March 28, 2018

Rocio, Patricia, Sonja

 Successful High schools in the U.S. 

Walter Payton College Prep #1 Best Public High School in America (Niche)

selective enrollment public high school and an international model for global teaching and learning



  • all honors and advanced placement curriculum
  • Global destinations like France, Germany, Spain, Brazil, Czech Republic, China, and South Africa have become Payton’s outdoor classrooms
  • award-winning reputation for its world-class math, science, world-language, humanities, fine arts, and adventure education programs
  • seminars ranging from horseback riding, Improv comedy, Pilates, Math Modeling, and Bridge Building, to Exploring Harry Potter, Judo, Morningstar, and Beginning Acoustic Guitar – just to name a few.



  • Walter Payton College Prep is 43.4% White, 22.3% Hispanic, 16.6% Asian, 12.2% Black, and 5.5% other. 33.0% of students are from low-income households
  • 57% female student body



  • 2014 and 2008 National Blue Ribbon Award
  • U.S. News and World Report’s Top 100 High Schools
  • Newsweek Top 100 High Schools
  • Goldman-Sachs Foundation Prize in Excellence in International Education
  • #1 International High School in the United States
  • Intel School of Distinction 2010
  • Intel 2010 “Star Innovator” Award



  • Average ACT score of 29.7
  • College attendance rate of 99%
  • Over 10 million dollars of scholarship funding awarded to the class of 2014
  • Over 1,500 AP exams taken by the class of 2014
  • 89% of all students earn an AP exam score of 3 or higher
  • 11 National Merit and 1 National Achievement Semi-Finalists (Class of 2014)


In relation to Walter Payton College Prep in Chicago, my school, Academy of Our Lady of Peace in San Diego is pretty similar. At my high school, an all-girls, catholic, college preparatory, we had many seminars empowering women and had many speakers come in to speak about their success. We had trips that could be taken during the summer to explore different countries. Mainly my school was big on arts, however, towards the end they started integrating more programs for STEM. There were a good amount of clubs to join and sports programs after school. The average class size was 25 and the overall student body consisted of 800 students. Many of the students in my graduating class were accepted into ivy leagues, UC schools, and one student was accepted into Stanford.


Harvard Westlake School #1 Best Private High School in America (Niche)


  • student-teacher ratio of 7 to 1
  • 100% of students from this school go on to attend a 4-year college.
  • #3 STEM high school in the united states
  • 1430 Avg SAT/ 32 Avg ACT
  • Avg class size 16
  • Has continuous study abroad programs for students during the year/ abroad learning workshops for teacher


  • 224 faculty members (all hold a Bachelor degree)
  • 132 hold Masters degrees
  • 28 hold Doctoral degrees

Athletic Program

  • 27 athletic programs offered
  • 92 teams participate throughout the year
  • 60% of our students participate in the athletic program
  • During the 2015-2016 school year, Harvard-Westlake won
    • 8 Varsity league championships
    • 2 CIF Section / State Championships

The Harvard Westlake School is similar to my highschool (Academy of Our Lady of Peace) in that it was very exclusive and it focused on academic competitiveness. Our school’s focus was to empower women in STEM and the arts. It has a lot of prestige in that it is known as a tough academic school, with its students being involved in society in terms of social justice. Our classrooms were max 25 students, and AP courses were encouraged to increase competitiveness.


BASIS Scottsdale #1 in the National Rankings and earned a gold medal (U. S. News)

  • The population in East Shea is characterized as wealthy, primarily composed of the middle-aged age group and well educated.
  • BASIS Scottsdale is an elite, public, charter school located in Scottsdale, AZ. It has 754 students in grades 5-12 with a student-teacher ratio of 11 to 1. According to state test scores, 95% of students are at least proficient in math and 90% in reading.
  • Graduation Rate 100%
  • 30% of all students are enrolled in one or more AP courses. 94% received a passing score of 3 or higher (out of 5) on at least one exam. The median across combination schools that offer AP courses in Arizona is only 66%.
  • Number of AP Courses Offered: 17
  • Average SAT: 1470
  • Average ACT: 34
  • Low athletic participation


I would consider my high school to be successful but according to statistics, my school would be the opposite of BASIS Scottsdale.  According to state test scores, 22% of the students are at least proficient in math and 37% in reading(NICHE). However,  our students are very involved in athletics and within the communities. Molokai High School is full of diverse students with families that are in low-income. BASIS Scotsdale do not have students with free/ reduced lunch, but at my high school over 60% of the students are on free/reduced lunch. 

March 9, 2018

A  controversial topic that I researched about is the issue of genetically modified foods or GMO foods. According to Wikipedia, they state GMO foods as “foods produced from organisms that have had changes introduced into their DNA using the methods of genetic engineering.” This article provided disputes over the use of foods derived from GMO crops instead of conventional crops, and other uses of genetic engineering in food production. Specific topics that Wikipedia discusses include the mixing of genetically modified and non-genetically modified products in the food supply, effects of GMOs on the environment, the rigor of the regulatory process, and consolidation of control of the food supply in companies that make and sell GMOs. The controversial issue that was brought up included the health risks that genetically engineered foods have on humans and the environment.  This article does not change the way I evaluate its contents because I understand that the public has access to these documents and can change the language to fit their opinions and bias.  However, they do provide the cited references and include their sources on the bottom, so I am able to check if the information is reliable.

March 5, 2018

Reimagining Educational Practices

After researching about university rankings and their relationship with quality education, I came across an article that discussed the role university rankings have played in our society. This article describes university rankings as an example of the social construction of reality and institutionalism(Fowles 2016). Which according to the article, includes the way the institutions interact with and affect society. I learned that the growing popularity of university rankings hide the important issues like affordability.



  • Fowles, J., Frederickson, H. G., & Koppell, J. S. (2016). University Rankings: Evidence and a Conceptual Framework. Public Administration Review, 76(5), 790-803. doi:10.1111/puar.12610

February 28, 2018

(Food Access Research Atlas) Click to view map

Natalie Turgeman, Alexa Tapia, Sonja Angst

Food Desert Blog

     According to the American Nutrition Association, “Food deserts are defined  as parts of the country vapid of fresh fruit, vegetables, and other healthful whole foods, usually found in impoverished areas.” This is the result of the fact that there are no grocery stores in these rural areas. (USDA) Furthermore, a report prepared for Congress by the Economic Research Service of the US Department of Agriculture, 2.3 million people live more than one mile away from a supermarket and do not own a car. Food deserts are closely tied to social class in the sense that lower class areas suffer from this the most. Studies have found that wealthy districts have three times as many supermarkets as poor ones do. Another thing that was found was that white neighborhoods have an average of four times as many supermarkets as predominantly black ones do, and grocery stores in African-American communities are usually smaller with less selection. (PubMed)

(A market in San Antonio, Tex.)

The USDA’s 2009 study reports that 5.5 percent of the nation’s households (about 5.8 million) live at least half a mile from a supermarket, and 2.5 million are within low-income areas. This group has hit the hardest. 93 percent of people in low-income, low-access areas do their shopping with a vehicle, but the figure remains at 65 percent even when grocery stores are within walking distance (New York Times).


(Food desert cartoon)

 An analysis of “food deserts” have shown that the populations facing the lowest healthy food access are Black, Hispanic, and low socioeconomic status communities. Access to healthy foods is shaped by the racialized construction of places. The substantial under-inclusivity of minority and urban low-income residents in “food desert” areas means that the very populations with the greatest need for food access support, are being politically prevented from qualifying for such support (Tufts).


  1. Am, J. (2002). Neighborhood characteristics associated with the location of food stores and food service places. Retrieved Feb. 28 from
  2. American Nutrition Association. (2015). USDA defines food deserts. Retrieved Feb. 28 from
  3. Bornstein, D. (2012). Time to revisit food deserts. Retrieved Feb. 28 from
  4. Food Empowerment Project. (2018). Food deserts. Retrieved Feb. 28 from
  5. Giacalone, S. (2016). The political implications of “food desert” mapping. Retrieved Feb. 28 from
  6. Khan, A. (2016). What is a food desert?. Retrieved Feb. 28 from
  7. Laskow, S. (2013). This sobering map shows you all of America’s food deserts. Retrieved Feb. 28 from