Bob Peck: teacher, husband, father and more

Former FUHSD teacher Bob Peck passed away on Jan. 30 after a battle with cancer. Peck is remembered by students and staff for his humorous personality and ability to connect with students, as well as for volunteering his time to audio and visual related activities in most events on campus.

Peck was born on July 10, 1946 in Baltimore, MD. His family then settled in Saratoga, where Peck attended and graduated from Saratoga High School, according to a Facebook statement posted by his family. Peck then enlisted in the army, where he served in Korea as a first lieutenant, and later graduated from Menlo College with a Bachelor of Science.

Peck worked many hands-on jobs before teaching, such as wood carving and electrical work, according to teacher Marjie Fischer. He eventually became a teacher at HHS and other Bay Area schools, teaching career technical education electives that were designed to provide students with an opportunity to explore potential job options.

Peck taught the film, TV and video class and developed daily video announcements on campus. Aside from that, he volunteered in working on audio and visual displays for football games at Mustang Field and made sure the graduation live feed was up and streaming for the community.

Teacher Edmond Kwong knew Peck through collaboration in teaching career technical education electives and became friends through their similar interests in video and photography. Kwong recounted Peck’s ability to connect with students that had trouble relating to peers or adults.

“ … he [did] have a very very personal soft side of him,” Kwong said. “I know because I’d always admired how he reached some of the students that are hard to reach. He could reach difficult students better than anybody I know, certainly better than me.”

Kwong also described him as someone who was very straightforward and was honest with his opinions and perspective.

“He didn’t say anything he doesn’t need just to make you feel better, so I appreciate that,” Kwong said.

Former HHS student David Gelovani remembered Peck as having a contagious laugh and a sense of humor. He recalled hearing stories from his friends about Peck and the influence he made on them. Paraeducator Marjie Fischer also recognized Peck’s humor and wit.

“He was always very positive and happy, I mean he really was … he had just a really great sense of humor and [he was] a great storyteller,” Fischer said.

Fischer met Peck through special education students and other students who took Peck’s class and later got to know his wife through her job as well. She recalls the inspiration Peck gave kids to do many things instead of being so specialized in one thing.

“He [was] always filming,” Fischer said. “You see why film and TV became his love because it was his love and his passion because he was able to teach kids what you can have when you combine your passion and the things you love doing and parlay that into a career.”

Peck taught at HHS for five years and left in 2014 after a career of teaching and much more. Not long after that, Peck was diagnosed with cancer and passed away on Jan. 30 at age 71, according to his family. A memorial was held at Saratoga Federated Church on Feb. 5 for family, friends and colleagues. Peck is survived by his wife, Julia, his four children and three grandchildren.

Teacher feature: the classrooms

FNHS shows appreciation for teachers

FNHS officers and members arrived to school early on Jan. 29 for the Teacher Appreciation Crepe Breakfast to serve crepes and show their appreciation for teachers.

Co-presidents Timothy Kim and Noa Khen said that the event was about appreciating teachers as well as promoting French culture.

“It’s like we’re introducing the French culture as well to the teachers at the school, so it’s almost like we’re raising awareness both for the club and for the teachers at the same time,” Kim said.

Khen said that the French club has many crepe socials and they decided to incorporate it into an event.

“After school, the members of the club make crepes for themselves and they really like it,” Khen said. “So if we could combine that with volunteering and appreciating our teachers, that’s what this event is.”

The Teacher Appreciation Crepe Breakfast is one of the club’s largest events where club members and club officers put together crepes for teachers to enjoy. FNHS Activities Director Divya Ramamoorthy said that her favorite event that FNHS organizes is the teacher appreciation event.

“All of the teachers really love it, and the event really captures the aspect of FNHS that helps better the Homestead community,” Ramamoorthy said.

Junior club member Thanh Luong said that she attended this event last year and decided to do it again because of the response from teachers that received crepes.

“Everyone kept on saying thank you to us and they seemed really happy that we were giving them crepes,” Luong said.

How John Burn ignited his career

As both a graduate of and teacher at HHS, John Burn has always been involved in music, Burn said.

“I graduated from Homestead and then I went to De Anza [College] for two years,” Burn said. “I just tried to play my trumpet as much as I could.”

By taking advantage of every opportunity, Burn cemented his career and college experience. He filled his free time practicing and finding new techniques to improve his skills as a musician Burns said.

“When I went to college, I studied music education,” Burn said. “I wanted to teach music sometime in the future.”

Following his passion, Burn put in the work to excel at his career. Originally, he went into band because he wanted to present amazing music and bring out the best out of student musicians, he said.

“Music education is a really time-consuming major,” Burn said. “I had more classes than most of my friends who weren’t music majors.”

After graduating from UCLA, Burn said he went to work as a band director at Santa Cruz High School with relative ease.

“If you become [a teacher], you are going to have a 90 percent chance of getting a job,” Burn said. “We are in a teacher shortage and it will remain that way for a long time.”

Burn said the transition from teaching at Santa Cruz High School to HHS was not as easy as he anticipated.

“There were still a lot of teachers that were my teachers,” Burn said.

Burn said coming back to the high school he graduated from took time to adjust to, but eventually managed to calibrate into the system.

“I just felt strange being Mr. Burn instead of just John,” Burn said. “Of course that [has] changed over time.”

Over the years as an educator, Burn said he learned new teaching philosophies.

“I’m a teacher first and a musician second,” Burn said. “I use music to teach kids, to help kids have amazing experiences that are going to give them skills and memories that will help them succeed in life.”

Economics competition continues reeling in students

The Economics Club was formed on campus recently to unite students who love economics as well as to help students prepare for the Economics Challenge, senior Rithika Srinivasan, a member of the Club, said.  

In the Economics Challenge, commonly known as EconChallenge, teams from across the state and country compete to become nationally recognized.

The categories that the team must be knowledgeable in include micro-economics (business and personal decisions), macroeconomics (how countries make decisions on a nationwide level) and current international relations, Srinivasan said.  

In order to compete at a higher level, teams must first take an online qualifying exam.  The top five teams from each region then move on to state championships. From there, teams progress to competing at national level, Srinivasan said.

During these competitions, teams are tested on their knowledge in a variety of ways; this includes a quiz bowl round and multiple online tests.

In 2017, two teams from HHS (“Geekonomics” and “Spice and Rice”) attended the EconChallenge, and both ended up placing at both state and national level.

This year, two students from each previous team, Srinivasan and senior Rebecca Zhu, are joining to form one of the 2018 teams.

The team spends multiple months ensuring they will be well prepared for the various tests given to them, Srinivasan said.

“Our team uses the Barron’s book and this website called ACEC Economics … they have a lot of really good graphs and equations and just really good information,” Zhu said regarding their preparations for EconChallenge.

This year the team would like to improve their overall communication compared to last year, Srinivasan and Zhu said, good communication is vital for performance as a team.

If one is interested in economics, the EconChallenge is a great opportunity for anyone to join in and have fun while learning about the subject, Srinivasan said.

JNHS provides new tutoring method

Japanese National Honor Society (JNHS) now offers a tutoring system in which students are able to receive extra academic help from their classmates. This system allows both tutors and students seeking help to benefit from teaching a subject that they’re also learning.

Sophomore Hannah Royappa said she not only enjoys Japanese as a class, but she is also a part of JNHS and tutors students as part of club participation.

“You put when you’re available to tutor on the JNHS website sometime during the semester and then … [in the classroom,] the tutor will wear a lanyard that shows they’re the tutor for any kid who wants to come find them,” Royappa said. “Tutoring is mandatory for all students that are part of JNHS.”

According to president of JNHS and Japanese club Rebecca Zhu, students have to complete four hours of tutoring per semester to be able to stay in JNHS.

Besides mandatory tutoring for students participating in JNHS, students on both ends of the tutoring spectrum benefit from having a program like this available to them. It’s an asset that gives students more help than just knowledge about the Japanese language.

“[JNHS tutoring] helped me learn that people have different learning ideas and strategies that help them in understanding the material,” Royappa said.

Zhu also believes there are serious advantages of having such a system for students taking Japanese.

“For tutees, the main benefit is they receive help on homework and studying for tests,” Zhu said. “I think the added advantage of receiving tutoring help from fellow students is that they’ve taken the class and [have] covered the material before themselves, so they have experience with learning it.”

Japanese students also have the opportunity to meet new people through tutoring. Underclassmen can meet upperclassmen that they wouldn’t normally associate themselves with, and vice versa.

According to Japanese teacher Junko Birdsong, another major benefit of being in JNHS is the ability to get a red and white tassel at graduation, as well as a certificate. A student can get these benefits only after finishing Japanese 2 in middle school or high school with the required grade and completing one semester of the tutoring requirement during the student’s second semester of their senior year.

There are many benefits to having JNHS as a option for a club or for tutoring help. The system that JNHS uses allows students to learn and teach Japanese efficiently and gives opportunities for students to earn community service and school participation.

Messiness is the new objective

If scrambling to find last night’s homework assignment in a sea of old crumpled paper seems familiar, or it has become normal to have a room that looks like a tornado has just passed through it, then one might consider themselves a student hoarder.

Since the beginning of a student’s school career, they are told by teachers that good organization is the key to success.

While some teachers may recommend more traditional organization methods, such as binders or the school planners, many students find this approach to not be a sustainable system in the long term.

Hoarding past assignments can increase the overall clutter in a teenager’s room. Students might excuse their stockpiling with a range of explanations or rather excuses, from lack of organizational skills to high stress levels.

When five students on campus of varying grade levels were asked what caused their room’s current condition, the consensus amounted to lack of time while managing school and extracurriculars.

In some cases, messy work spaces are interpreted as a more methodical form of organization for an individual. While some people’s work spaces can seem chaotic from the outside perspective, these students are personally aware of the location of all of their items.

Psychological scientist Kathleen Vohs, from the University of Minnesota, found scientific evidence that proved messy rooms can provoke more creative thinking, according to Elite Daily.

[Vohs’] study conducted a series of trials while incorporating a paradigm consisting of one messy room and one tidy room, according to Elite Daily.

Creative or unconventional reasoning can be seen in many forms. For example, one’s wardrobe may not always remain in its designated place within a closet.

“When I get home from school, I undress and put on my comfortable clothes,”  sophomore Devin Fan said. “All my other clothes I throw on the floor,”

By Vohs’ logic, throwing clothes on the floor as oppose to the hamper a few feet away can be an indicator for creative reasoning, even if it may be considered unconventional to others.

Some of history’s greatest minds like Mark Twain and Albert Einstein were notorious for having cluttered work spaces. The earliest documentation of Einstein’s opinions on the topic can be found in the Quotations of our Time by Lauren J. Peter.

“If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, then what are we to think of an empty desk?” Einstein said.

Clutter may serve as a great tool to inspire unconventional ideas for some, but for others, the boundaries of organization keep them focused. In the end, one can use whichever method works best for him or herself.

Denae Nurnberg describes her path to HHS

Assistant Principal Denae Nurnberg was born in the Santa Clara Valley and grew up going to schools in the Campbell Union School District.

“There was a lot of open land when I was growing up, orchards,” Nurnberg said. “The tree next to [State Route 85] was where I used to hang out all the time.”

Growing up, Nurnberg said she always wanted to be an astronaut.

“It seemed really cool, but when Challenger incident happened, I was kind of scared, so I changed my goals,” Nurnberg said, referring to the space shuttle explosion in 1986.

After graduating high school in the Bay Area, Nurnberg said she went to UC Davis for a joint degree in biology and psychology. Then, she went to San Jose State University and University of San Francisco for her master’s and doctorate in education, respectively.

Although Nurnberg said she felt like she does not get enough time to interact with students, she really likes the environment at HHS.

“I think the families here are all amazing. No matter what background they are from, most of them support their children in the education amazingly well,” Nurnberg said. “And the staff here is wonderful too. I’m really lucky.”

When she first transferred to HHS from MVHS, Nurnberg said she was somewhat intimidated.

“At [MVHS], I was really focused on student activities, but when I came here, I was primarily to focus on student discipline,” Nurnberg said. “Since I also focused on student discipline before coming to [FUHSD], I knew how pivotal discipline could be in students’ lives depending on the way we handle situations.”

Other than work at HHS, Nurnberg said she spends the majority of her free time along with her family.

“I have a five-year-old, a three-year-old and a one-year-old,” Nurnberg said. “But before I had kids, I really liked playing field hockey. And because I was completing my doctorate, I also had schoolwork to do for the past six years.”

In one word, Nurnberg said she would describe herself as passionate.

“I love the work I do and I care deeply about it,” Nurnberg said. “I care a lot about [HHS], and I usually get here around six in the morning and leave around 6:45 p.m. I’m really proud to work here.”

Seniors, listen up!

Seniors have only one more high school semester to deal with. College applications are finished and students are spending time with friends and family before they leave. In just a few months, they will be walking across the stage with their diplomas in hand, ready to take on college and adulthood.

Despite the end seeming near, it is still important to stay focused on school in order to avoid dreaded “senioritis.” Since freshman year, students have been cautioned about this apathetic mentality and the negative consequences it can produce. Though such warnings may interfere with plans for relaxing and rest, they should not be ignored.

“Senioritis is a big issue second semester,” physics teacher Kathleen Shreve said. “I think it’s part excitement, part relief for students, as they hear back from colleges. But that often translates into apathy because they feel like they’ve reached their goals.”

As secure as being admitted into a university may seem, second semester grades can still impact your future.

“If you get a D, you’re likely to get your acceptance rescinded,” College and Career Center adviser Mary Lund said. “So we highly stress to do well. The elite colleges don’t like to see even a C.”

Furthermore, it is easy to forget that university requirements are not the only thing you need to fulfill. HHS has set demands regarding your grades and failure to satisfy them can have disastrous results.

“Second semester has a huge impact on getting in and staying in college,” AVID and math teacher Matthew Guevara said. “Because one of the prerequisites for getting into college is a high school diploma. So you need to make sure that you take care of all of your classes in order to get the high school diploma.”

If the possibility of losing either their admission into a university or their high school diploma does not scare them into staying productive, hopefully seniors will recognize that being an efficient student is still imperative even after graduation. Shreve said there are benefits to staying a dedicated senior.

“It makes the transition easier,” Shreve said. “If you keep your momentum going through the end of high school, it’s easier to jump right into college.”

Guevara also said that rather than viewing your last semester as a period filled with unnecessary work, treat it as a time to refine and develop both your study skills and your independency.

“If you’ve already taken care of your graduation requirements, and you only have a couple classes, use that free time effectively building other life skills,” Guevara said.

Guevara and Shreve recommend adopting or practicing basic activities required for adulthood, such as cooking, apartment hunting, doing laundry, budgeting, driving and developing time-management skills.

Guevara, Lund and Shreve believe becoming more organized and independent is a crucial task for seniors. They feel the same way about making the most of your last few months of high school.

“Seniors should spend their final semester milking it for every experience they can, both academic and social,” Shreve said. ”You will never be in this time of life again, or be able to see these people every day again. Enjoy these moments, because you only regret the things you didn’t do.”

Lund and Guevara both stress the idea of trying new things. Exploring different options not only keeps you busy at high school, but can also directly help you in the long term.

“In college, you get to develop your own new identity, be more friendly or just be more of the person you wanted to be,” Lund said. “This is a good time to figure out what you want to become before you leave, so by the time you’re at college you’ve got that new image set.”

More than a place for books

The library is available as a work space, resource and a place to hang out. It is usually easily accessible and available to all students as a resource, including printing, using the computers and using the textbooks.

The library is largely used as a place to get work done. The computers are especially helpful for students who do not own their own laptop or cannot bring it.

“I usually go to do homework and work on projects. Also, if I forget my laptop … I don’t actually go there to read, I go to do work,” junior Jacklin Chang said.

Many students also go to the library to stay warm on colder days.

“During empty periods, most people only come in here when it’s super rainy and really cold outside,” sophomore Rupali Ram, a TA for the library, said.

Ram said certain times of the day are busier than others with tutorial being the busiest. It is competitive getting in and there is always a long line. Students at the end often are not let in.

“If they could, there should be more tables and chairs so that more people could fit in the library. I feel like there’s enough space to fit more because a lot of them are super spread out,” Chang said.

However, not everyone goes to the library to work or escape the weather. Others go in to be on their devices or hang out with their friends.

“A lot of people come in here during tutorial because they can just not do anything, even though Ms. Bateman comes in and checks … [or] to get last minute work done,” Ram said.

While the library is very useful to students, some policies are confusing to them. One such policy is how after sixth period, students have to form a line and wait ten minutes before going in.

“Someone needs to address how they make us line up outside the library and wait for no reason. This is why I don’t even bother going in,” junior Irene Chen said.

Another policy is having to check out certain textbooks from behind the desk, even though they can only be used in the library.

One of Ram’s main job as a TA is to manage the checking out of these textbooks. “Even as a TA, I don’t understand why we have to give our ID to get the textbooks from behind the desk. What makes those textbooks so special?” Ram said.

Despite certain policies that bother students, the library is a place for to get work done, stay out of the cold and even to relax.

FBLA Recycling Drive encourages greener campus

Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) has broadened their business-centric focus to include greener pursuits.  Community service project leaders Shelby Jennett and Abby Shamelashvili held a recycling drive on Dec. 16, 2017 to decrease the effects of plastic pollution in the Bay.

“We’re trying to spread more awareness throughout our community,” Jennett said. “We wanted to provide a space where people could recycle their items such as e-waste or plastic bottles.”

Photo Courtesy of Abby Shamelashvili.

The drive was incredibly successful, with over 118 pounds of recycled items collected at a local Sports Basement. Most of the items donated were categorized as electronic waste, which includes old smartphones, computers and keyboards, Shamelashvili said.

Since most recycling centers do not accept e-waste, Jennett and Shamelashvili transported the items to rePlanet, a center that collects them.

“Prior to the drive, we had a door to door marketing event,” Shamelashvili said. “We went to over 150 houses and passed out flyers, and we were really surprised to see how many people were excited about the drive.”

FBLA’s strong marketing campaigns promote environmentally-conscious living and continue to extend their impact in the community.

“We’re seeing if we can volunteer at some animal shelters, or maybe a wildlife center to basically reach out and help all the aspects of plastic pollution,” Shamelashvili said.

Photo Courtesy of Abby Shamelashvili.

The committee will also partner with GreenOps in the future, and they will participate in Green Week, which takes place later in the year.

“In a nutshell there would be two parts of our project,” Jennett said, “One which is spreading awareness about plastic pollution and the second which is volunteering within the community in order to make an actual impact.”

FBLA has achieved these goals and more through effective advertising strategies and partnerships with other HHS clubs.

“We thought we should target [the plastic pollution problem] because it would make a big difference in our community,” Shamelashvili said.