News from Patrick Henry High School – Oct. 21

By Elizabeth Gillingham

PPHS students participate in International Medicine Olympiad 

Eight students from Patrick Henry High competed in the 2016 International Medicine Olympiad (IMDO) from Aug. 1–3 on the University of California San Diego campus. Over 130 students from around the world participated. Two PHHS students, Kalos Chu and Ben Kelly, earned bronze medals. The entire team performed extremely well. The competition included three, 120 multiple choice question tests to establish individual and team rankings and then a team quizbowl-style tournament on the final day. Questions focused on molecular and cell biology and human physiology.

Team members agreed that even though the days were long and stressful, that the experience was incredible. They hope that PHHS will be supporting more teams in the future.

The all-incoming junior team was coordinated by the PHHS AP biology teacher, Mr. Andy Mangahis. Competition day support was provided by science teacher, Lara Dickens and the Schindler family.

Science teacher recognized with award

Congratulations to science teacher Lara Dickens for her special recognition award given by San Diego Unified School District for her continuous work to improve the environment and world through her work at PHHS. On Oct. 7, board member Kevin Beiser visited PHHS to recognize the science teacher extraordinaire with the Conservation Science Education Award of Distinction for her collaboration with Kids Eco Club and Discovery Education.


(l to r) Principal Listy Gillingham, SDUSD board member Kevin Beiser, and award-winner Lara Dickens surrounded by her first period class is recognized (Courtesy of PHHS)

This award was given for her ability to engage students in taking action to end mass animal extinction. Dickens is also well known for her work with our Ecology Club in establishing an Aquaponics Garden at PHHS as well.

“I am honored to have received the recognition for teaching conservation science. I am very lucky,” Dickens said after receiving the award. “The students that choose to take the course are super motivated and dedicated to making the environment better. I learn from them and ride their wave of enthusiasm throughout the year. It is also a blessing to be at a school that allows the elective to be squeezed into the master schedule and has an administration that lets us test our understanding of things like compost, vermiculture and aquaponics. That takes a lot of trust.”

Student of the Month for September

Henry senior Michael Giordano was selected as this school year’s first Student of the Month and was awarded during the Grantville/Allied Garden Kiwanis Club meeting last month. He was selected due to his upbeat, positive attitude that he displays in the classroom, on the football field, and around the campus.


Michael Giordano

Giordano especially stood out among his peers when the peer mediation class lost their teacher and a substitute had not been hired to cover the class. As a second-year student in the class, he volunteered on the first day of school to cover the requirements for the class and begin the instruction for the first-year students. He also emailed his former teacher (who had moved to a new city) and asked for her lesson plans so he could teach the class in the same format as last year.

It was through his initiative, we were able to recover the class and assign a credentialed teacher to continue the program at Henry. Giordano kept student interest alive by managing the first week — allowing the school time to secure a new teacher to keep the program going.

In addition, Giordana is on our football team, but suffered an injury early into the season. However, he continued to show his support and love of the game by attending every football game — on crutches — and cheered loudly and proudly as his teammates played each game. He is a pleasure to know and will do well with whatever profession he selects because of his heartwarming love of helping others.

Engineering Academy Expo and Dinner

The Patrick Henry High School Engineering & Computer Science Academy is hosting its annual Engineering Expo and Dinner on Wednesday, Nov. 9 at 6 p.m. in the Cafetorium on campus. At this event, engineering students will showcase their projects and skills. Families and guests will also enjoy a delicious spaghetti dinner and have the opportunity to participate in a silent auction and opportunity drawing. All proceeds from this event will be invested directly into the academy in the form of scholarships, equipment and materials, and other program essentials.


International Medicine Olympiad team members: (back row, l to r) Jonny Schindler, Kalos Chu, Luc Galaif and Jaxson Weinberg; (front row, l to r) Alex Cagle, Ben Kelly, Luna Miller and Phoebe Nguyen (Courtesy of PHHS)

More information on the Engineering Expo and Dinner and how to purchase tickets and/or participate in the opportunity drawing can be found at the academy website:  All members of the community are welcome!

—Elizabeth Gillingham is principal of Patrick Henry High School. Reach her at

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