Eight seniors at Oak View High, the school of second chances for many students who, for a variety of reasons, need to tackle the rigors of high school in a smaller, more personalized setting, graduated May 26 with an intimate, joyous ceremony.
Among other learning activities, Oak View students were treated during the past school year to an elite science program sponsored by Amgen, a world leader in biotechnology.
Oak Park Independent students also participated in the lab. Oak Park Independent School provides an online alternative to a typical high school for working students or for those who need a more flexible schedule.
Hannah Robinson, a new science and math teacher at Oak View, worked with Amgen to bring a biotechnology lab to the school, a program that had students buzzing with enthusiasm for science. The class was open to students in all grade levels, Robinson said.
The lab included different types of fingerprinting using high-tech equipment, techniques to determine feline and canine paternity, and use of genes from a sea anemone, Robinson said. Students also delved into the science of bacteria.
Mason Ecklund, a student at Oak View, said he came to the school when he realized he wouldn’t have enough credits to graduate from Oak Park High, a comprehensive school.
“The biolab that I did take was very informative on how things work within a lab setting,” Mason said, adding that he was grateful that Amgen provided the opportunity and the lab helped him clarify his goals. “I do have a newfound interest in (jobs) with a lab setting because of this class, but not biology specifically.”
Robinson filled in some details about Oak View’s biology class that led to the Amgen lab.
“We spent time before the biotech labs to understand how the process worked by building an understanding of genetic disorders such cystic fibrosis and Marfan syndrome, looking at the ethics of medical and biotech advances including . . . building a 3D model of the bacterial gene out of plumber’s insulation foam, and doing paper-based lab simulations first before the real labs started,” she said.
Oak Park Independent students ran tests in the lab and discovered that in one litter of kittens there were two biological fathers and not one, as was expected.
Robinson said that the $25,000 worth of Amgen equipment and materials used in the school lab enabled students to access Amgen online prelabs that are on a platform called LabXchange run by Harvard University.
Gavin Abbott, who had completed all credits for graduation earlier in the year, attended the biotech unit as a student leader.
“He was extremely helpful as a student mentor, leader and partner when things got more frustrating in some of the more challenging labs, and . . . we got the best results,” Robinson said.
Awards and accolades
Students were recognized for their achievements at the graduation held at the school on May 26.
The Sam Manocchia Memorial Scholarship was awarded to Gavin Abbott, and the Millie Andress Scholarship was presented to Noah Berman.
Angela Spicer received the Christine E. Brown Excellence Award.
Caden Lehto and Derek Vanselow garnered the Lisa Flynn Promotico Memorial Scholarship.
The Oak Park Teacher Association Scholarship was awarded to Addison Boylan and Riley Reynosa-Davis.
The Oak View High School Character Award was given to Jeremy Jacob.
The school colors for the Oak View High School Mustangs class are black and gold.