Carlmont's Biotechnology Institute A Parent & Community Newsletter

First Edition

Welcome to the first edition of the Parent and Community Newsletter for Carlmont's Biotechnology Institute. As a parent of a graduate from the first BTI class and now a parent of a sophomore in BTI, I have truly been impressed with the innovative, cross-curricular program that serves our science-minded students. Throughout their three years (10th thru 12th), BTI students are given unique opportunities to expand their learning environment beyond the classroom, such as attending a professional symposium on campus where they learn from professionals in the biotech industry. They also visit biotech companies, attend science-based field trips, experience a year long one-on-one mentorship with a professional, as well as develop their own unique biotech product in a dual credit college course during their senior year. Additionally, over the past two years, six biotech companies have offered over 20 internships to our students, recognizing their exceptional lab skills and excellence in data collection and analysis.

our fearless leaders

Here are some of the dedicated, creative, and dynamic BTI teachers and administrators whose commitment and dedication make this program possible. The biotechnology program started with a dream seventeen years ago when Ms. Smith and Mr. Raffa started with just 100 students who wanted to learn about biotechnology. Over the last 18 years, they have developed a robust, relevant, and challenging curriculum which has educated over 4000 Carlmont students. As the biotechnology program grew, the State of California acknowledged that in order to continue to expand the program, they awarded Ms. Smith and Mr. Raffa a 6 million dollar grant to build three industry-standard, state-of-the-art biotechnology classrooms. In 2015, with the support of the school district and Carlmont's administration, Mr. Raffa and Ms. Smith established Carlmont's BTI program. As parents, it is important to understand that these BTI teachers put in a tremendous amount of time and effort to develop cross-curricular units across each classes' science, English, and social science curriculum. We owe these teachers and administrators our sincerest gratitude.

bti student accomplishments

We are proud to feature a few of our student's accomplishments that demonstrate both their passion for science and commitment to excellence.

professional conferences

With the support of her mentor, this BTI student (on right) landed an internship at NASA where she conducted independent research, which she was invited to present at the American Society for Gravitational and Space Research Conference in Renton, Washington. She was the only high school student to present. [note: student's names are not published in this newsletter]

science fairs

These BTI students (below) were award winners at the California State Science fair at the Science Center in Los Angeles. He won 1st place in the senior division of Electronics & Electromagnetics and she won 3rd place in the senior division in Toxicology and 2nd place in California in the Stockholm Junior Water Prize competition.

bti club

We are proud of our BTI students from the first class who took the initiative to launch their own BTI club on campus. These students are taking a leadership role in organizing and running the club, which targets guest speakers to come and share their experiences in their fields of expertise.

How you can help


This program is expensive to run given the small class sizes, special programs and projects, and advanced scientific materials needed. In addition to the financial support from the school district, additional funds are required to support this robust science-focused program. Our BTI teachers, staff, and now parents spend additional time fundraising, including writing grants, seeking corporate donations & supplies and receiving generous individual donations. This year, we are excited to announce that BTI families contributing to the Carlmont Academic Foundation (CAF) are able to direct up to 90% of their donations to the BTI program. We encourage you to give significantly to CAF and BTI. CAF’s support is essential to the existence of BTI. You can also support CAF by attending this year’s Bagpiper Bash, the annual CAF fundraising event, which is Sunday, September 23rd at Waterdog Tavern. We hope to see you there!

Grants/Corporate Donations

We are actively searching for grants & corporate donations to support this program. Also, if your company is discarding older lab supplies, we can often use these in the classroom. If you have any leads, contact Ms. Abdilla at jabdilla@seq.com. Additionally, if your company participates in a corporate matching program, their contribution can also contribute to the BTI program. This means that if you choose to donate 90% of your CAF donation to BTI, 90% of the corporate match will also go to BTI. The other 10% will go to CAF to support other needs on campus.

California Life Sciences Association

Last year, the BTI program won the $20,000 Giants of Science grant sponsored by KNBR and the California Life Sciences Association. This contribution made it possible for BTI to purchase much-needed supplies and new equipment for the college-level biomanufacturing course, which our seniors take. Thank you KNBR and CLSA!


Carlmont Academic Foundation (CAF) was awarded in February a $20,000 grant from Oracle to support cutting edge lab-centric course offerings in Carlmont’s Biotechnology Institute and Computer Science Department. The Oracle grant will provide the Biomanufacturing class with water baths, dispensing pumps, and UV spectrometers. The Biomanufacturing class is unique, as students work in an “Incubator Lab” where they collaborate with a local community college professor to create bio-manufactured products (think “Shark Tank” for bio-manufacturing). The equipment will also be used for the junior Biotechnology 3-4 class. Thank you, Oracle!

A visit from Oracle to observe our BTI students in action.

Roche Diagnostics

Roche Diagnostics has sponsored Carlmont's Science Guest Lecture Series for the 2018-2019 school year. They have requested that their $5000 donation be used in support of the Biotechnology Institute. Thank you, Roche Diagnostics!

Become or refer a mentor

The BTI mentor program junior year is a vital differentiator for our students. These relationships have helped our BTI students gain knowledge of and skills needed in the business world as well as open doors to internships, research, job shadowing, and exposure to professionals who are making a difference through their work. Consider volunteering this year as a mentor or refer a colleague!

The mentor program pairs students with professionals to discuss both academic and career goals. While the curriculum is focused on science, student career interests can range from business and technology to medicine and law. The commitment is approximately 2 hours per month, with most interactions via email and 3-4 face-to-face meetings over the course of the school year. The first meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, November 6th and the program concludes on May 2. Contact Faith Velschow at fvelschow@seq.org or call at 650-591-7502 to become a mentor.

Mentor Breakfast

Volunteers needed for biotech symposium

Thursday, October 4th from 9:45 am to 11:30 am.

As part of the BTI's unique approach to reaching students, we are holding a Biotech Symposium for sophomores in which we invite professionals to campus to bring students cutting edge information on the technology and career paths available. We will start the day with a keynote speaker and then divide the morning into 2 sessions:

Session 1 (9:45-10:35 am): Career Round tables - professionals will speak in a small group format about their career, educational background, give a brief job description and offer the pros & cons of their field. Students will have 15 minutes with each professional and then rotate to the next. Ideally professionals from a wide variety of careers will be represented including science professionals and business professionals in a technology or biotech company.

Session 2 (10:45-11:30 am): Hot Topics - professionals will each speak on a different hot topic in their field. This will also be three rotations of 15 minutes each, in which the professional can introduce the concept, provide a bit of background information to understand the technology, its promise, and the ethical issues regarding its use. Some of the proposed topics, could be:

  • Nanotechnology
  • Stem Cells
  • Gene Therapy
  • Vaccines

Contact Faith Velschow at fvelschow@seq.org or call at 650-591-7502 to participate.

save the dates

BAck to School night - September 13th 5:45 - Room U21

BTI parents are invited to COME EARLY to learn more about this amazing program. Teachers and parents will present an overview of the program and will answer any questions. Please join us!

BTi Graduation - Class of 2019

Carlmont Performing Arts Center on June 5th - 6:30

schedule of fall events

  • September 5th - Science Lecture Series, Dr. Hua Tu, Chairman and CEO of LakePharma, 7 p.m. in PAC - Sponsored by Roche Diagnostics
  • September 13th - Back to School, 5:45pm in U21
  • September 23rd - Bagpiper Bash - CAF Fundraising event - Waterdog Tavern
  • October 4th - Sophomore Symposium, 9:00am in Student Union
  • November 6th - Junior Mentor Breakfast, 9:00 am in Student Union

BTI's First graduating class

Class of 2018

It is with great pride that we present to you our first graduating class. 100 percent of these graduates are attending college this fall. These students have been accepted into several schools in the University of California and California State University system, including UC Berkeley, UC Davis, UC Santa Cruz, UC Santa Barbara, Cal Poly SLO and San Diego State, as well as private universities including Cornell University, Brandies, and the University of San Francisco.

student awards-2018

Spirit Award
Humanities Award
Leadership Award
Scientific Fieldwork Award
Scientific Fieldwork Award
Academic Excellence Award


In the words of Ms. Susan Gold, "This program is richer for having had these students. They are trailblazers...and we celebrate what we have built together." BTI is truly a unique, one-of-a-kind program that continues to evolve with the changing and growing contributions of all our BTI students. We look forward to another outstanding year, and on behalf of our BTI teachers, administrative staff and veteran parents, we welcome you all to our BTI community and look forward to your support and active involvement.

Contact Info

  • Susan Gold - Co-Director of BTI: sgold@seq.org
  • Jaime Abdilla - Co-Director of BTI: jabdilla@sep.org
  • Faith Velschow - Director of Mentoring and Career Services: fvelschow@seq.org 650-591-7502
  • Cheryl Shelmadine - Sophomore Parent Rep and newsletter editor: service@copyteclegal.com
  • Tanya Rianda - Junior Parent Rep: tanya.rianda@gmail.com
  • Kim McGreivy - Senior Parent Rep: kmcgreivy@live.com

Please feel free to submit articles, stories and/or photos for our Parent & Community BTI newsletter to our newsletter editor. We would love to feature what your amazing BTI student is up to! Go BTI Scots!

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