Enter the Dragon’s Den

Davis, you’ve seen Shark Tank and Dragons’ Den on TV, but are you ready to see this action in your own hometown? Right in your backyard, at Da Vinci Charter Academy on December 14th from 6:00-8:00 pm, there will be a display of business pitches, ranging from foods to virtual reality.  Da Vinci’s seniors have been working on creating their businesses since the beginning of October. Now, they are ready to show the community and the Dragons all of their hard work – and to see if it is enough for local businesses to invest in.

If you come to this event, expect to see a wide variety of businesses and ideas presented by some of the most well-spoken seniors in Davis. In the past, seniors have created pet sitting companies, food delivery services, restaurants selling smoothies and even doughnuts, all with their own comprehensive business plans that include everything a legitimate business developer would need to know.

As Dragons’ Den is in its 15th year since its conception, it has been developed and refined greatly during that time. It was originally much less impactful than the project that it has grown to be today, with students only needing to apply for a loan and pitch to their class. While engaging students’ creativity, the Dragons’ Den project is also teaching them about economics and financial planning in a way that is beneficial to them in their lives outside of school.

In order to receive funding, the seniors must show that their business would thrive in our little city of Davis. They demonstrate this by conducting market research and considering the business climate of Davis to decide on a product that would really be beneficial and succeed in Davis.

This is where the Dragons (and you) come in! They are a group of local business owners and teachers in Davis that have the same job as the sharks in Shark Tank. After listening to the short pitches presented by the seniors, the Dragons must decide whether to make or break this business by either giving or withholding their investment. Even if you are not part of the group of Dragons, community members can vote on which business that they like the best and that will succeed the most in Davis.

We invite you, a citizen of Davis, to join us once again at 1400 E 8th St. on December 14th from 6-8 pm to help support our seniors in their business ventures and to spend a night to see what it would be like to hold someone’s future in your hands. Thank you in advance, and we sincerely hope to see you there!

Breakfast at Tiffany’s? More Like Breakfast at Da Vinci!

It is a well known fact that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but it’s an easy thing to forget when you’re rushing through your busy mornings. Luckily, with the new breakfast service offered here at Da Vinci, you don’t need to worry about forgetting breakfast anymore! Breakfast is now being offered in the MPR after second period.

There are a variety of options such as breakfast burritos, breakfast sandwiches, and pancakes with a side of sausage and cereal. The breakfast offered is not only a great way to stay energized throughout your school day, but it’s also very affordable. The full price of any breakfast option is 2 dollars and the reduced price offered for some students is only 30 cents. If you are still unable to afford breakfast at school, you can talk to one of the counselors that will help you receive free breakfast. 

Da Vinci students such as junior Nathan Ceppos are responding positively to the new service stating, “I really like the breakfast sandwiches. I usually sleep in too late in the morning to eat breakfast so It’s really convenient that I can get it at school now.” It’s a common theme amongst teenagers that sleeping in is a huge part of why so many students come to school without having eaten breakfast. Principal Tyler Millsap also commented, “It’s really important for students to eat breakfast because when students are hungry, it’s harder for them to focus and the brain doesn’t function at its peak. Some students don’t necessarily get proper nutrition outside of school and I want school to be a place where students can receive it if they need it.” Breakfast at school is helping to accommodate the busy mornings students face every day with healthy and affordable options everybody can enjoy.

Da Vinci Students Set Sail to the School Year with Projects

The sophomores recently finished their inaugural project at the high school, The Island Project. Students were tasked with creating a government that could withstand 100 sophomores trapped on a deserted island. On the English side of the project, the students read William Golding’s Lord of the Flies which relates quite literally to what is going on in the World Civilizations classes.

Photo of island project- Sophomore Ethan Horowitz presents on the differences and similarities between his island and the island in the Lord of the Flies

Many created outlandish governments that were too silly to exist, but other students designed more practical ways to govern themselves. Sophomore Na Leifson and her team created a theocratic form of government. “We have a lot of freedom to what our religion is,” she said. “It can be whatever we want as long as we have those people believing in it.”  

In order to present, students needed to have pieces of propaganda that supported their government, a flag for their government that had symbolic elements, and a PowerPoint presentation describing the inner workings of their government and how it relates to Lord of the Flies.

Da Vinci juniors started off their second year at the high school with a big project in their Humanities class, Whose Constitution is it, a debate from the perspective of different social groups on whether the constitution was created to be fair and equitable for all Americans.

Before the debates started, the juniors learned all about the Constitution and the government that followed. Although there was no book assigned on the English side of this project, each junior was given a packet of reading that they needed to annotate and use as evidence later on in their debates.

Juniors Justin Yeung, Amanda Kim, Maggie Watson, and Bradley Shaw strategize after a session of arguments from both sides

Some students represented the Founding Fathers, or Federalists, while others represented African Americans, women, Native Americans, and Anti-Federalists. Many students believed there would be no way for the Founding Fathers to win based on the beliefs of people today, but the end results of the debates surprised them!

Junior Owen Jee represented the Founding Fathers in a debate against women. When asked if he enjoyed the project he said, “It was pretty fun, but it was challenging, it was a lot of hard work.” It seems like Owen’s hard work paid off because his team was able to win their debate!

The most seasoned students at Da Vinci, the seniors also recently finished up their first project of the year Yo, Caesar! In this project, the students read William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar as well as many documents from different political philosophers.

The things they learned in their readings lead the seniors to create their final product. This was to reinterpret the play, Julius Caesar but with their own spin on it. They changed the country and time period in which the play occurred. Senior Charlie Teresi said that he liked the project because, “I enjoyed reading the political philosophers with their different ideologies, considering that they were very similar despite their small differences.”  

Now that these three projects are wrapping up, each class is rolling out new ones as well. Based on what has been done so far, what is to come will be just as interesting!


A History of Dragon’s Den

On Monday, October 29th, seniors entered the biggest project of their first semester: Dragon’s Den. Throughout November and December, teams of seniors will research, design, and develop a business plan before pitching their million-dollar ideas to local business owners. The project, modeled after British television show Dragon’s Den and American television show Shark Tank, teaches students about economics through the process of building a business.

Sophomore World Civilizations teacher, Mr. Scott-Stephen Bell, introduced Dragon’s Den to Da Vinci fourteen years ago with the opening of the school itself. However, back in 2004, Dragon’s Den was known as a project called Business Time, and lacked the creativity and depth of its modern counterpart. Business Time consisted of only a loan application and a pitch to other students and teachers. However, Bell was shortly inspired by a television show he discovered while spending time in the United Kingdom. “We have a show called Dragon’s Den,” he said, “which came out years before Shark Tank in the United States, so we started calling it Dragon’s Den. We said “ooh, let’s figure this out! We’ll have the dragons come in, we would have real business people come in to raise the stakes and sit on the panel.”

Dragon’s Den has continued to grow and develop even after gaining a new name, but one could only wonder what inspired Bell to introduce the project to Da Vinci in the first place. “We had to teach economics,” he said, “and we wanted to make it more realistic and tied to things that might impact their lives. Davis has a lot of independent companies, not chains, so it seemed to fit the spirit of the town.”

Although the Davis community may be familiar with the night-time event, hardly any know what really goes into the project itself. Mrs. Gretchen Conners, the current senior political studies teacher, outlined the project in an interview. “Students in teams develop a business idea in the setting of Davis,” she said. “They have to do some market research, think about who their potential customers are, and based on that make a good, educated decision about thinking about what Davis needs.” Students will then create an entire business plan, featuring startup costs, location, and any other pieces of information that a business developer would have to discover. At the end of the six week period, teams pitch their ideas to the Davis Dragons in order to secure funding for their ideas. But will your idea be chosen?

Although Dragon’s Den can be a source of stress for some seniors, Conners and Bell remind students that the project is meant to be a fun experience. “Do your research and bring some fun to it,” Bell said, “and save the drama for your mama.” Conners advises that students pick an idea that’s feasible, “something that an eighteen year old could create.” And although the opportunity to be creative can be tempting, Conners explains that there’s a limit to how crazy the ideas should be. “Pick something that isn’t so big that you can’t get it done in six weeks.”

Dragon’s Den will continue throughout November and December and end on December 14th with the pitches. Save the date!

Too Sick for School? Your Workload Says No.

On an early September morning, senior Garnet Phinney returned to school after just one day absent from an illness that sent her boyfriend to the doctor and step sister to the ER. The virus didn’t hit Phinney as hard as it did the others, but nonetheless, a full day of school wasn’t what was needed for optimal recovery.

Despite feeling fatigued, lightheaded, and generally in pain, Phinney decided the best course of action was to push through her illness and attend school because, in her own words, “If you stay home and rest, you will get behind in school, and inevitably fail your classes.” She’s not the only one who feels this way. Senior Sarah Oide avoids missing school at any cost, stating, “I think that I go to school when I’m sick because I’m afraid of missing assignments or important information.” Fear seems to be the main factor impacting students’ decision to go to school while sick.

District, school, and individual teacher policies allow students extra time to make up work assigned during excused absences. Acknowledging this, Phinney says that, “Even though you can make up work after you have recovered, there is new work to do and there is simply not the time.” The days after a student returns to school after an absence (or worse, multiple absences) won’t be easy.

At what point is a student too sick for school? What’s the limit? Answers vary from student to student, of course, but Garnet Phinney says that she “would have to have a high fever, bad nausea, or just generally feel incapable of moving around or concentrating,” to decide it’s best for her to stay home. She added that, “It depends on the amount of work I have.” A similar sentiment was expressed by senior Benjamin Kimmel: “It depends on what’s happening that day at school and if it’s worth missing.” Another student, Sarah Oide, says “I think I mainly stay home if I’m physically injured or can’t walk.”

A person can be contagious with the common cold for 10-14 days, and reach peak contagiousness around day 3 or 4 (sjmed.com). At this point, they’re normally back at school. Spreading a viral infections is especially a concern at a school like Da Vinci. Here, students can’t reasonably avoid working together to prevent spreading germs.

Most students know to cough in their elbows and avoid sharing food and drinks with others, but that’s not always enough. In an effort to heal as fast as possible, Oide relies heavily on Dayquil. “I really take a lot of dayquil, probably an average of 2-3 pills on really bad days,” she says. Other students like Phinney focus on not sneezing on things. She states, “I be careful not to put my germs places and I drink tea.”

It’s not reasonable to excuse a student from a week’s worth of work. More detailed Echo agendas may be part of the solution to the problem of students being too stressed to get rest.

Da Vinci Welcomes Four New Fantastic Teachers

Senior English teacher Josephine Lanni poses in her royal attire after teaching Julius Caesar.

This year Da Vinci has added four new teachers to the Dino Pack. Last year we said goodbye to Ms. Gist, Mr. Langone, and Mr. Haru. This year, we are joined by Ms. Lanni, Ms. Loomis, Mr.Kwan and Ms. Declerq. Yes, that is a lot of new teachers!

Ms. Lanni says her favorite thing about Da Vinci is “how impressive all of the students are here. They all are very driven and passionate about changing the world.” In Miss Lanni’s free time, she likes to always be outdoors. “I like to camp, hike, read, and hang out with as many friends as possible.” This is her third year of teaching! “Being a teacher at Da Vinci, I come to work every day and I am inspired by the students that I interact with.  I feel so lucky to come to “work” and it never feels like a job. I wouldn’t do anything else as my career. My favorite class to teach, honestly, is probably English just because I had an English teacher that changed my life. And every day that I teach I think of her and being a student in her class and looking up to her; wanting to be just like her.”

Although this is Miss Lanni’s third year of teaching, this year is her first year of teaching PBL. When asked what she likes most about PBL she stated, “I feel that is prepares you for the real world, where you are constantly collaborating and working to solve global issues.” She is currently teaching English, ACES, and Journalism.

This is Mr. Kwan’s first year at Da Vinci. When asked what Mr. Kwan likes about PBL he stated, ”I like the team work and energy of the project, the freeness of the class.” During Mr. Kwan’s free time, he likes to watch YouTube videos of people eating and playing video games. Mr. Kwan likes how the students makes him laugh in each of his classes. He also likes how the staff is very supportive and the students are very nice and do their work. Mr. Kwan said that he likes science because it explains life around us. This going to be his second year teaching. Mr. Kwan currently teaches environmental science, physics and chemistry. During the week Mr. Kwan helps coach the Da Vinci ultimate frisbee team.


Stop It: Its Place in School

After the Holmes Junior High gun threat, there has been much speculation around the app that was used to make this anonymous report and if it is the best system of reporting concerns around school. Stop It is a web app or a phone app where an administrator or principal of a school, in this case, sets up an account and is given a code. That code is given to every student at school so those students can log in to the app and anonymously report bullying, sexual assault, threats and discrimination happening on campus.
Da Vinci also has a Stop It code. Flyers with the code are floating around campus. The anonymous messages are sent to Principal Tyler Millsap, Vice-Principal Scott Bell and Campus Supervisor Mike Barron.
Use of the app began this year from suggestion by the district to Mr. Millsap. Mr. Millsap willingly installed the app but with some precautions.
“I chose to put it in place this year but I do not believe it should be the primary mode for which we address conflict or safety or bullying on campus,” Mr. Millsap said. “I really feel like it’s sort of the last tool in a line of better tools.”
He decided to activate the account for the few students and parents who have wanted a purely anonymous reporting system.
Mr. Millsap does not discredit Stop It, acknowledging definite pros to using the app, but from the beginning he did realize that a situation like the Holmes Junior High gun threat report could occur. “[It] highlighted some of the concerns about a purely anonymous reporting system so I think everything has pros and cons and one of our early experiences in the district with this is very much in the column on the negative,” said Mr. Millsap. “I still believe there are pros and potentially positives […] I think as soon as this went into place I acknowledged the possibility that something like this could happen.”
Using Stop It as the only reporting system is what worries Mr. Milsap. But, instead of focusing on the harm Stop It could do, Mr.Millsap wants the students of Da Vinci to focus on the resources Da Vinci already has in place, such as restorative practice. “One of our gigantic pushes that we have made over the last few years is to put in place restorative practices,” Mr.Milsap expressed. He hopes that restorative practices and conferences are used prior to students turning to anonymous reporting of harm done.
As a small community Da Vinci is able to achieve appropriate conversation with each other to address conflict with peers and teachers using restorative practice. “My hope is always that students feel supported and confident enough to speak to their peers or speak to an adult to get the help that they need. That is absolutely my philosophy and approach and hope,” Mr. Millsap concluded.

Personal Statement Practice

During October, seniors at Da Vinci are participating in the Personal Statements project, where seniors write a personal statement to prepare for their College Applications. Seniors either follow prompts from the schools they’d like to apply for or follow prompts from English 12 teacher Emma Gist.
The feelings from students about the project thus far seems to be a mixture of unease about the writing but a general agreement that it will ultimately be helpful.
“I think it will be (helpful) once I put in some effort, to have someone check over it who knows what they’re looking for,” said senior James McGlynn.
Senior Hugh Darwent added, “I think this project is helpful because you get feedback from a teacher on part of your applications.”
“I think it will be (good) in the end, I think I will have the best essay I can have with Gist’s help,” said senior Freddie Longshore-Neate.
The tricky part of writing personal statements is the fact you are writing about yourself. “I don’t like to brag about myself,” said Longshore-Neate, “It’s a process, it’s hard for me to figure out topics,”he continued, expressing his unease about the topic.
“I find it kinda weird, because it’s hard to not come off narcissistic,” agreed McGlynn.
Darwent said, “It’s interesting to get it all down on paper. I think I like it sorta?” But all in all there was a general agreement that this project, no matter the struggles, would ultimately be helpful.

New Teachers at Da Vinci

Say hi to the five new teachers on the Da Vinci Campus. The beginning of the school year can be stressful and exciting for all, and this sentiment was shared by Da Vinci’s newest staff members. The additions include math teacher Ms. Briana DeRobbio, social science teacher Ms. Brittany Rosenberg, math teacher Mrs. Elaine Woo, coding instructor Mr. Terry Toy and P.E. teacher Mr. Justin McBirney are all welcomed new additions to the Da Vinci family, and they are looking forward to a great school year.
For the first day of school, these new staff members were nervous, but also very excited to start the school year at Da Vinci. They were excited to get to know their students. “I was really happy to come back after three years away from Da Vinci.” said Mrs. Woo.
Teachers and students were really welcoming and friendly. All the new teachers found that the three first days were a good idea to start the school year, which was helpful for the students and for the teachers. It was a real success. The fact that Da Vinci had this first three day orientation, helped Ms. DeRobbio. “With the 3 days I could prepare myself for the first academic week,” said Ms. DeRobbio.
Da Vinci is different than their previous schools. It’s smaller and only has grades 10 to 12 making it a little learning community. Da Vinci also works with technology, while other schools learn in a more traditional style.
The first week went well for everyone because they felt supported by returning teachers, and felt that the students were very kind and friendly. “Everyone was ready to start learning,” said Mrs Woo.
This new school year, new teachers are also looking forward to developing good and positive relationships with students, and hope that students will be able to enjoy learning a lot in their classes g. Ms. DeRobbio is looking forward to seeing her students grow and mature throughout the year.
All of them are truly happy to be here! Students also seem glad that they are here at Da Vinci.

Nurse Stacey in the House

Do You need a bandage or do you need to talk to someone about issues you have? Go into the nurse’s office and Amy Stacy will welcome you. Mrs. Stacy is the new nurse of Da Vinci this year. For the last two years, she worked at Valley Oak Preschool. She also worked at North Davis elementary where her three kids go to school.
Her job is not like most of the people think it is,
“Well it is not a lot of first aid like a lot of people probably think,” Stacy said. “I do a little of case management, I help kids who have chronic illnesses or condition who need regular help treatment or care, help them establish plans at school so they can be safe while they are here and make them access to curriculum and go to class, be kids!” she continued. During the day she is mostly responding to emails from parents and spends time calling doctors. Sometimes Stacy does screenings for little kids, including checking their hearing and vision when they have a need or when the teachers refer them.
One of Stacy’s goals for this year was to create a place to treat sick students beyond just in the office. She really wanted to have a room so that students have somewhere to lay down and have some privacy, so she asked for donations and now Mrs. Stacy has her own office; a good place with a bed where students can have seclusion when they feel bad.
Mrs. Stacy likes DV, she feels good here. “I love it, I think it is a great community,” she said, “Students seem happy to be here and engage, the staff is supportive and they work very well together like the students did.” “I’m happy to be here and I’m here to help, if you need anything from a bandage to someone to talk to about your concerns, I’m here!”