States, being an exceptional individual is revered. Walking through the hallways of my American high school, I was bombarded with images of the iconic greats-- Einstein, Martin Luther King Junior, Babe Ruth or Louis Armstrong, to name a few. Their faces captured on posters, alongside an inspirational quote, remind myself and my fellow classmates, exceptionalism is possible for us, too, if we persist. As these great figures become our societal ideal, we fear their polar opposite: "averageness.” The popular cultural standard of awarding participation ribbons for all children in competitions exemplifies the American fear of mediocrity. American culture teaches us to strive for individual distinguishment from our peers.

In the Czech Republic, for the first time in my life, I’ve met many fifteen year olds who aspire to be pharmacists. Whether a by-product of their communist past or general cultural pessimism, Czechs are very practical about their lives. Few of the peers at my European high school dream big. Dreaming big may bring Americans happiness, but all of my Czech friends seem very content about their lives. There's something more: europeans believe talent is innate, rather than cultivated. School systems are divided early on by ability. If Czech children are not academically inclined, they attend trade school. Czechs acknowledge not everyone is equal; not everyone will become Einstein.

So where do my dreams of becoming a Senator, publishing scientific research and writing a few novels in my lifetime come from? In fact, my dreams have more to say about my culture than they do about myself. If I had grown up in the Czech Republic, I might be just as happy being a pharmacist. Pharmacy is a respectable field, after all.

It’s critical to understand your cultural values to understand yourself. Once we have goals, we Americans blindly chase them. Instead of asking why we want to achieve, we focus our efforts on how. We may be a flock of talented sheep, but who is herding us?

It’s time to discover what compels me to chase my dreams. For the next 5 months of my foreign exchange, I’m going to analyze which life goals are truly my own. When I land back in the United States, I hope that my new glasses won’t be as tinted as before.

Word Association: Feminism

The word “Feminism” means different things to many students at RPA. While the Merriam-Webster dictionary definition of feminism is: “The belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities.” Students interviewed had very different understandings of the word. Noah Mancino emphasized that “there are many different people who call themselves feminists with radically different philosophies.” and Karla Mora agreed that “there are different types of feminism; I think feminism should be a meeting of all women, not just the individual women’s movements within feminism.” Based on the dictionary definition, everyone I interviewed was a feminist. While the definition is straightforward, the way people define it is much more complicated.

Many believe that feminism is misnamed. Maya Stewart noted that the term had social implications based on the term’s root word: female. “I wish it wasn’t called feminism because it seems more just towards women than equal rights. I feel it should be changed and should just be called equal rights.” said Stewart.

Those I interviewed mentioned that many things were labeled feminism incorrectly. Stauney Adams said “There are the equalists that think they know better than the feminists because they misinterpret feminism as hating men instead of what it is.” Occasionally feminism is used as an umbrella term for many ideologies that are similar to feminism, but are not quite correct. Things like white feminism (Karla Mora) and misandry (Kim Downey) are often portrayed as being views of feminists, when really they are exclusive of specific people; which is not a view of feminism at all.

Feminism is a sub-movement in equality; a topic most everyone supports eagerly. Somehow this connection has not made a difference though, and a topic as simple as feminism becomes fogged with incorrect assumptions about the topic. Feminism is not hard to understand, and easily agreeable with many at RPA. We know now why it is perceived as complicated and now we can aptly say that it is a cause worth supporting, despite its befuddling reputation.

Finding A Home For Imagination

Illustration by the author.

Illustration by the author.

One day, my father came home with a story.

Entering the living room, he swiped the rain from his hair and exclaimed, “this is no ordinary story--- it is a tale of the astonishing and terrible.” Completely captivated by the possibility of this claim, my brother and I eagerly sat before him, expectations beyond practical. He looked at us, faked a sigh of exasperation, and began. That evening, on the path home from work, he had seen the green enormity of a troll. Our expectations were fully met.  

Looking back with fond nostalgia, I now realize that much, or perhaps most, of my childhood was characterized by odd adventures. Portions of my memories are now devoted to hours of forest exploration and story creation.

My kindergarten experience was the largest concentration of these memories. At the age of seven, I remember sitting in a circle of friends and declaring our downtime should be spent snail racing. As we reoccuringly ran into the wet, coastal forest, we found different activities to explore. Snail racing was a brief fleeting idea that soon evolved into woodland monarchies of fully developed courts. Largely aided by our stereotypical hippy parents, we developed our imaginations while surrounded by wilderness.

Years later, my family and I moved from our coastal community and immersed ourselves in the culturally different Central Oregon. This move was initially devastating. Any situation that completely reinvents your life will have a tremendous impact, and, as a young child, I found it difficult to comprehend this ideology.

The places I missed, the various forests and beaches, had previously invoked my imagination; however, as I explored our new, seemingly drab, desert surroundings, I found no inspiration.

Reflecting as a current proponent of imagination, I now know that inspiration is found everywhere; in this time period, I merely did not pursue any form of discovery. I had chosen to ignore the creative foundation of my life and any potential expansion within Central Oregon. Conceding to this was my ultimate mistake. I no longer expressed or utilized imagination in art--- as I often used to--- or my general life.

Fortunately, I discovered the source of this defeat: I had neglected outdoor adventures. Although I found my location drab, through pursuing beauty, I found salvation in Central Oregon’s expanse of high lakes.

As previously mentioned, my mistake was ceding my identity to the mundane and not regarding potential inspiration. I have now reclaimed imagination and realize it’s importance within my life.

Uncomfortable experiences make it increasingly easy to ignore imagination and merely embrace discomfort. Regardless, the benefits of imagination nullify any possible annoyance when rediscovering your identity. Personally, the wilderness encouraged my own discovery; however, any form of inspiration--- drawing, writing, or otherwise--- is crucial to pursue. After embracing my imagination in subsequent years, I have found that there are endless ways to express creativity, regardless of subject or ultimate career. The ability to utilize imagination is a unique characteristic that is undisputably beneficial in life.

I, fortunately, had a concrete foundation of this ideology in my childhood; regardless, I intend to make creative development a priority, despite ultimate career choice. Pursuing this priority, for everyone, will institute a new generation of unique and creative individuals.

Regarding my childhood as the woman I am today, I realize that time spent looking into the forest, waiting for monster eyes to gaze back, was not wasted.