The Hawk's Eye

GOA Catalyst for Change

For the past two months, sophomores history students conducted research on a long-standing social injustice in the United States. They picked an issue that interested them, researched the history of the issue, the current iteration of the problem, and possible solutions on micro and macro levels. 

For the final step of the project, each student created a webpage that was featured in the fifth annual Catalyst Conference, hosted by Global Online Academy (GOA). The conference was live from April 23-27 and featured more than 400 projects produced by students from 76 GOA sponsored schools. Throughout the conference, students were able to view projects from students all over the U.S. and around the world and provide feedback.  

All projects are reviewed by a panel of experts who then award projects that stand out among the others. This year, GOA citations were awarded to 83 projects that best aligned with the goals of the conference: raising awareness and promoting grassroots action and institutional change. Students can also be awarded the Audience Award, which was awarded to four students last year including two from the School. This award is given to projects that highly engaged their audience and prompted participation from their peers in the conference. The final award that students can receive is the Catalyst for Change Prize, which is awarded to the students with the best tangible solutions with the ability to facilitate change. 

See some examples of web pages from the students below.

The Racial Wealth Gap  – Madison Harvey

Animal WelfareSoraya Katzev 

Money in PoliticsJack Chin 

An Inside Look Into the New Grading Directive


This is an unprecedented time, as the world is reeling from this pandemic. Organizations and institutions everywhere are having to quickly change their policies, including our school. Distance learning was completely new territory for the administration and they had to pivot rapidly when we left the traditional classroom on March 13th. Many questions have been raised about these changes, particularly the question of how grading will work. Earlier this month, Ms. McKenna released the School’s new grading directive to the students, and I had the pleasure of speaking with her and Ms. Sarkar to get an inside look into how these decisions were made. 

The grading directive team consisted of the Division and Assistant Division Heads (Middle School and Upper School), Dean of Academic Community (Ms. Sarkar), and the Director of Diversity and Inclusion (Ms. Tucker), reporting to deans and departments for feedback. They also conducted lots of research from local peer schools, Challenge Success, IDEX data, DEI directors as well as gaining informal and unsolicited feedback from parents and students. 

As noted in the school-wide email, there are three guiding and framing principles of feedback, flexibility, and empathy. McKenna expanded on this, saying, “We are acutely aware of the unique situation we are in and we are trying to figure out a philosophy around grading that honors the work and the program that we are putting in place, the efforts that students are making to remain engaged, and also recognizes the difficulties of moving to distance learning for adults, students, and teachers.” This is a struggle shared by both the faculty and the students. Other complications that come with dislocation include stress, interruptions, distractions, other responsibilities, concern for loved ones, and the overall climate of uncertainty. “It is tough,” McKenna remarks, “We wish we were not in this situation. I know that students feel that way. I want to reassure them that we 100 percent sympathize and agree.”

Many different opinions have been expressed towards a new grading directive from students, teachers, and parents. McKenna acknowledges this and touches on the School’s approach to all the conflicting ideas, saying, “We are looking broadly at that tension, trying to find some sort of solution that allows for flexibility, that still gives students feedback, and that is empathetic at the core about how this is a struggle… It is not simple and there are many different and real perspectives that are based on everyone’s unique position. The process has been to try to leverage as much research as we can into a very short time frame.” Ms. Sarkar added to this, saying, “I want to say that we are a unique school. Different from say College Prep or Bishop O’ Dowd; we are a K-12 school. We have students and family that are experiencing our program at all three divisions. There are so many pieces of information, and we are trying to make our philosophy and our experience for families consistent.”

Despite this concern, Sarkar adds that, “Independent schools have an advantage because we have college counseling offices that have deep relationships with the colleges.” Mckenna expands on this, saying, “I would like to extend that beyond the college counseling office to say that there are many things that we are lucky for and privileged about. We are a small community and we can act more nimbly and individuate in a way that big public schools cannot. We know our students and our students have a network of relationships through teachers, advisors, deans, etc. We have the ability to target and support people not just as a school but as individual students.” 

As we know, the administration has decided to pursue a blended option of traditional grades and a pass or fail system for students whose grades significantly drop. They also made the decision to treat the latest interims as a progress grade. Furthermore, McKenna confirmed that the School will not be holding traditional finals. Instead, they are looking for “different things in the fourth quarter given the circumstances. Smaller, more frequent, lower-stakes ways of showing engagement with the material and the skills that we are trying to maintain and foster. That looks different depending on the discipline” (Mckenna). 

Coincidently, the School has been critically looking at assessment for a while. Sarkar touches on this, saying, “This is in a strange way to our work in our strategic plan that is asking us to innovate around some of these things. Our teachers understood it at a theoretical level. We have been talking about it with the implementation of our strategic plan. That is another advantage.” McKenna adds, “We are at an important crossroads, not just as a school but as a country in what education looks like.” For example, many colleges around the U.S. are debating the importance of standardized testing and our school is moving away from APs. With this disruption, McKenna views it as an opportunity for innovation. “We can’t do it perfectly, that would be unrealistic, but we are doing it with as much intention and attempt to be not just reactive but strategic” (McKenna).

Another concern for high schoolers is what the fall semester will look like. With the reduced content due to remote learning, will there be some remedial catchup in the fall, especially for cumulative classes? Sarkar addresses this, saying, “Two things are at play. One, we recognize that the content we covered in this fourth quarter is not what we would have normally done, so we will pick up in August knowing where we ended. At some basic level, the curriculum will shift. But I am actually hoping for some reassessment of what is important to deliver in the curriculum. We will make sure our students are not at a disadvantage.” 

For any current juniors concerned about the college process, Kora Shin, the Associate Director of College Counseling, also gives some insight into how the college process will change, saying, “We’re confident the colleges will show great empathy and humanity to students with their process given everything going on globally. Schools have already started to change their testing policies for the grades most impacted by this in their college process (ie. Chapman, Univ of Oregon, Tufts, Scripps, Redlands, Boston University, to name a few) and will also demonstrate flexibility and understanding around the different grading shifts/changes that are happening at schools around the U.S. and the world.”

If you have questions about your grades or grading in general, McKenna encourages students to go directly and respectfully to the teacher, and if that doesn’t seem comfortable, to turn to other supportive people on campus like advisors or deans. Sarkar strongly emphasizes the importance and presence of a strong support system that is available to every student, saying, “We think every student has a complete robust support team that includes advisor, dean, Ms. McKenna, Mr. Thiermann, the learning specialists, the counselor, the dean of equity and inclusion, the CCE director. Every student has this team holding them up.” This is a hard time, so please reach out to the incredible support team around you if you need help. 

New Soccer Field on South Campus


As part of the plan for the property the School has purchased across the street, they have developed a new soccer field. It is clearly visible when one drives down Lincoln Avenue. This field is smaller than full size, so don’t expect to watch any games up there. It was mainly built to give the Middle School its own field; however, the Upper School can also use it to practice when one team has a game on the main field. Just like all the other property across the street the School has acquired as part of its Bridge to 2022, this field has raised concerns among the administration about safety, as Lincoln Avenue is a busy street on a hill with a turn right near the field. The administration has proposed a tunnel to cross the street, yet this may be inconvenient as it will be placed much lower than the field at the big gates on the Upper School Patio. If the School really plans to have students crossing from side to side often, they will need to adjust the students’ schedules to give them time to do so, perhaps by lengthening passing periods. This is a small problem since students may be graded down just for walking slowly/being late for class. Despite this potential setback, we are happy that the Middle School can have their own field, and that the Upper School can have their own space.

All School Fair 2018-19 Slideshow


The 2018-19 All School Fair was a big hit last night. The cotton candy was sweet and the haunted house was scary. Big thanks to all of the students and faculty who made it such a success.


On a more personal note, as a lifer, it was surreal to think that this is my last all school fair. I definitely have a deeper appreciation now that I’m in high school (since I finally realize how much work goes into the fair), and I know how much the fair means for the kiddos in the lower school.

Student Feature: Awards and Recognition at the Global Online Academy Catalyst Conference

Student Feature: Awards and Recognition at the Global Online Academy Catalyst Conference

This past year, the History 10 teachers decided to change the typical research project to a research project that required students to look at an issue in current society, the history of that issue, and propose a solution. After completing their paper, the students submitted a version of their findings to the Global Online Academy Catalyst Conference. If you have a chance, I would recommend looking at all of the work of the US History students online (and several students who are taking GOA classes!). While all of the projects were great, four sophomores were recognized for their papers, and one junior was recognized after taking a GOA course.

Sara Covin received a Catalyst for Change Prize for her presentation entitled An IOU for Women: The Disparity in Pay between Men and Women Since 1930. One of the panelists reviewing this presentation wrote, “Very thorough and well-researched project that not only gave solid and comprehensive background, but also put a detailed plan of action into place. This project — also very relevant in its timing given the #METOO environment — has a strong chance of inspiring immediate change, as specific tools are given to the reader to act now.”

Gayatri Singla’s presentation titled The Polluted Sounds of the Sea garnered the praise of evaluators, one writing, “The first thing that impressed me was Gayatri’s long-held interest in marine science. Gayatri is passionate about it and did a great job articulating the dire problems experienced by whales. I knew very little about whales or that anything had been impacting them. This project brought their plight into focus. The end result of reading this project: I want to know more, and if I can help, I would now be interested in learning how.”

Siena Martin received a Catalyst for Change Prize for her presentation, The Right to Choose: History of Birth Control. A reviewer describer the project by saying, “I was impressed how the author outlined a cogent history of reproductive rights over time, and in doing so illustrated how frustrating and exhausting it is that we are still fighting this fight. The author provides concrete solutions for us to consider as we move forward.”

Elizabeth Novogradac captured the attention of panelists with her presentation “They Did Not Listen” : Sexual Violence after Title IX.  Panelists praised the relevancy of the project, “The timing of this research and project is excellent. In light of the #METOO movement, there could not be a more relevant time to inspire and affect change in the world for increasing awareness among and reducing cases of sexual abuse among female athletes. This project was particularly well-researched with numerous excellent sources used and cited. The videos included — with firsthand accounts — were particularly illuminating and moving. Very well done.”

Sydney Medford received a Catalyst for Change prize for her work in GOA’s Architecture course, creating a proposal called Oakland, CA Temporary Homeless Shelter. She impressed panelists with “her professional ideas and execution,” and they applauded her for having “clearly identified a significant global problem but made it relevant by examining its impact on her home city, Oakland. Sydney’s presentation illustrated advanced architectural thinking and skills and was well documented.”

Summer Music 2018

Summer Music 2018

Summer is just around the corner! Not only do you have to look forward to sleeping in, partying all night, and of course no homework, but there are going to be some new songs and albums to jam out to while you are at it.

To start off the summer, on June 15, Christina Aguilera’s new album Liberation will be released. This will not only be a big day for her but for her fans as well; Aguilera has not released an album since Lotus in 2012. Ever since giving birth to her second daughter in 2014, she has been juggling being a devoted mother and writing her new album. There is no doubt that this talented singer will shock all her fans around the world with her new album, but hers isn’t the only one to look out for. 5 Seconds of Summer will also be releasing their new album Youngblood on June 22. This Australian pop rock band formed in 2011 and, although they aren’t as popular as other pop bands, they have a few top hit singles such as Amnesia (2014) and She’s Kinda Hot (2015).

One of the most awaited album releases is for Ariana Grande’s album Sweetener. Although there is no official release date, Grande says that is definitely “coming this summer.” However, she may have spilled the beans on this special date during an interview with host Jimmy Fallon in early April; Grande revealed that “there are only three 20ths until the big thing,” so fans can infer that the likely release date for her new album is July 20th. Grande chose to name this album Sweetener because “It’s kind of about bringing light to a situation or to someone’s life, or somebody else bring[ing] life to your life. Sweetening the situation.”

For new upcoming singles in the summer, there aren’t many to keep an eye out for; however, there are some songs that have already been released that will be top hits throughout the entire summer such as God’s Plan by Drake, FRIENDS by Marshmello feat Anne Marie, and Psycho by Post Malone ft Ty Dolla $ign. Popular music today ranges from pop to rap and even to country music. Make sure to keep updating your summer playlist, as there will be new music to discover almost every week.

Sacramento Lobbying Slide Show


On April 19th, 20 Head-Royce students went to Sacramento to lobby for stricter gun regulations in California as part of the larger student group, Bay Area Student Activists, B.A.St.A for short. While they were there, they met with state legislators to find out and possibly help shape the future of gun control. ra

2018 Annual Art Show (Photo Gallery)

2018 Annual Art Show (Photo Gallery)

This year, as usual, there was an amazing display of student art in the middle school hallway for the annual art show. The web gallery is an incomplete show of many student artworks with topics ranging from an exploration of Freud’s “id” to portraits, from animals to Shakespeare and beyond.

7000 Kids in 5 Years

7000 Kids in 5 Years

I’ve been struggling to try to find the words that wrap up everything into less than a minute. I keep looking through Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook looking for someone else’s words who can capture mine better than I possibly could, but all I kept seeing was their tweets and posts.

I saw Joaquin Oliver’s year anniversary post for his girlfriend and Alyssa Alhadeff’s club soccer photos. I read about coach Feis, who worked three jobs to support his family. I watched videos of Meadow Polkack’s brothers and father telling the President of the United States that they will NEVER see her again. I scrolled through articles talking about Anthony Borges, the freshman who defended his classmates with his own body and has been in the hospital ever since.

These people were us. They snapchatted and did their homework and debated whether or not that extra five minutes of sleep was truly worth it. If we allow politicians to continue to ignore common sense gun laws, eventually the shooting won’t be 2,558 miles away.

7000 kids: that’s how many have died because of gun violence since Sandy Hook, and it will only grow. #NeverAgain can we let children with guns kill children with pens. NEVER AGAIN. NEVER AGAIN. NEVER AGAIN. MARCH EXERCISE YOUR RIGHT TO VOTE. SPEAK AND MAKE NOISE.

March 14th Walkout Photo Gallery



A gallery featuring the 6-12 walkout, a glimpse of the Ashanti workshop, and several student art reflections.

We Are All Students

We Are All Students

Anna Commander

30 bullets in a round: that is the capacity for the semi-automatic AR-15 rifle which was legally purchased by the 19 year old Parkland shooter a full year before it was used to destroy 17 lives, 17 families, 17 groups of friends, 17 sisters, mothers, fathers, brothers, and so many more people than 17. The Smith and Wesson weapon’s uses are quoted as “Competition Shooting, Home Protection, Hunting, and Law Enforcement & Military.” This weapon can fire off continuous rounds of ammunition before reloading; it is described as “easy to accessorize, but hard to put down. [They] are lightweight and rugged embodying the best combination of function and form.” The sale of guns has been commercialized to the level of the sale of a kid’s toy. A weapon with the power to kill should not be described as “hard to put down” as if they were describing the newest Barbie doll.

The shooter was able to purchase the weapon at the age of 18. Three years before he could legally purchase alcohol. He was known to have previous anger-management and mental health issues, yet lackadaisical background checks allowed this teenager to purchase the semi-automatic murder weapon.

A popular argument is “guns don’t kill people. People kill people.” When I first heard that, it seemed logical, but upon reflecting further and listening to Emma Gonzalez, a student at Stoneman Douglas, I realized that this could have been a very different story had the shooter only had access to a knife. Authorities would have been able to detain him sooner. He would not have been able to recklessly sputter out bullets while simultaneously putting money in the NRA’s pockets.

A lot of my close family lives in Texas. In fact, just a few days ago, they emailed my dad a picture of them with a huge hog after a successful hunting trip. I am not against the second amendment and one’s right to bear arms. What I am against, however, is how out of context the American people have taken that amendment for today’s usage. In 1791, there were muskets and pistols that could fire about three effective rounds per minute. Now we are talking 30 [rounds], in a matter of seconds.

Some of you may be thinking, “I don’t see how I connect. I go to Head-Royce, a well-protected and safe school, I just don’t see this happening to me.” But the sad truth is, no one could see this coming. If you had asked the students a month before the shooting if they would have to hide away from windows, guard themselves from bullets with thick textbooks, and witness their peers and teachers bleed out in front of them on Valentine’s Day, they would all look at you in disbelief. Yet you still might be thinking, “well California has stricter gun laws than Florida.” While true, strict gun laws do not stop countless shooters every day up and down the West Coast. So for those of you who try to distance yourself from this issue – maybe because if you really thought about it, it would be too painful – I would encourage you to think what we have in common with the kids in Florida: we are all students.

We are all students who wake up early every morning to rush to the bus, who are up way too late working on homework, and who complain about how jam-packed their week is. We are all students who shouldn’t have to question their safety at a sacred space for learning. We are all students who shouldn’t have to have teachers carrying around guns as protection. The brave students of Stoneman Douglas High School have been able to add momentum to the long running gun control conversation, and I’m sure many of us have been a part of history class debates on gun control, but now, more than ever, it can no longer be a conversation.

This is not a one-off. This is not an issue you can talk about in History class and then dismiss until it is brought up again. For me, this feels like a personal attack that does not end today. For me, it does not end until semi-automatic weapons are banned, the gun purchasing age is raised to 21, background checks are re-vamped, and mental health is monitored closer especially during the high school years.

There are so many emotions that I have felt since February 14th: shock, anger, disbelief, denial, frustration, sadness. There are so many more things I wanted to talk about. However, for the sake of being relatively brief and letting other voices speak their opinions, I will end here. I wish I could say more, but mostly I wish the 17 victims could say more. Those 17 lives were not done making their impact: Alyssa, Scott, Martin, Nick, Aaron, Jaime, Chris, Luke, Cara, Gina, Joaquin, Alaina, Meadow, Helena, Alex, Carmen, and Peter. They were silenced.

From Foe to Friend: The Signing of Richard Sherman


The San Francisco Forty-Niners have been working hard over the off-season. With the releasing of veteran defensive end Elvis Dumervil, fans might ask, who will be leading the defense? Coach Kyle Shanahan and General Manager John Lynch have totally transformed their defense and setting them up for the future, drafting starting players like Solomon Thomas, Reuben Foster, Ahkello Witherspoon, and Adrian Colbert in the 2017 draft. The majority of their starting defense has been drafted within the last few years.  The Niners’ impressively young defense is in need of an inspiring and charismatic veteran who knows the ins-and-outs of the league. No one is more suited for the challenge than former Seahawk Richard Sherman. Sherman recently signed a three year max of $39.5 million dollar contract. While this may look like a lot at first sight, most of the money is incentive based ($1 million if he makes the Pro-Bowl, $2 million if he makes All-Pro, etc.).

Some people look at his injury (achilles) and think that he may not be able to return to his All-Pro status. While this may be true for most older cornerbacks, Sherman is one of the most self-motivated players in the league. After being drafted in the fifth round behind many players that did not last through training camp, Sherman has carried a chip on his shoulder and the desire to prove himself to the league. This has been his mentality since the draft and it will be exaggerated in lieu of the ferocious Forty-Niners and Seahawks rivalry. Another reason fans should not be concerned with his injury is that Sherman never relied on his speed to shut down wide-receivers. He has relied on his length, instincts, and quickness. Also, he will be surrounded by the Forty-Niners’ young, speedy defensive backs that will be able to cover down low.

While this may be the signing of the year for most teams, the Forty-Niners have more than enough cap space to sign another big name in the league. They just signed Marquise Goodwin for another three years, but there is still room for a big free-agent or draft pick to help out Jimmy Garoppolo in the slot. Despite the disappointing 2017 season, the Niners are set up to impress in 2018.

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