Good luck class of 2019 ... wELCOME Class of 2022 Carlmont's Biotechnology Institute: A Parent & Community Newsletter

a note from the editor

Volume 2 Issue 1

Carlmont's Biotechnology Institute (BTI) is a one-of-a-kind program that provides Carlmont BTI students with unique educational opportunities including cross-curricular learning between English, science and social studies, advanced science and laboratory-skill development, project-based learning, and career development. Students participate in a symposium, a one-on-one year-long mentorship program, and are encouraged to explore internship opportunities. They tour biotechnology companies, and they also receive dual credit (high school and college credit) for the series of biotechnology classes that they take. Wow! That is a mouthful - but then the BTI program has so much to offer. Now in its fifth year, we, BTI parents, are so fortunate that Carlmont offers this robust, small learning community to our teens. BTI provides students with the skills, analytic development, and career exposure they need for their next adventure after high school.

In this edition, we will say a final goodbye to the Class of 2019 and share in their joy, enthusiasm, hopes and dreams as they move on from Carlmont High School. We will also take a peek into the first year of college of some of the students from the Class of 2018, BTI's first graduating class. Finally, we will see how BTI has hit the ground running and is knee deep in its academic curriculum as well as BTI social events.

Finally, I would like to personally welcome our new BTI parents of students who are just starting the BTI program this year. Greetings! We are so excited about this new enthusiastic Class of 2022 and welcome you to our BTI parent community. Please take special note of our BTI events, two of which are for BTI parents specifically—our early Back-to-School Night presentation and our parent Mix and Mingle. See upcoming events. Also, if you would like to know more about BTI, I encourage you to check out Carlmont's BTI website and read a few of last year's BTI newsletters. They are chalk full of information. I would especially point you to April's newsletter: Behind the Scenes: The Dreamers, Leaders, & Supporters of BTI. It provides a history of the program as well as thoughts from the people who are responsible for this amazing program.

A final Farewell & Interesting travels to the Class of 2019!

bti Graduation

It is with great pride and joy that we present to you our second graduating BTI class—the Class of 2019. These students have helped shaped the continuing development of the BTI program. As a class, they demonstrated exceptional leadership and interest in seizing every opportunity that came their way. While their participation in the BTI program will be missed, we know that they will bring their exceptional knowledge and honed skills to their next adventure. Those institutions are lucky to have them! All BTI graduates are moving forward to higher education or to serve in the armed forces. BTI students have been accepted into an impressive list of universities including but not limited to: UC Davis, UC Santa Barbara, UC Riverside, UC Santa Cruz, UC Merced, Cal Poly, Chapman, University of Massachusetts, University of Rhode Island, Iowa State, Whitman, University of Oregon, and many Cal State schools.

Go forth and change the world Class of 2019!

BTI Graduation

June 5, 2019

BTI students and their families came together for a special BTI graduation ceremony. One of the most universal comments stated from BTI students about the BTI program is the close friendships that they made in the program. What starts off as a class of mostly strangers becomes family. The bonds that the students and teachers form over the course of the three years is deep and lasting. Congratulations Class of 2019!

Student Speaker - Harrison D.
Student Speaker and Leadership Award - Raven G.
Student Speaker and Spirit Award - Ziad K.
Humanities Award - Natalie S.
Maria F. - Scientific Fieldwork Award
Marina S. - Scientific Fieldwork Award
Alyssa H. - Academic Excellence Award
Brandon G. - BTI Branding Award
Graduation Ceremony Rehearsal

BTI Graduation slideshow by Mr. Engberg

Carlmont High School Graduation

June 7th, 2019

What a day to be proud! Congrats both students and parents of our BTI program.

BTI Students at Carlmont's Graduation Ceremony

College students - bti Class of 2018

How BTI Helped Prepare them for their first year of college

The first graduating class of BTI, the Class of 2018, just finished their first year of college. We asked some BTI graduates to share their thoughts on how the BTI program helped prepare them for college. Take the time to watch the videos and listen to what they say. They are all so impressive.

Jonah - UC Irvine

It didn't take long for Jonah to take UC Irvine by storm. Not only does his video reveal his extensive leadership skills as well as his involvement in a plethora of activities, he is also involved with a child-development lab at UC Irvine where he researches how children think and relate to the world at the Discovery Cube, a fun learning place similar to the Discovery Museum. Carpe Diem and Jonah are basically synonyms! Go Jonah!

Hunter - San Diego State University

A Marine Biology major and a member of the Weber Honors College, Hunter is well prepared for her extensive science curriculum. To her delight, BTI prepared Hunter for her first two semester's of chemistry where she discovered that she had already done many of the experiments in BTI. Her lab skills and knowledge of doing lab write-ups kept her at the head of the class. Moreover, she also found that the analytic writing skills she honed in BTI English allowed her to glide through her required writing courses with ease. Her professor wrote, "Your responses on the questions are the most comprehensive, cogent and poignant responses I’ve read thus far. You articulated a specific claim and supported it with evidence from the readings, but more impressively, you offered insightful, substantive analysis. Excellent job!" Way to go Hunter!

TÉa - UC Merced

As an Education major, Téa has accomplished impressive milestones in just her first year at UC Merced. Having graduated from the BTI program and completed an internship at Telemere Diagnostics, she was easily hired for her first research gig at UC Merced which partners with professors needing data on various aspects of teaching and learning through surveys and questionnaires. She plans on continuing with this paid research position throughout her four years. In her first semester, as part of a class, she developed and delivered science lessons to eager kindergarten students. Then Téa, who wrote a detailed research paper for her writing class on Girls in STEM in lower grades was asked to present her paper at a Sociology Research Symposium. While nervous being the only freshman, she realized that she presented her work to scientists at BTI symposiums which gave her the confidence to present her paper to professors and grad students. After the presentation, professors and graduate students spoke with her and encouraged her to apply for a summer grant to continue her research. She was also asked by her psychology graduate student who taught her class to apply for and was granted a research position helping with data collection on the relationship between social aspects of life and mental health. Go Téa!

Alice - Cornell University

Alice studies Plant Sciences with a concentration in Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology at Cornell University. She credits BTI for enhancing her experience at Cornell. She writes, "The advantage BTI gave me in college was almost immediately noticeable to me. Every time I had a chemistry or biology lab, I could see how many practical lab skills I had gained because of BTI. I already knew how to use a micropipet, what PCR is, how to write a lab report, and many other skills that I see my peers here just starting to develop. I'm also already well acquainted with many of the biotechnology techniques and biology taught in lecture and was able to get a research position by the end of my fall semester. I'm currently working in that lab researching grafting in tomato plants and I've been able to learn a lot of new science because I already had the basics down." What is remarkable about her experience in the science labs at Cornell is that the BTI labs at Carlmont are as good if not, in some cases better than what she uses at Cornell!! She writes, "The resources we had access to as part of the program are quite often better or the same as what I use here. BTI gave me the opportunity to use equipment, materials, and skills that most students only get exposed to in college." Alice...just remarkable!

Alice at Cornell

Taylor - UC Irvine

The BTI program really helped me mature as a student. The program taught me that while teachers are there to help, the drive and discipline must come from the student. In college, no one really cares if you even go to lecture or turn in a paper. Therefore it is important that you build those good habits in high school where people are still there to hold you accountable. BTI also did a great job helping me become better at working with others. While some assignments are completed solo, quite a lot force you to work with others to complete the project. I’ve noticed that this task seems much harder for other people here at Irvine, and I attribute that mostly to BTI projects that required you to get along with others, such as the Genetic Engineering project or working on a lab together.

There are a lot of things that I really appreciate about the BTI program. For one it allowed me to find a focus in science. I think that colleges like to see students that have found a subject area that the enjoy studying and have subsequently taken many classes in high school to demonstrate that interest. This program allowed me to do that and write about that in my applications. The mentor program showed me what it’s like to work in the field of science and helped to develop my e-mail etiquette skills. All in all I believe that the BTI program made me a well-rounded student.

integrating STEM and Liberal arts

Interview with President of Lafayette College, Alison Byerly

Pliska: Another priority of your presidency is to rethink the false dichotomy between STEM preparation and liberal arts education. Why is it important for Lafayette to integrate the two?

Byerly: It’s wonderful there’s been an increased recognition of the importance of scientific preparation and training, but at times, it comes at the expense of recognition of the humanities as crucial training in critical thinking and social analysis. The truth is both skill-sets are equally necessary in today’s world. One of the benefits of a college that is very strong in both of those areas is that we can model what we think citizens need in order to contribute meaningfully in this rapidly-changing world. And that is both an understanding of and fluency in technology, as well as an understanding of human relation and how to think critically and ethically about those relationships. That skill is evergreen and will not change however much the technology of the world around us does.

This awareness is particularly important for students coming from underserved communities who might not have broad experiences with higher education and professional training. We shouldn’t elevate STEM fields as the ‘only ticket out’ to be successful. Students really need to understand there are so many different ways to be successful, and the most important way to do so is by activating their own talents and abilities.

Learning: A Lifelong Passion

summer science!

When the desire to continue to learn goes beyond the academic calendar, well, that is a sign of true inspiration and success. So what did some of our BTI students do over the summer anyway? Here is the impressive summary:

  • Sophomore G.I.: Stanford: It was a neuroscience class. I learned stuff about the brain and looked at brains and did projects and stuff. It was really cool and fun!
  • Senior A.L.: UC Davis in Cosmos program: I spent a month living at UC Davis as part of a summer program. We partook in courses led by professors, without tests or homework (other clusters had to though, hah), and it was generally boot-camp for college. Great all round.
  • Senior P.R.: 6-week internship at Allakos in Redwood City. I did a lot of labs including some ELISAs, Western Blots, and DNA Transfection. I also sat in a couple of the meetings they had. I mainly worked in protein production and learned a lot about the inner works of a company. They were really impressed with my general knowledge and pipetting techniques which helped me greatly to be successful.
  • Senior E.M.: Internship at Telemere Diagnostics: I worked on a couple of projects compiling information and organizing data, and went through reports to make sure all information was correct. I also did paperwork organizing and reagent aliquoting, and they trained me on DNA extractions, even though I can't extract patient samples. I improved my lab skills a lot, and I learned a lot about how biotechnology companies are run and about all the different roles and jobs at a biotechnology company.
  • Sophomore A.L.: ABA (American Birding Association) Camp Colorado/Estes Park, CO. We went birding, learned about birds and how to identify them, as well as learning about bird banding, data collection, and advances in tracking technology.
  • Sophomore R.L.: Utah and Wyoming. I saw wildlife in Utah and Wyoming. We saw snakes and birds and a grizzly bear and a wolf. I also saw a wildfire.
  • Sophomore A.B.: Maui, Hawaii- An aquarium. I went to an aquarium and there were marine biologists and interns giving turtles checkups to ensure their safety and health in their aquarium conditions. They also checked their growth. I learned the impact humans have on the environment and the different ways we can help the ocean’s cleanliness and ability to support its own wildlife.
  • Sophomore J.Y: Watched a new science related TV show on Amazon called Fringe. I watched Fringe because it was really fascinating since I never really did much research on Fringe science. I learned a lot about possible theories and in the show they made it a reality.
  • Sophomore A.L.: The Planetarium in Illinois. We watched a presentation on the constellations and looked at older technology used to look at the stars and other planets.

BTI Kicks off the school year

The BTI Class of 2021 did not waste any time the first week. Goggles on, pipettes out, thinking caps on and away they go...using lab materials like pros. See for yourself.

Bleach Dilution - Junior Class

team building event

Notebook Decorating and Popsicles

Come one, come all to BTI's lunchtime notebook decorating event. BTI students personalized their notebooks and celebrated with a well deserved Popsicle. Perfect for a hot summer school day!

BTi sweatshirts

How you can help


Financial support- Setting our goal for 2019-2020


BTI requires an annual budget of $150K, and thanks to the generous contributions from the Sequoia Union High School District ($75,000 & a Carl Perkins State grant of 30,718) , corporate sponsors (Oracle $20,000 & Roche $5,000 & Check Point $2,000), a generous donor ($25,000) and parents through the ongoing support of CAF ($36,912), we exceeded our goal of $105,000 for a total funds raised of $119,630 and we are able to hit the ground running this year. So thank you all for your generous contributions which ensure that this program can continue.

This year

The directors of the BTI program, Ms. Abdilla and Ms. Gold, are currently working with administration and corporate donors to confirm this year's pledges. Once that is complete, we will share this year's fundraising goal to support Carlmont's Biotechnology Institute. But listen, parents, you do not need to wait until the next edition. Did you know that by giving to CAF, you can allocate a portion of your donation to BTI? We are so lucky to be partnered with CAF to facilitate our ability to raise additional funds tied to the specific expenses associated with a unique program like BTI. It is only by building upon the strong foundation that CAF provides that we can offer this specialized college-prep program. The cross-discipline curricular planning, professional integration and amazing field trips have created a strong community for our students with content and experiences that they find relevant and challenging.

bagpiper bash

Join in the fun at the Bagpiper Bash on Saturday, September 21 at 7PM at Waterdog Tavern! This event is sponsored by the Carlmont Academic Foundation (CAF), and all money raised supports our Carlmont students. This is the perfect chance to meet new friends or catch up with old ones! The 2018 Bagpiper Bash Fund-A-Need made a huge difference for Journalism last year, and CAF has their sights set on stocking a new science classroom this year! Let’s show our support! Check out the CAF website for event details and buy your Early Bird tickets now!


We would first like to thank Oracle, Roche, and Checkpoint who have already pledged to provide a direct donation to the BTI program this year. Their ongoing support to ensure that this next generation of students have the opportunity to build skills and knowledge in the Biotech industry has been essential to BTI's ongoing success. A HUGE thank you from us parents!

We would also like to thank Will Sharron, a parent of a BTI student, who wrote a letter to his company last year, Checkpoint, detailing the BTI program, explaining why they should make a contribution, and then attached a link to a BTI newsletter. We are so grateful to Will for his effort. Checkpoint donated $2,000 to BTI last year and has pledged to donate again this year. Thank you Will and thank you Checkpoint! Hey...Great idea, parents!

Become 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 5th and the program concludes on May 1.

Not sure? Let's meet up in an informal setting at Portobello Grill for the opportunity to meet the teachers as well as other mentors both new and experienced. Mentors from 3 schools are being invited: Carlmont HS, Sequoia HS and Woodside.

Mentor Mixer at Portobello Grill is Wednesday, 9/25 from 5:30-7:30 pm. Contact Faith Velschow at fvelschow@seq.org or call at 650-591-7502 to become a mentor or RSVP for the Mentor Mixer.

Reflections from our oracle volunteers

Success Story One: Biotechnology Institute Volunteer Lauren Diehl; Director, Global Customer Success, Oracle: Lauren Diehl is a parent of a Carlmont High School student and volunteered for the Biotechnology Institute. She participated in a one-day career round table meeting and a one-day elevator pitch discussion. As Ms. Diehl says, “Volunteering for BTI at Carlmont has been a pleasure. Engaging with bright young students that have the whole world in front of them and providing feedback to guide them forward has been rewarding and fun! I also love being on campus and running into my kids and their friends, it keeps me connected to their worlds so I can better understand how to guide my teens and their friends with empathy and love.”

Success Story Two: Biotechnology Institute Tech Symposium Volunteer Jim Lamascus; SaaS Applications Sales Representative, Oracle Digital: Jim Lamascus participated in last year’s Tech Symposium for BTI students. These one-day volunteer opportunities are rewarding for both the volunteer and for the students. As Mr. Lamascus says, “I volunteer at Carlmont High School as a way of giving back to the local community. Back when I was a high school student, I had an opportunity to personally interview a sales representative for a class assignment. And as a student, I found the interaction around a sales career inspiring. Today, I find myself working as a sales professional for Oracle. It is my hope to inspire students to broaden their options within STEM fields just as I was inspired years ago.”

Join the parent-teacher development committee

We are looking to expand our Parent Development Committee and would welcome your ideas and energy! If you would like to be a part of this enthusiastic group, we would love you to join! All BTI parents are encouraged to join. If you can donate time and would like to help with some events or join the parent development committee, email fvelschow@seq.org.

other ways you can help

  • If you have access to supplies that can be donated to our science labs, contact Ms. Abdilla at jabdilla@seq.org.
  • If you have a knack for social media development, we can use your talents. Email fvelschow@seq.org
  • If you have fund-raising experience and ideas, we would love to hear them!
  • If you have other ways to help, just let us know!

Upcoming schedule of events

  • September 12 - Back-to-School Night PRE-presentation - 5:30 p.m. Room U21. The BTI Parent Community starts here with an opportunity to hear from current senior parents, ask questions and see some familiar faces
  • September 17 - Exploratorium Field Trip - Sophomores - all day
  • September 20 - Otter Pops and Kahoot - lunch & Shirtshirt orders due
  • September 21 - Bagpiper Bash at Waterdog Tavern - 7:00 p.m.
  • September 24 - California Academy of Science Field Trip - Juniors - all day
  • September 25 - Mentor Mixer 5:30-7:30 at Portobello Grill - Interested in being a mentor? Let's meet up in an informal setting for the opportunity to meet the teachers as well as other mentors both new and experienced. Mentors from 3 schools are being invited: Carlmont HS, Sequoia HS and Woodside, so please email Faith Velschow to RSVP.
  • October 16 - Parent Mix and Mingle Event - 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. TBD - Come join other BTI parents for an opportunity to meet other BTI parents, ask questions and share experiences.
  • October 18 - Science Symposium - Sophomores - Periods 1-3
  • October 25 - Slimefest - lunch
  • November 5 - Mentor Breakfast - Juniors - Periods 1-2
  • November 22 - Pie Feast - lunch
  • December 12 - BTI Study Night - 5:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
  • June 3 - SAVE THE DATE: BTI's 2019 Senior Graduation Ceremony - 6:30 p.m. at the Performing Arts Center at Carlmont
BTI Graduation! Class of 2020

Contact Information

  • Susan Gold - Co-Director of BTI: sgold@seq.org
  • Jaime Abdilla - Co-Director of BTI: jabdilla@seq.org
  • Faith Velschow - Director of Mentoring and Career Services: fvelschow@seq.org 650-591-7502
  • Kevin Marks – President of the BTI Development Committee: kevin.marks@roche.com
  • Kat Eden - Sophomore Parent Rep & Communications Rep: kateden01@gmail.com
  • Cheryl Shelmadine - Junior Parent Rep and newsletter editor: service@copyteclegal.com
  • Jennifer Douglis - Junior Parent Rep: jdouglis@smfc.k12.ca.us
  • Tanya Rianda - Senior Parent Rep: tanya.rianda@gmail.com
  • Gurpreet Padam - Senior Parent Rep: gurpreetpadam@gmail.com

Please feel free to contact any of us if you have any questions, ideas or concerns. You can also submit articles, stories and/or photos to the editor of our Parent & Community BTI newsletter. We would love to feature what your amazing BTI student is up to!

go bti scots!

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