Documentary about Roosevelt classroom released online

by Noah Foster-Koth

Last November I wrote an article for the print edition of The Roosevelt News called “Unearthing the treasure chess-t: Roosevelt’s underground chess-playing community revealed.” The article described the chess group that Roosevelt social studies teacher Jibril Rashid hosts in his classroom during second lunch.

Mr. Rashid approved of my article and requested that I expand it into a short documentary about his classroom. Four months later, I finished the documentary, which I titled ”Chowing Down with Chess: The Story of Jibril Rashid’s Lunchtime Chess Group.” Several of the students interviewed in the original article also appear in the film, including Zach Rodan, Fredrik Hernqvist, and Joel “Sijay” Musafiri, not to mention Mr. Rashid himself. There are also several new student interviews in ”Chowing Down with Chess” that did not appear in the original article.

The documentary can be viewed here.

“Chowing Down with Chess” is not a product of The Roosevelt News. However, it depicts the culture of a classroom at Roosevelt and thus constitutes news about Roosevelt, hence it’s appearance on this website.



GED Drama in Washington State

By Malcolm Roux

In 2014, the GED exam, a test which offered an alternative to a high school diploma, was overhauled, and made significantly harder.  In 2013, the last year of the old exam, 86% of testees passed the exam, earning them an equivalent to a high school diploma; comparatively, only 71% passed in 2014.  However, this is not the area the new exam is having the most effect. The gross numbers of people taking the exam drastically dropped from a whopping 18.5 thousand to a dismal 2.8 thousand.

Although most agree that the old GED exam did not mimic the skills learned in today’s high schools, many thought this change came too quickly. The pure numbers show that a much smaller base of people even feel confident enough to take the exam, and those who do take it pass at a lower rate.  Additionally, this disadvantages those who are seeking their GED certificate now as opposed to only two years ago.

Proponents of the new GED see the change as long over due.  ”At the core of it we had to ask, ‘Does the GED actually measure what a high school diploma would provide?’” asks Dr. Bob Hughes of Seattle University, interviewed my King 5 News, “I don’t think anybody, with the old GED, would have said that it did that.”  This point often comes up during the discussion of the GED. The old GED was simply not comparable to a high school diploma, and it was affecting certificate holders after their examination.

“It didn’t hold the same way it used to,” explained CT Turner, spokesman for the GED Testing Service as quoted by the Seattle Times.  As those who passed the GED continued to university and other higher education, they were often forced to take remedial corses which do not count toward a degree, courses that the vast majority of high school students have already passed.  Those organizing the GED did not see the logic in making students spend hard earned tuition on courses that should be learned before one receives a high school diploma.

Turner continued to explain that even employers were seeing drastic differences between those who passed the GED exam and those who graduated high school.  Employers were simply losing confidence in the GED exam. Supporters believe that this discreditation of the GED exam was hurting those who took the test more than an easier test was helping them.

The change has also pushed more students towards alternative ways of getting their high school diploma. A program which pushes prospective graduates to take classes and receive credits for skills learned outside of high school, and eventually resulting in a similar certificate to the one offered by the GED.

Drama Awards

By RHS Drama Teacher Ruben Van Kempen

Congratulations to all the Drama students for their inspirational work at the WA Thespians State Festival.

Roosevelt received a:

  • ·         Superior Trophy for their production of Disney’s The Little Mermaid
  • ·         Gold Trophy for Honor Troupe
  • ·         1st Place Trophy for Broadway Cares/EFA – troupe fundraising
  • ·         2 top highest ranking Medals for duo scene acting:  Larson Eernissee, Brenna Power and Willem Schillings, Elliott Moore
  • ·         Qualifiers for showcase:

o   Monologues:  Larson Eernissee, Chloe Miiller, Esther Powers, Duncan Weinland

o   Duo Scenes: Noah Forster-Koth & Annalisa Brinchmann, Elliott Moore & Willem Schellings, Brenna Power & Larson Eernissee, Esther Powers & Adam Westerman

o   Solo Musical: Ester Powers, Annika Prichard, Ava Yaghmaie

Cleveland Shooting

By Anika Utke

In the Seattle School District, some students have been forced to experience tragic losses at a premature age. On March 14, a student at Cleveland High School, senior Robert Robinson Jr., was killed. Police reported hearing gunshots on Beacon Hill at around 4 pm on Sunday. The case was categorized as a hit and run with the only connection to the perpetrator being a blue Honda. Robinson was found with a gunshot wound after walking near South Forest Street and 15th Avenue South, less than two miles from the high School. Witnesses in the area recall hearing two gunshots. Robinson was being transferred to Harborview Medical Center, but died on the way there.

He wasn’t identified until the morning after when his family recognized Robinson’s clothes lying on the ground on TV and knew he was late to arrive home. Police are still searching for the shooter and as of now have no evidence. Currently the hit and run isn’t being seen as a result of gang violence or a race crime, but as the police hunt down the shooter they will also search for the motive behind Robinson’s tragic death. The South Precinct Commander, Captain David Proudfoot recognized that in just the last month there had been 19 shootings.

Cleveland sent out a letter to students and their families on March 16 to help students through any grief they may be feeling and offer up the services of the counselors. The letter, in part, read:

“It is with great sadness and a heavy heart that I share the tragic news that one of our students, was killed yesterday afternoon in a shooting,” the administration addressed “As a community, I know we will come together to not only support our students’ family members, but work to ensure our larger community is a safe place for us to live, learn and work.”

Last Thursday Cleveland hosted a vigil in Robinson’s memory for those wishing to honor his memory.

High school is a time where teenagers are forced to be exposed to the real world before adulthood. Unfortunately, untimely deaths have become part of what some students are lead to face. For high schoolers, most would not have a much exposure to death. Many will not know how to mourn and grieve while still being expected to do well in school and carry on with their lives. Though different experiences and different events led to the loss of life now mourned by Seattle communities, it is important to recognize the tragedy that still exists and think kindly for his friends and family suffering through this dark time.

Roosevelt Students Look Back at the Oso Mudslide

By Noah Foster-Koth

Forty-three Washington residents were killed on March 22nd 2014, when a massive mudslide struck Oso, a small town in Snohomish County. Twelve months later, hundreds of Washingtonians gathered for a memorial ceremony on Highway 530, in honor of the Oso residents who lost their lives in the disaster.

Most of the students approached by The Roosevelt News declined to comment on their recollections of the Oso mudslide. However, two senior girls were willing to describe what they remembered of the event and expressed their opinions on how the Roosevelt community should pay tribute to the victims.

“I remember seeing a whole bunch of things in the paper. There was a bunch of deaths. People were putting together search parties,” remembers senior Nicole Miller, “A couple of my co-workers had close family members in Oso at the time. My co-workers drove up there to see their friends, who were fine,” she adds. Miller did not have family in Oso at the time of the landslide.

Senior Emily Tennyson doesn’t have a personal connection to the Oso community, but she still considers the mudslide “a travesty.” Tennyson believes that plaques should be installed for the victims, and a monument should be constructed “to pay tribute to those who were lost.”Miller agrees that there should be some type of memorial in recognition of the Oso residents who were buried in the mudslide. “It would be a real shame if nobody acknowledged it. I think Mr. Vance should have a moment of silence over the announcements.”

Seattle Collaborative Orchestra

Violin performed by professional accompanying the students

Violin performed by professional accompanying the students

By Anika Utke

Seattle Collaborative Orchestra is a unique collaboration of both student musicians and professional musicians conducted by Roosevelt’s Anna Edwards.

Oboe performance

Oboe performance

Sarah Bowen on the violin

Sarah Bowen on the violin

Andrew Angelos Posing with his French Horn

Andrew Angelos Posing with his French Horn


Evan Johanson performing the violin

Evan Johanson performing the violin

Performance during Rehearsal Day

Performance during Rehearsal Day




Sigma Alpha Epsilon – Backlash against Racist Chants

By Ira Rose-Kim

A video depicting members of the University of Oklahoma chapter of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity participating in a racist chant was met with outrage upon its release on to the internet. The chant included the lines “There will never be a nigger in SAE” and “You can hang him from a tree, but he can never sign with me,” implying that a lynching would be preferred over an African-American’s entrance into the fraternity. Needless to say, the video did not sit well with the general public. The SAE fraternity closed the university of Oklahoma chapter and suspended most of its members. Shortly afterwards, the University of Oklahoma shut the fraternity house down altogether and expelled the two members believed to have been the chant’s leaders.

Parker Rice, one of the alleged leaders of the chant, issued an apology. rice was identified by his former high school, the Jesuit College Preparatory School of Dallas. I am deeply sorry for what I did Saturday night. “It was wrong and reckless. I made a horrible mistake by joining into the singing and encouraging others to do the same,” Rice admitted. He also mentioned how he had withdrawn from the University of Oklahoma and at the moment, he was unable to safely live in his home due to the influx of threatening messages he began to receive after he was identified in the video. rice added, “I am also concerned about the fraternity friends still on campus. Apparently, they are feeling unsafe and some have been harassed by others. Hopefully, the university will protect them.”

The other supposed leader, Levi Pettit, has yet to make any sort of statement, although his parents already have. They acknowledged his actions were “disgusting,” yet also defended him. “While it may be difficult for those who only know Levi from the video to understand, we know his heart, and he is not a racist. We raised him to be loving and inclusive and we all remain surrounded by a diverse, close-knit group of friends,” they argue. Pettit’s family’s spokesperson has revealed that they will not be saying anything else about the incident in the near future.

While the fact that the video was racist is undeniable, it has sparked other debates. When the University of Oklahoma closed down the fraternity house and expelled Rice and Pettit, some claim that racist speech fell within the students’ constitutional rights and it could not be the basis for such a harsh punishment. Many still believe that the school was in the right for punishing the students. Lawyer Stephen Jones was hired to represent the SAE chapter “to protect the due process rights, the first amendment rights, and the 14th Amendment rights” of the fraternity’s members. Jones noted he wasn’t going to rule out a lawsuit and he felt that the school could’ve taken a more “measured” response to the incident. As time passes, more and more news outlets, like, have begun to explore SAE’s arguably racist past which will surely come into play as events surrounding the video continue to unfold.

Dance Team

By Simone Archer-Krauss

This past Saturday, March 7th, Roosevelt’s competitive hip-hop dance team competed in the Sea-King District competition at Redmond High School.

They had a very successful competition, taking 1st place in their combined category and qualified for the WIAA state competition in about a week and a half, in Yakima. Every dance competition consists of a competition portion where each team preforms a piece that is under three minutes, after that there are drill downs, and then the awards ceremony. Drill downs are a military-esque style where a judge calls commands for the participants to follow. If one messes up then one is out. Dance competitions consist of six different styles of dance: hip-hop, pom, military, dance, show and kick. The pom style has pom-poms and is based loosely on cheerleading. Military is a very exact form of competitive dancing where teams have to almost robot like and complete crazy sets of headstands. Dance, also known as contemporary, is a mix between modern and ballet. Kick is chock full of kick lines and canons of splits. Hip-hop is a hard-hitting often angry or aggressive style of dance. It tends to stand out from the other genres because of its flexibility. Show is the most impressive of all. There is a whole set for each one, consisting of painted panels and props. For districts, Roosevelt’s team was combined with the dance and kick categories.

Competitions are known for their elaborate costumes, mostly made out of spandex. Some of the most memorable dances this year include TMNT, Power Rangers, and Cheshire cats.

The schools that are farther out of the city tend to do better at competitions because they have more dancers on their teams and tend to put much more focus and money into their teams. Competitions typically last all day with teams meeting up as early as 7am, in Roosevelt’s case, and not leaving until the competition is over, around 6:30 or 7pm.

Teams typically compete at 4 competitions before they head into post-season, if they score the minimum points. In order to qualify for districts a team has to score above 190 at two competitions. At districts the teams have one chance to score 210 in order to qualify for state. During their regular season, Roosevelt placed at every competition they attended, taking home three third place trophies and one second. You can check out the trophies in the second floor trophy cases near the entrance to the balcony, across from room 218.

Sound-Off Finals Recap

By Gina Rangel-Gross

As reported in the February issue of the Roosevelt News, the EMP Museum kicked off their 14th edition of their annual Sound Off! music competition on February 13. Twelve specially-chosen youth semifinalist bands performed over the course of three weeks (Feb 13, Feb 20 and Feb 27), with each night one first place and one second place winner chosen. The three first place winners automatically received, and the three second place winners got put into a pool for the chance to receive, a spot performing in the final, big-bash event that is Sound Off! Finals. As it turned out this year, the bands that made the cut this year for the March 7 event were Naked Giants, Emma Lee Toyoda, wildcard band One Above Below None, and Bleachbear which includes Roosevelt’s own Annabella Bird Cooley on drums.

Naked Giants ( are a vibrant trio hailing from Mercer Island, WA. Their sound can only be described as “new wave rock”, a made-up but apt descriptor coined by Eclectic Arts Washington. When I first saw this band at Semifinals #2 on Feb 20, I got so excited by them that after their set I hurriedly wrote down a list of words that described the experience. What I wrote was, “EXPLOSIVE. reverb. soul-shaking. vibrating. CRAZY! jumping,” and truthfully, I can come up with no better words with which I could describe Naked Giants. Loud, energetic, and talented, they were able to bring an amazing and frankly impressive amount of energy to the crowd  considering they were first up to perform at the March 7 Finals.

Bleachbear ( describes themselves on their Bandcamp as a “family teen girl band from Seattle, WA.” A trio consisting of Tigerlily Cooley on vocals and guitar, sister Annabella Bird on drums, and cousin Emiko Gantt on bass and backing vocals, their performances were consistently well put-together and professional. Their setup was simple and clean, their outfits were matching, and their instrument proficiency and skill playing their signature reverberating dream-pop was astounding, especially for being the youngest band featured in the competition this year. Overall, Bleachbear’s genuine talent and haunting, angelic sound won over the ears and hearts of the audience as soon as they came on stage and even before, as they brought substantial crowds of dedicated fans, friends, and family.

Emma Lee Toyoda ( is a Seattle-based “indie folk” singer-songwriter, who brought an impressive five-piece band made up of several of her best friends along with her for her Sound Off! performances. Among the instruments featured in Toyoda’s setup were standup bass, ukelele, banjo, drums, and violin. Playing well-composed, heartfelt folk pieces, Emma Lee Toyoda was a consistent fan favorite, winning the Audience Response prize both times the group performed. A difficult group to describe but an enchanting group to watch, Toyoda’s passion for music and chemistry with her bandmates made for a special connection with the audience, and the nuances in her music never fell on deaf ears.

One Above Below None (, a hip-hop group from Seattle, were the wildcard-winners and last performing bands of the March 7 Finals. Having tried and failed to enter Sound Off! three times, and being chosen 13th this year (only performing because one of the originally chosen top twelve had dropped out), their genuine passion and excitement to finally be performing on the Sky Church stage was palpable. With an exciting, unpredictable stage presence and an entirely never-before-heard set of songs prepared for Finals, the group went hard to excite and surprise the audience as much as possible. Jumping insane heights, talking and joking with the audience and entering rap-battles with each other on stage, One Above Below None had a constant energy that guided their performances.

At the end of these performances, I was amazed by the talent of all four bands that had made it this far. I had my personal favorites, but I truly had no idea who was going to be the winner of Sound Off! 2015 — every single band was amazing, and that is said without exaggeration. The results turned out to be that OABN swept in first place, Naked Giants won second, Emma Lee Toyoda third, and Bleachbear fourth. Although the first-prize band wins some amazing benefits including a performance at Bumbershoot, the point of Sound Off! is thankfully not the competition or winning first place, but the exposure that all 12 talented PNW bands recieve and the experience learned about working right alongside judges and members of the music industry. While Sound Off! 2015 may be over, it’s guaranteed that this won’t be the last time you’ll see these talented bands.

Hands for a Bridge Northern Ireland Trip

HFB Seattle poses in front of the iconic "Free Derry" sign on a day out on the town.

HFB Seattle poses in front of the iconic “Free Derry” sign on a day out on the town.

Photos by Karinna Gerhardt

During a day trip to Omagh, the site of a horrific 1998 bombing by the Real IRA, students laid out daffodils to honor those who lost their lives to the tragedy.

During a day trip to Omagh, the site of a horrific 1998 bombing by the Real IRA, students laid out daffodils to honor those who lost their lives to the tragedy.

 After a long and wonderful retreat at Corrymeela, students bus back to Derry/Londonderry for a final night with their home stays.

After a long and wonderful retreat at Corrymeela, students bus back to Derry/Londonderry for a final night with their home stays.

Seniors Nick Navin and Mia Vanderwilt embrace a rare moment of sunshine on a chilly hike.

Seniors Nick Navin and Mia Vanderwilt embrace a rare moment of sunshine on a chilly hike.

HFB Seattle walks the Derry/Londonderry Peace Bridge, which was built in 2011 to unite both sides of the city.

HFB Seattle walks the Derry/Londonderry Peace Bridge, which was built in 2011 to unite both sides of the city.