Life in Flight: What’s Possible After Athenian

Updated November 28, 2017

The core values of Athenian’s mission provide the foundation for 21st-century success: critical and analytical thinking, collaboration, teamwork, and creativity.  For proof of this, look no further than Keenan Wyrobek ’99.  During his Athenian experience, he built rockets, competed on the swim team, and embraced failure in projects and experiments as a learning opportunity. The skills Keenan built at Athenian served him well at Johns Hopkins and Stanford, and in developing the reading app Bam Boomerang and the Personal Robotics Program at Willow Garage.

In founding Zipline, Keenan combined his robotics expertise and a strong desire to help others. Recently featured on National Geographic’s Chasing Genius series and CNN, Zipline gets medical supplies to communities that are difficult to access. Keenan’s drone-operated delivery system sends urgent medical supplies to patients who can’t be reached otherwise. Health workers can order critical items like blood by text message from Zipline; within minutes, a drone takes off and medical products are delivered quickly and safely by parachute. Zipline, one of Keenan’s service-oriented tech startups, has raised nearly $50 million in funding for its innovative, humanitarian, life-saving projects and has delivered thousands of units of blood saving countless lives. Keenan tells us, “My Athenian education prepared me for what I do at Zipline. In my work at Zipline, I draw on the hands on the problem-solving experience, technical knowledge, and leadership skills I gained at Athenian every day.”

Keenan delivered a TEDMed2017 talk at the beginning of November sharing about his work providing blood and medical supplies to hard to reach populations and Zipline was a winner of the 2017 INDEX: Designs to Improve Life Award, which came with a €500,000 grant. One of the jury members, Ravi Naidoo, said Zipline “is a great systemic interplay of designers, governments and society bringing the best first-world technology to the poorest.” With a successful operation in place in Rwanda, Zipline will be establishing four distribution centers in Tanzania in 2018 and plans to continue expanding to countries across the world. Plans are in the works to begin delivering blood to remote areas of Maryland, Nevada, and Washington as well, serving as a pilot project for a global rollout redefining the delivery of emergency supplies.

Watch ZIPLINE – 2017 BODY WINNER from INDEX: Design to Improve Life® on Vimeo.

Gratitude and Meaningful Contributions

I am particularly grateful for our Athenian community this week. As our neighbors to the north battle unimaginable devastation, Athenians immediately jumped into action, creating supply drives, taking in the displaced, saving animals from shelters, and coordinating a school-wide response. When tragic events happen nearby, Athenian’s founding values of service and community hit home for all of us. I know that it takes a commitment to send your student to Athenian, and I am humbled by how easily and eagerly Athenians extend their commitment to our broader community.

As these events unfold around us, we must remain clear of vision and purpose. Our founder, Dyke Brown, started Athenian on the belief that “intellectual fitness in combination with moral virtue and concern for societal needs and civic responsibilities is the only way to truly educate our young.” I believe in the Athenian mission now more than ever. I see our students and alumni responding to crises in the world by wanting to help, and they know—even the 6th graders—that they can. We must continue to offer an Athenian education because we need young people who believe in goodness, who want to serve society, and who are committed to the well-being of humanity. Brown’s insight from sixty years ago remains true: “This is the kind of person our nation and the world needs, and this is the goal of The Athenian School.”

I am reminded of a poem Dick Bradford often reads in the fall, Nothing Gold Can Stay, by Robert Frost. Nothing that is beautiful can ever last, as is the devastating case in Napa and Sonoma. Loss is inevitable, and I want to teach our kids that the cycle of life and death reminds us how precious certain moments are, how much we have to be grateful for, and how each one of us can be a shining light in another’s time of darkness.

In the coming weeks, we will be reflecting with our students around many of these themes. We will encourage them to explore their feelings, to investigate life’s injustices, and to lend an able hand. We will leverage the resources of our School to offer aid where we can and to instill a sense of civic responsibility in the young people we educate.

Now, we simply want to ask you to think about what is meaningful in your life and where you can make contributions that support your values. I donate my time and money to humanitarian relief organizations, to support orphans in Uganda, and to Athenian, because I believe in those causes and I want to model for my children how just one family can make a difference. Please join me in reflecting on what is meaningful in your own life and where and how you and your family can make the world better than you found it.

Thank you for being a part of this community. Your children inspire me every day and I am grateful for the energy, joy, and love they add to the world.

With humble gratitude,

Eric F. Niles

Head of School

Round Square Service Trip 2017: Athenian Delegation Reports from India

by Mark Friedman, Director of Round Square and Community Service

Greetings from Pathways World School, located in a rural area south of Delhi.  It was a long journey here. Our three hours in the Amsterdam airport were an unexpected pleasure, though—we wandered through shops full of wooden shoes and tulips and ate our last fresh vegetables for two weeks. Landing at 3:00 AM, the Delhi airport was thronged with people. Thousands stood in long queues to enter the country. Every shop was open. Usually, I do one big currency exchange for everyone in the group because you get a better rate exchanging more money, but not in India.  Because of India’s demonetization policy, you can only exchange US$85 per passport.

I love the first taste of the air in a new place. Leaving the airport, we drank in the pungent and smoky air of Delhi. Arvinash, a stylishly-dressed history teacher from Pathways was waiting for us. Despite the fact that our flight from Amsterdam had been delayed, our group was unified in wanting to stick to the day’s schedule, which meant getting to breakfast by 9:00 AM after only a couple hours of sleep.  We are all staying on the Pathways campus, the girls in a dorm and me in the guest house.  The dorms here have a guard on duty 24/7, a woman in front of each girl’s dorm and a man in front of the boy’s.  As I said good night to the three Athenian students and the security guard at their dorm, the sounds of singing and chanting from a nearby temple filled the early morning air.

A few hours later, we arrived at the cafeteria.  The school’s 500+ boarders had finished long before. We surveyed the food, looking to see what we could eat to follow the rules of only eating foods that were “cooked, bottled or peeled.” Toast and cereal were our main breakfast fare.

We met three girls—Yukti, Maansi and Anya—who would be our hosts for the next four days.  They made a presentation about the school’s ongoing work supporting government schools in local villages and then we were off to a school 20 minutes away. The drive itself was fascinating. Women wearing bright colors with huge bundles of wood branches balanced on their heads.  Thin cows wandering and sitting alongside the road.  Hundreds of cow pies drying in the sun, to be burned later as fuel. The village school is located less than a mile from the city of Gurgaon in a village called Parla.  It seemed incongruous to be in rural India and have dozens of 20+ story apartment towers looming nearby. The school we were working at was founded in 1931 by the grandfather of the current service director at Pathways, Sunil.  What a treat to be there working with him! As we drove to the school, Sunil pointed out a plot of land that he said belonged to his family for “thousands of years.”

Our first day at the village school, we started painted murals.  It was Friday, but a school holiday. There were dozens of boys from the village there to play cricket and watch—or occasionally help—us. Not a single girl. One of the school’s art teachers was there, Druvswamini, and she helped sketch the original designs for the murals. The village only has electricity in the evening, so Pathways is putting in a solar system at the school as that is the only way to have electricity during the daytime—and without electricity there can be no computers at the school. Some of the equipment for the solar system arrived that day.

The full moon was that night. The village’s temple is across the street from the school. As the morning wore on, more local women arrived at the temple to drum, sing, and chant. Sunil and I went to visit and then brought the six girls over. The first time the girls sat with the women, but the second time our girls danced with the local women. Lord Shiva is the local god and the song that the women sang was about him.

Part of the temple structure was the old well for the village where the women all used to come for their water. Most of the local water is from the ground. The water table used to be 30 feet down but is now 200 feet, and dropping 10 feet each year.

We headed back to school for a late lunch. The students have physical education and sports every day and the Athenian girls chose to go horseback riding. Before dinner was a cultural event about slam poetry and spoken word. There were also a number of songs performed, all accompanied by guitar. Interestingly, it seemed like something that could have happened at Athenian. Indeed, Isabella performed a song with one of the Indian girls serving as our host. The three Pathways’ girls joined us for our post-dinner debrief.  We had an interesting conversation about how women are treated in Indian society.

The next day was Saturday and we headed back to the school at Parla. In addition to finishing the murals, we also helped install some new wash stations for the students. Good hygiene and washing before each meal is part of our strategy for staying healthy in India, but it’s also important and challenging for the locals.  Pathways supports many local schools with new wash stations. Pathways not only installs the hand washing stations at 17 local schools—in partnership with Rotary International who donated US$60,000 to the Pathways for this work—but the Pathways maintenance staff visits the local schools to do ongoing maintenance on the donated items.

After lunch, our group of six students and a few Pathways teachers headed off to go camping.  A short ten-minute ride from school, we came to an outdoor adventure facility.  We had fun going down the zip line and were challenged by things like a climbing wall and cargo net. While warm during the day, it does get cold at night. We ate dinner around a big fire. At 10:00 PM, the Athenian students retired to our tents, though the cold meant that most of us slept poorly.

We were up at 6:00 AM for trekking, or hiking.  A red sun rose over foggy fields.  Cow pies dried alongside the path. We scampered up two rocky outcroppings for views of the surrounding countryside. Then we headed off to the Surajkund International Crafts Mela. This featured over 1,000 booths with crafts from all over India and many other parts of the world. We were joined by several faculty families on this outing, which made it extra special. The crafts were amazing, if overwhelming in their profusion. Olivia attracted a lot of attention and many people wanted to have their picture taken with her.

On our last day at Pathways, we began with a visit to Prakashpuri Temple, which is set in a peaceful valley. We visited a meditation case in the nearby cliffs and were served chai. Then it was off to visit two government schools that Pathways supports. We wandered amongst classes high-fiving students and admiring their school work. Finally, we arrived back at the Parla School and finished the murals we had been painting.

Sunil, Pathways’ community service director, is the one teacher from the area.  He invited us to his home in the late afternoon.  We got to meet his wife, daughter and parents, tour his home, explore his village, and go on a 90-minute hike in the countryside. What a treat! Then his wife made homemade curry and poori.  The wheat is grown in the family’s fields and ground at his house. We were so well fed that we skipped dinner in the cafeteria.

The three Athenian girls and the three girls from Pathways have grown very close. It’s astounding to think that they didn’t know each other four days ago. When they’re together, it’s a riot of animated talking and laughter. We depart Pathways tomorrow for Old Delhi and the farewells will be sad. All three of the Pathways girls are interested in coming on exchange to Athenian, so one way or another I expect these relationships to continue.

That’s all for now! I’ll check back in with more in a couple of days.

Update from Germany: The Round Square International Conference

screen-shot-2016-10-13-at-4-07-21-pmGreetings from Louisenlund School and the 2016 Round Square International Conference. We arrived here on Monday afternoon after three train rides. The Athenian delegation is doing well, making many new friends, and enjoying their time at the conference. Here’re some of the highlights of our last few days.

On Saturday, we got a bus ride higher into the Schwarzwald (Black Forest) to Feldberg Mountain. It’s the highest mountain visible from Birklehof School. We caught a gondola to the top. On a clear day, you can see the Swiss and French alps from the top of Feldberg Mountain. Ours was a cloudy day, so no Mount Blanc, but it was still beautiful with great views—and a monument to Bismarck. screen-shot-2016-10-13-at-4-07-29-pm(The above photo is the group in front of this monument.)

We hiked down to and around gorgeous Feldsee Lake and had lunch at an inn that was just a few meters away. The lunch was another classic German meal, vesper. Vesper was traditionally a light meal, but we were served a huge spread with a dozen meats, a dozen cheeses, bread, fruit, sausage noodles and more. We were well fed for the eight-kilometer walk back to campus from there.

screen-shot-2016-10-13-at-4-07-34-pmBirklehof held its Halloween Dance that evening because the end of October is an exam time at the school. The drinking age for beer in Germany is 16, so the older students at Birklehof were able to buy and drink beer at the party. (No beer for the conference delegates!) This seemed especially odd because the dance was for high school and middle school students.

Sunday was the last day of the preconference. We mostly spent the day on campus doing things like archery, climbing, and playing volleyball and Black Forest hockey. It was a gray, rainy day. In the afternoon the raindrops started looking very big—and then turned into the first snow of the year. The leaves were still on the trees, flowers were still blooming, and the ground was covered with snow. The other conference delegates were from Australia and South Africa and some of them had never been in a snowstorm before.

screen-shot-2016-10-13-at-4-07-39-pmMonday was a travel day. We met in the darkness at 6:00 AM to walk nearly a mile to catch the train into Freiberg. We had 11 minutes in Freiburg to transfer to the train for Hamburg. After catching up on sleep on this six-hour train ride and eating some waffles from the food car, the train pulled into the Hamburg station. We weren’t standing at the train doors with our luggage. By the time some of us had gotten our big suitcases to the exit, the doors were locked and the train was rolling on down the tracks. As you might imagine, it was a bit of a shock to have half the group on the platform and half standing on the moving train. Gratefully, the next stop was just a few hundred meters away. Since we’d traveled around Hamburg on the public transit system, the Athenian students and I were able to easily navigate switching over to the adjacent subway train system and quickly rejoining the main group.

screen-shot-2016-10-13-at-4-07-46-pmArriving at the Round Square International Conference is usually a bit of a shock. There are dozens of groups of students from schools all over the world and it’s chaotic getting everyone registered and oriented. Louisenlund School is located right on a lake and a cold wind was blowing from the water.

In our first two days at the conference, there have been dance performances, icebreakers, small group discussions, and service projects. We’ve also had three excellent keynote speakers. Ben Saunders is a polar explorer. His most recent expedition was going on foot to the South Pole and back via Shackleton and Scott’s route. Everyone else who has tried this has failed or died. And, amazingly, he is a great speaker. We heard from Dr. Manfred Spitzer, who is an expert on brain research. This sounds kind of dull, but he had excellent slides and was really able to talk about the practical applications of recent brain research. To share just one of his points, he noted that loneliness is the deadliest disease. This evening, we heard from Souad Mekhennet, a German journalist who is Muslim and has worked for the New York Times and Washington Post. She shared some fascinating stories of her work and got some great questions in the audience on Islamophobia.

Probably the best thing that happens at the conference is the new friendships that are formed and the Athenian students are making some great connections. Tomorrow is the mid-point of the conference and so our return to California on Sunday is just days away.

Community Gratitude

Our students regularly go out into the community or engage by sending things abroad.  Occasionally, we hear back from the organizations we work with.  Here are a few messages from our community partners.

RHO Appleseed: 30 Hour Fast

THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU. We cannot fully express  how invaluable the support of the Athenian school community has been for RHO Appleseed and the students who attend. The food program has always been one of the most valuable things we do, but it has also been the hardest to maintain. We have been able to provide at least one meal a day to an average of 80 children per day for almost four years. This would NOT have been close to possible without the support of the students, families and staff of the Athenian school.

Joy and I were talking about how a thank you such as this is not adequate, and so we are planning a more community-based visual thank you. It is our goal to complete it during the holiday vacation. We will send it to you upon completion. (I just committed us Joy!).  Thank you so much for sticking with RHO Appleseed over the years. We are in the process of developing land for a second community center in a village about 30 km south of here. We are excited about that. Please express to your community how much your support has allowed us to continue operating and growing. We will be in touch.



White Kitty Foundation: Animal Care

I’ve wanted to contact you regarding your volunteers .

Where did you find such wonderful young people?  I constantly hear people complain about teenagers that are so privileged and spoiled.  These young men and women have been amazing.  They never complain about what we ask them to do, they’re always on time if not early and they have the most wonderful and caring personalities.  They treat our animals so well and respectful.  And they’re very respectful to us.

I wish I had more words to praise them.  Please tell their parents they are raising amazing children.  My future isn’t so bleak at all.

Thank you for everything.

Jewish Family and Community Services East Bay: Holiday Gift Drive

Greetings participants in our Holiday Giving Program 2015, with Jewish Family and Community Services East Bay!  For the 12th year in a row, families in need have again received beautiful gifts with your generosity and kindness….in all, 142 families!  Thank you, thank you!  

 JFCS East Bay provides social services to people in the community from all walks of life and religious backgrounds. Many of our client recipients this year were newly arrived refugees or immigrants from: Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Africa, and Latin America. All recipients receive confidential social services from our staff professionals. You helped to make it a nice holiday season for them!  

We have been resettling refugees from many parts of the world for decades.  We know that many in the community have wanted to help and learn more about what we do.  For that reason, I am attaching our flyer, How You Can Help Newly Arriving Refugees, just in case you want to help out more.  One way to ensure assistance to refugees we serve is to donate to our Refugees Welcome Fund.  This has been set up to directly assist refugees with housing issues, training programs and other essential needs.  You can donate to that fund by clicking here:
Thanks to all and best wishes for a healthy and happy new year, 


The Food on Your Plate: The History, Culture, and Making of Food

by Sanjev de Silva and the Food on Your Plate classes

Greetings Athenian Community, 

You may have noticed some new faces serving meals in the kitchen a few times over the past couple of weeks: the members of the Food On Your Plate seminars. One of the activities that we as a class have been assigned to partake in is to further understand the effort that goes into preparing a meal for a large group of people and in the process we have been serving our very own Athenian community. A few of the dishes that we have prepared included:  chicken gyros and falafel, cheese pizza, fried rice, enchiladas, lasagna and more. On Tuesday, April 19th, the B Period Food On Your Plate class prepared the enchiladas, and we are sharing with you all to describe what went into the preparation of the meal you received and also provide a bit of history about the dish. After learning about the enchiladas, you will hear  from the students in the other Food On Your Plate classes that cooked the pizza, fried rice and lasagna.

You may be surprised to find that there is a lot more that goes into the preparation and background of these meals than you may think! Enjoy! 


enchiladasEnchiladas originated in Mexico. The practice of rolling tortillas with cheese, tomato, and other ingredients has been dated back to Mayan times. The first reference and recipe to the modern enchilada is dated back to 1885. The enchiladas prepared in the United States is different than the traditional enchiladas found in Mexico today. Although they are often eaten in California, the type we eat here at Athenian is different than the type eaten in Mexico. In Mexico, the spice is more prominent in the enchilada and is most commonly a maize tortilla stuffed with meat and covered with tomato and chili sauce. The spicy tradition of the current Mexican enchilada is related to the fact that the meaning of the word enchilada in Spanish is literally “to have seasoned with chili.” The enchiladas that you ate last week had ingredients that had to travel a total of 7,236 miles to reach you.

Ingredients Used

Cheese: (3,027 miles): Vermont

As most people know, cheese is a dairy product, meaning that it’s made from milk. What most people don’t know is that it’s one of the oldest dairy products ever made by humans with a history dating back 4000 years. It’s generally believed that cheese was first discovered by people who carried their supply of milk inside sheep stomach pouches and discovered that the bacteria inside the stomach would ferment the milk causing it to solidify into cheese. Cheeses made their way from Asia to the Roman Empire to the rest of Europe and finally to America aboard the mayflower. Cheese is still a huge part of our culture today, although as it has become increasingly processed, it has turned into a huge industry that profits over 2 billion dollars annually. In America, about a third of the milk produced is turned into cheese each day!

Tortilla: (3,946 miles): Mexico

The Spanish conquistadors named the tortilla. It was a flatbread that the Aztecs had eaten for centuries. They have been made since 10,000 BCE and are one of the main foods of the Aztecs. The Aztecs used corn to create tortillas and they cooked them on large stone slabs.  Today, tortillas are commonly used for burritos, enchiladas, and many other dishes. They have expanded out of Spanish cuisine to be used in food worldwide, including here in California.

enchiladasGreen Pepper: (44 miles): California

Columbus brought peppers from South America to Europe. They were cultivated in Europe. They come in many different colors, such as green, red, and yellow.  In the United States, California produces the most bell peppers while the largest country that produces bell peppers is China.  Today, they are used in a variety of dishes.  They are a large source of vitamin C and vitamin A, making them a staple in vegetarian diets.  Also, they have a lot of fiber and promote blood circulation.

Tomato: (219 miles): California

The tomato is native to the Americas, with origins tracing back to 700 AD (when it was first used by the Aztecs).  The first widespread cultivation of tomatoes began in modern day Peru. During the 16th century, the Spanish conquistadors brought the tomato to their colonies in the Caribbean, and then to the Philippines. From the Philippines, the tomato was spread throughout the entire continent of Asia and was soon considered an important crop. Eventually, the tomato made its way to Europe, where its shiny red exterior led to rumors of it being poisonous.  It was later adopted by the Europeans and was soon brought back to the United States when the colonies were formed. Tomatoes are now utilized in cooking in most cultures globally.

Making Enchiladas in the Athenian Kitchen

Step One: Safety: Just like any time you work with food in a professional setting, we had to follow certain health and safety standards. That meant hair tied back with a hairnet, plastic gloves, and no flip flops or sandals.

Step Two: The tortilla: every enchilada that we made had to first start as just a meager tortilla. Although we didn’t make the tortillas, we had to heat them up a bit on the stove at first so that they could easily be rolled into enchiladas.

Step Three: The filling: The filling of each enchilada is pretty basic. Just a bunch of cheese and some peppers. We had this mix in a giant bowl and we would put a little bit of it inside each tortilla. Then we would roll the enchilada up and put it in the pan. Each pan had to fit 30 enchiladas for serving purposes. Reaching this exact number was one of the most difficult parts of the job.

Step Four: Waiting: The enchiladas are prepared a day before we actually eat them so they sat overnight until they were ready for the final steps the next day.

Step Five: Sauce: A creamy tomato sauce is added to the enchiladas right before cooking them.

Step Six: Cooking: The enchiladas are cooked right before its time for lunch so that they’re still warm by the time everyone eats them.

Step Seven: Eat and Enjoy!


Paula Jurado ‘16, Matt Ota ‘17, Lilly Huang ‘17, Maya Duggal ‘17, Alyssa Tlera ‘16, and Kaylie Wang ‘16 

Hope you enjoyed!

D Period Food on Your Plate Class

What are the Historic elements of the dish?

The first lasagna dish itself originated in Ancient Greece with the individual pasta sheets originally called “lagnon” around 146 BC.  From there, the “Lagnon” pasta travelled to Italy, where it began to be layered to form the traditional lasagna dish we know today. In Italy, the name Lasagne was given to the individual pasta sheets in a lasagna dish.  The traditional Italian way of making lasagna, historically, has included alternating layers of ragu sauce, parmesan cheese, eggs and lasagna pasta sheets. However, after lasagna was spread outside this region, the dish began to incorporate ricotta, mozzarella cheese, tomato sauce, meat, spinach, garlic, and onions. These ingredients are used in the lasagna we made today.  

What is the Regional Context?

This is the way lasagna is traditionally prepared today, as well.  Authentic recipes contain Italian sausage, ground beef, eggs, minced onion, and tomatoes.  At Athenian, however, due to the particularity of the regulations, our lasagna is generally a cheese lasagna. It contains alternating layers of tomato sauce, lasagna pasta sheets, ricotta and shredded cheese.

What is the Conduit?

Conduit: process of each ingredient & preparation

Tomato sauce: tomatoes are washed, peeled, and then condensed in the canning process

Pasta squares: A ball of dough is kneaded then passed through a pasta machine which stretches and thins the pasta into the sheets used in lasagna                             

Eggs: Taken from mother hens

Ricotta:  Leftover whey from cheese making is fermented for several days and then cooked until the residual protein solidifies into cheese

Parmesan: Part skim milk is combined with rennet to curdle and is then strained and placed into molds where it ages for, on average, 2 years.

Garlic powderPeeled garlic cloves are placed in high heat ovens to roast and then transferred to dehydrators where moisture content is reduced to 6.5%. After dehydration, the garlic is then pulverized into powder through a food processor.

Where do the ingredients come from?

Tomato sauce: Arezzio /Houston, Texas (1,766 miles)

Pasta squares: Arezzio / Houston, Texas(1,766 miles)

Parmesan: Arezzio / Houston, Texas (1,766 miles)

Mozzarella: Morgan Hill, California (61.4 miles)

Ricotta: Arezzio  / Houston, Texas (1,766 miles)

Italian seasoning: Arezzio  / Houston, Texas (1,766 miles)

Eggs: Glaum Egg Ranch / Aptos, California (85.5 miles)

Garlic: Gilroy, California (68.6 miles)

Oregano: Arezzio  / Houston, Texas (1,766 miles) 


pizzaWe hope you find this debrief interesting and thank you all for supporting us through this process!

Redden Alexander Ludwig Thompson, Matthew Ian Chabala, Peony Bethny Ho, and Sofia Luisa Kavanaugh

To start, here is a little bit of the history of pizza. The original forms of pizza were made in mud ovens by The Greeks, Egyptians, Armenians, and Babylonians. At first, these flatbreads were only topped with olive oil and spices, now known as focaccia. Working people and their families ate it because it was quick and easy to make.

When tomatoes were brought over to Europe in the Colombian Exchange, they were originally thought to be poisonous, but they eventually became a part of the poorer people’s diets. These workers made flatbreads with whatever ingredients they had- generally, they were limited to flour, olive oil, cheese, and herbs for cooking their meals, and thus came the invention of pizza. 

Eventually, cook Raffaele Esposito decided to use tomatoes in the making of pizza because he thought it would be aesthetically pleasing to include the colors of the Italian flag- the white was the cheese, the red was the tomatoes, and the green was the basil on top.  He was called to make this for Queen Margherita, hence the name of Margherita pizza. 

Now for a little bit of Regional Context:

Athenian has made it a mission to use locally sourced, organic ingredients in order to promote sustainability and a healthy lifestyle for all who enjoy the food. Using healthy foods, Athenian Dining by Sodexo provides a solid diet that checks the main nutritional boxes. Sodexo prides itself in ensuring that all of its food processes are clean, safe, and benefit the overall satisfaction of Athenian lunch-eaters. Sodexo provides food service for many school and universities all over the nation.

The pizza’s main ingredients are whole wheat dough (for the crust), canned tomato sauce, parmesan and mozzarella cheese.

pizza2The average miles from where the ingredients were grown to Athenian are:

1.     Whole wheat dough

  • Average distance: 880 miles
  • Supplier: Mostly from Italy

2.     Canned tomato sauce

  • Average distance: 8,344 miles
  • Supplier: Mostly from Italy

3.     Parmesan cheese

  • Average distance: 1,759 miles
  • Supplier:: Mostly from Italy

4.     Mozzarella

  • Average distance: 1,604 miles
  • Supplier: Mostly from Italy


And lastly, how we prepared the pizza at Athenian:

1.     Step 1, while wearing gloves and hairnets, we applied two circular pieces of whole wheat dough to a tray sprayed with olive oil a day before preparation and left in the refrigerator to thaw.

2.     The next day, we spread the dough evenly along the steel bake pan so that all dough reached all corners.

3.     Next, we spread tomato sauce throughout the dough, making sure that we don’t get any sauce close to the corners (this burns the sauce and makes it harder to clean later on).

4.     We sprinkled parmesan cheese on top of the sauce for flavor.

5.     Lastly, we heavily applied mozzarella cheese to the top of the pizza before placing the pizza in the oven. 

fried rice 


Asian Women’s Shelter

Located in San Fransisco, CA.

The Asian Women’s Shelter mission is to eliminate domestic violence by promoting the social, economic and political self-determination of women.  Volunteers help by working directly with women and children at the shelter, helping to plan outings and activities, and providing childcare and tutoring.

Girls Inc. of Alameda County

Located in Oakland, CA.

The mission of Girls Inc. is to inspire all girls to be strong, smart and bold.  They offer a wide variety of programs for girls with many different volunteer opportunities.

International Museum of Women

Located in San Fransisco, CA.

The International Museum of Women is a world-class cultural and educational institution proposed for San Francisco. It will be the only international museum exclusively dedicated to chronicling and honoring the lives of women worldwide.

Planned Parenthood Shasta Diablo

Margaret Sanger founded Planned Parenthood more than 80 years ago when she was working as a nurse and a midwife in New York City. She was moved by the number of young girls who already had several children. Although it was illegal at that time, Ms. Sanger began the movement to bring contraception to the United States. Planned Parenthood works to reduce unintended pregnancies with the goal that every child is a wanted child and reaches to inform and educate on sexual health.

Shepherd Gate

Located in Brentwood and Livermore, CA.

Shepherd’s Gate is a place where homeless and battered women and children are given clean clothing, a bed, hot meals, and support services. It is the first step in creating a stable lifestyle, especially for children, many of whom have been exposed to drugs, violence, and appalling living conditions

STAND! Against Domestic Violence

Located in Concord, CA.

STAND! Against Domestic Violence is the catalyst for change that helps to break generational cycles of violence that many are forced to endure, and rebuild lives.  STAND! is a non-profit committed to ending domestic violence through the provision of prevention and intervention services, primarily in Contra Costa County. You must be 16 years old or older to volunteer.

The Body Positive

Located in San Rafael, CA.

The Body Positive teaches young people to creatively transform and improve their relationships to food and body image.  Come for a day of video box stuffing. This organization is always in need of volunteers shipping their videos.

Wardrobe for Opportunity

Located in Oakland, CA.

Wardrobe for Opportunity first opened its doors in 1996 and has been serving economically disadvantaged women, seeking employment in Contra Costa and Alameda County. The organization provides vital and often overlooked services; furnishing suitable business attire for both interview processes and support for career advancements. Student volunteers are needed to help sort clothing.

Women’s Cancer Research Center 

Located in Oakland, CA.

Not long ago, agencies focused on the needs of women with cancer did not exist. While an extensive social service network for persons with AIDS developed during the 1980s, there were no parallel services for the over 50,000 women with cancer.  In 1986 all of this changed.  A small group of women with cancer created the Women’s Cancer Resource Center to provide direct services to women with cancer, as well advocate for broad changes in the health care system. The minimum age to volunteer is 16.

Housing and Shelters

Building Opportunities for Self-Sufficiency – BOSS

Located in Berkeley, CA.

BOSS is an organization dedicated to ending poverty and homelessness in our community. BOSS devotes it’s time to economic development, community building, supplying housing and support services to those in need. BOSS helps to provide residency, employment, training and advocacy services for homeless and indigent people in the greater East Bay.

Rebuilding Together

Located in Oakland, San Francisco, San Jose and Berkeley, CA.

Rebuilding Together is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of low-income, elderly, and/or disabled people. They strive to create warm and safe living spaces, as well as to provide volunteer opportunities such as repairs and renovation of owner-occupied and non-profit facilities. The minimum age to volunteer is 14.

Shelter Inc. of Contra Costa County

Located in Concord, CA.

Shelter’s mission is to help the homeless of Contra Costa to obtain economic self-sufficiency, sustain permanent housing and regain human dignity. You can help out at their homeless shelters or by conducting food and toiletry drives, volunteering with Shelter to work on home improvement projects, or chaperone children at various children’s events Shelter creates. The minimum age to volunteer is 15.

Shepherd Gate

Located in Livermore and Brentwood, CA.

Shepherd’s gate is a place where homeless and battered women and children can come to regroup. They are given clean clothing, a bed, hot meals and support services. It is the first step in creating a stable lifestyle for their children, many of whom have been exposed to drugs, violence and appalling living conditions. Volunteer opportunities include: event planning and support, marketing, programs such as childcare and classes, and environmental work.

Food and Hunger

Alameda County Community Food Bank

Located in Alameda, CA.

Join the Alameda County Community Food Bank in breaking the cycle of hunger and poverty! They need help sorting, stocking and bagging food at the warehouse.

Dorothy Day House Catholic Worker

Located in Berkeley, CA.

The Dorothy Day House of Berkeley is a non-denominational community of volunteers who are dedicated to feeding the hungry and providing hospitality to the poor. Breakfast is served seven days a week in the Men’s Shelter at the Berkeley Veterans Building, and six days a week (excluding Sunday) at Trinity Church (2362 Bancroft Way at Dana) to those in need. Dorothy Day House also coordinates dinners for the Men’s Shelter every evening. Volunteers that help serve meals must be at least 15.

Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano

Located in Concord, Bay Point, Pittsburg, Vallejo and Antioch, CA.

At the Food Bank of Contra Costa’s warehouse, volunteers help sort and stock food. The Food Bank’s mission is to reduce food waste and feed those unable to provide meals themselves. The Banks also aims to raise public awareness about poverty and hunger.  This agency helps about 83,000 people per month. The minimum age to volunteer without an adult is 16.

Food Not Bombs

Located in Berkeley, CA.

Food not Bombs provides free vegetarian healthy food to anyone who is hungry and works for peace and justice. non-violence and vegetarianism.  They cook and serve meals six days a week. The minimum age to help is 15.


Located in San Francisco, CA.

The largest of Glide’s programs, the Free Meals Program serves three nutritious meals a day to the city’s poor and homeless every day of the year. What began in 1969 as a Monday night potluck for 50 people now requires the talents of 27 staff members who come primarily from the ranks of the poor, homeless, formerly incarcerated and those with successful recovery from substances and addictions. The minimum age to volunteer is 12.

Meals on Wheels

Located in San Francisco, CA.

Meals on Wheels’ mission is to prepare and deliver nutritious meals necessary to prevent the inappropriate or premature institutionalization of elderly homebound residents in San Fransisco. Help is needed to serve meals to seniors during weekday lunches, to make greeting cards for the homebound and to participate in individualized projects.  Summer internships for high school students are also available. The minimum age to volunteer is 14.

Open Heart Kitchen

Located in Livermore, CA.

Founded in 1995 as an interfaith effort, Open Heart Kitchen’s Mission is to provide nutritious hot meals without charge or qualification to people in need in the Tri-Valley area. The organization is currently the only free hot meal kitchen in the area. Teen volunteers prepare box lunches two Thursdays a month in Pleasanton. The minimum age to volunteer is 10.

Project Open Hand

Located in Alameda and San Francisco, CA.

Project Open Hand provides food and nourishment to improve the quality of life of men, women, and children living with symptomatic AIDS & HIV, along with the critically ill and the elderly. Minimum age to volunteer is 15.

Salvation Army

Located in Hayward, Antioch, Oakland, Alameda, and San Francisco, CA.

The Salvation Army is a Christian fellowship dedicated to helping underprivileged low-income citizens, including: those who work, have lost jobs, have mental and physical limitations, the elderly, those who are retired and the homeless. The organization is in need of help with their food pantry. The minimum age to volunteer is 15.

St. Anthony Foundation

Located in San Francisco, CA.

Founded in 1950, the St. Anthony Foundation is a nonprofit social service agency located in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood.  Inspired by the Franciscan tradition of joy, compassion & solidarity with those who are poor, the Foundation welcomes clients & guests, volunteers and interns, donors, and all who hunger and thirst for justice and peace to share in it’s mission, being: to feed, heal, shelter, clothe, lift the spirits of those in need and create a society in which all persons flourish. The minimum age to volunteer is 13.


Earth Island Institute

Located in Berkeley, CA.

Earth Island Institute was founded in 1982 as a nonprofit organization to develop innovative projects for the conservation, preservation, and restoration of the global environment.  Visit their web site to learn about their various projects.

Earth Team

Located in Richmond, CA.

Earth Team is a free Bay Area environmental education action and resource network for teens, teachers and youth group leaders.  They provide access to hands-on service opportunities gatherings, resources, and tools. They have monthly environmental restoration projects and a group of teen leaders.

East Bay Regional Park District

Located in Oakland, CA.

The East Bay Regional Parks district seeks to preserve wetlands and open areas for environmental preservation and low impact use. The park district operates 59 parks and more than 1,100 miles of trails in its two-county jurisdiction. East Bay Regional Park also offers frequent shoreline cleanups for small or large groups.

Forest Home Farm

Located in San Ramon, CA.

Home Farms is a 16-acre farm bequeathed to the City of San Ramon. The property has two houses, fourteen outbuildings and two pergolas.  Students can help at their Saturday work days, special events, and fall and spring cleanup days.

Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy

Located in Marin, San Mateo, and San Francisco, CA.

The Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy has a wide variety of opportunities working in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Examples of projects include working at a native plant nursery, doing habitat restoration at ocean side and creek sites, and working at Crissy Field.

Greenbelt Alliance

Doing service all around the Bay Area.

Their mission is to make the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area a better place to live by protecting the region’s Greenbelt and improving the livability of its cities and towns.

Mount Diablo State Park

Located in Danville, CA.

Mount Diablo State Park works to keep the mountain accessible to all people. Volunteers will do trail work and park maintenance. The minimum age is 15.

People’s Grocery

Located in Oakland, CA.

People’s Grocery is a community-based organization working to find creative solutions to the food needs of the residents of West Oakland. Their mission is to uphold the human right to healthy and affordable food and to build community self-reliance by increasing neighborhood access to locally-produced fruits and vegetables and by promoting social enterprise youth entrepreneurship, sustainable agriculture and grassroots organizing

Save the Bay

Located in Oakland and San Francisco, CA.

Save The Bay seeks to preserve, restore and protect the San Francisco Bay and Sacramento/San Joaquin Delta Estuary as a healthy and biologically diverse ecosystem essential to the well-being of the human and natural communities it sustains. Save the Bay has a variety of wetlands restoration projects, a native plant nursery and other projects that students can help with.

Slide Ranch

Located in Muir Beach, CA.

Every bite of food connects us with the soil, sun, water and air and to the people who work to feed us.  Slide Ranch teachers respect and responsibility for sustaining these connections.  Help is needed working as a teaching docent for family weekend programs, garden assistants  ranch hands, and administrative assistants.