April 13th Raptor News

Welcome Raptor Family!

It has been an amazing year, and we are celebrating all our accomplishments with a Spring Carnival on April 27th from 3 – 7 pm at RTHS – so add it to your calendar and come out to support and celebrate our school and RTHS community!

Please join us for a fun afternoon, which will feature:

  • Games and Activities
  • Entertainment
  • A silent auction to benefit RTHS Raptor Fund
  • A basket raffle to benefit student clubs and sports teams
  • Food trucks

Meet members of the RTHS student clubs and sports teams – there is something for everyone here!

Parents, this will be a great opportunity for you and your student(s) to meet others and experience the culture at the RTHS. The PTSO welcomes you and looks forward to seeing you.

While you are at the Carnival, stop by the PTSO table, become a member for the 2018-2019 school year and check out our volunteer opportunities!

Our school has been built and thrives due to the dedication of our RTHS families. Charter schools like ours are not funded at the same level as other public schools, and we play a part in ensuring our school provides the environment and experience we want our students to have. Get involved with the PTSO! – your experience at this school is directly proportional to what you put in.

Supporting our PTSO is supporting our students and teachers!

April 9th Raptor Events

Celebrating 50 Years Of Research Triangle Park

On April 20, 2018, from 9 am to 5 pm events hosted by the RTP Rotary Club and sponsored by major Research Triangle businesses will be taking place around Research Triangle Park.

As part of its 50th-anniversary celebration, join the Research Triangle Park Rotary Club in bringing the RTP Community together to advance Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) efforts worldwide.

Partnering with the NC Biotechnology Center, Research Triangle High School, the Kramden Institute, Sigma Xi, STEM in the Park, and others, the RTP Rotary will host multiple STEM/STEAM activities to help get local middle and high school students excited about science and technology opportunities. Other events will highlight innovative RTP companies, large and small, Changing the World. A concluding networking reception will honor past and present RTP leaders who have made major contributions to their respective fields.

Research Triangle High School   9 am – Noon
High school students visit with large RTP companies including Biogen, Cisco Systems, Genworth, GlaxoSmithKline, NetApp, and Underwriters Laboratories.

Lowe’s Grove Middle School   10 am – 2 pm
Middle schoolers learn about physics and science with hands-on learning experiences by Sigma Xi and Kramden Institute.

Public Guided Tours   Starting at 9 am
Syngenta, Toshiba, Red Hat, US EPA, Bayer CropScience, and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
Learn more about what happens in the Park.
Tickets and information

Innovation Showcase at The North Carolina Biotechnology Center   10 am – 1 pm
Visit an Innovation Showcase highlighting new technologies by the Top 10 Small Companies in RTP. Hamner Conference Center at the NC Biotechnology Center.
Tickets and information

Celebrating the Past, Present, and amazing Future of Research Triangle Park and the STEAM community it encompasses
North Carolina Biotechnology Center   1 pm – 5 pm
Held in the Hamner Conference Center Auditorium the program will include the following:

  • Presentations and Recognition*: Past and Present RTP Science Leaders and Small Innovative Companies “Changing the World” in Research Triangle Park
  • Future Vision of RTP by Scott Levitan, President and CEO of the Research Triangle Foundation
  • Panel Discussion: The Future of STEAM
  • Networking Wine and Cheese Reception

Tickets and information

*Some of the people being recognized include:

  • Mansukh C. Wani, Ph.D., Principal Scientist Emeritus with RTI International, who discovered the widely used anti-cancer agents Camptothecin and Taxol.
  • Charles Hamner, DVM, Ph.D., former CEO of the NC Biotechnology Center and pharmaceutical and healthcare consultant.
  • F. Ivy Carroll, RTI Distinguished Fellow for Medicinal Chemistry, whose contributions to anticancer, anti-radiation and anti-malarial research are well-documented.
  • Fred Brooks, Ph.D., Kenan Professor and founder of the UNC Department of Computer Science, known for managing the development of IBM’s System/360 family of computers and OS/360 software.
  • Mary-Dell Chilton, known for her extensive contributions to plant biotechnology and the production of the first transgenic plants.

March 12th Raptor Events


New Club- Envirothon

NCF-Envirothon is an annual environmentally themed academic competition for high school aged students organized by the NCF-Envirothon a program of the National Conservation Foundation. The competition is held by the United States and Canada on a regional, state, and bi-national level. Envirothon combines in-class and hands-on environmental education in a competition setting which involves a problem-solving presentation as well as written field tests. The competition tests students on five core subjects- aquatic ecology, forestry, soils and land use, wildlife- along with a fifth annually-changing subtopic which focuses on relevant environmental issues. Currently, roughly 500,000 students from forty-five U.S. states and nine Canadian provinces/territories participate in the competition.

The club meets every Wednesday during lunch in Ms. Manzers room. Contact either Ms. Manzer or Sandy Collins scollins3337@yahoo.com for details.

World Flex Day

Changing the World Flex Day – April 20th

This year RTHS is sending the entire Sophomore class to one of six RTP companies for a half day on-site experience of what our RTP neighbors do every day! The sophomores will be visiting one of these companies:

This program is in partnership with the RTP Rotary, The RTP, the NC Biotech Center and the NC Science Festival, to allow our young people to understand how RTP is “Changing the World” through the innovative work that is done here.

Even better, the students are going to be creating, in real time, a portfolio of “digital artifacts” about the company that they are visiting, through an app called Amirabilia. They will be interviewing employees, doing labs or activities or case studies, visiting multiple departments, and learning the key contributions of the company they visit – and collecting all that information into Amirabilia for students outside the Triangle to learn about RTP!

So, Parents and Students! Your job is threefold:

    1. Sign up to drive! We have 150 sophomores that have to get to six companies at 9 am on April 20, and back to RTHS at 12:45 pm. That means we need about 35 drivers! If you work in the Park, it is easy to do 8:45 am or 12:30 pm; you do not have to be a parent of a sophomore.
    2. Go through the company links above and talk with your student about what might be interesting about visiting that company. Make sure your student understands that visiting companies is their chance to discern more about what their future could hold; that Flex Days are a central part of the curriculum at RTHS; AND that this is their chance to create a story about the company they select and share it with students outside of the Triangle, with the Ameribilia app.
    3. Get your kiddo to sign up for a company they would like to visit.  Have them review the links above first.They can select their first, second and third choice from the list. Have them vote here for their choices.

November 6th Raptor Events

College Counseling

Choosing A College Major

I would like to share this great article from the NY Times about choosing a major in college.

Thanksgiving Donations


We know that for some in our Raptor Family, Thanksgiving is not a time of abundance and a dinner table heavily laden with a feast. We also know that there are many in our community who would willingly share their bounty. Germans celebrate their own type of Thanksgiving as farmers bring parts of their harvest and place them in a church to be distributed to those who might need it within the community. This “Erntedankfest” spurred the German Club to want to initiate a similar initiative within our community.

From Monday, we will place a large tub in the lobby for non-perishable food donations. Items include large canned pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice, evaporated milk, large cans of yams, canned green beans, canned mushroom soup, turkey seasoning, boxes or bags of stuffing, cans of cranberry sauce, Velveeta or similar product, elbow pasta, and turkey seasoning. We’ll accept fresh produce such as onions and celery as well as butter or margarine. You can also leave gift cards for Krogers, Walmart or Food Lion so that our Raptor family members can buy fresh items such as turkey, eggs, margarine or butter in this week.

We will place a shoe box at the front desk for gift card donations (with dollar amount on them) as well as for RTHS students and families to request a Thanksgiving dinner box anonymously.

We will distribute the Thanksgiving dinner with fixings on Monday and Tuesday of Thanksgiving week, most likely in backpacks.

Sponsored by The German Club as our form of “Erntedankfest.”

October 2nd Raptor Events

Jarred Franklin
2017 Teacher of the Year!

Research Triangle High School is proud to congratulate Jarred Franklin, Health & Physical Education Teacher, as our 2017 Teacher of the Year!

Selected by his fellow faculty, Mr. Franklin exemplifies kindness and creativity in his classroom. By designing truly innovative lessons that spark lifelong commitments to healthful living and physical fitness, Mr. Franklin is able to reach students of diverse interests in his PE class. His variety of units such as Quidditch, Healthy Relationships, and Football Skills address a wide scope of needs and interests that are relevant to students everyday lives. Students who otherwise would not have any interest in athletic activities are invested in his course.

As a mentor, teacher, Assistant Athletic Director, and coach, Mr. Franklin is a fantastic representative of the incredible things happening at RTHS. His positive attitude allows him to make authentic connections with all students across the school. Mr. Franklin actively collaborates with the science department to incorporate many other subjects in his courses such as Biology, Physics, and Environmental Science.

Mr. Franklin will advance to the Regional Teacher Level for an intensive interview and portfolio review. Later in the year, a regional Charter School Teacher of the Year will be selected and continue to participate in the state Teacher of the Year process.

RTHS wishes Mr. Franklin the best of luck in this endeavor!

August 28th Raptor Events

2017 Eclipse

Research Triangle High School, a STEM school literally right in the middle of a STEM research park, decided it had to make some pretty serious plans for the biggest event of the year – the 2017 eclipse. “I wanted our students who might not have the chance to experience and learn about this bit of astronomy at home to be able to see it in a place where they could do it safely and get some instruction and context on it, here in school,” said Eric Grunden, Principal and Chief School Officer. So the school rearranged the day’s bell schedule so that the entire student body could head outside for the eclipse from 2 pm to 3 pm. Every period was shortened by a few minutes to slip that hour in the middle of the day, and the revised bell schedule was emailed to everyone the night before. Eclipse glasses had been ordered for every student and teacher weeks before, and four telescopes from staff and parent volunteers were set up outside.

At 2 pm everyone in the building trooped outside grabbed their glasses and started viewing the partial eclipse. “This is pretty cool because it’s the first Eclipse for my generation.,” said Kier Condon Grade 9. “This is one of those once in a life time moments you don’t want to miss.,” said Quarry Craig Grade 12. “This is an awesome opportunity, I’m so excited to be a part of this.,” said Noah Burnette Grade 11. “It was the best school day ever!” said Ms. Blizzard, Managing Director, perhaps woozy from the heat, but also thrilled with the school-wide engagement.  “Students were asking questions, taking photos through the telescopes, and talking about science in ways they hadn’t before and about things that we don’t even teach here. If I’d thought about it, I would have tried to get the ice cream food truck here,” said Mr. Grunden. Or as he summarized the day, “It was bitchin’!”

College Counseling

College Day!
On Thursday, August 31, seniors will have a special schedule to allow time for senior pictures and college application work. It should be a great day!

Please encourage your student to be prepared to work on college applications on Thursday. My goal is for all seniors to make significant progress on all aspects of the application process: essays, teacher recommendation requests, Naviance updates, and data entry into the applications.

Of course, on Thursday night, we will all gather in the Black Box Theater at 7 pm for our Senior College Night.

Looking forward to a productive day on the 31st! All seniors will participate in a post-high school planning workshop with Ms. Ringenbach and be bused to the Prestige Portrait Studio for their senior yearbook and cap & gown pictures. Please see this letter which has all the details for the day, including the price of the sitting fee and what you should plan to bring/wear on that Thursday.


Oktoberfest tickets will go on sale in room 58 on Monday for the Saturday, September 9th event sponsored by RTHS and the RTHS German Club! The event is RTHS-family friendly! Come and enjoy true entertainment Bavarian style provided by the Little German Band and Dancers! We’ll have freshly grilled bratwurst, chicken, and vegetables, a variety of German salads and delicacies. No beer, but plenty of soft drinks! In addition, German Club students will be creating flower crowns at various price levels, face painting, and balloon hats. There will also be games such as badminton, German bowling, and corn hole. Ticket prices are $5 door fee with one free ticket if you buy 5! (So 5 tickets for $20 — a great deal!). Rally your friends and family for a night of fun at RTHS’s first annual Oktoberfest on Saturday, September 9th from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Help our students make the Oktoberfest a success!  Many items still need to be donated or loaned.  Please go through the list and see if you can help! Sign-up here. We could really use canopies that are set up at sports events, beaches, etc. If you have one that you could loan the German Club for the day, we could be even more authentic than we’re planning! And that’s pretty authentic with the Little German Band and Dancers, bratwurst and root beer, German potato salad and a ton more! If you have a 10’x10′ or 10’x20′ canopy, please contact Dr. Overlock at joverlock@rthighschool.org ASAP.

German students will be learning how to bake German cakes before the Oktoberfest. Black forest cake, apple streusel, strudel, Gugelhupf and plum cakes! We’ll need to borrow mixers, measuring spoons, springform pans, Gugulhupf pans, and Bundt pans, as well as some ingredients. We’ll send home a list of ingredients for the big baking extravaganza which will take place on September 7 and 8. Please make sure all items are labeled! We’ll also need parental help on those two days! Come on over (even if your child is not a German student) and join the fun. (And learn how to make some fabulous recipes!)

May 22nd Raptor Events

College Counseling News

We’re Number Two!

I’m a big fan of The Godfather trilogy. I first read the books in my early twenties and then watched all three movies within a forty-eight hour time span. I was binge watching before binge watching was even a thing. I’m not sure what initially drew me to the stories, I think I was eating a lot of pasta at the time maybe, but for some reason, I was hooked. The first movie was really good, but the second was even better. I’m not the only one who thinks that either. The Godfather II won six Oscar awards compared to the three won by the original movie.

Although we usually think first is better than second, there are a lot of examples that prove otherwise. Piano Man is the second studio album released by Billy Joel and is obviously his breakout record. The musical, Hamilton, is Lin Manuel Miranda’s second major broadway show and infinitely more popular than his debut, In The Heights. Basketball star, Kevin Durant, was a second draft pick, and more successful than first pick Greg Oden (thanks to Mr. Pedersen for that fun fact). The Second Amendment is just as important as the First and second United States President, John Adams…well, it is hard to argue that Adams was better than George Washington in any aspect of his presidency. Believe me, I tried.

All in all, the case can clearly be made that second is just as significant as first. The RTHS community will witness this first hand as the the second graduating class of the school will receive their diplomas in a few short weeks. They are a special group. Over the next two weeks, I’ll be sharing some statistics and anecdotes about their accomplishments and achievements. Stay tuned as we celebrate the success of the Class of 2017!

Food Truck Rodeo

Food truck event at RTHS on May 31st

Details to follow.

May 15th Raptor Events

College Counseling News

I have an easy job (Shh! Don’t tell anyone I told you that!)

We all know that teachers at RTHS are the best teachers. For Pete’s sake, the Charter School Teacher of the Year is none other than our own, Deb Brown. It is because of the excellence of our teaching staff that I have such an easy job. It’s easy to talk about greatness. And it is fun, too. I love bragging about what happens in our classrooms. I can easily talk about the passion and commitment of our teachers. Without skipping a beat, I can tell you a story that demonstrates how each of our teachers makes a connection with our students. This is because our teachers are involved in every aspect of the development of our students. They help students explore passions (I can name at least five students who now want to study theater in college because of Ian Finley), improve their confidence, overcome obstacles, and motivate them to be their best selves. Teacher Appreciation Week is a great time to celebrate the efforts of our teachers.

Our students might not fully understand the role that teachers play in the college admissions process. And actually, sometimes teachers don’t understand how valuable they are either. When I was reading applications at UNC Chapel Hill, I came across a very high achieving student whose recommendation letter from a teacher was most confusing. By all measures, this was a top student, but her English teacher wrote only one sentence, “I recommend X Student.” Curious about why the teacher didn’t write more, I called the high school and left a message for the teacher to call me. The teacher promptly reached out and was shocked when I told her that I was calling because her extremely brief letter of recommendation raised red flags about the applicant. She said, “I only wrote a sentence because I thought you guys didn’t read those letters.” I explained the importance of her voice in the admissions process and she then praised the student and shared quick anecdotes about the student’s characteristics in her classroom. The conversation I had with the teacher cleared up our confusion and the student was offered admission.

Most colleges ask for two letters of recommendation from teachers as a part of a student’s application. The letters can help affirm what an admissions reader already assumes about the applicant. For example, if the applicant discloses a love for literature and the English teacher writing the recommendation letter talks about the student’s passion for Jane Austin, then the admission reader has reason to feel confident in the authenticity of the applicant. The letter can also provide new information about the applicant. Some students struggle to highlight all of their strengths and recommendation letters might reveal new talents or activities not otherwise discussed in the rest of the application. Finally, the letters add another voice to the application. While the student can control the tone of his application, the admissions readers bias might wrongly interpret the personality of the student simply evaluating the student’s own words. The letter of recommendation might clarify the overall message or personality of a student.

Our teachers at RTHS put a lot of time into writing for our students. As a result, their letters contain descriptive details about each student. The anecdotes shared by our teachers help admissions officers understand our students’ strengths and how our students will contribute to college classrooms. Our teachers write these letters because they care about our students and, like me, are eager to brag about our student’s accomplishments.

As we wind down Teacher Appreciation Week, I’m reminded that our teachers are the reason why I love my job so much (yeah, your kids are, too, but let’s hear it for the teachers!).

German Club News

  • Wednesday:   Cookie baking with the German Club after school. Do not need to be a German student to participate. Come and join the fun until 5:15.
  • Thursday:   The World Cup between German and Spanish students after school.
  • Friday:   Sommerfest, a special German lunch featuring bratwurst, hot dogs, chicken, and vegetables, cucumber salad, potato salad, and corn salad. Cost is $5.00 for one main entree and one side dish. Sodas are $1.00 and cookies are $1.00.
  • Thursday, May 25th, first interest meeting for a European trip in 2018 to London, Paris, Rome, Pisa, Florence, Lucerne and more! Room 58 at 4 p.m.

April 3rd Raptor Events

College Counseling News

Take My Advice

This is my dad’s first spring in North Carolina. He retired last year and moved from Syracuse, NY to Raleigh. Lately, every conversation we have involves the topic of pollen. Upstate New York does not experience the wave of yellow we are gifted with here in the south, so he is unfamiliar with this phenomenon. Because he is inexperienced with pollen, he keeps making all the wrong choices. His house windows are wide open (obviously he wants to enjoy the warm temperatures and doesn’t realize the price he is paying), he washes his car almost daily, he sweeps his front porch about every half hour, and he sits outside wearing dark colored pants. I have told him that the pollen will be everywhere in his house because his windows are open, that his wet car will make the pollen stick even more, that the pollen he is sweeping off of his porch will just blow back onto it, and for heaven’s sake, just stay inside like all the other neighbors! But, like a lot of us, he learns by doing, and hopefully, he is learning from his mistakes. I imagine that come next spring, he will be providing some helpful guidance to other recently retired transplants.

While it is always important that we learn from our mistakes, perhaps we should spend a little time listening to the advice of others so we don’t make so many poor choices in the first place. If my dad had only heeded my advice about our allergy season, he might have started taking his Claritin earlier. For some reason, teenagers seem better at this than adults. They are quick to take the advice of their friends. Perhaps too quick, of course, but still, they do take listen to their friends and that isn’t all bad. But as adults, we sometimes feel the need to experience something ourselves instead of following the guidance of our peers. Maybe we can learn something from our students and seek out the advice of others.

This Tuesday, April 4, parents of our current junior class will have a perfect chance to practice this skill. All Class of 2018 parents are invited to attend an informational session designed to give them advice about helping their students transition to senior year. The program will feature a panel of parents of current seniors. These more seasoned parents will offer words of wisdom (no pressure, panel) and answer questions from the audience. I hope if you are a parent of a current junior that you’ll be able to join us on Tuesday!

If you can’t join us on Tuesday, or if you are a parent of a student in another class, I encourage you to reach out to parents you trust and talk about your experiences. Sharing information about best practices (what went well for your student, what would you do differently) can help us all grow and improve. If you aren’t sure who to talk to or want my advice, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me. And pray for rain to wash away this pollen!

January 2nd Raptor Events

Principal’s Message For 2017

Happy New Year to all of our Raptor families! I hope that you have been able to enjoy your holidays and are rested and ready to return to school for the spring semester. The faculty have continued working during the holiday break to update grades and prepare for the second semester, and hopefully get some rest for themselves.

It’s a new year, and I wanted to tell you about several new aspects of our school for the second semester.

  1. As you know, we have had an opening in our Arts department for a month or so now. That position has been filled. Mr. Wood, who currently teaches ninth grade English, will slide over to take that position. He will continue the existing courses (Digital Music Creation, Vocal music, and AP Computer Science) so that students can complete their courses. He will be making some changes that will help to better integrate the arts and technology. Over the long term, he will be implementing some new courses beginning next year as well as continuing DMC, but with his own changes. Mr. Wood has a background in TV and Radio production and will bring this expertise to the Arts program. We’ll miss him in English, but are excited about the changes in Arts.
  2. Beginning January 18, Ms. Monica Manzer will be joining our staff to take over Mr. Wood’s English classes. She comes to us from Johnston County and is excited about being a part of our faculty and having the opportunity to work with the Personalized Learning program. She will be well supported by Mrs. Hall and Mr. Wood and by our students who are well-acquainted with PL.
  3. We are looking for a new student counselor, as Mrs. Jackson has elected to leave RTHS and take a position at another school. While she enjoyed her time at RTHS and was certainly an incredible counselor and supporter of our students, she is looking for a different kind of counselor role. In the meantime, her workload will be absorbed by Mrs. LeMay and the rest of the administrative team, but we are interviewing candidates and hope to have a new counselor in place as soon as possible. We need to look out for our seniors!
  4. Beginning with this year’s admissions cycle, RTHS will use an online application that will give parents the ability to track a student’s progress through the lottery process as well as movement on the wait list. In addition, we will be asking parents of current students to use this portal to “re-enroll” in the spring. In the past we have simply asked parents to indicate whether or not their student is returning next year; this is essentially the same thing but will also allow parents to update contact information in case of changes. We’ll send more information about that out later.
  5. You’ll be seeing soon a survey about and a description of, some possible new bell schedules for the 2017-2018 school year. None of them significantly affect the start and end time of school, but we are hoping to be able to be more creative with how the day is run so that we can expand student-teacher contact time, continue mentoring, provide adequate seminar time, and make student scheduling a little more flexible. Your input on this is important. Watch for this information.

We’re all looking forward to a great spring semester and are happy to have you back!