West Seattle schools: Milestone for new Arbor Heights Elementary

July 29, 2015 at 6:07 pm | In Arbor Heights, West Seattle news, West Seattle schools | 2 Comments

(Photo by Scott Thomas)
11 months after crews began the process of building the new Arbor Heights Elementary by demolishing the old one, construction has reached a milestone, with structural steel going up. Both Scott Thomas and Darren Pilon sent photos today.

(This photo and next by Darren Pilon)
We also have an update on the construction plan – Seattle Public Schools is building to the maximum possible capacity, about 660, rather than to the smaller option, 500 students. This is according to district spokesperson Tom Redman; the decision had not been made when the last pre-construction community meeting was held, nor had it been made when we asked a few times in the ensuing months.

Arbor Heights students and staff will spend their second year in interim quarters at the Boren Building starting in September, with enrollment projected at about 400. As of right now, the plan to occupy the new building for the 2016-2017 school year is still on. That’s three years earlier than what the district was planning until the Arbor Heights community convinced SPS leadership that they couldn’t serve students appropriately for that much longer in the old, crumbling buildings.

‘Something more to contribute’: Award-winning music leader Marcus Pimpleton announces he’s leaving Denny and Sealth

July 29, 2015 at 10:08 am | In West Seattle news, West Seattle schools, WS culture/arts | 13 Comments

Our area’s most-renowned music educator has announced he’s leaving for a new career direction, in another school district. Multiple award winner Marcus Pimpleton has told the Denny International Middle School and Chief Sealth International High School communities about his departure; he’s staying with the summertime Seattle Public Schools-wide All-City Band program, but otherwise, he is moving into a school-administration role in the Bellevue district. With permission, we share his e-mail announcement in its entirety:

To my Denny and Chief Sealth Family,

It is with mixed emotions that I formally share the news that I will be leaving the Denny and Sealth community this fall to accept the position of Assistant Principal at Interlake High School in the Bellevue School District. I have had the privilege of working with the band students of Denny and Sealth for over 13 years now and it has been a source of great joy and the highlight of my life thus far. It is a tremendous understatement for me to say that this was a difficult process.

Denny and Sealth will forever hold a special place in my heart, both from my time as a student and as an educator. My time at Denny and Sealth has been full of amazing memories and milestones I shall not soon forget. I have been blessed to be a part of thousands of students making their way through the transformational power and discipline music. From the Denny Dolphin Marching Band’s first parade as the only middle school marching band in Seattle Public Schools, to the numerous middle and high school trips to places like New Orleans, New York, Washington D.C., Honolulu and Anaheim, it has been a tremendous ride. There have been amazing partnerships with local artists and community organizations as well as some pretty phenomenal concerts including the Music Night Out, Soul Jambalaya, and Band Jam. Together we have coordinated over 300 student musical performances in school and community events locally, regionally, and nationally – concrete opportunities for students to apply and demonstrate their learning in real and meaningful ways as opposed to a standardized test. It has been a tremendous blessing for me to have had this opportunity to live, learn, and serve in my community, and I pray for your continued musical success in the years ahead.

Over this past school year I have done a great deal of reflecting on the past and thinking about the future through the University of Washington’s Danforth Educational Leadership program and while I love engaging students in music making activities, I have come to believe that I have something more to contribute to the profession in developing the capacity of adults and of school systems for the improvement of the learning experience provided to our students most in need. The opportunity to learn and serve in a highly successful, highly diverse setting as a part of a strong and experienced leadership team like the one at Interlake High School is really the best thing for my career, professional learning, and goals. This new role will provide me with the next step and prepare me for more effective instructional leadership at home or in another high needs community down the road. I hope that through my example, my students will see learning as a lifelong pursuit and find the fortitude to pursue their calling and take the necessary risks in order to grow.

To my students, I want you to know that of the many aspects of this job that I will miss, the most difficult part will be leaving all of you. It has been fun watching you all as you came in, many times as tiny fourth graders to one of our spring break or summer music camps, and to watch your growth as musicians and leaders as you approached your departure for college. While I would have loved nothing more than to continue working with all of you, I believe that every student, in every school deserves access to rich and engaging teachers and curriculum and that it takes high quality school leaders to ensure that happens. I want to learn what it takes to be the type of leader that can help to ensure that all students have access to the high level instruction and experiences that put them on the path for successes in school, college, and life. This is a necessary step for me to do that. I will miss working with you all during the school year, but am excited to share that I have been invited to continue as the Director and Program Administrator for the Seattle All-City Marching Band. Next year we will be celebrating our 65th anniversary and it will be my 25th year as a part of that program. I would love to see many of you participating next summer.

Until we meet again,
Marcus J. Pimpleton

As mentioned in his announcement, Pimpleton himself is an alumnus of both Sealth and Denny. We will be following up with Denny and Sealth principals to ask about plans for who will be leading the programs he’s leaving. (Photo by WSB’s Patrick Sand, taken during last Friday’s Band Jam at SWAC)

West Seattle scene: Freshening up the Sanislo playground

July 28, 2015 at 4:44 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle schools | 3 Comments

Thanks to Denise for the photos from Sanislo Elementary School‘s playground, which she reports, “has a new coat of paint! Per [principal] Mr. Rhodes, a Sanislo parent/family repainted the playground. So nice & bright for the kids!”

Seattle Public Schools students are at the exact midpoint of summer vacation – six weeks since the last day of last year, six weeks to the first day of next year (September 9th). Are you having a school-beautification project before the fall? Please consider letting us know (editor@westseattleblog.com) so we can cover it – thanks!

AS-IT-HAPPENED COVERAGE: Official state hearing for what would be West Seattle’s first charter school

July 21, 2015 at 6:12 pm | In Arbor Heights, West Seattle news, West Seattle schools | 55 Comments

SUMMARY: Twenty people spoke tonight at the only local hearing the Washington Charter School Commission will have for Summit Public Schools‘ proposal to open West Seattle’s first charter school in a supermarket-turned-church building in Arbor Heights. Only one was a charter-school critic. Another voiced some skepticism. The other 17, including Summit employees and even a recent graduate from a Bay Area Summit school, voiced strong support. The speakers were chosen in a drawing; when they were done, time remained, and many more numbers were called, but almost all those ticketholders seemed to have vanished. Meantime, the commission will make its decision in mid-August and is still taking written comments.

Below, our as-it-happened coverage of tonight’s meeting:


6:12 PM: We’re at what will become, if the state Charter School Commission approves, the home of the first charter school in West Seattle, where three commission members are in attendance for an official public hearing/forum on the proposal. Summit Schools, a California-based charter operator, wants to open a middle-/high-school campus at 9601 35th SW, just purchased by a charter-development firm from Freedom Church (which is leasing back the space until the project gets under way). We’ll be reporting live as the hearing goes.

Joshua Halsey, executive director of the commission (whose members include West Seattleite Steve Sundquist, former member of the Seattle Public Schools board), has just welcomed attendees and explained the process, that the commission will vote to approve or reject Summit’s application in mid-August. Two other commissioners are here, including Trish Millines Dziko, who leads the Technology Access Foundation, which has its headquarters in White Center.

Halsey says speakers will have up to 2 minutes each (longer if they need translation services). A stenographer is here to record the comments. A rough estimate of the crowd? Maybe 100 people, seated in the Freedom pews. Written comments are being accepted, by e-mail and postal mail, between now and July 31st, Halsey says.

And with that, Jen Davis Wickens, Summit’s chief regional officer for Washington, begins her presentation. (We spoke with her for our most-recent story on the proposal, which we’ve been covering since the first of the year, after finding out about it via an application in city Department of Planning and Development files.)

She first shows, on the big screens here in the cavernous former supermarket, a shot from “signing day,” a celebration of college acceptance among Summit schools.

Click to read the rest of AS-IT-HAPPENED COVERAGE: Official state hearing for what would be West Seattle’s first charter school…

West Seattle schools: 3 more portables headed for Schmitz Park

July 14, 2015 at 9:04 am | In West Seattle news, West Seattle schools | 16 Comments

West Seattle’s most populous elementary school, Schmitz Park, is getting three more portables for the coming school year, and Seattle Public Schools says they’ll be delivered later this week. One single portable classroom, transported in two sections, is scheduled to arrive around 4:30 am Friday (July 17th); the next day, Saturday around 5:30 am, two single portable classrooms, moved in four sections, are due. SPS says they’re coming from Olympic Hills Elementary in the north end and the route/date/time are all determined by SDOT for city streets, WSDOT for the I-5 portion of the move. You’ll see “No Parking” signs placed today where they’ll be needed.

According to the most-recent enrollment projections we found online, SPE is expecting 642 students this fall; that’s up more than 30 from last year and just a few under the capacity for which its new campus is being built on Genesee Hill (scheduled to open in fall 2016). Meantime, SPS also says portables will be moved to Pathfinder K-8 and West Seattle Elementary next month – more on that when it gets closer.

What might West Seattle’s first charter school be like? Here’s what Summit Public Schools’ regional executive says

July 8, 2015 at 10:30 pm | In Arbor Heights, West Seattle news, West Seattle schools | 33 Comments

(WSB photo, June 2015: 35th/Roxbury site purchased for charter-school development)

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Before California-based charter-school operator Summit Public Schools even opens its first two campuses in our state, it’s in the thick of awareness-raising for its pending-state-approval third one, a middle/high school at a supermarket-turned-church in Arbor Heights.

That awareness-raising includes a public forum at the planned West Seattle site on July 21st – a key test Summit must pass before the state Charter School Commission decides whether to let it go ahead with its plan (which is spelled out in this 472-page application).

We’ve been reporting on the Arbor Heights plan since we dug early word out of a city file at the start of the year. But much of our coverage in the ensuing six months has focused on the physical plan for the school, planned for the southwest corner of 35th/Roxbury, the property recently sold by Freedom Church/Jesus Center to Washington Charter School Development for $4.75 million. Meanwhile, our reports have sparked comment discussions on what might or might not happen at the school. While voters in our state approved charter schools – which are public schools, run with public dollars (explained here) – three years ago, so far only one is open.

More are about to launch – the prospective operator of West Seattle’s first charter school, Summit, is getting ready to open two charter high schools in the International District and in Tacoma next month. The school year starts in mid-August; they’re moving into the locations on August 3rd. While overseeing all that, the woman in charge of Summit’s operations in this state – including the West Seattle middle/high school – sat down with us for a conversation this week.

Click to read the rest of What might West Seattle’s first charter school be like? Here’s what Summit Public Schools’ regional executive says…

One West Seattle classroom for 1st year of city preschool program

July 6, 2015 at 1:24 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle schools | 16 Comments

When the levy-funded Seattle Preschool Program launches this fall, one of its first 12 classrooms will be in West Seattle. That’s according to a city announcement sent to media outlets today, listing the locations at which the program will begin this September. The announcement says the Community Day School Association, including a location described as “Delridge,” will be among the first providers. For specifics, we followed up with Jason Kelly from Mayor Murray’s office, which sent the announcement; he says the CDSA site at Highland Park Elementary will have one classroom for the SPP. If you’re interested in applying for a spot in the program – which the city says will expand year by year, find the application here.

West Seattle High School Class of 1970: Almost reunion time!

July 1, 2015 at 8:50 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle schools | Comments Off

Thanks to Verne for sharing this in case you or somebody you know graduated from West Seattle High School in 1970:

We are looking forward to seeing you Saturday July 18th, 12-4 pm. Class of ’70 is having “Our 45th Reunion Potluck Picnic” at Alki Shelter #1 (the only shelter) on the grass by 61st and 62nd SW and Alki Ave. Come down and join your classmates for some casual fun in the sun. We had enough funds for the shelter and 4 tables, so this is free this time. Might want to bring a chair, something to share, and beverage; we’ll have some water and paper plates available. We don’t have everyone’s emails so please forward this to your classmate friends and invite them to join us. We hope to see you there. I bet we see some kids, grandkids, and dogs too.

Your reps, Cathy Westwood McLynne and Jami Hanning Vaux

P.S. You can use the “Share This” button below this story to do exactly what they suggest – options include e-mailing the link as well as sharing to your favorite social-media channel.

35th/Roxbury charter-school updates: Site sale finalized; new development plan; local forum scheduled

June 22, 2015 at 3:42 pm | In Arbor Heights, West Seattle news, West Seattle schools | 37 Comments

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Four updates today on the planned charter middle/high school at what’s now the Freedom Church/Jesus Center on the southwest corner of 35th/Roxbury, almost six months after we discovered the proposal:

DEAL CLOSED: The nonprofit that’s developing the school for California-based charter operator Summit Public Schools, Washington Charter School Development, has closed the deal to buy the property. King County records show the purchase price was $4,750,000, almost $2 million more than the site’s 2008 sale price.

TWO-PHASE SITE DEVELOPMENT: Once we found the records of the purchase, we started checking on the status of the plan to remodel and add onto the former supermarket building at the site, and discovered a change in the plan: It’s now going to be developed in two phases, confirms a spokesperson for WCSD, which is affiliated with Los Angeles-based Pacific Charter School Development. First, they’ll remodel the existing building, and they’ve applied for a building permit to do that. The proposed additions (shown here a month ago) would be in a second phase. The school itself would be phased in anyway – Summit says it would start with 6th and 9th grades and add middle/high grades each year until fully enrolled as 6th through 12th.

CHURCH STAYING TFN: Summit Public Schools is still more than a year away from its proposed opening (and awaiting state approval, required because charter schools operate with public funding). So in the meantime, WCSD says, Freedom Church/Jesus Center is “renting back the building for the near future to allow the Church to continue providing its outstanding and award-winning community service in West Seattle while plans for the school are being finalized.” In addition to the church, the center also works with a variety of community programs and partners, including the Seattle Youth Violence Prevention Initiative.

PUBLIC FORUM NEXT MONTH: According to the calendar for the Washington Charter School Commission – which will have to approve Summit’s application (linked here) before it can open the school – a public forum is planned at the site as part of the process (as mentioned in our previous update), 6 pm July 21st.

West Seattle High School athlete in the house? Read this

June 21, 2015 at 7:13 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle schools, WS & Sports | Comments Off

School’s out but some students are preparing for next school year already – which leads to a reminder from West Seattle High School athletic director Trevor Leopold, who asked us to share it: Summer conditioning is available for all athletes playing next year, including incoming threshold – “report to the WSHS weight room at 9 am tomorrow” (Monday, June 22nd). If you didn’t turn in the packet(s) for the fall-sport player(s) in the family by this past Friday, your next chance starts Wednesday, August 12th, with the deadline Friday, August 14th; Leopold says the school “will NOT be accepting participation fees at this time. However, there will be a possibility of a small equipment fee in the fall.” Sport-specific information ahead:

Click to read the rest of West Seattle High School athlete in the house? Read this…

Explorer West students share idea for creating low-cost housing

June 21, 2015 at 2:44 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle people, West Seattle schools | 6 Comments

(From left, teacher Tim, students Jackson, Grant, Henry, Riley)

As we noted in an earlier story, Explorer West Middle School (WSB sponsor) 8th graders are tasked with working in groups on major projects to research, plan, and present big ideas to “change the world.” Rather than just let their ideas and proposals stay within the confines of the campus, most if not all of the groups found ways to share them with the community. In the case of one group, its members wrote a story about their project and invited us to publish it:

Four Explorer West Middle School students – Riley Walden, Jackson Cecil, Henry Burton, and Grant Gerberding – started a project to reduce homelessness in King County and Seattle.

The project assigned by History/Social Studies teacher Tim Owens was to research, plan, do, and analyze the data, then present it to panelists. They decided to research on housing for homeless people.

One of the group members, Riley Walden, pitched his idea of using retrofitted shipping containers as temporary or even permanent homes. They decided to specifically work on this idea, and with more research, they found that Seattle was a perfect place to house the containers.

Click to read the rest of Explorer West students share idea for creating low-cost housing…

Congratulations to South Seattle College’s Class of 2015!

June 19, 2015 at 10:18 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle schools | 4 Comments

(Members of the 2015 graduating class – photo courtesy South Seattle College)
Tonight at Benaroya Hall downtown, South Seattle College (WSB sponsor) became this year’s final West Seattle school to celebrate its commencement. The photo and announcement are from SSC:

South Seattle College celebrated the achievements of its 2015 graduating class at the 45th Commencement … All told, more than 800 graduates received degrees and certificates surrounded by cheering family, friends and South faculty.

“Graduates, you need to be very pleased and proud of your accomplishments and completion of your certificates, two-year and four-year degrees,” South Seattle College President Gary Oertli said to the full house at Benaroya Hall. “I’m truly proud and honored to share this special occasion with you. Your hard work, drive, and commitment have helped you earn this special day.”

This year’s commencement address was delivered by Class of 2015 graduate David Yama. Yama, who dropped out of high school at the age of 14, started at South to earn his GED, and today will graduate with an associate of science degree. This year, Yama has been recognized as the top-scholar on the All-Washington Academic Team and also earned a spot on the All-USA academic team as the top-scholar. During the ceremony, Yama was honored by Congressman Jim McDermott for his outstanding academic accolades. Yama will continue his education in pursuit of a doctorate thanks in large part to the Jack Kent Cooke scholarship, which he will be awarded with a value of up to $40,000/year for the next three years.

South’s 2015 graduating class is as diverse as the degrees and certificates they obtained. Awards included bachelor of applied-science degrees, associate transfer degrees (which open up the opportunity to transfer to four-year colleges and universities to pursue bachelor’s degrees), high-school diplomas, and associate degrees and certificates that prepare graduates to enter the workforce with desirable skill sets.

Summer quarter at South will begin on Monday, June 29.

For coverage of our area’s high-school graduations, see the links on the right sidebar.

Student safety: How SPD followed up after chief’s Denny visit

June 17, 2015 at 4:05 pm | In Crime, Safety, West Seattle news, West Seattle police, West Seattle schools, Westwood | 2 Comments

(WSB photo from June 1st @ Denny)
Two weeks after Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole visited Denny International Middle School and heard students request more help from police in staying safe (WSB coverage here), members of her department followed up to start making good on that promise. Southwest/South Precincts Crime Prevention Coordinator Mark Solomon shares these notes of what happened when they visited the Denny/Sealth campus this past Monday, one day before the last day of school, particularly to lay the groundwork for a safer start next fall:

* SPD Reps met up with students and staff at 12:40 at classroom

* Walked SW Kenyon Street between 2600 Block and Delridge SW

* Walked from Kenyon & Delridge to Holden & Delridge; observed Holden Stairs; returned to Denny via same route

* Mark drove routes between Denny/Sealth Campus and Westwood Village to observe areas about which students expressed concerns.

* SPD Officers spoke with students about ways to minimize their chances for victimization (Robbery/Assault)

* Discussed the possibility of SPD officers getting together with students at the beginning of the school year to discuss safety measures; being proactive and focus on prevention vs. being reactionary.

Measures in Progress

* Mark will work with Youth Ambassadors and Denny Staff through the summer to engage surrounding neighbors to form Block Watch groups with have Denny/Sealth student safety as a prime focus.

* Mark will facilitate communication between the Youth Ambassadors Program and The Seattle Youth Violence Prevention Initiative regarding the Safe Passages Program (a group of adult volunteers who provide a presence in the Rainier Beach community between the 1400-1800 hrs on school days to deter youth violence and disorder). The goal is to try to implement this program for the Denny/Sealth campus area by the fall of 2015.


* Raise tree canopy on SW Kenyon Street Between 2400 – 2600 Blocks. Tree canopy should be no lower than 8′ to ensure good lines of sight for pedestrians transiting SW Kenyon ST.

* Request SDOT conduct additional vegetation clearing at dead end of SW Kenyon ST & 24th Ave SW.

* Request SDOT conduct vegetation clearing along trail/walkway/bridge over creek between Delridge WY SW & 24th Ave SW along SW Kenyon Street (Longfellow Creek Legacy Trail).

* Request additional vegetation clearing be done on the Holden Stairs, between Delridge WY SY & 20th Ave SW. (possible return of the goat herd?)

* Request vegetation clearing along the non-through streets of 26th Ave SW, 25th Ave SW and the North/South Alley that runs parallel between those two streets, between SW Thistle Street and SW Trenton ST. Students use these corridors to transit anyway; let’s open them up to reduce cover and concealment.

* SPD conduct student safety assembly at the beginning of the 2015-16 school year.

VIDEO: Congratulations, Chief Sealth International High School Class of 2015!

June 13, 2015 at 9:58 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle schools, Westwood | 4 Comments

(Sealth staff & students’ procession at start of this afternoon’s ceremony)

Story by Tracy Record
Photos/video by Patrick Sand
West Seattle Blog co-publishers


You probably know that’s short for “You Only Live Once.” It started and ended what language-arts teacher Breanna Whited told the Chief Sealth International High School Class of 2015 at its graduation ceremony this afternoon. (More on her speech later.)

Though commencement is considered to be the start of the rest of graduates’ lives, as Sealth principal Aida Fraser-Hammer detailed, the 267 graduating seniors already have achieved quite bit. She went through a long list of achievements including more than 20,000 hours in community service and $1.2 million in college scholarships.

The principal noted some of the class’s “bold” accomplishments – from a World Water Week focus on the unglamorous but life-saving topic of toilets, to Hafid Yassin‘s dunk seen ’round the world.

The first student to speak was Timothy Wo, who observed that “we’re all thinking right now … ‘it’s over’.” (That’s him in the frame grab below, but the video is of the entirety of the rest of the ceremony, beginning with the principal’s speech.)

To get to “the promised land of graduation,” he said, he and his classmates “crossed the land of procrastination.” Whatever lies ahead for them in the immediate future, he expressed confidence they would “reap success, whatever it is, and make it into whatever it can be.”

Another student speaker, Monica Harris, urged her classmates to “stand tall – we have nothing to fear.”

And she celebrated the fact that “by persevering, we have proven we deserve to be here today.” The proud family and friends had proven that too, and they were saluted during the ceremony.

They of course exhibited plenty of exhilaration themselves:

Back to staff speaker Whited, introduced as “hilarious and beautiful.”

She spoke warmly and personally to her now-former students, saying she watched them while chaperoning the senior prom three weeks ago: “It was OK for me to cry there, which I did, because I had to be strong to speak to all of you today.”

Mentioning she was a 1985 high-school graduate, she said, “I am you in 30 years … and yes, you’ll still be this fabulous.” With the help, Whited continued, of three things to remember, starting with: “Apologize quickly, even when you are right – you will be loved and you will be happy. It’s better to be happy than to be right.”

The essence of her other advice: Shut down your “negative self-talk,” and “do what you love,” which she said she’s been doing for decades. And shortly thereafter, the Chief Sealth Class of 2015 was off to find a way to follow her advice.

OTHER NOTES: One of the valedictorians and the salutatorian, Sophia Boyd and Olivia Boyd, are sisters, and the daughters of former longtime CSIHS principal John Boyd. Samuel Orlin also is valedictorian. … SPS executive director of southwest schools Israel Vela had a stand-in, northwest ED Jon Halfaker, because he was at his son’s graduation in Kent … Last year, umbrellas were in use because of the threat of rain; this year, one was in view because of the sun:

Congratulations! Madison students honored @ districtwide Science & Engineering Fair

June 12, 2015 at 9:00 am | In West Seattle news, West Seattle schools | 4 Comments

Thanks to Madison Middle School science teacher Fred Jenner for sharing word of students’ success at the districtwide Science & Engineering Fair – and congratulations to the winners!

Madison students received many awards at the 17th Annual Science & Engineering Fair! There were more than 200 projects displayed from around the district. We are proud to say that we had students from every grade level win awards. Here they are:

Engineering Category (This was the first year that engineering projects were officially part of the fair):

From the 6th Grade:

Best Data Analysis: Will Cell (Project Title: All The Eggs, Less The Mess):

Best Young Inventor: Natalie Hinkey (Project Title: Water Monitor Alarm):

Most Likely To Be Patented: Livia Woelfle (Project Title: The Convertible High Heel Shoe)

From the 7th Grade:

Best Aeronautics Project: Svetoslav Nikolov (Project Title: Which Airplane Wing is the Most Useful and Aerodynamic?)

From the 8th Grade:

Most Original: Alina Guyon (Project Title: Homes For All)

Inquiry Category – From the 8th Grade:

Most Original: Angelique Brock & Madeline Rainwater (Project Title: Fear Factor)

Congratulations to all!

VIDEO: Congratulations, Seattle Lutheran High School Class of 2015!

June 12, 2015 at 3:06 am | In West Seattle news, West Seattle schools | Comments Off

Congratulations to the Seattle Lutheran High School Class of 2015, shown in our video as they walked up to the entrance of the Menashe Family Gym on campus for their commencement ceremony on Thursday night.

Inside the gym, they became the 35th class to graduate from SLHS. The program listed 28 graduating seniors, including class president Maddy Winter, who gave the welcome and invocation.

Later in the program, the grads were to hear from valedictorian Jeffrey Baxter and salutatorian Alexandria Naftchi. Proud families, friends, and faculty filled the gym to cheer them on:

The class scripture exhorted them to “… Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

One local graduation remains … Chief Sealth International High School, 2 pm Saturday at Southwest Athletic Complex.

‘We’ll work hard to keep the boat moving forward’: Meet West Seattle High School’s new girls-basketball coach, Darnell Taylor

June 11, 2015 at 9:13 am | In West Seattle news, West Seattle schools, WS & Sports | 3 Comments

By Randall Hauk
Reporting for West Seattle Blog

West Seattle High School has announced that Darnell Taylor will succeed Sonya Elliott as head coach of its girls-varsity basketball team.

“Coach Taylor lives in the West Seattle community and wants to see our Girls Basketball program succeed at the highest level,” WSHS athletic director Trevor Leopold tells WSB. “He will demand a lot of the players, and, by doing so, will be able to build relationships, not only with the girls on the team but the community, as well.“

Taylor, 36, spent the 2014-15 season as an assistant at Liberty High School in Renton, helping head coach Carly Fromdahl guide the Patriots to a district championship. Despite the success, Taylor tells WSB that the commute from his West Seattle home to the east side of Renton was forcing him to consider taking a break from high-school coaching, as he had prior to last season to be able to help at home with the pending birth of his son DJ, now 3 years old (with his dad in the photo, above right).

Click to read the rest of ‘We’ll work hard to keep the boat moving forward’: Meet West Seattle High School’s new girls-basketball coach, Darnell Taylor…

Congratulations! Holy Rosary School 7th graders = baseball champs

June 10, 2015 at 9:32 am | In West Seattle news, West Seattle schools, WS & Sports | 2 Comments

More congratulations as the school year and sports seasons come to an end. Thanks to Ann Conway for the photos and report:

Congratulations to Holy Rosary School‘s 7th-grade boys’ CYO team (National League – predominantly 7th graders) who took first place. The game was played at Walt Hundley Playfield on Sunday the 8th. Go Gators!

During the game, the Holy Rosary Gator made an appearance and played a pivotal role while in deep centerfield.

P.S. Holy Rosary’s school year ends Friday after morning Mass; tomorrow is a short day, too.

VIDEO: Congratulations, West Seattle High School Class of 2015!

June 9, 2015 at 10:20 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle schools | 6 Comments

Story by Tracy Record
Photos by Patrick Sand
West Seattle Blog co-publishers

The 220+ members of the West Seattle High School Class of 2015 are now celebrating the first night of the rest of their lives, after receiving their diplomas in the breezy sun and shadows of Southwest Athletic Complex, where family and friends filled the stands.

Graduation is a time of “mixed feelings,” as pointed out by valedictorian Tin Vo, who recounted some of the “life lessons” he and his classmates learned.

He closed by wishing them all the “best of luck,” drawing laughs by concluding “May the Force be with you.”

The class’s motto was “Our goal is to influence history, rather than merely observing it.” Toward that end, one of their class advisers, science teacher Jeff Ursino, asked, “What kind of history do you think is worth making?”

He suggested it wasn’t the kind you’ll find in a museum someday, saying that “history is made bravely, and in the company of people we love.” His advice: “Worry less about who you are, and ponder who you want to be.”

Their other adviser, Tom Burggraff, offered advice he suggested he’s known for, “Go out and be somebody.”

Principal Ruth Medsker warned that there will be times along the road that “you’re going to want to pack it up,” but, she said, just “persist … There’s only one you, and you will pass this way but once. Do it right.”

And stop to celebrate the successes, advised School Board director Marty McLaren, just before the presentation of diplomas, as joyful a ceremony as ever, with name-readers calling out each grad’s name loud and proud.

Then one final speaker, Sahra Ibrahim, who observed, “After today, life does not get any easier.”

But it gets different. And so off she and her classmates went, into that new life.

(Video to come – we’ll add it to the story as soon as it’s ready late tonight. P.S. 2 more local graduations to follow.)

ADDED 1 AM: Here as promised is the video – starting with the introduction of valedictorian Vo and continuing through the remaining 53 minutes of the ceremony:

More congratulations! Our Lady of Guadalupe three-peats as CYO baseball champions

June 8, 2015 at 2:56 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle schools, WS & Sports | Comments Off

One more round of good news on this sunny afternoon: Congratulations to Our Lady of Guadalupe‘s baseball team for winning the CYO championship!

The 7th / 8th grade boys win in convincing fashion over St. Al / John of Ballard/ Greenwood area to take the CYO American League crown. The win on Sunday makes 3 years in a row as CYO champions. Many of these boys will be moving on to high school next year, playing for WS, Vashon, O’Dea and Kennedy Catholic high schools next year; I’m sure we will be reading about their continued baseball achievements in years to come.

Back Row: Coach Peter, Nathan Smith, Luke Kramer, Jake Jonson, Aaron Barber, Ben Patacsil, Isaac Renz, Jaiden Harrington, Coach Jon

Front Row: Isaac Ajeto, Matthew Morin, Cristian Eastey, Kellen Carr, Wyatt Henry, Ryan Shimizu

Not Pictured: Chase Gaither, Caitlin Manning

Congratulations to the team, and thanks to Jon Morin (who is also proprietor of longtime WSB sponsor West Seattle Design Build) for the report and photo!

Homeschooling doesn’t all happen at home: West Seattle’s Family Learning Program wraps up its 4th year

June 7, 2015 at 8:28 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle schools | Comments Off

By Randall Hauk
Reporting for West Seattle Blog

The Family Learning Program, a West Seattle organization dedicated to providing “classes, clubs, and community for homeschooling families,” marked the end of its fourth academic year with its annual “Summer Send-Off” Friday at Southwest Teen Life Center in Westwood.

In addition to the program’s usual course schedule, program participants were invited to participate in a potluck luncheon and “fun zone” activities, including a variety of field-game races. Additionally, the FLP steering committee used the occasion to conduct the program’s inaugural scholarship fundraiser, raising $1,600 through a silent auction.

When the program launched in 2011 at what was then the Southwest Community Center, with which it partners in presenting the program, 25 families were participating, mostly from the West Seattle community it was created to serve. Of the nearly 80 families in the recently concluded session, some traveled from as far as Shoreline and Tacoma.

“When we founded this, there was no community for a diverse variety of homeschooling philosophies in West Seattle,” says Kathleen Lonergan, one of the program’s founders. “That is what we wanted to be.“

Click to read the rest of Homeschooling doesn’t all happen at home: West Seattle’s Family Learning Program wraps up its 4th year…

HAPPENING NOW: Car wash raising $ for Seattle Lutheran cheer

June 6, 2015 at 12:29 pm | In How to help, West Seattle news, West Seattle schools | 2 Comments

Have a vehicle that needs to be washed? First benefit car wash of the (almost) summer season – that we’ve heard of, anyway. It’s for the Seattle Lutheran High School cheer squad and they’re washing vehicles at the West Seattle Eagles parking lot in The Junction (4426 California SW) until 3:30 today, $10 donation.

VIDEO: Alki, Schmitz Park Elementaries help Southwest Seattle Historical Society celebrate start of Alki Homestead restoration

June 5, 2015 at 11:13 am | In West Seattle history, West Seattle news, West Seattle schools | 5 Comments

(Substituted Friday night: Jean Sherrard‘s panorama, courtesy SWSHS – see WSB view at story’s end)
ORIGINAL 11:13 AM REPORT: We’re on the lawn at the Alki Homestead / Fir Lodge, where a short ceremony and photo op has just wrapped up, to mark the start of the Homestead’s restoration.

(WSB Instagram clip as students arrived at the Homestead; more visuals on IG)
Students from Alki and Schmitz Park Elementaries walked over here to be part of a “group hug for the Homestead” photo coordinated by the Southwest Seattle Historical Society.

Joining them were two West Seattleites serving in county and city government, County Executive Dow Constantine and City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen.

The Homestead’s new owner, Dennis Schilling, was here too, and SWSHS executive director Clay Eals (with Rasmussen and Constantine in the photo added above) emceed.

From the two schools’ leadership: SPES assistant principal Liora Minkin and Alki principal Shannon Stanton:

P.S. This was also an anniversary of sorts – one year ago tomorrow, these same two schools gathered a half-block away outside the Log House Museum – home to SWSHS and the Homestead/Fir Lodge’s former carriage house – to celebrate the unveiling of the restored Admiral Way totem pole that now stands on the east side of the LHM’s grounds.

ADDED 1:30 PM: Adding photos, and our video of the quick speeches will follow (about 15 minutes total – added 7:21 pm, below).

(Added Saturday – the SWSHS version, shot from above)

Councilmember Rasmussen led the crowd in a chant about bringing back the Homestead’s famous fried chicken (new owner Schilling has said he’s not sure yet what kind of business the restored lodge will be home to); Executive Constantine told the kids to be sure to smile, since the photo will be part of history, and noted that while he’s a Schmitz Park alum, he’s not sure where his daughter Sabrina will be going in four years, since his house is on the Alki/Lafayette line.

Graduation season! Congratulations, MCHS HP grads; plus, dates for WSHS, SLHS, CSIHS ceremonies

June 4, 2015 at 1:13 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle schools | 2 Comments

June is graduation season, and one of West Seattle’s four high schools celebrated last night:

MIDDLE COLLEGE HIGH SCHOOL AT HIGH POINT: Thanks to teacher Alonzo Ybarra for permission to use a photo from the report on the website for MCHS – HP, which, as we’ve reported here and here, is facing closure. The celebration was last night at Neighborhood House’s High Point Center, where the school’s held classes for three years.

Three more graduations ahead in West Seattle – here are the dates/times/locations:

WEST SEATTLE HIGH SCHOOL: 6 pm Tuesday, June 9th, Southwest Athletic Complex (2801 SW Thistle) P.S. We’ve been asked to mention that leis are available for WSHS grads as part of a music-program fundraiser – full details here.

SEATTLE LUTHERAN HIGH SCHOOL: 7:30 pm Thursday, June 11th, Menashe Family Gym on campus (4100 SW Genesee)

CHIEF SEALTH INTERNATIONAL HIGH SCHOOL: 2 pm Saturday, June 13th, Southwest Athletic Complex

Congratulations! Madison Middle School musicians’ big wins

June 2, 2015 at 5:04 am | In West Seattle news, West Seattle schools, WS culture/arts | 9 Comments

Thanks to Sheryl Guyon for sharing photos and news of Madison Middle School musicians’ success

Madison Middle School has an award-winning Music Department. They competed this weekend at Music in the Parks in Silverwood, Idaho. Under the expert direction of Mr. Clark Bathum, the concert band won 1st place for their division!

The Orchestra and Jazz band were pleased to each win second place, most notably with an excellent rating. The competition was intense this year, with more than 1,800 music students attending from Northwest high schools and middle schools. The school is incredibly proud of Jonah Elbaum, who was awarded Outstanding Jazz Soloist:

As one of the youngest members of the jazz band, his award is exceptional. Perhaps the greatest compliment of all came at the end of the trip. The hotel manager noted that this was the most polite and respectful group of young people they have ever had stay at the hotel. Mr. Bathum expects the very best from his students and this remarkable group of young people never fails to deliver.

According to the Madison home page, you’ll be able to see the award-winning young musicians in concert before the school year ends – the orchestra and jazz concert is listed for this Thursday (June 4th), the band concert for next Monday (June 8th), both at 7 pm.

FOLLOWUP: Fauntleroy Creek salmon-release season wraps up

June 1, 2015 at 11:27 pm | In Environment, Fauntleroy, West Seattle news, West Seattle schools | Comments Off

(Photo by Dennis Hinton – creekside sign created by Taproot School)
One incredibly busy month of visits by salmon-raising schools – starting with Pathfinder K-8 on April 30th (WSB coverage here) – is over at Fauntleroy Creek. Judy Pickens has the wrapup report:

The last of 20 salmon releases in Fauntleroy Creek occurred May 28 when second- and fourth-graders from Concord Elementary brought their coho to Fauntleroy Park.

All told, volunteers with the Fauntleroy Watershed Council hosted 750 students this year and an additional 175 adults and younger siblings. Their participation in the Salmon in the Schools program resulted in the release of nearly 1,700 fry that will spend the next year in the creek.

Also this spring, volunteers documented 31 coho smolts leaving the creek for two years in saltwater, a dozen more than in 2014.

Next big season for volunteers on the creek will be this fall, when they watch for returning spawners – 19 last year.

West Seattle High School’s annual All-School Reunion next Saturday

June 1, 2015 at 5:53 pm | In West Seattle history, West Seattle news, West Seattle schools | Comments Off

As summer approaches, so do reunions – including some that span multiple years, like the annual West Seattle High School All-School Reunion, set for next Saturday. From the WSB inbox:

Calling all WSHS students and faculty, current and former, to join us at the first Saturday in June (6/6/15) annual All-School Reunion. 2-3 pm sign-in, 3-5:30 individual class reunions and program including honoring Hall of Fame inductees, Scholarship recipients and more. Renew your membership and receive a beautiful alumni license plate frame (while supplies last)! Sign up in advance for a group photo of family/friends/classmates by student photographers in their studio, just drop an email to wshsaa.98116@gmail.com for scheduling. AND HELP US SPREAD THE WORD BY SHARING THIS EVENT WITH ALL YOUR ALUMNI CONTACTS!

You can see a photo of the license-plate frame on the All-School Reunion’s Facebook event page.

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