In Eighth Grade we QUESTION

In eighth grade, we question why a changing environment has disparate effects on communities and individuals across the world. Students look to the past to inform the present, and they engage in hands-on, project-based learning to confront environmental injustices. Between examining social inequities and evaluating technological advancements, eighth grade students learn what it means to take an intersectional approach to solving the climate crisis. Students leave eighth grade ESM ready to be informed and empathetic advocates of environmental justice.

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Alberto Celis

8th grade United States History, Law Youth elective

Hola, my name is Mr. Celis. Education, learning, and teaching is a lifestyle that continues to influence my life in a positive way. Throughout my career as an educator, I have been able to work with middle school, high school and adult students with various learning styles and needs, as well as teaching them the significance of Social Studies & History. I challenge them to learn & grow as students, reach their potential, care, have a voice, to be critical thinkers and lifelong learners.

My favorite band in middle school: MANA (Spanish Rock Band)
My favorite place to spend outdoors: My vegetable garden in the backyard with a book
When I’m not at school, you can find me: Numerous communities of Los Angeles County, parts and trials of Griffith Park, the Observatory, Southern California Beaches, Palm Springs, Santa Barbara, San Diego, Puerto Vallarta, and Cancun just to name a few.
The best piece of advice I’ve ever received is: Enjoy the moment, value what you have when you have it, work hard, and know that what you do makes a difference.
Fun fact:
Throughout the years, my students and I have received numerous awards, and recognition from LAUSD, the City of Los Angeles, the Getty, Plaza de Cultura, the Gene Autry Museum, Plaza de la Raza, Center for Democracy, LACLA, Ave 50 Studios, RFK Human Rights, Tribeca Film and other Arts & Film Festivals. Their projects have been shown and showcased in the classroom, school, community, nation, and world.

Ms. Topolsky

Alyssa Topolsky

8th grade English, Reading Intervention, Academic Literature

Whether it was asking my siblings to play “pretend school” as kids or instantly registering for Sociology of Education in college, I always knew I wanted to be an educator. After receiving my undergraduate degree from Kenyon College, I worked for a college access program in the Chicago area. I then taught at an international school in China, and I spent my breaks traveling to countries like Cambodia, Japan, Malaysia, and so many others. As much as I loved my adventures, I loved being a teacher more, so I returned to the United States to earn my graduate degree at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. From my time in education across the country and world, I can confidently say that we have something really special at King. When I’m not teaching or traveling, you can find me running, watching and playing basketball, cooking, and (of course!) reading.

The best book I read in middle school: Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
My favorite band in middle school: Alanis Morissette
My favorite place to spend outdoors: Anywhere on a run
When I’m not at school, you can find me: Watching, playing, or talking about basketball
The best piece of advice I’ve ever received is: Listen to understand, not to respond
Fun fact:
While I was living in China, I adopted a dog! She is still with me today, and I love her dearly. Try to find the link in our virtual classroom below to learn more about her!

Ms. Topolsky’s Classroom Information

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Patara Yontrarak

8th grade Common Core Math, Algebra I

Hello, I'm Mr. Yontrarak, and I'm thrilled to be part of this learning community. With a BA in Economic-Math from the University of Southern California, where I graduated Magna Cum Laude, I bring a strong academic background to my role as a teacher. Beyond the classroom, I'm passionate about playing squash and occasionally compete in tournaments. I believe that a well-rounded approach to life enriches both teaching and learning experiences, and love to share my knowledge and enthusiasm with my students. Also, I am looking forward to having hard working students who love to be challenged through difficult math problems to join ESM.

Ms. Zarate

Cheryl Zarate

8th grade Science, Leadership elective

Hello, my name is Ms. Zarate, like Karate with a Z. I got my BA in Liberal Studies from Cal Poly Pomona with a multiple subject credential, and I’m currently working on getting my National Board Credentials in science. I have been a teacher since 2006 and have been at King since 2019. I am a mother of two children born in 2014 and 2017. Organizing and activism are some of my main passions. I am one of the many leaders in our teacher’s union, and I have been involved in other grassroots community organizations.

The best book I read in middle school: A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
My favorite band in middle school: Green Day
My favorite place to spend outdoors: My vegetable garden in the backyard with a book
When I’m not at school, you can find me: At home with my kids, reading a book, tending to my garden, walking my dog,  exercising on my Pelaton bike, and advocating for social justice in my local community
The best piece of advice I’ve ever received is: “Always question. Always Wonder” – Generation Genius
Fun fact:
During college, I did a quarter in London studying business and traveling Europe. I also spent six weeks in the Philippines at the University of the Philippines learning history and language, and I spent a week in Alabama for a spring break civil rights educational trip.

Ms. Zarate's Classroom Information

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Science Corner
Students started the year by examining the fossil record and what that might tell us about the history of life on Earth.
Students casted their own fossils while learning about the fossil record and the history of life on Earth.
Students dissected an owl’s pellet to learn about modern limb anatomy. Students compared the bone anatomy of modern tetrapods to that of ancient ones and learned how this can serve as evidence for relatedness among organisms.