West Seattle, Washington
Two crime-prevention meetings ahead that you might want to check out:
DENNY, SEALTH PRINCIPALS @ CRIME PREVENTION COUNCIL: The special guests have been announced for Tuesday’s West Seattle Crime Prevention Council meeting:
We will have Chief Sealth International High School principal Aida Fraser-Hammer and Denny International Middle School principal Jeff Clark; they will discuss safety and security in their schools and the surrounding area. We will also discuss if having a combined campus has presented any unique safety problems.
Fears of such problems were amply voiced six years ago, before the new Denny was built adjacent to a renovated Sealth; the new school year is the third one of full co-location. The WSCPC meeting is at 7 pm Tuesday (September 17th), Southwest Precinct (Delridge/Webster).
FAUNTLEROY COMMUNITY SAFETY: The Fauntleroy Community Association found out via its recent community survey that crime prevention/safety is a topic of intense interest in their area, so FCA is hosting a special forum on Thursday, September 26th. It’s at The Hall at Fauntleroy in the historic schoolhouse, and will start with an ice-cream social at 6:30, meeting at 7, including presentations by Southwest Precinct police, and community Q/A.
Our video features the Denny International Middle School Jazz Band, the first of three student groups directed by Marcus Pimpleton that performed Saturday night for the Big Band Dinner Dance; the two others were from adjacent Chief Sealth International High School – here’s the Jazz 1 group:
Last night’s benefit combined what had been the Denny Jazz Dinner and the Sealth Big Band Dinner Dance, in this first year of the two schools sharing a campus (they had already been sharing a “pathway“). The above photo and the next one are courtesy of Denny principal Jeff Clark, who also shared these words:
Congratulations to Denny and Sealth Jazz musicians on an outstanding night of music. The dance floor has filled as guests are dancing to the sweet sound of jazz. Thank you to our amazing volunteers, families, and staff for making this event possible. A special thank to the West Seattle Big Band for joining us!
The WSBB has long supported student music programs.
So far in the two years that Chief Sealth International High School has observed World Water Week with special events, it’s become a tradition – Friday sunshine! On the track at Southwest Athletic Complex across the street, where students walked with heavy containers of water on WWW Friday last year, today the task was a Food Walk, visiting various student-created stations to learn about food and water issues from around the world.
Special activities were the order of the day for all Sealth students, including a multitude of indoor activities (such as workshops with guest speakers), and also gardening outside adjoining Denny International Middle School:
The garden’s namesake was a Denny principal who died 20 years ago during the school year and had a garden named after her at the school’s old site – now, there’s one at the new site.
A KING 5 crew was there to help document the action:
We promised to come back later this spring to see the garden after it’s planted and growing!
(Photo by Bruno Cross)
West Seattle had a big presence in the downtown St. Patrick’s Day Parade on Saturday. Denny International Middle School principal Jeff Clark forwarded the photo and reports:
I am pleased to share that the Denny International Middle School marching band did a terrific job marching in the St. Patrick’s Day parade on Saturday. The crowd was very enthusiastic and supportive of our kids—it was great and we are proud of them!
Adjoining Chief Sealth International High School‘s band participated too, and can be seen in two photos in the Seattle Times (WSB partner) photo gallery, which features one more West Seattleite – Seafair Clown “Officer Lumpy,” aka Chris Henggeler.
(Photo by Bruno Cross)
“Magical” is the word Chief Sealth International High School principal Chris Kinsey used to describe tonight’s concert, with 350 band musicians from his school and adjacent Denny International Middle School, whose principal Jeff Clark shared the quote, and the enthusiasm. Above, the Denny Senior Band, directed by Marcus Pimpleton (whose Golden Apple Award-acceptance ceremony was broadcast on KCTS 9 tonight, while he was directing his Denny and Sealth musicians in concert).
ADDED FRIDAY MORNING: Here’s senior John Aguilar directing Sealth bandmates:
And the Denny beginning/intermediate musicians:
P.S. Some of the Sealth musicians have a big gig Saturday night – playing at the annual auction presented by the CSIHS PTSA.
Last week, we brought you the story of the now-completed work at the former Denny International Middle School site in Westwood, with a focus on how it incorporates some of the features neighbors fought for, during the design process more than three years ago. Tonight, we have an aerial view of the results, courtesy of Seattle Public Schools (click the image for a larger view), photographed just last Friday.
As noted in our story – read it here, if you didn’t see it when we published it – the only part of the site that’s still fenced off is the big unmarked field where the main Denny building was, before last summer’s demolition work. While some nearby nicknamed the site “Denny Park,” it is school-district property, and considered to be an expansion of the nearby Southwest Athletic Complex, though Seattle Parks is helping with some of the scheduling. Technically, it is the third and final phase of the Denny/Sealth co-location work (coverage archive here), funded by the 2007 BEX III levy, with tennis courts and a softball field replacing the ones torn out on the Sealth/Denny campus nearby. Since this site may house a new elementary school under consideration for the BEX IV levy, project managers say there is nothing on the site that would have to be torn out for that potential project.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
If you harbor that festering suspicion that citizen involvement can’t make a difference – here’s the latest case in which it did: The new park-that’s-not-technically-a-park on Denny International Middle School‘s former site.
Three-plus years ago, when the district invited neighbors to help shape the site plan – as long as a few requirements (especially tennis courts and softball field to replace the ones lost on the new Sealth/Denny site to the northeast) were met – Westwood community leaders didn’t just show up for meetings, they roughed out their own vision (above) and fought for it in the process:
(WSB photo from January 12, 2009)
Now, except for a finishing touch here and there, the site work is complete, and you’re welcome to use the area. Though the final layout of what ultimately became a $6 million project is different (here’s what was presented in February 2009), several elements on which they insisted have become reality – particularly pathways through the site:
Play equipment has now arrived at the site of the now-demolished former Denny Middle School, as construction of a Seattle Public Schools-owned park/recreation site continues. The district has said it will have no formal name – it’ll be maintained as an extension of nearby Southwest Athletic Complex – but nearby resident Alice Kuder has dubbed it Denny Park, and has been taking photos of the progress, including the ones shared in this report. The site where the main school building stood has been seeded with grass, and some of the new trees detailed in the plan are there too (along with a few of the old ones that have been saved):
If you want to see the site plan, take a look at this June WSB report from a community meeting previewing the project. If you drive along SW Thistle, you can also see the blacktop now in place for tennis courts, and the softball field beyond. The informal field on the ex-school building site may be used for construction of a new elementary school years down the line, the district has said, but there are no official plans so far.
We stopped by Denny International Middle School to see how the open house (till noon) was going, and met four members of Denny’s City Year team in the weight room – above, Stephanie, Ruchira, Megan, and Mary. Outside, we found Denny’s award-winning principal Jeff Clark, talking with School Board rep Steve Sundquist:
Also visiting this morning: Sundquist’s predecessor as West Seattle’s school-board rep, Irene Stewart, with husband Bruce Butterfield (president of the Fauntleroy Community Association):
If you’ve missed earlier coverage, the third phase of the project that built the new Denny and renovated adjacent Chief Sealth International High School is happening a few blocks away on the site of the old Denny, which was demolished, so the site could be transformed into fields and tennis courts.
Right after the ribbon was cut and the doors were opened, a work crew was still handling details on a very important wallhanging inside the new Denny International Middle School – a banner with the slogan, “Expect the best.”
That’s what was on display during what Denny principal Jeff Clark called “a thrilling day” – including his best suit, renowned for its shade of bright blue:
The weather couldn’t have been better – the sun shone bright as Denny/Sealth construction-project manager Robert Evans got help from two students to raise the flags:
(Photo by MIKE SIEGEL/The Seattle Times, used with permission)
Also worth of “best” status – the national-anthem performance by Janelle Maroney:
Janelle is both a Denny alum and Chief Sealth International High School student – perfect symbolism for the fact the two schools are now the first middle/high-school combo in Seattle Public Schools to share a campus. It hasn’t been a universally popular idea along the way; School Board president Steve Sundquist acknowledged the “robust discussion” dating back four-plus years (such as this meeting we covered in June 2007), to the passage of the levy that raised the money for the project.
But it moved ahead, and the new 130,000-square-foot school now prepares to welcome students on Wednesday. With so many involved along the way, the list of those who helped cut the ribbon was long – here are all the sets of scissors set out for them:
Sheree Fantz-Gut from the Denny PTSA and Nadene Paltep, student-body president, led the “call to the ribbon” – summoning the participants – and then, everyone counted down, to the strategic snips:
As the school has been readied for opening this summer (here’s our story on an August tour), the old Denny has been demolished a few blocks away (after one last sentimental journey), and the site has been cleared, to make way for fields, tennis courts, play equipment, and maybe someday an elementary school. But the history embodied by the school’s name remains – and the celebration included Andy Harris, a descendant of the school’s namesake, pioneering Seattle settler David Thomas Denny:
(Denny’s life is detailed here – including reasons for renown beyond being a settler; he even helped Washington women win the right to vote.) After that bow to the past, it was time to look ahead. After going through the co-location-planning process with Sealth’s now-former principal John Boyd, Denny principal Clark has a new partner, Sealth’s interim principal Chris Kinsey, and they’re about to make Seattle Public Schools history:
Give them a few weeks to settle into it, then check out the campus for yourself during Denny’s community open house at 10 am on Saturday, September 24th.
At the Denny International Middle School dedication (more coverage to come), we caught up with the new interim principal of Chief Sealth International High School next door, Chris Kinsey. It’s been only a month since he was announced as successor to longtime Sealth principal John Boyd, who is now working as an executive director in Highline Public Schools to the south. Kinsey’s work is cut out for him: He tells WSB that as of today, Chief Sealth is expecting 1,286 students tomorrow, up more than 200 from the start of last year, and the 9th-grade wait list, second longest in the district, is at 87, close to where it’s been all summer. He hopes to shake the hand of each and every one of them as they arrive at school tomorrow morning, and then, he says, he and his administrative team plan to visit each and every classroom before the week is over. P.S. Sealth community members are invited to hear more from the new principal at the first PTSA meeting of the year, 7 pm September 27.
(WSB photo from August media tour of new Denny)
On Wednesday, when Denny International Middle School sixth-graders get the school to themselves as per tradition, they will be the first to officially attend the brand-new Denny, adjacent to the remodeled Chief Sealth International High School. But first: As was the case for Sealth on back-to-school-day-eve last year, Denny gets the spotlight at a ribbon-cutting ceremony tomorrow. Seattle Public Schools‘ interim superintendent Dr. Susan Enfield will be there, as will of course Denny’s proud principal Jeff Clark, and other dignitaries, including West Seattle’s school-board rep (and its president) Steve Sundquist. If you’re planning on being there too, note that Denny’s entrance is on the north side of the campus (2601 SW Kenyon), while Sealth’s entrance remains on the south side. A formal community open house/tour event is set for 10 am Saturday, September 24th.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
By the time Chris Kinsey had a few minutes to talk with WSB about his new job as Chief Sealth International High School‘s interim principal, he was in the eighth straight hectic hour since the announcement was made this morning.
He’s already started meeting with the people he’ll need to work most closely with. Just before our early-evening conversation, in fact, Kinsey said, he had just been in a late-afternoon meeting with Jeff Clark, principal of Denny International Middle School, which is weeks away from its first year sharing a campus with Chief Sealth. Kinsey says he’s known Clark for “a few years now,” since he has some background in Seattle Public Schools‘ middle-school system.
For the past three years, he’s been an assistant principal at Cleveland High School – also a school that’s been operating in a new, unconventional format. It’s focused on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM). The STEM launch is the accomplishment of which Kinsey is proudest, so far:
The new Denny International Middle School is ready to go, proclaims principal Jeff Clark, just a month after presiding over the move out of the old one (where building demolition is entering its final phase). Along with project manager Robert Evans from DKA, which has overseen the entire Denny-building/Chief Sealth-renovating process, he led us on a long-awaited tour last Friday morning. Outside, banners welcome visitors (and students/staff) in multiple languages:
What’s new INSIDE – and more of what’s new outside – ahead, with 20 more photos:
With all the coverage of the demolition at the old Denny International Middle School site, it’s gone almost unnoticed that the new Denny, adjoining Chief Sealth International High School, is almost done. Tomorrow, we get a sneak peek inside the new Denny – so last night, we stopped by for a few exterior photos, including the basketball court and playfield:
The new Denny faces SW Kenyon, and its parking/bus dropoff-pickup entrances are separate from Sealth. You can find out more about the project here, and we’ll have many more details after tomorrow’s interior tour.
(Video substituted at 1:04 pm for original photo)
Thanks to tipster David for sharing word that the 55-foot-tall chimney (or smokestack, if you prefer) at the old Denny International Middle School was about to come down. We’ve been staked out all morning waiting for the work to start, and just after 11, it finally did. It’s not an implosion, and you’re not going to see any huge section come tumbling down all at once if you come out – a giant piece of equipment is chewing away at the stack, a few bricks at a time. But it’s a spectacle for the rest of the crew, which had paused for lunch by the time this got under way after an equipment hitch:
The new Denny, adjacent to nearby Chief Sealth International High School, officially opens in September; the old school site will hold a softball field, tennis court, an open playfield, and some park-type features like play equipment, once the construction following the destruction is complete this fall. BNBuilders is the general contractor. This is the third phase of the Sealth/Denny project funded by Seattle Public Schools’ BEX III bond measure.
3:52 PM UPDATE: We checked back just after 3 – and the chimney/stack was already completely taken down; just a pile of bricks remains:
Out front, along 30th SW, workers were dismantling some of the main school building’s big front windows; if you want to get a last look at the old school before it’s completely gone, you don’t have much time!
Thanks to Diane Nielsen for sharing photos from the ongoing demolition of the former Denny International Middle School, which, as she put it, is “rapidly disappearing.” Crews have now been tearing down its buildings since Wednesday of last week, according to River Steenson from contractor BNBuilders. Diane says she and her 3-year-old son “go out every evening to look at the latest destruction. He loves seeing the diggers too. Anyway, we see many cars and people passing by just to take a look, so I thought people might like to see it in the blog.” She included the next photo, wondering about the “strange fan-inflated bags poking out several of the windows of the part of the school that is still standing.”
(Our guess is, those are related to the asbestos-etc. abatement, but we’ll ask.) Once demolition is complete, the site will be turned into what Seattle Public Schools will treat as basically an extension of the nearby Southwest Athletic Complex (which it also owns), with a softball field and six tennis courts, to replace the ones removed for construction of the new Denny and renovation of Chief Sealth International High School nearby. A large grassy field will front 30th SW, where the main school building is now, and the district is holding that open for potential construction of a new elementary school in the future (no plan or funding at this point, so it’s NOT the near-future).
5:08 PM UPDATE: River Steenson from BNB confirms the window bag is related to abatement. He also says demolition of the Denny smokestack has been moved up to tomorrow. Sorry, no explosives – they’ll be using heavy equipment to munch away at it bit by bit.
(EDITOR’S NOTE: This story has been updated since original publication with the addition of a letter from SPS Superintendent Dr. Susan Enfield regarding the process for choosing a new Sealth principal.)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
“After seven years, I’m ready to do something different, and challenge myself in different ways,” explains John Boyd, announcing his departure as the longtime principal of Chief Sealth International High School, which is also his alma mater.
Boyd has accepted a position as an executive director, supervising principals and schools, for Highline Public Schools, the district immediately south of Seattle, and the new job won’t take him far – his part of that district will include White Center.
He is announcing his resignation with a letter today (read it at the end of this story). Boyd also spoke with West Seattle Blog, and told us: “I had three main goals when I came to Sealth – improve the image of the school, recruit neighborhood kids – make it a place where people in the community felt like they could send their kids – and to improve academic achievement. I feel good about making progress in all those areas.”
Sealth was in the spotlight last fall as it moved into a newly renovated building, and this year brings another milestone – Seattle Public Schools’ first co-located middle and high schools, as the new Denny International Middle School opens next door. Sealth’s enrollment is skyrocketing, too, “going from 800 students to more than 1,100, and (next year) close to 1,200, with the second-highest wait list behind Garfield,” Boyd notes.
To help with the transition, he says, he will stay on at Sealth “as long as Susan (Enfield, interim SPS superintendent) needs me. … It’s really important that there’s continuity, I told (both districts). I’ll have my fingers in both worlds for a while.”
But he’s confident Sealth has a bright future, even under somebody else’s leadership: “The school’s at a place where it will continue to thrive and succeed. There’s a great group of people in place there. It’s a school that people have a lot of confidence in.”
Click ahead to read Boyd’s letter to the Sealth community (and, added 11:55 am, Dr. Enfield’s letter to the Sealth community explaining the principal-selection process):Read More
The construction fence is up around the original Denny International Middle School, which will be demolished before summer’s end, to be replaced by tennis courts, a softball field, play equipment, and a big open field where another school might be built someday – Denny reopens in its new building adjacent to nearby Chief Sealth International High School this fall. The old-Denny site’s contractor BNBuilders has sent a newsletter to share with the community – detailing which buildings will go first, with a site map included; you can see it here (PDF).
The big move is on for Denny International Middle School. Those truck trailers we showed you the other night – when they were parked at Boren – are now busy helping move boxes, furniture, and more out of the old Denny and into destinations including the new. More photos after the jump:Read More
No, the semi-truck trailers lined up in the parking lot at vacant Boren School on Delridge don’t mean anyone’s moving in. They’re staging for a move involving two other campuses – the big migration, starting tomorrow afternoon, from the old Denny International Middle School to the new one alongside nearby Chief Sealth International High School.
When we asked Seattle Public Schools about the truck trailers, suspecting they had something to do with the Denny move – which precedes abatement work to prepare for demolition, as explained at last week’s informational meeting – we learned something else: Boren, 2+ miles from Denny, is being used as staging because of a big sporting event at the Southwest Athletic Complex east of Denny this weekend, so that parking lot is off-limits. That’s according to SPS spokesperson Teresa Wippel, who says this notice went to Denny-area residents today:
Denny International Middle School will be relocating, beginning this Thursday, June 23rd. School District staff will be moving furniture and equipment to the new building, continuing into early next week. “No Parking” signs will be posted along the west and south sides of the building as well as along 29th AVE SW between SW Cloverdale St and SW Trenton St. and you will see moving trailers on these streets.
On Saturday, June 25, and Sunday, June 26, the Southwest Athletic Complex will be the site of the Pacific Northwest Junior Olympics Track and Field Championships. A large crowd is expected.
Information about, and the schedule for, the track/field meet is on its website.
(CLICK FOR FULL-SIZE VERSION: Top of the rendering is west, left is south, right is north)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
For nearby residents, a meeting last night was a chance to voice concerns and ask questions about what will happen over the next six months of demolition and construction, imminent now that Denny International Middle School‘s new building adjacent to nearby Chief Sealth International High School is almost done.
But for a few others at last night’s meeting with members of the project team for the forthcoming transformation of the current Denny site into sports facilities and park space, it was a chance to be sure that the work they had done two years earlier hadn’t somehow changed in the meantime.
Through months of meetings in 2008 and 2009, the original Design Team for the Denny site – including community members as well as school staffers and other stakeholders – had brainstormed, analyzed, and planned. What emerged in 2009, was the final “preferred plan” – see it in our story from its debut.
As you can see if you compare it to the newest graphic, atop this story, what was shown at last night’s meeting was fairly close in its details. But Mary Quackenbush and Sandra Melo, who had been there through the Design Team process, noticed a difference or two.
(CLICK FOR FULL-SIZE VERSION: Top of the rendering is west, left is south, right is north)
That’s the final layout of what will take the place of the current Denny International Middle School buildings at 30th/Thistle/Cloverdale, once they are demolished after the school year ends. BNBuilders, the contractor on the project, has just shared the rendering along with news that’s about to be distributed in the Denny-area neighborhoods, via door-hanger flyers: A community meeting to discuss the demolition/construction plan is scheduled for 6-8 pm June 14th at nearby Southwest Community Center. According to River Steenson from BNBuilders, “The agenda will cover an introduction of the project team and key members from the Seattle Public Schools district, Bassetti Architects, BNBuilders, etc. We’ll describe the project, review the schedule, what neighbors can expect to see over the coming months, answer any questions, etc.”
As for that demolition schedule – we’re told the contractor will take over the site on Monday, June 27th, days after school ends. After abatement work – removal of asbestos, doors, windows, etc. – actual teardown is likely to start in mid-July. Denny’s summer operations will be in the new adjacent-to-Chief-Sealth building (Denny’s new official address will be 2601 SW Kenyon). As noted here earlier this week, a June 11th farewell-to-the-old-building event is in the works.