By Staff Writers Ian Hsu, Andrew Kan, Amber Lee & Vicki Xu
The Mission Possible Parent Faculty Association (MPPFA) has transformed the campus of MSJ with the many renovations and technology updates it helps make possible. In this issue, the Smoke Signal spotlights three MPPFA projects — 110 Chromebooks for the Flex Room, refurbishment of the Career Center, and landscaping in front of the N-Wing — as well as features student voices on the impact of these projects.
This January, 110 Chromebooks were added to the A-Wing Flex Room for students and faculty to use. The entire process of procuring the Chromebooks took around seven months. As a whole, the project cost $36,280.
The idea of adding Chromebooks to MSJ’s inventory of technology came up during an MPPFA meeting with the school in July 2016. The 400 devices MSJ had at the time — such as laptops and iMacs — were located in the library in carts, which teachers could check out to bring to their own classrooms. These carts were constantly checked out, becoming a source of frustration for teachers who were planning to use them in their curriculum. MPPFA originally planned to buy two carts of Chromebooks with 35 Chromebooks in each. However, after discovering a greater need for the devices, MPPFA increased the number of Chromebooks to 110. The project was approved in MPPFA’s October 2016 meeting, after which the organization placed orders for the Chromebooks, which arrived in January 2017.
“I feel like sometimes [the Chromebooks are] not really necessary in classes other than History, but I understand how in History and Geography you can talk about maps that you find online and see how the countries relate and look up interesting resources and information. For classes such as math and P.E., obviously, you wouldn’t need that. I think MSJ should invest in other aspects as well as just buying Chromebooks because I think we have enough. For our school’s surveys or standardized tests, they can be helpful, and also for people who want to work on their projects during lunchtime. Then again, you could do [projects] at home.” — Ashley Fang, 10
MPPFA is planning to beautify the land bordering the lawn next to the N-Wing. The project was initially approved in a budget allocation meeting at the start of the school year. The process of choosing a vendor and finalizing the cost of the landscaping plan continued from September 2016 to late November 2016. The total cost of landscaping the N-Wing is $21,500, of which MPPFA will contribute $20,000 of funding.
When the project was approved, MPPFA Vice President of Membership Roshini Kingsley and Principal Zack Larsen began requesting estimates from five landscaping vendors for the amount of money needed to landscape the N-Wing area, before deciding to work with Dutra Landscape & Gardening. Regarding the timeframe of the project, Kingsley said, “If we don’t have any more rain it will start as soon as possible around March or April, and we’re hoping that by around May the job will be done. If not, before school finishes, we should have that done.”
“I think that it is good that the N-Wing is getting landscaped. There’s like this one area on that grassy area in front of the N-Wing that gets really muddy every time it rains, and I always forget about that spot and end up getting mud on my shoes. And also, there’s like a set of bushes that block anyone from getting from the grassy area to the actual sidewalk so you have to walk around.” — Anika Sharma, 10
Career Center Refurbishment
MPPFA is planning to refurbish the Career Center by adding new Chromebooks, enhancing internet access, replacing the carpet, repainting the room, and reorganizing the furniture. The MPPFA board allocated $30,000 to renovations at its November 2016 board meeting, and work is scheduled to start during Spring Break and finish near the end of the school year.
A committee of four people (Kingsley, Assistant Principal Jeana Nightengale, Career and College Specialist Cathy Castillou, and Hopkins Junior High School Teacher Thomas Birbeck) has been formed to organize the refurbishment of the Career Center. Kingsley, who first proposed the project, said, “For me, it was very important that the students could have a 21st century learning environment.” Afterwards, the committee met with a small sample of students to get feedback about what upgrades they envisioned for the renovated Career Center, and thereafter the committee soon started planning for the project.
“I think that renovations to the Career Center will help to make the learning experience much more efficient for the students. Not only will students be able to access information at higher speeds, they might also be able to actually just spend time in the Career Center if it gets renovated. Since newer tech allows teachers to do more, they might also be able to take their classes there more often.” — Karina Wu, 10
Student Ideas for Improvement
“The air conditioning. In one of my classrooms, the air conditioner was on during the winter and it was really cold. In another one of my classrooms, the heater doesn’t turn on, so it was really cold during the winter as well. In a third classroom, the heater makes random noises. We should find a way to make sure they [the heaters and air conditioners] are working properly, such as having more maintenance.” — Jacob Wang, 11
“In order to improve our school, I think we should [expand] our facilities, with cleaner bathrooms and more automatic water fountains that are better-filtered, and adding more hand air-dryers that are sensitive to touch into the bathrooms.” — Tanya Chadha, 12
Photo by Staff Writer Amber Lee